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Posts Tagged ‘South Africa’

Idris Elba as the imprisoned Nelson Mandela

Idris Elba as the imprisoned Nelson Mandela

“MANDELLA: LONG WALK TO FREEDOM”  My rating: B- (Opens wide Dec. 25)

139 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13

“Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” is an honorable stab at a screen biography of a much-revered individual. On one level it’s inspiring, sure…how could a movie about the late Nelson Mandela not be inspiring?

But it’s also pedestrian…not in terms of production value but in its low-keyed sensibilities. Director Justin Chadwick, a veteran of British television with only two other features to his credit (“The Other Boleyn Girl,” “The First Grader”), is aiming for an intimate epic but comes up short. As a huge admirer of Mandela, I wanted to be deeply moved by this film. I wasn’t.

For starters, there’s the casting of Idris Elba in the title role. I know, I know…Elba is a terrific actor and extraordinarily studly, which is part of the problem. Look at the brooding look he gives in the poster for the movie…it’s more “The Wire” than peace, love and brotherhood.

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“THE BANG-BANG CLUB” (Now available)

The movies love war correspondents.

For one thing, it’s an inherently dramatic profession. And then there’s the compelling ambivalence of civil wars without clear-cut rules of combat, of conflicts where it’s hard to differentiate between soldier and civilian.

Two classics of the genre are “Under Fire” (1983) with Nick Nolte and Gene Hackman and Oliver Stone’s “Salvador” (1986).

More recently the upheaval in the Balkans has generated several memorable combat correspondent flicks, like “Welcome to Sarajevo” (1997) and “The Hunting Party” (2007).

These movies always pivot on questions of ethics and mortality.

First, should a journalist (writer, photographer, broadcaster) ever take sides, even if genocide is involved? Second, what are the chances of said journalist getting his/her head blown off?

The latest entry to the genre is “The Bang-Bang Club,” a mostly factual recreation of life in South Africa in the early 1990s (more…)

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