Movies out today: Sing, dance, swap bodies, scream

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Six new movies open in South Africa today, mixing the lowbrow thrills with more arty fare.

Paranormal Activity 4:
After 2 prequels, we finally learn what happened to Katie (Katie Featherston) and her nephew Hunter in this fourth entry in the massively successful found footage-style horror series. It’s five years later and a new family begins to experience demonic occurrences in their suburban home. Pretty blonde teenager Alex (Kathryn Newton) is especially aware of the weirdness.

At the time of writing this post, Paranormal Activity 4 had an aggregated Rotten Tomatoes review score of 32%. Evidently audiences should expect more of the same from this franchise, with the addition of some self-referential winks to other horror films. In other words, it’s only for fans, and even then they’ll probably find it too “safe”.

Copposites:
This South African body-swap comedy stars Rob Van Vuuren and Sivuyile ‘Siv’ Ngesi as an unhinged cop and desperate ex-con respectively – who end up trading bodies as a result of a DNA-altering formula. Forced to live in the other’s skin, these 2 enemies must work together to restore the status quo. Look out for local comedy talent like Nik Rabinowitz, Alfred Ntombela and Loyiso Gola in the supporting cast.

Despite making its world debut at the Durban International Film Festivalearlier this year, there’s a distinct shortage of reviews online for Copposites. But it has to be smarter, funnier and more insightful about race relations than Mad Buddies, right? Our own James responds in the affirmative in his review.

Moonrise Kingdom:
Wes (Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums) Anderson is a love-him-or-hate-him filmmaker, and I confess I’ve yet to find the appeal of his quirky-to-the-point-of-pretentious comedy-dramas. Moonrise Kingdom is set in 1965, and centres on the chaos caused when a pair of 12 year olds run away together during one Summer on a New England island. The ensemble cast includes Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton and Jason Schwartzman.

You have to be able to stomach Anderson’s idiosyncrasies, but evidently Moonrise Kingdom is one of the writer-director’s best efforts yet – full of heart, wit and gorgeously shot.

StreetDance 2:
I confess I didn’t even know there was a StreetDance 1, but there you have it. This British answer to the Step Up series follows the formula expected of these dance dramas – sexy, young bodies, jaw-dropping choreography and some silly storyline about preparing for a “high-stakes dance-off.” Screening in 3D for maximum visual impact and starring Britain’s Got Talent stars George Sampson and Flawless, along with Sofia Boutella.

As expected, according to overseas critics the dancers can’t act to save their lives, and the plot is barely pencilled in. This said, the dance scenes are genuinely exhilarating, especially with their sexy fusion of Hip Hop and Latin styles.

Sparkle:
A musical drama, and remake, that tells the story of three Detroit sisters who form a girl group during the Motown era, and face various challenges as they rise to stardom. Loosely based on the story of the Supremes, and starring American Idol winner Jordin Sparks as the title character. Notable as Whitney Houston’s last film.

We’ve seen this type of melodramatic story a hundred times, but Sparkle apparently benefits from its great music, high levels of energy and strong performances, especially from Carmen Ejogo. Solid but unexceptional.

Farewell, My Queen:
Screening in limited release is this historical drama starring Diane Kruger as French queen Marie Antoinette. Based on the novel by Chantal Thomas, the film is a fictional account of the last days of the French royal family, as seen through the eyes of a young servant (Léa Seydoux) infatuated with the queen. In French with English subtitles.

Farewell, My Queen has done well on the international film festival circuit, lapping up the critical love. Not only is it a visually beautiful piece of period cinema, but it also manages to be be intimate and compelling despite the fact that most people already know the outcome of its historical events.

Last Updated: October 19, 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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