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3 Gambling Movies Now Available to Stream

21 (Netflix)

The number 21 denotes a significant birthday, but also has strong links with the popular card game, Blackjack. Based on a true story, we follow several MIT students who are taught the art of card-counting in order to win big in 21. They make millions in the process, opting to forgo online casinos that offer bet bonus codes in favour of taking Las Vegas in person and in style. Starring Jim Sturgess as Ben, a smart young man with great ambition and a desire to secure a scholarship, he plays the lead in this fact-based crime drama.

Trying to raise $300,000 to transfer to Harvard School of Medicine and ultimately realise his dream of becoming a doctor, he finds a way forward after being introduced to a maths professor and a secret card-counting club. Learning the skill, driven by the desire to pay for his studies and learning a unique signal system, this gambling film dramatises the man's rags-to-riches tale. Supported by Kevin Spacey, Kate Bosworth, Laurence Fishburne and Josh Gad, it's a sturdy crime drama about beating the odds and placing high-stakes bets.

Two for the Money (Netflix)

Al Pacino and Matthew McConaughey star in Two for the Money, a sports drama directed by D.J. Caruso, which centres on the world of sports gambling. We follow Brandon, a former college football player, who develops a talent for picking winners after an injury sidelines him for good. The young hot shot is recruited by Walter, head honcho of a sports consulting firm. Serving as an apprentice to the slick businessman, it's not long before they're making an absolute killing.

Following a similar concept to Wall Street with Charlie Sheen and Michael Douglas, the film deals with the promising Lang whose in-depth knowledge skyrockets his career and fast new lifestyle to the point of clashing with Walter's personal affairs. Steered by these two charming big-name actors, the film's meandering plotting relies quite heavily on talking the talk without walking the walk. Supported by the likes of Rene Russo, Armand Asante and Jeremy Piven, it's a rock solid ensemble, in a betting movie that comes up shy against bigger and better sports dramas.

Safe Bet (Showmax)

The South African action comedy tells the story of two friends who get in over their heads. When Khaya arrives on the scene with yet another get-rich-quick scheme, Frank, his lifelong buddy caves in... risking everything by betting a stash of money in his care on a fixed boxing match. This action-packed misadventure tests the bonds of friendship as two buddies go on the run, trying to stay one step ahead of a furious and well-connected boss.

Starring Wandile Molebatsi, Godfrey Thobejane, Luthuli Dhlamini and Jerry Mofoken, this award-winning South African action crime comedy feature deals with the allure of greed as an honest man forgoes his simple life for the opportunity of a lifetime.

Talkin' About a Guerilla Film Revolution

South Africa is regarded as top film-making destination. A diverse people, a beautiful country, a beneficial exchange rate and some of the best crew, it's easy to see why many filmmakers are opting to take their productions to South Africa. The country has attracted many international TV and film projects, but it's still calibrating its local content. While more than competent, the local film industry hasn't turned into the runaway success you'd imagine given the outlook.

Guerilla Film Revolution

The calibre of films from our shores has shown a marked improvement and steady maturity, yet it just seems that there's been a bit of a slump in terms of the number of productions. Last year was one of the country's best years for film with at least five films that could easily travel. Perhaps one can attribute the slowing down to the global recession, which has made it that much tougher to get funding for films in an already difficult market.

While the budget isn't there, the talent is brimming. It's never been easier to put a film together thanks to the advances of digital technology. With several feature films already having been shot on a mobile phone, including Steven Soderbergh's Unsane, the question is quickly becoming why aren't more doing it? In a country where we have the locations, crew and talent, it seems strange that more cooperative ventures aren't happening.

Filmmakers need to stay current, keep their credits relevant and be constantly showcasing their talent in order to attract more business. A team enterprise, it seems strange that these low budget productions aren't happening more sporadically. The art of guerrilla film-making can translate into financial success, just look at Oren Peli's Paranormal Activity. Armed with directional microphones and high-end smart phones, we should be compelling our youth to go out there and make stuff - much like the training offered at Big Fish.

A Four-Step Tweet from Spling (@MovieCriticSA)

Want a ZA film revolution?

1. Partner with Vodacom, MTN or Cell C

2. Empower filmmakers with training e.g. Big Fish School

3. Equip them with an iPhone 6, Samsung Galaxy 6 or LG G4 and directional Rode mics

4. Give them the burning desire to tell their stories!


Instilling a sense of entrepreneurship, there should be courses focused on equipping ambitious young filmmakers with the necessary know-how and tools in order to make a success of this path. Great characters and good stories overcome low budgets, which is why a low budget feel shouldn't deter filmmakers from bringing their stories to life. A great example of a high quality local feature film shot on a shoestring budget is the Clerks-inspired black-and-white comedy drama, Casting Me...

Perhaps a shift of mindset is what's necessary, giving youth a sense of empowerment rather than entitlement. Going out there and doing it for yourself should be the mantra rather than sitting around and waiting for things to happen. Doing something for nothing in order to reap rewards down the line should also be fully realised. Finally, the power of cooperation is yet another cornerstone of a successful individual, realising the importance of teamwork.

While the entire process can be very daunting, challenging and troublesome, new platforms are being created every day which serve the independent filmmaker from valuable screenwriting services to hiring cast and crew. Creating brilliant content is half the job, getting people to watch your film is the other half and this is where concepts like Filmnation light the way. We should be having these conversations with young filmmakers, inspiring them to be more proactive in their approach, more inquisitive in finding the answers and creating a market for this kind of content. Showmax have added some of AFDA's student short films to their bouquet and perhaps streaming services could be the answer to high quality short films or features looking for a worthy distribution model.

. Partner with , or 2. Empower filmmakers with training e.g. 3. Equip them with an , or and directional 4. Give them the burning desire to tell their stories!
The Labia Theatre Celebrates 70 Years to the Day with 'Rocketman'

Labia Theatre 70thThe Labia Theatre celebrated its 70th anniversary on Sunday night, exactly 70 years later, with the first international screening of Rocketman. The biographical musical based on the life and times of Elton John first screened at the Cannes Film Festival, gracing the Labia's silver screen just three days after its French debut. A mystery to attendees until the opening credits, it's only scheduled to open in the United Kingdom tomorrow on 22 May and in South Africa on 7 June. While the anniversary celebrations saw friends and family gathering to hear speeches and enjoy canapés, refreshments and the cake-cutting ceremony, the festivities will continue later this year with a festival of Labia highlights.

Originally opened as a theatre for live stage performances on 19 May 1949, it only had one screen when current owners Ludi and Ann Kraus took over on 1 September 1989, almost three decades ago. Kraus has a long history with cinema, having had his first film encounter at the age of nine in his father's movie house in Windhoek. From a career in law to owning a cinema, Ludi hasn't looked back, offering loyal moviegoers cinema magic at affordable prices. Screening art house movies, documentaries foreign films and extreme sports, the Labia is the last surviving independent movie theatre in Cape Town after the transition from reel-to-reel projectors to digital.

Over the years, the cinema has had many upgrades moving from one to four screens but has retained much of the charm and nostalgia with an old-fashioned ticket booth and retro design. While moving from film to digital was a costly exercise, it's enabled the Labia to compete with the commercial cinema circuit screening films as soon as they are released. Showing a marked improvement in terms of quality and accessibility, it's helped widen their audience, attracting younger viewers looking for retro places in favour of mainstream cinemas.

Labia Theatre 70th

Ludi curates the selection of films, being sure to focus on quality, merit and commercial value. A loyal fan base, the film community showed their love when a crowdfunding campaign was initiated to upgrade the equipment, which ensured they were able to continue showing films after upgrading their four cinemas to digital. Kraus says, "we hope that we still provide a little bit of magic by allowing our patrons to make an evening out visiting the Labia", with reference to the evolution and future of film. Together with Roodeberg Wine, which also celebrated its 70th anniversary this year, the cinema seems to be going from strength-to-strength.

Terminator: Dark Fate - The Bravest Sequel Of Them All

In our day and age, we are surrounded by movie sequels and remakes. Somehow, Hollywood seems to have lost the ability to produce high-profile movies based on original scripts (or the studios' hunger for profits may have hampered their will to try anything new) and now all we seem to see are remakes, sequels, prequels, and superhero movies (that were tried and tested at the time when they were mere comic books). More often than not, though, these remakes and sequels are unworthy of the original - while they may seem a good idea at first, they almost never manage to live up to the fans' expectations (not to mention the critics). This is why continuing the Terminator franchise seems like a bad idea - especially since we've already had several sequels made by several studios that all failed. But the people behind Terminator have done something never seen before (well, almost, because the Highlander franchise already tried it once): erase history and start with a clean slate.

Terminator: Dark Fate

The sequels that should have never been

The first movie in the Terminator franchise, together with the two "Conan" movies, turned Arnold Schwarzenegger into a household name, the new archetype of an action hero. His rendition of the killer cyborg sent from the future was so perfect that his role in the sequel, made seven years after the original, a safe bet. Terminator 2: Judgment Day was the sequel that was better than the original, an instant cult classic that won four Oscars, five Saturns, a Hugo, two BAFTAs, and pretty much every other award it could. It spawned a TV series, comic books, video games, novels, and countless other forms of media. And three sequels (so far).

The first sequel, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, was visually impeccable but was an utterly forgettable movie, adding little to the overall story arc (not to mention the fact that it was a bit forced). The second sequel, Terminator Salvation, finally took viewers into the war-torn world of the future, mixing up things a bit - for example, John Connor was not the fearless leader depicted in the previous films - but couldn't win them over thanks to its flawed storytelling. Finally, Terminator Genisys - which was, otherwise, a decent movie - rebooted the entire timeline from the first film onwards but failed to please the series fans (and the critics). It was originally planned as the start of a new trilogy - but the trilogy was silently scrapped.

The new timeline

James Cameron regained the rights to the Terminator franchise this year - and even before that, he announced that he will finally finish his original trilogy. To this end, he will "erase" all the failed sequels and start with a "clean slate" - he will continue where he left off with Terminator 2. Cameron worked on the movie as a producer, leaving the directing duties in the able hands of Tim Miller, the creative genius behind the first Deadpool movie. We'll finally have the chance to reunite with more of the faces from the original movies: aside Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton will also reprise her role as Sarah Connor. There is no word on whether John Connor will even be in the film (except for a few scenes where he will appear as a child).

Cameron revealed that, while the film will be enjoyable on its own, he plans it to be the first part of a trilogy - that is, of course, if it does well enough at the box office. Otherwise, he didn't reveal too much about its story. Given Cameron's track record (he wrote the screenplay for Terminator and T2, Rambo II, Aliens, The Abyss, and Avatar, among others) we can hope that it will finally be a Terminator movie we'd be proud to watch. We'll see on November 1st this year.

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