13th Screen 84 of 14 reviews

13th

2016

13th Poster
  • The harrowing footage of violence that’s been inflicted upon black bodies in this country is viscerally sickening, while a number of frank admissions from politicians—Newt Gingrich and John Ehrlichman, one of Nixon’s key advisors, among them—will make your blood run cold. This should be required viewing for all Americans, but particularly those so willfully blind as to claim that racism isn’t a problem in this country.

  • It's dense with information, and it moves fast. But it’s also a story told in images, and the ones DuVernay has chosen ring not just with sadness and horror but also cautious optimism. If it’s wrenching to see the face of Emmett Till in his casket, swollen and defiled, there’s joy in the photographs that accompany the closing credits, images of black family life in America from the late 19th century to today, as it ought to be and sometimes has been.

  • The documentary teems with facts and archive footage. The mass of information can be intimidating, but the argumentation is well-constructed, divided into three chronological chapters with interludes using hip-hop songs to give breathing space. Like them, The 13th is a protest piece animated by a palpable sense of urgency.

  • Building her case as methodically and irrefutably as a crack trial lawyer, DuVernay documents the forces behind the criminalization, incarceration and murder of black Americans, from the institutionalized violence and dehumanization of slavery to the dog-whistle politics of the present.

  • Ava DuVernay’s brilliantly analytical and morally passionate documentary traces the current-day mass incarceration of black Americans to its historical origins in the Thirteenth Amendment.

  • Powerful, infuriating and at times overwhelming, Ava DuVernay’s documentary “13TH” will get your blood boiling and tear ducts leaking. It shakes you up, but it also challenges your ideas about the intersection of race, justice and mass incarceration in the United States, subject matter that could not sound less cinematic. Yet Ms. DuVernay has made a movie that’s as timely as the latest Black Lives Matter protest and the approaching presidential election.

  • Even the roster of speakers testifies to DuVernay's acumen as a producer and public presence, ranging from The New Jim Crow author Michelle Alexander and Van Jones to Newt Gingrich and Grover Norquist. There are moments when the slickness of the filmmaking works opposite the tragic material to uncanny effect, but the imperative to render discussion in conversational, human terms balances out the speed and force of 13th's breathless delivery of the hard facts.

  • A disturbing, expansive chronicle of national shame, excavating with clinical precision the long history of racial inequality in the United States.

  • Persuasive and well put together and It is actually a pleasure to watch American discursive pragmatism applayed to the usual more rambling essay film format. My only serious misgiving is that like a lot of similar docs, this feels unsure who it really is for.

  • When Quentin Tarantino said, without having seen it, that DuVernay’s Selma was more like a TV movie that would have been made in the 1970s than an actual work of cinema, he could not have predicted how DuVernay would turn the opportunity to make a movie for Netflix into an act of defiance.

  • DuVernay's film is often a bit blunt in its presentation of its data -- it is more of a teaching tool than a piece of documentary cinema -- but she draws on credible, verifiable sources as well as expert testimony from some of the nation's leading intellectuals. As a presentation of vital information, 13this unimpeachable.

  • Visually, the movie offers little more than the standard arrangement of talking heads, archival footage and animated visual aids, but that’s all it takes to make its incendiary statements resonate across time. While not the strongest filmmaking achievement of the year, it’s certainly the most relevant — a scattershot survey that consolidates some 150 years of American history to show how the country’s current problems with race didn’t happen overnight.

  • The 13th, which I will admit to watching on Netflix after LFF, is brilliant for what it sheds light upon, while its rigour and aesthetics fall flat. DuVernay doesn’t have to do much to prove her point: America is racist and slavery still exists. It would take great ignorance to be surprised by this, but, if contemporary politics in the US and UK are anything to go by, the film’s thesis is likely to be met with surprise.

  • Not a bad film, exactly—just one that I didn't need to watch, telling me a whole lot of things that I already know. First half hour in particular laboriously outlines 20th-century racial politics, assuming ignorance of such basics as The Birth of a Nation, Jim Crow laws, and the Southern strategy; I felt like I'd accidentally wandered into an 8th-grade history class, started wondering if maybe there were some papers I could correct.

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