The Dark Tower Presents Archetypal Battle Between Good & Evil

I’m not a fan of Stephen King. Gasp, shock, horror! No, but I really enjoyed The Dark Tower, a film based on the first of King’s The Dark Tower book series.

In this dystopian story a young boy called Jake (Tom Taylor) discovers that his visions are real connections to another world. He manages to enter this other world and meet both its hero, the Gunslinger, Roland Deschain (Idris Elba), and the antagonist, the Man in Black, Walter O’Dim (Matthew McConaughey). The ‘tower’ is what keeps Earth from capitulating to the dark forces and its demise is therefore the baddies’ focus. To bring down the tower Walter and his cronies capture children from Earth, take them to the other side, put them in space rockets, and send them crashing into the tower. Jake’s unusual abilities, called ‘the shine’, become Walter’s focus, and so the battle between good and evil hots up.

Sound realistic? Well, er, no of course not. But it’s this imaginative storytelling, this excitement surrounding a world that just might exist…. that makes The Dark Tower really fun to watch. Improvements could be made – several of the scene changes need work and perhaps the editing too. And I saw glimpses of other stories mixed in: Harry Potter, for instance, and The Hunger Games. But then, which story is totally unique? According to Carl Jung’s theory of the Concept of the Collective Unconscious, archetypal story themes are passed down by writers and reappear in different settings.

Of interest to South Africans will be the fact that several South African actors appear in the film, and the filming locations were USA and Cape Town, South Africa.

The Dark Tower opened at cinemas in South Africa on Friday 8 September 2017. Enjoy!

German Films Undo Stereotypes at DIFF 2017

There was a ‘German Focus’ at this year’s Durban International Film Festival. Ten German films were screened as part of this focus. Lien Heidenreich-Seleme of the Goethe-Institut explained that the institute’s goal was to ‘undo stereotypes through visual storytelling’. There remained a general impression, said Heidenreich-Seleme, that German cinema was highly political and serious. The new filmmakers wanted to break that stereotype.

Well, I think they did a good job. I saw three of the ten and can recommend all of them. Humour, sensitivity, quirkiness, captivating cinematography and unique storytelling featured in various degrees in the films I watched.

Goodbye Berlin is the story of two fourteen-year-old boys (Tshick and Maik) who form an unlikely friendship one summer. Both social outsiders, the boys have absent/no parents and look for belonging and to be special to someone. They take matters into their own hands when they fail to be invited to a popular girl’s party, steal a car and set off across Germany in search of some mythical place. Along the way they forge a friendship that will ostensibly last a lifetime, discuss deep life issues, and develop a confidence that (Maik certainly) didn’t have before.

Another film that centred on friendship was The Most Beautiful Day. In this story two men in their thirties dying from incurable diseases meet at a hospice. Throwing caution out of the window the two go on a stealing spree, trade in the goods for cash and then set off on an African adventure. Apart from death the story touches on other sensitive issues like love, courage, commitment and treasuring what is important. But it never gets sentimental. A little silly in places The Most Beautiful Day is nevertheless very funny and – of interest to South African viewers – features a strong South African element.

Paula is an altogether different film to the two above and tells the story of German painter Paula Becker. Paula was a free-spirited young woman in the early 1900s, determined to do the unacceptable for women, which was to: paint for a living and paint in her own unique style. She did this, eventually. The story of Paula’s art is told in parallel to her personal love life. The sexual tension throughout the film is evident and forms an integral part of why (according to the storytellers in this film) Paula painted what she did. Carla Juri who played Paula was absolutely brilliant and the cinematography throughout its German countryside and Paris setting flowed beautifully.

I thoroughly enjoyed my experience of the German Focus at the 2017 DIFF. I only hope these features make it to the mainstream cinema circuit in South Africa.

Source: IMDB

Running through 2015 with 12 half marathons

By Robyn Turton

It’s that time of year again when we haul out the Christmas tree, prepare for the family gatherings and wonder where the year has gone. It gives cause for reflection.  I began the year with a goal to run 12 half marathons! I was never very sporty in high school and it was only on a whim that I ran my first half marathon in February 2012 (who plans a race for February in PMB!). I loved it but didn’t do anything else until June 2014 when I ran my next marathon for charity. The end of that year saw me finishing an additional 2 half marathons but both much slower than my first. So what I’m really saying is that when I set myself this ‘marathon’ of a task, it was certainly no wee walk in the park!

Equipped with my Polar exercise watch and Reebok running attire I hit the ground running at the end of January 2015 and haven’t stopped since! It’s December now and I have indeed crossed the finishing line 12 times.  It’s been an incredible journey with many uphill battles and downhill joys.

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Coffee time, with the professionals

Photo: Brenda Daniels

Photo: Brenda Daniels

Picture: Sha Coetzee (left) and Anthony Abiet at the official opening of vida e caffé, La Lucia Mall, Durban, on Thursday 22 May 2014.

Anthony, the exuberant General Manager at vida, educated customers on the opening day about some of the intricacies of how the café makes their coffees. This includes the correct coffee-making techniques, such as time taken to draw the water and temperature to which the milk is heated.

It also involves the customer service process; ordering at one end of the counter and delivering at the other. Another important aspect is the coffee “experience”; the store at La Lucia is a particularly nice-looking one, with cork finishes and oak surfaces, and staff are trained to make “customers friends”.

Sha Coetzee is a customer-come-friend. She has been patronising vida for many years, popping in to a store daily, sometimes twice a day. She started visiting vida in Cape Town first and is now a faithful customer in Durban.

Like Sha, I love going out for a good cappuccino and don’t feel I’ll ever dabble in the art of “proper coffee-making” at home. Many people do though and according to my son-in-law, Stuart Turton, “Durban is experiencing a kind of resurgence toward home-produced coffee.” You can go really big (for example a Bezera Italian machine which a friend reports now costs almost R20,000) or start small. The vida website, for instance, demonstrates a very natty little thing called a capsule machine. My son-in-law has started his coffee endeavours with a “moka pot” and a hand-held milk frother (see the picture below). The, er, jar in the background of the photo is the stage I’m at… Which is why I need to go out for coffee!

Photo: Robyn Turton

Photo: Robyn Turton