Movies

Movie review: While You Weren’t Looking - Catherine Stewart

JARED BEUKES

The thesis of Catherine Stewart’s new film While You Weren’t Looking, which opened on 2 October, is made explicit by the lovelorn, gay lecturer Mack (Lionel Stewart) who tells his students, “If you can ‘queer’ gender, you can ‘queer’ anything.” He means that the broad-mindedness of the openly homosexual, bisexual, and sexually explorative characters in the film – as well as those who accept them – is precisely what is required for South African society to become the non-racist, non-sexist, progressive state to which it aspires to be.

As noble as the film’s position may be, it fails to match this vision with artistry. With its clumsy dialogue and artificial performances, the film doesn’t take a sympathetic look at the lives of queer South Africans as much as it retreads worn-out stereotypes – the gay art lovers, the gaudy feather boas – and tries (and fails) to kindle discussion on the problems they face. We have an inclusive constitution, as the characters assert, but in spite of this – or perhaps because of it – problems still arise.

These problems include those encountered by Joe (Fezile Mpela), a former freedom fighter who happens to be the long-lost love of Mack. Joe, now married to a woman, has managed to bury his homosexual desires, but is still secretly offended when his boss wishes that we may exclude “the moffies” from civilised society.

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Reboot vs original film: is Hollywood starved for ideas?

KOJO ESSAH

It is no secret that popular movies get sequels as a way of extending that particular series. This is done to please fans, as well as to gain revenue. Reboots are the re-imagining of once-popular franchises for a current generation, and are also a profitable and popular category for films. Fans and screenwriters, however, are starting to notice that Hollywood is churning out reboots and sequels on a regular basis, but hardly any new ideas are surfacing.

Read more: Reboot vs original film: is Hollywood starved for ideas?

Movie review: Ant-man, Peyton Reed

Movie review: Ant-man - Peyton Reed

SHAUN SPROULE

The latest cinematic instalment from Marvel Studios has been released, with one of the lesser-known Marvel superheroes, Ant-Man, as its main character. The movie follows former burglar Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) as he is recruited by mastermind and former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Hank Pym (Michael Douglas). The technology behind his suit’s ability to shrink in size is under threat of falling into the wrong hands, and Pym, the inventor of the technology, needs to ensure it stays safe. Pym needs to recruit a new protégé before his former apprentice invents and sells the technology to Hydra, a terrorist organisation. Before this happens, Lang must prove himself as an able superhero in order to save the day.

Some were reluctant to accept the casting decision when it was announced that Paul Rudd would be cast as Ant-Man. Rudd has starred in films such as This is 40 and Role Models, and his is not the first name that comes to mind when thinking about a superhero. Rudd pulled the role off convincingly, however, with his comedic skill adding to the film as a whole.

Read more: Movie review: Ant-man, Peyton Reed

Movie review: Paper Towns, Jake Schreier

KOJO ESSAH

Paper Towns is a romantic-drama directed by Jake Schreier. The film is based on the novel of the same name by John Green, author of The Fault in Our Stars. It follows the story of Quentin Jacobsen, who, together with his friends, goes on a journey to find his love Margo Roth Spiegelman, who disappeared after her and Quentin exact revenge on Margo’s friends for wronging her. Throughout this journey, Quentin bonds with his friends as this is the last time they would do anything together before heading to different universities. Although the movie delivers meaningful messages and has relatable situations, it is not as thought-provoking as it believes itself to be.


The majority of the film takes place in a high school setting, utilizing certain high school tropes that are familiar to movie-goers. This setting makes the film relatable to some extent, but it does not do anything new to distance itself from other high school-related movies. The script incorporates elements of comedy into the movie, making these comedic scenes some of the most memorable in the film. The main point of the movie is the mystery surrounding Margo’s disappearance, but this aspect is not handled well and ends up being very underwhelming. The movie’s target audience is teenagers and young adults, and as a result of this, several events and dialogue in the film are fairly easy to predict.
The two main characters in this film, Quentin and Margo, are played by Nat Wolff and Cara Delevingne respectively. Wolff plays his role convincingly, but Delevingne can at times be indifferent in her acting. Quentin’s two best friends, Radar and Ben, are played by Justice Smith and Austin Abrams respectively. Their performances, notably Abrams’ performance, are incredibly believable and are a welcome aspect of the film.

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Mad Max: Fury Road George Miller

KOJO ESSAH

Mad Max: Fury Road is the fourth film in, and a reboot of, the Mad Max movie series directed by George Miller. The film takes place in a post-apocalyptic world dominated by vast deserts, where water is a scarce and extremely valuable resource. Max Rockatansky, a survivor, is caught up in a conflict between Immortan Joe, the ruthless leader of a gang called the War Boys, and Imperator Furiosa, a tough woman seeking redemption for her actions. Miller has created an intriguing film that is visually stunning, full of action and well-acted characters.

The film uses its expansive setting and lore to create a simple and easy-to-follow plot that sees the unlikeliest of characters working together to achieve their own goals. The script might be  seen by some as bare and minimalistic, but the main focal point of this movie is its action, which it has in spades. The entire film is a nearly two-hour action sequence, with spectacular action set pieces involving vehicular and hand-to-hand combat, with the focus being the vehicles the inhabitants of this wasteland have managed to create with what resources they could find.

Another main aspect of the film is its characters. The world of Fury Road is filled with characters ranging from normal to downright bizarre, and it is the phenomenal acting that brings these characters to life. Tom Hardy as Max Rockatansky and Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa bring a sense of desperation and ferocity to the film by doing whatever they deem necessary to survive. Other characters, notably Nicholas Hoult as Nux, add a little humanity to the story to balance out the cast. One drawback is that there is no character development, which leads to some one-dimensional characters. However, this is overshadowed by the brilliant performances of the main and supporting cast, as well as the fairly large roster of characters. Fury Road’s soundtrack, created by Junkie XL, is a wonderful score that brings every facet of the movie to life, from the action sequences to the more emotional scenes.

Read more: Mad Max: Fury Road George Miller

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