Movie shorts: “Gravity” and “12 Years A Slave”


By Sarah Cooperman

E Pluribus Unum


Hollywood loves its predictable stories. And so, frankly, do film-goers. Do you really want to plunk down $13 and spend two hours if the bad people win and the big stars get toasted?

Course not.  But it would help is film-makers came a wee but closer to reality.  That’s our theme in my mini-reviews of two recent films, “Gravity” and “12 Years a Slave.”


In “Gravity,” the two prettiest astronauts ever, played by George Clooney and Sandra Bullock, get into a big mess when space debris smashes their shuttle into worse shape than a Yugo after a fender-bender.

Clooney, the veteran spaceman, keeps his cool and crinkles his eyes winningly. Bullock, the oh-so-serious cosmo-rookie, is noticeably less sanguine about everything.

Long story short: through the use of handy how-to manuals written in foreign languages and plucky grit, Bullock survives one catastrophe after another and … well, this is so predictable, you just know how it’s gonna end.

Also predictable: slow, lingering slow-motion shots of Bullock’s perfect buttocks (in tight shorts) and snug sports-bra bodice for those of you who have no interest in astrophysics.

Sarah’s score:  C+.


In  “12 Years a Slave,” we get the story of Solomon Northrup (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free man living in New York state who gets kidnapped and sold into slavery in the Deep South before the Civil War.

It’s based on a book written by Northrup, and let me tell you right now, this is NOT a date movie. Unless your date is a racist brute.

While you have to admire the character of Northrup and his persistence in seeking freedom, you also have to put up with graphic images of rape, whippings and beating and lots of blood and gore.

Of course, since the name of the tale is “12 Years A Slave,” we know in advance that Solomon’s troubles won’t last forever. His perils are disturbing but we don’t worry too much about the outcome.

His was an exceptional case. If Hollywood wanted to make a really exceptional movie about that era, we’d be seeing “59 Years a Slave” or maybe “Django Releashed.”

  Sarah’s score: B.

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