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All The Cool Stuff Coming To Netflix In October

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October on Netflix is a month heavy with new movies and series. Likely to suck a good share of viewer oxygen out of the room will be the streaming service dropping the entire “Seinfeld” series complete and uncut. But for those viewers who want to try something new or something they’ve missed, Netflix has you covered.

Picking through the cornucopia of new releases to find intriguing standouts was difficult but not impossible. Here are some of the offerings Broke-Ass viewers can look forward to this month: a real life “mass suicide” that may have been supernaturally motivated; an animated workplace comedy set at a firm dedicated to making sure crazy conspiracy theories are true; making tasty cakes that float on water; a new season of “The Baby-Sitters Club” reboot; a not-bad American remake of a nifty Danish thriller; Jet Li’s last martial arts film; a dramatization of Colin Kaepernick’s high school years; and a dramatization of an explosive real-life case of intellectual property theft involving Google.   

October 1

Fearless–Famed Hong Kong action director Ronny Yu directs Jet Li’s final martial arts film, a fictionalized biography of famed martial artist Huo Yuanjia.  Defying his great fighter father’s wishes, Huo trains himself to win many fights and becomes overly proud of his martial arts prowess.  But when that pride leads him to engage in an ill-advised fight, the consequences of that fight will emotionally break him.  How does Huo bounce back to eventually bring glory to China on one unforgettable day in 1910?  The martial arts sequences are choreographed by legendary action choreographer Yuen Woo Ping, whose long list of film credits include “The Matrix.”  

Fearless

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The Guilty–Is Antoine Fuqua’s remake of the nifty Danish thriller of the same name yet another case of Hollywood pandering to the English-subtitle averse?  Yes and no.  Yes, it generally has the same plot as the original Danish film.  No, because this remake has Jake Gyllenhaal in the lead role which makes a huge difference.  LAPD cop Joe Baylor (Gyllenhaal) has been demoted for reasons undefined to working a 911 dispatch desk during the graveyard shift.  His life is in the hole: a big court date tomorrow, pesky reporters asking about his demotion, and an involuntary separation from his family.  Baylor takes out his frustrations on unlucky 911 callers until he gets a call from Emily (Riley Keough).  She’s in terrible danger, as is her six-year-old daughter, but she can’t explain why on the phone.  The cop desperately tries to figure out what sort of danger Emily is in and how to save her and her child.  But how do you save someone when your deductions might not always be the right ones?

Malcolm X–Spike Lee’s biopic about the famed Black liberation leader stars Denzel Washington in the title role.  Malcolm Little’s life went from foster home to numbers running to imprisonment.  Yet prison would be his place of personal rebirth thanks to his encountering Elijah Muhammad’s Black Muslim movement.  Malcolm eventually becomes the fiery and charismatic street preacher known as Malcolm X, an advocate of Black independence and self-sufficiency.  A pilgrimage to Mecca would lead Malcolm to undergo one last conversion…the consequences of which might have led to his assassination.

A Sinister Sect: Colonia Dignidad–In 1961, preacher Paul Schafer arrived in the southern Chilean province of Linares and established a German religious colony with a group of followers.  Before coming to Chile, Schafer had been a member of the Hitler Youth.  His colony would be his bridgehead to bring Nazism to South America.  Slave labor, murders, arms trafficking, and pedophilia happened on the colony’s grounds.  Schafer was even friends with Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, who was well aware of the colony’s activities.  This documentary tells the sordid tale.

October 3

RBG–Who would have expected an 85-year-old U.S. Supreme Court Justice to also become a pop culture icon?  But that’s precisely what had happened to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  Betsy West and Julie Cohen’s documentary recounts the until-then untold story of how Ginsburg built a legal career that would culminate in her rise to a Supreme Court Justice seat.

October 6

Baking Impossible Season 1–Another baking competition show?  Yes, but with a slight twist.  Each baker competitor is paired with an engineer to create an edible confection that can also withstand such stress tests as rolling, floating, or even getting caught in explosions.

October 7

The Billion Dollar Code

The Billion Dollar Code–This German mini-series dramatizes a real-life tech world David and Goliath story.  In the 1990s, two German computer pioneers created the code for their new program Terravision.  Using such sources as ART + COM’s networked satellite images, altitude information, aerial photography, and architectural data, Terravision would create a virtual representation of the Earth.  25 years later, Google would release Google Earth, which did the same things as Terravision thanks to its using the Terravision algorithm.  However, the tech giant refused to publicly recognize the German computer pioneers as the algorithm’s creators.  The two computer scientists are forced to take Google to court to get the recognition they’re due.

October 8

Grudge/Kin–This Turkish psychological thriller begins with Chief Inspector Harun celebrating receiving a major policing award and looking forward to a possible promotion.  However, during the return home, the cop is attacked by a taxi driver and is forced to kill him.  Lead investigator duties on the murder get assigned to Harun, who winds up playing cat and mouse with himself as he learns more about his victim.  Yet who hung the taxi driver’s corpse from a construction crane that’s directly in front of the police station?  And why?  

House Of Secrets:  The Burari Deaths–Ready for one of Netflix’s stranger true crime offerings?  On July 1, 2018, in the Burari area of Delhi, eleven members of the Bhatia family apparently committed mass suicide.  But could the deaths be connected to the Bhatias’ second generation son and his interest in the occult?  And what’s the connection between the victims’ manner of death and the branches of a banyan tree?  Amazingly, the case is still under investigation.

October 9

Blue Period Season 1–Here comes the anime adaptation of Tsubasa Yamaguchi’s popular manga.  To outsiders, Yatora is the perfect high school student because of his excellent grades and loads of friends.  However, he personally considers such effortless achievements hollow.  It takes an accidental encounter with a painting in the high school art club to awaken in him a desire to learn how to paint.  But making a great painting doesn’t necessarily involve parroting the right answer.   

October 11

The Baby-Sitters Club Season 2–Netflix’ highly praised modernized adaptation of Ann M. Martin’s much beloved teen series gets a new season.  This time, expect to see Mallory Pike and Jessi Ramsey joining the club (and Jessi having a much bigger role this season).  Mary Anne deals with both a possible romance and the consequences of her family combining with Dawn’s.  Stacey’s starting to get stressed out from shouldering more responsibilities.  And is Kristy’s family going to welcome a new baby?   

October 12

Convergence: Courage In A Crisis

Convergence: Courage In A Crisis–Director Orlando von Einsiedel (The White Helmets) collaborated with 10 other co-directors on a film which looks at how the COVID-19 crisis unleashed acts of compassion and community.  Traveling to eight different countries and telling nine individual stories, the documentary shows how ordinary people rose worldwide to the challenges created by COVID.  The stories include a doctor committed to serving Miami’s homeless population in the midst of COVID and a Syrian refugee fighting the UK government to ensure bereavement pay also extends to hospital cleaners and porters.

Sivaji: The Boss–In this award-winning Bollywood action drama, rich Indian software architect Sivaji Arumagam returns to India after spending a decade in the United States.  He wants to use his fortune to establish the Sivaji Foundation, a non-profit trust whose projects will include a network of quality hospitals and educational institutions serving the poor free of charge.   However, influential businessman Adiseshan wants to scuttle Sivaji’s plans since he runs a chain of for-profit hospitals and educational institutions.  Corrupt government officials may very well help Sivaji’s nemesis succeed with his sabotage.  Meanwhile, Sivaji falls in love with and eventually marries Tamizhselvi.  But their union is predicted to end in heavy financial ruin and ultimately Sivaji’s death.

October 14

Ave Maria–Basil Khalil’s Oscar-nominated live-action short film takes a humorous look at the Israel-Palestine conflict.  Sister Marie and the other Palestinian nuns of the Sisters of Mercy convent live a daily routine of silence and prayer in the West Bank wilderness.  That routine gets rudely interrupted one day when a car containing a religious Israeli family accidentally crashes into their convent’s wall.  The Jewish family was rushing home to observe Shabbat.  Fixing the Israelis’ and the Palestinians’ problems run into a couple of religious roadblocks.  The nuns cannot break their vow of silence.  The Jews cannot operate machinery on the Sabbath.

Ghost Hunting–Director Raed Andoni’s 2017 Berlinale Best Documentary winner might well be the month’s most controversial Netflix title.  Andoni sought out former inmates of the Moskobiya interrogation center in Jerusalem for this film, particularly those with experience as craftsmen, architects, or actors.  Further preparation included building to-scale replicas of the center’s interrogation rooms, relying on the former inmates’ memories.  The director then has the ex-inmates reenact their interrogations and the humiliations they felt at Moskobiya using theater of the oppressed techniques.  These re-enactments wind up taking an emotional and physical toll on these men, including dredging up supposedly buried traumas.  Even Andoni himself is not above it all, as he was also imprisoned at Moskobiya.

October 15

My Name

My Name Season 1–Yoon Ji-Woo belongs to one of South Korea’s largest organized crime syndicates.  When her father suddenly passes away under suspicious circumstances, she becomes a mole within the police ranks to find the responsible parties and the reason for her father’s death before taking revenge.  However, her plan runs into trouble when she’s assigned to the drug investigation unit and is partnered with by-the-book Detective Jeon Pil-Do.  That cop has started becoming suspicious of Yoon’s true intentions.   

October 18

Meeting Point (Kimya)–They come from two distinctly different worlds.  She’s a 24-year-old multilingual postgraduate Goth atheist.  Yet she feels no connection to her Turkish environs.  He’s a successful 54-year-old workaholic manager who’s a somewhat observant Muslim.  Yet he also feels unconnected and that life is passing him by.  One evening, the two of them accidentally meet on the pavement, each having stepped out for some fresh air.  But over the next few hours, their mutual conversation will reveal what kindred spirits they truly are. 

October 20

Found–Chloe, Sadie, and Lily are three American teenagers who thought they were just adoptees from China.  But then a 23andMe test revealed the three girls were actually cousins.  Director Amanda Lipshitz’ documentary follows the trio as they connect and muse over being given up for adoption.  The girls’ eventual decision to travel to China to hopefully meet their respective birth parents will also mean dealing with the legacy of China’s one child policy.   

October 21

Insiders Season 1–Najwa Nimri (“Money Heist”) hosts Netflix’s first original Spanish reality show with a twist.  Twelve contestants are brought into a 17,200 square foot studio for the qualifying rounds of what they think is a reality show.  However, this setup is only a facade for the real show, one where dozens of hidden cameras and hundreds of concealed microphones have been planted around the studio to capture what these contestants are really like when they think the cameras aren’t rolling and nobody’s listening.

Inside Job

October 22 

Adventure Beast–Comedian and nature lover Bradley Trevor Grieve stars as a heightened version of himself in this mix of adult animated comedy and nature documentary.  Each episode he, his niece Bonnie, and his constantly fearful Senior Field Assistant Dietrich travel to various biomes where they frequently risk getting killed by the animals they encounter.  Along the way, expect to learn facts about the more gross side of nature.

Inside Job Season 1–This new adult animated workplace comedy comes from “Gravity Falls” writer Shion Takeuchi.  Welcome to Cognito, Inc., a company contracted by the Shadow Government to make sure almost every conspiracy theory you’ve heard about is true.  Antisocial genius Reagan Ridley (Lizzy Caplan) wants the chance to lead her own team.  You’d think her being the daughter of Cognito co-founder Rand (Christian Slater) would give her an edge.  But nooo.  Reagan’s visible lack of people skills means she’s forced to partner with the generic Brett Hand and be part of a team that includes a dolphin-man and a sentient mushroom alien.

Maya And The Three–When’s the last time you’ve seen an animated series that weaves together Aztec, Mayan, and Incan mythology along with modern day Caribbean culture?  This animated mini-series will satisfy that itch.  Rebellious warrior princess Maya (Zoe Saldana) gets a very unwelcome 15th birthday present/coronation gift.  The gods of the underworld inform her that her life has been forfeited to the god of war.  Maya’s refusal will result in the entire world  suffering for her defiance.  The princess’ only hope lies in fulfilling a prophecy concerning three great warriors powerful enough to defeat the gods.  Besides Saldana, other members of the all-star voice cast include Cheech Marin, Stephanie Beatriz, Danny Trejo, Rita Moreno, and Gael Garcia Bernal.

October 26

Sex: Unzipped

Sex: Unzipped–Comedian Saweetie hosts what promises to be Netflix’s filthiest and funniest comedy special about sex.  Sex experts and a crew of sex-positive puppets representing the wide range of sexual orientations help provide information debunking the lies and misconceptions spread by, say, abstinence education.  Helping to keep things light are such guest performers as Dominique Jackson, Mae Martin, and Trixie Mattel.  It will not be surprising if the losers at One Million Moms start howling for a Netflix boycott once they get wind of this special.

October 29

Colin In Black And White–Ava DuVernay produced this drama miniseries which recounts Colin Kaepernick’s high-school years.  Growing up in Turlock, CA as the Black adopted son of white parents, the future professional football player encountered racism from both people close to him and the local institutions.  It would be Kaepernick’s love of playing ball that would help him make it through those tough years.

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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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