Friday, January 22, 2010

Brothers Review

Director: Jim Sheridan Screenplay: David Benioff Cast: Tobey Maguire, Jake Gyllenhaal, Natalie Portman, Bailee Madison Time: 104min Age Restriction: 13LV


Summary Review
Brothers is a tight and well-crafted film about the harrowing effects of war, not only on soldiers, but also on their families. 

Sam Cahill (Tobey Maguire) is a US Marine fighting in Afghanistan in 2007. One day the army chopper he's flying in crashes and all the occupants are presumed dead.

Tommy (Jake Gyllenhaal), Sam's brother, freshly released from prison does his best to help Sam's beloved wife, Grace, played by Natalie Portman, and his two young daughters, Isabelle (Bailee Madison in a Golden Globe-nominated performance) and Maggie, deal with their grief. The situation gets complicated when it turns out that Sam's not dead after all. 

Brothers is a tense and atmospheric film handled with empathy and grace. If you go to the cinema for escapism, you won't enjoy it, because it is one big dose of realness, dealing with real horrible circumstances and real human people. The beauty of it is that it doesn't milk the emotions or draw out the difficult scenes; it deftly sets the tone and then moves on.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Invictus Review

Director: Clint Eastwood Screenplay: Anthony Peckham, based on John Carlin’s book, Playing the Enemy Cast: Morgan Freeman, Matt Damon, Tony Kgoroge, Scott Eastwood Time: 131mins Age Restriction: PGL


Summary Review:
Invictus is a moving film of a nation’s forgiveness, courage, hope and reconciliation that will leave you with a lot to ponder and, if you’re South African, with a deep sense of pride.

Based on the true South African events of 1994 and 1995, Invictus is a film that tells the story of President Nelson Mandela’s inauguration after 27 years in prison. This was South Africa’s first ever fully representative democratic election. The following year, South Africa hosted the 1995 Rugby World Cup and the SA rugby team, the Springboks, went on to win.

The Invictus film captures Mandela’s conviction that a success in the World Cup will be a big step toward uniting the nation, hopefully bringing reconciliation among the races after the country’s many years of apartheid.

Morgan Freeman plays Mandela with great authority, while Matt Damon as Springbok captain, Francois Pienaar, succeeds at one of the best South African accents on film ever.

I must confess, I spent much of Invictus weeping – not because it was sad at all, but because, as a South African, I am exceptionally patriotic and this film really gave me a new perspective on the remarkable progress we have made as a nation. The scene where the Springboks go to a rural township to coach the young boys is particularly poignant.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Departures Review

Director: Yojiro Takita Screenplay: Kundo Koyama Cast: Masahiro Motoki, Tsutomu Yamazaki, Ryoko Hirosue Time: 130mins Age Restriction: 10M

Comedy/human interest

Summary Review:
This charming, whimsical film will keep you intrigued and gently reveals valuable lessons about acceptance, respect and that it is never too late to forgive. 


Departures is a fascinating, Oscar-winning Japanese that film follows Daigo Kobayashi, a cellist in a Tokyo orchestra who moves back to the rural village he grew up in when the orchestra dissolves and he finally has to face that he’ll never be a good enough musician to make as a professional cellist.

He is hired on the spot for the first job he applies for; not knowing that he’s juts signed up to be a coffineer, who prepares dead bodies for encoffinment. He keeps his job secret from his family and friends out of shame, but the more he learns the more he comes to see the pivotal role he can play in helping families come to terms with the loss of their loved ones.

Although this may sound extremely morbid and depressing, the film has an innocent and ironically humorous tone that wins one over in the first five minutes, and the movie revels in the beautiful Japanese scenery and the gorgeous Asian people, giving insight into this ancient culture.

500 Days of Summer Review

Director: Marc Webb Screenplay: Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Zooey Deschanel, Geoffrey Arend, Chloe Moretz Time: 95mins Age Restriction: 13LM

Romantic comedy

Summary Review:
If you’ve ever been confused, bruised or amused by love, this film will engage you fully, giving you several belly laughs and perhaps a few tears while you’re at it.

As the narrator himself points out so adamantly, 500 Days of Summer is not a love story, but “a story of Boy meets Girl”. It follows the meeting and subsequent relationship of said Boy (Tom) and Girl (Summer). Boy is looking for his soul mate; Girl doesn’t believe in love.

Therein lies my only reservation about the movie’s values: they’re not married, not even in love, but they’re living together? Having sex? If they break up, it’s going to hurt bad enough without the separation of souls in a union as intimate as sex.

As always, Zooey Deschanel is simply lovely as the Summer of the title and Joseph Gordon-Levitt is equally endearing as Tom. By the way, if during the film you’re wondering where the heck you’ve seen him before (as I wondered), he recently appeared in G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra, has been in several TV sitcoms and shows, and had a significant role in 1999’s 10 Things I Hate About You.

One of the must-see films of this season; this is a beautiful, bittersweet story that hits very close to home and was nominated for two Golden Globes.

Julie & Julia Review

Director: Norah Ephron Screenplay: Norah Ephron, Amy Adams Cast: Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, Stanley Tucci, Chris Messina Time: 110mins Age Restriction: PG


Summary Review:
Julie & Julia is an inspiring film that illustrates the oft-spoken advice that you don’t achieve success by striving to be successful, but rather by working hard at your passions and what you believe in.


The incredibly gifted Meryl Streep plays Julia Child (in a Golden Globe-winning performance), America’s first female TV chef, before her rise to fame. She is matched by the delightful Amy Adams as Julie Powell, a 21st century call centre insurance clerk who begins a blog challenge to complete all 524 recipes in Julia Child’s celebrated cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

The film follows these two women, Julia as she tries to occupy her time in Paris by learning to cook like the natives, and Julie as she gains confidence by setting and achieving her goal to finish the recipes in 365 days.

Julie & Julia is a wonderful feel-good film about two ordinary women achieving extraordinary success through the simple pursuit of their passions.