Monday, May 24, 2010

Prince of Persia Review

Director: Mike Newell Screenplay: Jordan Mechner, Boaz Yakin, Doug Miro and Carlo Bernard Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton, Ben Kingsley, Alfred Molina Time: 114min Age Restriction: 10V


Summary Review:
Prince of Persia is a mystical epic telling the same old story in a more exotic location with better effects.

Dastan (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a street orphan adopted by the King of Persia when the king sees him display boldness and integrity in the marketplace one day.

Fifteen years later, Dastan and his two brothers, the king's sons by birth, are on their way home from war crusade, when they come across a city, which they attack and capture.

Tragedy strikes, however, when Dastan is accused of the murder of his father, the king. Dastan must prove his innocence with the help of the mysterious Princess Tamina and a beautiful dagger, in the process uncovering a much larger conspiracy and an ancient magic.

With its fine cast of accomplished actors, who revel in their roles effortlessly, Prince of Persia is an enjoyable romp, with lush, opulent costumes and rich Asian scenery, despite a few inconsistencies in the editing.

Dastan is a hollow character, with little personality, but Jake Gyllenhaal's charms turn him into an endearing hero, with his rags-to-riches story and unaffected character, flying across rooftops and swinging around the marketplace like a real-life Aladdin. Gemma Arterton, although ravishing, is a bit dry as Princess Tamina, with a sphinx-like demeanour that fails to engage.

We've seen films like this many times before; only the settings, the props and the actors are different. But Prince of Persia holds its own in the colosseum of epic films, with its mythology, mysticism, Arabian music, breathtaking special effects and empty substance.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Serious Man Review

Director: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen Screenplay: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen Cast: Michael Stuhlbarg, Richard Kind, Sari Wagner Lennick, Fred Melamed Time: 106min Age Restriction:16SLVPD


Summary Review:
A Serious Man is a hilarious dark comedy that poses many of the questions that any religious person asks of their God.

Larry Gopnik is just an ordinary Jewish man. He has tried to be a serious and responsible mane, a good person. But now, through an unfortunate twist of fate and a series of highly improbable coincidences, so weird as only to be possible in real life, his life is falling apart and Larry feels helpless and bewildered.

In his quest for answers and advice, he pays three fruitless visits to each of the town's three unhelpful rabbis, which leave him more hopeless than ever.

A Serious Man is a deeply ironic story that will resonate with just about anyone. The Coen brothers are two of the quirkiest filmmakers around and are known for their offbeat films, the last of which was Burn After Reading. I honestly did not like Burn After Reading, but A Serious Man is one of the most enjoyable films I've seen all year.

Filled with wry humour, A Serious Man orbits around the search for the meaning of life and will leave you feeling grateful for how simple and easy your life is. Watch it.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Taking Woodstock Review

Director: Ang Lee Screenplay: James Schamus, based on the memoir Taking Woodstock: A True Story of a Riot, a Concert, and a Life by Elliot Tiber and Tom Monte Cast: Demetri Martin, Henry Goodman, Imelda Staunton, Eugene Levy Time: 121min Age Restriction: 16NLD


Summary Review:
Taking Woodstock is a psychedelic behind-the-scenes look at the lives of the people behind the first Woodstock event that, instead of making you wish you had been there, makes you believe that you were.

Elliot Tiber (Demetri Martin) comes home to his immigrant parents' dilapidated motel in White Lake, Bethel, New York, to once again rescue them from bank repossession. They take in a hippie theatre troupe called The Earthlight Players and give them residence in their barn, but the troupe can hardly pay them.

Elliot decides to hold his annual small music festival and when he hears that the Woodstock Festival organisers are facing opposition against the festival's originally-planned location, he invites them to hold it in White Lake.

Little does he know that this will turn out to be one of the largest and most historic music festivals of all time.

Don't expect to see performances (real or re-enacted) by any of the great musicians who made the original Woodstock such a concert coup, like Janis Joplin or Jimi Hendrix. Taking Woodstock is about the people behind the scenes who made it happen and how this historical event changed their lives and relationships.

The sudden influx of thousands of strangers places the Tiber family conflicts under a microscope and dirty laundry is aired by all. Insecurities are dismissed and friendships are formed, all at a groovy, mellowed pace.

I totally lost my innocence watching Taking Woodstock. I have never seen so much nudity in my life! The thing is, it didn't come across as dirty nudity, because it seemed so natural and unquestionable, which just goes to show how excellent Taking Woodstock is at portraying the atmosphere and feeling of the '60s.

Ang Lee is one of my favourite directors, one who can make brilliant films in any genre. He again excels in Taking Woodstock, using many of the most popular filming techniques of the '60s (combined with the latest technology, of course) to produce a creative and psychedelically authentic movie that easily transports one back in time and provides an unforgettable Woodstock memory of one's own.

Friday, May 14, 2010

I Now Pronounce You Black And White Review

Director: Oliver Rodger Screenplay: Oliver Rodger Cast: Tyrel Meyer, Astara Mwakalumbwa, Ian Roberts, Sylvia Mdunyelwa Time: 81min Age Restriction: 13MDL


Summary Review:
I Now Pronounce You Black And White is a side-splitting movie that proves South Africa really can do comedy.

Simon Dawson (Tyrel Meyer) and Jackie Msolisi (Astara Mwakalumbwa) meet by chance at a mutual friend's braai. They fall in love and start living together. Simon is a white Jew, Jackie is black.

Both Simon and Jackie's parents had hoped that their living arrangement would be nothing more than a brief phase, but these hopes are shattered when Simon asks for Jackie's hand in marriage.

I Now Pronounce You Black And White follows the days leading up to Simon and Jackie's wedding – the family tensions, the parents' plotting to foil their union and their friends' awkward support.

The editing is not as smooth as we've grown accustomed to from international films, and I Now Pronounce You Black And White has a distinctly home-made feel (not sure if this is a good or a bad thing?). There are many classic jokes that only a South African audience would get.

I wouldn't say that I Now Pronounce You Black And White quite does for South African comedy what District 9 did for South African action films, but it definitely deserves a place in the archive of national film treasures.

Filled with first-rate South African humour and a melting pot of typically South African characters, I Now Pronounce You Black And White shows that South Africans really can do comedy films and that we have a unique sense of humour one can be proud of.

Show your support for South African film and go watch I Now Pronounce You Black And White, not just because you're patriotic, but because you'd be doing yourself a favour and guaranteeing yourself 81 minutes of laughter.