Yes, it’s that time again, the weekend, and time to review the best new movies and television shows added online this week(and last week), to Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. And there are some exciting new adds this week, so let’s get started.
Hulu has one huge add this week with On the Count of Three, a 2022 black comedy/drama. Jerrod Carmichael makes his directorial debut here, with the story of two suicidal friends, long beset by troubles, who make a pact to commit suicide after one last wild and crazy day together. Carmichael plays Val, whose breakup with his girlfriend Natsha(Tiffany Haddish!), and family difficulties have left him hopeless, and Christopher Abbott plays Kevin, escaped from a mental hospital after an unsuccessful suicide attempt, and dogged by depression most of his life. So the two take a road trip, doing whatever they please and maybe evening the score with some of the people responsible for their woes. High on that list is Dr. Brenner, played by Henry Winkler(!). J.B. Smoove, Lavell Crawford, Ryan James McDonald, Alison Busner and Jamie Mac also star, and Ari Katcher and Ryan Welch of the The Carmichael Show wrote the amazing script. This movie was a hit at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival, where it was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize, and won the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award for Ketcher and Welch. And it gets an 85% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Carlos Aguilar of RogerEbert.com calling it a “rousing tragicomedy that straddles a line between incredibly calibrated gallows humor and a devastating discourse on the burden of existence.” and don’t worry, it’s funny. I’m watching. Hulu has also added Stage Mother, a 2020 comedy. Jacki Weaver(!) stars here as the conservative Southern Baptist choir master, Maybelline, living in southern Texas when she learns of her (gay)estranged son Rickey’s (Eldon Thiele) death. Overcome with grief, she travels to San Francisco to settle his estate, despite the objections of her disapproving husband, Jeb (Hugh Thompson), and finds he has a gay bar, that she’s inherited. And in tribute to him, Maybelline keeps it, and brings it back from the dead. Lucy Liu(!), Adrien Grenier, Lenore Zann, Jackie Beat, Mya Taylor and Anthony Skordi also star, and Thom Fitzgerald directed. And it gets a 60% on Rotten Tomatoes, probably because it’s not too original. But Tara Brady of the Irish Times said it’s “glittery, old-fashioned and big-hearted. And Jacki Weaver is always wonderful, so I’m watching. But Hulu also offers Whose Streets?, a 2017 documentary. This considers the 2014 killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown by police in Ferguson, Missouri, and the intolerance of police there to deal with the fury of the people and even the demonstration of grief, for a victim who is black. We get the firsthand declarations of Missouri residents who have lived with a double standard in their community all their lives, but especially when dealing with police. Director Sabaah Folayan gives us an immersive view of the tense situations that followed the shooting, with authorities in Ferguson offering tolerance for even the most pacifistic displays on the part of citizens that disagreed with the killing and the frustrations that followed. This film was nominated for multiple awards in 2017, and went on to win Best Documentary at both the Crested Butte Film Festival and the Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival. And it gets a stunning 98% on Rotten Tomatoes. Ann Hornaday of the Washington Post said its a “riveting street-level account, not only of Ferguson’s days of rage, but also the decades of marginalization and mistreatment that led up to them.” I’m watching. And, finally, Hulu has added Journey to the West, a 2013 Taiwanese fantasy thriller. This tells the story of Xuan Zang (Zhang Wen), would-be Buddhist hero, and killer of demons, thanks to his Demon Hunters Handbook. Unfortunately, he is determined to sing the monsters into submission, which doesn’t yet work, and rival demon hunter Miss Duan (Qi Shu), who can tackle the worst demons with the help of her magical golden bracelet, often saves his life. And together they fight the demons, enroute to meeting the infamous Monkey King (Bo Huang). Yu Xing, Show Luo, Shing-Cheung Lee, Bingqiang Chen and Sihan Cheng also star, while Stephen Chow(Kung Fu Hustle, Shaolin Soccer!) and Chi-kin Kwok direct. And this movie gets an amazing 94% on Rotten Tomatoes, and Ronnie Scheib of Variety wrote it’s “another exquisite, snail-paced cinematic perambulation from Tsai Ming-liang and Lee Kang-sheng.” I agree, and it’s so much fun! I’m definitely tuning in.
The most publicized title added on Netflix this week is probably Look Both Ways, a 2022 romantic comedy. This considers the life of college senior Natalie, played by Lili Reinhart, as she finds herself pregnant on the eve of graduation, and the movie takes parallel paths with the different trajectories her life could take. On one path, she remains pregnant, and stays in her hometown, while on the other trajectory, she leaves home, following her dream career in L.A. Andrea Savage and Luke Wilson play her perturbed parents, and Danny Ramirez, Aisha Dee, David Corenswet, Taylor Murphy and Nia Long also star, and Wanuri Kahiu directs. But this movie doesn’t really pan out, and so only gets a 58% on Rotten Tomatoes. And Natalia Winkelman of the New York Times writes “it’s jarring to see Natalie’s unplanned pregnancy introduced as a cool dose of reality rather than decision to be made, and the movie’s post-Roe release only adds insult to injury.” I totally agree. Definitely not watching. But, luckily, Netflix also has Kleo, a delightfully twisted German revenge thriller series. Jella Haase plays Kleo, here, a dutiful East German Stasi agent and killing machine, who was betrayed and spent years in prison, making her all the more determined to avenge herself against any and all who put her there. Kleo is also a spectacularly efficient(and imaginative killer) compared by some reviewers to Villanelle of Killing Eve, and takes delight in taking out enemies. But this series also tells the story of her betrayer(I won’t tell who, no spoilers here), and their side of the story. Dimitrij Schaad ,Vladimir Burlakov, Vincent Redetzki, Julius Feldmeier and Marta Sroka also star, and there are 8 exciting episodes available to enjoy now. And this series gets a 6.9/10 on IMDb, with Rebecca Nicholson of the Guardian saying “like a German Killing Eve….a rollicking adventure through cold war-era Berlin.” I am definitely tuning in. Netflix has also added Girl in the Mirror, a 2022 Spanish YA horror series. This tells the tale of Alma, played by Mireia Oriol, one of the few survivors of a horrible bus accident that killed many of her classmates, and left her hospitalized with vision problems and amnesia. But when she starts seeing things at night in her hospital room, her doctor thinks she’s remembering things, but when she recognizes a girl Nica(Milena Smit), her father tells her she doesn’t actually know. Claudia Roset, Álex Villazán, Laura Ubach, Pol Monen and Javier Morgade also star, and Sergio G. Sánchez directs all 9 episodes. And this show gets an impressive 7/10 on IMDb, and Riya Singh of LeisureByte says “this is a thriller that you will love, and horror without any pop-ups that will excite you for what is to come.” And it is pretty graphic(gory), so be forewarned. And it’s probably too much for me. Luckily, Netflix has also added Inside the Mind of the Cat, a 2022 animal doc. This features new research into felines, and not what makes them tick, but an idea of how their mind works. There’s a brief history of how far back the human/cat link goes, even travelling to a dig in Cyprus for evidence, then information on the cat’s physiology works, how they right themselves, and finally how they interact with people. And you might be surprised how much cats prefer humans to anything, despite their independent air.. And director Andy Mitchell gives a good balance of science and cute, there’s plenty to interest all of the family. And this darling series gets a noteworthy 7.1/10(!) on IMDb, and Greg Wheeler of the Review Geek calls it “a purrfectly informative documentary …. a fun, informative and educational look at our feline friends and well worth a watch.” I’m watching..twice. And, finally, Netflix has added Learn to Swim, a 2021 romantic drama. This features the story of Dezi, played by Thomas Antony Olajide, an erratic Toronto sax player, who meets Selma (Emma Ferreira), an up and coming singer. The pair are automatically drawn to each other, but Dezi’s troubled past and the tooth ache that dogs him, adds such turbulence to their relationship that the whole thing might collapse. And it’s suffused with sublime jazz music. Khadijah Salawu, Andrea Davis, Andrea Pavlovic, Meagan De Lima ,Jolly Amoako and Saida Ali also star, and Thyrone Tommy directed. And this movie won the Best Producer Award for Alona Metzer at the 2022 Brooklyn Film Festival, and the Achievement in Music, Original Song for Tika Simone and Casey Manierka-Quaile at the 2022 Canadian Screen Awards. And it gets an incredible 93% on Rotten Tomatoes. Noel Murray of the Los Angeles Times says “Tommy… riffs freely, aping the moody, improvisatory style of classic jazz as he works some rich variations on the all-too-common story of an artist knocked around by a rough romance.” I’m tuning in.
Unfortunately, the big add on Amazon this week is The Lost City, the 2022 adventure thriller. Sandra Bullock plays romance writer Loretta Sage, who always uses her (otherwise useless) male model Alan(Channing Tatum) for her covers. So when Loretta is kidnapped by billionaire Abigail Fairfax (Daniel Radcliffe) on an exotic island, Alan is determined to come to her rescue and prove to her that he’s not just a pretty face. Of course, hilarity ensues. Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Oscar Nunez(The Office!), Patti Harrison, Bowen Yang and Brad Pitt(!) also star, while Adam and Aaron Nee direct. And this movie gets a respectable 79% on Rotten Tomatoes, Jake Wilson of The Age (Australia) writing “ultimately there is not much to recommend The Lost City beyond a degree of unpretentious good nature, plus the appeal of its stars. But depending on your fondness for Bullock and Tatum, that may be enough to make you feel you haven’t been robbed.” So if you feel so inclined, definitely tune in. But Amazon has also added Season 1 of Good Grief, a New Zealand comedy on the Sundance channel. This considers the dilemma of the Goode sisters, Ellie (Eve Palmer) and Gwen(Grace Palmer), who unexpectedly inherit their grandfather’s funeral home. Recently fired from her teaching job, Ellie wants to make a go of it, though she may be a bit too perky about it, while Gwen wants to take off for Bali and become a DJ. But the big question is, how do you make a mortuary more popular? Vinnie Bennett, Josh Thompson, Sophie Hambleton, Bree Peters, and James Roque also star, and there are 6 episodes available for gorging now. And this series gets a 6.5/10 on IMDb, and accolades from reviewers online, like The Sun calling it “silly, tender and smart – and a lot of fun,” and the New York Times saying its more “quirky comedy than a bummertown weepfest.” Just remember to watch before September 1st, when it returns to Sundance Now. I’m tuning in. And, finally, Amazon has added Sprung, a 2022 American comedy series, on it’s Freevee channel. This takes place early in 2020, with Covid-19 in full force, and so has the prisoners at a state co-ed prison suddenly set free, leaving them with no idea of where to go and what to do. So Jack (Garret Dillahunt), determined to do good but with no home base, ends up staying with ex-cellmate Rooster (Phillip Garcia, Telenovela) and another ex-con Gloria (Shakira Barreraa, GLOW) at the home of Rooster’s mom, Barb(Martha Plimpton!!), while they figure out what to do. Little do they know that Barb has ideas of her own, all nefarious, with a history of porch package theft, and she hopes to move on to real theft. The ex-cons have little choice, especially during lockdown, with little or no experience in the 21st century world. James Earl, Kate Walsh, Clare Gillies, Chris Bauer and Susan Ruttan(!) also star, and there are 2 episodes available now, with more to come. And this series is created by writer Greg Garcia (My Name is Earl!), with more quirky characters. And it gets an incredible 8.5/10 on IMDb. Daniel Fienberg of the Hollywood Reporter says its “prime Greg Garcia….a solid blend of coarse, lowbrow humor and well-executed sentiment, featuring a great ensemble cast.” All that, and Martha Plimpton, too. I’m definitely watching.
So sit back and binge this weekend, on classics, old and new, on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Enjoy!