Even More Great Stuff On Netflix In October
Aaron Sorkin’s new film stands out as Netflix’s highlight during the second half of October. It recounts a notorious 1960s trial where the victims of high profile police brutality wind up being the ones put on trial.
But there are other delights as well. In an unusual haunted house tale, the haunting victims don’t have the option of leaving. “The Witch”’s Anya Taylor-Joy demonstrates the thin line between genius and madness in the competitive chess world. A classic Oscar-nominated lesbian romance makes a welcome return to Netflix. So check out the cream of what’s coming in the next couple of weeks.
Grand Army–In this dramatic series, a multi-racial group of teens attend the titular high school while navigating today’s challenges facing their cohort. Such issues as zero tolerance policies, slut shaming, racism, and homelessness come up over the course of these episodes.
La Revolution–Want to see a series where an aroused populace exacts bloody vengeance on rich scumbags? This French show delivers an alternate imagining of the origins and history of the French Revolution. Key to this story is Blue Blood, a mysterious disease that causes aristocrats to murder commoners. Needless to say the mysterious Brotherhood now has another reason to overthrow the aristocracy. The series’ central character, though, is one Joseph Guillotin, whose future invention the guillotine saw heavy use in the Revolution’s wake.
Someone Has To Die–This Spanish thriller mini-series is set in the socially conservative world of 1950s Spain. A well-to-do couple summon their son back from Mexico so he can meet his future fiancee. Imagine their surprise when said son arrives with the mysterious male ballet dancer Lazaro in tow. Wonder if Lazaro’s presence (and what it implies) brings out someone’s murderous nature?
The Trial Of The Chicago 7–Aaron Sorkin writes and directs this semi-fictionalized re-telling of the notorious trial known as “the shame of American justice.” On August 28, 1968, an army of 23,000 cops waded into a gathering of 15,000 anti-Vietnam War protesters and gratuitously cracked a lot of protesters’ skulls…on live television. Yet the trial that resulted from the incident prosecuted the eight protest leaders for allegedly conspiring to incite a (police) riot. A fantastic cast includes Sacha Baron Cohen as Abbie Hoffman and Eddie Redmayne as Tom Hayden. One of Netflix’s must-sees of the month.
Unfriended–High school student Laura Barns commits suicide after a video of her in a very embarrassing party moment goes viral. One year later, Laura’s former best friend Blaire is chatting on Skype with her fellow classmates when the mysterious “billie227” joins the chat. At first, the other teens suspect they’re being pranked. But they’re not. They’re just going to get a very brutal lesson from beyond the grave on the costs of cyberbullying.
Paranorman–Netflix brings back one of the best animated films of this century. Norman is an 11-year-old boy who’s not too crazy about his ability to see and speak with the dead. However, that talent comes in handy when a centuries old witch’s curse threatens to destroy Norman’s home town of Blithe Hollow. Stop-motion animation has never been rendered with the sophistication shone here.
Unsolved Mysteries: Volume 2–Catch six new cases in Netflix’s revival of the cold case crime documentary series. The subjects of the new cases include a former White House aide whose corpse turns up in a landfill, two children who disappear from a New York City playground in broad daylight, and a fugitive convicted killer who’s still at large thanks to hinky circumstances. Maybe you might know something that can crack these cases at last.
Carol–One of the best lesbian romances ever put on film returns to Netflix. In 1952 New York City, Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara) is both a department store clerk and aspiring photographer. During this memorable holiday season, the elegant Carol Aird (Cate Blanchett) catches Therese’s eye. Fascination turns to passion and much more. But can these women stay together at a time when lesbian relationships are treated as signs of mental illness and maternal unfitness?
Rebecca–Director Ben Wheatley (A Field In England) helms this new adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s classic mystery. A somewhat naive young woman (Lily James) marries the handsome and dashing Maxim de Winter (Armie Hammer), becoming his second wife. But the new Mrs. de Winter soon finds herself treated as an interloper living in the shadow of the long deceased first Mrs. de Winter, the titular Rebecca. And what is the new Mrs. de Winter to make of signs that Rebecca’s death may have been more than simple misfortune?
Cadaver–In this Norwegian horror film, a family of three struggles to survive in the wake of a nuclear disaster. Attending a charity theatre event with other survivors offers a break for the family, especially as the hotel for the event tosses in a free meal. At the event, the theatre director Mathias announces that the entire hotel is the stage. To separate actors from attendees, the latter will wear masks. But as the play progresses, audience members start disappearing…including the aforementioned family’s daughter.
Yes, God, Yes–Not a classic, but it’s not every day a halfway decent “coming-of-age masturbation comedy about a teenage girl” comes along. It’s the early aughts, and Catholic school girl Alice finds her strict sex-phobic education really hasn’t prepared her to deal with puberty. For example, does getting turned on by the car scene from “Titanic” mean you’re going to Hell? But a rumor that Alice performed a certain sexual act (which she’s never heard of) at a party really sends her into a tailspin. Attending a spiritual retreat to purge her impure thoughts might seem to be the answer. But the presence of the hunky Chris suggests otherwise.
Barbarians–This German mini-series tells the story of the battle of the Teutoburg forest from the Germans’ POV. In 9 A.D., the apparently unstoppable Roman Empire was expanding into the Germanic tribes’ lands. To repel the foreign invaders, the endangered Germanic tribes form an alliance. Arminius, the leader of the Germanic army, has a couple of very big aces: his Roman citizenship and his knowledge of Roman military tactics. Expect lots of bloodshed by the time the mini-series finishes.
The Queen’s Gambit–In 1950s America, young orphan Beth Harmon (Anya Taylor-Joy) reveals herself to be a chess prodigy. As she rises through the world chess ranks and slowly matures, her gift for playing the game grows. Yet is her success only due to her being a woman in a male-dominated field? And is Beth’s self-medication with tranquilizers and booze signs of her growing independence or her growing self-destructiveness?
Guillermo Vilas: Settling The Score–Was Argentine tennis legend Guillermo Vilas screwed out of his due as the Number 1 tennis player in the world? Vilas spent more than 40 years claiming that’s precisely what happened, but without success. Sports journalist Eduardo Puppo takes up Vilas’ cause. Yet Puppo’s crusade against one of the world’s biggest sports corporations would last more than a decade.
Metallica Through The Never–Will this combination concert film/Mad Max-style adventure film still look impressive without either 3-D effects or IMAX? The concert part of the film features heavy metal band Metallica performing songs from its 30-year catalog at Edmonton, Alberta’s Rexall Place arena. That performance is marked by a Tesla coil shooting lightning bolts and an incredibly packed concert hall. The Mad Max portion follows a Metallica roadie named Trip who has to retrieve an important bag for the band. But that journey takes him through a land where civilization has broken down and a Horseman of the Apocalypse pursues him.
His House–A South Sudanese couple (Sope Dirisu, “Gangs Of New York”; Wunmi Mosaku, “Lovecraft Country”) flee their country’s horrors to seek refugee status in England. While the couple’s case is pending, a social worker (Matt Smith, “Doctor Who”) puts them up in a rather ratty house in a small town. The couple must stay in the house lest they endanger their application for refugee status. But what should they do when the house they live in turns out to be haunted?
Somebody Feed Phil Season 4–Don’t worry about jumping in late to this food and travel series because the concept’s straightforward. The titular Phil happens to be “Everyone Loves Raymond” creator Phil Rosenthal. In each episode, Rosenthal travels to a different world city to try out a local dish such as handmade tortillas in Mexico City or crab omelets in Bangkok. He treats these culinary adventures as opportunities to both meet interesting people and have a nice bite to eat.
Suburra: Blood On Rome Season 3–The final season of this Italian crime thriller arrives at last. In Rome, the state, the church, and the Mafia all ruthlessly vie for power and control of the city. With the coming of the Jubilee, there’s a huge opportunity for control of illegal trafficking, dirty money, and even more power. Whoever controls the Jubilee can claim the throne of Rome. But a throne worth coveting is also a throne that demands a high price be paid to possess it.