Yes, it’s the weekend, again, and time to review the best new adds on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. So let’s get started!
One of the biggest adds this week(also on Amazon) has to be Hulu’s Rocketman, the 2019 Elton John biopic. Taron Egerton stars in the title role, as Elton John in his life and career in music, with Bryce Dallas Howard playing his less than affectionate mother, Sheila, and Gemma Jones(!) playing his more supportive grandmother Ivy. Jamie Bell plays Bernie Taupin, his close friend and later partner in songwriting, and Richard Madden plays John Reid, a manipulative manager that led him toward a more wild and destructive life. Stephen Graham, Stephen Mackintosh, Tate Donovan and Charlie Rowe also star, with Dexter Fletcher(Bohemian Rhapsody) directing. And, though this isn’t a perfect film, Edgerton sells it, with a great performance, and wonderful music, too- it won the Academy Award for Best Song with (I’m Gonna) Love me Again. And it gets an 89% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 7.3/10 on IMDb. Erin Keane of Salon.com said, “it’s Taron Egerton as Elton John who carries and sells the film — often backwards and in platform heels. Wild as it may sound to approach such a mercurial and marvelous character with beautiful restraint, Egerton’s performance is meticulously calibrated.” It’s on my list. Hulu has also added Premature, the 2019 drama. Zora Howard(co-writer) and Joshua Boone star as a young couple, Ayanna and Isaiah, who meet and fall in love in Harlem, with Ayanna just getting ready to leave for college and Isaiah, a young music producer. It’s a rather honestly portrayed young romance, not perfect, but taking place against the beautiful backdrop of New York City in the summer. Michelle Wilson, Myha’la Herrold,Alexis Marie Wint, Tashiana Washington and Imani Lewis also starring and Rashaad Ernesto Green directing. And it gets an amazing 94% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Ann Hornaday of the Washington Post said ““Premature” is a delicious slow-burn of a movie, the kind of coming-of-age tale that looks familiar on the surface only to reveal hidden depths of beauty and meaning.” And the cinematography by Laura Valladao is stunning. Don’t miss it, I won’t. Hulu also offers Top End Wedding, a 2019 Australian comedy. Lauren(Miranda Tapsell) and Ned(Gwilym Lee) are all set to get married, when Lauren finds her parents have split up, and feeling she can’t get married without her Mum, they go in search of her, in the Tiwi Islands, given she’s an indigenous Australian. Ursula Yovich, Huw Higginson, Brooklyn Doomadgee, Shari Sebbens, Helena Johnson and Kerry Fox also star, and Wayne Blair(The Sapphires!) directed. And the film gets an 89% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Luke Buckmaster of the Guardian writing “Blair’s direction demonstrates significant comedic flair – there are many laugh-out-loud moments – even if the script’s scruffy elements cramp his style a little.” I’m definitely watching. And, finally, Hulu has added the important FX documentary AKA Jane Roe. Directed by Nick Sweeney(Born in the Wrong Body), this tells the story of Norma McCorvey, Jane Roe, the plaintiff in Roe v. Wade, which made abortion finally legal in this country in 1973, then her about face against abortion in the 90’s, and her deathbed confession in 2017, that her reversal was all a fake, paid for by anti-abortion activists, to the tune of 500,00 dollars. There are interviews with activists on both sides, like Charlotte Taft, an abortion activist, Gloria Allred, her lawyer, and a surprisingly repentant one from pro-lifer Reverend Rob Schenck. It’s an eye-opening and shocking look at McCorvey’s life, with tender insights from her partner, Connie. And It gets a 6.5/10 on IMDb, and a 75% on Rotten Tomatoes. Josephine Livingstone of the New Republic says “it felt good to meet the real Norma McCorvey on-screen in AKA Jane Roe. She was funny, glamorous, queer, and — ultimately — honest about all those things.” I agree. We all should watch.
The biggest add on Netflix this week is The Lovebirds, the kinda rom-com starring Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani. Here, they star as a couple in love, but on the brink of breaking up, when they witness a hit and run murder, using their car, while they’re in it. So when bystanders assume they’re the murderers, they have to go on the run, and eventually, solve the crime. Anna Camp, Paul Sparks, Kyle Bornheimer, Kelly Murtagh and Barry Rothbart also star, while Michael Showalter(Wet Hot American Summer) directs. And, no, it’s not a perfect movie, but Nanjiani and Rae save the day(and the movie). Adam Graham of the Detroit News writes, “without Rae and Nanjiani it wouldn’t work as well as it does. Luckily, they’re two lovebirds with a song worth singing.” And it gets a 66% on Rotten Tomatoes. I’m definitely tuning in. Netflix has also added The Queen and the Conqueror, a 2020 historical drama series from Columbia. This tells the story of Catalina de Indias, played by Essined Aponte, an indigenous woman who fell in love with an Spanish invader, Pedro, played by Emmanuel Esparza, and years later, plots her revenge. Gilma Escobar, Kepa Amuchastegui, Ilenia Antonini, Christina Warner and Maia Landaburu also star, and there are a whopping 60 episodes available now, for a good binge. And it gets a 6.7/10 on IMDb. I’m watching. Netflix also offers Blood & Water, a 2020 South African drama series. Ana Qamata stars here, as Puleng, a teen who manages to get into Parkhurst College, an elite private high school in Cape Town, South Africa, to discover whether a girl there is her sister, abducted at birth. Khosi Ngema, Gail Mabalane, Thabang Molaba, Natasha Thahane, Dillon Windvogel and Getmore Sithole also star, and Blood & Water is written and directed by award-winning South African filmmaker Nosipho Dumisa(Number 37). And it gets a 5.8/10 on IMDb. It’s definitely on my list. Also new on Netflix is I Will Follow, Ava DuVernay’s 2010 debut drama. Salli Richardson-Whitfield plays Maye, a successful makeup artist, whose life is changed forever, when her aunt Amanda(Beverly Todd) dies, and after caring for her for a year, Maye has to find her direction again. Michole White, Dijon Talton, Omari Hardwick, Blair Underwood(!) and Tracie Thorns also star, and Duvernay also wrote the screenplay in addition to directing this movie. It won the Narrative Audience Award at Urbanworld Film Festival, and got tons of other award nominations. Roger Ebert wrote of it, “in one way or another, every emotion in this wonderful independent film is one I’ve experienced myself. Grief, of course. But also anger, loneliness, confusion and a sense of lost direction.” And it gets an 82% on Rotten Tomatoes. I won’t miss it. And, finally, Netflix has added Ben Platt Live from Radio City Music Hall, a 2020 live concert. Here, Ben Platt, famous for Dear Evan Hanson, and Book of Mormon, too, and Tony Award winner for Dear Evan Hanson, in 2017, entertains on one of the famous stages in New York. He not only sings songs from his debut album, Sing To Me Instead, but also shares intimate thoughts and details, while backstage, and even onstage. And former costars and friends like Anna Kendrick, Zoe Deustch, Beanie Feldstein, Lucy Boynton and Judith Light(!) show up for some entertaining bits, as well. And it’s all directed by the award winning Alex Timbers, also of Broadway fame. So if you miss Broadway during this dry season, definitely tune in. Lea Palmieri of the Decider says, “The special is lovely and pleasant for those only mildly interested and likely a real thrill for his biggest fans.” And it gets a stunning 8.2/10 on IMDb.
The most exciting add on Amazon this week, aside from Rocketman, also on Amazon, is the 2nd season of Homecoming. This season does not feature Julia Roberts or her character Heidi Bergman, but instead finds Jackie Calico, played by Janelle Monae, a vet who wakes to find herself in a row boat, with no memories, who pieces things back together enough to find a connection to the shadowy Geist Group, who was behind the Homecoming Initiative. Hong Chau, Chris Cooper(!), Joan Cusack(!), Bobby Cannavale(!) and Stephen James also star, and there are 7 episodes now available. And the series gets a 7.5/10 on IMDb. I’m watching. Amazon has also added the 2019 horror movie Come to Daddy, starring Elijah Wood. Wood stars as Norval, a cossetted man-child, who goes to see his estranged father(Stephen McHattie!)at a remote cottage, after receiving a strange letter from him. But things get even more weird, and Norval realizes he may not survive the visit. Martin Donovan, Madeleine Sami, Michael Smiley and Simon Chin also star, and Ant Timpson(Housebound) directed. Amy Nicholson of NPR-Los Angeles wrote it’s “incredibly violent and very fun and very strange.” And it gets an 86% on Rotten Tomatoes. But too scary for me. And, finally, Amazon has added Detective Dee And The Mystery Of The Phantom Flame, a 2010 mystery from Hong Kong and China. This takes place in 689, when Wu Zetian(Carina Lau) wants to be crowned empress, but is opposed by the Tang dynasty, and she’s also hampered by mysterious murders where her officials suddenly burst into flames. So she calls in the famous Detective Dee(Andy Lau) to solve the crimes. Li Bingbing, Deng Chao, Tony Leung Ka–fai, Sos Haroyan and Veronica Faye Foo also star, and award-winning Hark Tsui(Once Upon a Time in China) directed. This film won numerous awards, like Best Director and Best Actress at the 30th Hong Kong Film Awards, and Best Visual Effects at the 47th Golden Horse Awards. And it gets an 80% on Rotten Tomatoes. Stephen Cole of the Globe and Mail wrote of it, “Detective Dee is the action flick of the year, a two-hour epic that blows the Pirates of the Caribbean to the Bermuda Triangle.” It’s so much fun. I’m definitely tuning in.
So sit back and binge this Holiday weekend, on classics old and new, ON Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Enjoy!