Steve Stebbing

Breaking down all things pop culture

New Releases:

The Angry Birds Movie 2 (Opened on Tuesday) – 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.

Blinded By The Light (Opened on Wednesday) – Music driven comedies haven’t had the greatest un this year with Danny Boyle’s world without Beatles movie Yesterday making a pretty short stumble at the box office. Hoping to break that mould of 2019, this film takes it in a different direction with a teenager learning to live life, understand his family and find his own voice through the music of Bruce Springsteen in n 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 interesting dynamic and the movie looks so charming. 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. I think it will be great. (Not opening in Hamilton)

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 advance reviews for this movie are 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.

47 Meters Down: Uncaged – Shark movies, it should be standard to have one each summer, right? I mean, just to keep Spielberg’s Jaws legacy alive and remembering 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 looks to ramp up the shark fear and intensity on a bigger scale but will it work or will it just be laughably ridiculous? (Not opening in Kamloops)

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

Cold Case Hammarskjöld – This is one of those interesting documentaries of the discovery of a deeper subject while investigating something that only turned out to be scratching the surface. Told by Danish director Mads Brügger as he dictates the events of an investigation into the death of a UN secretary-general to a typist, the film gives a point by point visual aide to a localized conspiracy with global implications. As their investigation closes in on some undeniable truths on the murder, they uncover a series of crimes far worse than that perpetrated by a government-created agency of mercenaries tasked with carrying out white supremacist orders in Africa. Although the approach to telling this story made it a tough watch for me, the information given in this film is grossly fascinating and absolutely terrifying in every way. (Only opening in Toronto and Vancouver)

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. (Only opening in Toronto and Vancouver)

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. (Only opening in Toronto and Vancouver)

Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am – Heading into this documentary, my knowledge of Toni Morrison’s work was slightly limited. I was a huge fan of the Jonathan Demme directed film Beloved, based on her novel and knew she was the frequent author of choice for Oprah’s famous book club. This film gave me a crash course in this gifted and important literary voice and Nobel Prize winner and, most importantly, it all comes from Morrison herself who tells her story to the camera, leaving no stone unturned. Including interviews with friends like Black Power activist Angela Davis, writer Fran Lebowitz and Oprah Winfrey herself, we get a full portrait of how pivotal she is to black literature, the preservation of it and the need to keep it on the forefront of history. As far as biographical documentaries go, this one is top notch. (Only opening in Vancouver)

Blu-Ray:

Avengers: Endgame – It’s finally on Blu-ray so I can relive it again and again and again! After over ten years of movies and one of the most devastating cliffhangers in any mainstream movie ever we were gifted the fates of the Earth’s mightiest heroes and the end or new beginnings for a large part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as both Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. have stated, no spoilers involved, that this is their final times in these bigger than life roles. Yes, Spider-Man: Far From Home is currently in theaters, Guardians Of The Galaxy Volume 3, The Eternals, Black Widow, Shang Chi and more sequels for Black Panther, Thor and Doctor Strange are still coming but the timeline going forward is still unknown. I have many thoughts and speculations to what could happen but I don’t want anything I say to be construed as a spoiler so get watching the home release so I can talk freely in about six months.

All Is True – Director Kenneth Branagh reimmerses himself in something that is comfortable and must feel like second nature to him, the works of Shakespeare. It comes with a twist this time as he takes on the story of the man himself and even dons the role to do so. The film depicts the final days of the iconic playwright, exposing his demons and his damaged relationship with his daughter. Co-starring Dame Judi Dench and Sir Ian McKellan, this movie may seem very longwinded for anyone just jumping into the story uninitiated but I found the movie fascinating, especially from the point of view of all of Branagh’s work behind him. It really feels like a capper to this portion of his career, like he is ending this story with the end of William Shakespeare himself.

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.

Shadow – Usually I’m on board with acclaimed Chinese director Zhang Yimou’s work from the get-go, whether it’s the high concept action set pieces like Hero or House Of Flying Daggers or thee stilled emotion of Raise The Red Lantern or Coming Home. As a viewer, he always has me in the palm of his hand but this new feature had to play a bit for me to get some foothold. Set during China’s Three Kingdom’s era, this is the story of a king and his people who will be expelled from their homeland if they don’t fight back to keep it. The king, his general and the women of the palace struggle to find redemption in a world where they have no place as a commoner called “Lord of all the world” might be the one to take them all down. For however long I struggled to make this movie work in my mind, the second and third act make up for it with crazy and bloody action all filmed with breathtaking expertise. Yimou is a master and he never lets you forget that.

New Amsterdam: Season 1 – Let’s face it. When it comes to medical procedurals they are kind of a dime a dozen and get instantly compared to Grey’s Anatomy or House M.D. and kind of brushed off. That’s what I thought when I received this new show from Universal, as, from the outset, it has that formula written all over the cover. Not to be confused with the Nickolaj Coster-Waldau series from over ten years ago, this show has BlackkKlansman’s Ryan Eggold as a new medical director who breaks the rules to heal the system at America’s oldest and most rundown public hospital, all while dealing with terminal cancer. The pilot was very intriguing and it also features Maple Ridge’s Tyler Labine in a plum role as a hospital administrator. I’ve enjoyed what I’ve seen so far and it earned the pick up for season two.

Steve’s Blu-Ray Geekout:

Silent Hill – Without a bit of hyperbole, I can say that this movie is the greatest video game adaptation ever made. The source material freaked the hell out of me when I had originally played it on Playstation and the film had the same effect on me when I saw it opening weekend in theaters. The atmosphere, the sound design, the visual effects, all brilliantly crafted by French director Christophe Gans to give you an experience you won’t forget. Now, thanks to those sweethearts at Shout Factory, we have a brand new collector’s edition because they know their fanbase and know that we needed this incredible movie back in our lives with all the goodies of great special features.

Shortcut To Happiness – Sometimes I am sent movies that I am literally looking at for the first time and usually they are films from before 1970, which is a weak point in my movie knowledge. Then there are movies like this one which I feel like I should have known because of the cast which includes Anthony Hopkins, Alec Baldwin and Bobby Cannavale. The movie is about down-and-out writer Jabez Stone, played by Baldwin who also directs the film, that sells his soul to The Devil in the form of Jennifer Love Hewitt for the purpose of fame and fortune. Why haven’t we heard about this? Well, according to Alec Baldwin, this movie was re-edited after it came into the possession of Bob Yari Productions, and no longer is anything true to its original form or to the Benet short story, The Devil And Daniel Webster. Baldwin requested that his name be removed from the credits as director and producer and instead this movie is credited to Harry Kirkpatrick. The end result though is kind of a hilarious trainwreck in all the worst ways.

The Chill Factor – Oh baby, early nineties horror, what a treasure trove this can be because it predates the resurgence that Wes Craven gave the genre in the middle of the decade, although this movie was never in the popular category. Starring no one you know, this is about a group of snowmobilers who become trapped on a lake and hole up in an abandoned camp. What they don’t know is that the camp was once used by a satanic cult for its rituals, and is still infested by demons, who begin to kill off the group. Yeah, this is like a cheesy demon movie made for B-movie fans like myself and a big reason why I’m so happy I liked up with a company like Arrow Video. They just get me.

Television:

Mindhunter: Season 2 (Netflix) – I feel like we’ve been waiting forever for this creepy look into the minds of serial killers at a time law enforcement was getting into profiling them. Executive produced and sometimes directed by the incredible David Fincher, this is the type of series that will keep you up at night. Starring Jonathan Groff and Holt McCallany, the show puts these two agents on real cases with real killers being portrayed and this season will bring in notorious names like Charles Manson to the fray. I seriously can’t wait.

Straight Up Steve Austin: Season 1 (USA) – Usually I wouldn’t bring a reality show to this part of the write-up but I am a wrestling fan and this is led by the biggest badass to enter the ring, Stone Cold Steve Austin so deal with it. The show has Austin in his element, hosting an interview-based series, chatting with some of his celebrity friends in exciting surroundings like Rob Riggle in a tank, Impractical Jokers’ Sal Vulcano getting some just desserts from the Rattlesnake and even some ATVing with “The Man” Becky Lynch. All of this is geared totally towards me so maybe this one is a little self-serving.

The Terror: Infamy (AMC) – It’s an all-new story for this sleeper AMC hit and I’m really excited for it because season one of this show is an absolute frozen gem that will chill you to the core with its monstrous tale. The second season takes place on the west coast of the United States during World War II and follows an uncanny spectre that menaces a Japanese-American community from its home in Southern California to the internment camps to the war in the Pacific. The reviews haven’t been as great for this season but the focus I find fascinating, especially as a fan of Asian horror. With George Takei and Torchwood’s Naoko Mori starring in it, I still have high hopes.

Succession: Season 2 (HBO) – I used to be so in tune with whatever HBO was releasing because everything had such a stellar quality to it that it was all can’t miss television so the fact that this one has flown outside of my radar is a bit sad. It follows the Roy family who controls one of the biggest media and entertainment conglomerates in the world and their lives as they start to make power moves in the hopes that their ageing father begins to step back from the company. It stars Brian Cox as the patriarch of the Roys as well as Kieran Culkin, Nicholas Braun and Jeremy Strong but the standout for me is Hiam Abass as Cox’s wife who constantly delivers knockout performance after performance. This is a winner for sure.

Lodge 49: Season 2 (AMC) – We definitely need more quirk in our comedy dramas and this show is totally indicative of that and I’m sure a large part of the mainstream audience has zero clue of its existence. Starring Wyatt Russell as the lead, Sean ‘Dud’ Dudley, a character that finds himself one day on the steps of Lodge 49, a dusty fraternal order that offers cheap beer and strange alchemical philosophies on the modern world, this show blew me away within twenty minutes of the first episode. The show is a fascinating blend of existential despair, wild ideas and a bit of redemption and I’m so happy to see it got a chance to further its odd folk tale. This is an odd one, so take it with an open mind.

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New Releases:

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 it’s 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 Kitchen – Based on a graphic novel from Vertigo Comics, a subdivision of DC Comics, this movie is going to be a great one. 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 fo Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish and Elizabeth 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. I’m really looking forward to this one and the trailer is dynamite.

Dora And The Lost City Of Gold – It feels like a long time coming for this educational kids franchise to make the leap to the big screen 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. All I can say in closing is you’re either going to take your kids to this or you won’t but please don’t read the Hollywood Reporter review of this movie because the critic went to some weird and inappropriate places with his thoughts. (Not opening in Hamilton)

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 looks like 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? I’m completely unsure about this and I don’t see it being any better than middling but there is a pretty sizeable built-in audience for this so I may be completely wrong about the want for this type of story. (Not opening in Hamilton or Kamloops)

Mike Wallace Is Here – In this time of demonization of the mainstream media and the vilifying of the truth from the big orange tyrant to the south, a film like this documentary is so important as it is the portrait of a giant among journalists Mike Wallace, a man with conviction that would ask all of the right questions whether his subject was prepared for it or not. He truly was the last gunslinger as far as unflinching journalism goes. This film floored me with Wallace’s incredible work showcased from his beginnings doing ad run television to his breakthrough show Nightly on ABC then to his life’s work heading the groundbreaking newsmagazine 60 Minutes. All the while I was watching this, and just like the Watergate documentary I had just ingested two weeks ago, the parallels to the current events is truly chilling. This is must-see right here. Get educated. (Only opening in Toronto and Vancouver)

David Crosby: Remember My Name – A story of remorse and regret built into a lifetime of brilliant music, many out there hate David Crosby including a lot of his former closest friends and collaborators and he is completely aware of that. Making no excuses, Crosby leads us through his life with his interviewer being director and former Rolling Stoner writer Cameron Crowe as they drive through Los Angeles and notably Laurel Canyon recounting his days in The Byrds, CSN, CSNY and his descent into ego, explosive rage, love, loss and eventually drug addiction. This is a deep dive into David Crosby’s psyche pulling back every emotional aspect of his life for examining. I was totally blown away by this documentary and to be honest I’ve been listening to his whole discography since. Damn, this has been an incredible year for music documentaries. (Only opening in Toronto and Vancouver)

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

Blu-Ray:

UglyDolls – I have to be honest about this one because when I first saw the trailer for this animated kids tale I couldn’t even find a thread of story to it. Now that we’ve gotten a little more information on it, the larger picture being that this is a big movie version of the popular stuffed animal line, I still have no plot beyond that. It seems to be a big vehicle for this cast that includes Kelly Clarkson, Pitbull, Blake Shelton and Gabriel Iglesias to sing vapidly catchy songs and spread the message of acceptance, that last part not being a bad thing just find a better way to deliver it. I don’t have high hopes obviously.

Poms – When I initially saw the premise for this new comedy my eyes rolled so hard that I was in danger of losing them from my skull, never to return to my ocular cavities again. Diane Keaton, Jackie Weaver, Pam Grier and more star in this hoping to be an inspirational film about a bunch of retirees who decide to form a cheerleading troupe in their retirement community. There might be a slight chance that this movie has a bit of charm to it, directed at a certain age demographic, but I have yet to find a Diane Keaton film in the last decade that was really worth the time and I highly doubt that this is the film to break that mould. It just looks awful.

Tolkein – Almost two decades after the Lord Of The Rings became a massive theatrical franchise from Peter Jackson, we get the biopic of the man who’s mind that Middle Earth came from, J.R.R. Tolkien, played in the film by Nicholas Hoult. Not looking into the years where he was exploring the battle for the one ring, this movie focuses on his formative and college years, looking into him finding love and his friendship with an outcast group of art students who would eventually inspire him as they would for a “literary secret society” together. Overall, I enjoyed the film and Hoult’s performance is well done as he continues his popularity climb in Hollywood but I felt like the focus of the story was so meandering and I was unsure what the goal was. Is this a story about the friendships he cared so deeply about, the love story he shared with who would become his wife or the formation of a language and universe that he would become known for. It all feels a bit like a mishmash of these points.

Pokemon Detective Pikachu – To be completely honest, Pokemon was really more popular with the generation after me but I still have enough of a knowledge of the massive video and card game franchise to totally nerd out when I saw the trailer for this and especially the Mewtwo reveal in the final preview. Now I feel like I lost a lot of you so I’ll bring you all back with Ryan Reynolds providing the voice for the titular detective as the main human of the film, played by Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’s Justice Smith, who is the only person who can actually understand him. All of that aside and fan of the show or not, this movie is actually pretty spectacular with non-stop action, beautiful imagery and a really fun script that will pull everyone in. Heck, after this movie you might just impress some kids with your new knowledge of the Pokemon universe.

The Curse Of La Llorona – Existing in the Conjuring universe from executive producer James Wan and company, we get a new ghostly horror film that takes place around the time of the first Conjuring movie with a connective tissue to the first Annabelle film as well. The story, set in 1970s Los Angeles, follows a social worker who finds her and her family under attack from a malevolent spirit who had previously terrorized one of the clients in her caseload to their demise. I like that the film stars Linda Cardellini, a huge draw for me but I really have to give some love to longtime supporting actor Raymond Cruz, who played Tuco in Breaking Bad, finally getting his first top billing in a feature film. Both of them are great, even if this film is a tad predictable, and even with that working against it I found the movie wholly engaging, stylistically interesting and featuring some very solid jump scares. With director Michael Chaves now being the guy to make the next Conjuring film I feel like the franchise is in the right hands.

Amazing Grace – Sadly, we lost the legendary and bigger than life singer Aretha Franklin just last August at the age of seventy-six so it was inevitable that we would get a documentary about her life and we do get a little glimpse of that here. Focusing on her performance with the choir at the New Bethel Baptist Church in Watts, Los Angeles at the beginning of 1972, we follow Aretha at the top of her game, a thrilling time for any of her fans. The movie is being called one of the greatest concert documentaries ever and you’d have to think that the film has been in development for a long time as one of the co-directors, Sydney Pollack, passed away in 2008. Well, in reality, Pollock was the guy who shot the whole thing in ’72, passing it off in 2007 when he became too sick to continue this film’s crusade to the finish line.

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.

What We Left Behind: Looking Back At Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – I am definitely not a big Trekkie by any extent but the one series that has always earned my love is Deep Space Nine and so much so that I consider it one of the greatest television series to ever hit screens. This documentary, co-directed by the creator of the show Ira Steven Behr, is a love letter to the third ever Star Trek series and, at the time, the most maligned and hated show by its fan base. It was obvious that the fans were obtuse to all the changes to what Star Trek was all about exhibited in the show, like no exploration, no real prime directive and the soap opera nature of the show but this seven season journey is a groundbreaker for the current golden age of television storytelling we have today. Fan or not, this documentary is fascinating and I didn’t even get to the original writers making a hypothetical follow up series decades later. So good.

Penguin Highway – More anime from Shout Factory and GKids with this new movie and this one is a bit more mature in its scope. The movie follows a fourth-grader named Aoyama-kun who investigates the mysterious reason behind the sudden appearance of penguins in his village, which is somehow related to special power from a young woman working at a dental clinic. Weird, right? Well, it gets more coming of age then that as at one point he questions why the young dental assistant’s breast makes him feel differently than his mother’s and he has odd run-ins with the local bully that goes in very strange directions. Honestly, this movie was the closest to me enjoying an anime fully but then it kind of lost me at the same time. Oh well, on to the next one.

Alice Sweet Alice – A brand new special edition that I received from Arrow Video before street date, this is a creepy little horror film from 1976 that was actually the debut of actress Brooke Shields. The film takes place in 1961 suburban New Jersey about a withdrawn adolescent girl who is suspected of her younger sister’s brutal murder during her first communion, as well as a series of stabbings that follow. The common ground with Arrow and this film is this is the same company that brought out the special edition of Bloody Birthday, another movie about homicidal kiddies, this rounds out a really great double feature in my opinion.

Steve’s Blu-Ray Geekout:

Winter Passing – This film was a discovery I made as a video clerk, the debut of writer and director Adam Rapp, a story about an actress played by Zooey Deschanel who returns to her hometown in Michigan to secure the rights of a book of love letters her father (Ed Harris) had written to her mother. What she finds is he has rented his house out to a couple of odd grad students and is living his life without a care for his ailing health. The movie came out during a period that supporting star Will Ferrell was doing phenomenal dramatic work like Stranger Than Fiction and this movie resonated with me beautifully. So happy to see this one on Blu-ray.

Fatso – I had never heard of this comedy-drama led by the great Dom Deluise but that is the great thing about these Shout Factory Select titles, as they give a spotlight to classic films that may not have been on anyone’s radar. Deluise plays a man who has a deep love for eating that must make some drastic life changes when his cousin dies from health complications due to a lack of exercise and improper diet. The movie delves into the struggle of following a new diet, figuring out the proper exercise routine and the brutal sweat of temptation. Co-starring Anne Bancroft who also wrote and directed the film, this movie is groundbreaking in that she used Brianne Murphy as the cinematographer, the first woman to shoot a major studio, union picture and it was released with Mel Brooks’ production company Brooksfilms.

The Green Inferno – This is a passion project fro writer and director Eli Roth that had a hell of a time securing a theatrical release and when it did it was out of theaters within two weeks, a total tragedy for horror movie fans. In an homage to Cannibal Holocaust and its director Ruggero Deodato, this film follows a group of student activists travelling to the Amazon to save the rain forest who soon discover that they are not alone and are captured by a tribe of cannibal natives looking for their next feast. This movie is sick, twisted and definitely not for the faint of heart at all which may have led to its early box office bow out but I really love this movie just because Roth is totally unflinching in what he will show on screen and his cinematic knowledge and love is always evident with every shot. I feel like this one will become a deep cult classic just like the movie it was trying to emulate and I think Shout Factory feels the same way I do.

Mojin: The Worm Valley – I was really wanting this movie from Well Go USA as it seems to be combining two things I really like, martial arts movies and monster movies but little did I know that it was a follow up to an earlier film, Mojin: The Lost Legend. The story follows legendary tomb explorer Hu Bayi on a dangerous mission as he seeks out the Tomb of Emperor Xian, located on an island of monstrous creatures. Everything about this sounds cool, a mishmash of cool genres directed at people who just want to be entertained. There are no huge stars and the director isn’t hugely experienced so just go into this one with an open mind and there is a book series this is based on as well for those who want a deeper dive.

Hold Back The Dawn – We’re getting some classic cinema in this batch of geek outs this week with this film that features Casino Royales’ Charles Boyer, mega Hollywood starlet Olivia de Havilland and Charlie Chaplin’s star Paulette Goddard. The film is about a man hoping to gain entrance into the U.S. from Mexico by marrying a citizen in basically Donald Trump’s nightmare film dating back to 1941. For a tidbit of cool old Hollywood trivia, this was the last script that the legendary Billy Wilder wrote and didn’t direct. Due to liberties taken with the material, he decided he would take control of his art so it was never altered again. Wilder was a genius and I love his resolve.

Television:

GLOW: Season 3 (Netflix) – I feel like I’ve been waiting for the latest season of this Jenji Kohan created show to arrive and it is finally here. To give a little insight into what it is all about, it follows Ruth, a struggling actress in 1980s Los Angeles who was having a hell of a time finding work until she came across the opportunity to be part of something new and different with the Gorgeous Ladies Of Wrestling, an all-women wrestling promotion. Now having found success, the whole group movies to Las Vegas to hit the big time and I can’t wait. As a wrestling fan already, I’m preconditioned to love this show but I think it has a lot of appeal beyond that because it is such a well-done show with everyone knocking their role out of the park, especially Betty Gilpin and Marc Maron. Get on board the GLOW train immediately, it’s fantastic.

Rocko’s Modern Life: Static Cling (Netflix) – For any of you nineties kids out there, the alarm bells must have gone off when you saw the title Rocko’s Modern Life and I applaud you for it because I loved that show too. This show is the jumping point for the creators who would later bring us Spongebob Squarepants and would prepare us for the insanity within that franchise by giving us the craziness that is Rocko and his pal Heffer. Now, twenty-six years after the original series debuted we get the return that sees the return of our favorites from space to resume their mundane and more modern life. This will only excite a certain demographic but consider me part of it.

Free Meek: Season 1 (Amazon Prime) – I love a good documentary series and this one is very interesting as it involves a high profile court case that captured North American with people arguing for either side even though it looks pretty clear cuts as far as verdicts go. The show chronicles Philadelphia rapper Meek Mill’s transformation from chart-topping rapper to the unflinching face of criminal justice reform. We also see Meek, his family and his legal team fight for his freedom while he was incarcerated due to a court system rigged against him and a judge trying to prove a moral point as well as reinvestigating his case which was filled with allegations of corruption. This is going to be a solid courtroom drama that has serious real-life ramifications.

BH90210: Season 1 (Fox) – Television fans from the nineties are going to be salivating for this show, including my own wife who is almost shaking with excitement. Although it is a bit bittersweet without the inclusion of the late Luke Perry, it’s pretty cool just to see everyone reunite for a little more closure, Aaron Spelling style. The series will focus on the original cast members of Beverly Hills, 90210, Jason Priestley, Jennie Garth, Ian Ziering, Gabrielle Carteris, Brian Austin Green, Tori Spelling, and Shannen Doherty, playing heightened, fictionalized versions of themselves. Having parted ways 19 years after the original series ended, they reunite to get a reboot up and running and must reconcile their new lives with the complications of their histories together. Seems weird in a way, right? From what I understand, Tori Spelling and Ian Ziering were the main force pushing to get this going so I just hope it was wall worth it.

Preacher: Season 4 (AMC) – One more kick at the can for Jesse, Cassidy and Tulip as they look to resolve all of their issues through as much violence as possible and really give it to God for unleashing Genesis on Earth and potentially ruining our heroes’ lives. This season will include some of my favorite plot points from the comic series by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon, a book I consider one of the best ever, as they head to the darkest swamps in Louisiana to seek out their answers. Seriously, this show is an adaptation I could only dream of and how well it has transitioned to the screen under the eyes of Sam Catlin, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg is more than enough to make this fanboy incredibly giddy. Can wait to see how it will all shake out by the end.

New Releases:

Fast & 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 going to be big, crazy and full of ridiculous action and I am here for every moment of this over two-hour extravaganza. Movie fans are going to be delighted with this one.

Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppable – Some people are just born superhuman. Whether its strength of mind, character, skill or of brute nature, people are incredible ad this documentary showcases just one person in particular. At thirteen years old, Hawaiian surfer Bethany Hamilton was on pace to be the best in the world when a tiger shark attacked her, taking her arm. Four weeks later she was in the water, training to surf with one arm. Now, at the age of twenty-six, she is on top of the surfing world and continuing to blow peoples minds. This documentary is a glimpse into how Bethany got there with her immense spirit and perseverance. This is a special film about someone who can inspire the masses, something that the kids should check out. It’ll turn some heads. (Opens in Toronto and Vancouver)

Blu-Ray:

Long Shot – I’m definitely a sucker for a Seth Rogen movie and a lot of the times the actors or actresses he is paired with adds to the draw, other than Barbra Streisand because no one should be subjected to The Guilt Trip. For this film, he stars with Charlize Theron in a romantic comedy about a hapless dork who finds himself reunited with the first woman he had a crush on, his former babysitter who is now embarking upon a campaign to be the next president of the United States. The movie was directed by longtime Rogen collaborator Johnathan Levine and I think it has rejuvenated the stale formula of the rom-com and made it more broadly pleasing. A little bit of a crude edge mixed into the great chemistry between the two well-cast leads makes this film a really funny two hours that will leave you smiling in the end.

The Intruder – A movie with a total weirdo trailer, this film has a couple played by Meagan Good and Michael Ealy moving into the country house of their dreams, purchased from Dennis Quaid’s character, a guy not really fully willing to give up his house. The movie gives off that stalker vibe with Quaid seemingly always hanging around in the background of shots for that easy jump scare and, really, that’s all there is to it. No thought or any inkling of brains went into this one other than Quaid giving a pretty gonzo performance in a film that doesn’t deserve it. This movie is at all times confused o what it wants to be. A horror? A thriller? A comedy? Softcore porn? No idea but it was terrible.

Domino – What in the sweet hell happened to Brian De Palma? He came from a school of elite filmmakers that includes Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg but hasn’t made anything noteworthy in over twenty years. The funny thing is I had no idea that this thriller starring Game Of Thrones actors Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Carice Van Houten was his movie until I looked into it and he may wish he hadn’t had anything to do with it. The film is about a Copenhagen police officer who seeks justice for his partner’s murder by a mysterious man with terrorist connections but the score is awful, the writing is confused and there is an odd ADR on every character. Don’t be duped by De Palma or Coster-Waldau’s names on this, it’s a giant turd.

The White Crow – I had no idea of this film’s existence when it was thrown on my doorstep but when I saw Ralph Fiennes name attached to it as director, as well as a small supporting role, I was interested. This marks his third time behind the camera, this film like his last is a biopic, the story focusing on an idealist dancer from the Soviet Union who longs to be an international star. To do this he must turn his back on Kruschev and his country and defect to follow his bright dreams. It all sounds good in theory but the story feels slow and plodding at an over two hour run time and unfortunately, the lead character Rudolf Nureyev is not likeable even in the slightest. Abrasive, arrogant and divisive, this may lend to how well first time actor Oleg Ivenko plays him but the movie just wasn’t for me.

Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie – Shout Factory has another Power Rangers movie? That’s right, besides having the 1995 big-screen version, every iteration of the television series and hopefully one day the reboot they have released this second film on Blu-ray for the first time and although many people are a bit clueless when it comes to this movie the fans that are in the know are celebrating this. The common bond that everyone could latch onto here, new fans and old, is the movie features the Jason David Frank played Tommy Oliver, also known as the awesome Green Ranger, although he is the Red Ranger in this. Confused? Me too but you know what? The movie is actually a lot of fun if you watch it with the right people, like my daughter the newly found Power Rangers addict.

The Leopard Man – Continuing the push on classic science fiction and horror movies, Shout releases the special edition of this movie from 1943 which was originally reissued in 1952 as a double feature with King Kong by RKO. The film pits man against nature as it follows a seemingly tame leopard used for a publicity stunt that escapes and kills a young girl, spreading panic throughout a sleepy New Mexico town. At just over an hour in length, this movie almost plays like a Ray Bradbury episode of extreme caution but exercised the rare notion of real-life horror in storytelling, which was rare for its time. The coolest thing about this Blu-ray is that it has a commentary track from William Friedkin, the legendary director of The Exorcist. Why? Who cares, it’s awesome.

Steve’s Blu-Ray Geek Out:

The Illusionist – I’m very happy to see this film hit Blu-ray as it was an insanely brilliant mystery that got lost in the shuffle of Christopher Nolan making The Prestige, another magician film that ended up overshadowing this smaller release. Starring Edward Norton, Paul Giamatti and Jessica Biel, this film follows a magician who uses his abilities to secure the love of a woman far above his social standing in turn-of-the-century Vienna and was my first exposure to the works of director Neil Burger in narrative film, who unfortunately kind of topped out with this one. This movie is a very cool watch and it’s fascinating to point out that CG isn’t used for the tricks but some real sleight of hand trained by British magician James Freedman and American magician and legend, the late Ricky Jay.

FM – Arrow Video and their releases do something to me week to week that I’m unprepared for. They educate me to movies I have never heard of and sometimes these movies become epiphanies of cinema love that I must impart onto others and this is a prime example. FM is anti-establishment and rebel attitude rolled into a late seventies romp. In short, it is about a mutiny that ensues when a radio station’s management decides to increase the number of commercials they play, including army recruitment ads. Rebellious DJs and other employees hijack the station and play only music before the authorities intervene and the classic battle between the free and the lawmakers begins. This movie blew me away with its cool factor and was the first cinema release to feature a song by Queen, We Will Rock You. Yes, this is a groundbreaking movie that you didn’t know existed. You’re welcome.

The Boxer – An almost forgotten Daniel Day-Lewis movie, something that sounds ridiculous to even type out, I wonder why no one talks about this incredible re-teaming of this legendary actor and director Jim Sheridan, the man that helped him get an Academy Award for My Left Foot. The film is about Danny Flynn, a man who is released from prison 14 years after “taking the rap” for the IRA and tries to rebuild his life in his old Belfast neighborhood. Co-starring the great Emily Watson, this film is full of nuance and brilliance with Day-Lewis going all method and training as a boxer for three years in preparation. As a cinema fan, there is no movie like a Daniel Day-Lewis movie so thank you Shout Factory.

Television:

Dear White People: Season 3 (Netflix) – Adapted from a critic lauded movie from 2014, this Netflix series is about a group of black students attending an overly white Ivy League college and sparked a boycott immediately with its season one, with people being offended over its trailer, calling it racist. Now we are at season three and this show keeps rolling with brilliant writing from the original film’s creator Justin Simien in a time that I think is so important for this show to exist. The more we keep the conversation of race going through media like this the more we may be able to affect some change.

No One Saw A Thing: Season 1 (SundanceTV) – An intriguing new docuseries that came out of the blue, this will be some bait for you Making A Murderer and true crime fans out there. This series examines an unsolved and mysterious death in Skidmore, Missouri, during 1981, after a resident is shot dead in front of almost sixty townspeople, who deny having seen anything. How weird is that premise? And to be a true story is just baffling to me. This comes from documentarian Avi Belkin, who has an upcoming movie called Mike Wallace IS Here later this month, but I’m all about this mysterious six-episode show. How can this be possible?

Four Weddings And A Funeral: Season 1 (Hulu) – Based on a massive hit comedy from the mid-nineties that help launch Hugh Grant as an international star, I’m really unsure of its shelflife in this modern time but mostly I’m concerned that it has zero relevancy to today’s viewers and wonder if any of it’s target demo will even know the original. Aimed at a more teen and early twenties audience, this is a direct translation of the film but shepherded to Hulu by Mindy Kaling which is really the biggest reason I brought this. Coming off the hit of Late Night, I really hope this one is good as I’m a fan of the source material.

The Red Sea Diving Resort (Netflix) – The market on Netflix original films is always expanding and this is the latest to land, a historical thriller starring Chris Evans and The Wire’s Michael Kenneth Williams from Gideon Raff, the creator of the Showtime series Homeland. In a nutshell, the film is a look at Israel’s Mossad agents and their attempt to rescue Ethiopian Jewish refugees from Sudan in 1977. With Evans and Williamsjust being the tip of the iceberg of talent in this movie, you would think that this is a solid pick for your weekend but the reviews have landed and they are a little tepid, saying that the character development is flat and the film doesn’t capture the genuine nature of the incident. Bummer.

Pennyworth: Season 1 (Epix) – The DC Universe related television series keep on coming with this new prequel show that has landed on the American cable channel Epix of all places. Not to be confused with the recently finished Fox show Gotham that had a younger Alfred Pennyworth, loyal butler to Bruce Wayne and medic and everyman to the Caped Crusader Batman, this show features Britsh actor Jack Bannon in the role, harkening back to his days working for Bruce’s father Thomas. The show will undoubtedly delve into Pennyworth’s past as a British special forces officer and looks quite intriguing. The reviews are favorable enough to have me excited.

New Releases:

Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood – When Quentin Tarantino makes a film everybody takes notice and his fan base, myself included, salivate in anticipation of it. Now with his ninth movie, he heads to an interesting time in Hollywood history with a very Sergio Leone movie title that speaks volumes to his reverence for the classics. The film, as usual, has a massive cast but the important names at the top are Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie in this story about a faded television actor and his stunt double strive to achieve fame and success in the film industry during the final years of Hollywood’s Golden Age in 1969 Los Angeles also against the backdrop of the Sharon Tate murder at the hand of Charles Manson and his followers. This has instant classic written all over it and is getting some awesome reviews.

Maiden – An inspiring story of perseverance and strength, this was an incredible documentary to watch. It follows Tracy Edwards, a troubled teen who found her fit when she took the job as a galley cook for a charter boat in the Whitbread Round the World Race. This pushed her to form her own all-women crew, the first-ever entered into the famous race and a journey that took years to finally come together. This film, through footage taken during these brave women’s race, depicts a massive battle against the element and the constant uncertainty of whether they are still anywhere close to winning it. This movie is engrossing and totally fascinating throughout, the director opting to have the story told through one on one interviews with Edwards and her crew being very effective. This is an important documentary for people to check out, maybe one of my favorites this year. (Only opening in Toronto and Vancouver)

Watergate – An hugely expansive look at what we thought would be the biggest presidential scandal ever, this is less a movie documentary and more a two-part miniseries which is pretty interesting given that there is so much to cover with this story. No End In Sight and Inside Job director Charles Ferguson draws from 3400 hours of audiotapes, archival footage and declassified documents to give a comprehensive insight on the entire investigation with help from the players in the game like Carl Bernstein, Bob Woodward and John Dean. This documentary has the feel of a meticulously obsessive mind outlining details of a piece of history that we thought we knew so well. I think after this work of great filmmaking there won’t be a lot of shadows left in this subject matter. (Only opening in Toronto and Vancouver)

Propaganda: The Art Of Selling Lies – In the world we live in these days we are fed a lot of information and so much of it is called fake news or misleading but all of it can be considered propaganda and that is what documentarian Larry Weinstein focuses on with this film, looking into the past brainwashing of Russia by Stalin and his cronies, the rise of Hitler and even more recently the North Korean Kim regime. It also delves into Trump’s claim of “what you’re hearing and seeing isn’t what’s real” claim and how very Orwellian that is and, by the way, that comes from an actual George Orwell historian. The film will infuriate you and inform you just like a good documentary should as well as leave you some food for thought and conversation starters. (Only opening in Toronto and Vancouver)

Astronaut – With the lead actor of Richard Dreyfuss, a film about a widower trying to chase his dream of going into space should be a pretty easy home run, especially for people looking for a little more “Space Cowboys” in their life. Adding to that, the movie is decidedly Canadian, featuring supporting roles from Lyriq Bent, Colm Feore and the legendary Art Hindle and Sonja Smits. The sad thing is the script largely doesn’t feel well written, goes for the easy manipulation of emotions and seems to fizzle badly about two thirds in. This is especially upsetting because the final emotional beat of the story is super effective but can’t rise above the hour and twenty preceding it. This is not one to celebrate when it comes to homegrown cinema. (Only opening in Toronto and Vancouver)

Blu-Ray:

Alita: Battle Angel – This movie had a long and arduous journey from the pages of manga to the big screen. James Cameron bought the property over fifteen years ago before the Avatar films had taken hold of his creative mind. Delayed due to the development and production of that movie, Alita didn’t really begin it’s development process until Robert Rodriguez was hired to direct in 2016 and after another release delay, as it was supposed to come out in July last year. Now it is on Blu-ray and I think it is a damn cool experience to check out as the action is phenomenal and the effects are totally dazzling, a real treat to check out on the big screen. The movie, at times, gets a little bogged down with its universe building and push for more films but Rosa Salazar does such a great job in making you cheer for Alita and Christoph Waltz always has his charm cranked to a ten.

Hellboy – I must start this off with the heartbreaking reminder that we will never see the final piece of the Guillermo del Toro directed and written Hellboy series with Ron Perlman in the role he played so beautifully. That said, this reboot looked like it turned out way better than I could have ever imagined and David Harbour from Stranger Things seemed to be the perfect person to take over this fan favorite comic book role. Well, we were all duped horribly because, aside from Harbour who actually looks pretty cool in the role, this movie is a fizzling fart of a movie that feels like it was ripped away from director Neil Marchall and fed into a horrendous wood chipper of writing by a group of fourteen-year-old boys. For anything that wors in this movie there are ten things to drive you to absolutely hate anything that is happening. I think they effectively killed any hope for more Hellboy movies in any shape or form.

Missing Link – I was waiting for Laika Animation Studios to follow up their brilliant and resoundingly beautiful film Kubo And The Two Strings and boy did this movie hold up to my expectations. Zack Galifianakis voices the titular character, also known as Mr. Link, a legendary creature who lives in the Pacific Northwest, one that might also be called a Sasquatch or Bigfoot. An investigator named Mr. Lionel Frost, with the voice of Hugh Jackman looks to bring Mr. Link and his story to the masses in this film that is charming, hilarious and brimming with pure heart. The chemistry between Jackman and Galifianakis is so great and Mr. Link’s precocious naive nature is so adorable. Laika also gets some great English talent with Little Britain’s David Walliams and Matt Luca reuniting to play the villains. This is a fun film with breathtaking stop motion animation as only this world-class studio can provide.

Master Z: The Ip Man Legacy – Usually when it comes to the Ip Man movies a martial arts fan is already sold. Firstly, for all the movies except this one, this has been Donnie Yen’s franchise. Secondly, this is an actioner that follows the true story of the creator of Wing Chun and the man who taught Bruce Lee himself. This movie now follows Cheung Tin Chi, a teacher who was defeated by Ip Man who has opted to quit and keep a low profile until local drug dealers conflict with good citizens lures him out for a fight. The movie has special appearances from Michelle Yeoh, Tony Ja and Dave Bautista and has some really kick-ass fights throughout despite having kind of a standard kung fu movie plot.

Universal Horror Collection: Volume 2 – It feels like only last month I was giving some love to Shout Factory’s release of the first volume (because I was) but this classic collection of horror films is a different animal this time around. Another four-pack of movies, this one contains Murders In The Zoo about a monomaniacal zoologist who is pathologically jealous of his beautiful but unfaithful wife Evelyn to a deadly degree, The Mad Ghoul about a university chemistry professor who experiments with an ancient Mayan gas on a medical student, turning him into a murdering monster, The Mad Doctor of Market Street about a mad scientist who is forced to leave San Francisco when his experiments become known and flees to a tropical island to continue his atrocities and lastly The Strange Case of Doctor Rx about a private eye that is hired by a criminal defense lawyer after five mobsters he has gotten acquitted are apparently strangled by a serial killer. To be honest, all of these movies were totally unknown to me so, again, it is so cool to get my eyes on them.

Steve’s Blu-Ray Geek-Out:

Resurrecting The Champ – A little known Samuel L. Jackson movie from twelve years ago, this film was made at a time when Josh Hartnett was a leading man. He plays an up-and-coming sports reporter who rescues a homeless man only to discover that he is, in fact, a boxing legend believed to have died years ago. Directed by The Contender filmmaker Rod Lurie, this movie flew way under everyone’s radar but I really liked Jackson’s nuanced performance which I thought harkened back to his turn in The Caveman’s Valentine, another underrated and kind of gonzo Sam Jackson movie.

American Horror Project: Volume 2 – This is a pretty cool three-pack of films I got from Arrow Video that span 1970 to 1977, again showcasing movies I had never come across before. The first film is Dream No Evil, a surrealist horror about a preacher’s young assistant who basically goes insane in a fantasy she creates in her own head. Next up was Dark August about a man who accidentally runs down a young girl and has a curse placed on him by the girl’s father, an occultist. Finally, The Child is about a newly hired maid in a secluded area who is alarmed to discover that her boss’s eleven-year-old daughter is using her supernatural powers to take revenge on the people she holds responsible for her mother’s death using zombies. Yet another cool collection of classic horror to devour.

Maze – This movie crossed my doorstep and, I’ve got to be honest, I’d never heard of it but immediately it piqued my interest because it is Irish and it is about a prison break and a real one at that. Coming from writer and director Stephen Burke in only his second feature film, this is the story of an infamous 1983 prison breakout of 38 IRA prisoners from HMP, also known as Her Majesty’s Prison Maze in Northern Ireland, which became the biggest prison escape in Europe since World War II. The film stars Ken Loach alumni Barry Ward who was astounding in his film Jimmy’s Hall as well as Tom Vaughan-Lawlor who was totally unrecognizable in his role as Thanos’ right hand in Infinity War and Endgame. Fans of prison break films should be all over this and if you liked Steve McQueen’s Hunger you better get on this one.

Television:

Orange Is the New Black: Season 7 (Netflix) – The final season of one of Netflix’s most popular original series is now here and I really think that we are all prepared for it to end. I really thought the show would get five seasons maximum but we return to Litchfield for Jenji Kojan to close out everything and I’m really hoping that the resolution will go better than Weeds did because to call that one rough would be an utter understatement. The show brought us new stars in the form of Taylor Schilling, Uzo Aduba and Lea DeLaria and rejuvenated the careers of Laura Prepon, Kate Mulgrew and Natasha Lyonne and of course, I’ve missed out a few people there. Not being a massive fan of this show in years, I’m more than ready for this.

The Boys: Season 1 (Amazon Prime) – My favorite comic book ever is now a television series brought to life by good Vancouver guys Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, the same two that brought Preacher to us coincidentally from the same author. Thanks to the sick and twisted mind of Garth Ennis we have a story that is not about the superheroes but a superpowered group put together to keep the massive egos and lust for fun in absolute check. This show is going to be over the top violence, crude, full of nudity and will probably offend more than a few people, so a lot like Preacher. I can’t wait.

Light as a Feather: Season 2 (Hulu) – You know that urban legend of a game called “light as a feather, stiff as a board”? For those uninitiated, it is a game, sometimes known as pig in a blanket, played by children at slumber parties and is basically used to freak out friends in a sort of ghostly levitation hoax. This show, coming back for a sophomore season, is about five girls dealing with the supernatural fallout from playing their own game of this and start being picked off by an evil entity intent on destroying everything in it’s path. The series features a really great cast of up and comers and is created by an unlikely horror source, R. Lee Fleming Jr., a former Friends writer.

Veronica Mars: Season 1 (Hulu) – I am a massive Veronica Mars fan and have since this show debuted on the WB or UPN or whatever it was back then and have followed it through every iteration. Hell, I even contributed to the Kickstarter for the movie so to say that I’m excited about this brand new season is totally an understatement as Kristen Bell’s sleuthing character is embedded deeply in my love for episodic television. If you are a deep V Mars geek like I am I will warn you that the final episode will drain you of all of your precious tears. You’ve been warned.

Another Life: Season 1 (Netflix) – Being a guy that has a deep love for Battlestar Galactica and actress Katee Sackhoff, I’ve been waiting patiently for her new show, especially since Longmire has now completed it’s run. Her new show is putting her back into the realm of science fiction as she plays the commander of a crew that sets out into the vastness of space to find the origins behind a newly discovered alien artifact. Co-starring Selma Blair, Shameless’s Justin Chatwin and Supergirl’s Superman himself Tyler Hoechlin, this new Netflix original was created by Aaron Martin who made another Netflix show called Slasher which is also very entertaining. I have hope for this show.

New Releases:

The Lion King – The continued push of re-imagining Disney animated classics continue 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 from what I hear the effects on this movie are an absolute gamechanger. Everyone knows the story of the Lion King so I won’t go over that again but the cast is where the draw is for me, including Donald Glover, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Beyonce, Seth Rogen, John Oliver and Billy Eichner, this film is stacked. I’m putting a lot of faith into director Jon Favreau to get this one right as I wasn’t a huge fan of his adaptation of The Jungle Book.

The Farewell – Actress and comedian Awkwafina moves from the supporting role to the main role in this new comedy-drama that is getting a lot of attention. 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 trending so well, earning a 100% certified on Rotten Tomatoes, and maybe one of those “can’t miss” indie films 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.” Put her name on the filmmakers to keep an eye on. (Only opening in Toronto and Vancouver)

The Art Of Self Defense – Filmmaker Riley Stearns follows up his incredible debut film from 2014, Faults, with this dark comedy about a socially awkward accountant named Casey who finds himself looking for answers after being brutally beaten during a mugging. He believes the next step in his life is martial arts, taught by the enigmatic “Sensei” who takes a special interest in him. This movie is absolutely wild, unpredictable in its story and containing reveals that will have you laughing hysterically and gasping in surprise. This is possibly my favorite movie this year and I had the privilege of interviewing Stearns for my podcast that will debut Friday evening. (Only opening in Toronto and Vancouver)

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

Peterloo – Acclaimed director Mike Leigh brings this historical and very British story to the big screen about the events that led the British army to attack and kill peaceful protesters at a pro-democracy rally in 1819 Manchester, known as the Peterloo Massacre. The only recognizable star is modern James Bond stalwart Rory Kinnear in a film that focuses on the anger of the lower class citizens who are constantly belittled and thrown in prison by the officials who are supposed to be charged with providing for the society, prompting a need for change. The only thing is it comes across as so dull and boring that it is hard to even care about the story. The dialogue is so stuff and pompous that at times it comes off even comically and at two and a half hours long the bloat of the whole production seems completely unnecessary. It could have been trimmed by an hour and no one would notice. (Only opening in Toronto and Vancouver)

Blu-Ray:

Shazam! – The DC Universe looks to continue on their upswing with a movie that I knew would be totally satisfying. The story follows an orphan named Billy Batson who is entrusted with the powers of the wizard Shazam. What does this mean? Well, once the word “Shazam” is said he turns into a grown-up superhero. Warner trusted this to be in the hands of horror filmmaker David Sandberg who saw success with the films Lights Out and Annabelle Creation and with star Zachary Levi in the driver’s seat, the movie is a real treat full of charm, fantastic action and great line delivery. There may be a few things that will be a little scary for the younger viewers but at the end of the movie, I was totally stoked on Billy Batson and his family and am excited to see more with these characters. There’s also a third act reveal that I almost stood up in theaters and cheered for.

Breakthrough – It’s been a rough ride for any of the many faith-based films that have been released in the last decade as it seems like the producers for these movies only value getting their message out instead of a well put together story with good acting. Well, the streak continues with This Is Us star Chrissy Metz leading this film about a mother who uses all the faith she can muster after her son is put in a coma after drowning in a frozen lake and being resuscitated. Honestly, the film is totally laughable throughout, the only bright spot being the inclusion of supporting actor Topher Grace but even he can’t make any of this movie compelling. This movie feels like it makes a mockery of medical science and gives more weight to the notion that some religious followers are just nuts.

Teen Spirit – Elle Fanning continues to make fantastic moves, this time taking the lead in actor Max Minghella’s directorial debut, a film he also wrote. She plays Violet, a shy small-town teen who has a single passion, singing. Pushed by a mentor of sorts, she enters a local singing competition which gives her the fuel to put it all one the line. The movie features a really great soundtrack of pop songs and is a really inventive spin of the Cinderella story at its core. Fanning’s voice is really great too, just another talent in an already stacked repertoire.

Fast Color – I’m kind of disappointed that there was absolutely no advertising push on this as it looks freaking awesome. The movie stars Gugu M’Batha Raw as a woman who is forced to go on the run when she is discovered to have superhuman abilities. The world-building that writer and director Julia Hart does in just her second feature film is absolutely astounding. This may be a film that is centred around a woman with extraordinary powers but this is a far more grounded story than you will be expecting with the emphasis being on character building and exposition more than anything. This is a cinephiles must-see.

The Big Bad Fox And Other Tales – I got this odd little collection of animation from those great people at Shout Factory and this one is pretty interesting. Made in France, this is a fable that looks to dispell the myth of a calm countryside. In it we find an insane group of animals like a Fox that thinks it’s a chicken, a Rabbit that acts like a stork, and a Duck who wants to replace Santa Claus. This film may be filled with enough craziness to delight your child and dupe them into watching a sort of French art film because, let’s face it, it kind of is.

Space: 1999: The Complete Series – As a sci-fi fan through and through I really have to admit that, although I know of this show I Have never seen it but I do know that it has a huge fan following so I was very happy that Shout Factory sent it to me for review. To give a quick once over of the official plot, the show follows the crew of Moonbase Alpha who must struggle to survive when a massive explosion throws the Moon from orbit into deep space. Sounds cool, right? Well, the series stars the late and infinitely great Martin Landau as Commander John Koenig and special effects supervisor Brian Johnson became a hot commodity afterwards, being asked to work on Star Wars in 1977 and Alien in 1979. Nerds are also going to want to pay attention to the cast list who play villains in this show, it’s amazing.

Peter Pan – This is a first for me in my collection as I believe this is the first silent film I have ever gotten and it’s of an age-old classic, the J.M. Barrie story that I’m sure we’ve all been exposed to at some point. Released in 1924, this is the simplest version of the story, Peter Pan enters the nursery of the Darling children and, with the help of fairy dust, leads them off to Never Never Land, where they meet the nefarious Captain Hook. We all know it, we all love it, but to see it in the original context is a window into a time we only can read about in books or see pictures of. This was also a big first, the first time that Tinkerbell was played by an actress as opposed to simply a spotlight on the stage which Julie Roberts and Disney have a lot to thank for. Heck, Disney had a whole direct to video franchise developed for Tink.

Steve’s Blu-Ray Geek-Out:

The Running Man – A lot of people will just look at the title on this list and be like “duh, Steve, we know that this Arnold Schwarzenegger classic is awesome” but I say “not so fast, jerkface” because this is a different movie altogether, made in 1963 and not based on a Stephen King or Richard Bachman book. The film, starring Laurence Harvey, Lee Remick and Alan Bates, is about a man soured by being turned down by an insurance company who decides to fake his death for an easy way to quick cash. What he wasn’t counting on was a studious insurance adjuster who makes it a vendetta to track down this fraudster. This is some classic cat and mouse thriller from legendary director Carol Reed who made The Third Man with Orson Welles as well as that 1960s version of Oliver you were probably forced to watch.

The New York Ripper – Lucio Fulci is a name that will always live in the history of horror because he gave us Italian zombie movies like City Of The Living Dead and Zombie 2 as well as Edgar Allan Poe adaptations with The Black Cat. Do I even need to mention that he had a zombie and shark fight scene? Well, this movie is quite the messed up one itself but the story sounds simple, about a burned-out New York police detective who teams up with a college psychoanalyst to track down a serial killer randomly stalking and killing young women around New York. The movie ended up being far more violent than any country wanted to even handle and the film was pretty much banned everywhere except Japan but now you can see it in its full glory including scenes that were pulled from all releases in this new three-disc set that has blu-ray, DVD and a CD of the soundtrack. So cool.

Television:

Sweetbitter: Season 2 (Starz) – I basically just discovered this show entering its sophomore season on Starz but the story seems pretty easy. Tim Burton’s one time leading star Ella Purnell stars as a young woman learns how crazy it is to work in a restaurant in New York City, a common theme this week, Immediately introduced to the world of drugs, alcohol, love, lust, dive bars, and fine dining, she needs to grow up quickly and lose her smalltown and young naivety before it causes irreparable damage. Television always seems to be a minefield of crap with some goodness mixed in and the reviews seem to say that this is the latter.

Pearson: Season 1 (USA) – With Suits starting its final season this week as well, the USA network is looking to continue its must-see franchise with this spinoff series focusing on the Gina Torres character Jessica Pearson, you know, the woman that basically prevented Harvey Spector from teetering off the edge of the attorney world for nine seasons. Being a huge fan of hers since Firefly, I have a feeling this could be a great way for Torres to shine in the lead role as she enters the complex and seedy world of Chicago politics, which is kind of a hot button area for prosecution right now given the high profile cases of Jussie Smollett and R. Kelly.

Frankenstein’s Monster’s Monster, Frankenstein (Netflix) – This new show seems like a total trip and it had David Harbour in it which makes it infinitely cooler and also will drag the Stranger Things fans who already blew through the third season. To put the show in a nutshell, Harbour, as himself, delves into the enigmatic history of his legendary acting family, as he examines his father’s legacy, also play and role in a made-for-TV play. The hilarious thing is Harbour also plays his “father”, done as a definite homage to Orson Welles in the later years of his more eccentric life. The show was created by Daniel Grey Longino who is on a bit of a hot streak after the Hulu show PEN15 and directing Sacha Baron Cohen in Who Is America. This could be really great and might explode like that new Tim Robinson sketch show.

Pandora: Season 1 (The CW) – Some brand new sci-fi hits the channel usually known for teen melodrama so really this could all go good or horribly sideways. Set in the year 2199, this show follows a young woman who has lost everything but finds a new life at Earth’s Space Training Academy where she learns to defend the galaxy from intergalactic threats. Sure to find a home with those who dug on the Vancouver shot post-apocalypse series The 100, I really want this to have more of a serious approach like The Expanse. Unfortunately, the only four reviews I can find totally panned it but that can’t be the nail in the coffin, can it?

Notorious: Season 2 (ABC) – The one thing about reviewing movies weekly is that I have such a limited time to take in other mediums and a show like this one, on a major television network, just slips through the cracks. This show piques my interest a bit as it stars Coyote Ugly alumni Piper Perabo and Daniel Sunjata from one of my favorite shows ever Rescue Me. The show follows a defence attorney and a television producer who join together to control the breaking of a high profile incident which seems to break the norm of procedural a little bit but at the same time it was created by Josh Berman, the producer behind CSI and Bones, but I still have some faith. It did survive for a second season.

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

 

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.