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 big add this week with Tiny Beautiful Things, the 2023 drama series. This is an adaptation of Wild author Cheryl Strayed’s autobiographical collection of essays, with Kathryn Hahn(!) playing Clare, a author whose life is anything anything but perfect. Her marriage to Dany(Quentin Plair) is failing, and her daughter Rae (Tanzyn Crawford) is cold and fragile. When friends a colleagues encourage her to do an advice column, Dear Sugar, she is anything but eager, but in writing it, she changes her life, too.Merritt Wever stars as her mom, Frankie, and Owen Painter,Sarah Pidgeon, Michaela Watkins, Elizabeth Hinkler and SteVonté Hart also star, and this 8 episode series was created by Liz Tigelaar(Little Fires Everywhere). And it gets an incredible 7.4/10 on IMDb, and Joel Keller of The Decider says “Kathryn Hahn makes Tiny Beautiful Things a compelling watch, mainly because she’s so good at playing someone barely holding things together.” So I’m watching. Hulu also offers Pretty Baby: Brooke Shields, a 2023 documentary. In this two-parter, director Lana Wilson gives the viewer an inside look at the woman who started working as a model at 11 months of age, only to continue a high pressured career at the behest of her loving but manipulative mom, Terri Shields. But when her image began to be sexualized at only 11 with her role in Pretty Baby, with kissing an adult male actor at that age, her life was even more skewed and unnatural, with objectification and lack of agency that was appalling. Add to that that her image followed her everywhere, left her unable to find herself, until she wentto college at Princeton, with her mom even calling her 5 times a day there, micromanaging her life. Laura Linney, a childhood friend gives frank testimony to her friend’s life, as do countless others, but most impressive is Shields herself, who makes it clear who’s in the driver’s seat now. And this doc premiere d at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, and gets an outstanding 7.7/10 on IMDb. Natalia Winkelman of the New York Times says “Wilson’s documentary blossoms in moments of cultural commentary, where it builds a mood of reminiscence gone rancid.” And I’m watching. Hulu also offers Blade of the Immortal, a 2017 Japanese action thriller. Takuya Kimura stars as Manji, a highly skilled samurai, who is also cursed, and now immortal, who seeks to help Rin(Hana Sugisaki) avenge the death of her father, and so, save his own soul. And so they go together to hunt down the man responsible, Anotsu Kagehisa (Sôta Fukushi). Hayato Ichihara,Erika Toda,Kazuki Kitamura, Shinnosuke Mitsushima and Chiaki Kuriyama also star, and Takashi Miike directed. And this movie was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2017 Seattle Film Critics Society and the Houston Film Critics Society Awards and Kimura went on to win Best Actor at the Japan Movie Critics Award. And this film gets an 87% onRotten Tomatoes, and Wendy Ide of The Guardian called it “a stylish slash fest, which delivers visceral thrills along with quietly striking moments of beauty.” But too gory for me.And, finally, Hulu has added The Good Mothers, a 2023 Italian legal drama. BAsed on a true story, this tell of Anna Colace(Barbara Chichiarelli),a young Calabrian prosecutor, works with the women of the ‘Ndrangheta mafia to bring it down from the inside. Colace starts when mafia wife, Lea Garofolo (Micaela Ramazzotti), her husband Carlo is suspected, and his daughter Denise (Gaia Girace), a witness, is now also under threat. And so the prosecutor comes up with the plan to recruit the surviving wives of mob members, victims of extreme violence and abuse, in order to take the bosses down.Valentina Bellè, Alessandra Roca, Francesco Colella, Simona Distefano and Andrea Dodero also star, and there are 6episodes available for viewing now. This series premiered at 73rd Berlin International Film Festival in Berlinale and went on to win the Berlinale Series Award, there. And it gets an amazing 7.5/10 on IMDb, and Joel Keller of The Decider says to Stream It, adding “the first episode .. sets up a powerful story of an unheard faction of the ‘Ndrangheta families that stood up and helped to bring them down.”
The biggest title addd on Netflix this week has to be Beef, the 2023 series. When influencer and entrepreneur Amy Lau(Ali Wong!) and contractor Danny Cho(Steven Yeun) collide one afternoon, it sets off a road rage incident that sets off a heated feud between the pair. The feud is fueled by the unhappiness of each of them, and we see them spiral out of control, that finally pulls their families into the fray, threatening everything they have. Young Mazino, Joseph Lee, David Choe, Remy Holt and Patti Yasutake also star, and there are 10 episodes available now. And this series gets an incredible 99% on Rotten Tomatoes, and an 8.7/10(!) on IMDb. Melanie McFarland of Salon.com says “I challenge you to find another series that channels the spectrum of fury as wildly, beautifully and crazily while, for the most part, maintaining its focal clarity,”and Peter Travers of ABC News says “polish up those Emmys for the year’s best and most addictive new series.” So I’m tuning in. But Netflix also offers Transatlantic, the 2023 limited historical drama series. Based on the novel The Flight Portfolio by Julie Orringer, this tells of the Emergency Rescue Committee and it’s founders Chicago heiress Mary Jayne Gold (Gillian Jacobs!)and former journalist Varian Fry (Cory Michael Smith). Together with fellow members refugee smuggler Lisa Fittko (Deleila Piasko) and economist Albert Hirschman (Lucas Englander), they manage to smuggle 2,000 of European refugees, including artists, scientists and academics to safety, while they are laughed at and minimized by governmental officials. Corey Stoll, Moritz Bleibtreu, Alexander Fehling, Amit Rahav and Jonas Nay also star, and there are 7 absorbing episodes available to binge now. And this series gets an 89% on Rotten Tomatoes, and Clint Worthington of RogerEbert.com says it “a bittersweet, Classic Hollywood vibe, evoking the historical romance of “Casablanca” in its lush, vibrant presentation.” I’m definitely tuning in. Netflix has also added Hunger, a 2023 Thai drama. This takes place in Bangkok, where Aoy, played by Chutimon “Aokbab” Chuengcharoensukying, works in her family’s restaurant, but dreams of better things, and being ‘special.’ So when she gets an invitiation to train with the chic culinary team Hunger and the ruthless Chef Paul (Nopachai Chaiyanam),who runs it, she jumps at the chance. But she finds that serving the rich gluttonous, billionaires and politicians, not to mention her draconian boss, is not the perfection it seems.Gunn Svasti Na Ayudhya, Bhumibhat “Aim” Thavornsiri, Varit Leesavan and Varit “Pao” Hongsananda also star, while Sittisiri “Dom” Mongkolsiri directs. And this movie gets an impressive 7.4/10 on IMDb, with Chanun Poomsawai of nme.com writing “with its thought-provoking social commentary and carefully calibrated performances from its cast, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more poignant Thai film than Hunger this year.” It’s on my list. Netflix also offers Thicker than Water, a 2023 French thriller series.Belgian humorist and actress Nawell Madanicreated this series, and stars as Fara Bentayeb, a TV news anchor who worked years for her position, only to find that , when her brother Selim (Radouan Leflahi) gets in trouble with the law(again), she may lose everythig she’s worked for. Selim had been importing and exporting cars,ostensibly, but also importing drugs, and so, when he disappears, and when his car burns, the drug dealer wants his drugs that burned with it back or repaid, and Fara and her Algerian immigrant female family members must repay him. Kahina Carina, Carima Amarouche,Djebril Zonga, Mayane Sarah El Baze,Aïda Guechoud and Paola Locatelli also star, and there are episodes avialble for gorging now. And this series gets a 6.8/10 on IMDb, and Anali Sharma of the Midgard Times calls it “a stunning achievement in the crime thriller genre. With its intriguing plot, brilliant performances, and sensitive exploration of important themes, this French series has all the hallmarks of a classic.” And it’s funny, too. I’m definitely tuning in. And, finally, Netflix has added Holy Spider, the 2022 Danish thriller. This takes place in 2001 Masheed, Iran’s second largest city, with reporter Rahimi (Zar Amir Ebrahimi), covering the Spider Killer, murdering women across the country he calls’ whores, supposedly on a religious mission, that some call a Fatwa. Amid all this, Rahimi tries to report on the issue, while dealing morality police looking for women not wearing a proper hijab, or having leering police officers saying she ‘is worth nothing.’ We’re also given the view of Saeed (Mehdi Bajestani), the murderer, himself, and that of the prostitutes and drug addicts he murders, in a country awash in misogyny. Arash Ashtiani, Sina Parvaneh, Nima Akbarpour, Mesbah Taleb and Sara Fazilat also star, and Ali Abbasi(Border) directs. This film was selected to compete for the Palme d’Or at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival, where Zar Amir Ebrahimi went on to win the festival’s Best Actress Award, and was selected as the Danish entry for Best International Feature Film at the 2023 Academy Awards. And it gets an amazing 7.3/10 on IMDb, and Tim Cogshell of NPR Los Angeles called it a “striking film in any case, especially with what is going on in Iran right now… It’s well constructed and allows us to see the greater society through this Iranian woman.” But very upsetting. And it’s on my list.
Amazon has a big add this week with Bros, the 2023 romcom. This has Bobby Leiber, played by Billy Eichner, a queer history podcaster in NYC, who’s convinced it’s better to be alone, when he meets Aaron (Luke Macfarlane) in a bar, and changes his mind. And so, we have ups and downs, breakups and reunions, that one suspects will end in the typical romcom fashion .Ts Madison, Monica Raymund, Guillermo Díaz, Guy Branum, Amanda Bearse and Harvey Fierstein(!) also star, and Nicholas Stoller directs. And this movie gets an 89% on Rotten Tomatoes, and Sophie Butcher of Empire Mag said its “hilarious from start to finish, with two excellent leading men and dollops of queer joy sprinkled throughout, Bros hits classic romcom beats while giving the genre a refreshing, much-needed update.” And it’s on my list. Amazon has also added Gangs of Lagos, a 2019 Nigerian crime drama. This takes place in Isale Eko(or Lagos Island), where gangs rule the streets, and best friends Ify(Chike-Ezekpeazu Osebuka) and Gift(Adesua Etomi-Wellington) try to survive the gang wars that threaten to sweep them up. Their friend Obalola(Tobi Bakre) narrates and describes a world of crime he’s involved in, while dreaming of getting an education, a career, and Temi(Bimbo Ademoye) a girl in the neighborhood. But when his guardian Nino is killed, everything changes, and the crew are hired by Kazeem, a crooked meat packer , which gets them in more trouble still. Tayo Faniran, Iyabo Ojo, Alabi Pasuma, Olarotimi Fakunle and Maleek Sanni also star, and Jadesola Osiberu directs. And this movie won two awards at the 2018 African Movie Academy Awards, including Best Nigerian Film. And it gets an outstanding 7.2/10 on IMDB, and of Filmeliers compared it to the Brazilian classic City of God, adding its “a powerful story of violence and tragedy. ” But a bit too violent for me. And finally, Amazon has added Effigy – Poison and the City, a 2019 historical mystery/thriller. This takes place in 1828 Bremen, Germany, where a young law clerk, Cato Böhmer (Elisa Thiemann), tries to make her way in a male dominated world, and impress her supervisor, Senator Droste (Christoph Gottschalch),with her capabilities. But when deaths begin to occur around the city, and the cause is found to be arsenic, only Böhmer may be able to see through the murderer’s façade. Roland Jankowsky, Uwe Bohm,Marc Ottiker, Tom Keidel and Suzan Anbeh also star, and Udo Flohr directs. And this film, based on a stage play, premiered at the 2019 Filmfest Bremen, and since has won countless awards, including Best Historical Feature at the WorldFest Houston, Best Actress for Anbeh at the 2023 North Film Festival, and Best Director and Best International Feature Film for Udo Flohr at the 2021 L’HIFF – Barcelona International Film Festival. And it gets an stunning 7.1/10 on IMDb, and Jeannette Catsoulis of the New York Times said “wordy and stilted (it was derived from a stage play), this low-budget debut nevertheless benefits from a mesmerizing central performance by Suzan Anbeh.” And it is low budget, but worth your while, so I’m tuning in.
So sit back and binge this weekend, on classics, old and new, on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Enjoy!