Take a Drink: every time Meryl Streep is a priss
Take a Drink: whenever Robert Redford does something rugged
Take a Drink: for elephant tusks
Take a Drink: whenever Baron Blixen is an asshole
Take a Drink: syphilis… shit!
Take a Drink: whenever Kamanto shoots Streep down on something
Take a Drink: whenever the farm takes a financial beating
Do a Shot: for romantic scenes that would make The Notebook blush
By: Henry J. Fromage (Four Beers) –
There are certainly more than a few Oscar Best Picture winners that history doesn’t look kindly on, but I wager there’s no greater disparity between critical consensus (52% on Rotten Tomatoes) and Oscar domination (7 wins of 11 nominations) than Out of Africa. No, don’t get me started on Crash– the critics were the whole reason that film stayed in the race in the first place.
Ah, that beautiful time before critical backlash started to set in before anyone watched the damn film
Out of Africa is based on the memoirs of Karen Blixen (Meryl Streep), a wealthy Danish woman who goes to Africa to enter into a marriage of convenience with a destitute Baron (Klaus Maria Brandauer). He turns out to be a syphilitic asshole, however, but thankfully there’s a rough and tumble, untamable outdoorsman with a hairwashing fetish and Robert Redford’s good looks (Robert Redford) in reserve.
“Ooh, ooh yeah, unnhhn…”
“Robert, stop making those noises or we’re stopping!”
Meryl Streep is pretty great, you guys. No, seriously, she’s just so damn consistent in her greatness it can be difficult to acknowledge it, or want to anyway. Here she added a “sexy” feather to her cap, showing up to a meeting with director Sydney Pollack in a brazen push up bra to prove she was sexy enough for the role, and sexy she is, along with naive and a bit of a smug idealist at first, but over time she becomes more independent, plucky, and even badass when she goes after a lioness attacking her cattle with a whip. Oh, she shoots a lion to save Redford at one point, too. she fucks up a lot of lions, actually. (These are stories the real Karen Blixen claimed to have happened, but since nobody was alive who witnessed them by that point, you might take them with a grain of salt.
About this big…
Besides Streep, Redford can obviously do rugged, dashing playboy in his sleep, and you can’t argue with David Watson’s pretty lensing of gorgeous African landscapes or John Barry’s sweeping, Mozart and Kenyan traditional music-studded score.
What the hell is that accent supposed to be, Meryl? You sound like The Iron Lady had a stroke. Danish, eh? Okay…
What really rubs this in is the persistent voiceover lifted from Blixen’s writing that is both unnecessary and forces Streep to not only do that accent, but do it in old lady voice as well. It’s not pretty.
A much larger problem, though, is Out of Africa‘s laggard, meandering story. It’s overlong (161 minutes) and underfocused, pleasant enough as a background drone, but almost impossible to get invested in, especially when even Redford turns out to be kind of an asshole. Why does “free-spirited” always mean “bangs other women”?
Hey, I’m not the one with syphilis
Particularly old-fashioned, and not in a good way, is how Africa and Africans are portrayed as an exotic other for the white people to learn lessons from, but in now way seriously connect with. “Will the children make games with my name in it?” indeed…
Pollack was clearly going for an old-school David Lean-style epic, but confuses 50 year old technical limitations for timeless charm. The rear projection is unnecessary, ugly, and not of a piece with the rest of the film. He even uses a wide shot of two actors talking, then cuts closer, and all of a sudden the background is rear-projected… it’s comical.
Out of Africa is a well-rewarded attempt at a classical style, and not terrible persay- just too long and rather dull. David Lean was still making classical epics at that point- releasing A Passage to India just a year before. Go watch that instead.