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 has an amazing add this week, with Saint Omer, the 2022 award-winning drama. This has the young novelist Rama, played by Kayije Kagame, attending the trial of a young mother, Laurence Coly, played by Guslagie Malanga, accused of killing her young child, hoping to get material for a book . But as the trial continues, Rama finds herself losing her professional distance from the woman, and finding not only empathy, but too many similarities between herself and the young woman, unsettling the writer immensely. Aurélia Petit, Valérie Dréville,Xavier Maly,Robert Cantarella and Thomas De Pourquery also star, and Alice Diop(!) directs. And this movie won the prestigious Silver Lion, in addition to the Luigi De Laurentiis Award for Best Newcomer, and the Edipo Re Award , at the 2022 Venice Film Festival, along with Best Film and Best Screenplay at the 2022 Seville European Film Festival, along with numerous other awards at other festivals. And it gets an astounding 94% on RottenTomatoes, with Lillian Crawford of Empire Magazine said “Diop’s documentarian approach to the courtroom drama is fresh and urgent, consistently commanding attention to the women as they speak and listen.” I’m definitely tuning in. Hulu has also added Class of ’09, a 2023 thriller limited series from FX. This follows fellow class members, Tayo (Brian Tyree Henry) and Poet (Kate Mara), as they make their way through FBI training and their careers, and go from being naive recruits, to seasoned and sometimes jaded, professionals. Fellow students Hour (Sepideh Moafi) and Lennix (Brian Smith) are also featured, all led by Drew (Brooke Smith) and Gabriel (Jon Jon Briones), their caring and sometimes ruthless instructors.Rosalind Eleazar, Jake McDorman, Raúl Castillo, Mark Pellegrino and Camry Brault also star, adn there are 4 episodes available now, with 4 more to come. But this series is a bit uneven and so it gets only a 61% on Rotten Tomatoes, but Alan Sepinwall of Rolling Stone wrote “there are some solid performances, the technical elements are strong, and Smith asks some pertinent and timely questions about AI. But on the whole it comes in as pretty good, rather than great, and plays as more familiar than the norm for FX.” So you decide. Hulu also offers Blood, a 2023 horror flick. Here, the family dog, Pippen, comes home to the family farmhouse of Jess(Michelle Monaghan) and her children, seemingly rabid, and manages to bite her son Owen (Finlay Wojtak-Hissong) . But Owen is fundamentally changed, refusing food and having seizures, but while doctors suspect a pathogen, his mom,a nurse, suspects the worst when she sees Owen gorging on a bag of IV blood. But when Owen’s condition worsens, Jess hatches a plan to feed him on one of her patients, leading Owen to become more dangerous than ever. Skeet Ulrich, June B. Wilde, Jennifer Rose Garcia, Skylar Morgan Jones and Danika Frederick also star, and Brad Anderson directed. But this film doesn’t pan out, script wise, and so gets only a 54% on Rotten Tomatoes. Peter Sobczynski of RogerEbert.com wrote it “delivers plenty of the titular substance but not much else of note other than a couple of decent scenes here and there.” And so gory I’m definitely not watching. And, finally, Hulu has added Vanda, a 2022 Portuguese dramatic thriller series. This takes place in 2008 Lisbon, at the height of the financial crisis, with Vanda, played by Gabriela Barros, a hair stylist, broke and left alone to provide for her two ids. And so she decides to don a blonde wig, and rob a bank, doing so well on her first try- she makes 10,000 euros– that she decides to stay in that business. But while she becomes a folk hero, the police are also on her trail, and the pressure grinds Vanda to the breaking point. Joana de Verona, Iñigo Galiano, Raúl Prieto, Pedro Casablanc and Patricia García Quirós also star, and there are 8 episodes now available. And this show was nominated for Best Series or TV Movie at the 2023 Portuguese Film Academy Sophia Awards, and it gets an incredible 7.8/10 on IMDb. Kate Myers of SBS.com says “the positively outlandish events are given the credibility of a basis in truth, and the series brings a refreshing originality to the very best bits of the classic heist drama.” And I’m watching.
The biggest title added on Netflix this week has to be The Mother, the 2023 thriller. Jennifer Lopez stars in the title role, soon known as ‘the mother’ to the FBI, an informant who is also an assassin, so when her daughter, Zoe, is abducted by baddies, Mom is determined to get her back and “kill every last one” who took her. So, of course, there’s tons of violence and breath-taking action scenes to follow, with an always beautiful Lopez spilling plenty of blood. Gael-García Bernal(!), Lucy Paez, Joseph Fiennes, Omari Hardwick, and Edie Falco(!) also star, and Niki Caro(Whale Rider!) directs. But this has little to recommend it, except the action,the main attraction in this movie. And so it gets only a 44% on Rotten Tomatoes, and a 5.4/10 on IMDb. David Fear of Rolling Stone said “Lopez is an actor with a particularly deep set of skills. You wish she’d brought some more of her expressive ones to this revenge flick.” I agree, and I’m not watching. Luckily, Netflix also offers Mrs. Chatterjee vs. Norway, a 2023 Indian drama. based on a true story, and Sagarika Chakraborty’s 2022 autobiography, this tells of Debika Chatterjee, played by Rani Mukerji, a mother of 2 who moved with her husband Anirudh (Anirban Bhattacharya) to Norway for his new job. But it turns out Norwegian Child Welfare Services (or Barnevernet) has been monitoring the family, dissatisfied with their foreign ways, and disordered household, and so, takes custody of the two kids, Shuhb and Suchi. And so Debika begins a grueling and painful journey to regain custody of her children, with the help of the Indian government, and her disapproving husband. Anirban Bhattacharya, Jim Sarbh, Neena Gupta and Sara Soulié also star, while Ashima Chibber directed. And Rani Mukerji won the award for Outstanding Performance of the Year at the Indian HELLO! Hall of Fame Awards for her role here, and this movie gets an outstanding 7.4/10 on IMDb. And Devesh Sharma of Filmfare says “Watch Mrs Chatterjee Vs Norway for its sensitive dramatisation of a real-life case. And for the superlative acting displayed by Rani Mukerji, and the entire ensemble cast.” I’m watching. Netflix has also added Black Knight, a 2023 South Korean sci-fi series. This takes place in a dystopian future, plagued by inescapable air pollution caused by a meteor strike, and the poorest survivors are left above ground, with little oxygen or supplies. A QR code on the hand tells how many supplies you receive, and of course, the poor and lower classes must survive with the least. And so Kim Woo-bin plays 5-8, a former refugee like those he serves, becomes a deliveryman, or Black Knight, who not only delivers oxygen and supplies, but who sees to return equity to his world and unseat the powerful who benefit from that inequity. Roh Yoon-seo, Esom, Kang You-Seok and Song Seung-heon also star, and there are episodes available for bingeing now. And this series gets an 88% on Rotten Tomatoes, and Joel Keller of The Decider says to stream it , adding it “may take a couple of episodes to fully build out its world, but it’s not a slow-paced introduction to this post-apocalyptic version of Seoul, with stunning visuals and well-done fight sequences.” I’m tuning in. And Netflix offers a real treat with African Queens: Njinga, a 2023 documentary series. Narrated by executive producer Jada Pinkett Smith(!), this tells the true story the realms of Ndongo and Matamba, now known as Angola, and of their 17th century queen, Njinga. Played by Adesuwa Oni in dramatic scenes, Queen Njinga was trained by her father, Ngola Kilombo Kia Kasenda(Philips Nortey), in battle and politics early on, which was vital since the Portuguese were encroaching on their shores. After her father died suspiciously, and her brother ceded rule to her, Queen Njinga protected her country for 37 years from the greedy westerners that thirsted for wealth and more slaves that had made them so rich. We get plenty of historical context here, from historians as well as the modern day Queen Diambi Kabatusuila,queen of the Bakwa Luntu tribe of Central Kasaï in the historic Kingdom of Luba. Chipo Kureya,Eshe Asante, Sivuyile Ngesi and Marilyn Nnadebe also star, and there are 4 delightful episodes available for streaming now. And this series gets an 88% on Rotten Tomatoes, and Melanie McFarland of Salon.com writes “Adesuwa Oni’s sensitive, fierce performance is an admirable beginning to make up for our collective knowledge gap. The British actor‘s portrayal is an artful balance of athleticism with the emotional and psychological dexterity required of Njinga.” And I’m definitely tuning in. And, finally, Netflix has added Why Didn’t I Tell You a Million Times?, a 2023 Japanese supernatural romance series. This tells of Yui(Mao Inoue) and Naoki(Takeru Satoh), determined to be together forever, but when Naoki disappears, Yui fears the worst. And she has good reason, because Naoki is dead, and while his ghost lingers about her, trying to communicate, Yui is searching for him. Meanwhile, detective Yuzuru(Kenichi Matsuyama) is investigating, but, since everyone in his family can see ghosts, when he does see Naoki‘s ghost, he begins to search for his killer. Shim Eun-kyung, Kami Hiraiwa, Yusuke Shoji and Shota Shunputei also star, and there are 10 episodes available now. And this series gets an impressive7/10 on IMDb, and MartinCid.com calls it “a series with intimate touches that offers us a journey with emotions running high.” It’s on my list.
Amazon has a big add this week with Air, the 2023 drama. This tells of the efforts by Nike basketball expert Sonny Vaccaro (Matt Damon) in 1985, to resurrect the supposedly uncool brand by getting Michael Jordan to endorse their brand. He has first to sell his dubious colleagues on the idea, but most importantly, to sell Jordan’s mom, Deloris Jordan , played by Viola Davis(!), pivotal to getting Jordan himself. Jason Bateman, Chris Messina, Chris Tucker, Marlon Wayans, Gustaf Skarsgård and Ben Affleck also star, while Affleck directed. And this movie gets an impressive 92% on Rotten Tomatoes, and Charlotte O’Sullivan of the Guardian wrote “once you’ve made peace with those really narrow parameters, what you see on screen – ie virtually nothing of Jordan himself – kind of works.” Still, not too interesting for me. I’d rather watch Dating Amber, a 2020 comedy/drama. This takes place in 1995 rural Ireland, where 17 year-old Eddie(Fionn O’Shea) is regularly bullied, and accused of being gay. Eddie doesn’t really have a way of fighting back, except for pretending to like a girl, that doesn’t really work, and so his tough classmate Amber(Lola Petticrew), accused of being gay herself, comes up with an idea. The pair will pretend to be a couple before the community, going on dates and becoming friends, and finally ending in a jaunt to Dublin, complete with a trip to a gay bar for Eddie, and a meeting with an out college student for Amber. But while Amber becomes more comfortable with who she is, Eddie panics, especially as his father expect him to join the army, like he did. And so the pair break up publically, when Eddie slurs Amber with the d word. Sharon Horgan, Barry Ward, Simone Kirby, Evan O’Connor, Ian O’Reilly and Emma Willis also star, and David Freyne directed, along with writing the script. And this film was nominated for numerous awards in 2020, and went on to win Best Actor in a Supporting Role for Barry Ward, and Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Sharon Horgan at the 2021 Irish Film and Television Awards. And it gets an 94% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Guy Lodge of Variety saying “finally, Freyne has given us a romantic comedy in which the gay best friends are the leads, and it’s all the richer for it.” And I’m definitely watching. And, finally, Amazon has added The Delivered, a 2021 British historical drama. This takes place in 1657 Shropshire , on the rural farm of the Lye family, living a strict Puritan life, where Fanny Lye(Maxine Peake) lives under the thumb of her cruel husband John (Charles Dance). Until a young couple on the run from the law,Thomas(Freddie Fox) and Rebecca (Tanya Reynolds), come to their farm, and are given haven, that is. Because this new couple speak of their new religion (which will develop into Quakerism), and Fanny‘s awakening is earth-shaking, and liberating, too.Peter McDonald, Perry Fitzpatrick and Kenneth Collard also star, and Thomas Clay directed, along with writing the script. And this movie was nominated for multiple awards in 2021, and went on to win Best Original Score at the 2021 The Movie Music International Recognition Awards. And it gets an amazing 95% on Rotten Tomatoes, with David Stratton of The Australian wrote “here, the mist-shrouded farm and its environs are artfully photographed and framed, and the result is a film that is not only strong and uncompromising but also exceptionally beautiful.” I’m definitely tuning in.
So sit back and binge this weekend, on classics, old and new, on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Enjoy!