WAITING FOR THE BARBARIANS--Updates, Reviews and Discussion

Discuss the latest Johnny Depp news, his career, past and future projects, and other related issues.
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Re: WAITING FOR THE BARBARIANS--Updates, Reviews and Discussion

Unread post by fireflydances » Wed Aug 05, 2020 10:49 am

Just read two reviews courtesy of Stephen Deuters. The Rolling Stone gives the film 3 stars, but the other reviewer gives Guerra and cast 4.5 stars. Coetzee waited so long to get this out to the general public, and that initial reviews are positive has to give him peace. Truly an important book and film. Can't grab the Rolling Stone link, but:


KEITH AND THE MOVIES

REVIEW: “Waiting for the Barbarians” (2020)
AUGUST 3, 2020 BY KEITH

Set within an unnamed territory, an unnamed Magistrate oversees a remote outpost for an unnamed empire. This shrewdly calculated ambiguity has a steady presence throughout “Waiting for the Barbarians”, the new film and English-language debut from Columbian director Ciro Guerra. It’s ambiguous for a reason – to sharpen the relevance for today by not assigning or restricting what we witness to a specific time or nation. Through a broad yet clear lens Guerra indicts both the practices of the past and the mindsets of the present.

“Waiting for the Barbarians” is an adaptation of J. M. Coetzee’s 1980 novel which explored the ugliness of imperialism and its lasting influence on modern thought. Coetzee also wrote the screenplay (his first) which patiently unwraps the story through its ruminative rhythm and well-tuned characters. And even as its dense early table-setting gives way to the quieter yet more visualized tragedy of the second half, the sense of pertinence is ever-present. And let’s be honest, it doesn’t hurt to have Mark Rylance, Johnny Depp, and Robert Pattinson fleshing our your characters.

Rylance plays the well-meaning magistrate and if there ever was an actor who exuded gentle, unfeigned integrity it’s Rylance. His Magistrate manages the frontier settlement with an air of peaceful passivity. He’s content with his life there, quietly collecting and cataloging old area artifacts while occasionally mediating minor squabbles among locals. He carries himself admirably and is convinced that his benevolence makes him a welcomed presence. However, good intentions and feelings of self-fulfillment blind him to a glaring hypocrisy which he’s eventually forced to reckon with.

Everything changes with the arrival of Colonel Joll (Depp), a member of the Empire’s security force who has been sent to inspect the outpost and investigate alleged unrest on the outskirts of the frontier. We see hints of Depp’s patented eccentricity in his rigidly upright posture, stony-faced demeanor, and steampunkish sunglasses (they’re all the rage back home). But it’s Depp’s words that reveal the most about his character. Joll speaks with an icy malice, coldly absorbing the Magistrate’s initial hospitality before getting down to the business of his visit.

Joll begins rounding up and questioning local nomads with the avidity of an authoritarian, torturing those deemed to be “barbarians” by his superiors. No scene captures Joll’s dry and calloused ruthlessness better than his chilling explanation of the “patience and pressure” approach to interrogation (hint: far more emphasis is on pressure). “Pain is truth. All else is subject to doubt.” And just like that Guerra and Coetzee put a spotlight on the real barbarians. Meanwhile all the Magistrate can do is helplessly watch.

Joll and his soldiers depart almost as quickly as they arrive leaving the Magistrate to handle the mess they left behind. But it’s not as though he has clean hands. The almost messianic overtones of the early scenes fade as the Magistrate’s complicity, though subtle and seemingly benign, are brought to light. And as much as he wants to disassociate himself from Joll’s terror, he slowly begins to see that (though cut from a different cloth) he and Joll do the biddings of same master.

As a form of self-instituted penance the Magistrate takes in an indigenous woman ravaged by Joll’s brutality (she’s opaquely played by Gana Bayarsaikhan). He nurses her back to health, but more as a balm for his own bruised conscience rather than for her well-being. It’s only when he’s jolted out of his guilt-stricken haze that he finally does the right thing. But in doing so he sparks the ire of the Empire and finds himself under the boot of the very authority he once represented.

Coetzee’s deliberately paced script gives the actors plenty of room to leave their marks. While Depp instantly grabs your attention with his convincingly sinister presence, it’s Rylance who carries the emotional workload. With a soft-spoken and heartfelt authenticity, his performance manages to secure our sympathy and pity. He’s gives us a man on a journey, who eventually finds his conviction, and willingly pays a price for it. Pattinson gets a small but effective role as young officer who’s clearly a product of the Empire. By the time he comes around, good and evil have been clearly defined.

“Isn’t that what war is about?” a young officer brashly asks the appalled Magistrate, “compelling a choice on someone who would not otherwise make it?” The ugliness of the question highlights the deep-rooted metaphor at the core of “Waiting for the Barbarians”. Underneath cinematographer Chris Menges’ stunning sun-blasted desert landscapes and some key performances lies a stinging rebuke of the past, a mirror to the present, and a warning of the future. It’ll be too broad and figurative for some, but I loved its willingness to trust the viewer. And the near apocalyptic final shot only adds to the title’s richness. “Waiting for the Barbarians” premieres this Friday in select theaters and on VOD.
VERDICT – 4.5 STARS

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Re: WAITING FOR THE BARBARIANS--Updates, Reviews and Discussion

Unread post by nebraska » Wed Aug 05, 2020 11:40 am

I have been watching You Tube trailers and also press conferences from the premieres. Getting excited now! :giddy:

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Re: WAITING FOR THE BARBARIANS--Updates, Reviews and Discussion

Unread post by AdeleAgain » Wed Aug 05, 2020 12:35 pm

I cannot wait to see it - and also talk about something other than the lawsuit. Super excited. Oh and can watch again and again. This is the future ladies - everything going onto streaming services. Did you see that Mulan is going straight onto the Disney service? It's a good thing though - it will save independent film making.

Colour me excited! Just have to work out how to use AppleTV through a project so I still get that big screen experience.

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Re: WAITING FOR THE BARBARIANS--Updates, Reviews and Discussion

Unread post by myfave » Wed Aug 05, 2020 12:45 pm

When does this film come out?
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Re: WAITING FOR THE BARBARIANS--Updates, Reviews and Discussion

Unread post by fireflydances » Wed Aug 05, 2020 2:44 pm

August 7th in the US. But different dates for different countries.

I can tolerate this opening online because of the pandemic, but I will never stop loving the experience of sitting in a theater, having the lights fade, the murmuring audience quiet and the curtains open. Theater is experiential. It has more in common with eating than reading. Its not just visual. It's the music that surrounds you, it is the height of the ceiling and the screen, the dark corners, the chill in the air, the tang of salt and butter on your tongue. Theater is social, even if you are by yourself, you are with a group who together are engaged in the same experience. I even love going alone. It's just such a gift.
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Re: WAITING FOR THE BARBARIANS--Updates, Reviews and Discussion

Unread post by fireflydances » Wed Aug 05, 2020 3:53 pm

I just wanted to add this here. It's a link to Samuel Goldwyn Films where you can rent Waiting for the Barbarians on August 7th (in the US) for $12.00. A fair price very similar to theaters. I know it's supposed to be available 'on demand' on the 7th, but so far this is a only place where I see the opportunity to actually rent it. Nothing yet from Amazon Prime, Netflix etc. Perhaps they will be later in the game.



If you know of other confirmed and accessible options can you also post them? It would be really outstanding if as many Deppheads as possible sat and watched the film this Friday.
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Re: WAITING FOR THE BARBARIANS--Updates, Reviews and Discussion

Unread post by gipsyblues » Wed Aug 05, 2020 4:14 pm

fireflydances wrote:
Wed Aug 05, 2020 2:44 pm
August 7th in the US. But different dates for different countries.

I can tolerate this opening online because of the pandemic, but I will never stop loving the experience of sitting in a theater, having the lights fade, the murmuring audience quiet and the curtains open. Theater is experiential. It has more in common with eating than reading. Its not just visual. It's the music that surrounds you, it is the height of the ceiling and the screen, the dark corners, the chill in the air, the tang of salt and butter on your tongue. Theater is social, even if you are by yourself, you are with a group who together are engaged in the same experience. I even love going alone. It's just such a gift.
:agreesign: fireflydances :hug:

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Re: WAITING FOR THE BARBARIANS--Updates, Reviews and Discussion

Unread post by myfave » Wed Aug 05, 2020 6:23 pm

fireflydances wrote:
Wed Aug 05, 2020 2:44 pm
August 7th in the US. But different dates for different countries.

I can tolerate this opening online because of the pandemic, but I will never stop loving the experience of sitting in a theater, having the lights fade, the murmuring audience quiet and the curtains open. Theater is experiential. It has more in common with eating than reading. Its not just visual. It's the music that surrounds you, it is the height of the ceiling and the screen, the dark corners, the chill in the air, the tang of salt and butter on your tongue. Theater is social, even if you are by yourself, you are with a group who together are engaged in the same experience. I even love going alone. It's just such a gift. :heart4: :love:
Soooo true! :love:
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Re: WAITING FOR THE BARBARIANS--Updates, Reviews and Discussion

Unread post by nebraska » Wed Aug 05, 2020 7:06 pm

fireflydances wrote:
Wed Aug 05, 2020 3:53 pm
I just wanted to add this here. It's a link to Samuel Goldwyn Films where you can rent Waiting for the Barbarians on August 7th (in the US) for $12.00. A fair price very similar to theaters. I know it's supposed to be available 'on demand' on the 7th, but so far this is a only place where I see the opportunity to actually rent it. Nothing yet from Amazon Prime, Netflix etc. Perhaps they will be later in the game.



If you know of other confirmed and accessible options can you also post them? It would be really outstanding if as many Deppheads as possible sat and watched the film this Friday.
I pre-ordered the DVD on Amazon for $11.99 -- free shipping with Prime -- I thought when I ordered it that the delivery date was supposed to be August 11 but now I see it will be released September 8. A DVD that you can watch over and over is the same price as a rental? Most movies are just 4 or 5 dollars to rent on Amazon.

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Re: WAITING FOR THE BARBARIANS--Updates, Reviews and Discussion

Unread post by fireflydances » Wed Aug 05, 2020 10:24 pm

nebraska wrote:
Wed Aug 05, 2020 7:06 pm

I pre-ordered the DVD on Amazon for $11.99 -- free shipping with Prime -- I thought when I ordered it that the delivery date was supposed to be August 11 but now I see it will be released September 8. A DVD that you can watch over and over is the same price as a rental? Most movies are just 4 or 5 dollars to rent on Amazon.
Great idea!!!
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Re: WAITING FOR THE BARBARIANS--Updates, Reviews and Discussion

Unread post by fireflydances » Thu Aug 06, 2020 10:19 am

Note: Several of the reviews posted were originally written in 2019. My original post stands otherwise.

Another two reviews. The first is from BFI, has only positives. What I like most about this one is the detailed summary of the film/ Also noted -- Waiting for the Barbarians premieres in London on October 6th at the BFI London film festival. I would expect to see JD (?) and I would love to see Coetzee as well. He isn't the outgoing type at all, however, so my hopes are likely to be unrealized.

The second from Skewed and Reviewed is quite favorable. Here's a quote from the end of the article, "Waiting for the Barbarians still strikes a chord today and asks the viewer the question “who are the barbarians”? It’s a deep and unsettling movie that asks you to take a look inside yourself. While it takes place in the distant past, it’s lessons still are true today. It’s visually a masterpiece and the strong acting by not only Depp and Pattison, but by Mark Rylance drive this epic home. It’s certainly not the feel-good movie of the summer, but one that asks the viewer to reflect on themselves and the world around them. Are things really much different now than they were before?"

I am going to extend my thanks to Stephen Deuters for collecting and showcasing the reviews whose links I've posted. I do remember the earlier reviews, last fall, which didn't seem to truly connect with the film and what it was about, whereas these most recent reviews do. This film does ask for more work than the standard reviewer is used to -- it is much more 'art house' in feel and I mean that in the best way possible. The film, like the book, asks the reader or watcher to apply their intellect to the story, not a popular activity among movie-goers who generally prefer something closer to an amusement park ride. Not that there's anything bad about amusement parks. It's just that using a visual medium to explore complex subject matter isn't the treasure the entertainment industry has usually pursued.



BRITISH FILM INSTITUTE

Waiting for the Barbarians review: a vital portrait of an empire in decline
Morality, and society itself, crumbles in Ciro Guerra’s English-language debut, a stunningly shot, allegorical film featuring a powerful lead performance by Mark Rylance.

Waiting for the Barbarians premieres in the UK on 6 October at the BFI London Film Festival

John Bleasdale
Updated: 2 October 2019

“What are we waiting for, assembled in the forum?” So runs C.P. Cavafy’s poem from which J.M. Coetzee’s novel takes its title and the answer could well be returned: this film. Ciro Guerra’s first English-language feature is a parable of empire: its hatreds, violence and self-defeating psychosis. It’s a story that is sadly all too relevant today.
Italy 2019
112 mins

Mark Rylance plays the unnamed Magistrate, the “one just man” as he is sneeringly labelled later on, who is in charge of a frontier outpost where he regards his jurisdiction with benign indifference. There isn’t much crime – the jails are partly used as storehouses – and he spends his spare time retrieving poplar strips of old writing, which he happily treasures while being utterly ignorant of their meaning. He is an unambitious functionary, the disciple of a quiet life, happy to ‘nudge’ the world in the right direction.

The arrival of Colonel Joll (Johnny Depp, out of costume-party mode) throws everything into disarray. Sporting sunglasses as dark as his soul (for the wrinkles, he explains) Joll sets about interrogating the few prisoners and, through his preferred method of “patience and pressure” – otherwise known as torture – starts to build a self-serving narrative of ‘barbarians’ plotting in the mountains.

Soon expeditions are taking place; the jails are filled and both the population and the soldiers are brutalised by participating in, and witnessing, the violence. The Magistrate’s own pleas for humanity are dismissed and he is reduced to looking after one vagrant girl (Gana Bayarsaikhan) – namelessness is a thing here – who has been tortured. His decision to take her back to her people leads to his own arrest as a traitor and torture at the hands of the vile Mendel (Robert Pattinson). His fall is precipitous and his humiliation and torture cruel.

So far, so white saviour, one could argue. Were white people really the victims of Empire? However, the film shows the Magistrate is inadequately attempting to compensate for the violence of the system he represents. When he washes the girl’s feet, it is such an overtly Christ-like act that he literally faints, intoxicated by his own compassion, much to the girl’s amusement.

Likewise, his engagement with the locals and their culture is superficial. As noted, he doesn’t understand the writing he collects and, though he wears sandals and visits the local prostitute, he’s hardly gone native. He appreciates what he doesn’t understand and accepts the limits of his knowledge. His virtues – like Rylance’s performance – are softly spoken and expressed via small gestures, contrasting with the pantomime of sadism offered by the cold Joll and the more fanatical Mendel.

Coetzee’s screenplay – the Nobel laureate adapted his own 1980 novel – is complex and spare, full of tight aphorisms. “Truth has a certain tone,” Joll tells the Magistrate, suggesting it all has to harmonise with what he already thinks. There are constant references to eyes and blindness. Joll’s sunglasses make the locals believe he is blind, which in a way he is; eyes are torn out and the girl is rendered half blind after being tortured. In a truly stunning shot, the Magistrate peers into her dark unseeing eyes only to have his reflection loom towards him.

Although time and location are unnamed, the sense of place is well established by Guerra and Chris Menges’ camera is attentive to the texture of the fine details of the Magistrate’s office and quarters, and later takes on a surprisingly epic scope as we head out into the ochres, oranges and big skies of the surrounding wasteland for a journey that recalls the sweep of Lawrence of Arabia (1962) and The Sheltering Sky (1990).

Set over the course of little more than a year, the film uses the seasons as chapter breaks. This foreshortening and its self-consciously allegorical feel could make the story all too neat. And the message is hardly original. Shelley’s Ozymandias showed us how empires are all ultimately exhausted by time, collapsing under their own illusions of permanency. Yet Guerra’s film not only feels fresh – it feels vital, bolstered and humanised by a stunning portrait of quiet humanity by Mark Rylance.



SKEWED AND REVIEWED

August 3, 2020
Michael Newman

Waiting for the Barbarians is based on the novel of the same name written by Nobel Prize winning writer J.M Coetzee who also provided the screen writing for the film. It is directed by Ciro Guerra and stars Mark Rylance, Johnny Depp and Robert Pattison.

In a remote border town, The Magistrate’s (Mark Rylance) responsibility is to oversee the day-to-day operations. On the desolate frontier, surrounded by desert on all sides, his biggest concerns appear to be the occasional stolen farm animal from a group of peaceful nomads that seasonally come down from the mountains. For years it has been this way, until Colonel Joll from the empire’s police force (Johnny Depp) arrives with orders from the ruling party to gather up, interrogate the local “barbarians” and drive them back into the mountains. Much to Joll’s delight, two “barbarians”, a young boy and his uncle, have arrived in town in search of medicine. Joll utilizes this opportunity to coerce the young boy into stating that a large army is amassing in the desert to attack the empire. Even though it’s apparent to the Magistrate that this confession has no bearing in reality, it’s clear that the beating death of his uncle and the sheer abuse the young boy endured at the hands of Joll, was Joll’s purpose all along.

Joll, and a group of his police force ride out into the desert to round up a small group of “barbarians” and brutally interrogates them all, adding credence to the Empire’s concern that a war is on the horizon, he leaves the border town to prepare for the oncoming onslaught. The Magistrate, who’s world has been turned upside down, is left with the fallout of what has been done to these nomadic people. One woman, who has been abused and blinded is left in the town, with no means to get back to her family or her people.

The Magistrate takes pity on the young woman and brings her into his home. After some time, he asks if she would like to be taken home or stay with him. As much as he wishes for her to stay, he reluctantly sticks to his word and takes a weeklong journey through the barren landscape to deliver her back to her people.

Upon returning, Joll and his secretary Officer Mandel (Robert Pattison) accuse the Magistrate of treason, strip him of his title, and torcher him in an effort to understand what he knows about the “barbarians” and what attack they are planning. It is here, where the Magistrate wonders aloud who the real barbarians are…and states that the Empire are the true Barbarians.

Waiting for the Barbarians is set in an unknown region representing what appears to be the middle east. The timeframe would appear to be something out of the early 1900’s and the costumes are representative of something out of Lawrence of Arabia. The empire itself is also not named specifically, but it is clear that it is a vast empire that will go to no ends to secure their position of power regardless of threats (both perceived and actual). It’s clear throughout, who the real Barbarians are. It’s made clearer when Joll regularly refers to the indigenous people as “Barbarians” while the Magistrate consistently refers to them as “nomads”.

Mark Rylance does an outstanding job as the Magistrate. A man, who lives a peaceful existence with the nomadic tribe around him, who not only learns the native language, but treats them fairly. He doesn’t see these people as the enemy, but only as a group of people with whom he shares the vast expanse with. Much like the expansion and colonization of old, it is the conquerors who the indigenous people feel are the trespassers on their land, not the other way around. A point that the Magistrate himself brings up when he states that the people are hoping that they will eventually move on.

Johnny Depp brings is usual quirky style and dark personae in his role as Joll. A ruthless individual, who clearly finds joy in the torture and humiliation he projects on others. Wearing his new sunglasses, something that those on the frontier have never before seen, and his fancy clothes, he imbues a sense of authority and power which the others of the town do not possess. Robert Pattison, while not featured until more than half-way through the film, does an outstanding job as officer Mandel, and lead torturer. His character compliments Depp’s character and the two of them make for a frightening duo.

Waiting for the Barbarians still strikes a chord today and asks the viewer the question “who are the barbarians”? It’s a deep and unsettling movie that asks you to take a look inside yourself. While it takes place in the distant past, it’s lessons still are true today. It’s visually a masterpiece and the strong acting by not only Depp and Pattison, but by Mark Rylance drive this epic home. It’s certainly not the feel-good movie of the summer, but one that asks the viewer to reflect on themselves and the world around them. Are things really much different now than they were before?

4 out of 5 stars

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Re: WAITING FOR THE BARBARIANS--Updates, Reviews and Discussion

Unread post by In-too-Depp » Fri Aug 07, 2020 6:27 am



‘Waiting For The Barbarians’ Review: Johnny Depp & Robert Pattinson Are Bad News In Slow-Moving Period Drama

Deadline.com
Review by Pete Hammond
6th Aug 2020

Waiting for the Barbarians is truth in advertising because this new film is so painfully paced it feels like an eternity while we are waiting for said Barbarians. Or actually anything to happen.
Deadline

Fortunately, this movie has a very accomplished and watchable cast, particularly with the main lead, Oscar winner Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies), and the likes of another quirky turn from Johnny Depp and another offbeat supporting role for Robert Pattinson. Add to that an Oscar-winning cinematographer shooting vast landscapes worthy of Lawrence of Arabia, a script from a Nobel Prize-winning author and a director whose past two foreign language films were widely acclaimed. So what possibly could go wrong? Just about everything, which may be why, despite the pandemic, we are seeing what is pretty much a straight-to-VOD release for something that cries out for a big screen.

Here’s what plot there is. We are in some country in an outpost in an isolated frontier settlement of an unnamed empire. The Magistrate there (Rylance) is living la vida loca in terms of coasting toward the end of his tour of duty when in pops creepy and deadly-serious Colonel Joll (Depp), who ostensibly is tracking activities of the Barbarbians as well as the questionable security of the border. To do this, sitting regally atop his horse with very distinct-looking, almost designer-like dark glasses, Joll begins his interrogations and brutal beatings. He’s a man with no backbone and certainly one who rubs the Magistrate the wrong way.

Later on, his cohort Officer Mandel (Pattinson) arrives to exhibit his own brand of punishment on the locals. The Magistrate tries to carry out a policy of getting along with the native population and seems horrified that his uninvited superiors use other methods. We see him start to crack as Joll begins his law-and-order spiel.

Based on his 1980 book, 2013 Nobel-winning author J.M. Coetzee turns screenwriter as well, but something is lost in translation. That also might be the problem for Oscar-nominated Colombian director Ciro Guerra, whose past two films — Embrace of the Serpent and Birds of Passage — were highly acclaimed, but here finds himself working in the English language for the first time. As good as his cast is — and they are very good — this intended political fable, with its echoes of racial divide we see happening in its own form today, does not quite catch fire. There are long, gorgeous shots of the desert surrounding the lone outpost that make me think Guerra and two-time Oscar winner Chris Menges (The Mission, The Killing Fields) are more interested in the visuals than the human story at hand.

Thank God for Rylance, who has some level of fire in his belly and achieves a three-dimensional performance despite the weakness of the material. Depp, who is very good in the still-domestically unreleased Minimata and City of Lies, is always fascinating to watch and livens up the proceedings in his scenes without batting an eyelash (literally) as he coldly shows who’s boss in confrontations with the Magistrate. Pattinson seems to struggle a bit with his Officer role but, in his brief appearances, makes a game try at putting some flesh on those bones anyway. Without much dialogue actress Gana Bayarsaikhan as “The Girl” is put through the ringer effectively and registers with some truth.

Still, despite its cast and look, Waiting for the Barbarians sadly is a bit of a slog. Production values are there, but where’s the beef? Producers are Monika Bacardi, MIchael Fitzgerald, Andrea Iervolino and Olga Segura. The Samuel Goldwyn Company releases it Friday on VOD tomorrow.
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Re: WAITING FOR THE BARBARIANS--Updates, Reviews and Discussion

Unread post by fireflydances » Fri Aug 07, 2020 10:33 am

I guess it works just as well to copy and post entire articles. I will go back and do that, to give the widest possible view of how this film was and is being judged. The reviews come from Stephen Deuters twitter feed. Please note that he is posting both reviews written this summer and those written last fall.



#LFF 2019: Waiting for the Barbarians review
7 October 2019 LFF / Martyn Conterio
CineVue > Festivals > LFF > #LFF 2019: Waiting for the Barbarians review

★★★★☆
In J.M. Coetzee’s acclaimed 1980 novel, waiting for the invading barbarians to show up is akin to waiting for Godot. Colombian director Ciro Guerra’s haunting adaptation shapes the book into a desolate cavalry western.

Filmed in Morocco and Italy with an international cast, Mark Rylance leads Waiting for the Barbarians. His character, a nameless magistrate, is an idealistic sort; the kind of imperialist who thinks he’s down with the natives because he doesn’t harass them or cause citizens unnecessary misery. Yet his interactions and benevolent style of lording it over the sparse population are merely the other sides of the same imperialist coin. He’s ultimately a man getting off on his own virtue. When Johnny Depp’s paranoid and despicable Colonel Joll rides into town, upon hearing of a plot by “the barbarians” to attack “the Empire”, the magistrate believes, naively, his appeals to rationality can sway his more belligerent and uncouth brethren. He is, of course, dead wrong.

Having camped it up in a string of eccentric roles this past decade, with ever-decreasing success, it’s good to see Depp in a role which requires subtlety and zero grandstanding. Cutting a dash in his billowing black cape and tinted steampunk eyeglasses – making him look like Count Dracula meets Judge Doom from Who Framed Roger Rabbit? – he is ably backed up by Robert Pattinson, appearing in a small but impressive role as a vile bureaucrat and torturer. Both actors are clearly having a ball playing against type as pent up, icy monsters, with Depp getting the lion’s share of memorable dialogue, mostly delivered in sinister aphorisms such as “there is no history here”, “pain is truth” and “patience and perseverance is the only way to get to the truth”.

Guerra’s star has risen considerably since his international breakout hit Embrace of the Serpent. A filmmaker noted for his explorations of frontier spaces and rich ethnographic details, the terrains in which his dramas unfold tend towards the fearsome, mythic and unknown. While Chris Menges chilly cinematography lends gnarled and windswept vistas plenty of symbolic oomph, there is some initial fear a trade-off has occurred in making a film away from home and in English.

The famous material, however, is used cleverly as a continuation of Guerra’a auteur fascination with the effects of colonialism on indigenous people and their cultures. In Waiting for the Barbarians, the director reveals a keen understanding not just of colonialist mentalities and methodologies in subduing and terrorising people, but also in the dangers of idealism when it lacks self-awareness. The magistrate plays the willing martyr in his own saintly passion play. He’s as hypocritical as Colonel Joll. At least the brutish aggressor is honest in his tyranny.


Stephen Deuters
liked your reply
Thanking you for collecting these reviews. I hope it is okay that I am lifting and posting them to The Zone, a Depp fan site. We did a book conversation on Waiting for the Barbarians last summer, and I am so pleased to see these really decent reviews.
Stephen Deuters
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"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed and some few to be chewed and digested." Sir Francis Bacon, Of Studies

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Re: WAITING FOR THE BARBARIANS--Updates, Reviews and Discussion

Unread post by fireflydances » Fri Aug 07, 2020 10:51 am



‘Barbarians’ a well-crafted study of savage rule

Boston Herald
By JAMES VERNIERE | james.verniere@bostonherald.com |
August 7, 2020 at 5:21 a.m.


MOVIE REVIEW
“WAITING FOR THE BARBARIANS”

Not rated. On Amazon, VUDU, iTunes and other streaming platforms.

Grade: B+

Fans of the Tom Hanks vehicle “Greyhound” may want to check out another throwback to the well-made, military period film of yore. Based on a 1980 novel by Nobel Prize winner J.M. Coetzee, adapted by Coetzee and directed by award-winning Colombian filmmaker Ciro Guerra (“Birds of Passage”), “Waiting for the Barbarians” has pedigree to spare. This includes a 2005 Philip Glass opera also based on the Coetzee book. The film has Mark Rylance, Robert Pattinson and Johnny Depp in its cast.

Academy Award-winner Rylance is the story’s Christ-like protagonist, an unnamed magistrate in a small frontier post in a mid-19th century Asian part of some Western Empire, probably British. The gentle magistrate is a scholar and an amateur archaeologist interested in the past of the country in which he finds himself. He pays a visit to a friendly young courtesan in the fortress town and is on good terms with the locals, the soldiers of the fort and their maternal cook (Greta Scacchi). But everything changes when a imperial policeman named Col. Joll (Depp), who wears a pair of uncommon dark glasses, arrives in a small coach with a contingent of soldiers of his own.

Although the magistrate has lived in peace, the colonel is convinced that there is “unrest” among the indigenous “barbarians,” and he tortures an old indigenous man to death, claiming to have found out important intelligence. Joll returns from an expedition with several more indigenous men and women, whom he also tortures. The magistrate takes in one crippled victim, a young nomadic woman (Gana Bayarsaikhan) whose ankles have been broken and whose eyesight has been damaged by her captors, using the prongs of a fire-heated fork on her. The magistrate washes the woman’s feet and tries to nurse the
woman back to health in his quarters, sharing his bed with her and sleeping at her feet.

That almost everyone speaks English in this “back of beyond” is a bit off-putting. Like “Lawrence of Arabia,” a film that “Waiting for the Barbarians” resembles at times (both were shot in Morocco), “Waiting for the Barbarians” uses subtitles sparingly.

Depp looks demonic in his black glasses and may remind some of the Brando of “Apocalypse Now.” He is the imperial henchman, who believes that “pain” and “truth” are interchangeable and whose crackdown on real or imagined rebellion spawns legions of fighters seeking revenge. Pattinson, as Joll’s enforcer, is malignant enough to make you eager to see his version of the Dark Knight. Rylance is riveting as the surprisingly insolent, would-be man of peace crushed beneath the boot heel of brutality. With not much more than a single scene, Aussie Sam Reid (TV’s “Prime Suspect 1973”) leaves a lasting impression, oozing arrogance.

The cinematography of two-time Academy Award winner Chris Menges (“The Mission,” “The Killing Fields”) is lushly intimate inside the torch, lamp and candlelit fort and glowing and expansive in the desert and mountains. The music of Giampiero Ambrosi is suitably dirge-like and nerve rattling.
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Re: WAITING FOR THE BARBARIANS--Updates, Reviews and Discussion

Unread post by fireflydances » Fri Aug 07, 2020 11:11 am




Blu-Ray
Waiting for the Barbarians Review
Review by Brian Orndorf, August 5, 2020
8 / 10


“Waiting for the Barbarians” is an adaptation of a 1980 novel by J.M. Coetzee, which has already inspired a stage play and an opera by Philip Glass. Coetzee handles screenplay duties for the material’s cinematic debut, largely protecting a core story of colonialism that made the book highly regarded in literary circles, carefully bringing a tale of governmental madness and corruption to audiences inundated with the stuff on a daily (hourly?) basis. Pacing is very deliberate here, but Coetzee doesn’t lose control of the tale, doing a commendable job building a sense of horror with the period picture, offering a spare but compelling study of demoralization. “Waiting for the Barbarians” is chilling at times and never strays far from its thematic points, while the cast assembled to portray all manner of evil, shame, and fear contribute excellent performances, always keeping the feature fascinating.

The Magistrate (Mark Rylance) is in command of an outpost at the edge of The Empire, keeping track of his community while enjoying the mysteries of the region, including history buried in the sand. Arriving for a special inspection is Colonel Joll (Johnny Depp), a seasoned man of the military who warns The Magistrate about the Barbarians and their growing organization. Beating two indigenous men into a confession, Colonel Joll is empowered to keep up with his mission, while The Magistrate is appalled by such behavior, baffled why anyone would want to threaten the relative peace in the land. As the seasons change, The Magistrate discovers The Girl (Gana Bayarsaikhan), a nomad who’s been nearly destroyed by Joll’s rule. Offering The Girl time to heal and grow in the outpost, The Magistrate confronts his confusion concerning service and humanity, soon making a choice to return The Girl to her people – a decision that threatens his career and sanity.

While the details aren’t explicitly presented in “Waiting for the Barbarians,” the story takes place somewhere in Mongolia, with The Magistrate setting up an outpost near a border his superiors are newly interested in. The arrival of Colonel Joll commences the story, with the seemingly harmonious existence nurtured by The Magistrate splintered by the military monster’s arrival. Depp doesn’t go weird with the role, trying to remain as still as possible as the interrogator, using ornate sunglasses (a newfangled invention, bewildering The Magistrate) to offer distinct imagery while playing up the character’s icy acts of intimidation. He’s a sinister man sworn to duty, which involves the creation of paranoia concerning the Barbarians, enjoying the torture of two prisoners accused of stealing sheep. When one is murdered during the confession process, The Magistrate is suddenly aware of Colonel Joll’s plans and that of his home country, which is working to generate an enemy to keep The Empire thriving.

Depp is terrific in a supporting part, and his moments bring a vivid sense of threat to “Waiting for the Barbarians.” However, this is Rylance’s movie, and the actor commits to the role, communicating The Magistrate’s weakening belief in The Empire, emerging from his own sense of comfort, which includes sampling prostitutes and collecting history buried deep in the sand, amassing trunks of indigenous artifacts. The story is broken down into seasonal chapters, with winter bringing The Girl into view. Discovered shivering in a corner, The Girl opens The Magistrate’s eyes in full to military violence, discovering her horrific treatment while in custody, which has left her blind and turned her body into a topographic map of pain. “Waiting for the Barbarians” details their relationship, which involves the near-ceremonial act of washing her feet, watching The Magistrate use the moment as an offering of penance and, well, some degree of sexual excitement, adding to the idiosyncrasy of an otherwise stern feature.

The Magistrate decides to leave the outpost for an extended amount of time, venturing into the unknown to bring The Girl back to whatever remains of her people. The trip adds some adventure to the feature and reinforces its ideas on colonialism, where leaders are careful to use fear as a form of control. The third act brings The Magistrate full circle in his disillusionment (Robert Pattinson appears as another officer committed to violence), and Coetzee has a chance to play with expectations, inspiring a conclusion that’s informed by world history. “Waiting for the Barbarians” isn’t aggressively paced or performed, but it connects as a meditation on leadership and military order, supported by sharp performances and rich sense of futility.

Director: Ciro Guerra
Starring: Harry Melling, Johnny Depp, Robert Pattinson, Mark Rylance, Sam Reid, Gana Bayarsaikhan
Producers: Monika Bacardi, Brian W. Cook, Michael Fitzgerald, Andrea Iervolino, Danielle Maloni, Olga Segura
"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed and some few to be chewed and digested." Sir Francis Bacon, Of Studies