Monday, June 9, 2008

African Falls

Author(s): Chris K.
Location: AZ

"African Falls"

Directed by Alfonso Cuaron
Written by Raoul Peck
Cinematography by Emmanuel Lubezki
Sound Mixing by Peter Hliddal and Tom Fleischman
Art Direction by Jeannine Oppewall
Set direction by Jennifer Williams
Edited by Alex Rodriguez
Produced by Miramax

Main Cast

Courtney Rozan: Emma Watson
Samuel Doe: Adrian Lester
Prince Yormie Johnson: Djimon Hounsou
Said Mohamed Barre: Chiwetel Ejiofor
Laurent Kabila: James Earl Jones
Sekou Torre: Laurence Fishburne
Haile Mariam Mengistu: Samuel L. Jackson

Tagline: "Mr. Right’s coming and he’s in Africa , but he’s walking"

Synopsis: Courtney Rozan (Watson) a college student giving a speech on African Dictators and after each one is named then that character is delved into. After the segment she explains the men’s reign with their countries. Also she explains there situation, why they could have done certain things, and how things changed after their rule. She’s an idealist hoping to convince an audience what she is stating has relevant importance to the world today.

Samuel Doe(Lester) and Prince Yormie Johnson’s(Hounsou) infamous meeting on September 9, 1980. Due to an uprising in which a military coup upon Samuel Doe, while at ECOMAG headquarters in Monolivie he is kidnapped by Prince Johnson. Upon which he is taken into a housed up facility where the whereabouts are unknown to anyone except the men in the room. After lengthy beatings, Samuel Doe is then shot in the head by Johnson who immediately leaves the room. He then is tried for Doe’s murder, but no evidence can be produced so he is let free. Almost a month after the trial a video is put onto the internet documenting the entire event. As of late he has become part of the Senate in Liberia .

Said Mohamed Barre (Ejiofor) has just ordered the force removal of all Soviet born citizens to leave the country of Somalia . The Soviets took all aid, military, and economic support away and left the country out to dry. Due to their alliance the Americans would not help and disease was spreading. His irrational decision was to poising half the countries water supplies because of the fatal HIV spread. Although it achieved success he was branded as an insane madman and eventually overthrown by another who would follow the same path. After attempting two rebellions to regain power he goes into isolation which is the state he remained until his death.

Laurent Kabila (Jones) it is January 16, 2001 and it is Kabila’s last day on earth. When he reaches his office a minister is waiting for him. Kabila was informed that the man was an informer and supporter for another faction. After Kabila murders him, he travels to the other side of the building. After this he attempts to convince Nigerian officials to give aid to his starving people, due to shortage of food storage due to the population rate increasing every year. After nothing could be done to persuade them, Kabila leaves and as he is walking away his personal bodyguard shoots him down while getting shot at himself. An insurrection was going on and Kabila struck it down with military force while they were in a town that was neutral with the conflict.

Sekou Torre (Fishburne) was considered a hero once for his resistance towards French colonial rule. His goal was to give the people poverty with freedom instead of riches with slavery. Instead he enforced Gulag-style death camps. When not torturing his people, he loved to write poetry. He brings his vice-president and throws him into one of these camps with the other victims. Upon doing so he suffers a major heart attack and is flown to the United States . During surgery he dies and after arrival of the news the people of Guinea where he once ruled rejoice.

Haile Mariam Mengistu ( Jackson ) “the red terror” was a Russian aide during his reign at the helm of Ethiopia . He was a strong supporter of Leninism when he made political decisions. Mengistu assisted in the execution of 1.5 million of his own people in the years between 1975 and 1979. Although he did this he increased enrollment by a million students. Due to famine and an Economic collapse he needed aid and was very convincing. When he received it he used propaganda to state the good it was doing, in reality he used it for himself. When a military coup forced him to flee into Zimbabwe they tried and convicted him of genocide without his presence. Attempting to force him to return, he currently lives lavishly, but constantly wary as assassination attempts upon him are a recurrent trend.

What the Press would say:

“African Falls ” is an anthology about African dictators that has never been witnessed before. “The Last King of Scotland” showed this but on a limited level and Hotel Rwanda showed the righteous side of a massacre. These movies were inspirational no doubt about that, but people needed to be informed of what kind of men lead them in everyday world. Documentaries although effective never get people to care enough about the killings in Darfur or constant massacres committed. This film allows us to see this and it isn’t just violence. It depicts the real world that is totally unique to the world. Not a single film like this has been witnessed before with the type of brutal honesty portrayed within the film.

Alfonso Cuaron has given directorial performances that are spectacularly wonderful. This one stands out above them all because of two reasons. One he leaves his comfort zone considerably by going into a very violent film and comes out giving us a beautiful spectacle that is his style that we’ve seen before and something completely different. The second reason is that you can see his personality on the screen such as the surrounding area’s which are truly beautiful and real while these horrible events are taking place. His signature color green is signified throughout the film and adds a beauty that would have been missed with any other director.

Written beautifully by Raoul Peck (Sometimes in April) showed the beauty of Africa once again, but provides us a violent, yet real world. Some people wanted a big time writer to make this, but someone from this land who could thoughtfully depict the corruption, desperation, and beauty Africa has to offer to the moviegoer. This script stands out for being completely original even if people’s lives are taken into account. A bio-epic of amazingly astounding proportions was written by a true genius.

Before the men are talked about, the breakthrough performance is by Emma Watson who makes a speech about these men and shows up in between each story to give us a breather from this intense story. Watson has been typecast as “Hermione Granger” but this performance is truly spectacular in its simplicity and thoughtfulness. She provides a breather for the audience and in the final shot when all the men are lined up alongside her you can clearly see they are all merely figments of the past and she is the hope people are looking for in everyday life.

Djimon Hounsou’s performance can be described in one word, intense. The only significant character without being a Dictator from the beginning is possibly the scariest of all. His torture scene is performed brilliantly and he shows us how insane this man really was. Recreating a scene that is already on video which has rarely been seen was tough but he created his own character and gave another Oscar-worthy performance that the academy is sure not to miss.

Chiwetel Ejiofor has given excellent performances but has never received anything for them. This could be that stand out performance that he needed to garner attention. His performance of true desperation within a character who justifies killing half his countrymen to save them was shown perfectly. This performance is stand out because of its true depiction of a man who loses everything and attempts to regain it.

Laurence Fishburne is an actor who everyone likes, but can never seem to get any recognition for his work. He might not here because of the extensive cast list, yet this by far his greatest performance and on par with everyone else in this gilm. Although he plays the wise black man in most movies (Higher Learning, Akeelah and the Bee) his roots are uplifted and he does it very well. He portrays a difficult character one that torture’s his fellow countrymen and attempts to write beautiful poetry. All during his blood-soaked reign is seemingly portrayed without a sweat by Fishburne.

Samuel L. Jackson is a well respected actor who has performed in many films that received critical acclaim such as “Pulp Fiction” and “Jungle Fever”. This is by far greater than any of those because of his devotion that is seen on screen when he shows up. Some have said they think he is a method actor with the layered performance he gives in just his segment alone. Not once is his character dropped and like all these performances it is unique in a revolutionary sort of way.

Adrian Lester has been in a lot of films but is always forgotten. This is not one of those situations because he plays a dictator you feel really sorry for. He plays it out with style and gives respect to this person who was brutally murdered. His convincing death has left critics speechless even though as the female lead states the man was a harsh dictator in his rule as president.

James Earl Jones has not starred in a serious role that he has been praised for in a while. Considered a sort of wash up he comes back to give a spectacular performance and a memorable one. He puts on the fa├žade of Kabila and seemingly never removes it once. People would probably drop character or over-exemplify especially with the scenes he had, but not once was his character’s respect for himself and disgust with anyone else not exemplified to the up most degree.

Like a story book, where each page could a different story it’s all seemingly guided by a competitive speech piece which is a completely original idea for this type of story. Every bit of frame, performance, word, set, extra, direction, and performance all went to perfection and will not be ignored come Academy’s time to decide who wins awards. “ African Falls ” is a true modern masterpiece within the world of cinema.


Best Picture
Best Director- Alfonso Cuaron
Best Original Screenplay- Raoul Peck
Best Actress- Emma Watson
Best Supporting Actor- Djimon Hounsou
Best Supporting Actor- Adrian Lester
Best Supporting Actor- Samuel L. Jackson
Best Supporting Actor- James Earl Jones
Best Supporting Actor- Laurence Fishburne
Best Supporting Actor- Chiwetel Ejiofor
And in all categories

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