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 might be Cruel Summer, the new YA thriller series from executive producer Jessica Biel and Freeform tv. This takes place in Skylin, Texas in the 90‘s, when popular girl Kate Wallis(Olivia Holt) disappears, which is odd enough, but it gets even odder when Jeanette Turner(Chiara Aurelia) makes herself over to take Kate’s place, dyeing her hair, and undergoing a complete transformation to gain Kate’s boyfriend Jamie(Froy Gutierrez) and others in the crowd. So people start to become suspicious, and Jeanette is eventually suspected of having a hand in Kate‘s disappearance. Brooklyn Sudano, Harley Quinn Smith, Michael Landes, Sarah Drew and Barrett Carnahan also star, and there are 2 episodes now available, with a new on dropping each Tuesday, for a total of 7 this season. And though it can be predictable, it gets a very respectable 89% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 7.7/10 on IMDb. Kristen Lopez of indieWire writes “both Holt and Aurelia’s acting keeps things moving, as does the series’ technical production. This is a delicious slice of fun akin to a great beach read.” Dig in. But Hulu also offers the award-winning The Man Who Sold His Skin, the 2020 Tunisian drama. Yahya Mahayni plays Sam Ali, a young man who escapes to Lebanon after speaking too frankly(and publicly) about freedom to his girl in Syria during the Arab Spring. Hard up for cash and desperately seeking a visa to get to Europe to rescue his now married girlfriend, Abeer(Dea Liane) home, he agrees to allow the use of his back for artist, to have the visa printed there. Whereupon he can travel, but also must attend art shows and museums as an exhibit. Koen De Bouw stars as that villainous artist, and Monica Bellucci, Saad Lostan, Darina Al Joundi, Jan Dahdouh and Wim Delvoye also star, and Kaouther Ben Hania(Beauty and the Dogs) directs. And this movie won Best Screenplay at the Stockholm International Film Festival, Best Actor for Mahayni at the Venice Film Festival, and is nominated for Best International Feature Film. And it gets an amazing 94% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Tomris Laffly of Roger Ebert.com calling it ” compulsively watchable… a breezy watch, with an assured filmmaker gently steering it through a rough-around-the-edges tale.” Watch before Sunday, I know I will. And Hulu has also added Greta Thunberg: a Year to Change the World, the 2021 PBS documentary series. This 3 part series documents the year that Greta Thunberg took a year off from school, in 2019, to travel the world, speaking on the vital issue of climate change and its dangerous effects, like drought, the retreat of glaciers, ocean acidification and flash flooding. . Accompanied by her devoted father, Svante Thunberg, she crosses the globe in imaginative and sometimes exhausting ways, like traversing the Atlantic in a catamaran so as to stay carbon neutral, all to bring action on this devastating issue. Along the way, she talks the natural historian David Attenborough and attends climate strikes all over the world. This series points out the enormous sacrifices she (and her family) have made in order to do that, as a young woman with autism, for whom large crowds and the accompanying noise bring with sensory overload. Its amazing and impressive viewing and a good way to get acquainted with one of the most exceptional and principled people around. It was produced by BBC One, and the show is narrated by Paul McGann. And, though it’s too early for any reliable ratings on Rotten Tomatoes, Emily Baker of Inews Uk calls it “a composed and noble film packed full of science.” I’m definitely tuning in. And, finally, Hulu has added Sister of the Groom, the 2020 comedy. Alicia Silverstone stars as Audrey, a woman having a bit of a midlife crisis, reaching her 40th birthday, while her career is tanking, and her body hurting, who travels with her husband Ethan(Tom Everett Scott) to attend the wedding of her brother Liam (Jake Hoffman) to a woman she hates Clemence(Mathilde Ollivier), who, of course, has to be a young, beautiful model. And, then things get worse when Audrey realizes her ex-boyfriend Isaac(Charlie Bewley) has been invited to the event as well. Ronald Guttman, Noah Silver, Abigail Marlowe, Mark Blum and Julie Engelbrecht also star, and Amy Miller Gross wrote and directed here. But Gross doesn’t go for the easy laughs here, with darker characters with bigger problems than most romcoms. And the film gets only a 47% on Rotten Tomatoes, but Christy Lemire of Filmweek calls it “light, it’s slight, it’s a farce… The escape of it is kind of fun.” You decide.
The most ballyhooed add on Netflix this week has to be Shadow and Bone, the 2021 limited fantasy series. Based on the famed Grisha trilogy by Leigh Bardugo, this tells the tale of orphan mapmaker, Alina Starkov, played by Jessie Mei Li, who finds she has extraordinary powers that could save her world from a supernatural darkness that threatens to envelop it, and trains to become a Grisha, a magical soldier in an elite army. Archie Renaux plays her best friend Mal, and Freddy Carter plays Kaz, a rogue in search of bounty. Amita Suman, Kit Young, Ben Barnes, Danielle Galligan, Calahan Skogman and the great Zoë Wanamaker also star. There are 8 episodes to feast on now, and the series gets an stunning 8.3/10 on IMDb, and a 91% on Rotten Tomatoes. Some call it standard fantasy fare, but Steve Greene of indieWire says its “an impressive fantasy series adaptation with more than magic on Its mind.” Its on my list. But the more impressive add for me is Stowaway, the 2021 sci-fi suspense movie. Anna Kendrick stars as medical researcher Zoe Levenson, part of a three person crew, including biologist David Kim(Daniel Dae Kim) and captain Marina Barnett(Toni Colette!), who set out for their two-year mission to Mars. Unfortunately, after take-off, they discover an accidental stowaway, Michael(Shamier Anderson), which throws a serious monkey wrench into their plans, since they only have enough oxygen for three people. As the captain and Kim contemplate ending Michael‘s life to save everyone else, Zoe fights desperately to save his life, and the mission, as well. And Joe Penna of Arctic(with Mads Mikkelson) directs. And like my favorite sci-fi, there’s a lot of science fact included as well, with up-to-date information aplenty. And this movie gets a 75% on Rotten Tomatoes. Charlotte O’Sullivan of the Evening Standard(UK) writing “s just as intricate and immersive [as Arctic].” I’m definitely tuning in. Netflix also offers the wonderful Season 1 of Life in Color with David Attenborough, a 2021 nature doc from the BBC. Here, Attenborough shows us how color can enhance an animal’s life, even it’s life span and thereby being a great factor in evolution. In the first episode, we even learn of the earliest animals on Earth, who couldn’t see color very well, leading most early animals to be dark or black. We then move on to mandrills using their bright colors as assets for gaining a mate, and hummingbirds, too, availing brilliant hues humans may not even see, in order to acquire a partner. We even learn about how ultraviolet light(which humans cannot see) is used by animals like fiddler crabs, through he use of a two camera set-up, one of the cameras recording only ultraviolet light. It’s always fascinating and humbling stuff that Attenborough presents, but this series is especially beautiful, as well. And it gets an incredible 8.7/10 on IMDb. Joel Keller of the Decider calls it “informative and visually stunning, of course, but the technology behind some of its more interesting scenes is what makes us want to keep watching.” I’m definitely watching. Also new on Netflix is Zero, an Italian superhero series. But this isn’t your average superhero, for Omar(played by Giuseppe Dave Seke), as black man in a poor neighborhood in Milan feels he already invisible, but when he finds that he can actually make his body invisible to the eye, he becomes determined to save his neighborhood, with the help of his friends. Haroun Fall, Beatrice Grannò, Virginia Diop, Daniela Scattolin and Madior Fall also star, and this series is brought to us by creator and comic artist Menotti. And it gets a 5.5/10 on IMDb, but that’s going up and with good reason. It’s wonderful to see because, like Joel Keller of the Decider wrote its “a fun superhero show that’s not only grounded in real life, but explores a population that hasn’t been represented in Italian shows to this point.” I’m tuning in. And, finally, Netflix has added Bring It On Ghost, a 2016 supernatural series from Thailand. Here, med student Park Bong-pal(Ok Taec-yeon) uses his ability to see ghosts to make money working as an exorcist, in order to be able to afford surgery to take that gift away(?). But then he meets Kim Hyun-ji (Kim So-hyun), who became an ever wandering spirit after a traffic accident. Together, they go on to fight even stronger spirits together, and Bong-pal realizes that all ghosts aren’t bad. Kwon Yul, Lee Seung-woo, Kim Min-sang, Son Eun-seo, Lee Do-yeon and Kang Ki-young also star, and there are 10 episodes to enjoy now. And it gets an amazing 7.7/10 on IMDb. But there are some scary special effects, so beware!
Okay, Amazon has added very little of note this week, but there are a few movies I omitted last week, like Cézanne et Moi, a 2012 French drama. This studies the lives and turbulent friendship of painter Paul Cézanne(Guillaume Gallienne) and writer Émile Zola(Guillaume Canet), which started when they were schoolboys, but hit difficulties especially when Zola is acclaimed, and Cézanne’s star appears to wane, with the artist defiantly painting throughout. And old age looms before both men and their productivity in later years. Alice Pol, Déborah François, Gérard Meylan and Pierre Yvon also star and Danièle Thompson wrote the script here, as well as directing. It was named as one of four films on the shortlist for the French submission for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film at the 89th Academy Awards, and it gets a 6/10 on IMDb. Ann Hornaday of the Washington Post called it “a touching evocation of friendship, brotherly competition and artistic courage at the cusp of a new century.” I’m tuning in. Amazon also has Somewhere, Sofia Coppla‘s 2010 drama. Stephen Dorff plays Johnny Marco, a hard-living movie star recuperating from injury in Beverly Hills at the legendary Chateau Marmont hotel, when his daughter Cleo (Elle Fanning) shows up. And through her presence, not always welcome, we realize the emptiness of Marco‘s existence, with hookups aplenty, but little emotional involvement. Chris Pontius, Erin Wasson, Alexandra Williams and Michelle Monaghan also star. Somewhere received the Golden Lion Award for best picture at the 67th Venice International Film Festival and it gets a 70% on Rotten Tomatoes. Andrew O’Hehir of Salon called it “a fascinating, mature, beautifully crafted work of art, from a director who continues to surprise us. Sofia Coppola has absorbed the Italian avant-garde more completely than her father ever did, and has made a film about celebrity in the vein of Antonioni and Bertolucci, a film about Hollywood in which she turns her back on it, possibly forever.” It’s on my list. And finally, Amazon has Mary Queen of Scots, the 2018 historical biopic, on it’s IMDb channel(free). Saoirse Ronan stars as the great queen of Scotland, a Catholic, with Margot Robbie starring as her cousin Elizabeth the first, Queen of England, a Protestant. And Elizabeth sees her cousin as a great threat to her power and right to the throne, so seeking to weaken her opponent in any and every way possible. As a result, Mary has to safely maneuver a minefield of plots put together by her English enemies, ending with her fleeing Scotland, eventually losing custody of her child, being vilified by English and Scottish protestants as a ‘harlot,’ and finally, losing her life to Elizabeth’s executioner. Jack Lowden, Joe Alwyn, Gemma Chan, David Tennant(!),James McArdle and Guy Pearce also star, and Josie Rourke directed. This film received three nominations at the 72nd British Academy Film Awards, and two nominations at the 91st Academy Awards. In addition, Robbie earned nominations for a SAG Award and BAFTA Award for Best Supporting Actress. And it gets a 62% on Rotten Tomatoes, and Mark Kermode of the Observer(UK) calling it “a full-blooded tale of personal and political rivalries told with wit, flair and passion.” I love historical drama. I’m watching.
So sit back and binge this weekend, on classics, old and new, on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Enjoy!