Every month, streaming services in Australia add a new batch of movies and TV shows to its library. Here are our picks for August.
For the six-part docu-series “Immigration Nation,” the co-directors Christina Clusiau and Shaul Schwarz spent three years covering the tense situation on the U.S./Mexico border. Their crew was given unprecedented access to President Trump’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement operations, so much so that the administration has since become concerned that some of the footage in “Immigration Nation” may show ICE agents violating the law and misrepresenting their operations. A show that’s this controversial before it debuts is certainly a must-see.
With “The Shining” sequel “Doctor Sleep,” the writer-director Mike Flanagan delivers a Stephen King movie adaptation that feels a lot like reading one of King’s novels. Flanagan uses his lengthy running time to develop the three main characters: the jaded alcoholic psychic Danny Torrance (Ewan McGregor), the parasitic immortal cult leader “Rose the Hat” (Rebecca Ferguson), and the supernaturally gifted teen Abra Stone (Kyliegh Curran). The inevitable clash between good and bad psychics lacks a little oomph (and feels derivative of “The Shining” movie), but for the most part this is a genuinely spooky and resonant film about old ghosts and stolen childhoods.
‘Tales of Arcadia: Wizards’
Four years ago, the Guillermo del Toro-produced animated series “Trollhunters” introduced Netflix viewers to a group of young adventurers who were dealing with the perils of adolescence while getting drawn into ancient feuds between mystical creatures. The story continued in the sequel series “3Below,” and now the trilogy wraps up with “Wizards.” The time-hopping, King Arthur-inspired romp brings together characters and subplots from the entire “Tales of Arcadia” universe. Based on the series’ track record, this should be a satisfying conclusion to a consistently entertaining young adult fantasy saga.
During these stressful times, we could all use a well-made, feather-light, agreeably silly dance movie. “Work It” could very well fit the bill. Produced by Alicia Keys, the film stars Sabrina Carpenter as a teenager who has to learn to dance — and then work with a team of other misfits — so she can compete in a big contest and enhance her college application. A cast of skilled dancers will get plenty of opportunities to strut their stuff, in a picture that combines underdog sports melodrama with high school romantic comedy.
‘Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story’
Amanda Peet gives one of the most riveting performance of this television year in the second season of the true-crime docudrama “Dirty John,” playing the infamous spurned wife and murderer Betty Broderick. Christian Slater plays Dan Broderick, who — in the show’s version of the story — became a successful lawyer with Betty’s support, then put her through a humiliating, dragged-out divorce so he could marry a younger woman. The series’ creator Alexandra Cunningham retells a tale that was a tabloid staple in the 1990s, but puts her focus on the roles that gender and status played in this relationship’s unbalanced power dynamic. Throughout, Peet embodies a dynamic woman who comes off as both scary and sympathetic.
Netflix’s latest big budget action spectacular stars Jamie Foxx, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Dominique Fishback as a team of unlikely heroes from different backgrounds, working to investigate the proliferation of a designer drug that gives its users superpowers for five minutes. Judging by the trailer, the “Project Power” co-directors Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost will be relying on some eye-popping special effects to give their movie its own five-minute boosts of energy. But it’s the low-key charisma of the three leads that will ultimately carry this picture.
‘Lucifer’ Season 5, Part 1
The supernatural adventure series “Lucifer” has a lot in common with the excellent “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” spinoff “Angel,” in that both are imaginative and witty episodic dramas about demons who fight their own natures while solving crimes in Los Angeles. The “Lucifer” creators leaned into that similarity with their shocking season four finale, which saw Lucifer Morningstar (played by the charming Tom Ellis) re-embracing his dark destiny and reclaiming his throne in Hell. This situation surely won’t last, but seeing how the devil himself returns to L.A. in season five should be a lot of fun.
“Shutter Island” (August 1), “Mundo Mistério” (August 4), “Sam Jay: 3 in the Morning” (August 4), “Anelka: L’Incompris” (August 5), “World’s Most Wanted” (August 5), “The Rain” Season 3 (August 6), “Berlin, Berlin” (August 7), “High Seas” Season 3 (August 7), “Nailed It! Mexico” Season 2 (August 7), “Selling Sunset” Season 3 (August 7), “Sing On! Germany” (August 7), “Tiny Creatures” (August 7), “Insidious: The Last Key” (August 9), “Game On: A Comedy Crossover Event” (August 10), “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” (August 10), “Greenleaf” Season 5 (August 12), “(Un)Well” (August 12), “Glow Up” Season 2 (August 14), “The Great Heist” (August 14), “Teenage Bounty Hunters” (August 14), “3%” Season 4 (August 14), “Rita” Season 5 (August 15), “Space Jam” (August 15), “Stranger” Season 2 (August 15), “Crazy Awesome Teachers” (August 17), “DeMarcus Family Rules” (August 19), “High Score” (August 19), “Biohackers” (August 20), “John Was Truing to Contact Aliens” (August 20), “Rust Valley Restorer” Season 3 (August 21), “The Sleepover” (August 21), “Trinkets” Season 2 (August 25), “Million Dollar Beach House” (August 26), “Rising Phoenix” (August 26), “Aggretsuko” Season 3 (August 27), “Cobra Kai” Seasons 1-2 (August 28), “Fearless” (August 28).
Widely considered one of the best Australian films of recent years, the drama “Acute Misfortune” — directed by Thomas Wright, and co-written by Wright and Erik Jensen — is based on Jensen’s biography of the late Adam Cullen, a painter known for his bold colors, shocking subject matter and punk aesthetic. The movie is about the close and sometimes contentious relationship that developed between the green young journalist Wright and the cantankerous and sickly Cullen. It’s a study in how difficult it can be to put artists and their work into context.
The outstanding actress Juno Temple gets a much-deserved leading role in “Little Birds,” playing Lucy Savage, a rich New Yorker who explores the wide open sexual and political possibilities of Tangier in the mid 1950s. Loosely based on the work of the erotic fiction pioneer Anais Nin, this stylish six-part series — directed by Stacie Passon — spoofs the presumptions and privileges of the colonial class, while graphically depicting their secret desires. Temple brings a sense of playfulness and humor to a character on a wild journey of self-discovery.
‘Evil’ Season 1
The TV writer-producer team of Robert and Michelle King — best-known for creating “The Good Wife” and its spinoff “The Good Fight” — go to some wonderfully odd places with their new series “Evil.” Katja Herbers plays a psychologist who helps a deeply religious Catholic investigator (played by Mike Colter) and a skilled tinkerer (Aasif Mandvi) on a mission to determine if there are reasonable explanations for supernatural phenomena. Michael Emerson plays an antagonistic chaos-agent, working for his own mysterious ends. “Evil” is occasionally quite scary and often very funny. It’s also consistently provocative in the way it depicts issues of faith and fervor.
‘Portrait of a Lady on Fire’
One of the most artfully rendered romantic movies of recent years, “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” is set on an island estate in late 18th century Brittany, where a painter named Marianne (Noémie Merlant) has been hired to produce a portrait of a moody aristocrat named Héloïse (Adèle Haenel). The two fall in love and take their time, savoring the days they spend together before Héloïse’s impending marriage. The writer-director Céline Sciamma captures the passion of these two women, as they enjoy the fleeting freedom of a secret affair.
‘I Am Woman’
Named for Helen Reddy’s 1972 feminist anthem, “I Am Woman” tells the story of the Melbourne-born singer and her rise to international pop music stardom. Tilda Cobham-Hervey plays Reddy, who arrives in the United States as an unknown and has to struggle against the ingrained sexism and shortsightedness of 1960s American showbiz to get her voice heard. Danielle Macdonald plays Lillian Roxon, the Australian rock journalist whose enthusiasm for the women’s movement helped inspire Reddy’s most enduring hit.
Fans of “strange but true” crime stories should enjoy “Love Fraud,” a docu-series about a con-man who drained the bank accounts of several trusting women — until they found each other online and worked together to expose him. The co-directors Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady (best-known for the documentary “Jesus Camp”) get to know these ladies, who for the most part don’t seem like easy or even lucrative marks. “Love Fraud” is about predators who use the internet to find not necessarily the wealthiest prey, but the most persuadable.
Also arriving: “The Deceived” (August 4), “Magic Mike” (August 5), “Stroszek” (August 5), “Mr. & Mrs. Murder” (August 6), “Brabham” (August 7), “Chimerica” Season 1 (August 7), “Michelle Obama: Life After the White House” (August 11), “Battlestar Galactica” Seasons 1-4 (August 14), “The Circus” (August 17), “Dark Money” Season 1 (August 23), “Blood & Treasure” Season 1 (August 27).
‘Pan y Circo’
A different kind of food show — or perhaps a different kind of political panel show — “Pan y Circo” is hosted by the actor Diego Luna, who brings together an assortment of activists and celebrities for a series of fabulous meals, across Mexico. The guests have spirited debates about everything from immigration law to the drug war to gender politics, all in a spirit of honesty and good will. There’s even a quarantine special, with Luna’s pals gathering virtually, to talk about life in the COVID-19 era.
‘World’s Toughest Race: Eco-Challenge Fiji’
The reality television producer Mark Burnett launched his career in the mid-1990s with “Eco-Challenge,” an extreme team race across the wilderness, combining multiple disciplines. Burnett set the concept aside after he found greater success with shows like “Survivor” and “The Apprentice,” but now he’s bringing it back as “World’s Toughest Race: Eco-Challenge Fiji.” The ruggedly outdoorsy TV personality Bear Grylls hosts the ten-part series, which covers a grueling, nonstop 11-day scramble across mountains and water, with 66 teams — a total of over 300 athletes — pushing the limits of their endurance.
“Chemical Hearts” (August 21).