Spling reviews Sodium Day, Queen & Slim and Old 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 comedy drama, a road trip crime drama and a mystery thriller.
Starting off with a film now on circuit…
A disruptive day in the life of a matric class at a Cape Flats school just weeks before final exams.
Writer-Director: Riaz Solker
Stars: Charlton George, Lucian Daniels and Ashlon Thomas
– Starting with a chemistry lab-inspired explosion, Sodium Day switches to its primary location of a classroom where Grade 12Y are introduced to a substitute teacher and learners from an exchange programme with a private school.
– Taken from Solker’s experiences as a student and a teacher, Sodium Day blends contemporary education system issues and nostalgic memories.
– Featuring many acting debutants, this ensemble drama is compelled by a sprawling cast, a multitude of characters and timely themes.
– While focused on the classroom, the dexterous cinematography keeps things on the move as the film touches on issues such as discipline, racism, gender-based violence, teenage pregnancy, alcoholism, a shortage of teachers and restless tensions between teachers and students.
– While Sodium Day cleverly weaves the education system’s failings into an authentic setting, it struggles with consistency when it comes to tone, performances and an underdeveloped screenplay.
– Shifting into a daydream mode, cutaways add dimension and distraction as an apparition, kung fu security guard and rap battle sequence contrast with the overarching vision.
– Sodium Day is timely, thematically rich and could be a powerful stage production.
– Unfortunately, it shows a great deal of potential, it’s undermined by inconsistency and the screenplay deserved more time in development.
– Operating on a modest budget, it’s commendable based on its constraints, resources and dedication, but could have left a much more powerful impression.
A flat 5 on the splingometer!
Moving on to a film now on Netflix…
QUEEN & SLIM
A couple’s first date takes an unexpected turn when a police officer pulls them over.
Director: Melina Matsoukas
Stars: Daniel Kaluuya, Jodie Turner-Smith and Bokeem Woodbine
– Queen & Slim is essentially an African-American take on Bonnie and Clyde with some powerful contrasts and takeaways.
– Tapping into the stigma surrounding discrimination within the police force in the trigger-happy United States, Queen & Slim offers a rich cross-section of life by way of an unscheduled road trip peeling back many layers of issues that persist today.
– Anchored by sizzling chemistry, a breakthrough for Turner-Smith and a sharp turn from Kaluuya – these terrific co-leads host an impassioned supporting cast, giving the film presence and personality.
– While social media, political narratives and a nationwide manhunt ensue, Queen & Slim focuses on the romance between the unlikely couple who are essentially thrown together after a bad Tinder date takes a turn and finds them on the run from the law.
– This is a stylish, beautifully photographed and emotionally resonant drama that embroiders its characterful dialogue with exquisite visual storytelling.
– Switching out cars and clothes, evading police, asking favours from old friends and engaging with colourful characters along the way, Queen & Slim pulsates even if the film is a tad overlong.
– Matsouka’s self-assured direction, vivid storytelling and compelling performances gather momentum and power as the story’s reflective qualities build to a heartbreaking yet momentous conclusion.
– Queen & Slim slim is a thoughtful, elegant and powerful film that has lasting impact value and the power to effect change.
An excellent 8 on the splingometer!
And finally a film on Showmax…
A vacationing family discovers that the secluded beach where they’re relaxing for a few hours is somehow causing them to age rapidly.
Writer-Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Stars: Gael García Bernal, Vicky Krieps and Rufus Sewell
– Old is based on the graphic novel “Sandcastle” by Frederik Peeters and Pierre Oscar Levy, which explores human nature and time by speeding up the ageing process in a scenario reminiscent of the TV series, Lost.
– M. Night Shyamalan is the visionary director behind films such as The Sixth Sense, Signs, The Village, Unbreakable and Split.
– What makes the filmmaker exciting is his ability to teeter on the edge, reeling in some of the biggest fish you’ll ever see… and even if some get away from him, you’re glad he tried!
– Time and disease is the killer in this fascinating social commentary as people try to escape the beach before it’s too late.
– Keeping a healthy tension as time marches on and more people die, suspense is created by the slow-burning mystery as quick-thinking and problem-solving becomes the order of the day.
– Shyamalan is a tightrope walker whose lofty and intriguing concept sees him faltering but not quite falling as some moments border on becoming spoof-worthy.
– Bolstered by a solid cast, beautiful natural vistas and a psychological horror thriller with some thought-provoking consequences, Old is an entertaining film that stirs up emotions through fast-forwarded life moments and keeps things perpetually off-balance as the beach’s inhabitants scramble to save themselves.
– It did just enough to get…
A solid 7 on the splingometer!
So just to wrap up…
SODIUM DAY… timely themes, thought-provoking issues, familiar characters and a sprawling cast entertain in this half-baked and uneven comedy drama… A flat 5!
QUEEN & SLIM… while a little long, this road trip romance crime drama is compelled by stylish cinematography, elegant direction, impassioned performances and weighty themes… An excellent 8!
OLD… a solid cast, tense atmosphere and intriguing themes around human nature and time spur this captivating, eerie and often unwieldy horror thriller… A solid 7!
For more movie reviews and previous Talking Movies podcasts visit splingmovies.com.
And remember, Don’t WING it, SPL!NG it!