Where: In theatres What: Movie, 90 mins. When: Now Genre: Drama Why you should watch: This striking indie film follows British-Pakistani rapper Zed (Riz Ahmed) who’s diagnosed with an autoimmune disease just as he’s preparing to tour. In an exploration of identity, family and religion, Zed learns to accept help from his parents, whom he hasn’t seen in two years. Interspersed with emotional freestyle verses, unorthodox camera angles and bright dream sequences, you physically feel the chaos and confusion Zed is experiencing.
Where: CBC Gem What: Documentary, 82 mins. When: Now Genre: Music doc Why you should watch: Featuring battle rap king Dumbfoundead and a young Awkwafina, this 2016 low-budget-vibe doc explores the roles race and gender play in the hip-hop industry as it follows four Korean-American rappers in their efforts to make it big.
Where: In theatres What: Movie, 109 mins When: Now Genre: Family drama Why you should watch: Sean Penn stars in an ambitiously directs this stylized family drama that ably captures the pain and elusive allure of an intermittent, lying father who constantly disappoints. In this true story written by an alt-weekly journalist, Penn’s adult daughter Dylan provides a powerful performance as the child determinedly picking through the shards of her father’s broken life as she tries to build her own.
Where: Netflix What: Series, season 3, 8 episodes, 50 mins. When: Sept. 17 Genre: Dramedy Why you should watch: If a middle school sex-ed teacher screened this hilarious and heartfelt smash hit series, the hormonal students would learn everything they need to know — from abortion to asexuality to first-time hookups. The plot thickens this season as Girls actress Jemima Kirke plays Moordale’s new headmistress, awkward and charming Otis has casual sex and Otis’s sex therapist mom has a baby on the way.
Where: Netflix What: Limited series, 7 episodes When: Sept. 24 Genre: Horror Why you should watch: Netflix’s horror series The Haunting of Hill House took the world by storm when it was released in 2018, counting itself as an early contributor to a wave of emotionally poignant, beautifully crafted horror programming. Its creator, Mike Flanagan, has returned with new limited series, Midnight Mass — and it lives up to the hype, with gorgeous cinematography and sophisticated storytelling about an isolated island community struck by religious fervour.
Where: Netflix What: Series, 6 episodes; 30 mins. When: Now Genre: HGTV-core Why you should watch: Since COVID has made it significantly less chill to hop on a plane, road trips are on the rise. Thus, two Western University grads, best friends and amateur moteliers are upping the ante on roadside crash pads as they flip a decrepit, 70s motel — think miles of crusty wood panelling, dingy bedrooms and a pool that hasn’t been touched in who knows how long — into a sparkling retro oasis in Ontario’s Sauble Beach.
Where: Netflix What: Movie, 95 mins. When: Sept. 9 Genre: Documentary, Political Why you should watch: Based on the book of the same name, this expertly produced documentary explores the complex relationship between historic icons and luminaries Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali. Through exclusive interviews with both men’s families and friends, the story of their chance introduction, world-changing friendship and explosive falling out is tracked with humour, charm and relevancy.
Where: Amazon Prime What: One-hour poetry performance When: Now Genre: Live poetry Why you should watch: Love it or meme it, there’s no denying that Indian-born Canadian poet Rupi Kaur’s empowering brand of feminist poetry (does Milk and Honey ring a bell?) is a pop culture phenomenon. The charismatic Kaur performs her celebrated works live in this special full of humour, heartache and inspiration.
Where: Apple TV What: Series, 6 episodes, 38 mins. When: Now Genre: Musical comedy Why you should watch: SNLers deliver an upbeat and bizarre series that appeals both to people who love musicals and those who hate them. Cicely Strong and, Keegan-Michael Key play a pair whose ill-fated couple’s therapy hike lands them in a world that’s a non-stop musical from the Golden Age of Hollywood (40s and 50s). There is much absurd singing and dancing as well as hilarious, sly asides.
Where: Crave What: Series, 7 episodes,60 mins. When: Now Genre: Drama Why you should watch: Spectacular, sometimes excruciatingly real characters highlight this deep dive into white privilege, class, race and much more with an “upstairs/downstairs” look at all sides who play and work at a high-end Hawaiian resort. From deeply real family drama to the struggles of BIPOC employees forced to smile while the privileged play, The White Lotus is insightful and hugely entertaining.
Where: In theatres in Toronto, Vancouver What: Movie, 90 mins When: Now Genre: Documentary Why you should watch: A remarkably gripping dive into the intrigue-filled world of high-stakes fine art as a recently found painting is believed to be a long lost work by Leonardo da Vinci. Millions are flashed and credulity strains as the painting skyrockets in value, and truth itself feels buried under layers of paint. Edge-of-your-seat energy from the opening credits in a film populated with amazing, often eccentric, characters.
Where: Netflix What: Movie, 102 mins. When: Sept. 24 Genre: Drama Why you should watch: Make sure to bring the tissues for this festival favourite because our writer burst into tears at the trailer alone. Co-stars Melissa McCarthy and Chris O’Dowd play a couple struck by tragedy and move through the stages of grief in unexpected, bittersweet ways. Despite being better known for their comedic work, the two actors play these complex roles with subtlety and skill.