Clint Eastwood has done it again.  The man seems to be an unstoppable cinematic force and he has made another good effort, keeping alive the strongest period of his filmmaking career (now spanning what has got to be close to 60 years!)  While it is not his strongest effort (this is hardly a knock, after coming off the likes of “Gran Torino,”  “Million Dollar Baby,”  “Mystic River,”  etc) it is simply great entertainment, well told.  It continues Clint’s ongoing collaboration with Morgan Freeman—and might almost have been made as a favor to him, as Freeman has been linked to several failed projects concerning Nelson Mandela.

Which, of course is what “Invictus” is about.  Except, it is much more specific than that.  It is about a specific period in the man’s—in South Africa’s–history.  It drops you in, and while it does make a slight effort to educate those who may not be so familiar with Mandela’s history—my girlfriend was right in pointing out it does expect you to bring a certain level of knowledge and familiarity of the man and South Africa’s back story.  In this way, it is like “Che,”  except I believe it knows more about the story it is telling.  I believe that this method is also more effective in this condensed story, where all the fact’s about what the film concerns are there.  Conversely, “Che” attempts to compare two sprawling campaigns Che ran (with drastically different results).  In this way, Soderbergh covered a much longer period of time, but left us with little additional knowledge of the man.

The specific story “Invictus” tells is about the 1995 Rugby World Cup, held that year in South Africa, shortly after the end of Apartheid and the election of Nelson Mandela as President.  Eastwood is one of the most confident filmmakers you are likely to find.  He tells the story efficiently and doesn’t take a mis-step…except one.  I could hardly believe my ears when a sophomoric choice was made, and a typical “event movie” song played over a scene of Mandela traveling via chopper.  However, when the end credits revealed that a Dina Eastwood was associated with the song…well, I guess I can sort of forgive that.  Even with all the concerns of running a movie, Clint may still have seen that this was important for the people of Carmel, CA.

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