Movies out today: Bad guys and bad girls all the way

The 3 big new releases hitting South African cinemas today are heavy on the bad guy and anti-hero quotient.

Bad Teacher is yet another R-rated comedy to release in 2011. In the film Cameron Diaz returns to the acidic humour (see this and this) that marked the beginning of her career. Here she plays a foul-mouthed, lazy, superficial and all-round awful school teacher, Miss Halsey. Think Bad Santa. Anyway, our "heroine" decides that she needs breast implants if she's ever going to hook a sugar daddy, and so embarks on a twisted fund-raising scheme. Justin Timberlake and Jason Segel co-star as Halsey's teacher colleagues and potential love interests.

Bad Teacher is 45% Fresh on review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes, which means the film has almost split critics equally. Some reviewers are calling Bad Teacher flawed but entertaining thanks to its brashness and blatant refusal to ever "soften" its lead. Other reviewers have dismissed the film as disappointingly tasteless, content simply to milk cheap, lewd gags for laughs. In both cases there has been plenty of praise for Diaz though, who boldly plunges into unlikeablity without losing her charm.

Crime drama has become an increasingly popular genre in South African cinema (hmmm, I wonder why?) and How To Steal 2 Million is the newest addition to the category. Menzi Ngubane stars as Jack, a recently paroled criminal who tries to go legit after 5 years behind bars for robbery. Unfortunately, his treacherous former partner Twala (Rapulana Seiphemo) tempts him with one last score - a heist that will net them R2 million. Of course, the plan goes quickly pear-shaped.

I've yet to read any reviews for How to Steal 2 Million, but I have to say from the trailer it looks pretty damn good, sporting as it does a cast of top local soapie and drama series stars. Sure I've eavesdropped on cinemagoers muttering that R2 million isn't a big enough score, but that gripe is more a sign of the times. It may not sound particularly original but I'd watch a film like How to Steal 2 Million any day over a torturous melodrama, quirky rural tale or musically-saturated Afrikaans romcom.

British crime-actioner London Boulevard also centres on an ex-con trying to go straight. Based on the novel by Ken Bruen, Colin Farrell stars as Mitchell, a recently paroled enforcer for East London crime boss Ray Winstone. While Mitchell attempts to cut ties to his former violent life - and even accepts a job acting as a bodyguard for hounded movie star Charlotte (Keira Knightley) - the mob is intent on drawing him back in to protect their secrets.

Sometimes referred to as RocknRolla meets Notting Hill, London Boulevard is 33% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. Apparently the film starts off strong, and features a great cast, but is never able to establish itself as an original entity. Instead it comes across as a pastiche of multiple British gangster movies, feels increasingly disjointed and eventually has nowhere to go but into violence. Still, there are plenty of cinemagoers out there who will lap this up as they devour any British crime tale - due to their love for English charm, wit and cinematic style.


Zigzig said…
Still haven't seen either of these movies, but keen to watch ,,Bad teacher''. I like the way Cameron Diaz can bring more humor into a movie.

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