With travel restrictions still firmly in place, it is a time of mourning for the foreign holidays that were meant to be this summer. City breaks and sun-soaked beaches may now be a distant dream, but thanks to the eclectic selection of world cinema which is due to be released on television and streaming platforms this week, we still have the opportunity to immerse ourselves in places and cultures anew. That’s why No More Workhorse is here, ready to whisk you on a journey from Japanese-occupied Korea to the Bay of Gibraltar with a dramatic stop-off in post-communist Russia.
Mark September 8 in your diaries, because this is the day that Park Chan-Wook’s 2016 masterpiece The Handmaiden is finally being added to Netflix! Set in 1930s Korea during the Japanese occupation, this breathtaking psychological thriller follows Sook-hee, a young woman who is hired as a handmaiden to the Japanese heiress Lady Sideko. Unbeknownst to her mistress, Sook-hee has actually been employed by a conman posing as a Japanese Count. Her job is to help this swindler seduce the reclusive Sideko so that he can steal her money and eventually institutionalise her. Things, however, do not go to plan.
Although this stunning film is an essential watch, be warned that it should not be mixed with any cheese-based snacks, because it is already guaranteed to give you nightmares. Likewise, anybody who works in marine biology or just happens to feel a kinship with sea creatures should proceed with caution, because you will never look at octopuses the same way again after watching The Handmaiden.
La Línea: Shadow of Narco
From Breaking Bad and Narcos to Love/Hate and The Wire, narcodrama is an enduring and seductive force in the world of television. If you have ever wondered how accurate these fictional portrayals of the drug trade really are, La Línea: Shadow of Narco attempts to provide answers. This deep-diving investigative documentary series focuses on the Spanish beach town of La Línea de la Concepción, which is now one of Europe’s largest drug trafficking hubs.
Dropping on Netflix on September 9, it provides perspectives from the proverbial right side of the law, making use of extensive interviews with a number of the region’s law enforcement officials as well as plenty of shocking footage of drug busts and other dangers associated with life in La Línea. If this documentary is attempting to say anything, it is that if you take a trip to this seemingly idyllic coastal town you can leave your swimsuit at home because it’s a bulletproof vest that you will need. All in all, this series makes the Hutch-Kinehan feud look as tame as Teletubbies.
Set in turn-of-the-century Russia as the country struggles with the aftereffects of the communist era, Moscow Noir is an eight-part television series which follows Swedish investment banker Tom Blixen, who is played by Adam Pålsson of recent Young Wallander fame. After agreeing to a risky business trade, Blixen unwittingly becomes embroiled in dangerous dealings with oligarchs, millionaires, politicians and violent criminals. It may be riddled with clichés (yes, the broody, emotionally-repressed Blixen does find his work negatively impacting his relationships), but it is the kind of television that we all need during these monotonous, socially distanced times. Expect gratuitous gore and a ludicrously high body count.
Moscow Noir will be shown on Channel 4 for the first time on September 13 at 11pm, but if you cannot wait that long, all episodes will be available on-demand on All4 from September 11.