Yes, it’s the weekend, thank goodness, 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 fantastic news is that Parasite is scheduled to come to Hulu on April 8th– the bad news is they have no great new adds until then. So I’m going to suggest some of the more diverting and less serious older shows they’ve added recently. First, there’s Shirley Valentine, the 1989 romantic comedy starring Pauline Collins(!). Collins, a veteran British comedic actress, stars as Valentine, a bored Liverpool housewife in her forties, who uncharacteristically accepts her friend Jane’s(Alison Steadman) invitation to join her on a prize trip to Greece, only to find unexpected romance and adventure, when she’s abandoned by Jane. Tom Conti stars as Costas Dimitriades, her guide to Greece and Julia McKenzie, Joanna Lumley(!), Sylvia Syms(!) and Bernard Hill also star, while Lewis Gilbert(Alfie, Educating Rita) directed. Collins won the BAFTA Award for Best Actress for her role here, and Danny Brogan of Common Sense Media said, “[its] a classic British comedy [that] challenges gender stereotypes.” And it gets a 73% on Rotten Tomatoes. Hulu also has added Romancing the Stone, the classic romantic adventure film from 1984. Here, Kathleen Turner(!) plays a romance novelist, Joan Wilder, whose sister in law is kidnapped after the murder of her husband, Joan‘s brother, and as she travels through Columbia to help her, she herself is aided by the questionable bird smugger, Jack Colton, played by Michael Douglas. And, of course, romance ensues. Danny DeVito, Holland Taylor(!), Mary Ellen Trainor and Alfonso Arau also star, and the film is directed by Robert Zemeckis(Back to the Future). Roger Ebert wrote, “after all the Raiders rip-offs, it’s fun to find an adventure film that deserves the comparison, that has the same spirit and sense of humor.” And it gets an 84% on Rotten Tomatoes. And, if you want more, Hulu has Jewel of the Nile, the 1985 sequel. But it gets a 50% on Rotten Tomatoes and isn’t really worth your time, even while social distancing. Better to watch The Homesman, the 2014 western starring Tommy Lee Jones and Hilary Swank. Here, Jones plays a low life drifter, saved from hanging by Mary Bee Cuddy, played by Swank, a woman escorting three mentally ill women from Nebraska to Iowa, for care. there. He reluctantly helps her and the women on the trip;, but only with the promise of reward in Iowa. Grace Gummer(!), Meryl Streep(!), Miranda Otto, Sonja Richter, and John Lithgow(!) also star and Tommy Lee Jones himself directed. this is an amazing movie, what was called a “feminist western,”by some and an multiple award nominee at Cannes and winning at the Western Heritage Awards. And it gets an 81% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Moira McDonald of the Seattle Times saying, “Swank and Streep are big stars with famous faces, and yet disappear into their roles; these characters convey both quiet strength and gentle kindness.” I’m watching. And, finally, Hulu has added Zombieland, the 2009 comedy/horror movie. Jesse Eisenberg plays nerdy “Columbus”, wending his way home to Columbus, Ohio, ten months into the zombie apocalypse, started by Mad-Cow disease, and meets up with “Tallahassee”(Woody Harrelson) , “Wichita”(Emma Stone) and Little Rock(Abigail Breslin), and together, they go on a road trip in search of a sanctuary in L.A. Bill Murray(!), Amber Heard and Derek Graf also star, and the movie is directed by Ruben Fleischer, in his directorial debut. Cliff Doerkson of the Chicago Reader said, “scattershot but sharp, this post-apocalyptic road comedy gives Shaun of the Dead a run for its money.” It gets a 90% on Rotten Tomatoes. And shows that Covid-19 is not all that bad, when compared to zombies. I’m definitely tuning in.
Netflix‘s most notable add this week is the wonderful 2017 black comedy The Death of Stalin. Based on a French graphic novel, La Mort de Staline, this depicts the chaos inside the Soviet Union in 1953 when Stalin suffers a cerebral hemorrhage, and the struggle for power ensues. Steve Buscemi plays Nikita Krushchev, Paddy Considine plays Yuri Andreyev and Michael Palin(!) stars as Vyacheslav Molotov, who all scramble for control of the country, and Rupert Friend, Andrea Riseborough, Simon Russell Beale, Jeffrey Tambor and Olga Kurylenko also star. Armando Iannucci(Veep, The Thick of It) directs all the madness. It won multiple awards at the British Independent Film Awards and European Film Awards, as well as getting blacklisted in Russia, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, for it’s anti-Russian content. Sandra Hall of the Sydney Morning Herald wrote, “[its] a devastatingly funny dissection of power politics, stripping the mystique from it and those who worship it. Iannucci has done it again.” And it gets a stunning 94% on Rotten Tomatoes. Don’t miss it. I won’t. Netflix has also added The Wildling, the 2017 horror/fantasy movie. It stars Bel Powley as Anna, a girl who survives a terrible, confined and stunting childhood, only to be rescued by Sheriff Ellen Cooper, played by Liv Tyler, and discovers she may be a Wilding, a creature that is half wolf. Brad Dourif, James Le Gros, Collin Kelly-Sordelet, Aline Cho and Trevor E. Dickerson also star, with Fritz Böhm directing. The Wildling premiered at the South by Southwest Film Festival and gets a 70% on Rotten Tomatoes. Joey Keough of Wicked Horror calls it “a strong, assured debut with a cracking cast and plenty of weird, dark storybook elements to surprise even the most diehard body horror fans.” I’m not watching, though, too scary for me. Netflix has also added Coffee & Kareem, a 2020 action comedy starring Tarji P. Henson(!). This is a buddy picture, with Ed Helms(The Office) playing the cop. Coffee, and Terrence Little Gardenhigh playing 12 year-old Kareem, the son of Vanessa(Henson), who is also Coffee’s girlfriend. So when the kid witnesses a crime, Coffee needs his help and the pair go careening through Detroit in search of baddies. Betty Gilpin, RonReaco Lee, David Alan Grier(!) and Diana Bang also star, while Michael Dowse(Stuber) directs. But while Henson is wonderful here, even in her under written part, the rest of the movie is not worth seeing. Benjamin Lee of The Guardian calls it, “barely 90 minutes and barely memorable enough to stay in one’s mind for any longer, Coffee & Kareem is truly decaf entertainment.” I wouldn’t bother. But Netflix also has Indian Horse, a 2017 Canadian drama. This film tells the story of Saul Indian Horse, played by Sladen Pelletier, a young First Nations boy who survives Indian Residential School, where he witnesses abuse, but starts playing hockey. he excels at hockey, going on to play for the Toronto Monarchs, until his past traumas at the school force him to quit. Edna Manitowabi, Johnny Issaluk, Forrest Goodluck and Will Strongheart also star, with Steven Campanelli directing and Clint Eastwood producing. Indian Horse was the highest grossing Canadian film of 2018, and went on to win top awards at the 2017 Vancouver International Film Festival. And it gets a 77% on Rotten Tomatoes, and Luis Fernando Galván of En Filme said, “abuse and trauma can be masked, but they persist and follow families through generations, and Campanelli understands the importance of hearing their stories that have been buried.” And, finally, Netflix offers Uncorked, a 2020 American drama. It stars Mamoudou Athie, as Elijah, a young man determined to become a sommelier, even over the pressure from his father, played by Courtney B Vance(!), to take over the family barbecue restaurant. Niecy Nash plays his mom Sylvia, and Kelly Jenrette, Matt McGorry, Sasha Compere and Gil Ozeri(Brooklyn Nine-Nine) also star, while Prentice Penny directs. Uncorked gets an incredible 92% on Rotten Tomatoes, and Katie Walsh of the Tribune News service calls it, “a familiar sort of story in a unique setting. The result is well-rounded, a bit too dry, yet it goes down with a pleasant finish.” And the cast is exceptional. I’m definitely tuning in.
Amazon has two wonderful adds this week, the first being Tales From the Loop, it’s 2020 sci-fi series. It’s, unusually, based on a series of paintings by Swedish artist Simon Stålenhag. Each episode of the eight-part series tells the tale of someone in the family of Russ, played by Jonathan Pryce, founder of the Loop, a machine built to unlock the secrets of the Universe. Rebecca Hall, Abby Ryder Fortson,Tyler Barnhardt, Ato Essandoh, and Jane Alexander(!) also star. The Cinemaholic calls it a, “like a successfully executed combination of Stranger Things and Black Mirror.” And it gets a 7.1/10 on IMDb. It’s definitely on my list. Amazon’s other great add this week is Invisible Life, the 2019 drama directed by Karim Aïnouz. This centers on the lives and bond of two sisters, Eurídice and Guida, played by Carol Duarte and Julia Stockler, members of a conservative family in 50’s Rio de Janiero, and parted by circumstances and kept apart by a stern and unforgiving father(Antônio Fonseca). Fernanda Montenegro, Flávia Gusmão, Barbara Santos, Gregorio Duvivier,Maria Manoella and Antônio Fonseca also star. This movie won the Un Certain Regard prize at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, and was the Brazilian entry at the Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film. Glenn Kenny of the New York Times wrote, “its mix of vivid period detail and raw frankness about sexuality and poverty and women’s oppression is heady and bracing; its depiction of female friendship and love is pointedly ferocious.” And it gets an astounding 93% on Rotten Tomatoes. I am watching. And, finally, Amazon has added Blind Husbands, the 1919 American drama directed by Erich von Stroheim. This silent tells the tale of Doctor Robert Armstrong(Sam De Grasse) who ignores his wife, Margaret(Francelia Billington), and is thereupon seduced by Lieutenant Eric Von Steuben(von Stroheim!). Fay Holderness, Gibson Gowland and Ruby Kendrick also star in this morality tale that made von Stroheim a star in the U.S. Don Druker of the Chicago Reader calls it, “minor when compared with the masterful Foolish Wives, this 1919 silent feature is nevertheless essential viewing, signaling the arrival of an authentic genius in American cinema.” And it gets an amazing 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. Must see viewing for all of us cinemaholics.
So sit back and binge while staying in this weekend, on classics, old and new, on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Enjoy!