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 couple of interesting adds this week, like I, Chiara, a 2021 Italian drama. This tells the tale of 15 year-old Chiara, played by Swamy Rotolo, whose life dramatically changes after her father, Claudio (Claudio Rotolo), leaves home unexpectedly one night after her sister’s birthday party, when the family car is bombed. Chiara is determined to investigated, even after she is put off by her family and strangers, alike. And so she roams their hometown of Calabria, and pushes her cousin Antonio (Antonio Rotolo Uno), to tell her more. Carmela Fumo, Grecia Rotolo, Giorgia Rotolo, Rosa Caccamo and Silvana Palumbo also star, and Jonas Carpignano(Mediterranea,A Ciambra ) directed. And this film was nominated for numerous awards in 2021, and went on to win the Golden Eye award at the Zurich Film Festival and the Label Europa Cinemas at the Cannes Film Festival. And gets an impressive 91% on Rotten Tomatoes. Wendy Ide of the Observer (UK) wrote “”Jonas Carpignano’s impressive, slow-burning drama captures a milieu that is bound by rules that have little to do with the laws of the land. It’s on my list. Hulu also offers Reasonable Doubt, a mystery series. Emayatzy Corinealdi stars as Jax Stewart, star L.A. defense attorney who’s willing to break a few rules to clear her clients. But when she decides to defend entrepreneur Brayden Miller(Sean Patrick Thomas), first of sexual assault of a female employee, and then, of murder, when that same employee turns up dead, Jax may have bitten off more than she can chew. Not to mention the fact that she is going though a difficult separation from her husband, Lewis (McKinley Freeman). Angele Grovey, Brooke Lyons, Michael Ealy, Christopher Cassarino, Tim Jo and Pauletta Washington also star, and there are 4 episodes now available. And this series gets an incredible 100% on Rotten Tomatoes and Nina Metz of the Chicago Tribune says “here’s a lot to like about Reasonable Doubt, which is sharp and fun and moves at a good clip. And it’s smart about keeping things just this side of ridiculous.” I’m definitely tuning in. But Hulu also has Remember Me: The Mahalia Jackson Story, the 2022 biopic. Ledisi plays the incomparable gospel singer Mahalia Jackson, whose sublime voice lit up the U.S. landscape in the 50′s but then ,as Mahalia was invited by the great Dr. Martin Luther King, played here by Columbus Short, she was swept up into activism for the Civil Rights movement, giving her time and effort to the cause. But Jackson‘s past in the racist South, and her relationship with her Aunt Duke, played by Janet Hubert, brought added hardship to her life. Wendy Raquel Robinson, Vanessa A. Williams, Corbin Bleu and Keith Robinson also star, and Denise Dowse directs. There are no reviews or ratings as yet, for this movie, but the acting is excellent, as is the production, and Ledisi‘s voice is glorious. I’m definitely tuning in. And, finally, Hulu has Anaïs in Love, the 2022 French romance. Anaïs Demoustier plays the hyperactive Anaïs, here, impulsive and rather reckless, who begins an affair with publisher Daniel (Denis Podalydès), with no long term plans, until she discovers his wife, author Emilie (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi). Anaïs becomes besotted with Emilie and follows her everywhere, dropping everything else in her life, like her dissertation and her ailing mother. Jean-Charles Clichet, Xavier Guelfi, Bruno Todeschini, Christophe Montenez and Anne Canovas also star, while Charline Bourgeois-Tacquet directs. And this movie was nominated for both the Queer Palm and the Golden Camera at Cannes last year, and went on to win the Jury Award for Best First Feature Narrative at the 2021 Melbourne Queer Film Festival. And it gets a 90% on Rotten Tomatoes, and Wendy Ide of the Guardian(UK) said “Demoustier so supercharges her performance with charisma, she almost seems to sparkle.” I’m watching.
Surely the most monumental add on Netflix this week is Blonde, the fictionalized biopic of Marilyn Monroe. Based on the 2000 novel by Joyce Carol Oates of the same name, this of the life of Norma Jeane Mortenson, with Lily Fisher playing the young Norma, who endured a rough childhood with a single mother, Gladys, played by Julianne Nicholson(!) with mental difficulties, and a father she never knew. Ana de Armas plays the grown Norma, who becomes a pin-up girl and then, is finally discovered, and given a role in Don’t Bother to Knock., but having to endure assault and harassment along the way. Then there’s are the stardom, three husbands, the romances, and the drug and alcohol abuse. Adrien Brody(!), Bobby Cannavale(!), Caspar Phillipson, Xavier Samuel, Evan Williams and Toby Huss also star, and Andrew Dominik directs. But this movie, too, victimizes Marilyn Monroe, I think, with a less nuanced and respectful portrayal, and depicting her merely as a victim. And Blonde gets only a 43% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Adam Kempenaar of Filmspotting says “is the movie a success because Dominik puts us inside Marilyn’s head and makes us experience life through her sad eyes in a way that is off-putting and difficult? Or is this yet another person exploiting her and her sadness?” And I’m not watching. Luckily, Netflix has also added Call Me by Your Name, the 2017 award-winning romantic drama. This has 17 year-old Elio Perlman, played by Timothy Chalemet(!), staying in Lombardy, Italy, in 1983, for the summer for his father’s archaeological research. When Oliver(Armie Hammer) comes to stay, as his father’s research assistant, Elio finds little in common with him, but as they spend time together, a bond grows. But both are uneasy with the romance at some point, and as Oliver is only there for the summer, even a rhapsodic relationship cannot last. Michael Stuhlbarg, Amira Casar, Esther Garrel, Victoire Du Bois and Vanda Capriolo also star, while Luca Guadagnino(I Am Love) directed. And this movie won Best Adapted Screenplay at the Academy Awards and at the 71st British Academy Film Award, and Movie of the Year at the 2018 AFI Awards, and Timothy Chalemet won Best Actor at the 2017 Chicago Film Critics Association Awards, the Florida Film Critics Circle Awards and the Film Independent Spirit Awards. And it gets an94% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 7.8/10(!) on IMDb. Christy Lemire of RogerEbert.com wrote “a perfectly calibrated scene in a film full of them, and it’s one of a million reasons why Call Me By Your Name is far and away the best movie of the year.” And I’m watching. But Netflix also has The Empress, a 2022 German historical drama series. This tells the story of Duchess Elisabeth Amalie Eugenie, played by Devrim Lingnau, princess of Bavaria, brought up to follow rules and to adhere to the strict and forbidding norms for her gender. Instead, she marries Emperor Franz Joseph (played by Philip Froissant), instead of her sister, Helene (Elisa Schlott), and defies the societal requirements for a queen in her time. She meets with the people, goes shoeless and hunting with the men. All of which causes great approbation with the royal family, including her imposing mother-in-law, Sophia (Melika Foroutan). Johannes Nussbaum, Jördis Triebel, Svenja Jung and Hanna Hilsdorf also star, and there are 6 absorbing episodes available for streaming now. And this series gets an outstanding 7.8/10 on IMDb. M.N. Miller of Ready Steady Cut says “not only does the series highlight modern themes, but The Empress does what only the very best movies and television series can do — transport you to another time and place.” I’m definitely tuning in. Netflix also offers Into the Deep, The Submarine Murder Case, a 2020 Danish documentary. This tells the unbelievably true story of the disappearance of journalist Kim Wall, after she boarded the mini-submarine of Danish celebrity inventor Peter Madsen, never to be seen alive again. Director Emma Swanson had already been investigating Madsen’s supposed building of a rocket ship, all with unpaid volunteers, and manages here to weave the two storylines into one chilling tale of a psychopath. Madsen apparently threatened and abused his volunteers, who were blinded by admiration, only to finally give authorities information that might help implicate their hero. And this freakishly true tale gets a stunning 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Amy Nicholson of Variety writing “restrained, humanist and chilling, Into the Deep is both a portrait of evil and a story of the workers left ashore floundering to understand how they devoted their lives to a fiend.” And it’s not ghoulish or exploitative, so it’s on my list. And, finally, Netflix has added A Star Shoots Across the Sky, a 2022 Tamil drama. Also called Natchathiram Nagargiradhu in Tamil, this focuses on a theatrical group that decides to put on a play about love, sex and relationships in the modern world, and then segues cast members discussing what love is, and then into subjects still somewhat taboo, like same sex love, gender and caste bias. And of course, much dancing and singing ensues, but not undercutting the serious topics involved. Kalidas Jayaram, Dushara Vijayan, Kalaiyarasan, Shabeer Kallarakkal, Sindhuja Viji and Charles Vinoth star, and Pa Ranjith(Madras) directs. And this movie gets an astounding 7.8/10 on IMDb, and Anna of Entertaining Movies calls it “Ranjith’s finest and purest film.” I’m tuning in.
Amazon‘s biggest title added this week, just in time for October and Halloween, is My Best Friend’s Exorcism, a 2022 horror/comedy. This takes place in 1988, where Abby (Elsie Fisher) and Gretchen (Amiah Miller) are best friends, but when when Gretchen convinces a bunch of friends to explore a haunted house with an evil past, Gretchen ends up possessed. Luckily, Abby finds help in Christian Lemon, played by Glow‘s Christopher Lowell, who is an evangelical expert in possession and exorcism, and the pair find a hellish way to save her best friend. Cathy Ang, Rachel Ogechi Kanu, Cynthia Evans, Rachel Leah Cohen and Nathan Anderson also star, and Damon Thomas( Killing Eve, and Dracula episodes) directs. And it gets a mere 5.5/10 on IMDb, and a 48% on Rotten Tomatoes. But Noel Murray of the L.A. Times says “the wildly inconsistent tones in the horror-comedy My Best Friend’s Exorcism keep threatening to derail the movie, though the cast and the story ultimately save the picture.” But, beware, because, although there are heavily comedic overtones throughout, there are some really scary and horrific scenes here. So I won’t be watching. Amazon has also added Season 1 of St. Maik, a 2018 German dramedy series. Daniel Donskoy stars, here, as Maik Schäfer, con artist who ends up, to escape police, in the Catholic parish of Läuterberg, pretending to be a priest. But he and his brother, Kevin(Vincent Krueger) are 50,000 Euros in debt to a dangerous gangster in Berlin, so Maik is determined to steal a sacred piece from the church to save him, but when he meets the choir director (and police officer) Eva Hellwarth(Bettina Burchard), his direction may change. Susi Banzhaf, Marie Burchard, Michael Raphael Klein, Franziska Arndt and Nina Vorbrodt also star, and there are 10 episodes available for streaming before November 1, when they go flying back to the premium PBS Masterpiece channel. And this series gets a 6.9/10 on IMDb. And, finally, Amazon has horror added, with We Have Always Lived in the Castle, a 2018 movie based on Shirley Jackson’s classic novel. Taissa Farmiga plays Merricat Blackwood, ostracized from their community, along with her sister Constance, played by Alexandra Daddario, after the death(by poisoning) of their father and mother. Constance was blamed by the villagers, and so the two sisters live in isolation in the decrepit manor, with their uncle, Julian(Crispin Glover) paralyzed in the same poisoning. But when cousin Charles(Sebastian Stan) arrives, interested in Constance(and the millions the girls father had hidden in the manor), he begins to bully Merricat and others, his behavior (and his resemblance to her father) may bring his life to a similar end. Paula Malcomson, Peter Coonan, Ian Toner, Joanne Crawford, Anna Nugent and Peter O’Meara also star. And it gets an 88% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Roxana Hadadi of Pajiba writing “the film adaptation of We Have Always Lived in the Castle understands Shirley Jackson’s novel as a tale of male abuse and female rage.” I’m tuning in, if it’s not too scary.
So sit back and binge this weekend, on classics, old and new, on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Enjoy!