THE POWER OF THE DOG (Netflix). Written and directed by Jane Campion, how many Oscars will this film win? Quite a lot I should think. In 1925, Benedict Cumberbatch is unexpectedly cast as a Montana rancher who resents his brother (Jesse Plemons) for marrying a widow (Kristen Dunst) with a teenage son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) and treats them both cruelly. The behavior is subtle, complicated, ambiguous, and leaves the audience free to form their own conclusions. Many people will want to see it twice. Ari Wegner’s photography (filmed in New Zealand) is beautiful.
THE GENTLE SAGITTARIUS (Studio Canal). 1952 British thriller about the Anglo-Irish debate, based on Roger MacDougall’s play. Realizing the futility of violence in 1941, IRA gunman John Mills rejects terrorism, drawing the wrath of the men who run the organization. Dirk Bogarde plays his younger brother. The famously cranky TV presenter Gilbert Harding plays his short-tempered self, playing everyone off-screen. Extras include hilarious performances by Matthew Sweet and Phoung Lee as two critics discussing the film.
RANCHO NOTORIOUS (BBC Iplayer). This is a 1952 Fritz Lang western. A tale of hate, murder and revenge with a fine ballad. A cowherd wants to kill the man who raped and murdered his fiancee. Despite the cheap studio sets and old-fashioned faux acting, there are still people who amazingly think this is one of the great Westerns. Arthur Kennedy and Mel Ferrer give boring and limited performances. Marlene Dietrich, the woman they love, is only convincing when she sings.
THE CONVERSATION (BBC Iplayer). 1974 Francis Ford Coppola thriller. A moral dilemma. A major film in the 1970s, precursor to the Watergate scandal and still relevant today. Gene Hackman, lonely, friendless, is a professional surveillance expert, the best wiretapper in the West. Hired to track down and take in a young couple, he becomes an accomplice to a murder and paranoid that his own privacy is being violated.
SUNFLOWERS (exhibit on screen). There is not one version, but five versions of Van Gogh’s painting in five cities: Amsterdam, Munich, London, Tokyo and Philadelphia. A touch of brilliant colour. It remains one of the most popular and instantly recognizable paintings in the world. Van Gogh considered these five works to be the most successful paintings he ever executed
DALGLIESH SERIES 1 (acorn). Poet Detective solves crimes in 1970s England. Three PD James novels to be adapted for television starring Bertie Carvell as Dalgleish – Shroud for a Nightingale, The Black Tower, A fondness for death. There is a group of nurses, handicapped, clergy and aristocrats, all potentially murderous. PD James, a smart writer, gives her fans what they want.
WATCH MOVIES AT HOME: Robert Tanitch reviews 6 movies.
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