Yes, it’s the weekend, again, and time to review the best new movies and television shows added online this week, to Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. And there’s some good new stuff out there, so let’s get started!
Hulu doesn’t have a lot of big adds this week, but they have some good stuff, nevertheless, like Daffodils, a 2019 musical drama from New Zealand. A singer Maisie(Kimbra), whose dying father, George, has just told her the story of his marriage to her mother, Rose, and re-imagines her parents love story in song. Rose McIver(iZombie) plays Rose, and George Mason (Top of the Lake) plays George, as they sing their way through the 60’s and 70’s, and their tumultuous romance. Mark Mitchinson,Jodie Hillock,Tandi Wright, Katie Wolfe and Byron Coll also star, with David Stubbs directing. This is based on the award-winning New Zealand stage play inspired by a true story, and it contains some iconic New Zealand hit songs of artists such as Crowded House and Dave Dobbyn. And it gets a 60% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 5.7/10 on IMDb. If you want something light. But, with the arrest of Steve Bannon Thursday, you might want to watch The Brink, the 2019 documentary. Director Alison Klayman(Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry) shows Steve Bannon’s efforts not just to put Donald Trump into the White House, saying Trump would not have won without him, but his working to empower every far-right populist group in Europe, like Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil and Viktor Orban of Hungary, as well. And it follows him on his trips to Europe to offer support(not free, of course) in the wake of the 2018 U.S. election, disastrous for his cause. David Lamble of the Bay Area Reporter called it “[a] scary but insidiously entertaining portrait of former Trump campaign architect Steve Bannon.” And it gets an 84% on Rotten Tomatoes. And, if you crave horror, Hulu has just added Behind You, a 2020 film. Here, two sisters, Olivia(Addy Miller) and Claire(Elizabeth Birkner),scarred by their mother’s death, are sent to stay with their estranged Aunt Beth (Jan Bronberg), who isn’t thrilled with their arrival. They find a dark house with all the mirrors covered, and when they find an uncovered on in the basement(which they are forbidden to enter), bad things start to happen. Aimee-Lynn Chadwick, Philip Brodie and Caroline Labrum also star, and Andrew Mecham and Matthew Whedon(Joss‘s younger brother) direct. But this gets an astoundingly low 7%(!) on Rotten Tomatoes, so it’s probably only for those with the most desperate need for a scare. Which isn’t me. And, finally, Hulu has Ladhood, a 2019 British comedy series. Comedian Liam Williams(Back to Life) walks us through his formative years, mainly in school in Leeds, introduces us to his mates, and the girls he crushed on. And shows us what caused all his behavioral and relationship problems. Lily Frazer, Aqib Khan, Andrew Alexander, Oscar Kennedy and Shaun Thomas also star, and there are 6 episodes available now for viewing. and, it gets a 7.2/10(!) on IMDb, with Rebecca Nicholson of The Guardian writing “for the most part, this is intelligent, incisive humour that makes acute observations then takes them to the next level.” It’s on my list.
Netflix has some hidden gems this week as well, like Biohackers, a 2020 German sci-fi series. Mia Akerlund, a medical student, joins the University of Freiburg where she is interested in studying under the Professor Tanja Lorenz(Jessica Schwarz), famous for her work in biotechnology. She meet friends Jasper(Adrian Julius Tillmann) and Niklas(Thomas Prenn), both biology students, with amazing experimental ideas. But what no one there knows is she’s also investigating her brother’s death. Zeynep Bozbay, Caro Cult, Eleonore Daniel, Sebastian Jakob Doppelbauer and Jing Xiang also star, and there are 6 episodes now available. And it gets a 6.4/10 on IMDb. And I love a mystery. I’m definitely watching. Netflix has also added Dark Forces, a 2020 Mexican horror movie. Here, a criminal on the run, Franco(Tenoch Huerta) goes in search of his missing sister, Rubi(Eréndira Ibarra), and ends up at a seriously creepy hotel, where vampires may reside. Dale Carley, Ariane Pellicer, Johana Blendl and Dai Liparoti also star, and Bernardo Arellano directed. You might be reminded of Sin City, or Susperia , you’re not alone, many reviewers were, too. And it’s graphic, so don’t let the kiddies watch. And it gets a 4.6/10 on IMDb. Netflix also has [Un]Well, their in-house documentary series on the million dollar wellness industry. This show takes a quite clearly critical look at six different areas of wellness- ayahuasca, tantric sex, fasting and bee sting therapy, notably among them. The one on bee sting therapy is the most compelling and concerning, as bee stings can be fatal to 5 -7.5% of Americans, at least, with a serious reaction always possible. But the lack of testing or data on most of these treatments is what is most worrisome to medical experts, here, though some are a little too patronizing and intolerant for me. But it is always interesting. There are 6 episodes available, and the show gets a 6.3/10 on IMDb. Also new on Netflix is Semesta, a 2018 Indonesian documentary. This film focuses on seven cultures and faiths in Indonsesia that fight climate change and protect natural resources. They travel to seven different locations- Aceh, West Kalimantan, Yogyakarta, Bali, East Nusa Tenggara, Papua and Jakarta– to see how people are helping the planet through traditional(or not so traditional)practices and beliefs. It was nominated in the Best Documentary category at the 2019 Indonesian Film and is directed by Chairun Nissa. And it gets a stunning 8/10 on IMDb. I’m tuning in. And, finally, Netflix has added Good Kisser, a 2019 romantic comedy/drama. Here, two girlfriends Kate((Rachel Paulson) and Jenna(Kari Alison Hodge), decide to take a third partner, Mia(Julia Eringer), for an exciting fling. But, of course, things are not as they seem, and it stresses the weaknesses in their relationship. Courtney McCullough and Carter Rodriguez, and Wendy Jo Carlton(Hannah Free) directs. Nina Li Coomes of the Chicago Reader wrote “at times giggly, at times cringey, this film initially seems like a rom-com but quickly turns into the anxious, tightly wound reflection on sexuality and self it clearly was meant to be.” And it gets an amazing 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. It’s an involving movie.
Seemingly, Amazon‘s only add this week is Chemical Hearts, the 2020 teen romance. Austin Abrams stars as a hopelessly romantic teen, Henry Page whose life lacks any excitement (or romance), who suddenly meets Grace Town(Lili Reinhart), an unhappy and unromantic girl, still traumatized by an auto accident nine months ago. Adhir Kalyan, Sarah Jones, Coral Peña and Kara Young also star, and Richard Tanne(Southside With You) directs. It’s based on a young adult novel of the same name by Krystal Sutherland. But it’s basically a YA movie, with plenty of romance and angst. It gets a 56% on Rotten Tomatoes, and Adam Graham of the Detroit News writes “the film’s strength is the way it respectfully handles that transitional period and the strange chemical makeup of the teenage experience.” You decide.Amazon also recently added The Cup, a 2012 horse racing drama. This is the true story of Damien Oliver(Stephen Curry), a jockey set to ride in race, only to have his brother, another jockey, die in a racing accident, days before the Cup. Brendan Gleeson, Daniel MacPherson, Jodi Gordon, Martin Sacks and Shaun Micallef also star, with Simon Wincer directing. But, for it’s great cast, it’s still a humdrum movie. It gets a laughably low 28% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Barbara VanDenburgh of the Arizona Republic writing, “even the most ardent lover of feel-good biopics would have a hard time backing this horse.” But Amazon does allow you to watch A Confession, a new 2019 mystery series on BritBox. It stars Martin Freeman as Detective Inspector Steve Fulcher, who investigates the disappearance of the two young women Sian O’Callaghan and Becky Godden, and decides to break with police protocol, to catch the killer, but sacrifices his career by doing so. Imelda Staunton, Siobhan Finneran, Joe Absolom, Charlie Cooper and Jessica D’Arcy also star, and there are 6 episodes to stream in all. You can easily watch it all in your free seven-day trial with BritBox on Amazon. But be forewarned, it’s a dark, tragic series. Lucy Mangan of The Guardian writes “a profoundly sad drama about suffering, strength and justice.” And it gets a 93% on Rotten Tomatoes and has been nominated for BAFTA Awards in 2020. I’m watching.
So sit back and binge this weekend, on classics, old and new, on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Enjoy!