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.
Fleishman Is in Trouble (Disney+ with Star)
Five episodes in, and I’m now hooked on Fleishman Is in Trouble, Taffy Brodesser-Akner’s spry adaptation of her own novel about the implosion of a fortysomething New York couple played by Jesse Eisenberg and Claire Danes. Initially, the series felt far too tethered to leading man Eisenberg’s many innate Woody Allen-isms. But as Brodesser-Akner started to expand her Upper East Side world, including adding layers to her own stand-in character played by Lizzy Caplan, the characters began to click together instead of annoyingly cluck on their own. Hopefully the series is done with its run of embarrassing flashbacks – Eisenberg might be able to play himself as a college student, but Danes and co-star Adam Brody can no longer pass for under-30 – and starts to hone in more on the unknown future that the Fleishmans face.
When Jonah Hill announced this past August that he was taking a break from promoting his movies to work on his mental health, the moment didn’t quite register. Okay, good for you, man, we’ll be patient. But after watching Stutz, Hill’s first documentary (and his second directorial effort after Mid90s), the decision hits harder. Essentially a loving but not hagiographic portrait of his psychiatrist Phil Stutz, Hill’s film is as much a tribute to the man who saved Hill from himself, but also an attempt to figure out just what happens when two strangers sequester themselves in a room to reveal themselves. The bitter irony: With Hill electing to sit PR duties out indefinitely, Netflix has remained whisper-quiet about promoting Stutz, leaving curious Hill fans to somehow stumble upon the doc themselves.
The Banshees of Inisherin (Disney+ with Star)
If you are looking for any evidence of the specialty film market’s collapse, Exhibit A might be how quickly it has taken Martin McDonagh’s The Banshees of Inisherin, easily the art-house hit of the fall, to go from theatres (Oct. 24) to streaming (Dec. 14). I guess if no one wants to pay to see the delightfully dark comedy in cinemas, maybe we can all help boost Disney’s streaming numbers. Either way, The Banshees deserves full attention for a standout performance from Colin Farrell as Padraic, an Irish farmer in 1923 who is suddenly declared persona non grata by his best friend, Colm (Brendan Gleeson). What follows is a tale of soured friendship, world-weary regret, and bloody comeuppance.
Till (on-demand, including Apple TV and Google Play)
Two stars are born in Till, a wrenching new drama that explores the aftermath of 14-year-old Emmett Till’s horrific assault and lynching in 1955 Mississippi – punishment, the story went at the time, for the young Black boy daring to whistle at a white woman. The first is filmmaker Chinonye Chukwu, who quickly and confidently establishes a visual language in her third feature that is startling – all prolonged close-ups, mirror images, and a keen sense that what is not captured onscreen is just as important as what is. The second star is Danielle Deadwyler, who plays Emmett’s mother Mamie with such a profound and raw intensity that the actress (best known until now for Station Eleven) instantly cements her status as one of the most exciting performers working today.
W1A (CBC Gem)
The cult favourite of every other working journalist today – its name is whispered with hushed reverence in certain corners of The Globe and Mail, I can reveal – the BBC’s satire of well, itself, is now available to binge for free on CBC Gem, which come to think of it could also use a meta-satire about itself. Although maybe Ken Finkelman’s The Newsroom already accomplished this two decades ago. Any way, the mockumentary series W1A requires neither a background in journalism or deep knowledge of British broadcasting arcana to appreciate its icy comedy about the perilous business of keeping a nation informed about itself.