Spling reviews The Last Thing He Wanted, Skemerson and Cats: The Mewvie 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 political mystery thriller, a local coming-of-age drama and a documentary about cats.
Starting off with a new release on Netflix…
THE LAST THING HE WANTED
A veteran D.C. journalist becomes the unwitting subject in the very story she’s trying to break.
Director: Dee Rees
Stars: Anne Hathaway, Ben Affleck and Willem Dafoe
– Anne Hathaway is a strong and elegant actress who has proven herself over and over again with many immersive and wholehearted dramatic turns
– while she’s played Rachel Getting Married to Le Miz, Hathaway has rarely toyed with the terrain of political mystery thrillers
– her latest role finds her playing a political journalist who undertakes a sketchy deal on her father’s behalf in 1984
– at the time of Reagan America where drug and gun-running syndicates supplied Contras, the adaptation questions political authority as the country’s insidious intervention in foreign affairs comes under the spotlight
– similarly poised to the Jeremy Renner film, Kill the Messenger, and even capturing some of the rebellious spirit that propelled American Made with Tom Cruise, this mystery thriller look and sounds the part
– leaning on its star power in Hathaway, Dafoe and Affleck, the film has scope and strong production values, creating a world of drug cartels, intrepid journalists and political intrigue
– trying to capture the Zeitgeist, the storytelling is muddled and the edit is so quick-paced, you often don’t get a chance to settle into any scene
– the upbeat pacing and visuals are compelling but it’s as if an entire season of television has been condensed into a snippy feature film
– Hathaway is good but a bit too cool to identify with, not getting the nuanced cues or time to draw our empathy or full support
– as much as it improves with time, this disconnectedness makes the experience detached, intriguing but ultimately confusing
A flimsy 4 on the splingometer
Moving on to a film now streaming on Showmax…
Battling mental illness and suicidal thoughts, a young man meets two strangers on a bridge.
Director: Phillip Rademeyer
Writer: Pietie Beyers
Stars: Pietie Beyers, Anneke Weidemann and Elize Cawood
– atmospheric, unsettling and haunting, it moves gently coaxing a story around three people and one man’s struggle with mental health
– set against the Tsitsikamma near Bloukraans Bridge, beautiful scenes cascade from the beach into a holiday home
– screenwriter and lead actor Pietie Beyers, crafts a deeply personal and authentic film, allowing the writer to truly own the material
– he’s ably supported by a veteran of Cawood’s calibre and a stolid talent in Weidemann
– an art house drama, it moves like its atmospheric and haunting soundtrack, taking its time to pick away at an unraveling thread
– Skemerson may be too slow-moving for most, but remains an important conversation-starter, dealing with mental health in an engaging narrative format
– its a bit unusual to see a pharmaceutical company partnering with a film production, making some of the exchanges seem loaded
– gripes aside, this drama is as sincere as its lead and concerns itself with striking the right tone and feeling in wrestling mental blocks
A satisfactory 6 on the splingometer!
And finally a documentary on Netflix…
CATS: THE MEWVIE
It’s a 2020 documentary about how cats went from cute text memes to iconic celebrities on YouTube.
Director: Michael Margolis
Writer: Keely Booth
Stars: Amanda Brennan, Mike Bridavsky, Lil Bub
– just like cats, the documentary’s title has probably determined whether you’d like to see this film or not
– Cats: The Mewvie is a few clicks short of turning into a sequel to Christopher Guest’s mockumentary, Best in Show
– the Internet has unleashed cats: starting from photos, graduating to videos and rehashing into memes
– with the rise of mobile phone cameras and social media, it seems cat lover’s have now discovered their own dog park community online
– interviewing the most prolific and famous Internet cat owners and their quirky star felines, the documentarians attempt to get a handle on cats and their dominion on the internet
– through on-the-couch style interviews, prominent videos, pop art, photos, merchandise, sponsorship deals and stats, they explore the crazy world of celebrity cats who have amassed millions of followers
– from people creating full-time careers out of promoting their pets to supporting animal aid projects, this globe-trotting documentary collates the who’s who in the petting zoo
– cat lovers will enjoy it for the cute videos and introductions, social media enthusiasts will be inspired to make their pets famous and other people will roll their eyes
– at 90 minutes, this zippy documentary is surprisingly long, trying to jam pack everyone and their cats into a box
– while cute and infotaining with a steady stream of cute, funny and curious cat introspections, it was probably designed so that you can literally watch it with your cat
A satisfactory 6 on the splingometer
So just to wrap up…
THE LAST THING HE WANTED… while intriguing, stellar and visually-compelling, it’s stunted by muddled storytelling and cold characters… A flat 5!
SKEMERSON… while atmospheric, authentic, haunting and beautiful, it’s slow-moving and not for everyone… A satisfactory 6!
CATS: THE MEWVIE… cute and furry does have its limits in this amusing, infotaining, upbeat and cat-riddled documentary… A satisfactory 6!
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And remember, Don’t WING it, SPL!NG it!