The magic of The Royal Ballet comes to the Big Screen with Cinema Nouveau

 A classic production of Swan Lake –“the World’s Most Loved Ballet – combines drama and tragedy in the battle between good and evil”.

Photo: supplied

Photo: supplied

A season of five famous ballets from the Royal Ballet is being screened at Cinema Nouveau theatres over the next few months. The season launched with Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in March. The next production to be shown on the big screen is the iconic ballet set to Tchaikovsky’s beautiful music, Swan Lake on 2 May.

Swan Lake, surely the greatest of all Romantic ballets, is the captivating story of a beautiful woman transformed into a swan, and a heart-rending tribute to the power of love. The ballet is a perfect synthesis of choreography and music and, though Tchaikovsky did not live to see it become a success, his first ballet score is now synonymous with ballet itself, inspiring generations of dancers and crossing over into popular culture.

Swan Lake releases on South African screens on Saturday 2 May for four screenings only – on 2, 6 and 7 May at 7.30pm and on 3 May at 2.30pm – only at Cinema Nouveau theatres in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban and Cape Town. Bookings are now open. The running time of this ballet production is 2 hours, 10 minutes plus two intervals (20 minutes and 25 minutes).

For booking information on the Royal Ballet’s Swan Lake, visit www.cinemanouveau.co.za or sterkinekor.mobi. For queries, call TicketLine on 0861 Movies (668 437).

Information supplied by Cinema Nouveau.

Serial (Bad) Weddings comically and personally takes on France’s racial issues

A review by Brenda Daniels

Poster supplied by Ster Kinekor

Poster supplied by Ster Kinekor

In this humorous foreign film, Catholic French couple, Claude and Marie Verneuil, have four daughters, each of whom marries a man of a different culture and religion. Three of the daughters marry in quick succession and a Muslim Arab, a Shephardi Jew and a Chinese become the Verneuils’ sons-in-law.

These three different men really test the Verneuils’ tolerance levels and cause tensions between the sons-in-law themselves. Gradually, however, the family makes an effort to accept the others’ differences, and a jumbled working relationship begins to form. But when daughter number four brings home – horrors – a black man, the whole family is thrown into disarray.

It seems important that this film is set in France. Despite the country’s cherished secular tradition France has a Christian majority. And partially as a result of its secularism, France has experienced recent tensions with controversial Muslim issues like the headscarf and halaal food. In Serial (Bad) Weddings the Verneuil family forms a picture of a changed French society and what it takes to make that society work.

The family, and by extension France, doesn’t gloss over its differences and the difficulties they pose. But the characters are ultimately united by their commonalities: the fact that they are all French, and that they are all family.

The humour in Serial (Bad) Weddings is quirky and lots of fun. It escalates as the movie progresses culminating in a joyous, non-sugary, gratifying celebration.

Serial (Bad) Weddings is a French film with English subtitles. It opens at Cinema Nouveau on 1 May.

A new way of seeing Vincent van Gogh

A Review by Brenda Daniels

Vincent van Gogh's famous 'The Starry Night' painting which is on display in New York's Museum of Modern Art. Photo: Creative Commons

Vincent van Gogh’s famous ‘The Starry Night’ painting. Photo: Creative Commons

This film forms part of a new series of Exhibition on Screen brought to the public by Cinema Nouveau.

In this production, viewers see many of Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings on display at the Vincent Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. Much more than a “filmed walk around a museum”, however, VINCENT VAN GOGH – A New Way of Seeing, includes interviews with several Van Gogh experts, clips of actual places Van Gogh lived and worked in, and a fairly extensive biography of his life. The latter was achieved using the more than 800 letters he wrote during his lifetime, many of which were addressed to his beloved brother, Theo.

Like his well-known contemporaries of the 1800s, such as writer Charles Dickens, Vincent Van Gogh is an accessible and appealing figure to the modern audience. I was intrigued by what this documentary-type film could offer and interested too in the subtitle “A New Way of Seeing”. The latter phrase can be seen in at least three ways in this film.

They include: An explanation of Van Gogh’s style (how he tried as a creator to see things through fresh eyes); an emphasis on the artist’s life and how it affected his work (as opposed to a mere explanation of his painting technique); and a moderated retelling of his life (one that neither emphasises nor ignores all the well-known bits such as his mental condition and suicide).

As an art novice I welcomed the biographical features of this film. As the closing quote of the film makes clear, however, I was also left with a more educated appreciation of how this artist tried to make an important difference to the world through his art.

VINCENT VAN GOGH – A New Way of Seeing releases on South African screens on Saturday, 18 April 2015, for four screenings only: on 18, 22 and 23 April at 7.30pm and on 19 April at 2.30pm – at Cinema Nouveau theatres in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban and Cape Town. The running time of this production is 90 minutes. Watch the trailer here:

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland comes to the big screen from stage

Photo: Supplied

Photo: Supplied

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland comes to the big screen in the form of a ballet. The screening is to be the first of five ballets filmed by The Royal Opera House’s Royal Ballet in London and shown at Cinema Nouveau in South Africa. The other four include Romeo and Juliet, Swan Lake, La Fille Mal Gardee and The Winter’s Tale.

If you’re a ballet novice like me you will find Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland an accessible show. It’s delightfully bright and comical with an easy mix of graceful dance and descriptive play acting. This children’s tale by Lewis Carroll is well suited to the imaginative treatment given it. I found it a happy escape from the outside world.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is on at Cinema Nouveau in Umhlanga, Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town on Saturday 28 March at 2.30pm, Sunday 29 March at 2.30pm, and on Wednesday and Thursday 1 and 2 April at 7.30pm. Shows (in Umhlanga anyway) continue despite load shedding!
Photo: supplied

                                         Photo: supplied

Upper Class Snacks at Nouveau coupled with a good quality sequel to the Marigold Hotel

A Review by Brenda Daniels

On Friday 13 March my mother-in-law and I attended the launch of Cinema Nouveau’s new snack menu. My partner (mom-in-law Ray) got to nibble on the eats before taking them in with us to watch The Second Best Marigold Hotel. The new offerings included wine by the bottle or in a take-away glass (with a take-off lid) and craft beer, which most of the men seemed to go for. A small cheese platter accompanied the wine, and a packet of sealed biltong, the beer. Both the cheese and the biltong were good quality and far more satisfying than popcorn.

Unlike some sequels, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel isn’t “second” in quality to the first. Good humour and some light hearted moments make for an enjoyable follow on to the first.

In this film young proprietor Sonny Kapoor (Dev Patel) expands his hotel business, gets married and continues to forge a loving relationship with his elderly business partner the dour Muriel Donnelly (Maggie Smith). Love problems, job opportunities, approaching death as well as new leases on life are all experienced by the senior citizens ensconced at the hotel.

Standouts include Bill Nighy who shows a particular talent for talking nonsense and Dev Patel, a very likeable young man. Richard Gere even makes an appearance, swanning in in typically romantic style. My mom-in-law laughed heartily throughout.

Dev Patel plays the young hotel manager of the hotel for the elderly in India. Photo: Creative Commons.

Dev Patel plays the young hotel manager of the hotel for the elderly in India. Photo: Creative Commons.

The Hunt is excellently hard-hitting

A review by Brenda Daniels

The Hunt is a 2013 Danish film that was initially screened in South Africa in May 2014 as part of the European Film Festival at Cinema Nouveau. It won a number of awards at the Cannes Film Festival and others, including best actor for Mads Mikkelsen who stars as Lucas in this hard-hitting movie.

Lucas is a kindergarten teacher in a small town in Denmark. He is loved by the little ones and is seen having lots of fun with them. In his private life Lucas enjoys fun of a more raucous kind with a group of men, all of whom have clearly been friends for a long time. Swimming naked in Denmark’s freezing climate and hunting deer are among the group’s activities.

Lucas is also a divorcee with a teenage son, Marcus (Lasse Fogelstrom), whom he longs to see. His longings are rewarded by Marcus’ eventual wish to come and live with his dad.

Before this happy reunion can come to pass, however, things change dramatically for Lucas. Through a series of simply portrayed events Lucas finds himself accused of child molestation. And it is here that we see the film’s title “The Hunt” coming sharply into focus. From colleagues, to parents, townsmen to friends, most of the people in this small town turn on Lucas with a violence that is hard to watch. Police and the law appear only as a vague accusatory presence.

It is the personal betrayal, the stumbling, scuffling attacks on this man’s dignity by people he knows that are so deeply hurtful, and harsher than any “action” film I’ve seen. A line spoken by Lucas’ best friend goes something like this: “There’s evil all around us but if we stay together we keep the evil out.” The evil without (us) or the evil within (us), I wonder.

The Hunt is an excellent and deeply disturbing portrayal of cruelty and human nature. As intense as it is to watch I do highly recommend it. It opens at Cinema Nouveau Theatres in South Africa on 3 October.

Mads Mikkelsen plays the lead role in The Hunt

Mads Mikkelsen plays the lead role in The Hunt. Photo: Supplied by Ster Kinekor

Shakespeare’s The Two Gentlemen of Verona

Filmed live in Stratford-Upon-Avon

Releases exclusively at Cinema Nouveau and select Ster-Kinekor theatres.

The company’s production of the romantic comedy, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, will be screened in South Africa, on 27 September, 1 and 2 October at 7.30pm, and on 28 September at 2.30pm, at Cinema Nouveau Rosebank Mall in Johannesburg, Brooklyn Mall in Pretoria, Gateway in Durban and V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, as well as at the following select Ster-Kinekor cinemas: Somerset Mall in Somerset West, Garden Route Mall in George and Bedford Centre in Johannesburg.

Shakespeare comments on friendship, love, constancy and fickleness in a play that takes the audience from the controlled world of Verona and Milan to the wildness of the forest where, it seems, anything can happen…

Simon Godwin’s production is “set in modern Italy, with a Dolce Vita buzz of scooters, nightclubs and open air cafés” (Daily Telegraph).

The running time of The Two Gentlemen of Verona is two hours 25 minutes, plus a 20-minute interval.

To book tickets and for more information about The Two Gentlemen of Verona, contact www.cinemanouveau.co.za, Ticketline 0861 668 437.

Photo: Supplied by Ster Kinekor

Photo: Supplied by Ster Kinekor

 

The Hundred-Foot Journey is not too sentimental after all

A review by Brenda Daniels

I had avoided the preview of this film for fear that it might be too sentimental. Now that The Hundred-Foot Journey is on circuit and I have seen it, I can confirm that it is indeed a glossy, unrealistically idyllic, too-earnest movie that glories in the ultimate innate goodness of human beings.

But it is saved from sentimentality by the ongoing rivalry between the main characters, the French scenery is beautiful to look at, and the story is a diverting, funny one that ends happily. I enjoyed it after all.

Hassan (Manish Dayal) has always had a special affinity for food. This gift is nurtured by his mother and Hassan learns early on to cook in the family restaurant in Bombay. Unfortunately, disaster strikes and Hassan’s mother is killed and their business burned to the ground. The remaining family members set off for Europe to see if life will be kinder to them there.

Fateful circumstances lead them to the quaint and beautiful village of Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val in France. Here the family of six – headed by Papa (an entertaining Om Puri) – set up a glitzy Indian restaurant – right across the road (in fact only one-hundred feet away) from the very posh, Michelin-star-rated French restaurant owned and run by snooty Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren).

The Kadam family’s arrival stirs up prejudice amongst the townspeople and intense competition in Madame Mallory herself. A series of funny incidents occur, with both sides determined not to give in.

In the meantime Hassan develops a relationship with one of Madame Mallory’s cooks, Marguerite (Charlotte Le Bon), and hones his cooking skills. Togetherness and acceptance win out in the end and teach the characters a lesson.

The Hundred-Foot Journey is currently showing at Cinema Nouveau Theatres in South Africa.

Om Puri

Om Puri plays Papa in The Hundred Foot Journey. Photo: Creative Commons

Venus in Fur for a discerning audience

A Feast of Tales is proud to publish a guest post from Sharon Emmerich

Avid theatre and film critic and lover, Sharon Emmerich

Avid theatre and film critic and lover, Sharon Emmerich

Venus in Fur film review

I have always loved the nuances of foreign language films. Venus in Fur, in French, with English subtitles, does not disappoint in that regard. However, given the subject, it will not be everyone’s cup of tea; the darker worlds of sadism and masochism, bondage and fetish, are put, quite literally, under the spotlight. It is tastefully done though, subtle and implied, as opposed to overt, crass and vulgar.

Roman Polanski’s production is true to the two-person stage play, written by David Ives. The plot takes place solely in a theatre, mainly onstage, post-audition, when a latecomer beseeches the director for a chance to audition. It becomes apparent it is an ambush and the characters unfold into their true selves.

Clever use is made of minimal props as well as lighting which changes constantly to reflect the mood.

I thought the lead actress Emmanuelle Seigner was excellent as she toyed with Mathieu Amalric’s thoughts and emotions, stirring his mind into frenzy and desire – then punishing him.

I watched right until the credits rolled and in my opinion, the best was saved for last – a sumptuous visual feast of many famous Master’s paintings, depicting Venus in all her glory.

Venus in Fur is adapted and directed by Roman Polanski. It forms part of the Cinema Nouveau Erotic Art-House Film Festival running through August and September 2014. It releases on Friday 15 August. See www.cinemanouveau.co.za for screening details.

Venus in Fur is a film for broadminded and discerning movie goers.

Roman Polanski, Emmanuelle Seigner and Mathieu Amalric at the Cannes film festival in 2013. Photo: Creative Commons

Roman Polanski, Emmanuelle Seigner and Mathieu Amalric at the Cannes film festival in 2013. Photo: Creative Commons