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 has one big add this week with Quo Vadis, Aida?, the award-winning 2020 Bosnian war drama. Jasna Đuričić plays Aida Selmanagic, a translator for the United Nations in 1995 Srebrenica, before war has officially broken out, but the Serbian army is poised to invade, leaving residents threatened, but with little protection from an overwhelmed Dutch UN peacekeeping force. She tries to find shelter for her family, as she works as a translator and gets inside information and faces the frustration of being powerless even in her semi-powerful position. Izudin Bajrovic, Boris Ler, Dino Bajrovic, Johan Heldenbergh and Boris Isakovic also star, while Jasmila Zbanic wrote and directed here. This film has won numerous awards this year, including Best International Film Award at the 2021 Gothenburg Film Festival, and it’s nominated for Best International Feature Film at the 93rd Academy Awards. And it gets an incredible 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. David Parkinson of Empire said “this study in chaos and calculation not only makes for harrowingly compelling viewing, but it also exposes the apathy of an international community that simply turned the other way.” Don’t miss it before the Academy Awards. Hulu also has Thelma, a 2017 Norwegian horror movie. This tells a story of college student Thelma, played by Eili Harboe, who upon falling in love with another girl, Anja(Kaya Wilkins) against the wishes of her conservative Christian parents, finds she has awful supernatural powers, that grow more powerful and dangerous as her romance proceeds. Henrik Rafaelsen and Ellen Dorrit Petersen play her disapproving parents, and Grethe Eltervåg, Ingrid Giæver and Anders Mossling also star, and Joachim Trier(Reprise) directed. This film won numerous awards in 2017, including 3 Amanda Awards in Norway, and Best Foreign Language Film at the Houston Film Critics Society Awards and the Denver Film Critics Society. And it gets an impressive 93% on Rotten Tomatoes, and a 7/10 on IMDb. Ann Hornaday of the Washington Post called it “hushed, haunting portrait of a young woman reconciling daughterly duty and her own incipient power, Thelma feels like a stylish, timely allegory for the present moment.” Too scary for me, though. Hulu also offers Shortcut, a 2020 British horror flick. Here, five kids, including Reggie(Zak Sutcliffe), Nolan(Jack Kane) and Queenie(Molly Dew) from an international school go on a road trip in an old bus, only to stop to remove a dead animal from the road, and getting hijacked by a convict with a gun. But there’s far worse up ahead, with a hulking shape blocking their passage through a tunnel. Sophie Jane Oliver, Zander Emlano, Andrei Claude, Terence Anderson and David Keyes also star, with Alessio Liguori directing. If it reminds you of Jeepers Creepers, you’re not the only one. And it only gets a 59% on Rotten Tomatoes, but pickings are slim on Hulu this week. So if you need more horror, with a fairy tale telling, this may be for you. And finally, Hulu has Desierto, a 2015 thriller. Gael García Bernal stars as Moises, a migrant leading a group of refugees trying to cross the Mexican border, when they realize they are being hunted by a vicious sniper(Jeffrey Dean Morgan). So they must fight not only to survive the harsh desert climate and the exhausting crossing, but also the lethal threat of a killer. Alondra Hidalgo, Diego Cataño, Marco Pérez, Oscar Flores and Lew Temple also star, and the director, here, is Jonás Cuarón(son of Gravity director Alfonso). But son Jonás’ work can’t nearly compete with that of his masterful dad(yet), and the film gets a mediocre 63%. But Adam Nayman of Cinema Scope said it “has a certain abstract, conceptual power.” So you decide.
Now Netflix has some big adds this week, it’s biggest being Thunder Force, starring Melissa McCarthy and Octavia Spencer. Spencer plays scientist Emily Stanton, who has come up with a way to imbue regular people with superpowers, in a Chicago overrun by the Miscreants(mutated sociopaths with supernatural powers), thereby saving the city, until former bestie Lydia Berman(McCarthy) shows up, and accidently gives herself one the only doses they have. So the pair go on to fight for control of the city themselves. Jason Bateman stars as the villainous Crab, and Melissa Leo(!), Bobby Cannavale, Sarah Baker, Tyrel Jackson Williams and Melissa Ponzio also star, while Ben Falcone directs. But it gets an unfortunate 25% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Sam Adams of Slate writing its “an action comedy directed by someone without an eye for either action or comedy.” But I’m still watching for the great cast. But Netflix also offers Snabba Cash, a 2021 Swedish crime thriller series. Snabba Cash(EasyMoney) features the intersection of three very different characters, Leya(Evin Ahmad), a single mother bent on success and trying to get investors for her startup, Ravy (Dada Fungula Bozela) the underworld player(and brother-in-law) she owes money to, and Salim(Alexander Abdallah), a singer who attracts her, even though he works for Ravy as a gunman. Ali Alarik, Peter Eggers, Lennox Söderström, Johan Jonason, Robin Nazari and Olle Sarri also star, and there are 6 episodes to binge on now. This is a reboot of the 2010 movie of the same name, but with a female lead, which I love. Evin Ahmad is the reason to watch, with a compelling and powerful performance. And this series gets a 7.3/10(!) on IMDb. Netflix has also added Coded Bias, the 2021 documentary. This important film looks at the very real specter of racial bias in the development of all kinds of tech, but especially in facial recognition. it starts with MIT student Joy Buolamwini finding her face tracking app didn’t work, until she put on a white mask. We then find that most of our AI is based on a white, male bias, reflecting the conscious and unconscious bias of the small group of (mainly) white males who developed it. And director Shalini Kantayya goes on to show how that can have very disturbing and wide-spread consequences in areas like hiring and law enforcement. It’s an important movie for all of us to see, that gets an amazing 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. Randy Myers of the San Jose Mercury News says “Katnayya‘s documentary and its unsettling findings should be mandatory viewing for Silicon Valley innovators.” I agree. I’m tuning in. Also new on Netflix is the short film Two Distant Strangers. This has young graphic designer Carter James, played by Joey Bada$$ trying to get home to his dog after spending the night with Perri(Zaria), his new love interest. But he is caught up by an aggressive cop, played by Andrew Howard, after inadvertently spilling a man’s drink, and being shot. And so when he wakes up the next morning, he tries to change his story, so as not to be killed. But no matter, what he does, the narrative stays the same. This film was directed by Adam McKay and Travon Free, and Free wrote this script in 5 days. This won the Best Short Film Award at the African-American Film Critics Association and is nominated for the 2021 Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film. And it gets a 6.8/10 on IMDb. I’m definitely tuning in. And, finally, Netflix has added Have You Ever Seen Fireflies?, a 2021 Turkish comedy/drama. This tells the story of Gulseren, played by Ecem Erkek, born in Istanbul in the 50′s, a brilliant woman with plans of her own, in a society that wants women at home and submissive. So her arranged marriage doesn’t go as planned, much to the chagrin of her mother Iclal(Devrim Yakut). Her father Nazif (Engin Alkan) is more accepting of her idiosyncrasies, including her love of fireflies. Yılmaz Erdoğan, Merve Dizdar, Bora Akkas, Ushan Çakir, and Bülent Çolak also star, while the award-winning Andaç Haznedaroglu directs. And this movie gets a 6.3/10 on IMDb. Reviewer Aparnna Hajirnis calls it “a wonderfully made film,” and I’m watching.
Amazon has a huge add this week with Them, the new sci-fi horror series. This first season of what will be a yearly horror anthology, has a middle-class black family moving from North Carolina to an all-white neighborhood in 1950‘s Los Angeles, and a situation that at first seems idyllic, despite protests, devolves into a number of serious threats, coming from both outside and inside their home. Ashley Thomas, Deborah Ayorinde, Shahadi Wright Joseph and Melody Hurd star as the Emory family, and Allison Pill, Ryan Kwanten, Abbie Cobb and Pat Healy also star. There are 10 horrifying episodes to watch now, and this series is brought to us by producers Little Marvin(The Time Is Now) and Lena Waithe(Dear White People). And it gets a 6.4/10 on IMDb. Kayla Cobb of the Decider says “Them is truly great bit of horror wrapped around a biting commentary about American racism. … This narrative and acting excellence is consistently complimented by Them‘s beautiful camerawork and inspired soundtrack.” But this is way to scary and upsetting for me. Luckily, Amazon also offers Loudermilk, the dark comedy series from Peter Farrelly and Bobby Mort. Ron Livingston(Adaptation, Swingers) plays Loudermilk, a foul mouthed character, always in an even fouler mood, and a recovering alcoholic working as a rehab counselor. Endearing himself to no one, he struggles to like himself and make connections. Will Sasso, Anja Savcic, Laura Mennell, Brian Regan and Eric Keenleyside also star, and we get two seasons here, with a total of 20 episodes. And this award-winning series gets an incredible 7.7/10 on IMDb, and David Wiegand of the San Francisco Chronicle said it “stands out for several reasons, first among them, the show’s beautifully realized scripts, followed closely behind by fascinating performances.” It’s on my list. And finally, Amazon has added Cold Skin, a 2018 French/Spanish sci-fi horror movie. Based on the novel of the same name by Albert Sánchez Piñol, this follows an unnamed young man(David Oakes) who travels to a remote island near the Arctic Circle in 1914, to replace a meteorologist for a year’s service there. They find the scientist missing, assumed deceased, and the young man decides to stay, with a gruff caretaker, Gruner(Ray Stevenson), as his only companion. But he starts to find strange rock circles on the island, and notes from the dead weather official talking of weird creatures invading from the sea that make it clear danger lurks nearby. Aura Garrido, John Benfield, Ben Temple, Iván González and Winslow Iwaki also star, and Xavier Gens(Budapest) directed. And it gets a 6/10 on IMDb. Richard Whittaker of the Houston Chronicle called it “[Gens] turns the vacation destination of Lanzarote into the ends of the Earth, and you’ll feel that chill on your soul.” I’m tuning in.
So sit back and binge this weekend, on classics, old and new, on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Enjoy!