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Talking Movies with Spling - Sing Street, Bastille Day and Elsa & Fred

Spling reviews Sing Street, Bastille Day and Elsa & Fred 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.

Top Ten Movies with... Deep Fried Man

Deep Fried Man or Daniel Friedman is a South African musical comedian and writer, who has made a name for himself with his clever, quirky, unique and somewhat controversial blend of comedy, music and satire. He derived his stage name as a play on his real name, saying he wanted to perform an "unhealthy" kind of musical comedy.

Friedman studied journalism, philosophy and drama at Rhodes University and went on to complete a PGCE at Wits University. After university, he worked in journalism and social media, performing alternative folk music in Johannesburg prior to becoming a comedian. His big comedy break came when he won the 2010 Comedy Showdown, which enabled him to perform with top local and international comedians at the UN Comedy Show.

Winning Best Newcomer at the South African Comic's Choice Awards in 2011, Deep Fried Man went on to perform in comedy shows such as the Heavyweight Comedy Jam, The Jozi Comedy Festival, The Nandos Comedy Jozi Fest, Loads of Laughs, 46664's It's No Joke, Jew Must Be Joking and Blacks Only, featuring as a supporting act for Trevor Noah's Scratch That. His debut one-man show, Deeply Fried, won a Standard Bank Ovation Award. Friedman went on to write and perform the more satirical, White Whine, and most recently In Good Taste (27/28 May - The Lyric, Gold Reef City, book tickets).

Friedman had a cameo in the comedy drama, Material, and has had numerous TV appearances including: Mzansi Magic's LOL and Opening Guys, M-Net's Tonight with Trevor Noah, SABC 2's Morning Live, SABC 3's Last Say on Sunday and eNCA's Emmy award-winning weekly satirical new show, Late Nite News with Loyiso Gola. He was named as one of Mail & Guardian's Top 200 Young South Africans in the Arts & Culture category.

As a writer, Friedman writes for the Daily Maverick and Memeburn. He's also Internet famous, having developed a loyal Twitter, Facebook and YouTube following with highlights such as: co-creating An Idiot's Guide to the South African National Anthem with Gareth Woods, interviewing Julius Malema for MTV Base and getting Helen Zille to trend worldwide on Twitter. It's clear, Deep Fried Man is a prolific comedian and we were lucky enough to get his Top Ten Movies interview...

"Jack and Jill is an experience that has scarred me for life."

I can't watch movies without...

- My wife. She holds my hand when it gets scary.

Which famous people share your birthday?

- Haha, I had to do some serious Googling. I share a birthday with Led Zeppelin guitar legend Jimmy Page, Kate Middleton, the late Richard Nixon (one of the most hated US Presidents) and my personal favourite, AJ from the Backstreet Boys. (9 January)

What is the first film you remember watching?

- Probably a Disney cartoon. Aladdin or Beauty and the Beast?

What's the worst movie you've ever seen?

- I find bad movies very entertaining. I once watched a film called Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. I’ve also seen Plan 9 from Outer Space by Ed Wood, considered by many to be the worst director of all time. And Troll 2 is the most hilarious bad movie I’ve seen. But those are all so bad they’re good. Trying to watch Adam Sandler’s Jack and Jill is an experience that has scarred me for life.

Which movies have made you tearful?

- I shouldn’t admit this but I cry in movies pretty easily. So there are many, but nothing can compare to the scene in The Lion King when Mufasa dies. I’m getting all teary right now just thinking about it.

Who is the most famous movie star you've ever met?

- Does Leon Schuster count?

What's your favourite movie line?

- “He’s not the messiah! He’s a very naughty boy!” ~ The Life of Brian

Who would you choose to play you in your biopic?

- Although I may be flattering myself I want to say my favourite actor Johnny Depp, although he’s a bit too old at this point. And he’d have to put on quite a bit of weight.

If you could produce a movie, what would it be about?

- I have lots of movie ideas. I’m not much of a starter, or a finisher for that matter, but I have some ideas. I think a zombie movie set in South Africa and satirizing our fear and obsession with security would be great.

Finally, your top ten movies of all-time...

- Casablanca ...it’s unbelievable how many quotes and sayings come from this movie. And it still looks good and has barely dated.

- Goodfellas ...just the ultimate Scorsese movie. And the ultimate gangster movie. All his films are great but none come close to this.

- The Breakfast Club ...this just blew me away when I saw it though I was a young hormonal teenager at the time. Not sure if I’d still like it now. Probably the ultimate '80s film.

- The Life of Brian ...I am a huge Monty Python fan and I know the film by heart.

- The 12 Tasks of Asterix ...I used to watch this over and over again as a child. Not sure if it is any good but I have to put it on for the nostalgia value.

- Pulp Fiction ...if you’re my age there’s no way this film didn’t help define your teenage years.

- This is Spinal Tap ...I love mockumentaries and this was one of the originals and best.

- Man on Wire ...I also love documentaries and this is one that stands out for me.

- Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb ...a classic and one of the best satirical anti-war films ever.

- Shaun of the Dead ...Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are the best comedy-making team of the past decade or so and this was their first and possibly their best.

Top Ten Movies with... is a people series on SPL!NG, featuring a host of celebrities ranging from up-and-coming to established personalities from all industries including, but not limited to: Internet, Radio, TV, Film, Music, Art and Entrepreneurs. It's a chance to discover who they are, find out where they're at and to get a fun inside look at their taste in movies.

Movie Review: Sing Street

Sing Street is the third film from the passionate and prolific John Carney, and he makes it difficult not to notice with his name appearing again and again in the opening credits. All three of his films have been coming-of-age dramas that infuse music and romance, using a central romantic relationship to drive the characters and catchy music to reinforce the heart of the story.

Once, his first film, was a low-budget love affair between a vacuum cleaner turned busker and a immigrant pianist. The likable characters and soulful music lifted the music romance drama, which could have easily been an advert for the amazing soundtrack. Then, Begin Again, saw Carney move from Europe to America… more specifically New York, using the heartfelt tone of Once and stars like Mark Ruffalo and Keira Knightley to create a Hollywood version.

Sing Street sees him return to Europe, going back in time to Ireland in the mid-1980s, scaling back on Hollywood names to deliver a music romance drama that blends elements from his first two films. You could describe it as Spud, if young John Milton formed an '80s rock band with the Crazy Eights. We journey with Connor, a fifteen-year-old Irish kid, whose family have fallen on tough times with his parents on the brink of separation. Moving to a rough Catholic school, he puts his personal problems aside after persuading a beautiful girl to star in his band's music video.

The characters are compelling and their optimism against the odds is refreshing as they make a go of it despite feeling like everything is against them. Other than Game of Thrones's Aidan Gillen as Connor's father, Robert, in a small supporting performance, it's an unknown cast.

"The wild boys never left town."

Ferdia Walsh-Peelo is reminiscent of young Troye Sivan, who took on the role of John "Spud" Milton. He is naive and vulnerable, yet harbours a growing defiance and tenacity, which feeds on small acts of confidence. As the bandleader, he musters his troops one by one and turns them into a nerdy gang of musos, who demand respect with style and street cred.

Beyond the band of underdogs, Walsh-Peelo pushes off his stoner dropout brother, Brendan, played by Jack Reynor in a role similar to Jack Black in School of Rock. His grunge stylings and vast musical knowledge helps define Connor as he advises and guides his little brother. Reynor oozes cool as a defiant, misunderstood yet surprisingly wise substitute father figure. Walsh-Peelo also shares some terrific on-screen chemistry with Lucy Boynton as Raphina, who makes a stunningly beautiful and enigmatic muse for Connor.

Set in the '80s, Sing Street is partly a tribute to the pop music of the decade which come to be major influences for his "futurist band". Watching Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet music videos and taking a special interest in The Cure, he and his ragtag bunch of misfits seek to create art. After some amusing fashion, make-up transitions and some camp home music video creations that would make Flight of the Conchords look good, they progress to making some catchy and heartfelt numbers of their own.

The tone is naive, ambitious and optimistic, yet "happy-sad". Carney makes the film more about the feelgood, however there is also a social commentary at play. The backdrop is similar to the sitcom Moone Boy, finding our protagonist in a hard-pressed economy and attending a school where the socio-economic pressures have a direct bearing on the children. Coming from abusive homes and entering an ill-disciplined education system, Connor is faced with bullying from students and an unstable Brother acting as headmaster and chief disciplinarian.

Sing Street is a joy to watch. While it traverses some harsh terrain in terms of drama, it's affinity with Back to the Future, keeps it infectiously upbeat and heartfelt as a comedy, while the '80s music tribute and solid original songs fill in the gaps. It's an uplifting coming-of-age ode to following your dreams with some star-making performances, and powered home by John Carney's insightful writing and intuitive direction.

The bottom line: Winning

Talking Movies with Spling - The Man Who Knew Infinity, Irrational Man and Sinister 2

Spling reviews The Man Who Knew Infinity, Irrational Man and Sinister 2 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.

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