Yes, it’s the weekend again, and time to review the best new movies and television shows added to Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime. So let’s get started!
Hulu has added precious little this week, but there are a few gems, if you look closely enough, like 2 Days in Paris, Julie Delpy’s 2007 directorial debut. Delpy also stars as a woman trying to renew the romance with her neurotic boyfriend Jack(Adam Goldberg) after a definitely unromantic trip to Venice. Marie Pillet(Delpy’s Mom), Albert Delpy(yes, Delpy’s Dad), Alexia Landeau and Adán Jodorowsky also star, and Delpy also wrote, produced and even composed the music for this film. She was nominated for a César Award for Best Writing, and the film even won the Coup de Cœur Award from the Mons International Festival of Love Films, among other awards. it was compared often to Woody Allen‘s Annie Hall, and Stephen Holden of the New York Times saying, “Ms. Delpy’s and Mr. Goldberg’s performances are so assured and spontaneous that they don’t even seem to be acting.” And it gets an 87% on Rotten Tomatoes. I’m watching. Hulu has also added A Kind of Murder, a 2016 mystery/thriller. This is based on the Patricia Highsmith(Strangers on a Train) The Blunderer, and features the story of married man(Patrick Wilson), tempted into an affair with a singer(Haley Bennett), whose wife(Jessica Biel) suddenly, and conveniently ends up dead. When he swears he didn’t do it, no one believes him. Vincent Kartheiser, Eddie Marsan, Jon Osbeck and Christine Dye also star, with Andy Goddard(Set Fire to the Stars) directing. It premiered at Tribeca, in 2016, with only tepid reviews. It only gets a 38% on Rotten Tomatoes, but John DeFore of the Hollywood Reporter calling it a “handsome period piece that plays more like a scant-clues mystery than like the psychological thriller it intends to be.” And it’s Highsmith, so it’s on my list. But a better offering may be Cunningham, the 2019 documentary about the legendary choreographer Merce Cunningham. Directed by Alla Kovgan, this movie follows the avant-garde Cunningham’s career in a different way, through 14 of his dance creations. Interspersed is a brief narrative of his life, with audio from some of his students and clips of Merce Cunningham himself. But this is mostly dance, brief excerpts of his works from 1942-1972(though he went on working until his death in 2009). This is Kovgan’s debut as a director and it is a quite audacious piece, at that. It was nominated for awards at several film festivals and won at the Hamptons International Film Festival for Best Documentary Feature. Katie Erblund of Indiewire wrote, “even decades since creation, Cunningham’s choreography still stuns… Stripped away from convention and without explanation, it flies, but stuck inside tired modes of storytelling, it only stumbles.” And it gets an 88% on Rotten Tomatoes. And, finally, Hulu offers Friday Night Dinner, a 2011-2020 British comedy series. This show joins the Goodman family for Friday night Shabbat(though they’re very secular Jews), in the suburbs of London, with the two grown sons, Adam and Jonny, played by Simon Bird and Tom Rosenthal, respectively, visiting mainly for a free meal from their parents, played by Tamsin Greig and Paul Ritter. Mark Heap, Frances Cuka, Tracy Ann Oberman and Rosalind Knight also star, and there are 5 seasons of the series now available for streaming. It’s based on writer Robert Popper‘s own family experiences and has been nominated for BAFTA Awards in it’s first season. Chris Hallam’s World View calls it “a truly classic comedy,” and it gets an amazing 8.1/10 on IMDb. I’m definitely watching, we could all use a good laugh right now.
Netflix has some exciting adds this week, like The Willoughbys, a 2020 British computer animated comedy. Based on a book by Lois Lowry(The Givers!), this tells the tale of a very dysfunctional family, the Willoughbys, with parents too in love with each other to care for their four children, left to fend for themselves, like Tim, the oldest, who lives in a coal bin. So the kids hatch a plan to send their parents on a dangerous vacation, so dangerous, they hopefully won’t come back. But, they then find their parents hired them a nanny. Martin Short and Jane Krakowski play the awful parents, while Will Forte, Alessia Cara and Seán Cullen play the kids. Ricky Gervais, Maya Rudolph(!) and Terry Crews also star, with Kris Pearn directing. It gets a 93% on Rotten Tomatoes, and David Rooney of the Hollywood Reporter says, “there’s a lot going on in The Willoughbys, yet if you can get on board with its manic energy and accelerated plotting, the Netflix animated family comedy-adventure has an oddball charm that works surprisingly well.” And it’s not just for kids, I’m watching. Netflix has also added This Earth of Mankind, a 2019 movie from Indonesia. This is based on the seminal Indonesian novel of the same name by Pramoedya Ananta Toe, written in the 1970’s, while he was a political prisoner on the island of Buru. It takes place during Dutch rule of Indonesia, and tells the story of Minke(Iqbaal Dhiafakhri Ramadhan), a descendant of Javanese royalty, who is therefore allowed access to Dutch school(HBS), at a time when other “natives” are not afforded such luxuries. He meets a concubine, Nyai Ontosoroh(Sha Ine Febriyanti), and falls in love with her daughter Annelies(Mawar Eva de Jongh), but because they are married in an “Islamic” ceremony, it has no validity with the Dutch. Giorgino Abraham, Bryan Domani, Ayu Laksmi, Jerome Kurnia and Dewi Irawan also star, and Hanung Bramantyo directs. This film was nominated for 12 awards at the Film Festival of Indonesia, and gets a 6.5/10 on IMDb. It’s on my list. Netflix also offers Circus of Books, a 2019 documentary. This focuses on the famous Circus of Books bookstore, in West Hollywood, which closed in 2019, but was once one of the biggest purveyors of gay porn in the country. One surprise is that it was run by a straight Jewish couple, Karen and Barry Mason, who kept it a secret all those years from their synagogue, and another is that the film’s director is their daughter, Rachel Mason. And, though their kids may have had difficulty dealing with their parents work place, the gay community adored the store, and the owners too, who were advocates for gay rights and AIDS treatment, as well. It gives an enlightening look into the intolerance many gay people endured for decades. And the movie gets a stunning 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Teo Bugbee of the New York Times writing,” these members of the community reflect on a bygone era with wit and warmth, and the film supports their memories with golden-lit archival footage of the neighborhood in the 1980s.” I’m definitely tuning in. Netflix has also added the 3rd season of Man Like Mobeen, a British comedy series. This stars Guz Khan, who created the character and writes the series, as Mobeen, a Muslim man, living in Birmingham, England, who is trying to raise his much younger sister, Aqsa(Dùaa Karim), in a responsible way. Tez Ilyas, Tolu Ogunmefun, Mandeep Sehmi and Debra Bishop also star, and there are 13 episodes in all to stream. And the series gets an amazing 7.9/10 on IMDb, and WhatWentRightWith.com calls it “is laugh-out-loud funny.” It’s on my list. And finally, Netflix has added The Artist, the award-winning French 2011 comedy. Here, Jean Dujardin stars as silent movie star George Valentin meets Peppy Miller(Bérénice Bejo), and, offers her a break in pictures, in 1927. But things change, two years later,with the arrival of talkies, and as Peppy’s star rises, Valentin‘s fades. This all takes place in beautiful black and white, and is a mostly silent film. Uggie the Dog(!) stars as Jack, and John Goodman, Penelope Ann Miller, James Cromwell(!), Missi Pyle and Malcolm McDowell(!) also star, while Michel Hazanavicius directed. Hazanavicius went on to win the César Award for Best Director, as well as Best Picture, and the movie won Best Director, Best Picture and Best Actor for Dujardin(as well as two others) at the Academy Awards. Katie Muir of the Times(UK) wrote, “sometimes cinema should just be pure, unadulterated joy, and The Artist is precisely that, in every wordless frame.” And it gets an unbelievable 95% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 7.9/10 on IMDb. A must for all film buffs.
Okay, so Amazon has no great new adds this week, but there are still some good newer things to mention, like The Bureau, the French spy series from Sundance Now. This series features French intelligence officer Malotru(Mathieu Kassovitz), trying to adapt to life after being undercover in Syria for six years, and moving on to train a new recruit. It also stars Florence Loiret Caille, Sara Giraudeau, Léa Drucker, Jean-Pierre Darroussin and Zineb Triki, and there are four seasons available for streaming now, but warning, it is only available on Prime until May 1. But you can get a Sundance Now 30-day free trial on Amazon here. And The Bureau gets an amazing 8.7/10 on IMDb. You can also watch the first season of Detective Montalbano, the 2019 Italian crime series. Based on the novels of Andrea Camilleri, this tells the tale of commissario Salvo Montalbano, played by Luca Zingaretti, of the imaginary town of Vigàta, Sicily, where he solves crimes with the help of his deputy, Domenico ‘Mimì’ Augello(Cesare Bocci), and his team. Peppino Mazzotta, Angelo Russo,Isabell Sollman, Katharina Böhm and Claudia Catani also star, and there are 31 episodes to watch free, with the following seasons offered by MHZ Choice. And this series gets an 8.4(!)/10 on IMDb. And, finally, Amazon has 7 seasons of Curb Your Enthusiasm, Larry David’s classic comedy series. David plays a fictionalized version of himself, a semi-retired TV writer, living with his long suffering wife(and later ex-wife), played by Cheryl Hines, and endures life’s indignities, with the help of friends like Jeff Garlin(The Goldbergs), his wife, played by Susie Essman, and people like Richard Lewis(!), the late Bob Einstein(!), Ted Danson and others. And it gets an incredible 8.7/10 on IMDb. Watch til you drop.
So sit back and binge, while social distancing, this weekend, on classics old and new, on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Enjoy!