Steve Stebbing

Breaking down all things pop culture

New Releases:

Playmobil: The Movie – When Lego came together (get it?) to create a massive blockbuster film and multiple spin-offs it seemed to have shot a flare into the studio sky saying that all of the toy properties were now possibly lucrative for big-screen adventures. That said, I’m really unsure about this one as it takes a toy meant for a much younger audience and crafts a story that may go over the target market’s head. The plot that they’ve made is basically a James Bond-esque spy actioner that has a cocky secret agent, voiced by Daniel Radcliffe, who takes it upon himself to rescue two kids from the multiple dimensions of Playmobil’s world. Lots of supporting cast in here including Anya Taylor-Joy, Jim Gaffigan, Meghan Trainor and Adam Lambert but the trailer leaves me with little interest. (Not opening in Hamilton, Kamloops or Oshawa)

Varda By Agnes – A legendary filmmaker who passed away near the beginning of this year, Agnes Varda was a pioneer of French New Wave cinema and carved her own niche with deeply complex human stories told in the most avant-garde ways. Know largely for the incredible landmark films Cleo 7 To 9 and Vagabond, the last two movies in her life, Faces Places and this one, are so personal to a cellular level and also lovingly retrospective. In this film, Varda herself leads a masterclass of her own work, both in film and physical art using those films and the result is something that feels entirely soul-enriching. Varda, with her ninety years on this planet, knew human life like no other and really tried to impart that on us and this documentary is a testament to that. (Only opening in Toronto and Vancouver)

Antigone – A film that is getting some really stellar reviews so far, this is an ambitious story that adapts the classic Greek tragedy and all of it’s allegory into a modern tale that falls within the social realism of the world we live in. The film is from Canadian writer and director Sophie Deraspe and is our official submission to the Oscars for next year’s Academy Awards but hopefully the performance of lead actress Nahéma Ricci who, from what I read, is absolutely astounding in this breakout role. This movie will only get a very limited release but hopefully, it will expand as I’ve been looking forward to this one ever since Deraspe’s The Amina Profile from a few years back. (Only opening in Toronto and Vancouver)

Frankie – Writer and director Ira Sachs is known for making very human dramas about very real feeling relationships and while his latest work feels much more slight than his previous efforts, the realness is there and, to add a little more spice, Isabelle Huppert is in the lead to deliver another knockout performance full of nuance. The film is a day in the life sort of story about an actress and her family during a trip to the picturesque Sintra in Portugal but the matriarch, a famous actress, is harbouring a secret that will dramatically change the vacation. The film features a brilliant cast around Huppert, including Brendan Gleeson, Marisa Tomei and Greg Kinnear, but it’s The Girl With All The Gifts star Sennia Nanua who is the stand out along with the French legend. (Only opening in Toronto and Vancouver)

Blu-Ray:

Game Of Thrones: The Complete Series – Ever since HBO sent me the email saying that this release was coming before Christmas I have been salivating, just waiting for this box set to arrive and it is finally here. A set with the entire eight seasons of this fan lauded show which was, let’s face it, largely hated in its final season, everyone can now go through this show again in its entirety in the beautiful and clear quality of Blu-ray. This arrived to me in a box with a journal, a diorama of the Winterfell tree, an ugly Christmas sweater (my first I’ve owned as an adult) and a new stocking. Yes, this is a collector’s set made for the uber-fans like I am, although I haven’t read the books. To be honest, I kind of feel I don’t need to anymore and I doubt they will ever be finished at this point. Really, what’s the point?

Ready Or Not – Horror can be a dime a dozen bunch of releases that all look like one another, a random ghost story or slasher film or maybe even a reboot of a horror franchise that didn’t really need it. This is the appearance to none fans and mainstream film watchers. Then a movie like this comes along from two unproven writers and a couple of indie guys to bring something that feels fresh, funny and with an acerbic wit that makes it all come together. Samara Weaving plays a bride who’s wedding night takes a sinister turn when her eccentric new in-laws force her to take part in a terrifying game where they play hide and seek in their giant mansion but the only catch is that when they find her, they kill her. Weaving delivers a star-making performance that also features killer (no pun intended) outings from veterans like Henry Czerny and Andie MacDowell. The best way to go into this movie is with as little knowledge possible and enjoy the ride. Thank me later.

The Goldfinch – Based on a massive hit novel by Donna Tartt, this book was optioned by Warner Bros. in a huge bidding war and the development of the movie had potential coursing out of it, starting with Brooklyn director John Crowley tapped to direct and the legendary Roger Deakins as the cinematographer. Then there’s the stellar cast including Ansel Elgort, Nicole Kidman, Jeffrey Wright and Sarah Paulson to tell the story of a boy in New York who is taken in by a wealthy Upper East Side family after his mother is killed in a bombing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The film sounds interesting, as it moves through the main characters tumultuous childhood through to his teenage years and then his twenties as an antique salesman but the movie seems massively unfocused to a point where you wonder if it was rushed or had pieces omitted to cram all they wanted to into the two and a half-hour run time that feels already pretty egregious. I’m let down by how big of a bummer this film is.

Rogue Warfare – I feel incredibly duped because I popped this one in my Blu-ray player just based on the name Stephen Lang but the crushing reality of this direct to home release war movie becomes evident in the first twenty minutes, he is nothing more than a glorified cameo. The plot is simple, a group of the military elite who represent the best of the best from the U.S., Russia, UK, China and France join forces to fight an elite underground terrorist network led by a black-clad Muslim stereotype who represents the worst of western culture’s nightmares. The action is really the best thing about this movie because when it comes to anything dialogue-driven this film feels flimsy and paper-thin, the equivalent of a Steven Seagal production. I seriously suffered through this movie so you don’t have to.

Buttons: A Christmas Tale – I received this new film that has been “Dove approved” as recommended family Christmas viewing this holiday season and I was intrigued by this unheard-of movie. I looked at the cast which includes Jane Seymour, Dick Van Dyke and Angela Lansbury and thought it all looked promising until I saw Roma Downey’s name. Yes, Touched By An Angel Roma Downey. The Christian undertones aside, the movie will definitely appeal to the audience it seeks, about two orphan girls whose only wish is to find a home for Christmas so with the help of their guardian angels (Van Dyke and Lansbury) they head on a miraculous journey to make their dreams come true. Is there anything deeper to this movie other than an uplifting fluff story at Christmastime? No, but Roma needs to stop lumping herself in the angel category.

Funan – This heartbreaking film caught me totally off guard as when I receive these films from Shout Factory and G Kids I tend to lump them in a category of anime, one that I don’t understand fully. This is definitely not one of those movies. Coming from writer and director Dennis Do, this is the story of survival and struggle following a young mother during the Khmer Rouge revolution, to find her 4-year-old son who torn from her arms by the regime in the midst of a mass eviction from their home. The panic rises as separately they make their way to the free lands of Thailand for refuge. This movie s gorgeous to look at but it isn’t for the faint of heart as the violence is always present even if it isn’t shown on screen. Definitely not a film for the whole family.

Candy – This is a massively underrated film and a showcase of the immense talent that Heath Ledger was, a movie that came a year after his Academy Award nomination for Brokeback Mountain. Co-starring Abbie Cornish and Geoffrey Rush, this is the tragic story of a poet who falls in love with an art student that then gravitates to his bohemian lifestyle and his debilitating love of heroin. Addicted to one another just as they are on the drug, their relationship alternates between states of oblivion, self-destruction, and despair. A thoroughly Australian film directed by Neil Armfield and based on the novel by Luke Davies, this is a movie that astounded me in my movie store days and became one of my most recommended films of that year. I’m so happy that Shout Factory had a love for this movie enough to make this beautiful collector’s edition.

City On A Hill: Season 1 – Kevin Bacon is absolutely fascinating in this new Boston law enforcement series from the same guys who put the spotlight on Baltimore in Homicide: Life On The Street. Bacon plays Jackie Rohr, a sleazy and corrupt FBI agent who reminisces about the more abusive times in policing when you could knock around perps and witnesses. He latches on to the new assistant D.A. with an axe to grind, the two looking to make a difference in a city they both want to see excel. The show suffers here and there with some of the tough-guy bravado writing that harkens back to a different era of television but when this show hits its stride it is a totally effective and engaging show. I’m really enjoying it so far.

World Series 2019 – Honestly, I really don’t know what to say about this one other than it is the chronicling of the Washington Nationals’ World Series win this year, gathering all the footage the MLB had to give. I’m just wondering if the booing of President Donald Trump is included with this because that would make this Blu-ray a must won in my opinion. I watched the video many times already. It’s also a good way to catch up with the playoffs I missed this year due to the film festival so thanks Shout Factory!

Steve’s Blu-Ray Geek-Out:

Apprentice To Murder – This is a really cool genre movie from the late eighties that Arrow Video has brought out a new edition for, crammed with special features. The film stars the legendary Donald Sutherland as a doomsaying preacher who sees the devil’s work in everything around him. To satisfy his delusions, he trains his young protege played by Chad Lowe to aide him in committing a series of murders in the name of Jesus and the craziest thing is this is all based on a true story. The movie was directed by Ralph L. Thomas, who’s name is kind of seared into my head as a Canadian due to the fact that he directed The Terry Fox Story which was shown to us in elementary school. It should also be noted that Mia Sara co-stars in this, a dream girl of the decade and a definite crush of mine.

Young Sheldon: Season 1 – With the main series of The Big Bang Theory coming to a close with the twelve season this past season we still have a piece of the Chuck Lorre created series with this spin-off about the childhood years of Sheldon Cooper, a show that Jim Parsons narrates naturally. This show could have been a real bust but a weird thing happened after I watched a few episodes and that was a simple notion that I was enjoying it and Annie Potts plays his “MeeMaw”! Sold! The second season proves that this show is beyond a flash in the pan sophomore hit as it takes that groundwork laid out by the original series and puts it in an almost Wonder Years like filter. That and it doesn’t have a laugh track, an instant killer with me.

Snow Falling On Cedars – Now that Ethan Hawke has entered a new renaissance in his career, starring in the astounding Paul Schrader film First Reformed and directing the country biopic Blaze, it’s a great time to go back to some underappreciated classics like the romance mystery. From Scott Hicks, the director of Shine, this film has Hawke as a small-town reporter who takes an interest in the case of a Japanese-American fisherman who is accused of killing his neighbor at sea. This movie is beautifully shot by one of the best cinematographers there is Robert Richardson who shot The Hateful Eight and Once Upon A Time In Hollywood among others and has a really great cast including Max Von Sydow and Richard Jenkins. This Shout Factory Collector’s Edition is highly recommended if you’ve never seen it.

Television:

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: Season 3 (Amazon Prime) – This hit series has been in the spotlight ever since it launched on Amazon Prime, earning critical acclaim and award nominations for actresses Rachel Brosnahan and Alex Borstein as well as show creators Amy Sherman-Palladino and her husband Daniel Palladino. For those who don’t know what it’s all about, Brosnahan plays the title character, Midge Maisel, a 1950s housewife who tires of her mundane life and strives to be a stand-up comedian, something that women definitely weren’t welcomed in doing. The show is great showcasing of Palladino’s infinite ability to make snappy dialogue and great characters and is really putting the lead star on the map because she is worth watching it for alone.

Reprisal: Season 1 (Hulu) – This show looks like a stylish update of the revenge horror flick I Spit On Your Grave although I doubt it will go to the extremes that movie does. The show stars Rectify actress Abigail Spencer as a femme fatale who organizes a diabolical plan to ensnare the gang of men who assaulted her and left her for dead. Co-starring 300’s Rodrigo Santoro, Aladdin’s Mena Masoud and Ant-Man’s David Dastmalchian, the series was created by Jonathan van Tulleken who directed many episodes of the killer British series Misfits so I am more than willing to give it a chance because I adore that show.

Marriage Story (Netflix) – One of my favorite filmmakers ever, writer and director Noah Baumbach is here to break your heart this time rather than make you laugh awkwardly. Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver star in this film that puts you inside of a marriage that is slowly breaking and heading towards divorce and all of the tragic pitfalls in between. Both Johansson and Driver are being lauded for their performances, lending more belief to the very real notion that Netflix may have a real hit awards season on its hands with this and The Irishman, Steven Spielberg must be so upset right now.

Truth Be Told: Season 1 (Apple+) – Apple+ continues its slow rollout which seems to have lost the new streaming service a lot of clout but this show may continue the upswing that started with last week’s Servant. This show stars Octavia Spencer as a true-crime podcaster who attempts to solve the mystery surrounding a family patriarch’s death. Featuring a great cast around her, including Aaron Paul, Lizzy Caplan and Mekhi Phifer, this show might just be the thing we want to satiate out mystery cravings after taking in Knives Out this past weekend. The fact that this comes from Justified and The Good Wife writer Nichelle D. Tramble is a total added bonus.

V Wars: Season 1 (Netflix) – It looks like The Vampire Diaries star Ian Somerhalder has traded one bloodsucker television series for another as he leads this new series based on a comic book series. He plays Dr. Luther Swann, a scientist who is exposed to a new world of horror when a virus is released in ice melting due to climate change so it’s going to lose an entire audience of climate change deniers just based on the premise alone. I really like the comic book so I’m hoping that the final Netflix result. isn’t a cheesy slog that will remind me of terribly Syfy originals. My fingers are crossed and the fact that Somerhalder has doubled down as producer and even a director for an episode gives me a bit of hope.

New Releases:

Knives Out (Opened Wednesday) – This is one of my most anticipated movies of the year as it comes from a director that makes the most original films when he’s making his own films. Yes, I’m talking about Rian Johnson who’s last outing, The Last Jedi, has fanboys in a decisive tizzy, some people condemning him as the worst filmmaker ever and others who know his merits and appreciate the film for what it is. To me, his other three films Brick, The Brothers Bloom and Looper are damn near perfect films and this new mystery, that looks like it takes inspiration from classics like Murder By Death, is most likely another home run from one of my favorite directors currently. The cast isn’t too shabby either, featuring Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Toni Collette and way more, this could be a Steve approved best of 2019.

Queen & Slim (Opened Wednesday) – This is a film that has seemed to come out of nowhere and gathering some great buzz along the way. Get Out star Daniel Kaluuya and newcomer Jodie Turner-Smith lead this drama about a black man and woman who find themselves on the run together after a deadly incident when they are pulled over by the police. The director of Beyonce’s Lemonade video Melina Matsoukas makes her feature debut with this movie and it’s shot by Tat Radcliffe who did Yann Demange’s ’71 as well as Pride the same year. I’d say there’s a good possibility this ends up on a few top ten lists at the end of the year. (Not opening in Kamloops or Oshawa)

Dark Waters – Mark Ruffalo has a knack for picking the hard-hitting movies about important stories and acts of horrendous injustices, especially being somewhat of an activist himself, and this film plays right into the same things that he stands up against. The masterful director of Carol and Far From Heaven Todd Haynes helms this story of a corporate defense attorney who takes on an environmental lawsuit against a chemical company that in turn exposes a lengthy history of pollution. An interesting connection with Ruffalo’s involvement is that along with being another kick at an Oscar this is the second film he has been in that relates to the DuPont family after Foxcatcher which got him nominated for Best Supporting Actor. (Only opening in Toronto and Vancouver)

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. (Only opening in Toronto and Vancouver)

Honey Boy – Mark my words, Shia Lebeouf is going to go on such a comeback tear that his talent will be undeniable to all of those who considered his career over. He started this positive momentum with the beautifully crafted outsider story The Peanut Butter Falcon and now continues with this film he wrote which is the real tale of the damaged relationship between him and his father. An incredible young actor himself, Lucas Hedges takes on the older role in Lebeouf’s life story, chronicling his stormy childhood and early adult years as he struggles to reconcile with his father and deal with his mental health. My hope is that this movie is a source of catharsis and he keeps creating amazing art because I love everything I’ve seen so far. (Only opening in Toronto and Vancouver)

Stand! – As a film critic I really try hard to not continue or contribute to the stigma and stereotypes of movies in any way and the ones I most vehemently back in this regard is Canadian movies because, let’s face it, we hate on our own homegrown productions unless you are Kim’s Convenience or Schitt’s Creek. That said, this movie damn near broke me and now with how good it was. The movie is basically a Romeo and Juliet like story set 100 years ago against a backdrop of civil upheaval and a violent general strike that changed Canada’s history following a Ukrainian immigrant who falls for his neighbor, a Jewish suffragette. The film is a collection of bad direction, editing, script and music that it’s hard to take the film in for its entire duration and I haven’t even gotten to the fact that it’s a musical too and a bad one at that. Honestly, this movie lost me hard and fast within the first twenty minutes and never won me back. (Not opening in Kamloops or Oshawa)

Blu-Ray:

Angel Has Fallen – Sometimes I am completely baffled to what gets the green light in Hollywood and what gets sequels and for how much I enjoyed Olympus Has Fallen, which was a bit above middling, London Has Fallen was complete garbage so why do we have this movie? The film has Gerard Butler returning again as the head of the Secret Service, this time he is framed for the attempted assassination of the new president, the former vice played by Morgan Freeman. Not much to say about this one other than Butler is dispatching bad guys left and right which spitting out one-liners and it has Danny Huston playing a smirking villain chewing the scenery while looking creepy. It’s your basic eighties and nineties action film fodder without a lick of brains behind it or anything worth remembering, just two hours of your life you will never get back.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette? – I feel like it’s been a while since we’ve seen a Richard Linklater film and I have been going through with drawls without his cinema sensibilities on the big screen. Okay, maybe that’s not entirely true but it has been two years since Last Flag Flying and the simple fact that this pairs him up with Academy Award winner Cate Blanchett had me salivating for this movie as soon as it was announced. The film has her as a mom who becomes compelled to reconnect with her creative passions after years of sacrificing herself for her family. This takes her on an epic adventure that jump-starts her life and leads to her triumphant rediscovery with her family chasing along behind her. Co-starring Kristen Wiig, Judy Greer and the great new star Troian Bellisario, this movie showcases what Linklater does best, deeply human stories in a contemporary setting.

Official Secrets – Although she hasn’t appeared in any massive tent pole movies since the last Pirates Of The Caribbean movie in 2017, ignoring the horrendous mess of The Nutcracker And The Four Realms, Kiera Knightley has been making some interesting films in a lower key market and now she teams with Eye In The Sky director Gavin Hood for this new thriller. She plays a British whistleblower who leaked information to the press about an illegal NSA spy operation designed to push the UN Security Council into sanctioning the 2003 invasion of Iraq in this true story that co-stars Ralph Fiennes and Matt Smith. The film is concise and clinical, just like Hood’s last film dealing with government bureaucracy and I think it largely works because of this. We don’t need to delve into the deep melodrama of anything because what is important is on the surface, cutting corners for the profit of war, a truly chilling reality we live in.

Don’t Let Go – For a long while it seemed that David Oyelowo was destined for the A-list with his lead performances in Selma and Queen Of Katwe but now it seems you have to dig to find him in movies. This is one that definitely flew under the radar, about a man dealing with the death of his family when he receives a phone call from his dead niece. Unsure if he’s being deceived or going insane, he looks for affirmation that his family may be miraculously alive. The film is written and directed by Jacob Estes who the brilliant teen drama Mean Creek in 2004 and it is well told with a great cast around Oyelowo including Alfred Molina and Atlanta’s Bryan Tyree Henry but it kind feels like it runs out of steam in the third act.

Dracula – More Hammer era classic horror from Shout Factory this week as character actor Frank Langella dons the title role in a movie from Saturday Night Fever director John Badham and written by W.D. Richter who would go on the write Big Trouble In Little China so you know this one fits me like a glove. The story, set in 1913, has Dracula leaving his ancestral home for England to procure himself a bride, so standard stuff for the biggest and baddest vampire of them all. To add more great things to this list, Sir Laurence Olivier plays his nemesis Van Helsing and the film features Donald Pleasance around the first time he played Dr. Loomis for John Carpenter in Halloween. This is some classic movie monster filmmaking restored to its original glory.

Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Gauntlet – As soon as I received this from Shout Factory I was immediately really happy as I’ve never owned a Mystery Science Theater box set before and this new installment, listed as season 12, was made for binge-watching. For those uninitiated, this series, housed on Netflix, is about Jonah and his two robot friends who are forced to ingest terrible movie after movie and now the evil powers that be are out for blood as they put their victims through six of their worst including the McDonald’s sponsored rip off of E.T., Mac & Me and the blatant Pacific Rim copy, Atlantic Rim. This box set is hours of hilarity, my stomach still hurts from it.

Steve’s Blu-Ray Geekout:

Man Of A Thousand Faces – Arrow Video digs back into the vault of classics for this showcasing of James Cagney’s immense talent in a film that celebrates the beginnings of Hollywood with the biopic of the legendary Lon Chaney. Cagney stars as this incredible pioneer of film who started his career in the roar of vaudeville but soon found himself hitting a sort of stardom as a horror actor in the burgeoning silent film era. Cagney, who had previously acted alongside Lon Chaney’s son Lon Chaney Jr in A Lion Is In The Streets, channels his performance in such a great way despite looking absolutely nothing like him and this restored film looks so gorgeous in its Blu-ray pressing. It was very cool to discover this movie.

V: The Original Miniseries – This show both intrigued me and terrified me as a child and I even reenacted the plot points of the pilot episode in a grade school show and tell. Needless to say, the moment left me embarrassed and mortified to this day making this show a bit of a trigger but hopefully with the restored beauty of the picture this television event series can have new life and new context going forward. For those who don’t know, this series is about humans making first contact with aliens who are reaching out for help and, as the relationship deepens, certain outsiders start to notice that the helplessness is just a diversion for a global takeover. Don’t ask me to recreate the whole plot, it may give me a nervous breakdown.

Ambition – Shout Factory’s genre offshoot Scream Factory released this new indie thriller that is one of those little brain twister movies. The story follows a young aspiring musician preparing for an audition show that she feels confident about when her life starts to spin out of control. She is betrayed by her boyfriend, her friends are less inclined to give her sympathy and she begins to fall into a paranoid state. A Nightmare On Elm Street producer and New Line executive Robert Shaye steps behind the camera for a film that doesn’t feel anywhere near the calibre of the suspense great but is still a compelling watch.

Ophelia – A tried and tested story, we’ve all seen the story of Hamlet told many times, whether traditionally by Kenneth Brannagh, in a Wall Street setting like that Ethan Hawke and Kyle MacLachlan version or in allegory like the entire series of Sons Of Anarchy. It’s a familiar story but this film switches it up by changing the point of view to the tragic character of Ophelia, played in this film by Star Wars’ main heroine at the moment, Daisy Ridley. Filling out the rest of the cast as the king and queen respectively ins Clive Owen and Naomi Watts and I have to say I really enjoyed this movie, even if it feels flawed in places.

Television:

The Kacey Musgraves Christmas Show (Amazon Prime) – I have to preface this part by explaining that I am not a fan at all of modern country music but that being said I very much enjoy Kacey Musgraves, mostly because I don’t find her new album to be of that genre. One thing I didn’t know about her is that she is a huge Christmas lover and had releases an album of holiday tunes A Very Kacey Christmas from 2016 that featured Leon Bridges as well as a song with Willie Nelson called “A Willie Nice Christmas”. That said, I’m excited in the yuletide sense to see what she’ll bring to an Amazon Prime special with guests Dan Levy, James Corden, Fred Armisen and Zooey Deschanel just to name a few of my favorites on the list.

The Report (Amazon Prime) – This big cast movie seems like it is one of those Oscar hopeful movies so it’s pretty great to see that we get to check it out right away on one of my new favorite streaming platforms. Adam Driver, Annette Bening and Jon Hamm star in this true story about a Senate staffer named Daniel Jones who is tapped to lead an investigation into the CIA’s post 9/11 Detention and Interrogation Program and uncovers some heinous crimes as the probe deepens. What intrigues me about this film other than its cast is that it is the feature debut of screenwriter Scott Z. Burns, who penned many films for Steven Soderbergh like Contagion, the recent Laundromat and one of my favorites, The Informant with Matt Damon. This week is an embarrassment of riches when it comes to streamable cinema.

The Irishman (Netflix) – Legendary director Martin Scorsese plays with the progression of the cinema medium with this movie directly made for Netflix, so I think we can relax a bit on his sort of bad take on the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Even better, Scorsese has rounded up some of his greatest collaborators because this film stars Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci who acts in his first movie since 2010’s The Love Ranch. The movie follows DeNiro’s character of Frank Sheeran, a mob hitman recalling his involvement with the slaying of Jimmy Hoffa, a long-unsolved murder so all of this can be listed under supposed. The film has been getting rave reviews and may earn some top nominations at next year’s Oscars which will definitely put Netflix in the most comfortable driver’s seat they’ve ever been in.

Servant: Season 1 (Apple+) – So far the rollout of this new streaming service has been a little lackluster as we’ve only gotten three shows as of launch time at the beginning of the month and the Jennifer Aniston led one is a bit of a disappointment. This show I am excited for though as it comes from the mind of M. Night Shyamalan who, with me, has been on a little bit of a roll even if Glass wasn’t everything I wanted it to be. Definitely containing some sort of massive twist in there, this series follows a young and troubled couple who replace their newborn baby with a lifelike doll after their child dies from sudden infant death syndrome. This show looks creepy as hell and it has a personal favorite actress in the lead, Lauren Ambrose who played Claire Fisher in the HBO series Six Feet Under. Not saying this is worth the price of Apple+ but I’m intrigued.

Merry Happy Whatever: Season 1 (Netflix) – Get in the Christmas spirit before December 1st with this new comedy series starring Dennis Quaid, Bridgit Meddler, the brilliant closer to all of the seasons of Inside Amy Schumer, and the scene-stealer from Chris Delia’s sitcom Undateable, stand up comic Brett Morin. The holiday show is about an overbearing dad who must balance the demands of his complicated family with the stress of the Christmas season when his youngest daughter comes home for the holidays with a new boyfriend. The show is another kick at the can for creator Tucker Cawley, who was responsible for the awful Kelsey Grammer series Hank, but with the untethered freedom of Netflix, this might be a good show. Hopefully, it doesn’t have a laugh track.

New Releases:

Frozen II – The long-awaited sequel to the animated blockbuster from 2013 is finally here and the major question at the top is are parents going to have a new song driving them crazy just as “Let It Go” did? This follow up has Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, Olaf and Sven leaving Arendelle to travel to an ancient, autumn-bound forest in an enchanted land in order to find the origin of Elsa’s powers, the key to saving their kingdom. The great news for parents is the movie is getting great reviews so far, not quite the powerhouse that the first one was, but a worthy second story which I’m happy about because I really don’t think there was the intention to make a sequel after the first one in 2013. I think this is another easy cash cow for Disney.

A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood – Tom Hanks most likely secures himself an easy Academy Award nomination by playing the most wholesome man to speak kids from the television set ever, Fred Rogers. This film follows the long friendship between Rogers and journalist Tom Junod, played by The Americans’ Matthew Rhys, a jaded magazine writer who was assigned to do a character piece on the PBS host. As his friendship with Rogers broadens, he overcomes his skepticism and starts to learn about empathy, kindness, and decency from America’s most impassioned children’s entertainer ever. I think this movie is an easy slam dunk for great films and I love that it is directed by Marielle Heller who made the great movies The Diary Of A Teenage Girl and Can You Ever Forgive Me? (Not opening in Hamilton)

21 Bridges – Black Panther himself, Chadwick Boseman reteams with the mins behind the last two epic Avengers films, The Russo Brothers, who act in the producer capacity for this new police action thriller. Boseman plays an NYPD detective, the son of a slain police officer, who now dedicates his life to tracking down cop killers when two killers start a police war that starts to take over the entire city. Co-starring Taylor Kitsch and If Beale Street Could Talk’s Stephan James, this looks a bit cookie-cutter to me but the movie could surprises it comes from HBO stalwart director Brian Kirk. I like the trailer for this so I’m hoping for the best.

Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project – This is a fascinating documentary about a driven obsession with information through the visual media of televised news. Marion Stokes was an activist being groomed to become a communist leader in America who decided that her crusade would be to expose the truth of unfiltered media in what could be assembled into a comprehensive library of documented history. With everything that is currently going on in America and the media, this movie is an engrossing look at the path that led us to this point with Stokes herself making some very bold predictions of the future back in the 1970s that are chillingly coming to fruition today. A great movie for documentary fans. (Only opening in Toronto and Vancouver)

Blu-Ray:

Blinded By The Light – It’s about time that one of the most influential men to ever grace the rock scene, one of the hardest working blue-collar musicians and an icon that we address as “The Boss” got a film that reflected his incredible appeal in cinematic form. This film takes it right to the plight of a Pakistani British teenager named Javed who is learning to live life, understand his family and find his own voice through the music of Bruce Springsteen in 1987 during the uptight days of Thatcher’s Britain. Right away the blue-collar American nature of The Boss’s music with the sensibilities of a Hindu British family is a very clashing dynamic, especially with his money-hungry father, but the messages also plays to Javed’s daily brush with racism as white supremacy factors prominently in the story. It also should be noted that this film comes from the writer and director of Bend It Like Beckham so this isn’t her first kick at this sort of story but her approach to the story left me a little cold as whatever works in this film as an emotional beat is squandered by a scene that drains the realism from it swiftly. I really find myself on the fence with this one.

Dora And The Lost City Of Gold – It feels like a long time coming for this educational kids franchise to make the leap to a big feature film as I’m unsure what the popularity of this Nickelodeon show is at these days. Sicario: Day Of The Soldado star Isabela Moner stars in as the title character who is in a transitional time in her life as she is being sent out of the jungle and into the public school system to try and normalize her a bit. This is until her parents are captured by greedy treasure hunters and Dora nad her new friends must save them while searching for, you guessed it, a lost city of gold. Moner is a custom fit for this role and brings the sunny exuberance that will entrance kids but it feels like everything else in this film detracts from how fun she is, serving to frustrate and annoy you, especially Eugenio Derbez who is the cancer of this movie, eating up every scene he is a part of. I can get over the kid’s movie corniness but his scenes are egregious.

Cold War – Nominated for a Golden Globe and nominated for three Academy Awards, this movie is was the only real competition for Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma. Acclaimed director Pawel Pawlikowski crafts a love story between two people from totally different backgrounds with completely opposite viewpoints of the world, taking place in Poland, Berlin, Paris and Yugoslavia during the Cold War. This one is a film that will tug at the heartstrings as, from the outside, this relationship looks like a doomed one due to the world these two inhabit. This was one of the best films to be released last year and I believe it gets it’s due now with this expanded Criterion Collection release.

The Divine Fury – A new horror-action making it’s way out of South Korea, all of the elements of this film play itself right into favor with me as I love their foreign cinema and, well, I’m a total genre guy at heart. The movie centres around a mixed martial arts fighter who inherits a gift to destroy demons from a father who was taken from him as a child. Teaming with an experienced exorcist, the two begin destroying the evil entities, all leading to a battle with the source of it. In the hands of a more capable filmmaker, this movie would have been a home run but everything in the production of it clashes with the next. The music is lame, the editing feels haphazard and confusing at times and the fight scenes are boring. The final nail in the coffin of this movie is the bloated run of over two hours and the film really has nothing new to say.

American Dreamer – There’s something very compelling about comedians taking on dark roles and this is Jim Gaffigan’s turn to shine, following up his role in the dark religious dram Them That Follow with this tension-filled thriller with not a single good person in sight. Gaffigan plays a HAIL driver (think Uber or Lyft) who works his off-hours by driving around a low level but dangerous drug dealer. Behind in his child support payments and desperate to see his son, he decides to kidnap the dealer’s kid for a ransom and, not thinking his plan through, everything starts to spiral out of control quickly. Gaffigan is incredible in this film that will give you a stomach ache from the taught moments between him and everyone around him, as the moment of exposure is constantly on the horizon. Just a warning, this movie has some triggerable moments in it.

The Fan – No, this isn’t the Robert DeNiro and Wesley Snipes baseball thriller from the mid-90s, this Shout Factory collector’s edition is of the 1981 horror-thriller about Micahel Biehn as an obsessed fan of an actress played by Lauren Bacall who starts to come after her family and friends. This movie was controversial at the time with many stalking of celebrities cases going on and, of course, the murders of John Lennon, Dorothy Stratten and Sharon Tate. To be honest, this is just your average stalker thriller with a bit of horror spice to it but Biehn is the real reason to watch this. Solid performance.

Rock ‘N’ Roll High School – One of the things I miss most about films from the 70s and 80s is the rebellious break anthemic cinema that was made and this 1979 classic fits the mould perfectly. Hell, The Ramones are in it, how could it not be some rebel shit? Shout Factory has reinvigorated this fun classic in a brand new steelbook edition with a restored picture so you can see the lovely P.J. Soles as the movie gods had intended you too. I don’t know if it’s nostalgia or what but I just love this movie so much.

Chuck Berry: Hail! Hail! Rock ‘N’ Roll – This was a really nifty little gift to receive this week and it catches me a bit unaware as it is a film from Blood In, Blood Out and The Devil’s Advocate director Taylor Hackford that I did not know existed and it is a special and one of a kind concert experience. This 1987 documentary blends a biography on the legendary Chuck Berry with the two-day celebration of his 60th birthday at the Fox Theatre in St. Louis featuring special guests like Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, Robert Cray, Bo Diddley, the Everly Brothers and Etta James. If you like some old-time rock ‘n’ roll, kind of like when Scorsese chronicled The Band’s final show in The Last Waltz, then this is something you would probably like to have. Hackford does a dutiful job with this film.

Abbott & Costello: The Complete Universal Pictures Collection – Every comedy duo to ever perform in the last eighty years owes a debt of gratitude to possibly the most iconic duo ever, Bud Abbott and Lou Costello and Shout Factory obviously know this as they have released a box set of absolute gold. Spread across fifteen Blu-ray discs, this complete collection has twenty eight of their brilliant career in a totally restored picture made from a 4K scan of the original film elements and this includes all of the Hollywood monster films that are the most memorable ones to me like Abbot & Costello Meet Frankenstein, the Wolfman and The Invisible Man, all totally iconic comedy films. Hell, they were the first to perfect the crossover movie.

Catch 22 – Writers David Michod and Luke Davies, known for Animal Kingdom and Lion respectively, have done what is seemingly impossible and adapted this Joseph Heller book which is almost schizophrenic in its focus but with the help of George Clooney and his producer best friend Grant Heslov, who also co-star in this, they knocked this miniseries out of the park. James White’s Christopher Abbott stars in the lead as Captain John Yossarian, an airman bombardier who is over halfway into his flight commitments but is losing his nerve faster and faster and is desperate for a way out. This six-episode miniseries is so well cast and carefully balances its absurd feeling comedy with the realism and consequences of war. This is a great show.

Steve’s Blu-Ray Geek Out:

My Favorite Year – A new part of the Warner Archive on Blu-ray that landed on my doorstep recently, this movie is a sort of forgotten show biz comedy from 1982 starring eight-time Academy Award nominee, Peter O’Toole, who earned on of those for this one. It was also the directorial debut of actor Richard Benjamin, who would go on to find his niche in comedy filmmaking with The Money Pit, My Stepmother Is An Alien and Mermaids in story that follows O’Toole as a former star of the old matinee films, much like Errol Flynn was. Benjy Stone, played by Perfect Strangers star Mark Linn Baker, is a junior comedy writer who sees the opportunity to use the washed-up star to get one more moment of greatness out of him in a live television variety show. For fans of classic cinema, Peter O’Toole is just on fire in this movie, such a great actor.

An American Werewolf In London – One of the greatest horror of all times with some of the best dark comedy beats that hold up to this day, I have a deep love for this John Landis classic. The title really gives you all the exposition almost immediately, a couple of American college students, played by David Naughton and Griffin Dunne, go on a trip to London where they are attacked by a werewolf, leading to one of our guys turning into one in the most iconic transformation film ever put on screen. Seriously, that scene is a work of art. The new Arrow Video special edition is gorgeous, with a brand new transfer of the film, a commentary track with Naughton and Dunne, many brand new featurettes and an interview with John Landis. This is a killer edition but there is only a limited amount of copies.

Nekromantix: 3 Decades Of Darkle – Receiving this new Blu-ray, DVD and CD combo from MVD Visual led to one thing immediately and that was my discovery of who Nekromantix even was in the first place and when I did I kicked myself for not picking their music up sooner. A Danish and American outfit that formed in 1989, the genre of the monster and horror-themed band in the intriguing one of psychobilly. This genre is certainly a way of life, kind of knit in with nihilistic punk rock but Nekromantix seems to kick it up into a whole new gear. This new special edition gives you a whole chronicling of who this band is, their nine album career and a full live performance that is as intimate as it gets. This was definitely a psychobilly crash course education.

Road Games – More Ozploitation hit my collection this week with this recently released collector’s edition from Shout Factory, a big movie at the time because it was one of the first Aussie films to feature two big Hollywood stars in
Jamie Lee Curtis and Stacy Keach. I really dig this movie, about a truck driver and a beautiful hitchhiker who play a cat-and-mouse game with a vicious serial killer on a desolate Australian highway and to me this one still holds up. A great performance from Keach and a young Jamie Lee fresh off the Halloween sequel. This is a cool ass special edition.

Television:

Brittany Runs A Marathon (Amazon Prime) – Sometimes just looking at the lead actress of a movie will totally misrepresent what you think you are going to get with it. Starring comedic actress Jillian Bell, the scene-stealer from 22 Jump Street, Comedy Central’s Workaholics and Office Christmas Party, the immediate thinking is that this will be a romp of a movie, not the inspirational piece that it really is. This film has Bell as the title character, a woman living in New York who takes control of her life by taking control of her weight and her motivation, a beautiful character study that will resonate with many viewers and may push you in your own direction of self-realization. Jillian Bell is incredible in this movie, showing a range that totally surprised me. I really hope this movie catches on with audiences because it is a really special and also true story.

Mortel: Season 1 (Netflix) – It’s been a little while since I’ve showcased any international television and this one plays into the genre game a bit, being a sci-fi show with a dramatic edge. The show is about a group of French teenagers are bound together by a supernatural force and really beyond that, I don’t know too much but I love French cinema and I haven’t been let down by their television programming yet either. I think it’s interesting that this comes from the creator of the long-running teen show Skam France which is kind of like their version of Skins.

Mad About You: Season 1 (Spectrum) – With all of these television revivals like Will And Grace, The Connors and Murphy Brown, this was the show I was actually really interested in because, hot damn, did I ever love the original series. Reprising their roles again, Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt step back into the lives of Paul and Jamie Buchman, again navigating their lives together and all the pitfalls of marriage s well as parenting their now pretty adult daughter Mabel, played by Landline’s Abby Quinn. I have really high hopes for this show so hopefully, it all comes together for the six-episode run.

Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator (Netflix) – It’s documentary time and with this one we delve deep into a massive fitness craze that has risen in the last decade but most notably it gives exposure to the founder of hot yoga, Bikram Choudhury with his rise and fall. Tracing the line from his rise in the 1970s to his disgrace in accusations of rape and sexual harassment in more recent years, this is a galvanizing look into a horrible monster of a human that created something that is used for spiritual enlightenment, which is just a messed up story of abuse. It was also directed by Eva Orner, who has produced fantastic documentaries, most notably Taxi To The Dark Side, an Academy Award-winning movie.

The Crown: Season 3 (Netflix) – The next evolution of this story of the Royal Family is here as Oscar-winner Olivia Colman takes the reins of the role of Queen Elizabeth II from Claire Foy, who did an incredible job, and I’m so excited for it. The new season is one of more change than just the faces as a new Prime Minister moves into 10 Downing Street as the story moves through the sixties and seventies. Cold War paranoia, the battle to conquer space exploration and the moon and more political adversaries vying for their moment in the sun, the Royals face tumultuous times and a massive tragedy too, a story I’m surprised creator Peter Morgan was going to tackle. This could be the best season yet.

New Releases:

Ford v Ferrari – This new biopic should definitely be at the top of your list this weekend as it might be rewarding Christian Bale another Academy Award nomination as well as director James Mangold and the film itself because, let’s face it, the voters eat films like this up and secondly it looks great. Matt Damon plays American car designer Carroll Shelby with Bale starring as driver Ken Miles, the two employed in an uphill battle of corporate interference, the laws of physics and their own personal demons to build a revolutionary race car for Ford, the goal is to challenge and beat Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1966. This movie looks crammed with charisma, a smart and snappy script and definitely looks to be a total crowd-pleaser. I can’t wait.

Charlie’s Angels – On the outside, this movie feels like a bit of an impending disaster because we’ve had two feature films already made from this 80s television property and, if you’ve given them a rewatch recently, they’re kind of glossy and dumb, they only surviving thing that has any marginal coolness being the Destiny’s Child song. This new film has promise when you look deeper as Elizabeth Banks is on board to direct as well as play Bosely, a bit of a fan favorite from directing the last couple of Pitch Perfect movies. The winning piece of this for me is that Kristen Stewart being one of the angels, as I am a huge fan of her work, post Twilight of course. This might be hit or miss.

The Good Liar – Veteran acting is the big selling point of this movie as it features Sir Ian McKellan and Dame Helen Mirren in the lead roles. McKellan plays a con artist named Roy Courtnay who believes he’s found his career jackpot when he meets a well off widow Betty McLeish (Mirren) online. As Betty opens up her life to this possible new suitor, Roy begins to have a sneaking suspicion that he may be on the receiving end of a con job himself. The film is directed by Bill Condon who has teamed many times with McKellen on films like Mr. Holmes and Gods And Monsters, which I enjoyed both of, so I think this might be pretty solid as well. (Not opening in Hamilton or Kamloops)

The Warrior Queen of Jhansi – The underlying story of this film is a brutal tale of genocide and murder at the hands of the British empire, a black mark on their history but an event that is worthy of being told to educate those, like me, who didn’t know this act of cowardice. At its heart, this is a story of women empowerment based around Lakshmibai, the historic Queen of Jhansi who led her army, with a lot of women warriors, against the British East India Company in the infamous mutiny of 1857. The historical facts of this film would have won me over if the British side of the narrative wasn’t so over the top and hammed up because Rupert Everett and Nathanial Parker seem to do almost everything with such grandeur that it feels like satire or a mid-90s BBC melodrama. Were they always this bad and I’m just seeing it now? Beyond that, the music is terrible and the editing feels haphazard. (Only opening in Toronto, Winnipeg, Edmonton and Vancouver)

The Irishman – Legendary director Martin Scorsese plays with the progression of the cinema medium with this movie directly made for Netflix, so I think we can relax a bit on his sort of bad take on the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Even better, Scorsese has rounded up some of his greatest collaborators because this film stars Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci who acts in his first movie since 2010’s The Love Ranch. The movie follows DeNiro’s character of Frank Sheeran, a mob hitman recalling his involvement with the slaying of Jimmy Hoffa, a long-unsolved murder so all of this can be listed under supposed. The film has been getting rave reviews and may earn some top nominations at next year’s Oscars which will definitely put Netflix in the most comfortable driver’s seat they’ve ever been in. (Only opening in Toronto and Vancouver)

Blu-Ray:

Good Boys – The basic premise here is preteen Superbad, rude, crude and lewd. This might make you a little uncomfortable or you will have the bandwidth to say that, hey, this is a movie and just take it in as such. Vancouverite Jacob Tremblay joins his buddies Keith L. Williams from The Last Man On Earth and Boardwalk Empire’s Brady Noon in this film about three sixth grade boys who ditch school and embark on an epic journey while carrying accidentally stolen drugs. Along the way, they are hunted by teenage girls all while trying to make their way home in time for a long-awaited party where they may kiss a girl for the first time. The reviews for this movie were really positive and the movie may find itself in the same conversation as the movie I compared it to but in calibre and not just subject matter.

The Angry Birds Movie 2 – From mobile game to big-screen adaptation, this Rovio product of simple catapulting birds into structures to foil a bunch of green pigs has proved to be a massive property and truth be told I didn’t mind the first movie at all which is a good thing because my kid loves the movie and TV show. This new movie has the birds and pigs teaming up to take on a new threat located on an undiscovered island in their area and the voice talent is definitely present for this one including the returning Jason Sudekis, Josh Gad and Danny McBride as our main heroes as well as Sterling K. Brown, Bill Hader, Awkwafina and many, many more. That’s the element that keeps me interested.

The Farewell – Actress and comedian Awkwafina moves from the supporting role to the main role in this new comedy-drama that is one of the best movies I have seen this year. The story is about a Chinese family who discovers their grandmother has only a short while left to live and decide to keep her in the dark, scheduling a wedding to gather the extended family together before she dies. This movie is a beautiful story of family, notably the connection between grandmother and grandchild and the oddness of tradition and it really is one of those “can’t miss” indie films that kind of came out of nowhere. Interestingly enough, this film is only the second outing from writer and director Lulu Wang who is already set for her next movie a science fiction movie “Children of the New World” because already she feels so accomplished and exudes so much emotion in a story that is based on her real-life experience Put her name on the filmmakers to keep an eye on.

After The Wedding – Writer and director Bart Freundlich is a pretty ambitious filmmaker with his new film as he has taken on the task of adapting the great Susanne Bier and her 2006 drama starring Mads Mikkelsen. Swapping the genders of the lead three characters, the film is about a manager of an orphanage in Kolkata who travels to New York to meet a benefactor who has promised them a massive boost to their funding. When she arrives there she is invited to attend the wedding of her potential angel investor’s daughter, which begins a revelation that changes everyone’s future. The film is nowhere near the calibre of its source material but the emotional moments land with sledgehammer weight through the powerful performances of Michelle Williams, Julianne Moore and Billy Crudup. This is a serious actor’s clinic.

47 Meters Down: Uncaged – Shark movies, it should be standard to have one every year just to keep Spielberg’s Jaws legacy alive and keep us knowledgeable about where we got our blockbuster culture from. This year’s shark movie is a follow up to the Mandy Moore starring film from a couple of years back that honestly wasn’t that bad. This time we get all new characters in this story about four teen girls diving in a ruined underwater city who quickly learn they’ve entered the territory of the deadliest shark species in a claustrophobic labyrinth of submerged caves. Made by the same guy who did the first film, as well as the great Strangers sequel from last year, this should have been an easy slam dunk but Roberts bobbles it horribly with a lame and dumb script full of stupid decisions and cliched slasher movie moments. I won’t even give them the cool “Cliffhanger” moment with Sistine Stallone because the moments proceeding it are just so awful.

Brian Banks – I only vaguely heard about this biopic which may show how far director Tom Shadyac has fallen off the radar since his last major movie, 2007’s Evan Almighty. Straight Outta Compton star Aldis Hodge plays NFL football Brian Banks who played for the Atlanta Falcons until he was accused of rape and sent to prison. Wrongly convicted, Banks spends years of his life to overturn the conviction and clear his name. The story is compelling and presents itself with a good true to life reality but the script and locking of the film really take away from that feeling. I also feel like we need to get Greg Kinnear a little kickstart because his performances are feeling a bit lifeless.

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping – If you never had the chance to check out the second ever Lonely Island movie, a parody on pop stars like Justin Beiber, then you have really missed out and need to rectify that immediately with this steel book special edition. Andy Samberg plays mega star Conner 4 Real, a solo act that broke out from the group The Style Boyz, much like Justin Timberlake did from NSync but crushed the relationship with his best friend and bandmate in the process. This movie is ridiculous and takes insane leaps but everything pays off because this movie is absolutely hilarious. The standouts in the supporting cast are definitely Tim Meadows as Conner’s long-suffering but dedicated manager and Saturday Night Live cast member Chris Redd as Conner’s new opening act. Also, the soundtrack for this is awesome and operates as another Lonely Island album. This is a must-own.

Spirited Away – Shout Factory gives some more love to director, creator and Studio Ghibli founder Hayao Miyazaki with this beautiful box set that you can place alongside the box set for Princess Mononoke released earlier this year. For those who don’t know what this one is about this animated film follows a depressed ten-year-old girl who finds herself lost in her family’s move to the suburbs but soon finds herself immersed in the fantastical world of gods, witches, spirits and humans who have been changed into beasts. This is an incredible film filled with soul and beauty, one of the best stories from Miyazaki, maybe his crowning achievement.

Flowers In The Attic – The classic V.C. Andrews book turned movie gets the full collector’s edition from those great minds at Arrow Video and I think this story lives in a lot of our hearts, a movie we may have seen when we were younger. In a nutshell, the movie is about a group of siblings who have been shut away in the attic by their conspiring mother and grandmother, played by Victoria Tennant and Academy Award winner Louise Fletcher respectively. The movie was not well-received when it came out but it skipped the more controversial pieces from the book which would have damned it immediately. I enjoyed it but it definitely paled with time passed.

Star Trek Discovery: Season 2 – Full disclosure here, as much as I can call myself a geek I have never been a Trek guy, aside from the great Deep Space Nine which was a brilliant story about relationships and politics amid a space station, but this new series made for CBS All Access has me hooked. This second season is able to go off on its own path now that the first has established all of our characters and allegiances and these new episodes blow it all open with unpredictable storylines, fantastic acting and amazing sequences of sci-fi action. Seriously, if this was my first foray into the world of Star Trek I would probably be one of those Trekkie convention attendees without a doubt. This show is money in every way.

Steve’s Blu-Ray Geek-Out:

A Touch Of Class – Another classic sent to me from the depths of the Warner Bros. archive, the name says it all when it comes to this movie. A romantic comedy starring George Segal and Glenda Jackson, who won an Academy Award for this film, its the story of a married man who falls in love with a divorcee and mother of two, the couple going on a whirlwind romance through a trip from London to Spain. The popular nature of this film was a bit surprised at the time, as was the critic and award clout for it. You also have to keep in mind that Jackson won the Oscar over Marsha Mason in Cinderella Liberty and, a real kicker for me, Ellen Burstyn in The Exorcist. The movie is entertaining but I feel like Burstyn was robbed still.

The Dead Center – One of the best filmmakers working today, Shane Carruth is not exactly a household name but if you bring up the time travel mind-bender Primer, movie lovers know exactly who you’re talking about. Since then he has only made one other film, Upstream Color, another fantastic film, so when I saw his name attached to this new movie I was excited. Then I found out that he’s just the lead actor in it so there was an ebb to that excitement but was still on board. He plays a hospital psychiatrist whose own sanity is pushed to the limit when a frightened amnesiac patient insists that he has died and brought something terrible back from the other side. The movie comes from writer and director Billy Senese, who has a penchant for these clinical feeling horrors as his other one Closer To God runs in the same vein. The atmospherics of this film is great, really the driving force of the movie, and if you hate hospitals this movie won’t do you any favors.

Warrior: Season 1 – I can’t believe this show flew under my radar as it is based on stories written by Bruce Lee and comes from director Justin Lin, which is great being that he directed the Lee centric comedy satire Finishing The Game, a solid movie if you haven’t seen it. The actors aren’t known but the story will grab you, set during the Tong Wars in the late 1800s, following a martial arts prodigy originating from China who emigrates to San Francisco and ends up becoming a hatchet man for the most powerful boss in Chinatown. The action is phenomenal and the attention to detail feels impeccable. This is a great Blu-ray pick-up, a ten-episode series that has since been picked up for a second season. If you’re a classic martial arts fan then they made this show for you.

A Space Program – This is a fascinating little movie and I kept thinking about Michel Gondry’s Be Kind Rewind throughout my watching because it felt like it was almost in the same spirit. To put this film in a nutshell, an artist named Tom Sachs and his team of crazy “do it yourselfers” build a handmade space program to send two female astronauts to Mars. Have I hooked you yet? Directed by Van Neistat, this is a weird but kind of poignant homage and a love letter to the original NASA programs and just the construction of the movie alone, no pun intended, is absolutely enthralling. The dedication of the filmmakers and crew in this movie is astounding.

Television:

Rick And Morty: Season 4 (Adult Swim) – Probably the most popular adult cartoon on the planet with the most rabid ns sometimes bat guano insane fan base, Justin Rolland and Dan Harmon’s brainchild makes it way back to your television screens. For those who haven’t been clued in on this craziness, this show follows the intergalactic and interdimensional adventures of a constantly drunken super scientist and his not-so-bright grandson, a relationship that, at first, looks like a play on the Doc Brown and Marty McFly friendship but devolves way past that. This show hangs in the balance of you’re either going to love it or you’ll hate it but it definitely got its hooks into me. Who knows if we’ll see anything beyond this but I’m happy with what we got.

Dollface: Season 1 (Hulu) – Kat Dennings makes her return to episodic television two years after her sitcom 2 Broke Girls came to an end with this new series about a woman who tries to reconnect with the friends she lost during a long time relationship that has recently come to an end. The show costars Pretty Little Liars alum and Canadian actress Shay Mitchell as well as veteran actress Beth Grant as a crazy cat lady and looks like a pretty decent show from first-time showrunner and creator Jordan Weiss. The few reviews of it are conflicted so I can’t say if it’s great or not but it will definitely be a vehicle for Dennings’ cynical disposition.

The World According to Jeff Goldblum: Season 1 (Disney+) – This is an easy sell for any fan of Jeff Goldblum, myself included, as the iconic star gets deep into an investigation on seemingly familiar objects to reveal a world of astonishing connections, fascinating science, and a whole lot of big ideas. The episodes in the first season include looks at sneakers, ice cream, tattoos and more and I personally can’t wait to be educated by one of the most oddball Hollywood stars out there. I know Jeff has some controversial comments recently about Woody Allen and is circling the cancel culture button right now so I’m going to enjoy this while I can.

Earthquake Bird (Netflix) – A brand new pick up for this streaming service giant to add to an already huge catalogue of original films, this movie has great things going for it, coming from director Wash Westmoreland, the filmmaker behind last year’ Colette and the Academy Award winner Still Alice. An adaptation of the Susanna Jones novel, this stars Oscar winner Alicia Vikander and Riley Keough in a story about an enigmatic translator with a dark past who is brought in for questioning after an ex-pat friend that came between her and her photographer boyfriend ends up missing and presumed dead. Taut tension and mystery fuels this film that is getting some favorable reviews, calling it a well-acted and steamy neo-noir.

The Mandalorian: Season 1 (Disney+) – This is a historic moment as we get the first-ever live-action Star Wars series all based around a character that us fans have always revered, Boba Fett. Created by Jon Favreau, Disney+ will be releasing an episode a week of this lone gunfighter western feeling show set in the New Republic and with stars Pedro Pascal, Ming Na, Taika Waititi and Werner Herzog playing main characters, well, I’m just on dream street right now. Heck, I didn’t even rattle off all the filmmakers behind the episodes which include Dope’s Rick Famuyiwa, Bryce Dallas Howard and Waititi as well. This is going to be awesome.

New Releases:

Doctor Sleep – As we near the end of the year we come to the last remaining films on my most anticipated list and this movie is at the top of it and it’s definitely ambitious in its subject matter. Based on a novel by Stephen King, this is the follow up to The Shining, which has both the distinction of being one of the greatest horror stories and films of all time as well as being one of Stanley Kubrick’s greatest works. Ewan McGregor takes the role of an adult Danny Torrence who has to protect a young girl from an evil cult known as The True Knot who prey on children with powers to remain immortal, an ensuing battle that will definitely lead to some sort of a showdown at the Overlook Hotel. The reviews have just started rolling in and they are very positive so far, which has me very excited.

Last Christmas – I heavily dislike Christmas movies and to make matters worse this film’s title is my most hated Christmas song ever so it is really a bad omen for me and this romantic comedy already. Hopefully, the fact that the film is lead by the Mother Of Dragons Emilia Clarke and Crazy Rich Asians’ Henry Golding can save this movie but the story already feels a bit cheesy. The story has Clarke playing a desperately single woman with a disastrous love life who meets the man who may be the one when she takes a job as a department store elf during the Christmas season at the mall. Actually having to write all of that makes me think this movie will be terrible. Prove me wrong.

Midway – One the outside, this movie looks like a slam dunk, a World War II fighter pilot story about the infamous Battle Of Midway with Woody Harrelson, Patrick Wilson and Dennis Quaid anchoring a good cast of young stars. When you look closely at this movie you will notice the name Roland Emmerich attached to this as director, a filmmaker who hasn’t made a hit film since The Day After Tomorrow fifteen years ago and that movie wasn’t very good. I really want this movie to be entertaining and action-packed, which I’m sure it will be as Emmerich is the guy who blew up the White House in Independence Day but also tanked us all with Resurgence, so I ave a prediction of all-flash and zero substance. (Not opening in Hamilton)

Playing With Fire – John Cena hits the kids movie point of his rise as a Hollywood actor and most notably an action star but the good news is, just like The Rock, Cena has a great command of his comedy chops and this movie may not be totally brutal. He plays one of the all-business members of a crew of rugged firefighters who meet their match when try to rescue three endlessly troublemaking kids and the fact that this film is made by Paul Blart Mall Cop 2’s Andy Fickman may tell you all you need to know. Well, actually Fickman made the Amanda Bynes comedy She’s The Man which I quite liked so the jury may still be out on this one. (Not opening in Kamloops or Oshawa)

Klaus – Time to get animated ahead of the holiday season with this new Christmas feature that will be making it onto Netflix in the next few weeks after this gets a bit of a theatrical run. The film is about an inexperienced postman who is having a rough time in his new position that resolves a massive rift between sides in the Arctic Circle almost by accident when he befriends a school teacher and the two discover a mysterious carpenter who lives alone in a cabin full of handmade toys named Klaus and I bet you can guess who that is. The film has a really solid voice cast including Jason Schwartzman, Rashida Jones, J.K. Simmons and John Cusack and looks like a really great animated holiday story against all of the terrible ones that are usually released at this time. (Only opening in Toronto and Vancouver)

Blu-Ray:

Fast And Furious Presents Hobbs & Shaw – With just one look at this trailer, you would know how obsessed I am with this movie from the moment I first got my eyes on it. The first spinoff from the Fast & Furious series features The Rock’s character of Luke Hobbs who is forced to team up again with Jason Statham’s Deckard Shaw to take on a cyber-enhanced threat in the form of Idris Elba bent on destroying humanity. This movie is big, crazy and full of ridiculous action and I loved every moment of this over two-hour extravaganza. The Rock and Statham are both walking and talking fireworks of charisma, as is the big baddie Elba, and Vanessa Kirby, an actress I only knew from a quick part in Mission Impossible: Fallout, is one of the best newcomers of the year. This movie is just fun and recommended.

Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark – Adapted from a classic book that gave me the serious creeps as a kid, this quasi-anthology horror film was shepherded to the screen by Guillermo del Toro and directed by Troll Hunter and The Autopsy Of Jane Joe filmmaker André Øvredal. To give a bit of story to this, it all takes place in the late sixties and follows a group of kids who find a book of scary stories in an abandoned house. When each of the stories starts to come to life they find that there is some larger evil that is responsible for it. The trailers for this film are unsettling, terrifying in its imagery and downright gross for one scene and I think it’s holding back on what the full theatrical vision is. I’m excited for this.

The Art Of Racing In The Rain – In the next film of using dogs as manipulation, This Is Us star Milo Ventimiglia stars in this story about a formula one race car driver who buys a golden retriever puppy to accompany him on his journey through life. That sounds cheesily grandiose but that is really the film in a nutshell. I will say that this movie is a better told story than any of the Dog’s Way Home and Dog’s Journey films and we are spared the voice of Josh Gad this time but an inner dog monologue from Kevin Costner? It really gives the dog a weirdness of having way too much knowledge, especially when he is spouting off racing statistics, almost used as a crutch to distract you from how corny and sappy the movie can become at times. I will say that director Simon Curtis makes some bold moves in the film to separate itself from the pack and not all of them work.

The Kitchen – Based on a graphic novel from Vertigo Comics, a subdivision of DC Comics, this movie had so much potential. The directorial debut of Andrea Berloff, one of the writers on Straight Outta Compton, this film boasts a great cast led by the solid trio of Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish and Elisabeth Moss in roles that are decidedly different for these gifted actresses. They play the wives of New York gangsters in Hell’s Kitchen in the 1970s who continue to operate their husbands’ rackets after they’re locked up in prison, so picture a bit of the plot of Steve McQueen’s Widows from last year with a handful of aesthetic changes. That’s as far as the good news goes as this movie is a mess of bad acting, bad script writing and just bad decisions altogether. I wanted to like this movie but ended up despising it greatly.

Pavarotti – I’m really hit or miss with the narrative films of Ron Howard but as a documentarian, more importantly, a music documentarian he is making some seriously great movies. After his last one, Eight Days A Week, he focuses on the life and work of opera legend Luciano Pavarotti and I have to admit that my knowledge of and even appreciation for opera is quite low but the passion and joy that flows through the man in archival and rehearsal footage and home movies is almost infectious. Howard also uses Pavarotti’s concert footage in a way that helps tell the story of his work, his creative mind and his personal relationships. This is a great watch for any music lover with a broader mind in their tastes.

Undercover Brother 2 – When I received this movie, yet another unnecessary sequel to a middling Universal Pictures production, I feel like it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. This follow up to a 2002 comedy that I thought was funny but definitely lower than low brow looks terrible just getting a gander at the cover art but the reality of the situation is that it’s much worse than that. I won’t even try to give you an outline of a plot because there really isn’t one but I will start out by saying this film didn’t even have enough money to get Eddie Griffin back to star, instead putting Black Dynamite’s Michael Jai White in the lead, who should have been making a sequel to his own brilliant blaxpoitation movie. This is just bad on all accounts and should be burnt with fire.

Steve’s Blu-Ray Geek Out:

Jezebel – Getting some real classics now by adding the Warner Archive division to my review list and this one is a great one to start with as it stars one of Hollywood’s biggest stars of the time, Bette Davis. Made in 1938, this film has Davis as Julie Marsden, a spoiled Southern belle who loses her fiance with her awful behavior, making a horrible scene at a major social event and vows that she will win him back by any means necessary. This is one of Davis’ most popular roles, winning her an Oscar as well as her co-star Fay Bainter for Best Supporting Actress. This movie is a shining example of classic Hollywood and is a very interesting watch.

The Chambermaid – I’m really excited to bring some international cinema to the segment this week with this Mexican drama about a maid in Mexico City’s most luxurious hotel. This movie is the offical selection from Mexico for next year’s Academy Awards and, although it is largely unknown to a large audience, this may be a good bet to at least earn the nomination. This is the feature debut of writer and director Lila Aviles who crafts an incredibly intimate character piece that gives insight to the working class of the country and how that class can clash with those of a wealthy means. The movie is quiet, reflective but full of compassion for its subject.

Television:

His Dark Materials: Season 1 (HBO and BBC) – I’m going to say something controversial here and reveal that I really like the Chris Weitz made Golden Compass film from 2007 which was the first kick at the Phillip Pullman written series of books and I really wanted to see more. It’s a damn great thing that HBO and BBC joined forced to do a faithful adaptation of these books and cast Dafne Keen, who astounded audiences alongside Hugh Jackman in Logan, as the lead character of Lyra. The potential of this series is limited and while being compared to Game Of Thrones is becoming a bit tiresome, the comparison feels a little more real with this one as the book series is popular and perfect for this style of adaptation.

The End Of The Fucking World: Season 2 (Netflix) – This show was a little bit of a sleeper hit for me, a misfit teen road trip with a young man who definitely has more than a few screws loose and the cool girl in school who has her share of daddy issues who embark on a journey to find her real father. This show takes nihilism to a whole new level and I sort of adore it for doing that because it feels like it takes a lot of gutsy chances in its narrative style. Season one was all about introducing these characters and fleshing their development out so I’m excited to see the furthering of their story beyond that and I’m looking forward to the continued longevity of the show.

Paradise Beach (Netflix) – This is an interesting one and a return to international picks in this segment with this film about a team of former robbers who arrive in Phuket, southern Thailand, a total paradise on earth. Now living new lives as traders, they are living happy and luxurious days until, Mehdi, a loose cannon who was sentenced to 15 years in prison for their previous robbery comes to get his piece of the pie. There are no recognizable stars in this movie, so the acting isn’t incredible or anything, but the intrigue of the central plot and the amazing scenery of the location is really cool to look at.

One Child Nation (Amazon Prime) – I’m bringing the informative narrative of documentary this week to my television section with this new fascinating film about childbearing in China. This one is a direct story as Zhang Lynn, the film’s director, uncovers the untold history of China’s one-child policy and the generations of parents and children forever changed by this social experiment after she has a baby of her own. Garnering fantastic reviews, this is an unflinching look into a law that is barbaric and limiting in today’s progressive society and the futility of fighting it in a country that has no want to grow in this manner. This is definitely one of those watercooler talk movies.

The Apollo (HBO) – To close out this week I am bringing another documentary but this one is from those pros over at HBO, a deep look at the legendary Apollo Theater in New York City, a bigger than life venue that has been a catapult to stardom for many comedians over the years. The film was directed by Academy Award winner Roger Ross Williams and has been getting some serious love from critics, many calling it an enthralling history lesson as well as a gift for those who love the art of live performances. I’m into it for the HBO affiliation as their documentaries are always stellar.

New Releases:

Terminator: Dark Fate – A new entry into a series that I feel has burnt me a few times before, I’m a little trepidatious heading into the new installment of this iconic sci-fi action series but there are a few differences that make me have hope that we have a good movie. This film marks the return of producer James Cameron in a more hands-on capacity, the first time since Judgement Day and it has Deadpool director Tim Miller making his first film since that mega-hit, shrugging of the comedy for something far grimmer. Adding to that mix we get the return of Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor, the only one who can do it justice, to join Arnie as well as a rumored return for Edward Furlong as John Connor. Just writing this has got me more hyped for the movie and I haven’t even got to the MacKenzie Davis character yet, the actress being a personal favorite of mine.

Harriet – Talk Tom Me director Kasi Lemmons, also an actress who appeared in The Silence Of The Lambs among many others, takes on a huge historical figure with this new film, the amazing story of Harriet Tubman and her escape from slavery and transformation into one of America’s greatest heroes who freed hundreds of slaves and changed the course of history. Cynthia Erivo, who last appeared in the great movies Widows and Bad Times At El Royale, takes the lead in this movie that is getting great reviews, giving a sincere and truthful account of an important piece in the past that is deeply pivotal to the world of today. A film like this is usually Oscar bait so I really hope it transcends that or at least isn’t obvious with its goals. (Not opening in Hamilton, Kamloops and Oshawa)

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. (Not opening in Kamloops and Oshawa)

Arctic Dogs – This is a new film on my desk this week and obviously it has absolutely no ad campaign behind it because this is probably the first time you, the reader, is hearing about it too. The film, an animated family movie, is about an arctic fox who works in the mailroom of the Arctic Blast Delivery Service, stifling his much bigger dreams of becoming the Arctic’s star husky courier. To prove he can do it, he takes one of the sleds and delivers a mysterious package to a secret location which puts him in the path of the nefarious Otto Von Walrus, an evil genius with an army of puffin henchmen. The movie features the voices of Jeremy Renner, Anjelica Huston, James Franco, John Cleese and more but without Dreamworks, Pixar, Illumination or Sony pushing this one I doubt anyone will care to be brutally honest. (Not opening in Hamilton)

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. (Only opening in Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver)

Pain & Glory – One of the most consistent international filmmakers returns with his most grounded and personal film yet. Pedro Almodovar is a world-class storyteller who always comes through with vibrant tales of real human struggle and this film may be one of my favorites in his filmography. Antonio Banderas is stunning in this, one of his best performances in my opinion, as he plays a director who suffers from chronic headaches and pain from a spinal surgery coming to grips with a childhood and relationship with his mother that made him the man he is today, for better or worse, as well as the early films that made him and the working friendships he may have tarnished with his own opinions of his art. This film is stunning from the getgo and reminds you why Almodovar is one of the true masters. (Only opening in Toronto and Vancouver)

The King – Nothing sells a movie better than having Timothee Chalamet in the lead role but this has much more than that as Robert Pattinson, Joel Edgerton, Ben Mendelsohn, Lily Rose Depp and Thomasin McKenzie round out this stacked cast in a story about the crowning of a young Henry V, a wayward prince and heir to the English throne, thrust into his destiny when his tyrannical father dies. The film was written by Edgerton and the director of the film, David Michod, a follow up to his George Clooney produced miniseries Catch 22. The reviews boast about the great performances in the movie that elevate the story past some of its weaker moments so it looks like if you love some Chalamet this would be a good bet for you. (Only opening in Toronto and Vancouver)

The Body Remembers When The World Broke Open – Two indigenous women meet in Vancouver on one rainy after, both at different crossroads in their lives. Áila, emotional after a doctor’s appointment, appears to be a former victim of abuse who has entered a new time of healing in her life. She finds Violet, pregnant, barefoot, bleeding and bruised, standing in the rain as a man screams at her from a block away, beginning a journey between the two women as Áila tries to convince Violet to seek help at a battered women’s shelter. The film told mostly through one continuous shot, is a deeply human story that is tragic to watch unfold, especially because the outcome is what the shelter workers know as a fact. No one takes to the home immediately and it takes multiple violent events to breakthrough. This is an incredible movie, homegrown right here in Vancouver. (Only opening in Toronto and Vancouver)

Blu-Ray:

Luce – With his first movie out of the gate being Cloverfield Paradox, the third piece in the J.J. Abrams and Bad Robot monster universe, it was hard to get a sense of what kind of filmmaker Julius Onah is. Now with his second feature, he taps into a dramatic side with a married couple who is forced to reckon with their idealized image of their adopted son after an alarming discovery by a devoted high school teacher about his former life in a war-torn country threatens his status as an all-star student. The cast is deep, featuring Octavia Spencer, Naomi Watts, Tim Roth and It Comes At Night star Kelvin Harrison Jr. as the title character. Part of me geeks out because this is the reunion of Watts and Roth as a married couple following the remake of Funny Games.

Them That Follow – Brilliant performances from a stacked cast of great character actors, this film is a solid little southern preacher drama that I’m glad I took notice of. The film stars Alice Englert as the daughter of a pastor played by Walton Goggins living in the backwoods of Appalachia who harbours a secret that will tear their community apart. With a supporting cast of Lewis Pullman, Kaitlyn Dever, Thomas Mann, Jim Gaffigan and Academy Award winner Olivia Colman, this is a well-told story beautifully shot by Brett Jutkiewicz, who already gifted us the fantastic horror film Ready Or Not this year.

It’s A Wonderful Life – One of the most iconic Christmas films of all time gets the full Blu-ray special edition treatment as you can now show your entire family this classic Jimmy Stewart movie. For those who don’t know this story, the film centers around a stressed out and overworked businessman who is shown what the world would be like without him in it. The film is one of the most celebrated holiday movies of all time and even earned five Academy Award nominations including Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Director for Frank Capra, one of the greats of the time. I honestly don’t need to prattle on any more about this one as we’ve all seen it or know about it or watched the Nicolas Cage sort of remake of it, The Family Man. Am I alone on that last one?

The Ring Collection – The early 2000s hit sensation of J-Horror or Japanese waif ghost horror is fully celebrated with this new box set from Arrow Video and with the remake of The Grudge on the horizon it could send me into another tumble down of all these great classic movies. Included in this set is all the chronology of the Ringu series, the inspiration of The Ring movies, with the originator Ringu, made in 1998, the next coming each year after with Ringu 2 and the prequel Ringu 0 as well as Spiral which came out the same year. This is a very cool set, which is gorgeously put together, but if I could nitpick anything, I would say that the fact it doesn’t have the spinoff movies Sadako 3D, Sadako 2 3D and Sadako vs Kayako is a little bit of a fail.

Steve’s Blu-Ray Geek-Out:

Toys Are Not For Children – This is definitely one of the weirdest movies I have ever received from Arrow Video and what’s even more shocking to me is that it was made in 1972 and deals with some seriously twisted themes. The story follows Jamie, an emotionally stunted woman who has a fixation on the toys given to her by her long-absent father which prompts her to get a job at the local toy shop. She falls in love with one of her co-workers, gets married, gets divorced and movies to New York to be a prostitute who specializes in servicing perverted old men who want to play daddy with her. Went off the rails at the end there but I needed to give you the scope of what we’re dealing with here and it’s only an hour and a half long! This movie is so insane and I can’t believe it exists.

Genius Party/Genius Party Beyond – It’s another dive into anime this week with these two anthology stories released in 2007 and 2008 respectively. The first film features the voice fo Pacific Rim star Rinko Kikuchi and stories by Hideki Futamura of Halo Legends, Mahiro Maeda who did the third Evangelion movie, Kôji Morimoto of Memories and The Animatrix and more. The second movie, Beyond, is a bit more restrained in its scope but features a lot of the up and comers in the animation field under the direction of Morimoto once again, among others. As far as what audiences are saying, the second movie is a much more polished product than it’s predecessor which seems odd to me.

Television:

See: Season 1 (Apple+) – Jason Momoa leads this new sci-fi series set in a dystopian future as the human race has lost the sense of sight and society has had to find new ways to navigate the world and survive as a society. Of course, when a set of twins are born with the ability to see everyone’s world is blown wide open. This show was all filmed in Vancouver and the surrounding areas and features a lot of local talent, like my friend Josh Blacker, but beyond those reasons to get on board, the show actually looks pretty damn great. The appeal to me for story elements is that the show makes use of the freeform of Apple’s platform and is gory as hell. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea but I think it could become a hit.

The Morning Show: Season 1 (Apple+) – Jennifer Aniston returns to television and I feel like people have been waiting for this moment even if they aren’t sure exactly what Apple+ is and how they can get it. Featuring an amazing cast including Steve Carell, Billy Crudup, Mark Duplass, Bel Powley, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Reese Witherspoon, the show takes an inside look at the lives of a nationwide morning show, exploring the unique challenges faced by the men and women who carry out this daily production. The unfortunate thing is the initial reviews of the show call it a vanity project for Aniston, a story that goes over on surface value and never digs into anything interesting. Let’s face it though, this will be massively watched by the current subscribers just salivating at the launch of this platform.

American Son (Netflix) – This new feature hitting the streaming service this week stars a very gaunt-looking Kerry Washington in a story about an estranged couple who reunite in a Florida police station to help find their missing teenage son. The film co-stars Supergirl’s Jeremy Jordan and Rescue Me’s Steven Pasquale and is based on a critic and audience lauded Broadway play that featured all of these actors. The first reviews are saying that the stage play script doesn’t translate, which is a large part of the problem I had with the Denzel Washington movie Fences but something about the trailer for this one has me very interested.

Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan: Season 2 (Amazon Prime) – John Krasinksi dons the CIA agent role for the sophomore season of this popular espionage hit. I really liked the first season a lot, the writers managed to keep this character fresh and original in a post-Jason Bourne genre landscape and it has great direction from proven feature filmmakers like Morten Tyldum and Patricia Riggen as well as ex-Game Of Thrones guys like Daniel Sackheim. This new season adds new characters, like one played by former Lisbeth Salander Noomi Repace, and I’m sure will continue the deepening saga of this iconic literary character who’s had a really bumpy live-action life after Harrison checked out.

Silicon Valley: Season 6 (HBO) – Mike Judge can soon add another complete piece of comedy gold to his collection along with Beavis and Butthead, Office Space, King Of The Hill and Idiocracy as the tale of Richard, Gilfoyle, Dinesh, Jared and their baby, Pied Piper comes to an end after five really great seasons and hopefully a solid swan song here. I will admit that the show has a formula to it, almost like Entourage did, another one of my favorites, in which we have a giant problem that takes all season to break down until alls well that ends well in the end. That said, the ride is always fun, always hilarious and with so many original and quotable dialogue along the way. I still miss T.J. Miller though.

New Releases:

Black And Blue – There really isn’t any sort of ad campaign or push behind this movie but the cast seems interesting enough to garner some clout as it stars the always phenomenal Naomie Harris who toplines this crime thriller. She plays a rookie police officer in New Orleans who has to balance her identity as a black woman with her role as a police officer when she witnesses other police officers committing murder. Unfortunately, the film comes from director Deon Taylor who’s last outing The Intruder almost felt like a parody with Dennis Quaid turning in a ridiculous performance that was supposed to be menacing. Hopefully, this one won’t be as cheesy. (Not playing in London, Kamloops, Barrie and Oshawa)

Countdown – Decisive horror can sometimes be a huge problem as we’ve seen some real crap with Truth Or Dare and the first Happy Death Day but sometimes it works out, as some of the Final Destination movies are fun. This film has a nurse downloading an app that claims to predict the moment a person will die and tells her she only has three days to live. With the clock ticking and a figure haunting her, she must find a way to save her life before time runs out. The film is the directorial debut of Justin Dec, so there is some hope with the vision of a new storyteller and it utilizes a young cast including Anne Winters from 13 Reasons Why and Charlie McDermott from The Middle. Maybe this will be a surprise or maybe it will be a crowd-pleaser that I hate like the before mentioned Happy Death Day. (Not opening in Oshawa)

Western Stars – Heck yes, more music documentaries! This one follows The Boss, Bruce Springsteen as he prepares to release his first country album, this film showcasing all the songs in a star-studded live concert. Springsteen co-directed the movie with his frequent video collaborator Thom Zimny and it’s interesting to see this legendary musician move into a different style of music, even if it’s one that I am definitely not a fan of, but the influence is definitely a different flavouring as it was influenced by Southern California pop music of the 1970s like Glen Campbell and Burt Bacharach. I think it is evident that if you’re The Boss, you can do anything and wow the critics over and over again. (Not opening in Hamilton, Kamloops, Barrie or Oshawa)

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. (Not opening in Hamilton, Kamloops, or Oshawa)

Parasite – This film was an amazing 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 family’s 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. (Only opening in Toronto and Vancouver)

Blu-Ray:

The Lion King – The continued push of re-imagining Disney animated classics continues with this new version of my favorite film in the catalogue. You could argue that this is an animated film as well, which it kind of is, but the effects on this movie are an absolute gamechanger, some of my friends even calling it a bit disturbing, like a deep fake video. Everyone knows the story of the Lion King so I won’t go over that again but the cast is where the draw is, including Donald Glover, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Beyonce, Seth Rogen, John Oliver and Billy Eichner, this film is stacked. I really wish I could report back with how amazing this movie was but it feels like it misses the mark in a lot of ways. The music is not quite up to what the original was and everything feels like a rehash with no lasting mark made. Also, I know I’m in the minority on this, but how do the animals poop? They have no butts.

Strange But True – Featuring a cast comprised of Oscar-nominated Amy Ryan, up and comers Nick Robinson and Margaret Qualley and the veterans Greg Kinnear, Blythe Danner and Brian Cox, this movie should be an easy knockout hit. The film centers around the fallout when a woman surprises the family of her deceased boyfriend by telling them she’s pregnant with his child years after his death. The film plays with some interesting elements, trying to be a mystery thriller but holding back on the thrills. It all starts building in a great direction but it completely loses its identity with the third act and doesn’t regain its composure before a pretty lacklustre ending.

Galaxy Quest – An absolute favorite from the nineties, this is my ultimate forgiving line for Tim Allen viewing along with the Toy Story movies. This movie is a fantastic parody of Star Trek fandom, centering on an audience favorite show called “Galaxy Quest” that is mistaken for the real thing by a desperate alien race on the brink of total annihilation, They kidnap the actors from earth in the hope that they will be their salvation and oh hot damn I love this movie. This put Sam Rockwell on the map for me and has such great performances from Sir Alan Rickman, Sigourney Weaver and Veronica Mars’ dad Enrico Colantoni. To own this movie in this steelbook edition is a pure gift for me.

VeggieTales: The Best Christmas Gift – VeggieTales is something that has been around for a long time it seems, so long that I can remember kids in school saying that the only animated films they could watch were these films, adhering to their family’s values. For those who don’t know, the core audience these movies seek out are the faith-based crowd and this one is very evident of that as this movie, a Christmas tale, is about the birth of Jesus. As many issues as I have with faith-based movies, VeggieTales transcends it because, even through terrible animation, the scripts are witty and the music is kind of catchy. I really wouldn’t have any issues with my kids watching it in all honesty.

Steve’s Blu-Ray Geek Out:

The Prey – Another Arrow release to kick off my geek outs this week, a slasher film from the early 1980s about six campers who are hunted down and killed by a maniac who is just looking to be loved. Messed up, right? To me, it plays really well into the genre and it’s interesting to note that the film was made in 1979, a year after Halloween and a year before Friday The 13th, but wasn’t released until 1983 and was cut down by fifteen minutes to appease the distributor. This new edition of the movie has the full original cut of the movie, the fifteen-minute less version and a different international version as well.

Find Me Guilty – I think the common knowledge of the mainstream is that Vin Diesel can’t act but what if I told you he could and I have proof? A real Keanu Reeves “whoa” moment I’m sensing here but it’s true, the guy has chops and skills given the right director is involved. This is the case with this courtroom comedy based o a true story as the legendary Sidney Lumet made this one, as Diesel plays a low-level gangster named Jackie DiNorscio who defended himself in court in what became the longest criminal trial in American judicial history. This movie achieves true levels of comedic farce which is even funnier when you bring the reality of the situation into account. This is a movie that shouldn’t have been glossed over when it was released in 2006 but unfortunately was.

Fear No Evil – Bringing more of the awesome campy films to the collectors, Shout Factory released this occult horror movie about a teenager in high school who is not what he seems but is the human embodiment of Lucifer. The real battle gets underway when two archangels are sent to destroy him, appearing as two high school girls. The movie was created by writer and director Frank LaLoggia and producer Charles M. LaLoggia came across the Boldt Castle in Alexandria Bay, New York and wanted to use it badly, the rest being B-movie history. This movie is hilariously ridiculous and has some pretty gruesome looking stuff that reminds me a bit of early Sam Raimi.

Ultimate Holiday Collection – I’m a bit annoyed that I’m already talking about Christmas releases before we’ve even celebrated Halloween but here we are. If you are an avid watcher of Christmas specials on network television then you will be already family with the first disc of this set as it compiled all of the Dreamworks holidays specials for Shrek, Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda and more as an episode by episode feature but it also included the feature movie for Rise Of The Guardians and, you know what? It’s a pretty great movie that no one talks about. I feel like this set is a clear family pleaser for the holidays.

Scarface – What? Scarface is getting another home release? Yes, but this one coincides with the 4K release of it, which is a must own if you have that system. As a person that owns this movie already but not on Blu-ray, I love that I can watch the saga of Tony Montana in a sparkling and beautiful format. The last time I saw this movie was on the big screen at Vancity Theatre for the Brian De Palma retrospective and I was blown away on a whole new level and loved the movie even more by the time the credits hit. There’s a real reason why this movie is so iconic and is a lot of people’s favorite.

Television:

Catherine The Great (HBO) – Helen Mirren has had a killer career playing queens as she has been a Roman empress, Queen Charlotte, Queen Elizabeth I and Queen Elizabeth II but now she can add Catherine The Great to that list, the focus of this four-episode limited series. Directed by Philip Martin, a main mind behind Wallander, The Crown and Mirren’s long running series Prime Suspect, this show is about the greatest tsarina, an empress of Russia pre 1917, Catherine the Great, a leader who was the longest serving woman ruler until 1796. Co-starring Jason Clarke, Rory Kinnear and Richard Roxburgh, I have faith in this show as it was written by Nigel Williams who wrote Mirren’s Elizabeth I HBO series.

Castle Rock: Season 2 (Space) – I’ve been excited for the second series of this Stephen King adaptation which is really just a vehicle to bring everything in the “King Universe” to life in one place. The first season reintroduced us to iconic characters that fans have loved for decades like Sheriff Alan Pangborn, played by Scott Glenn, who appeared in the books The Dark Half and Needful Things and locations like Shawshank penitentiary making this show the real deal for uber-nerds like myself. This new season brings in an actress I adore, Lizzy Caplan, to play a role that Kathy Bates won an Academy Award for, Annie Wilkes from Misery. This is going to be awesome.

Daybreak: Season 1 (Netflix) – High school teen comedy meets the post-apocalypse in this new and ambitious series that has Matthew Broderick in a main role and I’m really hoping it’s the principal just to reach back for that Election connection. The show follows a high school outcast named Josh is searching for his missing girlfriend in wake of a worldwide catastrophe. He’s later joined by a group of misfits and his former bully Wesley to face off with many weird things along the way. The series was created by Star Trek: Discovery producer Aron Eli Coleite and Rampage director Brad Peyton and it could be the new teenage hit on Netflix.

Dolemite Is My Name (Netflix) – 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.

Watchmen: Season 1 (HBO) – One of the greatest graphic novels of all time and the most interesting and real feeling superhero story I’ve ever read gets a live-action television sequel told by HBO and Lost creator Damon Lindelof and I have a feeling that this may be the best superhero television show ever made and that’s only after the first episode. The cast is great, featuring Regina King, Don Johnson, Jeremy Irons and Tim Blake Nelson, and this series is going to tell a modern take on a story from one of the most revered comic storytellers in history. We could have our new Game Of Thrones.