Yes, it’s that time again, 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!
The biggest add on Hulu this week may be Derek DelGaudio’s In & Of Itself, a magical doc from executive producers Stephen Colbert and Evelyn McGee Colbert. This is actually a filmed performance of DelGaudio’s off-Broadway show from 2018, where he gets personal with the audience, with tricks included. First, he has each member pick from a board of tags on the stage wall, each completing the phrase “I Am,” like choices like a brick wall or unicorn to choose from. Then, he goes into his own personal life, making admissions about a life not without mistakes or transgressions. And finally, in the third act, he comes forth with (seemingly) incredible insights and revelations into the audience members lives, based on their tag, and magic(?). And this film shows you plenty of the more famous members of DelGaudio‘s audience, like Bill Gates, Tim Gunn and Marina Abramovic. And though not all of this works as well on film as it did on the stage(or so I’m told), it is all filmed by master director Frank Oz(The Dark Crystal, Little Shop of Horrors), as it was originally off-Broadway. And, though I don’t love all the drama, all the time, DelGaudio is good, and Oz is better. And this gets an incredible 9.1/10 on IMDb, and a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. David Fear of Rolling Stone says “there’s a magic here that has nothing to do with rabbits pulled from hats. It’s a testament to the power of the material and the determination of its interpreters to not dilute it.” It’s on my list. Hulu also offers The Sister, a 2021 British thriller mini-series. Russell Tovey stars, here, as Nathan Redman, a man whose happy home life is shattered by the visit of an seedy and bedraggled old friend, Bob(played by Bertie Carvel). And it seems Nathan has a secret that is about to be revealed to his wife, Holly(Amrita Acharia), about her dead sister, Elise(Simone Ashley). Nina Toussaint-White, Paul Bazely and Amanda Root also star, and there are 4 episodes available now. This series is adapted from the novel Burial by Neil Cross, by Cross himself. And though this show only gets a 5.7/10 on IMDb, Lucy Mangan of The Guardian calls it “a supernaturally-tinged dose of nail-bitery, doled out in suspenseful chunks”. I’m watching. I love a mystery. And that’s it for Hulu’s good new adds, unfortunately, they’ve also added No Escape, a 2020 thriller. Here, Cole (Keegan Allen), a social media influencer, travels to Moscow to experience a new escape room with his friends for a celebration. But it’s game room rife with horror, and it’s women characters being subjected to torture especially. Yuk. Holland Roden, Denzel Whitaker, Ronin Rubenstein and Pasha Lynchnikoff also star, with Will Wernick directing. But this is an unpalatable film with little to recommend it. And it gets a deserving 20% on Rotten Tomatoes. Watch if you’re desperate for horror. And, finally Hulu has added the classic film 1900: (Extended Cut), a 1976 epic directed by Bernardo Bertolucci(Last Tango in Paris, The Last Emperor). This tells the tale of two friends in Italy at the turn of the twentieth century; Alfredo Berlinghieri(Robert De Niro), a landowner and soon-to-be fascist sympathizer and Olmo Dalcò(Gérard Depardieu), a peasant who grows up to join in protests against the landowners. This follows them through the expanse of decades until the end of World War II, when their disparate destinies await. And its done with a wonderful ensemble cast, including Dominique Sanda, Francesca Bertini, Laura Betti, Stefania Casini, Ellen Schwiers, Sterling Hayden, Donald Sutherland(!) and Burt Lancaster(!). This film premiered out of competition at the 1976 Cannes Film Festival, and won the Bodil Award for Best Non-American Film and 2nd place in the National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Cinematography. And it gets an amazing 7.7/10 on IMDb. Jaime N. Christley of Slant Magazine said “Bertolucci’s concept of the epic is to fashion a living, fluid organism that spans the distances between several poles of extremity: ancient and modern, agony and ecstasy, life and theater, rich and poor.” But be forewarned, this extended cut runs an awesome 5 hours plus(!), so be prepared. I’m definitely tuning in.
The most impressive add on Netflix this week is The White Tiger, the 2021 drama. Directed by the masterful Ramin Bahrani(Chop Shop, Fahrenheit 451), and based on Aravind Adiga’s 2008 novel of the same name, this tells the tale of Balram Halwai and his rise from humble Indian villager to rich entrepreneur, by way of being the driver for rich American couple Pinky(Priyanka Chopra-Jonas) and Ashok (Rajkummar Rao), newly returned from America. Along the way, he is betrayed and has to come up with his own solution to inequality and prejudice. Mahesh Manjrekar, Swaroop Sampat, Kamlesh Gill, Vijay Maurya and Nalneesh Neel also star, and Priyanka Chopra Jonas also served as executive producer, here, as well. And it gets an incredible 90% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Joe Morgenstern of The Wall Street Journal writing “[its] a zestful epic blessed with rapier wit, casually dazzling dialogue, gorgeous cinematography (by Paolo Carnera) and, at the center of it all, a sensational star turn.” I can’t wait to watch again. But Netflix also added Sightless, a 2020 thriller. Madelaine Petsch stars as Ellen, a young promising violinist, blinded in a horrible chemical attack, and trying to recuperate in an new apartment, aided sometimes by a nurse. But much of her time, she is inexplicably alone, growing more and more wary of her neighbors, including one who tells her to trust no one, and finally becomes convinced her attacker is with her in the building. Deniz Akdeniz, Alexander Koch, December Ensminger, Matthew Yang King and Courtney Compton also star, with Cooper Karl directing. But aside from the intriguing touch of this film only showing little of the other characters, thus giving us a hint of what Ellen is experiencing, there’s little new material here. And Sightless gets a 5.4/10 on IMDb. Ready Steady Cut calls it “a drab, predictable thriller you’d be better off not seeing.” Better to watch Daughter from Another Mother, a comedy/drama Netflix series from Mexico. Here, two women from widely disparate backgrounds, rich businesswoman and poor student, unhappily share a room while each gives birth to a baby girl, and end up hating each other. So when they find, four months later, that the babies were switched, and that they have to, in turn, remedy that situation by giving the baby they’ve bonded with back, they are horrified. And so end up sharing a household… and the babies. Ana Karina Guevara, Rocío Leal, Vicky Araico, Dalexa and Martín Altomaro also star, and there are 9 episodes to binge on now. It’s a fun series that gets a 6.7/10 on IMDb, and Ready Steady Cut calls it “a personable, funny, and sometimes moving dramedy.” I’m watching. Netflix also offers Calm With Horses(The Shadow of Violence), a 2020 Irish drama. This is the story of ex-boxer, Douglas Armstrong(Cosmo Jarvis), who works now as an enforcer for drug dealers in rural Ireland, meting out savagery while trying to care for his autistic son Jack (Kiljan Tyr Moroney). Niamh Algar, Barry Keoghan, Liam Carney, David Wilmot and Simone Kirby also star, and Nick Rowland directs. And it gets a stunning 94% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Manohla Dargis of the New York Times writing “There is just enough ambiguity onscreen, particularly during the movie’s early stretch, that the narrative machinery isn’t too conspicuous.” But it’s too violent for me. And finally, Netflix has So My Grandma’s a Lesbian, a 2020 comedy from Spain. Here, old friends and lovers Sofia(Veronica Forque) and Celia(Rosa Maria Sardà) decide finally to marry, and throw their family members, into turmoil and disbelief. Their granddaughter Eva(Ingrid García Jonsson) is especially concerned about the response of her conservative fiancé(and his rich family), and so goes to her grandmother to intervene. David Verdaguer, Candela Peña, Mónica López, Alex O’Dogherty and María Caballero also star, while Ángeles Reiné directs. And it’s too soon after release for any substantive ratings, but Daniel Hart of Ready Steady Cut says “[it] is surprisingly not provocative in its comedy, but it is a sweet-natured story that encapsulates the flawed, but kind nature of the human race.” I’m definitely tuning in.
Amazon‘s big add this week is Flack, a new British dramedy series starring Anna Paquin. Paquin stars as Robyn, an American publicist in London who works at a London PR firm with five other flackers- people there simply to clean up any horrible mess a celebrity client might get into, no judgement included. Robyn does her job impeccably, as her own life falls apart. Sophie Okonedo stars as her demanding boss, Caroline, and Rebecca Benson and Lydia Wilson star as a couple of her fellow flackers. Genevieve Angelson, Arinze Kene, Rufus Jones and Andrew Lueng also star, with Bradley Whitford, Sam Neill, Rebecca Root, Amanda Abbington being just some of the big-name guest stars included here. And there are 6 episodes to enjoy right now, with Season 2 on the way. And it gets a 68% on Rotten Tomatoes. John Doyle of the Globe and Mail calls it “delightfully cynical, but sometimes bittersweet, funny and occasionally outright brilliant. Especially about the often loathsome clients these characters are paid to babysit, promote and protect.” But beware, it is awfully dark, with lots of debauched behavior. You decide. Amazon has also added Like a Boss, the 2020 comedy. Tiffany Haddish and Rose Byrne star, here, as two owners of a cosmetics business, forced to accept funding from the owner of a cosmetics empire, Claire Luna (Salma Hayek), who, unbeknownst to them, intends to take over the company, and leave them high and dry. Jennifer Coolidge, Billy Poter, Karan Soni, Natasha Rothwell and Lisa Kudrow also star, while Miguel Arteta(The Good Girl) directed. But even this wonderful cast can’t save this movie, and it gets a sorry 20% on Rotten Tomatoes. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone wrote “what we have here is a comedy on life support, with Haddish and Byrne valiantly performing futile acts of resuscitation. Sorry to report: The patient died.” Enough said. And, finally, Amazon has Season 1 of Ancient Civilizations of North America from The Great Courses channel. This fascinating series covers thousands of years and many cultures that existed during that time in North America, like the Clovis culture, the Hopewell, Chaco Canyon, the Mississippians and finally more modern groups like the Iroquois and Algonquians! And the class is led by Professor Edwin Barnhart, Director of the Maya Exploration Center, who unearthed the ancient city of Maax Na (Spider-Monkey Houses) in Belize in 1994. There are 24 half-hour episodes to devour before this show disappears from the regular line-up on January 31, only to be accessed with a subscription to The Great Courses channel afterward, easily doable during Covid. And it gets a 4.5/5 rating on Audible. I can’t wait to dig in!
So sit back and binge this weekend, on classics, old and new, on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Enjoy!