What to watch in the coming weeks, from a French espionage thriller to the action-packed world of MHZ Choice …
Returning June 18 for Season Five on Sundance Now, the loudly bravo’d French espionage thriller The Bureau (Le Bureau des Legendes) resembles a John Le Carré epic unfolding with urgent dispatch—a dense weave of tradecraft, covert ops, institutional in-fighting, wary alliances, and sudden irruptions that always remains taut and suspenseful, defying expectations at every turn. Primarily the tale of two spies—Mathieu Kassovitz’s Guillaume Debailly, codename “Malotru,” a wrung-dry veteran who returns to Paris after six years undercover in Syria, and Sara Giraudeau’s Marina, codename “Phenomene,” a pixie-haired novice whose first mission places her in Tehran, where she must do her best to appear innocuous—The Bureau is equally adept with the subtle intricacies of constructing a false identity and the topographical challenges of mounting a desert hostage rescue operation in ISIS territory. Never mind the next James Bond movie, this is the real goods.
Armchair detectives need never pry themselves from the sunken cushions again with a subscription to MHz Choice (available on Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Roku, etc.), which specializes in international crime, mystery, and political dramas scattered among sunny villas, gleaming executives suites, grubby back alleys, and fjords shrouded in existential malaise. It’s the go-to streaming destination for an extended fix of Detective Montelbano, based on the novels and stories of Andrea Camilleri, Agatha Christie’s Criminal Games, Maigret (starring Bruno Cremer, the finest interpreter of Georges Simenon’s phlegmatic inspector), and newer originals with high body counts and unearthed secrets. As a wild card this spring, MHz Choice presents Arde Madrid: Burn Madrid Burn, a black-and-white period romp about a woman hired as a housemaid to spy on Ava Gardner (Younger’s own Debi Mazar!), whose all-night bacchanals foil the sleep of one of her neighbors: exiled Argentine dictator Juan Perón. How Ryan Murphy didn’t pounce on this first is beyond me.
James Wolcott is a columnist for Air Mail