What to Watch: September 2021

The top movies and TV shows we’re watching this month.

Riz Ahmed in a white shirt holding a microphone.


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.

Awkwafina giving a sideways peace sign to the camera.


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.

Dylan Penn walking in a wheat field in a white dress.


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.

Read the full review here.

A girl wearing a pink helmet taking a photo on her phone.


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.

A bearded man yelling with a man dressed in denim with a badge standing behind him.


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.

Two women, one blonde, one brunette, holding up a roll of wallpaper against a wall.


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.

Black and white photo of Malcolm X leaning on Muhammad Ali's shoulders.


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.

Rupi Kaur in a white dress, standing in front of a giant yellow floral backdrop.


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.

A crowd of people with their hands in the air in front of a sign that reads


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.

A blonde woman in sunglasses and a crop top, and a brunette woman holding a bag in front of her.


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.

Two people looking down at a painting atop a table draped in red fabric.


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.

Melissa McCarthy and Chris O'Dowd walking with their arms around each other's backs.


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.

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