The Last King of Scotland (2006)

January 16, 2008

[spoiler]

Overview

Director:
Kevin Macdonald

Writers:
Peter Morgan (screenplay)
Jeremy Brock (screenplay)

Release Date:
12 January 2007 (UK)

Genre:
Drama / Thriller

Plot Outline:
Based on the events of the brutal Ugandan dictator Idi Amin’s regime as seen by his personal physician during the 1970s more

Cast
(Cast overview, first billed only)

Forest Whitaker    …     Idi Amin

James McAvoy    …     Dr. Nicholas Garrigan

Kerry Washington    …     Kay Amin

Gillian Anderson    …     Sarah Merrit

Simon McBurney    …     Stone

David Oyelowo    …     Dr. Junju
Stephen Rwangyezi    …     Jonah Wasswa
Abby Mukiibi Nkaaga    …     Masanga (as Abby Mukiibi)
Adam Kotz    …     Dr. Merrit
Sam Okelo    …     Bonny
Sarah Nagayi    …     Tolu
Chris Wilson    …     Perkins
Dr. Dick Stockley    …     Times Journalist
Barbara Rafferty    …     Mrs. Garrigan
David Ashton    …     Dr. Garrigan (senior)

[/spoiler]

Right, I have to get a rant out of the way before I start to review the film itself.

This is not a true story and is misleading with it’s ‘Based on true events’ introduction.  I spent this film thinking, “Wow, truth really is stranger than fiction”, accepting that some parts of it will have been embellished.  In fact I was so taken with it that I did some background reading after watching it.

The simple fact is that none of this story is true.  The true parts?  Some of the background events.  As for the characters and anything and everything that happens, pure fiction.  This really annoyed me having been mislead.  So much so that it ruined what I had watched after finding this out.

Now on with the review.

Having said what I have said above, I can say that this film is an above average thriller, carried further by the great performance of Forest Whittaker.   The story is of course unbelievable after taking the misleading ‘based on’ tag out of the equation.  But as a dramatic thriller it isn’t half bad.

Enough said.


Atonement (2007)

January 3, 2008

[spoiler]

Overview

Director:
Joe Wright

Writers:
Ian McEwan (novel)
Christopher Hampton (screenplay)
Release Date:
7 September 2007 (UK)

Genre:
Drama / Romance / War

Tagline:
You can only imagine the truth.

Plot Outline:
Fledgling writer Briony Tallis, as a 13-year-old, irrevocably changes the course of several lives when she accuses her older sister’s (Keira Knightley) lover (James McAvoy) of a crime he did not commit. Based on the British romance novel by Ian McEwan.

Cast
(Cast overview, first billed only)
Saoirse Ronan … Briony Tallis, aged 13
Ailidh Mackay … Singing Housemaid

Brenda Blethyn … Grace Turner
Julia West … Betty

James McAvoy … Robbie Turner
Harriet Walter … Emily Tallis

Keira Knightley … Cecilia Tallis
Juno Temple … Lola Quincey
Felix von Simson … Pierrot Quincey
Charlie von Simson … Jackson Quincey
Alfie Allen … Danny Hardman
Patrick Kennedy … Leon Tallis
Benedict Cumberbatch … Paul Marshall
Peter Wight … Police Inspector
Leander Deeny … Police Constable

[/spoiler]

I can only begin this review by saying how visually stunning this film is. The minutes that are used in sweeping camera pans and long continuous shots simply have to be seen to be believed. The French beach segment is probably the finest example of visual film making I have ever seen.

So, what about the rest of the film?

Well, it isn’t a let down in the slightest. Keira Knightley shows the form that launched her career and leaves the truly awful Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy behind her, and conjures up a beautiful performance to match her looks. McAvoy is top draw, but then I have yet to see a film where he isn’t.

The film itself is period (WWII) story telling of the highest order. A bitter sweet tale that spans the war and beyond, touching and changing the lives off all it’s protagonists. The twists and turns are expertly executed and the end result is simply unmissable. Oscar material if ever I saw it 🙂