June 17, 2021

What’s on TV Saturday: ‘Horse Girl’ and ‘Ma’

Alison Brie in “Horse Girl.”
Credit…Katrina Marcinowski/Netflix

HORSE GIRL Stream on NetflixAlison Brie — who co-wrote this film with its director, Jeff Baena — plays Sarah, an unassuming and socially awkward arts-and-crafts store employee who doesn’t quite fit in with her Zumba classmates or her roommate. Despite this, she finds comfort in her favorite TV show, “Purgatory,” and in visiting a horse she used to own — both of which seem to protect her from the world’s harsh realities, including her mother’s death and her grandmother’s psychosis. Then, Sarah begins to spiral. In what is a clear mental health decline, Sarah finds herself entangled in a web of amnesia, hallucinations and supernatural experiences. “It would be tactful, at this point, for ‘Horse Girl’ to show how Sarah’s hallucinations are causing her suffering; instead, it indulges them,” Natalia Winkelman . She added, “The more time we spend inside her visions, the more we are invited to enable her, to shrug off our worry in favor of an absorbing paranormal mystery.”

THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY (1947) Stream on Criterion“‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’ is a big, colorful show and a good one,”Walter Mitty, in his most realistic version, is a dull, suburban proofreader. But in his elaborate fantasies, he is a military commander, a surgeon and a Southern gambler, among other roles — all of which pale in comparison with the real-life adventure he finds himself on. Danny Kaye, who plays Mitty, creates a consistently charming adaptation of James Thurber’s 1939 short story of the same title.

MA (2019) 8 p.m. on HBO. Octavia Spencer experiments in the horror genre for her role as the title character of “Ma.” The movie, which was directed by Tate Taylor (“The Help”) and written by Scotty Landes (“Get Out”), has similarly complicated undertones, with a plot centered around a lonely woman who provides a party basement for some rowdy teenagers. Things start to get weird when Ma, who to this point has been a comforting presence and a very lax “parental” supervisor, starts showing up in unexpected places and interacting with the children constantly. Eventually, the viewer learns that Ma — whose real name is Sue Ann — went to high school with many of her guests’ parents, and she is now seeking revenge for an unspeakably awful act performed in her past. Spencer delivers in this role,She’s warm, needy, scary, conspiratorial and witty, overriding any concerns for coherence with the sheer force of her personality.”

THE WITNESSES 7 p.m. on Oxygen. Excommunicated members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses — who have been vocal about what they say is the church’s history of child sexual abuse — are interviewed in this two-part documentary. In their conversations with the reporter Trey Bundy, who has covered the topic for several news publications, victims and witnesses describe the lack of support they say they received from the community’s leaders, as well as attempts to hide these allegations from both congregation members and the outside world.

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