Spling reviews Another Round, Robust and The Jump 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 three films at the free and virtual European Film Festival.
Starting off with a comedy drama…
Four high school teachers consume alcohol on a daily basis to see how it affects their social and professional lives.
Co-writer/Director: Thomas Vinterberg
Stars: Mads Mikkelsen, Thomas Bo Larsen and Magnus Millang
– The Danish coming-of-age drama, Another Round, makes its Best International Feature Oscar seem like a double nomination based on the Vinterberg-Mikkelson duo’s superior film, The Hunt, which lost to Amour.
– Mikkelson plays a washed out History teacher who has slipped into a joyless, unmotivated and “be ordinary” channel.
– Having grown numb and succumbing to the mundane, his senses are reawakened at an after work hours celebration where he and three other teachers unveil their master plan.
– Cleverly arguing that alcohol could be your secret little helper, Vinterberg includes title screens to help gauge blood alcohol levels.
– The risks of the study seem obvious and even ominous within the context of a school environment, keeping a healthy tension.
– Mikkelson’s compelling and expressive face capture the lead role succinctly through storytelling that doesn’t spell everything out as this “play with fire” morality tale unfurls.
– Secretly being under the influence of alcohol keeps the drama taut and unpredictable, understandably allowing aspects of comedy to filter into this dangerous game.
– Vinterberg balances the tone masterfully, preventing the humour from upending the seriousness of the subject matter.
– As you’d expect, Another Round has been elegantly filmed, contrasting a deeply human element that’s expressed in the soulful music with singing from barfly choruses to school choirs.
– While there’s a Dead Poet’s Society undertone, the real focus is on the men as the secret project threatens to ruin everything as they continue to flirt with alcoholism.
– Offering insights into Denmark’s drinking culture, delivering strong performances, swathing us in pure cinema and keeping audiences engaged through its tense and unpredictable storytelling, it’s worthy of its many accolades.
An excellent 8 on the splingometer!
Moving on to another comedy drama…
An aging and disenchanted film star gets a new assistant in the form of a young female security officer.
Writer-Director: Constance Meyer
Stars: Gérard Depardieu, Déborah Lukumuena and Megan Northam
– Robust is a French comedy drama that has parallels with The Intouchables featuring an similar co-lead dynamic.
– One an ageing movie star and the other a promising wrestler and protection services representative, we get a charming and delightful film of great contrasts.
– Robust is essentially the convergence of two distinct character portraits.
– Constantly eating and trying to escape all contractual obligation, it’s a strange self-reflective turn for Depardieu who embraces the inside joke with a hyper extension.
– His counterpart is a young woman struggling with self-worth, finding meaning in her latest contract as the two learn from each other and form an unlikely connection.
– Grappling with the idea of a guardian and how each of these characters serve this role in each other’s lives, it’s a curious portrait drama with a slightly absurd undertone.
– Robust isn’t going for laugh-out-loud funny or infectiously charming, chiming in with a more thoughtful and subdued comedy drama, compelling thanks to its complex characters, deep ironies, literally robust co-leads and lively performances.
– It’s a gentle sleeping giant of a comedy drama that entertains, provokes thought and creates some curious yet comical scenarios.
A satisfactory 6 on the splingometer!
A documentary about a Soviet sailor who jumped onto a US Coast Guard boat in 1970.
Director: Giedre Zickyte
– This retrospective Lithuanian documentary unpacks a historical moment turned news story, which at the time captured the attention of the nation with a star-spangled banner.
– Simas Kudrika created a fiasco when he lept from a Soviet vessel onto an American one in an attempt to defect and claim asylum.
– Jumping just two minutes too early, this brave act resulted in the Lithuanian being subdued, detained, unboarded and eventually imprisoned in a concentration camp.
– The 1970 news story made it all the way to the White House where President Nixon was in office, instigating a number of on-the-street campaigns to free the man.
– Regaling the story, we get a charming and exuberant first-hand account of the man’s experiences following his jump.
– The documentary weaves together old photographs, news footage, archival media and news clippings to realise the moment and its life-altering consequences.
– From the rich compendium of retrospective footage and contemporary interviews with everyone from the man himself to Henry Kissinger, it’s a thorough and touching biographical chronicle.
– Breathing vitality into the documentary, the filmmakers create a vivid tapestry, allowing the subject to powerfully tour the very coast guard boat he was disgracefully unboarded from.
– 50 years on, it’s a remarkable story that serves its stand-alone purpose but splinters into a much broader commentary on the treatment of refugees in today’s world and America.
A solid 7 on the splingometer!
So just to wrap up…
ANOTHER ROUND… a beautifully crafted, entertaining, soulful, smart, taut and even touching comedy drama with a sharp lead performance… An excellent 8!
ROBUST… unassuming co-leads, thoughtful writing and an oddball spirit fuel this comedy drama and dual character portrait A satisfactory 6!
THE JUMP… a passionate subject, a powerful true story and a vivid compilation of archival footage power this intriguing retrospective… 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!