Yes, it’s the weekend, again, and time to review the best new movies and television shows added online, to Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. So let’s get started!
Hulu has some good adds this week, but none are bigger than its October episode of Into the Dark, Uncanny Annie. This Halloween episode centers on a bunch of college students, played by Adelaide Kane, Georgie Flores, Paige McGhee, Jacques Colimon, Dylan Arnold, and Evan Bittencourt, gather for a night of games, namely Uncanny Annie, and find themselves drawn into the game world and have to confront it’s ghosts and other horrors to survive the night. The creepy Annie character is played by Karlisha Hurley and the director is Paul Davis. Basically, yes, it’s a horror themed Jumanji and it gets a 5.5/10 on IMDb. It’s a fun Into the Dark episode. Hulu has also added Getting Grace, a 2017 comedy/drama from director Daniel Roebuck. This is a story of a sixteen year old girl(Madelyn Dundon), dying of cancer, who has lost her sense of humor or curiosity. So she seeks out the secrets of death, a funeral home run by a director played by Roebuck. The cast also includes Dana Ashbrook, Duane Whitaker, Marsha Dietlein Bennett and Brett Anthony. It won numerous awards, mostly at regional film festivals, and it gets a 7.1/10 on IMDb. Hulu also offers Teen Spirit, the 2018 musical drama. Here, Elle Fanning plays a shy British teenager who joins a singing competition to escape her difficult family situation and, she thinks, a dull life. What she finds may not be better though, as she is tested by finding herself offered stardom.The movie also stars Rebecca Hall, Zlatko Buric, Agnieshka Grochowska, Elizabeth Berrington and Jordan Stephens and is directed and written by Max Minghella. This is a movie that sticks to formula, but has a lot of lively pop music, by the likes of Annie Lennox, Tegan & Sarah and Katy Perry. And it gets a 6.2/10 on IMDb. And, finally, Hulu has added one of the best musical documentaries in a decade, Amazing Grace, featuring the amazing Aretha Franklin. This was filmed in 1972 by Sydney Pollock, less, and features Aretha Franklin in the New Temple Baptist Church in L.A. and bears witness as she records her gospel album Amazing Grace. But this wasn’t released syncing difficulties, and was only seen by the public in 2018, after Aretha’s death, when her family arranged for its release. It has appearances by James Cleveland, C.L. Franklin(Aretha’s father and famous pastor), Bernanrd Purdie, Chuck Rainey, Mick Jagger and Charlie Watts. OMG, this is a wonderful movie, with Lael Lowenstien of NPR saying “it lives up to its name… There is nothing more visceral, transporting, or transcendent than watching than watching Aretha Franklin.” You don’t have to be religious to love this(I’m not), and it gets a stunning 99% on Rotten Tomatoes. Don’t miss it, in fact, watch it twice. I will.
Netflix has some great adds this week, but if you want some thrills for Halloween this early, you might like In the Tall Grass, the Canadian adaptation of Stephen King and Joe Hill‘s 2012 novella of the same name. This tells the tale of Becky(Laysla De Oliveira) and Cal(Avery Whitted) on their trip to San Diego to give up the child she is pregnant with, who stop at a field of grass, when she hears a boy’s cries. They wade into the grass to help, only to find his cries getting fainter and they find themselves stuck in an unending sea of grass. The show also stars Patrick Wilson, Will Buie Jr., Harrison Gilbertson and Rachel Wilson, and the director is Vincenzo Natali(Splice, Cypher). It doesn’t get wonderful reviews, Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 43% and IMDb a 5.1/10, but if you need horror, you need horror. Netflix also offers one of the most important series for Americans this week Living Undocumented, a 2019 documentary. Co-directed by Aaron Saidman(Leah Rimini: Scientology and the Aftermath) and Anna Chai(The Mind of a Chef), this six part series looks at undocumented migrants and the lives of the families affected by deportation. It’s a heart-wrenching experience to watch each episode about a different family from a different country of origin, living in fear and being watched closely by authorities, or disappear, to be lost to a legal maze of detention or even deportation. Selena Gomez is an executive producer of the show. Mashable calls it “a fantastic, simultaneously educational and emotional learning experience.” And it deserves a far better rating than the 5.1/10 on IMDb. It’s well worth seeing. Netflix has also added My Country: The New Age, a 2019 Korean historical drama series. It takes place at the end of the Goryeon period and the beginning of the great Joseon period, about 1392, when two friends become enemies and fight on opposite sides. It stars Yang Se-jong, Woo Do-hwan, Kim Seol-hyun and Jang Hyuk. There are no star ratings online for this show that I can find, but it’s a beautiful and exciting historical drama, with new episodes every week. That’s all I need to know. Ready to Mingle is also newly available on Netflix, a 2019 Mexican comedy. This is about a young woman, rather desperate to be married, who joins a group for woman wanting to find a husband, after her long term boyfriend breaks up with her. It stars Cassandra Ciangerhotti, Gabriella de la Garza, Iran Castillo, Sophie Aleander-Katz, Flor Eduarda Gurrola and Mariana Cabrera and is directed by Luis Javier Henaine. Ciangerhotti, who you may recognize from HBO’s Los Espookys, is wonderfully dry and funny here. The Daily Dot says it’s a “snappy rom-com for the online era,” and has ” biting wit and casual charm.” I’m watching. And, finally, Netflix has Salam, the First (Muslim) Nobel Laureate, a 2019 documentary about Abdus Salam. Salam was the first Pakistani to win the Nobel Prize, for Physics in 1979, but he is omitted from the Pakistani books and other media and vilified by right-wing clerics for being a Qadiani, a slur, for belonging to the Ahmadiyya community. He grew up in Punjab, India, in a small village and was a child prodigy. The director here is Anand Kamalakar and this film won multiple awards, including winning the People’s Choice Award at the Chicago South Asian Film Festival and the Jury Award at the Raw Science Film Festival. And it gets an amazing 8.9/10 on IMDb. It’s on my list.
Amazon’s biggest add this week has to be the 2018 scifi horror movie High Life, starring Robert Pattinson. Here, Pattinson plays a criminal sentenced, among others, to serve on a mission to extract energy from a black hole, while taking part in experiments along the way, under the cruel scientist, played by Juliette Binoche, who is determined to create a child by artificial insemination. The cast also includes André Benjamin, Mia Goth, Agata Buzek, Lars Eldinger and Jesse Ross, and it is directed by Clair Denis(Beau Travail), in her first English language film. This movie got a lot of buzz last year(it won at the Ghent and Indiewire Film Festivals) but it’s a weird and confounding film, too, with Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle calling it “brilliant in a wonderfully twisted way.” And it gets an 83% on Rotten Tomatoes. Amazon has also added What We Did on Our Holiday, a 2014 British comedy. Rosamund Pike(Gone Girl) and David Tennant(Doctor Who) star as a separated couple reunited(temporarily) for a family trip with the kids to the Scottish highlands for Tennant‘s father’s birthday party(he’s played by Billy Connolly) who is suffering from terminal cancer. Of course, all does not go smoothly, and a lot happens in just the hour and a 1/2 of the movie. Emilia Jones, Bobby Smallridge, Annette Crosbie, Celia Imre, Amelia Bullmore and Ben Miller also star, with Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin co-direct. Glenn Kenny of RogerEbert.com calls it “breezy entertainment,” and it gets a 73% on Rotten Tomatoes and 6.9/10 on IMDb. And, finally, Amazon has added the classic Harold and Maude, the 1971 dark comedy from director Hal Ashby(The Last Detail, Being There). Here, Harold(Bud Cort), a 20 year-old obsessed with death, meets Maude(the wonderful Ruth Gordon), a 79 year-old who loves funerals, and they become an item and Maude teaches Harold a zest for life he never knew. The cast also includes Vivian Pickles, Cyril Cusack, Charles Tyner and Ellen Geer. It’s a beautiful movie with an amazing soundtrack by Cat Stevens. If you’ve never seen it, you’re in for a treat, especially if you like dark comedy. And it gets a 7.9/10 on IMDb. Don’t miss it.
So sit back and binge this weekend, with classics old and new, on Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Prime. Enjoy!