Yes, it’s the weekend again, and time to review the best new movies and television shows added online, to Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Prime. So lets get started! B
Hulu’s big add this week is Mrs. America, the FX mini-series starring Cate Blanchett. Blanchett plays Phyllis Schlafly in this show, the conservative anti-feminist of who hit the political scene big time in the 70’s with her anti-ERA stance, and anti-feminist, as well. She was a wannabe politco, who ran unsuccessfully for the Senate, and finally found a place on the Right-Wing scene, with her anti-feminist stance. But this series doesn’t just feature Schlaffly’s story but also other politically active women like Texas Representative Shirley Chisholm(Uzo Aduba), NY Rep Bella Abzug (Margo Martindale), Betty Friedan(Tracy Ullman), and Gloria Steinem(Rose Byrne). And John Slattery,James Marsden, Elizabeth Banks and Sarah Paulson also star, and this mini-series was created by Mad Men writer Dahvi Waller. there are three episodes now available on Hulu, with six more to come. And it gets an amazing 96% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Sophie Gilbert of the Atlantic saying, “Mrs. America is maybe the first great television series of 2020, a project that manages to capture the complicated essence of real characters while telling a story at both micro and macro levels.” And if you miss Mad Men, this is the show for you. I’m definitely watching. Hulu has also added the 2017 psychological thriller Blame. Quinn Shephard stars here(she’s also the director!), as Abigail Grey, a girl returning to high school after mental illness and hospitalization, to find taunts and hardship, thanks to a classmate, especially, Melissa, played by Nadia Alexander. And when Abigail starts an illicit affair with her teacher(Chriss Messina) during their production of The Crucible, the jealousy and spite between the two girls gets out of control, and events parallel those in the famous play. Tate Donovan, Sarah Mezzanotte, Tessa Albertson, Luke Slattery and Trieste Kelly Dunn also star. Blame premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, where Alexander won Best Actress in a US Narrative Feature. And it gets an 80% on Rotten Tomatoes, and Sheila O’Malley of RogerEbert.com said, “Blame crackles with fires within fires.” And that’s it for new adds on Hulu, but there are some jewels I haven’t yet mentioned, like Lady Macbeth, the 2016 British drama. Florence Pugh(Little Women!) stars as Katharine, an unhappy teen trapped in a loveless marriage to an older man, Alexander Lester(Paul Hilton), living on his father Boris'(Christopher Fairbank) estate in 1865, living a life of restriction and servitude. So when she finds herself free of supervision, when her husband and father leave for a day. she revels in the freedom and begins a relationship with a servant, Sebastian(Cosmo Jarvis). But she is found out, of course, and the violence begins. Naomi Ackie, Golda Rosheuvel, Anton Palmer, Rebecca Manley and Fleur Houdijk also star, with William Oldroyd(Best) directing. This film won multiple awards, after premiering at the Telluride Film Festival, in 2016, including Best Actress for Pugh, at the European Film Awards, and Best Actress, Screenplay and Cinematography at the British Independent Film Awards in 2017. And it gets an 88% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Adam Graham of the Detroit News writing, “Pugh is a wrecking crew, communicating pure malevolence with a simple glance, but always keeping her composure. She may be evil, but she’s first and foremost a lady.” Don’t miss it. I won’t. And finally, we all need a laugh these days and there’s none better for that than Mel Brooks’ 1974 classic Blazing Saddles. The great Cleavon Little stars as Bart, a railroad worker about to be hung, hired to become the new sheriff of Rock Ridge, by the villainous Attorney General Hedley Lamarr(Harvey Korman!), who wants to clear the town of it’s citizens, and sell it for millions to the railroads. Gene Wilder plays his trusty assistant Waco Jim, Madeline Kahn(!), the seductress Lili Von Schupp and Mel Brooks plays the inept governor. Slim Pickens, John Hillerman(!), Dom DeLuise(!), Alex Karras and Burt Gilliam also star, and Richard Pryor helped write the script, along with Brooks, Andrew Bergman, Norman Steinberg and Alan Uger. This film was nominated for three Academy Awards, and is ranked number 6 on the American Film Institute’s 100 Years…100 Laughs list. And it gets an 88% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Roger Ebert calling it, “a crazed grabbag of a movie that does everything to keep us laughing except hit us over the head with a rubber chicken.” I’m definitely tuning in.
Netflix has some good adds this week, like #BlackAF, a 2020 American comedy series. This is brought to us by the creator of Blackish, Kenya Burris, and he also stars, as a somewhat fictionalized version of himself, and Rashida Jones(!) plays his wife, while their daughter(Genneya Walton) films the whole family, for a documentary. Iman Benson, Scarlet Spencer, Justin Claiborne and Ravi Cabot-Conyers also starring and cameos from tons of big stars like Ava DuVernay(!), Tyler Perry, Issa Rae and Lena Waithe, to name a few. It gets a 5.4/10 on IMDb, but that’s going up, and Rashida Jones is wonderful. I’m watching. Netflix has also added the Spanish mystery Legacy of the Bones. This is the sequel to 2017 The Invisible Guardian(also on Netflix) and Marta Etura returns as detective Amaia Salazar, and tries to solve another series of murders in the Baztán valley, and also deal with family and having a child. Nene, Leonardo Sbaraglia, Elvira Mínguez, Patricia López Arnaiz, Alicia Sánchez and Carlos Librado also star and Fernando González Molina(Palm Trees in the Snow) directs. And it gets a 6.4/10 on IMDb. It’s dark, but it’s a mystery. It’s on my list. Also new on Netflix is the compelling documentary limited series The Innocence Files. The show follows the lawyers, some of them from the Innocence Project, a group found by Peter Neufeld and Barry Scheck, as they work to clear eight wrongly accused prisoners. Each of the eight episodes studies a different case, including ones of sexual assault and murder, where the convict was not only wrongly imprisoned, but forever smeared, with their family traumatized as well. The mini-series has a stunning group of people behind it , like executive producers and Academy Award nominated director Liz Garbus (What Happened, Miss Simone?), Academy Award winner Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Dark side), and Academy Award winner Roger Ross Williams (Music by Prudence). And it gets a stunning 100% on Rotten Tomatoes and an 8.1/10 on IMDb. Brian Tallerico of RogerEbert.com writes, “equally moving, informative, and infuriating, Netflix’s The Innocence Files is one of the best true crime series ever made.” I’m definitely watching. Netflix also offers Sprinter, a 2019 drama produced by Will Smith and Jada Pinkett. It stars Dale Elliott as Akeem Sharp, a Jamaican teen, who hopes to become Jamaica’s next Track and Field star, thereby getting to travel to America to run, and see his Mom(Lorrain Toussaint), an illegal immigrant working to support the family. But his volatile father and unruly brother leave the journey in question. David Alan Grier(!), Shantol Jackson, Kadeem Wilson, Quera South and Bryshere Y. Grey also star, and Storm Saulter directed. This film won three awards at the American Black Film Festival, and gets an 80% on Rotten Tomatoes. Cath Clarke of the Guardian said its “is a movie that leaves virtually no sporting cliche unbothered, yet it’s rooted in a naturalistic, emotional family drama reflecting the specific pleasures and perils of life in Jamaica.” And its sports during our otherwise deprived season. It’s on my list. And, finally, Netflix has added Hail, Caesar!, the 2016 Coen brothers comedy. here, Josh Brolin plays Eddie Mannix, studio fixer at Capitol Pictures in 1951, and when Baird Whitlock(George Clooney) star of their next picture Hail, Caesar! A Tale of the Christ, is kidnapped, Mannix is expected to get him back. But he has a mare’s nest of studio problems to deal with already. Frances McDormand(!), Ralph Fiennes, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton(!) and Alison Pill also star. The film was nominated for numerous awards, including Best Production Design at the Academy Awards, and gets an 86% on Rotten Tomatoes. Nicholas Barber of the Daily Beast wrote, “Hail, Caesar! is that rare beast: a feel-good Coen brothers film. It feels very good indeed.” I’m watching.
Amazon’s two intriguing adds this week, first, Selah & the Spades, the 2019 drama. Celeste O’Connor stars here as the witty sophomore Paloma, our guide through her elite Pennsylvania boarding school, Haldwell, and all it’s cliques. But she especially focuses on Selah(Lovie Simone), who occupies the top spot in the top clique, and how she does it, and all the drugs, alcohol and intrigues that are involved. And when Selah needs a new successor(she’s a senior), she looks to Paloma. Gina Torres, Jharrel Jerome(Moonlight), Jesse Williams, Ana Mulvoy Ten and Henry Hall Hunter also star and Tayarisha Poe directs. This was an award winner at the Blackstar Film Festival, and at other film festivals as well. Deservedly so, because these teens aren’t stupid or inane, but smart, calculating people, and school is looked at as a battlefield. And it gets an 88% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Monica Castillo of RogerEbert.com writing “with its creative approach to a familiar story about power struggles, Selah and the Spades takes these girls and their problems seriously with all the respect their characters crave. ” It’s on my list. Amazon’s second amazing add isThe Lighthouse, the 2019 horror movie directed by Robert Eggers(The Witch). Here, Robert Pattinson stars as the new wickie(lighthouse keeper)Ephraim Winslow at an island off the coast of New England, in the late 1800’s, under the tutelage of the gruff and taciturn Wake(Willem Dafoe). He notices weird behavior on the part of Wake, and the seclusion itself is disarming,but as he and Wake become closer, Winslow finds that the previous wickie died, after losing his sanity. And there are more revelations to come, as a storm besets the island. Valeria Karaman is the only other actor featured in this movie, filmed entirely in black and white. It premiered at the 72nd Cannes Film Festival, where it won the FIPRESCI prize(Film Critics), and went on to win others, including Best Supporting Actor for Dafoe at the Independent Spirit Awards, and Best Actor for Pattinson at the London Film Critics’ Circle Awards. And it gets a stunning 90% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 7.6/10 on IMDb. Cody Corrall of the Chicago Reader wrote, “the visceral, disgusting, and irrefutably maddening theatrics of The Lighthouse are entrancing enough to have viewers happily giving themselves over to a beckoning siren by film’s end.” Too scary for me. And, finally, Amazon has also added it’s 6th season of Bosch, the crime drama series starring Titus Welliver. Welliver stars as the title character, an L.A. police detective, and based on the novels of Michael Connelly, seemingly always embroiled in controversy, and trying to solve crimes at the same time. Jamie Hector, Amy Aquino, Lynn Collins, Madison Lintz, Tzi Ma and Kovar McClure are also featured players, and Seasons 1-6 are now available, with ten episodes a season. And Bosch gets an amazing 8.4/10 on IMDb.
So sit back and binge this weekend, on classics, new and old, on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Enjoy!