September 20, 2019

What’s on TV Wednesday: ‘The Spy’ and ‘In the Shadow of the Towers’

What’s on TV Wednesday: ‘The Spy’ and ‘In the Shadow of the Towers’


THE SPY Stream on Netflix. Sacha Baron Cohen, the actor best known for assuming false identities as the title characters of the satires “Borat” and “Bruno,” plays a man who himself is assuming a false identity in this six-part mini-series. That man would be Eli Cohen, the real-life Mossad spy who in the 1960s went undercover in Syria and gathered intelligence that is credited with being crucial to Israel’s victory in the Six-Day War. The series, directed by the Israeli filmmaker Gideon Raff, follows Eli Cohen (who is not related to the actor who portrays him) in the early 1960s as he poses as a Syrian shipping magnate. “I saw Eli Cohen, as he was written in the show, as an extreme version of myself,” Baron Cohen said in a recent interview with The New York Times. “The stakes were higher for him, because the price of failure is imprisonment and execution. Eli Cohen was, in that sense, the greatest method actor of the last century.”

GAMEFACE Stream on Hulu. “I’m not codependent,” the English comic Roisin Conaty says in the second season of this sitcom. “I’m old-fashioned needy.” The series stars Conaty as Marcella, a struggling actor who spent the first season searching for parts, taking advice from her life coach and recovering from a breakup. The second season, which aired in Britain earlier this year, sees Marcella continuing to pursue both her career and a potential romance with her driving instructor, Jon (Damien Molony).

25TH HOUR (2002) Rent on Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu and YouTube. About a decade before he helped bring George R.R. Martin’s fantasy novels to the screen as a creator of “Game of Thrones,” David Benioff adapted his own debut novel, “The 25th Hour,” into the screenplay for this film, which was directed by Spike Lee. The plot follows Monty, a drug dealer played by Edward Norton, during the day and night before he is to begin a prison sentence. Filmed in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the movie also acts as a kind of historical document of early 2000s New York. “If ‘25th Hour’ does not quite work as a plausible and coherent story, it produces a wrenching, dazzling succession of moods,” A.O. Scott wrote in his review for The Times. The ending, he added, “is as bittersweet and sincere an evocation of the American dream as I have seen on film in quite some time, acknowledging both the futility of the collective national fantasy and its consoling, resilient power.”

IN THE SHADOW OF THE TOWERS: STUYVESANT HIGH ON 9/11 (2019) 9 p.m. on HBO. This half-hour documentary revisits the events of Sept. 11, 2001, through interviews with some of the alumni of Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan who witnessed the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers. For younger audiences, WHAT HAPPENED ON SEPTEMBER 11, a documentary meant to introduce the events to audiences who hadn’t yet been born when they occurred, is airing on HBO Family at 6 p.m.



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