Fun ‘False Flag’, cowboys and more ‘Minx’

TV TIME: What's new on your screen at home?

 KEVIN COSTNER (center) and the cast of ‘Yellowstone.’ (photo credit: COURTESY OF CELLCOM TV)
KEVIN COSTNER (center) and the cast of ‘Yellowstone.’
(photo credit: COURTESY OF CELLCOM TV)

The Keshet series, False Flag (Kfulim), which is running on Channel 12 on Tuesdays at 10:20 p.m. and is available on the Mako website, has continued the nail-biting tension with its third season. The first season was based on a real killing in a hotel abroad in which the passports of several Israelis allegedly involved in the assassination were broadcast around the world.

The third season opens with a big celebration at a Cyprus hotel by an Israeli hi-tech company, Streamize, which is a kind of Spotify for video clips. When a chemical attack suddenly takes down dozens of revelers at the event, among them the Agriculture Minister (Ohad Knoller), Israeli intelligence services immediately get involved. A soldier (Alma Keni from Dismissed) from the vaunted 8200 IDF unit immediately springs into action, feeding all the data on the attack into the unit’s newest program and comes up with three suspects, all Israeli women who are Streamize employees. This puts the 20-year-old female soldier into conflict with General Security Services veterans, who don’t think much of her methods.

Once again, Miki Leon portrays the lead investigator in this twisty, fun series that has more red herrings than a deli at sunset. Whenever you think you have everything figured out, you are blindsided by new information and a new lead. The series features many well-known Israeli actors, including Tali Sharon (Srugim, BeTipul), Romi Aboulafia (The Chef) and Yael Eitan (The Spy, Prisoners of War).

The series, Yellowstone, which just started running on Cellcom TV, was the surprise winner this year of the Screen Actors Guild Ensemble Award for the cast of a television show, defeating such formidable competition as Succession, Squid Game and The Handmaid’s Tale. Set in contemporary Montana, it tells the story of the Dutton family, whose patriarch, John Dutton (Kevin Costner), presides over a huge ranch called the Yellowstone. It’s a drama about how he and his adult children fight developers trying to buy their land out from under them, as well the struggles of the ranch hands who live in the a bunkhouse and the attempts of a Native American politician on a nearby reservation to acquire the ranch, which was built on land this community owned centuries ago.

 A SCENE from ‘Minx.’  (credit: YES) A SCENE from ‘Minx.’ (credit: YES)

In a sense, it another one of those rich family-power struggle dramas, like Succession. But the Western setting changes everything. For one thing, the scenery is incredible and each new section is introduced with sweeping aerial shots. The series creators use the beauty to make it clear why this land is worth fighting for. It is also a drama about the core American values of independence and reliance on agriculture, where wealth comes directly from what land can provide, with no hi tech or high finance to interfere.

Dutton’s three adult children represent different archetypes. His son, Jamie (Wes Bentley, whose breakout role was in American Beauty), is a lawyer who fights the family’s battles in court but does not feel that selling part of their spread to a developer is the end of the world. Kayce (Luke Grimes), the more rebellious younger son, became a Navy SEAL, and, when the first season opens, lives on the Indian reservation with this native-American bride, where he works with livestock. The only daughter, Beth (Kelly Reilly), is the family’s link to the corporate world, a financier who breaks the family’s rivals by buying them up. Caught between two worlds, she is predictably tormented and battles substance abuse.

It’s entertaining and addictive, but the first few episodes are densely packed with characters and plot, so you really need to pay attention until you figure out who is who. The low-key Costner is convincing as a ruthless and stubborn rancher and his smoldering presence anchors the series.

STATE OF MIND, a movie starring Richard Gere, recently became available on Netflix, and like Yellowstone, it is about a world run by white guys, but it is a very different story. It is based on the experiment described in the book, The Three Christs of Ypsilanti, where a psychiatrist at a Michigan mental hospital in the early 60s brought together three men suffering from schizophrenia, all of whom believed they were Jesus Christ, in the hope that they would confront each other and be jolted into reality. It is a fascinating premise and the actors are all good, especially the three playing the patients, Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones), Bradley Whitford (The West Wing) and Walton Goggins (Justified).

But this kind of experiment, which required so much manipulation on the part of the staff and caused so much suffering on the part of the patients, is a remnant from an era when the medical establishment thought lobotomies were a good treatment for various mental disorders and that pretty much anything that doctors wanted to try with severely ill patients was worthwhile. The movie tries to turn the story around and show the doctor’s own struggles and conflicts, to make his desire to experiment on patients more palatable. He eventually reveals he is a Jew, from a refugee family, who has concealed this fact for most of his life, but this revelation does not change the fact that the movie says nothing that has not already been said about schizophrenia.

The famous quote from his book, “[The experiment] did cure me of my godlike delusion that I could manipulate them out of their beliefs,” is featured prominently in the movie, but in spite of the doctor’s ultimate lesson in humility, this is a sad and upsetting story that in the end, has little point.

Minx, the comic (and sexually explicit) HBO Max series about a feminist in the 70s who teams up with a pornographer to publish her magazine, which has been running on Hot HBO and Hot VOD, is now available on yes VOD. I have had a chance to watch the full first season and it keeps getting more interesting as it goes on, particularly as an examination of the way attitudes about women and sex changed during that era.

Another interesting look at this period and these issues, the movie The Glorias, a biopic of Gloria Steinem, directed by Julie Taymor, will be available on Cellcom TV starting on April 14. Due to the pandemic, this entertaining movie never got the release it would have otherwise. It stars four actresses as Steinem at different points in her life, including Oscar winners Julianne Moore and Alicia Vikander.