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 good adds this week, so let’s get started!
Hulu’s biggest add this week is Plan B, a very relevant comedy from the creators of Harold and Kumar. Kuhoo Verma and Victoria Moroles play high school best friends Sunny and Lupe, respectively, who have one wild night partying, and good girl Sunny finds she had sex while drunk, and doesn’t know if she was protected. So the pair go on a wild road trip through conservative(and mostly white) South Dakota, looking for a Plan B pill, before the 24 hour window optimally recommended to use it runs out. Michael Provost, Mason Cook, Myha’la Herrold, Jolly Abraham, Josh Rubin and Gus Birney also star, while Natalie Morales directs her first feature here. And Plan B gets an incredible 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, and Linda Holmes of NPR says, “the creators and the cast deserve enormous credit for how deftly the broader comedy here is balanced with genuine fear and frustration, and how unexpectedly parts of the film unfold.” I’m definitely tuning in. Hulu also offers the movie The Vigil, a 2021 horror story. Dave Davis stars as Yakov Ronen, a young man who recently joined secular life, after leaving his Hasidic Jewish group, who reluctantly agrees to sit vigil as a Shomer(or watchman) as a favor for his old Hasidic rabbi, played by Menashe Lustig, for a deceased older man, Ruben Litvak. Other Shomers have already refused the job, out of fear, but Jakov desperately needs the money. But shortly after the vigil begins, he realizes he faces an evil greater than death. Lynn Cohen plays the eerie Mrs. Litvak, and Fred Melamed, Malky Goldman, Nati Rabinowitz and Moshe Lobel also star, and Keith Thomas directed and wrote this piece. It premiered at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival in September 2019, and was only released in the States this year. And this film gets an amazing 90% on Rotten Tomatoes. Christy Lemire of Filmweek and NPR writes, “they accomplish so much here with what is clearly a low budget and basically one location. It’s terrifying.” But it’s way too scary for me. So, luckily for me, Hulu has also added Sweet Bean, a 2015 drama from Japan. Here, Kirin Kiki plays Tokue, an older woman who seeks a job in a Dorayaki( a sweet cake filled with delicious azuki bean paste) shop run by Sentaro, played by Masatoshi Nagase, who rejects her application, at first. But when he tastes her homemade bean paste, and see how popular it is with others, he reconsiders. But calamity strikes when customers realize that Tokue once had leprosy and stop coming out of prejudice and fear. Kyara Uchida, Etsuko Ichihara, Miyoko Asada and Miki Mizuno also star, while Naomi Kawase directed. Sweet Bean was selected to open the Un Certain Regard section at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, and Kirin Kiki won Best Performance by an Actress at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards for her role here, as well. And the film gets an 85% on Rotten Tomatoes, and David Parkinson of Empire Mag said “Ostensibly, a lovingly made study of homemade cooking and old-fashioned values, this beautifully played drama also contains a mordant denunciation of the lack of compassion that shapes Japanese attitudes to social stigma.” I’m watching. And, finally, Hulu has added Mountains May Depart, a 2015 Chinese romantic drama. Zhao Tao plays Tao, here, a young shopkeeper who chooses to marry a rich man, Jinsheng (Zhang Yi), instead of the poor man she loves, Liangzi (Liang Jingdong), during the capitalist explosion in the 90’s, and so she is destined to be apart from the ones she loves. This film tells her tale in three parts, her marriage in 1999, her separation from her son in 2014 Daole(Zishan Rong) after divorce, and Daole‘s life apart from her in 2025. Sylvia Chang, Han Sanming, Patrick Harvey, Lu Liu and Min Liu also star, and Zhangke Jia(Still Life) directed. This was nominated for the Palme d’Or and won numerous awards in 2016, including Outstanding Film at the Chinese Film (Ningbo·Cixi) Festival and the auspicious Golden Horse Award at the 2015 Golden Horse Film Festival. And it gets a 90% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Tara Brady of the Irish Times calling it “an extraordinarily beautiful film with lush, occasionally radical cinematography from Nelson Lik-wai Yu, profound things to say about the immigrant experience and a commanding performance from Zhao Tao.” I’m tuning in.
Okay, so there aren’t any new blockbuster adds this week on Netflix, there’s still some great hidden gems , like Black Space, the 2021 crime thriller series from Israel. Guri Alfi stars as investigator Rami Davidi, assigned to investigate a school shooting by masked gunmen, inevitably blamed on Palestinians, who are even arrested, but that Davidi is convinced was actually committed by students of the very same high school. Which makes him very unpopular, and a target of hatred himself. Assi Levy, Reut Alush, Shai Avivi, Liana Ayun and Noam Karmeli also star, and there are 8 episodes available to enjoy now. And it gets an 7.1/10(!) on IMDb, with ReadySteadyCut calling it “an enthralling crime drama.” I agree. I’m watching. Netflix also offers The Day I lost My Shadow, a 2018 Lebanese drama. This tells the tale of Sana, played by Sawsan Arsheed, a pharmacist and mother to young Khalil (Ahmad Morhaf Al Ali) in Damascus, desperate to get gas for cooking in a city depleted by war and rationing. So she goes in search of a gas cylinder with her brothers Jalal (Samer Ismail) and Reem (Reham Al Kassar), along with a cabbie (Yassin Albokhari). But as they encounter a road block and lethal threat from government soldiers, Sana notices that some of the people there have lost their shadows, including Jalal, evoking a legend that those without a soul lose their shadow. Nur Maghout and Oweiss Mkhallalati also star, and Soudade Kaadan(Aziza) not only directed, but wrote the script for this movie, as well. And this won multiple awards in 2018, including the Luigi De Laurentiis Award for Best Debut Film, World Fiction Award – Special Jury Prize at the Los Angeles Film Festival and the Silver Palm at the Mostra de València-Cinema del Mediterrani. And it gets a 67% on Rotten Tomatoes. Rob Aldam of Backseat Mafia wrote “The Day I Lost My Shadow is a powerful drama which highlights the trauma and desensitising effect of living in a war zone.” It’s on my list. Netflix has also added High on the Hog: How African American Cuisine Transformed America, a 2021 cooking and travel limited series. Here, we get to see the very real ways that the African cooking methods and recipes that came with slavery in this country impacted and changed American cooking, making it what it is today. We start in Benin, with our host, writer and producer, Stephen Satterfield and Jessica Harris, a food historian and author of the book (of the same name) on which this series is based, to find that certain food considered “American” were actually brought over by the slaves. Foods like okra, yams, and a lot of fish dishes now traditionally eaten in this country. Even the wide-spread use of rice in this country has African roots. Not just “soul food,” but a plethora of supposedly “mainstream American” dishes have their roots in Africa. This series even covers historically important chefs who were black, like the chefs James Hemmings and Hercules(or Hercules Posey), who cooked and served sumptuous dishes for presidents. It has 4 episodes, available now, and this is one mouthwatering show, sure to leave you wanting more, not to mention take-out. And it gets an incredible 7.4/10 on IMDb. The L. A Times calls it “an incredible, belated start to floodlighting the achievements of Black culinarians. This limited series could — should — be endless.” I’m definitely tuning in. Also new on Netflix is Word of Honor, a 2021 Chinese fantasy series. Zhang Zhehan plays Zhou Zishu, an ex-assassin, who leaves his killing organization The Window of Heaven under Prince Jin, beset by guilt, and meets Wen Kexing (Gong Jun), bent only on revenge his parents deaths. And they go in search of the 5 pieces of the Glazed Armor, the key to the Armory and all the world’s lost knowledge. Zhou Ye stars as Gu Xiang, a master fighter herself, and Asher Ma, Hei Zi, Sun Xi Lun and Huang You Ming also star, and there are 10 action-packed episodes to binge on now. And this show gets a stunning 9.3/10 on IMDb. I’m watching. And finally, Netflix has added Season 3 of the acclaimed comedy, Master of None. This season, subtitled Moments in Love and written by Waithe, features the love story of Denise (Lena Waithe) and her wife Alicia(Naomi Ackie), as they undergo IVF while having doubts, and live a quiet, rather uneventful life in their rural home outside New York City. Aziz Ansari only appears for a few guest shots, but directs all 5 of the episodes in beautifully subdued tones. And this season gets an wonderful 8.3/10 on IMDb. Brandon Katz of the Observer says it “is an emotional triumph precisely because of the confidence it wields in its arresting genuineness. It is raw in its mundanity, respectable in its patience, and touching in its stillness.” It’s on my list.
Amazon‘s big add this week is Panic, a 2021 YA thriller series. Based on the 2014 book of the same name by Lauren Oliver, this takes place in the town of Carp, Texas which has a secret competition every year among high school seniors, involving life-threatening dares, like jumping off a high cliff into a reservoir, all to win 50K to be used to escape from Carp, once and for all. Olivia Welch stars as Heather Nill, laden with family difficulties, like an addicted mom, that force her to enter the competition, only to compete against her best friend Natalie (Jessica Sula). Bonnie Bedelia(!), Mike Faist, Camron Jones, Ray Nicholson and Enrique Murciano also star, and there are 10 episodes available now. But this story is soapy and full of holes, like who runs the contest, and who on Earth would invest $50,000 each year for the winner. It gets only a 5.5/10 on IMDb. But Amazon has also added White Lies, a 2016 historical drama from New Zealand. Whirimako Black stars as Paraiti, a Maori woman respected for her knowledge in healing and a midwife, who is asked to induce labor for a privileged white woman, Rebecca (Antonia Prebble), before her husband gets home from a long trip, to save her position in white European society. What follows is an agonizing regimen, and increased animosity between Paraiti and Rachel’s Maori housekeeper Maraea (Rachel House), who asked for her help. Nancy Brunning, Te Waimarie Kessell, Kohuorangi Ta Whara, Elizabeth Hawthorne and Te Ahurei Rakuraku also star, and Dana Rotberg(Angel of Fire) directed. This screened in the Contemporary World Cinema section at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival and was New Zealand‘s choice for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 86th Academy Awards. And it gets an astounding100% on Rotten Tomatoes. Tomris Laffly of Film Journal International wrote that “thematically, White Lies is essential cinema, unafraid to delve into female issues even contemporary societies grapple with.” I’m definitely tuning in. And, finally, Amazon offers The Last Hour, a 2021 Indian supernatural crime series. Karma Takapa plays Dev, a young man and Jhakri, a shaman who is supposedly able to speak to dead souls and help them crossover to the next life, and so, asked by the police to help in a series of unsolved murders in Mancheng, a town unfamiliar with much violent crime. Sanjay Kapoor, Shaylee Krishen, Shahana Goswami, Robin Tamang and Raima Sen also star, and there are 8 episodes to enjoy now. And the series gets an incredible 7.7/10 on IMDb, with mint lounge saying it has “has a thoughtful, slow-burn approach.” And I love a mystery. I’m watching.
So sit back and binge this weekend, on classics, old and new, on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Enjoy!