Talking Movies: One Night in Miami, The Day We Didn’t Meet and Beautiful Boy

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.

TRANSCRIPT

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!
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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!
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And finally a film on Amazon Prime…

BEAUTIFUL BOY

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!
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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!

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