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 exciting adds this week, so let’s get started!
The most intriguing add on Hulu this week is Jacinta, the 2021 documentary. This film considers the life of Jacinta, a young woman whose mother Rosemary has been in prison since Jacinta was a child, and now Jacinta, herself, has joined her there. Both are serving in the Maine Correctional Center for drug addiction and crimes that may accompany that, Jacinta having gotten involved with drugs early in her teens, her mother having shared her lifestyle with her daughter. But now, Jacinta has a daughter of her own,10-year old Caylynn, and wants desperately for the drug abuse cycle to end with herself, and not to feed on another generation in her family. Director Jessica Earnshaw(also cinematographer and writer, here) conveys the desperation of the situation here, with the drug addiction never well treated, leading to a excruciatingly hard to break cycle of never-ending tragedy. It’s not an easy film to watch, with a grim outcome seemingly likely, but it won not only Best Documentary Feature, but also the Albert Maysles New Documentary Director Award at the 2020 Tribeca Film Festival. And it gets an amazing 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, and an 8.1/10 on IMDb. Beatrice Loayza of the New York Times says “this is not a happy story. The lucidity with which these subjects speak to their own mistakes and sorrows will leave you haunted.” But it’s important to see, too. I’ll be watching. But Hulu has also added Maggie’s Plan, the 2015 comedy/drama starring Greta Gerwig. Gerwig plays Maggie, here, a young woman in New York City, planning on becoming a single mother through sperm donation, when she meets John (Ethan Hawke), a disgruntled anthropologist, unhappily married, and all plans are off. But, after a few years, she cools on him, and comes up with the title plan, to get John back with his wife, Georgette (Julianne Moore), and so, out of her life, as well. Bill Hader(!), Maya Rudolph(!), Travis Frimmel, Ida Rohatyn, Mina Sundwall and Wallace Shawn(!) also star, while Rebecca Miller(Saturday Church, and the daughter of Arthur Miller, too!) directed and wrote the script, too. It’s not your average romcom, and with a stellar cast, too. And it gets an 86% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Kevin Maher of the Times(UK) writing “romantic comedies that feature pregnancy as a dramatic motor are unanimously, and without exception, awful… Yet, here comes the writer-director Rebecca Miller, with her big brain and literary pedigree, and she completely nails it.” I agree. I’m tuning in. Hulu also offers Sweet Land, the 2005 historical drama. This considers the life of Inge Altenberg, played by Elizabeth Reaser, told by herself in her at her husbands funeral, a young German immigrant, who met her husband Olaf Torvik (Tim Guinee) at their wedding in 1920’s Minnesota. A mail order bride, she met much anti-immigrant hostility there, while her husband found approbation for marrying a German, so soon after WWI. And yet, they found love and connection. Ned Beatty(!), John Heard(!), Alan Cumming(!), Lois Smith(!), Alex Kingston(Doctor Who!) and Paul Sand(!) also star, and Ali Selim directed. This film won multiple awards in 2006, like the Independent Spirit Award at the 2007 Independent Spirit Awards, Audience Award at the Florida Film Festival and the Jury Award at the Newport Beach Film Festival. And it gets an 85% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 7.2/10 on IMDb. Martin Hoyle of the Financial Times said its “nostalgic, gentle, loving: the elegiac mood set against endless rural space inevitably suggests Malick‘s Days of Heaven. What next from this considerable talent?” I can’t wait to watch. And, finally, Hulu has added House of Games, the 1987 David Mamet thriller. Lindsay Crouse(!) stars here, as proper psychiatrist, Margaret Ford, who, when one of her patients is on the verge of suicide because of debt to a bookie, decides to intercede and go to the bookie, Mike(Joe Montegna!). But of course, since this is Mamet, nothing is as it seems, and Mike is a con man, who teaches Margaret the art of the grift, how to read people and ultimately, how to play people, too. But who’s playing who? William H. Macy(!), Ricky Jay, Lilia Skala, J. T. Walsh, Meshach Taylor(!) and Mike Nussbaum also star, and David Mamet directed. This movie won several awards in 1988, including Film of the Year and Screenwriter of the Year for Mamet at the London Critics Circle Film Awards and the Cinecritica Award at the Venice Film Festival. And it gets an stunning 96% on Rotten tomatoes, and a 7.3/10 on IMDb. Roger Ebert called it the ‘best film of the year,’ calls it his favorite Mamet film and also writes, “there is a teasing quality to Mamet‘s presentations that reminds me of a skilled magician, meticulously laying out his cards while telling us a story.” I’m definitely tuning in.
Netflix has no big titles added this week, but there’s still some interesting stuff here, like The Billion Dollar Code, a 2021 German drama limited series. Based on a true story, this tells the tale of the developers in 1990’s Berlin who developed the Terra Vision app, that was identical to Google Earth, in fact, it predated it by 10 years. So the developers and their company, Art+Com, went to court to sue Google for copyright infringement. But did someone inside the Art+Com leak information to Google to reap huge benefits themselves? Seumas F. Sargent, Leonard Scheicher, Lukas Loughran, Björn Freiberg and Michelle Glick star, and there are 4 episodes available to enjoy now. And it gets an astounding 8/10 on IMDb. Ready Steady Cut calls it “an engaging and exceedingly well-put-together true story tells the shady tale of Google Earth in a classic David vs Goliath-style clash.” It’s on my list. But Netflix also offers Grudge, a Turkish crime drama. Called Kin in its original Turkish, this centers on an incident in Istanbul, where Chief Inspector Harun Celiktan (Yilmaz Erdogan), recently named officer of the year, is kidnapped by a taxi driver and taken to be killed in a remote field, where he is able to defend himself, and kill his attacker. After he cleans up the crime scene, he returns home, only to find the next morning, the body is hung from a crane outside the police station. As the police home in on the perpetrator after finding his murder weapon, Harun tries to solve the puzzle of the conspiracy against him, and the viewer beings to wonder about Harun’s actual innocence, and whether his past has come back to haunt him. Duygu Sarasin, Ahmet Mümtaz Taylan, Cem Yigit Uzümoglu, Ruzgar Aksoy and Yosi Mizrahi also star, while Turkan Derya directs. And it’s early for ratings, with Grudge getting a mere 5.4/10 on IMDb, but this is a well-written thriller, with a wonderful cast. The Decider calls it “an excellent ensemble and a tight script, Grudge is full of all the twists and turns that make for a thrilling crime drama.” I’m tuning in. Also new and notable on Netflix is Ella Fitzgerald: Just One of Those Things, the 2019 documentary. Originally shown on PBS, this fascinating film takes a look at Ella Fitzgerald’s life, the extreme adversity she faced as a girl, with poverty and homelessness in NYC, going on to become a (justifiably) world-famous singer, with one of the best voices ever. There is plenty of archival video included, and also a great deal of tribute paid by adoring fans like Tony Bennett, Johnny Mathis, Patti Austin and Margo Jefferson. And director Leslie Woodhead brings together all the threads of her life wonderfully. And this is one eye-opening film for a life-long Fitzgerald fan like me, as I never knew all the hardship she had survived, especially in her early life, only to go on to shine. And it gets a stunning 95% on Rotten Tomatoes. Chris Willman of Variety said it’s a “jazz movie whose dominant mode – amid valiant efforts to mine some personal sorrow – is actual musical joy? We’ll take it.” I’m definitely watching again. And, of course, Netflix has horror, like There’s Someone Inside Your House, a 2021 horror flick. Based on Stephanie Perkins’ book of the same name, Makani (Sydney Park) has just been uprooted from Hawaii, with her family moving to a small town in Nebraska, where she finds that kids are being killed at her new high school, with kids that are bully or racist being targeted. There are online exposures as well, that worry everyone in the area. But can the kids figure out what’s going on, before they, too, are attacked? Théodore Pellerin, Asjha Cooper, Dale Whibley, Jesse LaTourette and Burkely Duffield also star, and Patrick Brice directs. But, though this is brought to us by the producers of Stranger Things, it doesn’t make the grade. It’s trite and, frankly, not too scary. It gets a mere 51% on Rotten Tomatoes, and Benjamin Lee of the Guardian writes “there’s nothing inside this one.” Maybe just re-watch Stanger Things instead. And, finally, Netflix offers Remember You, a 2021 Thai thriller. Here, police officer Aye (Kemisara Paladesh) begins to work with Tanwa(Paopetch Charoensook), a supposed genius in criminology, when Bangkok is beset by serial murders that seem to resemble ones from the past. Tay Tawan Vihokratana, Aun Witaya Wasukraipaisarn, Tee Vivid Bavornkiratikajorn, Noon Daran Thitakawin and Pat Chatburirak also star, and there are 16 episodes available for goring now. And this is actually a remake of the 2015 S. Korean series, Hello Monster. And this updated version gets an amazing 8.8/10 on IMDb. And I love a mystery.
Amazon has two new Blumhouse horror movies added this week, the first being Madres. Ariana Guerra stars here as Diana, a young Hispanic woman who moves to a migrant farming community in 1970‘s California, with her husband Beto(Tenoch Huerta), who has been offered a job managing a farm, which uses a new pesticide. But Diana is soon bothered by disturbing dreams, and finds other women in her community talk of a curse on children born there. Kerry Cahill, Elpidia Carrillo, Evelyn Gonzalez and Robert Larriviere also star, and Ryan Zaragoza directs. But there’s nothing new, or terrifying here, though it may remind you of several 70‘s horror films(like Rosemary’s Baby). And it gets only a 43% on Rotten Tomatoes. But Lena Wilson of the New York Times writes “what it lacks in sting it makes up for with an original script (by Marcella Ochoa and Mario Miscione) and a ferociously pregnant protagonist who would make the Fargo character Marge Gunderson proud.” And I do love a great female lead. You decide. But Amazon also has The Manor, another Blumhouse offering, this time starring Barbara Hershey(!). Here, Hershey stars as Judith Albright, a woman who, upon suffering a slight stroke, enters Golden Sun Manor, an assisted living facility, at her doctors urging. There, she makes friends, and finds a connection with Roland (Bruce Davidson!), but then starts to begin hearing things, with nightmarish visions that seem very real and malignant. But when she tries to convince people of what she’s seen, she’s quickly dismissed, with even her beloved grandson Josh(Nicholas Alexander) thinking she may be developing dementia. Fran Bennett, Stacey Travis, Ciera Payton and Cissy Wellman also star and Axelle Carolyn directs. And this one gets a 75% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Matt Donato of What to Watch saying it “handles ageism with reverence and common monster stalks, which is enough throughout the modest chiller’s succinct duration.” I’m definitely tuning in. And finally, Amazon offers Giant Little Ones, a 2018 Canadian drama. Josh Wiggins and Darren Mann star as Franky and Ballas, two fast friends who, as stars of the swim team, are high school royalty, until their understanding of who they are is blown apart after an incident at Franky’s 17th birthday party. When other students find out about what happened, they attack instead of understanding, and parents, too, are upset. Taylor Hickson, Maria Bello, Niamh Wilson, Hayley Kittle and Kyle McLachlan(!) also star, while Keith Behrman(The National Parks Project) directed. And this film won multiple awards in 2019, like Best Screenplay and Best Actor (for Wiggins) for a Canadian Film at the Vancouver Film Critics Circle and Best International Feature at the Göteborg Film Festival. And it gets an incredible 93% on Rotten Tomatoes. Bruce DeMara of the Toronto Star wrote “finally, a film about teenage sexuality and its inherent fluidity that has something authentic and intelligent to say.” I’m watching.
So sit back and binge this weekend, on classics, old and new, on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Enjoy!