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 interesting new adds this week, so let’s get started!
Hulu’s biggest add this week has to be Ammonite, the 2020 historical romance. Kate Winslet stars as real life British palaeontologist Mary Anning, a phenom in the 1800’s who found thousands of fossils like a complete ichthyosaur, and plesiosaur, as well, thereby changing the contemporary ideas about prehistoric life in Britain and on earth. Here, in this speculative romance, she takes Charlotte Murchison, an unhappy wife, under her wing, which results in a blooming of Murchison and their friendship, as well. Fiona Shaw(!), Gemma Jones(!), James McArdle and Alec Secăreanu also star, with Francis Lee(God’s Own Country) directing. This premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, of last year, and has been nominated for numerous awards this season, including Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, as well as Cinematography. Stefan Pape of Common Sense Media said, “Ammonite is a film that thrives in its mood, a beautifully shot, visceral piece of filmmaking by Francis Lee, that shows off his ability as a storyteller, so poetic with his camera.” And it gets a 68% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 6.5/10 on IMDb. I’m definitely watching. Hulu also has Boss Level, the 2021 sci-fi comedic thriller. Frank Grillo(Warrior) stars as Roy Pulver, a retired special ops soldier who wakes to find himself in a time loop, living the same deadly day over and over, being attacked by ruthless assassins, with grenades, machetes and even helicopters, constantly, only to end in his death. After living through the day countless times, and with countless more to come, he finds that this all has something to do with a top secret machine his ex Jemma(Naomi Watts) oversees, and that her evil boss Col. Ventor(Mel Gibson) is behind it all. Michelle Yeoh, Ken Jeong,Will Sasso, Annabelle Wallis and Selina Lo also star, while Joe Carnahan(The Grey) directs. But, boy, this is a super-violent, yet boring movie, with very little comedy. So, though it gets a 74% on Rotten Tomatoes, I’m not watching. I agree with Elisabeth Vincentelli of the New York Times, who writes its “an increasingly tedious amount of repetitive violence played for laughs…” I’d rather watch paint dry. Luckily, Hulu has also added Beirut, the 2018 drama. Jon Hamm stars, here, as former U.S. diplomat Martin Skiles, who is called back into service, in 1980’s Beirut, to save a colleague from a group that may have been responsible in the death of his family. Rosamund Pike plays Sandy Crowder, a CIA operative tasked with keeping him alive, not an easy job, as they see him as “damaged goods,” heavily drinking and depressed. Dean Norris, Mark Pellegrino, Kate Fleetwood and Leïla Bekhti also star, and Brad Anderson(The Machinist) directed. And this dark, brooding spy pic gets an 82% on Rotten Tomatoes, and Demetrios Matheou of the London Evening Standard wrote “Tony Gilroy‘s script is intricate and intelligent, with an appropriately cynical view of US foreign relations. And Hamm makes hay with his best role since Mad Men.” It’s on my list. And, finally, Hulu has added Neil Young: Heart of Gold, the 2006 concert movie from director Jonathan Demme. This covers two nights of concerts by Young in Nashville‘s storied Ryman Auditorium, and features some of Young’s best songs, including “Old Man,” “I Am a Child,” and “Old King,” and performances by some of his best collaborators, like Emmy Lou Harris(!), Rick Rosas and Ben Keith. And some of the best guitar you’ve heard in ages. The film gets a 90%(!) on Rotten Tomatoes and an amazing 7.7/10 on IMDb. Matt McNally of the BBC said “Neil Young has experimented with film many times, but this is by far the most accessible cinematic treatment of his music; a troubadour at the top of his game.” I’m definitely tuning in.
The biggest add on Netflix this week is probably Moxie, the 2021 teen drama from director Amy Poehler. Hadley Robinson plays Vivian, a shy 16 year-old, who upon discovering the sexual harassment of a new student, Lucy, played by Alycia Pascual-Peña, and inspired by her mother Lisa‘s own activism as a teen, decides to publish an underground zine Moxie, exposing the inequities. And she starts a revolution. Lauren Tsai, Josephine Langford, Patrick Schwarzenegger, Kevin Dorff and Sydney Park also star, and this was based on the 2015 novel of the same name by Jennifer Mathieu. It’s a bit predictable, which may be why Moxie only gets a 65% on Rotten Tomatoes. But I love it’s feminist message, and I agree with Shaun Stacy of Culturess who says “ultimately, Moxie is an inspiring story that teaches us how just one person speaking up can make a difference and lead to a revolution of change.” I’m watching. Netflix also has Aelay, a 2021 Indian Tamil-language comedy-drama. This is the tale of Parthi(Manikandan) returning home to his rural Tamil village after the death of his father, seemingly unmoved and thus shocking his family. The film then revisits the troubled relationship between son and father, Muthukutty(Samuthirakani), with depth and humor. Madhumathi Padmanathan, Akalyadevi B. and S. I. Neelambai also star, and this film is written and directed by Halitha Shameem. And it gets an incredible 7.5/10 on IMDb, and The Hindu calls it “a well-crafted rural film on a problematic father son relationship.” It’s on my list. Netflix also offers Sentinelle, a 2021 French-language thriller. Olga Kurylenko, stars as Clara, a highly trained soldier recently returned to Paris from a highly traumatic tour of duty overseas, suffering PTSD and addiction. So when her supportive sister Tania (Marilyn Lima) is brutally raped one night by a young man from a powerful family who looks to get away with it, Clara seeks revenge. Michel Biel, Andrey Gorlenko, Antonia Malinova and Carole Weyers also star Julien Leclercq(A Bluebird in My Heart) directs. And it gets a 60% on Rotten Tomatoes. Johnny Loftus of the Decider says “[it] balances its beats of emotional trauma against the darker forces of vigilantism. It doesn’t forgive its main character’s drastic actions, but it illustrates pretty well how she got there.” I agree. I’m watching. Also new on Netflix is Nevenka: Breaking the Silence, a 2021 Spanish docuseries. This three-part series covers the story of Nevenka Fernández, a city council person in the town of Ponferrada who won her case against Mayor Ismael Álvarez for sexual harassment in 2001, the first time in Spain. This tells of her harrowing ordeal, including her resignation from the town council, and even her being harassed by the chief prosecutor, José Luis García Ancos, who was subsequently deemed unfit and removed from the case. Director Maribel Sánchez Maroto gives us a grueling look at what a victim of sexual harassment endures, and has to go through, not only to suffer from the crime itself, but to win a case, and bring it to an end. And this enlightening series gets a stunning 7/10 on IMDb. Forbes calls it “an excellent documentary that grips the audience’s attention and gives plenty of food for thought about what this twenty-year old case means today.” I’m definitely tuning in. And, finally, Netflix has Vincenzo, a South Korean crime drama series. Song Joong-ki stars as Vincenzo Cassano, a young lawyer adopted and moved to Italy at 8 by a mafia don, who returns to South Korea to recover a fortune he hid there. But once home, he falls in love and finds he must restore justice there. Jeon Yeo-been, Ok Taec-yeon, Kwak Dong-yeon, Kim Yeo-jin and Yoon Byung-hee also star, and there are 5 episodes now available, with 5 more to come in the next month. And it gets amazing 7.7/10 on IMDb, and the Review Geek writes there’s “certainly a lot to like with this though – and an awful lot of promise too” It’s on my list.
Amazon’s huge add this week is, of course, Coming 2 America, the 2021 sequel to the 1988 classic Coming to America. Yes, Eddie Murphy returns as Prince Akeem, still married to Lisa, but surprised to find he has an elder son, Lavelle(Jermaine Fowler) from a unknown liaison(he was drugged) with Mary Junson(Leslie Jones), that son now grown and poised to take over the throne of Zamunda. But first he has to pass the tests and survive threats from General Izzi(Wesley Snipes). Arsenio Hall(!), Tracy Morgan(!), Shari Headley, KiKi Layne, John Amos(!), Louie Anderson and James Earl Jones(!) also star, while Craig Brewer(Dolemite Is My Name) directs. And, no its not perfect, it only gets a 52% on Rotten Tomatoes, but it is funny. And Melanie McFarland of Salon.com says it “confidently moves to the comedy rhythms of where we are now. And because of its willingness to transform it is a smarter, funnier and ultimately sweeter movie than the legend that begat it.” So I’m watching. Oh, and Amazon also has the original Coming to America, in case you need to refresh your memory. And that’s it for the new movies, but there’s television, like the 1st season of Baron Noir, a 2016 French political drama television series. This tells the tale of Philippe Rickwaert(Kad Merad), a member of Parliament and mayor of Dunkerque, who is seemingly always bent on revenge, especially when his mentor dumps him to save his own campaign. He tries to reinvent himself, creating alliances with his enemies and even some of the shadiest people around(read organized crime). Niels Arestrup, Anna Mouglalis, Hugo Becker, Astrid Whettnall and Lubna Gourion also star, and there are 8 episodes to watch before March 31. And, considering this show gets an incredible 7.8/10 on IMDb and Kad Merad won the Best Actor Award at the L’Association des Critiques de Séries in 2016, that should be easy to do. And this series comes from Topic channel on Amazon, a new streaming channel showing some of the best international programming around for $4.99 a month. And, finally, Amazon offers The Warrior Queen of Jhansi, a 2020 Indian historical epic. This tells the true story of the Rani of Jhansi, Rani Lakshmibai (Devika Bhise), who fought the British Empire during the Indian rebellion of 1857. Rupert Everett stars as her foe Sir Hugh Rose, and Derek Jacobi, Ben Lamb, Jodhi May and Nathaniel Parker also star, and Swati Bhise directed. And, though it gets a mere 28% on Rotten Tomatoes, I love the feminist bent to historical drama here. Leslie Felperin of the Guardian said “altogether it’s a rousing, passionate bit of film-making on a reasonably epic scale, with a cast of hundreds deployed for some big dusty battle scenes, which are duly impressive.” I agree. I’m definitely tuning in.
So sit back and binge this weekend, on classics, old and new, on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Enjoy!