Wednesday, July 15, 2009


So in addition to reading books, I am also watching a lot of movies. Some of them are not worth saying anything about, even though I've enjoyed them. But there are a couple that I will comment on.

I know that The Last King of Scotland came out and won academy awards and everything several years ago, so this is old news. However, I really, really loved this movie. Partly because I really love Forest Whitaker and most things that he does. Did he win best actor for this movie? He should have.
What I did not realize about this movie, though, was that it is actually about a Scottish guy, played by James McAvoy, and not really about Forest Whitaker's character of Idi Amin. Not only that, but I did not realize that McAvoy's character is actually fictional, which creates a very weird dynamic, I think, for the viewer. If the movie relies on McAvoy's character as a vehicle for humanizing
Amin, which I think it sort of does, then doesn't the fact that this is a made-up character kind of negate the purpose of the story? Maybe the point of the movie wasn't to humanize Amin, but to showcase his brutality, revealing the naivety of someone like McAvoy's character who would idolize him only out of a white/European fascination with Africa.
So, I'm conflicted about what I was supposed to take away from this movie. A third option is that the point of the movie was to make me feel conflicted. Regardless, I was very taken with it. I have a hard time sitting and watching a movie in one sitting without getting bored. I did not have this problem with The Last King of Scotland, and I think that says something about the caliber of the film.

A movie I did not make it through without getting bored, but which I feel warrants writing about anyway, was Bronson. I do not know if this movie was good or not. I am pretty sure it was not "great." I think it was somewhat clear what the filmmakers were trying to do, and also that they did not accomplish this 100%. The movie is about a sociopath who becomes "England's Most Famous Prisoner" because of his unrelenting violence to himself, other prisoners, and authorities; his self-proclaimed goal is to be famous, and he makes sure that he stays in prison so that he can maintain his fame. The thing about the movie is that it uses these Kubrick-ish, surreal storytelling devices, but it isn't really clear to what end. It sort of starts to make sense when the character starts drawing pictures and making other art that the surrealism comes from his own perception of the world around him. And that his violence is an extension of that.
Because I am reading that Foucault book, this movie was interesting to me because of the idea of the prison as a punishment inflicted on the soul. My interpretation of it, based on that, was that if a person condemned to public torture can escape punishment to the body by mutilating his own body first (Oroonoko), then a person condemned to imprisonment can escape punishment to the soul by manufacturing his own depravity (Bronson), making himself soulless.

I'm having trouble thinking of other movies I've watched recently that were interesting to me. These are the two that stand out. We also watched The Cell, which I loved because of the way it looked, but which there really isn't much to say about. Later this week we are going to go see this new movie called Moon, which I am really excited about and will write about when we see it.

The next post I write will probably be about my cats.

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