Spling reviews Death to 2020, The Report and Ander Mens 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 comedic retrospective of 2020, an investigative crime drama and a crime comedy.
Starting off with a film now on Netflix…
DEATH TO 2020
A satirical overview of the year 2020.
Directors: Al Campbell, Alice Mathias
Stars: Samuel L. Jackson, Hugh Grant and Lisa Kudrow
– As we enter 2021, everyone seems set on wiping the slate clean and trying to forget the nightmare that was 2020.
– Australian wildfires, Coronavirus, Black Lives Matter and a circus of an American election with great devastation on an economic, social and personal level it seems the one thing that everyone can agree on is 2020 sucked.
– The year played out a lot like something you would have seen on the dystopian sci-fi TV series Black Mirror, which is why it’s quite fitting that the makers of Black Mirror have been charged with this retrospective.
– Giving actors and comedians a chance to weigh in on the unprecedented times and bizarre turn of events, Death to 2020 takes a satirical look at events that are still playing out today.
– So fresh, it’s still too soon for many but for others this comedic overview presents an opportunity for people to try and cope through comedy.
– Featuring the talents of Samuel L. Jackson, Hugh Grant, Tracey Ullman, Lisa Kudrow and many more… the film gives them talking head responsibilities as they play a range of characters from journalists and vloggers to history professors.
– The commentary has a political edge, largely centred around American politics, yet having dominated world headlines it’s essentially a roundup of the talking points from 2020.
– It’s an amusing, surreal and strange mix of comedy written by a squad of writers whose coarse language and offbeat comedy track with the chronological summation.
– Clocking in at 70 minutes, it moves it some pace trying to navigate comedy in a year where everything seems off-limits and trying to command some level of sensitivity given the timing.
– While there are some clever moments and wonderful witticisms, it does seem like a rush job with many clangers.
A satisfactory 6 on the splingometer!
Moving on to a film now on Amazon Prime…
An investigation into the CIA’s post 9/11 detention and interrogation program reveals shocking secrets.
Writer-Director: Scott Z. Burns
Stars: Adam Driver, Annette Bening and Jon Hamm
– Guantánamo Bay is a place, which will always be remembered for one thing.
– Exploring the CIA’s involvement, attempts at a cover-up and retention of the group that ran the controversial project, The Report delivers an eye-opening and harrowing observational overview of the events following 9/11.
– After America was sent into high alert, following the terror attacks, it seemed that bending the laws or exploiting loopholes was the best counteroffensive to preventing further terror attacks across the nation.
– Not for the fainthearted, The Report explores torture scenes much like Rendition did, offering an inside look at conditions contrasting the stuffy backroom CIA politics against inhumane treatment.
– Called in to do an investigative audit, the special unit under Daniel Jones found themselves in a predicament as more suspicious evidence and communications rose to the surface.
– Driver is a fine actor in this All the President’s Men and Spotlight type docudrama, supported by an equally dependable cast.
– While crisp, ordinary and safe in terms of style, it remains compelling in its determination in fighting for what’s right in pursuing the truth at all costs.
– As a biographical character study it remains quite superficial, but being married to his work… Jones plowed everything back into his job.
– A fine production with equally handsome production values, a solid cast and a firm grasp on the subject matter, it performs well much like its lead character.
A solid 7 on the splingometer!
And finally a movie on Showmax…
A down-on-his-luck guy fuels a dangerous game between his handler, the cops and a gang of criminals after his wife leaves him for their marriage counsellor.
Director: Quentin Krog
Stars: Bennie Fourie, Marlee van der Merwe and Frank Opperman
– Fourie is a likeable actor who’s well known within the Afrikaans film industry for his writing, producing and acting.
– Based on the novel by Zirk van den Berg, this witness protection chasedown dark comedy actioner had loads of potential but struggles under the weight of ambition.
– Sporting a wonderful mix of experienced and up-and-coming acting talent, it’s a burgeoning cast who all seemed pleased with their outlandish characters.
– Shooting on location in our beautiful country, it’s a cut above in terms of picturesque scenes giving it an epic and world-class feel.
– The blend of action and comedy is somewhat problematic, never quite finding the right balance when it comes to grit and wink-wink charm.
– While intriguing and often fun in a dark comedy swagger, the storytelling is disjointed struggling to determine its co-leads and trying to figure out who’s really in charge.
– It’s enjoyable enough and has the finesse to entertain, yet seems like it was made in the ’90s in terms of its lazy appetite towards sex and violence.
– The dark comedy aspect doesn’t quite land and while there are glimpses of the movie it wanted to be, it just seems a bit too ambitious given the size of the cast and sprawling shoot.
A flat 5 on the splingometer!
So just to wrap up…
DEATH TO 2020… a mixed bag of cringes and laughs power this strange satirical comedy retrospective of an even stranger year… A satisfactory 6!
THE REPORT… a fine lead performance and sharp cast underpin this pristine, important and spirited investigative crime drama… A solid 7!
ANDER MENS… while promising, this crime comedy action caper is epic yet overly ambitious, disjointed and scattershot… A flat 5!
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!