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Thursday, March 10, 2011

New Movies Release Roundup

However much I love writing for channel24, it is sometimes slightly annoying that I don't get to review all the movies that I see. This week is especially noticeable for being a big week for movies and yet I only have one new review to show for it. I will start sending more reviews and articles to Artslink.co.za but I have also decided to start a new weekly (I hope) feature on my blog dedicated to giving a quick overview of what is coming out on South African cinemas that Friday. I couldn't think of a better week to start this in than one that has both a rubbish alien invasion movie AND a Justin Bieber documentary!


 Despite Justin Bieber being a seemingly ubiquitous force in the media, I'm pleased to announce that I had never actually heard a single song by the teenybopper before seeing Justin Bieber: Never Say Never. After seeing the film, I can safely say that I will continue avoiding his work like the plague. Here's the thing though: Not only was the film itself not too bad, I don't really think his music is any worse than 99% of the crap they play on Top 40 radio. There is certainly a much more sinister undercurrent running through the film, in that Bieber is ultimately a young kid being exposed to an insane amount of fame and not-so-arguably being manipulated by adults to make them loads and loads of money. Otherwise though, it's a perfectly cute little film with 3D that actually suits the concert portion of the film and Bieber comes across as perfectly likable. In other words, its great for 14-year-old girls, not so great for anyone older. (5/10)

Battle: Los Angeles is an alien invasion movie whose only real redeeming feature is that it reminded me just how good the very silly and very cheesy Independence Day actually was. In fact, it will probably remind you of all those other alien invasion stories that are leagues better than Battle: LA. I'm currently nearing the end of Arthur C Clarke's brilliant 50s alien invasion novel, Childhood's End and, boy, does Battle: LA look bad by comparison. Here's the main problem with Battle: LA: It is exceptionally and head-smashingly dull. It takes the most uninteresting possible approach to alien invasions and runs with it for 2 hours. A bunch of faceless military folk shooting the stuffing out of faceless aliens and their machinery. That's it. And it's all done with that post-Saving Private Ryan style of shooting that shows just how good a director Spielberg is and how so few filmmakers live up to him. It has nice effects and is adequately put together but it's a total snoozefest. (3/10)

Another Year is definitely a film that will only work for a small audience. It is very, very slow and it is the sort of film where not much happens. Oh and considering how much of the film is about the routine mundanity of life and is basically about people who are almost more ordinary than most ordinary people, it's quite depressing too. It is rather good though. Mike Leigh's naturalistic dialogue and unfussy direction ensure that this simple human drama does have a feel of authentic human emotions about it. It also helps that the actors are uniformly brilliant. It's not for everyone but if you like slow, humane art films, you may well get a lot out of Another Year. (7/10)  



And speaking of slow, fairly depressing art films, South Africa's entry into this year's Academy Awards (it ultimately didn't get a nomination though) is a fairly impressive piece of work. Life Above All is set in very rural South Africa and it deals in part with the hardships of that kind of life but, more intriguingly, deals with the ignorance and superstition of these people towards a disease like AIDS - and how their overbearingly close-knit community can be every bit as much a curse as it is a blessing. It's a powerful, confidently put together piece of work, though it's certainly no barrel of laughs and it is actually something of an ordeal to sit through. Even if it doesn't quite manage the jump from being very good to true greatness, Life Above All is a great antidote for the heartless, stupid Night Drive, the other big South African film on release.  (7/10)

Also released this week is Getroud Met Rugby, an Afrikaans film that I haven't seen. Check out channel24 for a review of the film, if you're interested.


There also seems to be some confusion about when Brotherhood will be released. If it comes out this week, I will post it here as soon as it's been uploaded on Channel24. If not, you'll have to wait till next week.


So, pending the release of Brotherhood and with the exclusion of Getroud Met Rugby...

Movie to see this week: Life Above All
Movie to avoid this week: Battle: Los Angeles

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