Posts Tagged ‘ Chiwitel Eijofor ’

THE BAFTAS

Baftas 2014
2013 Baftas

And so the round of award ceremonies, with their insincere heartfelt thanks and validation for those who demand more than most, begins with the Stephen Fry Show or the Baftas if you prefer to call it by its lesser known name. This year there has been a surfeit of great films-most released in the last two months in case the voters have short memories I presume- and most managed to take home a major prize thus ensuring no one film emerged as a runaway winner, although both Gravity and 12 Years A Slave triumphed several times in their nominated categories. There was even an ongoing joke about the Duke of Cambridge being Helen Mirren’s grandson-the Duke and the other Queen, Fry, made lame attempts to induce some hilarity out of this- due to a role she once memorably played. Oh, how we didn’t laugh!
However Martin Scorsese’s Wolf of Wall Street missed out on its best chance of an award for Leonardo DiCaprio’s outstanding performance as Jordan Belfort and of all the major contenders was the only film to leave empty handed. I was disappointed that probably one of the most underwhelming films I have seen in the last year , Philomena, win the best adapted screenplay but was delighted to see Jennifer Lawrence win for her supporting role in American Hustle as she was my favourite character and performance in this film which had so many to choose from.
Chiwetel Ejiofor may have deservedly won for 12 Years A Slave-DiCaprio would have been my first choice-but I thought Michael Fassbender may also have walked off with best supporting actor as his performance was of such an intense and commanding nature he stole most scenes he was in. The supporting actor award however went to relative newcomer Barkhab Abdi for Captain Philips, a film I have not seen due to the fact I am a total Tom Hanks phobic and find it impossible to sit through anything he is in.
Cate Blanchett came up against stiff competition in her category –Amy Adams and Judi Dench although the least said about Sandra Bullock the better- but waltzed off with the Best Actress prize for her role in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine.
Controversy reared its head over Gravity winning the Best British Film category with it being directed by the Mexican Alfonso Cuaron and starring Bullock and George Clooney, both big Hollywood players, but it was filmed in England with a British crew and most of the post production effects were added here so it seems quite fitting it won this category. If any film in the last year has been about the effects then Gravity was it.
Usually seen as less prestigious dry run for the Oscars next month it will be interesting to see whether there is as much diversity in their choices or whether one film will dominate above all others. Personally I feel it will be a close call between 12 Years A Slave and American Hustle but as I am unaware of insider industry politics and who has been kissing the most asses over the last twelve months it is hard to predict any inevitable outcome. Lat night merely showed that quite rightly several different films need to be commended on individual achievements and as such it made more sense that with such a strong line up each received awards recognising this.
As a footnote let it be noted that the dresses were, in the main, quite awful. Brad and Angelina looked good in their matching tuxedos though. A lesson in glamour so many could learn from that might, in the future, prevent them from looking like dropped trifles.
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JUST AN OBSERVATION

Just an Observation
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Already more than half way through the first month of 2014 and whilst certain parts of the country are suffering terrible rains followed by destructive flooding Scotland emerges relatively unscathed. Without wishing to jinx things it hasn’t even been that cold yet. I know, I know, I keep being told winter doesn’t really kick in until February but there is no denying that thus far we have been extremely lucky as regards the weather both temperature wise and in just about every other way too. After writing this I am sure we will suddenly be treated to extreme weather conditions and if this happens then feel free to blame me.
This week saw the iconic Kate Moss turn forty and typical of the Daily Mail who feel the need to attack any form of individuality or lack of conformity, like some kind of avenging and pious rottweiler , the accusations flew thick and fast that she may have committed the unforgivable sin of actually looking her actual age. As Moss herself has stated in the past, why shouldn’t she? Surely someone who has been working since she was fourteen and been at the top of her game since she was sixteen has earned the right to live her life any way she chooses to. Personally the fact she has not succumbed to our society’s obsession with remaining ever youthful but is seemingly comfortable in her own skin and body is something to be commended not scorned.
Having met Kate at a Kills gig at the Liquid Rooms I can confirm that in person she is gorgeous but more than that she is actually down to earth and on the night in question she was merely out as a girl supporting her boyfriend- Jamie Hince now her husband- and was simply out to have a good night. She appeared to be unaffected by the fuss that went on around her and I spent the bulk of the night in her company finding her entertaining, informed and in possession of the elusive qualities of charisma and instinct.
Instinct, along with hard work, is probably the quality which has afforded her longevity in a business notoriously fickle and for someone whose career involves being dressed by others in their designs it is when she appears in clothes of her own choosing that she really hits the mark. It is those outfits that others slavishly follow and adapt rather than the high fashion spreads in which she also shines. Some may argue that as she has access to such clothes then how can she possibly go wrong? The answer to that is simply very easily as so many others with the same access fail miserably.
Having lived her life thus far exactly as she wanted to is inspiring in our bland world of uniformity. In a position to choose who she hangs out with, goes out with and even who she marries these may all be fiercely debated and commented on but make no mistake at the end of the day the final decision has always rested with her. Even after she was pilloried in the press for taking drugs- model on cocaine whatever next?- she played the contrite game and came back bigger than ever even managing to secure the contracts which had dropped her in the light of the so called scandal at a higher rate than before.
Happy Birthday Kate, just keep on doing what you are doing and after your Playboy shoot I predict there will even be a resurgence in pubic hair growth. Waxing to a prepubescent state is all so outdated now. Fashion needs you and you are proof that style and verve will always outweigh fashion and its dictates.
Out at the cinema this weekend are two excellent films, American Hustle and 12 Years A Slave, both worthy of all the accolades they are collecting. Of the two I think American Hustle has the edge as the superb seventies styling and soundtrack are excellent and although I don’t usually advocate award ceremonies finding them to represent industry insider wheeling and dealings rather than artistic enterprise in the case of these two films I think they may have actually nailed it. Despite this the battle between these two could be thrown into disarray with the arrival of the new Coen Brothers film ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’, a veiled look at a fledgling Bob Dylan type, which looks like it could be another award contender and if not the only reason will be its release date in the schedules.
Out on Monday January 20th is the Fini Tribe classic Balearic anthem ‘De Testimony’ with a surfeit of remixes from the likes of Justin Robertson and Robot 84. Coming with a seal of approval from Irvine Welsh who rates them as highly influential on a scene which inspired him the single is available in an extremely limited edition-only 350 copies- 12” EP on the FFFt label although a digital download will be available a month later with a further remix by 808 State.
In support of this release The Fini Tribe crew are joining up with Rammed, a live music club experience, for two separate and different nights at the Voodoo Rooms in Edinburgh. The single launch night will take place on February 28th where the Fini Tribe Sound System will rock the night out alongside regular Rammed DJ’s The Baron and Oli Findlay in the French Quarter boasting a dance floor with flashing lights. The second outing is on April 26th in The Speakeasy which will feature a rare live appearance by the band. Both nights are not to be missed and further details will be announced nearer the time although spaces are bound to be limited due to the carefully selected intimacy of the venues’
As if to confirm that maybe Edinburgh does have a burgeoning underground music scene a pre-release copy of Opium Kitchen’s two track single ‘Hommagination’ and ‘We Will Be’ found its way into my inbox then swiftly into my heart this week. Due out on February 18th the former track is a louche piece of verbal and insistent, incessant guitar riffing played out over a solid rhythm section. The second track resembles Iggy Pop’s ‘Fall in Love with Me’ filtered through Joy Division-in a very good way- with some rumbling bass and nu-glam handclaps powered along with Robert King’s dark vocal stylings all adding up to heady mix and bubbling cauldron of dark mysterious cacophony. Sterling stuff indeed! Definitely something to look out for and there will be a full review nearer the time of release.
Here to round off today is the original mix of The Fini Tribe’s ‘De Testimony’ and remember to clear the dates 28th February and April 26th for those Rammed outings. Best clear the next days too!

12 YEARS A SLAVE

12 Years A Slave
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Cynicism might dictate that slavery is the new hot topic in American film-Djangop Unchained and Lincoln both dealt with the subject in radically different ways last year- and ensure at the very least an Oscar nomination if not a winner. This latest offering by Steve Mc Queen who far from abandoning his art house credentials- Shame and Hunger- has merely deployed them to excellent use is a definite contender in this years round of award ceremonies and unlike the three hour snooze Lincoln, which swept the board last year, deserves every accolade it attains.
This is in no short part down to the excellent performances from Benedict Cumberbatch, a demented Michael Fassbender and an understated but pivotal role for Brad Pitt but most essentially Chiwitel Ejiofor as the films central character Solomon Northup. Seldom off the screen during the films duration Eijofor’s commanding performance is one of extreme depth and compassion which is simply engrossing. Some may argue that the film is racist in its caricature depiction of whites but that is inconsequential as this is a story which needs to be told and to the catalyst at the heart of this story it is the truth which he has to deal with even if his eventual salvation comes courtesy of a white man.
When we first encounter Solomon it is as a free man in New York where he lives a comfortable life with his wife and children and lives a comparatively affluent life due to his remarkable talents as a violin player. This all changes however when he is introduced to two men masquerading as promoters of a travelling show who then get him inebriated to the point of unconsciousness. When he awakes he finds himself shackled and chained and it then becomes clear the promoters were simply kidnappers who specialise in selling blacks to southern whites as slaves.
The helplessness of Solomon’s situation immediately becomes apparent in the harshness of the beating which accompanies his protestations that he is a free man. He learns early on that keeping quiet is perhaps his only chance of survival although after he is sold to a relatively benevolent owner Ford-Cumberbatch- inevitably the finer points of his breeding become apparent and this earns him the resentment of one of Ford’s plantation managers-a crazed with power Paul Dano- who feeling threatened by someone superior in both mental and physical capacities tries to undermine him at every available opportunity. This leads to an inevitably brutal outcome with Solomon, who has now been renamed Platt, finding himself the victim of an attempted lynching and although he is rescued at the last minute he is left hanging for several minutes before he is eventually safe.
To ensure his safety Ford is obliged to sell him to another plantation owner Epps- Fassbender- and his equally malodorous wife where his talents are not quite so appreciated and regular beatings are inevitable, usually on a misguided or precautious whim. A first attempt at escape via a letter is thwarted but the arrival of a sympathiser to the civil rights movement in the form of Bass- Pitt- offers Solomon a chance of getting his story across and seeking rescue from this life which is surely going to end him prematurely.
McQueen does an excellent job with this film. Moving out of the art house has not damaged his credentials or credibility in the slightest and he has brought his unwavering gaze through a camera eye to this film in the way that it disturbed and confronted in his previous works. It is not a film for the faint hearted as some of its scenes are brutally extreme- the one where Solomon is forced into whipping a fellow female slave as the others watch on is particularly harrowing- but such scenes are essential if the true horror of this time are to be laid bare. Although it is obviously an award laden movie this does not detract in any way from its power and any accolades it wins are deserved.

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