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6° & SUNNY ON MONDAY 19 AUGUST IN AUCKLAND
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Ten Films and TV Shows You Need to Stream This Month

Cancel your plans to get stuck into the latest season of 'Mindhunter', the fourth series of 'Veronica Mars' or re-watch 'Mad Max'.
By Sarah Ward
August 12, 2019
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Ten Films and TV Shows You Need to Stream This Month

Cancel your plans to get stuck into the latest season of 'Mindhunter', the fourth series of 'Veronica Mars' or re-watch 'Mad Max'.
By Sarah Ward
August 12, 2019
  shares

Not all that long ago, the idea of getting cosy on your couch, clicking a few buttons, and having thousands of films and television shows at your fingertips seemed like something out of science fiction. Now, it's just an ordinary night — whether you're gathering the gang for a stay-at-home shindig, cuddling up to your significant other or shutting the world out for some much needed me-time.

Of course, given the wealth of options to choose from, there's nothing ordinary about making a date with your chosen streaming platform. The question isn't "should I stay in?" — it's "what on earth should I watch?". Hundreds of titles are added to New Zealand's online viewing services each and every month, all vying for a spot on your must-see list. And, so you don't spend 45 minutes scrolling and then being too tired to actually commit to watching anything, we're here to help. From the latest and greatest to old favourites, here are our picks for your streaming queue for August.

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NEW STUFF TO WATCH NOW

THE BOYS

At a time when the Marvel Cinematic Universe has clocked up 23 films in just over a decade, DC Comics is trying to build its own movie realm filled with caped crusaders, and plenty of other tales of enhanced humans hit the big and small screen every month, superhero saturation is a genuine phenomenon. And yet, Amazon Prime Video's The Boys boasts its own flavour, even if the idea of superheroes who aren't always super or heroic is hardly new. Here, humanity's spandex-wearing beacons of hope have been highly commercialised, corporatised and monetised, and this deeply cynically (and deeply violent and amusing) series has ample fun with the idea. It all starts when one of the celebrated superheroes from a group dubbed 'The Seven' brings trauma to appliance store worker Hugh Campbell's (Jack Quaid, son of Dennis Quaid and Meg Ryan) life, leaving him desperate for answers — and desperate enough to join a gang of vigilantes led by the uncouth, no-nonsense Billy Butcher (a pitch-perfect Karl Urban).

The first season of The Boys is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.

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LAMBS OF GOD

On a remote island that's difficult to access, in a dilapidated convent that time seems to have forgotten, three women (Essie Davis, Ann Dowd and Jessica Barden) remain true to their faith by adhering to their routines and rituals. Then, an uncaring priest (Sam Reid) arrives with a message: their home is due to be sold off by the Catholic Church, for profit, and turned into a luxury hotel for the wealthy. More than just a fight against gentrification and corruption, the plight of Lambs of God's three nuns spans mysteries, murder, divine beliefs and otherworldly deeds, all based on the novel of the same name by Australian author Marele Day. Directed by Ali's Wedding's Jeffrey Walker and lensed by acclaimed cinematographer Don McAlpine, the four-part mini-series proves a lush and twisty gothic drama — aka the best kind — that takes aim at both gender and death inequality.

All four episodes of Lambs of God are available to stream on SoHo2.

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DARK

After the first season ended with a big jump forward and many an unresolved mystery, Dark returns with more time travel, twists of fate, small-town secrets, cavernous caves and nuclear fallout. Everything is still more than a little odd in the show's German village of Winden. Everyone, including teenager Jonas (Louis Hofman), is still trying to work out just what's going on — both in the sci-fi/thriller series' modern-day setting of 2020, and in the other periods it visits at 33-year intervals. Now 18 episodes in, Dark doesn't shy away from complexity, labyrinthine timelines or complicated character webs, which is what makes it riveting viewing, revealing something new and intriguing seemingly every minute. The show's bleak vibe, with a colour palette to match, is also intoxicating, especially as the show delves deeper into existential questions, such as just how much control we have over our own destinies.

The second season of Dark is available to stream on Netflix.

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FLOWERS

More Julian Barratt in more British television programs is never a bad thing. In fact, it's downright delightful. Swapping The Mighty Boosh's silliness for a firm, unshakeable mood of melancholy, Flowers sees Barratt play a depressed children's author — a man with a family (including this year's Oscar winner Olivia Colman as his optimistic wife, and two 25-year-old children who won't leave home), but with a sense of malaise that haunts his every waking moment, driving him to take drastic action. Running across two six-episode seasons, this series is bittersweet to its very core, pushing the idea of domestic dysfunction to visibly striking, emotionally resonant extremes. Delving deep into mental health and trauma, when Flowers gets comedic, it favours the dark, surreal but unflinchingly honest side of the humorous spectrum.

Both seasons of Flowers are available to stream on Netflix.

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BACK TO LIFE

Is there a Fleabag-shaped hole in your life? Back to Life is here to help. On British TV, the latter even took over the former's timeslot. Daisy Haggard's Miri Matteson isn't just this British dramedy's stand-in for Phoebe Waller-Bridge, however — she's a 30-something woman returning home after a lengthy prison sentence, and trying to carve out some semblance of normality, even though she's hardly given a warm welcome home. Haggard co-writes the series, as well as stars, driving a show that finds a distinctive, delicate and affecting way to unpack arrested development. And if you really are getting Fleabag vibes, Back to Life was also produced by the same team.

The first season of Back to Life is available to stream on TVNZ OnDemand.

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THE LOUDEST VOICE

Based on the biography The Loudest Voice in the Room, this Russell Crowe-starring mini-series might just be the most topical show on television at the moment. Its subject? Roger Ailes, the US TV executive responsible for creating and shaping Fox News into the right-wing mouthpiece it is today, and whose career eventually came undone after allegations of sexual harassment. With another American election on the way, and the current US president extremely fond of the network, you can see why this dramatised behind-the-scenes origin story is particularly timely and relevant. Watching Fox News come to fruition in the 90s, and Ailes' slimy behaviour that made it happen, The Loudest Voice is also both must-see and horrifying viewing, with a cast that includes Sienna Miller, Seth MacFarlane and Naomi Watts — as well as a rotund, forceful, formidable Rusty — all putting in stellar work.

The first six episodes of The Loudest Voice are available to stream on Neon TV.

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VERONICA MARS

Nothing has ever been easy for Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell), whether she's trying to work out who killed her best friend, weighing up her romantic options, or following in her dad's (Enrico Colantoni) footsteps as a small-town private eye. For the show of the same name, that notion has proved just as accurate, with the beloved series cancelled after its first three seasons, brought back as a crowdfunded movie, sprawling over two books and now finally revived on the small screen by Hulu. All of the original gang is involved, including creator Rob Thomas (no, not that one), so it's safe to feel mighty excited about Ms Mars' return. This time around, she's working in her hometown with her loving father, endeavouring to discover why literal bombs keep going off during spring break, and crossing paths with a shady ex-con turned businessman (JK Simmons). Yes, Veronica Mars is definitely back.

Veronica Mars' fourth season is available to stream on Neon TV.

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ONES TO WATCH OUT FOR LATER IN THE MONTH

MINDHUNTER

Sometimes, you need a killer to catch a killer. The FBI's Behavioural Science Unit knows this, interviewing imprisoned serial murderers to help them profile and hunt down criminals at large. That's the premise of Netflix's compelling crime drama Mindhunter, which is based on the non-fiction book Mindhunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit, features episodes directed by David Fincher, and earns the term 'meticulous' several times over — in the detailed ins and outs of agents Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) and Bill Tench's (Holt McCallany) work, in the show's eerily exacting images and in its fine-tuned performances. Returning for its second season on August 16, the series will take on a new case and spend time chatting to a new nefarious figure. While the eloquent Ed Kemper (Cameron Britton) is still the FBI's go-to killer, Charles Manson (Damien Herriman) is also on Ford and Tench's interview list. The duo is endeavouring to investigate the Atlanta Child Murders, giving them quite the case to crack, and gifting devoted viewers a new bleak chapter to dive into.

Mindhunter's second season will be available to stream on Netflix from Friday, August 16.

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PEN15

Remember those years when you were too cool for childhood, but just finding your feet as a teenager? You've probably blocked it out of your memory. Most of us do — except comedians Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle, who've based the entirety of their series PEN15 on the time that most of us would rather forget. Across the show's ten-episode first season, the pair play themselves as 13-year-olds starting middle school, reliving the highlights, the horrors, the first sips of beer and the agony of trying to work out what life is all about at any moment. In a series executive produced by Andy Samberg and his fellow Lonely Island pals Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone, Erskine and Konkle's on-screen alter-egos are surrounded by real 13-year-olds — and the results are poignant, scarily accurate and all-round hilarious. If you love it, it's been renewed for a second season, so there's more to come.

The entire first season of PEN15 will be available to stream now on Neon TV.

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CULT CLASSICS TO REVISIT AND REDISCOVER

MAD MAX

When Mad Max: Fury Road released in cinemas back in 2015, it wowed audiences for a wide variety of reasons. One of them couldn't be more simple: the fact that viewers had been forced to wait three whole decades for the fourth instalment in George Miller's dystopian series. The film's difficult history, including not being able to shoot in the outback town of Broken Hill because unseasonable rain left the usually arid Australian area overflowing with greenery, has been well-documented. The end product, of course, was well worth the delay. From Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron's stellar performances, to action scenes unparalleled in modern filmmaking, Fury Road is a modern masterpiece — and, if you're revisiting it on Lightbox, you can also head back to where the franchise all began with the original, Mel Gibson-starring Mad Max, too.

The entire Mad Max series is available to stream on Lightbox.

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Published on August 12, 2019 by Sarah Ward

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