Festival celebrates local film talent

Apollo Film Festival
This festival runs at the Apollo Theatre in the small Karoo town of Victoria West from October 2 to 5. Among the South African films on show (some already released and others as yet unreleased) are Afrikaans teen comedy Bakgat, cricket biopic Hansie, gangster thriller Jerusalema, South Africa’s first stop-frame animation feature Tengers and Michael Raeburn’s gritty adaptation Triomf. Filmmakers who will be present and involved in discussion include Junaid Ahmed (More Than Just a Game), Frans Cronjé (Hansie), Rina Jooste (Betrayed), Tendeka Matatu (Jerusalema), Asivhanzi “Asi” Mathaba (Walk Like a Man), Tiny Mungwe (Akekho Ugogo), Meg Rickards (Land of Thirst), Michael J Rix (Tengers) and Dylan Valley (Hip Hopera). For more info call the festival hotline on 082 858 2015.

Following the furiously brilliant Fight Club, Choke is an adaptation of another Chuck Palahniuk novel in which we follow the life of a recovering sex addict and theme-park worker, Vincent Mancini (Sam Rockwell) and his scamming methods of making money to pay for his mother’s (Anjelica Huston) Alzheimer’s condition.

Vincent has a habit of choking in the presence of rich diners, who then invariably save him and feel obliged to shower him with lifelong sympathy (which translates as cash). A new, attractive doctor (Kelly McDonald) resumes duties at the hospital just as his mother’s condition deteriorates and sensing that she is about to kick the bucket, Vincent becomes desperate to find out more about his family history, especially who his father was.

Choke is inundated with flashbacks, in which we see Vincent as a boy, continuously moving from place to place, being fed random medical jargon that tangles his sense of reality and leaves him paranoid and creepy. Though lacking the pace and wit of Fight Club, Choke is a characteristically dark Palahniukian comedy with poignant, if not unsettling, explorations of sexuality, madness and identity. Love or loathe it, it should raise some eyebrows. — Azad Essa

The House Bunny
With the recent (and inexplicable) popularity of Girls of the Playboy Mansion, it comes as no surprise that Hollywood would want to milk the Playboy franchise for all it’s worth during this (hopefully brief) revitalisation.

Adam Sandler’s production company, Happy Madison, has plastered Playboy’s logo on to the generic romantic-comedy formula, resulting in The House Bunny, a film with an entirely dubious moral message and a surprising lack of nudity considering its inspiration. An aging Bunny (played by the formerly charismatic Anna Faris) is forced to leave the utopian Playboy mansion and, through a contrived series of events, finds herself as a sorority mother for a group of ugly but not outcast college girls. Add a few makeover scenes, some shallow self-discovery for the sake of a love interest and a big speech at the finale and you’ve got yourself a chick-flick that won’t be remembered a year from now. — Shain Germaner

Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Perhaps unable to accept the way his Star Wars prequel trilogy turned out or stubbornly unsatisfied with the amount of money in his bank account, George Lucas has authorised yet another piece of Star Wars-branded merchandise. This one is an animation, dramatising the fantastically uninteresting subject of the “clone wars”: the Dark Side’s secessionist struggle against the Republic.

Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker return (though voiced by newcomers Matt Lanter and James Arnold Taylor, mimicking the live-action originals) and Ashley Eckstein voices Ahsoka Tano, Anakin’s Jedi pupil and coy romantic interest. Christopher Lee voices Count Dooku, however, and Samuel L Jackson again plays Mace Windu, the most stunningly dull character in the history of cinema. The sheer, brain-frazzling pointlessness of it all predominates. — Peter Bradshaw

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