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All The Great Stuff Coming To Hulu In October

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Fond of franchise films?  Hulu kicks off October with a whole bunch of them, ranging from the complete “The Hunger Games” trilogy to selected James Bond films.  There are some handy rules of thumb regarding some of the older franchise films being offered.  Sean Connery’s Bond films (“Dr. No,” “From Russia With Love,” “Goldfinger”) introduced the foundation of the franchise: larger than life villains, nifty gadgets, beautiful women, and sexual innuendo.  For those who can’t stand the earlier films’ blatant sexism (e.g. “Goldfinger”’s Pussy Galore is a lesbian), things get dialed back a little by the time of “The Spy Who Loved Me.”  For the “Star Trek” movies, fans of the original cast know the better ones are the even numbered offerings.  Of the “Star Trek” movies with the Next Generation cast, your best option is probably “First Contact” given it has both the Borg and an expansion of original Trek lore.  Meanwhile, famed movie critics Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel once said of the first of the “Species” films “‘Species’ is feces.”

What would the month of Halloween be without horror and/or supernatural offerings? Of course, Hulu has them too.  Yet the more interesting offerings this month are rooted in the mundane.  Follow fans of one of the most losingest football teams in America…and see what happens to them when their team has a miracle year. Get in on the ground floor of a new dramatic series about the members of a rap group (two of whom are played by Eve and Brandy) as they reunite and try to prove they’ve still got it even at middle age.  Or catch Danny Strong’s original Hulu drama about the roots of the opioid crisis.  You’ll have to provide your own popcorn to throw when members of the Sackler family come on screen.

So jump right in this month and prepare to be amazed. 

October 1

Cake Season 5–It’s the return of FXX’s bizarro sketch comedy show mixed with serial humor.  In serial story #1, Jerome’s sensitive and sentimental nature makes it hard for him to find love in a world where everyone is expected to be a callous and caustic cynic.  In serial story #2, an at least middle aged woman compares her personal life with her career life and wonders where she went wrong.

The Offence

Escape From Alcatraz–Director Don Siegel’s last film with actor Clint Eastwood was this adaptation of the titular J. Campbell Bruce book.  In 1960, Frank Morris (Eastwood), an incredibly intelligent criminal who’s escaped from other jails, gets sent to Alcatraz Prison.  The island compound has a reputation for having incredible security and being escape-proof.  Morris decides to put that claim to the test with the help of old friends and fellow prisoners John and Clarence Anglin.  Watch out for Danny Glover, who made his film debut here. 

House Of Games–Playwright David Mamet made an incredible feature film debut with this neo-noir.  Psychologist Dr. Margaret Ford (Lindsay Crouse) has a patient whose gambling problem has gotten him in over his head.  To help him out, the psychologist and author ventures into the world of confidence games.  During this excursion, con man Mike (Joe Mantegna) manages to hustle Dr. Ford out of nearly $6,000.  Instead of being angry, the psychologist becomes fascinated by this streetwise philosopher and his world.  She soon gets drawn into an elaborate con game involving a suitcase full of cash “borrowed” from the Mob.  But who is really conning who, and who will wind up burnt at the end? 

The Offence–Sean Connery made this gritty police drama as part of his price to agree to play James Bond again in “Diamonds Are Forever.”  Sidney Lumet directs this adaptation of John Hopkins’ play “This Story Of Yours.”  Twenty years of investigating cases of rape, murder, and child molestation on a Home Counties estate have left middle-aged Detective Sergeant Johnson (Connery) a heavy drinker with a shaky grip on reality.  Over a couple of dank rainy days, the kidnapping of a 12-year-old girl and the interrogation of a suspected pedophile (Ian Bannen) will finally push the veteran copper to face his inner demons.  Audiences of the time hated both Lumet’s non-chronological storytelling and Connery’s radical departure from his Bond persona. Maybe new viewers can finally give this film its proper due.

Sweet Land–Young mail order bride Inge Altenberg comes to 1920 Minnesota, ready to marry Norwegian farmer Olaf Torvik.  But when Rev. Sorrensen (John Heard) discovers Inge is German and lacks the proper immigration papers, he refuses to perform the ceremony.  The Reverend and other rural community members haven’t forgotten World War I and believe Germans to be untrustworthy and immoral.  Despite her current inability to speak English, Inge patiently tries to bond with Olaf and deal with the community’s prejudice against outsiders such as her.

When A Man Loves A Woman–Luis Mandoki directs this dramatic tale of alcoholism threatening a family’s stability.  San Francisco junior high school counselor Alice (Meg Ryan) drinks all day, every day.  When airline pilot Michael (Andy Garcia) finally learns the extent of his wife’s drinking problem, he helps her get sober without realizing how much he enabled Alice’s problem.  It also doesn’t help that Michael can’t deal with either Alice’s emotional fragility or her new desire to more fully participate in family affairs because he’s used to making all the family decisions.   

Jacinta

October 3

Finding Your Feet–Sandra (Imelda Staunton)’s joy at becoming part of the peerage sours quickly when she discovers her husband Mike has been having an affair with her longtime friend Pamela.  Her Ladyship quickly packs her bags for an extended stay with her festranged but ree-spirited older sister Bif (Celia Imrie).  The older sibling gets her younger sister involved with an amateur dance troupe populated by such students as Charlie (Timothy Spall), a handyman whose wife has dementia, and Jackie (Joanna Lumley), a divorcee and ex-barrister with a tart tongue.  Can this new experience thaw out Sandra’s snobbish attitude?

October 8

Jacinta–Jessica Earnshaw’s first documentary feature follows the travails of the titular drug addict.  Jacinta, 26, has just been released from the Maine Correctional Center.  She’s been in and out of the prison system since she was a teen.  Her goals are maintaining her sobriety and reconnecting with her 10-year-old daughter Caylynn.  However, the pressures and forces that led Jacinta into addiction and crime (e.g. her criminal addict mother Rosemary) threaten to undermine Jacinta’s efforts.

October 11

Gunda–Gunda is a farmyard sow.  She’s just one of several barnyard animals followed by Viktor Kossakovsky’s camera as it shows life on the farm from the animals’ POV.  The other animals include some haughty cows and a one-legged chicken.  Though no human beings are seen in the film, their presence is felt offscreen as Gunda and the other animals are destined for eventual slaughter at human hands.

October 12

Champaign ILL Season 1–In 2003, Ronnie, Alf, and Lou are three best friends who’ve graduated high school.  Lou reveals to his friends that he’s signed a recording contract and is heading down to Miami to lay down the tracks for his first record.  Ronnie and Alf accept Lou’s offer to go along for the ride.  Fifteen years later, Lou’s become a hip-hop superstar and Ronnie and Alf enjoy mooching off Lou’s life of fame and fortune.  Then one day, Ronnie and Alf become broke, adrift, and forced to move back into their respective parents’ homes in the titular suburb.  Will these two man-children wither away or will they finally grow up?

The Loneliest Whale

The Loneliest Whale: The Search For 52–Joshua Zeman’s new documentary follows the search for the legendary 52 Hertz Whale.  Most whales normally communicate at the 20 Hertz frequency.  But because 52 communicates at a 52 Hertz frequency, other whales can neither communicate with or understand 52.  Is 52 the only whale of its kind or are there others somewhere?  Zeman’s film follows an expedition to solve this mystery, one which has been a source of popular fascination and even the inspiration for a BTS song.

October 13

Dopesick–Danny Strong (Empire) created and Barry Levinson directed this mini-series inspired by Beth Macy’s titular best-seller.  It traces the roots of the opioid crisis by following several people over a 20-year period.  The characters include: the Sackler family, whose Purdue Pharma created OxyContin; a small town Virginia doctor (Michael Keaton); a determined DEA agent (Rosario Dawson); and an addicted miner (Kaitlyn Dever).

October 16

Home Sweet Home–Famed director Ava DuVernay created this unscripted social experiment show.  Take two families from completely different backgrounds.  Have them swap homes and explore how the other family lives, from seeing the food in their fridge to the fashionability of the clothes in their closet.  Then have them come back together to share what they’ve learned about the other family and themselves.

October 20

Queens

Queens–Brianna, Jill, Valeria, and Naomi are a present-day group of 40-ish women.  Back in the 1990s, these four women were better known as Professor Sex, Butter Pecan, Da Thrill, and Xplicit Lyrics.  Their hip-hop group, The Nasty Bitches, became musical legends.  But the group split up and the four women disappeared into mundane existences.  Now the old band’s getting back together, hoping to recapture their old fame.  Pop icon Brandy and rapper Eve play two members of the group.

October 21

The Next Thing You Eat Season 1–David Chang and Morgan Neville (Ugly Delicious) re-team for this six-part documentary series looking at how such seismic events as environmental degradation affects both the restaurant world and people’s fundamental relationship to food.  What challenges and opportunities lie ahead?  Will food of the future still be delicious?

October 22

Gaia–In a South African forest, park ranger Gabi gets injured.  She finds refuge with Barend and Stefan, a father-son duo who live in the forest and seek to appease the mysterious supernatural force residing there.  But what’s the bigger threat: the technophobic Barend or the fungus zombies which can infect anyone unfortunate enough to be caught by them?

October 26

Maybe Next Year

Maybe Next Year–What is it like being a devoted fan of a crappy sports team?  Director Kyle Thrash answers that question with this documentary looking at four fervent fans of the Philadelphia Eagles, a football team which loses games with appalling frequency.  They are: a woman who regularly calls a morning show to rant about the Eagles, a retiree who built a backyard clubhouse for 100 people to watch Eagles games, a man whose YouTube channel is devoted to his screaming and smashing things whenever he’s mad about the Eagles, and three generations of Eagles fans which include a special needs child and a cancerous grandfather.  So what happens when Thrash films these fans during the year the Eagles might actually make it to the Super Bowl?

October 27

For Madmen Only–Odds are the average person will draw a blank when they’re asked if they know who Del Close is.  But for those involved in stand-up comedy or improvisation, Close is a legend who revolutionized the art of comedy.  His simple rules (e.g. don’t go for cheap jokes, make unlikely choices) would rewrite how comedy was performed and would become accepted wisdom for later generations of performers.  Testifying to Close’s incredible influence are such figures as Adam Mc Kay, Bob Odenkirk, George Wendt, and Jason Mantzoukas.

October 28

First Date–High schooler Mike has a crush on fellow student Kelsey, but he’s had trouble asking her out or even talking to her.  Finally, he succeeds in setting up a date with the girl.  Trouble begins when the only set of wheels Mike can obtain is a 1965 Chrysler New Yorker trashmobile via Craigslist.  The big problem is that the car contains oodles of illegal goods that more than a few crooks and crooked cops would love to get their hands on.  Can Mike dodge his pursuers and still make a great impression on Kelsey?  Or will he lose out to the neighboring jock who also has his eye on the girl of Mike’s dreams?

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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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