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Even More Great Stuff Coming To Hulu And Netflix This Month

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February may be the shortest month of the year.  But it’s certainly not short on offering more great new stuff on Hulu and Netflix to round out the month.  One of 2020’s most critically acclaimed films gets a simultaneous theatrical/streaming release.  Brexit inspires a science fiction adventure series set in a future fractured Europe that’s reverted to the Middle Ages.  Learn the true story of the largest art fraud in U.S. history.  Or get reacquainted with one of the greatest soccer players ever.

For those who feel a new film is an old film they haven’t seen yet, there’s some good stuff here too.  From the director team behind a popular Marvel movie comes this story of the travails of a Dominican carpenter who wants to be a professional American baseball player.  Science fiction action fans can’t go wrong with the better cinematic adaptation of a famed British comic character.  And for the romantically inclined (this is Valentine’s Day month), there’s Guillermo del Toro’s Academy Award-winning tale of human woman and fish-man love.

The United States vs. Billie Holiday

February 13

Hip Hop Uncovered (Hulu)–This documentary series offers portraits of five behind-the-scenes players in the world of rap.  The subjects include music executive Deb Antney (who helped launch the career of Nicki Minaj), Big U (former L.A. gang leader who founded an organization to help keep kids out of the gang life), and Jacques “Haitian Jack” Agnant (who’s been alleged to be involved in assassinating Tupac Shakur).

Monsoon (Netflix)–Kit (Henry Golding, “Crazy Rich Asians”) is a gay British-Vietnamese expatriate returning to Vietnam after an absence of nearly three decades.  He’s there to find a place to scatter his parents’ ashes.  But finding a good spot is the least of his problems.  Decades away from Vietnam have left him figuratively cut off.  He can’t speak Vietnamese, and the country has significantly changed from its boat people period.  Perhaps Kit’s growing intimacy with Lewis (Parker Sawyers, “Southside With You”) will unlock his fears of intimacy and being in a relationship.  

February 14

Namaste Wahala (Netflix)–Want a little something different rom-com-wise for Valentine’s Day?  How about this tale of love at first sight between Indian investment banker Raj and Nigerian lawyer Didi?  The good news is Raj and Didi are definitely compatible.  The bad news is they still have to convince parents and other family members who are sure that their racial and cultural differences will sink their relationship.

February 15

The Shape Of Water

The Shape Of Water (Hulu)–1962 Cold War America is the setting for Guillermo del Toro’s Academy Award-winning dark fantasy romance.  Lonely mute Eliza (Sally Hawkins) works as a cleaning lady at a secret government laboratory.  One day, a new “asset” arrives at the lab, a fish man-like creature (Doug Jones) captured in South America.  Despite their distinct physical differences, a connection develops between Eliza and the fish-man.  But when the government’s plans for the fish-man take a nasty turn, the cleaning lady acts to prevent harm from coming to her lover.  Cat lovers may want to skip a particular scene involving the fish-man and a cat.

Southern Gothic (Hulu)–The American South is the setting for this true crime documentary series.  Cases featured include the disappearance of three teens that eventually leads to the area’s largest manhunt and an unfaithful wife who figures murdering her husband is more palatable than getting a divorce.  

February 17

Amend: The Fight For America (Netflix)–Will Smith narrates this docuseries which examines the history of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  When the amendment was passed in 1868, it promised liberty and equal protection for all persons.  But over the years, America has constantly struggled to live up to the amendment’s ideals…with admittedly varying degrees of success.  The series has such actors as Mahershala Ali, Diane Lane, and Samuel L. Jackson to bring life to the words of Frederick Doglass, Andrew Johnson, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and others who’ve fought over the amendment’s meaning and application.

Eeb Allay Ooo! (Netflix)–No, the title of this Indian film is not an obscure Hindi phrase.  It’s an approximation of what Delhi monkey repellers (yes, that’s an actual job) say to chase off rhesus macaques.  Anjani, a young man from the country with no employment prospects, has just been hired as a monkey repeller.  Family connections may have gotten Anjani the job, but he’s utterly unsuited at using traditional repelling methods.  Yet trying outside the box methods gets Anjani chewed out by his manager.  The young man soon realizes that life in the city involves people lording it over those weaker than themselves.  But monkey repellers can’t lord it over anyone as they’re the lowest of the low.   

Logan Lucky (Hulu)–Is it time to give this Steven Soderbergh heist comedy (which flopped on initial release) another look?  West Virginia miner Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum) gets laid off from his job thanks to the proverbial pre-existing medical condition.  Financial desperation pushes him to remedy his money problems by planning a heist during the Coca Cola 600, one of the year’s biggest NASCAR races.  To pull off the job, Logan recruits such people as his Iraq vet brother Clyde (Adam Driver) and (somewhat bats**t) explosives expert Joe Bang (Daniel Craig, really sporting a Southern accent). 

February 18

Good Trouble

Good Trouble Season 3 (Hulu)–For those of you just tuning in, this series is a spinoff from “The Fosters.”  Foster sisters Callie and Mariana have moved together to Los Angeles to have a go at adulting.  In the new season, Mariana’s still dealing with navigating the male-dominated tech industry world in her Speckulate job.  Callie’s new move in her legal career is taking a job with tough defense attorney Kathleen Gale.  And the off-the-job drama for these two sisters adds another level of personal complication.  The series’ title comes from the idea that standing up for what you believe in means making noise and getting into trouble.

February 19

I Care A Lot (Netflix)–In this dark comedy, professional court-appointed guardian Marla Grayson (Rosamund Pike) has made a sweet racket out of legally stealing the assets of the elderly wards under her care.  Her plans to steal the assets of new victim Jennifer Peterson (Dianne Wiest) runs into a big problem.  Peterson has her own dark secret, plus she has ties to the very loose cannon gangster Roman Lunyov (Peter Dinklage).

Nomadland (Hulu)–Your must-see film of the month is 2020’s most critically acclaimed drama, based on Jessica Bruder’s nonfiction book of the same title.  Director Chloe Zhao’s film is being shown on a simultaneous streaming and limited theatrical release format.  In the wake of the Great Recession, Fern (Frances McDormand) has lost her job, her home, and her husband.  She decides to live in her van and drive around Nevada and elsewhere looking for seasonal work.  Fern soon finds a community of nomads like herself.  These veteran (and real-life) traveling workers offer her both practical advice and personal true stories of their own life struggles.  Here’s hoping Fern survives and even deals with the death of her husband.  (And yes, Zhao is directing the upcoming Marvel movie “The Eternals.”)

Nomadland

Sugar (Hulu)–Long before Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck directed Brie Larson in “Captain Marvel,” they helmed this touching examination of the shortcomings of the American dream.  The title is the nickname of Dominican carpenter Miguel Santos.  With his promising pitching arm, he trains at a U.S.-sponsored baseball academy and dreams of being a top professional baseball pitcher.  When Sugar gets drafted to pitch for an Iowa team, it seems he’s on his way.  But thanks to isolation via the language barrier and pressure from hungry recruits and entitled fans, Sugar starts having doubts about his supposed dream career path.

Tribes Of Europa (Netflix)–From the producers of “Dark” comes this post-apocalyptic series inspired by Brexit.  In 2074, thanks to a mysterious global disaster the nations of the European Union have disintegrated into separate medieval-level warring tribes.  Klano, Liv, and Elja are three siblings from the pacifistic Origine tribe.  They get forcibly separated from each other and find themselves involved in various struggles to build a New Europe.  The major contending tribes are the Crimson Republic (the guardians of what’s left of civilization), the Crows (a dictatorial tribe dedicated to enslaving other tribes and partying hearty), and the Atlantians (a mysterious tribe whose technological advances have allowed them to survive the global disaster unscathed).

February 20

Classmates Minus (Netflix)–In this Taiwanese dark comedy, four high-school friends reunite at a bubble tea shop and reveal their midlife crises and life disappointments to each other.  One works hard at a job yet feels unrewarded.  Another discovers the girl he worshipped in high school has become a prostitute.  And a classmate who once dreamed of being a film director is now a legislative candidate.  Their struggles mirror the grim reality faced by more than a few Taiwanese nowadays.

February 23

Dredd

Dredd (Hulu)–This superb adaptation of the seminal “2000 A.D.” comics series “Judge Dredd” had two commercial strikes against it:  the lingering bad taste of Sylvester Stallone’s adaptation and unfair negative comparisons to the action classic “The Raid.”  It initially flopped commercially but has since become a cult classic.  For the newbies: in a post-apocalyptic future, humanity’s survivors are crowded into Mega-Cities.  To handle rampant street crime, the Judges enforce law and order by acting as a simultaneous judge, jury, and executioner.  Hard-nosed Judge Joe Dredd (Karl Urban, “The Boys”) is the toughest of these street judges.  He’s been tasked with a last chance evaluation of rookie Judge Cassandra Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) whose psi powers might make her an asset to the Judges.  But both Judges are truly put to the test when a murder investigation at the Peach Trees Mega-Block turns into all-out war with a drug gang led by the ruthless Ma-Ma (Lena Headey).   

Made You Look: A True Story About Fake Art (Netflix)–Knoedler & Company had a reputation for being one of New York City’s most respected art galleries.  So when the gallery started selling “previously unseen” works by Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and others, Knoedler’s prestigious clients were more than happy to pay Ann Freedman’s company millions for those pieces.  Then it was discovered these artworks were fakes and the clients were now victims of the largest art fraud in American history.  Barry Avrich’s documentary goes into the hows and whys of what happened.

Pele (Netflix)–Brazilian soccer prodigy.  International icon.  Political advocate for the less fortunate.  All these phrases describe Edson Arantes do Nascimento, better known to the world as Pele.  This documentary traces Pele’s 1960s rise from soccer superstar to Brazilian national hero against the political events rocking Brazil during that same period.  Pele himself appears throughout the film to reflect on his career, and Pele’s former teammates and admirers also put in their two cents .

February 24

Two Sentence Horror Stories Season 2 (Netflix)–This CW horror anthology series offers scary spins on such contemporary problems as school shootings, immigrant deportations, and homophobia.

February 25

High-Rise Invasion (Netflix)–In this anime, high school student Yuri Honjo finds herself stuck in an alternate world where skyscrapers are connected by suspension bridges.  Her real problem comes from the masked figures who inhabit this world.  They hunt down and slay the unwary and the careless.  In this kill or be killed situation, can Yuri survive long enough to somehow bring an end to this nightmare world?  But what cost must she pay to accomplish this goal?

Snowfall Season 4 (Hulu)–Late director John Singleton created this series set in 1980s Los Angeles, which follows the lives of various people impacted by the first crack epidemic.  The new season takes the story to 1985.  There’s still high popular demand for crack.  Four different peoples’ lives will fatefully intersect in this season:  a 20-year-old drug dealer, a Mexican luchador, a CIA agent, and the niece of a Mexican crime boss. 

Snowfall

February 26

Captain Fantastic (Netflix)–Leftist Ben Cash (Viggo Mortensen) has been successfully raising his six children off the grid in rural Washington.  But when Ben’s bipolar wife commits suicide, he packs up the family and drives to New Mexico to attend his wife’s funeral.  However, the family’s cohesion begins to unravel as the children are exposed to the outside world for the first time and Ben’s own fitness as a parent gets attacked.  

Our Idiot Brother (Netflix)–Ned (Paul Rudd) doesn’t lie or cheat or hold grudges.  After a prison stay for innocently selling pot to a uniformed cop, he finds himself homeless.  Ned appeals to his three sisters (Emily Mortimer, Elizabeth Banks, and Zooey Deschanel) for help, but his guileless honesty winds up inadvertently causing trouble for his family.

The United States vs. Billie Holiday (Hulu)–Lee Daniels directs from a script by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks.  After famed jazz singer Billie Holiday (Audra Day) gives her iconic performance of the anti-lynching song “Strange Fruit,” the Federal Department of Narcotics initiates a sting operation to take down the civil rights activist.  Key to the plan is federal undercover agent Jimmy Fletcher, who isn’t going to let his affair with the singer stop him from busting her. 

 

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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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