Their Finest Has a Good Dig at the Moviemaking Industry

Their Finest is a delightful and funny drama about one woman’s break into the male-centric world of screenwriting in Britain in the 1940s. Set against the backdrop of WWII, Catrin Cole (a lovely Gemma Arterton with a Welsh accent), goes against the female norm and starts working for a London scriptwriting company. She and fellow writer Tom Buckley (an annoyingly smarmy Sam Claflin) develop an argumentative, bantering friendship that leads to, well I’m sure you can guess where it leads to.

Picture supplied by Ster Kinekor

The wartime film created by the screenwriters was to be about twin girls who heroically rescued soldiers in their small boat during the Battle of Dunkirk. Their Finest revolves around the film’s making from start to finish. When scriptwriter Catrin initially interviews the twins she discovers that the newspaper reports about their ‘rescue of soldiers’ was in fact untrue. They had never reached Dunkirk because their boat had broken down, and they had only taken on soldiers when they were towed back to England by a bigger ship.

No matter. Catrin sets about creating a story that would appeal to female viewers. Her fellow writers get involved and throw in their ideas, casting men as the hero. The Ministry department responsible for the product add their political requirements. The actors, headed by Ambrose Hilliard (a hilarious, pompous Bill Nighy), bring their demands to bear. And then to top it all off the people responsible for promoting the film to an American audience insist that an American actor be added. (Never mind that there were no Americans in Dunkirk). Although good to look at the American, Carl Lundbeck (Jack Lacy), is completely useless as an actor, and the team is forced to do what it can to ensure he is more seen than heard.

Their Finest has a good dig against toothy, dim Americans, against the ridiculousness of war time propaganda, and against the malleability of ‘truth’ in movies. It portrays the making of the Dunkirk rescue film in parallel with the relationship between its creators Catrin and Tom. Interestingly, these two aspects of Their Finest‘s story show how human intervention can manipulate outcomes to suit taste.

Their Finest opens at cinemas in South Africa on 2 June 2017.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 is not meaty enough

A Review by Brenda Daniels

In the first movie in this series (The Hunger Games) viewers were introduced to a terrifying future in which humans, struggling for basic resources, are sent to participate in a macabre game of life and death: the Hunger Games.

In the games Katniss Everdeen, well portrayed by Jennifer Lawrence, comes to the fore as a tough, genuine heroine. At the same time a love triangle is established between Katniss and fellow Hunger Games fighter, Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), and childhood friend Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth).

In the second film, The Hunger Games Catching Fire, the plot thickens when Katniss Everdeen returns to the Hunger Games, and this time uses her fighting skills, not to kill her fellow participants, but to attack the overarching enemy, the Capitol. She does this by shooting and destroying the Hunger Games’ dome. Meanwhile, tension in the love triangle grows.

Unlike the first two films, the third, and highly anticipated The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 is not a complete story. This is because, as the title explains, the full story, based on the third book in the series, has been broken into two parts. And it suffers for it.

Yes, there is a new twist; Peeta has been captured by the Capitol and is forced to speak out against the growing rebellion in the districts. As a result, in the midst of heavy fighting against the Capitol, District 12 launches a mission for his rescue. But this section of a story is not meaty enough to keep audience attention.

The love story too, wears a bit thin, with too many close-ups of Katniss in several chin-wobbling tearful scenes.

In an effort to milk too much from an interesting and unique series, the filmmakers have spoilt what should have been a fitting finale. Ending this film on a “cliffhanger” will not be enough to entice me to see the next (last?) one.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 opens at cinemas in South Africa on Friday 21 November.

An impression of the new Mockingjay - Katniss Everdeen by MartAiConan. Photo: Creative Commons.

An impression of the new Mockingjay – Katniss Everdeen by MartAiConan. Photo: Creative Commons.

This image can also be seen along with the artist’s other paintings at this website.

Josh Hutcherson plays Peeta Mellark in The Hunger Games. Photo (Creative Commons) by Gage Skidmore.

Josh Hutcherson plays Peeta Mellark in The Hunger Games. Photo (Creative Commons) by Gage Skidmore.