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 this week might be I feel Pretty, Amy Schumer’s 2018 comedy. Here, Schumer plays Renee, a woman with very low self esteem, who always wishes to be an obviously pretty woman, who hits her head while exercising, only to awaken and find herself a stunner. And with her new self confidence, her life changes drastically, with a new job, and a new boyfriend, but it brings problems too, like a big ego. Aidy Bryant, Rory Scovel, Michelle Williams, Lauren Hutton and Naomi Campbell also star, while Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein wrote and directed the film. It’s kind of predictable, and uneven, but I loved the premise of this movie, one to which many of us, both male and female, can relate. It only gets a 35% on Rotten Tomatoes, but a 5.5/10 on IMDB. Danny Leigh of the Financial Times wrote “Schumer is Schumer – a likeable comedian in need of a better movie, or at least one that doesn’t leave you dizzy with contradictions.” But it’s good enough for a laugh or two. But Hulu also has The Festival, a 2018 British comedy. Joe Thomas plays Nick, a young man whose girlfriend unceremoniously dumps him, and sends him into a tailspin, when his best friend, Shane(Hammed Animashaun), convinces him to go to a three day music festival. Where, of course, things go horribly wrong, at least, at first. Claudia O’Doherty, Emma Rigby, Hannah Tointon, Hugh Coles and Jemaine Clement also star, and Iain Morris(The Inbetweeners) directed. Mike McCahill of the Guardian wrote it’s “pursuit remains broadly likable, and Morris again backs it up with real comedy nous.” And it gets an 80% on Rotten Tomatoes. I’m watching. Also new on Hulu is Hooking Up, the 2020 American comedy. Brittany Snow stars here, as a sex columnist who’s addicted to sex, and loses her job because of it, and, advised to map her escapades as therapy, goes on a road trip with Bailey (Sam Richardson), who just learned his testicular cancer has returned. And decides to relives those sexual events with him, for a story. Jordana Brewster, Anna Akana, Amy Pietz and Vivica A. Fox also star, while Nico Raineau directs. But while it is outrageous, and sexually daring, it’s also just bad. It gets only a 30% on Rotten Tomatoes, and Kristen Yoonsoo Kim of the New York Times said, “Raineau flips gender stereotypes, giving Darla more sexually aggressive traits and Bailey more timid ones. But even that feels trite…” I wouldn’t bother. And, finally, Hulu has The Killing of Breonna Taylor, the latest episode of The New York Times Presents. There was no body cam video available for this shooting, so facts have remained murky, but in this special interviewed relatives of her family, boyfriend and other friends, as well as reviewing 1,500 pages of police documents and evidence logs. The facts are very upsetting, not only that the huge array of bullets shot up every room in Taylor‘s apartment, two neighboring units, and shattering a sliding glass door, but also of Breonna Taylor‘s dreams of becoming a nurse, now shattered as well. All because of a mistaken address. It’s heartrending to see, but important to see. I’m definitely watching.
A huge add on Netflix this week is Away, the new sci-fi series starring Hilary Swank. Swank stars as Emma Green, an astronaut assigned to command a three year trip to Mars(!) in the near-future, along with an international team of crew members. But this isn’t so much science fiction as just plain science, with a focus on the toll, both physical and emotional, that such a journey will take. Josh Charles,Talitha Bateman, Ato Essandoh,Vivian Wu and Mark Ivanir also star, and it’s all brought to us by Andrew Hinderaker(Penny Dreadful) and Jessica Goldberg(The Path). And there are now 10 episodes to view, with each one just under an hour long. Inverse calls it “the best, saddest, and most uplifting sci-fi show of 2020.” And it gets a 69% on Rotten Tomatoes. I’m definitely tuning in. Netflix also has the acclaimed I’m Thinking of Ending Things, a psychological thriller from famed director Charlie Kaufman(Being John Malkovich, Adaptation). Jesse Buckley stars as an unnamed university student of quantum physics, who goes on a trip to the family home of her boyfriend Jake (Jesse Plemons), even though she’s thinking of ending the relationship. And that might be a bad idea, because his parents, played by Toni Collette and David Thewlis, are definitely odd, and identities become foggy and liquid, as she looks at a childhood picture of Jake, that seems to look exactly like her. Guy Boyd, Colby Minifie, Jason Ralph, Oliver Platt and Ashlyn Alessi also star, and this film is based on the 2016 novel of the same name by Iain Reid. This is definitely another weird movie, with time (and identities) bending, but if you need more Kaufman after reading his novel Antkind, this is for you. Charlotte O’Sullivan of the London Evening Standard says “Charlie Kaufman’s latest is so good it induces separation anxiety.” And it gets an 82% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 7.5(!)/10 on IMDb. It’s on my list. Another great addition on Netflix is The Lost Okoroshi, an Nigerian serio-comedy from 2019. Seun Ajayi plays Raymond, a night watchman in Lagos, who is haunted in his dreams by the Okoroshi, colorful dancers from traditional Igbo ceremony, now forgotten. which may be the problem in crime-ridden Lagos, so when he awakens transformed into an Okoroshi, he travels throughout the city, giving aid with his superpowers. But comedy and slapstick still abound, with pratfalls and more. Chiwetalu Agu, Judith Audu, Ejetareme Ajotubu Micheal,Tope Tedela and Ifu Ennada are also featured players here, with Abba Makama(Green White Green) directing. And it gets an 86% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Courtney Small of Cinema Axis writing “[it] is an enchanting film that solidifies Makama as a unique cinematic voice.” I’m definitely watching. Also new on Netflix is Ave Maryam, a 2018 romantic drama from Indonesia. Maudy Koesnaedi plays Sister Maryam, a nun in 1980′s Indonesia who spends her days caring for the sick and aging sisters at nursing home whose load is greatly lightened by a new young pastor, Father Yosef (Chicco Jerikho). When their relationship threatens to become more than what is allowed by the church, Maryam is faced with an awful choice. Tutie Kirana, Olga Lydia, Joko Anwar, Nathania Angela and Sendy Febrina also star, and Ertanto Robby Soediskam directed. This film was nominated for awards at several different festivals, including Festival Film Indonesia and ASEAN International Film Festival . And it gets an amazing 7.3/10 on IMDb. Asian Movie Pulse calls it “an impressive film, in both narrative and technical terms and a real treat to watch.” It’s on my list. And, finally, Netflix has Love, Guaranteed, a 2020 comedy. Here, Damon Wayans Jr. seeks the services of attorney Rachael Leigh Cook to sue the dating service, Love, Guaranteed, that sent him on 900+ dates(which he cataloged meticulously) with no love found. Heather Graham runs that service, and Cook tries it herself, with disastrous results, for background research. Caitlin Howden, Brendan Taylor and Sebastian Billingsley-Rodriguez also star, with Mark Steven Johnson directs. I love seeing Damon Wayans Jr. working with a good script again, and both costars are wonderful. It only gets a 50% on Rotten Tomatoes, but Lisa Kennedy of Variety writes, “If likability is a trait you value, Love, Guaranteed delivers the undemanding pleasure of watching two fundamentally decent people tumble into fondness and then love.” I’m tuning in.
Amazon doesn’t have any obvious big adds this week, but there’s some good stuff there, like A Million Happy Nows, the 2017 drama. Lainey (Crystal Chappell) and Eva (Jessica Leccia) star as a romantic couple who think they can finally settle down and enjoy a life together, after Lainey retires from working on a soap opera she has done her whole adult life, but then she starts having symptoms of early-onset Alzheimers. Eva intends for Lainey to enjoy beautiful instants, even when she can’t understand everything, but the work wears on her as time goes by. Hillary B. Smith, Dendrie Taylor, Dan Gauthier, Robert Gant and Susan Seaforth Hayes also star, and Albert Alarr directed. This film won multiple awards in 2017, including Best Feature at the Desperado Film Festival in Phoenix, and the Philadelphia Independent Film Festival. And it gets a 6.4/10 on IMDb. It’s on my list. Amazon also offers Microbe and Gasoline, a 2016 French comedy/drama. Théophile Baquet stars as Gasoline and Ange Dargent as Microbe, two young outcasts at school who become friends and decide to build a car, and take a road trip. Audrey Tautou as Gasoline’s mom, and .Diane Besnier,Vincent Lamoureux, Agathe Peigney and Douglas Brosset also star, while Michel Gondry(Be Kind Rewind) directed. The New York Times wrote, “[it] risks cuteness without going overboard. Too easily taken for granted, its accomplishment is its ability to gaze steadily with warmth but minimal sentimentality at the world through unjaded 14-year-old eyes.” And it gets a 91% on Rotten Tomatoes. I’m tuning in. And finally, Amazon has a couple of good TV series to watch until September 31, like The Jack Benny Show, an excellent show that gets an 8.4 on IMDb, and here, you get Season 1 from 1950(!), not often seen and featuring guests like Eddie Cantor, Humphrey Bogart(!) and, of course, Eddie Anderson, as Rochester. Anderson’s was one of the first appearances by a black man on American TV that was not in black face, and Rochester’s sarcasm toward Benny is always appreciated. Keeping Faith is also offered, a mystery series from Acorn TV starring Eva Myles(Torchwood) as Faith, a woman whose husband suddenly disappears. And it gets a 7.1/10 on IMDb. I’m definitely watching.
So sit back and binge this weekend, on classics, old and new, on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Enjoy!