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…
THE TINDER SWINDLER
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…
JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH
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!