Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Category: movies (Page 2 of 4)

Broken Embraces

I love Almodovar movies. I also think that Penelope Cruz is my favourite actress. Last night we went to see their latest movie Broken Embraces. It is very typical Almodovar; a complicated story about human relationships, altered by tragedy, brought to light by nostalgia, and filled with emotion. It is almost soapie, but it is redeemed from being that by the exquisite cinematography, amazing performances and totally hilarious moments.

While this film certainly doesn’t attain the high drama of Volver, which I adored, or Talk To Her, which was extraordinary, it still has that strange, seedy, sexy, real, heartbreaking feeling. Tiny moments are remembered. Strange dialogue accompanies very down to earth scenes. Emotion is released. Strange relationships are uncovered, discovered, and forged. And, I must confess, that after watching these movies all I want is to be in one of them, or write one just like it.


My dearest friend has been on and on about a movie that changed his life. About four weeks ago he gave me the DVD. Somehow it sat on my dining room table until this morning and, having just sent in a huge chunk of work I needed to do, I knew that it was a good time to watch it. Gypsy Caravan: When the Road Bends, is a documentary that has managed to move me in a way that has delighted me, made me so unbelievably sad, and mostly, given me total clarity about my roots.

Five gypsy bands from four different countries go on a six week tour of America, playing to sold out shows the whole way. The movie charts their travels, concerts, informal music collaborations, and also shows the band members at home, in Rajasthan India, Macedonia, Romania and Spain. It is also an informal, patchy history of the Romani, where they originated, how they travelled, and their history of persecution.

I have never understood how I love traditional Indian music, Eastern European brass band music, Middle Eastern music, Bulgarian choir music, Gypsy punk, Kletzmer and Flamenco. Well, this movie manages to not only show the connection, which is Roma, but also how the music transcends culture and language and is the height of connection.

The movie, directed by Jasmine Dellal, is absolutely beautiful. I started crying right at the very beginning, when Macedonian diva Esma came through the huge audience, singing her first notes. I cried, and laughed, and clapped along, all the way to the end, salivating with every cigarette lit (yow can they all smoke!). Every time a group or dancer took the stage I was, they’re my favourite! It really is mind blowing.

I am smiling and dancing as I write this. Big Friendly, recognizing my delight, rushed off to find me music, links, downloads and everything gypsy and music, from Hungarian country, to my favourite Gogol Bordello, to Esma herself and Turkish gypsy, and Ukranian traditional folk. I am in heaven.

Avatar hooha

On the morning of Christmas eve, a day after I got back from Europe, I dragged Big Friendly to Canal Walk (he calls it Anal Crawl) to catch the 9am showing of Avatar. I always try to go to early morning time slots; they seem to be the least popular.

I must confess that I knew almost nothing about the movie, other than it was sci-fi and 3d. I had never seen a 3d before and this seemed like a good choice. Am I delighted that I saw it before the hooha hit the interweb!

Now it is only fair to say that I hated James Cameron‘s blockbuster Titanic, and I didn’t even know he was the creator of Avatar. Not that it would have mattered. I loved the movie. I loved the 3d, I loved the aliens, I loved their planet, I loved their magic, mystical hair, I loved the plants and creatures, I loved the music, I loved Sigourney Weaver. I loved Sam Worthington and his avatar. I loved the styling and the seamless way real photography mixed with animation. I fell in love with the sexy, long, skinny blue people. I was transported to another, simpler world, and however unrealistic or schlock the storyline was, I wanted the bad guys to lose and the good guys to win. I walked out uplifted and delighted and in awe of the director’s vision and accomplishment.

So, when Big Friendly started telling me about the hooha, from left and right, Christians and Americans, movie snobs and historians, I started to get wtf-ish. I’m always up for a good debate, and while I love trying to force my opinion onto others, I don’t really do it anymore. But hold on a minute! The right are calling the movie anti-American. The left are calling it unrealistic. The other night my friend told me that Christians walked out of the movie house when the aliens were praying to the tree. They are aliens! On another planet! That’s the story! Big friendly told me he had read opinions that the movie was racist; the blue people needed a white man to save them. Have you ever in your entire life? The movie snobs are calling it trite and simplistic and mainstream. James Cameron was accused of plagiarising the story of Pocahontas.  I kid you not.

The final straw was the info Big Friendly sent me today, that people are depressed after the movie because the realise that they will never be able to go to that beautiful planet. Now there is an increase of people wanting to kill themselves. You know what? Might not be a bad idea.

District 9 – Bravo Blomkamp!

Well, Big Friendly and I loved it. We finally got to see it this evening and I was very proud of this latest SA product.

District 9, directed by Neill Blomkap, is a relatively straight alien vs human sci-fi, only it is set in Jozi, so all the comparisons with apartheid are incredibly resonant, without being shoved down your throat. The recent xenophobia in SA is also felt strongly through the film, in the same way that there is always interspecies intolerance and lack of understanding.

Here, Jozi is the main attraction with the downtown shots and the depressing squatter camp all feeling very real. The performances are fab, especially Sharlto Copley as Wikus Van Der Merwe. (Of course I was delighted to see friends like Jonathan Taylor and Rob Hobbs in it too). The movie is brilliantly styled; the baddie Nigerian gang are especially outrageous, and the alien technology is great. 

The very funny first third (laugh out loud often), which is very mockumentary in style,gives way to a more serious sci-fi dilemma as we follow Wikus’s journey to self-awareness, and his shift in allegiance.  I love that the movie helps us connect with the prawns the way Wikkus does. It ends up being rather powerful stuff. And the Wikus/prawn flower was almost Wall-e-esque, it was so touching. It’s also very skop, skiet en donner.

Great story, great performances, great shots of Jozi, gritty local gangsters, hard core urban violence – both human to alien and human to human make me understand why it shot to the top of the charts in the US. It is cheeky, original, independent, and totally world class.

And, to borrow a certain prawn restaurant in Jozi’s nickname, well done Blomkop!

PS. And I have to say to all detractors; I think you’re being a leetle over sensitive.

District 9 like an alien my broe

So Big Friendly and I have been very excited by the sounds and noises that local movie District 9 has been making. It’s right up my alley. I love SF. I love send up. I love the idea that apartheid and xenophobia are looked at in an original way. I love that it’s local and that it has shot up the charts in such a huge way. It is a success story; just like our own Charlize. I especially love that it seems to have mainstream appeal overseas just like any other weird, SF, action movie would. It opens here on 28 August and I’m going to rush off to see it.

What has been really interesting (and telling) for me is that I have read two blog/reviews by two South Africans, both in America, who hated the fliek. One even walked out before the end. They both raised the same points and were equally disgusted by the movie and how it made them feel. They felt that the bad guy was a total Afrikaans stereotype. They felt that South Africans were portrayed as idiots. They felt that Americans would get the completely wrong impression of what South Africa and its people are like. They were embarrassed. They felt that the script was trite and weak.

Last night we got into a bit of a discussion before TheatreSports about art movies and mainstream movies and money and South African films. Everyone agreed that our serious movies often have a very limited, art house appeal. But we were all nervous about being misunderstood by a runaway success story, block buster, SF, action fliek.

I don’t know. I’ll reserve my judgement until I see it. In the meantime, I’m so excited that it’s raking in the dollars. Even if it had big, overseas money behind it. Bravo Neill Blomkamp.

An Encounter with Music

After a couple of months of just theatre; making, producing, watching, performing and commenting, I did what other people do on a beautiful, sunny Cape Town Saturday afternoon. I went to a shopping centre! I had a good excuse. I went to see one of the documentaries at the Encounters doccie festival, called Music from the Inside Out.

I could not believe how many people there were at the V&A Waterfront. Hellzbells. They weren’t all coming to see the doccie though. It was a delightful little movie, a personal look at some of the members of the Philadelphia Symphony orchestra and their thoughts and feelings about music and what it’s like to play in a huge team. It was delicious to hear the music and get to know the personalities. I couldn’t believe how many Israelis there are in the orchestra. Overall a really sweet movie.

Afterwards we went for a drink. My sister-in-law is down in SlaapStad, rehearsing Show Boat, and she wanted to sit somewhere pretty, so we went to this tappas place that has these great windows looking over the sea, Granger Bay and the new Green Point Stadium. We had glasses of wine that cost more than I normally spend per bottle. Oh Waterfront, oh snobby V&A.

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