Best Movies/TV to Stream in June: ‘Perry Mason,’ New Spike Lee, Serial-Killer True Crime
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Here’s how June is supposed to work, entertainment-wise: multiplexes fill up with big, loud, expensive movies, and television scales back ambition in favor of low-risk, low-impact programming. But in 2020’s upside-down world of closed theaters and social distancing, the old rules don’t apply. Sure, you can tune into the Watt brothers playing an elaborate version of tag. But you can also watch: a potentially franchise-launching adaptation of a popular YA series on a streaming service; a documentary on Bruce Lee; new movies from Spike Lee and Judd Apatow; and a comedy about the European song competition starring Will Ferrell. All that and a new streaming service eager to make itself an essential part of viewers’ lives. Here are a dozen movies and TV shows you need to check in June.
Adventure Time: Distant Lands (HBO Max, June 25th)
The beloved Cartoon Network series drew to an end after 10 inventive seasons, but that didn’t mean we have to say goodbye to Jake the Dog, Finn the Human, and the rest of the gang forever. Adventure Time: Distant Lands reopens the gates to the Land of Ooo for four hourlong specials, each focusing on a different set of characters, starting with an episode that sends the robotic BMO into space. (Fans should probably take the “Distant Lands” subtitle seriously.)
Artemis Fowl (Disney+, June 12th)
A big-screen adaptation of Eoin Colfer’s novels about a boy genius has been in the works since 2001, only to hit one snag after another. When one finally did get made — directed by Kenneth Branagh and featuring a cast that includes everyone from Judi Dench to Josh Gad — the coronavirus made its proposed August release date look untenable. The solution: bring the story of our man Artemis Fowl II (Ferdia Shaw) and his fairy- and dwarf-filled search for his criminal-mastermind father (Colin Farrell) to Disney’s streaming service for entertainment-starved kids. (Watch with 7-day free trial to Disney+ here).
Be Water (ESPN, June 7th)
Combining revealing archival footage and interviews with those who knew the man best, Bao Nguyen’s documentary about the life of Bruce Lee wowed Sundance audiences this past January. Making its debut as part of ESPN’s 30 for 30 series, this portrait explores Lee’s short life and long legacy as a stereotype-shattering star who had to leave Hollywood to find fame on his own terms via martial arts movies that made him the hero instead of a white guy’s loyal sidekick. (Watch on ESPN+ here).
Da 5 Bloods (Netflix, June 12th)
Any new Spike Lee movie is an event. But an ambitious drama that sends a group of African American veterans back to Vietnam in an attempt to close the book on some unfinished business (and pick up some treasure)? That’s a mark-your-calendar-and-carve-out-the-night-in-advance occasion — especially when the cast includes Chadwick Boseman, Delroy Lindo, Clarke Peters, Jonathan Majors, and others. It also reunites the filmmaker with BlacKkKlansman co-writer Kevin Willmott, with whom Lee won a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar.
Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story (USA, June 2nd)
The problem with adapting a popular true-crime podcast into a TV series: What do you do when you run out of story to tell? For USA Network’s Dirty John, the solution has been simple: Keep the name, but cover a different crime. Hence, Season Two revisits the case of Betty Broderick, a woman convicted in the 1989 murders of her ex-husband and his new wife. The always-worth-watching Amanda Peet plays the scorned Broderick. She’s joined by Christian Slater and Rachel Keller, as the other points on the love triangle.
Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (Netflix, June 26nd)
A spectacle of thunderous music, bizarre costumes, and strange stagecraft, the annual Eurovision Song Contest would seem to defy any attempt to send it up. Enter Will Ferrell, who serves as co-writer and stars as Lars Erickssong, one half of the Icelandic team. Rachel McAdams co-stars as his musical partner, Sigrit Ericksdottir; Pierce Brosnan, Dan Stevens, and Demi Lovato are also on board, and, we assume, are sporting equally silly character names. So far we’ve only seen a teaser featuring the duo’s song, “Volcano Man,” but its images of an armor-clad Ferrell playing a keyboard against the backdrop of dramatic Icelandic scenery make the film look pretty irresistible.
I May Destroy You (HBO, June 7th)
The second autobiographically inspired series from Chewing Gum creator Michaela Coel finds the hyphenate playing Arabella, an acclaimed young writer who has to reassess every aspect of her life after being drugged and sexually assaulted in a nightclub — an experience that happened to the star while making that earlier series. Chewing Gum won Coel acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic by turning her experiences growing up in a strict Pentecostal home into sitcom fodder. From its topic to its title to its oblique trailer, everything about I May Destroy You suggests she’ll be taking a much darker approach here.
I’ll Be Gone in the Dark (HBO, June 28th)
True-crime writer Michelle McNamara dedicated years to tracking down and identifying the Golden State Killer, a serial killer, rapist, and thief active in California between 1974 and 1986. McNamara connected the dots between a lot of seemingly unconnected crimes, and her work helped lead to an arrest. Her untimely death in 2016, however, prevented her from seeing publication of her book or justice being served (the book was eventually completed and assembled with help from McNamara’s colleagues and husband, Patton Oswalt. Directed by Liz Garbus (Lost Girls), this six-part series both adapts the true-crime bestseller via an exploration of the case and pays tribute to the author.
Irresistible (VOD, June 26th)
What does it take to turn a red patch of America blue? That’s the question faced by Democratic strategist Gary Zimmer (Steve Carell). He thinks he’s found it in a retired Marine colonel (Chris Cooper), whom he decides to assist in his campaign to become mayor of a small Wisconsin town. The appearance of a Republican rival (Rose Byrne), however, assures Zimmer’s efforts won’t be as easy as he imagined. Jon Stewart’s second film as a director marks a return to political satire from the former host of The Daily Show — and recent events have made his decision to use the embattled, divided state of Wisconsin seem extra timely (and eerily prescient).
Love, Victor (Hulu, June 19th)
From the writers of Love, Simon — and apparently set in “the same world” as the 2018 movie, which means we’ve got ourselves a Love, Simoniverse! — this teen drama follows Victor (Michael Cimino), a new student who’s just transferred to Creekwood High in Atlanta from his hometown in Texas. In addition to acclimating to his new surroundings, the young man is also trying to figure out his sexuality … which becomes even more complicated when he lays eyes on Benji (George Sear). Luckily, he’s got a guardian angel who he can ask for advice. Guess who that is. (Hint: see the film title above.)
The King of Staten Island (On Demand, June 12th)
Pete Davidson plays Scott, a shiftless Staten Island twentysomething whose story is informed by Davidson’s own life and experiences as the son of a firefighter who died during 9/11. Marisa Tomei co-stars as Pete’s mother, who seems more interested in moving on with her life than her son is with his. Director Judd Apatow adds to his portfolio of arrested-development tales; here’s hoping he can do for the SNL star what he’s done for the previous generation of comedic freaks and geeks.
Perry Mason (HBO, June 21st)
Since debuting in 1931, Erle Stanley Gardner’s crime-solving defense attorney has appeared in more than 80 novels, a radio show, a handful of movies, and a couple of TV shows, most famously a long-running series starring Raymond Burr. This new HBO series takes the character back to his roots as a lawyer in 1932 Los Angeles, a city teeming with crime and intrigue. Originally conceived as a vehicle for Robert Downey Jr. (who remains on board as an executive producer), it now stars The Americans’ Matthew Rhys, in a role that promises nearly as much danger as his previous show, but, sadly, fewer opportunities to wear wigs. John Lithgow, Tatiana Maslany, and Juliet Rylance round out the all-star cast.
Search Party Season 3 (HBO Max, June 25th)
It’s been three years since fans of Search Party have had a chance to spend time with Alia Shawkat’s Dory and her aimless New York friends. But now the cult-favorite series — once found on TBS, and about to have a new home on HBO Max — returns for a third season. We don’t yet know much about what sort of mysteries and misadventures await in Season Three, but showrunners Charles Rogers and Sarah-Violet Bliss have suggested it could shift from mystery to legal thriller, and mentioned Gus Van Sant’s To Die For as a source of inspiration.
7500 (Amazon Prime, June 19th)
A commercial airline co-pilot (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is flying a Paris-to-Berlin route. Suddenly, a man (Muruthan Muslu) enters the cockpit. He’s the leader of a terrorist cell hijacking the flight. German filmmaker Patrick Vollrath’s feature debut looks to milk this claustrophobic terror-at-33,000-feet premise for all of its worth. As for Gordon-Levitt, it’s nice to once again see him in a lead role in which he can soar. (Rimshot!) Watch with a 30-day free trial to Amazon Prime here.
Shirley (On Demand, June 5th)
Adapting a 2014 novel by Susan Scarf Merrell, Madeline’s Madeline director Josephine Decker’s latest uses the life of Shirley Jackson as fodder for a creepy psychological drama. Elisabeth Moss stars as Jackson, a troubled specialist in macabre tales like “The Lottery” and The Haunting of Hill House. She’s joined by Michael Stuhlbarg, as Jackson’s husband, Stanley Edgar Hyman, a philandering literary critic with whom Jackson has a complex relationship, to say the least. Logan Lerman and Odessa Young co-star as a young couple drawn into their orbit with troubling consequences.