Steve Stebbing

Breaking down all things pop culture

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.

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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.

New Releases:

Serenity – The trailer looks intense for this movie with Matthew McConaughey playing the captain of a fishing boat who is lured into a murder plot by his ex-wife, played by a blonde Anne Hathaway. In a desperate plea to free her from an abusive husband in the form of Jason Clarke, McConaughey’s ensuing reactions delve him deep into a work where his reality begins to get a bit warped. The film is written and directed by Steven Knight, a great writer who has found success on television with Peaky Blinders and Taboo and in the movies with Eastern Promises and Dirty Pretty Things but even better than that his directing career is pretty solid with this movie following up the phenomenal one location and actor film Locke with Tom Hardy. I have a great feeling about this movie. (Not opening in Hamilton or Kamloops)

The Kid Who Would Be King – Joe Cornish is a name that people need to know and if this film gets the audience push I think it deserves people will know the name soon. As a director, he has just one other film under his belt, Attack The Block, an amazing sci-fi action mixed with a British urban sort of Gremlins type story but as a writer, he has made films with Edgar Wright, Steven Spielberg and set the groundwork for Marvel’s Ant-Man. Now he looks to revive the King Arthur story in modern days with kids at the center. Adding to that we get Patrick Stewart playing Merlin that rocks Led Zeppelin t-shirts and a villainous Rebecca Ferguson trying to take over the work. I am so excited to take my daughter to this film.

Destroyer – Nicole Kidman is an actress that people either like or do not it seems but there is no doubt that the Oscar winner has resided for a long time on Hollywood’s A-list and given anyone’s feelings on her, every one of these actors has those movies in their career that is a defining role. This is one of Kidman’s. Playing a character who is extremely unlikeable, she stars as a worn down and jaded police detective who is dragged back into a past undercover case that shaped the ruining of her personal life. This movie is a slow burn of dark reveal from director Karyn Kusama, Kidman in the grim driver’s seat as the past is revealed, painting the picture of the hardened and haggard face she displays throughout. (Not opening in Hamilton, London, Kamloops, Barrie or Oshawa)

Racetime – Canadian animated films don’t usually get a fair shake and for a good reason as they all feel subpar to their American counterparts, sometimes by a slight margin but mostly by a large one. This film comes from the French-Canadian side of our country, redubbed for us of the English speaking variety. The story is very simple, big sled race with the local kids in town centred around the hero Frankie Four Eyes and his crew. Aside from Noel Fisher of Shameless fame and also the guy who voiced Mikey in the Ninja Turtles reboots, this movie has no real star power and the repurposed foreign animated films are honestly a bit dodgy to me. This may be a “wait for video” movie, kids. (Not opening in London, Kamloops, Barrie or Oshawa)

Cold War – Nominated for a Golden Globe and an easy move from the Oscar shortlist to nominee, this movie is really the only competition for Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma. Acclaimed director Pawel Pawlikowski crafts a love story between two people from totally different backgrounds with completely opposite viewpoints of the world, taking place in Poland, Berlin, Paris and Yugoslavia during the Cold War. This one looks like a film that will tug at the heartstrings as, from the outside, this relationship looks like a doomed one due to the world these two inhabit. I really wish I had seen this one before the year’s end as it possibly could be one of the best. (Only opening in Toronto and Vancouver)

Blu-ray:

First Man – A look at the life of the astronaut, Neil Armstrong, and the legendary space mission that led him to become the first man to walk on the Moon on July 20, 1969. Surprisingly, this movie only got nominations in technical categories and missed out on Ryan Gosling going for another kick at the Oscar along with director Damien Chazelle and composer Justin Hurwitz who I thought was a definite nominee having won the Golden Globe. This movie will be home theatre gold, I guarantee it.

Beautiful Boy – Based on the best-selling pair of memoirs from father and son David and Nic Sheff, Beautiful Boy chronicles the heartbreaking and inspiring experience of survival, relapse, and recovery in a family coping with addiction over many years. This film is at its heart all about the performances of Steve Carrell and Timothee Chalamet who deliver this soul-wrenching story off a kid spiralling out of control, falling deeper and deeper into addiction while his father tries to save his child from a disease he doesn’t understand. This film plays everything so real and so close to the beautiful bond between father and son it left me emotionally breathless by the end.

Johnny English Strikes Again – After a cyber-attack reveals the identity of all of the active undercover agents in Britain, Johnny English is forced to come out of retirement to find the mastermind hacker. For some reason, Universal decided that we needed another installment of this dated comedy starring Rowan Atkinson and that is exactly how this movie feels. Every spy trope that Jonny has rung the bell for he doubles back to hit. Want to see him goof on virtual reality and walk into traffic? Well, have I got a movie for you! Seriously, this movies is ten years back in comedy, maybe more.

Here And Now – Sarah Jessica Parker stars in this film that follows a New York singer for a day after she receives a diagnosis o a fatal brain tumour. The movie pretty much goes as you think, the stages of acceptance turning to an introspective look that ends with her trying to reconnect with those she loves and make amends and because of that, this movie fails to make a mark. Even still, Parker gives a very good performance which really is the saving grace of it.

The Sisters Brothers – In 1850s Oregon, a gold prospector is chased by the infamous duo of assassins, the Sisters brothers. A western with the cast of Joaquin Phoenix, John C. Reilly and Jake Gyllenhaal is enticing enough on its own but adding the fact that Dheepan and A Prophet director Jacques Audiard made this catapults it to must-see as he takes the western genre and breaks the egg open to play around with the yoke within. Yes, the brothers are ruthless killers that would put a bullet in you just as quick as have a conversation but it’s a quality that they are starting to detest about themselves just as vehemently. This movie is all about dramatic character change just hidden within violent lawlessness.

Anthropocene: The Human Epoch – Filmmakers travel to six continents and 20 countries to document the impact humans have made on the planet. Coming from the filmmakers behind Blackfish, this film is like a post-mortem on the damage we are doing to the earth, truly terrifying, and now a winner of best documentary from the Vancouver Critic’s Circle. Be warned, this film doesn’t play to any conventional documentary storytelling, instead letting its imagery speak for itself. This it does with a loud voice as we see the healing sab of the earth being torn out again and again. It really is that gut punch of humanity.

Steve’s Blu-ray Geekout:

Dracula: Prince Of Darkness – Shout Factory is reaching far back in the vault to 1966 for this Christopher Lee Hammer film classic. The movie is Dracula standard stuff, a group of English tourists get stranded and end u unwittingly finding an abandoned castle that houses the ancient evil of the prince of darkness. The real treasure is watching Lee play this iconic character in a silent performance and it’s one you can listen to him talk about in a commentary track that was made for the initial DVD release.

Murder By Death – Talk about a gold mine of a classic film in the Shout Select series. A Neil Simon written mystery-comedy featuring a cast including Peter Falk Alec Guinness, Peter Sellers, Maggie Smith, Truman Capote and David Niven. A story that definitely served as the inspiration for the movie version of Clue, the film takes place at a dinner party where the eccentric hosts announces that there will be a murder when the clock strikes midnight and a million dollars will be given to the person who solves the crime. To end this write up with a nerdy tidbit, this is what Guinness was working on when he was given the script for Star Wars.

Netflix:

Animas – The trailer for this little fantasy thriller is one of those hard ones to decipher but this Spanish Netflix addition is definitely intriguing. Based on a novel, what I can figure out about it is there’s a group of teenagers that are connected through deadly visions that the main character has given to them through a portal to the other side. Spain is the country that gave us the [REC] series and Guillermo del Toro. I will give this a chance.

Black Earth Rising: Season 1 – A brand new series produced by Netflix, this show stars Chewing Gum’s Michaela Coel as a survivor of the Rwandan genocide who is adopted by a prominent London barrister and follows the family business. As an adult, she works for Michael Ennis (John Goodman) and takes on a case against an African militia leader. The show comes from Hugo Blick who did the highly rated Maggie Gyllenhaal series An Honorable Woman.

Kingdom: Season 1 – Many times Drex and I have talked about the zombie genre and how it consistently needs that fresh breath to keep it from decaying. I mean, let’s face it, even The Walking Dead is nearing the end of its popularity. The freshness is what makes this new series so great as its taking that zombie stuff and throwing it back to the medieval Joseon period in Korea. Adapted from a webcomic, the adaptation was put together by the acclaimed director of Tunnel and is right up my alley of South Korean film. Those who were all over Train To Busan, this is an easy binge for you.

Medici: The Magnificent – If you like your Borgias like drama you’ll want to get a look at this new series starring Sean Bean set in Florence during the Renaissance. The show is just as cutthroat, a bloody rise to power show with a good looking cast around its lead from one of the guys behind The X-Files and the director of the 1983 thriller The Day After. This show is the second season in the continuation of this families lineage, the first series being led by Bean’s Game Of Thrones son Richard Madden.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Season 4, Part 2 – I just absolutely adore this insane comedy series. It has no tether and is Tina Fey and 30 Rock co-creator Robert Carlock making a heightened fish out of water story through the filter of the hilarious and adorable Ellie Kemper. I know a lot of people don’t really vibe with this show given its quirky nature but I think the ensemble of Kemper, Tituss Burgess, Carol Kane and Jane Krakowski are fantastic and this show is one of my immediate binge shows on Netflix when the seasons are released.

New Releases:

Glass – A lot of people like to say that M. Night Shymalan’s days as a great filmmaker are over and, while I will concede that he made three of the worst movies I have ever watched, he has some really great things in his rearview mirror including a solid two previous films. His most recent film Split tied into my favorite of his movies Unbreakable which brings us to the culmination of his superhero trilogy here. The unfortunate thing is this film is getting some absolutely dismal reviews which has me very concerned. Did I overhype this movie in my head, something M. Night wasn’t capable of delivering on or is this movie going to be one of those misunderstood movies that I will cherish like a deep guilty pleasure? It worked for Venom, didn’t it?

Stan & Ollie – This is an example of a film that it seems everyone else loved and I’m wondering if I missed something. Starring Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly, this is a biopic about the legendary comedy duo of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy but instead of focusing on the origins, we join these two in the middle of their careers with the strain of having to keep up physically and mentally had started to form cracks in their resolve. The main piece of this film is the resilience of the relationship as friends, collaborators and, most of all, business partners. Being about comedy you might think that this would be a comedy itself but it really is far from it. Instead, director Jon S. Baird makes this a character drama, one that rests heavily on the shoulders of its stars and those being portrayed which unfortunately makes the film a tad bland, making its final resting spot in the unforgettable pile. That aside, the cinematography is just as big of a star as the two leads, done by Ben Wheatley’s usual director of photography Laurie Rose.

Capernaum – Nominated for a Golden Globe and on the Oscar shortlist, this drama from Lebanon is a heartbreaking journey through the eyes of a child. The film follows Zain, a young boy who is suing his parents for the simple act of being born. Going through the backstory his mother and father cheat and steal using his help to make a living and when they sell his sister into marriage Zain decides that is the final straw causing him to run away. He finds a young Ethiopian mother who is forced to hide her infant son and decides to stay and help. This movie shook me, a real look into the class struggle, racial divide and poverty in the third world. It will haunt you.

Science Fair – A documentary from National Geographic, the film follows nine students from across America who have won entrance into the most important science fair in the world, The International Science and Engineering Fair. I really enjoyed this one, glimpse into the young minds trying to make an impact on our planet with some very ambitious ideas and practical methods to achieve it. All they need to do is win the ISEF Best In Fair to kickstart it. The film is both fascinating but sad when you think of the current status of schooling and science during the current government administration.

Blu-Ray:

Halloween – A massively anticipated movie for me given my obsession with the John Carpenter original, this follow up forty years later had a lot riding on it for me. I’m so happy to report that this movie totally satisfied all of my Michael Myers cravings and fanboy needs with its homages but still managed to keep its own identity and forge its own path. It’s not the Blade Runner 2049 of follow-ups but gives a beautiful resolution to the story that the Master Of Horror started in 1978 and provides some great thrills and, for me, an infinitely rewatchable story.

Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween – Who would have thought that Jack Black would find himself the cushy little niche genre of family horror? Well, between the first Goosebumps film, which was a pretty big hit, and The House With A Clock In Its Walls, a movie that surprised me with its gothic fun, he seems to be doing a pretty stellar job. This might be the reason that this sequel seems to be on the losing end as they decided to do this movie without Black and it was definitely detrimental as this one is being called a total dud. The kids may glean a small bit of enjoyment from it but not as much as its predecessor.

The Old Man And The Gun – Writer and Director David Lowery and his usual actor counterpart of Casey Affleck reunite for this film about an ageing bank robber played by Robert Redford who has a gentlemanly report to his heists knocking off banks across America during the 1980s. Lowery has this incredible ability to immerse you in his films, something he has done with every film so far. The way he achieves this is the rich detail he gives to not only the time period but the feel of America at the time right down to being shot on Super 16 film. David Lowery is one of the most interesting filmmakers out there and if this is truly Robert Redford’s final onscreen film then he did it with a filmmaker that really understands the man’s legendary look and status.

Madeline’s Madeline – Another film that seemed to skip me when it came to landing like a cinematic masterpiece because I didn’t really get this one and furthermore it kind of annoyed me. The story is about a troubled teen girl with a volatile relationship with her mother who forms a creepy obsession with a theatre director. The movie is well acted, with standout performances from Molly Parker, Miranda July and newcomer Helena Howard, but it never really hit a consistent tone for me. Touted as “experimental cinema”, I feel like this film should have been something I’d be on the same wavelength with but it’s an arthouse mismatch.

Howling III – I’ve known about the Howling for a long time. I remember seeing the VHS cover of the original Joe Dante film and its sequels including this special one right here which gets the Shout Factory collector’s edition treatment. See, I didn’t know the oddity of the third movie, one that got an Australian revamp which I discovered in the documentary on Ozploitation Not Quite Hollywood. It’s so Aussie that the film replaces werewolves and instead substitutes were-kangaroos instead which to me is just fantastic. Even better, it claims to be the continuation of the book series that spawned it but that is completely untrue. They just took werewolves and did whatever the hell they wanted. Hilarious.

Special VOD:

The Bookshop – On the outside, this looks like a delightful little film starring Emily Mortimer, Bill Nighy and Patricia Clarkson about a woman who moves to a small town to open a bookstore in 1959. The delightfulness takes a sour turn as the rich citizens of the town take offence to the bookstore, as the location is in one of the historical landmarks, causing a battle between the entrepreneur and those who hold sway. For the entire first act, it feels like this movie is struggling to find its tone and voice but midway through the second it hits with a wallop with powerful scenes between our lead and Bill Nighy’s character, one of the rich that is on her side and is also a regular customer. Furthermore, the acting clinic continues in a scene between Nighy and the adversary Clarkson in a bid to fight for his beloved bookstore and the special friendship he has made with its proprietor. This is a film that surprised me, moved me and left me with a tear in my eye.

Steve’s Blu-Ray Geekout:

Hang ‘Em High – A western classic starring the most iconic stars of the genre, Clint Eastwood, I was really excited to see this movie drop in my mailbox, the fiftieth-anniversary edition from Shout Factory. With Ed Begley SENIOR in the role of the dastardly villain, Eastwood plays a man mistaken for a criminal who is lynched by a gang of crooked lawmen in an Oklahoma town. You know revenge ensues in memorable fashion, restored on Blu-Ray and including two separate commentary tracks from film historians. Very cool.

The Mangler – I was always a big Stephen King fan. I mean, he is probably responsible for my love for reading as I burned through his entire bibliography, looking for everything I could get my hands on. The main pull point where a lot of his films come from are his short stories and, really, some are good and some are decidedly not. This film has the added horror credibility of being directed by one of the genre’s greats, Tobe Hooper, but I remember it not quite being good. The upside is that this Shout Factory special edition has an unrated cut made from the 2K restoration from the original camera negative they did for it. I’m willing to give second chances.

Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 -I know, it’s far too late to be talking about Christmas movies but in my defence Shout Factory just sent this collector’s edition to me and it also helps me plug my new episode of the Tremble Podcast in which we cover the Christmas heavyweight Krampus. Cheap plug, yes. Really though, who doesn’t remember Silent Night, Deadly Night? Passing it in the video store and being agape in wonder at the fact that there was a Santa related horror film, ah, the memories. Are these movies good? No, but they are fantastically campy and this edition is crammed with special features, commentary and a 2K restoration from the theatrical print.

Netflix:

Carmen Sandiego: Season 1 – When this new series was announced, I can’t lie, the childhood memories in me resurfaced and I got excited. It all flooded back. The public broadcast show. The game show format with the different rounds. Rockapella! Seriously, if they don’t get this exactly right there may be a big uproar from this direction but so far Netflix has consistently nailed every revival they have been a part of so I have good faith in this.

Close – As soon as I saw this starred The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’s Noomi Repace I was automatically on board with it. She plays the hired bodyguard of a rich teen heiress who is forced to go off the grid when they are attacked at her mansion. This action thriller may be nothing more than fluff with stylish gun fights but, you know, I’m totally alright with that. The film also features Indira Varma from Game Of Thrones in what looks to be a villain role, something she didn’t fully get a chance to explore in Torchwood.

FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened – Picture a bunch of douchebags that thought they could organize a destination music festival and when it fell through decided to just go ahead with it anyways in result stranding a bunch of young and rich people on an island. I can’t believe this is a true thing that happened but I was glued to this ridiculous story and I’m so happy that there is a Netflix documentary on the whole crazy thing. Can. Not. Wait.

GIRL – This film out of Belgium is getting a lot of awards talk, already nominated for a Best Foreign Golden Globe and on the short list for an Academy Award as well. The movie is about a fifteen-year-old transgendered girl who dreams of being a ballerina and enters into one of the top schools. The drama looks interesting as she has to battle against fact that she was born in the body of a boy and find her own grace. The trailer is so good for this.

IO – Netflix definitely has something good going for it right now with all of these big feature films they are producing, whether you like them, like Dumplin and Apostle, or hate them like Bird Box. This new one definitely does big as it follows two people after the end of the world and the rest of humanity has abandoned the planet. The movie takes a chance with new director Jonathan Halpert and three inexperienced writers but the look and style of it looks really intriguing and star Anthony Mackie is a draw.

New Releases:

The Upside – Based on the very popular French film from 2011, this film has Bryan Cranston playing a quadriplegic billionaire who hires Kevin Hart’s character, an unemployed former criminal to be his caregiver. I am definitely on record more than once saying that Kevin Hart’s comedy feels stale but this is the kind of partially dramatic turn that piques my interest as I don’t think he’s ever done this kind of film. I’m also drawn in by the film being helmed by Neil Burger who’s put out great movies like The Illusionist. (Not playing in Hamilton or Oshawa)

A Dog’s Way Home – Anytime I see a new dog related movie I feel a little bit worried that I’m going to step in a big old pile of canine crap because it’s really hard to get one of these stories that work without sickening amounts of sappiness, bad acting and animal frolicking B roll. This may just mean I’m still angry since Ken Marino’s Dog Days. Anyways, this film doesn’t look any better than the Dennis Quaid movie A Dog’s Purpose, a film that was so bland but still gets a sequel that is currently filming. I guess there’s a market for this but don’t watch the trailer because it is essentially the entire film condensed. (Not playing in Hamilton)

Replicas – Sci-fi with Keanu Reeves? I’m sold. Will it be good? Actually, it might be cool as it comes from Jeffery Nachmenoff who’s only other directed film is the fantastic thriller Traitor starring Don Cheadle and Guy Pearce. This is a futuristic film about a scientist who learns a costly lesson when he becomes obsessed with bringing his family back after a deadly accident. The story for the film was developed by Reeves himself, alongside his frequent collaborator Stephen Hamel who he also made Henry’s Crime, Siberia and the upcoming Rally Car. This may be just that popcorn fluff science fiction to start your year. (Not playing in Kamloops or Barrie)

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. This looks like a movie right up my alley and the first look of it kind of reminds me of the late nineties film Velvet Goldmine. (only opening in Toronto)

Blu-Ray:

Venom – The best terrible movie of the year, I really adore this mess of a Marvel origin film and it all has to be attributed to Tom Hardy. Cancelling out Sam Raimi’s crack at the character in Spider-Man 3, we enter a world where, confusingly, there is no Spidey and just Venom. Can this character even make it without the inclusion of the web crawler? I guess so as we really don’t miss him as this movie hurtles through its plot at a sometimes nonsensical pace. How this movie manages to work and be totally entertaining will be a forever mystery to me but believe me, it does.

What They Had – A film listed on my honorable mentions of 2018, this movie is a drama with a little life comedy to it. Hilary Swank plays an uptight woman who goes home to Chicago after her dementia-suffering mother (Blythe Danner) starts to decline further, putting a strain on her father (Robert Forster). Given that she has the power of attorney, her exasperated brother (Michael Shannon), the one who stayed behind to hold the family together, tries to convince her to use her position to have her mother and father put in a home. The acting is so incredible in this film and first-time writer-director Elizabeth Chomko crafts an endearing and wholly relatable story that I think is a must see.

Hell Fest – Every year little film trends surface and disappear without notice and one of them happened in 2018 horror and it is serial killers at theme parks. The first was a low budget slasher called Blood Fest and then the big studio and decidedly less critically loved Hell Fest came out. The story is simple, a bunch of kids descend on an amusement park only to be picked off one by one due to a masked maniac on the loose. To me and this is nerdy but the saving grace of this movie could come from the fact that Gregory Plotkin made this movie and while, yes he made Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension he also EDITED Get Out. That’s a win, right?

When Harry Met Sally – Remember the iconic moment of Meg Ryan faking an orgasm in the middle of a New York City diner? Can you believe it was thirty years ago? Rob Reiner directed this Nora Ephron written treasure about two best friends who fear that sex would change their whole dynamic. Punctuated by brilliant performances from Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan, this is a benchmark in romantic comedies, one that in many ways has never been surpassed and now you can relive it with Shout Factory’s anniversary edition packed with special features.

Netflix:

Friends From College: Season 2 – This Netflix comedy makes its sophomore debut, an ensemble featuring Fred Savage, Keegan Michael Key and Cobie Smulders. The show is about a group of Harvard classmates now reconnecting as they enter their forties and, this season, looking to put their past behind them in celebration of a big wedding. Created by Forgetting Sarah Marshall’s Nicholas Stoller and Francesca Delbanco.

ReMastered: Massacre at the Stadium – Episode four rolls out for this docuseries focusing on conspiracies within music, this one looking at the murder of Chilean protest singer Victor Jara. The case was closed, incarcerating a member of Augusto Pinochet’s army. That man was sent to live in exile and, wrongly accused, now is looking for exoneration. This series has been awesome since it started and has become hotly anticipated each month.

Sex Education: Season 1 – A new British comedy series, this stars Gillian Anderson and Asa Butterfield about the teenage son of a sex therapist who decides to use the smarts he’s learned from her to run his own “practice” in his high school with the help of the edgy girl in his class. The show looks like it has a fun script which could be the saving grace is this coming of age horny teen romp series.

The Last Laugh – Hot of the Golden Globes win for The Kominsky Method, Netflix is doubling down on old guys with this road trip comedy starring Chevy Chase and Richard Dreyfuss. Chase plays a comedy agent who coaxes one of his old clients from decades ago on a comedy tour believing that he still has the potential to be a star. While I’m on the fence with Chevy, being that he’s a legend but also a world-class piece of shit, I’m really excited to see Dreyfuss in this as I’ve always been a big fan of his. Also, the film was written and directed by Greg Pritikin who made Dummy with Adrien Brody.

Titans: Season 1 – DC and Warner Bros can’t seem to get their movies to work, aside from Wonder Woman and Aquaman, but their television division is doing just fine and this new series adds another win to that total. The debut show of their online component, this is the darker themed adaptation of the Teen Titans, led by Robin and featuring Cyborg, Starfire and Beast Boy. It also is the lead in for the upcoming Doom Patrol, another great looking series. We may be seeing some really great comic work with classic characters.