12 Years a Slave – The Best Moments and Quotes

With 12 Years a Slave becoming a global phenomenon last year, particularly after its successful run at the Oscars, the over 160 years old Solomon Northup book it was based on also became much sought-after, despite spending most of its existence in public obscurity, with only a handful of academic referencing it and no new edition between mid-19th century and 1968, when it made an unlikely comeback.  One year to date after the film’s theatrical release in the United States, we look back at both the original book and the critically-acclaimed adaptation and select  4 of the best moments and quotes from both mediums together with a brief analysis of its themes. If by now you only browsed its summary online, on Sparknotes and Wiki, or managed to watch the trailer on IMDB and YouTube after reading a review, we are convinced the next step you should take is get the movie or the ebook in pdf form, and even the audiobook and go through the amazing lessons it provides.

1.     The film’s whipping scene

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Of all the difficult and painful to watch scenes in Steve McQueen’s film version of 12 Years a Slave, and there are quite a few, the one that stands out is the whipping scene where, Edwin Epps (Michael Fassbender), the plantation owner, forces Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) to be the one who whips friend and fellow slave Patsey (Lupita Nyong’o) for leaving the plantation to find soap. A scene such as this is extremely difficult to pull, not because of the technical details, where a little camera trickery and audio effects makes it relatively easy to make the whip sound like it really is hitting flesh, but due to the dangers of wandering off from a scene that shows the vile practice and the heartwrenching emotional process and into something that more closely resembles glorified torture porn. Luckily, the truly Oscar-deserving direction, as well as the strength of the cast chosen for the scene, manages to give the scene the solemnity it needs.

2.     “What difference is there in the color of the soul?”

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In what is perhaps the book’s most famous and most poignant chapter, Solomon Northup writes a 10 words long manifesto of sorts, a haunting line of impossible beauty and sadness that could work as a tagline for almost any movie or book that deals with race issues. Furthermore, the quote manages to bring the question of spirituality in the discussion, reminding the readership that the institution of slavery existed and thrived many times in a religious society. What’s more, the line is eerily prophetic of the quote that, over a hundred years later, will become maybe the most recognizable line of the civil rights movement, Martin Luther King’s “judged not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

3.     Mistress Shaw

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In an interview given in 2013, the film’s screenwriter, John Ridley, spoke about what were for him the most difficult scenes to write in the entire movie. He gives the scene in 12 Years a Slave where Mistress Shaw, a former slave who is now the mistress of a white man appears, calmly drinking tea and musing on the conditions of the other slaves and gives, through its levity and contrast to the tone surrounding it, a certain aura of surrealism. Ridley worried endlessly that Mistress Shaw, who is only mentioned in a line or two in the book, will end up being anachronistic, that viewers will see the scriptwriter in the character and the scene and feel that it was written in the 21st century, rather than the 19th.

4.     “Alas! I had not then learned the measure of “man’s inhumanity to man,” nor to what limitless extent of wickedness he will go for the love of gain”

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Perhaps the most important line in the whole book, due to its universality and the fact that it expresses a truth as old as human existence, this quote is the driving force behind a million books that describe countless injustices and abuses, of which the abhorrent practice of slavery that 12 Years a Slave describes is just an example. Even more, while society likes to believe that slavery is a relic of the past and that the Western civilization is far beyond it, it is only because other, more efficient ways became available to make use of the man’s inhumanity to man for the love of gain.

5 Reasons Why We Love Jessica Chastain

Jessica Chastain is slowly, but surely becoming a household name in the movie industry. She’s been in more than 20 movies, she was nominated for an Academy Award for her role in Zero Dark Thirty and in The Help. Jessica broke into the scene with the title role in Jolene, a movie inspired by Dolly Parton’s song. Her filmography also includes Take Shelter and Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life. Jessica also starred in The Heiress on Broadway, alongside Dan Stevens. She’s got rave reviews for her role in the play and we hope to see her back on the stage soon. Here are 5 reasons why we love Jessica Chastain.

1. Jessica Chastain’s Red Carpet Stylejessica chastain red carpet style

Jessica exudes style and we love that about her. Aside from being a great actress, she also has impeccable taste in clothes and that shows best on the red carpet. Her favorite type of dresses are the long ones that have a little sparkle on them, such as the Armani Privé that she wore to this year’s Academy Awards. The lovely actress never crosses the line, never reveals too much and never becomes Jessica Rabbit.

2. Jessica Chastain is a Veganjessica chastain vegan

Yes, Jessica Chastain cares so much about animals that she became a vegan. She’s been a vegan for 6 years and a vegetarian for 15.

She said that:

I don’t want to torture anything. It’s about trying to live a life where I’m not contributing to the cruelty in the world….While I am on this planet, I want everyone I meet to know that I am grateful they are here.

Her devotion to veganism brought her the title of 2012’s Sexiest Vegetarian Celebrity, along with Woody Harrelson.

3. Jessica Chastain’s Perfect Hair Colorjessica chastain hair color

Some have called it marigold red, rose gold red or simply copper, but one thing’s for sure: her signature red hair turns heads and enchants both men and women. If you’re looking to emulate this wonderful color, we suggest you don’t try it at home. This color may be quite popular at this moment, but it doesn’t suit everybody.

4. Jessica Chastain’s Lovely Dogjessica chastain chaplin

Just look at that amazing pooch! The beautiful Jessica brought her lovely dog, Chaplin, on the New York City set of her new film, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby. The dog is a rescue and has three legs. What does this tell us about Jessica? That she has a heart of gold and loves animals. Jessica is not married, but she does have a boyfriend, Gian Luca Passi De Preposulo, an Italian-born executive who works for French fashion house Moncler. As far as dating famous people, Jessica has also had a relationship with British heart throb, Tom Hiddleston.

5. Jessica Chastian’s Bodyjessica chastain body

We hope we don’t upset anybody when we say that Jessica Chastain has a rocking body. We don’t know the 37-year-old’s exact measurements, but we do know her height, she’s 5′ 4″ (1.63 m) tall and apparently weighs 123.5 pounds (56 kg). The actress got even more voluptuous, because her role in The Help required her to do so. How did she gain 15 pounds? She said that:

I had to be soft and curvy, so I ate a lot of soy. Soy helps you become curvy because it has estrogen in it. So what I would do — and this is really gross — is buy cartons of soy ice cream, microwave it and drink it. It was disgusting, [but] wait [until] you see my boobs in the movie.

But did she like gaining all the weight? Definitely not, as she called the whole process a form of torture.

We love that she’s not afraid to appear in the nude in her movies. The red-haired actress has appeared naked/topless in two movies: Lawless and in Jolene, where she also had a hot sex scene.

If you’re still hungry for pics, photos and info about Jessica Chastain, you can read her bio on wiki and IMDB, find a photo gallery on a Jessica Chastain fansite (there’s one around every corner)/Tumblr and gawk all you want. You can get in touch with the gorgeous actress through her Twitter.

AMC The Walking Dead – 5 Reasons to Watch This Show

Ever since its debut back in 2010, on AMC The Walking Dead has proven an absolute hit with both likely fans of the zombie survival genre, as well as with newcomers. The show takes place in the state of Georgia, following a zombie apocalypse and follows a group of survivors as they try to stay safe in the dangerous new world filled with deadly “walkers” and violent human survivors, as well as the dilemmas they face in their attempt to maintain their humanity. Developed by Frank Darabont and based on the comic book of the same name by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, and Charlie Adlard, the show is now in its fifth season, having been renewed for at least a sixth season, as well. If you remain unconvinced, here are a further 5 reasons to watch this show.

1.     It’s probably the best TV series based on a comic book ever made

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While popular culture seems to have been flooded by high-quality comics adaptations, the big names appeared to have stuck with feature film so far, offering critical and commercial successes like The Dark Knight or The Avengers, TV series have been deprived of such crossovers, bar some notable 90s cult classic like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and The Tick. What’s more, the source material is not rendered redundant by the show, due to the myriad of liberties the latter takes with the plot, leaving much of the original story yet to be explored.

2.     It’s the best time to get into it

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What with three more episodes until the mid-season break for season 5, you have until February to finally schedule a marathon of the previous seasons. Being able to rip through four and a half seasons at your own pace is a luxury that was not available to those that started watching the show starting with season 1, back in 2010. As with many TV series, season 2 and season 3 hold the most consistently positive reviews, giving you the opportunity to see the best the show has to offer before continuing the season 5 which, after a somewhat more slow season 4, appears to have swayed back both critics and fans and, if it does manage to sustain the pace it has set for itself, might become the best season yet.

3.      You can watch it in so many places

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Outside the obviously TV option, if you like to set the pace yourself and stream TV series,  all you have to do is to go on AMC The Walking Dead. For the price of the channels’ basic package you can watch full episodes on www.amc.com. Besides amc.com, every single episode of the first four seasons is now on Netflix and are just waiting for you to dig into them. If you are more of an old-school consumer that watches digital distribution and online streaming with a suspicious eye – or maybeyour internet connection is not that fast – all four  complete seasons are available on DVD.

4.     There’s plenty of content beyond the TV series.

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Obviously the comic book series that inspired the show is a great place to start if you just can’t get enough Dead. First issued in 2003 and ongoing, the now 134 issues strong series became an instant classic long before the TV series, being one of the most talked about comic book series in recent years. Moreover, adding to the already four and a half seasons that you can dig into right now, a number of free webisodes, Internet-exclusive short clips, are also available, working to further develop the Walking Dead world and offer background on some of the characters. Another perk is the wide array of merchandise in various online stores that further brings together the show’s fan base.

5.     And then, there’s the games.

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In 2012, adventure game veterans Telltale Games started releasing an episodic video game based on the series, followed by a second season the following year. Unlike the usual rampage type of game, the series insists more on moral dilemmas and important decisions by the player, rather than action, garnering the game huge critical appraisal, including over 90 “Game of the Year” awards. If something more action packed is, however, more your speed, 2016 will see the release of a cooperative first-person shooter based not on the AMC The Walking Dead, but on the original comic book, where players can join up with friends to wreak havoc among the hordes of walkers, biters and lurker.

 

What Caused Michael Douglas Cancer and How to Avoid It

The internet is always an ever-hungry place for rumors and gossip about celebrities. From Madonna’s alleged plastic surgeries to the illnesses that occasionally befall a celebrity, people seem to not be able to get enough of tabloid-style gossip and nasty comments. So is also the Michael Douglas cancer case, which got the internet all fired up about licentious rumors regarding how exactly he contracted it and speculating in a mean way about his personal life. Ever since news of his diagnosis (throat cancer with the HPV virus as a probable cause) broke out in 2012, the world was up and about to comment about his relationship with Catherine Zeta-Jones and to speculate about how their private activities michael-douglasmay have caused his cancer, or to look at recent pictures of him in the hopes of catching a glimpse of the tumor.

 

The truth is that the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is a DNA type of virus which can infect humans in a lot of different ways, sexual transmission being just one of them. A body with a low immune system can easily contract this virus just by exposure to it through environmental factors. We all have periods in which our immune system performs poorly, due to a lot of reasons: age, physical strain, a long period of fasting or dieting, stress, exhaustion, convalescence after a few illnesses in a row (like three bouts of the flu in a single season) and so on. Most HPV infections are silent (exhibit no symptoms) and only develop benign tumors (warts) after a while, or they can slowly transform these small tumors into cancers. This is what happened also in the Michael Douglas case, but it does not automatically mean that his illness was caused directly by sexual activity or that his trouble should invite lurid or mean comments. (Yes, we’re pretty upset with the internet whenever we see this kind of behavior regarding a story of illness – therefore you’ll find no photos of celebs in a vulnerable time here.)

Preventing HPV

Returning to the Michael Douglas cancer case, we believe that a far more constructive approach would be to simply focus on raising awareness for HPV infections and to focus on a better prevention of oral cancer (and cancer in general, since HPV is rarely associated with mouth or tongue cancer and usually causes cervical cancer). Therefore, we highly encourage you to spread this information: the HPV virus can be deadly if left undiagnosed and untreated until it reaches a stage 4 cancer in silence, but it is very easy to fight if caught early on.

To prevent infection with HPV (if we should all learn a lesson from the Michael Douglas cancer story, this is it), three steps should be considered. The first and most direct route is to have the vaccine against it – as of this year there are even two new generation vaccines on the market in many countries, and they have shown impressive results in keeping this virus at bay. If you would consider having this a vaccination as early in life as possible (as soon as puberty hits), then the virus would have very, very low chances of ever infecting you.

The second measure you can take against HPV is to have regular check-ups and screenings. For women of all ages – no matter if they’re doing anything considered unsafe behavior or not – a Pap smear once a year is basically a guarantee that you’ll never be too sick to receive treatment. The tricky thing about this virus – and what unfortunately led to the Michael Douglas cancer case – is that the illness doesn’t manifest itself until late, and if you have no symptoms you won’t be able to catch it at the right time. That’s why regular screenings and updates from your doctor are vital.

Third, and perhaps most importantly, try to avoid bringing your immune system down by keeping active but not strained, making sure you get enough fresh fruit and vegetables, but not over-dieting, and getting some fresh air and sunlight at least every other day. It may sound very simple, and it actually is, but if we’re busy we can find ourselves on the slippery slope of self-neglect very soon. Last, but not least, don’t forget that intense stress is the most powerful factors that damages our immune system, so try to avoid it as much as you can and remember to take care of yourself in the midst of everything else you need to do.

5 Angelina Jolie Movies You Should See

We all know Angelina Jolie. Whether it’s for her famous voluptuous lips, for the famous couple she’s a part of, Brangelina, for her powerful acting, for her ambassadorial work or for her numerous children, her presence as a brand is a fact. As an actress, she has won several awards granting her talent. We’re so used to admiring the beautiful Angelina on screen that we want to remind you5 Angelina Jolie movies you should see. These are the best depictions of her beauty, as well as some of her best interpretations.

1. Changeling

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The mother of a missing child, here Angelina has some of the few roles than doesn’t involve her sexuality as poignant as in other movies. She is depicted as a desperate and fighting mom who tries to solve the mysterious disappearance of her child. She unintentionally discovers something is not right when the LAPD gives her back a child who is not her own. Later, when she tries to fight it, she ends up in an asylum. The whole plot contains themes of female dis-empowerment and corruption of public servants.  It is one piece of a lengthy movie, 2 hours and 20 minutes, but we promise that it’s a good deal.

2.  Maleficent

Angelina Jolie Movies

Here Angelina plays the beautiful villain who is a young and accepting lady turned into a stone when she suffers a cruel betrayal from her loved one. She curses Aurora, the child of her former lover, now an enemy, but later she realizes, as the plot develops, that she cares for the child. The movie is full of humorous scenes where Angelina plays the funny role, lacking the dark drama usually surrounding the villain and making her character actually easy to empathize with.

3.  The Tourist

Angelina Jolie Movies

As in many other movies, Angelina plays here the role of an international spy who accidentally meets a disoriented Johnny Depp as a tourist. The combination of the two actors is quite interesting, adding more to the plot. This is one of the movies you can admire her beauty in lots of ad-like scenes, with Angelina posing with smiles for camera while surrounded by men in Venice.

4. Mr & Mrs. Smith

 Angelina Jolie Movies

From our list of 5 Angelina Jolie movies, Mr. & Mrs. Smith is the romantic action comedy movie type. Here Angelina plays the role of a married professional killer who finds out she needs to kill her husband. Who happens to be a killer himself, also hired to kill her. The plot develops into an action movie with snarky and funny lines between the two husbands, as they fight each other to death. Although not her best movie, here Angelina is highly entertaining and in the first part of the movie we can see a seriously troubled marriage developing under our eyes, with sarcastic lines exchanged between the two hubbies.

5. Girl, Interrupted

Angelina Jolie Movies

This is one of the most powerful movies Angelina has played in up so far. A graphic depiction of mental illness, Girl, Interrupted conveys a story of women in mental institutions. Here she plays the role of Lisa, a cool sociopath, the best friend role of the main character, Susanna, one drama queen who voluntarily checked herself in the mental institution. Lisa is a continuous inmate, making her way out and in the hospital and occasionally being put into a straitjacket. The plot is developing in the 1960’s and it describes how strongly patriarchal mental institutions were. Moreover, it brought Angelina Jolie an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, when she was only 24 years old.