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!
The most exciting add on Hulu this week has to be Reservation Dogs, the 2021 FX comedy series from Taika Watiti(!) and Sterlin Harjo. Here, we get the story of four Indigenous teens, played by Kawennáhere Devery Jacobs, D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai, Paulina Alexis and Lane Factor, desperately bored with their rural reservation life in Oklahoma, and committing small time crimes in an effort to raise the money to get to California, and change their lives. This show deals wonderfully with not only the frustrations of living on the reservation, but also the inequity of being a teenager, your voice routinely ignored or silenced. And we get a group of hugely talented and often too overlooked actors like Sarah Podemski, Bobby Lee, Punkin Lusty, Zahn McClarnon, Garrett Hedlund and Elva Guerra. There are 3 episodes to enjoy now, with a new episode added every week. And it gets a stunning 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, and an 8.2/10 on IMDb. Nina Metz of the Chicago Tribune says its “episodic, site-specific misadventures will bring to mind another FX series, Donald Glover’s Atlanta, and there’s a loose, throwback ‘70‘s feel to here, as if a scraggly teenage Matt Dillon might wander into the frame at any moment.” I’m definitely tuning in. Hulu also offers Homeroom, a 2021 documentary. Here, director Peter Nicks follows seniors of the Class of 2020 at Oakland High School, beginning the year trying to be socially and politically active, pushing to get Oakland Police out of their schools, only to be hit by Covid 19, with all it’s limitations, and then, the George Floyd protests. Two students feature prominently, Denilson Garibo and Mika, student activists calling for less police activity and more representation for students of color. This film premiered at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival in January, where it won the first Jonathan Oppenheim Editing Award – U.S. Documentary, and was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize. And it gets an 88%(!) on Rotten Tomatoes, with Carlos Aguilar calling it a “galvanizing portrait of how Americans inching closer to adulthood navigate a reality in perpetual distress, asserting their agency and fighting with the might of their well informed convictions and digital interconnectivity.” I’m watching. But Hulu also offers Peter Nicks companion piece to Homeroom, The Force, a 2017 doc. Here, Nicks follows the Oakland Police Department, particularly focusing on Police Chief Sean Whent, who promised to reform the department, which had completely lost the trust of it’s community after decades of police violence and misdeeds. He cracked down on police silence toward their fellow officers with body cams, tried to give new recruits concern and connection with the community and even had civilian outreach programs where complaints could be made. And it was successful at first, with a 60% drop in complaints against officers, a complete halt to officer involved shootings and even a drop in crime. Alas, it didn’t last. Nicks uses a cinema vérité approach here that won him the Best Director prize for documentaries at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, as well as the Golden Gate Award at the San Francisco International Film Festival that year. And The Force gets an 87% on Rotten Tomatoes, and Peter Sobczynski of RogerEbert.com wrote its “s strong film that tackles a charged subject in a fair and even-handed manner. The Force will give viewers of all social and political persuasions much to think about afterwards.” It’s on my list. And finally, Hulu has added Together, Together, the 2021 comedy. Ed Helms stars as Matt, a 40-something gay app developer, bent on becoming a father through a surrogate, who turns out to be Anna, wonderfully played by Patti Harrison, a college student who wants to earn money for her Bachelor’s and masters through bearing his child. The trouble is, Patti’s a loner, and Matt‘s controlling influence drives her crazy, first advising her on what to eat and wear, and then moving on to objecting to her having sex. So when Matt invites Anna to move in with him and she agrees, the craziness escalates, but their relationship solidifies. Rosalind Chao(MASH, Star Trek: the Next Generation), Anna Konkle, Evan Jonigkeit, Tig Notaro(!), Sufe Bradshaw, Fred Melamed and Nora Dunn(!) also star, while Nikole Beckwith directs(she wrote the script, too!). And this had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival last January, where it was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize. And it gets an amazing 91% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Rene Sanchez of Cine Sin Fronteras calls it “an endearing and clever anti-romantic comedy about the meaning of family and the chance encounters that change lives forever.” I’m tuning in.
The biggest title on Netflix this week is probably Beckett, the 2021 thriller starring John David Washington(Tenet, BlacKkKlansman). Washington stars as Beckett, an unsuspecting American tourist whose Greek vacation goes horribly awry after a car accident kills his girlfriend April(Alicia Vikander!), and sends him desperately fleeing after a cop opens fire on him, when he returns to the scene of the accident. And a rally in Athens against an shady leader Karras (Yorgos Pirpassopoulos) seems to be at the root of it all. Maria Votti, Vicky Krieps, Boyd Holbrook, Daphne Alexander and Lena Kitsopoulou also star, with Ferdinando Cito Filomarino. And though Beckett is aiming for the political paranoia of classics like Three Days of the Condor, it doesn’t quite make it, due to a lousy script. So it gets only a 52% on Rotten Tomatoes. Robert Daniels of Polygon says “Beckett lacks urgency, wit, and a lead actor capable of pulling together its underwritten themes.” I’d rather watch The Kingdom. No, this isn’t the Chinese drama also on Netflix, but an 2021 Argentinian political thriller series where Reverend Emilio Vázquez Pena (Diego Peretti) goes on to become the next president of Argentina, after the murder of his running mate Armando Badajoz (Daniel Kuzniecka) on stage. But as the police investigate, they find the Reverend isn’t as pure as he seems and a web of deceit and corruption in the church becomes evident. Nancy Dupláa, Mercedes Morán, Joaquín Furriel, Peter Lanzani and Victoria Almeida also star, and there are 8 intrigue-filled episodes available to binge on now. The Review Geek calls it “a real slow burn thriller…….[that’s] undeniably bingeable,” and it gets a 5.6/10 on IMDb, with it’s popularity rising. I’m tuning in. Netflix also offers Misha and the Wolves, a 2021 documentary. This investigates the story of Misha Defonseca, whose fabulous story of being befriend and protected by wolves while she was on the run in Nazi Germany became famous with her book, Surviving with Wolves, becoming famous and even getting her work chosen for Oprah’s Book Club. In 2007, French director Véra Belmont even adapted it into a film, without much investigation into the veracity of Defonseca‘s story done. Finally, genealogist Sharon Sergeant and Holocaust survivor Evelyne Haendel began to research the case, and to dig into the minutiae required to get to the truth. Director Sam Hobkinson delves into misinformation, misrepresentation and most importantly, the hard work required to unearth the facts in a 70 year-old case. And this film gets an 84% on Rotten Tomatoes, and Barry Hertz of the Globe and Mail writes it’s “as much a documentary as it is a wrestling match: filmmaker versus subject, truth versus fiction. Ultimately, the viewer comes out the winner.” I’m watching. But Netflix has also added Gone for Good, a 2021 thriller limited series. This is a French language production of the Harlan Coben novel of the same name, where 30-ish social worker Guillaume (Finnegan Oldfield),dealing with the death of his mother, finds his girlfriend Judith(Nailia Harzoune) suddenly missing, and is aided in his search by the sister of his first love, murdered a decade ago, Inès (Garance Marillier). And of course, they find uncomfortable secrets that may better remain hidden. Guillaume Gouix, Grégoire Colin, Nicolas Duvauchelle and Tómas Lemarquis, while Juan Carlos Medina(The Limehouse Golem) directs. There are 5 episodes available to enjoy now, and the series gets a respectable 6.8/10 on IMDb. But be sure to turn on subtitles, as the dubbing on Netflix still stinks. And, finally, Netflix has The Crowned Clown, a 2019 historical drama from South Korea. A remake of the 2012 film Masquerade, this tells the tale of king of Joseon King Lee Hun(Yeo Jin-goo), paranoid and without an heir in unstable 17th century Korea, who hires a court clown, Ha-seon(again, Yeo Jin-goo), to replace him on the throne and thus escape a plan to assassinate him. But the imposter shows mastery at his royal work, he gains support and becomes the rightful king. Kim Sang-kyung, Se-young Lee, Jang Gwang, Yoon Jong-suk and Shin Soo-yeon also star, and there are 16 episodes available to binge on now. Se-yeong Lee won the award for Excellence as an Actress at the 2019 Korea Drama Awards, and the series was also nominated for 2 Baek Sang Art Awards. And it gets an amazing 7.5/10 on IMDb. The Review Geek calls it “a dramatic, politically charged series awash with tension, twists and turns…that makes for quite the impressive showing.” I’m definitely tuning in.
Amazon‘s big add this week is Evangelion: Thrice Upon a Time, the 2021 anime movie from master Hideaki Anno. This concludes the Rebuild of Evangelion film series, continuing the saga of Shinji Ikari, a fourteen year-old, in near-future Paris, where humans fight the aliens called Angels with Evangelions or Evas, which are huge cyborgs driven by psychic teenagers like Shinji. And so a psychedelic and mind-blowing fight for humanity continues. Ogata Megumi, Miyamura Yūko, Hayashibara Megumi, Mitsuishi Kotono and Tachiki Fumihiko star, while Hideaki Anno, Mahiro Maeda, Katsuichi Nakayama and Kazuya Tsurumaki direct(hey, it’s animation!). This is a classic, getting an incredible 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. But it’s also 2 and 1/2 hours long, so be prepared with lots of popcorn and soda! Siddhant Adlakha of Polygon calls it “bold, dazzling, introspective, and occasionally disturbing, which makes it a fitting capper to not only the new film series, but to the Evangelion story as a whole.” But anime’s not my thing, so I’d rather watch Caronte, a 2020 Spanish drama series. Roberto Álamo plays Samuel Caronte, a police officer sentenced to prison for a crime he didn’t commit, who studies law in prison, to become a lawyer who defends those without adequate representation. He partners with Marta Pelayo (Miriam Giovanelli), while trying to reconnect with a son he no longer knows. Belén López, Álex Villazán, Raúl Tejón, Marta Larralde and Carlos Hipólito also star, and there are 13 episodes available to feast on now. And this show gets a 6.8/10 on IMDb. And I love a mystery. I’m watching. And, finally, Amazon has added Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace, a 2004 British comedy. This is a cult classic that revisits the famed(and fictional) 1980’s Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace, wonderfully popular but terribly low budget, with horror author Garth Marenghi(Matthew Holness) and his publisher Dean Learner(Richard Ayoade), when the channel decides to re-air the series. So we see the adventures of Dr. Rick Dagless, M.D, while he battle the forces of darkness, as well as dealing with just being a doctor, in Romford, London. Matt Berry, Alice Lowe, Kim Noble, Julian Barratt and Noel Fielding also star, and there are 6 episodes available for binging now. And it gets an outstanding 8.5/10 on IMDb. Noel Murray of the Dissolve called it “masterfully, hilariously hideous, with Ayoade knowing exactly how to drop in pointless camera moves, botched continuity, and slackly paced action sequences for maximum comic effect.” sounds perfect. I’m watching.
So sit back and binge this weekend, on classics, old and new, on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Enjoy!