Movies out today: US Presidents, Russian nobles and surfing icons

Five new films open in South African cinemas today, including 2 that are up for multiple awards at this year's Academy Awards.

Leading this year's Oscar race with 12 nominations, and a ton of other awards, is this historical drama from director Steven Spielberg. Daniel Day-Lewis plays America's greatest president in the last 4 months of his life - while he struggled to end the Civil War and abolish slavery (by getting the Thirteenth Amendment passed)... as opposed to slaying vampires. Ahem. Anyway, the all-star cast includes Tommy Lee Jones, Sally Field, David Stathairn, James Spader and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

A 2 and a half hour movie centred on people discussing 19th Century politics and human rights? It hardly sounds enthralling, and yet Lincoln is apparently just that. Sporting an aggregated Rotten Tomatoes rating of 90% Fresh, Lincoln is well crafted, thoughtful, surprisingly witty and, of course, brilliantly acted. Read Kervyn's full review.

Chasing Mavericks:
This "inspiring" sports drama is based on the true story of surfer Jay Moriarty (Jonny Weston) and his dream to ride the monster waves at this famous Southern California surf spot. Gerard Butler is the veteran surfer who trains Jay to survive this dangerous endeavour. Also with Elisabeth Shue.

Unsurprisingly, it's the pounding surfing scenes that you'll be watching Chasing Mavericks for. Everything out the water is coming-of-age cliche after cliche. Watchable but bland. 33% Fresh.

The Inbetweeners:
Based on the British TV series of the same name, this comedy chronicles the adventures of a group of 18 year old high school graduates, who celebrate with a vacation in Greece. Cue wild parties, raunchiness and gross-out humour. In the vein of American Pie and Kevin & Perry Go Large.

Depending on how you feel about teenage debauchery, and body fluids on display, you'll either love or hate The Inbetweeners. The film broke records in the UK when it was released (back in 2011). Apparently it has some heart amidst the predictable shenanigans. 54% Fresh.

Klein Karoo:
In this local romantic comedy, Donnalee Roberts plays an Oudtshoorn teacher who dreams of erecting a recreation centre for at-risk children on a local farm. Nobody, not even her rich fiance, is interested in helping her, but then she meets a heart-sore documentary maker (Tim Theron). Screening in Afrikaans.

There aren't any reviews available for Klein Karoo, but I suspect it's the usual genre fluff - harmless but completely predictable and unrealistic.

Anna Karenina:
Screening in limited release is this romantic tragedy based on the classic 19th Century novel by Leo Tolstoy. Keira Knightly stars as the title character, a married Russian noblewoman who embarks on a scandalous love affair with a young cavalry officer (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). Also with Jude Law, Matthew Macfadyen and Emily Watson. From the director of Atonement and Pride & Prejudice.

Anna Karenina may not be flawless - it's bold, stylised visuals and theatrical approach may alienate some viewers - but it's several steps above your standard staid costume drama. Nominated for 4 Oscars, including Best Costume Design, Production Design and Cinematography. 62% Fresh.


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