With all of the great live entertainment in Montreal this month, you might find yourself spending less time at home watching Netflix. But no matter how much there is going on, we always manage to find time to binge on our favourite shows and movies. Here’s the best new stuff to watch on Canadian Netflix in June.
Orange is the New Black
Netflix’s hit dramedy about life in a women’s prison is back, and we couldn’t be more excited about it. As with last season, Taylor Schilling stars as Piper Chapman, a bourgie writer who gets sentenced to jail after her ex-girlfriend rats on her. Her relationship with her fiancée is strained, and she makes some unexpected friendships.
Short Term 12
You might’ve missed this one in theatres, since it had a very limited release, but it was quietly one of the best movies from last year. It tells the story of Grace, a supervisor in a group home for troubled teenagers. Her life becomes complicated when she gets pregnant and schedules an abortion, even though her boyfriend wants her to keep the baby. The performances are incredible across the board, and the story is simply jam-packed with emotion. (Side note: this movie is my personal favourite from this list. If you only take me up on one recommendation this month, let it be this one).
Even if country music’s not your thing, this show will be. Connie Britton plays Rayna James, a legendary singer who’s reaching the twilight of her career. You’ll feel instantly immersed in the cutthroat environment that is the Nashville music scene. It’s not exactly a musical, but it’s full of fantastic performances that will warm the heart of even the biggest country-hater.
Remember Norman Bates from Psycho? This series tells the story of how he came to be the creepy killer depicted in Alfred Hitchock’s classic thriller. Freddie Highmore stars as Norman, and Vera Farmiga co-stars as the mother who pushes him over the edge. The show does a great job of combining suspense with compelling family drama.
Dear Mr. Watterson
If you’re a “Calvin and Hobbes” fan, you’ve got to see this documentary. It follows the career of Bill Watterson, the creator, and it also features interviews with celebrities like Seth Green talking about how the strip affected them. It’s a touching tribute to one of the most important and beloved comic strips in the history of the medium.
Ricky Gervais has been one of the funniest curmudgeons alive for awhile now, and he shows no sign of letting up. Like the British version of The Office, which was his first introduction for many viewers, he writes, directs, and stars in this series. He plays the title character, a caretaker for the elderly with a borderline unhealthy addiction to reality television and game shows. Gervais nails Derek’s social awkwardness without turning him into a caricature.
Woody Allen has written some of the most memorable male characters in the history of film, but in this movie he makes a woman his protagonist. Cate Blanchett plays Jasmine, a Manhattan socialite whose life is falling apart. She won an Oscar for her performance, and the depth that she brought to the role made her a shoo-in. Keep an eye out for a brief but memorable appearance by superstar comedian Louis CK as one of her sister’s flings.
Much Ado About Nothing
Even if reading the play in English class bored you to tears, you’ll love Joss Whedon’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s classic comedy. He shot it in black-and-white at his house while on vacation from working on The Avengers, and the minimalism allows the beauty of the language to come through perfectly. It’s incredibly entertaining, and Whedon does a good job of making the story relevant to contemporary audiences.
Montreal is full of hipsters, and this show does a brilliant job of satirizing them. The sketch comedy series, which stars Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein, takes place in Portland, but it manages to mock the tragically hip from around the world. Regardless of your relationship with hipster culture, you’re sure to find it hilarious.
There have been lots of tellings of the Hannibal Lecter story, but this series is amongst the best. Mads Mikkelsen plays the titular serial killer, and he brings a charismatic ferocity to the role that ranks with Anthony Hopkins’s finest performances. When young girls across Minnesota start disappearing, Lecter helps FBI agents investigate the crimes.
Republic of Doyle
Newfoundland has long been the butt of jokes from the rest of Canada, but this show finally gives Newfies their due. Allan Hawco and Sean McGinley star as a father-son private investigation team who get wrapped up in the little-discussed sordid underbelly of the province. It’s light, funny, and the theme song is Great Big Sea’s “Oh Yeah.” Now’s the perfect time to get started, because you’ll still have enough time to catch up before the recently announced final season.
Danny Boyle has long been renowned as one of the most creative directors in Hollywood, and he continues his streak of inspired brilliance with this psychological thriller. The film explores the world of art dealing, where allegiances, betrayals, and complex relationships abound. Like all of Boyle’s movies, it’s stylishly entertaining and undeniably idiosyncratic.
Blue Mountain State
The lives of frat bros and university parties have often been popular targets for comedy, and this show continues the proud tradition. It focuses on football players at a fictional university who are a lot more committed to drinking and getting high than they are to playing sports. The hilariously crude sense of humour will make you want to binge on it like the athletes binge on beer.
Even though the recently released movie was flawed, the series that inspired it was pretty great. Kristen Bell stars as the title character, a student who’s also a private investigator. She takes on a range of cases, including murders and rapes, and she struggles to balance her life as a student with her mystery solving. The crimes are all thrilling whodunits, and Veronica’s adolescent struggles are equally compelling.
Batman: The Animated Series
Christopher Nolan’s trilogy of Batman movies brought the hero an increase in popularity, but this series was brilliantly told his story long before Christian Bale donned the cape and mask. The show’s dark tone and complex themes set a new standard for animated television, and the thrilling adventures are just as exciting to watch today. The gorgeous film noir visual style is perfect for depicting Batman’s attempts to save Gotham.
Eddie Murphy: Delirious
Long before he started cashing in huge paychecks in dumb big-budget comedies, Eddie Murphy was one of the best living stand-up comedians. This set captures him at the height of his powers, and it’s simply one of the funniest comedy routines you’ll ever see. He riffs on dark topics, like drug addiction and poverty, so it’s not for the faint of heart, but you’ll love the jokes if you have the stomach for them.
James Gandolfini was most famous for playing Tony Soprano, but he had other incredible roles, like this one. He plays Albert, a divorced man who has a relationship with his ex-wife’s friend Eva, played by Julia Louis-Dreyfuss. It’s a funny and sweet romantic comedy that’s sure to make you miss Gandolfini and his remarkable work.
The Bling Ring
Even if Harry Potter made you think of Emma Watson as a straight-laced nerd, this movie is sure to change your mind. She plays Nicki, a teenager who breaks into the homes of celebrities like Paris Hilton and Megan Fox with her friends. The amazing true story allows for a biting satire of consumerism and the lives of contemporary adolescents.
On the Road
This movie doesn’t quite live up to its legendary source material, but it’s still a lot of fun. Garret Hedlund and Sam Riley costar as a pair of writers on a road trip (link) across North America. Like the novel that it’s adapted from, it does a good job of capturing the thrill of travel.
If you’re in the mood for something light and happy, this is not the movie for you, but it’s worth a look if you can handle something depressing. It tells the story of Oscar Grant, a young black man who was shot by a police officer in an Oakland train station. The Wire’s Michael B. Jordan gives an amazing performance as Grant.
Stranger by the Lake
Not that we ever thought of nude beaches as boring places, but this movie takes the excitement to another level. In the beach depicted in it, a young boy named Franck becomes attracted to Michel, a mustaschioed murderer whom Franck witnesses drowning a former lover. The complicated relationship between the two men sets the stage for an effectively erotic thriller.
There are a lot of revenge movies, but none of them are quite like this one. It tells the story of a man who gets locked in a hotel room for 15 years while he’s framed for the murder of his wife. When he gets released without explanation, he tries to track down his captor and get back at him for ruining his life. It’s violent, pulpy, and a lot of fun.
20 Feet from Stardom
This documentary takes backup singers and brings them into the spotlight. It profiles singers who’ve worked with some of the biggest names in the music industry, including Mick Jagger, Stevie Wonder, Bruce Springsteen, and more. Their stories are fascinating, and it’s packed to the brim with incredible concert footage.
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