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Movie Review: Noem My Skollie


Noem My Skollie or Call Me Thief is the story of Abraham and the Young Ones, a small-time gang that were separated for two years by a dangerous stint in Pollsmoor prison. The film is loosely based on the life of screenwriter, John W. Fredericks, marks a debut for director Daryne Joshua with Dann Jaques Mouton playing the title character. It's the second film in which Mouton is playing a character named Abraham after his titular role in Jans Rautenbach's Abraham and his likable and sweet nature endears us to him, despite his rebellious path, making it easier to get through the nastier side of gang and prison life.

Noem My Skollie is set in '60s Cape Town and the film-makers have gone to great lengths to recreate the life and times quite masterfully, giving the film an air of authenticity from production design to wardrobe and language. Broadcasts on the wireless, props from the '60s, fashion throwbacks, vehicles and a detailed depiction of life in the impoverished gang lands of the Cape Flats truly bring the era to life. This environment is further grounded by language, slang and even tattoos, which weave the characters into the backdrop.

The story is reminiscent of City of God as we track the lives of four troubled youths played by Austin Rose, Ethan Patton, Joshua Vraagom and Valentino de Klerk, who resort to crime in order to protect themselves, pave their way and exorcise their demons. It's not quite as beautifully shot or realistic and doesn't throb with the same life force, but does have its own flavour with an ensemble of earnest performances that make it difficult to tell who's acting and who's re-living a chapter from their own lives.

Noem my Skollie 2016

"...and it'll be called Straight Outta Cape Town."

The sincerity festers in this gritty prison drama as difficult-to-watch moments punctuate the film and create a taut and intense atmosphere. Noem My Skollie a captivating experience, which continues to fascinate with a charming lead and insightful behind-the-scenes drama from a man who witnessed much of what's going on. AB and Gimba's relationship goes through a series of twists-and-turns as the two gang "brothers" take different paths after committing a crime that lands them in jail. Dann Jaques Mouton and Gantane Kusch have some fractious undercurrents, which hint at a much deeper history, while "Gums" is quite terrifying as a devious and psychotic gang leader in the cell.

What stops this authentic, honest and gritty crime drama from reaching true greatness is that the storytelling is scattershot. We move from a sweeping multi-generational tale of blood brothers, into a gritty prison drama about a storyteller, onto a doomed romance for an ever-changing film that seems like it's trying to unearth a character portrait. In trying to check so many boxes, it compounds the running time, losing some edge in the process. While the story lacks focus, the film's underlying quality, earnest nature and authenticity are strong enough to hold us captive.

The bottom line: Veracious


 
Talking Movies with Spling - Florence Foster Jenkins, Star Trek Beyond and Midnight Special


Spling reviews Florence Foster Jenkins, Star Trek Beyond and Midnight Special as broadcast on Talking Movies, Fine Music Radio. Catch Talking Movies on Fridays at 8:20am and Saturdays at 8:15am every week on Fine Music Radio.

 
Movie Review: Star Trek Beyond


Star Trek Beyond is the third film in the latest iteration of Star Trek. The first two films, Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness, were directed by J.J. Abrams, but since he's crossed over to the Star Wars camp with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, they've forced him to pick a side to keep peace on earth. Star Trek Beyond was entrusted to Justin Lin, a director who has made a name for himself directing Fast and the Furious sequels, a series with a growing ensemble and big effects. Lin has shown his ability to wield the demands of an ever-broadening franchise, which probably made him a good choice for Star Trek.

Knowing that Lin was onboard is enough to know the direction that Abrams had planned for Star Trek, leaning on the audio-visual elements without losing track of the characters or their journeys. In this sequel, we find the crew of the Enterprise stranded and scattered across a mysterious planet following a surprise attack from Krall and his battalion, who are trying to locate a powerful ancient artifact.

Chris Pine's mature take on Captain Kirk shows a man who has grown weary of his ceaseless missions and seeking to start a new chapter. Zachary Quinto explores Mr. Spock's human traits more as he develops a buddy movie dynamic with Karl Urban as Bones, who gets much more focus. Simon Pegg also gets more screen time, giving each of the key characters more space to grow without the insurgence factor of Benedict Cumberbatch as Khan in Star Trek Into Darkness.

Star Trek Beyond movie review

"It's HUGE... but is it a flashlight or a 'flashsword'?"

Instead of Khan, we have Krall (do they just look them up in the phone book?), a foreboding enemy played by Idris Elba. You almost can't recognise the man under all the prosthetics and make up, but his voice, size and eyes have a familiarity. He's somewhat restricted by his get up, but the dictator's mysterious and sinister plans make him intimidating in an Idi Amin sort of way. The screenplay seems to be hinting at a political undercurrent, talking about struggle and even casting Elba, who's also known for his towering performance as Mandela in Long Walk to Freedom, however this isn't fully explored.

It may have had more resonance if the film wasn't so geared towards full-speed-ahead action. Lin's experience shines through, managing to balance the performances against the visual effects and the deep space warfare against the hand-to-hand combat. After recovering from the initial flurry of outer space peril, this action-intensive sequel becomes even more relentless, only slowing down to catch jokes and then thrusting forward into the next action sequence. The visuals effects are seamless, drawing us into the futuristic world of the Enterprise and contrasting that against the wilderness of the strange planet they find themselves trapped on.

The audio is just as dynamic moving from starship collisions, force fields and hi-tech weaponry blasts to old school dance and alternative music. Star Trek Beyond has definitely been influenced by Guardians of the Galaxy, incorporating a similar blend of action, comedy, teamwork, irreverence and mix tape charm and Sofia Boutella. It remains invested in Star Trek thanks to the classic line-up of characters, but there's a fresh attitude thanks to this influence, making the sci-fi adventure more of a rollicking yarn than a pensive allegory for the War on Terrorism.

This fun-loving tone makes Star Trek Beyond all about the entertainment: disaster movie, buddy movie, heist and survival adventure... this sequel has it all. From letting Chris Pine pull off some stunts worthy of Steve McQueen in The Great Escape to culminating in a colossal action moment to the tune of The Beastie Boys, Star Trek Beyond has a fearless streak to it. The wink-wink charm of the cast and the full-blown action are probably just what Abrams was wanting when Lin replaced him and they've managed to pull it off in a similar way to the roller-coaster ride that isĀ Jurassic World.

Anton Yelchin's haunting performance is a strange coincidence when you think about Lin's connection with Paul Walker in Fast & Furious 7. However, apart from a credit tribute, the film-makers have opted to steer clear of any heartwarming in-movie moments. It's probably what Yelchin would've wanted, being the pro he was, yet it still feels tragic. The creeping sadness is offset by some hilarious moments, especially between the odd couple of Mr. Spock and Bones.

All in all, Star Trek Beyond is a great popcorn blockbuster, designed to entertain and carry the torch without taking itself too seriously. It manages to accomplish its objectives, borrowing the tone of the Guardians of the Galaxy and formula of The Fast and Furious to create a spectacular and entertaining sequel.

The bottom line: Enjoyable


 
Talking Movies with Spling - Kubo and the Two Strings, Nerve and Miracles from Heaven


Spling reviews Kubo and the Two Strings, Nerve and Miracles from Heaven as broadcast on Talking Movies, Fine Music Radio. Catch Talking Movies on Fridays at 8:20am and Saturdays at 8:15am every week on Fine Music Radio.

 
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