Yes, its the weekend, again, and time to review the best new movies and television shows, added online, to Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Prime. So lets get started!
Okay, there hasn’t been much added on Hulu at all this week, but they do offer the 2020 British/American mystery The Postcard Killings. Jeffrey Dean Morgan stars in this adaptation of a 2010 James Patterson novel, as NYC Detective Jacob Kanon, who travels to London to investigate after his daughter and son-in-law are murdered. He finds that the same type of murders are occurring across Europe, each preceded by a postcard to a journalist. Famke Janssen, Cush Jumbo, Joachim Król, Steven Mackintosh and Denis O’Hare also star, and Danis Tanovic directed. But this is a stinker of a movie, and graphically violent, too. Noel Murray of the LA Times writes, “The Postcard Killings – awkwardly pitched between serious art and pulp trash – doesn’t do nearly enough.” And it gets only a 24%(!) on Rotten Tomatoes. Better to watch Alive And Kicking, a 2016 documentary. Here, director Susan Glatzer takes us on a tour of swing dancing, the people who enjoy it and even a bit of it’s history. WE learn about it’s roots in black America, during the height of the Great Depression, and hear some of the best music, like Count Basie and Duke Ellington. We also get to see some excellent dancing from competitions around the world, and hear about ti’s therapeutic effects from people like an Iraq vet and two former psychotherapists. And it’s a lot of fun, too. This movie gets an amazing 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. Serena Donodoni of the Village Voice wrote, “Alive and Kicking perfectly captures the joyous enthusiasm of Susan Glatzer‘s debut documentary, which presents swing dance as a vibrant, living art form.” I’m definitely tuning in. Hulu has also added Europa Report, a 2013 scifi drama. Here, Embet Davidtz, Michael Nyqvist, and Sharito Copley star as members of an international space team heading for Europa, the most interesting of Jupiter’s moons, to confirm the presence of water. The long trip out is mundane, and long, but when they arrive and go beneath Europa’s ice, things get dangerous, and what they find could be life-threatening. Anamaria Marinca, Dan Fogel, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Karolina Wydra and Daniel Wu also star, and Sebastián Cordero directed. Walter V. Addiego of the San Francisco Chronicle said, “low key and earnest, Sebastin Cordero’s Europa Report makes compelling use of familiar genre material to create an intelligent science fiction thriller.” And it gets an 81% on Rotten Tomatoes. This is hard core science fiction– io9 calls it a “space opera that gets it right.” I’m definitely watching. And, finally, Hulu has added Monsters Ball, the 2001 award-winning film. Halle Berry stars here, in her Oscar-winning role, as Leticia Musgrove, the wife of a soon to be executed inmate, Lawrence(Sean Combs), who is taunted by racist prison guards before his looming death, including Hank Grotowski(Billy Bob Thornton). The pair, after many trials and tragedies for both, fall in love, in a racially charged community in Georgia. Heath Ledger, Peter Boyle(!), Coronji Calhoun, Mos Def and Charles Cowan Jr. also star, and Mark Forster(Loungers, Finding Neverland) directed. This film won multiple awards, including at the American Screenwriters Association, and the Berlin International Film Festival(Berry won a Silver Bear Award!). But be forewarned, it’s a hard movie to watch, with graphic violence and sex. Ben Falk of BBC.com called it “intimate, gruelling, and in some strange way, uplifting.” And it gets an 85% on Rotten Tomatoes, and a 7.1/10 on IMDb. It’s on my list.
The biggest add on Netflix this week has to be the 2020 superhero thriller Project Power. Jamie Foxx stars here as Art Reilly/The Major, a former military officer in near-future New Orleans, who searches for the source of the newest pill on the street, Power, which gives anyone who takes it five minutes of superpowers. And Dominique Fishback(The Deuce!) stars as Robin, a teenage rapper who sells the drug to help her Mom afford an operation, with Joseph-Gordon Levitt starring as a cop, Frank Shaver, who thinks The Major is the villain behind the drug. Rodrigo Santoro, Machine Gun Kelly, Amy Landecker, Courtney B. Vance(!) and Allen Maldonado also star, and Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman direct. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone writes, “a street drug that can kill you or give you super powers for five minutes sparks this sci-fi head trip, along with acting MVP Jamie Foxx. Whatever the movie lacks in plausibility, it makes up for in showing us a familiar world spinning off its axis.” And it gets a 6.1/10 on IMDb, and a 62% on Rotten Tomatoes. But I’ve had enough of super heroes, I’d rather watch The Great Heist, a 2020 Colombian limited crime drama series. Andrés Parra stars as Chayo, a jeweller and successful robber as well, who is living beyond his means, and so plans one last job, the great 1994 heist of the Bank of the Republic in Valledupar, Colombia. Marcela Benjumea, Christian Tappán, Paula Castaño and Waldo Urrego also star, and there are 6 episodes available for streaming now. And it gets an incredible 7.4/10 on IMDb, with the Guardian saying “– it’s all pulled off with such style that it’s impossible to resist.” I’m definitely tuning in. Netflix also offers An Easy Girl, a 2019 French drama. Zahia Dehar stars Sofia, the girl spoken of in the title, who visits her decidedly more down-to-earth cousin,16-year-old Naïma, played to a tee by Mina Farid, in Cannes. Sofia tempts Naïma with her worldly ways, free sexuality, and lavish lifestyle(seemingly unpaid for) ,and they take off with two rich yacht owners, played by Nuno Lopes and Benoît Magimel. But it’s not entirely successful. Loubna Abidar, Clotilde Courau, “Riley” Lakdhar Dridi and Lise Lomi also star, and Rebecca Zlotowski(Planetarium). And this is not a morality tale, but a close examination of sexuality, gender roles, and lifestyle choices. Jean Catsoulis of the New York Times writes, “sultry, but never sleazy, observant yet nonjudgmental, An Easy Girl is more than just a tale of innocence and experience.” And it gets a stunning 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. It’s on my list. Also new on Netflix is Teenage Bounty Hunters, a 2020 teen adventure series. This follows teen twin sister Sterling and Blair(Maddie Phillips and Anjelica Bette Fellini) who break out of their high school rut in suburban Atlanta to become bounty hunters, under the reluctant tutelage of veteran bounty hunter Bowser Simmons (Kadeem Hardison!).Debbie Wesley, Method Man, Spencer House and Devon Hales also star, and this is from executive producer Jenji Kohan(Orange is the New Black, Weeds). There are 10 episodes now available, and beware, this show has rightfully a TV-MA rating, there is ample sex and violence. And it’s rather uneven, jumping from comedy to violence in the blink of an eye. But it gets a 7.1/10 on IMDb, so if this is what you’re in the mood for and an adult, go for it. And, finally, Netflix has added Nigerian Prince, a 2018 crime drama. Antonio J. Bell(Blood Money) stars as Eze, a young man unhappy about his banishment to Nigeria by his family, to stay with his Aunt (and law professor)Grace(Tina Mba), for some tough love and discipline. And so, he’s easy prey for the money making scams of his cousin Pius(Chinaza Uche) a phisher, as Eze just wants to make enough to return home to the U.S.. But when Pius gets caught by the police, things get dangerous. Bimbo Manuel, Ebbe Bassey, Omar Maskoti and Dean Cameron also star, with Faraday Okoro directing. Owen Gelberman of Variety wrote, “[Okoro] creates a drama with a vivid and personalized sense of locale (the streets are alive), and he shows us how the characters emerge from it…” And it gets an amazing 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. I’m watching.
Amazon’s biggest add this week is probably Capone, the 2020 crime pic. Tom Hardy stars in yet another movie, sigh, about Al Capone, infamous mob boss in Chicago during the 20‘s and 30’s. This one finds Capone at age 47, beset by dementia, and so reliving his adult life in hallucinatory vividness. Kyle MacLachlan, Linda Cardellini, Matt Damon, Noel Fisher and Kathrine Narducci also star, with Josh Trank directing. But it only gets a 41% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Christy LeMire of NPR Los Angeles writing, “A baffling misfire. This is just terrible, but exquisitely so and must be seen.” Luckily, Amazon has also added Stonehearst Asylum, a 2014 horror movie. Here, Jim Sturgess(Across the Universe) stars as an Oxford grad who goes to a sanitarium in Victorian England, to learn from Dr. Silas Lamb(Ben Kingsley) who treats without drugs or cruelty, supposedly. But things are, of course, not what they seem. Kate Beckinsale stars as Eliza Graves, a patient at Stonehearst, and Michael Caine(!),David Thewlis, Brendan Gleeson, Sinéad Cusack and Sophie Kennedy Clark also star, while Brad Anderson(The Call) directed. And this is a true gothic tale, based on a 1845 Poe short story, so while there is much atmosphere and mystery, the mentally ill are not always depicted realistically. Kate Muir of the Times (UK) wrote, “Stonehearst Asylum is a richly bonkers piece of Victoriana.” And it only gets a 54% on Rotten Tomatoes, but a 6.8/10 on IMDb. You decide. It’s too scary for me. And, finally, Amazon has Les Misérables, the 2019 TV series from PBS Masterpiece, available for viewing until August 31. This is the non-musical(repeat non-musical) treatment of Victor Hugo’s masterpiece, starring David Oyelowo(!) as Inspector Javert, and Dominic West playing the unfortunate Jean Valjean, pursued for the mere theft of a loaf of bread. Olivia Coleman(!), Adeel Akhtar, Lily Collins, David Bradley and Ellie Bamber also star and there are 6 episodes now available. You can easily watch all six in two weeks, and this fabulous show gets an 87% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 7.8/10 on IMDb. Paula Vázquez Prieto of La Nación (Argentina) said, “The goal of the British Andrew Davies in adapting the Victor Hugo classic consists in affirming his visionary realism as a portrait of a cruel and unequal world, not too different from the contemporary one. ” I’m tuning in.
So sit back and binge, this weekend, on classics, new and old, on Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu. Enjoy!