Gravity (Blu-Ray): Review

The Film

The Gravity Blu-Ray pack contains both the 3D and 2D versions, each on their own disc. The main feature is in 1080p, with superb picture quality and stunning audio. The minute details visible in some of the more intense scenes will show off any HD setup, and the sound mix will give your surround system a proper work out. Those viewing the movie on anything short of a 5.1 setup are missing out on so much, as the sound, and music, form part of the story narration as they sweep from one side of the room to the other.

It is clear to see why Gravity has garnered world-wide praise, and nominations, and wins, for so many awards.

Read the SAMDB Review on Gravity.

Bonus Features And Disc

As for bonus features. This is how you present a disc with value to your viewers. With close on 3 hours of additional footage, behind the scenes, short films, and shot break-downs, there is certainly a lot for the film enthusiast and filmmaker alike.

The Collision Point documentary, on cleaning up all the debris in space, lest the events of Gravity become a reality, is very interesting, and points out the lack of foresight in the early days of the space race, and what is now being done to fix this problem. Narrated by Ed Harris, how is the voice of Mission Control in the movie.

The short film Aningaaq, the reply and other-side of the radio conversation of Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) is a great companion to a pivotal part of the film, and played with the introduction by Jonas and Alfonso Cuaro’on, showing the innocence on the other end of the life and death struggle.

The disc also contains a plethora of behind the scenes, and making-of featurettes. These can be played on a playlist, or viewed individually, and provide an incredible amount of information and insight into everything from the physicality of creating a micro-gravity environment, so the actors as they needed to act and react in the void of space, the unique lighting and special effects, and a huge amount on the development of the film.

Gravity is available now in South African outlets.

Guardians of the Galaxy – Releasing 1 August In South Africa

From Marvel, the studio that brought you the global blockbuster franchises of Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and The Avengers, comes a new team—the Guardians of the Galaxy. An action-packed, epic space adventure, Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” expands the Marvel Cinematic Universe into the cosmos, where brash adventurer Peter Quill finds himself the object of an unrelenting bounty hunt after stealing a mysterious orb coveted by Ronan, a powerful villain with ambitions that threaten the entire universe. To evade the ever-persistent Ronan, Quill is forced into an uneasy truce with a quartet of disparate misfits—Rocket, a gun-toting raccoon, Groot, a tree-like humanoid, the deadly and enigmatic Gamora and the revenge-driven Drax the Destroyer. But when Quill discovers the true power of the orb and the menace it poses to the cosmos, he must do his best to rally his ragtag rivals for a last, desperate stand—with the galaxy’s fate in
the balance.

Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy,” which first appeared in
comic books in Marvel Super-Heroes, Issue #18 (Jan. 1969), stars Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, featuring Vin Diesel as the voice of Groot, Bradley Cooper as the voice of Rocket, Lee Pace, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Djimon Hounsou, with John C. Reilly, Glenn Close as Nova Prime Rael and Benicio del Toro as The Collector.

James Gunn is the director of the film with Kevin Feige producing, and Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso, Jeremy Latcham, Alan
Fine and Stan Lee serve as executive producers. The story is by Nicole Perlman and James Gunn, with screenplay by James Gunn. Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” releases in S.A. theatres on August 1, 2014.

Catch Clinet Eastwood’s Son In A Surf Movie Opening This Friday

Moviegoers can see Clint Eastwood’s son Scott Eastwood in the new surfing movie ‘The Perfect Wave’, which opens on 28 February 2014. The film, in which Scott plays kiwi surfer Ian McCormack, tells the true story of a rebellious young man’s journey as he searches for the meaning of life. At the heart of the film is McCormack’s near-death experience, which changes his life forever. Also starring in ‘The Perfect Wave’ is former Charlie’s Angel, Cheryl Ladd,

“Ian McCormack is currently in South Africa to promote the film and talk about the incident that impacted his life,” says Bruce Macdonald, director and producer of ‘The Perfect Wave’. “It has been a great privilege to work with such an up-and-coming talented actor like Scott, and to have a seasoned professional like Cheryl Ladd on board. Ian McCormack’s story of redemption is an important one, and his story has been brought to life in the most authentic and exciting way by a talented cast.”

Scott Eastwood was born in Monterey,California, but spent the majority of his grade and high school years in Hawaii. From an early age, he excelled in drama. After spending summers with his father and then eventually living with him, the young Eastwood felt compelled to pursue a career in acting. Thanks to his father’s love of jazz, he also learned to play the saxophone.

The 27-year-old bears a striking resemblance to his famous father Clint, from the hair line to the one-sided grin. He is following in his father’s footsteps in the film industry and already has more than 17 titles to his name,including ‘Trouble with the Curve’, ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D’ and ‘Epic’. In addition, Scott appeared in ‘Invictus, ‘Gran Torino’,‘Flags of Our Fathers’, ‘An American Crime’, the swimming biopic ‘Pride’, and another surfing movie ‘Chasing Mavericks’. More recently, he starred alongside Brad Pitt in the war film ‘Fury’.

Starring as McCormack’s mother is Cheryl Ladd, who is best known for her role as Kris Munroe in the hit television series Charlie’s Angels, a character she took on when she replaced Farah Fawcett in 1977.  Ladd landed her first movie role in the 1973 film Jamaica Reef.  Over the last decade or so, Ladd has appeared in several television series, including ‘CSI: Miami’ (2009), ‘NCIS: Naval Criminal Investigative Service’ and ‘Chuck’ in2011. Her recent film career includes ‘Her Best Friend’s Husband’ (2002),’Eve’s Christmas’ (2004), ‘Though None Go With Me’ (2006), ‘Baggage’ (2008) and’Love’s Resounding Courage’ in 2011.

Following the call of wild adventure, McCormack and his friend start their journey in the outback of Australia and find themselves in a radical cultural shift in Bali, Indonesia. McCormack falls in love with a beautiful Dutch girl Anneka, in Bali. He leaves his friends and the couple’s next stop is the beautiful coastline of South Africa where Ian confuses Anneka’s free spirit with betrayal. He follows her to the island paradise famous for its legendary outer reef, but discovers that she is gone. Alone, he waits for his perfect wave, but then he has an accident that makes him question his faith.

‘The Prefect Wave’ premiered in New Zealand and Australia in January and early February. The cast also includes Rosy Hodge, Rachel Hendrix, Paddy Lister, Jack Halloran, Scott Mortensen, Matt Bromley and Nikolai Mynhardt.The film follows McCormack as he leaves behind his family in New Zealand and goes off in search of adventure. His mother has a bad feeling about it and tearfully sends him away asking him to turn to God when he’s in trouble.

Macdonald, himself a surfer and an experienced commercials director, is the visionary behind ‘The Perfect Wave’.Having secured the rights, he developed both the story and the screenplay while assembling the entire team, to achieve his vision. The film will be distributed in South Africa by Indigenous Film Distribution.

The Star Studded List Of Oscar Presenters

Oscar producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron today announced the complete slate of stars who will present Oscars at the ceremony. The Oscars®, hosted by Ellen DeGeneres, will air on Oscar Sunday, March 2, live on ABC.

“We are very excited that the Hollywood community will be turning out in force for Sunday’s Oscar ceremony,” said Zadan and Meron.  “We sought to include a tremendous diversity of stars to represent not only this year’s nominees, but the legacy of the motion picture business as well.”

The presenters, including several past Oscar winners and nominees, will be:

  • Amy Adams
  • Kristen Bell
  • Jessica Biel
  • Jim Carrey
  • Glenn Close
  • Bradley Cooper
  • Penélope Cruz
  • Benedict Cumberbatch
  • Viola Davis
  • Daniel Day-Lewis
  • Robert De Niro
  • Zac Efron
  • Sally Field
  • Harrison Ford
  • Jamie Foxx
  • Andrew Garfield
  • Jennifer Garner
  • Whoopi Goldberg
  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt
  • Anne Hathaway
  • Goldie Hawn
  • Chris Hemsworth
  • Kate Hudson
  • Samuel L. Jackson
  • Angelina Jolie
  • Michael B. Jordan
  • Anna Kendrick
  • Jennifer Lawrence
  • Matthew McConaughey
  • Ewan McGregor
  • Bill Murray
  • Kim Novak
  • Tyler Perry
  • Brad Pitt
  • Sidney Poitier
  • Gabourey Sidibe
  • Will Smith
  • Kevin Spacey
  • Jason Sudeikis
  • Channing Tatum
  • Charlize Theron
  • John Travolta
  • Christoph Waltz
  • Kerry Washington
  • Emma Watson
  • Naomi Watts

 

Q&A With Zaheer Goodman-Bhyat And Louw Venter Of Konfetti

Where did the idea for Konfetti originate from? (Louw)

It came from a play, The Best Man’s Speech, which I wrote and performed for three to four years and is based on a one-man show where the members of the audience are the guests at the wedding.

The play stems from one particularly bad Jewish wedding that I went to after I met my wife (who is Jewish). There was a spectacular incident where the bride’s brother completely lost it and made a spectacle of himself. It was only when I got married myself that I started to understand the stresses and emotions involved in the ‘Big Day’. The script explores the concepts of conflict and love.

What makes the film entertaining? (Zaheer)

It’s very funny and it’s about real people and real issues. The story is ultimately satisfying because the laughter is like a pressure release from some of the very real and serious things that happen in the film.

Konfetti is a character-based film with some lively personalities. How do you create and then develop them? (Louw)

A number of the characters were driven by what was already in the play – these original characters were drawn from my experience in real life. As an Afrikaans man married to a Jewish woman, I’ve had many opportunities to observe both the similarities and differences between the different cultural groups.

The story is driven by the characters. It’s based on the awkwardness that results when different cultures coming together and strives to expand these stereotypes and cultural definitions. It explores the idiosyncrasies of the various stereotypes, for example, Jean’s mother is the quintessential Afrikaans matriarch figure who represents the forced desire of the white middle class for political correctness.

Can you take us through the casting process? (Zaheer)

Louw and I had really enjoyed working previously with Nico Panagio, Kim Engelbrecht and Casper De Vries – we wanted to work them again so wrote the parts especially for them. The casting process for the other roles was intense. Our casting director Susan Rossouw was amazing. She introduced some wonderful talent to the film. We held several casting days in Cape Town and Johannesburg, and ultimately found the best actors for each of the roles.

Describe the writing process of you and Zaheer writing together? (Louw)

It was a long process – it took five or six years – as we went through quite a process of expanding, complicating and then condensing each and every idea into a synopsis. On several occasions we took the script in different directions – from a potential play, into a TV series, a made-for-TV film and finally into a feature film format. We weren’t satisfied until ticked all the right boxes. We were still writing until the last day.

Describe the making of the film (Zaheer)

It all started back in 2007 when Louw Venter came to me with an idea to develop his play, The Best Man’s Speech, into a TV series. We worked on the material on and off until 2012 when we believed that we had a script worth producing. Then came the long process of raising the money. We were blessed to have really amazing partners at M-Net and KykNet who fully supported the film.

The actual shooting was the most fun I have ever had doing anything. You can’t really call it work when you are that excited to start every day, and when you are laughing so much.

May of the actors in the film were heroes to me in my teenage years. Actors like Annabel Linder, Nicolas Ellenbogen and Terry Norten – all such phenomenal talents – had cameo parts and were an absolute delight to work with. The main cast was brilliant – they made me laugh and cry. I think this comes through in the film and that audiences are going to connect to that.

Can you select certain scenes that stand out in this respect and elaborate? (Zaheer)

Casey B Dolan gives the performance of a lifetime in the second half of the film. She was so dramatic and moving. You could have heard a pin drop on the set when she was done. Everyone behind the camera was crying-  it was just terrific to be there on set and witness such talent.

Every scene with Louw Venter, Nico Panagio, Casper De Vries, Kim Engelbrecht, Jana Strydom or Christel Van Den Bergh was just hilarious. They are all such great comedians and are always trying to outdo one another. Sometimes just getting through the day was challenging because no-one could keep a straight face.

We shot the climactic scene around 3am when it was about zero degrees. Louw deserves a medal for just making it through his long speech and staying alive when he could barely walk he was in so much pain. Then all those extras in their little summer dresses in that cold are all heroes.

What about the look of the film – as a director what was your vision? (Zaheer)

A crazy story about these flawed people, set against this perfect backdrop, was hugely interesting to me. I wanted to make a film that had the fairytale gloss everyone wants on their wedding day and showed the beauty of the Stellenbosch winelands.

What do you hope audiences will get from Konfetti? (Zaheer)

I know that they will have had a great night out and be thoroughly entertained. I think the film might also give people hope for the future, and the courage to make good choices in their lives.

How did you choose the music for the film? (Zaheer)

All the music was composed specially for the film by legendary international songwriter and music producer, Lionel Bastos. The music was also recorded live to picture with the full band, which is very unusual in SA. We had some pretty famous musicians play on the score too and it was very exciting for me to work with them. They included Willem Moller on guitar, Ariella Caira (from Sterling EQ) on cello and Rayelle Goodman (from Coda) on violin.

How was the film financed? (Zaheer)

The film was financed with a rebate from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and investment from KykNet and Light and Dark Films.

Who should come to watch the film? (Zaheer)

This is a film for the whole family. It’s not often you get a story that involves multiple generations – children, parents and even great grandparents – and who all have an important role in the story.

The Grandmaster: Review

Set in the 1930s, and chronicling the martial arts grandmaster of Wing Chun, Ip Man (Ton7 Leung Chiu-Wai), starting with him in Foshan, and his later years in Hong Kong.

A martial arts master, Gong Yutian, declaring his retirement, seeks to champions to represent the North and South. Ip Man is selected to challange Gong Yutian, and declared winner in a battle of ideas and philosophy.

Enter Gong Er (Zhang Ziyi), daughter to Gong Yutian, looking to regain her family’s honour by challenging Ip Man.

The two keep contact for the ensuing years, leading to a love between the two that neither acts upon.

The Grandmaster is stylistic, with breath-taking fights set to a story of honour, and romance. A superb look at the arts of fighting and love. A must see for any martial artist or romantic at heart. See the story of the one who taught screen legend Bruce Lee.

The Grandmaster opens 21 February 2014 in South African cinema. It is in Mandarin, Cantonese and Japanese, with English subtitles.

The Nut Job: Review

The Nut Job, its a fun ride with a bunch of furry creatures, yet tells a story akin to the great bank  heists of days gone by.

The story begins in a city park, where Surly the squirrel has just caused the loss of the local animals food supply, meaning they will no longer have anything for the winter. On a vote, he is banished to the city, never to return,

At the same time, squirrels Andie and Grayson are charged with finding a new food source. It is while on this mission that they discover their lead, Racoon, has his own agenda, and stumble on to a plot by a gang of humans to rob a bank.

The Nut Job is a feel good adventure tale, full with heroics, humour and the obligatory cuteness, not to mention a guest appearance by Psy (he of Gungnum Style). Be sure to sit through the end credits to catch a funny rendition of this dance.

There are two target audiences for The Nut Job; the children, who will live the adorable, friendly animals, and their parents, who will enjoy the humour and more mature side to the story.

The Nut Job opens 21 February 2014 in South African cinemas.

Saving Mr Banks: Review

The story of P. L. Travers, creator of the children’s story Mary Poppins and the 20 years she was pursued by Walt Disney himself in a bid to obtain the movie rights.

Saving Mr. Banks is a wonderful tale of the drama of holding on to ones creation, interspersed with some musical numbers, as is the signature of many a Disney classic, and some very humorous scenes where Mrs. Travers does her utmost to foil Mr. Disney, and his own time who must use all their wits to create a film she would approve.

There are two stories, juxtaposed in the film. That of the world we live in, and the back and forth of requests, demands, and disapproval, while we are treated to the story of Mr. Banks as the Disney team come to understand him, and Mr.s Travers reveals more.

Saving Mr. Banks is a wonderful story, on many levels,and superbly acted by Tom Hanks as Walt Disney and Emma Thompson as the veritable P. L. Travers.

This is a must see, and opens 21 February 2014 in South African cinemas.

Ride Along: Review

Ride Along, pairing Ben (Kevin Hart) and James (Ice Cube) in a buddy cop movie with a difference.

Ben, a high school security guard, wants to marry Jame’s sister. James is a cop. Ben has yet to win James’s respect, so they strike a deal. Ben will ride with James for one day on patrol as a cop. If he makes it, he can marry Angela (Tika Sumpter).

James does all he can to scare Ben, to bore him,and to get him into situations that will put him off and have him running home. As the story progresses, each of the pair will be forced to take a look at themselves, and face their faults. Only then can they overcome those and work together when a new challenge arises, putting both James and Ben in danger.

Buddy cop movies are a dime-a-dozen, and it takes one with great on screen chemistry and comedic timing to make things work, and Ride Along pulls this off.

It’s an action packed comedic ride, that tells a story of friendship and family.

Ride Along opens 21 February 2014 on South African screens.

Jobs (DVD): Review

The Film

Jobs, a glimpse into the life of visionary Steve Jobs, who with the other great names of the tech world, helped shape the world into what we know today.

One can not compress such a story into the time it takes to watch a film, and therefore some events are summarised, while others are glossed over, but the essance that was the man remains.

Ashton Kutcher delivers a remarkable performance, completely embodying the character on screen, with a talented supporting cast, and a well written and well directed story.

Jobs is a drama at its best, and while we might all think we know the story, there are many asepcts of Steve Jobs life and struggle that are not often discussed in the public arena. Jobs does not shy away from the bad, while delivering the message of the good.

The Disc

The disc is ecoded at a high bitrate, meaning non onscreen artefacts (save for some archive footage) and can easily be upscaled in software to HD. While the audio is presented in a 5.1 soundtrack, this type of film does not lend itselt fo much use of the surrounds, and most people are not likely to notice its abscence.

Unfortunatly there are no special features included on the disc. A pity as some footage of Steve Jobs himself might have been fun.

Jobs is available to own in South African stores now.