This week - A Scottish doctor finds himself embroiled in Amin's Uganda (The Last King of Scotland) and Affleck is rubbish again, (Smokin' Aces).
Bradshaw describes it as "thoroughly enjoyable, confident, dramatically satisfying". The bulk of the praise goes to Whitaker for his portrayal of Amin,
Talk about getting your teeth into a juicy role. In Idi Amin, the great tyrant of Uganda from 1971 to 1979, Forest Whitaker has been given a sextuple whopper with extra cheese - and he supplies the relish ... It is, above all things, a fantastic display of old-fashioned character acting from Forest Whitaker in a satanically villainous role. This is the kind of performance for which awards are designed.
The Times (the website does not reveal who wrote this review - James Christopher? Wendy Ide? That other chap?) describes The Last King of Scotland as a film "littered" with "nerve-shredding moments", a film as "gloriously shambolic as its unpredictable star.",
Moments of trigger-happy tension can dissolve into farce in an instant. A single loose joke can cost a dozen lives. Whitaker’s meaty general weighs in at 20-odd stone. His charisma floods the screen. I’ve never seen an actor take every single scene by the throat.
The Times also reveals that Whitaker was not the director’s immediate choice to Amin, calling Whitaker's effort "a gigantic performance" and writing "I can’t imagine who could possibly do it better."
For Quinn at the Independent, the film "engrossingly charts the way eccentricity becomes something dangerous, and murderous." However, they are the first to pick out a real criticism of the film
I wonder if the film-makers realise that, in spite of McAvoy's charm, the safety of this complacent, rather dim man won't concern the audience quite as much as they'd like ... This seems to me the major miscalculation of the film; that when the protagonist is most in need of rescue we, the audience, feel anything but sympathy for his plight. By this stage, after all, he has betrayed his colleagues and been complicit in the economic mismanagement of the country, and he stands personally accountable for the murder of people who trusted him ... Macdonald, aiming for a thriller conclusion, picks up the pace in the last reel, but when the hero seems barely less ignorant at the end than he is at the beginning, you struggle to care.
Watch the trailer here.
Next up, Smokin' Aces
Bradshaw calls it "a smirkingly violent ensemble action-comedy" that "leaves a very strange taste in the mouth." and "a stupid, ugly and boring picture with all the interest and subtlety of a PlayStation game"
It certainly has quite a cast. Ray Liotta is in there, doing his level best, and Andy Garcia plays an FBI man. Horrifically, Ben Affleck plays a louche bail-bondsman lounging around the pool table, sporting a leather cap and moustache that make him look like a reserve member of the Village People - the one all the other Village People used to beat up backstage for looking too gay.
Anthony Quinn in the Independent calls this film "one gigantic fizzle" and writes that,
The identity swaps, double-crosses and multiple shoot-em-ups are reminiscent of The Usual Suspects and early Tarantino, without the ingenuity of the former or the breakneck energy of the latter: the big set-piece speeches and the sicko violence just make you groan.
The Times review begins promisingly,
the movie is packed with copious weaponry, mob machinations and a vengeful lesbian assassin hauling a shoulder-held rocket launcher
So far so good. But then,
Even after ten final minutes of laboured explanation of the final twist, the plot is still riddled with holes so large that you could march an army through them.
Damn, it's rubbish.
Go and see The Last King of Scotland.
Other films out this week - Ghosts (Dramatisation of the Morecambe Bay tragedy, where 21 Chinese cockle-pickers lost their lives in February 2004.) and The Pursuit of Happiness (Will Smith stars in an old-fashioned Hollywood heartwarmer, the true story of US multi-millionaire Chris Gardner, who experienced hardship and homelessness before he found success)
Trailer of the week - This looks appalling... The Messengers