Yes, it’s that time again, the weekend, and, after an unavoidable absence, I’m back to review the best new movies and television shows added online this week, to Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. And there are some interesting new adds this week, so let’s get started!
Hulu has a huge add this week, with Under the Banner of Heaven, the FX 2022 thriller series. Based on the bestseller by Jon Krakauer, this tells parallel stories of the 1984 murder of Brenda Wright Lafferty (Daisy Edgar-Jones) and her infant daughter, and the founding of the Mormon church. Andrew Burnap plays founder Joseph Smith and Andrew Garfield plays the fictional Mormon detective Jeb Pyre who investigates Brenda‘s death with his non-Mormon partner, Bill Taba (Gil Birmingham). Billy Howle plays Brenda’s husband Allen Lafferty, and Sam Worthington, Denise Gough, Wyatt Russell, Adelaide Clemens, Gil Birmingham and Rory Culkin also star, and there are 2 episodes available now, with a new one dropping every Thursday. And this series gets an 84% on Rotten Tomatoes. Nick Allen of RogerEbert.com says its ”a mighty busy show, sometimes to the detriment of its many ideas … but it is held together by its fascinating, unique way of presenting faith.” I’m watching. Hulu also offers their in-house production Captive Audience: A Real American Horror Story, a 2022 true-crime docuseries. This tells the tale of the infamous kidnapping of 7 year-old Steven Stayner, in 1980, seemingly disappeared from the face of the earth, only to return home 7 years later, with a fellow captive, a 5 year-old boy. But the story doesn’t end there, with a happy ending all sewn up, for the day before the movie about Stephen’s traumatic experience, I Know My First Name Is Steven, Stephen Stayner died in a motorcycle crash. And then, when disappearances of a more sinister nature took place in Yosemite, with 4 girls disappearing, then found murdered, Stephen‘s elder brother Cary, became a suspect, and was later convicted and sentenced to death for the crimes, though he remains on Death Row today. This three-parter, was directed by Jessica Dimmock(I’d Rather Be Free), and gets an amazing 100% on . That’s because this is a more nuanced treatment of a true crime story than is usually given, and many Stayner family members took part in the production. Nick Schager of The Daily Beast writes ”easy answers aren’t Captive Audience’s main concern, though; instead, director Dimmock introduces a host of thorny ideas without attempting to devise a pat conclusion that will neatly tie everything together.” But it’s still too sad and tawdry a tale for me. Luckily, Hulu has also added Compliance, a 2012 drama. Dreama Walker stars, here, as Becky, a cashier at a (fictional) ChickWich restaurant who is suddenly accused, by phone, of stealing from a customer’s purse, by Officer Daniels (Pat Healy). Her boss, Sandra (Ann Dowd) panics, and is willing to do whatever the policeman wants, including a strip search, there in the back of the restaurant. At this point, the viewer might begin to wonder if this is kosher, but Sandra is caught up in the fear of scandal, and (perhaps) doesn’t feel much empathy for her worker. But the demands get excruciatingly worse. Bill Camp, Phil Ettinger, James McCaffrey, Ashlie Atkinson, Nikiya Mathis and Ralph Rodriguez also star, and Craig Zobel directed. And, worst of all, this is based on a true story, adapted for the screen by Zobel. This movie premiered at Sundance, and went on to win multiple awards in 2013, including Best Artistic/Creative Film at the St. Louis Film Critics Association Awards, and Virtuoso Award for Ann Dowd at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. And it gets an impressive 89% on Rotten Tomatoes. But as Deborah Ross of the Spectator said ”it’s not an easy watch, which is kind of the point, and I’m not even sure what genre it is. Psychological horror? Thriller? But it will haunt and resonate.” So you decide. And, finally, Hulu has Maudie, the 2017 romantic drama. Based on a true story, Sally Hawkins stars as the title character, Maud Lewis, a Canadian folk artist whose slight frame is bent by juvenile arthritis, but she still manages to paint cheery scenes on almost everything. But she’s still treated like a child by her overbearing brother, Frank(Billy MacLellan) who sells their family home without telling her, planning on her living with their aunt Ida. Which doesn’t sit well with Maud, so she answers an ad for a housekeeper posted by a fisherman, Everett Lewis(Ethan Hawke), an introvert with a traumatic past of his own. Kari Matchett, Gabrielle Rose, Zachary Bennett, Marthe Bernard and David Feehan also star, with Aisling Walsh directing. And this is a delightful film won numerous awards, too, like Best Director for Walsh and Best International Actor for Hawke at the Irish Film and Television Awards, and Outstanding Feature Film at the Women’s Image Network Awards. And Maudie gets an incredible 7.6/10 on IMDb. Bob Mondello of NPR wrote “Maud‘s life was constricted, but her gaze was expansive. And so is her movie.” I’m tuning in.
Okay, so Netflix has a few big titles added this week, but luckily there’s some good littler finds here, like Yakamoz S-245, a 2022 Turkish sci-fi thriller. This begins with an apocalypse of a different kind, with the sun suddenly flaring out of control, leaving the people of Earth knowing that all will die when the sun rises, bringing lethal radiation. And the members of the submarine YAKAMOZ S-245 crew, including biologist Arman (Kivanç Tatlitug) and Defne (Özge Özpirinçci), surface to witness the havoc , and the military realizes the submarine might be the key to survival. Ece Çesmioglu, Meriç Aral, Ertan Saban, Ecem Uzun, Ersin Arici and Jerry Hoffmann also star, and there are 8 episodes available to devour now. And this series is developed by Jason George (The Protector, Alice In Borderland). And it gets an impressive 7.6/10 on IMDb, with Joel Keller of the Decider saying it “presents a unique apocalyptic story that promises to concentrate as much on interpersonal relationships as it does the fact that the sun just killed most of humanity.” I’m definitely tuning in. Netflix also offers The 7 Lives of Lea, a 2022 French fantastical crime mystery series. This is based on the book The 7 Lives of Léo Belami by Nataël Trapp, and tells the tale of 17-year old Lea, played by Raika Hazanavicius, whose party life is upended when she finds some skeletal remains on a river bank, and then finds herself waking up in a different person’s body in 1991(30 years before) each morning. What she doesn’t realize at first, is that she is waking up each time in the body of a person involved in the murder of the body, with her first experience being in the body of Ismael, the victim. Khalil Gharbia plays Ismael, and Marguerite Thiam Donnadieu, Théo Fernandez, Maïra Schmitt and Rebecca Williams also star, and there are 7 episodes available for bingeing now. And this series gets a 7/10(!) on IMDb, and Ameen of Leisurebyte calls it “a thrilling murder mystery.” I’m watching. But Netflix also offers Hold Tight, a Polish 2022 mystery thriller limited series. This is another Netflix adaptation of a Harlan Coben, which finds Anna Barczyk, played by Magdalena Boczarska, finding her troubled and grieving son Adam(Krzysztof Oleksyn) suddenly missing, and fears for him. But the fear that her son knew more about his friend Igor’s death than he told, adds an ominous dread to the situation, and the police may not be her ally. Leszek Lichota, Agata Łabno, Mirosław Zbrojewicz, Grzegorz Damięcki and Agnieszka Grochowska also star, and there are 6 episodes available for streaming now. And this series gets a respectable 6.3/10 on IMDb, and Daniel Hart of Ready Steady Cut calls it ‘another worthwhile Harlan Coben adapted story.” Its on my list. Also new on Netflix is The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe: The Unheard Tapes, a 2022 documentary. This doc takes a look at the newly released recorded interviews from the 80‘s the powerful and famous had with Anthony Summers, who wrote a 1985 book, Goddess, about the Monroe. Billy Wilder, John Huston, Lauren Bacall and Jane Russell are included, unfortunately, along with live actors lip-syncing the audio. Better is the archival footage of Monroe, but too often it devolves into conspiracy theory and rumor, even featuring (unethical) info from the family of Ralph Greenson, Monroe’s psychiatrist. Emma Cooper serves as director here, but she spends too much time, almost half the run time, indulging in the supposed “mystery” surrounding Monroe’s death. It’s all too seedy and intrusive. So it gets a mere 41% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Brian Lowry of CNN.com saying “as well documented as all that was, it’s hard to avoid a certain sleaze factor in the telling, and the cheesy reenactments surely don’t help.” I’m definitely not watching. And, finally, Netflix has added Heartstopper, a British 2022 coming-of-age romance series. This show tells of Charlie Spring, played by Joe Locke, a gay kid who joins his friends as being ‘border-line outcasts,’ because of their sexual orientation, who meets Nicholas “Nick” Nelson, played by Kit Connor, a fellow rugby player, and falls in love. But he doesn’t know what Nick‘s feeling are, or of his sexual orientation. And Charlie already has a secret boyfriend, Ben Hope (Sebastian Croft). And Charlie‘s crush makes more waves than he could have imagined. William Gao, Yasmin Finney, Corinna Brown, Kizzy Edgell and Rhea Norwood also star, and there are 8 episodes available to devour now. And this series gets an incredible 9.1/10 on IMDb and 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Saloni Gajjar of the AV Club saying it ”aces this portrayal of the bashful hope and gutting anxiety that accompanies young love. But the show isn’t just aimed at an adolescent crowd. ” And I agree. I’m watching.
Amazon has a big add recently with A Very British Scandal, the 2022 British drama. This is a follow up to 2018‘s A Very English Scandal starring Hugh Grant, and this one tells the true story of Margaret Campbell, Duchess of Argyll, and her very public, and very scandalous, 1963 divorce from her husband Ian Campbell, 11th Duke of Argyll. Clare Foy(!) stars as the Duchess, and Paul Bettany as the Duke, with this show starting with the beginning of their affair, when the Duke was married to another woman, but determined to marry Margaret. And in three episodes, their relationship quickly devolves into extra-marital affairs, threats on life and limb. and, finally, a divorce, but with Margaret paying a high price from a disapproving and misogynistic media. Julia Davis, Camilla Rutherford, Sophia Myles, Richard McCabe and Sophie Ward also star, and Anne Sewitsky directs. And this series gets an impressive 91% on Rotten Tomatoes, and John Doyle of the Globe and Mail says that “in three parts, it is taut and fraught, with a good blend of high comedy and low morals on show, and it sticks to the core story of the marriage that went spectacularly awry.” I’m definitely tuning in. And Amazon has also added A Quiet Place Part II, the 2020 horror sequel. Most of the major characters from the 2018 original return here, including Evelyn (Emily Blunt),Regan (Millicent Simmonds), Marcus (Noah Jupe) and the baby, but most importantly, the monstrous aliens who now inhabit the earth, and hunt prey by sound. With the Abbott home in ruins(see original), the surviving family members go off in search of other surviving humans, to find how better to kill the aliens. Cillian Murphy stars as Emmett, an old friend of the family grieving his own great losses, and Lauren-Ashley Cristiano, Okieriete Onaodowan, Djimon Hounsou and even John Krasinski also star, with Krasinski himself directing again. And this movie gets a notable 91% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Wenlei Ma of News.com.au writing ”while it’s not as fresh or surprising as the original, A Quiet Place Part II adeptly balances the demands of both the genre movie and the emotional impact of the family drama. ” But it’s way too scary for me. And, finally, Amazon has 2 seasons of Pretty Hard Cases, a 2020 Canadian police comedy/drama. Meredith MacNeill and Adrienne C. Moore star, respectively, as Detectives Samantha Wazowski and Kelly Duff (Orange is the New Black), who are thrown together unexpectedly on a case, and become a team, despite being polar opposites. Duff works on the drug team in unorthodox ways, while Wazowski always follows the rules, and expects her orders to be followed, too. Jackie Richardson, Al Mukadam, Katie Douglas, Dean McDermott, Percy Hynes White and Tricia Black also star, and there are 22 episodes in all to gorge on now. And this show has been nominated for numerous awards in Canada, with MacNeill, Richardson and Mukadam all being nominated for acting awards, and the series even won Best Stunt Coordination for John Stead at the Canadian Screen Awards in 2022. And it gets an amazing 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, and Alexis Gunderson of Paste Magazine calling it ”a complex, thoughtful (and still funny!) story that — though its moments of progressive catharsis do occasionally ring too much of fantasy to be satisfying — doesn’t pretend to have all the answers.” So I’m watching.
So sit back and binge this weekend, on classics, old and new, on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Enjoy!