October 2019’s Best Streaming Titles: Trainspotting, The Karate Kid, The Apostle, Naked Gun, Vertigo

Scottish drug addicts, the Crane kick, Robert Duvall, Frank Drebin, Alfred Hitchcock, and more.
The Karate Kid - John G. Avildsen
Daniel LaRusso and his Crane Kick take on the Cobra Kai in The Karate Kid

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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Trainspotting (October 1)

“Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family.” And so begins Danny Boyle’s riotous Trainspotting, which follows the lives of several drug addicts slumming around Edinburgh, Scotland. Filled with solid performances by the likes of Ewan McGregor, Jonny Lee Miller, and Robert Carlyle, a bleaker-than-bleak sense of humor, Boyle’s trademark visuals, and an awesome soundtrack (e.g., Iggy Pop, Brian Eno, Underworld), Trainspotting isn’t the easiest film to watch, but its energy and verve are undeniable.

Raising Dion, Season One (October 4)

Executive produced by Black Panther’s Michael B. Jordan, who also has a minor role, Finding Dion is about a single mother who’s trying to raise her young son — a job that becomes even more complicated when he begins exhibiting superpowers. This Netflix original series is based on a comic book series by Dennis Liu, which was previously adapted into a short film.

The Forest of Love (October 11)

Thanks to films like Suicide Club, Noriko’s Dinner Table, and Love Exposure, Sion Sono has developed a reputation as one of Japan’s most controversial and subversive directors. So I can’t help but be intrigued by the fact that his latest film is a Netflix original. Apparently based on a true story, The Forest of Love follows a group of filmmakers documenting a charismatic cult leader who leads his followers down an increasingly dark and extreme path.

Fractured (October 11)

Sam Worthington plays a man whose wife and daughter disappear after an accident. As he races to find out what happened to them, things just keep getting weirder and weirder. Fractured is directed by Brad Anderson, who knows a thing or two about twisty psychological thrillers. His previous movies include Vanishing on 7th Street, The Machinist, and Session 9.

The Karate Kid (October 17)

Wax on, wax off… Daniel is the new kid at school who quickly runs afoul of a local gang that’s well-versed in karate thanks to the vicious Cobra Kai dojo. Fortunately for Daniel, his apartment complex’s handyman happens to be a karate master himself, and he begins training Daniel for an eventual confrontation with Cobra Kai. This movie inspired every kid in my school to become a master of the crane kick (which, to my dismay, turned out to not actually be a thing in karate).

The Laundromat (October 18)

Based on the true story of the Panama Papers — millions of leaked documents that revealed nefarious and shady financial dealings by the Mossack Fonseca law firm — this Steven Soderbergh-direct satire looks like a nice blend of absurdist black comedy and heist caper. What’s more, it boasts an impressive cast, including Meryl Streep, Gary Oldman, Antonio Banderas, Jeffrey Wright, and Will Forte.

Men in Black (October 19)

Released at the height of Will Smith’s box office dominance in the ’90s, Men in Black stars Smith as the latest recruit of a shadowy organization that monitors extraterrestrial life on Earth. Paired with a veteran agent (played with cranky glee by Tommy Lee Jones), he must prevent an alien menace from destroying the world. Men in Black is topnotch Hollywood blockbuster entertainment, filled with sci-fi action, imaginative alien designs, and most importantly, Smith and Jones’ wise-cracking comedy chemistry.

Daybreak (October 24)

Based on the trailer, this looks like a cross between Mad Max and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Based on Brian Ralph’s graphic novel, Daybreak centers on a young teenage outcast who’s searching for his missing girlfriend in the midst of violent gangs and (of course) zombies. Fortunately, he’s got a katana-wielding samurai and a young pyromaniac to help him in his quest.

Dolemite Is My Name (October 25)

Eddie Murphy returns in this retelling of the history of Dolemite, one of the great blaxploitation characters of all time. Rudy Ray Moore (Murphy) is a struggling singer and comedian who creates Dolemite, the kung fu-fighting pimp, in a bid for fame and fortune. The film, which garnered critical praise when it premiered at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, also stars Keegan-Michael Key, Craig Robinson, Wesley Snipes, and Snoop Dogg.

Here’s everything arriving on Netflix in October 2019.


The Apostle (October 1)

Robert Duvall originally wrote The Apostle back in the ’80s, but after years of studio neglect, he decided to make it himself. The film, which depicts a Pentecostal preacher (played by Duvall) who starts a new life and ministry after accidentally killing his wife’s lover, went on to garner widespread critical acclaim. Duvall was even nominated for a “Best Actor” Oscar for his depiction of the pious but embattled preacher. Requires the STARZ premium add-on.

Blade 2 (October 1)

Guillermo del Toro directed the second film in the Blade series, which finds Wesley Snipes’ vampire hunter teaming up with vampire royalty to fight a menace that threatens both vampire and human society. Blade 2 is a vast improvement over the first Blade movie, thanks to del Toro’s direction and visuals, a hint of body horror, and Donnie Yen’s martial arts choreography. The film also stars Kris Kristofferson, Ron Perlman, and Norman Reedus.

Constantine (October 1)

It helps if you forget that Constantine is intended to be an adaptation of the Hellblazer comic book, namely because of the liberties it takes with the character of John Constantine. But taken on its own merits, this film about a cynical exorcist and occult expert (Keanu Reeves) who joins forces with a detective (Rachel Weisz) to prevent the devil’s son from taking over Earth is a guilty pleasure. It’s ridiculous, but watching Reeves wax theological while kicking demonic ass can be a lot of fun if you’re in the right mood.

The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! (October 1)

Lieutenant Frank Drebin is a goofball and clutz. But he’s also the best man to protect Queen Elizabeth II from an assassination attempt, which he’ll do with site gags, pratfalls, and visual puns aplenty. Based on the Police Squad! series from 1982, The Naked Gun is widely considered one of the greatest movie comedies of all time.

Little Monsters (October 11)

A kindergarten field trip goes horribly awry thanks to a zombie outbreak, and it’s up to a handful of adults — lead by Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong’o — to keep the little tykes safe from being devoured by the undead hordes. This looks like it could be a lot of fun, if you like your humor dark, twisted, and covered in blood and zombie guts (which I do). The film also stars Josh Gad and Alexander England.

Vertigo (October 11)

If you’ve got the STARZ add-on for Hulu and you’re an Alfred Hitchcock fan, then October’s your lucky month: several of the director’s films will become available, including this classic thriller about a detective suffering from acrophobia whose grasp on reality begins to slip when he falls in love with a woman that reminds him of another woman that committed suicide. Since its release in 1958, Vertigo has become recognized as one of the greatest movies of all time. Requires the STARZ premium add-on.

Watchmen: Series Premiere (October 20)

This adaptation of the seminal Watchmen comic book takes place in an alternate version of 2019 where the internet doesn’t exist. But it’s not quite the paradise you think: a radical group of Rorschach devotees begin committing acts of violence, leading the police to don their own masks to battle the vigilantes. The series stars Regina King, Don Johnson, Tim Blake Nelson, and Robert Redford as himself (and the President of the United States). Requires the HBO premium add-on.

Here’s everything arriving on and leaving Hulu in October 2019.

Amazon Prime

High Life (October 3)

In recent years, Robert Pattinson has worked hard to shed his Twilight pretty-boy image by working with the likes of David Cronenberg, Werner Herzog, James Gray, and in the case of High Life, Claire Denis. High Life is the French filmmaker’s first sci-fi film, in which a group of criminals are sent to explore a black hole while being subjected to strange sexual experiments. The film also stars Juliette Binoche, André Benjamin, and Mia Goth.

Blade of the Immortal (October 10)

In Hiroaki Samura’s Blade of the Immortal manga, the samurai Manji seeks to atone for his past by killing 1,000 evil men. Fortunately for him, he can’t die because his body’s filled with sacred worms that can heal any wound. Praised for its detailed artwork and stylish action, Blade of the Immortal has been previously adapted into anime and live-action (the latter by Takashi Miike). This latest anime adaptation is directed by Hiroshi Hamasaki, who has previously worked on Space Dandy, Steins;Gate, and Paranoia Agent.

Here’s everything arriving on and leaving Amazon in October 2019. As usual, there’s a lot of overlap between Hulu and Amazon Prime’s offerings.