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The Galileo Open Air Cinema... it's alive, it's ALIVE

This year's Galileo Open Air Cinema season kicked off with a sold out Halloween screening of A Nightmare on Elm Street. While Freddy Krueger got the ball rolling, the Galileo's vibe is exemplified by About Time, the film they screened at Kirstenbosch, by renowned British director, Richard Curtis. About Time has its own outdoor screening scene and there's even lawn croquet, something the Galileo has started this year along with giant Jenga and boulle. About Time is heartwarming, life-affirming, rewatchable, all about love, has a special focus on family and is a real crowd pleaser... traits that underline what the Galileo's geared towards.

Their 2016/2017 film selection of popular crowd-pleasers are films that you want to watch again and the organisers have done their research, picking the best of the best from similar outdoor film events around the world. They've added the Castle of Good Hope as a new Friday venue, which should enthrall moviegoers and the screening line up is jam-packed old favourites as well as modern classics like Boyhood and Into the Wild. The gourmet food market has returned with delicious oven-baked pizza, fire-grilled nachos and stacked burgers. This year they've got a Seattle Coffee Co. mobile barista into the mix, which will appeal to coffee junkies.

Before the screening it's important to get a good spot before the hordes descend, unless you booked a VIP package, which gets you reserved seating. You may wait about an hour or more before the screening starts, during which time you can answer trivia questions on the big screen, play some lawn games or picnic with friends at one of their picturesque venues. It's a good idea to take a cushion, a warm jacket and recommended that you rent a back rest for maximum comfort.

The Craft Opinion Brewery (T.C.O.B.) #16 by Leonidas Michael


(*Reconstruction & Development of the Soul)

While writing the T.C.O.B. article on of arts, culture and social cohesion in South Africa ( T.C.O.B.#10 .), I became conscious of ever more facets to the discussion. Points and counterpoints engendered new perceptions. New perceptions renewed the desire for discussion. But I thought it was already possible for me to affirm that South Africans had much to gain from pursuing the discussion vigorously and honestly.

Ever the optimist, I should like to take what I said a step further. I believe that Arts and Culture, because of its potential to shape perception, its transcendence of selfish interests and its primordial inseparability from human existence, is an essential part of what Mandela called the RDS – the Reconstruction and Development of the Soul.

But let me temper the optimism – if only to stop it from becoming blind – with a little polemic. The best way to do this is to reiterate the fundamentally unpleasant observations that I made in T.C.O.B.#10 :

  1. there are strong moves to appropriate the discourse on social cohesion for partisan ends
  2. the discourse itself is becoming detached from what South Africans actually live and experience

I concluded that these pointed to a weakening of civil society and proposed that we could buck the trend by giving Arts and Culture (A&C) a more prominent role. In my discussions with other people, however, three objections were persistently raised against my proposal:

  1. A&C is itself detached from reality therefore has little or no influence on peoples’ behaviour
  2. A&C is a luxury that entertains the people who can afford it, not a social or civil necessity, certainly not a priority
  3. A&C lacks objective standards, making it susceptible to being perverted for partisan ends

I do not reject these objections out of hand. In fact, I think they are good pedestals on which to raise stronger and more interesting proposals.

arts and culture south africa

So, yes, A&C is a relatively ineffective means of influencing peoples’ behaviour – marketing and propaganda share the honours here. The role of poets, playwrights, sculptures, musicians etc., however, is to find effective ways of perceiving human existence. If, in order to fulfil their role, these idiosyncratic people use methods detached from reality, they are no different from physicists, biologists, mathematicians, chemists etc. who employ theoretical abstractions as they search for effective ways to perceive the natural world. In this context, perception is rather more than a marketeer’s or propagandist’s sleight-of-hand. It is a pillar of human behaviour, and A&C is an important tool in its construction.

All over the world, A&C relies on subsidies and often fails to turn a profit. It is regularly one of the first victims of budget cuts. Now, I may be a poet, but my upbringing forbids me from passing over the bottom line in silence. Indeed, A&C is a luxury. But again, nuance is required. A&C is an indispensable luxury. It has never been absent from human society. Regardless of the stage of technological development or organisational complexity, human beings produce A&C. The San tribes of the Kalahari, despite the extreme hardship and precariousness of their existence, still found the time to grind pigments and evolve an aesthetic code in order to create their marvellous rock paintings. To dismiss A&C as an optional extra seems to me to go contrary to the wisdom of the ages. A more useful discussion would be how to make this indispensable luxury accessible to more people.

Regarding the point about objective standards, a clear distinction must be made. The appreciation of A&C may very well be subjective – like I said, we are not discussing marketing and propaganda here. But it does not follow that the production of A&C cannot have objective standards. I am not one to believe in “anything goes.” There is a difference between good A&C, bad A&C and plain charlatanism. Establishing the standards is certainly difficult. But is this task easy in any field of human activity? History is full of examples of how the so-called exact sciences have been perverted to serve partisan ends not to mention human vice. Not even the covenants of the simplest truths – religions – are exempt. Nonetheless, it seems the likelihood of such perversions diminishes when people do what they are competent in. So, going back to A&C, let’s rather ask how we can ensure it is produced by artists, not by the stooges of political and economic interest groups.

If Arts and Culture could be all the above would it not be a significant factor in the reconstruction of the soul of a nation? In other words, would it not contribute significantly to the development of individuals who understand for themselves what links them to one another?

We have to believe it’s possible.

Long Beach Brewery was forged by two guys with a passion to create crisp, refreshing handmade craft beers with the finest ingredients. The brewery is named after the famous Cape Town surf and horse-riding destination and situated in Cape Town's beautiful, Noordhoek valley. Their craft beer selection includes: Bomb Shell, a Belgium style Blonde ale, Green Room, an Indian pale ale or Deep Water, their dark ale and stout Porter. They say only a surfer knows the feeling... Long Beach Brewery's aim is to make it possible for everyone to "know the feeling". Buy Now

Coming Soon: 'Shepherds and Butchers' (28 Oct)

Shepherds and Butchers directed by Oliver Schmitz and produced by Anant Singh, will open nationwide on the South African theatrical circuit on Friday, October 28th through Times Media Films.

Award-winning filmmaker, Oliver Schmitz (Life, Above All) directs the screen adaptation penned by Brian Cox. The gripping courtroom human drama is based upon the acclaimed South African novel of the same name by Chris Marnewick, a former advocate for the Durban bar, who based on the book on meticulously researched factual information amassed from his years as a defense attorney.

Academy Award® nominee, Steve Coogan (Philomena) heads up the cast in the role of defense advocate, Johan Webber, who is up against Prosecutor Kathleen Murray, played by Andrea Riseborough (Shadow Dancer), in an intense courtroom battle to save a 19-year-old warden (Garion Dowds) working on death row from his death sentence for murdering seven men.

Shepherds and Butchers 2016

Singh, known for Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom and Sarafina!, commented that he is pleased that Times Media Films is giving the film such a wide release throughout the country. “We believe that Shepherds and Butchers is an important film for South African audiences as it has particular resonance of the damage done to an entire generation of South Africans, both Black and White, who, respectively, were forced to endure and perform horrific acts against their will in the draconian system of punishment of the apartheid regime. The film sets a platform for critical debate, on a global scale, on the issue of capital punishment.”

Follow @SplingMovies on Twitter or Like /SplingMovies on Facebook to keep up-to-speed in the build-up to this important film's release.

The Craft Opinion Brewery (T.C.O.B.) #15 by Leonidas Michael


A craft opinion (like hand-crafted beer from the ( Long Beach Brewery) should not be rushed. The special osmosis of thought, experience and the English language usually acquires its distinct character after about four weeks. But I was so enthusiastic about what I saw at a screening of the 2015 Manhattan Short Film Festival at the Labia the other night that I was compelled to speed the process up. If there’s a lack of evenness in the tones of this opinion, I apologise.

It’s rather more regrettable that I couldn’t publish my opinion long before the start of the festival. That way, more people might have been persuaded to go and experience an outstanding show. Unfortunately, there was no preview. You can rush a craft opinion to some extent. But unless personal experience goes into it, it simply isn’t craft.

The 2015 Manhattan Short Film Festival comprised of ten works – the top ten of 678 participants from 52 countries. Their running times were between 3 and 21 minutes. Though this does not mean that they were truncated or incomplete. On the contrary, their focused scripts, compelling acting and superb production left the spectator with the feeling that all that needed to be told was told, whether it was a cultural drama, a family enigma, even an entire life. They gave the kind of satisfaction that comes from tasting something which, though small, contains intense flavour: a West Coast oyster, for example, a shaving of cured ham or a daub of tarama, washed down with two gulps crisp Green Room pale ale.

Another appetising characteristic of these little films was that they issued from different countries. In several cases they were a multinational fusion: an excellent means to reinvigorate palates jaded by the homogenised fare of planet Hollywood. Furthermore, they facilitated the encounter with the outlandish. For though we might complain about the blockbuster, it’s hard to keep off it. The marketing power of the mainstream film industry has immense influence. People tend to be wary of alternatives in any case. The prospect of sitting through 90 to 120 minutes of unknown actors speaking in weird tongues, unfamiliar themes, perhaps even a black and white picture can be daunting. But in this case the alternatives were presented in little doses. It’s similar to going to a micro-brewery for tasters. You introduce your palate to new flavours, try to acquire a taste for them and if you think the experience has potential for more enjoyment you move onto the big bottles.

It was a shame that less than a dozen people came to the show that night. But, to be honest, the Manhattan Short Film Festival was not my first choice either. I’d originally planned to see a one-woman play. But that was cancelled due to a near complete absence of spectators. The ticket price was R120, by the way. My second choice was a spoken word festival at the Artscape. Tickets were R80 – for a performance that lasted a single hour... More of a problem was that no one at the Artscape could tell me if the spoken word was to be Xhosa or English, an important consideration for someone who is not proficient in both languages.

That’s how my company and I ended up at the Labia where for R45 a head we got two and a half hours (a ten minute interval included) of entertainment. Add R140 for a craft beer with gourmet burger at a restaurant on Kloof Street just around the corner prior to the film, and a post-film discussion during the fifteen minute walk to the car (well, what did you expect in the CBD?), and you have a first-rate, value-for-money night out in Cape Town.

The 2016 Manhattan Short Film Festival begins this Friday at the Labia.

Long Beach Brewery was forged by two guys with a passion to create crisp, refreshing handmade craft beers with the finest ingredients. The brewery is named after the famous Cape Town surf and horse-riding destination and situated in Cape Town's beautiful, Noordhoek valley. Their craft beer selection includes: Bomb Shell, a Belgium style Blonde ale, Green Room, an Indian pale ale or Deep Water, their dark ale and stout Porter. They say only a surfer knows the feeling... Long Beach Brewery's aim is to make it possible for everyone to "know the feeling". Buy Now

The Craft Opinion Brewery (T.C.O.B.) #14 by Leonidas Michael


(*T.C.O.B. reviews Paolo Sorrentino's latest film.)

Actually, I'm about to write a hugely laudatory review. Though I don't know if it will appear in time to persuade more people to see the film in question. It's even possible that the film is already off the circuit, no, I won't interrupt myself to check it up on internet. But I've said it before: a Craft Opinion can't be rushed. At T.C.O.B. we write about the things that interest us, when they interest us. If our readers are able to take something from our reflections, methods and principles and use it in evolving their own tastes, so much the better. Besides there's always DVD rental.

I delayed writing this review partly because of a line in the film itself. It belongs to a character called Jonny Tree, a Hollywood film star played by Paul Dano. He says, "It's up to each of us to choose whether we want to depict the senselessness of horror or the beauty of desire". He's just decided that he cannot play the part of Hitler in a forthcoming film. At the time I saw this, T.C.O.B. was intensively occupied with the theme of horror in films like Salo and Apocalypse Now (see the 12th and (13th instalments). I thought it would be useful to bring my reflections to some kind of a conclusion before turning my attention to Jonny Tree's point of view.

Well, now I can't help finding it a little trite. Horror ought not to be dismissed as senseless. At the very least it has a human sense. As for desire, is it necessarily beautiful? Jonny Tree, who comes across, rather successfully, as a philosopher-hipster, seems suddenly to be taking his lines from Miss Universe. It's a shame, too, that he wants to abjure his role as Hitler. In another part of the film he masquerades as the infamous dictator in front of fellow guests at an Alpine hotel. The messianic gaze he assumes is an intriguing interpretation: a man utterly detached from the reality of whatever (horror) he is responsible for. At breakfast he sits alone at a table set for twelve. While eating his fruit he has a fit of coughing, and in his attempt to bring his human avatar under control again he strikes the table, sending a minor shockwave through the rarefied atmosphere of the dining room. It's a moment of pure black humour.

Sorrentino does make up, however. I mentioned Miss Universe. She's played by Madalina Diana Ghenea and makes two appearances in Youth, once in an outsized woollen jumper, once completely unclothed. I know that full nudity counts for little these days. But in this case I'm not just talking about shots of breasts with dark, prominent nipples, a luscious pubic mound and fleshy buttocks. When a director knows, as Sorrentino does, how to craft beautiful pictures, he unveils the enigmatic union of languor and potency. In this way, the female body arouses the discomforting conflict between lust and admiration, or the enigma of male desire, which can only truly be resolved by love.

Youth Film

Miss Universe besides, Youth is a cornucopia of beautiful pictures. Following a tradition that goes back to Pasolini, Fellini and beyond to masters of the Renaissance, Sorrentino frames landscape (Swiss Alps in spring), architecture (Hotel Schatzalp, Piazza San Marco), fashion (Armani, Bulgari) and humanity (young and old) in exquisite proportions. In the humanity aspect he is supported by the wonderful performances of a wonderful cast. There's Rachel Weisz - not unclothed but stunning nonetheless. She also makes herself look childishly vulnerable when her character's husband abandons her for another woman. Later on she glows with the white-anger of an adolescent as she vents at her father for his infidelities toward her mother.

Weisz' performance is an epitome of a film that deploys many shades of emotion. Youth is trite, cynical, dramatic, wickedly humorous, lascivious. I was caught by surprise, not to mention embarrassed slightly a few times. But it's all filmed so masterfully, moving from one emotion to the other and back and forth between the perceptible world and internal realm of the characters' desires with such exquisite poise that it would be inhuman not to abandon oneself to its ebb and flow. "Emotions aren't overrated", says Mick Boyle, one of the film's characters. "They're all we've got." In a magnificent interpretation of this septuagenarian screenwriter, Harvey Keitel unites tenderness and irony, wisdom and passion, humour and despair.

Diego Maradona is also in the film. I admit I was fooled into thinking it was really him. There were the thick black curls, the tattoo of Karl Marx spread over his back, the greying beard and the weight problem. I later found out he was played by an actor going by the improbable name of Roly Serrano - at least according to Wikipedia. Anyway, he and his daughter, who would invariably be hurrying after him, with an oxygen tank, constitute another epitome. Youth, for all its emotional ebb and flow and variation of perspective, keeps reminding the viewer of the inseparability of young and old: how one clings to the other for its experience, how one supports itself on the other's vigour, how human desire sustains itself on the interdependence of experience and vigour.

Of course, there's also conflict between young and old - sometimes with tragic consequences. But Sorrentino's Youth has a happy ending so I'll not dwell on these. Rather, I'll close by describing my favourite scene. Michael Caine in the role of Fred Ballinger, a retired musician, sits on a tree stump on a hillside meadow and conducts a pastoral impromptu. The musicians are a herd of Swiss cows jangling their bells and lowing and a flock of birds that whooshes into a pristine blue sky when the maestro raises his arms to signal the conclusion. So beautiful, so uplifting. Whatever your age, it will make you want to fall in love again.

Long Beach Brewery was forged by two guys with a passion to create crisp, refreshing handmade craft beers with the finest ingredients. The brewery is named after the famous Cape Town surf and horse-riding destination and situated in Cape Town's beautiful, Noordhoek valley. Their craft beer selection includes: Bomb Shell, a Belgium style Blonde ale, Green Room, an Indian pale ale or Deep Water, their dark ale and stout Porter. They say only a surfer knows the feeling... Long Beach Brewery's aim is to make it possible for everyone to "know the feeling". Buy Now

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