Monday Morning Critic – Idris Elba, Nelson Mandela’s Legacy and the Timing of Mandela: Walk to FreedomDeadfall Reviewed

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Nelson Mandela’s death probably couldn’t have happened at a better time for Harvey Weinstein and Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. The cynic in me says that, of course, as Mandela happened to be at an advanced age and was probably not long for the world as is. And while Harvey Weinstein has downplayed the death of Mandela happening within the same month that a biopic about the man comes out affecting the box office grosses, of course, but it’s something he has to do. It’s not like he can start singing this song in public right now.

Immediately after the death of a world icon and a man who affected change in his world Weinstein has to strike a respectful tone, of course, and Mandela coming out shortly after the man’s death is fortuitous timing for all involved. While the world mourns for one of its great leaders we get to celebrate his life in film. It’s a time of sadness for a lot of people, of course, but I think right now we get the right film at the right time.

So far, cinematically, we’ve had a lot of talented actors play the iconic leader. Danny Glover, Morgan Freeman and Dennis Haysbert have been among the guys to play Mandela. Playing Mandela for actors of a certain age seems to be like being Dr. Who; eventually you get your chance. Now it’s time for Idris Elba, famous for being Stringer Bell in The Wire and slightly lesser famous for cancelling the apocalypse, to step into the limelight. And I think now the spotlight for him is going to burn a lot brighter because it’s not just about playing an iconic leader anymore. It’s about Mandela’s legacy.

Elba’s involvement in the film was what made me really interested in it in the first place. I’ve long since proclaimed him as one of the best actors in Hollywood who isn’t getting awesome roles, alongside Anthony Mackie and a host of others, and in any other year this film would place significant but not overwhelming expectations on him. Playing Mandela is a tough role, of course, but stepping into the role while the man was alive gave it a certain context.

If you screw it up, I think, people will be more forgiving because there’s always another actor and another film to get it right. If this was several years after his death we’d hold him to roughly the same standard we did for Joaquin Phoenix and Walk the Line. It’s a bit less forgiving than the one that Morgan Freeman got for Invictus, of course, but it’s still somewhat hard.

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Shortly after his death Idris Elba is being tasked with a difficult task: put into cinematic form the life of a man who just passed. He couldn’t have known it when they made the film, of course, but now that Mandela has passed there’s a responsibility to portray the man accurately, warmly and honestly. It’s why Mandela: Walk to Freedom suddenly has taken on a higher importance on the cinematic calendar this year.

Right now we’re looking back at Mandela’s life because of the recentness of his passing. It’s the opportune time for a film like Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. But will that film be the right one? I don’t know. But I hope it is.

Stuff for General George S. Pimpage, Esq

From elsewhere in the Inside Pulse Network:

I wrote a piece on Mark Hunt vs. Bigfoot Silva, the fight of the year, for Inside Fights. Check it here

I still write reviews every now and again. Check out Getaway, All The President’s Men and Byzantium on Blu-Ray.

My buddy David Spaltro, of ..Around and Things I Don’t Understand fame, is doing a third New York film called Wake up in New York. He’s got a poster for it, too, so check it.

And now on MMC … we DANCE!

If you want to pimp anything email it to me with a good reason why. It helps to bribe me with stuff, just saying ….

A Movie A Week – The Challenge

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This week’s DVD DVR’d Film From AT&T’s Free HBO/Showtime Weekend – Deadfall

So a couple weeks ago my cable provider opted to do a free preview weekend for HBO & Showtime, in the hoops of getting people to up their packages to include all the premium channels. Since I don’t see the need for having that many channels, and being cheap, I opted to keep my cable package as is. What I did do, though, as I used my DVR to record a whole ton of movies while I was doing other things.

Mainly it was films I haven’t seen and don’t feel like buying, as they’ve been on DVD for quite some time, and thusly it was a perfect time to test them out before I thought about adding them into my DVD collection. Thus comes this week’s film, a crime drama set in the ice and snow.

It’s a simple premise. Liza (Olivia Wilde) and Addison (Eric Bana) have just pulled off a robbery. It’s her first and obvious that he isn’t new to the criminal lifestyle. When a car accident leaves them stranded in the middle of the ice and snow, looking to get to the Canadian border, they split up and take two different paths. Of course they’re bound to meet up again, as that’s the plan, but it doesn’t work out the way they think it will.

Addison opts to get all murder-happy, killing anyone in his path to stay warm. Liza runs into Jay (Charlie Hunnam), complete with Sons of Anarchy Jax’s trademarked gruntastic voice, winding up stranded at a truck stop bar due to the incoming blizzard. As Addison murders his way to a cabin, Jay and Liza wind up making a connection that only two damaged people can find with one another. She’s left in quandary: does she follow her heart or does she follow her brother?

It will all wind up culminating in a violent shootout at his parents’ house, of course. No good crime film, or an after the crime film like this should technically be, ends peacefully with everyone shaking hands. I enjoyed Deadfall but didn’t love it. This is a good film with a tremendous cast that manages to not overstay its welcome and give us some interesting character arcs.

One thing kept driving me bonkers, though. Olivia Wilde and Eric Bana have the absolute worst Southern accidents I’ve heard in a film. I’m not a southerner, far from it, but this sounds like my version of that particular regional accent. It’s distracting and doesn’t add anything into the film. If they had just been plain vanilla, non accented English it wouldn’t have been a problem.

Other than that it’s a solid indie crime film, nothing more. It’s a good view on cable, and you can Netflix it without feeling guilty, but it’s not something to rush out and see.

Slightly recommended.

What Looks Good This Weekend, and I Don’t Mean the $2 Pints of Bass Ale and community college co-eds with low standards at the Alumni Club

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smug – Part 2 of Peter Jackson’s adaptation of the Lord of the Rings prequel.

See It – So far it looks impressive and Jackson is at his best with Hobbits and whatnot.

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas – Tyler Perry busts out his transvestite grandma to take on Christmas.

Skip it – If you’ve seen one film from the man you’ve seen them all.

American Hustle – Christian Bale is a con man who gets tapped by an FBI Agent (Bradley Cooper) to bring down a crooked politician. In limited release

See it – So far it’s being labeled as an Oscar front runner and that’s usually a good sign.

Saving Mr. Banks – The story behind the film version of Mary Poppins.

See it – Hanks is usually money at the end of the year.

Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings his trademarked irreverence and offensive hilarity to Twitter in 140 characters or less. Follow him @ScottSawitz .

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