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#OnTheBigScreen: Tolkien, Toy Story 4 and Anna

Films entering the South African box office this week include the biopic of Lord of the Rings author JRR Tolkien; Woody, Buzz and the whole gang return in Toy Story 4; Oscar winner Octavia Spencer plays a creepy mother-type in Ma; Russian supermodel Sasha Luss makes the transition to the big screen in Anna; and two bookish girls cram four years of fun into one night in Olivia Wilde's directorial debut, Booksmart.


A story of how the young JRR Tolkien transformed from a lonely orphan into one of the great storytellers of all time – a story that is itself an enchanting tale lit with the power of imagination, the bonds of fellowship and the forging of purpose in the fires of love and war. Tolkien explores the formative years of the renowned author’s life as he finds friendship, courage and inspiration among a fellow group of writers and artists at school.

Their brotherhood strengthens as they grow up and weather love and loss together, including Tolkien’s tumultuous courtship of his beloved Edith Bratt, until the outbreak of the First World War – which threatens to tear their fellowship apart. All of these experiences would later inspire Tolkien to write his famous Middle-earth novels.

Rising star Nicholas Hoult depicts Tolkien, long before he published The Hobbit in 1937. The film is directed by Dome Karukoski from a screenplay crafted by David Gleeson and Stephen Beresford.  

Read more here.

Toy Story 4

The toys are back on the big screen with an all-new adventure! Woody, Buzz and the whole gang find themselves far from home, discovering new friends – and old ones – on an eye-opening road trip that takes them to unexpected places. Woody (Tom Hanks) has always been confident about his place in the world, and that his priority is taking care of his kid, whether that’s Andy or Bonnie. So when Bonnie’s beloved new craft-project-turned-toy, Forky (Tony Hale), declares himself as “trash” and not a toy, Woody takes it upon himself to show Forky why he should embrace being a toy.

But when Bonnie takes the whole gang on her family’s road trip excursion, Woody ends up on an unexpected detour that includes a reunion with his long-lost friend Bo Peep (Annie Potts). After years of being on her own, Bo’s adventurous spirit and life on the road belie her delicate porcelain exterior. As Woody and Bo realise they’re worlds apart when it comes to life as a toy, they soon come to find that’s the least of their worries.

Directed by Josh Cooley from a screenplay by Andrew Stanton and Stephany Folsom. 

Read more here and click here to stand the chance to win a Super Toy Story 4 Movie Hamper.


Everybody’s welcome at Ma’s. But good luck getting home safe. Oscar winner Octavia Spencer stars as Sue Ann, a loner who keeps to herself in her quiet Ohio town. One day, she is asked by Maggie (Diana Silvers), a teenager new in town, to buy some booze for her and her friends, and Sue Ann sees the chance to make some unsuspecting, if younger, friends of her own. She offers the kids the chance to avoid drinking and driving by hanging out in the basement of her home.

But there are some house rules: One of the kids has to stay sober. Don’t curse. Never go upstairs. And call her “Ma.” But as Ma’s hospitality starts to curdle into obsession, what began as a teenage dream turns into a terrorising nightmare, and Ma’s place goes from the best place in town to the worst place on earth. Directed by Tate Taylor from a screenplay by Scotty Landes.  

Read more here.


Much like writer-director Luc Besson’s hugely influential La Femme Nikita – which forever shattered the taboo against female-driven action movies – Anna tells the story of a resilient assassin who is used as a pawn but then breaks all the rules to control her own destiny. Beneath Anna Poliatova’s striking beauty lies a secret that will unleash her indelible strength and skill to become one of the world’s most feared government assassins. 

An electrifying thrill-ride unfolding with propulsive energy, startling twists and breathtaking action. The film introduces 26-year-old Russian supermodel Sasha Luss in the title role with a star-studded cast including Luke Evans, Cillian Murphy, and Academy Award winner Helen Mirren.  


Best friends and academic overachievers, Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) and Molly (Beanie Feldstein), thought keeping their noses to the grindstone gave them a leg up over their play-minded peers. But, on the eve of their graduation, these type-A ride-or-dies get a hardcore reality check and realise they may have missed out.

Determined to make up for lost time, they decide to cram four years of not-to-be-missed fun into one night – a chaotic adventure no amount of book smarts could prepare them for. Making her directorial debut is Olivia Wilde. Katie Silberman penned the script with Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins and Susanna Fogel.

Read more about the latest and upcoming film releases:
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About Daniel Dercksen

As a freelance film and theatre journalist for more than 30 years, published playwright and creator of the independent training initiative The Writing Studio, Daniel Dercksen has been a contributor for Lifestyle since 2012. Visit