Friday, 16 July 2010

Review of the Redeye

I was asked via shoutbox on Blog Catalog by good friend and fellow blogger Juliana Matthews aka Ladygoodwood to review two films she had just seen on a flight as she thought I'd do a good review of them, well ego boosted I set out on my mission to complete this task. Funnily enough I actually believed I owned the first film Invictus on DVD but realised I had just picked it up in a store before but didn't buy it so I took a trip to an online DVD store and then two days later it arrived in the post and eagerly I set about watching the film and I was not disappointed.

The film tells the inspirational true life story of how Nelson Mandela joined forces with the captain of South Africa's national rugby team Francois Pienaar to help unite their Native Country. Newly elected President Mandela knows all to well his Nation remains racially and economically divided in the wake of apartheid. Believing there to be only one way to unite the people of his Country through the universal language of sport, Mandela rallies South Africa's rugby team as they make their historic run to the Rugby World Cup final against the most dominating force in International rugby of that time the mighty All Blacks, New Zealand.

This is a wondrously well crafted film based on the novel "Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation" by John Carlin and expertly reworked for the screen by screenwriter Anthony Peckham whose other screenwriting credits include "Sherlock Holmes" and "Don't say a Word" but it's in the direction of Clint Eastwood that brings this film to forefront of great films of this decade, once again Eastwood has chosen a subject matter that as an actor he wouldn't have been given the opportunity to work with and created one of his best films of his career. His career as a director is vast approaching eclipsing his historic career as an actor with this his 31st film as director and with Hoover and Hereafter which will reunite him with Matt Damon on the horizon there is another Oscar nomination or win in his not to distant future.

The central performance by Morgan Freeman is as great as you would imagine being that he was born to play this role and play the role he does. He portrays Mandela the man not Mandela the myth which is something I think most actors would fail to accomplish. His performance is filled with grace and gravitas befitting the great man he is portraying my only question is where does Mr. Freeman go from here? He's portrayed God, the President of the United States and now President Mandela what iconic figures are left for an actor of this stature to portray? I had heard of a rumoured Clint Eastwood pet project about the life of the Blues great BB King maybe this would be a great role for Freeman if he is willing to bulk up.

I was skeptical when I heard that Matt Damon had been cast as Francois Pienaar as I could barely remember him as a player and didn't really see a strong resemblance between them or think a non South African should play the role but humble pie I must eat as Damon owns the role completely. As an actor I actually do like Damon's work, The Bourne movies, Dogma, Good Will Hunting, Saving Private Ryan and in the Departed he puts in stellar performances I guess it's the whole Team America thing every time I hear his name I remember the way that puppet said it 'Mattt Daaamooon', and it makes me laugh, childish I know but it was really funny the first time I saw that movie.

I think special praise should go out to another actor who has been criminally overlooked by most reviewers of this film and that would be Tony Kgoroge who portrays Mandela's head of security Jason Tshabalala in the film. With very little dialogue for the length of screen time he has he created an incredibly well rounded character that really sticks in your mind. He also manages to do this while sharing the screen with Morgan Freeman who is putting in a career best performance which makes it all the more impressive.

Invictus was budgeted at $60,000,000 and grossed $124,479,778 worldwide and earned two Oscar nominations and is a great film even if you don't understand the rules of rugby or aren't a sports film fan in general there is so much depth to the film that there is something for everyone.

The Boat That Rocked or Pirate Radio as it was distributed as by US distributor Universal is an ensemble British romantic comedy with a twist as the romance in the film is between the young British people of the 1960's and pop music. The film is very loosely based on Radio Caroline, a popular pirate radio ship with a similar history and style. Directed by Richard Curtis (Love Actually) and starring an amazing cast including Philip Seymour Hoffman, Bill Nighy, Kenneth Branagh, Nick Frost, Gemma Arterton and a surprisingly short appearance by Emma Thompson the film is about a group of rogue DJ's that captivated Britain, playing the music that defined that era and standing up to a government that believed such music was almost pornographic.

With a script written by Richard Curtis who wrote Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, the Bridget Jones movies and Love Actually I was slightly hesitant of this film at first. I'm not a big Rom-Com fan and found the movies mentioned above to be to sappy even for my taste but as he also wrote such classic British works as Blackadder, Not the Nine O'clock News and French and Saunders I was willing to give it a go.

The film has it's moments Hoffman, Frost and Nighy are on top form as always and the rest of the cast do their best with what they are given but I felt some of the other characters where underwritten and the plot dragged a little in the middle, the 2 hour running time could and probably should have been cut to closer to 90 minutes but on a whole I found it to be very charming in a very British way. It's a 6/10 kind of film for me, I like it, just not loving it but I will watch anything with Bill Nighy in it the man is a genius.

The Boat That Rocked made $29,800,000 worldwide which is very healthy for a British comedy as British humour often doesn't translate well into other languages or other regions. If your looking for a no brainer with a couple of good laughs check it out if you're looking for something with a bit more meat on it's bones I'd go with Invictus.

Thanking You
The Housebound Writer


  1. I almost bought Invictus yesterday! Now I wish I had!!! I've seen and heard a lot about it around, it must be really a good movie.

    The boat that rocked is going to be on TV next week I guess. I won't miss it! =))))

    Andrew, I'd like to see you talking about French Cinema here anyday. My obvious favorite is the Fabulous Destiny of Amélie Poulain, to which many people I know can relate, I'd love to hear your opinion on French movies.

    Kiss your cheeks, sweetie. =*

  2. I always love reading your reviews, my dear friend. I'm going to have to start renting some of these movies. I trust your opinion so much. :-)

  3. Emma Murty22 July, 2010

    That was spot on about The Boat That Rocked I mean I only remember you laughing....oops, lol secrets out.

  4. See - told you that you would do fantastic reviews!!! I am delighted you liked Invictus - it had me crying in several places. You have really got me excitied now with the potential of Morgan Freeman portraying BB King! Eric Clapton made a CD with him 'Riding with the King' and Clapton said he would go anywhere at any time just to get the chance of playing with King, he really is the godfather of Blues. Eastwood would be the perfect director and I know he and Freeman have a great mutual respect for each others craft.

    I also think you are spot on about The Boat That Rocked and I am very impressed you found it seeing as how I gave you the wrong title! I grew up with Radio Caroline and Radio Luxembourg so it was especially poignant for me. At that time, the only pop music ever played on the BBC was Pick of the Pops on a Sunday! See, i am a walking piece of history LOL

    Thank you so much for doing the reviews Andrew, they are structured and objective and a real pleasure to read.