Movies today, South Africa: Sexing up the Green Zone

Something like 7 new movies open in South Africa today. In limited release you can catch a theatrical production of opera Armida recorded for the screen, and French musical drama Paris/Faubourg 36 (59% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes).

For the kids there's CGI-animated sequel Space Chimps 2: Zartog Strikes Back, full of primate silliness - and now in 3D.

It's actually a good weekend for movie silliness, as along with Space Chimps, there's Gentlemen Broncos (19% Fresh), a comedy from the director of Napoleon Dynamite and Nacho Libre about a teenage loner whose fiction writing is plagiarised by a popular fantasy novelist.

More importantly, there's a new movie out today from South Africa's very own master of silliness, Leon Schuster. Schuks Tshabalala's Survival Guide to South Africa doesn't mess with the comedic formula that so many undemanding (or brain dead?) South Africans lap up year after year. This time the candid camera tomfoolery is given a Football World Cup theme - as the title character is a tour guide keen to show foreign visitors the crazy reality of life in SA.

Anyway, while there's a very good chance that Schuks will be the big winner at the local box office this weekend, my movie picks for today are as follows:

1) Sex & the City 2: Now while I loved the bittersweet (and very saucy) comedy TV series that spawned this sequel and the original film, I've never had time for the S&TC movies. Maybe it's because my severe allergic reaction to Sarah Jessica Parker kicked in about 3 years ago. Maybe it's because I can't stomach sitting through 2 and half hour romantic comedies that are essentially just really long TV episodes. Maybe it's just because of that disturbing "Carrie is an alien" teaser poster. Or maybe it's just that I can't stand all the sequins and general overblown "Fabulousness!" of everything. Regardless, I won't be watching S&TC2... although I'm sure hundreds of thousands of women, just as many gay men and even some straight guy fans will be excited about this one.

Set two years after the events of the first movie, S&TC2 continues the romantic adventures of 40- and 50-somethings Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), Samantha (Kim Cattrall) and Charlotte (Kristin Davis). This time the four feisty and "Fabulous!" friends leave behind their free-spirited existences in New York City and head to Abu Dhabi where cultures seriously clash. Oh, and Aidan (John Corbett), Carrie's other great love, pops up to complicate matters further.

S&TC2 is currently a pitiful 9% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. Sifting through the vitriol, the most valid complaint seems to be that the second film has completely removed the characters from reality and relatability. Other adjectives thrown around about the film include "self-indulgent," "overlong," "forced" and "tasteless." Whether the movie is truly as bad as reviews suggest, is debatable - S&TC seems to be at the receiving end of a worse backlash than Twilight. This in turn isn't unexpected, really, seeing as entertainment targeted at female audiences is often subjected to ridicule - whether truly deserved or not. Anyway, you have been warned...

2) Green Zone: Looking at the poster below, you might be mistaken into believing Green Zone is another Jason Bourne movie. Well, it kind of is. This action thriller reunites star Matt Damon with his Bourne director Paul Greengrass (responsible for The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum). Green Zone, however, is based on an award-winning non-fiction book about American forces in the chaotic first days of the 2003 Iraqi War - when the quest for Weapons of Mass Destruction was already proving fruitless... and suspicious. Damon plays a warrant officer who vows to uncover the truth as he and his men risk their lives on a deadly, booby-trapped goose chase. Greg Kinnear, Jason Isaacs and Brendan Gleeson also appear in the film.

Green Zone is 54% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes - which is a just so-so rating. Apparently the film is a a tad on the heavy handed side when it comes to conspiracy and anti-authority themes. At the same time though, Green Zone is as gritty, gripping and outstandingly paced as the Bourne movies. A blockbuster with a brain, this one should please viewers in the mood for something a little closer to real world issues... and frustrations. Something makes me think a lot less people will be walking out of this one than The Hurt Locker.


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