Not Quite Above the Clouds


The darling of the judges of the Ethiopian International Film Festival (EthioIFF) held two weeks ago was K’demena Belay, taking home the three most important prizes, best writer, director and producer. A film with a hard-hitting plot-twist, and expressive visuals, it was one that nonetheless slightly disappointed Christian Tesfaye, who awards 5 out of 10 stars.


Silly, Colourful Lambadina

Lambadina, a film that was released three years ago is making the rounds at theatres of Addis Abeba. The cinematography is its most commendable feature, while its story leaves too much room for improvement. Christian Tesfaye was not nuts about the movie but still felt there is a great deal local films could learn from it, awarding 5 out of 10 stars.


Jumanji: An Unwelcoming Movie

Studio heads must have high regards for the box office appeal of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Kevin Hart to open Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle a week after the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. But what kept Christian Tesfaye around for the last reel was Jack Black’s performance. He awards 4 out of 10 stars.


Last Jedi Strikes Back

The lightsabers are on, futuristic guns are blazing and starships are travelling through the cosmos at light speed. It could only mean one thing, the most famous franchise has struck again. The much expected The Last Jedi is out, and it continues the story of the struggle for the heart of the galaxy. Christian Tesfaye liked it, awarding 8 out of 10 stars, and not just out of nostalgia, he claims.


Coco Lives to Entertain

Coco has a sense of humour about the afterlife. It is a place that is much like, well, life. And a 12-year-old that accidentally stumbles upon it (not to worry, no gruesome deaths here, just a tasteful curse), has to find his way back to the land of the living. Christian Tesfaye took the journey, was impressed by the skinny characters, the film’s emotional plotline but could not shake that the external conflict could have been solved early had someone uttered a simple sentence. He awards 8 out of 10 stars.


The Chemistry Amiss Between Us

Kate Winslet and Idris Elba are great actors; only that they could not act well together, which is a problem since they were expected to play lovers in The Mountain Between Us. Christian Tesfaye did not think it was as bad a movie as the critical bashing the film received had him believe still he awards 5 out of 10 stars.


Mark Felt: Two-thirds of a Film

Is history repeating itself in the Trump-Russia investigation? Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House, Matti Cinema’s recent offering, has no clue. It is a dramatisation of the eponymous real-life figure’s defining role during the Watergate Scandal, where he fulfilled the part of the famous Washington Post source “Deep Throat”. Christian Tesfaye was worse for wear for he felt cheated out of a climax, and a commentary on contemporary American politics, awarding 5 out of 10 stars.


Justice League, an Injustice to Audiences

DC Comic’s version of the Avengers is out, but with little success, either where movie critics or mainstream audiences are concerned. Christened Justice League, after the comic book series it gets its characters from, it is a bad movie even by the standards of many of 2017’s movies in particular, and superhero films in general. Christian Tesfaye awards 3 measly stars out of 10, the proverbial thumbs down.


Thrill, Warmth, Adventure Aboard the Orient Express

If one of the year’s most anticipated movies, Thor: Ragnarok, was a let-down, then the less intensely marketed, rather calm Agatha Christie adaptation that somehow made its way to Matti Cinema’s screens, thanks to an appearance by Johnny Depp, was a delightful surprise. Almost entirely taking place inside the interiors of a train’s carriages, directed with style and acted with care, Murder on the Orient Express is an engaging movie that has inspired Christian Tesfaye to give 8 out of 10 stars


Better than a Ragnarok

The hotly anticipated Thor: Ragnarok has opened in theatres around the world, and in Matti Cinema in Addis Abeba. Marvel’s fans are celebrating – understandable since this is by far the best film to solely star the fictional god of thunder. Christian Tesfaye, likewise, was excited to see the movie but felt cheated by a trailer adorned by Led Zepplin’s Immigrant Song and the film’s funniest moments aggregated into two to three minutes of intensity. He awards 6 out of 10 stars, with the “awesome” Cate Blanchett carrying most of the weight.


Un-American Erdmann

The European Film Festival, an annual event presented by the European Union (EU) has officially begun. The first film to be screened was the German movie Toni Erdmann, which was also nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2017 Academy Awards. But it is a long movie, subtitled and has a theme that is tough to crack, which could hurt Ethiopians’ delicate movie watching sensibilities. But Christian Tesfaye promises it is a journey worth taking, awarding a rare 10 out of 10 stars.


Gory, Contemplative, Above All Watchable Snowman

Critics hate The Snowman. The performances of Michael Fassbender and Rebecca Ferguson were singled out for praise, but the movie has been panned left and right. The mainstream cinema academia felt it did not tell the story correctly. Not Christian Tesfaye though, who sees a promising actor-director relationship in the making. He dares to award 7 out of 10 stars.


2049, Will Be Watched in 2049

Once in a while the exhibitors at Edna Mall, either by default or design, offer their audiences, not a movie where characters punch and kick each other, but one where the pain, joy or mediocrity of life are examined. Blade Runner 2049 is a good example. A sequel to the Harrison Ford starring cult favourite of the early 1980s, it is ideal to those unhurried to ask who am I, or where am I going? Christian Tesfaye must be one of those people, as he awards 8 out of 10 stars.


One Day at The Mosaic

At the backyard of The Mosaic Hotel, an open-air screening of the 2011 movie One Day was held. Christian Tesfaye attended the event, which he liked for its unique method of showcasing a movie but rejected the movie itself, awarding 4 out of 10 stars.


Flatliners Flatlines

Flatliners is a remake of the 1990’s sci-fi horror movie of the same name. It warns of experimentation and analysis and looks for supernatural answers to mental torment. Christian Tesfaye is thus disapproving, awarding a mere 3 out of 10 stars.


The Golden Circle, Not Kingly

The hotly anticipated sequel to the 2015 action extravaganza  Kingsman: The Secret Service has hit cinemas. But Christian Tesfaye almost hopes it had not, awarding 4 out of 10 stars to The Golden Circle.


It is Not Bad

‘It’ is not just a pronoun anymore. It is a movie too. And it has been a novel before that. Adapted from a book by Stephen King, the film introduces Pennywise, a killer clown. But be warned, he does not kill by being funny. Christian Tesfaye is fairly amused, awarding 6 out of 10 stars.   


American Made Cruise

Hollywood megastar Tom Cruise and director Doug Liman, both known for action movies, have collaborated once again. This time though, unlike the previous Edge of Tomorrow, it is for a film that is out of their comfort zones – the crime-drama American Made. The venture has proved satisfactory for Christian Tesfaye, who awards 7 out of 10 stars. 


Dark Tower

Stephen King is where Hollywood goes when content is scarce. Sometimes adaptations of his movies are successful. Other times, as witness Dreamcatcher, just plain atrocious. The Dark Tower is of the latter mould, receiving 4 out of 10 stars from Christian Tesfaye.


The Hitman’s Bodyguard

If Samuel L. Jackson, Ryan Reynolds and Gary Oldman cannot get one to visit the cinema, then Hollywood is doomed. But The Hitman’s Bodyguard is hollow, an ideal definition of lipstick on a pig. Christian Tesfaye awards 5 out of 10 stars.


Kidnap

Kidnap is a tough flick to admire, especially when the whole reason for its existence is the protagonist’s lack of a cellphone. Add to this one too many excruciatingly bad close-ups, and Christian Tesfaye awards 4 out of 10 stars.


Atomic Blonde

Though never as acclaimed as last week’s Dunkirk, Atomic Blonde is an equally impressive film that has been undeservedly underrated by the cinema intelligentsia. Christian Tesfaye awards 7 out of 10 stars.


Dunkirk

Christopher Nolan’s new movie Dunkirk has opened to rave reviews and, given its genre, impressive box office numbers. Christian Tesfaye was far less impressed, awarding the flick 7 out of 10 stars.


Baby Driver

Movies were born mute. In the early days of cinema, when film equipment was bulky, when 40 frames were made to run in a single second and intertitles were the…


The War of The Planet of The Apes

The sequels seem to never stop, but this one is different. It has inspired interest from Christian Tesfaye, Fortune’s in-house film critic, instead of apathy. 8 out of 10 stars.  




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