Spling reviews The Laundromat, Chappaquiddick and Dominee Tienie as broadcast on Talking Movies, Fine Music Radio. Listen to podcast.
Good morning – welcome to Talking Movies, I’m Spling…
This week, we’re talking about a dark comedy drama, a political character portrait and a community drama.
Starting off with a new release on Netflix…
An insurance fraud investigation leads to a pair of flamboyant Panama City law partners exploiting the world’s financial system.
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Stars: Gary Oldman, Antonio Banderas and Meryl Streep
– Streep has ordinarily kept her distance from the public eye
– recently, however, she has been using her platform, targeting the likes of Trump with acceptance speeches and impersonations
– while these outspoken stunts have grabbed the media’s attention, she is also using her art as a form of protest, most recently in The Laundromat
– Soderbergh, best known for the Ocean’s Eleven films, has been known to push the boundaries of cinema, venturing into TV land with Behind the Candelabra and shooting a film on an iPhone in Unsane
– with Oldman and Banderas as the film’s hosts, it comes to rest on Streep who turns in a typically strong performance as a jaded widow
– the supporting cast is stellar with a number of recognisable faces chiming in with glorified cameos
– breaking the fourth wall, taking a tongue-in-cheek approach, the film’s multiple stories are connected by the Panama Papers and the two men behind it all
– while experimental, it remains entertaining and eye-opening as tax evasion becomes more personal
– pointed and politically-loaded, it operates with enough flair and mystery to keep you guessing
– The Laundromat pales in comparison to The Big Short, struggling with inconsistencies and diluted by its channel-flipping style
– the film is buoyed by its incredible cast and strange medley of cosmopolitan characters and scenarios, yet it doesn’t quite have the comedy or gut punch it promises
A flat 5 on the splingometer!
Moving onto a film now on Showmax…
Depicting Ted Kennedy’s involvement in the fatal 1969 car accident that claims the life of a young campaign strategist.
Director: John Curran
Stars: Jason Clarke, Kate Mara and Ed Helms
– The Kennedy family have a fascinating legacy, fraught with tragedy and scandal yet held aloft by a sense of royal fortitude
– Chappaquiddick may sound like a made up name or a Hogwart’s sport, but has become associated with US Senator, Ted Kennedy
– taken from the perspective of Kennedy and his closest advisor and adopted brother, we get a curious historical character portrait of a man reaching for greatness at all costs
– pivoting on the tragic incident… the ensuing cover-up, family dynamics, spin doctors and media circus are explored in greater detail
– Jason Clarke is always a contender and shows his versatility here as Ted Kennedy, playing opposite Helms in this historical re-examination of a controversial and highly publicised political scandal
– a seesaw of morality, the drama thriller’s tension hinges on a public figure’s attempted escape from justice and public scrutiny, trying to reposition himself as victim rather than a guilty survivor
– while the Kennedys have inspired many films, they have been plagued by the same strange blend of hollow greatness
– Chappaquiddick is a slow-moving yet respectable drama, relaying the story in a competent fashion yet struggling to find its true centre
– possibly a bit too aloof and distant for its own good, Chappaquiddick entertains with its political intrigue, yet struggles to find emotional resonance
A satisfactory 6 on the splingometer!
Finally, another film now streaming on Showmax…
Reverend Tienie Benade is confronted by a cross road that will test his career, marriage and faith.
Director: Sallas de Jager
Stars: Frank Opperman, Henrietta Gryffenberg and Thapelo Mokoena
– Afrikaans culture has always been closely tied with the church, the compass for morality and community
– playing into a pastor’s concerns over dwindling numbers and self-doubt when it comes to his own faith, this local character portrait deals with a man who feels he might be going through the motions
– immersing itself in the humdrum of church activity, familial responsibility and keeping up appearances, this drama takes a thoughtful and timely examination of church and culture
– while starting from the point of being ultra conservative, this is a fairly open-minded approach to unpacking a man’s hypocrisies and crisis of faith
– it could have been much darker, but offers a respectful take, picking at the seams in a subtle fashion
– compelled by a solid lead performance and propagated by an experienced ensemble, it’s an unusual yet earnest production
– adopting the same sort of tone you’d expect from someone visiting a church, it has a sense of reverence, opting for sombre and conservative handling when at times touches of comedy would have really helped alleviate some of the starchier moments
– armed with a noble message, a good cast and an authentic depiction of a small-time church community in South Africa it has a quiet confidence even if it does come across as a bit dry
A satisfactory 6 on the splingometer
So just to wrap up…
THE LAUNDROMAT… while star-studded and intriguing, this experimental The Big Short-esque drama struggles with consistency… A flat 5!
CHAPPAQUIDDICK… a solid lead performance drives this respectable and fascinating character portrait of a high profile public figure… A satisfactory 6!
DOMINEE TIENIE… while authentic, earnest and thought-provoking, this character study runs a bit dry… A satisfactory 6!
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And remember, Don’t WING it, SPL!NG it!