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Even More Great Stuff Playing on Netflix in July

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Ip Man 4

Netflix has not run out of good stuff to show in July.  In the second part of this preview, you’ll hear about:  a TV mini-series co-created by actress Cate Blanchett; the return of a very wonky superhero series; a deep dive with Laney College’s football team; an Academy Award-winning drama about a scandal’s discovery; and Charlize Theron playing the leader of a very unusual mercenary team. You can check out part 1 of our July Netflix recommendations right here.  

July 8

Stateless

Stateless–Actress Cate Blanchett co-created this mini-series dramatizing the problems of the immigration detention system.  The real-life Cornelia Rau case provided the initial inspiration for this story.  In an immigrant detention center in the Australian desert, the paths of four different people converge:  Sofie (Yvonne Strahovski, “The Handmaid’s Tale”), a flight attendant exiled from a cult-like dance troupe; Ameer, an Afghan refugee fleeing the Taliban with his family; Cam, a new detention center guard; and Claire, the center’s P.R. flack.  As these characters’ stories slowly converge, it becomes clear that “succeeding” in the detention system means not doing the right thing. 

July 9

Japan Sinks: 2020–Taking the central premise of Sakyo Komatsu’s classic 1973 disaster novel, this anime series tells an entirely new story.  After a series of massive earthquakes hits Japan, the entire country starts slowly sinking into the sea.  The Muto family tries to survive by trekking across Japan in search of higher ground.  However, food and drinkable water have become scarce, and other survivors have abandoned social niceties in the disaster’s wake.

July 10

The Claudia Kishi ClubFor the unacquainted, Claudia Kishi is one of the main characters in the best-selling novel series (and new Netflix adaptation) “The Baby-Sitters Club.”  Instead of conforming to popular Asian stereotypes, Claudia is a blossoming artist, popular, and terrible at school work.  For young Asian-American women (and even other women of color), young Kishi was the first popular media character that they could relate to.  Now several Asian-American artists and writers pay tribute to Claudia, and their tributes demonstrate why media representation matters.

The Old Guard

The Old Guard–Co-creator Greg Rucka scripts this adaptation of his action-fantasy graphic novel series.  Andi (Charlize Theron) leads a team of near-immortal mercenaries who have quietly protected humanity for literal centuries.  But now a couple of major crises have arisen.  Somebody wants to acquire the secrets of the mercenaries’ longevity and fantastic healing powers.  And a young soldier named Nile might very well become the newest member of Andi’s group.

The Twelve–The screenplay for this Belgian TV series won an award at the 2019 Cannes Series Festival.  In this courtroom drama, school principal Frie Palmers stands accused of murdering both her best friend and her own daughter.  The titular twelve refers to the ordinary people selected for the jury that will decide Palmers’ fate.  But playing an unspoken influence on the jurors’ decision-making process are their own dark secrets. 

July 14

The Business Of Drugs–In this documentary mini-series, former CIA analyst Amaryllis Fox takes viewers inside the economic forces that drive the illicit drug trade.  Each episode looks at a different illicit drug such as meth or opioids.  Following the drug trade business routes will lead to such places as the Myanmar jungles and states with legalized weed.

July 17

Boca a Boca (Kissing Game)–In a sleepy Brazilian cattle-ranching town, an epidemic outbreak throws the town’s youths into panic mode.  The disease is apparently transmitted by kissing.  But if kissing becomes taboo, how can a young person continue to claim intimacy with another person?

Cursed–This re-imagining of Arthurian legend focuses on the origins of Nimue, the woman who will eventually become the Lady of the Lake.  When Nimue’s home village of magic-sensitive Druids gets slaughtered by the Red Paladins, the teenager sets out on a quest to find a legendary sword called Excalibur.  Her hope is to use the weapon to save her people and exact some vengeance against the invaders.  But Fate might have other plans…  Based on the graphic novel written by Tom Wheeler and drawn by Frank Miller.

July 19

The Last Dance–Angry you missed this epic ESPN documentary on the history of the Chicago Bulls?  Then don’t sleep on this streaming opportunity!  Framed around the Bulls’ efforts to pull off a 6th NBA championship, the 10-hour series goes back in time to re-trace the Bulls’ history.  Along the way, expect to see appearances by Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Dennis Rodman.

July 20

How To Sell Drugs Online (Fast)

How To Sell Drugs Online (Fast) Season 2–Nerdy 17-year-old Moritz Zimmermann just started out wanting to regain the affections of his former girlfriend. But his devising a way to quickly move massive amounts of MDMA online soon turns him into a drug kingpin. In season 2, the success of Moritz’ MyDrugs operation sparks a decision to ramp up operations.  But with bigger success comes bigger dangers.  Amazingly, this comedy/drama is based on a true story.  German viewers have made this series the most popular German Netflix Original shown in that country.

Ip Man 4: The Finale–Donnie Yen portrays the titular renowned Wing Chun master for what might be the last time.  A cancer diagnosis causes Ip Man to take up his student Bruce Lee’s suggestion of coming to America and finding a good school for his son.  However, the master’s efforts are complicated by a couple of big problems.  The heads of American martial arts schools want Ip Man to pressure Lee to stop teaching martial arts to Westerners.  Meanwhile racists, particularly Gunnery Sergeant Barton Geddes, want to use everything from the INS to skull-cracking to put down the local Chinese community.  

Street Food: Latin America–Daivd Gelb’s documentary series looks at the best street food in a particular region of the world.  This time, the series goes to six Latin American countries (Colombia, Mexico, and Argentina are three of them).  Food porn visuals will hopefully make viewers’ mouths water.  But the series also delivers sober notes about the places that these dishes are created in.  

July 22

Love On The Spectrum

Love On The Spectrum–If you thought having autism meant not being able to date or have relationships, this reality show from Australia may show you otherwise.  It follows seven 20-ish autistic singles on various points of the autism spectrum as they navigate everything from first steps to long-term relationships.

Spotlight–It began as a simple suggestion from the new Boston Globe editor Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber).  A recent Globe piece about the Boston Archdiocese’s sketchy handling of various abuse cases seemed to Baron to deserve a deeper investigation by the Globe’s investigative journalism Spotlight team.  Once the team members overcome their initial reluctance and local loyalties, their continual digging eventually reveals a sexual abuse scandal that reaches to the highest levels of Boston’s Catholic Church.  The 2015 Academy Award winner for Best Picture delivers a powerful dramatic demonstration that if journalists are “enemies of the people,” then the people in question tend to be powerful folks with spectacularly unsavory things to hide. 

July 28

Last Chance U: Laney–Netflix’ critically acclaimed documentary series goes to Oakland for its fifth season.  The series, for newbies, follows collegiate football players trying to revive their careers at junior college football teams.  Oakland’s Laney College team was chosen for this series partly because they’re the current national champions and current state college football champion.  Equally important is that team coach John Bearn has been named California Community College Coach of the Year and has produced over 20 NFL players.  But can Bearn turn his current players into winners in their college lives?

July 31

The Speed Cubers–Competitive speedcubing is the sport of solving Rubik’s Cube and other puzzles as quickly as possible.  The documentary looks at the two best speedcubers in the world, Feliks Zemdegs (Australia) and Max Park (US).  Zemdegs and Park are both friends and competitors.  But “between two friends there can only be one champion.”

Sugar Rush: Extra Sweet–Netflix’s dessert baking competition show returns with a new iteration involving more teams, bigger prizes, and the reappearance of judges from prior “Sugar Rush” episodes including the unforgettable Adriano Zumbo.  If you’re into baking competitions that will add inches to your waistline just by your drooling over the final results, then this might be the show for you. 

The Umbrella Academy

The Umbrella Academy Season 2–It’s the return of this adaptation of Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba’s comics series.  The Hargreeves are a dysfunctional family of superheroes who regrouped to save the world from apocalypse.  At the end of season 1, the heroes wound up being forced to jump back in time to the 1960s in hopes of stopping not one but two apocalypses.  However, the members of the group wind up getting separated and spread across a three-year time period.  What happened to each of them during that time gap?  What will happen when they reunite?  Will they still be able to stop the apocalypses?

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Peter Wong

Peter Wong

I've been reviewing films for quite a few years now, principally for the online publication Beyond Chron. My search for unique cinematic experiences and genre dips have taken me everywhere from old S.F. Chinatown movie theaters showing first-run Jackie Chan movies to the chilly slopes of Park City. Movies having cat pron instantly ping my radar.

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