Steve Stebbing

Breaking down all things pop culture

New Releases:

Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil – We are now at the point of these Disney live-action re-imaginings that we are headed in the sequels to these films as the one to kick it off, a version of Sleeping Beauty that focusses on the villain, now sees an expansion to their story. Angelina Jolie returns in the title role, now godmother to Aurora played again by Elle Fanning, Maleficent finds herself at odds with the family of Aurora’s soon to be husband. Feeling threatened, she starts to unleash her full powers again, wreaking havoc in another special effects extravaganza. The film is made by Joachim Ronning who made the astounding films Kon-Tiki and Max Manus: Man Of War but then proceeded to make the kind of ho-hum Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales so hopefully this will be a sort of return to form but with this type of film he just may be acting as a studio director.

Zombieland: Double Tap – Ten years ago from just a couple of weeks back I was sitting in the theater laughing my ass off at the debut of director Ruben Fleisher, Zombieland, a fresh and funny rejuvenation of the zombie genre the kickstarted the undead for another couple of years. Written by a then-unknown Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, seven years before Deadpool would catapult them to where they are now, they gave us the characters of Columbus, Tallahassee, Wichita, and Little Rock who return to the screen after ten years of survival in the post-apocalypse, planning a more permanent move into America’s heartland but dealing with a new threat of evolved zombies. More survivors join the pack, with new cast members Rosario Dawson, Luke Wilson, Avan Jogia and Zoey Deutch and the latest trailer features a hilarious scene with Thomas Middleditch. I’m excited for this one.

Jay And Silent Bob Reboot – As an uber fan of Kevin Smith I am game for anything the writer and director is going to put out and, strictly speaking, this is just a movie for fans like me because he’s dusting off the classics for a new adventure and I am so here for it. To follow up on their last solo adventures in Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back, this movie has Jay and Silent Bob returning to Hollywood to stop a reboot of ‘Bluntman and Chronic’ movie from getting made with so many different celebrity cameos and favors called in from Kevin as well as a villain played by Chris Jericho. This is like all of my worlds colliding around the guy who inspired me to be here in the first place. Very cool. (Not opening in Hamilton, London, Kamloops or Oshawa)

By The Grace Of God – I will start right off the bat by saying that it’s a good thing I watched this film in the form as a screener at home because I had a very visceral knee jerk reaction of anger at this film, a story about pedophilia in the Catholic church. The film follows three men who were close friends in Scouts as children, where the were preyed on by the priest who ran the camp. Slowly the movement grows as more come forward and the lies, manipulation and cover-ups begin to be revealed in a public light. I found myself yelling at my television, unable to hold my disgust with the reveals in this film, which is director Francois Ozon’s best since 2003’s Swimming Pool. The film is maybe a tad too long but it definitely plays like the French version of Spotlight. (Only opening in Toronto and Vancouver)

Lucy In The Sky – When I saw Fargo and Legion showrunner Noah Hawley’s name attached to this movie as director and screenwriter of this brand new drama starring Natalie Portman I was really excited as he is one of the best television storytellers working today but apparently that only translates to the long-form of episodic work. Portman plays astronaut Lucy Cola who returns to Earth after a life-altering experience during a mission to space and begins to lose touch with reality in a world that now seems too contained for the changes she is going through. Unfortunately, the reviews are very tepid on this film, some calling it too confused and jumbled despite a stellar performance from Portman, which kind of goes back to my comment about Hawley working better in a longer format. I’m still very curious about the film myself. (Only opening in Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver)

Monos – This movie is an example of an indie film where I was left in awe of, foremost for its production design and execution. Seriously, how did they make this? The film is an ambiguously set story of eight kids with guns who are watching over a hostage and a conscripted milk cow on a mountaintop and it is one of the most gorgeous things I have seen this year. Director Alejandro Landes crafts a mesmerizing tale that is a sort of adaptation of William Goldman’s Lord Of The Flies with incredible feats of realism throughout. I’m still perplexed about how the scene in the river rapids was done. Mystified. (Only opening in Toronto and Vancouver)

Before You Know It – I knew nothing about this little film from writer and director Hannah Pearl Utt before watching this new dramedy, a film that features her in the lead role alongside co-writer Jen Tullock. The story follows two sisters coping with the death of their recently passed away father, a once-famous playwright. With the New York theatre and apartment above being in his name, the two are surprised to find out that the building is in the name of their mother, someone they were told was dead but is actually a famous soap actress. This movie manages to be poignant and funny with the relationship of these two sisters but can still come crashing down with the emotional beats. I really liked this one. (Only opening in Toronto and Vancouver)

Immortal Hero – This movie is a mysterious one to me as it just crossed my desk and I have little information on it. The film is Japanese and follows a highly successful Japanese author and publisher who starts making more grandiose choices in his life after a near-death experience forces him to reevaluate his existence. Feeling reborn, he commits his life to share the wisdom he receives believes to have been received from the spiritual realm as doubters and detractors, including some of his own family, challenge and question his new-found enlightenment. This film looks like it will fit in with the fans of stories like The Celestine Prophecy or The Secret, appealing to those who seek more spiritual centred content in their films. (Only opening in Toronto and Vancouver)

Blu-Ray:

Stuber – I feel like that who have enjoyed the Guardians Of The Galaxy or Infinity War know that Dave Bautista has some great comedy chops so, on the outside, this looks like an immediate win by pairing him with the hilarious Kumail Nanjani known for his role in Silicon Valley and the brilliant comedy The Big Sick, one that he wrote as well. The story has him as Stu an Uber driver who picks up what he assumes to be a normal customer. Unfortunately, the guy he picks up is Vic a reckless detective looking to make a dent in some crime. This movie, while being a bit formulaic and predictable, is a lot of fun because of the two stars and their chemistry and the action is frenetic and stylized making sure there isn’t a wasted moment.

Crawl – Judging this movie by its basic plotline and poster, this movie would look like your standard survival thriller fare we our main characters battling the elements to predictable results. I’m happy to report that this movie is directed by Hills Have Eyes and Horns director Alejandre Aja so this movie goes anywhere but the beaten path. The film has Maze Runner and Pirates Of The Caribbean star Kaya Scodelerio as a woman attempting to rescue her father after a category five hurricane from a sinking house and to make matters worse they are being hunted by a group of alligators. The bonus to having such a cool director in a story like this is that Aja ramps up the gore, something he has consistently brought to all of his movies, and his style is uniquely disturbing sometimes as I’m still reeling from at least one kill per movie and that’s not a joke.

The Art Of Self Defense – Filmmaker Riley Stearns follows up his incredible debut film from 2014, Faults, with this dark comedy about a socially awkward accountant named Casey who finds himself looking for answers after being brutally beaten during a mugging. He believes the next step in his life is martial arts, taught by the enigmatic “Sensei” who takes a special interest in him. This movie is absolutely wild, unpredictable in its story and containing reveals that will have you laughing hysterically and gasping in surprise. This is possibly my favorite movie this year and one that is seriously going to knock a lot of people through a loop.

The Haunting Of Hill House – Based on the novel The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, this story has been made a few times before but not by Mike Flanagan, a horror director at the top of his game and the perfect fit for this series that took in many of Netflix subscribers. Now it’s on Blu-ray and the difference is that all of these episodes have been extended in a director’s cut of this first series, a precursor before The Haunting Of Bly House, which is currently filming in Vancouver, hits Netflix next year. Keep in mind that every single shot in Hill House has a hidden ghost in it so get this release and happy hunting, everyone!

Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love – I’ve been waiting patiently for a documentary to come out about the late and great Canadian singer and songwriter Leonard Cohen so leave it to the year 2019, the time where music and film have come together to make some beautiful babies, to give us another stellar movie in this vein. This film is an in-depth look at the relationship between Cohen and his Norwegian muse Marianne Ihlen, made by accomplished filmmaker Nick Broomfield, who made the recent Whitney Houston documentary as well as Battle For Haditha, an intense Iraq War movie.

Night Hunter – Henry Cavill leads this new thriller alongside Sir Ben Kingsley who plays a weathered Lieutenant who finds himself tangles up with his own police force and a local vigilante in the investigation of a recently arrested, troubled man who’s linked to years of female abductions and murders. The film also features Stanley Tucci, Alexandra Daddario and good Canadian kid Brendan Fletcher doing his great psychological work as the suspect in question but this film is getting horribly panned by critics, being called totally contrived and cliched throughout. This is very disappointing as I really like Cavill’s work and I feel like I haven’t seen him since Mission: Impossible: Fallout.

Killer Nun – Arrow Video arrives this week with a total weirdo film that is part insane murderer movie and part sex romp with blood. Yes, totally out of this world in the description but the film has a bit of a cult following. Made in 1979, the film is pretty simple to make a synopsis about as it a demented nun that is drifting through morphine addiction into madness, lashing out in acts of lesbianism, torture and death, endangering the staff and patients around her in the general hospital she practices at. This movie is absolutely bonkers and deserves to be watched with a group of friends to truly appreciate the “Rifftrack” quality of this insanity. This was Italian director Giulio Berruti’s second and final film as he walked away from the industry entirely afterwards. Once you’ve made gold I guess you have to walk away, right?

Spongebob Squarepants: Season 10 – I’ve definitely said this before on the show but I don’t need my kids to be around to watch my favorite underwater seas sponge because I will watch this insane show at any time because I believe the show is funny no matter if you’re a kid or an adult and it is especially funny if you are a stoner like I am. This is a little bittersweet as creator Steven Hillenberg passed away just late last year, but he was fully present for this season that aired from October 2016 to a year later, and his touch was always amazing with these characters. This season also brought back the recurring voices of Ed Asner and Seinfeld’s John O’Hurley as well as guest stars like J.K. Simmons, Steve Buscemi and Joe Pantoliano. This is definitely a box set I can get lost in.

Star Trek Picard: Movie & TV Collection – With the Picard series set to launch on CBS All Access at the end of January, Paramount has put together this collection which includes pivotal pieces of television with the episodes The Best Of Both Worlds and Chai Of Command, the best featuring the iconic captain, as well as Generations, First Contact, Insurrection and Nemesis, films I’m pretty happy to have Blu-ray copies of now. This is a great boxset for any Trek fan, although many may own these already, but to have them in a focused set about Jean Luc Picard is pretty damn cool.

Steve’s Blu-Ray Geekout:

Malevolence Trilogy – These movies showed up to me out of the blue as part of a horror trilogy released by director Stevan Mena’s own releasing company Mena Films. The story is pretty interesting to start, with a bunch of bank robbers heading to a remote farmhouse they believe to be abandoned and, of course, it’s not. Inside is a bloodthirsty serial killer looking to dispatch everyone. Interestingly enough, the first film is actually the middle piece of the main story as the second film Bereavement serves as the origin story of our killer and the third movie is the finale. Either way, as far as B-movie horror goes you are definitely going to be entertained by the three movies because this guy takes his horror damn seriously.

This Magnificent Cake! – I love the title to this movie but that’s all the enlightened attitude you will get from this stop motion animated short film as it is going to depress you with its subject matter. The movie is about the 18th century colonial Africa told in five separate tales, one about a king with a serious dilemma, the next about a pygmy who works in a swanky hotel, followed by a down and out businessman on a life building trip, a luggage handler who has lost his way and, finally, a young soldier who went AWOL from his mission. The forty four-minute short is gorgeously done but it will leave you feeling a bit disturbed.

Diamantino – I love the storyline for this film, about a really dim soccer player who fails out of his career in grand fashion at the World Cup and that’s just the beginning of his problems. In his quest for a new purpose, he ends up getting involved with an alt-right anti-EU hate group, crazy eugenics and even more deep state madness through an Italian filter. The movie has been described as an Adam Sandler movie run through the lens of Passolini which is an insanely hilarious way to approach it and to throw you through an even bigger loop, this movie was inspired by the works of David Foster Wallace. How’s that for messed up?

Teddy Pendergrass: If You Don’t Know Me – Here’s yet another stellar music documentary in 2019, this one about R&B legend Teddy Pendergrass who arrived via being the lead singer of Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes putting out hits like “The Love I Lost” and, the secondary title of the movie “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” and became a massive solo star after leaving the group in 1976, releasing five consecutive platinum albums from 1977 to 1981. In 1982 he was in a horrific car wreck the paralyzed him from the neck down and didn’t return to sing until an incredible performance at Live Aid in 1985. The movie feels like a true representation of the singer, who passed away at the beginning of 2010, including interviews with his one-hundred-year-old mother as well as close friends and back up singers.

Television:

Living With Yourself: Season 1 (Netflix) – So let’s get this straight. Paul Rudd starring in a movie where he clones himself in an experiment gone wrong and has to take his family back from a new and improved version? I’m way into this concept and I’m even more excited that this is a limited series with eight episodes. I really hope that the other cast members like the fantastic Aisling Bea will get something good to work with The show’s reviews are trending pretty well and the consensus is that if you like some Rudd then double Rudd in this comedy will do you nicely.

Eli (Netflix) – I have an aversion to horror which can probably be obvious in these write-ups but I will also give horror filmmakers second chances with films and that is what I’m doing here as Ciaran Foy’s Sinister 2 was an unfortunate rehash of a great movie that never really went anywhere. With this film, he tells the story of a boy who is receiving treatment for his auto-immune disorder that discovers the house he’s living in isn’t as safe as he thought and is filled with malicious spirits. The movie features a capable supporting cast with Kelly Reilly, Lili Taylor and Stranger Things’ Sadie Sink and from who I’m hearing the third act in this is crazy.

The Laundromat (Netflix) – I’m really excited about this one as it is made by the great Steven Soderbergh, based on a book from Jake Bernstein and written by Contagion and The Informant! writer Scott Z. Burns, but, holy crap, this cast gets me excited too. Gary Oldman, Meryl Streep, Antonio Banderas, Jeffrey Wright, Matthias Schoenaerts and so many more star in this film about a widow who does a deep dive on a fraudulent insurance claim that leads to a pair of Panama City law partners that are exploiting the world’s financial system. The reviews aren’t hugely favorable for the film but the cast and filmmaker will always ensure that I will check out the validity of the movie for myself and I encourage you to do the same.

Modern Love: Season 1 (Amazon Prime) – I’m so excited about this series as it was created by the man behind Once and Sing Street, John Carney, one of my favorite Irish filmmakers. The show has a big cast including Anne Hatheway, Tina Fey, Catherine Keener, Dev Patel, Andy Garcia and so many more in a mosaic story about love as a concept whether it’s sexual, romantic, familial, platonic, or self-love. I also find it pretty interesting that former Shameless star Emmy Rossum directs one of the eight episodes of season one.

Wounds (Netflix) – I’d have to say the one of the hottest up and coming stars right now is Zazie Beetz, with her roles in Atlanta and Deadpool 2, but recently this year with Joker. She co-headlines this film with Armie Hamer and Dakota Johnson about a bartender in New Orleans who’s reality becomes to be unhinged when he takes home the cellphone left behind at his work. The film comes from writer and director Babak Anvari who’s film Under The Shadow creeped the hell out of me. This is going to be terrifying I’m sure and I love the cast that’s involved.

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New Releases:

Gemini Men – The premise of this movie looks really interesting, Will Smith playing a hitman who keeps getting foiled and duped by a younger assassin who turns out to be a younger clone of himself in a twist that is given away in the trailer. The movie looks cool, with the star power of Smith in a long gestated project from producer Jerry Bruckheimer that was at one time in the hands of Curtis Hanson and Tony Scott. This movie has me on the fence as Ang Lee is the director on this, a filmmaker who is pretty hit or miss with me, but with his faster frame rate of 120 frames per second it could be pretty interesting or it could be a glossy mess.

The Addams Family – Its been around twenty-five years since Barry Sonnenfeld brought the classic television family of The Addams Family to the big screen so why not get a reboot but in animated form this time. The voice cast is pretty impressive for this film, featuring fan-favorite and requested Oscar Isaac as Gomez, Charlize Theron as Morticia, Chloe Grace Moretz as Wednesday, a pivotal role, Stranger Things star Finn Wolfhard as Pugsley and Nick Kroll as Uncle Fester, which is a hilarious connection to the directors Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan who made Sausage Party their last time out. I want to have faith in this movie because I really love The Addams Family.

Jexi – Remember when Spike Jonze made the movie Her, a love story between Joaquin Phoenix and a computer program voiced by Scarlett Johansson set in the near future? Well, we get a more conceivable movie this time around as Workaholics star Adam Devine plays a man who falls for the voice of his smartphone with the vocals provided by the uber funny Rose Byrne. Written and directed by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, the guys behind the Hangover movies, this looks like a ridiculous plot but still a very relevant one given how obsessed we are with our own phones, myself totally included. (Not opening in Kamloops)

Dolemite Is My Name – Eddie Murphy makes a triumphant return to feature films with this fantastic biopic, directed by Hustle And Flow’s Craig Brewer. Murphy plays Rudy Ray Moore, an ageing performer who made the big move from Arkansas to Los Angeles but hasn’t found any success whatsoever. His big break comes when he decides to gather the tall tales of a bunch of nearby hobos and packages them in a new larger than life pimp character named Dolemite, which leads to huge success in his self pressed album and a growing ambition that eventually has him wanting to make movies. Murphy is incredible in this movie but it’s the performance of Wesley Snipes as D’Urville Martin that floored me, a total game rejuvenation. Definitely see this one. (Only playing in Toronto and Vancouver. On Netflix October 25th.)

The Laundromat – I’m really excited about this one as it is made by the great Steven Soderbergh, based on a book from Jake Bernstein and written by Contagion and The Informant! writer Scott Z. Burns, but, holy crap, this cast gets me excited too. Gary Oldman, Meryl Streep, Antonio Banderas, Jeffrey Wright, Matthias Schoenaerts and so many more star in this film about a widow who does a deep dive on a fraudulent insurance claim that leads to a pair of Panama City law partners that are exploiting the world’s financial system. The reviews aren’t hugely favorable for the film but the cast and filmmaker will always ensure that I will check out the validity of the movie for myself and I encourage you to do the same. (Only playing in Toronto, Edmonton and Vancouver. On Netflix October 18th.)

Where’s My Roy Cohn – This documentary is absolutely chilling to it’s core, an engrossing look at attorney Roy Cohn, a man that got his first notorious start as part of the council employed by Joseph McCarthy to blackball supposed communists in America. A flamboyant individual who guarded his not too secret sexuality until the end of his life when he died of AIDS, something documented in Tony Kushner’s Broadway play Angels In America. Even more interesting, this film shows how much of Cohn’s personality was a blueprint for the tyrant in chief the States has currently in power, using moves that are all too familiar to us now. (Only playing in Toronto and Vancouver.)

Blu-Ray:

Toy Story 4 – When it was announced that a new Toy Story was being written, slated for release nine years after the third movie came out, I was a bit skeptical. I personally felt like Toy Story 3 wrapped everything up quite nicely in a beautifully made film but I can now say I was completely wrong because I fell in love with this movie just as hard as I did the other three. With the toys now with a new owner named Bonnie, gifted to her by Andy at the end of the last movie, they head on a road trip with a newly created pal named Forky who ends up getting lost. This leads Woody to go and bring him back to the family, to try and form some sort of connection with his new owner that he doesn’t have. This film forges a new direction for the Woody character, one that I didn’t see coming but it definitely fits in the growth of him. This movie again has all the emotional beats to shatter you emotionally so, you know, beware of that.

Annabelle Comes Home – I can’t believe we’re already at the third Annabelle movie but here we are. The series started horribly but Creation proved to be a really entertaining horror film so to up the ante this time Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson’s Lorraine and Ed Warren take left of center stage for this installment as the doll in question finds it’s way to their artifacts library where it wreaks havoc by waking all the other evil contained there. The movie, unfortunately, is a massive step down from the good trajectory of the last one and drags for the first twenty minutes before finding any sort of scares and then everything is a bit few and far between for my liking. This movie was kind of set up to be a culmination of a bunch of set pieces within the Conjuring universe and ultimately, it falls flat.

Midsommar – If there was a movie that I would put at the top of my list of anticipated films this year this would be number one with a bullet. The sophomore film from Hereditary director Ari Aster, the main details of this movie have been kept very under wraps, the trailer even giving a foreboding sense of mystery in a brilliantly bright wrapper. From what I can glean, the story is about a couple who travels to Sweden to visit a secluded town’s fabled mid-summer festival and what was thought to be an idyllic retreat quickly devolves into an increasingly violent and bizarre competition at the hands of a pagan cult. From everything I’m hearing, this may be on par with the 1970s thriller The Wicker Man and, oh boy, does that excite me! I’m so disappointed that I still haven’t seen this as it didn’t come to my town and there’s even a director’s cut now!

Red Joan – Let me set this one up for you. Dame Judi Dench plays a woman in her eighties who is found to be a KGB spy who gave secrets of the British government to the Russians about their research into obtaining an atomic bomb. Intriguing, right? It’s just so unfortunate that director Trevor Munn made this film such a slog to get through making the story and its relationships so painfully dull. The worst part is that Dench puts on such a great performance but it is intercut with the flashbacks to her younger self, played well by the Kingsman’s Sophie Cookson, but with an absolutely painful on the sleeve script. This true story deserved better, although I really liked the ending.

Light Of My Life – Probably one of those “hey man, this movie is thematically problematic for you” but Casey Affleck has made a movie where he exists in a world with no women. Yes, you read that right and he not only stars in it but wrote and directed it as well but let’s take a deeper look. He plays a parent who must protect his 11-year-old child journey through the outskirts of society a decade after a pandemic has wiped out half the world’s population. So, automatically if has that The Road feeling for me, which I’m completely on board for, but I get people’s trepidation with Affleck as the allegations are very damaging. I try to skirt away from this opinion but I still really enjoy Casey’s work but I feel in no way like a sort of Woody Allen apologist, I usually keep this kind of stuff to myself. I got a little revealing in this write up I guess.

Deadwood: The Movie – The long, long, long anticipated conclusion to the greatest western series ever made is now on blu-ray as we finally own the closure on the characters of Seth Bullock, Al Swearengen and all the other people in the infamous outlaw town. It’s bittersweet as I really wanted another series instead of a movie but creator David Milch was finally able to get his crowning achievement finished and out to the masses after years of building it up and his recent and tragic diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. This is going to be something truly special to behold and I can not wait.

Life With Lucy: Complete Series – I was weirded out by the cover of this boxset as I thought I would be receiving the original I Love Lucy series but what this is is the final series Lucille Ball ever did, broadcast in 1986. This show has Ball playing a widowed grandmother who inherited her husband’s half-interest in a hardware store in California, the other half being owned by his partner, widower Curtis McGibbon, played by longtime friend of Lucy, Gale Gordon. The show was not well received, earing Lucille Ball the worst reviews of her career and well cancelled after it’s first season. For nostalgia reasons and to see a comedienne that still had it up until the end, I found it entertaining.

Television:

The Walking Dead: Season 10 (AMC) – I can’t believe we are in double digits now for the length of this Robert Kirkman created series, based on a book that has now come to a close, but there is no end in sight for this show according to the showrunners and Fear The Walking Dead is going strong with yet another, at this point unnamed, spin-off series to come. Is there any signs of fatigue in this franchise? We may have seen some as the show has gone on but I think they’ve recovered quite well and they’ve been journeying on without original star Andrew Lincoln for a while now. Not many shows can make that claim.

El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (Netflix) – The long-anticipated movie follow up to Breaking Bad is now upon us and the great thing is that the trailer and synopsis released by Netflix and AMC is so fantastically ambiguous that there is really no hint to what this movie will be about except that Aaron Paul’s Jesse Pinkman leads it. It should be noted that Badger, Mike, Skinny Pete and Old Joe are the only other characters listed in the cast list so contained cast means a smaller scope film but that could lead to a bunch of uncredited cameos just the blow away the viewer with surprise. It’s almost here, friends!

Fractured (Netflix) – A brand new film picked up by Netflix, this film is directed by Brad Anderson, the mind behind Session 9 and The Machinist, written by Alan B. McElroy, the guy who created the freaks of the horror franchise Wrong Turn as well as got Todd McFarlane’s Spawn to animated series form on HBO. This thriller is one of those “vanished” type mysteries, following a man and his family who go on a road trip and have to rush the daughter to a hospital after a fall. The father then falls asleep in the waiting room and upon waking his family has disappeared with no one having knowledge of having them check-in. Sam Worthington and American Horror Story’s Lily Rabe star in this and it’s getting some favorable reviews.

Rhythm & Flow: Season 1 (Netflix) – I’m usually not one for putting reality shows on this list or competition shows either but this one has me interested. The show is hosted by Cardi B, Chance The Rapper and T.I and is a talent search for the next hip-hop superstar, what Netflix sees as their answer to X-Factor and American Idol. The series will just be releasing the first four episodes, as they scour for undiscovered talent from Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York City, releasing the next batch of episodes on October 16 and then the final episodes on the 23rd. The show will also feature appearances from Snoop Dogg, DJ Khalid, Quavo, the late Nipsey Hustle and many more.

Batwoman: Season 1 (The CW) – I’ve been waiting a long time for a live-action onscreen version of Kate Kane aka Batwoman to be made and finally we’ve got it and I think the casting of Ruby Rose is kind of incredible as she already invokes many of the character traits right out the door. For those not in the know, Kane was inspired by Batman to use her own resources to fight crime in Gotham as well under the moniker of Batwoman, but is a woman of Jewish descent and is also a lesbian, something that was a hard pill to swallow for the mainstream. It’s great timing for her brand of vigilante justice to land on the CW now as Arrow is in its final season something is going to need to pick up the lead on that.

Boyz In The Wood -Nothing makes me happier than a horror-comedy out of the United Kingdom with chavs as the lead stars. For those who don’t know, chav is a derogatory term for teens who dress in Adidas or Nike gear, have a filthy mouth and terrible attitude and are always bumming smokes of people, so you can equate that to a lot in North America. This film is great, capitalizing on those great character traits with a killer soundtrack including Run The Jewels and Danny Brown, around a story that puts these characters on a team-building exercise as they have to journey through the Scottish highlands from one side to the other but, unbeknownst to them, a couple of psycho residents are hunting them the whole time under the guise of “The Duke Of Edinburgh” and “the Queen”. This movie is fun, absolutely hilarious but ultimately pretty predictable.

NO TRAILER FOR THIS ONE.

Dolemite Is My Name – Eddie Murphy makes a triumphant return to feature films with this fantastic biopic, directed by Hustle And Flow’s Craig Brewer. Murphy plays Rudy Ray Moore, an ageing performer who made the big move from Arkansas to Los Angeles but hasn’t found any success whatsoever. His big break comes when he decides to gather the tall tales of a bunch of nearby hobos and packages them in a new larger than life pimp character named Dolemite, which leads to huge success in his self pressed album and a growing ambition that eventually has him wanting to make movies. Murphy is incredible in this movie but it’s the performance of Wesley Snipes as D’Urville Martin that floored me, a total game rejuvenation. Definitely see this one.

The Lodge – It feels like I’ve been waiting forever for Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz to follow up their incredible debut horror thriller Goodnight Mommy and did they ever come through with their first English language film, a movie that can now be included in the “holiday horror” pantheon, as it does take place just before Christmas. The story follows two kids and their soon to be stepmother who find themselves snowed in at a remote holiday lodge. As the days pass, she finds herself more and more paranoid as strange things start to transpire and the evenings get more and more sleepless, drudging up things in her mind of her tumultuous and brutal past as part of a cult run by her father. Riley Keough’s performance in this film is absolutely riveting, perching you on the edge of your seat throughout. This isn’t your most conventional horror story but it will definitely leave a mark.

Waves – Director and writer Trey Edward Shults has made an incredible film about the bonds of family across terrible decisions and seemingly monstrous actions and how far the notion of “unconditional love” extends. The film follows the story of a suburban African-American family, led by a well-intentioned but domineering father played by This Is Us star Sterling K. Brown, as they are thrown through the loop by the domino effect their son goes through when his college wrestling career is brought to an abrupt end. This is a movie that will stun you with its incredible realism and the performances throughout are dominated by these fantastic actors. This is a movie that has little clout right now but could be on Oscar ballots come next year. Take note of this one.

The Death Of Dick Long – I feel like any description I can give for this movie leads me down murky paths of either doing a complete injustice to the insanity of this movie that writer and director Daniel Schienart has created as well as being any semblance of spoilered because, in all honesty, the best way to go into this film is completely out of the loop. Taking on the immense task of following up his first feature Swiss Army Man, under the dual name of Daniels with fellow filmmaker Daniel Kwan, his solo venture is like a redneck satire on partying dumbasses who find themselves embroiled in a Coens-esque predicament and every moment gets crazier than the last. This movie is filled to the brim with cringe tension that ramps up to a reveal that is too crazy and jawdropping to even come to grips with. Seriously, I will be thinking about this one for a long time yet but I do know that I totally loved every minute of it.

Paradise Hills – When this movie started out I was fully on board, a story following a girl played by Emma Roberts who wakes up on an island where girls are being reformed in a boarding school that looks more like a futuristic spa. What are they being prepared for and what happens to them when they are deemed “ready”? The premise is so intriguing, looking like The Prisoner if it was directed by Sofia Coppola but by the time we get to the third act the whole thing falls apart horribly, all it’s potential squandered.

By The Grace Of God – I will start right off the bat by saying that it’s a good thing I watched this film in the form as a screener at home because I had a very visceral knee jerk reaction of anger at this film, a story about pedophilia in the Catholic church. The film follows three men who were close friends in Scouts as children, where the were preyed on by the priest who ran the camp. Slowly the movement grows as more come forward and the lies, manipulation and cover-ups begin to be revealed in a public light. I found myself yelling at my television, unable to hold my disgust with the reveals in this film, which is director Francois Ozon’s best since 2003’s Swimming Pool. The film is maybe a tad too long but it definitely plays like the French version of Spotlight.

Jojo Rabbit – I don’t think I’ll ever be able to understand how Taika Waititi is able to be such a deeply adorable man, even when he plays Adolf Hitler, but here we are. This is the story of a young boy growing up in Nazi Germany, enrolled in the Hitler Youth program, with designs on becoming the fuhrer’s best friend. All of young Jojo’s ego and courage comes from his imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler, played by the aforementioned Waititi in the most hilarious way possible. To truly enjoy this movie you really have to throw away any offended feelings you have because the film is the height of pure satire. That in mind, the performances from everyone are so top-notch, which includes Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell and Leave No Trace standout Thomasin McKenzie.

Little Joe – This movie is unsettling from the get-go, as soon as it’s oddly scrolling credits appear a high pitched squeal takes over the score, intermittently returning to unnerve you more. To be very minimalist about the description, the film Emily Beecham stars as Alice, a single mother and a senior plant breeder at a corporation dedicated to developing new species. Against company policy, she takes her prized plant home as a gift for her teenage son, Joe, a flower that is bred not to procreate but one that is, according to the research, sentient. Director and writer Jessica Hausner plays the mystery of this film with such a great subtlety that you never really can get a grasp on the reality of everything up until it’s chilling ending and its brilliant. She is also so impeccable in her production design and costuming, commanding me to rewatch this film to unlock more that I missed.

NO TRAILER FOR THIS ONE.

Sometimes Always Never – This one is a simple film, a story of a father and son, estranged for years, reconnecting to possibly identify the body of Michael, another estranged son who stormed out after a game of Scrabble. Now seemingly obsessed with the game, Nighy’s character is constantly lost in the pieces but is using it to connect with his obtuse son but also the open mind of his grandson. This is basically just a film for Nighy to chew the scenery, which he does brilliantly thanks to the script from Tristam Shandy: A Cock And Bull Story writer Frank Cottrell Boyce against some gorgeous and vibrant backdrops. Richard Stoddard’s cinematography is definitely the second star of this movie.

New Releases:

Joker – After over a year of speculation of what this film would be, it’s connections to all the existing canon of DC Comics’ cinematic universe and really what the state of this Batman villain is going forward, this Todd Phillips directed film has arrived and Joaquin Phoenix is being praised for his performance in it, which doesn’t surprise me a bit. With zero connection to any pre-existing comic story or film, this is the story of how struggling comedian Arthur Fleck became the Joker, a criminal mastermind that terrorizes Gotham City. Looking at the film’s trailer, to me, it comes across as a gritty version of Martin Scorsese’s The King Of Comedy with a violent and clown-themed twist. It’s really hard not to have the bar raised high for this movie as this character is so revered but I think it’s going to astound audiences.

Blu-Ray:

Spider-Man: Far From Home – The first movie to follow after the massive changes that Avengers: Endgame brought to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this film is the story that brings closure to this phase, let’s us mourn Tony Stark and prepares us for what’s coming next. I want to keep this one really short as spoiler territory is a hard thing to avoid with this but the film is basically about the world trying to get back to normal after the dusting or what this film calls “the blip” when a new threat to the planet emerges with what may be a new hero in the form of Jake Gyllenhaal’s Mysterio. The movie is the perfect blend of spectacle and laughs filtered into an awkward teenager rom-com, exactly what we needed after the dire consequences of Infinity War and Endgame. This film is a big movie experience in every way and demands to be seen.

Anna – French action director Luc Besson is back with another woman led ass-kicker movie. The film stars Sasha Luss, a relatively unknown actress who featured in Besson’s last movie Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets in a predominantly CGI role, but she looks totally badass in the trailer. She plays the title character, a beautiful and deadly assassin and really that’s all I know about it and with this great action director, well, that’s all you need to know. The rest of the cast is solid too with Helen Mirren, Luke Evans and Cillian Murphy. If you’re looking for some brainless stuff and need some serious Atomic Blonde stylized stuff, this is your ticket.

Wild Rose – This seems to be a really great time for music in movies as we’ve recently received biopics of two of the greatest rock n roll acts of all time, Queen and Elton John, and had the high profile remake of A Star Is Born and the phenomenal indie film Teen Spirit. In this new film that is getting top-notch reviews, Irish singer and actress Jessie Buckley plays a Glasgow singer who is pursuing her dream of moving from Glasgow to Nashville to become the next country star. The movie comes from director Tom Harper, who has directed a slew of great British television and the Woman In Black sequel, so I know this film with have a visual style to go along with its music. This may be one of those hidden gem films.

Anna And The Apocalypse – It’s like this movie was made to get me riping out it out of the DVD packaging for both a musical and a Christmas movie, two genres that don’t have a high success rate with me. How do they do this? A zombie Christmas movie. Absolutely brilliant. Basically, a group of friends living in a small town in England have to survive a zombie outbreak during the holiday season and I feel like instant classic ensues. You see more of this genre-bending could go a long way to grabbing yourself some new fans against their will but all in all, the songs are catchy, the gore is a lot of fun and the production level is there. Plus, there is a musical sequence with the main characters completely oblivious to the chaos around them that rivals Shaun Of The Dead.

Framing John DeLorean – We all known the DeLorean as Back To The Future made it such a huge part of our pop culture that you really need to live under a rock to not know about it but is the rise and fall of the DeLorean Motor Company as common of knowledge? This film is the only film to be made on the man who had a dream and screwed everyone in the process to keep it alive as four different films were optioned but never came to fruition, one produced by DeLorean himself. This documentary takes a fascinating approach of being a linear story told about the rise of an idea, the execution and then the scandalous fall through bad deals and a cocaine bust with re-enactments starring Alec Baldwin. The final result is ambitious and engrossing, such an interesting way of telling a real story.

Doom: Annihilation – Look, the original Doom movie with Karl Urban and The Rock gets a really bad rap and while it’s nowhere near a good movie it’s pretty damn entertaining and has a sweet POV sequence that has only been done again in Hardcore Henry. That said, I really don’t feel this sequel or reboot was necessary and it’s haphazardly bad and not even in a fun “so bad it’s good” way, it’s just plain bad. The characters are cardboard cutouts only made to die and the effects slowly slide from bad to worse, even if they do some practical makeup stuff that could have been cool. This is just another obvious direct to video production looking for some video game money.

Itsy Bitsy – Well, I guess you can’t win them all as Shout and Scream Factory helped distribute this mess of a creature feature that I should have known was bad just based on the name alone. The story follows a single mother of two who is deeply grieving for her youngest child who was killed in a car accident. Moving them out of New York to a secluded mansion in a small town where she is to be the caregiver for an elderly collector suffering from MS. One of his relics happens to contain a giant spider within that terrorizes everyone. This movie is an absolute mess will pretty much no redeeming features besides a couple of cool monster effects. Not even worth a moment of your time.

The Addams Family & Addams Family Values – Anyone who is a 90s kid like myself will have a deep love for both of these movies and now they are both in one Blu-ray package together. With an animated film coming next week to theaters, relive the perfect big-screen live-action representation of the iconic Addams family played beautifully by the legendary Raul Julia, Angelica Huston, a very young Christina Ricci and the kid who played Pugsley, Jimmy Workman, who is actually the older brother of Modern Family’s Ariel Winter. This movie proved that they didn’t Tim Burton to make this movie creepy, kooky, spooky and ooky because director Barry Sonnenfeld did that quite handily. Also never forget that the second movie featured the hit M.C. Hammer song “Too Legit To Quit” but I know you would never let that slip your mind being such big fans and all.

Gunsmoke: Season 15 Volume 1 & 2 – When I was a kid my dad had me watching all the shows he grew up on like Bonanza, The Rifleman and this show about U.S. marshal Matt Dillon (not the actor), a man employed to keep his town of Dodge City peaceful and calm, which you know never happens. With six hundred and thirty-five total episodes totalling twenty seasons by the time the show wrapped up, it’s hard to tell you exactly what these two volumes are exactly about but the great thing about Gunsmoke is that you can drop in just about anywhere.

Tell Me A Story: Season 1 – A band new series from the creators of The Vampire Diaries, I had never heard of this show until it was sent to me by the people at Paramount but now I’m pretty excited about it as the fan base has really latched onto this show. If you are a regular reader of my piece here each week then you will know that I love a good horror anthology and that is exactly what this is. Created by the man who wrote Scream, this show takes classic fables like interweaves The Three Little Pigs, Little Red Riding Hood and Hansel and Gretel and reimagines them in a modern setting with a cast of recurring characters played by The Vampire Diaries’ Paul Wesley, Zoo’s James Wolk and Aladdin’s Billy Magnussen.

Charmed (2019): Season 1 – Everything that was old is slowly but surely becoming new again as this show about three witch sister, originally played by Shannen Doherty, Holly Marie Combs, Alyssa Milano then eventually Rose McGowan when Doherty was fired, gets brand new life again on the CW. Stepping into the roles now are Be Kind Rewind’s Melonie Diaz, Into The Badlands’ Madeleine Mantock and Shades Of Blue’s Sarah Jeffery who take the series in a darker direction which is maybe why some of the original fans of the series it was spawned from absolutely hate it. Progression is either forgotten or hated in these types of shows.

Avatar: The Last Airbender & The Legend Of Korra – The complete series of Avatar The Last Airbender was released on Blu-ray back in June but when I never received a copy of it, I was mighty upset. Now the show has been paired with its companion series in a new double set and I am so happy to have it in my hands. This is a massively popular anime series produced with the help of Nickelodeon that had both the fan support behind it from the beginning as well as some big critical acclaim. We just won’t speak of the M. Night Shyamalan garbage that was derived from it.

Steve’s Blu-Ray Geekout:

Clarence Clemons: Who Do I Think I Am? – In my opinion, the greatest saxophone player of all time gets his due in this documentary made eight years after his death. Clarence was known for his forefront role in the E Street Band, backing “The Boss” Bruce Springsteen, but this documentary digs deep into his life, showing the more intimate side of the musician, something no fan has ever gotten to see before. Full disclosure on my knowledge of Clemons, I was educated at a young age because he appeared in Bill And Ted’s Excellent Adventure as one of “The Three Most Important People In The World” and I had questions for my mom.

Who Saw Her Die? – Back to the giallo films from Arrow Video, a genre I have become increasingly fond of. This movie stars one time James Bond actor George Lazenby as a sculptor and the father of a young girl who is brutally murdered in a series of killings in France. Taking matters into his own hands, he and his wife start their own investigation into who may be the killer, putting themselves at risk as the body count rises. Being made in 1972, the movie is definitely cheesy due to the time period but still pretty entertaining and as wooden as Lazenby is, it kind of works in this one. This isn’t going to astound anyone but it’s pretty a pretty entertaining serial killer film.

Television:

Big Mouth: Season 3 (Netflix) – It’s time to get uncomfortable with our bodies all over again as this lewd, rude and massively crude animated comedy returns with all-new episodes. I adore anything that Nick Kroll and John Mulaney do and when you throw Maya Rudolph and Jason Mantzoukas into the mix than I am in love. For those who don’t know about this show, it is the awkward and sometimes brutal coming of age story of two best friends in the throes of puberty. Watch it at your own risk but keep it in mind that it is totally my kind of messed up.

Peaky Blinders: Season 5 (Netflix) – This massively popular BBC creation makes its anticipated return to the streaming site, featuring an incredible cast led by Cillian Murphy and Helen McCrory, Anya Taylor-Joy, Aiden Gillen and Finn Cole in great supporting roles. The series is a gangster family epic set in 1919 Birmingham, England, a ruthlessly brutal gang who sewed razor blades in the peaks of their caps to take care of their enemies, led by their fierce boss Tommy Shelby, Murphy’s character. The new season has Tommy as the now the newly elected Labour MP for Birmingham South but dealing with new problems in the wake of a massive Wall Street crash. People are going to be all over this one.

Raising Dion: Season 1 (Netflix) – This is a show that I really just found out about this week but it looks pretty interesting. The show is about a widowed young mother whose life is thrown into disarray when she discovers that her son has superpowers and tries to figure out how to raise him safely and responsibly. The cool thing about this series is that it’s a family-oriented show so the whole family can get in on it but there are no recognizable stars in the show at all so the acting is a little lesser in quality.

In The Tall Grass (Netflix) – It’s really funny because I’m in Vancouver this week to cover the Vancouver International Film Festival and this movie actually played the fest but I was being bored to death at the time by Terrence Malick so I completely missed it. Now everyone can see it, the new film from Cube director Vincenzo Natali, based on a novella written by father and son duo Stephen King and Joe Hill. The film is about a sister and brother who venture into a vast field of tall grass in Kansas after hearing a cry for help. Quickly they discover that the have entered an endless maze and there is something hunting them down. This is totally my kind of movie and I really hope it washes all my bad feelings away about It: Chapter 2. You owe me, Steve!

Goliath: Season 3 (Amazon Prime) – This show became the most streamed show on the Amazon Prime service well before anyone knew about it, at least in Canada, so I expect this Billy Bob Thornton led sleazy lawyer series is hotly anticipated coming into its third year. The show has Thorton as a disgraced lawyer who has fallen so far down the ladder that he is now essentially an ambulance chaser. This all changes when he gets the opportunity to stick it to his former firm and earn some redemption with a special case that lands in his lap. Featuring a recurring role from William Hurt and created by television magician David E. Kelley, it looks to have all the makings of a great show.

A Hidden Life – It’s been a long time since I loved a Terrence Malick film, the mid-nineties to be exact with his conscientious objector war film The Thin Red Line, and with his return to real narrative filmmaking with this film, I thought this would be the ticket back into his work and I’d be celebrating him as my friends do. Interestingly enough, this is another conscientious objector about Franz Jagerstatter, an Austrian farmer who refuses to fight for the Nazis. I feel like I was lied to about the narrative thing because this is still all flighty shots of water, fields and staring people with voiceovers. This guy is a serious junkie for repose and I’m bored with it.

Stieg Larsson: The Man Who Played With Fire – An insightful documentary, this is a deep look at an author who made it internationally famous seemingly, in the world’s eyes, overnight and then was dead soon after. The deep dig of this film reveals a news writer, much like the one in his novels, who was dedicated to bringing the rise of the far right, white nationalism and nazi extremism to the media spotlight in Sweden and being condemned and having his life threatened by those he investigated. This is an interesting story of how the real events that shaped the author of the Girl With The Dragon Tattoo series to write his best work that he would never get the chance to enjoy.

Motherless Brooklyn – Edward Norton is back behind the camera for the first time in almost twenty years with this new detective noir drama where he plays a private investigator’s helper who takes it upon himself to unravel a mystery that gets his boss killed. It should also be mentioned that Norton’s character suffers from Tourette’s Syndrome, which is sometimes played for laughs. The film is an engaging film with a great script but no one in the film is particularly amazing, no standouts that I could see. The film is a little rough around the edges and could be trimmed down a bit, plus there was a bit of additional dialogue that felt a little tacked on.

Escher: Journey Into Infinity – W.D. Escher is a fascinating person who’s art can’t twist and blow the mind just on its first impression. For this reason, I was really looking forward to checking out this documentary, which approaches the subject by acting like he made the film himself, talking to us through the well known and appreciated tones of Stephen Fry’s voice. For me, the film was informative and concise, giving us both a deep look at the art as well as the man who created it but when it comes to his influence on modern culture and it’s uses I felt it get a bit silly in a “Bill and Ted” what’s this wacky thing going on here sort of way. Left me a bit cold.

NO TRAILER FOR THIS ONE

Sorry We Missed You – Being a huge fan of Ken Loach’s since I saw The Wind That Shakes The Barley in my video store days, his films have come to be the ones I love forward to most at the festival and this one didn’t disappoint and refused to let me leave without shedding some tears. The film is about a lower-class family living in Newcastle and struggling to get back to a position of being able to buy a home. The father has just got a new job as a parcel delivery service, but one you have to buy into, causing them to sell his wife’s car that she uses for her job as a home care nurse. As the two parents struggle in their fourteen to sixteen-hour workdays, their kids suffer as their older son begins to lash out as a vandal. Loach always gets to the heart of the everyman’s plight against the system and it’s always heartbreaking.

Parasite – What a great way to start out my coverage of this year’s Vancouver International Film Festival, some great Korean cinema from one of the masters, Bong Joon-Ho. In his return to all Korean film, he tells the story of a family of con artists who grift their way into a rich families lives as a chauffeur, housekeeper, tutor and personal assistant respectively. They think they’ve hit the big time until the former housekeeper shows them a deep secret that she’s been hiding in their employer’s house that blows everyone’s situation up. Joon-Ho crafts another incredible masterpiece of a movie that’s filled with twists, incredible cinematography and the amazing ability to tell stories within a story. He never relents in showing that he is not only one of the greatest Korean storytellers today but one of the best in cinema today.

Burning Cane – A hard film to derive anything out of it except a desperate feeling sorrow, this is a brutal and deeply emotional first feature from writer and director Phillip Youmans, a filmmaker that seems to have the eye of a director like Terrance Malick but without the same repose. The film is built around three characters, a mother who has deeply religious convictions that she wants to impart on those closest to her to a futile degree, her son, a father who’s systemic alcoholism completely drowned any potential he has as a man and a reverend who spits fire at the podium but drowns his demons in the drink whenever he is away from the spotlight. This movie is tragic and viscerally real but kind of left me a bit in the third act.

The Lighthouse – Ever since I saw The Witch at a press screening in 2015 I have been waiting rabidly for the new Robert Eggers film and he did not disappoint. Shot in black and white and in a 1.19:1 aspect ratio (basically a square on the movie screen), this is the story of two lighthouse keepers who arrive to run the light on a New England island in 1890. In two incredible and award-worthy performances, Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe descend into isolated madness before your eyes and I’ve never seen anything like it. The description I’m trying to push to describe this film is it’s like if David Lynch wrote a sea shanty and put it on the big screen.

Just Mercy – Short Term 12 director Destin Daniel Cretin returns to form after The Glass Castle with this well-acted true story about civil rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson, a Harvard law school graduate who moved from Delaware to Alabama to give death row inmates proper legal representation, played in this film by Michael B. Jordan. Awards season will definitely contain talk of this movie when it sees release in December and not just for Jordan who turns in another great performance but it’s more likely that Jamie Foxx will get the nomination as a wrongly convicted small-town Alabama man that was made a target by a brutal sheriff in his county.

Babysplitters – The premise of this movie started good, two couples that feel the need to have kids but are too worried about losing their freedoms in their work, recreation and romantic lives. Then a deal is struck. Due to the infertility of one of the ladies, it is proposed that the one husband knock the other wife up and custody of the baby would be shared between the four of them. Wacky plot, right? Community’s Danny Pudi plays the lead in a film that feels just as silly as it’s premise and goes through tremendous logic stretches to keep going and falls apart in an “alls well that ends well” sort of ending. Disappointing.

NO TRAILER FOR THIS ONE.