Eleven Films and TV Shows You Need to Stream This Month
Make a couch date with Jennifer Lawrence's latest stunning performance, a true-crime drama about murder and male strippers, and Marvel getting festive.
November 30, 2022
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 virtually gathering the gang to text along, 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 watch something?" — it's "what on earth should I choose?".
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 from November's haul of newbies.
BRAND NEW STUFF YOU CAN WATCH IN FULL
Trauma is a screenwriter's best friend. If on-screen characters didn't have past stresses to overcome or new hardships to cope with — usually both — then dramatic scripts would barely last a few pages. Neither would horror flicks, or thrillers, or plenty of comedies; however, few films are happy to sit with trauma in the way that (and as well as) Causeway does. Starring Jennifer Lawrence (Don't Look Up) as a military veteran sent home from Afghanistan after being blown up, working her way through rehab and determined to re-enlist as soon as she has medical sign-off, this subtle, thoughtful and powerful movie grapples with several stark truths. It knows that some woes do genuinely change lives, and not for the better. It's well aware that many miseries can't be overcome, and completely alter the person experiencing them. It's keenly cognisant that that simply existing can be a series of heartbreaks, and escaping that cycle can be the most powerful motivator in the world. And, when Atlanta and Bullet Train's Brian Tyree Henry enters the picture as a New Orleans mechanic with his own history, it sees the solace that can be found between people willing to face their tough realities together.
When Causeway begins, Lawrence's Lynsey is freshly out of hospital, and learning how to walk, dress, shower, drive and do all other everyday tasks again. Even then, she still wants to redeploy. Directed by feature first-timer Lila Neugebauer (The Sex Lives of College Girls), and penned by fellow debutants Ottessa Moshfegh, Luke Goebel and Elizabeth Sanders, the film spies the determination in its protagonist's eyes — and the pain she's trying to bury after she goes home to stay with her mother (Linda Emond, The Patient), gets drawn into old unhealthy dynamics, but finds a friend in Henry's kind, eager but haunted James. There's no cross-country drive with a canine, if the similarly themed Dog comes to mind, but rather a willingness to steep in Lynsey and James' complicated emotions. Neugebauer has the perfect central duo for the movie's key parts, too; neither Lawrence nor Henry's resumes are short on highlights, acclaim or award nominations, but their respective textured, naturalistic and deeply felt performances in Causeway ranks among each's best work.
Causeway streams via Apple TV+.
Whenever Call Jane peers Elizabeth Banks' way, the look on her face doesn't just speak a thousand words — it screams a million of them, even while she's silent. That said, although first-timer filmmaker Phyllis Nagy (who last penned Carol's screenplay) directs the lens towards her star often, there's nothing quite like Banks' expression in an early pivotal scene. The Charlie's Angels and Brightburn star plays Joy, a happy Chicago housewife with a 15-year-old daughter (Grace Edwards, American Crime Story) and a baby on the way, until she learns that her pregnancy is causing a heart condition. If she remains in the family way, there's a 50-percent chance that she mightn't survive; however, this is 1968 in America, before the Roe v Wade decision that legalised abortion. In the scene in question, Joy is the only woman in the room, and yet the men around her talk about her life and potential death like she isn't even present. Worse: most of those male doctors are only concerned about whether the baby might make it to term. Joy seethes with pain, anger and heartbreak, then secretly takes a path that'll be familiar to viewers of 2022 documentary The Janes, contacting a clandestine service that helps women in such circumstances.
As played with charm, warmth, depth and potency by Banks, Joy does more than merely pick up the phone. Soon, she's helping other women cope, alongside a team of ladies led by Sigourney Weaver (Ghostbusters: Afterlife) as Virginia. The latter is also canny casting, bringing both gravitas and understanding to the role — and the rapport between Call Jane's two central figures helps convey not only the urgency driving and importance behind the hotline's existence, but the crucial camaraderie. Still at home venturing decades into the past on-screen, Nagy and cinematographer Greta Zozula ensure that every second looks the rich, authentic period part, and a well-chosen soundtrack adds to the time-capsule feel. Of course, Call Jane isn't merely a look back. It'd be moving, sensitive and inspiring if the situation in the US hadn't changed this year via a Supreme Court ruling, once again putting women in Joy's situation, but now it acts as a cautionary tale as well, not to mention a reminder about banding together to fight back.
Call Jane streams via Prime Video.
It's a truth that Morticia, Gomez, Wednesday and Pugsley would treasure: nearly a century might've passed since The Addams Family first graced the pages of The New Yorker in the 1930s, but this creepy, kooky, mysterious and ooky brood will never die. America's first macabre family keeps entrancing and enchanting audiences, luring them in with their unflinching embrace of the eerie, the gothic, and the all-round dark and twisted. Forget bumps, jumps, screams and shrieks, however; this off-kilter crew might pal around with a severed limb and adore graveyards, but they also delight in a gloriously eclectic, eccentric, embrace-your-inner-outcast fashion, as the 1960s TV show, 1991's live-action film The Addams Family and its 1993 sequel Addams Family Values, and now new Netflix series Wednesday understands and adores.
The Addams Family's latest go-around arrives stitched-together as so much is of late. Netflix's algorithm has accurately gleaned that viewers love cartoonist Charles Addams' horror-influenced creations. It knows that people like mysteries and teen coming-of-age tales, two of the platform's favourite genres. And, the service is well-aware that already-beloved big names are a drawcard. Throw in Tim Burton directing like it's his 80s and 90s heyday, current scream queen Jenna Ortega sporting the trademark plaits, 90s Wednesday Christina Ricci returning in a new part, and a supernatural school for unusual children complete with Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children-meets-Hogwarts vibes, and Wednesday's various pieces are as evident as the sewn-on limbs on Frankenstein's monster. And yet, while seeing why and how Netflix has crafted this series, and which levers it's pulling to electrify its experiment, is as easy as getting a killer glare from Wednesday's teenage protagonist, enjoying every second because it's astutely, knowingly and lovingly spliced together is just as straightforward — especially with Scream, Studio 666 and X star Ortega leading the show so commandingly and convincingly.
Before the Titanic collided with an iceberg, became one of modern history's most famous tragedies and inspired one of cinema's biggest box-office hits, a different cross-Atlantic liner sailed into chaos. So says Dark's Jantje Friese and Baran bo Odar, with the German pair's new — and wholly fictional — Netflix series 1899 taking place onboard the steamship Kerberos 13 years before the sinking that everyone knows about. This vessel is travelling from England to America with 1400 crew and passengers, filling everywhere from stately rooms to jam-packed halls. Among its number: Maura Franklin (Emily Beecham, The Pursuit of Love), a rare female doctor at the time; Kerberos' captain Eyk Larsen (Dark alum Andreas Pietschmann); and everyone from French newlyweds hardly in the throes of married bliss to a devoutly religious Danish family. Then the ship receives word of a missing craft. Owned by the same company, the Prometheus took the same route four months prior, and was thought to have disappeared without a trace until that distress signal beckons.
Friese and bo Odar love a mystery, and 1899 has a hefty one right from the outset. Friese and bo Odar also love making labyrinthine puzzle-box shows that keep dropping clues, twists, and philosophical ideas about the meaning and point of existence in aid of the bigger picture — aka an approach that made 2017–20 German-language effort Dark such a massive and deserving success. Here, they ensure that sparks ignite twice by diving even deeper into their favourite themes, tactics and flourishes, and delivering a boatload of thrills, suspense and intrigue. With Friese and bo Odar pulling the strings, Dark and now 1899 instantly grab attention with their riddles, nightmarishly brooding mood and — as one series put right there in its name — their willingness to get and stay dark. Throw in the pair's penchant for existential musings, trippy setups and premise-shattering revelations, and both shows are catnip for mystery lovers.
It tells of gold rushes, of brave and dusty new worlds, and of yellow frontiers stretching out beneath shimmering and inky blue skies; however, the true colour of the western is and always will be red. This isn't a genre for the faint-hearted, because it's a genre that spins stories about power and its brutal costs — power over the land and its Indigenous inhabitants; power-fuelled in-fighting among competing colonialists; and power exercised with zero regard for life, or typically for anyone who isn't white and male. It's a rich and resonant touch, then, to repeatedly dress Emily Blunt (Jungle Cruise) in crimson, pink and shades in-between in The English, 2022's best new TV western. She plays one instance of the show's namesakes, because the impact of the British spans far beyond just one person in this series — and the quest for revenge she's on in America's Old West is deeply tinted by bloodshed.
In her first ongoing television role since 2005, in a stunning and powerful series from its performances and story through to its spirit and cinematography, Blunt dons such eye-catching hues as Lady Cornelia Locke. With a mountain of baggage and cash in tow, she has just reached Kansas when The English begins, seeking vengeance against the man responsible for her son's death. But word of her aims precedes her to this remote outpost's racist hotelier (Ciarán Hinds, Belfast) and, with stagecoach driver (Toby Jones, The Wonder), he has own mission. That the aristocratic Englishwoman arrives to find her host torturing Pawnee cavalry scout Eli Whipp (Chaske Spencer, Blindspot) is telling: the plan is to blame her end on him. Before the first of this miniseries' episodes ends, however, Cornelia and Eli have rescued each other, notched up a body count and started a journey together that sees them each endeavouring to find peace in a hostile place in their own ways — and started their way through one helluva show.
DEAD TO ME
When Dead to Me's ten-episode first season came to an end back in 2019, it was with secrets being exposed, plus a growing list of both woes and deaths. In season two, which dropped another ten episodes in 2020, Jen Harding (Christina Applegate, Bad Moms 2) and Judy Hale (Linda Cardellini, Hawkeye), the chalk-and-cheese pair at the show's centre, had worked through the fallout. There's been plenty to deal with, including the hit and run that left Laguna Beach real-estate agent Jen widowed, Judy's tale about the loss of her fiancé Steve Wood (James Marsden, Sonic the Hedgehog 2) and the truth behind both — as well as the reality of having Steve's kinder, cornier twin brother Ben (also Marsden) around. This is a show about cycles and circles, so when its second outing finished, it was with another accident, this time with Jen and Judy as its victims. That's where season three's ten episodes pick up, with the two women in hospital weathering yet another aftermath to a significant event with yet another round of life-changing consequences.
Finding solace in complicated bonds, the strength to confront life's challenges, and the savviness to know when to appreciate the small wins and big delights: that's Dead to Me season three's arc. It's the series' in general, and was long before it was announced that it would finish after a third and final run. Of course, now that it's coming to an end — a fitting one, that keeps recognising the gifts, shocks, joys and sorrows that greet everyone — farewells and heightened feelings frequently go hand in hand. Cue unexpected diagnoses, meddling cops (returnees Diana Maria Riva, Kajillionaire, and Brandon Scott, Goliath), sleuthing federal agents (series newcomer Garrett Dillahunt, Where the Crawdads Sing), old flames (Natalie Morales, The Little Things) and frustrating neighbours (Suzy Nakamura, Avenue 5). And, cue creepy rooms filled with twin dolls, plus outlaw names: Bitch Cassidy and Judy Five Fingers (who chooses which is obvious) as well. Yes, Dead to Me goes all in on as many more plot swings as it can fit in as it rides off into the sunset. In the process, the show's swansong evokes as many emotions as it can, too.
THE GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY HOLIDAY SPECIAL
Two words: Kevin Bacon. That's the festive gift that The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special gives audiences, aka the gift that always keeps on giving. Viewers of this ragtag crew's big-screen adventures so far — including 2014's Guardians of the Galaxy and 2017's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 — know that Peter Quill aka Star-Lord (Chris Pratt, Jurassic World Dominion) loves the Bacon. Rightly so, too. Accordingly, in what's an obvious but also delightful move, the gang's first small-screen special celebrates the holiday season by trying to give the iconic Footloose, Friday the 13th, Apollo 13 and Wild Things star as a present. New to Christmas and its significance to humans, and knowing that Quill is struggling after a big loss, Mantis (Pom Klementieff, Westworld) and Drax (Dave Bautista, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery) think that their plan is perfectly acceptable, but chaos ensues, including when the two discover Christmas decorations.
The second of the Marvel Cinematic Universe's straight-to-streaming specials in 2022, and the second that's occasion-themed as well — following the Halloween-targeted Werewolf by Night — The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special is Marvel at its silliest and fluffiest. Getting gleefully goofy, and retro, has always been Quill and company's vibe, but this 44-minute affair takes that tone to another level. There's no missing how slight it all is, how much heavy lifting Bacon does just by being Bacon in an on-screen realm that worships Bacon, and the fact that it's a piece of marketing timed just when merchandise sales could double as gifts. Nonetheless, the gang's usual writer/director James Gunn (The Suicide Squad) still heartily embraces his brief. A big highlight, other than the vibe, the fun and poignancy that spring, and teenage Groot (Vin Diesel, Fast & Furious 9), is the range of alternative Christmas songs on the soundtrack — starting with The Pogues' 'Fairytale of New York' and including Julian Casablancas and The Smashing Pumpkins' merry contributions.
The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special streams via Disney+.
NEW AND RETURNING SHOWS TO CHECK OUT WEEK BY WEEK
WELCOME TO CHIPPENDALES
Scandals are to the true-crime genre like loose bills are to erotic dancers: virtually essential. On-screen stories about real life can exist without getting into ripped-from-the-headlines territory, of course, and performers who disrobe onstage can do their job without crumpled notes being thrust their way. Still, some synergies just work. In 2022, TV writer and producer Robert Siegel has happily mined sordid chapters of the past for two new streaming series, and how — first with the instantly watchable and engrossing Pam & Tommy, and now with the just-as-easy-to- Welcome to Chippendales. The second sees him survey the eponymous male stripping business, of course, showers of dollar notes and all. And for viewers who don't already know the details behind the world-famous touring dance troupe and its West Los Angeles bar origins, as started by Somen 'Steve' Banerjee back in the 70s and earning ample attention in the 80s, the full rundown has far more than scantily clad guys aplenty, lusty women, and bumping and grinding to an era-appropriate soundtrack.
Kumail Nanjiani (Eternals) plays Steve, who rustles up the cash to start his own backgammon club by working in a service station for years. His dream place: cool, suave and sophisticated, and somewhere that Hugh Hefner might want to hang out. When a rush of patrons doesn't eventuate, the male dancer idea springs after a night at a gay bar with club promoter Paul Snider (Dan Stevens, Guillermo del Toro's Cabinet of Curiosities) and his playboy model wife Dorothy Stratten (Nicola Peltz Beckham, Holidate). But as business partners change, choreographer and Emmy-winning producer Nick De Noia (Murray Bartlett, Physical) gives the troupe its crowd-pleasing moves, Steve kinds a kindred spirit in accountant Irene (Annaleigh Ashford, American Crime Story) and costume designer Denise (Juliette Lewis, Yellowjackets) comes on board, this twists into a tale of money, envy, squabbles over power and ultimately murder. And yes, both Nanjiani and Bartlett are riveting to watch — as are the dance routines De Noia conjures up.
Welcome to Chippendales streams via Disney+.
Starring in short-form ABC iView and YouTube series Content back in 2019, Charlotte Nicdao played a wannabe influencer who hoped that her online antics would bring her fame. Nicdao's career dates back almost two decades now, including past roles on The Slap, Please Like Me and Get Krack!n, but the Australian actor has certainly catapulted to stardom after her #Flipgirl days. In Mythic Quest, her character Poppy Li has also been seeking the spotlight. A gifted coder, as well as the technical force behind the hit video game that gives the series its name, she wants recognition and respect more than celebrity status, however. Three seasons in, she also wants her own hit title, rather than just always being stuck in creative director Ian Grimm's (Rob McElhenney, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia) shadow. So, they've branched out on their own, away from their big success, in what's supposed to be a true 50/50 partnership — if they can get it together.
On-screen, this season is about breaking out of one's comfort zones and embracing new challenges, even if Ian and Poppy are just on a different floor of the same building as Mythic Quest's regular crew — such as neurotic executive producer David Brittlesbee (David Hornsby, Good Girls), his brusk assistant Jo (Jessie Ennis, The Flight Attendant) and disgraced ex-finance head (Danny Pudi, Community). The series itself isn't quite in the same situation, though, because it's still finding new depths to explore by focusing on its characters' relationships with each other. Throwing a motley crew together, watching them bounce around, seeing how they change and grow — if the characters in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia were capable of significant change and growth, McElhenney's two shows would have plenty in common. They still do, including an incisive ability to satirise and reshape the genre they're each in, aka the workplace sitcom. As Mythic Quest keeps going, it also keeps getting sharper and funnier.
Mythic Quest streams via Apple TV+.
FLEISHMAN IS IN TROUBLE
The title doesn't lie: when Fleishman Is in Trouble begins, its namesake is indeed struggling. He's also perfectly cast. If you're going to get an actor to play an anxious, unravelling, recently divorced man in his forties who's trying to navigate the new status quo of sharing custody of his kids, having a high-powered ex, and being initiated into the world of dating apps and casual hookups, it's Jesse Eisenberg. If his Zombieland character lived happily ever after until he didn't, or his Vivarium character was trapped into a different type of domestic maze, this book-to-screen series would be the end result. Fleishman Is in Trouble has Eisenberg play Toby, a well-regarded hepatologist who is passionate about being able to help people through medicine, but has spent more than a decade being made to feel inferior by Upper East Siders because his job hasn't made him rich enough. His theatre talent agent wife — now former — Rachel (Claire Danes, The Essex Serpent) had the exact same attitude, too, until she dropped their kids off at his place in the middle of the night, said she was going to a yoga retreat and stopped answering his calls.
Written to sound like a profile — something that journalist, author and screenwriter Taffy Brodesser-Akner knows well, and has the awards to prove it — Fleishman Is in Trouble chronicles Toby's present woes while reflecting upon his past. It's a messy and relatable story, regardless of whether you've ever suddenly become a full-time single dad working a high-stakes job you're devoted to in a cashed-up world you resent. As narrated by the ever-shrewd Lizzy Caplan (Truth Be Told) as Toby's old college pal-turned-writer and now stay-at-home-mum Libby, Fleishman Is in Trouble dives into the minutiae that makes Toby's new existence such a swirling sea of uncertainty. At the same time, while being so specific about his situation and troubles, it also ensures that all that detail paints a universal portrait of discovering that more of your time is gone, your hopes faded and your future receded, than you'd realised. Everything from class inequality and constant social hustling to the roles women are forced to play around men earns the show's attention in the process, as layered through a show that's both meticulously cast and evocatively shot. Fleishman is indeed in trouble, but this miniseries isn't.
Fleishman Is in Trouble streams via Disney+.
THE SEX LIVES OF COLLEGE GIRLS
That Chalamet family is everywhere. In cinemas, Timothée is currently taking a bite out of another yearning-filled romance — his specialty — in Bones and All. On streaming, The Sex Lives of College Girls starring his sister Pauline (The King of Staten Island) has just returned. After ranking among 2021's new highlights, this university-set comedy gets its second season off to just as charming and energetic a start, and with just as healthy a lashing of the kind of comedy that series co-creator Mindy Kaling is known for. If you watched The Office, The Mindy Project, Never Have I Ever and the TV Four Weddings and a Funeral remake, you know the vibe — but focused on four 18-year-olds navigating their freshman year at a prestigious Vermont college. And, while each one of that key quartet fits a type to begin with, including studious, sporty, posh and funny (yes, they're one short of the full Spice Girls), unpacking those first impressions sits firmly at the heart of the series.
This time around, scholarship student Kimberly Finkle (Chalamet), aspiring comedy writer Bela Malhotra (Amrit Kaur, The D Cut), star soccer player Whitney Chase (Alyah Chanelle Scott, Reboot) and the wealthy Leighton Murray (theatre star Reneé Rapp) know what to expect on campus. When season two starts, however, they're persona non grata among the fraternities after season one's events. As well as humorously observing the antics of teenage girls discovering who they are, The Sex Lives of College Girls loves unfurling and interrogating obvious but loaded contrasts, like why its four smart protagonists feel drawn to the frat party scene to begin with. Also earning the show's focus in its latest batch of episodes, as examined with the same warmth, insight and hilarity as its first go-around: income inequality, busting preconceptions, coming out, relationship double standards and starting a comedy magazine.
The Sex Lives of College Girls streams via Neon.
Introducing Concrete Playground Trips
Book unique getaways and adventures dreamed up by our editors