Steve Stebbing

Breaking down all things pop culture

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.

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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.

New Releases:

Shazam! – The DC Universe looks to continue on their upswing with a movie that I know I have been waiting for. The story follows an orphan named Billy Batson who is entrusted with the powers of the wizard Shazam. What does this mean? Well, once the word “Shazam” is said he turns into a grown-up superhero. Warner trusted this to be in the hands of horror filmmaker David Sandberg who saw success with the films Lights Out and Annabelle Creation and with star Zachary Levi in the driver’s seat I am hoping for big things from this movie and so far from advance reviews, we are in for a treat.

Pet Sematary – One of the staple Stephen King novels gets its turn at the remake treatment and the advance word on it is that it is actually terrifying. No, this isn’t just the buzz word to get your butt in a seat, it’s an actual factual from reviewer friends of mine that saw it at South By Southwest. The movie is the story of a family that moves to rural Maine and discover an old burial ground in the woods behind their house that’s soil can reanimate the dead. I was always a fan of the original and, of course, the book so I’m just salivating for this movie.

Sunset – Almost four years ago Hungarian director Laszlo Nemes made a film that will sit in my top movies of the last twenty years, the Soterkommando Holocaust story Son Of Saul, a stunning piece of cinema. Now he returns with this per World War I drama following a woman hoping to get a position at a legendary hat store in Budapest as a milliner but it also leads to her discovering dark secrets about her family’s past. The film is always hovering on the lead played by Juli Jakab, never leaving her side but cinematographer Matyas Erdely differs from his close shoulder squared approach in Saul and allows the distance to breathe which works well in this drama that often feels like a taut thriller. (Only opening in Vancouver)

Acquainted – On first glance at this film you might pass over it without a thought. It has no notable stars, it’s a small contained little drama about two passing ships in the night and, seemingly the biggest deterrent for mainstream audiences, it’s Canadian which is the kiss of death. Underlying, this film is able to cut through those pitfalls to give a two character back and forth in a consistent changing dynamic but only if you’re patient enough to get through it. (Only opening in Toronto and Vancouver)

Carmine Street Guitars – A new documentary that screened at the Vancouver International Film Festival last year and plays the Hot Docs festival this year, this film is a story told over five days at the legendary Greenwich Village guitar store Carmine Street Guitars, an establishment that has seen customers like Bob Dylan, Lou Reed and Patti Smith. The movie isn’t one with that broad of an appeal but those who have music ingrained in their soul and love the history of New York will definitely pick up on this film, which breezes by at less than an hour and a half. Those who don’t will find it a bit of a slog but I’m on the in-between of that and found it enjoyable. (Only opening in Toronto and Vancouver. Opens in Hamilton on April 16)

3 Faces – One of the most important international filmmakers of today, Iranian director Jafar Panahi’s evolution has been fascinating. I learned of his work with his comedy-drama Offside but with his last film Taxi and this one he has interjected himself into a documentary narrative like no other, surrounding himself with his subject. In this film, he employs three actresses of three very separate generations as they travel to the west of Iran. The takeaway from Panahi’s films is how thoughtfully observational they are and this one may be his most yet. (Only opening in Vancouver)

Blu-Ray:

At Eternity’s Gate – Willem Dafoe plays Vincent Van Gogh. That leading sentence should get any film fan into a theatre seat. Adding to that, this is the latest film by Julian Schnabel, the director of The Diving Bell And The Butterfly, my favorite French film possibly of all time. This film follows the period of time that the famously tortured artist lived in Arles and Auvers-sur-Oise, France, his relationship with his brother Theo and his colleague Paul Gauguin, played by the great Oscar Isaac. We also get Van Gogh looking for solace with a priest played by Mads Mikkelsen. Yeah, this one is stacked, and the film, although rather inaccessible to a casual view, has some astonishing beauty to it, mimicking Van Gogh’s own work but incorporating Schnabel’s on the go and always moving and close up approach in style. An astounding film.

Vice – Let me start this one out by saying it’s a simple fact Christian Bale literally turns into another human being altogether, beyond simple acting. His portrayal of Dick Cheney is so chameleon-like that it’s hard to believe this is a scripted film. Don’t let my praise of Bale’s work sell anyone else short as the entire cast is brilliant in their respective roles, the finest ensemble of 2018, each picking up on subtle nuances. Written and directed by Adam McKay, the anger and frustration of nearly twenty years of political exhaustion is felt in every frame of this movie and it is glorious. The narrative chances this movie takes pay off in every way and makes this your must-see movie to end the year.

Bumblebee – Again, just like the DC comics issue, the Transformer series has gotten to the point of “oh god, why another one” as, since the release of the first live-action film, this franchise has depreciated in value one by one until the point that it feels like Mark Wahlberg is starring alongside the clanging of pots and pans. Luckily this new prequel looks to smooth things over thanks to the mind of Kubo And The Two Strings filmmaker Travis Knight who takes on of the more loveable characters and pairs him with the great talents of Hailee Steinfeld. Lo and behold, this movie is actually awesome and removes the spins and tinnitus that Michael Bay has been giving to you for over a decade. As a long-suffering Transformers fan, I am delighted by this movie and have finally a restored feeling of pride when I talk about the franchise. Imagine that.

The Mule – Clint Eastwood directs and stars in this film about a ninety-year-old war vet who has an insanely dangerous way to make money: trafficking cocaine for a Mexican cartel. The trailer looks intense and nerve-racking with Bradley Cooper and Laurence Fishburne playing the DEA agents looking for the prominent mule in the area, putting Eastwood’s character in a precarious balance between the law and the brutal enforcers that the cartel employs. Oddly enough, Warner didn’t ship this one around for award season and didn’t even prescreen it which is never a good sign. From what I hear, this movie moves between being a drama and a comedy, although I don’t think it was intended to be funny.

A Silent Voice – More anime arrived on my doorstep this week and this actually came from the same creator as the last one I reviewed, Liz And The Blue Bird. This film is about a young man who finds himself a pariah at his school after bullying a deaf girl. Years afterward, he seeks to right his wrongs and must seek out the girl, now a woman, for his path to redemption. Again, the reviews are solid for this and it looks gorgeous but there is some sort of disconnect that I’m having a hard time getting around and the melodrama is so heightened that it is so hard to get past.

Steve’s Blu-Ray Geek Out:

Phantom Lady – I’ve got more film noir this week to geek out on with this mystery about a secretary that risks life and limb to locate a woman who may be a key witness that could exonerate her boss in the murder charges against him. The film was made in 1945 and was the subject of some infighting with the writers over screen credits, on that would lead to a $20,000 lawsuit, big money at the time.

The Prisoner – Moving up ten years to 1955, this drama features a megastar at the top of the cast, the legendary Sir Alec Guinness. He plays a Cardinal that is on trial for treason against the Church but has the backing of his people being a hero after World War II, protecting many against the Nazis. The movie comes from the same filmmaker who directed Peter O’Toole in Beckett and was actually banned from screening at the Venice and Cannes Film Festival due to its subject matter but it wasn’t enough to ban it in the UK where it was nominated for five BAFTA awards.

211 – You best believe that if I get sent a Nicolas Cage movie, no matter how bad it is, I will bring it for a geek out because good, bad or downright terrible, damn, he is entertaining. In this film, he plays a police officer in the final days of his career that, along with his partner and a ride along, gets caught in the middle of a violent standoff with a group of dangerous mercenaries robbing a bank. Is this movie good? Well, Cage is the only recognizable actor in it, it was filmed in Bulgaria and in the ending credits the words “vice principal” is misspelled, so, no. Is it entertaining? Hell yes, it is and Nic broke his ankle for this film so you respect him like he was Tom goddamn Cruise.

Netflix:

Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina: Part 2 – This hit Vancouver shot series returns for the second half of its debut season, hopeful to anger the Church of Satan again like it did last year. Kiernan Shipka is perfectly cast as Sabrina and I absolutely adore Lucy Davis as Aunt Hilda, which shows you that not just the name of Sabrina keeps this show in the popularity ranks but talent, good cast chemistry and the writing of showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa does.

Our Planet: Season 1 – If you loved Planet Earth and Blue Planet the Netflix is giving you a big old hug with this brand new documentary series and, yes, Sir David Attenborough is the narrator so all your comfort pieces are in line. Eight episodes make up this new limited series including frozen worlds, jungles, coastal seas and forests and as a fan of everything Attenborough puts his lovely voice behind I am so excited to watch every minute of this and so is my family.

Persona Collection – Some high concept international cinema arrives on Netflix with this South Korean project that has four directors employing the same lead actress in four very different short films that range from comedy to romance to mystery and sometimes all three. As a fan of pretty much everything that comes out of that country film related, I’m really intrigued to see how this will all shake out. Definitely not for everyone.

Roman Empire Caligula: The Mad Emperor – I honestly had no idea this series ever existed, a hybrid of historical documentary and re-enactment, this being the third iteration of it. The focus is one of the most screwed up parts of the Roman Empire history, Caligula, and, to be honest, all I know about this figure is the knowledge I got from the Malcolm McDowell movie from the seventies that was written by Gore Vidal and produced, famously, by Penthouse. I’m sure this one will have more substance to it.

Unicorn Store – Brie Larson makes her directing debut and stars in the film alongside Samuel L. Jackson, her third time doing so after Kong: Skull Island and Captain Marvel. The story is about an artist who has given up her dream and now works a menial office job. Everything changes for her when she is given an invitation from a mysterious salesman to come to “the store” which offers her a chance to purchase her childhood dream, a real unicorn. This movie looks whimsical, strange but also filled with a beautiful childlike heart. I’m hooked on its trailer but I’m also intrigued that it comes from one of the writer’s of Wyatt Cenac’s show People Of Earth.

New Releases:

Dumbo – Disney continues their big 2019 with the first of their three live-action updates of classic films from their animation library. This movie, being based on the original film from 1941, may only hold in the hearts of kids who are deeply immersed in the whole catalogue contained the iconic vault but for us adults in the know, we are aware of the importance of this adaptation. My reservations lie in the director choice of Tim Burton who I think hasn’t made a truly great film since maybe Sweeney Todd. Maybe the reunion between him and stars Michael Keaton and Danny Devito will lead to great things because the trailers show a film that I really want to like. Fingers are crossed on this one.

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

Hotel Mumbai – Dev Patel stars in this true story film about the terrorist attack on the Taj Hotel in Mumbai focusing on the hotel staff that put their lives on the line to save others. Armie Hammer co-stars in this movie from first time writer and director Anthony Maras, relying heavily on the real transcripts from that horrifying day and the reviews are trending in a good direction. I think it’s fascinating that Patel stars in this AND the Best and Second Marigold Hotel movies. Very different experience, I assure you. (Not opening in Kamloops, Barrie or Oshawa)

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

The Aftermath – After her great performance in last year’s Colette, Keira Knightley follows it up with this post World War II drama that looks deeply complex. She plays the wife of a British Colonel who moves to Hamburg, Germany, a country suffering from the post effects of the brutal war. They seize a home from a German family who they keep on as hired help but when her husband leaves on military business her relationship with the widowed patriarch of the family turns romantic. Co-starring Jason Clarke and Alexander Skarsgard, this film looks to be driven by great performances but the trailer shows off the films lush cinematography as well. (Only opening in Toronto and Vancouver).

Giant Little Ones – Coming from a Canadian production, I was really setting the low bar on this teen drama but after taking it in I don’t think I should have. The movie is about Frankie and his lifelong best friend Ballas who’s relationship is splintered when a homosexual experience happens at a sleepover with the two. Without getting too deep in the spoiler territory, I need to stress how great the performances are in the film, starting with the lead Josh Wiggins who gives Frankie an interesting exploring charisma that grows with the viewer. I also loved the performances of Maria Bello as his mother and Kyle MacLachlan as his ostracized father, really great stuff. I also believe that Taylor Hickson is going to be a huge star as she is fantastic in this movie. (Only opening in Vancouver).

Through Black Spruce – If you are a fan of Canadian films and have yet to discover the works of the brilliant writer and director DonMcKellar then you need to get educated right quick because he will blow your mind. He’s back with this brand new thriller centred around the missing daughter of a young indigenous woman from Northern Ontario and the effect it has on her twin, father and mother. The trailer looks intense, almost like this film is a revenge flick in hiding. The reviews are fantastic and this movie killed on the festival market. We certainly need more indigenous stories so I really hope this movie catches on in a big way. (Not opening in Hamilton, Kamloops, Barrie or Oshawa)

Ghost Town Anthology – Canadian films can some times be a total slog to get through but there is something about French-Canadian movies that have a certain quality to them that sets it apart from the rest, probably the fact that it doesn’t adhere to any genre fully. This film is a multi-faceted story about a small Quebec town coming to terms with the death of a popular resident named Simon Dubé, which plunges the rest of the citizens into some existential crises over the circumstances of his death as well as releasing the remnants of the dead to roam the area. This movie is quirky and has odd moments of suspense horror to it but never quite classifies itself in either area which may have been why I enjoyed it as I did. Definitely not a movie with mainstream appeal. (Only opening in Vancouver).

Blu-Ray:

Aquaman – We have gotten to the point that we sigh and roll our eyes when it comes to any announcement of a DC universe film, no matter how much we can say that Wonder Woman was a solid piece of it. Now with this movie, we have to battle that popular opinion along with the long-standing stigma that Aquaman is a lame superhero. As a fan of the character, I’m really happy to see that the film is changing a lot of opinions of the King Of Atlantis because, for one, Jason Momoa is super charming and, for two, the movie is actually pretty great. it’s fun, load and oozes a bravado that is really hard not to get behind. I’m fully supportive of this movie and hope it’s the trajectory of the DC Cinematic Universe going forward.

Second Act – I really hope that Jennifer Lopez still has some sort of a built-in audience because I doubt anyone new is going to be seeking out her movies. This movie has her playing a woman in management at a Walmart like store who is looking to make that big leap to corporate but is ignored due to the fact that she doesn’t have the required schooling. On a whim, her friend’s son invents a fake resume for her that gets her hired to the top product development firm in the city. On paper, this movie seems lame and it really is. There is so much plot deviation in this film that you forget what the entire premise is and Lopez is so disingenuous that it’s hard to root for her as a character. I also don’t think Leah Remini, who plays her friend, has ever been so unlikeable, quipping terrible lines and basically mugging for the camera. This film is a hot turd.

Stan & Ollie – This is an example of a film that it seems everyone else loved and I’m wondering if I missed something. Starring Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly, this is a biopic about the legendary comedy duo of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy but instead of focusing on the origins, we join these two in the middle of their careers with the strain of having to keep up physically and mentally had started to form cracks in their resolve. The main piece of this film is the resilience of the relationship as friends, collaborators and, most of all, business partners. Being about comedy you might think that this would be a comedy itself but it really is far from it. Instead, director Jon S. Baird makes this a character drama, one that rests heavily on the shoulders of its stars and those being portrayed which unfortunately makes the film a tad bland, making its final resting spot in the unforgettable pile. That aside, the cinematography is just as big of a star as the two leads, done by Ben Wheatley’s usual director of photography Laurie Rose.

MFKZ – It’s weird that this is the first I’m hearing about this new animated film but just looking at the trailer and it reminds me a little bit of the BET series The Boondocks. The movie was made by the animation studio behind Batman: Gotham Knight and Tekkonkinkreet and is about Angelino, one of the “deadbeats” living in Dark Meat City, a place where everyone ignores each other’s own existence until a scooter accident caused by a mysterious stranger awakens him to the reality of a monstrous invasion that has made the world the way it is. Featuring the voices of rappers Vince Staples and the RZA as well as Michael Chiklis, Giancarlo Esposito and Danny Trejo, this movie looks like a totally tripped out ride and I think it could be very cool.

Capernaum – Nominated for an Oscar just recently, this drama from Lebanon is a heartbreaking journey through the eyes of a child. The film follows Zain, a young boy who is suing his parents for the simple act of being born. Going through the backstory his mother and father cheat and steal using his help to make a living and when they sell his sister into marriage Zain decides that is the final straw causing him to run away. He finds a young Ethiopian mother who is forced to hide her infant son and decides to stay and help. This movie shook me, a real look into the class struggle, racial divide and poverty in the third world. It will haunt you.

The Body Snatcher – More classic horror gold from Shout Factory as this brand new collector’s edition update features the both the iconic Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi in a film about a ruthless doctor and his student who find themselves continually harassed by the supplier of the illegal cadavers they procure who may or may not be his murder victims. Again killing it with special features, Shout provides a 4K scan of the original camera negative, a new featurette about the restoration of the almost seventy-five-year-old movie and a film historian led commentary track with director Robert Wise.

The Street Fighter Collection – Shout Factory is spoiling us this week and I know Clarence Worley would be super excited for this box set too because we get every film in this classic Sonny Chiba martial arts film series. The set includes uncut versions of The Street Fighter and The Return Of The Street Fighter, as well as both the U.S. and Japanese cuts of The Street Fighter’s Last Revenge and, has interviews with the now eighty-year-old star. This collection is just a gold mine to a classic action film fan like myself and I know a bunch of people who will be picking this up.

Pet Sematary – Just ahead of the remake, which opens April and is getting stellar reviews, we get the thirtieth-anniversary edition of this classic Stephen King adaptation from Mary Harron who also directed the sequel as well. I loved this movie so much and always remember the iconic Fred Gwynne played character Jud Crandell with the line “Sometimes dead is better”. The new Blu-Ray edition has a new retrospective featurette with the cast and crew and a full interview with the director but the important thing is a brand new digital transfer of a horror film that was criminally underrated.

Bad Banks: Season 1 – Kino Lorber hooked me up with this new German television series and I was really excited to discover right away is that it stars my favorite German actress right now Paula Beer. She plays Jana, a woman embedded in the ruthless world of finance and a firsthand victim of it when her boss fires her unceremoniously. but lands a new job for a rival company. This was all orchestrated by her former employer in order to use Jana to gain inside knowledge about her competition. The pilot of the series has some great twists and turns and really looks like it could be a neat six episode Wall Street like thriller.

Rise Of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – This is another case of “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” from a company that usually has more faith in their programming. Digging into the Nicholodeon kid’s shows, I was looking forward to this new Ninja Turtles cartoon but I wasn’t impressed by the initial character designs and when I got to watch the pilot episode, well, the finished animation product might be worse. Honestly, the whole thing is basically held together on the charisma of the voice cast that includes Ben Schwartz, John Cena and the Big Head from Silicon Valley. If you want to see something better just go back to the 2012 version which is actually fantastic.

The Clovehitch Killer – Shout Factory sent this film through IFC Films a little late but I was definitely interested in checking it out. It follows Tyler, played by All The Money In The World’s Charlie Plummer, who is a Boy Scout, a volunteer at his local church and an active part of the community through his father (Dylan McDermott), a popular figure in the neighborhood. When a serial killer starts picking people off, Tyler fascination with it leads him on an investigation that starts to point at his own father. This movie excels with its tension and most notably the performances between Plummer and McDermott. It’s also great to see 90s favorite Samantha Mathis in this as the mother in the family.

Welcome To Mercy – There has been some solid buzz around this horror film from IFC Films although, with no one of note starring in it and a director making just his second feature, this movie doesn’t have any real push behind it. The story is a dark and twisted one about a single mother discovering that she is being possessed, starting with the phenomenon of stigmata. As the reactions deepen, she enlists the help of a local nun and priest to perform some sort of an exorcism. This movie is definitely one that pays off for fans of a slow burn but some may become frustrated by the subtleness the plot is driven with. I enjoyed it but it’s not for everyone.

Steve’s Blu-Ray Geek Out:

My Name Is Julia Ross – Reaching all the way back to 1945, this noir crime drama follows the titular character, a woman who is placed in the employment of a wealthy widow where she is to be a live-in caretaker. Two days later she awakes in a different house in new clothes being addressed by a different name and, beyond that, she is supposedly the daughter-in-law of her new employer. Has she really suffered a nervous breakdown or is she falling victim to a sinister mind game? At only an hour long, this movie is a quick jaunt of intriguing mystery in a time where everything was a bit simpler. Gotta love Arrow Films for these little gems. Fun fact, this movie was later remade in 1987 as “Dead of Winter” starring Mary Steenbergen and Roddy McDowell, directed by Bonnie And Clyde’s Arthur Penn.

So Dark The Night – The crime drama noir doesn’t stop there as Arrow Films also released this film, a story of a renowned Paris detective who takes his first vacation in eleven years at a remote countryside inn. He falls for the hotel owner’s daughter, a woman that has already promised her hand in marriage to another but reciprocates his feeling and when both she and her former fiance go missing he must rely on his talents to solve their disappearance. Playing a rural French mystery, a forgotten genre, this release is a little bit longer in runtime than the last but maybe a deeper dig given the subtitles.

Netflix:

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

Osmosis: Season 1 – This is a weird little Netflix produced series from France and the only way to classify it is to call it a sci-fi mystery thriller with a romance base. Confused? Well, the trailer depicts a Parisian future that has a tech company using their technology to solve people’s love lives by pairing them us with implants put into their bodies but the liberties taken with this body control may be deadly. It looks tripped out but it may just be all in the trailer.

Santa Clarita Diet: Season 3 – The massive hit zombie comedy debuts its third season and I am so happy that this Drew Barrymore and Timothy Olyphant show has grabbed a huge audience because I adore both of them. This season has Sheila (Barrymore) searching for meaning in her newfound, zombified life while her husband finds himself investigating a local secret society. I honestly can not wait to check these new episodes out and I expect a fourth season renewal pretty quickly.

The Highwaymen – Based on the top billing of this Netflix original movie I’m sold with Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson. The storyline is even better, the untold story of two out of retirement Texas Rangers who put away the notorious criminals Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. The film was directed by John Lee Hancock, following up The Founder which is a great movie but the last two entries in the writer’s filmography are The Shack and the Crouching Dragon sequel. Not good.

The Legend of Cocaine Island – A new Netflix documentary the delves into the too crazy to be true side of stories with this one about a normal American guy who dug up several million dollars’ worth of cocaine buried beneath the sands of Culebra, a small island settled about 17 miles off the shore of mainland Puerto Rico based on a outlandish rumor he heard. What resulted was the weirdest Scarface wannabe story that you will ever come across. This film did really well on the festival circuit, then titled White Tide: The Legend of Culebra, and now it gets it’s wide release to audiences.

New Releases:

Us – This is definitely one of my most anticipated films of the year as it is writer and director Jordan Peele’s follow up to the amazing, massively popular and Oscar-winning thriller Get Out. The movie is about a black family terrorized by an opposite evil version of them, a family of doppelgangers, and I was hooked from the first trailer I saw. Peele is starting to build himself the moniker of the modern day mast of suspense and thrills like Alfred Hitchcock, which should come in handy with the Vancouver shot reboot of The Twilight Zone. I can not wait for this movie and I expect it’ll have that staying power like his previous film did.

The Hummingbird Project – A couple of years back I checked out a frozen but decidedly damaged love story out of Alaska called Two Lovers and a Bear from Canadian director Kim Nguyen and really enjoyed it. Now he’s back with a very American tale, about a high-frequency trader and his genius but autistic computer programmer cousin who decide to go into business for themselves and get a fibre optic line run from Kansas to Wall Street to get stock information a millisecond before anyone else, all behind the back of their ruthless former employer. This movie is all about performances, with lead star Jesse Eisenberg giving his usual neurotically nuanced delivery and Salma Hayek as their formidable foe. This one has to be handed to Alexander Skarsgard as the MVP, playing the autism spectrum so well and sporting a cul de sac of baldness against his usual beauty, and the supporting work from Michael Mando is fantastic. Really liked this one. (Not opening in Kamloops, Barrie or Oshawa).

Ash Is Purest White – This film is an interesting character piece from China about how love can completely distort an innocent life and deviate a path. The film follows Tao Zhao’s character Qiao a girl who falls for a brutal gangster as he makes his power moves for turf. She must rely on her quick wit which ultimately is the catalyst to her serving prison time for him and toss her deeper into his world. Zhao is absolutely electrifying as you spend the majority of the movie on her back through her strife. It is totally heartbreaking at times. (Only opening in Toronto and Vancouver this week and Edmonton on April 5th)

Woman At War – I must have some deep love for Iceland, Norway and Sweden or have an incessant need to go there because I keep falling in love with their cinema. This film is a fascinating character piece about a music teacher and choir instructor who is well respected and loved in her community. Her secret is that she is also an environmental activist who goes to great lengths to hobble the local aluminum industry by constantly sabotaging the power to the smelting plant. The film is beautifully shot and the great character work from actress Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir gives us a transparent insight into what makes the “woman at war” tick. Plus they have a great way to show the accompanying music by having the score follow her around in the form of a roving musical troupe. This film takes so many stylistic chances and the audience is better for it every time. (Only opening in Vancouver)

Blu-Ray:

Mary Poppins Returns – Who would have thought that we’d see a sequel to one of the most iconic Disney films of all time and for a new actress to take on one of the most recognizable characters ever but here it is. now to enjoy on your own home theater. The charm is all here as director Rob Marshall has crafted a movie that has exactly the feel of the original, down to atmosphere, sets and set pieces. In all honesty, it may be too close to the 1964 original to forge it’s own identity really but Emily Blunt knocks this performance out of the park, the kids don’t come off as incredibly annoying and Lin Manuel Miranda is totally charming and even rings his own terrible Dick Van Dyke like British accent. And yes, we get a Hamilton rap influenced scene.

Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse – If you’ve seen any trailers for this movie you know how astoundingly original the animation looks in this one and how comic book really it feels. That said, this is, in my opinion, the greatest Spider-Man film ever made, bringing all the different comic iterations of the web-slinger. How is this possible? Well, it’s something called the Spider-verse, something well established in the comics but maybe a little tough for non-fans to get a grip on. What I can say is that this is the best family film of 2019, one that had everyone coming out of the theater with wide-eyed wonder and excitement and now you can bring it home to watch it over and over again. I know that’s what I’m going to do.

If Beale Street Could Talk – This is the long-anticipated film from Moonlight director Barry Jenkins adapted from the novel by James Baldwin. The story follows Tish Rivers, a twenty-year-old black woman living in 1970s Harlem who must fight to get her wrongly accused fiance out of jail, all while pregnant with their child. The performances in this film are beautiful and understated, the two main leads Stephan James and KiKi Layne putting themselves on the fast track to critical acclaim. The notable performance here is Regina King as Tish’s mother, who makes it a personal crusade to free the father of her grandchild and nabbed that Academy Award she deserved, it’s just too bad that the film itself wasn’t recognized or Barry Jenkins who is a very special filmmaker who deserves to be celebrated. Jenkins shows his knowledgeable command of making pure and driven cinema with the most gorgeous of shot framing. It’s hard to believe that this is just his third feature film.

The Final Wish – I’m pretty disappointed that I just found out about this horror film now because it looks really creepy and it has genre legends Lin Shaye and Tony Todd in it. The movie is about a grieving wife who makes a deadly deal with a djinn to bring back her dead husband. The film also seems like it deals with the family dynamics of emotional abuse, which hangs over the main story of their children who return home for their father’s funeral. In all honesty, the film could be absolute garbage but what it does have is a super effective trailer that shows of what Shaye is fantastic at, providing atmosphere and a total creep factor simply through line delivery.

The Deadly Mantis – This is such a cool one, harkening back to the time when giant movie monsters were king and the film in question is an iconic and classic originator. Coming from 1957, it’s odd how much it plays into the release of Godzilla: King Of Monsters, as the story is about a prehistoric praying mantis that is unthawed in the Arctic and then proceeds to devour everything in its path. Shout Factory again shows their love for the material by including full-length commentary from film historians plus the episode of Mystery Science Theatre 3000 it was used in.

Steve’s Blu-Ray Geek Out:

Back Beat – As a big Beatles fan I’m really excited to receive this new installment in the Shout Select series as it is the story of the early years in Hamburg, Germany for the Fab Four. More importantly, the film deals with founding member Stuart Sutcliffe, the original bass player, played by Stephen Dorff. The movie was directed by Hackers filmmaker Iain Softley and was a damn good one in my opinion. The Blu-Ray features include interviews and a full commentary with the director as well as Dorff and co-star Ian Hart. This movie was damn near impossible to find a trailer for.

Dracula’s Fiancee and Lost In New York – Kino Lorber has hooked me up with this weird Eurohorror double feature from French director Jean Rollin, known for his surreal low budget horror and fantasy films. The first film is about a Van Helsing like professor who is tracking down the descendants of Dracula through different dimensional worlds. Yeah, this shit is bananas. Following that is a strange little short film that is described as Alice In Wonderland set against the backdrop of a Manhattan wasteland. Intriguing enough for you? This Redemption release line for Kino Lorber is massively interesting for any fans of messed up cinema. I couldn’t find a single trailer for either of these movies so I can’t even show you the weirdness.

Netflix:

Dehli Crime: Season 1 – Adding to the sweet international television side of the catalog, this series is a partially english language series from India based on a true story. It’s about the investigation of a brutal gang rape, a case that would incense the country and pave the way for the introduction of stricter laws so the victim’s voice would be taken into account.

ReMastered: The Miami Showband Massacre – This month’s episode of Netflix’s fantastic music conspiracy docuseries lands today, again providing a deeper look at stories within the music industry that mainstream media may have brushed off. This episode is about three members of the Miami Showband who were killed in Northern Ireland in 1975 by Irish Nationalists which might be linked back to the government. That’s what I love about this series, the swerves it sends you on.

The Death Of Stalin – Following the Soviet dictator’s last days and depicting the chaos of the regime after his death, this film comes from the mind of Veep creator Armando Iannucci. Unfortunately, the allegations against star Jeffrey Tambor tainted this brilliant film’s release but those who saw it absolutely loved it so I’m really excited to see this film land on Netflix now. For a great base of reference for Iannucci’s theatrical work, I suggest pairing this up with a viewing of In The Loop, which features the late James Gandolfini and the creator’s mainstay Peter Capaldi who unfortunately doesn’t appear in this one.

The Dirt – I feel like I’ve been waiting forever for this great book to be adapted into a movie or series and new here it is, the insane story of hair metal band Motley Crue. I’m not the biggest fan of the band but their story is crazy and I have enough knowledge of them from being a music fan as well as having read the book to know that this could be a stellar music biopic. The cast is pretty interesting too, with Machine Gun Kelly as Tommy Lee, Iwan Rheon (Ramsey Bolton in Game Of Thrones) as Mick Mars, Douglas Booth (Jupiter Ascending) as Nikki Sixx and Aussie actor Daniel Webber as Vince Neil.

Kubo And The Two Strings – If you still haven’t had the opportunity to check out one of the most incredible experiences in animation ever made (high bar, I know) Netflix is absolutely hooking you up with a beautifully told story with rich texture and so much emotion. I fell in love with this movie immediately during my press screening of it in 2016 and couldn’t wait to get the word out. Unfortunately, and like most Laika films sadly, the film underperformed as the studio has yet to produce a massive box office blockbuster. Still, this movie is must-see material.

New Releases:

Wonder Park – Paramount is really hoping that this film takes off, about an amusement park that comes from the imagination of a wildly creative girl named June but, as she discovers, something she created as a child has become real in the forest near her house when she becomes a preteen. The voice cast features Jennifer Garner, Keenan Thompson, Mila Kunis, Ken Jeong, Matthew Broderick and John Oliver but looks like the lower than standard fare we are used to from Dreamworks and Pixar. It may be a surprise hit given the ad campaign push but the trailer is pretty bland.

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

Captive State – This movie looks absolutely fascinating and I have to say ts due to smart marketing with its trailers not giving a lot of exposition and doing almost what Cloverfield did with an alien invasion angle. The film takes place in Chicago ten years after it has been infiltrated and taken over by an extraterrestrial force. Now subservient to their new overlords, the film explores the human dynamics of everyday life, politics and the formation of a resistance. This is definitely my type of movie through in through and I’m really excited about what Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes filmmaker Rupert Wyatt is bringing in this sci-fi mystery. The cast including Vera Farmiga, John Goodman Moonlight’s Ashton Sanders and If Beale Street Could Talk’s Kiki Layne is just icing on the cake. (Not opening in Hamilton, Kamloops and Oshawa)

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

Birds Of Passage – In 2015 I raved about an Academy Award-nominated film from Columbia called Embrace Of The Serpent, a black and white movie about two scientists looking for a life-saving plant deep within the Amazon. Made by filmmaker Ciro Guerra, I was so excited to get my hands on his next film, a collaboration with Cristina Gallego, the producer of Serpent. The story follows a decade in an indigenous Columbian families lives as they traffic cannabis for the Medellin cartel on their way to creating their own little empire and the decline into blood and death on the other side of that mountain. This is a well told and brutal story that may go down as one of my favorite movies this year. Guerra is a powerhouse filmmaker and one that filmgoers should start recognizing. (Only playing in Toronto, Edmonton and Vancouver.)

Level 16 – We get some Canadian filmmaking in the releases this week with Manitoban writer and director Danishka Esterhazy’s sci-fi thriller that would fit nicely next to a few episodes of and Canadian’s work, The Handmaid’s Tale. The story is about a girl’s orphanage of sorts, one where the girls are tested on their cleanliness and virtue as the rise up the floors, which translate to viability levels, in hope of adopting a home. Being on a strict regiment of “vitamins”, the two main characters decided to go rogue and unmedicated and end up discovering the sinister truth to their situation. This film actually hits some great heights in its intriguing nature but I feel the bar was kind of set too high when it comes to the returns in plot reveals but the starkness of the production really works with the atmosphere it projects. (Only opening in Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver. Opens in Winnipeg on March 29th.)

The Quietude – I am usually a huge celebrator of French cinema. Just last week I was praising Gaspar Noe’s Climax and am always excited when one of these films crosses into my pathway. This was no exception, a drama starring Edgar Ramirez in a supporting role but, more importantly, led by The Artist’s Oscar-nominated Bérénice Bejo. The film follows two sisters who had always been close until family drama separated them. Now reunited after a tragedy befalls their father, the women reconnect their emotional bond which brings up all their past problems to the surface. Unfortunately, I really felt disconnected from this movie and the heightened nature of the melodrama was a bit too much. There’s also a very uncomfortable mutual masturbation scene with the sisters that was way too inappropriate seeming for me to cheer on. Yeah, I said it. (Only opening in Vancouver.)

Blu-Ray:

Green Book – A working-class Italian-American bouncer becomes the driver of an African-American classical pianist on a tour of venues through the 1960s American South. Academy Award winner Mahershala Ali netted his second Supporting Actor statue in this film that also took the Best Picture Oscar which I was a bit surprised by. The film is extremely well done and deserving of the nomination at least but I do see the problematic issues with the film, being a white made film about racism and the whole “white savior” complex of the story. It’s also a bit alarming that both families of the real characters say this film is nothing but lies but I really enjoy the film on the chemistry between Mortensen and Ali alone and Linda Cardellini, playing Viggo’s wife, is the unsung hero of the movie.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald – The second installment of the “Fantastic Beasts” series set in J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World has arrived on Blu-ray, featuring the adventures of magizoologist Newt Scamander. This is the one everyone has been looking forward to including myself but I didn’t get to see the film in theaters and, honestly, the reviews were a bit tepid when all was said and done. Even still, I enjoyed the first movie more than most of the Potter movies that came before it as I love seeing all the backstory, dealings and politics that led up to the “modern” era of Hogwarts and the world of magic.

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

The Miseducation of Cameron Post – It’s really interesting that this film came out in the same year as Joel Edgerton’s Boy Erased because this film deals with the real injustice of gay “reprogramming” camps as well. Starring Chloe Grace Moretz, the story follows Cameron Post, a gay teen who force her into gay conversion therapy against her will. The movie was made by writer/director Desiree Akhavan who made the great film Appropriate Behavior five years ago and it’s being highly praised for it’s wit, compassion to the characters and high spirit. The inclusion of breakthrough American Honey star Sasha Lane and 10 Cloverfield Lane’s John Gallagher Jr. has me very intrigued and the certified Rotten Tomatoes rating is another draw as well.

Then Came You – A new comedy with a bunch of actors on the upswing of popularity, this movie may be one that flies under the radar of good films due to great work from Ender’s Game’s Asa Butterfield, Maisie Williams from Game Of Thrones and the leader of The Vampire Diaries Nina Dobrev. The movie sounds pretty original on paper, about a hypochondriac who falls in love with a terminally ill girl looking to complete her bucket list. It’s fluffy and weepy but it may just have enough in the tank to surprise you.

Man’s Best Friend – This is a movie that I have vivid memories of this film when it came out over twenty-five years ago, the trailer, the ridiculous premise, Lance Henrickson and the scene where the dogs swallows a cat in a single gulp, although when I think of it is a horror film which apparently it only is secondarily. The story about a genetically engineered Saint Bernard that goes rogue and kills everything in its path is actually a comedy. You can judge for yourself with the new Shout Factory collector’s edition complete with a commentary track with writer and director John Lafia to explain this madness.

The Craft – If you were at any part of your teen years in 1996 then you know how popular this film was when it came out and you know it started so many amateur witch covens. Robin Tunney, Neve Campbell, Fairuza Balk and Rachel True star in this movie about four outcasts who form a pact that becomes dangerous, deadly and still a pretty solid and entertaining watch. Shout Factory brings this sweet collector’s edition packed with extras, I was so excited to receive this one. It’s quintessential nineties.

Steve’s Blu-Ray Geek Out:

Valentine – I don’t know if you’ve figured it out in this running article but I’m a huge fan of cheesy slasher films from any era and the late nineties and early 2000s were so crammed full of these movies. This one came from Urban Legend director Jamie Blanks and had David Boreanaz, which was during the Buffy/Angel days so I was a fan, but also Denise Richards and Katherine Heigl so you’ll have to get past that. The movie is basically about the lonely kid at school who didn’t receive a Valentine so he became a cold-blooded killer. You know, that whole bag. Shout Factory again out does themselves on this one, just Google the gorgeous cover.

The Fifth Cord – Getting hooked up with Arrow Academy and Arrow video has afforded me the very cool ability to check out classics that I otherwise wouldn’t have on my radar. My latest one is an Italian Giallo film about an alcoholic journalist who finds himself wrongfully accused of the murders he is trying to investigate. This is the definition of classic Italian film as it stars Franco Nero, Django himself, a man that just oozes star power and he exhibits that in a huge form in this film. I am admittedly very unversed with a lot of films pre 1975 but this one surprised me and I really enjoyed it.

Netflix:

Arrested Development: Season 5 B – This is one of my favorite comedy shows of all time, a series its own network seemed to hate, cancelling it three separate times. Well, Netflix seems to have the correct amount of love for it and revived it. I will admit that season four was a bit rough but I really did enjoy it on a rewatch when the “remix” was released, a very nifty little addition to the series thanks to what an incredible platform this streaming service is. Because of this, my hopes will always be heightened.

Love, Death & Robots: Season 1 – This has got me hook, line and sinker as I’m a sucker for a good anthology. Simply put this is eighteen animated short films written and directed by Deadpool’s Tim Miller and executive produced by the great David Fincher. The trailer is frenetic, in your face and totally pulse-pounding, it has me so pumped up for the launch on Friday. This is definitely the binge-worthy gem you’ve been waiting for, stoners!

Paskal – This delves into the international action side of the new content, as this film comes from Malaysia and looks very intriguing. The film follows a group of special forces elite unit within the Royal Malaysian Navy called PASKAL or Pasukan Khas Laut. The story depicts a true mission they were sent on under Lieutenant Commander Arman Anwar to rescue a tanker occupied by Somalian pirates, kind of like the tactical team that showed up to save Captain Phillips. This could be a great one.

Turn Up Charlie: Season 1 – I’ve been looking forward to this series ever since Idris Elba signed his Netflix deal. He plays a DJ named Charlie who has struggled to find any success in the industry. To make some extra cash he reluctantly decides to be the babysitter for his rich friend but with one simple catch, the kid is an absolute nightmare. I’m a huge fan of Idris’s work and I’m really interested to see him take on some lighter fare in a comedic show. I think this may be the best one as far as new original series goe this week.

Triple Frontier – A Most Violent Year director J.C. Chandor and the Academy Award-winning writer of The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty team up to create this new action thriller featuring the killer cast of Oscar Isaac, Ben Affleck, Charlie Hunnam, Garrett Hedlund and Pedro Pascal. The film is about a team of special forces who, disillusioned with the low pay scale they got from their country, decide to take their payment by orchestrating a heist against the criminals they were once paid to take down. The trailer for this one is intense, can’t wait to see it.

New Releases:

Captain Marvel – It feels like forever since a large part of the Marvel universe got dusted at the end of Avengers: Infinity War at the hands of Thanos and now, after so many long months of waiting, we get the main to piece to the Mad Titan’s defeat. Battling trolls even before she battles Skrulls in the movie, people already are throwing shade at star Brie Larson but I think she is perfectly suited to play the strongest character in the MCU. I also love that this story takes place in the mid-nineties and has a de-aged Samuel L. Jackson and Clark Gregg plus the villain is played by a great villain actor, Ben Mendelsohn. I am so freaking hyped for this movie.

Blu-Ray:

Creed II – Under the tutelage of Rocky Balboa, light heavyweight contender Adonis Creed faces off against Viktor Drago, the son of Ivan Drago. Hey, what can I say? I’m an 80s action film kid so of course, I’m a Stallone fan. I’m game anytime they bring Rocky out and this film does not disappoint. Sure, it misses the touch of Ryan Coogler but the fight scenes are fantastic, seeing the continuing love story between Donny and Bianca is so great and the return of Dolph Lundgren to the Drago role is an experience I didn’t know I had been waiting for until it was upon me. This movie kicks some serious ass.

The Favourite – Director Yorgos Lanthimos returns to astound after The Killing Of A Sacred Deer and The Lobster, this time directing a film that he had no hand in writing at all. The movie has The Crown actress Olivia Colman playing Queen Anne, frail and descending into madness during the 18th century. Her closest friend, played by Rachel Weisz, dotes on her constantly and handles the business portion of her rule but things are put to the test when a new servant arrives in the form of Oscar-winner Emma Stone and a jealous battle ensues. This film is absolutely amazing, like a dark comedy version of Stanley Kubrick’s Bary Lyndon, and deserves all the accolades it is getting. All three women are incredible but Colman is the focus and will now break through to the A-list after winning both the Golden Globe and Oscar for Best Actress. This is my number one for 2018, more because I didn’t see Suspiria until this year but I still let it stand in that spot.

Instant Family – A couple find themselves in over their heads when they adopt three children, a teen, a preteen and a six-year-old. Starring Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne, this film is actually based on the experience of the writer and director Sean Anders, who Wahlberg made both of the Daddy’s Home movies with. This movie is a really weird mix bag of odd dramatic choices with corny music, moments that felt like an infomercial for adoption and a smattering of funny moments. Both the lead stars are charming either on their own or together but it really isn’t enough to save the film for me. I’m baffled to why the Rotten Tomatoes score is so high and certified.

Ben Is Back – Whoever is managing actor Lucas Hedges career is seriously as gifted as this young star is because he is making all the right moves in Hollywood. Look at his resume and you’ll see. This time around he plays a young man returning home from rehab to his loving mother played by Julia Roberts. His addiction and actions before going away caused a deep rift between mother and son but, wanting to make up for his past, he ends up falling back down the path which almost destroyed him to get final closure. I’m not usually a big Julia Roberts fan but the story of this film has me very interested as well as the always stellar work Hedges brings to his performances.

Vox Lux – This film almost looks like the story of a Lady Gaga style pop singer, played by Natalie Portman in a performance that is getting some notoriety with critics. The film is written and directed by actor Brady Corbet who, in his second feature, is hitting some grand scale filmmaking here with some absolutely gorgeous art direction and visuals. My issue with the film is that after it’s violently shocking opening, the film never seems to achieve any other grand scale, aside from a scene in a diner with Portman’s Celeste character and her daughter and the final concert scene which features music by written by Sia. I also think the choice of having Raffey Cassidy play both the younger version of Celeste and her daughter was a little confusing and offputting.

Free Solo – Follow Alex Honnold as he becomes the first person to ever free solo climb Yosemite’s 3,000ft high El Capitan Wall. With no ropes or safety gear, he completed arguably the greatest feat in rock climbing history. This movie made me say “nope” almost like a mantra but I was so happy to see this film win the best documentary Oscar, especially since my favorite docs of the year, Won’t You Be My Neighbor? and Three Identical Strangers weren’t even nominated. This movie will test you though and Alex’s final ascent to the top will keep you gripping your seat in the sheer terror of that notion of falling into nothingness. As a man with a severe fear of heights, this one damn near gave me an anxiety attack.

Don’t Go – A new mystery thriller starring Stephen Dorff and phenomenal Aussie actress Melissa George, this film is about two parents grieving the loss of their young daughter in a freak accident on the beach. Dorff’s character keeps having vivid dreams about the day she died and believes it is a conduit to the other side and that he can pull his daughter back through to the land of the living. Unfortunately, from what I’m reading, the movie focuses on the moroseness from both characters rather than thrills and intrigue.

The Mercy – A true story from a director well versed in bringing these stories to the big screen, Oscar winners Colin Firth and Rachel Weisz star in this film about amateur sailor Donald Crowhurst who tried to sail the world by himself. This looks like an enduring film about perseverance against the elements of the sea and the emotional connection to his family back home. I’m interested in hearing one of the final film scores from Jóhann Jóhannsson, who passed away at the beginning of 2018, and the cinematography from the eye being Into The Wild and The Motorcycle Diaries’ Eric Gautier.

The Vanishing – This movie looks really great, bout three lighthouse keepers who find themselves in possession of a chest full of gold with the prospects of some really bad men coming after it. The film stars Gerard Butler and Children of Men’s Peter Mullan but I find the filmmaker behind it interesting as he directed many episodes of Tom Hardy’s series Taboo and the Danish version of The Killing. Also having it lensed by the guy behind the fantastic Mads Mikkelsen film Flame & Citron is awesome as well.

Welcome Home – Aaron Paul and Emily Ratajkowski star in this dopey little thriller about a couple that head out to a remote air BNB in Italy, trying to recoup the relationship after an affair almost broke them up. Too bad this house is filled with cameras for the creepy neighbor to spy on them. Beyond the initial premise of this movie, there is not a single interesting thing to be had in this movie. Both Paul and Ratajkowski might as well be playing themselves in their own wardrobes it looks like and it all seems to be a ploy just to see the former model naked as much as possible. This is not some to satiate us until the Breaking Bad movie, Jessie!

Liz And The Blue Bird – With all the different things Shout Factory has been sending me, one thing I’ve been trying out is anime and I’m not sure that it’s a fit for me. Take this film for example, it’s not totally fantasy or sci-fi driven but is about two girls joining together to earn a prestigious music scholarship but also running alongside the story in a connected but parallel existence that I can’t explain due to utter confusion is Liz and the Blue Bird, based on a German fairy tale. This is the thing about anime that makes me stop wanting to continue. The convoluted stories, loose plot and high pitched and annoying voice over. Pass on this one.

Steve’s Blu-Ray Geek Out:

Four Weddings And A Funeral – Another addition to the Shout Select series, this is the movie that pushed Hugh Grant into the international spotlight and made Andie MacDowell the “it” girl for a while. I believe this is also the first big theatrical hit for Richard Curtis as well. The movie is pretty simple, about a bachelor that falls in love over the course of five big events, well, that are told to you in the title. This is definitely a Brit classic and a worthy one at that.

The Poison Ivy Collection – Four steamy thrillers starring four separate actresses in the manipulative lead roles with Drew Barrymore, Alyssa Milano, Jamie Pressly and Miriam McDonald in each respective film, although I couldn’t tell you who that last one is other than she is Canadian. Shout Factory has gifted me this set of films that I assume will go from bad to worse but the first two hold that special place as they were released in an era that I wasn’t allowed to watch them being taboo at my age. It is not well known that the first two films were directed by women and the one who started it all, Katt Shea, provides commentary on each movie.

Waterworld – This epic movie that was the most expensive movie of its time gets another chance to shine again as it deserved with this brand new limited edition which includes a longer version only seen in Europe called the “Ulysses Cut”. This movie, I thought, was unfairly maligned and was actually pretty groundbreaking for an epic film in the mid-nineties, one I remember seeing in theaters and absolutely loving. It created it’s own rich world, a post-apocalypse we’ve never seen before complete with a tested hero in Kevin Costner and a formidable villain in the amazing Dennis Hopper. This one still holds up too.

Netflix:

After Life: Season 1 – Whenever I hear the name Ricky Gervais I am automatically interested, especially in series form, as this is the man who brought us The Office, Extras and Derek, plus the countless other things he has been a part of. This series looks so great, although it looks like it will play on some heavier themes like his last one. The series follows a man that goes from Mr. Nice Guy to social terror with a don’t give a shit attitude when his wife dies. A good cast around Gervais with The Strain’s David Bradley playing his father, It’s All Gone Pete Tong’s Paul Kaye and his Extras co-star Ashley Jensen.

The Order: Season 1 – This one looks like it could go one of two ways, cool or super cornball. It is a supernatural mystery series about a college student who finds himself trapped in an eternal war between werewolves and warlocks after his mother, the only one protecting him, is murdered. The trailer makes me think it has a built-in audience on Netflix with those who have binged Supernatural, The Vampire Diaries and The Magicians and it really made me laugh to see that the headquarters for the main characters is Riverview in Coquitlam, B.C.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall – Definitely, one of my favorite comedies of the 2000s this Jason Segal movie will always have a place in my heart. The story is about Peter, a guy who just went through the most brutal break up with the supposed love of his life. To try and get over it he goes on a solo vacation to Hawaii only to find out that his ex is there with her new boyfriend Aldus Snow played by the insane Russell Brand in the first role I ever saw him in. If you haven’t seen this one yet you have to change that immediately.

Happy Gilmore – An absolute Sandler classic, you know, back when his movies were hilarious and the juvenile nature of his movies was charming. He stars as a hockey player booted out of the sport for his temper who puts his skills to use playing golf in order to save his grandmother’s house. This culminates in him defeating the great Shooter McGavin, played fantastically by Christopher McDonald. You know, the guy who eats pieces of shit for breakfast.