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What's Naughty, Nice, and Nerve-Racking on Netflix This Month

Picture of Graham Fuller
Film Editor
Updated: 7 September 2017
Angelina Jolie’s Cambodia survival drama, a Jerry Seinfeld stand-up show, and a Stephen King chiller about marital sex gone wrong are among the goodies coming to Netflix in September 2017.

Narcos, Season 3…

Since Pablo Escobar shuffled off this mortal coil at the end of season 2, attention has switched to the rise and fall of the Rodriguez Orejuela brothers’ Cali Cartel, which plans to get out of cocaine and go legit in six months. That gives Escobar’s nemesis, DEA agent Javier Peña (Pedro Pascal), six months—of corporatized mayhem and murder—to bring them down. The docudrama-style drug war series is shifting ground.

The B-Side: Elsa Dorfman’s Portrait Photography…

Nostalgic for the fading art form of large-scale Polaroid portraiture, Errol Morris’s documentary is a gentle revelation. Dorfman, a family friend of the director, is both an intuitive artist and a fountain of wisdom. One wonders if that’s what endeared her to her favorite subject: the poet Allen Ginsberg.

Gone Baby Gone…

The first of the four features Ben Affleck has directed so far, the dank neo-noir Gone Baby Gone demonstrates his eye for urban malaise. Brother Casey Affleck and Michelle Monaghan play private investigators searching for a kidnapped little girl in a Boston rife with police corruption. Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris, and Amy Madigan co-star. Amy Ryan gave the film’s outstanding performance as the child’s neglectful drug-mule mom.

Pulp Fiction…

Much more stylized and knowing than Reservoir Dogs, Quentin Tarantino’s second feature remains his best-known work. The elements of pastiche work more organically than they do in the likes of Django Unchained and The Hateful Eight, though the latter Western’s structure is equally clever. Blessed with QT’s best dialogue, John Travolta, Samuel L Jackson, and Uma Thurman were on top form—though the Tim Roth-Amanda Plummer segment has dated.

The Squid and the Whale…

Jesse Eisenberg and Anna Paquin in The Squid and the Whale
Jesse Eisenberg and Anna Paquin in The Squid and the Whale | © Samuel Goldwyn Films

Oedipus sucks in Noah Baumbach’s melancholy, Brooklyn-based coming-of-age tale, which stars Jesse Eisenberg as 16-year-old Walt, who’s oppressed at every turn by his competitive dick of a dad (Jeff Daniels) and irked by the affair his mom (Laura Linney) is having with their tennis coach. Boys, if you can imagine falling for a student (Anna Paquin) who’s sleeping with your father, you’ll know what hell is. Look for the scene in which Walt passes off Pink Floyd’s “Hey You” as his own song at a school concert and the moving performance of Halley Feiffer as the girl Walt spurns. Owen Kline plays Walt’s younger brother, Frank.

The Confession Tapes, Season 1…

This harrowing true-crime documentary series examines the stories of homicide convicts who claim their confessions were coerced or fabricated. One episode brings to light new evidence in the case of Catherine Fuller’s brutal gang killing in Washington, D.C., in 1984. However, the Supreme Court ruled in June that seven men serving time for the murder did not warrant a new trial, no matter that the prosecution team had withheld evidence.

American Vandal…

If you loved the messy feminism of I Love Dick, you’ll probably hate this self-consciously phallocentric true-crime and conspiracy theory satire. American Vandal is about the framing of a teenager (Jimmy Tatro) for spray-painting images of penises on 27 faculty cars in his school’s car park overnight. If you find yourself binge-watching all eight episodes, you may want to question your streaming habit—which is presumably the series’ point.

First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers…

No one can question Angelina Jolie’s humanitarian commitment. Her latest directorial effort, which received a standing ovation at the Telluride Film Festival, depicts a five-year-old girl’s quest for survival in Cambodia at the time of the Khmer Rouge’s genocide. Based on the memoir of Loung Ung (played by Sareum Srey Moch), it depicts the unfolding horrors through the uncomprehending child’s eyes. At one point she finds herself dressed as a soldier and stranded in a minefield as other kids are blown to pieces around her.

The Journey Is the Destination…

Ben Schnetzer in The Journey Is the Destination
Ben Schnetzer in The Journey Is the Destination | © GEM Entertainment

Bronwen Hughes’s film gives Ben Schnetzer a vital role as the driven, British-American activist and photojournalist Dan Eldon, whose hectic career ended with his stoning to death at the age of 22 in Mogadishu. Some reviews have criticized the movie’s lack of psychological insight into Eldon—what made him tick?—though it reportedly doesn’t stint on his frontline adrenaline.

Beauty and the Beast…

Dan Stevens and Emma Watson in Beauty and the Beast
Dan Stevens and Emma Watson in Beauty and the Beast | © Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

This is an exclusive early streaming release for 2017’s box-office champ. Disney’s live-action remake of 1991’s animated version has so far earned over $1,262,000,000 at the international box office, making it the tenth biggest hit of all time. That’s all very well, but complaints that it was too close to its predecessor suggest Disney should have pulled a gender flip and have Belle (Emma Watson) incarcerate the Beast (Dan Stevens).

Jerry Before Seinfeld…

The first of Jerry Seinfeld’s two stand-alone stand-up shows for Netflix includes reminiscences (complete with home movies) of his Long Island childhood and some of the jokes he originally told at The Comic Strip in New York. To suggest that his memories and gags are as much ado about nothing as Seinfelds plot lines would be to miss their quotidian resonance and relatability—and to misunderstand Seinfeld’s offhand genius.


Based on Patricia Highsmith’s debut novel The Price of Salt, Todd Haynes’s exquisite drama depicts the fraught romance of department store sales assistant and aspiring set designer Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara) and the well-off New Jersey housewife and mom Carol Aird (Cate Blanchett). Their love for each is cursed not by a lack of passion but by the threat Carol’s outraged husband (Kyle Chandler) poses to her child custody rights. Haynes’s unerring direction captures the oppressive mood of America on the cusp of the Eisenhower era. It sits alongside the same filmmaker’s Far From Heaven.

Fuller House, Season 3…

The Fuller House gang
The Fuller House gang | © Netflix

Thirty years after Full House debuted, the sitcom franchise is still going strong. Fuller House seasons 1 and 2 proved popular enough that season 3 has been expanded from 13 episodes to 18. They will follow the continuing domestic adventures of the two grownup Tanner girls, D.J. and Stephanie, their neighbor Kimmy, and Stephanie and Kimmy’s kids. Whether the Olsen twins will make a guest appearance is unknown, but L.A. Lakers fans should watch out for rookie Lonzo Ball playing himself in one episode.

Gerald’s Game…

Ready for a bout of bungled BDSM? In this Stephen King adaptation, alpha male Gerald Burlingame (Bruce Greenwood) handcuffs his wife Jessie (Carla Gugino) to the bedposts in their remote Maine cabin. It’s a familiar bit of foreplay for the couple, but when Gerald comes on rougher than usual, Jessie rebuffs him and—what do you know?—he drops dead on the floor. There’s no one in the vicinity to rescue Jessie, only a hungry dog sniffing around. She listens to the voices in her head, talks to Gerald’s ghost, and hallucinates moments from her past, which makes for some striking visual imagery. Mike Flanagan (Oculus) directed this unsettling companion piece to Misery.

Want more film and television recommendations? Here’s 15 things to watch if you loved The Crown!