Yes, thank goodness, it’s the weekend, 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!
Hulu has some surprisingly good adds this week, like The Secrets We Keep, a 2020 thriller. Noomi Rapace stars here as Maja, a survivor of torture in Germany at the hands of a certain Nazi, Karl, so when she thinks she sees him after she has emigrated to the US in the 50’s, she ends up kidnapping him, with the rather unwilling help of her husband Lewis(Chris Messina), who isn’t thoroughly convinced about the man’s identity. And things devolve from there. Joel Kinnaman, Amy Seimetz, Jackson Dean Vincent, Jeff Pope and Madison Paige Jones also star, while Yuval Adler(Bethlehem) directed. But this movie didn’t get the greatest reviews(it only gets a 64% on Rotten Tomatoes), probably due to some (perceived) miscasting. It’s also said to be an imitation of Roman Polanski‘s 1994 Death and the Maiden, starring Sigourney Weaver, which gets an 84% on Rotten Tomatoes. So, if you’re willing to watch a Polanski film, you might as well watch that movie, on Tubi, here. But Hulu also offers Alone, a 2020 thriller. Jules Wilcox stars as a young woman Jessica, driving up north through Portland and the Pacific Northwest, who is stalked and finally kidnapped by an unnamed serial killer, played by Marc Menchaca. She escapes and runs for her life, through the last half of the film. Anthony Heald, Jonathan Rosenthal, Laura Duyn and Shelly LIpkin also star, with John Hyams(Universal Soldier) directing. and the script is by Mattias Olsson based on his 2011 Swedish film Försvunnen. But this is my least favorite kind of film, a woman being pursued and threatened by an male attacker. So even though it gets a 90% on Rotten Tomatoes, I won’t be watching. Another big add on Hulu this week is The Ultimate Playlist of Noise, a 2021 romance. Keean Johnson plays Marcus, here, a high school kid who loves every sound he hears, who, of course, develops a brain tumor that will leave him deaf after surgery. So he goes on a road trip across the country to record sounds he loves for a playlist that will supposedly delight him when he see others enjoying it(?). Then he runs into Wendy(Madeline Brewer), an indie rocker he adores, and they travel the country together. Bonnie Hunt(!), Rya Kihlstedt, Ian Gomez, Ariela Barer, Emily Skeggs and Oliver Cooper also star, while Bennett Lasseter(Stealth) directed. But, although this YA movie gets a respectable 60% on Rotten Tomatoes, this is the movie to miss on Hulu this week. Silly and patronizing, it makes a serious illness seem like a walk in the park. Adam Graham of the Detroit News says “do yourself a favor and delete this Playlist.” I agree. And, finally, Hulu has added Lights Out, a 2016 horror/thriller. This film tells the tale of a family haunted by a vengeful spirit, Diana, that can only be seen in the dark, a wraith that targeted Sophie(Maria Bello) after a horrible incident, and now looks to terrorize her children, Rebecca(Teresa Palmer) and Martin (Gabriel Bateman). Alicia Vela-Bailey, Billy Burke, Andi Osho, Rolando Boyce and Alexander DiPersia also star, and David F. Sandberg(Shazam!, Annabelle: Creation) directed. But this is definitely too scary for me, and kind of on the mean side, with plenty of violence, too. That said, it gets a 76% on Rotten Tomatoes, and Geoffrey Macnab of the Independent(UK) writing “in its own deeply contrived way, the film is just as frightening as you want it to be.” Watch if you dare.
Netflix has some great adds this week, like Radium Girls, the 2018 British drama. This is a dramatization of the 2016 non-fiction book by Kate Moore, that tells the horrifying story of the young women that worked with the toxic chemical, making luminous watch faces, and imperiling their lives. This all took place at the American Radium Factory in New Jersey, in the 20′s, where two sisters work; Bessie(Joey King), who wants to be an actress and Jo(Abby Quinn) dreams of being an archaeologist. But they are working with the radioactive substance on a brush, and even licking the brush tips to get a better point. So when they start to suffer strange symptoms like losing their teeth and even worse, they investigate and find that the substance is dangerous and their employer knew. Cara Seymour, Scott Shepherd, Susan Heyward, Neal Huff and John Bedford Lloyd also star, and Lydia Dean Pilcher(Normal) and Ginny Mohler co-directed. And Lily Tomlin and Jane Wagner served as executive producers here. And this important film gets a 76% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Kristen Yoonsoo Kim of the New York Times writing “directors Lydia Dean Pilcher and Ginny Mohler reveal a little-known part of history with a loudly beating feminist heart and a narrative grounded in reality.” I’m definitely watching. Netflix has also added Outside the Wire, a 2021 sci-fi thriller. This takes place in the near-future, 2036, where Anthony Mackie(The Hurt Locker, All the Way) plays a android soldier, assigned in the Ukraine to stop the global disaster of nuclear war, along with drone pilot, Lt. Thomas Harp(Damson Idris). Emily Beecham, Michael Kelly, Pilou Asbæk, Kristina Tonteri-Young and Enzo Cilenti also star, while Mikael Håfström(Evil) directed. And Anthony Mackie also served as executive producer of this film. But this isn’t my kind of sci-fi, but violent cyberpunk, without making much sense. it gets only a 34% on Rotten Tomatoes, and Amy Nicholson of NPR-Los Angeles says “this film really wants to be smart… [But] it’s just a lot of death and destruction.” Netflix also offers Double Dad, a 2021 Brazilian family comedy. Maisa Silva plays Vincenza, an 18 year-old living in a hippie commune who sets off to find her unknown father, when her mom takes a trip abroad. But she finds two men that fit the description- the super-successful Giovani (Marcelo Médici) and struggling bohemian painter Paco (Eduardo Moscovis). Fafá de Belém, Thaynara Oliveira Gomes and Thaynara OG, with Cris D’Amato directing. And it gets a 6.4/10 on IMDb. ReadySteadyCut says “Maisa Silva makes a compelling lead…..[and]makes the film well-suited to a lazy afternoon full-family viewing” It’s on my list. Netflix also has horror, with Death of Me, a 2020 flick. Maggie Q and Luke Hemsworth star as a young couple, Christine and Neil(respectively) who wake up to find themselves in a wrecked AirBnB on a Thai island, with no idea what occurred there. They ty to flee, without success and find a video of the previous night, which reveals one of them killing the other. Alex Essoe, Kat Ingkarat, Kelly B. Jones and Michael S. New also star and Darren Bousman(St. Agatha) directed. But, despite its good beginning, it doesn’t pan out. It gets only a 32% on Rotten Tomatoes, and Brian Tallerico of RogerEbert.com says its “a movie that takes a fresh idea and decides that the best way to present it is through tropes and clichés from better films.” And it’s still too scary for me. And, finally, Netflix has added A Monster Calls, the 2016 classic fantasy drama. Based on the 2011 novel of the same name by Patrick Ness, this tells the tale of Conor(Lewis MacDougall), a boy whose beloved mother Lizzie(Felicity Jones) is terminally ill and faced with other challenges like bullying, nightmares and a cold grandmother(Sigourney Weaver). So he draws and dreams, but one night a magical monster(Liam Neeson) erupts from the yew tree outside his window, who promises to tell him three stories, for one in return. And that monster helps him show his anger and fight the battles he must wage. Geraldine Chaplin, Toby Kebbell, James Melville, Max Golds and Ben Moor also star, and Juan Antonio Bayona(The Orphangage) directed. This is a wonderfully magical film for grown-ups as well as kids that won 9 Goya Awards including Best Director and Best Cinematography, and 7 Gaudi Awards(both in Spain) including, again, Best Director. And it gets an 86% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 7.5/10 on IMDb. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone wrote it “gets you where you live and where there’s no place to hide. There’s magic in it.” I’m definitely tuning in.
Amazon has one huge add this week with One Night in Miami, a 2021 drama. Based on the stage play by Kemp Powers of the same name, and adapted for the screen by Powers as well, this images a fictionalized meeting between Malcolm X(Kingsley Ben-Adir), Muhammad Ali(Eli Goree), Jim Brown(Aldis Hodge) and Sam Cooke(Leslie Odom Jr.) in a hotel room in February, 1964, on the night of Ali‘s(or Cassius Clay‘s, as he was known, then) surprise victory over Sonny Liston. Joaquina Kalukango plays Betty X, and Nicolette Robinson plays Barbara Cooke, and Beau Bridges(!), Lance Reddick, Michael Imperioli, and Amondre D. Jackson also star, and amazingly, Regina King directed this masterpiece in her feature film debut as director, as well as serving as executive producer. This premiered at the Venice Film Festival in September, 2020 to rave reviews, and has already won 14 awards this season, like winning Outstanding Ensemble Performance at the San Francisco Film Awards, and Best New Filmmaker for Regina King at the Hawaii Film Critics Society. And more promise to come. It gets a stunning 98% on Rotten Tomatoes. Odie Henderson of RogerEbert.com calls it a “an especially bittersweet fly-on-the-wall drama……..[and] a wonderfully rendered fiction, a what-if scenario that doesn’t sacrifice its honesty and complexity in favor of easier to digest scenarios.” Watch before the Academy Awards. I know I will. And, unfortunately, that all of Amazon’s good adds– their only other addition this week being The Rhythm Section, a 2020 thriller. Blake Lively stars here as Stephanie Patrick, a woman crushed after her family was killed in a plane crash, so when she hears that it wasn’t an accident she hires ex-MI6 operative Iain Boyd(Jude Law) to look into it. Even though she’s a prostitute addicted to crack, she bankrolls all this action, which will, of course, Iain tells her, tell her things she doesn’t want to know. Raza Jaffrey, Sterling K Brown, Max Casella and Richard Brake also star, and Reed Morano directs. But this is awful claptrap, that gets a horrible 28% on Rotten Tomatoes. Josh Kupecki of the Austin Chronicle wrote “this film is a mess. It’s so grim and inept.” Don’t bother. But Amazon does have Black Ballerina, a 2016 PBS doc. This tells the story of several women of color, Joan Myers Brown, Delores Browne and Raven Wilkinson, all of whom were great dancers, but because of the color of their skin, encountered huge obstacles in their quest to join the white world of ballet. Ballerinas tell of not being able to get into the premiere dance schools only because they are black, and even being told an excellent company like the Ballets Russe “can’t have a ‘black’ white swan.” It’s heartbreaking, but impactful content, that won the Showcase Selection at the Maupintown Film Festival. And it’s brought to us by producer/director Frances McElroy(2009 Pew Fellow in the Arts).that gets an incredible 8/10 on IMDb. It’s an important piece of history for all of us to see, especially now. I’m watching.
So sit back and binge this weekend, on classics, old and new, on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Enjoy!