"In My Country"
Directed by John Boorman ("Deliverance").
Written by Ann Peacock. Based on a book by Antjie Krog.
Starring Samuel L. Jackson and Juliette Binoche.
Release Year: 2005
Review Date: 3/29/05
Yeah, listen, about that whole apartheid
The new Samuel L. Jackson film "In My
Country" actually debuted last year but is making a run of the U.S.
film circuit this year. It deals with a South Africa in the
mid-90s that is going through war trials following the release of
Nelson Mandela and the growing realization that a lot of white guys
are going to be in trouble for killing a ton of black guys in
government-sponsored genocide activities over the years. When
a reporter from The Washington Post, Langston Whitfield (Jackson),
shows up looking to write about the atrocities for the paper, he
links up with a radio journalist named Anna (Juliette Binoche) and
he gets more than he bargained for, ranging from interviews with a
violent former South African colonel (Brendan Gleeson) to a
ill-advised romance with Anna to the realization that not all
Afrikaans are as bad as we think they are. And, some dead
bodies show up for good measure.
Based on a book by Antjie Krog, "In My
Country" seems to stray too often from the initial focus of the
film, on the war crimes that need to be addressed as South Africa
attempts to begin the long process of healing as many wounds as it
can. This diversion can be blamed mostly on the second half of
the film, when some wiseass decided that we were more interested in
following the developing relationship between Anna and Langston than
the freakin' apartheid that was sold to me initially. The
chemistry between Jackson and Binoche is mostly non-existent, but
this is made up by their handling of the obscene violence that has
taken place around them; one has a difficult time trying to imagine
what life must have been like in, say, the mid-80s, when killing
blacks for the sake of it still seemed to be fairly rampant, but the
film does have a number of eye-opening exchanges between those
Africans abused by the system and those in the white community that
held absolute power in their time.
It's also a beautiful-looking film; so many
glorious shots play out in "In My Country" and the cinematography of
the scenery shots is captivating, it really is. Director John
Boorman, who gave us "Hope and Glory" and "Deliverance", gives us
the frame for a great movie, it's just too bad that he chose to
follow a storyline that goes so far from what the audience is made
to care about that "In My Country" loses nearly-complete focus of
its goals. I saw this for free and I still was a little peeved
at how this turned out. Maybe next time, John...
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard