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. And there’s some good new stuff out there, so let’s get started!
Hulu has some big adds this week, the biggest being Shirley, the 2020 drama starring Elizabeth Moss. Moss stars in this movie, based on Susan Scarf Merrell’s novel of the same name, as the acclaimed horror author Shirley Jackson, living at Bennington College, Maine, isolated by agoraphobia and in a tempestuous relationship with her husband(Michael Stuhlbarg) and professor, Michael Hyman. When they take in a young couple, played by Odessa Young and Logan Lerman, it seems a good deal for the newlyweds, but they get more than they bargained for. Stephen Vinovich and Edward O’Blensis also star and Josephine Decker(Madeline’s Madeline) directs. Decker won the U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Auteur Filmmaking for her work here, at the 2020 Sundance Awards. But, typical of Decker‘s other work, this is a kind of experimental film, non linear, and heavily fictonalized. Elizabeth Moss plays her dramatic part to near perfection, and the film gets an 89% on Rotten Tomatoes.Alison Willmore of New York Magazine says, “with the support of Moss, who’s become a specialist in deconstructing the idea of feminine hysteria, and Young, who plays Rose like the flushed heroine of a grim fairy tale, Decker ends up in a place that’s strange and satisfying.” I’m tuning in. Hulu has also added Almost Adults, a 2016 Canadian comedy. This tells the story of best friends Cassie(Natasha Negovanlis) and Mackenzie(Elise Bauman),trying to keep their lifelong bond going, with graduation from college, and separation, looming. And when MacKenzie comes up with another surprise, things threaten to come apart. Justin Gerhard, Winny Clarke, Pujaa Pandey and Delphine Roussel are also featured players, and Sarah Rotella directed. It premiered at Toronto’s InsideOut Film Festival, and it gets an 80% on Rotten Tomatoes. Valerie Anne Liston of Autostraddle wrote, “Almost Adults is really fun to watch. And it flips the script on a lot of classic lesbian movie tropes.” Hulu also offers Incident at Loch Ness, Werner Herzog’s 2004 comedic mockumentary. Here, in a movie written and produced by Herzog and Zak Penn and directed by Penn, the crew is at Loch Ness, searching for a monster Herzog believes is only a human creation, Penn sees the need to go big budget, hiring a beautiful woman(Kitana Baker) and a deluded cryptozoologist(Michael Karnow) to star, and perhaps even building his own monster. When everyone goes out in a boat to investigate, things get really crazy. The cast also includes Jeff Goldblum, Ricky Jay, Lena Herzog and Robert O’Meara, and this film went on to win the won the New American Cinema Award at the 2004 Seattle International Film Festival. Roger Ebert wrote, at the time, “watching the movie is an entertaining exercise in forensic viewing, and the insidious thing is, even if it is a con, who is the conner and who is the connee?” And it gets a 63% on Rotten Tomatoes. I’m watching. And , finally, Hulu has added Intrigo: Dear Agnes, a 2020 thriller from director Daniel Alfredson(The Girl Who Played with Fire). Here, Gemma Chan stars as an unhappily married wealthy woman, who, convinced her husband(Jamie Sives) is cheating, pressures her newly widowed(and broke) old friend Agnes(Carla Juri) to do him in. Cal Macaninch, John Sessions and Predrag Bjelac also star, and this is based on a novel by Swedish author Hakan Nesser. And though it’s far from perfect(it only gets a 40% on Rotten Tomatoes), I love a mystery, so I’m watching. And it’s got a great cast.
Netflix has some good adds this week, like Can You Hear Me?, a 2020 Canadian dramatic comedy. M’entends-Tu? in French, it focuses on three teenage friends, played by Mélissa Bédard, Ève Landry and Florence Longpré, who live in a low income neighborhood in Montreal. And, they sustain and support each other, through difficulties like addiction, family travails, and neglect. Mehdi Bousaidan, Sophie Desmarais, Isabelle Brouillette and Victor Andres Turgeon-Trelles also star, and there are 10 episodes available to stream now. This is not your average comedy-its been compared to Lena Dunham’s Girls, or Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag– and like them, it’s funny and deeply moving, and sometimes tragic. It’s also raunchy, so don’t watch with the kids. But it is also an excellent, insightful look into how the other half lives. And it gets an amazing 7.5/10 on IMDb. It’s on my list.. Netflix also offers I’m No Longer Here, a powerful 2019 Mexican drama. Juan Daniel García Treviño plays Ulises, a 17-year-old kid, heavily into Cumbia and dancing) from Monterrey, Mexico, who is forced to flee with his family(because of a lethal misunderstanding with a gang) to Queens, to start a new life he doesn’t want. Xueming Angelina Chen, Brandon Stanton, Jonathan Espinoza and Juan Garcia also star, and the show is directed and written by Fernando Frias de la Parra(Los Espookys). I’m No Longer Here won multiple awards in 2019, including Best Actor for Treviño at the Cairo International Film Festival 2019, and Feature Film Competition Award at the Morelia International Film Festival. And it gets a stunning 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. Claudia Puig of NPR Los Angeles writes, “it hypnotically washes over you, and I think that has a lot to do with the cinematography, music, and the lead performance by Juan Daniel Garcia Treviño.” Don’t miss it, I won’t. Netflix also offers The Night Clerk, a 2020 mystery. Tye Sheridan stars here as Bart Bromley, a hotel night clerk, with asperger’s, who has difficulty communicating, so he sets up remote cameras, linked to his laptop, in five of the hotel rooms, in order to watch people talk. But when one new tenant, Karen(Jacque Gray) is murdered, and Bart is the only witness, he has to solve the crime, especially as he becomes the chief suspect in the crime. Helen Hunt(!) plays his mom, John Leguizamo(!), the homicide detective involved in the case, and Ana de Armas, Johnathan Schaech and Jacque Gray also star. Playwright and director Michael Cristofer(Pulitzer and Tony winner for The Shadow Box) wrote and directed this film. And though it only gets a 5.3/10 on IMDb, the cast is wonderful and Tye Sheridan‘s characterization is incredible. I’m definitely watching. Also new on Netflix is Spelling the Dream, a 2020 doc on the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Well, it’s not just about the Spelling Bee, but also about why Indian American children have made up the vast majority of winners in the past few decades, all 12 in the past 12 years, in fact. Director Sam Rega interviews grown and successful Indian immigrants, like Fareed Zakaria, Hari Kondabolu and even the first Indian American winner(from 1985), Dr. Balu Natarajan, for information. They also follows present day hopefuls, like Shourav, Akash and Ashrita. But the most exciting part is the behind-the-scenes look at an actual competition, at the 2017 Scripps National Spelling Bee. And though it definitely focuses too heavily on the male view(and winning), it’s an inspiring and thrilling view of the national competition. And if you missed the Bee this year as much as I did, you’ll be tuning in, too. And it gets a 7.8/10 on IMDb. And, finally, Netflix has added Our House, the 2018 Canadian horror movie. Thomas Mann stars here as Ethan, a passionate young inventor of a wireless power device called Eli, who is called home upon his parents death, and finds the device might also awaken his parents souls. And other dead people. Kate Moyer, Christine Home, Lucius Hoyos, Nicola Peltz and Percy Hynes White also star, while Anthony Scott Burns(Dark Matter) directed. And it gets a 5.3/10 on IMDb, with Ben Kenigsberg of the New York Times says, “Our House distinguishes itself with its purposeful pacing … its use of sound and crosscutting, and its wit with household objects, from a turntable to a mechanical calendar.”This isn’t a graphic horror movie, but more atmospheric and creepy. But it’s still too scary for me.
Amazon’s biggest add this week has to be the 2019 drama Just Mercy, starring Michael B. Jordan. Here, Jordan plays civil rights leader Brian Stevenson, early in his career, as he traveled to Alabama in 1989 and took up the case of Walter “Johnny D.” McMillian(Jamie Foxx), in prison for the murder of a white woman. But Stevenson discovers McMillan’s conviction rests entirely upon the questionable and self-contradictory testimony of a felon, Ralph Myers(Tim Blake Nelson) who received a lighter sentence in return. Brie Larson, Rob Morgan, Rafe Spall, O’Shea Jackson Jr and Karan Kendrick also star, and the movie is directed by Destin Daniel Cretton(The Glass Castle). It premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 6, 2019, and won numerous awards afterward, including Best Supporting Actor Awards for Jamie Foxx, and Outstanding Motion Picture, Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture and Outstanding Ensemble Cast in a Motion Picture at the NAACP Image Awards. And it gets an incredible 7.5/10 on IMDb, with Tim Robey of the Daily Telegraph(UK) writing “Jordan… has steel and energy in his part, and… Foxx… gives a beautifully modulated, unflashy and quietly moving performance, easily his best in at least a decade.” I’m definitely watching.And Amazon also offers free viewing of other important movies about Black History in America this week, like Selma, Ava DuVernay’s award-winning 2014 drama, about Martin Luther King and the historic march on Selma of 1963, and The Central Park Five, the incredible PBS documentary series about the five innocent youths wrongfully convicted for a Central Park murder in 1989, directed by Ken and Sarah Burns. Oh, and don’t forget I Am Not Your Negro, the stunning 2017 documentary about James Baldwin and his unfinished book of the same name. We should all watch, especially at this time. And, finally, Amazon has made the first season of Professor T, the Belgian mystery series set in Antwerp. It features Professor T.(Koen De Bouw) , a criminology professor with a compulsive and stand-offish personality that may make him difficult to like, but indispensable on a crime scene. And it gets a 7.9/10 on IMDb. And there are 13(sometimes graphic) episodes available, until June 30.
So sit back and binge this weekend, on classics, old and new, on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Enjoy!