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On your screens in November: Ridley Scott’s Napoleon biopic, a historical show with Loyiso Gola, and more

On your screens in November: Ridley Scott’s Napoleon biopic, a historical show with Loyiso Gola, and more
There's loads to keep an eye out for on our screens in November

Our non-exhaustive list of films and series to look out for in November on streaming sites, DSTV and in cinemas.


Music is My Life – Selected as South Africa’s submission for the Academy Awards

This is the first time a documentary has been chosen since 1989, when South Africa began submitting films for nomination in the International Feature Film category in the Annual Academy Awards. Directed by Carolyn Carew and Mpumi “Supa” Mbele, the film shines a spotlight on the legendary Joseph Shabalala, Ladysmith Mambazo’s frontman, from his rural upbringing to international fame and renown, and his death in 2020. Look out for official nominations for the 96th Annual Academy Awards to be announced on 23 January 2024. 

Why Does Everyone Hate the British Empire: Saturdays on The History Channel, DSTV 186

In this new four-part series, British comedian Al Murray travels to India, Australia, Jamaica and South Africa and pairs up with a local comedian in each, to explore the history of British colonial rule in that country and its legacy. On Al’s road trip across South Africa, he’s accompanied by local comedian Loyiso Gola. It’s as funny as it is heartbreaking.

On The Line: The Richard Williams Story: Full season on Showmax from 24 November

With five Olympic gold medals, 30 Grand Slam singles championships and 150 titles to their names, Venus and Serena Williams changed the face of tennis forever. This documentary tells the story of the obsessive maverick who built their family’s sporting dynasty from nothing. Told in his own words, using interviews spanning from the 1980s through now, father and tennis coach Richard Williams retraces his family’s journey from the courts in Compton to the grass at Wimbledon, defying every custom of the lily-white tennis establishment and fighting back against its systems of oppression. His story was told emotively in the 2021 film King Richard, starring Will Smith (also available on Showmax), but having the input from the real deal as well as a host of tennis greats adds an entirely different appeal.

High-octane adult animation

Blue Eye Samurai: 3 November on Netflix

This visually exquisite cinematic series is animated with a live-action edge. Set in Edo-period Japan, it follows Mizu (voiced by Maya Erskine), a mixed-race master of the sword who lives a life in disguise seeking the deliverance of revenge. The show is not suitable for younger viewers – the political plotline of the film progresses somewhat predictably, but the sword fights, gorgeously choreographed and artfully styled, are gratuitously violent.

Scott Pilgrim Takes Off: 17 November on Netflix

Based on (and animated in the style of) the brilliant graphic novels by Bryan Lee O’Malley, which were adapted into a cult movie starring Michael Cera, this new series follows Scott’s meeting the girl of his dreams, and then learning that being with her means having to defeat her seven evil exes. Fans have expressed some concern that Netflix has latched onto the ironically childlike elements of the comic, but Lee’s outlandish humour will ensure that it retains some of its edge. 


NYAD: 3 November on Netflix

Based on the true story of athlete Diana Nyad (played by Annette Bening), who, with the help of her best friend and coach (Jodie Foster), commits to achieving her life-long dream: a 177km open ocean swim from Cuba to Florida, at the age of 60, three decades after giving up marathon swimming. The onscreen rapport between Bening and Foster is outstanding. Bening does justice to the grit that defines her subject, and Foster has surely earned herself an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress.

Bank of Dave: 16 November on Showmax

A feelgood underdog comedy-drama based on the true-life experiences of self-made millionaire Dave Fishwick, a working-class van salesman from Lancashire, England, who decides to set up a small community bank only to be met by fierce resistance from London’s elitist finance authorities, which hadn’t granted a new bank licence for over 150 years. 

Napoleon: 22 November on Apple TV+ and 24 November in cinemas

Acclaimed science-fiction director Ridley Scott takes on the life story of a man who came from nothing, conquered everything and became one of the most well-known historical figures of all time. Practised character actor Joaquin Phoenix stars as the French Emperor, tasked with the challenge of not being overshadowed by Scott’s enormous sets. It’s a large-scale cinematic spectacle with a little bit of everything overflowing with the pomp and valour of empire. 

Human connection across the ether

Nuovo Olimpo: 1 November on Netflix

An eat-your-heart-out helping of romantic cinema. A chance meeting in the centre of a picturesque Rome of the 1970s, and it’s love at first sight for two beautiful young people. How comfortingly cliché. Except, of course, they’re both men. As quickly as they fall in love, they are separated by circumstance. Their love story is one of persistent hope from afar. The film leans into its sex appeal and the love story tropes it is obviously inspired by but successfully captures the dreamy storybook nostalgia which romantics wish for themselves.

All The Light We Cannot See: 2 November on Netflix

Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, this limited series follows the story of Marie-Laure, a blind French girl and her father, who flee German-occupied Paris with a legendary diamond to keep it from falling into the hands of the Nazis. Relentlessly pursued by a cruel Gestapo officer, they find refuge with a reclusive uncle who transmits clandestine radio broadcasts as part of the resistance. Through the ether, Marie-Laure’s voice reaches the unlikeliest of kindred spirits: a brilliant teenager enlisted by Hitler’s regime to track down illegal broadcasts, who instead shares a secret connection to Marie-Laure as well as her faith in humanity and the possibility of hope. Benefitting from a cast of big names and moving source material, there is a sincerity to the upliftment of this story of human connection.

To keep your heart rate up 

The Killer: 10 November on Netflix

A particularly austere David Fincher manhunt thriller based on a comic starring the dependable Michael Fassbender as an emotionally detached assassin who becomes the centre of an international battle with his employers. Almost the entire film is narrated by Fassbender’s character with an ice-cold feel that creates a more believable milieu than that of John Wick or Jason Bourne, but lacks personality.

A Spy Among Friends: Full season on Showmax from 17 November

An intricate Cold War spy thriller tracking the true events around one of the most infamous espionage scandals in UK history. A British intelligence officer is stunned to learn that his best friend and colleague has been secretly working as a double agent for the KGB since the 1930s. The excessive flashbacks and false-lead plot points can be a little confusing, but the dialogue is well-paced, essential for such a talky show; and the acting is impressive, especially that of the female performers. 

Something lighter

Lucky Hank: Full season on Showmax from 15 November

A dark comedy series based on Pulitzer Prize winner Richard Russo’s novel Straight Man, from the executive producers of Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, starring their long-time favourite funny guy, Bob Odenkirk. Odenkirk can play the likable curmudgeon as well as anyone out there. He portrays an English department chairman at an underfunded college, who toes the line between midlife crisis and full-blown meltdown, navigating the offbeat chaos in his personal and professional life and proving that tantrums get better with age. 

Squid Game – The Challenge: 22 November on Netflix

A large-scale reality TV series based on the brutal 2021 K-drama that became an unlikely record-shattering worldwide success in 2021. Four hundred and fifty-six real players enter the game in pursuit of a life-changing reward of $4.56 million. They compete through a series of games inspired by the original show – with a few surprising new additions, and just like in the show, they’ll need to build strong strategies and alliances if they hope to “survive” the game. DM

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