Welcome back little kickers! If you were here yesterday you’ll have read that today’s feature is a review from South Africa, namely Zoe from The Sporadic Chronicles of a Beginner Blogger. To be honest I mentioned it yesterday because I didn’t want to shock Zoe. It’s never a good idea to surprise a South African in the middle of the night. Zoe has provided me with a review of SA movie The Bang Bang Club. Which to my disappointment isn’t a movie about Jacob Zuma’s sex life. I’ll shut up now. Read the review. It’s very good.
Screenkicker Olympics – Johannesburg, South Africa
The Bang Bang Club review by Zoe from The Sporadic Chronicles of a Beginner Blogger
South Africa! Yes, it is now our time to shine… we are more than gold medal Olympian winners shooting up their girlfriends and translators embarrassing the crap out of us at important funerals… we have the time to shine here! We are the land of presidential fire pools, tax evasion, some of the most insane strikes of all time and delicious braais. We are the best equipped country for a zombie apocalypse (not kidding). I see that the rest of the world is popping up with their respective entries, and I can guarantee you have better films to choose from, but when I thought back on some of the movies that I could use for this segment in the Screenkicker Olympics, I decided that this one was going to be the best depiction. To show that it is not all that bad… Without further waffling, let’s talk about The Bang-Bang Club.
“They’re right. All those people who say it’s our job to just sit and watch people die. They’re right.”
– Kevin Carter
A drama based on the true-life experiences of four combat photographers capturing the final days of apartheid in South Africa. (IMDB)
Disclaimer: Mikey, I am sorry, this movie is not even remotely about what the title may suggest, so whatever you are thinking, forget it!
Now, let’s start with the fact that this is the first time I have actually heard a foreigner successfully pull off a South African accent (oh my gosh – really?!). I think Ryan Phillipe deserves immense amounts of credit for that. He slips up occasionally, but more often than not you could overlook the fact that he is not local. Point two, the movie tackles some serious history of ours and I think they did a pretty damn good job of bringing it to the screen. It was awesome to see landmarks that are truly South African, as well as our streets, townships and bars, and, God forbid, Frisco coffee chilling on the counters. What also sells this movie and the story is that the supporting actors and actresses are actually South Africans, so they fit right in and lend authenticity to the story.
The photojournalists that are looked at in the movie are some heavyweight Pulitzer Prize winning guys (mostly), and the movie focuses on how they came to be the group that they are as well as some of the totally crazy things that they did together to get the shots, the types of lives that they lived. They were Greg Marinovich (Ryan Phillipe), Kevin Carter (Taylor Kitsch), Ken Oosterbroek (Frank Rautenbach) and João Silva (Neels van Jaarsveld).The movie was amazing in the sense that the photos that were taken and published, the big famous ones, the scenes depicting how they came to be were just fantastically done; you could almost immediately see what it was. Now, I am not overly familiar with the stories of the photographers involved because I was a rugrat when all this was going down, but it looks like it was done relatively well. For all the political focus that one would expect from this film it is greatly overlooked, which is a big reason that this feels a little hollow at times. Watching how cruel and crass these men were to get their shots is also a difficult watch: a man is being murdered or a woman has lost her home and is in total pain and the only thought to cross your mind is “I need that shot”… that is a blunt and callous way to live, in my opinion.
Thankfully, though, the callousness is addressed later on in the film, which was a relief. It lent more realism to it, because watching something like that there is always the moral question that is lingering. Malin Åkerman portrays Robin Comley, who later goes on to be Greg’s lover, but starts off with going out of her way to ensure that the grotesque and brutal photos the men take get published one way or another. Åkerman and Phillipe work well together, though there are times where their scenes just don’t flow too great, but overall they managed well. It was very interesting to see the townships, the old police as well as how things went down then, though the movie really did focus on the photographers more than the actual events, as well as just giving us enough of the events to understand the horror and brutality as well as a vehicle in which to carry the photos that were birthed from it. I believe that this movie did not make it particularly huge overseas and had a ridiculously small release, which is a pity because it is worth looking into. This movie also captured a lot of what South Africa is and how the people are here, as well as some of the issues we face (being a lot more underdeveloped than the bigger first world countries out there as well as the stigma of racism that lingers ever after the fact, something I wish would just… start coming right). It showed the transition that South Africa went through prior to the fall of apartheid and the rise of the new regime (which, incidentally, is not working out as well as we would have hoped), the attitudes to one another, etc.
Whoop! There you have my contribution to the Screenkicker Olympics. South Africa had to be represented, and if no one was going to do it, then I most certainly was!
Thanks Zoe, a really enlightening review about a fascinating subject. And not a prawn in sight, i’m disappointed. Tune in tomorrow for a special Israeli review from everyone’s favourite movie review human production line. You know who I’m talking about 😉