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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Ten Films and TV Shows You Need to Stream This Month

Cancel your plans to get stuck into Spike Lee's stellar new film, an eerie sci-fi thriller, plenty of vampire-fuelled laughs and a whole heap of 'Fast and Furious' movies.
By Sarah Ward
June 17, 2020
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Ten Films and TV Shows You Need to Stream This Month

Cancel your plans to get stuck into Spike Lee's stellar new film, an eerie sci-fi thriller, plenty of vampire-fuelled laughs and a whole heap of 'Fast and Furious' movies.
By Sarah Ward
June 17, 2020
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Not all that long ago, the idea of getting cosy on your couch, clicking a few buttons, and having thousands of films and television shows at your fingertips seemed like something out of science fiction. Now, it's just an ordinary night — whether you're 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. From the latest and greatest to old favourites, here are our picks for your streaming queue for June.

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NEW STUFF TO WATCH NOW

DA 5 BLOODS

A fiery examination of both the Vietnam War and US race relations, Da 5 Bloods is a Spike Lee film through and through. It nods liberally to its influences, such as Apocalypse Now, but only the acclaimed Do the Right Thing and BlacKkKlansman filmmaker could've made a war movie this affecting, incisive, entertaining and politically astute  — especially given its focus on African American men expected to fight and die for the same country that still struggles to treat them equally. Plot-wise, the part combat drama, part heist thriller, part history lesson follows four ex-soldiers (Delroy Lindo, Clarke Peters, Norm Lewis and Isiah Whitlock Jr) who make the trip back to Ho Chi Minh City decades after the conflict. They're searching for buried gold, as well as for the remains of their beloved squad leader (Chadwick Boseman, as seen in flashbacks). In Lee's hands, and with Lindo taking charge as a PTSD-afflicted, MAGA hat-wearing veteran, the results are energetic, passionate, and both intellectually and emotionally stunning.

Da 5 Bloods is available to stream via Netflix.

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THE VAST OF NIGHT

When strange things start happening in a 50s-era New Mexico small town while most of its residents are attending a school basketball game — unusual lights in the sky, and eerie sounds interrupting both radio broadcasts and phone calls — radio DJ Everett (Jake Horowitz) and phone switchboard operator Fay (Sierra McCormick) decide to investigate. That's the premise behind The Vast of Night, and it couldn't be more simple and straightforward; however this smart and engaging sci-fi film is inventive and compelling from the moment it begins. In terms of its narrative, a few surprises pop up, even for those with a knowledge of history. But it's the movie's strong focus on character and its commanding style that's always riveting. Every shot, every camera movement and, crucially, every single sound contributes to an ambitious and gripping filmmaking debut (and a certain calling card) from first-time feature director Andrew Patterson.

The Vast of Night is available to stream via Amazon Prime Video.

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RAMY

In Ramy's first season, creator, writer, director and star Ramy Youssef explored the daily life of his on-screen surrogate: Ramy Hassan, a twenty-something New Jersey-based American Muslim of Egyptian heritage. Ramy struggles to reconcile his culture, religion and family's expectations with his own wants, needs and dreams, continually professing his desire to make the right choices while often overtly following questionable paths. In the show's just-released ten-episode second season, the same still rings true — although, this time, Ramy seeks guidance from a new Sheik (Moonlight and Green Book Oscar-winner Mahershala Ali, who's excellent as always) while getting closer to the latter's daughter (MaameYaa Boafo). Youssef won a Golden Globe for his first-season performance earlier this year, and he's just as great in the next batch of episodes; however, it's the show's continual refusal to gloss over, ignore, excuse or accept Ramy's frequent array of self-sabotaging decisions that stands out.

The just-released second season of Ramy is available to stream via Stan. The show's first season is also available, too.

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SNOWPIERCER

First, the bad news: Snowpiercer, the series, isn't directed by Bong Joon-ho. Now, the good news: while it isn't as great as Bong's film — because, honestly, how could it be? — it takes the same dystopian concept, heightens the suspense and drama, and serves up a class warfare-fuelled survivalist thriller that also spends its first five episodes unravelling a murder-mystery. Think constant twists, reveals and reversals, cliffhangers at the end of almost every scene, and a 'Murder on the Snowpiercer Express' kind of vibe. Once again, it all takes place on a 1001-car locomotive carrying the last remnants of humanity while constantly circling the frozen earth. Hamilton's Tony Award-winning Daveed Diggs plays an ex-detective who has spent seven years in the tail end of the train, only to be summoned to the upper carriages when bodies start piling up. Also excellent: Jennifer Connelly as the engine's all-seeing, ever-present head of hospitality.

The first five episodes of Snowpiercer, the series, are available to stream via Netflix — with new episodes dropping weekly.

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THE BEACH

Whenever Warwick Thornton makes a new project, it demands attention — and the Indigenous Australian filmmaker has never made anything quite like The Beach. The director of Samson & Delilah and Sweet Country turns the camera on himself, chronicling his quest to escape his busy life for an extended soul-searching getaway. With only chickens and wildlife for company, Thornton bunkers down in an electricity-free tin shed in Jilirr, on the Dampier Peninsula on the northwest coast of Western Australia. He fishes, cooks, chats to the chooks, wanders along the shoreline and reflects upon everything that's led him to this point, with this six-part documentary series capturing the ups, downs, sublime sights and epiphany-inspiring moments. Unfurling quietly and patiently in the slow-TV tradition, Thornton's internal journey of discovery makes for both moving and absorbing viewing. Indeed, combined with stunning cinematography (as shot by Thornton's son and Robbie Hood director Dylan River), it just might be the best piece of Australian television you see this year.

The Beach is available to stream via SBS On Demand.

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ONES TO WATCH OUT FOR LATER IN THE MONTH

WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS

First hitting cinemas back in 2014, What We Do in the Shadows is a perfect comedy. It's clever and creative, finds new ways to satirise and deploy familiar tropes, genres and formats, and features a spot-on cast — and, of course, the Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement co-directed, co-written and co-starring movie is also sidesplittingly funny. Thankfully, the film's US TV spinoff also fits the above description. Focusing on a group of vampires living in a Staten Island sharehouse (rather than the original movie's Wellington location), it could never be considered a mere small-screen copy. Instead, it's a lively and captivating addition to the broader What We Do in the Shadows universe, which also includes New Zealand series Wellington Paranormal. Back for a second season (and already renewed for a third, too), the What We Do in the Shadows television show has two specific aces up its sleeves, too: the combined on-screen talents of Matt Berry, Kayvan Novak and Natasia Demetriou as three of the central bloodsuckers, plus the time to delve deeper into their undead world.

The second season of What We Do in the Shadows is available to stream via Foxtel Now from Thursday, June 25, with new episodes added weekly.

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EUROVISION SONG CONTEST: THE STORY OF FIRE SAGA

As music, spandex and glitter fans everywhere know, the Eurovision Song Contest didn't go ahead this year. That's left a sizeable Europop-shaped hole in plenty of hearts; however Netflix's new comedy is here to help. Called Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga, the film follows two Icelandic singers who've always wanted to represent their country at the famed sing-off. Lars Erickssong (Will Ferrell) and Sigrit Ericksdottir (Rachel McAdams) aren't particularly well-liked in their homeland, but when they're named as the next Eurovision contestants, they're determined to prove that chasing their lifelong dream was worth it. Directed by Wedding Crashers, The Change-Up and The Judge filmmaker David Dobkin, Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga looks set to feature plenty of Ferrell's over-the-top antics, as well as icy backdrops and a song called 'Volcano Man'. Also on offer: a fierce rivalry between Fire Saga and fellow competitor Alexander Lemtov (Legion's Dan Evans), and a cast that spans Pierce Brosnan and Demi Lovato.

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga will be available to stream via Netflix from Friday, June 26.

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CULT CLASSICS TO REVISIT AND REDISCOVER

IT'S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA

This May, when It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia was renewed for a 15th season, it made history. When those episodes make it to the screen, the cult US sitcom will become the longest-running live-action comedy series that's ever aired on American television. That mightn't sound all that surprising given the general concept — a group of friends (Charlie Day, Glenn Howerton, Rob McElhenney, Kaitlin Olson and Danny DeVito) try to run their own Irish pub and usually fail at everything they attempt — but It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia's dark, nihilistic and irreverent sense of humour is all its own. This is a show that's dedicated most of its episodes to a whole range of taboo topics, after all, while also watching its characters stage a twisted rock opera and make their own version of Lethal Weapon 6. Indeed, when it comes to satirising despicable behaviour and attitudes, It's Always Sunny is on another level. Amazon Prime Video is now streaming the first 13 seasons, which means you now have 144 episodes to binge.

The first 13 seasons of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia are available to stream via Amazon Prime Video.

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ALMOST EVERY FAST AND FURIOUS MOVIE

It's the big-budget franchise that likes driving speedily and passionately, can't get enough over-the-top car antics and loves filling its frames with a constant onslaught of hectic stunts. It's also the Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster and Michelle Rodriguez-starring saga that adores family — and Corona-swilling friends who become family — just as much as vehicular mayhem. And, it's ridiculously entertaining. Not every Fast and Furious movie is a winner (2 Fast 2 Furious definitely isn't, for example), but this huge series boasts more than a few high points. Of course, 2020 will no longer see the saga's ninth official film hit cinemas, with F9's release postponed until 2021 due to COVID-19; however you can now marathon the first seven movies on Stan. Come for a Point Break ripoff that swaps surfing for street racing, which is where it all began. Then, stay as everyone from Tyrese Gibson, Gal Gadot, Eva Mendes and Ludacris to Dwayne Johnson, Luke Evans, Jason Statham and Kurt Russell shows up, because of course they do.

The Fast and Furious collection — featuring the franchise's first seven movies — is available to stream via Stan.

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SYDNEY FILM FESTIVAL'S PAST HITS

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year's Sydney Film Festival didn't take place physically. Instead, it moved online, making 33 new films available for cinephiles to stream at home. And, as part of the one-off virtual move, SFF 2020 also features a whole heap of ace movies that have previously screened at the festival — 40 of them in fact, all thanks to a Sydney Film Festival Selects collection on SBS On Demand. It's a best-of lineup, so get ready to revisit Studio Ghibli co-production The Red Turtle, Taika Waititi's Boy, the Greta Gerwig-starring Frances Ha, Aussie comedy That's Not Me and New Zealand's The Breaker Upperers. You can also feast your eyes on Palme d'Or winner The Square, Scandi thriller The Guilty, Turkish drama Mustang and Xavier Dolan's Heartbeats, among other films. And, they're all available to watch for free.

The Sydney Film Festival Selects Collection is available to stream via SBS On Demand until Friday, July 10.

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Top images: Da 5 Bloods via David Lee/Netflix; Ramy via Craig Blankenhorn/Hulu; Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga via Elizabeth Viggiano/Netflix.

Published on June 17, 2020 by Sarah Ward

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