Talking Movies: Riding with Sugar, The Killing of a Sacred Deer and Kingdoms of Ice, Fire and Fairy Tales

Spling reviews Riding with Sugar, The Killing of a Sacred Deer and Kingdoms of Ice, Fire and Fairy Tales 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 coming-of-age crime romance drama, a psychological thriller and a nature documentary.

Starting off with a movie now on Netflix…


A young refugee’s quest for BMX glory and the pursuit of identity, safety, happiness and love.

Writer-Director: Sunu Gonera

Stars: Charles Mnene, Hakeem Kae-Kazim and Simona Brown

– Riding with Sugar is an important coming-of-age drama, journeying with a refugee much like an African version of Oliver Twist.
– Playing into a state of magic realism like August Rush our gifted hero is on his way to going pro with his BMX.
– Riding with Sugar has been exquisitely filmed, capturing the neon city lights and iconic views of picturesque Cape Town.
– Vibrant, colourful and energetic this visual elegance powers the coolness factor, making this one worthy of the Instagram generation.
– Capturing a determined, stoic and defiant young man is Mnene, a surprisingly seasoned British actor.
– Supported by Kae-Kazim and Brown, he’s a likeable and spirited young actor who fits in quite effortlessly.
– Another highlight is the catchy and pulsating soundtrack, which reinforces the visuals to give the entire film a sleek music video quality.
– The flashbacks and their intensity inform and add depth to the lead yet there’s a struggle to find balance.
– It could have gone fulltilt into drama or leaned into the budding underdog sports story, yet tries to do everything.
– While the audiovisual experience is first class, the storytelling isn’t quite as polished, struggling mostly with the character of Mambo.
– There’s much to appreciate and admire and it’s one of the coolest films I’ve seen in some time, powered by important themes and accessible enough to be entertaining. – It’s just unfortunate that it’s somewhat scattershot in its effort to try and be everything to everyone.

A solid 7 on the splingometer!

Moving on to a film now on Labia Home Screen…


A surgeon is forced to make an unthinkable sacrifice after his life starts to fall apart.

Writer-Director: Yorgos Lanthimos

Stars: Colin Farrell, Barry Keogh and Nicole Kidman

– From the director of The Lobster, comes a dark psychological thriller about family, justice and responsibility.
– This is a slow-moving and suspenseful drama reminiscent of The House of Sand and Fog.
– An unsettling and sickly sense of suburbia, it also has hints of American Beauty, carrying an eerie majesty and air of mystery.
– An artful film steeped in a horror atmosphere, it moves gracefully, carried by a strong collective of performances primarily hovering between Farrell, Keogh and Kidman.
– Content to preoccupy itself with a series of awkward and tense encounters, it moves from the realm of an uncomfortable stalker thriller to something much more sinister.
– Channeling the disturbing dysfunction and moral grey area of the situation, it’s not unlike The Gift, Side Effects and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
– It’s the kind of film you’d expect to see Jake Gyllenhaal in, yet Farrell makes it work in the sort of role usually reserved for Ewan McGregor or Ethan Hawke.
– Keeping things open-ended, it hints at story rather than trying to answer every single question.
– A hauntingly dark family drama, it can be frustratingly slow at times but will appeal to you if you have enjoyed any of the aforementioned films.

A solid 7 on the splingometer!

And finally a documentary now on Showmax…


A guided tour of three of the most magical nature reserves in the world.

Director: Susan Scott

– This nature adventure documentary is perfect to get people into the spirit of Christmas, especially if you’ve always wanted to experience snow and reindeers.
– Coming from the filmmakers who brought us the rhino investigative documentary Stroop – Journey into the Rhino Wars, comes this much more peaceful, meditative and enchanting film.
– Bonne de Bod is the producer-presenter here, guiding us through some of the world’s most magical nature sanctuaries: Yellowstone National Park in America, the Black Forest in Germany and the Arctic Circle in Swedish Lapland.
– From the bison, wolves and Old Faithful in Yellowstone overseas to the bewitching black forest and then jetting across to usher in the aurora borealis, this globetrotting nature documentary is eye-opening and informative.
– Some much-needed escapism for the filmmakers themselves, this is a more peaceful and contemplative adventure.
– Getting an up close and personal viewpoint, reminds us of just how incredible nature is and how important it is to let it thrive.
– Coming in at just under an hour, the documentary is enjoyable but could have used a stronger central thread to hold it all together.
– Narrating and presenting, de Bod’s strong voice, good looks and passion for nature help provide a sense of continuity.
– Yet you can’t help but wonder how this nature documentary would have turned out as it was originally intended, as a TV series.

A satisfactory 6 on the splingometer!

So just to wrap up…

RIDING WITH SUGAR… this vibrant, energetic and cool coming-of-age drama overpowers its bumpy screenplay with spirit and style… A solid 7!

THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER… while slow-moving, this dark, graceful and unsettling psychological horror thriller benefits from committed performances… A solid 7!

KINGDOMS OF ICE, FIRE AND FAIRY TALES… magical natural destinations refresh in this gentle, informative and curious guide documentary adventure… A satisfactory 6!

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!