Friday, December 11, 2009

Invictus: A Colossal Bore

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Finally, I found a movie critic that reflects a more accurate view of reality; instead of the ubiquitous, nauseatingly obsequious reviews, proclaiming Invictus will be a massive Oscar winner. It probably will be, but for the same reasons that Obama won the Nobel Peace prize.

What these reviewers need is more cowbell, a lot more cowbell.

Click here, in case you haven't drank from Bill Burr's fountain of truth.

South Africa is plagued with astonishing levels of crime and poverty, its peoples segregated and suspicious of one another. But the new Clint Eastwood-directed movie Invictus says that’s all okay, because the country’s rugby team won a few games in 1995.

Coming off last winter’s excellent and far more challenging Gran Torino, Invictus is shockingly pedestrian and cliché-ridden. Its level of racial naivety makes it a sort of Driving Mr. Damon, with Morgan Freeman accepting a demotion from his usual roles as God or the president of the United States. This time he merely plays a saint — Nelson Mandela.

Although in one scene we are told that Mandela is a flesh-and-blood human being with family troubles, the rest of the movie shows the man working himself to exhaustion, protesting that he is overpaid, putting himself in physical peril for the sake of his country, forgiving sinners, and generally glowing from the halo over his head. As played by Morgan Freeman with maximum beatitude, he’s one of many reasons why this movie is a colossal bore.

Another is Matt Damon who, as the blond captain of the South African national rugby team the Springboks, is a total blank except that he really wants to win. His team plays so badly in the early stages of the movie that he orders everyone to drink the worst beer he can find — to symbolize the bitter taste of defeat. If putting together a championship-caliber team were that easy, wouldn’t the Detroit Lions simply order in a few cases of Pabst?

Despite Eastwood’s eagerness to portray Mandela as a sort of Jesus with a funny accent, the president seems to be less interested in his country’s nightmare problems than in spending vast amounts of time obsessing over the fortunes of the nearly all-white rugby team as South Africa prepares to host rugby’s World Cup.

And what is rugby? You got me. It is to football what cricket is to baseball, I suppose. There are teams of brawny men, there is a ball, and you’re not allowed to throw the ball forward. That’s all the movie has to say about the rules. Why do most of the players from each of the two rival teams all gather together with arms locked in a circle? It’s a mystery. In a movie that contains several scenes of Mandela poring over the World Cup rugby bracket, it’s a crazy omission.

As the Springboks advance through the tournament, there is never the slightest suspense about where the movie is going or about the point it is trying to make. The point is that through sport, everyone (or at least everyone in South Africa) can put differences aside and join together as one. The idea is laughable; South Africa, many years after the end of apartheid, remains a seething, dangerous place. The result of a rugby tournament meant nothing.

And from the point of view of the black South Africans in the movie, the team is probably racist (it has only one black player). Early in Invictus (the title comes from a classic English poem about never giving up) the national sports council, which is all or mostly black, has to be dissuaded by Mandela from disbanding the Springboks and throwing away its green and gold emblems as symbols of apartheid. Mandela tells them to forgive. Mighty nice of him, but you can’t make people love a sports team.

Mandela shows up at the World Cup final dressed in the team colors, and we’re meant to believe that the black citizens became overnight fans of a squad that they had mostly associated with the brutality of the police and the military. After the agony of apartheid, would they really be that eager to throw their allegiance to a white team playing a white sport? (The black members of the president’s security detail confess that they don’t understand the rules of rugby.)

Not content to make the absurd case that rugby healed a nation, the movie stretches to the point that Mandela seems to be the main reason the team wins. He calls in the rugby captain, Francois Pienaar, for a meeting that makes the front pages of the nation’s newspapers. Pienaar exits the meeting with a stunned look on his face because Mandela has just hinted that his team should try to win the World Cup. As if that’ll make all the difference.

Bizarre as it is to watch such an experienced filmmaker waste gobs of screen time on a sport you probably don’t care about or understand, it’s even more bizarre for Eastwood to think he has something interesting to say. “Hurrah for togetherness, boo to racists” is about it.

Pajamas Media

9 Opinion(s):

AMB said...

I for one won't watch this trash. Mandela only got involved in the World Cup as window dressing and to show everyone how popular he was - and the SA white public fell for it hook, line and sinker. That he was the reason the Boks won is absurd. And, who cares if the blacks like the Boks or not? I personally, couldn't give a flying fig.


Has to be very simple for the Super sized Wal Mart zombies to grasp.

Anonymous said...

Another film brought to us by the vision of the Jewish producer, Roger Birnbaum, that portreighs the advantages (real or imagined) of multiculturalism in South Africa.

South Africa is being upheld as the flagship example of the benefits of multiculturalism and this view has to be enforced at all cost, even if it means making false clap trap films.

Viking said...

A whole paragraph pretending he doesn't know what rugby is? He mustn't have seen Forever Strong from last year.
I suspect there are a lot of similarities between the two films ..

Dachshund said...

Watched Jerusalema on Mnet last night. Now that's a lot more realistic. It's about black organised crime.

"If you're going to steal...Steal big, and hope like hell you get away with it!"


Sakkie de Kok said...

I´m sad to see Clint Eastwood involved in anything like this. He was a bit of a hero in the old days, the way he shot the shit out of the bad guys, no matter how unPC it was.
Looks like he´s feeling his mortality as he contemplates his approaching demise, and the legacy he will leave behind.
Well, fuck you Clint. I hope you forget to count properly next time, and the bad guy gets you.

Anonymous said...

Besides all the political connotations etc,etc, I actually think Morgan Freeman is a very good actor. Thats all it is an act... hence they are called actors...They get paid to do what boss Eastwood tells em. Doesnt mean I will go watch the movie, etc. Now if you want a pain in the a** actor try Danny Glover, that dude takes his roles to his head, totally unpleasant.

Exzanian said...

What does Clint Eastwood know about SA, or for that matter Mandela? This movie is just a regurgitation of popular mythology. It's kak not worth watching. Rather go and watch District 9 again, or stay at home watching SABC....

Ron. said...

This movie just proves how the notion of State hagiography trumps all other considerations. Remember: the main point of this movie is that the State transcended itself [ or rather its past ] in order to rationalize its continued existence - in a bit of almost circular logic. Further evidence that the ANC is just a puppet regime for those who run the State behind the scenes.

Furthermore the premise of the movie does not sound right because I doubt whether Mandela recruited Pienaar [ from the French Pinard for those ignorant "they are from Dutch" Westerners who frighten with their obstinate reluctance to crack open a single book on the topic - but I digress ] in the way Hollywood [ I think I just answered my own question ] asserts because this sounds like after the fact mythology in order to make out a more significant event than it was.

This is just the sort of thing Hollywood is good at as they are renown or infamous for hijacking & distorting events out of all proportion in order to sell the public on mythology which only advances notions which serve an elitist agenda. Similar to how elitist historians erroneously assert a lack of reconciliation between the Boers & Zulus [ in order to promote an anti-Boer agenda ] while neglecting to take note of the Boer-Zulu reconciliation which occurred in 1840 [ when they exchanged rocks of peace ] & again in 1866 when they stacked rocks on the bank of the Ncombe River in a spirit of reconciliation. This movie hijacks a true event & recasts it in order to serve an elitist agenda which ironically could not care less about the peoples of the region.