Amazon Prime Video: Five of the best new shows and films to watch in August

Including Nine Perfect Strangers, Modern Love season 2 and Kevin Can Go F**k Himself

 Gbenga Akinnagbe, Zoë Chao in Modern Love season 2. Photograph: Amazon

Gbenga Akinnagbe, Zoë Chao in Modern Love season 2. Photograph: Amazon

 

Cruel Summer

Friday, August 6th
The cult US hit finally comes to Amazon Prime Video. Indebted to the work of Kevin Williamson (Scream, Dawson’s Creek) and with a twisted narrative like that of Netflix’s The Sinner series, Cruel Summer is where the teen drama meets the 1990s psychological thriller, with a dose of unhinged American soap opera thrown in for good measure. The series takes place over three time lines in the mid-1990s, beginning in 1993, when the most popular girl in school, Kate Wallis (Olivia Holt), disappears. Upon her abduction, shy wallflower Jeanette Turner (Chiara Aurelia) begins to mould herself into Kate’s image. When Kate reappears a year later, she accuses Jeanette of being compliant in her abduction. As the story unfolds it bounces between Kate and Jeanette’s versions of events as their friends and schoolmates try to decide who to trust and whose story to believe.

Boss Level

Friday, August 13th
Time-loop films have chimed with the zeitgeist in the past year of lockdowns. Max Barbakow’s skewed sci-fi-tinged romcom, Palm Springs, became a surprise success after hitting the right note of tormented melancholy. Amazon Prime treated us to a looping, time-bending romantic drama in the shape of The Map of Tiny Perfect Things. Now it’s moving the genre into the action sphere with Boss Level.

Starring Naomi Watts, Mel Gibson and Frank Grillo, it’s a pulpy action flick in which Roy Pulver (Grillo) wakes up every morning to his fate: hundreds of assassins attempting to kill him. Pulver has yet to last a full day in this perpetual nightmare, always succumbing to a brutal death. He is trapped in a video-game-like existence, regenerating himself until he can move ever further towards his goal. Cartoonish shoot-’em-up high jinks are the order of the day in this Edge-of-Tomorrow-meets-Mortal-Kombat-style battle for survival. 

From left, Zane Pais, Marquis Rodriguez, James Scully in Modern Love season 2. Photograph: Amazon
From left, Zane Pais, Marquis Rodriguez, James Scully in Modern Love season 2. Photograph: Amazon

Modern Love season 2

Friday, August 13th
John Carney’s romantic anthology series based on the celebrated New York Times column returns for a second season. As with season one, it’s stuffed with famous faces: Kit Harrington, Tobias Menzies, Minnie Driver and Dominique Fishback play an assortment of cock-eyed optimists, hardened cynics and hopeless romantics all falling in and out of love in locations from Manhattan to Dublin.

Nine Perfect Strangers

Friday, August 20th
Another David E Kelley adaptation of a Liane Moriarty novel starring Nicole Kidman and her assortment of wigs. Rather than being Big Little Lies in Oz, this series is more like Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop turned grim. Nine strangers are enclosed in a boutique wellness retreat in the Australian outback. Each has their own struggles that they are dealing with or reasons to be there, from grief-stricken parents to a lottery-winning couple and a washed-up romance novelist.

The retreat is supervised by the enigmatic and ominous Masha (Kidman), who seems to want to add a little mind control to her subjects’ cucumber water. The series lampoons the strange quarters of the wellness industry, whose followers fail to question their gurus’ teachings. With an all-star cast that includes Melissa McCarthy, Bobby Canavale and Regina Hall, Nine Perfect Strangers is the most anticipated prestige binge watch of 2021.

Kevin Can Go F**k Himself

Friday, August 27th
This unconventional black comedy series stars Annie Murphy – Alexis Rose in Schitt’s Creek – as Allison McRoberts, a woman who is questioning her life and trying to assert herself as she grows ever more frustrated with and estranged from her uninspiring, immature husband, Kevin. The series is split between different perspectives on her experiences: half of her life is presented as a traditional multicamera sitcom in the style of Everybody Loves Raymond, complete with canned laughter, and the other half is shot on a single camera, with the gritty aesthetic of modern television shows like Breaking Bad and Shameless. This makes it almost reminiscent of the inventive WandaVision, but with a much darker, more complex edge.

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