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On Demand movie highlights

Rescue Dawn ½

(Showtime on Comcast) The latest mesmerizing Christian Bale performance anchors a harrowing reenactment of US Navy pilot Dieter Dengler’s survival in the jungles of Laos during the Vietnam War. What appears to be a straightforward, even predictable drama of POW suffering is actually an emotionally overpowering career summary for director Werner Herzog: a man-vs.-nature tale where both sides fight each other to a standstill. Costarring Steve Zahn. (PG-13; runs through April 1)

Velvet Goldmine ½

(Showtime on Comcast) All the spandex and feathers and glitter can’t hide the fact that Todd Haynes’s homage to ’70s glam rock runs a narrow gamut from dullness to nothingness. It rubs Jonathan Rhys Meyers’s David Bowie figure and Ewan McGregor’s Iggy Pop stand-in together, but produces no sparks. Christian Bale adds little as the earnest reporter, digging out the story in “Citizen Kane” fashion. Toni Collette, handed little to work with, gives the others an acting lesson. (R; runs through April 1)

Nixon

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(Showtime on Comcast) Oliver Stone’s surprisingly sympathetic and restrained portrait of the late Watergate president as a haunted man, surrounded by darkness, engineering his own destruction, yet also gifted and in some ways visionary. What brings it to life is Anthony Hopkins’s amazing performance, which humanizes Nixon more than he was able to humanize himself. Joan Allen’s Pat Nixon is a standout, too. (R; runs through April 1)

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