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Hunting Emma (2017)

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 Hunting EmmaGentle, beautiful, pacifist Emma witnesses a murder in the wild. Six violent men killing a cop in cold blood. So, they hunt her like an animal in the desolate Karoo. She should have been an easy prey. But life is full of surprises.

Genre : Thriller
Country : South Africa

Cast :
Leandie du Randt : Emma
Neels van Jaarsveld : Bosman
Luan Jacobs : Piet

Director :
Byron Davis

My opinion on “Hunting Emma”

“Geweld kweek geweld.
Ek wil ’n ou hê wat die ander wang kan draai.
’n Gentle ou. Punt.”

Quote from Channel 24 : “Jagveld”. The local skop, skiet and donner flick.

It’s quite obvious that I’d compare this one with the movie “Revenge“, which I’ve seen recently. Both films take place in a searingly hot desert. Once again it’s an innocent, vulnerable young woman who’s being chased by some ruthless men. And just like in “Revenge” these macho’s soon learn that it’s not some stupid blonde chick they are hunting, but a ruthless fighting machine whose father (an ex-soldier) has taught her a few tricks about self-defense and survival techniques. The pursuers are just as stupid and overconfident as in the other mentioned movie. And in “Hunting Emma” there’s also a lot of bloodshed.

My first South African movie ever.

Hunting Emma” or “Jagveld” is different from “Revenge” in all kinds of ways. The acting is not of the same level (although you can discuss about whether or not there’s some kind of acting in a revenge flick). The amount of blood that flows looks credibe. In short, the victims don’t have an inexhaustible blood reserve. The retaliatory actions are reasonably soft. But the main distinction can be found in the used language. I had no idea this was a South African film. You can imagine my surprise when I suddenly realized that I understood quite a bit while watching this film. It’s a juicy mixture of weird sounding Dutch and hip English expressions. I have to admit that I really love this South African language.

Hunting Emma

A perfect working car is necessary in South Africa.

It all starts when Emma le Roux (Leandie du Randt), a beloved school teacher, is on her way to her father Jacques le Roux (Tertius Meintjes), to enjoy a well-deserved summer vacation. Only disaster strikes on the road when her car breaks down. Coincidentally, this is just near the place where Bosman (Neels van Jaarsveld) and his gang arrived after they’ve kidnapped a policeman who stopped them for a routine check. I suppose Bosman and his gang are involved in drug smuggling. Anyway, something they want to keep hidden from the local authority. Emma happens to be in the neighborhood cursing at her her car because of a leaking radiator. That’s when she hears a shot in the distance. Before she knows it, those kooks are chasing her just so they can shut up this annoying witness for good. It’s such a typically composed gang. Bosman, Baz and Jay are the die-hard criminals without any compassion. AJ and Boela are, in my opinion, two wannabe criminals who want to make a quick buck. And Piet (Luan Jacobs) is the wimp of the gang who will shit his pants faster than shooting a real revolver.

Hunting Emma

Not really original, but worth a try.

Despite the shortcomings, I found the end result admirable. Leandie du Randt convinces as the adamant Emma. Just like Jen in “Revenge” she turns out to be a real Lara Croft who suddenly concocts smart diversions and behaves as a fury while outsmarting her attackers. Among the latter are mainly Neels van Jaarsveld with his psychotic traits and softie Luan Jacobs who excell. Maybe this African film borrowed a bit from other films and as a result won’t score high in originality. But it sure radiates Hollywood allure. Karoo film describes the film on their facebook page as follows : ” polsende aksie in ware ‘Quentin Tarantino-styl’ wat die kyker uitdaag” (Pulsating action in true ‘Quentin Tarantino-style’, challenging the viewer). Brilliant. Nie?

My rating 7/10
Links : IMDB

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Comedy

A Kind of Kidnapping – Dark Comedy with Politics

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Written and directed by Dan Clark, this fairly star studded independent film follows a young couple who are stuck in a financial situation, and decide to kidnap a sleazy conservative politician in order to receive a ransom, that will allow them to escape their static lives.

Patrick Baladi (The Office) plays Hardy our creepy politician, Kelly Wenham (Double Date) plays Maggie, a complex woman who seemingly is always drawn to the “bad boy”, Jack Parry-Jones (The Crown) plays Brian our voice of reason within all of this, or is he?

A Kind of Kidnapping [2023]

The character development is well written and allows the space for character arcs, unlike a lot of small films, where there isn’t that room in the script. The three main leads feel very grounded and familiar, everyone knows someone like this in their life or perhaps public figures in the media.

The performances of the main three lead actors are great, if it wasn’t for them, I don’t think this film would work as well. Alongside the strong performances, the editing of the film helped to navigate this non-linear plot and allowed the film to peel aways the layers of backstory which all helped to create a stronger character driven piece.

A Kind of Kidnapping [2023]

As the film was nearing the final act,  it felt as though it was dragging a little. Dan Clark mentioned in the Q&A after the screening how this was a short film before and I can definitely see how it could work in a confined setting really well. Maybe there was a bit of padding in second to third act to reach that feautre length requirement that didn’t aid certain character moments.

If you want to hear my full thoughts, the best thing to do is check out my review over on YouTube and let me know your thoughts in the comments. 

When independent film is fighting for its life, A Kind of Kidnapping is the light in the dark. This is one of the better British produced indie films I’ve seen in a long time. 

A Kind of Kidnapping is out on digital on 24th July on iTunes, Amazon, Google and Sky.

This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the [series/movie/etc] being covered here wouldn’t exist.

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indie

Ms. Davis’ Close Friend | Film Review

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This short film written and directed by Richard Schertzer tackles the themes of mortality, loneliness, and memory through the perspective of the main character Marina Davis (Danette lllig), a breast cancer patient.

Marina is visited by her carer, Katie (Kike Ayodeji), who lends warmth to her character and provides a ray of hope for Marina’s daily struggle. Marina’s sole family is her son John (Donald Imm), who is away for college and on a trip to China, so she can only video contact him, which adds to Marina’s loneliness. Then Angel of Death (Trey G. Riley), an enigmatic figure, enters the picture. This causes her to ponder life and death, as well as what will happen beyond.

Ms. Davis’ Close Friend [Credit: Richard Schertzer]



The film’s primary highlight employs a sombre colour scheme to depict the protagonist’s sorrowful mood. The sceneries are mostly grey, black, and white in colouration. The lack of colour suggests that the character has lost interest and enjoyment in life, seeing everything as drab and depressing. Instead of informing the audience how the character feels through speech or narrative, the film uses this visual technique to show the audience how the character feels.

Marina is placed in the centre of the frame by the director (Schertzer) to illustrate how she is the major focus, but also how the other characters swirl around her. Despite the fact that the tale solely takes place within the structure, Schertzer captures the audience’s attention with unique views, angle frames, and music soundtrack. While the concepts are similar to the Netflix series After Life (2019-2020), the short film allows the spectator to empathise with the character’s emotions. 

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Drama

‘Wednesday’ Co-Stars Jenna Ortega and Percy Hynes White to Star in Romance Film ‘Winter Spring Summer or Fall’

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Even the folks at Netflix couldn’t have thought that Wednesday would turn into the hit that it did. The Addams Family property is one that many in the cultural zeitgeist are aware of, however, many would be hard pressed to believe that the mythology within that franchise is as rich as Tim Burton has been able to make it with the series. One of the reasons for that is for Jenna Ortega who plays the titular Wednesday Addams, and she has lined up her next project.

According to an exclusive from Deadline, Ortega will re-team with Percy Hynes White, who plays Xavier Thorpe on Wednesday for the romantic drama, Winter Spring Summer or Fall. The film will be the directorial debut of Tiffany Paulsen with Ortega serving as an executive producer on the project. Winter Spring Summer or Fall is described as Before Sunrise meets The Perks of Being a Wallflower following two teens coming-of-age into adulthood who meet and fall in love over four days throughout the year in all four seasons, hence the title of the flick.

Ortega has been skyrocketing to stardom due to Wednesday but has had a massive year in film and television. The young Latina was recently nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance in the Netflix original but also starred in horror films Scream 5 and in 2022. She’ll next be seen in Scream 6 which hits theaters in March 2023. The highly in-demand actress will also star in a crime thriller for Paramount titled Finest Kind alongside Ben Foster and Tommy Lee Jones as well as Miller’s Girl for Lionsgate where she’ll star with Martin Freeman. Ortega’s co-star Hynes White is best known for his lead role in Fox’s X-Men based series, The Gifted where he played Andy Strucker.

Paulsen is best known for writing the Netflix holiday rom com Holidate which starred Emma Roberts. Additionally, Paulsen also wrote About Fate which stars Roberts, Thomas Mann, Madelaine Petsch and Britt Robertson which is streaming currently on Amazon.

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