Feldman @ the flicks

Adopt A Daddy

Peter Feldman: An enjoyable French romp and a science fiction yarn exploiting the current pandemic open this weekend.


Adopt A Daddy
Cast: Franck Gastambide, Melisa Sözen, Gringe, Camille Lellouche, Jessim Kas, Youssef Hajd
Director: Xavier de Choudens (French with English subtitles)
Classification: 13 L N
Rating: 3/5

The French certainly know how to make fascinating films.

Adopt A Daddy tackles a controversial subject, yet it still manages to put a smile on your face as it confronts a dire situation, lathering it with dollops of innate humour.

Xavier de Choudens’ amusing production tests the French social justice system by tackling a scenario that deals with the hordes of refugees living illegally in the country.

The key character is Damien Mallet (Franck Gastambide). He and his sister, Mélanie (Camille Lellouche), grew up in Paris in a family of die-hard activists. After their mother passes away, the pair lose their passion for social justice.

They live their respective lives, but this changes dramatically when Damien becomes a teacher at a public school and meets little Bahzad (Jessim Kas) and his mother, Selma (Melisa Sözen), both of whom are refugees and about to be deported because they do not possess legal documents.

In order to save his bright little student and keep him in France, Damien decides to claim to the authorities that he is Bahzad’s dad. His brave decision opens the flood gates, as soon a whole array of refugee moms begin lining up at his doorstep asking for help.

Damien, who is gradually falling for Bahzad’s mom, realises he has to come up with a viable plan. Together with his best friend, Rudy (Gringe), and a host of other unlikely heroes, he sets in motion an outrageous scheme to save the children.

The message is communicated in a light manner and the shafts of humour are cleverly utilised to shine light on a growing French problem. There are no real answers in this political conundrum, but the subject is handled with deep understanding of human nature and what remains is an appealing little film that makes you think more seriously about life and living.


Songbird
Cast: KJ Apa, Sofia Carson, Craig Robinson, Peter Stormare, Bradley Whitford, Demi Moore
Director: Adam Mason

In the midst of a raging real-time pandemic, when cinemagoers need diversions from the dire situation around them, comes a science fiction movie in unimaginable bad taste. It deals with the mutated relative of Covid-19, aptly named Covid-23.

This particular Songbird hits all the wrong notes as humanity is transported into the future and battles another bitter pandemic. Tedious and incapable of fully developing its sombre premise, Adam Mason’s production never rises above the status of mediocre in its depiction of the future and the consequences of another horrific pandemic.

With a cast of mostly unknowns, the narrative centres on Los Angeles and a set of diverse characters all trying to survive. Citizens are required to take temperature checks on their cellphones, while those infected are removed from their homes against their will and placed in quarantine camps. Some fight back against the brutal restrictions.

Sprinkled among the denizens of this particular jungle are a group of special individuals who are immune to the plague. These humans wear yellow wrist bands signifying their health status and are valuable to the community.

One such individual is Nico Price (KJ Apa), a motorcycle courier, who flits around delivering various items to wealthy individuals. He carries on a virtual relationship with singer Sara Garcia (Sofia Carson), who wants to be famous. She makes a living online selling covers of classic songs. When she becomes infected, Nico races against time to save her.

Another immune individual is Emmet Harland (Peter Stormare) and the villain of the piece. He is head of the LA Sanitation Department whose job is to track down infected members of the population. He’s ruthless in the execution of his duty and takes no prisoners. He is open to bribery, though.

The only genuine surprise on offer is the resurfacing of Demi Moore, the once famous ‘80s star, looking slightly off colour. No doubt seeking an easy payday. Moore’s character runs a blackmarket operation in yellow wrist bands with her husband, played by Bradley Whitford.

What were they thinking? Songbird is a prime example of exploiting a situation in the name of so-called entertainment – and doing a terrible job.


Twitter: @petersdfeldman_
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Peter Feldman has been a journalist and arts critic for almost 50 years and served on The Star in various capacities for 35 years, ending up as a specialist writer on films, music and theatre. During that time, he travelled extensively on assignments and interviewed many international film and pop stars, both in South Africa and overseas. He also covered some of South Africa’s biggest film and musical events. He was one of only two South African journalists to be invited by Steven Spielberg to the Hook film junket in LA in 1991 where he interviewed the famous director as well as Dustin Hoffman and the late Robin Williams. He attended the gala James Bond premiere in London in 1981 and did an iconic interview in a Rolls Royce with Roger Moore who played Bond. He spent a week touring England with Queen prior to their Sun City visit in 1983, interviewed a host of international stars on films sets in Hollywood and London and was the first local journalist to nail an interview with The Rolling Stones prior to their SA visit in 1995. He is active in the freelance field and his work has appeared in a variety of South African newspapers and magazines, including Artslink.co.za. He has also worked on TV and radio (ChaiFM 101.9) in his specialist capacity. Over the years Feldman has been the recipient of several awards for his contribution to music journalism and the SA record industry. He is a recent recipient of the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz award in recognition for his long-standing journalistic support for the arts. He wrote lyrics for some top artists, including Sipho Mabuse, and had a hit disco single, “Video Games,” which was released in 1988. He coined the phrase “Local is Lekker”.


Peter Feldman
peter.sd.feldman@gmail.com
082 600 6568
Freelance Film Critic


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