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Thrilling and action packed right from the start, with exceptional acting from a well picked cast, this movie, South Africa’s official submission to the 86th Academy Awards (Best Foreign Language Film), has either been hailed or heavily criticised for various reasons by the scores of people who have seen it.
Depicting a world where gang wars have been continuosly raging for decades and where the prison gang system has ruled for around a whole century, this film was bound to draw a fare share of attention.
 
However possibly the most notable phenomenon about this movie could well be that more people on the Cape Flats including myself, have seen it in the past four months before its official release in March 2014, than any could ever afford to pay to watch it in a cinema.
Whether the internet leak was intentional or just a fluke, I am ecstatic that I got to view such an important movie which could well be a milestone in South African cinematography.
 
Directed by Ian Gabriel, the name Four Corners which when translated to Afrikaans is 'Vier Hoeke', a gangland term for jail, is in fact an intentional wordplay that really refers to the four completely different lives that will forever be changed as the story unfolds and they converge.
The official facebook page for the movie says: "Four lives will change forever as the destinies of a reformed prison general, a local cop, a charismatic gang leader and a surgeon back from London intersect with a young boy's coming of age in a tale of family lost and family regained in the unknown world of the Cape Flats."
 
It also says that the plot is a multi-thread, coming of age drama set in a unique and volatile South African sub-culture. Four Corners is a tale of family lost and family regained. At times raw and violent, at other times touching and true, the four lives of Farakhan, Leila, Tito and Gasant converge around Ricardo, weaving together universal themes of love, loss, betrayal and redemption.
 
The cast portraying the above named characters are as follows.
Brendon Daniels as Farakhan
Irshaad Ally as Gasant
Lindiwe Matshikiza as Leila
Abduragman Adams as Tito
and introducing Jezzreil Skei as Ricardo.
 

Jezzreil is originally from Johannesburg but the moody broody attitude he portrays is truly a reflection of many a teenage boy on the Cape Flats who have had the difficult life Ricardo's character was born into but does not really want to grow up to become a part of.
The acting is absolutely superb, the entire cast are more than believable and paired with excellent visuals, the film captured different parts of the Cape Flats and made them all look as if they flow into each creating the illusion that the areas are actually adjacent to each other.
Those visuals bring to life another central theme of the movie revolving around the game of chess letting one imagine the Cape Flats as one big chess board. That has led to a Four Corners being nominated for the 2014 Design Indaba's MBOISA (Most Beautiful Object in South Africa) Award. 
In his nomination note, Alistair King comments that the way Four Corners reveals Cape Town as a "complex messy city with the idea of Cape Flats gangsterism interpreted as a game of chess... is at the heart of its beauty". 
 
In an article on Bizcomunity.com it is noted that the idea of chess is a central motif in the structure, pace and design of Ian Gabriel's movie where the strategy, tactics and end gambit required as a young boy negotiates his way through a week of survival on the Cape Flats is compared with the strategy and tactics required to negotiate one's way across the Four Corners of a chessboard.
 
It is this intricate analogy that truly depicts what many a young man (and young woman) on the Cape Flats has to carefully negotiate as they make life defining choices. Sometimes in life, as in chess, the rule of "A touch is a move" applies.
 

Many of the criticism claiming that the movie glorifies the gangster life seems to be unfounded and are probably from people who may have had limited exposure to what the thug life on the Cape Flats is all about or who have not seen the whole movie. 
After all the binding thread of the plot is that the outcome of your life depends on the choices you make.
 
A criticism I do however agree with comes from an unexpected corner. An ex-convict friend who prefers not to be named says that the movie uses too much 'close-to-authentic protocol' when prison 'numbers' gang members interact and that this could give young people a fake sense of knowing what it really is all about when in fact they are not "qualified" or "entitled" to use any of the language and mannerisms depicted. 
 
Another important aspect of this movie that has received some great accolades but also stirred some controversy is the soundtrack ...and What a Brilliant Soundtrack it is!
As quoted in various articles the producers say that "The film uses 'found' and original South African music by musicians as diverse as Felix laBand, Khuli Chana, Hemelbesem, Rattex, Jits Vinger, Cream, Kyle Shepherd and Isaac Mutant."
That term "found" has led to speculation from many Hip Hop insiders that some artists were not consulted on the use of their intellectual property. 
Bruinou.com has however not recieved any feedback from the actual artists whose music feature in the movie so that could by all accounts just be a rumour.
If not, then artists and film makers should all start looking at how and where musicians who are not signed to major labels should be drawing the line on where awesome free publicity ends and where blatant exploitation starts, but that is an issue best dealt with by the artists themselves.
 
This motion picture has probably the best mix of intrigue, suspense, action, raw emotion, more action plus a good dose of controversial realities, that I have ever seen in an original South African film.
Chances are that theatres on the Cape Flats will not be breaking any attendance records since half the population has already seen it but there is no doubt that Four Corners has set some new benchmarks that will draw even more international attention to South Africa's film industry.

Check out the official trailer.

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