Gaslit, Devs and Better Call Saul: what’s new to streaming in Australia this April

Plus A Very British Scandal, a series about surfing entrepreneurs and Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s comedy about being a fictional president of Ukraine


Russian Doll, season 2

TV, US, 2022 – out 20 April

Russian Doll season 2 trailer

The core challenge for time-loop narratives is how to progress a story while resetting the life of the protagonist. This challenge was beautifully realised in the first season of Natasha Lyonne, Leslye Headland and Amy Poehler’s cunning comedy starring Lyonne as a bullheaded New Yorker who constantly dies on her birthday, only to constantly wake up in the bathroom at her party. After some investigation she discovers another person (Charlie Barnett) is stuck in the same loop, prompting the obvious questions: what the hell is going on and how do they bust out?

The appeal of this sharply written series is inseparable from Lyonne’s spritzy, attitude-filled performance; to say she steals the show is an understatement. The second season has a lot to live up to and will test the writers’ ability to keep its (deliberately) repetitive format fresh.

Choose or Die

Film, UK, 2022 – out 15 April

Choose or Die trailer

The premise of this independent British horror movie involves two friends playing a retro computer game to compete for a hefty unclaimed prize. Things take a turn when (cue dramatic music) elements of the game creep into their real lives. The collision of fantasy and real worlds is an evergreen concept, exploited terrifically in films such as the original Jumanji and David Fincher’s thriller The Game. Reading about Choose or Die reminded me of Australian author Gillian Rubinstein’s Space Demons trilogy, which are due for a film or TV adaptation. It’s only been several decades …

Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood

Film, US, 2022 – out 1 April

Apollo 10½ trailer

Richard Linklater’s films Waking Life and A Scanner Darkly use a striking effect called digital rotoscoping, whereby footage is shot in live action then transformed into animation, creating a dreamy look, implying an aesthetic caught between realities. His latest production to use the process taps into two themes prevalent throughout his work – time and memory – reminiscing on what the space race meant for his younger self. Expect the visualisation of daydreams and Wonder Years-esque narration from Jack Black.

Honourable mentions: The Bubble (film, 1 April), Hard Cell (TV, 12 April), Anatomy of a Scandal (TV, 15 April), Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan (film, 21 April), Ozark season four part two (TV, 29 April).


Better Call Saul, season 6 part 1

TV, US, 2022 – out 19 April

Better Call Saul trailer

I must admit I stopped watching this Breaking Bad spin-off series about a dodgy Lionel Hutz-esque Albuquerque lawyer (played to oily perfection by Bob Odenkirk) around the end of season three. Not because I didn’t like it – quite the contrary – but simply because there’s so much content these days it’s easy for some titles to drop off the watchlist. Maybe when Better Call Saul has wrapped up I will binge my way to the finishing line, which is not far away. Season six, the final season, arrives in two instalments: one landing this month and the other in July.


TV, US, 2022 – out 24 April

Gaslit trailer

Julia Roberts and Sean Penn lend serious star power to this different take on Watergate which, adapting the first season of the popular podcast Slow Burn, focuses on lesser-known aspects of this well-documented chapter in American history. Penn plays US attorney general John Mitchell and Roberts is his wife, socialite Martha Mitchell, who despite party affiliations spoke out about Nixon and “sounded frequent warnings about the ‘dirty deeds’ going on at the White House”.

The Cove

Film, US, 2009 – out 10 April
The conversion narrative is a powerful one for activists: imagine a fossil-fuel miner who starts over as a renewable energy advocate, or a slaughterhouse worker who becomes an outspoken vegetarian. In the Oscar-winning 2009 documentary The Cove, former dolphin trainer Richard O’Barry becomes an activist campaigning against dolphin captivity in places such as Sea World, after close-up experiences with these beautiful mammals led him to believe it is possible for them to smile on the outside while crying on the inside. The film, which has the vibes of a thriller, ventures to confronting places, highlighting for instance the trapping and slaughtering of dolphins by Japanese fishers.

Honourable mentions: Jeff, Who Lives at Home (film, 3 April), Beneath Hill 60 (film, 5 April), Eastern Boys (film, 11 April), Scrooged (film, 12 April), Killing It (TV, 15 April), Planes, Trains and Automobiles (film, 16 April), Into the Wild (film, 20 April), Changing Lanes (film, 22 April), The Manchurian Candidate (film, 24 April), Billy the Kid (TV, 25 April), Greta Thunberg: A Year to Change The World (film, 25 April), Breakfast at Tiffany’s (film, 30 April).

Prime Video

A Very British Scandal

TV, UK, 2021 – out 22 April

A Very British Scandal trailer

Dramatising the divorce case between the Duke and Duchess of Argyll, and using it as a springboard to reassess treatment of women and systemic misogyny, this companion piece to 2018’s A Very English Scandal has generated some rave reviews. Awarding this three-part miniseries the big five stars, Guardian TV critic Lucy Mangan described it as the “very best and fairest tribute” that could be given to the Duchess of Argyll, with its “lean, mean script” and its “refusal to reinvent the duchess as an icon of the movement”.

The Outlaws

TV, UK, 2022 – out 1 April
Any headline for a review that reads “Christopher Walken runs riot” is alone enough to parachute that production into your watchlist. Guardian writer Rebecca Nicholson praised this prison-set comedy from Stephen Merchant – best-known as the co-creator and co-director of the UK version of The Office – for “humanising his characters, no matter how crass they seem on the surface”. Will there be a prison warden equivalent of David Brent or Michael Scott? We’ll soon find out.

Honourable mentions: Sex Tape (film, 1 April), Ghostbusters (film, 12 April), All the Old Knives (film, 15 April), Outer Range (TV, 15 April), Inglourious Basterds (film, 26 April), Mud (film, 27 April).


The Flight Attendant, season 2

TV, US, 2022 – out 21 April

The Flight Attendant season 2 trailer

The snappily paced first season of The Flight Attendant begins with protagonist Cassie Bowden (Kaley Cuoco) waking up in a Bangkok hotel room with a crushing hangover, no recollection of what she did the night before and … a bloodied corpse next to her! Cassie is a messy drunk but she’s pretty damn sure she didn’t do it and spends the rest of the season hunting for the truth, seeking comfort in Mr Booze, and attempting to fend off hallucinations that usher the victim (Michiel Huisman) back to life as an apparition offering a running commentary on her various intense predicaments.

The premise is stretched slightly thin over eight episodes but this is a sly, moreish murder mystery, told in an energetic style that feels zesty despite the macabre subject matter, with a thoroughly appealing lead performance from Cuoco.


Film, Australia, 1981 – out 3 April
“How fast can you run?” “As fast as a leopard!” “How fast are you going to run? “As fast as a leopard!” That classic exchange from Peter Weir’s devastating war film is once heard and never forgotten, delivered in the lead-up to a famous, gasp-inducing final sequence which makes a point that the consequences of war cannot be evaded or outrun. Mark Lee and Mel Gibson star as young athletes shipped off to fight in the first world war, in a film that subverts an initially archetypal sports movie format in order to deconstruct the atavistic idea of war as a grand adventure.

Honourable mentions: A Simple Favour (film, 1 April), Lion (film, 1 April), Hacksaw Ridge (film, 22 April), Bridge on the River Kwai (film, 24 April), The Baby (TV, 25 April), Barry (TV, 25 April), We Own This City (TV, 26 April), The Piano (film, 30 April).


Devs, season 1

TV, US, 2020 – out 13 April

Devs trailer

Alex Garland’s 2018 sci-fi Annihilation was famously sold to Netflix after poor test screenings made its original distributor, Paramount, worried the film was “too intellectual” for audiences. The attitude underpinning Garland’s highly ambitious and intensely enigmatic series, set in a tech company developing an ultrasecretive technology that illuminates the very “code” of existence, appears to be: “Intellectual? I’ll give you too intellectual!”

The narrative begins with a fakeout: we assume it will be the story of Sergei (Karl Glusman), a coder promoted by his oracle-like boss (Nick Offerman) into a job working for the coveted devs team. But Sergei is soon killed off, his death a MacGuffin spearheading an investigation into the company. The tone is slow and moody, full of trippy visual creations and an eight-episode arc that affords Garland (who wrote and directed all episodes) the space to venture into some amazing places. Challenging at times, but highly rewarding.

The King of Comedy

Film, US, 1982 – out 22 April
Todd Phillips’s shockingly good social commentary Joker drew many comparisons to Martin Scorsese’s classic about a comedian with delusions of grandeur. Fed up with constant rejection, Robert De Niro’s protagonist Rupert Pupkin kidnaps Jerry Lewis’s TV talk-show host Jerry Langford. His ransom demand: to be given the opening spot on one of Langford’s shows. The film is wryly unsettling, digging out a space where it is simultaneously funny, sad and shocking. De Niro’s tough-to-categorise performance is one of cinema’s great portrayals of an antisocial soul.

Honourable mentions: Heat (film, 1 April), Better Nate than Never (film, 1 April), LA Confidential (film, 1 April), Man on Fire (film, 1 April), The Hardy Boys seasons 1-2 (TV, 6 April), Polar Bear (film, 22 April), Natural Born Killers (film, 22 April), Once Upon a Time in America (film, 22 April).

ABC iView


TV, Australia, 2022 – out 24 April

Barons railer

As the recent Australian documentary Facing Monsters reminded us, shots of humans standing atop foam boards as waves curl around them is a never-fail ingredient for strikingly cinematic images. Set in the 1970s, the ABC’s official synopsis for Barons describes the plot as being about how the “search for the perfect wave” will take a group of surfers “from the beach to the boardroom, creating billion-dollar empires”, drawing parallels to the stories of the founders of Billabong and Quiksilver. Directed by Shawn Seet (Storm Boy, The Code, Hungry Ghosts), Barons will join a long lineage of Australian surfing productions – from 1977’s Summer City to 2018’s Breath.

Honourable mentions: Black Mirror (TV, 1 April), People’s Republic Of Mallacoota (TV, 5 April), Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2022 (TV, 13 April), Black Books (TV, 19 April), Palazzo Di Cozzo (film, 27 April), Tom Gleeson at Enmore Theatre (TV, 30 April).

SBS on Demand

Servant of the People

TV, Ukraine, 2015 – out 7 April

Servant of the People trailer

Strange but true: before he became president of Ukraine – a job for which, in current circumstances, the words “extremely difficult” do not begin to cut it – Volodymyr Zelenskiy played the president of Ukraine in a satirical TV series he created and starred in. Zelenskiy’s character is a high school teacher who, against the odds, runs for president and wins, giving the show, which arrived four years before Zelenskiy really did run for president and win, a thoroughly unusual, metaish appeal.

Honourable mentions: Weekend at Bernie’s (film, 1 April), Killing Them Softly (film, 2 April), The Rope (TV, 7 April), (film, 8 April), Four Lives (TV, 14 April), Kura seasons 1 and 2 (TV, 14 April), Apocalypse Now Redux (film, 23 April).


The Offer

TV, US, 2022 – out 29 April

The Offer trailer

Fifty years ago Francis Ford Coppola’s gangster classic not only wowed critics but gobbled up big cash at the box office, becoming the second-most successful film of the year in north America. An achievement of that kind for a long, serious, slow drama could never be replicated in today’s superhero-decimated multiplex cinema; instead it would find a home on small screens as “prestige TV”. And, in fact, prestige TV is where the film gets an elaborate celebration in the form of this 10-part dramatisation of its production, with a cast including Miles Teller as Albert S Ruddy and Dan Fogler as Coppola.

Honourable mentions: Cheaters (TV, 1 April), Alieu the Dreamer (film, 5 April), Star Trek: The Motion Picture – The Director’s Edition (film, 5 April), Cecilia (TV, 14 Aprill), The First Lady (TV, 18 April), The Man Who Fell to Earth (TV, 25 April).


Luke Buckmaster

The GuardianTramp

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