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All The Great Stuff Coming To Netflix In August

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“Is it time to forgive Benioff and Weiss for lousing up the final season of ‘Game Of Thrones?’” is probably not the question Netflix hopes viewers will ask about the duo’s debut on the streaming service. But it’s a question that will come up anyway given the high profile talent associated with their new series.

This month’s highlights include more than a little comfort food programming. There’s an animated prequel to a popular Netflix fantasy adventure series and a documentary that looks at the real-life inspiration for a popular German Netflix offering. Several series deal with loved ones whose dark secrets come out in the worst possible way. And there’s even a sequel to a popular documentary about the Miami drug underworld scene.

Fortunately, there are a few titles this month that do offer something new. The aforementioned Benioff and Weiss show does give Sandra Oh another chance to shine as a series lead. Lin-Manuel Miranda does his first animated musical, which is also a tribute to Cuban music. And there’s even an award-winning Nigerian historical drama.

If none of this month’s suggestions appeal to you, maybe this might be the opportunity to catch up on something that premiered in a previous month such as “Penguin Town.” 

The Chair

August 1

Darwin’s Game–Ordinary Japanese high school student Kaname Sudou takes up an invitation to try a new game app called “Darwin’s Game.”  But this supposedly harmless battle game actually launches real-life clashes where each player uses a superpower known as a Sigil.  And these battles are to the death.  This anime is based on the manga by FLIPFLOPs.

August 3

Shiny_Flakes: The Teenage Drug Lord–Fan of the German series “How To Sell Drugs Online (Fast)?”  Now learn the true story that inspired the show.  Leipzig native Maximillian Schmidt created the Shiny Flakes drug empire literally out of his childhood bedroom.  By the time the German police shut Schmidt down, he had amassed 4.1 million Euros in illicit drugs.  However, how Schmidt pulled it all off and where he stashed the money from his drug sales still remain a mystery.

August 4

‘76–Several years after its Toronto Film Festival appearance, this acclaimed award-winning Nigerian historical drama is now available for worldwide consumption.  The setting is Nigeria, six years after an unsuccessful 1976 military coup and assassination attempt aimed at ousting General Murtala Mohammed.  The marriage between a young military officer and his pregnant wife has run into difficulties.   Husband and wife come from two different regions of Nigeria, the Middle Belt and the South-Eastern region.  The husband’s constant military postings have weakened the emotional ties of their marriage.  Now he’s been accused of being involved in the failed coup, and his wife doesn’t know what to believe about him.

Cocaine Cowboys: The Kings Of Miami—In the late 1970s and through the 1980s, Cuban American immigrants Willy Falcon and Sal Magluta dominated the Miami drug trade.  The childhood friends had gone from being high school dropouts to building a $2 billion 75-ton cocaine empire.  The Rakontur production company, whose prior film “Cocaine Cowboys” became a pop culture phenomenon, had wanted for years to do a documentary on Falcon, Magluta, and their organization Los Muchachos.  Now that Los Muchachos is no more and members of Falcon and Magluta’s inner circle finally agreed to talk to Rakontur’s people, this 6-part docuseries is the result.  Get ready to see the reality behind the fictions of “Miami Vice” and “Scarface.”

Pray Away

Control Z Season 2–It’s the return of the Mexican teen drama about the poisonous intersection of the teen years and social media.  A high school had been roiled by a hacker who threatened to leak various students’ secrets to the entire school.  The socially withdrawn but perceptive Sofia made it her mission to find and expose the hacker.  As the new season begins, Sofia has succeeded in her goal.  However, someone else is now carrying on the original hacker’s social media vengeance crusade.  And there’s still the fallout from the events ending the previous season. 

Pray Away–Ryan Murphy and Blumhouse Television produced this documentary about the rise and fall of Exodus International.  This religious organization was founded in the 1970s by five evangelicals who claimed religious LGBTs could become straight if they prayed away their homosexuality.  But this treatment, known as “conversion therapy,” bore the same relationship to psychotherapy that “creation science” bore to actual anthropological science.  Unsurprisingly, more than a few conversion therapy “success stories” have admitted to not having their homosexuality prayed away and are now actively talking about the emotional harm caused by this so-called therapy.

August 6

Navarasa Season 1–This Tamil anthology series is spearheaded by Mani Ratnam and filmmaker Jayendra Panchapakesan.  Each short film in the series is based on one of the nine classical rasas, the human emotions which include anger, courage, and peace.  There may be other feelings involved in a story, but only one emotion will propel a story’s protagonist into action.  Panchapakesan conceived of this project as a way of helping fellow workers in the Tamil film industry affected by the pandemic.

The Swarm—This French ecological horror film would have been shown at the 2020 Cannes Film Festival, but the Coronavirus pandemic forced a change of plans.  It’s set at a time when farmed locusts have become the hot new ecological protein source in France.  One such farmer is a single mother of two named Virginie.  However, she’s not producing enough locusts to pay the bills and otherwise make ends meet.  Then she accidentally discovers the secret ingredient needed to boost her locust production: blood.

Vivo

Vivo–Lin-Manuel Miranda (“In The Heights”) does his first animated musical in this love letter to such Cuban musicians as Celia Cruz and the Buena Vista Social Club.  Vivo (Miranda) is a singer-musician kinkajou who plays music with his owner Andres in a Havana square.  But when tragedy strikes, the rainforest honey bear must travel from Havana to Miami to deliver a love song to the retiring superstar Marta (Gloria Estefan).  Helping Vivo will be the tween Gabi.

August 11

Misha And The Wolves–Belgian Holocaust survivor Misha Defonseca claimed that at age 7, she set out on a trek through the woods from Belgium to Germany in search of her deported parents.  Amazingly, this little girl survived World War II by befriending a pack of wolves and becoming part of their pack.  A neighbor of Defonseca turned her story into an international best-selling book.  But questions soon arise over how much of Misha’s story was true and how much was an elaborate hoax.

August 13

Beckett–Beckett (John David Washington) is an American tourist vacationing in Greece with his girlfriend April (Alicia Vikander).  But when the car carrying the couple suddenly crashes, that’s when the trouble starts.  Beckett’s been framed for a terrible crime and becomes the object of a nationwide manhunt.  But can he clear himself by reaching the American embassy?  Aassassins are pursuing him because the car accident is somehow connected to a political conspiracy.  Unfortunately for Beckett, he lacks any sort of special survival skill that might help him get out of this mess.

Brand New Cherry Flavor

Brand New Cherry Flavor Season 1–This horror-thriller limited series is based on Todd Grimson’s cult classic.  Budding filmmaker Lisa N. Nova (Rosa Salazar) has come to 1990s Los Angeles with dreams of directing her first feature film.  However, a betrayal by a person Nova really shouldn’t have trusted turns her dream project into a nightmare.  She’ll soon encounter zombies,supernatural kittens, and a tattoo artist who likes putting curses on people.

Gone For Good—It’s a French adaptation of the titular Harlan Coben novel.  Ten years ago, Guillaume Lucchesi suffered the devastating losses of his first love Sonia and his brother Fred.  Thanks to his new love Judith, Guillaume was eventually able to put the pain of that tragedy behind him.  But at the funeral of Guillaume’s mother, Judith suddenly disappears.  To find his missing lover, the frantic man will finally have to face some unpleasant truths hidden from him over the years.

Valeria Season 2–It’s the continuation of the adventures of the titular character’s efforts to become a published author.  Season 1 ended with Valeria finally getting a book deal to publish her debut novel, an erotic tale inspired by her feelings for her friend Victor.  However, as season 2 opens, Valeria has to decide if getting published is worth having her book bear the pen name for a popular romance novel series.  Meanwhile, will Valeria stay and save her struggling marriage with Adri, who’s unsupportive of her writing dreams?  Or will she choose the very hot but mysterious Victor, who’s been an inspiration for her writing?  Valeria’s friends will also be busy as well this season.  Will Lola continue her affair with married lover Sergio?  Will Carmen and Borja’s household stay afloat after Borja switches jobs?  Will Narea’s exploring of her queer identity come at the expense of her friendship with Lola, Carmen, and Valeria?  Guess how you can find out.

August 20

The Chair—Sandra Oh gets to play the lead character in another dramedy, yay!  Executive producers include actress Amanda Peet…and “Game of Thrones” producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss.  Ummm….  For the curious, Dr. Ji-yoon Kim (Oh) has just become the first woman (of color) to chair prestigious Pembroke University’s English Department.  But the honor soon starts to pale next to the problems of the job. Older staff don’t want things to change, but newer staff do. Former confidants now have to start treating Kim as the boss.  An ongoing problem with Professor Bill Dobson (Mark Duplass) has left the English Department in crisis.  Dr. Kim soon starts wondering if her promotion is intended to make her the patsy when things blow up badly.

Hit And Run Season 1–This thriller from the producers behind “Fauda” and “The Killing” begins in a straightforward manner.  Tour guide and family man Segev Azulai is happily married to an American dancer, and he has a young daughter in Tel Aviv.  Then one day Azulai’s wife is killed in a hit and run.  But Azulai suspects this death was no accident, and he enlists the help of his Israeli police detective cousin, an old friend, and an ex-lover to uncover the truth.  The trail goes from Tel Aviv to New York.  Could one of the secrets the dead woman hid from Azulai have resulted in her death?  Or was her demise revenge for something from Azulai’s own violent past as a Special Forces soldier?  

Hit And Run

Sweet Girl—Want an action thriller having both loads of Pittsburgh sights and Jason Momoa busting the heads of some Big Pharma goons?  This film might be for you.  Family man Ray Cooper (Momoa) hoped his cancer-ridden wife would have access to a potentially life-saving drug.  But then the pharmaceutical company that made the drug pulled the medicine from the market…with the expected consequences for Ray’s wife.  When Ray’s search for answers elicits a hostile and deadly response, he realizes his mission has changed to one of vengeance.

August 23

The Witcher: Nightmare Of The Wolf—Need more “Witcher” tales?  How about an anime-style tale about the younger days of Vesemir, Geralt’s mentor?  People still feared and hated witchers back then.  But young Vesemir didn’t care, as long as he had monsters to slay and money in his pocket for killing them.  And the job’s a lot better than being a nobleman’s servant.  Then again, an encounter with a particularly vicious werewolf might make him reconsider that opinion.

August 25

Clickbait Season 1–Tired of shows filmed in parts of Canada intended to pass for America?  How about a thriller that’s filmed in Melbourne, Australia and intended to stand in for America?  Loving family man Nick Brewer (Adrian Grenier) disappears one day.  He soon pops up on a viral Internet video, badly beaten and holding a card saying “I abuse women.  At 5 million views, I die.”  Nick’s sister Pia (Zoe Kazan) and Nick’s wife Sophie (Betty Gabriel) struggle to find the person responsible.  But as the search goes on, questions start popping up about whether Nick truly was the perfect man he presented himself as.  And meanwhile, the video’s view count slowly ticks towards its deadly goal… 

Post Mortem:  No One Dies In Skarnes–This Norwegian dark comedy begins with central character Live Hallangen pronounced dead.  So how does Live wake up on the forensic table?  It’s because she’s been turned into a vampire.  But this revelation might not be as big a problem as she thinks.  True, there’s the worry about succumbing to a vampire’s darker impulses.  On the other hand, the family funeral home run by Live’s brother Odd has run into financial problems because the town of Skarnes has a really low death rate.  So maybe Live could use her vampire abilities to, er, give Skarnes’ circle of life enough of a nudge to keep the Hallangen funeral business going?

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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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