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All The Cool Stuff Coming To Netflix In November

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Netflix in November resembles a bountiful Thanksgiving table, with something for everyone. There’s a classic Bill Murray farce. Robert Greene brings a new take on Catholic sex abuse. An action adventure blockbuster starring Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds, and Gal Gadot pops up. The director of “Train To Busan” helms a horror series where divine punishment becomes a very visible reality.

Especially notable this month are the animation offerings.  There’s a new season of “Big Mouth.” A mountaineering manga partly created by Jiro Taniguchi gets a magnificent French adaptation. And the whole family can enjoy a new Aardman Animation holiday special.  

November 1

It Follows

It Follows—David Robert Mitchell’s horror film may begin with sex, but soon taps into much deeper fears.  Teenager Jay (Maia Monroe) enjoys making out with Hugh in his car.  What she doesn’t enjoy as much is getting kidnapped by her sexual partner and being given some very unwelcome news.  Hugh has just made Jay the newest victim of a sexually-transmitted haunting, which she can escape only by having sex with an unsuspecting person.  Otherwise, the teen will be relentlessly pursued by someone visible only to her.  That pursuer can take various shapes.  But whatever form the pursuer takes, it means her harm.  By revealing this information to her friends, can Jay find a way to permanently banish her curse?

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The Nightingale—Director Jennifer Kent’s follow-up to “The Babadook” is this brutal tale set in 1825 Australia.  Claire is trapped in involuntary servitude to the cruel English Lieutenant Hawkins, who abusively exploits his power over the Irish convict.  But it’s when the British officer commits an unspeakable act against Claire’s family that she’s finally pushed into seeking revenge.  Exacting that revenge means chasing the Lieutenant’s party on an overland journey.  Billy is hired to guide Claire through the Australian wilderness.  The Aboriginal guide makes clear he has little use for white people, a feeling reinforced by Claire’s own racism towards him.  But the duo soon grow to become allies.

A River Runs Through It—Robert Redford directs and narrates Norman Maclean’s semi-autobiographical tale of his growing up in 1920s rural Montana.  Norman (Craig Shaffer) and the younger Paul (Brad Pitt) are the sons of a stern minister.  The serious Norman wants to learn to write before eventually teaching literature. The free-spirited Paul wants to stay in Montana and work for a newspaper.  The brothers are bound by a love of fly-fishing.  And it will be the process of becoming better fly-fishermen that will teach both brothers how to best approach the process of living.

Stripes—Never seen this Bill Murray comedy classic?  Use this Netflix opportunity to correct that mistake.  Cabbie John Winger (Bill Murray) hits rock bottom after losing both his job and his girlfriend. Lacking a better idea, he enlists in the U.S. Army.  And because one bad idea deserves another, Winger’s buddy Russell Ziskey (Harold Ramis) enlists as well.  The duo somehow manage to survive basic training despite their anarchic irreverence.  They even find girlfriends in the form of MPs Stella (P.J. Soles) and Louise (Sean Young). Winger and Ziskey manage to violate a lot of Army regulations, but the capper comes when they accidentally take a nuclear weapons carrier behind the Iron Curtain.

November 2

Camp Confidential: America’s Secret Nazis—This animated documentary short recounts through declassified audio recordings a strange but true story.  At the height of World War II, a group of Jewish refugees were sent to a secret Washington DC internment camp.  There, the Jews fleeing Nazi terror discovered the camp also housed Hitler’s top scientists.

Procession

November 3

The Harder They Fall—Contrary to what popular mythology would have you believe, over a quarter of the cowboys involved in America’s post-Civil War westward expansion were Black.  This star-studded Black Western helps correct the popular record.  Young Nat Love saw his parents murdered by ruthless outlaw Rufus Buck (Idris Elba).  Some years later, Love has formed his own outlaw band which takes down other outlaw groups.  Buck may be rotting in jail now.  However, the rest of Buck’s gang plan to spring their boss from a prison transport then rule by fear his hometown of Redwood so it becomes a Mecca for Black people.  Love, backed by his band, has other ideas.

November 5

Big Mouth Season 5–Nick Kroll’s animated comedy returns with a new set of episodes about the emotional anxieties of puberty.  “Love And Hate” may sound too familiar, but the two emotions are represented here by lovebugs and hate worms.  And these insects can shift between these two forms.  When Nick’s pursuit of Jessi leads to rejection, his hate worm takes him down a dark path.  Jessi wonders if Ali’s more than just a friend, but their attempt to answer that question leads to Missy getting her own hate worm.

Narcos: Mexico Season 3–The final season of the “Narcos” spinoff series takes the tale up to the 1990s.  Yes, drug kingpin Felix Gallardo has lost his drug empire and he’s paying the price for the murder of DEA agent Kiki Camarena.  However, in the resulting chaos, the old style drug cartels soon find themselves in a shooting war with a new generation of cartel kingpins who consider high body counts a mark of success.

The Unlikely Murderer—On a snowy February 1986 evening, Swedish prime minister Olof Palme’s last minute decision to catch a movie with his wife Lisbeth ended a few hours later with Palme being assassinated in the street.  Graphic designer Stig Engstrom claimed to be the only witness to Palme’s murder.  But if Engstrom was suspected of being Palme’s killer, why were the Swedish authorities unable to bring Engstrom to justice before his death?

Zero To Hero—This biopic recounts the true story of So Wa-wai, the Paralympics sprinter who would win multiple gold medals for Hong Kong.  Young So may have developed cerebral palsy as a child but his mother (veteran HK actress Sandra Ng) is determined that her son will never grow up ordinary.  And indeed with a lot of persistence, financial sacrifice, and training, So eventually becomes a sprinting superstar.  However, a workplace injury which takes out So’s father soon forces the runner to choose between supporting his poor family and following his dreams.

Zero To Hero

November 10

Passing—Rebecca Hall’s directorial debut adapts Nella Larsen’s acclaimed novel.  In 1920s New York City, friends Irene (Tessa Thompson) and Clare (Ruth Negga) re-unite after a 12-year gap.  Both are wealthy and both have also found different ways of dodging the race problem. Irene will not talk about it while Clare passes as white and is married to a racist banker.  But the growing intimacy between these two women might very well unbalance their carefully built lives.

November 11

7 Prisoners—In this Brazilian drama, 18-year-old Mateus joins a few other boys from his village in traveling to the same Sao Paulo metal scrapyard to earn money for his impoverished family.  However, boss Luca turns out to be a scammer who is exploiting the boys as slave labor.  Mateus soon comes to the terrible conclusion that the only means of escape is collaboration with Luca’s corruption.  But as he enjoys the fruits of enabling Luca, Mateus must wrestle with the question of who he’s ultimately benefiting: his fellow prisoners…or himself?

November 12

Red Notice—Will this entry in big-budget globe-trotting action filmmaking be a big hit or an early serving of Thanksgiving dinner?  Top FBI profiler John “Rusty” Hartley (Dwayne Johnson) is on the case when Interpol issues a Red Notice (a warrant to capture the world’s most wanted).  But when the trail puts Hartley smack in the middle of a heist, he reluctantly winds up teaming with legendary con artist Nolan Booth (Ryan Reynolds) and notorious art thief The Bishop (not the Monty Python character) (Gal Gadot) for an international caper.  Nobody said anything, though, about the trail leading everywhere from the dance floor to a secluded prison.

November 17

Prayers For The Stolen—Salvadoran documentary maker Tatiana Huezo makes her feature film debut with this drama set in the midst of Mexico’s drug war.  Ana lives with her two friends in a rural town in the Guerrero mountains.  As children, the girls frolic with little care in the world. Yet something’s going on in the village and the adults won’t explain.  Instead, the girls are ordered to cut their hair like boys or made to dig holes big enough for them to hide in.  As the girls come of age, their questions about what’s really happening will get answered in the worst possible way.

Tear Along The Dotted Line Season 1–Popular Italian comics author Michele Reche writes, directs, and stars in this adult animated comedy series.  Using the framework of a train journey taken with old friends Sarah and Secco, Zerocalcare (the Reche alter ego) grouses about his emotional incompleteness.  The protagonist’s story, livened with anecdotes from his past, is recounted to a talking armadillo (aka Zerocalcare’s conscience).  How all the narrative pieces fit together will surprise the viewer and even Zerocalcare himself.

November 19

Cowboy Bebop Season 1–Call this live action version of the beloved classic anime series a remix, not a remake.  Think of this show as the TV equivalent of what jazz musicians do when they take elements of a popular song as the foundation for their own musical version.  For the uninitiated, Spike Spiegel (John Cho), Jet Black, and Faye Valentine are futuristic working stiffs known as Cowboys.  They travel the galaxy hunting down wanted criminals for the bounties which keep their ship the Bebop running.  However, the governments posting these bounties often try to exploit loopholes to avoid paying out a dime.  Spike’s penchant for “by any means necessary” property damage also eats into any money they earn.  To top things off, a past Spike prefers to stay buried keeps coming back to trouble him…  

Hellbound

Hellbound Season 1–“Train To Busan” director Yeon Sang-Ho helms this adaptation of his webtoon “Hell.”  Mysterious beings start pronouncing that unfortunate individuals are destined for Hell at a certain date and time.  These pronouncements turn out to be quite real when strange smoky golem-like creatures start appearing on the streets of Seoul at the appointed time.  These creatures, the Executors Of Hell, burn unlucky people to death with white supernatural flames.  Jung Jin-su creates a new religion called the New Truth Society, which takes the Executors’ appearance as visible proof of the existence of divine will and that only sinners will be punished by these creatures.   The more blindly faithful of Jung’s faithful form a group called the Arrowhead, which punishes those they see as going against divine will.  TV producer Bae Young-jae is suspicious of Jung’s new and increasingly powerful church and wants to look into them.  Meanwhile, police detective Jin Gyeong-hun looks into the so-called Executors to find out the actual truth behind their appearances.  Can the world be returned to human control?

Procession—Robert Greene (“Kate Plays Christine”) shares directorial credit for his new must-see documentary with his six film subjects.  These six Midwestern men all survived childhood sexual abuse by Catholic priests and clergy.  Now in an onscreen experiment in drama therapy, they explore in fictional scenarios the church rituals and hierarchies that enabled silence regarding their abuse.  Hopefully, this experiment will enable these men to find catharsis and healing.

Tick, Tick…Boom!—Lin-Manuel Miranda (“In The Heights”) produced and directed this cinematic adaptation of Jonathan Larson’s (“Rent”) autobiographical musical.  It’s 1990 New York City.  Wannabe theater composer Jon (Andrew Garfield) does the day job thing of waiting tables at a diner.  Meanwhile, the heat’s on to get what he hopes will be his great American musical ready for a make or break performance.  On top of that, girlfriend Susan wants to leave NYC, friend Michael has traded his dream for financial security, and AIDS is decimating the artistic community. So what should Jon do with whatever time he has on earth?

November 23

Masters of the Universe: Revelation (Part 2)—Kevin Smith’s continuation of the 1980s animated series will bring more tears to the eyes of conservative fanboys. Everybody else will want to see how Smith’s setup pays off after the series’ first half cliffhanger.  The missing Sword of Power has finally been found.  Unfortunately, series Big Bad Skeletor (Mark Hamill) is the one who found it and he’s just used it to power up and become Skelegod.  How can the Savage He-Man and the forces of good save Eternia now?

Waffles + Mochi’s Holiday Feast—It’s a special episode of this children’s world food appreciation show executive produced by Barack and Michelle Obama.  The title characters find being home for the holidays in the Land of Frozen Food doesn’t mean resting.  Their friends from the grocery store have suddenly come over to help them celebrate Freezie Day, the food-centric holiday that Waffles *er* made up. However, there’s no food at the Waffles and Mochi house to have a party.  So Mochi heads out on MagiCart to forage for Something while Waffles tries to keep their unexpected guests occupied.

November 24

Robin Robin

Robin Robin—Aardman Animation’s new musical holiday special tells the tale of a bird who winds up being adopted by a family of burglar mice.  Robin adores her adopted family, but has doubts about fitting in now that she’s growing up and noticing her physical differences from the mice.  The sight of the hoo-mans in the house next door celebrating the holiday season with lots of theft-worthy food gives the young bird an idea.  However, Cat (voice of Gillian Anderson) takes a very dim view of rodents (and birds) trying to steal her hoo-mans’ food…

November 30

The Summit Of The Gods—Jiro Taniguchi and Baku Yumemakura’s manga gets an epic French animated feature adaptation.  In 1994, young reporter Makoto Fukamachi notices a Vestpocket Kodak camera held by outcast climber Joji Habu.  The camera happens to be the same one George Mallory took with him when he attempted to scale Everest with Andrew Irvine in 1924.  That device might have proof Mallory and Irvine reached the top of Everest first.  But Habu’s less interested in discovering the past than in trying himself to climb to the top of Everest solo.

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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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