Yes, it’s the weekend, finally, and time to review the best new movies and TV shows added online, to Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. And there are some good adds out there, so let’s get started!
Hulu has the biggest add this week, with Academy Award Best Picture winner Parasite. The black comedy/thriller directed by Bong Joon-ho(The Host, Okja), this tells the tale of the Kim family, a marginal working class family, barely making ends meet, when a son, Ki-woo(Choi Woo-shik), gets a job with the wealthy Park family, and soon, more of the Kims manage to get employment there. But they soon discover some dark secrets of the Park family, and things get dangerously out of control. Song Kang-ho, Park So-dam, Jang Hye-jin, Lee Sun-kyun and Cho Yeo-jeong also star. In addition to winning numerous Oscars, this movie was also the first South Korean effort to win the coveted Palme d’Or at Cannes. And it gets an amazing 99% on Rotten Tomatoes and an 8.6/10 on IMDb. Leah Greenblatt of EW wrote, “if the movie is a Rorschach of who you identify as parasite and host, it’s a test you’re just as likely to fail; a filmgoing experience that refuses to fit into any box, and forces viewers to breathe the dangerous air outside of it too.” I’m watching. Hulu has also added Little Joe, a 2019 British sci-fi horror movie. It stars Emily Beecham as a single mom, Alice, who works as a corporate plant breeder, and develops a “happy” plant, one that will act as an antidepressant for it’s owners. So she secretly brings one home for her son, Joe(Kit Connor), naming it after him, only to find the plant has other, more disturbing effects on humans. Ben Whishaw, Kerry Fox, David Wilmot and Lindsay Duncan also star, and Jessica Hausner(Lovely Rita) directs. Beecham won the Best Actress award for her role here, in Cannes, in 2019, and the movie gets a 67% on Rotten Tomatoes. Owen Gleiberman of Variety said it’s “an artfully unnerving, austerely hypnotic horror movie about a very sinister plant.” It’s on my list. Hulu also newly offers Hang-ups, the 2018 British comedy series starring comedian Stephen Mangan. Mangan stars as less than perfect therapist, in debt, and so starting a new practice on the web. His home life is rather chaotic, with a wife that works away from home, and kids he is supposed to care for. Katherine Parkinson, Bebe Cave, Fionn O’Shea, Karl Theobald, Sarah Hadland, Lolly Adefope and Charles Dance also star, with guest stars like David Tennant(!) and Jessica Hynes. It’s loosely based on Lisa Kudrow’s Web Therapy series, and there are six episodes available. Carol Midgley of the UK Times says, “Mangan’s performance is pitch-perfect, if you ask me, as was Steve Oram‘s as the Brummie psycho Neil, David Tennant’s depressed, people-hating waiter and Grant’s po-faced psychotherapist.” And it gets a 94% on Rotten Tomatoes. In case you need a laugh….. and who doesn’t, nowadays. And, finally, HBO has made certain parts of it’s line-up available to all, without payment, during our collective confinement, and you can access them all on Hulu. They offer Barry, with Bill Hader, Succession, The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, True Blood and The Case Against Adnan Syed. They even have the new movie Nancy Drew and the Case of the Hidden Staircase, starring Sophia Lillis(I’m Not Okay With This) and produced by Ellen DeGeneres. So go ahead and binge.
Netflix has some great adds this week too, like Tigertail, the 2020 drama written and directed by Alan Yang(Master of None). Here,Yang tells the tale of Pin-Jiu, inspired by his own father, who grew up in Taiwan, and, wanting to emigrate to the U.S., made huge sacrifices that changed his life forever. Hong-Chi Lee plays Pin-Jiu as a young man, Tzi Ma(The Farewell) the older wizened man, and Yang Kuei-mei(Eat Drink Man Woman), Christine Ko, Fiona Fu, Joan Chen, James Saito, Margot Bingham also star. Katie Rife of the AV Club says, “[w]here the film stands out from other dramas of its type is in its poignant exploration of the little-discussed emotional consequences of single-mindedly pursuing the American dream.” And it gets a 73% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 6.6/10 on IMDb. I’m definitely tuning in. Netflix has also added The Trial, an 2020 Italian crime drama series. Vittoria Puccini stars as Elena Guerra, a public prosecutor in Mantua, who finds she is linked to a seventeen year-old murder victim. Things get worse, as she is targeted by a lawyer Ruggero Barone(Francesco Scianna), defending a wealthy woman accused of the murder. Camilla Filippi, Alessandro Averone, Euridice Axen, Simone Calambari and Mauricio Lastrico also star, and there are now eight episodes to stream on Netflix. And it gets a 7.4/10(!) on IMDb, with the Cinemaholic calls it “an absorbing courtroom drama,” so I’m in. And I love a mystery. Also new on Netflix is School Life, the 2017 French drama. Here, Zita Harrot plays a vice principal, Samia Zibra, in one of the poorest and most challenging schools in Saint-Denis, a suburb of Paris. Many of the students are non-white migrants, grappling with problems of their own and not given to study. Moussa Mansaly and Alban Ivanov plays two hall monitors who give her help and support, and Antoine Reinartz, Liam Pierron, Soufiane Guerrab and Laim Pierron also star and both Mehdi Idir and Fabien “Grand Corps Malade” Marsaud direct. What makes this movie unusual is it’s use of the actors playing students, many of them non-professional, and from under privileged groups themselves, mostly from Saint-Denis, giving it a realistic edge not seen in many movies of this type. And it gets a 7/10 on IMDb. It’s on my list. And, if you want to stay in school, Netflix also offers El Reemplazante, a 2013 Chilean drama series. Iván Álvarez de Araya plays Carlos “Charlie” Valdivia, a former financial executive, imprisoned after a scandal at his company, who becomes a math teacher at a low income school in Santiago, after getting out on parole. Sergio Hernández, Karla Melo, Rocío Monasterio, Sebastián Ayala and Bianca Lewin also star, and there are 2 seasons now available. This is an award winner in Chile, winning multiply at the Altazor Awards in 2013. And it gets a stunning 8.4/10 on IMDb. And, finally, Netflix has added Mine 9, a 2019 American drama. This tells the story, based on a real incident you’re told, about nine miners trapped underground after a methane explosion, in a West Virginia mine. Terry Serpico stars as the team leader, Zeke, Drew Starkey as his 18 year-old nephew, Ryan, and Kevin Sizemore, Erin Elizabeth Burns and Clint James also stars and Eddie Mensore, from West Virginia himself, directs. And though it’s kind of corny, it’s also quite tense, realistic and claustrophobic in it’s telling. Matt Zoller Seitz of RogerEbert.com says it’s cinematography “uses darkness for atmosphere and visual flair, often creating frames-within-frames that suggest Renaissance paintings matted with torn black paper (or monster movies that deal in claustrophobic gloom, like the original Alien and The Descent).” And it gets an 89% on Rotten Tomatoes. Watch if you dare, it’s too tense for me.
Amazon has a huge add this week, with Les Misérables, the 2019 French production from director Ladj Ly. But this doesn’t tell Victor Hugo‘s story of Jean Valjean, but rather the current injustices faced by the poor citizens of Montfermeil, the suburb of Paris used in Hugo‘s classic, and the harassment and violence they suffer at the hands of police. Damien Bonnard stars as Stéphane Ruiz, a newcomer to the notorious SCU police squad, and Alexis Manenti and Djebril Zonga star as some of it’s veteran and more aggressive members. Al-Hassan Ly, Sana Joachaim,Steve Tientcheu, Almamy Kanoute and Jeanne Balibar also star. This film won the Jury Prize at Cannes, and won four César Awards, including Best Film. Adam Graham of the Detroit News says, “it’s an urgent portrait that captures a much different Paris than the original 1862 novel, but its themes remain. Victor Hugo would be proud.” And it gets an 84% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 7.7/10 on IMDb. Don’t miss it. I won’t. Amazon has also added Inside the Rain, a 2019 comedy romance from first-time director Aaron Fisher. And Fisher also stars as Ben Glass, a college student with multiple disorders like OCD, ADHD and most significantly bipolar disorder, and who feels he was unfairly expelled from school. So he decides to make a film, recreating the incident, with the help of a sex worker, played by Ellen Toland, and faces multiple roadblocks, like an unhinged producer, played by Eric Roberts and a tough therapist, played by Rosie Perez. Catherine Curtin, Paul Schulze and Jennifer Tsay also star. Devika Girish of the New York Times said it “switches erratically between comedy and drama while juggling many half-realized plot threads. But the movie’s strange, inconsistent rhythm ultimately works as a reflection of Ben‘s manic and depressive states.”And it gets an 84% on Rotten Tomatoes. And, finally, Amazon offers The Fare, a 2019 sci-fi romance. Gino Anthony Pesi stars as a bored taxi driver who falls under the spell of his new fare, Penny(Brianna Kelly), who promptly disappears during their ride. He finds that he can get their experience to start over, if he resets his meter, so he can figure out what happened. Jason Stuart, Jon Jacobs, Matt Fontana and Debbie Montinger are also featured players here, and D.C. Hamilton directed. And it gets an amazing 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, and Molly Henery of the Blogging Banshee wrote, it’s “is an unexpected gem that delivers something new to the time-loop subgenre of film.” It’s quite a romance.
So sit back and binge while sheltering in place, and watch classics, old and new, on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Enjoy!