Cinema Roundup: 12 Years a Slave

cinema roundup jan 9th (1)

This week sees the Irish release of the movie many US critics named as their best film of 2013 – 12 Years a Slave, an adaptation of the autobiography of Solomon Northup, a free black man who was illegally sold into slavery in 1853.

The film is directed by British film-maker Steve McQueen (Hunger, Shame), something which has drawn criticism from those who feel this is a story that should have been brought to the screen by an African-American director. Personally, I feel the film benefits from an outsider’s touch. Had it been made by an American it likely would have resulted in a far less nuanced film than the one McQueen gives us. In his version there are no cartoon villains or holier-than-thou heroes, rather it’s a film that deals in grey areas.

Chiwetel Ejiofor gives a stunning yet subtle central performance. His lack of showboating allows us to get inside the character’s head and feel the horror of his experiences. Benedict Cumberbatch and Michael Fassbender are outstanding as his captors.

It may be the second week in January but expect 12 Years to make most end of year movie lists come December. It’s also a strong favourite for this year’s Academy Awards.

On an altogether different note is Delivery Man, the latest nail in the coffin of Vince Vaughan’s once promising career. He plays a waster who learns the hundreds of children he fathered through multiple visits to a sperm bank during his college years now want to make contact with him. It’s a remake of a French-Canadian movie from a couple of years ago, and a laugh free affair.

Also opening this week is Collider, a sci-fi thriller involving time travel from Irish director Jason Butler, and The Railway Man, starring Colin Firth as a WWII veteran seeking revenge on the Japanese officer who oversaw his imprisonment.

By Eric Hillis