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Movie Review: 204 - Getting Away with Murder

204: Getting Away with Murder is a docudrama that unearths the shocking story behind the murder of Brett Kebble. The title is a little clunky, but don't let it deter you, 204: Getting Away with Murder is an absorbing, gritty, pulpy and layered documentary.

To clear things up a bit, '204' means a full and permanent indemnity from prosecution in exchange for truthful testimony, which is what was afforded to many key individuals in the wake of Brett Kebble's demise. The documentary sets about profiling the characters, organisations, financial climate and events leading up to Kebble's death, and then picks apart the questionable legal proceedings and unresolved matters in the aftermath.

This is a classic rise-and-fall story about a charismatic South African businessman, whose life ended in a hail of bullets in Johannesburg in 2005. Just like the Oscar Pistorius trial, some true stories are stranger than fiction and if it does nothing else, the documentary demonstrates the potential for a Hollywood film somewhere between the dark comedy and true stories behind The Wolf of Wall Street and Pain & Gain.

Was it a failed hijacking, assisted suicide or murder even? By interviewing three self-confessed killers, as well as Jackie Selebi, Glen Agliotti, Piet Byleveld, and the Kebble family, we're able to get a clearer picture of what actually happened from key players and first-hand accounts. Financial analysts, journalists and biographers weigh in on Kebble's tremendous influence and dire financial situation, his enemies and the conditions surrounding his demise, offering their take as director Warren Batchelor builds his case.

204: Getting Away with Murder Movie Review

"You asked for it."

Yet, Kebble's mysterious murder is only the beginning as motives are explored and a trail of money, fraud and corruption lead us to the highest level. This gritty, hard-hitting documentary has been treated like a mystery thriller with cinematic flair and enough remarkable interview characters to keep us transfixed on the swirling tale. The production is absorbing, entertaining and eye-opening as the film-makers gather momentum lacing vivid news storytelling, informative talking heads and convincing dramatisation together.

204: Getting Away with Murder moves at a quick pace, despite clocking in at 110 minutes, splicing news paper clippings and photographic evidence together without shying away. The elusive truth is what drives Batchelor and us as we drill down with an intimate set of one-on-one interviews with most of the involved parties, including: Mikey Schultz and Nigel McGurk.

What 204: Getting Away with Murder lacks in finesse and consistency, it makes up for in steely-eyed determination, raw passion and sleazy, underground grit. It burns brightly enough to generate renewed interest in this buried court case, shining a light on white collar crime, the South African legal system with its entertaining blend of hard-hitting news and crime story flair.

The bottom line: Gritty

The Writing Studio Presents... Writing a Screenplay that Works

Writing a screenplay that works Aspirant screenwriters will receive hands-on experience in writing the first 10 pages of their screenplay in The Writing Studio’s 'The Write Journey' workshop that takes place on Saturday November 8 and 15 from 10am until 6pm.

The workshop is presented by Daniel Dercksen, a published playwright and screenwriter, who has been teaching workshops throughout South Africa the past 15 years, with filmmakers like Henk Pretorius (Bakgat, Leading Lady), John Barker (How to Steal a Million, Spud 3) and Sallas de Jager (Roepman, Verraaiers, Stuur Groete aan Mannetjies Roux) as proud graduates of previous workshops. The outcome-based The Write Journey workshop looks at how to conceptualise and explore ideas, amplifying thematic purpose, defining and developing characters, and plotting and structuring the story to make the most of its comedic of dramatic potential.

The Writing Studio Workshop

At the end of the 2-Saturday workshop the writers will write the first 10 pages, and then work individually with trainer Dercksen on on-on-one sessions to develop and complete a draft that will be evaluated by The Write Agency, and then forwarded to potential producers locally and internationally.

The Writing Studio is an independent training initiative that celebrates the art of storytelling and the craft of writing, fostering the talent of proudly South African storytellers and storymakers.

Daniel Dercksen, the driving force behind the successful independent training initiative has been a published film and theatre journalist for 30 years and has been teaching workshops in creative writing, playwriting and screenwriting throughout South Africa the past 19 years.

As a qualified ETD Practitioner (Education, Training and Development) - accredited by SAQA (The South African Qualifications Authority) and working in accordance with the principles of the Department of Education - Dercksen’s workshops focus on outcomes-based education, training and development.

The Write Journey workshop takes place at The Writing Studio in Greenpoint, Cape Town on Saturday, November 8 and 15 from 10am until 6pm.

For registration send an email to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call Daniel on 072 474 1079. Visit the website www.writingstudio.co.za for more information.

Win a 2TB WD Hard Drive with 'A Most Wanted Man'

The late Philip Seymour Hoffman stars in A Most Wanted Man, his last completed movie. The tense political thriller is based on a true story and the novel by John le Carré, about a half-Chechen, half-Russian, brutally tortured immigrant, who turns up in Hamburg’s Islamic community, laying claim to his father’s ill-gotten fortune.

A Most Wanted Man is directed by Anton Corbijn (Control, The American), who shot much of the film in Hamburg, where le Carré worked for British Intelligence. Hoffman is supported by an all-star cast in Rachael McAdams, Willem Dafoe, Robin Wright and Daniel Brühl.

A Most Want Man SK Giveaway


How to stand a chance of winning this super prize...

On Facebook...

1. Like SPL!NG's Facebook fan page
2. Tell us, which movie starring the late Philip Seymour Hoffman is Most Wanted by your movie collection?
3. Like, share and leave your answer by commenting on the official competition post.

On Twitter...

1. Follow @SplingMovies
2. Tell us, which movie starring the late Philip Seymour Hoffman is Most Wanted by your movie collection?
3. RT the official tweet AND tweet your answer to @SplingMovies with the tag #AMostWantedSKGiveaway.

Competition open to South African residents only. Winner will be randomly selected from all entrants on Monday 27th October 2014 and announced on SPL!NG channels.

Movie Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a popular animated TV series from the '80s that keeps getting the film treatment. From its first adaptation in 1990, we've seen several attempts at a quintessential Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film. While there's no clear front runner, its been a case of hit-and-run for studios exhuming one nostalgic franchise after another.

So it shouldn't have come as much of a surprise, when it was announced that blockbuster juggernaut, Michael Bay, was set to reboot the troubled Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with a "live-action" adaptation. The problem with a live-action version of TMNT has always been the balance of reality and fantasy. Selling the premise of four toxic masked humanoid amphibians brandishing ninja weaponry to protect New York City is a feat in itself.

Wrath of the Titans and Battle Los Angeles director, Jonathan Liebesman, is no stranger to making reality out of unreality. He's dealt with Greek mythology, aliens and even The Tooth Fairy. So making the jump to sewer-surfing vigilante turtles was not unthinkable, especially when you have Mr. Transfomers giving you the keys to the Shellraiser.

The new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles works mostly because never it never takes itself too seriously. We journey with a budding reporter as she covers a story about a burgeoning sci-tech company, a band of unusual heroes, a villain and his evil Foot Clan, and the underground battle for New York City.

While they've injected some Dark Knight cold fusion into the design and bloodstream of the production, everyone's in on the joke. Okay, everyone, except Megan Fox and Shredder. There's plenty of wink-wink stuff going on and it's actually surprisingly funny, mostly thanks to Michelangelo's ability to turn everything into a game and Will Arnett's foot-in-mouth ego.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles


Unfortunately, while picture perfect, Megan Fox isn't right for the part of April O'Neal. She's dolled up to the point that we wouldn't be surprised to find out her performance was rendered along with those of the turtles. She's angelic, but the role would've benefited from a Kat Dennings or Emma Stone, someone more grounded and warm.

Will Arnett knows how to find funny in the despicable and gives us a van-driving character Mr. T would call "fool". Vernon's insecurities and attempts to romance April, provide the perfect fall guy, and we enjoy laughing at Arnett's exploits. It's amusing to find his counterpoint, Eric Sacks, is played by William Fichtner, who you're half-expecting to be his long lost brother.

The turtles seem over-sized from the outset, but you do get used to their new shape and form. Just as they have their own distinct personalities, the ninja turtles even look different to each other, in terms of personal style and size. Splinter isn't quite as convincing, like a reformed rodent of unusual size from The Princess Bride and Shredder seems to be more inspired by Ken Watanabe's robot character, Drift, in Transformers: Age of Extinction.

As you'd expect from a Michael Bay-produced film, there's loads of action. The quick pacing keeps us from dissecting how ridiculous it all is and the blistering action set pieces are Fast and Furious enough to keep us entertained. The story is pretty standard as far as superhero movies go, taking it from April O'Neal's journalistic perspective to give it more credibility as her involvement gives the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles a spokesperson.

The driving force is fun and peril in this tongue-in-cheek action blockbuster. Instead of trying to substantiate their back story in real science and steep the tone in dark grit, we're asked to laugh at and roll with it. While a little inconsistent in quality and distanced by a cold, beauty queen, there are enough laughs and explosive A-Team style action sequences to deliver perfectly enjoyable, albeit mind-numbing, escapism.

The bottom line: Amusing

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