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.
If you’d like to receive my streaming recommendations even sooner, become an Opus subscriber today.
Fargo (Oct 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).
Stranger Than Fiction (Oct 1)
Imagine if one day, you heard a voice in your head that accurately narrated the events of your life… and foretold your death? That’s the situation faced by a nebbish IRS agent when he somehow finds himself a character in the latest novel by an acclaimed author. This heady comedy can get pretty meta, but it’s anchored by solid performances by Will Ferrell, Emma Thompson, Dustin Hoffman, and Queen Latifah.
Song Exploder (Oct 2)
Based on a popular podcast, Song Exploder sits down with musicians including Alicia Keys, Lin-Manuel Miranda, R.E.M.‘s Michael Stipe, and Ty Dolla $ign to discuss the writing and creation of some of their most popular songs.
Metallica: Through the Never (Oct 28)
Part concert film, part surreal arthouse piece, Metallica: Through the Never follows a Metallica roadie who gets into increasingly bizarre adventures and scenarios during one of the band’s concerts. The film, which premiered at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival, has been described as “a full-throttle expression of rock & roll anarchy” by critic Peter Travers.
Here’s everything arriving on and leaving Netflix in October 2020.
Blade 2 (Oct 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.
Spaceballs (Oct 1)
I still remember the first time I saw Spaceballs. I was in junior high at the time, and I had no idea what the movie was, but the moment I saw the “We brake for nobody” bumper sticker on Spaceball One, I knew my life would never be the same. One of the most quotable movies of all time — e.g., “I am your father’s brother’s nephew’s cousin’s former roommate.” — Spaceballs is a true comedy classic.
Terminator: Dark Fate (Oct 9)
The most recent Terminator movie features the return of Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor, who finds herself teaming up with a fierce warrior from the future to protect an innocent young woman from a robotic assassin. So yeah, pretty much like every other Terminator movie. But Dark Fate adds some new wrinkles to the timeline by pretending that none of the other post-Terminator 2 films happened, and director Tim Miller (Deadpool) knows how to craft an impressive action sequence.
Here’s everything arriving on and leaving Hulu in October 2020.
John Carpenter’s Vampires (Oct 1)
Vampires may be second-tier Carpenter material, but it’s still full of good ol’ fashioned B movie fun. James Woods is perfect as the gruff, cynical leader of a team of Vatican-sponsored vampire hunters. But when his team is slaughtered by a powerful vampire master, he must team up with a naïve young priest to prevent the vampire from acquiring a powerful relic.
Quantum of Solace (Oct 1)
Picking up right where Casino Royale left off, Quantum of Solace finds James Bond (Daniel Craig) in hot pursuit of a shadowy international organization with designs on Bolivia’s water supply — and its fingers in the upper reaches of MI6. Along the way, he meets a mysterious woman (Olga Kurylenko) with an agenda of her own. Quantum of Solace is one of the darker, grittier, and more violent Bond movies.
The Big Hit (Oct 1)
Directed by Kirk Wong and produced by John Woo, The Big Hit was an attempt at injecting Hollywood action movies with some Hong Kong cinema magic. The results are decidedly mixed. Mark Wahlberg leads a group of assassins who find themselves in over their heads when a kidnapping goes awry, and things get even more complicated when Wahlberg’s character falls for their target. The humor is pretty crass and lowbrow, and the violence is gratuitous, but even so, it might make for an enjoyable Friday night guilty pleasure.
Here’s everything arriving on and leaving Amazon in October 2020.
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (Oct 9)
In this adaptation of the third book in C. S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, three children unexpectedly find themselves back in the land of Narnia. There, they must help a young king on a perilous voyage to track down a group of missing nobles, a voyage that may take them to the end of the world. It’s still no Lord of the Rings, and Lewis purists may find plenty of criticize, but it’s still a fine adventure film in its own way.
X2: X‑Men United (Oct 9)
X2 features one of my favorite superhero movie scenes of all time, when the mutant Nightcrawler uses his teleportation powers to wreak havoc in the Oval Office. That scene aside, X2 is still one of the best superhero movies of all time: in addition to all of the kick-ass mutant superpower action, the film does a fine job of exploring the themes of discrimination and bigotry that have been part of the X‑Men since their start back in 1963.
The Mandalorian Season 2 (Oct 30)
Mando and Baby Yoda are back! The second season of the hit Star Wars series picks up where the first one left off, with the enigmatic bounty hunter and his young ward on the run from Imperial forces who are extremely interested in the youngster’s abilities. There are reports that fan favorite Ahsoka Tano will make an appearance this season as well as Temuera Morrison, who portrayed Jango Fett in Star Wars Episode II. Could a Mandalorian showdown be in the works?
Here’s everything arriving on and leaving Disney+ in October 2020.
Constantine (Oct 1)
As an adaptation of the long-running Hellblazer comic, Constantine ticked off fans by casting Keanu Reeves as the cynical British sorcerer/occult expert/con-man John Constantine and transplanting him to California. But once you get past that (not to mention the film’s muddled plot and theology), Constantine can still be a fun Hollywood-level “B” movie. The plot: when Constantine agrees to help a detective (Rachel Weisz) solve the mystery of her sister’s suicide, they’re both drawn into the long-running conflict between Heaven and Hell. Cue the special effects, gross demons, and Reeves’ inimitable watchability.
Enter the Dragon (Oct 1)
Enter the Dragon was the final film that Bruce Lee completed before his untimely death at the age of 32, and it was the film that sealed Lee’s status as the greatest martial arts actor of all time. Enter the Dragon’s plot is pretty straightforward — Lee must use his skills to infiltrate a martial arts competition run by a ruthless crime lord — but it’s all about Lee’s charisma, lighting fast fists and feet, and superhuman skill with the nunchaku. Enter the Dragon also stars John Saxon, Jim Kelly, Angela Mao, and Bolo Yeung.
Galaxy Quest (Oct 1)
The premise — actors from a classic sci-fi TV series are kidnapped by aliens who believe the show to be real — makes it sound like Galaxy Quest does nothing but poke fun at all things Star Trek. Which it does, and brilliantly so, but its jokes are coming from a place of love. As a result, it’s the best kind of parody, one that recognizes the inherent silliness of Star Trek while also capturing what makes Star Trek so great in the first place. By Grabthar’s hammer, indeed.
Lethal Weapon (Oct 1)
One of the great buddy cop movies. No, scratch that… Lethal Weapon is the buddy cop movie. Written by Shane Black and directed by Richard Donner, this movie has it all: a by-the-books officer close to retirement, his new partner (who happens to be unhinged), a crazy conspiracy that pushes them to the edge of the law and beyond. Basically, it created the template for all buddy cop movies to follow… and it’s still the best one ever.
The Matrix (Oct 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 muddled up the mythology a bit. But there’s no denying that The Matrix is a sci-fi/action movie classic. Whoa…
Sherlock Holmes (Oct 1)
Sherlock Holmes has been endlessly reinvented over the years, so why not give Guy Ritchie a turn? Ritchie brings his noted visual style to the world’s most famous detective, with Robert Downey Jr. starring as Holmes and Jude Law as his right-hand man, Doctor Watson. Together, the inimitable duo must defeat an aristocratic killer whose experiments in blending science and the occult appear to have brought him back from the dead.
Here’s everything arriving on and leaving HBO Max in October 2020.