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 ballyhooed add on Hulu this week has to be Dopesick, the 2021 limited drama series. Based on a 2018 book by Beth Macy, this follows the growth of oxycontin use in the U.S., and the push by Purdue Pharma to make it the most popular drug in the world, all while they understated the addictiveness of the drug, by concentrating on one Dr in the Appalachians of Virginia, Samuel Finnix, played by Michael Keaton. Finnix falls for the sale pitch of Purdue salesmen, and prescribes it to many of his patients, only to see them become addicted, and even die. Michael Stuhlbarg stars as the Sackler patriarch, Richard Sackler, who led the Purdue vanguard to make billions, and Rosario Dawson stars as DEA agent Bridget Meyer. Peter Sarsgaard, Kaitlyn Dever, Mare Winningham(!), Ray McKinnon, Jamie Ray Newman, Trevor Long and Andrea Frankle also star, and there are 4 episodes now available for binging, with a new episode on dropping every Wednesday, with 8 episodes making up the 1st season. Barry Levinson(Diner), an executive producer(like Keaton) even directs episode 2! And it gets an 8.3/10 on IMDb, with USA Today saying “Michael Keaton‘s opioid drama Dopesick is harrowing, horrifying and a must-watch.” It’s on my list. Hulu also offers Champaign ILL, a 2018 comedy series from YouTube Premium. Here, Adam Pally and Sam Richardson play two roadies(and flunkies) for rap star(and friend), Lou (Jay Pharoah), who hit the skids when Lou suddenly dies, and the pair have to move home to their less exciting hometown, Champaign, Illinois. With their parents. There, nothing goes well, they seem to appall everyone with their “self destructive…and destructive-destructive” behavior. Allyce Beasley, Danielle Schneider, Keith David(!), Curtis Armstrong and Sabrina Revelle also star, and there are 10 episodes available to enjoy now. And this series gets a 6.7/10 on IMDb, and Ben Travers of Indiewire called it “an absurd, fun, and fresh spin on adults stuck in arrested development.” But beware, it is raunchy, lewd and full of f-bombs. So maybe don’t watch with the kiddoes. Hulu has also added the wonderful Gunda, a 2020 documentary. This considers the life of Gunda, a feisty mother pig on a farm in Norway, who raises her piglets and watches them caper and adventure with the other animals on the farm, like a one legged hen. It’s all filmed in beautiful black and white by cinematographer Egil Håskjold Larsen, and director Viktor Kossakovsky depicts the advanced relationships and lives that animals other than human have. Joaquin Phoenix, a noted vegan, serves as executive producer, but this is not a preachy film. This film went on to win many awards in 2021, including the Dublin Film Critics Award at the Dublin International Film Festival, and The Unforgettables Award at the Cinema Eye Honors Award. And it gets a stunning 97% on Rotten Tomatoes, with David Parkinson of Empire Magazine writing “it’s full of fascinating behavioural insights and moments that are both hilarious and adorable, this studied treatise on the personality and emotionality of domestic animals should provide plentiful food for thought.” Worth watching twice. And no more meat for me. And, finally, Hulu has added the 2021 British horror film Censor. This centers on Enid Baines, played by Niamh Algar(Raised by Wolves), who works as a censor during the 80‘s, meticulously checking videotapes for undue violence(her coworkers calling her “Little Miss Perfect“), partly because of her guilt over not remembering details of her sister’s disappearance years ago. So when she sees a certain video, Don’t Go in the Church, it stirs her memories, and she becomes obsessed with it’s director Frederick North(Adrian Schiller), and it’s missing star, Alice Lee(Sophia La Porta), convinced it’s all tied to her sister’s disappearance. Michael Smiley, Nicholas Burns, Clare Holman, Vincent Franklin and Felicity Montagu also star, while Prano Bailey-Bond directed(and wrote the script). This film premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, and went on to win the Méliès d’Argent for Bailey-Bond at the 2021 Imagine Film Festival in Amsterdam, and the Denis-de-Rougemont Youth Award, again for Bailey-Bond, at the Neuchâtel International Fantastic Film Festival, as well as others. And it gets an 89% on Rotten Tomatoes. Mark Kermode of the Observer(UK) called it a “thrilling, dizzying debut from Welsh writer-director Prano Bailey-Bond is a nostalgic treat for anyone old enough to remember the infamous “video nasties” scare of the early 80s.” Perfect for Halloween. I’m definitely tuning in.
Netflix has some great, if somewhat obscure, adds this week, like My Name, a 2021 South Korean thriller series. Han So-hee stars as Yoon Ji-woo, young woman who decides to infiltrate a drug gang to avenge the violent death of her troubled father(Yoon Kyung-ho) , only find the trail lead to the police, so she goes undercover there. Park Hee-Soon plays Choi Mu-Jin, the drug pin who becomes her adviser, and Ahn Bo-Hyun, Lee Hak-Joo, Kim Sang-Ho, Chang Ryul and Baek Joo-Hee also star, and there are 8 episodes available to devour now. This premiered at the screened at 2021 26th Busan International Film Festival and gets an astounding 8.2/10 on IMDb. ReadySteadyCut calls it “action-packed and instantly engaging….a solid revenge thriller grounded by its compelling protagonist.” I’m watching. Netflix also offers The Forgotten Battle, a 2020 Dutch war drama. This tells of the Battle of the Scheldt of 1944, where allies banded together to open up Antwerp so that supplies to be brought into Europe. Three players feature here, a glider pilot, William Sinclair (Jamie Flatters),Teuntje Visser (Sussan Radder), daughter of doctor drawn into the Resistance, and Marinus van Staveren (Gijs Blom), a Dutchman fighting for the Nazis. This is an immersive experience, with chaotic battle scenes and constant peril surrounding the Resistance fighters. Jan Bijvoet, Ronald Kalter, Marthe Schnieder and Theo Barklem-Briggs also star, and Matthijs Van Heijningen Jr. directs. And it gets an impressive 7.4/10 on IMDb, with apblive.com saying its “a bravura virtual-eyewitness account that begins fragmentally and then craftily interweaves events as seen from the perspective of three people involved in the conflict.” I’m tuning in. Also new on is Operation Hyacinth, a 2021 Polish mystery/drama. This take place in 1980′s Warsaw, during Operation Hyacinth, a secret police action where (real or perceived) gay men were tracked down, forced to confess or finger others, and entered into a secret database. Against this backdrop, a serial killer was also targeting gay men in the city, so Officer Robert(Tomasz Ziętek) goes undercover as a gay man, hoping to draw the attention of the killer. But he also draws the attention of his fellow officers, and suspicion that he plays his part all too well. Marek Kalita plays his policeman father Edward, and Adrianna Chelbicka his cop fiancé Halinka, and Hubert Milkowski, Tomasz Schuchardt, Sebastian Stankiewicz, Jacek Poniedzialek, Agnieszka Suchora and Piotr Trojan also star, with Piotr Domalewski directing. This won 3 awards at the 2021 Polish Film Festival, including Best Screenwriting for Marcin Ciaston and Best Film for Domalewski. So, though early after its release, it gets only a 6.4/10 on IMDb, reviews are enthusiastic, like Odie Henderson of RogerEbert.com writing “had this been made back in the 1940s, it would have fit nicely in the same genre as Detour or The Maltese Falcon. It has a streak of hopeless nihilism that’s characteristic of the finest noir. ” I’m definitely watching. I love a mystery. Netflix also offers Reflections of You, a 2021 South Korean drama series. Go Hyun-Jung stars as Jeong Heejoo, a young woman who has defied societal norms to become a successful painter, married to a rich man, and mother of two, but who lives with regret and pain that comes to the surface when her daughter Li-sa(Su-an Kim) is assaulted by an angry(and unapologetic) teacher Goo Haewon (Shin Hyunbeen). But when Jung hits the teacher and is seen on the security camera, it begins a spiral of disaster for the family. Choi Won-yong, Kim Sang-ho, Jae-young Kim and Shin Hye-Ji also star and there are 2 episodes available to enjoy now, with 14 more to come and two new ones dropping each week. And this gripping show gets a 7.6/10 on IMDb. ReadySteadyCut calls it “a classic Korean drama formula — tackling trauma, love, betrayal, and of course, the annoying mother-in-law in a rich family. But I did not anticipate this drama being a thriller whatsoever.” It’s on my list. And, finally, Netflix has added Fever Dream, a 2021 Chilean horror flick. Here, Amanda, played by Maria Valverde, and her daughter Nina (Guillermina Sorribes Liotta) move into a country house for the summer, and are greeted immediately by their new neighbor Carola (Dolores Fonzi), with whom Amanda forms an immediate and deep bond. But Carola is deeply troubled by her son David (Emilio Vodanovich), a disconcerting boy, who she insists is elementally different and a “monster” since she took him to a natural healer to cure his seemingly lethal disease. But is he a threat to Amanda and her daughter? Germán Palacios, Guillermo Pfening, Marcelo Michinaux and Macarena Barros Montero also star, and Claudia Llosa directs, and it’s shot by Oscar Faura of The Orphanage(!). This unsettling film was nominated for Best Film at the San Sebastián International Film Festival, and gets a 68% on Rotten Tomatoes. Nicolas Rapold of the New York Times said it reminds him of 1972 classic The Other, and Wendy Ide of the Observer(UK) says “there’s an oppressive malevolence to Peruvian director Claudia Llosa‘s adaptation of Samanta Schweblin’s novel that seeps through Fever Dream like a slow-acting poison.” So it’s way too scary for me! But maybe you’ll like it.
Amazon’s big add this week is I Know What You Did Last Summer, a 2021 series remake of the classic 1997 horror movie. Here, the story is basically the same, with a group of rich kids killing someone in a hit and run one night after a party, covering it up and then finding themselves a target for a vengeful serial killer. Madison Iseman, Brianne Tju, Ezekiel Goodman, Ashley Moore and Sebastian Amoruso play the kids, and Bill Heck, Cassie Beck, Fiona Rene and Brooke Bloom also star. And there are 4 episodes available now, with 4 more to come in the next month. This is based on the 1973 novel of the same name by Lois Duncan more than the movie, but it’s still rather flimsy to be stretched into 8 hourlong episodes. It gets a mere 39% on Rotten Tomatoes. Adam White of the Times(UK) writes “devoid of a magnetic ensemble and dominated by characters of overwhelming narcissism, it is unwieldy and dispiriting, and acutely unaware of what made the film version so effective.” Don’t bother. But luckily, Amazon also offers Akilla’s Escape, a 2021 Canadian crime drama. Saul Williams stars as Akilla, well read man who runs a Toronto dispensary, but somehow has ties to the underworld, taking orders from The Greek(Theresa Tova). But when Akilla interrupts a robbery at the dispensary, and captures a 15 year-old member of the gang, Sheppard(Thamela Mpumlwana), he decides to protect him from the mafia enforcer Jimmy (Bruce Ramsay). And thereby seals his own fate. Colm Feore, Ronnie Rowe, Donisha Rita Claire Prendergast, Vic Mensa and Olunike Adeliyi also star, and Charles Officer(Invisible Essence: The Little Prince) directed. This film won multiple awards in 2021, including Best Canadian Feature at the Victoria Film Festival, and awards for Achievement in Sound Editing, Sound Mixing and Cinematography at the Canadian Screen Award. And it gets an 84% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Melissa Vincent of the Globe and Mail writing it “recasts the monolithic narrative of gang involvement as one that rejects a trope of Black peril in order to tell a multi-dimensional story of resilience…” And Saul Williams alone makes this movie so worth seeing. I’m tuning in. And, finally, Amazon has added Season 1 of the classic tv show Suspense. Here, we get 14 different episodes of stories full of tension and mystery, like the first Goodbye New York, a tale of arsenic poisoning, Go Home Dead Man, where a wife marries the man who took her husband’s life insurance, and Post Mortem, where a woman finds her neighbor’s body in the refrigerator, and knows the killer will return. And we get stars like Otto Kruger, Eddie Albert, Nina Foch and Mildred Natwick. And it gets an incredible 8.1/10 on IMDb. Just in time for Halloween. I’m definitely watching.
So sit back and binge this weekend, on classics, old and new, on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Enjoy!