Twelve Films and TV Shows You Need to Stream in April
Make a couch date with season three of Donald Glover's 'Atlanta', Netflix's gorgeous new queer coming-of-age series and plenty of on-screen spies.
April 29, 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 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. We've spent plenty of couch time watching our way through this month's latest batch — and, from the latest and greatest to old favourites, here are our picks for your streaming queue from April's haul of newbies.
BRAND NEW STUFF YOU CAN WATCH IN FULL RIGHT NOW
APOLLO 10 1/2: A SPACE AGE CHILDHOOD
In 1969, the year that Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood is set, writer/director Richard Linklater was nine years old and living in Houston, Texas. This lovely animated film happens to follow a boy around the same age in the same city — and trust the filmmaker behind Boyhood, Dazed and Confused, and the glorious trio that is Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight to make viewers who weren't there then (who weren't even alive and have never been to America, too) to feel as nostalgic about the place and era as he clearly does. As narrated by his Bernie and The School of Rock star Jack Black, the film's entire middle section dances through memories of the time and city with infectious enthusiasm, but its biggest dose of affection radiates towards the technological promise of the 60s. The Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions were rocketing into space and it patently felt like anything was possible, a sensation so marvellously captured in each second of Apollo 10 1/2.
Jumping back into the rotoscoped animation that served Linklater so well in Waking Life and A Scanner Darkly, this loving ode to years and moods gone by also sports a delightful premise. As his older guise (Black) explains, young Stan (debutant Milo Coy) was an ordinary Houston kid with a NASA-employed dad (Bill Wise, Waves), doting mum (Lee Eddy, Cruel Summer) and five older siblings when he was approached by two men (Shazam!'s Zachary Levi and Everybody Wants Some!!'s Glen Powell) to help them with a problem. In the lead up to Apollo 11, it seems that NASA accidentally built the lunar module a couple of sizes too small, so they need a kid — Stan — to help them by going to the moon to test things out before Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins make their famous trip in a bigger version. That fantastical idea feels ripped from Linklater's childhood dreams, and it well might be; it also makes for a warm and charming entry point into a movie that's as much about life's ups and downs, the bonds of family and the wide-eyed optimism of youth as it is about heading to space.
Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood is available to stream via Netflix.
One of several espionage-themed efforts worth a watch this month — see also: The Flight Attendant and All the Old Knives below — Slow Horses gives the genre a pivotal switch and entertaining shake up. It's still a tense thriller, kicking off with an airport incident (another theme for the month) and then following a kidnapping, but it's also about the kind of spies that don't usually populate the on-screen world of covert operatives. Stationed away from the main MI5 base at a rundown, clandestine office called Slough House, Jackson Lamb (Gary Oldman, The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard) and his team are the agency's rejects. They haven't been fired for a multitude of reasons, however, including boasting ties to influential past employees, being great at their jobs but also a drunk and having impressive hacking skills yet proving impossible to get along with. Given the nickname that gives the show its moniker, usually they do little more than push paper, too, until they get caught up in a high-profile case.
Oldman goes big and broad as Lamb, and he's also ceaselessly absorbing to watch, but Slow Horses isn't short on stars. In a six-episode first season adapted from Mick Herron's 2010 novel of the same name, Kristin Scott Thomas (Rebecca) plays MI5 Deputy Director-General Diana Taverner, Lamb's supremely competent head-office counterpart — although it's Jack Lowden (Fighting with My Family) and Olivia Cooke (Pixie) as young operatives River Cartwright and Sid Baker, and their efforts to chase down a lead they're not meant to, that anchors the series. Behind the scenes, executive producer and writer Will Smith (not that one) brings a sly and witty way with dialogue from his past work on The Thick of It and Veep, making Slow Horses both crackingly suspenseful and tartly amusing. The slinky theme tune by Mick Jagger also helps set the mood — and season two is already in development.
The first season of Slow Horses is available to stream via Apple TV+.
It only takes minutes for British newcomer Heartstopper to explain its title — showing rather than telling, as all great shows should. A year ten student at Truham Grammar School for Boys, Charlie Spring (first-timer Joe Locke) finds himself seated in his form class next to year 11 rugby player Nick Nelson (Kit Connor, Little Joe). Sparks fly on the former's part, swiftly and overwhelmingly, with the eight-part series' graphic-novel origins inspiring a flurry of fluttering animated hearts on-screen. But Charlie has a secret boyfriend, Ben (Sebastian Croft, Doom Patrol), who won't even acknowledge him in public. He also hardly thinks of himself as sporty, even after Nick asks him to join the school team. And, while a friendship quickly solidifies between the two, Charlie is initially unsure whether anything more can happen — and anxiety-riddled in general.
As well as writing Heartstopper's source material — which initially started as a webcomic — Alice Oseman pens every episode of this perceptive teenage-focused gem. From the outset, it bubbles with heartwarming charm, while its coming-of-age story and central love story alike prove wholly relatable, aptly awkward but also wonderfully sweet and sensitive. In short, it's a series that plunges so convincingly and inclusively into its characters' experiences that it feels like its heart is constantly beating with affection for Charlie, Nick, and their fellow high-schoolers Tao (fellow debutant William Gao), Elle (Yasmin Finney), Isaac (Tobie Donovan), Tara (Corinna Brown, Daphne) and Darcy (Kizzy Edgell). First crushes, young love, the swirling swell of emotions that comes with both and also figuring out who you are: all of this dances through Heartstopper's frames. Also, when Oscar-winner Olivia Colman (The Lost Daughter) pops up, she's glorious as always.
Killing It starts with a pitch. It's the first of many because that's just life these days, the show posits. Adding another sitcom to his resume after The Office, Ghosted and his beloved Brooklyn Nine-Nine guest spots, Craig Robinson keeps his first name as a Miami bank security guard with big aspirations — if he can rustle up some startup funds. His vision: owning a saw palmetto farm and living the American dream, because he believed his dad back when he was told as a kid that hard work and perseverance always pay off in the USA. For $20,000, he plans to buy land in the Everglades, then sell the fruit to pharmaceutical companies, who'll use it in prostate medicines for the lucrative health market. But when his branch manager won't give him a loan, and his life spirals soon afterwards, he begins to realise how America really works for everyone who isn't ruthless, wealthy or both.
Striving for a better life, styling yourself to meet society's expectations, getting brutally trampled down: that's Killing It, which hails from B99 co-creator Dan Goor and executive producer Luke Del Tredici. It's a perceptive and savvily funny series about aiming for a shiny future to escape the swampy present, but getting stuck slithering in a circle no matter what you try. And, it's also about literally killing snakes, a money-making scheme that Craig comes across via Uber driver Jillian (Claudia O'Doherty, Our Flag Means Death). She's a chatty Australian who swings hammers at pythons because it's a profitable business — and because there's a contest awarding $20,000 to whoever kills the most. If The Good Place was wholly set in Florida and followed down-on-their luck folks chasing glory by slaying pythons, and also made exceptional use of the well-paired Robinson and O'Doherty, this'd be the end result.
Taking cues from Jordan Peele's Get Out and Donald Glover's Atlanta (see below), as well as from old-school horror classics such as Rosemary's Baby and The Shining, college-set horror-thriller Master isn't lacking in well-known influences. It also isn't afraid to let the imprint left by its obvious predecessors visibly ripple through its frames. But being overly ambitious in stitching together a story that so clearly owes a debt backwards is one of this film's few missteps — that and being so brimming with ideas that not everything gets its due. Excavating the institutionalised racism that festers in the American university system is a big task, though, and first-time feature writer/director Mariama Diallo doesn't hold back. There's a slow-burn eeriness to this intense Ivy League-steeped affair, but also a go-for-broke mentality behind its dissection of deeply engrained prejudice and weaponised identity politics.
Regina Hall (Nine Perfect Strangers), Zoe Renee (Black Lightning) and Amber Gray (The Underground Railroad) play Gail Bishop, Jasmine Moore and Liv Beckman, respectively — three women of colour at a New England uni, Ancaster, with a long history. The school's past is almost exclusively tied to white administrators and students, of course, so much so that Gail is the first Black head of the college, or master. Her appointment comes as Jasmine arrives and gets allocated to a dorm once inhabited by the college's first-ever Black pupil, whose tale ended in tragedy, and as popular professor Liv tries to earn tenure. Diallo balances racial politics and the supernatural with skill; yes, the former, and the way that 'diversity' is paid lip-service to boost the university's prestige, is far more chilling than the otherworldly bumps and jumps, but both play a key part in making this a smart and haunting feature.
Master is available to stream via Prime Video.
ALL THE OLD KNIVES
Starring Chris Pine (Wonder Woman 1984) and Thandiwe Newton (Westworld) as two spies wading through the fallout of a terrorist attack that changed their lives years earlier, All the Old Knives brings its espionage intrigue to the screen with a sense of timelessness. It's easy to imagine how stars from any other decade — perhaps pairings involving Kurt Russell and Jamie Lee Curtis in the 80s, Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock in the 90s, or Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie in the 00s — could've stepped into the same film with little tinkering needed, and how it still would've turned out as slickly and engagingly. Pine and Newton play Henry Pelham and Celia Harrison, colleagues and lovers in 2012 when Turkish Alliance flight 127 is hijacked. In 2020, the case is reopened after new information comes to light, with Henry tasked with investigating — which means reuniting with Celia after she suddenly left her old existence behind.
As directed by Borg vs McEnroe's Janus Metz Pedersen, much of All the Old Knives unfurls through conversation, with the filmmaker once again diving into a highly charged adversarial and emotional relationship. With Henry trying to extract information and Celia endeavouring to protect everything she's earned since the incident, it also unravels like a game between two well-matched players, even if the twists and turns penned by Olen Steinhauer — the creator of TV's Berlin Station, and also the author of the novel that All the Old Knives is based on — are rarely astonishing. Pine and Newton make the most of the material, however, in dialogue-driven parts that rely heavily upon their smouldering chemistry. Also influential in the handsomely shot thriller: the supporting cast that spans Laurence Fishburne (MacGruber) and Jonathan Pryce (Tales From the Loop) as fellow CIA operatives.
All the Old Knives is available to stream via Prime Video.
NEW SHOWS TO CHECK OUT WEEK BY WEEK
THE GIRL FROM PLAINVILLE
Whatever she's in, and whether she's the star of the show or a supporting player, Chloë Sevigny's face always tells a tale of its own. That's been true in everything from Kids and Boys Don't Cry through to Big Love and We Are Who We Are, and it remains that way in The Girl From Plainville — the new eight-part true-crime miniseries led by The Great's Elle Fanning that's based on the death of Massachusetts teenager Conrad Roy III in 2014. Here, Fanning plays Conrad's long-distance girlfriend Michelle Carter. It's due to the her actions that the situation has been known as "the texting suicide case" for almost a decade — garnering not just local but international attention, and earning a HBO documentary, I Love You, Now Die: The Commonwealth Vs Michelle Carter, back in 2019. Fanning is fantastic in what proves an eerie character study, but the looks that Sevigny, as Conrad's mother Lynn, shoots her way scream rather than simply speak volumes.
Inspired by Jesse Barron's Esquire article of the same name, The Girl From Plainville tells a tough tale, starting with Conrad's (Colton Ryan, Dear Evan Hansen) suicide in his truck in a Kmart parking lot. It was his second attempt to take his own life, although he'd promised Lynn that he wouldn't do it again — and when his death was investigated, police discovered text messages sent to him by Michelle, including a plethora of words encouraging him to follow through. In 2015, she was indicted on charges of involuntary manslaughter for "wantonly and recklessly" assisting the suicide. In 2017, her trial took place. The outcome is now a matter a history, which the complicated, captivating and gripping The Girl From Plainville builds up to while also unpacking Michelle and Conrad's relationship.
Some shows commence with a dead girl wrapped in plastic. Others begin with a plane crash on a spooky island. With Outer Range, it all kicks off with a void. On the Abbott family ranch in Wyoming, in the western reach that gives the show its name, a chasm suddenly appears. A perfect circle swirling with otherworldly mist and resembling an oversized golf hole, it's just one of several troubles plaguing patriarch Royal (Josh Brolin, Dune), however. There is indeed a touch of Twin Peaks and Lost to Outer Range. A dash of Yellowstone, The Twilight Zone, The X-Files and whichever family-focused prime-time soap opera takes your fancy, too. As a result, while Royal is visibly disconcerted by the unexpected opening staring at him in an otherwise ordinary field in this intriguing, quickly entrancing and supremely well-acted eight-part series — a show that makes ideal use of Brolin especially — he has other worries.
His rich, ostentatious and increasingly madcap neighbour Wayne Tillerson (Will Patton, Halloween Kills) suddenly wants a parcel of the Abbotts' turf, claiming mapping inaccuracies. One of Tillerson's mouthy and entitled sons, Trevor (Matt Lauria, CSI: Vegas), ends up in a bar spat with Royal's sons Rhett (Lewis Pullman, Them That Follow) and Perry (Tom Pelphrey, Mank). And there's also the matter of Perry's missing wife, who disappeared nine months back, leaving both her husband and their young daughter Amy (Olive Abercrombie, The Haunting of Hill House) searching since. Plus, into this sea of faith-testing chaos amid such serene and dreamlike scenery, a stranger arrives as well: "hippie chick" backpacker Autumn Rivers (Imogen Poots, The Father). She just wants to camp for a few days on the Abbotts' stunning and sprawling land, she says, but she's a key part in a show that's a ranch-dwelling western, an offbeat enigma, an eerie sci-fi, a detective quest and a thriller all at once.
Outer Range is available to stream via Prime video, with new episodes dropping weekly. Read our full review.
RETURNING FAVOURITES NOW DROPPING EAGERLY AWAITED NEW SEASONS
Atlanta's third season arrives with two pieces of fantastic news, and one inevitable but not-so-welcome reality. Hitting screens four years after season two, it's one of two seasons that'll air this year — and it's as extraordinary as the Donald Glover-created and -starring (and often -written and -directed) show has ever been — but when season four drops later in 2022, that'll be the end of this deserved award-winner. The latter makes revelling in what Atlanta has for viewers now all the more special, although this series always earns that description anyway. Just as Jordan Peele has done on the big screen with Get Out and Us after building upon his excellent sketch comedy series Key & Peele, Glover lays bare what it's like to be Black in America today with brutally smart and honest precision, and also makes it blisteringly apparent that both horror and so-wild-and-terrifying-that-you-can-only-laugh comedy remains the default.
Actually, in the season-three episodes that focus on Glover's Earnest 'Earn' Marks, his cousin and rapper Alfred 'Paper Boi' Miles (Brian Tyree Henry, Godzilla vs Kong), their Nigerian American pal Darius (Lakeith Stanfield, Judas and the Black Messiah) and Earn's ex Vanessa (Zazie Beetz, The Harder They Fall), the lived experience of being a Black American anywhere is thrust into the spotlight. Paper Boi is on tour in Europe, which results in an on-the-road onslaught of antics that repeatedly put the quartet at the mercy of white bullshit — racist traditions, money-hungry rich folks looking to cash in on someone else's culture, scheming hangers-on, brands using Black artists for politically correct PR stunts and culinary gentrification all included. And then there's the standalone stories, all of which'd make excellent movies. Proving astute, incisive, sometimes-absurd, always-stellar and relentlessly surprising, here Atlanta examines the welfare system and in its inequalities, reparations for slavery, and the emotional and physical labour outsourced to Black workers.
The third season of Atlanta is available to stream via SBS On Demand, with new episodes dropping weekly.
BETTER CALL SAUL
Saul Goodman's name has always been ironic. As played so devastatingly well by the one and only Bob Odenkirk, the slick lawyer sells the "s'all good, man" vibe with well-oiled charm, but little is ever truly good — for his clients, as his Breaking Bad experiences with Walter White and Jesse Pinkman demonstrated, or for the ever-enterprising law-skirting attorney himself. That truth has always sat at the heart of Better Call Saul's magnificent tragedy, too, and has made the prequel series one of the best shows of this century. Viewers know the fate that awaits, and yet we desperately yearn for the opposite to magically happen. But when the first part of the series' final season begins — with seven episodes arriving weekly since mid-April, then the final six dropping from mid-July — we're pushed well past the point of hoping. Professionally, the earnest, striving, well-meaning Jimmy McGill is gone, ditching his real name and his quest for a legitimate career, and instead embracing his slide into shadiness.
Only three episodes in, Better Call Saul's new season has explored the fallout from this concerted life change — and from all that's brought Jimmy to this point. It hammers home what's to come as well, given it opens on Saul Goodman's Breaking Bad-era home being seized by the feds; however, the show still has much to cover in the lawyer's past. With his significant other Kim Wexler (the simply phenomenal Rhea Seehorn, Veep), he's seeking revenge on their former boss Howard Hamlin (Patrick Fabian, Black Monday). Meanwhile, his ties to the Salamanca family and their drug empire — to the psychotic Lalo (Tony Dalton, Hawkeye) and ambitious-but-trapped Nacho (Michael Mando, Spider-Man: Homecoming), and to ex-cop Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks, The Comey Rule) and Los Pollos Hermanos owner Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito, The Boys) — are drawing attention. Tense, intelligent, heartbreaking and just exceptional: that's the result so far, as it always has been with this astounding series.
The sixth season of Better Call Saul is available to stream via Stan, with new episodes dropping weekly.
Getting philosophical about existence can mean bobbing between two extremes. At one end, life means everything, so we need to make the absolute most of it. At the other, nothing at all matters. When genre-bending and mind-melting time-loop comedy-drama Russian Doll first hit Netflix in 2019, it served up a party full of mysteries — a repeating shindig overflowing with chaos and questions, to be precise — but it also delivered a few absolute truths, too. Fact one: it's possible to posit that life means everything and nothing at once, all by watching Natasha Lyonne relive the same day (and same 36th-birthday celebrations) over and over. Fact two: a show led by the Orange Is the New Black, Irresistible and The United States vs Billie Holiday star, and co-created by the actor with Parks and Recreation's Amy Poehler, plus Bachelorette and Sleeping with Other People filmmaker Leslye Headland, was always going be a must-see.
Here's a third fact as well: after cementing itself as one of the best TV shows of 2019, and one of the smartest, savviest and funniest in the process, Russian Doll's long-awaited second season is equally wonderful. In glorious news for sweet birthday babies, it's also smarter and weirder across its seven episodes, this time following Lyonne's self-destructive video-game designer Nadia and mild-mannered fellow NYC-dweller Alan Zaveri (Charlie Barnett, You) as they tackle another trippy problem. After being caught in a Groundhog Day-style situation last season, now death isn't their problem. Instead, time is. It was an issue before, given the duo couldn't move with it, only back through the same events — but here, via the New York subway's No 6 train, Nadia and Alan speed into the past to explore cause and effect, inherited struggles and intergenerational trauma.
THE FLIGHT ATTENDANT
When The Flight Attendant hit shelves in 2018, it must've been sold in the most of obvious of places: airport bookstores. Based on the TV show adapted from its Chris Bohjalian-penned pages, it's easy to see why that would've been the easiest move any publisher has ever made; with its country-hopping murder-mystery thrills, spills and kills, it's a quintessential airport novel. The focus: Cassie Bowden, the titular airline worker and New York City-based party fiend, who is rarely far from a bar no matter which part of the world she happens to find herself in on any given day. But then she wakes up in a Bangkok hotel room next to a dead body, upending her already chaotic life — as Kaley Cuoco conveyed to perfection in the first season, and thankfully flew far, far away from The Big Bang Theory in the process.
In The Flight Attendant's second season, Cassie's life has calmed down in some ways and gotten more tumultuous in others. Now based on Los Angeles, she's a year sober, all nested in a homely bungalow, and also in her longest relationship ever with the handsome Marco (Santiago Cabrera, Ema). She's working for the CIA as well, spying on people of interest during her jaunts abroad. And, when one moonlighting gig in Berlin ends in an explosion — and a mysterious woman seemingly passing herself off as Cassie's doppelgänger — the high-stakes bedlam sets in fast. Although it has been dropping its first four episodes in pairs, The Flight Attendant has always been compulsively bingeable, bringing page-turning cliffhangers to the screen with twisty and polished aplomb. Season two isn't as taut as its predecessor so far, but it still soars to entertaining heights thanks to its blend of humour, darkness and espionage intrigue, as well as Cuoco's career-best work and Girls' Zosia Mamet standing out in support.
The second season of The Flight Attendant is available to stream via Binge, with new episodes dropping weekly.
Need a few more streaming recommendations? Check out our picks from January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November and December 2021, and January, February and March 2022 — and our top new TV shows of 2021, best new television series from last year that you might've missed, top 2021 straight-to-streaming films and specials and must-stream 2022 shows so far as well.
Top image: Coco Olakunle/FX.
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