Talking Movies: The Water Man, Crazy Not Insane and Just Mercy

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…


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…


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!

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