Talking Movies: Spling’s Best Reviewed Films of 2021

Spling reviews The Kid Detective, A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood, The Power of the Dog, Sound of Metal and Another Round as broadcast on Talking Movies, Fine Music Radio. Listen to podcast.


Good morning – welcome to Talking Movies, I’m Spling…

Since it’s the first episode of 2022 and the 441st episode of Talking Movies, we’re talking about my five favourite films as reviewed on Talking Movies in 2021.

Starting off with number 5…


A once-celebrated kid detective, now 32, is hired to investigate a brutal murder.

Writer-Director: Evan Morgan

Stars: Adam Brody, Kaitlyn Chalmers-Rizzato and Kaleb Horn

– Caught somewhere between Ace Ventura and The Secret in their Eyes, The Kid Detective is a multifaceted, smart and well-acted film with a curious mix of light and dark.
– Using flashbacks to connect us with the treehouse world of detective agencies, this crime comedy caper contrasts a before-and-after portrait of a promising young man’s mind and his arrested development.
– Hilarious in its own microcosm of inadequacy, deadbeat vibrations and low-level investigative charm, the comedic landscape takes on a much darker tone as the kid detective is confronted by his own innocence now deferred.
– A witty and subversively funny dark comedy, this dexterous film will surprise you, operating as a straightforward caper yet layered in a much deeper commentary on the divide between young and old.


At number 4…


Based on the true story of a real-life friendship between Fred Rogers and journalist Lloyd Vogel.

Director: Marielle Heller

Stars: Tom Hanks, Matthew Rhys and Chris Cooper

– In something akin to a Charlie Kaufman film comes the surreal, unpredictable and timely A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood.
– Hanks is always dependable and always rises to the occasion, doing so again in this deeply humane, affecting and gentle performance.
– Calm and serene, the turmoil of the journalist’s difficult past is forced into a more peaceful place when he’s around the cool body of water that is Rogers.
– The eclectic film’s delicate writing, mesmerising storytelling and fine performances make for a compelling and deeply moving coming-of-age drama.
– Wonderfully human, effortlessly captivating and full of hope it’s a refreshing and touching drama.


At number 3…


Mind games erupt when a charismatic rancher’s brother brings home a new wife and her son.

Director: Jane Campion

Stars: Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst and Jesse Plemons

– The Power of the Dog is an unconventional Western and slow-burning Gothic psychological drama.
– Campion is in full control, swathing us in this tense atmosphere and siphoning excellent performances from her talented cast, including one of Cumberbatch’s finest performances as a cantankerous cowboy.
– The film’s setting, genre, soulful depth, stirring performances, striking cinematography, inventive score and poetic undertone make it comparable with There Will Be Blood.
– Masterfully blending its iconic cinematography, complex characters, emphatic performances and substantial themes by way of sensitive direction, it remains an outstanding Western family portrait and social commentary.


At number 2…


A heavy-metal drummer’s life spirals out of control when he begins to lose his hearing.

Director: Darius Marder

Stars: Riz Ahmed, Olivia Cooke and Paul Raci

– Sound of Metal has a melancholy, a happy-sad dimension that permeates without losing its artful tenacity.
– As a character portrait, it’s immersive thanks to Ahmed’s energetic performance and character’s rage and self-denial.
– The drumming, intensity and mentor relationship echo the equally powerful drama, Whiplash.
– Yet Sound of Metal isn’t as soul-crushing or aggressive… offering a rich stream of optimism and hope in Ruben’s darkest of days.
– Aurally singular and ambitious, we live vicariously through Ruben’s head, often hearing what he can – sometimes muffled, tinny or nothing at all.

And finally, at number 1…


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 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.
– 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.


So just to wrap up, here are the films that scored an excellent 8 on the splingometer in 2021…

Another Round, Sound of Metal, Power of the Dog, The Kid Detective, Minari, Pig, The Father, It’s Not a Burial It’s a Resurrection, His House, The Witch, David Lynch: The Art Life, One Child Nation, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood, Words on Bathroom Walls, Misha and the Wolves, The River Runner, Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind, Sabaya, Writing with Fire, Ordinary Love, President, Promising Young Woman, Charlatan, Tick… Tick… Boom and 14 Peaks: Nothing Is Impossible.

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