Tuesday, October 27, 2009

"NEW MOON" pre-bookings overtake "MICHAEL JACKSON'S THIS IS IT"

Johannesburg, October 27th, 2009:- Nu Metro Cinemas, South Africa’s premium cinema exhibitor, has announced today that its pre-bookings for The Twilight Saga: New Moon have officially overtaken Michael Jackson’s This is It, with just over a month before the former releases on cinema screens in South Africa.

According to Mark Harris, Content and Marketing Head for Nu Metro Cinemas, “More than 8 000 people have already booked for the second instalment of The Twilight Saga, which stars Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner. What is even more impressive is that more than 60% of the bookings have been for exclusive midnight screenings that Nu Metro Cinemas is hosting on the evening of the 20th November nationwide.”

“In addition to the midnight screenings, The Twilight Saga: New Moon will also screen from Sunday 22nd November until Thursday 26th November at select Nu Metro Cinemas at 5:30pm daily. The film then releases nationally on Friday 27th November,” adds Harris.

For the die hard ‘Twi-Fans,’ there is also the re-release of the first instalment from Friday 13th November until Thursday 19th November at select Nu Metro Cinemas. Customers who attend these screenings of Twilight will be given a collectible poster from a unique four-character poster set of The Twilight Saga: New Moon.

To get full details on all the Twilight special offers and to book, visit www.numetro.co.za / mobi.numetro.co.za or call 0861-CINEMA (0861-246362)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Movie Review: Pandorum

It's a B-grade, make that a C-grade ALIEN, without the alien

Two astronauts awaken from hyper-sleep, unable to remember anything. They're disoriented in the dark. Payton [Dennis Quaid] stays behind in a functional hyper-sleep chamber. It's functional in the sense that it's outfitted with a console that can pretty much access most of the ship. Meanwhile Bower, an in-form Ben Foster [3:10 to Yuma, Alpha Dog] ventures into the bowels of the ship on a mission to restore power to the ship and to make sense of everything else.

The name of this flick elicits 'paranoia' and 'pandemonium', and possibly 'Pandora's Box'. It's supposed to be a horror movie, set in space. Certainly some of the themes are horrific. Earth has been destroyed, and one space ship, the Elysium, is floating towards the edge of space, to a planet called Tanis, carrying a massive inventory of life. It's a one way trip.

In theory, survival is crucial so that our species can continue to exist. Problem is, you don't know which main character to back initially, and if you did, you wouldn't be sure why.

Although Pandorum is too confusing to have the suspense of ALIEN it does irk and scare occasionally with jabs of light and loud-noise in the dark. It's disturbing because you can't figure out the puzzle of what's going on for vast fragments of this flick. So what does it deliver?

Early on Bower discovers their spaceship is overrun by, well, orcs. And I guess that is the essence of the film. It's a mixture of 'Event Horizon' and 'Resident Evil', and will probably make a great game platform. If you don't like that, you won't like this flick.

Personally, I love sci-fi, but orcs are a stretch. Give me aliens or a virus, or intergalactic war, but there is something patently inauthentic about humanoid zombie-like creatures. Perhaps we're just too familiar with the sallow-skinned, black blooded, incomprehensible savage. It's that, but the people who come out of the woodwork, one by one, are also savage and almost as unrelatable as the apparently mindless cretins. And are we to believe humans evolved in stasis into creatures unable to talk?

The half-baked screenplay by Travis Milloy is partly to blame. The filmmaker - Christian Alvart - is an amateur when it comes to fight sequences. They are so badly done that I ended up asking myself, mid-movie: "Why is it that movies tend to resolve philosophical questions [who are they? what are they doing here? what is their mission?] with blood, sweat and spears. Why is the amount of reasoning, the strategic, logical approach, such a distant second to the near constant physical brutality?" If you're asking questions like that, you know the movie doesn't hit the spot.

From the New York Times:
Without schematics to show the ship’s layout, neither we nor the characters have any idea where they are in relation to one another. (When the beastie in “Alien” was headed toward you, you knew it.) So when Bower tumbles into a vast slurry of rotting body parts — perhaps a mass grave, perhaps the mutants’ stock pot — its location is as much a mystery as its ingredients.

There are a few positives to report to the bridge. Germany's Lara Croft, Antje Traue as Nadia, is worth a second look.

Richard Bridgland’s set designs are powerfully evocative. The spaceship, from the outside, is something we haven't seen before. The innards, built in Berlin, are Nostromo-ish, but at turns it feels like someone's basement, alternating with a credibly advanced 2174 A.D. console. There's beautiful use - on this apparently high-tech vessel - of wind-up alternatives to powering up everything from weapons, to reactors, to computer consoles. The moments that are authentic are powerful, and well rendered, but too few.

The focus on 'Pandorum'[a sickness associated with being in space too long] is the weakness of the flick. Think about it. Which movie have you seen that renders insanity effectively? Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind? A Beautiful Mind? The problem is you have to be very smart, you have to be a gifted story-teller to show the descent into madness, and you have to care about the characters when you see this happening. In 'Pandorum' there is a twist, but it doesn't really reinforce, instead it adds to a sense of opaque overload.

This is a pity, because on paper this flick has a lot going for it. The concept of human beings losing their home planet [or even just their homes], and the importance for survival, are fairly prominent, if subliminal themes in contemporary society. The idea of people forming bands to ward off other violent mobs [us versus them] is also closer to home than we might fully realise. While insanity may be tough to render, being confused about reality is troubling enough, and Alvart could have satisfied himself with pursuing just that, rather than adding 'crazy' to his on-screen palette.

'Pandorum' can't decide whether to be modern or industrial, heroic or horrible, dystopian or enlightening, sane or mad. And what about scary?

It's about as scary as looking at your monthly phone bill. 'Pandorum' says a lot about our current troubled confusion towards the world, the claustrophobia and unreality of reality, where the walls move in and the substrate on which we live is decaying life. These are important issues, but unfortunately 'Pandorum' isn't easy to watch. It's a B-grade, make that a C-grade ALIEN, without the alien. It's just too much muddling about in the dark.

Score: 7/10

Monday, October 12, 2009

Movie Review: Gamer

Gamer has bullshit smeared across it - by Nick van der Leek

Gamer is a great example of a current BULLSHIT movie. It's not credible, it's not creative, it has no story, it makes no sense, and as such, it's not worth caring about. It does seem to be a flick intended for audiences on LSD. It gets a 4/10.

"It's like someone threw a camera in a toilet and flushed it. It's just a bunch of crazy shit flying around."

The premise is simple. What if the avatars one uses in games could be real people? On the other hand, what if you were the avatar, unable to control your fate. Killing people thanks to the whims of others, or, in a different game platform, having sex with people. There is some Matrix theology here, rage against the machine, revolution against a system of control.

It is probably aimed at 17 year olds, but I doubt whether they are going to care. They've tried to sex it up by throwing in a lot of lurid girl on girl kissing. Naked breasts wobbly unsexily throughout the picture. The flick might be trying to make an intelligent point about the overindulgences of society - from violence, to sex, to everything that entertains us.

The problem is the flick itself is incredibly dumb. Everyone knows in real gaming that the avatar dies hundreds of times. The idea of this avatar beating the odds is very far fetched. It doesn't work.

What the flick does prove is to what extent the future is both not worth caring about, and something we seem unable to even imagine coherently.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Movie Review: The Informant!

The lighter side of greed is still dark, and painfully relevant – by Nick van der Leek

What is the exclamation mark for, you ask? Well, The Informant! isn’t The Interpreter. Instead of Nicole Kidman, Matt Damon is the heavy hitter [and he’s about 15kg heavier than you’ve ever seen him before], and instead of the UN, there’s a company called ADM. It’s funny, but dark, and bleak, and at times, dull.

Look, it’s a comedy, but based on a true story authored by Kurt Eichenwald. Whitacre [Damon] plays the highest-ranking corporate whistleblower in US history. But what’s it about? To quote a line from the flick:

“Everyone in this country is a victim of corporate crime by the time they finish breakfast.”

Initially it looks to be about embezzlement, collusion and corporate espionage. But there’s something kookoo about Whitacre. He talks a lot. And what he says doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Well, it does and it doesn’t. For example:

Polar bears cover their noses before they pounce on a seal. How do polar bears know their noses are black? Did they look in the water one day, see their reflection and say, "Man, I'd be invisible if it wasn't for that thing."’

Damon describes it as ‘a great story and a really incredible character…You start with a certain set of assumptions and then realise you can’t assume anything as the situation becomes utterly ridiculous.’

There is a lot of voiceover in this flick, an idea screenwriter Scott Burns proposed right off the bat to director Soderbergh. The voiceover becomes so mixed-in with what is happening, that sometimes Whitacre provides in-screen voice-over to his wire while he walks through his office, loudly introducing his secretary and other big shots to his chest-level microphone. During a company meeting, a recorder in his briefcase jams, and in virtually full view of everyone, opens the briefcase and attempts to fix it.

And there are plenty more jaw droppers after that.

Soderbergh chose Damon for his ‘inherent believability’, the ‘nice young man’ quality. There is not a trace of Bourne here, just a pompous, over-analytical stuffed suit. When he says, ‘That’s it, I’ve told you everything,’ you believe him.

About Whitacre Damon says: ‘[He] was also bald and wore a hairpiece, but the hairpiece was so good that no one knew he didn’t have hair. It’s actually a great metaphor for the character. It was right there in front of everybody and nobody ever figured it out.’

‘I’ve always thought when this is over there’d still be a place for me at ADM. I’ve still got a lot of friends there.’

My impressions of the flick? A lot if it looked and felt like burnt paper. You know, lots of tobacco yellow tones, burnt hues, Vaseline light. I didn’t like the color; it seemed too old and out of focus. A lot of the action happens in office space; ordinary spaces that most people want to get away from, and forget about when they go to the movies. It’s boring. It’s about the messy business of lies, lies and cover ups. It’s about as inspiring as reading your local newspaper. The dialogue, and Damon-on-too-much-coffee lifts it, but not enough.

On the plus side, it probably sketches the archetype of the type of person that becomes a ponzi schemer, and the schmucks that get caught out. It demonstrates how a big mess becomes a giant, god awful fiasco. Soderbergh might think that is funny. It is darkly funny, but it’s also tragic. A judge in the flick labels Whitacre as ‘garden variety greed’. Damon steals the show [his character steals just about everything else], but it’s still a tragicomedy that’s all too real to really laugh off. And that’s what makes it so disturbing. It’s painfully relevant for right now.

Score: 7/10

Directed by Steven Soderbergh;

Based on the book by Kurt Eichenwald;

Released by Warner Brothers Pictures.

Running time: 1 hour 45 minutes.

Starring: Matt Damon (Mark Whitacre), Scott Bakula (Agent Brian Shepard), Joel McHale (Bob Herndon) and Melanie Lynskey (Ginger Whitacre).