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.
One Night In Miami…
On one incredible night in 1964, four icons of sports, music, and activism gathered to celebrate one of the biggest upsets in boxing history. When underdog Cassius Clay (soon to be called Muhammad Ali) defeats heavyweight champion Sonny Liston, Clay memorialized the event with three of his friends – Malcolm X, Sam Cooke and Jim Brown. Adapted from Kemp Powers’ play, Regina King’s formidable directorial debut is a vivid, reflective chamber piece that’s powered by amazing performances and filled with powerful meditations of race, responsibility and revolution.
Led by an intoxicating, powerhouse performance from Mads Mikkelsen – Danish film Another Round is a midlife-crisis movie that’s filled with ebullience, sorrow, humor and love. Thomas Vinterberg’s story follows four high school teachers who test out a wild theory by psychologist Finn Skårderund, who wrote that humans should maintain an alcohol level of 0.5%. Thus, they get drunk every day to see how it affects their social and professional lives. This is a cathartic exploration of disaffection, friendship and how merriment and melancholy can go hand in hand.
Raw and intimate, this documentary captures the struggles of patients and frontline medical professionals battling the COVID-19 pandemic in Wuhan. Set during the city’s initial lockdown, Hao Wu and Weixi Chen’s journalistic film remarkably captures all the panic and pragmatism greeting a disaster before its entire global impact had been gauged. 76 Days is unvarnished and experiential, plunging viewers in the midst of the chaos and confusion as medical professionals and deal with grief, fatigue and terrified patients amidst a relentless onslaught of emergencies.
Based on Aravind Adiga’s Booker Prize-winning novel and directed by Ramin Bahrani, The White Tiger is a darkly satirical and energetic thriller about servitude and class division in modern India. The film follows a poor villager who uses his cunning to climb the social ladder, even as he is caught between his humble roots and his employer’s blinding wealth. Led by great performances from Priyanka Chopra and Adarsh Gourav, The White Tiger observes corruption on all levels with its cynical rags-to-riches tale of innocence lost and shameful self-betterment.
Derek DelGaudio’s visionary off-Broadway show that blends awe-inspiring magic and deeply personal memoir comes to the screen courtesy of this special directed by Frank Oz. As much a confessional one-man play as a showcase for sleight-of-hand, In & Of Itself transforms typical shock-and-awe illusions into a powerful meditation on existential yearning and his own bumpy quest for meaning in life. DelGaudio digs deep into his painful personal history to craft his tricks around autobiographical storytelling to make this the most poignant magic show you’ll ever see.
The final work of late great composer Jóhann Jóhannsson, Last and First Men is a ravishing 70-minute film that functions as a stark black-and-white audiovisual essay on human mortality, extinction and legacy. Set two billion years in the future, the film posits an advanced society that sends a note documenting their utopia, and its imminent destruction, in a cosmic memo to the past. Guided by Jóhannsson’s ethereal score, this otherworldly immersion blends brutalist architecture with a Tilda Swinton voiceover, resulting in a lyrical rumination on the end of days.
Tom Hanks re-teams with Captain Phillips director Paul Greengrass for News of the World, a contemplative Western set in Texas five years after the Civil War. Hanks is Jefferson Kyle Kidd, a veteran who now moves from town to town as a non-fiction storyteller, sharing the gripping tales from the far reaches of the globe. When he comes across 10-year-old Johanna, a German immigrant raised by the Kiowa people after being orphaned, they embark on a lyrical journey. A stirring, leisurely odyssey through a country stained by blood and division, in need of healing.
An expectant couple try to pick themselves up after a devastating loss in Hungarian director Kornél Mundruczó’s virtuoso feature Pieces of a Woman. Vanessa Kirby gives the performance of a lifetime as Martha, a grief-stricken woman who takes her midwife to court after her baby dies during a home birth. But instead of focusing on the trial, this grounded and intensely personal film focuses our attention on the couple, both of whom are shattered by the tragedy, and have more to rebuild than just their relationship. A mature, masterfully acted human drama.
As with the close-look at Rue’s spiral out of sobriety in “Trouble Don’t Always Last,” Euphoria’s latest special episode zooms all the way in, eschewing the show’s typical plotting and visual flourish for an intimate, dialogue-driven character study. This time, it’s Jules in the spotlight with Hunter Schafer dazzling as the lead. “Fuck Anyone Who’s Not A Sea Blob” takes place during a therapy session, where Jules soliloquies on gender, family, love, self image and self harm. Messy specificity and an indelible performance makes this an emotionally captivating watch.
This reality-bending love letter to classic sitcoms is far and away the most experimental and artful thing the MCU has ever done. We follow Avengers superheroes Wanda Maximoff and Vision in the suburban town of Westview as they lead a domestic life whilst hiding their powers from their neighbours. However they soon start to realise that their existence mirrors shows like I Love Lucy, Bewitched, Full House and other vintage comedies. Zany, innovative and funny, WandaVision tackles both lead’s repressed traumas through recreations of comfort television.
Martin Scorsese follows sardonic social critic Fran Lebowitz around New York, for a seven episode glimpse into her unique perspective in Pretend It’s A City. For decades, Lebowitz has expressed her opinions grouchily and riotously, packaging her no-nonsense observations about the city and its denizens into a punchy running commentary that spares nobody. Scorsese now shapes Lebowitz’s thoughts into a furiously funny visual guidebook, checking in with the witty curmudgeon on subjects like tourists, money, subways, the arts, and walking in Times Square.
Inspired by Maurice Leblanc’s books about gentleman thief Arsène Lupin – this smart and surprising French series is a high energy heist caper. Omar Sy (as magnetic a leading man as you’ll ever find) stars as Assane Diop, a Senegalese immigrant who grew up reading Lupin stories. After his father is falsely imprisoned due to the wealthy Pellegrini family, Sy plots to steal a priceless necklace that once belonged to Marie Antoinette in an elaborate revenge scheme. Fueled by potent racial and class dynamics, this twisty and suspenseful series is fast paced fun!
Set inside the human body, Cells at Work!! Is a cute and vibrant anime that chronicles the life and times of everything from the oxygen-carrying red blood cells, to the bacteria-fighting white blood cells – each earnestly doing their jobs to keep their host healthy. Now back for season two, this clever edutainment approach to human biology continues to be medically informative and adorable. Each episode deals with a different crisis, accurately anthropomorphizing how every cell comes together as a cooperative community to deal with injuries, germs and viruses.
While Cells at Work!! presents us with an inspiring body filled with good-natured and united cells working in a healthy body, this spinoff is a much darker take that focuses on the inner workings of a dystopian body in disrepair. The cells we meet here are disillusioned, miserable and exhausted – overworked and stressed from the endless toil from caring for a host that suffers from lack of sleep, heavy drinking, poor diet, and smoking. Dealing with cholesterol, ulcers, fatty liver and clogged vessels – Code Black is much more adult whilst still remaining educational.
This satire of millennial entitlement has gone through several seasons of riveting turns. What began as a search for missing college classmate, turned into a tense cover-up for an accidental killing, which spirals into a sensational murder trial where our vapid protagonists become minor celebrities. Now after her acquittal, Dory is kidnapped by a stalker in season four – leading to the dual torture of abuse and mental anguish over the terrible things she’s done. It’s a disturbing comeuppance, as the show continues it’s dark critique of contemporary media and mentalities.
Carmen Sandiego continues to be such a stylish and enormously fun espionage romp for all ages in its fourth and final season. Following the titular master thief (and her sidekicks) as she foils the evil plans of criminal organization V.I.L.E. – this climactic arc delivers an abundance of slick heists, daring capers and shifting allegiances. But beyond the exciting action, this show admirably retains its educational roots by teaching its young audience about the cultures of various countries (history, geography, art, traditions) during every stop on Carmen’s adventures.
Kim’s Convenience has been a success in Canada since it began (first as a play), but thanks to Netflix, the acclaimed Canadian sitcom has become a worldwide sensation. Now in its fifth season, this warmly funny show about an immigrant Korean family and their convenience store remains a hilarious delight. Breezily enjoyable for it’s comedy about generational gaps and tradition, and sneakily smart when it mines humour from social issues, Kim’s Convenience draws laughs through the family’s interactions with each other, and their diverse community.