Yes, its the weekend again, and time to review the best new movies and television shows added to Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. So let’s get started!
Okay, Hulu hasn’t got many big adds this week, but there are a few good ones, if you look closely enough, like Life, Animated, the 2016 documentary directed by Roger Ross Williams. Based on Ron Suskind’s 2014 book of the same name, this movie is about his son Owen, who developed autism at three years of age, and hadn’t spoken or interacted much since then, until he becomes obsessed with classic Disney movies and his family uses those characters to help him out. And it follows him as he graduates from high school, and gains more independence- an amazing thing for one stricken by an often devastating disease. It won numerous awards, including at Sundance, in 2017, and gets a stunning 94% on Rotten Tomatoes. Sheila O’Malley of RogerEbert.com called it, “is powerful and emotional, without being manipulative. It is deeply inspiring, without trying to be. It is honest about Owen’s struggles, and the struggles of his family.” I’m watching. Hulu has also added Thelma, a 2017 supernatural thriller from Norway. Eili Harboe stars as Thelma, a teenager from a conservative religious family, who, when attracted to a fellow female student at her Oslo university, develops frightening psychokinetic powers. Kaya Wilkins, Grethe Eltervåg, Henrik Rafaelsen and Ellen Dorrit Petersen also star and Joachim Trier directs. And it gets a 7/10 on IMDb. But too scary for me. Hulu also offers Evolution, a French language sci-fi thriller from 2015. Max Brebant plays Nicolas, a boy who live on a strange isolated island, inhabited only by women and their young sons, who begin to sense something is wrong, especially with the mysterious injections every boy receives. Julie-Marie Parmentier, Roxane Duran, Nathalie Le Gosles and Nissim Renard also star and Lucile Hadzihalilovic directs. This is a creepy but beautiful film, that has been compared to Cronenberg, with Simon Abrams of RogerEbert.com calling it, “the most novel, unsettling horror film of the year….Do not miss this film.” And it gets an 82% on Rotten Tomatoes. And, finally, Hulu has added AMC’s horror series The Terror: Infamy. This is the second season follow up(both are available now on Hulu) about a Japanese community, and the Nakayama family in particular, sent to a Japanese internment camp during World War II. But bizarre deaths begin to occur there, and there are the ghosts lingering, including a yurei, or spirit. Derek Mio, Kiki Sukezane,Cristina Rodlo,Shingo Usami,Naoko Mori and George Takei(!) star and the show counts Ridley Scott as one of its executive producers, as well. It’s wonderfully shot, tense and scary, but the best part about it has to be its truthful representation of Japanese American culture and its many ghosts. Ben Travers of Indiewire says, “it remains a thoughtful story of human nature, more haunting in its honesty than its ghosts.” And it gets an 80% on Rotten Tomatoes and an 8/10 on IMDb. It’s on my list.
Netflix has some good adds this week, too, like October Faction, a 2020 American scifi series. Based on a graphic novel series of the same name, it features parents Fred and Deloris Allen, played by Tamara Taylor and J. C. MacKenzie, who hunt and kill monsters, who move to their old hometown, after the death of Fred’s father, where their kids, played by Aurora Burghar and Gabriel Darku, are drawn into action, as well. Wendy Crewson(!), Stephen McHattie(!), Megan Follows(!) and Maxim Roy also star, and the show is created by Damien Kindler. It’s a fast-paced, funny and exciting show, and though its oddly labeled “American” on Netflix, it features some of the best Canadian actors, writers and directors, which is a good thing. And it get a 5.7/10 on IMDb. I’m watching. Netflix has also added A Sun, a 2020 Chinese drama. This tells the tale of a family rocked by the tragic incarceration of their youngest son,Ho (Wu Chien-Ho). Chen Yi-Wen, Xu Guang-Han,Samantha Ko also star and it is directed by Mong-Hong Chung. This was a multiple award winner at the Golden Horse Film Festival, in Taiwan, and gets an 8/10 on IMDb. It’s on my list. Netflix also offers The Ghost Bride, a 2020 Taiwanese-Malaysian fantasy series. Based on the fabulous novel of the same name by Yangsze Choo, it takes place in 1890’s Colonial Malacca, and follows Li Lan, played by Huang Pei-jia, the daughter of a loving but broke father, played by Jordan Voon, who is offered the opportunity to become a ‘ghost bride,’- to marry the deceased son of a wealthy family, which would bring them money. But Li Lan encounters many mysteries as she come to know the family and must travel to the spirit world and grapple with ghost and evil spirits, before she decides her own fate. Wu Kang-jen, Ludi Lin, Susan Leong, Kuang Tian and Janet Hsieh are also featured players and Quek Shio-chuan and Ho Yu-hang direct. This is a wonderful, inventive show, with a fantastic, capable heroine. And it gets a 7.5/10 on IMDb. Don’t miss it. Netflix has also added Rise of Empires: Ottoman, a 2020 Turkish historical fiction docuseries. This 6-part series covers the rise of Mehmed the II, as Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, who then attacked the Byzantine capital of Constantinople, and changed the face of history and rebuilt Istanbul into a thriving capital city. Cem Yiğit Üzümoğlu stars as Mehmed the Conqueror, with Tommaso Basili, Selim Bayraktar, Damla Sönmez, Birkan Sokullu and Osman Sonant also appearing and it’s all directed by Emre Saahin. And it gets an amazing 8.5/10 on IMDb. And I love history. And finally, Netflix has Menashe, a 2017 Yiddish-language American drama film. Directed by Joshua Z. Weinstein, this is about Menashe(Menashe Lustig), a recently widowed Hasidic Jew, who seeks to regain custody of his 10 year old son(Ruben Niborski), whereupon his rabbi declare he must first remarry, which Menashe resists. Yoel Weisshaus and Meyer Schwartz also star in this award nominated movie.Linda and Al Lerner of Movies and Shakers say, “it is a sometimes emotional, eye-opening treatise showing the tough, gray area decisions religious people like Menashe have to deal with in today’s world.” And it get a 96% on Rotten Tomatoes. Definitely on my list.
Amazon has added one new movie this week,The Prodigy, a 2019 horror movie. It stars Taylor Schilling(Orange is the New Black) and Peter Mooney as parents in Ohio, who begins to notice a dark and troubling change in their eight-year old son, played by Jackson Robert Scott. And, of course, the fact that he was born at the exact minute a serial killer was fatally shot doesn’t bode well. Colm Feore,Paul Fauteux, Brittany Allen and Oluniké Adeliyi also star and Nicholas McCarthy is the director. But there is nothing new here, and this film has some nasty violence involving the family dog. Claudia Puig of NPR Los Angeles says, “there are a couple moments when it works… [but] I would say go back and watch The Omen or The Bad Seed [instead].” And it only rates a 42% on Rotten Tomatoes. Don’t bother. But Amazon does have an Australian mystery, Murder Call, available. Its a 1998-99 series that stars Lucy Bell and Peter Mochrie as a couple who specialize in solving murders in urban Sydney. Geoff Morell, Glenda Linscott, Jennifer Kent, Gary Day and Chris King also star, and there are two seasons, with 55 episodes total, now available. And it gets a 7.2/10 on IMDb. Much more to my liking.
So sit back and relax this weekend, with classics, new and old, on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Enjoy!