Dave White
Bamako Review

Dave's Rating:


You can't accuse it of being dull.

Who's in It: Aïssa Maïga, Tiécoura Traoré

The Basics: A trial is being held in Bamako, Mali. Lawyers and defendants and plaintiffs and witnesses all gather to do their thing. On trial is the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and Western capitalism in general, as well as African corruption and complacency and how all of it conspires to keep the continent in a state of chaos. But then there's the part where it's not a trial in a court. It's a trial in a courtyard. So everyday life intrudes: Chickens are roaming around, people are getting water from the town pump, wedding parties stop the proceedings. It's kind of an experimental film.

What's the Deal? Most movies about Africa that I've seen are all about making you feel sorry for how awful it's turned out to be there. Genocides and civil wars and corrupt Western businesses coming in and making a literal killing. Then one man stands alone to make a difference, and you leave and still feel helpless and think, "Well, at least someone's doing something somewhere. And then there's Bono." This one is the opposite of that. It's not a sweet protest song; it's a deadpan rant against injustice that covers all the bases — and even chastises itself at times, too.

Why You Should Check It Out Even Though It Sounds Like a Bummer and/or Homework: Because it's not like anything else out there right now. It defiantly jumps around, ruins your ideas about storytelling and is completely weird and cool and even funny in its own bleak way. You can't accuse it of being dull.

Celebrity Backing of: Executive producer Danny Glover, who appears in it for a little bit as a character in a bizarre western movie-within-the-movie.

Who Should See It: Guilty liberals, film-festival programmers, people who like it when movies don't care about narrative, people who have zero interest in summer blockbusters and all my friends who say stuff to me like, "You couldn't pay me to go see most of the movies you have to sit through."


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