OLR – “Confessions of a Gambler”

“Confessions of a Gambler” is let down supremely by weak, wooden performances all round. It’s sad because it’s a very good and strong story, with a great soundtrack.
Some choice shots though; look out for: 1) ceiling-looking-down picking out the main character dressed differently in a sea of worshipping women in a mosque 2) the medium of the main character dressed in black, holding a cigarrette with the Cape mountains behind her.

Thankfully, this is South Africa and not the Middle East, where a shot like that is tolerated and hopefully understood.

Rayda Jacobs wrote the original novel, directed, produced, and acted in the main character. She should have stuck to the first three only.

Posted in Film by minademian

OLR – “The Kids Are Alright”

I haven’t laughed this hard and this deeply in a very long time at the cinema. A funny, well-written, gritty film with an ensemble cast, all giving excellent performances. It’s “American Beauty” the sequel, interestingly with Annette Benning being in both. Sure to offend the Republican sensibilities of the US, it’s still a very real and entertaining film, portraying gay couples as-is, avoiding melodrama or head-bashing.

Posted in Film by minademian

OLRs – from Another Delta Flight

“The Hurt Locker”. Starts off strong but ends like a limp handshake. The slower arthouse version of “Jarhead”. Not Oscar material in any way. The insight into disillusioned soldiers is overdone. The ending borrows from “Home of the Brave”. Did I say borrows? You could safely say, steals unabashedly.

“Crazy Heart”. Good film. Strong performances by Jeff Bridges and Maggie Gyllenhaal. Gyllenhaal brings a lot of vulnerability and openness to the role. Ending is realistic and non-sappy. Yet, not Oscar material. Not a timeless piece, from where I’m standing.

“Inception”. Rewatched this and stayed awake for the final section that I missed last time. Interesting, strong film. Real star here is really the concept or story rather than the actors. It’s the darker, broodier cousin of “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” and “Vanilla Sky”, the one with the morose face and emo haircut. Ending is interesting. Touches of playfulness comes with shots of Marion Coutillard and then Edith Piaff playing in the background. Definitely to own.

“Coco”. The one with Audrey Tatou. Didn’t get to finish this, but very promising. Was interesting to compare and contrast with “Coco and Stravinsky”.

Posted in Film by minademian

OLRs – from A Delta Flight

“Broken Embraces” again. Awesome, sublime. Even on a second viewing when you know how it ends.

“Cairo Time”. Don’t waste your time on this. Couldn’t get past 10 minutes. So crap. Alexander Siddiq can’t even muster a few phrases in Egyptian. And Patricia Clarkson looks like she’s just woken up. A unnecessary excuse for a film.

“Coco and Igor”. Excellent film if not often it becomes about two tortured artists walking around looking morose. But cinematography and acting par excellence. Very arthouse, slow moving, but worth the watch.

“Greenberg”. Molasses pace, but interesting. Cringeworthy performance from Ben Stiller. But insightful. There are lots of people out there who are not glam or ‘cool’, but they go through all the problems of humanity too. If you can get through it, watch it.

Posted in Film by minademian

OLR – “Inception”

The intellectual and philosophical big brother of Michel Gondry’s “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”. Good performances by DiCaprio, Cotillard, and Hewitt-Gordon. Last third of film was tedious, but overall great film. The theme of science being Big Business’s last frontier is relevant and explored it with cold cynicism. Need to watch the film again.

Posted in Film by minademian

OLR – “Burn After Reading”

A really excellent film. Entertaining, well-written, and superbly acted by a cohesive ensemble cast. I can’t believe that Brad Pitt finally did some real acting – shocking. The screenplay is tight and the cinematography is well-lit and expressive.

Posted in Film by minademian

OLR – “Rachel Getting Married”

A really fine film. Anne Hathaway in her finest role that I’ve seen. The characters are well developed and the script is powerfully poignant. As the top note of a perfume, the soundtrack by Zafer Tawil is outstanding. A film to learn from on all levels.

Posted in Film by minademian

From a Line Comes a Idea, Comes a Film

One of the short film concepts I’m working on is one about a woman who finds meaning to her difficult and conflicted life through elaborate rituals at her makeup table. I blogged about this a while back here. [Aside, it’s funny – I posted that exactly a year ago. I will really make this film this year! Stop smirking.]

I mentioned in my last post how my process for fleshing out a film used to be going on a single image or phrase or brain-picture, and going with it. With this film – working title right now I Feel Pretty -, it started out just like that.

It was 2007 and I was sitting in the editing suite at Open Window in Pretoria, waiting for the rendering to finish on my first documentary that I had made in London. I was staring at the wall, then the monitor, then the wall. So, I was looking around for a magazine or someone’s assignment that I could read. (You wouldn’t believe the ish people leave around.) So, I found a piece of paper with some random scribbles and then the following line:

“When I put on my makeup, I feel pretty.”

I’ll try to find the original clipping to verify the exact wording. I found the words nevertheless fascinating and my imagination went for a roadtrip, exploring all the possibilities you could on film with a concept like that.

So, with Victor’s process now in my toolbox, I sat in Mugg ‘n’ Bean Rosebank a week or so ago, and started fleshing out the main characters of the story. I wrote pages and pages of backstory. I feel really confident about the film now; I feel I have a much more solid foundation to work with rather than just a single image or word-image.

I’ve got two people already interested in playing the main characters.

Stay tuned!

Writing with Victor

A couple of weeks ago, I met up with Victor Neusteter to workshop a new script for a project that I was in pre-production for. Yeah. Some background.

So, last year September, a little while before my car accident, I was approached by a young screenwriter studying at a vocational centre for screenwriters. He was looking for a production company to help him produce his film that he had written.

I engaged with him on the project, even as I recovered from the accident and dealt with everything at the time. And so began a long and slow process to transform the script from a sprawling story to something I could put my name and company name on. It wasn’t the best, but I was happy with it as a first project. So, this past January, we officially went into pre-production. We started looking for crew and actors. I started looking for directors.

I had met Victor at an acting workshop earlier this year at Fusion Studio. I got his details and gave him my card. I contacted him later about the project and we met up. I told him about the project and gave him the script. Yeah. He hated it. He wanted to go back to the drawing board with it because he liked the basic idea. I got a second opinion from Suzanne Brenner at ProWrite and she confirmed Victor’s feelings although she felt that we could do something with the basic idea in the original screenplay.

I decided to take the plunge, bring the project back to development stage, and come up with a completely new script.

Background done.

In the quiet and serene silence of Victor’s bachpad, we bashed out the characters and basic plotline. I learnt a lot from him and the time spent. I had gone about my scripts in a far more sporadic fashion before, building it around a single image or idea. Victor’s more methodical and systematic approach gifted me a methodology that I can now apply to any project.  Thanks, Herr Victor!

I don’t want to give away too much right now, but it’s a heist film based in South Africa with a very dark and cynical touch.

Stay tuned!