Movies out today: bad cops, bad financiers, bad cults and bad weepies

3 min read

Four new movies open in South Africa today. I can’t say any of them really falls into the Must-see Category for me, personally, but different tastes for different folks I suppose.

31 Million Reasons: Along with Afrikaans romantic musicals, crime dramas seem to be South Africa’s big cinematic flavour of the moment. 31 Million Reasons is yet another genre entry. Set in Durban, the film offers a fictional twist on true events – a 1997 robbery in which R31 million was stolen. Jack Devnarain plays a dirty cop who orchestrates the biggest heist in the city’s history. However, he and his accomplices think they’re only stealing R1 million, and the massive, unexpected score threatens to tear the gang apart.

As with most South African movies, 31 Million Reasons is releasing without much critical buzz… just the usual marketing hype. Judging by the trailer though, the film looks watchable enough, if offering nothing new.

Margin Call: Here’s one for thinking adults. With an all-star cast that includes Kevin Spacey, Paul Bettany, Jeremy Irons, Zachary Quinto, Simon Baker, Mary McDonnell, Stanley Tucci and Demi Moore, Margin Call examines a 36 hour period at a Lehman Brothers-esque investment firm, just as the 2007 market crash began. Cue tough moral choices…

I’m not sure how accessible Margin Call will be for ordinary viewers but the indie production has certainly been attracting critical attention. Nominated for a handful of Best Film and Best Screenplay awards this awards season, Margin Call has been called “easily the best Wall Street movie ever made” by the New Yorker. Apparently the film is a compelling and coherent companion to Oscar-winning documentary Inside Job.

A Little Bit of Heaven: Yay, another cancer comedy! However, unlike the acclaimed, honest 50/50, this Kate Hudson starrer – which weirdly has yet to even release in the United States – takes the form of a romcom. Hudson stars as a party-loving career woman who discovers she is terminally ill but nonetheless begins a relationship with doctor Gael García Bernal. Unsurprisingly death and commitment fears complicate things. Kathy Bates, Whoopi Goldberg and Peter Dinklage also appear.

A Little Bit of Heaven is currently 5% Fresh on review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes. Ow! Typical complaints about the film centre on its mismatched leads, criminally unfunny nature and unbalanced tone. Curiously enough though, non-critics have responded to the film far more positively.

Martha Marcy May Marlene: Opening in limited release on the art film circuit is this psychological thriller-drama, centering on a young woman, Martha (Elizabeth Olsen), who escapes a cult, and takes refuge with her older sister (Sarah Paulson). Martha, however, struggles with paranoia and delusions as she tries to readjust to normal life.

Martha Marcy May and Marlene has been doing the film festival rounds overseas and has garnered some serious praise, with much acclaim going the way of “captivating” Olsen. The film itself is apparently haunting and cleverly made… if unapologetically “indie.” This one should be a real treat for anyone with interests in psychology.

Last Updated: January 13, 2012

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