Four notable new movies open in South Africa today, and it’s a case of 2 “local is lekker” comedies vs. 2 international releases that arrive on our shores atop a wave of hype. Who will be triumphant during the weekend box office wars?
Chronicle: Hands down my pick of the weekend is this sci-fi thriller that promises a more realistic take on the superhero genre. Shot in the “found footage” style associated with the likes of Cloverfield and Paranormal Activity, Chronicle centres on a trio of teenage boys who develop amazing abilities after exposure to an alien object. Of course, being teenage boys, they hardly use their powers for altruistic purposes, and events swiftly take a dark turn. Shot partially in South Africa, strangely enough. Watch the trailer here.
Is Chronicle worth watching? Well, Kervyncertainly believes so, and you can read his review here. For the record, overseas the film is is sitting with an aggregated Rotten Tomatoes rating of 85% Fresh. Evidently Chronicle is smart, fresh and credible, although it would have been even better if it hadn’t stuck to the gimmicky hand-held camera approach.
My Week with Marilyn: Nominated in the categories of Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor at this year’s Academy Awards, this biopic is set during the Summer of 1965, when the most famous actress in the world, Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams) – newly married to Arthur Miller (Dougray Scott) – was in England shooting The Prince and the Showgirl. Worn down by her public sexpot act and life constantly in the spotlight, Marilyn flees to the countryside with a young production assistant (Eddie Redmayne). Apparently based on a true story. Also starring Judie Dench, Emma Watson, Dominic Cooper, Zoe Wanamaker, Derek Jacobi and Julia Ormond.
According to reviews you won’t be watching My Week with Marilyn for its workmanlike script. However, you will be watching for its outstanding performances (especially from Williams), and if you have a fascination with Hollywood’s Golden Age.
Material: Oh my God! A post-2010 South African movie that isn’t a crime drama or Afrikaans musical romance? Well, believe it. In comedy drama Material, popular local comedian Riaad Moosa plays a young Muslim man who discovers his gift for stand-up comedy. This puts him at loggerheads with his traditionalist father (Vincent Ebrahim), who expects his only son to take over the family business: a Joburg fabric shop. Other notable names in the cast include Joey Rasdien and Nic Rabinowitz.
The plot for Material sounds simply like a local spin on a standard inter-generational conflict tale. However, online reviews suggest the film is one of the freshest, funniest and genuinely heart-warming to come out of SA in a long time.
Semi-Soet: Speaking of lighthearted Afrikaans romances, non-musical comedy Semi-Soet releases today as the newest entry in this popular local genre. Workaholic Jaci van Jaarsveld (Anel Alexander) will do anything to save the small advertising agency where she works. Even if that means faking a stable relationship to win an account with a conservative wine farmer. The problem is that the handsome model (Nico Panagio) she hauls off to the Cape Winelands is much more than he seems.
It all sounds rather complicated and convoluted, but that’s par for the course with romantic comedies… made both locally and abroad. Evidently local reviewers agree. If you’re in the market for silly, forgettable fluff, Semi-Soet delivers. Vanilla, unambitious, it nonetheless is slickly made and ticks off all the genre requirements.
Last Updated: February 17, 2012