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Flash Movie Review: Escape From Pretoria

NO MATTER WHERE I BUMPED INTO him, I always knew what to expect. He would address me with a nickname he made up back when we were classmates. Next, he would ask me if I was still in touch with a classmate of ours before he would make a snide comment about them. I stopped asking him to not make any comments about them but every time we ran into each other, he still made sure to say something. These days I simply do not react to his comments; instead, I ask him something different to switch the subject. Whenever I have bumped into him, I am reminded how I disliked the pettiness and backstabbing that took place amongst the school’s cliques. He was an instigator who enjoyed all that drama. Because he never failed to make a comment about someone we knew, I believed he was trying to get me to join him in badmouthing people from our past; to what purpose, I had no idea. I did find it puzzling that after all these years he had not changed one bit; he was obnoxious back in school as he was now. It was as if he had never grown up and I had to wonder if he had any friends still from our school days.     IT WAS INDIVIDUALS LIKE HIM THAT pushed me to apply and accept enrollment in an out of state school. Many of the students I grew up with were applying to our state’s university’s main campus. I decided to send out applications to schools from a few states nearby and some that were close to the coasts. As luck would have it, I wound up at a university where only 2 other fellow classmates planned on attending and if they were there, I never saw them. One of my goals for going out of state for school was to reinvent myself. Due to the experiences I had in my schooling, I did not want to repeat it out of state; so, I worked on myself internally. This meant I had to look back and exam painful experiences, hoping to find an inner strength that would help me not to repeat similar scenarios in my new surroundings. I wanted to return home as a grown-up essentially; someone who past classmates would have a hard time recognizing. I will be honest; it took a lot of work to push out the built-up anger and resentment. Not that it is all gone now, but I know I have been traveling on the right path based on former acquaintances’ reactions when meeting me now. I can see similar work was done by the main actor in this film festival nominated thriller because I did not think once he was Harry Potter playing another character.      DESPITE BEING CONVICTED AND IMPRISONED, ANTI-APARTHEID activist Tim Jenkin, played by Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter franchise, Swiss Army Man), was determined to get out of his prison cell and continue his fight. With Daniel Webber (Australia Day, Thumper) as Stephen Lee, Ian Hart (Michael Collins, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone) as Denis Goldberg, Mark Leonard Winter (The Dressmaker, One Eyed Girl) as Leonard Fontaine and Nathan Page (Underbelly-TV, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries-TV) as Mongo; this movie based on a true story was made better by Daniel Radcliffe’s acting. The story itself was given a typical script, but thanks to Daniel and his fellow inmates, I found myself getting pulled into the activist’s plight. There was some unevenness to the directing; but there was no skimping on the parts that needed to be thrilling. The script did not delve deeply into the characters; but for a good old fashioned “prison break” story, this picture can be proud it was able to break out of the pack from similarly themed films.

2 ¾ stars

Flash Movie Review: Skin

There is a game a friend of mine likes to play whenever we get together. Wherever we may be, he will point out different people and ask me if I think they are beautiful. I always reply with the same answer that I guess so, but I do not know what they are like on the inside. He will try to force me to make a judgement based on these people’s outside appearance, though I have explained to him that the surface is only a covering for the real person inside. Numerous times I have told him that making a quick judgement on a person’s looks is not what I am about. A beautiful covering over an evil soul is like putting a fresh coat of paint on a dilapidated house. You may love the color of the paint but the falling roof can kill you. This movie based on a true story showed the harsh reality of a person being judged by the color of their skin. Sophie Okonedo (Hotel Rwanda, The Secret Life of Bees) played Sandra Laing, a dark skinned girl born to white Afrikaner parents in South Africa during the time of apartheid. With her curly hair and richly colored skin, Sandra fought to find her place despite society’s restrictions. Alice Krige (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, The Contract) and Sam Neill (Jurrassic Park franchise, The Vow) were wonderful playing Sandra’s parents Alice and Abraham Laing. Sophia did an incredible job of acting and in a way, I could relate to her feeling like an outsider. This film festival winner was a bit hard to watch for me, since I am uncomfortable when I witness prejudice. To see how Sandra and the black inhabitants of the country were treated solely on the color of their skin was distressing. Sandra and her parents truly were brave souls. I think I will suggest to my friend that he watch this amazing movie.

 

3 1/4 stars — DVD

Flash Movie Review: Invictus

Awestruck is what I have been while watching the Olympics. The athletes’ feats have been truly impressive. Not only did similar feelings get stirred in me from watching this uplifting movie; but after recently telling you I was not a fan of team sports, I have to say I became a supporter of the Springboks rugby team of South Africa. And that was in spite of not having a clue about the rules of the game. This was one of Clint Eastwood’s better directed movies in my opinion. It told the inspirational story about Nelson Mandela becoming the country’s first black president. There was already a built in base of dramatic events which Clint shot in a straight forward manner. The casting was brilliant as Morgan Freeman (Driving Miss Daisy, Evan Almighty) played Nelson Mandela and Matt Damon (We Bought a Zoo, The Bourne franchise) played rugby team captain, Francois Pienaar. After his long imprisonment, Nelson presided over a racially divided country. While attending a rugby game, he noticed the white fans were cheering their own country’s team, but the black fans were supporting the opposing team. He formed an idea: What if he could get both sides cheering for the Springboks? Mandela decided to reach out to Pienaar to discuss ways on improving the team’s mediocre performance and get the entire country behind their rugby team. Morgan was tremendous in his role, garnering an Oscar nomination, as well as Matt for his performance. A wonderful film about an incredible man; I understand why they named this film Invictus. It is the name of a poem that ends with the lines: I am the master of my fate.  I am the captain of my soul.

 

3 1/3 stars — DVD

Flash Movie Review: Disgrace

I can only imagine what the award winning book must be like after watching this movie adaptation of it. A powerful yet bleak look at race relations after apartheid ended in South Africa. Professor David Lurie, played by John Malkovich (Dangerous Liaisons, Burn After Reading) was a womanizer. He was brought up on charges for having a sexual relation with a student he gave a false, passing grade to on a test. Without remorse or justification Professor Lurie left his post, his home and traveled to the East Cape to live with his daughter Lucy, played by Jessica Haines (White Wedding, The Lost Future). Adjusting to rural living in the remote area, father and daughter tried to find common connection to each other.  The dynamics quickly changed however when they were brutally attacked and robbed by three black men. Was it a random attack or were they targeted? John Malkovich brought his incredible intensity to the role, able to convey his feelings without speaking. But, his accent was not always present. I found the juxtaposition of beautiful open landscapes with characters weighed down by their own despair to be an interesting mix. Covering such topics as racism and sexism, this was not a feel good type of movie. I found the script left some questions unanswered; so, I will have to read the book to get the full story on what was a fascinating story.

 

2 2/3 stars — DVD

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