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Free State is the result of a cross-border, co-production effort among South African production company Bosbok Ses Films, Utkarsh Entertainment, and Indian-based entertainment company ParNam Entertainment. The film, written and directed by acclaimed South African director Sallas de Jager, tells the story of the forbidden love between an Indian man and a white Afrikaans woman in the Free State during apartheid in 1979. Piet de Jager, one of the film’s producers, spoke to Perdeby to shed some light on the film.
The film portrays the love of two people of different races in a period of South Africa’s history where it was against the law. When asked if this was a difficult topic to make a film about, De Jager said, “I don’t think so. In fact, it’s reality. This movie tells a human story.” Although the film is set during the apartheid period, English is mostly used throughout the movie, and subtitles are used whenever any other language is used. This was done because “in a multicultural society, we follow reality.”
Quentin Tarantino’s previous film, Django Unchained, starred Jamie Foxx as the freed slave Django and the pre-Civil War Deep South as the chains. His new film, The Hateful Eight – announced in the opening credits as his eighth – takes place in the post-war West, but otherwise is a neat reprise of the previous film. There is a white bounty hunter, his black associate (a memorable performance by Samuel L. Jackson) and the same looseness of history coursing through a profusely wordy script. Characters wind their way through seemingly endless threads of dialogue, only to blow each other apart in a blood-drenched apocalypse. Like the unchaining of Django, it’s the kind of feature one either very much relishes or reviles.
Since the start of his career, Tarantino has invited us to watch his films not as visions of reality, but as illustrations of ideas that merge into a world view. In The Hateful Eight, he has gathered together all the elements of a classic murder mystery and, as usual, he strings them out and gleefully stirs them together in a slow-cooking stew. But, rather than deal it out as it comes to the boil, he blows it up and delights in the spray of blood and organs over his guests.
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.
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.
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.