There’s SO Much Great Stuff on Netflix in October!
On Netflix, October’s first half brings such expected scary shows as the new season of Mike Flanagan’s “Haunting” series and a film about monster-hunting babysitters. But who would have expected a German series mixing beer and violence? Or seeing an acclaimed film about imagining the filmmaker’s father’s death? Or even a semi-autobiographical tale of a soon-to-be-middle-aged woman trying to reinvent herself as a rapper? All these and more can be found in the suggestions below.
The Binding–In this Italian horror thriller, a trip to the South of Italy turns into a deadly struggle against paranormal forces. A woman brings her young daughter on a visit to her fiance’s mother. However, she must soon fight for her child’s safety against a mysteriously malevolent curse which might claim the daughter.
Dick Johnson Is Dead–One of this month’s must-see Netflix offerings is this new documentary from Kirsten Johnson (“Cameraperson”). When the director learns her titular father has been diagnosed with dementia, she’s determined to avoid a repeat of the personal agony that followed her mother succumbing to Alzheimer’s. She asks Dick Johnson to make a movie with her. In this film, not only will they talk about the father’s impending demise, but they’ll enact his demise in several staged accidents.
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Fargo–Auto sales executive Jerry Lundergaard (William H. Macy) hires Carl Showalter (Steve Buscemi) and his silent partner (Peter Stormare) to kidnap his wife for a $40,000 ransom plus a new car. However, Lundergaard plans to keep the ransom for himself. Naturally things go badly wrong. Add into the mix pregnant Police Chief Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand) and her painter husband Norm, and you’ve got the elements for one of the Coen Brothers’ best films.
Food Wars (Shokugeki No Souma): The Second Plate–Trust anime to take the concept of cooking competitions to next-level craziness. Souma Yukihira is enrolled at the elite cooking school known as Tootsuki Culinary Academy. Standards there are so high that only 10% of its students ever graduate. Not helping matters are the school’s frequent food wars, where the students face off against each other in high stakes cooking showdowns. Souma’s creative skills as sous chef for his father’s restaurant has gotten him this far in the school. But in this new season, the stakes have gotten bigger.
Good Morning Veronica–After a woman named Marta Campos bloodily commits suicide at a police station, police clerk Veronica wants to investigate the reason for Campos’ death. The trail leads to a dating site stalked by a predator. But Veronica also finds herself facing a conspiracy to cover up the spousal abuse of a woman named Janete Cruz.
Her–Spike Jonze wrote and directed this science fiction romance set in a near-future Los Angeles. Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) is a lonely sensitive man who’s coming off a very rough divorce. Love comes back into his life in the form of Samantha (Scarlett Johansson), a woman who seems a perfect emotional fit for him. However, the two of them can’t physically touch…because Samantha happens to be the voice of Theodore’s new sentient computer operating system.
Hunt For The Wilderpeople–Director Taika Waititi brings something fresh to the “troubled teen looking for a father figure” story. Ricky has been bouncing in and out of foster homes for way too long. New foster mother Bella soon offers the possibility of Ricky’s finally finding the right home. However, thanks to a cruel twist of fate, the teen becomes a fugitive. Bella’s hunter husband Mac finds Ricky, but too late to prevent the authorities from stepping in and starting a national manhunt for the pair.
The Longest Yard (1974)–When former professional football player Paul Crewe (Burt Reynolds) gets sentenced to serving time in Citrus State Prison, football-crazy warden Rudolph Hazen (Eddie Albert, channeling President Richard Nixon) sees opportunity. He pressures Crewe to put together a team of inmates to take on his semi-professional football team of prison guards. Hazen encourages the guards to use every dirty trick possible to win. However, the inmates see the game as payback time for all the abuse inflicted by the guards.
Oktoberfest: Beer And Blood–In 1900, ambitious brewer Curt Prank wants to build at the Munich Oktoberfest a beer tent that can seat 6,000 people. To realize that ambition, he’s quite willing to do everything from blackmail to murder to make the tent happen. While this German TV series is loosely based on actual events, it does bring in actual historical coincidences as well as rich historical detail from the period (e.g. “angel makers”).
Oloture–In this Nigerian crime drama, young and somewhat naive reporter Oloture goes undercover to expose human trafficking operations in the country. Yet how much will her dignity and standards yield to depravity so she can complete her mission? Given that human trafficking might very well be a major economic engine of the Nigerian economy, the answer won’t be easy.
The Pirates! Band Of Misfits–Aardman Animations (aka the “Wallace & Gromit” folks) goes for anachronistic historical humor with this stop-motion animated tale of a ragtag group of pirates led by the Pirate Captain (Hugh Grant). The Captain wants this year to be the one he finally wins the Pirate of the Year award. However, the path to the award takes this pirate crew through misadventures with Charles Darwin (David Tennant), a monkey butler, and a steampunk zeppelin. And if you ever wondered whether it’s possible to do an animated film which seamlessly works in music from such bands as The Pogues and The Clash, here you go.
Song Exploder–This new documentary series follows the same format as the popular podcast that inspired it. In each episode, a famous musician will share the story behind the creation of a key song from their career. Featured artists include Alicia Keys, R.E.M., and Lin-Manuel Miranda.
You Cannot Hide, Season 1–In this Spanish thriller, nurse Monica Saldana has fled to Spain with her daughter to escape her drug-trafficker husband. However, said angry husband has hired cop turned hitman Daniel to go to Spain and kill Monica and her daughter. Things start getting complicated after Monica unknowingly saves Daniel’s life in the wake of a terrorist attack. Be aware that every episode ends on a cliffhanger, so if you’re looking for something to binge watch…
Dolly Parton: Here I Am–For those who need reminding why singer Dolly Parton is good people, this film does the job. It traces Parton’s life from her poor origins to her becoming a country music star and philanthropist (e.g. Imagination Library). The film also shows Parton the warm and witty person. Viewers will even meet her husband, the very reclusive Carl Dean.
Schitt’s Creek Season 6–Hot on the heels of its sweeping this year’s Emmys, the Canadian comedy series arrives with its final season. Obviously, this isn’t the season that newbies should start with. Fortunately, Netflix has also made the earlier seasons available. The series concerns the efforts of the once wealthy Rose family to re-invent their lives after losing their fortune. They do so while stuck in the titular town they bought as a joke.
Deaf U–Think you know what the deaf experience is like? Then you need to get your eyes opened by checking out this docuseries. It follows the day-to-day lives of four students from Gallaudet University, the premiere college facility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing.
The Forty-Year-Old Version–Radha Blank won a Best Director award at Sundance for this comedy in which she plays a fictionalized version of herself. Blank is a few months shy of 40 and has little to show for her early potential as a playwright. Being deeply insecure about her talent and her future doesn’t help matters. In hopes of an artistic reinvention, the once budding playwright turns to rapping. But what happens when Blank discovers she’s not quite completely comfortable in this artistic field either?
The Haunting Of Bly Manor–Director Mike Flanagan returns with a new season of his “Haunting” anthology series. This time around, he’s updating the classic Henry James ghost story “The Turn Of The Screw” to the 1980s. After the previous au pair dies, a young American nanny is hired to care for two orphaned children living at the titular manor. But a number of strange occurrences makes her believe the manor is haunted.
Kipo And The Age Of Wonderbeasts Season 3–The final season of one of the best animated adventures in recent memory arrives. Kipo lives in a post-apocalyptic future where humans live underground while Mutes (mutants) roam the surface, and prejudice between the two races is the norm…until Kipo discovers otherwise. In Season 3, the evil Dr. Emilia plans to make the surface “safe” for humans by eliminating all of Mutekind. Kipo, on the other hand, envisions a world where humans and Mutes live together in harmony. But to stop Dr. Emilia and make her dream a reality, can Kipo rise to the challenge?
The Cabin With Bert Kreischer–In this docuseries, comedian Bert Kreischer’s worn down by the grind of being a professional comedian. To recharge his batteries, he’s going into the wilderness for a “purifying retreat.” Given the bizarre therapy techniques, insane physical challenges, and improvised encounters with nature that befall him, purification might not be easily within reach. Fortunately, Kreischer’s comrades in comedy such as Tom Segura and Fortune Feimster drop in to share chuckles over Kreischer’s experiences.
Moneyball–How did the Oakland A’s 2002 season go from 11 consecutive losses to a record-breaking 20-game winning streak? This adaptation of Michael Lewis’ book of the same name tells that story. Oakland A’s manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) has to rebuild his team into a group of winners despite offering Major League Baseball’s lowest salaries. The answer comes from the cost-benefit analysis theories of Peter Brand (Jonah Hill). The idea is to seek out undervalued players whose game-winning skills were overlooked by team scouts. But not only do Brand’s theories need to pan out on the field, but they must also overcome hostility from the more old school members of A’s management.
A Babysitter’s Guide To Monster Hunting–High school freshman Kelly Ferguson never expected to be recruited into an international secret society of babysitters. But that’s exactly what happens after she agrees to babysit Jacob Zellman. The boy possesses special magical powers, and these secret babysitters protect kids like Jacob from the monsters that want to harm or exploit them. Based on the first book in Joe Ballarini’s series.
Half & Half Seasons 1-4–The complete series of this very popular UPN sitcom makes its Netflix debut. Mona and Dee Dee may have had the same father. But neither one knew of the other half-sister’s existence as they were raised in two separate families in two completely different ways. Now in their 20s, the two half-sisters accidentally encounter each other again thanks to their being tenants in the same San Francisco apartment building. Will they build a sisterly bond or drive each other crazy first?
One On One Seasons 1-5–Another classic black TV sitcom gets revived on Netflix. Sportscaster Flex Washington lives the single man’s life of luxury in his Baltimore apartment. That is, until teenage daughter Breanna comes to live with him. Her mother (and Flex’s ex-wife) Nicole has taken a job in Nova Scotia, and needs a place for Breanna to stay. Can Flex juggle being both a ladies’ man and a responsible full-time father to Breanna? (Warning: the series underwent a radical change of direction in its final season, which will turn off some fans of the earlier seasons.)
Rooting For Roona–This documentary traces the story of Roona Begum. Born with Hydrocephalus, the baby seems fated to permanently live with the disease. Her parents Abdul and Fatema live a hand-to-mouth existence in Tripura, located in the North-East corner of India. The government hospitals in the area have inadequate resources to treat Roona’s condition. What sparks a chance to change Roona’s fate from that of thousands of other children in her situation is a photo-journalist’s photograph of her…
Social Distance–This new anthology series comes from Jenji Kohan, creator of “Orange Is The New Black.” In eight standalone tales, people isolated during the initial months of COVID-19 lockdowns use technology in various ways to maintain a sense of human connection. Stories feature “Orange Is The New Black”’s Danielle Brooks as a Latinx mother, “Luke Cage”’s Mike Colter as a bachelor working out, and “Dead To Me”’s Max Jenkins and “Will And Grace”’s Brian Jordan Alvarez playing a gay couple who’ve stopped having sex.