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 Season 4 of The Handmaid’s Tale, the adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s dystopian classic. Elisabeth Moss returns as June, a woman who rebels against Gilead, a conservative misogynistic state which require total submission from women, expecting them only to breed children. This season, June returns to Gilead, to fight against the state, and risks capture, death and torture. Joseph Fiennes, Ann Dowd, Samira Wiley, Bradley Whitford, Max Minghella, Madeline Brewer and Amanda Brugel also star, and Elizabeth Moss actually directs 3 episodes this season! And the series gets an incredible 8.4/10 on IMDb, and Vulture actually writes that “The Handmaid’s Tale gets its mojo back” this season. I’m definitely watching. Hulu has also added Wild Mountain Thyme, a 2020 Irish romantic drama. Emily Blunt stars as Rosemary Muldoon, a young woman determined to win the love of her neighbor, Anthony Reilly(Jamie Dornan), but he’s convinced he’s cursed, and so does his father, Tony Reilly(Christopher Walken), so much so, that he leaves his farm to Anthony‘s cousin Adam(John Hamm) instead of his son. And when Adam shows a more than casual interest in Rosemary, things heat up. Dearbhla Molloy, Tommy O’Neill, Lydia McGuinness, Jon Tenney and Danielle Ryan also star, and John Patrick Shanley(Moonstruck) directed. But this cornball hoke isn’t nearly up to Moonstruck standards, full of Irish stereotypes and pretense, and Irish accents(especially Walken‘s, our narrator) not nearly up to snuff. And it gets only a 27% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Kevin Maher of the Times(UK) writing “paddywhackery of the highest order is delivered in this execrable rom-com that’s almost surreal in its unashamed awfulness.” Better to watch paint dry. Luckily, Hulu also has The Night, a 2020 horror movie. Here, an Iranian couple, Babak(Shabab Hosseini) and Neda(Niousha Jafarian) decide to stay at an empty shadowy old hotel, the Hotel Normandie, after getting lost in downtown Los Angeles late at night, with their baby. They’re greeted by a sinister hotel clerk, played by George Maguire, who offers them the only suite available, and they take it, not realizing their tragic mistake. They find they’re the only guests in the place, but hear noises in the rooms above them and a young boy looms at the door, looking for his mother, only to disappear into the night. And things get worse from there. Leah Oganyan, Kathreen Khavari, Elester Latham, Gia Mora and Michael Graham also star, while Kourosh Ahari directed. This movie has been compared by many to Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, and so, of course, it’s far too scary for me. But it gets an 81% on Rotten Tomatoes, and Carlos Aguilar of the L.A. Times calls it “a goosebumps-inducing affair, “The Night is at its most effectively unsettling when the focus is to evoke fear as opposed to when it physically shows what’s haunting the characters trapped in their respective secret tragedies.” If you need horror. And, finally, Hulu has Pop Aye, 2017 Thai comedy. Thaneth Warakulnukroh plays middle-aged architect Thana, unhappy and in the midst of a midlife crisis, who buys the elephant he thinks is his childhood friend Popeye in Bangkok, and thereby loses his disgusted wife,(Penpak Sirikul), and travels to his hometown and his uncle, Peak(Narong Pongpag),to return his friend to wildlife. On his way, he meets a trans sex worker, Jenny (Yukontorn Sukkijja) and a drifter Dee (Chaiwat Khumdee), and discovers himself, as well. And the elephant Bong stars as Pop Aye, and Kirsten Tan directs. This film won a Special Jury Prize at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival and gets an amazing 92% on Rotten Tomatoes. Steven Prokopy of the Third Coast Review said “[it] has an underlying melancholy to it, but it finds time to be sweet, understated and quite funny, and by the end of the film, a genuine friendship builds between man and animal.” It’s a wonderful journey. I’m watching.
The buzziest add on Netflix is probably Things Heard & Seen, the 2021 horror flick starring Amanda Seyfried. Based on the Elizabeth Brundage novel All Things Cease to Appear, this follows Catherine(Seyfried) and her husband, George(James Norton of Grantchester on PBS) as they move from Manhatten to upstate New York for George‘s new stint as assistant art professor at Saginaw College, in 1980. But cracks in the happy pictures quickly appear, with Catherine having eating problems and George being a philanderer, and as they move into an 18th century farmhouse, things worsen, with Catherine hearing things in the house and seeing unexplained items as well. They find the house has rumors of haunting, with the help of a realtor played by Karen Allen(!). F. Murray Abraham(!), Rhea Seehorn, James Urbaniak, Ana Sophia Heger, Alex Neustaedter and Natalia Dyer also star, while Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini codirect. But this is a muddled story, it’s unevenness covered by tons of gothic atmosphere. And it gets only a 36% on Rotten Tomatoes. Peter Travers of ABC News says “you know a ghost story is a hot mess when it strands a stellar Amanda Seyfried and a top cast in a remote, country house haunted by toxic masculinity, dangling plot threads and nothing worth hearing or seeing.” But I’m watching just to see Karen Allen again. Luckily, Netflix has also added The Innocent, a 2021 Spanish-language mystery/thriller limited-series. Based on a Harlen Coben novel, Mario Casas plays Mateo Vidal, a man who, five years ago, served time for accidentally murdering a man while trying to break up a fight, now lives a seemingly happy life with his wife, Lorena Ortiz(Alexandra Jiménez), who is expecting a child. But when Mateo receives a suggestive video of her on his phone and gets more calls about her, he set off to investigate, all the while being suspected himself by Comisario Oliete(Josean Bengoetxea) himself. Susi Sánchez, Martina Gusman, Aura Garrido, Jose Coronado and Xavi Sáez also star, with Oriol Paulo(The Body) directing. there are 8 episodes to enjoy now, and the series gets an incredible 8.1/10 on IMDb. Heaven of Horror reviewer Karina Adelgaard calls it “extremely addictive and entertaining,” and I’m tuning in. I love a mystery. Netflix also offers Sitting in Limbo, a 2020 British drama. This tells the true story of just one of the immigrants in Britain hurt by the Windrush Scandal in Britain, an effort to persecute and wrongfully deport legal immigrants led by conservatives like Theresa May and David Cameron. Patrick Robinson plays Anthony Bryan, brought to the country from Jamaica at 8 years of age, only to be imprisoned at the Verne immigration removal centre when he was nearly 60, after applying for a passport(!),and so losing his job, pension(after working all his life), asked to take a paternity test for his children, and finally, given 72 hours to go back to Jamaica. But luckily, his family came up with some legal fee, won an injunction, and went on to tell his appalling story. Nadine Marshall, Pippa Bennett-Warner, Andrew Dennis, C.J. Beckford, Jay Simpson and Taija Bryan also star, and Stella Corradi directed. And this movie gets a stunning 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. Euan Ferguson of the Observer (UK) calls it “an absorbing, rewatchable drama that quietly told loud truths, and wore its anger remarkably lightly.” As shocking this story is, what’s more shocking is that Bryan‘s story actually had a happy ending, while many other legal immigrants to Britain did not have one, and were sent “back” to countries they no longer knew. We should all watch. I know I will. Netflix also offers Fatma, a 2021 Turkish thriller series. Burcu Biricik plays the title character, Fatma, an ordinary cleaning lady, who, in the course of desperately looking for her ex-con husband Zafer(Ferit Kaya), and finding herself bullied and insulted at every turn, ends up killing a man. And, things commence, Fatma finds she has to keep killing to extricate herself from the mess she finds herself in. Mehmet Yilmaz Ak, Hazal Türesan, Sehsuvar Aktas, Ugur Yücel, Gulcin Kultur Sahin and Didem Inselel also star, and there are 6 episodes to enjoy now. Pelin Distas, Netflix‘ Turkish content director, calls Fatma “an allegory for dealing with life as a woman in Turkey.” And it gets an impressive 7.6/10 on IMDb, and the Decider calls it “a surprising amount of fun.” I’m tuning in. And finally, Netflix has added The Disciple, an award-winning 2020 Indian drama. Aditya Modak stars here as Sharad Nerulkar, a man dedicated to becoming a great classical sitar vocalist in India, under the tutelage of his guru, Guruji(Arun Dravid)and his father(Kiran Yadnyopavit). But as his life goes on, and he sacrifices more of his private life and happiness to his art, he begins to wonder if it’s all worth it. Neela Khedkar, Sumitra Bhave, Deepika Bhide Bhagwat, Abhishek Kale and Kristy Banerjee also star, with Chaitanya Tamhane(Court) directing. This film won the FIPRESCI International Critics Prize and the Best Screenplay Award at the 77th Venice International Film Festival, as well as the Best Film Award at the Lisbon & Estoril Film Festival, and the Amplify Voices Award at the Toronto International Film Festival. And it gets an astounding 97% on Rotten Tomatoes, and Nick Allen of RogerEbert.com wrote that “The Disciple is a great example of when filmmaking and acting styles complement each other, and it’s that bond that feels to be a significant part of what makes Tamhane‘s film so special, so resonant.” I’m definitely watching.
Amazon‘s major add this week is Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse, a 2021 thriller starring Michael B Jordan. Jordan plays John Clark, a Navy Seal who finds his wife and family killed by Russian operatives in retaliation for his role in a secret operation, and so sets out to avenge their deaths with lots of killing of his own. Lauren London, Jodie Turner-Smith, Guy Pearce(!), Jamie Bell and Brett Gelman also star, and Stefano Sollima(Suburra) directs. But this outdated, violent material is too stale for even Jordan and the all-star cast to save. It gets a mere 44% on Rotten Tomatoes, and Robert Daniels of Polygon call it “a convoluted thriller that’s far too scenically modest for its supposedly wide canvas, and way too shortsighted to maximize its Black lead character.” Don’t bother, because Amazon also offers Season 1 of Warren, a 2019 BBC comedy series starring Martin Clunes! Clunes plays the title character Warren, an abrasive driving instructor who is forced to move north when the father(David Hargreaves) of his partner Anne(LIsa Millett) becomes ill. Tim Preston and Oscar Morgan plays Charlie and Oscar, Warren‘s two teenage sons, and Neil Edmond, Maya Sondhi, Emily Coates and David Hargreaves also star. There are 6 episodes available to feast on now, and the show gets a 6.5/10 on IMDb. I’m tuning in. And, finally, Amazon offers We Children from Bahnhof Zoo, a 2021 German drama series. Based on a famous book by Christiane F., a German actress and musician, about her wild childhood in West Berlin in the late 1970′s, filled with sex, drugs, prostitution and death, Jana McKinnon plays young Christiane, starting at a new school and dealing with the impending divorce of her parents. So when she becomes friends with a wild crowd of kids with troubles of their own, like Stella (Lena Urzendowsky), it’s not too surprising. What is surprising is that any of the kids survived this risky lifestyle. Angelina Häntsch, Jeremias Meyer, Sebastian Urzendowsky, Tom Gronau and Nik Xhelilaj also star, and there are 8 episodes to watch now. And the director of the series is renowned Philipp Kadelbach(Perfume). And the series gets a 6/10 on IMDb. Ready Steady Cut says its “dark, but it’s well worth adding to your watch.” It’s on my list.
So sit back and binge this weekend, on classics, old and new, on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Enjoy!