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 no big titles added this week, but there is one gem buried among the dregs; Paris District 13, a 2021 French romantic drama. This tells the tale of 4 adults, thirty somethings living in Paris, and trying to navigate a world of romance and relationships. There’s Émilie Wong, played by Lucie Zhang, who has such difficulty paying the bills with her dying grandmother, that she accepts a male roommate, Camille Germain, played by Makita Samba, to make ends meets living. But when she and the soft spoken doctoral student begin a no-strings relationship, Émilie soon realizes she wants more, which isn’t really possible. Meanwhile, a fellow student, Nora(Noémie Merlant) tries to maneuver social difficulties with her fellow students, while working at a real estate firm,…and falling in love with Camille. Jehnny Beth, Geneviève Doang, Line Phé, Stephen Manas and Pol White also star, and Jacques Audiard(The Sisters Brothers) directed. And it’s all filmed in beautiful black and white by cinematographer Paul Guilhaume. And this film had its world premiere at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival, where it was nominated for the Palme d’Or, and where it won Best Composer for Erwan Castex a.k.a. Rone. And it went on to win Special Award for Audiard in the Out-Look Competition at the Chicago International Film Festival and Best Actress for Lucie Zhang at the 2021 Seville European Film Festival. And it gets an impressive 7.1/10 on IMDb, with Scout Tafoya of RogerEbert.com saying “Audiard’s not been this sharp and electric in a decade at least, understandably energized by his incredible cast and by the intensity of the sexual dynamics explored within.” I’m watching. Hulu has also added Descendants of the Sun, a 2016 Korean romance series. This tells the love story of Yoo Si-jin (Song Joong-ki), a captain of the South Korean Special Forces, and Dr Kang Mo-yeon (Song Hye-kyo), who meet in a hospital and quickly start dating. But when they recognize their differences, with Dr. Kang revering life, and Si-jin taking lives, they split up. But when Dr. Kang is shipped off to a distant land, where Si-jin is serving, the pair resume their relationship, but how long will it last, with both of their lives in constant danger. Jin Goo, Kim Ji-won,Park Hoon,Tae In-ho and Jeon Soo-jin also star, and there are 16 episodes available for viewing now. And this series won Daesang Grand Prize in television, Most Popular Actor(Song Joong-ki) and Most Popular Actress(Song Hye-Kyo) at the 52nd Baeksang Arts Awards; and was named the Most Popular Show of the year by Korea Broadcasting Advertising Corporation. And it gets an incredible 8.3/10 on IMDb, with Faith White of the Silver Petticoat Review saying it “actually lives up to its fame with a dramatic, gorgeously-shot story and an even bigger heart!” It’s on my list. Hulu also offersThe Grid, a 2022 Korean sci-fi series. This takes place on an Earth beset by catastrophic solar winds in 2005, that had to take shelter under the Grid, a defense shield. But when detective Jung Sae-byeok(Kim Ah-Jung) pursues a killer, she is impeded by a woman, the Ghost(Lee Si-young), who seemingly appears out of nowhere, and disappears just as quickly. But as clues fall into place, Jung begins to wonder if the mysterious woman is not the developer of the Grid herself, except she is supposed to be long dead. And Sae-byeok finds CCTV video of her jumping all over time, throughout different countries and different decades. Mu-Yeol Kim, Victoria Grace, Eugene Ko, Kim Seong-gyoon and Andrew Lee also star, and there are 10 exciting episodes available for bingeing now. And this series gets a respectable 6.4/10 on IMDb. Lim Yian Lu of YahooLife says “the quality graphics and interesting premise suggest that it might be worthwhile to catch the series, at least for the next few episodes.” I’m watching. And, finally, Hulu will add Happening, the French 2021 drama, tomorrow. Scheduled to be released on the anniversary of Roe v Wade, this deals with the dilemma of Anne Duchesne, played by Anamaria Vartolomei, a promising university student in 1963 France, who becomes pregnant, and cannot legally get an abortion. As her mother, Gabrielle(Sandrine Bonnaire) reacts with harsh disapproval, and her boyfriend just want more sex, since she’s already pregnant, Anne’s desperation grows, and as doctor’s block her attempts for treatment, her options become more and more horrendously dangerous. Kacey Mottet Klein, Luàna Bajrami, Louise Orry-Diquéro, Louise Chevillotte and Pio Marmaï also star, while Audrey Diwan directs. And this is based on recent Nobel Prize winner Annie Ernaux‘s(!) memoir. This film has already won numerous awards, including Best International Feature at the 2022 Gotham Awards, Best Film and Best Actress at the 2022 Lumiere Awards, and the FIPRESCI Prize and the Golden Lion(!) at the 2021 Venice Film Festival, along with being named a Best Film of 2022 by the BBC, Vox, and other publications. And it gets an outstanding 99% on Rotten Tomatoes, and 7.4/10 on IMDb. Caryn James of the BBC wrote “artful and socially resonant, Happening is one of the most poignant and moving films of the year.” And I’m definitely watching.
Netflix, surprisingly, has no big titles added this week, but offers some good adds nonetheless, like Represent, a delightful French 2022 political comedy series. Here, Stéphane Blé, played by Jean-Pascal Zadi, a well meaning youth center leader and educator , is talked into running for French President, especially because of his color-black- and his ability to represent the under-represented in France. But as Blé tries earnestly to stick to the issues, others are more impressed by his skin color, and can’t seem to get over that small detail. So when he comes up with some new ideas and finds himself a real contender, everyone is surprised.Eric Judor, Benoît Poelvoorde Marina Foïs, Fary, Pierre-Emmanuel Barré and Fadily Camara also star, and there are 6 episodes available to enjoy now. And while this series gets only a 5.3/10 on IMDb(thanks perhaps to trolls), it gets rave reviews from critics, like Veronica Loop of Martin Cid Magazine who calls it ” a really funny political parody … that brings us to the most comical side of politics in this series which, at the very least, will make you laugh because it views politicians at their most ridiculous.” I’m definitely tuning in. Netflix also offers Mission Majnu, a 2022 Hindi spy thriller. Loosely based on actual events during the 1971 Indo-Pakistani War, when field operative Amandeep Singh, played by Sidharth Malhotra, is asked to uncover what Prime Minister Indira Gandhi(Avantika A) and other officials believe is Pakistan’s building of a nuclear weapon. And so Singh goes to live undercover in Pakistan, to work for a tailor and eventually marrying the tailor’s blind, but beautiful, niece, Nasreen (Rashmika Mandanna). But as his job grows more and more dangerous, he still cannot tell her who he really is, even as he encounters death. Praveen Gaur, Bikram Malati, Sharik Khan, Kumud Mishra and Rabiat Baysoltanovna Osaeva also star, while Shantanu Bagchi directs. And there is plenty of comedy, music, and well choreographed fight scenes to lighten things up here. And so it gets an astounding 8.3/10 on IMDb, and Bollywood Hungama calls it “a gripping saga with a tight script, intelligent scenes, taut execution, and a memorable performance.” I’m definitely tuning in. But Netflix also offers Women at War, a 2023 French limited historical drama series. This tells of 4 French women, Marguerite, Suzanne, Agnès and Caroline, left behind in WWI to carry on and support their community and country while the men are at the front. Marguerite de Lancastel (Audrey Fleurot) uses her position as a sex worker at a brothel in Saint-Paulin to extract information on the German camps, while Mother Superior Agnès (Julie De Bona) is determined to transform her convent into a hospital for the wounded, and Caroline Dewitt (Sofia Essaïdi) tries to manage her war work at a truck factory, while caring for her daughter, Madeline (Stacy Grewis Belotti), distressed by the war. And Suzanne Faure (Camille Lou), a nurse, tries to deal with the flood of wounded, while evading the police, for something she may or may not have done. Sandrine Bonnaire, Tchéky Karyo, Laurent Gerra, Tom Leeb and Yannick Choirat also star, and there are 8 episodes available for streaming now. And this series gets a fantastic 7.1/10 on IMDb, with Vikas Yadav of the Midgard Times says it”can be exquisitely painful. It’s also filled with ordinary characters who handle strenuous tasks with determination. They slowly make their way into your heart and, before you know it, possess your thoughts.” I’m definitely watching. Netflix has also added MIU404, a 2020 Japanese crime thriller series. This focuses on the MIU(Mobile Investigation Unit) 404 for the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department, that has only 4 days to solve a crime, before it passed over to other departments. In that unit, Detective Kazumi Shima (Gen Hoshino), an analytical and always thoughtful detective, is forced to work with Police Officer Ibuki Ai(Ayano Go), an impulsive man with a troubled past. but together, they solve some of the most difficult crimes, including some that may be carried out by the police themselves. Mizukami Koshi, Kenshi Okada, Tomoka Kurokawa, Yuta Kanai, and Kumiko Aso also star, and there are 11 exciting episodes available now. And this series gets an impressive 7/10 on IMDb. Poomima Balsu of the Midgard Times calls it “a heartfelt, hilarious and extraordinary drama to watch.” It’s on my list. And, finally, Netflix has added Awaken, a 2023 S. Korean sci-fi mystery/thriller series. Here, when deaths begin occurring in a small village, with a cryptic code left with each body, Seoul Metropolitan Police Detective Do Jung Woo, played by Namkoong Min, is brought in, and he comes to the conclusion that these deaths are tied to the horrible events in another village, 28 years ago, called White Night. And so he calls in Officer Gong Hye-won(Kim Seol-hyun) and Detective Jamie Leighton(Lee Chung-ah), and they proceed to look for the connection between the two events. But is it of this world? Kim Tae Woo, Yoon Sun Woo, Yoon Gyung Ho, Baek Ji Won and Kim Chang Wan also star, and there are 16 exciting episodes available to gorge on now. And this series gets an outlandish 7.5/10 on IMDb. KDramaand Ramen.com says it’s “an exciting mystery thriller with only the faintest hint of romance.” And I’m watching.
Amazon has a big add this week with Vengeance, B.J. Novak’s 2022 suspense comedy. Here, Novak plays journalist and podcaster Ben Manalowitz, who travels from New York to Texas for the funeral of a girl he hooked up with long ago, Abilene (Lio Tipson), and had promptly forgotten. But her brother, Ty Shaw (Boyd Holbrook), had assumes there was much more between them, as does his family, and as they envelop him with love, they also convince Ben to look into her death, as they’re sure it wasn’t an overdose, as the police say. And so Ben plans a podcast, and loses some of his preconceived notions about Texans, as well as himself, at the same time. Issa Rae(!) stars as his producer, Eloise, and Eli Bickel, Smith Cameron, Dove Cameron, Isabella Amara and Ashton Kutcher(!) also star, and Novak wrote the script here, along with directing. And this movie premiered at the 2022 Tribeca Festival and won Best Film at the Leiden International Film Festival. And it gts an 81% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Gary M. Kramer of Salon.com writing its “as entertaining as it is offbeat, and it showcases Novak‘s talents in front of and behind the camera well.” I’m definitely tuning in. Amazon also offers Season 2 of The Legend of Vox Machina, a 2020 animated fantasy. This tells the story of Vox Machina, a team of eight unlikely heroes, who try to save the realm of Exandria of the strange and evil forces that threaten it. Which includes huge fire breathing dragons that threaten to overtake their world. The band includes confident half-elf ranger Vex’ahlia (Laura Bailey) and her twin brother, sarcastic rogue Vax’ildan (Liam O’Brien) and Taliesin Jaffe, Ashley Johnson, Marisha Ray,Travis Willingham and Matthew Mercer also star, and there are 3 episodes of this new season, and 12 from the first season, available now. And this is all derived from the world of Dungeons & Dragons, which isn’t exactly my taste. But it must please others, because it gets a smashing 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, and an 8.4/10 on IMDb.Petrana Radulovic of Polygon says “there is so much heart and fun in the grandiose adventure that it becomes more than just an epic fantasy show and turns into something really special.” So if you want to geek out, now’s your chance. And, finally, Amazon has added Laurel Canyon, the 2020 documentary limited series from Epix, now MGM+. This tells the story of the different immensely talented musicians that found their way to Laurel Canyon in the 60′s, and who started to intermix not only their talents, but their ideas there, leading to an explosion of great music. Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, the Doors, Linda Ronstadt, Joni Mitchell, and others. Director Alison Ellwood gives us a four hour tour of that fabled place in the 60‘s and 70′s, with tons of stories about the famous(and not so famous) creators, with interviews with stars like Jackson Browne, Don Henley, Michelle Phillips, Graham Nash, and archival interviews with Joni Mitchell and Neil Young. And this two–[arter gets an incredible 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, and Tracy Moore of Vanity Fair wrote”Ellwood serves up a sun-dappled, quarantine dream of a place whose significance to the era’s music scene can’t be overstated.” And MGM+ has made several Epix hit series available on Amazon for viewing now…more on that next time.
So sit back and binge this weekend, on classics, old and new, on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Enjoy!