War of the Worlds (2019) | CBC Television
Joshua Chong, Senior Arts & Culture Editor
War of the Worlds, a new television series produced by Fox Networks Group in partnership with the French company StudioCanal, is a thrilling adaptation of H.G. Wells’ science fiction novel of the same name. With equal parts horror and family drama – and a fair dose of absurdism sprinkled in –, Howard Overman’s adaptation follows a group of survivors scattered across the United Kingdom and France after a deadly alien invasion wipes out most of civilization. The pace of the story is relentless, just like the robotic alien hounds that roam this dystopian world – hunting and exterminating any human within earshot. But the real winner in this TV series is the production quality. In a Herculean undertaking, War of the Worlds was filmed in three countries featuring stunning Hollywood-worthy cinematography – from desolate urban wastelands to the eerily quiet French Alps. The dozen actors of the ensemble cast – led by Gabriel Byrne and Elizabeth McGovern as a divorced couple now forced together amidst the alien invasion – are of an equal calibre. A not-to-be-missed show.
The Queen’s Gambit (2020) | Netflix
Vikram Nijhawan, Arts & Culture Staff Writer
The new Netflix miniseries The Queen’s Gambit, based on the novel of the same name by Walter Tevis, follows the life of American chess prodigy Elizabeth Harmon. The show sets a poignant female bildungsroman in a traditional Cold War milieu, pitting the precocious young Beth against a slew of Soviet grandmasters in her journey to become world champion. It’s rare to see chess portrayed accurately or effectively on-screen, let alone in a manner appealing to non-chess playing audiences – yet The Queen’s Gambit achieves both. Some high-caliber game choreography, combined with immersive set pieces of the era, a stunning musical score, and a sharp script, all serve to create a compelling character study. Anya-Taylor Joy’s Beth Harmon is poised to become this generation’s Bobby Fischer; but unlike her historic male counterpart, perhaps her dominance on the fictional chessboard will inspire other young girls to aspire toward success on the real one.
Terrace House: Opening New Doors (2017) | Netflix
Jessie Wu, Arts & Culture Staff Writer
Terrace House has been wildly popular with international and local viewers alike since its release in 2015. It is a Japanese reality television series centred on six inhabitants; in the 2017 season, Opening New Doors, these inhabitants lived in a suburban mansion in Karuizawa of the Nagano prefecture in Japan (in previous seasons, settings have included Tokyo and even Hawaii). The premise of the show follows the friendships (and possible relationships) of six Japanese-speaking strangers – three males and three females aged from teens to late twenties – who bond over daily trials and tribulations, including day jobs, household chores, and special concerts (if a current housemate happens to be a musician). This all sounds incredibly mundane – and perhaps that is its main appeal – but rest assured, drama arises from unexpected nooks and crannies in the live-in process, including watching members pursue romance, deal with differences in their personalities, and chase after their hopes and dreams. If you’re looking for a laid-back show to binge during your free time, look no further: Terrace House is about to become your new Netflix obsession.