Talking Movies: The Minimalists, The Current War and The Fundamentals of Caring

Spling reviews The Minimalists, The Current War and The Fundamentals of Caring 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 documentary, a historical drama and a coming-of-age buddy road trip comedy.

Starting off with a documentary now on Netflix…


The Minimalists have reworked this phrase to create a sense of urgency for today’s consumer culture: now is the time for less.

Director: Matt D’Avella

Features: Joshua Fields Millburn, Ryan Nicodemus

– The message behind The Minimalists documentary is a welcome self-check and one that people are more open to in this post-recession pandemic age.
– Getting the latest and the greatest, manufacturing the perfect illusion of happiness and spending beyond one’s means are so ingrained, these excesses seem normal.
– Both cresting in their professional lives, Joshua and Ryan were forced to self-reflect to figure out why they weren’t feeling rich in spite of making more money than they ever had.
– The documentary plays like a road movie, moving at a good pace and building from the concept and their inspiration to their 10-month tour of the United States.
– “Love people and use things… because the opposite never works” is one of the closing comments, which sums up their quest.
– Their reductive mission isn’t just about getting rid of stuff, it’s about making space for more life.
– Tiny houses, redesigned space-saving ideas, decluttering, unsubscribing from the desire mentality, adopting meditation and living more with less is where The Minimalists find themselves.
– While the “less is more” mantra may make it seem like a semi-religious movement, the practical wisdom is an inspiration to us all.
– This sounds a bit preachy, but it’s done in an earnest fashion with the self-professed huggers spreading the word.
– The Minimalists provides an entertaining, informative, sincere and honest account of two guys committing to positive change.
– If Elon Musk can be the richest man on the planet one day and then not a few hours later, being “rich enough” will always be like chasing the wind.

A solid 7 on the splingometer!

Moving on to a film now on Showmax…


The dramatic story of the cutthroat race between electricity titans Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse.

Director: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon

Stars: Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Shannon and Tom Holland

– The Current War is a historical and biographical drama pitting Edison against Westinghouse, as America prepare to adopt electricity in their homes.
– Centred on two powerhouse actors in Cumberbatch and Shannon, arguably two of the best, this film was set to be a worthy matchup of immense talents.
– Taking an artful edge, seemingly trying to remain current and in the moment, it moves at a steady pace weaving in and out of beautifully ornate scenes.
– In some ways it echoes The Prestige, yet instead of rival magicians deals with inventors and industrialists.
– Another possible influence could have been There Will Be Blood, yet as glorious as this blend may sound it pales in comparison.
– The best thing about the film is the wonderful story it ironically brings to light, unearthing Edison’s character and entrepreneurial drive in this titanic war of wills as two headstrong so-called gentlemen battle it out as they attempt to electrify the United States.
– While Cumberbatch and Shannon make an inspired rivalry, though severely under-utilised, this historical film operates from a distance.
– Somewhat cold and fleeting, it’s a much better history lesson than it is a sprawling tale of invention and industry.
– Since there is a director’s cut, one has to imagine that the broader project was whittled down and lost some of its raw power in the editing room.
– While sweeping and impressive at times, The Current War struggles to connect on a human level keeping these titans just out of reach… as untapped potential.

A satisfactory 6 on the splingometer!

And finally a movie on Netflix…


A man suffering a family loss enrolls in a class about care-giving that changes his perspective on life.

Writer-Director: Rob Burnett

Stars: Paul Rudd, Craig Roberts and Selena Gomez

– Paul Rudd is a versatile actor who seems to continually re-centre himself around his first love, comedy.
– Caught between the realm of The Intouchables and 50/50, this entertaining buddy road movie has an independent spirit and quirky sense of cross-country adventure.
– Based primarily around the relationship between a carer and his teenage client, the film deals with their precarious friendship.
– Honest to a fault, the coarse language gives way to heartwarming tones as juvenile gags turn into much deeper connections.
– On the surface, it may seem a bit rough-hewn but The Fundamentals of Caring has a big heart, which helps smooth over its less savoury aspects.
– It may not be in the same league as its influences, but is much more thoughtful and soul-searching than its setup would have you believe.
– Solid co-lead performances, an emotive exploration of father figures and some genuinely funny moments keep this underdog comedy drama on the road.
– It may seem a little familiar and predictable even, playing on a spate of similar movies such as Me Before You but manages to keep surprising you with its charming mix of characters.

A solid 7 on the splingometer!

So just to wrap up…

THE MINIMALISTS… this earnest, eye-opening and entertaining road documentary touches on an array of minimalist ideas without becoming overly preachy… A solid 7!

THE CURRENT WAR… a strong cast are subdued in this artful, sweeping and fascinating yet cold and fleeting historical biographical drama… A satisfactory 6!

THE FUNDAMENTALS OF CARING… charming co-leads smooth over the rough edges of this spirited and even heartwarming comedy drama… A solid 7!

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