Talking Movies: Against the Ice, Shiva Baby and Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom

Spling reviews Against the Ice, Shiva Baby and Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom 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 historical drama, a comedy drama and a documentary.

Starting off with a film now on Netflix…


In 1909, two explorers fight to survive after they’re left behind in ice-covered Greenland.

Director: Peter Flinth

Stars: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Joe Cole and Heida Reed

– This historical survivalist adventure drama is based on the book Two Against the Ice, which captures the tough conditions and hard decisions two Danish men face after returning from a grueling expedition.
– Best known for Game of Thrones, Danish actor Coster-Waldau has made a strong transition from the series to film with solid performances like Shot Caller and The Silencing.
– As actor, producer and screenwriter, Against the Ice is an opportunity to cover his homeland’s historical endeavours, adapting Ejnar Mikkelsen’s powerful true story.
– Primarily a two-hander, the survivalist drama has echoes the docudrama of Wolf Totem, the solitude of Castaway, a flashback dynamic from The Grey and harks back to The Revenant and The Martian.
– Branching out from an unlikely friendship, the drama leans more heavily into its haunting mood as an old flame burns brighter.
– While the film has magpie tendencies, borrowing bits and pieces from much more accomplished survivalist dramas, the powerful true story at its core keeps it gritty and honest.
– Filming in snowy conditions, working with dogs and trying to bring honour to this remarkable story, Against the Ice is an admirable effort even if vaguely familiar.
– While you may wonder how they plan to sustain the drama, seemingly accomplishing the mission too soon, the slow-moving story evolves as the real challenge sets in.
– Protecting Reed’s supporting performance, the ethereal and wistful romance doesn’t quite work in the handover but adds colour to an otherwise straightforward survivalist drama.

A flat 5 on the splingometer!

Moving on to a film now on Labia Home Screen…


At a Jewish funeral service with her parents, a college student runs into her sugar daddy.

Writer-Director: Emma Seligman

Stars: Rachel Sennott, Danny Deferrari and Fred Melamed

– Shiva Baby is one of those prickly comedy dramas that gathers so much social suspense that it feels like a thriller at times.
– Starring Rachel Sennott, this fresh-faced actor lives through her character in this coming-of-age drama as she struggles to keep her head above water in a social situation that gets progressively more uncomfortable.
– Immersing viewers in a Jewish community sitting Shiva, religious aspects are kept to a minimum with more of a focus on Danielle’s perplexed state of mind.
– A collection of recognisable family members come out of the woodwork, most overbearing in their attempts to redirect the promising young woman in terms of relationship status and career prospects.
– Filmed primarily at one location, Shiva Baby is designed to be character-driven, creating a claustrophobic atmosphere where prying eyes, awkward coincidences and faux pas are the currency.
– Often humorous, crafting some beautifully layered situational comedy, this is counterbalanced by intense drama as the film builds tension to breaking point with comic relief as the carrot.
– Dealing with a girl’s sexual awakening, there is an interesting tension between what her parents deem to be “experimenting” and her part-time job as a “babysitter” of men.
– So much happens and in such close proximity that its brisk 72 minute run time almost comes as a relief.

A solid 7 on the splingometer!

And finally a documentary on Netflix…


A documentary on the unrest in Ukraine as student demonstrations grew into a violent revolution.

Director: Evgeny Afineevsky

– Winter on Fire doesn’t deal with Putin specifically, but does allude to Russia’s attempts to retain political control over the nation.
– Much like Egypt’s The Square, this documentary covers the protests that began at a crucial meeting point known as Maidan and became a political stronghold as government forces attempt to disband the international news-making demonstration.
– Capturing epic footage of protester and police stand-offs, this comprehensive overview of the 2013 and 2014 protests gives a bird’s eye view of the situation.
– Starting with students anticipating their country’s admission into the European Union, things turn ugly as promises disintegrate.
– From violent clashes to on-the-ground character portraits, Winter on Fire is eye-opening, stirring and spirited in the way it relays the conviction of ordinary people who want freedom and a better future for their children.
– The film details critical turning points in the uprising, attempts to quash protests by the Berkut riot squad, moving from the protestor’s demands and challenges to their resilience and bravery.
– Watching this Oscar-nominated documentary, the Ukraine’s bold all-hands-on-deck response to the Russian invasion should come as little surprise.
– It’s a defiant and important reminder of the great lengths that people will strive to win freedom and seek independence.

An excellent 8 on the splingometer!

So just to wrap up…

AGAINST THE ICE… a powerful against-the-odds true story compels this uneven, slow-moving yet handsomely mounted and icy survivalist adventure drama… A flat 5!

SHIVA BABY… captivating performances and sharp writing generate prickly humour and claustrophobic suspense in this coming-of-age pressure cooker comedy drama… A solid 7!

WINTER ON FIRE: UKRAINE’S FIGHT FOR FREEDOM… vivid visuals and behind-the-scenes political drama compel this brave, characterful, eye-opening and stirring documentary… An excellent 8!

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!