This year’s Oscars take place on Sunday night (early Monday morning, South African time). So, naturally, local film distributors are getting in on the action, with the release of two of the biggest names of the 2013 awards season. It’s also, incidentally, a notable week for true stories hitting the silver screen.
Loosely based on real events, this crime comedy-drama centres on a couple of con artists (Christian Bale and Amy Adams) who are forced by Bradley Cooper’s FBI’s agent to scam and incriminate mobsters and corrupt political figures in the late 70s – early 80s. Also with Jennifer Lawrence and Jeremy Renner.
American Hustle is currently in the running for 10 Academy Awards, and has already bagged a hefty load of other accolades, particularly for its leading ladies. Sporting an aggregated Rotten Tomatoes review score of 93% Fresh, the film is apparently a highly entertaining, exciting and exceptionally well-acted character study. Funny, smart and stylish.
Dallas Buyers Club:
Also recalling a different era – and true story – is this drama about a fast-living, macho rodeo rider (Matthew McConaughey) who is diagnosed with AIDS in 1985. Desperate as a result of his terminal diagnosis, he starts smuggling in as-yet-unapproved antiretrovirals from Mexico, and discovers there’s a “buyers club” for these drugs in the States. This includes Jared Leto’s transgender woman. The film also stars Jennifer Garner and Steve Zahn.
Dallas Buyers Club is up for 6 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor. It’s a powerfully defiant and moving film in its own right, but it will probably be best remembered for McConaughey’s remarkable, transformative performance. 94% Fresh.
Nope, this isn’t Shakespeare’s story brought to the big screen, but it is based on a novel. Colin Farrell stars in this supernatural fantasy romance about a thief who tries to escape the life enforced on him by the demon-gangster (Russell Crowe) who raised him in New York at the turn of the 20th Century. Guardian angels – in the form of white horses – get involved. Also with Jennifer Connelly and Will Smith.
Winter’s Tale sounds really trippy on paper, and according to critics its magical realism also really misses the mark on the screen. Clearly sincere in intention, it’s still laughably ludicrous in execution.
The Frozen Ground:
This thriller depicts the hunt for real-life Alaskan serial killer Robert Hansen. John Cusack is the murderer while Nicolas Cage the cop who sets out to stop the 13 year killing spree with the assistance of Vanessa Hudgens’s lucky young survivor. 50 Cent and Radha Mitchell also appear.
The Frozen Ground is apparently far from fresh, but it’s also far from the dreck that cinemagoers have come to expect of Cage in recent years. The film is buoyed by strong performances and an engaging true story. Highly respectable.
The Perfect Wave:
In terms of South African funded and shot movies released today, there’s this faith-themed real-life drama. Globe-trotting Kiwi surfer Ian McCormack (played by Clint’s son, Scott Eastwood) lives for adventure and romance until he is stung by deadly box jellyfish. This near-death experience forces him to examine his relationship with God.
File this one under “family orientated” and “inspiring” if you like this sort of thing.
Last Updated: February 28, 2014