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 great add in Bruiser, a 2022 drama. Jalyn Hall(Till) plays Darious, a 14 year-old sent to a boarding school by his parents, but after he’s beaten up and bullied there, he is torn between the ideologies of his businessman father, Malcolm (Shamier Amderson) and those of a rambler, Porter (Trevante Rhodes), who offers more practical ways to deal with bullying. But when it turns out Porter has more of a connection to Darious than the teen knows, his family is thrown for a loop, especially his caring mom, Monica (Shinelle Azoroh). Frank Oakley III, Jonah Bishop-Pirrone, Sarah Bock, Kiah Alexandria Clingman and Moses Jones also star, while Miles Warren directed his first feature length film here. And Trevante Rhodes was nominated for Best Supporting Performance at the 2023 Film Independent Spirit Awards, and this film gets an astounding 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. Peter Debruge of Variety wrote “insightful and universal in so many ways, Warren’s first feature is a confident if sometimes oblique coming-of-age story from an important new voice…” And I’m watching. Hulu has also added two Academy Award nominated shorts through Disney+, the first being My Year of Dicks, a 2022 animated comedy. This follows Pam(Brie Tilton), a fifteen year-old in 1991 Houston, determined to lose her virginity, so she can become a full grown woman. Told in 5 chapters, one for each prospective boy, Pam is constantly thwarted by boys who turn out to be ‘dicks,’ or by her own misconceptions, or other niggling problems. Jackson Kelly, Klarissa Hernandez, Chris Elsenbroek,Chris Kelman and Laura House also star, and Sara Gunnarsdóttir directs. Pamela Ribon, the creator and co-writer of this film, introduces each autobiographical chapter. And this short has won numerous awards already, like Best Animated Short at the Brooklyn Film Festival and the Chicago International Film Festival. And this film gets an amazing 7.1/10 on IMDb, and Jennifer Wolfe of Indiewire calls it “hilarious and sweetly touching.” But remember, this is an explicit movie in language, as well as subject matter. So maybe no young kiddos. It’s on my list. Hulu also offers the Oscar nominated short Le pupille, a 2022 Italian comedy. Called “The Pupils” in English, this takes place at an Italian girls Catholic boarding school for orphans during WWII, in atime of scarcity and deprivation, when a wealthy donor brings a luscious and indulgent cake (70 eggs!)for Christmas Eve. But when the nuns want the girls to sacrifice their delicious piece of cake for the lord, the girls are aghast. But can anything be done to save their treat? Melissa Falasconi, Alba Rohrwacher, Carmen Pommella, Lady Maru and Valeria Bruni Tedeschi also star, and Alice Rohrwacher directed, while shooting it all on 16mm film. And this short won Best Production Design and Best Actor for Melissa Falasconi at the Philadelphia Film Festival, and it gets a 6.8/10 on IMDb. John Serba of the Decider calls it “Wonderful wonderful wonderful. Le Pupille is a mischievous little thing with a smartly realized setting and visual aesthetic.” And I’m definitely tuning in. And, finally, Hulu has added Call It Love, a 2023 South Korean romance series. Woo-joo(Lee Sung-kyung) is crushed by her father’s infidelity, but it gets worse, when her father dies, and his mistress, Hee-ja, sells the family home, and throws Woo-joo out on the street. The young woman vows to get even, and targets Hee-ja’s son, Dong-jin (Kim Young Kwang), since the house money went to save his business. But Woo-joo finds that Dong-jin is not his mother, and her hatred for him wanes. Sung Joon, Sung Ryung, Ahn Hee-yeon and Kim Ye-won also star, and there are 2 episodes available now, with 4 more to come by March 7. And this series gets an incredible 8.5/10 on IMDb, and Carmen Chin of nme.com says “it might well emerge as one of the year’s most poignant K-dramas.” It’s on my list.
Netflix has a big title added with The Strays, a 2023 British thriller. This has Cheryl, played by Ashley Madekwe, building a new life, (artificially) beautiful and sumptuous, married to an (white) insurance broker named Ian (Justin Salinger), in a mostly white, affluent suburb of London. But her unspoken past looms ominously around her, threatening to tell her secrets, and she gradually breaks down, seeing people luring others don’t see, and her straight haired wig is chafing and irritating her scalp. And two strangers who insinuate themselves into her life may be the last straw.Tom Andrews, Jorden Myrie, Bukky Bakray, Lucy Liemann, Samuel Small and Maria Almeida also star, while Nathaniel Martello-White directs. And this movie gets a 69% on Rotten Tomatoes, and Anton Bitel of Little White Lies calling it “a provocative allegory of black experience in white Britain, as characters get caught in an evolving conflict between estrangement and assimilation, individualism and inauthenticity, pride and self-loathing.” And it’s on my list. But Netflix has another big(ish) title added with We Have a Ghost, a 2023 horror/comedy. Based on a short story called Ernest by Geoff Manaugh, this has the Presley family moving into a ramshackle fixer-upper house in Chicago, and strengthen their family, too. Dad Frank (Anthony Mackie!) is hopeful, but his son Kevin (Jahi Di’Allo Winston) is less so, especially when he gets to school, and hears everyone call his new home the “Death House.” But then he meets the speechless ghost, Ernest (David Harbour!), and finds he’s not afraid, indeed, he films him with his iPhone, and finds himself going viral. His dad Frank makes hay(and money) out of the media phenomena, but when Kevin discovers Ernest needs help, he sets out to investigate. Jennifer Coolidge(!), Tig Notaro(!), Steve Coulter, Isabella Russo and Faith Ford (!)also star, and Christopher Landon(Freaky) directs. And no, it’s not a perfect film- it gets only a 43% on Rotten Tomatoes– but Brian Tallerico of RogerEbert.com says “we may not have an outright winner, but we do have a decent diversion.” I’m watching. Netflix also offers Trifecta, a 2023 Spanish thriller series. Based on a true story, this tells of forensics agent Becca Fuentes (Maite Perroni) goes to examine a dead woman on scene, only to find she’s an exact replica of herself..and she’s not dead. When the woman Aleida Trujano calls her by her name, Becca is stunned, and so investigates by taking her own DNA swab, and asking her mother if she had other children, but she is stonewalled. And so Becca investigates on her own, and finds her own life threatened, and another exact replica of herself. David Chocarro, Ofelia Medina, Flavio Medina, Claudia Lobo and Nuria Bages also star, and there are 8 episodes available for gorging now. And though it gets only a 5.8/10 on IMDb, it’s early, and Joel Keller of The Decider says to stream it, adding “it definitely shows signs that it’s going to be a tightly-plotted thriller with three distinct performances from its lead.” I’m definitely tuning in. Also new and notable on Netflix is Nanpakal Nerathu Mayakkam, a 2022 Mayalayam-Tamil movie. The English title here is ‘Like an Afternoon Dream‘, and so we fittingly get a dreamlike series of vignettes that tell of James, played by actor and producer Mammootty, travelling to Kerala on a tour bus, when James awakens suddenly and insists he is Sundaram, who disappeared years ago. When James returns to Sundaram‘s village, promptly raids the refrigerator, and recognizes people he shouldn’t know, the townspeople are aghast, while James‘ family wonders if he is well at all. Ramya Suvi, Ramya Pandian, Rajesh Sharma, Vipin Atley and Ashokan also star, while Lijo Jose Pellissery directed. And this film gets a stunning 7.9/10, and Simon Abrams of RogerEbert.com says “it’s a pleasure to watch such a poised and formally ambitious filmmaker simultaneously recall other formative modernists—Federico Fellini and Tsai Ming-liang both came to mind—while also reveling in the sensuous details that ground his work in culturally specific touchstones.” I’m watching. And, finally, Netflix has added Mr. Queen, a 2020 comedy series. Here, an arrogant modern-day chef Jang Bong-hwan (Choi Jin-hyuk) falls out of a hotel window into a pool, and wakes to find himself in the body of the future Queen Cheorin,Kim So–Yong, played by Shin Hye-sun, of the Joseon period. So-Yong is due to marry King Cheoljong( Kim Jung Hyung). who it turns out is king in name only, with more powerful Grand Queen Dowager and her brother, Kim Jwa Geun, having their knives out for the new Queen. And so Bong Hwan tries to survive the chaos his arrival causes, but also, investigates the intrigue of the royal court for So-Yong.Kim Tae-woo, Seol In-ah, Lee Jae-won, Yoo Min-Kyu and Chae Seo-Eun also star, and there are 20 episodes available for bingeing now. And this series was nominated for Best Actress for Hye-Sun Shin and Best Supporting Actress for Cha Cheong-hwa at the 2021 Baek Sang Art Awards and gets an outstanding 8.7/10 on IMDb. Greg Wheeler of the Review Geek calls it “easily one of the best Korean dramas of 2021. This blend of historical drama and comedy works perfectly, producing a very enjoyable show that’s an easy series to recommend,” and I agree. I’m definitely tuning in.
Amazon has a huge add this week with The Consultant, a 2023 thriller/ comedy series. Based on the best-selling horror novel by Bentley Little, this focuses on the CompWare, once the best selling game ware company in L.A., that starts losing money and finally loses it’s CEO Sang(Brian Yoon), who dies in his office, and consultant, Regus Patoff, played by Christoph Waltz, is rushed in. His threatening demeanor does nothing to calm employee nerves, especially when he starts smelling workers and hiring those that don’t pass the nose test. But staff members Craig(Nat Wolff) and Elaine(Brittany O’Grady) begin to suspect something even more sinister, when they investigate his past, and find death(by decapitation, no less) followed swiftly after he was hired at other companies. Aimee Carrero, Sloane Avery, Sydney Mae Diaz, Erin Ruth Walker and Emily Berry also star, and 8 episodes available to devour now. And this series gets a 68% on Rotten Tomatoes, and Cade Taylor of Tell Tale Tv calls it “sinister and intimidating, but on a deeper level, it forces the audience to think about their decisions and their impact, along with the fact that one’s intentions are never as they seem.” I’m watching. But Amazon has also added Smile, the 2022 horror flick. In a movie that’s way to scary for me, and kind of ridiculous, too, Sosie Bacon stars as psychotherapist Dr. Rose Cotter, who is treating a patient who claims there is an evil entity taking the form of smiling people has been stalking her, only to have her take her own life with that same eerie smile moments later, in Cotter‘s office. As the Dr herself sees more smiling people threatening her, she is shaken and given a week off for her weird claims, and so she investigates, along with her ex-boyfriend and police detective, Joel( Kyle Gallner).Jessie T. Usher, Robin Weigert, Kal Penn(!), Rob Morgan and Gillian Zinser also star, and Parker Finn directed. But this is way too scary and mean-spirited for me, even though it gets a respectable 80% on Rotten Tomatoes. Kristy Puchko of Mashable wrote “it could have been the kind of sinister flick that follows you home, slipping through the door, up the stairs, and curling up deep inside your head, daring you to sleep. Instead, Smile feels as disposable as a candy wrapper.” But you just might need horror. And, finally, Amazon has added Man From Reno, a 2014 mystery. This all begins with sheriff Paul Del Moral, played by Pepe Serna, hitting a man who appears out of nowhere, with his car, in asmall town south of San Francisco. And it turns out that Japanese crime novelist Aki, played by Ayako Fujitani, is looing for that same young man, and so the pair team up. Kazuki Kitamura, Yasuyo Shiba, Hiroshi Watanabe and Tetsuo Kuramochi also star, and Dave Boyle directed. And this film won Best Narrative Feature for Boyle at the Los Angeles Film Festival and the San Diego Asian Film Festival in 2014, and gets a stunning 95% on Rotten Tomatoes. Cary Darling of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram/DFW.com called it “a slow-burn, atmospheric, low-budget thriller that also offers an intriguing blast of culture clash.” And I’m definitely tuning in.
So sit back and binge this weekend, on classics, old and new, on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Enjoy!