With school back in session and everyone coming back from far-flung beach vacations, September can be a hectic month — thankfully, it also backs up a dump-truck full of enticing new movies and TV onto Ye Olde Internet. Amazon finally unveils their collaborations with Woody Allen and Tig Notaro, respectively; Netflix’s crime epic Narcos returns for another fix, while also giving us the “Wu-Tangification” of the Marvel Universe; and Ron Howard looks back on four gentlemen from Liverpool as they gave their final live performances. Block out some space in your schedule for a little binge as you get back in the swing of things for fall, and read on.
Crisis in Six Scenes (Amazon, 9/30)
It’s destined to be forever known as “Woody Allen’s Amazon show,” and the director’s first small-screen project takes place during the tail end of the turbulent Sixties, when a free-spirited hippie (Miley Cyrus, of all people) intrudes on an older New York couple (Allen and Elaine May) and their houseguests (John Magaro and Rachel Brosnahan). How Cyrus will mesh with the auteur’s signature neuroses-driven humor has yet to be seen — imagine Hannah Montana saying “Oy” — but Allen’s decision to take his talents to TV makes this one notable in and of itself.
Easy, Season One (Netflix, 9/22)
Here’s all we know so far about Netflix’s upcoming comedy series: It was created, written and directed by tirelessly prolific indie-cinema godhead Joe Swanberg. He announced his vision for an eight-episode anthology series, following different characters in unrelated plotlines over its half-hour installments. The cast list includes Orlando Bloom, Malin Akerman, Aya Cash, Marc Maron, Hannibal Buress, Dave Franco, and Emily Ratajkowski, among others. Knowing Swanberg, it will most likely revolve around good-looking people who have been kind of in a funk lately, despite having pretty great lives. Mileage may vary.
Eight Days a Week: The Touring Years (Hulu, 9/17)
As the Beatles rolled into the latter half of their tenure as a band, increasingly complex instrumentation and a weariness with crowds more attuned to screaming than listening made touring less attractive. So the lads from Liverpool stopped playing live shows, started holing up in the studio, and made a masterpiece or three. Ron Howard’s new documentary chronicles the period from 1962 to 1966 that led up to that decision, from the Fab Four’s earliest sets at Liverpool rock clubs to their final performance at San Francisco’s Candlestick Park. The film includes rare footage that’s been unavailable to the public until now, but folks without subscriptions to Hulu need not fear — the film will get a brief theatrical release on September 15th as well.
Luke Cage, Season One (Netflix, 9/30)
He’s black. He’s beautiful. And he’s bulletproof. The impenetrable-skinned Luke Cage (Mike Colter) first showed up in Netflix’s Jessica Jones to help the super-sleuth clean up the streets of New York (and to give her the ride of her life in a surprisingly frank sex scene); now he’s starring in his own series. Working at street level while the Avengers take care of the planetary threats, Cage punches his way through the gang network of Harlem and adds a much needed dose of diversity to an overwhelmingly homogeneous lineup. Same goes for creator Cheo Hodari Coker, the first person of color at the helm of a Marvel property. Sweet Christmas!
Narcos, Season Two (Netflix, 9/2)
As we all remember from Medellín, the fake Pablo Escobar biopic in Entourage, the Colombian drug baron was gunned down by local police forces shortly after his 44th birthday in December 1993. Our man’s days are numbered, and Netflix hasn’t made a secret out of Narcos‘ plan to conclude its second season with the death of its central figure. But before he gets that fatal headshot, the kingpin is going to do everything in his power to evade capture from the DEA, the Colombian government, and the rival cartels who want his head on a pike. A reminder: Everyone is disposable in Escobar’s world the moment they stand between him and his empire.
One Mississippi, Season One (Amazon, 9/9)
Alt-comedy fixture Tig Notaro burst into the mainstream after delivering an instantly legendary stand-up set about her battle with breast cancer in 2012. She’s now mining the various tragedies that happened leading up to that moment for Amazon’s “traumedy” about a woman summoned to her rural Mississippi hometown to take her terminally ill mother off life support. A second-act coming-of-age story, expect One Mississippi to take a deep-dive into Notaro’s very soul.
Raiders! The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made (Netflix, 9/16)
Compelled by boredom and armed with a cheap camcorder, excessive free time, and a slavish devotion to the original material, three 11-year-olds from Mississippi remade Raiders of the Lost Ark shot for shot, save one key sequence. A few decades and one diehard cult following later, the self-taught folk-hero filmmakers reunited to finish what they began. This documentary covers the strange tale of these boys’ ascendance to underground stardom as well as their quixotic quest to complete their magnum opus, all wrapped up in a valentine to Steven Spielberg’s adventure-fantasy classic. It’s the ultimate expression of borderline-religious fandom.
Sicario (Hulu, 9/23)
The rare action flick with a hero determinedly avoiding conflict at every turn, this south-of-the-border drug war saga keeps pushing FBI agent Kate (Emily Blunt) further and further into an uncomfortable ethical grey area. What’s going on with her weirdly intense new handler (Josh Brolin) from the CIA? And his partner (Benicio Del Toro), the violent gunman who only speaks to Kate in clipped non-answers … who’s he really working for? Director Denis Villeneuve and scribe Taylor Sheridan are in perfect harmony in this tautly-plotted thriller, teasing out mystery leading to a conclusion that’s no less affecting for all its inevitability. And the story has bravura you-are-there filmmaking to match; the celebrated night-vision tunnel raid sequence is enough to make you break a sweat while sitting.
Transparent, Season Three (Amazon, 9/23)
Last season, this generous, moving family saga traversed continents and generations to trace the transgender link from a lonely soul in Weimar Germany to the Pfefferman’s modern-day patriarch-turned-matriarch Maura (Jeffrey Tambor). Easily one of the finest TV series in recent memory, the show returns this month to check in on the whole screwed-up family: commitmentphobe son Josh (Jay Duplass), expert self-saboteur Sarah (Amy Landecker) and experimental truth-seeker Ali (Gaby Hoffmann). Their sophomore showing gracefully dissected major themes of lineage, Jewish faith, romance, identity and fidelity — creator Jill Soloway’s undoubtedly got some fresh material up her sleeve this time around.
Weiner-Dog (Amazon, 9/1)
Chronically sardonic filmmaker Todd Solondz presents four tales of bone-dry black humor, threaded together by one ill-fated Dachshund. Workaholic parents get their son a pet to celebrate his overcoming leukemia, and things don’t go as planned; a veterinary nurse goes on an unexpected road trip to Ohio with an face from her past, and things don’t go as planned; a screenwriting professor takes his frustration to dangerous extremes, and things don’t as planned; and a shameless Boho type hits her grandma up for money, and you guessed it, things don’t go as planned. Some knock Solondz for displaying no sympathy for the characters he bats around with the long arm of Fate, but those viewers busy laughing will hardly notice.