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The Best Stuff Coming To Netflix & Hulu In February

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Despite it being February, romance-themed and Black History Month-themed material is very sparse among these early February Netflix & Hulu suggestions. The closest might be the new “Into The Dark” installment, which turns romance into the stuff of horror.

So here are suggestions for those who will take a pass on catching the good (i.e. the even-numbered) classic “Star Trek” theatrical films. There’s a bonkers South Korean science fiction adventure, the return of a Spanish crime drama set in 1960s Barcelona, a documentary series about a Los Angeles hotel that has a century-long history of being a crime magnet, and Tiffany Haddish giving personally picked stand-up comics the spotlight. However, a soft spot has also been set aside for “Powerpuff Girls” creator Craig McCracken’s new superhero send-up.

Coming To Netflix

Rocks

February 1

Inception–Is this the Christopher Nolan movie that will make buying a few recreational pharmaceuticals necessary before you watch it?  Maybe.  Cobb (Leonardo di Caprio) steals ideas from other men by infiltrating their minds.  Now the thief has been hired by the wealthy Saito (Ken Watanabe) to create an idea in the mind of business rival Robert Fischer Jr. (Cillian Murphy) and do it so well that Fischer believes he came up with it.  The inception (as the process is called) requires Cobb to assemble a team which includes genius architect Ariadne (Elliot Page).  However, protecting Fischer and his mind are bodyguards both real and imaginary.  Add to the mix different levels of dreams and ever-shifting architecture and the results are mind-blowing visuals made more trippy if viewers consume the right drug.

Rocks–15-year-old East London teen makeup artist Shola aka Rocks discovers her mother has suddenly abandoned both her and her brother Emanuel.  Determined to avoid getting sucked into the foster care system, the teen tries creating a facade of normal life using a combination of stays at friends’ places and cheap hotel rooms.  But the pressure of maintaining this facade starts pushing Rocks away from the friends who could be her allies.  This crowd-pleaser from the London Film Festival should be considered the sleeper film of the month.

Shutter Island–Martin Scorsese adapts Dennis Lehane’s novel for the screen and creates another puzzler starring Leonardo di Caprio.  The title refers to an island that’s the site of an old Civil War fort repurposed into an institute for the criminally insane.  It’s 1954, and U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels (di Caprio) and partner Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo) have come here to solve a locked room mystery.  A child murderer has disappeared from her locked cell, and there seems no way she could have left the island.  But as the search continues, Teddy’s old emotional traumas from World War II start getting stirred up by the asylum.  Soon things get really weird.

February 2

Kid Cosmic

Kid Cosmic–Craig McCracken, creator of the classic animated series “The Powerpuff Girls” and “Foster’s Home For Imaginary Friends,” makes his Netflix debut with this new animated series.  In a small desert town in New Mexico, 12-year-old Kid has often dreamed he could be a great superhero.  When the boy discovers 5 Cosmic Stones Of Power inside a wrecked spaceship, he has the opportunity with his friends to make that dream come true.  Alien invaders have come to steal the Stones for themselves, and they need to be fought off.  Trouble is, Kid and his friends are really bad at being superheroes…     

Tiffany Haddish Presents They Ready Season 2–It’s the return of Tiffany Haddish’s Emmy-nominated comedy showcase.  For the newbies, Haddish brings on a half-dozen personally chosen stand-up comedians from across the stand-up landscape to perform a 15-20 minute set.  This mix of newbies and veterans includes Barbara Carlyle (“Def Jam Comedy 25”), Erin Jackson (“Late Night With Seth Myers”), and Dean Edwards (“Saturday Night Live”).

February 3

Firefly Lane–This adaptation of Kristin Hannah’s bestseller follows the lives of two friends over the course of 30 years.  Tully Hart (Katharine Heigl) is a glamorous journalist with a troubled personal past.  Kate Mularkey (Sarah Chalke) is a wife and mother.  The series interweaves three periods in these two friends’ lives:  middle age in 2003, working together at a Seattle TV station in the 1980s, and their teen years in the 1970s.

February 5

Hache

Hache Season 2–In 1960 Barcelona, ex-prostitute Helena has joined drug lord Malpica’s gang and has risen through the ranks to become a major heroin trafficker.  At the end of season 1, Helena (aka the titular Hache) has taken revenge for the betrayal of Malpica, but she’s been deposed from the top.  The new season starts up one year later, as Helena sees the creation of a heroin production lab as her ticket to rise again in the drug trade.  However, there are treacherous associates and a busybody relative who might screw up H’s plans.  

Little Big Women–Shoying’s (Chen Shu-fang) 70th birthday celebration takes an unexpected turn when news comes of the death of her long estranged husband Bochang.  But that news proves less disturbing than learning that a woman named Tsai stayed with him until the very end.  Shoying’s determination to learn more about Tsai and even forgive her might finally give Shoying the emotional closure she needs.  Chen took home a Golden Horse Award for Best Leading Actress for her performance.

Malcolm & Marie–Sam Levinson (creator of “Euphoria”) directs this tale of one very long night in a bad relationship. Film director Malcolm (John David Washington) is caught in the high of a successful film premiere.  Former aspiring actress Marie (Zendaya) simmers with apparently petty anger.  As the night wears on, the reasons for Marie’s anger get revealed…as well as the depth of Malcolm’s devotion to Marie.    

Space Sweepers

Space Sweepers–This South Korean science fiction action blockbuster is set in the year 2092.  Thanks to Earth’s increasing uninhabitability, humanity has used space elevators and orbital stations to re-settle just outside the planet’s atmosphere.  But with human civilization comes the production of garbage.  The film’s title refers to a crew of junkers who hunt for usable pieces of space debris for resale.  One of the crew’s hauls turns up an android girl who turns out to be a key part of a plan to hide bombs among the space settlements.  Get ready for some wild craziness, including seeing a robot successfully throw a spear at a spaceship.  

February 10

Crime Scene: The Vanishing At The Cecil Hotel–Director Joe Berlinger (“Paradise Lost”) launches a new documentary series that visits infamous contemporary crime scenes.  The series aims to cut through the mythology surrounding those places to get at the truth of what happened there.  Downtown Los Angeles’ Cecil Hotel has a nearly century long history of being linked to crime, ranging from untimely deaths to providing a residence for serial killers.  In 2013, Canadian college student and hotel guest Elisa Lam vanished into thin air.  There were no signs Lam had checked out of the hotel.  The only clue to Lam’s disappearance was elevator security footage showing her acting oddly.  The case went cold until Lam’s corpse was discovered floating in one of the Cecil’s rooftop water tanks.  Officially, Lam accidentally drowned.  But could her death have been something other than an accident?    

February 11

Capitani Season 1–In this hit crime drama from Luxembourg, detective Luc Capitani goes to North Luxembourg to investigate the murder of a teenage girl.  The girl’s corpse was found in the forest near the rural village of Manscheid.  However, Capitani’s efforts to find answers runs into the closed and protective attitude of the villagers.  Whether the detective likes it or not, he’ll need the help of intrepid local policewoman Elsa Ley.

Middle Of Nowhere–Ava du Vernay’s second film concerns the strained marriage of Ruby and Derek.  Ruby’s a night shift nurse whose life has been put on hold thanks to her long trips to visit her imprisoned husband Derek.  The convict may see himself as a victim, but he seems to be a magnet for trouble.  Ruby had given up med school for the sake of Derek.  Can a growing affection for bus driver Brian (David Oyelowo) offer Ruby a way to move forward with her life?

Red Dot

Red Dot–In this Swedish thriller, the pregnant Nadja and her husband David have gone on a camping trip in the Swedish hills to rekindle their marriage.  However, their trip gets interrupted when the red dot of a rifle’s laser sight suddenly lands on them, followed by flying bullets.  As the couple flees further into the wilderness to stay alive, they try to find out who’s shooting at them and why.  

Squared Love—In this Polish romantic comedy, a well-known supermodel keeps a little secret.  When the cameras aren’t around, she’s a simple schoolteacher.  Enter into the model’s life a celebrity journalist with a reputation as a womanizer.  Can she still keep her secret after romance blossoms between them?

February 12

Hate by Dani Rovira–In this comedy special, Spanish comedian Rovira delivers a monologue where he humorously hates on vegans, Instagram users, dog owners, mothers, and more.

 

Coming To Hulu

February 1

Affliction–Paul Schrader directs this adaptation of Russell Banks’ novel.  Wade Whitehouse (Nick Nolte, in a very much non-alpha male role) serves as a small New Hampshire town’s sheriff.  The death of a rich man during a hunting trip makes Whitehouse suspect foul play is involved.  Whitehouse’s investigation winds up stirring personal questions about the failures of his life, particularly his very troubled relationship with his abusive alcoholic father Glen (James Coburn).

Possessor

Possessor–Thanks to a high-tech cranial implant, a trained professional can control the mind of an unsuspecting victim to do practically anything.  Tasya Vos (Andrea Rieseborough) is one such professional.  Her newest assignment: inhabiting the mind of corporate drone Colin Tate to murder industrial big shot John Parse (Sean Bean).  While Vos completes the killing, the real problem is whether Tate is aware of Vos’ presence and is fighting her.  Directed by Brandon Cronenberg (yes, as in son of well-known director David Cronenberg).

You Laugh But It’s True–Before Trevor Noah became the host of “The Daily Show,” he was a stand-up comedian in South Africa.  This intimate documentary follows Noah as he prepares for his first one-man show.  Noah’s humor is based on his being the son of a South African interracial couple.  However, Noah faces a number of challenges that American stand-up comics don’t face: a very underdeveloped comedy scene, trash-talking from fellow comics, and still-lingering racist attitudes.

February 2

The School That Tried To End Racism–South London’s Glenthorne High School becomes a guinea pig for implementation of an American program to teach children about the existence and effects of unconscious racial bias towards different communities.  Can these students learn to recognize but not penalize people who are different from themselves?

February 12

Into The Dark: Tentacles

Into The Dark: Tentacles–It’s the Valentine’s Day installment of this holiday-themed horror anthology.  Tara and Sam are a young Los Angeles couple who fall head over heels in love with each other.  The next step is entwining their lives to form a couple.  But concerns about losing oneself in the other and who’s calling the shots soon take a very terrifying turn.

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Peter Wong

Peter Wong

I've been reviewing films for quite a few years now, principally for the online publication Beyond Chron. My search for unique cinematic experiences and genre dips have taken me everywhere from old S.F. Chinatown movie theaters showing first-run Jackie Chan movies to the chilly slopes of Park City. Movies having cat pron instantly ping my radar.

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