Skip to main content
screen time

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.

Naga (Netflix)

Open this photo in gallery:

Adwa Bader in Naga.Netflix

Playing like a cross between Martin Scorsese’s After Hours and the Safdie brothers’ Good Time, the new Riyadh-set thriller, Naga, marks the startling debut of Saudi Arabian filmmaker Meshal Aljaser. Opening with a harrowing act of patriarchal violence before settling (in a sense) into a nerve-wracking race against the clock, Naga operates at a kind of harrowing speed that is both impressive and dizzying.

Defying the beyond-strict household laws of her father, the twentysomething Sarah (Adwa Bader) pushes the boundaries of her curfew to go on a secret date with her boyfriend – a calculated risk that quickly metastasizes into full-blown chaos at an underground party they attend in the desert.

While sometimes too frenetic for its own good when it comes to sketching out just who Sarah is as a character, Aljaser’s film is impressively exhilarating stuff, including the director’s decision to add a rabid camel into the mix. Bonus: There’s one scene near the end that will likely convert you into a lifelong vegetarian.

Joy Ride (Crave)

Open this photo in gallery:

Sabrina Wu, Sherry Cola, Stephanie Hsu and Ashley Park in Joy Ride.Ed Araquel/Lionsgate/Handout

A road-trip movie that’s universal in its comedic appeal but specific in its cultural touchstones, Joy Ride got undeservedly lost during its theatrical release this past summer. The feature directorial debut of Adele Lim (screenwriter of Crazy Rich Asians) follows two best friends, serious lawyer Audrey (Ashley Park) and her wannabe artist best friend, Lolo (Sherry Cola).

The pair have been close since childhood, bonding as the only two Chinese kids in their Washington State town, but Audrey’s professional ambitions are threatening to divide the two. The two find an opportunity to maintain their bond, though, when Audrey is sent by her firm on a business trip to Beijing in order to sign a rich new client, with Lolo tagging along.

Like Superbad – or any of the better R-rated comedies of the past few decades – Joy Ride operates with as lewd a mind as it does a big, bursting heart. The ridiculousness of the story, and the occasional sloppiness of the pacing, work because Lim and her two writers (Family Guy veterans Cherry Chevapravatdumrong and Teresa Hsiao) ensure that the film is driven by warm, relatable characters.

So you actually care whether or not they get that last smuggled condom of cocaine out of their buttholes.

Frances Ha (MUBI)

Open this photo in gallery:

Mickey Sumner and Greta Gerwig in Frances Ha.IFC

What better way to cap off the Year of Greta Gerwig than taking a closer look at her pre-Barbie career? The unrivalled charm and wit of the triple threat is on full display in this 2012 comedy, directed by Gerwig’s future life partner, Noah Baumbach, and widely considered the actor’s breakout moment, or at the very least the crucial stepping stone out of her microbudget mumblecore indie era.

Delightfully wry and filmed in crisp black and white, Frances Ha follows sometimes dancer Frances as she stumbles from one only-in-New-York crisis to the next, trying to find stability in her living conditions and romantic situations. Co-starring future Gerwig/Baumbach conspirator Adam Driver, and as bouncy as it is carefully crafted, Frances Ha is the perfect reminder that the Gerwig’s next-level Barbie vision didn’t just appear out of thin air.

The Holdovers (on-demand, including Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play)

Open this photo in gallery:

Paul Giamatti in The Holdovers.Courtesy of FOCUS FEATURES/The Associated Press

I’m semi-sure that someone at U.S. distributor Focus Features knows what they’re doing by releasing Alexander Payne’s wonderful new dramedy, The Holdovers, to the digital market while it’s still building steady word-of-mouth for its theatrical release. If you’d rather not venture out to theatres to see this – even though you really should! – well, here’s what just might be a new holiday classic, right at your fingertips.

Sitting somewhere between About Schmidt’s title character and the grumpy grandpa of Nebraska in the great Payne canon of curmudgeons, The Holdovers’s Paul Hunham is a seventies-era prep-school history teacher who lives to humiliate his students. And as embodied by Paul Giamatti, Hunham becomes one of the great characters of 2023 cinema, a jerk of the highest order who is ripe for redemption.

Whistler Film Festival online

Open this photo in gallery:

Québécois director Monia Chokri’s The Nature of LoveFred Gervais/Immina Films

The in-person portion of this year’s Whistler Film Festival will have just wrapped by the time you read this, but that doesn’t mean those who weren’t able to make the chilly trek to B.C. can’t enjoy the fest’s eclectic programming. From now through Dec. 17, an avalanche worth of WFF titles will be available on-demand through the festival’s digital portal, which can be accessed by viewers across the country.

Canadian-made highlights include Québécois director Monia Chokri’s quirky and often deeply sexy rom-com, The Nature of Love; the effectively unsettling documentary, Rojek, in which Montreal-based director Zayne Aykol conducts jailhouse interviews with Islamic State fighters; and Burning Season, the latest relationship dramedy from Sean Garrity (The End of Sex, My Awkward Sexual Adventure).

Follow related authors and topics

Authors and topics you follow will be added to your personal news feed in Following.

Interact with The Globe