Yes, its the weekend again, and time to review the best new movies and television shows added to Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Prime. So lets get started!
Hulu has some good add this week, like Luce, the 2019 drama with an all-star ensemble cast. Here, Naomi Watts and Tim Roth play the parents of Luce, played by Kelvin Harrison Jr., adopted from war torn Eritrea, and high school all-star athlete and accomplished debater, who may not be all they think he is. Octavia Spencer plays his teacher, who has to inform his parents of his harassment of her, and Brian Bradley, Andrea Bang, Norbert Leo Butz and Marsha Stephanie Blake also star and Julius Onah directs, as well as co-writing the screenplay with JC Lee. Ed Potton of the Times(UK) said, “adapted by Onah and JC Lee from Lee’s play of the same name, it’s chilling and provocative, sharply written and sensationally acted by a cast of big-hitters and unknowns.” And it gets a 91% on Rotten Tomatoes. Its on my list. Hulu has also added Fighting With My Family, the 2019 biographical wrestling comedy. Florence Pugh(!) stars as Saraya “Paige” Knight, daughter of professional wrestlers “Rowdy Ricky” Knight,(Nick Frost) and Julia “Sweet Saraya” Knight(Lena Headey), who dreams of being a professional wrestler herself, along with her brother Zak “Zodiac” Knight(Jack Lowden). So when they get a chance to train with Hutch Morgan(Vince Vaughn), they grab it, and they even get advice from Dwayne Johnson. James Burrows, Hannah Rae,Thea Trinidad and Kim Matula also star, with writer/director Stephen Merchant even appearing in a more minor role. It’s a crazy movie, all the more so because it based on a true story. And if it’s not a perfect film, it’s buoyed by it wonderful cast, and the writing of Merchant, executive producer of the BBC’s The Office. Even if you don’t like professional wrestling(and I don’t), you might like this. Edward Porter of the Times (UK) wrote, “Florence Pugh‘s knockout performance is the winner in this zesty wrestling drama.” And it gets a 93% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 7.1/10 on IMDb. Hulu also offers Brian Banks, the 2019 legal drama based on a true story. Aldis Hodge(City on a Hill) plays Banks, a high school football star who, on the advice of an awful lawyer, pleaded guilty when falsely accused of rape at just 16. But when he wants to go back to college and playing, after serving 6 years in prison, but is barred by his registered sex offender status, he decides to go to court to have it overturned, with the help of the California Innocence Project and its lawyer Justin Brooks, played by Greg Kinnear. Sherri Shepherd, Morgan Freeman(!), Melanie Liburd and Xosha Roquemore also star, and Tom Shadyac directs. And it gets a 6.9/10 on IMDb. I’m watching. And, finally, Hulu offers The Girl King, a 2015 historical biography. Here, Malin Buska stars as a young and impressive Queen Christina of Sweden, who refuses to bow to societal norms and leads the country to great heights. Sarah Gadon, Patrick Bauchau, Michael Nyqvist, Lucas Bryant, Laura Birn and Hippolyte Girardot also star, while Mika Kaurismäki directed. This film won two awards at the Montreal World Film Festival, including Best Actress for Malin Buska. Katie Walsh of the LA Times wrote, “the greatest appeal of “The Girl King” lies in the fascinating historical character and the formidable actress portraying her.” And it get a 5.9/10 on IMDb. I’m tuning in.
Netflix, too, has added some good shows this week, including The Stranger, a 2020 British mystery miniseries. Based on a Harlan Coben novel of the same name, it stars Richard Armitage as a happily married man, whose secure family life begins to unravel, when a stranger(Hannah John-Kamen)approaches him with the terrible “truth” about his wife(Dervla Kirwan). Siobhan Finneran, Jacob Dudman, Anthony Head,Jennifer Saunders and Stephen Rea(!) also appear here, with Daniel O’Hara and Hannah Quinn directing. There are eight episode of this series Salon calls “anxiety inducing,” and it gets an impressive 7.5/10 on IMDb. I’m definitely watching. Netflix also offers Ragnarok, the Scandinavian fantasy series. And the heroes of Norse mythology are back, but here, they are played by teenagers in school, who suddenly find themselves developing strange powers and abilities needed to fight the growing environmental crises surrounding their world and their community. David Stakston, Jonas Strand Gravli, Emma Bones,Herman Tømmeraas, Theresa Frostad Eggesbø and Henriette Steenstrup also star and there are six exciting episodes available now on Netflix. And it get a 7.3/10 on IMDb. Netflix also has Miss Americana, the 2020 doc directed by Lana Wilson. This is about Taylor Swift and her rise to stardom, but also her sometimes solitary life offstage, and her growth as a woman and feminist. It uses years of film footage to tell her story, but not just of achievement but difficulty too, like her previous battles with an eating disorder and overzealous fans. Wilson’s movie will leave you with a more sympathetic view of a superstar who also happens to be a sometimes lonely and insecure human being. And it get an amazing 8/10 on IMDb. Netflix has also added Omniscient, a Brazilian sci-fi series. This takes place in a near-future world where crime is almost non-existent, thanks to 24/7 surveillance supplied by the Omniscient System. But when Nina Peixoto(Carla Salle) comes home to find her father(Guilherme Prates) murdered, but no alarm or drone detecting it, she wonders whats going on, and whether their world is a safe as it seems. Jonathan Haagensen, Sandra Corveloni, Luana Tanaka and Marcello Airoldi also appear in this six part series. And it gets a 6.4/10 on IMDb. Not only sci-fi, but a mystery, too! I’m watching. And, finally, Netflix offers Luna Nera, an Italian fantasy series. This takes place in Seventeenth century Italy, and witch hunting runs rampant, which puts any strong or opinionated women in danger, but especially those like Ade, played by Antonia Fotaras, who is a practicing midwife. Barbara Ronchi, Giorgio Belli, Manuela Mandracchia, Lucrezia Guidone, Gloria Carovana and Giandomenico Cupaiolo also star and this series is directed by Susanna Nicchiarelli and Paola Randi. There are 6 episodes now available. Cineuropa says “you’d struggle to find a more feminist work,” so I’m watching, and it get a 6.1/10 on IMDb. Don’t miss it.
Amazon was supposed to add Escape at Dannemora to their prime line-up today, but it is, not surprisingly, not available yet. But they have added Precious, the 2009 Academy Award-winning drama. This is the story of Precious Jones, an illiterate, abused and pregnant 16 year-old played by Gabourey Sidibe, who finds hope with a new teacher and a new school. Mo’Nique won an Oscar for her role as Precious’ cruel mother here, with Paula Patton, Mariah Carey,Lenny Kravitz, Sherri Shepherd and Chyna Layne also appearing, with Lee Daniels(The Butler) directing. And it gets a 93% on Rotten Tomatoes and an 8.3/10 on IMDb. Don’t miss it. And, finally, Amazon also offers Counterpart, the Starz spy series. J.K Simmons plays Howard Silk, a spy at a U.N. Berlin-based agency. But he is too lowly a worker to know what is really going on at an agency that is actually a crossing point to a parallel Earth. Olivia Williams, Harry Lloyd, Nazanin Boniadi, Sara Serraiocco and Ulrich Thomsen also star and there are two seasons available. And it gets a stunning 100% on Rotten Tomatoes and an 8.1/10 on IMDb. Its on my list.
So sit back and binge this weekend, with classics, new and old, on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Enjoy!