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Crazy Heart [ 2009 ] [ Hits:3969 ]
Review: Bridges delivers a powerful performance in Crazy Heart as the story follows ‘Bad’ Blake, a whiskey-swigging legend of a musician, who would trade horses for a guitar. His music has inspired a generation of country and western performers, yet his high regard hasn’t translated into the high life the way he’d want it to be. His alcoholism and loneliness are crunch factors that keep Bad, well… bad. He’s bad to the bone and destined to be that way until he meets Jean Craddock, a young jou...

An Education [ 2009 ] [ Hits:4202 ]
Review: An Education is the story of Jenny, a precocious teenage girl living in suburban London in the 1960s. This coming-of-age drama deals with her transition from school girl to refined woman, as a well-to-do suitor nearly twice her age sweeps her off her feet. The education she receives is one on morality, ethics and coping in the big bad world. While the premise does open itself to teen exploitation in the same league of The Babysitters, it's mild in comparison with Lolita and is as prim and proper...

Up in the Air [ 2009 ] [ Hits:4682 ]
Review: Have you ever been fired or had to fire someone? It's never nice. In fact, the experience is generally terrible and is considered to have gone well if there's no incident. It's the reason bosses let people go on a Friday. We think we're defined by our jobs. It's the first thing anyone ever asks upon introduction, "So what do you do for a living?". I guess that's why it's so painful... taking the very thing that defines or establishes us in society and whipping it right out from under us. There's...

Brothers [ 2009 ] [ Hits:4030 ]
Review: Brothers is a Jim Sheridan film, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Tobey Maguire and Natalie Portman. Sheridan's film career highlights include: My Left Foot and In The Name of the Father, in which he received Oscar nominations for writing and directing. Two films in which prolifiic Oscar-winning actor, Daniel Day-Lewis stars. However, Brothers is not a Day-Lewis Oscar vehicle and the screenplay is adapted by acclaimed screenwriter, David Benioff. Brothers was inspired by Brødre, a 2004 film by award-w...

Last Exit to Brooklyn [ 1989 ] [ Hits:5205 ]
Review: Last Exit to Brooklyn has just been released to DVD in South Africa. Was it to commemorate its 30th anniversary, did Stephen Lang's performance in Avatar renew interest in it or was it a mistake? Whatever the case, it gave me a chance to watch this controversial cult movie based on the book by Hubert Selby Jr. The film was going to cause scandal one way or another, with Uli Edel (Der Baader Meinhof Komplex) at the helm as director, after gaining recognition for one of his first films, Christiane...

Departures [ 2008 ] [ Hits:5089 ]
Review: Departures is a masterpiece by Yôjirô Takita (Onmyogi), transcending Japanese culture and breaking into the very essence of humanity. The story follows Daigo, a cellist who returns to his home town after the disbanding of his city orchestra and the crashing sound of his dream to become a professional musician. From the age of 6, his cello was his source of inspiration and channel for emotional turmoil as a result of his father's abandonment. Now after purchasing an expensive cello, his destiny...

The Visitor [ 2007 ] [ Hits:4691 ]
Review: The Visitor is written and directed by Tom McCarthy (The Station Agent). McCarthy's beautiful film carries a relatively simple story about enlightenment in post 9/11 Amercia, which is embodied by an invigorating Oscar-nominated performance from character actor, Richard Jenkins. This is a career best for the veteran actor after more than 33 years of acting experience, who is instantly recognisable, but difficult to place in any particular movie or performance. Recently, he's been the doting gym m...

Looking for Eric [ Hits:6172 ]
Review: Looking for Eric is an underdog movie from Ken Loach about football, Manchester, the post office and French football legend Eric Cantona. A post office worker named Eric Bishop, played by Steve Evets, suffers a nervous breakdown and tries to reclaim his sense of self with the help of philosophical football hero, Eric Cantona. Eric attempts to reconnect with an old flame, get his boys on the straight-and-narrow and win back his self-esteem with the guidance of Cantona, who appears to him after pa...

Izulu Lami [ 2008 ] [ Hits:11091 ]
Review: Izulu Lami is a South African film with a focus on street kids in Durban. The film encounters several themes surrounding children in South Africa including: a local fallacy that Aids can be cured by sleeping with a virgin, the problems with glue-sniffing street kids and petty crime. These contentious issues could easily recreate another City of God scenario in the slums of Durban, however the film's approach has been compared with Slumdog Millionaire. Although, it's unfair to even contrast Izulu...

Crossing Over [ 2009 ] [ Hits:3504 ]
Review: Crossing Over is a confrontational drama in the same league as films like Babel, Bordertown and Crash. Race relations are the subject matter, and immigration is the taboo that rises to the surface in this engaging story about the intersecting lives of Americans and immigrants seeking to be naturalised or granted status as American citizens. The characters come from all walks of life... including nationalities, colours and cultures that make the United States such a wonderful cross-section of hum...

Disgrace [ 2008 ] [ Hits:6874 ]
Review: Disgrace is a film adaptation of J.M.Coetzee's novel of the same title, which won such prestigious awards as the Booker Prize and Nobel Prize in Literature. The film is directed by Steve Jacobs, written by Anna Maria Monticelli and stars the indomitable John Malkovich. Disgrace has been the centre of much debate in South Africa, primarily caused by the ANC labeling it as "too pessimistic" a view of South Africa. International audiences and literature authorities have praised it for its brutal ho...

Waitress [ 2007 ] [ Hits:3464 ]
Review: Waitress isn’t a conventional romantic comedy. It’s a film that has a touch of Nurse Betty and a drop of The Good Girl. Renee Zellweger starred as a nurse, who was infatuated with the ideals of a soap star and wanted to escape her life. Jennifer Aniston played the frustrated supermarket assistant, who decided to enter an unlikely relationship to find solace from a meaningless life. Waitress is similar in its make up, and Keri Russell (August Rush) is a depressed waitress, who is fed up with ...

He Was A Quiet Man [ 2007 ] [ Hits:3593 ]
Review: He Was A Quiet Man is different from most Hollywood movies. Different is good in this case, as Christian Slater takes on the role of Milton from Office Space. He’s the overlooked, bullied and quiet office worker, who is both irrelevant and indistinct. His lonely existence and monotonous work schedule leave a hollow soul, twisted by insignificance. This is Bob Maconel (Slater), a compassionate man, whose repressed anger and isolation makes him a threat to the company. He’s had enough and want...

Evening [ 2007 ] [ Hits:3473 ]
Review: Evening is beautifully filmed by Oscar-nominated cinematographer and director, Lajos Koltai. The movie is an adaptation of Susan Minot’s novel and tells the romantic past and emotional present of a woman in her last days. Ann Grant (Redgrave) recalls a turning point in her life 50 years earlier from her deathbed as her daughters try to make sense of their lives. It’s a drama that combines what could be two separate films to tell of one woman’s regrets and desires. The ensemble is dominated...

Away From Her [ 2007 ] [ Hits:3108 ]
Review: Away From Her is an adaptation of Alice Munro’s short story “The Bear Came Over The Mountain” as a married couple in their 60s find themselves separated from each other, when one is instituionalised with Alzheimer’s disease. It’s a film about life, love and marriage. A retired couple living in Canada find themselves drifting toward the end of their relationship. Grant (Pisent) is deeply in love with Fiona (Christie) and the two have built a solid marriage over 45 years. Fiona has Alzhe...

Confessions of a Gambler [ 2007 ] [ Hits:4232 ]
Review: Confessions of a Gambler is a film adaptation of Rayda Jacobs’s acclaimed novel of the same title. The story concerns a humble Muslim woman, who develops a gambling addiction when her son dies of Aids. This is an important film that has the creative finishes of Jacobs, but lacks the finesse of a bigger budget. Confessions of a Gambler still carries dramatic weight and serves as an honest, authentic and ironic take on life behind the veil. The translation into film retains much of what made the...

One More Night [ 2007 ] [ Hits:3509 ]
Review: One More Night a.k.a. The Lather Effect follows in the tradition of The Big Chill. A group of thirty-something friends get together for an ’80s rager party. We open on the next morning, and besides being “TPed”, the house is simply chaos. The remaining guests are the die hards, and either they can’t take a hint or they’re struggling to disconnect their roots from the past. The latter (not lather) is the case and each character recounts their drunken exploits from the previous night onl...

Rachel Getting Married [ 2008 ] [ Hits:3175 ]
Review: Rachel Getting Married is a film by Oscar-winning director, Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs), starring Anne Hathaway and Rosemarie DeWitt. The lead pair are sisters with a history of sibling rivalry. Hathaway plays Kym, who has just been through a serious stint at rehab, while DeWitt is Rachel, her older sister who is about to be married. The two have excellent chemistry, which translates into a shared history - and they even look related. The casting was key in this relationship and Rosema...

Elegy [ Hits:3560 ]
Review: Elegy is a film adaptation of Philip Roth’s ‘The Dying Animal’. The movie stars Ben Kingsley and Penelope Cruz with support from Dennis Hopper, Patricia Clarkson and Peter Sarsgaard. An elegy is a poem usually associated with funeral’s. While Elegy is concerned with the latter portion of David Kepesh’s life, it doesn’t share a funeral pace or come across as flowery or symptomatic of its title. Isabel Coixet (The Secret Life of Words) paints an insightful adaptation, which relies on a...

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas [ 2008 ] [ Hits:4389 ]
Review: The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas has a compelling premise that sets this story apart from other Holocaust stories. The only comparison would be to imagine Life is Beautiful without Roberto Benigni’s charm and jest. The story is told through the eyes of Bruno, an 8-year-old German boy during the Second World War. His Aryan eyes and dark brown hair show the hypocrisy of this harrowing tale. Originally, author John Boyne set out to write a children’s story, which found favour with adults too. The...

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