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November 2017’s Best Streaming Titles: The Punisher, Airplane!, Shaolin Soccer & Bond… James Bond

Coming soon: More Marvel and Margaret Atwood adaptations, Agents J and K, Vikings, Keyser Söze, the Mach Five, and more.
Shaolin Soccer, Stephen Chow
Stephen Chow’s Shaolin Soccer

As Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, et al. add more content, it can be difficult to know what to look for amidst all of the new titles. Every month, I compile a list of particularly noteworthy and interesting movies and TV shows to add to your streaming queues.

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Field of Dreams (November 1)

“If you build it, he will come.” So goes one of film’s immortal lines, and it’s enough to make a man build a baseball field in the middle of his Iowa cornfield. Like many great sports movies, Field of Dreams isn’t actually about the sport of baseball, but rather, what baseball says about us — about our families, childhood, nostalgia, and even America itself.

Men in Black (November 1)

Coming on the heels of Bad Boys and Independence Day, Men in Black cemented Smith’s status as a Hollywood superstar. Based on the comic of the same name, Men in Black stars Smith as a streetwise New York cop who is recruited by a clandestine government agency that deals with extraterrestrials on Earth. Showing him the ropes is an older, more experienced agent, played to perfection by Tommy Lee Jones, and the two of them must find an alien artifact before the world is destroyed.

Alias Grace (November 3)

Hot on the heels of Hulu’s critically acclaimed adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale, Netflix is jumping on the Margaret Atwood train with an adaptation of her 1996 novel, Alias Grace. The miniseries is about a woman named Alice who has been convicted of murder but remembers nothing of the events, and the psychiatrist who tries to get her pardoned. The Alias Grace adaptation was written by Sarah Polley and stars Sarah Gadon, Anna Paquin, and Zachary Levi.

9 (November 16)

In 2005, Shane Acker released 9, an Academy Award-nominated short about a sentient rag doll in a post-apocalyptic world. Four years later, he turned that short into a feature length film featuring the voice talents of Elijah Wood, Jennifer Connelly, John C. Reilly, and Crispin Glover. While the film didn’t too well in the box office, it has received recognition for its elaborate style and design.

Marvel’s The Punisher (November 17)

Netflix’s latest Marvel series drops this month, but not without some controversy. After the Las Vegas shooting, Netflix cancelled several promotional events and pushed back the series’ premiere date. None of which was too surprising given that The Punisher is a guy who, well, basically shoots people as he seeks to avenge the murder of his family. Needless to say, the Netflix series stands to be the most violent — and controversial — Marvel adaptation to date.

Click here for a complete list of everything arriving and leaving Netflix in November 2017.


The 13th Warrior (November 1)

Based on Michael Crichton’s Eaters of the Dead, this John McTiernan-directed medieval action film was one of the biggest box office flops of all time. I guess audiences back in 1999 just weren’t that into a film about an Arab traveler (played by Antonio Banderas) who finds himself with a band of Viking warriors who’ve been recruited to kill some vicious monsters. In the following years, however, the film has achieved a certain measure of cult status.

Airplane! (November 1)

What remains to be said about this, one of the greatest comedies of all time? Its near-endless supply of sight gags, absurdities, cameos, and slapstick humor is something for the ages. From Robert Stack’s battle with a bunch of Hare Krishnas to Lloyd Bridges’ glue-sniffing, from the epic disco battle to the jive translation, Airplane! has everything you could possibly want in a movie, and then some.

Goldeneye (November 1)

Hulu’s getting a bunch of James Bond films in November, including A View to a Kill, Diamonds Are Forever, From Russia with Love, and Goldeneye, the first James Bond film that starred Pierce Brosnan as 007.

Shaolin Soccer (November 1)

Stephen Chow’s Kung Fu Hustle is also coming to Hulu, but I just had to focus on Shaolin Soccer. I still remember the first time I watched this film, and being absolutely charmed and thrilled by its tale of a group of Shaolin monks who decide to use soccer to promote Shaolin kung fu (with the help of lots of CG effects, of course). Shaolin Soccer is completely bonkers, but also completely enjoyable from beginning to end.

The Usual Suspects (November 1)

Even after you know the big twist, The Usual Suspects is still a fun noir film to watch due to powerhouse performances from Gabriel Byrne, Chazz Palminteri, and of course, Kevin Spacey. But if you don’t know the big twist, then you’re in for a treat. And once you’ve seen the twist, you’re going to want to rewatch it, just to see how the film put everything together leading up to that sublime “A ha!” moment.

Much Ado About Nothing (November 8)

While on vacation during the post-production of The Avengers, Joss Whedon assembled a small cast and crew and shot a black-and-white adaptation of this Shakespeare play in 12 days. The cast features many of the usual Whedon players, including Reed Diamond, Nathan Fillion, Clark Gregg, and Sean Maher — but for those of us who’ve never forgotten Wesley and Fred, it’s a special treat to see Alexis Denisof and Amy Acker square off against each other as the main characters who, despite their cynicism, find themselves following for each other.

Future Man (November 14)

Here’s the premise: “A janitor by day/world-ranked gamer by night is tasked with preventing the extinction of humanity after mysterious visitors from the future proclaim him the key to defeating the imminent super-race invasion.” Based on the trailer, this looks like it could be some silly-yet-raunchy fun with lots of meta-awareness (cue the Last Starfighter jokes). But it is produced by Seth Rogen, so what else would you expect?

Marvel’s Runaways (November 21)

Given how successful it’s been for Netflix, it’s not surprising that Hulu wants a piece of the Marvel universe, too. And so they’re releasing an adaptation of Runaways, a series about a group of kids who discover that their parents are a group of super criminals and decide to become a group of superheroes in order to battle their parents and atone for their crimes.

Click here for a complete list of everything arriving and leaving Hulu in November 2017.

Amazon Prime

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (November 1)

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang was the directorial debut of screenwriter Shane Black, who had written such classics as the first two Lethal Weapon movies and The Last Boy Scout. Starring Robert Downey Jr. as a bumbling thief who bluffs his way into Hollywood and a murder mystery, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is a blast to watch, an equal parts love letter to, and deconstruction of, the hardboiled action comedies that catapulted Black to fame. Oh, and I’d be remiss to not mention Val Kilmer, who steals every scene he’s in.

Speed Racer (November 1)

When it came out, this adaptation of the classic anime series by the folks behind the Matrix films was roundly jeered by critics and audiences — and Stephen Colbert — alike. More’s the pity because Speed Racer is a treat. Yes, it’s frequently ridiculous and over-the-top, or as I wrote in my review, “There’s a sense of hyperreality to the film — of going so far over the top that the over the top-ness’ itself becomes substantial and real.’ ” But it’s also a blast to watch, with some surprisingly charming and emotional moments sprinkled throughout.

Click here for a complete list of everything arriving and leaving Amazon in November 2017. As usual, there’s a lot of overlap between Hulu and Amazon Prime’s offerings.

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