Tuesday, 19 December 2017

“Vuil Wasgoed” Doesn’t Remove Stains

Vuil Wasgoed, the new film by Morné du Toit, who also directed this year’s Nul is nie niks nie, is a particular cinematic experience that is peculiar to summarise and describe. It’s an enjoyment without joy, a stylishness without style, a sentimentality of little sentiment, an assured thought with no thinking, calibration without precision, and velocity without force. It is, in other words, the best of South African cinema. So obsessed are so many of our country’s filmmakers with the dazzle and the cultural and commercial heft of the international mainstream that most of their efforts seem like dizzy attempts for them to either match up to or ostentatiously remove themselves from the treads and territories of general Hollywood fare.

Read what others had to say about Vuil Wasgoed.

Du Toit is in the aspirational camp. The script was written by Bennie Fourie and Bouwer Bosch, who also both star in the film, and du Toit finds just the right cinematic cliché to match the bathos and banality of every gag and every signifier they give him. The script does not develop much of its threads beyond their initial conception, and the direction doesn’t find or even look for anything beneath its colourful surfaces. Production values on South African movies are on the up, and have been over the past decade, and there’s a terrific professional gloss to this film; every scene is brightly lit, each character is fastidiously dressed and made up, each setting is meticulously prepared, hard work obviously went into creating a sound design and musical soundtrack to support the images, and the various production assistants and teams have paid clear attention to much of the detail included in the film. Each scene is diligently calibrated to fill out a mood, convey a plot point, or thrash out a few self-satisfied wisecracks and pratfalls.

Monday, 18 December 2017

Critic’s-Eye View: “Vuil Wasgoed”

Following up his hit Nul is nie niks nie from earlier this year, Morné du Toit has a new film in theatrical release right now: the Afrikaans crime-caper-comedy Vuil Wasgoed. I have not had a chance to see it myself, but can report on what other reviewers and commentators have been saying about it.

Read The Back Row’s review of Vuil Wasgoed.

Herman Eloff awarded the film three stars in his review for Channel24, stating that, considering the risks of adapting a short film into a feature-length comedy, “it worked out just fine.”

The big screen version is far more polished than the original short. It’s slicker, smoother, and faster. Even the cinematography is sexier with an expensive, international feel to it. The characters have also grown and are a lot more developed and interesting to watch. … Vuil Wasgoed really is a breath of fresh air in the local cinematic offering. It’s well-made and beautifully put together. But it also has its problems.
Although a stellar cast, some characters really dropped the ball a few times. When a strategically placed joke falls flat it results in an uncomfortable silence from the audience. … The constant jabs at [the film’s two disabled characters, a blind man and deaf woman] were insensitive and completely unnecessary. Instead of using this opportunity to include disabled characters into the narrative, they were rather used as an easy target to make fun of. This kind of ableism should never by okay and should not be encouraged in any way. The crude treatment of the disabled left a dirty stain on an otherwise pristine effort.”