Sky hit a rich vein in October with original programming including Brave New World, Riviera S3 and The Undoing, along with several movies acknowledging UK Black History Month. The spate of high profile films and new Sky series looks to continue into November.
Updated: 09-Nov-2020, The Outsider, Tin Star, Trickster.
Sky Cinema mops up Halloween with a couple of horror movies in the form of the well received Doctor Sleep starring Ewan McGregor as a grown up Danny Torrence from The Shining and an updating of 70s teatime wish fulfilment show Fantasy Island from Blumhouse.
There’s a nod forward to Christmas too with the festive Last Christmas making its Sky Cinema debut as well as the introduction of a collection of Yuletide faves to dip in and out of when you need a bit of a seasonal uplift.
Non seasonal movies come in the form of Taika Waititi’s personal WW2 comedy drama Jojo Rabbit and The Rhythm Section, which is not a follow up to Whiplash but sees Blake Lively in a tale of a woman seeking revenge but not sure how to exact it.
Liverpool seems to be the second home for Hollywood these days with The Batman recently filming there and now November sees Tim Roth’s character from Sky’s Tin Star return home to Merseyside as the saga comes to a completion for its third and final season, though an exact air date has yet to be confirmed. There's also Sky Atlantic limited series The Good Lord Bird which stars Ethan Hawke as abolitionist John Brown and documentary The Vow provides something contemporary and eye opening.
Here’s a closer look at the pick of movies and shows hitting Sky and Now TV subscribers’ screens in November.
(Requires Sky Cinema subscription or Now TV Sky Cinema Pass)
Ash is the Purest White (2018, Crime, Drama, Romance. International: China. Tao Zhao, Fan Liao, Yi'nan Diao, Dir. Zhangke Jia)
A story of violent love spanning 2001 to 2017 which sees Qiao, the girlfriend of a gangster who is rapidly rising through his organisation’s ranks, serve five years in prison after taking the fall to save him. When she emerges, she finds everything she once knew - her boyfriend, her friends, her entire country - is unrecognisable.
Loosely based on the leader of a gang from writer/director’s Jia Zhangke's childhood, whom he had once admired as a role model, the film is an examination of a country and its people, the price that those who survive have to pay for change, and what they lose in the process.
Doctor Sleep (2019, Drama, Horror Fantasy. Ewan McGregor, Rebecca Ferguson, Kyliegh Curran, Dir. Mike Flanagan)
Still scarred by the trauma he endured as a child at the Overlook Hotel, Dan Torrance has fought to find some semblance of peace. But when he encounters Abra, a teenager who shares Dan’s own extrasensory gift known as the “shine,” he knows he must help her escape the pursuit of the merciless Rose the Hat and her followers, The True Knot, who feed off the shine of innocents in their quest for immortality.
After his adaptation of Gerald’s Game, director, Mike Flanagan expanded his Stephen King credentials with this sequel to Stanley Kubrick's The Shining movie which brought together the elements of King’s own follow up novel as well as tying up discrepancies between the original book and film which had served to annoy King so much.
Flanagan is quoted as stating that if The Shining is about the doom of addiction, then Doctor Sleep reflects the possible recovery from that doom.
Lucy in the Sky (2019, Drama, Scifi, Thriller. Natalie Portman, Jon Hamm, Zazie Beetz, Dir. Noah Hawley)
Astronaut Lucy Cola is a strong woman whose determination and drive as an astronaut take her to space, where she’s deeply moved by the transcendent experience of seeing all human life from afar. After she returns to Earth, the world suddenly seems too small and her connection with reality slowly unravels.
Very loosely based on real life astronaut Lisa Nowak whose own post space flight experiences saw broken relationships, disappointing career options and criminal activities.
The project was originally called Pale Blue Dot in reference to astronomer Carl Sagan’s book and had Reece Witherspoon attached as lead. In the event, it underperformed badly at the Box Office pulling in less than $1million against a budget of $21 million - hardly stellar!
I'll get me coat.
Fanny Lye Deliver’d (2019, Drama, Period, Thriller. Maxine Peake, Charles Dance, Freddie Fox, Dir. Thomas Clay)
Fanny Lye lives a quiet Puritan life on an isolated farm in Shropshire in 1657 with her husband John and young son Arthur. Her simple world is shaken by the unexpected arrival of a mysterious young couple in need. An unexpected visit from the local Sheriff causes events to escalate which changes Fanny’s disciplined life forever as she learns to transcend her oppressive marriage and discover a new world of possibility - albeit at great personal cost.
A troubled production from initial development all the way to post saw the death of a close colleague, flooding on the single location set, budgetary issues and a lengthy scoring process which all meant that, from the film's initial Feb 2016 shoot to its bow at the BFI London Film Festival in Oct 2019, over three years had elapsed. But eventually Fanny Lye was indeed deliver'd.
Jojo Rabbit (2020, Comedy, Drama, War. Roman Griffin Davis, Thomasin McKenzie, Scarlett Johansson, Taika Waititi, Sam Rockwell. Dir & Scr. Taika Waititi)
Lonely, ten year Jojo occupies himself with his dedication to the Hitler Youth but is shocked to discover his mother is hiding a Jewish girl in the attic at home. He starts to question his blind nationalistic beliefs, while dealing with the intervention of his idiotic imaginary friend Adolf Hitler, and the harsh realities around him.
Adapted from Christine Leunens’ book “Caging Skies”, Waititi brings his off the wall charm to a difficult subject and earned himself his first Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay at the 2020 Oscar ceremony.
The Hunt (2020, Action, Horror, Thriller. Betty Gilpin, Hilary Swank, Dir. Craig Zobel)
Twelve strangers wake up in a clearing. They don't know where they are, or how they got there. They don't even know they've been chosen for a very specific purpose - The Hunt. But one of the chosen, Crystal, knows The Hunters’ game better than they do and she turns the tables on the killers as she makes her way toward the mysterious woman at the centre of it all.
As AVForums' own review states, The Hunt is part Hard Target and part The Most Dangerous Game, but its horror/thriller element can’t escape injecting some sociopolitical allegory into the mix; mocking gun laws, political over-correctness, class prejudice, Democrats and Republicans and, rather than necessarily lay blame, it points out a deeply flawed system.
However, any talking points raised by the blast happy action were quickly sidelined by a cinema release right at the start of the pandemic which saw The Hunt become one of the first movies to move to Premium Video On Demand after only a few weeks after its theatrical release.
Blumhouse’s Fantasy Island (2020, Action, Horror, Fantasy. Michael Peña, Maggie Q, Lucy Hale, Dir. Jeff Wadlow)
When the enigmatic Mr. Roarke, the owner and operator of a luxurious but remote tropical island, invites a collection of guests to live out their most elaborate fantasies in relative seclusion, the experience quickly becomes a nightmare and the guests have to solve the island’s mystery in order to escape with their lives.
Fantasy Island serves as a horror re-imaging and prequel to the fondly remembered and much more benign (but actually pretty naff - sorry Ricardo) 1977-84 TV series of the same name. Producer Jason Blum originally had Nicolas Cage in mind for the role of resort owner Mr Roarke and the overall project was pitched as Cabin in the Woods meets Westworld.
The Photograph (2020, Drama, Romance. Issa Rae, LaKeith Stanfield, Chanté Adams, Dir. Stella Meghie)
When her estranged mother, a famed photographer, dies, Mae Morton is hurt, angry and full of questions. Meanwhile, reporter Michael is following up on a story on Mae’s late mother’s life and career after coming across a mysterious photograph she took years before. Michael arranges to meet up with Mae for more on her mother and the attraction between the two leads to a sudden and passionate fling.
The film follows the intertwining love stories of mother and daughter across the two separate timelines.
Last Christmas (2019, Comedy, Drama, Romance. Emelia Clarke, Henry Golding, Emma Thompson, Dir. Paul Feig)
Kate is a young woman who subscribes to bad decisions and a disgruntled attitude, not helped by the fact that she works as an elf in an all year round Christmas store. One day, she meets the mysterious Tom in the shop and her barriers start to come down. Life takes a new turn and for Kate, it seems too good to be true.
Inspired by Wham!’s Christmas classic of the same name, the film features more of George Michael’s music, including some that was unreleased before his death. The script was written by Emma Thompson who started it back in 2010 and sent it personally to Paul Feig to direct. Starring as Kate’s mum, Dame Emma could well see herself featuring in another perennial Christmas favourite after 2003’s Love Actually.
The Rhythm Section (2020, Action, Drama, Mystery. Blake Lively, Sterling K Brown, Elly Curtis, Jude Law, Dir. Reed Morano)
A grieving woman on a path of self-destruction after her family is tragically killed in a plane crash, discovers it was not an accident. Setting out to seek revenge on those responsible, she enters a dark, complex world to exact vengeance and somehow find her own redemption.
Blake Lively suffered an onset injury which delayed The Rhythm Section’s release and despite being married to Wade Wilson, she clearly doesn't have his healing powers. In fact the whole project could have done with Deadpool’s remarkable ability to bounce back since it went on to debut to $2.8 million, marking the worst opening weekend ever for a film playing in over 3,000 theatres.
Like Thanos, the Christmas Collection is ‘inevitable’ and duly arrives at the start of November to help lift some semblance of seasonal spirits. And almost just as inevitable is a ‘Best of 2020’ library looking back at some of the biggest recent films that have appeared on Sky Cinema.
Meanwhile, eking out the dwindling licensing agreements comes another clutch of superhero movies.
Christmas (From 6th November)
Things will be a little different for almost everyone this year when it comes to Xmas and a dose of mood-lifting warm and fuzzy Yuletide frivolity (and Die Hard!) may well be just what's needed to help folks get through to the end of the year. Highlights include:
The Harry Potter movies are still available under this umbrella now. Well, a lot of them have Christmas scenes in them, so that’s close enough.
Superhero (2nd - 29th November)
There’s a notable shifting of the balance towards non MCU characters in this particular set as Disney has now corralled almost all of the MCU movies. Interestingly, Sony’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is a new arrival on Netflix in November and can still be found here on Sky Cinema. See, it is possible to play nicely together!
Avengers: Endgame (2019)
Man of Steel (2013)
Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)
Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse (2018)
The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)
The Dark Knight Trilogy: Batman Begins (2005), The Dark Knight (2008), The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
Best of 2020 (From 30th November)
This collection just squeaks in for the end of the month so you can re-experience the best that Sky Cinema had to offer throughout the year and maybe catch up on a few that passed you by.
Ad Astra (2019)
Charlie’s Angels (2019)
Doctor Sleep (2019)
It Chapter 2 (2019)
Jojo Rabbit (2020)
Just Mercy (2019)
Le Mans 66 (2019)
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)
The Good Liar (2019)
The Invisible Man (2020)
(Requires Sky TV subscription, Now TV Entertainment Pass)
Perfect Harmony (2020, S1) FOX UK
Bradley Whitford stars as a former Princeton music professor who has hit rock bottom. One night at his lowest ebb, he unexpectedly stumbles into a choir practice at a small-town church where he finds a group of singers that are out of tune in more ways than one. Despite the ultimate clash of sensibilities, each may be just what the other needs to help them all move on.
Baskets (2019, S4/final) FOX UK
After failing at a prestigious French clowning college in Paris, Chip Baskets looks to keep his dream of becoming a professional clown alive and takes a job at his a local rodeo. He’s also got his twin brother Dale to contend with.
Zach Galifianakis stars in the roles of both brothers in this bitter-sweet comedy drama.
Trackers (2020, S1) Sky Atlantic
Action series featuring various stories of organized crime, diamond smuggling, black rhinos, the CIA and international terrorism in Cape Town, South Africa. And since everybody leaves a trace of some sort, you call in the Trackers.
Based on the Deon Meyer 2011 crime novel of the same name.
The Vow (2020, All episodes available) Sky Documentaries
From Oscar-nominated, Emmy-winning directors Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer, The Vow examines the self-improvement group NXIVM, whose leaders have been charged with sex trafficking and racketeering conspiracy. The docuseries takes a deep, nuanced look at the experiences of its members, spotlighting their universal desire for personal growth. Amidst claims by NXIVM participants of both profound transformation and devastating abuse, the series seeks to reveal the issues behind the headlines and explore the emotional toll of unfolding events on these individuals.
Legal proceedings are currently underway against its highest profile members, with founder Keith Raniere having just been handed a 120 year sentence for his crimes.
The Outpost (2020, S3 ) Syfy
The Outpost follows Talon (Jessica Green), the lone survivor of a race called 'Blackbloods'. Years after her entire village is destroyed by a gang of brutal mercenaries, Talon travels to a lawless fortress on the edge of the civilised world, as she tracks the killers of her family. On her journey to this outpost, Talon discovers she possesses a mysterious supernatural power that she must learn to control in order to save herself, and defend the world against a fanatical religious dictator.
The Good Lord Bird (2020 Limited Series) Sky Atlantic
Henry "Onion" Shackleford is an enslaved boy who falls in with failed preacher John Brown’s misfit family of abolitionist soldiers and finds himself in the 1859 raid at Harpers Ferry, an unsuccessful uprising which ultimately leads to the American Civil War.
Ethan Hawke stars as abolitionist John Brown, a man who fervently believes violence as unfortunately necessary if slavery in America is to be eliminated, in this limited series based on the novel of the same name by James McBride. Although the character of Onion played by Joshua Caleb Johnson is fictional, the story is rooted in real events.
Trickster (2020, S1) Syfy - Update 09-Nov-2020, 23rd Nov air date confirmed.
Jared is an Indigenous teen who struggles to keep his self medicating mum and unemployed dad afloat by holding down an after-school job and small time drug dealing. When a stranger named Wade enters his life and ruptures the delicate balance, an unnerving slow burn of strange events and weird visions cause Jared's already-messy life to crescendo to an epic clash of magic, monsters and mayhem.
Described as a "darkly humorous coming-of-age story," The Trickster is a supernatural thriller based on the best-selling novel Son of a Trickster by Eden Robinson.
Tin Star: Liverpool (2020, S3 / Final) Sky Atlantic - Update 09-Nov-2020, air date of 10th Dec 2020 confirmed.
A former undercover UK cop turned police chief of a small town in the Canadian Rockies does what he must to defend his family from those in power whether it's the oilmen, the preachers or the gangsters.
The thrilling, shocking and darkly comic third and final season of Tin Star tells the story of Jack, Angela and Anna returning to Liverpool, after their trials in the Canadian Rockies, to where their story began twenty years ago. They will face their deadliest enemies in a battle with the past to win freedom in the present but may be forced to face up to the devastating and inescapable truth about who they really are.
Features Tim Roth in scary mode.
The Outsider (2020, S1) Sky Atlantic - Update: 09-Nov-2020: No confirmation as yet that this is returning to Sky / NowTV as a Boxset.
Police detective Ralph Anderson is called to investigate the mutilated body of 11-year-old Frankie Peterson found in the Georgia woods. The mysterious circumstances surrounding this horrifying crime leads Ralph, still grieving the recent death of his own son, to bring in unorthodox private investigator Holly Gibney, whose uncanny abilities he hopes will help explain the unexplainable.
Based on the best-selling novel by Stephen King, The Outsider returns after premiering on HBO in January earlier this year and features an impressive cast including Ben Mendelsohn, Cynthia Erivo, Bill Camp, Mare Winningham, Paddy Considine and Jason Bateman.
So that’s it for November. As new content is added, we’ll update the listing, so be sure to check back so you don’t miss out. In the meantime, why not leave a comment and let us know what you’re looking forward to, what you’ve enjoyed and maybe what was disappointing.