Film Guide - April 4, 2014

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TO SW GuideCaptain . Captain America: The Winter Soldier

NEW RELEASES

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

Hours: Paul Walker’s last film has him playing a father trying to save his newborn baby in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. *** TS

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

Oldboy: A man is locked away in a room for no reason, only to be released after two decades and he seeks revenge. Not the best offering from Spike Lee but good on a bad film day. ** MV

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

Werther (Massenet): Jonas Kaufmann and Sophie Koch star in a new staging by Richard Eyre of Massenet’s tragic romance at The Metropolitan Opera in New York. (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. Difficult to watch, but essential viewing. **** WP

300: Rise of an Empire: lots of slow motion shots of guys being impaled on swords and blood spraying around. Companion piece to the original film, though Eva Green gets a whole lot more screen time than Lena Headey did in the original. ** TS

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

Agent 2000 Die Laksman: Afrikaans teen high school movie, from the same stable as Hoofmeisie, but with more emphasis on the boys this time. (Not Reviewed)

American Hustle: Crazy funny ensemble piece from director David O Russell garnered 10 Oscar nominations and features an excellent soundtrack and art direction. **** TS

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

Dallas Buyers Club: The true-life story of redneck rodeo cowboy-turned-unwitting eighties HIV/AIDS activist, Ronald Woodroof. Oscar-winning performances by Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto. **** LdM

Four Corners: A visually arresting slalom through the gang-infested badlands of the Cape Flats. Four storylines converge around the theme of absent father figures and impossible choices. *** WS

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

I, Frankenstein: Gargoyles and demons fight about who wants to make friends with Frankenstein’s monster. And somehow still manages to bog this down in cliché with no plot or character development. ** TS

Monuments Men: Noble intention, but strangely slowly paced and it just hits you over the head with the message that art is important. Yes, it is but show us why, don’t tell us. ** TS

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

Muppets Most Wanted: It’s a Muppets sequel filled with celebrity cameos and fuzzy puppets. Decidedly for the fans. *** TS

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. ** HR

Pad Na Jou Hart: Strongly scripted and well paced, this is a sweet road trip movie with a heavy rom-com leaning. *** TS

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

Pompeii: Although aesthetically beautiful, director Paul W S Anderson’s shortcoming is in his telling of a love story against the adventurous backdrop of an erupting Mount Vesuvius. Big on the gladiator action but pitiable on the overall execution. A box-office disaster in the making. ** DT

Prince Igor: The plot may be more holy than righteous, but the subtext around the stresses suffered by soldiers at war is intriguing and the mainly Russian and East European cast make for vocal all-embracing characterisation and authenticity in this MET opera. **** PB

Reasonable Doubt: The pace is brisk but the over-emphatic score does nothing to detract from the plotholes. The predictable ending does not help either. ** HR

Ride Along: Ice Cube plays the straight man to Kevin Hart’s crazy little fellow in a funny buddy cop movie. Clichéd plot, but amusing in the moment thanks to Hart’s schtick. ** TS

Saving Mr Banks: When Disney Productions do a good job, they go all out. Here’s their version how Walt Disney persuaded PL Travers to let him make their seminal movie, Mary Poppins. Touching performance from Emma Thompson. **** TS

The Best Man Holiday: Malcolm D Lee rekindles the charm of The Best Man in this sequel over a decade later. His conflicted characters are united by their friendship, which sees them survive troubles in their relationships. This is a film about friendships, faith and family and is laden with comic and bittersweet moments. *** DT

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

The Spectacular Now: A hard-partying high school senior’s perspective on life changes when he meets the not-so-typical “nice girl”. This dialogue-heavy coming-of-age story manages to avoid the clichés and features strong leads. **** WP

The Wolf of Wall Street: Martin Scorsese’s film is centred on Jordan Belfort, a real-life swindler and penny-stock conman. **** WP

Tyler Perry’s Single Mom’s Club: While the writer/ director/actor touches all the demographics, he swops humour and emotion for a plodding pace and contrived proceedings. ** HR

Vrou Soek Boer: Veering wildly between clichéd storyline and brutally honest insights, this Afrikaans movie is more rom than com as it hones in on the divide between Joburg’s fast-paced lifestyle and the platteland’s slower approach. ** TS

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