What’s on TV Wednesday: ‘Yellowstone’ and an Obscure Claire Denis Film
What’s on TV
YELLOWSTONE 10 p.m. on Paramount Network. Kevin Costner plays the patriarch of a wealthy family that lives on a chunk of sought-after land in this series, a modern-day western from the writer-director Taylor Sheridan. The first season was marked by great, sweeping shots of Montana and Utah, where the show is filmed — not that there was much time to admire the scenery. The series is full of backstabbing and conflict, as competing interests vie for the land, and disputes erupt in the family itself. In his review of Season 1 in The New York Times, James Poniewozik wrote that the show “has a few interesting things buried within.” “But,” he continued, “you need to dig through a lot of drab, hard-packed filler to get to them.” Perhaps the second season will shift that balance.
RIVERS OF LIFE 8 p.m. on PBS (check local listings). If “Yellowstone” has too much interpersonal conflict and not enough serene natural beauty for you, try this three-part documentary series from PBS and the BBC. Each episode focuses on a different river. Tonight’s is about the Nile; others are about the Mississippi and the Amazon. The series discusses both the rivers themselves and the people and animals who live in various levels of harmony (or dissonance) with them.
KEEP IT FOR YOURSELF (1991) Stream on Le Cinéma Club. The free, arty streaming website Le Cinéma Club is back with this rare, early short from the director Claire Denis. Sophie Simon plays a Frenchwoman who travels to New York to meet her lover, only to find that he’s skipped town. It’s an early example not only of Denis’s filmmaking but also of her collaborations with the cinematographer Agnès Godard, who shot this film in black and white. The critic Richard Brody wrote in a recent article in The New Yorker that the movie “is no mere rarity but also a major cinematic treasure rescued from oblivion and now available to all.”
SHAFT (1971) Stream on Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu and YouTube. The new “Shaft” sequel, currently in theaters, might not be driving audiences to buy as many tickets as Warner Bros. would like. But this original film became a defining ’70s movie — and a box office titan — when it hit theaters. The wah-wah of Isaac Hayes’s classic “Theme From Shaft” can be heard in its natural habitat here, as the detective John Shaft (Richard Roundtree) traipses down the streets of New York and into the American cultural consciousness. “Not a day goes by that I’m not somewhere when someone recites the lines from the theme song, or lines from the film, as if I’ve never heard them before,” Roundtree said in a recent interview with The Times. “I’m like, ‘Yeah, man. Cool. O.K.’”