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 few notable adds this week, but a good one coming Tuesday, with How It Ends, the 2021 apocalyptic comedy. This takes place on the last day of the world, as the earth is due to be hit by an asteroid, and Liza, played by Zoe Lister-Jones, is determined to right the wrongs in her life, all the while accompanied by her younger self, played by Cailee Spaeny. Oh, and they have to make it to a big End of the World party. So she meets up with her father(Bradley Whitford!), her ex(Logan Marshall-Green),, and her ex-best friend Ala(Olivia Wilde). All along the journey she’s accompanied by her younger self, played by Cailee Spaeny. Helen Hunt(!) plays Liza‘s mom, and Fred Armisen(!), Lamorne Morris, Nick Kroll and Finn Wolfhard(Stranger Things!) also star, and Zoe Lister Jones, and Daryl Wein co-wrote and directed this piece. And it gets only a 67% on Rotten Tomatoes, I’m afraid because of it’s sensitive subject matter during Covid. But don’t worry, this is lighter, metaphysical fare, with no horror or morose subject matter. Indeed, Teo Bugbee of the New York Times said it “plays as a series of perfectly enjoyable sketches strung together, an excuse for veteran actors to chew on playful dialogue.” And with such a deep cast, it’s a joy to watch. I’m tuning in. Hulu‘s spare offerings this week include a pair of sinister new horror films, the first being The Feast, a 2021 Welsh movIe. Annes Elwy stars here, as Cadi, a mysteriously quiet girl, hired by an affluent family to serve at their sumptuous and important dinner. As Glenda (Nia Roberts), mother, tries to prepare for the dinner, one of her sons, Guto (Steffan Cennydd), tells Cadi of how his parents love violence, especially the killing of animals, like the rabbits hunted by father Gwyn (Julian Lewis Jones) for dinner. And this truly creepy, unhappy family is, as the evening wears on, increasingly discomfited by Cadi‘s silent, foreboding presence. Sion Alun Davies, Lisa Palfrey, Caroline Berry, Rhodri Meilir and Sion Davies also star, while Lee Haven Jones directs. And, yes, all the dialogue here is in Welsh, which only adds to the otherworldliness of the film. And it gets an 82% on Rotten tomatoes, with Nick Allen of RogerEbert.com writing that it “turns out that the disorienting filmmaking has more to say than the story, but at least we can thank this film’s wacky explosion of an ending for its earlier slow burn.” So you know, it’s way too scary for me. As is Hulu‘s second horror add, A House on the Bayou, a 2021 flick. This follows the Chambers family as they head to a huge bayou estate(where do they get the money?), where parents Jessica (Angela Sarafyan) and John (Paul Schneider), hope to reclaim their marriage after John’s infidelity. Their daughter Anna (Lia McHugh) accompanies them on what seems to be an adventure, but quickly sours after meeting their strange and too friendly neighbors, Isaac (Jacob Lofland) and his grandfather (Doug Van Liew). The pair warn that the devil is all around them, and in their house, especially. Rhonda Johnson Dents and Lauren Richards round out the small cast, and Alex McAulay directed. But this is a very familiar, shopworn Southern horror story, with Isaac and his grandpa truly hackneyed backwoodsmen copied from Deliverance, but portrayed with much less art. And it gets only a 5.4/10 on IMDb. Meagan Navarro of Bloody Disgusting called it “more focused on its twists than its characters, making it a dull nightmare for viewer.” Don’t bother. And, finally, Hulu has added One Mississippi, the 2014 comedy series starring Tig Notaro. Loosely based on Notaro’s life, this has Tig(Notaro) returning to her hometown in Mississippi after the death of her mother Caroline (Rya Kihlstedt), to deal with her estate, and set up house with her brother, Remy (Noah Harpster), and her stepfather, Bill (John Rothman). But she also has to deal with a double mastectomy and another serious digestive diagnosis on top of that, as well as buried issues from her traumatic childhood. Casey Wilson plays Tig’s girlfriend Brooke, and Stephanie Allynne, Carly Jibson, Beth Grant, Sheryl Lee Ralph and Carol Mansell also star, and Diablo Cody was a creator of this series, along with Notaro. There are 2 seasons available now with 6 episodes in each season, and this show won Most Exciting New Series at the 2016 Critics Choice Television Awards. And it gets an incredible 96% on Rotten Tomatoes, and a 7.4/10 on IMDb. James Poniewozik of the New York Times said its “a tender, occasionally funny, often moving entertainment about the grieving process.” And I somehow missed this during it’s original run, so I’m watching.
The pickings are rather slim on Netflix this week too, but there are some intriguing adds like Thirty-Nine, a 2022 South Korean drama series. This focuses on the friendship that sustains three friends, as Cha Mi-jo(Son Ye-jin) announces her sabbatical from her medical work, and reconnects with her social life, and her besties since school, Chan Young(Jeon Mi Do) and Joo Hee(Kim Ji-Hyeon). All on the cusp of 40, they avoid baby showers and weddings as inconvenient reminders, but as they engage in the trivial, some more difficult problems come to the forefront. Mal-Geum Kang, Sohee, Lee Tae-Hwan, Woo-jin Yeon and Moo-Saeng Lee also star, and there are 12 episodes available for binging now. And this series gets an amazing 7.9/10 on IMDb, with of Ready Steady Cut writing “the grounded tone, solid performances, effective humor, and often charming sense of romance all give strong first impressions.” And I love the female forward stories, with working women getting center stage. I’m tuning in. Netflix also has The Privilege, a 2022 German horror movie. Max Schimmelpfennig stars as Finn, here, a teen already scarred by the death of his sister Anna years earlier, for which he is being medicated and treated. But when he and his best friend Lena(Lea van Acken) and chum Samira(Tijan Marei) become aware of unexplained deaths at their school, they investigate. And find that his medication contains a fungus that feeds off corpses(?), and there may be a resident evil lurking in their town. Milena Tscharntke, Lise Risom Olsen, Roman Knizka, Nadeshda Brennicke and Horst Janson also star, and Felix Fuchssteiner and Katharina Schöde co-directed. And yes, it gets only a 4.6/10 on IMDb, but, like I said, pickings are slim on Netflix this week. And Jordan Russell Lyon of Ready Steady Cut writes “The Privilege will get enjoyed more if it isn’t taken seriously. It doesn’t have the strongest plot, nor the strongest set of characters. However, it is really entertaining, and that’s all we can want from a film.” And I know you need horror. Netflix also offers Love and Leashes, a 2022 S. Korean romantic comedy. This features the story of two workers at a company with awfully similar names, Ji-hoo(Lee Jun-young), an efficient and impressive worker, and Ji-woo(Seohyun), a PR team member. Because of their like names, they are always being confused for one another, even getting each other’s mail. So when Ji-woo gets a S and M spiked collar meant for Ji-hoo, she begins to wonder what he’s into. But when he asks her to be his ‘master.’ she decides to investigate his unusual practices, and decide for herself whether she wants to participate. Lee El, Seo Hyun-woo, Kim Han-na, Lee Suk-hyeong and Kim Bo-ra also star, while Park Hyun-jin directs. And this is a super-humorous(and light) take on BDSM, so if you worry about being offended or even repulsed, have no fear. Or at least watch the trailer. And it gets a 6.5/10 on IMDb. James Marsh of the South China Morning Post calls it “a relatively sweet and well-meaning workplace romance between a pair of wholesome, fresh-faced leads that delivers some chaste fuzzy feels, but does so almost in spite of its supposedly salacious subject matter.” It’s on my list. Netflix has also added the impressive 2022 documentary Downfall: The Case Against Boeing. This investigate the two horrendous crashes of Boeing planes in 2018; first Lion Air Flight 610 crashing into the Java Sea shortly after departing Jakarta, with all 189 lives lost, and 5 months later, the Ethiopian Airlines plane going down 6 minutes after takeoff, with 157 people killed. Director Rory Kennedy(Last Days in Vietnam) leads us through the story, with rigorous and in-depth reporting that leaves little doubt that Boeing opted for short-term gains over saving lives, and going to the trouble of developing a non-737 jet. There is the explicit evidence from the Black Boxes from both planes that the planes were put under repeated pressure to put the nose of the airplane down, even when traveling at high speed over the ocean. With the only (discernable) effect being an expensive PR effort from Boeing to put the blame on someone else. While they didn’t ground their planes. There are tons of fascinating experts here, with reporters, aviation experts and even Peter DeFazio Oregon rep and Chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, holding forth on this case. Kennedy does a masterful job of sewing together all the facts in this meticulously reported story, and Brian Grazer and Ron Howard served as executive producers. And this gets an 89% on Rotten Tomatoes, and a 7.4/10 on IMDb. But beware, it is disturbing material, as Ben Kenigsberg of the New York Times said its “likely to leave viewers shaken, and it is always comprehensible, even in sequences that illustrate what the pilots saw in the cockpit.” I’m definitely tuning in. And, finally, Netflix has also added Ali Wong: Don Wong, the 2022 Ali Wong comedy special. In this, Wong’s third Netflix special, she discusses the serious daily challenges of motherhood, her envy of single people, and their freedom to do as they please, and seemingly carefree lives. And with this third special, Wong seems to be maturing, coming in to her own, and speaking up for Asians and women, as well. And it gets a 6.7/10 on IMDb, with Shirley Li of The Atlantic writing “Don Wong provides her space to air her naughtiest thoughts — and to encourage more women to do the same.” I agree. More, more!
Amazon doesn’t have any big titles added this week, so now is the perfect time to mention those tv shows and movies Amazon has made available for viewing until February 28. Like The One and Only Dick Gregory, a 2021 Showtime documentary. This considers the life and career of the amazing, and lamentably less renowned, comic, auteur and activist, from his earliest endeavors in comedy, with his appearance on the Jack Parr Show, as the first black to sit down and talk with Parr, to his sketch on The Merv Griffin Show, joking about a long steering wheel, a black bus driver might use to drive “from the back of the bus.” He never backed down, never watered down his comedy, and yet, was incredibly popular with even Southern audiences. It covers his books like Nigger: An Autobiography, and other works of art. But it most impressively covers his activism that he never left behind, no matter his celebrity or success, like his run from L.A. to NYC, 2782 miles, to raise awareness and money to combat global hunger, to his fast from Thanksgiving, 1967, to New Year’s Day, 1968, in protest against the Vietnam War. And we get various eminent talking heads informing us, from Chris Rock and Kevin Hart(an executive producer here) to Wanda Sykes. And it’s directed by Andre Gaines with a masterful hand. And it gets a stunning 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Matt Zoller Seitz of RogerEbert.com calling it “a thoughtful film about a politically committed artist that doesn’t short the politics or the art, but instead examines how one fueled the other.” I’m watching, twice. Amazon also has Season 1 of The Lawyer, a 2019 Swedish crime drama series. Alexander Karim plays the idealistic, young lawyer Frank Nordling, who was badly scarred by witnessing the deaths of his parents in a car explosion years ago, along with his sister, police officer Sara Khalil (Malin Buska). So when they discover crime boss Thomas Waldman (Thomas Bo Larson) was responsible for the explosion, they decide to go after him, using all their resources and professional acumen. But what they find in unravelling the case could ruin them emotionally, as well as threaten their very being. Nicolaj Kopernikus, Sara Hjort Ditlevsen, Johannes Lassen and Liv Mjönes also star, and there are 10 episodes comprising Season 1, available to devour before February 28. And it gets an impressive 7/10 on IMDb. Alastair McKay of The London Evening Standard called it “a beautiful mess, a puzzle with moving parts, and it explodes under ice-blue sky.” I can’t wait to watch. And, finally, Amazon has added access to Ricky Powell: The Individualist, a 2020 Showtime documentary. This tells the story of famed street photographer Ricky Powell, who made a name for himself in the 80′s and 90‘s taking spontaneous pics of some of the biggest celebrities of the time, like Blondie, Run DMC and The Beastie Boys. He never trained professionally, but grew up on the streets of New York, with a mom who loved the high life and an absent father. And he taught himself the art of photography, an art that led to thousands of photographs that capture New York‘s grittiness and glamor, in a glorious black and white. And we have talking heads, like Laurence Fishburne, DJ Hurricane, Natasha Lyonne, LL Cool J, and Debi Mazar extolling Powell’s work, as well as commenting on his outlandish character. Josh Swade directs, and this doc gets an incredible 7.5/10 on IMDb. Alex Saveliev of Film Threat says it “functions as both a powerful character study and a sweet trip down nostalgia lane, a snapshot of an important moment in pop culture history.” I’m definitely tuning in. But remember, all these shows mentioned here, disappear back into the premium ether in 10 days, on March 1.
So sit back and binge this weekend, on classics, old and new, on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Enjoy!
Fishbowl Wives (Season 1)