Spling reviews How to Steal A Country, Tigertail and Anon 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 documentary, a coming-of-age drama and a sci-fi film noir.
Starting off with a documentary now on Showmax…
HOW TO STEAL A COUNTRY
A chronicle of the #GuptaLeaks fall out from the perspective of the journalists who broke and covered the State Capture saga.
Directors: Rehad Desai and Mark J. Kaplan
Features: the Gupta brothers, Jacob Zuma and a host of South African journalists
– Desai has made gritty and definitive documentaries on Marikana with ‘Miners Shot Down’ and the #feesmustfall movement in ‘Everything Must Fall’.
– ‘How to Steal A Country’ grapples with the unthinkable as state capture becomes a reality for three former shoe salesmen under the nose of an unconscionable President and his cronies.
– The news story is powerful and shocking, probably even more so to outsiders who didn’t live through the slow-boiling circus, but ‘How to Steal A Country’s driving story is actually about journalism and whistle-blowers.
– Taking on a similar tone to ‘All the President’s Men’, Desai leverages the story from the perspective of integral political journalists such as Ferial Haffajee and Susan Comrie.
– Having been supplied with some 300,000 damning emails and documents on a hard drive, their reporting broke the damn wall on the State Capture scandal.
– While journalism as we know it has been under threat, ‘How to Steal A Country’ underlines the importance of the profession, its integrity and freedom of press.
– While his most polished documentary, it does seem somewhat unfinished without more testimony from the actual figureheads who declined interview.
– The soundtrack is compelling, taking cues from news room and espionage thrillers to create a sleek style of reporting and storytelling.
– Condensing Guptagate into an elegant investigative documentary, ‘How to Steal A Country’ is a must-see that plays out like a detective story.
– It may not be in-your-face enough, covers material most South Africans would sooner forget and doesn’t have the raw urgency of Desai’s previous documentaries, but it’s still a first-class documentary feature, a time capsule and essential viewing for all South Africans.
A solid 7 on the splingometer
Moving on to a film now on Netflix…
A Taiwanese factory worker leaves his homeland to seek opportunity in America, where he struggles to find connectio.
Writer-Director: Alan Yang
Stars: Tzi Ma, Christine Ko and Hong-Chi Lee
– Tigertail is a coming-of-age drama taken from the perspective of a Taiwanese man from his childhood to middle age, dealing with his journey to America and the fractious nature of his relationships
– ordinarily a story about the pursuit of happiness and American dream would have a spring in its step, however this drama is more rueful and pensive, offering a more grounded and melancholic take
– the performances are good as the film shifts between three languages, indicating these changes through square bracket subtitles
– starting from a traumatic and life-changing childhood experience after which he’s taught never to cry, this life lesson is carried through the rest of the film
– Tigertail has a tender feel, deals with estranged familial and romantic relationships, showing the dire consequences of taking the wrong road
– the film’s tone is gentle, sentimental and thoughtful, yet undermined and buffered by the perceived distancing of character
– Tigertail has its own gentle sway, is curious enough to keep you watching and has a rewarding payoff but just seems a bit too disconnected to capture your heart
– ultimately it’s a little underwhelming, only really finding its core at the very end much like its guarded protagonist
A satisfactory 6 on the splingometer!
And finally another film now streaming on Showmax…
In a world without anonymity or crime, a detective meets a woman who threatens their security.
Writer-Director: Andrew Niccol
Stars: Clive Owen, Afiya Bennett and Amanda Seyfried
– Clive Owen is a British actor who has great presence and delivers dependable performances
– he’s convincing as a detective in Anon, playing opposite the enigmatic Seyfried
– Niccol wrote Gattaca and The Truman Show, yet Anon falls into a similar space to his most recent sci-fi films, In Time and S1mone
– dealing with a world order that catalogues reality, where privacy is no longer a right, the film has similarities to Minority Report, Strange Days, The Final Cut and The Adjustment Bureau
– often taking a first person perspective, it’s a voyeuristic and clever adaptation of the film’s multi-dimensional premise, at times mimicing a video game
– moody, washed out and blending retro design against a digital ether, it’s a detailed and fascinating film experience
– the idea of a mind hacker, re-editing timelines in order to disappear and cover up crimes is current in its examination of privacy and our filmed lives
– while a little sleazy, Anon is a stylish and visually-appealing movie that doesn’t spoonfeed its audience
– the modus operandi does flirt with comedy, but the surreal elements and composure of the ensemble help anchor the otherworldly feel
– the visuals are elegant and the backdrops classic, however much like its title the story echoes better sci-fi films and it doesn’t make itself distinct, substantial or memorable enough to leave a lasting impression
A satisfactory 6 on the splingometer
So just to wrap up…
HOW TO STEAL A COUNTRY… a compelling, comprehensive and sleek investigative documentary account of the #GuptaLeaks saga… A solid 7!
TIGERTAIL… a tender tone adds a poetic quality to this thoughtful yet distant multi-generational coming-of-age drama… A satisfactory 6!
ANON… a detailed, moody, stylish yet sleazy sci-fi detective thriller that doffs the hat to better films… A satisfactory 6!
For more movie reviews, interviews and previous Talking Movies podcasts visit splingmovies.com.
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