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Excellent character study
Zatopek van Heerden is bright and is a rather likable and intelligent guy with multiple degrees in psychology, and he just started working as a criminal profiler for the SAPD.
Throw in his partner, an old-fashioned detective who distrusts computers and believes the only way to catch a criminal is with good old-fashioned police work: following clues, crossing possible suspects off lists. But profiling is rubbish - he believes you can't predict the criminals'.
Until one day Zatopek knowingly make a wrong choice, and three lives spiral out of control.
Unable to forgive himself, he turns to self-loathing and destruction, making every body around him miserable. Eventually he takes on a case and slowly he claws himself back out of the hole he has dug himself, realizing that he will need all of his wit if he is to survive the ending to this mystery and save the woman he has come to see as his Savior.
Neil Sandilands delivers a powerful performance as a human. His Zatopek van Heerden makes mistakes, can't shoot to save his life, walks blindly into traps, picks fights with the the cream of the society, phones sex-lines when he is lonely, describes himself as "trash" and tries to calm his devils with the bottle.
How refreshing it is to see the full metamorphosis of a man and every emotion in between. To be able to see the effect (by means of back-flashes) that choices in his past has had on his life, is richly rewarded by Sandinland's performance. It's nice to see he has grown as an actor since his "7de Laan" days.
I'm looking forward to the next of Deon Meyer's books to be filmed. He writes the greatest unlikable anti-heroes as his protagonists. And that is what I liked about Zatopek van Heerden: people are like that.
The Merchant of Venice (2004)
Shakespeare still mystifies the audience
Hats off for any director who decides do make a period drama with Shakespearian language and then manages to pull it off convincingly. More so if it just happens do be "The Merchant of Venice" which is Shakespeare's most controversial play and, after "Hamlet", his biggest and perhaps most audacious work.
Gone is the modernization og language, the twentieth century idioms and clothing. Gone is the poetic license to rewrite the play and give us something under the banner of Shakespeare.
No, what we see here is a movie that stays true to the play, a movie that follows a great vision from an even greater writer.
Instead of having Di Caprio or Hawke playing light-weight title characters, the director shows us the measure of his passion with this play that none other than the true screen legends of Al Pacino and Jeremy Irons would do.
Assisted by the remarkable Joesph Fiennes, who turns in his second Shaekespearian adaptation since "Shakespeare in Love", he has turned into a good Shakespeare actor.
"The Merchant of Venice" is about more than just entertainment. Like the works on which it is based, the movie tells a deeper tale of passion, pride, love, hatred and above all else is a tale about the destructive, yet nurturing, power of any one man's passions.
Simply an outstanding work of art.
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
A Triumph of the Human Spirit
I saw this movie at the end of a particularly bad and miserable day in my life and it is safe to say that I was not particularly looking forward to this one.
Two and a half hours later I was on my feet again and was once more prepared to look the world in the eyes. Such is the power of this movie.
Tim Robbins plays a sincere man who is sent to to jail for a crime he did not commit. Inside, he meets extraordinary human beings, all of who you will fall in love with within minutes of meeting them. Chief among these is the character of Red, played by none other than the legendary Morgan Freeman.
Together with Andy and Red you learn about life and friendship and the evils inherent in human nature. You laugh with them, are sad with them and feel their pain, and in the end, when the two friends meet again on a remote beach years later, you finally break down and cry with them.
This movie is emotionally powerful and reminds us once again what the movies should be.
It is not sentimental in any way, and that is a rarity these days. And if you do not feel sad, and your heart does not beat faster with Morgan Freeman's soliloquoy at the end, you cannot call yourself human. For, then, you have missed one of the greatests gifts one can receive: a passion for life.
Alexander perhaps Oliver Stone's crowning achievement
With Gladiator, Braveheart, Saving Private Ryan and The Last of the Mohicans being at the top of my favourites list of movies, it is safe to say that I am an avid follower of movies that is set against a historic background. With Alexander, I expected much of the same.
Knowing the history of Alexander and having seen the different trailers, I expected a feast of action and battles of epic proportions, not to mention a screenplay such as only Oliver Stone can dream up. What I got, however, was more of the latter and less of the former.
The point I'm trying to bring across is: not always getting what you expect, is often far more satisfying in the end.
Instead of focusing on Alexander's feats and achievements, we are instead shown WHY he he did what he did. What motivated him? Colin Farrell portrays Alexander as a human being who achieved feats worthy of the Gods his character tries to equal. He brings emotion and compassion to such an extraordinary human being, in being able to coldly issue order to kill some of his childhood friends, while also being able to instantly rally all of his men to follow him a few months longer.
Angelina Jolie as his mother is spot-on as his cunning mother, although her accent is a little too over-the-top. And Anthony Hopkins, in perhaps the most difficult role in the movie as narrator, turns in an emotionally charged and awe-inspiring few minutes.
There is not one member of the cast that does not deliver what is required, but one that stands out is Val Kilmer in a binding performance.
The cinematography is excellent. To me the most beautiful scene in the entire movie is at Gaugamela in the dessert when, in the middle of the battle, Alexander spots Darius and mounts his horse to go after his father's enemy. Accompanied by Vangelis' powerful score, this scene gave me goosebumps.
"Alexander" delivers a tour de force through the mind of an individual who was ahead of his time. What an incredible movie this was!