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.
If you slog past the countless Christmas movies(!) Hulu has added this week, you can actually find some interesting adds, like Boris, a 2022 Italian TV series. This actually is the return to the set of the Italian satirical comedy series Boris, which ran from 2007-2010, with crew of TV show Life of Jesus returning to production after Covid, and Alessandro(Alessandro Tiberi), director‘s intern, disappointed with the sad realities of television production. The director, René Ferretti, played by Francesco Pannofino, putting out schlock at a fast pace, while pretending to create art, and lead actors Stanis la Rochelle and Corinna Negri, insincere and immature, not to mention a coke addicted chief of photography. All the while, the crew has to fight to keep the show from shutting down by network execs. Caterina Guzzanti, Pietro Sermonti, Carolina Crescentini, Roberta Fiorentini and Ilaria Stivali also star, and everyone plays to type, here, so Boris director Tiberi plays director Alessandro, and so forth. And this series gets an incredible 8.7/10 on IMDb, and there are 8 episodes available to enjoy now. I haven’t found the original series available yet for streaming here in the states, but Open Tapes says, “the new episodes do not disappoint, indeed, they surprise for the quality of writing, rhythm and inventiveness. The cast is phenomenal, close-knit exactly as we remembered it. Those who loved the series will be moved to find the same ferocity, the wickedness, the irresistible comedy.” I’m watching. Hulu has also added all 6 seasons of The Americans, the award-winning FX thriller series. Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys play Elizabeth and Phillip Jennings, two KGB spies brought together in 1980’s Washington D.C., in an arranged marriage, to work as operatives there. Living in Fall’s Church, Virginia with their two children, Paige (Holly Taylor) and Henry (Keidrich Sellati). committing crimes and fearing discovery, all the while becoming increasingly aware that their own world is changing, with Glasnost and a warming relationship between the U.S and the U.S.S. R.. Noah Emmerich, Costa Ronin, Brandon J. Dirden, Margo Martindale, Alison Wright and Richard Thomas(!) also star, and there are 6 seasons now available for gorging on Hulu, with 75 episodes in all. And this series won multiple awards over the years, with 4 Emmys including Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for Rhys in 2018, and Best Actor for Martindale in 2015 & 16. And it gets an amazing 96% on Rotten Tomatoes and an 8.4/10 on IMDb. Willa Paskin of Slate said it “like its protagonists, has been in disguise, a searching psychological drama dressed up as a kicky action play.” I’m tuning in. But Hulu also offers the 2022 documentary Dreaming Walls: Inside the Chelsea Hotel. Produced by Martin Scorcese, this doc tells of the famed Chelsea Hotel, and its famed inhabitants of the 60′s and 70‘s. like Bob Dylan, Patti Smith, Janis Joplin, Dylan Thomas and Allen Ginsberg. But it also tells of the building’s current inhabitants, mostly aging artists like performance artist Rose Cory, former choreographer Merle, and wire sculptor Skye, who still inhabit the building, despite the efforts to remodel it into an ultra-expensive and luxury hotel. Most of these people are involved in legal actions to stay, against the ownerships efforts to push them out, and they tell their stories here, as ‘ghosts’ of the building, even enduring the entire edifice being wrapped in a huge plastic bubble for renovation. Amélie van Elmbt & Maya Duverdier co-direct this magnificent piece that premiered at the 2022 Berlin International Film Festival. It was nominated for Berlinale Documentary Award there, and Best Documentary at the Luxembourg City Film Festival, the DocsBarcelona and the Ghent International Film Festival, as well. And it gets a 6.7/10 on IMDb, and Dan Fienberg of the Hollywood Reporter calling it “a ghost story haunted by fame and celebrity, but ultimately much more grounded and universal than that.” I’m watching. And, finally, Hulu has added Red Cliff, a 2008 historical epic from director John Woo. This tells of possible end of the Han dynasty, when Han Emperor allows General Cao Cao (Fengyi Zhang) to declare war on all the rebellious southern provinces, who then form an alliance led by the famed Viceroy Zhou Yu, played by Tony Leung. The Viceroy then employs not only complicated army formations, but also unorthodox strategies to overcome being vastly outnumbered the General‘s massive forces. Takeshi Kaneshiro plays the Viceroy’s strategist Zhuge Liang, and Chi-ling Lin plays Zhou’s wife Xiao Ciao, who’s not unwilling to get in the fight, herself. Shido Nakamura, Chang Chen, Wei Zhao, Jun Hu and Jia Song also star, and John Woo helped write this story they harvested from the classic Romance of the Three Kingdoms. And this film broke the Chinese box records at the time, and was nominated for 5 Golden Horse Awards in 2008, and won 5 awards at the Hong Kong Film Awards. And it gets a stunning 7.2/10 on IMDb, and Mark Jenkins of NPR wrote “reportedly the most expensive Chinese-language movie ever, Red Cliff impresses with its sweep, scale and precision. It’s like a real-world chess game, with pawns who never seem fully alive, even when they bleed copiously.” I’m definitely tuning in.
Netflix has a big title added this week with Inside Man, a 2022 British thriller series. Here, we are introduced to two main characters, the first, Vicar Harry, played by David Tennant, a sweet man confronted with a horrible choices after an accident with a local tutor. The second character is Jefferson Grieff, played by Stanley Tucci, a murderer on Death Row, consulted by many for his mystery solving skills, most recently by journalist Beth Davenport (Lydia West), who brings his attention to the missing tutor, and our mysteries interlock and we begin too understand what’s really going on. Dolly Wells, Harry Cadby, Mark Quartley and Dylan Baker also star, and there are 4 episodes available for viewing now. And this series, created by Steven Moffat(Sherlock, Doctor Who!), gets a 6.6/10 on IMDb, with Lucy Mangan of The Guardian calling it “typical Moffat fare. Rollickingly confident, meaty, funny, clever (if not quite as clever, on a line by line basis, as it appears).” adding “Stanley Tucci goes full Hannibal Lecter in rollicking death row drama.” I’m watching. Netflix has also added The Secret of the Greco Family, a 2022 Mexican crime/thriller series. This tells the story of the Greco family, seemingly fine and upstanding, with wealth and position in the community. but hiding under that façade is the fact the Aquiles Greco(Fernando Colunga), head of the family and a retired police officer, runs a kidnapping business, abducting the rich and famous, and holding and even torturing his victims, if he is not paid. While his wife Marta, an heiress, has no knowledge of what he’s doing, her two sons do, and are forced to oblige their father in any way they can. Andrés, played by Manuel Masalva, grudgingly goes along with his father, and tries to treat the captives gently, over time he is ground down by the viciousness of the family business, until his very humanity is threatened. Lisa Owen, Luis Machin, Raphael Ferro, Alexander de Hoyos, Samantha Siqueiros and Antonio de la Vega also star, and there are 9 episodes available for viewing now. And this series, unbelievably based on the true story of the Puccio clan in Argentina, gets an incredible 7.4/10 on IMDb, but doesn’t get the best reviews. The Midgard Times says “the creators tried their best to show what happened in reality at that time, but there are many loopholes in the series. Somehow this Netflix crime series wasn’t able to grasp the attention of the audience.” You decide. I’d rather watch Nora’s Will, a 2010 Mexican drama. Also called Cinco Dias Sin Nora, or Five Days without Nora, this film deals with the death of Nora(Silvia Mariscal) by suicide during Passover, a high holiday that does not allow burial, and so Nora‘s ex-husband José Kurtz, wonderfully played by Fernando Luján, must keep her body at home(on dry ice) for visitations by the entire family. And the atheistic José must stay for the Jewish holiday, and dispose of his wife’s things, while unexpectedly finding evidence of his wife’s infidelity during their marriage. As he investigates and his irritation grows, José also comes to believe that his wife timed her death to prolong his stay, and so bring the family together for Passover. Enrique Arreola, Ari Brickman, Juan Carlos Colombo, Verónica Langer, Max Kerlow and Marina de Tavira also star, while Mariana Chenillo directed. And this film won many awards in 2010, including 8 Ariel Awards, including the prized Golden Ariel for Best Picture. And it gets a 7.2/10 on IMDb, with Bruce DeMara of the Toronto Star writing “in her feature film debut, Mexican writer/director Mariana Chenillo has woven a genuine charmer, tartly funny and irreverent yet warm and poignant, a testament to enduring love.” I’m definitely tuning in. Also new on Netflix is The Metamorphosis of Birds, a 2022 Portuguese documentary. Here, first time director Catarina Vasconcelos takes a look at her family history, and her grandfather, Henrique, a sailor, often absent and sorely missed by his family. Vasconcelos tries to rebuild the gaps in her family history, portraying her grandmother, Beatriz, as a tree, and her descendants as birds. Along the way, the director examines man’s long and danger- fraught relationship with the sea, and finally ends by considering the death of her own mother. Vasconcelos interviews her own family members here, and José Manuel Mendes plays her deceased grandfather, Henrique, and Ana Vasconcelos plays Beatriz. This movie was nominated for numerous awards in 2022, and won 5 at the Portuguese Film Academy Sophia Awards, including Best Director, and won the esteemed FIPRESCI Prize at the 2020 Berlin International Film Festival. And it gets an amazing 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Wendy Ide of The Observer (UK) saying “this dramatised documentary about the family history of Portuguese first-time director Catarina Vasconcelos has a cumulative power that draws the audience into its dreamy, contemplative rhythms.” It’s on my list. And, finally, Netflix has added Night in Paradise, a 2021 Korean thriller. This has gangster Tae-Gu, played by Eom Tae-goo, hiding out on the beautiful Jeju Island, where he stays with a former gangster and his niece Jae-Yeon, played by Jeon Yeo-been. But as the two become friends, it’s clear there’s also trouble on the island itself, and Tae-Gu’s hideout is sure to be found, or leaked, in the end. Cha Seoung-won, Lee Ki-young, Park Ho-san and Ahn Se-bin also star, while Park Hoon-jung(New World) directed. And this movie was nominated for multiple awards in 2021, including 5 at the Buil Film Awards, and gets a 70% on Rotten Tomatoes. Leslie Felperin of The Guardian said “leisurely pacing rather draws it all out a bit, but there’s real inventiveness to the way Park wrong-foots the viewer and handles the operatic displays of gunfire and death – and the leads are rather charming.”.. But beware, for Felperin added “this is not a film to watch on an empty stomach.”
Amazon has one huge add this week with the 2022 romantic drama My Policeman. Harry Styles stars as the policeman, Tom Burgess, who starts dating the arty Marion, played by Emma Corrin, in 50’s Brighton Beach, in Britain. And all seems well and romantic, until they meet Patrick (David Dawson), an acquaintance, who helps educate Tom, and a friendly triangle is born. But when it becomes clear that Patrick and Tom have a secret romance, things erupt, and it’s not clear if any of the relationships will survive the tumult. But when we revisit the trio in the present day, we see the surviving wreckage of the ordeal. Rupert Everett, Linus Roache, Gina McKee, Kadiff Kirwan, Dora Davis and Emily John also star, and Michael Grandage directs. But this movie gets a disappointing 40% on Rotten Tomatoes, partly because of Style‘s inadequacy, here. Ben Turner of The Pink Lens calls it “a tragic but ordinary story from a time where every LGBT+ person had a heartbreaking history, but the whole thing is overshadowed by the perplexing casting of a megastar in a role wholly unsuited to the distraction of his fame.” I agree. I’ll skip it. Luckily Amazon also offers Season 1 of Whitstable Pearl, a 2020 British mystery series from Acorn tv. This has single mom Pearl, played by Kerry Godliman, finally realizing her dream of becoming a P.I., and opening an agency in Whitstable, working out of her family restaurant. And as she learns on the job, sometimes comically, she gets to know the new cop in town, DCI Mike McGuire(Howard Charles), who becomes a bit suspicious, as Pearl comes up with more and more information about crimes in town.Sophia Del Pizzo, Daniel Fathers, Oliver Dench, Rohan Nedd and Cathy Tyson also star, and there are 6 eciting episodes available for bingeing now. And delightful series, lightened by comedian Godliman, gets a 7/10 on IMDb, and an 88% on Rotten Tomatoes.Allison Shoemaker of the AV Club writes it’s “a solid balance of the somber, the suspenseful, and the cozy-mysterious.” And I’m tuning in. And, finally, Amazon also has The Little Murders of Agatha Christie, a 2009 French mystery series from Mhz Choice channel. Titled Les Petits Meurtres d’Agatha Christie in French, this is described as a comédie policière, or comedic crime drama, with each tale focusing on Commissaire Jean Larosière(Antoine Duléry) as he tries to solve crimes in 1930‘s northern France. Each episode has Larosière trying to solve a different mystery, like poison pen letters, or a 15 year old murder, and each is loosely based on an Agatha Christie story. Marius Colucci, Émile Lampion, Léopold Vallabrègues, Blandine Bellavoir and Élodie Frenck also star, and there are 5 episodes available for bingeing now. And this series gets an impressive 7.6/10 on IMDb. And the Strand mag said “there are a lot of terrific actors in these telemovies, and the product values and art design are lovely.” Though this isn’t quite up to the British productions of the 70′s, for a mystery addict like me, they’re very satisfying. I’m watching. But be forewarned, for this and the former series, finish viewing before December 1, when they all disappear back to their premium channel.
So sit back and binge this weekend, on classics, old and new, on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Enjoy!