The Big Sick is a partially biographic drama about a relationship across cultural
barriers. Kumail (played by himself, Kumail Nanjiani) is a Pakistani Muslim living in the USA. He is a taxi driver and aspiring comedian whose family expects him to become a lawyer and marry a good Pakistani girl. But Kumail continues to pursue stand-up comedy, and he starts a romantic relationship with Emily (Zoe Kazan), a white American girl from a fairly traditional family. Conflict ensues.
On the one hand it is Kumail’s own ‘Americanisation’ that clashes with his family’s traditional demands regarding culture, profession and religion. On the other, when Emily becomes gravely ill and is put into an induced coma, the battle moves to that between Kumail and Emily’s parents. In the latter scenario the white American prejudice against Middle Eastern Muslim is brought to the fore.
The Big Sick is told from an American perspective. It is free choice and self-actualisation that wins out in the end. Score for Westernisation. But, equally, in this film shallow American prejudice against ‘the other’ is subverted. A typical view of fanatic Muslims is undermined, mostly through the use of humour. For example, when Kumail is sent to the basement to do his ritual prayers he watches videos instead. And when Kumail’s mother banishes him from the family for pursuing a forbidden relationship, she struggles to keep up her angry façade, sending him cookies while at the same time refusing to speak to him.
The best part about The Big Sick is the relationships. That between Kumail and his family (which remains loving and gentle despite the differences), between Kumail and Emily (which is a bantering, natural relationship), and between Kumail and Emily’s parents (in which humour breaks down the barriers). The real feel of the Kumail/Emily romance may be because the story is biographical.
The Big Sick is a warm, funny, humanly complex and very watchable film. It opens at cinemas in South Africa on 6 October 2017.
Home Again is a modern story of how one woman comes to terms with the breakup of her marriage, and how she moves from dependence on a husband to dependence on herself.
After leaving her husband Austen (Michael Sheen), Alice Kinney (Reese Witherspoon) moves back to her father’s old Los Angeles home. Her late father worked in the movie industry and while Alice is in his home she strikes up a relationship with three young men, all of whom are just starting out in the same industry as that of her father. The three men, Teddy, Harry and George, are all around 12 years younger than Alice who celebrates her 40th birthday in the story. They form a composite ‘husband’ for Alice as she gradually begins to disentangle herself from relationship dependence. One of the young men is great with her two daughters. The other is a whizz at computers and helps her set up a system for her business, while the third becomes Alice’s romantic partner.
Alice offers the three a temporary home in her father’s house. And it is here that we see Alice deal with her past, face her own need to assert herself in the working world, and work out what it is she wants from a man – and from herself – in a relationship.
Home Again is lighthearted. The fallouts are mild. The lessons gentle. On one hand it is typically Hollywood, filled with superficial, beautiful, privileged people. On the other, it is a well-rounded story of one woman’s move towards independence, a journey most of us need to undertake.
Home Again opens at cinemas in South Africa on Friday 15 September. It carries an age restriction of PG13.
Amy is the opening feature of the European Film Festival which will be screened at Cinema Nouveau in South Africa from 6 to 15 May. The first screening is tonight at 08.30pm.
Amy Winehouse performs “Rehab” during 2007 MTV Movie Awards – Show at Gibson Amphitheater in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
The documentary uses what looks like amateur footage painstakingly put together to present a sympathetic portrait of the singer. Scenes shown stretch from that of a little dark-haired girl, to a happy, chubby-cheeked teenager, through to the final sad image of a small, lifeless body being stretchered into an ambulance.
A review by Brenda Daniels
In Gone Girl, the wife of Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck), Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike), goes missing on the morning of the couple’s fifth wedding anniversary. Nick seems vague and somewhat helpless in his subsequent dealings with the police and viewers begin to suspect him of possible involvement in her mysterious disappearance.
Flashbacks to the couple’s increasingly difficult relationship certainly support this view. Easy to overlook, however, is a brief, fairly innocuous scene that hints at Amy’s dysfunctional childhood. This past has important ramifications on the plot as events in Gone Girl become increasingly sinister.
A series of clues in an anniversary game are placed by Amy in strategic places for Nick to find. Each clue reveals more of the characters’ motives and actions. These include infidelity, revenge and a desperate grasping for control.
Character development in this film is good and the filial relationship between Nick and his twin sister Margo is well portrayed. Gradual, intricate plot revelations keep Gone Girl from sinking into a typical revenge offering.
Nevertheless I found the film far too long (two and a half hours) with an unrealistic ending that trailed off unsatisfactorily.
According to IMDB, people who liked this film also liked The Equaliser.
Gone Girl opens at NuMetro theatres countrywide in South Africa on 10 October. It carries an age restriction of 16LVS.
Ben Affleck stars in Gone Girl as Nick Dunne who is searching for his missing wife. Photo: Creative Commons.
Rosamund Pike stars in Gone Girl as the missing wife of Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) Photo: Creative Commons.