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 one huge add this week with Nightmare Alley the 2021 film noir thriller from Guillermo del Toro. In this remake of the 1947 classic starring Tyrone Power, Bradley Cooper takes on Power’s role of Stanton Carlisle, a down-on-his-luck rambler who stumbles onto a carnival, and after being taken in by a kind couple, Zeena (Toni Collette!), and her mentalist husband Pete (David Strathairn), manages to steal enough of their secrets to set off on his own. On his ascendance into 1940′s Buffalo elite, his guileless assistant Molly(Rooney Mara) help him to the top, unaware of his plans to con an abusive tycoon Ezra Grindle(Richard Jenkins), but when psychiatrist Lilith Ritter(Cate Blanchett) approaches him after a show, she may throw a monkey wrench into all his plans. Ron Perlman, Mary Steenburgen(!),Willem Dafoe(!), Mark Povinelli, Peter MacNeil and Holt McCallany also star, and this movie, like the original, is based on the 1946 novel of the same name by William Lindsay Gresham. This movie has won multiple awards already this season, like Movie of the Year at the AFI awards, and was just nominated for 3 BAFTAs this week.. And look for it again at the Oscar nominations next Tuesday(!). And it gets an 80% on Rotten Tomatoes, and a 7.3/10 on IMDb. Mark Kermode of the Observer wrote “from its bruised colour palette to its spiralling descent into madness and degradation, this is deliciously damnable fare, looking back through the prism of Del Toro‘s adventurous oeuvre to the existential angst of his vampiric feature debut, Cronos.” But be sure to see the original, too. Hulu has also added The Deep House, a 2021 horror movie. Here, a young couple Ben (James Jagger) and Tina (Camille Rowe) are on the prowl for a new location for their investigative You Tube channel, when they come upon the story of house in Southern France, intact and totally submerged for 50 years. When they take a dive to investigate, they find the doors and windows sealed, a strange thing in a flooded house. But things get stranger, when they gain entrance through the attic, and find articles still fixed to the wall about missing children, and worse yet, a near full size crucifix guarding a room. Eric Savin, Anne Claessens, Olivia Owen, Carolina Massey and Marie Caffier also star, while Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury co-direct. And this gets a 73% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Meagan Navarro of Bloody Disgusting writing it “more than unsettles through an eerie, otherworldly atmosphere and an exhilarating new twist to the haunted house.” Which means its way to scary for me. Also new on Hulu is The Beta Test, a 2021 satirical thriller. Jim Cummings(Thunder Road) stars as Jordan, a Hollywood talent agent, who accepts a mysterious invitation to an anonymous sexual encounter(masked) and goes(he’s engaged), only to really regret it later. But he never finds out who it was, and as he worries about the consequences, and being blackmailed, his paranoia takes hold, and he spirals out of control, damaging his career all by himself. P.J. McCabe(Cummings‘ co-director and writer) also star, and Virginia Newcomb, Kevin Changaris, Olivia Grace Applegate, Jessie Barr and Jacqueline Dolce also star, and Cummings and McCabe were nominated for multiple awards for their work here last year, including the Encounters Award at the Berlin International Film Festival. And this gets an impressive 93% on Rotten Tomatoes. Dolores Quintana of Dolores Quintana calls it “a laugh-out-loud funny horror satire that roasts men, specifically men in the entertainment industry, but also men who lack the ability to communicate and be truthful…” I’m watching. And, finally, Hulu has added Beans, the 2020 drama. This tells the story of Tekehentahkhwa, played by Kiawentiio, a 12 year-old Mohawk girl living in 1990‘s Oka, Quebec, who is trying to navigate adolescence while dealing with the uproar in her community when her people start to protest the development of a golf course over a Native burial ground. Oh, and her family calls her Beans. As the Europeans in the neighborhood start throwing rocks and otherwise threatening her family, she befriends April(Paulina Alexis), an older girl who introduces her to the art of fighting, partying and drinking, and as Beans‘ behavior spins out of control, her mother Lily (Rainbow Dickerson) tries to moderate her behavior. Joel Montgrand, Paulina Alexis, Violah Beauvais, D’Pharaoh Woon-a-Tai and Jay Cardinal Villeneuve also star, and documentarian Tracey Deer directs her first dramatic feature here. This film won a slew of awards in 2021, including the Crystal Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival, Best First Feature Film for Deer at the Canadian Screen Awards and DGC Discovery Award for Deer at the 2020 Directors Guild of Canada. And it gets a 90% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Guy Lodge of Variety calling it “a thoughtful, stirring reflection by someone who survived it all, quietly demanding acknowledgement not just of her land, but of her life.” I’m definitely tuning in.
Netflix has a few good adds this week, like Murderville, the 2022 comedy series from Will Arnett. Based on the BBC3 series Murder in Successville, each week, a different celeb guests like Conan O’Brien or Kumail Nanjiani is invited to intern with detective Terry Seattle, played, of course, by Arnett. Every week, there is a new murder, like week 1‘s magician’s assistant being sawed in half, and every week, the guest star is expected to solve the murder. There’s a lot of ad-libbing, a lot of gaffs, and a lot of funny material here, with guests like Sharon Stone, Annie Murphy, Ken Jeong and former NFL star Marshawn Lynch. Regulars include Haneefah Wood, who plays Arnett’s boss and ex, Chief Rhonda Jenkins-Seattle, Lilan Bowden, Phillip Smithey and Owen Burke, and Steven Zirnkilton serves as the narrator. There are 6 episodes now available for streaming and this series gets an 88% on Rotten Tomatoes. Lorraine Ali of Los Angeles Times writes it “isn’t afraid to be an imperfect, silly mess, which is why it’s the perfect escape for messy times.” I agree, I’m watching. Netflix has also added My Best Friend Anne Frank, a 2021 Dutch drama. This focuses on the friendship between Anne Frank, played by Aiko Beemsterboer, and her best friend, oft mentioned in her diary, Hannah (Josephine Arendsen), shifting between their naïve and fast friendship in pre-Nazi Amsterdam, to the persecution of Jews there, and finally, to Hannah‘s internment in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, not knowing where her friend was. Roeland Fernhout, Lottie Hellingman, Björn Freiberg, Stefan de Walle and Tünde Szalontay also star, while Ben Sombogaart directs. But this film is only mediocre, and seems slightly exploitational of Frank’s name, with Nazi violence toned back, and the character of Hannah inadequately drawn. But it gets a 6.3/10 on IMDb. Nicolas Rapold of the New York Times says “the credits underline the tin ear of the whole endeavor by declaring that Anne “became what she wanted: world-famous.” Yeah, I’m not watching. But Netflix also offers Looop Lapeta, a 2021 Hindi retelling of the classic Run, Lola, Run. Bollywood star Taapsee Pannu stars, here, as Savi, a runner whose career was ruined by injury, and is now doing drugs and hanging out with her boyfriend Satya (Tahir Raj Bhasin). But when Satya is given the assignment of picking up his mobster boss’ bag of money, and loses up, he desperately calls Savi for help. And so Savi runs through Goa, tape holding her knee together, searching for help, in different time loops, going from her father with no luck, and chased by a cop, while Satya tries robbing a jewelry store. Dibyendu Bhattacharya, Rajendra Chawla, Shreya Dhanwanthary, Varun Pande and Manik Papneja also star, while Aakash Bhatia directs. Somehow, it gets only a 5.1/10 on IMDb, but the pickings are slim on Netflix this week, and I love the performances, and the humor here. And John Serba of The Decider says to stream it, adding its a “rare remake of an old(ish) favorite that’s worth a look…..[and] I loved Pannu in this – she gives Savi the perfect balance of competence, despair, exasperation and WGAF without sacrificing any of the comedy or pathos of the character.” I’m tuning in. Also new on Netflix is The Tinder Swindler, a 2022 true crime movie. This tells the tale of a conman who went by the name of Simon Leviev, who tempted women on the dating app with tales of being a billionaire diamond dealer’s son, swimming in wealth. Two women primarily tell their stories here, Cecilie Fjellhøy of Norway and Swedish Pernilla Sjøholm, who were, simultaneously, wined and dined in sumptuous restaurants, whisked about Europe in a private jet, and even treated to an appearance by Leviev‘s “daughter.” So when he suddenly was endangered by his father’s “dangerous” diamond business, and needed money desperately to escape, they supplied it, with one even giving $100,000, by taking out a loan. After Cecillie finally suffered a nervous breakdown over her financial problems, she investigated, and found he was a legendary Israeli con artist named Shimon Hayut, she went to the Norwegian VG newspaper, who then found Pernilla. And a current girlfriend, who led them to Shimon. Felicity Morris(producer of Don’t F**k with Cats: Hunting an Internet Killer) masterfully tells this convoluted story, with great attention to the dangers of the internet, with virtual reality allowing a dangerous fiction to be told, and used to manipulate people. And it gets a notable 93% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Nick Schager of the Daily Beast writing “director Morris’ aesthetic approach illustrates the way in which real and virtual realities can be exploited for deceptive ends, which helps transform the film into a cautionary tale.” It’s on my list. And, finally, Netflix has Finding Ola, a 2022 Egyptian drama series. Hend Sabry stars as Ola Abdel-Sabour, a woman whose life changes dramatically when her husband HIsham(Hany Adel) announces he wants a divorce. Which might not be more acceptable in the U.S, than in Cairo, Ola is on the receiving end of a lot of flak, from her mother Soheir (Sawsan Badr) who says Ola wasn’t a good enough wife, to the other mothers at her children’s school, to her mother-in-law, who blocks her number. But finally, Ola contacts her old friend Nesrine (Nada Moussa), who gives the support she needs, and even introduces her to another divorcee she knows. Yasmina El-Abd, Mahmoud El-Leithy, Aisel Ramzy and Latifa Fahmy also star, and there are 6 episodes now available to devour. This is an wonderfully satirical show, with Ola often breaking the 4th wall for narration and commentary, and it’s lovely to see an Arabic woman finally getting her story told on television, and divorced, no less. So I’m happy to say it gets an amazing 7.7/10 on IMDb, with Aalaya Sonti of Moviesr.net calling it “a total binge-watcher that will keep you up all night and bring you joy.” I’m definitely tuning in.
Unfortunately I have to admit that Amazon’s most ballyhooed add this week is Reacher, yet another iteration of Lee Child’s retired MP turned investigator. Here, Alan Ritchson(Titans) plays Jack Reacher, who is accused of murder while visiting Margrave, Georgia, and sets out to find the real murderer, as the bodies pile up. Malcolm Goodwin, Willa Fitzgerald, Harvey Guillén, Marc Bendavid and Currie Graham also star, and there are 8 episodes available to view now. But this is super-vapid material, punched up only by the hyped-up violence. Which is why I was aghast to find it got an 85% on Rotten Tomatoes. But I agree with Johsua Alston of Variety who writes its a “brutal thriller with a void at its center.” I’d rather watch Phat Tuesdays: The Era Hip Hop Comedy, a 2022 docuseries about the rise of black comedy in 90’s L.A.. This tells of how comedian Guy Torry started all-Black comedy night at The Comedy Store in the wake of the 1992 riots, in an effort to reduce tension, and allow people a voice during that traumatic time. Which he did, but he also found a jumping off point for stars like Anthony Anderson, Tiffany Haddish(!), Jay Pharoah, Chris Tucker, Kym Whitley and many more. Not to mention performances by established stars like Kevin Hart, Chris Rock(!), Steve Harvey and Cedric the Entertainer. And all of this is omitted from Showtime’s The Comedy Store series. So Phat Tuesdays director Reginald Hudlin rectifies that situation with 3 one hour episodes here, with lots of contemporaneous comedy material and all-star interviews, too. There are even interviews with hostesses and security workers at the club. And, though it’s too new to have any rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but Ready Steady Cut says its “a heart-warming celebration of black comedy,” and Marika Daniel of Spectacular Magazine calls it “must-see docuseries,[with] a must-listen to soundtrack.” I’m watching in. And, finally, Amazon has Season 1 of The Sandhamn Murders, a 2010 Swedish mystery series. Based on a mystery series from novelist Viveca Sten, this features the investigations of Nora Linde (Alexandra Rapaport), a lawyer who summers on the island of Sandhamn and who helps out when she (literally) runs into a corpse while swimming at the beach. Thomas Andreasson (Jakob Cedergren) plays the insomniac cop with the Nacka Police who investigates, and Carina Persson (Sofia Pekkari, Wallander) is his colleague, who find help in Nora, who went to school with Thomas. Siblings Lion Monn and Ping Monn play Nora‘s children, Simon and Anna, respectively, and Jonas Malmsjö, Anki Lidén, Lotta Tejle, Lars Amble and Louise Edlind Friberg also star, and there are 3 episodes, each featuring a different mystery to enjoy now. And this show was nominated for Best Television Drama at the 2014 Kristallen Awards, and gets a 6.9/10 on IMDb. And Europlacetv says, “its a breath of fresh air from the doom and gloom of many Nordic noir crime dramas. Summertime at the archipelago is shown in full view from shots that display its glistening waters, spectacular sunsets, and colorful rooftops….less emotionally taxing..but just as engrossing.” But remember it returns to the premium channel ether of MHZ March 1, so finish before then. I’m definitely tuning in.
So sit back and binge this weekend, on classics, old and new, on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Enjoy