Film Review:
The Last King of Scotland–R
Starring: Forest Whitaker, James McAvoy, Gillian Anderson
Directed by: Kevin Macdonald

Forest Whitaker (“Platoon,” “Bird”) has come along way since his cameo as the hard-hitting all-American high school football star in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.” “The Last King of Scotland” marks the magnificent character actors’ 40th feature film and his performance is not only prime Oscar fare but one of the best of his career. This being said, the film itself, while being incredibly suspenseful and interesting, at times feels like nothing more than a vehicle for Whitaker to shine in his flawless portrayal of the former Ugandan dictator, Idi Amin.

Whitaker is no stranger to playing the role of scene-stealer. Throughout his career he has nailed some of the most noteworthy roles in brilliant films such as Jim Jarmusch’s “Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai” and Neil Jordan’s “The Crying Game,” to the more mediocre fare like “Phone Booth” or 1995s creature feature, “Species.” Whether the material is thick or thin, Whitaker somehow always manages to mold his multi-faceted roles into intriguing standout characters.

In “Scotland” Whitaker devours his role as Uganda’s former dictator and worldly monster down to the finest of details. Besides mastering the thick Central African accent, Whitaker fully embodies the almost bipolar aspects of Amin. When he is first introduced Amin is jovial and inspiring to both the naïve protagonist on screen, Nicholas Garrigan (McAvoy), but also to the audience despite our predisposed knowledge of the horror’s to come. As the film progresses and things fall apart, we see the darker side of Amin erupt on screen. This kind of stellar acting feat is what made us sympathize with past venomous celluloid characters such as Adolph Hitler in 2004s “The Downfall’s” or to an extent the fictional Dr. Hannibal Lector–through raw humanism and benevolence even the most horrific of characters can draw us in and toy with our emotions.

“Scotland” is based off a number of different personal accounts and stories about Amin’s brutal term as President of Uganda during the 70s. The young Garrigan is a brash, recently appointed Scottish doctor who decides he’s not cut out for the simple and trite medical practice of his father’s. Through a literally random choice he decides to move to Uganda and try something exotic and, according to him, “fun.” Not too long after he begins his aid work he is befriended by the recently appointed Amin, again through an act of shear randomness.

Amin, admiring the young doctor’s fearless and uncorrupted nature and impartiality to British/Ugandan politics, decides to hire Garrigan on as his own personal physician, a job that he accepts almost entirely on the latent prospect of a more glamorous and possibly exciting future. Garrigan has no real knowledge of the history of Uganda or Amin and as he moves closer and closer into Amin’s personal circle of trust and the chaos that surrounds him we watch his naïve nature slowly peel away.

McAvoy nails his performance as Garrigan but fails to truly leave us with any lasting impression of his portrayal. When it’s all said and done, one can’t help but wonder if some other young Scottish actor could have equaled or bested Garrigan. Ultimately McAvoy serves as nothing more than an aid/fuel for Whitaker’s immaculate adaptation of Amin.

“The Last King of Scotland” is worth seeing, if anything because of Whitaker’s performance. The film is an honest and sobering look into the tortured soul of one of history’s many depraved dictators. Similarly to 2004s “Hotel Rwanda,” which featured a stellar performance by Don Cheadle but was ultimately a fairly forgettable film, “Scotland” is an interesting look at one of history’s bleaker chapters but fails to present any awe-inspiring messages. The film may not leave as lasting impression on you as say other eye opening films like, “The Downfall” or this year’s highly overlooked Indian film, “Water,” however, come Oscar season one can only hope that Whitaker’s performance gets the nod he deserves.

Film Review: The Last King of Scotland



Film Review:
The Last King of Scotland–R
Starring: Forest Whitaker, James McAvoy, Gillian Anderson
Directed by: Kevin Macdonald

Forest Whitaker (“Platoon,” “Bird”) has come along way since his cameo as the hard-hitting all-American high school football star in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.” “The Last King of Scotland” marks the magnificent character actors’ 40th feature film and his performance is not only prime Oscar fare but one of the best of his career. This being said, the film itself, while being incredibly suspenseful and interesting, at times feels like nothing more than a vehicle for Whitaker to shine in his flawless portrayal of the former Ugandan dictator, Idi Amin.

Whitaker is no stranger to playing the role of scene-stealer. Throughout his career he has nailed some of the most noteworthy roles in brilliant films such as Jim Jarmusch’s “Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai” and Neil Jordan’s “The Crying Game,” to the more mediocre fare like “Phone Booth” or 1995s creature feature, “Species.” Whether the material is thick or thin, Whitaker somehow always manages to mold his multi-faceted roles into intriguing standout characters.

In “Scotland” Whitaker devours his role as Uganda’s former dictator and worldly monster down to the finest of details. Besides mastering the thick Central African accent, Whitaker fully embodies the almost bipolar aspects of Amin. When he is first introduced Amin is jovial and inspiring to both the naïve protagonist on screen, Nicholas Garrigan (McAvoy), but also to the audience despite our predisposed knowledge of the horror’s to come. As the film progresses and things fall apart, we see the darker side of Amin erupt on screen. This kind of stellar acting feat is what made us sympathize with past venomous celluloid characters such as Adolph Hitler in 2004s “The Downfall’s” or to an extent the fictional Dr. Hannibal Lector–through raw humanism and benevolence even the most horrific of characters can draw us in and toy with our emotions.

“Scotland” is based off a number of different personal accounts and stories about Amin’s brutal term as President of Uganda during the 70s. The young Garrigan is a brash, recently appointed Scottish doctor who decides he’s not cut out for the simple and trite medical practice of his father’s. Through a literally random choice he decides to move to Uganda and try something exotic and, according to him, “fun.” Not too long after he begins his aid work he is befriended by the recently appointed Amin, again through an act of shear randomness.

Amin, admiring the young doctor’s fearless and uncorrupted nature and impartiality to British/Ugandan politics, decides to hire Garrigan on as his own personal physician, a job that he accepts almost entirely on the latent prospect of a more glamorous and possibly exciting future. Garrigan has no real knowledge of the history of Uganda or Amin and as he moves closer and closer into Amin’s personal circle of trust and the chaos that surrounds him we watch his naïve nature slowly peel away.

McAvoy nails his performance as Garrigan but fails to truly leave us with any lasting impression of his portrayal. When it’s all said and done, one can’t help but wonder if some other young Scottish actor could have equaled or bested Garrigan. Ultimately McAvoy serves as nothing more than an aid/fuel for Whitaker’s immaculate adaptation of Amin.

“The Last King of Scotland” is worth seeing, if anything because of Whitaker’s performance. The film is an honest and sobering look into the tortured soul of one of history’s many depraved dictators. Similarly to 2004s “Hotel Rwanda,” which featured a stellar performance by Don Cheadle but was ultimately a fairly forgettable film, “Scotland” is an interesting look at one of history’s bleaker chapters but fails to present any awe-inspiring messages. The film may not leave as lasting impression on you as say other eye opening films like, “The Downfall” or this year’s highly overlooked Indian film, “Water,” however, come Oscar season one can only hope that Whitaker’s performance gets the nod he deserves.



Ok Ok. So it’s been a while since my last post, which I am not terribly happy about. I started this blog with the intention of trying to write something every day or at the least, once a week. Life catches up to you I guess, especially when you finally find a job and all of a sudden lose all the luxuries and free time of an unemployed college grad. To keep you updated on the current happenings of Warner Sills, I took a nice little job at a French bistro/restaurant/cafe/whatever you want to call it in Hubbard Woods, IL (which, believe me, is as waspy as it sounds). So far the restaurant is a pretty chill environment. I’m making mad money, I get to say shit like “here’s your croque monsieur pannini sir” roughly translated to “here, eat your warm cheese sandwich dude” and I get to serve bottles of wine that cost as much one of my past pay checks at good old Bloomington Sears. The restaurant is run by a delightful woman from the Netherlands and a funny bald Iranian man. The other servers are nice although I’m starting to get the feeling that fellow server/restaurant workhorse Joanna from Romania sees me as a threat. Let’s just say I know that when someone hisses at me their intentions aren’t cordial. To top it off I figured out a way to avoid paying pesky taxes on all the tips, which works out just fine. Score! So the restaurant has been filling most of my nights, which is fine by me since it has filled the void of my unemployed nights of coming home after doing nothing and doing, well, nothing till I fall asleep at some ridiculously early hour.

I have also taken two magazine internships, which fill some of my days during the week. One is for Chicago Scene Magazine, which originally was pitched to me as an “entertainment guide” for the windy city but has started to appear more and more like a fashion magazine. That’s ok though since I am getting good copy editing experience and most of the work is done at home via the magic of email. The other internship is for, wait for it, a nationally recognized pet magazine called, Tails Inc (its affiliates being, Chicago Tails, Indy Tails, Michigan Tails, St. Louis Tails, Ohio Valley Tails, Sonoran Tails (Phoenix), Philly Tails, Jersey Tails and my personal favorite, Capital Tails (District Pets). The magazine’s headquarters is on the North side of Chicago (very convenient) and so far the experience of being a part of the Tails Team has been amusing to say the least. Actually the magazine is very professional while also being relaxed (my kind of place) and I’ve been getting a lot of publishing experience. So far I’ve done my share of internet research of all things pet related, I get to review pet products and pet books and I get to report the news about pets (for example, did you know that the state of California is encouraging employees in the private and public sectors to bring pet worms to work to help turn lunch food scraps into nutrient rich mulch which can then be used for gardening and/or recreational potting?). The magazine’s cover rivals that of Highlights Children’s Magazine but the inside content is actually pretty interesting and worthwhile. I also learned from this internship that people will do just about anything for their pets including ordering “Barktoria Secret Lingerie and Pajamas for Dogs” or how ’bout “Meowlot Kitty Wine” (really a fancy bottle of tuna gravy for spicing up some kibbles). The vast array or useless pet products out there never ceases to intrigue me I must say.

Basically if you had asked me three months ago what I would be doing around this time I would’ve told you working a 9-5 job or writing the great American novel or maybe even selling opium in Uzbekistan but never would I have said, “working for a prestigious pet magazine.” However, since the experiences thus far have been positive at all my endeavors I am not complaining and it just goes to show you that life throws a lot of curve balls at you.

Oh and I also have an open application in for the Peace Corps. I’m thinking of doing a two-year stint in South America before I truly figure out my life. Either that or somewhere in mysterious Central Asia.

So that’s me in a nutshell. Of course I’ve been seeing my share of movies, wasting more of my hard earned money on DVDs and concerts and I still frequent job sites looking for that perfect posting. Keep checking the blog, as I will hopefully continue with my rants and reviews. The fact is there is so much to write about but not enough time. There’s the story of the 20th row Rolling Stones concert that fell in my lap rather cheaply I might add or the night I ran down 60 flights of stairs at a high rise apartment building while on a rather nasty Jim Beam bender. Those will come later though.

Till then, Keep On Keeping On.

“I spoke to a man
down at the tracks.
I asked him
how he don’t go mad.
He said “Look here junior, don’t you be so happy.
And for Heaven’s sake, don’t you be so sad.”” –“Marquee Moon” by Television