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What’s on TV Sunday: ‘The Ghost Writer’ and ‘A Little Chaos’


From left, Kim Cattrall, Olivia Williams and Pierce Brosnan in “The Ghost Writer.”

Berlinale/European Pressphoto Agency

Is your government getting you down? Try Roman Polanski’s escapist version with its real estate porn. Or swoon with a couple of royal bodice-rippers starring Alan Rickman, Matthias Schoenaerts and Mads Mikkelsen.

What’s Streaming

THE GHOST WRITER (2010) on Amazon and iTunes. Ewan McGregor is “at his ingénue best,” Manohla Dargis wrote in The New York Times, portraying a scribe for hire in this moody tale from Roman Polanski, set in one of the best beach houses ever. His job is to clean up the unfinished memoir of Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan), a former British prime minister, after the previous writer has washed up on shore. Olivia Williams is Lang’s wife, a brainy beauty with secrets. Mr. Polanski delivers “this pulpy fun at such a high level that ‘The Ghost Writer’ is irresistible, no matter how obvious the twists,” Ms. Dargis added.


Alan Rickman in “A Little Chaos.”

Alex Bailey/Focus Features

A LITTLE CHAOS (2015) on Amazon and iTunes. Alan Rickman directed this historical drama about two landscape artists, André Le Nôtre (Matthias Schoenaerts) and Sabine De Barra (Kate Winslet), who become romantically entangled while designing a garden at Versailles. Then Mr. Rickman stole the show as Louis XIV. His silky growl and insinuating gaze “make him a prime candidate to play a jaded aristocrat privy to every dirty secret within his purview,” Stephen Holden wrote in The Times. “Mr. Rickman has found in the Sun King a character worthy of his imperious, reptilian charisma.”

Pair it with “A ROYAL AFFAIR” (2012), on Amazon and iTunes, starring Alicia Vikander as Queen Caroline Mathilda of Denmark, who succumbs to a rakish court physician (Mads Mikkelsen), while the infantile King Christian VII (Mikkel Boe Folsgaard) flounders in mental illness. Writing in The Times, A. O. Scott called Nikolaj Arcel’s Oscar nominee for best foreign language film an “Advanced Placement bodice-ripper.”


Morgan Saylor in “White Girl.”


WHITE GIRL (2016) on Netflix. A college student (Morgan Saylor of “Homeland”) is living in a seedy Queens apartment with her best friend (India Salvor Menuez) and interning at a hipster magazine. She finds her yen for cocaine and sex — and maybe love — nearly satisfied by a Puerto Rican drug dealer (Brian Marc) in Elizabeth Wood’s take on class and privilege, spun from her own experiences as a Midwesterner transplanted to New York. “Because it is so believable, ‘White Girl’ is a contact bummer that’s hard to shake,” Stephen Holden wrote in The Times.

What’s on TV

TOP GEAR AMERICA 8 p.m. on BBC America. The United States get a customized version of the British classic. The show’s hosts — the actor William Fichtner, the drag racer Antron Brown and the car journalist Tom Ford — start by tackling the dunes and desert of Baja in modified VW Beetles.

THE LOST TAPES: SON OF SAM 9 p.m. on Smithsonian. Forty years after the arrest of David Berkowitz, this series looks back at the frenzy surrounding the Son of Sam serial killer.

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