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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Groundhog Day (August 1)
In this surprisingly existential comedy, Bill Murray plays an arrogant weatherman who finds himself reliving the same day over and over again in picturesque Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania — and forced to confront who he is as a person. This is one of the classic Bill Murray movies, and was even added to the National Film Registry in 2006.
Jupiter Ascending (August 1)
Mind you, Jupiter Ascending is not a good movie, what with its hackneyed plot and awkward dialog delivered by actors who deserve better. If you want a fun, rollicking sci-fi adventure filled with stylish visuals — and you have a Hulu subscription — then you’re better off watching The Fifth Element. That being said, Jupiter Ascending might be worth watching for its production design alone, from its eclectic spaceship designs and palatial estate inside the planet Jupiter to its costumes.
Enter the Anime (August 5)
In this original Netflix documentary, an anime newbie sits down with various anime filmmakers to discuss the medium, including Shinji Aramaki, Kenji Kamiyama, and Kozo Morishita. However, the documentary will primarily focus on Netflix-specific titles, like Castlevania and Aggretsuko, rather than anime as a whole — which seems like a pretty limited approach. At best, it may open people’s eyes and encourage them to track down non-Netflix titles.
Wu Assassins, Season 1 (August 8)
Iko Uwais (The Night Comes for Us, The Raid) is a young chef in Chinatown who discovers that he’s the latest in a long line of mystical assassins charged with defeating evil warlords and criminals — one of whom just happens to be his father. I’ll admit, the trailer looks a little corny, but you better believe I’m going to watch because of two words: Mark Dacascos.
The Family (August 9)
Politics and religion make for very uncomfortable bedfellows, something that The Family docuseries explores as it follows The Fellowship, a Christian organization with ties to politicians around the world.
The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (August 30)
In this prequel to 1982’s The Dark Crystal, the elf-like Gelflings discover that the evil Skeksis are threatening their world. The Dark Crystal has achieved cult-like status due in large part to its skillful puppetry and imaginative world-building, and Age of Resistance certainly looks of a piece to the original. Taron Egerton, Eddie Izzard, Helena Bonham Carter, Toby Jones, Simon Pegg, Awkwafina, and many more lend their voices.
Here’s everything arriving on and leaving Netflix in August 2019.
Das Boot (August 1)
Arguably one of the greatest war movies of all time, Wolfgang Petersen’s Das Boot stars Jürgen Prochnow as the captain of a German submarine (or U‑boat) as it undergoes missions against the Allies. As much a character study as an action movie, Das Boot is a thrilling and moving film about the pressures and horrors of war (read my review). Originally released in 1981, it was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Director.
The Fifth Element (August 1)
There are certain movies that, if I ever come across them playing on the TV, I will stop everything I’m doing and watch them. Luc Besson’s The Fifth Element is one such movie, with its sci-fi tale about a great evil that can only be stopped by a young woman. Packed to the gills with stunning visuals and set design, as well as an intriguing mythology all its own and a manic sense of energy, The Fifth Element is a blast to watch.
Rushmore (August 1)
Rushmore tells the story of one Max Fischer, a student at the titular private school. Despite being involved in countless extracurricular clubs, most notably the drama club, he’s a terrible student. Rushmore was one of Wes Anderson’s earliest films, but his aesthetic was fully realized even then. Rushmore is also one of his funniest films — read my review — from Fischer’s rivalry with Bill Murray’s character for the affections of a new teacher to the Vietnam War-inspired high school production that ends the film.
The Transporter (August 1)
Jason Statham is Frank Martin, an elite getaway driver who operates according to a strict code. But when he breaks that code, he finds himself on the run with a beautiful woman (Shu Qi) and hunted by his former employers. Directed by Hong Kong action legend Corey Yuen, The Transporter is a slicker-than-slick and eminently enjoyable action movie that blends Hong Kong style martial arts with crazy auto stuntwork. The picturesque Mediterranean backdrop is a nice touch, too.
The Amazing Johnathan Documentary (August 16)
In 2014, the comedian and stand-up magician The Amazing Johnathan — who was infamous for his over-the-top and gonzo routines — announced that he had one year left to live due to a terminal heart condition. But when director Ben Berman begins documenting the magician’s apparent final days, questions arise concerning his condition. Is The Amazing Johnathan actually dying or is it all part of some elaborate prank?
Mission: Impossible — Fallout (August 23)
Thanks to their mind-blowing stunts, the Mission: Impossible movies have become our best modern action franchise. They’re thrilling to watch, and all the moreso given that lead actor Tom Cruise is often the one doing said stunts. In this latest installment, Cruise’s Ethan Hunt must track down stolen plutonium while confronting rival agents from the CIA and fending off allegations of treason. Also starring: Henry Cavill (and his mustache), Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Angela Bassett, and Alec Baldwin.
How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (August 28)
The How to Train Your Dragon animated movies, with their fantastical world of vikings and dragons, have proven to be much more enjoyable than their premise might’ve suggested. In this final installment, the viking Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel) and his dragon Toothless continue trying to rescue captured dragons, only to face the threat of dragon hunters, and more crucially, the possibility that humans and dragons might simply be unable to coexist peacefully.
Here’s everything arriving on and leaving Hulu in August 2019.
Carnival Row, Season 1 (August 30)
This Amazon original series stars Orlando Bloom and Cara Delevigne as a human and fairy, respectively, who are caught up in a Romeo and Juliet-style romance in a fantasy world that resembles Victorian England. In this world, humans and mythical creatures like fairies and fauns enjoy a tentative peace, but the racial and ethnic tensions are exacerbated by a string of gruesome murders being investigated by Bloom’s character.
Computer Chess (August 31)
In 1980, a group of nerds gather in California for a computer chess tournament. But as the tournament progresses, strange events begin to occur: computers start behaving in unpredictable ways, a cult begins making its presence known, and so on. Though it contains elements of ’80s nostalgia (the film was largely shot with analog videocameras in black-and-white) and sci-fi, trying to pigeonhole Computer Chess into one particular genre is impossible. It’s just too weird and unlike anything else for that.
Godzilla (August 31)
Gareth Edwards’ take on the venerable Big G seems less focused on big monster smackdowns and more on building suspense and atmosphere. When I first saw it, I was a bit underwhelmed, because the whole reason you watch a Godzilla movie is for the kaiju battles. But I found the film much better and more engrossing than I remembered on a recent viewing. If nothing else, it might help erase any lingering memories of Roland Emmerich’s 1998 film.
Here’s everything arriving on and leaving Amazon in August 2019. As usual, there’s a lot of overlap between Hulu and Amazon Prime’s offerings.