Screen Savors: Washington confidential, Nordic noir and Oscar movies

Spy movies and Nordic television.

Mark Felt  (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Mark Felt
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
The biggest political mystery of the 1970s was the true identity of the Watergate informant whom Washington Post reporters Woodward and Bernstein dubbed “Deep Throat.” Deep Throat gave them information that was critical to bringing the Nixon presidency to an end, and he is said to have coined the phrase “Follow the money,” perhaps the most brilliant advice ever for any political reporter. There were many guesses as to who he really was, but no one knew for sure, until Mark Felt, a former FBI associate director and special agent, outed himself in 2005.
His story has been made into a spy thriller, Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House, starring Liam Neeson and directed by Peter Landesman (Concussion). It is now available on YES VOD.
The movie focuses on the Watergate period, as well as Felt’s troubled relationship with his wife, Audrey (Diane Lane). It isn’t as great a movie as All the President’s Men, but political junkies won’t want to miss it, especially as the FBI is increasingly in the headlines during the Trump presidency. The movie, which is based on Felt’s memoirs, gives an interesting glimpse into the inner workings of the organization.
The sublime Scandinavian series The Bridge (much better than the pallid Mexican-American remake of the same name) returns for its fourth season on February 28 on HOT Xtra VOD. This Swedish- Danish series is one of the jewels of the Nordic noir genre.
The first season opened with the discovery of a body on the Oresund Bridge between Denmark and Sweden. A socially challenged Swedish detective, Saga (Sofia Helin), and a much more relaxed Danish detective, Martin (Kim Bodnia), were assigned to investigate. They worked together for the first two seasons, but by the third, Bodnia, who is Jewish, said he preferred not to continue working in Malmo, Sweden, because of the anti-Semitism there. He was replaced by Thure Lindhardt as Henrik, a detective recovering from a trauma involving his family. The story lines on this show focus on controversial issues that are in the headlines — eco-terrorism, mental illness, backlash against social justice crusaders — and are often over the top but undeniably entertaining.
If you can read Hebrew subtitles well enough, you can watch the series on HOT. The first three seasons are available to stream on Amazon Prime, and if you still frequent DVD rental stores, you should be able to get The Bridge there.
I don’t know enough about Scandinavia to figure out whether the characters are speaking Danish or Swedish — they switch all the time — but the series is addictive, one of the best detective shows ever.
March 4 is the date of the Oscar ceremony. It was pushed back a few days so it wouldn’t conflict with the Winter Olympics. It will be broadcast in Israel on March 5. Both of the cable networks are featuring special Oscar movies starting soon.
One of the best of these is James L. Brooks’s As Good It Gets, which won Best Actor and Best Actress honors for Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt, respectively. People don’t seem to remember this movie, a comedy-drama about a romance writer with extreme OCD (Nicholson) and the waitress (Hunt) who is the only person he trusts. If it hadn’t been up against Titanic, it might have won Best Picture. It’s airing on HOT Gold on February 23 at 4:05 p.m.
Rain Man will be shown on HOT Gold on February 24 at 9:20 a.m. It won four Oscars: Best Picture, Best Actor (Dustin Hoffman), Best Director (Barry Levinson) and Best Screenplay. It was the first mainstream depiction of a character with autism that is at all credible, and it’s quite entertaining.
YES has some great Oscarrelated programming coming up in March, such as Fargo, the movie for which Frances McDormand, who is the Best Actress front runner this year for her performance in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, won her first Oscar. It will be shown on YES 3 on March 4 at 10 p.m., just ahead of this year’s Academy Awards.