Talking Movies: The Midnight Sky, Teen Spirit and Prom

Spling reviews The Midnight Sky, Teen Spirit and Prom 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 sci-fi drama thriller, a coming-of-age music drama and a musical drama.

Starting off with a film now on Netflix…


A Arctic scientist races to prevent a space mission from returning home to a mysterious global catastrophe.

Director: George Clooney

Stars: George Clooney, Felicity Jones and David Oyelowo

– Midnight Sky is based on the book ‘Good Morning, Midnight’ by Lily Brooks-Dalton
– It’s a sweeping sci-fi fantasy drama that should have played on the big screen.
– In his first role since Money Monster, Clooney offers a contemplative and stoic lead performance as a scientist trying to find meaning and purpose at the 11th Hour.
– While not directly related, The Midnight Sky is made timely and haunting by its parallels with our current predicament.
– It’s a slow-moving film operating in a poetic dimension, building slow-creep suspense with flashes of nail-biting action.
– Dealing with the return of a deep space mission there are some obvious connects with the realism and technical marvel of Gravity, which also featured Clooney.
– While expectedly bleak as a post-apocalyptic drama, there’s always a flicker of hope.
– The Midnight Sky is brought home by beautiful cinematography and a stellar supporting ensemble featuring Jones and Oywelowo.
– The storytelling meanders a bit, dipping into contrivances with some seemingly illogical plotting.
– Yet, the heart, spirit and artful treatment of this otherwise elegant film keep it on track.
– It’s a definite cut above when it comes to Netflix films but may be too contemplative and gentle for most audiences.

A solid 7 on the splingometer!

Moving on to a movie now on Showmax…


A shy teenager enlists the help of an unlikely mentor to enter a national pop star search competition.

Writer-Director: Max Minghella

Stars: Elle Fanning, Zlatko Buric and Rebecca Hall

– Minghella’s an actor turned director, whose second feature shows great promise and forethought.
– Fanning has completely outclassed her sister Dakota when it comes to landing substantial lead roles.
– Her fascinating facial features, immense talent, difficult-to-place age and indie spirit have fuelled her blossoming career.
– In Teen Spirit, she gets to perform as an actor and singer, delivering an angst-filled performance with surprisingly good musical dexterity.
– She’s paired with Buric as her mentor, whose heft and father figure role echo the dynamic in Toni Erdmann.
– Using old school pop tunes and setting the film predominantly on the Isle of Wight, there’s an otherworldly feel to Teen Spirit.
– The music selection is distinctly ’90s and given the mix of ethnicities, the film has a Eurocentric feel with lighting and hues that recall Drive.
– While the Cinderella story seems fairly formulaic, there are some good twists that keep it from becoming overly predictable.
– The interesting editing choices help build a sense of substance while keeping the film upbeat and entertaining.
– The music has clout and Teen Spirit’s fun nature and cool vibrations make it an enjoyable watch.
– Showing flair when it comes to film-making and storytelling, it does just enough to warrant…

A solid 7 on the splingometer!

And finally another film now on Netflix…


Theater stars descend upon a small conservative Indiana town to rally behind a high school girl who wants to take her girlfriend to the prom.

Director: Ryan Murphy

Stars: Meryl Streep, James Corden and Nicole Kidman

– Prom is based on the hit stage musical, which addresses LGBT prejudices in a small town ahead of a prom.
– The first thing you’ll notice is it’s stellar cast featuring headline acts: Streep, Kidman, Corden as well as Kerry Washington, Tracey Ullman and Keegan-Michael Key.
– You’ll also be forgiven for thinking Drew Barrymore has a starring role given Jo Ellen Pellman’s doppelganger looks.
– This is a flashy and fun rainbow musical that picks up on a Footloose type scenario, leveraging themes around inclusivity and tolerance.
– The music is a blast, supplanted quite effortlessly into the storytelling, while it’s good to see some of Hollywood’s stars doing a little razzle dazzle.
– Centred around a troupe of egoists, there are some funny twists with big stars playing into the realm of their theatrical counterparts.
– Somehow the film’s kingpin and Barrymore clone fades into the backdrop in spite of her gorgeous looks and angelic voice, giving the heavyweight stars more of a character arc.
– The timely story, musical numbers, choreography and entertaining glitz and glamour of Prom make it a great bit of escapism.
– Yet, as upbeat as it is… it seems the story weighting favours star power over full-fledged characterisation.
– It’s still a good fun with important themes and some real gems but is overshadowed by its own billboard.

A solid 7 on the splingometer!

So just to wrap up…

MIDNIGHT SKY… a strong lead, mesmerising visuals, timely themes and great suspense help overcome screenplay shortfalls… A solid 7!

TEEN SPIRIT… a versatile lead, a nostalgic soundtrack, moody lighting, convincing performances and a sharp edit overpower the predictable… A solid 7!

PROM… A star-studded cast revel in this fun, upbeat, colourful, important yet off-balance musical adaptation… 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!