Spling reviews The Bombardment, Don’t Tell a Soul and Welcome to Marwen 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 war drama, a crime drama thriller and a biographical comedy drama.
Starting off with a film now on Netflix…
The fates of several Copenhagen residents collide when a WWII bombing mission accidentally targets a school.
Writer-Director: Ole Bornedal
Stars: Alex Høgh Andersen, Fanny Bornedal and Bertram Bisgaard Enevoldsen
– The Bombardment is a beautifully realised film of authenticity, mood and powerful emotion and a harrowing chronicle of a tragic moment in Denmark’s history.
– The film captures the sights and sounds of this World War II incident from an unconventional perspective, shedding light on a tragic event with emotive power and raw violence.
– The mood mirrors many other dreary war dramas, playing it quite safe in terms of visuals and adopting an equally typical score to harness emotion.
– Bornedal has a great eye for visual poetry and while this adds panache, it can be quite heavy-handed at times.
– The visual effects are mostly perfunctory, sometimes coming across like paintings of Copenhagen buildings, while the actual bombing operation is horrific as delayed fuse bombs do untold damage.
– The characters are thin, tending to focus on the action like a disaster movie and it loses some of its immediacy and emotional traction by keeping the audience on the fringe.
– Coming in to land, it wavers in terms of pacing and consistency, ending on a flourish.
– It’s still a handsomely mounted production, worthy of your time, but fails to land a gut punch in its retelling of a tragic historical event.
– As with many war films, The Bombardment is not for sensitive viewers, grappling with difficult subject matter in a much more overt manner than Life is Beautiful.
– The Bombardment’s dramatisation brings this stomach-twisting reality to screen, made all the more real by a list of the fallen preceding the closing credits.
A satisfactory 6 on the splingometer!
Moving on to a film now on Showmax…
DON’T TELL A SOUL
Two thieving teenage brothers, stealing money to help their sick mom, match wits with a troubled security guard stuck at the bottom of a forgotten well.
Writer-Director: Alex McAulay
Stars: Jack Dylan Grazer, Fionn Whitehead and Rainn Wilson
– Don’t Tell a Soul is a gritty crime thriller and human drama that centres on the unlikely friendship turned kinship between a kid and a security guard.
– The film’s indie spirit keeps it unpredictable and edgy, reminiscent of other crime thrillers of its ilk such as American Animals and Run.
– An entertaining caper full of twists and turns, Don’t Tell a Soul weaves a compelling character-driven story that could have worked well as a stage play.
– Mining the characters and leveraging the see-sawing morality, the gutsy performances lean into the sometimes prickly drama and dark comedy.
– Adopting a sullen mood, a bleak outlook and a somber colour palette, reminiscent of Ben Affleck’s stylistic choices, this helps downplay the comedy and anchor the drama.
– Centring on the charming Grazer as the impressionable and good-natured Joey, makes it easier to tolerate the less savoury and manipulative characters around him.
– It’s fearless in pursuing its vision, as echoed in the sentiment of the actors, most of whom break type with confidence and passion.
– Wilson fulfils a sharp casting decision, Whitehead is untamed and Suvari is almost unrecognisable.
– While full-bodied and captivating, the prickly vibrations do threaten to derail and some of the story’s twists are overwrought, limiting full engagement.
A satisfactory 6 on the splingometer!
And finally a movie now on Showmax…
WELCOME TO MARWEN
A victim of a brutal attack finds a unique and beautiful therapeutic outlet to help him through his recovery process.
Writer-Director: Robert Zemeckis
Stars: Steve Carell, Leslie Mann and Diane Kruger
– Welcome to Marwen is based on the life of photographer, Mark Hogancamp, who crafted provocative imagery depicting war scenes using figurines against backdrops of a fictional Belgian town.
– Balancing machine gun fire with black stilettos, this fascinating biopic was entrusted to filmmaker Robert Zemeckis and Steve Carell, who combine their strengths in the hopes of delivering something magical and unforgettable.
– Trying to balance animation and live-action will always be an ambitious undertaking, especially when given equal weighting.
– Bringing the figurines to life and switching back to reality, the interchanges are actually relatively smooth and the visual effects are quite brilliant.
– However, the uneven tone and overly ambitious attempts to bridge both worlds do present a number of challenges.
– Dialing back to the ’80s in terms of outlook, the dated feel of G.I. Joe meets Barbie conjures up some awkward nostalgia, however authentic to the original story.
– Trying to broach the topics of over-medicated America debate, war veteran PTSD, severe prejudice and right-wing ideology against the comfort of artful escapism as a coping mechanism, there are just too many moving parts to keep oiled.
– There’s rarely a dull moment in this colourful, eye-popping and expensive attempt to throw a tarp over a larger-than-life story, yet its limited by a lack of consistency and its scattershot focus when it comes to excavating deeper themes – tending towards lighthearted entertainment over soul-searching substance.
A flat 5 on the splingometer!
So just to wrap up…
THE BOMBARDMENT… while thin and distant, this war disaster drama remains an authentic, moody, powerful and vivid recreation of an ill-fated World War II operation… A satisfactory 6!
DON’T TELL A SOUL… while overwrought and prickly at times, solid performances and substantial themes compel this entertaining, moody and twisty crime caper… A satisfactory 6!
WELCOME TO MARWEN… a curious true story, eye-popping visuals and a solid lead struggle to nail down a scattershot, over-ambitious, outdated and lightweight screenplay… A flat 5!
For more movie reviews and previous Talking Movies podcasts visit splingmovies.com.
And remember, Don’t WING it, SPL!NG it!