Saturday, 3 March 2007

Little Miss Last King of the Year meets Bobby

There are lots of good films around. This is not always the case at Oscar time, but this year it is. Forest Whitaker well deserved his Oscar for his look-alike performance of Idi Amin, (Last King of Scotland)though the burden of the plot is carried by James McEvoy whose sickly good looks and prodigious talent have largely been overshadowed. (Recently in the BBC's up to datye Macbeth)
Because there is a lot of death, unfailed ambition, thwarted hope, betrayal, vision and heaven knows what else I kept thinking that Galligan (McEvoy's fictional character) seemed at times Christ-like. The idealist who was betrayed, not so much by people, but by lfe. Then I began to realise that there is in this production too a sense in which Amin is also such a figure. It is good to have a portrayal of Amin not just as a monster but as a victim. He is every bit the modern-day Macbeth and as tragic as Saddam Hussein. The revolutionary leader who believed his own lies. Very good stuff.
I have blogged elsewhere of the curious feeling of thinking that you are seeing Amin. It is good to see real pictures of the butcher of Kampala to remind you what he was really like.
In the year for look-alike pictures Helen Mirren is working hard to convince people that she is not Betty Windsor! Her portrayal is remarkably fine. More subtle than Whitaker's, but very deep. She captures the psyche of those of us who hold her to our bosom as our monarch of choice. (or fate). By this I mean, we want a Queen who is not too human but who is human enough. And who unlike Amin is not totally flawed, but who has cracks in her armour.
There is this beautiful scene with the stag (I am sure we will argue about what it means) but to me it caotured her humanity, she is broken by the death of a stately creature, but is not at all deeply touched by the death of the woman who betrayed her family.
Robin Williams has a not very insightful script to work with in Man of the Year about a media personality who becomes a presidential candidate and then through some mistake gets elected. He realises that he is not a president, and is able to escape. Unfortunately the current comedian incumbent has not made that realisation and is probably not going to escape! It is light and not terribly profound, but enetertaining enough whilst being 100% predictable.
The film that will be overlooked is Emilio Estev's Bobby, which is about events in a hotel on the day Bobby Kennedy was shot. It weaves the themes of the promise that Kennedy offered to America. How he boldly preached an end to internecine violence in the cities, and was urging America to become the generous and compassionate country it longed to be. It is easy to see that it was Robert, and not John F who was the brains behind the Kennedy outfit.
There is a sense is which when he is shot...for heaven knows what reason, we see American Society making a choice to be mean and violent. That course flow through to today.
The explanation is simplistic, but the ideas I think entice us to toy with the idea of what a generous vision was lost. Important insights I think.
As indeed are the convoluted stories of Babel which links a series of unconnected events with a common but extravagant thread. We are all alienated but connected is a pretty imprtant 21st century observation. Played out on the global stage it is paralleledby the microicosm of Little Miss Sunshine which is about how one dysfunctional family (at one stage described're gay, your'e a drug addict, you're divorced, you attempted suicide and you're bankrupt...yes all the modern themes!!)...on a road trip in a bashed up comby van which doesn't stop, and needs to be push-started...well I thought the ending was OK, but my kids thought it was great. The more I think about it, the more I realise it is good!!


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