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Invictus – a review

December 17, 2009 2 comments

Clint Eastwood has become a pretty big player in the film industry. When he directs a film, you expect a lot. So when you go to watch Invictus there is a weight of expectation. You’re thinking Million Dollar Baby, Mystic River, Changeling… all of which are dramatic and beautiful. So when the film opens it’s a bit of a shock. This doesn’t look like Eastwood… this looks like a film made by South Africans. The film isn’t glossy. The acting feels a bit wooden. The characters (and actors) are all too South African. And that’s why those of you who are expecting the gloss and glamour of a Hollywood production are bound to be disappointed. However, this definitely is an Eastwood film. It’s just not an American film. It’s South African, it’s real and it’s gritty. At times the acting does feel a bit awkward, or wooden. But this isn’t a script that was written to be smooth or funny or quirky. This is reality. This is a story of a country at a crossroad, of real people, with real problems. Once you’ve come to grips with that you quickly become engrossed in the film.

I will admit that there are some ‘lapses’ in the film. There is the occasional continuity error. The music can be a bit jarring. The live action rugby scenes can be a bit flat. And the scenes of South Africans packed into their lounges, pubs, and shabeens to watch the World Cup final also feel a bit cheesy.

But the beauty of the film is that, as with so many of Eastwood’s films, the story drives some key themes. It is about integrity, forgiveness, hope and love. And what makes the film so much more impactful is that this isn’t a fictitious story aimed at neatly delivering some key messages to a lost generation. These characters weren’t dreamt up to be endearing. The story is true. Critic David Ansen says it best when he says ‘Yet the lapses fade in the face of such a soul-stirring story – one that would be hard to believe if it were fiction. The wonder of Invictus is that it actually went down this way.

It seems that South Africa is moving into the centre of the world’s attention. And what better way to begin our move than with the story of Invictus. It is a story which should remind all of us where we have come from and should inspire us to be more than we think we can be. Invictus definitely won’t be a box office dominator (especially overseas) and it won’t provide the whole family with two hours of fun and laughter. But it should be prescribed viewing – go see it.

Morgan Freeman coming to SA

December 7, 2009 Leave a comment

For those of you who don’t already know – Morgan Freeman and his producing partner Lori McCreary are coming to town to attend the local premiere events for Invictus. Freeman plays the role of Nelson Mandela the story of South Africa’s triumpth in the 1995 Rugby World Cup. Freeman recently revealed that he has been preparing for this role since the early 1990’s, when he first met Mandela. Freeman is quoted as saying, ‘”He told me he wanted me to play him in a movie someday. For that I asked him to give me personal access so that I could understand his body language. He readily agreed. So anytime we were anywhere in proximity after that we would meet. I have always been preparing for this role even before I stepped in front of the camera as him.”

As part of the trip to SA Freeman and McCleary will also be supporting various local charity initiatives around the films 11th December release date. The charities they are supporting include – The Nelson Mandela Foundation, The Make a Difference Foundation and the Chirs Burger/Petro Jackson Players’ Fund. the donations will be handed over to these charities on the 16th December – The National Day of Reconciliation – at an event at Maponya Mall, Soweto.

The trip marks a return to Africa for Freeman and McCreary, who, in addition to their work on “Invictus,” shot the feature film “Bopha!” entirely on location in Zimbabwe in 1993.  Freeman directed “Bopha!” with McCreary serving as producer.