Yes, its 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 stuff out there, so let’s get started!
Hulu‘s biggest add might be The Binge, their original 2020 comedy. This is a teen movie, of course, and a parody of The Purge, which takes place in a near future America, where drugs and alcohol are all illegal, except for one night a year, where all use is allowed for 12 hours. Skylar Gisondo and Dexter Darden star as two up-tight teens who decide to go wild for The Binge, and Vince Vaughn plays their, of course, disapproving principal. Eduardo Franco, Grace Van Dien, Esteban Benito, Eileen Galindo and Brittany Garms also star, and Jeremy Garelick(The Wedding Ringer) directs. But this really is high school stuff, nothing very sophisticated or even funny. It gets only a 33(!) on Rotten Tomatoes, and a 4.9/10 on IMDb. Maya Phillips of the New York Times writes “[its] only exceptional in its mind-numbing inanity.” I’m not watching. I’d rather watch The Roads Not Taken, the 2020 British American drama. Javier Bardem(!) stars here as Leo, a man whose life lapses between the life he leads in New York City, and the life he could have led, had he made different choices, while he suffers from early-onset dementia, that absorbs his being. Elle Fanning stars as Molly, his adult daughter, who tries to get him to the dentist, and understand what is happening to him. Salma Hayek stars as Dolores, his true love and the wife he might have had, and Laura Linney plays Rita, his real life wife and mother of Molly. Branka Katić, Milena Tscharntke, Gerard Cordero and Katia Mullova-Brind also star, while Sally Potter(The Party) wrote and directed here. But this movie wasn’t quite the success they hoped, getting only a 40% on Rotten Tomatoes. Glenn Kenny of the New York Times said, its “a movie one is apt to recommend with a caveat of “if you’re up for it.” But I’m still watching, for the stellar cast. Hulu also has the great documentary Superpower Dogs, a 2019 production. This introduces us to six amazing dogs, like Henry, a Canadian avalanche rescue specialist and Tony, who helps protect endangered species in Africa. And of course, Ricochet, a surf boarding emotional support dog who helps vets and kids with special needs. And there’s a lot of cute footage here, even showing some of the service dogs as puppies. It’s all directed by Daniel Ferguson(Wired to Win, Jerusalem), and narrated by Chris (Captain America) Evans. And it gets a stunning 100% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 7.2/10 on IMDb. Christy Lemire of NPR LA wrote, “it is adorable and great for the whole family. I recommend it highly.” And just the lift we need right now. I’m definitely tuning in.And, finally, Hulu has added the 2020 comedy series Everything is Going to Be Okay. Starring Josh Thomas, of the wonderful Please Like Me, as Nicholas, a slightly neurotic gay Australian who agrees to look after his two teenage half-sisters, after the death of his father. Kayla Cromer plays his autistic sister Matilda and Maeve Press plays his other sister Genevieve.Adam Faison, Lillian Carrier,Timothy Brundidge, Lori Mae Hernandez and James M. Connor also star, and Josh Thomas created the entire series, which is a very positive sign. Matthew Rozsa of Salon.com writes “if the series can maintain this momentum, it could become the next big thing in American pop culture, and deservedly so.” It’s a must see for me.
Netflix has some exciting adds this week, like All Together Now, a 2020 drama. Auliʻi Cravalho stars as Amber Appleton, a seemingly perfect and perky student who has a secret, she and her mother Becky, played by Justina Machado(One Day at a Time), are homeless, in Portland, and she desperately tries to keep that secret from everyone around her, as she seeks a career in music. Carol Burnett, Judy Reyes, Fred Armisen, Anthony Jacques and C.S. Lee also star, and Brett Haley directed(The New Year) . This is based on Matthew Quick’s novel of same name, and it’s not your usually sappy YA fare. Katie Walsh of the L.A. Times said, “[it]crescendos so subtly and so beautifully it’s overwhelming, infused with the love and power of collective care. Basking in the sheer goodness of a group coming together to lift up the most vulnerable among them is a balm to the soul.” And it gets a respectable 80% on Rotten Tomatoes. With such a wonderful cast, I’ll be watching. But Netflix also tempts me with Night Comes On, a 2018 drama. Dominique Fishback, who wowed everyone in Project Power earlier this month, stars as Angel LaMere, who is released from juvenile hall on the eve of her 18th birthday, and once aspired to become a teacher. But now she seeks to avenge her mother’s death ten years ago., at the hands of her father. Tatum Marilyn Hall, John Earl Jelks, Max Casella, James McDaniel and Erin Darke are also featured players here, and Jordana Spiro(To the Stars) directed. This won multiple awards in 2018, including the Acting Prize at Chéries-Chéris for both Fishback and Hall, and the NEXT Innovator Award for Spiro at Sundance. And it gets an incredible 98% on Rotten Tomatoes. Kenneth Turan of the L.A. Times wrote, “Like its determined heroine, Night Comes On burns with a smoldering fire, a heat that is no less intense, no less effective, for remaining largely beneath the surface.” I’m tuning in. Also new on Netflix is Unknown Origins, a 2020 farcical thriller from Spain. Javier Rey plays David Valentin, a straight laced detective who is forced to enlist the help of a comic book afficionado Jorge(Brays Efe) and his boss, Norma(Veronica Echegui), a frequent cosplay participant, in solving a series of murders with comic book spins. Antonio Resines,Leonardo Sbaraglia, Álex García and Carlos Areces also star, while David Galán Galindo directs. And it gets a 6.1/10 on IMDb, with The Review Geek says it “has no right to be as enjoyable and engaging as it is.” It’s a lot of fun and it’s on my list. Another interesting new add on Netflix is Rising Phoenix, a 2020 documentary. Directors Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui(directors of McQueen)give us the history of the paralympics and introduce us to some amazing star paralympic athletes, while explaining that the para stands for parallel, not paralyzed. And we meet some amazing athletes, indeed, like a fencer with two partially amputated limbs still being incredibly fleet of foot and daunting, and a racer with one blade and one foot, making amazing times. We also get soundbites of people like Stephen Hawking and Prince Harry. But the most impressive part is the incredible athleticism of the people who are portrayed here, and the difficulties they overcame to appear in the paralympics. CNN says “it will make you laugh and it will make you cry,”and it gets an amazing 8.1/10 on IMDb. I’m watching. And, finally, Netflix has horror, with The Bridge Curse, a 2020 Taiwanese production. JC Lin plays one of a group of university students who investigate an urban legend, whether those who cross a certain bridge at midnight find tragedy on the other side. Cheng Ko, Wan-Ru Zhan, Vera Yen, Summer Meng and Ning Chang also star, with Lester Hsi directing. It’s pretty standard stuff, but Wan-Ru Zhan was nominated for Best Supporting Actress at the Taipei Film Festival for her work here. And the film gets a 5.7/10 on IMDb. Because I know you need horror.
Amazon‘s biggest add this week has to be Get Duked, a British black comedy, with hip-hop. Originally titled Boyz in the Wood, this is an incredible adventure, where four Glaswegan teenagers, played by Viraj Juneja, Samuel Bottomley, Lewis Gribben and Rian Gordon, travel to the Scottish highlands for camping trip competition, only to find themselves hunted by a mad Duke, played by Eddie Izzard. Kate Dickie, Jonathan Aris, James Cosmo and Alice Lowe also star, with Ninian Doff directing his first major feature here. And it gets an 86% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Simon Abrams of RogerEbert.com writing, “[it] is most charming as a teen hangout comedy, but it’s not so memorable as a superficially topical anti-Brexit riff on The Most Dangerous Game.” It’s just fun. And that’s it for Amazon’s notable adds this week, but you can stream Bombshell, the 2019 drama, on Epix(on Amazon), with a 7 day free trial. This stars Nicole Kidman, Charlize Theron and Margot Robbie as Gretchen Carlson, Megan Kelly and Kayla Pospisil, three female journalists at Fox News who were sexually harassed by Roger Ailes(John LIthgow), based on some of the many allegations made against Ailes. Kate McKinnon, Connie Britton, Malcolm McDowell and Allison Janney also star, and Jay Roach(Trumbo) directed. This film got three Academy Award nominations, and Kevin Maher of the Times(UK) said,”[A] timely satirical takedown that finds black humour and absurdist comedy in the subject of workplace sexual harassment while never losing sight of its devastating repercussions.” And it gets a 69% on Rotten Tomatoes. It’s on my list. And finally, Amazon offers Petey Wheatstraw: The Devil’s Son-In-Law, a 1977 comedy/horror starring Rudy Ray Moore(Dolemite). Here, Moore stars as Petey Wheatstraw, a killer comedian who knows kung-fu, who eventually gets down, only to find it’s a mistake, per Lou Cipher, the devil himself.All he has to do to come back to life is marry the Devil’s daughter. Jimmy Lynch, Leroy Daniels, Ebony Wright, G. Tito Shaw and Wildman Steve also star, while Cliff Roquemore(The Human Tornado) directed. It is a crazy, mixed up, sexist, but funny movie, and it’s a piece of film history. And it gets a 6.3/10 on IMDb. It’s a fun watch.
So sit back and binge this weekend, on classics, old and new, on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Enjoy!