Spling reviews The Water Man, Crazy Not Insane and Just Mercy 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 family adventure, a forensic crime documentary and a biographical legal drama.
Starting off with a film now on Netflix…
THE WATER MAN
A boy sets out on a quest to save his ill mother by searching for a mythic figure said to have magical healing powers.
Director: David Oyelowo
Stars: David Oyelowo, Rosario Dawson and Alfred Molina
– Oyelowo is rising through the ranks of Hollywood, having delivered an Oscar-worthy performance as Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma – the actor’s also becoming a big fish as a film-maker.
– Managing 3-4 substantial acting credits per year, he’s somehow managed to find the time to direct his feature film debut, The Water Man.
– While the cast bristles with underrated stalwarts including Maria Bello, the show belongs to newcomers, Lonnie Chavis and Amiah Miller.
– Fresh-faced and exuberant, their innocence and low-key charm recall films like The Bridge to Terabithia as the young adventurers seek out the enigmatic Water Man.
– The film is tonally inconsistent, or you could say it’s overly ambitious given its 90 minute running time, possibly cut down for pacing.
– Balancing diagnosis drama, a fantasy quest, a father-son portrait and a natural disaster – there are probably too many moving parts.
– This gives the film a fresh burst of energy as the lens constantly adjusts, remaining elusive and curious in its swirling mix of genres.
– While the plotting isn’t all that cohesive, the escapist perspective is welcome and the mild peril is palpable.
– The Water Man has a magical quality carried forth by its creative blend of drawing, iconic photography and restrained visual effects.
– There’s an uplifting and timely message beneath it all that adds emotional gravitas, resonance and smooths over many of its flaws.
A satisfactory 6 on the splingometer!
Moving on to a documentary on Showmax…
CRAZY, NOT INSANE
An examination of the research by forensic psychiatrist, Dorothy Lewis.
Writer-Director: Alex Gibney
Features: Dorothy Lewis, Park Dietz and narration by Laura Dern
– The renowned forensic psychiatrist has made it her life’s mission to figure out how serial killers become serial killers.
– Recognising the darker side of our human nature, she contends that these people often become murderers as a result of a deadly mix of a horrific upbringing, brain damage and psychosis.
– Chronicling some of her most famous cases and subjects, she offers her insights, suggesting that a split caused by a traumatic childhood can extend into personality disorder and dissociative states associated with grisly and repeated murders.
– Through interviews with former associates, FBI profilers and Lewis herself, we get a clearer understanding of her qualitative research and driving force.
– Gibney swathes us in a rich tapestry of key interviews, photographs and art, embedding her handwritten notes in the frame for texture and a signature feel.
– It’s a fascinating and openhanded undertaking offering evidence to back up her research without ignoring the naysayers.
– Having gone against the grain, there is merit to her findings, which are revelatory and thought-provoking even if not irrefutable.
– Gibney’s documentary adds weight to Dorothy Lewis’s canon of research, ordering it in an entertaining, well-paced and polished format.
– Trying to understand the mind of Ted Bundy and Arthur Shawcross, this chronicle and character portrait offers some surprisingly empathetic and humanistic reflections.
A solid 7 on the splingometer!
And finally a film on Showmax…
Civil rights defense attorney Bryan Stevenson works to free a death row prisoner.
Director: Destin Daniel Cretton
Stars: Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Foxx and Brie Larson
– The irony of Monroeville, the hometown of To Kill a Mockingbird, being at the centre of Just Mercy is echoed on a few occasions as a part retrospective and tribute.
– This legal drama has a number of parallels as an innocent man from an impoverished neighbourhood is held to account on death row for a crime he didn’t commit.
– Instead of Gregory Peck, we have Michael B. Jordan, a blossoming talent whose roles in Creed and Fruitvale Station speak to his quiet tenacity.
– Playing opposite the likes of Jamie Foxx, Brie Larson and an accomplished, sprawling supporting cast he’s in good company serving as a generous kingpin in this powerful and thought-provoking drama based on a true story.
– Just Mercy has a powder keg message, which is explored through the racial prejudice, police interference and ineptitude of the legal system in Alabama at the time.
– Campaigning against the death penalty, the reflective courtroom drama speaks to ongoing injustice beyond the fallibility of capital punishment.
– It’s an emotional journey, compelled by many strong performances, offering a dramatic and competent rendition of the events leading up to this landmark trial.
– While overlong and battling a case that seems to be an open-and-shut miscarriage of justice, the power of the true story as brought to bear in the closing credits and the stirring conviction of the production power it home.
A solid 7 on the splingometer!
So just to wrap up…
THE WATER MAN… a stellar cast, heartfelt drama and imaginative visuals bolster this brisk, inconsistent yet magical family adventure… A satisfactory 6!
CRAZY, NOT INSANE… an entertaining, fluid, insightful, introspective and visually-compelling documentary with psychological thriller undertones… A solid 7!
JUST MERCY… while overlong, excellent performances, stirring themes and a powerful true story anchor this moving How to Kill a Mockingbird legal 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!