Posts Tagged ‘Martin Munro’

Laws of the Jungle

Beast

Director: Baltasar Kormakur

Cast: Idris Elba, Sharlto Copley, Leah Jeffries, Iyana Halley, Martin Munro

Film Rating: 6.5 out of 10

Running Time: 1 hour 33 minutes

Icelandic director Baltasar Kormakur brings Beast to the big screen starring Idris Elba (Molly’s Game, The Mountain Between Us) as an American doctor Dr Nate Samuels who takes his daughters to their late mother’s homeland in South Africa and fits in a safari adventure that turns into a nightmare.

Beast is shot entirely in South Africa near the borders of Zimbabwe and Namibia, Beast tracks the survival story of Dr Samuels and his two daughters as they team up with a South African game ranger and anti-poacher played thankfully by South African actor Sharlto Copley who made his breakthrough in Neil Blomkamp’s sci fi Johannesburg epic District 9 and went on to star in such Hollywood films as Gringo and Maleficent.

When a gang of vicious poachers kill a pride of lions but leave the male lion free, the ferocious male lion takes revenge on everyone in his territory including a Venda village and some of the poachers. When Dr Samuels and his South African friend Martin unknowingly step into the rogue lion territory all hell breaks loose and he has to fight this monstrous beast in the rough terrain of the South African veld while protecting his two daughters Norah and Meredith Samuels played respectively by Leah Jeffries and Iyana Halley.

As the rogue lion persistently threatens Dr Samuels and family, poachers are killed as well as innocent villagers however Beast does feel one dimensional with no counterpoint to the bush fight to balance the film out.

Using some ethnic dream sequences, Dr Samuels reminisces about his late South African born wife, however these vivid flashbacks are not sufficient to create a credible backstory for his character.

As a story about anti-poaching and conservation, Beast works efficiently, like nature fighting back at the evils of mankind although ultimately the rogue lion steps into another pride’s territory and soon has to deal with the laws of the jungle. Unfortunately the script writer could have fleshed out the story’s premise more accurately to allow some credible background to the central character. Fortunately Idris Elba is a good enough actor to make the audiences believe in his instinctive fight for survival, which is both exciting and scary.

It is comforting to watch a film being made in South Africa which focuses on the issues of wildlife poaching and the importance of conservation while making Beast a thrilling, edge of your seat ride about man versus beast, with the former trying to outwit the latter in some horrific scenes ending in a savage showdown.

Beast is an enjoyable survival film with a distinctly African feel and gets a film rating of 6.5 out of 10. It’s a refreshing take on the man versus nature scenario in line with films like Jaws and to a lesser extent Anaconda.

Even Birds are Chained to the Sky

Moffie

Director: Oliver Hermanus

Cast: Kai Luke Brummer, Ryan de Villiers, Hilton Pelser, Matthew Vey, Stefan Vermaak, Wynand Ferreira

Please note this film is mostly in Afrikaans with English Subtitles

After premiering at the prestigious 2019 Venice International Film Festival and then going on to be shown at the London Film Festival among many other international film festivals including Marrakesh, Rotterdam and Palm Springs, South African director of Skoonheid, Oliver Hermanus successfully deconstructs patriarchy in his powerful and controversial new film Moffie set in Apartheid South Africa during compulsory military conscription in 1981 when the government at the time was fighting the communist regime in Angola known as the border war. Moffie opens in South African cinemas on Friday 13th March 2020.

Heavily influenced by queer film director Tom Ford, Moffie is a superb film expertly exploring the concepts of male sexuality in a war zone.

Director Oliver Hermanus threads a delicate tale of unrequited love between two military scabs or new army recruits Dylan Stassen played by Ryan de Villiers and the central character Nicholas Van der Swart beautifully played by the gorgeous Kai Luke Brummer.

During a strenuous basic training sequence whereby the new army recruits are left in some deserted part of Southern Africa and have to survive in a trench together over night, de Villiers and Van der Swart find an awkward solace by recognizing each other’s mutual desire.

What makes Moffie so emotionally powerful is that unlike in Skoonheid, Hermanus does not resort to the explicit but more towards what could have been as de Villiers and Van der Swart have to each endure their own personal journey in an extremely toxic masculine environment fraught with fear, aggression and a double-edged comradery between the young army recruits.

Viewers must watch this film as a historical piece about a particularly unpleasant part of South African history pre-1994, where conservatism ruled over individualism and the military machine demonised homosexuality.

Moffie is a brutal and honest look at sexuality and war, a beautiful tale with some vivid scenes punctuated by some harsh dialogue and deeply disturbing images. Ultimately, director Oliver Hermanus has created his masterpiece, a concerted cinematic effort about the nature of being queer while exploring an unforgiving environment which does not allow for personal expression or sexual freedom.

As Stassen and Van der Swart navigate this treacherous world in which the film is set in, Stassen makes a point of inscribing their predicament: Even Birds are Chained to the Sky.

Moffie gets a film rating of 8.5 out of 10 and is definitely worth seeing. This remarkable piece of cinema will become a relevant discussion point in contemporary South Africa and in the wider world where queer rights are enshrined in more liberal constitutions.

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