Steve Stebbing

Breaking down all things pop culture

New Releases:

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

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

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

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

Blu-Ray:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Steve’s Blu-Ray Geek Out:

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

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

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

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

Television:

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

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

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

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

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

New Releases:

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

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

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

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

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

Blu-Ray:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Steve’s Blu-Ray Geek-Out:

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

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

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

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

Television:

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

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

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

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

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

New Releases:

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

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

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

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

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

Blu-Ray:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Steve’s Blu-Ray Geek Out:

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

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

Television:

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

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

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

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

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

New Releases:

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

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

Motherless Brooklyn – Edward Norton is back behind the camera for the first time in almost twenty years with this new detective noir drama where he plays a private investigator’s helper who takes it upon himself to unravel a mystery that gets his boss killed. It should also be mentioned that Norton’s character suffers from Tourette’s Syndrome, which is sometimes played for laughs. The film is an engaging film with a great script but no one in the film is particularly amazing, no standouts that I could see. The film is a little rough around the edges and could be trimmed down a bit, plus there was a bit of additional dialogue that felt a little tacked on. (Not opening in Kamloops and Oshawa)

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

Jojo Rabbit – I don’t think I’ll ever be able to understand how Taika Waititi is able to be such a deeply adorable man, even when he plays Adolf Hitler, but here we are. This is the story of a young boy growing up in Nazi Germany, enrolled in the Hitler Youth program, with designs on becoming the fuhrer’s best friend. All of young Jojo’s ego and courage comes from his imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler, played by the aforementioned Waititi in the most hilarious way possible. To truly enjoy this movie you really have to throw away any offended feelings you have because the film is the height of pure satire. That in mind, the performances from everyone are so top-notch, which includes Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell and Leave No Trace standout Thomasin McKenzie. (Only opening in Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver)

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

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

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

Blu-Ray:

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

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

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

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

Steve’s Blu-Ray Geek-Out:

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

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

Television:

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

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

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

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

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

New Releases:

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

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

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

The Lighthouse – Ever since I saw The Witch at a press screening in 2015 I have been waiting rabidly for the new Robert Eggers film and he did not disappoint. Shot in black and white and in a 1.19:1 aspect ratio (basically a square on the movie screen), this is the story of two lighthouse keepers who arrive to run the light on a New England island in 1890. In two incredible and award-worthy performances, Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe descend into isolated madness before your eyes and I’ve never seen anything like it. The description I’m trying to push to describe this film is it’s like if David Lynch wrote a sea shanty and put it on the big screen. (Not opening in Hamilton, Kamloops, or Oshawa)

Parasite – This film was an amazing way to start out my coverage of this year’s Vancouver International Film Festival, some great Korean cinema from one of the masters, Bong Joon-Ho. In his return to all Korean film, he tells the story of a family of con artists who grift their way into a rich family’s lives as a chauffeur, housekeeper, tutor and personal assistant respectively. They think they’ve hit the big time until the former housekeeper shows them a deep secret that she’s been hiding in their employer’s house that blows everyone’s situation up. Joon-Ho crafts another incredible masterpiece of a movie that’s filled with twists, incredible cinematography and the amazing ability to tell stories within a story. He never relents in showing that he is not only one of the greatest Korean storytellers today but one of the best in cinema today. (Only opening in Toronto and Vancouver)

Blu-Ray:

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

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

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

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

Steve’s Blu-Ray Geek Out:

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

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

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

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

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

Television:

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

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

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

Dolemite Is My Name (Netflix) – Eddie Murphy makes a triumphant return to feature films with this fantastic biopic, directed by Hustle And Flow’s Craig Brewer. Murphy plays Rudy Ray Moore, an ageing performer who made the big move from Arkansas to Los Angeles but hasn’t found any success whatsoever. His big break comes when he decides to gather the tall tales of a bunch of nearby hobos and packages them in a new larger than life pimp character named Dolemite, which leads to huge success in his self pressed album and a growing ambition that eventually has him wanting to make movies. Murphy is incredible in this movie but it’s the performance of Wesley Snipes as D’Urville Martin that floored me, a total game rejuvenation. Definitely see this one.

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

New Releases:

Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil – We are now at the point of these Disney live-action re-imaginings that we are headed in the sequels to these films as the one to kick it off, a version of Sleeping Beauty that focusses on the villain, now sees an expansion to their story. Angelina Jolie returns in the title role, now godmother to Aurora played again by Elle Fanning, Maleficent finds herself at odds with the family of Aurora’s soon to be husband. Feeling threatened, she starts to unleash her full powers again, wreaking havoc in another special effects extravaganza. The film is made by Joachim Ronning who made the astounding films Kon-Tiki and Max Manus: Man Of War but then proceeded to make the kind of ho-hum Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales so hopefully this will be a sort of return to form but with this type of film he just may be acting as a studio director.

Zombieland: Double Tap – Ten years ago from just a couple of weeks back I was sitting in the theater laughing my ass off at the debut of director Ruben Fleisher, Zombieland, a fresh and funny rejuvenation of the zombie genre the kickstarted the undead for another couple of years. Written by a then-unknown Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, seven years before Deadpool would catapult them to where they are now, they gave us the characters of Columbus, Tallahassee, Wichita, and Little Rock who return to the screen after ten years of survival in the post-apocalypse, planning a more permanent move into America’s heartland but dealing with a new threat of evolved zombies. More survivors join the pack, with new cast members Rosario Dawson, Luke Wilson, Avan Jogia and Zoey Deutch and the latest trailer features a hilarious scene with Thomas Middleditch. I’m excited for this one.

Jay And Silent Bob Reboot – As an uber fan of Kevin Smith I am game for anything the writer and director is going to put out and, strictly speaking, this is just a movie for fans like me because he’s dusting off the classics for a new adventure and I am so here for it. To follow up on their last solo adventures in Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back, this movie has Jay and Silent Bob returning to Hollywood to stop a reboot of ‘Bluntman and Chronic’ movie from getting made with so many different celebrity cameos and favors called in from Kevin as well as a villain played by Chris Jericho. This is like all of my worlds colliding around the guy who inspired me to be here in the first place. Very cool. (Not opening in Hamilton, London, Kamloops or Oshawa)

By The Grace Of God – I will start right off the bat by saying that it’s a good thing I watched this film in the form as a screener at home because I had a very visceral knee jerk reaction of anger at this film, a story about pedophilia in the Catholic church. The film follows three men who were close friends in Scouts as children, where the were preyed on by the priest who ran the camp. Slowly the movement grows as more come forward and the lies, manipulation and cover-ups begin to be revealed in a public light. I found myself yelling at my television, unable to hold my disgust with the reveals in this film, which is director Francois Ozon’s best since 2003’s Swimming Pool. The film is maybe a tad too long but it definitely plays like the French version of Spotlight. (Only opening in Toronto and Vancouver)

Lucy In The Sky – When I saw Fargo and Legion showrunner Noah Hawley’s name attached to this movie as director and screenwriter of this brand new drama starring Natalie Portman I was really excited as he is one of the best television storytellers working today but apparently that only translates to the long-form of episodic work. Portman plays astronaut Lucy Cola who returns to Earth after a life-altering experience during a mission to space and begins to lose touch with reality in a world that now seems too contained for the changes she is going through. Unfortunately, the reviews are very tepid on this film, some calling it too confused and jumbled despite a stellar performance from Portman, which kind of goes back to my comment about Hawley working better in a longer format. I’m still very curious about the film myself. (Only opening in Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver)

Monos – This movie is an example of an indie film where I was left in awe of, foremost for its production design and execution. Seriously, how did they make this? The film is an ambiguously set story of eight kids with guns who are watching over a hostage and a conscripted milk cow on a mountaintop and it is one of the most gorgeous things I have seen this year. Director Alejandro Landes crafts a mesmerizing tale that is a sort of adaptation of William Goldman’s Lord Of The Flies with incredible feats of realism throughout. I’m still perplexed about how the scene in the river rapids was done. Mystified. (Only opening in Toronto and Vancouver)

Before You Know It – I knew nothing about this little film from writer and director Hannah Pearl Utt before watching this new dramedy, a film that features her in the lead role alongside co-writer Jen Tullock. The story follows two sisters coping with the death of their recently passed away father, a once-famous playwright. With the New York theatre and apartment above being in his name, the two are surprised to find out that the building is in the name of their mother, someone they were told was dead but is actually a famous soap actress. This movie manages to be poignant and funny with the relationship of these two sisters but can still come crashing down with the emotional beats. I really liked this one. (Only opening in Toronto and Vancouver)

Immortal Hero – This movie is a mysterious one to me as it just crossed my desk and I have little information on it. The film is Japanese and follows a highly successful Japanese author and publisher who starts making more grandiose choices in his life after a near-death experience forces him to reevaluate his existence. Feeling reborn, he commits his life to share the wisdom he receives believes to have been received from the spiritual realm as doubters and detractors, including some of his own family, challenge and question his new-found enlightenment. This film looks like it will fit in with the fans of stories like The Celestine Prophecy or The Secret, appealing to those who seek more spiritual centred content in their films. (Only opening in Toronto and Vancouver)

Blu-Ray:

Stuber – I feel like that who have enjoyed the Guardians Of The Galaxy or Infinity War know that Dave Bautista has some great comedy chops so, on the outside, this looks like an immediate win by pairing him with the hilarious Kumail Nanjani known for his role in Silicon Valley and the brilliant comedy The Big Sick, one that he wrote as well. The story has him as Stu an Uber driver who picks up what he assumes to be a normal customer. Unfortunately, the guy he picks up is Vic a reckless detective looking to make a dent in some crime. This movie, while being a bit formulaic and predictable, is a lot of fun because of the two stars and their chemistry and the action is frenetic and stylized making sure there isn’t a wasted moment.

Crawl – Judging this movie by its basic plotline and poster, this movie would look like your standard survival thriller fare we our main characters battling the elements to predictable results. I’m happy to report that this movie is directed by Hills Have Eyes and Horns director Alejandre Aja so this movie goes anywhere but the beaten path. The film has Maze Runner and Pirates Of The Caribbean star Kaya Scodelerio as a woman attempting to rescue her father after a category five hurricane from a sinking house and to make matters worse they are being hunted by a group of alligators. The bonus to having such a cool director in a story like this is that Aja ramps up the gore, something he has consistently brought to all of his movies, and his style is uniquely disturbing sometimes as I’m still reeling from at least one kill per movie and that’s not a joke.

The Art Of Self Defense – Filmmaker Riley Stearns follows up his incredible debut film from 2014, Faults, with this dark comedy about a socially awkward accountant named Casey who finds himself looking for answers after being brutally beaten during a mugging. He believes the next step in his life is martial arts, taught by the enigmatic “Sensei” who takes a special interest in him. This movie is absolutely wild, unpredictable in its story and containing reveals that will have you laughing hysterically and gasping in surprise. This is possibly my favorite movie this year and one that is seriously going to knock a lot of people through a loop.

The Haunting Of Hill House – Based on the novel The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, this story has been made a few times before but not by Mike Flanagan, a horror director at the top of his game and the perfect fit for this series that took in many of Netflix subscribers. Now it’s on Blu-ray and the difference is that all of these episodes have been extended in a director’s cut of this first series, a precursor before The Haunting Of Bly House, which is currently filming in Vancouver, hits Netflix next year. Keep in mind that every single shot in Hill House has a hidden ghost in it so get this release and happy hunting, everyone!

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

Night Hunter – Henry Cavill leads this new thriller alongside Sir Ben Kingsley who plays a weathered Lieutenant who finds himself tangles up with his own police force and a local vigilante in the investigation of a recently arrested, troubled man who’s linked to years of female abductions and murders. The film also features Stanley Tucci, Alexandra Daddario and good Canadian kid Brendan Fletcher doing his great psychological work as the suspect in question but this film is getting horribly panned by critics, being called totally contrived and cliched throughout. This is very disappointing as I really like Cavill’s work and I feel like I haven’t seen him since Mission: Impossible: Fallout.

Killer Nun – Arrow Video arrives this week with a total weirdo film that is part insane murderer movie and part sex romp with blood. Yes, totally out of this world in the description but the film has a bit of a cult following. Made in 1979, the film is pretty simple to make a synopsis about as it a demented nun that is drifting through morphine addiction into madness, lashing out in acts of lesbianism, torture and death, endangering the staff and patients around her in the general hospital she practices at. This movie is absolutely bonkers and deserves to be watched with a group of friends to truly appreciate the “Rifftrack” quality of this insanity. This was Italian director Giulio Berruti’s second and final film as he walked away from the industry entirely afterwards. Once you’ve made gold I guess you have to walk away, right?

Spongebob Squarepants: Season 10 – I’ve definitely said this before on the show but I don’t need my kids to be around to watch my favorite underwater seas sponge because I will watch this insane show at any time because I believe the show is funny no matter if you’re a kid or an adult and it is especially funny if you are a stoner like I am. This is a little bittersweet as creator Steven Hillenberg passed away just late last year, but he was fully present for this season that aired from October 2016 to a year later, and his touch was always amazing with these characters. This season also brought back the recurring voices of Ed Asner and Seinfeld’s John O’Hurley as well as guest stars like J.K. Simmons, Steve Buscemi and Joe Pantoliano. This is definitely a box set I can get lost in.

Star Trek Picard: Movie & TV Collection – With the Picard series set to launch on CBS All Access at the end of January, Paramount has put together this collection which includes pivotal pieces of television with the episodes The Best Of Both Worlds and Chai Of Command, the best featuring the iconic captain, as well as Generations, First Contact, Insurrection and Nemesis, films I’m pretty happy to have Blu-ray copies of now. This is a great boxset for any Trek fan, although many may own these already, but to have them in a focused set about Jean Luc Picard is pretty damn cool.

Steve’s Blu-Ray Geekout:

Malevolence Trilogy – These movies showed up to me out of the blue as part of a horror trilogy released by director Stevan Mena’s own releasing company Mena Films. The story is pretty interesting to start, with a bunch of bank robbers heading to a remote farmhouse they believe to be abandoned and, of course, it’s not. Inside is a bloodthirsty serial killer looking to dispatch everyone. Interestingly enough, the first film is actually the middle piece of the main story as the second film Bereavement serves as the origin story of our killer and the third movie is the finale. Either way, as far as B-movie horror goes you are definitely going to be entertained by the three movies because this guy takes his horror damn seriously.

This Magnificent Cake! – I love the title to this movie but that’s all the enlightened attitude you will get from this stop motion animated short film as it is going to depress you with its subject matter. The movie is about the 18th century colonial Africa told in five separate tales, one about a king with a serious dilemma, the next about a pygmy who works in a swanky hotel, followed by a down and out businessman on a life building trip, a luggage handler who has lost his way and, finally, a young soldier who went AWOL from his mission. The forty four-minute short is gorgeously done but it will leave you feeling a bit disturbed.

Diamantino – I love the storyline for this film, about a really dim soccer player who fails out of his career in grand fashion at the World Cup and that’s just the beginning of his problems. In his quest for a new purpose, he ends up getting involved with an alt-right anti-EU hate group, crazy eugenics and even more deep state madness through an Italian filter. The movie has been described as an Adam Sandler movie run through the lens of Passolini which is an insanely hilarious way to approach it and to throw you through an even bigger loop, this movie was inspired by the works of David Foster Wallace. How’s that for messed up?

Teddy Pendergrass: If You Don’t Know Me – Here’s yet another stellar music documentary in 2019, this one about R&B legend Teddy Pendergrass who arrived via being the lead singer of Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes putting out hits like “The Love I Lost” and, the secondary title of the movie “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” and became a massive solo star after leaving the group in 1976, releasing five consecutive platinum albums from 1977 to 1981. In 1982 he was in a horrific car wreck the paralyzed him from the neck down and didn’t return to sing until an incredible performance at Live Aid in 1985. The movie feels like a true representation of the singer, who passed away at the beginning of 2010, including interviews with his one-hundred-year-old mother as well as close friends and back up singers.

Television:

Living With Yourself: Season 1 (Netflix) – So let’s get this straight. Paul Rudd starring in a movie where he clones himself in an experiment gone wrong and has to take his family back from a new and improved version? I’m way into this concept and I’m even more excited that this is a limited series with eight episodes. I really hope that the other cast members like the fantastic Aisling Bea will get something good to work with The show’s reviews are trending pretty well and the consensus is that if you like some Rudd then double Rudd in this comedy will do you nicely.

Eli (Netflix) – I have an aversion to horror which can probably be obvious in these write-ups but I will also give horror filmmakers second chances with films and that is what I’m doing here as Ciaran Foy’s Sinister 2 was an unfortunate rehash of a great movie that never really went anywhere. With this film, he tells the story of a boy who is receiving treatment for his auto-immune disorder that discovers the house he’s living in isn’t as safe as he thought and is filled with malicious spirits. The movie features a capable supporting cast with Kelly Reilly, Lili Taylor and Stranger Things’ Sadie Sink and from who I’m hearing the third act in this is crazy.

The Laundromat (Netflix) – I’m really excited about this one as it is made by the great Steven Soderbergh, based on a book from Jake Bernstein and written by Contagion and The Informant! writer Scott Z. Burns, but, holy crap, this cast gets me excited too. Gary Oldman, Meryl Streep, Antonio Banderas, Jeffrey Wright, Matthias Schoenaerts and so many more star in this film about a widow who does a deep dive on a fraudulent insurance claim that leads to a pair of Panama City law partners that are exploiting the world’s financial system. The reviews aren’t hugely favorable for the film but the cast and filmmaker will always ensure that I will check out the validity of the movie for myself and I encourage you to do the same.

Modern Love: Season 1 (Amazon Prime) – I’m so excited about this series as it was created by the man behind Once and Sing Street, John Carney, one of my favorite Irish filmmakers. The show has a big cast including Anne Hatheway, Tina Fey, Catherine Keener, Dev Patel, Andy Garcia and so many more in a mosaic story about love as a concept whether it’s sexual, romantic, familial, platonic, or self-love. I also find it pretty interesting that former Shameless star Emmy Rossum directs one of the eight episodes of season one.

Wounds (Netflix) – I’d have to say the one of the hottest up and coming stars right now is Zazie Beetz, with her roles in Atlanta and Deadpool 2, but recently this year with Joker. She co-headlines this film with Armie Hamer and Dakota Johnson about a bartender in New Orleans who’s reality becomes to be unhinged when he takes home the cellphone left behind at his work. The film comes from writer and director Babak Anvari who’s film Under The Shadow creeped the hell out of me. This is going to be terrifying I’m sure and I love the cast that’s involved.

New Releases:

Gemini Men – The premise of this movie looks really interesting, Will Smith playing a hitman who keeps getting foiled and duped by a younger assassin who turns out to be a younger clone of himself in a twist that is given away in the trailer. The movie looks cool, with the star power of Smith in a long gestated project from producer Jerry Bruckheimer that was at one time in the hands of Curtis Hanson and Tony Scott. This movie has me on the fence as Ang Lee is the director on this, a filmmaker who is pretty hit or miss with me, but with his faster frame rate of 120 frames per second it could be pretty interesting or it could be a glossy mess.

The Addams Family – Its been around twenty-five years since Barry Sonnenfeld brought the classic television family of The Addams Family to the big screen so why not get a reboot but in animated form this time. The voice cast is pretty impressive for this film, featuring fan-favorite and requested Oscar Isaac as Gomez, Charlize Theron as Morticia, Chloe Grace Moretz as Wednesday, a pivotal role, Stranger Things star Finn Wolfhard as Pugsley and Nick Kroll as Uncle Fester, which is a hilarious connection to the directors Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan who made Sausage Party their last time out. I want to have faith in this movie because I really love The Addams Family.

Jexi – Remember when Spike Jonze made the movie Her, a love story between Joaquin Phoenix and a computer program voiced by Scarlett Johansson set in the near future? Well, we get a more conceivable movie this time around as Workaholics star Adam Devine plays a man who falls for the voice of his smartphone with the vocals provided by the uber funny Rose Byrne. Written and directed by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, the guys behind the Hangover movies, this looks like a ridiculous plot but still a very relevant one given how obsessed we are with our own phones, myself totally included. (Not opening in Kamloops)

Dolemite Is My Name – Eddie Murphy makes a triumphant return to feature films with this fantastic biopic, directed by Hustle And Flow’s Craig Brewer. Murphy plays Rudy Ray Moore, an ageing performer who made the big move from Arkansas to Los Angeles but hasn’t found any success whatsoever. His big break comes when he decides to gather the tall tales of a bunch of nearby hobos and packages them in a new larger than life pimp character named Dolemite, which leads to huge success in his self pressed album and a growing ambition that eventually has him wanting to make movies. Murphy is incredible in this movie but it’s the performance of Wesley Snipes as D’Urville Martin that floored me, a total game rejuvenation. Definitely see this one. (Only playing in Toronto and Vancouver. On Netflix October 25th.)

The Laundromat – I’m really excited about this one as it is made by the great Steven Soderbergh, based on a book from Jake Bernstein and written by Contagion and The Informant! writer Scott Z. Burns, but, holy crap, this cast gets me excited too. Gary Oldman, Meryl Streep, Antonio Banderas, Jeffrey Wright, Matthias Schoenaerts and so many more star in this film about a widow who does a deep dive on a fraudulent insurance claim that leads to a pair of Panama City law partners that are exploiting the world’s financial system. The reviews aren’t hugely favorable for the film but the cast and filmmaker will always ensure that I will check out the validity of the movie for myself and I encourage you to do the same. (Only playing in Toronto, Edmonton and Vancouver. On Netflix October 18th.)

Where’s My Roy Cohn – This documentary is absolutely chilling to it’s core, an engrossing look at attorney Roy Cohn, a man that got his first notorious start as part of the council employed by Joseph McCarthy to blackball supposed communists in America. A flamboyant individual who guarded his not too secret sexuality until the end of his life when he died of AIDS, something documented in Tony Kushner’s Broadway play Angels In America. Even more interesting, this film shows how much of Cohn’s personality was a blueprint for the tyrant in chief the States has currently in power, using moves that are all too familiar to us now. (Only playing in Toronto and Vancouver.)

Blu-Ray:

Toy Story 4 – When it was announced that a new Toy Story was being written, slated for release nine years after the third movie came out, I was a bit skeptical. I personally felt like Toy Story 3 wrapped everything up quite nicely in a beautifully made film but I can now say I was completely wrong because I fell in love with this movie just as hard as I did the other three. With the toys now with a new owner named Bonnie, gifted to her by Andy at the end of the last movie, they head on a road trip with a newly created pal named Forky who ends up getting lost. This leads Woody to go and bring him back to the family, to try and form some sort of connection with his new owner that he doesn’t have. This film forges a new direction for the Woody character, one that I didn’t see coming but it definitely fits in the growth of him. This movie again has all the emotional beats to shatter you emotionally so, you know, beware of that.

Annabelle Comes Home – I can’t believe we’re already at the third Annabelle movie but here we are. The series started horribly but Creation proved to be a really entertaining horror film so to up the ante this time Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson’s Lorraine and Ed Warren take left of center stage for this installment as the doll in question finds it’s way to their artifacts library where it wreaks havoc by waking all the other evil contained there. The movie, unfortunately, is a massive step down from the good trajectory of the last one and drags for the first twenty minutes before finding any sort of scares and then everything is a bit few and far between for my liking. This movie was kind of set up to be a culmination of a bunch of set pieces within the Conjuring universe and ultimately, it falls flat.

Midsommar – If there was a movie that I would put at the top of my list of anticipated films this year this would be number one with a bullet. The sophomore film from Hereditary director Ari Aster, the main details of this movie have been kept very under wraps, the trailer even giving a foreboding sense of mystery in a brilliantly bright wrapper. From what I can glean, the story is about a couple who travels to Sweden to visit a secluded town’s fabled mid-summer festival and what was thought to be an idyllic retreat quickly devolves into an increasingly violent and bizarre competition at the hands of a pagan cult. From everything I’m hearing, this may be on par with the 1970s thriller The Wicker Man and, oh boy, does that excite me! I’m so disappointed that I still haven’t seen this as it didn’t come to my town and there’s even a director’s cut now!

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

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

Deadwood: The Movie – The long, long, long anticipated conclusion to the greatest western series ever made is now on blu-ray as we finally own the closure on the characters of Seth Bullock, Al Swearengen and all the other people in the infamous outlaw town. It’s bittersweet as I really wanted another series instead of a movie but creator David Milch was finally able to get his crowning achievement finished and out to the masses after years of building it up and his recent and tragic diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. This is going to be something truly special to behold and I can not wait.

Life With Lucy: Complete Series – I was weirded out by the cover of this boxset as I thought I would be receiving the original I Love Lucy series but what this is is the final series Lucille Ball ever did, broadcast in 1986. This show has Ball playing a widowed grandmother who inherited her husband’s half-interest in a hardware store in California, the other half being owned by his partner, widower Curtis McGibbon, played by longtime friend of Lucy, Gale Gordon. The show was not well received, earing Lucille Ball the worst reviews of her career and well cancelled after it’s first season. For nostalgia reasons and to see a comedienne that still had it up until the end, I found it entertaining.

Television:

The Walking Dead: Season 10 (AMC) – I can’t believe we are in double digits now for the length of this Robert Kirkman created series, based on a book that has now come to a close, but there is no end in sight for this show according to the showrunners and Fear The Walking Dead is going strong with yet another, at this point unnamed, spin-off series to come. Is there any signs of fatigue in this franchise? We may have seen some as the show has gone on but I think they’ve recovered quite well and they’ve been journeying on without original star Andrew Lincoln for a while now. Not many shows can make that claim.

El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (Netflix) – The long-anticipated movie follow up to Breaking Bad is now upon us and the great thing is that the trailer and synopsis released by Netflix and AMC is so fantastically ambiguous that there is really no hint to what this movie will be about except that Aaron Paul’s Jesse Pinkman leads it. It should be noted that Badger, Mike, Skinny Pete and Old Joe are the only other characters listed in the cast list so contained cast means a smaller scope film but that could lead to a bunch of uncredited cameos just the blow away the viewer with surprise. It’s almost here, friends!

Fractured (Netflix) – A brand new film picked up by Netflix, this film is directed by Brad Anderson, the mind behind Session 9 and The Machinist, written by Alan B. McElroy, the guy who created the freaks of the horror franchise Wrong Turn as well as got Todd McFarlane’s Spawn to animated series form on HBO. This thriller is one of those “vanished” type mysteries, following a man and his family who go on a road trip and have to rush the daughter to a hospital after a fall. The father then falls asleep in the waiting room and upon waking his family has disappeared with no one having knowledge of having them check-in. Sam Worthington and American Horror Story’s Lily Rabe star in this and it’s getting some favorable reviews.

Rhythm & Flow: Season 1 (Netflix) – I’m usually not one for putting reality shows on this list or competition shows either but this one has me interested. The show is hosted by Cardi B, Chance The Rapper and T.I and is a talent search for the next hip-hop superstar, what Netflix sees as their answer to X-Factor and American Idol. The series will just be releasing the first four episodes, as they scour for undiscovered talent from Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York City, releasing the next batch of episodes on October 16 and then the final episodes on the 23rd. The show will also feature appearances from Snoop Dogg, DJ Khalid, Quavo, the late Nipsey Hustle and many more.

Batwoman: Season 1 (The CW) – I’ve been waiting a long time for a live-action onscreen version of Kate Kane aka Batwoman to be made and finally we’ve got it and I think the casting of Ruby Rose is kind of incredible as she already invokes many of the character traits right out the door. For those not in the know, Kane was inspired by Batman to use her own resources to fight crime in Gotham as well under the moniker of Batwoman, but is a woman of Jewish descent and is also a lesbian, something that was a hard pill to swallow for the mainstream. It’s great timing for her brand of vigilante justice to land on the CW now as Arrow is in its final season something is going to need to pick up the lead on that.