Feldman @ the flicks


Peter Feldman: Disney’s Cruella is a sumptuous roller-coaster fun ride and A Quiet Place 2 revisits an old horror theme and is tedious.

Cast: Emma Stone, Emma Thompson, Paul Walter Hauser, Joel Fry, Mark Strong
Director: Craig Gillespie
Classification: 7-9 PGD V

Cruella De Vil, one of Disney’s most notorious villains, gets her own full-blooded production – and it’s a sumptuous, roller-coaster fun ride.

Plucking Cruella from her breakout role in 101 Dalmatians, director Craig Gillespie has fashioned a lavish, eye-popping production which provides the character with an inventive back story. It is crammed with superb acting, a range of magnificent costumes, a sweeping soundtrack of 1960 hits and a number of striking sets.

The film pokes fun at the era with its insightful observations and illuminates the disturbing mental facets that helped make Cruella an appallingly bad character. It’s interesting to observe the trend these days in which cartoon villains are given a credible back story in which mental health issues are highlighted.

It begins with Estella (Emma Stone) a little girl with a stubborn, nasty nature, who is expelled from several schools for fighting. When her mother is murdered, she heads for London on her own where she meets up with two young thieves, Jasper (Joel Fry) and the bulky Horace (Paul Walter Hauser). She becomes a third member of their gang and grows up with them learning the way of the streets.

A talented fashion designer, an adult Estella sets her sights on becoming a top fashion designer by joining an exclusive, high-end firm. It’s headed by the rude, obnoxious Baroness (Emma Thompson), and it doesn’t take long for Estella to gain the woman’s confidence.

Without revealing too many plot details, it’s sufficient to say that the nice Estella slowly transforms into the vicious Cruella who discovers her Mom’s murderer and is bent on sweet revenge.

Both Emma Stone and Emma Thompson devour every scene they are in and the scorching chemistry between the two characters gives the film its gravitas.

The supporting cast, which also includes Mark Strong, a member of the Baroness’ staff, are commanding entities and help embellish a truly entertaining escapade.

A Quiet Place: Part 2
Cast: Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Cillian Murphy, Noah Jupe, Millicent Simmonds
Director: John Krasinski
Classification: 16 HV

An original movie may be striking the first time around but when filmmakers revisit an old site they need to come up with something more substantial in content and visually spectacular.

This is not the case with A Quiet Place: Part 2 where Emily Blunt and her husband, director and actor John Krasinski, once again face an onslaught of evil aliens intent on killing off the human race. But there are few surprises in this horror package, as the family undertakes a relentless search for a safe haven. It’s doom and gloom all the way with hardly a chink of light.

Blunt and Kaminski play the Abbott family, Evelyn and Lee, who have two young children, Marcus and Regan (Noah Jupe anf Millicent Simmonds), and a baby who hardly stops crying. They have deserted their small mid-American town, forced by the invasion of these crab-like aliens.

Tension is evenly spread as various members of the family (excluding baby) have to deal with danger at every turn. They cannot talk, so dialogue is sparse, because these blind, creepy creatures react to sound.

Adding to the situation is the fact that Regan is deaf and uses sign language to communicate. Along their dangerous journey they meet Emmett (Cillian Murphy), a friend from home who throws in his lot with them.

Director Kaminski has, unfortunately, written himself into a corner and it may take another production to resolve matters.

All in all, a somewhat drawn-out and tedious addition to the horror genre factory.

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”.