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!
Hulu‘s got some big adds this week, like Antebellum, the 2020 horror movie. Janelle Monáe stars, here, as Veronica Henley, a sociologist and author who visits the south on a book tour, leaving her husband(Marque Richardson) and daughter(London Boyce). But her trip takes her much farther than present day Louisiana, but back, in fact to a slave plantation, where she is marooned and abused. Eric Lange, Jena Malone, Jack Huston, Gabourey Sidibe(!) and Tongayi Chirisa also star, with Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz directing in their feature film debuts. And this movie is brought to us by the same producer’s of Jordan Peele‘s Get Out. But, alas, where Get Out had wonderful writing, this movie falls short. It looks good, but is muddled and confusing. It gets only a 28% on Rotten Tomatoes, and Alex Bentley of Culture Map says “taken as a thriller alone, Antebellum can be enjoyed on a surface level. But its message is intertwined with the story as a whole, and in that respect, it doesn’t live up to its potential.” But I’d rather watch Dear Comrades!, a 2020 Russian satirical drama. This movie considers the Novocherkassk massacre in 1962, where people in the city in Southern Russia took to protest in the streets against rising food prices only to be gunned down, from the point of view of Lyuda (Julia Vysotskaya), a city official with the Communist Party. When she learns her daughter Svetka, played by Yulia Burova, may be among those jailed for speaking up, Lyuda‘s support of her government wavers and she seeks a convoluted path to save her. Andrei Gusev, Vladislav Komarov, Sergei Erlish and Dmitriy Kostyaev also star, and Andrei Konchalovsky(Runaway Train) directed. And cinematographer Andrey Naydenov gives us a wonderful black and white view of this post-Stalin Soviet world. this film won multiple awards last year , including the Special Jury Prize at the 77th Venice International Film Festival. And it gets an incredible 97% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 7/10 on IMDb. Glenn Kenny of RogerEbert.com said “[it] is a fascinating, irony-steeped portrait of a soul who’s been hardened by her trauma, to the extent that she embraces its architects.” I’m definitely watching. Hulu has also added The New York Times Presents: Framing Britney Spears, a 2020 documentary. Part of the New York Times series on FX on Hulu, this film considers Britney Spears being forced into the conservatorship of her father, Jamie Spears, and thereby losing control of everything from her finances to her daily affairs. There are key interviews from insiders like family friends, her lawyers and a marketing exec who formed her early star persona. But hugely, this is interviews with her fans, friends and supporters who feel her conservatorship is unfair, especially under her father, which she resents and doesn’t approve. Director Samantha Stark does a wonderful job keeping this doc on track and factual. And this show get an incredible 9.2 on IMDb. It’s on my list. And, finally, Hulu has 12 Hour Shift, the 2020 comedy/thriller movie. Angela Bettis plays Mandy, here, a nurse in 1998 Arkansas, who, because of her expensive drug addiction, gets into an organ harvesting scheme, even bringing her hapless cousin Regina(Chloe Farnworth) in on the effort. So when Regina loses a kidney(!) at the hospital, they are threatened by organ trafficker Nicholas(Mick Foley), and Regina goes on a murderous spree, tying to acquire a kidney, with Regina left to clean up the gory mess. David Arquette, Kit Williamson, Nikea Gamby-Turner, Julianne Dowler and Brooke Seguin also star, with Brea Grant directing. This is a super grizzly movie, with murder being perpetrated in so many ways it boggles the mind. And it gets a 77% on Rotten Tomatoes, though it’s not exactly my cup of tea. But Sara Michelle Fetters of Movie Freak wrote “it’s a spiritedly entertaining bit of unrelenting nastiness, all of it centered on a strong performance from the versatile Bettis that’s outstanding.” So if you want unrelenting violence, this may be for you.
Netflix‘ buzziest add this week must be Malcolm & Marie, the 2021 drama starring Zendaya. Zendaya plays Marie, here, the partner of Malcolm(John David Washington), a rather ego-centric filmmaker who ecstatic on the night of his film premiere, based on Marie’s life. The only problem? He didn’t thank her. And so things spiral out of control and into a no-holds-barred fight that lasts hours, with each person going for the jugular. As it’s a Covid production, Zendaya and Washington make up the whole cast, with Sam Levinson(Euphoria) directing. And it’s all filmed in beautiful black and white by cinematographer Marcell Rév. But, though the performances are wonderful, I don’t really think there’s enough material here for a full length movie. It gets only a 58% on Rotten Tomatoes, but a 6.8/10 on IMDb. Alissa Wilkinson of Vox writes “in the hands of a stronger writer, Malcolm & Marie could have taken its cues from great theater two-handers, duets designed to showcase their actors.” Still, it’s on my list. Netflix also has Firefly Lane, a soapy drama series. Based on the novel of the same name by Kristin Hannah, this follows the friendship of Tully Hart(Katherine Heigl and Ali Skovbye) and Kate Mularkey(Sarah Chalke and Roan Curtis) through the four decades of their relationship. This includes everything from the first period, to breakups, career troubles and divorce. Beau Garrett, Ben Lawson, Jason McKinnon, Yael Yurman and Brandon Jay McLaren also star, and there are 10 episodes to binge on now. But this is a real romantic melodrama, without great writing. It gets only a 48% on Rotten Tomatoes(though a 7.7/10 on IMDb) and Judy Berman of Time says “by most metrics, Firefly Lane is simply not a good show. Yet despite its many limitations, there’s something lovable about it.” I’d rather watch Little Big Women, a 2020 Taiwanese drama. This tells the story of family matriarch and restaurant owner Lin Shoying, played by Chen Shu-fang, who gets the horrible news of the death of her long absent husband, Chen Bochang, on her 70th birthday. She is intent on finding his latest romantic partner, while her daughters, played by Hsieh Ying-xuan, Sun Ke-fang and Vivian Hsu, deal with problems of their own. Buffy Chen, Ke-Fang Sun, Han Chang and Ning Ding also star, while Joseph Chen-Chieh Hsu directed. Shu-Fang Chen won the Golden Horse Award for Best Leading Actress in 2020, and 5 more nominations that year. And it gest an amazing 7.6/10 on IMDb. New Bloom Mag calls it “powerfully evocative, likely to resonate strongly with the personal experiences of many viewers.” I’m definitely tuning in. And Netflix has also added The Yin-Yang Master: Dream Of Eternity, a 2020 Chinese historical fantasy movie. This tells of the adventures of Yin–Yang Masters Qing Ming(Mark Chao) and Bo Ya(Allen Deng), as they try to solve a murder mystery and protect against dark forces in the royal court in Tiandu City. Jessie Li, Wang Ziwen and Wang Duo also star and Guo Jingming directed. And it’s based on the popular 2001 novel Onmyoji by Japanese writer Baku Yumemakura. And while it gets only a 5.3/10 on IMDb, it gets an astonishing 8.3/10 on My Drama List. I’m watching. And finally, Netflix has Invisible City, a 2021 Brazilian fantasy thriller series. Marco Pigossi plays Eric, a member of the Environmental Police Force in Rio de Janeiro, whose wife Gabriela (Julia Konrad) is killed, trying to save a fishing village from developers. He is left to care for Luna(Manuela Dieguez), their daughter, and investigate his wife’s murder, when he comes across some strange occurrences involving mystical creatures, and begins to wonder if the two cases are connected. Jéssica Córes, Alessandra Negrini, Wesley Guimarães, José Dumont, Áurea Maranhão and Rafael Sieg also star, and there are 7 episodes available to enjoy now. And it gets a stunning 7.1/10 on IMDb, with Joel Keller of The Decider calling it “a good-looking, well-acted show.” It’s on my list.
The huge add on Amazon this week is Bliss, the 2021 sci fi romance. Owen Wilson stars as Greg, here, depressed and in the middle of a divorce and recently fired from a job he hates and dreaming of a certain woman, when he meets Isabel(Salma Hayek) in a bar. She claims to have special telekinetic powers, which she demonstrates by flipping over cars, and says they are the only two real people living in a computer simulation. But is she telling the truth? Nesta Cooper stars as Greg‘s daughter, and Jorge Lendeborg Jr., Ronny Chieng, Madeleine Zima and Steve Zissis also star, while Mike Cahill(Another Earth) directs. Bill Nye even makes a cameo appearance. But despite that, little makes sense here, and it gets a sorry 28% on Rotten Tomatoes. Kevin Maher of the Times(UK) says “the film is essentially dramatically static, and little more than a mildly distracted stoner “What if?”” Don’t bother. Amazon also offers Season 1 of Safe House, a British crime drama. Christopher Eccleston and Marsha Thomason star as Robert and Katy, who turn their lovely guest house into a safe house, at the urging of one of Christopher‘s colleagues on the police force. Paterson Joseph, Stephen Moyer, Zoë Tapper, Jason Merrells and Nicola Stephenson also star, and there ae 4 episodes to binge on now. And it gets a 6.5/10 on IMDb. But, as usual, we have only through February 28 to view Season 1, whereupon it disappears back to Acorn tv, available only with a subscription. and, finally, Amazon has made Season 1 of City on a Hill, the 2019 police drama from Showtime. District Attorney Decourcy Ward (Aldis Hodge) forms an alliance with corrupt Jackie Rohr (Kevin Bacon) in 1990‘s Boston to take down a family of armored car robbers. Cathy Moriarty(!), Jonathan Tucker, Amanda Clayton, Mark O’Brien, and Jimmy Cummings also star and there are 10 episodes to absorb before, again, February 28. And this show gets an astounding 7.5/10 on IMDb. Brian Tallerico of RogerEbert.com said it “has just enough crackling dialogue and fascinating characters to keep its sometimes-clunky plot moving.” It’s on my list.
So sit back and binge this weekend, on classics, old and new, on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Enjoy!