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.
The Pigeon Tunnel (Apple TV+)
Nearly as entertaining as documentarian Errol Morris’s recent and highly adversarial interview with The New York Times Magazine – if you haven’t read it yet, I’ll take no offence if you navigate away from this page to briefly check out the competition – The Pigeon Tunnel is appointment viewing for all kinds of audiences. Documentary fans will find Morris near the top of his irascible game here, deftly interrogating spy novelist David Cornwell (a.k.a. John le Carré) about his life and career. Fans of le Carré's Cold War classics will get to chew on details of life inside the espionage bubble. And anyone who enjoys a good guessing game will get enjoyably lost trying to parse when le Carré is telling the truth, and when he is applying the rules of his characters – or perhaps his own father, who was something of a con man himself.
While it would be ideal to watch The Pigeon Tunnel with a packed audience filled with captivated Morris or le Carré devotees – as was the case during the film’s premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival last month, the entire audience seemingly holding its breath as the men on-screen batted each other back and forth – a viewing in the comfort of your own home isn’t half bad, either.
The Burial (Prime Video)
Another under-the-radar TIFF premiere that speeds its way to the streaming market, Maggie Betts’s courtroom dramedy The Burial arrives on Prime Video after the most blink-and-you’ll-miss-it theatrical release in recent memory. Did anyone outside the projection staff at the TIFF Bell Lightbox even realize that the film – led by real-deal movie stars Jamie Foxx and Tommy Lee Jones – just completed a one-week run there? Perhaps Amazon Studios is embarrassed, but it’s not clear why. While not remotely an instant classic, Betts’s film is the kind of rousing old-school David versus Goliath legal battle that gets the audience on its side immediately – a kind of blue-plate special of a movie that “they just don’t make any more.”
Based on a true story, The Burial stars Jones as Jeremiah, the owner of a small-time funeral parlour who comes up against corporate malfeasance (personified by the always wonderful character actor Bill Camp). Facing an uphill battle, Jeremiah enlists hot-shot personal injury lawyer Willie (Foxx) to take the case on. A great deal of crowd-pleasing showmanship ensues, with Foxx in particular delivering a fist-pumping performance that is as calculated as it is full-hearted.
Adapted from David Chariandy’s award-winning 2017 novel of the same name, Clement Virgo’s new film is a special work to be cherished and pored over for generations to come – an instantly essential addition to the Toronto cinema canon. A deceptively simple story unfurled and then woven back into three separate timelines, Brother follows the lives of the charismatic, swaggering Francis and the hopelessly sensitive and meek Michael, two siblings who are as attached to one another as they are temperamentally opposed. Things come to a head one sweltering night in 1991, a climax that might feel predictable but is given intense emotional weight by Virgo’s fluid approach to time and memory. This is a story whose construction pivots on purposeful pauses and gaps, as if recalled through the hazy mist of a late-summer dream. Read review
Bodies Bodies Bodies (Prime Video)
An Agatha Christie mystery drenched in the neon-bright colours of a TikTok video, Bodies Bodies Bodies is a thoroughly entertaining Halloween-timed offering that doesn’t tax your brain or patience. The film opens at the secluded mansion belonging to the parents of spoiled coke-head David (Pete Davidson), where his friends have gathered to ride out an incoming storm. There’s the recovering addict Sophie (Amandla Stenberg), her new girlfriend Bee (Maria Bakalova), the mistrustful Jordan (Myha’la Herrold), David’s insecure girlfriend Emma (Chase Sui Wonders), ditzy Alice (Rachel Sennott), and Alice’s last-minute Tinder date, the decades-older mystery man Greg (Lee Pace). While playing a fake-murder game to lighten the mood, wouldn’t you know that a real dead body drops in their midst. Which is exactly when the power goes out, and when the real bloody fun begins.
Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning: Part One (on-demand, including Apple TV, Google Play, Cineplex Store)
Tom Cruise might not have triumphed at the summer box office like he did last year with Top Gun: Maverick, but he did pull off the heroic feat of keeping his latest Mission: Impossible movie in theatres and away from digital services for far longer than is normal these days. Now, after three months, everyone else can watch the star’s latest and most fabulously titled gamble with the Grim Reaper.
This seventh spy spectacle features Cruise – not a stunt double or an AI-engineered deep-fake facsimile – double-daring himself to near-death. He runs atop a terminal at Abu Dhabi’s airport, races a Fiat 500 through the slippery streets of Rome, engages in a knife fight while standing on the top of a speeding train, and rides a motorbike off the edge of a cliff before ditching that bike to execute a high-risk BASE jump with only a six-second window before impact. (That last feat took a year of rehearsals, with 500 skydives and 13,000 motocross jumps.) There are no green screens, no shortcuts, no clones of Cruise waiting in the wings, Prestige-style. Only one man and his death wish. Which makes the iron will of Tom Cruise the most extraordinary stunt of the film – and of contemporary blockbuster filmmaking. Read review.