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 adds this week, good or otherwise, but they do have one big one with The Hating Game, the 2021 romcom. Based on the 2016 novel by author Sally Thorne, this has two assistants at a New York City publishing house Lucy (Lucy Hale) and Josh(Austin Stowell), competing for a job, all the while loathing each other, and so promising that once one gets the job, the other will quit. But as they profess their hatred for each other, they, of course, go to great lengths to entice the other. Lucy even goes so far as to feign feelings for Danny (Damon Duanno). But the pair’s paths cross too many times, in too many predictable ways, for anything but the obvious to happen. Corbin Bernsen, Brock Yurich, Yasha Jackson, Sakina Jaffrey and Nicholas Baroudi also star, while Peter Hutchings directed. But while it’s fluffy and familiar, this movie also gets a surprising 73% on Rotten Tomatoes. Randy Myers of the San Jose Mercury News wrote “while it’s predictable, this peppy works as a rom-com thanks to the sparks that fly between the two leads, played with coy sexiness by Lucy Hale and Austin Stowell.” So you decide. I’d rather watch The Family Law, a 2018 Australian comedy series. This gives us an intimate look at the Law family of Queensland, which endured an especially trying hot summer, all seen from the point of view of Benjamin Law, a 14 year-old played by Trystan Go. Benjamin‘s parents Jenny(Fiona Choi) and Danny(Anthony Brandon Wong) own a Chinese restaurant in town, but their constant work and struggle takes it toll, until one warm night, their fight ends in estrangement, and the upheaval is immense. So ben, earnest seeking a career on the stage, persuades his parents to go to family counseling , with hilarious results. Vivian Wei, Shuang Hu, George Zhao, Karina Lee, Bethany Whitmore and Sam Cotton also star, and there are 6 episodes available to enjoy now, with another season to come. And this is loosely based on the life of the show’s creator, Benjamin Law. And it’s been nominated to numerous awards inn Australia, and went on to win Best Comedy Series at the 2018 Screen Producers Australia Awards, and Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy at the The Equity Ensemble Awards in 2017, 2018 & 2020! So it’s not too surprising it gets an impressive 7.3/10 on IMDb. And Nicole Lee of the Guardian called it ‘a loving and gently funny Australian family drama.” I’m tuning in. Hulu has also added Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon, the 2015 doc. Here, director Douglas Tirola informs us of the history of the iconoclastic National Lampoon magazine, with it’s beginning in 1970 as an offshoot of the famous Harvard Lampoon. And Tirola has many talking heads, famous and not-so-famous, talking of the incredible success and bad taste of the mag, from Chevy Chase and Bill Murray to Kevin Bacon and Judd Apatow. We also get a glimpse into the formation of the movie productions we now so readily associate with National Lampoon. The featured stars here are almost all male and white, which makes the movie a bit off-putting and awkward. And yet, it gets an impressive 88% on Rotten Tomatoes. But beware, this is a celebration, with no investigation or critique. J. R. Jones of the Chicago Reader said its “an orgy of boomer self-congratulation — yet it lacks even that movie’s ironic notation of how a bastion of white-male privilege managed to pass itself off as radical.” Maybe not for me. And finally, Hulu has added Being Erica, a 2009 Canadian comedy series. Erin Karpluk stars as Erica, a woman whose life hasn’t gone as planned, with many regrets, and so she starts to see a therapist, Dr Tom((Michael Riley). But when Dr. Tom claims he can fix Erica‘s life, she has no idea he’s talking about time travel, or his ability to send her back in time to repair her life. Reagan Pasternak, Tyron Leitso, Vinessa Antoine, Paula Brancati, Kathleen Laskey and John Boylan also star, and there are 4 seasons available to indulge in now. And this series, too, has won multiple awards, including Best Performance by an Actress for Karpluk at the 2009 Gemini Awards, and Outstanding Team Achievement in a Television Series at the 2010 Directors Guild of Canada Awards. And it gets an amazing 7.7/10 on IMDb. Jennifer Vineyard of the New York Times said “it’s a genuinely moving show full of subtle life lessons.” I’m watching.
Netflix‘ biggest title added this week is probably Anatomy of a Scandal, a limited mystery thriller series starring Sienna Miller. Adapted from Sarah Vaughan’s 2018 bestselling novel, Miller plays Sophie Whitehouse, married to James Whitehouse(Rupert Friend), a junior minister of the British Parliament, seemingly happily married with two children. So when James informs his wife that news of an affair he had is about to break in the news, she is thrown for a loop. But when his associate Olivia Lytton (Naomi Scott), his mistress, claims James raped her in an elevator, Sophie is confronted with reevaluating her marriage and her husband, and whether he was a just philanderer or a sexual predator. Michelle Dockery, Josette Simon, Geoffrey Streatfield, Joshua McGuire and Ben Radcliffe also star, and there are 6 episodes available for viewing now. And this whole show is brought to us by the venerable David E. Kelley(Big Little Lies). But this is a melodramatic potboiler, that gets only 61% on Rotten Tomatoes. Still, Peter Travers of ABC News writes “despite risible dialogue and a disturbing swing toward cheap theatrics, this weak but watchable legal thriller still puts a human face on the MeToo movement thanks to committed, compelling performances from Sienna Miller and Michelle Dockery.” You decide. I’d rather watch Heirs to the Land, a 2022 Spanish historical drama. Based on the novel of the same name by Ildefonso Falcones, this tells the story of Hugo Llor, played by Yon González, born a poor orphan who finds protection and support from a nobleman named Sir Arnau Estanyol(Aitor Luna) and ends up fighting the usurpers of the Spanish throne. Michelle Jenner plays Mar, David Solans plays the young Hugo and Rodolfo Sancho, Elena Rivera, Natalia Sánchez and Maria Rodríguez Soto also star, and there are 8 episodes available for bingeing now. And if some of these characters sound familiar, yes, this is an unofficial sequel to Cathedral of the Sea, a 2017 Netflix series. And, yes, this series is best appreciated after watching the prequel. And Heirs to the Sea gets a strong 7.2/10 on IMDb, with Riya Singh of the Midgard Times says “this Spanish historical drama is quite fascinating, and those who like to watch period dramas, go for it!” And I am. But Netflix also offers Hard Cell, a new British comedy series. In this mockumentary, Catherine Tate(!) stars as well meaning Laura, the warden at HMP Woldsley, a women’s prison. Laura is dead set to reform the prison and rehabilitate her inmates with love, understanding, and theater. She has them putting on West Side Story, until they realize they don’t have the talent, so they move on to something new. Cheryl Fergison, Lorna Brown, Donna Preston, Lisa Davina Phillip and Christian Brassington also star, and there are 6 episodes available to enjoy now. And, no, this hasn’t gotten good reviews(it gets a 0% on Rotten Tomatoes!). But it gets a 6.1/10 on IMDb, and I love Catherine Tate, and Eddy Jackson of A Cine TV writes “Tate devotees will most likely fall in love with this world and these characters, and here’s hoping they do.” I’m tuning in. Netflix has also added Our Great National Parks, a stunning new nature docuseries. Hosted by former president Barack Obama(!), this series gives us a tour of some of the worlds(!) greatest national parks, from Chile‘s Patagonian parks to Kenya’s Tsavo National Park, and even the Great Barrier Reef. Each of the 5 episodes deals with the beautiful environments that these national parks provide for plants, animals and the humans, while showing how these parks maintain a synergistic relationship with the environment and the humans living nearby. There are stunning views here by series cinematographer Brendan McGinty of beautiful vistas that take your breath away, but, of course, the intimate views of animals like baby orangs or the marsupial monito del monte are the best(for me). There even exquisite night time shots of Kenya’s rare black rhino. Director Sarah Peat puts it all together in a compelling and scintillating fashion, that gets the series a stunning 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. Mike Scott of the Times-Picayune said “complemented by stunning nature photography and masterful storytelling, Our Great National Parks is an Attenborough-level effort — entertaining, informative and awe-inspiring, all at once.” I’m definitely tuning in. And, finally, Netflix has Our Blues, a 2022 Korean drama series. This tells of life and love on the storied Jeju Island, home of the female deep sea divers, where life revolves around fishing and hard work. There’s Min Sun-A (Shin Min-Ah), a stranger to the island and Lee Dong-Seok (Lee Byung-Hun of Squid Game) who’s lived and worked on the island all his life. And there’s Lee Yeong-Ok (Han Ji-Min), a haenyeo (female diver) recently returned to Jeju, and fishing captain Park Jeong-Jun (Kim Woo-Bin). Cha Seung-Won, Lee Jung-Eun, Uhm Jung-hwa, Go Doo-shim and Park Ji-hwan also star, and there are 20 episodes available to gorge on now. And it gets an incredible 7.9/10 on IMDb. Pierce Conran of the South China Morning Post calls it a “rich and romantic ensemble drama,” and I can’t wait to watch.
Amazon has a hugely exciting add with Outer Range, the sci-fi western adventure series. Josh Brolin stars as Royal Abbott, here, a Wyoming rancher, managing the hardships of ranching with his wife Cecilia (Lili Taylor), who drags them to church each week, as a rival rancher puts a claim on their land. But things are turned upside-down with the arrival of Autumn, played by Imogen Poots, who asks Royal’s permission to camp on his land, and who wants to investigate the strange primitive petroglyphs that dot his land. Then Royal finds the seemingly bottomless, perfectly symmetrical hole on his land. And things go haywire. Tamara Podemski, Olive Abercrombie, Tom Pelphrey, Lewis Pullman and Will Patton(!) also star, and there are 2 episodes available now, with a new one dropping every Friday. And it gets an astounding 7.9/10 on IMDb, with Inverse Mag calling it “the best new show of 2022.” I’m definitely tuning in. But Amazon also offers Never Rarely Sometimes Always, the 2020 award-winning drama. This tells of seventeen-year-old Autumn Callahan, who goes to a crisis pregnancy center in Pennsylvania, and when they finally test her and she finds she’s 10 weeks pregnant, the center offers no help other than a pamphlet on adoption. When Autumn finds her state requires parental consent for any teen pregnancy, she tries taking drugs to abort, and even hitting herself hard in the stomach, to no avail. So she finally tells her cousin Skylar, played by Talia Ryder, and they hatch a scheme to go to New York City, to procure the abortion. After the bus there, Autumn‘s examination at Planned Parenthood shows she’s actually 18 months pregnant, and a more expensive and time-consuming procedure will be required. And questions ensue, worrying Autumn that she’ll have to tell them about the physical and sexual abuse that led to her pregnancy. And the pair have to find money for their trip home. Théodore Pellerin, Ryan Eggold, Sharon Van Etten, Kelly Chapman and Kim Rios Lin also star, while Eliza Hittman directed, along with writing the script here. And this movie won widespread praise, as well as numerous awards in 2020, including Breakthrough Performance at the 2021 National Board of Review for Flanigan and the Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize at the 70th Berlin International Film Festival. And this film gets an astounding 99% on Rotten Tomatoes, and a 7. 4/10 on IMDb. Dwight Brown of the National Newspaper Publishers Association said its “an enlightening script, expert ensemble acting and the most revealing film ever made about a young woman’s right to choose.” I’m tuning in. And it’s added to Amazon’s IMDb channel, so look for it there. And, finally, Amazon has added season 1 of the MHZ French crime series Tandem. Here, Commander Léa Soler (Astrid Veillon) arrives for her new job as head of the criminal investigation division of the Montpellier Police. When she’s called out in the field immediately, to investigate a woman’s body found in a marsh, she meets up with other police there, including Captain Paul Marchal(Stéphane Blancafort). Who happens to be her ex-husband, unaware she was transferring to his division. And, so, they go on to solve crimes together, however awkwardly. Titouan Laporte and Sarah-Cheyenne Santoni play their teen age children Thomas and Sarah, and François-Dominique Blin, Pierick Tournier, Nelly Lawson, Baya Rehaz and Tatiana Gousseff also star, and there are 12 episodes to devour before May 1, when, of course, this series returns to the premium dimension of MHZ tv. And this series gets a 6.6/10 on IMDb. And i love a mystery.
So sit back and binge this weekend, on classics, old and new, on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Enjoy!