Talking Movies: Don’t Look Up, Mixtape and Made in Italy

Spling reviews Don’t Look Up, Mixtape and Made in Italy 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 satirical disaster dramedy, a coming-of-age music comedy drama and a comedy drama romance.

Starting off with a film now on Netflix…


Two low-level astronomers must go on a giant media tour to warn mankind of an approaching comet that will destroy planet Earth.

Writer-Director: Adam McKay

Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence and Meryl Streep

– The first thing you’ll notice about Don’t Look Up is its stellar cast including: Cate Blanchett, Mark Rylance, Timothée Chalamet and Jonah Hill.
– Directed by McKay whose credits include Anchorman and The Other Guys, his most recent work includes: The Big Short, Vice and now Don’t Look Up.
– Now going for Academy-level comedy, the filmmaker’s attracted some heavy-hitters who flex with full-fledged performances.
– It’s a chocolate box assortment… from Hill’s regression, Blanchett’s bombshell, Rylance’s quiet thunder to Streep’s surprisingly comfortable take on the President of the United States.
– Beyond the performances, Don’t Look Up is a timely and scathing commentary on present day social norms and American politics.
– Riding on society’s tendency to sweep the bad news under the carpet and focus on who’s saying it rather than what’s being said, the film uses an impending world-ending event to poke fun at the response to Covid-19.
– This edgy inside joke allows it the space to deride current power structures, especially in the United States, overlapping seemingly toothless agencies with the real power brokers – influential bigwigs who have built digital empires and media powerhouses.
– While the charm of the wink-wink performances and star power give Don’t Look Up clout, it’s a long-running joke that does overstay its welcome at 140 minutes.
– Always entertaining and constantly sniping, it’s a brash and difficult-to-love political satire that uses TV attention-grabbing amusement to carry out its payload.

A solid 7 on the splingometer!

Moving on to a film now on Netflix…


When a young girl accidentally destroys the mixtape that belonged to her mother, she sets out to track down each of the obscure songs on the cassette.

Director: Valerie Weiss

Stars: Gemma Brooke Allen, Julie Bowen and Nick Thune

– Mixtape is a fun conceptual coming-of-age comedy drama that plays like Sing Street meets School of Rock.
– Downgrading teenage angst to the realm of tweens, Mixtape probably would’ve worked better if the characters were slightly older.
– While this cute factor makes it more family-friendly and less disillusioned with the world, it’s escalated by its party like it’s 1999 pre-millenium Y2K panic.
– Mixtape starts off a bit uneasy but soon finds its stride as our sweet lead assembles her motley crew.
– The young girl tries to track down songs from The Kinks to The Stooges as she reconnects with her past giving it a punk edge.
– It’s great to see Modern Family’s Julie Bowen tackling a film role as a young grandmother and postal worker, while Nick Thune blends John Cusack and Jack Black from High Fidelity.
– Mixtape doesn’t hit the same high notes as some of its influences, yet remains an entertaining, humourous and spirited film about identity, memory and legacy.
– Some of the story’s interchanges and transitions could have used a bit more spit ‘n polish but this gentle delight is heartfelt and amusing enough to carry over.
– There aren’t any big name stars to sell this story, making it a team effort as the characters schism and then begin to grow on us.

A solid 7 on the splingometer!

And finally a documentary on …


A bohemian artist travels from London to Italy with his estranged son to sell the house they inherited from his late wife.

Writer-Director: James D’Arcy

Stars: Micheál Richardson, Lindsay Duncan and Liam Neeson

– Made in Italy is a holiday movie in every sense of the word, allowing you to be transported without becoming a challenge.
– It’s set against the most spectacular backdrops of Italy where a winding road or lone spire juts out to remind us we’re not in heaven.
– Contrasting these idyllic vistas against a dreary London, it’s as alluring as a well-timed travel brochure.
– Starring Liam Neeson and his biological son Micheál, the experiment mostly pays off as the two leverage their history and familiarity.
– The film could have been made in order to justify an actual renovation but is impassioned and entertaining enough without arousing too much suspicion.
– Loosely drawn and leaning on some cliches, like an artwork, it’s best viewed from a few paces back for the best effect.
– Using the central theme of restoration, Made in Italy does verge on melodrama but is still enjoyable enough to keep watching.
– The film could have used the talents of its stars better but gives the impression this platform was designed for Richardson to spread his wings.
– Made in Italy may not be a great movie but its rich themes, moody settings, upbeat pace, pastoral lifestyle, familial warmth and message about rebuilding after tragedy give enough resonance to connect and entertain.

A satisfactory 6 on the splingometer!

So just to wrap up…

DON’T LOOK UP… an all-star cast of oddballs enhance this dark, entertaining, timely and reflective social satire and disaster movie… A solid 7!

MIXTAPE… a fun, emotive concept and charming performances compel this sweet, upbeat and entertaining music comedy drama… A solid 7!

MADE IN ITALY… good pacing, beautiful vistas, stark contrasts and a warm holiday mood compel this loosely drawn yet enjoyable comedy drama romance… A satisfactory 6!

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And remember, Don’t WING it, SPL!NG it!