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.
A quietly tender and warmly graceful story about roots, Minari follows a Korean-American family that moves to a tiny Arkansas farm in search of the American Dream. Amidst the instability and challenges of this new life in the rugged Ozarks, the family home is upended with the arrival of their foul-mouthed, fiercely loving grandmother (a spiky performance by Youn Yuh-jung). Backed by terrific acting, thoughtful writing and striking rural backdrops – Lee Isaac Chung’s minor-key, gentle films unfolds like a series of sparkling recollections that feel universal in their specificity.
Watch in: Cinemas (Golden Village & The Projector)
Promising Young Woman is a provocative, venomous and wildly thrilling revenge story taking an unflinching look at rape culture. In what is possibly the strongest performance of her career, Carey Mulligan stars as Cassandra, an avenging angel who goes to local clubs pretending to be blackout drunk, only to brutally turn the tables on any would-be sexual assaulters. She’s working out a vendetta against a patriarchal society that has broken her, but Promising Young Woman deftly toys with our sympathies by pushing Cassie’s tactics into uncomfortably nasty territory.
Watch in: Cinemas (The Projector and Shaw Theatres)
Shaka King’s historical film is a powerhouse political thriller featuring incredible performances from Daniel Kaluuya as Black Panther Party chairman Fred Hampton and LaKeith Stanfield as William O’Neal, a career thief turned FBI informant who infiltrated BPP’s inner circle. This is a scalding account of oppression and revolution, coercion and betrayal – never once holding back on it’s incendiary, electrifying depiction of Hampton, alongside O’Neal’s vivid inner turmoil. A riveting tale of moral conflict and an urgent indictment of America’s systemic history of racism.
This bromance comedy is an incredible two-hander that veers from caustic to sweet through sublime filmmaking. The Climb follows best friends Kyle and Mike who share a close bond, until Mike sleeps with Kyle’s fiancée. The film explores their tumultuous yet enduring relationship across many years of laughter, heartbreak and rage – turning their connection into a rich, humane and uproarious look at the vulnerability behind masculine facades. Buoyed by testosterone-fueled jokes and oddball chemistry, The Climb is a shrewd take on male friendship.
Saint Maud is the first great horror of 2021. Rose Clarke’s directorial debut follows Maud, a newly devout hospice nurse who becomes obsessed with saving her dying patient’s soul – but sinister forces, and her own sinful past, threaten to put an end to her holy calling. Walking the fine line between religious fervor and madness, Saint Maud is a dread-laden and unsettling film that folds psychological terror, spiritual warfare and sexual repression into a character study of faith vs mental illness. Artful filmmaking and dynamic performances will keep viewers gripped.
Harry Macqueen’s latest film is an exquisite and beautifully understated portrait of love and mortality that tells the deeply human story of terminal decline from a heartbreaking perspective. Set in the rustic beauty of the English countryside, the film stars Stanley Tucci as Tusker and Colin Firth as Sam – a gay couple who take a road trip in their old camper van to visit friends, family and places from their past after Tusker is diagnosed with dementia. Led by impeccable performances, this modest and moving drama of devotion and impending loss is a touching tale.
Watch in: Cinemas (Golden Village, FilmGarde & The Projector)
This dreamy and devastating sci-fi romance imagines a global epidemic where people suddenly lose their memories due to Neuroinflammatory Affliction (NIA), a rapid Alzheimer’s-like disease. Little Fish follows couple Jude Williams and Emma Ryerson who are grappling with the realities of NIA as they slowly start to forget each other. This beautifully acted, melancholy love story explores the disintegration of a relationship without closure or reason, applying nimble nonlinear storytelling to offer a microcosm of a world where everyone shares some version of their grief.
Set in the picturesque English countryside on the eve of WWII, Carey Mulligan (in her second great movie this month) stars a wealthy widow who hires an archaeologist (Ralph Fiennes) to excavate the burial mounds on her estate. The historic discovery they make there serves as the catalyst for a lyricaly understated story of love, loss and longing. Buoyed by superb acting and vividly written multi-dimensional characters, The Dig is a melancholic wonder, steeped in the inevitable passage of time, and a reminder that the past lives on through the things left behind.
Set in the early 1980s, this extraordinary miniseries written and created by Russell T Davies examines the dawn of the AIDS epidemic through the eyes of five young Londoners. In five brisk and often devastating episodes encompassing that fateful decade, Davies whips between outrageous scenes of hedonistic raunch and stark moments of confusion, sorrow and terror. It’s A Sin is a gut-wrenching look at the toll of that horrific plague and the stigma patients faced, but it’s also a joyful celebration of the bravery and radiance of that generation’s the gay community.
John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight is the truest successor to Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show, and it returns not a moment too soon. Currently in its eighth season, Last Week Tonight continues to be not so much a comedy show, as a very funny deep dive into the urgent social, political and economic issues of the day. In an era of short attention spans, John Oliver has built a reputation on spending 20-30 minutes each week with exhaustively researched, intelligent breakdowns – before wrapping it all up with a cleverly pointed call to action, looking to effect tangible change.
Alan Tudyk is bizarrely charming in Resident Alien! He stars as Harry, an extraterrestrial sent to Earth to eradicate mankind, but ends up crash landing and assimilating in a small town. With no hope of going home, he takes on the identity of a doctor, who is unfortunately drawn into a murder mystery when called upon to perform an autopsy. The series mines big laughs from the fish out of water predicament, relying on Tudyk’s gift for physical comedy and aloof speech. But it also finds poignant depths as Harry rethinks his mission when he begins to bond with people.