Play Hard

Culture | What we’ll be watching and reading this June

Rain or shine, we'll be making time for these picks during June.

Written by High Life North
Published 05.06.2020

By Christopher Kingston

We’re into the month of June already and things are slowly but surely getting back to normal – children are returning to schools and shops are reopening their doors once again, albeit with social distancing measures in place. It may be a while before the pubs, restaurants and cinemas reopen, but in the meantime, we have lots of great movies, TV shows and books to recommend in yet another self-isolation special. 

Artemis Fowl

The latest Disney adventure was due for release at cinemas last year, but due to recent events, it was one of many to be delayed or put straight on to a streaming platform. We follow young Artemis, played by newcomer Ferdia Shaw, a criminal prodigy who must hunt down a secret society of fairies in an attempt to find his father. The film also stars Lara McDonnell as Captain Holly Short, Judi Dench as Captain Root and Colin Farrell as his father. Directed by the one and only Kenneth Branagh who also directed Disney’s Cinderella in 2015, Artemis Fowl is based on the series of eight books by Eoin Colfer who described it as Die Hard with fairies. 

Out 12 June – Disney Plus 

The Personal History of David Copperfield

Adapted from the classic Charles Dickens novel, The Personal History of David Copperfield brings to life one of the author’s most cherished characters. From his birth to his adulthood, David Copperfield (played by Dev Patel) is surrounded by kindness, wickedness, poverty and wealth, as he meets a host of remarkable characters. As David sets out to be a writer in his quest for family, romance and status, the story of his life is the most seductive tale of all. Also starring Peter Capaldi (Dr Who) as Mr Micawber and Ben Whishaw (Paddington) as Uriah Heep.  

DVD /Blu Ray – 15 June 

Ready Player One

A new film from Steven Spielberg is always a treat, and Ready Player One is no exception. Based on the book of the same name by Ernest Cline, Ready Player One is set in 2045, in a world on the brink of chaos. People find salvation in the OASIS, a virtual reality universe created by James Haliday (played by Mark Rylance). When he dies suddenly, he leaves his fortune to the first person to find a digital Easter egg hidden somewhere in the virtual world.  When Wade Watts, played by Tye Sheridan, decides to join the contest he finds himself hurled into a fantastical universe of discovery and danger to save the OASIS.

Amazon Prime – out now 

The High Note

Starring Dakota Johnson of Fifty Shades of Grey fame as Maggie Sherwoode, a personal assistant to Grace Davis (Tracee Ellis Ross) a famous singer. Maggie, who has dreams of being a music producer, finds herself being overworked, until both Maggie and Grace are presented with a choice that could alter the course of their careers. Reminiscent of The Devil Wears Prada and boasting a killer soundtrack with songs sung by Tracee Ellis Ross, The High Note also stars Ice Cube and Eddie Izzard to form an unmissable movie.

Various streaming platforms – out now

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga

This year’s annual celebration of song and kitsch may have been a no-show thanks to COVID-19 but it is not going to stop Will Ferrell from seeking Eurovision glory. Icelandic duo Fire Saga, played by Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams, are seeking to be champions of the song contest in this mockumentary. With an all-star cast including Pierce Brosnan, Demi Lovato, Dan Stevens and even a cameo appearance from Graham Norton among others, this is sure to fill a Eurovision-shaped hole in your heart.

Netflix – 26 June 

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

The perfect film for your summer. Its 5-years after the events of the first film and Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) is preparing for the grand reopening of Hotel Bella Donna, whilst learning more about her mother’s past. Joining her are an all-star cast of both familiar and new faces including Pierce Brosnan, Julie Walters and Andy Garcia, not to mention an unforgettable appearance from the one and only Cher.            

Netflix – 26 June

Space Force

Steve Carell reunites with Greg Daniels, the creator of the American version of The Office in this satirical series based on Donald Trump’s plan to create a new branch of the military in an attempt to conquer space. The workplace comedy is reminiscent of The Office and plays off of the President’s ridiculed idea to get American “boots on the Moon” by 2024. Steve Carell plays General Mark R. Naird, Space Force’s first Chief of Space Operations and John Malkovich as a Space Force scientist. Whatever your political views, you’re guaranteed to laugh out loud at this unusual comedy’s premise.     

Netflix – out now

Alex Rider

Based on the book series for young adults by author Anthony Horowitz comes a new adaption of his novel, Point Blanc. Anyone who remembers the 2006 movie Stormbreaker, which was met by disappointing reviews from fans and critics alike, can hopefully breathe a sigh of relief with Alex Rider. We follow Alex, this time played by Otto Farrant, as he is recruited by a subdivision of MI6 to investigate the mysterious Point Blanc Academy, a school in the French Alps for troubled rich children. With Vicky McClure (Line of Duty) as Mrs Jones and Stephen Dillane (Darkest Hour) as MI6 department head Alan Blunt, it looks like we are in safe hands. However, like the James Bond series’, fans may be disappointed to learn that quirky gadgets like a Nintendo Gameboy that emitted a smokescreen are gone in an attempt to make the series more current. Alex Rider is perfect for Spy fans while we wait for the next James Bond film. 

Amazon Prime – out now

Queer Eye 

Returning for its fifth season, Queer Eye is the positive influence we all need right now. Get ready to laugh, cry and have your attitude given a serious makeover as the Fab Five return to inject some much-needed self-love, this time to the people of Philadelphia. One of the most uplifting programmes to come from Netflix, it’s returned just in time to help lift our spirits during lockdown.

Netflix – 5 June

The Woods

If you enjoyed recent Netflix hits Safe and The Stranger, you’ll be pleased to know The Woods is based on another Harlan Coben novel of the same name. In this six-episode series, we follow Pawel Kopinski, whose sister went missing in the woods 25-years ago. Set in two different decades, 1994 and 2019, dangerous secrets from his past threaten to tear apart everything he has been trying to hold together. The series was shot in Poland and is subtitled but is still definitely worth watching for its stylish visuals, moody setting and gripping story.

Netflix – 12 June

My Brilliant Friend – Season 2 

Adapted for the small screen from Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels about the lifelong friendship between Lila and Elena. Set in a tough area of Naples in the 1950s, we explore their childhoods growing up and their first romantic relationships. A new book by the author is due to for publication in September (The Lying Life of Adults) and as always, we at HLN highly recommend reading the books, which are modern classics and have taken the world by storm. What is even more intriguing is not much is known about Elena Ferrante as her true identity remains hidden.

Sky/Now TV – 19 June

The Politician – Season 2

Payton Hobart (Ben Platt), a go-getter with political aspirations, was running for student body president in high school in season one. Season two finds him on the path to becoming the president of the United States, where he must decide what kind of politician he wants to be in order to succeed, even if it means exposing secrets and lies. Also starring Gwyneth Paltrow as his mother, Georgina Hobart, who threatens to upstage him and what he hopes to accomplish, and Bette Midler as no-nonsense chief of staff Hadassah Gold. Perfect for fans of political dramas.

Netflix – 19 June

Angels of the North – Series 2

The girls from Gateshead are back, so cancel your plans and make such you watch this fly-on-the-wall reality show. A surprise hit for the BBC when it launched last year, so if you liked series 1 you will love this second instalment. With only four episodes made available due to the global pandemic, we follow the highs and lows of the staff at Longlox super salon near the Metrocentre. Definitely worth a little binge-watch.     

BBC iPlayer – out now


In these strange times, the acting community has been one of the hardest hit with stage shows and films on hold, for now, however, it’s nice to see so many dramas and comedies are still being made using the latest technology such as self-shooting and video conferencing. David Tennant and Michael Sheen reunite in this 15-minute six-part comedy series about a group of actors who are furloughed when their upcoming West End play is brought to a halt. The series will follow the cast members as they battle to keep rehearsals on track.

BBC One and iPlayer – coming soon

After the End by Clare Mackintosh

Normally known for her crime fiction, this is a very different and very personal story from Author Clare Mackintosh. We Follow Max and Pip, who together have to make the most important decision of their lives, but they don’t agree with each other. They face an impossible choice that threatens them both and nothing will be the same again. Be prepared to have a few tissues on hand as this one is a real tearjerker based on personal experiences.

Set My Heart to Five by Simon Stephenson 

Set My Heart to Five is a story of everything from loneliness to love and what it means to be human. Despite beings Stephenson’s debut novel, the reviewers are already raving about it. The story sees Jared, a friendless outcast who prefers it that way because feelings will ruin your life. Yet somehow, he inexplicably starts to feel.

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

The Vanishing Half tells a story of the identical Vignes twin sisters, who grew up in a small Southern black community. After running away, their adult lives become very different – their families, their communities and even their racial identities. Emotional and riveting, this is a story of America’s history with race and a beautiful tale of family.

While We Can’t Hug (A Hedgehog and Tortoise Story) by Eoin McLaughlin 

One for young readers, from the author of The Hug, is this latest heart-warming story of love and friendship, perfect for reading to your children during the current climate. Exploring how to deal with a lack of contact and other ways to show love, this is a must-read for your children.

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