Spling reviews One Night in Miami, The Day We Didn’t Meet and Beautiful Boy 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 political drama, a romance drama and a coming-of-age drama.
Starting off with a film on Amazon Prime…
ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI
A fictional account of an incredible meeting between icons Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, Sam Cooke and Jim Brown.
Director: Regina King
Stars: Kingsley Ben-Adir, Eli Goree, Aldis Hodge and Leslie Odom Jr.
– One Night in Miami is based on a stage play by Kemp Powers, who adapted the script for screen, speculating on the kind of conversations that may have gone on behind closed doors between four American icons.
– Centred on the coming together of these influential black men during the ’60s, this film serves as a commentary on the political and cultural discourse of the time, making a curious retrospective exploration of progress or lack thereof.
– Coming from different walks of life, each of them bring their own political, religious and social frame of reference to the table.
– Great casting draws a likeness with the real-life personalities, which is reinforced by strong performances from a relatively unknown cast.
– Leaning on these characters, full-fledged performances and an insightful screenplay, One Night in Miami knows where its strengths lie.
– The colour palette may be dull but it’s in keeping with the style of the time giving it a time capsule feel.
– The drama may seem a little stagnant, pivoting on one primary motel room location, yet the dialogue is so substantial and the performances so convincing that it’s impassioned undercurrent goes a long way to redeeming any shortcomings.
– The motel room does have a stage play feel, yet it’s cleverly handled and embedded, introducing the film as each of the main players converge from contexts that offer a perspective on the bigger picture.
– Grappling with race, religion, politics and civil rights, One Night in Miami explores important and weighty themes without becoming overwrought or preachy.
A solid 7 on the splingometer!
Moving on to a film on Showmax…
THE DAY WE DIDN’T MEET
Alex and Sam reconnect after a chance encounter, playing into a fantasy life as a married couple until reality catches up with them.
Director: Johan Cronje
Stars: Lea Vivier, Steven John Ward and Laudo Liebenberg
– Before Sunrise told the story of strangers on a train whose meeting and romantic overtures span the course of a day and night spent in Vienna.
– Trying to capture some of this essence, The Day We Didn’t Meet focuses on a romance between a young doctor and a engineering school dropout whose pretend marriage trips into an intimate weekend getaway.
– Wonderlus writer-director Johan Cronje brings spontaneity through lively dialogue, this time in English, forming the basis for this sweet romance drama.
– Leaning quite heavily on its co-stars Vivier and Ward, the duo display natural charm and good chemistry as the story settles into a rhythm but they seem miscast when you match them up to their characters.
– Hovering somewhere between a teen and adult romance, there’s not enough time to truly connect with the characters before thrusting them into their coupling.
– It does grow on you a bit, but the false start gives the The Day We Didn’t Meet a contrived and forced feeling when it should be as easy-going and organic as the writing.
– It’s a struggle to overcome this hurdle, especially when it requires such heavy investment in these characters.
– To complicate matters, the film makes use of flashbacks that offer an interesting contrast but leads to a muddled sense of continuity.
– Perhaps a more distinct change through personal styling, transition or even colour scheme would have offered more clarity.
– While cute and disarming as a playful holiday romance, if you don’t buy into the characters, this 90 minute feature will seem long.
A flimsy 4 on the splingometer!
And finally a film on Amazon Prime…
A chronicle og the heartbreaking and inspiring experience of survival, relapse and recovery in a family coping with addiction over many years.
Director: Felix van Groeningen
Stars: Steve Carell, Timothee Chalamet and Maura Tierney
– Based on a pair of bestselling father and son memoirs, this intimate and nostalgic drama focuses on the relationship between a devoted father and a son who is addicted to crystal meth.
– Using flashbacks to relay the building blocks of their sentimental connection, these touching snapshots are contrasted with the dysfunction of the present day struggles.
– Carell and Chalamet are great choices who do the characters justice with soulful and reaching performances.
– A deep sense of nostalgia runs through Beautiful Boy, leveraging popular music with a memorable soundtrack and tipping the hat to other films with a similar tone.
– A track from Nirvana explains the character’s teenage angst and sense of alienation quite succinctly while venturing out in his car connects the story with Into the Wild.
– It has the wanderlust spirit of a Cameron Crowe film with the intimacy and sentimental value of similarly weighted father-son drama, The Music Never Stopped.
– Beautiful Boy’s open-ended conclusion may be somewhat frustrating but after some reflection you’ll realise it’s actually quite fitting given the enduring nature of this father’s love for his prodigal son.
A solid 7 on the splingometer!
So just to wrap up…
ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI… passionate co-lead performances, insightful writing and timely themes overpower this fine drama’s slow-moving and stagey feel… A solid 7!
THE DAY WE DIDN’T MEET… a lively and sweet romance drama is undermined by underdeveloped characters, a contrived set up and off-balance casting… A flimsy 4!
BEAUTIFUL BOY… this nostalgic, touching and thoughtful coming-of-age drama benefits from a strong cast and an emotive soundtrack… 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!