Twelve Films and TV Shows You Need to Stream in September
Make a couch date with an intriguing drama about Marilyn Monroe, a 'Hocus Pocus' sequel, Steve Carell's new thriller and an eerie horror movie about a viral internet challenge.
September 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 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 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 September's haul of newbies.
BRAND NEW STUFF YOU CAN WATCH IN FULL
Teen-focused dramas always reflect the generation they're made for, and returning Australian favourite Heartbreak High is no different. Today's high school-set shows often come with more than a few nods backwards as well, though. Just like Beverly Hills, 90210, Saved by the Bell and Gossip Girl before it — like Degrassi's multiple go-arounds across more than four decades now, including a new take that's set to land in 2023 — Heartbreak High 2.0 knows it has a history and doesn't dream of pretending otherwise. 90s worship is in fashion anyway, so all those Doc Martens, nose rings, baggy jeans, slip dresses and oversized band t-shirts not only could've adorned the initial show's cast. As this revival returns to what worked so well the first time around, takes a few cues from Euphoria, Sex Education and Never Have I Ever as well, and finds its own intensity, that blast-from-the-past aesthetic proves a natural fit.
Sporting such decade-crossing attire is a fresh-faced — and fresh-to-the-franchise — cohort of Hartley High students. The years and teens have changed, but the location, like plenty of the outfits, remains the same. When the eight-episode new season begins, Amerie (Ayesha Madon, The Moth Effect) and Harper (Asher Yasbincek, How to Please a Woman) are life-long best friends, but their sudden rift after a drunken night at a music festival changes everything. Amerie doesn't know why Harper has suddenly shaved her head, let alone cut all ties with her. She's just as shocked when the mural they've graffitied in an unused school stairwell, chronicling who's dated, had a crush on and slept with who among the year 11s, is scandalously outed. And their classmates, including the non-binary Darren (screen first-timer James Majoos), their bestie Quinni (Chloe Hayden, Jeremy the Dud), heartthrob Dusty (Josh Heuston, Thor: Love and Thunder), his smug pal Spider (Bryn Chapman Parish, Mr Inbetween), mullet-wearing food delivery driver Ca$h (Will McDonald, Home and Away), and Bundjalung basketballer Malakai (Thomas, Troppo), all get drawn into the resulting (and immediately easy-to-binge) chaos.
WE'RE ALL GOING TO THE WORLD'S FAIR
"Hey guys, Casey here. Welcome to my channel. Today I'm going to be taking the World's Fair Challenge." So says We're All Going to the World's Fair's protagonist (feature newcomer Anna Cobb) twice to start this absorbing horror film, to camera, in what makes a spectacular opening sequence. Next, an eerie wave of multicoloured light flashes across her face. Watching her response brings the also-excellent She Dies Tomorrow to mind, but Casey has her own viral phenomenon to deal with. She's doing what she says she will, aka viewing a strobing video, uttering a pivotal phrase and then smearing blood across her laptop screen — and she promises to document anything that changes afterwards, because others have made those kinds of reports. Written, directed and edited by fellow feature debutant Jane Schoenbrun, the instantly eerie and intriguing We're All Going to the World's Fair is that record.
Schoenbrun's film is more than that, however. It also charts the connections that spring and splinter around Casey just by joining the online trend, where her videos spark others in return — and the spirals she goes down as she watches, which then sparks a response in her own way, too. A portrait of isolation and alienation as well, while chronicling the after effects of playing a virtual horror game, We're All Going to the World's Fair is also a picture of an always-recorded world. Take your lockdown mindset, your social-media scrolling, all that Zooming that defined the beginning of the pandemic and a gamer vibe, roll them all together, and that's still not quite this arresting movie — which keeps shifting and evolving just like Cobb's enigmatic and evocative performance. The entire flick earns that description and, not that it needs an established name's tick of approval, the fact that The Green Knight and A Ghost Story director David Lowery is an executive producer speaks volumes.
We're All Going to the World's Fair streams via Shudder.
In the dramedy that bears his name, Ramy Youssef (Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot) is a quintuple threat. He created Ramy, plays Ramy, executive produces, and also frequently writes and directs — and, in a show about a Queens-born first-generation American Muslim raised in New Jersey to Egyptian parents, as Youssef himself is, there's no doubting that the stories he's telling are personal. There's a difference between bringing your own exact existence to the screen and conveying the truth behind your experiences, however, with Ramy falling into the second category as it charts its eponymous figure's struggles as his faith conflicts with his lifestyle. Since its first season in 2019, the series has always been so deeply steeped in the lived reality of feeling torn between two cultures, and so specific in its details, too. And yet, it's also so universal and relatable in its emotions and insights. None of the above changes in season three, welcomely so, in what's one of Ramy's finest moments yet.
In this ten-episode third run, the lives of Ramy and his loved ones are rarely blessed with fine moments — and Ramy Hassan, Youssef's on-screen alter-ego, keeps threatening his own heart, mind and soul with his choices. Season two ended with a short-lived marriage and the fallout still lingers, but Ramy has thrown himself into making his Uncle Naseem's (Laith Nakli, Ms Marvel) diamond business a success as a distraction. He has money, his own place and, soon, his own jewellery outfit, although that doesn't herald happiness. For his sister Dena (May Calamawy, Moon Knight), nor has striving hard to take the bar exam, especially when her parents Maysa (Hiam Abbass, Succession) and Farouk (Amr Waked, Wonder Woman 1984) are open about how differently they see her and her future to Ramy. As the elder Hassans also grapple with Farouk being out of work, plus decades of feeling like they're treading water, Ramy remains a stunningly perceptive and engaging exploration of the battle to remain true to oneself — and one's hopes, dreams and religion — while also proving a rich, poignant and devastatingly well-acted comedy. May more come.
Ramy streams via Stan from Friday, September 30.
Sequels aren't the only way to get nostalgic, or to thrust a beloved old-school film — or several — into the now. A high school-set comedy about exactly what it's moniker describes, Do Revenge joins Heathers, The Craft, Jawbreaker and Jennifer's Body in charting teens chasing vengeance. Mean girls abound, too, and when 'Kids in America' starts playing, it's a Betty of a Clueless nod (and just one of many, including pastel uniforms that could've been pulled out of Cher Horowitz's computerised wardrobe). Casting Sarah Michelle Gellar as the principal and dropping 'Praise You'? The Cruel Intentions winks keep thrilling like a young Ryan Phillippe. The list goes on, to the never-grow-up delight of, well, everyone — because writer/director Jennifer Kaytin Robinson (Someone Great) and co-scribe Celeste Ballard (Space Jam: A New Legacy) clearly know and love the type of movie they're making as much as the rest of us.
Unleashing more references than a school library doesn't always play well — in the latest Scream movie, it gets repetitive and fast; in whodunnit parody-slash-homage See How They Run, it's a touch too clever-clever — but Do Revenge radiates pure fun and affection. At its centre: queen bee Drea (Camila Mendes, Riverdale), who climbed her exclusive private school's social ladder, hid her modest background and dated the dream boy Max (Austin Abrams, Euphoria) until a sex scandal tarnishes her reputation. With newcomer Eleanor (Maya Hawke, Stranger Things), who also has her own grudge against one of their classmates, she hatches a Stranger on a Train-esque plan: they'll avenge each other's wrongs and bring down their respective tormentors. Robinson and Ballard have a ball getting savage yet sweet, as does a cast that also includes Game of Thrones' Sophie Turner, 13 Reasons Why's Alisha Boe and Ms Marvel's Rish Shah — and devilish twists come with the self-aware fandom.
Do Revenge streams via Netflix.
HOCUS POCUS 2
Twist the bones and bend the back, Hocus Pocus has returned for another horror-comedy attack — and there's no doubting that this 29-years-later sequel adores its predecessor. Disney loves reviving and extending its popular past hits, whether as new remakes, followups or ever-sprawling franchises. In the majority of cases, it's committed to sticking to the same already-winning formula, too. So, pushing the cackling Sanderson sisters to the fore again, Hocus Pocus 2 unsurprisingly doesn't overly mess with the tried-and-tested template. Once again starring Bette Midler (The Addams Family 2), Sarah Jessica Parker (And Just Like That...) and Kathy Najimy (Music), it's another family-friendly tale of Salem witches trying to eat children to remain alive and youthful forever. And, it doubles down on everything that the Mouse House thinks made the OG flick such a beloved 90s favourite to begin with — more songs, more OTT siblings, more teens trying to foil their plans to run amok, amok, amok and more Massachusetts-set mayhem, namely
That means that Hocus Pocus 2 plays like a greatest-hits do-over as much as a second effort. New movie, same setup, a few fresh faces and an obvious yearning to keep the saga's black flame candle burning: that's director Anne Fletcher (Hot Pursuit) and screenwriter Jen D'Angelo's (Young Rock) film. After adding an origin story for Winnie (Midler), Mary (Najimy) and Sarah (Parker), as well as Billy Butcherson (Doug Jones, What We Do in the Shadows), they're all unleashed upon modern-day Salem by 16-year-old Becca (Whitney Peak, Gossip Girl), her best friend Izzy (Belissa Escobedo, Sex Appeal) and magic shop owner Gilbert (Sam Richardson, The Afterparty) — and nostalgically entertaining hijinks ensue. Hocus Pocus 2 isn't subtle or restrained, or keen to do much more than worship its predecessor, but spells do work more than once.
Hocus Pocus 2 streams via Disney+ from Friday, September 30.
Usually when a film leaves you wondering how it might've turned out in other hands, that isn't a great sign — but Blonde, the years-in-the-making adaptation of Joyce Carol Oates' fictionalised Marilyn Monroe biography of the same name, demands a watch. It's a fascinating movie, including for what works astoundingly well and what definitely doesn't. In the first category: Ana de Armas (The Gray Man) as Norma Jeane Mortensen, the woman who'd become not just a star and a sensation during her life, but an icon across the six decades since. Also exceptional: the almost-uncanny recreations of oh-so-many images that captured Mortensen/Monroe, including a plethora that are iconic themselves. In the second camp, however, falls Blonde's decision to filter its central figure's story through her death, as though that was the most important thing about her — and that it was inevitable.
No one ever wants to be defined by one thing. Monroe certainly didn't, as Blonde itself depicts. She fiercely yearned to be known as more than a sex symbol who drew crowds to cinemas and attracted intense media interest — but being objectified was a part of her Hollywood experience, including here from the moment that a first studio meeting ends horrifically. As written and directed by Australian filmmaker Andrew Dominik, in his latest feature to unpack larger-than-life true tales after Chopper and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Blonde reductively sees that awful treatment, her childhood struggles, her tumultuous marriages and romances, her miscarried or aborted pregnancies, and her late-career on-set antics as all leading to the conclusion that's long been a matter of history. Far more engrossing is the movie's efforts to unpack the truth and pain behind all of Monroe's career-defining images, and to plunge the audience into a fraught headspace with her — and that soulful and phenomenal lead performance.
Blonde streams via Netflix.
NEW AND RETURNING SHOWS TO CHECK OUT WEEK BY WEEK
In the US, it was one of the best new shows of 2019. In Australia, thanks to a hefty delay in bringing it to our screens, it earned that distinction in 2021. The one silver lining for the latter? The gap between Los Espookys' first season and its second has proven much shorter Down Under — but more of this Spanish-language HBO comedy was always going to be worth the wait. The premise is a gem; the cast is a delight; the cavalcade of horror references is so savvily worked in that it almost puts every other winking, nodding, nudging show or movie to shame; and there remains nothing else on television or streaming like it. Sharp, witty, absurd, affectionate, insightful, charming, oh-so-distinctive, perhaps the best unofficial (and unrelated) successor to The Mighty Boosh yet: that's Los Espookys again and again, even more so in season two, although it's also a must-see that's best experienced rather than described.
The same rings true for the Los Espookys gang and their business: horror IRL. It genuinely is a business for genre devotee Renaldo (Bernardo Velasco, Museo) and his pals Andrés (Julio Torres, Shrill), Úrsula (Cassandra Ciangherotti, This Is Not a Comedy) and Tati (Ana Fabrega, Father of the Bride), turning a passion into a line of work with a steady-enough list of customers. In an always-unpredictable affair co-created by Torres, Fabrega and Our Flag Means Death's Fred Armisen, the group stages spooky setups for folks willing to pay — gloriously outlandish and OTT scenarios, always with a tactile and DIY feel, resulting in both impressive and hilarious outcomes. Those installations keep coming, and so does both personal and interpersonal chaos for the crew (plus Renaldo's parking valet uncle Tico, as played by Armisen), particularly after Tati can't quite adjust to marriage, Andrés navigates life beyond the luxury he grew up in, Renaldo keeps being haunted and Úrsula tries to fend off persistent TV offers.
Los Espookys streams via Binge.
THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RINGS OF POWER
Like knowing that House of the Dragon was coming, and winter as well, it's been impossible to avoid news about The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. The stunning-looking series has been in the works for five years, and is already locked in for five seasons, all jumping back to Middle-earth's Second Age. That's a period of elves, men, dwarves and harfoots — precursors to hobbits — and of the lurking evil of Sauron, plus orcs, trolls and more. It's also when the titular jewellery is forged. On the page, it's largely been covered in an appendix to Tolkien's Lord of the Rings books, taking this new series into previously unseen on-screen territory. And, as The Rings of Power focuses on, it's where Galadriel and Elrond's tales truly kicked in, with Morfydd Clark (Saint Maud) taking over from Cate Blanchett and Robert Aramayo (The King's Man) doing the same for Hugo Weaving, with their characters thousands of years younger.
The young Galadriel narrates The Rings of Power's explanatory introduction, setting the scene for the show's fight against Sauron — and slowly putting the pieces in place for the compilation of a fellowship to do so. She tells of the dark lord Morgoth and his defeat in wide-ranging wars. She notes that the elf Finrod (Will Fletcher, The Road Dance) was convinced that Sauron, Morgoth's apprentice, still lingered afterwards. And she advises that such a belief and the search to prove it right cost Finrod, her brother, his life. Alas, during relative peace, as Middle-earth has been under since Morgoth was vanquished, isn't a prime time to take up that fight. But she's still scouring far and wide for Sauron, even if High King Gil-galad of the Elves (Benjamin Walker, The Ice Road) wants to bathe her in glory for past victories instead. If that's the path she took, there wouldn't be much of a series — and that's just the start of a thrilling show that also spends time with the dwarves of Khazad-dum, fellow elf Arondir (Ismael Cruz Córdova, The Undoing) among the humans, and harfoot Nori Brandyfoot (Markella Kavanagh, True History of the Kelly Gang) and her fellow diminutive creatures.
When it arrived in 2016 between Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens and Star Wars: Episode VIII — The Last Jedi, Rogue One: A Star Wars sent a message in its own spy-slash-heist flick way: it wouldn't be slavishly beholden to the Star Wars franchise's established and beloved universe. It felt earthier and murkier, more urgent and complicated, and far more steeped in everyday reality — within its science-fiction confines, of course — and more concerned with the here and now of its specific narrative than the bigger saga picture. It was certainly and unshakeably bleaker, and felt like a departure from the usual template, as well as a welcome risk. The same proves true of impressive streaming prequel Andor, which slips into its namesake's routine five years prior. The Galactic Empire reigns supreme, the Rebel Alliance is still forming and, when the series opens, Cassian (the returning Diego Luna, If Beale Street Could Talk) is a wily thief living on the junkyard planet of Ferrix.
A Blade Runner-esque sheen hovers over a different place, however: the industrial-heavy, corporate-controlled Morlana One, which couldn't be further under the boot of the Empire if it tried. As Monos-style flashbacks to Cassian's childhood aid in fleshing out, he's searching for his sister, but his latest investigatory trip results in a confrontation and the Preox-Morlana Authority on his trail. Back on Ferrix, he endeavours to hide with the help of his friend/presumed ex/mechanic/black-market dealer Bix Caleen (Adria Arjona, Morbius) and droid B2EMO (Dave Chapman, Star Wars: Episode IX — The Rise of Skywalker), while keeping his latest antics a secret from his adoptive mother Maarva (Fiona Shaw, Killing Eve). But, even after being told to drop the case, persistent Imperial Deputy Inspector Syril Karn (Kyle Soller, Poldark) and higher-ranking officer Dedra Meero (Denise Gough, Under the Banner of Heaven) aren't willing to give up.
You can't escape yourself. As Atlanta sent Earnest 'Earn' Marks (Donald Glover, Guava Island), his cousin and rapper Alfred 'Paper Boi' Miles (Brian Tyree Henry, Bullet Train), their Nigerian American pal Darius (Lakeith Stanfield, Judas and the Black Messiah) and Earn's ex Vanessa (Zazie Beetz, also Bullet Train) around Europe in the show's third season earlier in 2022, that truth became inescapable, too. Hopping everywhere from Amsterdam to Paris and London, the group saw the daily reality of being Black Americans linger with them at every destination — and their personal ups and downs as well — no matter how wild, weird, bleak or hopeful the circumstances they were in. Arriving mere months later, season four kicks off by also exploring that point, including in a debut episode that sees Atlanta, the city, haunt the show's main players. They're back home and there's no way they couldn't know it, whether they're on scavenger hunts, stuck in carparks or being chased.
Just a handful of episodes in, Atlanta's fourth season also examines another truth that's always sat at the core of the show: that for better and for worse, there's no place like home. That applies to the physical location, but also to the homes we make with other people — family, friends and everything in-between. Earn and Van gravitate closer together, but their relationship has always ebbed and flowed. Al keeps pondering what success really means, too. In the process, Glover's superbly smart, blistering and often-surreal unpacking of race relations lays bare the nation it usually calls home, as it did so incisively in its first two seasons, while never failing to challenge, surprise and swing big. That the show's final season also clearly muses on legacies obviously couldn't be more fitting; however it ends, no doubt in a thoroughly unpredictable and yet also ridiculously apt way, it'll always be a great on Glover, Henry, Stanfield and Beetz's resumes.
Atlanta streams via SBS On Demand.
In one of 2022's new streaming standouts, Bad Sisters, Brian Gleeson tries to get to the bottom of a suspicious death. In another, The Patient, Domhnall Gleeson plays a serial killer. The two shows have more differences than commonalities, but it's clearly a great time for the Frank of Ireland-co-starring Gleeson brothers and twisty tales about crime. For Run's Domhnall, he co-leads a show about a murderer who enlists a therapist to try to stop his homicidal urges. Sam Fortner does indeed sit in Alan Strauss' (Steve Carell, Minions: The Rise of Gru) office and seek his help, but as well as hiding his eyes and face behind sunglasses, he keeps his real name, the bulk of his personal details and bloody pastime to himself. It's only after Strauss wakes up chained in Fortner's house that the latter feels comfortable enough to come clean and truly ask for assistance, albeit under terrifying circumstances for his captive.
Domhnall Gleeson's on-screen resume isn't short on highlights, including Ex Machina and Brooklyn. Carell's has blatantly boasted many, spanning both comedies (Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy and The Office, obviously) and dramas (including his Oscar-nominated work in Foxcatcher). Accordingly, it should astonish no one that they're both instantly gripping in The Patient, as their characters bounce off of each other in inherently grim circumstances; however, they're each also in career-best form. The psychological-thriller series works as two commanding, textured and high-stakes character studies as Fortner demands Strauss' professional best, and ensures he isn't capable of refusing — and works through their respective baggage cat-and-mouse-style from there. In fact, it hits its marks so well that the show's concise format (each episode clocks in at between 20–25 minutes) keeps viewers wanting more.
The Patient streams via Disney+.
RICK AND MORTY
The longer that Rick and Morty continues, the more it galaxy- and time-hopping mayhem it slings at the screen, aka whatever out-there sci-fi situations that creators Justin Roiland (Solar Opposites) and Dan Harmon (Community) can conjure up. But the more that this Back to the Future-inspired animated hit continues, too, the more that it proves a tragedy about choices made and not — and how even having all the science-fiction gadgetry in this and every other world and dimension can't make everything perfect always, because that's just not human (or alien, animal or Birdperson) nature. Season six of the series was always going to get contemplative given how the past season ended, of course, and because that's been baked into the show since day one. Still, the oft-quoted "wubba lubba dub dub" feels particularly weighty this time around, considering what it really means: "I am in great pain, please help me".
Rick Sanchez (voiced by Roiland) has been saved, but that initially tears the Smith family apart — by now, they know (and we know) that Rick and his daughter Beth (Sarah Chalke, Firefly Lane), son-in-law Jerry (Chris Parnell, Archer), grandson Morty (also Roiland) and granddaughter Summer (Spencer Grammer, Tell Me a Story) aren't quite the versions of themselves they once were. Also part of the season's first few episodes: Beth getting close to Space Beth, also with consequences throughout her household; exploring what it means to offload parts of your life you're not happy with; and a good ol'-fashioned "yippee ki-yay!"-shouting Die Hard parody. In other words, it's all quintessential Rick and Morty, just getting deeper with each new run of episodes. Naturally, when Peter Dinklage (Cyrano) voices an alien equivalent of Hans Gruber, it's gold, and yet another classic Rick and Morty moment.
Rick and Morty streams via Netflix.
You can also check out our running list of standout must-stream 2022 shows so far as well — and our best 15 new shows from the first half of this year, top 15 returning shows and best 15 straight-to-streaming movies.
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