Spling reviews My Hindu Friend, Rage and 13 Lost 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 an arthouse drama, a local horror and a rescue documentary.
Starting off with a drama now on Amazon Prime Video…
MY HINDU FRIEND
A director is confronted with the idea that he may need to relearn how to live.
Writer-Director: Hector Babenco
Stars: Willem Dafoe, Maria Fernanda Cândido and Reynaldo Gianecchini
– Willem Dafoe is instantly recognisable, making it quite surprising how versatile and in-demand he’s been over the years, possibly owing to his fearless approach
– playing a director undergoing cancer treatment, this is one of his most unusual leading roles, allowing him to toy with the idea of mortality and searching for that kernel of truth
– Dafoe is a consummate professional, immersing himself in this character, embracing and owning every flaw and whim
– My Hindu Friend is loosely inspired by the work of Fellini, dealing with grand themes, celebrating the fullness of life through a spiritual dimension whilst operating with a sensual tone
– it’s a rather surreal experience, allowing unreality to seep into the director’s world as he confronts death
– centred around Dafoe, he pushes off his supporting cast, giving us a glimpse into his fractious interpersonal relationships
– while quite fascinating as a character portrait and visually-enticing in terms of cinematography, there’s a disconnect at its core
– the storytelling is quite scattershot branching out in all directions and much like the film, the character is too self-absorbed
– this inaccessibility distances us, insulated even further by an unwieldy edit and some rather wispy characters
– My Hindu Friend is ambitious, poetic and spurred by committed performances, crafting some magical moments but remains too aloof to truly transcend and fall in love with
A satisfactory 6 on the splingometer
Moving on to a horror now on Showmax…
A group of school-leavers are picked off one by one in a small coastal village.
Director: Jaco Bouwer
Stars: Nicole Fortuin, Jane de Wet and Carel Nel
– this straight-to-TV horror is a blend of Wolf Creek, True Detective and Midsommar
– Rage may not be a true original, but it benefits from a fresh, diverse and up-and-coming cast who have good chemistry
– The horror moves with style, intention and precision, capturing the mood of this coastal cult horror, accentuated by the chilling soundtrack, composed of tortured disembodied voices.
– While promising, Rage suffers from instant gratification and doesn’t build suspense.
– The ever-present and eerie soundtrack is overused, keeping the audience on high alert, lessening the element of surprise.
– While the concept works, the characters are underwritten, not taking the time to build a connection or flesh out a back story.
– Teen slashers typically have a few of these cypher characters but there’s a problem when your villain is provoking the most empathy.
– Great horror starts as great drama and there’s very little investment into the characters or their motivations beyond wanting to have a wild holiday or be cool.
– Rage is a stylish, gritty, vivid and eerie horror on the surface that looks and sounds the part.
– What it lacks in charm, nuance, suspense and originality can be overlooked for those wanting to immerse themselves in some mild horror escapism.
A flat 5 on the splingometer!
And finally a documentary now on YouTube…
Two cave-divers spearhead a rescue mission to save a trapped soccer team in the caves in Thailand.
Director: Raimund Huber
Stars: Ben Reymenants, Maksym Polejaka and Bruce Konefe
– Much like the trapped Chilean miners, there’s something triumphant and inspiring about a real-life rescue mission.
– taken from the perspective of two of the cave divers that set the foundation for the eventual rescue of 12 soccer players and their coach, 13 Lost is a dramatic documentary about unsung heroes
– the Thai cave rescue caught the attention of the international media, placing the focus on the efforts of the British team, who eventually made first contact
– while they risked their lives and were instrumental in the recovery, it wouldn’t have been possible without the brave efforts of the men who laid the cable
– unable to see further than your hand, the Thai navy seals required the expertise of world-renowned cave divers in a situation that seem to almost impossible
– starting from the myth around the caves, the documentarians give an overview of the rescue mission before getting into the nitty-gritty of what it took to rescue the boys
– using never-before-seen footage of the cave dive, photographs, dramatised sequences and digital mapping of the actual cave, we get a first-hand account of the challenges, emotions and small victories
– surviving 10 days, it’s a miraculous, stirring and winsome story about real-life heroics that will be sure to find its way to Hollywood
A solid 7 on the splingometer
So just to wrap up…
MY HINDU FRIEND… a solid lead, artful cinematography, rich themes and a surreal treatment intrigue in this self-absorbed coming-of-age drama… A satisfactory 6!
RAGE… a stylish treatment, promising cast and eerie concept are undermined by a thin script, flimsy characters, heavy influences and a rushed feel… A flat 5!
13 LOST… a compelling and stirring documentary account of the powerful and true heroics behind the Thai cave rescue… A solid 7!
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