Spling reviews Knives Out, I Lost My Body and Bikram: Yogi Guru Predator 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 whodunnit thriller, an animated fantasy adventure and a disturbing documentary.
Starting off with a film now on circuit…
A detective investigates the death of a patriarch of an eccentric family.
Writer-Director: Rian Johnson
Stars: Daniel Craig, Chris Evans and Ana de Armas
– Knives Out doesn’t have British culture, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle or Agatha Christie to fall back on, but it does have one of Britain’s most famous actors in Daniel Craig.
– Inextricably linked with James Bond and the world of Ian Fleming, Craig has a history of type-breaking turns in films like Cowboys & Aliens and Logan Lucky.
– While playing a Southerner with some reasonable accent work, his sheer presence helps to muddy the waters as the exuberant detective Benoit Blanc.
– Set at a lavishly decorated country mansion, Knives Out is unusual in the way it plays off detective and murder mystery formula.
– Starting in the deep end with flashbacks to recount various alibis, it’s an unusual yet entertaining whodunnit.
– The star-studded crime drama makes a refreshing change, giving precedence to the performers including: Michael Shannon, Toni Colette, Jamie Lee Curtis, Chris Evans and Christopher Plummer
– A character-driven drama with many twists-and-turns, Johnson keeps the camera up close, allowing the nuance of the performances to come through.
– The production design is detailed yet the up close nature of the cinematography gives the director an opportunity to focus on his cast’s faces.
– Johnson’s unusual storytelling and quirky script keep things moving at a clipped pace, using situation to ramp up the undercurrent of dark comedy.
– While he has amassed a fine collection of dramatic actors, charm is the only thing that is lacking in this refreshing and sharp reimagining.
– The kitsch style is a refreshing point of departure for murder mystery fans, cleverly turning things upside down but it could have been so much more.
A solid 7 on the splingometer!
Moving on to a film now streaming on Netflix…
I LOST MY BODY
A story of Naoufel, a young man who is in love with Gabrielle… and there’s a severed hand.
Director: Jérémy Clapin
Stars: Hakim Faris, Victoire Du Bois and Alfonso Arfi
– I Lost My Body is like a blend of Amelie and The Little Prince, taking the quirky charms of Amelie and meshing them with the animated magic and wonder of The Little Prince
– this is a strange yet beautiful film as a severed hand escapes a dissection lab crossing town like a big spider
– while it’s difficult to imagine this bizarre concept working, it does – cleverly choreographing the hand to become artful, imaginative and surreal
– the oddball romance has similarities with The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind as two young adults cross paths and find meaning in each other
– wrap-around themes and echoes show how much detail went into making I Lost My Body, which has raw, visceral power and surprising emotion
– much like the world of Studio Ghibli, Clapin has managed to capture ordinary moments in animation, sometimes blurring the lines between real and unreal
– from turning pages to landscapes, the hand-drawn animation has artistic merit and personality, especially when you consider just how difficult it is to draw hands
– I Lost My Body is a poetic and dreamy piece of escapism, a heartfelt and life-affirming animated original
– the premise may seem bizarre, but there’s so much more to this masterfully animated film that tries to defy being boxed into any specific genre
An excellent 8 on the splingometer!
And finally a documentary now on Netflix…
BIKRAM: YOGI, GURU, PREDATOR
The documentary traces his rise in the 1970s to his disgrace in accusations of rape and sexual harassment in more recent years.
Director: Eva Orner
Stars: Larissa Anderson, Francesca Asumah and Sarah Baughn
– Bikram Choudhary made a name for himself in the United States leading yoga sessions of hundreds, practicing a method he ascribes to himself
– after a weight-lifting injury nearly ended him, he sought the wise counsel of his mentor who helped him regain the use of his leg
– vowing to take his findings to the rest of the world, his altruistic mission caved into greed after his guru status made him a celebrity
– roping in hundreds of new recruits for a rigorous 9-week training programme, the eccentric yogi took advantage of his status, forcing himself on his students
– in this exploratory documentary, Oscar-winning documentarian Eva Orner covers the yogi’s history, his impact, his methods and his celebrity before unpacking several cases of abuse that haunt him today
– through interviews, archive news footage, depositions and studio films, we get a clearer picture of the situation
– the man’s over-inflated ego and god complex was reinforced in his classes through what could be described as indoctrination
– Orner’s documentary is eye-opening, compelling and disturbing, essentially a character assassination as echoed by its title
– Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator serves as a public service announcement and warning to those willingly entering Bikram’s training regime
– it’s also a call-to-action to pressure the US government into extraditing the fugitive in a matter that has since gone international
A solid 7!
So just to wrap up…
KNIVES OUT… a charming lead and strong ensemble bolster this kitsch, playful, quirky and original murder mystery… A solid 7!
I LOST MY BODY… beautiful animation energises this life-affirming, heartfelt, imaginative and surreal fantasy… An excellent 8!
BIKRAM: YOGI, GURU, PREDATOR… a fascinating behind-the-scenes tour of a yogi’s empire, over-arching influence and trail of slime… A solid 7!
For more movie reviews, interviews and previous Talking Movies podcasts visit splingmovies.com.
And remember, Don’t WING it, SPL!NG it!