rom the creator behind the Emmy-winning series Samurai Jack, Genndy Tartakovsky, Primal follows a caveman at the dawn of evolution and a dinosaur on the brink of extinction. The two creatures, one on the way out and one on the way in, become each other’s only hope of survival in a treacherous world.
Primal has an 8.7/10 score on IMDB and a 100% critics’ score on Rotten Tomatoes, where the critics consensus is, “Epic in every sense, Genndy Tartakovsky’s Primal is a stunning feat of visual storytelling.”
“Epic yet intimate, Primal is awash in eye-popping imagery,” says Hollywood Reporter. “Primal is vicious stuff. It’s a rarely pausing saga of bone-breaking, head-severing, tooth-extracting, face-smashing brutality… Tartakovsky has long been a distinctive force in TV animation and this is another winner, a spare storytelling experiment that plays like nothing else in the current landscape.”
“Over 700 years ago, the Aprican Empire invaded Europe. Aprica colonised the continent and reached as far as Albion. Albion has been under Aprican rule ever since.”
So begins Noughts + Crosses, a controversial six-part BBC One series that has just started screening on Showmax and M-Net, with new episodes every Thursday night from 23:30.
South African Masali Baduza (Trackers) and BAFTA winner Jack Rowan (Born To Kill, Peaky Blinders) play Sephy and Callum, two star-crossed lovers in the tradition of Romeo and Juliet. Sephy is the privileged daughter of the Home Secretary, Kamal Hadley, while Callum’s mother, Meggie, is the Hadleys’ housekeeper. While Sephy and Callum grew up together, they may as well have lived in different worlds.
Shot largely in Cape Town, the series also stars Paterson Joseph (Peep Show, The Leftovers) and South African actress Bonnie Mbuli (Invictus, Wallander) as Sephy’s parents, Kamal and Jasmine, with BAFTA nominee Helen Baxendale (Cold Feet, Emily in Friends) and Tribeca winner Ian Hart (Professor Quirrell in Harry Potter) as Callum’s parents, as well as Josh Dylan (Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, The End of the F***ing World) as his brother Jude.
The alternate reality love story is based on the multi-award-winning 2001 novel by former Children’s Laureate Malorie Blackman, which was included in both BBC’s list of the 100 Novels That Shaped The World and in The Guardian’s 100 Best Books of the 21st Century. Grime superstar Stormzy, who has a cameo in the series as newspaper editor Kolawale, calls the five-book series “my favourite books of all time.”
“What I wanted to do was have the black people in my story not as victims, but celebrating their own culture,” says Blackman. “I remember the first time I wore an afro at school, I was sent out of the class for being a troublemaker. It was this thing of black people being penalised for wearing our own natural hair. The celebration of African culture in myriad forms gives a different sensibility to what has been on TV before.”
“Prior to reading Malorie’s books, I had never heard of a world that existed where Africans were the ruling class,” says Baduza. “It was unique and it made me feel warm inside, to imagine a world where this could be a possibility.”
“As a black African, I have never seen a television show that showcased our being or our ways, in a way that was given a place and was acceptable, until now,” says Mbuli. “It is quite a feeling to walk onto set and feel seen as a person, and feel like your hair and the way you wear it, or the way the people in your world wear their clothes or what they hold dear, is suddenly important and is being given a platform. It is shocking.
“Then you realise that you have spent your whole life without it, that you have never switched on a TV and seen that. That too is shocking. I sometimes walked onto set and started weeping.”
Visionary short film director Kibwe Tavares (Jonah, Robots of Brixton, Robot & Scarecrow) executive produced the series and steered the creation of its Afrocentric world, where everything has been rethought, from the language to the architecture, from beauty norms to the colour of plasters.
In one powerful scene, Callum cuts his finger and Sephy gets him a plaster, which is too dark for his skin. For context, South Africa has only had ‘skin tone’ plasters for black people since 2015, while in the UK, Tesco has just this year released multi tone plasters – and claims to be the first supermarket there to do so.
“There are so many small moments that a lot of people wouldn’t think about, like the fact that flesh coloured plasters are not the flesh colour of anyone but white people,” says Joseph. “It is an insidious, tiny, incremental knock to you as a citizen of any country to be told what normal is in those casual ways… Working on this drama has exercised all of our minds and made us super aware of everything.”
Noughts + Crosses was the number-one show across all channels when it premiered on 5 March 2020 in Britain. The series has a 82% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with The Guardian hailing it as “vital viewing”, The Telegraph as a “must-see”, NME as “must-watch TV”, RadioTimes as “a series on the cusp of greatness”, and The Evening Standard as “properly incendiary.”
Of course, the glowing reviews weren’t universal: The Independent predicted “this race reversal drama will induce hernias in right wing commentators” – and they weren’t wrong. Trolls took to Twitter to denounce it as “deeply racist”, “anti-white tripe” and “race-baiting.”
Blackman was having none of it. “Btw, to those accusing me of being anti-white or stating I must hate white people to create such a story as Noughts and Crosses, I’m not even going to dignify your absurd nonsense with a response,” she tweeted. “Go take a seat waaaay over there in the cold, dark and bitter haters’ corner.”
Noughts + Crosses was shot in South Africa with mostly local crew, including award-winning cinematographers Jamie Ramsay and Giulio Biccari, Emmy-nominated casting director Christa Schamberger, costume designer Dihantus Engelbrecht, hair and makeup designer Nadine Prigge, and production designer Shane Bunce.
The African links don’t stop there either – Screen International 2018 Star of Tomorrow Koby Adom, born in the Ivory Coast and raised in Ghana, is one of the two directors, while the soundtrack includes Ghana’s Kiki Gyan and Ebo Taylor; Mali’s Salif Keita; and South African artists Bongeziwe Mabandla, Mlindo The Vocalist, and Umlilo.
As Stormzy put it on Twitter, “This is 100% groundbreaking… I haven’t seen nothing like it on British telly ever.”
What were the challenges of taking on the role of Kamal Hadley?
I have been writing and researching the black presence in the UK since the Roman times, and with this drama we have an incredible story that is almost in reverse, looking at what it is like to be the oppressed if you are the majority. When I took on the role of Kamal Hadley it was a question of – how do I depict a racist who is black, in a country where he is in the minority, but also where they are ruling?
That is somewhere I have never had to go with any character I have played before, so that fascinated me. Kamal is a slick politician with a very firm idea of what he wants the country to be and that country is black ruled. The white population, or as they are referred to in our story, the Noughts, have no say in how things are run.
People who read Malorie Blackman’s books are of an age where they are now the adults watching it at home and we wouldn’t want to disappoint them with something so different. But at the same time they are not children anymore, they are fully grown participants in society and they want to know about the politics, the food, the music and fashion, how people negotiate work and what the class system is like.
That is what we are attempting to do with this adaptation – to broaden it out for a more adult audience, so we can see that this is the way the world is structured. And that is why Sephy and Callum are going through what they are going through.
Can you describe the alternative world that this drama is set within, and how it was created?
We have a visual representation of England after 800 years of colonial rule from an African nation. Everything had to be thought out properly. We were filming a scene in Kamal’s diplomatic car with Sephy, and we had extras driving in cars around us and someone pointed out that the woman in the Porsche Estate was white, and if we were picturing a world where white people didn’t have any money that would look strange. We had to reshoot the whole thing.
It’s politically quite hot. Filming in South Africa you are in an ex-apartheid country doing a show about apartheid in reverse. There are so many small moments that a lot of people wouldn’t think about, like the fact that flesh coloured plasters are not the flesh colour of anyone but white people. It is an insidious, tiny, incremental knock to you as a citizen of any country to be told what normal is in those casual ways.
There a lot of tiny things like that: the clothes you wear, the colour of them, the way you speak, things that are so important to us in Britain particularly when designating who is who, where they have come from, what their job likely is, where they live, their level of education and all the things we break down just from hearing someone speak or seeing them come into a room. Working on this drama has exercised all of our minds and made us super aware of everything.
Do you have a stand-out moment from the shoot?
My favourite scene to film was in the first week of shooting, and it was Kamal’s wife, Jasmine’s (Bonnie Mbuli) birthday party. There were about 80 supporting artists in this huge garden with a beautiful swimming pool, it was amazing. Just seeing that many black supporting actors dressed so finely, a lot of them in stunning African clothing, was thrilling.
What is your understanding of Kamal, and how do you make sense of his heinous behaviour?
As an actor you try to find reasons for actions taken by your character, which is what I did with Kamal, so he is not just a two-dimensional villainous character.
Starting with his name, Hadley – this is such an English sounding name, I figured there must have been a white man who was part of his family line. Knowing that could, if you become radicalised about race, lead you to want to reject it, and that is part of his motivation. It was part of my justification as to why he has that blind side to the Noughts. He is denying a major part of his DNA in order to – he believes – fulfil his bigger destiny which is the establishment of a black superpower.
The other factor is his emotional past. That story is about something to do with his own heart and having to kill a part of himself in order to fulfil what he thinks is his destiny, which leads him to be a cold character towards most people except Sephy.
Tell us about the relationship between Kamal and Sephy.
Masali is a great performer – she broke my heart three times during filming. We filmed scenes that a lot of fathers would relate to when they realise that their daughter has grown up and is no longer going to tell them everything, and in fact is going in a very different direction.
That was heartbreaking because our relationship is very close and warm, unlike Kamal’s relationship with Minerva (Kiké Brimah), Sephy’s older sister, and Jasmine (Bonnie Mbuli), his wife, which are casual and almost cold. Sephy brings out the joy of fatherhood in Kamal, she is smart and sensitive, and she is obedient up until this story kicks off. Her ambitions are likely political which Kamal is very pleased about, and then it all turns sour because of, in Kamal’s eyes, the McGregors – the bane of his life.
Are you prepared for audiences to dislike Kamal?
I am prepared for how unpopular this character will be because he is horrible to some very nice people. Playing a character who will be seen as villainous will be fascinating, because a lot of the characters I have played are reasonably affable. Kamal however is cold and Machiavellian, and it is thoroughly enjoyable playing him because he is all these things yet charmingly, whilst wearing a smile…
Rocketman, the fantastical musical biopic on Sir Elton John, scooped this year’s Oscar for Best Original Song for I’m Gonna Love Me Again, co-written by Elton and his long-time lyricist Bernie Taupin.
Rock biopic meets musical fantasy in this fabulous rollercoaster of a movie about a little boy called Reginald Kenneth Dwight, who grew up to be one of the greatest musical icons of all time. It’s a celebration of the music, the dreams, and the larger-than-life persona that’s made Elton a legend. But it’s also the story of his struggle with addiction, and of his friendship with Bernie, which helped him through.
As Elton, Taron Egerton won a Golden Globe and was nominated for BAFTA, Screen Actors Guild, People’s Choice and Teen Choice awards. The movie also stars BAFTA winner Jamie Bell (Billy Elliot, Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool), Golden Globe winner Richard Madden (Bodyguard, Game of Thrones), Golden Globe nominee Bryce Dallas Howard (Jurassic World) and BAFTA winner Gemma Jones (Bridget Jones’ Diary).
Rocketman was penned by Billy Elliot writer Lee Hall and directed by double-BAFTA Award nominee Dexter Fletcher (who took Bohemian Rhapsody to completion after Bryan Singer was fired).
Celebrated author Joe Castleman is about to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature. As he travels to Stockholm, he’s accompanied to the event by his wife Joan. Through almost 40 years, Joan has played her role as the Great Man’s Wife with grace and diplomacy, supporting his career, championing his work, overlooking his indiscretions, and ultimately, herself. The Wife is a simmering, intimate study of a marriage, of compromise, betrayal and devotion.
Glenn Close received her seventh Oscar nomination, won a Golden Globe and was nominated for a BAFTA for her portrayal of Joan, with the London Evening Standard saying, “If ever a film belonged to an actor… this one belongs to Close.”
Oscar nominee Jonathan Pryce (The Two Popes), Golden Globe winner Christian Slater (Mr. Robot), BAFTA nominee Harry Lloyd (The Theory of Everything, and Game of Thrones’ Viserys Targaryen) and Max Irons (Condor) also star, along with Close’s daughter, Annie Starke, who plays the younger Joan.
Jason Momoa. There, we said it. What more do you need to know?
Seriously though, Aquaman tells the origin story of DC comic book hero Arthur Curry, who we saw in 2017’s Justice League. Born to Atlantean-queen mother Atlanna and a human father, Arthur has lived his whole life on land. But when his undersea half-brother, King Orm, threatens war on the surface dwellers, Arthur is called upon to fulfil his destiny and claim his rightful throne.
The cast includes Oscar winner Nicole Kidman (Dr. Chase Meridian in Batman Forever), Oscar nominee Willem Dafoe (Green Goblin in 2002’s Spider-Man), Golden Globe nominee Patrick Wilson (Nite Owl in 2009’s Watchmen), Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (Cal Abar in the new Watchmen), action legend Dolph Lundgren (Konstantin Kovar in Arrow), and Amber Heard (who – spoiler alert! – shared the MTV Movie + TV Best Kiss Award with Jason Momoa), reprising her role as Justice League’s Mera.
The movie is directed by James Wan, who helmed Fast & Furious 7 (the Guinness World Record holder for grossing $1bn at the global box office in just 17 days) and is slated to direct Aquaman 2, announced for 2022.
“Momoa’s Aquaman isn’t tortured and conflicted; he’s a badass, and he digs it,” says Slate. “Wan not only embraces the inherent silliness of a hero whose signature power is talking to fish; he revels in it, finding the childlike awesomeness at its core.”
FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD
Dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Oscar nominee Johnny Depp) has escaped and is gathering followers, most unsuspecting of his true agenda: to raise pure-blood wizards up to rule over all non-magical beings. In an effort to thwart Grindelwald’s plans, Albus Dumbledore (Oscar nominee Jude Law) enlists his former student Newt Scamander (Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne). Lines are drawn as love and loyalty are tested, even among the truest friends and family, in an increasingly divided wizarding world.
The movie is directed by David Yates (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows), from a screenplay by J.K. Rowling, who is also a producer. The cast also includes Zoë Kravitz (Big Little Lies), Carmen Ejogo (Selma, True Detective) and Ezra Miller (The Perks of Being a Wallflower).
This Oscar-winning comedy drama is based on the life of figure skater Tonya Harding and the scandal that ended her career. Harding was the first American woman to pull off a triple axel in competition, but her success was overshadowed by her implication in the attack on rival skater Nancy Kerrigan in 1994.
Margot Robbie (Harley Quinn in Birds of Prey, and a second-time Oscar nominee for Bombshell) was nominated for an Oscar for her performance as Harding, who never fitted the stereotype of what a figure-skater was expected to be, and Sebastian Stan (Bucky Barnes from the Avengers movies) plays her dodgy ex-husband Jeff. But it’s Allison Janney (The Help, Hairspray, The West Wing), who skates away with all the glory in an Oscar-winning performance as Harding’s viciously ambitious mother, LaVona.
Molly’s Game is based on the true story of former Olympic-class skier Molly Bloom, who ran the world’s most exclusive high-stakes poker game on little more than her wits until the FBI arrested her in a high-profile, middle-of-the-night sting that threatened everyone from Hollywood stars to the Russian mob.
Molly’s Game stars two-time Oscar nominee Jessica Chastain (The Help, Interstellar), Golden Globe winner Idris Elba (Luther, Avengers), MTV Movie Award nominee Michael Cera (Juno), Oscar winner Kevin Costner (Dances With Wolves), Critics Choice winner Jeremy Strong (Succession), and Emmy winner Chris O’Dowd (Bridesmaids).
Molly’s Game is the directorial debut of Aaron Sorkin, who created The West Wing and won an Oscar for The Social Network. He also wrote the script, which was nominated for an Oscar, a Golden Globe and a BAFTA for Best Adapted Screenplay.
ALL ABOUT NINA
Nina Geld has attitude, a brilliant stand-up routine, and the makings of what just might be about to turn into a decent career. Then her love life blows up, complicating everything. Looking to change her life (and escape her ex), she makes the move to LA and encounters a challenge she didn’t see coming in Rafe.
The comedy-drama stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who’s in Birds of Prey, Fargo and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, and won an Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films award for 10 Cloverfield Lane. “Winstead shines,” says Screen Daily, “She’s electric.”
Oscar winner Common (Selma) plays Rafe, and look out for Nailed it! star Nicole Byer, Golden Globe nominee Beau Bridges, Emmy nominees Jay Mohr and Mindy Sterling, and Veep star Clea DuVall.
A SIMPLE FAVOR
When Connecticut small town mommy-vlogger Stephanie meets fellow mom Emily, she’s instantly beguiled. Emily is beautiful, funny, worldly and mysterious. Then she disappears, and Stephanie takes it upon herself to find out what happened her.
Oscar nominee Anna Kendrick (Up in the Air, Pitch Perfect) and People’s Choice winner Blake Lively (Gossip Girl) star in this twisty mommy-noir directed by four-time Emmy nominee Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, The Office). Teen Choice nominee Henry Golding (Crazy Rich Asians) plays Emily’s husband Sean, and keep your eyes peeled for Emmy winner Jean Smart (Laurie Blake in Watchmen).
The first three episodes of Season 5 of Lockdown, the most awarded drama at last year’s SAFTAs, are now streaming only on Showmax, with two more episodes launching every Thursday. The first episode of Season 5 will also premiere on YouTube tonight at 8pm, alongside a live chat with DStv Mzansi Viewers Choice and SAFTA nominee Zola Nombona, who plays Monde.
Notorious for its cliffhangers, plot twists and emotional rollercoasters, Lockdown takes viewers into the cells and offices of Thabazimbi Women’s Correctional Facility, where survival is the order of the day.
As Season 5 picks up, Masebata’s cult is no longer in power. Arch-rivals Mazet (Dawn Thandeka King in a SAFTA-winning role) and Tyson (Lorcia Cooper in a SAFTA-winning role) are running the prison yard together, for now. Governor Deborah Banda (Pamela Nomvete in a SAFTA-nominated role) is under pressure from The Department of Correctional Services, after one death too many at the prison. And Monde (Zola Nombona in a SAFTA-nominated role) is trying to make things right with Vicky (Lauren Jenae). Multi-award winners Linda Sebezo, Nomsa Buthelezi, Patricia Boyer and Sophie Ndaba co-star.
After an intimate cast screening at MultiChoice City last night, the key cast – looking far more glamorous than we’re accustomed to in Thabazimbi – received plaques from the production company, Black Brain Pictures, celebrating their role in making Lockdown the first Mzansi Magic drama series to reach Season 5. Linda, so tough as Maki in Lockdown, shed a tear when she received her plaque, while Lorcia spoke for the cast when she thanked fans, saying, “We are nothing without our audiences.”
Dawn echoed this, saying, “I look back at the first day we did this and I can’t believe we made it this far. It’s been rough – in our personal lives and on screen. But look at us now! The devil did not win. Lorcia is right: we are nothing without the support. Don’t ever think we take it for granted.”
In the build-up to last night’s screening, Lockdown has been hailed as “one of the best productions that has come out of this county” by Azania Mosaka on 702, and “one of South Africa’s most riveting local productions” by Actor Spaces, with YoMzansi praising “one of the most impressive casts on South African television.”
Early reviews suggest Season 5 could be the best yet for the show, which won five SAFTAs last year, including Best Drama.
With SAFTA winner Mandla N still directing every episode and SAFTA winner Gaopie Kabe returning as the DOP, Mgosi called it “one helluva season that you don’t want to miss; “ TVMzansi wrote, “Definitely worth the wait… Beautifully shot… You’ll love the elements of comedy and the music is so on point;” and Zalebs hailed it as “thrilling… Set to leave viewers sitting on the edge of their seats and begging for more”.
Or as TshisaLive tweeted after the cast screening: “It’s A LOT. We were never ready.”
If you’re not already addicted to South Africa’s favourite prison drama, catch up on the first four episodes of Lockdown S1 on YouTube, and the previous four seasons on Showmax here.
THE 8 BEST NEW INTERNATIONAL MOVIES ON SHOWMAX – FROM CRAZY RICH ASIANS TO READY PLAYER ONE TO WONDER WOMAN
READY PLAYER ONE
It’s 2045 and the world is a dystopian mess, except in the idyllic virtual reality of the OASIS. James Halliday, the late creator of the OASIS, has left a virtual-treasure-hunt contest as his legacy. The winner will inherit total control of the OASIS and the half-a-trillion-dollar fortune that comes with it. But the perils of this high-stakes game go beyond the virtual world: it’s nothing less than a war for control of the future.
Directed by three-time Oscar winner Steven Spielberg and based on Ernest Cline’s bestselling novel, this visually rich sci-fi adventure is packed with pop culture references and Easter eggs. Tye Sheridan (X-Men: Apocalypse), Olivia Cooke (Life Itself), Ben Mendelsohn (Rogue One), Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead), Hannah John-Kamen (Ant-Man and the Wasp) and Oscar winner Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies) co-star.
Native New Yorker Rachel Chu, an economics professor, travels to Singapore to meet her boyfriend Nick’s family, but soon discovers they’re preposterously wealthy, with strong opinions about the ’class’ of person they’d like to see Nick dating.
Based on the bestselling 2013 novel by Kevin Kwan, this fairy tale romcom stars Constance Wu (Fresh Off the Boat) in a Golden Globe-nominated role alongside Henry Golding (A Simple Favour) and Awkwafina (Ocean’s 8), who were both nominated for Teen Choice Awards for this film. BAFTA nominee Michelle Yeoh (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) and Jemma Chan (Captain Marvel) co-star.
Written and directed by four-time Oscar nominee Gary Ross (The Hunger Games), this stylish action comedy stars Oscar winner Sandra Bullock as Debbie Ocean, sister of legendary conman Danny (played by George Clooney in the original movies). Fresh out of jail and with her eye on a sparkling $150m prize, Debbie assembles a highly skilled, all-female crew of crooks to pull off a daring heist at the annual Met Gala. Oscar winners Anne Hathaway and Cate Blanchett co-star alongside the likes of Helena Bonham Carter, Rihanna, Awkwafina and Mindy Kaling.
In this sequel to the Oscar-nominated, Golden Globe-winning sports drama Creed, newly crowned heavyweight champion Adonis Johnson faces off against Viktor Drago, the son of Ivan Drago, the boxer who killed Adonis’ father, Apollo Creed, and gave his trainer, Rocky Balboa, brain damage.
Emmy nominee Michael B. Jordan (Black Panther) and three-time Oscar nominee Sylvester Stallone (Rocky) co-star as Adonis and Rocky, alongside BAFTA nominee Tessa Thompson (Avengers: Endgame, Westworld), Emmy nominees Phylicia Rashad (Empire) and Milo Ventimiglia (This Is Us), Wood Harris (Empire), and Dolph Lundgren (The Expendables).
Set at the dawn of time, Early Man tells the story of Dug and his furry sidekick, Hognob, who must unite their simple hunter-gatherer tribe against ruthless enemy Lord Nooth and his ‘civilised’ Bronze Age City – and save their valley home in a mighty contest known as… soccer.
This heart-warming British stop-motion is the latest offering from four-time Oscar winner Nick Park and Aardman Animation (Wallace and Gromit, Shaun the Sheep). The sports comedy’s all-star voice cast includes Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything), Golden Globe winner Tom Hiddleston (Avengers), Emmy nominee Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones), Crystal Maze host and BAFTA winner Richard Ayoade (The IT Crowd), and Harry Potter stars Miriam Margolyes, Timothy Spall and Mark Williams.
TEEN TITANS GO! TO THE MOVIES
To be a real superhero, you need your own movie. Robin and his gang of superhero sidekicks are determined to get their moment in the spotlight, but landing a Hollywood movie of your own is pretty tough when you haven’t actually done anything heroic. To win over a superstar Hollywood director, they’ll need to defeat a real villain and, you know, maybe throw in a few musical numbers along the way.
This irreverent animated spoof has all-ages appeal, with multi-layered jokes that frequently poke fun at superhero tropes. The clever comedy stars all the familiar favourite voices from the popular Teen Titans Go! franchise (which you needn’t have seen to enjoy the movie), along with celeb voice appearances from Kristen Bell, Jimmy Kimmel, and Will Arnett (Arrested Development), as well as Nicolas Cage and his son, Kal-El Cage.
A struggling mother of three forms an unexpected bond with the night nanny hired to help with her newborn.
Tully stars South African Oscar winner Charlize Theron (Mad Max) as the exhausted mom and Tribeca Best Actress winner Mackenzie Davis (Terminator: Dark Fate) as her life-saving nanny. The drama was written by Oscar winner Diabo Cody and directed by four-time Oscar nominee Jason Reitman, the duo behind Juno.
Amazonian princess Diana is a warrior in training on the sheltered island paradise of Themyscira when a downed Air Force pilot brings news of World War I. Believing the god Ares is behind the conflict, Diana travels to Europe to fulfil her destiny to protect mankind, but she is unprepared for the human cost of warfare.
DC’s biggest female superhero comic book adaptation was a box office smash hit that grossed over $800m worldwide. Gal Gadot (Justice League) and Chris Pine (Star Trek) won Teen Choice Action Movie acting awards in the lead roles. Golden Globe winner Robin Wright (House of Cards) and nominee David Thewlis (Harry Potter) co-star.
Other new titles include the #1 USA box office hits IT: Chapter One and Justice League, as well as Melissa McCarthy’s 2018 Teen Choice and People’s Choice nominee, Life of the Party, and Lean on Pete, one of the National Board of Review’s Top 10 independent films of 2018. So you may need a lot of popcorn this month…
South Africa’s film industry has a lot to celebrate on Heritage Day tomorrow. This week, at Jackson Wild, arguably the Oscars of the wildlife film world, Stroop is up for the Impact Award and South African Bonné de Bod is competing – against the likes of Dame Judi Dench – for the Best Presenter title. Last week, The River was nominated as Best Telenovela at the International Emmy Awards and Ellen: Die Ellen Pakkies Storie received five Africa Movie Academy Awards nominations, including Best Film, Director and Actress.
1Magic’s thrill-a-minute The River was nominated for an International Emmy for Best Telenovela last week, building on its success as the most awarded production overall at this year’s SAFTAs, where it won 11 awards, including Best Telenovela.
Produced by Tshedza Pictures, the show sees two different but interdependent worlds collide in spectacular fashion. One side of the river is home to exquisite mansions populated by society’s upper crust, who will go to any lengths to maintain their wealth; the other by those who have little to show for their hard work.
At the SAFTAs, Moshidi Motshegwa won Best Actress as Malefu; Presley Chweneyagae won Best Actor as Cobra; and Lawrence Maleka won Best Supporting Actor as Zolani. Other stars include Sindi Dlathu, Hlomla Dandala, Don Mlangeni and newcomer Larona Moagi. Just be warned: the body count is high in this one, so don’t get too attached to anyone…
STROOP: JOURNEY INTO THE RHINO WAR Two first-time filmmakers, award-winning editor Susan Scott (The Last Lions) and 50/50 presenter Bonné de Bod, explore the war for rhino horn. Initially setting out on a six-month project, the duo leave their jobs, sell their homes, and even move in with their mothers as they quickly find themselves immersed in a world far larger and more dangerous than they had imagined. They only emerge from their odyssey across Africa and Asia four years later, with a gripping wildlife crime thriller documentary that’s won 24 international awards, including Best of Festival at The International Wildlife Film Festival. This week, Stroop is competing for the presenter and impact awards at Jackson Wild, arguably the Oscars of the wildlife film world.
ELLEN: DIE STORIE VAN ELLEN PAKKIES
Last week, Ellen was nominated for five Africa Movie Academy Awards: Best Film, Director (Daryn Joshua), Actress (Jill Levenberg), Supporting Actor (Jarrid Geduld), and Production Design. It’s the latest in a string of accolades for the film, which was the most awarded feature at this year’s SAFTAs, was South Africa’s official entry for the foreign film category at the 2019 Golden Globes, was the third most popular local film at the South African box office in 2018, and won Best Actor (Jarrid Geduld), Best Actresss (Jill Levenberg) and Best Script (Amy Jeptha) at Silwerskermfees.
In 2007, the death of 20-year-old Abie Pakkies made headlines across South Africa and the world. The most disturbing part of the case was that the murderer was his mother, Ellen.
Based on this heart-rending true story, Ellen explores how this loving mother became desperate enough to take her own son’s life, and why a judge let her off with a three-year suspended sentence and 280 hours of community service.
Ellen Pakkies consulted on the film, which was partly shot in her own home in Lavender Hill.
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE
Other South African gems to enjoy on Showmax include: • Lwazi Mvusi’s roadtrip movie Farewell Ella Bella, up for Best Soundtrack at the 2019 Africa Movie Academy Awards • Rea Moeti’s Marikana-themed Mma Moeketsi, up for Best Short Film at the 2019 Africa Movie Academy Awards • Christiaan Olwagen’s Kanarie, named one of the 14 Best LGBTQ International Films of 2018 by Indiewire • Shameela Seedat’s Thuli Madonsela documentary, Whispering Truth To Power, which won the Special Jury Prize at Hot Docs, North America’s most important documentary festival
FOX fans can look forward to the following activations at Comic Con Africa 2019:
The Walking Dead
Fans of The Walking Dead are invited to look through a peep hole to watch exclusive content from the post-apocalyptic The Walking Dead series, if you dare. Limited edition airbrush tattoos will be given away to participants.
This activation is brought to you by FOX and Showmax.
The Walking Dead S10 premieres on FOX, DSTV 125, Mondays at 03:00 (simulcast with the USA) and at 20:45 CAT, from 7 October 2019. Seasons 1 – 9 can now be binged on Showmax while you prepare for the Whisperers to return.
American Dad and Family Guy
Ever dreamed of being the voice of Roger, Stan or Steve in American Dad, or Stewie, Peter or Meg in Family Guy? Look out for the American Dad and Family Guy sound booths where fans can listen to scripts for scenes in this show. Dub a character with your voice and get a link to share the clip with your recording on social media.
American Dad broadcasts Monday – Friday 16:10 CAT on FOX. Family Guy broadcasts broadcasts Monday – Friday 17:00 CAT on FOX.
War of the Worlds
In the passage between the gaming hall and the main hall, fans of the Orson Wells classic will experience the look and feel of the new series indicating what to expect from this much anticipated, upcoming production.
War of the Worlds premieres soon on FOX, starring Elizabeth McGovern, Gabriel Byrne and Lea Drucker.
Comic Con Africa takes place from 21 – 24 September 2019 at Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand, Gauteng.
Debut seasons of His Dark Materials, Godfather of Harlem, Watchmen, What We Do In The Shadows & more…
MAYANS M.C. S2
First on Showmax. Binge the first four episodes on 1 October, with new episodes every Wednesday
In this Sons of Anarchy spinoff, Ezekiel “EZ” Reyes (JD Pardo from Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part II) is a prospect in the Mayans M.C. charter on the Cali/Mexi border. Once the golden boy with the American Dream in his grasp, EZ is trying to reconcile with his brother Angel (Clayton Cardenas from American Crime) while searching for the truth behind their mother’s death. Meanwhile, their father, Felipe (Oscar nominee Edward James Olmos), is struggling to lead his sons down the righteous path.
First on Showmax. Binge from 1 October
The first two seasons of Harlots revolved around rival brothel owners, Margaret Wells (Oscar nominee Samantha Morton) and Lydia Quigley (Oscar nominee Lesley Manville), and was set in 18th century London – an era when one in five women earned a living as a prostitute in the city. At the start of Season 3, it seems that the Wells girls can finally free themselves of their mother’s feud, helped by allies such as Lady Fitz (Liv Tyler). But Charlotte Wells (Jessica Brown Findlay from Downton Abbey) soon learns that running a lucrative brothel brings enemies as well as friends, including new pimp in town Isaac Pincher (2019 Emmy nominee Alfie Allen from Game of Thrones).
First on Showmax. Binge from 14 October
In Season 2, the dysfunctional Roy family are struggling to retain control of their global media empire. But while the future looks increasingly uncertain, it is the past that threatens to ultimately destroy them. Kieran Culkin was nominated for the Golden Globe as Roman, Matthew Macfadyen was up for a Critics Choice Award as Tom, and the impressive cast includes Golden Globe nominee Brian Cox (Adaptation, X-Men 2, Deadwood), Screen Actors Guild nominee Jeremy Strong (The Big Short) and multi-award winners like Hiam Abbas (Ramy, Blade Runner 2049) and Sarah Snook (The Dressmaker).
GODFATHER OF HARLEM S1
Same time as M-Net. New episodes every Tuesday from 15 October 2019
In the early 1960s, infamous crime boss Bumpy Johnson (Oscar winner Forest Whitaker) returns from 10 years in prison to find the neighbourhood he once ruled in a shambles. With the streets controlled by Vincent ‘Chin’ Gigante (Emmy nominee Vincent D’Onofrio from Daredevil and Jurassic World) and the Italian mob, Bumpy must take on the Genovese crime family to regain control. During the brutal battle, he forms an alliance with radical preacher Malcolm X (Nigel Thatch from Selma). Godfather of Harlem shows how the criminal underworld and the civil rights movement collided during one of the most tumultuous times in American history.
WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS S1
First on Showmax. Binge from 1 November
From Jemaine Clement (Flight Of The Conchords) and Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok), the hit mockumentary What We Do In The Shadows is a look into the daily (or rather, nightly) lives of three vampires who’ve lived together for over 100 years on Staten Island, New York.
PERPETUAL GRACE, LTD S1
First on Showmax. Binge from 1 November 2019
This 10-episode modern noir drama follows a young grifter, James (Emmy nominee Jimmi Simpson from Westworld, Black Mirror and House of Cards), as he attempts to prey upon Pastor Byron Brown (Oscar winner Sir Ben Kingsley). But the pastor and his wife Lillian (Oscar nominee Jacki Weaver from Silver Linings Playbook) – known to their parishioners as Pa and Ma – turn out to be far more dangerous than he suspects…
THE DEUCE S3 – THE FINAL SEASON
First on Showmax. Binge from 1 November
Following the interconnected lives of Times Square’s barkeeps, prostitutes, pimps, police, mobsters, porn actors and producers, the eight-episode third season of The Deuce brings the series to a dramatic conclusion. It’s 1985 and VHS has just overtaken film as the primary medium for porn production and distribution, while the lure of the California sunshine, the city’s aggressive takeover of commercial sex properties in Times Square, and the devastating impact of the AIDS epidemic mark the end of an era… Maggie Gyllenhaal (Golden Globe nominee for Season 1 and Critic’s Choice nominee for Season 2 of the series) returns as Candy, a porn director struggling to maintain her artistic integrity in an industry that is quickly devolving.
THE GOOD FIGHT – SEASON 3
Binge from 1 November
Missing The Good Wife? Thankfully Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski in an Emmy-nominated role) and Lucca Quinn (Cush Jumbo in a Critics Choice nominated role) are back in the sequel, The Good Fight, which picks up a year later as a financial scam wipes out Diane’s life savings, and good reputation, forcing her to start from scratch at a historically black law firm, Reddick, Boseman, & Kolstad. Look out for a host of familiar faces from The Good Wife, including Kurt McVeigh (Emmy nominee Gary Steele), Marissa Gold (Sarah Steele) and Julius Cain (Michael Boatman), alongside the likes of Emmy winner Audra McDonald (Private Practice), Screen Actors Guild nominees Rose Leslie (Game of Thrones) and Delroy Lindo (Get Shorty), and Golden Globe nominees Michael Sheen (Masters of Sex) and Matthew Perry (aka Chandler from Friends).
Binge from 1 November
Based on the classic Joseph Heller novel, Catch-22 follows the adventures and misadventures of a US air squadron in Italy in World War II. Christopher Abbott (The Sinner, Girls) is Yossarian, a bombardier, whose frantic obsession every time he goes up on a mission is “to come down alive”. His odds of success at such a simple aim keep getting worse, because Colonel Cathcart (Emmy winner Kyle Chandler from Friday Night Lights and Bloodline) keeps raising the number of missions the men have to fly. More than the retreating Germans, the real enemy for Yossarian and his rag-tag bunch of friends is the bureaucracy of the military, inverting logic at every turn. The pinnacle of this is Catch-22, a military by-law which states that if you willingly fly your missions, you’re crazy, and don’t have to fly them; all you have to do is ask. But if you ask, that proves you’re sane, and so you have to fly them. Oscar winner George Clooney stars as the barking mad, parade-obsessed Scheisskopf and Golden Globe winner Hugh Laurie (House M.D.) is the mellow, slightly checked-out Major de Coverley.
Same time as M-Net. New episodes Mondays at 21:00 from 4 November
Inspired by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ iconic DC graphic novel, Watchmen is set in an alternate history where masked vigilantes are treated as outlaws. Oscar, Golden Globe and Emmy winner Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk, Seven Seconds) leads a strong cast as Angela Abar, alongside the likes of Oscar winners Jeremy Irons and Louis Gossett Junior, Golden Globe winner Don Johnson, Tim Blake Nelson (Oh Brother Where Art Thou), Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (Aquaman) and Adelaide Clemens (The Great Gatsby). The series is created by Emmy winner Damon Lindelof (Lost, The Leftovers), with Andrij Parekh (Succession), Nicole Kassell (The Following), Emmy nominee Stephen Williams (Westworld) and Oscar nominee Steph Green (The Americans) among the directors.
HIS DARK MATERIALS S1
First On Showmax. New episodes weekly, express from the US, from 6 November
Lyra’s search for a kidnapped friend uncovers a sinister plot involving stolen children, setting off a quest through parallel worlds to understand a mysterious phenomenon called Dust. The fantasy’s cast includes child stars Dafne Keen and Amir Wilson as Lyra and Will, supported by Golden Globe winner Ruth Wilson (The Affair, Luther), Golden Globe nominee James McAvoy (X-Men), and BAFTA winner Helen McCrory (Harry Potter, The Queen). Oscar winner Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech) is one of the directors.
GOOD TROUBLE S2
First on Showmax. Binge from 2 December
A spinoff from the multi-award-winning The Fosters, Good Trouble explores the trials and tribulations of the tenants of Downtown LA’s hippest residence, The Coterie. This season, Mariana (Cierra Ramirez), Callie (Maia Mitchell) and the rest of The Coterie crew will continue to navigate their early twenties as they deal with breakups, demand equality, find happiness and discover what it means to fight for what you believe in.
THE RIGHTEOUS GEMSTONES S1
First on Showmax. Binge from 2 December
The Righteous Gemstones tells the story of a world-famous televangelist family with a long tradition of deviance, greed and charitable work. Creator Danny McBride (Vice Principals, Eastbound & Down) stars as Jesse Gemstone, the eldest of three grown Gemstone offspring, who looks to lead in his father’s footsteps, but finds his past sins jeopardising the family ministry. Golden Globe winner John Goodman stars alongside Teen Choice and MTV Movie Awards winner Adam Devine (Pitch Perfect, Modern Family) and Emmy nominee Walton Goggins (Justified).
SILICON VALLEY S6 – THE FINAL SEASON
First on Showmax. Binge from 9 December
A collaboration between Mike Judge (Beavis and Butthead) and Alec Berg (Barry), Silicon Valley takes a comedic look at the modern-day epicentre of the high-tech gold rush, where the people most qualified to succeed are the least capable of handling success. Thomas Middleditch stars in an Emmy-nominated role as Richard Hendricks, a Silicon Valley engineer trying to build his own company called Pied Piper.
MRS. FLETCHER S1
First on Showmax. Binge from 13 December
Starring Emmy nominee Kathryn Hahn (Transparent) in the title role, Mrs. Fletcher is a seven-part series based on the bestselling novel of the same name by Tom Perrotta (The Leftovers, Little Children). The series is a dual coming-of-age story chronicling the personal and sexual journeys of an empty-nest mother and her college freshman son, who both embrace their newfound freedom with mixed results. South African Liesl Tommy (Insecure, The Walking Dead, Jessica Jones) is part of the all-female directing team, which also includes Oscar nominee Nicole Holofcener (Orange Is The New Black), nine-time Emmy nominee Carrie Brownstein (Portlandia, Transparent) and Gillian Robespierre (Silicon Valley).
First on Showmax. Binge from 2 January 2019
This half-hour drama focuses on two Mexican-American sisters from the East Side of Los Angeles who couldn’t be more different or distanced from each other. Circumstances force them to return to their old neighbourhood, where they are confronted by the past and the discovery that their deceased mother was in a lesbian marriage.
BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE…
Sweetbitter S2 – Restaurant drama | First On Showmax; due 1 October 2019
Sons of Anarchy S1-7 | Motorbike drama | Due 1 October 2019
The Twilight Zone S1 – Sci-fi | Kumail Nanjiani is up for Outstanding Guest Actor at the 2019 Emmys – Same time as M-Net; new episodes every Friday from 11 October 2019
South Park S23 – Animated comedy | New episodes every Monday from 21 October 2019
The Passage S1 – Apocalyptic horror | Based on Justin Cronin’s bestselling novel – First On Showmax; due 1 November 2019
New Girl S1-7 – Comedy | Five-time Golden Globe nominee – Due 1 November 2019
Lost S1-6 – Fantasy | Winner of 109 awards – Due 2 December 2019
Glee 1-6 – Musical | Winner of four Golden Globes – Due 2 December 2019
Scrubs 1-9 – Medical comedy | Three-time Golden Globe nominee | Due 2 December 2019
Bless This Mess S1 | Comedy | Starring Dax Shepard & Lake Bell | First On Showmax, due 6 December 2019
To see everything on Showmax in September, click here.
Ellen: Die Storie van Ellen Pakkies, South Africa’s entry for the foreign film category of the 2019 Golden Globes, is now streaming on Showmax. Here are five reasons to add this local classic to your watchlist:
1 – Ellen is based on a heart-breaking true story
In 2007, the death of 20-year-old tik addict Abie Pakkies created a stir in South Africa and the world. The most disturbing part of the case was that the murderer was his mother, Ellen.
Based on this heart-rending true story, Ellen explores how this loving mother became desperate enough to take her own son’s life, and why a judge let her off with a three-year suspended sentence and 280 hours of community service.
Ellen Pakkies consulted on the film, which was partly shot in her own home in Lavender Hill.
2 – Ellen became a surprise box office phenomenon
South Africa has a notoriously escapist movie-going culture: of the most successful South African films of the last five years, two were Leon Schuster comedies (Frank & Fearless and Schuks! Pay Back The Money) and three were rom-coms (Vir Altyd, Pad Na Jou Hart and Keeping Up With The Kandasamys).
So no one was expecting Ellen, which is harrowing rather than hilarious, to make over R6m at the South African box office as the third-highest-grossing local film of 2018 (at a much higher per-screen rate than either Frank & Fearless or Stroomop).
A true word-of-mouth phenomenon, Ellen clearly struck a nerve with everyone who saw it.
3 – Jill Levenberg and Jarrid Geduld give award-winning performances
As Ellen and Abie, Jill Levenberg (aka Mymoena Samsodien in Suidooster) and Jarrid Geduld (aka Twist In Boy Called Twist and Randall in Dwaalster) won both The South African Film and Television Awards and Silwerskermfees prizes for Best Actress and Best Actor respectively.
As Margaret Gardiner wrote on Goldenglobes.com, “Much of the power of the film is provided by the subtle interpretation of the titular character by Jill Levenberg. The emotions of love, desperation, hurt and unceasing hope… are palpable.”
While Levenberg and Geduld give career-defining performances, they’re well-supported by the likes of Clint Brink (Binnelanders) as Ellen’s lawyer Adrian Samuels and Elton Landrew (Suidooster) as her husband Odneal.
4 – Ellen is directed by rising star Daryn Joshua
Ellen is the second film from Daryn Joshua, who directed South Africa’s 2018 Oscar entry, Noem My Skollie; produced and wrote the original story for Nosipho Dumisa’s gripping Cape Flats thriller Nommer 37; and is a writer on Netflix’s upcoming African Original Blood & Water.
Joshua won Best Director at this year’s South African Film and Television Awards, where Ellen also took home Best Score for Quinn Lubbe.
Raised on the Cape Flats himself, Joshua is clearly a talent to watch, as is screenwriter Amy Jephta, who took home her second Best Script award in two years at Silwerskermfees 2018 for Ellen, having won in 2017 for her short film Soldaat.
5 – Ellen is more topical than ever
In July 2019, The South African National Defence Force were deployed to the Cape Flats – an area that Western Cape community safety MEC Albert Fritz labelled a war zone just weeks earlier.
“War is commonly defined by the UN and other such institutions as an act of conflict that has claimed more than 1,000 lives. In the Western Cape, 1,875 people were murdered in the past six months alone,” he said in a statement in June. “This means that many of our most vulnerable residents in the province are living in a war zone.”
Ellen makes it clear the system failed Ellen Pakkies in 2007; statistics like this make it clear the system is still failing mothers on the Cape Flats, 12 years later.