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The Great Stuff Coming To Hulu In August

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Satan worshippers, a couple of 1990s pop culture touchstones, and even a new comedy co-created by Taika Waititi arrive to bring the heat to Hulu viewers’ August. This month’s highlights include a couple of well-received lesbian-themed films, a documentary look at an eventful year for Oakland High School’s senior class, and a documentary series marking twenty years since 9/11.  

Racist cops and sexist men will definitely not like a couple of this month’s highlights. Everybody else will cackle in delight.

August 1

Bagdad Cafe

Bagdad Cafe–After a nasty argument with her husband, tightly wound German tourist Jasmin walks away from him in the middle of the Mojave Desert.  At a run down truck stop known as the Bagdad Cafe, she gets a room at the motel.  But it isn’t long before the grottiness of her surroundings gets to Jasmin and she starts introducing German efficiency and cleanliness to the motel.  Besides changing the motel’s inhabitants, this work also causes Jasmin to slowly loosen up and even display her talent for performing magic tricks.  A long-gone Castro District restaurant took its name from this film.

The Blood On Satan’s Claw–If you haven’t seen this forgotten classic of British folk horror, why not do so now on its 50th anniversary?  It’s set in 18th century England.  While plowing his field, farmer Ralph accidentally discovers a buried skull which still has one eyeball in it.  But on bringing back the reluctant Judge, the skull has gone missing.  Shortly thereafter, a number of strange and evil events befall the village.  Peter Edmonton’s fiancee suddenly goes mad and attacks his aunt.  Peter’s aunt walks out into the night and disappears.  The village teens find a bag of bones near the spot where Ralph discovered the buried skull.  Most worryingly, the demon Behemoth is on the verge of returning to Earth.    

Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia Season 3–Explore the history, chemistry, and social impact of some of the world’s most well known recreational drugs with researcher and reporter Hamilton Morris (who’s also Errol Morris’ son).  This season, Hamilton’s show will introduce viewers to such drugs as synthetic toad venom, xenon, and bufotenine.

Henry V–Kenneth Branagh’s rousing take on Shakespeare’s famed historical play involves him both acting the title role and directing the film as well.  To distract young English King Henry V from ordering that church property be confiscated, the Archbishop of Canterbury helps convince the young monarch to invade France and claim his supposed title to the French throne.  It will be at the Battle of Agincourt that the political future of both England and France will be decided.  Branagh brings the spectacle to this adaptation.

Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion–Catch one of the 1990s’ cult comedies.  Roommates and best friends Romy (Mira Sorvino) and Michele (Lisa Kudrow) live a casual unambitious life in Los Angeles.  When they learn their high school class is having its 10-year reunion, they become painfully aware that their lack of life achievement will make them targets for further bullying by their former classmates.  So they decide to pretend to have become successful businesswomen thanks to inventing Post-It Notes.  However, a terrible pre-reunion argument leads to the two friends going their separate ways on arrival.  Can Romy and Michele’s friendship be repaired?  Can the class reunion end happily for them?   

Shane–If you’re into Westerns but had never seen this classic directed by George Stevens, maybe now’s the time to correct things.  Jon Starett and his fellow Wyoming homesteaders are being terrorized by cattle baron Rufus Ryker, who doesn’t appreciate their farming on what Ryker considers grazing land.  The farmers resist Ryker’s increasingly nasty attempts to get them off the land.  Into this situation comes Shane (Alan Ladd), who’s keeping secret that he’s an ace gunfighter trying to renounce violence.  However, Ryker and his hired killer Jack Wilson (legendary bad guy Jack Palance) continue to up the pressure to push out the farmers by any means necessary.  Shane may soon lack the luxury of sitting on the sidelines.

Thelma And Louise

Thelma & Louise–Ridley Scott directed this 1990s pop cultural touchstone which still has the power to create butthurt men.  Thelma (Geena Davis) is a browbeaten housewife in an unsatisfying marriage.  Louise (Susan Sarandon) is a coffee shop waitress whose significant other has no plans to settle down.  The two friends decide to take a weekend road trip together to get away from it all.  However, the death of a guy trying to rape Thelma forces the duo to go on the run.  The two women become the object of a multi-state police manhunt.  But the fugitive life also brings out the buried resourcefulness of these two women.

August 4

The Devil You Know Seasons 1 & 2–If you thought true believer Christian cults were scary, meet some actual antichrist Christian cults and the people who belong to them.  Season 1 introduced viewers to the Satan-worshipping killer Pazuzu Algarad.  The man formerly known as John Lawson claimed he kept the corpses of his victims in his basement.  Season 2 brings viewers into the world of Sherry J. Shriner and her anti-lizard cult.  Shriner managed to convince her followers that lizards were secretly into mind control, body snatching, and bringing about the antichrist’s reign.  The pressure to stop these lizards inevitably led to a human or two getting killed.

August 5

Princess Cyd–16-year-old Cyd gets to spend the summer in Chicago living with her aunt, well-known novelist Miranda Ruth.  While Miranda does the cool aunt thing well, becoming a temporary mother figure proves more challenging especially when Cyd gets curious about her aunt’s romantic life (or lack of same).  Then again, Cyd’s also experimenting with her own sexual identity, particularly with the mohawk-wearing barista Katie.  A gem about female friendship that’s worth checking out.

August 8

The Party–Sally Potter’s satire of love, politics, and burnt food might best be described as the dinner party from hell.  Janet (Kristin Scott Thomas) has just been promoted to Shadow Health Minister, and she decides to throw an evening soiree to celebrate the occasion.   However, the invited left-leaning friends don’t exactly leave their personal resentments and anxieties at the door.  From a couple about to break up to the bombshell secret of Bill (Timothy Spall) aka Janet’s husband, the stage is set for an evening of unleashed comic antagonisms.

August 9

Reservation Dogs

Reservation Dogs–One of August’s must-see offerings is this comedy co-created by Sterlin Harjo and Taika Waititi.  On an Oklahoma reservation, Native American teenagers Bear Smallhill, Elora Danan, Willie Jack, and Cheese have bonded together as the Reservation Dogs.  On the one-year anniversary of their friend Daniel’s death, the four teens vow to fulfill Daniel’s biggest wish: save enough to leave their rural Oklahoma town behind and make a fresh start in California.  To lie, cheat, and steal enough to pull this plan off, the four Dogs will have to deal with meth heads, rival gangs, and the often unamused local authorities.     

August 10

Together Together–Missed this well-received platonic relationship comedy at both Sundance and the theaters?  Don’t sleep on it again.  College student Anna (Patti Harrison) becomes the surrogate mother for 40-ish app designer Matt (Ed Helms), a single divorced man who still wants to be a father.  But as the trimesters progress, the duo’s relationship slowly changes from a business relationship to something that’s not quite love but definitely a bit more than friendship.

August 11

AWOL–Joey (Lola Kirke) is a recent high school graduate living in a small Pennsylvania town where job opportunities are few and far between.  Joey’s mother wants her to sign up for the Army to have a better shot at a future.  However, the new graduate can’t leave the unhappily married Rayna, a one-night stand who might become something more.  But given that Rayna prefers to keep her relationships with women on the down low, is Joey only deluding herself?

August 12

Homeroom–Local filmmaker Peter Nicks concludes his Oakland Trilogy of documentaries with a verite look at what befalls the Oakland High senior class of 2020.  These mostly black and brown kids look forward to a bright post-graduation future, unaware of the coming of COVID-19 or the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery at the hands of cops.  How these kids deal with these crises forms the film’s core.  NIcks’ earlier installments in the trilogy, “The Waiting Room” and “The Force,” will also be available for streaming.

August 15

The Hate U Give

The Hate U Give–Amandla Stenberg gives a star-making performance in this strong adaptation of Angie Thomas’ titular YA novel (which is also a bete noire of more than a few butthurt police departments).  Starr Carter (Stenberg) may be from predominantly black Garden Heights, but to attend the predominantly white Williamson private school she regularly code switches.  A party encounter with her crush Khalil unfortunately ends later with the young man being killed by a racist cop…and Starr happens to be the only witness.  Starr’s torn between publicly coming forward and being cautious.  Her indecision’s not helped by way too many of her Williamson classmates assuming Khalil was complicit in his own death.  

August 17

The Skeleton Twins–Maggie (Kristen Wiig) ironically gets reunited with her estranged twin brother Milo (Bill Hader) after a ten-year separation.  Her suicide attempt gets interrupted by news of Milo’s being hospitalized for his own suicide attempt.  To help him stabilize mentally, Maggie brings her brother home with her.  But it soon turns out Milo may also help Maggie get mentally stable as well.  If you thought liking the Jefferson Starship song “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” is an example of musical bad taste, wait until you see how it’s used effectively in this film. 

August 18

Nine Perfect Strangers–This adaptation of the titular novel by Liane Moriarty (“Pretty Little Liars”) takes place at Tranquillum House, a rural Australian boutique health-and-wellness resort.  Nine city dwellers have come here for both R&R and a bit of personal rejuvenation.  Their numbers include a down-and-out romance novelist (Melissa Mc Carthy), a retired professional athlete (Bobby Canavale), and a newly single mother (Regina Hall).  Yet Masha (Nicole Kidman), the founder of the resort, has some decidedly odd ideas for emotional rejuvenation….such as literally digging one’s own grave.

Unsane–Steven Soderbergh shot this psychological horror thriller on an iPhone 7.  Sawyer Valentini (Claire Foy) has had her life so badly disrupted by David Strine’s stalking that she has gone to a mental hospital to seek therapy.  However, the innocuous paperwork Sawyer signs soon leads to her being unexpectedly imprisoned “for observation” at the hospital.  The “observation period” turns out to be part of the hospital’s scam to squeeze money out of Sawyer’s insurance provider.  Until they pay up, she’s stuck there.  To make matters worse, is one of the hospital orderlies David Strine?  Or is Sawyer truly mentally disturbed?

August 21

We Broke Up–In this romantic dramedy, Doug and Lori are the longtime couple that everyone expected would eventually marry.  However, when Doug finally pops the question, Lori’s reaction is so unencouraging that the two of them think it’s time to call it quits.  There’s one big problem.  Lori’s sister is shortly getting married at a big summer camp-themed wedding.   If Doug and Lori announce they’re breaking up, it’ll cast a pall on the event.  But if they pretend to still be together, can they keep up the facade until the ceremony’s safely over?

August 26

Disobedience–When she receives news of her father’s death, photographer Ronit (Rachel Weisz) reluctantly returns to the stifling north London Orthodox Jewish community she fled years ago.  Her return brings up painful reminders of the social bridges she burned when she left.   But it’s meeting two people from her past that spark bigger problems.  Dovid (Alessandro Nivola), her late father’s surrogate son, has now become a respected rabbi.  Esti (Rachel McAdams), Dovid’s wife, used to be Ronit’s sole ally in rebellion…and also her onetime lover.  Ronit’s renewing her love affair with Esti might not be the best idea since community homophobia was what sparked Ronit’s departure in the first place.

August 30

9/11: One Day In America

9/11: One Day In America–To mark 20 years since the September 11 terrorist attacks, National Geographic in collaboration with the 9/11 Memorial and Museum presents a six-part documentary series recounting the events of that fateful day.  First responders and survivors of the attacks will retell their experiences.  Subjects include a firefighter who escaped the North Tower just before it collapsed, bystanders trapped inside the towers under mountains of concrete, and the first paramedics who searched for survivors among the rubble.  Footage taken from apartments across the street contain never-before-seen images of the planes hitting the Twin Towers.

August 31

Only Murders In The Building–In a New York City Upper West Side apartment building live three people who are strangers to each other: Mabel (Selena Gomez), Charles (Steve Martin), and Oliver (Martin Short).  These neighbors are unknowingly bound by a shared obsession with true crime shows.  But they never expected to do anything with their interest until a neighbor who sometimes shared the elevator with them turns up dead.  The trio become amateur sleuths to solve the crime, but something more is going on among them.

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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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