Blood Money

Our Kind of Traitor

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Director: Susanna White

Cast: Ewan McGregor, Stellan Skarsgard, Damian Lewis, Naomie Harris, Jeremy Northam, Grigoriy Dobrygin, Pawel Szajda, Marek Oravec, Alicia von Rittberg, Jana Perez, Khalid Abdalla, Mark Stanley, Alec Utgoff

Based upon the bestselling novel by John le Carre, Iranian screenwriter Hossein Amini’s (Drive, The Two Faces of January) adaptation of Our Kind of Traitor to the big screen is spotless, peppering most of the dialogue with that dry British repartee.

British director Susanna White turns Our Kind of Traitor into a glossy cat and mouse game of international intrigue choosing to rather hint at bloodshed than actually portraying it.

Except for the opening sequence where a Russian money launderer, his wife and daughter are brutally murdered by the Blue Eyed killer played by Pawel Szajda (Under the Tuscan Sun), Our Kind of Traitor effortlessly shifts to a glamourous Moroccan resort in Marrakech where British couple Perry and Gail Makepeace expertly played by Ewan McGregor and Naomie Harris (Skyfall, Spectre) are unwittingly drawn into a murky world of international intrigue when Perry befriends the exuberant Dima colourfully portrayed by Swedish actor Stellan Skarsgard.

Dima gives Perry a flash drive containing names of the Russian mob who are planning on setting up a shady Cypriot bank in London and Dima as money launderer for the head of the Russian mob, Prince, played by Grigoriy Dobrygin (A Most Wanted Man), knows that his family are under imminent threat.

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As the action moves from Marrakech to London, Perry is detained at Heathrow by suave Mi6 agent Hector, elegantly played by Damian Lewis of Homeland fame.

In the shadowy world of international money laundering Hector uncovers that there are indeed links between corrupt British MP Aubrey Longrigg played by Jeremy Northam and Russian mobster the Prince. In order to prove these links exist, Hector uses Perry and Gail to get close to Dima so that they can prove that such dubious transactions exist between Russian organized crime and the London financial district. Blood money as Hector so bluntly puts it to a genteel British government committee.

The action moves swiftly to Paris and then onto Bern, Switzerland, where Perry and Gail under orders of Hector make contact with Dima in order to secure the safe passage of Dima and his family out of Europe safely to British custody.

Our Kind of Traitor is an engaging and evenly paced thriller with just the right dash of exotic intrigue, hinting at a broader criminal conspiracy involving the Russian mob and London’s financial district whilst underlining the strain this covert involvement takes on the marriage of a seemingly ordinary upper middle class British couple.

With stylish production design by Sarah Greenwood and a polished script by Amini, Our Kind of Traitor manages to deliver a sophisticated and suspenseful thriller which most John le Carre stories are known for.

Viewers that enjoyed A Most Wanted Man and The Constant Gardener will love Our Kind of Traitor especially in the wake of a revival of most of Le Carre’s recently published novels to glossy film and television productions which recently includes the excellent AMC series The Night Manager starring Hugh Laurie and Tom Hiddleston.

Our Kind of Traitor is highly recommended viewing for a superbly adapted thriller to the big screen with a particularly brilliant performance by Stellan Skarsgard as the brave but vicious Dima who will go to any lengths to protect his family.

 

Nashville Neurosis

What’s the Matter with Gerald?

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Director: Matt Riddlehoover

Cast: Jacob York, Kathy Cash, Jonathan Everett, Angel Luis, Daniel Choico, Claudia Church, Dan Carter

Taking inspiration from Woody Allen, director Matt Riddlehoover writes and directs an amusing social comedy What’s the matter with Gerald? which recently opened the 6th Durban Gay and Lesbian Film Festival http://www.dglff.org.za/ after its world premiere at the Nashville Film Festival in 2016.

The film centres on wealthy Gerald, a Hush Fund man who is basically paid by his father to keep a low profile about his sexuality. Slightly overweight and completely neurotic, Gerald is in a comfortable relationship with the business orientated gay republican Charles, played by Jonathan Everett. They live a bourgeois life in contemporary Nashville, Tennessee.

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At the suggestion of a friend at a cocktail party, Gerald seeks the advice of a mysterious jeweller May wonderfully played by the wise-mouthed and unconventional Kathy Cash. Soon Gerald’s spiritual and sexual reawakening begins as he soon uses crystals to enhance his life and broaden his horizons. Those horizons include eyeing out a gorgeous young jogger played by Daniel Choico.

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Gerald’s complicated and slightly dependent relationship with his wealthy and snobbish mother Doris played by Claudia Church is soon another problem that he has to solve. Let’s face it – which gay men do not have an overly complicated relationship with their mothers?

What’s the matter with Gerald? is a delightful Nashville comedy about one thirty something man’s reawakening through a series of events brought on by his chance meeting with the wise cracking May whose best line is “Most men don’t reach maturity until they are fifty!”.

A humorous and witty comedy about Gerald’s reawakening and his transformation into a gay man who takes control of his destiny and ultimately moves out of his comfort zone. Let’s face it, how long could he go on dating a Gay Republican?! Talk about Nashville Neurosis.

An enjoyable comedy which opened to a packed audience at the 6th annual Durban Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. We hope to see more of director Riddlehoover’s quirky films at the Durban festival in the future.

Strippers and Chorus Boys

Waiting in the Wings

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Director: Jenn Page

Cast: Jeffrey A. Johns, Adam Huss, Rena Strober, Lee Meriweather, Christopher Atkins, David Pevsner, Mitch Poulos, Matt Wool, Harrison White

Director Jenn Page’s hilarious romantic comedy Waiting in the Wings is a cross between Magic Mike and A Chorus Line.

A case of mistaken identities lands a stripper Tony played by the beautiful Adam Huss last seen in the Mediterranean short film Foreign Relations being cast in an off Broadway musical and a wannabe chorus boy Anthony played by Jeffrey A. Johns being cast in a male strip show at the Banana Peel club. Waiting in the Wings had its South African premiere at the 6th Annual Durban Gay and Lesbian Film Festival http://www.dglff.org.za/and is a witty musical played with fabulous vigour by the two leading actors Huss and Johns.

Audiences should look out for a cameo by Christopher Atkins as a conservative Montana priest at the start of the film. Atkins made his cinematic debut in the controversial film Blue Lagoon opposite Brooke Shields back in 1980.

Set in the off Broadway theatre district of bustling New York City, Waiting in the Wings features some exuberant performances by Rena Strober as Rita a dazzling singer and Harrison White as a Drag Queen in charge of the group of male strippers.

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Tony has to learn to sing and Anthony has to learn to dance. Both scenarios of strip club and musical theatre provide some really entertaining musical numbers and the plot involving mistaken identity is soon resolved by the ever resourceful Rita who brings the two together.

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Waiting in the Wings is a fun, exuberant comedy about mistaken identity, Broadway dreams and strippers realising that they can do more with their bodies. Naturally the script is loaded with huge doses of sexual innuendo and if audiences don’t know what that means then its best to see the film.

Highly recommended viewing, with some outrageous musical numbers especially the song about matinees this is a Gay version of A Chorus Line with ample doses of hot bodies, drag queens and dumb but gorgeous male strippers. There is eye candy for everyone plus a musical number to match!

Over the top and camp, Waiting in the Wings will be sure to put any gay audience in an even happier mood especially as it features an abundance of strippers and chorus boys.

And the good news is there is a sequel coming out soon: Waiting in the Wings: Still Waiting.

 

 

Heroic Heiress

Florence Foster Jenkins

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Director: Stephen Frears

Cast: Meryl Streep, Hugh Grant, Simon Helberg, Rebecca Ferguson, Nina Arianda, Stanley Townsend, Christian McKay, John Sessions

No actress plays a diva quite like Oscar winner Meryl Streep. First it was her brilliant portrayal of the Fashion Editor Miranda Priestley in The Devil Wears Prada. Now in the capable hands of The Queen director Stephen Frears, Streep plays the delusional American heiress Florence Foster Jenkins opposite British star Hugh Grant.

For once Grant holds his own opposite Streep and as a rather stylish couple in Florence Foster Jenkins set in lavish New York musical circles in 1944 as the Second World War is drawing to a close.

Jenkins who unfortunately had an awful singing voice but believed that she could sing beautifully, enlists the help of accompanying pianist Cosme McMoon wonderfully played by Simon Helberg from the hit TV series The Big Bang Theory. Helberg acts with his eyes and his expressive disapproval of Jenkin’s awful voice is soon transformed into a fondness for the eccentric heiress who genuinely thinks her voice is superb.

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Naturally her singing ambition is encouraged by her husband St Clair Bayfield fabulously played by Hugh Grant (Notting Hill, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Sense and Sensibility). In a complicated arrangement Bayfield enjoys his conjugal activities with the gorgeous Kathleen, played by Swedish actress Rebecca Ferguson (Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation) who isn’t impressed with Jenkins rise in popularity.

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Three time Oscar winner Meryl Streep (Kramer vs Kramer, Sophie’s Choice, The Iron Lady) nails her interpretation of Florence Foster Jenkins as a lonely American heiress who due to an unfortunate illness, namely syphilis, is never able to have children so she sets her sights on conquering the fickle and snobbish world of classical music and in turn believes she has the makings of a star.

Her crowning achievement came during the infamous concert at Carnegie Hall where to bolster audience numbers she gave free tickets to inebriated American soldiers about to embark on a foreign war. Remember this is the golden age of radio and Jenkins exploited this medium to its fullest, soon becoming a favourite for her willpower rather than any inherent lyrical traits.

Assisted with a witty script by Nicholas Martin, Frears approaches the tale of Florence Foster Jenkins in a high camp fashion, making the film a poignant and hilarious tale of the diva whose fabulous costumes and awful singing made her the heroic heiress of New York.

Florence Foster Jenkins is a delightful film and will sure to garner some recognition for the sumptuous production design and brilliant costumes in the approaching awards seasons.

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Simon Helberg is particularly superb as McMoon who is mesmerized and scandalized by the life force that was the flamboyant Florence Foster Jenkins https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florence_Foster_Jenkins.

This film is highly recommended viewing, a wonderfully acted tale of an heiress who certainly made the most of her fifteen minutes of fame despite popular opinion.

Lunacy Prevails

Suicide Squad

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Director: David Ayer

Cast: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Viola Davis, Joel Kinnaman, Jai Courtney, Jay Hernandez, Jared Leto, Cara Delevigne, Common, David Harbour, Scott Eastwood, Ezra Miller

After David Ayer’s impressively realistic war film, Fury, it was announced that he would be directing the highly anticipated and edgy superhero film, Suicide Squad.

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Assembling an international cast would be easy. Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Joel Kinnaman and Oscar nominee Viola Davis were all on board but the real casting coup was having Oscar winner Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club) play the Joker.

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Big crazy shoes to fill for Leto considering Oscar winner Heath Ledger did such a sterling job of playing The Joker in Christopher Nolan’s visually impressive The Dark Knight in 2008. And then there was Oscar winner Jack Nicolson’s wacky portrayal of Gotham’s most deranged villain in Tim Burton’s Batman back in the 1989.

So Suicide Squad is finally released with huge expectations including a brilliant trailer but is this new superhero film that mind-blowing? If viewers watch this film as a precursor for Warner Bros’s DC Comics expanding their cinematic universe following Batman versus Superman and the highly anticipated The Justice League to be released in 2017, then Suicide Squad will satisfy fanboys globally.

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What saves Suicide Squad is Margot Robbie’s exuberant performance as the psychopathic killer Harley Quinn who also happens to be The Joker’s deranged girlfriend.

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Equally good in Suicide Squad is Oscar nominee Viola Davis (The Help, Doubt) who plays a hard-nosed and ruthless head of a covert government organization and the brainchild behind assembling such a crazy bunch of humans and meta-humans to save Midway City, where the only bond tying the psycho killers together are a shared lunacy and the prospect of continued incarceration.

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What works against Suicide Squad is having such a young villain, model turned actress Cara Delevigne as the evil Enchantress whilst Leto’s crazy Joker has diminished screen time, but then again Leto is returning in The Justice League, so we shall see.

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Suicide Squad does lose the plot slightly, but as a superhero film especially with David Ayer at the helm, it could have been far edgier and definitely much sexier. This is where Deadpool got it right. If you are going to subvert the superhero genre do it properly especially with such a deranged cast of characters. The use of continued flashbacks in the narrative also detracts somewhat from the primary storyline.

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Despite the steam punk production design, Suicide Squad is not a brilliant film and certainly does not live up to its hype, but will be savoured by all superhero fanboys and if one views the film as a precursor to great things to come then it is outrageously entertaining. Audiences should definitely stay seated beyond the final credits.

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Unfortunately Will Smith and Joel Kinnaman seem to fumble in the film but that is primarily because they do not have sufficiently grittier and bloodier material to work with, a style which director David Ayer is more accustomed to.

See Fury to appreciate where Ayer’s real talent lies.

Reclaiming his Identity

Jason Bourne

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Director: Paul Greengrass

Cast: Matt Damon, Alicia Vikander, Julia Stiles, Tommy Lee Jones, Vincent Cassel, Riz Ahmed, Scott Sheperd

Director Paul Greengrass reunites with Matt Damon in a thrilling continuation of the Bourne franchise in the aptly titled Jason Bourne.

Having directed The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum, it was inevitable that Greengrass and Damon would work together again. The lure of the fast paced, globe-trotting Bourne franchise is irresistible.

Joining the cast of Jason Bourne are Alicia Vikander fresh from her Oscar win in The Danish Girl as a tech analyst Heather Lee, a more ambivalent version of the role played by Joan Allen in the previous films. Black Swan’s Vincent Cassel also joins the film as the ruthless assassin and the shady CIA director Robert Dewey is this time played by Oscar winner Tommy Lee Jones (The Fugitive).

Riz Ahmed (The Reluctant Fundamentalist) plays a Tech billionaire, Aaron Kalloor and head of Deep Dream who has some equally underhand dealings with the CIA. Julia Stiles reprises her role as Nicky Parsons which adds to the continuity of this Bourne film.

As the action moves from Iceland to Athens to Berlin and then onto a Tech convention in Las Vegas, Jason Bourne as an action thriller delivers on all fronts, crisp production design by Paul Kirby, brilliant car chases both in Athens and Vegas and excellent sound editing, especially notable in the riot sequence outside the parliament building in Athens.

Vikander is superb as an ambitious CIA operative who is ruthless at playing both sides whilst acknowledging the intrinsic value of Jason Bourne re-joining the programme as a highly skilled and effective assassin.

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Matt Damon is all buffed up in this version, especially in the opening fight sequence in rural Greece, a far cry from the bewildered spy who wakes up on a fishing trawler off the coast of Marseilles in the original film, The Bourne Identity. Damon inhabits Jason Bourne, he personifies the role, reclaiming the identity of this protagonist synonymous with a gritty street spy who is able to navigate his way around the world without barriers.

The plot in this film centres on a hack of the CIA database and the real implications of the Treadstone program which delves into Bourne’s complicated past.

Jason Bourne is a brilliant thriller, especially the unbelievable car chase sequence down Las Vegas Boulevard landing up in the Riviera hotel. This is a top notch thriller, highly recommended and surely a definitive sign that there will be more Bourne films to come.

The Thieves of Cincinnati

Marauders

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Director: Steven C. Miller

Cast: Christopher Meloni, Bruce Willis, Dave Bautista, Adrian Grenier, Lydia Hull, Tyler Jon Olson, Christopher Rob Bowen, Ryan O’Nan, Jonathon Schaech, David Gordon

Producers Randall Emmett and George Furla are known for making a whole stack of action films normally set in random US cities most notably 16 Blocks and Broken City. Their latest venture is Marauders directed by Steven C. Miller focusing on a series of well-orchestrated and brutal bank robberies plaguing Cincinnati, Ohio.

Marauders cast includes Christopher Meloni as a FBI agent Montgomery, Dave Bautista (Spectre, Guardians of the Galaxy) as Stockwell and hot shot investigator Wells played by Adrian Grenier (Entourage). There are also appearances by Ryan O’Nan (Eat, Pray, Love) and uncredited role by Jonathon Schaech (Legend of Hercules) as Mimms, a Cincinnati cop who by his interference in the case becomes implicated in it.

A grizzled looking Bruce Willis (Pulp Fiction, Die Hard) plays the CEO of a large Midwestern bank Hubert, whose main monologue at the beginning of the film focuses on a spider climbing a rain drenched skyscraper to get to the top.

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Marauders is not a great film, purely because the plot is so convoluted and confusing that at times one doesn’t know who the real enemies are. The murky nature of the intrigue is perhaps the most thrilling part of the film, although what is fascinating about Marauders is its study of declining masculinity.

All four major characters are suffering, particularly Montgomery for brooding over the brutal death of his wife leaving him alone to contemplate glasses of unfinished red wine in the city’s bars or Mimms, who is dealing with his dying wife suffering from pancreatic cancer. All the men are devoid of a feminine influence in their lives to tame their violent tendencies which is instinctive and primal.

Ultimately, that’s where Marauders viewership lies: adult males who love watching violence on screen.

The plot centres on a corrupt Bank CEO, a shady Ohio senator played by David Gordon, and a botched kidnapping in Costa Rica which went south when Hubert’s much younger brother is supposedly killed by a group of rogue State rangers, just before he is supposed to inherit a substantial share of Hubert National Bank.

Despite the murkiness of the plot, the action is good and the acting is saved by a cocky performance by Christopher Meloni who outshines Bruce Willis. Meloni who was so good in White Bird in a Blizzard actually holds the film together while Adrian Grenier does not have much to work with, only really embracing his character towards the end as the film’s denouement is revealed.

Marauders like many of Emmett/Furla films are not superb, but watchable and cater for a specific sub-genre of action films, which appeal to the thirty to forty plus age group of male cinema-goers.

The female characters in Marauders are virtually non-existent, making this a real macho action film about thieves in Cincinnati whose real intention is to seek revenge on the man who set them up five years ago in Central America.

Recommended viewing for those that enjoyed End of Watch, Lone Survivor and 2 Guns.

Heir Apparent

Me Before You

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Director: Thea Sharrock

Cast: Sam Claflin, Emilia Clarke, Janet McTeer, Charles Dance, Stephen Peacocke, Brendan Coyle, Jenna Coleman, Joanna Lumley, Vanessa Kirby, Matthew Lewis, Ben Lloyd-Hughes

Jojo Moyes’s heart-breaking romantic novel Me Before You was a hit among ladies book clubs around the English speaking world and possibly beyond. So it was inevitable that a big screen version of the celebrated novel should appear. Stage director turned film director Thea Sharrock does a reasonably good job of directing the film version with help from the author who also wrote the screenplay.

It also helps that the two main leads, Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin are so likable in this film, otherwise Me Before You would never have worked. Ironically both actors are known for appearing in big franchise movies and TV shows. Claflin for his role in the Hunger Games trilogy and more surprisingly Emilia Clarke for her portrayal of Queen of Dragons in the hit HBO series Game of Thrones.

Joining the cast is another Game of Thrones star, British character actor Charles Dance (White Mischief) who plays Will Traynor’s father Stephen and Oscar nominee Janet McTeer (Albert Nobbs) as his mother Camilla.

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Me Before You centres on the tragic but fascinating tale of a wealthy corporate raider Will Traynor who is completely paralysed in a freak motorbike accident in central London. The once athletic and daredevil Traynor in the prime of his life has his mobility completed shattered and lands up becoming a quadriplegic. A devastating blow for his upper class affluent parents who see him as eventually inheriting the family estate which includes a castle.

On the other end of the economic scale, is the quirky and fun Louisa Clark who we first glimpse working as a waitress in a tea shop in a small town in England. Clark as she becomes known in the film, is superbly portrayed by Emilia Clarke, a positive and big hearted girl who soon becomes the carer of the selfish and arrogant Will Traynor who is sullen and angry at life’s cruellest blow.

What transpires in Me Before You is a remarkable love story without the desire of two young people who are both caught at pivotal points in their lives. The emotional arc of the film rests on how both Will and Clarke grow through their shared time together despite the dreaded intention of Will to consider euthanasia in a remote Swiss clinic.

Me Before You is a tearjerker of note, a heartfelt romantic drama which will certainly not leave a dry eye in the house. The film is ably assisted by some nuanced turns by a range of supporting actors including Downton Abbey’s Brendan Coyle as Louisa’s father Brendan Clark and the handsome physiotherapist Nathan played by Stephen Peacocke (Whiskey Tango Foxtrot).

Naturally as Will’s parents Camilla and Stephen, Janet McTeer and Charles Dance do a superb job of both conveying emotional support and regret at the terrible fate which has happened to their only son, the heir apparent to the Traynor fortune.

However, Me Before You really belongs to Emilia Clarke who lights up every scene with her delightful sensitivity as she portrays Louisa Clark to perfection, the carer that ultimately falls in love with her patient.

This beautifully shot romance is highly recommended viewing, a lighter more British version of Julian Schnabel’s superb film The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. Audiences should look out for a brief but amusing cameo by Joanna Lumley as she channels Patsy from Ab Fab in a touching wedding scene.

 

Their Enemy is Our Friend

Independence Day: Resurgence

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Director: Roland Emmerich

Cast: Liam Hemsworth, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Travis Tope, Sela Ward, Judd Hirsch, William Fichtner, Maika Monroe, Brett Spiner, Jessie T. Usher, Vivica A. Fox, Nicholas Wright

After twenty years and the success of Roland Emmerich’s Independence Day, the bad news is that the aliens have returned! This time they are bigger, nastier and have more sinister intentions.

Emmerich’s new long anticipated sequel, Independence Day: Resurgence crosses the generational divide and introduces a whole new cast of actors and has the added bonus that twenty years later the technology both onscreen and in real life has vastly improved.

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Independence Day: Resurgence is a big budget sci-fi thriller guaranteed to fill the cinemas and makes its money on its legacy of the success of the original. Featuring an all-star cast including Liam Hemsworth, Jeff Goldblum, Judd Hirsch and Bill Paxton along with new comers Charlotte Gainsbourg last seen in Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac, Maika Monroe, Sela Ward and Travis Tope. Prison Break’s William Fichtner makes a fitting appearance as an American general who by chain of events becomes the US President.

The visual effects are superb and the dialogue is corny, but who cares the aliens look scary and half of the earth’s population gets obliterated including major cities like London and Singapore. As an American propaganda film, Independence Day: Resurgence does a brilliant job of reminding the world that whatever the threat, in this case hideous aliens, the Americans can save the world!

Don’t expect too much depth in this film, but nevertheless Independence Day: Resurgence is entertaining viewing, visually grand and has awesome special effects.

Independence Day: Resurgence for all its American bravado is enjoyable and worth seeing for some amazing Alien versus Man sequences both on earth and in outer space.

Recommended viewing for die hard lovers of apocalyptic Sci-Fi films which in this case doesn’t appear to be all that threatening or even hold a specific allegoric message.

 

 

 

The Exotic and the Brave

The Legend of Tarzan

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Director: David Yates

Cast: Alexander Skarsgard, Margot Robbie, Christoph Waltz, Samuel L. Jackson, Djimon Hounsou, Ben Chaplin, Jim Broadbent, Osy Ikhile, Antony Acheampong

British director David Yates who was responsible for Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows returns to the director’s chair headlining a re-imagining of the mythical Tarzan, in the new visually astounding film, The Legend of Tarzan, featuring Swedish hunk Alexander Skarsgard in the titular role.

Tarzan, also known as Lord Greystoke, John Clayton is accompanied by his beautiful and vivacious wife Jane, wonderfully played by Margot Robbie (The Wolf of Wall Street, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot) and an American emissary George Washington Williams played against type by Oscar nominee Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction, Kingsman: Secret Service). The villain in Legend of Tarzan is played by none other than Austrian Oscar winner Christoph Waltz (Spectre, Django Unchained) who portrays the evil and repugnant Leon Rom. The year is 1884 and the colonization of Africa by European powers is gaining rapid and unparalleled momentum.

Set in the beautiful and vast Belgian Congo, when King Leopold was rapaciously raping the Congo of its mineral wealth, particularly diamonds using slave labour and devious means including turning warring local tribes against each other. One such tribe headed by Chief Mbonga muscularly played by Djimon Hounsou (Blood Diamond) wants Tarzan’s head on a plate and makes an unlikely pact with the unscrupulous Rom, who will stop at nothing to complete his reigning monarch’s ambitious colonial plans.

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John and Jane Clayton are persuaded to leave the comforts of late Victorian England behind and head for the exotic and wild plains of the Belgian Congo, where they soon confront the evil Leon Rom and his multitude of force publique officers who are out to enslave and enforce the will of the Belgian monarch upon the unsuspecting locals.

What really makes The Legend of Tarzan worth seeing is the brilliant incorporation of superb visual effects using performance capture technology for a vivid portrayal of the wildlife featured in the film, mainly the gorillas, lions and hordes of wildebeest. The brilliantly featured gorillas are a highlight. These creatures of the wild, raised baby Tarzan as one of their own, teaching him the laws of the jungle and how important it is to respect the hierarchy of the Animal Kingdom.

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Whilst Skarsgard’s performance of the iconic Tarzan is not perfect, he certainly has the muscular and gorgeous body to pull off this particularly physical role. After all the success of casting a male actor as Tarzan depends entirely on his physique. The well chiselled Skarsgard is naturally born for this role.

Margot Robbie breathes new life into Jane, as a feisty independent American woman who has attitude and her best scenes ironically shine through when played opposite the scheming villain Rom. In terms of dialogue, the best scene is between Robbie and Waltz as they dine precariously together on a steamer travelling down the Congo River, in a visual reference to The Heart of Darkness.

The Legend of Tarzan is better than anticipated, with magnificent visual effects elevating the film out of cinematic parody. It’s a well plotted, action filled and entertaining film, a worthwhile trip to the cinema where audiences can delve into a real adventure story which features the exotic and the brave.

In this version, the shirtless Tarzan swinging in the proverbial jungle should keep many swooning for years to come.

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