Twelve Films and TV Shows You Need to Stream in June
Make a couch date with a queer take on Jane Austen's 'Pride and Prejudice', Adam Sandler's latest ace performance and a returning murder-mystery delight.
June 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 June's haul of newbies.
BRAND NEW STUFF YOU CAN WATCH IN FULL RIGHT NOW
CHA CHA REAL SMOOTH
With Freshman Year, Cooper Raiff cemented himself as a talent to watch, both on- and off-screen. The writer, director, actor, editor and producer wore many hats on the likeable romance-meets-coming-of-age film, and he wore them all impressively and effortlessly. With Cha Cha Real Smooth, he hands over splicing duties, but he's just as ace in every other guise yet again. Winner of the Audience Award at this year's Sundance Film Festival, in the prestigious event's US Dramatic competition, this comedy also focuses on the fact that no one really knows how to handle life — this time centring its tale around the just-out-of-college Andrew (Raiff, Madeline & Cooper). The character returns home after graduating with the sole aim of making enough cash to follow his girlfriend to Spain, but falls into a gig hosting Bar Mitzvahs for his younger brother David's (Evan Assante, Dinosaur World) friends.
Andrew falls in another way, too: in love with Domino (an exceptional Dakota Johnson, playing a mum again after The Lost Daughter), mother to Evan's classmate Lola (debutant Vanessa Burghardt). Lola has autism, is bullied by the other kids and usually finds herself ignored at parties, somewhat happily so; however, Andrew makes her feel comfortable and accepted, which doesn't go unnoticed. His growing fondness for Domino is complicated, though. So is the object of his affection herself — and, while more than half a century ago The Graduate splashed in a similar pool, Johnson brings her own shades and depths to a woman who is yearning for stability yet rallying against it. Everything also remains complex about Cha Cha Real Smooth's portrait of being a fresh college graduate with everything ahead of you and zero ideas of how what to truly do — and proves always-earnest as well, a description that applies to Raiff's work as Andrew and this low-key, insightful and charming movie alike.
Cha Cha Real Smooth is available to stream via Apple TV+.
Pride and Prejudice, but set on New York's Fire Island. That's it, that's the queer rom-com that shares its setting's name. Fire Island, the movie, even comes with its own Mr Darcy — here called Will and played by How to Get Away with Murder's Conrad Ricamora, who should enjoy the same career bump that Colin Firth did in the 90s when he stepped into the part in a far-more-faithful TV adaptation. Updating Jane Austen isn't new, of course. Bridget Jones' Diary, also famously starring Firth, did the same with Pride and Prejudice. Stone-cold classic Clueless, which gets a shoutout here in a perfectly co-opted line of dialogue, did it with Emma, too. One of Fire Island's best traits is how new yet comfortable it feels, though, like thumbing through a favourite but seeing it afresh — with hot tubs full of praise deserved by director Andrew Ahn (Spa Night, Driveways) and screenwriter/star Joel Kim Booster (Search Party, Sunnyside).
Booster also boasts a writing credit on The Other Two, one of the best new TV comedies of the past few years — and that bitingly smart, laugh-a-minute tone shines through in Fire Island, too. He takes Austen's tale about love and class and steeps it within the queer community, its subdivisions and subcultures, and issues of race and socio-economic status that ripple through, as they do in America and the world more broadly. That's what Booster's self-confident Noah finds himself navigating on a week-long annual getaway with his best friends, and after he decides to put his pal Howie's (Bowen Yang, Saturday Night Live) romantic prospects above his own. If you know the OG story, you know what happens next, including Noah's path towards the initially stern, quiet and standoffish Will. The end product here is witty, funny, heartwarming and sincere, as well as supremely well cast, energetic from start to finish, and bursting with queer pride.
Fire Island is available to stream via Disney+.
Mike Schur sure does have a type. If you're a fan of Parks and Recreation, The Good Place, Brooklyn Nine-Nine and The Office, though, that won't be new news. And if you watched the television producer and writer's great first season of Rutherford Falls as well, you will have spotted all his usual touches at work — which doesn't change in season two. By no means is this a criticism. His various different series feel like siblings, not clones; they share similar traits, but there's so much about their individual personalities that remains distinctive. Here, the fact that Rutherford Falls is a show deeply steeped in a Native American community gives it a wealth of avenues to go down, as well as plenty that's purely the sitcom's alone. Also crucial: the influence of co-creator and showrunner Sierra Teller Ornelas (Superstore), and the strong commitment to exploring the treatment of First Nations peoples in America today.
Rutherford Falls' latest batch of episodes follows one of its characters running for local office, for instance, which is a scenario that Parks devotees will instantly recognise. And yet, what that means in a small town that's struggling to address the colonial impact upon its original inhabitants, the Minishonka Nation, is always its real focus. What everything means here is filtered through that lens — including teenage aspiring mayor Bobbie Yang (Jesse Leigh, Heathers), enterprising CEO of the Minishonka Nation casino Terry Thomas (Michael Greyeyes, Firestarter), cultural centre head Reagan Wells (Jana Schmieding, Reservation Dogs) and her best friend Nathan Rutherford (Ed Helms, Ron's Gone Wrong). It's noticeable that Helms is no longer the show's anchor, too. Indeed, the already smart, funny and warm series spends its excellent second season showing how Nathan wants to de-centre himself from hogging the town's limelight, and puts that idea in motion itself.
Rutherford Falls is available to stream via Stan.
As its name so clearly explains, Cow devotes its frames to one farmyard animal — and it's one of the most haunting films of the past few years. It's the third feature to take its title from a four-legged critter in the past 12 months, after the vastly dissimilar Pig and Lamb. It's also the second observational documentary of late to peer at the daily existence of creatures that form part of humanity's food chain, following the also-exceptional Gunda. And, it also joins 2013's The Moo Man in honing its focus specifically upon dairy farming, and in Britain at that. But the key to Cow is Andrea Arnold, the phenomenal filmmaker behind Fish Tank, Wuthering Heights, American Honey and the second season of Big Little Lies. She sees Luma, her bovine protagonist, with as much affection and understanding as she's ever seen any of the women who've led her projects. While watching, viewers do as well.
Starting with the birth of Luma's latest calf — and, in the beginning, taking detours to see how it's faring as well — Cow unfurls with the rhythm of its agricultural setting. It's the rhythm of Luma's life, too, as she's milked and fed, moos for the offspring that's taken away too quickly, and is soon impregnated again. There's no doubt where the documentary is headed, either. There's simply no shying away from the fact that Luma and cattle like her only exist for milk or meat. Without ever offering any narration or on-screen explanation, Arnold stares at these facts directly, while also peering deeply into its bovine subject's eyes as often as possible. The result is hypnotic, inescapably affecting, and also features the best use of Garbage's 'Milk' ever in a movie.
Cow is available to stream via DocPlay.
When well-deserved Oscar predictions came Adam Sandler's way for the exceptional Uncut Gems, the actor and comedian said that he'd make the worst movie ever if he didn't win one of the Academy's shiny trophies. He didn't, and then Hubie Halloween arrived — and now Hustle. No, neither is the most terrible film on Sandler's resume. In Hustle's case, it happens to be home to one of his best performances. He has plenty to his name, including in Punch-Drunk Love, The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) and, of course, the astounding Uncut Gems, so it's in good company. There's also an element of art reflecting life in this new sports drama, even though basketball isn't what Sandler is famous for IRL. He knows more than a thing or two about only being seen one way, however, when his talents span much further. Whenever he branches away from the style of comedies that made his name, starting with Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore, he knows plenty about being the underdog, too.
On-screen, Stanley Sugerman is Hustle's underdog. A scout for the Philadelphia 76ers, he jets around the world scoping out new talent in the hope of finding a future match-winner, but it's not the job he wants. He loves basketball, he used to play and he's long dreamed about being a coach — but when good news arrives, then tragedy strikes, then the calculating Vince Merrick (Ben Foster, Galveston) takes over as the team's owner, it seems he'll be on the road forever. Bo Cruz (real-life NBA player Juancho Hernangómez) might be his ticket to better things, though, if he can get the Spanish construction worker signed or drafted. There's nothing that's surprising about director Jeremiah Zagar's (We the Animals) choices, or screenwriters Taylor Materne (video game NBA 2K20) and Will Fetters' (A Star Is Born) either, but Hustle remains a strong and lived-in character-driven drama as much as a tense against-the-odds sports film — and it's as entertaining and engaging to watch as the playoffs.
Hustle is available to stream via Netflix.
When does a jail look like anything but a jail? When it's Spiderhead. Located on a remote island, the high-tech penitentiary would probably make a lavish holiday home if it wasn't for all the locks, observation rooms, and inmates walking round with creepy drug-dispensing packs attached to their backs — all to help test drugs under the watch of warden/pharmaceutical whiz Steve Abnesti (Chris Hemsworth, Extraction) and his assistant Verlaine (Mark Paguio, Bump). Incarcerated for drink-driving his way to a tragedy, Jeff (Miles Teller, Top Gun: Maverick) is one of the facility's prisoners. He's also a key test subject of interest, and put through the wringer when it comes to his meds. That fascination goes two ways when he starts rebelling against his doses, as well as the exploitative scenarios in which they're given, and asking questions about both.
Directed by Teller's Top Gun: Maverick helmer Joseph Kosinski, Spiderhead takes its tale from George Saunders-penned short story Escape From Spiderhead. It isn't a particularly easy adaptation. But as played out against a weaponised soundtrack of glorious yacht rock — and with Hemsworth as gleefully unpredictable as he's ever been on-screen — it's always an intriguing and involving movie. Not every aspect works, but when something does, the film proves as gleaming as the Queensland-shot sunshine that blazes outside the titular prison. Kosinski also isn't afraid to take wild swings, just like his star lead does away from his Marvel cape, and sports an unwavering determination to explore moral rot, ethical boundaries and the real meaning of free will. None of the insights that the movie excavates are new, but the result is still a slick and absorbing sci-fi thriller.
Spiderhead is available to stream via Netflix.
NEW AND RETURNING SHOWS TO CHECK OUT WEEK BY WEEK
In savage and savvy caped-crusader satire The Boys, it has been evident since episode one that Homelander (Antony Starr, Banshee) is a fraud. He's America's favourite superhero, as well as the leader of top-tier supe crew The Seven — and he uses his public persona as a shield for his twisted ego, soul-devouring insecurities, arrogance and selfishness. As instalment after instalment of the show passes, his sinister true nature keeps burning. In The Boys' third season, Homelander may as well be America's most recent ex-President, complete with unhinged rants and an at-any-cost desperation to retain control. The comics that this series is based on were actually published from 2006–12, but the show they've spawned is firmly steeped in the polarised US of the past six or so years. Subtlety hardly comes with the territory here, and yet it doesn't make The Boys any less potent.
The in-show alternative to Homelander's psychopathic, egotistical, world-threatening existence: the ragtag gang of vigilantes that shares the series' name. Led by cynical-as-fuck Brit Billy Butcher (Karl Urban, Thor: Ragnarok), they remain intent on bringing down The Seven and Vought, the all-encompassing company behind it, as always. About year has passed since season two, however, and Hughie (Jack Quaid, Scream) now works with congresswoman Victoria Neuman (Claudia Doumit, Where'd You Go, Bernadette) at the Federal Bureau of Superhuman Affairs, countering misbehaving superheroes the legal way. That involves overseeing Butcher and fellow pals Frenchie (Tomer Capone, One on One) and Kimiko (Karen Fukuhara, Suicide Squad), but this wouldn't be The Boys if their battle was that straightforward. It also wouldn't be The Boys if everything that followed wasn't wild and OTT to a jaw-dropping degree, oh-so-astute about popular culture and consumerism today, brimming in blood and Billy Joel songs, and always biting deeper — and sharper.
It's one of 2022's most magnificent new shows, and a cinephile's dream of a series, but Irma Vep requires some unpacking. The term 'layered' has rarely ever applied to a TV program quite as it does here. French filmmaker Olivier Assayas (Clouds of Sils Maria, Personal Shopper) retraces his own footsteps, turning his cult-favourite 1996 movie of the same name into an Alicia Vikander-starring HBO miniseries. And, in this series itself, a director is also remaking one of his own past flicks as a television project. In all versions of Irma Vep, the movies and shows being made are also remakes of 1915–16 French crime effort Les Vampires. It was a ten-episode, seven-hour cinema serial, and it's supremely real. Indeed, by first helming a feature about remaking Les Vampires, and now a series about remaking a movie that remakes Les Vampires (which, IRL, is also a remake of a movie that remakes Les Vampires), Assayas keeps remaking Les Vampires in his own way.
It all sounds exactly as complicated as it is — and Assayas loves it. Viewers should, too. The nested dolls that are Irma Vep's meta setup just keep stacking, actually. The 1996 Irma Vep starred Maggie Cheung, who'd later become Assayas' wife, then ex-wife — and the 2022 Irma Vep haunts its on-screen filmmaker René Vidal (Vincent Macaigne, Non-Fiction) with visions of his ex-wife Jade Lee (Vivian Wu, Dead Pigs), who, yes, led his movie. If you're a fan of word puzzles, you might've also noticed that Irma Vep is an anagram of vampire; that said, Les Vampires isn't actually about bloodsuckers, and nor is any iteration of Irma Vep. To add to the list, while Cheung played a version of herself, Vikander (Blue Bayou, The Green Knight) plays fictional American star Mira — a name that's an anagram of Irma. You can also take that moniker literally, because mirroring is patently a pivotal aspect of the brilliant Irma Vep in every guise.
Aptly given its title, new Apple TV+ sitcom Loot doesn't look cheap — or sound it. It's partly filmed in one of America's biggest private homes, an enormous mansion with 21 bedrooms, five pools, a bowling alley and a cinema. It's filled with well-known needle drops that come quickly and often, with one episode featuring three Daft Punk tracks alone. It couldn't scream louder or drip harder with excess; the series is about a mega-rich tech whiz's wife who gets $87 billion in their public and messy breakup, after all. And, it is inescapably made by a company that's a big technology behemoth itself, and has been splashing stacks of cash to build its streaming roster (see: The Morning Show, Ted Lasso, Severance, Physical, Prehistoric Planet, Foundation, The Shrink Next Door, Shining Girls, Slow Horses, Lisey's Story and more).
Loot is also clearly a satire, however, and a canny, warm and funny one at that. The setup: amid being gifted a mega yacht for her birthday, then jumping to a party in that aforementioned sprawling home, Molly Novak (Maya Rudolph, Big Mouth) discovers that her husband John (Adam Scott, Severance) is cheating on her. Post-divorce, after that huge settlement and a stint of partying around the globe with her assistant Nicholas (Joel Kim Booster, Fire Island), she gets a call from Sofia Salinas (Michaela Jaé Rodriguez, Pose), the head of the foundation she's forgotten bears her name (and even exists). With Molly's drunken decadence all over the news, the charity is finding it difficult to do its work. So, the organisation's namesake decides to ditch the revelry — and her married moniker, becoming Molly Wells — and put all that dough to better use. She also commits to playing an active role in how her funds can truly help people.
ONLY MURDERS IN THE BUILDING
Born out of the world's recent true-crime and podcasting obsessions — and the intersection of the two in the likes of Serial — Only Murders in the Building boasts its own version of Sarah Koenig. In this marvellous murder-mystery comedy, she's called Cinda Canning (Tina Fey, Girls5eva). As viewers of the show's impressive and entertaining first season know, though, she's not the main focus. Instead, Only Murders in the Building hones in on three New Yorkers residing in the Arconia apartment complex — where, as the program's name makes plain, there's a murder. There's several, but it only takes one to initially bring actor Charles-Haden Savage (Steve Martin, It's Complicated), theatre producer Oliver Putnam (Martin Short, Schmigadoon!) and the much-younger Mabel Mora (Selena Gomez, The Dead Don't Die) together. The trio then turn amateur detectives, and turn that sleuthing into their own podcast, which also shares the show's title.
In season two, the show returns to the same scene. Yes, there's another killing. No time has passed for Only Murders in the Building's characters — and, while plenty has changed since the series' debut episode last year, plenty remains the same. Viewers now know Charles, Oliver and Mabel better, and they all know each other better, but that only makes things more complicated. Indeed, there's a lived-in vibe to the program and its main figures this time around, rather than every episode feeling like a new discovery. Among the many things that Only Murders in the Building does exceptionally well, finding multiple ways to parallel on- and off-screen experiences ranks right up there. That applies to true-crime and podcast fixations, naturally, and also to getting to know someone, learning their ins and outs, and finding your comfort zone even when life's curveballs keep coming.
Lycra-clad ladies of the 80s and 90s making their mark in a ruthless, consumer-driven and male-dominated world, all by getting active: as far as on-screen niches go, that's particularly niche. It's also growing. Back in 80s itself, Flashdance did it. Starring a fantastic Kirsten Dunst, the sadly cancelled-too-soon 2019 series On Becoming a God in Central Florida did as well. For three seasons from 2017–19, GLOW similarly stepped into the ring. And since 2021, Apple TV+'s Physical has, too. What a feeling indeed. Now back for season two, the latter sports a staggering lead performance, a superb supporting cast and a complex premise unpacked with precision, as well as a pitch-perfect vibe and a killer 80s soundtrack.
Season one of Physical didn't quite see Sheila Rubin (Rose Byrne, Irresistible) get everything she'd ever fantasised about. Rather, it followed the San Diego housewife as she pursued something she didn't even know she wanted until her endorphins kicked in at an aerobics class. Now, she's the star of her own fitness tape — and spruiking it, be it in supermarkets or by hosting public aerobics classes, has become her life. But while she's in control of every exercise move she makes, earning the same power in her relationships, and in business, isn't as straightforward. She's still stuck in a rut with her husband Danny (Rory Scovel, I Feel Pretty), to put it mildly. She's still caught in a torrid affair with grim Mormon business developer John Breem (Paul Sparks, Castle Rock), too. And while she starts leaning on her wealthy and supportive best friend Greta (Dierdre Friel, Second Act) more, she's also unable to shake the engrained notion that needing anyone's help is a sign of weakness. And then there's the help she hopes to get from fellow aerobics instructor Vinnie Green (The White Lotus scene-stealer Murray Bartlett).
First, the inescapable Marvel-ness of it all: Ms Marvel focuses on a Marvel superfan, heads to a Marvel fan convention, and revels in worshipping at the Marvel Cinematic Universe's altar enthusiastically. Yes, we've reached the point in the biggest current franchise there is where the MCU is overtly and openly celebrating itself within its own on-screen stories — and celebrating the people who celebrate the MCU. Here, Marvel also shows its characters frothing over the very saga they're appearing in, homemade costumes whipped up for cosplay contests and all. That sounds like something out of the supremely non-Marvel superhero satire The Boys, but it's now an IRL status quo. And yet, with Ms Marvel, all this Marvel self-fandom thankfully doesn't just feel like a massive corporation patting itself on the back in an expensive splash of self-congratulations.
One of the reasons that Ms Marvel works: it's a series about a Marvel devotee because it's a coming-of-age series. Today's teens have grown up with the MCU, so a show about a 16-year-old finding her place in the world — with and without powers — can easily acknowledge that fact. The comic-book company isn't being meta or reflective. Rather, as non-Marvel fellow Disney+ release Turning Red was, Ms Marvel is about a teenage girl working out who she is and what she wants to be, and also how that process is shaped by what she loves. Pakistani American Kamala Khan (wonderful debutant Iman Vellani) happens to be obsessed with Marvel, and with Captain Marvel (Brie Larson, Just Mercy), all while she's navigating high school, coming to terms with her new super skills, weathering her parents' (Bullets' Mohan Kapur and The Affair's Zenobia Shroff) strict expectations, diving into her family's past and remaining true to her culture.
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, March, April and May 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.
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