The Best Movies to Stream This Week on Hulu - Living Strong Television Network

My picks for Hulu’s best originals and new(ish) movies this week are a study in contrasts. There are documentaries Summer of Soul and Some Kind of Heaven—both excellent for very different reasons, and a head-to-head face off between Freelance, a crowd-pleasing action movie that critics hate, and Skinamarink, a crowd-boring horror movie that no one but critics would sit through. I like all of these movies the same, by the way.

Summer of Soul (2021)

This collection of performances from the Harlem Cultural Festival proves beyond any possible doubt that the music at Woodstock was ass. Both events were held during the turbulent summer of 1969 at venues about 100 miles apart in New York, but Woodstock had Sha Na Na and Country Joe and the Fish, where Harlem had Nina Simone and Sly Stone. Woodstock had Ravi Shankar noodling on a sitar. Harlem had Stevie Wonder in his prime playing this drum solo. I wonder why Woodstock became a cultural touchstone that people still won’t shut up about, but everyone forgot about the Harlem Festival until Questlove pulled this footage from a dusty basement a few years ago and made a documentary.

Freelance (2023)

According to Rotten Tomatoes, only 6% of critics think Freelance is a good movie; but 77% of viewers rate it positively. I like John Cena, and I watched it on an airplane, so I’m in the 77%. Cena plays an ex-special forces guy who takes a freelance gig protecting a journalist played by Alison Brie. She’s interviewing the dictator of a fictional South American nation, but a coup breaks out, forcing the trio to flee into the jungle where they must survive and escape. It’s a solid action movie set-up, followed by a ton of car chases and explosions, some stupid jokes, and a romance between charismatic movie stars. What’s not to like? 

Skinamarink (2022)

Skinamarink is the opposite of Freelance. Rotten Tomatoes‘ critics love this horror movie— it’s 72% fresh—but the audience score is 44%. I’m confident it would be much lower if they showed this kind of movie on airplanes. There are no car chases, witty banter, or charismatic stars in Skinamarink. Almost nothing happens, and the little that occurs is intentionally hard to see or understand. Skinamarink’s goal is building the distressing vibe of a childhood nightmare, so it contains nothing in which a viewers might find comfort. I suggest a double feature with Freelance to see what kind of person you are. 

Some Kind of Heaven (2020)

If you’ve ever wondered why Florida is so Florida-y, this documentary about The Villages, the largest retirement community in the world, offers some answers. Portrayed through Some Kind of Heaven‘s arresting imagery, many of the residents of The Villages live in a dreamlike perpetual present, where every day is a vacation day. They play golf, take belly dance lessons, drink tropical drinks by the pool, and wait; others are looking for personal meaning among the orange groves and mobility scooters; and some are on darker journeys, preying on others for money or drugs as if they’ve learned nothing from all their years on earth.  

Last week’s picks

Self Reliance (2024)

This Hulu original thriller-comedy asks: What if you were forced into a dark-web reality show where a gang of trained assassins were paid to hunt you, but they can’t kill you if you’re within a few feet of another person? I’d just break out the handcuffs and have an uncomfortable few weeks with my neighbor Gary, but hero Tommy is a lonely, single guy who is prone to outlandish lies, so it’s tougher for him. The few people he is close to don’t even believe the scenario is real, and no one wants to go along with his seeming delusion. It’s a preposterous premise, but it’s pulled off here with charm and wit thanks to a funny script and likable cast, especially first-time director/star Jake Johnson.

Barbarian (2022)

If you have any interest in horror movies, you must see Barbarian. The movie’s “there’s something spooky in the basement” premise might have been cliché if Barbarian didn’t subvert narrative expectations at every turn, keeping viewers off balance throughout the film. The secret in the basement, by the way, is more than spooky. It’s uniquely, viscerally dreadful.

King Richard (2021)

In this sports biopic, Will Smith plays Richard Williams, father of tennis phenoms Venus and Serena Williams. Smith turns in one of the best performances of his career (and earned an Academy Award for Best Actor) as his daughters’ coach in this inspirational story that examines family, dedication, and the sacrifices that come from the pursuit of excellence.

Miranda’s Victim (2023)

We all know the “you have the right to remain silent” recitation cops give suspected criminals, but the crime behind the Supreme Court decision that defined our Miranda rights is way more obscure. Miranda’s Victims tells the story of the 1963 kidnapping and rape of 18-year-old Patricia Weir and subsequent trial and imprisonment of Ernesto Miranda. Weir was first victimized by Miranda, and then by the court system. Miranda was a victim too, but a much different kind of victim—guilty, but freed from prison when the Supreme Court issued the famous decision after determining his confession was inadmissible. Miranda’s Victims tells a complex story carefully and features a stellar cast, including Abigail Breslin, Luke Wilson, Kyle MacLachlan, Ryan Phillippe, Mireille Enos, and Donald Sutherland.

The Last Circus (2010)

Director Álex de la Iglesia’s The Last Circus opens with the performers from a flea-bitten circus being conscripted to fight in the Spanish Civil War, big shoes and all, and it gets stranger from there. You could call The Last Circus a hyper-violent, heartbreaking, romantic-black-comedy-war-horror-social-satire film where a happy clown and a sad clown battle to the death for the woman they both love, or you could say The Last Circus defies classification. Either way, it’s an explosion of a movie that I guarantee is like nothing you’ve seen before.

Imitation Game (2014)

In a role he was practically born for, Benedict Cumberbatch plays pioneering computer scientist Alan Turing in this historical thriller. Turing, along with a cadre of other cryptology nerds and outcasts, legit saved the world by cracking the Enigma Code during World War 2, and was rewarded with years of post-war persecution and abuse for being gay. The Imitation Game mostly sticks to the more exciting “we’ve gotta break the code!” part of Turing’s life story as opposed to his depressing later days.

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