Viewer’s Discretion: ‘Woman At War’ and ‘Black Lake’

‘WOMAN AT WAR’ (APPLE, GOOGLE PLAY, YOUTUBE) Talk about unexpected achievements, “Woman At War” manages the near-impossible by offering up a feel-good movie about climate change, but perhaps that’s what you can expect from a film product of Iceland. Never a country to wallow in problems, the Icelandic outlook of “Woman At War” suggests that [...]

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘I Am Another You’ and ‘Rellik

‘I AM ANOTHER YOU’ (AMAZON, APPLE, GOOGLE PLAY, VUDU, YOUTUBE) In this haunting documentary, Chinese filmmaker Nanfu Wang heads down to Florida after moving to New York City, and decides to film every aspect of her visit there. She’s in search of some mythical America cowboy spirit that leads to total freedom without ties, and [...]

Viewer’s Discretion: “Quicksand” and “Rillington Place”

‘QUICKSAND’ (NETFLIX) School mass shootings aren’t quite a daily occurrence here in the U.S., but it’s sadly gotten to a point where you could imagine that happening. This Swedish series doesn’t come from that depressing reality. Sweden has faced eight school mass shootings since 1967, while in our own country there have been 148 just [...]

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘Akta Manniskor’ and ‘A Harlot’s Progress’

‘Akta Manniskor (Real Humans)’ (Hulu) Mainly known as the inspiration for the series “Humans” rather than for any details of its own, Swedish writer Lars Lundstr m’s original surpasses its English-language remake particularly in its satirical scope. Presenting a world where human-like robots, HuBots, have been created to serve “real humans,” the series questions if the [...]

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘Bodyguard’ and ‘Nico 1988’

‘BODYGUARD’ (NETFLIX) If you want tense, exciting, hard-to-predict crime conspiracy stories that keep you on the edge of your seat, British television writer Jed Mercurio should be your go-to guy. His series, “Line of Duty,” a labyrinthine display of tension and amazing guest performances in the setting of a police internal affairs investigation unit, is [...]

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘At Eternity’s Gate’ and ‘Requiem’

‘AT ETERNITY’S GATE’ (AMAZON, APPLE, GOOGLE PLAY, VUDU, YOUTUBE) It seems obvious from the moment he appears on the screen that Willem Dafoe was meant to play Vincent Van Gogh, even though there’s nothing particularly Van Gogh-ish about his appearance. And yet, as he wanders through the fever dream of “At Eternity’s Gate,” Dafoe is [...]

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘Love and Terror on the Howling Plains of Nowhere’ and ‘Trust Me’

‘LOVE & TERROR ON THE HOWLING PLAINS OF NOWHERE’ (AMAZON, APPLE, GOOGLE PLAY, SUNDANCE, VUDU, YOUTUBE) In the winter of 2006, a college professor in Chadron, Neb., disappeared, and once he was found, created a mystery that the residents are still struggling with today. Pronounced a suicide by law enforcement, some in the town think [...]

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘Being Frank’ and ‘Doctor Who’

‘BEING FRANK: THE CHRIS SIEVEY STORY’ (AMAZON) British oddball and Renaissance man Chris Sievey isn’t well-known in America beyond his image, which was used in the film “Frank” as a symbol of outsiders and oddballs who create music outside the norm. But his giant paper-mache head is cherished, especially by a generation of British children, [...]

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘Flowers’ and ‘Tabula Rasa’

‘FLOWERS’ (NETFLIX) It might take a few episodes to get into the rhythm of “Flowers.’ That’s what I required, but once I had cracked the code, I was its prisoner. Initially, a quirky shock-style comedy that reveled in its rudeness, “Flowers” progresses into something entirely different, taking the basic cliches it presents up front and [...]

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘Strange Angel’ and ‘Theory of Obscurity’

‘STRANGE ANGEL’ ( CBS ALL ACCESS) In the 21st century, there are multiple disciplines being sold that promise hopeful seekers a way to optimize their ambitions into reality, to realize their best selves, but so many of these philosophies are not new, merely transformed into current-speak. If you reverse engineer their conceptions, you find that [...]

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘Arrival’ and ‘Safe’

‘ARRIVAL’ (AMAZON, APPLE, GOOGLE PLAY, HULU, VUDU) Science fiction, at least in its visual form, has become too often linked with action than intellect and empathy when it comes to the depiction of spectacle. But there are awesome wonders to be born from the quieter pursuits and on occasion, a movie comes along that takes [...]

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘The Forest’ and ’Errementari: The Blacksmith and the Devil’

‘THE FOREST’ (NETFLIX) At some point recently, European television makers realized they had a lot of lovely, evocative forests that made for excellent crime settings, while also doing the work of creating thematic spaces for hidden secrets that could be utilized in a mystery about isolated areas. No longer are crime shows relegated to the [...]

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘3%’ and ‘The Rain’

‘3%’ (NETFLIX) In some ways a YA dystopian novel that skipped publication and went straight to television instead, “3%” is a Brazilian series depicting a means by which undesirables are selected out of society and placed in an exclusive society on an idyllic island. Or, basically, it’s a fable for income inequality, something that I [...]

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘The Salesman’ and ‘See No Evil’

‘THE SALESMAN’ (AMAZON, GOOGLE PLAY, VUDU, YOUTUBE) This slow-burning suspense tale from Iran takes place against the backdrop of a small Iranian production of Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman.” In “The Salesman,” scenes from Miller’s play appear as accentuating points to a quiet, paranoid tale that mixes personal terror with cultural oppression and political [...]

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘Ghoul’ and ‘The Ritual’

‘GHOUL’ (NETFLIX) It’s not a typical combination — dystopian fiction and supernatural horror — but this three-episode series from India manages to put them together with a lot of skill, thrills and chills and achieves the unlikely victory of having each element built off each other to admirable effect. Nida Rahim (Radhika Apte) is an eager advocate of the [...]

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘Hidden’ and ‘Won’t You Be My Neighbor’

‘HIDDEN’ (ACORN TV) The genre of European crime shows has been perfected to a science, usually combining a few of several possible elements into a narrative formula and then fleshing them out with some character particulars that often rely on the chosen actors to give them life. Among the elements are a moody setting, an [...]

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘Author: THe J.T. LeRoy Story’ and ‘Fangar’

‘AUTHOR: THE J.T. LEROY STORY’ (AMAZON, APPLE, GOOGLE PLAY, VUDU, YOUTUBE) Somehow, the story of author J.T. LeRoy fell under my radar, so this documentary opened up entire worlds of fascination for me. LeRoy came to the public dye through his debut novel, “Sarah,” in 1999, a semi-autobiographical work that pulled from his background as [...]

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘Art and Craft’ and ‘Keeping Faith’

‘ART AND CRAFT’ (AMAZON, FANDOR, HOOPLA, SUNDANCE NOW) When I think of art forgers, I think of crafty con men who are in it for the big money, so Mark Landis, the subject of “Art and Craft,” went against what I envisioned. Landis is an art forger, but a quirky one. He gives his art [...]

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘Inside № 9’ and ‘Threads’

‘INSIDE NO. 9’ (BRITBOX) This anthology series starring and written by Steve Pemberton and Reese Shearsmith is a hidden British gem that exhibits a delicious dark humor that manages to give equal service to comedy and suspense. Pemberton and Shearsmith were part of the series “The League of Gentlemen,” and “Inside №9” pulls from the [...]

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘Killing Eve’ and ‘The Pain of Others’

“Killing Eve” (Amazon, Apple) “Killing Eve” manages the impossible by feeling fresh without actually doing much radical to the genre it inhabits, espionage. At least not much obviously radical — it’s the subtleties that do that work. This is the story of a woman operative for MI5 who feels she never gets her due and finds an [...]

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘A Very English Scandal’ and ‘Calibre’

‘A VERY ENGLISH SCANDAL’ (AMAZON) Much more than the sum of its parts — and boasting parts that are considerable indeed — the three-part “A Very English Scandal” recollects true crime and political corruption in England to tell a much more important tale about repression and hate, and how these two aspects of society crush down on real human [...]

Viewer’s Discretion: ’45 Years’ and ‘The Alienist’

’45 YEARS’ (AMAZON, APPLE, NETFLIX, VUDU) For all the obsession with relationship stories, films by and large favor the slim pickings personal dramas of younger people over the smorgasbord that older couples offer. A relationship of several decades offers a scenario where not only the large transgressions create drama, but also the smaller ones — and the [...]

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘Chance’ and ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’

‘CHANCE’ (HULU) “Chance” is one of those curiosities of the streaming television era. Conceived as Hugh Laurie’s triumphant follow-up to “House,” big things were expected and Hulu signed it for two seasons to start. By the end, things hadn’t worked out the way everyone expected, and Hulu formally announced in January there would be no [...]

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘Black Spot’ and ‘Kaleidoscope’

‘BLACK SPOT’ (AMAZON) The isolated village of Villefranche, which sets somewhere on the edge of a foreboding forest with a personality of its own, is the setting for “Black Spot,” or “Zone Blanche” as the series is known in its native country of France. The title supposedly refers to the spotty cellular coverage that supposedly [...]

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘The A Word’ and ‘The Exhibition’

‘THE A WORD’ (AMAZON) Based on an Israeli show called “Yellow Peppers,” this British series centers a family in a small English village that would probably be considered typical as they face the autism diagnosis of their son. The focus here is Joe (Max Vento), at the start of the series 5-years-old and beginning to [...]

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘Money Heist’ and ‘The Terror’

‘MONEY HEIST’ (NETFLIX) This rollicking, absurd and utterly absorbing Spanish heist thriller is apparently the most-watched foreign language series on Netflix and it’s not hard to see why. The more you suspend your disbelief, the more you are rewarded for doing so. The more you give yourself to the series, the more satisfied you are [...]

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘Kiri’ and ‘Wind River’

‘KIRI’ (HULU) British writer Jack Thorne is getting a lot of attention these days as the author of “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” but the number of complaints from hardcore fans leads me to believe that it’s hard to see Thorne’s talent through all the emotions people feel about J.K. Rowling’s creation. The TV [...]

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘Ramblin’ Freak’ and ‘Wild Wild Country’

‘RAMBLIN’ FREAK’ (AMAZON, APPLE, VUDU) Neither the title nor the premise of the documentary, “Ramblin’ Freak,” gives much insight to what the film is about and if you take your cue from either, you’re probably going to be wrong. Sold on Amazon as a documentary about a guy who decides to take a road trip [...]

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘The Florida Project’ and ‘Peaky Blinders’

‘THE FLORIDA PROJECT’ (AMAZON, APPLE, GOOGLE PLAY, VUDU) Centering around 6-year-old Moonee (Brooklynn Prince) and her mother, Halley (Bria Vinaite), “The Florida Project” portrays a life lived in cheap motels, where struggling families find shelter in the shadow of Disney World. And it does cast a shadow, though it takes the form of knock-offs. The [...]

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘Journey To Greenland’ and ‘Thicker Than Water’

‘JOURNEY TO GREENLAND’ (NETFLIX) Cross-cultural stories have become harder to put onto film as awareness has risen about the offensive tropes such narratives cling to. If it’s not the white-person-as-savior chestnut, then it’s the magic foreigner one. We’ve become so accustomed to those cliches that they seem reasonable as if they somehow reflect any of [...]