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. And there’s some good stuff out there, so let’s get started!
Hulu’s best new add this week is Clemency, the 2019 drama starring Alfre Woodard(!). Here, Woodard stars as Bernadine Williams, a Death Row prison warden, who is forced to execute another prisoner, this time Anthony(Aldis Hodge), who may be innocent. Bernadine is distant from her husband(Wendell Pierce) and struggling with the demons already inherent in her job. Richard Gunn, Danielle Brooks, Richard Schiff and Vernee Watrson-Johnson also star, and Chinonye Chukwu directed. It won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance in 2018, but Woodard was scandalously overlooked at the Oscars for her role here. Manohla Dargis of the New York Times wrote, “Bernadine [is] a tragic figure whom Woodard brilliantly dismantles piece by ravaged piece, tearing apart a false front — and the larger institution this woman faithfully upheld — with unapologetic ferocity.” And it gets an amazing 91% on Rotten Tomatoes. I’m definitely watching. Hulu has also added their June episode of their horror series Into the Dark, Good Boy. The always wonderful Judy Greer(Arrested Development) stars as a reporter who, in a difficult time, gets a darling support dog, Reuben, who then proceeds to kill every threat to her happiness, unbeknownst to her. Possible victims include her boss (Steve Guttenberg), her landlord(Maria Conchita Alonso) and McKinley Freeman, Ellen Wong and Elise Neal also star, while Tyler McIntyre directs. But, even with it’s great cast, it’s ideas don’t really gel well. Brian Tallerico of RogerEbert.com writes, “[it] can’t figure out how to train its shaggy dog idea into something you should take out for a cinematic walk.” And it gets a 6.8/10 on IMDb. Too scary for me, and it is gory, so be forewarned. But Hulu also offers Cosmos, a 2019 British indie sci fi adventure. Directed by Elliot and Zander Weaver, this movie follows three amateur astronomers, played by Tom England, Joshua Ford, Arjun Singh Panam, out for their usual leisure night of listening to interstellar noise, to check for anything notable. When they send a response to a certain signal, and actually think they get an answer, they’re off on a pursuit that takes them in a very unexpected direction. Ben Vardy, Simon Worthington and Marc Baylis also appear., and Elliott and Zander Weaver also wrote the script. In fact, there were only three crew members on this film, with almost no budget. But you wouldn’t know it from the film, obviously heavily influenced by Spielberg and Lucas. It gets a 5.7/10 on IMDb, and TheBeardedTrio calls it “a must see.” I’m watching. And, finally, Hulu offers Da Sweet Blood of Jesus, the 2015 Spike Lee comedy thriller. Here, Stephen Tyrone Williams stars as Dr Hess Green, a wealthy anthropologist(?), and Lafayette Hightower(Elvis Nolasco)as his friend and colleague who gets stabbed with Green’s ancient dagger of the Ashanti empire, awakens intact, but with a definite thirst for blood. Zaraah Abrahams, Rami Malek(!), Felicia Pearson and Naté Bova also star, and this film is actually a remake of the 1973 movie Ganja and Hess. It’s a really interesting movie, with wonderful performers, so while it only gets a 47% on Rotten Tomatoes, it(like other Spike Lee movies) is defintiely worth watching. James Rocchi of TheWrap said, “unrepentant, uneven and unique, Da Sweet Blood of Jesus proves that Lee can still make a film worthy of the arguments it will most certainly start.” It’s on my list.
And speaking of Spike Lee, he supplies Netflix‘ biggest add this week with Da 5 Bloods, Here, four Vietnam vets, played masterfully by Isiah Whitlock Jr., Norm Lewis, Clarke Peters and Delroy Lindo, who go back after decades, for their fifth blood, and fallen friend, Norman, played by Chadwick Boseman. But they might surreptitiously look for the suitcase full of gold bars they buried, all those years ago. Johnny Tri Nguyen plays their guide Vinh, and Le Y Lan, Jean Reno, Mélanie Thierry and Jonathan Majors also star and cinematographer Newton Thomas Sigel makes this an unforgettable visual experience. But Delroy Lindo has the best performance, in a sea of exemplary ones, as the anguished Paul, a veteran who now wears a MAGA hat. And there are definite tones of Treasure of the Sierra Madre, with the manic hunt for gold. Odie Henderson of RogerEbert.com says, “Lee has crafted an exciting, violent film that can be enjoyed as strictly that, but what elevates it to greatness is what it says and what it shows about the perception of Blackness, whether in heroic situations or human ones,” and It gets a stunning 92% on Rotten Tomatoes. It could do better with portraying it’s women characters more fully, but on the whole, it’s a winner. I’m watching. Netflix has also added The Woods, a 2020 mystery series. It’s adapted from a Harlan Coben novel of the same name, but this time, it’s in Poland, where, in 1994, at a summer camp, four teens disappear into the woods, two to be found dead, the other two forever(it seems) missing. Pawel Kopinski(Grzegorz Damiecki), now a prosecutor, was there, and his sister is one of those two still missing, and in 2019, he is asked questions about the remains found under a bridge, that may belong to someone else from the camp. Agnieszka Grochowska, Wiktoria Filus, Hubert Milkowski and Jacek Koman also star, and there are 6 episodes available now on Netflix. There are no ratings on IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes yet, but ReadySteadyCut calls it “an inducing, absorbing mystery.” I’m definitely tuning in. Another notable new add on Netflix is Lenox Hill, the medical documentary series. This acclaimed series follows four doctors, an OBGYN, two brain surgeons and an ER doctor, who are on staff at New York’s storied Lenox Hill Hospital. It’s a pressure cooker of a place, but instead of the hysterics and melodrama of TV medical series, this shows the humanity and perseverance it takes to work in a real hospital, with real humans lives in the balance. There are 8 episodes now available and it gets an amazing 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. Verne Gay of Newsday writes, “while a deeply moving tribute to those we have lately come to call “heroes,” this proves they’ve been heroes all along. (It was filmed before the pandemic.) A can’t-miss beauty.” It’s on my list. Netflix has another exciting offer in Whispers, a Saudi Arabian thriller. This is Netflix’ first Saudi Arabian series, but it’s also, surprisingly, female led, and begins with the death of the family patriarch, Hassan(Abdulmohsen Alnemr) in an auto accident, and then the details of his strange past emerge, in different versions of the situation from different family members. Elham Ali, Mysoon Alruwaily, Norah Al Anbar, Leila Arabi and Shaimaa Al Fadl star and the director is Hana Alomair. There are 8 episodes available now and it gets a 5.7/10 on IMDb. News Break says its “Rashomon style story-telling of Saudi Arabian thriller will make you want more.” And I love a mystery. And, finally, Netflix has The Witch: Part 1 The Subversion , a 2018 South Korean thriller. This focuses on Ja-yoon(Kim Da-mi), a mysterious girl with no memory of her past, adopted by a couple after they found her near death in a forest. But strange people begin to appear out of the woodwork, after she appears in a contest on TV, and seek her out. Ko Min-shi, Cho Min-soon, Park Hee-soon,Choi Woo-Shik(Okja!) and Kim Byung-ok also star, with Park Hoon-jung directing and writing. And it gets an 87% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Elizabeth Kerr of the Hollywood Reporter saying, “[its] An often mesmerizing, occasionally kooky but thoroughly entertaining thriller.” It’s on my list.
Amazon has one of this week’s huge adds, with Knives Out, the 2019 hit comedy/mystery. Christopher Plummer stars here as Harlan Thorneby, famous mystery writer, who is found dead by his maid, and presumed a suicide. But when Lieutenant Elliot(Lakeith Stanfield!) investigates, he finds an estate full of suspects, mostly there for a family reunion, and suspicious goings-on. Daniel Craig, Jamie Lee Curtis, Ana de Armas, Michael Shannon, Toni Collette and Frank Oz also star, while Rian Johnson(the Brothers Bloom) directed. And since Johnson is an Agatha Christie devotee(like most of us), you can be sure it’s a good(and humorous) movie. and it gets an incredible 97% on Rotten Tomatoes, and Brian Lowry of CNN wrote, “[its] a whole lot of fun, intended to keep the audience off-balance right up until the finish. It’s a razor-sharp throwback from writer-director Rian Johnson.” I’m tuning in. Amazon has also added Gulabo Sitabo, the charming new Indian comedy. This all takes place in Lucknow, India, where the tenants of Fatima Mahal, a crumbling mansion, are waging with a constant battle with their landlord, Mirza(Amitabh Bachchan). Ayushmann Khurrana plays his main irritation, Baankey, a young tenant living with his extended family in a few rooms. Vijay Raaz, Brijendra Kala, Srishti Shrivastava also star and Shoojit Sircar(Piku) directs. It’s beautifully shot as well. And it gets a 6.7/10 on IMDb. And, finally, you can watch all of Season 1 of Liar, starring Joanne Froggatt(DowntonAbbey). From Sundance TV, Froggatt plays Laura Nielson, a teacher in the middle of a break-up, who goes out on a date with a eminent surgeon,Andrew Earlham(Ioan Gruffudd). and finally goes on to accuse him of rape. Zoë Tapper, Warren Brown, Shelley Conn and Eileen Davies also star. And there are 6 episodes available to watch, but watch out, you only have through June 30. And it gets a 7.1/10 on IMDb.
So sit back and binge this weekend, with classics, new and old, on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Enjoy!