The best eight shows and films to catch on Amazon and Netflix in September
Here’s our autumunal picks for the streaming services
Outlander - Season 3
Amazon Prime, September 11th
If you haven’t caught up with this time-bending, genre defying historical romance (think The Time Traveller’s Wife meets Wuthering Heights round the back of Barry Lyndon’s hedge) there’s still a few weeks to binge watch before the new series starts on Amazon Prime. From the outside, it may look like an OTT Mills & Boon bodice-ripper but in truth Outlander is, for all its histrionics, a pleasingly passionate and oddly emotional series that manages to eschew the clunky cliches of its more macho contemporaries. Half set in the 1940s and the 1700s the new series sees Claire desperately attempting to get back to the past to her be-wigged hero Jamie.
It may feature a brooding male lead but this is no po-faced Poldark especially as the female characters are allowed to develop beyond being either simpering or scheming. With its refreshing concentration on the female gaze the much-mooted sex scenes will disappoint the thirsty Game of Thrones fans used to more graphic content but what Outlander lacks in other organs it makes up for in heart.
First They Killed My Father
Netflix, September 15th
Directed, produced and co-written by Angelina Jolie, this harrowing look at life under the Khmer Rouge has not escaped controversy even before its release. A recent Vanity Fair article described emotionally manipulative casting methods allegedly used on the film’s child actors, which was vehemently denied by Jolie. Based on Long Ung’s memoir it follows the story of a young girl’s fight to survive in Pol Pot’s Cambodia. As with other Jolie works, such as In the Land of Blood & Honey and Unbroken, it is serious, straight-forward fare that marries her humanitarian activism with her love of film in the tradition of Hollywood bleeding hearts like George Clooney and Jane Fonda.
Netflix, September 19th
Before the new series of his format originator Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee hits the streaming service, they’re serving up this extra shot of Jerry. Jerry Before Seinfeld is one of the two stand-up performance specials that Netflix has exclusively secured and features the comedian returning to his roots at the renowned club The Comic Strip, revisiting the jokes that started his career back in the 1970s, mixed with some new material. Featuring never-before-seen footage of young Seinfeld as well as an opportunity to delve into his meticulous joke archive (written in longhand on legal pads), it’s an intriguing prospect.
Being the consummate, old-school professional that he is, do not expect a revealing portrait of the mind behind Seinfeld but instead more of a chance to catch up and relax in the company of an old friend. He’s just a guy, standing in front of a fake brick wall asking you ‘What’s the deal with…?’
The Good Place
Netflix, September 21st
Starring the charismatic, craggy Ted Danson, Kristen Bell and featuring erstwhile T4 presenter the luminous Jameela Jamil, The Good Place is an offbeat sitcom about a woman, who due to a clerical error ends up on the nice side of the afterlife. It’s as breezy and loveable as his other hits with season two having already been confirmed. For fans of the oddball brilliance of Community or for those who just miss Ted Danson’s face and are waiting impatiently for the Bored to Death revival, The Good Place is a charming celestial stop-gap.
Season 4, Amazon Prime, September 22nd
There is no current American drama more effective or more beautifully written than Jill Soloway’s meditation on modern family life. For those who are still in mourning for the staggeringly great American TV series Six Feet Under, Transparent is the one show that comes close to matching its genius. It has that mouthful of sharp barbs and the perilously pitch-black comedy that can only be drawn out within a family setting like leeches feasting on warm blood.
There are probably no awards left for Jeffrey Tambor to win for his portrayal of trans-woman Maura Pfefferman but the ensemble cast are equally deserving of praise. From the formidable Judith Light as Maura’s wife to the free-living wild-child Ali (Gabby Hoffman) they are all as intimately drawn with as much detailed complexity as the main character.
This is the fourth series, with the Pfefferman family now on a collective journey of self-discovery in Israel.
Five Foot Two
Netflix, September 22nd
Unbelievably there has not yet been a documentary about Lady Gaga. For a star who crash landed onto the music scene, a fully formed whirlwind of Warhol philosophy, John Waters crazy and Grace Jones fierceness it’s strange to think that someone hasn’t been documenting every inch of her art pop/pop art existence in a Bowie-style.
Thankfully Netflix is rectifying this situation with Five Foot Two, which follows the provocative popstar from the making of her recent album Joanne through to her stunning Super Bowl halftime show performance. In the great time honoured tradition of music documentaries it reveals the rawness and inescapable isolation of mega-stardom but also the headline-grabbing moments of sublime gossip. Perhaps Madonna is about to have her own Kevin Costner moment as in the trailer an unguarded-Gaga tantalisingly teases “the only thing that really bothers me about her is…” before the screen fades to black. Five Foot Two may just scale the dizzy heights of pop doc brilliance.
Netflix, September 29th
Big Mouth is the surreal Netflix original cartoon brought into being from the minds of real-life pals, comedians Nick Kroll and Andrew Goldberg. A fictionalised version of their teenage years, the series treks through the tough terrain of adolescence in all its deplorable, hormonal glory in a suitably unflinching manner. The show manages to slot right into the Netflix stable of adult animation series like Bojack Horseman and Archer with its razor-sharp observations and avant-garde edge. Featuring the vocal talents of John Mulaney, Jenny Slate, and Jason Mantzoukas it’s packed full of familiar comedic heavy hitters that make it unmissable.
Our Souls at Night
Netflix, September 29th
Who really cares if Our Souls at Night is any good or not when it’s got the Hollywood mega-watt pairing of Jane Fonda and Robert Redford lighting up the screen as the sexiest mature coupling this side of The Bridges of Madison County. A sentimental rom-com about two taciturn neighbours connecting after they are both bereaved, it’s a gauzy, gentle, dreamily shot Sunday afternoon treat of a film. The kind of movie that Oprah would have bellowed about until the whole female population of America stormed theatres en-masse like a terrifying book-clubbing mob and transformed it into a smash-hit.