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Some of the Most Memorable Romantic Films of All-Time...


You're never going to get any two movie lovers to agree on a list of the best films of any genre. For instance, science fiction fans were thrilled to find out that a sci-fi film, The Shape of Water, won the 2018 Oscars while Vegas casino film-goers who don't enjoy science fiction were appalled.

Yet among dedicated movie buffs there is a level of agreement regarding some romantic movies that are generally accepted as being at the top of the pile.

Some of those include:

The Americanization of Emily

The Americanization of Emily was released in 1964. James Garner plays a WWII naval officer who does everything possible to remove himself from battle in his struggle to stay alive. He often hides out in the London flat of his navy buddy (James Coburn) where he falls in love with a war widow (Julie Andrews). When Garner is chosen to land on Omaha beach in D-Day's initial landing party he redeems himself and earns Emily's respect and love.

One of the reasons that this film resonates with so many people is that it puts all the romantic clichés to test --heroism on the battlefield, self-sacrifice and loyalty in the bedroom. Emily lost her father, husband and brother in World War II but she continues to believe in service to country even while trying to avoid the cultural complicity that pushes men to be heroes.

Brokeback Mountain

This movie, set against the sweeping landscapes of Texas and Wyoming, tells the tale of two young men -- a rodeo cowboy and a ranch-hand who meet in the summer of 1963 during a cattle drive. They forge a lifelong relationship despite its complications and tragedies, providing a testament to the power and endurance of love, however unconventional.

The romantic drama ranks 12th among the highest-grossing movies of this genre. Ennis Del Mar is in love with Jack Twist. Ennis is stoic and closed while Jack is open. Jack envisions life with Ennis but Ennis is reticent, fearing a love that goes against convention and normative boundaries.

The two secretive lovers call their bond “a goddam bitch of an unsatisfactory situation"; which is further complicated by the fact that both are married and don't have any idea of how to relate to their wives, especially after their affair begins.

Jack's blend of naivete and savvy contrasts with Ennis's repression that actor Heath Leger portrays by constantly clenching his jaw. This movie doesn't have a happy ending but it's a life lesson that shows how innocuous youthfulness gives way to austere, hard maturity.

Casablanca

In many ways Casablanca is the classic by which all other romantic stories are compared. The WWII movie starred Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Berman, Peter Lorre, Claude Rains, Paul Henreid and Sydney Greenstreet, the A-listers of the '40s who created a masterpiece that not only gave viewers a great love story but also stirred up patriotism and gave audiences a sense of hope in the dark days when the Allies were struggling against the Axis powers.

The action takes place in Casablanca where Rick Blaine (Humphry Bogart) runs a nightclub. Rick is cynical and jaded but his patriotism is tested when he comes into possession of two letters of transit which could offer someone the chance to escape from Nazi-ruled Casablanca and travel to neutral Portugal.

Nazi Major Strasser, in the meantime, is pursuing Victor Laslow, a Czechoslovakian underground leader. Lazlo's wife, Ilsa, was an old flame of Ricks and they still carry a flame for each other. The pair consider using the letters of transit to run off together but Rick's patriotism wins out and in the end he sends Ilsa on the plane with her husband as he develops his own plans to join the struggle against the Nazis.

Movie critics have always regarded Casablanca as the romance by which all other films should be measured. There are no pat, happy endings in this film but it captures all of the pathos of a couple in love who must think of the bigger picture before they consider their own happiness.

Love Story

If you came of age in the '70s you are probably familiar with this story that explores how true love can endure. The movie is based on a book by Erich Segal that tells the story of Oliver Barrett IV, a preppy Harvard student who falls in love with Jenny, working class girl. Against his upper crust parents'; wishes they get married and struggle as Oliver studies at law school.

Jenny fails to conceive and the tests show that it's because she has cancer. Oliver's devastation and devotion are chronicled throughout her last months and death. The movie is regarded as a classic that showed how love changes a person for the better -- even though the finale isn't always the way that we'd want it to end.

An Officer and a Gentleman

An Officer and a Gentleman is a true feel-good film that packs all the elements of a good story into an hour and a half film. Richard Gere plays Zack Mayo who aspires to be a navy pilot. He's aloof but at the training camp for his 13-week officer's course he becomes involved in an affair with working girl Paula Pokrifi (Debra Winger).

Zack is as closed as a person can get but when his best friend Sid commits suicide over an unhappy romance, Paula helps Zack to realize the importance of opening up. Slowly he begins to learn how to give of himself to the benefit of those around him and himself.

 
"Movie Review": Royal Wedding (2018)


The Royal Wedding (2018) is a romance drama starring Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. The much-anticipated sequel to The Royal Wedding (2011), starring Prince William and Kate Middleton, has been a long time coming with the production stuck in development.

The leads, Harry and Meghan, have excellent chemistry, delivering down-to-earth performances and generating some smouldering heat. Markle is probably best known for her role in Suits, while former child star Prince Harry has made a number of regular appearances in tabloids. While somewhat slow-moving, it's a heartfelt creation boosted by earnest performances and some fun cameos from George Clooney and David Beckham.

Somewhat eclectic, the wardrobe is largely traditional and respectable, with some quirky touches, including a fascinating array of hats among the guests.

A lively gospel choir insert and an inspirational sermon by a surprise performer cleverly counter-balance moments of stuffy stiff-collaredness. Thankfully The Royal Wedding isn't overly preachy, playing to its universal theme of love and hope. The soundtrack fits the genre perfectly without becoming overpowering with highlights including three particularly stirring cello pieces.

The Royal Wedding (2018) is a real treat, playing to its target audience's expectations of fairy tale romance with fitting decorum and elegant charm. While the production isn't in line with Disney, it's harmless and has a similar ebb-and-flow in terms of the consistency of its feel good tone.

While the car chase and action sequences are by-and-large underwhelming, they are beautifully filmed, and this production plays to its core strengths, offering an entertaining and inspiring occasion for those wanting to cherish pristine, well-to-do and historical moments of life celebrated on the world stage.

 
7 Upcoming Movies for 2018


Movie fans often turn to online games in the weeks and months between the new Hollywood releases. Summer is almost here and the movies that we've been hearing about for the past few months are due to be released, offering entertainment for viewers of all tastes and interests.

Some of the more intriguing upcoming releases include:

Fishbowl California

Michael McRae directs Fishbowl California, a movie that shows how hope and positivity can arise out of what seems to be a desperate situation. Rodney (Steve Oldson) hasn't held a job in quite a while. He find out that his girlfriend Tess is cheating on him and he leaves the house and wanders around in a distraught state of mind.

When his car dies he simply falls asleep right behind the wheel. The next morning the neighbor in front of whose house his car stalled (June, played by Katherine Cortez) wakes him up. June is a widow who is dealing with her own despair through alcohol.

June puts Rodney to work and the accidental meeting starts to change both of their lives for the better.

Fishbowl California is billed as a Comedy/Drama that also stars Katrina Bowden, Kate Flannery and Richard Riehle. The movie is still in production and no release date has been determined.

Life of the Party

Life of the Party is due to be released on May 11th. The feel-good film focuses on housewife Deanna whose life is turned upside down when her husband dumps her after years of marriage and household and childcare duties.

Deanna decides to reset her life and goes back to college where she finds herself in her daughter's classes. Her daughter, as can be expected, isn't thrilled but Deanna plunges straight into the campus experience, becoming increasingly outspoken  as she embraces fun, freedom and frat boys The new "Dee Rock" also finds herself as she completes her degree and sets out on an adventure of independence and self-reliance.

The hilarious Melissa McCarthy plays Deanna with strong supporting roles by Debby Ryan, Adria Ariona and Julie Bowden.

Solo: A Star Wars Story

Solo: A Star Wars Story is a long-awaited Star Wars prequel that explores the backstory of Han Solo and his lovable sidekick Chewbacca. Ever since the first Star Wars film was released in 1977 viewers have wanted to know more about Han Solo, the beloved scoundrel who joined the forces of good to battle Darth Vader and the Dark Side.

Solo: a Star Wars Story is due in movie theatres on May 24th. Fans are eagerly awaiting answers to 40-year-old questions – how did Han meet Chewbacca and notorious gambler Lando Calrissian?

It's fitting that Disney Studios has taken this project on since the Disney brand of fantasy that combines with fun and suspense will most likely be the best vehicle to flesh out this story.

It's been allowed to slip that the studio has already signed Alden Ehrenreich, the young actor who is playing Han Solo, for two more Han Solo movies so audiences can start preparing themselves to see a lot more of the Han Solo saga.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Movie aficionados who enjoy sequels will have another opportunity to see the follow-up to a time-honored classic with Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. The Jurassic Park franchise is now under the capable direction of J.A. Bayona with new stars and old favorites returning to the Jurassic world of cloned dinosaurs.

The movie is due out on June 7 and follows Owen and Claire who return to Isla Nublar to save the dinosaurs from a once-dormant volcano that has become active. If the volcano spews, all life, including the remaining dinosaurs, will be extinguished and Owen and Claire want to prevent that from happening.

During the visit Owen searches for Blue, his beloved raptor from the original movie. In the process he discovers a conspiracy that has the potential to disrupt the natural order of the entire planet.

Ocean's 8

Another sequel that has the fans sitting on the edge of their seats is Ocean's 8, a continuation of the exploits of some of the most daring (and good-looking) thieves on the planet. The star-studded cast is sure to draw audiences in droves – the movie stars Cate Blanchett, Dakova Fanning, Olivia Munn, Matt Damon, Anne Hathaway, Sandra Bullock, Richard Armitage, Helena Bonham Carter, Sarah Paulson, Jamie King, Katie Holmes, Mindy Kaling, Rihanna, James Corden and Kylie Jenner.

Once again, a group of beautiful people, led by Danny Ocean's estranged sister Debbie, attempt to pull off a heist at New York City's Met Gala.

Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation

If Adam Sandler and Mel Brooks are listed in a movie's credits, you know that it's going to be a wild ride. That's what you can expect from Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation in which the beloved characters of the Hotel Transylvania franchise come back to vacation together.

Genndy Tartakovsky directs this animated adventure in which the monster family takes a break from giving other travelers a vacation and sets out on their own travels in a luxury monster cruise ship.

Almost immediately Dracula meets Erica, the ship captain and Mavis tries to keep the 2 lovebirds apart. Erica's instincts turn out to be right-on because it turns out that Erica is actually a descendant of Abraham Van Helsing, ancient nemesis to all monsters – including Dracula.

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

How could anything go wrong with a cast that includes Meryl Streep, Lily James, Amanda Seyfried, Cher, Julie Walters, Colin Firth, Pierce Brosnan, Christine Baranski, Andy Garcia and other A-listers.

This is another 2018 sequel but it's one that seems destined to deliver the kind of entertainment that viewers want. As daughter Sophie moves through her own pregnancy, Meryl Streep's character Donna – played as a young Donna by Lily James – reminisces about her own pregnancy with Sophie and her romances with the men that became a part of her life.

The movie is due out in July and includes all of the musical entertainment that audiences remember from Mamma Mia.

 
Silver Screens Need to Go Green


When the lights come on after the credits have rolled, one is used to seeing coated paper cups, popcorn boxes, 3D glasses, sweet wrappers and ticket stubs strewn about the cinema. With hundreds of thousands going to cineplexes to help Hollywood blockbusters break box office records, you can only imagine how much waste is being produced every day, week and month. What happens to this packaging and waste between screenings and where does it all end up?

Cineplexes are starting to gravitate towards employing green initiatives. For instance, it's reported that the Linway Cinema in Goshen, Indiana have adopted a pioneering recycling programme, are reducing their carbon footprint through energy efficient technologies, reducing their water consumption and using environmentally friendly cleaning products. They are doing this by recycling beverage bottles, cardboard, batteries and bulbs, while installing low demand toilets and energy efficient light fixtures.

Silver Screens Need to Go Green - Movie Theatres Recycling

Movie theatres have predictable waste streams, which means that they are much more in control of what gets consumed and the means by which it gets consumed... So why aren't more adopting eco-friendly policies around waste management and going green in an age when reducing, reusing and recycling is becoming necessary rather than nice.

In South Africa, many malls and businesses are using recycling bins at various exchanges and encouraging customers to separate their waste. This shows some promise, but whether consumers are complying or not is another story. What can and can't be recycled is a big part of the reason why many of these recycling bins become contaminated with non-recyclable waste and ultimately fail, or become unmanageable.

When asked about their recycling policies... Nu Metro and Ster-Kinekor, the two biggest cinema chains in South Africa, weren't able to or failed to comment. Visiting a number of their cinema sites, chances are you won't find recycling bins. They also continue to use plastic lids and straws in their drinks and from the looks of their general refuse bags, it seems as though there isn't a recycling policy at play. Whether they're using waste management services who take care of the sorting and recycling of these bags at their numerous cineplexes across the country remains to be seen. Their silence on the matter would suggest that recycling and green initiatives are not a priority right now.

As a concerned global citizen living in a city that has been forced to become environmentally-conscious during an on-going water crisis, it's becoming clear that we need to be pro-active rather than re-active. While Cape Town's water-saving initiatives could have been implemented years ago, let's hope that this learning can be applied across the environmental spectrum and serve as an example.

Consumers have the purchasing power and leverage to demand change, whether immediate or gradual, from the companies they support. Businesses that adopt better environmental policies realise it's not only good from a public relations point-of-view, but leads the way for other businesses and creates awareness about issues that will have both direct and far-reaching consequences for everyone.

For movie theatre chains, reverse engineering their controlled environments can force their product suppliers to comply and hopefully result in massive savings in terms of packaging, printer ink, electricity and water utilities. Moreover, introducing in-house discount programmes could result in more effective marketing and customer loyalty.

Here are some simple ideas that movie theatres can employ in order to recycle, reduce waste, minimise their carbon footprint and become more energy-efficient.

Lids and straws...

Most plastic lids and straws are non-recyclable and are thought to take between 450 and 1000 years to decompose. Many local restaurants are opting to serve beverages with glass or paper straws, or in some cases not openly offering or forcing customers to rely on the plastic variant. Movie theatres would probably argue that they serve drinks in cups with plastic lids and straws in order to prevent spills and cut down on cleaning costs. An effective solution would be to provide recyclable paper cups, compostable lids and paper straws - products that would become cheaper the more mainstream they become.

Recyclable cups or bottles...

Some coffee stores provide their customers with the option of using or buying a Keepcup, a product which enables coffee drinkers to return with their own cup and receive a discount instead of having the store provide a takeaway cup or be required to wash their own cups. Surely cinemas could employ a similar tactic, using it as a branding exercise and as a way for customers to get a discount on confectionery stand items, which already have a substantial markup? Or if they aren't already, using compostable drink cups could make all the difference without having to do away with the traditional soda fountain machines.

Cardboard boxes...

While most cardboard boxes should be recyclable, something should be said about the amount of popcorn that gets wasted. Filling the box to the brim makes it look more generous to have popcorn spilling out, but it would be far more sensible for the full line to be a few centimetres down. While it may not look as pleasing to the eye, it'd be much easier to carry and would result in fewer spills. Allowing patrons to opt for half a box of popcorn could also reduce the waste.

Reuse 3D glasses...

Films like Avatar may have been good for creating awareness around the environment on a subconscious level but were also responsible for introducing millions of pairs of 3D glasses. While IMAX boast that their glasses can be washed up to 500 times, most 3D glasses are only used and washed a few times. Cinemas charge a nominal fee to include 3D glasses as part of the offering, but they should rather be charging a refundable deposit for glasses that are returned for recycling and repackaging. Or failing that, encouraging cinema goers to make use of their 3D glasses several times before recycling them. Damaged 3D glasses can be reduced to pellets for use in the plastic industry but with the continued growth of 3D films, it seems almost necessary for cinemas to offer high-quality 3D glasses that people would want to keep indefinitely.

E-tickets instead of ticket stubs...

Some cinema chains such as Ster-Kinekor have toyed with the idea of using QR code tickets. These coded signatures are scanned before moviegoers enter the cinema instead of tearing the ticket stub. For some reason, the ticketing kiosks and online systems still force you to print paper tickets instead of giving you the option to have it sent to your smartphone. If many event companies are providing users with digital tickets that can be scanned off their smartphone or tablet, why is this not being implemented to save on printing and reduce waste at cinemas?

Recycling bins...

Providing recycling bins and signs is only half the solution as education plays an important part in effecting a sustainable recycling system. However, once movie goers are sure that by contributing to the system they're actually making a difference - it can gradually become as much a part of social culture as going to the movies.

 
Starry, Starry Nation: Fostering a Film Identity and Celebrity Culture in South Africa


South Africa needs its own identity, culture and celebrity when it comes to film. Hollywood had the star system, which enabled movie studios to leverage their stars in order to gain more traction when marketing their films to an adoring public. This was done by creating personas for the young actors and originally came about because audiences wanted to know their names. In the early days of cinema, it was considered an embarassment to move from theatre into the seemingly substandard medium of film and many of the performers weren't actually identified. We've come a long way as evidenced by tabloids, intrusive paparazzi, bankable names, celebrity obsession, public personas, political clout and extraordinary salaries. There's something in us that compels humanity to raise a celebrated elite to take centre stage.

In South Africa, our sports stars have occupied this territory with names drawing more attention for sporting achievements and major endorsement deals than our entertainment industry. Social media and television personalities are also beginning to stake a considerable claim in this influential fandom, but film is languishing. There are moves for South Africa to play catch up with the idea of introducing a "star system", to help create a similar excitement around the idea of film stars. Somehow, we've been lagging when it comes to the development of name stars in our own country.

starry starry nation

Charlize Theron and Sharlto Copley, who recently co-starred in Gringo, have demonstrated that we have got the talent and star quality necessary to make it on the international scene, so what's wrong? Part of the problem is the fact that we have low self esteem as a film-making nation, not having really created our own film culture or identity, making us feel less than. This is perpetuated by the justifiable decision to leverage international stars with inherently South African films. Idris Elba and Naomi Harris were used to garner attention for Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. People tend to hinge their viewing decisions on names, which makes recognisable stars critical to drawing an audience. If only we were able to build our own stars and have them carrying films rather than relying on outsiders to do the job.

It's great to see Sean Cameron Michael, Fana Mokoena, John Kani and Kim Engelbrecht making waves on the international stage, but we should be celebrating these breakthroughs and we've got a plethora of local actors who deserve much more attention than they're currently getting locally. Deon Lotz (Skoonheid, Faan se Trein, Shepherds and Butchers) is someone who you will recognise instantly if you've seen more than two South African films in the last decade. Thishiwe Ziqubu (Hard to Get, Man on Ground, While You Weren't Looking) has star quality and is turning in a number of significant performances. Christia Visser (Tess, Hollywood in my Huis, Alison) is a brave young actress with a bright future ahead of her. It's amazing that Israel Makoe (Four Corners, Avenged, Beyond the River), an actor with great presence and fierce energy, hasn't got more focus.

The media has a lot to answer for, not giving our talent enough space and commercial territory with which to create podiums. We need to believe in our stars and their amazing talent, and encourage the public to do the same. South Africa is so busy focusing on big international releases, that the smaller stuff where the real talent is blossoming is largely ignored. When we do shine with official Oscar contenders and those breaking into the international scene, there is some definite interest, but there is still not enough buildup and hype.

Generally-speaking, we have a conservative culture, which means that stars who are recognisable aren't at risk of being mobbed by fans. Perhaps this conservative, downplayed narrative needs to change. More needs to be done around stars and their media profiles to the point that the public becomes familiar and interested in them. We shouldn't be waiting for their talent to be acknowledged on a worldwide platform, but raising them up and celebrating them ourselves. Whether that be through publicists or based on merit alone - it needs to happen!

This doesn't only end at celebrity culture, but also requires a boost in support of arts and culture. Local film productions don't get enough attention in the buildup to opening weekends, which generally means that they don't last more than a week or two on mainstream circuit. Many don't even know when there is an opportunity to watch local film content. Our industry is growing in leaps and bounds but because there is still a stigma around the perceived quality of South African film, many don't really give local content the attention it deserves.

There should be a greater focus on getting South Africans to see local content, exposing them to faces that become more recognisable and generating hype around the idea of film stars. Growing confidence is essential to a viable, structured, credible and blossoming film industry. If the media takes an active role, the public becomes more interested and industry benefits, this will create a healthy self-replicating cycle. So I implore you, South African citizen, journalist, filmmaker, star, or potential funder to take a much more active promoting our country, arts and culture! Let's start these conversations, start tracking great local content and stars. Our spend follows our passion... so let's get excited about the stuff we're doing well, support it with more than a 'like' and there will be more of it!

 
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