WATCH FILMS AT HOME: Robert Tanitch reviews 5 films

WATCH FILMS AT HOME: Robert Tanitch reviews 5 films

THE LAST DUEL (HBO Max). Medieval France 1386. Ridley Scott directs. Marguerite (Jodie Comer) says she was raped by Jacques (Alan Driver). He denies it. Marguerite’s husband, Jean (Matt Damon), challenges Jacques to a duel which will be (according to medieval custom) judged by God. The person who loses will be condemned as a liar and terrible things will be done to his body. If Jean loses, his wife will be burned to death. The story is told in three slightly different versions, two too many. The film is overlong and over-wordy. Damon is miscast and Comer is too modern. Driver has the right period flair. The high spot is the brutal joust, brilliantly choreographed and edited

DUEL (YouTube). A classic road movie. A massive 40-ton petrol tanker, a polluted, flammable monster, chases a tiny red car, driven by a terrified travelling salesman (Dennis Weaver). The crazy murderer remains faceless throughout. The David and Goliath duel takes place on a deserted desert highway. 25-year-old Steven Spielberg’s 1971 movie, made for TV, is a suspenseful thriller, excellently photographed by Jack A Marta.

CAPE FEAR (BBC iPlayer). Guilt and retribution. The 1991 Martin Scorcese version. Robert De Niro, cigar-smoking, Bible-quoting, is memorably repellent as an extremely dangerous man taking revenge on the lawyer (Nick Nolte, a totally unsympathetic character), who didn’t save him from a 16-year prison sentence. Particularly disturbing is his seduction of the lawyer’s 15-year-old daughter (Juliette Lewis). The final sequence aboard a boat on a stormy river is so over the top it feels like a different movie.

IT’S A SIN (Netflix). Promiscuous gay men continue to act irresponsibly during the devastating AIDS crisis in the UK in the 1980’s and pay a heavy price. Russell T Davies (who wrote Queer As Folk) is the author and the engaging script is full of empathy for the victims who died alone in hospital beds; yet Davies is fully aware of their flaws. He also rages against a government for their incompetent homophobic response. There’s a very good cast. Olly Alexander, Omari Douglas and Cullum Scott Howells are the main gays and Lydia West is their best friend. Keeley Hawes is cast as a mother you wouldn’t wish on anybody.

INNOCENTS IN PARIS (StudioCanal). The cast is headed by Alistair Sim, Margaret Rutherford and Claire Bloom. Sounds promising; but this very bitty 1953 British comedy, with six unrelated Brits, all stereotypes, spending a weekend in the French capital, proves to be cliched, stilted and unfunny. Their behaviour is unbelievable and uttterly (mon dieu) sexless. Jimmy Edwards and Ronald Shiner do music hall routines. The funniest performance is by Agnes Poirier spouting a lot of rubbish.

To learn more about Robert Tanitch and his reviews, click here to go to his website Robert Tanitch Logo