Here are some recent films I’ve caught, not at cinemas, but on websites, including the fantastic FilmStruck, an art house cinema site owned by Turner Classic Movies (TCM) and which, unfortunately, can only be viewed in the United States. Notice how this blog is called Windsor - DETROIT Film?
The Lost Honour of Christopher Jeffries (Roger Mitchell 2014) (photo left), on Netflix, originally a two-part TV series, tells the story of a real incident where an eccentric school teacher (Jason Watkins as Jeffries), is mistakenly arrested and charged with the murder of a neighbor. It’s a classic case of police jumping to conclusions because someone is unconventional enough to evoke suspicion. But the film is also a critique of England’s tabloid press, which made Jeffries a household name and outcast. Watkins is great as the seemingly absent-minded professor who has a sharp mind and is indignantly confounded by his arrest. Mitchell (Notting Hill, Hyde Park on the Hudson) paces this picture just right, from early scenes of Jeffries's very normal life socializing with friends and as dedicated teacher to the subsequent police investigation, false media outing, and more.
Victim (Basil Dearden, 1961), on FilmsStruck, starring Dirk Bogarde and Sylvia Syms, is about the blackmailing of a group of high profile gay men in England during a period when homosexuality was illegal. But so then was blackmailing. The plot revolves around Melville Farr (Bogarde) who seeks to quash the blackmailing ring, even if it threatens his life as a prominent barrister. Bogarde is always great, as in this role which shows how a man can live both a conventional and unconventional life, as many, at one time, did.
In Search of Fellini (Taron Lexton, 2017), on Netflix, is about a small town midwestern girl who discovers the great Italian director Federico Fellini and is so mesmerized by his films she wants to go to Italy to see him (this of course when the master was still alive). Lucy (Ksenia Solo) makes the escape from home and has several adventures, including romantic, in Italy, before meeting up with the director in a Roma café. It’s an unlikely scenario though partly autobiographical. The film’s best parts are its dreamy cinematography. But that isn’t enough to hold the plot together.