Steve Stebbing

Breaking down all things pop culture

New Releases:

Aladdin – This movie gives me deep worries as it feels like it moves through a total minefield of things that could tank it in my opinion. Yes, Disney has been making so many of these live-action updates but something about this one feels so sacred, firstly the fact that we all have such reverence for Robin Williams’ performance as the Genie. That aside, I want to believe in this movie because it is directed by Guy Ritchie but his last film King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword was such a horrible mess. I’m so conflicted about this.

Booksmart – We may have one of the best comedies of the year right here as all advanced word I’ve heard about this movie is overwhelmingly positive. Olivia Wilde makes her directorial debut with this story of two academic overachievers who decide to let loose in a big way on the eve of their graduation. Starring Kaitlyn Dever from Justified and the hilarious Beanie Feldstein from Lady Bird and Neighbors 2, this movie looks like the smart girl version of Superbad, which is fitting as Feldstein is the little sister of Jonah Hill. I’m all in for this movie.

BrightBurn – Coming from the mind of the brilliant writer and director James Gunn, this movie poses the question “what if Superman didn’t take the path of good?” Yes, deeply a horror film, the movie has an alien boy crash land on earth, adopted by a small town family but snaps when bullying and life’s problems get too much and he learns of his extraordinary powers. The film isn’t directed by Gunn but his style is all over the script and the trailer is so deeply satisfying to genre fans such as myself. This one could be really cool.

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.

I’m Going To Break Your Heart – This brand new documentary absolutely floored me, especially with my absolute love of Canadian music. The film follows Our Lady Peace’s Raine Maida and his wife Chantal Kreviazuk as they fly to a snowy coastal France village to write their collaborative album together, something they’ve been trying to do for half a decade. Tensions are already a bit high as the two are in a bit of a volatile place in their marriage and the added strain of both of their creative methods cause them to butt heads even more. This movie is gorgeous in look, subject matter and the music that comes from it, playing like a very real version of the Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova movie Once. If you have ever been a fan of either of these Canadian stars then this is a must-see movie.

Blu-ray:

How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World – The epic trilogy of Hiccup and toothless comes to an end with this film. After discovering each other in the first film and bonding the relationship of dragons and Vikings in the first movie, leading Hiccup to the role of leadership in the second one, this movie brings it all home with Toothless finding that he is not the last of his kind and there is a subterranean world of dragons for him to join. These movies are done beautifully and in feature length, have not depreciated in how entertaining, endearing and full of love they are. I adored this final piece of the story that gave a one-two punch of beautiful visuals and emotional beats that you can never prepare yourself for. Also, the ending of the movie gives such a resonant closure to it that you really feel how special the whole trilogy was.

The Upside – Based on the very popular French film from 2011, this film has Bryan Cranston playing a quadriplegic billionaire who hires Kevin Hart’s character, an unemployed former criminal to be his caregiver. I am definitely on record more than once saying that Kevin Hart’s comedy feels stale but this is the kind of partially dramatic turn that piques my interest as I don’t think he’s ever done this kind of film. I’m also drawn in by the film being helmed by Neil Burger who’s put out great movies like The Illusionist. That being said, unfortunately, the movie bombed badly with reviews dogging it, saying the film is unnecessary with date jokes and cliched moments, none of which appear in the original movie. Cranston isn’t enough to save this one it seems.

Isn’t It Romantic – Rebel Wilson is now in the lead role after playing supporting roles in the Pitch Perfect franchise and the middling hit How To Be Single. This film takes a little of that It’s A Wonderful Life approach but genre specific as Wilson plays a woman disillusioned with the dating life and wakes up in a corny rom-com. Co-starring Liam Hemsworth and Priyanka Chopra, this movie doesn’t have a lot of potential in my opinion, either being mildly chuckle-worthy or absolutely awful and cringe infused. This could be this year’s I Feel Pretty and yes, I’m setting the bar low but there are a few people on my friends list including a noted film critic really liked it. I don’t know, maybe it’s enjoyable. My low bar may be a good thing!

Big Brother – If you’ve been reading my blogs since I’ve started writing them it should be no surprise that I’m a definite fan of martial arts superstar Donnie Yen. The guy is just flawless and even if the movie isn’t great his performance is usually jaw-dropping and worth the time you put into it. Well, for his new film he is shifting the genre a little bit and adding some comedy in a story about a soldier-turned-high school teacher who uses unusual methods to reach to a class of poor students. Adding to that he also finds himself dealing with a greedy entrepreneur and his gang of fighters as well as the government because nothing can be simple, even a run of the mill action movie. Even better news on this movie is that it is really entertaining.

Drunk Parents – After watching the trailer for this new comedy starring Alec Baldwin and Salma Hayek I really find myself baffled by the title. They play two parents who send their daughter off to college just as they enter a severe financial crisis. Their solution is to follow through on a handful of hair brained schemes including renting out their neighbor’s house to a registered sex offender played by Jim Gaffigan. The cast, which includes Joe Manganiello, is impressive enough to garner some interest but the fact that this comes from the producers of the Grown Ups movies loses any positivity I have towards it.

A Dark Place – From Shout Factory’s theatrical pickups, this mystery seems to have everything going for it. Deep, broody and starring Sherlock’s Andrew Scott, the movie follows a local dump truck driver who decides to jump in and play detective when a young boy in his small town goes missing which puts him in the crosshairs of the citizens in the sleepy village, the law enforcement and other people with dark intentions. The movie hit a middle ground in reviews with the majority of critics really enjoying the performance from Scott but plot holes and the straightforward nature of the story bogging it down.

The Seduction – It’s time to get steamy with the Shout Factory special edition of this Morgan Fairchild erotic thriller from the writer and director of the man who would later bring us Puppetmaster and Crawlspace, two classics on the horror fringe. The movie has Fairchild as a popular television news anchor who is being hunted be a menacing stalker and came out during a seemingly endless batch of these type of films including Body Double and Visiting Hours. Honestly, this may have been a lesser one as Fairchild isn’t a great actress.

Earthquake – Before disaster movies became a norm that we would see pretty much yearly since Pierce Brosnan was running from volcanoes and the world was being blown up on Independence Day we had this movie, a star-studded television event that captivated North America in 1974. Led by Charlton Heston, Ava Gardner and George Kennedy and written by The Godfather’s Mario Puzo, this movie also inspired the famous Universal Studios experience ride. The Shout Factory collector’s edition is two discs and features the original television version as well as an alternate cut.

Steve’s Blu-ray Geek Outs:

Born In East L.A. – Being a huge Cheech Marin fan, even at a young age, this movie was an absolute treasure to me and not just for Narin but the hilarious Paul Rodriguez as well. The feature debut of the Cheech and Chong star as a director, this movie is the hysterically funny story of an American born Latino man who is mistakenly deported to Mexico which is probably much less humorous in today’s immigration climate. Even so, this movie will always be a nostalgic classic to me and this Shout Select edition is a treasure.

Ned Kelly – A forgotten Australian remake of a Mick Jagger film that may be equally as forgotten, this movie is an underrated gem of an outlaw story starring Heath Ledger, Orlando Bloom and Naomi Watts. Ledger plays the titular character, the head of the Kelly family and an innocent man who was once a war hero, pushed too far by the Victorian government and into a violent lifestyle of crime. Made by director Gregor Jordan, I really enjoyed the movie when it was released but no one seemed to really be digging it. I’m not sure how you couldn’t with the cast it alone.

Terra Formars – I must admit that I knew absolutely nothing about this movie until I received my screener from Arrow Video then I started my research on it. It’s a massive Japanese sci-fi action film about the human race attempting to colonized Mars five hundred years into the future and discovering that it has already been inhabited by a bloodthirsty menace that grew from cockroaches, gaining strength at a rapid speed. As odd as that sounds, the best part of this movie is it was made by mad man director Takeshi Miike who is responsible for such game changers as Audition and Ichi The Killer among many others. This one looks just great, I recommend the trailer.

Lovers And Other Strangers – Kino Classics hooked me up with this ensemble comedy from 1970 that has Bea Arthur, the film debut of Diane Keaton, Cloris Leachman, Ben Stiller’s parents Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara and Holly Genero herself (from Die Hard if you don’t get the reference) and won an Academy Award for best song. The story takes place at a wedding with a happy couple but miserable guests. The groom’s brother is in the midst of a divorce which upsets the deeply Catholic mother whose husband is having an affair with the bride’s older sister. It’s one of those zany convoluted comedy romps but it was really well received when it came out and in my opinion, holds up as one of the better mostly single location films.

The Minion – Being a fan of eighties action movies Dolph Lundgren was always an actor I was willing to give some of my viewing time to but this one definitely didn’t cross my path. This movie tries to be so big and ambitious, about the unearthing of an ancient Celtic skeleton accidentally by New York subway construction that unleashes The Minion on earth. Lundgren plays a warrior monk of the Knight’s Temple who is the only hope of destroying this parasitic beast as it moves from host to host. Want to know why you’ve never heard of it? It was only released theatrically in South Korea, South Africa, Indonesia and Syria. Probably for the best because it isn’t good by any means but it’s definitely fun for mid-nineties action schlock.

Netflix:

What/If: Season 1 – A brand new limited series from the creator of Revenge, this show has a solid cast to lead it including Renee Zellweger, Jane Levy, Dave Annable and Blake Jenner and looks like the perfect convoluted story to get people hooked. It works as an anthology series with each episode tackling a different morality tale but all revolving around the same characters, focusing o the ripple effect that important decisions by these characters have on the world around them. What interests me is that this is the first major television role for Zellweger so something must have really drawn her to the ruthless role she plays.

After Maria – A brand new short documentary getting a massive push on Netflix, this is thirty-five minutes that everyone in the Trump administration should watch. The events take place after the devastation of Hurricane Maria, focusing on a few different families who had their lives destroyed by the storm and then were failed by FEMA and the American government as they cut off aid before anything was rebuilt. This documentary will make you cry both tears of pain for these people as well as rage. Absolutely be aware of this trigger warning.

Alta Mar: Season 1 – A brand new international acquiring from Spain for Netflix, this show has enough going for it to pull in a pretty decent audience I think. The show follows the launching of an ocean liner in the 1940s, with high profile guests travelling from Spain to Brazil. After a series of murders occur just days into the trip two sisters start to discover a disturbing family connection to the events that are unfolding before them. For fans of Agatha Christie and most notably Hercule Poirot this may be something off the beaten path that will intrigue them entirely.

Joy – A brutal new film that was picked up by Netflix, this is the straightforward drama from Nigeria about a woman forced into sex work in order to survive. With an unflinching eye, we see her show the ropes of the trade to a new young recruit, one who is completely unable to come to grips with the nature of what she does as well as her possible fate. This is a powerful film that is out to expose its truth through its main character, painting a horrible world that passes everyone by without notice. This movie could be the best new release on here all week.

Rim Of The World – What’s this? Another end of the world sci-fi action movie? Well, I’m game. For this movie, we combine a little of the Stranger Things element to the mould as the story follows a group of kids whose world is thrown upside down when a massive alien invasion hits the earth and they are humanity’s only hope of surviving due to the satellite key they are entrusted with along the way. The script seems fun, the effects are big and flashy and it comes from the guy behind the gonzo film The Babysitter which you can also see on Netflix. Heck, make it a double bill!

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New Releases:

John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum – Definitely one of my most anticipated films to be released this year, both movies leading up to this one have been like a gift from the action film gods, bestowing on us the perfect anti-hero story all birthed from the death of his dog. Now in this culminating (I think) piece, the whole world is after John Wick due to his decisions in the second movie and he has to bring in an old friend, Halle Berry’s character, to make it out alive. This movie is going to burn all action movies to the ground and show them how it’s really done. I can not wait.

The Sun is Also A Star – I’m really on the fence with this one because on the surface it looks like a standard teen romance film, something that has never really found any resonance with me. Looking deeper, the movie is about a girl on the eve of being deported from the United States, the only home she has ever known, who meets a boy that sparks an immediate connection with her. The trailer invokes feelings of Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise, a burgeoning romance that unfolds over one day and that intrigues me. The added factor that Ry Russo-Young, director of the surprisingly great Before I Fall, is the director behind this film gives it that much more weight. This movie has a lot of potential and seems to be timely in its delivery.

A Dog’s Journey – I’m a bit baffled to why we are getting this sequel as I really don’t think the first movie A Dog’s Purpose or the unconnected canine film A Dog’s Way Home really drummed up enough theatrical interest begging the question why does Sony continue to pump these out? The story of this film is the continuing story of a dog learning about existence and the strength of love through continuous reincarnation, which sounds sweet but only if it wasn’t presented in such a contrived and totally cheesy way. Yes, this will definitely land with the kids but the first one was such a plodding and grating mess of a movie that my bar is set low on this one.

The Biggest Little Farm – This documentary is the start of a really great trend this week, the “feel good” doc because this one is full of good intentions and celebrated outcomes. The film follows the journey of John and Molly Chester, a Los Angeles couple who dream of owning their own sustainable farm, something that seemed like a pipe dream to them. Through a string of circumstances, they decide to put their ideas out into the world and find many financial backers to help get them the land they need, two hundred acres north of the City Of Angels. Now on the farm, a dilapidated space that needs a complete overhaul, the two find themselves in control of the next step. This movie was massively inspirational in a push to follow what drives you and has surprising depths of emotion that seem to bubble up here and there. I found myself enthralled with the Chesters’ story very quickly and was gripped to the end. (Opening in Toronto and Vancouver. Expanding on May 24th across Canada.)

Meeting Gorbachev – Almost the perfect director to take on a one on one look at a former world leader as well as interview him, I’m so happy that this documentary comes from Werner Herzog. Leaving no stone unturned, he takes a deep dive into the life of Mikael Gorbachev, the last president of the Soviet Union and possibly the last decent leader of a country that has been under the fist of Putin for so long that it’s all we know. Deep within this story, we get a fascinating look at just how crazy Russian politics have been since the late seventies as Gorbachev rose through the ranks and also a glimpse of what the general perceptions they had of the western world. I really love the way Herzog tackles his subjects through narration, almost like an alien reasoning with the facts and relating it to you with a thick German accent. (Opening in Toronto and Vancouver. Expanding to Calgary on May 31st.)

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

Ask Dr. Ruth – A beautifully told documentary on the life of a woman that went through incredible hardships to make her journey to the United States to start her life’s work, the story of Doctor Ruth Westheimer is massively inspirational. Dr. Ruth’s work as an educator of the highest level in sexuality and sex has saved millions of lives in bringing knowledge and understanding to an aspect of life that seems so daunting, so confusing and with so much room for misinterpretation. Director Ryan White crafts his documentary by tackling all we know about the iconic doctor with archival footage, her life now at age ninety with a follow along film crew and gorgeous animation to literally illustrate her upbringing and journey to America. This is an astoundingly special documentary of a woman who means so much to modern society. (Opening in Toronto and Vancouver.)

Blu-ray:

Cold Pursuit – About five years ago Stellan Skarsgard starred in a Norwegian film called In Order Of Disappearance, a revenge flick about a respected local plowman and a grieving father who exacts violent retribution on the crinal organization that was responsible for his son’s death. Liam Neeson got a look at it and seemingly ended his action retirement to remake the film with the original director and I really wish they just left it alone. Were the original came off as darkly funny this movie negates that for a more cartoonish approach, right down to Neeson’s performance. Skarsgard had a real broodiness to his performance and Liam decided to bring his Taken attitude into this film. Just watch the Norweigan film, trust me.

Happy Death Day 2U – The fact this sequel exists kind of infuriates me as I absolutely hated the first movie. In sort of a Groundhog Day meets Mean Girls story, the movie was about Tree, a girl that relives her birthday over and over, the day always ends with her murder at the hands of a figure in a baby mask. The new film returns to that trope but looks to be bigger and badder, roping her friends into the equation and even adding a little sci-fi twinge to it. A Lot of my friends loved this first film and are raving about how much an improvement this film was so maybe I’m missing something and should get a little bit more on board with it. I’ve been known to make some movie mistakes before.

Fighting With My Family – Being an absolutely massive wrestling fan it feels like I had been waiting for this film since last Wrestlemania in April because, well, I have since that’s when we got our first trailer. This is the story of Paige, the youngest women’s champion ever in WWE and the daughter of Nick and Saraya Knight a kickass wrestling family out of the UK. When Paige and her brother Zak are offered tryouts for the top company in the world, WWE, they are put to the test in a make or break competition against the others selected. The best thing about this movie is it’s broad appeal as you don’t even have to be a wrestling fan for this story as it’s comedy lands well, the characters are really well fleshed out and the message is totally inspiring. This is also evidence that stars Florence Pugh and Jack Lowden have incredibly bright futures ahead of them.

Apollo 11 – It feels like a long time coming for a story like this to be told on the biggest possible movie screen, the IMAX, so now receiving it on Blu-ray feels way too minimalist to bring this, save for the sound which will still be amazing. A story fifty years in the making, we get the full-scale story of the Apollo 11 mission with archive accounts from Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin plus it features a plethora of never before seen footage. For an immersive space history experience, this film definitely the ticket but I feel like a home video experience would require the biggest screen possible and, even so, you will still struggle to see any of the time clock moments that appear in text on the screen. This is the issue with IMAX to home release.

Triple Threat – As a martial arts movie fan I am one hundred percent behind this movie sight unseen just based on the cast because you have Ong Bak’s Tony Jaa, The Matrix stuntman and choreographer Tiger Chen and The Raid’s Iwo Kwais, so really, how can you go wrong? The story is about a contract taken out on a billionaire’s daughter who is intent on bringing down a major crime syndicate which brings a team of mercenaries into the fold to take on a group of professional assassins and stop them before they kill their target. The plot for the movie may seem contrived but the endless fight scenes are going to make up for that as well as it’s hard R rating.

Never Grow Old – The top line of this action thriller is what really sold this movie to me straight off because it is a western that stars Emile Hirsh and John Cusack, two really great character actors. The story has Hirsh as an Irish undertaker in a small town who has been profiting for years off the rising death tolls due to a bloodthirsty gang of outlaws led by Cusack’s character. As the dead continue to pile up, the undertaker and his family eventually find themselves between the crosshairs, starting a fight between the two sides that may kill everyone. The great news is that the film has some stellar reviews, many praising Cusack’s chilling performance, and no matter how predictable the film gets, it is a well-told story of violence and redemption.

Backdraft 2 – I can’t believe there is a sequel to what I think is the greatest firefighter movie of all time, and yes, I know that the genre is a pretty small niche. No Kurt Russell starring in this or Ron Howard behind the camera but we do get a returning Billy.. sorry, William Baldwin and Donald Sutherland reprising their roles and instead we have Across The Universe’s Joe Anderson in the lead role. This time the Chicago Fire Department has to contend with a ruthless arms dealer who is using arson to cover his tracks and wreak havoc on the city. Definitely don’t expect this movie to be anywhere near its predecessor in quality but the fun thing about the movie is it is far more violence with a nasty penchant for gore. Sounds watchable to me.

Princess Mononoke – Shout Factory and Studio Ghibli teamed up for this absolutely gorgeous and expansive collector’s edition of what I think is that biggest film in Hayao Miyazaki’s catalogue, released over twenty years ago. The film, set in the late Muromachi period, follows a young prince who is seeking the cure for a deadly curse who finds himself in the middle of a giant war between forest gods and Tatara, a mining colony. The conflict also introduces him to San, a young woman who was raised by the wolves, instilled with a hatred for humans but with a week spot for this newly discovered prince. The English dub of the film includes voice work from Billy Crudup, Claire Danes and Gillian Anderson and I have to say that the Ghibli movies are pretty much the only time I will accept the dubbed version over the subtitled. This is an iconic classic and I’m super happy to have it.

Steve’s Blu-ray Geek Out:

The Return Of The Vampire – Some more classic horror in a brand new collector’s edition from Shout Factory, this vampire story features possibly the most iconic horror actor of the time, Bela Lugosi, playing two roles in which he was paid $3,500 for in 1943 for four weeks of work. The story is about the unearthing of a vampire’s coffin during the London Blitz who comes to life when the gravedigger unknowingly removes the stake from its heart unleashing an ancient evil on the city. The movie was a massive hit, grossing half a million dollars and only being made for $75,000. Keep in mind that this was the mid-forties as well. That’s huge.

Blood Hunger: The Films Of Jose Larraz – Let’s get down to the brass tacks of this box set because it is essentially nudie flicks with gore and mystery thrown in and, you know what, there is a whole genre based on this, something Troma Entertainment snapped up. This one is from those wonderful people at Arrow Video and explores a filmmaker we never would have heard about in the mainstream. The collection contains three of his movies, his debut Whirlpool about a porno photographer who terrorizes a girl with the help of his aunt, Vampyres about a lesbian vampire couple abducting tourists on an English countryside and The Coming of Sin, a psychedelic love triangle thriller.

Far From Heaven – This movie came out in the time before I was really paying attention to Todd Haynes but now that I’m clued in on his genius I am very happy to receive this film that earned four Oscar nominations, including best actress for Julianne Moore, best cinematography for Edward Lachmann, best score for Elmer Bernstein and Haynes for best original screenplay. The story is set in the 1950s, about a housewife who is in deep marital crisis with her husband’s sexuality in question and enters a relationship with her black groundskeeper in a time of huge racial tensions. This is a movie that deserves a great collector’s edition and Kino Lorber is really bringing it.

Losin’ It – A long and forgotten Tom Cruise movie before the fixing of his original teeth, this movie is basically about a group of teenagers heading to Tijuana in 1965 with one thing on their mind, losing their virginity. Yes, it’s one of those types of movies but assembled around Cruise are a young Jackie Earle Haley and Shelley Long, which has me so interested in it. This is also an early movie from 8 Mile and Wonder Boys filmmaker Curtis Hanson.

Netflix:

It’s Bruno: Season 1 – A web series that has been making some waves, the first series of this adorable show hits a higher platform with a Netflix pick up. The series follows the daily adventures of Hugo and his little canine companion Bruno as they strut around their neighbourhood of Bushwick, Brooklyn. Always getting attention both good and bad, Hugo catches the eye of a new romantic interest who is drawn to him by his adorable dog, creating a distinctive Brooklyn relationship. I really love that Netflix is giving extended life to smaller stories like this and even though it isn’t getting the same sort of ad push, it will still find an audience.

Maria – A brand new Spanish action thriller, the film is about a former Black Rose cartel assassin who has fallen off the grid by faking her own death, changed her name and started a family far away from her past life. When the cartel learns of her betrayal they send every gun for hire they can leading Maria to defend herself and her family against a raging fire that will destroy everything in its path. I really want this movie to be good because the red band trailer is so entertaining but I’m still reeling from how bad Miss Bala was recently.

Nailed It!: Season 3 – Nicole Byers and Jacques Torres are back to judge again with this cooking show that celebrates terrible cooking by rewarding those who just can’t pull off making something beautiful out of fondant. This makes me incredibly happy as I would probably fail harder than the contestants put on this show and I can quietly observe and judge from the safety of my couch. This season includes everything from half-baked doll cakes to delightfully creepy edible clowns so that sounds like a lot of fun to me.

See You Yesterday – This movie looks totally up my alley and I’m really surprised I’ve never heard of it as it comes from producer Spike Lee and the subject matter seems like a great mash of current societal problems and time travel sci-fi. Confused yet? Well, to break it down, the movie follows a trio of smart teens who make a possible breakthrough in time travel technology but decide to put it to the test when one of their older brothers is killed by the police. It’s like a mix of Clockstoppers and Clockers and I really hope I’m the only one to draw that parallel.

The Rain: Season 2 – I know a lot of people have been looking forward to this second season of the Scandinavian made survival thriller ad it looks like the virus horror angle gets deeper in this teen led saga. The show is a post-apocalyptic story that follows the world after a brutal virus decimates the world’s population and focuses on two siblings try to navigate their new reality. The cliffhanger of season one has massive implications in the future of this show so I won’t get into the plotline of the new season as it is heavily in spoiler territory.

New Releases:

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. Advance reviews on it are solid, some calling it the best video game movie made.

The Hustle – Just looking at the title of this new comedy film you wouldn’t know that it’s a remake with a gender twist but once you get about thirty seconds in you realize “Hey, this is Dirty Rotten Scoundrels!” How did a reimagining of one of my favorite comedies of all time float by me? I don’t know but, as much as I’m not the biggest fan of Anne Hathaway, I’m kind of still her for her pairing with Rebel Wilson in a story of one high-level con artist mentoring a fledgling one and hoping these two can equal the calibre of work Michael Caine and Steve Martin put into it.

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. (Not opening in Hamilton.)

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. The film may be a bit of a dry slog for those uninvested in the story of this popular writer but fans of his will surely eat it up. (Not opening in Hamilton, Kamloops or Oshawa.)

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. (Only opening in Toronto and Vancouver.)

Blu-ray:

What Men Want – This is a movie that should have never been made. When the Mel Gibson film What Women Want was released late night talk show hosts and comedians made the joke that they should make this movie and it would be five minutes long. Now almost twenty years later we get the real punchline as the studio has pushed through this abomination starring Taraji P. Henson that has a trailer that is one of the most repulsive things I’ve set eyes on this year. I have zero hopes for this movie and it shouldn’t exist at all. I’m adamant on that.

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part – How do you recapture the lightning in a bottle that was the first Lego Movie? I’ve been a fan of the Batman and Ninjago movies that followed but none have been quite as good. The good news is this movie is still really good and while it definitely is not to the calibre of the movie that got this huge ball rolling it will satisfy your craving for all that Lego goodness and the voice cast is too good to pass up with Tiffany Haddish and Stephanie Beatriz joining Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks and Will Arnett. The morals are all there as are the laughs and instead of Lonely Island providing the music, this time we get the hilarious work of Canadian Jon Lajoie providing the soundtrack.

The Prodigy – Are we about done with creepy kid movies especially after it has been done so much better in the past? Hereditary, I’m definitely looking at you. This movie has Orange Is The New Black’s Taylor Schilling as a mother who is increasingly frightened and disturbed by her son’s increasingly erratic behaviour, suspecting that it is a supernatural possession. This seems to be the wheelhouse of director Nicholas McCarthy but what’s interesting is the film was written by Midnight Meat Train scribe Jeff Buhler who did the Pet Sematary remake last month My hopes for this one are low though.

Arctic – An absolutely harrowing survival drama, this entire film rests on star Mads Mikkelsen’s shoulders as he is pretty much the only actor in it. He plays a man that crashed his airplane in the middle of the frozen arctic. Stranded for weeks, he musters up the courage to try and make his way across the brutal landscape for rescue. The tension of this movie as he moves from one life-threatening situation to the next keeps you wound up from the start with great direction and beautiful cinematography. This is one of those atmospheric adventure films that will play great on a high definition screen with surround sound.

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

Everybody Knows – Real life couple Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz star in this brand new film from acclaimed director Asghar Farhadi, his much anticipated follow up to the Oscar-winning film The Salesman. The film follows Cruz as the mother of two from Buenos Aires who heads back to her small hometown outside of Madrid for the wedding of her sister. Through a series of unfortunate events, all of her past secrets and motivations for leaving are thrust into the public light. For those who don’t know, Farhadi is a director of serious momentum, making masterpiece after masterpiece, and it seems like this is his first stumble as the word is that no matter how good acting and directing holds in this film, it just doesn’t add up to a satisfying experience.

Steve’s Blu-ray Geekout:

Starman – Another one of the older releases that I begged out of my rep at Shout Factory, this is another golden entry into director John Carpenter’s career but a decidedly different one as it is the only drama he’s ever made. Starring Jeff Bridges in an absolutely iconic role opposite Karen Allen, the film is about an alien visitor who takes the form of a young woman’s deceased husband, asking her to drive him across the county, evading a shadowy government agency the entire time. This is a really special movie as it was a rare instance in which a sci-fi film got an Academy Award nomination for best actor, a role that Bridges studied the movement of birds for to get Starman’s quirks correct.

The Possessed – Arrow keeps the forgotten hits coming with this mystery from 1965 about a stranger who arrives in a small Italian village looking for a woman from his past. He is told be the people of the town that the woman he seeks had years ago committed suicide but late one night he sees someone who looks strikingly like her strolling around the nearby lake. The movie was made by two directors, Luigi Bazzoni who made a previous pick of mine, The Fifth Cord, and Franco Rossellini who would go on to be a producer on films like Gore Vidal’s Caligula, this is a story that feels pretty ripe for remaking.

Dark River – Part of a small package of movies I received from FilmRise, the biggest selling feature to me was that this mystery thriller is led by Luther and The Affair star Ruth Wilson, one of my favorite British actresses. She plays a woman who comes home after a fifteen-year absence to attend the funeral of her father. Her ulterior motive in this reunion with her hometown is to also lay claim to her family farm, which sparks a battle with her estranged brother Joe. Aside from Wilson, the cast will really draw you into this, featuring the great Sean Bean, Game Of Thrones actor Joe Dempsie and Esme Creed-Miles who is currently kicking so much ass as the titular character in the Amazon Prime series Hanna. It’s also a good thing that the movie, however bleak and depressing, is actually really good.

Life In The Doghouse – Part of my double shot this week from FilmRise, this is a definite documentary for the whole family, delivering the cute along with the great morals and inspiration. This is the story of Ron Danta and Danny Robertshaw, two guys who made their passion project of a dog rescue program into a massive success that led them to rescue and adopt over ten thousand dogs. The film also delves into the work they did in New Orleans and the surrounding Louisiana area after the devastation of Hurrican Katrina, which they were awarded the 2008 ASPCA Humanitarian Award. This is your feel-good movie this week.

Netflix:

Easy: Season 3 – I don’t know how this show passed me by for the last two seasons but I’m just catching onto it now as it releases its final season. From creator Joe Swanberg, the guy who did the great indie comedies Drinking Buddies, Happy Christmas and Digging For Fire, comes this series about a bunch of friends in Chicago hilariously navigating the sometimes awful landscape of love, sex, technology and culture. The cast for this is massive featuring Jane Adams, Zazie Beetz, Michael Chernus, Kiersey Clemons, Dave Franco, Marc Maron and Jake Johnson, I’m still kicking myself for being late to this party.

iZombie: Season 5 – Shot in Vancouver, this comic book adaptation has been a success for the CW network for a good while and since partnering up with Netflix and streaming the new episodes as they air has picked them up an even bigger audience. The show is kind of a police procedural about a med student who’s newfound zombie status is an ability that gives her the opportunity to aid in police investigations. Lead actress Rose McIver has really turned some heads with this show and I really liked her co-star Malcolm Goodwin on Breakout Kings.

Jailbirds: Season 1 – With the successes of prison television series like Oz, Orange Is The New Black and Wentworth it was really just a matter of time before the reality behind these stories made the leap to television by cutting out the middle man for a total reality series and honestly Netflix is really the only one that could do it well and without tether. The show was shot in Sacramento County Jail and features both the men and women’s side of the penitentiary with more of a focus on the ladies. I recommend taking a look at the trailer as it is very interesting.

ReMastered: The Lion’s Share – Episode eight of this fascinating docuseries debuts today and this time takes a look at the circumstances around the iconic and classic song “The Lions Sleep Tonight” written by a black South African named Solomon Linda, whose family currently lives in poverty in the slums of Sweto. After his death and with the help of a South African journalist, the family pursues the rights to the song, taking on one of the biggest heavyweights Disney to just get back a semblance of their legacy.

Shéhérazade – A new French film, which is a weakness of mine, this drama is a character piece about a seventeen-year-old freshly out jail and forced to hit the streets of Marseille after being rejected by his mother. The few reviews I can find on this movie rave about the realism of this film as well as its style and emotional depth. This might be an international cinema dark horse right here.

New Releases:

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 has been getting some great reviews from its premiere at South By Southwest. I’m excited for this one either way and it’s great to see that the general consensus is lining up great.

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.

The Intruder – Another weirdo trailer I saw recently, 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, I have no real faith in this movie being anything more than an average 90s feeling thriller, much like the Gabrielle Union film Breaking In was last year. (Not opening in Kamloops, Barrie or Oshawa)

Hail Satan? – A documentary on the rise of the Satanic Temple in America, this film is really fascinating and gave me a serious religious epiphany which, before watching, made me confused to the difference between the Temple and the Church Of Satan, something I got called out for by the Church themselves on Twitter. At first, I thought this movie was going to be a laugh and as it started outlining both the church ad temple’s history it felt like that was how it was going to be. Then they started talking about the Temple in the modern era and their beliefs and I started to nod in agreement. Then I noticed that I was constantly nodding in agreement. I have never been interested in being involved in any religion whatsoever but this film from Penny Lane has my brain doing somersaults in thought and I think I want more from my spiritual life. In a nutshell, that is why I think this movie is massively important for everyone to see. It’s time to squash the myths. (Only opening in Vancouver)

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

Blu-ray:

Serenity – The trailer may look intense for this movie with Matthew McConaughey playing the captain of a fishing boat who is lured into a murder plot by his ex-wife, played by a blonde Anne Hathaway, but it is an oddball of a movie that is hard to wrap your brain around. Being the valiant knight he is and in a desperate plea to free her from an abusive husband in the form of Jason Clarke, McConaughey’s ensuing reactions delve him deep into a work where his reality begins to get a bit warped. The film is written and directed by Steven Knight, a great writer who has found success on television with Peaky Blinders and Taboo and in the movies with Eastern Promises and Dirty Pretty Things but this movie lost me about half an hour in with its absurd twists that culminate in a third act that pretty much makes the movie entirely superfluous to me. I really like that challenging of usual mystery plots but, wow, this one is a mess.

Miss Bala – It’s been a bit of a rough ride from woman led action films, especially recently as they search for the next “Jane Wick”. In the last few years, we got a kick-ass Zoe Saldana in Columbiana and Charlize Theron as an Atomic Blonde but had Jennifer Garner stink up the joint with Peppermint. This Catherine Hardwicke film is looking to break that mould with Gina Rodriguez. Based on a Spanish language film, the story has her character going from kidnap victim to vengeance seeker for the death of her best friend. The fact that Hardwicke is the eye behind this feature, her first action film, has me very interested.

Dragged Across Concrete – Writer and director S. Craig Zahler really only has one thing to ask of his audience and that is to have patience, everything will happen in its due time. This was true of the western horror Bone Tomahawk, his brutal drama Brawl In Cell Block 99 and this new violent tension filled foray into the criminal underworld. Mel Gibson and Vince Vaughn play two veteran cops forced into unpaid administrative leave when the media exposes their rough tactics of arresting suspects causing them to look into more illegal ways to provide for their families. The movie is unflinchingly gory and violent but has such a deep root in character, splintering off into, really, four interconnected stories, one with such a shocking finale that it will stick in my mind for a few weeks. This film won’t be everyone’s bag, especially with a runtime over two and a half hours, but it definitely hit me in a great way.

The Hole In The Ground – A movie just brought to my attention this week, this Irish horror story premise is fascinating, about a young boy living in the countryside who falls in a sinkhole and reappears shortly afterwards. His mother begins to suspect that what came out the other side of this fall is not her son anymore as he starts to exhibit some disturbing behavior. You won’t see a lot of internationally recognizable faces in this movie aside from former Game Of Thrones and Braveheart actor James Cosmos but I can not understate how great Irish horror films can be and this one will definitely be tugging on the ultimate fears that parents hold in their hearts.

Never Ending Man: Hayao Miyazaki – A quick little documentary about a man that has had such a giant reach from his animation studio in Japan, this film is about the man behind the beloved Studio Ghibli, responsible for My Neighbor Totoro, Ponyo, Spirited Away and many others. The imagination of a total dreamer is explored as we get a deeper look at the mind behind the scenes of stories that have enchanted generations of fans with future Ghibli lovers to come. If anything, this film is about the special hold animated cinema has in our hearts.

Tarantula! – This might be the ultimate film of those old giant creature features that we as a horror audience find so laughable now because we all remember those black and white shots of a giant spider wreaking havoc on cars and buildings in the 1950s. Shout Factory knows the reverence behind this classic and has put out this brand new special edition which includes film historian commentary on this genre definer from Creature From The Black Lagoon and It Came From Outer Space director Jack Arnold. This was also a time before epic runtimes as the movie is a cool hour and twenty minutes.

Steve’s Blu-ray Geek Out:

The Critters Collection – I pretty much begged my rep from Shout Factory to send me this beauty which contains all four of this silly monstrous creature series, including the Leo DiCaprio one which is part three for anyone wondering. I have had a little love/hate relationship with these movies as when I first saw it they really freaked me out but now as an adult, I have an affinity of the absurdness of the story. It also makes me laugh a lot that the inevitable space journey of these little guys is the culminating premise of the fourth film. Things of note in this collection, Stephen Herek, who made his directorial debut with the first movie followed it up with Bill And Ted’s Excellent Adventure and Riddick creator David Twohy wrote the second film.

The Forbidden Photos Of A Lady Above Suspicion – Going back to that weird and wonderful well of forgotten classics, Arrow Video sent me this one from 1970, an erotic mystery thriller about a love triangle that forms with a newlywed couple and the wife’s adventurous best friend. The plot thickens when a stranger accosts the wife, telling her that her new husband is a murderer, blackmailing her for sex to ensure his silence. This was the first film in Italian director Luciano Ercoli’s less than a decade long directorial career, one that might be his most memorable feature film. He also married one of the stars Nieves Navarro, who was then known as Susan Scott. That’s quite the name change in my opinion!

The Con Is On – A movie starring Tim Roth and Uma Thurman and I have never heard of it? Yes, that is exactly what happened when VVS sent this to me, a film that is so confused by its title that it also goes by the name The Brits Are Coming which is, let’s face it, terrible. It is pretty cool to see these former Quentin Tarantino players get in on some light con artist comedy which is exactly what the movie is. Is it good? Not really but I will watch Roth chew the scenery anytime as he brings his all to every film or television role, something I admire.

Netflix:

All In My Family – A new short documentary that gets its time to shine on a huge platform, this is the story of Hao Wu, a gay Chinese man who hopes to be accepted by his traditional Chinese family against all the history that says it will never happen. Does love triumph in their culture or is he destined to drift further and further apart from the parent who raised him and what happens when a grandchild is introduced? I love deep and intrusive documentaries and this looks fascinating.

Dead To Me: Season 1 – A brand new dark comedy series starring Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini, this series looks phenomenal. It’s about a grieving wife who finds a reluctant connection with a fellow support group member that turns into a deeper friendship. As the two get to know each other, it becomes more and more evident that this new friend might be a lot more trouble than her sweet and spiritual exterior would let on. The show comes from writer Liz Feldman who had the really short-lived comedy One Big Happy with Eliza Cuthbert but this show looks like the defining mark for her.

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil And Vile – Months after the Ted Bundy documentary Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes hit Netflix and became a huge hit for the streaming service, the same director’s feature film of Bundy starring Zac Efron played Sundance and got picked up as well. The film focuses on the time he spent with a single mother just as the manhunt for him was hitting a critical point in the 1970s and I have to say that I have some really high hopes for this movie just based on director Joe Berlinger’s work and the constant improvement of Efron as a lead star. The High School Musical days are so far in his rearview mirror it is ridiculous.

Flinch: Season 1 – Netflix is hitting us with some peak reality competition show so if you were looking for the perfect blend of Fear Factor, Hellevator, Saw and the elementary school game of “no flinching”, well, look no further. The premise is super simple, contestants are faced with uncomfortable or terrifying situations and, if they flinch or react, they are met with some painful consequences. I’m usually not into this sort of television programming on regular networks but I’m sure I will binge my way through it as I did with Ultimate Beastmaster. It’s just too interesting to pass up.

Jo Pil-ho: The Dawning Rage – So there’s a brand new and violent South Korean thriller about a dirty cop shaking down everyone in an act of redemption and you think I’m not going to start raving about it? Of course I’m going to demand people watch this and the fact that it comes from the same writer and director as The Man From Nowhere just sweetens the deal all that much more. Seriously, through this blog, I may make a lot of you Korean film fans eventually.

New Releases:

Avengers: Endgame – It’s finally here! After over ten years of movies and one of the most devastating cliffhangers in any mainstream movie ever we will now see the fates of the Earth’s mightiest heroes. This seems to largely be the end of the line for a large part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as both Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. have stated that this is their final times in these bigger than life roles. Endgame will also provide a first as there is reportedly no end credits stinger as, again, we have seemed to reach the end of this epic inclusive story. and, yes, Spider-Man: Far From Home and Guardians Of The Galaxy Volume 3 are still coming but they are set in the time known as “pre-snap”. 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…

Diane – Making the leap from documentary filmmaking to narrative films, Kent Jones has made a very unique duo of movies. Last year I fell deeply in love with his film documentary Hitchcock/Truffaut but now he as devastated me with this depressingly real but exquisitely acted piece led with relatable fire from Mary Kay Place. The story follows the titular characters as she spends her days working at a homeless shelter, visiting her cousin with terminal cancer and trying to save her drug-addicted son. The movie feels so driven by the real mundane pieces of life and the looming shadow of mortality as death comes and claims close friends and family members as she is left behind to quietly pick up the pieces every time. This film is a showcase of Place’s incredible skill as well as allowing beautiful dramatic moments for Andrea Martin, Estelle Parsons, Diedre O’Connell and Phyllis Somerville. This is an incredible movie. (Only opening in Toronto and Vancouver)

Body At Brighton Rock – Being touted as one of the next best filmmakers in horror, Roxanne Benjamin is ready to blow everyone’s mind with her first solo feature and I’m ready for it because I adored her piece of the anthology film Southbound. This film follows a park ranger who stumbles across a brutal crime scene in the middle of the forest and, in order to preserve it until investigators show up, she must stay overnight with whoever or whatever may have caused it. The trailer is all sorts of brilliance and this movie could catapult Benjamin’s name into the mind of horror lovers as she really deserves to be. This one might make my favorites of the year. (Only opening in Toronto and Vancouver)

Hagazussa: A Heathen’s Curse – A few years ago first time director Robert Eggers wrote and directed a film called The Witch, a gothic slow burn horror film that left your jaw on the floor at the end and I’ve been looking for something like that ever since. The good news is this Austrian movie comes close in so many ways but also frustrates at the same time. The film basically follows the lineage of two women who are essentially cursed. As a child, our main character watches her mother be haunted by an unknown voice and descend into madness until she is later found dead outside in writhing snakes. Now an adult, she lives a shunned life in the same community but holds a reverence to what transpired in her past, determined not to repeat it. Well, we know she will because otherwise there is no movie but the approach to the storytelling in this film seems so disjointed that it may be hard for anyone to get into this movie. I will say it is absolutely gorgeous throughout, even when it is totally disgusting. (Only opening in Toronto and Vancouver)

Blu-Ray:

Escape Room – The next film from horror director Adam Robitel, who made The Taking of Deborah Logan, a really great possession movie, comes this Saw mystery style horror film based on the very popular fad that has been going on for years. The cast looks good, including Daredevil’s Deborah Ann Woll and Tyler Labine but there has been a precedence set where the first studio release of the year, which this was, usually is a horror film, which it is, and it is usually absolutely terrible. I want to believe this could be a cool flick based directly on my need to watch some cool horror but I could be duped again by the “January curse”.

Destroyer – Nicole Kidman is an actress that people either like or do not it seems but there is no doubt that the Oscar winner has resided for a long time on Hollywood’s A-list and given anyone’s feelings on her, every one of these actors has those movies in their career that is a defining role. This is one of Kidman’s. Playing a character who is extremely unlikeable, she stars as a worn down and jaded police detective who is dragged back into a past undercover case that shaped the ruining of her personal life. This movie is a slow burn of dark reveal from director Karyn Kusama, Kidman in the grim driver’s seat as the past is revealed, painting the picture of the hardened and haggard face she displays throughout.

Tito And The Birds – A short hop, skip and a jump of an animated film at only an hour and fifteen minutes, this Brazillian film tells the story of a boy determined to cure people of the disease of “fright”. The animation may be a bit crude in this but what shines through is the abundance of heart in exudes. Using a style that looks like pencil strokes on an oil painting canvas, I was constantly struck by how original the film looked but I doubt that the same will be felt by a more mainstream audience. I firmly believe that if you enjoy the story aspects of something like Coco and Kubo And The Two Strings than you have room in your mind for Tito’s story.

Scared Stiff – Another weird release from Arrow Video, this one coming from the odd horror vault of 1987. The movie is about a singer who is haunted by strange visions after she and her psychiatrist boyfriend move into an old house with connections to the slave era. The original script was written by Twin Peaks co-creator Mark Frost but aside from David Ramsey who plays Diggle in the TV series Arrow, there are no other notable actors in the film. This movie is also so far off the beaten path that Wikipedia doesn’t even acknowledge it. Instead, it’s a Hong Kong comedy starring Chow Yun Fat. What have they sent me?

Steve’s Blu-Ray Geek Out:

Kalifornia – A classic mystery thriller starring David Duchovny, Michelle Forbes, Juliette Lewis and a young, dreamy but entirely murderous Brad Pitt, this is a classic p90s film that I’ve watched many times. Now the collector’s edition is available from Shout Factory just after it’s twenty-fifth anniversary. The movie is about a journalist couple who enlist the help of a guy who may be a serial killer to go on a tour of historical crime scenes of famous serial killers and oh the irony. The feature debut of Gone In 60 Seconds director Dominic Sena, this is a great movie that stands the test of time.

Someone To Watch Over Me – I really love the catalogue that Shout Factory picks up because they love to grab these cheesy little thrillers that I haven’t heard of before yet they star people I am very familiar with. This one, starring Tom Berenger and Mimi Rogers, is about a family man New York cop who falls for the socialite he’s employed to protect and, get this, the movie was made by an absolute legend, Ridley Scott. Seriously? Why did we not know about this? Probably because it was a horrible flop and I doubt even he has any interest in digging it up although the geek in me has to point out that it uses a Vangelis track that was used in Blade Runner.

Strip Nude For Your Killer – Hitting up the Giallo genre again, this new edition from Arrow Video delves into some still controversial subject matter as it centers on a woman that dies in an abortion clinic which inspires a murderer to go on a lengthy killing spree starting with her doctor. The focus of the film includes elements that pushed boundaries in the year it was made, 1975, but it wasn’t something that writer and director Andrea Bianchi ever steered away from as all of his films featured an air of pushing the envelope. I really am loving the dig into this genre, one which I had always just passed off as the “leather gloved killer” movies but I am now discovering the depth to them.

Netflix:

The Protector: Season 2 – I’m throwing the focus on a mystery action series with slight fantasy undertones out of Turkey to start this week because I’ve read some good things about the first season. The show is about a young man who is granted mystical powers by an ancient talisman found in Istanbul. With that surge of power, he must use it to keep his people safe, push back that dark forces and delve into the deep secrets of his lineage to forge his future. More international television, I know, but there is a lot of good stuff to discover there.

Remastered: Devil At The Crossroads – It’s time for the monthly episode of Remastered, this time it follows one of those crazy urban legends we’ve always heard about, hell, there was even a movie made about it and the Coen Brothers even riffed on it themselves in O Brother Where Art Thou? Did legendary blues guitarist Robert Johnson really sell his soul to the devil to get his incredible skill? Something I love about this documentary series is that they will always play headlong into the conspiracy to give it that much more weight and cast your own preconceived notions into doubt. I’ve been waiting for this episode to hit for a while and now it is here. I’m excited.

She-Ra And The Princesses Of Power: Season 2 – Coming from the creators and writers of some of my favorite recent comics, I’m so happy to see that this reboot of an animated classic is not only grabbing the fans of the original series as well as new fans and is forging a path all on its own. Moving into the second season and after the rollercoaster of a plot that was season one, the continuing story is a shorter run of only seven episodes and is less plot-driven and steers more to be singular tales told in full by the end of an episode. Personally, I hope that a third season will be more of a continuing saga as I’m kind of a stickler in that sense.

Street Food: Season 1 – I usually find myself digging into the Food Network programming when I’m all out of pertinent films to watch or need a break from pro wrestling so when a new food-centric binge series appears on Netflix like this one I have to indulge. The focus is simple in this, a global travel show that is focused on the best eats you can get from the streets and the people who make it. I’m a sucker for a world traveller, having come from the television school of Anthony Bourdain, and, although I’m unfamiliar with the host or producers of this one, I need something to fill the void. I’m hungry just thinking about it.

I Think You Should Leave With Tim Robinson: Season 1 – Produced by Lonely Island, we get a brand new sketch comedy series on Netflix and it’s from one of my favorite collaborators currently. For those who don’t recognize Robinson’s name, just know that he is a main writer for Saturday Night Live and is the co-lead alongside Sam Richardson in the hysterically funny series Detroiters. What can you expect from this new show? How about a show where the main goal is for them to get their guest to want nothing more than to leave? That’s the basic premise and they have guests like Vanessa Bayer, Will Forte and Steven Yuen to help out.

New Releases:

Breakthrough (Opened Wednesday) – 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. Hopefully, this film can break out of that slump 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 trailer doesn’t give me a lot of hope for it but surprising things happen when the bar is set low so who knows. (Not opening in Kamloops or Oshawa).

Penguins (Opened Wednesday) – The track record for these Disneynature movies we have been getting every year is pretty damn solid so when I saw that this film was slated for this week my interest was raised. The story of this documentary is Steve, an Adelie penguin on the search for his life mate to create a family, something totally relatable, right? What is guaranteed is that this film will look stunning, especially on the big screen and the attention to story detail even immersed in the reality of nature is always mindblowing in these movies. The partnership between Disney and National Geographic is such a fantastic combo for the audiences who love these types of movies. (Not opening in Hamilton, Kamloops or Oshawa).

The Curse of La Llorona – From the same producers behind the Conjuring universe, James Wan and company, we get a new ghostly horror film but not one connected to that franchise I mentioned. 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 but I’m unsure if she is enough to elevate a movie that looks pretty cookie cutter by its trailer and the reviews I am seeing seems to confirm my feelings. (Not opening in Hamilton).

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. (Only opening in Toronto and Vancouver).

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

The Grizzlies – This movie cuts to the quick very early on with its main and heartbreakingly true core. The young indigenous teens that live in the small towns in the Arctic are dying rapidly by their own hands as suicide rates are spiralling out of control. This movie is seen through the eyes of an idealistic but naive young teacher who believes he can change the trajectory of this by getting the kids into lacrosse. I feel like this movie can be looked on as troubling due to the very “white saviour” approach that it takes but the irony of that still lies within. As much as he believes he can truly give these kids something to live for, the reality is that you can’t save everyone and no bandaid can fix that. I think this is exactly why this film feels so effective and leaves you in silence when the credits hit. Powerful stuff. (Not opening in Hamilton, London, Kamloops, Barrie or Oshawa).

Breaking Habits – Heading into the Good Friday/Easter weekend, this documentary feels doubly ingrained into the festivities as it is also Cannabis Day weekend as well. This is the story of the town of Merced, California, home to a commune of activist nuns who run a cannabis farm. A place that grows natural medicines for everything from epilepsy to cancer, the nuns find themselves constantly under siege from the local sheriff, the authorities as well as nearby cartels. This is such a fascinating film to come out now when the battle over the validity of cannabis as a healing plant is almost constant and the stigma of its drug purposes still linger and clouds the minds of those staunchly against it. (Only opening in Toronto and Vancouver).

Blu-Ray:

Glass – A lot of people like to say that M. Night Shymalan’s days as a great filmmaker are over and, while I will concede that he made three of the worst movies I have ever watched, he has some really great things in his rearview mirror including a solid two previous films. His most recent film Split tied into my favorite of his movies Unbreakable which brings us to the culmination of his superhero trilogy here. The unfortunate thing is this film got some absolutely dismal reviews which had me very concerned but I cherish like a deep guilty pleasure. Not everyone is going to like this movie, it may feel like a huge build to little return but what I loved about it was the character face-off between all three of these characters and, oh man, James McAvoy is doing performance gymnastics in this, the main reason that it is can’t miss.

Replicas – Sci-fi with Keanu Reeves? I’m sold. Will it be good? Actually, it might be cool as it comes from Jeffery Nachmenoff who’s only other directed film is the fantastic thriller Traitor starring Don Cheadle and Guy Pearce. This is a futuristic film about a scientist who learns a costly lesson when he becomes obsessed with bringing his family back after a deadly accident. The story for the film was developed by Reeves himself, alongside his frequent collaborator Stephen Hamel who he also made Henry’s Crime, Siberia and the upcoming Rally Car. This may be just that popcorn fluff science fiction to start your year.

The Kid Who Would Be King – Joe Cornish is a name that people need to know and if this film gets the audience push I think it deserves people will know the name soon. As a director, he has just one other film under his belt, Attack The Block, an amazing sci-fi action mixed with a British urban sort of Gremlins type story but as a writer, he has made films with Edgar Wright, Steven Spielberg and set the groundwork for Marvel’s Ant-Man. Now he looks to revive the King Arthur story in modern days with kids at the center. Adding to that we get Patrick Stewart playing Merlin that rocks Led Zeppelin t-shirts and a villainous Rebecca Ferguson trying to take over the world. Cornish again exhibits his brilliant command of story and style and this movie works fantastically well, an entertaining resurrection and retelling of a classic tale. This is a great film to gather the family around for a Friday viewing. Highly recommended.

Escape At Dannemora – An interesting true story directed by Ben Stiller and featuring a stellar cast including Paul Dano, Benicio del Toro and the Golden Globe-winning Patricia Arquette, this is the prison drama I had no idea I needed in my life until I was about fifteen minutes into episode one. Arquette plays a prison work release program supervisor who gets romantically involved with two of the inmates which prompts her to help them in a daring escape from maximum security. This show is moody with great performances but I find some of the musical choices in it a bit jarring. This is consistent in the first few episodes and really is my only bone of contention I can think of.

Iguana With The Tongue Of Fire – Arrow Video is continuing its collection of fascinating films that we’ve never heard of in North America with this Italian giallo movie set in Ireland, the only one to do so. The story follows the murder of a young woman, discovered in her home brutally slain and disfigured with acid posthumously. This leads a retired investigator to use his past experiences in trauma to profile this serial killer before his kill numbers raise any higher. Released in 1971 and disowned by its producer, this movie and Dario Argento’s The Bird With The Crystal Plumage were the movies that led to the genres quick popularity.

Melo – Got some real genre stuff this week from Arrow Academy with this romantic drama from 1986 about a concert violinist who falls in love with a dancer who happens to be the wife of an old friend from his past. Upon discovering his feeling for her, she fuels the forbidden romance while her husband falls more and more ill, something she may be responsible for. This movie has a lot of plot going for it and comes from director Alain Resnais, a renowned filmmaker in France who did acclaimed films like My American Uncle and Hiroshima Mon Amour. This movie also landed the prestigious Cesar Awards for best actress and best supporting actor, an award show that is very important to European film.

Steve’s Blu-Ray Geek Out:

The Vengeance Of She – My first Shout Factory geek out this week, they hooked me up with this campy fantasy film from 1968 about a young European girl who is mysteriously taken over by the spirit of the queen of Kuma, a lost and fabled city. This is a Hammer Film that was a loosely based follow up to the 1965 movie She, although after a late rewrite all real connections between the two movies were removed and the original lead, Ursula Andress, turned down the opportunity to return.

Willard – One of the oddities of Hollywood, Crispin Glover, graced us with one of his really weird roles about a decade and a half ago, this film, a remake of the classic creepy 1971 horror flick Ben. Directed by the guy who also made the Black Christmas remake, this is actually a really decent remake with Glover pulling gymnastics in his performance complete with more campy schlock than your mind has room for. I’m really happy that Joaquin Phoenix and Macaulay Culkin turned down the lead role because this movie will always stick in my mind and it’s all because of the lead. This movie also features the song “Ben” by Michael Jackson, one that was written specifically for the 1971 films sequel, Ben. Weird.

Kolobos – A strange little horror movie that turns twenty this year and I’ve never heard of it, the film stars former WWE Diva Amy Weber as a girl who just landed her dream job, a three-month gig in an experimental anthology film. Sequestered in a mountain resort with her other castmates, her dark secrets begin to come out around the same time strange and dangerous happenings start to take over their secluded location. This movie has weirdness, style and lots of blood, making it a possible cult classic that no one knew about. Movies like this are why I love being hooked up with Arrow Video.

Netflix:

Cuckoo: Season 5 – This series is an odd one, commissioned by the BBC and starring Andy Samberg before he was unable to return to film the show due to a massive slate of projects and was replaced by Taylor Lautner, which is bizarre casting in my opinion. The show is about a British family who must welcome their new son in law from hell, played by Samberg/Lautner, an American “free spirit”. I really liked the first season but haven’t seen Lautner’s take on the character.

Samantha!: Season 2 – An international comedy out of Brazil, this series follows a former child star looking to reinvent her image after it becomes public knowledge that she was an absolute nightmare in her big break on television, a show she cancelled herself in spectacular fashion. The show looks like it plays into some comedy sensibilities that are very inclusive to Brazilians but the trailer had me laughing a few times. With her weird hairbrained schemes to try and repair the years of damage she’s given her star power, lead actress Emanuelle Araújo is actually pretty adorable.

Someone Great – On paper, this isn’t a movie that I would normally seek out. It focuses on a New York woman who is dumped just before making a cross country move. Relying on her two best friends to pick up the pieces and put her back together, she is able to come to terms with love, loss, growth and appreciate the everlasting bond of female friendship. Barf, am I right? Well, its the cast that makes this one stand out, as it is led by Jane The Virgin’s Gina Rodriguez and features Brittany Snow, Rosario Dawson and the great LaKeith Stansfield, all from writer and director Jennifer Kaytin Robinson who made the really solid MTV series Sweet Vicious. I’m kind of sold on this one.

No Good Nick: Season 1 – A brand new series that is one of those rare family binge shows, this one is about a young teen who moves in with a family who allows her into their home after she claims to be a distant relative. As the relationship develops, the kids in the family have very different opinions on their new housemate and start to dig for secrets. The show immediately caught my attention through the cast, as Sean Astin plays the dad in the family and Warehouse 13’s Eddie McClintock stars in a supporting role as the main’s incarcerated father. That fact that TGIF veteran Melissa Jan Hart is in the series as the mom is an added bonus.

What They Had – A film listed on my honorable mentions of 2018, this movie is a drama with a little life comedy to it. Hilary Swank plays an uptight woman who goes home to Chicago after her dementia-suffering mother (Blythe Danner) starts to decline further, putting a strain on her father (Robert Forster). Given that she has the power of attorney, her exasperated brother (Michael Shannon), the one who stayed behind to hold the family together, tries to convince her to use her position to have her mother and father put in a home. The acting is so incredible in this film and first-time writer-director Elizabeth Chomko crafts an endearing and wholly relatable story that I think is a must see.

New Releases:

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 from the looks of it turned out way better than I could have ever imagined and David Harbour from Stranger Things seems to be the perfect person to take over this fan favorite comic book role. It also doesn’t hurt that Neil Marshall, the guy who made the killer films Dog Soldiers, The Descent and Centurion as well as some of the pivotal Game Of Thornes episodes helmed this movie. I am really amped for this one so I hope it doesn’t let me down.

Missing Link – I’ve been waiting for Laika Animation Studios to follow up their brilliant and resoundingly beautiful film Kubo And The Two Strings and now it is here. 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 looks charming, hilarious and brimming with pure heart. This isn’t one you’ll want to sleep on.

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

Little – With last weeks DC Universe movie Shazam! we got a superhero version of the Tom Hanks comedy Big, complete with a little homage involving a giant piano and this week we get the reverse of that movie. 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 to teach her a lesson about her attitude and how she treats people. I don’t expect a hell of a lot from this movie but I will afford it some higher praise than last month’s What Men Want although the director of this film Tina Gordon actually wrote that movie as well.

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

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. (Only opening in Toronto and Vancouver).

Mary Magdalene – Lion director Garth Davis takes on another ambitious project with this film following the story of Jesus Christ but from the perspective of one of the closest to him, Mary Magdelene. Rooney Mara takes the lead role with Joaquin Phoenix playing the “lord and saviour” but as much as the film breaks the mould of faith-based movies and showing some filmmaking guts I couldn’t really get engaged with this one and felt bored for the most part. Both actors usually impart such a deeply gratifying charisma that just seems to be lost in the void in a story that feels too long and sparse to be called a good film. It’s sad because Joaquin was on such a roll. (Only opening in Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver).

Stockholm – You know what, if you put Ethan Hawke in any movie you know I’m going to give it a chance immediately because he just makes great cinematic choices and this one is such an interesting one. Based on a true story that is absolutely crazy, the plot follows a bank robbery in Stockholm, Sweden in 1973, that had the hostages of the historic incident siding with the robbers, something that was famously documented as “Stockholm Syndrome”. Alongside Hawke is the great talent of Sweden’s own Noomi Repace and the always great Mark Strong and the feel from the trailer is so intriguing< I can’t help but be fascinated with this, Ethan Hawke aside. (Only opening in Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver).

Mia And The White Lion – A film straight out of South Africa, an element you are fully aware of the moment the first character speaks, this film looks like a lovely family story from the outside. It follows Mia, a transplant from London who is not adjusting well to her new farm life, her school or the kids around her. She reluctantly starts to warm up to her new direction when a white lion cub named Charlie arrives at the farm. As Charlie grows, so does Mia’s affection and friendship with him and she begins to acclimate to her surroundings. When Charlie gets to be a dangerous size and age, the friendship with his human best friend is frayed by the protection of her parents. This film takes some dark turns that may be very tough for younger kids to follow, digging into themes of death and animal poaching but the movie is actually pretty enjoyable although the acting isn’t great. Above all that though, this lion is the greatest animal actor I have ever seen, no joke.

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

Blu-Ray:

Holmes & Watson – For a long time we comedy fans have been waiting for a follow up to Stepbrothers or Talladega Nights just to get Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly on screen again as some of our favorite characters. So instead we get them playing versions of the greatest detectives of all time Sherlock Holmes and John Watson? Yes, it’s quite confusing to me as well as I don’t think anyone really wanted a more absurd and slapstick version of Without A Clue but here we are. I want to have even the slightest hope for this movie but the trailer is just god awful, I don’t even think I cracked a smile, and the move cleaned house at an award show but it was the Razzies so that is a kiss of death. I’m so disappointed.

A Dog’s Way Home – Anytime I see a new dog related movie I feel a little bit worried that I’m going to step in a big old pile of canine crap because it’s really hard to get one of these stories that work without sickening amounts of sappiness, bad acting and animal frolicking B roll. This may just mean I’m still angry since Ken Marino’s Dog Days. Anyways, this film doesn’t look any better than the Dennis Quaid movie A Dog’s Purpose, a film that was so bland but still gets a sequel that is currently filming. I guess there’s a market for this but don’t watch the trailer because it is essentially the entire film condensed.

On The Basis Of Sex – The Oscar-bait movie was definitely the intention with this one, following Ruth Bader Ginsberg and her struggle against her own peer equality to fight for equal rights culminating in her first fight in the Supreme Court. This film is punctuated by great performances from Felicity Jones as RBG and Armie Hammer as her husband Martin but it feels like the script and the direction where what kept this one from connecting with me. The Hollywood gloss was felt over and over, giving it a whimsical and very formulaic feeling. I may be on the minority thumbs down side of this but I just wanted more, especially after the stellar RBG documentary last year.

Welcome To Marwen – When I first saw the trailer for this movie I was totally intrigued by this story of a photographer who was brutally assaulted by a group of skinheads and new tells his stories through realistic dolls and created sets that come to life through the magic of the Robert Zemeckis computer animation company Imagemovers. The use of the Foo Fighters song Learning To Fly I thought was a mistake and, through no fault of the song, made me lose interest a bit. Steve Carell, I think, is the draw of moving past bad marketing and the rest of the cast, including Leslie Mann and Janelle Monae, has enough allure to make this an entertaining film, plus that CG looks amazing as always. Although, if you have seen the documentary the film is based on you may wonder why some of the more dramatic pieces are delivered in a more Hollywood glossy and overly melodramatic way, devoid of the emotional weight they deserve.

Mirai – Let’s get this bit of information about me out of the way; aside from a few select films, I am not really an anime fan. I won’t go out of my way to watch them but if it has the awards clout that this one does I will definitely sit down and give it a go. Nominated for a Golden Globe and an Oscar, this film follows four-year-old Kun, a little boy whose world is shaken up when his parents bring home his newborn sister Mirai, causing him to act out in anger especially when he’s feeling the lack of usual focus from mom and dad. Whenever Kun ventures out into the garden he is exposed to a magical world where anything could happen, including his grown-up sister Mirai coming to him and guiding his decisions to shape their family’s path. This movie is impressive with its message, a perfect film to show any child that is about to experience a new addition to their family. At the same time, for me, the film still has many of the things that pull me out of the film, most dealing with the grandioseness in emotions, something indicative of the genre. Even still, I could see around these issues and I think this is one of the 2018 notable movies.

We Die Young – As a kid, I was a huge action movie fan and that included the top guys like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone and the muscles from Brussels, Jean Claude Van Damme. Some of this past fandom still takes hold as I will find myself still gravitation towards these films even though Van Damme has gone to direct to video route through a large part of the last twenty years. This one is no different as he plays an Aghan war veteran who returns home to Washington, D.C. and finds himself mentoring a teen and his young brother who are headed down a dangerous path to gang life. Look, the movie isn’t going to wow a lot of people but it is the rare opportunity for Van Damme to flex more than just muscles and try on a role that calls for a deeper pool of emotion. I’m still intrigued.

The Legend Of The 7 Golden Vampires – You’ve got to love Shout Factory for giving exposure to forgotten films of the past, whether its B grade horror movies, 90s slashers, steamy erotic thrillers and martial arts gems but this one has a great twist. In a combination of genres, Peter Cushing stars as Professor Van Helsing, professional vampire hunter, who teams with seven kung fu trained brothers to reclaim their small village from an ancient vampiric evil that has taken over. Sadly, the movie almost featured a prominent role for Cushing’s usual adversary Dracula played by Christopher Lee but he turned down the role leaving John Forbes-Robertson to do it. This is also Cushing’s last time playing Professor Lawrence Van Helsing.

Ray Donovan: Season 6 – One of the coolest men on television, Liev Schreiber, is back for another season of his hit Showtime series and, admittedly, being so embroiled in watching all the movies I can, this show slipped by me. The story follows Ray, a professional “fixer” who is employed by the who’s who of Los Angeles in secret. The problem is his own family, played by Eddie Marsan, Dash Mihok and the legendary Jon Voight, create even more problems than he can deal with given his extra workload. The new season is solid and has Ray trying to repair his life in New York City after a massive fall from grace, both physically and professionally. The addition of Susan Sarandon to the cast is also a great selling feature.

Steve’s Blu-Ray Geek Out:

The Legally Blonde Collection – Look, this series is definitely not my thing. I avoided watching it since they were released, as I did with a lot of Reese Witherspoon’s back catalogue, but with a new film on the horizon, a musical the just debuted and this brand new Shout Factory box set now on my shelf, I really had no choice but to give in and give them a watch and, you know what? They are actually really entertaining movies. Elle Woods is blonde, yes, but it’s all arbitrary as her character is methodical, driven and a fantastic role model for any girls watching. I would feel happy to let my own daughter watch this when she gets older because to be like Elle is to be focused in a moral direction of success and what’s wrong with that?

Used Cars – I’m a huge Kurt Russell guy but more during his action movie phase in the 80s and 90s. Even still, I was really excited to get my hands on the new Shout Select edition of this comedy which has him playing a young go-getter used car salesman who has to take the whole car dealership on his shoulders when the owner is killed and the lot faces foreclosure. This pits him face to face with his late boss’s brother, a rival salesman played by the formidable Jack Warden. It should be noted that this is Back To The Future filmmaker Robert Zemeckis’s second film, which he wrote with that series’s co-creator, Bob Gale. The importance of this movie is unfathomable.

Sister Street Fighter Collection – A few weeks back I was geeking out heavily about the Shout Factory boxset for Sonny Chiba’s Street Fighter Collection and now Arrow Video has added to that excitement with the feminine side of that early franchise. Included in this glorious boxset is every movie in the series that spanned from 1974 to 1976 with the ass-kicking films Sister Street Fighter, Sister Street Fighter: Hanging by a Thread, Return of the Sister Street Fighter and Sister Street Fighter: Fifth Level Fist. Where the Street Fighter series has the formidable hero of Chiba these films relied on the talents of Etsuko Shihomi who kicked some serious ass. Seriously, she is the first lady of martial arts in my opinion.

Netflix:

A Land Imagined – A brand new Chinese film, this looks like a taught but sombre little thriller. It focuses on a detective who is starting to see a trend in disappearances in the land reclamation industry of Singapore and decides to dig deeper, uncovering a larger conspiracy. Losing sleep and getting erratic in his demeanour, he tries to put himself into the mindset of the common worker but as he furthers his rogue investigation he finds his own life in more and more danger. This movie looks seriously great but it probably won’t get a lot of viewer attention.

Colette – Keira Knightley gives a solid performance and is the ultimate draw in this biopic about Gabrielle Sidonie Colette, a writer who made a mark in Paris by creating a bestselling series of books but the pen name was that of her husband. As her husband was celebrated for her talents, Colette began to discover who she was emotionally and sexually, eventually pushing her to fight for the ownership of her art. The film is driven fully by the strength of Knightley’s fire but unfortunately didn’t prove to be memorable this past award season, I don’t even think it was on anyone’s radar honestly.

Huge In France: Season 1 – French comedian Gad Elmaleh stars as a heightened or actually maybe lower version of himself, a comedy star who is massively popular in his home country but is heading into the belly of a “what have you done lately” beast, the U.S.A. In an attempt to try and reconcile a relationship with his estranged son, the “Seinfeld of France” has many obstacles in his way like the fact that his child is pursuing the vapid world of modelling and has nothing he can relate to his father with and the competition of his ex’s new man, a hard body gym rat that is as intimidating as he is intense. This looks like it could be really funny, almost in a Larry David Curb Your Enthusiasm or Rick Gervais Extras sort of way.

The Silence – A brand new original horror film hits and this could go one of two ways: it could arrive and be awesome or it could land and be, well, Bird Box. The cast is solid with Stanley Tucci and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina stars Kiernan Shipka and Miranda Otto plus the book it is based on has a lot of fans. The downside is it comes from the director of the first Annabelle movie, which isn’t great like the sequel is, but the guy shot The Conjuring, a gorgeous looking horror film, so my hopes are still there. I can’t help but think that this is a lot like A Quiet Place though just looking at the trailer.

Special: Season 1 – Adapted from the memoirs of its star Ryan O’Connell and executive produced by The Big Bang Theory’s Jim Parsons, this show looks to be a niche breakout hit I think. Ryan is a gay man living with cerebral palsy, two elements of his life that he is very unconfident in. Things change for him when he decides to live his life without a safety net. He moves out of his mother’s house into his own apartment, gets his first real job working for a high-end magazine and, his biggest step, puts himself out there in the dating world. This show looks adorably character driven but beyond that looks sweetly inspirational. This is going to be great.