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 actually has no big titles added this week, but a few lucky finds like Escape From Pretoria, a 2020 drama. This tells the true story of Tim Jenkin, Stephen Lee and Alex Moumbaris, activists working on behalf of the ANC, who attempted to break out of the Pretoria Prison in 1979. Absurdly sentenced to 8 and 12 years for the crime of setting off pamphlet ‘bombs,’ Lee, played by Daniel Webber, and Jenkin (Daniel Radcliffe) are beaten and abused long enough to plan an escape. Aided by ANC activist Denis Goldberg (Ian Hart), they ridiculously plan to whittle keys out of wood, and get out. Nathan Page, Ratidzo Mambo, Stephen Hunter, Mark Leonard and Jeanette Cronin also star, while Francis Annan directed. This movie was nominated for Best Cinematography at the 2020 Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) Awards, and is based on the 2003 book Inside Out: Escape from Pretoria Prison by Tim Jenkin. And it gets a respectable 73% on Rotten Tomatoes. Wendy Ide of the Observer(UK) said, “it’s the nervy camera, hugging the characters at hip height, the better to scrutinise each locked barrier to freedom, that most successfully builds the tension.” I agree. This tense movie is on my list. Hulu also offers Last Survivors, a 2021 sci-fi thriller. This focuses on Troy(Stephen Moyer) and his son Jake(Drew Van Acker), with the pair trying to eke out an existence after supposed ‘wars’ wiped out civilization. In their ‘Utopia,’ Jake is under orders to shoot first, as outsiders are the ‘plague,’ but when he wanders past the boundaries, and meets Henrietta (Alicia Silverstone), Jake sees another world, and a different truth than his beloved father’s .Benjamin Arthur, Simon Lees, Mark Famiglietti and Akaash Yadav also star, while Drew Mylrea directed. And this, too, gets a 73% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Angie Han of the Hollywood Reporter calling it “a film with a lot on its mind, one that’s eager to grapple with the gnarled roots of its own appeal. But its reticence keeps it from exploring the more challenging, and possibly more rewarding, paths laid out before it.” But Hulu also has Busco Novio Para Mi Mujer, a 2016 romcom from Mexico. Here, Paco(Arath de la Torre) wants a divorce from his troublesome wife, Dana, wonderfully played by Sandra Echeverría, but can’t bring himself to ask her, so instead, he hires “El Taiger”(Jesús Ochoa) to lure her away. But when “El Taiger” does all too good a job, and Paco finds himself all too alone, he regrets his plan, and tries to get Dana back. Mariana Treviño, Mauricio Isaac, Mónica Huarte, Yago Muñoz and Jade Fraser also star, and Enrique Begne directed. And this film was based on the 2008 Argentinian film Un novio para mi mujer. It was nominated for 5 awards at the Mexican Cinema Journalists, including Best Actor for de la Torre and Best Supporting Actor for Ochoa. And it gets a 75% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Eduardo Molina of the Reforma said it “works thanks to Sandra Echeverra‘s performance, creating an endearing character.” And its funny. I’m watching. And, finally, Hulu has After Everything, a 2018 American romance. Here, 23 year-old Elliot (Jeremy Allen White) unloads his new cancer diagnosis on a relative stranger Mia(Maika Monroe) right after his appointment. So when they start a romance, it seems there’s nowhere to go but down, but Mia makes the decision to stay. DeRon Horton, Sasha Lane, Olivia Luccardi, Gina Gershon, Dean Winters and Marisa Tomei(!) also star, while Hannah Marks and Joey Power co-direct. But this is a rehash of better movies you’ve already seen, that’s only bearable because of Maika Monroe’s performance. And it gets an 83% on Rotten Tomatoes. Amy Nicholson of Variety wrote “Monroe’s grounded presence keeps the film’s feet on the ground, while White allows his character to spin into orbit when self-pity commands it.” You decide.
The biggest title added this week on Netflix, regrettably, is The Pentaverate, a 2022 comedy series. Mike Myers is back, as the numbskull Canadian journalist Ken Scarborough, whose job is in peril at his station CACA(sigh), so he and his colleague Reilly (Lydia West) investigate a new conspiracy theory, the Pentaverate. That is, purportedly, a group of the 5 richest men, most played by Myers, on earth, which controls world events, and is itself looking into the death of one of its members, having The Maester of Dubrovnik(Jennifer Saunders) look into it for them. Ken Jeong, Keegan-Michael Key, Richard McCabe, Gregory Hoyt, Maria Menounos and Debi Mazar also star, and Tim Kirkby directs all 6 episodes. But, while I’m delighted at Myers’ return to TV, the material here is substandard and not worth the time. This series gets a 25% on Rotten Tomatoes and Brian Tallerico of RogerEbert.com says it “rambles and repeats itself too often, even if the glimpses of Myers’ undeniable skill almost make it work and might be just enough for those who have missed him so.” I’m not watching. Luckily, Netflix also offers Clark, a 2022 Swedish limited period crime series. Bill Skarsgård(!) stars, here, in the sometimes true story of real-life bank robber Clark Olofsson. Olofsson became involved in crime at a young age, and so was often in juvenile detention, then moved on to big time bank robbery, and even cop killing. Isabelle Grill plays his ‘true love’ Madu, and Vilhelm Blomgren, Emil Algpeus, Malin Levanon and Sandra Ilar also star, and there are 6 episodes available for streaming now. And this wild ride of a series gets a 7.3/10 on IMDb. Joel Keller of the Decider writes it “may dabble a bit too much in making Clark Olofsson into a hero, it’s still an entertaining look at how Olofsson saw his life, whether the stories are true or not.” But I am troubled by the tendency to glamorize Olofsson, so I’ll take a pass. Netflix also has Meltdown: Three Mile Island, the 2022 docuseries. This tells of the notorious partial meltdown at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant, in Pennsylvania, in 1979, from the very townspeople from Middletown that lived through it. We hear from everyday people forced to become activists, and from parents of children sickened from the fallout. We also hear from Richard Parks, the whistleblower who reported the lax response to the disaster from Metropolitan Edison and the Pennsylvania government. We even learn from renowned nuclear physicist Michio Kaku that those involved were “playing Russian Roulette with the future of nuclear energy, and millions of lives were hinging on the state of that reactor.” Director Kief Davidson gives us an intimate view of how this event effected those involved, and how it changed their lives forever. And this 4-parter gets a stunning 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Joel Keller of the Decider saying it “takes a familiar event from the past half-century and fills in people’s gaps in information and debunks commonly held beliefs about the event.” Chilling stuff, and I’m definitely watching. And if, understandably, you need something a little lighter after that show, Netflix has also added Wild Babies, a darling 2022 British docuseries. This gives us a view of how other animals grow up, the hardships they face, and the joys they encounter. There are 8 episodes, each of which features cute stories of animals like baby orangutan Mina, lion cub Kaya and baby pangolin Matengu. But wait there’s more, like baby mongoose Quito, sea otter pup Kesari and wild dog pup Duma. And Helena Bonham Carter(!) narrates, accompanied by wonderfully up close and personal photography. And this series gets an incredible 8.5/10 on IMDb. Romey Norton of Ready Steady Cut writes “its a great watch and will resonate with broad family audiences from around the world. There is a lot to offer with the history and the science embedded in this documentary, it is something everyone from anywhere and everywhere can enjoy.” I’m definitely tuning in. And, finally, Netflix has added Summerland, a 2020 British drama. Gemma Arterton plays Alice Lamb, a reclusive author, who, holed up in the country during the Blitz in 1945, inherits a boy, Frank, played by Lucas Bond. She openly refuses him at first, until she realizes she actually volunteered for the opportunity, and grudgingly takes the refugee in. And Frank is smart enough to begin to figure Alice out, if he can just survive her remiss caregiving, and the war. Gugu Mbatha-Raw(!), Penelope Wilton(!), Amanda Root, Jessica Gunning, Dixie Egerickx and Tom Courtenay(!) also star, while Jessica Swale directed, along with writing the screenplay, here. And this film gets a 78% on Rotten Tomatoes, and John Doyle of the Globe and Mail calls it “a real gem of understated poignancy; about summers as lovely as they are fraught.” I’m definitely watching.
Okay, Amazon has very little few interesting big titles added this week, but there are still some intriguing gems like Iosi, el Espía Arrepentido, an Argentinian spy thriller series. Gustavo Bassani plays José Pérez, an operative who infiltrate the Jewish community of Buenos Aires in the 90′s, with his name changed to Iosi Peres, with a plan to work there for 20 years, in search of ‘dangerous’ Zionists. But as time progresses, he becomes suspicious of how his information is being used, even whether it has led to terrorist attacks, instead of preventing them. Natalia Oreiro stars as his only contact within the organization, and Alejandro Awada, Marco Antonio Caponi, Christian Zagia, Alejandro Awada, Minerva Casero and Mirella Pascual also star. This is based on real events, and based on the novel of the same name by Horacio Lutzky. There are 8 episodes available for bingeing now, and this series gets an astounding 7.8/10 on IMDb. I have found no reviews for this show yet, but the acting is incredible, and you know I love historical drama. I’m tuning in. Amazon also has The Photograph, the 2020 drama, available on its Freevee channel(formerly IMDb). Issa Rae(!) stars, here, as Mae, an assistant curator at the Queens Museum whose mother, photographer Christina Eames (Chanté Adams), died with the pair estranged . When reporter Michael, played by Lakeith Stanfield, comes to her, investigating Christina, Mae offers help, and becomes enlightened on her mother’s true past. As well as building a relationship with Michael. Kelvin Harrison Jr., Jasmine Cephas Jones, Dakota Paradise, Lil Rel Howery, Teyonah Parris, Rob Morgan and Courtney B. Vance(!) also star, while Stella Meghie(Jean of the Joneses) directs. And this movie got several award nominations in 2021, and went on to win the Narrative & Animated Feature at the ReFrame Awards. And it gets a 75% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Wendy Ide of the Guardian calling it “luxuriantly sensual and unashamedly romantic…… a cat’s cradle of connecting love stories, spun across states, decades and continents.” And with such a wonderful cast, I’m definitely watching. And, finally, Amazon has Last Princess, a 2016 South Korean historical drama. This tells the true tale of Korea‘s last princess, Princess Deokhye, last princess of the Joseon Dynasty, imprisoned by the Imperial Japanese government, at the age of 13, in 1925. Shin Rin-ah plays the child Deokhye, who longs to return home, but is prevented from doing so by pro-Japanese general Han Taek-soo(Yoon Je-moon). The grown princess, played by Son Ye-jin, is forced to marry Count Sō Takeyuki(Kim Jae-wook) in 1931, only to develop schizophrenia after the birth of her first child. Hospitalized, she is found by her lost love Kim Jang-han(Park Hae-il) decades later, and finally allowed to return home. Kim So-hyun, Yeo Hoe-hyun, Ra Mi-ran, Jung Sang-hoon, Park Joo-mi and Baek Yoon-sik as also star, and Hur Jin-ho directed. This film won numerous awards including Best Actress for Ye-jin and Best Supporting Actress for Ra Mi-ran at the Grand Bell Awards and Best Actor for Park Hae-il at the Golden Cinema Festival. And it gets an impressive 7/10 on IMDb, with Maggie Lee of Variety writing “audiences will be easily swept along by the compelling historical background and the character’s fates.” I’m tuning in.
So sit back and binge this weekend, on classics, old and new, on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Enjoy!