TORONTO — Monsters lurk among us in July's streaming highlights.
From a hotel drama stacked with terrible rich folks, to a nail-biting sequel where the slightest sound can awaken a beast, here are film and TV series worth checking out this month:
"The White Lotus"
Vacationers at a swanky Hawaii resort confront a wealth of troubles as their getaways deteriorate into personal drama over a weeklong stay. Among the guests is a pair of newlyweds still learning about each other on their honeymoon, a successful female executive ("Nashville" star Connie Britton) and her less notable husband (Steve Zahn) who have their spoiled kids in tow, and a troubled woman (Jennifer Coolidge) carrying her mother’s ashes as she seeks greater meaning in life. Written and directed by Mike White (“School of Rock”), this biting six-episode limited series holds a mirror up to contemporary social conversations. (Crave/HBO, July 11, episodes weekly)
“A Quiet Place Part II”
As the Abbott family struggles to recover from the tragic events of the first film, they venture into the outside world where a new revelation threatens their survival. John Krasinski returns to the director’s chair, while Emily Blunt, Cillian Murphy and Djimon Hounsou co-star. “A Quiet Place Part II” arrives on streaming after playing exclusively in theatres for a shortened 45-day window. Distributor Paramount is aiming to get its blockbuster films into homes faster than in the past, when movies often played cinemas for around three months. (Amazon Prime Video, July 13)
"Summer of Soul"
Bursting with the sheer joy of R&B and soul music, this two-hour documentary uncovers never-before-seen footage of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, an often forgotten moment in Black American history that took place over six Sundays at the height of a tense political climate. There are performances by a young Stevie Wonder, Sly and the Family Stone, B.B King and Nina Simone, but it's a show-stopping gospel duet by a 30-year-old Mavis Staples and Mahalia Jackson that's the biggest highlight. Stories from some of the performers and concertgoers make this production a rich tapestry of memories for a key cultural moment. (Disney Plus, July 2)
“The Movies That Made Us”
A fresh order of Netflix’s fast-paced documentary series explores the legends behind another batch of iconic Hollywood blockbusters. Among them is a deep dive into the making-of story for Michael J. Fox's time-travel adventure “Back to the Future,” Julia Roberts's breakout role in "Pretty Woman," Steven Spielberg's dinosaur epic "Jurassic Park" and the Tom Hanks pop culture phenomenon “Forrest Gump.” (Netflix, July 21)
ALSO THIS MONTH:
"Monsters At Work" — "Monsters Inc." characters Mike and Sulley regroup six months after the original movie left off as leaders of a new organization. Instead of collecting children’s scares, they’re now chasing laughs in this 10-episode series. (Disney Plus, July 7, episodes weekly)
The "Fear Street" trilogy — A three-week movie event based on R.L. Stine's popular teen horror book series comes to Netflix, exploring a legend that’s plagued the town of Shadyside for centuries. The story is told in "Part 1: 1994" (July 2), "Part 2: 1978" (July 9) and "Part 3: 1666" (July 16).
"Schmigadoon" — Keegan-Michael Key and Cecily Strong play a backpacking couple who stumble into an alternate universe where everyone behaves as if they’re in a musical from Hollywood’s golden age. (Apple TV Plus, July 16, episodes weekly)
"The Demi Lovato Show" — The American pop singer tackles hot social topics alongside her celebrity guests in a collection of 10-minute talk show episodes. (The Roku Channel, July 30)
RETURNING SERIES: Canadian model Winnie Harlow joins the judges’ panel on a new season of Amazon Prime Video fashion competition "Making the Cut" (July 16). Over at Netflix, an avalanche of second seasons arrive, including off-kilter sketch comedy series "I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson" (July 6), Mindy Kaling’s semi-autobiographical "Never Have I Ever" (July 15) and teen sunken treasure thriller "Outer Banks" (July 30).
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 1, 2021.
David Friend, The Canadian Press