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.
Mrs. Davis (Crave/CTV Sci-Fi Channel)
A series like Mrs. Davis only comes around once in a few years – because if television networks delivered a production as ridiculous and silly and whiplash-inducing with any more regular frequency, audiences’ brains might break and never recover. A collaboration between two seemingly unlikely TV giants – Damon Lindelof of Lost and Tara Hernandez of The Big Bang Theory – Mrs. Davis takes place in a near-future in which the title character, the world’s most powerful Artificial Intelligence, has brought peace to the world. Everyone has the job they want, the life they want. But a horse-riding nun named Simone (Betty Gilpin of Netflix’s GLOW) thinks otherwise, and is on mission to destroy Mrs. Davis before the world falls completely under her/its spell. The first episode introduces a Mad Libs-esque wealth of elements: rogue magicians, underground freedom fighters, German roughnecks and a convent whose business plan is upended by Mrs. Davis in one fell swoop. I’m quite sure you won’t see another thing on television like it, at least for the next decade.
Peter Pan & Wendy (Disney+)
It is not an especially promising sign that Disney decided to send this latest reimagining of Peter Pan not to theatres but straight to streaming. Even though it looks as if it cost quite a bit and boasts both a big star (Jude Law as Captain Hook) and a favoured director (David Lowery, who did excellent work on Disney’s 2016 live-action redo of Pete’s Dragon), something must be ... off. Unfortunately review copies weren’t available before this column’s deadline, but I’m going to give Peter Pan & Wendy a cautious recommendation based on Lowery’s excellent reputation and early critical buzz alone. At the very least, the film cannot be as bad as 2015′s Pan starring Hugh Jackman as Hook, nor as exhaustingly whimsical as 2020′s Wendy from Beasts of the Southern Wild director Benh Zeitlin.
Decision to Leave (Mubi)
Paced with a precise sort of languorousness, the new South Korean murder mystery Decision to Leave from director Park Chan-wook (Oldboy) may leave some audiences feeling wobbly, uncertain of where the Hitchcockian story is going or if it even intends to land anywhere close to a destination. Myriad, but minor-key, swerves and detours further confuse the journey. But the ultimate ride is well worth any destabilization, especially given how much control Park exercises over every single frame of his work. This is meticulous, beautiful filmmaking that is rich in meaning and fat with detail. Surrender to Park’s smoky, dangerous romance.
Essex County (CBC Gem)
Given that we haven’t yet heard much crowing from the CBC’s publicity department, it’s hard to say whether the ambitious adaptation of Jeff Lemire’s graphic novel has been the outsized ratings hit the network was hoping for. But from a storytelling perspective, the five-part series has hit hard. Chronicling a handful of interconnected characters – a nurse, a young boy who lost his parents, a one-time hockey star – in rural Ontario across generations, Essex County is powerful work that reminds you how potent Canadian television can be when in the right hands. Catch up with the entire series now on CBC Gem. Read feature.
Mad Max: Fury Road (Netflix)
Despite that blip of warm weather in Toronto the other week, it’s not quite summer yet. But perhaps we can will the mercury higher by queuing up this title, easily the best summer action movie to ever come around. Two hours of fiery wall-to-wall vehicular carnage, Fury Road is as pure a shot of adrenaline as the cinematic medium allows. And nearly everything on-screen – from the monstrous War Rig to the fire-spewing guitar player known as The Doof – is real-deal CGI-free mayhem. While Miller is preparing a follow-up – which may take as long as the 30-year gap between this film and 1985′s Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome – I can’t imagine that he will ever top the awe-inspiring action of Fury Road. Read review.