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 intriguing adds this week, so let’s get started!
Hulu has some interesting adds this week, like Mandibles, a 2020 French-Belgian comedy. David Marsais and Grégoire Ludig star here, as Jean-Gab and Manu, respectively, two idiots who discover a huge fly in the trunk of a car they stole and decide to train it, in hopes of becoming rich and famous. When they’re invited to a house party by a woman who mistakenly takes Manu as a former boyfriend, things get dicey, especially under the keen eye of fellow partier Agnès(Adèle Exarchopoulos), who can only speak loudly after a ski accident. Hilarity ensues. India Hair, Roméo Elvis, Coralie Russier and Bruno Lochet also star, while the famed Quentin Dupieux(Deerskin) directs. And Dominque the fly is a wonderfully thoughtful character. This had its world premiere at the 77th Venice International Film Festival in 2020 and Ludig and Marsais won Best Actor at the 2020 Sitges – Catalonian International Film Festival. And it gets an amazing 92% on Rotten Tomatoes and Wendy Ide of the Observer (UK) wrote its ” a portrait of friendship, viewed through the compound eye of a mutant insect, it is multidimensional and rather moving.” I’m definitely tuning in. But, if you want something perhaps more cerebral, Hulu has also added Malfunction: The Dressing Down of Janet Jackson, the latest investigative piece in the New York Times Presents series. This considers the now infamous incident at the 1993 Super Bowl half-time show, when guest performer Justin Timberlake accidently tore Janet Jackson’s top too much, exposing her breast for (gasp) a few milli-seconds. On one live feed. And for all that Jackson‘s career plummeted afterward, while Timberlake‘s soared. But this episode isn’t just about the Super Bowl incident, but how women in this country are held to a ridiculous and impossible-to-uphold puritanical standard by the entertainment community, but also the culture at large, while ‘boys will be boys.’ Les Moonves, the head of CBS at the time(later to resign under pressure for numerous sexual harassment allegations), suggested that Jackson pay the resultant FCC fines. It also considers how Jackson was told as a child star on Good Times to lose weight, as she wasn’t thin enough. It’s all told infuriatingly well by director Jodi Gomes and gets a 6.3/10 on IMDb. Jen Chaney of Vulture says “the whole atmosphere after that Super Bowl is, still, shocking in its hurtfulness. A woman who was famous for being in control had it literally stripped away from her.” We should all watch, even if it makes your blood boil. But Hulu also has The Curse of Von Dutch: A Brand to Die For, a Hulu original docuseries. This three parter considers the ill-fated Von Dutch brand of clothing, named for hot rod artist Kenny “Von Dutch” Howard, popular with California celebs, like Paris Hilton, Jay–Z, Tommy Lee and Pamela Sue Anderson, during the early 2000′s. But soon, the company became a maelstrom of discontent, with in-fighting that led to fist fights among the company owners on site. After drug dealing and colluding with criminals like the Escobar family, Von Dutch was finally brought down after one of the founders Michael Cassel was found guilty of murder. All 3 episodes are directed by Andrew Renzi. But though this series gets a 7.5/10 , I wouldn’t recommend it, it’s just a sordid sleazy true crime tale. The Decider says to “skip it,” and Andrea Han of the Hollywood Reporter writes “the narrative shoots itself in the foot with its framing. The Curse of Von Dutch is really an awkward marriage of two stories…the filmmakers’ apparent lack of interest in seeking the objective truth between sometimes conflicting accounts makes it impossible to tell how much stock we should put in anything anyone is saying,.” Not watching. And, finally, Hulu has added Jean of the Joneses, a 2016 comedy. Taylour Paige stars as Jean Jones, a junior member of the Jamaican-American Jones clan, with some definite secrets that come to light when an older man(Ardon Bess) shows up on the doorstep of her grandmother, Daphne (Michelle Hurst) only to die on the spot. When it turns out he’s her grandfather, and not welcome even after death, the family is flung into chaos. Gloria Reuben, Sherri Shepherd, , Michelle Hurst, Mamoudou Athie and Francois Arnaud also star, while newbie Stella Meghie wrote and directed this masterpiece. Meghie has been compared to Robert Altman by Variety with this work, and comparisons to Zadie Smith and Woody Allen have also been made. This was also nominated for multiple awards in 2017, and won Audience Award and the Prix du jury at the Champs-Élysées Film Festival that year. And it gets a 75% on Rotten Tomatoes, and Michael Rechtshaffen of Hollywood Reporter said “introducing both a fresh new voice and a fresh new face to independent filmmaking, Jean of the Joneses is a crisply urbane comedy from first-time writer-director Stella Meghie, boasting a sparkling lead performance by Taylour Paige.” I’m definitely tuning in.
Netflix has some huge adds this week, but one of their hugest(?) is tick, tick…BOOM!, an autobiographical drama directed by Lin-Manuel Miranda(!), in his directorial feature debut. Andrew Garfield(Silence, Hacksaw Ridge) stars as the late great Jonathan Larson, composer of Rent, before he began work on the classic, in 90’s NYC, working in a diner, and on sci-fi musical, Superbia. He works through the uncertainty and fear of managing to produce a Broadway show, while dealing with the smaller dreads in life, like growing up and committing to a relationship. And the neighborhood feel to his SOHO life is entrancing. Alexandra Shipp plays his girlfriend Susan, Robin de Jesús his best friend Michael, and Bradley Whitford(!), Judith LIght(!), Vanessa Hudgens, Joshua Henry and Richard Kind(!) also star, and this is all based on an early autobiographical work by Larson himself. This has already been nominated for 1 award this year, Best Music Themed Film, Biopic or Musical at the Hollywood Music In Media Awards (HMMA), and watch for more. And it gets a stupendous 8/10 on IMDb, with Kristy Puchko of Mashable writing “Miranda’s tick, tick…Boom! is (New York City’s) rapturous love song, a collaboration between himself, and Stevenson, and Larson, and all of us who sing along.” I’m watching..twice. Netflix also offers Hellbound, the 2021 South Korean horror series. In a fantasy earth brought to us by director Yeon Sang-ho(Train to Busan!), smoke monsters are attacking people and dragging them to hell(?), and detective Jin Kyeong-hoon(Yang Ik-june) is brought in to investigate the first murders. But members of the YouTube religious cult New Truth Society and its leader Jeong Jin-soo(Yoo Ah-in) don’t appreciate him impeding what is supposedly “God‘s plan,” so the detective’s life is threatened from all sides. And as Kyeong-hoon searches for his daughter and tries to save lives, the cult applauds the deaths as righteous rewards. But are they so righteous themselves as to avoid harm? Kim Hyun-joo also stars as the lawyer trying to protect “sinners” from sure death, and Yang Ik-joon, Victoria Grace, Chase Yi, Jeong Min Park and Harrison Xu also star, and there are 6 terrifying episodes now available. But beware, it’s not just chickens like me who find this disturbing, but even Zosha Millman of Polygon says “the attacks feel animalistic and brutal, much more tangibly violent than, say, Sam Raimi’s brand of playful gore.” That said, it gets an incredible 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. Daniel Hart of Ready Steady Cut writes “it’s hard to keep your eyes away from Hellbound because the concept is so enticing and addictive.” but it’s too scary for me. Luckily for me, Netflix also offers Love Me Instead, a 2021 Turkish film. Ercan Kesal plays Sedat, here, a prison guard enlisted to accompany a convict, Musa, played by Sarp Akkaya, to visit his daughter Yonca(Aleyna Özgeçen), who he hasn’t seen for years. But the Yonca he meets is a shill, for his daughter was killed years ago, and when Musa discovers that, he sets out to find out who is responsible for her death. Songül Öden, Füsun Demirel, Dogukan Polat, Ali Seçkiner Alici and Sinan Arslan also star, and master filmmaker Mehmet Ada Öztekin(Kaybedenler Kulübü Yolda) directs here. And it gets an amazing 7.2/10 on IMDb. Romey Norton of Ready Steady Cut calls it “a good watch…an investigative story, filled with secrets, mystery, and revenge,” It’s on my list. Also new and notable on Netflix is Prayers for the Stolen, a 2021 Mexican drama. This focuses on a girl Ana (Ana Cristina Ordóñez González) living high in the mountains in a secluded village with her mother Rita(Mayra Batalla), living in a seemingly pristine paradise. But it’s far from that ideal, as Rita hides her young daughter in a hole under the floor at night if strangers come, fearing her young girl will be ‘disappeared,’ like so many other women and girls in Mexico today. Ana and her two best friends Maria (Blanca Itzel Pérez) and Paula (Camila Gaal) survive in each other’s company, ignoring the fear so palpable among the adults of the village, who cut the children’s hair short, supposedly for “lice,” but really for the purpose of shielding the girls as “boys.” Marya Membreño, Giselle Barrera Sánchez, Alejandra Camacho portray the girls as preteens in an increasingly dangerous world, and Memo Villegas, Olivia Lagunas, Norma Paulo, Eileen Yanez and David Illescas also star and documentarian Tatiana Huezo debuts her directorial feature drama here. This is “liberally adapted” from Jennifer Clement’s 2014 novel of the same name, and it gets a impressive 7.3/10 on IMDb. Jessica Kiang of Variety says “the film may be called Prayers for the Stolen, but it is much more a heartbroken lament for the circuits that are broken when the stealing happens, and for the spaces the stolen leave behind.” I’m definitely tuning in. And, finally, Netflix has Animal, a 2021 nature series. Here, we get four glorious and immersive looks into different groups of wild animals, with big cats, wild dogs, marsupials and octopi covered. Bryan Cranston Rashida Jones, Rebel Wilson, and Pedro Pascal each narrate one episode, as we get to view animals in their native habitat, dealing with challenges both natural and man-made. And the amazingly intimate and beautiful cinematography is provided by Roger Horrocks and Jon Shaw. And this show gets a stunning 8/10 on IMDb. But be forewarned, there is violence and bloodshed filmed here, with hunting by the animals being shown. But Meenal Mehta of LeisureByte calls it “heartwarming and fascinating…..[with] some beautiful moments in the series that made my heart melt.” I agree. I’m watching.
Amazon‘s amazingly huge add this week is The Wheel of Time, it’s anxiously awaited 2021 fantasy series. Based on Robert Jordan‘s cycle of fantasy novels of the same name, this tells the story of the enchantress Moiraine Damodred, played by Rosamund Pike(!),leader of the Aes Sedai, who takes 5 young people on a journey, to find which one of them is destined to be the reincarnation of the Dragon, a magical creature who will save their people. She is accompanied by her sidekick and swordsman Lan (Daniel Henney), as group is confronted with mystical dangers and fantastical creatures. Madeleine Madden, Zoë Robins, Josha Stradowski, Marcus Rutherford, Abdul Salis, Barney Harris and Álvaro Morte also star, and there are 3 episodes to binge on now, with 5 more coming soon, one dropping each Friday. But it isn’t the perfect adaptation, with substantial cuts(the first scene of the book didn’t make it), and the New York Times says it “goes nowhere fast.” Still, it gets a 7.4/10 on IMDb. But with only a 68% on Rotten Tomatoes, it isn’t a sure thing. Especially if you love the books. Amazon has also added the 1st season of Magellan, the French mystery series available from the MHZ channel. Jacques Spiesser stars as Commissionaire/Inspector Magellan living in Bordeaux, and taking care of his two daughters, while solving a new crime each week. His partner, Lieutenant Berrayah, played by Selma Kouchy, is his savvy counterpart, who always carries the gun he eschews, in case something comes up. Nathalie Besançon plays his girlfriend and journalist Florence, and Marie de Stefano, Bernard Alane, Franz-Rudolf Lang, Flore Bonaventura, Lou Howard and Yamine Dib also star, and there are 9 episodes available to devour in the 11 days left in it’s availability. Which shouldn’t be hard to do, considering it gets a 7.3/10 on IMDb. And, finally, Amazon is offering a free view of the first episode of Showtime‘s new boffo horror series Yellowjackets. Here, the 1996 championship high school girls Yellowjackets soccer team gets stranded after their plane crashes on the way to compete, and they disappear for 19 months. In the wilderness, teammates Shauna(Sophie Nélisse), Jackie (Ella Purnell), Taissa (Jasmin Savoy Brown) and Natalie (Sophie Thatcher) rise to the top of the group as they fight to survive, including hunting for food. And best friends betray each other, with new alliances being drawn, with people still dying to know what really happened 25 years after the incident. Christina Ricci(!), Julliette Lewis(!), Samantha Hanratty, Keeya King and Stephen Kreuger also star, and Ashley Lyle(Dispatches From Elsewhere) and Bart Nickerson(also Dispatches From Elsewhere) created this series. And it gets an incredible 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. And if you’re tempted for more, Amazon offers a free 7-day trial of their Showtime channel to get it done. But I would recommend Showtime free 30-day trial, and only $3.99/month for four months afterward, which you can access right here.
So sit back and binge this weekend, on classics, old and new, on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Enjoy!