Saturday, January 21, 2006

Speaking of Africa...

Speaking of Africa, last night we watched "The Constant Gardener" which was mostly filmed in Kenya. On the one hand the film was a long, ponderous adaptation of a no doubt long and ponderous John Le Carre novel. I worried that it would test Lisa's patience, but it didn't. She had been laughing out loud at Robin Williams, who was the guest on "Inside the Actor's Studio" and had slipped into his comedy routine at the moment I slipped the DVD into the player. Suddenly we were watching this humorless, semi-foriegn film and I felt bad like I was James Lipton sucking the life out of the room.

All of that aside, it was an extraordinary film. The footage of east Africa alone made it worthwhile. There were great shots of Lake Turkana and the desert outpost of Loyangalani, as well as Nairobi's Kibera district. There was also some good acting from Ralph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz, and a nice assortment of African and expatriot British characters that one might expect to encounter in Kenya.

The film also delved into the evil shenanigans of the multinational pharmaceutical industry, the limited success of humainitarian aid efforts in the region, and the generally tragic condition of Africa. I was left with the same helpless and stupid feeling I got from watching "Hotel Rwanda".

All in all an amazing film, directed by the Brazilian who made "City of God", and supplemented with talent of every kind. I will go so far to say that as impressive as this film is to watch, it was probably more fulfilling to be involved in the production of it, to have spent time in Kenya interacting with the culture there while at the same time having accomplished some meaningful and semi-lucrative work.


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