Yes, it’s the holiday weekend, finally, 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!
Okay, Hulu hasn’t any stunning adds this week, but there are a few good finds here and there, like The Mole Agent, a 2020 Chilean docudrama. This is a doc telling the story of 83 year-old Sergio who goes to work for a detective agency looking for people to infiltrate a retirement home with a camera, checking on elder abuse there, on behalf of a client’s mother. And once Sergio comes to understand his iPhone, he gets up close and personal with everyone in the home. And that’s the most fascinating part, where we get to know the of the residents live and pasts, their interests and passions, and realize they are just as vital as the people outside the facility. And Sergio is fascinating, telling his tale with the help of Romulo, his employer. And director Maite Alberdi(Los Reyes) gives us an intimate view of the people in the home, and their overlooked lives. This film won awards at multiple festivals, including at the San Sebastián International Film Festival, and Cinema Eye Honors Awards. And it gets a stunning 94% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 7.6/10 on IMDb. Nikki Baughan of Empire Magazine says “a moving exploration of the realities of growing old, Maite Alberdi’s documentary effectively blends documentary with dramatic elements to charming, if not always transparent, effect.” Hulu has also added You Can’t Kill David Arquette, another 2020 doc. This one tells the tale of David Arquette’s return to professional wrestling in 2019, after he freely admits his movie career is stalling. So displeased with his failed attempt in 2000, Arquette returns to professional wrestling, disregarding a heart attack in 2018 and other health problems, and relatives like Patricia and Rosanna Arquette disapproving. The end result of the movie is directed by David Darg and Price James is a melancholy tale of unrequited love,with Arquette never gaining the hearts of the WCW audience, or the stardom he so desperately desires. And it gets an 84% on Rotten Tomatoes. Brian Lowry of CNN wrote “strange and more than a little sad, You Cannot Kill David Arquette derives most of its strength from the discomfort associated with watching it.” But I’d rather watch Baby Steps, a 2017 Taiwanese comedy/drama. Here, Barry Cheng stars as Danny, a gay man a happily living in L.A. with his partner Tate(Michael Adam Hamilton), and wants to adopt a baby. But when Ma (Ah-Leh Gua), his mother, announces a visit from Taiwan, he panics. Because she wants a baby, too, but the old-fashioned way, and seeing how she doesn’t know he’s gay, that’s understandable. Tzi Ma, Jason Stewart, Nadège August, Meera Simhan and Ellyn Jameson also star, and Cheng wrote and directed this film, as well as starring. And the result is a pleasant, enjoyable movie about the difficulties of family accepting who you are, regardless of their own desires. And it gets a 5.6/10 on IMDb. I’m watching. And, finally, Hulu has added the Euphoria, a 2017 drama. Alicia Vikander(!) stars as a young woman who travels with her sister to a mysterious castle in Europe to explore their (ample) family difficulties with the rest of their troubled family, including her mom, Marina(Charlotte Rampling), and Mr Daren(Charles Dance). Adrian Lester, Mark Stanley, August Zirner and Nataliya Stefanac also star, and Lisa Langseth(Love & Anarchy) directed. And though this movie was wildly unpopular with critics(it gets only a 19% on Rotten Tomatoes), it gets a 5.7/10 on IMDb, and it has a great cast. Sara Michelle Fetters of MovieFreak.com said ” [the]superlative performances from Vikander and Green anchor the proceedings in intimately naturalistic substance that’s achingly authentic.” I’m tuning in.
Netflix has huge adds this week, like The Midnight Sky, a 2020 scifi movie starring George Clooney. Clooney plays Augustine Lofthouse, a scientist obsessed with finding other habitable worlds in the galaxy, and when a global catastrophe leaves Earth with lethal levels of radiation, he has to warn off a returning spaceship, Æther, piloted by “Sully” (Felicity Jones), from landing. Isolated in the Arctic Circle, he finds a girl(Caoilinn Springall) alone, who he is forced to take with him on his travel to a base with an antenna powerful enough to contact Æther. David Oyelowo(!), Tiffany Boone, Demián Bichir, Kyle Chandler(!) and Sophie Rundle also star, and Clooney directed this movie, based on the 2016 novel Good Morning, Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton. And it gets a 5.6/10 on IMDb, and a only 53% on Rotten Tomatoes. But it is sci-fi, with some breathtaking scenes. Nick De Semlyen of Empire writes “swinging between ice and space, Clooney has upped his directorial ambition and delivered a big-scale, big-hearted story, even if it struggles to match the films it riffs on.” I’m definitely watching. But Netflix also has Bridgerton, the new romantic drama series from Shonda Rhimes(Scandal). Based on Julia Quinn‘s novels, this series follows Daphne Bridgerton (Phoebe Dynevor) as she enters the marriage market in Regency London, only to come under suspicion when a scandal sheet written by Lady Whistledown(Julie Andrews) casts aspersions on Daphne‘s character, hurting her chances at making a good match. And when she meets Simon Basset(Regé-Jean Page), things start to happen. Jonathan Bailey, Nicola Coughlin, Adjoa Andoh and Ruby Barker also star, and there are 8 episodes available now for binging. And the series gets an incredible 94% on Rotten Tomatoes, but it’s definitely a romance, with no apologies. Roxana Hadadi of RogerEbert.com says “Bridgerton is amusing enough and will scratch a certain thirsty itch, but its themes about love, marriage, and class aren’t quite as progressive as it would like to think.” You decide. Netflix also offers Isa Pa with Feelings, a 2019 Filipino romantic comedy. Maine Mendoza stars as Mara Navarro, an aspiring architect who becomes friends with neighbor Gali(Carlo Aquino), who happens to be deaf. Which doesn’t complicate things for her, but once they become romantically involved, things become more difficult. Cris Villanueva, Lotlot de Leon, Nikki Valdez, Kat Galang and Vangie Labalan also star, while Prime Cruz directed. And this is, notably, the first Filipino movie to use and interpret Sign Language. And it gets an amazing 7.8/10 on IMDb. If you want more romance. But if you want science, like me, Netflix has The Surgeon’s Cut, a BBC docu-series. This chronicles the lives of four different leading surgeons, from fields as disparate as fetal medicine, neurosurgery, organ transplant, and heart surgery. It covers the tension and drama of the patients facing the life and death outcome of those surgeries, and doctors making huge strides in medicine, like Nancy Ascher of University of California, San Francisco, the first female Head of the Department of Surgery, and first woman to perform a liver transplant. And Dr. Devi Shetty, a cardiac surgeon, founder of India’s Narayana Health, and who pioneered the concept of “micro health insurance,” so low-income patients in India can pool community resources in order to afford life-saving surgery and other treatments. It’s awe-inspiring stuff, with tons of drama, too. There are 4 episodes to enjoy now, and the series gets a stunning 8.6/10 on IMDb. John Anderson of the Wall Street Journal writes that “what they manage to do is create miracles. What the program’s four directors create — let’s call it a minor miracle — is something that does justice to their subjects.” I’m definitely watching. And, finally, Netflix has It’s Okay Not to Be Okay, a 2020 drama series from South Korea. Kim Soo-hyun stars as Moon Gang-tae, a young man who works as a psych ward caretaker, and lives with his older, autistic brother Moon Sang-tae (Oh Jung-se), as they move often and travel the country, trying to overcome the trauma of their mother’s murder, years ago. Gang-tae meets a young and successful writer, Ko Moon-young(Seo Yea-ji), said to have an anti-social personality disorder, and who tries to help. Park Gyu-young, Kim Joo-hun, Lee Eol, Kim Chang-wan and Park Jin-joo also star, and there are 10episodes to splurge on now. This has won multiple awards this year, including Popular Star Award( Actor and Actress) at the Apan Star Awards, and Best Artist Award at the Asia Artist Awards. And it gets a whopping 8.8/10 on IMDb. Yes, it’s another romance, but it’s one with realistic (and positively portrayed) neuro- diverse characters. It’s on my list.
Amazon‘s major add this week is Sylvie’s Love, a 2020 romance. Tessa Thompson plays Sylvie, a young woman in 1957 New York City, working in her father’s record store as she dreams of a career in television and waits for her fiancé to return from war. Until Robert(Nnamdi Asomugha), a jazz saxophonist, comes to work pat-time in the store, and they make a connection that, even years later, can’t be extinguished. Aja Naomi King, Eva Longoria, Wendi McLendon-Covey and Jemima Kirke also star, and Eugene Ashe directs. This is one of my favorite movies on Amazon this month, with a rich period romance played by actors not cast in the same movies of the 50‘s and 60′s. It’s like a Marvelous Mrs. Maisel with (huzzah) non-white actors. And it gets an outstanding 93% on Rotten Tomatoes. Randy Myers of the San Jose Mercury News says “every element of Ashe’s film is swoon-worthy, from Fabrice Lecomte’s lush score and Phoenix Mellow‘s gorgeous costumes to Declan Quinn‘s exquisite cinematography and Asomugha‘s and Thompson‘s luminous performances.” I’m tuning in. Amazon has also added Blackbird, the 2020 melodrama starring Susan Sarandon. Here, Sarandon plays Lily, a matriarch who suffers from a the mysterious, unnamed neurological disease, and calls her children about her for a Christmas weekend. But when her grown kids, played by Mia Wasikowska and Kate Winslet, arrive with their partners and friends, they find Lily plans on ending her life that weekend. Sam Neill plays her husband, and Rainn Wilson(!), Anson Boon, Lindsay Duncan and Bex Taylor-Klaus also star, and Roger Michell(The Duke) directed. And it’s based on a 2014 Danish film Silent Heart, whose screenwriter Christian Torpe wrote the script for this movie, as well. And though it gets only a 60% on Rotten Tomatoes, it does have an exemplary cast. David Fear of Rolling Stone writes, “someone nudges this in memoriam in the ribs and reminds it to be a melodrama, at which point a far more typical story of family feuding kicks in.” You might just want to watch the original 2014 movie instead, which you can do(fo free) with your Amazon Prime membership, right here. And, finally, we can all watch Showtime‘s The Kingmaker, a 2020 documentary for free on Amazon, until January 11! This is the acclaimed in house doc about Imelda Marcos, fist lady of the Philippines and wife of President Ferdinand Marcos, owner of thousands of shoes and riches(and an ego) beyond imagination. Director Lauren Greenfield(The Queen of Versailles, Thin) does an impeccable job of portraying Imelda Marcos and the regime of her husband, stained by accusations of murder and other abuses, which Imelda shrugs off. Saying things like “perception is real and the truth is not!, she is a chilling portrait of an autocracy using ‘alternative truths’ to their own advantage. Lauren Greenfield won several awards for her work here, including Best Director at the Warsaw International Film Festival. And the movie gets an awesome 97% on Rotten Tomatoes. Don’t miss it, I won’t.
So sit back and binge this holiday weekend, on classics, old and new, on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Enjoy!