Find star power and soaring opera in ‘Bel Canto’
Here is an interesting new release available now from cable and digital providers as well as a title recently made available for streaming.
Video on Demand
“Bel Canto”: Based on the international best-selling novel by Ann Patchett, this drama stars Julianne Moore as a renowned opera singer named Roxane Coss. After flying to a nondescript South American country to perform at a private concert hosted in a politician’s mansion, everything goes to hell shortly after her performance begins as guerrillas storm the property and take everybody hostage. These freedom fighters had been expecting the president to be in attendance, but he never showed up. This begins a monthlong standoff between the rebels and authorities outside with only the help of a negotiator from the Red Cross (Sebastian Koch, “The Lives of Others”). Inside, Coss bonds with a Japanese businessman named Katsumi Hosokawa (Ken Watanabe, “Letters From Iwo Jima”) who flew in for the party under somewhat false pretenses because of his adoration of her singing. In nearly any other situation, Coss and Katsumi would barely cross paths, but their close proximity here allows these two people, who don’t even speak the same language, to bond. World famous soprano Renée Fleming lends her voice to Moore for the performance, which becomes increasingly emotional as the story unfolds. The final act simultaneously feels far-fetched and oddly sensible, based on everything that has come before it. Stockholm syndrome takes hold between those being held against their will and their captors, but clearly, there are those on both sides who have been traumatized. The commanding direction from Paul Weitz, best known for comedies like “American Pie” and “About A Boy,” is unexpected — he ratchets up the tension and elicits sympathy from viewers for the characters that many will consider the villains. It’s unfortunate that the current arthouse market is so fractured that a powerful motion picture like this with terrific actors and made for older viewers will have to largely find its audience at home. (Cable and digital VOD on Sept. 21)
Also on streaming services
“Sierra Burgess Is A Loser”: This is the umpteenth retelling of “Cyrano de Bergerac,” but it’s (mostly) charming enough to forgive that. Shannon Purser (Barb from season one of “Stranger Things”) plays the title character in this young adult tale, a smart high school girl who struggles to fit in. After a mean cheerleader brushes off a football player (Noah Centineo) from a rival school by giving him Sierra’s phone number when he asks her out, it leads to a prolonged texting romance that Sierra never wants to end. Despite her best efforts to keep the relationship virtual, an unlikely alliance might lead her straight to a first kiss. (Netflix)