Steve Stebbing

Breaking down all things pop culture

New Releases:

Once Upon A Deadpool (Opens Wednesday) – No, this isn’t a third Deadpool movie technically because it’s a re-edit of the R rated sequel to bring it down to a PG13 for the holiday season. Oh, and it also has a Princess Bride-like main subplot that has Deadpool reading the story to a bed snuggled Fred Savage, just like in the classic Rob Reiner film. What can we expect from this one? I think that is a tough question because Ryan Reynolds always delivers with this character, aside from the Wolverine: Origins debacle, and I’ve loved everything so far, including the incredible ad campaign of both movies. (Not opening in Kamloops or Oshawa)

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse – If you’ve seen any trailers for this movie you know how astoundingly original the animation looks in this one and how comic book really it feels. That said, this is shaping up to be the greatest Spider-Man film ever made, bringing all the different comic iterations of the web-slinger. How is this possible? Well, it’s something called the Spider-verse, something well established in the comics but maybe a little tough for non-fans to get a grip on. What I can say is that this might be the best family film of the year, one that will have everyone coming out of the theater with wide-eyed wonder and excitement. This is one of those must-sees.

The Mule – Clint Eastwood directs and stars in this film about a ninety-year-old war vet who has an insanely dangerous way to make money: trafficking cocaine for a Mexican cartel. The trailer looks intense and nerve-racking with Bradley Cooper and Laurence Fishburne playing the DEA agents looking for the prominent mule in the area, putting Eastwood’s character in a precarious balance between the law and the brutal enforcers that the cartel employs. Oddly enough, Warner isn’t shipping this one around for award season and isn’t even prescreening it which is never a good sign. (Not opening in Hamilton or Kamloops)

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

Mary Queen Of Scots – Saorise Ronan and Margot Robbie will not only battle for the united kingdom but probably awards as well this year in this film about the warring cousins Mary Stuart and Elizabeth I. Coming from first time director Josie Rourke, this movie is going to be all about the powerful performances of these two incredible actresses but, for me, it’s all about art direction and costume design, two categories that I’m sure will clean up at the Oscars. This will probably be a bit dull for some audiences but I loved the Cate Blanchett Elizabeth movies so I’m excited about this one. (Only opening in Toronto and Vancouver)

Blaze – Ethan Hawke steps behind the camera for his second feature, a music biopic about a folk-country singer named Blaze Foley, a talent snuffed out before he could make his legacy mark. Hawke presents this story in three ways that co-mingle; the story of his burgeoning love story with the love of his life, his drunken and volatile meandering after the dissolution of that relationship and his bandmates telling the story of their fallen friend, years after his popularity had faded from recent memory. The music feels real and authentic with musician Ben Dickey taking on the role of Foley but his inexperience is really felt in the more dramatic scenes. This is probably the weakest part of the film. (Opening in Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver)

Blu-ray:

The Equalizer 2 – Denzel Washington reprises his role of Robert McCall from four years ago, one made famous by Edward Woodward on television, in his first ever sequel. Teaming again with director Antoine Fuqua, this story gets personal with McCall avenging the murder of one of his closest friends, something that he feels he brought directly to her doorstep. I enjoyed the first movie with some minor gripes but this one feels a bit stale and almost unnecessary story wise. A rare misfire with an actor who has enough gravitas to make pretty much anything work.

Peppermint – Jennifer Garner rechannels her Alias and Elektra experience for this revenge action thriller, playing a mother and wife who wreaks bloody vengeance after her husband and daughter are gunned down. The reviews on this film are definitely not good so you kind of going into this one with a very low bar. Hopefully, the saving grace of this movie could be it’s action scenes as the director is responsible for Taken and District 13. Being an action guy I have some invested interest in that.

Colette – Keira Knightley gives a solid performance and is the ultimate draw in this biopic about Gabrielle Sidonie Colette, a writer who made a mark in Paris by creating a bestselling series of books but the pen name was that of her husband. As her husband was celebrated for her talents, Colette began to discover who she was emotionally and sexually, eventually pushing her to fight for the ownership of her art. The film is driven fully by the strength of Knightley’s fire but unfortunately hasn’t really been proven memorable this award season.

Smallfoot – I really wish I had gotten the chance to check out this adorable little film in theatres because it’s fun and actually has some really nice original musical and, yes, I still hate musicals. Channing Tatum voices Migo, a yeti, the next in line to be an important part of the yeti society, ringing the gong to signal the morning. After a misfire in a gong ringing practice run, Migo comes across a human being, or smallfoot, whose existence would go against everything the yeti folk believe in. The combination of a great cast with a pretty funny script makes this one a winner, although so of the more overarching themes seem very heavy handed.

Lizzie – The story of Lizzie Borden and what may have happened in the time leading up to the brutal murder of her parents, this one has been done a few times already. Stepping into that lead role is Chloe Sevigny and Kristen Stewart playing the housekeeper Bridget Sullivan opposite her and, while the acting from the two is good, the movie feels a bit dull coming off as a period drama more than a thriller.

Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero – In a low key animated feature, this is the true story of a stray dog who ended up joining the allied forces along with his new owner in World War I. Although it’s kind of a direct to video type deal, only receiving an extremely limited run, this movie has some notables in it’s cast including Logan Lerman, Helena Bonham Carter and Gerard Depardieu. Even with that being the case, this one most likely won’t stick around in your brain long.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation – This is the fourth “Chainsaw” film ever and was the film debut for Renee Zellweger as well as an early role of Matthew McConaughey. Is this movie any good? Well, in terms of the original series, no, it’s probably the worst one. Now, f you compare it to some of the more recent sequels then it ages like a fine wine and Shout Factory has such a great respect for all these horror films. The special features are always solid too, this one including all new retrospectives, behind the scenes, interviews and both theatrical and director’s cuts.

Nathan For You: Complete Series – This box set is a goldmine of hilariously awkward moments through comedian Nathan Fielder’s need to help your business. I’m totally late to this party but I laughed my ass off and found myself plunging through the first season very quickly. As Nathan makes his pitches for odd things at businesses or has a job interview with a kindergartener in an earbud feeding him answers I found myself increasingly fascinated with this show.

Instinct: Season 1 – Based on a James Patterson book called Murder Games, Alan Cumming stars in this procedural about a former CIA paramilitary officer, novelist and current university prof Dr. Dylan Reinhart who is brought back to law enforcement when a serial killer starts using his works as a sort of playbook of murder. Although it uses the usual tropes of these kinds of shows to play more of a long con, the fundamentals of liking it are still based on if you’re able to find enough interest in Cumming as a lead star. I genuinely enjoy him but I feel he had so much more as a supporting player in The Good Wife. I’m definitely not in the bag after the first episode.

Steve’s Blu-ray Geek Out:

Candyman – Shout Factory released his gothic Clive Barker horror film that freaked the hell out of a young Steve. Tony Todd made himself unforgettable in the title role, a character that would cause any horror fan to think about him anytime they saw a mirror. Presented in a two-disc set with a theatrical and unrated cut, the special features are deep with three separate commentary tracks over a brand new restored picture, so many production featurettes, retrospectives and interviews, it’s a treasure trove if you love this movie. This film garnered a bit of a fan following but only did three movies, a bit reserved by usual horror standards. That said, it is getting the reboot treatment but it is produced by Jordan Peele.

Urban Legend – A movie that came out near the end of the nineties slasher run, who knew that this film had a future Oscar winner in it with Jared Leto? Well, to be honest, the movie isn’t amazing but Aussie director Jamie Blanks has a lot of style to his films and the layout of this story is original and I like the look of the killer in the parka. Again gifting horror fans, Shout Factory jam packs more special features in this two-disc collector’s edition like two audio commentaries, a whole bunch of cast and crew interviews and new never before seen behind the scenes footage.

Urban Legend: Final Cut – Producers tried to follow the success of Urban Legends with this sequel which just pulls up short in every way. The cast was largely unproven, usual Bryan Singer editor and composer John Ottman was making his feature directorial debut and the fencing mask has nothing on the parka. I will give this film that some of the kills are nice and the blu-ray has commentary with Ottman, deleted scenes and interviews including Rebecca Gayheart from the first movie.

Special VOD:

The House That Jack Built – Lars Von Trier is in a league of his own. He is uncompromising, wholly self-indulgent and is fully willing to cross any line morally, ethically and existentially. This is definitely true with this new film which has Matt Dillon playing a serial killer exploring the five pivotal murders or incidents in his killing spree that makes the legacy of his legend. This is a movie that will push you as a viewer with things I have never seen done before and a lot I wouldn’t care to see again, Still, this is one of those memorable cinematic pieces for 2018 and a film I will never shake for the rest of my life.

Netflix:

Roma – You might as well get on seeing this one now because it is going to get some large buzz as awards season builds after New Year’s. Gravity director Alfonso Cuaron is back with this slice of Mexico City life in the early 1970s following Cleo, a housekeeper for a couple and their four children. Her employer’s marriage starts to crumble at the same time Cleo is forced with a life changer, making the two women’s bond closer and closer. Cuaron’s autobiographical connection to this film adds to the heart of it combining with the technical brilliance in its construction and cinematography. I spent many a moment slack-jawed over beautiful dolly shots, framing and use of reflection. This one is very special.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: A Midwinter’s Tale – It’s only been a few weeks since the first season of this show debuted on Netflix but now we get a Christmas special to tide over those who have quickly made their way through all the episodes and are salivating for more. To be honest, I haven’t even got started on the series so I may try to catch up with it in time for a Christmas viewing of this special.

Cuckoo: Season 4 – This series is an odd one, commissioned by the BBC and starring Andy Samberg before he was unable to return to film the show due to a massive slate of projects and was replaced by Taylor Lautner, which is bizarre casting in my opinion. The show is about a British family who must welcome their new son in law from hell, played by Samberg/Lautner, an American “free spirit”. I really liked the first season but haven’t seen Lautner’s take on the character.

Fuller House: Season 4 – This is basically on here as a plea to the audience because I have no idea why this show is still being made. Is the nostalgia that prolonged or is this show’s appeal beyond just that? Is this show good? Let me know. That said, this show would probably have more appeal to me with John Stamos, Dave Colier and Bob Sagat as the leading guys again but I only really like the original for kitsch value and the childhood staple it was.

The Fix – Being a huge fan of British panel talk shows, this series hosted by Jimmy Carr is totally up my alley. Featuring guests like Ron Funches, D.L. Hughley and Fortune Feimster, they band together to solve world issues like conservative politics, gender pay gaps and, the best one, social media. This will be a really easy binge for me but will it survive? Talk shows do not have a good Netflix track record.

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New Releases:

Anna And The Apocalypse – It’s like this movie was made to get me immediately into the theater 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. (Only opening in Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver)

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

Hospitality – Emmanuelle Chiriqui stars in this very straightforward character-driven film about a bed and breakfast owner whose latest guest is a blast from the past that throws her quiet life with her mentally challenged son into upheaval. The cast is just five people including Chiriqui but the movie is simple and entertaining enough and it was a nerd moment for me to see Entourage’s Sloane with True Blood’s Sam Merlotte. (Only opening in Toronto)

Love Jacked – In a story that feels like a tedious retread of a bad sitcom, our main character gets engaged against her overbearing father’s wishes then said fiance cheats on her so she’s forced to bring the man she meets at a diner to pose as the groom to be. Did this get spiced up with any fresh dialogue or any sort of originality? Nope, just a waste of your hour and a half. (Only opening in Toronto, Winnipeg and Vancouver)

Nothing Like A Dame – Dames Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Joan Plowright and Eileen Atkins have been tea friends decades upon decades but it took Notting Hill director Roger Michell to say “hey, can we come and film your conversation?” for me to become re-enamored with these four legendary actresses. Some may find this one a bit dry, the film just being exactly what it sells itself as, an afternoon of prompted stories, but to hear the shared insight and connections with these ladies careers was so fascinating. (Only opening in Vancouver)

Finding Big Country – Made right here in Vancouver by Grizzlies super fan Kathleen Jayme, this is a beautiful little tribute documentary short is about her search for her idol Bryant “Big Country” Reeves who pretty much just disappeared once he retired due to injury. The film starts by showing something pretty disturbing as a twenty plus year lower mainland resident; the city has forgotten about their former NBA team the Vancouver Grizzlies. Heck, they don’t even exist in the B.C. hall of fame! This is where Jayme comes in to save the day and it’s sweet and inspiring to investigate this person that had such influence on her life. Definitely a feel-good movie. (Only opening in Vancouver)

Blu-Ray:

Mission Impossible: Fallout – When Tom Cruise steps out to make a Mission Impossible film you know that it’s going to be full force, mind-blowing and one of the most exciting cinematic experiences that you will come across. This is certainly true of this movie, the second film in the series for Rogue Nation director Christopher McQuarrie, and when Cruise teams with this guy they are absolutely unstoppable. Henry Cavill and his problematic moustache are new to the franchise and I have to say that the bathroom fight scene pitting Cruise and Cavill against an enemy operative is definitely the cinematic fight of the year and maybe the decade.

The Nun – It seems that the only thing Warner Bros can make work when it comes to cinematic universes is The Conjuring one headed by James Wan. This, the fifth of the connected films goes back the furthest to 1952 and the events around a Romanian monastery that brought us this demonic nu that first terrorized audiences in The Conjuring 2. The performances are solid in this film, Demian Bechir the biggest draw as the priest haunted by a failed exorcism and the cinematography is gorgeous, done by Alejandre Aja’s usual guy Maxime Alexandre. The story is where this lets you down, predictable and pretty paint by numbers, although director Corin Hardy has piqued my interest with his style.

The Happytime Murders – It’s about damn time we got something a bit more adult involving Muppets and by “bit more” I mean let’s get R-rated with them. It was a bumpy ride for the Brian Henson film, getting sued by Sesame Street along the way, but the film looks funny, following a murder mystery from the point of view of two cops, one puppet and one a human with a transplanted puppet organ, Together they are trying to stop a serial puppet killer before the body count rises too much. The reviews are atrocious, unfortunately, saying that the originality is there but they fail to fully go for it, always content with the easy jokes. For me, this looks like a Melissa McCarty movie I can fully get behind.

Pope Francis: A Man Of His Word – This documentary is proof to not judge a film by its cover as, on the outside, this looks like a faith-based doc about the Pope Francis and his journey to the Vatican. On one hand is sort of is but German new wave legend Wim Wenders and Pope Francis himself instead use this platform as a plea for world unification for a purpose; the protection and preservation of the earth, the protection and safe harbour of those displaced and war-stricken immigrants and to disarm those who would chose to use these mass weapons to crush the weak for personal or monetary gain. By the end of this film, I have to say that I was won over and I am by no means a religious person.

God Bless The Broken Road – Oh boy, there’s something about these faith-based films that feel so manipulative to an outside audience and this one fits that mould to a tee. The film follows a military wife who falls on hard times after her husband is killed in combat and must rely on her faith to get her through. Honestly, if you are a believer of the themes in this one it will hit with you but as a majority audience, I feel these films have no real tethering point.

What Keeps You Alive – A film that will fly completely under the radar, this looks like one of those can’t miss sleeper hits. Jackie and Jules are heading up into the mountains to celebrate their one year wedding anniversary. Once there, Jackie turns on Jules and proceeds to hunt her down in the backwoods, turning their secluded romantic getaway into a brutal fight against each other for survival. The trailer for this will knock you on your ass, I can’t wait to get my hands on this one.

Operation Finale – A group of agents led by Oscar Isaac take down a high ranking SS official Adolf Eichmann, plated by Sir Ben Kingsley. Sounds solid, right? This movie was slated for a North America wide release until it was pulled for some reason in August and landed on Netflix a couple months back. The special features are a little non-existant so besides the Blu-ray disc hi-def you might as well go the Netflix route.

Elliot The Littlest Reindeer – Of course with the holiday season now in full swing we get a rush of Christmas animated films ad this one is Canada’s entry. Usual documentarian Jennifer Westcott wrote and directed this film that pushes away any limits of the Santa Claus mythos to forge something new as a miniature horse competes in a sort of Olympiad to secure himself on Santa’s reindeer team. This is where I feel that the big Hollywood and the international studio made animated films have made it hard for the little guy to get traction as this movie feels second best in every way and is kind of a slog to get through. The kids may certainly enjoy it but the adults will be missing the opportunity to start scrolling through anything on their phones to avoid it.

McQueen – The tragic story of fashion designer Lee Alexander McQueen, this is a documentary of a powerful creative life that was cut way too short. I’ve taken in fashion documentaries before which don’t really engage me at all but the beauty of this film had me absolutely fascinated and wishing I had seen it on a screen at least bigger than my laptop. The work McQueen was creating was on an astonishing level of artistry that becomes the measuring point of what’s to follow.

Steve’s Blu-Ray Geek Out:

The Crown: Season 2 – I know. The subject matter of the Queen and the words geek out seem like oil and water but you’ll have to hear me out on this one because the “geekery” arises from the Blu-ray itself. Now, this, as many people know, is available on Netflix but what you don’t get is a thorough look at the scandals of the time in the Royal Family as well as a watch along “tea time” trivia track that plays with each episode. I think stuff like this is so cool.

Dances With Wolves – Shout Factory gave me a beautiful gift this week with the three-disc steelbook of possibly the greatest western of modern cinema, one that just recently had its twenty-eighth anniversary. Complete with a theatrical cut and an extended cut with commentary from director and star Kevin Costner, you can go deep into the story of Lieutenant John Dunbar, a movie that won seven Academy Awards. I’m also convinced that James Cameron borrowed some of this for Avatar.

Single White Female – This Barbet Schroeder thriller is a benchmark classic and one that will always be referenced by people who are using classified ads to find a roommate. It’s a terrifying story of obsession that I’m so surprised no studio has optioned it for a remake yet. Bridget Fonda faces off with a psycho Jennifer Jason Leigh in a role that may be one of the high points for both actresses twenty six years ago and that stiletto to the eye is still a total cringe moment.

Netflix:

Dogs of Berlin – An new cop drama from Germany, this series looks stylish and, from the trailer, is infused with some dark humor as well. The story has two detectives at the precipice of a race war after the murder of a top football star falls on their doorstep. Again Netflix brings more international viewing that will hopefully garner some interest in North America.

Dumplin’ – This one stars Jenifer Aniston and the star of the fantastic indie comedy Patti Cakes, Danielle Macdonald, this is a film about the daughter of a former beauty queen and the face of the towns local beauty pageant who is affectionately called Dumplin’ by her distracted mother. In order to get some attention from her mom, she enters the yearly contest in a story that may play out exactly as you think but with some charm as both these women are very funny. Directed by The Proposal’s Anne Fletcher, the movie features a lot of Dolly Parton songs as well as a new single.

Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle – Another adaptation of the Jungle Book is here but you’re not going to hear the Bare Necessities with this considerably darker adaptation from director Rudyard Kipling. A solid voice cast is featured in this, with Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Benedict Cumberbatch and more, but the CGI in this trailer just was not working for me. I really want to love Serkis as a director but between Breathe and what I’m seeing with this one he has a way to go yet.

Pine Gap – A counter-terrorism drama from Australia? Yeah, I’m a little skeptical of this one as the trailer is just horrendous for it but what if this is one of the next pickups for American television and you’re just getting on the ground floor for it right here? It may be a hard sell but this series comes from the people behind the Aussie crime series Underbelly which is a really great discovery I made a few years back.

ReMastered: Who Killed Jam Master Jay? – A member of possibly the greatest rap group of all time and one that seemed to transcend the genre into its own legacy category, why was it all marred by such tragedy? This continuing docuseries breaks down the evidence around the murder of Jam Master Jay and explore the conspiracy around a botched police investigation, the tampering and removal of evidence and the blind eye turned on the man who helped bring Run DMC to the masses.

Well, the Golden Globe nominations are now out so what is going to nab the statues? What should take them home? I break it down here. The prediction is in bold, the asterisk for the dream pick.

Best Motion Picture – Drama
“Black Panther”
“BlacKkKlansman” *
“Bohemian Rhapsody”
“If Beale Street Could Talk”
A Star Is Born

Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama
Glenn Close (“The Wife”) *
Lady Gaga (“A Star Is Born”)
Nicole Kidman (“Destroyer”)
Melissa McCarthy (“Can You Ever Forgive Me?”)
Rosamund Pike (“A Private War”)

Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama
Bradley Cooper
(“A Star Is Born”)
Willem Dafoe (“At Eternity’s Gate”)
Lucas Hedges (“Boy Erased”)
Rami Malek (“Bohemian Rhapsody”) *
John David Washington (“BlacKkKlansman”)

Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy
“Crazy Rich Asians”
“The Favourite”
“Green Book”
“Mary Poppins Returns”
Vice” *

Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy
Emily Blunt
(“Mary Poppins Returns”)
Olivia Colman (“The Favourite”)
Elsie Fisher (“Eighth Grade”) *
Charlize Theron (“Tully”)
Constance Wu (“Crazy Rich Asians”)

Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy
Christian Bale
(“Vice”) *
Lin-Manuel Miranda (“Mary Poppins Returns”)
Viggo Mortensen (“Green Book”)
Robert Redford (“The Old Man & the Gun”)
John C. Reilly (“Stan & Ollie”)

Best Actress in a Supporting Role in any Motion Picture
Amy Adams (“Vice”)
Claire Foy (“First Man”)
Regina King (“If Beale Street Could Talk”)
Emma Stone (“The Favourite”)
Rachel Weisz (“The Favourite”) *

Best Actor in a Supporting Role in any Motion Picture
Mahershala Ali (“Green Book”)
Timothee Chalamet (“Beautiful Boy”)
Adam Driver (“BlacKkKlansman”)
Richard E. Grant (“Can You Ever Forgive Me?”) *
Sam Rockwell (“Vice”)

Best Motion Picture – Animated
“Incredibles 2”
“Isle of Dogs”
“Mirai”
“Ralph Breaks the Internet”
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” *

Best Motion Picture – Foreign Language
“Capernaum”
“Girl”
“Never Look Away”
Roma” *
“Shoplifters”

Best Director – Motion Picture
Bradley Cooper
(“A Star Is Born”)
Alfonso Cuaron (“Roma”)
Peter Farrelly (“Green Book”)
Spike Lee (“BlacKkKlansman”) *
Adam McKay (“Vice”)

Best Screenplay – Motion Picture
Alfonso Cuaron (“Roma”)
Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara (“The Favourite”) *
Barry Jenkins (“If Beale Street Could Talk”)
Adam McKay (“Vice”)
Peter Farrelly, Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie (“Green Book”)

Best Original Score – Motion Picture
Marco Beltrami (“A Quiet Place”)
Alexandre Desplat (“Isle of Dogs”) *
Ludwig Göransson (“Black Panther”)
Justin Hurwitz (“First Man”)
Marc Shaiman (“Mary Poppins Returns”)

Best Original Song – Motion Picture
“All the Stars” (“Black Panther”) *
“Girl in the Movies” (“Dumplin’”)
“Requiem For a Private War” (“A Private War”)
“Revelation’ (“Boy Erased”)
Shallow” (“A Star Is Born”)

Best Television Series – Drama
“The Americans” *
Bodyguard
“Homecoming”
“Killing Eve”
“Pose”

Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Drama
Caitriona Balfe (“Outlander”)
Elisabeth Moss (“The Handmaid’s Tale”)
Sandra Oh (“Killing Eve”)
Julia Roberts (“Homecoming”)
Keri Russell (“The Americans”) *

Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Drama
Jason Bateman (“Ozark”)
Stephan James (“Homecoming”)
Richard Madden (“Bodyguard”)
Billy Porter (“Pose”)
Matthew Rhys (“The Americans”) *

Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy
Barry” (HBO)
“The Good Place” (NBC)
“Kidding” (Showtime) *
“The Kominsky Method” (Netflix)
“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (Amazon)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy
Kristen Bell (“The Good Place”)
Candice Bergen (“Murphy Brown”)
Alison Brie (“Glow”) *
Rachel Brosnahan (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”)
Debra Messing (“Will & Grace”)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy
Sacha Baron Cohen (“Who Is America?”)
Jim Carrey (“Kidding”) *
Michael Douglas (“The Kominsky Method”)
Donald Glover (“Atlanta”)
Bill Hader (“Barry”)

Best Television Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
“The Alienist” (TNT)
“The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” (FX)
Escape at Dannemora” (Showtime)
“Sharp Objects” (HBO) *
“A Very English Scandal” (Amazon)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Amy Adams (“Sharp Objects”) *
Patricia Arquette (“Escape at Dannemora”)
Connie Britton (“Dirty John”)
Laura Dern (“The Tale”)
Regina King (“Seven Seconds”)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Antonio Banderas (“Genius: Picasso”)
Daniel Bruhl (“The Alienist”) *
Darren Criss (“The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story”)
Benedict Cumberbatch (“Patrick Melrose”)
Hugh Grant (“A Very English Scandal”)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Alex Borstein (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”) *
Patricia Clarkson (“Sharp Objects”)
Penelope Cruz (“The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story”)
Thandie Newton (“Westworld”)
Yvonne Strahovski (“The Handmaid’s Tale”)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Alan Arkin (“The Kominsky Method”)
Kieran Culkin (“Succession”)
Edgar Ramirez (“The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story”)
Ben Whishaw (“A Very English Scandal”)
Henry Winkler (“Barry”) *

 

 

This week on the show we were just in time to talk a little bit about the Golden Globe nominations, who dominated, who’s going to dominate and who will host the evening. I also give the low down of the Christmas musical with zombies, Anna And The Apocalypse as well as the local short documentary, Finding Big Country.

https://omny.fm/shows/steele-drex/at-the-box-office-with-steve-stebbing-49/embed

New Releases:

The Possession of Hannah Grace – How about kicking off the Christmas month with some frightening possession horror? The story is interesting, with the corpse of a girl being brought into the morgue after an apparent exorcism. Later that night the evil inside her reanimates the body, terrorizing the main character, a morgue attendant. This is definitely not going to be everyone’s cup of tea but as a horror fan, the trailer has me hook line and sinker.

At Eternity’s Gate – Willem Dafoe plays Vincent Van Gogh. That leading sentence should get any film fan into a theatre seat. Adding to that, this is the latest film from Julian Schnabel, the director of The Diving Bell And The Butterfly, my favorite French film possibly of all time. This film follows the period of time that the famously tortured artist lived in Arles and Auvers-sur-Oise, France, his relationship with his brother Theo and his colleague Paul Gauguin, played by the great Oscar Isaac. We also get Van Gogh looking for solace with a priest played by Mads Mikkelsen. Yeah, this one is stacked, the reviews are great and I find myself asking once again “why hasn’t Dafoe won an Oscar yet?” (Opening in Toronto and Vancouver)

Tiger – With the success of the Rocky movies and now the Creed spinoffs, boxing films should be a game anyone can get into, right? Well, filmmaker Alister Grierson wanted to give it a go with this true story inspired film about a Sikh man with aggression issues who sparks the interest of an ageing former boxer suffering from Parkinson’s. Fighting against the boxing commision to keep his religious practices intact and still compete, the film has a strong message with terrible execution. Where this story could set itself apart, it just becomes lackluster, badly acted and completely formulaic by the end. The main star draw in this film is Mickey Rourke, playing the main character’s trainer, but something happened to Mickey and he looks terrible and has no heart in his performance. This is an absolute dud. (Opening in Toronto and Vancouver)

Clara – This film is billed as a science fiction but it feels like more of a film about scientific discovery. Suits star Patrick J. Adams plays an astronomer obsessed with finding the next inhabitable planet, a drive that destroyed his marriage and personal life leaving him a reclusive cynic. When he hires the free-spirited Clara as his research assistant, his life is opened up more to the possibility of not just life on another planet but the one he currently inhabits. This movie caught me very off guard and by the time the emotional finale hit I was more than won over by the driving character nature of the story. Canadian writer and director Akash Sherman made a real winner here. (Not opening in Kamloops, Barrie or Oshawa)

Elliot The Littlest Reindeer – Of course with the holiday season now in full swing we get a rush of Christmas animated films ad this one is Canada’s entry. Usual documentarian Jennifer Westcott wrote and directed this film that pushes away any limits of the Santa Claus mythos to forge something new as a miniature horse competes in a sort of Olympiad to secure himself on Santa’s reindeer team. This is where I feel that the big Hollywood and the international studio made animated films have made it hard for the little guy to get traction as this movie feels second best in every way and is kind of a slog to get through. The kids may certainly enjoy it but the adults will be missing the opportunity to start scrolling through anything on their phones to avoid it. (Not opening in Hamilton, London, Kamloops or Oshawa)

Dead In A Week (Or Your Money Back) – If you know me, you know I enjoy a good British film, especially a dark comedy and this little unknown fit that niche in every way. The story follows two characters, one is a hitman played by Tom Wilkinson that is nearing an unwanted retirement but makes his living killing those who want to be killed and the other is his final client, a man who just doesn’t see the point in life and wants to be rid of it. The result is a pretty hilarious little dark comedy with some snappy writing and a movie-stealing performance from Christopher Eccleston. The reviews are less than fantastic but I really dug it. (Only opening in Toronto and Vancouver)

Prosecuting Evil – This documentary was fascinating, a one on one interview with Ben Ferencz, the last surviving member of the Nuremberg prosecuting team and the man who spearheaded the creation of the International Criminal court, a crusade that encompassed his entire career. With the hatred raising its ugly head more prominently in the world these days, a look at what we believed to be a win against pure evil after World War II starts to look more and more minute as we fast approach something possibly worse. (Only opening in Toronto and Vancouver)

Blu-Ray:

Searching – This movie is getting so much great attention as it takes the elements of telling a mystery story through the interface of a computer screen and isn’t trying to make an Unfriended type ghost story. John Cho plays a father who is looking to find his teenage daughter who has gone missing. Through the help of a detective played by Debra Messing, he begins to find that his daughter may be a complete stranger to him, involved in things that are more sinister than he could ever know. This movie is like one of those horrifying cautionary tales to parents and will stick in your brain for a long time afterwards.

The Little StrangerRoom director Lenny Abrahamson returns with this old school feeling ghostly horror film that will play to fans of period films or those who are looking for a bit of Downton Abbey with their haunted mansion films. Reteaming with his Frank star Domnhall Gleeson, Abrahamson crafts a film about a doctor who is sent to a mansion that has seen better days but is a place that has a sort of family history for him. Once there, he starts to experience things that were thought to be just in the heads of the estate’s inhabitants. The film has divided critics a bit but those in for something more cerebral will enjoy this one.

Blue Iguana – I really want to like this one as it’s a crime comedy with Oscar winner Sam Rockwell and the hilarious Ben Schwartz as two ex-cons employed to go to London to steal back a priceless diamond from some hapless thieves. The trailer looks fun but I’ve been duped by Rockwell toplining a movie like this before which reminds me to tell you not to watch Mr. Right. I do have to give this movie props for its tagline “Mullets. Bullets. And One Gem of a Heist.” That’s just a great selling point.

Sharp Objects – Seriously, does anyone do episodic series better than HBO. Here’s a shining example, as this Amy Adams limited series comes from the mind of Gone Girl’s Gillian Flynn and Big Little Lies director Jean-Marc Vallee. The eight episodes are about a reporter who returns to her hometown and the bad memories harboured there. Coincidentally, a brutal killer has also called the small town their home as well, the reason for her trepidatious return. This show checks all my Twin Peaks-like boxes and also features the amazing and Canadian Patricia Clarkson in a pivotal role as well as the breakout star of It, Sophia Lillis, playing the younger version of Amy Adams character.

Netflix:

1983 – I keep going on about Netflix’s wide scope of international series that they have been acquiring and again this week I have another one with this Polish made one. The show takes place in Poland 2003, twenty years after a terrorist bombing that altered it’s history and put the country in a police state with the Iron Curtain still standing. The trailer looks very solid for this one and I’m intrigued by the sort of Elseworlds conspiracy thriller concept of it.

F is for Family: Season 3 – Bill Burr returns with his animated series inspired by his own stand-up comedy act. The show takes place in the 70s and has Burr voicing the Archie Bunker of the family, Frank Murphy, a guy that checks the boxes in every way on that character. This season has Frank forming a new friendship with a fighter pilot voiced by Vince Vaughn. This one took a few episodes to catch on with me but I like it.

The World Is Yours – More international Netflix viewing for the week, this time coming from France, and it looks like a fun crime comedy about a small-time criminal with big league aspirations. Adding the French cinema heavyweights of Vincent Cassel and Isabelle Adjani to the mix has me adding this to my queue immediately and the reviews are really great for it too.

Time Share – We go to Mexico for this paranoid little thriller about two men who bring their families to a tropical resort that goes from luxurious to a nightmare as they begin to suspect that the charismatic American in charge of their timeshare may be trying to steal their family. This movie looks dark and stylish with a comedic edge, something I know will have a satisfying payoff.

Passengers – What could go wrong with the team up of the two biggest box-office names? Apparently, a lot as this Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt science fiction film was an absolute bomb in all the critic’s eyes but the question is was it really that bad? You get a chance to reaffirm your thoughts with it and be surprised at the fact that this is what Morten Tyldum wanted to follow The Imitation Game with.

On this week’s show, I get Lynda into the holiday spirit with the brand new exorcism horror film The Possession Of Hannah Grace. I also forgo the usual Netflix binge for a look at the new documentary Prosecuting Evil, give a bit of a tribute to Stephen Hillenburg, the man behind Spongebob Squarepants and talk about Margaret Atwood’s upcoming sequel novel to The Handmaid’s Tale.

https://omny.fm/shows/steele-drex/at-the-box-office-with-steve-stebbing-48/embed

Something keeps rearing it’s ugly head when it comes to Vancouver limited theatrical releases and, as a film fan, it’s really hard to keep cool about it. During my last few years doing film reviews in a more professional capacity, I’ve noticed that so many of the smaller indie film and foreign releases get pushed out of the way to allow for multiple screens in other theatres. This problem was exacerbated when the Fifth Avenue theatre renovated into being a VIP Cineplex, leaving almost all of the fringe cinema in the dust.

Did a wide audience get to see the beautiful and Oscar-nominated Turkish drama Mustang three years ago? No, it had its release pushed into oblivion before the Rio Theatre picked it up for a couple of nights. How about Land Of Mine, another Academy Award nominee that wasn’t even able to get a one night helping hand. These are just a couple of examples but the problem seems to be snowballing. As a critic, these films are pre-screened for us in some fashion, which makes the whole process frustrating when our coverage become moot.

This all might come off as pretentious bitching but everyone has a certain value of their time and energy, for a lot of people being their number one issue, and when you give your morning or evening to a film that has its relevance to you subscribing audience taken away it gets to a tedious point. On some films, this goes deeper, especially if it’s a film we feel passionately about and wish to give it any sort of word of mouth boost to get it out to the like-minded reader or listener. It makes it all that much more frustrating when a public relations rep has to message you three days before an intended release date to tell you there’s a future date for it that may or may not exist.

The trigger to my post is three films basically sitting in celluloid limbo, waiting to get the mass public’s eyes on it. First is the new documentary from the filmmakers behind Blackfish, rescheduled to next Friday with limited guarantee of that. Then there’s the Lizzie Borden film which was supposed to hit on Friday but has been pulled with no reschedule date. Thirdly, and this one bothers me the most, Skate Kitchen, a brilliant teen drama from The Wolfpack director Crystal Moselle was slated for a mid-August release was shuffled through three different other dates before it fell into radio silence, meaning this will never see the big screen as intended.

Is this the more public death of small cinema and exploring other countries films in a bigger format? Are the movies that aren’t as mainstream with the push of big studios going to be those films we discover later in a Walmart bin? Even worse, is this new system robbing creative minds that inspiration when they discover a film as I did? I know that the last one made me sound like an old man but it feels like the screen is losing its glow due to the money over quality dulling and I’m holding fast to my memories.