'Last King of Scotland' and 'Notes on a Scandal' reviewed.
Notes on a Scandal (R)
The subtle – yet precise – performances of Oscar nominees Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench are reason enough to watch this DVD. The plot: For reasons she can't explain, Blanchett's beautiful, but alienated schoolteacher falls into an affair with a 15-year-old student. In a wonderfully creepy turn, Dench's battle-axe of a history teacher succumbs to Blanchett's charms at the same time. The DVD featurettes are often mundane, but the author interview with Zoe Heller, who wrote the original novel, is good stuff, as are the insights from the cast and director about who these women are and why we should care about what makes them tick. Grade: A
The Last King of Scotland (R)
Forest Whitaker won an Oscar for this lurid portrayal of Ugandan leader Idi Amin, who came to power in 1971 in a rush of national goodwill and went into exile in 1979 amid tales of cannibalism and brutal political murders. Some 300,000 Ugandans died during his reign. "Last King" follows a fictional Scottish doctor admitted into Amin's inner circle; through his eyes, we watch the dictator's growing madness. But the documentary about filming in Uganda is just as compelling. Producers interview survivors, and their first-hand accounts form a cautionary tale about the dangers of absolute power. Grade: A