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 biggest (and best) add this week is The United States vs. Billie Holiday, the 2021 historical drama from acclaimed director Lee Daniels(The Butler). Singer Andra Day stars, in her first feature role, as the legendary Billie Holiday, already a star in New York City, when she insists on singing the now classic song Strange Fruit, about lynching in America, even after being harassed by the U.S government because of it, though under the guise of her ‘criminal’ drug use. Trevante Rhodes plays Jimmy Fletcher, a black FBI agent who took part in that harassment, only to regret it, and Natasha Lyonne, Erik LaRay Harvey, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Tone Bell and Rob Morgan also star, and this film is based on a chapter in Johann Hari’s 2015 book Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs. But the screenplay by Suzan-Lori Parks(Topdog/Underdog), it’s pretty mundane, and even melodramatic. The reason to tune in is Andra Day‘s performance as Holiday, a smoldering and powerful presence, with a voice that rivals Holiday’s in raspiness and rich depth. so even though the film get only a 55% on Rotten Tomatoes, I’m watching. I agree with Melanie McFarland of Salon.com who writes “in her feature debut Day effortlessly cultivates the hunger that drove Holiday, and that passion holds together a period piece that otherwise leaves us wanting.” It’s worth a second (or even third) look. Hulu has also added Florence Foster Jennings, the 2016 comedy. Meryl Streep stars as Jennings, here, an opera singer as ridiculous as Holiday was divine, almost unable to carry a tune, but rich enough to fund her continuing career, as well as being a great benefactor to music in New York City in the 1940‘s, as well. Hugh Grant plays her St. Clair Bayfield, her manager and companion, who humors her through her ventures, and Simon Helberg(The Big Bang Theory), Rebecca Ferguson, Nina Arianda, Stanley Townsend and Nina Arianda also star, while Stephen Frears(Dangerous Liaisons, The Grifters) directed. And the fact that it is all based on a true story makes it all the more fascinating. It was nominated for two Academy Awards in 2016, including Streep’s 20th nomination. And it gets an 87% on Rotten Tomatoes, and Neil Genzlinger of The NY Times wrote “Meryl Streep stars in an enjoyable look back at a would-be singer and a Carnegie Hall concert remembered for how awful it was.” I’m tuning in. And Hulu also offers Possessor, a 2020 British Canadian sci fi horror movie. Andrea Riseborough stars, here, as Tasya Vos, an assassin who uses other peoples bodies, by using an implant in their brain to transfer herself in and out of their body. But when she becomes stuck in a hosts body, played by Christopher Abbott, her life is at risk, especially when that angry host gains access to her memories, and threatens her whole family. Rossif Sutherland, Tuppence Middleton , Sean Bean and Jennifer Jason Leigh(!) also star, with Brandon Cronenberg(yes, son of director David Cronenberg) directs. And it gets a 93% on Rotten Tomatoes. K. Austin Collins of Rolling Stone said “it’s pure cinematic dysmorphia: to watch this movie carefully is to feel completely out of place, right alongside the people onscreen.” But too scary for me. And, finally, Hulu has NASA Science Live: Perseverance Mars Rover & the Search for Ancient Life! Yes, if you couldn’t get enough of this week’s mission to Mars, like me, Hulu has the NASA coverage of it. This details information on the Perseverance rover itself, and what it will be looking for, like ancient microbial life. And then Hulu has the actual landing covered with ABC News Live Presents: Mission to Mars Live! And there is no rating on IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes for these shows, but, obviously, they’re some of the best shows streaming. So nerd out with some of the most absorbing science news online.
The buzziest add on Netflix this week is probably Ginny & Georgia, a 2021 coming of age romantic drama series. Antonia Gentry stars as Ginny, an angsty young woman who was born to her outlandish mother Georgia(Brianne Howey) when she was only 15, Ginny‘s age now. when they move to a New England town, Ginny‘s beautiful and erratic mom creates more buzz than any girl would like, but it turns out, Georgia has a very checkered past that includes some illegal activities, so there’s some crime drama here, too. Diesel La Torraca plays Ginny’s younger brother, and Scott Porter, Sara Wiesglass, Katie Douglas, Chelsea Clark and Jennifer Robertson also star, and there are 10 episodes now available for viewing. And though this has been compared to The Gilmore Girls a lot, even by the show itself, the writing isn’t nearly up-to-snuff for such flattering comparisons. And it’s way too melodramatic and soapy for me. But it gets a 7.4/10 on IMDb, so someone must like it. You decide. Luckily Netflix also offers The Last Bastion, a 2019 Peruvian historical drama. This follows the Robles family, who own a farm in the town of Magdalena, outside of Lima, as the country moves toward independence, and the Argentine military moves in to quell insurrection. Giovanni Arce stars as Paco Robles, and Priscila Espinoza as Rosa María Robles, patriarch and matriarch of the family and Sergio Galliani, Laly Goyzueta, Mayra Nájar, Diego Lombardi, Fernando Bakovic and Mayella Lloclla also star, and Marco Moscos directed. And there are 10 episodes to binge on now. And there are no ratings of it online, but it’s a wonderful treatment of the dawn of revolution, from the perspective of the common man. And it’s historical drama. I’m watching. But Netflix also has Age of Samurai: Battle for Japan, a 2021 docuseries. This covers the dawn of the Samurai Era in Japan, beginning in 1551, with the death of Oda Nobuhide, a powerful feudal lord and head of the Oda clan, when Japan was undergoing civil wars after it’s central government collapsed. So warring groups of “knights” or Samurai, clashed very violently, fighting for territorial power. And all this is reenacted with much blood and drama, with commentary from experts. And there are now 6 episodes available, narrated by Hiro Kanagawa, and directed by Stephen Scott. And though it only gets a 50% on Rotten Tomatoes(it does romanticize samurais too much) it gets an incredible 7.5/10 on IMDb. Pure Wow calls it an “exciting new docuseries,” and I agree. It’s on my list. Also new on Netflix is Canine Intervention, a 2021 animal reality series. Here, dog trainer extraordinaire Jas Leverette, who works with dogs deemed “violent” and often on their owners’ last hope of saving their beloved pets from euthanasia. So Leverette gets not only into the dog’s psyche and figures out what they’re afraid of, but also into the owner’s mind, to help them treat their dog well, and not create more anxiety and fear for the animal. He treats dogs like Lady Macbeth, who had lived on the streets of L.A. and even been shot, and so was very obviously a scarred and fearful individual. So he brought her home with him, to replace her fearful response with a dopamine one. He’s my new hero! There are 6 episodes in all, featuring 5 different dogs, and one animal rescue in the Mojave desert. There are very few reviews of this yet, but Joel Keller of the Decider says to “stream it…[its]a feel good show when we see dogs get past their aggressive behaviors because they’re trained by someone who not only cares, but knows canine emotions as well as any human we’ve seen.” I’m watching. And finally, Netflix has added Crazy About Her, a 2021 Spanish romantic comedy. In a wild night of partying, Adri(Álvaro Cervantes) falls in love with Carla (Susana Abaitua), and can’t forget about her. When he finds she’s in a mental health facility, where he isn’t allowed to visit, he goes out of his way to get admitted…as a patient. Though he may not be able to get out so easily, Adri finds that Carla is manic-depressive, and doesn’t necessarily want to leave the treatment center, even if she’s getting better. And the other patients aren’t treated as weirdos, but people with ailments that need to be treated. Luis Zahera, Aixa Villagrán, Txell Aixendri, Eduardo Antuña and Clara Segura also star, with Dani de la Orden directing. And it gets a 6.4/10 on IMDb, and Tessa Smith of Mama’s Geeky says “[its] a unique and interesting romantic comedy that also does a great job of shedding light on the stigma of mental illness.” I’m definitely tuning in. But be sure to get the subtitles, since, as usual, the dubbing stinks
Okay, so Amazon has only a few adds this week The Informer, a 2020 crime thriller. Joel Kinnaman stars as Peter Koslow, a former special operations soldier who is working undercover for the FBI to help dismantle the Polish mafia in New York. But, of course, things go south, and a cop is killed, so Koslow is asked to return to Bale Hill prison to work to destroy the cartel from the inside. Rosamund Pike(!), Common, Clive Owen, Ana de Armas and Martin McCann also star, while Andrea Di Stefano(Before Night Falls) directed. But this is your standard fare crime fare, with nothing new, and plenty of old. It gets a 62% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Michael Ordoña of the L.A. Times saying it “isn’t bad. It’s just nothing special.” I agree. But Amazon also has Drishyam 2, a 2021Indian Malayalam-language thriller. This follows the now affluent life of Georgekutty(Mohanlal), a movie theatre owner and aspiring film-maker, and his family. But he becomes the main suspect in a murder at a police station, when a witness to his presence at the station, is released from jail, and tells his story. Georgekutty confesses to the murder, but is he actually guilty? Meena, Siddique, Ansiba Hassan, Esther Anil and Asha Sarath also star, and Jeethu Joseph directed. This is a sequel to Drishyam, the 2015 police procedural, which is currently unavailable on Amazon, but Arpit Nayak of The Movie Buff writes “this is a sequel that more than matches the first part.” And it gets an incredible 8.8/10 on IMDb. I’m watching. And, finally, Amazon has Season 1 of The Paris Murders, a 2013 French crime drama series. Odile Vuillemin stars as Chloe Saint-Laurent, an intuitive criminal profiler in Paris, who must work with Detective Rocher(Philippe Bas), a cranky and more conventional policeman, to solve a brutal murder. Diane Dassigny, Jean-Michel Martial, Valérie Dashwood, Vanessa Valence and Juliette Roudet also star, and there are 12 episodes to gorge on before March 31. And the series gets an amazing 7.6/10 on IMDb, and it won the La Rochelle TV Award for Best Television series at the Festival de la Fiction TV in 2013. I’m definitely tuning in.
So sit back and binge this weekend, on classics, old and new, on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Enjoy!