Movies out today: century-spanning cerebral epics, serial killers, plant boys and academics

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Four new movies open in South Africa today, and for the most part they focus on powerful interpersonal bonds… with a touch of escapist flavour.

Cloud Atlas:
The pick of the new releases is definitely this ambitious sci-fi epic and novel adaptation – helmed by The Matrix’s Wachowskis, and Tom Tykwer. Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent and Hugo Weaving head up a vast cast, where actors play multiple roles. It’s all rather confusing and headache-inducing but basically the film consists of several stories set over multiple centuries, where the same souls keep meeting and interacting in different ways.

With such an unconventional plot and a running time of over 2 hours 40 minutes, Cloud Atlas probably won’t have mass appeal. However, by the sound of things, it’s must-watch for movie lovers. Some critics have even gone so far as to call it “the most important film of the year,” combining visual spectacle, philosophical musings and a blending of genres. Cloud Atlas is far from perfect – as a divisive 63% Fresh review score on Rotten Tomatoes indicates – but evidently it’s a movie you HAVE to form an opinion about if you consider yourself a cinephile.

Alex Cross:
Having already been played twice by Morgan Freeman, James Patterson’s psychologist and cop once again makes the leap from page to screen, this time in the form of Tyler Perry. In this franchise reboot, Alex Cross attempts to hunt down a psychotic killer known as Picasso (Matthew Fox). Also starring are Edward Burns, Rachel Nichols and Jean Reno.

Crime thriller Alex Cross is a dark, brave change in direction for its two leads. Unfortunately though the film – directed by Rob (The Fast and the Furious, xXx)Cohen – is nothing special, hamstrung by its stupidity and slapdash approach to filmmaking. Kervyn was certainly very unimpressed.

The Odd Life of Timothy Green:
This family fantasy film from Disney stars Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton as an infertile couple who write down the qualities of their dream child, bury their notes and one day find muddy, 10 year old Timothy (CJ Adams) on their doorstep. Timothy touches the lives of those around him, while hiding a secret – he’s growing leaves from his legs.

The Odd Life of Timothy Green is clearly your safe, fluffy option this weekend, although it’s Apparently too sentimental and quirky to be be really satisfying. Cynics are advised to stay away but those in the market for a good ol’ fashioned heart-warmer should find enough here to like.

Footnote:
Screening in limited release is this subtitled Israeli comedy-drama about a father-son pair of Talmud researchers (Shlomo Bar’aba and Lior Ashkenazi), and the conflicted emotions that arise when one of them is mistakingly named the recipient of a prestigious award. Winner of the Best Screenplay Award at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, and nominated in the Best Foreign Language Film category at this year’s Oscars.

Evidently Footnote is an exceptional, bittersweet comedy, combining smart subject matter with some surprisingly striking cinematography.

Last Updated: November 2, 2012

Noelle Adams

Sometime Tomb Raider. Full-time Pop Culture fanatic and Geekaissance Woman. Most often spotted outputting Pop Culture opinion pieces, writing fanfic and original genre fare, cosplaying and bringing the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu smackdown. Editor of the Comics and Toys section.

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