Jane Campion‘s interesting but doleful, somewhat irksome The Power of the Dog (Netflix, 11.17) is a respectable smarthouse effort. An intelligent, solemn, very well acted (especially by Benedict Cumberbatch), at times fascinating period drama.
In a nutshell, it’s a somewhat rugged, rather grim 1920s western about repressed homosexuality. No fist fights, no gunshots, etc. And clearly the work of a gifted filmmaker.
But it wasn’t for me. I knew that within minutes. Netflix will begin streaming it on 11.17.21.
I wish I had more time but I don’t. Two more films today — The Automat (a doc) and The French Dispatch.
Cumberbatch is really quite the self-torturing closet case, but he and Jesse Plemons are cast as brothers, and there’s really no way to believe this. They’re both red-haired (Plemons is more of a lighter carrot shade) but there the vague resemblance ends. The common genetic heritage simply isn’t there. Was one adopted?
Cumberbatch is lean and sinewy; Plemons is a moon-faced marshmallow with small eyes, and conveying a certain patience and gentleness of spirit. But he and BC don’t even look like second cousins.
As the film begins the Burbank brothers (Phil and George) share a bedroom in their mansion-sized home…curious.
Plemons is bulkier than Phillip Seymour Hoffman in The Master and slightly less ample than John Candy in Planes, Trains & Automobiles. He’s playing a wealthy cattle broker, but there’s no believing that plump Plemons could be part of any aspect of the cattle business. The trust factor goes right out the window.
The older-looking Kirsten Dunst, 39, delivers the second best performance, right after Cumberbatch.
To me watching this felt like work; it made me feel vaguely trapped. I walked out scratching my head and muttering “￼what?” I wrote three friends who’ve seen it to try and clarify a third-act plot element.
That’s it, time’s up, gotta go.
Bernard McMahon’s Becoming Led Zeppelin, which I saw late last night, is a pleasing, at times rousing doc about a great ’60s and ’70s band. It plants a grin on your face, gets your foot tapping and delivers ecstatic memory throttles from time to time. Speaking as a longtime Zep fan, I was
happy fine with it as far as it went.
Twenty words: It’s highly enjoyable but a bit under-nourishing due to control-freak conditions imposed by Jimmy Page and Robert Plant.
Becoming starts out fine and then it gets really good once the band starts playing gigs. But then the lack of texture and honesty by way of varied viewpoints becomes more and more noticable as it goes along and especially during the last 20 or 25 minutes.
This is an agreeable, enjoyable rock doc, but it’s too sanitized. Dishonest by way of omission. But I still liked it.
The first hour relates the individual paths of the three remaining Zeppers, and straight from the mouths — Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones (all currently in their 70s and in good spirits) as well as the late John Bonham, who is heard speaking to a journalist about this and that.
The second hour is about the launch of Led Zeppelin — the early play dates, the creation of the first two albums, the acclaim, the power and the glory. It’s basically about good times, and there’s nothing “wrong” with that.
The problem is that it doesn’t dig in. It’s not even slightly inquisitive. It’s way too obliging, almost feeing like an infomercial at times. It offers, in short, a really restricted portrait, and around the 110-minute mark I started to mind this.
From Owen Gleiberman’s Variety review: