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Don't Spite the Forest
by Rame
 
Forest Whitaker has been acting in solid, character driven films for over twenty years. His rise to fame has been in the pressure cooker and finally after 25 years in the movie business the lid is starting to come off. In this retrospective we’ll look at the more notable films in his career that have shot him to stardom and a Best Actor nomination.

The Last King of Scotland ( 2006)

This tour de force performance as Uganda’s Idi Amin has garnered Whitaker with a ton of awards and accolades. In the film Whitaker Whitaker humanizes Amin without in any way excusing his manipulative seductions or brutality, and he emerges as a tragic model for African dictators who have followed him, their promise misshapen by a long history of poverty and colonialism, and by the premature acquisition of unchecked power.

Phone Booth ( 2002)

As in most of his roles Whitaker’s Captain Ed Ramey plays second banana to the lead, in this case it’s slick and conniving New York publicist, Stu Shepard (Colin Farrell). A tight thriller with a few twists. Whitaker fans will enjoy the tense scenes and interaction with his co-star, Farrell.

Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai ( 1999)

In New York, an African-American hit man follows Hagakure: The Way of the Samurai. He lives alone, in simplicity, with pigeons, calling himself Ghost Dog. He talks with his best friend, a French-speaking Haitian who sells ice cream in the park, and with a child, with whom he discusses books. Premises don’t get wierder than this, but what do you expect from writer/director Jim Jarmusch creator of films like Coffee and Cigarettes and Down by Law.

The Crying Game ( 1992)

Whitaker plays Jody, a british soldier kidnapped by the IRA. When the kidnapping goes horribly wrong Fergus, an Irish Republican Army volunteer seeks out Jody’s lover and madness ensues. Sorry revealing any more of this plot would be a crime rent the film or put it in your queue for the rest.

Bird ( 1988)

The film directed by Clint Eastwood stars Whitaker in this major breakthrough in the title role; as saxophone player Charlie Parker who comes to New York in 1940. He is quickly noticed for his remarkable way of playing. He becomes a drug addict but his loving wife Chan tries to help him.

Platoon ( 1986)

A gritty and emotional look at the lives of a platoon of American soldiers as they patrol, fight and die in the jungles of Vietnam as seen through the perspective of a young recruit. Check for a young Forest Whitaker, his screen time is brief yet and still it's a memorable film.

Forest Whitaker has also tried his hand at directing while I personally have enjoyed very few of these films, some of you out their might find some redeeming value.

  • First Daughter – Movie about the daughter of a US President headed off to college and finding love, stars a pre Tomkat, Katie Holmes.
  • Hope Floats – A woman finds out Jerry Springer style that her husband is cheating on her and wants a divorce. Romance and Comedy ensues, I fall asleep.
  • Waiting to Exhale – Whitaker directs Terry McMillian’s best selling novel also stars a pre-cracked out Whitney Houston with man problems.
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