04-22-2018  11:19 am      •     
The Skanner Report
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NEWS BRIEFS

Think & Drink with Rinku Sen and Mary Li

Event takes place Wednesday, May 16, at Alberta Rose Theater ...

April 24 is Voter Registration Deadline for May 15 Primary Election

Tuesday, April 24, is voter registration and party choice deadline for May 15 Primary Election ...

Portland Libraries Celebrate National Poetry Month

April poetry events and recommended reading from Multnomah County libraries ...

PCRI Launches the Pathway 1000 Implementation Plan

Pathway 1000 a bold and ambitious 10-year displacement mitigation initiative ...

AG Rosenblum Launches New Resource on Oregon’s New Gun Safety Laws

One-page handout aims to educate Oregonians about the new law ...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

OPINION

The Skanner News Endorsements for May 2018 Elections

Read The Skanner News' endorsements for Multnomah County, Portland City Council and more ...

Will HUD Secretary Ben Carson Enforce the Fair Housing Act?

Julianne Malveaux questions HUD Secretary Ben Carson’s ability to enforce the Fair Housing Act ...

Waiting While Black in Philadelphia Can Get You Arrested

Reggie Shuford on the daily indignities African-Americans face in Philadelphia and around the country ...

Black People Must Vote or Reap the Consequences

Jeffrey Boney on the importance of voting in the Black community ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

ENTERTAINMENT

Kam Williams Special to The Skanner News



Twelve Years a SlaveSolomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) was a black man born free in upstate New York in 1808. A skilled carpenter and fiddler, he and his wife (Kelsey Scott) settled in Saratoga Springs where they were raising their children (Quvenzhane Wallis and Cameron Zeigler) when their American Dream turned into a nightmare.

For, in 1841, he was approached by a couple of white strangers (Taran Killam and Scoot McNairy) who offered him a high-paying job playing music with the circus in Washington, DC. However, upon arriving in the Capital, they instead sold him to a slave trader (Christopher Berry) who put Solomon in chains before shipping him to a cotton plantation the Deep South.

What ensued was a 12-year ordeal during which he was whipped whenever he attempted to protest his plight. Despite being tortured by a sadistic master (Michael Fassbender) determined to break his spirit, Solomon managed to not only maintain his sanity but his dignity to boot.

Furthermore, with the help of a kindly Canadian (Brad Pitt) passing through town, he was eventually able to inform abolitionists up North of his dire predicament, and was ultimately reunited with his very relieved family. Upon his emancipation in 1853, Solomon also penned and published a memoir chronicling the cruelty of his captivity in explicit detail.

Entitled 12 Years a Slave, the book became a runaway best-seller before it slipped into obscurity after the Civil War. Directed by Steve McQueen (Hunger), the screen version proves to be a fairly faithful adaptation of the eye-opening autobiography.

In a banner year for African-American film fare, this heartbreaking historical drama just might be the best of the bunch. The film has already been generating a ton of early Oscar buzz, thanks to a People's Choice Award coming courtesy of the Toronto International Film Festival.

Unapologetically graphic in its depiction of the institution of slavery, "12 Years a Slave" contains nary a comic aside ala Quentin Tarantino's similarly-themed "Django Unchained." Therefore, brace yourself for a relentlessly-gruesome endurance test featuring ever-escalating violence.

A sobering slave narrative recounting a recorded, real-life case of inhuman bondage.

 

Excellent (4 stars)

Rated R for violence, torture, sexuality, nudity and ethnic slurs

Running time: 133 minutes

Distributor: Fox Searchlight

 

 

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