Monday, January 22, 2007

View From The Treetops (23 Jan '07)

Howzit My China

Blood Diamond is not a Wilbur Smith adventure; not an Out of Africa story of colonial safari romance; nor is it a shallow attempt at charitable credibility as seen in the pathetically woeful The Constant Gardener ( perhaps better known as The Constipated Gardener).
Blood Diamond deals with the issues square on, does it’s best not to patronise, and although the ending is a rather idealistic romantisicm, it pulls no punches when laying the blame for Africa’s woes at the feet of those who in their greed for her natural resources have been raping and plundering for centuries.

First off, as an English speaking white South African, I’d like to say that Leonardo Di Caprio’s portrayal of an English speaking white South African is impeccable.
Until Blood Diamond I have not seen anyone do more that a passable celluloid impression of the master race.
Di Caprio hangs just the right combination of arrogance and macho bluster on the character of Danny Archer (pronounced correctly in the South African accent as Awe-cha) and slings all the right slang about to allow us to forget that he’s actually putting it on.
His dialogue is scattered with ja’s; howzit’s; my broer’s and I all but choked on my supersized box of popcorn when he called someone a doos.
In another scene, Archer opens up to journalist Maddy Bowen (Jennifer Connelly) about South Africa’s war on Angola:
“We thought we were fighting Communism but we were only fighting over who got what”
But the master stroke - and this is credit to the screenwriter as well as the research that has obviously gone into the character – is when Danny loses it completely with Solomon Vandy (played with great restraint by Djimon Hounsou) and all of the anger and hatred that sits at his core comes boiling out. Like the southern white man who, in a moment of powerless anger, dredges up the word nigger, Archer spews up the one word that sums up the Apartheid years: kaffir (even writing it down on this page fills me with guilt).
The moment comes like a blow to the gut, gloves are off and we’re down to the nitty gritty – racism – micro and macro – Apartheid and global attitudes to Africa – it’s all there in the brawl as Danny and Solomon attempt to beat the shit out of one another, ending with Danny pointing the gun...
…which brings us to the dirty game of arms and arms dealing.

The extraction of natural resources is not the only global crime being committed in Africa by the ex-colonisers; AK-47's are not the only weapon being used to butcher innocent people; gun runners in Europe and America, many of them either in government or very close to government, are responsible for a continental genocide that is being blamed on the African psyche rather than on those who exploit for money.
The guns are however, secondary to the greater piracies of rape and plunder
An old man sitting amongst the corpses in a village recently destroyed by bandits says to Solomon Vandy
“I hope they don’t find oil around here, ‘cause then we’re in BIG trouble”

Although the character of Archer is deeply flawed and mostly unadmirable, Di Caprio’s performance filled me with a warped sense of pride – it reminded me of why I left South Africa – not because I hated Africa, but because I hated what the colour of my skin represented in Africa.


Gore Vidal Interview

"There is no lie that our government will not tell and has not told"

Gore Vidal talks to Rosa Miriam Elizalde in Havana about history; conspiracy and the American Empire.


Television Propaganda

Jack takes time out from saving the free world to rescue an innocent child

I have commented on a number of occasions that the TV show '24' is nothing short of propaganda designed to instill the view that US behaviour in the Middle East is not only justifiable, but also wholly honourable.
One show went so far as to show Muslim parents indoctrinating their own son to become an assassin (of course the son, having been raised in the US, could not go through with it and turned against his evil parents, as any good person would.)
But most obviously the show repeatedly portrays the use of torture as acceptable - just as long as we know that the bad guy really did kidnap the president and that if we don't get the answers from the prisoner pronto then innocent people will die.

Of course when innocent people die as a result of any action by the good guys, it is known as 'Collateral Damage'.
My comments on this subject to work colleagues are generally met with blank 'what the fuck is he on about now' looks
Well at last, somebody agrees with me:
On GNN the author of a new book on the CIA's rendition program explains why Jack Bauer is a real man.


Nick Cave - As I Sat Sadly By Her Side


mullet said...

24 is a hoor

red-dirt-girl said...

Pisces - off topic: I'd like to post Etch on Glass this Friday on my red dirt girl blog.......may I?


red-dirt-girl said...

oh and your post: Yes, Blood Diamond's on my list and now has moved to the top thanks to your review.......but I must differ on your interpretation of The Constant Gardener....I saw it more as a story between two people; relationships and twisted perceptions; love transcending for a brief moment; how we all struggle to find the right words....the politics were an after-thought, really - a backdrop to the internal drama.

I have nothing to say about 24 as I've never watched it nor care too...most of American TV is propaganda.......but you've just gotta love our huge ego.......LOL!

Pisces Iscariot said...

You may certainly post Etching on Glass rdg.
I don't agree about american TV - you guys have some excellent drama.
The Constipated Gardener annoyed me for precisely the reason you state: the politics was an afterthought and therefore poisoned the rest of it.
But maybe that's just me :}

Anonymous said...

Pisces - thanks for the green light.....and as always, a pleasure in disagreeing with one who is thoughtful and polite.....

Chris said...

Your review of Blood Diamond was spot on. I went in to that movie with the lowest of expectations (thanks to the interminable dreck that was Titanic) but was stunned by DiCaprio's believability. I also struggled with the "k....." moment in the movie, and felt an actual turning of my stomach while watching it, but I think you're right - it was a necessary evil. One of the best movies of the year in my opinion.

If anything I'll fondly look back on it for providing the moment when I donkey-brayed unexpectedly at the "doos" line. Cue the sight of 1000 Canadians turning their heads and staring.

Nice writing. China.

Pisces Iscariot said...

Thanks Chris, and welcome to The Far Queue. Tried to follow the link back to you, but your profile is "not available"?
You might also enjoy reading my Rodriguez review.

Chandira said...

Blood Diamond was the best movie I've seen in a long time. And not only because I love Leo De Caprio. I mean, not only is he the world's 4th hottest man, (my husband, Joaquin Phoenix and J Depp, he's also a real walker of his talk, as far as envirmonmental issues are concerned. He's boughtup vast acres of Amazonian rainforest, to keep as nature intended, for a start, as well as being a major advocate for a greener fuel policy, buying all his friends hybrid cars, etc, but he's also modest about it all too. I am a big fan.
He also did a great acting job in the Rimbaud movie, though can't remember what it was called. I think he is a good actor.

(You have that sexy SA accent? Wow.)

And Nick Cave, to top off an awesome post.. Pisces, you rock.