New Movies on Amazon Prime

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New Movies on Amazon Prime

Amazon has begun to invest more in movies streaming exclusively at Amazon Prime Video, and it can be tough to keep up with the latest. As the rest of the catalog has shrunk, original content has grown, but even the giant retailer’s latest movies can be hard to find on the site. Below are 10 of Amazon Prime’s biggest film releases over the last several months, covering everything from drama to horror to anime to action comedy. The quality varies as much as the genre.

Here are 10 of the newest movies on Amazon Prime:

1. Tender Bar

tender-bar.jpg Amazon Prime Release Date: Jan. 5, 2022
Director: George Clooney
Stars: Daniel Ranieri, Tye Sheridan, Ron Livingston, Ben Affleck, Lily Rabe, Christopher Lloyd, Sondra James, Max Martini
Genre: Drama
Rating: R
Runtime: 106 minutes
Paste Review Score: 3.7

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George Clooney should’ve adapted J.R. Moehringer’s 2005 memoir The Tender Bar as a one-man show instead of a feature film: The ensemble cast playing the important figures in Moehringer’s life don’t read as standalone characters as much as hagiographical mouthpieces. Fair enough—it’s his story. But Moehringer didn’t write The Tender Bar’s script; William Monahan did. Moehringer didn’t direct the film, either; Clooney did, and his considerable star power continues to translate into amateurish screen energy. His filmmaking is earnest, but so coltish that the effort is embarrassing. This doesn’t feel like the product of a Hollywood icon. It feels like a piece of community theater with a prestige bait budget. The Tender Bar is told over the decades spanning Moehringer’s upbringing on Long Island, where he’s played by Daniel Ranieri, to his eventual graduation from Yale, where he’s played by Tye Sheridan. A merry, colorful cast rounds out the backdrop of his life, including Lily Rabe as his mother Dorothy; Christopher Lloyd as his grandpa; scads of barflies played by Michael Braun, Max Casella and Matthew Delamater; and, most of all, Ben Affleck as Uncle Charlie. Charlie is described in voiceover (provided by Ron Livingston) as the sort of uncle everyone wants. As he’s portrayed in The Tender Bar, this is unimpeachably true. He owns and operates a pub, Dickens, stacked with books. His “man science” (male guidelines for living) includes everything from the macho art of changing a tire to chivalry. He’s smart, he’s athletic, he’s no-nonsense and he’d go through a wall for people he loves. Worse movies than The Tender Bar came out in 2021. Worse movies will come out in 2022. There’s meager pleasure to be had in watching loveable actors ham it up for an hour and a half, even when those actors have to stride on through cringeworthy beats and the picture looks as ugly as the one Clooney had cinematographer Martin Ruhe shoot on his behalf. But that pleasure is easily forgotten because there’s little reason for us to care about anything Clooney shows. —Andy Crump

2. Being the Ricardos

being-the-ricardos.jpg Amazon Prime Release Date: Dec. 10, 2021
Director: Aaron Sorkin
Stars: Nicole Kidman, Javier Bardem, J.K. Simmons, Alia Shawkat, Nina Arianda, Tony Hale
Genre: Drama
Rating: R
Runtime: 131 minutes
Paste Review Score: 3.9

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There’s a good movie baked into Being the Ricardos’ 131 minutes. It’s about 90 minutes long, maybe a little less. The remaining 41 minutes comprise an Aaron Sorkin movie, and like too much cream in a beautifully fried donut, they weigh down the total package with needless fat: Talking heads, flashbacks and archival footage. Lucille Ball’s story of perseverance, both in an industry that saw her as livestock to be herded rather than a professional to respect, and in a marriage held together by hot temperaments, hot sex and a collective drive to succeed, is an all-timer. Quite literally, the world that Being the Ricardos exists in wouldn’t without Ball and I Love Lucy. She’s a legend. She’s a pioneer. She’s shockingly good at pantomiming ineptitude. She’s Lucy! But Sorkin has never met a culture-altering figure he couldn’t interpret as one of his home-grown characters. There’s a reason Lucille Ball registers as Lucille at all, and that reason is Nicole Kidman, cast as the great comedienne, businesswoman and trailblazer in spite of the howls of protest on Twitter. Kidman may not be a 100% match for Ball in appearance, but boy does she commune with her spirit. Watching Kidman become Ball is dazzling. Being the Ricardos is set during one week in 1952, when the House Un-American Activities Committee accused her of being a communist, right as her popularity, and the sitcom I Love Lucy’s popularity, were at a high: More people tuned in for the show than for Eisenhower’s inauguration and the Queen’s coronation. Desi Arnaz (Javier Bardem), Ball’s husband, co-star and the titular “I” of the show, wasn’t the only person who loved Lucy. America loved Lucy. This is a colossal production, of course, and while everyone else in the cast has a chance to stand out—Bardem as Arnaz, J.K. Simmons as William Frawley, Nina Arianda as Vivian Vance, Tony Hale as Jess Oppenheimer, Alia Shawkat as Madelyn Pugh—no one really does. As for Sorkin, he doesn’t seem as interested in characters as in status, putting more effort into crafting Being the Ricardos as rich, slick prestige bait via DP Jeff Cronenweth and the design team, who bring the 1950s to life with glossy brio. It’s a nice-looking movie, but it isn’t so much a movie about the Ricardos as it’s a movie about Sorkin. Kidman steps out of his shadow within the first 10 minutes. Everyone and everything else winds up languishing in it. —Andy Crump

3. The Electrical Life of Louis Wain

louis-wain.jpg Amazon Prime Release Date: Nov. 5, 2021
Director: Will Sharpe
Stars: Benedict Cumberbatch, Claire Foy, Andrea Riseborough, Toby Jones
Genre: Drama
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 111 minutes
Paste Review Score: 6.0

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If you look at some of the cat portraits scrawled by Louis Wain, you might think an electrical current was running through them. The fibers of feline hair seem charged by some force that propels the coiled fur, compelling them to dance around just as their anthropomorphic owners do. But The Electrical Life of Louis Wain proposes that Wain—an English illustrator in the late 19th century, who became renowned for his humorous portraits of cats—had more than just an artistic dalliance conjuring electric pencil strokes. As the Victorian era in England reached its autumn years and technology began to power the impending future, the film’s version of Wain is preoccupied with the idea that people were powered by electricity, too. That human beings and creatures with beating hearts harbored charges of unseen energy, which hummed and buzzed outside our realm of conception—even connecting us to past and future. Directed by Will Sharpe (Sherlock), The Electrical Life of Louis Wain remains a conventional biopic in most ways while attempting to imbue some—ah—electricity, into the tired subgenre. Forgoing the artist’s childhood, the film chronicles Wain (Benedict Cumberbatch) from his years as a young man and part-time illustrator caring for his large family in the wake of his father’s death, to his passionate but doomed marriage to Emily Richardson (Claire Foy) and his later life confined to a psychiatric hospital for schizophrenia (though that diagnosis has been debated in the years following his death). Narrated cheerfully throughout by Olivia Colman, Wain begins the film as something reminiscent of Punch-Drunk Love’s Barry Egan. Eccentric, meek and socially awkward, Wain is overwhelmed by his chaotic household as the sole brother, and now designated breadwinner, of six sisters along with their mother. Yet, it is ironic that a film about a man so captivated by this spark cannot seem to capture him in a way that truly equals his kinetic spirit (even if excessively veering camerawork may attempt to add some dynamism). The Electrical Life of Louis Wain can’t quite live up to its magnetic subject, but it’s still a warm celebration of a renegade artist and revolutionary forbearer of the funny cat video. —Brianna Zigler

4. The Manor

the-manor.jpg Amazon Prime Release Date: Oct. 8, 2021
Director: Axelle Carolyn
Stars: Barbara Hershey, Bruce Davison, Stacey Travis, Ciera Payton, Jill Larson
Genre: Horror
Rating: 16+
Runtime: 91 minutes

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Jason Blum, CEO and eponym of Blumhouse Productions, in turn the eponym of the Amazon anthological project Welcome to the Blumhouse, described the four-film horror series’ 2020 kickoff as “the product of underrepresented filmmakers.” If the studio’s audience is diverse, Blum reasoned, then its stable of directors should be too. In Axelle Carolyn’s The Manor—part of Welcome to the Blumhouse’s second series— former dancer Judith (Barbara Hershey) checks into a nursing home after a recent stroke and finds that something wicked lurks in its halls preying on residents. The film spares a thought for our grandparents in care facilities, where they’re supposed to receive care they can’t get at home but end up exposed to maltreatment. In this we find the true heart of the series: Yes, it’s about marginalization, but it’s more specifically about the human need to be heard. Nobody listens to the protagonists in these movies at first, if at all. They’re ignored. Dismissed. In a few cases, they’re gaslit. Judith is medicated for her presumed night terrors, as if she’s crazy and not witness to a monstrosity’s incursions into her own room. “Institutional horrors and personal phobias” sounds nice on a press release, but it’s a pretty way of saying that Welcome to the Blumhouse 2.0 focuses on marginalized characters. Even Judith, who at least bears the appearance of wealth and certainly has a good deal more privilege than the protagonists in the other films, is shunted to the side of society, not so much by her family but by her custodians; her daughter Barbara (Katie A. Keane) isn’t heartless but simply doesn’t have the energy to look after her mom, while her grandson Josh (Nicholas Alexander) tries to be there for her as much as he can from the outside. Still, Judith is an island, even when she makes nice with the popular clique in the home. When she receives nighttime visitations from a leering bark-skinned monster, the nurses immediately assume she’s losing her marbles. They ignore her pleas. As is the tradition in horror, Judith is left to fight her fight alone. —Andy Crump

5. Madres

madres.jpg Amazon Prime Release Date: Oct. 8, 2021
Director: Ryan Zaragoza
Stars: Elpidia Carrillo, Kerry Cahill, Ariana Guera, Jennifer Patino, Britton Webb
Genre: Horror
Rating: 18+
Runtime: 84 minutes

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The driving theme for each of the Welcome to the Blumhouse movies is announced early and loudly. In Ryan Zaragoza’s Madres, writer and first time expecting mother Diana (Ariana Guera) uncovers a curse plaguing the California farmland she and her husband, Beto (Tenoch Huerta), have just moved to. The film draws on Madrigal v. Quilligan, a federal class action lawsuit over the forced sterilization of Latina women without consent, for its material. Diana’s theories about a new pesticide used by local farmhands (that it might be hazardous for their health) are written off as paranoia by everyone, including Beto. —Andy Crump

6. Bingo Hell

bingo-hell.jpg Amazon Prime Release Date: Oct. 1, 2021
Director: Gigi Saul Guerrero
Stars: Adriana Barraza, L. Scott Caldwell, Joshua Caleb Johnson
Genre: Horror
Rating: 18+
Runtime: 86 minutes

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In Gigi Saul Guerrero’s Bingo Hell, Lupita (Adriana Barraza), the salty resident matriarch of a small-town community slowly flipping over into a hipster paradise, rallies her friends and neighbors against the glitzy new bingo hall installed by the devilish Mr. Big (Richard Brake). The film considers the effects of America’s ever-gentrifying landscape through gambling’s lurid temptations, framing beneficiaries as winners and everyone else as losers. Mr. Big enchants them with thousand dollar, hundred thousand dollar, million dollar pots every evening, holding them in a trance they can’t break out of. They’re so firmly in his thrall that the winners off themselves as if under hypnosis no sooner than they collect their prizes. Lupita must literally destroy the system that has them stupored with the business end of a shotgun. It’s a pleasure to watch, not least because Brake is so preternaturally talented at malicious facial contortions that Guerrero doesn’t need to make him up much if at all. —Andy Crump

7. Black as Night

black-as-night.jpg Amazon Prime Release Date: Oct. 1, 2021
Director: Maritte Lee Go
Stars: Asjha Cooper, Frabizio Guido, Mason Beauchamp, Abbie Gayle, Keith David
Genre: Horror
Rating: 16+
Runtime: 154 minutes

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In Maritte Lee Go’s Black as Night, shy teen Shawna (Asjha Cooper) discovers that vampires are feeding on and turning New Orleans’ homeless into a bloodthirsty army. Sub-motifs surface across the quartet of Welcome to the Blumhouse films—colorism, for instance, plays a part in Black as Night as well as Madres—but the driving theme for each is announced early and loudly. Black as Night examines Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath through contemporary and historical lenses, linking the deracination of non-white citizens from their neighborhoods to America’s original sin—slavery. But just as this edition of Welcome to the Blumhouse has a unifying theme, it also has a unifying flaw: All of these movies hurry and their struggles don’t benefit from slim running times: The Manor clocks in at about an hour and a half, and the rest at ten minutes less. For the most part, they’d all benefit either from condensing or expansion. Uniformity of duration implies uniformity of intent and experience, which clangs against Welcome to the Blumhouse’s stated purpose. What these movies have in common is straightforward: Systemic wrongs endure because the people most impacted are ignored. But the systemic wrongs in Bingo Hell, Black as Night, Madres and The Manor aren’t the same. They encompass separate threads of American history and culture. Stuffing them into boxes with more or less the same dimensions muffles them. If Blum means to produce a new Welcome to the Blumhouse series each year, he should think about giving the next quartet of voices the space to tell their stories the way they need to be told. —Andy Crump

8. Evangelion 3.0+1.0: Thrice Upon a Time

evangelion-thrice.jpg Amazon Prime Release Date: Aug. 13, 2021
Director: Hideaki Anno, Mahiro Maeda, Katsuichi Nakayama, Kazuya Tsurumaki
Stars: Megumi Ogata, Megumi Hayashibara, Yuko Miyamura, Maaya Sakamoto
Genre: Anime, sci-fi
Rating: TV-MA
Runtime: 154 minutes
Paste Review Score: 9.0

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Since 1995, Neon Genesis Evangelion has penetrated the cultural consciousness with giant robots, angsty teens and esoteric Biblical references. It is the story of Shinji Ikari, a young boy destined to pilot a giant robot called Unit-01 in a future where creatures called Angels are destined to destroy humanity. But Shinji resists his fate, complaining at every turn and freezing with indecision as the survival of humanity lies on his shoulder. It is truly a one of a kind franchise, the brainchild of the genius and deeply depressed Hideaki Anno. It is a franchise that has plagued him for over 25 years, from a series to a slew of movies that worked to rewrite a dissatisfying ending. Now, Anno is finally done. With the release of his latest and last piece of Evangelion media, Evangelion 3.0+1.0: Thrice Upon a Time, the time of the Angels has come to an end. Thrice Upon a Time is the fourth Rebuild of Evangelion film, which is a complete retelling of the events from the original series. The final film in the universe of Shinji, Asuka, Rei and EVAs may not be the best place for franchise novices to start, but it should be a great motivator. Rarely do anime franchises end on such a pitch perfect note, but Anno shows it is possible with Evangelion 3.0+1.0: Thrice Upon a Time. After decades of grappling with what this series means to him and using it as a mechanism to process his own emotional baggage, Anno has finally found closure within his broken world full of angst and hope. This is a gasp of relief, a stifled sob of pride that punctuates a cultural milestone. With the release of this film, Anno is finally free.—Mary Beth McAndrews

9. Annette

annette.jpg Amazon Prime Release Date: Aug. 6, 2021
Director: Leos Carax
Stars: Adam Driver, Marion Cotillard, Simon Helberg
Genre: Musical, drama
Rating: R
Runtime: 154 minutes
Paste Review Score: 5.9

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It’s not hard to understand why Annette attracted those it did. It’s challenging and intense and silly and standoffish, exciting for performers tired of the same ol’ thing and filmmakers who’ve never even heard of it. With a script and music by rock-rascals Sparks (Russell and Ron Mael), and with the unmistakable Leos Carax directing the production, the musical requires adventurous acting from Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard as they play out the winking, provocative entertainment industry popera. What’s a little harder to parse is if there’s as much lurking beneath the surface-level art-snark as its performers valiantly ask us to believe. Sometimes, I was hypnotized by their audacity and ready to follow them anywhere. Sometimes, I was ready to nod off or head out. Annette contains all these things—moments of brilliance, intriguingly odd choices, vapidly odd choices and colossal, wild, whiffing swings—as it struggles to make sense of and goof upon a self-involved life of artistry. Naturally, the film itself is extremely self-conscious. Not only do the Maels pop up in every other scene—checking in on us to see how we’re doing like a significant other glancing over at your face when they’re showing you a favorite film—but we’re explicitly welcomed to and bid farewell from the movie by cast and crew alike. Unfortunately, it kicks off with its best song. As the love between confrontational stand-up Henry McHenry (Driver) and soprano Ann Defrasnoux (Cotillard) goes down its surreal rabbit holes, the songs are slight, repetitive and—worst of all—none as funny or catchy as its opening hook. Annette’s wonders are rare and isolated. Sometimes it works as a cheeky genre undermining. Less often, it works earnestly. Rarer still is when the two methods intersect to create the kind of enjoyable have-your-cake-and-eat-it complexity that colors the best Sparks songs. It’s long enough that you get your fill of each shade and plodding enough that your attention can easily wander from what’s happening to musing about what Carax and team want you to be thinking. But skipping the text for the metatext only offers so much, and Driver’s admirable devotion to Annette’s stylish ecstasies and ironies can only carry its smattering of ideas so far. —Jacob Oller

10. Val

val.jpg Amazon Prime Release Date: Aug. 6, 2021
Directors: Leo Scott, Ting Poo
Genre: Documentary, biography
Rating: R
Runtime: 108 minutes
Paste Review Score: 7.0

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Despite knowing that actor Val Kilmer underwent two tracheostomies after being diagnosed with and beating throat cancer in the late 2010s, the voice box mechanism now implanted in his neck altering his voice to a raspy garble, one might think the actor was somehow effortlessly narrating his own documentary. Kilmer’s 26-year-old son, Jack, sounds eerily like his father once did. And though Kilmer’s difficult-to-parse robotic croak still proliferates Leo Scott and Ting Poo’s documentary (he admits he sounds much worse than he feels), it’s Jack’s voice which acts as the guiding narration throughout—a living, breathing bridge between his father’s past, present and even future; a reminder of what once was and what will never be, and what possibilities still exist in spite of both. Less a documentary, Val is a subjective self-portrait of a prolific actor, and a revealing, often frustrating look at the way he views himself and his life’s work. Though directed and edited by Scott and Poo (joined by Tyler Pharo in the edit), it’s hard to view Val as anything but wholly representative of and handled by the subject himself. Kilmer as star, producer, writer and cinematographer. Along with his son’s narration and the handwritten notes Kilmer etches onto shots, the documentary is almost entirely stitched together by footage that Kilmer’s been amassing since he was a boy growing up in the Chatsworth neighborhood of Los Angeles. Kilmer has two brothers, Mark and Wesley, while his father, Eugene, was an industrialist and real estate developer. His mother, Gladys, was a spiritualist and immensely influential on Kilmer’s lifelong faith in Christian Science—a topic close to Kilmer’s heart and only one of which is interestingly glossed over here. From a young age, Kilmer had a passion for acting and for being both in front of and behind the camera, relaying that he was actually the first person he knew to own a video camera at all. A natural clown and gifted performer, Kilmer revelled as much in an audience’s attention as he did in stepping away from the spotlight and allowing himself to be the spectator. Kilmer’s archival footage—home movies, including short films with his brothers and school plays; behind-the-scenes looks at major films; audition tapes; film ideas—reveal an endlessly curious artist transfixed by the space that he occupies. Kilmer’s dedication to documenting his life is less emblematic of egomania than of the pure desire to record as much of his placement within the world as he can, and of the other people and artists whom he is privileged to experience gravitating towards his orbit. As can be said of its real-life subject, Val is moving, inspiring, funny and fractured. It’s a look at the man and an expansion of the myth, revealing just as much as it continues to obscure. —Brianna Zigler