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!
Hulu‘s huge add this week is Only Murders in the Building, the comedy mystery series from Steve Martin and John Hoffman. Martin, Selena Gomez and Martin Short star as three loners who live on the Upper East Side, who share a fascination with true crime, so when a tenant in their building dies a grisly death, the three decide to solve the mystery, and create a podcast about it, too. But when they learn that all the tenants are suispects, the need to solve the crime becomes more urgent. Nathan Lane(!), Amy Ryan(The Office), Jane Houdyshell, Aaron Dominguez and Vanessa Aspillaga also star, and there are 5 episodes available to binge on now, with 5 more coming soon, and one added each Tuesday. And it gets a stunning 100% on Rotten Tomatoes and an 8.6/10 on IMDb. Melanie McFarland of Salon.com writes “any show can string together a decent whodunnit, but examining loneliness as a universal mystery is the more captivating concept enriching the three-part harmony wrought by Gomez, Martin and Short’s combined performances.” I’m definitely tuning in. I love a mystery. Hulu has also added The Unthinkable, a 2019 Swedish thriller. Here, Stockholm suddenly comes under attack from an unknown enemy, losing power, internet, TV and telephone, with Alex(Christoffer Nordenrot) returning to his hometown searching for his sweetheart, Anna (Lisa Henni), and finding his distant father, Björn (Jesper Barkselius), amid the tumult. There are attacking planes, exploding buildings and general chaos, with no one, including the viewer, knowing what is going on, or who the attackers are. Pia Halvorsen, Magnus Sundberg, Krister Kern, Karin Bertling and Ulrika Bäckström also star, while Victor Danell directs. This film won multiple prizes in 2019, with three at the Gérardmer Film Festival including the Critic’s Prize, Jury Prize and Youth Jury Grand Prize. And it gets a 78% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Noel Murray of the L.A. Times saying “some genre fans may be impatient with this approach at first, but by the end, it really works. This isn’t just a story about a world-ending threat. It’s a story about a handful of people who don’t want to die before settling unfinished business.” It’s not your average disaster movie, but one with pith, substance, and great visual effects, too, by the way. I’m watching. Also new and notable on Hulu is We Broke Up, a 2021 romcom. William Jackson Harper(The Good Place!) and Aya Cash(You’re the Worst) star as Doug and Lori, respectively, a committed couple of couple of ten years, until Lori throws a curve when Doug proposes. He breaks up, but then they find themselves thrown together, and pretending to still be a couple, for the wedding of Lori’s sister, Bea(Sarah Bolger). Peri Gilpin(!), Tony Cavalero, Kobi Libii and Azita Ghanizada also star, and Jeff Rosenberg directs. And, though it gets a mere 59% on Rotten Tomatoes(the script is a bit flimsy), the cast is wonderful, and makes watching worth your while. Cody Corrall of the Chicago Reader says it” is a breeze to watch thanks to its fully-committed leads, who go wherever the story takes them.” I agree, it’s on my list. And, finally, Hulu has added Undine, a 2020 German romance. This is a updated, and perhaps feminist, retelling of the European myth of Undine, a water nymph who becomes human upon falling in love with one, but doomed to die if he is unfaithful. Paula Beer stars as Undine Wibeau, a historian specializing in Urban development in Berlin, who falls for Johannes (Jacob Matschenz) ,but when he betrays her, in this revisionist version, he may have to forfeit his life. Cristoph(Christian Petzold) plays the industrial diver who may be her true love, and Maryam Zaree, Anne Ratte-Polle, Rafael Stachowiak and Julia Franz Richter also star, and Christian Petzold(Transit, Phoenix) directed. This film was a big winner on the 2020 award circuit, with Paula Beer winning the Silver Berlin Bear for Best Actress!), and Christian Petzold winning the FIPRESCI Prize at the Berlin International Film Festival, and Beer winning Best Actress at the European Film Awards, as well. and it gets an 88% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Jenny Nulf of the Houston Chronicle calling it a “hauntingly aching romance is enchanting, as thick as the feeling of inhaling water into your lungs.” It’s a must-see for film buffs, and I’m watching.
The biggest add on Netflix this week is Worth, the 9/11 drama starring Michael Keaton. Keaton stars as real life lawyer and mediator Kenneth Feinberg, who was appointed by Congress to lead the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, to allot funds to the deserving and traumatized families of survivors, and nearly impossible task of assigning a monetary value to a human life. Stanley Tucci(!) stars as Charles Wolf, a community activist who lost his wife on that fateful day, and Amy Ryan(!) stars as Feinberg’s head of operations, Camille Biros. Talia Balsam, Laura Benanti, Tate Donovan, E.R. Ruiz and Chris Tardio also star, while Sara Colangelo(The Kindergarten Teacher!) directs. And thank goodness, this isn’t a maudlin or corny treatment of this tragedy, but an soft spoken story of the unthinkable dilemmas people faced trying to help. And it gets a 77% on Rotten Tomatoes. Robert Levin of Newsday writes “[its] a powerful drama that engages with profound philosophical ideas while being rooted in recognizably human emotions.” But Netflix also offers Afterlife of the Party, a 2021 comedy. Victoria Justice(Zoey 101) stars, here, as Cassie, party girl extraordinaire, always ignoring the advice of her best friend Lisa(Midori Francis from Dash & LiLy) to tone it down, and play it a bit safer. So when Cassie dies in the bathroom on her birthday, after a night of excess, she is given a choice by her Guardian Angel Val, dryly played by Robyn Scott, either right some wrongs in her life in 5 days, or go down, instead of up, for all eternity. Adam Garcia, Timothy Renouf, Spencer Sutherland, Gloria Garcia and Myfanwy Waring also star, and Stephen Herek directs. And, no, it’s not a perfect movie, rather too much fluff for a serious subject, but it did win the ReFrame Stamp for Narrative & Animated Feature at the ReFrame Awards this year. And it gets a 59% on Rotten Tomatoes. Chelsie Derman of The Young Folks says “if you look past some of the plot contrivances, Afterlife of the Party is a comical movie that reminds you to make the most out of moments with people you’re close to.” If you want something light. Netflix also offers Dive Club, a 2021 Australian teen drama/mystery. Lauren Rose(Georgia-May Davis), Anna Volkov (Aubri Ibrag), Stevie Harrison(Sana’a Shaik) and Maddie(Miah Madden) hang tight as friends and dive daily as members of the Dive Club in their small coastal town of Cape Mercy. But one day, during stormy weather, Lauren goes missing, and her friends band together once again, to find her, and discover she had “found things….secrets [that] lie on the bottom.” Jai Koutrae, Veronica Neave, Alexander Grant, Josh Heuston, Mercy Cornwall and Tim Ross also star, and there are 10 episodes available to enjoy now. And the series gets a 6.4/10 on IMDb. The Decider says to stream it, adding “is one of those rare teen dramas that kids can watch, but its story is definitely not goody-two-shoes.” But if you want a more grown-up mystery, Netflix has also added Crooked House, the 2017 adaptation of Agatha Christie‘s 1949 classic novel. Here we follow private detective Charles Hayward(Max Irons), as he investigates the death of Greek catering magnate, Aristides Leonides, at the behest of Hayward‘s ex flame Sophia de Haviland Leonides (Stefanie Martini). As he visits the family estate, he finds lots of suspects, like Leonides’ second wife, Brenda (Christina Hendricks), actress Magda (Gillian Anderson), Clemency (Amanda Abbington), and even matriarch Lady Edith(Glenn Close), expert with her ever-present shotgun. Terrnece Stamp(!), Tina Gray, Julian Sands and Preston Nyman also star, with Gilles Paquet-Brenner directing. And Julian Fellowes and Tim Rose Price wrote the script! This won the Best Original Composition at the 2018 International Music + Sound Awards, and it gets a 6.4/10 on IMDb. Katie Walsh of the L.A. Times wrote “Irons more than holds his own at the center of this swirling mystery, and Martini proves an enchanting leading lady, but the real draws are Close and Anderson, who bring a ferocious zest to their over-the-top characters.” And, no, it’s not as good as the book, but if you need a to see a mystery(and who doesn’t) this may be good enough. I’m watching. And, finally, Netflix offers Hotel del Luna, a 2018 South Korean supernatural drama. The Hotel del Luna is a house of ghosts, coming to attend to their unfinished business before proceeding to the afterlife, unseen by humans, but in need of a human hotel manager, to conduct human business, like paying bills. Enter Gu Chan-sung(Yeo Jin-goo), whose father(Oh Ji-ho) sold him into service with the hotel owner Jang Man-wol (Lee Ji-eun). There, used to the mundane life of earthly hotels he’s managed before, he is shocked to meets the various ghosts and spirits, as well as Mago and the Grim Reaper. Jung Dong-hwan, Shin Jung-geun, Bae Hae-sun, Pyo Ji-hoon,Kang Hong-seok and Seo Yi–sook also star, and there are 16 episodes available to devour now. And this fun series won multiple awards in 2018, including Lifetime Achievement Award for Jung Dong-hwan at the 12th Korea Drama Awards. And it gets an amazing 8.2/10 on IMDb, and TheReviewGeek says it “really flirts between the ideas of horror, goofy comedy and fantasy and somehow blends them all together in a pretty harmonic way.” I’m definitely tuning in.
The buzziest add on Amazon this week has to be Cinderella, the 2021 musical dadaptation from Kay Cannon(Pitch Perfect). Yes, this isn’t your average (white) Cinderella, but wiser and funnier, too, with Camila Cabello playing the title role, dreaming of being a dress designer, and toiling under the eye of her evil stepmother, played by Idina Menzel. So when Cinderella‘s beautiful new dress, designed for the ball, is ruined by said evil one, she’s visited by her Fab G (Billy Porter), and gets a second chance to promote her business, along with the three mice made human, into James Corden, John Mulaney and Romesh Ranganthan. Oh, and she might meet a prince, Prince Robert (Nicholas Galitzine), along the way. Pierce Brosnan, Minnie Driver, Tallulah Greive, Maddie Baillio, Charlotte Spencer and Fra Fee also star, and Kay Cannon directs. And, no, it’s not perfect, and so gets only a 42% on Rotten Tomatoes. But I agree with Amy Amatangelo of Paste Magazine when she says “younger kids may enjoy it and adults will probably get a kick out of it, but if you are 10 or 11 this movie was made for you.” And thank god it’s a lot less white. But, for grown-ups, Amazon has The Attorney, a 2014 South Korean drama. Based on a true story, this tells of Song Woo-suk, played by Song Kang-ho, a lawyer who passed the bar, but didn’t go to law school, and who is therefore disdained by the law community, who comes out of retirement to defend Park Dong-ho(Oh Dal-su), a young student unjustly accused of sedition and colluding with North Korea, by the authoritarian Chun Doo-hwan regime. So he gathers a team of his colleagues, and goes on to fight the government in court. Kim Young-ae, Kwak Do-won, Im Si-wan, Lee Sung-min, Jung Won-Joong and Song Young-chang also star, and Yang Woo-suk directed. This film won multiple awards in 2014 including Best Film at the 50th Baeksang Arts Awards, the 23rd Buil Film Awards and the 35th Blue Dragon Film Awards, as well as Best Actor for Song Kang-ho at the 14th Director’s Cut Awards, the 19th Chunsa Film Art Awards and the Buil Fil Awards. And it gets a 7.7/10 on IMDb, with Tom Keogh of the Seattle Times writing “just when a viewer is lulled into believing The Attorney is a lighthearted comedy about a doofus of a lawyer, this powerful South Korean feature takes a sharp turn toward brutal political thriller.” I’m tuning in. And, finally, Amazon is making some premium series from The Great Courses premium channel available this month, like Season 1 of Native Peoples of North America, a history course from 2016. Here, we’re led by professor Daniel M. Cobb of University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, leads us through different American cultures of the past, including the Wendat and Iroquois, and historic sites like Werowocomoco, the Algonquian headquarters for Chief Powhatan and others in Virginia. We also visit the Southwest and South, and various treaties from the Native American view, like the 1783 Treaty of Paris. And of course the Trail of Tears, with Cherokee persecuted and forced from their home. Unfortunately, there is no discourse on more ancient Native American cultures, like the Cahokia, Mississippian or Aansazi. But this is good a good view of the recent past in North America, and the view of history from a more indigenous standpoint. There are 24 episodes to explore before September 31, and since they’re only a half hour long, they are easily digested by those with short attention spans. I will definitely watch.
So sit back and binge this weekend, on classics, old and new, on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Enjoy!