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 good new adds this week, so let’s get started!
Okay, so there are no big new adds on Hulu this week, but there are some hidden gems there, if you look hard enough , like the 2019 Norwegian movie Out Stealing Horses. Stellan Skarsgård stars here, as Trond, an older man, who moves to remote part of Norway after his wife of 38 years dies in a car accident, to escape, but his finds the past catches up with him even there. He meets an old neighbor, Lars (Bjørn Floberg), which transports him back to the past and Nazi occupation of Norway. Tobias Santelmann, Danica Curcic, Pål Sverre Hagen and Sjur Vatne Brean also star, and Hans Petter Moland directed. It’s a beautiful movie, due to the cinematography of Thomas Hardmeier and Rasmus Videbaek, and of course, Skarsgård’s performance is wonderful. The movie gets a 79% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Glenn Kenny of the New York Times calling it “an ambitious film that examines memory and consciousness through the perspective of an older man who’s determined to escape from memory and to constrict his lived experience.” It’s on my list. Hulu has also added Rent-A-Pal, a 2020 mystery thriller. Brian Landis Folkins stars as David, a sweet, lonely guy looking for a girlfriend in the 90‘s, who tries a video(on VHS) dating service to find companionship. But when he runs out of options, he finds a video called Rent-A-Pal, which features Andy(Wil Wheaton), who offers friendly advice and even plays cards(Go Fish). Which is fine, until David meets Lisa(Amy Rutledge), and Andy seems to take offense, and acts out. Kathleen Brady, Adrian Egolf and Josh Staab also star, while Jon Stevenson directs. And it gets a 67% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Nick Allen of RogerEbert.com saying “Wil Wheaton plays one of the scariest villains of the year in Jon Stevenson‘s brilliant Rent-A-Pal.” But it’s way too scary for me. You decide. Also new on Hulu is the 2020 remake of Valley Girl. Jessica Rothe stars as the title character, Julie Richman, while Josh Whitehouse plays Randy, the punk rocker who falls hopelessly in love with her, in 1980’s L.A.. Alicia Silverstone even shares some reminiscences here. Logan Paul,Judy Greer(!), Chloe Bennet, Jessie Ennis, Ashleigh Murray and Mae Whitman also star, while Rachel Lee Goldenberg(Unpregnant) directs. But this isn’t a movie worthy of it’s predecessor, it’s not edgy or original. Just trite. It gets a 67% on Rotten Tomatoes, and Christy Lemire of NPR Los Angeles writes, “his movie hurts my heart, and not in a good way… This just made me cringe a lot.” Don’t bother with this, you can stream the original on Amazon Prime with a membership, right here. And, finally, Hulu has added the 2020 version of The Secret Garden. Based on the classic 1911 novel, of course, by Frances Hodgson Burnett, this stars as Dixie Egerickx as Mary Lennox, an orphan sent to live with her grief-stricken uncle, Lord Archibald Craven, played by Colin Firth, and her cousin Colin (Edan Hayhurst) in 1947 England. There, she befriends Dickon(Amir Wilson), and a dog, and finds a secret, magical garden, heartily beefed up with CGI. Julie Walters(!), Maeve Dermody, Jemma Powell and Sonia Goswamy also star, and Marc Munden(Self Made) directed. And it gets a 66% on Rotten Tomatoes. The consensus is that it may not be the best film version of this book, but it isn’t bad, either. Clarisse Loughrey of the Independent (UK) wrote, “today’s Secret Garden is modern to its core: socially conscious, but also wildly overstimulated.” It might be nice for the holidays, especially if you have kids.
The biggest add this week on Netflix has to be The Prom, the 2020 musical directed by Ryan Murphy(Glee, Ratched). This is based on the 2018 Broadway musical of the same name, in which the prom in Edgewater, Indiana is cancelled, because a girl, Emma Nolan (Jo Ellen Pellman), wants to take her girlfriend, which isn’t allowed. When Broadway stars Dee Dee Allen(Meryl ‘Streep!) and Barry Glickman(James Corden) rush to Emma‘s aid, since their recent show, Eleanor: The Eleanor Roosevelt Musical, bombed, and they need a good cause to give their careers a bump. Kerry Washington, Tracey Ullman(!), Nicole Kidman, Keegan-Michael Key, Ariana DeBose, Andrew Rannells and Mary Kay Place(!) also star and the original Broadway writing team of Chad Beguelin and Bob Martin(with Matthew Sklaar), who adapted it for the screen here. And the movie gets a 63% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Aja Romano of Vox saying “the jokes land, the cast is superb, the score is still charming, and fans of the show will have little to complain about.” It’s a lot of fun, with a lot of stars and I’m watching. We could all use a lift. But Netflix also has Funny Boy, a 2020 Sri Lankan movie. here, Arush Nand plays Arjie, an 8 year-old boy from a well-off Tamil family, who has definite gay tendencies, not encouraged or understood by anyone in his family except his Radha Aunty (Agam Darshi), who encourages him to be himself. But years later, 17 year-old Arjie, played by Brandon Ingram, falls in love with Shehan (Rehan Mudannayake) a Sinhalese boy, who returns his affection, which brings both risks, as not only is it a crime to be gay in Sri Lanka, but they are from opposing ethnic groups and Tamils are targeted especially. Agam Darshi, Ali Kazmi, Nimmi Harasgama, Seema Biswas and Shivantha Wijesinha also star, while Deepa Mehta(Water) directs. And it gets a 76% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Jude Dry of Indiewire calling it “a luminous coming-of-age tale seen through the eyes of a relatable yet entirely unique experience.” I’m definitely tuning in. Also new on Netflix is Ava, a new thriller starring Jessica Chastain(!). Chastain plays the title character Ava, a paid assassin who starts going off the rails, talking to her targets before killing them, and breaking other rules, all the while trying to repair the rift in her family that made her run away years ago. Geena Davis plays her abrasive mom, Colin Farrell, her boss and John Malkovich, her mentor. Common, Ioan Gruffudd, Jess Weixler, Christopher Domig, Joan Chen and Diana Silvers also star, and Tate Taylor(The Help) directs. But despite the stellar cast, there’s nothing new here. If it reminds you of Killing Eve, it isn’t nearly as good. It gets only an 11% on Rotten Tomatoes, though it makes a 5.3/10 on IMDb. Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun Times says “as the plot grows increasingly convoluted and borderline laughable, Chastain is steady as she goes, playing a character who’s worthy of a film franchise in a movie nowhere near deserving a sequel.” Don’t bother. I’d rather watch Rose Island, an Italian comedy/drama movie. This tells the truish story of engineer Giorgio Rosa, played by Elio Germano, who, in 1968, decided to build his own island off the coast of Rimini, fed up with life in Rome with his inventions(an electric car) ignored and his love(Matilda De Angelis), who married another. Leonardo Lidi, Tom Wlaschiha and Violetta Zironi help him build the island that becomes famous for parties and free living, but once they want to make it an independent country, they hit (predictable) difficulties. Fabrizio Bentivoglio, Luca Zingaretti, François Cluzet and Frank Gerrish round out the cast, and Sydney Sibilia directs. And its a lot of sun-washed, dreamy fun. And it gets a 71% on Rotten Tomatoes. Linda Marric of NME writes “Sibilia and co-writer Francesca Manieri successfully mix whimsy and pathos to give us something truly inspiring.” It’s on my list. And, finally, Netflix has The Mess You Left Behind, a Spanish mystery/thriller limited series. Set in Galicia, Spain, Inma Cuesta plays Raquel, a teacher just retuned to the village high school where the teacher she replaced, Viruca(Bárbara Lennie) died mysteriously weeks ago. So, of course, Raquel searches for answers, and finds her efforts may threaten her own life. Arón Piper, Roberto Enriquez, Tamar Novas and Alberto Abuín also star, and there are 8 episodes now available for streaming. The series gets an amazing 7.2/10 on IMDb, and Forbes calls it a ” suspenseful…intriguing thriller.” I’m tuning in. I love a mystery.
Amazon‘s huge add this week is I’m Your Woman, a 2020 crime drama starring Rachel Brosnahan. Brosnahan plays Jean, a young married woman in the 70‘s who is forced to go on the run after her (crooked) husband Eddie(Bill Heck)betrays his business partners and disappears, and she’s told to trust in Cal(Arinzé Kene). There’s shady dealings all around her, like a baby she wanted(but they couldn’t have) being brought home to her, no questions asked. And Jean isn’t an independent woman, at least at first, not even knowing how to drive. Marsha Stephanie Blake, De’Mauri Parks, Marcelline Hugot, Jarrod Digiorgi and Frankie Faison also star, and it’s all brought to us by husband-and-wife filmmaking team Julia Hart and Jordan Horowitz. And it gets a 79% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Angie Han of FilmWeek (KPCC – NPR Los Angeles) writing “Rachel Brosnahan gives such a compelling performance that I was never less than mesmerized. I also would be remiss to not mention that this movie is just a treat to look at.” I’m tuning in. Another big add on Amazon is The Wilds, its teen suspense series. Here , a group of teen girls are washed up on a desert island and forced to fight for survival after a plane crash. Sophia Ali, Sarah Pidgeon, Shannon Berry and Jenna Clause play just some of the girls who have to overcome rivalry and uncertainty to survive. Rachel Griffiths(!),Erana James, David Sullivan, Troy Winbush and Helena Howad also star, and there are 10 episodes available now to watch. And if you’re into teen angst and pathos, you might want to watch, and there is beautiful scenery. It doesn’t get great reviews, and only a 5.3/10 on IMDb, but Brian Tallerico of RogerEbert.com says he’s hooked and calls it “there’s something incredibly (and increasingly in each episode) watchable about this twisting, silly show that anchors its B-movie charms in truthful, heartfelt characters and performances.” So you decide. And, finally, you can catch the 1st season of the Starz production The Spanish Princess, only through December 31. Based on the novels of Phillippa Gregory, this series tells the story of the great Catherine of Aragon, first wife of King Henry VIII of England. Young Catherine is played by Charlotte Hope, and the first season catches her travelling to England to meet her betrothed, Arthur, Prince of Wales(Angus Imrie), Henry’s brother. She meets disapproval at her diverse court, and when Arthur dies, she marries Henry(Ruairi O’Connor). Alicia Borrachero, Elliot Cowan, Harriet Walter, Daniel Cerqueira, Laura Carmichael and Antonio de la Torre also star, and there are 8 episodes available now for binging. But remember, only through December 31, when it will go back to the Starz vault, only available with a subscription. And it gets a 75% on Rotten Tomatoes. Lorraine Ali of the L.A. Times says “it’s an elegant and powerful tribute to a queen who’s all too often been defined by the gluttony of her husband but whose influence changed the very fabric of England.” I agree. I can’t wait to watch.
So sit back and binge this weekend, on classics, old and new, on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Enjoy!