Tag Archive: morgan freeman


Invictus

 

Invictus tells the story of the 1995 South African rugby team.  Hyped up by the newly elected president of South Africa Nelson Mandela, the rugby team goes on a great run in the 1995 World Cup.  (I won’t ruin it for you if they won or loss; rugby is not my forte so the outcome didn’t automatically register with me).  I have no idea how Clint Eastwood is still directing quality films at his age, but he is.  The first half of the film is about Mandela using the rugby team as a metaphor for bringing the two races of his country together; in the last act a sports film breaks out.  If you know Eastwood’s directing style (slow burn, working the plot to its breaking point) you probably know what you’re getting into here.  His style is what it is, so if you don’t care for his other movies too much, this isn’t the one that’s going to ‘win you over.’  A few other quick points from me:

I’ve raved before about my respect for Matt Damon as an actor.  And the cat is still so young!  Hollywood is a different animal than sports obviously, but when Damon’s career is done, it will be interesting to see where his name is mentioned with the all time greats (keep in mind, he’s already won an Oscar, headlined an action franchise, established his comedy chops and I believe he won People’s Sexiest Man Alive a couple years back (don’t quote me on that last one)).  And like I said, he’s still a pretty young guy.

Morgan Freeman was Mandela’s hand picked choice to play him in a movie.  No surprise he pulled it off: the gait, the accent, the dignity and the quiet charisma.  Others have said this before me, but I don’t feel like this was Morgan’s best work.  He did great, but Mandela (the character in this movie) didn’t have much of an arc.  We get all the references to what he was before, but all that happened before the film’s story started.

I doubt I was the only one (and if I was, leave me alone), but I’ve known the poem Invictus for a long time; I learned it as a teenager.  I know it wasn’t intentional, but for someone like myself who memorized the poem in a different way; hearing Morgan’s slow, Hollywood, melodramatic recitation left me chuckling a little bit.  I could never get away with saying it that slow in my day….(but it really is a tremendous poem for those of you unfamiliar with it).

All things considered, I wouldn’t be surprised if this film is one of the TEN Best Picture nominees (yeah, it’s time to start thinking about that) off of name recognition alone.

 

glory-dvdcover

Glory is based on the true story of the 54th Massachussetts Infantry, one of the Army’s first all black units.  Led by Robert Shaw, the unit played an important role in the battle for Fort Wagner (Civil War).

On to the tale of the tape…

Relevance:  The real life military unit this film is based on would be more than enough to earn a high ranking in this category right?  So how about the trilogy of black actors that headline the 54th: Denzel, Morgan Freeman, and Andre Braugher (in his film debut)?  Good Lord…

Legacy:  Seems strange to point out 20 years down the line, but this film was a nice career milestone in cementing both Denzel and Morgan as A-list, household names.  Seriously, as hard as it is to elevate one black actor to the top of the food chain, how many films in history can legitimately argue they elevated two?

Craft:  Morgan Freeman and Denzel Washington throwing down in the same film?!?  Come on!  Seriously, I was way too young to know if the term ‘Oscar bait’ was being used back then, but with its subject matter and star power, Glory remains a very watchable Civil War film.

Crossover:  Denzel’s first Oscar.  The film also won Academy Awards for Cinematography and Sound Editing.

Apollo:  Trip’s lashing (Denzel’s Oscar scene) is the natural choice; personally I was always moved the most by the campfire scene the night before the battle.  That Denzel speech (“Y’alls the onliest family I got.  I love the 54th.”) really hits a nerve with me.

The film countdown continues later with the emergence of a new voice…