Stream & Dream Lounge: The warmth of cool sightings

Notes on recent streaming comforts by CN&R film critic

Noel Fielding stars in the Apple TV series, The Completely Made-Up Adventures of Dick Turpin.


The latest screen adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripley is an 8-episode “limited series” on Netflix that dazzles with fine production values and an outstanding cast. Filmed in Italy, in lustrous black & white, it’s also a brilliantly realized (mid-20th century) period piece. And while its total running time is more than six hours, the onscreen results strike me as one of the very best movies of 2024 so far.  

Andrew Scott is superb as the cold-eyed con artist Ripley, and Dakota Fanning and Johnny Flynn are very good as the couple whose lives Ripley invades and smoothly overtakes. Writer-director Steven Zaillian is in top form, and Robert Elswit’s exquisitely stylish b&w cinematography is a marvel throughout.

Without Getting Killed or Caught

This 95-minute documentary from 2021 presents itself as a biopic of the late, great South Texas singer-songwriter, Guy Clark, and it features such luminaries among Clark’s musical contemporaries as Rodney Crowell, Steve Earle, Vince Gill and Townes Van Zandt.

Directed and co-written by Clark’s biographer, Tamara Saviano, it is a remarkably complex biographical portrait that’s made even more extraordinary by the triangular relationship at its center: Clark and Van Zandt are best friends; Guy and Susanna Clark are man and wife; Van Zandt and the truly remarkable Susanna are, at times, madly in love.  As such, it’s rather like a cinema verite Jules and Jim set among the musical literati of the Gulf Coast. The title, by the way, is a line from one of Clark’s hit songs, “L. A. Freeway.”  

The Completely Made-Up Adventures of Dick Turpin

An 18th century highwayman known as Dick Turpin gained a kind of legendary status as a Robin Hood on horseback in the popular entertainments of the centuries since his death in 1739: songs and book-length fictions early on, films and TV series more recently. Cowboy star Tom Mix played him in a silent film (Dick Turpin, 1925) and British Carry On franchise comedian Sidney James played him in Carry On Dick (1974).  

Apple TV’s “Made-Up” version is a thoroughly uproarious, and often brilliant, entertainment. With the shrewdly antic Noel Fielding in the title role, it more than matches the absurdist ribaldry of the Carry On farce and the supercharged action of the Mix version, as well. The special pleasures include Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey, etc.) as Turpin’s most formidable nemesis.

My Son x 2

Writer-director Christian Carion has made two versions of My Son—each with a different cast, one in French (Mon garçon, 2017) and one in English (2021). The story is the same in both—a man working internationally as a corporate troubleshooter gets a frantic phone call from his estranged wife—their small son has vanished from a rural summer camp. The man (Guillaume Canet in 2017, James McAvoy in 2021) charges into an increasingly fraught and personal investigation in suddenly ambiguous territory—rural foothills in 2017, the Scottish highlands in 2021.

The settings are quietly picturesque, but with noirish touches of character and mood. The stories are identical, for the most part, but the subtleties of performance and setting are not. Each of the actors brings a different kind of “presence” to their roles, and that kind of nuance is enhanced by Carion’s requirement that the lead actors each improvise his own dialogue within the scripted patterns of dramatic action. It’s a fascinating mixture of crime film and cinematic experiment, and the best way to appreciate either film is to see them both.

“Now and Then – The Last Beatles Song”

“Now and Then,” the recently released “last song” of the Beatles, comes from a long-gestating project of the surviving Beatles—to build a releasable recording of a John Lennon song that existed only on a cheaply made demo tape that wasn’t discovered until long after his death. A previous attempt had failed, but more recently, after George Harrison’s death, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, and Lennon’s son Sean, made another attempt and, using the latest in digital technology, succeeded.

“The Last Beatles Song” is a 12-minute making-of documentary which is as visually inventive as the 4-plus-minute music video in which all four of the Beatles appear to be performing the song. It all adds up to 17 minutes of first-rate Beatles cinema, and the clarity of the moments in which we hear Lennon’s voice liberated from the demo tape borders on the miraculous.

“Ride ’em on Down”

The Rolling Stones are what we hear in this 2016 music video, but what we see is Kristen Stewart dancing and jiving and joy-riding in a vintage Ford Mustang on a very sunny So-Cal afternoon. The song (a cover of an Eddie Taylor song from the band’s blues-covers album, Blue & Lonesome) is the Stones at their R&B best, and Stewart serves it well, but she’s the real (and reel) star of this little show—crashing out, and at her riotgirl best!  

“Ain’t Talkin'”

Graeme Buckley’s music video for Bob Dylan’s song is billed as a “tribute” to western movies. Fortunately, it’s more interesting than that might make it sound. There’s a deftly edited stream of major stars in classic westerns here, but the only “commentary” will be whatever apposite thoughts you might have while hearing Dylan’s song and catching glimpses of taciturn movie cowboys in classic moments.

My favorite moment: Dylan himself, not talking, in a scene from Sam Peckinpah’s Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid.

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