As Netflix et al. add more content, it’s difficult to know what to look for amidst all of the newly added titles. So at the start of every month, I publish a list of particularly noteworthy and interesting movies and TV shows to add to your streaming queues.
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Jackie Brown (August 1)
Coming after the brilliance that was Pulp Fiction, Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown seemed pretty reserved, even underwhelming. Tarantino’s adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s Rum Punch is arguably his most understated film, but it features the absolutely dynamite pairing of Robert Forster as a world weary bail bondsman and blaxploitation queen Pam Grier as the titular stewardess who sets out to double-cross a violent gun runner.
The Matrix (August 1)
The first time I saw The Matrix was one of those moviegoing moments, where your mind is completely and thoroughly blown, and you can honestly say you’ve never seen anything like that before. In the ensuing years, the film has been copied, parodied, and whatnot to kingdom come, and the two sequels — which also arrive on Netflix on August 1 — muddled up the mythology a bit. But there’s no denying that The Matrix is a sci-fi/action movie classic. Whoa…
Voltron Season 3 (August 4)
The third season of Netflix’s acclaimed anime reboot finds the team reeling from — spoiler alert — the loss of their leader and pilot of the Black Lion at the end of season two. No pilot means no Black Lion, and no Black Lion means no Voltron. Which really sucks because a new villain — the evil Prince Lotor — is arriving this season to take on Princess Allura and the remaining paladins. Honestly, the Voltron reboot is so much better than it has any right to be.
Marvel’s The Defenders Season 1 (August 18)
I’ve grown a little burned out on Netflix’s Marvel series — I still haven’t watched any episodes of Iron Fist — but word coming out of Comic-Con is that The Defenders is legit… real legit. Netflix’s gritty heroes Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist team up to fight against a villainess played by Sigourney Weaver, who looks terrifically diabolical in the teasers.
Death Note (August 25)
In Adam Wingard’s take on the beloved Japanese manga and anime series, a disturbed young man is given a mysterious book that lets him kill anyone he wants. Needless to say, such godlike power goes right to his head. This one could be a total mess, but it has Willem Dafoe as a death god and the premise is just so bizarre, so I’m intrigued. It’ll be interesting to see how Death Note crosses the cultural differences, since previous Western adaptations of anime/manga — *cough* Ghost in the Shell *cough* — haven’t done too well.
Click here for a complete list of everything arriving and leaving Netflix in August 2017.
Benny & Joon (August 1)
I have a soft spot for this movie about a quirky relationship between a Charlie Chaplin-obsessed man and a woman suffering from mental illness (presumably schizophrenia). I watched it countless times in high school with my friends, and it’s all kinds of cute and earnest — so folks prone to cynicism beware. It also popularized The Proclaimers’ “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles),” which might honestly be a strike against it, depending on how you feel about the song.
Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (August 1)
You know the story: two rock n’ roll-obsessed burn-outs are destined to save the world with their band Wyld Stallyns, but only if they can successfully complete high school with a kick-ass history presentation. Enter a time-traveling phone booth from the future and, well, the rest is history. Featuring what is arguably Keanu Reeves’ greatest role, this is truly a most bodacious movie. Be excellent to each other and party on, dudes.
Bloodsport (August 1)
If you’re a fan of Jean-Claude Van Damme, aka the “Muscles from Brussel,” then you’re already gearing up for this film. If you’re not, well, how can you resist a film about an American soldier trained in the deadly arts of the ninja who enters an illegal Hong Kong fighting tournament to avenge the death of his brother?
Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children (August 1)
In many ways, Advent Children is really just fan service for Final Fantasy VII fans, of which I happen to be one, so I love this movie more than I probably should. Set two years after the game’s events, Cloud Strife is as broody as ever while making deliveries on his sweet motorcycle. But when a mysterious illness begins to sweep the land, he and his friends must confront some new villains tied to Cloud’s past. The CGI holds up relatively well, even after a decade, and the action sequences are still cool, especially Tifa Lockhart’s cathedral duel.
High Noon (August 1)
One of the greatest westerns ever made. Gary Cooper’s straight-arrow sheriff is set to retire with his lovely new bride, when he learns that a vicious outlaw gang is about to arrive in town at noon. His attempts to form a posse to meet the gang all fail, and the sheriff finds himself facing the gang all by himself. High Noon is the quintessential “man against the world” film, and features one of the most iconic shots in film history. It was also quite controversial in its day, and seen by many as a response to the Hollywood communist blacklisting that occurred in the ’40s and ’50s.
The Italian Job (August 1)
My wife loves a good heist movie, and this 2003 remake starring Mark Wahlberg, Charlize Theron, Edward Norton, Jason Statham, and more is one of her favorites. And it’s easy to see why: the movie is by turns fast-paced, engaging, and suspenseful, the cast looks like they’re having the time of their lives, and it has some awesome car chases. What more could you ask for from a heist movie?
Spider-Man 2 (August 1)
Back when the Marvel Cinematic Universe was still just a gleam in Kevin Feige’s eye, Sam Raimi directed a trilogy of Spider-Man movies starring Tobey Maguire as the webslinger. Spider-Man 2 is widely considered one of the best superhero movies of all time. We see Peter Parker start to really wrestle with, and crack under, the constant strain and sacrifice of being a hero. That, combined with a great, complicated villain and some breathtaking action and derring-do, is what makes Spider-Man 2 so great.
Click here for a complete list of everything arriving and leaving Hulu in August 2017.
There’s quite a bit of overlap between what’s coming to Hulu and Amazon, aside from some interesting-looking Amazon exclusives like The Tick and the insane-sounding Comrade Detective (a spoof of a 1980s Romanian TV show that features voiceover work from Joseph Gordon Levitt and Channing Tatum). Click here for a complete list of everything arriving and leaving Amazon Prime in August 2017.