Ten Films and TV Shows You Need to Stream in July 2021
Get stuck into a weird and wonderful sketch comedy, Pixar’s new animated series and a horror trilogy.
July 31, 2021
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 Australia'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 July's haul of newbies. (Yes, we're assuming you've watched Black Widow already.)
BRAND NEW STUFF YOU CAN WATCH IN FULL RIGHT NOW
I THINK YOU SHOULD LEAVE WITH TIM ROBINSON
Coffin flops, sloppy steaks and babies that know you used to be a piece of shit: they're just some of the absurdist and hilarious gems that the second season of I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson serves up. Also making an appearance: a secret excuse to help men explain away pee stains on their pants, quite the loud and lurid shirt, and a daggy hat. Back in 2019, the sketch comedy's first season was Netflix's best new show of the year, and easily. History is repeating itself with the series' next batch of episodes, with all of the above inclusions resulting in side-splitting chuckles. To put it simply, absolutely no one excavates, explores and satirises social awkwardness with the gusto, commitment and left-of-centre viewpoint of Robinson. His skits dive headfirst into uncomfortable and excruciating situations, dwell there, and let them fester. He's a mastermind at ensuring that gags go for exactly as long as they need to — whether they're brief or prolonged — and the only criticism that can be found with I Think You Should Leave is that its short 15–17-minute episodes zoom by, so you'll probably watch all six new instalments in one 90-minute sitting. That's perhaps the best hour and a half you could spend staring at the TV right now. Robinson's flexible face is a constant source of surprises, and humour, and his outlook upon the world is both savage and brutally relatable. Binge his gags, then binge them again; that's how savvy this show is, and how addictive. If we can't have more Detroiters, the sublime sitcom that Robinson made after his time on Saturday Night Live, thank goodness we now have this.
The second season of I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson is available to stream via Netflix.
THE PURSUIT OF LOVE
Bolters and stickers. They're the two labels given to women in The Pursuit of Love, a lavish, effervescent and also impeccably shrewd new three-part miniseries adaptation of Nancy Milford's 1945 novel of the same name. Befitting its source material's timing, the storyline leads into the Second World War, all as chalk-and-cheese cousins Linda Radlett (Lily James, The Dig) and Fanny Logan (Emily Beecham, Little Joe) grow from teens into women — and the former, the impulsive and passionate daughter of a Lord (Dominic West, Stateless) who doesn't believe in educating girls and hates foreigners, chases romance at all costs. Fanny narrates the story, detailing Linda's ups and downs alongside her own. Her own mother (Emily Mortimer, Relic) is purely known as "the Bolter", having left Fanny with her sister (Annabel Mullion, Patrick Melrose) as she too sought love again and again. It's a label that Linda despises when it's applied to her, though. Whether having her eyes opened to the world by her bohemian neighbour (Andrew Scott, His Dark Materials), falling for the first arrogant boy (Freddie Fox, Fanny Lye Deliver'd) she spends any real time with, or later crossing paths with a motivated Communist (James Frecheville, The Dry) and a French duke (Assaad Bouab, Call My Agent!), she does keep leaping forward, however. In contrast, Fanny literally bumps into Oxford academic (Shazad Latif, Profile) and settles into domestic bliss, all while worrying about her cousin. Mortimer also makes her directorial debut with this swiftly engaging look at well-to-do lives, and unpacking of the way women are perceived — and it's the latter, the vivid staging and cinematography, and the vibrant performances that make this a must-see.
The Pursuit of Love is available to stream via Amazon Prime Video.
THIS WAY UP
Another month, another season of stellar comedy This Way Up. That's not how it aired in Britain, but it's basically how it has panned out for Australian viewers. And, that's a great thing — not only because this smartly written, astute, insightful and delightfully acerbic series about London-based Irish siblings Áine (Aisling Bea, Living With Yourself) and Shona (Sharon Horgan, Catastrophe) keeps viewers hooked episode after episode, but because binging your way through it immerses you wholeheartedly in their chaotic lives and headspace. As the first season established, English teacher Áine is riding the ups and downs of a mental health journey that saw her spend some time receiving in-patient treatment, and has left Shona, the high-powered overachiever of the pair, perennially worried. Even as COVID-19 approaches and begins to affect their lives, that dynamic is still in place. But Áine is now embarking upon a relationship with Richard (Tobias Menzies, The Crown), the father of a French boy (Dorian Grover, The White Princess) she tutors, all while trying to hide it from her bosses and said kid. Shona is the least-fussed bride-to-be there is as she prepares to get married to her long-term boyfriend and ex-colleague Vish (Aasif Mandvi, Evil), and also navigates more than a little awkwardness with her friend and new business partner Charlotte (Indira Varma, Official Secrets). The heart of this series is the push and pull between this sisters, and how they try to weather everything that life throws their way — and it remains firmly intact this time around.
The second season of This Way Up is available to stream via Stan.
Maya Hawke. A mall. Retro clothes and tunes aplenty. Combine the three, and that's how Fear Street Part 1: 1994 opens. Yes, that's familiar, because all of the above played a significant part in the third season of Stranger Things, too. But while Hawke is still popping up on Netflix here, she isn't in Hawkins, Indiana anymore. Instead, her character Heather is working at a mall in Shadyside, Ohio. The year is obviously 1994, Heather is doing the closing shift at a book store, and viewers first see her gushing over an eerie title, only for the customer that's buying it to proclaim: "it's trash; lowbrow horror". Fear Street Part 1: 1994 might begin with a wink to its RL Stine-penned source material, but that isn't the only nod it serves up. Directed and co-written by Leigh Janiak (Honeymoon), this slasher flick splashes its debts to everything from Halloween to Scream across every frame. That's part of the package, as is plenty of blood, gore, bumps and jumps. The end result is unmistakably formulaic, but aptly so; every novel in Stine's series also earned the same description, as did every Goosebumps book as well. From this scene-setting opening, there's a masked killer on the loose, more deaths and chaos follows, and a witch's curse pops up. Then, two more movies keep spinning the story. Fear Street Part 2: 1978 takes its cues from Friday the 13th by heading to a summer camp in its titular year, and Fear Street Part 3: 1666 ponders the origins of Shadyside's curse in the 1600s — and binging all three at once is immensely easy.
Cliffhangers aren't a new creation, but Dr Death deploys the tactic masterfully. When each episode of this true-crime series ends, you want more. That's a product of the show's structure as it jumps between different years in neurosurgeon Christopher Duntsch's life, and also a result of the stressful story itself. As played by Joshua Jackson (Little Fires Everywhere), Duntsch is full of charm when he's trying to encourage folks with spinal pain and neck injuries into his operating theatre — or when he's attempting to convince hospitals, particularly in Texas, to hire him. But again and again, those surgeries end horrendously. And if he's not endeavouring to sweet talk someone to get what he wants, and maintain the reputation and lifestyle he demands, his charisma melts into pure arrogance, including when he's dealing with his patients post-surgery and/or their loved ones. That's the narrative that Dr Death charts, all based on Duntsch's real-life tale, with the series following The Case Against Adnan Syed and the first and second seasons of Dirty John in jumping to the small screen from podcasts. If you've heard the Wondery release that shares Dr Death's name, you'll know that this tale is pure nightmare fuel, and the well-acted, well-shot and rightly angry drama plays that way on the screen. The longer he's allowed to operate, the bleaker Duntsch's story gets, all while fellow Texas surgeons Randall Kirby (Christian Slater, Dirty John) and Robert Henderson (Alec Baldwin, Pixie) do whatever they can to bring his misdeeds to light.
NEW AND RETURNING SHOWS TO CHECK OUT WEEK BY WEEK
THE WHITE LOTUS
With Enlightened, his excellent two-season Laura Dern-starring comedy-drama from 2011–13, writer/director Mike White (Brad's Status) followed an executive who broke down at work. When she stepped back into her life, she found herself wanting something completely different not just for herself, but for and from the world. It isn't linked, narrative-wise, to White's latest TV miniseries The White Lotus. Here, wealthy Americans holiday at a luxe Hawaiian resort, which is managed by Australian Armond (Murray Bartlett, Tales of the City) — folks like business star Nicole (Connie Britton, Bombshell), her husband Mark (Steve Zahn, Where'd You Go, Bernadette), and the teenage trio of Olivia (Sydney Sweeney, Euphoria), Paula (Brittany O'Grady, Little Voice) and Quinn (Fred Hechinger, Fear Street); newlyweds Rachel (Alexandra Daddario, Songbird) and Shane (Jake Lacy, Mrs America); and the recently bereaved Tanya (Jennifer Coolidge, Promising Young Woman). From the outset, when the opening scene shows Shane accompanying a body on the way home, viewers know this'll end with a death; however, as each episode unfurls, it's clear that these characters are reassessing what they want out of life as well. Here, a glam and glossy getaway becomes a hellish trap, magnifying glass and mirror, with everyone's issues and problems only augmented by their time at the eponymous location. In terms of sinking its claws into the affluent, eat the rich-style, this perceptive, alluring and excellently cast drama also pairs nicely with the White-penned Beatriz at Dinner, especially as it examines the differences between the resort's guests and staff.
The first three episodes of The White Lotus are available to stream via Binge, with new episodes dropping weekly.
A sports-centric sitcom that's like a big warm hug, Ted Lasso belongs in the camp of comedies that focus on nice and caring people doing nice and caring things. Parks and Recreation is the ultimate recent example of this subgenre, as well as fellow Michael Schur-created favourite Brooklyn Nine-Nine — shows that celebrate people supporting and being there for each other, and the bonds that spring between them, to not just an entertaining but to a soul-replenishing degree. As played by Jason Sudeikis (Booksmart), the series' namesake is all positivity, all the time. A small-time US college football coach, he scored an unlikely job as manager of British soccer team AFC Richmond in the show's first season, a job that came with struggles. The ravenous media wrote him off instantly, the club was hardly doing its best, owner Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham, Sex Education) had just taken over the organisation as part of her divorce settlement, and veteran champion Roy Kent (Brett Goldstein, Uncle) and current hotshot Jamie Tartt (Phil Dunster, Judy) refused to get along. Ted's upbeat attitude does wonders, though. In the second season, however, he finds new team psychologist Dr Sharon Fieldstone (Sarah Niles, I May Destroy You) an unsettling presence. You definitely don't need to love soccer or even sport to fall for this show's ongoing charms, to adore its heartwarming determination to value banding together and looking on the bright side, and to love its depiction of both male tenderness and supportive female friendships (which is where Maleficent: Mistress of Evil's Juno Temple comes in). In fact, this is the best sitcom currently in production.
The first two episodes of Ted Lasso's second season are available to stream via Apple TV+, with new episodes dropping weekly.
MONSTERS AT WORK
Some of the best films leave you pondering a simple question: what happened next? Sequels don't always answer that query, though, because often you're wondering what literally followed mere moments after the exact events you've just watched — which isn't necessarily where follow-ups head. Cue Monsters at Work, Pixar's latest addition to its Monsters, Inc franchise. That smart and sweet 2001 movie saw seasoned scarer Sulley (John Goodman, The Righteous Gemstones) and his offsider Mike (Billy Crystal, Untogether) upend their titular employer's setup, their city of Monstropolis and their whole monster-filled world, all by realising that the children they're tasked with frightening would be much happier laughing. 2013 prequel Monsters University then joined them back at that eponymous spot; however, if you've always wanted to know what happened after Sulley and Mike switched to eliciting giggles, that's where this new Disney+ TV series comes in. The pair everyone already knows and loves is adjusting to the new status quo, because the ten-part animated show picks up the very next day after the film that started it all. Also thrown askew: Tylor Tuskmon (Ben Feldman, Mad Men) a horned scarer who just graduated, is all set to spook kids, but finds himself working in maintenance instead. Even as it explores the fallout of Pixar's beloved 20-year-old delight, this series doesn't really need to exist, but it nonetheless delivers an enjoyable extended stint in this creature-filled world. Also entertaining: voice work from Mindy Kaling (Locked Down) and Henry Winkler (Barry) as Tylor's new colleagues.
The first five episodes of Monsters at Work are available to stream via Disney+, with new episodes dropping weekly.
MIRACLE WORKERS: THE OREGON TRAIL
In the first season of Miracle Workers, which hit screens back in 2019, the one and only, always-great Steve Buscemi (The King of Staten Island) played god. It was a stroke-of-genius piece of exceptional casting in an eccentric comedy about heavenly bureaucrats subjected to the supposed Almighty's whims while still trying to keep earth running — and attempting to save it from the deity's destructive tendencies — but the storyline wrapped up in one season. Thankfully, the series still returned in 2020; however, this time it went back to the Dark Ages. Buscemi's role: Eddie Shitshoveler. Yes, that name does indeed describe the character's occupation, and many hilarious hijinks ensued in that addition to this ongoing anthology. Again, the tale ran for a single season, but that wasn't the end of the show either. Now that Miracle Workers has returned once more, it has the subtitle The Oregon Trail. Buscemi is Benny the Teen, an outlaw in pioneer era-America who ends up leading townsfolk from a fading rural locale along the titular track and hopefully to a better life. All of his now three-time co-stars are back as well, with Daniel Radcliffe (Guns Akimbo) playing a priest, Geraldine Viswanathan (The Broken Hearts Gallery) as the unhappy wife of Jon Bass' (Baywatch) snobbish villager, and Karan Soni (Superintelligence) as another gunslinger. Like its predecessors, this season is delightfully absurd, filled with intriguing characters and benefits from committed comic performances, all while parodying its new setting.
The first three episodes of Miracle Workers: The Oregon Trail are available to stream via Stan, with new episodes dropping weekly.
CLASSICS TO WATCH AND REWATCH
THE SPY KIDS FRANCHISE
Here's the thing about the best family-friendly movies: if they're great and they truly live up to their genre, then they really are not just suitable for but entertaining to audiences of all ages. Most films that overtly endeavour to entice children's eyeballs do also attempt to keep adults engaged as well — but oh-so-many fail. Robert Rodriguez's Spy Kids franchise is one of the rare examples that works for everyone. It's goofy enough to play as an espionage comedy for viewers young and old, and even its flatter moments are better and have more personality than the bulk of its genre cohorts. Given the cast, which includes Antonio Banderas (Pain and Glory), Carla Gugino (Gunpowder Milkshake), Alan Cumming (Battle of the Sexes), Cheech Marin (The War with Grandpa), Danny Trejo (The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run), Steve Buscemi (Miracle Workers: The Oregon Trail; see above) and Salma Hayek (The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard), as well as Daryl Sabara (The Green Inferno) and Alexa Vega (Nashville) as the central kids, there was always going to be plenty to love here. Nostalgia might keep drawing you back to this series, but that's not the only thing that'll keep you interested. The frenetic and kinetic pace, the candy-coloured visuals and the all-round offbeat approach all filter through not only the first three flicks in the franchise, aka 2001's Spy Kids, 2002's Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams, and 2003's Spy Kids 3: Game Over, but also 2011's Spy Kids: All the Time in the World as well.
Need a few more streaming recommendations? Check out our picks from January, February, March, April, May and June this year — and our top straight-to-streaming movies and specials from 2021 so far, and our list of the best new TV shows released this year so far as well.
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