Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Don Quixote Review

Director: Pavel Bubelnikov Composer: Ludwig Minkus Choreographer: Alexander Gorsky after Marius Petipa Cast: Olesia Novikova, Leonid Sarafanov, Nikolai Subrovsky, Yana Selina


Summary Review:
Don Quixote is a spirited tale of forbidden love and the bitter competition between youth and age, performed by an exceptionally talented company of dancers.

Last weekend I conducted an experiment. Ster Kinekor Cinema Nouveau theatres regularly screen world-renowned ballet performances and I watched the Bolshoi Ballet Company's recorded performance of Don Quixote to see how a ballet measured up as a film.

Admittedly, the elegant and glamorous atmosphere found in a theatre is missing, but there are also many advantages. For one, it is much easier to follow the storyline in the dancing, if you're unfamiliar with it to start with. Another pro is that you get a much closer look at the more subtle nuances of the dancers' performances.

The young principals give particularly feisty and joyous renditions. Don Quixote's story includes an elopement, several duels, castanets, tambourines, a band of gypsies, a couple of flamenco dancers and an Asian belly dancer.

Ballet is not for everyone and if you've tried it before and know for a fact that it's not your thing, then, well, okay.

But if you've never seen a ballet in your life, Don Quixote is a brilliant show to get a taste of the fun it can be.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Last Station Review

Director: Michael Hoffman Screenplay: Michael Hoffman, based on the novel by Jay Parini Cast: James McAvoy, Helen Mirren, Christopher Plummer, Paul Giamatti Time: 113min Age Restriction: 13SN


Summary Review:

The Last Station is a biting satire about discovering one's own voice, ideas and opinions from amongst all that you've been taught.

Valentin Bulgakov (James McAvoy) is a naive, over-eager, star-struck youth who has been granted the sought-after position of Leo Tolstoy's (Christopher Plummer) personal secretary.

But as he gets to know Tolstoy, Valentin begins to see the downward spiral of his hero, as Tolstoy is torn between Sofia Tolstaya (Helen Mirren), the love of his life, and Vladimir Chertkov (Paul Giamatti), his colleague and dear friend, who has magnified Tolstoy's writings and musings into a teaching that has gained a cult following.

It dawns on Valentin that the ideals he himself follows religiously are simply one man's attempts at making sense of life.

The Last Station shows how the healthy revelation of one man can be turned into a destructive religious doctrine when in the wrong hands.

A wonderful, bittersweet film,
The Last Station is filled with a mixture of wry, caustic humour and deep tragedy (it's just a pity about the graphic sex scene, which spawned my only reservations about an otherwise philosophical delight). 

Friday, March 26, 2010

What Happened To The Review?

As some of you (loyal) followers may have noted, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays tend to be my days for posting reviews. So then where's today's review, you may ask?

Well, a few weeks ago I met Gerhard Potgieter (aka @diekloon) on Twitter and we started chatting. Gerhard is a very talented developer, who's done some great work, and he has recently started a blog for bloggers and other people interested in the South African online environment. If you're a new blogger, I'd definitely suggest checking out some of his posts on iGeek - he's got some great tips!

So anyway, Gerhard recently invited me to be a guest blogger on his site and to post a few film reviews every now and then. Yesterday was my debut (yay!) and you can check out his site to see my review of The Tooth Fairy

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Crazy Heart Review

Director: Scott Cooper Screenplay: Scott Cooper, based on the novel by Thomas Cobb Cast: Jeff Bridges, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Colin Farrell, Robert Duvall Time: 112min Age Restriction: 13SL


Summary Review:
Crazy Heart is a melancholic country film of a defeated man's slow climb out of despair. 

Bad Blake (Jeff Bridges) is a 57-year-old has-been, deadbeat country singer who spends his days smoking, boozing and watching porn, so that when he goes out to play a gig in the local pub/bar he's too drunk to put on a decent show.

But you realise he wasn't always like this. Once a bestselling, sought-after country and western star, a series of disappointments and losses have now left him bitter.

Then Bad meets Jean (Maggie Gyllenhaal), a young reporter with a son and he falls in love, which inspires him to turn his life around.

Filled with toe-tapping, bluesy country music, Crazy Heart speaks of the need for human affirmation and support to overcome personal struggles.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Blindside Review

Director: John Lee Hancock Screenplay: John Lee Hancock Cast: Sandra Bullock, Quinton Aaron, Tim McGraw, Kathy Bates Time: 129min Age Restriction: PG LV


Summary Review:
The Blindside is a heart-warming tale of compassion and the courage sometimes needed to do the right thing.

Michael is about to turn eighteen. He is nearly finished with school, but has not learned much – all his teachers have simply passed him on to the next grade to avoid having to deal with him.

This is a great frustration to the Christian school where he has now been admitted with the help of the school's sports coach, who sees great potential in Michael.

But Michael is a foster child with no home and Leigh Anne Tuohy (Sandra Bullock) decides to take him in to her home. Michael becomes part of the family and together they help him to improve his grades and hone his sporting talent.

The Blindside is a touching movie that will melt the hardest heart and the driest tear ducts. The fortitude Michael displays in resisting the gang culture of his peers is matched by the fierce conviction and encouragement he brings out in Leigh Anne. Sandra Bullock won an Oscar for her performance and you can see it was well-earned.

By depicting the struggle to break stereotypes and taking bold steps to overcome the fear of the unknown, The Blindside shows how people flourish when shown a bit of love and respect.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Box Review

Director: Richard Kelly Screenplay: Richard Kelly, based on a short story by Richard Matheson Cast: Cameron Diaz, Frank Langella, James Marsden Time: 119min Age Restriction: 13V

Sci-fi Thriller

Summary Review:
The Box is an eerie, retro sci-fi thriller about the human struggle to put others' wellbeing before one's own.

Nora Lewis (Cameron Diaz) is a schoolteacher, whose husband, Arthur (James Marsden) works at NASA. They have a son called Walter and together they are a typical '70s family, seemingly happy though they are living "paycheck-to-paycheck".

But their happiness gets tested when a box is delivered to their doorstep. Then the disfigured Mr Stewart arrives at their home and explains that when the button on the box is pressed, someone in the world (who they don't know) will die, but they will receive one million dollars in cash (this scene was very reminiscent of Dr Evil).

The Lewises now have to choose between assuring their own financial security and someone else's life, in a very literal metaphor of the kind of battles we all go through every day – putting our own interests aside for the will of others.

I really didn't know what to make of The Box. It seemed very off-balance with fine comic actors, like Diaz and Marsden, playing the leads in a seriously eerie thriller. What's more, they didn't even have their "drama faces" on; it seemed like they were in full comedy mode, while the script and the flow of the film was going in a whole other direction. Quite puzzling.

After a series of twists, The Box gets very weird, following the supernatural sci-fi trends of the '70s. Coupled with the soft transitions of the cinematography, the loopy storyline made me we wonder at times whether The Box was not perhaps meant to be a spoof film.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Remember Me Review

Director: Allen Coulter Screenplay: Will Fetters Cast: Robert Pattinson, Emilie de Ravin, Chris Cooper, Pierce Brosnan Time: 113min Age Restriction: 13SLV


Summary Review:
Remember Me is an emotionally taxing film about hard romance and the tension the loss of a loved one puts on family relationships.

Tyler (Robert Pattinson) has had a bitter relationship with his aloof father since his brother, Michael, passed away. Ally's father has been overprotective of her since her mother was murdered ten years ago.

These two wounded youngsters fall in love and begin a relationship that seems doomed, as Ally's dad is the cop who arrested Tyler after he broke up a street fight outside a bar one night.

Many of my female friends have said a part of them doesn't want to watch Remember Me, because it looks too sad and emotional. Well, they're right. There is a lot of overwrought emotion, but not much intelligent content.

Remember Me is a morally loose film about a romance between two rebellious, misunderstood people trying to cope with loss, hurt and opposed love.