Scott Marks 11:18 a.m., April 21
12 Years a Slave
Hollywood continues to pay reparations for Gone With the Wind with this elegiac adaptation of Solomon Northrup’s autobiographical saga of a free black man forced into bondage for a dozen years. They might just as well have named it The Passion of the Slave. Chiwetel Ejiofor suffers well under the immutable tongue and whip lashings of Paul Giamatti, Paul Dano, and Michael Fassbender, all playing scenery consuming variations on animalistic crackers we’ve come to despise in much better surroundings. (Say what you will, your money would be better spent renting Mandingo and Beloved.) In its own saintly manner, it's as exploitative as anything critics accused Django Unchained of being, minus Tarantino’s eye for idiosyncrasy and sense of humor. After correctly likening the film’s torture porn quotient to that of a Saw sequel, a colleague asked, “Who would want to see this movie?” Answer: Every voting member of the Academy. Steve McQueen (Shame) directed. 2013.
— Scott Marks