Talking Movies: Glasshouse, Wrath of Man and Mute

Spling reviews Glasshouse, Wrath of Man and Mute as broadcast on Talking Movies, Fine Music Radio. Listen to podcast.

TRANSCRIPT

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

This week, we’re talking about a dystopian psychological chamber sci-fi drama, a crime thriller and a sci-fi thriller.

Starting off with a film now on Showmax…

GLASSHOUSE

A stranger’s unexpected arrival disturbs a tight-knit family, who are confined to a glasshouse in order to survive an airborne toxin.

Director: Kelsey Egan

Stars: Jessica Alexander, Hilton Pelser and Adrienne Pearce

– Glasshouse is a post-apocalyptic sci-fi western period piece drama and psychological thriller that reaches into the realm of fairy tale and hints at zombie horror.
– It’s been compared with Sofia Coppola’s The Beguiled based on similarities in tone, genre, single location, character mix and plot yet they actually used Never Let Me Go as a touchstone.
– Inspired by old world writing and hinging on a colonial relic, the film’s central themes may seem like they were inspired by the Covid-19 pandemic, but the masks and airborne toxin are purely coincidental.
– While shot in South Africa, Glasshouse has an international feel trying to remain detached from any place or time and as expressed in the casting.
– Shrouded in darkness, mist and gloom, this is an ornate film, a retrospective period piece that captures the haunting mood of the Bronte sisters through wardrobe choices and production design.
– Glasshouse is pensive and slow-moving to the point of feeling a bit stagnant, harbouring an uneasiness reminiscent of Midsommar and The Village as the sickly undertone plays out against a few callous and grisly moments in aid of the community’s greater good.
– Yet, the underlying concept, multi-genre mix, ethereal tone and world-building is so intriguing, it manages to push through these infrequent yet sluggish interchanges.
– Beyond the modest miracle, what’s truly great about this elusive film is its balancing act, knowing how and when to lure you deeper into the mist.

A solid 7 on the splingometer!
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Moving on to a film now on Labia Home Screen…

WRATH OF MAN

A man with a secret agenda accepts a job as a security guard at an armoured transit company.

Writer-Director: Guy Ritchie

Stars: Jason Statham, Josh Hartnett and Scott Eastwood

– While Ritchie has branched into the likes of Sherlock Holmes, he’s best remembered for his gritty gangster ensemble thrillers.
– Once tipped to direct a Bond movie, much like Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, it seems that this consideration inspired him to prove his versatility.
– Instead of espionage, he re-teams with action man Jason Statham to deliver a gritty yet elegant cash in transit heist crime thriller.
– While often compared with Quentin Tarantino, his latest effort is more in line with Michael Mann, upscaling a straightforward tale of revenge.
– The dialogue is decidedly Ritchie, whose sometimes puerile sense of humour interjects an otherwise hardened cops versus robbers showdown.
– The angry tough guy and hitman antics are a bit two-dimensional and could have used a bit of colour with the mysterious protagonist keeping to the shadows.
– While Wrath of Man is quite thin on character, the swirling plotting and twists-and-turns keep things entertaining while inside man action sequences add to the spectacle.
– Statham delivers more stoic intensity as a highly skilled man on a mission while Ritchie gets more serious without losing the cocky grit of his quintessential British capers.

A satisfactory 6 on the splingometer!
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And finally a movie on Netflix…

MUTE

A mute bartender rallies against gangsters in an effort to find out what happened to his missing partner.

Director: Duncan Jones

Stars: Alexander Skarsgård, Paul Rudd and Justin Theroux

– Jones made a splash in Hollywood, starting with Moon, Source Code and the videogame adaptation, Warcraft.
– Centred on a mute character played by Skarsgård, the screenplay was always going to be ambitious, attempting to immerse itself in a cyberpunk setting somewhere between Blade Runner and The Fifth Element.
– Juggling between this Amish man’s search for a missing person and the uneasy relationship between two surgeons working on the organ black market, the film struggles to keep a lid on things.
– It’s visually compelling, limiting CGI to create a real sense of environment and aims for Hollywood size even if the lighting does come across as discotheque.
– The futuristic mood has its charms, but it’s the stellar cast in the elemental Skarsgård, cantankerous Rudd and well-oiled Theroux that keep you transfixed.
– Mute’s screenplay lacks focus and is muddled, trying to line up sounding boards for Skarsgård whilst keeping the pot-boiling by way of obscured subplots.
– The Blade Runner world is enticing yet overly familiar, offering a few magpie delights but an overall lack of consistency when it comes to its phony and rickety tone.
– This strange brew thrives on its deeply committed performances yet is restrained by its problematic handling of characters and many missteps.
– Mute has its moments but ultimately fails to consolidate its vision, attempting to get by on character, performance and style alone.

A flimsy 4 on the splingometer!
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So just to wrap up…

GLASSHOUSE… while familiar and slow-moving, this moody sci-fi psychodrama is artful, ethereal, haunting, ornate and thoughtful… A solid 7!

WRATH OF MAN… Statham and Ritchie deliver a gritty, entertaining and intense albeit poker-faced revenge crime thriller… A satisfactory 6!

MUTE… solid performances, offbeat characters and sci-fi world-building propagate this muddled, tonally-challenged and overfamiliar cyberpunk thriller… A flimsy 4!

For more movie reviews and previous Talking Movies podcasts visit splingmovies.com.

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

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