Monday, December 18, 2006

The Last King of Scotland

by jaydro

I spent last week in Puerto Rico, and I was reminded of another reason I haven't been seeing as many films in theaters lately--I haven't been on enough vacations. Going to at least one movie while traveling is always a must.

This was my first time in Puerto Rico, and I was amazed that the newspaper ads there for movies featured art/independent films, and most days the only ads were for art films. Just a block or so down the street from my hotel in San Juan's Miramar district was the Fine Arts Cinema, run by Caribbean Cinemas, who seem to have a near-monopoly on theaters in Puerto Rico, or at least a near-monopoly on newspaper advertising for films in the San Juan Star.

While I went to PR with the intent of catching The Fountain (just for the Ponce de Leon verisimilitude), I found it wasn't playing when I arrived, though it did start there last Friday at one theater that I wasn't sure I could easily find (English version, no subtitles).

So I saw The Last King of Scotland (with Spanish subtitles), and I enjoyed it, though it's one of that genre of films I find a little tiresome--it's saying to the audience, oh, you poor deluded white man, you thought you could go amongst these savages and fix things for them, and look at what a mess you have made; while I'm usually thinking, oh, you poor deluded white filmmaker, you think you can tell the black/yellow/brown man's/woman's story by making a white man/woman the central character.

Anyway, the only reason to see this film is for Forest Whitaker, who is great as usual, but I don't think this is anywhere near his greatest performance. Like his recent work in TV's The Shield was way better than what he does in this film. But everyone thinks he's going to win an Oscar, and I'm cool with that.

The Last King of Scotland is the first English-language film I've seen with foreign subtitles, and I found myself unable to ignore them, which made for a somewhat interesting experience as I was getting a few Spanish lessons along the way.

The Queen started playing at the Fine Arts Miramar last Friday, and I wanted to catch that, but time did not permit.

Puerto Rico is a pretty cool island, and while there I thought it was a little bit sad that I know several acquaintances who have been to Cuba while I did not know anyone who had been to Puerto Rico (other than through the San Juan airport). Like Puerto Rico isn't hip enough for the with-it traveler, and it's not safe enough for the Caribbean traveler whose only interest is to hit the beach and Carlos 'n' Charlie's or Señor Frog's. Maybe instead of going to Alaska on my next trip I should go to Libya, just so I can be the first on my block?

No Tony Montana in Puerto Rico, but Michael Corleone appeared in sticker graffiti in Old San Juan.

Balneario Punta Guilarte on 16 December. 85 degrees. Water temperature 75 degrees. And the place is deserted....

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Blogger Nick said...

I have some African friends who I know would be interested in seeing The Last King if I told them about it, but who would probably start throwing stuff at the screen as soon as they saw from what angle it was coming from. So I'm refraining from recommending it to them.

It's no wonder they'd be pissed off, really. First the white man colonizes and 'adapts' them to their norms, then after they're free of all that the next generation of white men - be they 'well-intentioned' - come over and tell them their history. I'd be raging.

12/19/2006 02:40:00 AM  
Blogger Nick said...

Saying that they're "free of all that" is likely a very wrong way to put it, as well.

12/19/2006 02:42:00 AM  
Blogger Brian said...

That's certainly true of Last King of Scotland, but at least it has the virtue of making its white character a total idiot, and not pretending otherwise. He doesn't really even get a chance to redeem himself, as is the convention in movies like this.

Blood Diamond is far, far more insipid.

12/19/2006 09:40:00 AM  
Blogger Nick said...

Blood Diamond is far, far more insipid.

Dude, I am watching that movie. Nothing you say will stop me.

12/19/2006 10:42:00 AM  
Blogger Brian said...

Not trying to stop you. Just laying the groundwork to make fun of you if you like it.

12/19/2006 11:07:00 AM  
Blogger Nick said...

How very thoughtful of you.

12/19/2006 11:32:00 AM  
Blogger Count Olaf said...

no shortage of Christmas cheer here!

12/19/2006 11:51:00 AM  

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