***** EXCELLENT ****VERY GOOD *** GOOD **AVERAGE * POOR
Film ratings are by Billy Suter or from Internet Movie Data Base. Theatre ratings are by Billy Suter.
Note: Ster-Kinekor, Nu Metro and Suncoast CineCentre display adverts for KwaZulu-Natal cinemas appear at the end of this post.
FILMS NEW ON CIRCUIT IN DURBAN AND SURROUNDS – FROM DECEMBER 28
BEN IS BACK **
Director: Peter Hedges
Stars: Julia Roberts, Lucas Hedges, Courntey B Vance
A drama in which a drug-addicted teenage boy shows up unexpectedly at his family’s home on Christmas Eve.
ROBIN HOOD **
Director: Otto Bathurst
Stars: Taron Egerton, Jamie Foxx, Ben Mendelsohn
A war-hardened Crusader and his Moorish commander mount an audacious revolt against the corrupt English crown in a thrilling action-adventure packed with gritty battlefield exploits, mind-blowing fight choreography, and a timeless romance.
LUIS AND THE ALIENS **
Director: Christoph and Wolfgang Lauenstein
Stars: Callum Maloney, Dermot Magennis, Ian Coppinger
An animated comedy in which an 11-year-old boy befriends three aliens after they crash their spaceship into his house.
Director: Rohit Shetty
Stars: Sara Ali Khan, Raznveer Singh, Ajay Devgn
Simmba, a Corrupt Officer, enjoys all the perks of being an immoral and unethical police officer until a life-changing event forces him to choose the righteous path.
Director: Balaji Tharaneetharan
Stars: Vijay Sethupathi, Archana, J Mahendran
A film loosely based on the life of Seethakathi, a wealthy philanthropist, who had a passion for Tamil literature.
FILMS STILL ON CIRCUIT IN DURBAN AND SURROUNDS
MARY POPPINS RETURNS ****
Director: Rob Marshall
Stars: Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Whishaw
Decades after her original visit, the magical nanny returns to help the Banks siblings and Michael’s children through a difficult time in their lives.
BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY ****
Director: Bryan Singer
Stars: Rami Maslek, Lucy Boynton, Gwilym Lee
A chronicle of the years leading up to British rock group Queen’s legendary appearance at the Live Aid concert in 1985. Wikipedia reports that the film is already the most profitable musical biographical film in history.
Director: Wash Westmoreland
Stars: Keira Knightley, Dominic West, Eleanor Tomlinson
This drama centres on a woman who is pushed by her husband to write novels under his name. Upon their success, she fights to make her talents known, challenging gender norms.
Director: Travis Knight
Stars: Hailee Steinfeld, Dylan O’Brien, Megyn Price
On the run in the year 1987, Bumblebee finds refuge in a junkyard in a small Californian beach town. Charlie, on the cusp of turning 18 and trying to find her place in the world, discovers Bumblebee, battle-scarred and broken.
Director: James Wan
Stars: Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Willem Dafoe
Arthur Curry learns that he is the heir to the underwater kingdom of Atlantis, and must step forward to lead his people and be a hero to the world.
THE GRINCH ***
Stars: Benedict Cumberbatch, Pharrell Williams, Angela Lansbury
Not as good as the film with Jim Carrey, but this animated version of the Dr Seuss classic about redemption and love remains great fun for all ages. The story of a mean, green, furry creature that loathes Chriitmas and tries to stop it… but things do not go to plan.
INSTANT FAMILY ***
Director: Sean Anders
Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Rose Byrne, Isabela Moner
A comedy-drama revolving around a couple that find themselves in over their heads when they foster three children.
FRANK AND FEARLESS ***
Director: Gray Hofmeyr
Stars: Leon Schuster, Themba Ntuli, David Dennis
This latest South African romp has funnyman Schuster as an ageing reprobate who, with a rural boy, a large dog and an orphaned baby rhino sets out to stop rhino slaughter. Their quest takes them through hysterically funny situations as well as times of tragedy, and they end up an inspiration and a conscience to a world in need of heroes.
THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD ***
Director: David Yates
Stars: Eddie Redmayne, Jude Law, Dan Folgler, Johnny Depp
The second installment of the Fantastic Beasts series set in J K Rowling’s Wizarding World, featuring the adventures of magizoologist Newt Scamander.
RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET ***
Director: Phil Johnston and Rich Moore
Stars: John C Reille, Sarah Silverman, Gal Gadot
An animated adventure in which, six years after the events of Wreck-It Ralph, Ralph and Vanellope, now friends, discover a wi-fi router in their arcade, leading them into a new adventure.
SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE ***
Director: Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey
Stars: Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson
This animated film has Miles Morales becoming the Spider-Man of his reality and crossing paths with his counterparts from other dimensions to stop a threat to all reality.
Director: Aanand L Rai
Stars: Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan, Katrina Kaif
The story revolves around Bauua Singh (Shah Rukh Khan), a vertically challenged man, who is full of charm and wit, with a pinch of arrogance. He is born to a wealthy family and raised in an environment of affluence.
CREED II **
Director: Steven Caple jnr
Stars: Michael B Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson
Under the tutelage of Rocky Balboa, light heavyweight contender Adonis Creed faces off against Viktor Drago, son of Ivan Drago.
ELLIOT THE LITTLEST REINDEER **
Director: Jennifer Westcott
Stars: Josh Hutcherson,John Cleese
When Blitzen announces his retirement on December 21, a miniature horse has three days to fulfill his lifelong dream of earning a spot on Santa’s team at the North Pole try-outs. An animated movie.
SECOND ACT **
Director: Peter Segal
Stars: Vanessa Hudgens, Jennifer Lopez
A romantic comedy about a big-box store worker who reinvents her life and her life-story and shows Madison Avenue what street smarts can do.
MORTAL ENGINES **
Director: Christian Rivers
Stars: Hera Hilmer, Hugo Weaving
In a post-apocalyptic world where cities ride on wheels and consume each other to survive, two people meet in London and try to stop a conspiracy.
Director: Abhishek Kapoor
Stars: Sushant Singh Rajput, Sara ali Khan, Nitish Bharadwaj
A Hindu-Muslim love story, Kedarnath portrays how a Muslim pithoo saves a Hindu tourist from the Uttrakhand floods at the pilgrimage, and the love that eventually develops between them.
NOBODY’S FOOL **
Director: Tyler Perry
Stars: Tiffany Haddish, Courtney Henggeler, Missi Pyle
A woman is released from prison and reunites with her sister. She soon discovers that her sister is in an online relationship with a man who may not be what he seems..
NIGHT SCHOOL **
Director: Michael D Lee
Stars: Kevin Hart
A film about a group of troublemakers forced to attend night school in the hope that they will pass exams to finish high school.
NOW ON STAGE IN DURBAN AND SURROUNDS
An excellent revival of the powerful satirical protest theatre piece from the 1980s, featuring original performers and creators of the play, Percy Mtwa and Mbongeni Mgema, both on fine form under the direction of Christopher John. Running without an interval for what seems like a very quick 90 minutes, Woza, Albert has simultaneously long been one of the country’s finest examples of protest theatre and a lustrous showcase for exemplary, imaginative acting. Still topical, the play covers topics of racism, poverty and inequality – highlighted via a number of everyday South African characters, all played by the hard-working Ngema and Mtwa. Until the end of December. Booking is at Computicket. (BS)
(Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre, Durban)
Another glittering panto success, the 14th from Durban’s KickstArt theatre company, directed with flair and fun by Steven King and impeccably designed by Greg King. Running until January 6, the show stars sweet newcomer Roshanda Lewis ii the name role and Darren King and Bryan Hiles as the ugly sisters in a parade of outrageous frocks. Mthokozisi Zulu as Cinderella’s loveable pal and secret admirer, Buttons. Allyou want in a panto is here – from the One Finger, One Thumb, Keep Moving line song to sentiment, slapstick and singalong (the dreaded Baby Shark song, complete with actions, this year).Jacob Zuma, Julius Malema, Eskom, the Guptas, loadshedding, Lady Gaga, The Playhouse, The Rhumbelow Theatre, data packages… all come in for a good-natured ribbing in a production that features musical direction by Evan Roberts and Jason Bird, and sound design by Ross van Wyk. Ticket prices for Cinderella range from R140 to R240 each. Booking is at Computicket outlets. Oh, and note that the theatre has its own generator so loadshedding should pose no problems. (BS)
TWICE UPON A MATTRESS – THE STORY OF THE PRINCESS AND THE P
(OnStage@Altitude, Silver Road, Stamford Hill, Durban)
Seasoned panto star Thomie Holtzhausen has written and directed, and stars as a king and queen, in Durban’s 22nd annual naughty panto, a frothy load of slapstick, song, satire and naughty fun, very loosely centred on the fairy tale. The cast includes an on-form Jaziel Vaugh’hann as assorted drag queens, Mpilo ‘Straw’ Nzimande as Prince Ample and exciting newcomer Philisiwe Ntintili as the princess and a fairy. The panto is staged from 7.30pm to 9.30pm every Wednesday to Saturday. Patrons are encouraged to take along their own picnic baskets or snacks, but drinks must be bought at the venue’s small pub. Tickets cost R150 each but lower-priced performances have been scheduled for the Mondays December 3, 10 and 24, when tickets cost R100 each. Additionally, there is one Tuesday performance on December 18, for which tickets cost R150 each. For further information, or to book as a group, contact Thomie of It’sTaboo Production at 064 476 9533. Online bookings can be done via Quicket. (BS)
NEW YEAR WITH BARRY THOMSON AND FRIENDS
(Rhumbelow Theatre, Tina’s Hotel, Beryldene Road, Kloof)
Barry Thomson, Dawn Selby, Andy Turrell, Adrian Wilson and Marion Loudon present highlights from shows by The Reals this year. Expect songs associated with Fleetwood Mac, Dire Straits, Neil Diamond and others. At 8pm nightly from December 27 to 29, 2pm on December 30 and 9pm on December 31. Tickets cost R150 and can be booked at Computicket or by phoning 082 499 8636. (BS)
BEST OF DECADES
(Rockwood Theatre, Sibaya Casino, near Umhlanga)
Showcasing a vibrant parade of chart-topping hits from the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and today, this showband entertainment features Durban talents Andrew Webster, Calli Thomson, Kirsty van der Linde and Dylan van der Linde, among others. The theatre opens at 6.30pm – meals are on sale at the venue – with the show commencing at 8pm Thursdays to Saturdays. Tickets cost only R99 each on Thursdays, and R130 each for other performances, but half price for pensioners at the 2pm Sunday matinee performances, when under-12s get in free. (BS)
Below are this week’s ads for KwaZulu-Natal from Ster-Kinekor, Nu Metro and Suncoast CineCentre.