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 most wonderful add this week is Farewell, Amor, the 2020 American drama. Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine plays Walter, here, an Angolan immigrant who has worked seventeen years in NYC as a cabbie, finally able to acquire visas to bring his wife and daughter from Angola to join him, but the long absence has left it’s mark on their relationships, leaving them almost strangers. His wife, Esther(Zainab Jah), struggles with the new city and culture, while his daughter Sylvia(Jayme Lawson) suffers culture shock too, but is also intrigued, and as a dancer, she works her way toward performing. Joie Lee, Nana Mensah, Marcus Scribner, Felipe Almonte and Brandon Lamar also star, and Ekwa Msangi makes her amazing feature film debut as director. This premiered at Sundance last year as a nominee for the Grand Jury Prize, went on to win several awards, including Best Feature Film at the Denver International Film Festival and Best First Feature for Msangi at the Philadelphia Film Festival. And it gets a stunning 98% on Rotten Tomatoes. It’s a beautiful, heartbreaking look at the arduous battle to acclimate to a new country, and make your home in an alien world. Claire Shaffer of Rolling Stone wrote “there are no grand statements on how refugees can strive for a better life in America. Instead, we get a tender portrayal of family bonds and collectivity in an uncertain world.” I’m definitely tuning in. Another big add on Hulu this week is kid 90, Soleil Moon Frye‘s(Punky Brewster) inside look at being a child star in the 90‘s. She acts as director and producer of this film, and mainly culls through her extensive home video collection, having always carried a camera with her during her teens, while she worked in television and hung out with other stars who did the same. This included people like Stephan Dorff(The Power of One), Mark-Paul Gosselaar(Saved by the Bell), David Arquette, Jenny Wilson(Troop Beverly Hills) and Heather McComb, but , unfortunately also child actors who didn’t survive their career, like Jonathan Brandis(It) and Sean Caracena. And Moon Frye also covers some of her own difficulties, with things like sexism and objectification, and the pressure of being in a child in a business that Gosselaar recently spoke of as “an adult business. And that’s one of the reasons I don’t want my children in it, is because I don’t feel it’s a place for children.” But it isn’t all sad, with some laughs and joy of teen years thrown in. But you must love Moon Frye, because this is all her, with her life story front and center. And it gets a 75% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Brian Lowry of CNN saying “the destination, frankly, is probably less compelling than the journey. But Frye‘s wide web of contacts offers a compelling window into not only her past, but the very specific cultural moment when it all unfolded.” And Hulu ahs added 1 Night in San Diego, a 2020 comedy. Jenna Ushkowitz(Glee) and Laura Ashley Samuels(Modern Family) star as two friends who take a road trip to San Diego for Comic Con, but when they can’t get tickets, they opt for a wild night on the town…that goes wrong. Adam Rose, Alexandra Daddario, Andrew Elvis Miller, Eric Nelson and Samantha Bailey also star, and Penelope Lawson directed. But this movie is a waste of time, unless you’re missing the worst of high school antics. It gets only a 57% on Rotten Tomatoes, and Roger Moore of Movie Nation wrote “you want to love it, you’re lucky if you find a few moments where “like” isn’t a stretch.” Don’t bother. And, finally, Hulu has added the classic Young Frankenstein, Mel Brooks’ tour de Force comedy of 1974. Gene Wilder stars as the Dr. Frederick Frankenstein, grandson of the infamous Victor, whom he resents for his notoriety and mad experiments, but when he inherits his estate, he returns to Transylvania, and upon reading his journals, decides to take up experiments of his own. Marty Feldman plays Igor(“Eyegor”), Teri Garr(!) plays Inga, Peter Boyle, the monster, and Cloris Leachman(!) plays Frau Blücher. Kenneth Mars, Madeline Kahn(!), Gene Hackman, Richard Haydn and, of course, Mel Brooks also star, and the movie is shot in glorious black and white by cinematographer Gerald Hirschfeld. This is number 13 on American Film Institute’s list of the 100 funniest American movies, and won numerous awards, and was nominated for 2 Academy Awards, including Best Screenplay for Gene Wilder and Mel Brooks. And it gets an incredible 94% on Rotten Tomatoes. Roger Ebert gave it a full four stars, and wrote that its Brooks‘ “most disciplined and visually inventive film (it also happens to be very funny).” I’m watching again.
The biggest new name on Netflix this week is Jennifer Garner, and her new 2021 comedy Yes Day. Garner and Édgar Ramírez play the parents of three kids, played by Jenna Ortega, Julian Lerner and Everly Carganilla who, after a student-teacher conference, decide to have a Yes Day, where they must say yes to anything their kids suggest. Julian Lerner, Everly Carganilla, Megan Stott, June Diane Raphael and Nat Faxon also star, with Miguel ArtetaTthe Good Girl), directing. But this is your run-of-the-mill comedy, with controlled chaos and lots of cute, heartwarming moments. It gets only a 41% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Natalia Winkelman of the New York Times saying “Dad is chased by vindictive birds, Mom picks a fight at a theme park and the kids come to appreciate that, sometimes, adults are right to say no to things – like this movie.” Definitely not for me. But luckily, Netflix has also added The One, a 2021 British sci-fi drama series. This is based on the novel of the same name by John Marrs, where entrepreneur Rebecca Webb (Hannah Ware), boosting of her company The One, with its new process of finding a person’s true love by only their DNA, the perfect and ever lasting match. Which causes problems with existing marriages and relationships, with people taking the test, and finding they aren’t with their one true love. But the real trouble starts when Rebecca‘s past friend and flatmate, Ben(Amir El-Masry), is found at the bottom of the Thames, and Rebecca is implicated. Stephen Campbell Moore, Dimitri Leonidas, Zoë Tapper, Lois Chimimba and Diarmaid Murtagh also star, and there ae 8 episodes to feast on now. And it gets a 6.2/10 on IMDb, and Joel Calfee of Pure Wow writes “the series offers a tense, binge-worthy mystery, where I was never sure which characters I could trust.” I’m tuning in. Also new on Netflix is Coven of Sisters, a 2021 Spanish historical drama. This takes place in the Basque country in Spain, in 1609, when Basque women are persecuted, by the Spanish government, hunted down and burnt at the stake, all singing and dancing as part of Sabbath rituals. Amaia Aberasturi, Jone Laspiur and Yune Noguieras play a few of the village women jailed for daring to practice their religion and Alex Brendemühl plays Judge Rostegui, one of their inquisitors. Daniel Fanego, Daniel Chamorro, Elena Úriz and Irati Saez de Urabain also star, and Pablo Agüero directs. And it gets a 67% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Daniel Hart of Ready Steady Cut calling it “a hidden gem – it’s an absorbing, bewitching experience that influences the mind.” Don’t miss it. I won’t. Netflix also offers Mucize, a 2015 Turkish drama. This is the story of a teacher Mahir Ögretmen, played by Talat Bulut, who is sent to eastern Turkey in the 60′s, only to find that the community doesn’t even have a school building. So with the help of some community members, themselves illiterate, he builds a school. Ali Sürmeli, Senay Gürler, Tansel Öngel and Meral Çetinkaya also star, and Mahsun Kirmizigül acted and directed, as well as writing the script. And it gets an amazing 7.6/10 on IMDb. It’s on my list. And, finally, Netflix has Piola, a 2020 Chilean drama. Max Salgado, René Miranda and Ignacia Uribe star as three teens interested in rap, but finding poverty and inequality a masterful opponent. Javier Castillo, Steevens Benjamin, Andrés Rebolledo, Alejandro Trejo and Paula Zúñiga also star, while Luis Alejandro Pérez directed this film, as well as writing the script and the raps used therein. Salgado and Foco won Best Actor at the Santiago International Film Festival in 2020 and won the Best Ibero-American Fiction First Feature Award at the Guadalajara Film Festival. And it gets a 7.1/10(!) on IMDb and La Rata of Chile calls it “a faithful portrait, of an honesty as fierce as it is charming, about the last days of youth.” I’m watching.
No, Amazon doesn’t have many new adds this week, and the few they have are mediocre, like Honest Thief, Liam Neeson’s 2020 crime film. Not even worth mentioning. But they do have some adds from earlier this month I have thus far omitted, like Captain Marleau, a French crime series from MHZ Choice. Corinne Masiero plays that title character, an unusual kind of detective and captain of the National Gendarmerie. She wears a deerstalker hat as she tries to solve different crimes in her unique way, with humor and sometimes even, brute force. Jean-Claude Drouot, Aymeric Demarigny, Jérôme Huguet, Robin Causse and Sophie Verbeeck also star, and there are 12 episodes to enjoy in the 1st season now available. But beware, on April 1st, they return to the MHZ Choice realm, only available with a 7.99$ monthly fee. And this series has been nominated for numerous awards in France, and gets an impressive 6.9/10 on IMDb. And MHZ compares her solving style to that of Columbo. So I’m watching. Amazon also offers American Masters – Dorothea Lange: Grab a Hunk of Lightning, a 2014 doc from PBS Living. Dorothea Lange was one of the greatest American photographers of the 20th century, with a life filled with challenges of her own, as well. We all know her Migrant Mother photo, from her 30′s dust bowl work, but she also featured work on the Japanese Internment camps and dealt with other issues of inequity and prejudice. This film is directed by her cinematographer granddaughter Dyanna Taylor, and so gives us some insight into her grandmothers private life and struggles. But the best feature by far of the movie, and covers the scope of Lange’s work, not just her earliest and most famous pieces. And it gets an outstanding 7.4/10 on IMDb. I’m tuning in. And, finally, Amazon has Ran, Akira Kurosawa’s 1985 masterpiece. Here, Kurosawa retells Shakespeare’s King Lear, with Tatsuya Nakadai as Hidetora Ichimonji, an aging Sengoku-period warlord, who decides to divide his kingdom among his three sons, with Taro(Akira Terao), the eldest, receiving the prestigious First Castle, and the remaining two, Jiro(Jinpachi Nezu) and Saburo(Daisuke Ryu), taking supportive roles. But of course, a power struggle ensues, and things begin to fall apart. Mieko Harada, Yoshiko Miyazaki, Mansai Nomura, Hisashi Igawa and Masayuki Yui also star. Ran premiered on May 31, 1985, at the Tokyo International Film Festival, and though it wasn’t submitted in time to be Japan’s entry for the Best Foreign Language Film category of the Oscars, Kurosawa was nominated for Best Director, and designer Emi Wada won for Best Costume Design. And it gets an amazing 98% on Rotten Tomatoes, with many considering this one of Kurosawa‘s best works. Shawn Levy of the Oregonian wrote “In many respects, it’s Kurosawa’s most sumptuous film, a feast of color, motion and sound: Considering that its brethren include Kagemusha, Seven Samurai and Dersu Uzala, the achievement is extraordinary.” I’m definitely watching.
So sit back and binge this weekend, on classics, old and new, on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Enjoy!