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12-years-a-slaveA UK co-production with numerous high profile Brits involved – it’s no surprise that Steve McQueen’s adaptation of Solomon Northrup’s memoirs has just been nominated for 10 Bafta’s. Thankfully, it also happens to be rather good. 12 Years a Slave sees Chiwetel Ejiofor take on the lead role as the freeman captured and forced to endure 12 years of shocking and degrading abuse as a slave. It’s painful to watch, but this beautifully told film is a must see. And no, Brad Pitt is not the star. Unless you’re in Italy of course.

If you’re tempted by a different kind of suffering, Delivery Man, Vince Vaughn’s new comedy is also out. A remake of the 2011 Canadian film Starbuck, it tells the tale of a man who’s fathered 533 children through a mishap at the sperm bank. Cue jokes about a misconceived comedy. Still, if you need something to recover from 12 Years a Slave, you couldn’t find anything more different.

Finally, The Railway Man wraps up this week’s major releases. Not quite as misleading as Trainspotting, it’s still not the big screen hymn to rail enthusiasts that the title suggests. At least this one, starring Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman, actually involves a railway. Firth is the British officer captured by the Japanese and sent to work on the Thai-Burma line. Unable to get over the torture he underwent, he returns to try and confront his captor. Unlikely to stray too far from the beaten track, it promises at least elements of sturdy drama alongside the equally sturdy leads.

High on many critics’ lists last year, Frances Ha, Noah Baumbach’s comedy-drama, is out now on DVD. Baumbach’s dark biting edge remains, but warmth and a measure of frivolity has been added by star and co-writer Greta Gerwig. You might not want a friend like her, but watching her antics is a different matter. Luckily for you, Culturefly is giving away 3 free copies. Visit here for entry details in order to win this black and white adventure.

See you next week for Scorsese’s arrival at the awards party.

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