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 a major add this week with Spencer, the Academy Award-nominated drama. This is an imaginative take on what happened the Christmas weekend in 1991, with Diana, played by Kristin Stewart, joining the Queen for the holiday celebration at Sandringham, her marriage to Charles( Jack Farthing)(Timothy Spall) disintegrating. In an old mansion, filmed to resemble the Overlook Hotel of the Shining, Diana starts to see things, including Anne Boleyn’s ghost wandering the halls. Sally Hawkins(!) stars as Maggie, Diana‘s royal dresser and friend, Stella Gonet as the Queen, and Timothy Spall, Jack Nielen, Freddy Spry, Sean Harris and Richard Sammel also star, while Pablo Larraín(Jackie) directs. And this movie has already won numerous awards this season, with Kristin Stewart winning Best Actress at the Boston Online Film Critics Association and the Chicago Film Critics Association Awards, and now Stewart is nominated for that award at the Oscars in March. And Spencer gets an 83% on Rotten Tomatoes. Jason Bailey of Crooked Marquee said “Stewart was an unlikely but, it’s now clear, ingenious choice for the role; she’s going through such a period of pronounced anguish that the wrong kind of actor would have played the whole thing as overwrought, and ruined it.” It’s not a perfect movie, but if you can’t get enough of Princess Di, give it a try. Hulu has also added Rules of the Game, a 2022 BBC limited thriller series. Maxine Peake(The Village, Shameless) stars as ruthless Sam, COO of sport company Fly Dynamic, whose world is upended when she hires Maya(Rakhee Thakrar, The Girl Before), as HR director, far too earnest to reform what turns out to be a toxic work environment. Especially for whistle blowers like Tess (Callie Cooke), whose friend and fellow troublemaker, Amy died mysteriously, years ago. So Maya, and surprisingly, Sam, join forces to find the culprit. Susan Wakoma, Dominic Vulliamy, Alison Steadman, Zoë Tapper, Katherine Pearce and Tanya Vital also star, and there are 4 episodes available to devour now. And it gets a 6/10 on IMDb, with James Walton of The Spectator saying “by exploring female complicity so intriguingly — and by wrapping the whole thing in a properly twisting thriller — this is a winningly tangled cut above television’s usual post-#MeToo fare.” I’m tuning in. Hulu also has the 2020 horror movie Kindred. Tamara Lawrance(Small Axe:Education!) stars as Charlotte, a young woman who finds herself unexpectedly pregnant, but her thrilled husband Ben(Edward Holcroft) takes her home to the dark family estate, telling his mother Margaret(Fiona Shaw!) that they’re moving to Australia, for a new stat. Margaret is livid and goes ballistic, but when Ben dies suddenly in an accident, things take a turn for the worse for Charlotte. Margaret virtually imprisons her on the estate, not allowing her to leave even for errands, and Ben’s brother Thomas(Jack Lowden) becomes her constant companion. And she begins to start seeing things, all the while being fed an almost perpetual cup of tea that seems strangely bitter. Chloe Pirrie, Anton Lesser, Natalia Kostrzewa, Kiran Sonia Sawar and Nyree Yergainharsian also star, while Joe Marcantonio directed. And it gets a 69% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Angelica Jade Bastién of New York Magazine/Vulture writing “its co-writer/director has pulled off a rare feat: He’s created a work that interrogates grief with a sociopolitical undercurrent without losing sight of the fact that this is a horror film in the first place.” I’m definitely watching. And, finally, Hulu has Flee, an 2022 Academy Award-nominated animated documentary. This tells the true story of Amin Nawabi(an alias), a now grown Afghan refugee, now an academic in Denmark, who looks back on his life, mostly through animation to protect his identity, to see how a youth spent escaping extreme violence effected him. He tells a story even his husband to be doesn’t know, of a joyful childhood in Kabul, with Daniel Karimyar voicing the youthful Amin, his innocence shattered by the arrival of the Mujahideen, with worry and peril a constant companion, until his family flees with human traffickers, and they make their way to a spare post-Soviet-era apartment in Moscow. Fardin Mijdzadeh voices the older Amin, a victim of constant fear, uncertainty and even shame at his experience. Milad Eskandari, Belal Faiz, Elaha Faiz, Sadia Faiz and Zahra Mehrwarz also star, and documentarian Jonas Poher Rasmussen directs this stunning depiction of the life of his real-life friend here. Flee has already won multiple awards this season including Best Documentary at the Atlanta Film Critics Circle, the New York Film Critics, Online, the Danish Film Awards (Robert) and the Grand Jury Prize at 2021 Sundance. And it’s nominated for 3 Academy Awards, with Best Doc, Best Animated Feature, and Best International Feature Film. And it gets an incredible 98% on Rotten Tomatoes, and Joshua Rothkopf of Empire Mag calls it “an extraordinary blend of personal reflection and inspired craft, Flee is a harrowing child’s-eye adventure that lends lyricism to the plight of migrants while showing there’s always a new way to make a documentary.” Don’t miss this one, I know I won’t
The buzziest add on Netflix this week is Investigating Anna, a 2022 drama series. Based on a true story, this tells of the story of Anna Delvey, played by Julia Garner, a young woman who conned some of the best people in New York City, by selling herself as a rich German heiress and parlaying her celebrity into gratuities like free luxury hotel rooms and even loans. Anna Clumsky plays the New York Magazine reporter, Vivian Kent(but Jessica Pressler in real life) who broke the story on Anna‘s scamming of NYC society, and shows how difficult it was to uncover the whole story, given the embarrassment of the people taken, and their reluctance to admit it. Laverne Cox(!), Katie Lowes, Alexis Floyd, Arian Moayed, Anders Holm, Anna Deveare Smith(!) and Jeff Perry(!) also star, and there are 8 episodes available to binge now. And you may want to, because this is another Netflix series brought to us by Shonda Rimes(!), with her juicy details, layered characters and flawed heroines. And this series gets a 6.5/10 on IMDb, with Jade Budowski of the Decider calling it “ridiculously watchable, aided in part by another scene-stealing performance from Julia Garner and a top-notch ensemble.” Although it’s not Rimes’ best, I’m watching. But Netflix also has Anne+: The Film, a 2021 Dutch drama. This focuses on Anne, played by Hanna van Vliet, a twenty-something living in Amsterdam, facing a lot of pressure to finish her book, when her girlfriend Sara (Jouman Fattal) moves to Montreal, with Anne promising to join her in a few months. As she begins to have doubts about the move, she meets a nonbinary drag performer named Lou (Thorn Roos de Vries), and starts to find a connection there. And her doubts surge. Jade Olieberg, Eline van Gils, Jesse Mensah, Huib Cluistra, Ayla Satijn and Amy van der Weerden also star, while Valerie Bisscheroux directs. And this film is a follow-up to the Anne Plus 2019 series, but works fine as a standalone, if you haven’t seen the first, like me. And it gets a 6.4/10 on IMDb, with Jade Bukowski saying to stream it, adding “thanks to some wonderful performances from its young leads, Anne+: The Film delivers a memorable coming of age tale of sorts, presenting a world that feels real and grounded.” It’s on my list. But Netflix also offers Until Life Do Us Part, a 2022 Portuguese comedy/drama. This tells the story of three generations of the Paixão family trying to run their wedding planner business, Days of Passion, with the managing couples’ own marriage of Vanessa(Rita Loureiro) and her long time husband Daniel (Dinarte Branco) on the rocks. Vanessa is hitting menopause, with lots of unhappy results, and Daniel is in a midlife crisis of his own. And Vasco (Albano Jerónimo), Vanessa’s old paramour, shows up with unseemly interest, as well. And the business is hitting the skids, with many weddings going off the rails, and many people calling thinking Days of Passion is an escort service. Madalena Almeida, Henriqueta Maya, Jose Peixoto, Teresa Tavares, Rita Pocus, Luis Lobao, Jose Mata and Albano Jeronimo also star, and there are 8 delightful episodes available to steam now, all directed by Manuel Pureza. And this series gets an amazing 7.8/10 on IMDb. Akhila Suresh of Meaww calls it a “brilliantly curated emotional rollercoaster.” With a great cast, I might add. I’m definitely watching. Netflix also offers Child of Kamiari Month, a 2021 anime drama. This tells the story of Kanna Hayama (Mia Sinclair Jenness), a girl who was a dedicated runner, and always happy before the death of her mother, Yayoi(Morgan Lauré). But afterward she descends into despair, disrupted only when she finds her mother Yayoi was actually a goddess of the footrace, and she learns as her descendant, she has responsibilities, like attending kamiari month, or a special summit of the gods in the land of Izumo. Luci Christian plays the magical rabbit Shiro, and Chafurin, Wataru Takagi, and Mark Allen Jr. also star, and Takana Shirai directs. And this was nominated for 5 awards at the 2021 Montreal International Wreath Awards Film Festival, including Best Actress and Best Director. So it’s 6/10 on IMDb is deceptively low. Brittany Vincent of The Decider calls it “beautifully drawn and animated with a great English voice cast, and plenty of reasons for viewers young and old to gravitate toward it.” I’m watching. And, finally, Netflix has added Big Bug, a 2021 French futuristic comedy. This takes place in 2045, where humans are increasingly dependent on robots called Yurix, flying and efficient androids that take care of most human care, including security. So when some of the robots decide to revolt, they lock their owners into one home, including Alice Barelli (Elsa Zylberstein) and her daughter, Nina (Marysole Fertard)and her boyfriend, (Stéphane De Groot) and his son Léo(Helie Thonnat). Oh, and her ex husband, Victor(Youssef Hajdi), and his secretary/lover Jennifer(Claire Chust), which makes for a very uncomfortable situation. François Levantal, Alban Lenoir, Isabelle Nanty, André Dussollier and Benoît Allemane also star, and the great Jean-Pierre Jeunet(Amélie!) directs. And Jeunet offers another sumptuously colored, comical world here that makes viewing a must. So I’m surprised that it gets only a 45% on Rotten Tomatoes, but maybe it’s because, like Matt Zoller Seitz of RogerEbert.com wrote “it’s still a tougher, smarter film than American sci-fi cinema buffs are used to seeing. Its tone is tricky, and easy to misread.” I agree with of Alci Rengifo of EW who said it “has colors that pop and a cast that knows how to milk the humor with some energetic performances.” And it has a satirical edge that we too rarely see. I’m watching twice.
Amazon has one big add this week with I Want You Back, a 2022 romcom. Jenny Slate and Charlie Day star as two thirty somethings, Emma and Peter, respectively who both are dumped on the verge of marriage, and commiserate upon meeting, and then become friends. And when their significant others both hook up with someone else, the two panic, and hatch a scheme to get them back. Gina Rodriguez plays Anne, Peter‘s love, and Scott Eastwood plays Noah, Emma‘s ex, and Clark Backo, Manny Jacinto, Luke David Blumm, Giselle Torres and Isabel May also star, while Jason Orley directed. And this light fare gets an 89% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Gary M. Kramer of Salon.com says it “coasts on the charms of it leads, and offers smiles instead of laughs, comfort instead of romance.” Amazon has also added Homestay, a 2022 Japanese fantasy. Based on Eto Mori’s book Colorful, this tells the tale of Shiro or Blank(Kento Nagao) a teen who dies unexpectedly and finds himself in the morgue, where a guardian angel tells him he can have a homestay, or second chance, by taking over the body of another teen, Makoto, and if he can figure out who killed him in 100 days, and in3 guesses, he can keep the suit(body). And so he goes home and meets the boy’s family, whose mother(Hikari Ishida) said he had pneumonia, and whose brother and father act oddly. But when he befriends a girl at school, Takasaka Mitsuki(Yagi Rikako) and falls under her spell, the stakes for his solving the case skyrocket. Yamada Anna, Sasaki Kuranos, Ishida Hikar and Mochizuki Ayumu also star, and Seta Natsuki directs. and this movie gets a 6.2/10 on IMDb. And, finally, Amazon has Attica, the 2021 award winning documentary. This delves in into 1971 uprising at the infamous New York Attica Correctional Facility, after months of complaints about living conditions and requests for improvements denied. On September 9th, the prisoners broke out of their cells, gathered in a courtyard, demanding improvements, and inviting reporters to their meetings. But when they took 16 police guards hostage, for leverage, they incurred the prison’s wrath, and in a ruthless siege to retake the prison, 36 people were killed, inmates and guards, both. It was the deadliest prison rebellion in U.S. history. Director Stanley Nelson and co-director Traci Curry gives us plenty of first hand accounts from prisoners that have survived, as well as surviving family members of deceased inmates, along with fascinating never before seen archival footage. There are also devastating reports of abuse of mostly black inmates, and video of one prison guard yelling “white power” during the retaking of the prison. But Nelson and Curry show compassion both for the guards, and nearly dozen of the prisoners mowed down by officials when they retook the prison. But the horror of the racism involved in a state prison 50 years ago is the most stunning result of this movie, and how, had the state been willing to meet any of the prisoners demands, all this tumult and loss of life could have been avoided. And this movie from Showtime was named one of the Top Five Documentaries by the National Board of Review in 2021, and has been nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the upcoming Academy Awards. And it gets an astounding 98% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Dmitry Samarov of the Chicago Reader writing it “utterly devastated me.” So be prepared. But do watch before the Academy Awards. I know I will.
So sit back and binge this weekend, on classics, old and new, on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Enjoy!