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Movie Review: Predestination

Predestination is an enchanting and mind-bending Australian sci-fi drama and crime thriller from Michael and Peter Spierig, starring Ethan Hawke. We follow a time-traveling Temporal Agent on a final mission to catch the one criminal that has eluded him throughout time.

Ethan Hawke is sure-footed and reliably solid as our Temporal Agent, sporting a lisp and making the jump with a minimalistic, yet sophisticated time warp technology. He's supported by Sarah Snook, who delivers a well-weighted and challenging performance like a young Tilda Swinton.

Predestination is a striking film with a similar edge and quality to Looper, making it the kind of head-scratching time travel movie that demands a second viewing. It's been beautifully shot, delivering a series of different time periods with elegance and style. The visuals are crisp and spellbinding, echoing films like Inception and transporting us to a tense multi-dimensional situation with some pre-crime parallels with Minority Report.

It may not be as gripping as you'd hope and the time jumps do get intricate and rather over-complicated, but the unusual social themes revolving around the characters are fascinating and it's well worth your time, especially if you have an interest in mind-bending sci-fi and time travel.

The bottom line: Elegant

 
New Releases at Ster-Kinekor Cavendish this Week! (27/11/14)

Ster-Kinekor, Cavendish Square is one of the best cinemas in Africa, delivering a world-class digital film experience so that you get to watch GREAT moments at their GREATEST. Here's a selection of what's hot-and-happening at this state-of-the-art cinema complex at Cavendish Square in Cape Town. Visit the SPL!NG Facebook fan page to stand a chance of winning double movie tickets! And don't forget TWO brand new Cine Prestige cinemas are opening soon!

SPUD 3: LEARNING TO FLY

 


John "Spud" Milton is back and so are the Crazy Eight in the latest chapter of John Van De Ruit's ever-popular Spud series. Troye Sivan, John Cleese and Caspar Lee star in this coming-of-age comedy drama about the trials and misadventures of a schoolboy. While he's slightly older, Spud finds his grades slipping and his home life on the rocks as he tries to navigate away from threats of military school.

Why you need to see it: Troye Sivan and John Cleese maintain their special friendship, while more outrageous boarding school shenanigans unfold.


HORRIBLE BOSSES 2

 


Horrible Bosses 2 sees Nick, Dale and Kurt try to become their own bosses by launching their own business. After their brilliant new product concept is stolen by a would-be investor, they decide to get their own back by kidnapping his adult son. This one's bound to get dark, dangerous and hilarious with a stellar cast, including: Chris Pine, Jason Bateman, Christoph Waltz, Jamie Foxx, Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis, Jennifer Aniston and Kevin Spacey.

Why you need to see it: If you've ever had a "horrible boss", you'll love the stick-it-to-the-man brand of comedy and don't forget the killer cast!


THE BOXTROLLS

 


The Boxtrolls is an animated adventure comedy based on the novel Here Be Monsters by Alan Snow about an orphaned boy named Eggs, raised by a community of cave-dwelling trash collectors, who tries to rescue his friends from an evil exterminator. The film-makers used stop-motion to bring this magical story to life and the voice cast includes: Ben Kingsley, Richard Ayoade, Tracy Morgan, Nick Frost and Jared Harris.

Why you need to see it: The Boxtrolls comes from the creators of Coraline and ParaNorman, so if you enjoy off-beat wit and spellbinding visuals, this family movie makes for great entertainment.


 
Movie Review: Spud 3 - Learning to Fly


Spud 3: Learning to Fly is the third part of the popular series of boarding school misadventures by John Van De Ruit. The film sees many actors reprise their roles, including stars Troye Sivan as John "Spud" Milton and John Cleese as "The Guv". As if having three Johns wasn't enough, they've gone and added another with director John Barker picking up the series after Donovan Marsh directed Spud and Spud 2: The Madness Continues.

It's 1992 and our reluctant hero, Spud Milton, returns to school as a senior. As he stumbles through the uncertain and awkward teens, trouble at home and slipping grades force him to dig deep as he attempts to secure another year with the Crazy Eight by achieving top honours in the classroom and on the sports field.

Spud 2 was an all-out school romp, focusing on the exploits of the Crazy Eight as they create a legacy.Spud 3 has toned down the pranks to concentrate on more of the personal drama of peer pressure, growing pains and school politics. It's more melancholic and hesitant as Spud tries to keep a lid on his home and school life, while hurdling life's obstacles and learning to take responsibility.

His love life is on the rocks, his parents are not seeing eye-to-eye and everything seems to be weighing down on him to the point of questioning the meaning of it all. The screenplay touches on a number of issues, tuning into various aspects of Spud's life and lacing it all together with a to-do list in order to ostensibly fix it all.

It's not to say there's no fun, because being at a traditional boarding school and collaborating with a sister school for a Shakespeare production means there are plenty of opportunities for mischief. While mostly faithful, the adaptation skips over a key character, reduces the importance of others and adjusts some outcomes. While you can understand the need to home in, some might not enjoy the fresh take as much as they ought to.

Spud 3 - Learning to Fly

What, me worry?

Troye Sivan just seems more comfortable with the character as a somewhat melancholic and self-doubting Spud, leaning into the drama and situational comedy more readily. It's his third appearance and Sivan just seems more in tune with the character than in Spud 2.

John Cleese is back as Spud's mentor and friend, "The Guv". It's always a joy to see Cleese on film and he doesn't disappoint, delivering some great wisecracks and chiming in with the special bond that "The Guv" and Spud have developed from the previous films. While he's still there for the fireside chats and some hush-hush banter, we see his character enjoying a sweet romantic subplot of his own.

Spud 3: Learning to Fly sees the introduction of YouTube sensation, Caspar Lee, who plays Garlic the weird Malawian kid. We also see the inclusion of the housemaster's snarky second-in-command, Norman Whiteside, played to great effect by Luke Tyler in a role that deserved more versus antagonism. While the focus isn't on the Crazy Eights, the gang are back with a bang and instead of breaking the rules, they begin a race for the prestige of being inducted as house prefects.

Aaron McIlroy and Julie Summers get more screen time as Spud's parents. McIlroy is energetic as usual with his cringe-worthy antics and the two have more emotional ties in the story as finances and a vivacious new neighbour put pressure on their marriage.

While John Barker has been brought on as director and the story has new focus areas and characters, theSpud series is mostly consistent, thanks to its core ensemble and coming-of-age themes. Although it would have felt more authentic if more of the teachers had remained and the main boarding school shooting location had stayed the same throughout the series.

Spud 3: Learning to Fly has grown with its audience and cast, offering more in the way of an existential crisis. The slightly darker, more serious tone gives the drama more weight without diminishing the vitality of the comedy. As John Cleese once said "comedy is very much like tragedy, the only difference being that comedy lacks sympathy". We see Spud's life in a tragic light and while he suffers in silence, there's bittersweet comic relief at the heart of it all.

Spud 3 may not be the bag of fun you saw in Spud 2, but works well enough off its "bucket list" concept to keep us invested in our hero as he undergoes a series of trials and misadventures. He's still the same Spud you'll want to cheer over the finish line and while his circumstances aren't light-hearted, he gives us an opportunity to share our burdens with him in these tough times.

The bottom line: Bittersweet

 
Movie Review: Leading Lady


Leading Lady is the latest film from up-and-coming South African director, Henk Pretorius. His previous film, Fanie Fourie's Lobola, demonstrated his ability to create a surprisingly touching, funny, street smart and distinctly South African romantic comedy. While it's another opposites attract "romcom"... he's broadened the scope by turning Leading Lady into a film with more international appeal.

We journey with Jodi (McGrath), an idealistic British school teacher and aspiring actress, who finds herself in South Africa on a mission to prepare for a lead role in an upcoming Afrikaans war drama epic. Upon arrival, Jodi meets Kobus (van Blerk), a cynical South African farmer, who forgoes his better judgement to assist her in exchange for her help with the town's annual concert.

Leading Lady's leading lady is Katie McGrath, an up-and-coming actress, who also stars in Jurassic World. With a countenance that falls somewhere between Jennifer Connelly and Kate Winslet, she holds an icy beauty, which works quite well for her character. As with all modern day fairy tales, her ice princess looks melt away as we discover a warm, vulnerable and attractive down-to-earth character in Jodi.

She stars opposite the enigmatic Bok van Blerk, who while stubbornly set in his ways, finds a damsel-in-distress worth rescuing in addition to his family farm. McGrath and van Blerk have a sweet chemistry and it's a pleasure watching them interact as their worlds collide. McGrath is great at essentially playing an "ugly duckling" and van Blerk's understated closed door performance helps emphasise their smouldering relational dynamic.

"Ground control to Major Tom... commencing countdown."

They're supported by Gil Bellows as big shot director, Daniel Taylor, in an emphatic, larger-than-life performance. His key role helps set the journey in motion, while injecting some energy and international flair. Brümilda van Rensburg adds her experience to the ensemble, playing a rather eccentric and amusing small town widow with peculiar taste. The ensemble is bolstered by André Stolz, Eduan van Jaarsveldt, Craig Palm and Mary Twala, who each make great comedy counterpoints.

While Leading Lady starts off slowly as we narrow the focus from Big Ben in London to a small South Africa farm, things only really begin to take off as we start to warm to the hard-shelled characters. While their exteriors take a while to soften, the visual contrasts of the culture shock and the ensuing fish-out-of-water comedy help keep us entertained.

While not an entirely original concept, Henk Pretorius and Tina Kruger's script crackles with life and a quirky sense of humour. Leading Lady has an earthy freshness, standing on "romcom" genre conventions without being swallowed by them. We're slowly drawn into the story, continually amused by the interplay of the locals as we warm to the co-leads.

There are one or two questions surrounding "area code" policy, however the effects aren't distracting enough to derail the film. While there are plenty of amusing and quirky "small town" chuckles, you're almost taken by surprise at how emotionally connected to the characters you've become, with one particularly powerful moment involving Brümilda van Rensburg.

Leading Lady is a captivating and compelling romantic comedy and passion project from Henk Pretorius. From cast to crew, there's an understanding and love for the characters and film, presenting a pleasing story with heart, humour and intrinsic entertainment value. Ultimately, solid performances, steady direction, artful cinematography and a typical-yet-not-so-typical "romcom" script drive an enjoyable and satisfying film.

The bottom line: Enjoyable

 
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