So I posted a review of Spotlight which I might have called ‘Beasts of the Church’ but since then I’ve watched The Big Short and Beasts of No Nation. I could have just written one big post called ‘Beasts’ as they are everywhere.
Fantastic flicks. Movies of magnitude. Fabulous films. All of the above. Both of them. But in one there are some bad guys, in the other a bad and complicit society. Or maybe both in both.
Beasts of No Nation is really a powerful moving important film. It has history—contemporary history and politics—think ego-maniacal Trump and religious-fanatic Cruz in a hot climate gathering their minions of poor, displaced, uneducated youth (and grown-ups who should know better) and lots of available weapons and don’t think for a minute it would be any different right here in river city.
I gather the story is based on Sierra Leone’s endless civil/warlord war and maybe on the Lord’s Resistance Army in Ghana. It’s especially horrific because of the use of children as soldiers/killers but as I write this I wonder why that is somehow more horrible than what is happening to the children of Syria and Iraq and Afghanistan as they’re brutalized and starved and left without families or homes or education. The problem is when I start thinking about one hideous miscarriage of justice there are always ten or a hundred more to weigh in on the more-or-less horrible scale.
Focus then on the absolutely tough and brilliant performance by Idris Elba as the commandant with his army of disadvantaged children. Obviously the commandant is a bad guy so how is it Elba makes him bad—very bad—and believable—well that might not be so hard since very bad guys abound—but also sympathetic or do I mean empathetic? I don’t find the commandant unbelievable nor do I believe at heart there’s not a bit of humanity/caring/empathy of his own left. I almost care about him too. Well I do. Some. So that is a performance people. And why Elba isn’t one of the nominees makes me believe the Academy is flawed, a lot, just as so many people are saying. Idris Elba is simply such an amazing actor he could play an insurance salesman that you cared about… There I’ve said it …that’s how good he is.
I think I’ll save The Big Short for an evening think and wine