Steve Stebbing

Breaking down all things pop culture

New Releases:

Wonder Park – Paramount is really hoping that this film takes off, about an amusement park that comes from the imagination of a wildly creative girl named June but, as she discovers, something she created as a child has become real in the forest near her house when she becomes a preteen. The voice cast features Jennifer Garner, Keenan Thompson, Mila Kunis, Ken Jeong, Matthew Broderick and John Oliver but looks like the lower than standard fare we are used to from Dreamworks and Pixar. It may be a surprise hit given the ad campaign push but the trailer is pretty bland.

Five Feet Apart – It feels like I heard about this one a long while back and it’s just making its debut now. Riverdale star Dylan Sprouse and Support The Girls’ Haley Lu Richardson, a favorite of mine, lead this film about two terminally ill teens who fall in love after meeting at the hospital. Give Richarson’s involvement in the film I am immediately drawn to this but it could go down the same path we saw in Josh Green’s adaptation of the popular young adult novel The Fault In Our Stars, a film I was a bit late to find but enjoyed a lot.

Captive State – This movie looks absolutely fascinating and I have to say ts due to smart marketing with its trailers not giving a lot of exposition and doing almost what Cloverfield did with an alien invasion angle. The film takes place in Chicago ten years after it has been infiltrated and taken over by an extraterrestrial force. Now subservient to their new overlords, the film explores the human dynamics of everyday life, politics and the formation of a resistance. This is definitely my type of movie through in through and I’m really excited about what Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes filmmaker Rupert Wyatt is bringing in this sci-fi mystery. The cast including Vera Farmiga, John Goodman Moonlight’s Ashton Sanders and If Beale Street Could Talk’s Kiki Layne is just icing on the cake. (Not opening in Hamilton, Kamloops and Oshawa)

Gloria Bell – This is sure to be a great film just based on the track record of Chilean director Sebastian Lelio alone. Winner of last year’s best foreign Oscar for his amazing film A Fantastic Woman and also the man behind the acclaimed drama The Club, it’s really cool to see him continue his rise in the mainstream with his latest, a remake of one of his own. The film follows Julianne Moore as a woman seeking love in the clubs of Los Angeles in her 50s and co-stars the great John Turturro, so that’s two tried and true actor’s actors. (Only opening in Toronto and Vancouver. Opening in additional cities next week.)

Birds Of Passage – In 2015 I raved about an Academy Award-nominated film from Columbia called Embrace Of The Serpent, a black and white movie about two scientists looking for a life-saving plant deep within the Amazon. Made by filmmaker Ciro Guerra, I was so excited to get my hands on his next film, a collaboration with Cristina Gallego, the producer of Serpent. The story follows a decade in an indigenous Columbian families lives as they traffic cannabis for the Medellin cartel on their way to creating their own little empire and the decline into blood and death on the other side of that mountain. This is a well told and brutal story that may go down as one of my favorite movies this year. Guerra is a powerhouse filmmaker and one that filmgoers should start recognizing. (Only playing in Toronto, Edmonton and Vancouver.)

Level 16 – We get some Canadian filmmaking in the releases this week with Manitoban writer and director Danishka Esterhazy’s sci-fi thriller that would fit nicely next to a few episodes of and Canadian’s work, The Handmaid’s Tale. The story is about a girl’s orphanage of sorts, one where the girls are tested on their cleanliness and virtue as the rise up the floors, which translate to viability levels, in hope of adopting a home. Being on a strict regiment of “vitamins”, the two main characters decided to go rogue and unmedicated and end up discovering the sinister truth to their situation. This film actually hits some great heights in its intriguing nature but I feel the bar was kind of set too high when it comes to the returns in plot reveals but the starkness of the production really works with the atmosphere it projects. (Only opening in Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver. Opens in Winnipeg on March 29th.)

The Quietude – I am usually a huge celebrator of French cinema. Just last week I was praising Gaspar Noe’s Climax and am always excited when one of these films crosses into my pathway. This was no exception, a drama starring Edgar Ramirez in a supporting role but, more importantly, led by The Artist’s Oscar-nominated Bérénice Bejo. The film follows two sisters who had always been close until family drama separated them. Now reunited after a tragedy befalls their father, the women reconnect their emotional bond which brings up all their past problems to the surface. Unfortunately, I really felt disconnected from this movie and the heightened nature of the melodrama was a bit too much. There’s also a very uncomfortable mutual masturbation scene with the sisters that was way too inappropriate seeming for me to cheer on. Yeah, I said it. (Only opening in Vancouver.)

Blu-Ray:

Green Book – A working-class Italian-American bouncer becomes the driver of an African-American classical pianist on a tour of venues through the 1960s American South. Academy Award winner Mahershala Ali netted his second Supporting Actor statue in this film that also took the Best Picture Oscar which I was a bit surprised by. The film is extremely well done and deserving of the nomination at least but I do see the problematic issues with the film, being a white made film about racism and the whole “white savior” complex of the story. It’s also a bit alarming that both families of the real characters say this film is nothing but lies but I really enjoy the film on the chemistry between Mortensen and Ali alone and Linda Cardellini, playing Viggo’s wife, is the unsung hero of the movie.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald – The second installment of the “Fantastic Beasts” series set in J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World has arrived on Blu-ray, featuring the adventures of magizoologist Newt Scamander. This is the one everyone has been looking forward to including myself but I didn’t get to see the film in theaters and, honestly, the reviews were a bit tepid when all was said and done. Even still, I enjoyed the first movie more than most of the Potter movies that came before it as I love seeing all the backstory, dealings and politics that led up to the “modern” era of Hogwarts and the world of magic.

Mortal Engines – Peter Jackson steps on board to produce this epic film, one that the trailer almost acts as he directed. The film is about a dystopian future where humanity has mobilized their cities by mounting them on to giant wheeled vehicles to keep them moving at all times. The idea is totally inventive and absolutely intriguing but everything I’ve seen about this movie makes it look like a giant mess to me. To much uncanny CGI, making the actors look awkward against it, but I really want to believe in Peter Jackson’s control on this even though The Hobbit trilogy was a bit of a mess itself.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post – It’s really interesting that this film came out in the same year as Joel Edgerton’s Boy Erased because this film deals with the real injustice of gay “reprogramming” camps as well. Starring Chloe Grace Moretz, the story follows Cameron Post, a gay teen who force her into gay conversion therapy against her will. The movie was made by writer/director Desiree Akhavan who made the great film Appropriate Behavior five years ago and it’s being highly praised for it’s wit, compassion to the characters and high spirit. The inclusion of breakthrough American Honey star Sasha Lane and 10 Cloverfield Lane’s John Gallagher Jr. has me very intrigued and the certified Rotten Tomatoes rating is another draw as well.

Then Came You – A new comedy with a bunch of actors on the upswing of popularity, this movie may be one that flies under the radar of good films due to great work from Ender’s Game’s Asa Butterfield, Maisie Williams from Game Of Thrones and the leader of The Vampire Diaries Nina Dobrev. The movie sounds pretty original on paper, about a hypochondriac who falls in love with a terminally ill girl looking to complete her bucket list. It’s fluffy and weepy but it may just have enough in the tank to surprise you.

Man’s Best Friend – This is a movie that I have vivid memories of this film when it came out over twenty-five years ago, the trailer, the ridiculous premise, Lance Henrickson and the scene where the dogs swallows a cat in a single gulp, although when I think of it is a horror film which apparently it only is secondarily. The story about a genetically engineered Saint Bernard that goes rogue and kills everything in its path is actually a comedy. You can judge for yourself with the new Shout Factory collector’s edition complete with a commentary track with writer and director John Lafia to explain this madness.

The Craft – If you were at any part of your teen years in 1996 then you know how popular this film was when it came out and you know it started so many amateur witch covens. Robin Tunney, Neve Campbell, Fairuza Balk and Rachel True star in this movie about four outcasts who form a pact that becomes dangerous, deadly and still a pretty solid and entertaining watch. Shout Factory brings this sweet collector’s edition packed with extras, I was so excited to receive this one. It’s quintessential nineties.

Steve’s Blu-Ray Geek Out:

Valentine – I don’t know if you’ve figured it out in this running article but I’m a huge fan of cheesy slasher films from any era and the late nineties and early 2000s were so crammed full of these movies. This one came from Urban Legend director Jamie Blanks and had David Boreanaz, which was during the Buffy/Angel days so I was a fan, but also Denise Richards and Katherine Heigl so you’ll have to get past that. The movie is basically about the lonely kid at school who didn’t receive a Valentine so he became a cold-blooded killer. You know, that whole bag. Shout Factory again out does themselves on this one, just Google the gorgeous cover.

The Fifth Cord – Getting hooked up with Arrow Academy and Arrow video has afforded me the very cool ability to check out classics that I otherwise wouldn’t have on my radar. My latest one is an Italian Giallo film about an alcoholic journalist who finds himself wrongfully accused of the murders he is trying to investigate. This is the definition of classic Italian film as it stars Franco Nero, Django himself, a man that just oozes star power and he exhibits that in a huge form in this film. I am admittedly very unversed with a lot of films pre 1975 but this one surprised me and I really enjoyed it.

Netflix:

Arrested Development: Season 5 B – This is one of my favorite comedy shows of all time, a series its own network seemed to hate, cancelling it three separate times. Well, Netflix seems to have the correct amount of love for it and revived it. I will admit that season four was a bit rough but I really did enjoy it on a rewatch when the “remix” was released, a very nifty little addition to the series thanks to what an incredible platform this streaming service is. Because of this, my hopes will always be heightened.

Love, Death & Robots: Season 1 – This has got me hook, line and sinker as I’m a sucker for a good anthology. Simply put this is eighteen animated short films written and directed by Deadpool’s Tim Miller and executive produced by the great David Fincher. The trailer is frenetic, in your face and totally pulse-pounding, it has me so pumped up for the launch on Friday. This is definitely the binge-worthy gem you’ve been waiting for, stoners!

Paskal – This delves into the international action side of the new content, as this film comes from Malaysia and looks very intriguing. The film follows a group of special forces elite unit within the Royal Malaysian Navy called PASKAL or Pasukan Khas Laut. The story depicts a true mission they were sent on under Lieutenant Commander Arman Anwar to rescue a tanker occupied by Somalian pirates, kind of like the tactical team that showed up to save Captain Phillips. This could be a great one.

Turn Up Charlie: Season 1 – I’ve been looking forward to this series ever since Idris Elba signed his Netflix deal. He plays a DJ named Charlie who has struggled to find any success in the industry. To make some extra cash he reluctantly decides to be the babysitter for his rich friend but with one simple catch, the kid is an absolute nightmare. I’m a huge fan of Idris’s work and I’m really interested to see him take on some lighter fare in a comedic show. I think this may be the best one as far as new original series goe this week.

Triple Frontier – A Most Violent Year director J.C. Chandor and the Academy Award-winning writer of The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty team up to create this new action thriller featuring the killer cast of Oscar Isaac, Ben Affleck, Charlie Hunnam, Garrett Hedlund and Pedro Pascal. The film is about a team of special forces who, disillusioned with the low pay scale they got from their country, decide to take their payment by orchestrating a heist against the criminals they were once paid to take down. The trailer for this one is intense, can’t wait to see it.

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New Releases:

Captain Marvel – It feels like forever since a large part of the Marvel universe got dusted at the end of Avengers: Infinity War at the hands of Thanos and now, after so many long months of waiting, we get the main to piece to the Mad Titan’s defeat. Battling trolls even before she battles Skrulls in the movie, people already are throwing shade at star Brie Larson but I think she is perfectly suited to play the strongest character in the MCU. I also love that this story takes place in the mid-nineties and has a de-aged Samuel L. Jackson and Clark Gregg plus the villain is played by a great villain actor, Ben Mendelsohn. I am so freaking hyped for this movie.

Blu-Ray:

Creed II – Under the tutelage of Rocky Balboa, light heavyweight contender Adonis Creed faces off against Viktor Drago, the son of Ivan Drago. Hey, what can I say? I’m an 80s action film kid so of course, I’m a Stallone fan. I’m game anytime they bring Rocky out and this film does not disappoint. Sure, it misses the touch of Ryan Coogler but the fight scenes are fantastic, seeing the continuing love story between Donny and Bianca is so great and the return of Dolph Lundgren to the Drago role is an experience I didn’t know I had been waiting for until it was upon me. This movie kicks some serious ass.

The Favourite – Director Yorgos Lanthimos returns to astound after The Killing Of A Sacred Deer and The Lobster, this time directing a film that he had no hand in writing at all. The movie has The Crown actress Olivia Colman playing Queen Anne, frail and descending into madness during the 18th century. Her closest friend, played by Rachel Weisz, dotes on her constantly and handles the business portion of her rule but things are put to the test when a new servant arrives in the form of Oscar-winner Emma Stone and a jealous battle ensues. This film is absolutely amazing, like a dark comedy version of Stanley Kubrick’s Bary Lyndon, and deserves all the accolades it is getting. All three women are incredible but Colman is the focus and will now break through to the A-list after winning both the Golden Globe and Oscar for Best Actress. This is my number one for 2018, more because I didn’t see Suspiria until this year but I still let it stand in that spot.

Instant Family – A couple find themselves in over their heads when they adopt three children, a teen, a preteen and a six-year-old. Starring Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne, this film is actually based on the experience of the writer and director Sean Anders, who Wahlberg made both of the Daddy’s Home movies with. This movie is a really weird mix bag of odd dramatic choices with corny music, moments that felt like an infomercial for adoption and a smattering of funny moments. Both the lead stars are charming either on their own or together but it really isn’t enough to save the film for me. I’m baffled to why the Rotten Tomatoes score is so high and certified.

Ben Is Back – Whoever is managing actor Lucas Hedges career is seriously as gifted as this young star is because he is making all the right moves in Hollywood. Look at his resume and you’ll see. This time around he plays a young man returning home from rehab to his loving mother played by Julia Roberts. His addiction and actions before going away caused a deep rift between mother and son but, wanting to make up for his past, he ends up falling back down the path which almost destroyed him to get final closure. I’m not usually a big Julia Roberts fan but the story of this film has me very interested as well as the always stellar work Hedges brings to his performances.

Vox Lux – This film almost looks like the story of a Lady Gaga style pop singer, played by Natalie Portman in a performance that is getting some notoriety with critics. The film is written and directed by actor Brady Corbet who, in his second feature, is hitting some grand scale filmmaking here with some absolutely gorgeous art direction and visuals. My issue with the film is that after it’s violently shocking opening, the film never seems to achieve any other grand scale, aside from a scene in a diner with Portman’s Celeste character and her daughter and the final concert scene which features music by written by Sia. I also think the choice of having Raffey Cassidy play both the younger version of Celeste and her daughter was a little confusing and offputting.

Free Solo – Follow Alex Honnold as he becomes the first person to ever free solo climb Yosemite’s 3,000ft high El Capitan Wall. With no ropes or safety gear, he completed arguably the greatest feat in rock climbing history. This movie made me say “nope” almost like a mantra but I was so happy to see this film win the best documentary Oscar, especially since my favorite docs of the year, Won’t You Be My Neighbor? and Three Identical Strangers weren’t even nominated. This movie will test you though and Alex’s final ascent to the top will keep you gripping your seat in the sheer terror of that notion of falling into nothingness. As a man with a severe fear of heights, this one damn near gave me an anxiety attack.

Don’t Go – A new mystery thriller starring Stephen Dorff and phenomenal Aussie actress Melissa George, this film is about two parents grieving the loss of their young daughter in a freak accident on the beach. Dorff’s character keeps having vivid dreams about the day she died and believes it is a conduit to the other side and that he can pull his daughter back through to the land of the living. Unfortunately, from what I’m reading, the movie focuses on the moroseness from both characters rather than thrills and intrigue.

The Mercy – A true story from a director well versed in bringing these stories to the big screen, Oscar winners Colin Firth and Rachel Weisz star in this film about amateur sailor Donald Crowhurst who tried to sail the world by himself. This looks like an enduring film about perseverance against the elements of the sea and the emotional connection to his family back home. I’m interested in hearing one of the final film scores from Jóhann Jóhannsson, who passed away at the beginning of 2018, and the cinematography from the eye being Into The Wild and The Motorcycle Diaries’ Eric Gautier.

The Vanishing – This movie looks really great, bout three lighthouse keepers who find themselves in possession of a chest full of gold with the prospects of some really bad men coming after it. The film stars Gerard Butler and Children of Men’s Peter Mullan but I find the filmmaker behind it interesting as he directed many episodes of Tom Hardy’s series Taboo and the Danish version of The Killing. Also having it lensed by the guy behind the fantastic Mads Mikkelsen film Flame & Citron is awesome as well.

Welcome Home – Aaron Paul and Emily Ratajkowski star in this dopey little thriller about a couple that head out to a remote air BNB in Italy, trying to recoup the relationship after an affair almost broke them up. Too bad this house is filled with cameras for the creepy neighbor to spy on them. Beyond the initial premise of this movie, there is not a single interesting thing to be had in this movie. Both Paul and Ratajkowski might as well be playing themselves in their own wardrobes it looks like and it all seems to be a ploy just to see the former model naked as much as possible. This is not some to satiate us until the Breaking Bad movie, Jessie!

Liz And The Blue Bird – With all the different things Shout Factory has been sending me, one thing I’ve been trying out is anime and I’m not sure that it’s a fit for me. Take this film for example, it’s not totally fantasy or sci-fi driven but is about two girls joining together to earn a prestigious music scholarship but also running alongside the story in a connected but parallel existence that I can’t explain due to utter confusion is Liz and the Blue Bird, based on a German fairy tale. This is the thing about anime that makes me stop wanting to continue. The convoluted stories, loose plot and high pitched and annoying voice over. Pass on this one.

Steve’s Blu-Ray Geek Out:

Four Weddings And A Funeral – Another addition to the Shout Select series, this is the movie that pushed Hugh Grant into the international spotlight and made Andie MacDowell the “it” girl for a while. I believe this is also the first big theatrical hit for Richard Curtis as well. The movie is pretty simple, about a bachelor that falls in love over the course of five big events, well, that are told to you in the title. This is definitely a Brit classic and a worthy one at that.

The Poison Ivy Collection – Four steamy thrillers starring four separate actresses in the manipulative lead roles with Drew Barrymore, Alyssa Milano, Jamie Pressly and Miriam McDonald in each respective film, although I couldn’t tell you who that last one is other than she is Canadian. Shout Factory has gifted me this set of films that I assume will go from bad to worse but the first two hold that special place as they were released in an era that I wasn’t allowed to watch them being taboo at my age. It is not well known that the first two films were directed by women and the one who started it all, Katt Shea, provides commentary on each movie.

Waterworld – This epic movie that was the most expensive movie of its time gets another chance to shine again as it deserved with this brand new limited edition which includes a longer version only seen in Europe called the “Ulysses Cut”. This movie, I thought, was unfairly maligned and was actually pretty groundbreaking for an epic film in the mid-nineties, one I remember seeing in theaters and absolutely loving. It created it’s own rich world, a post-apocalypse we’ve never seen before complete with a tested hero in Kevin Costner and a formidable villain in the amazing Dennis Hopper. This one still holds up too.

Netflix:

After Life: Season 1 – Whenever I hear the name Ricky Gervais I am automatically interested, especially in series form, as this is the man who brought us The Office, Extras and Derek, plus the countless other things he has been a part of. This series looks so great, although it looks like it will play on some heavier themes like his last one. The series follows a man that goes from Mr. Nice Guy to social terror with a don’t give a shit attitude when his wife dies. A good cast around Gervais with The Strain’s David Bradley playing his father, It’s All Gone Pete Tong’s Paul Kaye and his Extras co-star Ashley Jensen.

The Order: Season 1 – This one looks like it could go one of two ways, cool or super cornball. It is a supernatural mystery series about a college student who finds himself trapped in an eternal war between werewolves and warlocks after his mother, the only one protecting him, is murdered. The trailer makes me think it has a built-in audience on Netflix with those who have binged Supernatural, The Vampire Diaries and The Magicians and it really made me laugh to see that the headquarters for the main characters is Riverview in Coquitlam, B.C.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall – Definitely, one of my favorite comedies of the 2000s this Jason Segal movie will always have a place in my heart. The story is about Peter, a guy who just went through the most brutal break up with the supposed love of his life. To try and get over it he goes on a solo vacation to Hawaii only to find out that his ex is there with her new boyfriend Aldus Snow played by the insane Russell Brand in the first role I ever saw him in. If you haven’t seen this one yet you have to change that immediately.

Happy Gilmore – An absolute Sandler classic, you know, back when his movies were hilarious and the juvenile nature of his movies was charming. He stars as a hockey player booted out of the sport for his temper who puts his skills to use playing golf in order to save his grandmother’s house. This culminates in him defeating the great Shooter McGavin, played fantastically by Christopher McDonald. You know, the guy who eats pieces of shit for breakfast.

New Releases:

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral – Tyler Perry is moving onto the next phase of his life and in order for him to do that he needs to put a merciful end to him dressing up as an old woman like he was basketball star Larry Johnson playing Grandmama in the nineties, so, naturally you’d have a funeral. You know it’s a really slow week when this film is your big release but here we are. I don’t really expect any sort of deviation from your regular Madea film, I’m just glad we aren’t lampooning horror anymore and that Perry can put his oldest character, as well as the other three he plays in this series, to bed. (Only opening in Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver)

Greta – This looks amazing! Chole Grace Moretz stars as a woman who finds a purse and ID card on the subway and returns it to the owner Greta, played by a favorite of mine Isabelle Huppert. From what I can glean from the trailer, Greta is a lonely woman who uses the ploy of returning these lost belongings as a lure from young women into an obsessive trap and I am definitely here for it. Directed by Neil Jordan as well as co-written, the notion that this comes from the mind behind The Crying Game just makes it all that much more intriguing. (Not playing in Hamilton, Kamloops or Barrie)

Climax – If the name of director Gaspar Noe is familiar to you then you know how prepared you have to be for one of his movies. Whether it’s the first few minutes of Irreversible, that insanely long assault scene in the middle or the last few minutes of Enter The Void, it’s fair to say I’ve been shocked and pushed to the limits by this acclaimed director before and his new film does just that while, at the same time, being one of his more restrained movies. Don’t take that as him going easy on you because he doesn’t. This movie is about a dance group rehearsing in a snowy building when they come to the slow realization that their sangria has been spiked with LSD. As the drug takes hold they descend into a madness that strips away all of their humanity in this hypnotic and dread filled journey all to an incredible soundtrack of beats. Highly recommended but know what you’re getting in to. (Only opening in Vancouver)

Apollo 11 – It feels like a long time coming for a story like this to be told on the biggest possible movie screen, the IMAX. A story fifty years in the making, we get the full-scale story of the Apollo 11 mission with archive accounts from Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin plus it will feature never before seen footage. For an immersive space history experience, this film definitely the ticket. (Only opening in Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver)

Ruben Brandt, Collector – If you take a mix of beautiful hand-drawn art and computer created animation and throw it into a vat of a heist film and a suspense thriller you might have the beginnings to understand exactly what this film sets out to be. Smart and ambitious, the story follows art collector Ruben Brant, a man who by profession is a famous psychotherapist only driven to pursue these art pieces to satiate and stop the continuing nightmares he has about each piece of art attacking him. Odd story, right? This is what makes the film and it’s endgame so intriguing though and the approach to each famous painting is enthralling with the embrace of the visual attitudes that make them iconic. Not everyone is going to get this one but those who do will love it. (Only opening in Vancouver)

Goalie – With the subject matter of hockey you already have my attention with that part of my Canadian roots being as well represented as it is. I love hockey and hockey movies are very cool, especially real-life hockey stories like The Rocket and Miracle. This is why I was looking forward to this film, the story of legendary goaltender Terry Sawchuk, a talent that showed his extreme toughness in the time when goalies didn’t wear face protection. Unfortunately, this movie plays with all the emotion of a Heritage Minute, giving way to the usual cliche of Canadian filmmaking. The most disappointing aspect of the film is the wasting of Kevin Pollok’s talents as coach Jack Adams and lead star Mark O’Brien has so much potential and did great work in Halt And Catch Fire and last year’s The Front Runner. (Only opening in Toronto and Vancouver)

Blu-Ray:

Ralph Breaks The Internet – Six years after the events of “Wreck-It Ralph”, Ralph and Vanellope, now friends, discover a wi-fi router has in their arcade, which comes in handy when Venellope’s machine gets broken and the two must search for the replacement piece in the vastness of the internet. I really adored the first film so I was really excited to see what the continuation of these characters’ stories would be but after a pretty shaky start, it only manages to be passable, not generating enough of a great story to warrant a second film. I will say there is some great stuff with the Disney princesses that may be worth seeing the movie for based off of that.

Mary Queen Of Scots – Saorise Ronan and Margot Robbie are the draw to this historical epic and probably were supposed to be vying for awards last week in this film about the warring cousins Mary Stuart and Elizabeth I. Coming from first time director Josie Rourke, this movie did see Oscar nominations in make-up, art direction and costume design, three categories it, unfortunately, lost in. Unfortunately even with all the great acting from Ronan, Robbie and supporting actors Jack Lowden and the stalwart Guy Pearce, this movie felt a bit muddled in the storyline delivery with some questionable choices in its execution. Those who enjoyed the Cate Blanchet Elizabeth films will probably gravitate towards this but I think it comes up short in comparison.

The Possession Of Hannah Grace – This little exorcism horror film that premiered at the beginning of December came and went like most of these genre films from Sony. Yes, I’m looking at you too, Escape Room. The story is interesting though, with the corpse of a girl being brought into the morgue after an apparent exorcism. Later that night the evil inside her reanimates the body, terrorizing the main character, a morgue attendant. This is definitely not going to be everyone’s cup of tea but as a horror fan, the trailer had me hook line and sinker. The only thing I would say this movie could do to lose my interest is to rely on jump scares but with enough atmosphere, which is one thing I think it has going for it, you can get past it.

Border – This Swedish thriller is both wholly disturbing and totally engrossing at the same time. It follows a woman born with a condition that makes her look almost like a caveperson but gives her the ability to sniff out fear on people, a skill that makes her customs job a very easy one. When she comes face to face with a man the same as her she is thrown into a fast education of what she really is. Coming from the mind that created Let The Right One in, remade as Let Me In, this movie is dark in its nature but is mainly a story about self-discovery and realization. That said, this one is going to be a really tough sell for a casual viewer.

Rampant – In sort of a genre mash-up, zombies have found their way to martial arts films in this new South Korean film set at the end of the Joseon era. Following a prince returning home after ten years away, his homecoming is disrupted by an ancient evil that reanimates the dead into bloodthirsty creatures with superhuman strength. I have a usual proclivity to love any film from this country but this one felt so confused and disjointed in the plot. It’s hard to know what the stakes are for each character until its right in front of your face and the amount of undead and their abilities are very flexible it seems and how fast the infection spreads. I know these movies are supposed to be taken too seriously but there need to be a few ground rules.

The Little Mermaid – Everyone that is within a decade or so of my age knows the look of a movie shelf full of the white clamshell VHS tapes of Disney’s iconic library of movies. If you know this then you also know that these classics are always released from “the Vault” and we always clamoured o get them before they went back in for another five to ten years. Well, this childhood staple the everyone knows and can sing along to gets the anniversary edition this time around as the film also celebrates the thirtieth year since it’s theatrical release.

The Mole People – Shout Factory digs into the horror world of 1956 when a party of archeologists uncover a five-thousand-year-old society of mutants living under a massive glacier at the top of a Mesopotamian mountain. Obviously, this movie will only appeal to a certain niche of movie watchers but getting a look at these brand new digital transfers, for me, is fascinating. Digging deeper into that movie nerd stuff, this Blu-Ray will present the film in two separate aspect ratios, 1:85-1 and 2:00-1.

Steve’s Blu-Ray Geek Out:

Obsession – It feels like the gods of cinema have been shining down on me recently, especially when it comes to my little focused movie obsessions, which is fitting with this movie given its title and the director behind it. Piggybacking on the retrospective documentary of Brian De Palma’s career, this is a film featured that I had never gotten the chance to check out. Starring Cliff Robertson, it’s about a rich businessman who discovers a woman that looks like his dead wife and pursues her with reckless abandon. Being the king of thrillers and coming out during that absolute sweet spot in his filmography, this is a satisfying watch dripping with style in a beautiful Shout Factory collector’s edition.

The Plague Of The Zombies – A real golden oldie makes the list of Shout Factory releases, made back in 1966, this was actually shown as a double feature when it came out with another of Shout’s releases, Dracula: Prince Of Darkness. Made in a time where the zombie genre was burgeoning just before George Romero would catapult it into stardom with Night Of The Living Dead, this one has the added effect of being a period piece set in 1860 in a village infected with the living dead. Is it disease? Is it voodoo? Who knows. This one is actually considered one of Hammer Films best.

The Serpent’s Egg – Coming from acclaimed master director Ingmar Bergman, this is his only Hollywood film in his entire catalogue of films. Starring David Carradine and his staple actress Liv Ullmann, this is a twisted mystery thriller about a man disappearing into the madness of despair, depression and alcoholism as he tries to find the truth behind the suicide of his brother and the deaths of close friends afterwards. Bergman explores weird thems in his iconic surreal style including anti-semitism during the period between World Wars I and II in a rebuilding Berlin. The Arrow Academy special edition has archival footage and a featurette on the historical appreciation of the film.

Bloody Birthday – For those on the fence of whether to have kids or not, this campy movie from 1980 should push them right off that ledge. Diving into the creepy kid side of movies this slasher film follows three kids born under an evil moon who, on their tenth birthday has an insatiable need to draw blood by killing everyone they can, family members included. The trailer for this is so hilariously bad that it is entirely intriguing and now you can pick up this Arrow Academy special edition of the movie to Riff Track with your friends at home. The Blu-Ray has archival footage, retrospective featurettes and a kill count which is so cool.

Netflix:

A Monster Calls – The last amazing thing that filmmaker J.A. Bayona did before the disappointing Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, this movie is visually stunning as well as moving and filled with a beautiful message. The film follows a boy who is championed by his dying mother but it hopelessly bullied at school, so much so that in his despair he ends up enlisting the help of a monster who lives in the old tree outside of his window. One of the best-reviewed movies that year, I’m really excited to see this movie get more exposure on Netflix as it is a very special movie.

Budapest – This is going to be one of those oddball foreign films I know I’m going to love. The film is an insane romp story about two friends who decide to quit their corporate jobs out of the blue and start a bachelor party planning gig in Budapest. This sounds like a screwball comedy that could have fallen out of the 80s with that description but this one is directed by French filmmaker Xavier Gens, a stylish creator usually known for horror with his movies Frontier(s) and The Divide. This could be quirky enough to gather some clout.

Eighth Grade – An introverted teenage girl tries to survive the last week of her disastrous eighth-grade year before leaving to start high school. A film that got rave reviews, awards and accolades for young lead actress Elsie Fisher, it’s also interesting to note that this is the debut for writer/director Bo Burnham who, before this was known for his YouTube channel, stand up comedy and the limited roles he had in TV and movies. It was announced that the film will be shown in 100 schools across America which is such a special honor for a movie like this and I’m so happy to see it get recognition. Netflix is also another fantastic way for this to get the attention it deserves.

La La Land – It’s about time this best picture winner… scratch that… best picture runner up arrived on Netflix. A lot of people seem to have a hate on for this movie but I still really adore it and I’m a guy that hates musicals to a large degree. Damien Chazelle crafts a wonderful little fable about two dreamers in the form of very beautiful people, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, living in L.A. and looking to make their respective marks. The film is vibrant and colorful and the original music from Justin Hurwitz is catchy and I found myself humming it immediately after watching it for about two weeks.

Losers: Season 1 – Netflix has a brand new documentary series, this one taking a look within the sports world. This isn’t your regular look at perseverance, championships and accolades. No, this is about losing the game whether by a small margin, blown out, embarrassingly, spectacularly, however you are handed defeat, this is a series about that. Beyond that, this show is about how we handle defeat and failure in society. A fascinating look at something a lot of hockey parents should get their eyes on.

New Releases:

How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (Only opening in Vancouver) – The epic trilogy of Hiccup and toothless comes to an end with this film. After discovering each other in the first film and bonding the relationship of dragons and Vikings in the first movie, leading Hiccup to the role of leadership in the second one, this movie brings it all home with Toothless finding that he is not the last of his kind and there is a subterranean world of dragons for him to join. These movies are done beautifully and in feature length, have not depreciated in how entertaining, endearing and full of love they are. I expect this one to close out the trilogy on a fantastic note.

Fighting With My Family – Being an absolutely massive wrestling fan it feels like I’ve been waiting for this film since last Wrestlemania in April because, well, I have since that’s when we got our first trailer. This is the story of Paige, the youngest women’s champion ever in WWE and the daughter of Nick and Saraya Knight a kickass wrestling family out of the UK. When Paige and her brother Zak are offered tryouts for the top company in the world, WWE, they are put to the test in a make or break competition against the others selected. I am excited to see that the reviews for this one are actually pretty damn good.

Never Look Away – It’s been almost nine years since Best Foreign Academy Award-winning director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck made his English language debut with the cringeworthy but somehow Golden Globe-nominated The Tourist, a movie that left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. Now he’s back in his native Germany for this true story melodrama about an artist whose past was marred by Hitler’s Germany when his sister was condemned to death for being diagnosed with Schizophrenia. The biggest problem with this movie is the bloated runtime of three hours and ten minutes which makes pacing a serious issue. The acting is great and there are many very special scenes and cinematic moments but due to the monstrous length of the story, I felt my connection to characters was a bit fleeting.

Everybody Knows – Real life couple Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz star in this brand new film from acclaimed director Asghar Farhadi, his much anticipated follow up to the Oscar-winning film The Salesman. The film follows Cruz as the mother of two from Buenos Aires who head back to her small hometown outside of Madrid for the wedding of her sister. Through a series of unfortunate events, all of her past secrets and motivations for leaving are thrust into public light. For those who don’t know, Farhadi is a director of serious momentum, making masterpiece after masterpiece, and it seems like this is his first stumble as the word is that no matter how good acting and directing holds in this film, it just doesn’t add up to a satisfying experience.

Blu-Ray:

A Star Is Born – A musician helps a young singer and actress find fame, even as age and alcoholism send his own career into a downward spiral in this third remake. This is an excellent movie, punctuated by brilliant performances from Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga with great music that will get caught in your head plus pacing and direction that keeps you engrossed, also by Cooper with the eye of master cinematographer Matthew Libatique. There’s such a pent up soul running throughout this film and feel it does real justice to the story, even if it’s one we’ve seen three times before. This may be a bit crazy for some but I think that this might be my favorite.

Overlord – The story of two American soldiers behind enemy lines on D Day. From producer J.J. Abrams, this movie was originally going to be released as a Cloverfield movie but now we get this badass looking action horror that has style and some cool gore special effects, all with an edge to it that will have old computer gamers like me thinking of Wolfenstein for the PC. Another great selling point is the film stars Wyatt Russell, channelling a bit of McCready for his character. Definitely a fun and bloody ride.

Can You Ever Forgive Me? – When Lee Israel falls out of step with current tastes, she turns her art form to deception. An adaptation of the memoir Can You Ever Forgive Me? the true story of best-selling celebrity biographer Lee Israel, Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant deliver brilliant performances in this dark dramedy about two pretty damaged individuals who found friendship with each other by doing the bad deeds of duping literary collectors. Both actors are well deserving of their award accolades and nominations and for McCarthy it puts her into a whole new echelon of dramatic work that she obviously has more than enough talent for. I also have to mention that director Marielle Heller followed up Diary Of A Teenage Girl with another stellar outing, this time using a script from another great writer, Nicole Holofcener.

Robin Hood – This movie got savaged in reviews. Seriously, just look one up. Another adaptation of Robin Hood we didn’t need with Taron Egerton, unfortunately, falling victim to a bad movie because, honestly, I’ve enjoyed pretty much everything he’s been in, Jamie Foxx’s Little John is, at one point, sporting Air Jordans from what friends tell me which should tell you all you need to know about this retread that I only want to be entertaining given the cast involved but I’m sure to be disappointed.

Iceman: The Time Traveler – If you have a martial arts film and it stars Donnie Yen then you bet I’m interested in watching it, even if I haven’t seen the first one in the series as is the case with this one. This movie is cornball as it gets when it comes to its story and as far as production value goes it seems to range from high budget in the set department to laughably low when it comes down to simple computer effects. I also had a hard time gauging what audience it was being aimed at as it feels goofy and lackadaisical at times the pretty violent and a bit bloody at other times.

The Mermaid: Lake Of The Dead – This movie is definitely not The Little Mermaid but more of an evil mermaid who tries to lure a man into her dark underwater kingdom. A film from Russia that was picked up by Shout Factory, this one predicates itself on the jumps scares entirely which is a sort of pet peeve of mine along with really bad dubbing, another shortcoming of this movie. The sad thing is the film isn’t necessarily a bad film from a horror film stance but the issue is that it feels restrained from really going off the rails in any degree which damages it wholly.

F.W. Murnau’s The Haunted Castle & Finances Of The Grand Duke – My first review copies from the company Kino Lorber, these are now the oldest films in my collection as the movies were made in 1921 and 1924 respectively. The Haunted Castle is a murder mystery about a group of aristocrats waiting to confront a rich Baron about the death of his brother. The second film is a comedy about a financially failing Duke who is looking for big ways to refill his bank account. Both of these films come from German director F.W. Murnau, most famous for his film Nosferatu.

Steve’s Blu-ray Geek Out:

Screamers – Based on a Philip K. Dick story, I vividly remember the trailers for this Peter Weller sci-fi horror film and now Shout Factory has picked it up for a new special edition. The story follows a group of soldiers who are in the midst of negotiating the end of an intergalactic war when they discover that the robots that they had designed to destroy the enemy have gone rogue, trying to eradicate both sides. This is an interesting commentary on drone warfare way ahead of its time. The reviews at the time weren’t great but it really is just a fun and vapid film that has a lot of action and violence.

Suburbia – This is the true debut film of Wayne’s World director Penelope Spheeris, an angry punk commentary on the society of the time, based off of the “Decline Of Western Civilization”. Shout Factory put together this great anniversary edition of a movie that pushed boundaries in its inception, creation and release but has been sadly forgotten since. Something really cool is you can see the Red Hot Chili Peppers bass player Flea in this one, credited as Mike B. The Flea, long before the California band hit mainstream status. Spheeris credits this as “a time when I was a good filmmaker before I sold out”, a quote included in the commentary on the Blu-ray.

Gosford Park – One of the masters of ensemble dramas the late Robert Altman crafted an incredible film with this story about the separation of class between aristocrats and servants when murder strikes a dinner party in 1932 England. An Academy Award winner for Best Original Screenplay, this was the jumping point for writer Julian Fellows to craft Downton Abbey, the massively popular BBC series that gets a feature film later this year. Arrow Releasing nails this special edition, providing a 2K transfers, separate commentaries with Altman, Fellows and historians and brand new never before seen interviews and Q&As.

Netflix:

Paddleton – This one looks like a great little indie darling about two quirky neighbors that form a shaky relationship when one of them is diagnosed with terminal cancer. Starring Mark Duplass and Ray Romano, the film has been getting some solid reviews based on the chemistry between the two stars and the emotional wallop it contains. One of the leading hits for this week I think.

Paris Is Us – I am definitely always in for some experimental French cinema and that is exactly what this looks like. The story is almost Final Destination-like as it is about a woman who skips a flight to Barcelona that ends up crashing, killing everyone aboard. Her existence afterwards seems to become ethereal in the notional that she narrowly avoided death. The trailer for it is pretty hypnotic.

Suburra: Season 2 – Delving into the international series side of Netflix, this is a mafia story in the motherland of Italy, a young and brutal Sons Of Anarchy filtered iteration of the genre series. Entering its second season, there are now a total of twenty episodes of this heightened gangster saga and, so far, I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve seen. It was also created by Michele Placido, the director of a killer little Italian film from almost fifteen years ago called Romanzo Criminale.

Gomorrah: Season 2 – It’s really a week for international Mafia shows as this series makes it’s Netflix return for another season for another twelve episodes with a third that just finished airing and a fourth premiering at the end of next month on Sundance TV. Like Suburra, this is another violent gang saga, this time following a bloody battle for power as the main character Ciro strives for control of his crime syndicate.

The Drug King – I seem to be playing up a theme right now but his film comes from a different country this time, South Korea, so it also puts it right into my wheelhouse of foreign favorites. The story follows a drug smuggler creating his empire in 1970s Busan and looks deliciously stylish and something I can not wait to start watching.

New Releases:

Happy Death Day 2U (Opened Wednesday) – The fact this sequel exists kind of infuriates me as I absolutely hated the first movie. In sort of a Groundhog Day meets Mean Girls story, the movie was about Tree, a girl that relives her birthday over and over, the day always ends with her murder at the hands of a figure in a baby mask. The new film returns to that trope but looks to be bigger and badder, roping her friends into the equation. A Lot of my friends loved this first film so maybe I’m missing something?

Isn’t It Romantic – Rebel Wilson is now in the lead role after playing supporting roles in the Pitch Perfect franchise and the middling hit How To Be Single. This film takes a little of that It’s A Wonderful Life approach but genre specific as Wilson plays a woman disillusioned with the dating life and wakes up in a corny rom-com. Co-starring Liam Hemsworth and Priyanka Chopra, this movie doesn’t have a lot of potential in my opinion, either being mildly chuckle-worthy or absolutely awful and cringe infused. This could be this year’s I Feel Pretty and yes, I’m setting the bar low.

Alita: Battle Angel – This movie has had a long and arduous journey from the pages of manga to the big screen. James Cameron bought the property over fifteen years ago before the Avatar films had taken hold of his creative mind. Delayed due to the development and production of that movie, Alita didn’t really begin it’s development process until Robert Rodriguez was hired to direct in 2016 and after another release delay, as it was supposed to come out in July last year. Now it is here and has some middling reviews. It tries hard to build a universe to make more films from, which may deter some viewers, but those who love good sci-fi will be all over this one. I am hyped.

Arctic – An absolutely harrowing survival drama, this entire film rests on star Mads Mikkelsen’s shoulders as he is pretty much the only actor in it. He plays a man that crashed his airplane in the middle of the frozen arctic. Stranded for weeks, he musters up the courage to try and make his way across the brutal landscape for rescue. The tension of this movie as he moves from one life-threatening situation to the next keeps you wound up from the start with great direction and beautiful cinematography. This is one of those atmospheric adventure films that will play great on the big screen. (Only opening in Toronto and Vancouver. Expands to more theaters next week)

Blu-ray:

Bohemian Rhapsody – A chronicle of the years leading up to Queen’s legendary appearance at the Live Aid (1985) concert. This is the movie that fans have been waiting for but it does kind of run through things in a sort of greatest hits of the band’s career. Rami Malek is a total force in the film and no matter how many issues I have with hearing Freddie Mercury’s voice come out of anyone other than himself, he does deserve the acclaim and awards he’s receiving for the role. I don’t believe that this is a best picture worthy film at all those, there are so many that could occupy that spot and the fact that it already took the Golden Globe and is an Oscar frontrunner is a bit baffling. The cool thing about the Blu-ray is that Live Aid performance I mentioned at the top of this is included in its entirety on the special features.

The Front Runner – American Senator Gary Hart’s presidential campaign in 1988 is derailed when he’s caught in a scandalous love affair. Coming from director Jason Reitman about a really hopeful political figure who was smeared into failure, I thought this might get a lot of attention for lead star Hugh Jackman but it really just fizzled during awards season. I think this story is an interesting one to look at in the current political climate and I really like Jackman and Reitman individually so I’m intrigued by what they could do as a team.

Nobody’s Fool – A woman is released from prison and reunites with her sister. She soon discovers that her sister is in an online relationship with a man who may not be what he seems. This doesn’t look like a Tyler Perry movie or feel like one but it is in a weird almost gross-out comedy at times, the most “mature” humor I think he has ever been in his career. The driving force and saving grace is Tiffany Haddish, spreading her wings in the quasi-lead role getting the lion’s share of the focus the majority of the movie. This is until a large part of the third act doesn’t even seem to feature her, really only fleetingly. This movie also feels largely overstuffed with one contrived plot point after another. At least I got a handful of laughs along the way.

Shoplifters – Acclaimed Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Koreeda returns with another slice of life in Japa but this time from a very different part of the societal ladder. The film follows a group of criminals stealing and grifting to put minimal food in their bellies and, although they’re not really related, together they form a family of sorts. Koreeda once again crafts an incredible mosaic of characters, this time on a path that will never turn out well for any of them. The focus of the film, young Shota, a boy who was discovered as a baby in an abandoned car, moves from childhood innocence to the harsh realities of the world quicker than he should and the result is heartbreaking. The emotional depths this story plums is beautiful and it’s an incredible send-off for actress Kirin Kiki who passed away a few months ago.

Band Vs Brand – For as long as I can remember in music the longevity of a musician or bands career is hinged on the quality and push of their brand, something more important than the actual music itself it seems. This documentary, through the participation of a few members of the rock and heavy metal scene of the 80s and 90s like Dave Lombardo of Slayer and Dave Ellefson of Megadeth, help break these components down in lay man’s terms. What are the royalties like, the continuations of bands after members have died and dealing with the family’s estates? What kind of permissions are given with tribute bands and, an interesting one with me, what is the deal with hologram performances? The thing going against this documentary is the low quality of production but the content is all there and it’s informative for sure.

Steve’s Blu-ray Geek Out:

10 To Midnight – As an old action movie fan I’m so excited to own my first Charles Bronson movie and what better one than a film with him racking down a deranged serial killer. Shout Factory debuts it’s collector’s edition of a classic but horribly reviewed, Roger Ebert giving it a zero, the actioner with the Death Wish star comes from the esteemed director of Cannon’s King Solomon’s Mine if you can remember that special little movie. It’s so weird to think that Bronson had plastic surgery to look younger for this movie.

Cobra – Speaking of my childhood obsession with action films, this one was without a doubt a top ten favorite growing up. Sylvester Stone stars as Marion Cobretti also known as Cobra, a no-nonsense cop with a cool truck and even cooler weaponry (it had lasers!) who finds himself up against a cult of bloodthirsty serial killers carving up his city as he tries to protect the star witness. This comes from Rambo: First Blood Part 2 and Tombstone director George P. Cosmatos, the father of the man who gave us Mandy, Panos Cosmatos. I can only say that when this one crossed my doorstep I felt a sense of happiness that is too nerdy to describe. I also own the DVD.

De Niro & De Palma: The Early Films – Arrow releasing might become my new favorite distributor with Shout Factory as they are obtaining properties that are massively intriguing to a film buff like myself. This is a brilliant coupling with last years documentary De Palma, a retrospective look at the great filmmaker’s career, but the film starts with a look a the college films he did with his friend and lead actor Robert De Niro, Now, through this release, we get a look at those films, The Wedding Party, Greetings and Hi Mom!, the movies that put both of these future legends on their path.

Netflix:

Larry Charles’ Dangerous World of Comedy – A brand new documentary series, this follows Borat and Bruno director Larry Charles as he seeks out comedy in war-torn countries, bad neighbourhoods and with those who have gone through incredible strife. The show looks pretty intriguing with it’s quest to find the funny in the most unusual of situations. I really like that Netflix picks up such a diverse selection of docu-series.

The Breaker Upperers – A brand new movie from New Zealand comedy duo Madeleine Sami and Jackie van Beek, this is also produced by What We Do In The Shadows own Taika Waititi which already has me watching this immediately. The story has a couple of friends who run a business of brutally breaking up with people for their clients. The trailer is really funny and shows that snappy and awkwardly quirky dialogue that I come to expect from the Kiwis. I’m a huge fan of their film and television.

The Departed – Get out your deep Boston accent as this brilliant adaption form Marty Scorcese of a fantastic Hong Kong crime action thriller. Winner of the best picture, director, screenplay and editing at the 2007 Academy Awards, this movie is a beautifully intricate story of two different undercover informants in the FBI and Boston mob, the later led by Jack Nicholson, playing a character based on Whitey Bulger. If you haven’t seen this movie it is a must, the film I think responsible for the next needed push in Leonardo DiCaprio’s career. I haven’t seen it in years so I will definitely rewatch it.

The Town – Keep that Massachusetts way of speaking locked in because those great people at Netflix added this heist film, one of those rare movies that make that genre mark like Michael Mann’s Heat. Ben Affleck wrote, directed and starred in when I am pretty sure is the crowning achievement in his career. I’ve watched this one many times and it’s great with each and every time.

The Umbrella Academy: Season 1 – This brand new Netflix original is based on the comic series from My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way and is sort of like if Addams Family crossed Charles Xavier’s School For The Gifted from X-Men had a fifteen-year reunion. Starring a very cool cast of Ellen Page, Misfits’ Robert Sheehan, Colm Feore and even Mary J. Blige. Yeah, I’m really excited for this one, Just check out the trailer and you see the fun I’m talking about.

New Releases:

The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part – How do you recapture the lightning in a bottle that was the first Lego Movie? I’ve been a fan of the Batman and Ninjago movies that followed but none have been quite as good. The good news is the advance reviews on the follow up have been really good and while it definitely is not to the calibre of the movie that got this huge ball rolling it will satisfy your craving for all that Lego goodness and the voice cast is too good to pass up with Tiffany Haddish and Stephanie Beatriz joining Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks and Will Arnett.

What Men Want – This is a movie that should have never been made. When the Mel Gibson film What Women Want was released late night talk show hosts and comedians made the joke that they should make this movie and it would be five minutes long. Now almost twenty years later we get the real punchline as the studio has pushed through this abomination starring Taraji P. Henson that has a trailer that is one of the most repulsive things I’ve set eyes on this year. I have zero hopes for this movie and it shouldn’t exist at all. I’m adamant on that. (Not opening in Kamloops)

Cold Pursuit – About five years ago Stellan Skarsgard starred in a Norwegian film called In Order Of Disappearance, a revenge flick about a respected local plowman and a grieving father who exacts violent retribution on the crinal organization that was responsible for his son’s death. Liam Neeson got a look at it and seemingly ended his action retirement to remake the film with the original director and I really wish they just left it alone. Were the original came off as darkly funny this movie negates that for a more cartoonish approach, right down to Neeson’s performance. Skarsgard had a real broodiness to his performance and Liam decided to bring his Taken attitude into this film. Just watch the Norweigan film, trust me. (Not opening in Hamilton)

The Prodigy – Are we about done with creepy kid movies especially after it has been done so much better in the past? Hereditary, I’m definitely looking at you. This movie has Orange Is The New Black’s Taylor Schilling as a mother who is increasingly frightened and disturbed by her son’s increasingly erratic behaviour, suspecting that it is a supernatural possession. This seems to be the wheelhouse of director Nicholas McCarthy but what’s interesting is the film was written by Midnight Meat Train scribe Jeff Buhler who has Pet Sematary later this year. My hopes for this one are low though. (Not opening in Kamloops and Oshawa)

Blu-ray:

Widows – Set in contemporary Chicago, amidst a time of turmoil, four women with nothing in common are forced to accept a debt left behind by their dead husbands’ criminal activities, take fate into their own hands, and conspire to forge a future on their own terms. The buzz around this movie is huge and with an incredible cast and the amazing Steve McQueen directing and adapting a Gillian Flynn book I’m not surprised. Viola Davis takes command in the lead role and this movies awards snub gives me more ire at the voting academy.

The Girl In The Spider’s Web – Young computer hacker Lisbeth Salander and journalist Mikael Blomkvist find themselves caught in a web of spies, cybercriminals and corrupt government officials. Rather than continuing with the Daniel Craig/Rooney Mara version, we’re rebooting entirely with this one starring Claire Foy from The Crown but it comes from director Fede Alvarez who hasn’t failed me yet with Don’t Breathe and another remake, The Evil Dead, in his rearview. Another thing that has me excited is the inclusion of Sylvia Hoeks in the cast, who definitely steals some scenes in Blade Runner 2049.

The Grinch – A grumpy Grinch plots to ruin Christmas for the village of Whoville. Illumination Entertainment, the people behind the Despicable Me movies, take the reigns for this animated adaptation featuring the voice of Benedict Cumberbatch. I had a lot riding with this one. Besides Sing and Minions, I have been behind Illumination as an animation company and I adore the co-director Scott Mosier, aka Kevin Smith’s bestie and Port Moody native, but there’s something that bugged me about it and it was that it all felt so unnecessary. This movie brings nothing new to the table and just sort of lands like a mediocre pile. Cumberbatch doesn’t add anything special and in the end, it made me appreciate Ron Howard and Jim Carrey’s live-action adaptation.

Suspiria – A darkness swirls at the center of a world-renowned dance company, one that will engulf the artistic director, an ambitious young dancer, and a grieving psychotherapist. Some will succumb to the nightmare. Others will finally wake up. A remake of the Dario Argento classic, this is one of my most anticipated films of the year and the reviews are through the roof as all my friends that got eyes on it loved it. I really dig the dedication director Luca Guadagnino has to his work and his collaborations with Tilda Swinton have always been memorable pieces of cinema. Even more intriguing beyond that is this is the film composer debut of Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, joining his counterpart Jonny Greenwood in film scoring.

Mid90s – The film follows Stevie, a thirteen-year-old in 90s-era LA who spends his summer navigating between his troubled home life and a group of new friends that he meets at a Motor Avenue skate shop. This one is Jonah Hill’s directorial debut, which is an incredibly authentic little drama driven by great performances from lead star Sunny Suljic and the best managed young actor in Hollywood today, Lucas Hedges. Hill land his first film with absolute finesse, encapsulating a generational feel that went into my very core. You do not want to sleep on this movie and I can not wait to see what Jonah does next.

A Private War – One of the most celebrated war correspondents of our time, Marie Colvin is an utterly fearless and rebellious spirit, driven to the frontline of conflicts across the globe to give voice to the voiceless. I hear this movie is great and Rosamund Pike deserves all the awards recognition she has been getting as she consistently is moving up the ladder of the A-list. It’s only a matter of time until she brings home the Oscar. I also find it fascinating that this is the feature narrative debut of documentary filmmaker Matthew Heineman who earned an Academy Award nomination for Cartel Land in 2015.

All The Devil’s Men – This is an action film that I have honestly never heard of but the leading lady Sylvia Hoeks is what draws me to it, this being her second home video release this week. The movie is essentially a manhunt movie with government agents headed to London to take down a disavowed CIA agent played by Mel Gibsn’s kid Milo. What excites me even more about this movie is that it was written and directed by Matthew Hope, the mind behind a killer little indie film called The Vanguard.

The Cloverfield Paradox – I’m totally aware that this is a Netflix release, sold quickly off by Paramount, but for a collector like me, it’s very cool to see all the Cloverfield Blu-rays together on my shelf. This movie didn’t get the love it should have in my opinion because it’s a fun sci-fi thriller with a bit of dark humor to it and I loved the way it tied into the franchise’s overarching storyline. I’m really hoping that this whole universe starts picking up steam and adding new stories.

Netflix:

High Flying Bird – Anytime the words “directed by Steven Soderbergh” are used my ears automatically perk up as He is a filmmaker I feel delivers more often than not. I enjoy how different each of his stories are and this one is no different, dealing with a star basketball player during the middle of a lockout. When approached by his agent with an interesting idea to keep active he must make a decision that may be controversial in the public eye and to those who own the team he plays on. The film features Atlanta’s Zazie Beatz who seems to be in more and more these days.

ReMastered: The Two Killings of Sam Cooke – Another “tape” drops for this fascinating docu-series delving into the possible conspiracies within the music industry. This episode takes a look at Sam Cooke, a black singer who was widely popular and murdered way before his superstar time. Was it just a random killing or was it due to the fact that he was close friends with Muhammed Ali and Malcolm X? Was he deemed a threat by a shadowy government? All of these questions are so intriguing.

Jaws: Complete Franchise – Starting with the blockbuster that started it all, those great people at Netflix have added a great popcorn series of shark attacks that definitely in descending order of quality. The great thing is that Roy Scheider stars as Chief Brody in the first two before we go 3D with Dennis Quaid before the Revenge with Michael Caine. Either way, this could be such a fun series to go through, maybe even worthy of a podcast. Hmmmmm.

The 40-Year-Old Virgin – I would be so hard pressed to pick my absolute favourite between this movie and Knocked Up but this movie may have the slight edge just in the way the cast is utilized. Steve Carrell plays Andy, a quiet nice guy who sells home theatre equipment and happens to have never had sex with a woman, now into his forties, and plays it so earnestly. Netflix, besides being about binge series and finding new original films, is also about the rewatch and having great entertainment at our fingertips. This is certainly in that category.

Ray Romano: Right Here, Around the Corner – Looking for his own piece of Netflix the Everybody Loves Raymond star returns to the stage for his first special in over twenty years but this one has a little twist to it, taping it in two segments at a couple of comedy clubs a block away from each other. His comedy is pretty clean and much like his television show was. It’s funny that the creator of the series, Phil Rosenthal, got his food based reality series before his star did.

New Releases:

Miss Bala – Its been a bit of a rough ride from woman led action films, especially recently as they search for the next “Jane Wick”. In the last few years, we got a kick-ass Zoe Saldana in Columbiana and Charlize Theron as an Atomic Blonde but had Jennifer Garner stink up the joint with Peppermint. This Catherine Hardwicke film is looking to break that mould with Gina Rodriguez. Based on a Spanish language film, the story has her character going from kidnap victim to vengeance seeker for the death of her best friend. The fact that Hardwicke is the eye behind this feature, her first action film, has me very interested.

Wonders Of The Sea – An immersive documentary narrated by Arnold Schwarzenegger, this film takes you deep under the sea in glorious 3D, exploring from Fiji to the Bahamas with the Cousteau family. This feels like one of those movies that gets played at the Vancouver Aquarium or at the Science World Omnimax but it’s great that it will get the exposure of playing in a regular theatrical run and the Disney Nature films usually do well so this one could possibly do it as well. Definitely take the world curious kids to see this one.

Blu-ray:

The Nutcracker And The Four Realms – A young girl is transported into a magical world of gingerbread soldiers and an army of mice. This is as close to the actual story of the Nutcracker that I know extends as this movie is more focused on telling it’s own weird and pretty emotionless tale which is sad because it comes from two really great directors, Lasse Halstrom and Joe Johnston. The cast is a bit wasted in this film as well and when you can’t capitalize with Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren and Richard E. Grant there are some problems.

Boy Erased – The son of a Baptist preacher, played by Lucas Hedges and Russell Crowe respectively, is forced to participate in a church-supported gay conversion program after being forcibly outed to his parents. Joel Edgerton directs and stars in this film which is painfully relevant especially given who the current Vice President is. Only two films into his directorial career and Edgerton is sitting on the cusp of A-list filmmaking. I’m really looking forward to what he has next.

Hunter Killer – An untested American submarine captain teams with U.S. Navy Seals to rescue the Russian president, who has been kidnapped by a rogue general. Gerard Butler apparently shows a little restraint in his usual action star stature in a rare submarine thriller opposite Gary Oldman, an Academy Award winner. Something about this movie screams direct to video and I can’t shake it, possibly because the submarine action film is a rarely tested sub-genre. This has been mentioned as a guilty pleasure by more than a few film fans I’ve seen so this film may be one of those sleeper hits.

The Wife – A wife questions her life choices as she travels to Stockholm with her husband, where he is slated to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature. Glenn Close stars in the titular role and delivers an Oscar-caliber performance, one that has already gotten her a Golden Globe and a tie for the Critic’s Choice award. I had hoped to see her name on some top ten lists when this came out and my wish has been granted as this film may be a career highlight. I highly recommend that everyone checks this one out.

Slice – A horror film and future cult classic that didn’t get the wide release treatment, this is a movie I have been dying to check out, no pun intended. The movie is about the urban legends that for around the news report that a pizza delivery driver had been murdered. This movie comes from Chance The Rapper collaborator Austin Vesely and stars Zazie Beetz who has been on a hot streak after Deadpool 2 and the hit series Atlanta. Even if this movie is totally terrible, I’m in it to see Chance turn into a werewolf. Yes, that happens.

Kidding: Season 1 -This show is absolutely amazing and definitely my favorite series in the last year. Jim Carrey stars as Mr. Pickles, a Mr. Rogers like character in every way. Has loveable puppets, beautiful and catchy songs and a way to really speak to children. Jeff, the man who portrays Mr. Pickles, is the main face of a multimillion-dollar brand, a father grieving the tragic death of his son and a husband dealing with the separation from his wife. The reunion with Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind filmmaker Michel Gondry is brilliant on all levels as this series hits emotionally with humor and that incredible artistic flair we love from this acclaimed auteur. This is must-see television.

The Game: Complete Series – To be completely honest on this one, I thought it was a different series but that’s the great thing about reviewing television is I get the chance to go outside my wheelhouse to watch something in its entirety that I wouldn’t have when it aired. This show was on BET for ten seasons, a spin-off of the show Girlfriends, and has bits of nostalgia throughout its cast like Sister Sister’s Tia Mowry, Coby Bell of Third Watch, Sweet Valley High’s Brittany Daniel and Brandy, you know, Moesha. Yes, like I said, outside my wheelhouse.

Sarah T.: Portrait Of A Teenage Alcoholic – A television movie from the mid-seventies, this is a cautionary tale for that generations youth and a film that gets funnier and funnier in retrospect. Starring Linda Blair, two years after The Exorcist, and featuring Mark Hamill, two years before Star Wars, this was one of Lethal Weapon and Superman director Richard Donner who couldn’t even remember the title when asked about it years later. This movie is a prime example of why I adore Shout Factory because they love plucking these little films from complete obscurity and giving them a Blu-ray spotlight. These are truly treasured collectors edition.

Jonathan – Ansel Elgort is an actor who’s profile should have been on the rise when Edgar Wright’s perfect action film Baby Driver came out. He was a finalist for the role of Han Solo in the prequel among other prominent roles recently and is at the top of many casting director’s lists but until the wide audience develops that appreciation for him that will catapult him to the A-list, I’m glad he’s making movies like this. A little dark drama-sci-fi, he plays a man living a solitary life in an apartment who appears to share his body with another version of himself, one who comes awake in the nighttime hours. When his nocturnal self begins to date a woman, the existence of the other is thrown into chaos with their true nature on the cusp of being exposed. This movie takes a bit to settle in but midway through the second act, it all becomes too intriguing to ignore. Check this one out f your into an odd tilted but pretty original thriller.

Steve’s Blu-ray Geekout:

8MM – Let’s continue my love of Nicolas Cage again this week, shall we? Now, I know Joel Schumacher is the greatest theatrical comic book villain that has ever lived but there are many points of brilliant light to his work, 8MM being one of them. The film follows a private investigator hired to find out if a discovered snuff film is authentic, throwing him into the world of creepy BDSM, sleazy clubs and dirtbag porn filmmakers. Cage stars alongside Joaquin Phoenix and James Gandolfini before either of their big breaks and, even better, Schumacher provides commentary for the Blu-ray! Oh, happy day.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels – An absolute comedy classic, I have very fond memories of this hilarious team-up of the hysterical Steve Martin and one of the classiest and staunchly tough British actors ever, Michael Caine. In case you’ve never had the pleasure of checking this out, the movie follows two con men who make an outrageous bet to see who can swindle a young American heiress out of her money. The film, directed by Frank Oz, is the standout role of actress Glenne Headly’s career and maybe the best think Oz has ever done, you know, aside from the Muppets, Yoda and Death At A Funeral and, oh yeah, he has commentary for this one.

Netflix:

The Back To The Future Trilogy – If you have not had the chance to indoctrinate your kids with this childhood formulating classic, well, isn’t Netflix providing you with a great opportunity today. Watch the full journey of Marty McFly and Doc Brown as they go to the past, the future and back to the past again for the wild west in this Steven Spielberg produced, Robert Zemeckis directed uber classic that is definitely one of the greatest trilogies ever made. Yeah, that’s right, I don’t care what you think about the third movie. Also, this is the groundwork for Donald Trump’s entire presidency in the form of Biff Tannen. Once you see that comparison it is impossible to shake.

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial – Speaking of childhood staple movies, a lot of people have mixed feelings about this Steven Spielberg film. My wife was terrified by the cute little alien of this film as a child while I absolutely adored it. I loved Elliott and his sister Gerty, the Reese’s Pieces connection and, hell, I cried my eyes out when I thought E.T. was going to die. It’s an indelible part of my childhood and I hope to make it part of my daughter’s with the help of Netflix who are really swinging for the fences with this addition at the beginning of February.

Velvet Buzzsaw – There’s great news for those people who loved Nightcrawler with Jake Gyllenhaal because director and writer Dan Gilroy has reteamed with the actor for this brand new horror thriller. The story is fascinating, about a series of painting discovered by a money-obsessed art critic that start killing the people who purchase them and I’m not talking about ghostly killings, more like the subjects come out of the painting to kill your ass. This movie looks amazing and is getting really great reviews. I also love how gonzo Gyllenhaal looks in the movie. This could be pure brilliance.

Russian Doll: Season 1 – I might be putting a lot of hopes into this new series but I believe it has all the elements of a massive hit. Natasha Lyonne stars as a woman who is trying to escape a party thrown for her. The compounding issue is that every time she makes a break for it she dies and then is reset to the beginning of the party again in sort of a Groundhog Day scenario. I really hope I threw you for a swerve in that description because that is exactly what the trailer did for me. Created by Lyonne, Amy Poehler and the very funny Leslye Headland, this is probably your next binge but after Velvet Buzzsaw, please.

Nightflyers: Season 1 – This one looks interesting and is guaranteed to grab a big audience immediately as it is the new Netflix made George R.R. Martin sci-fi series and the trailer for it is electric. I’m pretty settled with the knowledge that the Game Of Thrones writer’s penchant for making people squirm and taking out the series favourites will take hold but the whole thing really reminds me of Event Horizon and I could definitely get behind that in episodic form. Damn, this is a pretty golden week for new stuff to steam.