Spling reviews Seaspiracy, Wild Rose and The Roads Not Taken 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 marine documentary, a musical drama and a drama.
Starting off with a documentary now on Netflix…
A filmmaker sets out to document the harm that humans do to marine species.
Director: Ali Tabrizi
Features interviews with: Callum Roberts, Ric O’Barry and Sylvia Earle
– Recycling, donating to causes, picking up litter, Ali was doing what most environmentally-aware people gravitate towards.
– Having nurtured a childhood love for the ocean, whales and dolphins, the award-winning The Cove documentary in 2009 must have inspired the young filmmaker.
– Picking up the trail and setting in motion an infotaining thriller with espionage elements, Tabrizi uses Taiji as his launchpad in the wake of Japan flouting commerical whaling regulations, as if he was setting up a 10 years later follow-up to The Cove.
– Using Japan as the tip of the iceberg, Seaspiracy splinters into a multi-pronged investigation of the global fishing industry.
– The film is essentially several marine documentaries rolled into one: exploring threats to the ocean, flaws within the system and complications from a consumerism point-of-view.
– While scattershot in its approach, the underlying thrust of sustainability is there, consulting a variety of authors, experts, oceanographers and conservancies.
– Tackling everything from overfishing, fish farming, ocean bed damage, lack of protected areas, label fraud and even slavery… Seaspiracy is a whirlwind tour of what our species is doing to harm the ocean’s ecosystem and our own food security.
– Sleek visuals, handsome graphics, statistic charts, undercover footage, globetrotting and varied interviews are interwoven with Tabrizi’s voice-over offering continuity whether interviewing or narrating.
– While it operates like a trailer for a much broader work, it largely succeeds in creating a quick-paced and fluid overview of its most salient points with mouth-dropping and visceral footage.
– It’s a non-stop thrill ride, and while the research and some interview content may be slightly skewed, it’s ripple effect will be felt throughout the fishing industry.
A solid 7 on the splingometer
Moving on to a film now on Showmax…
A troubled young woman dreams of becoming a Nashville country star.
Director: Tom Harper
Stars: Jessie Buckley, Julie Walters and Sophie Okonedo
– Wild Rose is a musical drama in the tradition of Billy Elliott, journeying with a Glasgweigan singer who is convinced she’s destined for Nashville’s vibrant country music scene.
– The Billy Elliott connection is established through Julie Walters, who plays Rose-Lynn’s stoic babysitter and mother.
– This is a breakthrough BAFTA-winning performance for Buckley, who recently appeared in Charlie Kaufman’s surreal and underrated I’m Thinking of Ending Things.
– Spirited, uninhibited and living up to the film’s title, she’s every bit as rambunctious as her namesake character from Toy Story 2.
– A true underdog tale, it’s ultimately a crowdpleasing drama trading ballet pumps for cowboy boots and classical for country music.
– Lifted by several strong key performances, there’s a kitchen sink realism to the Scottish drama, grappling with unfulfilled dreams and family responsibilities.
– Buckley’s lead performance is compelling, in-the-moment and deeply rewarding, watching as the wild woman finds her place in the world.
– While Wild Rose finds some well-worn grooves in its storytelling, the country music angle is refreshing, the music is stirring and the performances are impassioned enough to power home with its head held high.
– Living through the character’s story as if it were about acting and Hollywood, Buckley’s transcendent performance breathes fire into this heartwarming tale.
A solid 7 on the splingometer!
And finally another film on Showmax…
THE ROADS NOT TAKEN
A day in the life of Leo and his daughter, Molly.
Writer-Director: Sally Potter
Stars: Javier Bardem, Elle Fanning and Salma Hayek
– Bardem and Fanning are not a natural pairing but are two of the hardest working talents in Hollywood today.
– Playing a father and daughter in the present day, the film offers flashbacks to a man’s days before dementia set in.
– Bardem was an absolute force in the powerful drama, The Sea Inside, which probably prompted his casting in this film.
– Their performances are the main reason to watch this heartrending drama, which gives them ample opportunity to showcase their ability through some tough dramatic moments.
– While important and grappling with some hard-hitting truths with a steady hand, it’s unfortunate that The Roads Not Taken is such a chore.
– You can’t deny the earnest approach to realise this film, but it’s restrained by sluggish pacing and vague storytelling.
– Functioning like a mystery, flashbacks seem adrift, struggling to build on the characters and cold hard facts of the present.
– From dreary apartments to beach holidays there is contrast but not enough substance as much as the actors try to fill the gap.
– Relying on little dialogue, accurate given the circumstances, there’s not all that much chance for the central relationship to bloom.
– In spite of the cast’s quality and the realistic treatment, The Roads Not Taken is too cold, distant and vapid to fully engage or entertain.
A flat 5 on the splingometer!
So just to wrap up…
SEASPIRACY… while scattershot, this ambitious investigative documentary is eye-opening, slick, infotaining and powerful… A solid 7!
WILD ROSE… a spirited lead performance and fresh country spin compels this entertaining and ultimately stirring musical drama… A solid 7!
THE ROADS NOT TAKEN… solid performances and earnest intentions rally against this film’s dreary, inert and vague storytelling… A flat 5!
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!