Friday 18 October 2019

The Umbrella Academy, Dirty John, Lorena - what's new to Netflix and Amazon Prime for February

Eric Bana and Connie Britton in Dirty John
Eric Bana and Connie Britton in Dirty John
Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

There are a few potential winners among the streaming offerings this month, kicking off with Netflix's original film, Velvet Buzzsaw, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo and Toni Collette, on February 1, with Amazon Prime Video airing a documentary series on the infamous Lorena Bobbitt case mid-month, and the critically acclaimed Dirty John, starring Erica Bana and Connie Britton, hitting Netflix on Valentine's Day.


Velvet Buzzsaw, Netflix

Velvet Buzzsaw is a satirical thriller set in the contemporary art world scene of Los Angeles where big money artists and mega-collectors pay a high price when art collides with commerce. Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Toni Collette, Zawe Ashton, Tom Sturridge, Natalia Dyer, Daveed Diggs, Billy Magnussen, and John Malkovich star.


Dear Ex, Netflix

When Sanlian's ex-husband passes away, she discovers he has altered his insurance policy, cutting out their son in favour of a stranger named Jay. Outraged, Sanlian decides that she and her son will confront Jay, but Jay proves equal to her scheme. However, when her son unexpectedly moves in with Jay, she is forced to reassess her relationship with them both.


Russian Doll, Netflix

This Netflix Original series following a young woman named Nadia (Natasha Lyonne of Orange is the New Black fame) on her journey as the guest of honor at a seemingly inescapable party one night in New York City.


Nightflyers, Netflix

With humankind's future at stake, a group of scientists and a powerful telepath venture into the void aboard a spaceship full of secrets. Filmed at Troy Studios in Limerick, it stars homegrown talent Eoin Macken as well as Gretchen Mol, David Ajala, Sam Strike, Maya Eshet, Angus Sampson, Jodie Turner-Smith, and Brían F. O'Byrne.


American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace, Netflix

Former Glee star Darren Criss received Emmy and Golden Globe awards for his leading role (and he can add a SAG award to his mantelpiece as of last night) as Andrew Cunanan, the man who shot designer Gianni Versace.  Penelope Cruz is mesmerizing as Donatella Versace.


Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011), Netflix

Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law reprise their roles as Holmes and Watson in Guy Richie’s loud and proud big screen sequel adaptation of the Arthur Conan Doyle tales.


The Bucket List (2007), Netflix

Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman team up as a pair of terminally ill cancer patients who head off to make the most of their last days on earth.  Schmaltz overload alert.


Edie (2017), Netflix

Sheila Hancock plays an octogenarian who heads off to climb a mountain in Scotland and befriends a younger climber who helps her realise her aim.


Free Rein: Valentine’s Day, Netflix

For the kids... Zoe and the gang plan a girls only Galantine’s adventure. But when they set out to find the mysterious Maid’s Stone it soon becomes clear they’re not the only ones on the trail.


True: Happy Hearts Day, Netflix

More kids' fare - On this special day, True and her friends share their Happy Hearts and celebrate love in the Rainbow Kingdom ... until Glummy Glooma starts to turn things blue!



Romance is a Bonus Book, Netflix

A gifted writer who's the youngest editor-in-chief ever at his publishing company gets enmeshed in the life of a former copywriter desperate for a job.



Ray Romano: Right Here, Around the Corner, Netflix

23 years after his last stand-up special, comedian, screenwriter, and Emmy Award-winning actor Ray Romano debuts his first Netflix comedy special which sees  him performing two sets on the same night - one at Manhattan’s Comedy Cellar and the second at the Village Underground.



Poldark season 3, Netflix

Arguably the strongest of the four seasons sees Ross (Aidan Turner) and Demelza (Eleanor Tomlinson) trying to rebuilt their relationship.  George Warleggan (a brilliant Jack Farthing), meanwhile, plots to take them down. 



The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Netflix

Visually stunning but slow of pace, it's probably one for the Rings fans alone, although Martin Freeman is a decent guide, Ian McKellen's there as Gandalf, and we get plenty of Andy Serkis's brilliant Gollum.


High Flying Bird, Netflix

Directed by Steven Soderberg, this film stars Zazie Beetz, Melvin Gregg, Sonja Sohn, Zachary Quinto, Kyle MacLachlan and Bill Duke, and features appearances from NBA athletes Reggie Jackson, Karl-Anthony Towns and Donovan Mitchell. 

In the midst of a pro basketball lockout, sports agent Ray Burke (André Holland) finds himself caught in the face-off between the league and the players. His career is on the line, but Ray is playing for higher stakes. With only 72 hours to pull off a daring plan, he outmaneuvers all the power-players as he uncovers a loophole that could change the game forever.


El árbol de la sangre, Netflix

Film in which Marc (Álvaro Cervantes) and Rebeca (Úrsula Corberó) are a young couple who goes to an old farmhouse belonging to Marc’s family. There, they write the shared story of their roots, creating a large family tree that harbors 25 years of love, heartbreak, sex, madness, jealousy and infidelity... and under which lies a deep mystery that marked their lives. Over their days at the farmhouse, each one will reveal secrets from their past to the other, putting their own love story in danger.


ReMastered: The Two Killings of Sam Cooke, Netflix

The latest in this excellent music documentary series takes a look at Sam Cooke who was the most influential black musician of the Civil Rights Movement and advocated for the rights of black musicians, frustrating the white establishment. An investigation into the circumstances and controversy surrounding his shooting death include theories that he had been robbed and "trick-rolled' by a woman, later revealed to be a prostitute. But many believe in a larger societal set up; namely that he was targeted by music industry moguls with links to the mob who all wanted him dead for emerging as a totem for black musicians' rights.


The Expanse (seasons 1, 2, and 3), Amazon Prime Video

Based on novels by James S. A. Corey, The Expanse is a political science fiction series set hundreds of years in the future. Humans have colonized the solar system with The United Nations controlling Earth and an independent military power inhabiting Mars. Desperate for air and water, the series begins with Earth and Mars on the verge of war over the resources found in the Asteroid Belt. With few options for survival, allies struggle to fight over the future of humanity.  Starring Thomas Jane and Shohreh Asgdashloo it is co-created and written by Oscar nominees Mark Fergus and Hawk Otsby.


New Amsterdam, Amazon Prime Video

US medical drama based on the best-selling book Twelve Patients: Life and Death at Bellevue Hospital by Eric Manheimer and his fifteen years as Medical Director at the hospital.  Inspired by the oldest public hospital in America, the drama follows the brilliant and charming Dr. Max Goodwin (Ryan Eggold), the institution’s newest medical director who sets out to tear up the bureaucracy and provide exceptional care. Dr. Goodwin must disrupt the status quo and prove he will stop at nothing to breathe new life into this understaffed, underfunded and under-appreciated hospital. He is the only one capable of treating Ebola patients, prisoners from Rikers and the President of the United States under one roof, and returning the hospital to the glory that put it on the map.


The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants, Netflix

For the kids: George and Harold have to keep their grades up to go to summer camp. But it's a tall order with Melvin -- and a cyborg Melvin -- running the school!


Unauthorized Living, Netflix

An influential Galician drug cartel leader must seek out his successor while keeping his degenerative disease a secret.



The Space Between Us (2016), Netflix

A teenager born on Mars is sent to Earth where he strikes up a romance with a local lass.  Unbearable cheese aimed at the YA market, but maybe we should give teenagers a little more credit.


Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Netflix

A cracker of a film balancing those eye-poppingly realistic visuals with emotional depth and intelligence.  Some of the visual impact will of course be lost on the small screen, but there's enough else going on to give it another watch, not least the performances of Andy Serkis and Toby Kebbel.


Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj: Volume 2, Netflix

Hasan Minhaj's informative and innovative comedy show returns with more deep dives into global politics and culture.



Dirty John, Netflix

Anthology series’ first season tells the story of how a romance with the charismatic John Meehan spiraled into secrets, denial, manipulation and, ultimately, survival – with horrific consequences for an entire family. Eric Bana and Connie Britton star.


Dating Around, Netflix

Netflix's first original dating show expands on the First Dates format by sending one single person on five dates in every episode. 


Ken Jeong: You Complete Me, Ho, Netflix

Filmed at the Ice House Comedy Club in Pasadena, California, where Jeong first got his start in comedy, You Complete Me, Ho reflects on how Jeong went from being a doctor to a comedy superstar and opens up about how his wife’s courageous battle with breast cancer led to him starring in one of the biggest comedy franchises of all time, The Hangover.



The Umbrella Academy, Netflix

On the same day in 1989, forty-three infants are inexplicably born to random, unconnected women who showed no signs of pregnancy the day before. Seven are adopted by a billionaire who creates The Umbrella Academy and prepares his "children" to save the world.

Now, the six surviving members reunite upon the news of their father's passing and must work together to solve a mystery surrounding his death. But the estranged family begins to come apart due to their divergent personalities and abilities, not to mention the imminent threat of a global apocalypse.

The Umbrella Academy is based on the comic book series created and written by Gerard Way, illustrated by Gabriel Bá, and published by Dark Horse Comics. The series stars our own Robert Sheehan as well as Ellen Page, Mary J. Blige, Cameron Britton, Tom Hopper and more.


The Breaker Upperers, Netflix

Two people who are a little cynical about romance set up a business breaking up unhappy couples.


Lorena, Amazon Prime Video

Oscar winner Jordan Peele executive produced this four-part documentary series which claims to reveal the hidden truths behind the notorious case of John Wayne and Lorena Bobbitt and "challenges the long-held narrative that surrounded the event", that event being the severing of John Wayne's penis by Lorena Bobbitt with a knife.

Directed by Joshua Rofé it looks at how the event laid the groundwork for the modern 24-hour news cycle and increasing sensationalistic media coverage.  It argues that the story was a missed opportunity for a national discussion on domestic and sexual assault in America.


Larry Charles’ Dangerous World of Comedy, Netflix

Legendary comedy writer and director Larry Charles travels the world in search of humor in the most unusual, unexpected and dangerous places.



The Five Year Engagement (2012), Netflix

One of a raft of romantic comedies which aimed to look at what happens after the 'happy ever after' or, in this case, before the 'happy ever after' of an actual wedding.  This one is, unlike most of them, however, actually tolerable thanks in the main to Emily Blunt and Jason Segel.


Safe House (2012), Netflix

It's a little bit all over the place, but Daniel Espinosa's action thriller makes the most of its leads in Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds as the veteran and rookie CIA ops who end up on the run together in Cape Town.


Blow (2001), Netflix

Johnny Depp gives an excellent performances as cocaine-trafficker George Jung who becamea  runner for Pablo Escobar in the 70s.  Also starring Penelope Cruz, Ray Liotta, Rachel Griffits and Jordi Molla.


Yucatan, Netflix

Competing con artists attempt to creatively and ruthlessly swindle a fatherly lottery winner while on a lively cruise from Spain to Mexico.


Liar, Liar (1997), Netflix

Jim Carrey in his comedy heydey was a force to be reckoned with and he thrives in this very funny comedy about a man whose young son wishes he could not tell lies - and his wish comes true.  Hilarity ensues as his dad struggles to get through his day without telling fibs.


American Wedding, Netflix

The American Pie crew reunited for the third instalment in the series and we wondered why they bothered.


Blackadder (series 1 and 2), Netflix

Head back to the start and the year of 1485 when an alternative history plays out as King Richard III is murdered and is succeeded by Richard IV (Brian Blessed).  The second series is set during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (Miranda Richardson).



The Legend of Tarzan (2016), Netflix

Alexander Skarsgård plays Tarzan who left Africa for a life with Jane (Margot Robbie), but he has been invited back to the Congo ostensibly to serve as a trade emissary of Parliament but there is double-crossing in the offiing.



The Story of Us with Morgan Freeman (season 1), Netflix

Morgan Freeman takes viewers on a global journey to meet people of different cultures.


Homeland (season 7), Netflix

Carrie has left her job in the White House and is living with her sister Maggie. She takes on the Keane administration to secure the release of the 200 members of the intelligence community who were arrested under President Keane's orders.


WORKIN' MOM, Netflix

An original comedy series created by and starring Catherine Reitman that tests the modern ideal that women really can have it all.


The Photographer of Mauthausen, Netflix

Imprisoned at the concentration camp of Mauthausen during WWII, Catalan photographer Francesc Boix struggles to survive while saving other people and hiding film negatives that will later help incriminate Nazis.


Paris is Us (Paris est à nous) Netflix

Dreams and reality collide as a young woman navigates a tumultuous relationship amid rising social tensions, protests and tragedies in Paris.


Suburra (season 2), Netflix

Netflix original series - As the fight for land, money and power intensifies, young upstarts Aureliano, Spadino and Lele conspire to seize control of Rome's criminal underworld.


The Giant Beast That is the Global Economy, Amazon Prime Video

From Oscar winner Adam McKay, Will Ferrell and Adam Davidson, This Giant Beast is a globe-spanning exploration of the most compelling, hilarious, confounding, and bizarre topics impacting the global economy. 

Hosted by Kal Penn its eight episode run sees each episode focus on a central question about the global economy: How can I launder a bag of dirty cash? Is money even real? Why is death so expensive? How scared should I be of a rubber apocalypse? Does buying knockoff Nikes really fund terrorism?

Across thirteen countries, Penn meets unique characters in fascinating locations - including a crypto-mine in Prague, a corruption reporting center in Singapore, a rubber plantation in Thailand, an airplane graveyard in the Mojave, and a dildo factory in Los Angeles.


Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments, Season 3: Part B, Netflix

The saga of Clary Fray and her adventures with angels, demons, vampires and werewolves wraps up in a surprising, thrilling series conclusion. Based on Cassandra Clare's book series The Mortal Instruments, this is the final instalment in the series, unless Netflix weave their magic and order more episodes.


Chef’s Table, Volume 6, Netflix

A renowned Italian butcher, an Indian chef in London and two stars of Southern U.S. cuisine share their culinary journeys.


Paddleton , Netflix

An unlikely bromance between two misfit neighbors becomes an unexpectedly emotional journey when the younger man is diagnosed with terminal cancer.



Get Out, Netflix

Jordan Peele won an Oscar for his screenplay last year, and the film picked up nominations for Best Film, Best Actor (for Daniel Kaluuya's riveting central performance), and Best Director for Peele himself.  The less you know about the plot the better, but suffice to say a young black man visits his girlfriend's family for the first time and things don't quite go as expected.



Mamma Mia!

Grab your hairbrush and sing along with Meryl Streep, Amanda Seyfriend, Colin Firth, Pierce Brosnan and more.  It's a tonic.


As Above, So Below (2014), Netflix

Creepy found footage horror which sees a group of young explorers (of course) venturing into the catacombs beneath the streets of Paris where they encounter a bit more than they were bargaining for.



I Feel Pretty, Netflix

An ordinary woman with low self-esteem bumps her head and suddenly thinks she looks like a supermodel.  A twist on Shallow Hal with Amy Schumer in the driving seat.



The Other Boleyn Girl (2008), Netflix

Scarlett Johannson and Natalie Portman are pitted against each other as sisters who are rivals for the attentions of King Henry VIII (Eric Bana).  It is a fictionalised account based on the book by Philippa Gregory.


Apollo 13, Netflix

Ron Howard's space drama, about the aborted 1970 Apollo 13 lunar mission, was nominated for nine Oscars and won two.  Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, Bill Paxton, Gary Sinise, and Ed Harris star.


Isn’t It Romantic, Netflix

A cynical young woman (Rebel Wilson) that doesn’t believe in love (and hates romantic comedies) wakes up one day to discover that her life has completely changed and she is now somehow trapped inside a romantic comedy.

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