Movie Reviews

Rocky XXXXX

Am I the only one, or is the premise for the new Rocky movie totally dumb and fatally flawed? Okay, I concede I have not seen the movie and am only basing this opinion on the trailer…

So, based on the trailer, this seems to be the premise: There’s a computer simulation that pits boxers from different time periods against each other. Problem one. It’s a computer simulation. That anyone would assume anything from that is just dumb.

Okay, we’ll let that go and continue. Computer simulation Rocky, from the 70’s, wins the boxing match against the current champ. Okay, fine. But based on this, 30-years-older Rocky decides to take on the champ he “beat” in the simulation. Big problem two. Does he not realize the simulation was him in the 70’s??? When he was already over the hill as a boxer in his 30’s???? The simulation didn’t age him 60 years, does it? And if it did, how could it? I would love to have heard the discussion at the studio where someone decided this was a good idea.

I know the whole Rocky franchise is about the underdog beating unbelievable odds, but this premise is just about the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.

And really, does the world need another Rocky movie??? (Did we need more than one in the first place?)

Golden Globes… Comedies and Foreign Language

More Golden Globes talk….

First the comedy/musicals:

I haven’t seen DREAMGIRLS, yet, so I can’t comment on that… But I have seen the other four nominated films and if LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE doesn’t win this category, there is no justice in the world. (Although I expect DREAMGIRLS will win and I guess it’s not fair of me to claim this is wrong, since I haven’t seen it. But I do think it will win and probably not because it’s better. It’s been well reviewed, there’s Oscar buzz and it has big stars… Therefore, will probably win.)

But LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE! I think this just came out on DVD and I want to see it again. It was a fabulous movie. The characters were amazing and not predictable and there’s not one minute of wasted time or dialogue in this film… (I’d like to watch again to test this assertion…) But no wasted scenes or lines is a big deal in comedies, where so often there are portions there just to be funny, that don’t really serve the story… Not in this movie. But I’d call it a “dramedy” not a comedy… Great movie.

THANK YOU FOR SMOKING is largely funny because of the amazing premise and good performances. But I found that most of the funny stuff was shown in the trailer and the story wasn’t that riveting and overall I was a little underwhelmed. I probably just went in with overly high expectations… I wish I’d seen it when it had its world premiere at the 2005 Toronto Film Festival. By the time it was released to theatres, it had made the festival circuit, showing at Sundance, too, and there was way too much hype around it. However, if you haven’t seen it — especially if you haven’t seen the trailer — rent it. There are some unbelievable lines/ideas in this movie. And it has one of the best premises I’ve seen in ages… A story where the protagonist is a lobbiest for the tobacco industry. Too funny. Amazing satire.

BORAT: CULTURAL LEARNINGS OF AMERICA FOR MAKE BENEFIT GLORIOUS NATION OF KAZAKHSTAN
I’ve talked about a couple of times… I really did think this movie had moments of uncomfortable brilliance and Sasha Baron Cohen is amazingly adept at turning a light onto ugly things about western society in a very unorthadox way (no pun intended) (well, maybe a little bit intended).

THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA

Really? I mean Meryl Streep was fabulous in that role, but really?

DREAMGIRLS

Will let you know, if I get a chance to see it…

And the foreign films… I’ve only seen two of these… But want to comment anyway, ’cause I can’t stop myself and the two that I saw were AMAZING!!!

VOLVER (Spain)
Go see this movie. Right now. Even if you think you hate subtitles. Go. Even if you’ve seen a Pedro Almadovar movie before, and you think he’s too weird. Go. Trust me.
This was his most accessible Almadovar movie I’ve seen (no porn stars getting kidnapped and seduced, no transvestites, no major religious controversies)… Don’t get me wrong. I love Almadovar’s movies… and you’ve got to love a director who introduced the world to not only Penelope Cruz (who’s great in this, as she was in his other film ALL ABOUT MY MOTHER — another film that’s really worth renting…) but also Antonio Banderas in TIE ME UP, TIE ME DOWN. If you haven’t seen either of these actors work in their native tongue, you’re missing something…

PAN’S LABYRINTH (Mexico) I saw at the film festival this year and although it’s not my kind of movie, per se, the buzz was so great I picked it. And I was blown away. It’s a fairy tale and the protagonist is a little girl… but don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s a movie for children or simplistic in any way. Very dark. Very creepy. Very good.

THE LIVES OF OTHERS (Germany) I haven’t seen this. (Don’t know if it’s been released to theatres here, yet… Maybe now it will be.) But I’ve heard from others that it’s amazing. I know it screened at the Vancouver Film Festival but not in Toronto… Too bad. Can’t wait to see it.

LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA (USA/JAPAN) I’m actually looking forward to seeing this, but I didn’t see the first one… FLAGS OF OUR FATHER. I kinda hope they’ll rerelease it along with this one so I can see them both on the big screen… A double feature would be great. Clint Eastwood understands storytelling, so I have high expectations for these films and like the idea he’s showing the history from both the US and Japanese perspectives. Great idea.

APOCALYPTO (USA) I don’t think I’ll see this movie. Partly because of the whole Mel Gibson thing and partly because, while I can take a lot of violence in movies if it’s in context and important, somehow I can’t take the violence in Mel’s movies. I found BRAVEHEART horrible to watch and most of the violence completely gratutitous, and don’t even get me started on his Christian snuff porno. Why did I go see that???? Okay, I felt like I had to out of curiousity and to judge whether all the anti-semetic accusations etc. were justified… But I’m done with Mel Gibson as a director, unless he does something that isn’t 95% graphic violence — which is what I’ve heard about Apocalypto.

Impt note: I’m not a rabid anit-violence in the movies person. I love Quentin Tarantino’s films. Pan’s Labryrinth has some graphic violence… but it’s not the whole freakin’ movie and it fits the story and adds impact when it’s there. It’s Mel’s 20 minute battle scenes with nothing but gore (or the 70 minute shredding of someone’s body in the Passion) that I take exception to. No one needs to see that kind of violence.

Golden Globe Noms are in

Okay, this is already old news for die hard movie buffs (from YESTERDAY) but I can’t help giving my 2 cents about the Best Picture Nom’s…

Today, the Dramas:

BABEL
BOBBY
THE DEPARTED
LITTLE CHILDREN
THE QUEEN

I loved two of these films (Babel and Little Children) I really liked the other three. I think I’ve listed the films below in the order I’d rank them…

BABEL is a little sad but totally engrossing. I’ve been planning working on a blog post comparing and contrasting the themes in Babel with another good film I saw at the festival this year, BREAKING AND ENTERING. But that film hasn’t opened yet. (opens at Christmas?) Anyway, for me, Babel shows the worst of human nature and Breaking and Entering the best… I
talked about Babel on the Drunk Writer Talk blog a while ago, so won’t do it again, here…

LITTLE CHILDREN really blew me away, too, and is another film I’d like to see again… There are so many layers to it… Some which I’m sure I didn’t notice or get on first viewing… It explores suburban life, personal fullfillment over family obligations, settling, infidelity, child abuse (on both overt and more subtle levels), guilt, shame, prejudice, mob mentality…
I also think the film was just interesting as films go, using some devices like voice overs and other intrustions that I really thought worked and added humor to what could have been a very dark film. This film didn’t get a very wide release, but maybe this nomination will help that. If it comes to your town, check it out. I also talked about this movie on Drunk Writer Talk

THE DEPARTED. Okay, now I’m thinking about it again, I’d probably put it on my LOVED list along with BABEL and LITTLE CHILDREN, but I thought it deteriorated into almost comedy at the end… (So tragic it becomes comedy?) But maybe the “everyone’s corrupt”, “you can’t trust anyone” message is encapsulated in the way this story ended. I think I’d like to see this film again… and to see the Chinese film it was based on, INFERNAL AFFAIRS. But both Leonardo di Caprio and Matt Damon blew me away in this movie. Molly likes to say you could see Damon’s character’s ulcers growing. I just thought he made an amazingly charming (and therefore diabolical) bad guy. (Although I already knew he could do this from THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY… which I liked more than most people did… but I’m a big Patrica Highsmith fan. And I liked Damon’s Ripley much better than other supposedly “better” actors who have played him, including John Malcovich… It’s easy to believe Malcovich is evil and the point of Ripley is that he’s a sociopath hidden in sheep’s clothing. Cloying, engratiating, self-effacing sheep’s clothing… Okay… how did this become a blog on Patrica Highsmith’s wonderful character, Tom Ripley??

Back to the films…

Anyone who reads this blog or the Drunk Writer blog, knows I love multiple interconnected stories… but I think BOBBY suffered from not having strong enough story arcs for each of the individual stories in the film. Most were just character sketches…
I also think viewers of this movie need to know some of the historical facts in order for the movie to have any tension or forward drive… This, to me, makes it an imperfect movie — though like I said, I did like it…(I knew the “important historical fact” going in, not because I remembered, if I ever even knew, but because someone had given me a spoiler, which I normally hate, but for this movie, I think it helped me enjoy the film.) The spoiler detail is that other people were shot the night Robert Kennedy was assassinated. If you know this… you watch the movie wondering which of the characters, Emilio Estevez (filmmaker) is introducing us to, will get shot. It adds some drama and tension in a film that doesn’t have a whole bunch until the final 10 minutes, which are then nothing but tension and drama. I expect politics also affected this nomination… That is, the film’s very politically relevant today with the US in another unpopular divisive war.

THE QUEEN was another film I liked but didn’t love. I admit I have an odd soft spot for QEII. Maybe it’s because when she was younger, I always thought she looked a bit like my mom… (Probably just the same hairstyle. My mom is prettier.) Or maybe I associate her with Christmas because our family used to always watch her on TV Christmas morning. Andrew is a few years older than I and Edward a few years younger and I think my sisters and I felt like we grew up with those boys, watching them (and their stodgy older brother Charles) appear with their mum in our living room every Christmas morning via the TV. But this movie really boils down to some amazing performances… I agree with the best actress nomination for Helen Mirren… (I also think the actor who played Tony Blair — Micheal Sheen — and maybe the guy who played Prince Charles should have been nominated… but I’m not sure about the movie getting nominated… But also not sure what I’d nominate in its place, so there you go…

My flag’s at half mast…


Robert Altman died. No more Robert Altman movies. That’s so sad.

I know, I’m making him dying all about me, about how I’ll be deprived, but I love his films. Just a few weeks ago I watched NASHVILLE again. Actually, it might have been my first time all the way through. I’m pretty sure they cut it when they show it on TV and it’s not the kind of movie that does well with commercial breaks. “I’m Easy” was one of my favourite songs when I was about twelve and the first song I learned to play on the guitar. (Not too impressive, very few chords, but hey…) And that scene when Carradine sings it… when Lily Tomlin, and Shelly Duval and Geraldine Chaplin and Cristina Raines are all convinced he’s singing to them… Amazing. And such a beautiful song.

SHORT CUTS has to be my all time favourite movie, and MASH and THE PLAYER and GOSFORD PARK and COME BACK TO THE FIVE AND DIME, JIMMY DEAN, JIMMY DEAN and THE COMPANY are all favourites, too.

Less loved, but seriously liked: COOKIE’S FORTUNE, A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION and others…

Robert Altman. The cinema will miss you. I know I will.

Stranger Than Fiction: Mandatory Film Viewing for Writers


Okay, calling something mandatory is a little over the top. But seriously. If you’re a writer, you should go see the film Stranger Than Fiction.

It poses an interesting question to writers… What if your fictional characters were real? What if the words you wrote on the page had consequences for an actual human being? What would you do?

Writers of popular fiction are taught to throw rocks at our characters, to put obstacles in their path, to consider “what’s the worst thing that could happen to my character” — and then make it worse, to give a character two choices: sucky and suckier, to make sure every consequence of a character’s actions is the opposite to what they expect.

No matter how you say it, we live to make our characters’ lives hell.

So, back to the film. The premise is fabulous, the performances great and the story worked. For me, anyway. I even bought the attraction between Will Farrell and Maggie Gyllenhall. (That girl can act! I mean, she has my man Peter Sarsgaard at home and she made me believe she wanted Will Farrell.)

Okay, sorry for the Peter Sarsgaard distraction. I find him distracting And he isn’t even in this movie.

Back to Stranger Than Fiction… For most of the film I kept thinking, how are they possibly going to end this? And that’s a good thing. In my opinion, the audience shouldn’t be able to see the end coming, except in films following genre conventions… which this one does not. When I first saw the end coming, I was disappointed. It felt like a cop-out solution out to me. But by the time they actually got there, it worked. I loved it. It moved me. And it makes a comment about happy endings, but I don’t want to explain how, because it will ruin the ending.

I highly recommend this movie, particularly for writers.

What if your characters were real people? Dream come true or worst nightmare?

Little post script… There was a very funny minor character in the movie–a psychologist working at the IRS. He only had one scene, but it was great. I didn’t recognize the actor — and I normally recognize actors (see my Phantom of the Black Dahlia post). And then, during the end credits, one of the main actors listed was Tom Hulce. Tom Hulce, I thought? Mozart from Amadeus? Larry Kroger from Animal House? Who did he play??? So I waited until they listed the cast. He was the hilarious psychologist. Very funny.

Christian Bale night and too much of a good thing

Okay, I don’t want the title of this post to imply one can ever get enough Christian Bale. Not me, anyway. I’ve been fascinated by him as an actor ever since he did Empire of the Sun as a young boy.

The other night, I went to see The Prestige and Harsh Times back to back and I’m pretty sure I could’ve sat through another film with Bale in it if one had presented itself. (I highly recommend Rescue Dawn, but don’t know when it opens. Keep an eye out.)

My too much of a good thing comment refers not to Bale, but to his moive The Prestige. Now, don’t get me wrong, I liked this film, mostly. It’s my kind of movie. But something about it didn’t work 100% for me and it got me thinking… Did the filmmaker try to do too much? Did he try to combine too many interesting elements? Did he overdo it?

Spoiler alert… I’m going to to try to avoid spoilers here.. but if you haven’t seen the film and plan to, you may want to stop reading now, or skip down to Harsh Times.

The Prestige has three timelines and through the first half or so of the film, it was sometimes hard to tell which timeline we were watching. At the time, I found this disorienting. It was exacerbated by the fact that two of the timelines had similar elements…. In one, Hugh Jackman is decoding Christian Bale’s secret journal and in another Bale is decoding Jackman’s. Also, one had Scarlett Johannson and one had Piper Perebo–who look remarkably similar. (Not that you’d mistake them in the movie… I’m just saying… I’m sure that’s how Piper got cast.) Another source of confusion was the accents… Part of the film is in London and part is in the US, but the accents weren’t used as cues, with plenty of of American accents in London and vice versa… And we had an Australian actor (Jackman) playing American, American actors (Johannson and Perebo among others) playing British, and a Welsh actor (Bale) doing cockney. Not to mention David Bowie doing a quasi-German accent. And each of the actors occasionally slips and lets his/her real accent show. I think Michael Caine might have been the only lead actor using his own accent?

Combined with all that, the plot has multiple double-crosses, devious plots and the two major characters are illusionists by profession. So, I guess one is bound to get a trifle mixed up.

But–big but–by the time we hit the last quarter or so of the film, I actually decided that all that initial confusion actually works in the movie’s favor. The disorientation felt purposeful, a devise the filmmaker used not unlike the misdirection techniques used by his illusionist characters. In my opinion, it made the story a puzzle to work out and more interesting to watch.

So where did it break down for me? I think it was the sci fi element. Maybe it’s too much to expect us to believe in all these magical illusions and sort out the double crosses and timelines and also buy what actually happens. (This is where I’m going to be vague to avoid spoilers.)

Still it was pretty cool. Okay as I write this, I’m decidedly warming up to this film. I’ve got to get one of my drunk writer buddies to go see it so we can discuss.

On to Harsh Times.

I first saw this film over a year ago at the 2005 TIFF. I remember being kind of blown away then. Overwhelmed anyway. So I decided to see it again.

On second viewing, there is much to admire about this film made by David Ayer (Training Day).. but I’m not sure I can give it my highest ringing endorsement. A low budget film to be sure (a boom mike almost comes down to hit Eva Longoria in the head in one scene) I never expected this film to get a wide theatrical release. I expect it wouldn’t have, if Bale hadn’t recently made a few commercial films. (like Batman Returns and The Prestige.) It certainly is a film that goes for shock value — I think that’s why it stuck in my mind the first time I saw it during a week of many, many films.

I don’t want to give even the hint of a spoiler… If you’re going to see this film, you’re best going into it completely cold… But I love this quote from Rick Groen’s review of the film in The Globe and Mail. “Harsh Times opens with a deadly nightmare and ends with a vast bloodbath — in between, things get a little gruesome.”

Pretty much sums things up. Christian Bale should take out a patent on psycho characterizations.

Borat

Continuing on my mini-reviews of films I saw at the festival that have recently hit the theatres… I thought I’d touch on Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.

Freakin’ hilarious. Super offensive.

It’s hard to describe just how offensive this movie is. Offensive to residents of middle Asiatic countries, offensive to Jews, offensive to blacks, offensive to gays, offensive to women, okay, basically offensive to human beings.

But hilarious.

I already blogged about the midnight premiere of this movie at the TIFF… (Donkey carts, a broken projector and Michael Moore on the first night; Dustin Hoffman sitting in the audience the back up night.) But I don’t think I touched on how truly funny the film is.

Part of me thinks I should be ashamed of myself for finding this movie so funny. It makes you wonder when joking about something crosses the line. But perhaps the reason Sasha Baron Cohen’s satirical comedy works so well is that every topic he tackles is so far far over the line.

Also shocking is how little some of the unsuspecting people he interacts with in the movie react to his blatent racist and sexist comments. Many don’t bat an eyelash. Scary comment on American society.

Marie Antoinette

Okay, I know this movie’s been open for a few weeks and is old news… But I was out of town when it opened and in spite of being very excited about this movie, didn’t get to it until tonight… I’m a big fan of Sophia Coppola. I also liked the idea of using modern music and sensibilities in this film to make Marie Antoinette’s situation more relatable. To emphasize how very young the last King and Queen of France had been.

I wasn’t at all discouraged about the lukewarm reviews or the booing the film received in Cannes. I figured the movie was bound to piss off the French, who wouldn’t like an American filmmaker using American and British actors to tell the story of this important (albeit Austrian) woman from French history. I’ve also learned over the years that I often like films the reviewers don’t…

But the movie fell flat for me…

There was much to like. It’s great to look at and I actually think Kirsten Dunst was very good in the role. The look she gives the camera during the opening credits was worth whatever they paid her. I also liked Jason Shwartzman as the King and found their developing relationship cute and kind of sweet.

So what went wrong? It occurs to me that this film is a good example of why storytelling is so important. But I’m not typically a stickler for straightforward storytelling in movies. (Me and my drunk writer buddies often disagree on films because of this, I think.) I do like movies that don’t tell an obvious story as long as it has compelling characters I love watching… And some of the characters in Marie Antionette were interesting… Notably Antionette herself…

But this film just didn’t work for me. It spent a lot of time (a lot) showing us how much time it took for Louis and Marie to figure out how to make a baby… (Did we need to see him turn away from her in bed or prematurely ejaculate so many times? Did we need to see more than one letter of concern from her mother on the topic?) And then, after spending too much time on that, and an inexplicably long time watching her walk through gardens, it basically skipped forward to the revolution, with the most abrupt movie ending I’ve ever seen. Maybe cutting off the end of the movie, was supposed to symbolize cutting off her head?

Anyway… didn’t work for me. I also didn’t see why Sophia bothered to show Marie having an adulterous affair, without really exploring how this affected her or her marriage. A wistful look out a window one bored afternoon was all we got. Was the affair just to show she’d had good sex at least once in her life? Or just to get a sex scene into the movie? Didn’t feel like it needed to be there, to me.

Sorry Sophia. I guess not every movie you make will be perfection for me.

What is it about Princess Diana?

I went to see The Queen last night not because I’m obsessed with the monarchy or Princess Diana, but because I’d heard Helen Mirren was amazing and the film was getting really good reviews.

I thought the film was good… and shows the other side of a media frenzy story we all know from the other side… (The Queen’s tepid response to Diana’s death.) But other than the great performances I didn’t think the film was amazing

What I did find amazing is how, after nearly ten years, I can still cry when I see the images of people putting flowers in front of the various palaces in London after Diana was killed. What was it about that woman?

She was a twit, in my opinion. The worst kind of upperclass bimbo twit. Yes, she did have a bad marriage that wasn’t entirely her fault. We can feel bad for her for that. Yes, she did do a lot of good charity work. We can admire her for that. (But most of the Royal family do charity work–notably Princess Anne–yet they don’t get the same media coverage for it.) Yes, she appears to have been a very good mother. Good for her. Doesn’t make her less of a twit.

But I was wrecked when she died. Devastated. I teared up for months each time I saw her photo on yet another magazine cover. And I teared up big-time several times during the movie last night, even though the character we were supposed to be sympathetic with during that movie was Queen Elizabeth II, not Diana.

For me, I think my unnatural attachment to Diana comes partly with my age. She was exactly a year older than I am and when she got married at such a young age in such an elaborate ceremony… Even though I hadn’t thought I had an ounce of Cinderella fantasy in me… Seriously… who wouldn’t get caught up in that spectacle as an eighteen year old or whatever I was. My sisters and I had a party in our parents’ basement and a bunch of our friends spent the night. The big plan was to stay up all night and watch the wedding in the morning while drinking champagne. Sadly, we fell asleep at some point, but we only missed a little of the run up stuff around 5:00 am EST.

But I remember it so vividly. I also got up to watch her funeral. I figured if I could get up at 5:00 am for a wedding, I should do it for a funeral.

I can’t believe it’s been nearly ten years… or that I can still cry about it.

The Last King of Scotland

Okay, during the film festival I promised I’d blog about some of the great films I saw — perhaps closer to their release dates.

I’ve just realized that a few have come and gone already… Ooops.

But one that’s in theatres right now you should check out is The Last King of Scotland. A deeply powerful film about a dark period in Ugandan history.

It tells the story of the brutal dictator, Idi Amin Dada. This is the synopsis from the official web site for the film:

“In an incredible twist of fate, a Scottish doctor (James McAvoy) on a Ugandan medical mission becomes irreversibly entangled with one of the world’s most barbaric figures: Idi Amin (Forest Whitaker). Impressed by Dr. Garrigan’s brazen attitude in a moment of crisis, the newly self-appointed Ugandan President Amin hand picks him as his personal physician and closest confidante. Though Garrigan is at first flattered and fascinated by his new position, he soon awakens to Amin’s savagery – and his own complicity in it. Horror and betrayal ensue as Garrigan tries to right his wrongs and escape Uganda alive.”

When I saw the film, I wondered if Dr. Garrigan had been a real person, and I’ve spoken to a few people who are convinced he was, but he wasn’t. He’s just an amazingly clever device used by the writer to show how the world (most particularly the British who aided in Amin’s rise to power) got sucked in by the initially charismatic dictator and how the world came to see the truth and horror that was Idi Amin. The “trick” here is that the novelist wrote the book (on which the movie is based) as a memoir. Okay, I assume it says novel on the cover, but it’s written as a memoir making lots of people think the protagonist really existed. The writer side of me is really impressed by this idea… What a great way to fictionalize historical events. Create a character, plunk him in the middle of the events you want to show and write his memoirs. I guess this isn’t entirely original–others have done it. But this movie (and I assume novel–haven’t read it) does it well. (Actually, in many ways Hotel Rwanda did this, too… Sure, that hotel manager existed, I actually saw him at the film’s premiere at the Toronto festival in 2004, so it’s not the same situation as Last King… but the manager’s role in using the hotel to save people was reputedly grossly exaggerated in the film in order to tell a good story. To roughly quote General Dallaire, the UN leader in Rwanda: “Yes, the UN used that hotel for refugees. Yes, I think I remember there being a helpful manager.” In some ways, this distortion of a real life character bothers me more than creating a completely fake one. Yes, centering Hotel Rwanda on a sympathetic and proactive protagonist was a good way to create a story appealing to the public… Perhaps it’s the Canadian patriot in me that didn’t like how they misrepresented Romeo Dallaire in that movie. He should have been the hero, and instead he was a drunk Nick Nolte, but I suppose it wouldn’t have sold as many tickets. If you want to see the Rwanda story told more acurately, rent the documentary SHAKE HANDS WITH THE DEVIL.)

But I’m seriously digressing. Back to The Last King of Scotland. I first doubted the doctor character was based on a real person during the resolution of his story. I don’t want to put any spoilers here… but I felt that if the circumstances surrounding the climax of the film were true, then his story would be better known. The climax of the film occurs during the 1976 hijacking of an Air France plane which Amin allowed to land in Uganda and whose hostages were famously rescued in an Isreali army raid. (and immortalized in the 1977 TV film RAID ON ENTEBBE)

Anyway. I thought THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND was a really great film. It’s not for the faint of heart, there’s some brutal and graphic violence, but the story is one everyone should know and the performances were amazing.

Forest Whitaker was astounding and James McAvoy (dubbed the It-boy of this year’s Toronto festival because he had 3 films screening–one I liked STARTER FOR TEN, one I didn’t PENELOPE) was equally good as the naive young doctor.

Check it out! If you’ve seen it, let me know what you think.