AMERICAN VANDAL (S2)
A second season of Netflix’s faux true crime documentary has the team attempting to get to the bottom (no pun intended) of a new school campus mystery. The goal is the unmasking of the “Turd Burglar”, a mysterious prankster who perpetrated an event known as the “brownout”. To go into the details of this atrocity on a family website like Stuff would be impossible, but let’s just say it involves the messy results of mass food poisoning.
Fans of true crime docs and podcasts will delight in this well-crafted parody of their tropes, from the talking heads interviews to the cliffhanger bombshell endings of each episode.
BOJACK HORSEMAN (S5)
Having established itself as one of Netflix’s most beloved originals series, BoJack Horseman is back for its fifth season. Set in a zany version of Hollywood where humans live alongside anthropomorphic animals, the show follows the struggles of a former TV star – literally a horse man – who’s now fallen on hard times. It boasts a superb cast (Will Arnett, Amy Sedaris, Aaron Paul and Alison Brie) and strong writing, and with five seasons now available it's perfect fodder for a weekend binge-watch blowout.
A brand new Netflix Original sci-fi series from True Detective co-creator Cary Joji Fukunaga, Maniac stars Emma Stone and Jonah Hill as emotionally damaged strangers who, desperately seeking solace from their tortured psyches, enter an experimental drug programme.
This trial plunges the pair’s minds into fantastical situations, each designed to force them into facing down their fears – but as you can probably guess, things don’t quite go to plan. It’s powerful, mind-bending stuff, and its alternative history recreation of modern day New York is a triumph of visual flair.
When a brilliant surgeon loses his ability to operate following a motor accident, he desperately seek a cure – and turns to what might charitably be called “alternative medicine” as a result. What he discovers (and eventually joins) is an ancient order of magic-wielding warrior monks dedicated to the protection of our planet against malevolent otherworldly sources.
If you’ve seen any of the other Marvel Cinematic Universe films (and let’s face it, it’s almost impossible to avoid them these days), you’ll know the drill: this is Doctor Strange’s origin story, essentially, and sets him up ahead of his role in Avengers: Infinity War. Even so, it’s a riveting, rollicking and visually stunning superhero tale in its own right, with Benedict Cumberbatch impressing as the prickly, arrogant Stephen Strange.
HOLD THE DARK
As cold and bleak as its Alaskan setting, this gloomy, complex movie from Green Roomdirector Jeremy Saunier stars Jeffrey Wright, typically understated, as a writer and naturalist called out to a remote town by a desperate young mother (Riley Keough). A pack of wolves has taken her son, and two other local children previously, and she wants this wolf expert to track them down and kill them.
What initially seems like a fairly straightforward thriller quickly takes an unforeseen turn when the boy’s father, played by a terrifying Alexander Skarsgard, arrives back home from the war in Iraq, and Saunier’s talents for directing shocking violence and building dread come to the fore. Hold the Dark is brutal, beautiful, brooding and often opaque; it’s not for everyone. But those who like their movies involving, subtle and horrifying will find plenty to admire.
More Archer! Yes, the world’s smoothest, sarkiest and most self-obsessed spy has returned to Netflix for the animated show’s ninth and penultimate series – a spin-off set in an alternative world from the original series but retaining the same voice cast (the reason, apparently, is that it’s actually taking place in the present day Archer’s head while he’s in a coma – but you don’t need to worry about that).
This eight-episode series, dubbed “Danger Island”, opens in 1938 on the mysterious Pacific island of Mitimotu, a jungle packed with hungry cannibals, deadly beasts and decadent colonial types. In other words, the perfect location for an Archer adventure.
TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE
Another of this month’s big Netflix original movies, this brisk and breezy teen rom-com makes for a welcome antidote from the usual gross-out fare or gloomy sci-fi epics.
Based on the popular young adult novel by Jenny Han, it tells the story of a sensible, reserved high school girl whose life is turned upside down when the secret love letters she’s written to her crushes – never intended to be sent – end up in said crushes’ hands. Aside from the crippling embarrassment, the main issue is that one of the boys is her sister’s ex, sparking off a series of events that include subterfuge, jealousy, heartbreak, self-discovery and, yes, true love. Ahhhh.
OUT OF THIN AIR
This feature length BBC documentary provides a fascinating look into a pair of deaths in 1970s Iceland, or more precisely into the way that the authorities – who had never faced the sort of media pressure the crimes provoked – secured convictions against the alleged murderers.
Fans of true crime will lap up this true tale of dodgy confessions, mysterious disappearances and the portrait of a tiny country (in 1974 the population was just 215,000) losing its innocence – plus it even has a brief cameo from Icelandic legend Björk as a little girl.
Matt Groening’s Netflix animated series has arrived and… it’s not bad! While those hoping for a return to the glory days of early series of The Simpsons or Futurama might find this medieval fantasy series a tad underwhelming – it certainly plays it safe rather than attempts anything radical or groundbreaking – it’s still an enjoyable, witty, sight gag-filled romp through the genre, mocking its tropes while delivering a decent story about a misfit princess and her equally misfit demon and elf companions.
Unlike Groening’s previous shows, Disenchantment follows a multi-episode arc, with 10 episodes now available to stream as “part one” of the first season; the second part will be released at a later date.
WE’RE THE MILLERS
If you're sweating about how you’e going to smuggle an RV full of weed over the US border before Trump’s able to build his wall, this American comedy has a few pointers for you.
Jason Sudeikis’ character – a small-time marijuana dealer – assembles a fake family to join him on his drug smuggling trip as a way of fooling border control. But with his wife being a penniless stripper, the daughter a homeless teenager and the son a painfully awkward adolescent, this dysfunctional crew is about as good as Kanye West at keeping a low profile.
The Millers are capable of inducing a few laughs if cringe-worthy comedy is your thing, though. And they’ll make you feel much better about your own family.