The plum picks in this roundup are gathering flies. View the freshest plums here:
Everything coming to Showmax in South Africa in September 2021
The series we’re most looking forward to have got to be HBO’s The White Lotus, and Gangs of London, and when it comes to movies, it’s hard to pick our most highly anticipated – there’s the Christopher Nolan-directed Tenet, Renée Zellweger’s Oscar-winning role in Judy, the critically acclaimed Minari, and more.
On the local front, there are a couple of lovely Heritage Month picks, including uMakoti Wethu, and two South African movies you won’t want to miss – United Apart, about the Covid lockdown, and the contemporary western, Flatland.
The White Lotus | First on Showmax | Binge from 1 September
Set over the course of a week, HBO comedy drama The White Lotus follows hotel guests at an exclusive Hawaiian resort as they relax and rejuvenate in paradise. With each passing day, a darker complexity emerges in these picture-perfect travellers, the hotel’s cheerful employees, and the idyllic locale itself.
The series stars Connie Britton (Nashville) and Natasha Rothwell (Insecure), alongside favourites such as Jennifer Coolidge, Alexandra Daddario, Sydney Sweeney and Steve Zahn. The White Lotus has an 87% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with Time billing it as “the must-see show of the summer… a darkly hilarious, existentially terrifying wealth satire” and The Guardian as “2021’s best, and most uncomfortable, show.”
Gangs of London | First on Showmax | Binge from 1 September
Nominated for the Best Drama BAFTA earlier this year, Gangs of London tells the story of a city torn apart following the assassination of the head of its most powerful crime family.
It stars BAFTA nominees Joe Cole (Peaky Blinders), Paapa Essiedu (I May Destroy You), and Lucian Msamati (His Dark Materials). Gangs of London has a 91% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes, where the critics consensus says: “A modern crime family masterpiece, Gangs of London builds its own empire atop tried and true mafia turf – complete with engaging drama, exhilarating action, and fine performances all around.”
The Rookie S3 | Binge from 1 September
Nathan Fillion stars as the LAPD’s oldest rookie, John Nolan, in the popular police procedural The Rookie. Nominated for a 2020 Emmy for its stunt coordination, the series has an 8/10 score on IMDb.
This season, which continues the story of bravery in the face of corruption, also stars the likes of Frankie Muniz, Brandon Routh from DC’s Legends of Tomorrow and Emily Deschanel.
The Equalizer S1 | Binge from 1 September
Oscar nominee Queen Latifah (Chicago) was nominated for a 2021 Black Reel Award for Best Actress: Drama in The Equalizer, a reimagining of the classic 80s action series and the 2014 blockbuster movie with Denzel Washington. She plays Robyn McCall, a single mother and former CIA operative who helps those with nowhere else to turn.
Lorraine Toussaint (Orange is the New Black), Chris Noth (Peter Florrick in The Good Wife) and Adam Goldberg (Saving Private Ryan) co-star.
Tenet | 27 September
One of the biggest films of 2020, Tenet won the 2021 Oscar and BAFTA for Best Achievement in Visual Effects, with a further Oscar nomination for Production Design.
Directed by Christopher Nolan (Inception, The Dark Knight Trilogy), the sci-fi action thriller follows the Protagonist, a CIA agent armed with only one word: “Tenet”, as he journeys through a twilight world of international espionage on a mission that will unfold in something beyond real time. Not time travel. Inversion.
John David Washington (BlacKkKlansman) stars alongside Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki (The Crown’s Princess Diana), Sir Michael Caine, Sir Kenneth Branagh and more.
Minari | First on Showmax | 9 September
Winner of over 100 awards, Minari is a moving semi-autobiographical drama which tells the story of a family of South Korean immigrants who try to start a farm in rural Arkansas in the 1980s.
Yuh-jung Youn made history this year when she became the first Korean to win an acting Oscar, taking home Best Supporting Actress. Minari picked up a further five Oscar nominations, including Best Film.
Minari has a 98% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with Empire Magazine calling it, “A profound, detail-perfect and soulful slice of American family life, with some of the year’s most sincere performances to date”.
Judy | First on Showmax | 2 September
Renée Zellweger won a 2020 Oscar, a Golden Globe and a BAFTA for her stellar performance as Judy Garland in this biographical drama. The film was also nominated for an Oscar for the makeup and hairstyling that transformed Zellweger into the late silver screen legend, still best remembered for her roles in The Wizard of Oz and A Star is Born.
Incorporating flashbacks to Garland’s teenage years, the story traces the final year of the actress’s life as she arrives in London in the winter of 1968 to perform a series of sold-out concerts.
Judy has an 82% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with Rolling Stone saying, “Renée Zellweger performs miracles playing Judy Garland: singing her heart out, baring her bruised soul and acting with a ferocity that ultimately rises to a state of grace.”
The Nest | 23 September
Jude Law and Carrie Coon (Gone Girl) star in this psychological drama, which sees a successful entrepreneur’s idyllic life begin to unravel after he moves his American family to a grand old English country manor.
The Nest has an 89% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with IndieWire saying “Carrie Coon delivers one of her most riveting performances to date,” and Guardian praising “Jude Law at his best”.
Antebellum | 16 September
Janelle Monáe (Hidden Figures) stars in the horror drama Antebellum as modern-day sociologist and author Dr Veronica Henley, who becomes trapped in a waking nightmare on a slave plantation. Gabourey Sidibe (Empire, Precious) co-stars, and both women were nominated for various awards for their work in this film. The cast also includes award-winning Zimbabwean actor Tongayi Chirisa (Palm Springs, iZombie).
New York Post calls Antebellum “a breathless watch”, and Variety a “terrifying – and incredibly timely – horror movie.”
Kick back with the hilarious East-meets-West buddy-cop action-comedy classic films Rush Hour 1, 2 and 3. They star martial arts legend Jackie Chan as dedicated Hong Kong Chief Inspector Lee and Chris Tucker as reckless LAPD Detective James Carter.
In the late 90s, Carrie Bradshaw and her besties Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda took New York by storm in TV’s most stylish series, Sex and the City, which racked up Emmys and Golden Globes among its many awards. (Binge it all on Showmax.) With production on the sequel series on the go, this is the perfect time to indulge in a catch-up with Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis, Cynthia Nixon and the all-star cast in Sex and the City: The Movie and Sex and the City 2.
The Oscar-nominated 1995 blockbuster psychological crime thriller Seven is still ranked at #20 on IMDb’s list of Top Rated Movies Of All Time, with an 8.6/10 rating there and an 81% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Directed by triple Oscar nominee David Fincher (Mank, House of Cards, Gone Girl), Seven stars Oscar winners Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Kevin Spacey.
From Oscar nominee Theodore Melfi (Hidden Figures), comedy-drama St. Vincent stars Bill Murray as a cantankerous, misanthropic war vet and very unlikely mentor to his new neighbour, a scrawny kid whose parents have just divorced. Nominated for two Golden Globes, it also stars Oscar nominees Melissa McCarthy, Naomi Watts, and Terrence Howard, Emmy winner Chris O’Dowd, and It and Knives Out star Jaeden Martell.
Inspired by true events, Foster Boy tells the story of Jamal, a young man imprisoned after years of abuse in the foster care system, and the lawyer who must help him seek justice. The film picked up seven awards on the international festival circuit, including at the 2020 Pan African Film Festival, and holds an 80% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Foster Boy stars Shane Paul McGhie (Greenleaf, Unbelievable), Emmy and Golden Globe nominee Matthew Modine (Stranger Things) and Oscar winner Louis Gossett Jr. (Watchmen’s Will Reeves), with Screen Actors Guild Awards nominee Julie Benz (On Becoming a God in Central Florida, Dexter), and Teen Choice nominee Greg Germann (Grey’s Anatomy, Ally McBeal) co-starring.
Flatland | First on Showmax | 2 September
The opening film of the 2019 Berlin Panorama, Flatland is the third feature from multi-award-winning South African director Jenna Cato Bass (High Fantasy, Love the One You Love).
When her disastrous wedding night ends in a murder, Natalie flees across the desolate Karoo on horseback with her heavily pregnant best friend Poppie. Hot on their trail is Captain Beauty Cuba, a lonely policewoman intent on proving the innocence of her long-lost fiancé, who has been framed for Natalie’s crime
Variety calls Flatland “an exhilarating fusion of contemporary western and girls-gone-wild road movie,” praising “the film’s sensational trio of female leads”: Faith Baloyi (Blood Psalms), Nicole Fortuin (Indemnity) and Izel Bezuidenhout (Dis Ek, Anna).
uMakoti Wethu | First on Showmax | 23 September
SAFTA winner Fulu Mugovhani (Ayanda) stars in uMakoti Wethu as Zane, who finds herself falling in love with her husband’s choice of second wife. Melusi Mbele (Isibaya) co-stars as her husband Sizwe, with Kwanele Mthethwa (Isithembiso) as his second wife, Nobuhle.
uMakoti Wethu is the feature film directorial debut of Nozipho Nkelemba, who starred in The Forgotten Kingdom, directed Gomora and wrote Emoyeni.
Goodbye Gogo | First on Showmax | 23 September
Gogo Dlamini (SAFTA Lifetime Achievement winner Thembi Mtshali-Jones) is a rich matriarch who wishes to reconcile things with her estranged family before she dies. As her family comes to say their goodbyes, they uncover the hidden secrets that have torn the family apart. Will the truth bring the Dlamini family closer or break them apart for good?
Executive produced by Quinton Jones and Minnie Dlamini Jones, who also co-wrote the original story, Goodbye Gogo co-stars Gagasi FM’s Hope Mbhele, The Throne star Keke Mphuti, and Uzalo actor Sizwe Khumbuza, among others.
Goodbye Gogo is the feature film directorial debut of SAFTA-nominated actor Neo Ntlatleng (Zone 14) and Alex Hlabangane, who also DoPs.
United Apart SA – Lockdown Remembered | First on Showmax | 9 September
In March 2020, with just a handful of known infections, South Africa embarked on one of the strictest lockdowns in the world. United Apart is a deep dive into our country’s official lockdown strategy and the effect it has had on society, the economy and our most vulnerable citizens.
Did they go too far? Can a developing economy follow the lockdown models developed for fiscally sound countries? What fault lines did Covid-19 expose? What more could have been done to effect change while fighting a devastating pandemic?
The first documentary from Arena Holdings, United Apart features key players in the response as well as fascinating commentary from the journalists who covered the story, and crowdsourced footage from ordinary South Africans.
United Apart is directed by Anton Burggraaf, best known for producing My Kitchen Rules South Africa, and produced by the multi-award-winning Ochre Moving Pictures (Spoorloos, Lioness, Housekeepers).
Doin’ My Drugs | First on Showmax | 6 September
Thomas Buttenschøn was born HIV+ in Zambia. By the time he was nine, he had lost both his parents to the disease. Now in his mid 30s, he’s a household name in Denmark, as an award-winning musician and former judge of Denmark’s Got Talent.
Shot over two-and-a-half years, the documentary follows Thomas as he returns to Zambia as living proof that HIV/Aids is not a death sentence. “I have two healthy children. I am healthy. I have a healthy wife. I cannot infect them because I am properly medicated,” says Thomas. “It is obvious to everyone that if all the infected were well medicated, like me, we would be able to eradicate HIV. Full stop.”
An official selection at CPH: Dox, Doin’ My Drugs has been hailed as “polished” and “engrossing” by Boston Globe; “inspiring” by Filmthreat; and “powerful” and “timely” by Film Juice.
#LANDoftheBRAVEfilm | 13 September | First on Showmax
This crime thriller is set against the backdrop of a desolate winter in Namibia, where a tough cop is hot on the heels of an ice-cold killer. As the demons of her past return to haunt her and a public scandal threatens to unravel the investigation, she is determined to catch the killer… even if she has to break the law.
The film won Best International Feature Film at the 2021 Uganda Film Festival and the Best Narrative Feature Award at the 2020 Silicon Valley African Film Festival.
Obama: In Pursuit Of A More Perfect Union | 8 September
HBO documentary Obama: In Pursuit of a More Perfect Union chronicles the personal and political journey of President Barack Obama as America grapples with its racial history.
The three-part docuseries has a 91% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with RogerEbert.com calling it “a comprehensive and compelling analysis… Kunhardt’s film brightly illuminates how essential the discussion of Obama’s handling of race is to American culture as a whole, especially when it was no accident that every president before him was a white man.”
The documentary highlights the vision he had for the nation and reflects on the Obama administration with new understanding about the personal obstacles he faced and the challenging pursuit for equality in America.
In The Same Breath | 6 September
The HBO feature documentary In The Same Breath illustrates the devastating toll from widespread misinformation in the earliest days of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Directed by China-born award winner Nanfu Wang, the film explores the early confusion as authorities tried to contain the virus as well as shape the public narrative through misinformation.
It has a 96% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes, where the critics consensus says, “Gripping and clear-eyed, In the Same Breath captures history as it’s being written – and governmental failures as they amplify worldwide tragedy.”
Temptation Island S3 | Binge from 6 September
Temptation Island South Africa hit our shores on 26 August, and it’s already hotting up. To get more of this addictive reality show, binge the third season of the American version of the show. Four couples at a crossroads in their relationship leave their normal lives behind to spend a month living in separate villas surrounded by sexy singles.
Filmed on the Hawaiian island of Maui, this season promises serious sparks. Will hesitant longtime couple Kristen and Julian stay together? Will Thomas’s flirty nature be the last straw for Chelsea? Will Kendal earn back Erica’s trust? And will Erin realise that Corey is the real man she’s looking for?
I Can See Your Voice | 15 September
If you’re a fan of The Masked Singer, you’ll love I Can See Your Voice, the brand-new game show that sees a celebrity panel try to tell skilled vocalists apart from tone-deaf singers – without ever hearing them sing! – in a bid to win $100 000.
Adapted from the South Korean hit series of the same name, the show is created and hosted by legendary voice artist, actor, and panelist on The Masked Singer Ken Jeong. Celebrity panelists include Adrienne Houghton, Cheryl Hines, Jordin Sparks and Robin Thicke.
Scoob! | 20 September
Scooby-Doo and the gang are back in this animated adventure comedy, where they must face their most challenging mystery ever: a plot to unleash the ghost dog Cerberus upon the world. As they race to stop this dogpocalypse, the gang discovers that Scooby has an epic destiny greater than anyone imagined.
Nominated for a 2021 Image Award for Outstanding Animated Motion Picture, the film is recommended for ages 7+ by Common Sense Media.
Scooby is voiced by Frank Welker (who’s voiced Fred since 1969 and Scooby since 2002), with Will Forte as the voice of Shaggy; Zac Efron as Fred, Amanda Seyfried as Daphne and Gina Rodriguez (Jane the Virgin) as Velma.
The Secret Garden | 6 September
The enchanting fantasy adventure The Secret Garden follows Mary Lennox, an orphaned girl who is sent to live at her strict uncle’s estate, only to discover it conceals a magical garden.
This newest adaptation of the beloved 1911 classic children’s novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett is led by newcomer Dixie Egerickx as Mary, with Dame Julie Walters as Mrs Medlock and Colin Firth as Lord Archibald Craven.
Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood S5B | 2 September
Whether your little ones already adore Daniel Tiger’s Neighbourhood or you’ve yet to discover this wholesome, endearing gem of a show, join Daniel – a shy but brave four-year-old tiger who lives in the Neighborhood of Make Believe with his family and friends – for part two of the latest season, packed with joy, fun and awesome life skills.
As the animated next-generation of the acclaimed long-running US show Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, and the brainchild of that series’ iconic, multi-award-winning host, Fred Rogers (portrayed by Tom Hanks in the Oscar-nominated movie A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood), the show is kids’ TV royalty.
The series has a five-star rating on Common Sense Media, where they praise its “seamless incorporation of preschool skills like counting and phonics.”
Bridge and Tunnel | Alone (2020)
Break Even (2020) | Kom ons Braai S9-14 | Kom ons Braai Familie en Vriende S1-13 | Kom ons Trou Nou S1-2 | Uncle Limbani S1
Juggernaut | Minki S1-8 | My Plek of Joune S5-6
Myne vir Joune S1-2 | Laat die Potte Prut S10-14 | Ntash
Keerpunt S1-3 | Vermis S1
Aansit S2 | Antebellum (2020) | Mortal Kombat (1995) | Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997) | Snakes and Ladders S3
Run Hide Fight (2020) | Still Here (2020) | Vermis S2
Please note that dates and titles are subject to change.