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.

The Monuments Men: Review

Based on the true story of a team of men tasked with rescuing the many works of art taken by the nazis during the second world war.

The Monuments Men is a tale of adventure, and and pushing forward in your duty despite all the obstacles. They other military units did not approve of them, especially when they made requests not to shell certain buildings which contains the treasures of their hunt.

The story is simple, and draws you in to this honourable quest by this small group.

Although set in the war, this is no war story. Any glimpse of action is merely fleeting, yet the stark reality of man’s aggression towards one another remains.

Some light hearted scenes of humour, and some scenes of sorrow. This is the telling of actual events, and it does to with aplomb, keeping on entertained from the start.

The one caveat is that it feels as if there is something missing, the triumphant climax is followed by the slightest of let-downs, however this does not mare a good movie, and an enjoyable escape.

The Monuments Men opens 14 February 2014 in South African cinemas.

Local Animation Film Khumba Makes History With SA DVD Release In Three Languages

Khumba and Thembi

In a first for South African film, ‘Khumba’ – the 3D, computer-animated adventure comedy –will be available on DVD in English, isiZulu and Afrikaans.The film, which took the number one position at the South African box office when it released theatrically, is still on circuit internationally and has been translated into over 20 foreign languages. The DVD will launch on 3 March and it’s the first time that Zulu children can watch an animated feature in their own language since Disney released a Zulu version of ‘The Lion King’ twenty years ago.

“Each language brings a whole new layer of humour and authenticity to the film,” says ‘Khumba’ director Anthony Silverston. “It’s been an incredible rewarding process to have the film translated, and it can now reach a bigger audience than ever on DVD.”

‘Khumba’ is the second animated feature produced by Cape Town-based Triggerfish Animation Studios, following the successful global release of ‘Adventures in Zambezia’. The film tells the story of Khumba, a zebra who has only half his stripes. When he is blamed for the drought by the rest of his herd, he sets off on a daring quest to earn his stripes. He meets a range of quirky characters and teams up with an unlikely duo: Mama V, an overprotective wildebeest, and Bradley, a flamboyant ostrich. But he also has to come face to face with Phango, a sadistic leopard who controls the waterholes and terrorises all the animals in the Great Karoo.

The New York Times Critics’ Pick called it “wondrous and slightly deranged”, while the Mail & Guardian said, “Packed with humour, folklore and absorbing characters, ‘Khumba’is a local offering of the highest calibre.”

The DVD features a number of extras, including the movie trailer, the music video “The Real Me” by Loyiso, a series of previously unreleased out takes called “Acting Out”, a character evolution which describes the personality of each of the animal characters, ‘The Karoo – A World of Difference’, and finally a glimpse into the development of Nora the sheep voiced by Catherine Tate in ‘Nora, a great partnersheep’.

“‘Khumba’ has all the makings of a classic tale: it’s well told, visually stunning and emotionally evocative,” says Helen Kuun. “It’s like‘The Lion King’ of the 21st century. “To be able to release a 3D animated film of this quality on DVD in English, isiZulu and Afrikaans is a major achievement.”

The English version features the voice of Liam Neeson as a malicious leopard, as well as the voices of Jake T Austin, Anna Sophia Robb, Laurence Fishburne and Steve Buscemi, among others.

In the isiZulu version, the role of Khumba is voiced by Siphiwe Nkosi, a singer and film, television and theatre actor best known for his role as the uncle of the title character in the popular SABC1 sitcom ‘Nomzamo’. The role of Nora the sheep is voiced by Gcina Mkhize, a familiar face form ‘Gaz’lam’‘eKasi’ and the SABC1 drama series ‘Intersexions’. Actress and voice artist Jessie Palmer takes on the role of bighearted wildebeest Mama V, while Bradley, the insecure ostrich, is voiced by gospel star Neyi Zimu.

The Afrikaans version features the voices of several well-known Afrikaans actors who will be familiar to local audiences. The voice over artists are directed by radio and television personality Bettie Kemp, who is herself an experienced voice artist, news reader and continuity announcer. Popular actor and comedian Hannes Brümmer provides the voice for Khumba, with Rika Sennet as his mother.Veteran voice artist and actor Francois Stemmet is the voice for the evil Phango. The meerkat dad is voiced by Afrikaans musician and actor Lochner de Kock, while the loony old sheep is voiced by cabaret star and actress Elzabé Zietsman. The dubbing of both the Afrikaans and isiZulu versions was done at Presto Post Production.

‘Khumba’ was in competition at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival and Market (MIFA), which took place in France from 10 to 15 June. This is one of the world’s premiere animation festivals and is attended by around 7000 animators and more than 400 journalist from around the world.

In addition, the film was screened and officially selected at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), held from 5-15 September 2013.It has also been sold to most of the major territories worldwide.

A film for everyone, ‘Khumba’ has been given a“Family-Approved” seal by The Dove Foundation, a US-based organisation that reviews movies and awards its stamp of approval to those deemed suitable for family viewing, giving it broad appeal.

The DVDwill be available in all good retail and rental stores from 3 March 2014.

Her: Review

It’s certainly clear to see why Her has garnered so many award nominations. Set in the not-too-distant future, we follow the story of Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix), picking up where he is on the process of a bitter divorce.

Working for a company where he writes touching letters and greetings on behalf of others, he pours out his emotions in his work, but at home his complexities turn to a more simple, lonely existence. That is, until he installs a new operating system, named Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson).

As Samantha ingests more and more data, so her personality develops, and eventually there is a romantic connection that develops between her and Theodore. This fact on it’s own may seem strange, but in the context of the story, it is totally understandable. Humans are not, for the most part, lone creatures, but rather seek company and emotional connection. With a highly intelligent artificial system, these needs are met. And in Her, they are met in sometimes humorous, and sometimes slightly awkward ways.

Her, a romance with a difference, and a totally plausible story that is sure to become a reality one day soon. Great entertainment, and an endearing story that viewers are sure to enjoy.

Her opens Friday , 14 February 2014, just in time to take that special someone out for a Valentines Day night.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist (DVD): Review

The Film

The Reluctant Fundamentalist, two worlds, one story, juxtaposed, yet an ocean apart. A look at our persuit of a dream, and success, and the battle against equality.

The film follows Changez (Riz Ahmed) as he persues The American Dream, leaving his home in Pakistan and rising quickly through the ranks of power in a firm on Wall Street, yet as the events of September 11, 2001 strike, he finds the world polarised, and each side prejudiced towards the other.

Changez returns to Pakistan, and becomes embroiled in a hostage drama, his conflict of wanting The American Dream, and wanting to remain true to his homeland.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist shows a stark, real look at the two worlds, their similarities and their differences, and how one’s ideals or goals will inevitably affect the innocent.

An engrossing story, well portrayed.

The Disc

The disc is encoded at a high bitrate, and so can be scaled via software to HD, but towards the latter part of the disc there were increasing screen artefacts, and even more disturbing some very loud audio pops. These are unfortunate, as they mar a very good story.

Audio does not make use of the surrounds, but the story, for the most part, does not lend itself to scenes that would be greatly enhanced by the surrounds.

There are no bonus features on the disc, which is a pity, as some insight in to the locations, and the events that form the background of the story, would have been most welcomed.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist is available to purchase in South Africa now.

Mandela Long Walk To Freedom Brings History To Life For Students

Videovision Entertainment has joined forces with Pearson, the world’s leading learning company and home to Heinemann and Maskew Miller Longman, to give high school students the opportunity of a visual history lesson of the life and times of Nelson Mandela through the film, Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom which will form part of their CAPS Syllabus.

Pearson, in collaboration with Videovision Entertainment, developed high school worksheets based on the film which are CAPS-aligned and support the relevant content for the Social Sciences, History and English Language curricula.

“True to the words of Nelson Mandela, ‘education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world’, we have created a film that we hope will inspire people all over the world, especially the youth to uplift themselves and to find the ‘Mandela’ within,” said Anant Singh, Producer of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.

“At Pearson we believe in all kinds of learning for all kinds of people. We wanted to honour the legacy of Madiba and his extraordinary life in a way that would benefit learners across South Africa. What better way than creating educationally sound, curriculum aligned worksheets based on his life, and making them available for free”, said Gary Broom, Marketing Director for Schools at Pearson South Africa.

Learners will be able to use existing Social Sciences and History knowledge, challenging them to think critically about the historical events that shaped South Africa as we know it today; the worksheets provide an opportunity for learners to develop and apply Reading and Viewing, Language Structures and Conventions and Listening and Speaking skills while gaining insight into the life of a very important South African historical icon; the film will also provide learners with an opportunity to visually experience the exceptional life of Nelson Mandela, inspiring them while they are engaged in an educational activity.

How do the worksheets work? The worksheets will be available for download on the Classroom Solutions website www.classroomsolutions.co.za. The questions in the worksheets support the curriculum relevant to the learners’ grade, allowing them to take home not only information relevant to their studies, but also a deeper understanding of Mandela’s personal struggles while fighting for freedom in South Africa.

To make a school group booking at a discounted rate, contact:

SterKinekor: Nerisha Maharaj email: nerisham@sterkinekor.com or Tel: 011 445 8589

NuMetro: Phyllis Lebeloane email: phyllisLe@numetro.co.za  or Tel: 011 2803912

CineCentre: Hafsa or Luchanta email: cinecentrecallcentre@mwebbiz.co.za or Tel: 0861 246 300

Group bookings must be made at least 10 days in advance and even if the film is not showing at any convenient cinema for the school, SterKinekor, NuMetro and CineCentre will make arrangements to have the film re-scheduled to screen for the school booking.

For Pearson worksheet enquiries:

Camilla Costa
Pearson
Tel: 021 532 6122
Email:  Camilla.costa@pearson.com

For any information on the film, please visit the website: www.mandelamovie.co.za

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