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Kyla’s Movie ReviewEjiofor should earn Oscar nomination for performance in ‘12 Years a Slave’

12 YEARS A SLAVE (R) - Starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Lupita Nyong’o, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Sarah Paulson, Adepero Oduye and Brad Pitt. This is a powerful and compelling adaptation of Solomon Northup’s autobiographical account of the dozen years, from 1841 until 1853, he spent as a slave on Louisiana plantations. Chiwetel plays Solomon, a New York freeman who was kidnapped and sold into slavery. He worked on plantations for twelve years, serving under various owners, until he found an ally in a white Canadian carpenter who was willing to take word of his plight north. The film offers a formidable indictment of the cruelty of which human beings are capable. Not every white man in the film is vile - Cumberbatch’s Ford and Pitt’s Bass are counter-examples - but even the best men are weakened by the social and cultural customs of the time. Two people embody the most unpleasant aspects of white men in the South - Tibeats (Dano), a worker on Ford’s land, and Edwin Epps (Fassbender), a cotton plantation owner. Both perceive blacks as less than human, thereby making their treatment of them justifiable. Epps also uses Biblical verses to validate his occasionally horrific actions. It has been said that the Bible can be used to justify almost any atrocity and this is an example. Epps’ view was widely shared throughout the South before, during, and even after the Civil War. The film is dominated by Chiwetel Ejiofor, whose performance is sure to earn an Oscar nomination. The range of emotions he portrays throughout the film is powerful. His “Oscar moment” occurs at the very end, in a scene that will bring tears to the eyes of even the most hard-hearted audience member. The film is very unsettling and upsetting. There are scenes that are very tough to watch and I found myself covering my eyes at times. This is not light entertainment, it’s a very graphic film and will be tough for a lot of viewers. There are elements of courage and redemption but the lingering impression reminds us of how ugly the dark side of human nature can be. RATING: A-

THE BEST MAN HOLIDAY (R) - Starring Taye Diggs, Sanaa Lathan, Morris Chestnut, Nia Long, Monica Calhoun, Terrence Howard, Harold Perrineau, Regina Hall, Melissa De Sousa and Eddie Cibrian. The film catches up with most of the characters from “The Best Man” about fifteen years after the earlier film. Harper (Diggs), the author whose book caused unpleasantness in the first movie, has fallen on hard times. He and his wife, Robyn (Lanthan), are expecting their first child, but he’s out of work, blocked as a writer and drowning in debt. He accepts a Christmas party invitation from his estranged best friend, Lance (Chestnut), and Lance’s wife, Mia (Calhoun), in the hope that he might be able to nab the rights to pen Lance’s biography. An NFL star, Lance is approaching retirement, with a chance at breaking the all-time rushing record. Also spending the weekend at the festively decorated New York-area mansion are Harper’s ex-flame, Jordan (Long), and her new boyfriend, Brian (Cibrian); couple Julian (Perrineau) and ex-stripper Candace (Hall); brassy and bitchy Shelby (De Sousa) and flamboyant, uncensored Quentin (Howard). Over the course of the few days spent under one roof, old wounds are re-opened, new injuries are created and a tragedy brings everyone together. The trailer makes this look like a fun-filled light-hearted holiday movie, but in reality, it has some heavy moments that may be tough for some. RATING: B

DELIVERY MAN (PG-13) - Starring Vince Vaughn, Chris Pratt, Cobie Smulders, Andrzej Blumenfeld and Adam Chanler-Berat. This is a comedy about a lovable loser named David (Vaughn), who finds himself in extraordinary circumstances and somehow makes it all right. He drives the delivery truck for the family butcher shop and is a bit of a screw-up. When we first meet him he is deeply in debt to some loan sharks and desperate for money. His girlfriend Emma (Smulders) announces she’s pregnant and doesn’t think he’d make a very responsible father. The truck with the uniforms for the butcher shop’s basketball team has just been towed for unpaid parking tickets. In short, David’s life is a mess. That’s when he’s notified that David’s not the only one who has screwed up. It seems that back in his twenties, he made a lot of money as a very frequent depositor at a sperm bank. They seem to have gone through a period where they were using his seed exclusively, and now he is the biological father of 533 children. Worse, 142 of them have filed a class action lawsuit to break the confidentiality agreements the sperm bank signed with him and make his identity public so they can know their father. The focus of the story is how David––and his lawyer Brett (Pratt)––fight the lawsuit. While the lawyer sees this as the opportunity to vindicate a failing legal career, David becomes curious about his adult “children” and starts seeking them out one by one. Without revealing himself, he helps them in different ways, discovering something to live for beyond himself. This is a sweet and mildly amusing film. It’s feel-good entertainment. RATING: B-

(Kyla Davis is a Nevada native and a movie enthusiast. She can be reached at kylalovesmovies@aol.com.)

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