What a difference a month makes.
Many of us thought we’d be spending less time at home by now and then, bam, life hits you square in the jaw.
So, let’s make the best of it. Here’s what new to the streaming services in August, including some cracking films and intriguing series.
Lovecraft Country (Foxtel Now /Binge*, August 9): Based on Matt Ruff’s 2016 novel, Lovecraft Country follows a black family’s journey through 1950s segregation-era southern US to find their missing father. But they’re stalked not just by the literal Lovecraftian monsters but the equally damning horrors of racist hate.
Ted Lasso (Apple TV+, August 14): From Jason Sudeikis and Scrubs creator Bill Lawrence, this new show is a fish-out-of-water comedy about an American football coach hired to lead a professional soccer team in England. He, of course, has no idea what he’s doing.
Little Birds S1 (Stan, August 5): Inspired by Anais Nin’s collection of erotic short stories, Little Birds balances political intrigue with hedonism and drama. Set in colonial Tangiers in 1955, it follows the story of debutante Lucy Savage (Juno Temple) who arrives on a boat, expecting to meet her husband. But it’s not the welcome she had imagined, thrusting her into the bowels of the exotic city, chancing upon experiences she never thought possible.
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I’ll Be Gone In The Dark (Foxtel Now/Binge, August 9): Comedian Patton Oswalt’s late wife Michelle McNamara left a formidable legacy when she unexpectedly died some years ago, which is the subject of this true crime doco. An internet sleuth, she had been obsessively investigating the Golden State Killer, trying to unearth the serial murderer’s identity.
Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story (Netflix, August 14): Moving on from Eric Bana’s manipulative and charismatic con-man, the second season of now anthology series Dirty John pivots to the true crime story of Betty Broderick, who is currently serving her sentence for killing her husband and his lover. Stars Amanda Peet, Christian Slater and Rachel Keller.
Cobra Kai S1-2 (Netflix, August 28): The well-reviewed Karate Kid sequel series, Cobra Kai, was one of those shows many people wanted to watch – but maybe not enough to pay for a YouTube Premium (formerly YouTube Red) account. Now, YouTube said it’s getting out the scripted game, which means the first two seasons of Cobra Kai, and the upcoming third season, is moving to Netflix. It stars original cast members Ralph Macchio and William Zabka.
About Time (Foxtel Now, August 13): This delightful, under-appreciated romantic comedy is a fresh and winning entry in a beloved genre. It stars Rachel McAdams, Domhnall Gleeson and was written and directed by Richard Curtis. There’s a standard boy meets girl framework but the twist is the boy (Gleeson) comes from a family where the men can time travel. While that sounds like a gimmick, About Time makes it work like a charm, and sneaks in an emotional story about fatherhood too.
Brabham (Stan, August 7): Australian F1 driver Jack Brabham is a legend in the sport and remains to this day the only person to win a championship in a car he created. This doco looks into his life and legacy, and the effect his determination and drive had on his family, and features archival footage and exclusive interviews.
Battlestar Galactica S1-4 (Stan, August 14): While its political allegories are not as searingly relevant as it was when it first came out in the post-9/11 era, this “reimagining” of a cheesy space opera is still really smart storytelling. Centred on a group of human refugees in space after an apocalyptic event set off by artificial intelligent machines, it’s the intersection of human perseverance and the question of destiny.
Hungry Ghosts (SBS On Demand, August 24): Literal and emotional ghosts abound in SBS’s Australian miniseries, which will stream (and be broadcast) over four nights. Set among the Vietnamese-Australian community, the past is dredged up in a haunted story about generational trauma. Stars Catherine Van-Davies, Bryan Brown and Gareth Yuen.
Portrait Of A Lady On Fire (Stan, August 22): A charged love story, writer and director Celine Sciamma’s drama is so far from a corsetted period piece. Rather, this intimate story of an 18th century painter and her reticent subject is alive with passion and beauty. You won’t have seen anything quite like this before.
I Am Woman (Stan, August 28): Premiering at Toronto International Film Festival last year, this biopic of Australian singer Helen Reddy was supposed to have been released in cinemas, but is among the many movies that moved to streaming instead. It stars Tilda Cobham-Hervey as the feminist icon, charting her story as she moves to the US as a 24-year-old with a kid and $230.
Orphan Black S1-5 (Amazon Prime, August 1): Packed with conspiracies involving secret eugenics experiments, this gripping sci-fi series will keep you guessing all the way to the end. But the real draw is lead actor and chameleon Tatiana Maslany who played a dozen clones over the course of the series, all with their own distinct personalities and quirks. And she’s never stronger than when’s playing against herself in a scene – what a marvel.
Knives Out (Amazon Prime, August 26): Intricately plotted and extremely compelling, Rian Johnson’s cracking murder mystery involves the death of a family patriarch and a pool of suspects with motives. It’s a fresh take on a classic whodunnit with an absolutely stacked cast including Toni Collette, Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis, Daniel Craig, LaKeith Stanfield, Christopher Plummer, Don Johnson, Michael Shannon and Ana de Armas.
World’s Toughest Race: Eco-Challenge Fiji (Amazon Prime, August 14): Spanning challenges across mountains, rivers, oceans and jungle thickets, Bear Grylls claims this adventure race is his most intense yet. The 10-episode docuseries features 66 teams from 30 countries race non-stop for 11 days in Fiji – a real test of human endurance.
Short Term 12 (SBS On Demand, August 1): Just Mercy director Destin Daniel Cretton is currently riding out the pandemic in Sydney, waiting for production for Marvel movie Shang Chi to restart. But before you get to see that spectacle, familiarise yourself with Cretton’s well-received breakout film about a young woman working at a group home for troubled youths. It features Brie Larson in her first big role and was notable for casting a slate of young, then-little-known actors who would go on to be stars, including Rami Malek, LaKeith Stanfield and Kaitlyn Dever.
Cold War (SBS On Demand, August 2): Polish director Pawel Pawlikowski’s (Ida) haunting, epic post-war love story is a seductive, beguiling dance between two lovers who meet in a Stalinist musical propaganda group, selling some wholesome folkloric version of national identity that doesn’t exist. But political oppression doesn’t make love simple, and this visually striking black-and-white film follows the lovers across countries and over decades. Heart-wrenching.
Burning (SBS On Demand, August 10): Perhaps Oscar winner Parasitewas your first foray into Korean cinema. Well, don’t stop there. Lee Chang-dong’s 2019 film Burning is a handsome, haunting masterpiece of trauma, an evocative slow-burn movie that conjures up a feeling of unease all the way through. It’s the story of a poor, rural, aspiring writer in a love triangle with a former classmate and her rich, urban boyfriend.
The One And Only Ivan (Disney+, August 21): Adapted from a beloved children’s novel about a silverback gorilla and the baby elephant he takes care of in a Big Top troupe, it’s a CGI live action movie featuring the voices of Sam Rockwell, Brooklynn Prince, Danny DeVito, Phillipa Soo and Angelina Jolie, plus performances from Bryan Cranston and Ramon Rodriguez. Looks to be a tear-jerking family flick.
Ding Dong I’m Gay (YouTube, now): Brash and unapologetic, this six-part short-format series is a fun and winning Australian production. Cameron is a gay man trying to be his best self in the city when his rural, naïve, newly out cousin Toby arrives, all smiles and libido revving. When Toby has more luck bedding new paramours, it makes Cameron confront his own insecurities.
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