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Talking Movies on Fine Music Radio with Film Critic Spling


Talking Movies is a film review programme on Fine Music Radio 101.3FM, a Cape Town-based community radio station. They strive to be 'Calm in the Chaos' with station presenters providing listeners with a selection of classical, jazz interspersed with regular talk segments. Based at the Artscape, Fine Music Radio has become a hub for arts and culture in the Mother City.

Talking Movies FMR

While the Talking Movies review show has been running for many years, Stephen "Spling' Aspeling has been the host and FMR's Resident Film Critic since 2013. During this time, the show has attracted a loyal audience of listeners, who get their weekly dose of movie reviews on a Friday morning at 8:15am with a repeat broadcast 24 hours later.

Using the SPL!NG-O-METER to rate films from a worthless 1 to a timeless 10, the Cape Town-born movie critic makes it his mission to review three films a week. Talking Movies follows a set review format, where the title is followed by the plot, director and stars before Spling launches into a review and a rating.

There's a reliable consistency to the programme... opening with "Welcome to Talking Movies, I'm Spling" as well as a brief line-up and closing with a capsule review summation "...and remember don't wing it, SPL!NG it". While Spling rarely gives a timeless 10 or even a worthless 1, listeners have come to trust his opinion when it comes to evaluating films.

Trying to pick movies that are more suited to Fine Music Radio's audience's tastes, Spling attempts to cover the whole gamut with a tendency to avoid piston-pumping action, popcorn horror and mindless animation. The are of course exceptions to this rule but it serves as a good guideline for those unfamiliar with the content.

An example of a recent Talking Movies episode

While Spling's reviews have primarily covered cinematic releases with a few rentals, the rise of streaming services such as Netflix, Showmax and Amazon Prime; as well as on demand viewing via Google Movies and Labia Home Screen, has led the movie critic to lean in this direction. Further compelled by the pandemic and health protocols, let's hope that as audiences return to theatres Spling will be able to cover more cinematic releases.

Talking Movies often features new releases to streaming, a platform that now regularly performs with numerous nominations over awards season. The window between cinema premieres and on-demand debuts is narrowing, however, don't be surprised to find older movie titles up for review. Spling's selection does tend towards what's fresh to streaming platforms but often includes topical documentaries and movies that didn't get a cinema release in South Africa.

Fast approaching 500 episodes of Talking Movies, Spling tries to keep each episode fresh and spontaneous. Offering insights and attempting to capture the essence of each film, Spling tries to deconstruct movies and entice listeners to watch them.

The show is pre-recorded, which means that Spling doesn't have to beat the morning traffic into town to make it in studio for the film review programme. Running just short of 6 minutes, Spling tries to condense his thoughts into a succinct manner. While the film critic would love to expand the show to include interviews excerpts with filmmakers, screenwriters and actors - Fine Music Radio is more suited to shorter format segments.

Spling loves sharing his thoughts on films via Talking Movies on Fine Music Radio and hopes to continue doing so well beyond 500... even 1000 episodes.