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19° & CLOUDY ON TUESDAY 28 JANUARY IN AUCKLAND
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Ten Films and TV Shows You Need to Stream This Month

Cancel your plans to get stuck into a hilarious new spy, cop and medical show parody, watch Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman host a competitive crafting series and see Adam Sandler at his dramatic best.
By Sarah Ward
January 13, 2020
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Ten Films and TV Shows You Need to Stream This Month

Cancel your plans to get stuck into a hilarious new spy, cop and medical show parody, watch Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman host a competitive crafting series and see Adam Sandler at his dramatic best.
By Sarah Ward
January 13, 2020
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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 January.

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NEW STUFF TO WATCH NOW

MEDICAL POLICE

Starting out as a web series, then airing for seven seasons on the Cartoon Network's Adult Swim in the US, Children Hospital is the parody gem of the past decade. Rounding up everyone from Jon Hamm to Megan Mullally and Henry Winkler to spoof medical dramas and their conventions, no joke was too silly for this off-kilter delight — and now spinoff Medical Police is following in its footsteps. Here, Children Hospital doctors Lola Spratt (Erinn Hayes) and Owen Maestro (Rob Huebel) get drawn into an international terrorist plot when a mysterious virus pops up at their Brazilian medical facility. Soon they're enlisted as government agents and sent around the globe to track down the source of the outbreak. Of course they are. Yep, they're now doctors and cops. Focusing on spy thrillers, the program's ten-episode first season ramps up the knowing ridiculousness, savvily skewering procedural tropes. Co-created by Wet Hot American Summer's David Wain, it also enlists CH's Rob Corddry, Malin Akerman, Lake Bell and Ken Marino to help — and Jason Schwartzman.

The first season of Medical Police is now streaming on Netflix.

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THE OUTSIDER

One day, every book and short story that Stephen King ever wrote will also exist as a film or TV show. Most of his work already does, with his 2018 horror novel The Outsider the latest to make the leap from the page to the screen. It boasts an intriguing premise — when a boy is found dead in the woods, all the evidence points to the local Little League coach, including fingerprints and reliable witnesses. But evidence also proves that the man in question was out of town at the time the brutal crime took place. Unsurprisingly, there's a definite air of moodiness and brooding to HBO's mini-series adaptation, with Jason Bateman featuring as the suspected killer, Ben Mendelsohn playing the detective trying to get to the bottom of the case and Cynthia Erivo (Widows) popping up as a private investigator. If you're already partial to twisty mysteries with an eerie air — and King's tales, obviously — this superbly acted ten-part show will instantly lure you in.

The first two episodes of The Outsider are available to stream on Neon, with new episodes dropping weekly on Mondays.

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TOGO

As moving a dog-focused movie as you're ever likely to see, Togo tells an extraordinary true tale. You might've already heard of Balto, the sled dog who came to fame for running 53 miles in a snow storm to help fetch diphtheria anti-toxin for a small Alaskan town back in 1925. That canine is clearly a hero — but another Siberian Husky named Togo actually led the pack that ran the bulk of the distance, covering a huge 260 miles over ice and snow. So, this heartfelt and action-packed movie tells the latter's story. Starring Willem Dafoe as his owner Leonhard Seppala, it's endearing from start to finish. In earnest mode, Dafoe is typically excellent, while the cute pooch acting is first-rate as well. And while director Ericson Core did a terrible job of 2015's needless Point Break remake, he does exactly what he needs to here.

Togo is available to stream on Disney+.

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THE WITCHER

Henry Cavill. An ice-blonde wig. A fantasy storyline teeming with action, mystery, secrets, beasts, magic and power struggles. If you're still looking for a replacement for Game of Thrones, Netflix's algorithm clearly thinks that The Witcher might be it — although blending all of the above elements together is hardly rocket science. The streaming platform is so confident that it has already renewed the show for a second season before the first even airs. So, prepare to spend quite some time with lone monster hunter Geralt of Rivia (Cavill), powerful sorceress Yennefer of Vengerberg (Anya Chalotra, Netflix's Wanderlust) and young princess Ciri (newcomer Freya Allan) as their destinies combine, and with an epic-looking series based on the novels by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski.

The first season of The Witcher is now available to stream on Netflix.cp-line

DRACULA

After giving Sherlock Holmes plenty of twists in Sherlock, writers Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss have decided that another famous character could use a once-over — and not just any old figure, either. Bram Stoker's Dracula has been adapted for the screen so many times, the bloodsucker actually holds the record, but this version isn't like any other. Starring The Square's Claes Bang as the undead count, the BBC and Netflix three-part series has plenty of tricks up its sleeves. So many, in fact, that we won't say too much in order to preserve the mystery. In a smart, lush, gleefully theatrical and cleverly scripted affair that blends gothic horror with sly amusement, the basic framework of the 123-year-old story remains — spanning both Romania and Britain, and following his altercations with lawyer Jonathan Harker, his lust for Lucy Westenra and his run-ins with Van Helsing — but not as you'd ever expect. Bang is fantastic, but keep a particular eye out for Dolly Wells (Can You Ever Forgive Me?) as a pivotal nun.

All three episodes of Dracula are available to stream on Netflix.
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MAKING IT

It isn't often that we recommend anything that could be construed as reality TV — but it isn't often that a kind-hearted competitive crafting show hosted by Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman hits screens either. The dynamic Parks and Recreation duo set the tone for this charming show, making puns, being endearingly funny, and keeping everything warm and nice. Yes, contestants also do battle to emerge victorious, showing off their crafting skills across big and small challenges in each episode, but the competitive side of things rarely feels like the main attraction. Rather, Making It heartily celebrates folks making things with love and care — and with their hands — and does so in a resounding fashion. There's no over-the-top drama, other than when the show playfully makes fun of the genre's cliches. And there's no manufactured snarkiness or tension. Basically, it's a cosy hug of a show, as you'd expect with Lesley Knope and Ron Swanson leading the charge. Even if you're terrible at arts and crafts, it'll also make you want to make something yourself.

The first two seasons of Making It are available to stream on Amazon Prime.cp-line

RICK AND MORTY

Wubba lubba dub dub, Rick and Morty fans. Yes, we all know that Rick's catchphrase actually means "I am in great pain, please help me", but there's no need to feel that way for much longer. After a more than two-year wait, the animated sci-fi comedy is back with the first five episodes of its fourth season. A show that basically takes Back to the Future's general concept and makes it a whole lot weirder — with absurdist humour to match, naturally — R&M keeps leaning into its strange yet hilarious vibe. This time around, expect more alternate universes and interdimensional chaos, a riff on online dating, a heisting competition and a pet dragon, as well as guest voice work by Taika Waititi, Sam Neill, Matthew Broderick, Game of Thrones' Liam Cunningham and Elon Musk. And that's the wayyyyyy the news goes.

The first five episodes of Rick and Morty's fourth season are available to stream on Netflix.
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ONES TO WATCH OUT FOR LATER IN THE MONTH

UNCUT GEMS

The best film of 2020, based on Australian release dates, might only screen on Netflix on our shores. The year has only just begun and a wide array of movies await — but the anxiety-dripping, riveting Uncut Gems is a stone-cold masterpiece, complete with one of the greatest performances of Adam Sandler's career (alongside Punch-Drunk Love and The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)). Far, far removed from his Netflix comedies of late, the actor is all hustle and bustle as Jewish American diamond-district jeweller Howard Ratner. A compulsive gambler who is deeply in debt, about to get divorced and being shaken down by a loan shark (Eric Bogosian) he's related to by marriage, he's always trying to lure in high-profile clientele. When he comes into possession of a rare black opal — the uncut gem of the title — basketballer Kevin Garnett becomes interested, sparking a wild chain of events. Writer/directors Josh and Benny Safdie last worked their gritty, vivid and relentlessly tense magic with the Robert Pattinson-starring Good Time to exhilarating and mesmerising effect, and this uncompromisingly chaotic thriller and all-round exceptional character study is even better.

Uncut Gems will be available to stream on Netflix on Friday, January 31.
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LITTLE AMERICA

Watching Apple+'s Little America, if you didn't already know that it was made by the folks behind The Big Sick and Master of None (Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon, plus screenwriter Alan Yang), you'd guess. Like both, the anthology series explores the lives of immigrants in America — their families and culture, challenges and struggles, the attitudes they face, their reasons for calling the US home and their hopes for the future. Each of the eight first-season episodes tells a different tale, including the devastating experiences of a boy forced to manage his parents' roadside motel when they're deported, as well as the spark that ignites in a rebellious Latina teenager when she discovers a knack for squash. Other than appearances by Zachary Quinto (Star Trek) and Melanie Laurent (Inglourious Basterds), it isn't a particularly star-studded affair, instead aiming for thoughtful, measured and immersive as it recreates real-life stories. Based on true accounts as covered in Epic Magazine, the bittersweet show follows a format also seen in Amazon's Modern Love — and bests it in the process.

The first season of Little America will be available to stream on Apple TV+ on Friday, January 17.

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CULT CLASSICS TO REVISIT AND REDISCOVER

WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT

It's the part live-action, part animated film that's really not for kids, and it's still a delight 31 years after it first hit the big screen. Who Framed Roger Rabbit steps back to 1947, plays with both neo-noir and comedy, and creates a world where humans and cartoons — or Toons as they're called — co-exist. A who's who of Hollywood's late-80s best and brightest were all considered for the part of private detective Eddie Valiant (Harrison Ford, Bill Murray and Eddie Murphy among them), but Bob Hoskins is pitch-perfect in the role. Also working a charm is the film's dark yet funny tone, its exceptional special effects, and the reteaming of Robert Zemeckis and Christopher Lloyd after Back to the Future.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit is available to stream on Disney+.

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Togo image: Chris Large. (c) 2019 Disney Enterprises, Inc.

Published on January 13, 2020 by Sarah Ward

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