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#OntheBigScreen: Spies, Romance, Renoir and Sun City

Charlize Theron explodes in Atomic Blonde as MI6's most elite spy who partners with an embedded station chief to navigate her way through the deadliest game of spies; in the thriller 2.22, a young man must take control of time itself to save a love whose second chance has come; based on a true story, Maudie charts the unlikely romance between a folk artist who blossoms in later life, and a curmudgeonly recluse; the documentary Renoir - Revered and Reviled is a fresh new biography on this artistic giant and uncovers a rarely told story that places Renoir as a critical link between the old and the new; and 10 Days In Sun City is the latest comedy from South Africa-based Nigerian movie producer and actor comedian Adze Ugah.

Atomic Blonde

A breakneck action-thriller that follows MI6’s most elite spy through a ticking time bomb of a city simmering with revolution and double-crossing hives of traitors.

The crown jewel of Her Majesty’s Secret Intelligence Service, Agent Lorraine Broughton (Theron) is equal parts spycraft, sensuality and savagery, willing to deploy any of her skills to stay alive on her impossible mission. Sent alone to Berlin to deliver a priceless dossier out of the destabilised city, she partners with embedded station chief David Percival (James McAvoy, Split, X-Men series) to navigate her way through the deadliest game of spies.

A blistering blend of sleek action, gritty sexuality and dazzling style, Atomic Blonde is directed by David Leitch (co-director, John Wick; director of upcoming Deadpool 2), who has imagined a world as brutal and deadly as it is real.

The film is based on the Oni Press graphic novel series The Coldest City written by Antony Johnston and illustrated by Sam Hart. The screenplay was crafted by Kurt Johnstad (300).

“It was a Wild West atmosphere,” marvels Charlize Theron, who began developing the script almost five years ago, with an eye to perform in the action-thriller. 

“You had the Soviet KGB and the East German Stasi against the American CIA, British MI6 and French DGSE.  Graft, bribery, blackmail, violence – this was the daily diet for those agents at that time,” says Theron.

“I’ve always loved the genre, having read quite a lot of John le Carré, and enjoyed the James Bond movies and the Harry Palmer movies like Funeral in Berlin.  I’ve never forgotten the fall of the Berlin Wall.  I remember watching it unfold on live television, and it felt like such a momentous occasion – something that could lead to global peace and a brighter future.  I figured that the anticipation of it could make for an exciting backdrop to a spy story,” says screenwriter, Kurt Johnstad.


In this romantic thriller, New York City air traffic controller Dylan Branson (Michiel Huisman) is the embodiment of a guy at the top of his game, until one day at 2:22pm, a blinding flash of light paralyzes him for a few crucial seconds as two passenger planes barely avoid a mid-air collision. Suspended from his job, Dylan begins to notice the increasingly ominous repetition of sounds and events in his life that happen at exactly the same time every day. An underlying pattern builds, mysteriously drawing him into Grand Central Station every day 2:22pm. As he’s drawn into a complex relationship with a beautiful woman who works in an art gallery, Sarah (Teresa Palmer), disturbingly complicated by her ex-boyfriend Jonas (Sam Reid), Dylan must break the power of the past, and take control of time itself.

US based Australian director and producer Paul Currie’s first encounter with the bewitching riddle of 2:22 came in the form of a bold, visionary script written by Todd Stein.

“Todd Stein had this wonderful karmic view of life. When he first conceived the story, Todd had some medical issues, which put him into a really interesting frame of mind to write such a story. As soon as I read his script, I thought: ‘This is something that’s in my DNA as a director’. Todd’s script was dark, but I felt that inside the thriller was an idea, a conceit around time and love through time, that was expansive.

From the moment I first read the script, I realised that 2:22 was one of those rare commercial projects that appealed on many levels. I pitched Todd my take on how I saw the film from a director’s perspective, which in a nutshell, was to make an intelligent high-concept romantic thriller; a film that is highly cinematic, visceral and mysterious, offering viewers a compelling and thrilling ride from the first frame to the last,” says Currie.


This biographical romantic drama is based on a true story, the unlikely romance in which the reclusive Everett Lewis (Ethan Hawke) hires a fragile yet determined woman named Maudie (Sally Hawkins) to be his housekeeper. Maudie, bright-eyed but hunched with crippled hands, yearns to be independent, to live away from her protective family, and also yearns, passionately, to create art. Unexpectedly, Everett finds himself falling in love.

Maudie charts Everett’s efforts to protect himself from being hurt, Maudie’s deep and abiding love for this difficult man and her surprising rise to fame as a folk painter.

“I first read Sherry White’s screenplay in a hotel room in Cardiff in Wales. It had been sent to me earlier that day. Often the first time I read a script I read as fast as I can. Keep turning the pages. Whatever stays with you after that first read is the thing that will haunt you. Whatever that picture or pictures are will stay with you. Maud Lewis started to haunt me that evening. Everything about her. I got online. I started to search for her pictures. With me, that means I am half way there – half way to saying yes, I want in. I was fascinated by her struggle to be an artist having trained as one myself. The first picture I found was a black and white photograph of Maud towards the end of her life. She was standing hunched in the doorway of her little house. You can see her small painting table beside the window. Everett is standing outside with some logs in his arms. I couldn’t get the image of a wounded bird and a scarecrow out of my mind. Maud and Everett – outsiders. Loners. Silent,” says director Aisling Walsh.

Renoir – Revered and Reviled

The Exhibition On Screen documentary joins the longstanding debate over the merit of the artist’s ‘late period’ works.

The documentary of Pierre-Auguste Renoir is a fresh new biography of this artistic giant and uncovers a rarely told story that places Renoir as a critical link between the old and the new. While his impressionist paintings of Paris brought him fame and count among the world’s favourites, Renoir grew tired of this style and changed course.

This stunning film – based on the remarkable collection of 181 Renoirs at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia – examines the direction he then took and why it provokes such extreme reactions, even today.  Some didn’t approve of Renoir’s later works while others were captivated and is said to have influenced two artistic giants of the 20th century – Picasso and Matisse.

The film’s run time is 100 minutes, with screening times on 26, 30 and 31 August at 7.30pm, and on 27 August at 2.30pm.

10 Days in Sun City

The latest comedy from award-winning South-African based Nigerian movie producer and actor comedian, Adze Ugah which is the third instalment of the hilarious ‘Akpos’ franchise (30 Days In Atlanta, A Trip To Jamaica).

Bianca is a campus beauty queen who Akpos has sacrificed his livelihood to make successful. After successfully winning a national beauty pageant, Bianca, ever loyal to Akpos, is now an international celebrity rolling with society’s ‘high and mighty’. Otunba, who is also invested in Bianca follows Akpos and Bianca to Sun City –  but will Akpos give up his love with all the sweat he has invested or will Otunba lose this time, with the use of his wit and charm as the ‘old fox’ which he has used to conquer like he has done, time and again, in the world of business?

A star-studded movie featuring stars Ayo Makun (popularly known as AY), Richard Mofe-Damijo, Adesua Etomi, Mercy Johnson, Falz The Bahd Guy, 2Baba Idibia, Gbenro Ajibade, Fathia Balogun, Uti Nwachukwu, Yvonne Jegede and Alexx Ekubo.

It also features International actors Miguel Nunez Jr., Amanda Du Pont, Thenjiwe Moseley and Celeste Ntuli among others. It is directed by Adze Ugah, written by Kehinde Ogunlola and produced by AY.

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About Daniel Dercksen

Daniel Dercksen has been a contributor for Lifestyle since 2012. As the driving force behind the successful independent training initiative The Writing Studio and a published film and theatre journalist of 40 years, teaching workshops in creative writing, playwriting and screenwriting throughout South Africa and internationally the past 22 years. Visit

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