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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

Tag Archives: Kevin Macdonald

Marley (2012)

No way in hell this dude smoked pot.

Most of you out there may know him as Bob Marley, but you don’t know half the story of the man who’s real name was Nesta Robert Marley, and was also of mixed-races. That’s right, his father was white, and rarely ever saw him which lead to Bob finding one escape from this harsh-reality that he could: music. Oh, and weed too, but being from Jamaica, that pretty goes without saying. Anyway, this movie traces Marley’s existence from his birth in 1945, to his sudden death of cancer at the age of 36. It was a short life, but what a life it truly was.

 

Thus, the beginning of the weed-smoking days.

Thus, the beginning of the weed-smoking days.

So often now, whenever we see a story about an inspirational musician, we get their backstory about how their lives growing-up blew, their mommies and daddies were killed, they had no real family, they were orphans, they were sad, they had drug problems, etc., but rarely do we ever get to see the story of the person who grew up reasonably well, was happy with his family for the most part, and surprisingly, didn’t have many problems with his self-image. Sure, the man was sometimes made a fool because his parents were of different races, but the way the movie approaches this very real fact, it’s almost like an afterthought.

Until, we see just how his life would be sculpted out of this one aspect of his life.

But still, for the most part, life for Bob Marley was a relatively pleasant one that was filled with joy, happiness, thoughts, and plenty of weed. However, things weren’t always so bright and shiny for the world around him, which is why Bob decided to take that sweet, everlasting voice of his, get a guitar, find a microphone, and express what he felt and saw from day-to-day, all through the power of music. Music is one of the best ways you can learn anything about anyone, and with Bob Marley, there was no exception because the man was never afraid to let you know what he felt in a song, how he felt it, and what the ultimate conclusion to his thoughts were supposed to be.

See what I mean?

Many people heard these thoughts and conclusions and, believe it or not, were changed, right then and there. Bob Marley not only influenced people within the reggae/ska genre, but even went so far as to influence countries in a way that was never, ever seen before, not even by musicians. The man knew this too, and never, not for a second, used it to harm’s will. He was always there for the people who loved him the most, the country that supported his ass throughout all of the growth-years, and most surprisingly of all, gave free concerts to regions that were filled with so many poor people, that even asking a dollar for a ticket would have been too pricey (in today’s day and age, a free concert is a sign of a saint).

But the question begs: Why did this man do all of this? Well, it was all because he had a voice, he had dreams, he had hopes, and he had a voice, and everybody wanted to hear it. And hell, he was not afraid to share it with anybody either.

However, Marley doesn’t set out to totally lionize the subject, either. Issues about his own family, feelings, political stances, all that, are touched on here. No stone is left unturned and it’s why, at nearly three hours, the movie can feel a bit excessive, but by the same token, it’s also giving us the full picture of this man we all think we know, yet, don’t actually know nearly as much as we think we do. That’s how the best documentaries work and it’s why Marley works best.

It gives us all that we need to, should, and better know, whether we knew we wanted it or not.

But nonetheless, director Kevin Macdonald still gives us the look at Marley, his life, and everything that he did with it, in a way that not only shines respect for the iconic-artist, but shows how his voice still holds up today, and is a true testament to just how far and wide one is able to go with their documentary’s subject, no matter how iconic or famous they may already be.

 

Consensus: Marley is longer than most documentaries that have to deal with musicians, but when your subject is Bob Marley, and you speak with everybody that knew him the closest, you have plenty of time, plenty of rhymes, and plenty of…well..material to work with. Sorry, couldn’t keep it going all the way.

8.5 / 10

"This next track is for all of the white kids that can't handle chores and being it at 11. Mon."

“This next track is for all of the white kids that can’t handle chores and being in at 11. ‘Mon.”

Photos Courtesy of: Magnolia Pictures

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State of Play (2009)

Bloggers can’t pull off stunts like this. Not even me. And I’m Dan the Man, dammit!

Washington D.C. reporter, Cal McAffrey (Russell Crowe) is the type of guy you want telling the news. He gets his facts straight, no bias-stance whatsoever, and he always seems to find an impressive hook on how to make it worth reading or caring about. The latest story that comes his way, puts him in a bit of a rough position because not only is one of his close friends involved with it, Congressman Stephen Collins (Ben Affleck), but because it’s surprisingly a life-or-death situation that escalated to that level quite quickly. With young, hot-and-ready reporter Della Frye (Rachel McAdams), he’ll figure out who exactly was Collin’s mistress, whether her death was a suicide or a murder, why somebody would want her dead, and whether or not it’s even worth risking their life for. Then again though, he works at a newspaper, and I think any story, is a story worth telling, so he’ll go with what he can get.

"Be careful, Rachel. We all know what he does with phones when he's upset."

Be careful, Rachel. We all know what he does with phones when he’s upset.

Surely a movie about a newspaper industry seems already dated, way before conception and release, but that’s where this flick works so well. It is a modern-day thriller, where computers, the internet, smart phones, and texting reigns supreme; however, director Kevin MacDonald also frames this movie in a way that makes you feel like you’re watching one of those old-school, classy, and cool thrillers from the 70’s, where conspiracies ran high, and it was all up to the dedicated reporter to get the truth out. Nowadays, it seems like you go anywhere for any bits of news information, everybody knows about it and has reasoning/sources, but that makes it so sweet to get a flick that reminds us that the old methods of information-sharing still exists, even if it isn’t used quite as often as it once was. Then again, maybe being the fact that I’m a Journalism Major makes me more sympathetic to the issue.

Actually, that’s most likely the reason, but so be it!

Anyway, the film. What works well here is that even though it does seem to be very dense in every piece of detail, every clue, and every hint it throws at us, it never feels confusing. Practically, we are strung along on a trip of finding out anything we can about what’s going on, and are left in the dark about other stuff as well. We think we get the full picture more than a couple of times, and then, we are thrown right for a loop when a slight piece of info comes out and proves us wrong. It messes with our minds and has us curious by how it’s all going to pan-out; but it never feels manipulative.

Where most thrillers would make have conceit becomes over-used and overstay its welcome, MacDonald uses it more to his advantage, in a way to almost coax us into believing all that we hear and see as fact, and nothing but it. With most thrillers like these, we can’t always expect to take in all that’s thrown at us as pure fact, but we do have to believe in it, and I never felt like I was seeing a movie that went maybe a bit too over-zealous with its twists. Mainly, I always felt like MacDonald always knew what he was doing, what he wanted to show us, what he didn’t want to show us, what he wanted us to think at certain moments, and how he wanted us to feel when certain conclusions were made. Many times you’ll be surprised with where one twist will take you, but such is the skill of a thriller, when it’s a thriller done right. And to add on the fact that it’s a movie about the dedication and hardships that reporters take when it comes to getting their stories right, while also making sure to get them out there first; it’s almost like adding a cherry on top. Especially for me.

What can I say? I’m a sucker for these types of movies. Twisty-thrillers and movies about journalists!

But while the movie does work in keeping us on an unpredictable, turny path, it does show some weaknesses as well, ones that became more apparent to me once I got to thinking of them. First of all, I think that having the friendship-clash between Collins and McAffrey works as its own thing, so therefore, to throw in Collins’ wife to the mix, as to set-up some sort of love-triangle, feels manipulative and unnecessary. Don’t get me wrong, Robin Wright is solid as Collins’ wife, as she plays around with the feeling of being betrayed by her own husband, but also curious enough to get him right back. She’s the perfect form of snidely, evil, and sexy that I’ve ever seen from her, but her character doesn’t need to be used in this light, or even at all. She definitely brings on more guilt to the Collins character, but other than that: Not much else.

While I’m on the subject of the cast, let me just say that all-around, this is a very solid ensemble that feels as if they were hand-picked, for good reasons: 1.) they can all act, and 2.) they actually get a chance to show the mainstream world what they can do when they aren’t slumming themselves down for Hollywood. Russell Crowe seems like he’s a bit too brutish and tough to be taken seriously as this meek and soft, but determined reporter, but somehow, the guy pulls it off very believably. There’s an essence to his character where you know you can trust him to do the right thing, but you don’t quite know if he’s going to get coaxed into doing it, or not. Actually, that’s a pretty interesting point about his personality that movie brings up, but never really develops further, is the fact that not only does he have a job to do, which indicates responsibility, but he has a friend that he obviously cares for and wants to protect. So, basically: What does he do? Turn on his friend, and give the world the spicy story, no details left aside, or, does he stay true to his friend, and give the public a story that has him come out unscathed? The movie sheds this light a couple of times, but by the end, totally loses all sense of it and just stops worrying about it after awhile. Could have really done wonders for itself, but sadly, just does not.

Batman getting rough with Kal-El's daddy? Is this a sign of things to come?!?!

Batman getting rough with Kal-El’s daddy? Is this a sign of things to come?!?!

Boo.

Playing Congressman Stephen Collins is Ben Affleck, and I have to say, the guy does quite a swell job here. No, he’s not perfect and he isn’t as enthralling as you’d expect a conflicted-figure like his to be, but he does what the roles asks upon him to do: Show enough feeling to where you could be viewed upon as “sympathetic”, but not too weak to where you don’t seem like you couldn’t be a bit of a rat-bastard as well. With that idea, Affleck does wonders and shows the rest of the world that he can still act (even though by ’09, people already knew that).

Rachel McAdams is also a fiery-sword as the young and brass blogger that hops aboard this story, and seems to be really enjoying herself, whether it’s when she has her time on her own, or if she’s around fellow co-stars and gets a chance to strut her stuff. Either way, she holds her own and doesn’t come off as annoying, or way-too-in-over-her-head or anything along those lines. She’s just Rachel McAdams, and that’s perfect as is.

The rest of the stacked-cast is pretty awesome too, with some getting more notice than the others: I wish there was more of Helen Mirren, but then again, I feel like that could be a criticism for any movie, so I’ll leave it be with that; pre-Newsroom Jeff Daniels shows that he has the acting chops to, one minute, be playing a sophisticated charmer, and then the next minute, be as corrupt and evil as the same politicians he talks out against; Viola Davis gets a short, but sweet cameo as a morgue-employee; and Jason Bateman shows up all coked-up, high-living, and fun as one of Collins’ known-associates, and almost steals the movie all by himself. Almost.

Consensus: Sure, State of Play is nothing more than a classic-piece of deception, cheating, lying, and suspense, all placed around the idea of a newspaper, but for that reason, it’s still entertaining and compelling to watch.

7.5 / 10 = Rental!!

In this situation, I think Helen Mirren is the one to be feared the most.

In this situation, I think Helen Mirren is the one to be feared the most.

Photo’s Credit to: Thecia.Com.Au

Black Sea (2015)

Submariners are the new pirates. Thankfully, no Jack Sparrow.

After all of he and his buddies get laid-off from their jobs, a submarine captain named Robinson (Jude Law) catches wind of a possible way to make plenty of dough. The only problem is that it’s from a sketchy backer (Tobias Menzies), who may or may not be exactly who he says he is. However, Robinson isn’t taking any chances because what he really wants is that money so that he can get himself, as well as his lads, back to see their families. So, Robinson gets a rough, ragged and culturally diverse group together and lets them know right away that he won’t put up with any sort of shenanigans going on/around the submarine. Problem is, after he tells them this, he also lets everybody know that they’ll all get equal shares of whatever it is that they find in the sea. Which brings up the question: If people know that there share’s get bigger, once some crew-members die-off, then will they commit any sort of wrongdoings? Well, Robinson and the rest of the crew are about to find out first hand, which wouldn’t be so bad if they weren’t at the bottom of the pitch black sea itself.

"It's either my way, or the highway! Or, erhm, wherever we stop for air next!"

“It’s either my way, or the highway! Or, erhm, wherever we stop for air next!”

Submarine thrillers, more or less, depend on one element and one element mostly to get its viewers paying attention: Claustrophobia. It works in all of the biggest and best movies in a submarine, and with good reason – normally, people don’t like enclosed spaces they can’t get out of. It doesn’t matter if they’re watching it, or simply witnessing it from a first-hand account, if you are able to create the allusion that you have to be up close and person with the walls that surround you, or else you’ll have to perish, then you’ve already done your job. People will instantly freaked-out and very tense.

This is the element that director Kevin Macdonald uses, but it’s not the only card he shows. Rather than just showing the audience these enclosed-spaces, with plenty of men sweating, Macdonald also takes time to focus on the dynamics amongst the crew that may, or may not, bring everything to ahead. That the crew is split-up between Russians and non-Russians, already gives you the impression that anybody could flip out on another person, because they may have misconstrued something in the wrong manner.

But once again, Macdonald does not stop there. And a part of me sort of wishes he did.

Because while the movie has plenty of excitement going for itself with the constantly yelling, running, crashing, shooting, and explorations into the deep blue sea, there are moments where it feels like maybe Macdonald and writer Dennis Kelly aren’t totally comfortable with just having these various characters argue and threaten one another to create tension. Instead, there’s got to be more twists added-on that maybe, just maybe, these guys are doing this all for nothing? Or maybe, these guys don’t have anything else to live for, so in a way, this job was nothing more than a swan song for all parties involved? Either way, the story gets a little too wrapped up in itself and it made me wish that Macdonald and Kelly trusted themselves enough to know that the simple they kept it, the better it was. The more that they threw on, only complicated matters much worse.

However, there is something to be said for a submarine thriller that is able to be just that, thrilling, without ever feeling like it’s re-inventing the wheel that’s been steered so firmly many times before. Macdonald doesn’t get into the mechanics of this submarine, as much as he just shows what works, why and how it can work for the group. It’s a simple understanding between the audience and the director that we don’t too often get in movies such as these; more special because Macdonald himself doesn’t seem to want to throw any of his intelligence on the audience members who may not know a single thing about submarines except that they go deep underwater and stuff. Macdonald shows an appreciation, almost an adoration for these submarines, but he never forces us to follow him and his love for them – simply, he just wants us to watch as these chums all try their hardest to pull off the greatest heist in submarine history ever.

The face you just can't trust.

The face you just can’t trust.

That said, Macdonald gets a lot of mileage out of his cast, most especially Jude Law in the kind of unattractive, challenging role we’ve been seeing him taken as of late. As Captain Robinson, Jude Law uses a Scottish-accent that may seem like no biggie at first, until you realize that it gives him this kind of hard-edge to make you think that this guy’s seen it all in the world, been through hell and back, and is just trying to make a living, regardless of if it is a simple one or not. With this role and the title-character in Dom Hemingway, Law has proven himself to be a far-better, more talented actor than most of us maybe had taken him for in the past. Sure, he’s still got his good looks, but he’s also getting up there in age and it’s finally about time that he’s at least approached this aspect of his life, and allowed for it to play-off so well in his career-choices.

In other words, I’m interested in seeing what “old-head Jude Law” has to offer.

Though Law’s definitely the one to pay most attention in this flick, he isn’t the only one who leaves a mark as there are character actors aplenty in this ensemble and all of them put in great work. Ben Mendelsohn, as you could suspect, plays something of a trouble-maker early-on, only to then slightly turn the other cheek and become something of a nice guy, even if he’s one you know to never fully trust, no matter how many times he says to grab his hand and pull-up; Konstantin Khabensky is one of the Russians here who doesn’t speak much English, but leaves you with the impression that he wants the same thing as his non-Russian counterparts want, and are just as capable of pulling-off some evil acts of vandalism as well; and Scoot McNairy, despite clearly being the odd duckling out of the whole group, fits in well as the whiny, annoying member who had to come along for the ride, but also works as the voice of reason well enough to put this whole story into perspective and remind all of these characters who they are all on this mission for in the first place – their families.

Consensus: Without trying to change the game of submarine thrillers, Black Sea is a tense, rather fun piece that focuses on all aspects of its story well enough that it makes the finale all the more effective, even if the twists do get a tad over-zealous with themselves.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

Marcellus Wallace's dirty laundry?

Marsellus Wallace’s dirty laundry?

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

How I Live Now (2013)

Angst-fueled teens vs. the Military. Wonder who will win that bout?

Spoiled, US teen Daisy (Saoirse Ronan) gets shipped away from her dad, all the way to her Aunt’s place in the English countryside where she is uncomfortable, pissed off and annoyed with her surroundings, practically every second of every day. She notices that her cousins are too free-living and spirited for her own good, so therefore, she ridicules them by shouting out insults at them, telling them to leave her alone and basically just having this whole sour-puss feeling towards them whenever they want her to do something fun, exciting or useful with their days that doesn’t just concern sitting at home, listening to hip, cool indie bands and/or going on the interweb and chatting with all the coolies. However, Daisy does begin to lighten up a bit when she catches the eye of Edmond (George MacKay), a house-keeper of the family, and suddenly finds herself happy and pleased with these new quarters she’s surrounded by. Even though Daisy and everything with her cousins seem to be going all mighty fine and swell, it isn’t until a full-blown nuclear war begins and the military intervenes, separating all of them and sending them to war camps where they are practically enslaved by their own government, without much hope of seeing the outside world ever again. Daisy won’t let this stand though, and instead, decides that it’s time to escape and find the ones she was sent to stay with in the first place.

Cut out both of their faces and past Bella's and Edward's on there, and you'll see no difference.

Cut out both of their faces and past Bella’s and Edward’s on there, and you’ll see no difference.

This is one strange beast of a flick for many reasons, but the main which being is its tone. For instance, the first-half of this movie starts off something like a Twilight movie where young teens are seen frolicking around, falling in love, smiling and listening to a bunch of cool songs which, needless to say, got very boring to watch. It wasn’t because it didn’t offer anything new, it was just that it was uninteresting because there was nothing really going on except for a young girl falling in love and somehow coming into her own as a woman. That meant it was only an amount of time before things switched gears and got very, very dark, which is probably where this movie really began to work its magic.

See, about half-way through, director Kevin Macdonald practically pulls the rug out from underneath us by placing us inside this very bleak, unrelenting and grim movie about two young girls trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world that’s been shattered by death, nuclear attacks and insane amounts of war. This part of the film is where I really began to be interested, and yet, I still couldn’t get my head around how differently it felt from the first-half. And like I mentioned, the first half was as weak as could be, but once Macdonald switches gears into a sort of war, survival-flick where the tension and will to live is amped-up, it felt a bit jarring, rather than a smart move on his part.

I liked the fact that Macdonald knew where he wanted to take this material, because it sure as hell showed that he had balls to take something that was a young adult romance, and give it a hard-edged spin on its ass, but it didn’t feel right and after awhile, I began to wonder what type of movie it was that I was watching. But then again, there is that thought in my head that knows I shouldn’t be all that mad at Macdonald because at least this switch kept things interesting and compelling; two elements that the first-half sure as hell wasn’t even close to achieving. So with that, I guess Macdonald deserves credit, but maybe a whole film dedicated to what was the second-half would have probably went down a lot smoother than the sudden change-of-plans that he decided to spring right onto us.

But since that second-half is so good, it’s worth mentioning how unrelenting Macdonald gets with his direction, almost to the point of where I was actually scared in believing something like this could actually happen to modern-day society. Without getting too ham-handed or preachy, there’s certain ideas about what this world might come to in case of a nuclear war in this movie that really rang true to me because while Macdonald doesn’t show an awfully negative view of the world, he still realizes that there is plenty of evil out there, regardless of if a war is going on or not. He doesn’t dig any deeper than that, but I think the ideas that were laid-out on the table were enough for me to be fully invested in what happened with this plot, and to these characters that inhabited it.

That said, Saoirse Ronan really does come into her own with this role as Daisy, showing us why she’s one of the best young actresses working today. And heck, she’s not even 20 yet! Though she did have a major set-back with the Host earlier this year, Ronan still shows promise in the way she’s able to carry herself as this self-righteous, spoiled brat that all of a sudden changes her mind once love and war gets in the way of things. The change her character has may have rang a little false, but that’s more of the scripts problem than it is of Ronan’s and I have to give her credit because she makes this character always worth rooting for, even in her most questionable acts and decisions, which come to light many of times throughout the violent last-half.

All they wanted was an autograph!

All they wanted was an autograph!

And everybody else involved with this young cast is great too, except that none of them are really as well-written as Daisy is, and now come to think of it, she wasn’t all that well-written either, it’s just that she had Ronan’s performance to fall back on. These other kiddies don’t fair quite as well as her, which is a bit of a shame, especially for George MacKay as Edmond, the one Daisy takes a liking to. Not only is this kid written like a total dream-boat that’s as unrealistic as you could get, but the romance between these two feels more like an infatuation that would take place over one summer, rather than a full-fledged love story that would have one person dangerously cross the ends of the earth just to be reunited with the other person. Didn’t feel right to me, and while it was easy for me to sort of get by all of that nonsense and pay attention to the harsh world that Macdonald created in front of my eyes, I still couldn’t fully believe in the romance that was supposed to be fueling all of this movie’s emotions and feelings. In fact, I’d wager that if it the story was told the other way around, then it would sure as hell be believable, because what strapping-young lad wouldn’t risk his life and limbs to be with Saoirse Ronan just one last time before the world goes to total shit? Lord knows I would, but then again, I’m a total sucker for young starlet babes, so sue me!

Consensus: The change-in-tone in How I Live Now is pretty jarring, and will most likely confuse the hell out of some viewers, but once this transition does happen, the movie becomes a whole lot more interesting, compelling, emotional and important, especially if you take into consideration the world we live in now, and what could happen if the same consequences presented here were to occur. Think about it, people! Think about it!

7 / 10 = Rental!!

Now, THIS is what real teen romance is like.

Now, THIS is what real teen romance is like.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Life in a Day (2011)

You know what makes life even grander? NOT LIVING IT WITH A CAMERA ALWAYS ON AND ATTACHED TO YOUR DAMN BODY!!!

Directors Kevin Macdonald and Ridley Scott got together to concoct a simple experiment, with not-so simple results: Ask that people from all over the globe submit footage of what they do on YouTube on the day that was Saturday, July 24, 2010. Over 65,000 hours of footage was submitted, and from those 65,000 hours, they were able to spruce together an-hour-and-a-half movie that shows what people do on an average day. Sometimes these people’s days tend to be either sad, happy, or terribly uneventful, but regardless, it is a day in the life of actual human-beings that just so happen to have cameras with them, filming what it is that they do, who they are as people and what they contribute to the world around them, if anything at all.

I must say, in the 21st Century, it is no surprise to me whatsoever that a movie like this has been made. Yes, it seems like a crazy task that would be incredibly daunting for even the most talented filmmakers like Scott or Macdonald to complete, but somehow, they did and the finished-product ends up giving exactly what we were promised in the first place: Lives in the day of many people from all over the world.

Apparently, this type of stuff DOES happen in the world.

Apparently, this type of stuff DOES happen in the world.

While I will admit that some of these pieces of footage aren’t the most exciting things to be seen, they’re still worth seeing for the sole fact that they were made from real people, with real cameras, and real ideas in their mind. Some of the stuff that these people do in front of the camera do seem a little bit like a put-on, but never to the point of where it’s just them smiling for the camera, trying to hog it up as much as they can so they can get a bit of screen-time in the movie. Instead what we get, are people that actually live their lives, regardless of how interesting they may or may not be.

And in that general regard, the movie works because it presents us many different view-points we would have never thought of, not in a million years of looking through, and yet, we are and we can’t help but feel inspired to want to grab your camera, get out and document what you have shaking and baking in your life right now. However, you could also do that all without the camera. You don’t always need it, you know?

There are some cool bits in here like a skydiver’s view as he’s heading towards the ground, a couple of shots of people up in the mountains, and even, a festival in some part of the world where apparently, people started getting all crammed-in and dropping like flies. The cool part about that bit isn’t that people were dying, it was that it was a crisis that actually happened in the world, and better yet, had to happen on that day, with so many people just standing around, documenting every second of it. Imagine if we took more montages of one event as it was happening, from all sorts of different view-points? Maybe everybody would be nicer to each other? Or then again, maybe not? Probably not at all actually, but hell, it’s a thought.

And thoughts is what Macdonald wants you to have when watching this movie, the only problem is that he doesn’t really know which ones. Since this whole movie is such a mixed-bag of submitted videos and the content they include, you never quite know or see where Macdonald’s going with all of this, but instead, trust in him that he’ll at least show some sort of cohesion in the process to where you understand why he’s showing this one clip, after this other one. However, it’s not always cohesive.

For instance, in order to show how, even on this one day, there is some brutal violence occurring in this world, mainly onto animals, Macdonald decides to include a five-minute or so montage of pigs being burned alive, fish being brought out of water and suffocating to death and probably the most jarring clip out of this whole movie, the one that still stampedes into my mind every once and awhile, a clip where we see a cow get shot in the head a couple of times, die and get its slit cut-open at a meat factory. Whoever the person was that decided to not only film this, but send it in as a possible submission, is a messed-up dude that I would not want to meet in the light of day? But the same could also be said for Macdonald for actually including this bit in, as well as the rest of the montage. Have no clue what it was supposed to say, signify or even bring up in terms of questions of our humanity, but it definitely left an impression on me in all of the right, and wrong ways possible.

Oh, I remember the last time I did that.....

Oh, I remember the last time I did that…..

Maybe that was the point after all? Hmm….

Anyway, there are plenty of other times in this movie where I was a little disturbed, but overall, I still felt like Macdonald chose carefully in what he was showing us, and gave us some of the best footage he could skim-through. You could definitely see some cooler, far better videos on YouTube right here, right now, but Macdonald is giving you the best of the bunch; showing you that while you may feel like life sucks or is taken for granted, well some others, sometimes on the opposite end of the Earth, things the same thing, or maybe even the exact opposite. Who knows!?!? What I do know is that all of our lives are made up of something that’s pure and worth sticking around for, no matter what lies in the future. Because none of us know and surely none of us can tell what’s going to happen next in our lives, so why fret over it? Just enjoy the hell out of life and live, dammit!

Consensus: The whole narrative to Life in a Day is a conceit that leaves little to no actual meaning or message, but overall, every clip feels deserving of being seen by all those around the world, no matter how simple, exciting, or slice-of-life they may be. They’re just another part of life, and that’s that.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

So mundane. So life-ish.

So mundane. So life-ish.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

The Last King of Scotland (2006)

Fear the lazy eye.

Scottish doctor Nicholas Garrigan (James McAvoy) has just graduated from school and has no idea what to do with his life, nor how to make the best use of his talents. He then decides to spin his globe, stop it with his finger, and wherever it lands, he will go to and try out his profession there. Miraculously, his finger lands on Uganda, which leads him to an even more miraculous twist of fate when he becomes very close with Uganda’s most iconic, most barbaric figures in history: Idi Amin (Forest Whitaker). At first, they develop a friendship over sheer understanding and joyfulness of just being around one another, but once things in Uganda start to get hotter and more riotous, Amin’s true colors show, and their friendship becomes strained. So strained that James wants to leave and get the hell out of town, yet, what he doesn’t know is that when he accepted Amin’s friendship, he also accepted all of the problems and pitfalls that would come along with the man’s dictatorship as well.

It seems like every other year, we get a movie about Africa suffering and how the white people came into to try and sweep it all away. Sometimes they do work and offer us plenty of thoughts to toil around in our heads, and other times, they feel like a sad-sap attempt at a bunch of white Hollywood liberals trying to throw their guilt onto us. It’s almost as if we did something wrong, just by deciding to do nothing, even though they’re country has been killing themselves from the outside-in for many, many years, and hasn’t seem to slow itself down a bit. However, this is a movie review blog, and it shall stay as that. So all political-stances aside, let’s get back on with the movie we have at hand here.

"No, no. no, my fine people. Over 300,000 Ugandans dead is a good thing."

“No, no. no, my fine people. Over 300,000 Ugandans dead is a good thing.”

So yeah, The Last King of Scotland. Pretty good movie, want to know why? Well, remember what I was just talking about in the last paragraph about how Hollywood uses the suffering of Africa to make us all feel guilty and spoiled in our righteous minds? Well, surprisingly, director Kevin Macdonald doesn’t take that stance, and instead gives us a story about the powers of evil and corruption, and how easy it is to be succumbed by. While you can tell that Macdonald feels like Africa should have been better aided in terms of where they were headed and who could have helped them out, he surprisingly keeps things rooted in a sense of realism, despite the story being fictitious in a sense.

Don’t have me taken as an idiot: I know that Idi Amin was a real person and is considered one of the most notable faces of the 20th Century, but the story of the Scottish doctor, who later became his personal physician, only to become his personal whipping-boy, isn’t true. It’s simply a character used to place us in on the side-lines as we watch and witness all of the terrible things that Admin did throughout his reign as dictator of Uganda. However, we never quite get to see all of those terrible, horrible things, despite them being mentioned to many of times (most notably at the end when a post-script says that he killed over 300,000 Ugandans). We hear about the “disappearances” of the people closest Garrigan, and maybe one or two shots of being, *ahem*, shot and killed, but never anything so brutal and realistic to the point of where we understand this man’s brutality and horror that he bestowed upon citizens that he considered “his people”. Sounds like a weird complaint, I know, but it just made me feel like I was only getting Garrigan’s story, and nothing else; which felt like sort of a cheap-attempt at getting past all of terribly real, awful stories that actually happened, to real-life human-beings.

That said, it’s a movie, and I can’t hate on it for everything that it was supposed to be in my eyes, and not what it is. And what it is, if you must know, is a pretty solid movie considering how easily left-ended this flick could have went. The main character, Nicholas Garrigan could have easily been a distasteful piece of work that we not only love to hate, but want to see bad things happen to, just so we feel better about our own insecurities about not being as privileged, good-looking and as charming as he is. And for a quite awhile: He totally is that type of character. He’s snobby; he’s in way too over his head; he falls too quickly in love with the glamorous life that comes with the title of being the dictator’s “closest and most-trusted”; and he gets his magic-stick stuck in some places that no man would ever dream of being stuck, ever, and yet, we still care for him and want to see him come out of this whole situation alive.

A lot of that credit for making this character work deserves to go towards to Macdonald, but it also deserves to go to James McAvoy as well, because he’s able to make us sympathize with this dude, all because he shows us that he’s human, and what would a human like you or I do in the same type of situation he’s in? Would you throw away all possibilities of having a grand-spanking, awesome time living in it up in Uganda? Or, would you take it, follow the first instinct that comes to your mind in any given situation, and still live it up in Uganda? I feel like I would take it as well, especially knowing the type of guy I was dealing with in this type of situation; and for that, McAvoy deserves credit because he makes us feel like we’re watching a real, honest and truthful person that yes, makes a whole bunch of mistakes along the way, but still has his mind and heart in the right place to where you could see him pulling it all off at the end. Also, not forget to mention that every lady he runs into, instantly falls head-over-heels for him, and seconds later, fall right into the comforts of his own bed and living-space.

"Here is my third wife. You can bang her as you please. I have too many wives to keep a full-watch of."

“Here is my third wife. You can bang her as you please. I have too many wives to keep a full-watch of.”

Dirty, cad-like Scot. That Anne-Marie Duff sure is a lucky gal.

But as I’m sure you all know by now, even though McAvoy is the leading-character in this whole movie, he’s not the main centerpiece to what this story is really all about. Who is, is Forest Whitaker as Idi Amin, giving one of his greatest performances ever, and I’m not just saying that because he won an Oscar for this. No, he really is THAT good and shows us that he can take a famous, real-life figure such as Amin, spin the way we view him as a monster, and make us see the world and his decisions from his side of the desk. Don’t worry though, it’s not like the movie makes a reasonable-argument for the mass-murders that he committed under his reign and shows that he was just a troubled dude; no, instead, it gives us a glimpse at a real dude, who had lovable and charming features to him, but also had some very evil and monstrous ones as well, and sadly, they began to take over his whole persona later on in his life and in his reign. But where Whitaker succeeded the most in portraying this man was not by giving us a sympathetic figure, but by showing us just how pure hatred can overcome a man, take all of the nice qualities about his character away from him, and drive away any sort of logical thinking or reasoning from his mind. It’s scary to think that this guy who one second, could be hugging and kissing a bunch of Ugandan women and babies, telling them that “they’re the future faces of Uganda”, and then the next, could be yelling at the top of his lungs about how he wants respect and will stop at nothing to get it, even if violence is needed, and was the figure everybody believed into to save them all from their dreadful days of living and pick them right up from the ground. But what’s even scarier, is how well Whitaker allows us to see a man who obviously had nice things going for him, but just lost sight of what they were once his power became too big, even for him. Great performance, and it’s one that reminds me why this dude is the finest, working-actor out there today.

All Battlefield Earth jokes aside.

Consensus: Less of a character-study, and more of a look at how hatred, anger and evilness can boil inside a person’s mind for so long, The Last King of Scotland features Forest Whitaker’s best performance of all-time, one that goes beyond the usual, “noticeably, bad guy-gone-sympathetic” route we usually see from biopics, and instead, gives us a raw, unrelenting, gritty look at what the type of man he could have been, had he not gone so far off the radar with his own sense of self-worth.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

"WE! WE! WE ARE UGANDA! And some white Scot."

“WE! WE! WE ARE! UGANDA! Along with some white Scottish dude.”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBComingSoon.net