Talking Movies: The Lighthouse, Final Portrait and The Other Side of the Wind

Spling reviews The Lighthouse, Final Portrait and The Other Side of the Wind 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 artful psychological horror, a biopic drama and a time capsule satire.

Starting off with a film now available on DEOD…


Two lighthouse keepers try to maintain their sanity whilst living on a remote and mysterious New England island in the 1890s.

Director: Robert Eggers

Stars: Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe

– two fine actors who can handle dark characters and make worthy adversaries with their star power reinforcing the “passing the reins” dynamic
– Acclaimed writer-director of The Witch, Robert Eggers comes from a theatre background and his work imbues many of the medium’s magical qualities
– This is the case with The Lighthouse, a haunting psychological horror mystery, dealing with isolation, cabin fever and the darker side of human nature
– it’s compelled by its ghostly salty seadog characters who speak in what could be described as pirate Shakespeare
– shot in black-and-white using a square Instagram type screen format, the film is as affected as Wes Anderson’s ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’, maintaining its style more uniformly as if adapting a poem or painting
– The cinematography is ugly/beautiful, taking on a similar quality to the work of Bela Tarr yet not lingering as long, literally reinforcing the cliche that every shot could be a painting
– Eggers gives The Lighthouse a surreal ‘The Shining’ style edge as hallucinations play out all part of the same lucid reality
– There’s a sense of foreboding and a strange tension in every scene as the underlying frustrations rise up
– While prickly and unsettling, The Lighthouse has a poetic undertow that keeps it from turning into a conventional horror
– The dialogue, primal indulgences, symbology and maddeningly surreal atmosphere will divide audiences in this challenging art horror, yet as narrow as its appeal is, you can’t deny its brilliance from the concept, style, cinematography and performances to its marked consistency.

An excellent 8 on the splingometer

Moving on to a movie now streaming on Showmax…


The story of Swiss painter and sculptor Alberto Giacometti.

Director: Stanley Tucci

Stars: Geoffrey Rush, Armie Hammer and Tony Shalhoub

– One of Rush’s most brilliant and indelible performances was in Shine, playing a prodigy pianist through the years
– you get the impression that there was an attempt to recapture the magic of this turn in Final Portrait
– set in Paris, the drama takes place predominantly at his art studio and a nearby café, making the world seem small and focused
– starring opposite him is Armie Hammer, who serves as his subject in what proves to be a test of endurance and patience
– there’s a comic twist at the core of this film about an artist whose quest for perfection and pure genius keeps his artwork and his subject in a perpetual loop
– while at times amusing, the comedy isn’t fully exploited, making you wonder what’s the point
– as a character study, we get a semblance of Giacometti, his open relationships, alternative perspective on the world and carefree philosophy about mortality
– while Final Portrait grapples with some weighty themes, it doesn’t manage to turn this film into a true event
– pottering around the studio, keeping at an arm’s length from its characters and never quite finding its tonal stride, it comes off as lightweight and insignificant
– the recreation of the sculptures, stylish sets and eye for detail and authenticity do foster a sense of Paris at the time, yet this piece of cinema isn’t intimate or grand enough to be truly effective
– as a lightweight distraction, it’s enjoyable to immerse yourself in Giacometti’s company for an hour and 1/2

A satisfactory 6 on the splingometer!

And finally a comedy drama now on Netflix…


A Hollywood director emerges from semi-exile with plans to complete work on an innovative motion picture.

Director: Orson Welles

Stars: John Huston, Oja Kodar and Peter Bogdanovich

– Orson Welles is a Hollywood icon, a legendary actor and director who ironically suffered the same plight as his central character
– legal, financial, and political issues prevented the experimental film from seeing the light of day after shooting 100 hours of footage in the ’70s
– after 40 years of development, Welles’s film has finally been birthed transposing his original vision to screen
– it seems that Orson Welles was trying to piece together a mockumentary of sorts
– a bigshot director, a troubled film, cloying media representatives, jealous peers, envious protégés and a host of oddballs gather in this deeply satirical and self-reflective time capsule comedy drama
– purposefully glib, using multiple cameras and a choppy edit to give the feeling of being observed from multiple angles, it’s a bold and provocative piece of cinema
– switching between a frenzied screening party at a ranch and a silent art film about an enigmatic and sensual love escapade, Orson Welles seems to have been trying to distil Hollywood’s essence
– at two hours, the barrage of close-ups, broad ensemble and quickfire quips seems revolutionary for its time, taking refuge in serene yet sensual excerpts from the picturesque silent film
– The Other Side of the Wind captures some of the spirit belying films such as Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang and The Nice Guys, offering a self-deprecating look at the magic, sleaze and mirage that is Hollywood

A solid 7 on the splingometer

So just to wrap up…

THE LIGHTHOUSE… strong co-lead performances anchor this haunting, iconic, primal, surreal and unsettling psychological horror mystery… An excellent 8!

FINAL PORTRAIT… a promising cast struggle to siphon the comedy drama from this stylish, inviting yet underwhelming character study… A satisfactory 6!

THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND… Welles attempts to distil Hollywood in this bold, experimental, self-reflective and purposefully glib satire… A solid 7!

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And remember, Don’t WING it, SPL!NG it!