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why does every film these days has a tag on it, like "special issue about this film, which have nothing to do with the film:… " In the case of "Departed" it was Scorsese’s lack of golden things on the mantlepiece, in the case of "Last King…" it is the strangely unanimous call for a best actor’s Oscar. Not that Whitaker does not deserve it: I think he is fabulous, and he was fabulous in every single film I have seen him in, and his best roles (Bird, namely, but also Smoke or Ghost Dog – I even liked him in the otherwise dull "Panic Room") were clearly award candidates. So now he’s got the Academy Award, and we have that out of the way. People will be able to talk about the actual films again next time around (and "next time" is already gone – have a look at the impressive number of films and tv ("ER"?!?) he did since "Last King": http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001845/).

Is the idea of fictionalising a dictator’s biography working? In principle, I would say yes, there are enough examples of it, and recent efforts like "Downfall / Der Untergang" about Hitler’s last days have shown serious research and truth to as many facts as you can find still allow for enough artistic liberty to produce a cinematic experience worth watching. (I was trying to sneak around the word "entertaining", but why should I? Of course, any film must have an entertainment value. This does not mean escapism or fun, it means structuring and producing it in a way that is adequate to the topic and professional in technique and story-telling. "Downfall" was entertaining, so was "Holocaust", so are Tarkowski films – "Life is beautiful", on the other hand, was not, because I found it ill-made and poorly played.)

I found the Idi Amin experiment less rewarding. Creating an artificial side-character for a real-life person creates some problems that the film did no perfectly manage to tackle. The Good Doctor is a bit too artificially ensaminated, his motives and actions fit too well into the film’s necessity to follow some relevant milestones in Idi Amin’s career. In short: the film is cheating, and cheating a film shall not! I would rather have less insight, or characters that I am less able to identify with (such as the Health Minister who clearly could have served as an interesting point-of-view).

Despite that, has it been mentioned that Forest Whitaker’s performance was… hm… very good? And everybody else’s, too? And there is fun involved, too, mainly seeing Agent Scully serve once again as a helpful aide to a greater purpose (took me a couple of munutes to recognice her, and a couple more to find out why: I never saw her without the standard X Files hairdo).

Guardian and Observer Reviews: http://film.guardian.co.uk/Film_Page/0,,1921817,00.html

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