THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT (NETFLIX): is a soaring series, devoted to the intricacies of chess, and the fragility of human nature; orphaned at the age of nine, “Beth Harmon” (Isla Johnston/Anya Taylor-Joy) discovers in the bowels of the orphanage a maintenance man (“Mr. Shaibel”, depicted brilliantly by Bill Camp) whose dedication to the game of chess, ignites a passion that steers her inordinate ambition and desire to champion the male dominated sport. Drugs and alcohol flirt with her possible unseating, vanquishment, lending spellbinding hubris to this not-to-be-missed series. FOUR & ½ STARS!!!!
THE UNDOING (HBO): a mannered, minimally sensational series starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant (worthy of the investment); upscale New Yorkers, idyllically married, professionals with a child in private school (Noah Jupe is profound); a woman is murdered, a husband goes missing, chaos and uncertainty lend enough intrigue to continue, which in days of yore, escapable, but in today’s era, watchable. THREE STARS!!!
BARBARIANS (NETFLIX): satisfies those with a bloodlust for brutality, decapitation, gory confrontations; referencing the historical strife between the Romans and the “barbarians” (Germanic people in the year 9 AD); compelling acting in tandem with a scintillating tale infused with surprising circuitry; heroes, heroine exponentially gain empathy or ire. THREE & ½ STARS!!!
TEHRAN (APPLE TV): scorches with its timeliness regarding Israel’s and Iran’s nuclear relationship; created by Moshe Zonder Dana (“Fauda”) and Eden Maor Kohn, directed by Daniel Syrkin focuses on a Mossad agent “Tamar Rabinyan” (stunning, sensitive Niv Sultan) who, with computer artistry, sagaciously tries to demolish Iran’s nuclear reactor. “Tehran” is staggering in depicting the “grey” areas, vulnerabilities of the protagonists. Actor Shaun Toub is massively compelling as “Faraz Kamali”, Iranian security official, an antagonist of many layers, who is riveting, captivating, splendid in his portrayal. FOUR & ½ STARS!!!!