Jozi

2010-03-01 08:59
 
Jozi

What it's about:


James (Carl Beukes) is a successful comedy writer. There is only one small problem: He lives in Johannesburg and has completely lost his sense of humour. Crime, politics, pessimism and feather-duster salesmen have invaded every cell of his body causing him to lose the very spark of humour which enables him to earn his living. He has other problems too – his girlfriend Allison (Jena Dover) has left him for the most boring man in the world; his entire family has emigrated; he has thrown his producer’s computer out the window and developed a serious drug problem. In the maddest of madcap journeys, James must travel through the highways and byways of South Africa from Daspoort Rehab back to Johannesburg to try and find his elusive sense of humour as well as his ability to love and laugh again.

What we thought:


Beyond the screwball antics and manic performances as seen in the trailer, lies a smart and genuinely funny comedy that takes a wry but telling look at the city of Johannesburg - and what it takes to survive the place.

Writer-director Craig Freimond explored similar themes in his 2004 film Gums and Noses and has roped in a who's who of South African theatre, film and television talent to play the diverse and unforgettable gang of characters who both help and hinder James in his quest for serenity. There's Martin (played by scene-stealer Lionel Newton), James crime-in-partner who is also an expert dagga farmer, his Type-A-with-attitude producer Thembi (Moshidi Moshegwa), the fanatical Reverend Vermeulen (James Borthwick) who runs the notorious Daspoort rehab centre where James is exiled to (motto: "At Daspoort there is only one pill - and that is the gos-pill!"), his paranoid neighbour Mike (Frank Opperman) and the jovial feather duster salesman whose prime aim is to get James to buy his wares - no matter what.

What James' absent parents advise is that he leaves the whole damn crumbling mess behind and join them in Australia, where they never have to lock their doors and curse South Africa to the dogs from the safety of their new home away from home. And there is very little to keep James in Jozi - his friends have abandoned him, he hates the tired crap he has to churn out for the country's most successful TV sitcom Jozi Jives, and he has no choicde but to squat in the unfurnished house his parents are struggling to sell. But something is keeping him in his hometown. Is it the infectious energy of the city that feeds his creativity, the thrill of driving through Jozi's hijack hotspots, or could it be the beautiful Brenda (Lindi Matshikiza) whose cigarettes and sardonic wit has given him new perspective?

At just under two hours, Jozi squeezes plenty of ideas and styles into its running time – including a particularly surreal device in which James engages in full-on discussions with the naïve characters from his sitcom – that it can prove quite a task to keep up with it at times. Though that’s hardly a fault when so much of SA’s most popular comedies have got by on just the one running gag, something Freimond cheekily addresses with this script.

Is it finally safe for more discerning comedy fans to place their trust in a South African film? You bet. There is much to crow about Jozi. The performances are a real treat (marking Carl Beukes as a more than capable leading man) and relishes in a satirical silliness that feels honest, true and proudly South African. Prepare to be pleasantly surprised.


Carl Beukes plays a drug addict comedy writer who tries to find a job and his sense of humour in a city that's driving him insane.

Jozi@Rocks 2010/03/01 11:53 AM
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Jozi, rocks... seen the movie, lovely view of jouberg , a must watch for all joubergians 5 star......
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