Yes, it’s that time again, the weekend, and time to review the best new movies and television shows added online this week, to Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. And there are some exciting new adds this week, so let’s get started.
Hulu‘s biggest title added this week is probably Quasi, a 2023 comedy adventure. From the comedy troupe Broken Lizard, this tells the story of Quasi(Quasimodo, get it?)(Steve Lemme), a hunchback in medieval times, who falls for Queen Catherine(Adrianne Palicki), who, unbelievably, likes him too. But, Quasi’s troubles are amplified when he finds himself in the middle of a lethal fight between King Guy(Jay Chandrasekhar) and the Pope(Paul Soter). And of course, rude jokes and lame gags abound. Brian Cox, Kevin Heffernan, Erik Stolhanske, and Eugene Cordero also star, and Kevin Heffernan directs. But this is juvenile without being funny, and so it gets a mere 58% on Rotten Tomatoes, and a 4.2/10(!) on IMDb. Marshall Shaffer of the Decider says “the satire and the silliness alike fall flat in this Medieval-set mess. It’s bland and boring where it should be bold and brash. It’s nothing you haven’t TH-seen before.” And I agree, I’mdefinitely not watching. Luckily, Hulu has also added JOYRIDE, a 2022 British dramedy starring Olivia Colman(!). Here, Joy (Colman)takes off one night with her baby, and passes out in a cab(she’s also an alcoholic), only to find herself abducted by a 12 year-old, Mully (Charlie Reid), stealing her taxi, on the run from his abusive dad. So Joy decides to take advantage of the situation, telling Mully she won’t press charges, if he takes her where she wants to go- Ireland. But the baby proves more of challenge for her than she realized, and she finds Mully may give her the support she needs to be a mom, instead of giving her baby to a friend, as she had planned. Lochlann Ó Mearáin, Olwen Fouéré, David Pearse, and Ruth McCabe also star, and Emer Reynolds directed. And this movie doesn’t gets rave reviews, with only a 51% on Rotten Tomatoes. But I agree with Jude Dry of indieWire who wrote “Colman is incapable of delivering anything disingenuous, and she brings much more gravitas to the role than the project calls for.” And Charlie Reid shines as well. I’m watching. Hulu also offers The Offering, a 2022 horror flick. This takes place in Brooklyn, at the Hasidic funeral home that Art(Nick Blood), brings his very pregnant wife, Claire (Emily Wiseman), home to. But Art’s dad, Saul (Allan Corduner) , owner of the facility, had just accepted the body of a scholar who had, gulp, called forth a demon. And the careless Art screws up, and accidentally releases the demon, Abyzou – the “taker” of children, you know there’s going to be trouble. Emily Wiseman, Velizar Binev, Daniel Ben Zenou and Jonathan Yunger also star, and Oliver Park directed. And this thriller gets a 76% on Rotten Tomatoes, and Noel Murray of the Los Angeles Times said “the plot is pretty routine, but its finer points about religious faith and rituals give the creep-outs and jump-scares real nuance. What makes this such a satisfying horror film is its cultural specificity.” A good movie, but way too scary for me. And, finally, Hulu has added , What We Lose to Love, a 2023 romantic/supernatural thriller series. Here, it was always assumed Satria(Dion Wiyoko) and Dara(Sheila Dara Aisha) would marry someday, having been childhood sweethearts, but when Dara tells of her engagement to another man, Satria feels he has no choice but to be supportive. But when he learns that her fiancée is abusive at times, he worries, until one day, Dara disappears to everyone but him , and so he finds himself the key to her survival, even as her jealous fiancée accuses him of hiding her.Reza Rahadian, Arawinda Kirana,Zidane Khalid, Maisha Kanna and Dwi Sasono also star, and there are 12 episodes available for streaming now. And though there are no reviews to be found online, it’s impressive 8/10 score on IMDb got my attention, and I’m watching.
A huge add on Netflix this week is The Diplomat, a political drama series starring Keri Russell. Russell stars, here, as diplomat Kate Wyler, newly assigned to ambassadorship in the United Kingdom, in the wake of violence and unrest. When she reluctantly accepts the more ceremonial job, she has many challenges, not the least of which is her husband, Hal(Rufus Sewell!), a former ambassador himself, who is only too willing to help out, and offer advice. David Gyasi, Ali Ahn, Ato Essandoh, Nana Mensah and Michael McKean(!) also star, and there are 8 gripping episodes available for streaming now. And this series gets an 89% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Anne Brodie of What She Said calling it “strong stuff, a fine replacement for the late great Homeland. Kate Wyler, new US Ambassador to the UK- a frivolous waste of her time and talents. Juicy, smart, beautifully paced, Russell expands her repertoire with grit, and her face is her own.” And I’m watching. Netflix also offers Rough Diamonds, a 2023 Flemish drama thriller series. This finds prodigal son, Noah Wolfson(Kevin Janssens) returning home to Antwerp’s diamond district after his gambling brother,Yanki, brought the family business into debt and close to ruin. But Noah finds the family’s troubles are far from over, and many debts, to the wrong people, still to be paid. Vincent Van Sande, Casper Knopf, Marie Vinck, Ini Massez and Yona Elian-Keshet also star, and there are episodes available for bingeing now. And this series gets an amazing 7.5/10 on IMDb, and Joel Keller of the Decider writes “there are underlying stories about family and religion that underpins the thriller aspect, giving the stakes that Noah faces much higher than they normally would.” I agree, I love the cultural depths of this series, and I’m tuning in. Netflix has also added Chimp Empire, a 2023 British nature documentary. This focuses on two rival bands of chimpanzees in Uganda’s Ngogo rainforest; the Centrallers and the Westerners. As we watch the chimps that make up these groups, we get to see juveniles grow and explore their new world, and the canopy that soars above them and the adults that nurture and teach them. But we also see the never-ending warring that goes on between the two camps of our nearest genetic relatives, who seem to share our proclivity for violence and rivalry. So though this is marked by Netflix as ‘family’, be sure not to let anyone too young watch. But this gorgeously-shot epic show dramatically depicts the complex lives of chimpanzees and it’s narrated by Mahershala Ali(!). And this 4 part series is directed by James Reed, Oscar winner for My Octopus Friend(!). And it gets an astonishing 8.4/10 on IMDb, and Rebecca Nicholson of the Guardian calls it an”epic tale of betrayal is like Succession, but with apes…an astonishingly dramatic nature series.” But do beware if you have children, or you’re overly-sensitive, like me. Netflix also offers War Sailor, a 2023 limited WWII historical drama series from Norway. This was originally released last year as a feature film as Norway’s Oscar submission, and now comes to us in 3 parts, and tells the story of 2 best friends, Alfred “Freddy” Garnes (Kristoffer Joner) and Sigbjorn “Wally” Kvalvåg (Pal Sverre Hagen), who sign up for the merchant marines in 1939, having no idea that imminently, war will be declared , and the merchant service will drafted into service. Wally has no family, but Freddy’s has a wife and 3 children, who don’t want him to go, but conscription ends any argument, and the men will be at sea for a year, at least. And as they try to survive, their home of Bergen is occupied by the Nazis, so his family’s survival is anything but guaranteed. And the horror the men find on tour will be unforgettable, if they survive. Ine Marie Wilmann, Henrikke Lund-Olsen, Téa Grønner Joner, Siv Torin Knudsen Petersen and Armand Hannestad also star, and Gunnar Vikene wrote the script and directed, here. And this film was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2023 Palm Springs International Film Festival, and went on to win the Spotlight Award for cinematographer Sturla Brandth Grøvlen at the 2023 American Society of Cinematographers. And it gets a stunning 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, with James Delingpole of The Spectator calling it “one of the best things you’ll see on TV this year.” And I’m tuning in. And, finally, Netflix has added Tooth Pari: When Love Bites, a 2023 Indian horror/romcom series. This has a shy dentist, Dr. Roy, played by Shantanu Maheshwari, finally meet the woman of his dreams, Rumi(Tanya Maniktala) when she breaks a tooth, and he fits her in for an emergency appointment. But as they grow closer, he is troubler by her secretive nature, and her reluctance to tell him anything about herself. So he follows her, and finds she is a vampire(!), actually watching her dine on someone’s blood himself. He retreats, and horrified her vampirism, but can’t stop thinking about her, but even when they decide to be together, they have to deal with the biggest nightmare of all, her disapproving vampire family.Sikander Kher, Adil Hussain, Revathy, Saswata Chatterjee, and Tillotama Shome also star, and there are 8 absorbing episodes available to binge now. And this series gets an incredible 7.8/10 on IMDb, and Pragati Awasthi of WION says its”a treat to watch..fresh, gripping with a solid pack of entertainment and should be on your weekend watch list.” I’m definitely tuning in.
Amazon has a huge add this week with Dead Ringers, its 2023 thriller series. In this modern adaptation of David Cronenberg‘s 1988 thriller, this focuses on the identical Mantle twins, Beverly, shy and reserved, and Elliot, a rebellious rule-breaker, both played by Rachel Weisz(!). As the pair of gynecologists decide to open a birthing center, offering fertility treatments and natal care, it becomes clear their relationship is not an balanced one, with Beverly going to a grief therapy group while her sister lives the high life. When they accept funding from opioid heiress Rebecca Parker (Jennifer Ehle), questions grow about the ethics about their work, and the pair devolve into criminal activity, and maybe even murder. Britne Oldford, Poppy Liu, Michael Chernus and Emily Meade also star, and all 6 episodes of Season 1 are available now. And this eerie series gets an 84% on Rotten Tomatoes, and Alison Herman of Variety writes that this series “improves on the David Cronenberg original.” But it might be too scary for me. Luckily, Amazon also offers Happy Happy, a 2011 Norwegian satirical comedy. Agnes Kittelsen stars here, as Kaja, an always upbeat teacher, living out in the wilds of Norway with her disinterested, and even unkind , husband, Eirik (Joachim Rafaelsen). So she is delighted when a new couple moves in next door; Sigve (Henrik Rafaelsen) and Elisabeth (Maibritt Saerens), who are more sophisticated and interested in things other than hunting, unlike Eirik , and they even sing in a choir, Kaja‘s passion. But when the two couples start to a romantic board game, and open up about what’s really going on, the facades fall away, and it becomes everyone is not happy. Oskar Hernaes Brandso, Ram Shihab Ebedy,Heine Totland and Hans Martin Austestad also star, and Anne Sewitsky directed. And this film won the World Cinema Grand Jury Prize for a dramatic feature at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, and gets an impressive 85% on Rotten Tomatoes. Rebecca Ellis of Little White Lies called it “darkly comic and surprisingly touching in equal measure.” And I’m watching. And, finally, Amazon has added Yellow Bird, a 2023 comedy. This follows Jake Rush, played by Angus Benfield, a middle-aged sad sack former PR professional, now working as stock boy at a small local grocery store, answering to a snarky teen age manager. But when his entitled and neglectful wife finally leaves him, it gives him a new chance at happiness in life, if he ever realizes it. And an interview with the store owner turns things around, and Jake finds himself in charge, all the while receiving moral support and guidance from his garden gnome, speaking to him in the voice of Brian Doyle-Murray(!). Kathy Garver, Plastic Martyr, Ena O’Rourke, Scott King and Michael Maclane also star, and Angus Benfield directs. And this movie won the 2023 Best Feature Award at the Santa Monica Film Festival, and it gets a phenomenal 9/10 on IMDb. Alan Ng of Film Threat says its “brimming with that independent film spirit — a modest comedy perfect for anyone needing a bit of encouragement in life.” I’m tuning in.
So sit back and binge this weekend, on classics, old and new, on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Enjoy!