Yes, it’s the weekend, again, and time to review the best new movies and television shows added to Netflix, Hulu and Amazon. So let’s get started!
Hulu’s got a huge add this week with Portrait of a Lady on Fire, the 2019 French historical romance from director Céline Sciamma(My Life as a Zucchini). This takes place in 1770, where Héloïse(Adèle Haenel) has been betrothed against her will, to a Milanese nobleman, so Marianne(Noémie Merlant) has been hired to paint her portrait for her fiance, in secret, under the guise of being her companion. But they become close, and Marianne finds it impossible to deceive her new friend and they embark on a new relationship. Luàna Bajrami and Valeria Golino also star. This film won multiple awards last year, including Best Screenplay at Cannes and Best Actress and Cinematography at the Lumières Awards in Paris. A. O. Scott of the New York Times wrote, “[it’s] a subtle and thrilling love story, at once unsentimental in its realistic assessment of women’s circumstances and almost utopian in its celebration of the freedom that is nonetheless available to them. ” And it gets an amazing 98% on Rotten Tomatoes and an 8.2/10 on IMDb. I’m watching. Hulu has also added Brown Girl Begins, a 2017 Canadian sci-fi movie. It stars Mouna Traoré(Murdoch Mysteries!) as a young woman in Toronto, in 2049, where her people(mostly black) lived in an area called the Burn, just outside of walled off Toronto. And when people in her community start getting kidnapped and sold for slavery, she decides to take part in a dangerous ritual, one that killed her mother(Keeya King), to save her friends and family. Shakura S’Aida, Emmanuel Kabongo, Rachael Crawford and Nigel Shawn Williams also star, here, and Sharon Lewis directs. This film premiered at the Urbanworld Film Festival in 2017 and received two Canadian Screen Award nominations at the 7th Canadian Screen Awards in 2019. And, though it only gets a 3.8/10 on IMDb(I think that’s because of it’s low budget), it’s fun, full of female heroes, and it’s sci-fi. It’s on my list. Hulu also offers Baghdad Central, a 2020 British drama series. Waleed Zuaiter stars as Inspector Muhsin al Khafaji, out-of-favour cop whose estranged daughter Sawsan, played by Leem Lubany, goes missing, so he goes in search of her, while his younger daughter Mrouj, played by July Namir, suffers from kidney disease. And this all takes place in the summer of 2003, just after the fall of Saddam. Clara Khoury(Homeland!), Nora El Koussour, Maisa Abd Elhadi, Corey Stoll and Bertie Carvel also star in this six part series. The Guardian says, “it’s nice to see an Iraq war-set thriller that centres on Iraqi lives for a change. Nice because it’s the right thing for a socially conscious broadcaster to commission, but also just nice because it makes for some refreshingly original entertainment.” And it gets an impressive 7.1/10 on IMDb. I’m definitely watching. And, finally, Hulu has added Too Cute, Animal Planet’s iconic series. Here, we get two seasons, starting with Season Two, replete with cute animal episodes like Cuddly Kittens, Sweetest Animal Friends, Puppy Love and Curious Kittens! Each episodes is 42 minutes long and there are 31 shows in all. It’s my prescription for sheltering in place! And it gets an amazing 8.5/10 on IMDb. I’m tuning in.
The most exciting add on Netflix this week is Unorthodox, the 2020 thriller series. Adapted from Deborah Feldman’s 2012 memoir of the same name, this follow Esty, played by the remarkable Shira Haas, who escapes from her claustrophobic and somewhat misogynistic Hasidic neighborhood in Brooklyn to Berlin, to begin a secular life that is startling and strange to her. But she comes to be hunted by her husband,Yanky(Amit Rahav) and his cousin(Jeff Willbusch). Tamar Amit-Joseph, Alex Reid, Dina Doron, Aaron Altaras and Delia Mayer also star, Maria Schrader directs, and the series is brought to us by Anna Winger, creator of Deutchland 83. And the show gets a stunning 8.3/10 on IMDb. I’m definitely watching. Netflix has also added Happy Old Year, a 2019 Thai drama. Chutimon Chuengcharoensukying stars here as Jean, a woman looking to get rid of all the stuff that reminds her of her ex-boyfriend(Sunny Suwanmethanont), after their break-up. The only trouble is, that only brings more memories of their past life. Sarika Sathsilpsupa, Apasiri Nitibhon, Thirawat Ngosawang, and Padcha Kitchaicharoen also star, with Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit(36) directing. James Marsh of the South China Morning Post wrote, “Chutimon is remarkable in the lead role, sparking joy in the audience even though her character is unlikeable to the point of sociopathic in her actions.” And it gets a 7.6/10 on IMDb. It’s on my list. Also new on Netflix is The Mire, an intriguing mystery series from Poland. But this takes place in 1980′s Poland, still under communist rule, so when a prominent politician is found dead with a prostitute in the woods, the journalist(Andrzej Seweryn) investigating the murders is asked to change the facts and overlook the prostitute. He and his colleague(Dawid Ogrodnik) dig deeper anyway, and find danger not only from the culprit(s), but the government, as well. Zofia Wichlacz, Magdalena Walach, Agnieszka Zulewska and Zbigniew Walerys also star, and there are six episodes available now on Netflix. But beware, it is a grim, dark series., featuring not only murder, but suicide, too. That said, it gets a 7.2/10 on IMDb, and is a well produced mystery, with a great cast. You decide. Netflix also added the 2nd season of Happy!, a black comedy starring Christopher Meloni(Law and Order: SVU). This is a series I’ve never heard of, originally on SYFY, ion which Meloni plays Nick Sax, a really down on his luck police detective,who moonlights as a hitman, who awakens in an ambulance after a heart attack, to see Happy, a blue unicorn, voiced by Patton Oswalt. It seems Happy is his estranged daughter Hailey’s imaginary friend, and needs his help to save the girl. Lili Mirojnick, Bryce Lorenzo, Medina Senghore, Patrick Fischler and Debi Mazar(!) also star, and there are eighteen episodes in all to view right now. And it gets an impressive 8.2/10 on IMDb. And, finally, Netflix has Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution, a 2020 documentary. The latest production from Barack and Michelle Obama, this one tells the story of Camp Jened, a camp in the Catskills for disabled kids only from the 50’s through the 70’s, and where it led them in their adult lives, and empowered them. It especially studies Judy Heumann, who went on to fight for disability rights in N.Y.C., in the 70’s. Directed by Nicole Newnham and Jim LeBrecht( a former camp regular), this isn’t a soppy, corny movie, but an empowering one. Katie Walsh of the Tribune News Service calls it, “the riveting tale of a decades-long radical revolution that changed the world forever.” And it gets an incredible 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. Let’s all watch.
Amazon has only one notable add this week, with I See You, a 2019 horror thriller starring Helen Hunt. Hunt plays Jackie, a woman whose marriage has recently been rocked when she had an affair, and when her husband(Jon Tenney) begins investigating the disappearance of a twelve year old boy, tensions escalate, especially in their weird old house. Judah Lewis plays their son, and Sam Trammel, Libe Barer, Owen Teague and Erika Alexander also star, and the movie was directed by Adam Randall. But this movie is confused, with a total left turn that changes everything. Nick Allen of RogerEbert.com said, “It would be impossible to guess the ending of I See You during its tiresome first act, which is something numerous films can’t tout, but the movie uses cheap tricks to earn that kudos.” And it gets a 75% on Rotten Tomatoes. I wouldn’t bother. That’s it for Amazon’s new adds, but I did find Sweet Land, the 2005 American period drama. Here, Elizabeth Reaser plays Inga, an immigrant from Norway, who comes to Minnesota for an arranged marriage, after WWI and gets a less than warm welcome, as they believe she’s German, and a socialist. Tim Guinee, Lois Smith(!), Alex Kingston(Doctor Who!), Ned Beatty(!) and Alan Cumming(!) also star, and Ali Selim directs. Entertainment Weekly and the Los Angeles Times both named this one of the Best 10 Movies of 2006, and it won Best First Feature at the Independent Spirit Awards, among other awards. And it gets a 85% on Rotten Tomatoes, with James Christopher of the Times(UK) saying, “Minnesota between the wars is a bone yard for dreams, yet, like Babette’s Feast, the film plucks a tiny miracle from stony ground.” I’m watching. And, finally, Amazon is offering a 30 day free trial of CBS All Access, which you can find on the CBS All Access website as well, where you can binge on Star Trek: Picard, or, better yet, The Good Fight, with Christine Baranski. So live it up.
So sit back and binge while you’re hunkering down this weekend and enjoy classics new and old, on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Enjoy!