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Review: Britbox profiles Richard Harris and Peter O’Toole

There have been anecdotes, legends and cautionary tales galore about the uncommonly talented generation of British, Irish and Scottish actors who came roaring out of the theater in the 1950s and ’60s before dominating movie screens for the next few decades. Two new documentaries on BritBox — Adrian Sibley’s “The Ghost of Richard Harris” and Jim Sheridan’s “Peter O’Toole: Along the Sky Road to Aqaba” — recount the wild lives of these all-time greats, giving both their talents and their troubles their due.

“The Ghost of Richard Harris” strings together clips from the actor’s films and talk show appearances, using snippets of old audio interviews and comments from Harris’ peers to fill in some of the gaps. What really grounds the documentary is Sibley’s footage of Harris’ sons, Jared, Jamie and Damien, sorting through their father’s effects and sharing their impressions of who he was. Sibley doesn’t shy away from the parts of the Harris saga that don’t paint him in the best light: the drunken nights, the cocaine binges, the fights, the affairs, the petty squabbles with co-stars and collaborators. The kids, though, describe a loving father and a committed artist, who couldn’t have accomplished all that he did if he was as out of control as the press believed.

Sheridan, who directed Harris to an Oscar nomination in “The Field,” is interviewed at length in “The Ghost of Richard Harris.” His “Along the Sky Road to Aqaba” similarly mixes clips with in-depth interviews in profiling O’Toole. Sheridan leans heavily on comments from the wave of U.K. actors who arrived right after Harris and O’Toole — including Anthony Hopkins, Brian Cox, Derek Jacobi and Brian Blessed. “Along the Sky Road to Aqaba” also features rare and thrilling footage from O’Toole’s stage work, where much of his reputation was made.

Like Sibley, Sheridan doesn’t ignore the ways O’Toole could be destructive, both to himself and to anyone who got close enough to love him. But these thoughtful and engaging documentaries really consider the totality of these men. Sometimes they were a problem. Sometimes they were a delight. Always they were brilliant.

‘The Ghost of Richard Harris.’ Not rated. 1 hour, 46 minutes. Available on Britbox. ‘Peter O’Toole: Along the Sky Road to Aqaba.’ Not rated. 1 hour, 30 minutes. Available on Britbox.

‘You Can Live Forever’

The best love stories aren’t just about passion; they’re about belonging. In the heady early days of a romance, a big part of the rush is that feeling of having finally found someone who understands you in an otherwise cold and alienating world. That’s what happens with Jaime (Anwen O’Driscoll) and Marike (June Laporte) in the coming-of-age drama “You Can Live Forever,” co-written and co-directed by Mark Slutsky and Sarah Watts, based on Watts’ memories of growing up gay in a tight-knit Jehovah’s Witness community. Jaime — a pot-smoking indie-rock aficionado — gets shipped off to a quaint Quebec suburb to live with her very religious aunt and uncle after her father dies. There, she bonds with Marike, who fervently believes that if they both keep the faith, they can spend eternity together in paradise.

There’s a lot of rigidity to the plotting and style of “You Can Live Forever,” which often comes across as flat and programmatic, moving inexorably to the moment when these two teens have their flirtations exposed and squashed. But there are also times when that stiffness works to the movie’s advantage, reflecting the hesitation of Jaime and Marike, who aren’t sure how far they can go with their displays of affection for each other before they’ll get into trouble. Slutsky and Watts precisely capture how it feels for Jaime and Marike to be penned in by the obligations and expectations of their families and congregations — as well as their response in reaching out to each other, mutually pining for something more than a life as a dutiful daughter.

‘You Can Live Forever.’ Not rated. 1 hour, 36 minutes. Available on VOD

Available now on DVD and Blu-ray

“Superman 1978-1987 5-Film Collection” includes all the movies starring Christopher Reeve as the Man of Steel, including two different cuts of 1980’s “Superman II,” which until the modern era of comic book adaptations often topped lists of the greatest superhero movies ever made. The box set comes loaded with commentary tracks, deleted scenes and vintage featurettes, plus a healthy assortment of classic Superman cartoons. Warner Bros.

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