Steve McQueen

REVIEW: ‘12 Years a Slave’ Turns Real Events Surreal

Midway through Steve McQueen’s masterpiece 12 Years a Slave, I began consoling myself that at least I am descended from the good whites in the north. I don’t have a drop of southern blood in me, unless you count my Australian mother, but in that case I too am descended from slaves, in a sense. What the founders of Australia endured just in the transportation from Britain to the colonies Down Under, often for the pettiest of crimes (if they were guilty of them in the first place), was as arduous as and far longer than the journey from Africa.

After seeing Peter Weir’s Gallipoli (1981) in London, my maternal grandmother stood up and shouted at the audience, “You see what you did, you pommy bastards?”

Paul Dano

REVIEW: ‘Prisoners’ Navigates a Maze of Moral Ambiguity

When a film’s excellence is achieved as much by how it is told as by what it is telling, then that is the most exciting use of the medium, and its highest tribute. Such is the case with Denis Villeneuve’s Prisoners.

Set in a working-class suburb of Boston, but actually shot in Georgia, the story follows the anguish of two families, the Dovers and the Birches, whose respective daughters are abducted on a sleepy Thanksgiving afternoon, and the investigation of the detective in charge, played by Jake Gyllenhaal. A mentally challenged local resident, Alex Jones (Paul Dano), is likely to have either been the culprit or the last one to have seen the girls.