Talking Movies: The Tinder Swindler, Judas and the Black Messiah and Induku

Spling reviews The Tinder Swindler, Judas and the Black Messiah and Induku 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 documentary, a biographical historical drama and a coming-of-age drama.

Starting off with a documentary now on Netflix…


Posing as a wealthy, jet-setting diamond mogul, a con man wooed women online only to steal millions.

Director: Felicity Morris

– Being so independent and busy, the world can also be a lonely and alienating place, which has given rise to dating apps – the digital equivalent of speed dating.
– Taking our relationships into the digital ether, there’s a greater chance for illusion and ironically a swipe on Tinder can turn into much more than a bad date.
– This is what happened to several women who decided to take a chance on billionaire’s son, Simon Leviev, a con artist who crafted a lavish lifestyle as a honey trap.
– The slithery suspect at the core of this story wasn’t available for interview but his social media dynasty and interactions live on, revived for the purposes of this crime documentary.
– Taken from the perspective of a confessional, we get the highs and lows of this dangerous dating game as the buzz of connecting with a vulnerable and handsome suitor implodes.
– His deceptions are long game ploys, winning the trust of Tinder matches only to wine and dine them like a prince before fleecing them for all they’re worth.
– International destinations, fancy hotels, expensive wardrobes, watches, cars and jets… The Tinder Swindler is an unbelievable story and tale of relationship fraud.
– The equivalent of dating Carmen Sandiego, this slick documentary uses WhatsApp messages, images, recordings and interview footage to craft a tale of love, betrayal and revenge.
– It’s a bit repetitive but has the tabloid scandal, shock and entertainment value to drive home with the intrigue of a crime thriller.

A solid 7 on the splingometer!

Moving on to a film now on Showmax…


Offered a plea deal by the FBI, William O’Neal infiltrates the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party to gather intelligence on Chairman Fred Hampton.

Director: Shaka King

Stars: LaKeith Stanfield, Daniel Kaluuya and Jesse Plemons

– The Black Panthers started as a community protection group against police incidents in Oakland, California and turned into a prolific revolutionary movement between 1966 and 1982.
– The legacy of police brutality and discrimination continues today, making this story of William O’Neal’s betrayal of Fred Hampton as relevant as it was decades ago.
– Set in Chicago, Judas and the Black Messiah journeys with an infiltrator… an inside man who posed as a security captain to gain valuable intel.
– An intense biographical drama, historical events are recreated with a docudrama edge to skate between the realm of cinema and history.
– This film essentially offers a sequence of flashbacks on turning points, speeches, meetings and moments from O’Neal’s perspective as if a confessional and based on a damning PBS interview.
– The mis-en-scene and production values take you back in time without tripping into a comical retrospective, offering a fairly timeless vantage point on the political fervour of the era.
– While it aims for social realism, the performances underpin this rich blend, rooting the story in an unflappable history and anchoring the characters.
– It’s Kaluuya’s show, a diligent actor who rightfully won an Oscar for his soulful performance as Fred Hampton overshadowing LaKeith Stanfield’s brave yet tricky role as O’Neal.
– Supporting him is a fierce Martin Sheen and a circumspect Jesse Plemons, who just seems to get better and better with his quietly restrained yet calculated performances.
– Despite a bit of distance, Judas and the Black Messiah is an authentic first-rate production that captures the political power of BlacKkKlansman and visceral intensity of Detroit.

An excellent 8 on the splingometer!

And finally a movie on Showmax…


When Khethiwe, a talented stick-fighter, is forbidden from fighting with the boys in her neighbourhood, she fakes a job to secretly practice with them.

Director: Lehlogonolo Shaft Moropane

Stars: Kwanele Mthethwa, Bahle Hadebe and Bheki Sibiya

– Induku means ‘stick’ in Zulu and speaks to the art of stick-fighting and the resilience of family in this coming-of-age drama.
– While Khethiwe is the central character, whose journey involves proving herself through a number of trials, it’s actually a family affair.
– This modest straight-to-video Mzansi Magic film centres on a long-running family feud that stems from a tragic stick-fighting incident.
– Using this back story, the present day next generation must uphold the family name as they struggle to come to terms with a son who would rather sew and a daughter who’s ready to overturn the male-dominated tradition.
– There are some missing pieces, the stick-fighting is a bit rushed and TV melodrama seeps into the production, but it’s largely powered by its passionate actors and curious tale.
– As the old guard lock horns, the next generation try to figure out their place in it all, wanting to honour their parents and win the day yet equally distracted.
– Grappling with tradition, patriarchy, family, forgiveness and pride… there’s enough substance and character here to latch onto and entertain.
– Induku is an inconsistent yet compelling tale, humble in its ambitions yet spirited and layered enough to smooth over its many flaws.

A flat 5 on the splingometer!

So just to wrap up…

THE TINDER SWINDLER… this slick crime documentary is compelled by whole-hearted interviewees, high life fantasy, modern romance and a treacherous betrayal… A solid 7!

JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH… immersive production values and strong acting roots this hard-hitting and timely biographical crime drama… An excellent 8!

INDUKU… a layered story, solid cast and earnest performances smooth over the melodramatic tendencies of this modest coming-of-age drama… A flat 5!

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!