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‘s big new add this week is Monsterland, their 2020 in-house horror series. Based on a short story collection by Nathan Ballingrud, this show considers legends, like mermaids or fallen angels, in different locations of the country, though quite a few center on Louisiana, and one character keeps appearing, a world-weary waitress played by Kaitlyn Dever. Otherwise, each episode could be a stand-alone, with actors like Hamish Linklater, Nicole Beharie, Mike Colter, Bill Camp, Taylor Schilling and Roberta Colindrez starring. And there are eight episodes in all to stream right now. But though there’s plenty of gothic atmosphere here, this isn’t a great series, and it certainly isn’t horrifying. And it gets a 6.3/10 on IMDb. Hulu also newly offers Ma Ma, the 2016 Spanish drama starring Penelope Cruz. Here, Cruz stars as Magda, a mother who is diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer, and forms a intimate relationship with Arturo(Luis Tosar), a man with heartbreak of his own. Her determination to bring light to the life of her son Dani(Teo Planell) and a new pregnancy gives her purpose and conviction at the end of her life. Asier Etxeandia, Alex Brendemühl, Silvia Abascal and Anna Jiménez also star, while Julio Medem(Me, Too) directed. And while this film only gets a 33%(!) on Rotten Tomatoes, it has an illustrious cast, with wonderful performances that make it worthwhile. Peter Bradshaw of the Guardian wrote, “without Cruz, this movie might not have added up to as much. But with her vivid presence, it shimmers and throbs.” And it gets a 6.4/10 on IMDb. I’m watching. Also new on Hulu is Joe, the 2014 Nicholas Cage drama. Here, Cage stars as Joe Ransom, a hard drinking embittered man running a work crew who suddenly befriends a new 15 year-old worker, Gary(Tye Sheridan), who is homeless, and squatting in an abandoned home with family and his abusive father. Joe decides to help, whatever the cost to himself. Gary Poulter, Sue Rock, Ronnie Gene Blevins and Adriene Mishler also star, and David Gordon Green(Stronger) directed. This premiered at the 70th Venice International Film Festival in 2013, and received critical acclaim. It gets an 85% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 6.9/10 on IMDb. Aaron Peterson of the Hollywood Insider said, “[its] is a harrowing look into the lost souls of men and brings one our most accomplished actors back to the stage he belongs in.” It’s on my list. And finally, Hulu has added a lot of bad horror movie this month, in honor of Halloween, but they’ve also added a few exceptionally good ones like The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane, a 1976 mystery thriller. Jodie Foster(!) plays 13 year-old Rynn Hallett, a secretive girl who lives with her father Lester, a poet, in Wells Harbor, Maine. But her father is never seen, and neighbors who come to check on her become increasingly suspicious and inquisitive(and threatening in other ways), seeking to go in her cellar, which isn’t allowed. Martin Sheen, Alexis Smith, Mort Shuman and Scott Jacoby also star, and Nicolas Gessner directed. This won two Saturn Awards, including Best Horror Film. And it gets an amazing 91% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Ruth Batchelor of the Los Angeles Free Press wrote “[Foster] gives a cold-blooded performance with so many dimensions that her face keeps you in suspense at all times.” If you want something creepy this weekend, this may be it.
The buzziest add on Netflix this week has to be Emily in Paris, a new series created by Darren Star(Sex and the City). Lily Collins stars as Emily Cooper, a young marketing expert from Chicago, brought to Paris to bring her American point of view to Savoir, a French luxury marketing company. And she isn’t too well received there, especially by her boss, Sylvie, played by Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu. Ashley Park, Lucas Bravo, Camille Razat and Bruno Gouery also star, and there are 10 episodes to binge on now. But make no mistake, this is just eye candy, with spectacular views, wonderful(and expensive clothes) and very little substance in any episode. Roxana Hadadi of RogerEbert.com says “technically, Emily in Paris is well-made, but the show’s shortcomings — from its simplistic depiction of French culture to its paper-thin protagonist — make it more of an irritation than an indulgence.” But it gets a 76% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 7.4/10 on IMDb. So if you’re inclined for fluff, this is your ticket. I’d rather watch Boys in the Band, the 2020 adaptation of the Broadway 2018 revival. A revival of Matt Crowley’s 1968 off-Broadway play that rocked the entertainment world with it’s frank depiction of gay men being openly human. Jim Parsons plays Michael here, a down-on-his luck. heavy drinking screenwriter, who gives a birthday party for Harold(Zachary Quinto), who gets a unexpected visit from an old straight college friend(Brian Hutchison), in the middle of the party. And given the tension and alcohol there, things explode. Michael Benjamin Washington,Tuc Watkins, Robin de Jesus, Andrew Rannells and Matt Bomer also star, with Joe Mantello(The Normal Heart) directing. And its produced by Ryan Murphy. It gets an 81% on Rotten Tomatoes, and Peter Travers of ABC says “with a dynamite cast led by a never-better Jim Parsons, what could have been a dated retelling of a 1968 play about gay men in crisis emerges instead as a funny, fierce and scarily relevant wakeup call to a resurgent threat to marginalized minorities.” I’m watching. Another exciting new add on Netflix is Vampire vs the Bronx, a 2020 horror/comedy. Jaden Michael plays a kid in the Bronx, trying to set up a charity block party with his two friends Luis(Gregory Diaz IV) and Bobby(Gerald W. Jones III), when they notice a lot of missing persons flyers posted around the neighborhood, and weird goings on. And while it’s clear gentrification is coming to the neighborhood, the kids realize there are more sinister forces involved- white vampires-trying to help change the neighborhood for good. Judy Marte, Cliff “Method Man” Smith, Heather Alicia Simms, Coco Jones and Sarah Gadon also star, with Osmany Rodriguez directing. And this show gets an 83% on Rotten Tomatoes, and Nick Allen of RogerEbert.com writes, “when a horror-comedy is as agile, charming, and funny as this, everybody wins.” I’m definitely tuning in. Netflix also has the acclaimed Dick Johnson is Dead, a 2020 documentary. Here filmmaker Kirsten Johnson deals with her father, Dick Johnson’s, coming demise, by having him depicts his death in eight different imaginative ways, like falling down the stairs, getting hit by a car, or even getting hit on the head by a falling air conditioner. Her father, a a psychologist goes along with all of it in good humor, and a smile, perhaps understanding the need on both their parts to control his death(or hers) in some small way. and there’s a good deal of humor here, as well as heart to heart talks about her mother’s lingering death by dementia, and the Alzheimer‘s he now faces himself. And this movie struggles with the crisis of memory loss, and perhaps seeks to make new, more permanent ones, through this film. And it gets a stunning 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Justin Chang of the Los Angeles Times writing “this is a funny film about death, which is to say it’s a wrenching film about life.” It’s on my list. And, finally, Netflix offers Good Morning, Verônica, a 2020 Brazilian crime thriller series. Tainá Müller plays Verônica Torres, a police secretary in Sao Paolo, who starts investigating alleged cases of date rape, and assault, then suddenly becomes aware of disappearances of several women in the city. And the conspiracy that covers the whole thing up makes the situation increasingly perilous for her. Eduardo Moscovis, Elisa Volpatto, Camila Morgado, Antônio Grassi and César Mello also star, and there are now 8 episodes available to view. And the series gets an incredible 8.0/10 on IMDb. This is a grim, tense series about a very important and often sensationalized subject, the abuse of women, that gives it the serious and sensitive attention it deserves. We all should watch.
Amazon big add this week is The Glorias, the 2020 biopic about Gloria Steinem. Director Julie Taymor(Across the Universe) has four women play Steinem here, Julianne Moore and Alicia Vikander as the adult versions, with Ryan Kira Armstrong and Lulu Wilson playing the juvenile roles. And she takes us on a tour of Steinem‘s life, using her autobiography My Life on the Road as source material, and shows us the challenges of poverty and discrimination that made her the powerful voice for women she is today. Bette Midler(!) as Bella Abzug, Janelle Monáe as Dorothy Pitman Hughes, and Lorraine Toussaint as Florynce Kennedy add to the stellar cast, as well as Timothy Hutton, Enid Graham, Kimberly Guerrero. It premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on January 26 of this year, and it’s wonderfully shot by Rodrigo Prieto. And it gets a 68% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Christy Lemire of RogerEbert.com calling it ” a visual treat….Just when you think she’s heading into cliched territory, Taymor mixes it up, plays with structure, and subverts your expectations.” I’m watching…twice. Amazon also offers the 1st season of Mystery Road, from Acorn tv. This stars Judy Davis(!) as cop Emma James, who teams up with Detective Jay Swan(Aaron Pederson) when two local boys go missing in the Outback. Deborah Mailman, Wayne Blair, Aaron McGrath, Tasma Walton and Madeleine Madden also star, and this first season is directed by Rachel Perkins. And it gets an impressive 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Graeme Blundell of The Australian writing “[Judy Davis] is one of those actors who never wastes a moment and understands the nature of screen focus, and in Mystery Road she is never at rest, constantly uncoiling with an attractive sparky energy.” I’m tuning in, I love Judy Davis. But watch it all before October 31, then it disappears back onto Acorn tv, for a fee of 5.99. And, finally, Amazon has Season 1 of Thou Shalt Not Kill, an Italian mystery thriller on PBS Masterpiece. Miriam Leone stars as Valeria Ferro, a detective in Turin, with a troubled background(her mom’s in jail), but also a sixth sense into what a criminal is thinking, or what they’ll do next. Monica Guerritore, Matteo Martari, Thomas Trabacchi, Luca Terracciano and Viola Sartoretto also star, and there are 12 episodes to watch, but only until October 31. You know the drill. Lorenzo Mieli is an executive producer of this series, the man behind The Young Pope, My Brilliant Friend. And it gets a 7/10 on IMDb. I love a mystery.
So sit back and relax this weekend, with classics, old and new, on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Enjoy!