There’s only been once in my life where I walked out of the movie theater after seeing a flick and said “Man, that was fantastic. But I don’t think I could ever see it again.”
That one movie was “Schindler’s List,” and I’m sure you can imagine why I never wanted to see it again. Too horrifying, too devastating, too just … emotionally draining.
Last Friday, I had that experience for the second time, after seeing the most remarkable film I’ve seen in many a year: “12 Years A Slave.”
Surely you’ve heard about it now, the true story of Solomon Northrup, a free African-American man living in New York in 1841 who was kidnapped and forced into slavery for 12 years, before finally being freed.
It is not a movie for everyone, because some people will find the violence and abuse repugnant. But it’s the most honest and searing portrayal of slavery I’ve ever seen in any form of media (kind of amazing that a British director, Steve McQueen) made it.
Even though you know what will happen to Northrup as the film goes on (and the lead actor, Chiwetel Ejiofor is fantastic in showing his different emotions, from anger and disbelief, to resignation), every scene has power. Michael Fassbender is brilliant as Northrup (his name gets changed to Platt early on in the movie)’s slave owner.
The other actors are terrific, too, including Patsy, a young slave Fassbender’s character becomes obsessed with. But it’s the story and the script that are so moving, and so at times difficult to watch. You see the cruelty, yes, but you also see the surprising tenderness, the shocking indifference to that cruelty, and how powerful the human spirit can be.
This is such an important movie, and I hope it stands the test of time as the definitive look at the shameful period in America’s past where half the country thought it was OK to own slaves.
Go see “12 Years A Slave;” it ought to be required viewing for all Americans. And I have a feeling it’s going to win a boatload of Oscars.
**Today is, of course, Veterans Day, a day many of us get off from work and then barely give a second thought. I wanted to put a video symbolizing the day up here, but didn’t want to find a cliche “soldiers in battle” thing. So I thought this was cool: A series called “Heroes Hangouts.” These online discussions bring together veterans, civilians, active duty and military families face to face around the world to discuss everything from P.T.S.D. to fundraisers for veterans causes.
Very cool group.
**Finally, Sunday was the Jets’ bye week, which means it’s my most stress-free Sunday of the fall. The day was even better thanks to Tennessee and San Diego both losing, as (and I can’t believe I’m saying this this season) it helps the Jets with the wild-card race.
As usual, some crazy finishes in the NFL Sunday, including…
— Where the heck did the Carolina Panthers come from? Five straight wins, including a 10-9 slugfest over the 49ers Sunday. Man oh man, that Carolina D is ferocious. They’re a legit threat now, if Cam Newton can make a few plays per game.
— I can’t believe that these Hail Mary plays still work, but thanks to the Baltimore Ravens falling asleep, the Bengals got to send their game to OT with a last-second TD catch by A.J. Green. The Ravens won, but man, after giving up this play, they really didn’t deserve to.
— Watched a lot of the Giants-Raiders game. Terrelle Pryor may be an NFL quarterback one day, but he’s really far away right now.
— I thought for sure the Jaguars would go 0-16, but nope, they actually beat somebody. Good for them; no one deserves to lose every time out.
— It deserves to be said every week: Calvin Johnson is not human. Just an incredible physical specimen. If he and Serena Williams ever had kids, they would move our species forward a few notches, don’t you think?