Header images courtesy of Robert Viglaski (via Legendary)
The amazing thing about 2020 is that time seems to be simultaneously standing still and also hurdling toward 2021 at breakneck speed. It’s already three-fourths through the year and, with theatres still closed in Hong Kong (for now), Netflix is keeping us entertained with the latest and greatest Hollywood (and beyond!) has to offer. Paul Hsiao, chart maker and film enthusiast at Movieconomist, lists his most-anticipated releases arriving on Netflix Hong Kong in September.
In 1987, Eddie Murphy forever etched his name in the halls of comedy greatness with his groundbreaking special. Still as relevant, satirical, and hilarious as it was more than thirty years ago, Raw is must-watch for any fan of comedy to understand the roots of Murphy’s enduring career. Plus, aside from the knee-slapping sketch segments, Murphy’s gaudy purple suit will keep your attention riveted to the thought of “How is he getting away with this?” Available 1 September
Like this? Consider 8:46 from Dave Chapelle, another innovate comedy special that is an unfiltered and raw (pardon the pun) take from the veteran comedian about the current state of racial relations in America.
With restaurants still under restrictions, why not tune in to Netflix’s Emmy-nominated series and learn a thing or two about BBQ? Meet revered chefs and pitmasters from all across the globe who dive deep into cuts of juicy and tender meats as Chef’s Table: BBQ captures fire-cooking traditions from America, Australia, and Mexico. Available 2 September
Like this? Consider The Taco Chronicles, another food-centric series that explores Mexico’s favourite street food and adds detail, history, and flavour to an extremely popular dish.
As wealth inequality grows, it has become fodder to both begrudgingly admire and righteously judge the rich. In Bad Boy Billionaires: India, the filmmakers highlight the “greed, fraud, and corruption” that infamous billionaires like Subrata Roy and Nirav Modi exemplified in South Asia’s largest economy. With the plotting and scheming behind the scenes, it’s almost like Game of Thrones, but with money to conquer rather than empires. Available 2 September
Like this? Consider Dirty Money, another Netflix documentary series that captures the follies of the very rich and what they do to get there.
No, this isn’t an infomercial for a companion-bot. 1990s fixtures Rachel Leigh Cook and Damon Wayans Jr. headline a romantic comedy that seems straight out of, well, the 1990s. A spunky small-town lawyer partners up with a charming client to sue an online dating website since he hasn’t found true love despite going on 900 dates. Available 3 September
Like this? Consider trying online dating in the time of COVID-19.
I thought this was going to be the Swedish version of Outlander based on the title alone but instead, Young Wallander turns out to be a Swedish version of Training Day. Played by Adam Pålsson, Kurt Wallander is a freshly graduated police officer (who looks almost exactly like Jonathan Groff’s FBI agent Holden Ford from Mindhunter). He witnesses a shocking crime and stops at nothing to crack the case. Available 3 September
Like this? Consider Mindhunter (cheap, I know), which follows FBI agents Holden Ford and Bill Tench as they track down serial killers and pioneer the psychology behind modern serial-killer profiling.
Are there similarities between the phrase “black power” and “white power”? Can art—say, a film—be heralded even though it’s overtly racist? Can a black guy sound like a member of the KKK? Spike Lee, no stranger to giving his take on racial relations, tackles these questions and more with BlackKklansman. Part satire and part period-piece drama, the film follows the true story of Ron Stallworth, a black police officer who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan in the 1970s. Available 3 September
Like this? Consider Da Five Bloods, another Spike Lee joint about Vietnam veterans who return to the southeast nation to dig up treasure they buried, starring Chadwick Boseman of Black Panther fame.
I remember back, more than twenty years ago, when I watched Being John Malkovich and thought to myself, “Is John Malkovich a real person and if so why did he agree to do this movie?” and “Is this film super weird or is it just me?” Well, auteur Charlie Kaufman, the weirdo behind Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Being John Malkovich, is back with a film that personifies the existential dread of ending a relationship through the premise of a young woman visiting her boyfriend’s parents in the middle of winter. Available 4 September
Like this? Consider The Shining, another unconventional piece of entertainment because 2020 needs less joy.
In space, can anyway see you tear up? Hillary Swank leads this drama series as a woman who reaches for the stars, literally, as one of the first humans to journey to Mars with an international crew. She leaves behind a family to embark on a three-year mission to achieve what are seemingly impossible things. Available 4 September
Like this? Consider Space Force, a lighter television series that also revolves around space exploration, led by Steve Carell and John Malkovich with a star-studded cast.
In some sense, the draw of The Devil All the Time is less centred around its convoluted narrative but centred on its blockbuster cast: Tom Holland, Bill Skarsgård (the clown from It), Haley Bennett (unfavourably discount Jennifer Lawrence), Sebastian Stan (The Winter Soldier himself), and Robert Pattison (new Batman). The plot follows Tom Holland’s Arvin Russell, a Midwesterner in post-WWII America as he struggles to protect his family against a vicious rogue’s gallery. Available 16 September
Like this? Consider Public Enemies, starring Johnny Depp as John Dillinger, a Great Depression gangster.
I hesitated writing a recommendation of this because it’s not like we need to know the origin story of Nurse Ratched, the primary antagonist of 1970s classic One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and how she becomes bitter to the point of abusing her patients. However, the talent behind the project, showrunner Ryan Murphy of American Horror Story, Pose, Glee, and The Politician, promises an off-kilter and unique take—and a highlight of September. Available 18 September
Like this? Consider The Haunting of Hill House, another modern update of a classic horror story.
Did you know that Sherlock Holmes had a sister? Me neither, but the folks at Netflix seemed to like the idea of combining the high-jinks of Stranger Things (and Eleven herself, Millie Bobbie Brown) with the period-drama sensibilities of Pride & Prejudice and Little Women. Enola Holmes follows the story of the eponymous title character as she tracks down her missing mother with the sleuthing skills made famous by her older brothers. Perhaps more shocking is the casting of Henry Cavill as Sherlock Holmes himself—a smart but perhaps not-so-inconspicuous detective. Available 23 September
Like this? Consider Ladybird, a coming-of-age comedy-drama starring Saoirse Ronan and Timothee Chalamet.
With a cliffhanger involving the moon, fans of the acclaimed first season had to wait an excruciatingly long year to find out what happened to the Hargreeves children and the advent of a seemingly new supervillain. This new season promises more twists on the superhero genre and a deeper dive into the mythology of the series, based on a comic book written by Gerard Way, the lead vocalist for My Chemical Romance!
Like this? Consider Stranger Things, the Netflix smash that is also an unconventional take on the superhero genre.
For the nerds among us, Connected features science journalist Latif Nasser as he treks the globe exploring the surprising ways things like our internet, air, and bodily functions can have profound consequences on an array of seemingly unrelated events. Like a more science-based Freakonomics in a bite-sized format.
Like this? Consider Explained, a Netflix non-fiction series that explains the origins behind everyday phenomena.
Echoing the hilarity of God of Gamblers, The King of Mahjong stars Chapman To and Mark Lee as two disciples from a mahjong master, who come together for one last match-up in the World Mahjong Championship.
Like this? Consider Initial D, a Hong Kong movie set in the world of drift-racing where family ties conflict with personal ambition.
What was originally slated for a May release got pushed back to August, and we’re going to give it another mention. Not only is this a feature follow-up to the hilarious and wacky television series from funnywoman Tina Fey, but Kimmy vs the Reverend is another entry in Netflix’s growing “interactive section,” where audience members can tag along on Kimmy’s adventures and influence her decisions as she battles her nemesis, the Reverend. Starring Ellie Kemper, Daniel Radcliffe, and Jon Hamm, Kimmy vs the Reverend promises to be a wild ride.
Like this? Consider Black Mirror: Bandersnatch as another Netflix interactive movie.
Who better to play beloved icon Mr Rogers, decades-long children’s television host, than beloved icon Tom Hanks? Loosely based on the writings of investigative journalist Tom Junod, A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood tells the story of a journalist seeking to find out if Mr Rogers is as good and wholesome as his reputation makes him up to be (spoiler alert: he is.) Definitely a feel-good film that we need right now.
Like this? Considering spending time with a father figure in your life.
The latest big-budget nature documentary from Netflix puts a spotlight on cute critters and insects as they survive in the most unusual and harsh environments. Tiny Critters also features the voice of Mike Colter, a.k.a. Luke Cage, and Emmy-award winning visuals from cinematographer Jonathan (not Jessica) Jones.
Like this? Consider Our Planet, where nature documentary OG David Attenborough guides viewers through different ecologies. Our favourite episode is Frozen Worlds.
Swapping glitzy Las Vegas for gritty New York and the charming duo of George Clooney and Brad Pitt for the equally charming duo of Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett, Ocean’s 8 is a pseudo-sequel to the hit trilogy now taking the perspective of Debbie Ocean, a master thief fresh out of jail who concocts a scheme to infiltrate the Met Gala to steal millions of dollars worth of diamonds.
Like this? Consider Catch Me if You Can, a classic caper starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks
The latest high-concept K-drama from Netflix imagines if Korea remained a monarchy only to be upended when a musical actress abruptly marries the emperor. Part comedy of manners and part Game of Thrones-like political intrigue, The Last Empress has won accolades in South Korea and is definitely worth a look at for fans of the genre.
Like this? Consider It’s Okay to Not Be Okay for another K-drama featuring unconventional romance.
Do you ever go to the pharmacy and wonder what really is in the countless supplements, essential oils, and pills they prescribe for you? This is the documentary for you. (Un)Well peels back the curtain to uncover the secrets behind the trillion-dollar wellness industry and investigates whether these products and practices actually make you any healthier.
Like this? Consider What the Health, a documentary that explores the relationship between diet, disease, and the decisions from corporations.
What has Joseph Gordon Levitt been up to these past few years since 500 Days of Summer? A bunch of action films, it seems. In this case, he teams up with Jamie Foxx as a soldier-and-cop duo trying to unearth the origins of a mysterious pill that gives its users superhuman powers. The film is also notable for having an eclectic cast, featuring YouTube star Casey Neistat, rapper Machine Gun Kelly, and 1990s icon Courtney Vance.
Like this? Consider The Old Guard, starring Charlize Theron as an immortal mercenary.
What does the PlayStation 4 game The Last of Us: Part II have in common with the 1980s nostalgia throwback Cobra Kai? Both ask the audience to walk a mile in their previous opponent’s shoes. Thirty-four years after The Karate Kid, Cobra Kai follows a down-and-out Johnny Lawrence, the antagonist of the first movie, as he re-opens the Cobra Kai dojo and reignites an old rivalry. Available 28 August
Like this? Consider Stranger Things, another 1980s-inspired television show.