Talking Movies: The Little Things, People Places Things and The Marksman

Spling reviews The Little Things, People Places Things and The Marksman 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 mystery crime drama, a romance comedy drama and an action adventure thriller.

Starting off with a film now on Showmax…


Kern County Deputy Sheriff, Joe Deacon, rekindles a haunting secret in Los Angeles when a special assignment turns into a full-blown search for a serial killer.

Writer-Director: John Lee Hancock

Stars: Denzel Washington, Rami Malek and Jared Leto

– The Little Things is a moody crime drama, which has been in the pipeline since 1993.
– Stuck in development, one has to imagine that renewed interest in brooding series like True Detective necessitated its release.
– While the film has similarities with True Detective, based on a serial killer and the decision to focus on two detectives, it’s actually more in line with David Fincher’s Seven.
– Taking on a dark, gloomy and hard lines atmosphere, where the suspect is the only one who seems to add some form of comic relief, it doesn’t do much to distinguish itself from other films within the subgenre.
– The Little Things, ironically focuses on three big things, which happen to be its principal stars in Washington, Malek and Leto.
– Each the owner of one of those coveted golden statuettes, the competitive and respectful atmosphere does raise the bar when it comes to performance, something that helps prevent the bleak atmosphere from becoming cloying.
– The cinematography and production values are also a boon, underwriting the dank and dark Fincher decay whilst keeping The Little Things visually-captivating.
– Leaning quite heavily on its stars, there are enough curiosities to keep you loosely invested and while verging on cliched, the performances tip the balance when it comes to entertainment value.

A satisfactory 6 on the splingometer!

Moving on to a film on Netflix…


A newly single graphic novelist balances parenting and a classroom full of students while navigating the rich complexities of new love.

Writer-Director: Jim Strouse

Stars: Jemaine Clement, Regina Hall and Stephanie Allynne

– Clement has a fascinating face, which makes the star instantly recognisable, especially when paired with his trademark black-rimmed spectacles.
– A master of awkward and offbeat comedy, whether in front of camera in Flight of the Conchords or behind camera in What We Do in the Shadows, his charms are not wasted in People Places Things.
– Playing a budding graphic novelist and inspired animation teacher, it just feels right with the comical actor able to exist concurrently on screen and on paper, relaying funny yet thoughtful biographical depictions.
– He thrives on unusual and imaginative comedic life moment set ups, which have been beautifully accentuated by smart writing and good timing.
– Supported by a talented cast including: Hall, Allynne and newcomer Jessica Williams, there’s an earnest yet playful undercurrent to this bittersweet romance comedy drama.
– People Places Things may come across as slight, tending towards some well-worn “romcom” dilemmas but has a surprising degree of colour, texture and an inherent melancholy in spite of its goofy quirk.
– This breezy daydreaming makes it enjoyable and pleasing enough to entertain with a candid feel.
– Laden with indie spirit… the stuff of Sundance… and carried through by witty writing, it ultimately remains a fun, feel good and well-balanced romance comedy.
– It starts with a bang and the ending does seem a bit rushed, but it’s one of the most gentle, ambling and human films you’ll see this year.

A solid 7 on the splingometer!

And finally a movie on Showmax…


A rancher on the Arizona border becomes the unlikely defender of a young Mexican boy desperately fleeing cartel assassins.

Director: Robert Lorenz

Stars: Liam Neeson, Jacob Perez and Juan Pablo Raba

– Clint Eastwood is still playing tough guys in his 90s, so it seems perfectly alright for Liam Neeson to be “taking out the trash” at the age of 69.
– The Marksman has similarities with The Mule, pitting an older guy and his truck against authorities and ruthless drug cartels.
– Neeson plays an ex-sniper, who becomes embroiled in a dispute involving an orphan, a bag of money and dangerous Mexican gangsters.
– Playing a rancher, whose natural predisposition for heroics leads him into deeper waters, a violent encounter on the border turns into a cross-country car chase.
– Leaning more towards action adventure over an immigration commentary, this crime thriller has western elements as a man with nothing to lose accepts the role of protector.
– While a few plot holes unfurl, spirited performances and an unconventional hero turned guardian spur on the drama as suspenseful man-on-the-run action sequences punctuate the film.
– The Marksman isn’t aiming for lofty heights, keeping things fairly superficial when it comes to drama and storytelling, mostly ignoring the powder keg in the room.
– It may not mine the socio-political implications of its character’s actions, but does gently point towards a more humane and nuanced response when it comes to seeing people as people.
– Finding the grit and turmoil of Desierto and setting it against the heart and spirit of The Mule, The Marksman is a serviceable and entertaining action adventure thriller.

A satisfactory 6 on the splingometer!

So just to wrap up…

THE LITTLE THINGS… fine performances anchor and entertain in this moody and pensive Fincheresque serial killer crime drama mystery… A satisfactory 6!

PEOPLE PLACES THINGS… sharp performances and witty writing compel and refresh this earnest and beautifully awkward romance comedy drama… A solid 7!

THE MARKSMAN… spirited performances, an unconventional hero and pulpy man-on-the-run suspense bolsters this middling cross-country action adventure thriller… 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!