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All The Great Stuff Coming To Hulu in August

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Instead of calling August the month of dog days, it needs to be called the month of “Reservation Dogs” days. That’s because the Taiki Waititi co-created dramedy returns in August for a new season of rez-based hijinks.  

The old broadcast networks may have treated August as a programming dumping ground way back when. But Hulu shows that August offers some great reasons to stream its offerings even when you want to have a cool drink in the shade. There’s a docuseries about two movie stars trying to save an underdog soccer team (Welcome To Wrexham); a suspense thriller mini-series from the creators of “The Americans” (The Patient), and a well-received prequel to the “Predator” film series (Prey). But the biggest reason to tune into Hulu this month may be Antoine Fuqua’s epic documentary re-telling of the history of the L.A. Lakers (Legacy: The True Story of the L.A. Lakers)

Hulu definitely deserves props this month for scheduling titles guaranteed to piss off a Blue Lives Matter clown or a sexual prude or two, OTOH, censoring ads discussing abortion, gun control, and climate change is a great way for the streamer to piss away good karma points in a hurry. 

Reservation Dogs

August 1

Bugsy–Barry Levinson directs this biopic of gangster Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel from a script by James Toback.  In 1941, two things send East Coast gangster Bugsy Siegel’s (Warren Beatty) business trip to Los Angeles in a far different direction.  One is an affair with tough Hollywood starlet Virginia Hill (Annette Bening).  The other is a vision of turning the backwater town of Las Vegas into a place for classy casinos and showrooms featuring top entertainment acts.  But being besotted by both Hill and his Vegas dream leaves the gangster blind to his East Coast “business partners”’ growing concerns over the insane cost overruns being incurred.

Jiro Dreams Of Sushi–Meet 85-year-old Jiro Ono, the man many consider the world’s greatest sushi chef.  His sushi-only restaurant Sukiyabashi Jiro may be located in a Tokyo subway station and have only 10 seats.  But it’s the first such restaurant to get a three star Michelin Guide rating, and sushi lovers from around the world make reservations months in advance to get a seat at Jiro’s bar.  This documentary offers a loving portrait of Jiro as both culinary genius and complicated family man.

Shame–Director Steve McQueen reunites with actor Michael Fassbender for this intense erotic  drama.  Brandon Sullivan (Fassbender) is an attractive bachelor living in Manhattan.  He’s also a sex addict whose seeking of sexual pleasure (or any sort of emotional closeness) is only a step or two removed from self-abuse.  Into his lonely shameful life comes his sister Sissy (Carey Mulligan), who needs a place to stay.  Will their thorny relationship lead to Brandon escaping his emotional shell?    

Synecdoche, New York

Spider-ManSpider-Man 2–”Dr. Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness” was not director Sam Raimi’s first cinematic go-around with the Marvel Universe.  He helmed these two incredibly popular films featuring Tobey Maguire as the titular Marvel Comics character.  The first film serves as Spidey’s origin story, and features friend Harry Osborn (James Franco), potential love interest Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst)…and one of his greatest foes The Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe).  In the second film, the burden of being a superhero has gotten heavy for Spidey, a problem worsened by mysterious losses of his power.  It’s the totally wrong time for  new foe Doctor Octopus (Alfred Molina) to arise, but that’s what Spidey’s luck is like.  Yes, Hulu is also showing the third Sam Raimi-directed “Spider-Man” movie this month, but compared to the first two films that one can be given a pass.      

Synecdoche, New York–-Writer Charlie Kaufman (“Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind”) made his directorial debut with this mind-bending drama about human nature.  Caden Cotard (the late Philip Seymour Hoffman) is a theater director whose life is unraveling thanks to personal ailments and his increasing estrangement from his artist wife Adele.  When Cotard receives a MacArthur Fellowship, he decides to create a work of brutal honesty which celebrates the mundane.  In a Theater District warehouse, the director brings together an ensemble cast to live out their constructed lives in a life-sized mockup of New York City.  But what happens when Cotard lets the line between his fabrication and the actual New York City disappear?  Which life becomes more desirable?

August 3

Reservation Dogs Season 2–Taika Waititi’s co-created dramedy returns for a new season.  It’s  about four indigenous teenagers on an Oklahoma reservation, their dream to honor a dead friend, and what happens on the way to fulfilling that dream.  As Season 2 begins, the Rez Dogs have to deal with the fallout of their dream’s collapse and the group’s splitting up.  Bear’s looking for a male parental figure to emulate.  Willie Jack’s looking for a way to undo the curse she put on the Dogs’ mortal enemy.  Cheese is reuniting with his (not) grandmother.  And will Elora make it to California?  Expect to see curses, catfish, dance numbers, trust falls, and a whole host of colorful characters this season.

August 5

Prey–Think the “Predator” series is totally tapped out of ideas?  This prequel film may make you reconsider that thought.  It’s set in the Comanche Nation of 300 years ago.  Naru (an incredible Amber Midthunder) is a skilled Comanche warrior who fiercely uses her fighting skills to protect her tribe.  But this time around, she may face more than she can handle with the combined dangers of invading colonizers, the wilderness, and an advanced alien predator that hunts humans for sport. 

Prey

August 12

This Fool Season 1–This semi-autobiographical comedy co-created by and starring Chris Estrada is set in South Central Los Angeles.  30-year-old Julio Lopez (Estrada) still lives at home with his mother, has an on- and off-relationship with his high school girlfriend, and has a talent for not dealing with his own personal problems.  Add into the emotional mix cousin Luis, who’s just moved in with Julio and his family after getting out of prison.  Julio’s work at the gang rehabilitation non-profit Hugs Not Thugs would supposedly offer some respite from his clashes with Luis.  But the ex-convict is also an ex-gang member in need of the non-profit’s services.  

August 13

Children Of The Underground–FX’s newest true crime docuseries follows the unbelievably true story of child and mother advocate/vigilante Faye Yager.  The advocate dedicated her life to helping mothers and children escape abusive households and find safety off the grid.  But after angering a wealthy banker by helping the banker’s ex-wife and children, Yager winds up getting taken to court.  Soon the value of Yager’s efforts get publicly called into question, especially when the vigilante’s accused of committing acts of child abuse. 

August 15

The China Hustle–This under-the-radar documentary makes an international financial scam understandable for those with little knowledge of how stock markets and investments work.  Merge a small Chinese company with a U.S. shell company.  Put the merged company on the Chinese stock exchange under the U.S. company’s name while inflating the merged company’s earnings and revenue way above what it’s actually taking in.  The illegal (in some parts of the world) scheme does make certain people rich, but there are reasons why the investors wind up getting screwed.  Will the film make the viewer want to join the Democratic Socialists of America?  We can hope. 

The Hate U Give–The least-favorite YA novel of quite a few Police Officers Associations gets a fantastic cinematic adaptation from director George Tillman Jr.  Teenager Starr Carter (a fantastic Amandla Stenberg) regularly lives a life of code-switching between her poor Black neighborhood of Garden Heights and her predominantly white private school Williamson Prep.  But when Starr becomes the only witness to a white police officer’s gratuitously fatal shooting of her childhood friend Khalil, the popular furor over Khalil’s death weighs heavily on the teen.  Not only does she bear the pressure of keeping her involvement in the high-profile case a secret, but her ability to continue code-switching at Williamson Prep soon grows untenable.     

Legacy: The True Story Of The L.A. Lakers–Are you an L.A. Lakers fan who wants to hear the Real story of Showtime?  Then let the real-life Los Angeles Lakers greats themselves tell that story in this Antoine Fuqua-directed docuseries.  It features interviews with Jeanie Buss, LeBron James, Shaquille O’Neil, Pat Reilly, Jerry Buss, Rob Lowe, and J.A. Adande recounting the inside story of the Lakers’ history.

Legacy: The True Story of the L.A. Lakers

Nymphomaniac Volumes I & II (Extended Director’s Cut)–This is the must-see version of director Lars Von Trier’s cinematic provocation.  When Seligman (Stellan Skarsgaard) finds Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg) badly injured in an alleyway, he takes her home to recuperate.  To pass the time, Joe tells Seligman the story of her life and her life-long quest to have as much sex as possible.  Her story may be filled with plenty of images of ejaculating penises and exposed vaginas (which one hopes Hulu will not censor).  Yet why is Joe indifferent to sex and sexual behavior?  

Whose Streets?–Sabaah Folayan and Damon Davis’ documentary recounts the Ferguson, Missouri uprising from the point of view of the working class and poor Black inhabitants of this St. Louis suburb.  On August 9, 2014, unarmed Black teenager Michael Brown was shot and killed by white police officer Darren Wilson.  Ferguson police officers refused to remove Brown’s corpse from the street for several hours.  When the outraged Black residents of Ferguson started protesting in the streets, the police response was to bring in heavily militarized cops to crush the nonviolent protests.  What happened next is told in a way that challenges the official accounts parroted by national news media.

August 17

On The Count Of Three–This spectacularly dark comedy directed by and starring Jerrod Carmichael begins with a suicide pact between best friends Kevin (Christopher Abbott) and Val (Carmichael).  But their agreement to shoot each other in the head in tandem gets put on pause when Kevin hesitates on pulling the trigger.  That pause leads to the duo going on a road trip to obtain retribution from those responsible for their pain before finally going forward with ending it all.  Though Kevin and Val have different reasons for wanting to commit suicide, they share the same type of desperation.

August 18

International Falls–In the titular Minnesota town, hotel clerk Dee is stuck living a monotonous dead-end existence.  When edgy but burnt-out comedian Tim arrives at Dee’s hotel, the clerk feels she has a second chance to escape International Falls via rekindling her aspirations to be a stand-up comedian.  Under the veteran comedian’s guidance, Dee learns how to become mentally tougher and more creatively inspired.  But how Tim and Dee get changed by their relationship definitely doesn’t go where the viewer expects.  

August 25

Welcome To Wrexham

Welcome To Wrexham–In 2020, actors Ryan Reynolds (“Deadpool”) and Rob McElhenney (“It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia”) decided to jointly buy ownership of lower league Welsh football team Wrexham AFC.  The small working class town’s football club may have a long history, but it’s always struggled without achieving success.  Can Ryan and Rob improve the club’s fortunes and do right by Wrexham’s inhabitants…even though neither actor has experience in either working together or knowledge of soccer?  Watch this docuseries and find out. 

August 26

Little Demon–Aubrey Plaza serves as executive producer for and star of this new animated fantasy comedy series.  Thirteen years ago, Laura (Plaza) was impregnated by the Devil (Danny DeVito).  That union would produce the Antichrist aka 13-year-old Chrissy (Lucy DeVito).  Laura and Chrissy prefer to live a nice quiet life in Delaware.  But Devil’s got to Devil, so he keeps planning ways to get Chrissy’s soul.  Watch out for a “Twins” reunion, as Arnold Schwarzenegger will appear as a guest on the show.

August 30

Keep This Between Us–Amy Berg directs this Vox Media docuseries which follows one woman’s journey as she re-examines her relationship with a trusted teacher.  Her re-examination ties into the larger problem of widespread grooming in American high schools.  Have school authority figures been using manipulation or coercive behavior to gain access to potential victims?   

The Patient–This thriller comes from the minds of Joel Fields and Joel Weisberg (“The Americans”).  Therapist Alan Strauss (Steve Carrell) is the prisoner of patient Sam Fortner (Domnhall Gleeson).  Fortner turns out to be a serial killer who wants Strauss to unwind his mind and stop him from killing again.  However, the patient/captor treats certain personal topics as off limits, such as his relationship with his mother.  Complicating Strauss’ efforts are his own personal problems such as the recent death of his wife and his estrangement from his son.

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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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