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 has only a few notable movies added this week, like The Edge of the World, a 2021 drama. This tells the true(ish) story of Sir James Brooke, played by Johnathan Rhys Meyers, an explorer to took to the seas, ending up in Borneo in 1839, determined to ‘adventure,’ not to to conquer, in a land already occupied, but ends up as Rajah of Sarawak during a fight between two princes, and doesn’t mind it at all. Josie Ho, Dominic Monaghan, Ralph Ineson, Hannah New and Bront Palarae also star, and Michael Haussman directs. But, despite the good a acting, and the beauty of cinematographer Jaime Feliu-Torres Borneo, I am made very uncomfortable by yet another film of a white man in Borneo. Why don’t we finally get a historical epic featuring only the story of the people or history of Borneo, without the obligatory white man(or woman). Jeannette Catsoulis of the New York Times writes, “Edge of the World plugs its narrative gaps with corn and cliché,” and the film gets a mere 56% on Rotten Tomatoes. But I wouldn’t watch if it got 100%, I’m done with this tired trope. I’m not watching. Luckily, Hulu has also added New Order, a 2020 Mexican–French dystopian thriller. this takes place in a poverty-ridden Mexico City, where wealthy and privileged newlyweds Marianne (Naian González Norvind) and Daniel(Diego Boneta) are lavishly celebrating their wedding, which is suddenly disrupted by gunmen, and the city is riven by protest. But a former employee, Rolando(Eligio Meléndez),also pleads for money to help his dying wife and Marianne collects money and leaves with a servant ,Cristian (Fernando Cuautle) to bring the aid, she unwittingly saves herself from the violence at the wedding, and now spread throughout the city. And the question becomes, are the people behind the revolution any different from the people at the wedding. Mónica Del Carmen, Darío Yazbek, Patricia Bernal, Lisa Owen, Gustavo Sánchez Parra and Enrique Singer also star, and renowned Michel Franco(After Lucia) wrote, produced and directed this film. It had its world premiere in 2020 at the Venice Film Festival, where it won the Grand Jury Prize and the Leoncino d’Oro Agiscuola Award for Franco, and went on to win more awards, like the Impaakt Award at the Stockholm Film Festival. But it gets only a 67% on Rotten Tomatoes, probably because of it’s unrelenting and controversial message. Peter Bradshaw of the Guardian said it “very effectively persuades you that a real-life revolution might well be every bit as ugly, horrifying and un-Hollywood as this shows – and that it is on the way.” I’m tuning in. And Hulu has added horror, of course, like Victor Frankenstein, a 2015 horror flick. But here, the famous story is told from the viewpoint of Igor, Igor Straussman that is, played by Daniel Radcliffe, whose life is dramatically changed by Victor Frankenstein(James McAvoy), who removes the cyst on Igor‘s back, thus transforming his unhappy life. But when the two go from saving lives to actually creating it, they open the Pandora’s Box that will endanger their very being. Jessica Brown Findlay, Andrew Scott, Charles Dance(!), Freddie Fox and Mark Gatiss also star, with Paul McGuigan(Lucky Number Slevin) directing. Oh, and both Spencer Wilding and Guillaume Delaunay star as Prometheus, or the monster. And, yes, it gets only a 27% on Rotten Tomatoes, but a 6/10 on IMDb, so I thought I’d mention it. And Peter Bradshaw of the Guardian called it “fantastically silly but enjoyable …”You decide. And, finally, Hulu has added Cedar Rapids, the 2011 comedy. Ed Helms, stars, here, as Tim Lippe, a supremely naïve and mediocre insurance salesman, who is sent from his small hometown in Wisconsin to Cedar Rapids for an insurance convention, only cautioned to stay away Dean Zeigler(John Reilly). Whom he befriends, introducing him to a succession of parties, drinking and prostitutes. Isiah Whitlock Jr and Anne Heche star as fellow insurance agents and Stephen Root, Alia Shawkat, Rob Corddry, Kurtwood Smith and Sigourney Weaver(!) also star, and Miguel Arteta directs. This was nominated for several awards and went on to win a spot on the Top Ten Independent Films made by the National Board of Review in 2011. Deborah Ross of the Spectator said it “isn’t a blazingly original comedy, but it has such a nice, tender-hearted feel to it I was won over and charmed,” and it gets an 86% on Rotten Tomatoes. I’m watching.
One of the most exciting adds this week is Maid, the 2021 limited drama series on Netflix. Margaret Qualley stars as Alex, a young mother escaping abuse along with her 2 year-old daughter, Maddy(Rylea Nevaeh Whittet), on a journey that takes them through homelessness, and bone-grinding work. Based on Stephanie Land’s memoir, Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay and a Mother’s Will to Survive, this chronicles the pairs journey through shelters, halfway houses and everything in between, while Maddy tries to avoid Maddy’s angry and manipulative father, Sean (Nick Robinson) and his father, Hank (Billy Burke), while managing an off and on relationship with her bipolar mom, Paula (Andie MacDowell). BJ Harrison, Anika Noni Rose, Tracy Vilar and Raymond Ablack also star, and there are 10 glorious episodes to devour now. Molly Smith Metzler(Shameless, Orange is the New Black) is the creator and writer of the this series and Margot Robbie(!) serves as one of the executive producers. And Maid gets a stunning 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Brian Tallerico of RogerEbert.com writing “Qualley is grounded and brilliant, finding grace notes of beauty that center everything around her in this series that I suspect will garner a loyal, tear-filled audience.” I’m definitely tuning in. Netflix also offers The Guilty, a 2021 thriller. In this remake of a 2018 Danish film of the same name, Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Joe Baylor, a cop demoted to 911 dispatch by unnamed controversy, who receives a disturbingly frantic call from a woman, Emily Lighton(Riley Keough) claiming to have been abducted by her husband, Henry (Peter Sarsgaard). So when he can get not help for the woman, Joe risks his job to help her, not knowing the whole story. Paul Dano, Ethan Hawke, Bill Burr, Edi Patterson and David Castañeda also star, while Antoine Fuqua(What’s My Name: Muhammed Ali) directs. And The Guilty gets a 71% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 6.3/10 on IMDb. Amon Warmann of Empire Mag says “Gyllenhaal flexes all his considerable acting muscles in this taut, tense thriller. One of the better remakes you’ll see.” It’s on my list. But Netflix also offers Ex-Pajé, a 2018 Brazilian documentary. This tells the story of the Paiter Suruí, an indigenous group in the Amazon Basin, who were first encountered by Western people in 1969, and whose culture has since been decimated by evangelization and the invasion of Western products and ideas. Here, Perpera, an ex-shaman (or Ex-Pajé)was forced into evangelical Christianity, and after the decline of his village and finally the death of a villager, fears the anger of the forest spirits when a death occurs in their village. So he tries to find ways to re-instill the native culture into his community, with everything from anthropologists‘ papers on the Paiter Surui( in French!) to stories from the elders. It’s a fascinating look at trying to fight against ethnocide, interweaving fiction and nonfiction, directed by anthropologist/director Luiz Bolognesi(The Last Forest). It won multiple awards in 2018, including Special Mention for Best Documentary at the Berlin International Film Festival, Silver Hugo at the Chicago International Film Festival and Grande Prêmio do Cinema Brasileiro for Best Documentary Film at Cinema Brazil. And it gets an amazing 7.3/10 on IMDb. I’m definitely watching. Also new on Netflix is Comey Rule, the 2020 drama from Showtime. Based on Comey‘s 2018 memoir A Higher Loyalty, this covers the run-up to the 2016 election, with the Comey‘s acceding to political pressure and investigating Hillary Clinton‘s emails, the Russian involvement in the election and, finally, the intense pressure from president Trump, played by Brendan Gleeson, demanding his loyalty. Jeff Daniels plays Comey, Holly Hunter as Sally Yates, Michael Kelly as Andrew McCabe, and Jennifer Ehle, Scott McNairy, Jonathan Banks, Peter Coyote(!) and Oona Chaplin(!) also star, and there are 4 episodes available for streaming now. This mini-series gets an impressive 7.3/10 on IMDb, and Karl Quinn of The Age (Australia) called it “a tense, dense and utterly riveting political saga that can only make you despair about the state of the States.” It’s on my list. And, finally, Netflix has added The Chestnut Man, a 2021 Danish murder mystery. When a woman is found dead at a grisly scene in a forest, a stick figure made of chestnuts seems to be the only clue. But when detectives find a fingerprint on both men, belonging to a supposedly dead girl, victim of a kidnapping, the mystery only deepens. And they fear more killings. Danica Curic plays lead investigator Naia Thulin, and Esben Dalgaard Andersen, Iben Dorner, David Dencik, Mikkel Boe Følsgaard and Liva Forsberg also star, and there are 6 absorbing episodes available to eat up now. But beware, it is dark and gory. And it also gets an astounding 8.2/10 on IMDb. The Review Geek calls it “must-watch Nordic noir……beautifully constructed, well-paced and a must to put on your watch-list.” I’m tuning in.
Amazon has one thrilling add this week with My Name is Pauli Murray, the 2021 documentary. This important film features the story of Pauli Murray, an American of color, ostensibly born into a woman’s body, but who defied typical gender identification, who fought for gender equality alongside the great Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Murray described going to law school as the only female, but not allowed to speak, and not allowed to do post-doc work at Harvard, because of her gender. In 1950(15 years before Rosa Parks) she sat in a “whites only” section of a bus in Virginia, for which she was arrested, and spoke out to black activists about “Jane Crow,” as well. Incredibly, she was also a co-founder of the National Organization for Women, and coauthored a brief with RBG. Oh, and she was also a poet, teacher and a Episcopal priest. All of this story is told with much interviews with some of the great people involved with her, but most interestingly, in interviews with Murray herself. RBG directors Betsy West and Julie Cohen direct here as well, and this film created a lot of buzz at last February’s Sundance Film Festival, and won the Truly Moving Picture Award at the Heartland Film Festival. And it gets an incredible 94% on Rotten Tomatoes, with David Lewis of the San Francisco Chronicle writing “in this Oscar-worthy documentary, Murray shares her hope that she would live to see her lost causes found, and today, we see the fruits of her efforts all around us. Perhaps it’s time to update our history books.” I hope so. I’m definitely watching. Twice. Amazon has also added Bingo Hell, a 2021 Blumhouse horror pic. Adriana Barraza stars as Lupita, a 60ish neighborhood activist, who decides to fight the evil that’s taken over the local bingo hall taken over by the sinister Mr. Big (Richard Brake), encouraging her neighbors to fight him, too. but when they start tuning up dead, she realizes something worse than gentrification is sweeping the barrio. L. Scott Caldwell, Joshua Caleb Johnson, Gigi Saul Guerrero and Bertila Damos also star, and Maritte Lee Go directs. And though it gets only a 69% on Rotten Tomatoes, Hope Madden of MaddWolf says “with characters to root for, violence to spare, and a healthy acceptance of chaos, Bingo Hell is pretty fun.” And I agree. I love the comedy. It’s on my list. But if you want something a little different, Amazon also offers the other Blumhouse scare, the 2021 movie Black as Night. Here, Asjha Cooper plays Shawna, an intrepid 15 year-old in New Orleans, who begins to investigate after she suspects a vampire has made her mother, played by Kenneisha Thompson, his latest victim. And so she decides to invade his stronghold in the French Quarter with her band of friends, like bestie Pedro (Fabrizio Guido). Fabrizio Guido, Mason Beauchamp, Abbie Gayle, Craig Tate, Keith David and Sammy Nagi Njuguna also star, and Maritte Lee Go again directs. And this movie gets an stupendous 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Phil Hoad of Guardian calling it “this is a cheerfully unburdened treatment.” Just what I need. I’m definitely tuning in.
So sit back and binge this weekend, on classics, old and new, on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Enjoy!