Tuesday, May 29, 2007

"Last King of Scotland" Review & Thoughts

I just saw "The Last King of Scotland", and what a great film. Excellent. It's one film I've seen, and there aren't that many, that's deserved every accolade and award foisted upon it. It's really difficult to make a film based on true events really grip you, to sink its nails into you, but director Kevin MacDonald, Forest Whitaker, and everyone else involved, managed to do just that for this viewer.

It's a clever piece of filmmaking too. I didn't realize this until now, but it's based on a work of fiction. The Scottish doctor wasn't real. He was based upon 3 or 4 people close to Amin though. I didn't know a lot about Amin before I saw this, but yeah, what a scary guy. It's mesmerizing to me how he can be close to the doctor in one moment and then toss them away soon thereafter.

A lot have complained that Garrigan was an unlikeable character who you couldn't really sympathize with. I feel the same, but I think it adds a lot to the movie in the sense that you can get a much stronger, realistic view of Amin. The film wouldn't have felt as genuine if you rooted for the white guy. He symbolized the detachment of other whites who were involved with Africa, like the British who installed Amin into power. Also, it would have been a mistake to excise this character and have the film revolve around Amin, since he's a very hard man to relate to.

Whitaker is one of my favorite actors (Please get your hands on Season 5 of "The Shield" and you'll see why) and he delivers big-time here. I hate the MPAA, the people who hand out the Oscars, but he definitely deserved to win Best Actor. He gave a great speech too, but he is amazing in this movie. I consider a great performance to be one where you forget that it's an actor playing the part and that it's really the character you see. Whitaker certainly gave one. He charmed and scared you at the same time. The rest of the performances are good, Gillian Anderson (who I haven't seen since the X-Files went off the air) has a small, effective part in the beginning.

Again, this is a really great film, essential viewing. If you haven't watched it, you owe it to yourself to. There's also a book out, now I want to read that.

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