Showing posts from July, 2011

Movies releasing today

Four very different movies open in South Africa today. With sci-fi encounters to touching drama; animated kiddie fare to feel-good comedies, there's something for everyone. And, of course, if you're in Durban, this is your last few days to check out the additional offerings of the Durban International Film Festival.

Super 8: From the combined creative efforts of J. J. (Lost, Fringe, Star Trek) Abrams and Steven Spielberg comes this hush-hush sci-fi tale about a group of Midwestern teens who, in 1979, are convinced a military train derailment has unleashed an alien presence in their town. Basically the film is a tribute to the likes of Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind and E.T, and it's my pick of this week's new releases.

Super 8 is one of the biggest hits of the 2011 Summer blockbuster season, critically and commercially. The film is 80% Fresh on review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes. While detractors are calling Super 8 an uncreative knock-off exploit…

A lifetime of cartoon viewing: A visual catalogue

One of my pet peeves is people who automatically dismiss animation as kids' stuff. It's kids' stuff so therefore it's automatically uncreative, undemanding and unworthy of attention.

Well, as I recently reflected on my animation viewing habits over the years, it was interesting to discover that I managed to transition from childhood to adulthood watching cartoons all the way. Even as I got older and my entertainment tastes changed, there was always something that spoke to me. Although I'm as guilty as the next person for referring to animation as a genre, truly it is more accurate to describe it as a medium, conveying stories for audiences of all ages.

In chronological order, these are the cartoon series - shortlisted down to essentially one for each year of my life - that have left a mark on me over the past few decades:

Maja the Bee.

Around the World with Willy Fog.

The Wombles.

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.

Rainbow Brite.

Disney's Adventures of the Gummi B…

Midweek Movie Review - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

So, the end is finally here. The final Harry Potter film... until Hollywood decides to reboot the franchise or make a Harry Potter: First Class prequel. Anyway, cynicism aside, I’m pleased to report that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is a fitting conclusion for the franchise, based of course on JK Rowling’s massively successful novels. I don’t think the film is the best Harry Potter adaptation, but it’s definitely among the better series entries.

I personally believe that watching Deathly Hallows Part 1 and 2 back to back would lead to much more balanced and enjoyable viewing experience. This is because while last year’s Part 1 was heavy on character interaction and light on action scenes – in 2 and a half hours Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint) managed to find and destroy just one single Horcrux – Part 2 is, for the most part, heavy on action and light on character.

This is a tad disappointing because you can’t help feeling that the …

Happy 6th Blogiversary, Pfangirl Through The Looking Glass

When it comes to blogging, I will always say that a commitment to regular updating is vitally important, on par with the production of interesting content. As with so many things in life, people come raring out the gates only to give up a few short weeks or months later.

Because I am all about commitment - for better or worse - today marks the 6th birthday of this blog. To celebrate, have some cake on me!

Trailer Tuesday: Contagion

We love a good zombie movie. Whether it's the old school shuffling undead or their hyped up, ultra-fast "Rage" descendants, zombie movies (and TV shows of course) are a fun way to explore our feelings about civilisation-ending cataclysm. How would Mankind respond to an unstoppable, highly contagious and deadly infection? Would morals and community collapse in the face of panic and the development of an unmoderated "every man for himself" mindset? Would the survivors become just as dehumanised as the diseased?

Now, strip zombies out of the scenario - lose the allegorical filter, in other words - and drop in a realistic airborne virus like SARS, Pig or Bird Flu. Suddenly the thrills are a lot less "safe." Suddenly everything is a lot more chilling because it's closer to home. And that's exactly what medical thriller Contagion offers viewers.

Contagion, much like a long incubating cold, is a movie that has crept up on many of us - distracted as we …

Movies out today: Something for everyone

Whether you're in the mood for a drama heavy with ethics commentary, a dark comedy or a good ol' fashioned creepfest, there are 3 big guns hitting South African cinemas this weekend. Of course, if you're in Durban, for the next week and a bit you have dozens of additional movie options thanks to the annual Durban International Film Festival hitting town. Anyway, these are my picks for today:

1) The Bang Bang Club: While a certain embarrassingly crap animated movie is hoarding all the fawning "South Africa on the big screen" press at the moment, a far more intriguing local-set, film makes its debut today. Based on the book of the same name, which is in turn based on a true story, the Bang Bang Club - which is a Canada-SA co-production - focuses on a group of photographers who documented township unrest during the turbulent lead-up to the nation-changing 1994 elections. Taylor Kitsch, Ryan Phillippe and Malin Åkerman are the international stars joining Frank Rautenb…

Watch my TV commercial

My Twitter followers will know that in May I wrote and appeared in a TV commercial, which screened on South African television in June. Well now the commercial is finally online for perusal at your TV-free convenience. Enjoy!

Now let's see if you lot can spot me in the ad, seeing as this time I'm neither blue nor sporting elf ears;)

Echinaforce "Rain" TVC from Tristan Horton on Vimeo.

The Durban International Film Festival is here

It's that time of year again. The Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) is here.

This year marks the 32nd anniversary of South Africa's oldest and biggest film festival. From tomorrow - 21 to 31 July - locals will be treated to 10 days of screenings in cinemas across the city, as well as events, workshops, and of course, being coastal Durban, that always appropriate film festival within a film festival, surfing-themed Wavescape.

Download the full DIFF 2011 brochure (3.6MB).
Alternatively, you can download just the feature film schedule and profiles, or read more about the festival's documentaries here.

From my perspective it's a bit of a so-so year for DIFF. I was hoping for recent Cannes talking pieces like sex drama Sleeping Beauty, mom-son psychological tale We Need To Talk About Kevin and Lars von Trier's latest, Melancholia. However, in their absence, there are still about ten or so high profile films I'm curious to watch at DIFF. Shortlisting down to fiv…

Trailer Tuesday - The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn

From a box office perspective, out of all the films still to be released in 2011, the one I'm most curious about is CGI family adventure The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn. You see, I'm fascinated by the film's possible market appeal.

On the plus side, the project is directed by Steven "Indiana Jones" Spielberg (helming an animated film for the first time) with Peter "Lord of the Rings" Jackson (who plans to direct the Tintin sequel) looking on. You really don't get filmmakers more successful than these bespectacled beardies when it comes to blockbuster adventures. More importantly, The Adventures of Tintin is based on Belgian cartoonist Hergé's beloved comic books, which have entertained hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of readers around the world over the past 80+ years.

For the record, the Tintin comic series centres on the title character, a talented young investigative journalist who, with his dog Snowy, travels to various…