Netflix: The 10 best new films and shows to watch in July
Stranger Things, Orange is the New Black and Queer Eye return while Poms debuts
Stranger Things returns on July 4th. Photograph: Netflix
Stranger Things, Season 3
Thursday, July 4th
The third installment of the sci-fi smash is set in the summer of 1985 and sees the town of Hawkins in a more placid, less apocalyptic state than last season with the arrival of the carnival, the return of the swimming pool and the grand opening of the Starcourt Mall. While it’s all poolside frolics, blue eyeliner and mullets for some, obviously things don’t remain this breezy for Eleven and the rest of the gang, not only in their personal lives as the group dynamics shift due to blossoming relationships and the tyranny of hormones but also because of the usual looming evil within the town, those pesky trans-dimensional beasts and the constant threat of the return of the Shadow Monster.
This season sees the kids standing on the precipice of teendom and is flooded with the Duffer Brothers usual brand of nostalgia as they pay homage to classic ‘kids in peril’ movies from The Goonies and It to Stand By Me with a dash of Aliens, John Carpenter’s The Thing and George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead thrown in for good measure. New cast members include Maya Hawke (daughter of Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke) as Robin, a “cool girl” who works with Steve (Joe Keery) and his bountiful hair in the shopping centre’s ice-cream parlour and the Princess Bride’s Cary Elwes who plays Hawkin’s slick new mayor Larry Klein.
This documentary follows the lives of the original members of the Spanish musical phenomenon Parchís, a band made up of five young children who enjoyed vast success in the late 70s and early 80s. Like the Mini Pops by way of the Osmonds, the troupe, who were formed by record executives from Barcelona, were each provided with an individual characteristic (decades before Baby, Ginger, Posh, Scary and Sporty) that they were encouraged to emphasis for their young audience. Though they sold millions of albums and toured extensively, they eventually disappeared from sight as they grew older. Now, they are reunited to discuss their time in the limelight and how this sudden fame affected their childhood and changed their lives as they became an indelible part of Spanish pop culture.
Zara Hayes’ (The Battle of the Sexes) geriatric cheerleading comedy may be best remembered for its star, the indomitable Jacki Weaver’s salty response to Anjelica Huston’s seemingly supercilious comments about the film’s premise. While Ms. Huston may baulk at the idea of Poms with its Bring It On meets Calendar Girls story about a group of women in a retirement community who form a cheerleading squad, it’s a slight, lighthearted look at the travails of aging.
Taking inspiration from the spirited Grace and Frankie but without the sitcom’s emotional subtleties, the film centres around Diane Keaton’s taciturn character Martha who is finding it difficult to adjust to her new life in the retirement village until she meets the caustic Sylvia (Jacki Weaver) who encourages her to be more fun-loving and reignites her passion for cheerleading.
The film may be formulaic and sentimental but with punchy performances from Keaton, Weaver and Pam Grier and with its message about how dreams can be fulfilled at any age, it’s a cheery, enjoyable romp full of charm and chutzpah.
An engaged couple travel the world over the course of a year, putting their relationship to the test as they investigate and compare the marriage customs and traditions of eight different cultures in this new travelogue reality show.
The Great British Bake Off format has been adapted numerous times in a bid to capture its cosy crown, there’s been shows dedicated to sewing and painting and even floral arranging prowess and now Netflix is adding glass-blowing to this curious mix with it latest hobby gameshow Blown Away. The show pits ten artists against each other to create a series of sculptures in a chance to win $60,000. It’s a bit more niche than serving up some Swiss Roll to Paul Hollywood but Blow Away has the soothing strangeness to become a self-care cult hit for those already hooked on the calming zen of Bob Ross or Watercolour Challenge.
Queer Eye, Season 4
The Fab Five are back in Kansas for another series delivering their sermon of self-love, self-care and self-confidence to eight more ‘heroes’. With last season expanding the show’s remit to include the first duo (the unforgettable pit-master sisters Mary and Deborah) and the first lesbian participant, there will surely be more of a mix of individuals from every spectrum who require the unique avocado mashing, hair swishing, french-tucking expertise of the five.
A four part special filmed in Japan has also been completed and season five has already been commissioned with it arriving sometime in 2020, the fivesomes status as Netflix’s golden geese has most definitely been solidified. Now that they are all bona-fide pop culture icons; appearing in Taylor Swift’s new video, writing memoirs, trying stand-up and opening restaurants, it’s worth remembering that the heart-warming, uplifting world of Queer Eye may not be around forever so it should be savoured while we have it.
The Great Hack
The Great Hack is a Netflix documentary directed by acclaimed documentary makers Karim Amer and Jehane Noujaim (The Square) that covers the 2018 Cambridge Analytica scandal where a political consulting firm secretly collected millions of Facebook users private data.
The film concentrates on the dual stories of David Carroll, the Parsons School of Design professor who sued Cambridge Analytica in an attempt to find the source of its data and Cambridge Analytica employee Brittany Kaiser who became a whistleblower about the company’s shady dealings. Including insightful interviews from Guardian journalist Carole Cadwalladr and former company executive Julian Wheatland it pieces together the social-media scandal and the underhanded political tactics as well as questioning the concerns about data privacy and these modern threats to democracy.
Orange is the New Black, Season 7
The seventh and final season of the groundbreaking prison drama will see Piper (Taylor Schilling)adapting to her new found freedom on the outside after the climactic events of season six. Life in Litchfield continues to be as unjust and corrupt as ever for the rest of the inmates that she’s left behind with Taystee’s (Danielle Brooks)sentencing and Alex (Laura Prepon) trying to cope with her separation from Piper.
Another issue that will be covered in the upcoming season is immigration with Bianca’s (Laura Gomez) storyline becoming one of the main focuses with show creator Jenji Kohan exploring the contentious issues in the current political climate.
Whitney Cummings: Can I Touch It?
In her first Netflix special, acerbic comedian Whitney Cummings tackles the gender divide with topics such as sex robots, wine-tribe feminism, the #MeToo movement, how men are coping with these societal changes and the new ‘rules’ they have enforced and the endless problems women face navigating modern living, relationships and dating.
The Red Sea Diving Resort
Written and directed by Homeland co-creator Gideon Raff, The Red Sea Diving Resort is a biographical drama starring Chris Evans, Greg Kinnear and Ben Kingsley following the remarkable story of a Mossad agent Ari Kidron (Evans) who led an operation to free thousands of Jewish Ethiopians from refugee camps in Sudan by using an abandoned holiday retreat as a front to smuggle them back into Israel.