Ever feel like there’s too much to watch, and you don’t know where to start? Well don’t worry. Our Film & TV editor Hidzir Junaini will be rounding up only the very best things to hit your screens at the end of every month! Skip the mediocre and delve right into the good stuff.
Polish director Jan Komasa’s absorbing film of spiritual struggle follows 20-year-old Daniel, an ex-con who dreams of joining the clergy, but cannot because of his criminal past. So instead, he impersonates a priest and becomes a pillar of a small-town community. His unorthodox take on holiness seems to have a positive impact on his unsuspecting flock, who are devastated by grief after a terrible accident. Led by a terrific performance from Bartosz Bielenia, Corpus Christi is a blistering morality play about comforting lies, ugly truths, earned penance, and pious hypocrisy.
Beautiful, delirious and idiosyncratic – Charlie Kaufman’s latest film is an audaciously creative existential minefield (like all his films). Based on Iain Reid’s 2016 novel, this surreal film follows a young woman who takes a road trip with her faux-intellectual boyfriend to his family farm. Filled with thoughts of breaking up, everything she understands begins to unravel around her. I’m Thinking of Ending Things isa solipsistic dive into the rift between the mind and the world that’s filtered through it – as well as an impressionistic meditation on aging, reality and regret.
This lean, mean, and brutal Irish crime fable from director Nick Rowland follows Douglas “Arm” Armstrong, an ex-boxer turned feared enforcer for the drug-dealing Devers family. When his ruthless employers order him to kill for the first time, Arm is torn between his loyalties and his humanity. Despite the film’s savage and hyper-masculine world, Calm With Horses is a moving morality tale featuring powerful performances from its leads, Barry Keoghan and Cosmo Jarvis. Combining visual flair with sharp character studies, this tragicomic thriller is absolutely gripping.
A high school senior named Veronica discovers she’s pregnant, and also discovers that it’s illegal to get an abortion in her state without a parent’s consent. Unpregnant follows Veronica as she teams up with her former best friend on a road trip to Albuquerque to have the procedure done. Rachel Lee Goldenberg’s buddy comedy might sound like a lighter spin on Never Rarely Sometimes Always, but it earns its own hard truths along with big laughs. Bolstered by winning performances, this film about female autonomy and friendship will delight as much as it stings.
Ramona S. Diaz’s fantastic documentary follows a group of intrepid Filipino journalists – led by the unshakable Maria Ressa – who for years now has been suffering constant harassment from the controversial President Rodrigo Duterte and his followers. A Thousand Cuts is partly an alarming examination of the social media disinformation campaigns and brutal crackdown on the press in the Philippines. But it’s also an inspiring portrait of an extraordinary woman (among other brave reporters), who cheerfully goes about exposing the truth despite ugly intimidation.
In search of a better life, 8-year-olds Max and Leo are taken by their mother from Mexico to Albuquerque in the United States. While waiting for her to return from work, the kids listen to tales, rules of conduct and English lessons recorded by their mother on an old tape recorder while stuck in a squalid apartment. They also build an imaginary universe with their drawings and dream about mom’s promise of going to Disneyland. Samuel Kishi Leopo’s naturalistic Los Lobos explores the hopes and hardships of migrant life through a wondrous child’s-eye-view.
Directed by Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui, this inspiring documentary tells the extraordinary story of the Paralympic Games. From the rubble of World War II to the third biggest sporting event on the planet, the Paralympics sparked a global movement which continues to change the way the world thinks about disability, diversity and human potential. Moving but never weepy, this portrait of the adversities and triumphs faced by the Paralympics’ best is a stirring spectacle of speed, strength and skill that shatters your preconceptions of diabled athletes being lesser.
Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter reunite for a most excellent sequel! This third entry into the goofy Bill & Ted franchise. Once prophesied to save the universe with their rock and roll, we now find the middle-aged best friends caught up with family responsibilities. Yet to fulfill their destinies, Bill & Ted embark on a new time travel adventure (with the aid of their daughters) to seek the song that will set their world right and bring harmony in the universe as we know it. This sweet, fun and charming movie zips alongs breezily through sheer blissed-out nostalgia.
Actor David Arquette has always loved pro wrestling, and this great new documentary follows his journey to get pro wrestling to love him back. It all started in 2000 when Arquette joined WCW for a storyline where he captured the company’s world championship. The scrawny actor winning one of the industry’s top prizes became an embarrassment, making him reviled by the fanbase. Decades later, Arquette’s bone-deep respect for pro wrestling has spurred him back into the ring in the indie circuit, determined to suffer bodily harm in an effort to redeem himself.
Set within the competitive world of Rubik’s cube solving, The Speed Cubers tells the story of the rivalry and relationship between the two best in the world, autistic 17-year-old Max Park and his inspiration 23-year-old Feliks Zemdegs. Sue Kim’s absorbing and surprisingly sweet short documentary chronicles the rise of both of these puzzle masters, their genuine friendship, and their thrilling face-off in 2019. Showcasing the difficulties and dexterity of these neoro-atypical cubers, this film isn’t just about competition, it’s also an emotional journey of hope and courage.
Luca Guadagnino’s first ever TV miniseries is a lyrical coming of age drama set on a US Army base in Italy. We Are Who We Are follows a group of interlinked youths and adults who are each grappling with friendship, duty, first-love and identity in a place where conformity rules. In particular, the show focuses on Fraser, an introverted 14-year-old who’s recently arrived with his military mothers – and Caitlin, a confident teen who’s lived on the base for years. This gorgeous miniseries immerses us into all the messy exhilaration and anguish of life with naturalistic flair.
Co-created by and starring Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle (who are 31-year-old actresses playing 13-year-olds amidst a cast of actual kids) – PEN15 is the most uncomfortably hilarious tween comedy on TV. But it’s also the sincerest, funniest and most painfully insightful. Now back for season two, this brilliantly awkward series about female friendship and the turmoil of puberty in the early-2000s is packed with more cringe moments and emotional honesty. This marvelous depiction of the joys, indignities and horrors of middle school is a hormone-laden rollercoaster.
The Boys’ pitch-black deconstruction of superhero tropes and the evil megacorporations that run them (based on Garth Ennis’ equally dark comic series) is back for an even more badass second season! Equal parts meta nihilism and scathing lampoon of a society obsessed with superheroes, this cynical and ultra-violent series continues to flesh out how blind fanaticism and abuses of power can be destructive. But while it’s themes are sharp, The Boys approaches it all with a twisted sense of sardonic glee and gruesome action, balancing its smarts with pulpy fun.
Marnie, the 24-year-old protagonist of Pure, has a very specific form of OCD called Pure O. It manifests not as physical acts but as intrusive thoughts, often about subjects considered taboo. With Marnie in particular, her mind is bombarded by unwanted sexual imagery. Based on Rose Cartwright’s memoir, this British dramedy follows Marnie’s move to London as she tries to build a new life, even as she tries to cope with her disorder. Pure compassionately explores the complications of compulsion, shame and struggling to make sense of oneself with comic insight.
Lynn Novick’s excellent documentary series is the inspiring, emotional, and deeply human story of men and women struggling to earn college degrees while in prison for serious crimes. In four years of study with the Bard Prison Initiative – they become accomplished scholars, reckon with their pasts, and prepare to return to society. This excellent exploration of incarceration in America questions if the system is designed to be punitive or rehabilitative. If it is indeed the latter, then College Behind Bars persuasively argues in the transformative power of education.
It’s atheist robots vs religious zealots in Ridley’s Scott’s first ever series, Raised by Wolves. This ambitious, almost biblical parable centers around two androids (Father and Mother) – tasked with raising human children on a mysterious new planet after Earth was destroyed by a great war. But as the burgeoning colony of humans threatens to be torn apart by theology once again, the androids find that human beliefs are impossible to curb. Led by a phenomenal performance by Amanda Collin as Mother, this operatic slow burn is a gorgeous and thought-provoking treat.
Barbadian British author Malorie Blackman’s critically acclaimed Noughts + Crosses novels comes to life in this timely and thought-provoking adaptation. Imagining a world where Europe was colonized by Africans centuries ago, this series follows the love story of two star-crossed young adults divided by their skin color in a segregated dystopia. Noughts + Crosses crafts a beautifully rendered world that pays attention not only to how racism is a product of power structures, but also to the many ways that societal norms are engineered by dominant cultures.
My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU is finally back for its third and final season, and this high school anime continues to be an engaging and emotionally truthful look at the social hang ups of Japanese youths. Essentially a comedically deadpan deconstruction of the rom-com genre, this series follows cynical loner Hachiman and the beautiful and intelligent Yukino as members of The Service Club – an afterschool activity where they help students with any problems they might have. Bristling with sharp wit and compelling human drama, SNAFU is a delightful gem!
After budget issues forced a two-year hiatus, Wynonna Earp is finally back for season four! And this whip-smart, whisky-fueled, LGBTQ-friendly, fantasy-Western demon hunting series remains the best successor to Buffy on air. In season four, the infamous Earp Curse is broken, and while Wynonnawould love to celebrate, she’s determined to rescue her missing loved ones, save the town of Purgatory, and face her most diabolical foe yet – all without her Peacemaker gun. This quick-witted, heartwarming horror-comedy is rich with emotional stakes and delightful charm.
In this Spanish series by Isabel Coixet, a man and a woman, played by Guillermo Pfening and Laia Costa, meet through a dating app and bond over their shared love of food and distaste for the culture that has sprung up around it. Across eight episodes (each has its own tone and style, depending on the setting in which it takes place), their relationship develops against the backdrop of coffee and cocktails, ramen and sake, ice cream and croissants. With scintillating dialogue and picturesque locations, Foodie Love charms from appetiser through to its dessert.