The story of the life and career of the legendary rhythm and blues musician Ray Charles, from his humble beginnings in the South, where he went blind at age seven, to his meteoric rise to stardom during the 1950s and 1960s.
In 1959, Truman Capote learns of the murder of a Kansas family and decides to write a book about the case. While researching for his novel In Cold Blood, Capote forms a relationship with one of the killers, Perry Smith, who is on death row.
Philip Seymour Hoffman,
Clifton Collins Jr.,
Filmmaker Davis Guggenheim follows Al Gore on the lecture circuit, as the former presidential candidate campaigns to raise public awareness of the dangers of global warming and calls for immediate action to curb its destructive effects on the environment.
A look at tightrope walker Philippe Petit's daring, but illegal, high-wire routine performed between New York City's World Trade Center's twin towers in 1974, what some consider, "the artistic crime of the century".
Jean François Heckel,
In the early 1970s Nicholas Garrigan, a young semi-idealistic Scottish doctor, comes to Uganda to assist in a rural hospital. Once there he soon meets up with the new President, Idi Amin, who promises a golden age for the African nation. Garrigan hits it off immediately with the rabid Scotland fan, who soon offers him a senior position in the national health department and becomes one of Amin's closest advisers. However as the years pass, Garrigan cannot help but notice Amin's increasingly erratic behavior that grows beyond a legitimate fear of assassination into a murderous insanity that is driving Uganda into bloody ruin. Realizing his dire situation with the lunatic leader unwilling to let him go home, Garrigan must make some crucial decisions that could mean his death if the despot finds out.Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (email@example.com)
On the DVD director's commentary, Kevin Macdonald states that during filming of Idi Amin's visit to the village near the mission, many of the local extras thought it was the real Idi Amin on stage giving speeches. See more »
Large, glass-fronted office buildings are visible in the background of some Kampala street scenes. They didn't exist in the 1970s, when the film was set. See more »
The use of Garrigan is a strength and weakness but it is a good film thanks mainly to a terrific turn from Whitaker
The newly qualified Dr Nicholas Garrigan travels to Uganda to take up a post with a village mission. He arrives just after a coup puts Idi Amin in power of the country. During a visit by Amim to the village, Garrigan captures the President's attention by tending to a small injury to his hand and showing himself decisive and strong-willed. It is not long before the young Garrigan finds himself appointed as physician to the President and ensconced as one of his "closest advisors". However the initial charm shown by Amin gives way to a darker violent streak as Garrigan finds the superficial stability of the country and its leader is nothing of the sort.
Famous now for the performance that will deservedly win an Oscar in a few weeks time, this film actually doesn't have Amin as the "main" character despite him being the draw and the title character. Instead we actually spend a lot of time with Garrigan, his experiences and his problems. Of course I understand why this was the way because Garrigan is out narrative device a composite character who acts as our way into the inner circle of Amin and allows the audience to experience him as outsiders as well. This works well in doing this but it does also introduce problems, or at least one problem. This is the fact that, as the story goes on, we find ourselves more and more focused on Garrigan (who doesn't actually exist) rather than Amin or Uganda (who did and does exist respectively). I found this a bit irritating as it got worse because I had come to the film for Amin as, I suspect, many will have done.
Even with this though the film still works well and makes for an engaging piece. Macdonald's direction is good and his moving camera does give it the air of a documentary while still very much being a drama. Of course the thing that makes the film work is the central performance from Whitaker. The character of Amin allows him to play to his strengths and he delivers a convincingly unhinged turn, constantly menacing but also managing to have a child-like sense of fun at times and a terrifying tendency towards ruthlessness and violence. I have said before, he was brilliant in The Shield (making the whole season his own) and he is equally brilliant here. Alongside this it is no surprise that McAvoy is a bit weak by comparison. His character is not so convincing (a side effect of being a composite) and some of the narrative turns ask a lot of him he is still good and it is not his fault that he is in Whitaker's shadow. Washington has a small role but was pretty good in it even if her presence made me wonder why they felt they had to cast an American actress, likewise Anderson but I assume that they helped get funding so fair enough. McBurney is a bit too slimy and sinister and I wasn't sure what the film was trying to say. Audiences may also recognise Oyelowo from his recent high-profile roles in HBO's Five Days and BBC's controversial Shoot The Messenger.
Overall then not a perfect film but a pretty good one. The use of Garrigan is good at getting us into the story but it is a weakness that we stick with him as the focus. The performances are roundly good but of course it is another terrific turn from Whitaker that makes every scene he is in worth seeing.
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