That’s right, 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 are some good new adds this week, so let’s get started!
The biggest add on Hulu this week has to be Happiest Season, the 2020 rom com starring Kristin Stewart. But this isn’t your everyday holiday romcom, but one where Stewart plays Abby, who agrees reluctantly to go home with her girlfriend Harper, played by Mackenzie Davis, who tells her on the way there that she hasn’t yet told her conservative parents, wonderfully played by Mary Steenburgen and Victor Garber, she’s gay. Oh and her family is conservative, with problems of their own. Alison Brie, Mary Holland, Aubrey Plaza, Dan Levy(!), Sarayu Blue, Ana Gasteyer and Burl Moseley are also featured players, and Clea DuVall directs. But this movie isn’t unusual just because its populated by gay people instead of straight, but how wrong a holiday trip can go, and with such good performers, too. Justin Chang of the L.A. Times says “the average holiday-themed romantic comedy is such a synthetic box of delights… “Happiest Season,” a new comedy directed by Clea DuVall, is a clever, affecting, endearingly imperfect example.” And it gets an 89% on Rotten Tomatoes. I’m watching. Hulu has also added Bombshell, the 2019 drama. This is the retelling of the rampant sexual harassment that went on at Fox News, under Roger Ailes(John LIthgow), with Megan Kelly(Charlize Theron), Gretchen Carlson(Nicole Kidman) and Kayla Pospisil(Margot Robbie) playing some the newscasters harassed. Kate McKinnon, Malcolm McDowell(!), Allison Janney(!), Mark Duplass and Connie Britton also star and Jay Roach(Trumbo) directed. This film won multiple awards last year, like Best International Supporting Actress for Margot Robbie at the AACTA Awards and the St. Louis Film Critics Association, and many more nominations. It gets a 68% on Rotten Tomatoes, and Kevin Maher of the (UK) Times called it “[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.” It’s on my list. Also new on Hulu is Centigrade, a 2020 American thriller. Here, Genesis Rodriguez and Vincent Piazza star as Naomi and Matt, married couple who get stranded in their car, which is covered deep in the snow after sleeping in their car during an ice storm. But their phones get no signal, the windows won’t open and they’re covered in snow and ice, and as supplies run low, hypothermia threatens and oh, Naomi is very pregnant. And they argue once, in awhile, and the baby threatens to come, but all in all, it’s rather boring. Mavis Simpson-Ernst also stars, and Brendan Walsh directs. It only gets a 41% on Rotten Tomatoes, and Frank Scheck of the Hollywood Reporter writes, “neither tense nor thematically resonant enough to overcome its literally small-scale aspects, Centigrade proves as much an ordeal for its viewers as its characters.” Don’t bother. But, finally, Hulu also has Black Narcissus, the FX 2020 mini-series. Based on the 1939 novel of the same name by Rumer Godden, this takes place high in the Himalayas, as Sister Clodagh(Gemma Atterton) travels to an outpost there to set up a school and hospital, along with four other nuns. But the isolation and strict rules, especially celibacy, imposed upon the nuns take their toll on their sanity, especially that of Sister Ruth, played by Aisling Franciosi. Alessandro Nivola, Rosie Cavaliero, Gina McKee, Jim Broadbent and Diana Rigg(!) in one of her final appearances, also star, and there are three episodes in all to splurge on. But for all the wonderful actors and beautiful production values(it is BBC), it still isn’t up to the standards of the classic 1947 production starring Deborah Kerr. And it gets only a 5.6/10 on IMDb. Better to watch the original, which you can stream on HBO Max, during a free trial period, here.
Netflix has one big add this week, with Hillbilly Elegy, a 2020 drama from director Ron Howard. Based on the award-winning 2016 memoir of the same name by J. D. Vance, this follows the life of his family in Middletown, Ohio and decades before, in a small mountain town in Northern Kentucky, where his mother Bev, played by Amy Adams, deals with drug addiction that she can’t quite overcome, so his grandmother Mamaw, played by Glenn Close, cares for him, having overcome abuse in her past as well. Gabriel Basso plays J.D. Vance as an adult, while Owen Asztalos, portrays him as a teenager, and Freida Pinto, Bo Hopkins(!), Sunny Mabrey, and Dylan Gage also star, and Vanessa Taylor wrote the script. But this movie, unfortunately, doesn’t live up to Vance’s original book, and so we get a rathe bland version of working class life in America. Brian Lowry of CNN writes, “these would theoretically be juicy roles for Adams and Close, but even with those stars letting loose, the conversations about broader cultural and economic challenges that the book triggered get obscured by what feels more like a Lifetime movie.” And it gets a shocking 25% on Rotten Tomatoes. Luckily, Netflix also offers Don’t Listen, a 2020 Spanish horror movie. Rodolfo Sancho and Ana Fernández star as parents whose son, played by Lucas Blas, hears sinister voices(and more) after their move to a new house, and are forced to bring in paranormal investigators after things turn violent. Ramón Barea, Belén Fabra, Rosa Álvarez, Nerea Barros and Beatriz Arjona also star, and Ángel Gómez Hernández(Behind) directs. And it gets an 87% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Irene Crespo of Cinemanía (Spain) saying “in his feature debut, Ángel Gómez Hernández, doesn’t shy away from the family drama that balances the cliched terror throughout.” But it’s way too scary for me. Netflix also has The Christmas Chronicles 2, a 2020 holiday movie. This is a sequel to The Christmas Chronicles(big surprise) that starred Kurt Russell as Santa Claus, and this brings us more his Santa, with Goldie Hawn now appearing as Mrs. Claus. Kate(Darby Camp) comes back to Santa’s Village, having trouble at her mom’s boyfriend’s son, Jack(Jahzir Bruno), who finds his way there, too. And they never want to leave, of course. Julian Dennison, Judah Lewis, Kimberly Williams-Paisley and Tyrese Gibson also star, while Chris Columbus(Mrs. Doubtfire!) directs. And, it gets a respectable 70% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Justin Chang of the L.A. Times saying its “[a]n unremarkable if far from unpleasant sequel arriving just in time to brighten your locked-down holiday festivities.” A little too early for me, though. I’d rather watch The Call, a 2020 South Korean sci-fi thriller. Park Shin-hye(#Alive) plays Seo-yeon, a young woman who begins to get phone calls from Young-sook (Jong-seo Jun), who is calling from the same house twenty years in the past, and has sinister motives of her own. And it is all related to Seo-Yeon‘s father, played by Park Ho-san, who was murdered years ago. Kim Sung-ryung, Lee El, Oh Jung-se and Lee Dong-hwi also star, and Chung-Hyun Lee(Bargain) directs. This is an hard-charging, violent roller coaster ride of murder and revenge, not for the faint-of-heart. Which includes me. But it gets a 7.2/10(!) on IMDb, and ReadySteadyCut writes, “With solid performances, excellent production highlighting the cause and effect relationship between parallel past and present timelines, and a willingness to get lurid where necessary, The Call is a solid effort, and all within two hours.” So watch if you dare.
Amazon‘s has two big adds this week, the first being Uncle Frank, it’s in-house 2020 drama. Sophia Lillis plays Beth Bledsoe, an teenager in 70‘s South Carolina, who visits her favorite Uncle Frank, in New York, an unconventional literature professor. But when they go home for her grandfather’s funeral, Daddy Mac(Stephen Root), she learns Uncle Frank‘s terrible burden, that in being gay, and living with his partner Wahid(Peter Macdissi), he has earned the unrelenting contempt and damnation of his conservative family, including his mother and father. Margo Martindale, Britt Rentschler, Lois Smith(!), Steve Zahn and Judy Greer also star, and Alan Ball(American Beauty!) writes and directs here. Peter Bradshaw of the Guardian says “[it]doesn’t have the witty indirectness of American Beauty or Ball’s TV classic Six Feet Under, but it has a strong and very convincing performance from Bettany.” And it gets an 80% on Rotten Tomatoes, and a 7/10 on IMDb. I’m definitely watching. The second big add on Amazon is Steve McQueen‘s second episode of his 2020 Small Axe series, Lovers Rock. This is a slice of life experience, featuring a house party in 1980‘s London’s West Indian community, with teen-aged Martha(Amarah-Jae St. Aubyn) sneaking out to go and meeting Franklyn (Micheal Ward) on the dance floor. Shaniqua Okwok, Ellis George, Kedar Williams-Stirling, Francis Lovehall and Kadeem Ramsey also star, and there’s lots of great music by Sister Sledge, Barry Biggs and even Carl Douglas‘ Kung Fu Fighting. This if a different London and Notting Hill than usually is portrayed, not surprisingly, where racism and poverty exist arm in arm with tradition and history. And it gets an amazing 97% on Rotten Tomatoes, and a 7.4/10(!) on IMDb. Odie Henderson of RogerEbert.com writes “despite its brief 68-minute runtime, Lovers Rock is loaded with tactile, sensuous storytelling.” Don’t miss it. I won’t. And, finally, Amazon offers Most Wanted, the 2020 action drama staring Josh Hartnett. Here, Hartnett stars as an investigative reporter, Victor Malarek, who looks to expose a heroin ring run by dirty cops in 1989, in order to free an innocent man, played by Antoine-Olivier Pilon. Stephen McHattie(!), Amanda Crew, Jim Gaffigan(!) and Don McKellar, while Daniel Roby directed. Hartnett’s performance is less than spectacular, but the rest of the cast is exceptional. It gets a 70% on Rotten Tomatoes, and Guy Lodge of Variety says that it “does its… job with proficient integrity, but as much inventiveness as you’d guess from that all-purpose placeholder of a title.” If you need an action movie. Oh, and don’t miss Amazon’s Black Friday & Cyber Monday Savings that allows you to pay only $1.99(!) to rent First Cow, or $3.99 to rent Antebellum or more!
So sit back and binge this weekend, on classics, old and new, on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Enjoy!