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 new adds this week, so let’s get started!
Hulu has some big adds this week, like Bergman Island, the 2021 drama. Vicky Krieps and Tim Roth star as Chris and Tony, here, a couple of filmmakers who travel one summer to Fårö island, where the legendary Ingmar Bergman filmed many of his most famous movies, to rest, relax and find inspiration from their hero and the ghosts that linger from his shoots. But when they get put up in the house where Bergman filmed Scenes from a Marriage, where the central couple fought and finally divorced, Chris, especially, finds the whole atmosphere oppressive, and wonders if she can stay. In fact, she wonders about a lot of things, most importantly, if one can be a productive artist, and an involved mother, at the same time. And we see Chris‘s own film run parallel to her life, with Mia Wasikowska playing a young filmmaker, Amy, who falls in love in her teens, with Joseph (Anders Danielsen Lie), and wonders if she must give him up, to be successful in her own life. Grace Delrue, Joel Spira, Gabe Klinga, Hampus Nordenson, Clara Strauch and Stig Björkman also star, and Mia Hansen-Løve(Things to Come, Searching for Ingmar Bergman) directed. And this masterful film was nominated for the Palme d’Or at Cannes last year, as well as Best Film at the Seville European Film Festival and the International Film Festival of India in 2021, as well. And it gets an 87% on Rotten Tomatoes. Alissa Wilkinson of Vox wrote “you don’t actually have to love Ingmar Bergman, or even have seen a Bergman movie, to find Bergman Island terrific. Thoughtful, layered, deceptively light, it’s among Hansen-Løve’s best work.” I’m watching. But Hulu has also added I’m Your Man, the 2021 futuristic comedy. Maren Eggert stars as Alma, an archaeologist in Berlin, struggling to find funding for her project, and so she reluctantly agrees to take part in research, specifically, to test run a new robotic soulmate. That android is Tom, played by Dan Stevens(yes, Downton Abbey) and, initially, his perfection is hard for Alma to bear, and his mechanical nature hard for her to forget, so the facilitator (Sandra Hüller) cheerily intervenes, and coaches her. Wolfgang Hübsch plays her father, battling dementia, and Hans Löw, Annika Meier, Jürgen Tarrach, Henriett Reichter-Röhl and Monika Oschek also star, and Maria Schrader directed. And this film won multiple awards last year, including Best Actress for Eggert, Best Screenplay for Jan Schomburg and Maria Schrader and Best Director for Schrader at the German Film Awards. And it gets an amazing 96% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Brian Tallerico of RogerEbert.com writing “a film that defies its set-up as a familiar, quirky rom-com to become something deeper and more poignant about the human condition.” I’m definitely tuning in. Hulu has also added their in-house production Sex Appeal, a 2022 teen comedy. Mika Abdalla stars as Avery Hansen-White, a star science student whose long-distance boyfriend announces plans to get serious the next time they meet, sending her into a panic, as she’s never even kissed. So she comes upon the idea for an app for less experienced girls- Sex App/eal– which will teach them the basics. But she has to practice first, hopefully with her best friend Larson (Jake Short). Margaret Cho, Rebecca Henderson and Fortune Feimster play Avery’s 3 moms, and Mason Versaw, Paris Jackson, Tate Hanyok, Hayden Szeto and Artemis Pebdani also star, while Talia Osteen directed. But there’s nothing new here, though it’s a generally inoffensive movie. And it gets a 50% on Rotten Tomatoes .Josh Bell of CBR says “the predictability of Sex Appeal isn’t necessarily a problem, since part of the charm of a teen rom-com is its comforting familiarity. But Sex Appeal brings nothing new to the well-worn genre.” Don’t bother. And, finally, Hulu has added Black Bear, a 2020 dark comedy. In this two act piece, Aubrey Plaza plays actor-director Allison in the first act, who travels to a writer’s retreat in upstate New York, renting a room from Gabe and Blair (Christopher Abbott and Sarah Gadon), all the while mining their troubled relationship for future material. In the second, Gabe(Abbott) is the director filming on the same spot, with Allison(Plaza) starring as his unhappy wife and star, and Blair(Gadon) as her co-star and rival. And if Allison has anything to say about it, the show will not go on. Jennifer Kim, Paola Lázaro, Lindsay Burdge, Alexander Koch and Grantham Coleman also star, and Lawrence Michael Levine(Always Shine) directed. And Black Bear gets an 89% on Rotten Tomatoes. Jake Wilson of The Age (Australia) wrote “even if you spot the final twist coming a mile off, there are a few mysteries left to ponder — and on the other hand, there can be little doubt that Plaza’s performance is a tour de force.” It’s on my list.
Netflix, too, has some great adds this week, like Archive 81, a 2022 sci-fi thriller series. Mamoudou Athie stars as Dan Turner, a young film archivist who takes a job restoring badly burned video tapes from a terrible apartment fire in N.Y.C. in the 90‘s. But when he finds the videos were filmed by grad student Melody Pendras (Dina Shihabi), filming an oral history project about the building, the Visser, and that she ran afoul of some of the tenants, who seemed to be part of a (satanic?) cult, and that their bodies were never found, he becomes obsessed. And then weird events start occurring in his editing bay. Evan Jonigkeit, Matt McGorry, Julia Chan, Charlie Hudson III and Martin Donovan also star, and there are 8 chilling episodes available to enjoy now. And this series gets an incredible 94% on Rotten Tomatoes, and a 7.1/10 on IMDb. Lorraine Ali of the L.A. Times writes “the slow-building, addictive hour-long drama is smarter than your average ghoul fest.” But it may be too scary for me. Luckily, Netflix has also added The Journalist, a 2022 Japanese drama series. Ryôko Yonekura stars, here, as Anna Matsuda, a roving reporter for Touto News in Tokyo, who is assigned to investigate a new school, Eishin Academy, a pet project of the PM and his wife, which seems to be getting incredibly good deals on the land for the project. When she investigates, she finds efforts are being made to cover the PM’s involvement. But, just as she digs deeper, Matsuda is suddenly taken off the story. Hidetaka Yoshioka, Shinobu Terajima, Gô Ayano, Ryûsei Yokohama, Johanna Yukiko Haneda and Tomorô Taguchi also star, and there are 6 episodes available to devour now. This series was written and created by award-winning director Michihito Fujii. And it gets an astounding 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, and a 7.1/10 on IMDb. Daniel Hart of Ready Steady Cut says “the awful smell of the lack of accountability runs rife in this story. The series is applaudable in its realism.” I’m watching. Netflix has also added Photocopier, a 2022 Indonesian thriller flick. Shenina Syawalita Cinnamon stars as Sur, a good computer student from a conservative Muslim family, who suddenly loses her scholarship after a production party at the campus Mata Hari theatre company. Ominously, Sur has a gap in her memory of the night, and so she uses her computer skills and the help of an old friend, Amin (Chicco Kurniawan), who works as a “photocopier” at a neighborhood shop, to figure out what really happened. Lutesha, Jerome Kurnia, Dea Panendra, Giulio Parengkua and Lukman Sardi also star, while Wregas Bhanuteja, an award-winning shorts director, makes his full-length directing debut. And this movie gets a incredible 7.4/10 on IMDb. Wendy Ide of Screen International called it a “compelling tech-thriller unpicks the inequalities of Indonesia‘s conservative society, both economically and sexually, to deliver a powerful commentary on the considerable cost of pursuing the truth.” I’m tuning in. Also new on Netflix is Newton’s Cradle, a 2021 Egyptian drama series. Mona Zaki and Mohamed Mamdouh play an expectant, married couple, Hana and Hazem, in Cairo, who decide, almost on a whim, to have their coming baby in America, while on a business trip there, thus making the child an American citizen. But when Hazem‘s visa is delayed, Hana makes the fateful decision to go ahead, alone, and wait for him there. But Hana becomes stranded in her new land, with no help and plenty of difficulties. Muhammad Farrag, Sayed Ragab, Mayan El Sayed, Aïcha Ben Ahmed and Fatma Abd Alsalam also star, and there are 30 episodes available for binging now. It is written and directed by the director Tamer Mohsen, and gets an astounding 8.2/10 on IMDb. And it’s a huge hit in Egypt, and I’m tuning in. And, finally, Netflix has added This is Not a Comedy, a 2021 Mexican comedy/drama. This features the story of Gabriel(Gabriel Nuncio), turning 40 and unhappy with his life, doing stand-up comedy gigs only for the pay, voicing animal characters for commercials, and running low on finances, when his best friend Leyre(Cassandra Ciangherotti),asks him to be her sperm donor. Suddenly, he finds new meaning in life and new possibilities for his work. Adriana Paz, Alejandro Saevich,María Castellá, Eduardo Donjuan and Manolo Caro also star and Rodrigo Guardiola and Gabriel Nuncio co-directed here. This film won awards for Best Feature Film and Best Cinematography at the 2021 Guadalajara International Film Festival. And it gets a stupendous 8.2/10 on IMDb. But this is really not a comedy, but a mildly funny meditation on life and depression. Like Abirbhab Maitra of Ready Steady Cut wrote, “if you want some reflection on yourself, this film is for you to contemplate and perhaps find some.” So I’m watching.
Amazon has no new adds this weeks, but some interesting gems hidden in their line-up, like Mama Weed, the 2021 comedy/drama. This tells the story of Patience Portefeux (Isabelle Huppert!), a French/Arabic interpreter for the Paris Police, working to catch drug dealers, and trying to keep her aging mother (Liliane Rovère, of Call My Agent!) housed in a care facility, but months behind in the rent. So when she overhears the son of one of the nurses there, and tries to protect him, she finds herself in possession of a hoard of hash, and so, of course, goes to sell it, under the guise of Mama Weed. Hippolyte Girardot, Farida Ouchani, Iris Bry and Rebecca Marder also star, with Jean-Paul Salomé(Arsène Lupin) directing. And it gets a 78% on Rotten Tomatoes. Bilge Ebiri of Vulture wrote “that’s the magic of Huppert… her whirling, anxious performance is the main reason to see this picture.” I’m tuning in. Amazon also has the 1st season of The Defence, a 2018 Polish mystery series. This has three-year-old Nikola Szlezyngier disappearing, and her parents Angelika and Dawid(Michal Zurawski) becoming the primary suspects in her murder, although no body has yet been found. So Angelika enlists the support of her old friend lawyer Joanna Chylka, played by Magdalena Cielecka(Katarzyna Warnke), to help her. Joanna comes at once, with her intern, Kordian Orynski(Filip Plawiak), in tow. Piotr Zurawski, Jakub Gierszal, Ireneusz Czop, Helena Zawistowska and Ina Sobala also star, and there are 7 episodes available to enjoy now. But only until Feb. 1, when it will return to PBS Masterpiece territory, only to be seen for $5.99/ month. And, considering the series has been nominated for Best Fabular Series at the Polish Film Awards for two years in a row, I don’t think binging it will be difficult. And it gets a 6.9/10 on IMDb. Foreign Crime Drama called it ” a hard-charging thriller [that]s fast paced and goes in interesting directions.” I’m tuning in. And, finally, Amazon has Paper Moon, the late great Peter Bogdanovich classic from 1973. Here, in glorious black and white, we watch conman Moses Pray(Ryan O’Neal) pick up with a 9 year-old that might be his daughter, Addie Loggins(Tatum O’Neal!), and reluctantly take her on the road with him, to her aunt’s home in St. Jo, Missouri. Neither is happy with the arrangement, until Moses finds that Addie is an accomplished liar, and works almost seamlessly into his confidence schemes. So they wend their way across the Depression-era, poverty-stricken Midwest. Madeline Kahn stars as Trixie Delight, the exotic dancer Moses becomes entranced with, and John Hillerman, Burton Gilliam, P.J. Johnson, Randy Quaid, James N. Harrell and Rose-Mary Rumbley also star, in this movie that won multiple awards in 1974, like the Silver Seashell for Bogdanovich as well as a Special Jury Prize at the San Sebastián International Film Festival, Best Comedy for writer at the 1974 WGA(Writers Guild of America) Awards. And of course, Tatum O’Neal won the 1974 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, making her the youngest ever to win. And this is based on the 1971 novel Addie Pray, by Joe David Brown, which is excellent. And this classic movie gets a 93% on Rotten Tomatoes, and an 8.1/10 on IMDb. Jake Wilson of The Age (Australia) wrote “shot in black and white by the versatile cinematographer Laszlo Kovacs, this has a mix of folksiness and precise craft that anticipates the Coen brothers, aiming to charm and succeeding.” I’m watching twice.
So sit back and binge this weekend, on classics, old and new, on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Enjoy!