Now Streaming: DMZ Rules, DEEP WATER Flounders
Rosario Dawson is the one to watch on HBO Max.
Ernest Dickerson makes a comic book series rise, while not even Adrian Lyne can make a relationship between Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas believable in a modern day would-be thriller.
Now streaming on HBO Max.
Ernest Dickerson builds upon a solid dramatic foundation laid by Ava DuVernay in a four-episode, binge-worthy show, based on a comic book series by Brian Wood and Riccardo Burchielli, which was first published in 2005.
Wood acknowledged John Carpenter's Escape From New York as one of the creative influences, and the first episode, directed by DuVernay certainly reflects that, as well as Walter Hill's The Warriors. Flush with a post-apocalyptic vibe that also references John Ford's The Searchers, Rosario Dawson brings her powerful dramatic presence to Alma, a woman who has lost her teenage son in Manhattan when civil war broke out, isolating the island and its abandoned inhabitants as a demilitarized zone (DMZ), caught between two warring nation-states.
Created by Robert Patino, the first episode effectively lays the groundwork for what Ernest Dickserson and the writers flesh out over the next three episodes. Dawson anchors the show as a mother who is convinced that her now-adult son is still a good person; he's just been led astray by extraordinary, wartime circumstances and the extraordinary, persuasive influence of his father, Parco (Benjamin Bratt), who has become the leader of a deadly neighborhood gang and is aiming to leverage that for control of the entire island as Mayor.
The first episode is fine, but it's only an appetizer. The next three episodes deepen the characters further, and we learn of Alma's vital connections, by flesh or common interests, to every other major power player on the island. For action fans, there is plenty of bullet dancing, body slamming and blood gushing, which is well-executed, but what makes the series rise above is the potent drama that simmers beneath the action, justifying its explosive nature, and leading to a satisfying conclusion.
Given a character with more depth than usual, Hoon Lee knocks it out of the park, among a solid cast. Rosario Dawson is superbly dynamic; she a complete power player who makes you believe through the logic of her arguments and the passion of her convictions. Great stuff, and well worth a binge, if you are so inclined.
Now streaming on Hulu.
Unhappy Ben Affleck plays the lead role in the first film directed by Adrian Lyne since Unfaithful (2002). What could lure the stylish Mr. Lyne back to the silver screen?
Based on a novel by Patricia Highsmith that was first published in 1957, following Strangers on a Train, The Price of Salt, and The Talented Mr. Ripley, the screenplay, credited to Zach Helm (Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium) and Sam Levinson (Euphoria), tells the story of a loveless marriage between the unhappy Vic Van Allen (Ben Affleck) and the equally unhappy Melinda Van Allen (Ana de Armas).
Vic struck it rich by designing something essential for drone warfare and then selling the business, allowing him to mope around his lovely big home, ride his bicycle, tend to the many snails in his greenhouse, dote on his precocious/bratty/spoiled young daughter, and gaze upon his wife Melinda, who drinks alcohol, complains about her daughter playing the same song over and over, and flirts endlessly with a string of young men in public, the better to embarrass and/or exert control over the hapless Vic.
Occasionally, their arrangement allows Melinda to enjoy sexual congress with her husband, but otherwise she enjoys teasing one besotted young man after another, in search of relief from her endless boredom, while constantly undermining the marriage in public. Meanwhile, Vic mopes, and boasts that he killed someone who was flirting with Melinda, and then dead bodies begin to accumulate.
Soaked in stylish melancholia, Deep Water feels like it would be more palatable if it was a period piece, set in the late 1950s, but as a film set in the present day, it feels entirely ridiculous. Do Vic and Melinda remain married only to torture each other? If so, why am I wasting potentially valuable time watching two people languorously stare, mostly with hostility, at each other? And why does anyone befriend either of these deeply unhappy people?
Neither Ben Affleck nor Ana de Armas appear to have found the handle on their characters, which leaves this would-be "adult" thriller foundering in deep water, even if it is directed with a dash of smoldering style by the master of 80s/90s thrillers, Adrian Lyne.
Now Streaming covers international and indie genre films and TV shows that are available on legal streaming services.
- Ava DuVernay
- Roberto Patino (adaptation)
- Brian Wood (story)
- Venus Ariel
- Rosario Dawson
- Benjamin Bratt