Yes, it’s Saturday again, and time to review the best new movies and television shows added online, to Netflix, Hulu and Amazon. And there’s some good new stuff out there, so let’s get started!
Hulu‘s biggest add this week has to be Little Fires Everywhere. Adapted from the 2017 acclaimed novel of the same name by Celeste Ng, this limited series follows two families, that of Elena, played by Reese Witherspoon, a seemingly perfect mother in a well to do neighborhood in Shaker Heights, Ohio, and that of Mia, played by Kerry Washington, an artist newly moved into the neighborhood, and forced by circumstance to take a job as Elena’s “household manager.” Lexi Underwood, Joshua Jackson, Rosemarie DeWitt, Lu Huang and Megan Stott also star in this eight-part series, and Washington and Witherspoon are both executive producers of the show, along with Liz Tigelaar. And the series gets a 77% on Rotten Tomatoes and Den of Geek calls it, “deliciously entertaining.” I’m watching. Hulu has also added Always Shine, a 2016 thriller. Here, Mackenzie Davis(Halt and Catch Fire) and Caitlin Fitzgerald(Masters of Sex) play two friends who are actresses, but only one is successful, and they have grown apart, so a road trip to Big Sur seems like a good idea, to bring them together. But things go awry, and their petty jealousies and real slights boil to the surface. Lawrence Michael Levine, Alexander Kush and Jane Adams also star and Sophia Takal(Hellaware) directs. This film won Best Narrative Feature at the Fargo Film Festival, and gets an amazing 92% on Rotten Tomatoes. Glenn Kenny of the New York Times wrote, “”Always Shine” is a deft, assured movie with a sly self-reflexive undercurrent containing commentary on sexism and self-idealization that’s provocative, and sometimes disturbing.” Don’t miss it. Hulu also offers the 2020 doc Margaret Atwood: A Word After a Word After a Word is Power. Directed by Nancy Lang and Peter Raymont, this follows Atwood as she finishes her now released sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, The Testaments, as well as her keynote speeches, and visits to the set of Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale. They also feature friends and colleagues, and archival interviews, videos and such, to tell of Atwood’s past and rise to fame. And there are plenty of clips of Atwood, just being Atwood. And the film gets a 7.5/10 on IMDb. It’s on my list. And, finally, Hulu has added Hello, I Must Be Going, a 2012 comedy. Melanie Lynsky(I don’t feel at home in this world anymore, And Then I Go) stars, here, as Amy, recently divorced, and living with her parents(Blythe Danner and John Rubenstein), and barely leaving the house. Until she meets 19 year-old Jeremy(Christopher Abbott), who assumes he’s gay, and begins a romance. Julie White, Sarah Chase, Meera Simhan and Damian Young also star, and Todd Louiso directs. This was Lynsky‘s breakout role, and she creates a wonderfully awkward, confused character in Amy. Brent Simon of Shared Darkness said it’s, “a fine and funny film balanced perfectly between heartbreak and uplift, anchored by a rich, superlative turn from Melanie Lynskey.” And it gets a 75% on Rotten Tomatoes. I’m watching.
The biggest add on Netflix this week is Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker, the 2020 historical drama starring Octavia Spencer. Spencer stars as Madam Walker herself, the first self-made female millionaire in the U.S. and this four-part series tells the story of her rise in the hair care business, her struggles with racism, and sexism and family turmoil. And it has a stellar cast, with Tiffany Haddish, Blair Underwood, Garrett Morris(!), Carmen Ejogo and Mouna Traoré, and it’s based on the biography On Her Own Ground by A’Lelia Bundles. Lorraine Ali of the L.A. Times says, “Spencer’s performance is dazzling. The role of pioneer comes naturally to her, and her character shows the scars of what it means to be a successful woman in a community and era where there were few.” I heartily agree. And the show gets a 77% on Rotten Tomatoes. Don’t miss it. I won’t. Netflix has also added Feel Good, a 2020 British comedy/drama series. Mae Martin stars as a character loosely based on herself here, who is overcoming addiction and adjusting to life as a stand-up comic in the U.K., having moved from Canada. But then she meets George, played by Charlotte Ritchie(Call the Midwife!), and things get complicated. Lisa Kudrow plays Martin‘s mother, and Phil Burgers, Tom Andrews and Ritu Arya also star, with Ally Pankiw(she wrote for Schitt’s Creek) directing. And it gets a 7.2/10 on IMDb. Netflix has also added Vampires, a 2020 French horror series. Oulaya Amamra plays Doina Radescu, a teen that’s half human, half vampire, who is trying to stay clean, and not partake of human blood, and also avoid The Community, a vampire cult. Kate Moran, Julliette Cardinski, Mounir Amara, Pierre Lottin and Suzanne Clément also star, and there are six episodes available now on Netflix. Warning: this is a bloody, explicit drama not for the faint of heart(that’s me). Heaven of Horror says,”the cast is… more than enough reason to watch.” And it gets a 5.2/10 on IMDb. Because I know you always need horror. Also new on Netflix is She, a 2020 Indian crime drama. Aaditi Pohankar stars as Bhumika “Bhumi” Pardeshi, a constable in Mumbai, who goes undercover to bust a drug ring, but who always battles sexism and misogyny in her job on the police force. Vijay Varma, Vishwas Kini, Shivani Rangole and Suhita Thatte also star, and there are seven episodes now available on Netflix. And the series gets a stunning 7.7/10 on IMDb. And, finally, if you miss Downton Abbey and Julian Fellowes, look no further than The English Game, Fellowes’ 2020 historical drama series. But there is more class division and strife here, as this mini-series charts the rise of soccer, or football, as it’s called here, in the working classes, and thus making it the national past time. Craig Parkinson, Kevin Guthrie, and James Harkness play some mill workers struggling to get into the playoffs, while Edward Holcroft stars as the lead Etonian trying to hold onto the title. Charlotte Hope, Niamh Walsh and Anthony Andrews(!) also star, and there are six episodes now available. And it gets a 7.3/10 on IMDb. It’s on my list.
Amazon’s huge add this week is Blow the Man Down, the 2020 comedic thriller. Morgan Saylor and Sophia Lowe play Mary Beth and Priscilla Connolly, two sisters, in the fishing village of Easter Cove, Maine, who are plagued with the trouble of removing a body, after a threatening man(actually a serial killer) is murdered. And while the rather hapless police officer,played by Will Brittain, tries to uncover what happened, the village matriarchs, wonderfully played by June Squibb, Marceline Hugot and Annette O’Toole(!) come to the girls aid. This movie won for best screenplay at Tribeca last year, and directors Danielle Krudy and Bridget Savage Cole were nominated for Best New Voices at the Palm Springs International Film Festival. Glenn Kenny of RogerEbert.com writes, “Blow the Man Down isn’t an earth-shaker, but it’s a small pleasure that makes you wish for more from its filmmakers, and soon.” And it gets an astounding 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. I’m definitely watching. That’s all of the new adds, but Amazon also has Standing in the Shadows of Motown, a 2002 doc directed by Paul Justman. Also available on Hulu, this movie tells the little known story of the Funk Brothers, the back-up band that Barry Gordy got together in 1959, to perform on all kinds of classics. So in addition to interviews with the surviving members, archival footage and narrator Andre Braugher(!), you get live recording sessions of artists, with the Funk Brothers’ backup, like Chaka Khan, Bootsy Collins and Ben Harper. This film also won multiple awards in 2002, including Best Non-Fiction Film at the New York Film Critics Circle and the National Society of Film Critics. Critic John A. Nesbitt called it, “an essential [movie] that all music lovers should see and hear.” And it gets an amazing 91% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 7.8/10 on IMDb. I’m definitely tuning in. And, finally, Amazon has two historical dramas from HBO, if you want to get away from it all. First, Boardwalk Empire, starring the great Steve Buscemi. Buscemi stars as Nucky Thompson, an up and coming(and crooked) politician who controls Atlantic City, during Prohibition. Michael Pitt, Kelly MacDonald and Gretchen Mol also star and the show gets an astounding 92% on Rotten Tomatoes and an 8.5/10 on IMDb. And all five seasons are available on Amazon. And, second, is Deadwood, the iconic 2004-2007 western. Taking place in Deadwood, South Dakota, this series charts it’s rise from a small camp to a thriving town, with Timothy Olyphant playing Seth Bullock and Ian McShane, Al Swearengen. Molly Parker, Jim Beaver, Kim Dickens, Anna Gunn, Powers Boothe(!) and Keith Carradine(!) also star. And all three seasons are available on Amazon, and this series, too gets a 92% on Rotten Tomatoes. Knock yourselves out.
So sit back and binge, while hunkering down this weekend(and, remember, this too shall pass!) on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Enjoy!