Mister Johnson

I returned home and watched the last two innings of the World Series.  Those last two hits the Indians gave up were fatal.  I wondered what the thinking behind those two pitches was.  I tried to put baseball behind me as I watched “Mister Johnson,” the movie that Bruce Beresford made after “Driving Miss Daisy.”  I think Beresford deserves some credit for attempting something meaningful.  John Huston was interested in making this movie, but I suppose the difficulties of filming in Nigeria were too great.  It is set in 1923, and Mister Johnson is a young Nigerian man who thinks of himself as British and tries to get ahead by working as an accountant for the local district office.  The story has some similarities with “Breaker Morant,” which also had Edward Woodward in the cast.  There is some humor in the story, although it ends up as a tragedy.  Maynard Eziashi plays Mister Johnson, and he is very good up on the screen.  His downfall is money.  I was amazed that he wasn’t sweating horribly underneath all the clothes he wears.  Pierce Brosnan is Rudbeck, his boss, and I thought he fit his role well, too.  Woodward is Gollup, owner of the general store.  I couldn’t help thinking about how much Woodward had aged since “Breaker Morant.”  Beresford gives us a convincing sense of the setting, and the movie is very interesting.  You want to see how things are going to turn out for this unusual person.  Movie audiences in the United States didn’t seem to like the movie.  They were probably also irritated with Morgan Freeman’s character in “Driving Miss Daisy.”  Beresford liked this movie very much and thought it was his best film.  I think it has a lot of good qualities and is worth a look.  This is the only movie of Beresford’s after “Driving Miss Daisy” that I’ve ever seen.  During the 1980s, I recall seeing “Puberty Blues,” “Tender Mercies,” and “Crimes of the Heart” and liking them.  Beresford is now 76 years old.  Some of the people who died on November 3 include Annie Oakley (1926), Henri Matisse (1954), Mary Martin (1990), Bob Kane (1998), and Jonathan Harris (2002).  Today is a birthday for Dolph Lundgren (59), Roseanne Barr (64), and Lulu (68).

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