Yes, it’s the weekend again, and time to review the best new movies and television shows added online, to Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. So lets get started!
Hulu‘s biggest add this week is the critically acclaimed 2020 documentary The Painter and the Thief. This Norwegian film, directed by Benjamin Ree, tells the unbelievable tale of Czech artist Barbora Kysilkova who, in 2015, had two of her prized paintings stolen from a gallery in Oslo, and, when one of the two men responsible, Bertil Nordland, was found and tried, she became determined to paint his portrait. And a bond forms between the two, against the objections of Kysilkova‘s friends and loved ones. This is Ree‘s first time directing and it’s a fine one. He won the World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award at Sundance for his work, earlier this year. Alison Williams of Vulture wrote it’s “[a] strange, delicately made film, which manages to defy expectations about both of its subjects and the power balance between them.” And it gets an amazing 97% on Rotten Tomatoes. I’m definitely watching. Hulu has also added the 2019 Canadian mystery Disappearance at Clifton Hill. Tuppence Middleton stars here as Abby, a girl with a troubled past, who returns home to Niagara Falls after her mother’s death, to uncover disturbing mystery of her childhood, the abduction of a seemingly one-eyed boy. Hannah Gross, Eric Johnson, Marie-Josée Croze and even director David Cronenberg(!) also star, and Albert Shin(The Waiting Room) directed. And the movie gets a 71% on Rotten Tomatoes. Barry Hertz of the Globe and Mail said, “Clifton Hill becomes just as thrilling and disturbing as its titular strip of haunted houses and fading-fast motels.” But it’s too creepy for me. Also new on Hulu is Military Wives, the 2019 British comedy/drama from the director of the Full Monty, Peter Cattaneo. Kristin Scott Thomas(!) stars as Kate Barkley, the wife of Colonel Barkley, who is tasked with entertaining the “wives” of the base military members gone off to Afghanistan, with some sort of group activity, which turns out to be choral singing. Sharon Horgan(Catastrophe), Jason Flemyng, Greg Wise, Emma Lowndes and Gaby French also star. And this is all based on true events. But the writing isn’t terribly interesting, and the whole film feels tired. It gets a 71% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Mary Sollosi of EW saying, “Military Wives absolutely succeeds in what it sets out to do – which is, admittedly, not a particularly grand ambition, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a mark worth hitting.” You decide. I would rather watch National Geographic‘s new drama series Barkskins, now available on Hulu. Based on Pulitzer Prize winner Annie Proulx’s 2016 novel of the same name, this tells the story of America’s deforestation in New France(Quebec), by following two barkskins(woodcutters), René Sel(Christian Cooke) and Charles Duquet(James Bloor) and their descendants.Marcia Gay Harden, David Thewlis, Kaniehtiio Horn and Matthew Lilliard also star, and there are currently four episodes available for streaming, with four more to come. Media Post calls it the “year’s best miniseries so far.” And it gets a 6.8/10 on IMDb. I’m tuning in.
Netflix has a huge add this week with the comedy series Space Force, starring Steve Carrell. Brought to us by Carell and Greg Daniels(The Office), this tells the tale of Trump‘s new Space Force, which will guard space and our satellites(?) , and Gen Mark R. Naird(Carell) is put in charge, much to his surprise, with people like John Malkevich(!) as the crazy Dr. Adrian Mallory, and Ben Schwartz as the social media director F. Tony Scarapiducci, to keep in line. Diana Silver stars as Naird’s daughter Erin, and Tawny Newsome as helicopter pilot Captain Angela Ali. Jane Lynch(!), Jimmy O. Yang, Patrick Warburton(!), Lisa Kudrow(!), Noah Emmerich and the always wonderful Fred Williard, veteran of the first Space Force series in the 60‘s, also star. There are ten episodes now available to stream, and with an all-star cast of comedians like this, I’m not going to miss it. And it gets a 7/10 on IMDb. Netflix has also added Uncut Gems, the 2019 thriller from directors Josh and Benny Safdie(Good time). Adam Sandler stars here as Howard Ratner, a New York jeweler always in debt, since he'[s a compulsive gambler, who must retrieve a prized black opal he bought to cover his debts. So he goes on a frenzied search through the city, in search of his gem. Idina Menzel, Julia Fox, Lakeith Stanfield, Kevin Garnett and Judd Hirsch(!) also star. It premiered at the Telluride Film Festival last August, and Sandler won the Independent Spirit Award for Best Male Lead. And it gets an stunning 92% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Brad Newsome of the Sydney Morning Herald wrote, “it’s a brilliantly exhausting movie that gaffer-tapes us to motormouth New York gem dealer and degenerate gambler Howard Ratner… The thrill and despair of the addict are palpable.” It’s on my list. Also new on Netflix is the true crime limited series Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich. Directed by Lisa Bryant(former Miami Herald reporter), this four-part series looks at the crimes of Epstein from his victims point of view, but begins with a tape of the jarring, glassy-eyed testimony of Epstein in 2012 in Florida, where he invoked the fifth amendment countless times, and ends up being let off with a “sweetheart deal,” by Alex Acosta, future Trump Labor Secretary. But his victims tell their stories too, like Alicia Arden and Virgina Guifre, and their feelings of helplessness ring out, in the midst of the wealth, power and control Epstein and his enabler Ghislaine Maxwell. It’s a chilling and upsetting series to watch, but important, too, especially since his victims finally get center stage, to tell their side of the story. The Guardian says it’s “difficult to watch ….without a choking on a sense of outrage.” And it gets a 7.3/10 on IMDb. We should all watch. Netflix also offers American Gospel: Christ Alone, a 2018 documentary about the big business of prosperity Christianity in America. This is the Christianity movement brought to us by people like Joel Osteen and Benny Hinn, who equate God and Christianity with wealth, and how they can make you rich, all the while making millions themselves. The film, produced by NPBR, the National Religious Broadcasters, compares Osteen and Hinn(and others) to snake oil salesmen and other charlatans, distorting the Christian message to promote greed and fattening their own pockets. Former followers give their own interpretation of the movement, and why they left. It’s director is Brandon Kimber and the movie gets an amazing 9.1/10 on IMDb. It’s an unusually honest movie about Christianity, brought to you by Christians. And, finally, Netflix has added the 2020 Indian horror series Betaal. Here, the army and a construction company try to displace a whole village for development, so the elder of a village calls forth Betaal, the spirit trapped in the nearby mountain, to come forth, with a company of zombies from the 1800’s. Vineet Kumar Singh, Aahana Kumra, Suchitra Pillai, Jatin Goswami, Siddharth Menon and Manjiri Pupala star and the series is written and directed by Patrick Graham(Ghoul) and Nikhil Mahajan. And it gets a 5.5/10 on IMDb. Because I know you need horror. But it’s too scary for me.
Amazon‘s big add this week is The Vast of Night, a 2019 sci-fi movie. Sierra McCormick and Jake Horowitz star as two teenagers, a switchboard operator and radio DJ respectively, who investigate a mysterious radio signal in their hometown in Arizona in 1957, and events take off from there. Gail Cronauer, Bruce Davis, Cheyenne Barton and Greg Peyton also star, and Andrew Patterson directed. It’s an old fashioned style sci-fi movie, with weird tales told by eccentric characters of the small desert town and kids in cars trying to save the town. It gets a stunning 91% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Claudia Puig of Filmweek calling it “very low-key and obviously extremely low-budget, but also stylish and clever.” I’m watching. Amazon also offers Thappad, the 2020 Indian drama. Taapsee Pannu stars here as Amrita, a seemingly happily married woman, whose life is thrown into turmoil, when her husband, Vikram(Pavail Gulati) slaps her at a party, and doesn’t apologize. It leads to realizations about the true state of her marriage, and she leaves for her parents home, but her loved ones simply advise her to tolerate it. Dia Mirza, Maya Sarao, Geetika Vidya Ohlyan, Kumud Mishra and Tanvi Azmi also star, while Anubhav Sinha(Mulk, Dus, Article 15) directed. And Thappad gets an incredible 92% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Namrata Joshi of The Hindu writing, “the story of one woman becomes that of every woman, every man and the everyday male entitlement.” I’m definitely tuning in. And, finally, Amazon offers Edie, a 2019 Scottish drama. Sheila Hancock(veteran of The Royal Shakespeare Company) stars as Edie, a woman who, at the death of her husband, decides to take off for the Scottish Highlands, against the wishes of her daughter, and climb the famous Mt. Suilven. Amy Manson, Kevin Guthrie, Wendy Morgan and Paul Brannigan also star, and the film is directed by Simon Hunter. Bill Goodykoontz of the Arizona Republic said, “the story in Edie may get sidetracked from time to time, but Hancock never does, with a focus every bit the equal of her character’s, if not more so.” And it gets a 6.5/10 on IMDb. it’s on my list.
So sit back and binge this weekend, with classics, old and new, on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Enjoy!