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Film Guide - April 25, 2014

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NEW RELEASES

Die Windpomp: Vibrant images and eccentric characters make for a sweet love story with a quirky twist. It’s about teenagers but works because they’ve got enough depth to come across as real. *** TS

Endless Love: Super bland and insipid remake of an already boring love story supposedly about pretty teenagers obsessively in love with each other to the horror of their parents. No substance whatsoever. ** TS

Fruitvale Station: Passionately told and powerfully acted, this film is as much a celebration of life as it is a condemnation of the death of Oscar Grant, a San Francisco Bay Area ex-convict famously and fatally shot by a transit police officer in 2009. **** AP

iNumber Number: Smartly directed heist action film with tense sequences leavened by a welcome (slight) bit of comedy. *** TS

Parkland: The perspective on the assassination of JFK is fresh, looking from the doctors and nurses at the hospital’s point of view, but it never quite gels. *** WP

The Amazing Spider-man 2: The Rise of Electro: Marc Webb’s confident directing and strong cast entertain but don’t always overcome the stilted narrative. *** HR

12.12.12.: Live action documentary about a telecast hosted on American TV two years ago to make money for victims of Hurricane Sandy. (Not reviewed)

ON CIRCUIT

12 Years a Slave: Steve McQueen’s searing adaptation of the true-life account of a free black man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in the pre-Civil War South. Essential viewing. **** WP

About Last Night: A rom-com remake based on a play by David Mamet revolving around two best friends and their quest for love, sex and friendship. *** AK

August: Osage County: An emotionally draining take on the Pulitzer prize-winning melodramatic play. Features strong ensemble, with Oscar-nominated performances for Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts. **** TS

Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier: Both a fun superhero action movie and an intriguing political spy thriller, this one takes the Marvel characters into a darker place where good and bad are one side of a strange coin. Good character development and excellent old fashion fight sequences. **** TS

Devil’s Due: Centres on newlyweds who are unknowingly about to become parents to the Antichrist. The feeble plot plays out like a blueprint of Paranormal Activity. Bottom line, the scares are scarce. The only evil thing is this movie posing as a horror. ** DT

Divergent: Another YA book turned film, this time with the theme of forging your own identity and featuring a heroine who has to train at fighting to save the day. Or was that Hunger Games? *** TS

Europa Report: This claustrophobic, slow-burning thriller puts the science back into science-fiction. Featuring Sharlto Copley and Embeth Davidtz.*** HR

Grand Budapest Hotel: A whimsical, if somewhat absurdist slice-of-life tale set against the backdrop of the pre-World War II era, with stellar performances by Ralph Fiennes and equally impressive cameo roles, including Tilda Swinton and Adrien Brody. **** LdM

Konfetti: Taking its cue from Louw Venter’s one man stage play The Best Man’s Speech, this dramady gives us the worst possible person to arrange your wedding. *** TS

Legend of Hercules: Badly acted, and cheaply made this one is just dull as dishwater. * WP

Mr Peabody & Sherman: Surprisingly entertaining bursts of fun despite the dated source material and convoluted plot. *** WP

Noah: Darren Aranofsky brings the Bible story into the 21st century with sweeping visuals and strong performances. *** AP

Need for Speed: This video game adaptation lives up to its name when the stunt drivers are behind the wheel, but there’s little to no story or characterisation. Not as sexy as Fast & Furious, as fast as Speed Racer or as mythic as The Road Warrior, this just suffers in comparison. HH HR

Non-Stop: Director Jaume Collett-Serra keeps the pace taut and the atmosphere tense, but this only works as long as you buy into the red herrings and even Liam Neeson can’t keep this from falling apart in the end. *** TS

Once Chance: An inspirational true story that transcends its formulaic telling with humour, heart and a pair of strong lead performances. *** HR

Out of the Furnace: Director Scott Cooper may not make quite enough use of his stellar cast in this character study, but Christian Bale, Casey Affleck, Chris Cooper, Forest Whitaker, Zoe Saldana and Woody Harrelson make for compelling viewing, nonetheless. *** WP

Philomena: The heartwrenching real-life story of Philomena Lee, whose search for her long-lost son reveals decades of deceit, religious corruption, illegal activities and, ultimately, broken lives. *** LdM

Rio 2: Bright, chipper, lots of colour and animated birds singing their hearts out because everyone is just so happy, even if the loggers are coming to chop down the forest. *** TS

Sabotage: Arnold Schwarzenegger’s better than usual performance is wasted amidst gratuitous, grueling violence that serves no purpose. ** WP

Son of God: The faithful may love the story, but on a cinematic level it is just heavy-handed and dull. ** WP

That Awkward Moment: Easily forgettable rom-com starring Zac Efron about three friends who vow to stay single yet inevitably get involved in relationships. * AK

The Forgotten Kingdom: Beautifully shot exploration of the Basotho people of Lesotho combines an enchanting road trip movie with the exploration of the concept of urbanisation and the loss of roots. Well-acted and directed with love for the country and people. **** TO

The Lego Movie: Awesome combination of retro Lego blocks and clean modern cgi with absurd one-liners, lots of wit and heart and Batman. Because Batman rules. **** TS

CAPE TOWN ONLY

Reality: A small-time fishmonger becomes obsessed with being a contestant on Big Brother. An intelligent dark comedy that offers an alternate perspective on reality-tv. **** AK

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