Spling reviews Spotlight, The Choice and Kidnapping Freddy Heineken 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.
(* “You never know what is enough unless you know what is more than enough.” – William Blake. But please note that hedonism, like Satantango and Long Beach Craft Beer is for adults only.)
Let’s pick up from where we left off in T.C.O.B.#7… Satantango is the story of a swindle. Eight people decide to abandon their decaying community, taking everything of value with them. At first they attempt to cheat one another out of their shares. Then, having discovered one another’s scheming, they agree to collaborate, only to be collectively swindled by an enigmatic outsider called Irimias.
Director Bela Tarr strove for visual eloquence in every shot. So, even though the film’s original language is Hungarian, it is possible for non-speakers (i.e. just about anyone) to follow the story just by observing the pictures while keeping the synopsis I gave above in mind. Of course, you could get hold of a subtitled version to ensure you don’t lose the plot or in case you wish to explore one or more of Satantango’s beguiling side-roads.
To observe the pictures makes sense when you watch any film. In the case of Satantango, that is something that is also very easy to do. I said that the director sought visual eloquence. What he achieved is… I won’t call it beautiful because beauty is far too difficult to define… but it is simple and clear. Not a single shot is cluttered. Not a single shot is superfluous.
Furthermore, you are given ample time to observe. Nearly all the shots last a minute or more – some for more than three minutes. This particular idiosyncrasy of Bela Tarr’s visual language is responsible for Satantango’s 7-hour running time. But no one says you have to watch it all at once. The film consists of three parts, each of roughly feature film length. You could watch it over three nights. Or, as the parts are themselves divided into episodes, twelve in total, each between 30 and 40 minutes, you could watch it like a daily soap-opera.
Whatever method of observation you choose, you will be surprised at how easily you are drawn out of your corporeal reality and into that of the Satantango. For me it’s an intoxicating experience that I’ve repeated several times. And unlike the one that results from going to a film like Mad Max 3 (see T.C.O.B.#1 ), where your senses are blitzed by sound, colour and motion, you leave your body but remain lucid.
So, the decay mentioned as a sociological concept in the synopsis turns into the unravelling and rain-sodden clothes of the Satantango’s protagonists, the muddy street of their village, the crumbling masonry of their homes. The alcohol, on which T.C.O.B.#6 and T.C.O.B.#7 waxed lyrical, transubstantiates from spirit to flesh disposed for good as for evil or merely for stultification…
It would be pointless to name the actors here. They are remarkable talents but mostly unknown outside of the Hungarian public – and not exactly celebrities within that public. Nonetheless, whoever observes the Satantango will quickly become as familiar with them, their expressions, movements and drinking habits, as the masses are familiar with the stars of soap-operas. I’m not suggesting that the proximity is always pleasant. But, after seven hours, you get something which soap opera followers are cheated out of forever: a satisfying conclusion.
The conclusion to Satantango is death. It may sound dismal, even to the indomitable, Long-Beach-craft-beer-drinking Capetowner. But, in the context of the out-of-body experience alluded to above, it is quite literally invigorating. Arguably, it is the most rewarding moment in the film. For then it becomes clear that everything that has gone before – the swindle, the drunkenness, the decay… all the seven-hour Satantango(or your observation thereof) – was an overcoming of the despair caused by the certainty of death. It’s a moment filled with light, just after the screen turns black.
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Spotlight is a biographical and historical drama turned thriller about the Boston Globe's "Spotlight", a team of investigative reporters who tackled alleged child abuse in the Catholic Church in Boston, exposing a religious, legal and governmental scandal that send shock waves across the world in early 2002. The Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage opened the issue of sexual abuse within the Church, drawing attention from the Church hierarchy, law enforcement, government and media agencies.
Spotlight follows almost ten years after acclaimed documentary, Deliver Us from Evil, from film-maker Amy Berg, who examined the case of convicted pedophile, Oliver O'Grady. While set in Boston and dramatised much like newspaper conspiracy All the President's Men, both films address the same issue. Deliver Us from Evil has a special focus on one man's sexual crimes, while Spotlight takes a broader citywide perspective.
The Spotlight team consists of: Mark Ruffalo as Mike Rezendes, Michael Keaton as Walter 'Robby' Robinson, Rachel McAdams as Scaha Pfeiffer and Brian d'Arcy James as Matt Carroll. Ruffalo played a similar role in The Normal Heart, throwing himself into yet another passionate causes performance that sees him embrace every aspect of his character. Keaton is the boss, conveying quiet authority in the wake of Birdman, while McAdams and d'Arcy round off a solid team. The ensemble is bolstered further by the presence of an understated Liev Schreiber, no-nonsense John Slattery and dedicated Stanley Tucci.
"Did I mention we're on speakerphone?"
The performances ground Spotlight and do justice to a well-balanced script, which let's the true story speak for itself. We encounter real people with heart-breaking stories that reveal a slice of the tragedy at play, while for the most part, the priests are kept at a distance, reduced to names and dates. It's the establishments that are targeted in Spotlight, and those that would wish to cover-up the scandal in order to profit or cast a blind eye.
While the outcome is public knowledge, the underlying tension of the search-and-discovery is leveraged to great effect, drawing us into the depths of the story. In our fast-paced, media-soaked world, the newspaper's sense of integrity becomes such an inspiration as the investigative journalists pursue the truth with such voracity. Spotlight exposes the darkness without being consumed by the despair, simultaneously restoring hope in humanity by showing the commitment, patience and virtues of a news team with a difference.
Writer-director Tom McCarthy, best known for The Visitor and Win Win, gives us a deft, human and harrowing look into this time. The subject matter is monumental, recalling the newsroom tone and gravity of All the President's Men. McCarthy's crafted Spotlight in such an honest and matter-of-fact way without caving into cliches of the news agency detective genre.
It's a heartbreaking and eye-opening journey that treats its audience and subjects with great respect, making the integrity of its story an unflinching priority. The subtle film-making keeps it immediate, within touching distance, and the range of honest performances lock us into a troubled Boston in some of the most devastating months in U.S. history.
Tom Marais is a diligent, humble and talented award-winning South African cinematographer and entrepreneur. Tom brings his unique creative vision and immense talent to every project and is able to adapt to the format as a visual storyteller.
An AFDA graduate and member of the South African Society of Cinematographers, Marais has trail-blazed his way across the local film industry with a series of beautifully crafted feature films, such as: Ballade vir 'n Enkeling, Hard To Get, iNumber Number and Roepman. The prolific cinematographer has a wealth of experience and already has three feature films scheduled for release this year, including: Free State, Hatchet Hour and My Father's War.
Tom has also filmed top television dramas, including: Soul City, Home Affairs, Intersexions and Jacob’s Cross. His commercial work includes clients such as: MTN, DSTV, VUZU, FNB, Nashua Mobile and Kilimanjaro Premium Lager, among many others. He was also one of the early collaborators to shoot music videos for South African musicians such as Lebo M, Skwatta Kamp and Klopjag.
Marais is a regular contender at the SAFTAs, having won two Golden Horns and numerous accolades at Kyknet's Silverskerm Festival, SASC Visual Spectrum and AFDA's alumni. A world class talent, it seems like only a matter of time before Marais breaks into the international film scene. We managed to catch up with him to find out, which films inspire him and discover his Top Ten Movies.
"It's like watching an Indiana Jones film, set in space." [on Star Trek]
I can't watch movies without...
- Good sound and good images! Quality is extremely important to me, and I'm not referring to the latest and greatest gimmicky digital enhancements, but the way I believe the filmmaker intended for me to enjoy it.
Which famous people share your birthday?
- I am very proud to share my birthday with the one-and-only Mr. Jack Black! And one of my favourite and much appreciated film directors David Fincher was also born on the 28th of August. Also I am very lucky to share my birthday with a talented local beauty, actress Donnalee Roberts. [28 Aug]
What is the first film you remember watching?
- I can remember a trip to the Sterland in Pretoria to watch the movie E.T. by Steven Spielberg and I loved it so much that my Aunt Salie decided to spoil me with an actual E.T. doll!! Which I still have by the way!
What's the worst movie you've ever seen?
- No doubt: The Holy Mountain. Sad to say I got it from a close filmmaker friend and still not sure if it was a prank or not, but it is a holy load of s**t!
Which movies have made you tearful?
- Any blêrrie Pixar movie, the last one was Inside Out, I cried about 3 times! They are brilliant story-telling experiences!
Who is the most famous movie star you've ever met?
- Locally? Let’s just go with one of the most starstruck moments in my career. I guess that would be when I met Ian Roberts on the Bakgat! film set. I was a huge fan of the SABC '80s TV show, Arende, in which Ian played the infamous character Sloet Steenkamp as I was growing up, so that was a big one.
What's your favourite movie line?
- I have never been very good at remembering movie lines, or lyrics or people's names unfortunately.
Who would you choose to play you in your biopic?
- Chris Pratt! Because... I guess I like his sense of humor, and I wish I had hair like his!
If you could produce a movie, what would it be about?
- The list of ideas is way too long. It would definitely be a popcorn movie, involving some kind of crazy adventure romance set somewhere in our beautiful South Africa.
Finally, your top ten movies of all-time...
Ten is obviously only scratching the surface, so I will revert to my "I Would Watch These Movies Anytime" list for inspiration. These are my top 10 movies I can watch no matter what mood I am in and no matter how many times I have seen it.
And now in no particular order...
- Back to the Future ...is such an interesting phenomenon. It's a film we all grew up with, enjoyed as children and now as an adult I watch it and I just marvel at the perfect execution of such an original story. In my opinion, the perfect movie! Robert Zemeckis is a genius and I watch all of his work. He's one of the few masters that really understand the art of telling a story through pase and camera movement, when to cut and when not to. When he builds tension, no matter who you are, you are sitting on the edge of your seat.
- Fight Club ...I think I watched this film about 7 times on the big screen, I was at film school and it melted my brain! I loved the cinematography and I guess just about everything else in that movie... crazy perfection!
- The Big Lebowski ...need I say more than "I'll take it away from you, stick it up your ass and pull the f**king trigger 'til it goes 'click'"? (laughs) I am a big Coen brothers fan, and love Roger Deakins who shot most of their films. This is my favorite comedy.
- Drive ...talk about how the score and cinematography can be in perfect harmony... tell a story without the aid of unnecessary dialogue. A masterpiece!
- The Incredibles ...can’t wait to watch this movie with my children over and over and over again. Too much fun.
- Princess Mononoke ...I guess this is my idea of the perfect fairy tale. Such a beautiful story, layered with real-life situations, under the veil of fantasy.
- There Will Be Blood ...probably the closest I'll get to ever watching an opera. I've never been so conflicted about loving and hating a main character like this, all at once. Loved the art direction and cinematography.
- True Grit ...my favourite Western, by my favourite cinematographer. It's also not a typical Coen brothers story line, but I loved how plain and simple the story is and just how beautifully it was executed.
- Star Trek ...I’m a really big sci-fi fan and this is one of my favourites. I wish there were more movies like these. It's like watching an Indiana Jones film, set in space. Also love the dynamic energy and I'll watch anything with Eric Bana in it.
- In the Mood for Love ...I think this is the first movie that made me consciously aware of how beautiful images can influence your mood and tell a love story, very creatively. This movie is the epitome of visual poetry to me.
Honourable mentions: Fifth Element, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, The Matrix, Amelie, Avatar, Contact, Fargo, Pulp Fiction, Se7en and Stoker.
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.