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Daring Mandela, after having mastered God

After you've played God — twice, as Freeman has done in Tom Shadyac's "Bruce Almighty" and "Evan Almighty" — and been God, there's not really much left to do, except play Nelson Mandela. [. . .] The movie's first third is stiff and dull.

And through that section, so is Freeman. [. . .] And eventually, Freeman reaches that something deeper, not by clamping down on the performance, but by loosening his grip on it. [. . .] Suddenly, instead of just seeing Nelson Mandela as a great man, we get an idea of how a guy could survive 27 years of unjust imprisonment and, instead of becoming embittered and broken, emerge with a better sense of what makes human beings tick. He has a sense of humor as well as sense of responsibility. [. . .] It's hard to pinpoint the exact moment in "Invictus" when Freeman lets go of playing qualities — dignity, affability, fortitude — and starts playing a person. (Stephanie Zacharek, “Morgan Freeman: Making Mandela sexy,” Salon, 10 Feb. 2010)

King of the World?

In your earlier review of the film, you called Freeman "aggressively noble." Since you are essentially likening him, in his daring Mandela after having mastered God, to Cameron, who also leap-frogged the world for the universe, I think you should have said the same here. Rather, here, you insinuate but take care not to heavily implicate. Be consistent: go for the kill: at heart, he's an ascending, immodest jackass, one who's managed an admirable turn by making an icon into a warmblooded human being.

In the film, Freeman was stiff at first, but loosened up "as we got to know him": sounds like the perfect gentleman. That is, it may well have been a terrific performance, but he certainly offered us what we wanted out of him -- just like Sandra Bullock did, when she essentially helped allow every tyrannical middle-American woman to understand their character faults as signs of saintliness, if they could just make sure to align them with some currently fashionable larger movement. For laudship, it is not usually enough just to offer a great performance if who we get to know in the film is likely very off from the person in real life. We may have liked Jack and Rose from Cameron's Titanic (I did), but may still regret that the film could isolate us from understanding history as means -- as a chance -- to get to know people as they really were (the gentry, for instance). So it seems Freeman provides us with the Mandela we all want to believe is true. Pure love. In truth, I would be okay with this, if we were all also well aware that the real Mandela is likely well different, that prison (for instance) may have served him as it likely did John McCain (as the SNL skit portrayed this) -- that we're just using the film version of him to project for our consideration and good company, the ideal leader. But this isn't what we're up to. Instead, this is the Mandela who MUST be, regardless: we need him to be the unassailable mountain of purity that can be counted on to keep straight and true, even while the whole universe sags around him. With him, you dig about a bit, and you just must find something even better.

I went after the person who went after Salinger because she wasn't largely opening us up to a larger discussion, opening us to be more aware, but dumping him into the pit of deposed men. If her purposes were different, I would have just agreed with her: it's just sickening when we see evidence of people being estimated largely out of our own needs of the time; as liberals, of the more conscious, we've got the make-up to demand more of ourselves. Good things happened with Mandela, and I wish the best for him, but is he really more than what our projections have set in place -- once past what we want of him, will we truly discover something better? I'm not sure, myself. By which I mean, I doubt it. But it would be still good for all of us to see him the more plainly.

- - - - -

Mandela is Sexy & Charming

I met Mr. Mandela for a fleeting 2 minutes on the streets of NYC, and I attest to his charm, sexiness and attentiveness.

If Morgan Freeman played him sexy, he did good.

—Parsifals


Would it be impolite of me to suggest you may be something of an easy lay, Miss Parsifals?

Link: Morgan Freeman: Making Mandela sexy (Salon)

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