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 only has a few new adds this week, and only one good one, with The Other Lamb, a horror movie from 2019. Raffey Cassidy stars as Selah, a teenage girl living in a very cloistered religious cult, run by the Shepherd(Michiel Huisman), whom all the women of the colony must serve. As Selah is isolated by the group for her period, deemed unclean, she comes to question her undying loyalty to the Shepherd, and how happy her life in the remote commune really is. Denise Gough, Kelly Campbell, Eve Connolly and Isabelle Connolly also star, and Małgorzata Szumowska(Body) directed. This won the Jury Award at A Night of Horror International Film Festival 2020, and was nominated for several other awards. Danny Leigh of the Financial Times wrote, “take the film as a pared-back cousin to The Handmaid’s Tale. But if some elements seem familiar, Szumowska has aces of her own to play.” And it gets a 75% on Rotten Tomatoes. I’m watching. Hulu’s other add is the less exciting Bad Therapy, a 2020 comedy. Alicia Silverstone and Rob Corddry star as a married couple who decide to go to a therapist and make a very bad choice in Judy Small (Michaela Watkins). In individual sessions with each partner, she seeks to sow seeds of doubt and suspicion in the couples minds, and things go haywire. Sarah Shahi, David Paymer, Aisha Tyler, Anna Pniowsky and Haley Joel Osment also star, with William Teitler directing. But with it’s great cast, this is a letdown of a movie, totally predictable and flat. It only gets an 8%(!) on Rotten Tomatoes, and a 4.2/10 on IMDb. Glenn Kenny of the New York Times calls it “the cinematic equivalent of lukewarm water.” Don’t bother. I’d rather watch City So Real, a five part documentary series, new on Hulu. This covers the 2019 mayoral election in Chicago, with the city being confronted with turmoil over the killing of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, shot 17 times by a Chicago police officer, and the racial unrest it caused. Incumbent Rahm Emanuel was faced with the dilemma of running for reelection when he supported his law and order platform more than racial equality, and up-and-comers populated the landscape, including the promising candidate who would become mayor, Lori Lightfoot. It’s a thrilling and relevant look at last years election from the director, producer, editor, and cinematographer of Hoop Dreams(!) and America To Me, Steve James. And it gets a 7.3/10 on IMDb. The New York Times calls it “fascinating,” and “an election story pulsing with life.” I’m definitely tuning in. But if you need horror(and I know you do), Hulu has The Host, Bong Joon-ho‘s(Parasite) masterpiece from 2006. Here, years after massive amounts of formaldehyde are dumped into the Han river, reports of a creature of a mysterious creature arise, and it finally attacks people on the riverside. When Park Gang-du’s (Song Kang-ho) daughter, Hyun-seo (Go Ah-sung) is abducted and trapped in the sewer with the creature, his family moves into action. Byun Hee-bong, Bae Doona, Park Hae-il, Oh Dal-su and Lee Jae-eung also star, and this movie made numerous top ten lists in 2007. It also won multiple awards, including Best Film at 2006 Blue Dragon Film Awards, the Korean Film Awards and the Asian Film Awards. And it gets an amazing 93% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 7.1/10 on IMDb. Liam Lacey of the Globe and Mail called it “as ebullient and bizarre as a monster that can do back flips, leaving the viewer in a shock of delight.” And if you’re up for a Bong Joon-ho double-header, Hulu also has Parasite(2019). Watch if you dare.
The biggest add on Netflix this week is Everything’s Fine, Sarah Cooper‘s new comedy special. Cooper, if you haven’t been on the internet this year, is the TikTok sensation famous for lip-syncing Trump’s (ridiculous) audio quotes, and here plays a morning news show host slowly losing mind, maintaining a smile with all the bad news she has to report. Fred Armisen stars as her producer, and there are stars aplenty here, including Jon Hamm playing the MyPillow guy, selling his Covid cure. Ben Stiller, Megan Thee Stallion, Winona Ryder, Jane Lynch(!), Helen Mirren(!), Aubrey Plaza and Connie Chung also appear, with Natasha Lyonne(Orange is the New Black) directing. And though it only gets a 5.9/10 on IMDb, NPR writes, “Cooper and Lyonne have succeeded in making a curiously dark bit of fiction that hangs a lot of smaller comedy ideas from a larger, sturdier tonal experiment. It’s really good.” I’m watching. Netflix also has horror this week, with His House, a 2020 British film. Wunmi Mosaku(Lovecraft Country) and Sobe Dìrísù(Gangs of Londo) play Rial and Bol, respectively, a refugee couple from South Sudan, who survive horrors to get to England and finally find placement in a house, only to find a threatening evil there. Matt Smith(Doctor Who!) plays Mark, their less than sympathetic case worker, and Cornell John, Emily Taaffe, Bradley Banton and Malaika Wakoli-Abigaba also star, and Remi Weekes directs. This movie premiered at Sundance in February of this year, and gets an amazing 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. Amy Nicholson of NPR Los Angeles calls it “an absolute knockout. When we’re looking to the horror genre to tell us stories with such emotional resonance… This film does it just fantastically.” I’m tuning in. Netflix also offers Secrets of the Saqqara Tomb, a 2020 documentary. This is an amazing treatment of the 2019 discovery of the tomb of Wahtye, an unheard-of, but high-ranking priest of the 5th dynasty to Neferirkare, who rated a divine tomb in Saqqara, the site of the oldest pyramid in Egypt, the Great Step Pyramid. The fact that this find was made by an all-Egyptian team, led by Dr. Mohammed Yousef and Dr. Hamada Mansour and the great Dr. Amira Shaheen, who specializes in animals mummies, is also featured. And it was all beautifully directed by James Tovell(Cradle to Grave), with the wonderful camera work by Tanya Marar. And it gets an incredible 7.4/10 on IMDb. The Guardian calls it “fascinating stuff, smoothly put together, and carrying genuine human interest.” Don’t miss it. I won’t. Netflix also offers To The Lake, a 2020 Russian post-apocalyptic horror series. Sergey (Kirill Käro) and his girlfriend Anya(Maryana Spivak), and her teenage son Misha(Eldar Kalimulin) escape Moscow and head north(to the lake) when a zombie-like plague hits Moscow. But their lives are constantly at risk as they travel to an isolated hunting lodge on a deserted island. Aleksandr Robak, Natal’ya Zemtsova, Viktoriya Agalakova, Yuriy Kuznetsov and Aleksandr Yatsenko also star, and it’s directed by Pavel Kostomarov. there are 8 episodes to binge on now. And it gets a 7.3/10 on IMDb, and an 84% on Rotten Tomatoes. John Doyle of the Globe and Mail calls it “superbly paced; thrilling, frightening and singularly enthralling. One of the finds of the year.” But it[s too scary for me. And, if you need more horror, Netflix has Splice, the 2009 horror movie. Here, Adrian Brody and Sarah Polley play genetic engineers Clive Nicoli and Elsa Kast, who are determined to create a human-animal hybrid, disobeying the orders of their superiors at NERD(Nucleic Exchange Research and Development). When they create Dren(Delphine Chanéac), a female creature that turns out to be amphibious and carnivorous, and even has a stinger, they make the mistake of not ending her life. Simona Maicanescu, David Hewlett, Abigail Chu and Brandon McGibbon also star, and Vincenzo Natali directed. Horror master Guillermo del Toro served as executive producer, here, and it premiered at the Sitges Film Festival, where it won Best Special Effects. A.O. Scott called it ” witty, aware of its own craziness, and disarmingly insightful about the psychology of its characters,” and it gets a 75% on Rotten Tomatoes. Watch if you dare.
Amazon‘s big add this week, just in time for Halloween, is Truth Seekers, the 2020 British horror comedy series. Reuniting Nick Frost and Simon Pegg(!), creators of Shaun of the Dead(!), here they created the story of Gus(Frost) , a broadband installer by day, and a paranormal investigator by night. He is teamed with partner Elton John(Samson Kayo), Astrid (Emma D’Arcy), and Simon Pegg even appears as Gus’ boss Dave. Malcolm McDowell(!), Susie Wokoma, Julian Barratt and Rosalie Craig also star, and there are tons of cameos by people like Kelly Macdonald, Kate Nash and Kevin Eldon. And it is so much fun. And it gets a 75% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Anne Brodie of What She Said writing its “light, fun and easy to digest with a whopping side of nutty.” I’m watching. Amazon has also add A Most Beautiful Thing, a 2020 documentary. This followed the Manley High rowing team, from the West Side of Chicago of the late 90′s, Arshay Cooper, Alvin Ross, Malcolm Hawkins, Preston Grandberry and Ray Hawkins Jr.- all of whom dealt with difficulties like broken homes, poverty and drug addiction that abounded in their neighborhood at that time, with Chicago gangs always pushing them to join, too. Spurred on and funded by Ken Alpart, a former rower at Penn, they returned to the water twenty years later, to compete again, at the Chicago Sprint. Narrated by Common and directed by Mary Mazzio, it’s an inspiring and wonderful movie about how one action can change your life and one contribution can do so, as well. It gets an amazing 100% on Rotten Tomatoes and Charles Solomon of NPR Los Angeles writes its” a very compelling film and a very timely one.” We should all watch. I am. And, finally, for your horror needs, Amazon abounds in them. There’s Midsommar, (2019), Hereditary(2018) and The Lighthouse(2019). And if you want something a bit less horrifying(like me) there’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers,(1979). So live it up.
So sit back and binge this weekend, on classics, old and new, on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Enjoy!