Steve Stebbing

Breaking down all things pop culture

This week on the show I joined guest host Jody Vance to chat about the global setting that Stranger Things may take on for the fourth season as well as more backlash from the casting of Halle Bailey in the lead role of the live action version of The Little Mermaid. For the flick of the week, I give a little rundown of the Kumail Nanjani and Dave Bautista comedy Studer and for the binge, we look at the new Showtime miniseries about Roger Ailes, The Loudest Voice. Check out the clip below.

Guest host Jody Vance

 

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New Releases:

Stuber – I feel like that who have enjoyed the Guardians Of The Galaxy or Infinity War know that Dave Bautista has some great comedy chops so, on the outside, this looks like an immediate win by pairing him with the hilarious Kumail Nanjani known for his role on Silicon Valley and the brilliant comedy The Big Sick, one that he wrote as well. The story has him as Stu an Uber driver who picks up what he assumes to be a normal customer. Unfortunately, the guy he picks up is Vic a reckless detective looking to make a dent in some crime. This looks like a home run to me and it’s also directed by Michael Dowse who Canadians know from his two FUBAR movies. (Not opening in Hamilton)

Crawl – Judging this movie by its basic plot line and poster, this movie would look like your standard survival thriller fare we our main characters battling the elements to predictable results. I’m happy to report that this movie is directed by Hills Have Eyes and Horns director Alejandre Aja so this movie will probably go anywhere but the beaten path. The film has Maze Runner and Pirates Of The Caribbean star Kaya Scodelerio as a woman attempting to rescue her father after a category five hurricane from a sinking house and to make matters worse they are being hunted by a group of alligators. The bonus to having such a cool director in a story like this is that Aja will definitely ramp up the gore as that is something he has consistently brought to all of his movies. This could be really fun.

The Last Black Man in San Francisco – The debut feature film from writer and director Joe Talbot, this movie absolutely stunned me with its message and beautiful cinematography. The story is about a young black man on a quest to find where he belongs in the everchanging city of San Francisco. Fueled by a deep love for his hometown and looking to get out of his best friend’s parents house, he takes an almost squatter’s method of taking over a beautiful house, one that was built by his own grandfather. This film immediately establishes Talbot as a director to look out for but also the performances of Jimmie Fails (who also co-wrote the movie) and Jonathan Majors cannot be ignored because they are heartfelt and emotional. I love this movie and see it sitting at the top of my best of 2019 at the end of the year. (Only opening in Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver)

Unplanned – This movie was released a while back in the states, months ago to be accurate, and given its subject matter the timing of the film is both horrifying and fascinating. The movie is a pandering faith-based film with nothing more than an agenda to be brainlessly consumed by their base. The plot follows a woman who becomes one of the youngest Planned Parenthood directors in the US. After she is asked to assist in an abortion at thirteen weeks she instead resigns, becoming a pro-life activist. I’m usually against banning films or boycotting it as I feel its pretty limiting in the art field but this is a movie that I hope earns no box office numbers whatsoever. No movie should be used as a political weapon or one that confused people with fiction disguised as fact. This honestly makes me mad. (Not opening in Hamilton, Kamloops, Barrie or Oshawa)

Ray & Liz – Welsh writer and director Richard Billingham digs deep into his own past for his debut film and the audience is better off or worse off for it depending on how you look at it. This film is the unflinching story of two brothers upbringing by their horribly neglectful parents in a dingy flat in the outskirts of Birmingham. Through few separate stories, we get a first-hand account of the brutal relationship between the two sons, striving to keep each other safe with a tinge of sibling rivalry, and their greedy and drunken parents, all divided by the subplot of an old recluse who lives upstairs, constantly tanked on homebrew. Birmingham never allows even a second of sentimentality in this film and I’m glad he didn’t because absolutely none of it would ring true. This is a downer story but the upside is that the experience led to the making of this movie. (Only opening in Toronto and Vancouver)

Blu-Ray:

Pet Sematary – One of the staple Stephen King novels gets its turn at the remake treatment and the advance word was that it was actually terrifying. The movie is the story of a family that moves to rural Maine and discover an old burial ground in the woods behind their house that’s soil can reanimate the dead. I was always a fan of the original and, of course, the book so I was salivating for this movie and it managed to grip me in the first moments of the film but then I felt the grip start to loosen, Aside from sequence of very cool gore effects, even with my knowledge of where the story was going to go, the film feels very paint by numbers for anyone who isn’t initiated into what’s going to happen all leading to an ending that really just feels like the equivalent of a shoulder shrug. Maybe I put too much into my expectations but this film doesn’t come through with any of the prementioned hype.

After – What can I say, teen romances and my viewing experiences are sometimes like oil and water, it just doesn’t mix. Every now and then though, something can breakthrough with enough originality behind it to change my mind. So, let’s look at this one, about a young woman who falls for the dark new stranger that crosses her path, which deviates her direction from marrying her high school sweetheart and living her pre-planned life. Yeah, there’s not enough originality to hold me here, an adaptation from a novel that seems to put a lot of these stories out.

Little – Look, when I originally saw the trailer for this movie I totally made the connection that this was the reverse of the Tom Hanks film Big but it really looked like hot garbage. The film stars the massively popular star of Insecure Issa Rae and Regina Hall about a ruthless executive who is transformed into her younger self, played by Blackish’s Marsai Martin, to teach her a lesson about her attitude and how she treats people. A strange thing happened when I watched this movie as I felt myself laughing and enjoying it. Yes, there is some terrible movie tropes that it can’t seem to avoid but the chemistry between Rae and Martin is phenomenal and I absolutely adore the former’s comedic timing. Issa Rae is destined to be a star for a long time I think.

High Life – This is a film I have been massively excited to check out because it pairs acclaimed French filmmaker Claire Denis, responsible for the incredible piece of cinema Beau Trevail, and one of my favorite character actors right now Robert Pattinson. The story is a futuristic one, following a father and his daughter living in the isolation of deep space and from everything I am reading it is mesmerizing in its scope and has a chasm of complexity to it. I love the style of Denis with her slow method and am really intrigued by her stepping into a genre like science fiction. This could be a great one for all the cinephiles out there.

This Island Earth – Getting some real classic sci-fi this week from Shout Factory, a movie that was rushed, underfunded and reshot into cult move history as the film is pretty popular among b-movie 50s fans. The story is as simple as can be, aliens arrive on earth to ask scientists pertinent information to help win their galactic war. Being that it was made in 1955 you could probably guess where this plot is heading as audiences were far easier to dupe than the jaded viewers of today but just seeing the classic troupes in their rawest state is so fascinating to see and it really set the groundwork of all the fantasy and popular science fiction we have today.

Steve’s Blu-Ray Geekout:

Ferrante Fever – I received this documentary from a little studio called Greenwich Entertainment and, although it had a short theatrical run at the beginning of March that I don’t think played in Canada, I had never heard of it. The film focuses on Elena Ferrante, an Italian writer under a fake name who wrote a four-part coming of age story collected as the Neapolitan Novels. First published in 2012, these books caused a literary craze that roped in readers from around the world, including big celebrity endorsements from Hillary Clinton, Gomorrah author Roberto Saviano and one of the great American novelists Jonathan Franzen, all of who appear as interview subjects for this movie. Book lovers should be all over this movie.

The Andromeda Strain – Michael Crichton is a novelist that I followed with rabid fascination as I was just starting my love for reading. Of course, I credit Stephen King for getting me started but I would deviate to the Jurrasic Park writer as a bit of a heady break from the Master of Horror’s carnage and Andromeda Strain was among the first I read. Now Arrow Video gives a brand new blu-ray edition for the adaptation made in 1971, a film about the discovery of an alien virus and the frantic actions to keep it contained. Famed director Robert Wise created a movie with such ramping and slow-burn intensity that some movies of today could really learn from it. Arrow has made a beauty release here with restored sound and picture plus commentary and a really great making of featurette as well as a little doc on Crichton himself.

Trapped Alive – One thing these new releases from Arrow does for me is introduce me to films I may not have gotten to see in my younger years and bring them to the forefront. This is definitely true of this horror film from 1988, the story of a band of survivors including a sheriff’s deputy, some escaped prisoners and two young girls who find themselves trapped in a mine shaft underground, prey for some cannibalistic humanoid underground dwellers. Yes, C.H.U.D. for anyone that gets the reference! The story is simple and, although the movie was made in 1988 and didn’t see release until 1993, this movie is fun in a schlocky Troma fan sort of way. The features are full of interviews and behind the scenes with writer and director Leszek Burzynski as well as cast and crew to give insight to why this classic has been hidden for so long.

Woody Guthrie: All-Star Tribute Concert 1970 – The origins of mainstream folk music has been something a little lost on me but one name I do know is Woody Guthrie and his influence on a lot of the artists I grew up listening to and his lasting effect to this day with bands like Mumford and Sons and even Kings Of Leon. Guthrie set the framework. Narrated by Peter Fonda, this documentary takes a look at the concert organized in 1970 to showcase the talent of the legend who had passed away three years prior. The one night only concert featured his son Arlo, Joan Baez, Pete Seeger, The Band and more and was used to raise money and awareness for Huntington’s disease, which took Woody’s life. The special features include rehearsal footage that has never been seen previously.

Television:

The Loudest Voice (Showtime) – Just looking at the trailer and glimpsing Russell Crowe in full makeup and fat suit to play now fallen media mogul and monster Roger Ailes is an incredible accomplishment because we know without a doubt that the actor in the role won’t distract us from the story, just like Adam MacKay and Christian Bale did in Vice. The true story of this is something we all know about a little, this seven part series takes a deep look at Ailes, the founder of Fox News, more to the point, focusing on the past decade in which Ailes arguably became the Republican Party’s not so hidden spokesperson and the sexual harassment accusations that brought his career to a crashing and deserved end. Featuring Sienna Miller as Beth Ailes, Naomi Watts as Gretchen Carlson and character actor Simon McBurney as Rupert Murdoch, you know this is going to be can’t miss television.

Years And Years (HBO) – A brand new co-production between HBO and BBC, this series was created by the mind behind Queer As Folk as well as most of the modern day Doctor Who, Russell T. Davies which means it has me as a viewer hook, line and sinker. It stars Emma Thompson as Vivienne Rook, an outspoken celebrity businesswoman turned political figure whose controversial opinions divide the nation but, beyond that, its also about a Manchester-based family who acts as the microcosm of results and consequences of Rook’s political moves, told over a fifteen year period. The scope of this show is huge but to show it in the little arc of one middle-class family is fascinating.

Point Blank (Netflix) – If you are looking for that action movie fix then Netflix is bringing you some gold nuggets with the dropping of this new film starring Anthony Mackie and Frank Grillo. Directed by Mayhem and Everly director Joe Lynch, this film has a desperate man on a mission to save his pregnant wife from gang members and crooked cops. Looking for the best help possible, he breaks an injured thug out of the hospital to form an alliance to take everyone down. The geek in me, which is a large portion, gets really excited about the collaboration of Mackie and Grillo because, if you think about it, this is a good guy and bad guy team up between the Falcon and Crossbones from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The Taco Chronicles (Netflix) – I’m not a foodie by any means. Don’t get me wrong, I do love to eat and enjoy the hell out of a great meal but it’s not an obsession. On the other hand, if you put Mexican cuisine in front of me my eyes light up like fireworks because that is my number one and the fact that Netflix has a new docuseries about tacos, well, I’m in love. Yes, we’re going through everything taco related in this show. Talking about its history, significance in Mexico, global appeal and varieties like pastor, carnitas, canasta, asada, barbacoa and guisados, oh man, I’m starving just thinking about it let alone typing it out.

Shangri-La (Showtime) – A fascinating new music docuseries, this will appeal to any music fan because it is focusing on one of the greats, producer Rick Rubin. Told in four parts, it makes a creative conversation delving into the emotional side of music-making using Rubin’s iconic Malibu, CA studio as the backdrop and his history as a legendary music producer and the Def Jam Records co-founder. I’ve always been really interested in the moves Rubin has made, his music philosophy and his drive to keep creating, collaborating with artists that break the mould of the conventional on a regular. Kind of like The Defiant Ones on HBO, this will hold that audience in its palm.

New Releases:

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

Midsommar – If there was a movie that I would put at the top of my list of anticipated films this year this would be number one with a bullet. The sophomore film from Hereditary director Ari Aster, the main details of this movie have been kept very under wraps, the trailer even giving a foreboding sense of mystery in a brilliantly bright wrapper. From what I can glean, the story is about a couple who travels to Sweden to visit a secluded town’s fabled mid-summer festival and what was thought to be an idyllic retreat quickly devolves into an increasingly violent and bizarre competition at the hands of a pagan cult. From everything I’m hearing, this may be on par with the 1970s thriller The Wicker Man and, oh boy, does that excite me!

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

Blu-Ray:

The Poison Rose – Sometimes a trailer will draw you in to a movie, intriguing you to the point that you make an immediate mental note that this is the movie you want to check out and other times the ad is so awful that you wish it was never made and you feel sorry for anyone who took part in it. Well, this movie speaks to the latter half of the equation but I’m still dying to see it because it looks so terrible. Inspired by some classic film noir, John Travolta plays Carson Phillips, an ex-football star turned PI who has a soft spot for a lady in distress, the one in question being Famke Janssen. Everyone looks like they did this for the money. Travolta has a ridiculous southern accent, Famke looks like she’s floundering and Morgan Freeman is a supporting role? Yeah, train wreck but I can’t look away.

The Beach Bum – Oddball writer and director Harmonie Korine returns to follow up the fantastic Spring Breakers with a Matthew McConaughey character piece and I am definitely here for it. The movie is about Moondog, an ageing stoner who spends his existence rolling around South Florida in a stupor, getting every drop of partying he possibly can. Look, I’m perfectly aware that not everyone is going to dig this movie and you can just look at Korine past films fro the barometer of if you’ll hate this movie as the man wrote Kids, made Gummo and Mister Lonely, two stories that are destined to trigger a disgusted or angry reaction. The gist of this is to just be wary of checking this one out.

The Best Of Enemies – On the outside, this film looks really interesting as it stars Golden Globe winner Taraji P. Henson and Sam Rockwell as civil rights activist Ann Atwater and Exalted Cyclops of the Ku Klux Klan C.P Ellis respectively about the showdown between the two in Durham, North Carolina over school integration in 1972. The film comes from a first-time filmmaker and should excel by the sheer power of the leads alone but it just kind of fizzles I think. This may be due to the fact that, although this is a true story, the take on it and the treatment of that reality seems so far off of anything that is easy to swallow. It just feels whitewashed, wrong and forcing us to feel any sort of redemption for Ellis is, at its core, completely ridiculous.

The Public – Emilio Estevez follows up his indie darling The Way with this socio topical film that is very fitting in the conversation of our times. The film takes place during a cold snap in Cincinnati with Estevez and Jena Malone playing two librarians who find their public library occupied by a group of homeless people looking to escape the cold. Tensions begin to rise leading to a police standoff with the leader of the group played by the incredible Michael Kenneth Williams from The Wire. With the calibre of stars in this, which also includes Alec Baldwin and Orange Is The New Black’s Taylor Schilling, this might be one of the top dramas this week.

Escape Plan: The Extractors – Who would have thought that a forgotten collaboration between mega action stars Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone would spawn a little direct to video franchise? Well, here we are with the third movie in this series now, with Stallone taking the lead and adding former WWE superstar and current action heavyweight Dave Bautista in the last movie and former nineties heartthrob Devon Sawa to this one. These may not be any sort of amazing award-winning films but they do fill the void of mindless action films with a bit of budget to play with. Beggars can’t be choosers.

Okko’s Inn – More anime floated my way this week, this one again playing into the emotional side of the genre. The story follows Okko, a young girl who, after losing her parents in a car accident, starts living in the countryside with her grandmother, the proprietor of a traditional Japanese inn. While she prepares to be the next owner of the inn, Okko finds that she can somehow see friendly ghosts. Different than a lot of the anime films I’ve watched lately, this one felt packed with excitement and solid storytelling which had me engaged throughout. For those who follow my weekly blog here, this is a huge development. I may actually be starting to get it!

Steve’s Blu-Ray Geekout:

Rider On The Rain – It seems like the common ground between last week’s Geekouts and this week’s is Charles Bronson as I bring another one of his classic but ultimately forgotten movies, the difference being that this film is a mystery thriller. All transpiring on a train in France, this movie has Bronson as a U.S. Army colonel who takes it upon himself to track down a crazed rapist who is running rampant. This movie intrigues me massively as it comes from writer Sébastien Japrisot who’s source material of books and stories has brought us films like The Lady in the Car with Glasses and a Gun, One Deadly Summer and my favorite romance film of all time A Very Long Engagement. It’s also interesting to note that Bronson loved this movie so much that he campaigned to get it remade by Cannon Films in 1983, which unfortunately never happened.

When A Stranger Calls Back – Following up one of the greatest babysitter horror films of all time, this movie doubles down on its 1979 predecessor but is a bit limited due to it being a TV movie. Carol Kane and Charles Durning reprise their roles from the original movie which follows the unfortunate path of being a sequel of lesser return, although I still find it pretty entertaining. Beyond that, and some extra fun, this movie was riff tracked by the original guys at Mystery Science Theater 3000 which in my opinion is a huge honor.

Television:

Stranger Things: Season 3 (Netflix) – This seems like a week of gifts for me as I’ve been waiting for the latest season of this with such a pent up anticipation because I think it’s my favorite thing that Netflix has ever done. This new season centers around the new mall that opens in Hawkins, a venue that quickly becomes the new sinister setting for our young heroes to take on the next evil trapped in our world from the “Upside Down” after the events of the previous season. Not much info has been given other than the two short trailers but they added 80s stalwart Cary Elwes to the cast, Steve is now a more central role, which I love and it has that beautiful nostalgic look to it. I am excited to binge.

Into the Dark: Culture Shock (Hulu) – A brand new horror anthology series that has been streaming in the US, I bring attention to this, the tenth episode, as it is an important one to our local filmmaker talent as Gigi Saul Guerrero of Luchagore Productions directs this episode, someone I’ve had the extreme pleasure of interviewing for a podcast. Sure to be sick and twisted, this episode follows a young Mexican woman in pursuit of the American Dream, who crosses illegally into the United States, only to find herself in an American nightmare. Featuring Mayans MC’s Richard Cabral and X-Men’s Shawn Ashmore, this hopefully will be something that puts Gigi on producer’s radars in a big way.

Young Justice: Outsiders (DC Universe) – Almost ten years ago DC Animation made a new and pretty gritty series about the Teen Titans, reformed to be a younger version of the Justice League and, as a comic fan, it was awesome. Then, after three seasons, they did the unthinkable and cancelled the show at the height of its popularity. Now, thanks to their new DC Universe streaming service, they made the right decision and resurrected this amazing series and I couldn’t be happier. If you love comics and cartoons then you must be just as elated as I am.

Divorce: Season 3 (HBO) – A show that has managed to keep totally under the radar in my opinion, this series, led by Sarah Jessica Parker, is now picking up some clout heading into the newest season. The show is essentially a dark comedy about the long drawn out divorce between Parker’s character and her soon to be ex-husband played by Thomas Haden Church, a personal favorite. Featuring a supporting cast of Molly Shannon, Tracey Letts, Talia Balsam and Becki Newton, I feel at a loss to why I have never picked up on this show until now but I will be picking up the first season now to get caught up.

New Releases:

Annabelle Comes Home – I can’t believe we’re already at the third Annabelle movie but here we are. The series started horribly but Creation proved to be a really entertaining horror film so to up the ante this time Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson’s Lorraine and Ed Warren take center stage for this installment as the doll in question finds it’s way to their artifacts library where it wreaks havoc by waking all the other evil contained there. The movie is directed by the writer of the last movie as well as the new iteration of Stephen King’s It and I have faith that this will be some fun scares for audiences. (Not opening in Hamilton)

Yesterday – Image a world where you were a musician that was the only person who could remember the existence of The Beatles and their music. That is the premise of this new Danny Boyle directed film starring Himesh Patel and the lovely Lily James and as a huge fan of the Fab Four myself I’m really excited for it as it celebrates the music of one of the greatest bands to ever live. The reviews are just above middling but I think there is a special nice who will really latch on to this film and, for the popular music fans, it includes a small role from Ed Sheeran that looks hilarious in the trailer. (Not opening in Hamilton)

Long Day’s Journey Into Night – This beautiful and complex drama caught me totally off guard with its wrought emotion playing so subtly under the surface until the passionate explosion in the final moments. The story follows a troubled man who returns to a small town he frequented in order to find meaning, which he connects to a woman he spent a summer with twenty years prior. Made by an ambitious new Chinese director Gan Bi, this film moves with the grace of a veteran filmmaker with gorgeous and expressive shots throughout. The film may largely come off as an arthouse drama but it’s appeal definitely wasn’t lost on me. (Only opening in Toronto and Vancouver)

Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind – Another music documentary this week following all the stellar ones we’ve received in the previous couple of weeks making it just a perfect time to get immersed in some music stories. This one focuses on the legendary Gordon Lightfoot, an artist said to be Canada’s greatest songwriter and I really have no argument against it. His songs are iconic and if you think you’ve never heard one I assure you that you are wrong. This film portrait shows the man for better or worse and with all his scars on display and the truth of this movie is something I absolutely loved about it. This is a special film and one important to all Canadiana. (Only opening in Toronto and Vancouver)

Blu-Ray:

Dumbo – Disney continues their big 2019 with the first of their three live-action updates of classic films from their animation library. This movie, being based on the original film from 1941, may only hold in the hearts of kids who are deeply immersed in the whole catalogue contained the iconic vault but for us adults in the know, we are aware of the importance of this adaptation. My reservations lied in the director choice of Tim Burton who hasn’t made a truly great film since maybe Sweeney Todd but this movie actually worked for me quite a bit and maybe it was from the restraint he exhibited. The reunion between him and stars Michael Keaton and Danny Devito was really great to see and Burton knows how to shoot his main lady for the last few films Eva Green so beautifully. This is a definitely winning pick to grab for the whole family this week.

The Hummingbird Project – A couple of years back I checked out a frozen but decidedly damaged love story out of Alaska called Two Lovers and a Bear from Canadian director Kim Nguyen and really enjoyed it. Now he’s back with a very American tale, about a high-frequency trader and his genius but autistic computer programmer cousin who decide to go into business for themselves and get a fibre optic line run from Kansas to Wall Street to get stock information a millisecond before anyone else, all behind the back of their ruthless former employer. This movie is all about performances, with lead star Jesse Eisenberg giving his usual neurotically nuanced delivery and Salma Hayek as their formidable foe. This one has to be handed to Alexander Skarsgard as the MVP, playing the autism spectrum so well and sporting a cul de sac of baldness against his usual beauty, and the supporting work from Michael Mando is fantastic. Really liked this one.

The Kid – Gathering some of the friends he made while making the remake of The Magnificent Seven, Vincent D’onofrio directs his first western, the second film of his overall, led by Ethan Hawke, Dane DeHaan and Chris Pratt as characters old west fans will know well. Told through the eyes of an orphaned young boy, we see the final encounters between legendary lawman Pat Garrett, played by Hawke, and Billy The Kid who is played brilliantly by DeHaan. This movie is all about great acting as every person seriously brings it and, interestingly enough, Pratt actually plays the villain of the movie, such a departure for the wildly popular hero star. Take this from me, western fans will not want to miss this one.

Furie – One thing that isn’t super popular among martial arts movies is an ass-kicking lady lead character to cheer on. There is, of course, the Sonny Chiba spin-off series Sister Street Fighter and the kill Thai actioner Chocolate and another handful but its slim pickings. This movie dispells that a bit by having a single mother who is the local debt collector in her village, a job she takes ruthlessly serious. When her daughter is kidnapped by some angry former clients, she must head to the big city to retrieve her and to deliver a beatdown to the perpetrators that will not be forgotten. The plot and script are pretty lax but the action is fast, hard-hitting and massively entertaining.

Cinderella – Another movie from the legendary Disney vault gets released today, one of the absolute favorites that everyone grew up on. This new edition, a part of their Signature Collection, gives a brand new restored version of the 1950 film, the ninth in this new Disney push, and while the audio and video portions of the film are unchanged from the Diamond Edition it does have some audio commentary which is comprised of recreated comments from directors and producers behind the movie as well as Walt Disney himself, a trivia track which plays with the feature itself and so many featurettes. This is a must own for all Disney fans.

Night Of The Creeps – I was so excited to receive the collector’s edition of this mid-80s horror classic as it is one of my favorite undead films of all time from one of the greatest writer-directors to ever get screwed out of Hollywood, Fred Dekker. Starring one of the best B-movie actors, Tom Atkins, this film takes place on prom night in small town middle America when an army of alien brain parasites take over, turning their hosts into unstoppable killing machines. This movie has moments of pure horror brilliance, plot twists that’ll shock you and lines that I quote to this day like “Thrill me” and “I got good news and bad news, girls. The good news is your dates are here. That bad news is they’re dead.” Such a prized possession in my collection now.

Steve’s Blu-Ray Geekout:

Cold Sweat – Heading back to 1970, before Death Wish was a mega-hit, Charles Bronson starred in this thriller for Wait Until Dark and multiple Bond film director Terence Young. The story follows an ex-military man who is forced to lead a smuggling job in order to free his wife and daughter from kidnappers. The movie wasn’t released in the USA until 1974, over three years after it was made, and immediately made it’s television debut three days later, destroying any chance it had for real box office returns. I have such a keen interest in this forgotten film as it is based on a story by Richard Matheson, the mind behind I Am Legend and A Stir Of Echoes.

The Emmanuelle Trilogy – A little while back Kino Lorber sent me these movies from their Kino Classic series and, I can’t lie, these are you basic French softcore porns. Consisting of Emmanuelle, Emanuelle 2 and Goodbye Emmanuelle, these films follow the title character, played by Sylvia Kristel, who, in the first film is the wife of a French diplomat in Bangkok ad embarks on a voyage of sexual discovery. The second movie ups the ante by having her return to her husband in Hong Kong and proceeds to have several extramarital affairs, this time with his knowledge to make things saucier. The final film, at least for Kristel because the character would carry on, Emmanuelle and her husband continue their amoral lifestyle in the Seychelles. These movies are nothing more than beautiful looking fluff but they captivated European audiences throughout the seventies.

The Brain – The cover of this weirdo little sci-fi horror movie had me transfixed immediately because it plays directly into my love of the 70s and 80s campy monster films like Ghoulies, The Stuff and It’s Alive. This one is about an alien organism that uses its host to brainwash the world through television, leading a teenager to take on the battle of destroying this extraterrestrial and saving the earth in the process. This movie has no recognizable names, the director hasn’t done anything you’ve heard of and the writer is an unknown as well but what this film has is cult status written all over it and deservedly so.

Television:

Curfew: Season 1 (Spectrum) – This is more of a “put this on your list mention” as it is playing on this channel Spectrum and the British network Sky but the cast has me so interested when I saw it mentioned in this week’s new premieres. Starring Sean Bean, Adam Brody, Billy Zane and many other recognizable faces, this movie is an action thriller about a group of amateur drivers from all over the world brought to compete in an illegal night-time street race so you know the character work is going to be fun, which is totally outing me as a Death Race fan, both original and Statham. That being said, the SYFY show Blood Drive was really fun too.

Legion: Season 3 (FX) – The final season of this mind trip of an X-Men related series is kicking off and it’s a great time to reflect on the awesomeness we’ve gotten so far. From the creative mind of Fargo showrunner Noah Hawley and led by the brilliant actor Dan Stevens, this is the story of David Haller, a troubled young man diagnosed as schizophrenic who discovers that there may be more to his condition including special powers that will change his life forever. I don’t want to give too much away about the central plot of this series because Hawley’s narrative drive is to take your head for a spin and I don’t want to take that away from new viewers. Just watch it!

Exhibit A: Season 1 (Netflix) – One thing is very certain when it comes to Netflix original series and that is that true crimes shows are the top go-to picks on the streaming service. This new show looks to take a bite out of that market as it follows controversial crimes through the lens of forensic science and, most importantly, the innocent people convicted of crimes because the science, which should have protected them backfired. This show may be opening a whole new can of worms, just like the Making A Murderer seasons did, but I’m more than intrigued to see their findings.

The Chosen One: Season 1 (Netflix) – This new Netflix six-episode series has made it’s way to our televisions from Brazil and seems pretty fascinating in its subject matter. The show is about three doctors who travel to the remote Pantanal, a natural region encompassing the world’s largest tropical wetland area in Brazil, to bring a Zika vaccine. There they clash with the village’s faith healer, inadvertently making an enemy of him in the process, pulling them deeper into the mysteries of his cult. The show looks so interesting and I have a real soft spot for foreign television, especially if it’s well made. This may be a hit.

Euphoria: Season 1 (HBO) – Now that Game OF Thrones has ended and Chernobyl made it’s run you didn’t think that HBO was going to rest on its laurels, did you? This new show is making big waves and is a teen drama looking with an unflinching eye at a group of high school students as they grapple with issues of drugs, sex, and violence. Starring Maude Apatow, which makes a lifelong Judd fan feel really old, Zendaya and The Last Ship’s Eric Dane, this series has been getting some really great reviews and it comes from Sam Levinson who directed the fantastic Assassination Nation last year.

New Releases:

Toy Story 4 – When it was announced that a new Toy Story was being written, slated for release nine years after the third movie came out, I was a bit skeptical. I personally felt like Toy Story 3 wrapped everything up quite nicely in a beautifully made film but the early reviews for this new adventure are hugely favorable. With the toys now with a new owner named Bonnie, gifted to her by Andy at the end of the last movie, they head on a road trip with a new created pal named Forky who ends up getting lost. This leads Buzz and Woody to go and bring him back to the family and I feel like everyone needs to have tissues handy for this movie.

Child’s Play – I really don’t know how to feel about this remake or reboot as I really enjoyed the direction that this Don Mancini created series was going with the comedy horror angle. Chucky, for me, is one of those iconic horror staples, especially with the voice of Brad Dourif but I’m willing to give this movie a shot, and not just because it was all shot in Vancouver. The “Buddi” doll in this new film is computer programmable, a gift that a mother (Aubrey Plaza) gives her son that gets possessed by an evil entity with the voice of Mark Hamill. That latter part is another reason I’m giving this movie a chance. (Not opening in Hamilton)

Anna – French action director Luc Besson is back with another woman led ass kicker movie. The film stars Sasha Luss, a relatively unknown actress who featured in Besson’s last movie Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets in a predominantly CGI role, but she looks totally badass in the trailer. She plays the title character, a beautiful and deadly assassin and really that’s all I know about it and with this great action director, well, that’s all you need to know. The rest of the cast is solid too with Helen Mirren, Luke Evans and Cillian Murphy. If you’re looking for more brainless stuff and can’t do horror, this is your ticket. (Not opening in Kamloops or Oshawa)

Blu-Ray:

Us – This is definitely one of my favorite films of the year, right now sitting at number one, writer and director Jordan Peele’s follow up to the amazing, massively popular and Oscar-winning thriller Get Out. The movie is about a black family terrorized by an opposite evil version of them, a family of doppelgangers, and I was hooked from the first trailer I saw and definitely deeper once I saw the opening scene. Peele is starting to build himself the moniker of the modern day mast of suspense and thrills like Alfred Hitchcock, which came in handy with the Vancouver shot reboot of The Twilight Zone. This is the high bar of this year to hurdle over to win my affections and now with the movie on demand and on Blu-ray, I can’t wait to hear people’s takes on its themes.

Wonder Park – Paramount really hoped that this film took off, about an amusement park that comes from the imagination of a wildly creative girl named June but, as she discovers, something she created as a child has become real in the forest near her house when she becomes a preteen. The voice cast features Jennifer Garner, Keenan Thompson, Mila Kunis, Ken Jeong, Matthew Broderick and John Oliver but looks like the lower than the standard fare we are used to from Dreamworks and Pixar. Unfortunately the movie never really had any box office steam and I think parents kind of ignored this film as the trailer is pretty bland.

Hotel Mumbai – Dev Patel stars in this true story film about the terrorist attack on the Taj Hotel in Mumbai focusing on the hotel staff that put their lives on the line to save others. Armie Hammer co-stars in this movie from first time writer and director Anthony Maras, relying heavily on the real transcripts from that horrifying day and the reviews are trending in a good direction. I think it’s fascinating that Patel stars in this AND the Best and Second Marigold Hotel movies. A very different experience, I assure you.

Under The Silver Lake – I have been waiting for this movie to debut ever since it screened at the Vancouver International Film Festival this past year because it is the second film from It Follows director David Robert Mitchell. Doing more of a noir mystery film this time, Andrew Garfield stars as an intelligent loner who becomes infatuated with a woman he sees swimming in the pool at his apartment complex. When she disappears he sets off on an investigation to her whereabouts across the weirdest and more dangerous parts of Los Angeles. The movie seems to be hitting the middle of the road as far as reviews go but its oddness is something that keeps coming up which makes me all that more intrigued. I love the weird stuff.

Run The Race – I now I’m the master of my own destiny but in the want to be fully inclusive of reviewing everything I threw in this blu-ray that Universal sent me and oh boy did I regret it. A faith-based film from producer Tim Tebow, this movie is about football, God and daddy issues, following two athlete brothers, one who has been sidelined due to seizures and the other who is the star quarterback. Right away, the pandering, wooden acting and melodramatic glossiness of the film turned me off and it got considerably worse as the film progressed. Is there a way that producers and filmmakers can make a movie that doesn’t feel like a religious commercial? I am literally begging for a writer and filmmaker to prove me wrong with something that doesn’t feel like it came off the recruitment assembly line because watching these movies is increasingly frustrating. Hail Satan in closing.

Crypto – I hadn’t heard of this financial crime thriller until I saw the new release list but the cast is really interesting, featuring supporting roles from Alexis Bledel, her husband Vincent Kartheiser, Jill Hennessy, Westworld’s Luke Hemsworth and Kurt Russell. The movie follows a young Wall Street banker who is drawn into investigating a tangled web of corruption and fraud in Upstate New York and investigating this movie is a bit perplexing as Richard Roeper seemed to really like it but it doesn’t look like anyone else does. Might be a warning sign.

Modest Heroes – More anime from Shout Factory found it’s way into my mailbox with this new film but this one is a little different as it is an anthology of three original shorts written and directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi (When Marnie Was There), Yoshiyuki Momose (visual effects on Princess Mononoke) and Akihiko Yamashita (assistant director on Tales from Earthsea). The movie takes full advantage of the short form animation and really delves into some emotional filmmaking, fleshing out a promising future for the latter two new feature anime directors. It exhibits the range of Studio Ponoc but also has a bit of a Twilight Zone flare to it as well, almost like an homage. I’m still a little out of the loop on the anime genre but films like this get me closer and closer to being a fan.

Universal Horror Collection: Volume 1 – This boxset got a little delayed as there may have been some sort of rights battle as it was supposed to be called the Bela Lugosi/Boris Karloff Collection but we finally have it, the four movie collector’s edition that has The Black Cat, The Raven, The Invisible Ray and Black Friday. Lately, with all these cool classic horror films being sent to me, I’ve been able to take a deeper look at the genre’s origins and it’s through the great special features that Shout Factory supplies such as the ones for this boxset like 2K scans of the original film elements, commentaries with film historians and so many featurettes. This is a treasure trove of Edgar Allan Poe and two of the greatest legends to bring horror to the masses.

Bertolt Brecht’s Galileo – This is one of two new releases I received from Kino Lorber Classics that are very different films for me to cover, a blu-ray issuing of some of what they call the “American Theater Films”. This one is a biopic about Galileo Galilei, the seventeenth century Italian who laid the foundations of modern science made himself one of the world’s first telescopes and discovered the moons of Jupiter. This version features a cameo by Sir John Gielgud, all filmed in a day, and the director of the movie Joseph Losey had also directed the original Broadway production of “Galileo”, twenty-eight years previously. Also, a nerd moment, Michael Gough appears in this movie in a major role and he would go on to be Alfred in the first four Batman movies.

Lost In The Stars – Continuing on the “American Theater Films” release path, this film is a musical based on the novel Cry, the Beloved Country starring Brock Peters from To Kill A Mockingbird. He plays Stephen Kumalo, a black South African minister desperately searching through back alleys and the dilapidated bungalows of Johannesburg for his son, Absalom. This is the only film in the American Film Theater series to get a G rating from the MPAA although the subject matter feels a bit tough for a general audience in my opinion.

Steve’s Blu-Ray Geek Out:

An Innocent Man – Remember when Tom Selleck was a leading star that could topline a theatrically released movie? Kino Lorber remembers and has put out this blu-ray edition of the crime thriller from 1989 co-starring the brilliant Academy Award winner F. Murray Abraham. Selleck plays a man framed for drug possession by a pair of dirty cops and exacts his revenge after being released from prison in this movie from Bullitt and Breaking Away director Peter Yates. Fun fact about the behind the scenes on this film, actor M.C. Gainey, who audiences may know from Con Air and Django Unchained, was high on cocaine during his audition for the role of Malcolm and still got the role maybe because of his highness.

Unstrung Heroes – Another Kino Lorber Classic, I remember this movie when it was released back in 1995 because it was noted that Seinfeld star Michael Richards was doing a more dramatic role right during the heyday of his hit series. This movie is the feature directorial debut of Oscar winner Diane Keaton and follows a young boy named Steven Lidz who is unhappy with his home life since his mother (Andie MacDowell) got sick and goes and lives with his two crazy Uncles (Richards and John Turturro). There he changes, gets closer to his Uncles and starts to grow into the man he will become but his parents want him home even though he is finally happy and popular. This is a beautiful but ultimately forgotten coming of age film that deserves more eyes on it.

Superstition – Shout Factory has issued this brand new special edition of this creepy witchcraft horror film that features absolutely no one anyone would know. The story is about a witch who is put to death in 1692 but swears vengeance on her persecutors and returns to the present day to punish their descendants. The movie is directed by James W. Roberson, someone more known as a cinematographer for television, and achieved cult status in the United Kingdom though it went by a different name, The Witch. The film was also listed on Greater Manchester Police’s list of films subject to seizure during the UK video nasty scare of the 1980’s, which was just an insanely weird time for horror films.

Television:

Dark: Season 2 (Netflix) – Coming from Germany, the first season of this supernatural based show was released just after the second season of Stranger Things, giving those fans something to tide them over for the long wait for the third season. The story is a family saga set in a German town where the disappearance of two young children exposes the relationships among four families. This is the first German series produced by Netflix and although it is a bit of a slow burn, the payoffs are fantastic and the character development is solid. This is some seriously creepy television that will get some love from the genre fans.

Riviera: Season 2 (Sundance Now) – Available through the Roku, this drama stars Julia Stiles and Lena Olin and comes from master filmmaker Neil Jordan who just astounded me with his new movie Greta. The story is about a woman who discovers her family’s lifestyle has been funded by murder her husband is killed in a yacht explosion, tearing her life apart, and seeks to protect herself and her grieving family. The show is a bit soaked in melodrama but Jordan’s knack for intrigue and thrills keeps you engaged for the whole series.

Yellowstone: Season 2 (Paramount) – If you are a big western fan then you need no more information about this series other than it stars Kevin Costner. For those who need a deeper reason to get immersed in this just know that the show was created by Taylor Sheridan, the mind behind Sicario, Hell Or High Water and Wind River, all incredible films. The show is about a ranching family in Montana who faces off against others looking to encroach on their land, including land developers, an Indian reservation, and representatives of America’s first National Park. The show has a lot of middling reviews but, let’s be fair, so does a lot of Costner’s work.

The Lavander Scare (PBS) – It’s really rare that we get something so interesting on the public broadcast network but this is an interesting one as it combines documentary with some high calibre reenactments through voiceover that includes the cast of Zachary Quinto, Cynthia Nixon, T.R. Knight and narrated by Glenn Close. The film is about some tragic history from when the U.S. was deeply embroiled in the Cold War and President Eisenhower deemed homosexuals to be “security risks” and ordered the immediate firing of any government employee discovered to be gay or lesbian. It triggered a vicious witch hunt that lasted for forty years and ruined thousands of lives but ultimately triggered what would become the modern LGBT rights movement.

Drunk History: Season 6 (Comedy Network) – If you have yet to catch a single episode of this madness from creator Derek Waters, the gist of the premise is that he gets a comedian pal sloppy drunk and then asks them to tell a story from somewhere in history then, to sweeten the pot for us viewers, he gets a cast of famous actors and comedians to reenact the story to hilarious results. I have loved every episode I’ve seen, all available on Crave, and have already been enjoying this new season which includes appearances by Seth Rogen as Victor Frankenstein, Chris Parnell as Carl Sagan and Thomas Lennon as William Randolph Hearst, just to name a few.

New Releases:

Men In Black: International – Seven years after the attempt to bring this franchise back with the lacklustre Men In Black 3 we are going for the reboot treatment with really no returning cast members except for Emma Thompson who only appeared in the last film. Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson reunite to take on intergalactic threats which may tie back to a mole in their own organization. I enjoy both actors a lot so I really want this film to work and rejuvenate this story but the trailers leave me with absolutely nothing aside from a hopefully funny animated side character voiced by Kumail Nanjani. I don’t really have enough faith in director F. Gary Gray to pull this off either.

Shaft – Speaking of rebooting a franchise, Shaft gets the whole grandfather, dad and son treatment with Richard Roundtree and Samuel L. Jackson reprising their roles as John Shaft I and John Shaft II respectively as they mentor John Shaft Jr., played by Independence Day: Resurgence star Jesse T. Usher. The twist is that Shaft Jr. isn’t a tough guy like his dad and grandpa but a cybersecurity genius and MIT graduate who must use his skills to solve the murder of a close family friend. The film is directed by Barbershop and Fantastic Four director Tim Story and while this movie is more playing to his style I just don’t have a belief that this will be anything beyond a vaguely entertaining film. (Not opening in Kamloops)

The Dead Don’t Die – Jim Jarmusch takes his hilariously deadpan style and applies it to a genre that always needs a bit of a fresh breath, zombie horror. Bringing some of his staple stars including Bill Murray from his film Coffee And Cigarettes, Adam Driver from his last effort Patterson and, of course, Tilda Swinton, Jarmusch crafts a small-town story of a zombie outbreak where the weirdo citizens have to band together to survive. This movie is definitely not going to rope in everyone as horror fans will be possibly put off by the dialogue style and, well, all of this great filmmaker’s movies have a less than mainstream appeal. I’m excited for it. (Not opening in Kamloops or Oshawa)

Late Night – Lots of great praise and reviews are coming in for this Mindy Kaling written comedy that she stars in as well alongside the great Emma Thompson. Thompson plays Katherine Newbury, a late night talk show host who is on the cusp of losing her show due to low ratings. Kaling’s character is a writer brought in a gender equality push by Newbury in an attempt to give a fresh rejuvenation to the show and the two slowly form a bond that might be the ticket to getting ratings back. The film is being lauded for its fresh comedy approach and Mindy Kaling’s storytelling shedding light on diversity in the high entertainment levels. I really hope this movie succeeds as I think it would do great things for how we look at race, gender and popular films. (Not opening in Hamilton or Oshawa)

Echo In The Canyon – Headed by Wallflowers frontman and the son of a legendary musician Jacob Dylan, this movie explore the Los Angeles area of Laurel Canyon in the 1960s, a thriving time of exploration, collaboration and a burgeoning rock and roll style. Through interviews with David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Tom Petty, Michelle Phillips, Roger McGuinn and more, Dylan helps give as an idea of what this time looked like, what we received from it musically and some really great insight into the personal friendships of some of the greatest musicians ever. Adding to that, Dylan and friends like Beck, Cat Power, Fiona Apple and Eric Clapton get together to cover a lot of this great music both live and in the recording studio. The soundtrack is available now and is just fantastic. Go see this movie then go get the album, you won’t regret it. (Only playing in Toronto, Hamilton and Vancouver.)

Halston – This seems to be a consistent thing as every time that I screen a new fashion documentary I say that I don’t really have any sort of invested interest in it yet each time I find myself engrossed in the subject matter. It just happened pretty recently that I watched the fil McQueen, about the late Alexander McQueen, and this one draws a comparison in completely different directions. While McQueen created his art and largely kept his persona subdued, Halston lived his art, flaunted it on his friends like Liza Minnelli and made sure he was the face of his company. Unfortunately, large corporate mergers, ignorant money men and even misappropriation of his name led to constant stress that might have led to his death. An interesting biopic and human interest story. (Only playing in Toronto, Hamilton, Edmonton and Vancouver.)

Blu-Ray:

Captain Marvel – One of the middle pieces along with Ant-Man And The Wasp to tide you over since a large part of the Marvel universe got dusted at the end of Avengers: Infinity War at the hands of Thanos, now we get to see the origin story of a galactic warrior in the comfort of our own home. Battling trolls even before she battles Skrulls in the movie, people were already throwing shade at star Brie Larson but I think she was perfectly suited to play the strongest character in the MCU. I also love that this story takes place in the mid-nineties and has a de-aged Samuel L. Jackson and Clark Gregg plus the villain is played by a great villain actor, Ben Mendelsohn. While this movie is not necessarily the strongest film that we’ve gotten in the ten plus years of Marvel Studios it is certainly an entertaining one.

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

Captive State – This movie looked absolutely fascinating and I have to say it was due to smart marketing with its trailers not giving a lot of exposition and doing almost what Cloverfield did with an alien invasion angle. The film takes place in Chicago ten years after it has been infiltrated and taken over by an extraterrestrial force. Now subservient to their new overlords, the film explores the human dynamics of everyday life, politics and the formation of a resistance. This definitely looks my type of movie through in through and I’m was excited about what Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes filmmaker Rupert Wyatt was bringing in this sci-fi mystery and the cast including Vera Farmiga, John Goodman Moonlight’s Ashton Sanders and If Beale Street Could Talk’s Kiki Layne was just icing on the cake. I never received this movie in theaters and finally got to check it out now and was so very disappointed. The film is a narrative mess that seems to meander constantly in its storytelling, almost to a point that I couldn’t tell who the main character was. The effects come across as either unfinished in the landscape shots and alien craft sequences and way too dark in the only instances where we get an actual look at the alien. What a waste.

The Mustang – I’ve enjoyed actor Matthias Schoenaerts work since I first saw him in Left Bank and since he did The Drop I think he’s made a stride into the North American cinema landscape and this film looks like it could further his leading man push. He plays Roman, a violent inmate who tries to find a path out of his rage through participating in an outdoor maintenance program training wild horses. Both Schoenaerts and co-star Bruce Dern are being praised for the film but it really was an unfortunate afterthought during awards season.

T-34 – A World War II tank film from Russia, this was an unexpected movie in my mailbox and good luck reading up on it if you surf onto Rotten Tomatoes because the page doesn’t exist. It’s supposed to but it’s a 404 Gateway error instead. The film follows a group of Russian POWs who are desperately escaping a German prison camp in a salvaged T-34 tank. The movie relies on the brotherhood between these characters and, although there’s no documentary confirmation of a Soviet tank’s escape from the German concentration camp, there was confirmed successful escape of Soviet imprisoned pilots leading by Michael Devyataev on German bomber in February 1945. If you dig World War II movies you will definitely feel this one.

Sinatra In Palm Springs: The Place He Called Home – More music documentaries but this one is focused on possibly the most popular crooners of all time, O’l Blue Eyes. In particular, this movie looks at his connection to Palm Springs, his home for fifty years of his life, a place that he also spent the time of his brief but rocky marriage to actress Ava Gardner. The Rancho Mirage, the name of his home, was what he called “My Heaven” and may even contain the ghost of the Rat Packer if you believe in that sort of thing.

Can’t Stop The Music – The Pride Month releases from Shout Factory continues this week with this big ensemble musical that acts as a biopic on The Village People in a way. With the disco group at the center of attention, the movie also features Bruce Jenner and Steve Guttenberg, the latter playing a disc jockey who gets a career break playing at the local club, Saddle Tramps. After writing a song about his roommate, a retired supermodel, he gathers enough clout to earn a record deal which stars his ladder to disco stardom. Unfortunately, this movie absolutely tanked at the box office and was always paired with the Olivia Newton-John film Xanadu, another critical and financial failure.

Frankenstein Created Woman – Peter Cushing playing Victor Frankenstein in a Hammer horror film. This is all a brilliant recipe to make classic theatrical monster movies but this one comes with a gender twist. This film features a freshly resurrected Dr. Victor Frankenstein who’s first dastardly plan is to transfer the essence of a murdered young man into the body of a woman which prompts an insatiable urge to kill all those around her. Legendary director Martin Scorcese actually lists this movie as one of his favorite in the horror genre and many laud it as one of the best of the Hammer catalogue with its freshness in plot and storytelling. You also win me over with Cushing in the lead. He was amazing.

Jeffrey – The second of the Pride Month movies this week, this dramedy has a pretty great cast with Steven Weber, Michael T. Weiss, Patrick Stewart and Nathan Lane. The movie, released in 1995, is about a gay man living in New York who decides to swear off sex at the height of the AIDS epidemic but immediately meets the man of his dreams afterward. Does he stay true to his commitment or pursue a relationship that could be worthy of giving everything up? Patrick Stewart, who plays the partner of someone in the terminal stage of HIV, read this script on the set of Star Trek: Generations and used the emotion from it to portray a pivotal emotional scene for it. Definitely happy to receive this important movie in the gay community.

Devil’s Kiss – A movie sent to me by Kino Lorber’s Redemption releases, this is the classic Italian “Satan’s minion’s” movie with a professor and a disgraced former countess who band together to use an occult spell to reanimate dead bodies to do their murderous bidding. The movie was made by writer and director Georges Gigo who had a very short career of only four films all revolving around the occult, demons and, well, women and brothels, kind of like a typical Italian man in the 1970s. This movie is full of camp, paint like red blood and lots of nudity, the perfect movie to riff on with a group of friends like you’re doing your own Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Steve’s Blu-Ray Geek Out:

Green Card – Remember when American cinema was pushing French legend and plane urinating champion Gerard Depardieu as an A-list star? Well, this is one of the movies that came from that time and it holds up as a sweetheart of a film with Andie MacDowell, directed by one of the great Australian directors Peter Weir. The film has Depardieu as a French man who agrees to a marriage of convenience in order to stay in the United States and, obviously because this is a rom-com, the feelings grow into a real relationship as the story progresses. Fun fact, and totally against the norm of Hollywood, Weir asked MacDowell to gain weight for the movie instead of losing it.

Grave Of The Vampire – Another seventies vampire film from the vaults of Shout Factory, this movie doesn’t really have any stars of note and the lead billed actor only has thirty minutes of screen time but it is a disturbing little b-movie entry. The movie follows the legendary vampire Kroft who descends on a graveyard after a long slumber, attacking a couple, assaulting the woman and impregnating her. The child that comes from this is an imp of a vampire, feeding only on the blood from his now living dead mother. Yes, this movie is all kinds of messed up, I wonder why we ever really heard about it before.

The Manitou – Speaking of weird little horror films, we go back to 1978 for this story of psychics, grotesque body lumps and four hundred-year-old Native American demons. I’m definitely getting weird with the Geek Outs this week but as soon as this one crossed my doorway I knew it’d be fun. For some real-life weirdness, the director of this movie William Girdler was actually killed before the release when his helicopter crashed as he was scouting for his next movie. Unfortunately, the film wasn’t a huge success or memorable but they did hand out barf bags at the premiere. Classy.

Bachman – Definitely one of Canada’s greatest living musicians, Randy Bachman gets the full documentary treatment in this short new film from John Barnard who directed the Sheepdogs doc Have At It in 2012. The focus of this movie is to follow Bachman as he writes his newest song and also take a trip down memory lane featuring rarely seen footage, pictures and archived documents that had been stored in our nation’s capital for decades. This movie has interviews with some of the other greats we have here like Neil Young, Sam Roberts and Buffy Sainte Marie, people from the press like Terry David Mulligan and, a personal favorite also from Winnipeg like Bachman, Chris Jericho. This is a really great week for music documentaries on What The Hell Should I Watch.

The Big Clock – A late arrival I received from Arrow Video, this film noir crime thriller comes from 1948 and features one of Paramount’s most bankable and durable stars Ray Milland, Tarzan’s Jane, Maureen O’Sullivan and Spartacus actor Charles Laughton. The film follows a greedy tycoon who frames an unknown and innocent man for a murder he committed. Unfortunately for the man bent on ruining his life, the falsely accused has enough wherewithal to start investigating the charge himself. Funny enough, Kevin Costner’s “No Way Out” is actually a remake of this film.

Television:

Marvel’s Jessica Jones: Season 3 (Netflix) – The final Marvel series available on Netflix takes its bow with one of my favorites, the tough-willed, super strong and heavy drinking private investigator. Kristen Ritter has really owned this role, an absolute comic fan favorite, giving her a texture onscreen of an embattled woman that has fought her way through memory loss, abuse and post-traumatic stress.I’m really looking forward to how this season with deal with the final resolution of this character and what other Marvel characters it will introduce along the way. Heck, as a comic fan this is what I look forward to with all the shows. It was really a golden Netflix time and now it’s over.

Trinkets: Season 1 (Netflix) – This is kind of my wild card this week because it’s a teen drama so it could really go either way. Brianna Hildebrand who played the angsty Negasonic Teenage Warhead in the Deadpool movies, stars in this series about three girls who meet in Shoplifters Anonymous and become friends. The reason I’m interested in this one is it kind of gives me a Nick And Norah’s Infinite Playlist vibe, which is fitting as the creators directed Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List, based on a book by the same author.

Absentia: Season 2 (Amazon Prime & Showcase) – Canadian actress and former Castle star Stana Kati stars in this crime drama about an FBI agent who is declared dead in absentia, otherwise known as a legal presumption of death, and must fight to reclaim her family, identity and innocence when she finds herself the prime suspect in a string of murders. The show, produced in a co-production with Israel and the US, was a difficult shoot because all ten episodes of the first season were filmed simultaneously based on location. It was filmed like a movie over three and a half months in the middle of winter.

Too Old To Die Young: Season 1 (Amazon Prime) – This collaboration between one of my favorite filmmakers ever Nicholas Winding Refn and one of the greatest comic writers to be printed Ed Brubaker has been brewing for a while and I’ve been not so patiently anticipating it. Miles Teller, William Balwin, John Hawkes and Jena Malone star in this new series about a young Los Angeles detective who lives a double life as a vicious hitman. The two parallel existences start to crumble his reality and blur his perception of reality as he falls deeper into violence. This show is not going to be for those with a weak stomach and will most likely find a niche audience.

Los Espookys: Season 1 (HBO) – After Portlandia thoroughly made me laugh my ass off, I’m totally willing to always watch anything Fred Armisen does without a doubt and this weird new comedy is a great example. With Armisen in the lead, the show is about a group of horror fans who turn their love of the genre into a business that’s sole purpose is to provide “scares fro the needy” by travelling to a weird Latin American country where the strange and eerie are just part of the normal everyday life. The show may be a bit too quirky to nail down a regular audience but it could also become a comedy cult classic.

New Releases:

The Secret Life Of Pets 2 – Illumination Entertainment brings out this new sequel, one that isn’t connected to their Despicable Me franchise and all without the problematic Louis CK providing the lead voice, this time around being replaced by one of the good guys, Patton Oswalt. All the other favorites have returned including Eric Stonestreet, Jenny Slate and Kevin Hart along with newcomers Tiffany Haddish and Harrison Ford, so all the kids should be happy and I actually thought the first movie was pretty fun so I have good expectations for this follow-up. Illumination could be looking at their next monster franchise if all goes well.

Dark Phoenix – I haven’t had any faith in an X-Men movie since Bryan Singer ripped the reigns of the franchise back from director Matthew Vaughn after First Class, which was phenomenal, to make Days Of Future Past which was a film that crumbled under the weight of simply deconstructing it after my viewing. Then came Apocalypse, which was a dismal piece of convenient plot piece garbage and now we have this new film, the end story to this long-running Marvel created story and directed by producer Simon Kinberg, who I think is the reason, along with Singer, that this series took such a nosedive. So, where are my hopes with this movie? About ankle height. Yes, this may be total crap again.

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. (Only opening in Toronto and Vancouver)

The Tomorrow Man – Two stellar actors in John Lithgow and Blythe Danner lead this lighthearted romantic drama about two ageing people who have seemed to have given up on love and friendship. Lithgow plays Ed, a recluse who is constantly preparing for the end of the world, constantly buying provisions to stock in his bomb shelter at the local grocers, the place he spots Blythe Danner’s character Ronnie, who works at the local knick knack shop, buying things she will never use. Ed eventually steels up enough nerve to ask Ronnie out and the odd relationship of feeling out each other’s quirks begins. The story feels a bit standard but these two veterans are really what the draw is here because they make every moment of the film feel so deeply meaningful. (Only opening in Toronto and Vancouver)

The Souvenir – This is a really interesting film as it has Tilda Swinton playing mother to her real-life daughter Honor Swinton Byrne in a story about a young film student in the early 80s who becomes romantically involved with a man who sends her life into chaos. Coming of age dramas can be hit or miss but the narrative moves a bit differently in this movie as it is a semi-autobiographical film for director Joanna Hogg. Swinton Byrne feels like an established veteran already, handling the emotional heavy lifting that shows the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree or other metaphors of that nature. (Only opening in Vancouver)

Wild Nights With Emily – This is without a doubt one of the weirdest approaches to a biopic I’ve ever seen but Molly Shannon plays famed recluse poet Emily Dickenson in this film that hugs the line of being an odd duck hysterical comedy and a life story. First off, that “recluse” stuff seems to be a complete and utter fabrication according to this movie, lies to smear the gifted writer and prevent her works from being published, another false rumor that this movie seeks to dispell. Featuring a brilliant performance on the opposite of Shannon, Amy Seimetz plays Mabel, her nemesis whose only goal is to destroy her reputation through misinformation. This movie is odd, quirky and totally fascinating, something that would pair perfectly with Cynthia Nixon’s portrayal of Dickenson in Terence Davies A Quiet Passion. (Only opening in Toronto and Vancouver)

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

Blu-Ray:

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

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

JT LeRoy – Before even really paying attention to what the premise was for this film, I was captivated by the two lead stars Kristen Stewart and Laura Dern, although the name JT Leroy seemed so familiar. It turns out that this soul-wrenching and inspirational writer who turned out to be a total fraud was behind a movie that astounded me years ago, The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things, the debut of Asia Argento as a filmmaker. Well, this movie is about exactly that, the creation of a false persona to be used in public by the writer behind Leroy, Laura Albert, and the woman that was used to be “his” body, Savannah Knoop, who wrote the book this movie was based on. And yes, they cover the Argento movie with Diane Kruger playing that character in a possibly detrimental way to the real-life person. I found this film absolutely fascinating and it is a damn fine chemistry of performances from Dern and Stewart.

The Man Who Killed Don Quixote – After a long twenty-five years of trying to get his white whale, a Don Quixote movie made, one version of it documented in the tragically hilarious documentary Lost In La Mancha, his vision has finally arrived for us. The movie has Adam Driver as an entitled commercial director who returns to the Spanish village he shot a low budget Don Quixote film in only to find his lead star still living the role. As he joins him for an insane adventure, he begins to feel the connection to the land, the story and the life of Quixote that he had long forgotten. I think the biggest problem with the movie is that it comes after a decade and a half of anticipation and its never going to be exactly what you wanted. It feels disjointed and haphazard at times with erratic cuts and seemingly odd plot holes but it exudes Gilliam’s charm and originality as a filmmaker and for that reason alone I celebrate this achievement. He finally did it and I’m proud of him.

The Haunting Of Sharon Tate – This year is going to be a big one when it comes to anything dealing with Charles Manson and Sharon Tate as we’ve already had former Doctor Who Matt Smith play him in Charlie Says and next month we had Margot Robbie taking on the Tate role in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood. The thing to know about this movie in particular right away is that it isn’t good. Hilary Duff plays Tate in this film and, well, she’s just not very good and neither is her co-star Jonathan Bennett. Usual television documentarian Daniel Farrands writes and directs this film, one of his three true crime adaptations and I really wish, for everyone’s sake, that he didn’t.

Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan: Season 1 – It’s been a movie lifetime of ups and downs for the government agent character of Jack Ryan as he rose to fame as Alec Baldwin, sustained it for a couple of films with Harrison Ford then plummeted with Ben Affleck then Chris Pine. Now, with this Amazon Prime produced series, he’s back on the upswing with John Krasinski in the role. The show is very solid and I’ve always wanted this character to succeed in some fashion and had no idea this would be it. Season two is probably going to be just as great too.

I’ll Take Your Dead – Another horror original from Shout Factory, this movie is also a Canadian one from Ontario writer and director Chad Archibald. The story is about a father and daughter who live in a farmhouse in the county where he disposes of dead bodies from gang-related murders in the nearby city and the daughter Gloria is convinced that some of the victims that have been dropped off are haunting their house. The movie suffers a bit in the script department but the blood, the atmosphere and the general plot keep you on board.

A Star Is Born: Special Encore Edition – A musician helps a young singer and actress find fame, even as age and alcoholism send his own career into a downward spiral in this third remake. This is an excellent movie, punctuated by brilliant performances from Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga with great music that will get caught in your head plus pacing and direction that keeps you engrossed, also by Cooper with the eye of master cinematographer Matthew Libatique. There’s such a pent up soul running throughout this film and feel it does real justice to the story, even if it’s one we’ve seen three times before. I know I’ve said all of this before, the only difference with this version of the movie is that all of the performances have been extended, adding another eleven minutes on to the movie.

Mighty Morphin Power Ranger The Movie – I can’t lie, when I opened the package from Shout Factory and saw this staring up at me my childhood screamed in excitement and, yes, I spent money to see this in theaters. The original incarnation of the iconic space ninjas hit the big screen in this mid-nineties hit to take on the dastardly Ivan Ooze and we were all here for it. Whether we were still rabid fans of the show, had a crush on Pink Ranger Amy Jo Johnson or just thought Tommy the Green Ranger was the coolest, this movie had you hooked and Shout Factory knows how to play into that nostalgia so brilliantly. This is one of those “gotta have it” nerd buys for sure.

Steve’s Blu-Ray Geekout:

The Iceman Cometh – A classic film released by Kino Lorber, this is a pretty interesting find just based on all the pieces involved. For one, it’s my first Lee Marvin movie in my collection, which is crazy that I don’t own Dirty Dozen or something yet. It was both the final film of The Wild Bunch’s Robert Ryan and The Best Years Of Our Lives actor Frederic March as well as a last minute lead for Marvin who was stepping in for Jason Robards. The movie is an adaptation of a popular Eugene O’Neill play and also has Jeff Bridges in an early role, one he had turned down initially before being berated by his former boss, The Last American Hero director Lamont Johnson.

The Vault – The weirdness in this thriller is off the chain and I absolutely love it. The main overarching story is about a bank robbery but that is merely just the tipping point of the story. The real intrigue comes from WHO’s bank they are robbing and WHAT is contained in the vault. Taryn Manning, Clifton Collins Jr. and James Franco star in The Signal director Dan Bush’s brand new horror mystery that has a trailer that will blow your hair back and the details of the plot are best kept under wraps as this is a story that evolves in some crazy directions. This is a genre mash-up that won’t rope in everyone but for those who want something a little different it will definitely quell that urge.

Brighton Beach Memoirs – Another one of those great entries into the Shout Select series from Shout Factory, this is a special film to fans of stage plays, screenplays and teleplays as this is a loosely autobiographical story from one of the greatest writers in history, Neil Simon. Jonathan Silverman made his onscreen debut as Eugene, a teenager recollecting his upbringing in a tight-knit Jewish family, going through puberty, sexual fantasies and having absolutely no space in a crowded house to call his own. The supporting cast features Blythe Danner and was part of the most productive part of Simon’s career where he made eleven straight films with producer Ray Stark including Biloxi Blues, Murder By Death and The Goodbye Girl.

Warning Sign – With Chernobyl dazzling audiences on HBO and The Hot one just debuting on Nat Geo, I thought it was a perfect time for me to bring this Shout Factory release starring Sam Waterston, Kathleen Quinlan and Yaphet Kotto. The plot follows an outbreak of a virulent bacteria in a secret government laboratory, which seals everyone inside after the security agents act on “protocol one”. Waterston’s character is the nearby town’s sheriff whose wife is locked in the facility and he is on a desperate rampage to get her out. Without giving too much away about this movie, I think it is pretty massively underrated and holds up the paranoia horror genre quite well.

The Grand Duel – A new special edition that I received from Arrow, I was really excited to get my hands on this one for a big reason. The film stars Lee Van Cleef, the legend who was in The Good, The Bad And The Ugly and Escape From New York. Better than just having him in the movie, he’s the hero, a gruff ex-sheriff who throws his hat in with a wrongly convicted man to take on the band of outlaws who framed him. Quick, simple and right to the point in an iconic feeling western storyline. Funny enough, for trivia sake, the music from this film was used by Quentin Tarantino in his Kill Bill movies.

Television:

Pure: Season 2 (Superchannel) – Making it’s shift to a brand new platform on Superchannel, this show is a homegrown series that should be on serious television enthusiasts lists. It’s the story of Noah Funk, a newly-elected Mennonite pastor, who is determined to rid his community of drug traffickers by betraying a fellow Mennonite to the police and Victoria actor Ryan Robbins excels in the lead role, the drawing point for every Breaking Bad fan to jump on it, he’s just that great. Christopher Heyerdahl from Hell On Wheels also features in this as well.

Fear The Walking Dead: Season 5 (AMC) – Let’s face it, at this point Fear is the best zombie show on television as the original incarnation of this series needs a little shot in the ass to get going again. The cast is flying on all cylinders with Lennie James’ Morgan being my absolute favorite at the moment but don’t let that take away from how stellar Alycia Debnam-Carey is on a consistent level. In a ramble of names, this show is always getting the best of the best as Garret Dillahunt, Jenna Elfman and Matt Frewer are still feature roles and the breakout star, Colman Domingo, is still killing it as Victor Strand.

NOS4A2: Season 1 (AMC) – From the mind of writer Joe Hill, the son of horror master Stephen King, comes this brand new series to bring vampire lore to a whole new level. Zachary Quinto plays Charlie Manx, an immortal vampire who feeds off the souls of children who finds his ultimate nemesis in a woman with a special ability that could threaten his entire existence. I’m already on board with the mere mention of Hill’s name, being that I’ve been waiting years for an adaptation of his popular comic Locke & Key, but even cooler is that this all takes place in the Stephen King universe, complete with small references to Maine towns and King-verse happenings. I’m psyched to see where this series will go.

The Handmaid’s Tale: Season 3 (Bravo) – The hit Margaret Atwood series returns again and will certainly keep it’s perch on top of the pack when it comes to award season because, let’s face it, Elisabeth Moss is just that damn good. My favorite trivia about this show (because you are going to watch it whatever I say) is the actresses have said that the head coverings they wear when they go outside are like blinders, completely cutting off their peripheral vision. The actresses can’t see each other unless they’re looking directly at each other. They have to act largely based on what they can hear. Fascinating.

Luther: Season 5 (BBC America) – I just love that DCI John Luther is a role that Idris Elba will always come back to because, besides The Wire, this role is one of my absolute favorites. The sad thing is that it looks like the four-episode season will be all we see of him in this tortured performance as that’s all they have in the cannon at this point, aside from a possible movie. I’ll take what I can get as this is a show that always delivers.