Two films that made me think

Two film reviews by Brenda Daniels

That Sugar Film

Do you remember Super Size Me, the 2004 film that featured Morgan Spurlock eating only McDonald’s food for a month? In that documentary-style movie the vices of fat, particularly trans-fats in food, are exposed. Spurlock experiences weight-gain, liver problems, lethargy and nausea. That Sugar Film, released in South Africa on 31 July 2015, follows the same format, with a similar outcome for experimenter Damon Gameau, only this time it’s sugar that is the enemy. And the low-fat diet.

The low-fat diet, promoted for decades as the healthy way to eat, is responsible for added sugar in processed food, the film contends. This is because food still needs to taste good. In order to keep the food tasting good once the fat is removed, sugar is added. That Sugar Film’s proposed solution is that we go back to fat and cut out the sugar. Tim Noakes of Banting fame will be pleased.

I rushed home after seeing this film and read the ingredient lists on my cereals and instant meals. I was horrified to see how much sugar was in them. But I was also left feeling confused. Is fat in or out? Is sugar really all that bad?

I’m no nutritionist so feel unqualified to say for certain. But, whilst I’m not going to jump on the bandwagon and vilify sugar, I think the sensible thing to do is cut out processed foods as far as possible and cook from scratch. That way I can control the amount of sugar and fat I add.

Woman in Gold

Woman in Gold is another interesting film released in South Africa on 31 July 2015. It features the true story of Maria Altmann, a Jewish victim of World War II’s Nazi Germany. Before Maria and her husband escaped the regime for America, the Altmann family’s wealth in the form of jewellery, ornaments and artworks were confiscated.

Woman in Gold, by artist Gustav Klimt, was among them. After the war the painting became famous Austrian property and grew to be synonymous with that country’s national identity. More than 50 years after the war reparations to war victims were initiated in Europe. This is where the Woman in Gold story begins. Maria (Helen Mirren) enlists the help of a friend’s lawyer son, Randy Schoenberg (Ryan Reynolds), and the pair pursue the return of Woman in Gold to its rightful owner.

There were some elements of this film I did not like. Its Hollywood flavour, its intimation that justice can be found only in the USA, the unbelievable passion displayed by the lawyer, and the indisputable monetary attraction of the value the painting: several hundred million dollars.

What did give me food for thought, however, was the parallels Maria’s story draws with reparations to victims of apartheid in South Africa. At one point in the film, Randy asks why Maria is concerned about something that happened so long ago. Her response: “And you think 50 years is a long time?” Likewise, 50 years is not a long time for casualties of apartheid, real people who lost possessions, land and homes.

That Sugar Film and Woman in Gold are on at Cinema Nouveau countrywide.

The final Hobbit resounds with a fitting and exciting finish

A review by Brenda Daniels

Image supplied by Ster Kinekor

                                                              Image supplied by Ster-Kinekor

The Hobbit, a book by J R R Tolkien, was written for children. But this fantasy adventure moves beyond a simple child’s tale into a grand adventure incorporating elements of war, greed, loyalty, bravery and friendship.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is the final instalment in the film trilogy, based on the book, and directed by Peter Jackson. And it includes everything the book does and more.

In this movie, the audience sees the surprising result of the death of the dragon Smaug: a converging of several armies, all wanting a part of the massive treasure contained in the Dwarves’ old home of Erebor. Elf, man, dwarf and wargs meet on a huge scale at the foot of the imposing stronghold and fiercely battle for supremacy.

Meanwhile, Thorin Oakenshield, the leader of the little band of dwarves becomes obsessed with his reclaimed treasure and subsequently neglects his duties and relationships. To avert the catastrophic consequences of war Bilbo the Hobbit uses his magic ring, a precious stone, and a good dose of bravery to broker a peace between man, elf and dwarf. And in the process deepens an important friendship.

The film version incorporates a number of elements of the The Lord of the Rings, tying the two stories together nicely and forming a well-rounded prequel to the brilliant, hugely successful Ring trilogy.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is a resounding and fitting end to the The Hobbit films and is Peter Jackson’s best. Enjoy.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies releases at Ster-Kinekor cinemas and IMAX nationwide on Friday, 12 December. The running time is two hours, 24 minutes.