Talking Movies: Penguin Bloom, Waves and Super Size Me 2: Holy Chicken!

Spling reviews Penguin Bloom, Waves and Super Size Me 2: Holy Chicken! 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 drama, a sports drama romance and a fast food documentary.

Starting off with a film now on Netflix…


A family takes in an injured Magpie that makes a profound difference in their lives.

Director: Glendyn Ivin

Stars: Naomi Watts, Griffin Murray-Johnston and Andrew Lincoln

– This is a coming-of-age drama and family portrait as the Blooms come to terms with a life-altering accident.
– Centred around the psychological rehabilitation of a mother who feels disconnected from life as she knew it, the drama comes to grapples with celebrating the cans rather than the can’ts.
– What makes Penguin Bloom different is that instead of adopting a stray dog, the story is held together by a magpie.
– Serving as a figurative embodiment of Sam’s emotional journey and process of healing, this unusual and unlikely pet comes to mean so much during the family’s transition period.
– Reminiscent of The Boys Are Back, this family drama has moments of levity, anguish and despair, however as you would expect inspiration slowly bubbles up.
– Based on a remarkable true story, there’s a homegrown feel to the dialogue preventing the film from becoming overly sentimental or cloying.
– A sensitive yet spirited performance from Watts, supported by a solid ensemble, enhances this restorative and touching tale.
– The human–creature relationship has faint echoes of My Octopus Teacher and while it is not as warm as a dog or cold as an octopus, the magpie’s antics make “Peng” part of the family.
– Be sure to stay tuned for some beautiful photographs of the people and magpie that inspired this film in the credits.

A solid 7 on the splingometer!

Moving on to a film now on Showmax…


A family navigate love, forgiveness, and coming together in the aftermath of a loss.

Writer-Director: Trey Edward Shults

Stars: Kelvin Harrison Jr., Lucas Hedges and Taylor Russell

– Waves is like a blend of Moonlight, The Place Beyond the Pines and The Tree of Life, an arthouse drama about forgiveness and love.
– Immersing itself in social drama yet employing an elegance and radiance reminiscent of Moonlight helps unearth the emotional saga of an American family.
– Functioning like two chapters much like The Place Beyond the Pines, and filmed in such a way to give it an epic quality, there are some parallels.
– Harrison Jr. captures the angst and pent-up anger of a young man who caves to the pressures and expectations thrust upon him by a domineering father, struggling to come to terms with subverted hopes and dreams.
– The swirling cinematography gives this drama a sprawling feel as we move from one scene to the next creating a series of atmospheric roving “snapshots”.
– This filmmaking has a sense of equality to it in terms of all the departments acting in unison, leaning less heavily on the actors.
– Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross handle the soundtrack, complementing the visuals with a modern and at times otherworldly mood.
– The script has a spontaneity, sometimes mimicking real-life to the point that you wonder if scenes were simply ad-libbed.
– Intense, powerful, compelling and engaging, you can’t help but notice a slight distance.
– As powerful as all the ingredients are, there’s a reason that actors and characters are given prominence, making you wish that they had a greater focus.
– Yet, you can’t help but appreciate Schults’s attempt to create a stream of consciousness in the vein of The Tree of Life.
– It did just enough to get…

An excellent 8 on the splingometer!

And finally a documentary on Amazon Prime…


Morgan Spurlock reignites his battle with the fast food industry in the spirit of “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em”.

Directed by and features: Morgan Spurlock

– Spurlock is the prolific filmmaker behind Supersize me, a documentary and experiential investigation into the fast food giant McDonald’s.
– Returning many years later for a sequel with a clucky title, the intrepid character needed to have something to supersize the Super Size Me formula.
– Using his offhandedly charming and snarky style and possibly led by the classic “Chicken or beef?” question, he’s turned his focus to big chicken in the United States.
– Taking a strange, sincere yet ironic slant, Spurlock decides to start his own chicken farm and a fast food chain of his own.
– Seemingly upending Super Size Me, his earnest approach enables him to go through the motions of setting up a chicken farm and fast food chain offering a full discovery along the way.
– Aiming to be completely honest in his approach, the result is entertaining yet mixed nestling between evil corporate structures and half blindfolded consumers.
– It’s an amazing foray into marketing, farming processes and business practices around the multi-billion chicken industry in America.
– From rapid growth chickens to the food laboratory design of the ultimate crispy chicken sandwich, it’s a bold, enterprising and industrious documentary that culminates in a deeply ironic and wry conclusion.
– Bending to Spurlock’s wacky sense of humour, the expose is eye-opening, sometimes shocking, thoughtful and provocative.
– Deconstructing the lies through his open hand approach, the sequel is powerful even if it’s message is slightly obscured.

A solid 7 on the splingometer!

So just to wrap up…

PENGUIN BLOOM… a spirited lead performance breathes life into this authentic, touching and remarkable true story… A solid 7!

WAVES… vivid visuals, a modern soundtrack, solid performances and epic storytelling invigorate this swirling social drama and arthouse romance… An excellent 8!

SUPER SIZE ME 2: HOLY CHICKEN!… irony runs deep in this snappy, quirky, entertaining and eye-opening immersion into chicken farming and fast food in the United States… A solid 7!

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