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 some scary good adds this week, like Matriarch, it’s in-house 2022 horror flick. Jemima Rooper plays Laura Burch, here, an anxiety ridden marketing exec who returns home to her British rural village after nearly dying from a drug overdose in London. She comes at the invitation of her estranged mother Celia (Kate Dickie) to a town that seems not to have changed in years of her absence, nor the people in it. Indeed, her mother seems not to have aged at all, and sadly, her twisted nature seems unchanged too. But, as Laura fights off withdrawal and hallucinations, she thinks that the townspeople may be under her mother’s sinister powers. Sarah Paul, Simon Meacock, Nick Haverson, Christina Cole and Franc Ashman also star, while Ben Steiner directs. And this movie gets a respectable 80% on Rotten Tomatoes, and Noel Murray of the Los Angeles Times says “Steiner’s film shrewdly shifts back and forth between the real physical threat of dark supernatural forces and the more elusive harm done by a lifetime of bad parenting.” But it’s way too scary for me. Luckily, Hulu also has Wyrm, a 2019 comedy. Theo Taplitz plays the title character, Wyrm, an awkward teen living in an alternate reality America of the 1990‘s, where the dread of being alone and unloved leads to sexuality requirements for teens, like level 1, being kissed. Unfortunately, Wyrm is the last kid in his class not to pass that provision. leaving him with an electronic collar and the threat of not graduating if he doesn’t perform. Azure Brandi plays his twin sister, Myrcella, and Lulu Wilson, Cece Abbey, Sosie Bacon, Natasha Rothwell and Tommy Dewey also star, and Christopher Winterbauer directed, along with writing the script. And this films won Best Narrative Feature at the 2020 Florida Film Fest, along with Next Wave Special Jury Award at the 2019 Austin Fantastic Fest. And it gets an 88% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Peter Canavese of Celluloid Dreams called a “deliberately cringe-y comedy that’s also deeply empathetic, heartfelt and sweet–like Eighth Grade directed by Wes Anderson–and an indie gem worth seeking out.” I’m watching. But Hulu also offers Bitterbrush, a 2021 documentary. Here, director Emelie Mahdavian chronicles the friendship of two female range riders, Hollyn Patterson and Colie Moline, on a vast and isolated ranch in Idaho, spending their days doing back breaking work, while totally off the grid, and enjoying themselves. But both recognize that this nomadic idyll may not last, due to marriage for Hollyn, and the harsh economic realities of working a ranch hold for anyone, including Colie. But the panoramic vistas and the intimate friendship of the pair make the film, with everyday moments having an extraordinary significance. This film was an official selection at the 2021 Telluride Film Festival, and gets an amazing 7.3/10 on IMDb. Peter Sobczynski of RogerEbert.com said “I found myself mesmerized by this spare, affecting, and powerfully humane work that may seem quiet and reserved, but which ends up packing a surprisingly powerful emotional punch by the end.” I’m tuning in. And, finally, Hulu has added The Boy Downstairs, a 2017 comedy. Zosia Mamet stars, here, as Diana, moving back to Brooklyn after a few years abroad, and finds the perfect apartment, only to find her ex, Ben, played by Matthew Shear, has the one directly below hers. Theirs was an awkward breakup(Diana’s idea), making their reunion even more so, and when Diana is drawn to spy and eavesdrop on Ben, it gets even more uncomfortable, especially for Ben‘s current girlfriend, Meg(Sarah Ramos). Diana Irvine stars as Diana‘s best friend Amy, and Arliss Howard, Deborah Offner, David Wohl and Deirdre O’Connell also star, while Sophie Brooks make her debut as writer/director of this project. And this won Best Ensemble Cast at the Napa Valley Film Festival and gets a 64% on Rotten Tomatoes. Olly Richards of Empire Mag wrote “Zosia Mamet is the major selling point here. In a film that’s lovely but unlikely to prove memorable, she shows she can carry a film with immense charm.” I agree. I’m watching.
Netflix has some good adds, too, this week, like From Scratch, a 2022 romantic limited series. Based on Tembi Locke’s memoir of the same name, this tells of the arc of a love affair between Texan artist Amy, played by Zoe Saldana, and the Italian chef she meets while on vacation, Lino (Eugenio Mastrandrea). It begins with initial swooning, growing into a serious relationship that brings Lino to L.A. to live with Amy, despite his having never left Italy. As the two plan to marry, they try to bring their families into agreement with it, and finally, illness threatens to shatter all that they’ve built. Danielle Deadwyler, Judith Scott, Kellita Smith, Lucia Sardo, i, Roberta Rigano and Keith David(!) also star, and there are 8 emotional episodes available for bingeing now. And this series gets an incredible 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Brad Newsome of the Sydney Morning Herald writing “Zoe Saldana stars in this engrossing limited series… One for anyone who has loved, lost and learnt to live again.” But bring your Kleenex. If you want something lighter, Netflix also offers The Green Glove Gang, a 2022 Polish crime caper series. This tells the tale of three professional thieves, who always wear green gloves as their trademark during their heists, whose secrecy is compromised when a witness notices a tattoo on one members wrist. With the heat rising, the three members, Zuza(Magdalena Kuta), Kinga(Malgorzata Potocka) and Alicja(Anna Romantowska), all older women, take advantage of their age, and hide out in an old people’s home. As the police draw closer, robberies start occurring at the nursing home, and the trio begins to go mad with boredom. Beata Bandurska, Mirosław Zbrojewicz, Karolina Rzepa, Andrzej Grabowski and Józef Duriasz also star, and there are 8 episodes available for bingeing now. And this series gets a 6.8/10 on IMDb, with Manjeet Singh of LeisureByte calling it “a must-watch for any fan of the thriller-heist genre. Moreover, the final payoff absolutely stands with the engaging build-up and will leave you wanting more.” And it’s funny, too. I’m definitely tuning in. But Netflix has also added The Stranger, a 2022 Australian thriller. Based on Kate Kyriacou’s book The Sting: The Undercover Operation That Caught Daniel Morcombe’s Killer, this focuses on the efforts of Australian police to solve the cold case of the missing 13-year-old Daniel Morcombe. In that effort, police went undercover, creating a web of posing criminals to catch their prey. So ex-con and drifter Henry, played by Sean Harris, is approached in an outback town, first by Paul (Steve Mouzakis) on a bus, who offers him some (illegal) work, then introduces him to Mark (Joel Edgerton), a cop posing as a Mr. Big, who just needs to know all of Henry’s criminal history before he promotes him. But the trauma of the past crimes and Mark’s conscience over what he himself is doing weigh heavily on his mind. Ewen Leslie, Jada Alberts, Fletcher Humphrys, Alan Dukes and Simon Elrahi also star, and Thomas Wright(Sweet Country) directs. And this film was nominated for the Un Certain Regard Award at Cannes this year, where it premiered, and gets an impressive 93% on Rotten Tomatoes. Paul Byrnes of the Sydney Morning Herald said “in tone, the film is brilliantly hidden. It takes a long while to work out what’s happening. The atmosphere is gloomy, distrustful, brutal in language, with a jangly soundscape and music.” But it’s grim and dark, so be forewarned. Luckily, Netflix also has Under the Queen’s Umbrella, a 2022 South Korean historical drama series. This tells the fictionalized tale of the spirited 18th century Queen Im Hwa-ryeong, played by Kim Hye-soo, who seeks to form her sons into the material that will qualify them to be the next King of Joseon. The Crown Prince, played by Bae In-hyuk, is ill, sometimes seriously so, causing gossip and widespread concern, and her other sons lack the determination to take his place. Meanwhile, the Queen Dowager(Kim Hae-sook) is coming, with plans to get rid of Hwa-ryeong, and install a different Crown Prince instead. Choi Won-young stars as King Yi Ho, and Moon Sang-min, Bae In-hyuk, Yoo Seon-ho and Kang Chan-hee also star, and there are 3 episodes available now, with 2 more dropping each weekend, for a total 16 episodes. And this series gets an stupendous 9.1/10 on IMDb. Nathan Sartain of Ready Steady Cut calls it “a fascinatingly high-stakes period drama elevated by strong writing and a skillful cast of stars.” I’m definitely tuning in. And, finally Netflix has added Descendant, the 2022 award-winning documentary. Here, director Margaret Brown intertwines the tale of the last slave ship, the Clotilda, burned off the coast of Alabama after illegally bringing in slaves after slave transport was abolished in the U.S., and the tale of the descendants of those very slaves, many living in Africatown, Alabama. And she tells of the search for the ship and the salvaging afterward, she interviews the present residents of Africatown, and tells of the towns vibrant past, now surrounded by industrial plants that spew pollutants and toxins that now cause cancer and decimates residents health and the housing prices in the area. And this film was the winner of the Creative Vision award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, was nominated for Festival Favorites at the 2022 SXSW Film Festival, and won the Best Documentary Feature at the 2022 Sidewalk Film Festival. And it gets a stunning 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Jake Coyle of the Associated Press called it “one of the best films of the year… Brown roves across the land, crowding her film with a wide spectrum of voices for a living oral history that reckons with the long shadow of slavery.” We should all watch. I certainly will.
Amazon has a huge add this week with it’s 2022 sci-fi series The Peripheral. Based on William Gibson’s 2014 novel of the same name, this features Flynne Fisher, played by Chloë Grace Moretz(!), a young woman stuck in a dead end life, paying for meds for her dying mother in 2032 Appalachia, by playing simulation video games. When her brother, Burton (Jack Reynor), offers her a chance to test a new virtual reality game and take over his avatar, she accepts, and finds herself in 2099 London, in a world depopulated by a series of catastrophes. And soon she finds her life imperiled in that future world, where killer robots and other weapons of death loom large. Gary Carr, Charlotte Riley, T’Nia Miller, Austin Rising and Louis Herthum also star, and there are 2 episodes available now, with 6 more to come in the next few months. This series was developed by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy (the team behind Westworld), but it gets only a 64% on Rotten Tomatoes. Lorraine Ali of the Los Angeles Times says “complex thought is mistaken for compelling storytelling in the technological dystopia of The Peripheral, Prime Video’s sci-fi drama about, well … I’m still trying to figure it out.” I’m not watching. Still, it gets an 8.4/10 on IMDb, and Inverse calls it “instantly captivating, utterly relatable, and unlike any other sci-fi on TV right now, The Peripheral is a cyberpunk show that basically reinvents the genre.” You decide. But Amazon has also added Torn Hearts, a 2022 horror flick from Blumhouse Television and EPIX. This has two rising stars in country music, Leigh(Alexxis Lemire) and Jordan(Abby Quinn), i.e. the duo Torn Hearts, decide to take a pilgrimage to the famed mansion of their idol, the reclusive country legend Harper Dutch, played by Katey Sagal(!).The victims of sexism in their field, the two young women hope to gain strength and inspiration in Dutch, and maybe even record a song with her, but upon arrival at the overgrown house, they find an alcohol soaked bully, and more danger in their hero than anything outside that tumbledown house. Shiloh Fernandez, Joshua Leonard, Clarke Wolfe, Trina Lafargue, Sailor Larocque and Alon McKlveen also star, while Brea Grant directs. And this soapy thriller gets a surprising 89% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Katie Rife of RogerEbert.com calling it “an unapologetically high-femme distraction that’s better than your average Lifetime thriller.” But too much for me. And, finally, Amazon has added Argentina, 1985, an award-winning Argentine drama. This tells the story of the heroic group of prosecutors, led by Julio Strassera(Ricardo Darín), that took on human rights violators in the famed Trial of the Juntas. This tried the military junta that, after a right-wing coup overtook Isabel Peron‘s rule in 1976, took over, leading to a reign of terror that led to arrest of protesters and resisters, torture, and most famously, the ‘disappearance’ of thousands of Argentinians who were kidnapped off the street, imprisoned and tortured, never to be seen again. Darín plays Strassera who stonily goes through with his work, that many jurists in Argentina would not touch, along with his team including Luis Moreno Ocampo(Juan Pedro Lanzani) and other young people that had the courage their elders lacked. And with threats on the lawyers lives, and their families lives, made, bombing their cars and breaking into their homes on the day of the trial, that was no small feat. Alejandra Flechner, Laura Paredes, Carlos Portaluppi, Norman Briski and Héctor Díaz also star, and Santiago Mitre directs. And this amazing movie won Best Film at the 2022 San Sebastián International Film Festival and was nominated for 3 awards at last month’s Venice Film Festival, and went on to win the SIGNIS Award – Honorable Mention and FIPRESCI Prize there. And it gets an outstanding 97% on Rotten Tomatoes, and an 8.1/10 on IMDb. Michael Ordoña of the L.A. Times said “apart from the moving testimonies of surviving victims, the movie’s power comes from the desperate needs for justice and to prevent this authoritarian, terrorist scourge from ever taking hold again.” And I agree. I’m watching. Twice.
So sit back and binge this weekend, on classics, old and new, on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Enjoy!