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Edge of tomorrow: a review by Daniel Janks

Daniel janks 1Reviewed by  Daniel Janks: actor, creative director, writer, cynic, father, husband. He was born in 1977 and has still not died. He loves many things, chief among which are his mythic wife and odd girl-child.  Visit his website.

Director Doug Liman
Writer  Christopher McQuarrie, Jez Butterworth
Cast  Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton

 AGE RESTRICTION: [PG-13]
I’d pay attention to the restriction, this is a pretty violent and gory film.

Bottom Line
Aliens? Check. Explosions? Check. Action? Check. Interesting premise? Check. Compelling character story and development? Um … a bit? Logical well thought out exposition of the narrative? Ja … well, you can’t have it all.

Plot
No-one likes a coward in a war movie, right? But everyone loves to see a coward overcome his fears and answer the calls of duty, honour and obligation, right?
Cage is a very pretty and charming Army PR man who has spearheaded the public relations charge of the great human vs Mimic (alien) war. But now he’s thrust onto the front lines (not really sure why) to die with thousands of other human soldiers. And die he does. Over and over again, each time re-awakening just before the invasion and having to do it over and over again. Can his Ground-Hog Day like powers help him thwart he Mimics and save mankind? What do you think?
The film is fun, packed with action, and a fun watch, no question. But it’s also more than a little nonsensical and in parts, downright silly.

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Acting
The acting is fine. It’s the script that’s problematic. Tom Cruise, having to relive over and over again the same day, having to die over and over again does a good job bringing to life the inevitable monotony of the task, but so much time is spent setting up the premise that too little is left to play out the narrative development. Coupled with the fact that the film never manages to develop a reliable way to let the audience know when we’re repeating time and when we’re experiencing it for the first time, leaves the suspenseful parts of the film a little dull and plodding. So Cruise does a good job with a flawed script, as does Emily Blunt, who has the challenge of playing a character that only ever knows the character opposite her for a day, but still has to grow to like/love/respect him over the course of the film. Again she does a good job with a bad script.

Directing
Doug Liman is a good director. He brought us the original Jason Bourne movie, which was brilliant, and yonks ago he even did the cult comedy Swingers, which launched Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau’s careers. So we know he can do exciting, taught, tense, edge of your seat action movies with a soul, and he can also do touching comedies with heart. Unfortunately in the case of Edge of Tomorrow it looks like he’s been swallowed up by the big-budget, CGI, block-busterness of it all.  The film just doesn’t hold together logically and believably.

So
Edge of Tomorrow is a good film. It’s a fun night out, full of booms and bangs, and you’ll want to watch it to the end to see how it all comes out. But it’s no more than good, and isn’t going to make its way onto any cult lists anytime soon.

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The fault in our stars : a review by Daniel Janks

Daniel janks 1Reviewed by  Daniel Janks: actor, creative director, writer, cynic, father, husband. He was born in 1977 and has still not died. He loves many things, chief among which are his mythic wife and odd girl-child.  Visit his website.

Director: Josh Boone
Writer: Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber
Cast: Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Nat Wolff

AGE RESTRICTION: [PG-13]

This is a good old fashioned family movie. It’s sad, and there’s some smooching, but it’s safe for  your 13s and up.

Bottom Line

Now, guys, I know there are a lot of you out there that don’t like ‘chick-flicks’ but to you all I say: “Grow up and go have a little weep at the cinema!”

This is a good film, it’s touching, and a bit funny, and very sad and makes for a good weepy night at the movies. And it’s a fantastic launch vehicle for the breathtaking Shailene Woodley.

Plot

Meet Hazel, a pretty, smart, slightly sad teenager with terminal lung cancer. But along with the whole dying-of-cancer-thing she’s also got a twinkle in her eye and quirky, knowing half smile tweaking out of the corner of her lips. Hazel meets Gus, a brash and over brimming with life boy who’s survived cancer, lost his leg in the process, and decided to take life by the horns and be something special. Their meeting is electric, and they both inexorably fall towards each other, a fiery young love affair, and tragic ending.

Now this doesn’t need a spoiler alert because it’s pretty obvious from the beginning that there’s no way things are going to end well. It’s a sick-kid movie. It’s not going to end well folks.the fault in our stars

Acting

Now I said this is a great launch movie for the breathtaking Shailene Woodley, and that’s not strictly speaking fair. Ms Woodley has been around for yonks, her pro acting debut was in 1999 when she was eight, and she’s been going strong since then. But she’s grown up to be the most surprising of creatures. An un-Hollywood, Hollywood actress. She’s beautiful, but not traditionally so. She’s tall and a little gangly, but in a really feminine and, well …  sexy, way. We’re soon to see her in the leading role in the upcoming Divergent, a Hunger Games like cult sci-fi novel turned movie. And perhaps, like the leading lady in Hunger Games, Jennifer Lawrence, she’ll maintain her qualities and also champion the rise of the ‘real woman’ in Hollywood. Anyway, she’s incandescent in The Fault in Our Stars. It’s a quiet and subtle incandescence, there’s nothing flashing about her performance, but she’s deeply believable, and I quickly found I couldn’t take my eyes off her.

Co-starring with her is the also relative newcomer, Ansel Elgort, who your teenage daughters are going to want to hang posters of in their bedrooms, and hell, your teenage sons may want to, too. He’s very good in the film. He’s charming and suave, but also tender and vulnerable. He’s the perfect match for Ms Woodley’s rounded, shy charm, and the two of them sparkle.

Directing

The film is directed by Josh Boone, who hasn’t done very much, but seems to do it very well. The film is pacey but not rushed, subtle but also funny and charming, touching but not gooey. The performances are, almost bar none, solid, believable and compelling. He got tears out of me, and I shed them joyously and with relish, because to be moved by a film is a great thing, even when you’re moved to tears. So well done Mr Boone.

So

This is a great film. It just barely lost out on the 4/5 mark because … hell I don’t know why. If I had a 3.9999999/5 score it would get it. It’s a good, solid tearjerker, well worth the watch.

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Under the skin: a movie review by Daniel Janks

Daniel janks 1Reviewed by  Daniel Janks: actor, creative director, writer, cynic, father, husband. He was born in 1977 and has still not died. He loves many things, chief among which are his mythic wife and odd girl-child.  Visit his website.

Director : Jonathan Glazer
Writer : Walter Campbell
Cast : Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy McWilliams, Lynsey Taylor Mackay

AGE RESTRICTION: [R] (Very, very [R])

Do not, I repeat do not, take the kiddy winkles. While there’s not much to see, I think it may warp their minds a little. It did mine.

Bottom Line

Talk about an art film. This is an art film. It happens to be one about aliens slowly and surreptitiously invading earth one poor bastard at a time, but it’s an art film all right. It’s very good, could be forty minutes shorter, and is a gram or two on the heavy side of weird, but it’s very good.

Plot

Scarlett Johansson plays … oh that’s right, there are no character names in the film … so … she plays … this woman, who’s really an alien (don’t worry there’s no spoilers here) who harvests men for their skin. The longer she spends on earth the more conflicted she becomes about her role as a heartless, makes-you-sink-into-the-black-inky-floor temptress of skin-harvesting death. After she meets the elephant man everything changes.

Under the skin

The problem with the film, and the thing that knocked it out of the 4/5 category for me, is that it literally takes about forty minutes for anything to happen. Alien woman prowls around and lures men to her inky floor abode and all, but then she just keeps on doing it. It’s interesting, it’s beautiful, it’s fascinating, but it goes on for a LONG time, in my not-so-humble opinion, it goes on too long.

Acting

The acting is brilliant in that it seems, really, not to exist. Performance wise the film feels more like a documentary than a feature. The humans are photo realistic, without any glamour or finesse, and the aliens seem truly … alien, like real un-humans. It’s chilling and enthralling and quite brilliant. But in an EXTREMELY … well … alienating way. This is not a film full of characters you’ll fall in love with. You won’t even like them. Hell you won’t even got to know 99% of them.

Ms Johannson is very good. I’m not always her biggest fan, but she’s very good in this. She is the lynch pin that holds the film together and she manages it very well. Her journey, eventually you’ll see she does have a journey, is fascinating and in the end well worthy the slog of sitting though the slightly arbitrary first forty minutes or so.

Directing

Walter Campbell directed two very very good films before Under the Skin. He did Birth and Sexy Beast. He’s not the John Grisham of the film world, churning out a film a year, but the long waits and big gaps between his films are worth it. He’s being likened to a modern day Stanley Kubrick, and with good cause. Under the Skin definitely has the soft meandering feeling of 2001: A Space Odyssey. His direction is tight, sympathetic and minuscule-ly and minutely detailed, and while the film drags for me at times, it is by no means too long, or too slow.

So

Under the Skin is the definition of weird but wonderful. It’s for art-house audiences only and feels more like a 5 day test than a 20-20 wham bam thank you ma’am, but it’s a beautiful, intricate portrait of humanity, and well worth watching.

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Filth: a movie review by Daniel Janks

Daniel janks 1

Reviewed by  Daniel Janks: actor, creative director, writer, cynic, father, husband. He was born in 1977 and has still not died. He loves many things, chief among which are his mythic wife and odd girl-child.  Visit his website.

Director          Jon S. Baird
Writer             Jon S. Baird
Cast                James McAvoy, Jamie Bell, Eddie Marsan

AGE RATING:  R
Definitely not a kiddies movie.

Bottom Line

This is a good film, it starts better than it ends, but it’s a very good film. It’s disturbing, and funny, and frightening, and fabulously rich and decadent. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a film like this and while I’m hesitant to make the comparison it did remind me a lot of Trainspotting. But while Danny Boyle’s film was close to flawless, Filth suffers the odd bump in the road.

Plot

Meet Det Sergent Bruce Robertson, Scotland’s most depraved, disturbed and disgusting cop. Now watch as Bruce looses his mind. He’s trying to land a big promotion at work, he’s trying to turn his etherial wife on and rekindle his marriage, he’s trying to stop seeing people turn into pig headed apparitions (literally), he’s trying not to listen to his swollen headed head-shrinker, most of all he’s trying not to go stark raving round the bend bonkers, but none of it is going particularly well.
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Acting

The acting is rich and larger-than-life wonderful. James McAvoy leads the bunch as the suave and debonair Det Sergent Robertson. He’s devilishly sly and seductively charming, all at once being disturbingly amoral and decidedly … well … evil. McAvoy’s performance is entrancing and compelling. But while he hits all the high notes I felt his missed some of the low ones. He is so constantly high-energy and on-edge that it was quite an exhausting experience just watching him charge from scene to scene. No question the character deserved the hi-octane delivery, but like other brilliant contemporary actors, Leo DeCaprio jumps to mind, I find, as an audience member, the total unceasing dials-in-the-red performance style is too all-consuming to allow room for breath.

The supporting cast is almost unanimously wonderful. Each, almost caricatured, character is bubbling with irony and humour, and as an ensemble they present the perfect foil to McAvoy’s dark lead.

Directing

Jon S. Baird is good. He’s relativley new on the block, Filth being only his second full feature directing credit. But he’s been round the block as a producer and writer for some time. Filth is really well directed, the humour and absurdism is well balanced in the plot and flow of the film with the realism and narrative. And Robertson’s gradual decline into mania is carefully plotted and delicately handled. Perhaps the greatest directorial achievement in Filth is that, despite Robertson’s awfulness, we feel some measure of compassion for the filthy little weed.

So

If you liked Trainspotting, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Requiem for a Dream, then you’ll like Filth. If you’re more of a Downton Abbey and Pride and Prejudice kind of person then it may be a bit frenetic for you.  www.Janks

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American Hustle: a review by Daniel Janks

Daniel janks 1

Reviewed by  Daniel Janks: actor, creative director, writer, cynic, father, husband. He was born in 1977 and has still not died. He loves many things, chief among which are his mythic wife and odd girl-child.  Visit his website.

Director David O. Russell
Writer David O. Russell
Cast Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper

AGE RESTRICTION: R

This is definitely a date night film, rather than a Sunday night family flik. Leave-o the kids at home-o!

Bottom Line

This is a surprising movie. And it isn’t. It isn’t surprising in how good it is. One isn’t surprised by a good David O. Russell film. This is the man behind Silver Linings Playbook, The Fighter, Three Kings, I Heart Huckabees and more. His films are great. They’re gritty, real and highly enthralling and entertaining to boot. And one isn’t surprised by great performances delivered by Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner or Jennifer Lawrence, some of the most exciting actors working in Hollywood today. And of course one isn’t surprised by enjoying a con movie. Who doesn’t like con movies? None of this is surprising, but the film still manages to surprise.

PlotUntitled

American Hustle tells the true-ish story of Irving Rosenfeld, a fat, balding, not very charming con man who manages to cause one of the most infamous scandals in American history. He, and his partner the sultry British seductress Sydney Prosser, become undercover FBI snitches who take the decidedly and deliciously weird, Special Agent Richie DiMasso, on a roller coaster ride trying to catch Carmine Polito, the almost honest Mayor of Atlantic City. Along the way they nab the largest collection of crooked US Congressmen in US criminal justice history.

Acting

As we’ve already ascertained no-one is surprised when great actors deliver great performances. But where the film did surprise me, is in the nature of the performances. Each and every key character is portrayed with a kind of hyper real frenetic fervour that is decidedly un-hollywood and both deeply unnerving and intricately fascinating.

David O. Russell has had a very diverse career. He dabbled in war action/comedy/dramas, intense character driven explorations of human nature, quirky romantic comedy/dramas and madcap off-the-wall ensemble comedies. In American Hustle he seems to try and mix all of them together. And he kinda manages it.

The result is a collection of performances that may, on the surface, seem more at home in Silver Linings Playbook than The Fighter. But once you allow the crazy to seep out of the acting and into the story, you quickly find yourself very at home in a world slightly off-kilter.

Everyone, bar none, is brilliant, but for me the standout performances belong to Silver Linings stars Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, who are both breathtaking.

Directing

I’m a huge David O. Russell fan. He’s been pretty good at flying under the radar in terms of Hollywood hype, but I can’t imagine that that’s going to be possible for long. His films are gritty and real and also magically bizarre and different. They are paced fantastically and twist and turn surprisingly. His characters are fascinating and his stories enthralling. He is that most rare and precious thing in Hollywood. He is a unique voice. But he manages to be unique without jumping off the mainstream cliff and drowning in the sea of art-house obscurity below.

So

See it. Definitely see it. But don’t go expecting a Scorsese thriller. American Hustle is much more dynamic than that.

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Ride Along is Hilarious!

Joy DemboReviewed by Joy Dembomarried with a 21 yr old son, 29 yr old daughter &  a 9  mnth old grandson. Recruitment Response Handling Consultant and Freelance Copywriter, vegetarian and animal lover. Visit her blog.

Universal’s new comedy release, Ride Along is well worth seeing if you are looking for a good laugh!

Ben Barber, (played by Kevin Hart) is a school security guard and he is in love with the gorgeous Angela Payton (played by Tika Sumpter).  His dream is to join the Atlanta Police Department, and he is over the moon when he is accepted as a trainee.  He also plans to marry Angela, but he needs the approval of her older brother, James, (played by Ice Cube),  who is a detective with the Atlanta PD.Unknown

James is not easily impressed and decides to take Ben with him on a 24 hour patrol,  so Ben can prove himself to be a worthy husband for Angela. James decides to have some fun with the fast talking Ben,  and secretly asks control to give him all the petty crime cases, and leads Ben into some difficult, but hilarious situations.  Just when it looks like Ben isn’t going to “make the grade”,  the two pick up some valuable clues which lead to the closure of a drug related case that James has been working on for three years.  Together they bring down the elusive, Omar (played by Laurance Fishburne), and Ben “earns his stripes” with James.

Kevin Hart and Ice Cube complement each other perfectly, and the result is some extremely funny scenes.  I guarantee you will come out of this movie chuckling.

The movie was directed by Tim Story, and releases on Friday, 21 February at theatres, countrywide, and is classified 13 LV.

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Movie Review: Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2

Daniel janks 1

Reviewer  Daniel Janks: actor, creative director, writer, cynic, father, husband. He was born in 1977 and has still not died. He loves many things, chief among which are his mythic wife and odd girl-child.  Visit his website.

Director : Cody Cameron, Kris Pearn
Writer : Judi Barrett, Ron Barrett
Cast :  Bill Hader, Anna Faris, Will Forte

AGE RATING: PG
Take the kiddies, they’ll love it.

Bottom Line

I loved Cloudy with a chance of Meatballs 1, who wouldn’t. The second iteration is very good, but not in the same league as the first. The film is funny and wacky and weird and charming and cute and just as off the wall as the first, but it seemed to me to be a little lazy, placing much of it’s humour and charm in the realm of pun and slapstick, rather than wit and farce.

PlotCloudy-with-a-Chance-of-Meatballs-2-Boat-Teaser-drop

Picking up directly where the first film ends, Flint Lockwood has just saved the world from his invention the Flint Lockwood Diatonic Super Mutating Dynamic Food Replicator, or FLDSMDFR. He’s swept up by his boyhood hero Chester V and goes to work at Live Corp to become an inventor and general make-the-world-a-better-place-er. But all is not kosher in the world and Chester V is not what he appears. Flint soon finds out that the FLDSMDFR hasn’t been destroyed but is still alive and has been hard at work turning Swallow Falls into a land-that-time-forgot-esque island of wonder populated by strange and wondrous food animals, or foodimals, like the: Wild Scalions and the Apple Pie-thon, the Sasquash and Peanut Butter and Jellyfish, the Shrimpanzee and the Watermelophant. So, Flint and his band of merry misanthropes journey back home to stop his most dangerous invention. But all is not as it seems in cuckoo land.

Acting

Being an animated film it’s hard to talk about the acting. The voice performances are great, the cast perfectly grasps and communicates the film’s intense focus on wacky and weird. They are believable and funny and mostly perfectly unmemorable. What is more memorable is the unusual animation style of the film. The characters are as crazily created and rendered as the world is wacky and weird. It’s a fresh style that makes for a welcome departure from the now quite familiar styles of more run of the mill animated features. However, unlike the first film, this one fails to move. Somehow CWACOM 1 was weird and wacky AND moving and heartfelt and, despite my trepidation, really grabbed me and sucked me in. I think it’s more the script than the delivery or the animation, but CWACOM II just doesn’t manage it.

Directing

The film flows nicely, it moves fast and is exciting and interesting. It’s funny and full of beans (there are actual beans in the film) and it hits all the right notes at all the right moments. But for all that it seemed a little one-dimensional to me. So many animated features manage to exist in that multi-dimensional space, where they’re great for kids and, on another level, great for biggies too. This one doesn’t have the sophistication for that multi-dimensionality.

So

Take the kids. They’ll love it and you’ll laugh and have a good time. But I think you may enjoy how much the kids are enjoying it even more than you’ll enjoy the film itself.

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If you are looking for some excitement, go and see Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

Joy Dembo

Review by Joy Dembo, married with a 21 yr old son, 29 yr old daughter &  a 9  mnth old grandson. Recruitment Response Handling Consultant and Freelance Copywriter, vegetarian and animal lover. Visit her blog.

This original Jack Ryan movie is a fast paced, action thriller, which is based on Tom Clancey’s character, but not related to any of the other Jack Ryan novel adaptations. In fact, the film has been dedicated to Tom Clancy, who passed away in 2013.

Jack Ryan, played by the gorgeous Chris Pine, is a promising Economics student in 2001.  After 9/11 he decides to quit his studies and enlist in the Marine Corps.  He is sent on a mission to Afghanistan, where he is badly injured when his helicopter is attacked and crashes.

He goes into rehab to learn how to walk again, and meets Dr Cathy Muller (played by Keira Knightley) The two of them hit it off and later get engaged.  Being a former Economics student, the CIA encourages him to complete his PhD and work undercover for them, identifying suspicious financial transactions which might indicate terrorist activity.MV5BMTY2MDkxNzYwNl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwOTM2MjE5MDE@._V1_SX640_SY720_

Some years later, Ryan is a successful Wall Street Compliance Officer, and discovers irregularities in market reaction to the Russian Federation losing a vote in the United Nations. Billions of Dollars controlled by Russian organizations are unaccounted for, and he can’t access any information relating to the missing money.  Ryan feels that the US economy is under threat and his superiors in the CIA decide that he should visit Moscow to investigate the activities of Vicktor Cheverin (played by Kenneth Branagh) and a group of Russian politicians who they believe are planning a terrorist attack on the US. His employer does business with Cheverin and, he is able to convince the brokerage that he needs to go to Moscow to audit Cheverin’s activities, thus ensuring that his cover is not compromised.

From the moment he gets there, there is not one dull moment, as an assassin, posing as a body guard tries to kill him!  Working hand in hand with the CIA’s Thomas Harper, (played by Kevin Costner), and using his former marine training, Ryan and Cheverin  play a dangerous game of cat and mouse, trying to outwit one another.  When Ryan’s fiancé arrives unexpectedly in Moscow she gets drawn into the fray as well, and the results make for absolutely nail biting entrainment.

The movie was directed by Kenneth Branagh and produced by Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Mace Neufield and David Barron, and was released through Paramount.

The movie was released on 17 January at cinemas countrywide and will provide great family entertainment for the adults and teens.

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Movie review: Emperor

Daniel janks 1Reviewer  Daniel Janks: actor, creative director, writer, cynic, father, husband. He was born in 1977 and has still not died. He loves many things, chief among which are his mythic wife and odd girl-child.  Visit his website.

Director Peter Webber
Writer Vera Blasi
Cast  Matthew Fox, Colin Moy, Tommy Lee Jones

AGE RATING: PG 13

This isn’t a film for the littlies. It’s not going to give them sleepless night, but they won’t get the plot, and they won’t enjoy the meandering narrative. Rather leave them at home and enjoy a night out with adult company.

Bottom Line

Emperor is a good film. It taught me a lot about what post World War II Japan was like, a subject which I knew little about and which has hardly been explored by Hollywood. It has solid performances, an interesting story and a fascinating premise. Yet, despite all these promising ingredients it failed to move me.

Plot

The movie tells the true story of General Bonner Fellers’ mission to decide the Emperor of Japan’s guilt or innocence in the perpetration of war crimes during World War II. What follows is a journey through the quagmire of honour, politics and shame that permeates both Japan and the devastated psyche of Gen Fellers himself.emperor-movie-feb-2013-2

Acting

The film is permeated with wonderful performances. Tommy Lee Jones delivers a delightful portrait of General Douglas MacArthur, and there are a number of delicate and nuanced cameos from the Japanese cast. Specifically noteworthy are Toshiyuki Nishida as Japanese General Kajima and Takatarô Kataoka as Emperor Hirohito. Mathew Fox takes the leads as General Fellers and delivers his usual intense and introspective performance. What worked well in the fairly shallow, short-form TV series Lost, struggles to sustain itself in the more in-depth long-form medium of film. His performance is good, but after a while seems a bit unrelentingly intense.

Directing

The film is well, if a bit oddly, directed. It progresses at a quite slow and steady pace, which I like, but which is quite unusual for a Hollywood movie. The pacing and rhythm of the piece definitely positions it as an art house film rather than a mainstream one. It give the film a rather bleak and morbid feel, which is very appropriate, and which is used to very good effect.

So

This is a good film. It’s a bit obscure at times and it’s definitely not for you if you only like high-paced action film, but it’s a good, interesting film.

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Movie review: Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom – 4/5

Daniel janks 1Reviewer  Daniel Janks: actor, creative director, writer, cynic, father, husband. He was born in 1977 and has still not died. He loves many things, chief among which are his mythic wife and odd girl-child.  Visit his website.

Director: Justin Chadwick
Writer:  William Nicholson
Cast : Idris Elba, Naomie Harris, Terry Pheto

It’s not often that a movie comes along that I think it’s important to take your children to, but one has arrived. And your children need to see it.

Bottom Line

Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom is the most excellent South African Film we’ve ever produced. Now people may argue that the film isn’t South African, after all it is directed by Justin Chadwick, written by William Nicholson, shot by Lol Crawley, and of course stars Idris Elba, all of whom are Brittish. But, to my mind, the film is undoubtedly South African. Not only was it produced by Anant Singh, a well known South African film producer, but is a South African project from start to finish. The project was born here, struggled to life here for close on 20 years, and came to fruition here, under the constant and vigilant care of many many people, some of whom were not South Africans, but most of whom were.

The film is excellent: it is finely written, delicately directed, superbly performed. It is a very fine film, moving in parts, fascinating in parts, compelling in parts. As the sum of its parts it is a very good movie, but in part it is also too large a film for its own good.

Plot

It seems almost needless to say, but Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom tells the story of fid13124the life of the Father of the New South Africa, Nelson Mandela. We follow his slow introduction to politics as a young lawyer, his rise to the leadership of the ANC and of Umkhonto We Sizwe, his arrest and incarceration, and his eventual release and election as South Africa’s first democratically elected president. We meet his co-conspirators, his family, his friends, his enemies and his allies. We walk the long path beside him and see a country born from many people’s struggle, and one man’s amazing capacity to forgive. The film spans five decades and covers a lot of ground. And herein lies the only rub.

The film tells too much story, and delivers too little detail. Moments that must have been tumultuous are glossed over, decisions that must have been hard-come-to seem almost flippant, and connections that must have run as deep and true as mine shafts are given too little time to take root in the audience’s mind and the film’s narrative. And while the film as a whole is superb, too many moments left me feeling desperate for more.

Acting

The acting is almost universally fantastic. Idris Elba, easily one of the finest actors of our time, delivers a subtle but starkly powerful performance. His Mandela is charming, witty, brilliant and fascinating. His portrayal of a man in a time and place all too ready to crush men, is deeply moving, yet delivered with such economy of performance and understated self awareness that it takes one’s breath away. Elba’s attention to detail in the capturing of Mandela’s very distinctive physical and vocal attributes is masterful and puts fully to shame the efforts that have come before it.

The supporting cast arrayed around him are also deeply watchable. From fellow British actor Naomi Harris to the otherwise fully South African cast, each and every character is beautifully formed and delicately delivered.

Directing

Justin Chadwick does a very good job handling the performances and nitty gritty details of what is often a complicated narrative. The pace of the film is well moderated with the narrative slowing down somewhat when necessary and moving steadily when the plot allows. The key characters, Mandela and Winnie, are portrayed in great depth and the harrowing story of Madiba’s life is told unflinchingly and is moving and meaningful.

So

You must see this film. It is an important story, told very well. It will prove to be a landmark film for South Africa and deserves a watch on the big screen. Go.

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