The last legion

ON CIRCUIT: The good guys are rather down-at-heel in Night Watch and movies showing at the North West film festival.

Day Watch

The follow-up to Russian occult thriller Night Watch and the middle part of a trilogy-to-be, Day Watch deals with the world of “the Others”—those who have supernatural powers but live among what JK Rowling calls Muggles. This magical world also has to be managed by the Night Watch and the Day Watch, representing the Light and the Dark respectively to maintain a balance between the two. Anton (Konstantin Khabensky) discovered in the previous movie that he had wizardly powers; also that he has a son (Dmitri Martynov) with even greater powers, as his girlfriend (Mariya Poroshina) finds out here.
This film resolves much of that business, but leaves the way open for part three. It’s all very exciting, though a little confusing too. This is fantasy with a hard and dirty edge—a distinctly Russian post-Soviet sensibility. The good guys are rather down-at-heel; the bad guys look like the new generation of robber-baron capitalists. There are spectacular set pieces and even the subtitles are more than your standard translation.—Shaun de Waal

Last Legion

It’s about 470AD and the Roman empire is finally on its last legs. As the long-haired Goths take over, brave soldier Colin Firth spirits his charge—Romulus Augustus, the last emperor who is a mere 10 years old (Thomas Sangster)—out of Rome and off to the British Isles. They are accompanied by Ben Kingsley in the Gandalf/Gandhi position, as well as a beautiful Indian warrioress, played by Bollywood star Aishwarya Rai, who looks as though she might burst into song at any moment. That, in fact, would have enlivened the proceedings considerably. Clichés abound, the dialogue is carved in wood and The Last Legion often feels like it was made about 30 years ago. Firth is fun and good at the derring-do, but it’s a pity this isn’t a better vehicle for him to swash a buckle.—SdW

North West film festival

Running from September 14 to 23 across North West, this year’s title is Ke Ya Rona—Setswana for “It is Ours”. South African films on show include Karen Slater’s From Nkoko with Love, Vincent Moloi’s A Pair of Boots and a Bicycle, Jioty Mystry’s I Mike What I Like, Rudi Steyn’s Baas van die Plaas, Khulile Nxumalo’s The House of Credo Mutwa, Teboho Mahlatsi’s Sekalli sa Meokgo, as well as Conversations on a Sunday Afternoon, Bunny Chow and Soldiers of the Rock.

In a tribute to the late Ousmane Sembene, his Moolade will be screened. Nigerian Chico Ejiron’s movie 100 Days in the Jungle also shows, paired with a discussion on the Nigerian film industry. Eight new young filmmakers present four “Proudly North West” short films and eight movies provide a gay and lesbian focus. In a very rich programme, 60 local and international films (documentaries, shorts and feature films) will be screened in Mafikeng, Ngaka Modiri Molema, Bojanala, Bophirima and the Southern districts. For more information visit www.nwff.co.za or call 018 384 3512.

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