Talking Movies: The Endless Trench, I Am Heath Ledger and Red Dust

Spling reviews The Endless Trench, I Am Heath Ledger and Red Dust as broadcast on Talking Movies, Fine Music Radio. Listen to podcast.

TRANSCRIPT

Good morning – welcome to Talking Movies, I’m Spling…

This week, we’re talking about a historical drama thriller, a tribute documentary and a political drama.

Starting off with a film now on Netflix…

THE ENDLESS TRENCH

A Spanish tailor and town councillor escapes Franco’s fascist clutches and goes into deep hiding.

Directors: Aitor Arregi, Jon Garaño and Jose Mari Goenaga

Stars: Antonio de la Torre, Belén Cuesta and Vicente Vergara

– set in Andalusia during the Spanish Civil War, this slow-burning historical drama and thriller deals with a man’s attempt to remain concealed during the fascist reign of Franco
– while the film opens with a blast of action-adventure that would have you believe it’s inspired by The Count of Monte Cristo, it comes to focus on his self-administered imprisonment
– hidden from sunlight and living in the shadows, unable to function like a normal civilian or husband, he observes life from a letterbox viewpoint
– the strain of this arrangement takes its toll on his marriage and his son’s upbringing, living in fear of being found out and executed for a string of false accusations
– while claustrophobic at times, The Endless Trench is creative in the way it makes use of space never feeling stunted by the close confines
– it’s a fascinating cinematic expedition, anchored by a sense of stoicism whereby an entire family is bound to a secret with no end in sight
– well-acted, creatively photographed and vividly mounted, even if a little heavy-handed at times, it remains a bold and absorbing tale
– the filmmakers do a good job of conveying a story over decades and the actors are amazing in their versatility, capturing the progress of time
– while infrequent there are some intense scenes, which while justifiable are graphic and visceral
– at 2 1/2 hours, you do feel the duration of the film, echoing the title and rewarding the patient
– the storytelling could have used more historical context, but the themes are universal and the payoff is still emotive

A solid 7 on the splingometer
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Moving on to a documentary on Showmax…

I AM HEATH LEDGER

Friends and family of the late actor Heath Ledger remember his life and career.

Directors: Adrian Buitenhuis and Derik Murray

Features: Heath Ledger, Naomi Watts and Ben Amato

– This stirring documentary relays Ledger’s creative energy, his generous spirit and his relentless pursuit of boundless artistic expression.
– This isn’t a detective story about his untimely demise but a celebration of his talents and lasting impact on the world.
– Using photographs, home videos, movie clips, music videos and interviews, the film-makers weave together a comprehensive up close and personal overview of his short yet remarkable life.
– Growing and learning on the job, ‘I Am Heath Ledger’ shows how the young Australian man developed his craft, refined his talent and kept improving.
– Without specifically saying it, it’s clear that he was only just tapping into his best work when his life was cut short.
– A veritable rock star, Ledger lived much longer than his 28 years account for… known for calling people in the middle of the night or gatecrashing their breakfast, he was always on.
– Remaining quite light in its approach, the documentary grows with his performances as we discover events leading up to the role that would ultimately win him an Oscar posthumously.
– A thoroughly fascinating and absorbing chronicle of an actor who was gone too soon, ‘I Am Heath Ledger’ serves as an intimate, respectful, tender and inspirational biographical documentary.

A solid 7 on the splingometer!
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And finally a film available to watch for free on Videovision’s Vimeo channel…

RED DUST

A police officer files an amnesty application for a member of Parliament who can’t remember the torture he once endured as a captive political activist.

Director: Tom Hooper

Stars: Hilary Swank, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Jamie Bartlett

– Red Dust is based on the novel by Gillian Slovo and is probably one of the most South African films out there
– directed by Tom Hooper, who went on to direct The Danish Girl, Les Miserables The King’s Speech, his first feature film demonstrates his brimming talent
– the South African contingent features the talents of Jamie Bartlett, Ian Roberts, Marius Weyers and Nomhle Nkonyeni, who deliver hard-hitting performances
– centred around the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Red Dust has the makings of a legal and political drama trying to leverage the seesawing morality of a testimony and recollection under oath
– Chiwetel Ejiofor and Hilary Swank are an unusual pairing, but do a solid job with their characters, each struggling with their own past and demons
– shot in 2004, it still holds raw emotional power and has aged rather well
– while the unconventional courtroom drama may seem a bit awkward, the flashbacks of torture raise the intensity levels
– Red Dust isn’t particularly brilliant in any one department, but remains a solid political drama with an immersive South African feel and powerful story of the TRC in action

A solid 7 on the splingometer!
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So just to wrap up…

THE ENDLESS TRENCH… creative cinematography, solid performances and a powerful historical story compel this intense drama… A solid 7!

I AM HEATH LEDGER… intimate home videos, an army of sincere interviewees and a celebration of creative energy invigorate this touching chronicle… A solid 7!

RED DUST… a stirring South African political drama spurred by earnest performances, a taut TRC showdown and deeply human themes… 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!

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