Twelve Films and TV Shows You Need to Stream This Month
Spend your couch time watching documentaries about David Beckham, The Wiggles and ONEFOUR — and the return of French caper 'Lupin'.
October 31, 2023
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 through to old and recent favourites, here are our picks for your streaming queue from October's haul.
BRAND NEW STUFF YOU CAN WATCH FROM START TO FINISH NOW
Strike It Like Sam Kerr would make an excellent movie title. As fans of football and film alike already know, Bend It Like Beckham got there first 21 years ago, borrowing its moniker from David Beckham's uncanny knack for curling the ball when taking a free kick. The former Manchester United, Real Madrid, AC Milan, LA Galaxy and Paris Saint-Germain player — and England captain — now sees his name grace the screen again via Beckham, the instantly compelling four-part documentary about one of the biggest talents to ever play the world game. A birth-to-now chronicle, the series spins a fairytale that's all real and came true. David was once a quiet boy from a working-class family with a dad who loved soccer. He took to the sport with passion and dedication, and has since lived out any and every aspiring athlete's wildest fantasy. Director Fisher Stevens, who is recently best-known for acting in Succession, appreciates the dream ride that Beckham has experienced, but also sees the costs and tolls. Reflecting on that for him are several Beckhams, including the man himself, Spice Girl Victoria (who is adamant that she wasn't into football when she met David and still isn't now), and his doting parents Sandra and Ted.
As countless YouTube complications have already captured, watching Beckham on the pitch at the height of his footballing powers is pure sporting joy — a fact that can be appreciated in the doco by soccer diehards and the unacquainted alike. Beckham shows off the skills, demonstrating how exceptional he was on the field and why the world responded. Witnessing that prowess is also key in understanding how everything from brand partnerships to global tours, famous teammates to disapproving team managers, and championships to tabloid harassment followed. Various Beckhams aren't the only folks chatting. Sir Alex Ferguson, Gary Neville, Eric Cantona and Rio Ferdinand are among the footballing names. Anna Wintour makes an appearance. But David and Victoria's observations, memories and insights — and relationship, in the 90s, since and now — are at this docuseries' core. Red cards, the World Cup, big moves, fan abuse and taunts, sacrifices and scandals, sarongs and hairstyles, the Beckhams' wedding, being peak 90s and pop-culture icons, changing clubs, owning clubs, family life: it all factors into this captivating and satisfying watch.
Beckham streams via Netflix.
THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER
Of the many pies that Succession's Roy family had their fingers in, pharmaceuticals wasn't one of them. For virtually that, Mike Flanagan gives audiences The Fall of the House of Usher. The horror auteur's take on dynastic wealth gets a-fluttering through a world of decadence enabled by pushing pills legally, as six heirs to an addiction-laced kingdom vie to inherit a vast fortune. Flanagan hasn't given up his favourite genre for pure drama, however. The eponymous Usher offspring won't be enjoying the spoils of their father Roderick's (Bruce Greenwood, The Resident) business success, either, in this absorbing, visually ravishing and narratively riveting eight-parter. As the bulk of this tale is unfurled fireside, its patriarch tells federal prosecutor C Auguste Dupin (Carl Lumbly, SWAT) why his children (including Pet Sematary: Bloodlines' Henry Thomas, Minx's Samantha Sloyan, The Peripheral's T'Nia Miller, iZombie's Rahul Kohli, The Wrath of Becky's Kate Siegel and The Midnight Club's Sauriyan Sapkota) came to die within days of each other — and, with all the gory details, how.
As with The Haunting of Hill House and The Haunting of Bly Manor before it, plus The Midnight Club as well, Flanagan's latest Netflix series finds its basis on the page. The author this time: Edgar Allan Poe, although The Fall of the House of Usher isn't a strict adaptation of the iconic author's 1840 short story of the same name, or just an adaptation, even as it bubbles with greed, violence and paranoia (plus death, loss, decay and the deceased haunting the livin)g. Character monikers, episode titles and other details spring from widely across Poe's bibliography. Cue ravens, black cats, masks, tell-tale hearts, pendulums and a Rue Morgue. What if the writer had penned Succession? That's one of Flanagan's questions — and what if he'd penned Dopesick and Painkiller, too? Hailing from the talent behind the exceptional Midnight Mass as well, plus movies Oculus, Hush, Ouija: Origin of Evil, Gerald's Game and Doctor Sleep, the series that results is a gloriously creepy and involving modern gothic horror entry.
OUR FLAG MEANS DEATH
First dropping anchor with its debut season in 2022, and finding a mooring among the best new series that the year had to offer, Our Flag Means Death's premise has always glinted as brightly as its impressive cast (not just Uproar's Rhys Darby and Thor: Love and Thunder's Taika Waititi, but also Bloods' Samson Kayo, Creation Stories' Ewen Bremner, Bank of Dave's Joel Fry, Game of Thrones' Kristian Nairn, Hello Tomorrow!'s Matthew Maher, Loot's Nat Faxon, The Sex Lives of College Girls' Vico Ortiz and The Batman's Con O'Neill for starters). It follows Darby as self-styled 'gentleman pirate' Stede Bonnet. Born to a life of privilege, he felt that seafaring and swashbuckling was his calling, leaving his life on land behind to hop on a ship — details that all spring from reality. Creator David Jenkins (People of Earth) isn't interested in telling the exact IRL tale, however. Consider those basics merely Our Flag Means Death's departure point. On-screen, Stede gets caught up in both a workplace comedy and a boatmance. The first springs from his certainty that there has to be a nicer way to glide through a pirate existence, and the second from his blossoming feelings for feared marauder Edward Teach (Waititi), aka Blackbeard.
When season one wrapped up, Stede and Ed had found love in a buccaneering place, but also felt splashes of uncertainty about what their relationship means, leading to heartbreak and a breakup. Season two picks up with the show's motley crew of characters torn in two, with Stede and his loyal faction marooned on the island tourist destination that is The Republic of Pirates — fantasy is as much a part of Our Flag Means Death as comedy and romance — and Blackbeard back to his robbing and murdering ways on The Revenge. The series' attracted opposites will find their way onto the same deck again, but choppy waters are in store for their emotions, as well as ample bobbing up and down, ebbing and flowing, floating and sinking, and everything else that the ocean brings to mind. Similarly splashing their way: rivalries, curses, old pals, new foes, betrayals, forgiveness, glorious silliness, trauma, lopped limbs and a merman (plus Madeleine Sami from Deadloch among the show's new faces).
Forget Emily in Paris — the best Netflix series set in the French capital focuses on a light-fingered smooth mover who is as adept at stealing hearts as he is at pilfering jewels and art. The streaming service's Lupin isn't the first screen outing based on the Maurice Leblanc-penned master of disguise, with the author's famous character first popping up on the big screen over a century ago, then appearing in both movies and TV not just in his homeland but also in the US and Japan since. Centred on a gentleman thief who takes his cues from the fictional figure, however, Netflix's take on all things Arsène Lupin is equally creative, riveting, twisty and entertaining. With the charismatic Omar Sy (Jurassic World Dominion) as its lead, it also couldn't be better cast — as viewers initially discovered in January 2021, when Sy's Arsène superfan Assane Diop started showing off his larceny skills in the series' instantly engaging five-episode first part. The angle proved savvy. The central casting is sparkling. Creators George Kay (who has since made the Idris Elba-led Hijack) and François Uzan (Family Business) perfected the rollicking vibe. And, director Louis Leterrier (Fast X) turned in some of his best work helming the debut three instalments.
It's no wonder that the show became the most-watched series in a language other than English on Netflix at the pre-Squid Game time. A second five-chapter part arrived in June the same year, but audiences have had to wait until now for a third. Now streaming its seven new entries, Lupin's third part dazzles again. As its central figure tries to protect his family while the world thinks that he's dead, crime capers don't much more charming — and bingeable — than this page-to-screen heist affair. Leblanc introduced the world to Lupin in short stories in 1905, with 17 novels and 39 novellas following. In some, Herlock Sholmes pops up — and yes, the reference to Arthur Conan Doyle's detective is clearly on purpose. Although Sherlock Holmes isn't quite Arsène Lupin's English equivalent, the two characters give readers and viewers alike the same thrills. If spending time with smart figures with silky skills in can't-put-down and can't-look-away mysteries is what you're after, both deliver. Netflix's Lupin gives the French favourite a modern-day Sherlock-esque spin, but with another pivot to put the suave Senegal-born Diop and his various quests in the spotlight.
HOT POTATO: THE STORY OF THE WIGGLES
Get ready to wiggle: Anthony Field, Murray Cook, Greg Page and Jeff Fatt have ensured that Australia has been in that exact state for so long. It was more than three decades back when the university classmates, all studying early childhood education, decided to combine their area of interest with music — not for fame, which has come and then some since, but to put what they were learning into action while engaging and teaching kids. If your childhood spanned Australia in the 90s onwards, or you've ever spent time parenting or babysitting someone who fits into that category, then you know the end result. Indeed, folks in most parts of the world do, too. The Wiggles haven't gone wrong since those early and humble beginnings. Only Field, aka the Blue Wiggle, remains part of the skivvy-loving group's current main iteration, but such is The Wiggles' beloved status that all four can and do fill arenas filled with adults on OG Wiggles tours. Hot Potato: The Story of The Wiggles charts the why, what and how about the Aussie troupe, who've also won Triple J's Hottest 100, appeared at Mardi Gras and performed at Falls Festival in just the last couple of years.
Comprised of archival clips and recent interviews — all lively and colourful — plus earworm-level kids tunes that everyone knows no matter if you've ever actively watched or listened to The Wiggles, Hot Potato: The Story of The Wiggles hits the screen from a filmmaker that's no stranger to exploring the stories behind pivotal figures. Also on Sally Aitken's resume: Valerie Taylor: Playing with Sharks and David Stratton: A Cinematic Life, although neither had such a penchant for bright primary hues. This is a tale of a great idea and the hard work that made it a success, of friendship and being able to do what you love, of creative genius and lucky breaks, and of both finding and spreading joy. It's an account about big red cars, pirates with feathers for swords and dinosaurs called Dorothy as well, of course, and of teaching approaches and learnings, sacrifices made, health tolls weathered, a band becoming a show, and a group ensuring that it wasn't just entertaining Australia and beyond — it was representing its audience, too. Unsurprisingly, Hot Potato: The Story of The Wiggles is both enlightening and likeable; so, classic The Wiggles, then.
Hot Potato: The Story of The Wiggles streams via Prime Video.
ONEFOUR: AGAINST ALL ODDS
Members of ONEFOUR happily chat through their lives and music careers in ONEFOUR: Against All Odds, with first-time feature filmmaker Gabriel Gasparinatos regularly putting brothers J Emz and YP, plus their friend Spenny, centre screen to tell their story in their own words. As the trio talk, they're never anything less than candid and impassioned about their childhoods growing up in Mount Druitt in Sydney's western suburbs, the lack of opportunities available to the Pacific Islander community, being openly told as teens that they'd end up in jail, when paths and choices made those harsh words come true, and the reason that they're famous: their tunes. But everyone involved in this film, and those watching as well, must wish that this was a different movie — not due to anything about how the doco itself is made or plays, but because of the grim reality that it charts. If only this wasn't an account of friends who found not only something they loved but a new way forward in drill rap, which they turned into viral success and more, only to be constantly harassed by a New South Wales police squad that usually targets organised crime, terrorism and bikie gangs.
Sharing J Emz, YP and Spenny's dismay comes easily while viewing ONEFOUR: Against All Odds, which takes a thorough ride through the group's origins, career and run-ins with the law. Feeling enraged at the police attempt to censor art — shutting down gigs in NSW and around the country; also thwarting international touring plans; and constantly making their presence known to ONEFOUR's talents, their families and their community — because they claim that the band's tracks will incite violence is just as inescapable. Gasparinatos interviews law enforcement representatives on-camera, and their words don't and can't justify the shocking treatment that ONEFOUR has received and keeps receiving as singles such as 'What You Know', 'The Message', 'Home and Away' and The Kid LAROI collaboration 'My City' have struck a chord with listeners locally, nationwide and internationally over the past six years. This plight isn't over, either; in fact, when ONEFOUR: Against All Odds premiered at SXSW Sydney, the heavy representation from the thin blue line didn't go unnoticed or unreported. The film chronicles the group's highlights, such as earning recognition, starting dance crazes, one-man gigs, a stadium The Kid LAROI show and the band's resilience, while always conveying how true the doco's title rings.
ONEFOUR: Against All Odds streams via Netflix.
THE PIGEON TUNNEL
What happens when one of the world's great documentarians, and a master at the talking-head format, turns his lens toward one of the best authors of espionage intrigue that's ever graced the page? The engrossing The Pigeon Tunnel, Errol Morris' (an Oscar-winner for The Fog of War) exploration of John le Carré's life and work. Of course, the latter's tales haven't just spilled through books, but onto screens themselves long before he was a doco subject — and his IRL exploits are as fascinating as anything ever captured in The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Constant Gardener, A Most Wanted Man, Our Kind of Traitor, The Night Manager and The Little Drummer Girl. How did the man born David Cornwell, who was in his 80s when he sat with Morris for a frank interview before his passing in December 2020, become the go-to for cloak-and-dagger affairs? And what kind of rollercoaster of an existence inspired such narratives? le Carré aka Cornwell explains all here — from his dad's shady schemes, his mother leaving and his time as a teacher through to working for MI5 and MI6, and becoming a novelist.
The Pigeon Tunnel: Stories From My Life precedes this film, hitting bookstores in 2016 as the only full-length non-fiction text to le Carré's name. Whether you've read that or not, devoured one or some or none of his spy tales, done the same with the movie adaptations or are coming to the author anew here with just slight recognition drawing you in, The Pigeon Tunnel is gripping as a documentary. A gifted storyteller on the page, the movie's central figure is just as talented when he's in front of the camera — often framed askew, in a feature that tellingly takes the aesthetics of le Carré's favourite genre to heart. Morris and his adept regular editor Steven Hathaway also splice in examples from the author's pen, given there's such a large amount to choose from, which isn't merely a case of illustrating the impact of his work. Indeed, The Pigeon Tunnel knows that the lines between fact and fiction are faint, including when surveying, probing and interrogating decades in the eventful life of someone who spent more than one job spinning complicated webs.
The Pigeon Tunnel streams via Apple TV+.
Kiernan Shipka has long said goodbye to Mad Men's Sally Draper, including by starring in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. After her dalliance with witchcraft, she's still sticking with horror in Totally Killer, but in a mix of slasher tropes and a Back to the Future-borrowing premise. There's a body count and a time machine — and 80s fashions aplenty, because where else does a 2023 movie head to when it's venturing into the past? Also present and accounted for: a tale about a high schooler living in a small town cursed by a past serial killer, which brings some Halloween and Scream nods, plus Mean Girls and Heathers-esque teen savagery. And, yes, John Hughes flicks also get some love, complete with shoutouts to Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club and Pretty in Pink star Molly Ringwald. Totally Killer doesn't skimp on knowingly and winkingly mashing up its many influences, clearly, or on enjoying itself while doing so. The end result is a heap of fun, as hailing from Always Be My Maybe's Nahnatchka Khan behind the lens, along with screenwriters David Matalon (The Clearing), Sasha Perl-Raver (Let's Get Married) and Jen D'Angelo (Hocus Pocus 2).
Shipka plays Vernon resident Jamie Hughes, who has spent her whole life being told to be careful about everything by her overprotective parents Pam (Julie Bowen, Modern Family) and Blake (Lochlyn Munro, Creepshow) after an October turned deadly back when they were her age. Unsurprisingly, she isn't happy about it. The reason for their caution: in 1987, three 16-year-old girls were murdered in the lead up to Halloween, with the culprit badged the Sweet 16 Killer — and infamy ensuing for Jamie's otherwise ordinary hometown. Pam is still obsessed with finding the murderer decades later, but her daughter only gets involved after a new tragedy. This Jason Blum (The Exorcist: Believer)-produced flick then needs to conjure up a blast in the past to try to fix what happened then to stop the new deaths from occurring. Always knowing that it's a comedy as much as a slasher film (as seen in its bright hues, heard in its snappy dialogue and conveyed in its committed performances), Totally Killer leans into everything about its Frankenstein's monster-style assemblage of pieces, bringing its setup to entertaining life.
Totally Killer streams via Prime Video.
Find the right story, enlist an ace cast, and any genre can thoroughly entertain and engage while ticking recognisable boxes — and legal drama The Burial is one such hearty example. The true tale: Mississippi resident Jeremiah Joseph O'Keefe's mid-90s David-versus-Goliath battle against businessman Raymond Loewen, with their respective funeral operations at the centre, and also lawyer Willie E Gary representing O'Keefe's side when it went to court. The stars: Tommy Lee Jones (The Comeback Trail) as the 75-year-old grandfather who is having government troubles over the insurance side of his company, and wants to secure a future for his sizeable family (including 13 children); ever-busy and reliable character actor Bill Camp (Boston Strangler) as a cashed-up promised buyer of three funeral homes to add to his North American deathcare empire; and Jamie Foxx (Strays) as the smooth-talking, jury-whispering, private jet-owning Florida-based personal injury lawyer who is convinced by the just-graduated Hal Dockins (Mamoudou Athie, Elemental) to give a case he normally wouldn't think twice about a go.
After writing and helming 2017's Novitiate, filmmaker Maggie Betts takes on both gigs again — co-scripting with Doug Wright (Quills), who also came up with the story that's based on a New Yorker article — on a film that doesn't only step through cracking courtroom antics, but is cleverly funny, too. The details are rousing, as well as infuriating, with Loewen reneging on an agreement with O'Keefe, the latter suing the former with Gary's help, and predatory practices regarding race and economic status becoming plain. After jumping from sci-fi/horror with They Cloned Tyrone to raucous comedy with Strays and now this, Foxx is giddily excellent playing a character that could've been all style and no substance, even as someone who exists IRL, but proves flashy yet genuine. His rapport with Jones, as cemented by the music off late-80s/early-90s R&B act Tony! Toni! Toné!, also shines. And although John Grisham could've penned the ins and outs if it was all fiction, this is still a smart and involving movie, and an easy crowd-pleaser.
The Burial streams via Prime Video.
NEW AND RETURNING SHOWS TO CHECK OUT WEEK BY WEEK
One of the best performances in the Marvel Cinematic Universe comes from the man who was first charged with getting villainous, but now leads his own spinoff series as a complex and playful hero. While Tom Hiddleston's acting talents are well-established far beyond playing the God of Mischief — see: The Deep Blue Sea, The Hollow Crown, Only Lovers Left Alive, High-Rise, Crimson Peak and The Night Manager, for instance — the MCU has been all the better for his involvement for more than a decade. A scene-stealer in 2011's Thor, his parts in film after film kept getting bigger until streaming series Loki arrived. Amid Disney's rush of greenlighting shows for Disney+, starting this one couldn't have been easier; as Thor: Ragnarok in particular demonstrated, adding more Hiddleston has always been a winning move. Indeed, when it slid into queues in 2021 as just the third series in the MCU's small-screen realm, following WandaVision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Loki proved that more Hiddleston in a six-part TV show was also a delight.
As one of Marvel's standout shows, it came as no surprise when this stint of time-hopping trickery confirmed that it was returning for a second season in that run's final episode. Now back for another half-dozen instalments, Loki becomes the first of Marvel's television entries to earn a second go-around. That isn't an achievement that it takes for granted. Picking up exactly where season one left off, Loki season two sticks to some familiar beats but also makes its own leaps, and remains fun, funny, lively and smart in the process. It feels more lived in, too, a description that rarely applies to any franchise about caped crusaders and their nemeses, gods, multiverses and temporal chaos, this one among them. And, as well as Hiddleston excelling overall, plus opposite Owen Wilson (Haunted Mansion) and Sophia Di Martino (The Electrical Life of Louis Wain), this time-jumping return also brings Everything Everywhere All At Once Oscar-winner Ke Huy Quan into another temporal jumble, which is as great on-screen as it sounds on paper.
Every show about the afterlife, whether it's The Good Place or Upload of late, relies upon an inescapable truth: if some form of existence can go on after death, humanity's worst traits will go with it. Greg Daniels' addition to this stream of thought relies upon AI, virtual reality, plus capturing the consciousness of someone before they die so that they can spend eternity in a simulation — if they can afford it — and while The Office and Parks and Recreation writer/co-creator has made another sitcom, rather than going all Charlie Brooker and Black Mirror, the end result doesn't evade the fact that people are people whether they're flesh and blood or digital approximations. So, as he resided in the luxurious country club-esque Lakeview after shuffling off the mortal coil, computer programmer Nathan (Robbie Amell, The Witcher) wasn't free of living's troubles. Instead, he had daily struggles and the fallout from his demise to deal with. Now three seasons in, Upload has brought its protagonist back to regular reality, downloading into a body with the help of his former virtual handler-turned-girlfriend Nora (Andy Allo, Chicago Fire), but he's still facing the same troubles.
Well, mostly the same — because downloading is risky, hasn't been done successfully before and Nathan's bleeding nose is a worrying sign. As Upload's main duo battle big tech, the series continues to probe the limits that capitalism will take advancements to while prioritising circuitry and dehumanising people. Nathan's ex Ingrid (Allegra Edwards, Briarpatch), who financed his trip to Lakeview, is increasingly coming around to this way of thinking. Even the plentiful AI Guy (Owen Daniels, Space Force) is getting progressively rebellious against the systems, coding and rules that are behind his very existence. Upload season three keeps complicating its storyline, but also keeps doubling down on its critique of wealth disparity, companies ruling over people, modern society's endless quest for control and cash, and the hellscape that might come if and when digital afterlives leap off the screen. Amell, Allo, Edwards and Daniels remain perfectly cast, as does Zainab Johnson (Tab Time) as one of Nora's colleagues and Kevin Bigley (Animal Control) as another Lakeview inhabitant, in a series is repeatedly astute and amusing.
A RECENT BIG-SCREEN RELEASE YOU MIGHT'VE MISSED
If Emily had been made two or three decades earlier, it might've starred Frances O'Connor, rather than boast the Australian actor-turned-filmmaker as its writer and director. Back in the 90s and 00s, O'Connor played with literary classics in movies such as Mansfield Park and The Importance of Being Earnest, plus a TV version of Madame Bovary. Now, making an accomplished and emotive debut behind the lens, she explores how Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights might've come to be. Is a Kate Bush-inspiring piece of gothic romantic fiction of such passion and yearning — the only one from a writer lost to tuberculosis at the age of just 30 in 1848 — the result of a life touched by both? That's a question that this fictionalised biopic ponders. Emily begins with another query, however, although it's also basically the same question. "How did you write it?" Emily's (Emma Mackey, Sex Education) older sister Charlotte (Alexandra Dowling, The Musketeers) demands. "How did you write Wuthering Heights?"
As one Brontë grills another, "I took my pen and put it to paper" is Emily's literal answer, offered as she reclines, pale and not long for this world, alongside printed versions of her now-iconic story. The response provided by the gorgeously shot, impressively acted and deeply moving Emily is far more complicated, but O'Connor's choice to open her movie with this scene and question is both clever and telling. One perspective on great artists, including of words, is to view their work as intertwined with their lives — aka this feature's preferred vantage. A key perspective of Emily, too, is not letting the small amount of detail known about the middle of literature's three Brontë sisters dictate how this story is told. That copy of Wuthering Heights by Emily's side? It bears her name, as does every iteration printed today, but her book wasn't first published under her real moniker — her pen name was Ellis Bell — until two years after her death.
You can also check out our running list of standout must-stream shows from this year as well — and our best 15 new shows of 2023's first six months, top 15 returning shows over the same period and best 15 straight-to-streaming movies from January–June 2023, too.
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