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 some interesting add this week, like Playing God, a 2021 comedy. Hannah Kasulka and Luke Benward play sister and brother con team Rachel and Micah, pulling mostly small jobs, until Micah ends up coning the wrong guy, and he’s out for blood, or his $100,000 back. So they go for a big job, i.e., trying to convince a grieving billionaire, played by Alan Tudyk, in search of God, that they know the big guy themselves, and can get him an interview. Michael McKean(!) plays God, actually the pair’s old mentor, Frank, and Jude Demorest, Marc Menchaca, Leighton B. Allen, Elle LaMont and Raoul Canoli(as Jesus!) also star, while Scott Brignac(This is Where We Live) directs. And, no, the script isn’t perfect, but the cast is(almost). And it gets a 69% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Chris Vognar of the Houston Chronicle writing “what doesn’t work on a logic level makes sense according to the characters and performances. And the twists – a con movie always has twists – are quite satisfying, even if you see them coming.” I’m watching. Hulu also offers Monuments, a 2020 comedy. David Sulivan plays Ted Daniels, here, a young husband knocked for a loop by the death of his wife, Laura(Marguerite Moreau), and so, takes off with her ashes, stealing a truck, and heads from Colorado to Chicago to strew her ashes there. So, pursued by the police, and accompanied, sometimes, by his wife’s ghost, he heads for the Field Museum(!) to spread Laura‘s ashes there. Kathy Scambiatterra, Keith Kupfer, Paulina Olszynski, Shunori Ramanathan and Javier Muñoz also star, and Jack C. Newell(42 Grams) directs. This is not your average comedy treatment of death, with dancing and even puppets! And it gets an 80% on Rotten Tomatoes. Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times said it “is at times grounded, at times almost hallucinogenic – and always smart and entertaining.” It’s on my list. Also new on Hulu is Breaking News in Yuba County, a 2021 comedy starring Allison Janney. Here, Janney stars as Sue Buttons, a bored and ignored wife in suburbia, who one day reports her husband, Karl (Matthew Modine), missing to the press, specifically her sister, Nancy (Mila Kunis). But things quickly spin out of control, since he’s not merely missing, and Nancy becomes a key suspect in his abduction(or worse), especially as Karl took 3 million dollars with him. Awkwafina(!),Regina Hall(!), Wanda Sykes(!), Jimmi Simpson, Clifton Collins Jr. and Bridget Everett also star, while Tate Taylor(Winter’s Bone!) directs. But the movie’s excellent pedigree doesn’t quite sell many critics. It gets only an 11%(!) on Rotten Tomatoes, but a 5.7/10 on IMDb. But Stephen Romei of The Australian wrote “I quite liked it, for the performances, for its quick-witted script and for its subversion of the traditional crime drama.” I’m tuning in. And, finally, Hulu has Enemies of the State, a 2020 documentary. This tells the story of Matt DeHart, a computer whiz once active in the Anonymous hacker group, as well as WikiLeaks and even being a National Guard intelligence analyst, pursued by the FBI for having top secret documents. His parents, Leann and Paul, are convinced he’s innocent, and fed by certain conspiracy theories, go out on a limb for him. But was he really a whistleblower, or a traitor looking to sell government secrets? Director Sonia Kennebeck deftly leads us through this labyrinth with tension worthy of a thriller. Enemies of the State was nominated for several awards in 2021, including Best Political Documentary at the Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards and Best Documentary Feature at Tribeca. And this film gets a 78% on Rotten Tomatoes, and Jacob Silverman of New Republic called it a “disturbing, occasionally mind-bending film an altogether more impressive achievement.” I’m definitely watching.
The huge add on Netflix this week is The Harder They Fall, the 2021 Idris Elba(!) western. Elba plays the villainous Rufus Buck, broken out of a prison rail car by his right hand henchwoman, “Treacherous” Trudy Smith(Regina King!), leading outlaw Nat Love, played by Jonathan Majors, to seek his revenge against him. Love is aided by his own gang, including sharpshooter Bill Pickett (Edi Gathegi) and gunfighter Jim Beckwourth(RJ Cyler). Zazie Beetz stars as Love’s former sweetheart Stagecoach Mary, and Lakeith Stanfield(!), Danielle Deadwyler, Delroy Lindo and Damon Waysn Jr.(!) also star, while Jeymes Samuel, as well as co-writing the screenplay with Boaz Yakin. It’s a super fun(and super violent) send-up of the western and blacksploitation movie with cuts from Jay-Z, Fela Kuti and Nina Simone(!), that gets an 86% on Rotten Tomatoes. Matt Zoller Seitz of RogerEbert.com calls it “a bloody pleasure: a revenge Western packed with memorable characters played by memorable actors, each scene and moment staged for voluptuous beauty and kinetic power.” I’m definitely tuning in. Netflix also offers Glória, a 2021 Portuguese spy series. This tells the true story of João Vidal(Miguel Nunes), a young engineer living in the small town of Glória do Ribatejo, Portugal, in the 1960‘s, who decides to play for both sides in the Cold War. So both the CIA and KGB move into the town, bent on finding the traitor. Matt Rippy, Stephanie Vogt, Carolina Amaral, Afonso Pimentel, Victória Guerra, Adriano Luz and Augusto Madeira also star, and there are 8 episodes available for binging now. And this series gets an amazing 7.6/10 on IMDb, with Joel Keller of the Decider saying it “takes the standard Cold War spy drama and places it in a unique setting, which sets up some intriguing scenarios for missions to be executed and/or thwarted.” And the score is great. Also new on Netflix is Love Hard, a 2021 romance. Nina Dobrev(The Perks of Being a Wallflower) stars as Natalie Bauer, an L.A. writer who, in desperation, resorts to a dating app to find true love, thinking she’s found the perfect guy, only to find nothing is as it seems. When she goes to Lake Placid to meet her beloved, she instead found Josh, played by Jimmy O. Yang(Crazy Rich Asians) a less than spectacular guy who used a pic of an old friend Tag (Darren Barnet), to charm her. Takayo Fischer, James Saito, Rebecca Staab, Mikaela Hoover and Harry Shum Jr. also star, while Hernán Jiménez directs. But we’ve all seen this material before, with better writing, too. And Love Hard gets a mere 50% on Rotten Tomatoes. Monica Castillo of RogerEbert.com says “this cookie cutter rom-com has nothing more or less than what its subgenre demands.” I agree. Don’t bother. Because Netflix also has The Club, a 2021 Turkish period drama series. Originally titled Kulüp, this takes place in 1950’s Istanbul, where Matilda Aseo, played by Gökçe Bahadir, is released from prison, and urged to meet her adult daughter Raşel (Asude Kalebek).She refuses out of guilt, going to work in a nightclub as a singer, but when her daughter is arrested, Matilda finally steps in. Merve Seyma Zengin, Baris Arduç, Firat Tanis, Salih Bademci and Istar Gökseven also star, and there are 6 episodes available to devour now. And this series gets a stunning 8.2/10 on IMDb. The Decider says to stream it, and so do I; I love historical dramas. And, finally, Netflix has added Yara, a 2021 crime drama. Based on the true story of murdered 13-year old Yara Gambirasio, Isabella Ragonese stars as Chief Investigator Letizia Ruggeri, who searched for the girl for months, and even withstood discord in her own daughter, when the case takes its toll on her personal life. And while she ignores calls for her resignation, because she is a woman, she instead proceeds to set up a DNA database for the case evidence, to root out the killer. Alessio Boni, Chiara Bono, Thomas Trabacchi, Sandra Toffolatti and Mario Pirrello also star, and Marco Tullio Giordana(The Best of Youth) directs. And Yara gets a 5.8/10 on IMDb, and Jade Budowski of The Decider calls it “a wholly effective crime drama, combining a chilling mystery with the emotional journey of our relentless investigator. It’s bound to please thriller fans and true crime junkies alike.” I’m definitely watching.
One of the most exciting adds online, and certainly on Amazon, this week is The Electrical Life of Louis Wain, a 2021 British biographical drama. This tells the story of eccentric British cat artist Louis Wain, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, who started adult life as a young man struggling to care for his 5 sisters in Victorian England, and finds them a governess, Emily, played by Claire Foy(!). And their romance and marriage seems to energize his life, compelling him toward art and cats, and fantastical art featuring cats. Toby Jones(!), Andrea Riseborough(!), Norbury Ackland, Dorothy Atkinson, Richard Ayoade and Amber Victoria Bray also star, and Will Sharpe(Black Pond) directed. Oh, and Olivia Colman(!) narrates our story! This movie was nominated for 4 awards in 2021, including Best Production Design for Suzie Davies, and gets a 71% on Rotten Tomatoes. Ty Burr of Ty Burr’s Watch List wrote “the use of contrasting tones works exceptionally well, with director/co-writer Will Sharpe keeping things fizzy and fast-paced on the surface while making sure we’re privy to the private anguish of a man who slowly left the real world behind.” I’m tuning in. Amazon also offers Sardar Udham, a 2021 historical drama from India. This tells the story of Sardar Udham Singh, a Punjabi activist, intent on avenging the infamous 1919 Jallianwala Bagh massacre in Amritsar, where 340 to 1500 peaceful protesters were killed. Vicky Kaushal plays Singh, growing up in poverty and working in a textile mill near Amritsar, when the massacre took place, at the hands of General Dyer(Andrew Havill), under orders from Michael O’Dwyer (Shaun Scott),then lieutenant Governor of the Punjab. Singh disappeared in Afghanistan, but finally, scarred by his experience, he killed O’Dwyer in 1940. Amol Parashar, Banita Sandhu, Kirsty Averton, Ritesh Shah and Manas Tiwari also star, and Shoojit Sircar directs. This film was shortlisted for Best Foreign Film at the 84th Academy Awards, and gets an incredible 9/10 on IMDb. Anna M.M. Vetticad of Firstpost said “in an India where generating fake news pays rich dividends, Shoojit Sircar has chosen to recount a remarkable – and painful – true story with a reliance on facts alone.” I’m watching. And, finally, Amazon has made Season 1 of Under Suspicion, a 2014 Spanish crime drama series from PBS Masterpiece available. Two undercover detectives, Víctor Reyes (Yon González) and Laura Cortés (Blanca Romero), investigate the disappearance of 7 year-old Alicia Vega (Aroa Palacios), in the small town of Cienfuegos. When they realize that the girl must have been killed by one of the attendees at her First Communion celebration at the family restaurant, the mystery deepens. Lluís Homar, Olivia Molina, Hugo Becker, Gonzalo de Castro, Unax Ugalde and Marcial Álvarez also star, and there are 8 episodes available for streaming now. Yon González won Best Actor at the 2016 Fotogramas de Plata for his role here, and the series gets an astounding 7.6/10 on IMDb, And I love a mystery. I’m definitely tuning in. But be sure to turn on subtitles, and watch before November 30, when the whole series disappears back to the premium PBS Masterpiece channel.
So sit back and binge this weekend, on classics, old and new, on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Enjoy!