Thursday, December 20, 2007

GOODBYE BAFANA - earnest but superficial and dull

Every famous nigga that gets arrested is not Nelson Mandela! Yes, the government conspires to put a lot of innocent black men in jail on fallacious charges. But R. Kelly is *not* one of those men!Much like the insanely over-hyped biopic THE QUEEN, GOODBYE BAFANA attempts to give us intimacy with an icon. Also like THE QUEEN, we are left with a rather plodding, predictable film that would be better suited to day-time TV.

Director Billie August and writer Greg Latter fashion an earnest, plodding friendship story out of James Gregory's autobiography. Gregory was Nelson Mandela's prison guard and was charged with censoring his letters. As the film progresses and the years roll by, Gregory is awakened to the plight of black South Africans, and comes to respect Mandela. Fiennes, Haysbert and Kruger give decent performances as the prison guard, the future president and the prison guard's wife. But the script lacks any innovation. For a start, they might have tried to take a more holistic view of the relationship between the two men - after all, Gregory's memoirs are not uncontroversial.

GOODBYE BAFANA played Berlin 2007 and was released in Spain, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK, Kuwait, Turkey, Hungary, Norway, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Portugal, Israel, Lebanon, Argentina, Poland and the US earlier this year. It is also available on Region 2 DVD.

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