Friday, May 18, 2012

986. TSOTSI (2005)


Running Time: 94 minutes
Directed By: Gavin Hood
Written By: Gavin Hood, from the novel Tsotsi by Athol Fugard
Main Cast: Presley Chweneyagae, Terry Pheto, Rapulana Seiphemo, Kenneth Nkosi, Mothusi Magano
Click here to view the trailer

IN THIS WORLD...REDEMPTION JUST COMES ONCE

Back again guys and girls, for another quick review of a short movie. This time around I take a "Tsotsi", a film that, like "City of God", uses non-professional actors and takes us into the ghetto. However, in "Tsotsi" we travel to South Africa, as opposed to Brazil.

Tsotsi (Chweneyagae) is a thug who often travels with three fellow thugs and together the quartet, with their leather jackets, guns and knives, roam the streets, looking for trouble. One evening Tsotsi picks out a wealthy looking man and along with his crew, they kill him on the subway and take his money. When they return to their meeting place, a bar, one of the crew, Boston (Magano), is sick with remorse. Tsotsi lays a beating on him and leaves the bar alone. In his angry state, Tsotsi steals a car and when the owner of the car tries desperately to stop him, he shoots her and speeds off. Moments later, Tsotsi realizes that he's not alone in the car when the cries of an infant can be heard from the backseat. Tsotsi, a thug since he was barely out of diapers, has no clue on how to raise a baby, but tries his best, keeping the baby in a paper shopping bag lined with blankets. It's at this point that Tsotsi starts to go a little soft, unable to bring himself to rob a cripple and forcing his way, by gunpoint, on a single mother (Pheto) who lives near him, so that she can breastfeed the infant. As the film goes on, Tsotsi learns lessons, grows as a human being and recalls his own lost childhood, living with a terminally ill mother and an abusive father.


SPOILER ALERT!

I'm stuck in a rut guys! Including this one, the past three films have neither blown me away nor made me want to rip my eyes out. They've just been three films that were neither very good nor very bad. Here we have another one in "Tsotsi". This film is like an edgier version of a Lifetime movie or maybe an after school special - you know, something your parents show you when you're a teenager so that you won't travel with the wrong crowd. The film was good enough, I guess, but the plot is such a cookie cutter one that it's almost ridiculous to think that this was the best foreign film of 2004 (as named by the Academy Awards).

"A young thug inadvertently kidnaps a baby and is forced to take care of it. Over the course of a week, the gangster grows as a human being, while being forced to care for the child."

Give me a break!! That's "Three Men and a Baby" minus two men & Selleck's 'stache and plus the growing as a human being part. But hell, I think even Ted Danson grew as a human being a little over the course of "Three Men and a Baby". Hey, don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking "Three Men and a Baby" - it's not a bad little movie. But under no circumstances would I award it the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar or go to the lengths to label it a MUST SEE, even if it had been made in South Africa.


I mean, don't get me wrong folks, I'm not really comparing this film to "Three Men and a Baby" (well, I am, but not every facet of it), I just think that the plot was entirely too cute and sentimental for my tastes. The cinematography was, at times, beautiful, but even then it didn't help to create an atmosphere or to move the story or anything - it was just good camera shots that were just there. The non-professional actors did a fine job too, especially Presley Chweneyagae and Terry Pheto (who is absolutely gorgeous!). The score served a purpose and was actually worked to lull me into the sympathetic side of the story, at certain points. There were key scenes with Tsotsi gazing at Miriam, as she breastfed the baby, that seemed to point to something more poignant, but we never really got there. They were, perhaps, illustrating how he yearned to be taken care of and how he wished he'd had a mother for his entire childhood, to care for him, bathe him, breastfeed him and simply pay attention to him. It was a sweet moment in the film, but it really never went anywhere and it was never examined.


Then you have the end, which was a little maddening. I'm getting really sick of people not finishing their films. What do they do? Do they actually sit there and write: "Tsotsi is ordered to raise his hands above his head....he obliges....THE END"? Really? End your film, man! Sometimes it's okay to leave things up to the audience, but I stress the word SOMETIMES! Not everyone can get away with just saying, "Well, I'll leave it open ended and we'll let each and every member of the audience create his/her own, special ending." Does Tsotsi get gunned down by the cops? Does he make a getaway and eventually work his way back to Miriam, where he starts a family of his own, with a new baby to learn how to care for? I mean, feasibly they could've done both and both would've made sense. I think you could've really cashed in on the tears if you'd have had Tsotsi get gunned down by the police, as he fell to the ground seeing flashbacks of his own mother, his three gangster buddies, the baby and Miriam, as he lie dying in the street, with the parents of the kidnapped baby looking on in horror. And, yes, I realize there are "DVD Extras" that actually do have a scene like this, but if they filmed it, then they should've used it and no, I'm not going hunting for scenes that should've been included in the first place.

RATING: 6/10  Yes, I ripped this film to shreds, but I was feeling a little angry tonight for some reason. I think there was just so much potential here, with the score and the hard working actors, that I was sad to see it go south. It's actually not as bad as all that and I think a lot of people are going to fall under this one's spell.

MOVIES WATCHED: 456
MOVIES LEFT TO WATCH:
545

May 18, 2012  12:20am

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