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 interesting, though less renowned adds this week, like India Sweets and Spices, a 2021 comedy/drama. Sophia Ali plays Alia, here, a college freshman coming home to the (rich) suburban New Jersey home of her parents for the summer, ready for confrontation with her conservative, elitist mother Sheila (Manisha Koirala), who has big (marital) plans for her daughter. So when Alia meets Varun (Rish Shah), working as a clerk in a convenience store, she is taken, but her mom is appalled. But when Alia finds out about her mom’s own liberal past in college, it’s her turn to be surprised. Adil Hussain, Ved Sapru, Raj Kala, Deepti Gupta, Anita Kalathara and Ashritha Kancharla also star, while Geeta Malik(Troublemaker) directs. This film won the Breakout Indie at the Gold List Awards, and gets an 81% on Rotten Tomatoes. Radhika Menon of Salon.com wrote it “gives us a different aspect of the diaspora experience by trying to understand Sheila‘s generation and the things they gave up in order to give their children the life they have,” and I couldn’t agree more. I’m watching. Hulu has also added Insanity, a 2022 Brazilian psychological thriller series. This has forensic investigator Paula Costa(Carol Castro)(wrongfully) hospitalized in mysterious psychiatric clinic after witnessing the death of a loved one, under the care of Dr. César Schultz(Eucir de Souza) questions her about her dreams. But when she hears worrisome things about the doctor from other patients, she begins to investigate the hospital and her jailer. And her team tries to get her out. Ravel Cabral, Rafael Losso, Rafaela Mandelli, Samuel de Assis and Bella Camero also star, and there are 8 episodes available to enjoy now. This series was released by Disney+ in Brazil and the U.K., and though it gets a mere 4.6/10 on IMDb, I love the female forward story, and , of course, the mystery. I’m tuning in. Hulu has also added Oscar Peterson: Black + White, a 2020 documentary. This tells the story of Canadian jazz pianist, Oscar Peterson, a phenom on the piano from Montreal, who hit the American stage in the 50’s and stunned his audiences. Famous musicians like Billy Joel, Herbie Hancock, Jon Baptiste and Quincy Jones all attest to his greatness and his alacrity on the keyboard, along with non-musicians like producer Randy Lennox, strangely included. And there’s tons of Peterson‘s own music, with archival concert recordings included. It’s all directed by Barry Avrich, but it gets only a 63% on Rotten Tomatoes, perhaps because of the overdose of interviews, at times, interrupting Peterson’s great playing. As Calum Marsh of the New York Times said “at almost every opportunity, Avrich undermines these numbers by cutting to one of an endless lineup of talking heads, usually to repeat predictable platitudes about Peterson’s brilliance.” Still, if you love jazz, you may want to check it out. And, finally, Hulu has added Small Engine Repair, a 2021 black comedy/drama. Based on award-winning play by John Pollono, this has three old friends Frankie (John Pollono), Swaino (Jon Bernthal) and Packie (Shea Wigham) from Manchester, New Hampshire, meeting up at Frankie’s Small Engine Repair shop for what seems to be an innocent reunion after a fight. But when another visitor shows up, a frat boy named Chad (Spencer House), it becomes clear there were darker intentions to the evening all along. Ciara Bravo plays Frankie‘s college-bound daughter, Crystal, and Jordana Spiro, Josh Helman, Jenna Lamia and Ashlie Atkinson also star, and Pollono directed here, along with writing the script. Beware though, there is a lot of toxic masculinity on display here, with racist remarks, sexism and violence that may offend many. And Maya Phillips of the New York Times wrote “ultimately, the story still feels unfinished, and Pollono’s direction falters in the film’s big twist, when it tries to balance horror and humor before its tidy resolution.” You decide.
The biggest title added on Netflix this week has to be The Adam Project, a 2022 sci-fi comedy. Reynolds star as Adam Reed, who mysteriously time-jumping from his plane in 2050, into the woods near his childhood home in 2022. There, he finds his 12 year-old self, played by Walker Scobell, a scrawny, picked-on nerd, living with his widowed mother, played by Jennifer Garner. Then he goes to find his late father(!)Louis (Mark Ruffalo!), who had developed the time travel phenomenon along with his partner Maya Sorian(Catherine Keener), who had commercialized it, making Earth a living Hell. So can they get Louis to uninvent it? Zoe Saldaña plays Laura, Adam‘s wife and fellow pilot, and Alex Mallari Jr., Lucie Guest, Mellanie Hubert and Kasra Wong also star, while Shawn Levy(Free Guy) directs. But this is a mishmash of various different sci-fi ideas, all battling each other for time. And The Adam Project gets a 70% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Stephanie Zacharek of Time magazine calling it “a movie with so many octopus ambitions is unlikely to pull off any of them, and that’s the bind The Adam Project finds itself in.” I’d rather watch The Bombardment, a 2021 Danish historical drama. This takes place during the closing year of WWII, 1945, with occupation by the Nazis ending in many countries in Europe, but not Denmark, where they still hunt for members of the resistance, Because of the Nazi occupation, Denmark was the target for Allied bombers, and many children are scarred by the experience, with some of them sent to the Jeanne d’Arc School, run by nuns. But when a British plane goes tragically off course, it hits the school, and that leads to confusion, causing the other bombers to mistakenly bomb that very school, with tragic consequences. Bertram Bisgaard Enevoldsen, Fanny Bornedal, Ella Josephine Lund Nilsson, Ester Birch, Alex Hogh Anderson, Danica Curcic and Susse Wold also star, with award-winning Ole Bornedal directs. This movie was nominated for many major awards at the Bodil and Danish Film Awards, and went on to win 2. And it gets a stunning 7.4/10 on IMDb. M.N. Miller of Ready Steady Cut says.. “haunting and visceral, Ole Bornedal’s beautifully shot film stays in your mind well after it’s over.” It’s on my list. But if you want something lighter, Netflix has also added Autumn Girl, a 2021 Polish historical drama. This tells the true story of 60’s performer Kalina Jędrusik, wonderfully played by Maria Dębska, a Polish sex symbol to rival Marilyn Monroe, who is an unbridled success, until she has to deal with a lascivious tv director Ryszard Molski (Bartlomiej Kotschedoff). When Molski propositions Kalina repeatedly, and she rejects him, he fires her from his station, cancels her shows, and has her blackballed. But she fights back. Leszek Lichota, Krysztof Zalewski, Katarzyna Obidzinska, Katia Paliwoda and Rafal Rutkowski also star, and Katarzyna Klimkiewicz(La Isla) directs. This film was nominated for several awards at the 2021 Camerimage awards, and the 2021 Polish Film Festival, where Maria Debska won the Best Actress Award. So, though it gets a deceptively low 5.6/10 on IMDb, I’m definitely watching. High on Films says its “reminiscent of the 1961 Godard film A Woman Is a Woman….[and it] becomes not just entertaining but highly evocative due to the amount of talent and creativity it nurtures.” I’m in. Also new on Netflix is The Andy Warhol Diaries, a 2022 docuseries. This six parter is based on pop artist Warhol‘s own journal, dictated daily to his friend Pat Hackett, from 1976 to 1987, ending only with Warhol‘s death. And so we learn of how Warhol’s start as the son of poor immigrants in Pittsburgh, suddenly reappearing in New York City, inventing the Factory, an art studio for the Avant Garde and outlandish, commercialism, and wild parties, too. The series deals with Warhol’s insecurity and self-loathing, and being a gay catholic, especially during the AIDS crisis. We also get an episode dedicated to each of his lovers Jed Johnson and Jon Gould, and one devoted to his friend and collaborator, Jean-Michel Basquiat. But, beware, in the first episode, we are told not to trust Warhol‘s version of the past. And this series is directed by Andrew Rossi, and produced by Ryan Murphy, with an unfortunate(at times) AI Andy Warhol voice, reading his passages. And this series gets an incredible 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, and a 7.4/10 on IMDb. And Brian Lowry of CNN.com writes “for all that the series meticulously reveals, it only goes so far in penetrating Warhol’s protective shell, and like its subject, alternates between being fascinating and frustrating.” It’s on my list. And, finally, Netflix has Badhaai Do, a 2022 Hindi comedy. Here, we meet Shardul, played by Rajkummar Rao, a handsome cop in the small town of Haldwani, determined to only marry Suman Singh, played by Bhumi Pednekar. Why? Because she too is gay, not interested in a stereotypical marriage, and so the pair can both appease their families, pressuring them to marry. But the pressure doesn’t end with the marriage, as the two are now expected to produce children(!). Seema Bhargava, Sheeba Chaddha, Gulshan Devaiah and Loveleen Mishra also star, and Harshavardhan Kulkarni directs. And this movie gets an impressive 92% on Rotten Tomatoes, and a 7.8/10 on IMDb. Saibal Chatterjee of NDTV says it “unequivocally champions the cause of individuality and inclusivity while delivering an engaging story that is funny, thought-provoking and intriguingly angular in one fell swoop.” I’m tuning in.
Okay, so Amazon has no big new adds this week, it doesn’t mean you can’t find good new titles, like Only the Animals, a 2019 French thriller/mystery. This begins with the disappearance of Parisienne Evelyne Ducat (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi), in the highlands of Southern France, where her frozen-over SUV is found abandoned on the side of the road. But when local cop Cedric (Bastien Bouillion) investigates the seemingly mundane farming people of the area, he finds intrigue and misdirection everywhere he looks, and the innocent locals, anything but. There’s insurance agent Alice (Laure Calamy), having an affair with one of her clients, Joseph(Damien Bonnard), and there’s her husband Michel (Denis Menochet), who knows of her affair, and seems to be up to something. And that’s just the beginning. Guy Roger “Bibisse” N’Drin, Marie Victoire Amie, Nadia Tereszkiewicz, Perline Eyombwan and Juliet Doucet also star, and Dominik Moll directed. This film was nominated for numerous awards in 2019, including at the César Awards, and the Venice Film Festival, and went on to win for Best Actress for Nadia Tereszkiewicz and Best Film at the Tokyo International Film Festival, and Best International Film at the Munich Film Festival. And it gets a 75% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Ed Potton of the Times(UK) writing “seventy years after Kurosawa did it in Rashomon, this terrific French thriller proves there’s plenty of juice left in the idea of revisiting the same events through the eyes of different characters.” I’m definitely watching. Amazon also has Season 1 of Before We Die, a 2017 Swedish mystery series. Marie Richardson stars, here, as police detective Hanna, who, when her (married) boyfriend Sven (Johan Hedenberg) disappears, mid phone call, starts an investigation of her own. But she finds more trouble than she bargains for, because her son Christian(Adam Pålsson), formerly jailed by Hanna for drug dealing, seems to know more than he’s telling about the disappearance. Malgorzata Pieczynska, Sandra Redlaff, Kaled Mustonen, Richard Forsgren and Sofia Ledarp also star, and there are 10 episodes available to enjoy now. This series was nominated for 2 Kristallen in 2017, with the Best Actor Award going to Adam Pålsson that year. And it gets an amazing 7.7/10 on IMDb, and Sam Wollaston of the Guardian saying “beyond the cliches, Marie Richardson’s seductive character hooks us in.” It’s on my list. But remember to catch it before it disappears back to PBS Masterpiece, April 1. And, finally, Amazon has added access to American Masters: Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise, a 2017 production. This tells the story of the legendary poet’s life, with her difficulties, adventures, and many successes featured with fascinating detail, with much of the story coming from Angelou herself. It tells of her difficult childhood in St. Louis, with poverty looing and abuse, as well, but also her glamorous career as a singer and dancer, often in San Francisco, her devotion to the Civil Rights Movement of the 60′s, and then, finally, her fame as one of the foremost poets of the country and the world, reciting her poetry at at Bill Clinton’s presidential Inauguration. Many celebrities attest to Angelou‘s greatness, like the Clintons, Alfre Woodard, and even Angelou‘s son Guy Johnson holds forth, but the most mesmerizing parts, of course, are when Angelou tells her own story, with poetry in her every word. And this series, directed by Bob Hercules and Rita Coburn Whack, gets an astounding 96% on Rotten Tomatoes. Soraya Nadia McDonald of Andscape wrote “it’s easy to fall into thinking of the late Maya Angelou as something of a national grandmother when she was so much more than that. Thankfully, Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise, is here to correct that misconception.” I agree. I’m watching again.
So sit back and binge this weekend, on classics, old and new, on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Enjoy!