Hipster happiness: Mumford & Sons to perform in SA next year.

Hilltop Live has announced the British rock band, Mumford & Sons, will be performing in South Africa in February next year. The group, known for their hits “Little Lion Man” and “I Will Wait”, will play in Cape Town on 29 January 2016 at the Grand Parade, in Durban on 3 February 2016 at the Durban Botanic Gardens and in Pretoria on 6 February at the Monument Amphitheatre.

In a statement, the band says its visit to South Africa has been a long time coming. “The last eight years have taken us to some incredible parts of the World, from Goa to Tasmania… Orkney to Walla Walla. The fact that we get to visit these places, meet fascinating and inspiring people, and play our songs everywhere we go is pretty much the whole reason we started this band in the first place – you guys know how much we love touring, we’ve mentioned it enough times!

Well, it is with great excitement, that we can announce one of our most anticipated adventures yet, South Africa! Many times we’ve tried to make it work, but this coming February, it’s happening and we couldn’t be happier about it. We’ve got a handful of shows across the country, some really great artists sharing those stages with us”.

Tickets start from R499 from Computicket, and sales open on 3 September.

Advertisements

“Epstein” – an intimate look at the man who created “The Beatles”.

Epstein-The-Man-Who-Made-The-Beatles-tranfer-Leicester-Square-Theatre

Decades after The Beatles stopped making music, the nostalgia remains unrelentless, the appetite for more news and insight, insatiable. The obsession is not just with John, Paul, George, and Ringo, but also with the man who made them into global icons: their enigmatic manager, Brian Epstein.

The two-hander play, Epstein – The Man Who Made The Beatles, currently on at Pieter Toerien theatre at Monte Casino, examines the private life of this musical entrepreneur. The play is not about “the boys” – as Brian (played by Nicholas Pauling) fondly refers to the band – but about his own controversial and closeted life. Dead in 1967 at the age of just 32 from an accidental drug overdose, there has been much speculation about him.

Epstein is a fictionalised telling of Brian’s life, set entirely in his apartment, in the drug-fuelled days leading up to his death. His story is seen through the eyes of a young lad from Liverpool, known only as “This Boy” (played by Sven Ruygrok), putting the focus squarely on Brian. The handsome Boy goes home with Brian after a night out, the latter clearly looking for a hook-up. Instead, the Boy’s probing questions about Brian’s life, his “story”, reveal that he’s in fact a journalist for a sleazy tabloid, looking for a break in writing the story about this secretive man. Later, it’s also revealed that the Boy is a talented musician. “I make stars. If I put my mind to it, I could make you a star”, Brian tells the Boy, though he no longer has the clout to make good on such a promise.

Pauling is stellar as the camp, highly-strung, self-obsessed, pill-popping Brian, his face shining with sweat as he oscillates between ecstatic retellings of his successes, and his low self-esteem as he recounts his rejections. The story features anti-Semitism, and homophobia, which added to Brian’s self-loathing. Ruygrok (of Spud-fame) is well cast, with his straightforward good looks, starry-eyed charm, and a lovely singing voice to boot. The two actors have an interesting chemistry, as they navigate moments of strong and tender human connections, and emotionally-charged shouting matches.

No play referencing The Beatles could get away with not featuring the music. But, the songs are used with restraint, sparsely but cleverly thrown in so that the lyrics mirror specific scenes and dialogue.

It’s a play full of nuance, and is dialogue-heavy (not a bad thing), so if you’re expecting another Beatles tribute you’ll be grossly disappointed. This show is so much better than that, providing a glimpse into a life that created musical history, but about which little (beyond speculation) is known.

Epstein – The Man Who Made The Beatles is on at Pieter Toerien Theatre at Monte Casino from 12 August to 27 September 2015.

“Impunity” – a messy, illogical tribute to “Natural Born Killers”.

Local filmmaker Jyoti Mistry’s violent thriller, Impunity, is tedious almost right from the start. The film begins by showing scenes of a beach, where a young, pretty girl wanders around in a white dress, and another in which she is naked with a man, who’s covered in blood.

Echo (Alex McGregor) and Derren (Bjorn Steinbach) become lovers, after the bar owner they work for rapes Echo, and Derren rescues her. The two violently kill the man, before heading to the beach where they wash off the blood and have sex. This begins their killing spree à la Natural Born Killers. There is no backstory explaining who they are or where they come from.

The couple first take refuge at the home of one of Derren’s preppy, married friends, where there is an inexplicable, unstated sexual tension between the four. It’s not long before that ends in the walls being painted red, for no apparent reason. Everywhere they go, Echo and Derren add to their body count, killing with impunity.

Ironically, when the couple are finally caught, they are implicated in a grisly murder they did not commit. The two are arrested after the mauled body of the daughter of a wealthy government minister is discovered near a safari lodge, where Echo and Derren were waiting tables. The night before, at the woman’s engagement party, she has sex with Derren. However, he insists he didn’t kill her.

The minister employs a corrupt investigator from the Special Crimes Unit, Dingane Fakude (Desmond Dube), to help small town cop, Naveed Khan (Vaneshran Arumugam), solve the case. The story appears to suggest the woman’s fiancé is responsible for her death, but all isn’t as it seems as corruption and greed are revealed to be the motive for the murder.

The non-linear storyline is messy and rough, with sub-plots that are nonsensical. The scenes are bizarrely spliced and interspersed with grainy CCTV footage of Echo and Derren’s crimes, as well as desaturated videos of police officers making various violent arrests that have nothing to do with the story. Add long, awkward silences and sparse dialogue, and you have a film that feels much longer than its 85 minutes.

Mistry has desperately tried to make an ‘arty’ version of Natural Born Killers, but fails to replicate Oliver Stone and Quentin Tarantino’s proclivity for gratuitous violence to cleverly move a plot forward and, with great cinematic effect to add.

The only thing noteworthy about the film is Alex McGregor’s portrayal of Echo. Previously seen as Christine in the wholesome, Spud 2, in Impunity McGregor exudes a troubled vulnerability that contrasts her bloodthirstiness. “I don’t want to be alone. I want to feel safe”, she tells Derren on the beach, perhaps revealing a motive or at least, a hint at why she’s turned to violence. Derren, however, is just a one-dimensional psychopath.

It’s difficult to be kind about this film. Impunity is incongruous, and vague, and would surely make Tarantino cringe, even as it tries to pay tribute to him. It desperately tries to comment on the culture of violence in South Africa, and the loss of the country’s “moral compass”. It fails, spectacularly.

Reviewers at the Toronto film festival, where it screened last year, weren’t much kinder. One describes how masses of filmgoers left the cinema even before the second set of killings, in search of better entertainment. I spent my viewing wishing I could do the same.

Director: Jyoti Mistry

Cast: Alex McGregor, Bjorn Steinbach, Desmond Dube, Vaneshran Arumugam

Rating: 1½ out of 5

Impunity releases in South African cinemas on 28 August 2015.