September 2019’s Best Streaming Titles: Lord of the Rings, Sturgill Simpson, Lethal Weapon, The Good Place, High Noon, Mad Max

Tolkien’s epic saga, country-fied anime, Riggs and Murtaugh, holy shirt, a classic western, Max Rockatansky, and more.
The good place
NBC’s The Good Place

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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The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (September 1)

The final film in Peter Jackson’s acclaimed adaptation of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings novels is silver screen fantasy filmmaking on an almost mind-boggling scale. It doesn’t always work — Jackson occasionally indulges his worst impulses as a filmmaker — but it’s still epic fantasy of the highest order, as Frodo attempts to destroy the evil Ring of Power while Gandalf, Aragorn, and the rest of Fellowship battle Sauron on other fronts.

Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress: The Battle of Unato (September 13)

Set in a steampunk version of feudal Japan, Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress is an action-packed anime series in which human survivors travel by train through a zombie-infested countryside. I enjoyed the anime series for what it is — read my review — so I’m looking forward to this movie sequel, which finds the series’ survivors still battling zombie hordes, while also facing an even greater menace.

Surviving R. Kelly, Season 1 (September 15)

Originally released as a mini-series on the Lifetime channel, Surviving R. Kelly explores the allegations of abuse and pedophilia that have surrounded the singer R. Kelly for years. The series features interviews with women claiming to be Kelly’s victims, as well as activists and other musicians. Since the series’ original airing, Kelly has been dropped by his record label and arrested for sexual abuse.

The Grandmaster (September 26)

The name Wong Kar-wai usually brings to mind beautiful, if oblique romantic dramas like In the Mood for Love and Chungking Express. But with The Grandmaster, the mercurial director applies his inimitable style to martial arts cinema as he tells the story of Ip Man, a Wing Chun grandmaster (and mentor of Bruce Lee), and his relationship with a rival master. The Grandmaster stars Tony Leung Chiu-Wai as Ip Man, Zhang Ziyi, and Chang Chen.

Sturgill Simpson Presents Sound & Fury (September 27)

Acclaimed country singer Sturgill Simpson presents a post-apocalyptic samurai film inspired by his upcoming album? How can I not watch this? This is the sort of bizarre, out of the box, “what were they thinking” type of filmmaking that I love to see Netflix supporting. The anime film features the talents of Jumpei Mizusaki (Batman Ninja, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure) and Takashi Okazaki (Afro Samurai).

Here’s everything arriving on and leaving Netflix in September 2019.


Demolition Man (September 1)

In the distant future of 2032, criminals are cryogenically frozen and rehabilitated. As a result, crime is at an all-time low. But when a vicious criminal (Wesley Snipes) escapes the system, the police are unable to deal with him. Fortunately, they’ve got a cop (Sylvester Stallone) on ice who’s equally vicious. Demolition Man is early-90s cinematic cheese at its best, a big-budget “B” movie from a time when major Hollywood studios weren’t afraid to release such fare.

Evil Dead II (September 1)

I didn’t really know what to expect the first time I watched Evil Dead II, but I don’t think I was expecting it to be as over-the-top funny as it is. Bruce Campbell — in his most iconic role — is Ash Williams, who just wanted a romantic weekend with his girlfriend in a remote cabin, only to find himself facing off against unimaginable evil with nothing but a shotgun, a chainsaw, and a perfect blend of gore and slapstick comedy.

Lethal Weapon (September 1)

A grizzled cop this close to retirement is partnered with a loose cannon with a death wish. Together, they find themselves in way over their heads when they take on a shadowy drug cartel. Thanks to Shane Black’s crackling script and Richard Donner’s stylish direction, Lethal Weapon not only spawned multiple sequels, but is arguably the best “buddy cop” film of all time.

Miami Vice (September 1)

Whereas Lethal Weapon’s take on the “buddy cop” genre utilized humor and action, Miami Vice’s oozes style and atmosphere. This big screen adaptation of the classic ’80s series keeps the Florida setting, as well as the fancy clothes and cars. However, director Michael Mann ups the suspense and tension; his unique digital filmmaking imbues the film with captivating intensity and immediacy. The film stars Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx as Crockett as Tubbs, as well as Ciarán Hinds, John Hawkes, and Chinese film legend Gong Li.

Suicide Kings (September 1)

In this twisty thriller, a group of college buddies kidnap a former mob boss and hold him for ransom. But as the evening unfolds, it becomes increasingly less clear just who, exactly, is in control of the situation. Starring Christopher Walken, Denis Leary, and Jay Mohr, Suicide Kings is a delightful indie crime caper that may borrow liberally from Tarantino, but still deserves to be seen on its own merits.

The Matrix (September 1)

Earlier this month, it was announced that Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss would be reuniting for a fourth Matrix movie. So now’s as good a time as any to rewatch the original Matrix film, which still feels fresh and exciting after all these years thanks to a blend of cyberpunk style, religious and philosophical references, groundbreaking special effects, kung fu, and guns… lots of guns.

The Good Place, Season 4 (September 27)

Holy mother-forking shirtballs! The final season of NBC’s The Good Place arrives on Hulu in September, and it’s definitely bittersweet. On the one hand, it’s good to go out while you’re on top, and make no mistake, The Good Place is one of the best things on TV right now. On the other hand, I’m really going to miss the show, which blends absurdist humor with the most delightful characters and some surprisingly thoughtful questions about the meaning and purpose of existence.

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

Amazon Prime

Ghost World (September 30)

Based on Daniel Clowes acclaimed comic, Ghost World is an acerbic film following two best friends — played by Thora Birch and Scarlett Johansson — who’ve just graduated from high school and are trying to figure out what’s next in life. The film’s humor is as dry and bleak as the Sahara, and yet it’s hard not to feel compassion for its disaffected characters. The film also stars Steve Buscemi, Brad Renfro, and David Cross.

High Noon (September 30)

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 arriving in town at noon. His attempts to form a posse to meet the gang all fail, so he must face them 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.

Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (September 30)

The Road Warrior is one of the prototypical post-apocalyptic films, featuring nomads trying to eke out a living in the blasted wastelands of the Australian outback. Max Rockatansky (Mel Gibson) is a lonely survivor who falls in with a group of settlers fighting over precious resources with a vicious gang, with the result being some of the greatest and most intense action scenes of all time.

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (September 30)

Dr. Buckaroo Banzai is many things: physicist, neurosurgeon, test pilot, rock star. He’ll need all of those talents, as well as his brave comrades in the Hong Kong Cavaliers, to save Earth from the evil Red Lectroids, who’ve been trapped in the 8th dimension by the Black Lectroids of Planet 10. If any part of that description sounds like the best movie ever, then you’ve probably already watched this multiple times. If you haven’t, then you’re in for a treat: Buckaroo Banzai is cult cinema par excellence.

Here’s everything arriving on and leaving Amazon in September 2019.

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