A new year, a new start for Film Fight. It’s been a busy start to the year so this is coming quite late. Three films for January:
First up, American Hustle has the kind of cast that you know you’re not going to have to worry about. They’ll turn in great performances and nail whatever you throw at them. That’s precisely what happens here, save for a few comically over-the-top moments. Leaving the cast aside, then, we’re left with a wildly unevenly paced film. At times, we get a barrage of clips, being narrated by the leads, at other times nothing much happens for 15 minutes. Given the lengthy runtime, this starts to become problematic. An entertaining film, with fun performances, but not a classic. (See my American Hustle Twitter review).
Similarly, 12 Years A Slave has some of the most stunning performances of the Oscar season. Chiwetel Ejiofor, as the titular slave, is as fantastic when he’s trying to keep his head down as when he’s being brutalised by one of his masters. Likewise, Michael Fassbender’s portrayal of the cotton plantation owner is shocking and unnerving; bringing a genuinely frightening presence. We see the same level of performance from the rest of the cast, except for one minor but pivotal role that seemed quite out of place. It’s tough to watch the lingering, violent shots but it’s certainly worthwhile. An excellent film. (See my 12 Years A Slave Twitter review).
Finally, The Wolf of Wall Street is a fantastic, comic take on some of the worst excesses that came out of the world of stockbrokers. Based on a true story, it follows a mans rise from nobody to head of his own stockbroking firm; a position he gets to through lying, stealing and cheating, while indulging in every excess imaginable. The 18 rating on the film is well-deserved, given the copious sex and drug-taking scenes that make up the bulk of the film. The film is entertaining with a wonderful cast, but at three hours is vastly longer than it needs to be, knocking at least half an hour off would lose nothing of substance. Fun. (See my Wolf of Wall Street Twitter review).
It’ll be no surprise to say that 12 Years A Slave is the first winner of the year.