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Josée Rose
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Excerpt from interview with Lupita Nyong'o after reading the script for "12 Years A Slave" in which she plays slave Patsey.  A newcomer, her performance is generating Oscar buzz.

" I was crying, I was really really crying especially since I read it with Patsey in mind and I was so sad for her, I felt so sorry for her and then I realized I had to get past that to play her. I had to play her like not sympathetically but empathetically and I had to learn she didn’t have the freedom to make her pain precious so I had to get to where I could find a way into her in order to do her justice."

My thoughts on the much-talked-about "12 Years A Slave"

I was lucky enough to see "12 Years A Slave" a week before it opens and do some red-carpet interviews with the cast. I will transcribe and post the interviews later but for now I want to talk about the movie. 

During the cast Q&A after the screening, Steve McQueen said this book should be required reading in every school in America. He was right. I tried to read Solomon Northrup's book before I saw the movie but I only got 50 pages in before running out of time. From what I read, no history book is going to describe the many facets -- including the utter brutality -- of slavery as Northrup's first-person account does. 

Going into this, I wasn't sure the movie would live up to the hype (I didn't think "Gravity" lived up to its hype), and I was pleasantly surprised. Chiwetel Ejiofor's powerful performance brought viewers into his despair, but he also managed to keep his head above water and take opportunities that were presented to him to make sure his mind and soul didn't get lost. The beauty of this movie was that McQueen didn't place Ejiofor's struggle on a pedestal, and both told the story as it was: A normal man in an awful situation, day in, day out. 

The other standout performance was newcomer Lupita Nyong'o as Patsey, Northrup's fellow slave at Edwin Epps (portrayed as twisted, disgusting, and as Southern as can be by Michael Fassbender). Patsey's life is probably the saddest in the movie, because she has no hope of rescue, nobody from the North to come look for her, and she's the object of hatred of Mrs. Epps (Sarah Paulson) and desire of Mr. Epps. Nyong'o's performance is haunting and remains with you after the movie ends. The most disturbing scene is when Epps orders Northrup to whip Patsey. Epps winds up taking over to whip Patsey harder. While we don't see all of the violence, we do see Patsey's face and hear her cries of pain, shame and despair; we see Northrup's struggle; we see Epps' sick determination; we see Mrs. Epps desire to see Patsey hurt. 

According to Fassbender and Nyong'o there was only about 15 minutes of rehearsals between the two, as well as between Nyong'o and  Ejiofor. I believe that was a smart move, it made the scenes and emotions I felt (the humiliation, despair and disdain/wrath) that much more powerful. 

I will be surprised if McQueen, Fassbender, Nyong'o and Ejiofor don't receive Oscar nominations for this film. But don't just see it for the performances. See it for the lesson and the conversation it should start. 

I attended the NYC screening of  “The Blacklist,” the new NBC show starring James Spader as Red Reddington, one of the FBI's most-wanted fugitives. I think this may be a better premiere than “Sleepy Hollow,” which I also enjoyed.

It seems like “The Blacklist” will follow a formula: each week: Elizabeth and the rest of the FBI track a crazy criminal. It also seems like there are a few longer story arcs as well: Elizabeth’s past with her parents (they better explain that scar) and whatever connection she has with Reddington (it has a “Silence of the Lambs” feel—every time Elizabeth gets a piece of information from Reddington, she has to tell him something); and Elizabeth’s husband, played by Ryan Eggold, is hiding a major secret (think Jason Bourne).

Spader really shines in this role. He definitely has ulterior motives, yet sometimes I found myself siding with him. He was creepy, intelligent, has an obsession with Elizabeth but wants to get rid of some of the world’s most dangerous criminals. But why? What’s the motive? What’s he after? 

The girl who plays Elizabeth, Megan Boone, is stereotypical at best. She reminded me of a younger Mariska Hargitay (their roles are somewhat similar) plus a little of Clarice Starling from “Silence of the Lambs.” She didn’t stand out and I expected someone with a little more charisma for that role.

It’s the storyline that kept me watching. The show is well paced, had humorous moments without trying too hard, had a few decent action scenes (but a little too much S.W.A.T. action) and a surprisingly gruesome scene (not safe for kids). The dialogue was decent and I was interested in several back-stories. I highly recommend and can’t wait to see how the show develops. 

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that prancing backwards thing really works for him.

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He looks like a cross from the Koopas from Mario Brothers and Sonic the Hedgehog
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