Spling reviews The Menu, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery and Together Together 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 dark comedy horror, a murder mystery caper and a coming-of-age comedy drama.
Starting off with a film now at the Labia Theatre…
A young couple travels to a remote island to eat at an exclusive restaurant where the chef has prepared a lavish menu, with some shocking surprises.
Director: Mark Mylod
Stars: Ralph Fiennes, Anya Taylor-Joy and Nicholas Hoult
The Menu is an elegant yet prickly dark comedy horror, which serves as a poetic and political allegory. While the stellar ensemble help sell the drama, it’s still difficult to be completely immersed in this harrowing scenario. Employing a concept that could have been derived from a Monty Python sketch, the seriousness of the event is what drives suspense, going beyond the point of ambiguity as the sophistication of a high-end dining experience takes on dire consequences. Using courses as markers, The Menu is a refreshingly bold cinematic expedition into the unknown, taking a high-pressure kitchen environment and the near-psychotic personality of a perfectionist chef to the next level. The concept could be likened to Saw, detaining people in a do-or-die situation to get victims to confront self-delusion and an ugly reality. As smart and provocative as it is, The Menu much like many fine dining experiences, is ironically exclusive and niche. The equivalent of a cat toying with its prey, the apparent lack of innocence and perceived vulnerability doesn’t leave much room for care or empathy when it comes to characterisation. Struggling to find an “in”, this dark comedy horror is impervious when it comes to emotional resonance, diminishing one’s overall engagement. The Menu carries thanks to a powerful scenario, emphatic performances and a fiendish appetite, but is stunted by its inability to put you in a seat at the table. Perhaps casting a more relatable actor, instead of leveraging a rising star, could have made all the difference. Still, the menu is edgy, tense and fresh.
A solid 7 on the splingometer!
Moving on to a movie now on Netflix…
GLASS ONION: A KNIVES OUT MYSTERY
Famed Southern detective Benoit Blanc travels to Greece for his latest case.
Writer-Director: Rian Johnson
Stars: Daniel Craig, Edward Norton and Kate Hudson
Glass Onion is the sequel to Knives Out, an ensemble murder mystery in the style of Clue. Set at an old mansion, belonging to a petty, dysfunctional and money-grabbing family trying to divvy up their esteemed father’s fortune, this sequel sets sail for an island owned by an eccentric tech tycoon in the shadow of Elon Musk. In both instances, the famous detective finds himself amid a cesspool of suspects, trying to root out the would-be murderer and the elusive truth. In keeping with the stellar ensemble of the first Knives Out mystery, the sequel engages the star power of Hudson, Norton and Bautista with an array of fun cameos. What the new cast lacks in acting calibre, the sequel makes up for with colour, leaning into its Beatles reference title with a sense of retro flamboyance. While no one breaks into song, Glass Onion’s retro chic gives it a playful air, poking fun at the genre with a wink-wink sensibility. While Blanc’s tweed jacket and take-charge attitude was more Sherlock Holmes in Knives Out, the character has undergone a reinvention to make him more style-conscious and observational in nature. Tending toward style over substance, Glass Onion offers upbeat escapist fun. Embracing its summer holiday spirit, this bubbly movie remains entertaining, ramping up to a cataclysmic finale that almost makes up for the superficial handling. While Blanc’s character has been remodeled and the sequel’s magpie affinity keeps things colourful and shiny, there’s still enough light-hearted fun, cast chemistry and entertainment value to power home.
A satisfactory 6 on the splingometer!
And finally a movie now on Showmax…
A young loner forms an unexpected relationship with a a single man in his 40s when she becomes his gestational surrogate.
Writer-Director: Nikole Beckwith
Stars: Patti Harrison, Ed Helms and Rosalind Chao
Together Together is a coming-of-age comedy drama about an unusual friendship between a single father-to-be and the surrogate carrying his child. Exploring the bounds of their friendship, almost 20 years his junior, Together Together has a bouncy offbeat charm. Compelled by indie spirit, the Woody Allen style opening credits set one’s expectations in terms of the film’s focus on dialogue and character. Subsequently distancing itself from Allen with a remark, Together Together attempts to capture the filmmaker’s quirk and indie charm without serving as an overt tribute. Helms and Harrison have good on-screen chemistry, effectively driving the comedy drama by buzzing through the adventures and trials of a surrogate pregnancy with their relationship growing in proportion to the bump. Dealing with the relational boundaries around such a personal yet professional service, the writers find a plethora of comedic situations as conflict gives way to friendship and hard-fought harmony. A quirky and tender comedy drama, well-balanced performances from a charming cast ground the story as offbeat comedy and curious relational dynamics keep things bubbling over.
A satisfactory 6 on the splingometer!
So just to wrap up…
THE MENU… while distant, a stellar cast anchor this edgy, elegant, provocative, suspenseful and political dark comedy horror… A solid 7!
GLASS ONION: A KNIVES OUT MYSTERY… a stellar, fun, colourful, entertaining and rather superficial murder mystery caper… A satisfactory 6!
TOGETHER TOGETHER… charming co-leads, good chemistry and quirk compel this offbeat indie comedy drama… A satisfactory 6!
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