The Internet is giving folks a strange crop for August, courtesy of an eclectic mix of high-concept comedies, audacious original movies and foreign imports modeled after familiar narratives. Wet Hot American Summer gets brought back from the great beyond yet again and Netflix raises the curtain on its big superhero team-up show; Amazon hosts a pair of off-kilter sitcoms; and the most gleefully sadistic film franchise in recent memory comes online. Here’s your must-stream guide for the next month.
Comrade Detective (Amazon, Aug. 4th)
Get ready to get meta with this bizarre new cop-show parody that plays like it’s been garbled by several rounds of Google Translate. The series begins with Channing Tatum receiving a package containing the last VHS copies of a fictitious Cold War-era crime saga smuggled in from Romania. The rest of the program consists of him and a who’s who of celebrity buddies (the lineup includes Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jenny Slate, Fred Armisen and Mahershala Ali) dubbing over the “footage” of actual Romanian actors for an impending release in the States. It’s a faithful homage to Reagan-years action flicks and the aesthetics of low-budget filmmaking, as well as one big A-list goof.
Death Note (Netflix, Aug. 25th)
Bored, perpetually bullied student Light (Nat Wolff) happens upon a notebook that kills anyone whose name is written on its pages. Several personal vendettas and one huge ego-trip later, he’s refashioned himself as the god of a brave new world governed by moral absolutism. Fans of the original anime on which this new film is based have cried foul at director Adam Wingard’s choice to whiten up the series’ Asian context; thankfully, the cracking tension of the cat-and-mouse game played between this teen killer and an oddball super-detective (once again, Lakeith Stanfield FTW) has remained intact. It’s a cerebral crime saga with a supernatural-philosophical edge – equal parts Silence of the Lambs, Dostoyevsky and good ol’-fashioned demonic fantasy,