movies

  • No categories

articles

A Little Chaos : 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 Alan Rickman
Writer Jeremy Brock
Cast   Kate Winslet, Matthias Schoenaerts, Alan Rickman

AGE RESTRICTION: [R]

It’s not a kids movie, but there’s nothing in it that’ll make their eyes fall out of their skulls.

Bottom Line

This is a great film. It’s about love, and feminism, and French-ness and the ridiculousness of royalty. It’s about loss and learning to live again. It’s about taking chances and finding salvation in the chaos that lurks just beyond the borders of the illusion of order we impose on the world.

Plot

It’s the 17th century and Louis XIV is building the palace of Versailles. André Le Notre has been awarded the task of designing and building the palace’s epic gardens. When he appoints the unlikeliest of gardeners to take on the job of creating the little fountainry smack bang in the middle of it all, he gets more than he’s bargained for. Madame Sabine De Barra is a genius, but she’s a she, and she also has her own ideas about order, and chaos, life and love. Oh, and she might be mad.

A Little Chaos

Acting

With a great cast comes great acting. The film is helmed by Winslet and Schoenaerts as Le Notre and De Barra. Alan Rickman both directs and plays King Louis. The likes of Stanley Tucci, Helen McCrory and a host of others back them up.

Winslet is fabulous. Her De Barra is beautiful but real, a little mad but determined to ignore the fact, full of sorrow but also of wonder. She is fierce but delicate and the more lost she becomes in the pomp and primp of the royal court, the more beauty and solace she finds in her own simple life among her plants and trees.

Schoenaerts is a relative newcomer to Hollywood. He rocketed to renown in the Belgian film Bullhead and since has been ploughing through projects including The Drop, Far from the Madding Crowd and Rust and Bone. He is a great actor. Full of nuance and moody intensity. In this film he may be a bit too intensely moody. But it fits the role, and acts as a great counterpoint to Winslet’s more whimsical, feminine moodiness.

Directing and writing

The film sees yet another branching out of an actor into the behind the camera world of directing. Rickman, veteran actor famous for his roles in Die Hard, the Harry Potter films and Love Actually, seems as adept and in control, of the entire film as he was with his own characters and performances.

This film is whimsical and serious, at the same time. It’s funny and sad, charming and epic. And the delicate mix of these seemingly contradictory elements is no easy thing and very impressive. It’s this duality that gives the film its charm and beauty. It’s this juaxtapositon of moods and styles that lifts the film from the mundane to the awesome. And I attribute it all to Rickman’s direction.

So…

This film is wonderful. It’s charming and fun and sad and interesting. It loses it’s way a little towards the end, but not so’s you’d notice it overly. Go see it if you like gaudy costumes and intricate performances.

Click here to read other great movie reviews by Daniel Janks.

Note: If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the uniquely detailed free weekly newsletter for parents in Gauteng – Jozikids – or KwaZulu-Natal – Kznkids.

Mad Max Fury: 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 : George Miller
Writer: George Miller
Cast : Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult

AGE RESTRICTION: [R]

Look, it’s weird, and gory, and just not for kids. Hell, it’s Mad Max.

Bottom Line

Mad Max Rockatansky is back and he seems, finally, to actually have gone mad. According to my wife this is an inexplicable movie where a bunch of bad guy freaks drive around the desert in weird cars chasing a bunch of good guy freaks in more weird cars (or in this case a truck). My response was: “I know, right? Isn’t it awesome?”

Maybe you have to be a little steeped in the Mad Max genre to appreciate the film? Maybe you have to be a bit obsessed with what the world might look like once the whole enchilada’s gone to hell in a hand basket? Maybe you have to like movies that eschew conventional notions of plot, character and form? Maybe you just have to dig movies about bad guy freaks driving around the desert in weird cars chasing a bunch of good guy freaks in more weird cars (or in this case a truck)? Hell, I don’t know why I loved the film, but I did.

Plot

Max is still living loose and wild in a world ravaged by nuclear war and populated by a human race devoid of water, plants and … well … humanity. This time he’s up against Immortal Joe, the leader of the Citadel, and his army of white-flesh, skin-head, zealots. Max might start out just trying to survive (and get his car back), but in true Max style he just can’t turn his back on a bunch of pretty ladies in need. He’s soon caught up in a ‘mad’ mission to help Imperator Furiosa take Immortal Joe’s harem of breeding-wives to ‘the green place’, despite being chased by a bunch of bad guy freaks driving around the desert in weird cars.

Mad Max Fury

 

Acting

There’s a certain style to Miller’s films that includes a heightened, slightly hammy performance aesthetic. It works wonderfully to help create the feeling of a world gone crazy, where nothing normal can survive. Within this miasma of overacting Hardy is … interesting. He only says about two and half sentences in the whole film, and his performance is understated to the point of being almost indistinct. But within the subtlety there is magic. Amongst the chaos of the world, and the story, and the action, Hardy manages to create an island of calm and quiet. Max has always been a snowflake of normalcy, frozen around a grain of bonkers, floating in a blizzard of nutzoid, and Hardy has very delicately taken that motif and turned it into something pretty amazing to watch. It’s easy to disregard the performance as too … nothing. But look a little closer and I think he’s doing … something incredible.

The two other featured actors, Charlize Theron and Nicholas Hoult provide opposing counterpoints to Hardy’s subtlety. Hoult is flying his full George Miller colours and delivers a really good, half crazed, half delicate portrayal of a young man who’s grown up in world full of madmen. Theron, I think doesn’t crack the style. She’s too moody and sullen, too serious and melodramatic. I think it’s an easy trap to fall into with a Miller movie. His work is a unique mix of melodrama and the absurd. It must be a very wobbly line to have to tread. But I don’t think she cracked it.

Directing and writing

There are few really visionary writers and directors working in film today. There are many excellent storytellers, many powerful builders of movies, many masters of the craft. But there are precious few actual visionaries, people who have the power to envision a world, and bring it life. George Miller is one. His original trilogy, which depicts a world slowly and steadily sliding into madness and ruin, are masterpieces of transportive storytelling. In Fury Road he takes us back to the same world, now treated with modern film-making technology and even more engrossing because of it. The slow and inexorable decay of the land, and the people who still cling to it, which started in Mad Max and continued in The Road Warrior and Beyond Thunderdome, is taken yet further in Fury Road. Will there be a fifth instalment? Hard to say, because it’s difficult to see how either the planet, or its people could fall any further.

So…

As my wife is all to quick to point out, this film is not for everyone. But if you’re a Max fan, if you’re an action fan, if you’re a post-apocalypse fan, then see it. It’s a brilliant art-house mega-action film.

Click here to read other great movie reviews by Daniel Janks.

Note: If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the uniquely detailed free weekly newsletter for parents in Gauteng – Jozikids – or KwaZulu-Natal – Kznkids.

Pitch Perfect 2 : 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 Elizabeth Banks
Writer Kay Cannon
Cast  Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Hailee Steinfeld

AGE RESTRICTION: [PG13]

There one reference to a vagina. That’s about it.

Bottom Line

Yes I’m a 38 year old man with healthy beard, it doesn’t mean I can’t like acapella movies set in college and high-school about a group of loser girls who band together to find their cool, find their voice, and find themselves. And I did, hell I loved this movie. And you will too.

Plot

The AcaBellas are back. They’re still at Barden College and they’re still singing without instruments. This time they’re after the world championship title and battling it out against German powerhouses: DAS SOUND MACHINE. You’ll be glad to know that the film does not start with an embarrassing incident where a Bella projectile vomits on stage, disgracing the group and leaving them with a lot to prove. Nope, this time one of the Bellas moons the flag and flashes her … um … her … uh … well she flashes the president. After that it’s an uphill struggle to regain their position, and their good standing. With the end of college looming, the girls are all contemplating life after school, and life after the Bellas.

Pitch Perfect 2

Acting

Look, it’s not The Hurricane, ok? It is what it is, and that’s cool. Each actor brings her (and his) own flavour to the mix. There’s cute acting, there’s serious acting, there’s over the top acting, there’s even some really good acting. But somehow all these different styles and modes all seem to come together to form a quirky macrocosmic performance that is a joy to behold. This is truly an ensemble piece, because without each other the individuals would all look a little silly. Hey! Just like the Bellas themselves. Isn’t that something.

It’s also worth noting that the average age of the Bellas is somewhere around 30, so they do pretty well for a supposed bunch of college kids.

Directing and writing

Elizabeth Banks is pretty close to becoming a household name. She’s been around for a long time, and made some very very good films. Most recently she’s been sublime as Effie Trinket in the Hunger Games movies. And now, it appears, she’s trying her hand at directing as well. Pitch Perfect 2 is her first full feature film. But you couldn’t tell it. She handles the cast, the story, the singing, the good jokes, the bad jokes and the disparate modes and methods of performance with old-hand ease. This is slightly silly movie, but by no means an easy thing to create. If anything this must be one of the hardest types of films to helm. But Banks has managed it flawlessly.

So…

If you have a late model, low mileage, model year 2000 – 2005 teenage girl at home, then make a date and take her to the movies. Like as not you’ll have as good a time as she will. And if you won’t, let me know, I’ll take her. (In a non-creepy, non-weird way, of course)

Click here to read other great movie reviews by Dan Janks.

Note: If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the uniquely detailed free weekly newsletter for parents in Gauteng – Jozikids – or KwaZulu-Natal – Kznkids.

Child 44 : 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: Daniel Espinosa
Writer:  Richard Price
Cast: Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, Noomi Rapace

AGE RESTRICTION: [R]

It’s dark and moody, but it’s not too gory or graphic.

Bottom Line

Child 44 is a good film. It’s a bit all over the place and tries to be too many things all at the same time. But it’s a good, interesting, drama-serial killer-love story-historic-spy-noir-flik.

Plot

Leo is a policeman in Soviet Russia in the 1950s. A decorated war hero he enjoys all the luxuries of the privileged few. But there’s something rotten in the state of socialist communism, and the sinister tendrils of despair are slowly fastening a death grip around Leo’s perfect life. When his friend’s son is killed, and Leo makes the mistake of wanting to investigate the murder, the vice starts to tighten. The simplest and purest intentions quickly lead to the systematic destruction of Leo’s entire life. But no matter where they send him, or what they do to him, Leo will stop at nothing to find the man who is killing children, and stop him.

Child 44 is based on a book by Tom Rob Smith. And whereas in a book one can tell a story that delves into a plethora of themes, subjects and genres, films are generally better suited to a more singular focus. Child 44 tries to examine too many things. Soviet Socialist corruption and brutality, the truths and lies of a marriage built on illusion, one man’s struggle for integrity in an evil world, nail biting suspense and intrigue, the dark fires that burn in tortured men’s souls. Each on it’s own would be a fascinating story. Two or three combined would make a great film. All of them together end up washing into each other and muddying the narrative waters to the point where the film is almost too lost in its own complexity to allow the audience in. I say almost, I enjoyed the film, I recommend it, but it’s dangerously close to falling into the trap of having too much narrative and too little story.

Untitled

Acting

Leo, the lead character, is played by Tom Hardy. I frikken love Tom Hardy. I named my snake after Tom Hardy, literally. In my eyes he can do no wrong. And in Child 44 he doesn’t disappoint. The film is not as powerful a vehicle for his talents as others he’s chosen like Bronson, Locke, Warrior, The Dark Knight or ,hopefully, the upcoming Mad Max Fury Road. But he shines in the role and brings his usual mix of broody intensity and verisimilituic realism to the role. He is supported by a fantastic cast. The peripheral characters in the film are all fairly flimsy and half formed. But the like of Noomi Rapace, Gary Oldman, Joel Kinnaman and Jason Clarke manage to breathe life and sympathy into them.

Directing and writing

The film is well handled by Daniel Espinosa. It has a solid pace, good character development and paints a fascinating picture of a dark and scary time and place in history. Despite it’s too epic reach Espinoza manages to keep the film rooted in the interpersonal relationships between the characters, where all good films live and die. Despite its flaws it remains an engrossing tale of good and evil, right and wrong, and the struggle of a lone man against a world set on destroying him.

So…

See it. Enjoy it. Turn a blind eye to its failings and revel in its strengths.

Click here to read other great reviews of movies by Dan Janks.

Note: If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the uniquely detailed free weekly newsletter for parents in Gauteng – Jozikids – or KwaZulu-Natal – Kznkids.

Barbie™ in Princess Power: a review by Tiffany Markman

Tiffany-Markman-latest-feb-13.-jpg-150x150By Tiffany Markmancopywriter, editor and mom to an almost-four-year-old, who tries to balance her workaholism with cuddles, bookscaffeine & reining in her intrinsic kugelry. Follow her on twitter.

Imagine this.

We’re standing in line at the preview of Barbie™ in Princess Power. There’s a real, live human being dressed as the main character, Super Sparkle. And my fascinated three-year-old turns to me and says, ‘Mom, when is that lady going to fly?’ She’s a believer. And she loved every minute of this film.

Here’s the story

Kara is a smart, ambitious and beautifully dressed princess who wants to do more than attend parades and master the royal wave. She, together with her geeky twin besties, dreams of a community vegetable garden – and the miracle of human flight.Barbie movie

(Note: As a non-Barbie-watcher, I was confused by the fact that Barbie ‘stars’ as Kara who is a princess who becomes Super Sparkle. But I got it. Eventually.)

After being kissed by a magic butterfly, Kara discovers that she has super-powers. These transform her into Super Sparkle, a crime-fighter in retro boots, and she flies around the kingdom rescuing stolen handbags, exchanging repartee with petty criminals and being photographed by the public and the nerdy blogger Wes.

But every story has a villain and this time it’s the creatively bearded Baron von SomethingEvilSounding and his reptilian sidekick, Bruce. Baron wants to eliminate the king and take over the throne, which he refers to as ‘my precioussssss’.

There’s also Kara’s jealous cousin, Karin (it feels like everyone’s names start with ‘K’,), who catches the magic butterfly and becomes Dark Sparkle – Kara’s rival.

What to expect

Expect lots of pink, lots of glitter, a gorgeous castle, nice animation, cute songs, a couple of clever super-hero moments (watch out for Spiderman hands), and two of the most annoying parents since Mary Poppins’s Mr and Mrs Banks. Expect your little one, aged between 3 and 8, to absolutely love this movie. And expect multiple requests for capes, wings and ‘pink and purple’ hair.

Barbie™ in Princess Power releases this Friday 23 Jan 2015 at Nu Metro cinemas.

Click here to watch the trailer.

Note: If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the uniquely detailed free weekly newsletter for parents in Gauteng – Jozikids – or KwaZulu-Natal – Kznkids.

Big Hero 6 : 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.

Rating: 4/5

Directors: Don Hall, Chris Williams
Writer:  Jordan Roberts, Daniel Gerson
Cast : Ryan Potter, Scott Adsit, Jamie Chung

AGE RESTRICTION: [PG]

It’s a kids’ movie, there’s action and a guy dies, but it’s a kids’ movie.

Bottom Line

This is a great film. It’s nonsense and it has no higher purpose, but it’s a great film. It’s funny and cute and endearing and charming and exciting and beautiful and a little weird. It’s everything it should be, and it’s great.

Plot

Hiro lives in San Fran Sokiyo (the entire film seems to be set in an amalgamated world that’s half Japanesey and Americanesey) where he uses his genius mind to build robots and win bot fights between little remote controlled gladiators. When his big brother and mentor falls victim to a fatal accident Hiro is cast adrift in a world without purpose or direction. But he’s soon rescued by Baymax, his brother’s inflatable robot. Together they uncover the truth behind Hiro’s brother’s death and form the Big Hero 6, a team of tech powered super heroes.

Untitled

Acting

There aren’t a million big names in this film, in fact the whole production seems to have flown under the radar a little, with little fanfare or hoopla, but the voice talent is excellent. Each character is perfectly cast, with each adding a different dimension to the storyline and the film. The animation, a key feature in the film’s ‘performances’ is exquisite. There is just the right amount of stylisation and unique quirk to the world and the characters, and the overall levels of detail, movement, vision are awesome to behold. It’s a 3D film, and the 3D rounds out the truly magnificent depth and breadth of the animated world.

Directing and writing

The script is quirky and charming, the characters all unique and well rounded individuals. The storyline is a little hammy in points but is generally really exciting and compelling. Baymax, the central character, next to Hiro, is truly memorable and will, I think, go on to be an icon of the genre. The film is very well paced and the highs and lows flow naturally and organically throughout the film. This is an extremely well put together movie.

So

Great, it’s just great. Seriously it’s great.

Click here to read other great movie reviews by Daniel Janks

Note: If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the uniquely detailed free weekly newsletter for parents in Gauteng – Jozikids – or KwaZulu-Natal – Kznkids.

Trash : 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 Stephen Daldry
Writer   Richard Curtis
Cast     Rooney Mara, Martin Sheen, Wagner Moura

AGE RESTRICTION: [?]
This is a movie about kids, but it isn’t a kids movie. There’s nothing major to freak out a young adult, but it’s def not for the kiddie-winkles.

Bottom Line

Loved it! It’s just a great film. Exciting, interesting, scary, suspenseful, satisfying, and full of colour and character. It’s an art film, because it’s mostly in Portuguese and because it’s way different from most of what Hollywood churns out, but that is its greatest strength.

Plot

After finding a discarded wallet on the trash dump that they scavenge for a living, three boys embark on a quest to solve the mystery it contains and right the wrongs that delivered it into their hands. Helped by a wayward priest and a foreign English teacher they take on the city’s most powerful “…because it is right.”

Untitled

Acting

If you’ve seen some of the other movies that have come out of Rio De Janeiro in the past few years, films like City of God, City of Men (actually a TV miniseries), Elite Squad and Elite Squad: The Enemy Within, then you’ll know that their actors are amazing, bringing a vitality and realism to the screen seldom seen amongst the Hollywood sheen. Trash is no exception. All the performances are gritty and enthralling. Amazing since many of them are delivered by children. The three leads of the film are no older than 15 and they are all brilliant. The adults in the film all hold their own with the kids, from the saintly Jose Angelo to the scariest cop in Rio, all are breathtaking. The cast is rounded out, for a little punch, by Hollywood greats Rooney Mara, and Martin Sheen, who are both their usual brilliant selves. It’s worth seeing for the performances alone.

Directing and writing

This is where things get a little weird. All the films I mentioned above are helmed and made by local Brazillians. Their films are intensely and intrinsically linked to their locales and their environments, embodying and encapsulating the frenetic energy and pulse of Rio and Brazil. Something that feels like it could only be done by a local. But apparently not, Trash accomplishes this to no lesser degree. But it is directed by British director Stephen Daldry, known for films like Billy Elliot, The Hours, The Reader and Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. All very different films to Trash. But Daldry doesn’t disappoint. The film is racey and pacey and full of life. The small moments are as powerful as the big ones and the characters are deeply seductive.

The writing delivers another knock to the head surprise. Richard Curtis has previously penned films like Notting Hill, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Love Actually, About Time, to mention a few. HE THE BRITISH ROM-COM GUY! Well not this week aparently because here he’s written a taut and compelling action/drama/thriller in Portuguese. And done it as well as he’s done anything.

So

This is a great film. It’s something a little different, and that’s why you should see. That and the fact that it’s brilliant.

Note: If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the uniquely detailed free weekly newsletter for parents in Gauteng – Jozikids – or KwaZulu-Natal – Kznkids.

The Boxtrolls is a sweet animated 3D fantasy adventure.

Joy DemboReviewed by Joy Dembo, blessed to have a wonderful husband, a 23 yr old son, a married daughter, a 2 year old grandson who is the light of my life and 2 fur babies. Recruitment Response Handling Consultant, interview coach, and Freelance Copywriter, vegetarian and animal lover. Visit her blog.

I’m not a huge fan of animated movies but I loved this cute movie! Its got it all… adventure, comedy, wonderful effects and an exciting and heart-warming story line.

The movie is set in England in the early 1800’s, where we find the people of Cheesebridge terrified by the rumours that Boxtrolls are kidnapping and murdering little children. The Town’s grotesque Pest Exterminator, Archibald Snatcher, makes a deal with the mayor, Lord Portley-Rind, offering to capture and exterminate all the Boxtrolls in exchange for a seat on the city council. Council members wear White Hats and eat copious amounts of cheese, and even though Snatcher is allergic to cheese, he wants a white top hat and all the privileges that go with it.images

Snatcher’s claims are actually nonsensical as the boxtrolls are cute, harmless little creatures who dress in cardboard boxes and live in a cavern underground and emerge at night to scavenge through the trash. They are clever inventors and use what they retrieve to invent all kinds of ingenious equipment.

A human baby boy, named Eggs, lives amongst them and is cared for by a Boxtroll named Fish.

The movie fast forwards 10 years and Eggs starts noticing that Boxtrolls are disappearing at a rapid rate, as Snatcher manages to capture more and more of them.

Through circumstances, Eggs teams up with Lord Portly-Rind’s spoilt but neglected daughter, and once he has convinced her that the Boxtrolls are harmless, and they are the ones being hounded and exterminated, she joins him in his quest to put things right.

They embark on a wild adventure which will keep the kids riveted and the adults entertained with the wry humour!

The 3D effects are spectacular and the characters very colourful and lovable.

The movie is based on the book “Here be Monsters”, written by Alan Snow, and was produced by Laika. Directors, Graham Annable and Anthony Stacchi, are supported by an all star voice cast, including Isaac Hampstead-Wright, Ben Kingsley and Elle Fanning.

The movie releases on 27 November 2014, at cinemas countrywide, just in time for the December school holidays.

Note: If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the uniquely detailed free weekly newsletter for parents in Gauteng – Jozikids – or KwaZulu-Natal – Kznkids

The Drop: 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  Michaël R. Roskam
Writer   Dennis Lehane
Cast      Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, James Gandolfini

 

Rating:  5/5

AGE RESTRICTION: [R]

There is much to keep the kiddies away. This is a slow paced, suspenseful, thriller with more than it’s fair share of gore, be it ever so subtle and understated.

Bottom Line

It isn’t often I give a film 5/5/. It requires a special mixture of style, panache, deep integrity, subtle grandeur and the ability to utterly enthral me. The Drop knocks it out of the park in every way.

Plot

Bob is a quiet, gentle and unassuming bar tender at Cousin Marv’s Bar. But there’s a wrinkle in the soft simple life he leads. Cousin Marv’s is a drop bar. A repository for weekly book takings for the local Chechen mob. When the bar is robbed Bob and Cousin Marv are caught up in a bad situation which is worsened when Bob rescues a badly beaten puppy from a woman’s trash can and he and her set about nursing the pup back to life. Between the mad bloodthirsty mobsters and the dog’s chilling owner there’s danger in every corner. And I do mean EVERY corner.

Untitled

Acting

Well it’s simply sublime. There are different kinds of amazing performances. There are the Russel Crowe Gladiator performances with grand gesturing and heart-on-your-sleeve emotional super-text. Something akin to theatre in its far from subtle posturing and conflict. Then there’s your Tom Hanks Cast Away performances that embody at once both a very moving authenticity and a larger than life, highly performative quality. Lastly there’s the Paul Newman The Verdict kind of performance that is delivered so subtly, so delicately and with such exquisite calm that it near blows the back of your head off and you try insanely to swim down into it until you are immersed in it wholly. All are awesome, in my opinion only one is rare and precious.

It is this kind of rare, precious infinitely subtle but magnificently powerful performance that Tom Hardy, James Gandolfini and Matthias Schoenaerts deliver in The Drop. Hardy’s Bob is enthralling in his simplicity and seeming innocence. Gandolfini’s Cousin Bob simmers with danger and disaster and Schoenaerts’ Eric Deeds is one of the scariest characters I’ve ever seen on screen. Their true natures, when revealed are bone chilling and moving.

Directing and writing

This is director Michaël R. Roskams second feature film. It seems surprising that such a seemingly inexperienced director could produce such a magnificent film, but perhaps not so much when we remember that his  film, the Danish film Bullhead (starring Matthias Schoenaerts) was nominated for a best foreign film oscar in 2011.

The Drop is exquisitely directed. In a similar vein to the styling of the lead performances the directing is subtle and understated. There’s no flashy cinematography, no stylish jump cuts or edgy editing. This is quiet excellence. The film oozes across the screen. Advancing on you like a lava flow, slow and inexorable. Unstoppable. At times the plot is slow, but it is never stagnant and always the soft sense of dread and foreboding is being built beneath the plot. When that bubble bursts it does so implosivley and with echoing effect.

This as much due to the writing as it is the directing. Dennis Lehane, long one of my favourite authors turns his hand to feature screenwriting for the first time. He’s had a number of novels adapted for film including Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone and Shutter Island, and he’s penned some episode scripts for shows like The Wire and Boardwalk Empire, but The Drop is his first full length screenplay. Adapted from one of his own short stories the script is brilliant. Embodying his unique, soft spoken authenticity and his unerring ability to sew suspense and danger into the normal and innocent.

So

Hell, I gave it 5/5. I think it’s near perfect. Go see it. Just go.

Tarzan 3D : 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.

Rating: 1/5

Director: Reinhard Kloos

Writer :  Reinhard Klooss

Cast  :    Kellan Lutz, Spencer Locke, Jaime Ray Newman

AGE RESTRICTION: [PG]

It’s a kid’s film. So take the kids.

Bottom Line

This isn’t a good film. The story is a bizarre and incomprehensible take on a classic narrative that has stood the test of time practically unblemished. The animation is far below the standards we’ve come to expect from contemporary visual effects. And the rhythms and nuances of the film are just off enough to be jarring.

TARZAN

Plot

Well we all know the story of Tarzan right. Boy’s family dies in the jungle leaving him to be raised by apes. A young woman encounters the man-ape many years later and takes him back into society where he finds civilised life too full of prettiness, pomp and ceremony to be endured.

It’s a fantastic story with all the nuances and subtleties a tale could ask for. But for some reason this film decided it wasn’t enough. The writer director adds a whole subplot about an evil energy company and an alien asteroid. Why? Let me know if you can figure it out.

Acting

The voice work is perfectly good. Voices are well matched to characters and the performances are absolutely fine. There’s no Robin Williams’ Genie, no James Earl Jones’ Mufasa, no Steve Carrel’s Gru, but they’re fine. It’s the animation that really lets down the film. The style of the film is extremely out of date, with the humans looking stiff and fake. It felt like pre-Toy Story 1 stuff to me. To make matters worse, the animators sought to make some aspects of the film as photorealistic as they could, with any of the animal characters looking incredibly realistic. Unfortunately with the blocky, jerky humans alongside them they just look out of place. Plus we’ve come to expect a certain level of stylisation in modern animated film, a look and feel that gives them their character and charm. This film is severely lacking in character and charm.

Directing and writing

As so much of an animated film is a realisation of a director’s vision, perhaps even more so than a live action film, I cannot but put the blame for the film’s failings directly at the  director’s feet. Plus Klooss wrote the films well, so I’m afraid it seems all down to him that this film, a mutated retelling of a story already told many times, and told well, really falls flat.

So

Give it a miss. The kids can catch it on TV.

Click here to read other great movie reviews by Daniel Janks

Note: If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the uniquely detailed free weekly newsletter for parents in Gauteng – Jozikids – or KwaZulu-Natal – Kznkids.