No one could unite our nation to the extent that Nelson Mandela has so it comes as no surprise that a movie sharing the most memorable moments on his journey to becoming our first democratic president would receive such praise and recognition the world over. Anant Singh’s ambitious Mandela: A Long Walk to Freedom was recently released in South African theatres and could not have been released at a more apt time when the world shares a common, binding grief.
The film spans a half-century journey of a man set to be immortalised as the father of South African democracy. Now, there have been many movies about Mandela so what makes this different? Well, for one – Singh has spent a good 20 years bringing this story to life with a $35 million dollar budget backing a considerable 2 and a half hour long story with an uncharacteristically large South African supporting cast.
We are taken through the streets, country sides, courts, prisons and rural homes of South Africa as we make our way through the milestones of Mandela’s life. We’re given an often intimate look at how this man develops into a global icon and the decisions that led him there. The problem with taking on this much history including such rich moments like the Sharpeville massacre, Soweto uprising and first democratic elections is that it begins to feel a little superficial. I don’t mean that the plot is superficial because it’s not, but because such consequential moments like these feel rushed and lose its magnitude due to the flash highlights that just feel too rushed. It is, however, understandable considering how much material there was to work with.
There are many great achievements in this film, most notably from Idris Elba (Nelson Mandela), who commands the screen and gives an incredibly convincing performance especially with his flawless accent. Naomie Harris (Winnie Mandela) struggled a bit with her accent but did provide a very sympathetic performance. What this film did brilliantly was contrast the lives of this couple, showcasing the fact that they both experienced two very different South Africas and therefore had two very different political stances. The film also captured the man people tend to forget. The man who was flawed. It was surprising to note that Mandela was quite the player in his day. The movie also highlighted his involvement in what was violent activism, his crumbling marriages as well as the decision-making and meetings he had that weren’t condoned by his peers.
My brother said that a Scot who watched Braveheart will interpret it very differently from someone who isn’t privy to its intricate, layered history. It is the same for South Africans who watch this. As a South African, I highly recommend you watching this and having your own interpretation with moments in history that strongly resonate with you personally. While the make-up requires a lot of imagination on the audience’s part and despite the rushed nature of the film, it is an epic tribute to our history and a definite contender at next year’s Academy Awards.
On a final note – thank you, Mandela for providing us with the opportunity to embrace a constitution we can all be proud of. As a country, we thank you for your pivotal role in transitioning us into becoming a free, democratic Rainbow Nation. But most of all, we thank you for teaching us that the journey to freedom involves sacrifice and forgiveness.
Hamba kahle, Tata Madiba!
Durbanite Talks Politics in the new Showmax Series: The Girl From St Agnes
The girls from South Africa in The girl from St Agnes
If you haven’t yet watched The Girl from St Agnes from start to finish, then what have you been doing this past week?
Showmax released this 8-part murder mystery series on 30 January and it easily broke the record for the most unique viewers in 24 hours – proving its binge-worthiness and showing how ready the world is for South African English TV. I for one, have been ready for years, and so instead of being actively social last friday night, I stayed at home with my mother and we started and unintentionally finished the entire show.
My overtaxed mother may have been falling asleep on the couch during the opening credits but soon she was resurrected by the shocking plot twists and many of what the TV ad describes as ‘admissions of guilt’. Set at an all-girls’ boarding school in the KZN midlands, schoolgirl Lexi Summerveld (Jane de Wet) falls to her death and the case is dismissed as suicide. But drama teacher Kate Bellard (Nina Milner) remains unconvinced and furthers the investigation herself, exposing secrets, lifting veils and ultimately showing that the school and all who attend are not what she (and we) once thought. Transfixing and professional, I was blown away by this show and my poor friends will vouch for how it’s all I’ve been talking about lately.
Having lived in California this past year, I was ready to give up on launching a career in my own beautiful country. But TGFSA has truly restored my hope in South African film and media and more specifically, the hope for our female writers, producers and directors. The team that created, filmed and funded the show is an all-female collaboration which is rare, even for Hollywood. Not only are the writers, directors and producers all women, but the story focuses more on the lives and struggles of the South African female experience too. It’s the men and the schoolboys who are villainous and destructive while the girls are the victims who bear the brunt of their perverted or unfaithful husbands, abusive boyfriends, neglective fathers, or disappointing sons.
The notorious “boys will be boys” line is referenced at least twice, hinting at its persistent circulation in patriarchal South Africa. But even as each suspect (and there are many) that Kate suspects is a male, each also becomes a red herring, making the victim, the murderer and the detective an all-female game too. Perhaps what this is saying is that we women need to work together and support each other more. And perhaps we need to be more courageous, less trustful and dependent, and own our individual narratives just like S.A. men have the learned confidence to do.
What I also really enjoyed is the political landscape that the show doesn’t choose to ignore. Lines like “you people”, “colonialists”, and allusions to farm burning, land stealing and robberies pinpoint the present South African experience and highlight the racial tension that is still very much alive today; even amongst the integrated and somewhat progressive schoolgirls at St Agnes. This exposes the backlash and the influence our parents’ generation still has on us, however the small progress we’ve made so far is also shown by the (albeit few) mixed friendships and relationships, peace treaties and apologies, as well as a well-mixed cast even if *sigh* the main characters are still mostly white.
I guess The Girl from St Agnes should be regarded as a snapshot of present progression and should not be expected to transcend all boundaries at once – as we still have a long way to go – but rather we should choose to focus on the pride of making it this far in South African English television and in non-conservative material at that. Sure, it’s at first unsettling to hear our accent on the screen, and maybe even more so when it’s talking rape and murder and suicide (and and and). But after a while it hits that this is our reality. We are no longer watching the far-fetched American world with its foreign accent, but instead we are consuming our own unique demeanor and personally relatable experiences. As an ex-all girls’ catholic school girl myself, I feel united in my own story and no longer feel the ‘fomo’ of American High School as intensely as I used to.
I’m so excited for the future of South African TV and I hope I get the chance to join in someday, too. And you, fellow unenthused and disillusioned writer/actor/director/any form of creative… you should be too.
Written by Candice Buckle
Review: Movies @ Suncoast – Deadpool 2
If you are a lover of Durban and you hear of the word ‘Suncoast’, you would automatically be thinking: Casino and Entertainment World – well, if it was only ‘Casino’… then good job!
BUT it’s not all about the casino or the restaurants… it’s also about the movies, which brings us to the point of this post where we review Deadpool 2 at Suncoast’s Cinecentre.
FUN FACT: Cinecentre is part of the Avalon Group which is South Africa’s largest and oldest independent Cinema Exhibition and Entertainment Company – they have been a pioneer of importing Bollywood movies to South Africa for over 70 years.
DEADPOOL 2: REVIEW
DP 2’s elaborate anti-marketing campaign has been simply brilliant by bashing popular pop-culture while also making fun of itself. Ryan Reynolds, who plays both DP and Juggernaut, has once again pulled out all the stops to
deliver an entertaining and hysterically funny anti-hero flick that will appeal to all DP 1 fans.
Storyline: This blockbuster brings together X-Force, Bill Skarsgard, Terry Crews and Brad Pitt (who’s out of sight), a team of misfit hero’s on a mission to save a troubled mutant boy (Russell “Rusty” Collins) from a time traveling cyborg (Cable), played by Josh Brolin, who lugs around a beast of a gun and other advanced weaponry. But it doesn’t end as you may think.
The movies ability to break down the fourth wall without skipping a beat is what makes this film special. This brilliant idea that DP knows he is a fictional character living in a comic book universe could even be expanded upon in future installments, and hopefully it will be. All DP’s literal back breaking and head splitting weirdness mixed with a kind of super consciousness of his own reality should keep all die hard comic book movie fans coming back time and again.
Expect some rib-tickling one-liners, plenty of trash talking and loads of action. DP 2 scores and solid 8 out of 10, so book your tickets now at CINECENTRE!
Suncost Casino and Entertainment World
Centrally located at the northern end of Durban‘s Golden Mile, Suncoast is always a hub of activity. Not only a great spot to visit if you are a local but for tourists to our beautiful city as well. Currently under construction, we found that parking was a mission and running across the lot in the rain not very pleasant, but this is our only negative about our Suncoast experience. On a good note, a little birdie says that part of the new building will be undercover parking – which we think is fantastic!
REVIEW: Pacific Rim at Suncoast Cine Centre
We could not wait to go back to Suncoast Casino to experience yet another blockbuster movie, only this time it was none other than Pacific Rim: Uprising!
We made our way into Suncoast, at a fast pace as we did not want to be late for the movie. The humming atmosphere at CineCentre proved that we were not the only ones excited for this experience, as families and couples were also going in to watch Pacific Rim: Uprising. We also managed to grab a quick popcorn and slushie, emphasis on ‘quick’, not to mention that divine popcorn spice we love so much!
With all that in hand, it was time to make our way into the movie, and we were just in time! Getting to our seats, to add to our excitement this movie was in 3D, so 3D glasses were required.
Being quite a tomboy growing up, I loved reading comics and graphic novels and collected them on top of that. All things Science-fiction, Fantasy, Marvel or DC, I was your girl! Of course it came to no surprise when I saw the first Pacific Rim and fell in love with it! So you can understand my great enthusiasm for this one!
My Overall on Pacific Rim: Uprising
A-MAZ-ING! The CGI blew my mind and the storyline had quite a twist!
A definite must-see at Suncoast Casino!
Check out the trailer:
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