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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Ten Films and TV Shows You Need to Stream This Month

Cancel your plans to get stuck into the latest (and last) season of 'The Good Place', 'The Dark Crystal' prequel and one of David Lynch's best flicks.
By Sarah Ward
September 16, 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 (and last) season of 'The Good Place', 'The Dark Crystal' prequel and one of David Lynch's best flicks.
By Sarah Ward
September 16, 2019
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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 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 for September.

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NEW STUFF TO WATCH NOW

UNBELIEVABLE

Content warning: sexual assault

Based on real-life crimes, and set to become one of the most talked-about shows of the year, Unbelievable steps inside a series of rape cases between 2008–11. When Washington teenager Marie Adler (Booksmart's Kaitlyn Dever) reports her sexual assault to the police, authority figures begin to question her story almost from the outset — not just law enforcement, but two of her ex-foster mothers. She's forced to sign a statement saying that she made a false report; however, over in Colorado, detectives Karen Duvall (Merritt Wever) and Grace Rasmussen (Toni Collette) are on the trail of unnervingly similar attacks. More than just the latest true-crime tale to hit the screen, the series explores the mistrust experienced by female victims of violent crimes, serving up a powerful account of weathering, surviving and investigating multiple horrors. It also features exceptional performances from its three leads, with Dever in heartbreaking form as a girl shattered by her ordeal, Wever in empathetic and thoughtful mode, and Collette proving a force to be reckoned with.

All eight episodes of Unbelievable are available to stream on Netflix.

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YEAR OF THE RABBIT

Owner of perhaps the best voice ever to have boomed out of a television set, Matt Berry is back with another British sitcom. This time, he plays a Victorian-era detective who drinks too much, shouts plenty and is tasked with tracking his way through a series of crimes. If you've ever wanted to watch the inimitable comedian strut around as a sozzled cop, chase criminals and delve deep into London's murky underworld in the late 19th century, this is your chance. Unsurprisingly, it works a treat. As he's proved in Snuff Box, The IT Crowd, Garth Marenghi's Darkplace and Toast of London, there's no situation that Berry can't turn into a hilarious riot. Viewers have been blessed with two small-screen doses of the star in 2019, thanks to the US TV spinoff of What We Do in the Shadows — and Taika Waititi also pops up briefly here.

The first season of Year of the Rabbit is available to stream on ABC iView until Sunday, September 29.

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UNDONE

It's co-created by Raphael Bob-Waksberg, tells its tale through vivid animation, grapples with mental illness and saddles its protagonist with an existential crisis; however, Undone is worlds away from BoJack Horseman. That's not a criticism of the talking horse comedy, but a reflection of how firmly Bob-Waksberg and Kate Purdy's series charts it own path and makes its own imprint. Rendered using exceptionally fluid and expressive rotoscoped animation that often flows into surreal territory, and anchored by impressive voice work by Rosa Salazar (Alita: Battle Angel) and Bob Odenkirk, the series spends its time with the struggling Alma — who, after a near-fatal car accident, starts experiencing time and her memories differently. Inventive, smart, funny, tender, gorgeous to look at and always devastatingly astute, it's a worthy addition to the growing canon of great shows pondering the meaning of life of late, such as The Good Place, Russian Doll, Forever and Maniac.

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

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RAMY

While this new American comedy draws comparisons with Master of None, Atlanta and even Girls it doesn't suffer due to them, with its story, style, perceptiveness and humour firmly its own. Co-created by and starring stand-up comic Ramy Youssef, Ramy clearly draws upon Youssef's own experience as an American Muslim of Egyptian descent, following his on-screen alter-ego as he navigates New Jersey life, and grapples with faith, family, friends, romance and his increasingly divided country. There are both laughs and insights in the character's attempts to find his own way through a cavalcade of influential forces — the principles of Islam, the expectations of his community and his attempts to forge his own identity among them.

The first season of Ramy is available to stream on Stan.

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SHRILL

A cast member on Saturday Night Live since 2012, Aidy Bryant goes out on her own in Shrill — and you'll instantly wish she'd done so sooner. The comedian has always been an amusing delight in the long-running sketch series, but there's such a wealth of dramatic depth and nuance to her performance here that she's simply revelatory. Serving up a six-episode first season and already renewed for a second, the series adapts Lindy West's non-fiction book Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman, with Bryant playing a plus-size woman with work, romance and family woes. Yes, the premise sounds oh-so-familiar; however, this comedy can never be accused of being formulaic or routine. Told from a position of self-acceptance and body positivity, when Shrill's spirited protagonist refuses to let her myriad of problems stop her from being comfortable in her own skin, the show firmly finds its own gear.

The first season of Shrill is available to stream on SBS On Demand.

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THE DARK CRYSTAL: AGE OF RESISTANCE

Thirty-seven years after The Dark Crystal first hit cinema screens, the beloved Jim Henson movie now has a prequel in Netflix's The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance. And while technology has changed dramatically over that time, the series retains the same commitment to stunning puppetry work that helped make the original flick such an achievement. Every frame is a visual wonder to behold, creating a fantastical world with striking detail — and, thankfully, it comes with a story to match. Set on the planet Thra, the series follows a trio of Gelflings determined to challenge the age-old rule of their corrupt, deceitful and self-obsessed Skeksis overlords, who have been plundering the titular stone for their own gain. Themes not only of class and racial inequality, but of environmental devastation seep through this series, which also features a stacked cast of voice talent including Taron Egerton, Glass' Anya Taylor-Joy, Game of Thrones' Nathalie Emmanuel, Sigourney Weaver, Mark Hamill, Simon Pegg, Andy Samberg and Awkwafina.

The first season of The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance is available to stream on Netflix.

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ASAKO I & II

Wondering what might've been is a human tendency — and making movies around that idea seems to be as well. In Asako I & II, it's the eponymous young Japanese woman's (Erika Karata) time to think about choices not made and paths not taken, although she's doing so in a fashion that's rather different to Sliding Doors, Groundhog Day and other high-concept flicks that toy with multiple possible outcomes. When we first meet Asako in Osaka, she falls hard for handsome bad boy Baku (Masahiro Higashide); however their romance ends abruptly when he just disappears. Then, two years later in Tokyo, she runs into his doppelgänger Ryohei, who resembles her lost love in looks but not in personality. They carve out a happy life together, until fate intervenes once more. As he demonstrated with the lengthy Happy Hour, writer/director Ryusuke Hamaguchi isn't just a keen observer of relationships, but of the whirlwind of emotions that go with them, and the way that feelings and lives can change just like the breeze.

Asako I & II is available to stream on Stan.

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ONES TO WATCH OUT FOR LATER IN THE MONTH

THE GOOD PLACE SEASON FOUR

Holy forking shirtballs, The Good Place is finally back — for now. Because nothing in this life lasts forever, including beloved sitcoms about the afterlife stretching on into eternity, the existential comedy's fourth season brings a case of both good news and bad news. Yes, the adventures of the very dead Eleanor (Kristen Bell), Chidi (William Jackson Harper), Tahani (Jameela Jamil) and Jason (Manny Jacinto), plus reformed demon Michael (Ted Danson) and "not a person" Janet (D'Arcy Carden), will receive 13 more instalments; however they'll also mark the show's last. Saying goodbye to this clever, creative and side-splitting mix of humour and philosophy won't be easy, but if anyone can bring this warm and wise delight to an end in a wholly satisfying way, it's The Office, Parks & Recreation and Brooklyn Nine-Nine mastermind Michael Schur.

The Good Place's fourth season will be available to stream on Netflix from Friday, September 27, with new episodes dropping weekly.

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MEAN GIRLS

Mean Girls is never too far away from a streaming platform, because there's never a bad time to watch this savagely funny high school-set comedy. When it drops on Stan this month, it's doing so at the most appropriate time — on a Wednesday, naturally, so wear pink accordingly. By now, almost everyone knows the story, can quote the dialogue and has spent too much time thinking about which clique they'd fit into, which makes revisiting the 2004 flick like catching up with an old friend. Firmly driven by Tina Fey's savvy script, and boasting memorable performances not just from Lindsay Lohan and Rachel McAdams, but from Amy Poehler and Fey herself, it's an enduring teen classic for a reason. We'd call it fetch, but everyone who isn't called Gretchen Wieners already knows that that word just isn't going to happen.

Mean Girls will be available to stream on Stan from Wednesday, September 18.

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CULT CLASSICS TO REVISIT AND REDISCOVER

THE STRAIGHT STORY

In his more than 40 years as a director, David Lynch has carved out a filmography most wonderful and strange. There'll never be another movie like his nightmarish debut, Eraserhead, while Mulholland Drive is one of the greatest films this century. Plus, he completely outdid himself when he returned to Twin Peaks, served up a third season to the cult mystery TV series, blew minds and exceeded all expectations. And yet, while it couldn't be more different to the above works — or from the likes of Blue Velvet, Wild at Heart, Lost Highway and Inland Empire — The Straight Story might just be Lynch's oddest career choice. That said, it also stands alongside his best. Here, making a movie for Disney (yes, really), he draws from reality to spin the story of an elderly man (Richard Farnsworth) who journeys across the US on a lawnmower to see his ailing brother (the late, great Lynch regular Harry Dean Stanton).

The Straight Story is available to stream on SBS On Demand.

Published on September 16, 2019 by Sarah Ward

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