Kidnap: A Showcase for Tough Women

Source: Common Sense Media

Kidnap has a simple plot. Mother loves son; son is kidnapped; mother stops at nothing to find son. The premise is equally simple: this mother is one tough cookie and shouldn’t be messed with.

The story is set up for the viewer right at the beginning. Karla Dyson (the beautiful Halle Berry) is a struggling waitress who works in a useless restaurant with awful customers. Her son – Frankie (Sage Correa) – is her life. Her ex-husband wants custody of the boy. So when Frankie is inexplicably taken from a funfair (where Karla just sees him being bundled into a car) she has nothing but her son to lose.

The rest of the film makes room for Karla’s development. As Karla becomes more exasperated with the kidnappers – and the authorities – she grows even more determined and resilient. Several external factors make her job harder: she loses her phone, she runs out of petrol on this (very) long drive, and she tries to trade her purse for the boy. What doesn’t seem to get in her way, however, are the public in general and any physical injuries. At certain points cars are spaced evenly so that the baddies and their pursuer can easily dodge in and out. And despite several horrendous crashes Karla surfaces each time to continue her pursuit.

What Karla eventually finds is something part of a much bigger issue which does lend more purpose to this car chase. The final scenes are quite nail-biting too. But on the whole Kidnap is too formulaic and superficial to be much more than a showcase for how tough and capable this modern woman is.

Kidnap opens at cinemas in South Africa on 8 December 2017. It carries an age restriction of 13V. #FridayFun

Stereotyping ‘Male’ Characteristics: Atomic Blonde & A Family Man

Image source: Ster Kinekor

In the spy action thriller, Atomic Blonde, Charlize Theron acts as a British MI6 agent, Lorraine Broughton, who is sent into cold war Berlin to recover a top secret document. The film opens with Broughton being grilled post-operation by her superior, Eric Gray (Toby Jones), and CIA agent Emmett Kurzfeld (John Goodman). She looks battered and bruised. The story goes into the past from here, flashing forward at intervals to further debriefing scenes in which Broughton seems to be getting a raw deal.

Broughton was chosen for this difficult mission, it transpires, because of her amazing skills at detecting and beating up hordes of fighting men. Warned not to trust anyone Broughton is even suspicious of her MI6 contact in Berlin, David Percival (James McAvoy). A number of important foes with names I found hard to keep a track of come and go, as do groups of others sent to confront Broughton and prevent her succeeding in her mission.

The only person Broughton seems to genuinely connect with is female French agent Delphine Lasalle (Sofia Boutella), a vulnerable,

Image source: Ster Kinekor

inexperienced first-timer. The two women have sex.

In Atomic Blonde there is action, fighting, double crossing and plot twists from beginning to end. I particularly liked a scene in which Broughton slips into a group of people escorting an important contact while snipers aim at them from buildings up above. In a synchronised move everyone in the crowd puts up black umbrellas obscuring the prey from the shooters’ view.

But Broughton’s brilliant fighting skills seemed unrealistic. The film’s feminist stance – the two main female characters are virtually the only goodies – is undermined by the aggrandisement of male-type characteristics of physical aggression. Paired with lingering camera shots of Theron’s beautiful profile, this focus wasn’t enough to carry the shallow plot.

Atomic Blonde opens at cinemas in South Africa on Friday 25 August 2017.  

Image source: flickeringmyth.com

Another film that portrays a stereotypical male role, this time in the form of the undesirable absent father, is A Family Man.

Dane Jensen (Gerard Butler) works for a recruitment agency and will do anything to meet his figures every month. He undercuts other agents, lacks integrity when dealing with job seekers, is constantly robbing his family of time with them, and puts undue pressure on his son Ryan (Max Jenkins).

When Ryan becomes ill Jensen is challenged to shape up and become a better man, husband and father.

A Family Man is a moralistic story of character building. But, like Atomic Blonde, has unrealistic aspects. Recruitment is equated with the tough world of stock trading. Jensen’s wife is too forgiving. And the denouement is much too neatly tied up. I found the plot bitty, Butler’s American accent annoying, and the ‘absent father’ theme a bit tiresome.

A Family Man is currently on circuit in South Africa.

 

A Woman’s World to open soon at the European Film Festival in Durban

euff-2015-signature

For its second edition, the European Film Festival (EUFF) (#EuroFilmFestSA) celebrates women through the theme A Woman’s World, with a selection of films that feature female directors, strong female characters or women-related stories.

This year’s EUFF features 12 internationally-acclaimed films from 8 to 17 May, representing the best of European cinema and never before screened to South African audiences.

In Durban, the festival will take place on Friday 8 to Sunday 10 May and Friday 15 to Sunday 17 May at Cinema Nouveau – Gateway (Gateway Theatre of shopping (Expo/Explore Floor), 1 Palm Blvd, Umhlanga Rocks).

For more information about the EUFF 2015 FILM SELECTION, visit:

http://www.ifas.org.za/index.php/cinema-media/euff-2/1000-euff-2015-film-selection

BOOKINGS

http://www.cinemanouveau.co.za/

The 12 internationally-acclaimed films lined up for EUFF 2015 – A Woman’s World – include:

  • Ida: Pawel Pawlikowski’s film is the first Polish feature to win the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film (2015) amidst rave reviews from around the world
  • Two Days, One Night: the latest project taken on by the multi-award winning Dardenne brothers features French actress Marion Cotillard, nominated for the 2015 Best Actress Oscar
  • A Second Chance: directed by Academy Award-winning Susanne Bier, the film features Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Game of Thrones); San Sebastian Festival 2014
  • 3 Hearts: a French romantic drama starring film legend Catherine Deneuve; Venice International Film Festival 2014
  • Amour Fou: an Austrian tragi-comedy, inspired by the life and death of the historic poet Heinrich von Kleist (Christian Friedel); Cannes Film Festival 2014
  • Concrete Night: Finnish female director Pirjo Honkasalo’s film is a dream-like odyssey through beautiful Helsinki over the course of one night; Toronto International Film Festival 2014
  • Beloved Sisters: German Romanticism at its most expressively romantic, a cinematic tour de force from director Dominik Graf; Berlin International Film Festival 2014
  • Human Capital: Valeria Golina and Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, two of Italy’s leading actresses, in a film that San twists love, class and ambition; Tribeca Film Festival 2014
  • Frailer: with great humour and sincerity, Dutch female director Mijke de Jong draws an intimate portrait to capture the way we face death; Toronto International Film Festival 2014
  • Blood of my Blood: from Portugal, this film focuses on unconditional love – and the lengths two women are prepared to go to protect those they love; San Sebastian Festival 2011
  • Blancanieves: from Spanish director, Pablo Berger, Snow White is recast as a talented bullfighter in an eerie and erotic silent film treat; Toronto International Film Festival 2012
  • My Brother the Devil: a masterful debut from female director Sally El Hosaini, one of the brightest new talents of the UK cinema; Berlin International Film Festival 2012

Dickens’ complicated relationship in The Invisible Woman

The Invisible Woman stars Ralph Fiennes as Charles Dickens and Felicity Jones as his young lover Ellen (Nelly) Ternan. Despite being married with several children, Dickens is attracted to Nelly when she takes up a role in one of his plays.

For her part, Nelly is an avid fan of Dickens, absorbing his books with an emotional intensity that dictates the action of the film. The two develop an uneasy relationship. It flaunts the societal conventions of the time by their choice to live together. But at the same time, their relationship bows to societal dictates in their choice of living, hiding away in a quiet home in the countryside.

Years after Dickens has died, Nelly, now married and with a child of her own, reflects on her past. Unable to come to terms with what transpired, Nelly remains a tortured soul until she chooses to live differently. This she does right at the end of the film. This choice is mirrored in the ending of Dickens’ well-known work Great Expectations, an ending Nelly ultimately rejects.

Bereft of any humour, The Invisible Woman is a serious film that relentlessly shows how difficult it is to truly know and connect with another person. It opens at Ster Kinekor theatres in South Africa on 4 July.

Felicity Jones plays Charles Dickens' lover in The Invisible Woman

Felicity Jones plays Charles Dickens’ lover in The Invisible Woman. Photo: Creative Commons

Ralph Fiennes plays Charles Dickens in The Invisible Woman. Photo: Creative Commons

Ralph Fiennes plays Charles Dickens in The Invisible Woman. Photo: Creative Commons