Archive for the ‘Anthony Hopkins’ Category

The World’s Fastest Indian

21 Feb

The World’s Fastest Indian — directed by Roger Donaldson. Sportsflick. A 68-year-old man shoots for the world speed record on a 40-year-old bike. 127 minutes Color 2005.


This is a children’s film. It is about a man who gets by on magical mechanics. On the surface of it, it is about a feat, and as such, like National Velvet, it is the story of a single person’s faith and pertinacity – and. after encountering many obstacles, in the end the individual shines through. But here the obstacles are all mechanical failures of one sort or another and they are solved by the mechanical genius of Burt Munro, our hero, with the help of persons he meets on the roadside. But that is not what really fuels the adventure and the story of this movie. That is not the real story. What it is really about is how all those folks on the roadside are actually charmed. By what? By the soul and spirit of Munro. And the movie is actually the story of that. It is not a story about an underdog or people’s rooting for an underdog. Rather, it is a story about people responding to the delighted life force, the élan vitale of a single person and joining up to help him because of it. To make this person we have Anthony Hopkins. He makes Munro deaf, odd, abstracted, full of jokes, and a certain shine. It is a perfect example of a star commandeering a story and making it understandable and more true, since, from all we are told, the actual New Zealander, Burt Munro, had this shine too, and in this film he shines through, not because of his mechanical magic but because of this very shine. It is one of Hopkins’ master-creations. He gives him joie de vivre, a happy heart. Everyone somehow is beguiled by this broken-down, keys-missing, upright player-piano. They drop the prison they are in to free him from his, because he is already free.




27 Feb

Amistad — Directed by Steven Spielberg — High Tragedy. Men on a slave ship revolt, are captured, and brought to trial in 1838. 2 hours 15 minutes Color 1997.

* * * * *

High tragedy, yes, that rare thing in movies, as a great and noble king in exile is brought to the point of death by his captors and rescued by a deus ex macchina in the form of another great and noble king. I have not seen all of Spielberg’s films, but this is the finest I have seen. It is perfectly cast, produced, written, and performed. It is narrated by the director unexceptionably save for the coda of the destruction of the slave fortress in Sierra Leone, which should interlace the main tale itself as a counter-chorus, and not come wagging its tail at us in the end, but then, all Spielberg’s finales are false. The music by John Williams is not as vulgar as that which wrecks The Color Purple, but its Orff-like choruses and excessive swells almost overset the craft a number of times. The great Pete Postlethwaite as the opposing lawyer is concise, real, and fair. As the President, Nigel Hawthorne gives us a man helpless before his own real ignorance. Morgan Freeman stands in reserve as a force of Negro abolition almost out of touch with his original slave past. Matthew McConaughey brings a, perhaps, natural crassness to the part of the young lawyer who takes on the case and he is very convincing as a man whose limited vision and slightly cockeyed rashness moves the case forward. Anthony Hopkins, in his best screen performance, dodders and pots as John Quincy Adams, the old former President, who finally raises the Supreme Court to liberate the Negros and return them to Africa. But the film depends entirely for its power, its movement, and its authenticity on Djimon Hounsou, the leader of the Negros, their particular king. A man of great stature and bearing, he performs with an emotional immediacy and truth and rashness of being that causes him to stand for everything — and not just to stand for  — but to be it in our hearts and souls as we watch — everything that the film means to say. Which is to present under attack the essence of freedom itself in a human being, as though that freedom had never been born or seen before. Anyone who has ever been oppressed, has ever oppressed, or wishes to oppress, wants to see this film, because this actor reveals to us that freedom is inherent in us, not bestowed, not legalized, not purchased, and that its abrogation and annulment by anyone or any agency or any thing is an agony titanic. If this makes the film a civics lesson, so be it, for it is a record of the Exemplary in our American ancestry and in the ancestry of the world, and we benefit and are enlarged by such examples. I am moved by Djimon Hounsou’s soul, and I recommend that you place yourself before it. This is a film which proves what film at its best can do. Give it to yourself somehow.


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