Tutankhamun exhibition extended

TUTANKHAMUN EXHIBITION, SILVERSTAR, Credit SC Exhibitions (1)

If, like me, you haven’t had a chance to go see the popular Tutankhamun – His Tomb and His Treasures exhibition yet, you now have more time. The international exhibition opened early December last year and has now been extended to the 12th of April. Beyond that though, there are no further possibilities of extensions.

50 000 South Africans have already been to view it at Silverstar casino’s entertainment venue, The Globe, on the West Rand.

The exhibition features over 1 000 perfectly replicated ancient Egyptian artifacts, including  Tut’s sarcophagus. And, because they’re replicas, you can get up close instead of trying to have a look through the glare of a glass box. Audio guides are available for adults and children. It will be of particular value to Grade 5 pupils, who are studying ancient Egypt as part of their curriculum.

It takes about two hours to walk through the exhibition.

Tickets are R160 for Adults, Seniors (over the age of 60) & Students pay R120, Children between 6 & 18 pay R100 while children under 6 can attend for free.

Bookings can be done at www.tut-exhibition.co.za

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Wild goes off the beaten track

“What have if I done?” Cheryl Strayed (Reese Witherspoon) asks herself as she takes the first steps of a 4000 kilometer walk. “You can quit anytime,” she says, as the highway behind her disappears and she walks into the desert.

Wild is a biographical drama based on Cheryl’s memoir Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, in which she decides to embark on a massive, solidarity journey, to try and find what she has lost. It is a three month journey, from the Mexican border to Canada.

Throughout her journey, the film flashes back to her past, the events that got her to where she is. The death of her mother from cancer at 45. Her spiral into drugs and random sex in dingy motel rooms. Her divorce. As her self-destruction escalates, she realises she needs a way back. After she spots a book on the Pacific Crest Trail in a store, she buys it and decides to hike at least part of the way alone.

Cheryl is ill-prepared though. With her backpack so heavy she can barely stand, and her boots so small she sacrifices a number of toenails, she battles her demons. She sees herself as a child, her mother dancing with her. She relives her drug highs, her fights with her husband as she continued to cheat on him with various strangers. In her darkest hour she throws her boots down a ravine, and screams, a raw animal cry that echoes across the landscape. But she continues, obeying her entry in the trail register: “If your nerve deny you, go above your nerve,” a quote from Emily Dickinson. She forges on, meeting some on the way who help her, but ultimately it’s up to Cheryl to walk herself back to the woman her mother thought she was.

Reese Witherspoon shows that she’s back on track after her career stumbled when she won the Best Actress Oscar for her excellent performance in Walk the Line in 2005. She was nominated for an Oscar in the best actress category for Wild, and deserved to be there.

The script is written by Nick Hornby of About a Boy and Hi Fidelity fame, and it shows in the glimmers of humour and irony in Cheryl’s journey. Director Jean-Marc Vallee makes Witherspoon shine, just like he did Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto in Dallas Buyers Club.

Wild is about an intensely personal and spiritual journey of discovery, of how solitude forces you to confront your failures and triumphs. Above all it is about redemption. “What if I forgive myself. What if I was sorry?” she asks. “But if I can go back in time, I wouldn’t do a single thing differently. What if all those things I did were the things that got me here…?”

Rating: 4/5

Cast: Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern, Thomas Sadoski

Local release date: 27 February 2015

The Theory of Everything – a genius portrayal of Stephen Hawking

“There should be no boundaries to human endeavour. We are all different. However bad life may seem, there is always something you can do, and succeed at. While there is life, there is hope”. A robotic voice speaks these words to a hall full of students and academics, towards the end of the film, The Theory of Everything. The man who says them is renowned physicist and cosmologist, Stephen Hawking.

The film is a biopic of Hawking’s life, who is one of the biggest celebrity scientists of the 20th century. Many, who know of him, have never read his theories which try and marry the physics of the macro-world (the theory of relativity) and the micro-world (quantum physics). Yet his name is synonymous with human endeavour.

The Theory of Everything begins with a party, where a young Stephen (played by Eddie Redmayne) and Jane Wilde (Felicity Jones) meet. It is 1963 and the courtship is a sweet and innocent romance between a geeky scientist with skew glasses and a Catholic literature student. The relationship blossoms while the 21-year old Stephen tries to find a topic for his PhD at Cambridge. He becomes increasingly clumsy, until a massive fall on campus, leads to a devastating diagnosis: amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS (remember the ice bucket challenge?). The disease is degenerative. He will lose his ability to walk, talk, or move any part of his body, while his brain will remain active. He is given a mere two years to live.

Jane resists Stephen’s attempts to push her away, and the two marry. Even as his body starts to fail him, Stephen relentlessly pursues his goal of applying the theorem of a space-time singularity at the end of a black hole, to the entire universe. But this is not a story about science; it is about people, and not the HBO-version either. Jane and Stephen’s marriage feels real, and her brave quest to be all and everything to Stephen, while raising their three children and trying to complete her own studies, does eventually take its toll.

The Theory of Everything is a gripping, heartrending and human story, told beautifully and with understanding. Most cinemagoers leave with swollen eyes and red noses. And yet, the film has lightness to it. As he did with his tense documentary, Man on Wire, director James Marsh depicts the pinnacle of human endeavour. The Theory of Everything is about the battle, both physical and emotional, to reach beyond the ordinary and the ultimate triumph of doing so, not only for Stephen, but for Jane as well.

The film was nominated for best picture at the Oscars, and didn’t win, but its lead actor, Eddie Redmayne, kicked dust in the eyes of his fellow nominees to take home the award. Redmayne is phenomenal in a physically demanding role. His painstaking depiction of Stephen’s bodily regression – the muscle twitching as he tries to write on a blackboard, the way his limbs shrink into themselves, his hands pulling into claws, his head caught forever in a tilt towards his right shoulder – is exceptional. He captures Stephen’s wit, his insatiable curiosity about life and his desire to make a lasting contribution to scientific knowledge.

Felicity Jones is also remarkable as Jane Hawking, whose determination to love Stephen regardless of his death sentence, seems almost impossible. It is on her memoir, Travelling to Infinity: My Life With Stephen, that the film is based.

The cinematography is striking and the shots fluid, to show the beauty of the night sky or to mirror Stephen’s fascination with black holes as he watches the cream in his coffee swirl into a singularity.

Stephen Hawking is now 72 years old and has defied all expectations. The Theory of Everything has done the same for biopics, avoiding the traditional pitfalls of the genre, instead providing a riveting and intensely personal study of a great human being, with all his faults and his relationship with those around him.

 

Rating: 4½/5

Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, David Thewlis

Release date: 27 February 2015 at Ster Kinekor cinemas.