Spling reviews Thoroughbreds, Kandasamys: The Wedding and Crip Camp 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 dark crime drama thriller, a wedding comedy drama and a civil rights documentary.
Starting off with a film now on Netflix…
Two upper-class teenage girls in suburban Connecticut rekindle their unlikely friendship and hatch a plan to solve both of their problems.
Writer-Director: Cory Finley
Stars: Olivia Cooke, Anya Taylor-Joy and Anton Yelchin
– Thoroughbreds is an intriguing, enigmatic and elegant crime drama thriller that recalls Funny Games, American Psycho, Fierce People and Heathers
– Finley is known for the equally impressive and thoughtful Bad Education and shows remarkable composure and restraint for such a young writer-director
– Ordinarily, this kind of thriller would cave in to the temptation to overplay the violence, coarse language and even stylistic elements
– Whether taking notes from Funny Games, which expertly leverages the power of imagination, or taking his own craft to the next level of maturity – he holds back
– Cooke and Taylor-Joy have natural chemistry, which underscores their history as friends who drifted apart
– Cooke’s reminiscent of Alicia Vikander, yet wilder and more difficult to decipher as an emotionally-stunted teenager while Taylor-Joy is fascinating, delivering cold vigour
– Charming in spite of his character’s glaring flaws, it’s always a pleasure to see Yelchin perform and his inclusion recalls Fierce People
– Alluding to incidents instead of splaying them open on screen, it avoids gratuitous violence opting to keep things more cerebral
– The screenplay is intelligent, thought-provoking, unsettling and poetic as its jilted co-leads find their own gauge of morality
– What’s probably most refreshing about Thoroughbreds is that it’s so unpredictable, operating in the same psychotic space where humans are simply pawns
– While the lack of story spoon-feeding is refreshing, it does leave with an equal number of haunting, possibly frustrating, unanswered questions
A solid 7 on the splingometer
Moving on to a movie now on Showmax…
KANDASAMYS: THE WEDDING
Two fiercely competitive mothers struggle to cut the apron strings in the build-up to their children’s wedding.
Director: Jayan Moodley
Stars: Jailoshini Naidoo, Maeshni Naicker and Mishqah Parthiephal
– Naidoo and Naicker make a funny pair of embattled matriarchs and bitter neighbours who now profess to be best friends
– this dynamic spurred the local comedy, Keeping Up with the Kandasamys, essentially a Romeo & Juliet about overbearing mothers set in Chatsworth, Durban
– a local box office hit, the romcom resonated with audiences, prompting a sequel about pending nuptials between girl and boy next door, Preshan and Jody
– having a firmer grip on the characters and fragile Keeping Up with the Kandasamys situation, it seems more comfortable the second time round, rekindling some of the chemistry through the “who’s the wedding boss?” friction
– the production values and cinematography have improved, making it a welcome step up from the original
– unfortunately, while there’s a greater visual consistency, Kandasamys: The Wedding is undercut by a severe tonal shift from romantic comedy to romance drama
– starting with a similar hop in its step, its as if they swapped laughs out for melodrama as things take on a more sombre feel
– while ever-present, it would’ve have probably been better if the likable bridal couple had more screen time
– it’s a worthy follow-up with a few repeat jokes but the tonal shift and melodramatic overflow subdues the feel-good factor
– while poking fun at helicopter moms, Kandasamys: The Wedding leaves with a band-aid instead of a bow to remind us they mean well
A flat 5 on the splingometer!
And finally a documentary now on Netflix…
Down the road from Woodstock, a revolution blossomed at a summer camp for teenagers with disabilities, igniting a landmark movement.
Directors: James Lebrecht, Nicole Newnham
– Crip Camp is centred on the people who attended Jened Camp, a holiday camp run by hippies in the age of the peace movement
– expertly weaving archive footage together, their camp experiences are relayed as a retrospective with the surviving members commenting on how it shaped their lives
– as teenagers with various disabilities from cerebral palsy to polio, this camp had a profound influence on them as they had their first real taste of freedom
– not treated as sick or needing babysitters, the camp staff made it their mission to make the experience as inclusive as possible
– nostalgic music from the age creates a joyful feeling as we see actual footage of teenage fun in the sun from Jened
– while playful and touching, the documentary moves onto thought-provoking commentary from campers about the ongoing exclusion, discrimination and pressures faced in the outside world
– discussing their rights to privacy and being alone, the documentary launches into the civil rights campaigning and protests mounted around passing and upholding section 504, which promoted equal opportunities and greater accesibility for the largest minority in America
– grappling with the horrors of institutions like Willowbrook, which could have been a documentary on its own, Crip Camp keeps its focus on the kids who trailblazed a revolution with a ripple effect across the globe
– it’s an eye-opening, heartfelt and inspirational documentary that’s also timely in this current age
– as one of the interviewees remarks, laws are passed but real change only truly takes hold when society changes its attitude
An excellent 8 on the splingometer
So just to wrap up…
THOROUGHBREDS… strong co-lead performances compel this dark, smart, elegantly mounted and restrained crime thriller… A solid 7!
KANDASAMYS: THE WEDDING… an overall upgrade, great sequel idea and likable characters entertain in spite of a major tonal shift… A flat 5!
CRIP CAMP… an important, inspirational, heartfelt and timely civil rights documentary about the power of kindness… An excellent 8!
For more movie reviews, interviews and previous Talking Movies podcasts visit splingmovies.com.
And remember, Don’t WING it, SPL!NG it!