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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Report Card----"Twelve Years A Slave".

There it is.
There's pretty much your problem right off the top.
The title.
The title is in itself, a Spoiler.
You have a pretty good idea that you're in trouble when you need a Spoiler Alert for the TITLE.
You've got a free black man from New York who is kidnapped into slavery in the South.
So how long do you suppose he's going to remain a slave?
I'm guessing twelve years.
There are scenes early on of him possibly getting lynched. 
Do you think he gets lynched?
Not if you do the math.
He doesn't get lynched because he is "Twelve Years A Slave".
Then, shortly after there are scenes where he tries to escape.
Do you think he escapes?
Class?
That's right.
He doesn't.
And why, class?
That's right.
Because he's "Twelve Years A Slave".
As we get to the end, and they shlep in Brad Pitt, you know it's got to be for something important, or they wouldn't shlep in Brad Pitt.
Ya think it's that the kidnapee is going to get his freedom, after what looks like about twelve years?
Very good, class!
I think you're all ready for screenwriting 102.

This is one of the most predictable movies I have ever seen.
To avoid that, all it needed was a different title.
They could have called it "Morty".
Even though nobody in the movie is named Morty.
That would have been confusing, but at least it wouldn't have been predictable.
The audience might be continually asking itself "Why is this movie called "Morty"?
It's still a step up.
Aside from it's predictability, "Twelve Years A Slave" had other problems.
It is a grotesquely ugly, ham-handed movie.
And it suffers from the same problem I had with "Schindler's List"
There, you were asked to care about the survival of 1100 Jews when millions around them were being slaughtered.
Here, you are being asked to care about one black man kidnapped into slavery, when there are all these real slaves, utterly humiliated and tortured on a daily basis, with no possibility for escape.
Where's their triumph?  Why shouldn't you care just as much about them?

On to the scoring:

Is it interesting?

Here and there.  Not very.
C.

Compelling even?

On rare occasions.
C.

Is it controversial?

Only as controversial as the issue of slavery itself.
C.

Is it a story worth telling?

Only with a different title.  Maybe "Morty".
B.

Is it good storytelling?

Only with a different title.  Maybe "Morty".
B.

Is it well written?

So so.
C+.

Is it well cast? Well played?, Well shot?

Amy Adams is this year's distaff version of Matthew McConnaughey.  It seems to be in her deal to be in every movie this year.  And she's pretty good.  Brad Pitt does a nice turn.
It's shot well enough.
B+.

Is it too long? Too short?

When you know what's coming, and what's not coming, it seems endless.
F.

Is it believable? Do you care about the characters?

Yes, because it's true, and no, because it's  pre-ordained
C.

Is it predictable? Does it surprise you?

Asked and answered, many times over.  And all they needed was "Morty".
F.

Do you think about it after you've seen it?

Not even while I was watching it.
F.

Is it funny?

Never.
F.

Would it have been worth the thirteen bucks it would have cost to see it in the movies?

Not any bucks.
F.

Is it impressive ?

Not to me.
C-.

Overall grade: D+.

It's one of those movies that has garnered all this attention because of it's "nobility of purpose"
This has got to stop.
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My books ,"Show Runner" and it's sequel, "Show Runner Two", can be found at the Amazon Kindle Store.
Along with the newer ones, "The Man Is Dead", and "Report Cards".
You can search by typing in my name, Cindy Williams, Laverne and Shirley, The Odd Couple, or Happy Days.
Check them out.
You don't need a Kindle machine to download them.
Just get the free app from Kindle, and they can be downloaded to an IPhone, IPad, or Blackberry.
The paperbacks, "Mark Rothman's Essays" and my new novel, "I'm Not Garbo" are not
e-books. But they are available for people without Kindle.
I have many readings and signings lined up for those, and the thing about Kindle is you can't sign one. If you'd like one of the paperbacks, personally autographed, contact me at macchus999@aol.com.

And now, we've got my reading of my "Laverne and Shirley Movie" screenplay on YouTube.

******

2 comments:

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Hi. I am, according to my Wikipedia entry,(which I did not create) a noted television writer, playwright, screenwriter, and occasional actor. You can Google me or go to the IMDB to get my credits, and you can come here to get my opinions on things, which I'll try to express eloquently. Hopefully I'll succeed. You can also e-mail me at macchus999@aol.com. Perhaps my biggest claim to fame is being responsible, for about six months in 1975, while Head Writer for the "Happy Days" TV series, for Americans saying to each other "Sit on it."