Before you turn on your television, iPad or laptop this weekend and drown in options, The Globe and Mail presents three best cinematic bets that are worth your coveted downtime – no commute to the movie theatre required.
Wild Rose (Amazon Prime)
My tear ducts were powerless against this movie’s preoccupation with transcendently beautiful singing and fraught mother-daughter relationships. A Scottish musical-drama about an aspiring country singer, Wild Rose is a smaller, quieter version of the star-is-born story. It opens as Rose-Lynn Harlan (Jessie Buckley), a single mother of two young children, has been released from prison on drug-smuggling charges. She dreams of Nashville but lives in Glasgow, and has a tendency to self-destruct, but her talent is undeniable. The movie is stuffed with earworms from Emmylou Harris, Bonnie Raitt, Wynonna Judd and Patty Griffin, and Buckley’s performance will knock you out – particularly if you, like me, primarily associate the Irish singer and actress with her role as the ailing queen in Robert Downey Jr.’s Dolittle, for which she was required to be unconscious for the bulk of the film. She’s wide awake in this one.
You will need a Starz subscription to access this semi-autobiographical series on Crave, but trust me – it’s worth it. Stand-up comedian Ramy Youssef, also the show’s creator, stars as a twentysomething Egyptian-American in the midst of a spiritual crisis. He lives with his family in New Jersey, but this isn’t a story about a second-generation American testing the limits of his parents’ faith. He’s both modern and devout; he yearns to be set up with a nice Muslim girl, and struggles to figure out how to balance his overlapping identities. The show is more thoughtful than laugh-out-loud funny, but it handles its soul-searching subject matter with a light touch. As a bonus, Succession’s Hiam Abbass, as Ramy’s mother, has a fantastic standalone episode. (If this show alone is not enough to convince you to sign up for Starz, which costs an extra $5.99 a month, allow me to recommend a few more that are only available with the add-on: the fun new remake of High Fidelity; the excellent docu-series America to Me; Survivor’s Remorse, a criminally underrated comedy about a newly minted basketball star; and Party Down, one of my absolute favourite TV series ever.)
Jane the Virgin (Netflix)
It’s been less than a year since this heartwarming CW original aired its last episode, and I miss it every day. Jane the Virgin, which stars Gina Rodriguez as a young Venezuelan-American woman who is accidentally artificially inseminated, was based on an early-2000s Venezuelan telenovela. The show is playful about its origins: one of its most distinctive features is the “Latin lover” narrator, who both describes and comments on the action. And the action is soap-opera nutty – births, deaths and mistaken identities abound. The show is zippy and bubbly, with breakneck pacing and some of the most vibrant and original production design in recent TV memory. But below the surface, Jane the Virgin is also bracingly realistic about parenthood, work-life balance, relationships, and, yes, sex. Tender, fun, and expertly plotted, it’s perfect multigenerational viewing.
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