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All The Cool Stuff Coming To Hulu In January

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It’s a new year! So what can you watch on Hulu in January when you get tired of seeing yet another New Year’s celebration? Those in a “say goodbye to the old year” mood might be specially ready for the start of the farewell seasons of two beloved shows. Those who associate January with returning to school might take consolation in either the return of an acclaimed dramedy set at a perpetually underfunded elementary school or else a teen sex comedy featuring Margaret Cho and Fortune Feimster as part of the cast. For those who prefer older movies to newer stuff, there’s a nice paranoid conspiracy thriller starring Robert Redford and Faye Dunaway as well as a semi-autobiographical divorce dramedy written and directed by Noah Baumbach.

Since January is also the month for celebrating Martin Luther King’s birthday, why not check out a dramatic mini-series showing how one Mamie Till-Mobeley channeled her personal grief into jumpstarting the Civil Rights Movement? Consider it a nationally broadcast F.U. to white conservatives who prefer to avoid social accountability for the South’s racist legacy.

The Duchess

January 1

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Black Sunday–This political thriller based on a novel by Thomas Harris (“The Silence Of The Lambs”) comes to cinematic life under the direction of John Frankenheimer.  Embittered and suicidal Vietnam vet Michael Lander (Bruce Dern) wants to use the Goodyear blimp he regularly pilots over NFL games to one day take as many innocents with him as possible.  That desire plays into the hands of Black September terrorist Dahlia Iyad, who wants to launch a suicide bombing attack on a Super Bowl game which the President of the United States is attending.  Mossad counter-terrorism agent David Kabakov is trying to stop the Black September plan, but he’s several steps behind Iyad.  Some viewers will call the film a nifty thriller, others will be turned off by the film’s use of Palestinians as villains.

The Duchess–Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, was Princess Diana’s great aunt four times removed.  Despite being treated as chattel during her lifetime, she became the most famous woman in England.  Her accomplishments included support for both the American and French Revolutions, a campaigner for one Whig Prime Minister, and a willingness to speak publicly on politics at a time when women had no political power.  Keira Knightley brings Georgiana to life in this biopic with extraordinary aplomb.

Hondo–This John Wayne Western was unavailable for nearly four decades thanks to legal disputes with the Wayne estate.  It’s the only classically made Western to be shot in 3-D.  Hondo Lane (Wayne) is an Army cavalry officer who befriends settler Angie Lowe (Geraldine Page) and her son.  Lane tries to convince Lowe and her son to leave the area given a prospective Apache uprising.  However, the settler mother awaits her absent husband’s return. She’s also convinced her history of living peacefully in the area will shield her family from trouble.  Needless to say, if Mrs. Lowe was right, there wouldn’t be any movie.

The King Of Comedy–One of the seminal Martin Scorsese-Robert De Niro collaborations is this dark comedy about the very thin line between autograph hunters and assassins.  Nerdy Rupert Pupkin (Robert De Niro) is a fan obsessed with late-night TV talk show host Jerry Langford (Jerry Lewis).  His big ambition in life is to get a standup comedy slot on Langford’s show and demonstrate to the world he’s a star.  However, Langford’s continual rejections of the fame-seeker leads Pupkin to work with friend Masha (Sandra Bernhard) to kidnap the talk show host.  But will this act result in the would-be comedian finding the public recognition he seeks?

Master & Commander: The Far Side of the World

Master And Commander: The Far Side Of The World—Peter Weir directed this historic action film based on a couple of novels from Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin series.  It’s 1805 during the Napoleonic Wars.  Captain Jack Aubrey (Russell Crowe), commander of the H.M.S. Surprise, has been ordered to head to the South American coast to capture the French privateer Acheron.  However, the French ship’s stronger hull makes it difficult for the Surprise to even damage the opposing ship.  Mishaps such as near-successful ambushes by the Acheron and becalming at sea further complicate Aubrey’s mission.  But if the Surprise fails, the British whaling fleet will be doing its best sitting duck impression for the Acheron’s guns.

Red Eye–In this suspense tale, Wes Craven uses a more familiar sort of monster to provide the chills.  Hotel manager Lisa Reisert (Rachel McAdams) meets Jackson Rippner (Cillian Murphy) while waiting for a red eye flight to take her back to Miami.  When Rippner shares a neighboring seat with Reisert, it’s not a coincidence.  He’s actually part of a domestic terrorist organization planning to assassinate Charles Keefe, the U.S. Deputy Secretary for Homeland Security who’s a guest at Reisert’s hotel.  The manager will either help Rippner set Keefe and his family up to be killed or her father will be killed by a hitman.  Can Reisert somehow outwit Rippner?

The Squid And The Whale–Noah Baumbach scripted and directed this semi-autobiographical tale of two boys caught in the middle of their parents’ messy divorce.  It’s 1980s Park Slope Brooklyn, and writers Bernard (Jeff Daniels) and Joan (Laura Linney) Berkman are getting divorced.  By arrangement, teenaged Walt (Jesse Eisenberg) will live with Bernard while younger Frank (Owen Kline) lives with Joan.  However, both boys have problems dealing with their parents’ still active sexuality and their own burgeoning hormones.

Three Days Of The Condor–On an ordinary day, CIA analyst Joe Turner (Robert Redford) aka Condor returns from a lunch run to discover his fellow analysts at the office have been massacred.  After nearly being murdered during an attempt to bring him in from the cold, Turner realizes he doesn’t know who he can trust at the CIA.  The agent’s efforts to stay alive and find out why the killings took place involve his taking a plucky young woman named Kathy (Faye Dunaway) hostage and using her apartment as a safe house.  Sydney Pollack re-teams with Redford to direct this nifty spy thriller.

Three Days Of The Condor

January 3

The Year Of The Everlasting Storm–Seven directors from around the world (including Jafar Panahi, Laura Poitras, and Apichatpong Weersethakul) contribute seven short films about life under COVID.  The shorts deal with such subjects as a small family trying to live in small quarters without driving each other insane; the discovery of a cache of letters from flu epidemic-struck 1926 New Orleans; and a single father whose efforts to gain custody of his children are complicated by dealing with COVID.

January 5

Abbott Elementary (Season 1 Pt. 2)–The ensemble mockumentary created by and starring Quinta Brunson returns.  For the newbies, Brunson plays a member of a group of teachers working at the titular perpetually underfunded school.  Janine Teagues (Brunson) believes her optimistic resourcefulness can help her make a difference at her job.  But school bureaucracy and systemic problems present huge barriers to her efforts. 

This Is Us Season 6–It’s the final season of this often wrenching portrait of life in the Pearson family.  In this final chapter, see Kate and Toby’s marriage come to an end, the end of Kevin’s love story, and Rebecca and Miguel finally coming together.

January 6

Black-ish

Black-ish Season 8–Kenya Barris’ clan inspired this comedy series about the Johnsons, an upper-middle-class Black family trying with varying degrees of success to square their economic privilege with their relationship to Black culture.  The series is set to end this season, but Barris and the cast plan to end the Johnsons’ story on their terms.  Kicking things off is a tale of parents Dre and Bow preparing to host a dinner with their guest, former First Lady Michelle Obama.  However, the Johnson children have no intention of being cut out of this special occasion…

January 7

Women Of The Movement–In this historical docudrama, Tony Award-winner Adrienne Warren stars as Mamie Till-Mobley.  In 1955, Mrs Till-Mobley did not expect how life-changing her teen son’s visit to relatives in Mississippi would become.  Her son Emmett gets beaten to death by white men for allegedly whistling at a white woman.  The brutal murder pushes this mother to personalize the price of unchecked racism to the world…and spark the Civil Rights Movement.  Don’t be surprised if the GOP-controlled states which have outlawed Critical Race Theory try to publicly handwave away Till’s historical murder.

January 10

Ailey–This immersive biographical portrait of legendary dancer/choreographer Alvin Ailey uses both the choreographer’s own words (via clips from old interviews and some of his performances) plus a commissioned tribute to Ailey’s life to tell his story.  It’s a life path that starts with a Texas childhood and goes through training under Louis Horton to Ailey’s eventually establishing his own company of dancers.  

January 14

Bergman Island–Acclaimed director Mia Hansen-Love tells this semi-autobiographical tale of a pair of American filmmakers spending a working summer on Faro Island.  This island happens to be the one where legendary director Ingmar Bergman lived on and shot some of his most celebrated films.  Filmmakers Chris (Vicky Krieps) and Tony (Tim Roth) hope their stay will provide inspiration for their next films.  But while Tony is getting his Bergman fanboy on, Chris is being frequently reminded of her first love.  Cracks soon appear in the couple’s relationship.  

Bergman Island

Sex Appeal–Hulu and American High productions collaborate on this new teen sex comedy.  Avery Hansen-White has made a practice out of avoiding doing things she can’t excel at.  When her long-distance boyfriend hints the upcoming STEM conference would be a great time to take their relationship to the next level, she sets out to master her sexuality before the conference.  But learning about the mechanics of sexual relations isn’t the same thing as being in a relationship…  Other cast members include Margaret Cho, Fortune Feimster, and Paris Jackson. 

January 15

Bad Rap–Ever wonder what Awkwafina was like before she hit it big?  This documentary looks at Awkwafina and three other Asian-Americans trying to succeed in the hip-hop world.  Unfortunately, these would-be rappers face dismissal by the industry and fans for “lack of authenticity” and pervasive cultural stereotypes (e.g. they’re into math, they’re bad drivers).  Can they forge their own artistic path and find success?

Marjorie Prime–In director Michael Almereyda’s adaptation of Jordan Harrison’s titular play, Marjorie is a woman in her 80s who leans on the 40-ish Walter to recall her past before age eats away her memory.  But Walter is a Prime, a therapeutic hologram who’s a reincarnation of Marjorie’s long-dead husband.  Marjorie’s recollections improve Walter Prime’s performance, yet Marjorie’s adult children are seriously divided on Walter’s presence in their mother’s house.

Rewind

Rewind–Director Sasha Joseph Neulinger was an incredibly gifted child who displayed off the charts intelligence in his younger days.  So why did he abruptly withdraw from school work?  In an effort to find out what sparked that action, the director digs through old home video footage, interviews with family members, and personal memory to find out what happened.  Child sex abuse turns out to be an important key to answering Neulinger’s question.  But who committed those acts and can they be brought to justice turn out to be equally relevant questions.

Zero Days–Director Alex Gibney’s documentary begins with the story of a joint black ops U.S.-Israeli cyberattack against an Iranian nuclear facility.  The attack, which used a malware virus known as Stuxnet, did succeed in seriously damaging its target.  The only trouble was, Stuxnet escaped the nuclear facility and what happened next would illustrate just how vulnerable much of the world’s vital electronic systems were to cyberattack.  Gibney’s quietly terrifying film introduces viewers to the industrial civilization destroying threat they should be more aware of.

January 19

Your Lie In April–Gifted pianist Kousei Arima goes into a downward spiral following the death of his mother Saki Arima.  His spiral gets so bad that even two years later he still can’t bring himself to play the piano.  Arima’s colorless life gets shaken up by the arrival of beautiful violinist Kaori Miyazono.  Her presence sets him on a journey to face playing music again.  Along the way, Arima will learn that making music involves more than perfectly hitting notes…and the right melody can evoke April’s fresh spring air.  

January 21

Single Drunk Female–In this dark comedy series, irreverent alcoholic Samantha Fink has an embarrassing public breakdown.  Her life quickly heads on a downward spiral that could end in jail time.  To turn things around, Samantha is forced to move back home to her mother’s place so she can sober up.  But what was originally intended as a temporary fix may be a more permanent arrangement.  Can the alcoholic’s BFF and mother help her learn the difference between being a fun party girl and being a walking disaster?  

Single Drunk Female

January 28

Grown-ish Season 4B–In the second half of the “Black-ish” spin-off’s new season, the countdown to graduation from Cal U has started for Zoey and her friends.  The only trouble is, these seniors still haven’t worked out their next steps in life.  In the meantime, watch out for wild parties and unexpected hookups.  And will Zoey, Aaron, and Luca continue to bring unneeded drama into each other’s lives?  

January 29

Stop And Go–Is it possible to do a comedy about life under COVID?  Directors Mallory Everton and Stephen Meek aim to try.  Sisters Jamie and Blake Jerikovic had plans for an exciting year of travel to such places as Rome and Coachella.  However,  the onset of the COVID pandemic brought those plans to a screeching halt.  Stuck together, the sisters embark on a routine of protecting against COVID, which involves in part scrubbing their arms and sterilizing their packages.  Then news comes that the nursing home where their beloved grandma is staying has suffered a COVID outbreak.  Jamie and Blake set off on a mad cross-country race against time to save their grandmother.  But while they’re on their trip, can Blake still keep her relationship with her hot pre-pandemic Tinder date alive?  For that matter, can Jamie effectively supervise over the phone the nine-year-old taking care of the class mice?

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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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