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 interesting adds this week, so let’s get started!
There are some interesting new, though less obvious, adds on Hulu this week, like The Outside Story, a 2020 drama. Brian Tyree Henry(Atlanta) stars as Charles, a reclusive video editor who hates to leave his apartment, but finds he has to, after his live-in girlfriend Isha(Sonequa Martin-Green) leaves him and he gets locked out of his Brooklyn walkup. He’s forced to get help from the neighbors he doesn’t know, and even makes a few friends, who convince him to win Isha back. Which may or may not be a good idea. Sunita Mani, Michael Cyril Creighton, Olivia Edward, Lynda Gravatt and Asia Kate Dillon also star, and Casimir Nozkowski directed. And this warm little film gets an impressive 92% on Rotten Tomatoes, and Odie Henderson of RogerEbert.com says “Henry’s performance is rich enough to make this small film feel rather epic.” I’m watching. Hulu also offers The Obituary of Tunde Johnson, a 2019 LBGTQA+ American thriller. Steven Silver stars as Tunde Johnson, a rich gay teen who happens to be black, and gets unjustly killed in a routine traffic stop by police, only to waken to a time loop, where he repeatedly lives his last day. And there he deals with his love a fellow student, Soren O’Connell (Spencer Neville), who’s still in the close , and the fact that his best friend Marley (Nicola Peltz) loves him, too. Sammi Rotibi and Tembi Locke play Tunde’s parents, and Christen Harper, Joey Pollari and Tembi Locke also star, while Ali LeRoi(Everybody Hates Chris!) directs. This premiered at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival, and gets an 89% on Rotten Tomatoes. Beandrea July of the Hollywood Reporter wrote it’s “an agonizing tale about the weight society hoists upon too many black gay men’s weary shoulders, it’s the kind of film that lingers in your mind days after you’ve seen it, as much due to the relevant subject matter as to Tunde‘s penetrating gaze.” I’m tuning in. Hulu has also added Nasrin, the 2021 biographical doc. This is about the great human rights advocate and lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, active in Iran on the behalf of citizens and especially women and minorities, who suffered imprisonment and physical punishment, i.e. lashes, for speaking out. Director Jeff Kaufman filmed this piece surreptitiously, and features interviews with Sotoudeh and other activists, like Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Shirin Ebadi. And this movie portrays well the high price these (mostly) women are willing to pay for their activism, when they could easily live highly successful and remunerative lives if they just avoided speaking out. But, luckily for all humans, they don’t. And Olivia Coleman(!) narrates wonderfully throughout. Nasrin premièred at the 2020 GlobeDocs Film Festival, and gets an incredible 8.7/10 on IMDb, and a 93% on Rotten Tomatoes. Robert Daniels of RogerEbert.com says “in depicting one woman’s fight for justice, Kaufman‘s indelible documentary becomes an empowering three-dimensional story of resistance and courage.” I couldn’t agree more, I’m watching twice. And, finally, Hulu has Born to Play, a 2020 documentary. This tells the tale of the Boston Renegades, a semi-professional women’s tackle football team, women who play with much fewer rewards than their male counterparts. It covers a full season of football, with the team hoping to redeem themselves after a tough previous year. And it gives us an inside look at the individual women who play merely for the love of the game, inspired since childhood to play a game mostly reserved only for males. Viridiana Lieberman directs this inspiring and personal film, which gets an incredible 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, and an 8.9/10 on IMDb. It’s exciting for even for those of us who don’t like football. Brigid Presecky of FF2 Media wrote “Lieberman’s Born to Play highlights role models for anyone who feels different. There is a place for you, there is a space for you, you just have to find your team.” I’m tuning in.
The biggest add on Netflix this week must be the 2021 movie Fatherhood, starring Kevin Hart. Here, a surprisingly laid back Hart plays Matt, a husband shocked by the sudden death of his wife Liz (Deborah Ayorinde), one day after delivery of their daughter Maddy, and so, forced to become the sole parent of their new child. HIs friends Jordan and Oscar, played by Lil Rel Howery and Anthony Carrigan, offer moral support, but his mother Anna(Thedra Porter) and mother-in-law Marian(Alfre Woodard!) contribute the most vital aid. Melody Hurd plays the older Maddy, and Paul Reiser(!), Frankie R. Faison, DeWanda Wise and Ellen David also star, while Paul Weitz(About a Boy!) directs. And this is all based on a true story, told by Matthew Logelin in his 2011 memoir Two Kisses for Maddy: A Memoir of Loss and Love, with Channing Tatum originally slated to play Matt, but luckily for the viewers, I think, Tatum pulled out, and Hart replaced him. Because Hart is wonderful and nuanced here, without his usual, more hyper, performance. And Fatherhood gets a 6.7/10 on IMDb, and a 72% on Rotten Tomatoes. Angie Han of Mashable writes it “works just fine as a sweet little celebration of Matt and Maddy, of the beautiful life they’ve built together from the ruins of tragedy. But as an exploration of fatherhood itself, it’s as deep as a drugstore Father’s Day card.” It’s a lovely surprise. I’m watching. But Netflix also offers Katla, a 2021 Icelandic sci-fi series. This takes place in the small town of Vik, which has been thrown into turmoil since it’s nearby volcano Katla has been violently erupting for a full year, with Gríma, played by Guðrún Ýr Eyfjörð, desperately searching for her sister Ása (Íris Tanya Flygenring) disappearing in one of the earliest eruptions. But strange events start to occur, like a woman, Gunhild (Aliette Opheim) returning from the glacier of Katla, covered in ash and suffering from hypothermia. Ingvar Sigurdsson, Baltasar Breki Samper, Þorsteinn Bachmann, Aldís Amah Hamilton and Björn Ingi Hilmarsson also star, and there are 8 mind bending episodes available to binge on now. And it gets an amazing 7.3/10 on IMDb. Austin Burke of Fan Flick Nation says “the intensity in this series is high as it slowly builds a haunting mystery against this beautiful landscape.” And you know I love sci-fi. I’m definitely tuning in. Also exciting and new on Netflix is Penguin Town, a 2021 documentary series. This documents the endangered South African penguins that take over the small Simon’s Town, South Africa, in their yearly mating season. Specifically, it follows two pairs of penguins, the “Bougainviellas,” the “newlyweds” and one single, “Junior” who is spending his first season on his own as an adult, as they go about their business, which includes camping in peoples gardens, and even joining residents in stores and bars. And it’s all delightfully narrated by Patton Oswalt, who is also an executive producer. And it gets an astounding 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, and an 8.4/10 on IMDb. ReadySteadyCut calls it “a humorous and insightful docuseries,” and I’m watching. Netflix also offers The Reason I Jump, the 2020 British documentary. Adapted from Naoki Higashida’s book of the same title, this film features excerpts of Higashida’s tale of being nonverbal and autistic, while also sharing the stories of 5 other children from all over the globe facing the same challenges. There’s Amrit in India, creating art for a gallery there, Jestina in Sierra Leone, facing prejudice and bias, and Ben and Emma from Virginia, who share a decades long friendship. And director Jerry Rothwell supplies the viewer with plenty of imaginative, kinetic views of how life might strike one with ASD, where time might seem to pass differently, and sensory experiences are almost always overwhelming. This won the Audience Award at Sundance in 2020, and Best Documentary at both the Valladolid International Film Festival in 2020 and the British Independent Film Awards in 2021. And it gets a wonderful 93% on Rotten Tomatoes. Ian Freer of Empire mag calls it “sensitively made, thought-provoking and ultimately moving, The Reason I Jump provides telling insights into the neurodiverse worldview. The result is a powerful documentary that presents life through fresh eyes.” So important for all of us to see, I’m definitely tuning in. And, finally Netflix has added The Rational Life, a 2021 Chinese drama series. This tells the story of Shen Ruo Xin, played by Lan Qin, a “leftover woman”(read ‘spinster’, unmarried at 30) who decides to take a stand for all the working women like her, who withstand constant sexism and mistreatment in the workplace, and who endures bullying and harassment because of it. Her mother, Mother Shen, played by Pan Hong, constantly pressures her to marry a man she doesn’t love, while she becomes attracted to someone younger than herself, at work. Bao Wen Jin, Calvin Li and Dylan Wang also star, and there are 35 episodes available to enjoy now. And this series gets a hefty 8.4(!) on IMDb. I’m watching!
Okay, Amazon has no notable adds this week, but they are offering the 4th Season of Billions, the Showtime series. Damian Lewis(Wolf Hall) stars here as (crooked) hedge fund manager Bobby “Axe” Axelrod, being hotly pursued by U.S. attorney Chuck Rhoades, played by Paul Giamatti. Maggie Siff plays Chuck‘s wife Wendy, also employed by Axe as a performance coach, and Asia Kate Dillon, David Costabile, Taylor Mason and Condola Rashād also star, and there are 12 new episodes to view now, with Seasons 1-3 available as well. And this show has been nominated for numerous awards, including a Critics’ Choice Television Award, and with Season 4 getting an amazing 97% on Rotten Tomatoes. David Bianculli of NPR said of Season 4 “Billions is television at its best. Attention must be paid.” It’s on my list. Amazon also offers Soul City, a 3 part horror anthology from Topic tv, for viewing until June 30. Set in New Orleans, the first show has eight year-old Althea, played by Mikaela Kimani Armstrong, dealing with the death of her toxic and abusive godmother in 1968, with the girl discovering superpowers that may help (or hinder) her in her struggles. The second has a man played by Dorian Missick purchasing a ‘magic’ pillow for his insomnia that may put him to sleep for longer than he would like, and the third has a jazz man making a deal with the devil. Omar Dorsey, Rhonda Johnson Dents, Oscar Gale, PJ Morton and Summer Selby also star, and the series was created and directed by Coodie and Chike(Muhammad Ali: The People’s Champ). And though it’s way too scary for me, the series gets a commendable 6.4/10 on IMDb, and has excellent acting. Watch if you dare. And finally, don’t forget that with Prime Day starting Monday on Amazon, there are some great deals to be had, like two months of premium channels like Starz, AMC+, Acorntv, BET, Showtime and Paramount+ for only 99¢ a month, right here. And rentals of movies like Promising Young Woman, Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar, and Minari, for only $2.99-that’s 3 dollars off! So don’t miss the good deals. They won’t last long.
So sit back and binge this weekend, on classics, old and new, on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Enjoy!