KEEP AN EYE OUT
A Wes Anderson sci-fi, the Encounters Film Festival and more
Here is our non-exhaustive list of films and series to look out for in June on Netflix, Showmax, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+, Disney+ and in cinemas.
Encounters South African International Documentary Festival
After three years the festival has fully returned to live screenings, which will take place in a variety of theatres in Cape Town and Johannesburg from 22 June to 2 July 2023. Tickets are available on the official festival website. The catalogue this year includes several high-profile international releases such as the Oscar-nominated masterpiece All That Breathes, the Sundance Award-winning 20 Days in Mariupol, Seven Winters in Tehran and Merkel.
Quirky new releases
Asteroid City: 16 June in cinemas
If you’ve seen one of his movies, you’ve seen them all, and yet it never gets old. Deadpan humour, symmetrical sets, a retro soundtrack, a primary-pastel colour palette and a cast of familiar actors, some of which are even more famous than Wes Anderson himself. The auteur’s style has become so formulaic and recognisable that it’s become a popular AI video meme to apply the Wes Anderson treatment to other franchises. His filmography essentially does the same thing but with movie tropes – this time we get an Anderson-style sci-fi (with a dash of romantic comedy, of course) set in the Fifties in a fictional American desert town.
I’m a Virgo: 23 June on Prime Video
A sharp, quirky, absurdist comedy series about a gentle American teenager who escapes from his quiet life where he’s been kept sheltered from the world due to his inexplicably being a whopping 4m tall. Apart from the visual comedy of his enormity, the series is blessed by the sly satirical genius of creator Boots Riley (Sorry to Bother You) and the edgy lovability of Emmy-winning lead actor Jharrel Jerome (When They See Us).
Your next binge-watch
Mrs Davis: 1 June on Showmax
Sassy Nun vs omnipotent AI. Don’t pretend that doesn’t sound like a fun set-up. Betty Gilpin (Gaslit, Glow) plays a nun thoroughly gatvol with our increasing dependence on technology and hellbent on destroying “Mrs. Davis”, the world’s most powerful artificial intelligence program. Co-created by three-time Emmy winner Damon Lindelof (Watchmen) and writer Tara Hernandez (The Big Bang Theory), this unplaceable showdown between spirituality and tech has a charmingly batshit-crazy tone.
A Town Called Malice: 2 episodes on 9 June, then weekly on Showmax
Romance, obsession, violence, deceit and swagger – everything you could ask for in a crime thriller/family saga. This high-octane neon Western is a musical love letter to the Eighties following the Lords family, South London gangsters for whom “fallen from grace” doesn’t seem like the right term for their grimy descent. Following a gangland battle that doesn’t go their way, they flee to Spain to put some distance between themselves and their criminal rivals, only to realise that this forced vacation is an opportunity to reinvent themselves and rise to their former “glory”.
Arnold: 7 June
The Terminator is getting his Netflix docu-tribute. Schwarzenegger is one of those actors who’s so out there and meme-worthy that the line between ridicule and admiration has blurred into harmless, ambiguous affection. For example, most people were more entertained that he was elected governor of California than they were pleased or upset. This three-part series hopes to skew that legacy towards respect for anyone curious enough to decide to watch it. It chronicles his journey from the countryside of Austria to the highest echelons of the American dream, with interviews from Schwarzenegger, his co-stars, friends and foes.
Eldorado: Everything the Nazis Hate: 28 June
This documentary tells the story of a decadent nightclub you would never have thought could have existed – Eldorado. Hidden in plain sight in Berlin in the late Golden Twenties, it was a hedonistic oasis where gay, lesbian and trans people danced cheek-to-cheek with the rich and powerful, many of whom wore Nazi uniforms. The film uses re-enactments and archival footage to tell the stories of the last generation of first-person witnesses to this early LGBT movement in a house of self-expression and political contradictions.
Spiderman: Across the Spiderverse: 2 June in cinemas
In 2018, Spiderman: Into The Spiderverse electrified the theatrical animation industry – it took enormous risks with its gorgeously stylised, chaotic art style; bridged the mainstream appeal of Marvel movies with the flexibility of animation; turned Spiderman black; and became one of the few non-Disney/Pixar films to win Best Animated Feature at the Academy Awards. The sequel doesn’t benefit from the shock factor of those qualities, but it has still come out swinging, is just as epic and just as refreshing and personal a take on the superhero genre. Full review here.
Elemental: 16 June in cinemas
In a world inhabited by anthropomorphic elements of nature, a fire elemental and water elemental fall in love and try to make their unprecedented relationship work despite their inability to touch one another and the disapproval of their friends and family. There are two-and-a-half interesting things about Disney’s latest big hitter: the character design is beautiful; (think Inside Out but less obvious) this is the most romantically focused an A-list Disney has ever risked being; (although they did pick a particularly tame trope with the whole star-crossed lovers thing); and the fantastic Thomas Newman created the score (that’s the half, because this is the fifth Disney-Pixar film he’s done). Otherwise, Elemental is a paint-by-numbers, family-friendly crowd-pleaser.
New seasons of old favourites
Black Mirror S6: 15 June
It’s The Twilight Zone of the modern age – if you have Netflix or a stomach for the spooky, you’ve heard of it. For a while during the pandemic it seemed creator Charlie Brooker had had enough of stories of society falling apart, but the renowned dystopian science fiction anthology series is back with more cautionary tales of emerging technologies. The series is fun for the whole family, assuming your whole family is thick-skinned and over the age of 18. To be clear, this will give your children nightmares. It’s creepy and cynical to the core; but it’s also edgy, experimental, insightful and satirically brilliant.
The Grand Tour: Eurocrash: 16 June on Prime Video
At 63, Jeremy Clarkson, the hilarious and controversial television tycoon and farmer, is setting out with James May and Richard Hammond across Eastern Europe in all manner of inconvenient vehicles, from a Japanese Al Capone gangster car to a pick-up/convertible, to a 75-year-old American micro-mini. It seems the only thing that could stop the gang from their insane motoring antics is an assault by an army of actual archers, which is among the many self-imposed challenges they set themselves this season.
The Witcher S3: 29 June on Netflix
Based on a franchise of novels and a video game series, much of The Witcher’s appeal comes from Henry Cavill’s portrayal of the stoic monster-slaying protagonist, a man of very few words (he occasionally says “f***”, but mostly he just grunts) whose chiselled abs are sharper than his sword. This raunchy, violent spectacle of primal entertainment, peppered with blunt humour and erratic, unpredictable plot pieces became one of Netflix’s most popular shows of all time in 2020, but season 2 in 2021 was a mixed bag, and the spinoff series released in late 2022 is notoriously unwatchable. This year is the franchise’s last chance to save face – season 3 may return to the no-nonsense action-adventure and fantasy world-building of the first, or it could just as easily get caught in the rambling rut of its cash-grab spinoffs.
To keep your heart rate up
Horisonne: 2 June on Showmax
In this Afrikaans-language psychological thriller, a therapist learns her ex-lover has founded a mindfulness estate which seems to be covertly brainwashing young people under the veil of its spiritual rhetoric. Among the cult’s disciples is her estranged 18-year-old daughter. Think Devilsdorp but new age and streamlined. Directed by Safta winner André Velts and written by Wessel Pretorius, it stars Safta winner Elma Postma opposite former Boo! frontman Chris Chameleon, reuniting on screen 17 years after their bittersweet romantic storyline on 7de Laan as Dezi and Liam.
The Crowded Room: 9 June on Apple TV+
Tom Holland has been working on his “not just the Spiderman” roles for a few years, but neither The Devil All the Time nor Cherry were quite received as the breakout performances he was hoping they would be. This is his first stab at television – he’s taking on a new character type and also serving as executive producer. Set in 1979, he plays a man who winds up arrested on suspicion of murder. Upon investigating his past it becomes clear that culpability is juicily complicated.
The Fear Index: Weekly from 23 June on Showmax
“Humans act in very predictable ways when they’re frightened.” “And we’ve only gone and found a way to make money out of it.” If that idea is ringing any bells (those of Bell Pottinger in particular) you’re on the right track. This psychological thriller miniseries is based on the bestselling novel by Robert Harris about the 2010 Flash Crash. It stars Josh Hartnett (Die Hart) as a tech genius who faces the worst 24 hours of his life when he realises he is the focal point of a plot to destroy the world’s financial markets.
Hijack: 28 June onApple TV+
Co-created by George Kay (Lupin) this fast-paced thriller-drama miniseries, told in real time, is about a hijacked plane on its way to London. Idris Elba (Luther, Beast) stars as an accomplished negotiator scrambling to save the lives of those on board. Each episode covers another hour of the flight from the perspective of Elba’s character, the counterterrorism specialists he’s working with and several of the hostages in the air.
In case you missed it
If you didn’t manage to catch them on the big screen, now’s your chance to watch them at home:
Also on our radar
The Fallout: 1 June Showmax
The Idol: 5 June on Showmax
A new HBO Original fresh from its world premiere at Cannes, starring Lily-Rose Depp as a fallen-from-grace popstar after a public nervous breakdown, and co-starring South African-born pop singer Troye Sivan. The show is co-directed by Sam Levinson (Euphoria), Reza Fahim and Abel Tesfaye, aka “The Weeknd”, who also co-stars.
Flamin’ Hot: 9 June on Disney +
A biopic about Richard Montañez (played by Jesse Garcia), the Mexican American janitor who turned Flamin’ Hot Cheetos into a pop-culture sensation.
The Full Monty: 14 June on Disney+
Twenty-five years after the original British comedy-drama, this series reboot follows the band of brothers as they navigate the post-industrial city of Sheffield and society’s crumbling healthcare, education and employment sectors. DM
You can contact Keep An Eye Out via [email protected]