While the fall weather is certain to send many of us back indoors in September, a promising lineup of streaming entertainment could make saying farewell to patio season a bit easier.
The sprawling sci-fi series "Raised By Wolves," from Hollywood director Ridley Scott ("Alien," "Gladiator"), is likely to generate buzz with its story of two androids raising human children after the destruction of Earth. It lands on Crave's HBO tier on Sept. 3.
Meanwhile, Netflix takes a lighter bend with funnyman Tituss Burgess as host of "Sing On!" the English-language spinoff of its international karaoke competition show, which arrives on Sept. 16.
Amazon Prime Video is taking a more gruesome route with its relentlessly violent "Utopia," which follows a group of comic book fans who become the target of a deep state organization after they discover an underground graphic novel predicting the end of the world. The eight-episode series, which stars John Cusack and Rainn Wilson, debuts on Sept. 25.
There's also a stockpile of new feature films headed to Crave's HBO tier, among them Ben Affleck drama "The Way Back" (Sept. 4), Indigenous zombie flick "Blood Quantum" (Sept. 11), and the gripping Elizabeth Moss thriller "The Invisible Man" (Sept. 25).
Here's a look at several other standout titles out in September:
Actress Sarah Paulson embraces her campier side as she winnows into the conniving world of Nurse Ratched, a woman who knows what she wants and doesn't mind twisting the knife to get it. The prequel to "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" begins in the early days of Ratched's career as she manipulates her way through the doors of a mental institution, and becomes a monster who can't be contained. Co-created by Paulson's frequent collaborator Ryan Murphy ("American Horror Story," "Hollywood"), the series is a lush visual treat for lovers of classic horror films. (Netflix, Sept. 18.)
Paulson takes a very different turn in HBO's celebrity-laden "Coastal Elites," a feature-length satire that features monologues delivered in COVID-19 isolation. Her character is an inspirational speaker who's jumps onto her live-stream session to reflect on America's 2020 culture divide. Other stars who appear in their own bits include Bette Midler, Issa Rae and "Booksmart" actress Kaitlyn Dever, who portrays a nurse sharing her experience with a COVID-19 patient. But it's "Schitt's Creek" co-creator Dan Levy who injects a quirky flavour into the production with his portrayal of a gay actor trying to navigate the hurdles of Hollywood expectations. Directed by Jay Roach ("Bombshell," the Austin Powers movies), the project captures a sliver in history where emotional clashes have been exacerbated by physical distancing measures. (Crave/HBO, Sept. 12)
Two-time Academy Award winner Hilary Swank launches into space as the leader of the first international crew to Mars. But as capable as she is at the controls of the three-year mission, the decision to leave her husband (Josh Charles) and daughter behind on Earth leads to immediate personal doubt over whether she should've put her career first. Matters only worsen when members of the crew start to challenge her authority. Part soapy sci-fi drama, part nail-biting thriller, "Away" gives Swank a richly compelling role to explore in a deep-space TV series that feels as vast as any theatrical experience. (Netflix, Sept. 4)
"I'm Thinking of Ending Things"
Charlie Kaufman's neurotic take on human relationships has existed on the periphery of the mainstream for decades, but if your curiosity is piqued by the writer of "Being John Malkovich" and "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," then his latest directorial effort will fit nicely into his canon of confuddled narratives. Built on the structure of Canadian novelist Iain Reid's book of the same name, "I'm Thinking of Ending Things" opens with a young couple embarking on a nightmarish winter road trip to visit the man's parents for the first time. The meeting is supposed to be a gesture of unity for their newly formed relationship, but things go off the rails quickly. Jessie Buckley plays the tortured girlfriend, while Toni Collette's scene-stealing turn as the boyfriend's twitchy mother brings dark humour to this hellscape of personal turmoil. (Netflix, Sept. 4)
The win-at-all-costs form of modern democracy gets amplified in this revealing documentary set at an annual Texas retreat for high school boys. Thousands of teens gather for the program, sponsored by the American Legion, which splits them into faux political parties for a week-long experiment in running a mock government. As the parties move into their separate corners, the divisiveness that's defined this modern era of politics begins to rear its head, as social media strategy, power struggles and racism start to rise to the surface. Winner of the Grand Jury Prize for documentary at Sundance, "Boys State" is already considered among the frontrunners for a doc nomination at next year's Academy Awards. (Apple TV Plus)
HBO's nine-hour docuseries plunges into the origin story of the Nxivm, a "self-help" organization whose cultish leader was convicted for racketeering and sex trafficking last year. Using the voices of a few people who were swept into the group, including Vancouver actress Sarah Edmondson, the filmmakers present a detailed account on the lure of its ideals and how the leadership manipulated and abused female members. (Crave/HBO, ongoing weekly episodes)
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 28, 2020.
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David Friend, The Canadian Press