Saturday, March 11, 2006

Agony and Ecstasy: Tsotsi and The Libertine

Only a couple of films this week, but they were surprisingly about the same thing. Sort of.

"Tsotsi" (which won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language flick) translates into 'thug,' and the young actor, Presley Chweneyagae, plays him brilliantly. The film is also gloriously photographed! Based, or more accurately, inspired by Athol Fugard's only novel, it exposes the plight of AIDS orphans in Johannesburg, focusing on 'Tsotsi' as he finds a sort of redemption after having unwittingly kidnapped a baby. There is quite a bit of "City of God" in this, however not as violently edited. But it is about as brutal. The audience I saw it with was quite vocal in their reactions. (grrrr...) However, it does speak to how involving the film is.
Chweneyagae at the Oscars, with co-star Thembi Nyandeni

Then, later in the week, I saw "The Libertine" featuring Johnny Depp as the poet John Wilmot. Who knew that he was right up there with the Marquis de Sade in the debauchery department? The language in the script is INTENSELY dense! It took me about 20 minutes to get used to it. Depp does a fabulous job in conveying it. It's nearly a Shakespearean performance! John Malkovich as Charles II is his usual quirky self. I love him. Samantha Morton gives perhaps the most nuanced performance in the cast as Elizabeth Barry, the actress that will eventually humanize Wilmot. Kelly Reilly ("Mrs. Henderson Presents..." "Pride and Prejudice") pops up in THIS too, as Wilmot's favorite prostitute. The production design and cinematography are gritty, muddy and so realistic, I forgot that they were sets. The imagery becomes dreamlike. In fact, it was nearly Ken Russell-esque, particularly during the orgy in St. James Park. And I am a HUGE Michael Nyman fan, whose score just sweeps me away. My only hesitation I had was for the makeup for Wilmot's death due to syphilis. It looked sort of like Linda Blair's "Exorcist" make up. It was just really over-the-top icky. Other than that, I loved this and want to see it again, so that I can listen to the words some more...

1 comment:

jake said...

I slept through the Libertine.