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 a big add this week with it’s original comedy series Reboot. Created by Steven Levitan of Modern Family, this tells of the effort by a television company to reboot an popular old series, with young writer writer Hannah, played by Rachel Bloom, suggesting an edgy millennial update. But soon, others get involved, and the show’s old creator, Gordon (Paul Reiser), wants to go back to the 80‘s with comfortable, if inappropriate, jokes. And, if that’s not bad enough, when cast members show up for the reboot, old rivalries and resentments resurface, making the whole project almost impossible. Keegan-Michael Key, Judy Greer(!), Johnny Knoxville, Calum Worthy and Fred Melamed also star, and there are 4 episodes available now, with 4 more to come. And it gets an 83% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Lorraine Ali of the Los Angeles Times calling it a “fun, clever and self-deprecating sendup of an unimaginative, reboot-obsessed television industry, mining rich material from the generation gap between old-school boomer humor and fussy cancel culture.” It’s on my list. But Hulu also had 7 Days, a 2021 romcom. This has two Indian-American twenty-somethings, Rita (Geraldine Viswanathan) and Ravi (Karan Soni) set up by their parents(with marriage in mind) on a awkward first date. But when news of the Covid restrictions come up right in the middle of it, they have to hunker down together in Rita’s apartment. And Rita‘s apartment turns out to not only be messy, but non-traditional, with alcohol actually on the premises. And all of Ravi‘s plans for a traditional Indian marriage fall through. Gita Reddy, Zenobia Shroff, Vinny Chhibber and Mark Duplass also star, while Roshan Sethi directed. And this movie won the Best Narrative Feature at the 2021 Coronado Island Film Festival, and Best First Feature award at the 2022 Film Independent Spirit Awards. And it gets an 86% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Nick Allen of RogerEbert.com writing “its a clever premise, and this movie spins some sweet comedy out of it.” I’m watching. Hulu has also added May It Please the Court, a 2022 Korean legal drama series. Jung Ryeo-won stars, here, as Noh Chak-hee, a top attorney who is forced to work as a public defender after a scandal involving one of her cases. But when she is forced to defend someone purported to have killed her loved one. To make matters worse, she has to share an office with Jwa Shi Baek, played by Lee Kyu Hyung, a top rated lawyer who chooses to be a public defender. Jung Jin-young, Kim Hye-eun, Lee Sang-hee, Kim Sang-ho and Park So-jin also star, and there are 2 episodes available now, with 10 more to come. And this series gets an amazing 8.5/10 on My Drama List, with Pierce Conran of the South China Morning Post saying “familiar though it is, the set-up is executed cleanly and Jung’s fiery command of the screen quickly draws us into the show.” And I love a mystery. I’m definitely tuning in. And finally, Hulu has added Dinner in America, a 2020 satirical comedy. Emily Skeggs plays Patty, here, an unhappy college dropout , bored in 1990‘s suburbia, with her only solace being her passion for the punk rock band Psy Ops and it’s lead singer, a mystery man named “John Q. Public.” So when Patty finds that Simon, a so called ‘pyro,’ in trouble and on the run from police, is her hero punk rocker, she is delighted. And the pair cause mayhem across suburbia, and Patty finally finds her life worthwhile. Pat Healy and Mary Lynn Rajskub play her disapproving parents, and Griffin Gluck, Hannah Marks, Nick Chinlund and Lea Thompson(!) also star, and Adam Rehmeier directed. And this movie gets a 91% on Rotten Tomatoes, but keep in mind there is content some will find offensive, with homophobic and racist language. Still, Sheila O’Malley of RogerEbert.com called it a “movie with anti-establishment anti-social quicksilver coursing through its veins, but at its heart it is a sweet love story, one of the sweetest in recent memory.” You decide.
The biggest title added to Netflix this week is Lou, the 2022 thriller starring Allison Janney(!). Janney stars as Lou, a mysterious loner in the woods, living only with her dog in the 80‘s Pacific Northwest, and contemplating suicide, when her neighbor, Hannah (Jurnee Smollett) knocks at the door. Hannah‘s daughter, Vee (Ridley Asha Bateman), is missing and Hannah thinks her violent ex, Phillip(Logan Marshall Green) has taken her. And Phillip is a former special ops officer with much training, but, of course, he didn’t count on meeting up with Lou. Greyston Hall, Matt Craven, Toby Levins and Marci T. House also star, while Anna Foerster directs. But this is a standard revenge pic, and so, even with a female lead, not too attractive to me. Still, it gets a 65% on Rotten Tomatoes, and Noel Murray of the Los Angeles Times wrote “the mystery of who Lou is and why she takes an interest in Hannah isn’t as surprising as the movie makes it out to be; but Janney is so commanding as an unlikely action hero that the picture still works.” You decide. I’d rather watch Then Barbara Met Alan, a 2022 British biopic/drama. This tells the true story of comedian Barbara Lisicki(Ruth Madeley) and musician Alan Holdsworth(Arthur Hughes), two cabaret performers in 90′s London, who meet and build a relationship, but find no end of frustration at society’s reaction to Barbara’s use of a wheelchair. And so they make use of Alan‘s experience with activism and finally, form the DAN, the Direct Action Network, to fight for equality of people with “disabilities.” But the work and pressure puts a strain on their relationship. Liz Carr, Laura Aikman, Matt Fraser, Dan Mersh and Vivian Soane also star, and Bruce Goodison and Amit Sharma co-direct. And this film gets an incredible 7.6/10 on IMDb. Sean O’Grady of the Independent (UK) wrote “wittily written by Jack Thorne and Genevieve Barr, with plenty of raucous action, Then Barbara Met Alan is as much a moving love story and wryly amusing sitcom as it is an emotionally charged chronicle of a small revolution.” It’s on my list. But Netflix also offers Heartbreak High, a 2022 Australian teen comedy series. In a make of an 1994 (Australian) comedy series, this has a certain student at Hartley High creating a colorful mural mapping out the different, er, relationships going on at the school. Which leads the school, already badly ranked and in need of funding, to require all the students featured in the map to attend a ‘sexual literacy’ training course, leading to much embarrassment and chagrined parents. Which leaves the student artist shunned and disowned by her friends, though I’m not naming names- no spoilers here. Ayesha A. Madon stars as student Amerie, and Chloé Hayden stars as Quinni, and Jonathan Heuston, Asher Yasbincek, James Majoos, Gemma Chua-Tran and Rachel House(!) also star, and there are 8 episodes available now. And this series gets an astounding 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, and a 7.6/10 on IMDb. Wenlei Ma of News.com.au said “sparkling with personality and verve, Heartbreak High is a fresh, distinctly Australian and distinctly 2022 series that doesn’t pay lip service to nostalgia for nostalgia’s sake.” And I’m tuning in. Also new on Netflix is Athena, a 2022 French political thriller. This tells the story of 13-year-old Idir, a victim of a police killing in the Athena housing project near Paris, with the video going viral on social media. Residents are irate, but one of Idir’s older brothers Abdel, played by Dali Benssalah, a French soldier just returned home, wants to keep a lid on the violence, while his other brother Karim, played by Sami Slimane, wants revolution, and is willing to pay for it with his life. And Idir’s third brother Mokhtar, played by Ouassini Embarek, just wants to make some money, running a drug operation in the complex. Anthony Bajon, Alexis Manenti, Gesella Ohaka and Darina Al Joundi also star, and Romain Gavras directed. And this was nominated for the Golden Lion at the 2022 Venice Film Festival, and went on to win the UNICEF Award and the Arca CinemaGiovani Award at that same Venice Film Festival this year. And it gets an 81% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Tomris Laffly of RogerEbert.com calling it a “fast-moving political thriller and urban drama that feels genuinely cinematic, with technical finesse to spare.” I’m tuning in. And, finally, Netflix has added Two Degrees of Murder, a 2016 South Africa drama. Sandra Prinsloo stars as Aleksa Cloete, a well-known Cape Town psychologist, famous and happily married, but whose world is turned upside when her beloved husband, Ben, played by Marius Weyers, passes out in the shower, foreshadowing a serious and debilitating illness. But during this stressful time, her patient Tanja Basson (Hilda Cronjé), a willing participant in a documentary featuring Cloete, comes and confesses to a murder. And the doctor comes to question her own morality, when her reaction to that crime, and her own actions, comes under fire. Roelof Storm, Shaleen Surtie-Richards, John Koopman, Lynelle Kenned and Martelize Brink also star, and Gerrit Schoonhoven directed. And this movie gets a stunning 7.6/10 on IMDb, Jean-Marie Korff of news24.com writing “a stellar cast and surprising twists and turns make this Afrikaans drama a must-see.” But it is in Afrikaans, so remember to turn on the subtitles, as the dubbing on Netflix stinks.
Amazon has no noteworthy titles added this week, but there are some excellent, though more obscure, newer shows to be found, like Kurara: The Dazzling Life of Hokusai’s Daughter, a 2017 Japanese two-part historical drama. This tells the story of the less known daughter of famous ukiyo-e artist Katsushika Hokusai, O-Ei, played by Aoi Miyazaki. O-Ei served as her father’s apprentice from an early age, falling in love with painting and the art in light and shadow. As her father, player here by Kyōzō Nagatsuka, grew older, she assisted him in his painting more and more, until she developed her own style, and became a great artist in her own right. Ryûhei Matsuda played her husband, Ikeda, and Hiroki Miyake, Kimiko Yo, Masahiko Nishimura, Takshi Okabe and Ayaka Nakata also star, while Taku Katô directs. And this movie won Best Single Drama or Telemovie at the Asian Television Awards. And it gets an astounding 7.2/10 on IMDb. Jbspins.com says its “highly recommended for anyone interested in Japanese culture and history.” And director Katô beautifully replicates some of Hokusai‘s scenes and colors. I’m definitely watching. Amazon also has Zombie for Sale, a 2019 S. Korean horror/comedy. This takes place in the aftermath of a pharmaceutical drug trial gone horribly wrong, where the participants somehow end up zombified, and one of those participants stumbles into the poor village of Poongsan. When Man-duk (Park In-hwan), patriarch of the Park family, finds the zombie, Jjong-bi (Jung Ga-ram), hiding in the shed, he is bitten, but, instead of turning into a monster, Man-duk magically grows more youthful and vital, giving the impoverished Park family an idea. Soon every elder in the village is paying good money to be bitten and revitalized, and the Park family is making a killing. But, unfortunately, it turns out that some of the effects of the zombie’s bite are merely delayed, with the real horror has yet to begin. Jung Jae-young, Lee Soo-kyung, Kim Nam-gil, Uhm Ji-won and Jong-ryol Choi also star, and Lee Min-jae directed. And this movie won the Avant Robot Award and Film You Will Find Yourself Remembering The Most at the 2020 Film Club’s The Lost Weekend. And it gets an 89% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Dennis Harvey of Variety saying it “hits an agreeable median between being slick, shaggy, grotesque and warmhearted.” I’m watching. And, finally, Amazon has Mother, the 2010 crime thriller movie from Korean master director Bong Joon Ho. This has a widow, played by Kim Hye-ja, simply called mother, living in her cramped apothecary with her 27-year-old son, Do-joon (Won Bin), who seems to have certain difficulties thinking, and understanding the complexities of the world. So his mother is extremely protective, ever watchful, but she cannot protect him from being hit by a car. And, as things escalate from that one event, Do-joon is accused of the murder of a schoolgirl. And as the days go by and the police make mistakes, his mother becomes more and more frantic to prove his innocence, until one wonders if there are any limits to what she will do for her son. Goo Jin, Je-mun Yun, Mi-seon Jeon, Kim Byoung-sun and Sae-byeok Song also star, and Bong Joon Ho wrote the screenplay, along with Eun-kyo Park. And this film was nominated for multiple awards in 2009, including Un Certain Regard Award at the Cannes Film Festival, and it went on to win Best International Actress for Kim at the Golden Rooster Awards, Best Foreign-Language Film at the San Francisco Film Critics Circle and Best International Film at the Munich Film Festival. And it gets an impressive 96% on Rotten Tomatoes, and a 7.8/10 on IMDb. Tom Huddleston of Time Out said “bold, unpredictable and quietly devastating, Mother is Bong’s first masterpiece.” I’m tuning in.
So sit back and binge this weekend, on classics, old and new, on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Enjoy!