Welcome to Spling Movies

Welcome to Spling Movies

Facebook  Twitter

Newsletter (Monthly)



Banner

Spling Polls

Best overall cinema experience?
 
Custom Search
Talking Movies with Spling - Detroit, Krotoa and The Sense of an Ending


Spling reviews Detroit, Krotoa and The Sense of an Ending as broadcast on Talking Movies, Fine Music Radio. Catch Talking Movies on Fridays at 8:20am and Saturdays at 8:15am every week on Fine Music Radio.

 
Movie Review: Krotoa


One of the most written about women in South African history, Krotoa has become the subject of a documentary, a play, a poem and now a film by Roberta Durrant. Krotoa is a South African historical drama based on a young Khoi woman, who was removed from her tribe to serve Jan van Riebeeck and assimilate the Dutch language and culture in the mid 17th century. Based on historical facts, the screenwriters have essentially adapted and dramatised a historical overview of the influential interpreter and mediator, who experienced many challenges adapting to life between the Goringhaicona tribe and the household of the first Governor of the Cape Colony.

Largely ignored for more than two centuries, scholars now regard Krotoa (also known as Eva) as a woman who shows a universality in terms of her treatment under the colonial system worldwide. The renewed interest in her story, an international focus on race relations and a resurgence in female-led films made this seem like the perfect time for this drama biopic to emerge. While important and underwritten by good intentions, Krotoa struggles to leverage powerful themes and compel itself as a drama. Laden with contentious topics such as colonialism, culture, environment, gender, politics, race, rape... you'd expect a powder keg of a drama. Yet, the film-makers have opted for a safer journey, extrapolating a history lesson in the form of a docile character portrait.

The film's stellar cast includes: Crystal-Donna Roberts as Krotoa, Armand Aucamp as Jan van Riebeeck, Roeline Daneel as Maria van Riebeeck, Brendon Daniels as Autshumato, Jacques Bessenger as Pieter Van Meerhof, Marcel van Heerden as Wagenaar and Deon Lotz as Roelof de Man. Roberts gives an earnest and impassioned performance that sets the tone for the rest of the talented ensemble, who chime in with a sense of trepidation or uncertainty.

While fictional, this paradise turned imperial conquest has been criticised for its simplistic representation of the Khoi people. Much like any historical recreation, the onus is on the film-makers to endeavour to capture an accurate and respectable representation of people, places and events. While "based on historical facts" gives some creative freedom, it doesn't necessarily guarantee documentary realism or nuance. Durrant's made a concerted effort to effect an authentic picture of the Cape of Good Hope during this time. Shooting on-location, using naked landscapes and natural lighting, she's maintained a lush feeling and a pioneering spirit. Shells, beads and traditional animal hide garments juxtapose against the jauntier fabrics and hats of the Dutch, giving Krotoa a diverse pageantry. There's a valiant attempt to use the traditional dialect of the Khoisan, while the Dutch contingent speak a modernised version of Afrikaans.

Krotoa

"..."

The culture clash, sweeping landscapes, arrival of horses and wide-brimmed hats give Krotoa a Western vibration. While at first, the regal dress sense and pomp give it a camp quality, this mostly dissipates as Krotoa becomes more accustomed to the foreign culture. While this low budget film stands firm, its lack of depth makes it comparable with Dr Quinn: Medicine Woman for quality when it was probably aspiring for the pensive grandeur of a film like Silence. A lack of perceived character development, tension and nuance make it dramatically inert against some beautifully photographed visuals. With little camera movement, the film stagnates even further, dramatising chapters from Krotoa's "cursed" life as if transposing oil paintings.

There's such a keen awareness around capturing authentic visuals that the storytelling and subtext becomes secondary, an afterthought obscured by contrivances. This element is best exhibited by the choice to re-enact a famous Charles Davidson Bell painting of van Riebeeck's arrival. It's further evidenced as a commander comes to the rescue from nowhere, a woman interrupts a conversation as if eavesdropping and a companion happens to be a doctor. This is to the detriment of the dramatic sensibility, struggling to realise the dormant power of scenes and giving Krotoa a stale air. Without much nuance, it becomes a simplistic and dull retelling - diffused by earnest performances from a solid cast and an eclectic, magical and indigenous soundtrack.

It's encouraging to see this chapter of South African history inspiring film-makers and there's so much thematic material, it could easily warrant a TV series. Krotoa demonstrates, much like a pilot, that there's scope for this story to be adapted for television. Taking this angle would allow more time to explore Krotoa's unique experiences in more biographical detail, give the writers room to explore the ethics, morality and multitude of curious characters on both sides, and even siphon more thematic staying power from the historical retrospective.

Durrant's ambitious undertaking shows great potential, but with so many moving parts, there's only so much you can roll into one film. Krotoa features a solid cast, earnest performances, sweeping landscapes, rich historical detail, an eclectic soundtrack, poetic sentiment and the story remains important as ever. Unfortunately, it struggles to entrench the illusion - lacking nuance, story focus, an immersive environment, compelling characters and heartfelt drama.

The bottom line: Dormant

 
Movie Review: The Hitman's Bodyguard


The Hitman's Bodyguard is a buddy movie from Patrick Hughes, the director who brought us Red Hill and The Expendables 3. Loosely based on the same dynamic as Midnight Run, we are quickly introduced to prolific hitman, Darius Kincaid, who is paired with an elite bodyguard, Michael Bryce, commissioned to get his new client to a trial at the International Court of Justice. Fresh from Deadpool, Ryan Reynolds has repositioned his star alongside the action genre, allowing him to headline a hard actioner opposite screen veteran and Tarantino regular, Samuel L. Jackson.

While their chemistry is far from magical, their constant bickering and one-upmanship forms the core of the film's intrinsic entertainment value. Trading on these two established stars, The Hitman's Bodyguard leverages much of their trademark style with a smooth-talking Reynolds and a straight-talking Jackson. While it's the sort of movie terrain you'd expect to see Jackie Chan flexing his mix of martial arts and incredible stunt work in, we are relegated to watching two big shots mouth off. To their credit, Reynolds and Jackson tap into previous roles to add texture, trying to inject charm and spruce up some pretty generic and egotistical characters.

While it aims to get by on action and comedy, the tone is rickety and the comedy isn't polished, leaving a lot of responsibility on the action component. The Hitman's Bodyguard's biggest challenge is its struggle to determine whether it's a tongue-in-cheek or dead serious action film. The intense violence and strong use of language is frequent enough to suggest we are bearing witness to a fierce action movie, yet the situational comedy, flippant attitude, constant tussling and silly scenarios say otherwise. As a result, it's difficult to get in on the joke or feel the full weight of the suspense, making this a mixed bag in terms of entertainment value.

"Say Double Team 2 again. We double dare ya."

We coast on the star quality of the co-leads and supporting character actors, Gary Oldman and Salma Hayek. Oldman is okay as a hellbent Eastern European war criminal in Vladislav Dukhovich while Hayek gets tough (and kinda icky) as the no-nonsense Sonia. Reynolds is Mr. Wisecrack again, while Jackson covers his age well with a little help from a bullet. While almost any movie would be lucky to have this ensemble, it just feels lacklustre with each of the stars delivering average performances. Perhaps the film's generic quality lent itself to middling performances, yet despite their attempts to engender passion and genuine sparkle – it just falls flat. The egomania parade makes it difficult to identify with the characters, making it a fairly alienating series of stand-offs.

The Hitman's Bodyguard is a competently filmed actioner, yet struggles to justify the inclusion of its stellar cast. The seesawing tone leaves the film dangling in an uncomfortable middle ground and diminishes the overall impact. The snarky characters are softened by the actors, but are ultimately difficult to get behind. The frequent violence and bad language isn't justified, cheapening the final product and offsetting the comedy. Then, the film is generic and struggles to distinguish itself from a slew of better action comedy buddy movies... making it more of the same.

The bottom line: Forgettable

 
Talking Movies with Spling - Below Her Mouth, Wonder Woman and The Hollars


Spling reviews Below Her Mouth, Wonder Woman and The Hollars as broadcast on Talking Movies, Fine Music Radio. Catch Talking Movies on Fridays at 8:20am and Saturdays at 8:15am every week on Fine Music Radio.

 
<< Start < Prev 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Next > End >>

Page 1 of 277