June 19, 2013

First Look: Images from Steve McQueen's "12 Years a Slave" + Why McQueen Is Shaking The Film Industry

New stills of McQueen's third film 12 Years a Slave were released and unsurprisingly people are buzzing. The film, based on the novel by Solomon Noethup about his life in enslavement, has a high callibar cast including the star power push of Brad Pitt. Naturally, people are already buzzing about Oscar season and whether it will be a contender (it's being released on December 27th, so it's cutting it close.) Here are a few images provided by IndieWire

Clearly, putting a story like this in the hands of breakout director, Steve McQueen, is going to stir many emotions. McQueen's directing style is so raw, authentic, and intense, that it pushes ones comfort level to a place that you never thought it could go. In Hunger it was the emaciated Michael Fassbender playing Bobby Sands slowly withering away in a hospital bed as he dies of starvation or the sex obsessed Brandon in Shame who has a full on breakdown during a threesome. These moments made my heart stop for a brief moment and had my breath staggering. I couldn't relate to these people in any way shape or form. However, McQueen's filmmaking hits so close to the home that it's almost unsettling. And that is what we need in film today. We need someone like him making more films that give us honesty, truth, and depth. Films that make us think and lingers in our minds afterwards. I was shaken by Shame. I didn't know what I just saw. I was racking my brain around it for weeks and even longer than that. I can still talk about that film today with the same passion I had right when I saw it the first time. McQueen has a level of artistry and creativity that puts him above many independent filmmakers.

McQueen is not only blunt in his film making, but also in real life. I have heard several people label him and his films as pretentious. I think some are taking his honesty and unwillingness to abide by typical Hollywood standards as something of a renegade or someone who thinks highly of himself. Granted, McQueen is not afraid to speak his mind (and his dry British sense of humor probably doesn't help either. I attended a Q & A and you couldn't tell sometimes if he was joking or being serious.) However, he's not coming from a bad place. He's unapologetic and he sees things a bit differently than the average filmmaker. During a Hollywood Reporter roundtable interview, McQueen had a lot of people squirming when he asked about the lack of casting for black actors.

McQueen is the type of director that I can see many actors wanting to work with. He helped showcase the talent of Fassbender and I have a feeling that he will do the same for Chiwetel Ejiofor (who really does deserve the recognition by now.) McQueen has a way of pushing actors and really getting the best performances out of them. And knowing McQueen's flair for the realism, I know that  I'm going to see certain actors a bit differently after 12 Years a Slave.  The man has a vision and he is very straight forward when it comes to that vision. He's the type of director who leaves little room for negotiation when it comes to the integrity and the creative freedoms of his films. And, in my opinion, I think it's time we had a filmmaker like him to mix things up. No holds barred McQueen is the best McQueen.

No comments:

Post a Comment