As a big music fan, one of the Netflix releases I’m most excited for next week is a documentary about Jon Batiste, the composer and bandleader on CBS’ The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. American Symphony, from Academy Award-nominated director Matthew Heineman, catches up with Batiste at a moment in 2022 when he seemed to have it all: His 11 Grammy nominations have just been announced, and he’s working toward a one-night-only performance at Carnegie Hall to present his composition from which the documentary takes its name.
As life so often does, though, Batiste’s success is counterpointed by tragedy. He learns that after a decade-long remission, his life partner’s cancer has returned. In fact, his partner Suleika Jaouad starts chemotherapy on the very same day his Grammy nominations are announced. Over a stirring score in the background, the movie’s trailer alone — in which Batiste at one point declares that “You have to confront the brutal reality, but at the same time have completely unwavering faith” — is quite a tear-jerker.
“Some people are hardwired to create,” Batiste said in an interview with the streamer ahead of American Symphony’s debut on Nov. 29. “We get energy from writing and performing, creating, and gathering people into a community. We also get energy from being together, the two of us, or being alone. We go through these periods of incubation, creativity, and refinement, incubation, creativity, and refinement.”
It’s a way of life, he continues, that’s also “a survival mechanism.” Heineman, who followed the couple through a period that included “shifts in the story’s direction,” adds that he’s never met anyone before who knows themself as well as Batiste and Jaouad. For the documentary, far and away the most emotionally resonant of all of next week’s Netflix releases, Batiste also composed an original song, which you can check out below:
As for what other releases are coming to Netflix over the next seven days, meanwhile, here’s a rundown of some of the other can’t-miss titles worth checking out:
- May December: In director Todd Haynes’ film, a TV actress played by Natalie Portman arrives in a suburban community to research her next role, playing one-half of a married couple whose tabloid romance gripped the nation. Her arrival causes long-dormant emotions in the couple to resurface. Release date: Dec. 1.
- Love like a K-drama: I’m a K-drama addict, so I can’t wait to check out this next Netflix reality series. Per the streamer, “This is a reality dating show focusing on eight male and female actors from Korea and Japan as they live together, and pair up to try and land the lead roles in six mini K-dramas — and see if they fall in love.” Release date: Nov. 28.
- Obliterated: From the creators of Netflix’s Emmy-nominated Cobra Kai comes this high-octane action comedy about a special forces team that stops a threat to Las Vegas. They deactivate a bomb, then hold a wild party in celebration — only to learn the bomb was a fake, and now they have to fight through their booze- and drug-fueled state to find the real bomb. Release date: Nov. 30.
- Virgin River, Season 5 Part 2: Last but not least, Virgin River fans are getting two holiday-themed episodes this coming week, representing the second part of the hit show’s fifth season. “The holiday episodes are a little bit lighter, and we wanted to play a little more comedy after the weight of this season,” Virgin River producer Patrick Sean Smith told Glamour. “It felt like, if we’re going to give a holiday gift to the audience, let’s make it a fun one.” Release date: Nov. 30.