30 September 2006

Succinct Film Reviews

Saw The Last King of Scotland today.

My review (imagine it being recited by Billy Connolly)

It's a strange way to be entertained, but entertaining it bloody well is.

That's the short version. But, sometimes that's not enough to get folks to consider seeking out a smart semi-independent film like this, so here's a bit more.

Forest Whitaker is fantastic as Idi Amin, but this isn't his picture alone.

Not-Noah Wyle 'aka' James McAvoy is the star of the film (I call him not-noah wyle because, first he looks like him, second he plays a doctor, 'nuff said). His role is a meaty one. The swirl of events the film depicts, the tale of temptation it weaves moves along well. It doesn't fall into the trap of sappiness and sentimentality that most films that use a white protagonist to tell a non-white story fall into. There's some scenes of tremendous brutality, played to maximize their impact. This is no easy little popcorn munching bit of entertainment.

That's what I mean by this being a strange way to be entertained. But film can also inform, inspire and instruct. This film doesn't try to do all of that, and that's a good thing. An excess of earnestness would have weighed this thing down and ruined it. Serious stuff happens, but it's presented artfully and with flashes of humor.

I recommend this film, but be warned that it's not an entirely easy experience.

And when I posted earlier that Carina Chocano was pulling her anti-colonial nonsense straight out of her ass, I wasn't far wrong. The lessons she grabbed from this film, are far simpler than what the film really conveys. There are some hints as to British complicity in the problems suffered by Uganda, but this film doesn't diminish the domestic causes for their suffering.

It's still a great mystery why there are no Singapores in Africa. The local tribalism or the legacy of colonialism or the spread of Islam can't explain the suffering. So many of these countries seem to have created an awful amalgamation of the worst characteristics of these three main cultural sources.

It's sad to see all this unfold as it does in this film, yet strangely entertaining.

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