There's a lot of dross on "Netflix". On more occasions than I can calculate, I have begun watching films via "Netflix" only to give up after ten minutes or so.. Too predictable. Too amateurish. Too bloody boring.
Nonetheless, having also had some really good viewing experiences courtesy of the viewing platform, I knew that it contained some gems. It was surely just a question of rooting them out - like picking over a skip filled with rubbish (American: dumpster).
Rather than going straight to "Netflix" on our television, I decided to do a bit of googling - seeing if I could find a bunch of independently recommended films that might appeal to me.
That's how I chased down "The Lost Daughter" (2021) and "The Master" (2012).
"The Lost Daughter", directed by Maggie Gyllenhaal is set in an Italian summer and stars Olivia Colman as Leda. There are psychological undercurrents linked to past events and the air is heavy with "if only's" and "what might have beens", guilt and uncertainty. Things are not spelt out. You have to make assumptions and your own conclusions. What did it all mean? Olivia Colman was as brilliant as she always is, again demonstrating her incredible range as a film actress.
"The Master" focuses upon two men. There's Freddie played by Joaquin Phoenix and Lancaster Dodd played by Philip Seymour Hoffman. Freddie is an alcoholic and troubled World War II veteran. He has demons to battle. Dodd is a clever charlatan and pseudo-intellectual who has harnessed the power of his personality to lead a semi-religious cult that is often referred to as "The Cause". There may be deliberate echoes of the growth of Scientology. He gathers people around him, including Freddie. Perhaps typical of cult leaders, Dodd often seems to believe in his own fiction.
Both films held my attention throughout. Neither was made for easy entertainment. They were well-crafted and clever and they were not filled with the sound of guns or the sight of gratuitous murders as many films are. They were both about imperfect people and how they relate to one another, what they learn and where their journeys lead. I like films like that.