I was asked at a recent party of ‘Bloggers why I don’t write more about Africa and in an email this week by a South African correspondent if I would write something about apartheid. In both cases I pleaded the deadly combination of ignorance and emotion. I just couldn’t write well about a continent I know so little of and about things that upset me so much. The nearest I’m going to get for the moment is to recommend a true crime film set in apartheid South Africa.
A female friend of mine describes the actor Thomas Jane as one of the few men she has seen on screen who looks “really hot” even with blond hair. If you are male and browsing the racks at the local rental shop with your girlfriend then you should use his hotness to persuade her to see past the macho packaging of the unfortunately named Stander. She’ll be glad you did because the film is nothing like the naff low-budget gangster “actioner” the cover makes out. If, afterwards, she falls for Jane, you can cure her by playing the interview with him included in the extras, during which his real voice is revealed as a kind of high-pitched Tom Hanks. In the movie he delivers almost every line in a butch Afrikaans accent.
Stander is mostly politically correct, but doesn’t fall into the trap I expected it to of painting its setting in black and white (though all the main characters are white). It does, however, paint the screen with lots of interesting filtered tones. I’m probably about five generations behind cinematographic technology so I expect they do this by tinting every frame digitally later. In twenty years time when its currently cool look is dated they should be able to go back their hard-drives (or data crystals) and release a new version of it with truer colour.
Stander is stylish, bleakly funny, and moving. It’s not a great movie, but it’s a very good one. Amongst other achievements, it depicts the bloody outcome of a township protest in a way that is shockingly realistic and at the same time terribly beautiful to look at. And Thomas Jane can act too—not that I am qualified to judge either his hotness or his accent.
[Sadly for some viewers the experience of watching this film will be marred by one of the central character’s occasional physical resemblance to George Galloway, but you must catch it anyway, if only to appreciate how awfully, awfully clever my headline for this post is.]