Yes, it’s the weekend, a Holiday weekend, no less, and time to review the best new adds on Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Prime. And there’s some good stuff out there, so let’s get right to it!
Hulu has a couple of great adds this week, the first being To the Stars, a 2019 drama. Kara Hayward plays Iris here, a bespectacled and bookish girl, who befriends the new girl in school, Maggie, played by Liana Liberato, definitely an extrovert, in a small town in 1960’s Oklahoma. But their friendship is endangered by the schoolmates, and town gossip, and happiness is anything but certain. Jordana Spiro, Malin Akerman, Shea Whigham and Tony Hale also star and the film is directed by Martha Stephens(Land Ho!). This movie premiered at Sundance in January 2019. Tomris Laffley of RogerEbert.com wrote, “there is … an undeniable earnestness to this modest period effort that prioritizes misunderstood women and female friendships.”And it gets an 81% on Rotten Tomatoes. I’m watching. Hulu’s other exceptional add is The whistlers, a 2019 Romanian comedy/thriller. It stars Vlad Ivanov as Cristi Anghelache, a corrupt Romanian police captain who goes to La Gomera, one of the Canary Islands, where people have used a whistle-based language called Silbo Gomero, and which local gangsters adopt. But he’s on nefarious business of his own, not solving a crime. Catrinel Marlon, Rodica Lazar, Agustí Villaronga, Sabin Tambrea and Antonio Bull also star and Corneliu Porumboiu(Infinite Football) directs. It was nominated for the Palme d’ Or in 2019 and won 9 awards at the Romanian Gopo Awards, including Best Director. Ty Burr of the Boston Globe wrote of it “the effort’s worth it, if only for the pleasure of seeing one of the world’s finest filmmakers let his hair down and play his justified paranoia for genre thrills.” And it gets an 83% on Rotten Tomatoes. It’s definitely on my list. Also new on Hulu is Polisse, a 2012 French drama. Said to be based on fact, this focuses on a child protection unit in Paris, with Karin Viard, Marina Fois, Joey Starr and Nicolas Duvauchelle starring as some of the detectives. There is a lot of difficult subject matter here, with sexual abuse of children being rampant but also callous disregard and voyeurism on the part of the police as well. Maïwenn, Emmanuelle Bercot, Frédéric Pierrot and Riccardo Scamaccio also star, and Maïwenn(My King) directed. This film won the coveted Jury Prize at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for 13 César Awards, but it’s a difficult movie to watch. Joe Williams of the St. Louis Dispatch wrote, “[it] draws us uncomfortably close to a taboo subject then rewards us with real nourishment.” And it gets an 87% on Rotten Tomatoes. You decide. And finally, if you need a little levity after all that drama, Hulu has added several Christopher Guest movies, like The Mighty Wind, from 2003. This is Guest’s mockumentary about three folk bands reuniting, with hilarious results. It stars Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara, Fred Willard(!), Michal McKean, Jane Lynch, and many other comedy stars. It gets an 87% on Rotten Tomatoes, and a 7.2/10 on IMDb. There’s also Waiting for Guffman, from 1996. This one’s about a musical production of Red, White and Blaine, in Blaine, Missouri, starring, again, Guest, Levy, Catherine O’Hara, Fred Willard, and Parker Posey. And it gets a 91% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 7.5/10 on IMDb. And, finally, they have Best in Show, from 2000. This is Guest’s send up of the dog show industry, focusing on preparation for the prestigious Mayflower Dog Show, again starring the usual suspects, Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara, Guest, Posey, McKean, and Fred Willard. And it get a 94% on Rotten Tomatoes. So if you need some comedy, and miss the wonderful, late Fred Willard as much as I do, tune in. You won’t regret it.
Netflix, too, has some good stuff this week, like Warrior Nun, its 2020 fantasy drama series. This stars Alba Baptista as Ava Silva, an orphan who awakens in a morgue and finds she has special powers that qualify her to become a warrior nun, and begin her destiny of fighting demons. Toya Turner, Kristina Tonteri-Young, Lorena Andrea, Thekla Reuten and Joaquim de Almeida also star and there are 10 episodes now available to stream. This is based on the Manga series Warrior Nun Areala by Ben Dunn and was filmed in Spain. Ars Technica says the “fierce and fun Warrior Nun is a perfect Fourth of July binge-watch.” I’m definitely tuning in. Netflix has also added The Baby-Sitters Club, a 2020 reboot of the 90’s classic. Based on Ann M.Martin’s book series, this stars Sophie Grace as club president Kristy Thomas, Momona Tamada as veep Claudia Kishi, and Shay Rudolph, Xochitl Gomez and Malia Baker as the other members of the babysitting club in Connecticut. Alicia Silverstone, Mark Feuerstein, Takayo Fischer and Marc Evan Jackson also star. There are ten episodes now available, in what I’m sure is only the first of multiple seasons for this show. And though it’s a little too youth-oriented for me, the series gets an astounding 100% on Rotten Tomatoes and an 8/10 on IMDb. So maybe watch with the kids. Also new on Netflix is Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga, the 2020 musical comedy. Originally set for theater release but rerouted to Netflix because of Covid-19, this stars Will Farell and Rachel McAdams as Lars Erickssong and Sigrit Ericksdóttir, best friends who decide to compete in Söngvakeppnin, the Icelandic prelims for the famed Eurovision Song Contest. Dan Stevens(Downton Abbey), Pierce Brosnan, Melissanthi Mahut, Demi Lovato(!) and Mikael Persbrandt also star and David Dobkin(Shanghai Knights, Wedding Crashers) directs. But it’s a little uneven, and overstays it’s welcome. Charlotte O’Sullivan of the Evening Standard writes, “As a plausible work of art, it deserves nul points, but it’s still film of the week, no contest.” And it gets a 65% on Rotten Tomatoes. But luckily Netflix also has A Touch of Green, a 2015 Taiwanese period drama. This takes place from 1945–49, during the Chinese Revolution and the Taiwanese White Terror, and focuses on three women, played by Cheryl Yang, Tien-hsin and Cindy Yu-han Lien, as they grow from schoolgirls to wives of Republic of China Air Force pilots. Weber Yang, Gaby Chun-tian Lan, Wu Kang-ren and Wen Chen-ling also star and there are 31(!) episodes to binge on now. This series won numerous awards at the 51st Golden Bell Awards in 2016 and at the 21st Asian Television Awards, in the same year. And it gets an amazing 8.7/10 on IMDb. I’m watching, I love historical drama. And, finally, Netflix has added Swimming Pool, the 2003 erotic thriller starring Charlotte Rampling. Rampling plays crime novelist Sarah Morton who travels to the vacation home of her publisher(Charles Dance) in southern France, only to have her respite upended by the visit of a young woman who says she’s his daughter, Julie, played by Ludivine Sagnier. But Julie’s wild lifestyle leads to wild parties, havoc and tragedy. Jean-Marie Lamour, Marc Fayolle, Mireille Mossé and Lauren Farrow are also featured players and François Ozon directed. Swimming Pool was nominated for many awards, including the Palme d’Or, and Rampling won for Best Actress at the European Film Awards. And the movie gets an 83% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Bill Muller of the Arizona Republic writing, “the story occasionally wanders, but Swimming Pool is definitely worth a dip.”: But it is very explicit, so it may not be for everyone. It’s up to you.
Okay, so Amazon has no good new movie adds this week, they are again offering a free first season of some amazing series, like Hidden, a 2018 Welsh crime drama. Sian Reese-Williams stars, here, as Detective Inspector Cadi John, who is called in on a series of missing persons in her hometown in Wales. Sion Alun Davies, Nia Roberts, Lois Meleri-Jones, Rhodri Meilir and Gillian Elisa also star and there are 8 episodes to feast on now. And this is all brought to us by the creators of Hinterland, so be prepared for another noir treat. This show was an award winner at the BAFTAs and gets a 7.2/10 on IMDb. And you can catch season 2 on Acorn tv. And there’s also the 1st season of Public Enemy, a 2016 Belgian/French crime drama. Loosely based on a real case, this stars Stephanie Blanchoud as Chloe Muller, a lone police officer named to guard convicted serial child killer Guy Béranger(Angelo Bison) after he has served 20 years in prison. He takes refuge at a remote monastery, but when a young girl goes missing, all eyes turn toward him. Philippe Jeusette, Laura Sepul, Vincent Londez and Eric Godon also star, and there are 10 episodes to watch by July 31. And it gets a 7.5/10 on IMDb. And you can catch season 2 on Sundance Now. And finally, you can watch Frankie Drake Mysteries, the 2018 CBC mystery series. This show features the adventures of Frankie Drake(Lauren Lee Smith) and her partner Trudy Clarke(Chantel Riley), as they carry on investigations for Drake Private Detectives, the only female detective agency in 1920’s Toronto. Wendy Crewson(!), Rebecca Liddiard, Sharron Matthew, Karen Robinson and Emmanuel Kabongo also star, and there are 11 episodes to feast on until the end of the month. And the show gets a 6.7/10 on IMDb. And you have to subscribe to PBS Masterpiece to view season 2. A lot of fun, with female heroes to save the day. My kind of show.
So sit back and binge this holiday weekend, with classics new and old, on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Enjoy!