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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Donnie Darko (October 11)
Richard Kelly’s debut feature was far more mature than its young director’s age indicated, thanks to its intriguing storyline, ominous-yet-fascinating atmosphere, a black-yet-quirky sense of humor, and a killer soundtrack (including the best use of The Church’s “Under the Milky Way” and a great Tears For Fears cover by Gary Jules). Donnie Darko follows a young, possibly disturbed kid (Jake Gyllenhaal) who has to traverse normal high school stuff (e.g., girls, bullies) while finding himself beset by disturbing visions about parallel realities, time travel, and the end of the world. It’s a Lynchian brain-twister to be sure, but Kelly’s script and direction are on point, and the result is a true cult classic.
Voltron: Legendary Defenders, Season 4 (October 13)
Netflix’s reboot of the classic anime series is just fantastic, with topnotch animation, imaginative artwork and design, and an expansive storyline. Season 3 brought about plenty of new revelations about the origins of Voltron and their primary foe, the evil Emperor Zarkon, and even introduced a new antagonist in the form of the clever and ambitious Prince Lotor. Unfortunately, Season 3 was way too short at just seven episodes, which gives Season 4 plenty to expand on (with hopefully more than seven episodes under its belt).
Patton Oswalt: Annihilation (October 17)
In April of 2016, Patton Oswalt’s wife, Michelle McNamara, tragically died in her sleep. Not surprisingly, his upcoming standup special will touch on his wife’s death, and how he and his young daughter have coped with her passing. But given that this is Patton Oswalt, expect plenty of social commentary, potty humor, and nerdiness, too — which is as it should be.
Stranger Things, Season Two (October 27)
Just in time for Halloween comes the second season of one of Netflix’s biggest hits, the cult classic Stranger Things. I’ve already written a lot about my love for the show’s first season, so yes, I’m very excited about season two. The new season looks to expand the series’ world, introduce some new characters (and evil-looking creatures), and possibly reveal what happened to Eleven at the end of season one. Oh, and the ’80s nostalgia looks absolutely immaculate once again.
The Final Master (October 25)
In order to open his own martial arts school, a master of Wing Chun (played by Liao Fan) must defeat eight rival masters. The Final Master was nominated for “Best Screenplay,” “Best Choreography,” and “Best Supporting Actress” at the 2015 Golden Horse awards, where it won the award for “Best Choreography.” Watching the trailer below, that’s not very surprising.
Click here for a complete list of everything arriving and leaving Netflix in October 2017.
Fargo (October 1)
Featuring cinema’s most infamous wood chipper scene, the Coen Brothers’ Fargo is yet another twisted moral tale told with a sense of humor as black as the film’s wintry setting is white. When a hapless car salesman (played to perfection by William H. Macy) contracts with a couple of goons to hold his wife for ransom, he sets in a motion a twisted tragicomedy of errors that pulls in one of the Coens’ noblest and purest heroes, police chief Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand).
A Fistful of Dollars (October 1)
One of the most iconic westerns of all time, Sergio Leone’s A Fistful of Dollars — an unlicensed remake of Akira Kurosawa’s classic samurai film Yojimbo — launched the “spaghetti western” genre and gave us Clint Eastwood’s “Man With No Name” character. Eastwood’s nameless drifter arrives in a town divided between two warring families, both of whom vie for his deadly skills as a gunfighter. Chaos ensues, however, when he starts playing the families against each other.
Ghost World (October 1)
Based on Daniel Clowes’ acclaimed comic book, Ghost World is a dark comedy following the exploits of Enid (Thora Birch), a world-weary teen who finds herself facing a long summer and strikes up an unlikely relationship with an older man. That makes it sound like Ghost World is pretty salacious, but nothing could be further from the truth due to its deep sense of pathos, drily offbeat humor, and solid performances from Birch, Steve Buscemi, and Scarlett Johansson.
Godzilla 2000 (October 1)
As excited as I am for new seasons of Voltron and Stranger Things on Netflix, I’m just as excited that a slew of Godzilla films are coming to Hulu in October. The films include such kaijū classics as Godzilla 2000, Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla, Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah, Godzilla, Mothra, and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack, and Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S.
Hellboy (October 1)
Guillermo del Toro’s adaptation of Mike Mignola’s cult favorite comic follows a demon who is raised by humans and uses his paranormal powers to hold dark, Lovecraftian forces at bay. Hellboy is full of imaginative set pieces, fantastical creatures (including the titular character and my favorite, the fish-man Abe Sapien), and a fascinating internal mythology.
Kill Bill, Volume 1 and 2 (October 1)
Both volumes of Quentin Tarantino’s ultra-stylish love letter to Asian cinema are coming to Hulu in October. Though ostensibly a film about an assassin (Uma Thurman) who’s betrayed and left for dead by her comrades, only to come roaring back for bloody revenge, the Kill Bill films are really Tarantino’s excuse to indulge in all manner of Asian action cinema tropes. There are references to everything from Shaw Brothers kung fu classics to Hong Kong action to Japanese samurai titles.
Ninja III: The Domination (October 1)
I have no illusions about a film with a title like Ninja III: The Domination, but it’s a Cannon Films-produced ninja film from the ’80s about a young woman who is possessed by the soul of an evil (natch) ninja assassin. Basically, I expect it to be all kinds of “so bad it’s good” schlock, much like its predecessor, Revenge of the Ninja. If that turns out to be the case, then I’ll be satisfied.
Pi (October 1)
Darren Aronofsky’s mother! is currently in theaters and drumming up plenty of controversy. So now might be a good time to revisit the director’s amazing debut feature. A troubled yet brilliant mathematician uses chaos theory and supercomputers to understand how the stock market works. In the process, he’s drawn into the world of Jewish mystics seeking after the true name of God. Pi is compelling on multiple levels thanks to its intriguing plot and themes, surreal visuals (aided by the film’s black-and-white cinematography), and a pulsing electronic soundtrack.
Pieces of April (October 1)
In this Peter Hedges dramedy, a rebellious young woman (Katie Holmes) decides to host her conservative, uptight family for Thanksgiving dinner. While she struggles to make the meal, her family encounters plenty of issues of their own as they travel to her Manhattan apartment. Pieces of April is heartwarming in the best sense of the word; it gives us characters who are deeply flawed and yet also deeply sympathetic. As such, it’s hard to not get caught up in this messed up family’s plight, and want the best for them.
Colossal (October 4)
When is a monster movie not a monster movie? When it stars Anne Hathaway as an out-of-work alcoholic who has a mysterious link to the monster, which just happens to be rampaging through South Korea. Directed by Nacho Vigalondo (Timecrimes), Colossal has a delightfully weird premise and a solid cast (Hathaway, Jason Sudeikis, Dan Stevens).
Arrival (October 28)
One of the very best sci-fi films in recent years, Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival is a thought-provoking film unlike any alien invasion film you’ve seen. When strange alien ships appear around the globe, the military asks a linguist (Amy Adams) to help decipher the alien’s strange language. But as she begins to understand it, the language begins to affect her in mysterious ways. Arrival’s slow pace may frustrate some, but Villeneuve’s direction is masterful, the cinematography is gorgeous, the concepts are fascinating, and the soundtrack by Jóhann Jóhannsson is incredible.
Click here for a complete list of everything arriving and leaving Hulu in October 2017.
Click here for a complete list of everything arriving and leaving Amazon in October 2017. Because there’s a lot of overlap between Hulu and Amazon Prime’s offerings, I’m no longer going to do an Amazon Prime-specific listing unless they happen to be offering something really interesting or unique.