Feldman @ the flicksPeter Feldman
Peter Feldman: A mixed bag on offer this week with a heist, an attack of prehistoric piranhas, and an unfunny look at the jihad movement.
Cast: Paul Walker, Matt Dillon, Idris Elba, Michael Ealy, Hayden Christensen, Zoe Saldana, TI Harris
Director: John Luessenhop
In a mediocre week, where films on offer range from giant piranhas in 3-D to a father-and-son bonding badly on a road trip, there’s one production that will provide an entertaining diversion for adrenalin junkies.
It’s a glossy heist story called “Takers” and there are echoes here of Danny Ocean and his crew of glamorous, high-tech’s thieves. It borrows freely from others of its ilk, but it still manages to make an independent statement.
The gallery of characters who parade through John Luessenhop’s film are professional thieves who dress well, drive fast, up-market cars and bikes and aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty.
These smart career criminals have baffled the police for years. Their bank robberies are perfect in every detail and are executed with military precision.
After a lengthy lay-off, the crew find themselves coaxed back into action at the insistence of a former member who suggests they tackle their last elaborate heist which is worth millions.
But they have only a few days in which to plan it all, a situation which brings its own set of challenges. Apart from having to deal with untrustworthy “inside” contacts, there is also the appearance of a cynical and overworked cop, (Matt Dillon), to add to their increasing woes. Tough and belligerent, he is hot on their trail and he won’t rest until he brings these thieves to justice.
The cast assembled for this production is a mixed bunch; a clutch of some familiar names who enjoy flexing some muscle. British actor, Idris Elba, plays the leader and co-founder of the gang, who is at the centre of it all. Nobody makes a move without his approval and he cuts a patriarchal figure among the group. He is blessed with an imposing screen presence.
Surrounding him are a group of some of Hollywood’s more attractive young men and these include the always reliable Paul Walker, Hayden Christensen, Chris Brown (whose involved in a terrific street chase) and Michael Ealy.
Full marks to Matt Dillon, though, for sticking to his guns, so to speak. The tough man of the movies hardly puts a foot wrong in a fast-paced, ever-changing scenario.
“Takers” may not constitute best heist escapade you’ve ever seen, but it is imbued with spirit and is visually appealing to the eye. It boasts a number of chaotic gun battles, with much of the action executed in slow-motion John Woo-style, and moments of sharp dialogue exchanges.
Cast: Elisabeth Shue, Richard Dreyfuss; Ving Rhames; Christopher Lloyd; Eli Roth; Jerry O'Connell; Steven R McQueen; Jessica Szohr
Director: Alexandre Aja
The resurgence of 3-D has rarely been put to better use than with “Piranha,” a chomping, cheesy gore-fest in which a veracious pack of prehistoric piranha fish lay siege to a fun-filled Spring Break at Lake Victoria in Arizona.
It’s not a pretty sight - unless you are a voyeur and enjoy the many naked boobs on display - watching young people being eaten alive by this menace from the deep.
Every year the population of sleepy Lake Victoria explodes during Spring Break; a riot of sun and drunken fun. But this year, there's something more to worry about than hangovers and complaints from local old timers; A new type of terror is about to be cut loose after a sudden underwater tremor sets free scores of the prehistoric man-eating fish.
Naked bodies in soft porn mode, and loads of orchestrated panic of the kind Spielberg conjured up so successfully with “Jaws” in the ‘70s, form the flesh and bones, so to speak, of this adventure ride.
A handful of familiar names, including veteran screen stars Richard Dreyfuss and Christopher Lloyd, put in brief appearances. Dreyfuss is a replica of the Matt Hopper character he played in “Jaws” where he is fishing at his favourite spot, singing the same “Show Me the Way to Go Home,” song when disaster struck. It was a cunning move here on the part of the filmmakers.
Elisabeth Shue, still an attractive sight even in a Sheriff’s uniform, plays Julie Forester, a working mother who must contend with her rebellious older son, her two other younger children, a horde of Spring Break revellers participating in all kinds of debauchery and the unexpected arrival of piranha searching for human bait.
The jokes are sick, very sick in fact, with viewers treated to various body parts flying at them through the magic of 3D.
Don’t get hooked with this one – unless you’re totally bored and having nothing else to do.
Cast: Riz Ahmed, Nigel Lindsay, Adeel Akhtar
Director: Chris Morris
Four Lions is an insensitive black comedy in appallingly bad taste that will succeed, if anything, in putting the wind up the Muslim population.
It draws its laughs from the antics of a sorry group of fanatics whose dream is to join the jihad, fervently believing they will go straight to heaven if they die for the cause and take as many innocent people with them as possible.
In the light of the London bombings and the death and destruction caused by these men in other parts of the world, Chris Morris’ “Four Lions” comes at a time when the subject is a highly sensitive issue. It is no laughing matter.
The focus is on a faceless British city, where four shambolic individuals are plotting a reign of terror. Omar (Riz Ahmed) is disillusioned about the treatment of Muslims around the world and is determined to become a soldier. This is an exciting concept to Waj (Kayvan Novak) who in his ignorance is prepared to follow him all the way. The best part of the deal is that he doesn’t have to use his brain, a situation which suits him completely because he doesn’t possess one. Omar does all his thinking for him.
Opposed to Omar and everyone else on the planet is the white Islamic convert Barry (Nigel Lindsay). He had joined the cell to channel his own nihilism, but is as incompetent and stupid as the rest of the unholy crew.
The odd man out is Faisal (Adeel Akhtar). He is adept at making a bomb – but he is unable to blow himself up at the moment because his sick dad has “started eating newspaper”. Instead he’s training crows to fly bombs through windows, which is another one of the bird-brained schemes the production happily embraces.
The film draws its so called humour from characters’ conflicts, excesses and mistakes and watching them plan an assault on the London Marathon disguised in absurd costumes only serves to emphasise the feeling that “Four Lions” is an uncomfortable cinematic experience. This is the kind of reality that is really no joke.
Cast: Jeff Bridges, Justin Timberlake, Kate Mara, Harry Dean Stanton, Mary Steenburgen.
Director Michael Meredith
Jeff Bridges has made some very good films in his time. He has also made some pretty poor ones, too. “Open Road” is one of them.
This meandering and tedious tale about father and son bonding never strikes the right chord. Bridges plays a stereotypical and predictable character named Kyle Garrett who has little focus in his life now that his star-studded baseball career is over.
He teams up here with pop heart-throb Justin Timberlake, who plays the son Carlton, a budding baseball star, but the relationship is doomed from the start.
The reason for the two getting together is that Carlton’s mother, Katherine (Mary Steenburgen), is about to have a life-threatening heart operation and wants her son to find his father, from whom she has been divorced for a number of years.
Knowing his father’s propensity for letting the family down, Carlton enlists the aid of his ex-girlfriend, Lucy (Kate Mara), for emotional support.
It’s a rocky road to reconciliation and even with the talents of Jeff Bridges, Mary Steenburgen and a non-singing Justin Timberlake this production never manages to hit a home run.
Life As We Know It:
Cast: Josh Duhamel, Katherine Heigl, Hayes MacArthur, Christina Hendricks
Director Greg Berlanti
Holly Berenson (Katherine Heigl) is an up-and-coming caterer and Eric Messer (Josh Duhamel) is a promising network sports director. After a disastrous first date, the only thing they have in common is their dislike for each other and their love for their goddaughter, Sophie. But when they suddenly become all Sophie has in the world, Holly and Messer are forced to put their differences aside. Juggling career ambitions and competing social calendars, they'll have to find some common ground while living under one roof.
Peter Feldman has been a journalist and arts critic for over 45 years and served on The Star in various capacities for 35 years, ending up as a specialist writer on films, music and theatre. During that time he travelled extensively on assignments and interviewed many international film and pop stars, both in South Africa and overseas. He also covered some of South Africa's biggest film and musical events. He is active in the freelance field and his work over the past 10 years has appeared in a variety of South African newspapers and magazines. He writes regularly for Artslink.co.za, The Citizen, South African Jewish Report, The Sunday Independent and is a contributor to "Eat Out" Magazine. He also contributes movie reviews to Chai fm Radio and has worked on TV in his specialist capacity. Over the years Feldman has been the recipient of several awards for his contribution to music journalism and the SA record industry. He wrote lyrics for some top artists, including Sipho Mabuse, and had a hit disco single, "Video Games," which was released in 1988. After retiring from The Star in April, 1999, Feldman joined the PR and events management company, Dlamini Weil Communications, where he currently works as an entertainment and media consultant.