Time for streaming roulette, a hodgepodge of recommendations and points of interest from newly available titles around the various services. The images are chosen by randomly moving the scrollbar around. Whatever we land on we share. Let’s start with a mini-review of Amazon’s My Policeman…
There he was. I recognized him even from behind. That fine head. The unmistakable line of his shoulder.
My Policeman (2022) Amazon Prime
Acclaimed stage director Michael Grandage hasn’t had a warm reception in cinema. His feature debut Genius (2016), a biopic of the influential literary editor Max Perkins (Colin Firth) was critically dismissed. His sophomore effort is much improved, but has sadly been met with even harsher reviews. We can’t really counter the typical criticisms it’s been hit with though. It’s true that the drama is too muted / stiff and the flashback structure is clumsy. Harry Styles is surely the root of the critical drubbing. He just isn’t up to the dramatic task of playing such an internal character. The titular policeman is the kind of protagonist that can’t remotely articulate or show what he’s feeling but really needs to be visibly feeling it for the audience anyway both in terms of his relationship to his girlfriend Marion (Gina McKee/Emma Corrin), and his friend/lover Patrick (Rupert Everett/David Dawson). Without the clarity of someone gifted at conveying interiority (i.e. many accomplished / trained actors) the contours and precise angles of the drama are blurry. It’s a textbook case of the problems that arise with stunt casting.
That said My Policeman has some good moments mostly courtesy of Corrin and Dawson. Freya Mavor is also a sharp treat in a small role as a friend of Marion’s who has much better gaydar than anyone else in 1950s London. Harry Styles may have put his foot all the way in his mouth when talking about gay love stories onscreen (clearly he hasn’t seen much in the way of LGBTQ cinema!) but the sex scenes between Styles and David Dawson are actually hot / sensual. So there’s that!
Look at it from my side. When a woman wants me to seduce her, I usually do. But then she starts pretending like I promised her something so then I start pretending like I promised her something. In the end, I’m the one that’s exploited!
Tootsie (1982) on Hulu
One of the greatest comedies of all time. The fact that it only won one Oscar is shameful. Sorry Gandhi, E.T., Missing, and The Verdict but you just don’t stand as tall as Dorothy Michaels (Dustin Hoffman) in heels. Also given the image that Streaming Roulette landed us on, whatever happened to Dabney Coleman? He was everywhere in the 1980s and early 1990s as one of the most reliable comic supporting actors. He’s still alive and 90 years old now.
If only there were someone who could help the flower of goodness inside us blossom. Some icon of love and forgiveness like, I dunno, Mother Teresa…
The Bad Guys (2022) on Netflix
We recently confessed that we think Best Animated Feature is kind of puzzling this year. The only titles with any buzz come from just two distributors: Disney & Netflix. In the history of that category (during five-wide shortlists that is) there’s never been a year with only two distributors honored. So maybe everyone is underestimating this box office hit from Universal? What’cha think? Here’s the updated chart.
Therefore whenever he looked in the mirror he did not see himself, but the dust.
Metamorphisis of Birds (2020) on Netflix
This art film was Portugal’s Oscar submission last year — Cláudio reviewed it right here and loved it. In the scene above, we’re seeing a succession of stamps of African countries that Portugal once colonized. As you know if you’ve been reading TFE’s extensive coverage of the International Feature Film race each year, Portugal holds the admirable if unfortunate distinction of “most Oscar submissions without a nomination”. They submit annually, 39 submissions now, so unless they quit doing that OR are finally nominated, they will hold this record in perpetuity. Egypt and The Philippines are just behind them in persistence without Oscar reward.
-I should stay where I belong.
-Where is that?
-In the dirt of the streets.
Barefoot Contessa (1954) – Amazon Prime
Ava Gardner’s centennial is coming in December. We’ll celebrate since at least one of our own (Baby Clyde) is a huge fan. This was one of her signature pictures (if not quite one of her best) a fictional account of a Spanish sex symbol and power moves within high society. Given that it was her follow up to her one and only Oscar nomination (Mogambo) and the film won Best Supporting Actor (Edmond O’Brien) and was nominated for Screenplay, one assumes she was in the running for a Best Actress nod. That she didn’t make it we can probably attribute to 1954 being one of those years where there just wasn’t any wiggle room. The category included former winners (Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina, Jane Wyman in Magnificent Obsession), a histor-making breakout (Dorothy Dandridge, Carmen Jones), an against-type star turn which would foretell the Academy’s long love affair with “de-glamming” (Grace Kelly, The Country Girl), and a comeback for The World’s Greatest Entertainer in one of the greatest screeen performances of all time (Judy Garland A Star is Born). Perhaps Ava landed in the dread sixth spot.
We won’t tell a soul we’ll put it out of our minds. Trust us. Go down the stairs. Leave now.
“Starring John Garfield” (1939-1951) -Criterion Channel
There are so many things to love about older films but one of them, showcased above, is how often directors and cinematographers shoved multiple actors into the same frame to ante up the interpersonal drama and tension. It’s unfortunately a lost art in our current constant close-ups world. The shot above is from the noir He Rain All The Way (1951), John Garfield’s final film in a remarkable career. Despite his short filmography and blacklisting he proved one of the most influential screen actors. Criterion is showcasing 10 films including Humoresque (1946) with Joan Crawford, The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946) with Lana Turner.