Talking Movies: A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood, Sound of Metal and Always Be My Maybe

Spling reviews A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood, Sound of Metal and Always Be My Maybe 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 music drama and a romantic comedy.

Starting off with a film now on Netflix…


Based on the true story of a real-life friendship between Fred Rogers and journalist Lloyd Vogel.

Director: Marielle Heller

Stars: Tom Hanks, Matthew Rhys and Chris Cooper

– In something akin to a Charlie Kaufman film comes the surreal, unpredictable and timely A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood.
– Inspired by a true story and centred on a cynical magazine journalist, the film is framed from the perspective of a much-loved children’s show presenter in Mr Rogers.
– Having developed a notoriety when it comes to profiling people, the journalist is forced to accept a gig interviewing Rogers, the only personality that’ll have him.
– It’s refreshing to watch a film of this nature as a cynical and idealistic man encounter and influence each other.
– Hanks is always dependable and always rises to the occasion, doing so again in this deeply humane, affecting and gentle performance.
– Like a darker version of Zach Braff, Rhys struggles to forgive his father and find peace.
– The line between reality and fantasy blurs on occasion but the emotional undercurrent remains compelling with some surprisingly intimate moments playing out.
– Calm and serene, the turmoil of the journalist’s difficult past is forced into a more peaceful place when he’s around the cool body of water that is Rogers.
– The eclectic film also makes use of some quaint Wes Anderson style cityscapes, which play into the children’s show dynamic.
– Delicate writing, mesmerising storytelling and fine performances make for a compelling and deeply moving coming-of-age drama.
– Wonderfully human, effortlessly captivating and full of hope it’s a refreshing and touching drama.

An excellent 8 on the splingometer!

Moving on to a film now on Amazon Prime…


A heavy-metal drummer’s life spirals out of control when he begins to lose his hearing.

Director: Darius Marder

Stars: Riz Ahmed, Olivia Cooke and Paul Raci

– Ahmed has been on a roll, if you’ll excuse the pun, racking up some fine lead performances.
– He’s been a rising star for a decade, first getting acclaim through noteworthy films such as Four Lions and Ill Manors.
– It seems that all the hard work is finally starting to pay off with significant lead roles.
– Sound of Metal finds him playing a do-or-die heavy metal drummer on a US tour alongside his girlfriend on guitar and vocals.
– Based on a story idea by producer Derek Cianfrance of Blue Valentine, The Place Beyond the Pines and The Light Between Oceans, this informs Sound of Metal’s tone.
– It has a melancholy, a happy-sad dimension that permeates without losing its artful tenacity.
– As a character portrait, it’s immersive thanks to Ahmed’s energetic performance and character’s rage and self-denial.
– Ahmed sinks into Ruben’s world playing off Cooke as his girlfriend Lou and sharing some wonderful moments with Raci as seasoned would-be mentor, Joe.
– The drumming, intensity and mentor relationship echo the equally powerful drama, Whiplash.
– Yet Sound of Metal isn’t as soul-crushing or aggressive… offering a rich stream of optimism and hope in Ruben’s darkest of days.
– You’d be forgiven for thinking Sound of Metal is all about heavy metal but it’s more about sound, using the audio design as powerfully as in A Quiet Place.
– Aurally singular and ambitious, we live vicariously through Ruben’s head, often hearing what he can – sometimes muffled, tinny or nothing at all.
– Sign language, hearing loss and a feeling of alienation only seem to become real to those affected by hearing loss, but become much more real to everyone in Sound of Metal.

An excellent 8 on the splingometer!

And finally a movie now on Netflix…


Reconnecting after 15 years, childhood best friends Sasha and Marcus start to wonder – maybe?

Director: Nahnatchka Khan

Stars: Ali Wong, Randall Park and James Saito

– As with Crazy Rich Asians, it’s refreshing to have a Hollywood romantic comedy with a predominantly Asian cast.
– Essentially a tale about childhood sweethearts who became estranged, the story about a failure-to-launch and celebrity isn’t original.
– What is original is the sharp writing, generating a similar level of energy to Juno in its sassy and wisecracking dialogue.
– Being the screenwriters and co-leads, Park and Wong know exactly how the jokes should land and it’s refreshing to have a romantic lead wearing prescription eyewear.
– Park is instantly likeable, a cheerful goofball with some very funny lines playing opposite the smart and spunky Wong.
– Watching the seesaw romantic comedy play out is entertaining and while the language is coarse at times, it’s largely redeemed by its charming cast.
– The film features a cameo for Keanu Reeves playing his antithesis with great conviction.
– The funky music is surprisingly catchy in an equally upbeat film full of surprises, some funny and others quite touching.
– This is a fairly lightweight piece of entertainment, presenting a fun, yet spirited modern day romance with some clever role reversals.
– Fresh casting, a snappy screenplay and disarming performances… it’s definitely one of the better romantic comedies out there.

A solid 7 on the splingometer!

So just to wrap up…

A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBOURHOOD… a gentle, humane, emotive, surreal, timely and powerfully-acted coming-of-age drama in the key of Kaufman… An excellent 8!

SOUND OF METAL… strong performances, brilliant sound design and an immersive story make this a fresh and beautiful beast of a drama… An excellent 8!

ALWAYS BE MY MAYBE… while coarse at times, zippy dialogue, charming co-leads and thoughtful role reversals refresh in this upbeat and modern romcom… A solid 7!

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