12 Years a Slave @ The Ross

The Look of Freedom Alonzo (Cameron Zeigler), Solomon (Chiwetel Ejiofor),  Margaret (Quvanzhané Wallis), and Anne (Kelsey Scott) Northup in New York

The Look of Freedom
Alonzo (Cameron Zeigler), Solomon (Chiwetel Ejiofor), Margaret (Quvanzhané Wallis), and Anne (Kelsey Scott) Northup in New York

Freedom. It never is given without a fight. Even if you were born as a free person of color moving and having your being in the United States of America, that birthright could be ripped from you at a moment’s notice, and from thenceforth, you had to work to take it back. 12 Years A Slave delves into this very real fact of life during antebellum slavery. Directed by British filmmaker Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave is a poignant quest. The film is based on the slave narrative of the same name written by Solomon Northup in 1853.

Bondage

Bondage

Needless to say, the story is brutal as it courses through the vein of the innocuous plantation regime. The film exposes the time wherein people salivated over the ownership of African flesh not only for labor and economic gain; also, McQueen draws out the psychological and emotional pleasure plantation owners enjoyed in having full possession of and the rights and title to the African body. Some easily judge this as insanity; but I strongly maintain that this practice is a part of sanity no human being should ever want to touch […] again.

Chiwetel Ejiofor stars, and his portrayal of Northup marks clearly his burden of representation. Yes, Northup is front-and-center but it is quite obvious in Ejiofor’s furrowed brow that he is telling the story of thousands who labored within that plantation system—some for life.

Patsey (Lupita Nyong'o) pleads with Northup to end her life.

Patsey (Lupita Nyong’o) pleads with Northup to end her life.

All of the usual suspects are dramatized to the fullest extent: capture and kidnap; rape of slave women; slave chains; the slave ship; the auction block; the separation of families; the ubiquitous crack of the overseer’s whip, and death. In each instance, McQueen dares us to look away.

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12 Years a Slave plays through November 28 at the Ross in Lincoln.

Listen to review of 12 Years a Slave on NET’s Friday Live! @ 45:56

http://netnebraska.org/interactive-multimedia/none/friday-live-emery-blagdon-and-his-healing-machine

Watch for in-depth Film • Television • & More reviews & commentary.

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Blue is the Warmest Color @ The Ross

Emma (Lea Seydoux) and Adela (Adela

Emma (Lea Seydoux) and Adèle (Adèle Exarchopoulos) share a tender moment.

Ah! Relationships! They come in all shapes and sizes. Blue is the Warmest Color is a story that will propel you straight into teenaged angst and over into adult love and all of its stirrings and pleasures. Directed by Tunisian-French director Abdellatif Kechiche, Blue is the Warmest Color explores the life of two women who practically devour each other in the name of love and then spit one out after a betrayal.

Adèle (played by the Bridget Bardot-esque Adèle Exarchopoulos) is a 15-year-old coming into her own sexual awakening, and Emma (played by Lea Seydoux) is the self-assured college art student with the hair of blue. The interesting feature of this film is Kechiche’s strong refrain from dramatizing the shortfall of a May-December romance; instead, the director concentrates on the elements of a relationship we all experience—no matter the age. There is the euphoria of love; the excitement of looking for that stranger who caught your eye on an ordinary day in the park; the furtive glances exchanged between parties at the nightclub; the calvacade of sex in the afternoon, and the athleticism it takes to get you to that place of utter depletion thereafter.

Adele and Emma

Adele and Emma

In the process, Kechiche moves us into the worlds of art and education—worlds Adèle and Emma rely on during their times of heartache. Adèle’s elementary school and her students serve as her refuge once her relationship takes a riveting turn. Emma immerses herself into her artwork and manages to strain an exhibit in a coveted art gallery.

Yet for all of his cinematic frolics, Kechiche overwhelms the eye with a nimiety of close-ups; he is entranced especially by lips, closing in on Adèle when she smokes or chomps down food or gobbles up her lover’s lips … feet … hands.

At times during the 3-hour movie, you beg for relief from the human face and body. May I please have a long shot of some trees? A plaza? Architecture?

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Blue is the Warmest Color plays through November 21 at The Ross in Lincoln.

Listen to review of Blue is the Warmest Color
on NET’S Friday Live! @ 43:26

http://netnebraska.org/interactive-multimedia/none/friday-live-emery-blagdon-and-his-healing-machine

Watch for in-depth Film • Television • & More reviews & commentary.

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The Summit @ The Ross

K2, The Summit

K2, The Summit

K2. The Summit. We all know of the majesty of Mount Everest. It is the highest mountain on earth. K2, its sibling is the second highest mountain on earth. It is located in the Baltistan region of Gilgit–Baltistan, Pakistan and the Taxkorgan Tajik Autonomous County of Xinjiang, China. It is a jagged, steep slope with a wall of ice called a serac, that would make you beg for its mercy as you climb. Yes, K2 demands respect, even reverence, but this mountain claims one in four mountain climbers who attempt to scale its walls. On August 1, 2008, K2 claimed the lives of eleven ambitious and experienced mountain climbers when an avalanche up rooted the fixed ropes installed to lead climbers as they descended the summit. Documentary filmmaker Nick Ryan explores the cause of these deaths in The Summit, his documentary about what is called the “deadliest day on the world’s most dangerous mountain.” The Summit is a terrifying reenactment of this expedition.

Gerard McDonnell, one of the casualties of The Summit

Gerard McDonnell, one of the casualties of The Summit

Ryan evokes a harrowing vulnerability within a frigid universe that is out there in the white of snow that hugs tightly to black mountains. Mountaineers whose bodies are packed into down parkas and other gear sleep—sleep?–in tents as a snow storm rages against the mountain; and it is night. Someone’s tent and all of his gear have been swept down the slope. He is open to the elements. Who will take him in? The rule is to “walk on by” climbers who are injured or on the brink of death. To help means not only a missed opportunity to reach the summit or the next camp base in time; to reach out and touch anybody on the trek could mean your own death.

The Summit is an excellent re-telling of events, and it is heartbreaking as each bio-sketch unfolds about the 11 courageous men who did not make it.

The Summit plays through November 7 at the Ross Media Arts Center in Lincoln.

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Blue Caprice ~ A Review

Screen Shot 2015-12-08 at 10.42.20 PM

Alexandre Moors’S Blue Caprice is a chilling film. This first time writer/director’s film imagines the backstory to the 23 days of terror in the Washington Metropolitan area instigated in October 2002 by John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo, better known as the D.C. Snipers. This film is haunting, and right from its opening, you know Moors has created a dramatization of events that will leave you feeling depressed, and he doesn’t let up. The atmosphere is cold, distant, and dreadful. Moors’s exploration of revenge, for example, uncovers how deep it cuts into the spirit and what revenge manifests in the human psyche once it is enacted.

Muhammad (Isaiah Washington) and Malvo (Tequan Richmond)

Muhammad (Isaiah Washington) and Malvo (Tequan Richmond)

What is alarming about this film is the danger many of our teenagers encounter when the usual suspects of societal systems are breached, and therefore leaves them open for anyone to facilitate their coming of age. I’m talking about family, church, and/or community. Without these systems and healthy guardianship, the intense need to belong makes them susceptible to forces that will destroy them. Isaiah Washington gives a superb performance as Muhammad, and he makes seamless his character’s transition from concerned surrogate father to seasoned sociopath. Tequan Richmond as Malvo illicits some sympathy because all the while you are thinking his parental abandonment at the age of 15 made him vulnerable to Muhammad’s abuse and manipulation.

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