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Top 5 Superhero Movies

Spling picks his top 5 superhero movies... not an easy undertaking when you consider the glut of solid superhero movies out there!

The Dark Knight

The Dark Knight

Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins redefined the superhero genre by redressing the comic book icon as a person of great innovation, determination and wealth with a bent for vigilantism. The new direction was fresh, gritty and helped set in motion a superhero genesis for DC and Marvel, whose superheroes have been graduating to the big screen ever since. However, it was Nolan's The Dark Knight that really immersed us in the world of Gotham, where supervillains and superheroes exist, a dark city full of organized crime and political muscling. The film's sense of grandeur and gravity gave it an immense and clinical feeling, bringing a system of order to the madness of a psychotic Joker in Heath Ledger and a conflicted Batman in Christian Bale.


Iron Man


Iron Man

Robert Downey Jr. was not an obvious choice to play Tony Stark and Jon Favreau was not an obvious choice to direct Iron Man. Yet, these would-be underdogs managed to turn a Wednesday superhero into a self-professed and lovable "genuis, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist", who also happens to be a part-time defender of freedom as Iron Man. The mixture of explosive action, dazzling visual effects, Downey Jr's unpredictable egotistical manner and AC/DC's rock out music set this superhero film on fire and made it a surprising blockbuster for Marvel, who have continued to leverage Downey Jr's magnetism and unofficial leadership in The Avengers and The Avengers: Age of Ultron.

The Incredibles

The Incredibles

Brad Bird is a bit of a perfectionist and his animation work is testament to his craft, having directed The Iron Giant and Ratatouille, although it's his superhero action adventure family comedy that stands tallest. The Incredibles is a Pixar all-rounder, appealing to just about everyone and delivering entertainment value in full force. By immersing us in a world where superheroes are commonplace, this smart animated adventure gets to grips with the flipside of fitting in and getting along as our ragtag team of family superheroes band together to take down a nerdy supervillain wannabe. It truly is incredible... and it doesn't hurt that it's also hilarious, feel good fun for the whole family!

Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy

Primed as the "Space Avengers", this intergalactic superhero action comedy adventure is full of surprises. Our intrepid and brash Starlord, played by Chris Pratt, oversees the unification of the Guardians of the Galaxy as the underdog criminals become universal heroes. This action-packed movie feels like a mash-up of The A-Team, Robotech and Star Wars as the team of unlikely superheroes form, storm and norm. While it starts off slow, the action and comedy mature as this action extravaganza ramps up to the tune of a classic mix tape. It may seem like Tarantino in space, but this Marvel cult classic is the handywork of James Gunn. Marvel's universe even extends to online video games.

X-Men: Days of Future Past

X-Men: Days of Future Past

Bryan Singer's X-Men legacy lives on. Entrusted to direct the first and second films, Singer took a break with X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men: First Class before picking up the franchise again. His latest effort combines the old guard with the new generation as the two ages unite with Wolverine as their common denominator. It's a time travel action-adventure that seamlessly blends both the past and the future as Hugh Jackman slices his way through time, as origin stories are revealed and a cataclysmic story with multiple repercussions unfolds in an entertaining, imaginative, vivid and breathtaking fashion.

Triggerfish Story Lab announce Top Stories

Triggerfish Story Lab Winner - Nnedi OkoraforTriggerfish Animation Studios has selected four features and four TV series for development from the inaugural Triggerfish Story Lab, established with the support of The Department of Trade and Industry and The Walt Disney Company. Initially, Triggerfish had planned to select three projects for film and TV respectively, but increased this to four for each due to the quality of the projects.

The feature films selected into the Story Lab are:

The Camel Racer (Wanuri Kahiu and Nnedi Okorafor – Kenya/Nigeria)
Dropped (Ian Tucker - SA)
Lights (Kay Carmichael – SA)
The Wild Waste (Naseem Hoosen - SA)

The TV series selected into the Story Lab are:

Bru and Boegie (Mike Scott – SA)
KC’s Super 4 (Malenga Mulendema - Zambia)
Ninja Princess (Marc Dey and Kelly Dillon - SA)
Wormholes (Lucy Heavens - SA)

Head of development at Triggerfish, Anthony Silverston, says “We’re excited by the range of stories, that explore everything from contemporary urban to Afro-futuristic worlds.” The selected storytellers include Nnedi Okorafor (pictured), a Nigerian-American World Fantasy Award winning novelist; multi-award-winning Kenyan director Wanuri Kahiu; South African YouTube phenomenon Mike Scott, whose music videos for Goldfish have over 12m views; and Lucy Heavens, one of the writers on the breakout South African animation hit Supa Strikas, which is broadcast in 120 countries around the world.

The shortlist was evaluated by an expert panel that included Peter Lord, the British director of international blockbusters like Chicken Run and The Pirates!; Hollywood writers Kiel Murray (Cars) and Jonathan Roberts (The Lion King); and a panel of development executives and Triggerfish’s development team.

The selected storytellers will start the new year with a two-week immersion trip to Disney’s headquarters in Burbank, California, where they will receive mentoring from key studio and television executives.

Top 5 - AFDA Graduate Film Festival (CT)

Here are Spling's Top 5 short films from the 2015 AFDA Graduation Film Festival held in Cape Town at the Labia Theatre... to watch these student short films online, click on the link below each review to be redirected to their official page on AFDA's website and then click on the 'View Production' button towards the bottom right.

The Locket Short FilmTHE LOCKET

The Locket is a World War II drama about a German man, who is separated from his true love only to be conscripted to serve as a Nazi soldier at a concentration camp. While ambitious for a short film project, the film-makers have managed to tame the beast with amazing production values.

While the film feels like an excerpt from a larger work, they've focused the story on a doomed relationship united by a locket. It has an air of authenticity with army vehicles, uniforms and concentration camp politics echoing films like The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. While it has a typical World War II drama look-and-feel, telling the story from the German perspective is refreshing and the co-lead performances are heartfelt and honest, unpacking much emotional power and nuance in a short space of time.

Watch The Locket Online

Sons of Crime Short FilmSONS OF CRIME

Sons of Crime is a gripping, timely and suspenseful South African crime drama to the bitter end. We're planted in contemporary Cape Town, where two brothers find themselves at loggerheads. One has chosen a life of crime, the other has tried to make an honest living... yet, when an opportunity arises to make a quick buck, both feel the overwhelming pressure of family and money.

This short film has a multi-generational and epic feel, which is bolstered by multiple locations, a telling flashback, great pacing and a sense of urgency. The cinematography is slick, the visual narrative is strong and the characters are brought to life by two compelling actors. Some of the sound design is a bit inconsistent, but the short film is so tightly-wound you don't have time to notice.

Watch Sons of Crime Online

Nature Short FilmNATURE

Human nature and Mother Nature are central to Nature, a bold and elegant sci-fi thriller. We're introduced to a futuristic world, where nature has become a no-man's land, cut off from the dome of modern society. Tied down to her job, social life and gender role, a young professional woman escapes the humdrum and uncovers a pack of lies when she discovers an old woman living a peaceful, almost pastoral, existence on the outside.

This is a compelling, sleek and thought-provoking short film, which exists in a definite world thanks to solid visual effects. The vivid visuals have weight and so does the tragic Gattaca style story, which makes some stark contrasts with the help of a determined female lead.

Watch Nature Online

What If I Was Wrong? Short FilmWHAT IF I WAS WRONG?

In what could be described as a quirky blend of Psycho and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, we follow the deterioration of a relationship and the emotional journey of a pianist still tormented by the trajectory foisted upon him by his overbearing mother. This fantasy drama is a little difficult to follow at times, but delivers a peculiar and vivid tale with great panache and imagination.

Memories are brought to life as our hero tries to reconnect with himself and break through the shackles of his life's work to affirm his love. An excellent day-and-night lead performance, quirky production design and exquisite visual effects power this intricate fantasy drama.

Watch What If I Was Wrong? Online

Kismet Short FilmKISMET

A young girl is missing in Kismet, an atmospheric and heartbreaking mystery drama about keeping hopes up in the face of adversity. We find ourselves in the company of two women living on a farm, both in search of a missing child. The melancholic atmosphere is palpable and the irony is knee deep as one character tries to protect the other blind one from the truth.

Pangs of emotion and a bracing sense of futility underpin this aching, understated and suspenseful mystery drama. Everything's downplayed, aiming for real moments of unspeakable pain and regret. The film-makers give Kismet a fuzzy, retro feel and while young, the actors tap into the prickly tone.

Watch Kismet Online

While they didn't quite make the Top 5, these bold short films deserve a special mention: the off-beat comedy Woody McSomething, the post-apocalyptic The Prancing Gunslinger and cannibal horror The Diening.

Cast Interviews: 'n Man Soos My Pa

'n Man Soos My Pa is a beautifully filmed, nostalgic, sentimental and timely domestic ensemble drama with strong performances all-round. It tells the story of a family reunion, where a father and son try to reconcile their differences in order to honour a wife and mother's last wishes after being estranged for 20 years. The film is directed by Sean Else, produced by Johan Kruger and opens on 20 November.

'n Man Soos My Pa 2015

Here are some interviews with the cast...

Albert Maritz

Antoinette Louw

Elma Postma

Greg Kriek

Lara de Bruijn

How does Netflix's future look?

Netflix is a household name across the globe. In living rooms from Australia to Japan, Germany to the UK and, of course, in America where the company is registered and run, people are watching features films, documentaries, dramas, comedies and more on the on- demand streaming service.

The business, which started life in 1997 as a DVD rental enterprise, whereby customers would select films online and have them sent through the post to their homes, has grown exponentially in its 18 years. Earlier this year, Netflix reported that it had a staggering 65.55 million subscribers and in July, the company published its impressive quarterly figures, which exceeded expectations. Shares jumped in value from $95 to $126, an all time high for Netflix.

Netflix Growth Chart

So what route has Netflix taken to enjoy such success and how has that growth in share value been achieved?

Perhaps the most significant factor influencing Netflix’s success is the simplicity of its model – subscribers pay one monthly fee to access on-demand content and there’s no advertising. In 2013, the company began to broadcast original content - its most popular show was political drama House of Cards. Since then, other Netflix original shows have soared in popularity, including Orange Is the New Black, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and Grace and Frankie.

Netflix began international expansion of its instant streaming service only four years ago – initially testing the waters in Canada. In July 2011, when the company announced that it would soon be entering the Latin American market, its forex share price immediately jumped 8%.. Europe was the next stop for Netflix, beginning in the UK and Ireland in early 2012. By autumn of that year, Netflix was available to the Norwegians, the Swedes, the Danes and the Finns.

Netflix Income Expenses chart

Netflix has enjoyed particular success in the UK, where audiences were faster to subscribe than either their Canadian counterparts, or their South American ones and in 2014, it was said that over three million UK households subscribed to Netflix.

In the US meanwhile, Netflix's viewing figures are so high that they beat those of some traditional TV networks like ABC, CBS and Fox. During 2016, Netflix has said it will complete its global expansion, ultimately reaching audiences in some 123 new countries. This will take the total number of territories or countries in which Netflix operates to 200. The early part of the year will see Netflix’s arrival in South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan. These incredibly ambitious, but ultimately achievable expansion plans are expected to do much to improve both Netflix’s sales figures and its share value.

It has been predicted that Netflix shares’ earnings will rise by 49% in 2016, and that sales growth will hit 27% because of the new geographical territories and new forays into content creation. As Netflix’s star continues its ascent, the company can only be a good bet for wise investors who, like the company’s insatiable audiences, want even more Netflix in their lives.

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