Monday, January 14, 2008

Ugandan Discussions

Film club was once again reduced to its slimline version as Dong is off gallivanting somewhere, throwing beermats at bemused publicans and expecting payment from assorted local government departments for his efforts. I've just realised that his job sounds really daft when you write down what he actually does.

Anyway Millbrook's own favourite Auntie Shazzerooneypoos arrived earlier than usual to join us for a pot-roast beef Sunday dinner before the screening of this week's film: Kevin MacDonald's 2006 offering The Last King of Scotland.

I found myself in a minority of one over this one. Mrs The Millbrooker and Shazzerooneypoos both enjoyed it and felt themselves well entertained; I didn't really get on with it. So, to be fair, I have to say that they disagreed almost entirely with my misgivings.

On the plus side Forest Whitaker's performance as Idi Amin was a tremendous piece of work. He managed to capture something of the roguish charm that so many despots seem to possess whilst always hinting at the murderous sociopath not far beneath the skin. A performance that won the best actor Oscar, and deserved to.

There are other noteworthy performances, too. Gillian Anderson is convincing as a sexually frustrated wife in rural Africa and the leading role of the young (and rather priapic) Dr Nicholas Garrigan is played with aplomb by James McAvoy; the character is never allowed to become particularly likable and I often found myself wanting to slap him around the chops whilst shouting something along the lines of "stupid, stupid boy", a bit like I want to when someone in the real world says "I'm not interested in politics" or "I really like BoyZone and Take That".

What I found unsatisfying was that the film couldn't quite make up its mind what it wanted to be: a bio-pic, a thriller, a romance/love story, docu-drama and so on. It could have been something quite special in any one of those guises, but through what appeared to be directorial indecision an opportunity to make a great film got missed and a more moderate one got made instead.

In summary, whilst it's nowhere near as dull as Death in Venice, I switched the DVD player off at the end of the film feeling disappointed despite the fine acting. Perhaps I missed something. Perhaps I was just out of sorts. Perhaps it just wasn't as good as it should have been.

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