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Movie Review: Ocean Driven

Ocean Driven: The Chris Bertish Story is an inspiring surf documentary about self-belief, will power and the human spirit. Describing himself as a Waterman, Bertish has been instrumental in getting the film finished over the last 4 years, another achievement in itself, in addition to writing Stoked!, an inspiring story about courage, determination and the power of dreams.

Chris Bertish is a South African big wave surfer, whose love for water sports was passed down to him and his brothers by his father. After his Dad passed away quite suddenly, Chris was plunged even deeper into their shared passion, pushing him to break the limits of what he thought possible.

It's been something of a life's work for Chris, who continues to push the limit, defy the odds and challenge himself to believe in the power of dreams. To local surfers, Chris was something of a legend.. to international surfers on America's West Coast he was known as the crazy South African guy with a short board, a big smile and the guts to stare death down.

The documentary covers Chris, his family and follows the trail of events, surf tours and big breaks that led to him being invited to the prestigious Mavericks big wave invitational. Through a series of interviews with friends, family, surf pioneers and professional surfers, we get a clearer picture of what drives Bertish and the extraordinary lengths to which he went in order to make the cut.

Ocean Driven: The Chris Bertish Story Movie Review

"I've surfed bigger."

It's a classic tale of perseverance, determination, courage and deep-rooted passion. From home videos and surf photography to holiday videos and epic surf footage, Ocean Driven gives us the gritty true story from the inside out. Bertish propels the story with first hand experience, recounting the emotion and situation, backed by interviews with some of the sports biggest names: Kelly Slater, Greg Long, Mark Healy, Clark Abbey, Gary Linden and Carlos Burle.

The rapid fire editing keeps the lesser quality video material fresh and fast-paced as we get to the core of Bertish's amazing true story. The on-the-road footage of surf spots around the world has an Endless Summer feel, while we get an inside perspective on the challenges and innovations of daring to do the near-impossible. The surf documentary ratchets up to the big day at Mavericks that changed the game.

Ocean Driven could've been even more compelling if the film-makers had split Bertish's against-the-odds journey to the hallowed Mavericks competition over the course of the documentary to build tension. They could have gone deeper to excavate spiritual significance. Ocean Driven may not have the polish and scope of Riding Giants, but works as a start-to-finish inspirational sports documentary and the achievement, footage and testimony are powerful on their own.

The bottom line: Inspiring

Movie Review: Spectre

James Bond used to be about cheesy one-liners, full-blown chauvinism, ridiculous spy gadgets and over-the-top espionage action adventure. The franchise was overhauled with Casino Royale, going for a tougher blonde Bond and a deconstruction of 007 as we know it. Daniel Craig has been the poster boy for this modernisation and while it's become more artful and politically correct, something's been lost in the process.

Daniel Craig is a cold rogue and while most of us are convinced he can actually do most of his own stunts and isn't bulletproof, the deadpan expressions of a cold spy and assassin, lacks the charm and heart of the original. It was probably time for the series to grow up a bit from simply being a macho fantasy, but it's become something that seems to have been inspired by the films that heralded Connery, Moore, Brosnan and Dalton, rather than a continuation. The tribute references try to connect the dots, but Craig's tour as Bond has bleached the series and leached most of the fun in exchange for a blast of realism and more respect come awards season.

While it's effectively reinvented Bond, preferring Oscar-calibre cast and crew, the nominations haven't been as forthcoming as expected. Spectre is a follow-up to Skyfall, a Bond that divided audiences with its sleek finish, mature Bond girl and anti-Bond mood. Mendes returns along with Daniel Craig, Naomi Harris, Ben Whishaw and Ralph Fiennes to deliver a second round of Bond with a similar ebb-and-flow to Skyfall.

This time round, Bond has gone solo connecting a cryptic message from his past with a series of clues that give him more information about the dark secrets behind a sinister organisation known as Spectre.

Spectre Movie Review

"Yes, this outfit forms part of the Bond Winter Collection."

Instead of Javier Bardem, we have new villain on the block, Christoph Waltz. Ever since Inglourious Basterds, Waltz has been a go-to villain in Hollywood with his quirk, sneer and air of complexity. While this wild card seems severely underplayed and always in Tarantino's pocket, he's a joy to watch on-screen.

Mendes continues with flourishes of elegance and flair, injecting more artistic cinematography and a surreal otherworldly feel to the latest Bond. James is still pursuing his own rebellious mission and while lighter than Skyfall in terms of humour, the film takes on a Halloween theme starting with its impressive Birdman-style Day of the Dead opening shot in Mexico City.

The action set pieces are explosive as usual with airborne stand-offs, car chases and the Guiness record for the largest film stunt explosion in cinema history. We're introduced to a much more textured Bond girl in Léa Seydoux, who isn't simply another conquest, but a smart accomplice with no shortage of moxie.

We're also given a glimpse into Bond's personal history, but the characters are a little dry and the timely manhunt story is more about style than substance, leaning on 007 formula. There are flashes from Daniel Craig's Bond portfolio as they try to encompass all of his missions, but Waltz is too shadowy and while Bautista is a hulking presence, his character lacks definition and personality.

Perhaps that's the central criticism with Spectre... it lacks personality. Mendes has created a sleek and sinister Bond, assembled a number of mesmerising international locations and constructed some thrilling action set pieces, but there's very little heart and soul to all the dazzle.

Daniel Craig is more of a fighter than a lover, and while forcing him into a romantic subplot gives Spectre a new dimension, it doesn't really add emotional depth. You don't truly care for the characters, which makes this Bond all about mind games and eye candy.

The lack of identification with the characters protracts the mission and after two hours, you may actually be disappointed when you find out "but wait, there's more". The neo-Bond lacks the entertainment value of its rival, Mission Impossible, and the street smart action of the Bourne series. While Daniel Craig was a catalyst, the series has failed to measure up to the unexpected success and balance of Casino Royale.

The bottom line: Spectacular

Cast Interviews: 'n Man Soos My Pa

'n Man Soos My Pa is a beautifully filmed, nostalgic, sentimental and timely domestic ensemble drama with strong performances all-round. It tells the story of a family reunion, where a father and son try to reconcile their differences in order to honour a wife and mother's last wishes after being estranged for 20 years. The film is directed by Sean Else, produced by Johan Kruger and opens on 20 November.

'n Man Soos My Pa 2015

Here are some interviews with the cast...

Albert Maritz

Antoinette Louw

Elma Postma

Greg Kriek

Lara de Bruijn

Movie Review: Maggie

Maggie isn't a traditional zombie movie... it's more of an art house zombie drama. There are no car chases across a post-apocalyptic America of zombie hordes and for the most part, everything takes place in one location. The pacing is slow, the style is understated to a fault, the focus is on drama and it has an independent spirit.

The other thing you'll notice about Maggie is Arnold Schwarzenegger. We know and love the unmistakable "last action hero" and are used to him making fun of himself in comedies and blowing stuff up in action movies. In Maggie however, he's trying a dramatic role on for size and while he's experienced at playing fathers and getting dead serious... it's just weird to see Arnie being anything less than superhuman.

You get the impression that he's changing direction to break type and spread his range to include Clint Eastwood type tough old guy roles. Eastwood's getting on and there aren't as many Hollywood tough guys to brandish a sawn-off shotgun at young hoodlums in Hollywood as there used to be. While it's not a typical Arnie movie, he actually does surprisingly well, reeling in the star power and going for something much more down-to-earth and vulnerable... yes, he even sheds tears.

While Arnie's the main attraction, the titular character is played by Abigail Breslin. Maggie's like a teen malady movie in the way the zombie affliction is treated like a degenerative disease. As Maggie's symptoms get worse, she starts to change and the dramatic tension rests with how long local law enforcement and her immediate family are able to accommodate her, and what will become of her once she goes full zombie... sort of like a home school Ginger Snaps.

"How much wood... would... a woodchuck CHUCK?"

Breslin is a talented actress, but she's going through that awkward child actor to adult actor phase. For the first half of the film, she wears sunglasses and lurks around a dimly lit house. It really distances you from the character, who just seems self-occupied and unreachable. While this definitely alienates us, she seems to get more and more comfortable with the performance.

It's a slow-burning drama that moves sluggishly, and gradually improves as you warm to the characters. For many, watching the movie for Arnie's involvement will make them feel cheated. The art house angle and commercial casting makes it one of those grey area movies. You'll be more predisposed to enjoying it if you liked the poetic, melancholic and bleak tone of films like The Road or The Grey.

Maggie is refreshingly ambitious and you can see what they were trying to achieve. While it does build tension in an unassuming way, it's just too slow-moving and depressing to be entertaining. The performances are reasonable, the production values are good and you can live with the dim lighting, but Maggie's biggest flaw is that it's bland and doesn't really push hard enough in any one direction.

The bottom line: Bleak

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