Sweet Tooth season one
TV, US, 2021 – out 4 June
In this bright and engaging adaptation of Jeff Lemire’s comic book, the introduction of a deadly virus that spreads across the world (ooh, topical!) coincides with the arrival of “hybrid” humans who are born with animal parts (ooh, cute!). Deer-boy Gus (Christian Convery) is one of them, hiding out with his father (Will Forte) in a national park before inevitably confronting the outside world, which has gone to the dogs.
Traditional currency has been replaced by tokens, for instance, and some people – such as Dr Singh (Adeel Akhtar) are pretending to live normal lives in a community in which it is now socially acceptable to wrap infected people in plastic and torch them. Featuring impressive world-building and beautiful cinematography with big, rich, creamy colours, light and dark combine in a series that – like the best family productions – evokes the adult in the child and the child in the adult.
Feel Good season two
TV, UK, 2021 – out 4 June
Written, produced and starring Canadian comedian Mae Martin, who plays a version of herself, the first season of this very bingeable London-set series begins with Mae going on a date with the only person, George (Charlotte Ritchie), who laughed during her recent set. Jumping forward in time, the show pivots around their romantic relationship and contemplates aspects of their lives, such as Mae’s narcotics addiction.
Feel Good is a modest dialogue-heavy series with a rough-hewn quality that works in its favour; it feels utterly genuine. The laugh-out-loud moments have a way of taking you by surprise, and its unprepossessing vibe will, I hope, carry over into the second season.
Film, US, 2020 – out 16 June
There are two kinds of people in this world: those who don’t understand Tenet and those who pretend they understand Tenet. Featuring grand moments of heavy spectacle, as is his wont, Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi is deeply pretentious and inaccessibly plotted, with, to boot, well-known sound issues, which had me constantly straining towards the TV – trying and failing to understand what the characters were saying.
Arriving in the thick of the pandemic-infused mushroom cloud of 2020, Tenet was an “event” movie utterly in sync with the zeitgeist – in that it, like the year around it, was a crushing disappointment. At least on Netflix you won’t feel robbed of your money. Also screening on Binge.
Honourable mentions: Breaking Boundaries: the Science of Our Planet (film, 4 June); Awake (film, 9 June), Skater Girl (film, 11 June), Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (film, 13 June); Black Summer season two (TV, 17 June); Fatherhood (film, 18 June), Prime Time (film, 30 June)
Eden season one
TV, 2021, Australia – out 11 June
Stan’s new original series does the “garden paradise gone wrong” thing, with the most on-the-nose title imaginable. Shot in Byron Bay and the northern rivers region of New South Wales, it has a summery shampoo commercial look and no shortage of attractive young stars.
The drama hangs around the difficult-to-read drug dealer Hedwig (BeBe Bettencourt), who is a dangerous presence and a bit of a dark horse – trouble has a habit of following her. The story involves drugs, missing people and quite a lot of loafing around – in other words, a fairly standard weekend from my 20s.
I’m Not There
Film, 2007, US/Germany – out 10 June
With Bob Dylan having recently turned 80, devotees of his Royal Bobness can mark the occasion by revisiting Todd Haynes’s suitably idiosyncratic 2007 sort-of biopic, starring a handful of actors playing variations of the great poet laureate – including Christian Bale, Heath Ledger and, most strikingly, Cate Blanchett, who alone is worth the proverbial price of admission.
Skirting between representations of various stages of Dylan’s career (including his combative press conferences and his transition to electric guitar) there is little to hold on to in this slippery and intentionally patchy film, which sees itself as a kind of funhouse mirror reflecting aspects of its subject’s life, aspiring for creative “truth” rather than anything factual. For more Dylan goodness, track down a copy of the 2003 dystopian drama Masked and Anonymous, starring and co-written (under a pseudonym) by Bob himself.
Honourable mentions: Killing Eve (TV, 1 June), Moonlight, The Big Sick (films, 1 June); This Is Port Adelaide (film, 4 June); Stranger than Fiction (film, 8 June); The Ninth Gate (film, 9 June); I am Bolt (film, 11 June); The Sum of Us, 1408 (films, 12 June); The Republic of Sarah (TV, 15 June); The Mist (film, 16 June); Logan Lucky (film, 22 June); Requiem for a Dream (film, 23 June); Death Proof (film, 25 June); Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo, Paper Giants: Magazine Wars (TV, 25 June)
Amazon Prime Video
Film, US, 2014 – out 15 June
“Not quite my tempo!” Who could forget JK Simmons’ Oscar-winning performance as a cantankerous teacher at a prestigious music school, where a 19-year-old drummer (Miles Teller) will do anything to succeed, including bleeding all over his drum set? Simmons surely interpreted the role as an opportunity to transport the vein-bulging rage of the drill sergeant from Full Metal Jacket into a film about the pursuit of artistic greatness. Why not warm up for it by revisiting this classic sequence, featuring dialogue such as “you’re rushing”, “you’re dragging” and “why do you suppose I just hurled a chair at your head?”
Head Above Water
TV, Australia, 2021 – out 4 June
Prime Video has previously explored Australian sporting prowess on the cricket ground (The Test: A New Era for Australia’s Team) and the footy field (Making their Mark). Now they dip their toes into the swimming pool, looking at pressures encountered in the world of elite swimming – drawing on the careers of athletes including Ian Thorpe, Bronte Campbell and Kyle Chalmers. Thorpe in particular has previously spoken lucidly about his struggles with mental health.
Honourable mentions: Jurassic Park 1, 2 and 3, The Dish (films, 1 June); Pixels (film, 10 June); Almost Famous, Ricki and the Flash, The Wolf of Wall Street, Our Friend (films, 15 June); Freaky (film, 24 June); Antebellum (film, 30 June)
Betty season 2
TV, US, 2021 – out 12 June
The first season of Betty had energy and sass from the get-go, following the titular character and her skater girl friends as they hang out, chew the fat and grind and flip a-plenty during summer in New York. It’s sprinkled with graceful visual touches; for instance, I love the creative ways the show displays its title – including through graffiti in the first episode and letters written using ice-cream in the second. The acting, writing, direction has a coolness that seems totally effortless, which of course makes it even cooler. The crew (including director ) return for another six episodes.
TV, US, 2021 – out 3 June
A rare example of an American network TV show that features a predominantly Asian cast, this martial arts series remakes the popular 70s show of the same name, famously starring David Carradine as a half-white, half-Chinese monk. Now the lead is Asian American actor Olivia Liang, who plays Nicky Shen, a law school dropout cum vigilante who fights gangsters in San Francisco in an attempt to clean up the streets.
Honourable mentions: The Wolf of Wall Street (film, 1 June); Oslo (film, 2 June); Breeders season 2 (TV, 3 June); Kill Bill vol 1 and vol 2 (films, 4 June); Doubt (film, 12 June); Tenet (film, 16 June, also on Netflix); The Secret Garden (film, 18 June); Clerks (film, 20 June); Lord of the Rings trilogy (film, 24 June)
SBS On Demand
The Unusual Suspects
TV, Australia, 2021 – out 3 June
Described by SBS as “the first major representation of Filipino-Australians on Australian television”, this female-led series from creator Jessica Redenbach is a tough one to get a grip on tonally: as a drama it can be quite funny; as a comedy it’s pretty serious. It’s also a crime story involving the theft of a very expensive necklace. I’m two episodes in and the elements haven’t quite synched yet – though it’s enjoyable and the characters are growing on me. They include Sara “I’m goopier than Gwyneth” Beasley (Miranda Otto), a love-to-hate influencer, and her family’s long-suffering nanny Evie (Aina Dumlao).
The Infinite Man
Film, Australia, 2014 – out 1 June
Writer/director Hugh Sullivan’s terrifically written and directed chamber piece – a wonderfully demented and emotionally upfront time-travel romcom – never quite got the kudos it deserved, though I certainly sang its praises. A lovesick scientist Dean (Josh McConville) invents a time travelling device to try to recreate the perfect weekend away with his girlfriend Lana (Hannah Marshall). Things don’t go to plan, however, resulting in multiple versions of themselves (plus Alex Dimitriades as Lana’s ex-boyfriend) stumbling around a decrepit hotel in the middle of nowhere, with varying degrees of comprehension as to the, shall we say, unique nature of their circumstances.
Honourable mentions: Burning Man, Yoga Hosers, Dredd (film, 1 June); Halt and Catch Fire, seasons one to four, Guilt, Red Light (TV, 10 June); Animal Kingdom (film, 11 June); Taxi Driver (film, 12 June); The Act (TV, 17 June); Alex & Eve (film, 17 June); Jindabyne (film, 18 June); Paris Police 1900 (TV, 24 June)
TV, Australia, 2021 – out 13 June
After three TV movies and two series, released in 2016 and 2018, Guy Pearce reprises his role as one of Australian television’s all-time greatest gumshoes for a final hurrah. The down-in-the-mouth detective is called in to surveil a shady character after an off-duty police officer is gunned down at a burger joint in Coburg, Melbourne. The job will be “a piece of piss, even for you”, according to Shane Jacobson’s pie-eating cop Barry, but of course the opposite is true, the plot soon plonking him into various life-threatening scenarios. This classic Australian series has been a class act from the beginning, buoyed up by tight and twisty scripts, a cracking pace and Pearce’s irresistible performance.
TV, UK, 2021 – out 23 June
What a delight! Those words apply equally to New Zealand comedian Rose Matafeo (recently on screens in Baby Done) and to her new show itself, a moreish six-part series that teases out a “will they or won’t they” romantic premise over its entire arc. In the first episode Jessie (Matafeo), who lives in east London with her bestie Kate (Emma Sidi), has a one-night stand with a man, Tom (Nikesh Patel), who she subsequently realises is a massive movie star.
The tension between them – sexual and otherwise – feels totally genuine: a result of strongly written and performed characters who are very relatable (even Tom). There are several laugh-out-loud moments and you really, really want the two leads to get together. Director Karen Maine and her writers also make an interesting point: that finding true love isn’t just about locating the “right” person but also encountering them during accommodating circumstances.
Honourable mentions: Sherpa (film, 1 June), Hinterland, London Spy, Fresh Meat seasons 1-4 (TV, 1 June); Superwog season 2 (TV, 13 June); Finding the Archibald (TV, 15 June); Black Mirror season 4 (TV, 26 June)
TV, US, 2021 – out 9 June
After conquering blockbuster cinema a new deluge of Marvel Cinematic Universe TV shows has well and truly begun, with Loki arriving after The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and WandaVision, and before Hawkeye and Ms Marvel. Tom Hiddleston plays the titular character – Thor’s impish adopted brother, who is the “God of Mischief” – in a series that takes place after the events in Avengers: Endgame, involving time travel and alternate realities.
Film, US, 2021 – out 18 June
Any new film from Pixar is a cultural event – and of particular interest when they’re original properties (rather than sequels). Based in a picturesque seaside town on the Italian Riviera, Luca is a characteristically glossy and tactile-looking animation about a young boy who is actually a sea monster, pretending to be human. So: another story about an otherworldly whippersnapper trying to fit in with boring old humans (see also: Pinocchio, Ponyo and this month’s Sweet Tooth).
Honourable mentions: Raya and the Last Dragon (film, 4 June); Love Simon (film, 11 June); The Simpsons season 31, Love, Victor season 2 (TV, 18 June); The Mysterious Benedict Society, Pride (TV, 25 June), Wolfgang (film, 25 June)