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On This Day in History...

Have you seen 12 Years a Slave yet? Head count!




 I've seen it twice and people always seem surprised when I say that as if it's a film you can only watch once. I loved it even more the second time. Curiously though, unlike many strong pictures, I do not enjoy watching individual scenes... I need the full thing to play out. Have you ever had that with a movie, where you only wnat the full thing. Other movies are so fun to watch in tiny pieces. Thoughts? 

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Reader Comments (16)

I don't really like watching movies "in pieces," but I can have fun revisiting a musical number or a gag (like Fred & Ginger, Gene Kelly and Beetlejuice). I usually need a full drama to enjoy it. As for 12YaS, I have the screener and intend to watch the movie again. I'm curious about how it plays on a small screen.

January 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

Mean Girls is that type of movie for me, and and I think because I love seeing Cady's slow-burn, bitch-up arc. (God! Isn't Lindsay Lohan is terrific in it?)

January 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBVR

You've seen this?

I just love how beautiful and diverse it is.

January 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

That is a really interesting perspective about 12 Years a Slave to consider, Nathaniel. I've never considered that. I've seen the movie twice and in retrospect I can't really imagine seeing the parts of that movie without the whole, though any scene with Sarah Paulson is fascinating on its face. She's the most interesting character in the movie and I was thinking that her interaction with Solomon when she's sending him to run errands is a great scene that I could imagine watching by itself. I think she's the most interesting character in the movie, though (for obvious reasons) there aren't a lot of her scenes, other than the one just mentioned, that I could watch solo. I think an interesting movie exists about Mistress Epps. Her relationship with her husband, her resentment of Patsey...there are so many different ways that an imagined scene of Patsey daring to ask her for soap can play out, I can't even imagine.

Interesting thoughts. I very much enjoyed the whole of 12YaS, but there are several individual scenes that almost took me out of the movie. I'm wondering if I would feel that way upon second viewing, or just watching those particular moments again.

On a lighter note, I only watch The Devil Wears Prada repeatedly if I can fast forward to the Miranda Priestly scenes.

January 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPam

I saw 12 Years A Slave twice in theaters. Can't say I have much of a desire to do it again--it was more viscerally upsetting the second time knowing when everything bad was going to happen. I felt ill in the hour leading up to the whipping. Since then I've watched Lupita's big soap speech a couple times, but I agree that it's not really suited to clips. I don't necessarily think it's a matter of coherence for me, so much as there's nothing that's cathartic in 12 Years A Slave. The movie goes out of its way to deny you catharsis of any kind--part of what's powerful about the film is that the horror never leads to anything. There's never any meaning to how bad you feel, even dramatically. Which is a smart choice, but it doesn't make it a particularly clip-friendly movie--none of the feel-bad stuff ever crosses into good cry territory. It's just there to haunt you.

January 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTB

I love the Faces Of Solomon project btw. As someone descended from slaves on one side of the family, and slave runners and abolitionists on the other, it's really refreshing to see race and history laid out in this way. Where we come from isn't always what we look like.

January 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTB

I watched 12 YEARS A SLAVE two days ago and I'm not gonna lie, it was hard to watch but I'm glad I did because it is incredible filmmaking from all aspects. I still think of about it. I'm excited to see it again after my initial shock of the graphic brutality.

January 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKent

The filmmaking is so masterful that I can watch again and again. It's a human story that pierces the heart but also makes us understand ourselves. I've seen twice now (second time with Nathaniel) and will definately this see again very soon.

January 3, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermurtada

I saw it once but definitely will see it again. Fantastic film.

January 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSad man

I've seen it once. And the thing preventing me from watching it a second time is Lupita Nyong'o. What happens to her throughout the course of the story is too much. Nothing that happens to Solomon or any other black male character in the film is shocking. I think black men still face the same overtly hostile atmosphere around the world today in subtle and grotesque ways.

January 4, 2014 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

I saw it once, and even though I feel like I should return to it, I probably won't for a while. I've been having the hardest time trying to reconcile my feelings for this movie, especially because I feel like I'm leaning towards respecting every aspect of the craft on display, but disappointment overall. I don't know if it has anything to do with being a person of color from the deep, deep South (my grandmother had a brother that was lynched, my mother had to sit in segregated balconies at the movies, and I've had the "n" word thrown my way), but the film mostly just left me cold. I understand and respect that McQueen isn't trying to influence your feelings and it simply letting the reality/absurdity of Solomon's story/US slavery speak for itself, but that approach didn't lead to the experience so many others seem to be having with the film. I'm beyond grateful the film has been so well received, but these stories have been passed down to me and lot of people I know with similar backgrounds, and I really didn't feel like I was being told a story I didn't already know.

Watching 12 Years actually had the odd effect of returning my thoughts to The Butler and increasing my appreciation for it. I'm not dare saying it's a better movie (it's too much of a mess overall), but if you remove the "Hall of Presidents" stuff, I think you have a really solid movie about the African American experience (at least some part of it) in the 20th century. I think it's really telling that The Butler became a sort of phenomenon with audiences this past summer, and folks like my mom, dad, and several friends just can't bring themselves to watch 12 Years. Of those who have I keep hearing the same thing, "The (acting, production) was good, but I never need to see it again."

January 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterVal


Slavery is difficult to identify with. The Civil Rights Movement is recent history and much more accessible for the general audience member. A lot of Americans are ignorant to the particulars of slavery in America. They censor plenty in the text books for elementary students. And the worse stuff is generally reserved for college students who take extensive courses in African-American studies.

January 4, 2014 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

Val -- that's an interesting perspective about The Butler and how it relates. I think the Butler is really good when it's dealing with the slow change of his job and arc of his marriage but otherwise i agree that the tour of presidents and I'd add the attempt to shove so much history in like a cavalcade situation ends up working against the film. I think it should have started with his first job or even with the job directly before the white house and really focused.

but i saw it in a packed theater and agree that it works for a lot of people. the crowd was loving it.

TPKIA -- oh yes. Despite my disinterest in watch clips I could imagine a LOT of different movies off to the side of this one and that is, usually, for me a very good sign that the movie is terrific/abundant/rewatchable.. i..e. working on a lot of levels. Well, it's either that or a movie that works super well in one way but is tiresome or not achieving it's potential in another so I keep wanting to wander off with a supporting character. WOLF OF WALL STREET was like that for me. I think it's goodish... but it's so repetitive. I don't really have a desire to see it again but i can't really hate it like some even though I don't enjoy all the assholic entitlement the way a lot of its fans seem too because the ensemble has so many vivid characters that there's a lot to keep your interest.

January 4, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I completely understand their reaction. I haven't seen this particular film yet but when something is that dramatic it's not unusual for me to never watch it again.

There are movies that I can watch parts of and that's all I need.

January 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMary

I saw it once and I could barely make it through -- but I still think about it. I think about Patsey, the real life woman and what became of her.

January 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBia

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