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 scary good adds this week, so let’s get started!
Hulu has a exciting new add this week with Settlers, the 2021 British sci-fi thriller. Here, a family in the future has left Earth for a colony on Mars, with Reza(Jonny Lee Miller) and Ilsa (Sofia Boutella) caring for their nine year-old daughter, Remmy (Brooklynn Prince of t\he Florida Project!), and raising crops in isolation on the planet. But one day they’re greeted by a threatening message written(in English) on their window, and violence ensues. Nell Tiger Free, Ismael Cruz Cordova ,Natalie Walsh and Matthew Van Leeve also star, while Wyatt Rockefeller directs(and writes the script). And yes, it gets only a 54% on Rotten Tomatoes, but it was also nominated for Best International Science Fiction Film at the 2021 Trieste Science+Fiction Festival. And it’s sci-fi. Peter Bradshaw of the Guardian said it “isn’t perfect: some of the storytelling beats aren’t hit as clearly as they could have been. But it’s a quietly impressive piece of work.” I’m watching. Hulu also offers For Madmen Only: The Stories of Del Close , a 2020 documentary. This guides us through the up and down life of Del Close, an improv legend, who started out in the St Louis company Compass Players(founded by Mike Nichols and Elaine May!), and then went to Chicago’s famed Second City, staying for years, only to leave over his dedication to improv and their decision to use scripted material. He was a coach to many great SNLers(many also Second City alumni) like Bill Murray, Tina Fey, John Belushi and Amy Poehler, and then influenced SCTV members like John Candy and Dave Thomas. He went on to do two comedy albums, like The Do-It-Yourself Psychoanalysis Kit, and starred in multiple movies, like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and then wrote an autobiographical DC comic book, Wasteland. The most fascinating parts of the movie are spent with comics like Belushi, Candy and Bob Odenkirk, describing Close‘s influence not only on performers, but on the very survival of improv itself. And you get to enjoy rare footage of Close himself, masterfully put together by director Heather Ross. And this movie was nominated for 2 awards last year, including Best Documentary Feature at the SXSW Film Festival, and it gets an impressive 92% on Rotten Tomatoes. Brian Tallertico of RogerEbert.com says its “essential for comedy fans and historians.” And it’s funny. I’m watching. Hulu has also added Maybe This Year, a 2021 sports documentary. This tells the story of football fanaticism in all of us, by giving us an up close and personal look at 4 Philadelphia Eagles fans, who have had a lot to put up with, never winning the Super Bowl, until 2017. There’s Shirley Dash,a.k.a. “Eagles Shirley,” who frequently calls sports radio shows to vent her frustration with the team, Barry Vagnoni, a super fan who built a 20000 sq. ft. clubhouse in his backyard, instead of retiring to Florida. Bryant Moreland was another disgruntled fan, who actually has a YouTube channel, that was at the time dedicated to Eagles rants. And there’s Jesse Callsen, whose forebears passed fervor for the Eagles, with a special needs son, and a father dying of cancer. And they all get to see an impossible dream come true. Director Kyle Thrash pulls the four stories together to represent a city in dire need of a win from the home team. And the movie gets a 78% on Rotten Tomatoes, and an incredible 8.3/10 on IMDb. And you don’t have to love sports to enjoy it, because there are some pretty interesting characters portrayed here. Chris Salce of Film Threat calls it ” the best football documentary I have watched, and also one of the best sports documentaries for that matter.” And, finally, just in time for Halloween, Hulu has added The Devil’s Doorway, a 2018 British horror flick. Here, two priests, Father Thomas Riley(Lalor Roddy) and Father John Thornton(Ciaran Flynn) head to 1960’s Northern Ireland in search of a miracle, specifically, a Madonna statue weeping blood at an asylum for “immoral women.” But what they find is far more sinister, and deadly. Aislinn Clarke, Helena Bereen, Lauren Coe, Dearbhail Carr and Carleen Melaugh also star, and Aislinn Clarke also directs, as well as writing the script, here. And this was nominated for multiple awards in`2018, including Best Actor for Roddy, Best Director and Best Film at the Molins Film Festival in Barcelona. And it gets a 70% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Fionnuala Halligan of Screen International wrote “two strong leads, the doubting priest Lalor Roddy and the Nurse Ratchet-like Mother Superior played with gusto by Helena Bereen, help distinguish this Exorcist update and mark Clarke as a talent to watch.” Because I know you need horror.
The big add on Netflix this Halloween week is Hypnotic, a 2021 thriller. Kate Siegel(The Haunting of Hill House) stars, here, as Jenn Tompson, an unemployed woman with general anxiety who feels in a rut, whose best friend recommends hypnotherapist Dr. Collin Meade(Jason O’Mara). She opts in and feels better after her first session, but then finds herself losing large blocks of her day, unable to account for what’s happened. So she digs deeper, and finds herself helping Portland police Detective Rollins(Dule Hill) further investigate Dr. Meade. But will she survive to see it through. Lucie Guest, Jaime M. Callica, Darien Martin, Luc Roderique and Devyn Dalton also star, and Matt Angel and Suzanne Coote direct. But it’s not very scary(or realistic), just a ridiculous cliché. And it gets only a 36% on Rotten Tomatoes. But Lena Wilson of the NY Times says “while the resulting cat-and-mouse dynamic is predictable, particularly if you’ve ever watched a Lifetime movie, Hypnotic takes its cartoonishness to admirable heights.” You decide. But Netflix also has Army of Thieves, the 2021 prequel to Army of the Dead. Matthias Schweighöfer reprises his AOD role of Ludwig Dieter, here still working as a bank teller in Potsdam, bored enough with his mundane life to host a YouTube channel on safecracking, where he gets a mysterious message inviting him to a safecracking contest. And so, after winning, he becomes involved in a heist crew, led by Gwendoline Starr(Nathalie Emmanuel), determined to break into three bank safes, due to be decommissioned in a week. Ruby O. Fee, Stuart Martin, Guz Khan, Jonathan Cohen and Noémie Nakai also star, and Matthias Schweighöfer directs as well. But beware, there are few zombies here, save the ones Dieter views in distant Nevada on YouTube. But it’s fun comedic turn is more to my taste. And it gets a 71% on Rotten Tomatoes. Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times writes “thanks to Schweighöfer‘s stylish, Italian Job-influenced directing, a sense of its own ridiculous nature and some fabulous performances by the charming and good-looking supporting cast, “Army of Thieves” is the very definition of entertaining…” I’m watching. Also new on Netflix is Colin in Black and White, a 2021 limited biographical docuseries brought to us by Ava DuVernay(!) and Colin Kaepernick. Here, we’re given a tour of Colin Kaepernick‘s life, narrated by Kaepernick himself, starting in 8th grade, where even then, his dedication to activism for human rights is plain to see. Jaden Michael plays that young Kaepernick, where even then as the biracial child of white parents, he is ill-prepared for the racism he encounters. Mary-Louise Parker stars as his mom, Teresa Kaepernick and Nick Offerman plays his dad Rick. Howard M. Lockie, Mace Coronel, Amarr, Jacob Buster and Klarke Pipkin also star, and there are 6 episodes available to enjoy now, with Duvernay herself directing one, and Robert Townsend(!) directing two! And it gets a 77% on Rotten Tomatoes. Dan Einav of the Financial Times calls it “a vibrant hybrid of scripted coming-of-age tale, dramatised caustic sketches and short lessons about black history and present-day inequality narrated by Kaepernick.” I’m tuning in. But Netflix also offers The Sparks Brothers, a 2021 music doc. This rockumentary directed by Edgar Wright(Shaun of the Dead) introduces many of us to the greatest and most influential pop band you’ve never heard of(including me) the Sparks Brothers, consisting of Ron and Russel integral to most of the pop groups today by giving us interviews with some of the greatest and most innovative musical artists today, including Beck, Flea, Jane Wiedlin and Todd Rundgren, as well as other admirers like Fred Armisen, Patton Oswalt, Neil Gaiman and Mike Myers. It had its world premiere at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, where it was a hit, and was nominated for multiple awards this year, including Best First Documentary Feature and Best Director for Wright. And it gets an incredible 95% on Rotten Tomatoes, and a 7.9/10 on IMDb. Robbie Collin of the Daily Telegraph said its “Less a documentary than an intensive course of art-pop hypnotherapy: even those who enter the cinema knowing next to nothing about the pair will leave feeling like lifelong enthusiasts.” It’s on my list. And, finally, Netflix has added U-Turn, a 2016 Indian horror movie. Shraddha Srinath stars as Rachana, an intern with the The Indian Express, who is investigating an illegal U-turn set up in neighborhood in Bangalore, when one of the people she was set to interview is found dead, and she is arrested for homicide. Upon discovering it was suicide, they find other people in the neighborhood who, after taking the wrong turn, also committed suicide. So Rachana takes the U-turn and waits to see what happens. Roger Narayan plays Sub-inspector Nayak and Radhika Chetan, Dileep Raj, Skanda Ashok, Krishna Hebbale and Pratibha Nandakumar also star, and Pawan Kumar(Lucia) directed. This film won several awards in 2017, including Best Actress for Srinath and Best Actor for Narayan at the South Indian International Movie Awards. And it gets a stunning 7.5/10 on IMDb. Malavika Avinash of Filmibeat called it an “M. Night Shyamalan kind of experience that lets you have the thrill of suspending your disbelief coupled with moments of illumination.” I’m tuning in. If it’s not too scary. Oh, and the 2021 Filipino remake of U-Turn is also available on Netflix, but it gets only a 4.4/10 on IMDb, and isn’t really worth the time. Stick with the original.
Amazon has one interesting add this week, with Maradona: Blessed Dream, a 2021 Argentinian biographical drama series. It tells the true story of Diego Armando Maradona, a soccer legend, with Nazareno Casero playing the young Diego, growing up in poverty in the barrio of Villa Fiorito in Buenos Aires, as he goes on to be picked to play for the Argentinos Juniors. Juan Palomino plays the adult Maradona, as he goes on to stardom with the Barcelona team, while drugs, overdoses and scandals plagued his life. Julieta Cardinali, Laura Esquivel, Rita Cortese, Claudio Rissi, Jean Pierre Noher and Peter Lanzani also star, and there are 5 episodes available for binging now, with a new one dropping every Friday. And it gets an amazing 7.2/10 on IMDb. Scoopwhoop says “the casting is impressive….” and its “a must watch for every football lover.” I’m tuning in. Amazon is also making Season 1 of The Trouble With Maggie Cole, from a 2020 British comedy/drama on PBS Masterpiece available, but only through tomorrow! This tells the story of Maggie Cole, played by Dawn French, a busybody in the small town of Thurlbury, who calls herself the ‘local historian,’ who goes on to tell way too much about her friends and neighbors during a drunken appearance on a local radio show. Which leads to a great deal of acrimony and confrontation around town, with her quiet husband Peter(Mark Heap) trying to keep tempers from rising, especially amid calls for his resignation as a headmaster at school. Julie Hesmondhalgh, Vicki Pepperdine, Patrick Robinson, Phil Dunster and Gwyneth Keyworth also star, and there are 6 episodes to devour before November 1. Sean O’Grady of the Independent wrote “premise of this six-part drama set in a picturesque, close-knit English village is an excellent and irresistibly intriguing one,” and it gets a 6.4/10 on IMDb. It’s on my list. And, finally, Amazon has The Witch of Kings Cross, a 2020 Australian documentary. This tells the, again, true story of artist Rosaleen Norton, who became notorious in 1950‘s Sydney by claiming to be a witch, with an obsession with the occult and all things supernatural. She worshipped the God Pan, performed sex magic(?), and importantly, admired the occultist, artist and poet Aleister Crowley. All of which brought her condemnation by the press and persecution by the police. Kate Laxton plays Norton in reenactments, with Damien Grima playing Pan and Lukas Rose playing Lucifer(!), while Sonia Bible directed. This went on to win multiple awards, including Best Female Filmmaker for Bible at the 2021 Chicago Indie Film Awards, Best First Time Producer at the 2020 New York International Film Awards, and Best Documentary Feature at the 2021 Canadian Cinematography Awards. And it gets a 6.6/10 on IMDb. Alexandra Heller-Nicholas of ABC Radio called it ” an enthralling validation of the importance of the until-now largely forgotten place of Rosaleen Norton in Australian 20th century art and cultural history.” It’s on my list.
So sit back and binge this weekend, on classics, old and new, on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Enjoy!