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 amazing, though perhaps more obscure, title added with Petite Maman, a 2021 drama from writer-director Céline Sciamma (Portrait of a Lady on Fire!). This tells the surreal tale of Nelly, played by Joséphine Sanz, an 8 year-old heartbroken by the recent death of her grandmother, partly because she didn’t get a good chance to say goodbye. But when she and her mother Marion (Nina Meurisse) and unnamed father (Stéphane Varupenne) go to clean out her grandmother’s rustic house in the woods, Nelly meets another girl, also named Marion(played by her twin sister Gabrielle Sanz, who becomes a fast and inseparable friendship. The two girls plays in the woods where her mother grew up, and share a magical bond. Meanwhile, Nelly‘s mother Marion has left the house, to deal with her own deep grief. Margot Abascal plays the Nelly’s grand-mère, and Florès Cardo, Josée Schuller, Masoud Tosifyan and Guylène Péan also star, and Sciamma wrote the script, here, along with directing. And this movie won numerous accolades last year, being nominated for the Golden Bear in Berlin, and winning the Best Film Not in the English Language at the L.A. Film Critics Awards. and Best Film at the Stockholm Film Festival. And it gets a stunning 97% on Rotten Tomatoes, and a 7.4/10 on IMDb, and Justin Chang of NPR called it “the best — and most surreal — family movie you’ll see in a while.” I’m definitely watching. Hulu has another big title added with Tell Me Lies, a 2022 romance series. Based on the novel by Carola Lovering, this tells of Lucy, played by Grace Van Patten, and her 8 year toxic relationship with Stephen(Jackson White), definitely a bad choice for a boyfriend, starting with their first meeting in college in 2007. Through the years, he cheats on her, and deceives her, but Lucy is always drawn back into his power. But be forewarned, this series spends half of its first season on the first year of their relationship. Catherine Missal, Spencer House, Sonia Mena, Branden Cook, Benjamin Wadsworth and Alicia Crowder also star, and there are 4 episodes available now. Meaghan Oppenheimer directs all 4, and Emma Roberts serves as executive producer. And this series gets a respectable 83% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Angie Han of the Hollywood Reporter saying a “keen understanding of the psychology driving its central relationship… distinguishes Tell Me Lies from any number of dramas about steamy but doomed romances.” But it’s a little too sappy for me. Luckily, Hulu also has Wedding Season, a 2022 British romance/mystery comedy series. Not to be confused with the Netflix movie of the same name, this has doctor Stefan, played by Gavin Drea, fall hopelessly in love with Katie, played by Rosa Salazar(of Undone), when they meet at the beginning of an eventful wedding season, eventful especially because Katie is getting married, to another man, namely, Hugo Delaney (George Webster). Katie strike Stefan’s friends as a dangerous person, but no one knows how dangerous, until murder strikes her wedding party, and it looks like Katie could be responsible. But Stefan sticks with her, even as they flee the police. Jade Harrison, Jamie Michie, Callie Cooke, Bhav Joshi, Ioanna Kimbrook, and Omar Baroud also star, and George Kane directs. And this series gets a 69% on Rotten Tomatoes, but I love it. It’s funny, warm, and insightful. Nick Allen of RogerEbert.com writes it “cleverly combines the rush of Hitchcockian “wrong man” yarns with a send-up of the Wedding Industrial Complex.” I am definitely watching. And, finally, Hulu has Monsters, a 2010 British sci-fi movie. This takes place 6 years after aliens have arrived on earth(via a crashing NASA satellite), where the losing fight between the monsters and the humans has become routine in the occupied zones, and where photojournalist, John (Scoot McNairy) seeks to cover the aliens while escorting his boss’s daughter, Sam (Whitney Able), home to the U.S. from Mexico. As they make their quiet, but perilous journey north, they meet many deterrents, with aliens being just some of the dangers. Mario Zuniga Benavides, Annalee Jefferies, Justin Hall, Ricky Catter and Paul Archer also star, while Gareth Edwards(Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) directed. And this movie gets a 73% on Rotten Tomatoes, and Deborah Ross of the Spectator called it “a special, wonderfully atmospheric achievement.” But don’t expect mind-blowing battles with tons of special effects, this is a quieter, more reflective drama. And I’m watching.
Netflix, unusually, is short of big titles added this week, but there are still some intriguing shows to be found, like Diary of a Gigolo, a 2022 Spanish thriller series. Jesús Castro stars as the title gigolo, here, Emanuel, an unapologetic and beautiful man, who lends himself to rich(beautiful) women, for a price, always managing to stay detached and businesslike. But when his customer Ana(Fabiola Campomanes) asks a particular favor, to have him pay attention to her daughter Julia(Victoria White), traumatized by her father’s death, Emanuel makes the mistake of becoming too attached to the young woman, and so incenses her mother. But the ensuing murder makes everything worse, especially when Emanuel becomes the prime suspect. Francisco Denis,Begoña Narváez ,Alosian Vivancos, Adriana Barraza and Nacho Gadano also star, and there are 10 steamy episodes available for streaming now. and this racy series gets an incredible 7.1/10 on IMDb, but beware, there is plenty of nudity and sex. Alia Shirazi of The Envoy Web calls it “unexpectedly intriguing whodunnit narrative.” But for adults only. Netflix also offers Family Secrets, a 2022 Polish romantic dramedy series. The mystery here is who Kaśka, or Katarzyna, played by Eliza Rycembel, is really in love with, on the cusp of her wedding to Janeczek(Bartosz Gelner), as Kaśka is late for her wedding, locked n the bathroom and crying, while having flashbacks about the other men in her life. There is her great friend Pawel (Piotr Pacek), who is nowhere to be found, and other men that orbit her chaotic life. And the identity of the father of her expected child is anyone’s guess, too. Izabela Kuna, Edyta Olszówka, Pawel Delag, Alma Asuai, Adrien Zaremba and Dominika Kluzniak also star, and there are 8 quirky episodes available to be enjoyed now. And it gets a 5.9/10 on IMDb, with Christine Kinori of the Review Geek calls it “an entertaining show and if you like messy entanglements, over-exaggeration and melodrama then you might enjoy this one.” It’s on my list. But Netflix also has Diorama, a 2022 Swedish drama. Here, Bjorn(David Cencik) and Frida(Pia Tjelta) approach what looks to be the end of their marriage, with Bjorn dreading divorce, and so refusing to admit any problem, while Frida yearns for a break. And so we get a forensic view of what has gone wrong, and with interspersed dramatic scenes about the approach of other animals to monogamy, whether that’s even feasible for modern humans. Claes Bang, Marika Lagercrantz, Gunnel Fred, Shanti Roney, Sara Shirpey and Göran Ragnerstam also star, and Tuva Novotny(Britt-Marie Was Here) directs. And this film gets only a 5.7/10 on IMDb, probably because it’s a bit of a downer, and Andy Punter of ReadySteadyCut calls it “well-acted and thoughtful but needs a little more fun.” But the cast is great, and the ideas, too. It’s on my list. Netflix also has The Imperfects, a 2022 Canadian sci-fi fantasy series. This has 3 twenty somethings, Abbi(Rhianna Jagpal), Juan (Inaki Godoy), and Tilda (Morgan Taylor Campbell), having (unknowingly) undergone testing by the invidious Dr. Alex Sarkov (Rhys Nicholson) which changes them into monsters, namely turning Abbi into a succubus, Juan – a chupacabra, and Tilda – a banshee. Needless to say, they are furious, and seek out a cure; from the good, Dr. Sydney Burke, played by Italia Ricci, and the bad, Dr. Sarkov. Meanwhile, of course, the government seeks for these monsters that could serve them in war(?). Kyra Zagorsky, Celina Martin, Junnicia Lagoutin, Rekha Sharma, Ron Selmour, Chris Cope, Jennifer Cheon, and Siddhartha Minhas also star, and there are 10 episodes available for bingeing now. And this series gets a 5.6/10 on IMDb, with Vikas Yadav of the Midgard Times calling it “perfectly bingeable,” adding “I, for one, cannot wait to dive back into this world.” But a little too horrific for me. And, finally, Netflix has Narco-Saints, a 2022 Korean crime series. Unbelievably based on a true story, this has Kang In-gu (Ha Jung-woo), an ordinary businessman, approached after being wrongfully imprisoned, to work for the government to infiltrate a drug ring in Suriname, and gather damning information on the drug king Pastor Jeon Yo-hwan, played by Hwang Jung-min. The pastor is the reason In-gu was imprisoned, and the most powerful man in Suriname, but the reluctant Kang has no choice, and soon becomes knee deep in the dangerous and chaotic world of drugs in South America. Park Hae-soo(Squid Game), Choo Ja-hyun, Jo Woo-jin, Yoo Yeon-seok, Hyeon Bong-sik and Choo Ja-hyun also star, and there are 6 episodes available now for bingeing. And this series gets a 7.6/10 on IMDb. Joel Keller of The Decider says to stream it, comparing it to Breaking Bad and Ozark, adding it “doesn’t take itself super-seriously, which, along with its setting, makes for one of the better Korean dramas we’ve seen since Squid Game.” I’m definitely watching.
Amazon has a big add this week with Aline, the 2022 bio pic. Writer-director and star Valérie Lemercier(Vendredi Soir)presents her fictionalized biography of Céline Dion(her idol) here, playing Aline Dieu, a girl that begins singing when she’s 13, wowing people with her voice even then, and falling in love with her older (married) manager Guy-Claude Kamar (Sylvain Marcel), against the wishes of her mother, Sylvette (Danielle Fichaud). And so the pair finds love and riches, and have 3 children by IVF, with Aline all the while touring the world. Roc Lafortune, Danielle Fichaud, Antoine Vezina, Pascale Desrochers, Jean-Noel Broute, and Sonia Vachon also star, with Brigitte Buc co-writing the script with Lemercier. This movie garnered great attention in 2021, premiering at Cannes Film Festival, and earned four nominations at the 47th Annual César Awards, including Best Film, and with Lemercier winning for Best Actress. But otherwise, the reviews were mixed, and so it gets only a 58% on Rotten Tomatoes, and a 6.3/10 on IMDb. But beware, this isn’t your average biopic, Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian called it “bizarre, ” and Lemercier’s head digitally projected onto a kid’s head for the childhood scenes. Leslie Felperin of the Hollywood Reporter wrote “initially strange, then mildly amusing, and eventually just kind of whatever, Francophone musical success story Aline is the very definition of neither one thing nor the other.” You decide. I’d rather watch Signal, a 2016 Korean fantastical crime drama series. This features criminal profiler Park Hae-young (Lee Je-hoon), who, while investigating a kidnapping, finds an old walkie-talkie which turns out to be a channel to his long-lost mentor Det. Lee Jae-han (Cho Jin-woong). And Jae-han helps Hae-young solve cold cases, so much so that a cold case team is formed around him. Kim Hye-soo, Jang Hyun-sung, Kim Hyun-bin, Kang Chan-hee and Seo Ju-hee also star, and there are 16 episodes available for gorging on now. And this series won 3 awards at the 2016 APAN Star Awards, including Top Excellence Actor in a Miniseries for Cho Jin-woong, and Best Drama and Best Actress for Kim Hye-su at the 2016 Baek Sang Art Awards. And it gets a fantastic 8.5/10 on IMDb. K Drama World calls it a “must watch thriller Korean drama,” and I’m tuning in. And, finally, Amazon has added Days of the Bagnold Summer, a 2019 British dramedy. Based on the critically acclaimed graphic novel by Joff Winterhart, this tells the tale of Daniel, played by Earl Cave, a 15 year-old metalhead, bored at home in the English suburbs, only excited about his upcoming summer with his divorced dad in Florida. So when that’s canceled, due to his father’s undependability, Daniel gets down on everything and everyone, especially his pedestrian mom, Sue(Monica Dolan), a librarian. As she tries to entertain and engage her son, he does everything he can to not react in kind. Rob Brydon plays Daniel‘s slimy teacher who hits on Sue, and Tamsin Greig, Alice Lowe, Elliot Speller-Gillott and Grace Hogg-Robinson also star, while Simon Bird(star of The Inbetweeners) directs. And this movie gets a 93% on Rotten Tomatoes, with David Stratton of The Australian saying “Simon Tindall‘s strikingly dramatic widescreen photography is extremely impressive, but it’s the performances, and the truths inherent in the drama, that linger in the mind.” I’m tuning in.
So sit back and binge this weekend, on classics, old and new, on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Enjoy!