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All The Cool Stuff Coming To Hulu In February

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Hulu this February offers a little bit of this and a little bit of that. There are new seasons of popular favorites “Snowfall” and “Rick And Morty.” Catch a classic crime drama that’s part of the National Film Registry or one of Sacha Baron Cohen’s notorious turns as Kazakh reporter Borat. And while you won’t see the dick of the Amphibian Man from “The Shape Of Water,” you will get to hear Tommy Lee’s talking penis in “Pam and Tommy.”

So expect some pleasant surprises among this month’s offerings. 

The French Connection

February 1

A Better Life–Chris Weitz (“About A Boy”) directs this modern day Los Angeles-set drama about the odyssey of an undocumented Mexican immigrant gardener and his teenage son.  Carlos works a hand-to-mouth existence as a hardworking gardener for wealthy Los Angeles residents.  An opportunity to better his life emerges after his boss Blasco sells him his gardening business.  With the business’ equipment and contacts, things are looking up for the hardworking man…until his gardening truck gets stolen.  The search for the stolen vehicle will take Carlos and his son Luis to those parts of L.A. where under-the-table workers are employed and gangs operate.

Arctic–Overgard’s (Mads Mikkelsen) plane has crashed in the middle of the Arctic wilderness.  He’s alone, but has enough resources to survive inside the remains of his plane until help arrives.  However, his plans change considerably after a helicopter attempting to rescue him also crashes.  The only survivor of that crash is a young woman left in a coma.  To save her life, he’ll need to drag her for days on a sled through killer terrain and punishing weather conditions to hopefully reach a seasonal station.  Can Overgard’s desperate journey succeed? 

Borat! Cultural Learnings Of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation Of Kazakhstan—In this mockumentary, Kazakh reporter Borat Sagdiyev (Sacha Baron Cohen) travels through the “US and A” to make a documentary about American society and culture.  His cross-country trip also has a personal goal: making actress Pamela Anderson his new wife (not necessarily with her consent).  Along the way, the reporter manages to cause chaos ranging from publicly mangling “The Star Spangled Banner” to breaking Confederate antiques to having a nude brawl in a packed convention ballroom.

El Dorado–Howard Hawks directed and Leigh Brackett wrote this classic Western starring actors John Wayne and Robert Mitchum.  Hired gun Cole Thornton (Wayne) has little interest in returning to the town of El Dorado.  An earlier visit gave him a dirty job offer from local evil wealthy rancher Bart Jason and a bullet lodged near his spine which brings on occasional paralysis.  But when the gunslinger learns gun for hire Nelse McLeod has accepted the same dirty job Thornton rejected and his old friend Sheriff J.P. Harrah (Mitchum) has become a drunken laughingstock, he knows he needs to go back to El Dorado.

Fight Club

Fight Club–David Fincher’s film adapts Chuck Palahniuk’s satirical look at consumerism and  macho behavior.  An insomniac auto recall specialist (Edward Norton) feels so unfulfilled by his life that he fakes diseases to justify his presence at support groups.  He discovers that support group member Marla Singer (Helena Bonham Carter) is another faker of illnesses.  But it’s the specialist’s encounter with charismatic soap salesman Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) that truly changes his life.  The two men eventually form the titular club, where men regularly meet to have cathartic fist fights.  When Durden establishes Project Mayhem without the Narrator, things start getting very messy.  Meat Loaf appears in a memorable supporting role.  Don’t watch the Chinese government-approved version where the cops save the day at the end, watch Fincher’s original.

The French Connection–-Catch William Friedkin’s classic crime thriller, which won multiple  Oscars (including Best Picture Oscar) and is a National Film Registry inductee.  Heroin smuggling kingpin Alain Charnier hatches a plan to smuggle $32 million worth (over $224 million in today’s dollars) of heroin into the U.S.  New York City police detectives “Popeye” Doyle (Gene Hackman) and “Cloudy” Russo (Roy Scheider) learn of the shipment but not the details.  However, Charnier and his business associates know the cops are on to them.  Can the detectives still intercept the shipment and nail Charnier?  The subway car chase seen in this film is one of the great film chase sequences.

The Other Guys–Director Adam McKay teams again with star Will Ferrell on this buddy cop action comedy.  NYPD detectives Allen (Ferrell) and Terry (Mark Wahlberg) are generally desk-bound detectives who receive zero respect from their police peers.  An investigation of a scaffolding permit violation leads the duo to multi-billionaire Sir David Ershon’s (Steve Coogan) Ponzi scheme to cover huge financial losses incurred by his client Lendi Global.  But will Terry’s anger issues and Allen’s own little personal problem scuttle their efforts to crack the case?

The Tree Of Life–Terrence Malick’s art film won the Palme D’Or at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival and has been called in a BBC poll of film critics one of the great films of the 2000s.   Jack O’Brien (Sean Penn) is an architect emotionally adrift in the present day.  His memories of growing up in Waco, Texas in the 1960s dredges up painful recollections of the death of brother R.L., the philosophical differences of grace versus nature between his parents (Brad Pitt, Jessica Chastain), and his destructive acts of teen rebelliousness.  The images of the birth of the Universe and the Earth are integral parts of the film, really.         

Pam And Tommy

February 2

Pam And Tommy—1990s celebrity watchers will remember the It pairing of Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee.  The “Baywatch” actress and the Motley Crue drummer would gain public notoriety after their private sex tape was stolen and eventually became the first-ever viral video…with hugely negative consequences for the couple.  Director Craig Gillespie (“I, Tonya”) helms the re-telling of this true story, with Lily James as Anderson, Sebastian Stan as Lee, and “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”’s Jason Mantzoukas as the voice of Lee’s talking penis. (Really.)

February 3

The Deep House—This French horror film offers a unique take on the haunted house genre.  Ben and Tina are a 20-ish couple who want to make a name for themselves on YouTube via their videos of exploring scary and dangerous locales.  An exciting subject for a video opens up before the couple: an estate house submerged half a century ago by flood waters…yet still perfectly preserved.  While the YouTube video makers are cognizant of the limited air in their scuba tanks, they are not as aware yet of the house’s dark history or the nasty secret hidden behind its walls.  Watch the film for its unusual setting, but reviews suggest gritting your teeth whenever Ben opens his mouth.

February 4

Beans—Director Tracey Deer tells this semi-autobiographical tale of a 12-year-old girl caught in the middle of the Oka Crisis.  In the summer of 1990, the Mohawk Nation of Kanesatake and Kahnawa:ke rose up in an armed standoff against the Quebecois and Canadian governments.  This rebellion, known as the Oka Crisis, would last for 78 days.  Beans is a 12-year-old Mohawk caught between childhood and adolescence.  Will the Oka Crisis spur her to become the tough Mohawk warrior she wants to be?

February 5

Rick And Morty

Rick And Morty Season 5–Dan Harmon’s demented animated SF/fantasy adventure series returns with a new (and some fans feel controversial) season.  Expect to see giant sperm monsters, a turkey infused with the POTUS’ DNA, mass decoy Smith family deaths, the shape-shifting Changeformers, and more!

February 8

Clotilda: Last American Slave Ship—In July 1860, slave traders used the schooner Clotilda to transport 110 kidnapped Africans into slavery in Alabama. After the captive Africans were removed from the Clotilda, the ship’s captain attempted to scuttle the ship to conceal the traders’ crime.  The destruction attempt fortunately wasn’t thorough enough to completely destroy the schooner.  Now maritime archeologists will conduct an underwater investigation of the Clotilda’s hold to look for physical evidence of the traffickers’ crimes.

February 11

Dollface Season 2–It’s the return of the quirky 20-something relationship comedy starring Kat Dennings.  For the newbies, Jules Wiley (Dennings) has seen her five-year relationship with Jeremy end in heartbreak.  Bouncing back means reconnecting with the female friends she left behind for Jeremy..and taking time to figure out what she wants out of life.  In the new season, expect to see Jules’ boss Celeste become our heroine’s mentor.  Jules might be picking up a second possible love interest named Fender.  And the anthropomorphic Cat Lady will return to serve as Jules’ spirit guide.

February 15

District B13–This French action-thriller introduced parkour to cinema-goers via the incredible moves of star David Belle.  In a near-future Paris, social problems in the ghetto known as B13 have gotten so out of control that the French authorities have walled off this area of two million souls from the rest of the city and withdrawn all government services.  Leito (Belle) fights the gangs that have overrun the neighborhood, until he gets thrown in prison.  Undercover cop Damien winds up needing Leito’s help for an urgent mission inside B13.  A gang led by Taha has accidentally gotten hold of an activated nuclear bomb set to explode in 24 hours.  Damien wants to defuse the bomb; Leito wants to rescue his sister Lola, who’s held hostage by Taha.  But accomplishing both goals won’t be easy thanks to an army of Taha’s thugs and some double-crossing.      

The Food That Built America Season 2–This documentary series looks at the individuals and families whose inventions and innovations created some well-known American foods…and the ruthless rivalries that accompanied their successdsses.  This season’s subjects include Italian deep-dish pizza, condensed soup, and the TV dinner.

The Shape Of Water

The Shape Of Water—Guillermo del Toro’s Academy Award-winning dark fantasy takes viewers to 1962 Baltimore.  Lonely mute Elisa Esposito (Sally Hawkins) works as a cleaning lady at a high-security secret government laboratory.  One day, the cleaning lady accidentally discovers the lab’s biggest secret: an amphibian man (Doug Jones) captured in South America and brought back for study and experimentation.  Over time, the two very distinct beings trust each other and even fall in love.  But the ignoble intentions of government agent Strickland (Michael Shannon) spur Elisa to free the amphibian man and help him return home.  Warning for cat lovers: one particular scene will cause your hair to stand up.

February 18

The Feast–This Welsh-language horror film is set in an isolated mansion.  Matriarch Glenda is throwing a dinner party for her wealthy family and some business friends.  Into this opulent world comes the mostly silent Cadi, who’s there to cook the freshly killed rabbit meat (and other food) and also act as a waitress.  It soon becomes clear that Glenda and her family made their wealth from repeatedly raping the environment.  Unfortunately for these rich bastards, judgment is coming in the form of Cadi’s “service.”

February 24

Snowfall Season 5–It’s the return of FX’s acclaimed drama about the career of drug kingpin Franklin Saint, set against the backdrop of real world events.  The new season takes the story up to the year 1986.  The public is in an uproar after Boston Celtics NBA Draft pick Len Bias dies from a cocaine overdose shortly after being selected.  The LAPD ramps up its militarization of the War On Drugs by establishing CRASH (Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums) units.  Needless to say, these developments spell big-time trouble for Saint and his operation.

February 25

No Exit–A blizzard forces college student Darby Thorne to take shelter at a mountain rest stop with a group of strangers.  Being forced together in such close quarters is uncomfortable.  But it’s even more so after Thorne discovers a kidnapped girl in the back seat of one of the strangers’ cars.  Now she faces a double challenge: which of the strangers is the kidnapper…and how can she escape to safety with the child?  Adapting Taylor Adams’ novel are writers Andrew Barrer and Gabriel Ferrari (“Ant Man And The Wasp”).

Three Identical Strangers

February 27

Three Identical Strangers–In 1980, thanks to a case of mistaken identity and a chance encounter, Robert Shafran, Edward Galland, and David Kellman met each other for the first time.  The three 19-year-old men, who didn’t know of the others’ existence, were adoptees from three different families: blue-collar, middle-class, and upper middle-class/wealthy.  Yet despite their different upbringings, they displayed similar traits such as a particular walk or a liking for older women.  The three men turned out to be triplets who had been deliberately separated at birth.  Why the separation occurred and who was responsible for that separation will lead director Tim Wardle’s documentary into emotionally dark territory.            

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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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