Yes, it’s that time again, the weekend, and time to review the best new movies and television shows added online, to Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Prime. So let’s get started!
The biggest new add on Hulu this week has to be Wild Rose, the 2018 comedy drama from director Tom Harper(Peaky Blinders).This tells the story of Rose Lynn, a Scottish woman determined to become a famous country singer, the only trouble is she’s just been released from prison, lives in Glasgow, and has two children she doesn’t know exactly how to deal with. Jessie Buckley got rave reviews for her title role here, she’s a great singer and brings great life to her role. Julie Walters(!), Sophie Okendo, Jamie Sives and James Harkness also star, with Daisy Littlefeld and Adam Mitchell playing her children. The Washington Post called it “a sweet, stirring, and yet refreshingly unsentimental tale of a singer with ambition (and pipes to match), the movie “Wild Rose” is like the anti-“A Star Is Born.” And it gets a stunning 93% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 7.2/10 on IMDb. Don’t miss it. Hulu has also added The Kid, the 2019 western directed by Vincent D’Onofrio. Jake Schur stars as a boy, Rio, in trouble, who killed his father when he beat his mother to death, and now desperately seeks to save his sister(Leila George) from his nasty uncle,played by Chris Pratt. But Rio also idolizes Billy the Kid, played by Dane DeHaan, and amazingly, meets and befriends him and gets the help of Sheriff Pat Garrett, played by Ethan Hawke. D’Onofrio and Adam Baldwin also appear, in cameo roles. But there isn’t a lot of new ideas here, with women destined to old stereotypical roles. Oh, and it’s super violent. Adam Graham of the Detroit News says, “[it] manages some picturesque shots of Western landscapes, and Hawke, who has hit a career stride in recent years, wouldn’t know how to turn in a bad performance if he tried. But there’s not enough here to make this journey worth taking.” And it gets only a 45% on Rotten Tomatoes. I wouldn’t bother. Hulu also newly offers Cold Case Hammarskjöld, the 2019 Danish documentary. This investigates the 1961 death of UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld in a plane crash in Rhodesia, and whether white supremacist groups were involved in the crash, with the end of assassinating Hammarskjöld. But director Mads Brugger is known as a “prankumentarian,” not usually a serious source of news. So, it’s all the more shocking when he comes up with actual hard news about racist groups in the 60‘s in what is now South Africa. This movie won at Sundance, in the World Cinema – Documentary category and Cheshire of RogerEbert.com says its, “a tremendously absorbing film, a documentary that plays like a first-rate thriller hinging on key issues of the Cold War and African decolonization.” And it gets an 82% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 7.7/10 on IMDb. Definitely on my list. And, finally, Hulu has the 2019 Italian movie Loro, directed by Paolo Sorrentino(Il Divo). Here, Sorrentino explores the myth of Sylvio Berlusconi, the celebrity/prime minister of Italy, a corrupt billionaire that might bring to mind other leaders now in power. Berlusconi is perfectly played by Toni Servillo, and the film follows him through endless parties and sometimes speechifying, making promises he rarely keeps.Elena Sofia Ricci, Riccardo Scamarcio,Euridice Axen,Kasia Smutniak, and Fabrizio Bentivoglio also star. Sorrentino is a master director and his subject of a leader ruling merely because of personality and charisma is especially prescient in this country now. And it gets a 79% on Rotten Tomatoes. I’m watching
There are some big adds on Netflix this week, but none bigger than the award winning 2019 movie The Two Popes. Based on Anthony McCarten‘s 2017 play The Pope, this centers on meetings in 2015, between Pope Benedict XVI(played by Anthony Hopkins) and the soon to be Pope Francis, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio(played by Jonathan Pryce), as Bergoglio suffers a crisis of faith and tries to resign. The cast also includes Sidney Cole, Juan Minujín, Lisandro Fiks, Maria Ucedo and Emma Bonino, and the film is directed by the wonderful Fernando Meirelles(City of God). The movie exists best in the back and forth arguments between Benedict and Francis, as they disagree about almost everything but their belief in God. Ann Hornaday of the Washington Post says, “when Benedict and Francis are going at it — quietly, with respect and scholarly restraint — “The Two Popes” is sheer bliss.” This film has already won awards at the New York Film Critics and Middleburg, but the best may be yet to come, as Pryce and Hopkins are both nominated for Golden Globes, and Oscar nominations are a high probability. And it gets an 89% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 7.7/10 on IMDb. Watch before awards season. Another big add on Netflix is The Witcher, a magical fantasy series starring Henry Cavill. Based on a book series by Polish writer Andrzej Sapkowski, this centers on monster hunter Geralt of Rivia(Cavill) in his solitary life, until he meets a sorceress, played by Anya Chalotra, and a princess, played by Freya Allen, who travel the Continent and try to restore the princess to her throne. Mimi Ndiweni, Eamon Farren, Wilson Radjou-Pujalte, Lars Mikkelsen, Adam Levy, Joey Batey and MyAnna Buring also star in the eight episodes now available on Netflix. This is a dark but amazing series from creator Lauren Schmidt Hissrich, with stunning special effects and thrillingly scary monsters. And it gets an astounding 9/10 on IMDb. I can’t wait to see what happens next. Netflix has also added Twice Upon a Time, a 2019 French supernatural romance. Gaspard Ulliel plays a man recently broken up with Louise(Freya Mavor), who he can’t get over, when he receives a bottomless box in the mail, that allows him to go back in time, which allows him to reunite with Louise. But he can’t stop using the box and it turns out the box is, of course, very desired by others, and the couple’s lives are threatened. Sacha Canuyt, Eva Ionesco, Richard Dillane, Patrick d‘Assumçao and Claire Sermonne, and there are four episodes available on Netflix. And it gets a 6.3/10 on IMDb. Netflix also offers After the Raid, a 2019 documentary short from director Rodrigo Reyes(Lupe Under the Sun). This 25 minute doc shows the devastating effects of a large Ice raid on a small town in Tennesee, and how some of the townspeople and even a church, rose to help the survivors whose family members(and wage earners) were taken. It’s a moving film and while there are as yet not ratings available for it, the Daily Beast says,” its focus is the human cost of our current immigration quagmire, which leads only to individual and familial disintegration, and, on the basis of this specific Tennessee town, economic hardship as well.” It’s important to see, and it’s on my list. And, finally , Netflix has added Ronny Chieng, Asian Comedian Destroys America, a 2019 stand-up special. Here, Chieng, who has appeared on The Daily Show and in Crazy Rich Asians, holds forth on all different kinds of subjects, ranging from marriage to the need for more Asian Americans, even an Asian American president.This is what we need in this era dense with unsettling events, in Washington, especially. And it gets a 79% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Sean L McCarthy of The Decider saying, “as an immigrant, he’s precisely the comedian to remind us why anyone chooses to come here, and why it’s folly for so many of us to focus on what we think sucks about America, or whether it needs to be returned to greatness.”
Amazon now has their biggest add of the Christmas season, with The Aeronauts. Meteorologist James Gleisher(Eddie Reddmayne) wants to investigate weather at high altitudes and gets daredevil balloon pilot Amelia Wren, played by Felicity Jones, to do so. It takes place in 1862, when female pursuing any kind of career were blockaded at every door, and it’s based on historical fact, but the gender of the pilot was changed by director Harper. Tom Courtenay, Himesh Patel, Phoebe Fox, Anne Reid(!) and Vincent Perez also star, and Tom Harper(Peaky Blinders, Wild Rose) directs. It gets a 72% on Rotten Tomatoes and Peter Travers of Rolling Stone says, “if you can swallow the gender fudging, the movie comes through admirably as a rousing adventure. Redmayne and Jones have enormous charm and fully commit to the demands of their roles. ” I’m watching. I love a female hero! Amazon has also added Harriet Tubman-They called Her Moses, a 2018 documentary from director Robert Fernandez. Led by narrator Alfrelynn Roberts, this film documents the life of Harriet Tubman and her amazing heroic deeds, saving hundreds of lives and leading thousands of slaves to freedom through the Underground Railroad. We get expert testimony not just from scholars from places like the Smithsonian and the Underground Railroad Museum, but from unbelievable audio tapes of actual former slaves, testifying to Tubman’s great deeds and the harrowing journey to freedom. There are no ratings on IMDb that I could find, but it gets 5/5 stars on Amazon, and we generally know too little about this undersung American hero. Its on my list. And, finally, Amazon has added Phase IV, the 1974 scifi classic. Based on a book by Barry Malzburg, this features a town in the desert, where the ants seemingly develop a collective intelligence and start building huge enigmatic towers and geographic designs in the sand. Most of the residents flee, but scientists move in to study the phenomena. Nigel Davenport, Michael Murphy, Lynne Frederick, Alan Gifford and Helen Horton star in this cult classic directed by Saul Bass. Jay Cock of Time said its, “good, eerie entertainment, with interludes of such haunted visual intensity that it becomes, at its best, a nightmare incarnate.” And it gets a 6.7/10 on IMDb. I am definitely watching.
So sit back and relax this weekend, with classic movies, new and old, on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Enjoy!