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Film Reviews: Berberian Sound Studio (2012) and 12 Years a Slave (2013)
Movies
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Berberian Sound Studio (2012). Written and directed by Peter Strickland. Set in the 60s/70s, the film starts with a sound recording specialist, Gilderoy (Toby Jones), travelling to Italy to assist with the recording for an Italian horror film. The film is unlike anything Gilderoy has recorded for before, and he is disturbed how how horrific it. Berberian Sound Studio is a peculiar art film, in the psychological thriller genre (ish). The action mostly revolves around the recording of the audio for the aforementioned Italian horror film, although no actual part of the film is shown, and clearly the emphasis is on the audio process. The cinematography is wonderful, and the performances are good, but the story is inexorably slow for the first hour, and then dissolves into surreality for the remainder. Those who enjoy art films with little in the way of story and a dash of surreality may get a kick from it. 2/5 (Poor)

12 Years a Slave (2013). Based on the memoir by Solomon Northup, and directed by Steve McQueen. The film starts in New York state, 1841. Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is a free negro living with his wife and two children. While his wife and children are away, Northup takes on a job of playing the fiddle for a touring circus. Two of the men running the circus ply Northup with food, drink, and ultimately it seems a drug to make him sleep. He wakes up shackled in a cellar, and is sold into slavery in New Orleans. 12 Years a Slave is an incredible film, both in terms of the realisation and story. Ejiofor is superb in the lead role, and accompanied by an excellent cast. The film is well directed, and accompanied by a haunting score. Ultimately it's the horrifying story of Northup's capture and years spent as a slave that are both enthralling and disgusting, making it a hard watch. I certainly despair for humanity having watched it, and haven't been moved so much by a film for a long time. For those interested in historical non-fiction that have the stomach for the past depravities of mankind. 5/5 (Excellent)
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