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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Ten Films and TV Shows You Need to Stream This Month

Cancel your plans to get stuck into the new 'Star Wars' spinoff, enjoy Kirsten Dunst in a 90s-set dark comedy or watch a compelling drama based on a real-life US Senate report.
By Sarah Ward
November 18, 2019
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Ten Films and TV Shows You Need to Stream This Month

Cancel your plans to get stuck into the new 'Star Wars' spinoff, enjoy Kirsten Dunst in a 90s-set dark comedy or watch a compelling drama based on a real-life US Senate report.
By Sarah Ward
November 18, 2019
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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 gathering the gang for a stay-at-home shindig, 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 stay in?" — it's "what on earth should I watch?". 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 October.

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NEW STUFF TO WATCH NOW

YEARS AND YEARS

If Black Mirror weaved its dystopian visions of the future into an ongoing narrative, rather than doled out its horror stories in standalone instalments, it might look like Years and Years. Focusing on the Lyons family — which spans Muriel (Anne Reid), her grandchildren Edith (Jessica Hynes), Stephen (Rory Kinnear), Daniel (Russell Tovey) and Rosie (Ruth Madeley), plus their partners and children — the six-part British drama ponders their lives from 2019 onwards. So, all of the usual events happen, such as births, deaths and marriages. Here, they're all filtered through the possible political and technological landscape that could await us all, with wars, embeddable technology, climate change, the gig economy and nationalist politics (with Emma Thompson playing an increasingly popular Pauline Hanson-style politician) all part of the story. Created by Russell T. Davies (Queer as Folk and Doctor Who), Years and Years isn't just a must-watch portrait of what may come, but a smartly written, engagingly performed and absolutely fascinating series that's purposefully designed to intrigue, and to stress viewers out about the current and future state of the world.

The first three episode of Years and Years are available to stream on SBS On Demand, with new episodes added weekly on Wednesdays.

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THE MANDALORIAN

Ever since it zoomed out of George Lucas' mind and into our own cinematic galaxy, Star Wars has always had a space western vibe. Yes, the long-running series is known as a space opera, too, but it's impossible to think about Han Solo and Boba Fett without thinking about space cowboys. Serving up a Han-focused prequel, Solo: A Star Wars Story leaned into that idea. The Mandalorian, Disney+'s eagerly anticipated new live-action Star Wars series, takes the concept even further. The Jon Favreau-created series introduces a bunch of new characters — including Pedro Pascal as the titular bounty hunter, Carl Weathers as the head of his professional guild, and the one and only Werner Herzog as a client who hires the Mandalorian for a dangerous mission — but it's definitely a Star Wars space western. Set five years after the events of Star Wars: Episode VI — Return of the Jedi, it'll also help get you in a Star Wars mood before this year's Star Wars: Episode IX — The Rise of Skywalker hits cinemas in December.

The first two episodes of The Mandalorian are available to stream on Disney+, which launched in Australia this week. Episodes will drop weekly on Fridays afterwards.

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EARTHQUAKE BIRD

After exploring the life of writer Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette in last year's Keira Knightley-starring biopic Colette, British writer/director Wash Westmoreland jumps from late 19th- and early 20th-century France to Tokyo circa 1989. That's where Swedish expat Lucy Fly (Alicia Vikander) lives, works and starts to date Japanese photographer Teiji (Naoki Kobayashi). And, with the film framed through a police interrogation, that's where she also becomes a suspect in a missing persons case that could also be a murder. Based on Susanna Jones' 2001 novel of the same name, Earthquake Bird charts the fallout after American Lily Bridges (Riley Keough) arrives in town, befriends Lucy and then disappears — after getting close to Teiji. The film takes its time to solve its central mystery, but that patient approach comes packaged with sumptuous visuals, appropriately contrasting portrayals by its female stars (Vikander is icy and restrained, Keough is lively and vibrant), and a considerable command over its slow-burn thrills and tension.

Earthquake Bird is available to stream now on Netflix.

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SEVEN WORLDS, ONE PLANET

Gorgeous images of the world around us, a deep insight into nature, exceptional expert narration and a swelling soundtrack — yes, David Attenborough is back. The famed, acclaimed and beloved broadcaster's latest series travels around earth one continent at a time, journeying across its landscapes, meeting the animals that call it home, and unpacking both its beauties and perils. At this stage in his career, Attenborough's documentary series operate like well-oiled machines, and Seven Worlds, One Planet is no different. That's not a criticism, but rather recognition that the team behind Attenborough, and the man himself, knows how to get the job done. A passionate crusader for conservation, the show's central figure doesn't let that topic escape attention here, either. One day, many of the sights that his programs have captured may no longer exist, after all.

The first two episode of years and years are available to stream on 9NOW, with new episodes added weekly on Thursdays.

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MORNING WARS

Called The Morning Show overseas and Morning Wars in Australia, Apple TV+'s big star-studded series takes a straight-from-the-headlines approach. Set within one of America's popular morning television shows, it follows the fallout after one of its hosts is fired after reports of sexual misconduct (something that did indeed happen on the US version of Today a couple of years back). Steve Carell plays the anchor newly joining the unemployment line, Jennifer Aniston returns to TV for her first regular role post-Friends as his shell-shocked but fiercely ambitious co-host and Reese Witherspoon is the opinionated upstart who starts making a splash — with the latter happening after a video of her passionate tirade at an uninformed protestor goes viral. Billy Crudup, Mark Duplass and Gugu Mbatha-Raw also feature (we said this was star-studded) in a series that doesn't always hit as hard as it wants to, but always remains highly involving.

The first five episode of Morning Wars are available to stream on Apple TV+, with new episodes added weekly on Fridays.

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ONES TO WATCH OUT FOR LATER IN THE MONTH

THE REPORT

One of the year's best films is based on a US Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture. No, that's not a sentence that comes up very often. It also just released in cinemas, and will hit streaming mere weeks afterwards — something that, in the age of Roma, The Irishman, Brittany Runs a Marathon and Marriage Story, is becoming far more common. Directed by Contagion, Side Effects and The Laundromat screenwriter Scott Z. Burns, The Report recreates the experiences of real-life Senate staffer Daniel Jones, who, from 2009–2015, delved into the scandalous treatment of terrorist suspects by America's key intelligence agency. It mightn't sound riveting on the page, but as Jones dives deeper into a dark part of recent American history, weathers hefty opposition and dedicates himself to ascertaining the truth, The Report makes for gripping viewing. Adam Driver serves up his latest stellar performance as the committed investigator and, while the film belongs to its star and its subject matter, Annette Bening, Jon Hamm, Michael C. Hall and Corey Stoll also make an impact.

The Report is currently screening in cinemas, and will be available to stream on Amazon Prime Video from Friday, November 29.

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ON BECOMING A GOD IN CENTRAL FLORIDA

The American Dream — aka the idea that any US citizen can achieve all the success they've ever hoped for if they just toil hard enough — gets a very darkly funny spin in On Becoming a God in Central Florida. Anchored by a fantastic Kirsten Dunst, the show focuses on Krystal Stubbs, who works at a water park, earns minimum wage and has a baby that she often takes to her job. She's also immersed in a cult-like pyramid scheme. Founders American Merchandise sells household products, pushes its sales people beyond their limits and wraps up its mania in patriotism, with Krystal becoming involved through her husband Travis (Alexander Skarsgård). He's as devoted to the multi-level marketing cause as anyone can get, with the series charting the Krystal's path after their fortunes take a turn. Set in the early 90s and sporting pitch-perfect costuming and production design, the show was originally planned as a TV project for The Lobster and The Favourite director Yorgos Lanthimos — and while the Greek filmmaker is no longer involved, it's easy to see how this savvy satirical comedy would fit into his wheelhouse.

The first two episodes of On Becoming a God in Central Florida will be available to stream on SBS On Demand from Thursday, November 21. Episodes will drop weekly on Thursdays afterwards.

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MYSTIFY: MICHAEL HUTCHENCE

Thanks to home videos, camera phones and our always-connected modern reality, intimate superstar snapshots like Mystify: Michael Hutchence are here to stay. Viewers saw it with Amy and Whitney: Can I Be Me, too — but this warts-and-all portrait of Australian INXS frontman Hutchence doesn't just feel like another in a long line of similar documentaries. Assembled from footage shot during his life, and using voiceover interviews with those who knew him best, this tender, thoughtful and electrifying film is driven by its subject. The task of capturing his allure and his demons in tandem is a delicate one, but Richard Lowenstein manages to achieve that feat with aplomb. Even if you're not an existing fan, or INXS' heyday is before your time, or you can't remember the huge shockwaves Hutchence's 1997 death sent across the nation, this doc offers up a compelling insight into the famous figure, the ups and downs of fame, and the spark that made him capture the world's attention. Keep your eyes peeled for highly candid footage of, and reflections from, his late 80s/early 90s romance with Kylie Minogue, too.

Mystify: Michael Hutchence will be available to stream on ABC iView from Sunday, November 24. Read our full review.

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WELLINGTON PARANORMAL

Something strange is happening in Wellington — again. Actually, more than a few odd, otherworldly events keep occurring. So, the Wellington Paranormal unit is back on the case, doing what they do best (and hilariously) The first television spin-off from Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement's hilarious big-screen mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows, this New Zealand series watches as Officers Minogue (Mike Minogue), O'Leary (Karen O'Leary) and Sergeant Maaka (Maaka Pohatu) investigate the supernatural. Witchy teens, creepy cloning, ghostly cops, a haunted car and a sea monster all pop up this time around, as does Clarke Gayford, the real-life partner of NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. A low-key delight that keeps serving up big laughs, Wellington Paranormal just keeps coming up with entertaining scenarios. Well, given that the What We Do in the Shadows on-screen universe all started with the undead, it was always going to keep on giving.

The first two episodes of Wellington Paranormal's second season will be available to stream on SBS On Demand from Thursday, November 28. Episodes will drop weekly on Thursdays afterwards.
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CULT CLASSICS TO REVISIT AND REDISCOVER

WAYNE'S WORLD AND WAYNE'S WORLD 2

It's party time on your streaming queue, and the appropriate response to that news is "excellent". Twenty-seven years since Saturday Night Live characters Wayne Campbell (Mike Myers) and Garth Algar (Dana Carvey) first took their Illinois public-access TV show to the big screen, the hit comedy is still equal parts silly and amusing, especially if you're in the mood for a retro throwback. Come for the famous 'Bohemian Rhapsody' moment, plus Rob Lowe playing evil (and, if you've seen him in Parks and Recreation, proving that he never ages). There's also Wayne and Garth's catchphrase-heavy banter as well. Stay for a 90s classic, naturally — and, because one goes with the other, make it a double with sequel Wayne's World 2, about Wayne and Garth's efforts to put on Waynestock, a music festival.

Wayne's World and Wayne's World 2 are available to stream on Stan.

Published on November 18, 2019 by Sarah Ward

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