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 two huge adds this week, starting with FX’s The Old Man, a 2022 spy thriller series. Adapted from the Thomas Perry novel, this tells of wizened ex-CIA agent Dan Chase, expertly played by Jeff Bridges, living off the grid, and living down his storied past, when he is woken by an intruder, who breaks into his cabin, and takes a shot at the sleeping man. When Chase’s old friend(and CIA bigwig) Harold Harper (John Lithgow!), calls, he offers his friend one last chance, to disappear forever, or the CIA will go after his daughter, Emily(Laura Bailey). When Chase refuses, he goes on the run, seeking answers in the Middle East, where he had been involved in a very questionable death, along with Zoe McDonald(Amy Brenneman), a woman who offered him assistance, thereby endangering herself. Bill Heck, Christopher Redman, Alia Shawkat, E.J. Bonilla and Gbenga Akinnagbe also star, and there are 2 episodes available now, with a new one dropping each Friday. And this series gets an amazing 96% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Nick Allen of RogerEbert.com calling it “a bold, wise series, with a knockout performance from Bridges leading the way.” Its on my list. But Hulu also offers Good Luck to You, Leo Grande, the 2022 award-winning comedy drama. Emma Thompson(!) plays Nancy Stokes, here, a lonely, retired teacher and widow, intent on improving her life. At 63, Nancy has never really enjoyed intimacy, even with her husband, and never had an orgasm, so she sets up meetings with Leo, a young sex worker, hoping for tutorials and learning how to enjoy sex. And though Leo is warm, and supportive in the therapeutic visits, of a sort, he offers, he is reluctant to offer any details about his own life. So a nurturing relationship builds between the two, that helps them both. Isabella Laughland, Charlotte Ware, Carina Lopes, Les Mabaleka and Lennie Beare also star, while Sophie Hyde directs. And this film premiered at this years Sundance Film Festival, and gets a 95% on Rotten Tomatoes. Brian Lowry of CNN said “Emma Thompson lays herself bare in the dramedy Good Luck to You, Leo Grande, but it’s the emotional aspects that deserve the most attention, in this funny and sensitively told two-hander.” I’m watching. Also new on Hulu is Leave No Trace, a 2022 crime documentary. This doc investigates just some of the sexual abuse victims involving the Boy Scouts of America, with two brothers from Lebanon, Oregon being featured, having fallen victim to scoutmaster Doug Young between 2015 and 2017, along with other victims, including Stuart Lord, from Boulder, Colorado, who kept his secret for decades, until finally contacting the police. Lord’s abuser actually confessed his crimes to police, leaving the man relieved and delighted. But Lord was actually among the minority in getting vindication, as director Irene Taylor(The Final Inch) shows. The Boy Scout Organization has dealt with these troubling problems internally, with no notification for families involved or even police, instead using a probation system, and even offering ‘second chances’ to some offenders. This very troubling documentary premiered at the 2022 Tribeca Film Festival, and Jacob Mouradian of film-book.com calls it a “heartbreaking…..story of survival and resilience and the long struggle for restorative justice, and that keeps the doc moving along amidst its dark and dire demeanor.” We all should watch, and admire the courageous people who spoke out against their abusers, here, too. And, finally, Hulu has Here Before, the 2021 horror/thriller. Andrea Riseborough(!) stars here, as Laura, a woman grappling with the death of her daughter, Rosalie(Grace O’Dwyer), when a new family moves in next door, and Laura becomes obsessed with their daughter Megan(Niamh Dornan). But Megan resembles Rosalie in strange ways, being not just the same age, but remembering their favorite playground, and horribly, remembering being buried in Rosalie‘s cemetery. As Laura becomes convinced of a tie between the two girls, Megan‘s mom Marie(Eileen O’Higgins) and Laura’s husband Brendan(Jonjo O’Neill) become alarmed. Lewis McAskie, Martin McCann and Gina Moxley also star, while Stacey Gregg debuted, along with writing the script of this thriller. And this film was nominated for several awards in 2021, and went on to win Best International Film at the Galway Film Fleadh. And it gets an 81% on Rotten tomatoes, and Cath Clarke of the Guardian said “it’s is a very accomplished debut from Gregg, and acted with subtlety and sensitivity by Riseborough.” I’m tuning in.
There are some big titles added on Netflix this week, too, but none bigger than Spiderhead, the 2022 sci-fi thriller. Based on the short story by George Saunders(!) Escape from Spiderhead, this features a state of the art prison, with an open door policy, which of course, is tempered by the fact that each prisoner wears a surgically attached device, allowing them to be drugged every day, serving as lab rats for the pharmaceutical industry. Chris Hemsworth plays Steve Abnesti, head of the penitentiary and it’s program, who seems to take a special pleasure in the effect of the mood altering drugs, good and bad, and Miles Teller and Jussie Smollett play two prisoners, Jeff and Lizzy, respectively, who must submit to the ghastly experiments. But when the pair discover a secret journal belonging to Abesti, they find a much darker end-game than curing the world’s ills and they threaten to bring the whole operation down. Tess Haubrich, Angie Milliken, Mark Paguio, BeBe Bettencourt, Joey Vieira and Sam Delich also star, and Joseph Kosinski directs. But the material doesn’t quite pan out here, and so, only gets a 45% on Rotten Tomatoes. Nick Schager of the Daily Beast says “sadly, the performance—and movie—fall flat,” and I agree. I won’t be watching. But Netflix also offers God’s Fcavorite Idiot, a 2022 comedy series from Melissa McCarthy and Ben Falcone. This tells the story of super nice guy Clark(Falcone), who upon being struck by lightening, glows gold. When his girl friend Amily(McCarthy) witnesses it, she tells everyone at work, not realizing that Clark has been imbued with much more than an auric hue, but with supernatural powers from God. Not just to bring peace and harmony to earth, of course, but to fight Satan(Leslie Bibb) and even the four Horsemen of the apocalypse, too, coming soon to our planet. Kevin Dunn, Usman Ally, Steve Mallory, Chris Sandiford and Yanic Truesdale also star, and there are 8 episodes available for streaming now. But this is a super silly show, with too much ridiculous material, even for McCarthy fans like me. And so, it gets a mere 25% on Rotten Tomatoes. Daniel D’Addario of Variety writes it “is just sad. What a waste of precious time in the career of a talented performer, one whose fans will follow her anywhere, and who rewards them with so little of what she can do.” Agreed. Luckily, Netflix has also added You Don’t Know Me, a 2021 British thriller series. Samuel Adewunmi stars as Hero, a young car salesman on trial for murder of drug dealer, Jamil Issa(Roger Nsengiyumva). And the case looks particularly damning against Hero, who fired his barrister, and must deliver his own closing statement, leaving him one last chance, to tell his story, and win over the jury. So Hero tells his story of the woman he loved, Kyra (Sophie Wilde), her involvement with Issa, and her disappearance. But will it sway the jury? Yetunde Oduwole, Bukky Bakray, Duane Boachie and Michael Balogun also star, and there are 4 episodes available to binge on now. And Adewunmi earned a nomination for Best Leading Actor at the 2022 BAFTA Awards. And this series gets a 6.9/10 on IMDb, with Ed Cumming of the Independent (UK) writing “the supporting cast are uniformly strong, especially Nsengiyumva as a gangster with a few surprises up his sleeve, but the whole thing revolves around Adewunmi.” I’m tuning in. Also new and notable on Netflix is The Martha Mitchell Effect, a 2022 documentary. If you’re intrigued by Gaslit on Starz, or even if you’re only interested in U.S. history, you should watch this doc, about the real firecracker that was Martha Mitchell. Wife of Nixon’s US Attorney General Joh Mitchell, and former beauty queen, Mitchell was accustomed to the limelight of Washington, and a hit on the talk show circuit, not afraid to tell it like it is. But when Watergate came around, and Martha Mitchell knew of his engagement, she was the first to suggest he step down. Which, of course, didn’t sit well with the president, which led to all sorts of nasty stories and rumors about her, put out there from the experts in rat-****ing(their term, not mine), about alcoholism and insanity. She was finally held captive in a California hotel, where she was beaten and drugged for two days. Directors Anne Alvergue and Debra McClutchy bring us plenty of archival footage, and put all together to give us a nice sense of the spirit of the times, and yet another chance to be disgusted with what the Nixon White House was willing to do. There’s even the appalling video of Nixon having the gall to say “if there had been no Martha, there would have been no Watergate.” And it gets a 6.3/10 on IMDb, with LeisureByte calling it “surprising, compelling and poignant…a fascinating and frustrating work.” I agree. I’m watching. And, finally, Netflix has added Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom, a 2019 drama. Here, Sherab Dorji stars as Ugyen Dorji, a young singer living in Thimphu, capital of Bhutan, with his grandmother, (Tsheri Zom), dreaming of traveling to Australia and becoming famous, who instead, has to go to the tiny Himalayan village of Lunana, with no Wi-Fi, electricity, or even indoor bathrooms, to teach. The hike there is tortuous, but the village is even more disappointing, with little to draw the young man. He voices his displeasure often, not knowing if he can even teach there. But, slowly the environment and the people of the highland village, enchant Ugyen, and he faces the new dilemma of going home. Kelden Lhamo Gurung, Kunzang Wangdi, Pem Zam, Ugyen Norbu Lhendup,and Tshering Dorji also star, and Pawo Choyning Dorji directed. This was the first Bhutanese film to be nominated for an Academy Award, and it went on to win Best Film at the 2021 CinemAsia Film Festival, Best Narrative Feature at the 2020 Palm Springs International Film Festival and Best Actor and Best Film at the 2020 Festival International de Film Saint-Jean-de-Luz. And it gets a stunning 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, and a 7.4/10 on IMDb. Sheri Linden of the Hollywood Reporter said “Dorji avoids predictable turns, instead building the drama toward an affecting tangle of feelings and an open-ended promise of transformation.” I’m definitely tuning in.
Amazon has a few impressive adds up it’s sleeve too, with titles like The Summer I Turned Pretty, a 2022 YA drama series. Based on a novel by Jenny Han (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before), adapted by Han as well, this tells the story of Isabel (Lola Tung), nicknamed Belly, getting ready to celebrate her 16th birthday, with family and friends, like every other year, but this year is different, as Belly’s started wearing make-up and growing into an adult beauty. Which shocks her friends Conrad (Christopher Briney) and Jeremiah (Gavin Casalegno) into realization about the girl they once knew. Belly goes to debutante balls and booze parties, too, in an effort to discover who she is. Jackie Chung, Sean Kaufman, Rachel Blanchard, Alfredo Narciso and Minnie Mills also star, and there are 7 episodes available for viewing now. And this series gets an 82% on Rotten Tomatoes, and Vanity Fair calls it “wistful fantasy for the whole family.” But it’s not quite my cup of tea. I’d rather watch The Lake, a 2022 Canadian comedy series. Jordan Gavaris stars, here, as Justin, a gay man fresh off a break-up, who wants to reconnect with his daughter Billie, whom he gave up for adoption years before. The fact that he opts for a lake cabin getaway doesn’t help his case with city-loving Billie, played by Madison Shamoun, who isn’t too crazy about reconnecting in the first place. But the big complication lies in the a fact that his family cabin nearby is now owned by his devious but popular step-sister Maisy-May(Julia Stiles!), with whom he has been grappling all his life. And when Justin learns she plans to sell their beloved family home to developers, he explodes…and then comes up with a plan. Terry Chen, Travis Nelson, Natalie Lisinska, Jon Dore and Carolyn Scott also star, and there are 8 episodes available to devour now. And this series gets a 5.6/10 on IMDb, but John Anderson of the Wall Street Journal said “in addition to the deft comic performances by Mr. Gavaris, Ms. Shamoun and Ms. Stiles, The Lake has a better-than-predictable galaxy of orbiting satellite characters.” I’m watching. And, finally, Amazon has Season 1 of Imma Tataranni, a 2019 Italian mystery series from the MHZ channel. Vanessa Scalera plays the title character, Imma Tataranni, a deputy public prosecutor in Matera, Italy, investigating many different cases in the scenic town in Puglia. She works with her assistant Corporal Calogiuiri (played by Alessio Lapice), and is forever fighting the patriarchy that runs the town, but don’t worry, she’s more than up to the fight. Massimiliano Gallo plays her supportive husband Pietro, Alice Azzariti– her daughter, Valentina, and Lucia Zotti, Alessio Lapice, Cesare Bocci, Barbara Ronchi and Ester Pantano also star. And there are 6 scrumptious episodes available to devour now, but finish before July 1, when they revert back to MHZ. And this series gets an impressive 7.3/10 on IMDb, and MoreTimeToTravel.com says “while it ….is also set in an appealing Southern Italy locale, Imma Tataranni really deserves to be seen and appreciated in its own right.” And I agree, there’s humor, delicious food, beautiful scenery and great acting. And I love a mystery. I’m definitely tuning in.
So sit back and binge this weekend, on classics, old and new, on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Enjoy!