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Riveting, but different
This story is set in a little known part of rural South Africa, known as Kannaland, which is in the little Karoo, near Oudtshoorn. From the opening scene, right till the end, I was struck by how well the stark beauty of this part of south Africa had been caught. The main character of the story is a man called Abraham who tries to support his wife and daughter by making sculptures of animals which he sees in the landscape around him. The soundtrack is in the local Afrikaans dialect, but you don't need to worry if you don't speak the dialect, because the English sub-titles capture the nuances of what is being said very well.
Early in the film, Abraham meets a local farmer and persuades him to start buying his sculptures, which are then placed in appropriate locations in the bush in the vicinity. Abraham's difficult family circumstances are well represented and if you watch the film be prepared for moments of sadness.
To sum up, this film is shot with extreme sensitivity. It will keep your attention till the end and is well worth trying to find.
Not a conventional RomCom but you won't stop laughing
Don't be put off because the film has an Afrikaans sound track. The English sub-titles are more than adequate. Above all don't try to guess what's going to happen. The story line is pretty simple but there are so many twists and turns with bizarre characters twisting their way through that you'd never get it right. Add to that the visual beauty of Knysna and you've got a winning formula. I wouldn't be able to single out any of the cast as best. The director has melded them i to a hilarious group. The final scene is just that - a beautifully balanced climax. Finally, what a pleasure to have no violence, sex I'm prepared to bet you come out feeling refreshed -I certainly did.
Under the Skin (2013)
Boring and Incomprehensible
I started watching this movie because it had featured in the UK Guardian's list of top movies for 2014, both in UK & USA. I thought that with Scarlett Johannsen in the lead it was not to be missed. I actually gave up after about 40 minutes, something which I rarely do.
Since then, I've been trying to figure out why I had such a negative reaction. In part, I think it's the theme of an alien visiting the earth. Nowadays, there are all too many movies with extra-terrestrial themes and frankly I find them not at all engaging. To give Scarlett Johannsen her due, she does act the part very well. I think it was her skill that persuaded me to watch the movie as long as I did. I assumed that it would mutate into something with a story-line that would grip until its ending climax. By 40 minutes, this just hadn't happened for me.
I'm prepared to concede that, like all movie fans, my tastes are very individual and that is something I have to live with. But for anyone who might read this review, be warned that this is a movie that can only be described as "different". You may find it absolutely compelling, but be prepared for this not to be so.
Excellent, but dark without light relief
Be prepared for a story which moves slowly and relentlessly forward. It is impossible to guess the direction in which it moves, so I shall not give any hint of the story line. The film is set in a very remote location in rural South Africa. For those who don't know the country, just seeing it in this film will be an education. The two main characters are sensitively drawn and the film is a wonderful example of the telling of a story that is probably uniquely South African, given our appalling apartheid history. I've characterized the film as "dark" and this extends to the director's choice of subdued coloring of the landscape scenes.
In summary, a film for those who want to understand South Africa better and who are prepared to be harrowed by the way in which a tragic story is told.
Organ Works (1996)
An education even if you already know a bit about the organ
As a schoolboy, I lived with organ music daily and the music master made sure that we were informed about how and why organs worked the way they do. What Howard Goodall does in a way that's both entertaining and educational is to share facts about the history of the organ and how it is built. He does this by taking you to see organs on both sides of the Atlantic which are historic landmarks - the oldest organ in the world, in Spain, for instance. Unfortunately, it no longer functions, but just seeing it is an event. He visits really big organs and takes the viewer behind the scenes, so that you can see how the complex and beautiful mechanisms that allow organs to make their glorious noise actually work. Finally, he looks at what technology has achieved by making electronic keyboards sound unbelievably like the conventional organs that we have learned the history of. He demonstrates this in Alexandra Palace in London, where he lets blindfolded students hear the very large pipe organ and an electronic cousin and asking them which is which.
In short, Howard Goodall does it again. He makes music more interesting and more lovable.
Long Street (2009)
A different film
To watch this film, you have to be prepared for a very unconventional way of story-telling. For the first half of the film, the characters seem unconnected, but persevere and you will be rewarded. It's a portrait of a family that's completely at odds with my own experience, but I can empathize with it and be very glad that I have not had experiences like these. As Sia, Sanni Fox is enigmatic, as anyone with her personal travails would be. Her parents, played by David Butler and Roberta Fox, made me feel both sorry for them and angry because they did so little to change their lives.
I lived and worked in Cape Town for over twenty years and the photography brought memories of the beauty of the city. Not only the sweeping panoramas of the mountain, but also shots of urban landscape.
Film-making in South Africa has not reached the heights of what we see from Australia & New Zealand. here's one film that allows us to hope that this may change.
Crude Impact (2006)
An excellent counterbalance to Inconvenient Truth
This film examines the way in which the petrochemical industry has manipulated events around the world to its advantage. Much of the film deals with the role of Shell in Nigeria, specifically about the Ogoni people and Ken Saru Wiwa - they don't come out too well. Anyone who cares about what humanity is doing to the world should see it. I characterize it as a counter to Al Gore's film, because it is made completely dispassionately (the commentary is completely unemotional). It just tries to get the viewer thinking about the awful things that are done in our name. As a non-American who has watched Inconvenient Truth a number of times for professional reasons, I am skeptical about the motives for making it. Crude Impact is completely different in this regard.
One of a kind - truly!
As a South African, I have just been riveted by this film. It is not an entertaining film. Thought provoking would be a better description.
Though made a year before, it throws light on what the Bali Conference was all about. The theme of the film - what the first world has done and continues to do to Africa - is of the utmost importance and the device used by the director to get his message across is just appropriate. It's just not possible to describe what you will see - just see it. If you watch it, you must see the interview with the director, for it helps to put the whole extraordinary film into perspective. He trained in Russia you can see the influence of Eisenstein and other Russian directors. I've deliberately not talked much about what you will see. The element of surprise is central to the success of the film.
An Inconvenient Truth (2006)
Title says it all
Whenever we are made to face unpleasant facts, we look for ways to ignore them. As a South African I did it with respect to apartheid. Climate change is just such an issue, because in order to confront this truth, we have to do inconvenient things, like driving smaller cars, switching off the air-conditioning. Yes, there will be incorrect details in this movie, but the overall message is so clearly correct. The movie is enthralling - Al Gore is a self-effacing star in the best sense. I urge everyone who cares what we leave our children to see it, go home, think and act. The reason I say act is because this dilemma will not be solved by grand gestures from politicians (who are always self interested.) It needs you and me, our friends and enemies to act in such way that we shame our leaders into real action.
Go see the movie.
A Must See movie
For South Africans, both resident and in exile, this film is likely to be a harrowing experience. It shows us some of the consequences of what we allowed to be done in our name.
Cinematically, the film is superb, partly because it is so understated. It is probably an insight into a way of life all to common in African metropolises. Whilst it shows the way of life in shanty towns and was, I know, filmed in authentic locations, I found myself wondering whether the coloring was just a bit rosy, but that is a very minor criticism.
The director has coaxed a performance from his lead actor which is, I think, a landmark. So much of the performance is visual - he says very little. He is supported by a bevy of other characters which those familiar with South Africa will recognize all to easily.
If you do not have a South African connection, see the movie as an insight into our way of life. See it because it is a story worth telling and therefore worth seeing.