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 exciting new adds this week, so let’s get started!
Hulu‘s biggest add this week is Blood Moon, the last of Season 2 of the Into the Dark series. Here, Megalyn Echikunwoke plays Esme, a new woman in a small Southwestern town, who’s awfully protective of her 10 yea-old son Luna(Yonas Kibreab), in fact, she keeps him behind bars at night. And as people start to disappear and die horrible deaths in town, it begins to become clear that Luna can be a danger during the full moon. Joshua Dov, Gareth Williams, Marco Rodríguez, Jack Yang and Jan Munroe also star, while Emma Tammi(The Wind) directs. And it gets a 6/10 on IMDb, with Ready Steady Cut calling it a rework of “an age-old horror setup for a refreshingly grounded and restrained story of motherhood.” I agree, and Echikunwoke gives a great performance. I’m watching. Hulu also offers WeWork: Or the Making and Breaking of a $47 Billion Unicorn, a 2021 documentary film. This looks at the fabulously successful(at first) company WeWork of the 2010‘s, an office sharing venture led by guru/entrepreneur Adam Neumann, who seemed to lead investors to hand over big bucks, while investing little (but hype) into the company himself, not even office furniture. Director Jed Rothstein (The China Hustle) tells the story with lots of drama and first-hand accounts of former employees and investors, but perhaps not enough facts about the downfall as one would like. Still, it’s a thrilling, exciting ride through what might have otherwise been a dull story. It premiered at the 2021 SXSW Film Festival, and it gets a 7.1/10 on IMDb. It’s on my list. Hulu also has added Hysterical, it’s in-house documentary about women in comedy. It features comedians like Margaret Cho, Kathy Griffin, Fortune Feimster, Rachel Fienstein and others, and tells of their fight to become comedians in a very male dominated world. Directed by Andrea Nevins (Tiny Shoulders: Rethinking Barbie, The Other F Word), this movie tells of their struggle to deal with everything from casual misogyny from employers, to the threat of sexual harassment, all while trying to break through a glass ceiling that’s still partially intact. And this important doc gets a 6.4/10 on IMDb, and TV Insider calls it “fascinating documentary from director Nevins that more than lives up to its billing.” I’m tuning in. And, finally, Hulu has Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport, the award-winning 2000 documentary. This film, narrated by Judi Dench, tells the story of 12 Jewish children of the 10,000 whose lives were saved by Kindertransport, an operation got children out of Nazi Germany, Czechoslavakia and Austria. These people, now in their 60′s and 70′s, tell of leaving their parents, perhaps never to see them again, and going to foster families in England, to start lives ever changed by this move. And included with these fascinating interviews is lots of archival footage of wartime England, and Europe, too. It’s all written and directed by Mark Jonathan Harris(The Long Way Home), and the film won numerous awards, including the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. And it gets an amazing 91% on Rotten Tomatoes, and Marc Savlov of the Austin Chronicle wrote its “still resonating as powerfully today as when these black events first unfolded.” I’m definitely watching.
The biggest add on Netflix this week is probably The Serpent, a limited mystery/thriller series. Tahar Rahim stars as the notorious serial killer(in Asia, especially) Charles Sobhraj, who posed as a gem dealer and travelled Thailand, India and Nepal in the 70’s, killing young backpackers, and selling stolen gems, along with his girlfriend, Marie-Andrée Leclerc, played by Jenna Coleman. Billy Howle(Dunkirk) plays Dutch diplomat Herman Knippenberg who investigated the deaths of some Dutch citizens, and got onto Sobhraj‘s trail, thereby endangering his own life. Ellie Bamber, Amesh Edireweera, Tim McInnerny, Chicha Amatayakul, İlker Kaleli and Mathilde Warnier also star, and there are 8 episodes available to binge on now. And it gets a 7.7/10 on IMDb, with Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun Times calling it “a fascinating, exotic, lurid period-piece true-crime story about a suave, identity-switching serial killer who makes Tom Ripley seem like an amateur.” But it may be too tense for me. Luckily, Netflix also has Concrete Cowboy, a 2021 drama. Here, Caleb McLaughlin plays Cole, a teen with troubles, who is sent from his home in Detroit to Philadelphia to live with his dad(Idris Elba!)Harp, who woks with wayward youth and runs the Fletcher Street Stables. Unfortunately, Harp spends most of his money on his horses, and has a horse as a roomie, so life with his father doesn’t suit Cole at first. But neighbors like Nessie(Lorraine Toussaint), and his cousin Smush(Jharrel Jerome) offer friendship that makes his life easier. Method Man, Jamil Prattis, Ivannah Mercedes and Byron Bowers also star, and Ricky Staub directs. And it gets a respectable 78% on Rotten Tomatoes and Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times(again) says it “is gorgeously photographed, with many of the riding scenes taking place in the magic sunset hour or under the lights of the city and in the rain…” I’m definitely watching. Also new on Netflix is Madame Claude, a 2021 French drama. This film from director Sylvie Verheyde(Confessions of a Child of the Century) tells the (mostly) true tale of Fernande Grudet (or Madame Claude), played by Karole Rochet, the head of the most popular brothel in 1960’s Paris, serving politicians and movie stars, and so becoming powerful herself, until one girl threatens to bring her empire down. Garance Marillier(Raw), Roschdy Zem, Pierre Deladonchamps, Liah O’Prey, Paul Hamy and Mylène Jampanoï also star, and Veheyde wrote the script for this film, as well as directing. And it gets a 5.5/10 on IMDb. The Review Geek calls it “an interesting biographical drama…….Ideas around empowerment, femininity and the patriarchy are all clear to see, but they’re never expressed in a way that feels overbearing or forced.” It’s on my list, but there’s plenty of nudity, sex and erotica, so don’t watch with the kiddos. Netflix has also added At Eternity’s Gate, the 2018 biopic. Willem Dafoe(!) stars as Vincent Van Gogh, in the later years of his life, struggling to paint what he sees, always driven by that drive to create. And director Julian Schnabel(The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) gives us a much more measured and fair view of Van Gogh, a man ostracized and even committed to a hospital for being odd and idiosyncratic, not mad, and embracing the idea put forth by Van Gogh biographers Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith that his “suicide” was the result only of a mischievous accident. Rupert Friend stars as Theo van Gogh, Oscar Isaac as Gauguin, and Mads Mikkelsen, Emmanuelle Seigner, Niels Arestrup and Stella Schnabel also star. Dafoe was nominated for an Academy Award in 2019 for his role here, as well as a Golden Globe, and won the Fondazione Mimmo Rotella Award at the Venice International Film Festival, as well. And it gets a 78% on Rotten Tomatoes, and Kevin Maher of the Times(UK) wrote “reflecting the fundamental upset in Van Gogh, it articulates better than any “traditional” biopic before the sense of an artist struggling with the limits of the visual, and reaching farther, for something beyond.” It’s beauty is not to be missed. And, finally, Netflix has Irul, a 2021 Malaysian/Indonesian crime thriller. Alex Parayil (Soubin Shahir) and his girlfriend Archana Pillai (Darshana Rajendran) take a off-the- grid weekend, no cell phones allowed, and run into trouble when their car breaks down, and they slowly come to realize the person who offers them shelter is more sinister than they realized. Fahadh Faasil, Jipa John and Mashar Hamsa also star, and Naseef Yusuf Izuddin directs in his feature film debut. And it gets a 6.2/10 on IMDb. Litty Simon of Onmanorama calls it a “spooky thriller will keep you guessing until the very end.”
Amazon has no big obvious adds this week, but thee are some gems hidden here and there, like Return of the Hero, the 2018 French period comedy. Jean Dujardin(The Artist) plays Captain Charles-Grégoire Neuvil, a ridiculous figure, who goes off to fight in the Napoleonic Wars, he jilts Pauline(Noémie Merlant), so her wiser sister Elisabeth(Mélanie Laurent)forges love letters from him, which lead everyone in Burgundy to believe he died a hero in battle. Which is fine, until he returns, weaving a fantastic web of lies, and Elisabeth tries to take him down and teach him a lesson. Féodor Atkine, Christophe Montenez, Evelyne Buyle, Christian Bujeau and Fabienne Galula also star, and Laurent Tirard(Molière) directed. It’s a wonderful farce, and it gets an 80% on Rotten Tomatoes. Wendy Ide of the Observer (UK) wrote “the main pleasure here is the sparky chemistry between Laurent’s screwball-style smart cookie heroine and Dujardin’s lovable rogue.” I’m tuning in. Amazon also offers the first season of Aber Bergen, a 2016 Norwegian legal drama series. Ellen Dorritt Petersen plays Elea Bergen and Odd‑Magnus Williamson plays Erik Aber, two divorced defense attorneys who must maneuver their own personal difficulties to defend their clients and save the law firm they’ve built up together. Each episode is a stand alone story, with murder and medical malpractice just some of the cases they work. Lykke Kristine Moen, Line Verndal, Torgny Gerhard Aanderaa and Siv Torin Knudsen Petersen also star, and there are 10 episodes to feast on before the end of April, when they disappear into the MHz Choice zone, only to be seen with a monthly payment of $7.99. And the series gets a stunning 7.4/10 on IMDb, while winning multiple awards in Norway along the way. I’m definitely watching. And, finally, Amazon has Season 1 of The Cliff, a 2014 Icelandic mystery series. Dóra Jóhannsdóttir plays Inga, a policewoman who goes to investigate a near death at a local and controversial cliff, said to have a soul and supernatural powers, due to be destroyed for an electrical project. Soon Helgi(Björn Hlynur Haraldsson), a male inspector from Reykjavik, is bought in to help, and together, they investigate the continuing strange occurrences. Herdís Þorvaldsdóttir, Thorir Sæmundsson, Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir and Hilmar Jonsson also star, and there are 4 episodes to catch before the end of the month, when this too, disappears from the Amazon Prime landscape, only to be viewed with a PBS Masterpiece membership. And it gets a 6.9/10 on IMDb, and has won an Edda Award, as well as multiple nominations, in Iceland last year. I’m tuning in. I love a mystery.
So sit back and binge this weekend, on classics, old and new, on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Enjoy!