Among the best things about British cop shows is the insistence to pack most of them, at least the ones that I encounter, with women inspectors as the lead characters and, very often, women bosses at all levels of the police force. I don’t know if this is anywhere remotely resembling the truth, but it has allowed for some excellent actresses to take some meaty roles, and also to allow writers to move past the male stereotypes that have traditionally dominated these shows.
For both seasons of “Prey,” Rosie Cavaliero plays DI Susan Reinhardt with a wonderful fallibility as she works to prove that she is a capable and serious investigator even as her train wreck of a personal life and natural predilection for self-deprecation and then resentment for feeling like she has to do so pushes her to don battle gear against her superiors. Cavaliero is a mainstay on British television in supporting and guest roles where she stands out, in excellent series like “Gentleman Jack,” “The Enfield Haunting,” “Clatterford,” “Little Dorrit” and plenty of others.
In “Prey’s” first season, Susan Reinhardt has to track down DS Marcus Farrow (John Simm), who is accused of murdering his ex-wife and son, and in fleeing the law is trying to find out who really did it. Simm is at his intense best in the role and the disheveled Cavaliero makes a relatable foil for him.
In the second season, prison guard David Murdoch (Philip Glenister) is blackmailed into helping a prisoner escape and flees with the escapee in order to save his kidnapped daughter. Cavaliero is partnered with Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, excellent in his role as a young, irreverent cop whose recklessness challenges Reinhardt’s role as an accidental mentor. Both are good cop shows that have an additional dimension added to them thanks to the skilled actors charged with making the police seem more human in these highly-charged situations.
‘SAVING BRINTON’ (MUBI)
That there are scores of silent films that have been lost to the ravages of time and chemicals is well understood, and so when copies of films previously believed lost are found, it’s a big deal in the area of cultural history. Bill Morrison’s “Dawson City: Frozen Time” beautifully documented one instance of such a discovery in an experimental way, while “Saving Brinton” does so in a more down-to-earth manner, which mirrors the man who is the focus of the film.
Mike Zahs is one of those guys who seems like a packrat, but the things he hordes aren’t random, and his brain works in such a way that he researches and comes to understand every single object in his possession and then sets out to educate others about them. He’s owned a cache of silent films for a couple decades, but has been unable to drum up interest in preserving them.
What he discovered about the reels is that they belonged to William Franklin Brinton, a travelling barnstormer and showman who ran what is now the oldest still-running movie theater in the United States, the Graham Opera House in Washington Iowa. Along with some rare historical footage contained on the reels, like rare footage of Teddy Roosevelt, the collection also contains lost footage from Georges Melies’ films and that becomes an engine for Zahs to move forward in saving the films.
What results is a cocktail of portraits that brings together Zahs’ humble efforts and life with Brinton’s grandiose versions, as well as the inspired and visionary wizardry of Melies’ filmmaking, thus juxtaposing visionaries at different stops in film history whose single minded pursuits within the form reveal not just the impact of one person, but the connectedness between decades that bring these singular influences into a chain of importance.