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Inside Streaming (Aug 28th, 2019)

1. Netflix will release a total of 10 movies this fall for limited runs in theaters, hoping to garner awards recognition. Though the company had hoped to send Martin Scorsese's "The Irishman" to major theater chains, negotiations fell through, and instead, it will open for a few weeks in independent theaters on November 1. (Theater-goers should note that the film apparently runs 210 minutes, or about 3.5 hours, in length.) Other Netflix films with theatrical releases scheduled include: Steven Soderbergh's Panama Papers dramedy "The Laundromat"; the Tokyo-set mystery-thriller "Earthquake Bird," starring Alicia Vikander; Noah Baumbach's divorce saga "Marriage Story"; the animated Santa origin story "Klaus"; and "The Two Popes," with Anthony Hopkins playing Pope Benedict XVI and Jonathan Pryce as Pope Francis. Last year, Netflix only opened four films in theaters. – VERGE

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2. The limited Netflix series "The Spy," based on the true story of an Israeli clerk turned Mossad agent, now has a trailer. Sacha Baron Cohen stars in the series, in a rare dramatic role, as Eli Cohen, who goes undercover in Syria in the 1960s and later "finds it hard to strip off his double identity." Noah Emmerich of "The Americans" co-stars as Cohen's handler and Hadar Ratzon Rotem of "Homeland" plays his wife, Nadia. "The Spy" will begin streaming on September 6. – INDIEWIRE

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3. WHAT'S NEW ON STREAMING TODAY?

DROPPIN' CASH: LOS ANGELES: In this reality series from Complex, musicians, athletes, and other LA personalities go on wildly luxurious shopping sprees. It's returning to Netflix for a second season. [Netflix]

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: THE HIDDEN WORLD: The "Train Your Dragon" animated fantasy trilogy wraps up this 2019 adventure, in which the Viking Hiccup and his winged pal Toothless discover a secret dragon utopia. Featuring the voices of Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera, Cate Blancett, and Craig Ferguson. [Hulu]

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4. According to the Wall Street Journal, Amazon has sought out exclusive content for its ad-supported IMDb TV service. An unnamed source told the WSJ that Amazon had reached out to Vice about potentially acquiring the news program "Vice News Tonight," which was canceled earlier this year by HBO. The company has apparently also explored the possibility of paying up-front fees to license holders, in exchange for platform exclusivity, rather than the previous revenue share model with which the service launched in January (as Freedive). IMDb TV faces heavy competition from similar ad-supported free services, such as Pluto TV and Roku Channel. – WSJ

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WORLDLY WEDNESDAY: "CANNON BUSTERS" ON NETFLIX

"Cannon Busters" started life as a 2005 American comic book series, by a guy named LeSean Thomas, who later moved to South Korea and got involved with TV animation. (His TV credits include "The Legend of Korra" and "Black Dynamite.") Thomas has been developing an animated series based on the book for about five years now, and the first 12-episode season has finally landed on Netflix.

I bring up all this backstory because Thomas' own background and experience helps to explain the unique melting-pot sensibility of the "Cannon Busters" series. It's a fundamentally American story, largely inspired by not only serialized Westerns but also both hip-hop and cowboy culture. (The lead character is a black dude who drives a car that turns into a murderous cattle robot. It's basically if Lil Nas X were a cartoon.) But it's also VERY MUCH a Japanese anime series, produced in Japan by largely Japanese animators, in the Japanese language. The show is funny, and even silly, but also frequently melodramatic, and with a surprisingly ugly, violent streak running through some episodes. Though it looks and feels like a contemporary show that's suitably of-the-moment, "Cannon Busters" also has a timeless quality and recalls some of the great Western-influenced anime of the past. (Most notably: "Cowboy Bebop" and "Trigun.") What I'm saying is, there's a lot going on here.

Most of the action takes place in the kingdom of Gearbolt, a Western-looking frontier that's nonetheless populated largely by sentient robots. It's home to Philly The Kid (Kenn Michael), an outlaw who also happens to be entirely unkillable. He can certainly be injured, brutally, which happens all the time, because he's reckless and not actually very good at fighting. But, like Wolverine before him, Philly's body seems to have adapted the ability to heal and recuperate from just about any damage. 

Next to Gearbolt is the fantasy kingdom of Botica, which looks less like the Wild West and more like Middle-earth, though it's also full of robots. They include SAM (Kamali Minter), a friendship robot who was designed to befriend the self-centered Prince Kelby (Zeno Robinson). She's become stranded in Gearbolt, and uses her friendly programming to connect with both Philly and a repair droid named Casey Turnbuckle (Stephanie Sheh). The episodes find these three journeying across the frontier and attempting to return SAM to Botica, while learning more about one another and getting into scrapes and side adventures.

As with most animated shows of its kind, there's a lot of mythology and backstory packed into "Cannon Busters," but the show nonetheless feels a bit lighter on its feet than many other recent animes I've seen. Complexity always takes a backseat here to comedy and adventure. There's worldbuilding aplenty to make Gearbolt feel expansive and lived-in, and much of which is hugely imaginative and strange, but it's rarely intricate or more elaborate than needed. The animation, is well, is top drawer, and remarkably fluid, with well-designed action sequences that all have a rise and fall, like mini-narratives within the larger episode. (Thomas served as the chief director himself, in collaboration with Takahiro Natori.)

I enjoyed "Cannon Busters" more than I expected. And at just 12 episodes, under 30 minutes each, it's a breeze to binge through quickly.

THE BASICS

Title: "Cannon Busters"
Where to Watch: Netflix
Episodes: 12 (1 season)
Running time: 24 minutes each
Genre: Animated fantasy-comedy
In Japanese with English subtitles or dubbing

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5. Eight people have been indicted by a grand jury for operating the online streaming service Jetflicks. The service, which operated out of Las Vegas, allowed users to search for, stream and download copyrighted TV and film content, from sites including The Pirate Bay. All eight individuals were charged with conspiracy to violate federal criminal copyright law, resulting in the loss of millions of dollars by the copyright holders. One of the defendants, Darryl Polo, was also indicted for operating a second streaming service, iStreamItAll. – VARIETY

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6. HBO renewed the half-hour comedy series "A Black Lady Sketch Show" for a second season. The series, from creator Robin Thede, features a core cast made up of entirely black women, also including Ashley Nicole Black, Gabrielle Dennis, Quinta Brunson, and executive producer Issa Rae. Thede previously hosted the late-night series "The Rundown with Robin Thede" for BET. – DEADLINE

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7. The eight-episode French-language horror series "Marianne" hits Netflix on September 13. Victoire Du Bois stars in the series as an author, Emma, who is being haunted by a witch named Marianne. Though initially, Emma's writing seems to keep Marianne at bay, eventually the witch begins bringing her fictional characters and scenarios into the real world. "Marianne" comes from writer/director Samuel Bodin, who previously created the French WWII comedy series "Lazy Company." – IO9

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8. A new Hulu deal, first posted to Instagram by TV personality Chrissy Teigen, offers an ad-supported subscription for just $2.99 per month. Subscribers signing up for the new deal must agree to keep Hulu for six months. Teigen has signed on to create a series of cooking shows for the platform, including the upcoming "Family Style," which she'll co-host with chef David Chang. – CNET

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9. Hulu rolled out redesigned iOS and Android apps, eliminating the "Lineup" landing page in favor of a new section called "Hulu Picks." 

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10. Members of Disney's fan club, D23, will be eligible for a significant discount on Disney+, provided they sign up for a three-year subscription. 

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Lon Harris is the writer and editor of Inside Streaming, and was the very first person to ever write an Inside newsletter. He lives in Los Angeles, California, and also writes about TV and film for Fandom, Screen Junkies, Rotten Tomatoes, Gamma Ray and others. He competes on The Movie Trivia Schmoedown as "The Professor." You can follow him on Twitter @lons

Editor: David Stegon, a senior editor at Inside, whose reporting experience includes cryptocurrency and technology

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