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 seven 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 eight of the newest movies on Amazon Prime:

1. All the Old Knives

old-knives.jpg Amazon Prime Release Date: April 8, 2022
Director: Janus Metz Pedersen
Stars: Chris Pine, Thandiwe Newton, Laurence Fishburne, Jonathan Pryce, David Dawson
Genre: Thriller
Rating: R
Runtime: 99 minutes

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A steamy spy thriller pairing Chris Pine and Thandiwe Newton should have made a bigger splash, but this adaptation of Olen Steinhauer’s novel of the same name got mixed reviews. The duo play CIA agents and former lovers who reconnect and wrestle with the failures—and betrayals—of the past.

2. Master

master-poster.jpg Amazon Prime Release Date: March 18, 2022
Director: Mariama Diallo
Stars: Regina Hall, Zoe Renee, Talia Ryder, Talia Balsam, Amber Gray
Genre: Horror
Rating: R
Runtime: 99 minutes
Paste Review Score: 7.1

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The legacy of racism forms the economic and ideological foundation of some of the nation’s oldest institutions of higher learning. The specter of slavery haunts the country, and Master isn’t here for an exorcism. Instead, coming out of HBO’s excellent Random Acts of Flyness, writer/director Mariama Diallo makes her debut with a scattershot yet damning nightmare. Her horror is one of symbols, situations and environments. The campus of Ancaster, a fancy-pants New England university, welcomes Black women with locked doors, blaring alarms and white whispers. It doesn’t matter if you’re Gail Bishop (Regina Hall, fantastic as always), a newly appointed Master AKA dean breaking that particular office’s color barrier, or Jasmine (Zoe Renee, who’s been excellent since Jinn), seemingly the only non-white student in the incoming freshman class. Wide-eyed type-A Jasmine and her heavy-browed indie roommate live in one of the haunted rooms making up seemingly every college campus; Gail’s new faculty digs are similarly pockmarked by the past. The problem is that these buildings have been around for a couple hundred years and the school mascot is a witch, so maybe everyone should be on the lookout for the supernatural. But it’s not ghosts that torment Jasmine and Gail. Diallo’s chapter-based descent into the Hell of American history, each circle moving past microaggressions and into more direct displays of hate, shows warring yet intrinsically linked experiences. Jasmine is cold-shouldered by Black cafeteria employees, surrounded by hard-R sing-along partygoers, and academically undermined by her Black literature professor (Amber Gray). Gail navigates tenure committees, portrait sittings and other arenas of prickly professionalism—all punctuated by signs of rot. In both stories, Diallo doesn’t skimp on the visual horror language, hitting the classics (“What’s under the bed?” “Why are there bugs?” “That painting’s weird.”) with straightforward framing and potent, simple camera moves that all but ask us to yell at the screen. One of the movie’s best moments comes when a piece of racist intimidation is cynically, hilariously undercut by a university diversity commercial. It’s in these moments that Diallo shows off her abilities with Flyness’ weaponized uncanniness. But as Master’s tone becomes more complex, so do its results. Diallo undoubtedly strikes at potent topics with skill and sets her collaborators up for success—Hall goes on a rampage, her administrative warmth exploding into an inferno—but its storylines and characters don’t convincingly coalesce. A third act tumbles to its bold conclusion, ending with a powerful ambiguity representative of the horror as a whole: Resonant, but so varied in its ambitions that it’s easy to get lost in its shadows. —Jacob Oller

3. Lucy and Desi

lucy-desi.jpg Amazon Prime Release Date: March 4, 2022
Director: Amy Poehler
Genre: Documentary
Rating: 13+
Runtime: 102 minutes
Paste Review Score: 4.5

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It is impossible to tell the story of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz without also telling the story of the American Dream and its detriment to romantic relationships. But in Lucy and Desi, the business side of things is the only side of the story revealed to the audience. Theirs is a rags-to-riches love story, to be sure, but director Amy Poehler neglects the “love” aspect of the story in favor of the “rags to riches” part. Lucy and Desi doesn’t dig much deeper for information, personal or otherwise, outside of what I Love Lucy fans already know. Instead of unearthing new details on the lives of TV’s First Family, or putting her own fresh spin on the details that have already been widely available for decades, Poehler opts for a surface-level documentary with very little personality compared to its subject. Lucy and Desi have a love story straight out of a Hollywood fairy tale—love at first sight, and on the set of a film they were starring in together, no less. The rest is television history. Their widely beloved sitcom I Love Lucy went on to garner more views than the inauguration of the U.S. president and the coronation of the queen. The show also invented the method of filming in front of a live studio audience, as well as the rerun model still used today. They founded Desilu Productions together, the top television production company until it was sold in 1968. It’s an understatement to say that their chemistry on and off-screen was euphoric, and I Love Lucy wouldn’t land the same without it. I Love Lucy remains one of the funniest and most charming shows of all time due to Lucy and Desi’s clown/straight man dynamic. They really did build something beautiful together; it’s nothing short of a miracle that a protofeminist weekly story of a loudmouthed, goofy housewife and her classy Cuban man got made in the early 1950s, let alone that it was one of the most popular cultural products of the time. Sadly, as is the case with many Hollywood fairy tales, Lucy and Desi’s story turns sour after the fame and success wasn’t enough, but the film stops short of getting into the nitty-gritty of why their relationship fell apart. The film glosses over Desi’s frequent public infidelities, barely mentioning them at all. Just as the film doesn’t sink its teeth into Lucy and Desi’s personal lives, it also doesn’t ask any questions about the mainstream narrative of the second Red Scare wave, which swept Lucy into its tide in 1953. Poehler’s film hits the same notes that we’ve heard before without presenting new information, exploring new territory or asking any new questions. One would get a lot more out of rewatching I Love Lucy reruns and doing one’s own YouTube deep dive. —Katarina Docalovich

4. I Want You Back

i-want-you-back.jpg Amazon Prime Release Date: Feb. 11, 2022
Director: Jason Orley
Stars: Jenny Slate, Charlie Day, Noah Eastwood, Gina Rodriguez, Clark Backo, Manny Jacinto, Luke David Blumm, Isabel May, Pete Davidson
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Rating: R
Runtime: 116 minutes
Paste Review Score: 7.0

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On paper, Charlie Day and Jenny Slate make a rom-com pair of two kinds at once: Unexpected and grating. But the movie making that pairing, Jason Orley’s I Want You Back, proves half of that presumption wrong. Unexpected? Sure. Day doesn’t exactly scream “romantic comedy leading man.” Mostly, he’s just known for screaming. But neither he nor Slate are grating in the least, whether separately or together. Indeed, the movie’s greatest surprise is how well Day and Slate cohere as a duo, which reveals a second surprise, like finding the prize in the cereal and finding another prize stowed away in the box. What happy fortune! Day plays Peter. Slate plays Emma. I Want You Back starts off by cross-cutting between them as they unknowingly compete for gold in synchronized heartbreak: Their significant others—respectively, Anne (Gina Rodriguez) and Noah (Scott Eastwood)—have grown weary of their relationships and decided to move on. Anne dumps Peter at her nephew’s birthday party. Noah dumps Emma over brunch. They don’t take the news well. But by chance, Peter and Emma find each other, bond in the manner of bros, and in a bit yanked out of Strangers on a Train (with 100% less murder), they cook up a harebrained scheme: Peter’s going to help Emma get Noah back, and Emma’s going to help Peter get Anne back. As a narrative, I Want You Back is nothing if not predictable. Screenwriters Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger carve their screenplay out of familiar and easygoing tropes, and do not for a moment appear to have considered taking the rom-com formula in remotely new directions: Lovesick characters devise a plan to cure their lovesickness, they carry the plan out, the plan backfires, everyone has a laugh and maybe sheds a tear, and the movie ends with everything as anticipated. So it goes. But there’s nothing wrong with formula, because formula works when outfitted with the right variables, in this case Day and Slate. They’re a hoot together. More studio comedies should take chances on their principal cast members the way I Want You Back does. Even if little else here worked, at least Day and Slate do. —Andy Crump

5. Book of Love

book-of-love-210.jpg Release date: Feb. 4, 2022
Directors: Analeine Cal y Mayor
Stars: Sam Claflin, Verónica Echegui, Horacio Villalobos
Genre: Romantic Comedy

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What the best of the rom-com genre offers is that ephemeral chemistry that just lights up when the leads appear on screen together, coupled with the snappiest updating of those tropes we know are coming: Opposites attract, enemies-to-lovers, road trip, etc. In the case of Amazon Studios’ Book of Love, the tropes del día include the tried-and-true “cultural opposites attract,” with a dash of enemies-to-lovers and a sprinkle of emotional constipation. Nothing exactly world-changing nor screenplay-shattering for the genre, but it’s the charming chemistry of Sam Claflin and Verónica Echegui that makes director Analeine Cal y Mayor’s work a sweet confection to enjoy. Boasting some modestly budgeted international locale hopping, Book of Love opens in London with Clafin playing the visual definition of buttoned-up as Henry Copper, a floppy-haired wannabe literary darling desperately trying to attract any attention to his six-month old stinker, The Sensible Heart. It’s a book with no passion, no sex and no readers. It’s only when Henry’s new and less-than-sympathetic editor (Lucy Punch) tells him that it’s a surprise hit in Mexico that he gets a second wind. Trying to gain any traction they can for sales, she sends him on an immediate mini book tour with the Mexican publisher Pedro (Horacio Villalobos) and Maria Rodríguez (Echegui), the book’s Spanish translator. As soon as the English-only gringo lands, he doesn’t comprehend that the airport ads for a lusty-looking bestseller, El Corazón Sensible, is actually his book. He only comes to understand when his first book tour stop features a packed house of fans who are mighty thirsty for Henry, and to know more about his inspiration for the story and those blazing hot love scenes. As it turns out, Maria took it upon herself to upgrade his boring book into something better, and no one bothered to pass the changes on to Henry. He’s now stuck doing a three-city tour with her, her grandfather and her 10-year old son Diego (Ruy Gaytan), along with chipper Pedro, in a tiny VW bug. And yes, those close quarters make for plenty of fiery presumptive back-and-forths between a put-out Henry and the equally upset Maria. She’s particularly steamed at being roped into babysitting this nerd when she has always aspired to be a writer, but has never been afforded the opportunity—as her time is filled with a useless ex, single-mothering and caretaking her aging grandfather. Book of Love ends up being a surprising mix of sweet and salty, silly and sincere, that earns those coveted rom-com sighs. —TaraDBennett

6. Hotel Transylvania: Transformania

hotel-transylvania.jpg Release date: Jan. 14, 2022
Directors: Derek Drymon, Jennifer Kluska
Stars: Andy Samberg, Brian Hull, Selena Gomez, Jim Gaffigan, Kathryn Hahn, Molly Shannon, Keegan-Michael Key, David Spade
Genre: Comedy, Animation

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The fourth and final installment of the Hotel Transylvania series was released straight to Amazon Prime after Sony’s theatrical release was scuttled by a surge in Covid cases last fall. Brian Hull replaces Adam Sandler as Dracula, but most of the rest of the star-studded cast returns, including Selena Gomez as Dracula’s daughter Mavis, Andy Samberg as his son-in-law Johnny, Jim Gaffigan as Abraham Van Helsing, Kathryn Hahn as Erika Van Helsing, Molly Shannon as a werewolf, Keegan-Michael Key as a mummy and David Spade as the invisible man. With Dracula retiring, Johnny wants to take over the hotel and transforms himself into a monster to do it. Dracula trying to reverse the transformation accidentally becomes human instead. The only way to set everything back to normal is to retrieve a crystal from a cave in South America.

7. The 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

8. 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