Entries tagged with “Cinema Nouveau”.

Uber ice creamThe Sweet Service Award goes to Uber, for its innovative international launch (in 130 countries) of #UberIceCream 2014 tomorrow, to ‘turn the other cheek to the winter chill’ in South Africa, and to position Uber as much more than an alternative taxi service.  Packages of tubs of frozen yoghurt, toppings, Uber swag scarves, and delivery tomorrow between  11h00 – 17h00 are available to order on the Uber app at R120 in Cape Town, and R165 in Johannesburg, Pretoria, and Johannesburg.  To launch the campaign in South Africa, it is linked locally to Nelson Mandela Day today.  Sick children at the Johannesburg General Hospital will be spoilt with an ice cream delivery this weekend.  The company will also bring children from the Alex AIDS Project in Johannesburg to a Filo Yoghurt outlet, and to Myög for children from the Uluntu Centre in Cape Town, so that they can make up their favourite frozen yoghurt treats. (more…)

The Sweet Service Award goes to I my Laundry, for its invitation to lady lifestyle bloggers to attend its Taittinger Heart FM After Eden function yesterday evening.  I  my Laundry has been open for less than three months, and has already established itself as one of the most creative function venues, coming up with unusual food and beverage pairings and themes. Taittinger brand ambassador in South Africa, Mike Cox, shared that there are 20 million bottles of the champagne under maturation in Reims at any point in time, and that they produce 6 million bottles per year, with a minimum of 4 years maturation. Their product range is a Brut Reserve Non-Vintage, a Cuvé Prestige Brut Rosé, and a 2005 Brut Reserve.  The function was an opportunity for Tweeters and bloggers to connect, most not having previously met.

The Sour Service Award goes to the Sunday Times, which carried a full page advertisement last week, inviting readers to an ‘Exclusive Sunday Times movie screening’ of ‘The Romantics’, at Cinema Nouveau branches in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban, and at Cavendish Square in Cape Town. When they arrived at the cinema, a number of angry and very disappointed moviegoers were turned away, as the movie was fully booked.  The invitation was not subject to a ‘first come first served’ clause, nor was a number given for one to call to book a seat. All one was asked to do was to bring a coupon contained in the newspaper ad to the cinema. The manager of the Cinema Nouveau Cavendish Square absolved his cinema of any responsibility, saying that it was the fault of the Sunday Times!

The WhaleTales Sweet & Sour Service Awards are presented every Friday on the WhaleTales blog.  Nominations for the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be sent to Chris von Ulmenstein at info@whalecottage.com. Past winners of the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be read on the Friday posts of this blog, and in the WhaleTales newsletters on the www.whalecottage.com website.

The Sweet Service Award goes to Mercedes Benz (Culemborg branch) and its Service Advisor Yazid Bohardien.  The car’s water bottle had come loose and was resting near the tyre, so I popped into the workshop over a lunchtime, asking Yazid if the staff could assist me in getting it correctly fitted again.  He told me that the workshop is closed over lunchtime, and that I would have to wait for half an hour.  In less than this time, he came back to me, saying that he had fixed the problem himself, without requiring any parts from the Parts Division.  He refused to accept payment.

The Sour Service Award goes to Cinema Nouveau V & A Waterfront, for its technical problems with the movie ‘Brighton Rock’, which meant that they could not screen the movie for a number of days, as the movie was ‘broken’, we were told by the ticket office staff.  The newspaper ad did not indicate that the movie was not showing, and it meant that one went to the V&A Waterfront for nothing.

The WhaleTales Sweet & Sour Service Awards are presented every Friday on the WhaleTales blog.  Nominations for the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be sent to Chris von Ulmenstein at info@whalecottage.com.   Past winners of the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be read on the Friday posts of this blog, and in the WhaleTales newsletters on the www.whalecottage.com website.

The just-released (in South African cinemas) internationally-produced movie ‘Black Butterflies’, about the life and death of South Africa’s Sestiger poet Ingrid Jonker, is a contrast between the most beautiful Cape Town scenery, and the dark days of our political past and the unhappy life of this talented writer.   The movie location is identified as Cape Town, and should attract international movie-goers to our beautiful city.

Dutch actress Carice van Houten and actor Rutger Hauer, who both don’t get the South African English pronunciation perfectly correct, play Jonker and her father, respectively.  The movie tells the unhappy story of how Jonker’s mother died when she and her sister were young children, were sent to stay with their grandmother, and sent back to their ‘Pa’ when she passed away.  He was a severe and critical father, and Member of Parliament, heading up the Publications Control Board, and ironically even her book of poems had to be vetted by him and his Board. They were never close, and it was his rejection of her that probably led to the sad end to her life.  Desperate to find love, she had relationships with great writers such as Jack Cope, Uys Krige, Jan Rabie, and André Brink.  The movie weaves the political history of the country in the ‘Sixties into the story, and ends with the reading of her poem “Die Kind wat Doodgeskiet is deur Soldate in Nyanga” in English by the then newly inaugurated President Nelson Mandela at the opening of Parliament in 1994.  He called her ‘one of the finest poets of our country’.  Ex-President Thabo Mbeki awarded the Silver Order of Ikhamanga to Jonker posthumously, for her contribution to literature and human rights.

The movie was shot in March and April last year, and contains the most beautiful beach and sea shots at Llandudno, and Cape Town generally is the location for the movie, with the exception of a few scenes shot in Amsterdam. Other Cape Town locations are the playgrounds and the Promenade in Sea Point, Clifton’s Second Beach (where Cope and Krige shared a bungalow), Bo-Kaap, Table Mountain, Chapman’s Peak, Strandfontein, and Noordhoek Beach. The movie ends with Jonker walking into the sea at Three Anchor Bay in July 1965, becoming our country’s Sylvia Plath.

The movie is a co-production between the German Comet Film GmbH and South African Spier Productions (Pty) Limited, with post-production done by Bavaria Films in Germany. The name of the movie comes from the line in one of Jonker’s poems: “For the sun that I now cover forever with black butterflies”. While Jonker wrote her precious poetry in Afrikaans, the movie has the English translations, for practical purposes. Paula van der Oest is an Oscar-nominated director from Holland, reports the Cape Argus.  She loved the work of Jonker, and wanted to expose it to a larger audience.  South African actor Graham Clarke, playing Krige, does not do a believable Afrikaans-speaking-English accent. Irish actor Liam Cunningham is a most sympathetic Cope, whose relationship with Jonker dominates the movie.  Oddly, André Brink is not mentioned by name in the movie, even though the movie notes outside the cinema refer to his name. Brink is called ‘Eugene Maritz’ in the movie, played by local Nicholas Pauling.   Brink’s book A Fork in the Road contains an overview of Jonker’s life, and her effect on his life.

‘Black Butterflies’, Cinema Nouveau, Cavendish Square.  See the movie trailer here.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

The Sweet Service Award  goes to Cape Town Fish Market in the V&A Waterfront, for turning a service disaster around.  A 20 minute gap before the start of a movie at the Cinema Nouveau allowed a quick try of the new calamari special that the restaurant is offering, or so I thought.    I sat down at the table closest to the cinema, but was ignored in terms of service.  Then I noticed an innovative service bell attached to the condiment tray, as well as a Customer Care number on it.  I must have pressed the service bell 20 times, with no response.  In the meantime I had seen a waiter, who told me that where I was sitting was “closed”, but there was no reserved sign on the table.  I asked him to bring a menu, but I never saw him again.  I then called the Customer Care number, and it was answered efficiently at a central answering service, and the staff member promised to phone the Restaurant Manager.   The manager came to my table as soon as he had received the call, and also went on about the ‘closed’ section.   He was shocked that I had chosen my own table without a waiter or hostess, but none were visible at the outside entrance to the restaurant!  He tested the bell and said it was faulty.  I left when I realised that the restaurant does not care about its customers, only about where they sit/may not sit!   The next evening I went to the movies again, and decided to give them another try, sitting in a different section.   The waiter did not seem to be able to understand my order for one of the 3 calamari specials, and the service bell also did not work.  I called the Customer Care helpline again, and this time my complaint was escalated to Justin Mans-Kullin, the Operations Manager of the group.  He took action immediately, sent a manager to the table to personally take my order, and would not allow me to pay for the meal.  He asked for information about what happened, told me that it was contrary to company procedure, and promised me that the feedback would go to the Cape Town Fish Market managers’ conference, which was taking place the following day.   He was not defensive at all, and acknowledged that what I had experienced was not how they like things to be done, which is commendable in itself.

The Sour Service Award  goes to Afrique Senti and its owner Mariaan Brummer, and was nominated by Marcus Hoelper of Camelthorn Lodge.  Marcus writes that the guest amenity supplier that he has used for some time, has started diluting the shampoo and shower gel products.  He lodged a complaint, and the company came to fetch the containers, returning them with the same diluted product.   Despite a request, Marcus has not been refunded.


The WhaleTales Sweet & Sour Service Awards are presented every Friday on the WhaleTales blog.  Nominations for the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be sent to Chris von Ulmenstein at info@whalecottage.com.   Past winners of the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be read on the Friday posts of this blog, and in the WhaleTales newsletters on the www.whalecottage.com website.

The Oscar ‘Best Documentary’ nominated “Food Inc.” blames the fast food industry for having created a sick food production industry in the United States of America, which exploits poor workers, treats its animals inhumanely, causes global warming, and makes its consumers sick or kills them!  The movie makers say they are “hungry for change”!   (‘The Cove’ won the Oscar in this category)

Food Inc. is not for the squeamish, and is likely to make one vow to never buy any products from a standard supermarket (other than Woolworths, and even then one is not sure how their suppliers produce their foods) again, to only buy organic foods, where possible, to pay more for good quality food, and to NEVER go near a fast food outlet again.

Robert Renner is the movie director and co-writer of the script, and used the work of investigative ‘Fast Food Nation’ reporter Eric Schlosser, and Michael Pollan, author of ‘Omnivore’s Dilemma’, to highlight the problems in the USA food industry.

The movie starts with the supermarket shelves overflowing with brands that give the farm-like feel in their logo’s and pack designs (the “Farmer Brown”-type treatment), but this seems to be a fraudulent depiction of the production of meat products, 80 % of which is in the hands of 4 or 5 production and packaging companies slaughtering 10 billion animals annually.   Chicken production has been altered over time, and a chicken is ready for slaughter in 45 days, compared to double that time in the past, and has bigger breasts to meet market demands.  The big meat producers buy up the farmer’s production, and encourage the farmers to expand the size of their operation all the time, thereby pushing the farmers to get into debt with their banks.  This gives the meat companies power over their supplier farms, to dictate to them how to grow their chickens, and how they are slaughtered.  So, for example, chickens are raised in overpopulated windowless chicken houses, which means that the chickens can barely walk, and do not resist when they are put into containers to be taken to the food factories.   Similarly, pigs and cows are on top of each other on farms, are raised on corn instead of grass, and their skin is covered in faeces.  This leads to undesirable e.Coli and semonella which can contaminate the meat, which is then sold in supermarkets or processed into hamburger patties.

The mother of young Kevin, whose son died from E.coli which was in her son’s hamburger at a fast food outlet, becomes a food “advocate”, lobbying the USA government that food producers who are regularly having to recall their food products from supermarkets or fast food outlets should be closed down.  This is in the face of economic pressure on American politicians to permit such producers to continue producing cheap food.

The corn production industry appears equally corrupt and 45 % of corn produced is genetically engineered.  Corn is purchased below production cost by meat-producing farmers, to keep the cost of meat low.   Corn is a surprise ingredient in numerous supermarket products such as ketchup, chips and other snacks, cola drinks, canned soup and more.   Tomatoes have been genetically engineered to not go bad so quickly, says the movie.   Up to 75 % of the processed supermarket foods one eats in the USA contain genetically engineered ingredients, which can lead to cancer, allergies and problems with toxins.

The fast food industry in the USA has grown dramatically since the drive-ins were started in the 1950’s, and thereafter the McDonalds were started and expanded internationally.   For many families, the low cost of fast food is a more affordable means of feeding a family than is buying healthy fruit and vegetables.  One family is interviewed, and the husband’s diabetes medication takes a big chunk of the family’s disposable money for their food purchases, forcing them to find the cheapest food to feed the family.   A group of scholars is shown, and each of them know more than one person with diabetes.

The result is that more and more Americans are becoming sick, and even die, as did young Kevin, and Americans are becoming more obese.   76 million Americans have become sick from eating contaminated meat, 32 500 have been hospitalised, and 5 000 have died.    Food labelling regulations in the USA do not demand that genetically engineered products are specified on food labels.   The FDA and USDA are criticised for being weak in not protecting the lives and health of the American population.

The documentary spends quite some time on Monsanto, a powerful company which has produced genetically engineered soya beans.  The company does not allow farmers to clean their beans to replant them, forcing all farmers to buy them from Monsanto.   The company sends investigators to farms, and sues farmers who do not follow this directive. The farmers have no protection from the company, and most farmers cannot stand up to its financial and legal power.

The movie shows how much pressure is placed on farmers to tow the food producers’ line, in that filming in chicken houses was not allowed, and all the food companies declined to be interviewed for the movie.  Cameras were smuggled into some of the production sites via staff, to provide footage for the movie.

Viewers are asked to get involved, to lobby for better controls over the food production industry, to eat at home (and therefore not buy fast food), to eat together as a family, to lobby for fair conditions for workers in food production companies (many are illegal workers from Mexico, who are arrested regularly, while their employers are not), to grow one’s own vegetables and fruit, to eat only seasonal foods, to not drink sweetened beverages, to pressurise restaurants to specify the calorie count of each dish, to lobby for schools to not sell junk food or sweetened beverages, to support farmers’ markets, and to do “meatless Mondays”.  The movie ends off on a positive note, interviewing a farmer who supplies an organic yoghurt to Wal-Mart.  Initially he was opposed to supplying a national food chain, but realised that Wal-Mart is bowing to customer pressure, and they flag organic products in the store, which the farmer says is a good thing.

Food, Inc, Cinema Nouveau, V&A Waterfront and Cavendish, Cape Town. www.foodincmovie.com

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com

The Sweet Service Award goes to Lourens and his Workshop team at Paarl Motors, for managing to get the replacement of a gearbox covered by a Mercedes Benz Maintenance Plan, which the car manufacturer had said had expired, despite the gearbox having been ordered 3 months ago.  Instead of having to pay R 20 000 for the replacement, or 50 % of this under the maintenance plan, Lourens managed to persuade Mercedes Benz to not charge at all.   This is the second Sweet Service Award which has been awarded to Paarl Motors.

The Sour Service Award goes to Cinema Nouveau in the V&A Waterfront.   The cinema appears to have no manager on the floor, the manager’s office being upstairs and hidden from the ticket sales area, where most of the problems occur.  The staff have attitude, are rude to their customers, constantly change, book one against the wall when one asks for a ticket on the aisle, and often do not even man the ticket booth and expect one to buy the ticket at the refreshment counter.  The staff do not match the quality of the movies shown at the movie house, and have no interest in assisting clients when there is a problem.  There is no way one can complain about the service, as there is no telephone number for the Waterfront branch – all calls go to a central call centre, and calls are not returned.

The WhaleTales Sweet & Sour Service Awards are presented every Friday on the WhaleTales blog.  Nominations for the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be sent to Chris von Ulmenstein at info@whalecottage.com. Past winners of the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be read on the Friday posts of this blog, and in the WhaleTales newsletters on the www.whalecottage.com website.

The Sweet Service Award goes to the Greek Fisherman restaurant in the V & A Waterfront, which generously hosted members of the Camps Bay Accommodation association, as well as other guest house owners, for a dinner earlier this week.   Partnering with Asara wine estate, who sponsored the wines, the restaurant kept a steady flow of Greek specialities such as souvlaki, calamari, mussels, spinach and ricotta ravioli, haloumi cheese, and prawns coming to the tables.   Efaristo!


The Sour Service Award goes to the V & A Waterfront, for its lack of customer care.  As if its lack of concern about the regular feedback in newspapers about its high parking fees, and the resultant public declarations from locals that they will not return to the shopping centre, is not enough, it now has a new way to ensure that Capetonians will stay away from the Waterfront for the next month.  An upgrade of its airconditioning, which commenced last week without warning to customers and tenants, is scheduled to last until 16 November.   During this period an operational level of 20 % airconditioning has been promised.   On Sunday evening a customer picked up the incredible heat in the passage near Melissa’s, as if one had entered an oven, and was told by the Melissa’s staff that the airconditioner was broken.  Thereafter the customer bought a movie ticket for the 3,5 hour long ‘Last Night of the Proms’ at the Cinema Nouveau, and was not told by the staff that the airconditioning was not working there too.  The staff referred the cinema-goer to the notice from the Waterfront’s retail management company Lexshell 44 General Trading (Pty) Ltd., which was stuck on each movie house door.   The Manager at Cinema Nouveau, Liziwe Maningjwa,  was not interested in discussing the matter with the cinema-goer, and in fact told the customer to go to the media, as she was not interested in sorting out the problem.   A visit to Belthazar on Wednesday evening was unbearable, in terms of the extreme heat inside the restaurant, despite all efforts by the restaurant to open all its doors to cool things down.  The restaurant’s biggest concern is keeping its customers, but also importantly its large and expensive stock of wines, cool.  A call from the V & A Marketing department expressed surprise that the customer’s message should go to the media, and communicated that a media campaign is to be launched, to explain to customers that there is a problem with the airconditioning, and that the retail center will set up 25 temporary airconditioners for the next month.   These units have yet to be installed!   The aircon problem affects the whole of the “old” section of the shopping centre – i.e. the wing that was developed originally.  This includes the Red Shed, the food court, both the Nu Metro and Cinema Nouveau movie houses, the offices, restaurants such as Belthezar, Cape Town Fish Market, Krugman’s Grill, Haagen-Dasz, San Marco, Sevruga, Santa Ana Spur, Wang Thai, 221 Waterfront, and Ocean Basket, the Post Office, and all the shops in this wing.   Not only is the V & A Waterfront ripping customers off in terms of parking fees (it cost R 30 for the parking fee to see the movie), but now one can also endure a free unwanted sauna in the V & A Waterfront!

The WhaleTales Sweet & Sour Service Awards are presented every Friday on the WhaleTales blog.  Nominations for the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be sent to Chris von Ulmenstein at info@whalecottage.com.   Past winners of the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be read on the Friday posts of this blog, and in the WhaleTales newsletters on the www.whalecottage.com website.

The movie ‘Disgrace’, which is based on Nobel prize winner JM Coetzee’s Booker Prize winning book by the same title, is a beautifully shot movie, depicting South Africa’s beauty, as well as its social complexity, and should stimulate tourism to this country, if the viewers can look past the shocking depiction of the crime stereotype associated with South Africa.  The movie is set in Cape Town, Grahamstown and on a farm in the Eastern Cape.  It has just started screening locally.


Starring John Malkovitch as UCT Professor David Lurie, fortunately without any attempt to speak with a South African accent, all other actors are South African, and make one feel that one knows characters such as those depicted in the movie, and that one can empathise with them.   At all times the Malkovitch character feels to be the odd one out.


A Cape Argus review summarises the book and the movie as follows: “Like the book, there’s a definite sense that the person who created this piece of art loves the country and doesn’t understand the people.”  Local actress  and radio presenter Natalie Becker also stars in the film, as does South African actress Jessica Haines.  DO Productions in Cape Town co-produced the movie.


The book originally caused an outcry, being criticised for reinforcing racial stereotypes, despite the new South Africa.    Coetzee left for Australia soon after writing the book, and now lives there.   The director and screenwriter are an Australian couple, yet seem to have an excellent grip in representing life in South Africa.


The movie is showing at the Cinema Nouveau movie houses at Cavendish Square and the V&A Waterfront, as well as at Canal Walk, and was a winner at the Toronto and Middle East Film Festivals.


Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com