Even More Great Netflix Gems to Keep You Sane Right Now
The cream of Netflix’s offerings in the second half of May include a flower sculpture competition, new comedy specials from Patton Oswalt and Hannah Gadsby, and Steve Carell turning the Orange Skull’s newest military initiative into a workplace comedy. There’s also a highly praised thriller starring Adam Sandler which frankly bored this writer to tears. See our list of the best things coming out during the first half of May on Netflix right here.
United 93 – Paul Greenglass’ verite recreation of what happened during the titular flight on September 11, 2001 had been derided in some circles as coming out “too soon” after the events of 9/11. What might have offended such critics more is the film’s refusal to demonize or glorify any of the participants in the events depicted. Instead, the director re-creates the feeling of what it was like to be an ordinary person caught up in the flow of events and having little information regarding the bigger things happening around you. Don’t come to this film looking for backstories or simple-minded analyses of the participants’ motivations or even knowing who’s who except in general terms. Quite a few of the actors in this film are recreating the roles they performed on September 11.
The Big Flower Fight – Get ready for your new Netflix reality show obsession. Take ten pairs of florists, sculptors, and garden designers. Set them competing to create gigantic art pieces using flowers. For the ultimate winning team, one of their sculptures will be displayed at London’s Royal Botanical Gardens. Since comedian Vic Reeves (“Vic Reeves’ Big Night Out”) and Natasia Demetriou (“What We Do In The Shadows”) will be hosting the show, one question might be who will make an Edward Scissorhands joke first.
Patton Oswalt: I Love Everything – In his third stand-up comedy special for Netflix, the veteran comedian talks about everything from handling the challenges of being in his 50s to the burning question of “is it possible to be both a responsible father and a ‘Star Wars’ fan?” Frankly, this entry could just as well have said “A new Patton Oswalt comedy special? Yes please!” But there are readers who need to know as well that Oswalt played the voice of “Ratatouille”’s Remy and the Koenigs from “Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.”
Trumbo – Bryan Cranston stars in this biographical drama. In the 1940s, Dalton Trumbo (Cranston) is one of Hollywood’s top screenwriters. However, his open and unapologetic membership in the Communist Party leads to his being hauled before the House Unamerican Activities Committee to talk about alleged Communist infiltration of Hollywood. Trumbo gets a prison sentence for refusing to cooperate with Congress. But what’s worse is his discovering that Hollywood studios won’t hire him and Trumbo’s Hollywood enemies want to permanently ruin him.
Control Z – This TV series from Mexico has been described as a cross between “Gossip Girl” and “Black Mirror.” It takes place at a high school thrown into turmoil by a mysterious hacker. Said hacker has been busily publicly airing the students’ juiciest secrets. To save her friends and fellow classmates, student Sofia takes it upon herself to hunt the hacker down.
The Lovebirds – Michael Showalter directs this highly anticipated comedy/thriller starring Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani. The stars play a couple on the verge of breaking up. But when they accidentally get embroiled in a murder mystery, they become prime suspects. As the couple frantically try to solve the murder, they also need to figure out whether they should stay together if they ever get out of this mess. Coronavirus cancellations prevented the film from being shown at SXSW or even having a theatrical release. Here’s hoping Showalter’s film finally screens and is worth the wait.
Ne Zha – Feel that “Frozen” would have benefitted from lots of spit, snot, and farts? Then this blockbuster Chinese animated fantasy definitely has what you need. The title character happens to be a demonic scamp whose penchant for destruction comes from his being infused from birth with the power of the Demon Pearl. Supposedly, he’s fated to be killed by a lightning bolt. But is this fate pre-ordained or can he change it despite the manipulations of gods and monsters?
Uncut Gems – Adam Sandler wowed critics and audiences with this Safdie Brothers thriller set in 2012 New York City. Fast-talking diamond dealer and gambling addict Howard Ratner (Sandler) lives as if he’s juggling chainsaws 24/7. He owes $100,000 in gambling debts to his loan shark brother-in-law Arno, who’s getting increasingly aggressive about being paid back. His rocky marriage to Dinah is not helped by his extra-marital relationship with his employee Julia. The arrival of an incredibly rare Ethiopian black opal propels Howard into making a series of increasingly risky bets in hopes of cleaning the proverbial slate. Frankly, Sandler’s fast-talking and risk-taking character left this writer cold rather than grudgingly admiring. Waiting for the expected hammer to drop hard on Howard seemed to take forever. But readers are free to disagree.
Hannah Gadsby: Douglas – In 2018, Australian comedian Hannah Gadsby’s standup set “Nanette” captured the popular zeitgeist after debuting on Netflix. Many accolades and awards later, the comedian returns with what she calls a friendlier show than “Nanette.” (FYI, “Douglas” happens to share the name of one of Gadsby’s dogs.) Then again, in the new show, Gadsby takes a hammer to the patriarchy, razzes anti-vaxxers, discusses Renaissance art, and talk about the dog park.
I’m No Longer Here – Ulises Samperio is a teen Cholombiano. Members of this urban tribe of dance fanatics specialize in dancing to slowed down Colombian Cumbia. But when a gang attack leaves Ulises the sole survivor, he’s sent To New York City for his safety. However, despite his best efforts to build a new life, the former Monterrey resident finds that America only offers him loneliness and alienation. The risk of getting murdered by a Monterrey cartel starts to seem preferable to staying in America…
Dorohedoro – The new body horror TV anime series finally arrives in the US. In the strange post-apocalyptic world known as The Hole, Caiman is on a quest. Amnesia has left him ignorant of his past. He also wants to find the sorcerer who cursed him with the head of a lizard. (The sorcerer punching part probably comes after Caiman gets returned to normal.) Accompanying Caiman on his quest through this strange world is his gyoza-loving friend Nikaido. The companionship will be welcome for Caiman, as they will encounter lots of sorcerers in The Hole. (For the curious, a Reddit poster says the title is a bit of Japanese word play which mashes together the words for “mud, vomit, and nausea.”)
Space Force–Comedian Steve Carell reunites with his “The Office” co-creator Greg Daniels on this workplace comedy inspired by the Orange Skull’s new military branch. Decorated Air Force pilot Mark R. Naird (Carell) gets tapped to run the titular outfit. Despite his skepticism, he uproots his family to a remote Colorado base where he joins a group of scientists and spacemen to fulfill the White House’s mandate. Their job is to get American boots back on the Moon ASAP and establish total American planetary dominance. However Naird’s going to have some unexpected problems, such as a wife (Lisa Kudrow) who’s finally fed up with prioritizing her husband’s career over her own needs.