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 SO IT GOES
Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton star in And So It Goes, a comedy romance drama from Rob Reiner about a self-absorbed realtor with no time for people. When the granddaughter he never knew he had, gets dropped off at his home by his estranged son, he's forced to break out of his shell and ask his neighbour for help!
Why you need to see it: Michael Douglas has still got it, and Rob Reiner is the guy who brought us When Harry Met Sally and The Bucket List!
MILLION DOLLAR ARM
Jon Hamm, best known for Mad Men, stars in Million Dollar Arm, about a sports agent who employs an unconventional strategy to recruit Indian cricketers to play Major League Baseball. Based on a true story, this Disney sports drama brings the East to the West and comes to us from the producers of Invincible and Miracle.
Why you need to see it: This movie puts Jon Hamm on the map! Also look out for some great supporting talent in Alan Arkin, Lake Bell and Bill Paxton.
IF I STAY
Chloe Grace Moretz stars in If I Stay, a drama about a young cellist whose life changes dramatically after an accident leaves her in a coma and she's forced to decide the way forward. A fragmented narrative structure and elemental fantasy perspective give this young adult adaptation a fresh spin.
Why you need to see it: If The Perks of Being a Wallflower and When the Music Stopped... appealed to you, you need to see this film.
Calvary is an immense Irish drama about the church, mortality and revenge. As you'd imagine from the movie title and such a severe line-up of themes, it's a dark, heavy and soulful film led by a tremendous performance from Brendan Gleeson that embodies these sombre qualities.
This isn't the first time Brendan Gleeson and fellow writer-director John Michael McDonagh have worked together. The two seem destined to become a famous duo after working to acclaim in The Guard, in which Gleeson played an unorthodox and tough-as-nails Irish policeman. While both decidedly dark films,Calvary is more serious in tone, opting to appeal to the grey matter over the funny bone.
We're thrown into the midst of a small Irish village, where a presiding priest is threatened with death during a confession. As Father James (Gleeson) continues his good work, he makes contact with many troubled locals, each quite capable of being his would-be killer. The small coastal village could very well be Hell as the priest tries to save lost souls and finds his best efforts thwarted by apathy toward the church and a series of lost causes as the dark forces close in around him.
We journey with Father James, whose missive to lead the lost sheep to the Lord turns into a trial by fire as one "demonic" character heckles him after another. It's an oppressive atmosphere that drives the dark, mysterious drama and commentary forward as a good man fights a losing battle. Each character interaction serves as a duel between good and evil, as our hero doubles as a reluctant detective.
"Father, I must confess... I'm not a very good doctor."
To sell the drama, McDonagh has assembled a stellar supporting cast for Gleeson including: Chris O'Dowd, Kelly Reilly, Aiden Gillen, Isaach De Bankole, M. Emmet Walsh and even Brendan's son, Domhnall Gleeson. They each contribute small supporting parts that perpetuate the dark, oppressive tone with a maniacal smirk. As with most murder mysteries, each character has their secrets and enough motivation to be the killer in wait.
We're compelled by the creeping inevitability of a death threat over the space of a week. As each day churns into the next, our protagonist finds himself slightly more paranoid than the previous day, pushed to believe his faith is strong enough to withstand the barrage of spiritual dissonance and the disappointment of a flagging ministry.
It's like watching a wrongfully accused prisoner on his way to an execution block. The character's attempt to be strong and brave crumbles as the tumbrel gathers momentum and doomsday beckons. McDonagh keeps the tension on high as we root for the priest's redemption and moral reserve against all odds. The coastal vistas and symbolic imagery make for an epic and relentless battle between good and evil.
We feel the burden as the hellish atmosphere takes its toll. Gleeson delivers a Christ-like character, who can't escape his duty, destined to march up to his own Calvary without losing all hope in humanity. Just like In Bruges and The Guard, Calvary is not for everyone. The film is dark, sombre and has moments of fleeting levity but carries heavy themes, dense dialogue, twisted characters and packs an emotional punch to the gut.
If I Stay is a drama and adaptation of Gayle Forman's novel about Mia, a young cellist, and her life, love and family experiences before a car accident puts her in a coma. The plot line for this drama is quite cliched and you can imagine the film tripping into tearjerker territory, however a fantasy twist enabling Mia to wander the Overlook Hospital (a tip of the hat to The Shining) like a ghost, gives If I Stay an ethereal quality.
The film stars Chloe Grace Moretz, an actress whose exquisite features and melancholic disposition make her quite perfect for the role of Mia. She is permanently in the moment, enabling us to live vicariously through her performance. While the film is aimed at young adults, the mature theme about mortality, Moretz's elemental performance and some nostalgic memory sequences keep everyone invested.
The narrative structure takes a little getting used to, moving back-and-forth between the buildup to and aftermath of the accident. We are kept on our toes and while it doesn't take long to adjust to the switch, it would have been interesting to see the film unfold from her comatose state.
Mia's high school romance with Adam forms the core relationship of If I Stay. The two musicians make an interesting contrast, with Mia being a cellist and Adam being the guitarist and front man of a local band. This dynamic is echoed by Mia's parents, who seem to have started in a similar fashion.
"Today is the greatest day I've ever known. Can't wait for tomorrow. I might not have that long."
Jamie Blackley does a fine job supporting Moretz as Adam, the suave and unexpectedly deep rock star in the making. There are hints of The Wedding Singer in the way the two relate, and while the chemistry may not be as potent as that between Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, it's still convincing, sweet and pure of heart.
Mireille Enos and Joshua Leonard play Mia's rock 'n' roll parents, who add much heart and warmth in their old school approach to life. Enos is wonderfully cast, bringing some tame rebellion as a mother who wants the best for our child yet feels compelled to break the rules on her behalf. Leonard is equally convincing, as the self-professed cool Dad, adding some much-needed humour to the emotional drama.
Veteran actor, Stacey Keach, deserves special mention as Gramps in a short yet heartfelt supporting performance. We feel the true weight of the drama in a key role that grounds and elevates the film simultaneously.
If I Stay ranks with The Perks Of Being a Wallflower and The Music Never Stopped… in terms of the emotional gravity, subject of adolescence and execution. The film's melancholic yet heartwarming disposition is summed up by a rendition of Today by The Smashing Pumpkins, a song which Billy Corgan wrote on a day he contemplated ending it all but decided to go on a write a chart-topping hit.
Director, R. J. Cutler creates a young adult story that is both naive and mature, innocently bringing a high school romance in the style of Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist and setting it against the teenage angst and art house nuance of a film like The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Subtle things, for instance Mia waking up like a snow angel, the handling of her out of body experience and the flood of memories, set this film apart.
The indie soundtrack may not be as soulful as Once, yet complements the visuals and spirit of the film. We're entranced by Chloe Grace Moretz, who threads every scene, and would probably be just as entertaining if she was knitting. While the story tends towards a sentimental tone, the fantasy element helps buffer the tearjerker tendencies. If I Stay is not an original film, but composes itself with a great love and purpose for its characters.
Begin Again comes to us from Once writer-director John Carney. He captured the independent spirit, heart and mood quite effortlessly in Once, and repackages some of that unassuming indie charm with a bigger budget in Begin Again.
Instead of a soulful busker and an immigrant, we have both in Gretta, a reluctant British musician living in the shadows of her rock star boyfriend in New York. She crosses paths with Dan, a down-on-his-luck deadbeat father and irrepressible record company founder. The two embark on a quest to get their lives back on track, banking on a street spirit sound and album that celebrates the New York music scene.
Begin Again oozes crowd-pleaser charm thanks to effervescent performances from Mark Ruffalo, Keira Knightley, James Corden and a strong debut from Maroon 5 frontman, Adam Levine. We're compelled by the never-say-die characters, who get knocked down only to pull themselves out of the gutter with limitless moxie and their hearts nailed to their sleeves.
"Dan, you're acting cool but I'm just not feeling it."
Ruffalo is lovable as the guy who had it all, lost it all and wants it back. You can't help but root for the likable actor and live-large character. He's funny and full of surprises, keeping us entertained with his idealism, natural whimsy and red-blooded passion. Keira Knightley drops the wistful gazes for a more substantial role as a jaded and tomboyish ex-girlfriend with heaps of undiscovered talent. She plays a much warmer character, giving into the fun and allowing imperfections to add life to her character.
Adam Levine's recognisable vocal talents bolster an already lively soundtrack. While he's there to add weight and integrity to the music, we're mostly surprised at just how well he acts, playing a version of himself in Dave Kohl... strangely similar to Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters. James Corden adds some busker charm as the struggling NY musician and reliable fall back guy.
Hailee Steinfeld and Catherine Keener deliver typically solid performances as Dan's estranged daughter and wife. The subplot falls into fairly formulaic territory, but adds history and even more heart to the co-leads mission to get their lives in order. Begin Again leans on Hollywood formula for feel good vibes, but retains its indie stance with some savvy storytelling calls.
Just like Once, and films like High Fidelity and August Rush, Begin Again is entertaining and enjoyable as something of a spirited character-driven musical. The actors breathe life into complex down-to-earth characters, the driving soundtrack keeps the storytelling lightly enjoyable and John Carney laces it all together with much heart, passion and entertainment value.