Keep an eye out
On your screens this month: Superhero satires, social justice doccies, American comedies and more
Maverick Life’s pick of films and series to look out for in June 2022 on Netflix, Showmax, Apple TV+, Prime Video, Mubi, Britbox, and at the upcoming Encounters Documentary Festival.
Encounters South African International Documentary Festival: 23 June to 3 July
The 24th edition of Encounters is hosting both virtual and in-person screenings this year, and will feature humanitarian and social justice centred films such as Navalny and Summer Of Soul (Or When The Revolution Could Be Televised), hard-hitting thriller-doccies, and several uplifting music-themed doccies such as The Conductor and Cesária Évora.
Borgen – Power and Glory: 2 June
Borgen — Power and Glory is a sequel to the Danish political drama television series Borgen (available on Netflix) about a minor centrist politician, Birgitte Nyborg Christensen (played by Sidse Babett Knudsen) who against tremendous odds, becomes the first female prime minister of Denmark. The show is thrilling without ever resorting to hyperbolic gimmicks and has been praised for insight into the struggle for political power and what that does to people. In the new series, Birgitte Nyborg has just been appointed minister for foreign affairs when a drilling company discovers oil in Greenland. Thus ensues a political battle for the Arctic — a highly relevant parable in the context of our climate crisis.
Hustle: 8 June
Adam Sandler stars in a sometimes-funny sports drama as a down on his luck basketball scout who discovers an exceptional player with a hard past and brings him to America to attempt to make it in the NBA. Produced by Sandler and superstar LeBron James, the film plays to both Sandler’s experience in sports comedies from the 90s and his recent success in serious roles like Uncut Gems, where he showcases his knack for wheeler-dealer charisma.
Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey: 8 June
Emmy and Peabody Award-winning filmmaker Rachel Dretzin directs an unsettling four-part documentary series investigating the secretive polygamous sect of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS). In 2008, law enforcement agents took over 400 children into custody after a dramatic raid at the Yearning for Zion Ranch in West Texas revealed shocking evidence of wide-scale sexual, physical and psychological abuse. Featuring never-before-seen archival footage and personal accounts from survivors who escaped the clutches of the cult, it is yet another cautionary tale about the terrifying power of religious indoctrination and tyranny of information.
Trees of Peace: 10 June
A survival drama based on true events about four women from different backgrounds who are trapped together while hiding during the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. It’s a heartfelt story of perseverance and sisterhood in the shadow of terrifying cruelty, a little formulaic, but also sincere and moving.
A six-part anthology series about Internet misinformation and digital deception. Each episode tells a dark true tale of ordinary Americans caught in a different strand of a chaotic reality-warping web. “SWATing”, takes a chilling trip down the rabbit hole of white supremacy, joins a Federal hunt for the suspect of a brazen IRS heist and investigates a murder set against the backdrop of Russian election interference.
Peacemaker: 1 June
Ex-WWE wrestler John Cena stars as a jingoistic sort of superhero killing for peace. This spin-off series of Suicide Squad is more fun and fleshed out than either of the B-rate movies, and the only interesting DC-comics related live-action production since Joker and Watchmen in 2019 (both also on Showmax). Zack Snyder’s Justice League is also coming to their catalogue on 16 June – do we care? Probably not.
Station 11: 1 June
An HBO miniseries adaption of the post-apocalyptic dystopian science fiction bestseller, centred on the survivors of a fictional pandemic. The book was published before Covid-19 and the series was produced afterwards, leading to some strange comparisons with the pandemic we’re currently living through. The series has a split timeline, taking place during both the early days of the pandemic and 20 years later.
A documentary contextualising race relations in Britain during the 60s and 70s by examining how protest against apartheid in South Africa mobilised a movement that paved the way for inclusion in the UK. Produced by Oscar-winner Sir Steve McQueen (Small Axe) and James Rogan (Putin: A Russian Spy Story).
Uprising: 1 June
A three-part miniseries (also from McQueen Rogan) about three connected events of 1981 which were turning points in UK racial politics: The New Cross House Fire, in which 13 young black people were killed, the Black People’s Day of Action which was set up in the aftermath of the fire and the Brixton Riots.
John Lewis: Good Trouble: 1 June
An in-depth profile of US congressman and social activist John Lewis’s six-decade career of social activism, following his death in 2020.
John and the Hole: 13 June
A chillingly relevant psychodrama about a disturbed adolescent boy who traps his family in a bunker in the woods near his home. Charlie Shotwell the talented young actor of Nest and Captain Fantastic embodies a “mild-mannered” child whose quiet contemplation stretches out just the right moments to allude to his psychopathy. The screenplay, written by Nicolás Giacobone of Birdman, is a darker than usual coming of age story which reflects the alienation of young people in an increasingly overstimulated world.
The Card Counter: 23 June
Oscar Isaac stars as William Tell, who taught himself how to count cards over eight years in military imprisonment. He’s no Rain Man — his strategy and cunning extend past the gambling itself; he has rules. Bet small, win modestly, stay away from casino hotels and don’t attract any attention. But when the ghosts of his tortured past start catching up with him, he begins taking risks.
Physical (season 2): 3 June
Set in San Diego in the early eighties, this dark comedy stars Rose Byrne as a charming, self-serving housewife-turned-iconic aerobics instructor who will stop at nothing to expand her exercise empire. Her mocking, often self-detrimental voiceovers give a front seat to her manipulative inner thoughts.
For All Mankind (season 3): 10 June
The third season of this underrated sci-fi epic tumbles even further into the black hole of its fascinating parallel universe. The series begins during the space race in an alternative history in which the Soviet Union beat the United States to the moon. Rather than giving up and defunding Nasa, America doubles down, investing in ambitious missions that they would never otherwise have attempted (and didn’t). As the series slowly catches up to modern day, its technology has already surpassed our own, and the sights are set on Mars.
Cha Cha Real Smooth: 17 June
The witty, esoteric title of this indie film is unlikely to make any sense to you unless you went to bar mitzvahs in the 2000s, where the dance along song Cha-Cha Slide was practically an obligatory anthem. Cooper Raiff writes, directs and stars in a feel-good film about a 22-year old fresh out of college, living with his family in New Jersey and trying to figure his life out. He carves out a niche for himself energising awkward preadolescent kids at bar and bat mitzvahs, but he only truly begins to understand who he wants to be when he befriends one of his little brother’s classmates and her mother (Dakota Johnson).
Home (season 2): 17 June
This docuseries shows off groundbreaking and flashy home architecture all over the world, interviewing their visionary architects about reimagining the concept of a home and the practical challenges to breaking the social conventions attached to it. If you’ve ever found yourself drooling over stylish living spaces on Pinterest, this one’s for you.
DI Ray: 9 June
Twenty years after her breakout role as a young British Indian footballer in Bend It Like Beckham, Parminder Nagra tackles identity politics yet again as the eponymous DI Ray in this investigative crime thriller. When she gets assigned to a murder investigation classified as a CSH “culturally specific homicide” she must come to terms with having been assigned based on her ethnicity rather than merit, a theme which has relevance to Nagra’s own career.
Richard Hammond’s Workshop: 23 June
Richard Hammond, bazillionaire car buff and easily the most likable of the daredevil goofball trio of Top Gear and Grand Tour, launches his newest venture — a high-end restoration business for rare classic automobiles and motorcycles. While Top Gear’s popularity rode primarily on insane scripted high-budget stunts, this reality TV series focuses more on the actual cars, which include a rally-prepared Mini Cooper, a tuk-tuk and Elton John’s Porsche.
Have A Nice Day: Showing now
It’s impossible to talk about this edgy, highly stylised film with its intersecting stories of small-time criminals without mentioning Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction. Director Liu Jian’s second feature film is a Chinese animated dark comedy neo-noir about a driver who robs a million dollars from his boss to fix his girlfriend’s failed plastic surgery. Once the word is out, he’s simultaneously pursued by a hitman, a gangster and a robber — everyone’s after the money. The resulting chaos is every bit as quirky and inspired as Tarantino’s cult classic.
The Boys (season 3): June 3
All of Amazon’s hopes for June ride on the third long-awaited season of their satirical dystopian superhero series. The Boys is a violent and irreverent thought experiment taking the fantastical superheroes that have dominated pop culture since Superman and transposing them onto the ruthless politics of a capitalist world. It’s become a popular concept in recent years, spear-headed by an excellent HBO series remake of the groundbreaking 1980s comic Watchmen (You can watch the 2019 series on Showmax). The Boys is one of the best of that genre, with black comedy, scathing social commentary and great CGI action for the fanboys. DM/ ML
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In case you missed it, also read ‘‘The Northman’ in theatres – Vikings reinvented’