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 out there this week, so let’s get started!
The most exciting add on Hulu this week has to be Saint Maud, the 2019 horror flick. Morfydd Clark stars as Maud, a young and devout hospice nurse, assigned to a very unbelieving dancer, spending her last months by the seaside, and importantly, having an affair with a young woman, Carol, played by Lily Frazer, and partying. Which makes Maud fear for her patient’s soul, then obsess over it, spying on her and following her. And Maud becomes equally obsessed with maintaining her religious fervor, a rather recent development for her, and goes to painful and horrific lengths to keep it up. And it becomes clear she may not be such an asset to her patient after all. Lily Knight, Marcus Hutton, Turlough Convery and Rosie Sansom also star, with Rose Glass making a stunning directorial debut here, while writing the script, as well. But the story is all Maud‘s, told from her own point of view in a claustrophobic and tense manner. This film won multiple British Independent Film Awards, including Rose Glass for Best Director and Morfydd Clark for Best Actress, as well as being nominated for 2 BAFTAs. And it gets an amazing 93% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune saying “the steady, screw-tightening accumulation of crises making up Saint Maud indicate a fully formed talent behind the camera.” But it way too scary for me. Luckily, Hulu has also added MLK/FBI, the 2020 documentary. Here, the award winning director Sam Pollard(Eyez On The Prize, Two Trains Runnin‘) gives us a rather horrific look at how the FBI hounded the pacifist civil rights leader, bugging his hotel rooms, and following his every move, with the effort only intensifying as he became more popular. FBI director J. Edgar Hoover was credited with saying multiple times that he feared ” a black messiah,” and took every opportunity, and spent millions of tax payer dollars, trying to take MLK down. Pollard gives plenty of inside glimpses into shameful activity with interviewees like Clarence Jones, Anthony Young and former FBI director James Comey, as well as using plenty of archival footage, documentary evidence and declassified FBI files, He also got the invaluable research from biographer David J. Garrow. And all this is given in a balanced view, portraying King not as a god, but as a flawed human being, having extra-marital affairs that gave Hoover an opportunity to investigate and the FBI an opportunity to harass him and his wife, Coretta Scott King. And yet, King did not retaliate. This is very disturbing material, especially considering the FBI did not act alone, but with coordination with the government, including the White House. Pollard gives us a very balanced and measured view of what occurred. This film won the Pioneer Award at the 2021 Black Film Critics Circle Awards, as well as the Critics’ Choice Documentary Award at the Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards and the Festival Award at the 2020 San Diego International Film Festival. And it gest an amazing 99% on Rotten Tomatoes. Amon Warmann of Empire Magazine called it “an eye-opening documentary that poses hard questions and gives no easy answers, MLK/FBI is a worthy addition to the ever-timely media concerning Martin Luther King Jr.” So important. I’m definitely tuning in. Hulu also offers Cowboys, the 2020 drama. Steve Zahn stars as Troy, a man recently separated from his wife, Sally (Jillian Bell), but hugely troubled when Sally refuses to let their trans daughter Josie(Sasha Knight),or Joe, live as a boy, saying it’s against God’s plan. So Troy takes Joe, in the middle of the night, for a trip across Montana into Canada, with the FBI in tow. Ann Dowd plays one of the detectives, and Gary Farmer, Chris Coy, Bob Stephenson and John Beasley also star, with Anna Kerrigan directing, as well as writing the script, here. And it gets a 92% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Clarisse Loughrey of the Independent News saying “Anna Kerrigan‘s compassionate, sweetly realised drama finds small ways to challenge the assumptions that lie within these opening images.” It’s on my list. And, finally, Hulu has added Some Kind of Heaven, the 2020 doc. here, first-time feature director Lance Oppenheim gives us an inside look at The Village, America‘s largest retirement community, in central Florida, and gets inside the candy colored utopia, where it turns out everyone is not living an ideal life. He interviews 4 disillusioned residents who found The Village less than the advertised paradise, as well as one interloping conman looking to make a (rich) romantic connection. He also gives us a look at The Village cheerleaders(!), dance classes and synchronized swimming. And all of it is hilarious. And it gets a 93(!) on Rotten Tomatoes. Linda Marric of the Jewish Chronicle writes “the awkward silences, deadpan deliveries and semi-comedic tone are often reminiscent of Louis Theroux’s early BBC work which gave us a previously unseen slice of middle America,” and Cath Clarke of the Guardian says “takes a gentle approach, capturing some hilarious moments, but there’s nothing patronising or mean-spirited about his film.” I’m definitely tuning in.
The buzziest add on Netflix this week has to be The Woman in the Window, the 2021 psychological thriller. Amy Adams stars in this adaptation of A.J. Finn’s 2018 best-selling novel as psychologist Anna Fox(Adams), a woman who has suffered a breakdown, resulting in depression and agoraphobia, leaving her unable to leave her Manhattan apartment. She spends he time ordering food(and drink) in and watching her neighbors intently though binoculars, and when her new neighbor Jane(Julianne Moore!) shows up for a visit, it’s a welcome bright spot in her life, and she seems to have found an exciting friend. So when she seems to have witnessed Jane’s murder at the hand so her husband, played by Gary Oldman, she repots it to the police, only to have a new Jane show up, played by Jennifer Jason Leigh(!), and her own life threatened. Anthony Mackie, Fred Hechinger, Mariah Bozeman, Wyatt Russell, Brian Tyree Henry and Jeanine Serralles also star, while Joe Wright(Locke) directed. And allusions to Hitchcock’s Rear Window are everywhere, of course. But, despite it’s all-star cast, this movie doesn’t nearly measure up. It gets a mere 29% on Rotten Tomatoes, and Peter Travers of ABC News writes “Amy Adams leads an overqualified and underserved cast as an agoraphobic child psychologist who thinks she sees a murder in this ‘Rear Window’ ripoff that just lies there, static and dreary, awaiting an animating spark that never comes.” Watch Rear Window on Amazon for $3.99 instead. Luckily, Netflix also offers Oxygen, a 2021 French sci-fi thriller. Mélanie Laurent(Inglourious Basterds) plays Elizabeth Hansen, who awakens in a cryogenic chamber with no memory of who she is, running low on oxygen, and with, seemingly. no way out. Her only connection is an AI voice, MILO, played by Mathieu Amalric, who informs her of her dilemma and of the fact that every effort was taken to keep her memory blank. And so she struggles to escape and to that end, remember. Malik Zidi, Marc Saez, Cathy Cerda and Eric Herson-Macarel also star, and Alexandre Aja(Crawl, The Hills Have Eyes) directs. And though it has a rather flimsy hypothesis, Laurent is great. And Oxygen gets an impressive 92% on Rotten Tomatoes. Peter Bradshaw of the Guardian says “the excellent Mélanie Laurent sells it hard, and it’s a rather elegant contrivance, more restrained than usual from this director, the shlock-horror specialist Alexandre Aja.” I’m watching. If it’s not too scary. Netflix also offers Halston, the 2021 limited drama series. Ewan McGregor plays the legendary fashion designer based on the book Simply Halston by Steven Gaines, and the starts with the design that made him famous, the pill box hat that Jackie Kennedy loved, with the help of teammates, Elsa Peretti (Rebecca Dayan), his model and illustrator Joe Eula (David Pittu). This 5-part series makes clear the fact that a design house is not one man alone, but a team of designers and models, and how later in his career, Halston began to run wild with his ego careering out of control, and drugs and excess threatening to ruin him. Krysta Rodriguez plays the influential Liza Minelli with flair, and Vera Farmiga(!), Bill Pullman(!), Rory Culkin, Gian Franco Rodriguez, Kelly Bishop and Sullivan Jones also star, and Daniel Minahan(Deadwood, Homeland!) directed. And though it gets only a 63% on Rotten Tomatoes, it gets a smashing 7.5/10 on IMDb. Nick Allen called it a “a career-best performance from Ewan McGregor,” and a “compelling epic about ego that embeds you in Halston‘s world of brilliant designs and self-sabotage.” It’s on my list. Also new on Netflix is Dance of the Forty One, a 2021 Mexican historical drama. Alfonso Herrera stars, here, as Ignacio de la Torre, man who would marry Amada Díaz (Mabel Cadena), the daughter of the Mexican president Porfirio Díaz, played by Fernando Becerril. But Ignacio was gay in a 19th century world that didn’t accept it, and when he is discovered at the Dance of the Forty One, a gay ball raided by the police, all of Mexico is aghast, especially since homosexuality had never even been mentioned before. Emiliano Zurita plays Evaristo Rivas, the man Ignacio loves, and Rodrigo Virago, Álvaro Guerrero, Fernanda Echevarría and Sergio Solís also star, while David Pablos directs. And this moving film gets a 7/10 on IMDb, and Jade Budowski of the Decider says it “could easily stand alongside some of our most prestigious historical dramas.” I’m tuning in. And, finally, Netflix has added Move to Heaven, a South Korean drama series. This follows Geu-ru(Tang Jun-sang), a 20 year-old with Asperger’s who is “left” to his uncle Sang-gu(Lee Je-hoon) after his father dies, along with their family home. He goes to work with his uncle at his business Move to Heaven, as a trauma cleaner, cleaning up after various crimes and tragedies. Together, they help people move on to the next world, and tell story to their loved ones. Ji Jin-hee, Lee Jae-wook, Hong Seung-hee, Park Ji-ye and Kwon Dong-wo also star. And it is based on the essay of Kim Sae-byul, a former trauma cleaner. There are 10 episodes available now on Netflix and this sensitive series gets an incredible 9.1/10 on IMDb, and the Review Geek calls it “this is a wonderful Korean drama and an absolute must-watch this year.” I’m watching.
But the biggest, most notable add of the week is Amazon‘s, with Underground Railroad, the 10-part series based on Pulitzer Prize-winning 2016 novel of the same name by Colin Whitehead. This tells the story of Cora, played by Thuso Mbedu, a slave on a Georgia plantation who escapes with Caesar(Aaron Pierre), and finds the underground railroad, reimagined as an actual railroad. And she tries to build a life of her own, dreaming of finding her mother Mabel, and all the way, hunted and endangered by a vicious slave tracker named Ridgeway, played by Joel Edgerton. Peter Mullan, Damon Herriman, Amber Gray and Chase W Dillon also star, while Academy Award winner Barry Jenkins(Moonlight!) directs. And this magical and very moving series gets a stunning 96% on Rotten Tomatoes. Brian Tallerico of RogerEbert.com says its a “truly momentous achievement that will be analyzed and discussed for years to come, Barry Jenkins’ The Underground Railroad is much more than a history lesson.” Don’t miss it. I know I won’t Amazon also added Saint Maud, the 2019 horror flick reviewed above. So don’t miss that if you love horror. Also new on Amazon is The Last King, a 2016 Norwegian historical drama. This takes place in 1204 during civil war in Norway, when King Haakon of Norway is killed by his queen, and his agents Torstein and Skervald seek his infant son, Haakon Haakonsson by a woman other than the queen, to protect him and ultimately, bring him to rule Norway. Jakob Oftebro, Kristofer Hivju, Pål Sverre Valheim Hagen, Thorbjørn Harr, Benjamin Helstad and Ane Ulmoen Øverli star and Nils Gaup directed. This won awards at the 2017 Trondheim Internasjonale Filmfestival, and gets an 89% on Rotten Tomatoes. Carlos Marañón of Cinemanía (Spain) called it “a film that leaves us great features: evocative names, credible settings and, above all, amazing warriors.” And I love historical drama. I’m watching. And, finally, Amazon is offering some good streaming deals on it’s premium channels, like $64.99 per year, half off the regular $129.99 for a year of MLBtv, awfully prescient now, and commercial free Paramount+ for just 99¢ for the first month. So sign up now, if you are so inclined.
So sit back and binge this weekend, on classics, old and new, on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Enjoy!