It probably didn’t help that I was getting over being ill and feeling frustrated that I was still not 100% when I sat down to watch Sink. Emotions of the kind stirred up by pain meds and the helplessness that comes along with having the flu were hovering below the surface as I settled in to watch the film, although I didn’t realise just how much so until I got to the final act of this superb and moving drama about loss and forgiveness.
I didn’t want to know too much about the film going in, other than it being South African director/writer Brett Michael Innes’s debut feature film. Innes wrote the novel Rachel Weeping, upon which the film is based. It’s the story of one woman’s loss, an accidental but deeply tragic one, as another woman in her life experiences a gain, and while it’s set in Johannesburg, South Africa, it would certainly resonate across in any country, for the feelings it stirs within those watching it.
Rachel, played by Shoki Mokgapa, is a woman from Mozambique who works for young couple, cleaning their house. The film opens with the couple (Anel Alexander and Jacques Bessenger) sitting across from Rachel, confirming with her that she does indeed want to return working for them again. We get the sense it’s not entirely of her free will to do, and it’s clear something very terrible happened. If you read the synopsis of the story, you’ll know immediately what that was. But whatever your knowledge of the plot, the tension between the two time phases of the story – before and after the tragic event, deftly alternate as the film unfolds, drawing you more and more into the story. It starts a little slow to get going, but that seems deliberate, as you are immersed in the domesticity of the story, and the every-day-ness of it.
By the time it reaches its conclusion, the tears, or at least the empathy evoked from the filmmaker about the sheer tragedy and sadness of the situation is brought to the fore – through careful direction, music (by the excellent Chris Letcher) and scene-setting in a muted palate of colours. Although it is indeed a sad story, the way it plays out and the actions taken by Rachel show the remarkable way humans can surprise us.
That it is set within South Africa means the film takes the opportunity to touch on some of the textures that make this country what it is at present – the class divide, racial differences, the experience of some immigrants. The couple each has their flaws, and their redeeming qualities – but Rachel too is shown in shades of grey. At the heart of the story though, is how we respond when things happen beyond our control, and then on the flipside, what we do when we have the capacity to make a decision and choose to act or not. Sink is a remarkable film that will take a while to settle, and that’s a good thing. One thing did bother me at the end, but it would ruin the film if I were to go into detail about it, suffice to say, if you’re drawn into the story, you’ll notice it but it won’t change the experience you have of the film.
It’s notched up four awards at the Afrikaans-film festival Silwerskerm late last year; here’s hoping it finds an international audience too.
Before dashing off to South Africa to co-host the SA Film and TV Awards red carpet, I got to sit down with a couple of Greeks – and John Corbett – to talk about the sequel that was 15 years in the making.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 picks up about a decade after the last one ended, with Toula and Ian married and raising their teenage daughter. The film, as you would expect, is made up of a lot of the same jokes and chuckles that went into the first one. Only they’re not as classic – who could ever forget: “What do you mean he don’t ear no meat? That’s okay, I make lamb.” Nia and John return as parents to Paris, (a role taken on by French/Greek actress Elena Kampouris, who, as you will see in the interview, is played with great restraint) and they’re feeling worn out by the mundane routine of life. It’s a pity the film felt the need to show us frumpy Toula, as the film opens with her looking frazzled and haggard. We’ve seen this before, and we didn’t need it again. But overall, it’s still a fun romp through family ups-and-downs, if that’s what you’re looking for. I laughed and, much to my surprise, felt a few goosebumps during the wedding ceremony that takes place in the film. There truly is nothing like a good Greek wedding, and this film definitely serves up one of those!
I spoke to the cast about returning for a sequel, and I asked John (forever fondly remembered as Ian and, of course, Carrie’s ex Aidan) about his favourite traditions. Elena Kampouris was a treat to talk to, and I came away feeling a lot of Opa! for life and love in general.
If I find myself in Los Angeles on a Monday night, I always try make it out to a BlacklistLA run. The route involves heading to a mural of street art or two, taking in some of the sights of LA along the way. I do those two things on my own a lot, but there’s something about sharing in the experience with a couple hundred others. I’ll never forget the first time I went, meeting at the glorious Disney Concert Hall, and then heading out into the streets of LA, at 10pm, about 200-300 of us, running into the night. It was heady and exhilarating!
Following along on Instagram, I’ve watched how BlacklistLA has grown – from putting on their first 5K in honour of the City of Los Angeles’ birthday to having an artist create a special BlacklistLA mural. So I was really excited to talk to founder Erik Valiente and find out more about his personal love of running and how it fuels his passion for the group. He’s not a “traditional pen on paper artist,” as he sees it, but he brings a creativity to the routes he curates around the city, fostering a love for running and community that is absolutely inspiring.
“If you commit 100% to something and expect nothing, but you do it from the bottom of your heart, because you want to see people happy, you get to see your community change,” he says. Erik shares how he stepped out of the car, and started appreciating seeing life on foot, or by bike, which is his preferred mode of transport now. We met in Downtown LA’s Little Tokyo, and talked and ran…
For more on BlacklistLA, click on over to their site, and follow them on Instagram. And if you live in LA, go on one of their runs – you won’t regret it!
I’m back in sunny Los Angeles for the Oscars – the 88th annual Academy Awards. The mood is a little muted here, ahead of Sunday, and there are a few reasons for that, but mostly because of Oscars’ lack of diversity in the nominees.
If you’re interested in in-depth reads about the issue and how you as a filmmaker or film fan can play a part in improving the industry, then I would suggest reading this excellent piece from The Atlantic and this one from the New York Times.
For this week’s episode of The Rundown, I decided to talk-and-run the big categories for this year.