Spling reviews Music, The Dig and Blow the Man Down 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 music drama, a period drama and a dark comedy caper.
Starting off with a film opening in cinemas and on DStv Box Office…
Zu is newly sober when she receives news that she is to become the sole guardian of her half-sister named Music.
Stars: Kate Hudson, Leslie Odom Jr. and Maddie Ziegler
– Sia is an Australian popstar whose thoughtful lyrics, emotive voice and catchy rhythms have always been complemented by artful and surreal music videos.
– Her music has been used in soundtracks like The Neon Demon, unleashing 10 new songs to compel her directorial feature film debut in Music.
– Relying on singles these days, rather than albums and being throttled by music streaming services, music artists have had to get creative in the way they exhibit, extrapolate or take ownership of their work.
– Fulfilling her creative pursuits and capitalising on her fame, she explores themes around finding your voice and creating family.
– Incorporating musical style cutaways these surreal interludes connect the fabric of a coming-of-age drama turned romance.
– Hudson does a phenomenal job, adopting a Sinead O’Connor look, which may have contributed to a much more open and vulnerable performance.
– Ziegler, try as she may, is miscast and there’s an uneasiness to her performance, not getting the dramatic turf and centredness she needed to portray her character’s disability with greater nuance.
– The film has received a backlash in response to the depiction of autism, specifically around restraint techniques and casting.
– While Music is actively trying to be inclusive, insensitive missteps around the condition leave a bad taste in the mouth.
– Sia’s music is powerful, the choreography is geared towards rainbow fun with a bright colour palette to help create an ’80s sensibility with fun-spirited fantasy flair.
– Hudson’s lead performance is good enough to keep things moving forward in spite of the distractions in terms of handling.
– While misguided, Sia demonstrates vision in this Amelie-inspired state of wonder and ability in her treatment of some of the more tender moments.
A flimsy 4 on the splingometer!
Moving on to a film now on Netflix…
An archaeologist embarks on the historically important excavation of Sutton Hoo in 1938.
Director: Simon Stone
Stars: Carey Mulligan, Ralph Fiennes and Lily James
– Set in the weeks leading up to the Second World War, this ensemble drama comes to centre on the excavation of a set of mounds on a Suffolk estate.
– Adopting an ethereal, almost spiritual dimension, The Dig is a subtle film – a factor that works for and against it.
– This quality is expressed through Fiennes’s performance, allowing him to be elusive, earthy and enigmatic.
– Artful in terms of its cinematography and edit, it never quite settles into its reality to the point of being haunting and wispy.
– The excavation itself comes to be the main character as the three co-lead actors and their stories revolve around it.
– Grappling with the idea of ownership, recognition, legacy and mortality there are many heady ideas at play.
– Strong performances from a cast of understated actors reinforce many of the notions, compelling the intricate and curious archaeological aspect without becoming dusty.
– Beautiful to behold, well-acted and mostly subtle in its approach, it’s a fine and contemplative historical drama.
– Pensive, slow-moving and somewhat elusive, it has a poetic undertone and melancholic mood.
– Never quite settling on any one character, it treads as slightly as it does over the excavation possibly owing to its somewhat distant and disconnected feeling.
– Ultimately, The Dig is thought-provoking, entertaining and soul-stirring, compelled by its artistic merit and fine production values.
A solid 7 on the splingometer!
And finally a film now on Amazon Prime…
BLOW THE MAN DOWN
Sisters attempt to cover up a gruesome run-in with a dangerous man, uncovering the town’s darkest secrets.
Writer-Directors: Bridget Savage Cole and Danielle Krudy
Stars: Sophie Lowe, Megan Saylor and Margo Martindale
– You could describe this suspenseful dark comedy as a blend of Fisherman’s Friends and Fargo.
– Taking place in a small fishing village with surly fishermen who sing, everything is not as it seems, while the cold conditions, mix of oddball townsfolk and attempts to conceal a body give it a similar vibration to Fargo.
– Centred on two sisters, the film comes to encompass a solid collective of performances, the most memorable and iconic of which comes from Martindale as bordello madam, Enid Devlin.
– Maintaining good pacing without losing the mystery’s slow-burning suspense, Blow the Man Down has surprising depth as town secrets emerge.
– It’s refreshing to have a well-balanced yet predominantly female cast, full-fledged characters and an unconventional sense of camaraderie.
– Nuanced, compelling, entertaining and creating a real sense of place, Blow the Man Down does enough groundwork to serve as a layered pilot for a TV series.
– A wry sense of humour bubbles beneath the surface of things and while it doesn’t tie up all the loose ends, it has enough suspense and small town murder mystery panache to make it worthwhile, especially for fans of the genre.
A solid 7 on the splingometer!
So just to wrap up…
MUSIC… a fine lead performance and upbeat flair compel this well-meaning yet misguided, miscast and mawkish coming-of-age music drama and romance… A flimsy 4!
THE DIG… strong performances, visual poetry, fine production values and thought-provoking themes power this elusive and swirling historical drama… A solid 7!
BLOW THE MAN DOWN… sturdy performances, layered storytelling, an independent spirit and artful treatment empower this slow-burning seaside crime mystery drama… 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!