Spling reviews Beckett, Misha and the Wolves and The Professor (Richard Says Goodbye) 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 man-on-the-run thriller, a documentary drama and a dark comedy drama.
Starting off with a film now on Netflix…
Following a tragic car accident, an American finds caught up in a dangerous political conspiracy.
Director: Ferdinando Cito Filomarino
Stars: John David Washington, Boyd Holbrook and Alicia Vikander
– Son of Denzel, John David Washington has developed a strong reputation on the back of performances in BlacKkKlansman, Tenet and Malcolm & Marie.
– As Beckett, he plays an American citizen visiting Greece when a car accident forces him on the run from the local authorities.
– Set in Greece, this The Fugitive style thriller has an epic quality as Beckett tries to elude his assailants amid the ruins, rocks and cityscape.
– While it hinges on a major coincidence, it makes a promising start with Vikander set to co-star but loses steam after the first act sets the chase in motion.
– The escape scenes energise with a sense of adventure while the quieter dramatic moments tend to drag no thanks to a thin script.
– Evading pursuants without much effort, the former running back is near-invincible as Beckett… surviving a car accident and an onslaught of bodily harm and physical duress.
– While there are political forces at play and Greece offers a visually-appealing backdrop, Beckett’s a rather simple and underwhelming thriller where the protagonist seems to be the only one compelled by a sense of urgency.
– Beckett is built on Washington and his breathless and physical performance, but lacks the tension, stakes and substance to truly shine.
A flat 5 on the splingometer!
Moving on to a documentary drama on Netflix…
MISHA AND THE WOLVES
After a woman’s holocaust memoir took the world by storm, dark truths began to emerge.
Writer-director: Sam Hobkinson
Features: Misha Defonseca
– Misha and the Wolves is an extraordinary documentary that sets the platform with a remarkable story about a Holocaust survivor who went in search of her parents.
– Unpacking a real-life Mowgli in Misha, we get a comprehensive overview of a story that had both Oprah and Disney on her doorstep.
– From a legal battle to reclaim Misha’s story, copyright and royalties from her unscrupulous publisher, a massive multi-million dollar lawsuit launches a detailed fact-checking mission as secrets comes to light.
– Now living in the United States and becoming the talk of the town before her story broke to the world through a local radio station, a hunt for the truth unearths so much more than anyone bargained for.
– Getting key interviews with each of the players who are identified by their roles in the overarching story, we get a compelling chronicle of a woman’s life and a story that rivals Life of Pi.
– These characters are what drive the drama with a Belgian woman who could have warranted her own spin-off documentary.
– From black-and-white World War II footage, archival research, news clips and earnest character-filled interviews from friends, associates and investigators, we get a well-paced, entertaining and bizarre tale of illusion, deception, reinvention and the inconvenient truth.
– Taking many twists-and-turns, this stranger-than-fiction documentary grows sporadically as its swirling mix of mystery, suspense and intrigue call us to question everything we hold to be true.
It did just enough to get an excellent 8 on the splingometer!
And finally a film on Showmax…
A college professor lives his life with reckless abandon after being diagnosed with a terminal illness.
Writer-director: Wayne Roberts
Stars: Johnny Depp, Rosemarie DeWitt and Danny Huston
– Depp has gone from the iconic Keith Richardesque Captain Jack Sparrow to Davey Jones’ Locker, making headlines for all the wrong reasons claiming Hollywood is boycotting him.
– Who better to tackle the last days of a terminally ill English professor who tries to reinvent himself through reckless abandon and hedonistic soul-searching than Depp in his current state of affairs?
– The Professor’s been accurately described as “American Beauty meets Dead Poet’s Society” but it’s not so much a drama as it is an indelicate and wry dark comedy drama.
– While a bit of a gamble much like his character, Depp has nothing to lose and delivers an offbeat balancing act of an inside joke that reminds you its him whilst finally acknowledging his age and fragility.
– The Professor’s screenplay is flippant and the “are you serious?” undertone of the film reinforces its deadpan comedy.
– Composed of many playful scenes, Roberts creates an absurd, awkward and surprising mix of comedy and drama that keeps you guessing.
– Swaying from ribald to heartfelt, there’s rarely a dull moment as Richard says goodbye in signature fashion – trying to leave a legacy to his most devoted English students, going out in an apathetic blaze of glory and taking potshots at his would-be enemies in a final flourish of ecstasy.
– It’s not in the same league as its likely inspirations, wielding a double-edged tone that adds as much as it subtracts.
– The underlying message of being true to oneself is important, something that carries significance in spite of the hedonistic endeavours.
A satisfactory 6 on the splingometer!
So just to wrap up…
BECKETT… Washington’s urgency compels this energetic yet patchy, thinly scripted and underwhelming man-on-the-run thriller… A flat 5!
MISHA AND THE WOLVES… gripping storytelling, colourful characters, an intriguing true story and good pacing power this layered detective documentary… An excellent 8!
THE PROFESSOR… Depp’s uncharacteristic turn heralds this quirky and playful dark comedy drama mix of American Beauty and Dead Poet’s Society… A satisfactory 6!
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!