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 are some great new holiday adds this week, so lets get started!
Hulu‘s biggest add this week would probably be The Hardy Boys, their 2020 in-house reboot of the classic mystery series. And they definitely shake up the series, making the boys, Frank and Joe Hardy, younger and their mother, Laura (Janet Porter) the victim of murder, in the first episode. Rohan Campbell and Alexander Elliot play the title roles, and James Tupper plays their father, Detective Fenton Hardy, and their mother’s death necessitates a move to Bridgeport to live with their Aunt Trudy (Bea Santos), supposedly in a quieter suburban setting. But, of course, mystery and violence follows them and they investigate, along with some cohorts they pick up along the way. Linda Thorson, Keana Lyn, Jennifer Hsiung, Adam Swain and Riley O’Donnell are also included in a much more diverse cast than the original stories(and TV series) and there are 13 episodes now available for streaming. And the fact of the new diversity , and females being included in the show makes it a winner for me. But it is a more adult show, so be sure to check the trailer out before viewing with the kids. And it gets a 6.7/10 on IMDb. I’m watching. I love a mystery. Hulu has also added She Dies Tomorrow, a cult thriller hit from earlier this summer. Here, Kate Lyn Sheil plays Amy, a young woman who becomes suddenly filled with existential dread and certainty that she will die the next day. And the dread appears to be catching, because, next, her friend Jane(Jane Adams) becomes convinced she, too, will die, and passes it on to her brother(Chris Messina) and sister-in-law(Katie Aselton).Tunde Adebimpe, Jennifer Kim, Kentucker Audley, Josh Lucas and Madison Calderon also star, and Amy Seimetz directs. And though the idea strikes some(including me) as ridiculous, others last summer were taken with this film especially during the time of Covid. Simran Hans of the Observer (UK) wrote “[its] alternately hilarious and spine-tingling, it recalls David Lynch’s Twin Peaks in its serious, penetrating sense of doom.” And it gets an 85% on Rotten Tomatoes. You decide. I’d rather watch Sunshine, the 2007 sci-fi classic newly added to Hulu. This takes place in the year 2057, when the sun is dying and a team of astronauts voyage on Icarus II to ty to reignite it. The team includes Cillian Murphy, Chris Evans, Rose Byrne and Michelle Yeoh, and midway in their journey, they receive a distress call from Icarus I, which mysteriously disappeared 7 years earlier. Cliff Curtis, Troy Garity, Hiroyuki Sanada, Benedict Wong, and Chipo Chung also star , and the legendary Danny Boyle(Trainspotting, Slumdog Millionaire) directed. This was inspired by sci-fi classics like 2001 and Solaris, and won the award for Best Technical Achievement at the 2007 BAFTA’s, after getting nominated for numerous other awards. It gets a 7.2/10 on IMDb, Olly Richards of Empire called it “a knuckle-gnawingly tense, glorious action thriller,” and Roger Ebert called it “2057: A Sun Odyssey,” and that’s why I’m watching. And it’s notoriously hard to find for streaming, so don’t miss it. And, finally, Hulu has added Mr. Jones, a 2020 British historical thriller. James Norton(Grantchester) plays the title character, Gareth Jones, a real reporter in the 1930‘s, who went to Russia to reveal the truth about the famine in the Ukraine, that Stalin intentionally made worse, causing millions to die. Peter Sarsgaard, Vanessa Kirby, Joseph Mawle, Krzysztof Pieczynski and Marcin Czarnik also star, with Agnieszka Holland(Burning Bush!) directing. Tomris Laffly of RogerEbert.com calls it “a compelling watch throughout in spite of its rambling feel.” And it gets an 84% on Rotten Tomatoes. I love a historical drama. I’m tuning in.
The biggest add(and one of the biggest adds of the season) this week on Netflix has to be Mank, the 2020 biopic. Gary Oldman plays the title character Herman J. Mankiewicz, screenwriter extraordinaire of the 1930‘s( the writer behind The Wizard of Oz and The Man Who Came to Dinner) and his writing of the classic movie Citizen Kane, in 1940. Amanda Seyfried plays Marion Davies, William Randolph Hearst’s mistress, and actress slated to star in the film, while Charles Dance plays Hearst himself. Lily Collins plays Mank’s secretary Rita Alexander, Tom Burke plays Orson Welles, and Tuppence Middleton, Arliss Howard, Tom Pelphrey and Ferdinand Kingsley also star, with David Fincher(Fight Club, House of Cards) directing. And it’s all masterfully filmed in beautiful black and white by cinematographer Erik Messerschmidt. This is sure to be nominated for numerous awards in the next few months, and it gets an 88% on Rotten Tomatoes, and a 7.7/10(!) on IMDb. Richard Brody of the New Yorker calls it “an astutely probing and pain-filled work of speculative historical psychology-and a vision of Hollywood politics that shines a fervent plus ça change spotlight on current events.” And positively essential for film nuts like me. I’m watching. Another big add on Netflix this week is Selena: The Series, a 2020 biographical series. This is, of course, about Tejano singing phenom Selena, and her life from eight years of age, where she’s played by Madison Taylor Baez, and her father, Ricardo Chavira, encourages her singing talent. And it follows her though her adult life, with Christian Serratos(The Walking Dead) playing her, as she becomes a singing sensation. Jesse Posey, Seidy López, Noemí González, Julio Macias and Abraham Quintanilla also star, and there are nine episodes to binge on now. But this is pretty corny fare, with Selena appearing not at all extraordinary as a person , but superficial and childish at times. It gets only a 43% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Cristina Escobar of RogerEbert.com writing “in the end, Selena: The Series pulls enough poignancy from Selena‘s legend … and the creators counteract the looming tragedy with silly, earnest, and heartfelt storytelling that gets you from one cumbia to the next.” And it gets a 7.2/10 on IMDb, and, frankly, the music pulls it through, so if you’re a fan, by all means, watch. I’d rather see Just Another Christmas, a Brazilian 2020 comedy. Here, Jorge, played wonderfully by Leandro Hassum, hates Christmas, since his birthday is on Christmas, and he is constantly upstaged by the bigger man, who is cursed by his father-in-law Grandpa Nhanhão(Levi Ferreira) to only exist on Christmas, thereby skipping from Christmas 2010 to 2011, and so on. So when Christmas 2020 he finds himself unhappily separated from his wife Laura(Elisa Pinheiro) and distant from his children too. Lola Fanucchi, Danielle Winits, José Rubens Chachá, Giselle Lopes, Miguel Rômulo and Arianne Botelho also star, and Roberto Santucci directs. This is a super-fun holiday movie, and if you want something that’s not sickly sweet or trite, like me, this is the one for you. Polygon calls it “one of the best and most imaginative Christmas movies out there.” And it gets a 6.7/10 on IMDb. I’m tuning in. Another super-cool show on Netflix is Alien Worlds, a new science series. This British show examines what alien life might look like on exoplanets, if it exists(which seems very likely to me) using the laws of physics and nature that exist on this planet, our only form of reference. It looks at different kinds of environments that might exist on those planets, with dense gravity, high oxygen or other things we would find problematic, and looks at birds, insects, amphibians, and other animals here to figure out how life might adapt to those situations. There are four episodes now available, with Sophie Okonedo(!) narrating. And it gets a 6.9/10 on IMDb. Pure Wow says its the “beautiful (and terrifying) new show you need to watch.” I definitely agree, it’s on my list. And, finally Netflix has The Guest, a 2018 Korean horror series. Kim Dong-wook plays Yoon Hwa-pyung, a psychic born into a shaman family, who hunts a demon called Sohn or Guest, who causes “weak” people to kill themselves. He is joined by Choi Yoon(Kim Jae-wook), a priest, and Kang Kil-young (Jung Eun-chae), the daughter of a detective who doesn’t believe in ghosts. Lee Won-jong, Park Ho-san, Ahn Nae-sang, Kim Hye-eun and Lee Joong-ok also star, and there are ten episodes available to view now. But be forewarned, this is terrifying, violent stuff, way too scary for me. But I know you need horror, even during the holiday season. And it gets an impressive 8.4/10 on IMDb. So dig in.
Amazon has a couple of huge adds this week, including Sound of Metal, the new Riz Ahmed drama. Ahmed plays Ruben, a hard rock drummer touring with his girlfriend(and singer for the duo), Lou, played wonderfully by Olivia Cooke. When Ruben quite suddenly suffers intermittent deafness and is told it won’t return, it’s crushing and isolating, and Lou insists the former addict check into a rehab for the deaf, forestalling a relapse. Joe(Paul Raci) leads the deaf retreat, and Lauren Ridloff, Mathieu Amalric and Chris Perfetti also star, while Darius Marder(The Place Beyond the Pines) directs. This will (and should be) an award nominee, with it’s shockingly isolating depiction of what suddenly becoming deaf can be. The cast is wonderful, and the movie gets an amazing 97% on Rotten Tomatoes. Randy Myers of the San Diego Reader says “Ahmed simply must get an Oscar nomination. It’s a beautiful tale about recovery and moving forward,” and Kristy Puchko of Crooked Marquee writes “[its] a film that is a surprisingly hard watch, but also essential viewing…how often does a movie make your whole body feel invested, suffocated, and finally – cathartically – floating?” Watch before awards season to see what everyone’s talking about. I am. Another big add on Amazon this week is Red, White and Blue, the 3rd movie in Steve McQueen‘s Small Axe anthology. Here, John Boyega plays Leroy Logan, a real life Londoner who was motivated to join the Metropolitan police force after seeing cops beat and humiliate his father, Ken Logan(Steve Toussaint) over a parking violation. He went on to work for reform and establish the Black Police Association. Nadine Marshall, Antonia Thomas, Joy Richardson, Stephen Boxer and Assad Zaman also star, and Steve McQueen, of course, directs. This movie premiered as an opening film at the 58th New York Film Festival, and gets a stunning 97% on Rotten Tomatoes. Odie Henderson of RogerEbert.com says “Boyega‘s excellent portrayal is painfully human at all times, forcing you to wonder if his desperate urge to foster change is a futile endeavor.” This, too, will likely be an award nominee in the coming weeks, and its well worth a view, especially for it’s standout performances. I’m definitely tuning in. And, finally, Amazon has again added access to certain TV shows, like The Berlin Dance School, a 2016 German drama mini-series. This takes place in Berlin in 1956, where Caterina Schöllack(Claudia Michelsen) runs a dance studio, but her conservative convictions are threatened by her daughter, Monika (Sonja Gerhardt), who balks at the conventional life offered a girl in the 50′s. She loves rock and roll. Maria Ehrich, Emilia Schüle ,August Wittgenstein, Heino Ferch and Sabin Tambrea also star, and there are four episodes to view now. This mini-series won numerous awards in Germany in 2017, including at the German Television Awards and the Bavarian TV Awards. And it gets a 7.5/10(!) on IMDb. And you can surely fit all four episodes before Dec. 31, when the offer expires, and Season 2 is available on PBS Masterpiece. It’s on my list.
So sit back and binge this weekend, on classics, old and new, on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Enjoy!