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what to watch

Do you feel like you’re drowning … but you haven’t even left your couch? Welcome to the Great Content Overload Era. To help you navigate the choppy digital waves, here are The Globe’s best bets for weekend streaming.

Ripley, Netflix

Andrew Scott – the Irish actor who started his current rise to the top shelf of TV talent as the hot priest on Fleabag – playing Patricia Highsmith’s gay-coded confidence man Tom Ripley? I was sold right away on this Netflix series, but the overall execution of this eight-episode adaptation of The Talented Mr. Ripley from veteran screenwriter/director Steven Zaillian is even higher than expected. Shot in black and white, with a dry, dark sense of humour, this very savourable series (take your time with it!) also stars Johnny Flynn, Dakota Fanning and Eliot Sumner. It has suspenseful moments straight out of Hitchcock and a couple of choke-on-your-popcorn set pieces as deliciously devious as anything in the Coen brothers’ oeuvre. The early 1960s period is nailed – jump in fear once more at the ring of a rotary phone and recoil at the sight of a heavy ashtray – and then there’s the Italian settings, art and actors (Maurizio Lombardi’s laconic Inspector Ravini needs a spinoff). Instant prestige streaming-era classic.

Curb Your Enthusiasm, HBO/Crave, Sunday

Over a quarter of a century ago (!), Seinfeld concluded its run with an episode, scripted by Larry David, that saw all the main characters on trial for violating a Good Samaritan law in Massachusetts by not helping a stranger. Now, Curb Your Enthusiasm, which David says is really actually truthfully never coming back again after this Sunday’s episode, seems to be headed toward a finale that flips Seinfeld’s famously divisive one. David is on trial for being a Good Samaritan, having violated a (real) Georgia law by providing water to a woman waiting in line to vote. Will we get a satisfying resolution to all the loose threads – and finicky zippers – of Curb’s 12th and last instalment? Probably not, but we’re still going to tune in to see what finally gets David – the greatest comic misanthrope since the days of Molière – permanently cancelled.

Star Trek: Discovery, Paramount +

Starting a final season this week is this seventh Star Trek series, which premiered in 2017 after a fallow decade for Starfleet. Discovery kicked off an era of overgrowth in the Roddenberry patch (four other series; two live-action, two animated) inspired by all the other franchise sci-fi/fantasy/horror universes out there. This hasn’t always resulted in shows of the greatest quality, but it has led to a lot of work for Canadian actors, as much of this new era’s filming is done at Pinewood Toronto Studios. Callum Keith Rennie – a hard-working veteran of series from Due South to Californication – becomes the latest Canuck to get a steady paycheque from Discovery; he’s capping it off as a regular, playing a gruff, smart Starfleet captain named Rayner.

A Quiet Place, Paramount +

Before it was itself part of a sprawling sci-fi universe, A Quiet Place was just a small, smart, entirely original 2018 thriller starring Emily Blunt and John Krasinski (who also directed it). The premise is that aliens with no eyes but a great set of ears have invaded Earth. The only way for humans to survive is to keep as silent as possible. On a farm in upstate New York, one family, who has stayed alive this long owing to knowing American Sign Language, must avoid creaky floorboards and noisy toys to keep breathing. A sequel was released in 2020, and a couple other spinoffs are on the way this summer and next. Now, the stand-alone first is on Paramount+. Reviewing for The Globe when it first came out, Johanna Schneller wrote: “You’re so tense you’re almost nauseous, but it’s fun.”

Aline, CBC Gem

This film written, directed and starring Valérie Lemercier is not exactly a Celine Dion biopic. It’s a biopic of a completely different fictional Québécois singer named Aline Dieu, who just happens to also have 13 siblings and a much-older manager she eventually marries. Globe and Mail film critic Barry Hertz gave a Critic’s Pick to this “bananas” film when he reviewed it in 2022. Lemercier controversially employed a variety of low-budget tricks in order play the main character from ages 5 to 50. “It is a tremendously strange artistic decision – perhaps, generously, meant to convey some message about Dion’s old soul being attracted to manager/husband René Angélil – and it very may well repel some audiences completely,” Hertz wrote. “But like the best-worst Dion ballad, I embraced the operatic madness of it all.”

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