Talking Movies: Flatland, Curveball and Sweat

Spling reviews Flatland, Curveball and Sweat 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 adventure crime western, a political comedy drama and social media drama.

Starting off with with film now on circuit…


Three women struggle to break free.

Writer-Director: Jenna Cato Bass

Stars: Faith Baloyi, Nicole Fortuin and Izel Bezuidenhout

– Filling the frame with human interest through close ups make Flatland visually-striking and reinforce the fearless approach in spite of the frame’s ever-present sense of claustrophobia.
– Giving the actors so much face time means you’ve got to trust your cast implicitly.
– Baloyi’s cool-headed performance contrasts starkly against the wilder Fortuin and Bezuidenhout, while the sharp supporting cast are full of purpose and poise.
– Flatland explores class, race and gender against the backdrop of a hostile society where women are objectified and mistreated.
– Unflinching in its sledgehammer representation of a patriarchal system, it’s still nuanced enough to offer a a number of multi-dimensional male characters.
– The soundtrack is another highlight, offering a dreamy soundscape to activate the Karoo landscape and film’s bold choices.
– While kitsch, it’s a stylish and exhilarating affair, hampered by its missing pieces when it comes to storytelling.
– Flatland has a poetic understanding of character, offering a few wisps in order to get the ball rolling and relying quite heavily on style, circumstance and performance.
– The stylistic choices keep the frenetic visual aesthetic front and centre like Run Lola Run while the Thelma & Louise meets Fargo story compel the drama.
– It’s symbolically powerful to see these women graduate through a series of events but the irony of the close ups is that you still don’t feel the emotional undertow. – Still, Flatland’s highlights are so provocative and sure-footed, they largely overpower these shortfalls.

A solid 7 on the splingometer

Moving on to a film screening at the European Film Festival…


The Iraq war was started based on nothing but fake intelligence and the involvement of the German government and the German secret service.

Director: Johannes Naber

Stars: Sebastian Blomberg, Franziska Brandmeier and Jeff Burrell

– Curveball is a dramatised depiction of real events and lies that led to The Iraq War from the perspective of the bio-weapons expert whose initial investigation sparked a false narrative.
– Curveball’s subdued colours, German secret service and deep state politics echo surveillance drama, The Lives of Others but Curveball has a more satirical undercurrent.
– Starring Sebastian Blomberg who’s best known for The Baader Meinhof Complex, he could be compared with both Bruce Campbell and Jim Carrey.
– His dry comedy sets the tone for a bizarre film about bogus intelligence, cumulative speculation and cataclysmic spin-offs.
– Using years as checkpoints and intermittent real news footage helps ground this surreal film in history.
– It could have been the subject of a documentary but captures the suspense and insanity of trying to cover bad intel, a bogus source and manage a leak all to save face.
– A meditation on the pursuit and curation of truth, Curveball grapples with the illusion and the devastation caused when it’s twisted on the world stage.
– This well-acted and subtle back room espionage drama thriller is made edgier by its political skullduggery and haunting real world consequences.

A solid 7 on the splingometer!

And finally another film that forms part of the upcoming European Film Festival…


Three days in the life of a social media celebrity fitness motivator.

Writer-Director: Magnus von Horn

Stars: Magdalena Kolesnik, Julian Swiezewski and Aleksandra Konieczna

– The term “influencer” has made its way into society, explaining the concept of popular and influential people who attract sponsors to push their messaging as product placements.
– This superficial domain of illusion and followers would be a bit vapid if the film had simply been a glorification of this lifestyle.
– Sweat deals with the price of celebrity, the demands of being permanently switched on, trying to maintain a normal life behind-the-scenes and the personal sacrifices along the way.
– Kolesnik is perfectly cast as a gym bunny superstar who has to present a perfect image to her adoring fans.
– Living through the role, she delivers a strong performance capturing the charisma of an Internet star and the honest moments on her own.
– Continuous shots and a roving camera eye give it a docudrama feel, bringing an urgency and reality to the picture.
– The title starts with a Roxette song, which underscores the film’s tone and fitness vibes.
– While it serves as a foray into the highs and lows of celebrity, fame and fortune, it’s a timely exploration of social media’s powerful illusion, fuel for envy and its alienating effects.
– From sponsor interference and stalkers to family dysfunction, Sweat’s a curious and sobering film on the impact of a life lived in the public eye and being lonely in a crowd.
– It could have had a tighter edit but uses slower pacing behind-the-scenes to create a more immersive atmosphere and contrast the high energy and fleeting glitz and glamour.

A solid 7 on the splingometer

So just to wrap up…

FLATLAND… a solid ensemble, bold cinematography, a dreamy soundtrack and hard-hitting themes power this kitsch and provocative adventure crime western… A solid 7!

CURVEBALL… a shocking true story, haunting consequences and taut back room drama ratchets up suspense in this well-acted crime comedy thriller… A solid 7!

SWEAT… a solid lead, timely themes and an immersive docudrama edge power this intimate and thought-provoking character study… A solid 7!

For more movie reviews, previous Talking Movies podcasts and upcoming Bingeing with Spling watch parties visit splingmovies.com.

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