Steve Stebbing

Breaking down all things pop culture

New Releases:

Strange World – It’s crazy how developed Disney’s own in-house computer animated division has gotten as it is now easily on par with all of the Pixar releases, something that used to far exceed it. With recent releases in memory like Raya And The Last Dragon and Encanto, it fueled the excitement big time for this sci-fi foray for the gifted studio. The film follows a legendary family of explorers, the Clades, as they attempt to navigate an uncharted, treacherous land alongside a motley crew that includes a mischievous blob, a three-legged dog and a slew of ravenous creatures. Featuring the voices of Jake Gyllenhaal, Gabrielle Union, Lucy Liu, Dennis Quaid and stalwart Disney voice-over master Alan Tudyk and looks like an immense amount of colourful fun. At the top of it, it is also world exploration sci-fi and that has me the most excited plus it comes from the filmmaking team that brought us Raya as well as Moana, Big Hero 6 and Meet The Robinsons. The potential here is huge.

The Fabelmans – Being a lifelong Steven Spielberg fan, clearly the number one filmmaker in the world now for decades, he has tackled so many different stories and genres over his life and career but I think this one is the most personal he has ever done. It is a film that definitely speaks to his fans but to the filmmakers and creators that he has inspired as well as the heart of this story is about imagination and the creation of cinema from a young age. The story follows young Sammy Fabelman growing up in post-World War II era Arizona, aspiring to become a filmmaker as he reaches adolescence. Armed with a camera, Sammy makes his own films at home, much to the delight of his supportive mother, played by the phenomenal Michelle Williams. With an incredible cast and the powerhouse and comfortable team of Spielberg and longtime cinematographer Janusz Kaminski, this film has the potential to close out 2022 as one of the best. I can’t even say that is hyperbole because it is the master of modern cinema, Steven Spielberg.

Devotion – It’s really interesting that we get this true story fighter pilot film coming out at the end of 2022 as it is the same year that Top Gun Maverick was released and, not only that, it also shares a leading star with Glen Powell who played Hangman in that long-anticipated sequel. Now it goes to a Korean War story featuring the great Jonathan Majors, a few months before he hits the big time with both Creed III and Ant-Man And The Wasp: Quantamaina releasing early 2023. The film tells the story of the friendship between two of the elite pilots in the American air force who are sent on the most dangerous of missions due to their precision strikes. The issue of racism in the leadership is another element of the film obviously with Majors being black and the action looks pretty rip-roaring in ti but it will have to do a lot to best Top Gun. The pandemic really messed this release up as it should have come out two years after the biggest film now of 2022 but here we are.

Bones And All – Is it weird that Luca Guadagnino is making a film about cannibals just a few years after his award lauded drama Call Me By Your Name which starred now-outed weirdo Armie Hammer? I’m not the first to bring that connection up but even so, I’ve been really excited to get my eyes on this new collaboration between the Italian director and his star, Timothee Chalamet. The film is the story of first love between Maren, a young woman learning how to survive on the margins of society, and Lee, an intense and disenfranchised drifter, as they meet and join together for a thousand-mile odyssey which takes them through the back roads, hidden passages and other trappings of a Ronald Reagan era America. Oh, I also have to mention that they both have an incredible and undeniable urge to eat human flesh, another element that bonds them but inadvertently puts them on the path of like-minded but dangerous individuals. The trailer for this movie is engrossing and Luca has a great penchant for making deeply compelling characters so I’m saying that this might be the number one on my list this week. Sorry, Spielberg.

The Swimmers – Because of some of the more Holywood side of the Netflix releases, a lot of the internationally made releases produced through the streaming service get maligned and ignored constantly. Without a lot of ads or fanfare behind it, I really hope this movie doesn’t get lost in that same shuffle because I think it is important and, above all, a beautiful story of human resilience.  The film tells the story of the miraculous journey made by swimming sisters Yusra and Sarah Mardini who fled as refugees from war-torn Syria all the way to the 2016 Rio Olympics. The detail shown in the two sisters’ escape from Syria with all of the other refugees feels intense with the real knowledge of the situation we know holding a huge weight in our minds. None of this would be as interesting in movie form if we didn’t have a connection and care for the characters and acclaimed writer and director Sally El Hosaini pulls it off masterfully with compelling and deep character development. I was enthralled with this film and found myself on the edge of my seat a few times in it. Please don’t let it get lost in the Netflix algorithm and check it out as soon as possible.

Blood Relatives – For a lot of moviegoers, they know Noah Segan’s face, made memorable by his law enforcement turn in Rian Johnson’s mystery Knives Out but in my case I’ve been a fan of the guy since Johnson’s beginning in cinema with his teen noir detective story Brick. Now Segan has taken the teachings of his friend and crafted his first feature-length film in the form of this new horror comedy hybrid which he wrote and directed. Taking the lead role as well, he stars as a vampire living a solitary life whose existence is thrown into disarray when a teenager shows up claiming to be his daughter and has the fangs to prove it. On a road trip across America’s blacktops, they decide how to process their newfound family life and definitely kill a lot of people along the way. Little festival hits like this getting exposure on Shudder is why it is one of my favourite streaming services, even if it needs to punch up the interface a little bit. There is so much room for more independent fare to find the word of mouth it deserves and this one should be at the top of your list. Fresh, funny and languishing in its dark side, I adored every minute.

Blu-Ray:

The Good House – The name of the game with this new comedy-drama is definitely likable because how can you not be intrigued by a film that has Kevin Kline and Sigourney Weaver leading it? Beyond that, it also has the husband and wife team of Maya Forbes and Wallace Wolodarsky writing and directing it, the same people who did the loveable Infinitely Polar Bear. The film follows Weaver as New England realtor Hildy Good whose life begins to unravel when she hooks up with an old flame of hers from New York. Becoming dangerously entwined in his reckless behaviour and igniting long-buried emotions and family secrets, including being a descendant of the Salem witches, Hildy is propelled toward a reckoning with the one person she’s been avoiding for decades, herself. From the initial reviews I’m finding, the standout here is Sigourney who brings that charm and gravitas that has made her a star for decades now and I definitely will always have a spot in my heart for her, an original crush since I first saw Ghostbusters and was deepened when I finally got to see Alien and Aliens. This is definitely a character movie at its core and who better to do it than her and the great Kevin Kline?

Hatching – As much as I love Scandanavian films, I never hear much out of Finland, except for exceptional heavy metal, so I was surprised when I saw a new horror film on the release schedule and it had a lot of great reviews. I will say the beginning is bumpy and felt like a sort of bad Hallmark movie but if you have the patience, it will eventually make your sin crawl in a good way. The story follows a young gymnast who tries desperately to please her demanding influencer mother in order to spend more time with her. Out in her backyard, she discovers a strange egg birthed from a half-dead crow and decides to hide it and keeps it warm. What hatches out of it is a creature that the design of it I was absolutely enthralled with. A meeting of CG and some practical effects, creature features are generally not done like this anymore and it is so refreshing to see this film rest almost solely on this. Usually, in lower-budget stuff, they shy away from fully showing the monsters but this film has so many great looks at the hatched monster and it really makes it memorable.

Malcolm X – This one is really cool to me as it is my first Spike Lee Criterion film and, really, what a film to get that part of my collection started with. It is a pivotal Denzel Washington role for sure but one I definitely didn’t appreciate as much when I saw it at a younger age in the nineties. Stating the obvious here but the film is a biographical epic of the controversial and influential Black Nationalist leader, from his early life and career as a small-time gangster to his ministry as a member of the Nation of Islam. Co-starring the great Angela Bassett and even Lee himself, the film would be nominated for two Academy Awards, one of them being for Denzel’s riveting performance. The film hits very differently in the years after the emboldening of white supremacy and the forefront of the Black Lives Matter movement but it also makes it more and more important as the years go by. This film shows how doomed we are to repeat past mistakes and that the fight for equality and equity and against hatred will sadly always be paramount.

The Great: Season 2 – Elle Fanning, Nicholas Hoult and The Favourite writer Tony McNamara are back for the follow-up season of this great series that is filled from top to bottom with fantastic character work, beautiful set pieces and brilliantly dark humour that will tickle you if you liked McNamara’s Yorgos Lanthimos film as much as I did. The show follows a royal woman living in rural Russia during the 18th century who is forced to choose between her happiness and the future of Russia when she marries an Emperor. I love that this series takes the stuffiness out of the usual period piece and allows each character to breathe with dialogue that feels quick and sardonic. I’m really happy to say that, although he don’t have the timeline of when it will be released, we do know that the show was renewed by Hulu for a third season. It feels like a no-brainer as the first season was to create word of mouth and the second season was to hook more viewers. I can wait to see what will come from another round with these characters.

Steve’s Blu-Ray Geek-Outs:

Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde – Some more Warner Archive-released horror landed in my mailbox this week and it’s always something fun to bring to this section as films from the 1930s, in this example, don’t usually get any sort of mainstream exposure. These are the films that influence generations upon generations and are the catalyst for the thrillers we get today. That said, the Jekyll and Hyde story is one that is an icon in thriller storytelling and this was a special one as it features one of the biggest stars of the time, Frederic March, playing Dr. Jekyll as he faces horrible consequences when he lets his dark side run wild with a potion that transforms him into the animalistic Mr. Hyde. As far as a genre film goes, this is a pivotal one as it is the first horror film to earn an Academy Award, something that feels like a pipedream in the modern cinema age. Maybe it was just to sidle up to the sought-after star as March was the one to walk away with the Oscar but a win for horror is a win for horror, am I right?

Preman: Silent Fury – After the amazing and explosive two-piece that was Gareth Evans’ Raid film, anytime I see the words “Indonesian action film” I know that I want to get my eyeballs on it because there is a high possibility of new international martial arts spectacle. I also have a great track record with good Well Go USA-distributed films so my trust in them is at an all-time high. Originally released last year as a television movie, the story follows a deaf Indonesian gangster who is thrust into the fight of his life after his son witnesses a brutal murder by a notorious crime boss. He is subsequently forced into taking on his dangerous former allies, including a sociopath assassin, in order to protect his child. The film is bloody and violent with some incredible fight scenes but what I felt was pretty unexpected was the thread of dark humour that writer and director Randolph Zaini infuses into it. Zaini was born in Indonesia but was raised on American films in the United States so it has an interesting blend of the two filmmaking sensibilities.

Casablanca 4K – One of the most celebrated films in cinema history gets the sweet upgrade of getting a 4K release so of course, I’m going to bring it here. A film that is the template for so many films to come afterwards and the inspiration for so many, both in front of the camera and behind the scenes, I will say its shadow is totally unshakable. The story is iconic and a cinematic World War II set staple following a cynical expatriate American cafe owner who struggles to decide whether or not to help his former lover and her fugitive husband escape the Nazis in French Morocco. Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid and Claude Rains are forever frozen in time with the collision of a great story and great characters in a final product that will never tarnish upon rewatch. And now with it being on 4K, it just gets more preserved so it’s a real in for film fans.

Television:

Wednesday (Netflix) – Tim Burton doing television? Yes, after his long and storied film career, the legendarily creepy filmmaker is coming to Netflix for a limited series but with this streaming giant, it never really is just television, right? I mean, David Fincher has don’t multiple shows here. Well, this has the base of an iconic legend beyond Burton himself as he gets to take a crack at the Addams Family with a story centred around Wednesday going to a creepy new boarding school. The benefit off the bat is that our title character is being played by Jenny Ortega who’s had a hell of a horror year already with Scream and X but the money is with Morticia and Gomez who are perfectly cast with Catherine Zeta-Jones and Luis Guzman. Seriously, it’s worth the watch for just them alone. Beyond that, and if you loved the original films, you will be delighted to see that Christina Ricci, the former Wednesday Addams, is in the supporting cast in a pivotal role.

The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special (Disney+) – It’s weird to think that one of my most anticipated things to close out 2022 is a Christmas special but I can not deny how much I love the characters of Marvel’s Guardians Of The Galaxy nor can I downplay my adoration for the works of James Gunn. Not travelling down the path of the regrettable Star Wars Holiday Special from my childhood, this brings the whole team back but, of course, minus Gamora for obvious reasons. The story picks up with a Guardians group with a leader grieving the loss of a loved one during the holiday season. Uninitiated into the Earth’s custom fully but ambitious, Mantis and Drex take it upon themselves to get Starlord a gift from his home planet in the form of one of his favourite actors, Kevin Bacon. Yes, things are going to get meta in this little feature and I honestly can’t wait because I’ve cherished every moment we’ve gotten so far. With Volume three on the horizon, this is the beginning of the end so we better savour it now.

Welcome To Chippendales (Disney+) – I love a good true story limited series full of scandal, especially if it is set in the glitz and glam of the seventies and this is exactly where this new Hulu series resides. Starring Kumail Nanjiani and produced by him and his wife Emily Gordon, the series is also about a bigger-than-life dude from India with big ideas, some of them not so legal. Kumail starts as Somen “Steve” Banerjee, an Indian American entrepreneur who started the stripper troupe, Chippendales, a male revue that became a cultural phenomenon that still resonates today. Where would bachelorette parties be without them? Kumail is really great and the first episode kicks off brilliant;y with excess, ambition and a chameleon-like performance from character actor Dan Stevens. I had to look it up to make sure it was him, it was that unrecognizable. Don’t expect any extra seasons to this as it has a finite end but it is a fantastic rise and fall and it may get some awards recognition.

New Releases

The Menu – The trailers for this have been very mysterious and secretive but after the premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival many have been saying that it is Saw meets Succession which is way too intriguing to not get excited about. Interestingly enough, it was directed by Mark Mylod, who has directed a handful of the Succession episodes so the comparison is almost on the nose. The story follows a young couple who travels to a remote island to eat at an exclusive restaurant where the chef has prepared a lavish menu but it might come at a deadly price as the patrons seem to be dispatched one by one as the course mounts up. The cast in the film looks great with Anya Taylor Joy and Nicholas Hoult playing the leading couple and Ralph Fiennes as the head chef of the night. From what I’ve read, a really dark comedy is the drive of this film and I have to say that the ad campaign for it keeps my interest in it as it gives almost nothing away. This could be a late 2022 favourite.

Spirited – For me, not being the biggest holiday movie fan, it takes some coaxing to get me into a film that is not already an established classic or a yearly yuletide rewatch. The easiest way possible to dig through that frosty attitude is to put two funny dudes together to guide me past the jingle bells to the enjoyment and Ryan Reynolds and Will Ferrell seem like the perfect pairing to do that. Be warned, this is a classic story that you’ve seen so many times before but with a modern twist and music at the forefront as, yes, this is an adaptation of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol. Kitsilano’s treasure plays Cliff, a miserly man who treats everyone around him with terrible selfishness and finds himself on a fantastical adventure into the three phases of time, the past, present, and future, in order to discover how he ended up so miserable and alone. This movie feels a bit bloated with spectacle and music, something that can usually sour me, but it really works for the most part and at the end of it all, it is a fun ride and Ryan can really do no wrong. At least he has done little wrong in my opinion if that was too big of a statement.

The Wonder – After the debacle that was Don’t Worry Darling to end our summer of movies, it is sadly on Florence Pugh for a bit of cinema redemption, an unfair notion as she was the one that balanced everything good about that film on her shoulders, but the movie-going public can be mean. Good thing she has director Sebastian Lelio to guide her on this journey, the man behind masterpieces like A Fantastic Woman and Disobedience. She plays an English nurse sent to the Irish midlands in 1862 to watch over a young girl who hasn’t eaten a single piece of food in four months. Believed by the town elders to be an act of god, she is set to use her medical science to save the girl’s life but it may just open her to a faith that was ripped from her life by tragedy. The best way to go into this film is blind to the story as the beautiful cinematography and Pugh’s incredible character work drives it to be one of the most compelling stories I have seen this year. It also happens to be written by Emma Donoghue who also wrote the Oscar-winning drama Room, a film that still haunts me emotionally.

Slumberland – Jason Momoa has been in the news more recently, talking about possible opportunities of playing Lobo in the DC Comics universe where he is already positioned as Aquaman and baring his ass on late-night talk shows so it’s the perfect time to roll out another of his Netflix original films. This one plays a bit on the fantasy side and he is paired with a director who has some experience in that type of filmmaking as Francis Lawrence, the guy behind I Am Legend, the majority of the Hunger Games franchise and Constantine helmed this one. The story follows a young girl who discovers a secret map to the dreamworld of Slumberland, and with the help of an eccentric outlaw, she traverses dreams and flees nightmares, with the hope that she will be able to see her late father again. The movie is based on old novels by author Winsor McCay which were already adapted in animated form in the late eighties as the Little Nemo films so I’m a little surprised that it took so long to see them in live-action form but it definitely builds a world within it. I’m sure, with the star power and filmmaking team behind it, that Netflix would love a franchise to be birthed with this film so we’ll see how it pans out. 

She Said – The heart of the Me Too movement gets a big Hollywood boost this week and it also stars the great Carey Mulligan who starred in the phenomenal Promising Young Woman, one of my favourite films that year. A film we should have known was coming, the story comes at an important time of whistleblowing and is the big Hollywood debut of filmmaker Maria Schrader whose last film I’m Your Man is a sleeper international drama that impressed me greatly. The story follows Mulligan and The Big Sick actress Zoe Kazan as New York Times reporters Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor who break one of the most important stories in a generation, the story that helped launch the #MeToo movement and shattered decades of silence around the subject of sexual assault in Hollywood. A hell of a cast has been assembled around Mulligan and Kazan, including the legendary Patricia Clarkson, Andre Braugher and Jennifer Ehle and screenwriter Rebecca Lenkiewicz has given us great female-led stories in the last few years with Colette and Disobedience so I’m really looking forward to this one, even if it comes off as a bit of Oscar bait.

Salvatore: Shoemaker Of Dreams – I’ve been waiting for a new Luca Guadagnino movie for a while since his 2018 re-imagining of Dario Argento’s Suspiria, which became one of my favourite films of the last twenty years. Albeit, the thing I was looking forward to was his thriller Bones And All with Timothee Chalamet which debuts later this month but this documentary tides me over, one that was actually completed in 2020. The film tells the life of Italian shoemaker Salvatore Ferragamo, who created shoes for Hollywood stars during the silent film era and for iconic films of the period, including legends like Sophia Loren, Joan Crawford and Audrey Hepburn as well as visionaries like Rudolph Valentino and Charlie Chaplin. The film is exquisitely put together by a knowledgeable filmmaker but I found my interest waning here and there when it gets headier about the craft of the shoe. The cinema-related things are fascinating, especially when one of the greatest filmmakers to ever grace the earth, Martin Scorcese drops in as an interview subject. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea but I can appreciate the appeal.

Blu-Ray:

Pearl – After seeing the seventies-style brilliance that was the horror film X from Ti West, there was a rumour I read online that there was a second film, a prequel to that story that was written and filmed by West and lead actress Mia Goth during the COVID quarantine in New Zealand which doubled for a hot and dusty Texas. Having loved everything I saw in X I was so curious to see even a trailer for Pearl which was apparently only shown in American cinemas, screwing us Canadians. You’ve had a few months to watch X on blu-ray now so I will play with a few spoilers here but the story of this film follows the story of Pearl, the old lady who murdered all of the main characters in X, in her back story of how she got there. Goth proved herself to be a bonafide leading star in X and I can not wait to see her stretch her legs again in an even darker role as I suspect she did the dual role of the predecessor as Pearl under heavy aging makeup. Mia Goth deserves an Oscar for her sweetly unhinged performance in this film, coming off like a twisted Judy Garland and I really hope that her name will still be bandied about during awards season. I know she won’t get even the sniff of a nomination but she deserves the conversation.

Three Thousand Years Of Longing – Mad Max: Fury Road is a hell of a move to follow up and the good news is that director and creator George Miller just wrapped production on the prequel to that movie. Still, before that hits the finish mark, he has this new film with an adult twist on an old fable and he’s paired with two of the best actors in modern cinema, Tilda Swinton and Idris Elba. The story follows Swinton as a lonely scholar who happens to encounter a Djinn, played by Elba, while in Istanbul attending a conference which offers her three wishes in exchange for his freedom. This presents two problems, the first being that she doubts that he is real and the second because she is a scholar of story and mythology, she knows all the cautionary tales of wishes gone wrong. The Djinn pleads his case by telling her fantastical stories of his past and eventually she is beguiled and makes a wish that surprises them both. Miller is a king at making visually stunning tales and this is really no different as it explores the djinn’s past in a colourful fashion, one that Miller coaxed legendary cinematographer John Seale out of retirement again to capture. It’s ambitious, heady and thoughtful but definitely not something that any Mad Max fan was expecting out of the legendary filmmaker. I really liked it a lot but I can see people not being into it..

Moonage Daydream – With the ill-advised biopic Stardust in our rearview, a film unapproved by the estate of David Bowie and dreadfully scripted and put together, it is a breath of fresh air to get this documentary on one of the greatest rock stars of all time, a man whose death left me in tears for weeks. Even better, the film is written and directed by Brett Morgen who is no stranger to music-driven films of this ilk as he is the guy who put together the Kurt Cobain film Montage Of Heck among other projects. Fresh off of its debut at the Toronto International Film Festival, the documentary promises to be a cinematic odyssey exploring David Bowie’s creative and musical journey in ways that have never been done before. The acclaim is already pouring in for it and if you’re a Bowie fan then this movie was made directly for you, an intimate portrait of a man that was bigger than life, bigger than this planet and maybe universe spanning in his artistic scope. His life and music had a profound effect on me and it’s great that the estate opened up to give us something like this because we know now a biopic will probably never happen with a full blessing.

Hansan: Rising Dragon – I love a good historical war story and there’s something about Korean cinema that, obviously if you’re a regular reader of this, also draws me in as well and this new feature film has all of that going on, plus it is pretty well reviewed at this point too. I wish I had gotten on board with this movie earlier too as it is a follow-up to a film from 2014, The Admiral: Roaring Currents. The film is set in 1592 and follows Admiral Yi Sun-sin and his fleet as they face off against the might of the invading Japanese navy and its formidable warships. As the Korean forces fall into crisis, the admiral resorts to using his secret weapon, the turtle ship, in order to change the tide of this epic battle at sea. The action is exciting and well pieced out, as Korean films usually do, and the strategy of war is laid out pretty well for the viewer to take in. For a regular viewer, I will say that there are some dry patches in between the action that may take people out from time to time but the payoff is really great.

Beast – Really, all you need to do to sell this movie is to describe it as Idris Elba protecting his family against lions or at least one badass lion in particular. Easy, print money. The fact that it also has South African actor Sharlto Copley in a supporting role gets me excited more about it but that’s because I adore the man and interviewed him once years ago for the actioner rollercoaster Hardcore Henry. Anyways, this film has Elba as a father who, with his two teenage daughters, finds themselves hunted by a massive rogue lion on a warpath of revenge through the Savanna after poachers killed his mate. The effects on the lion and the action and suspense sequences are handled masterfully by filmmaker Baltasar Kormákur who is no stranger to survival thrillers with spectacle, coming off the true story Jon Krakauer adaptation, Everest. Breezy and without a huge amount of deep substance, Beast is an edge-of-your-seat man versus nature-thriller that Idris pulls off nicely.

Jerry & Marge Go Large – Just looking at the poster, with lead actors Bryan Cranston and Annette Bening sitting on the back of a pickup truck, I knew I was going to be into this movie no matter what it turned out to be because I love both of these stars. Upon a deeper dig, I found this was a comedy that happens to be based on a true story and I was even more elated because both of these great talents work so well in comedic settings. The film is the real story of retiree Jerry Selbee, who discovers a mathematical loophole in the Massachusetts lottery and, with the help of his wife, Marge, wins millions and uses the money to revive their small Michigan town. Very inspirational and totally sweet-hearted at its core, it has the added charm of being directed by David Frankel who has given some solid offerings like The Devil Wears Prada and Marley And Me. On the other hand, this is his follow-up to Collateral Beauty which had an amazing cast but the worst follow-through of a good concept I have seen in a while. I’m trying not to let that hang over this one though.

Halo: Season 1 – It’s been a long and rocky road for the video game adaptation to find any sort of footing in Hollywood. At first, it was going to be executive produced by Peter Jackson, the mind behind everything J.R.R. Tolkien on the big screen, written by Alex Garland, the filmmaker behind Ex Machina, Annihilation and Dredd albeit afterwards and director Neill Blomkamp, the eyes behind District 9 and Elysium. At one point even the great Guillermo Del Toro was attached but the point is that many were gunning for this to happen. Well, Showtime actually went ahead and made the series but got cold feet and Steven Spielberg and Amblin Entertainment took over and here it is, living big on Paramount+. The series really has all you want from it if you are a Halo fan. Master Chief is there, the Covenant are launching their universal attack, Cortana is referenced, all of that good stuff. Now is where we see if that goodness is sustainable and I will say that some of the CGI with the Spartans is a bit dodgy but I had fun with the kick-off to this series and am really looking forward to the follow-up season which is filming currently.

Steve’s Blu-Ray Geekouts:

The White Ribbon – A staple for any good international film collection is to have a Micahel Haneke film included, whether it’s his Hitchcockian thriller Cache or either version of his grotesque and chilling Funny Games. Long on my list of films to pick up, this Oscar-nominated Palme D’Or winner plays in a sandbox of historical reality and that same thrilling drive we’ve come to expect from this legendary filmmaker. The film is set in Germany during the years before World War I as strange things start to transpire, pointing to a sort of ritual punishment for all in the village. A horse trips on a wire and throws the rider, a woman falls to her death through rotted planks, the local baron’s son is hung upside down in a mill, the locals start to lose their grips and commit very public indecencies and then start to outright disappear. What is this all crescendoing to? Haneke keeps you on the edge of your seat as the intensity boils out of control in a film that deserves a Criterion Collection edition as soon as possible. In the meantime, I’m excited to just have it on Blu-ray.

Mark Of The Vampire – I feel like it has been a while since I’ve gotten to talk about a Warner Archive classic release and, sadly, I wish this was given to me in October because it would have been a fun thing to bring. Coming out of the original golden age of Hollywood, it was a horror story headlined by one of the biggest names in town, Lionel Barrymore, as well as co-starring a genre heavyweight in Bela Legosi and under the eye of one of the most fascinating creators of the time, Tod Browning. The story follows the daughter of a slain nobleman who becomes the target of her father’s murderer, a vampire known as Count Mora. Enter Professor Zelen, an expert on vampires who are sent in to prevent her death just as more secrets are revealed surrounding the circumstances of Sir Karell’s death and the small village they reside in is put under more evil intent. Upon release, the film was banned in Poland and Sweden, and censors in Hungary excised the screams, shots of bats and other gruesome scenes, which are very pedestrian by today’s horror standards. Even so, the film was a moderate success for MGM at the time and raised the profile of all involved.

Television:

Yellowstone: Season 5 (Paramount+) – Kevin Costner takes the lead in this series that has taken audiences across North America in a big bad way and it’s because it is a damn good series both in writing from Hell Or High Water and Sicario’s Taylor Sheridan and a well-rounded cast around Costner including Kelly Reilly, Cole Hauser and Wes Bentley to get things started.. The show follows the Dutton family, led by John Dutton played by Costner, who controls the largest contiguous ranch in the United States, under constant attack by those it borders, such as land developers, a nearby Indian reservation and the keepers of America’s first National Park. It is an intense study of a violent world far from media scrutiny, where land grabs make developers billions, politicians are bought and sold by the world’s largest oil and lumber corporations, where drinking water is poisoned by fracking wells and unsolved murders are not news. I was severely late to the game and am currently immersed near the end of the third season and am really enjoying it, a good series for those who like crime series like Sons Of Anarchy or The Sopranos.

Tulsa King (Paramount+) – The Taylor Sheridan freight train is in full effect this week, first with the debut of the fifth season of Paramount+’s juggernaut that I just talked about but Sylvester Stallone is now joining in the fun. To be clear, this is his own series, unconnected to the story of the Duttons and their predecessor but for those who have dug into the Jeremy Renner series Mayor Of Kingstown, he has more than enough talent to go around. The story follows Sly as mafia capo and ex-con Dwight “The General” Manfredi, recently released from prison and exiled to Tulsa, Oklahoma to keep on the straight and narrow. Obviously, he doesn’t and proceeds to build a new empire with the people he pulls in locally. Sheridan just knows how to write compelling television so I fully expect this show to be an immediate success and the subscriber numbers to jump up more on Paramount’s fast-rising streaming service. Personally, I’ve been waiting for something good for Stallone and this is the best possible outcome.

Dead To Me: Season 3 (Netflix) – Two of my favourite actresses lead this dark comedy to the finale as one of my childhood crushes, Christina Applegate, plays a recently widowed woman who meets a new friend, played by Linda Cardellini, at the grief support group, not knowing that she is the one responsible for her husband’s death. The casting is so impeccable in this show and the writing is so snappy that if this is really Applegate’s swan song, now battling MS after her two bouts of breast cancer, then it is a really great one to go out on. I also love that one of my favourite character actor Garret Dillahunt, is a prominent piece of this final season, although he just signifies trouble for our two leads. This is one of those hit shows for Netflix and I’m happy to see it’s going out on its own terms. Also, fuck MS for taking Christina Applegate from our television and movie screens.

1899 (Netflix) – For those who have never had someone sprinkle this knowledge in their ear, let me be the first to tell you that the Danish series Dark on Netflix is the best show you’ve never heard of. It caught people’s imaginations with its abundance of twists, turns and weird moments and Netflix loved the streaming numbers so much that they gave them carte blanche to create something new and that something is this new series. Digging into some Danish history tinged with gothic horror, this series follows multinational immigrants travelling from London to New York at the cusp of the nineteenth century who encounter a nightmarish riddle aboard a second ship found adrift on the open sea. The best thing is to give just that short teaser and go in blind as the intrigue is in the reveals and creators Baran bo Odar and Jantje Friese are so gifted at that. The cast isn’t largely known to North American audiences but it does have actress Emily Beecham who astounded me in a Vancouver International Film Festival chiller called Little Joe a few years ago.

Fleishman Is In Trouble (Disney+) – I really love that a lot of independent filmmakers have taken short breaks from making big screen cinema to doing little limited series for streamers and American Splendor writing and directing duo Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini’s new series is a great example of that. Featuring the great talent of Jesse Eisenberg, Lizzy Caplan, Claire Danes and Adam Brody, there are so many elements of this show that get me excited to devour every episode and it is all before I even get to the plot. The show follows Jesse as Toby Fleishman, a man recently separated from his wife after a fifteen-year marriage and must now reacclimate and navigate weekends and every other holiday with the kids, some residual bitterness and the occasional moment of tension with his soon-to-be ex-wife in their co-parenting negotiations. This is exactly the sort of comedy-drama series I love and, for those who aren’t huge fans of Eisenberg’s traits as an actor, this is the type of story he excels in. Starting from The Squid And The Whale, it is exactly the same subgenre that made me a fan of his.

New Releases:

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever – This week has us heading back into the Marvel Universe for what promises to be an emotional goodbye to Chadwick Boseman’s T’Challa but the birth of a new hero to take the mantle, which looks like the sister, Shiri donning the suit. I have been thinking about the way that they were going to handle the death of a majorAvengers player but I have the utmost confidence in writer and director Ryan Coogler because he hasn’t made a bad film yet. From what I see, the story picks up with Queen Ramonda, Shuri, M’Baku, Okoye and the Dora Milaje fighting to protect the kingdom of Wakanda from intervening world powers in the wake of King T’Challa’s death. As the Wakandans strive to embrace their next chapter, the heroes must band together with the help of War Dog Nakia and Everett Ross to battle the emergence of a new enemy from the sea, in the form of a debuting Marvel heavyweight in King Namor the Sub Mariner and forge a new path for their nation. Namor is a key ingredient in why I’m so excited to see where this story is going to be as he is a big piece of us getting mutants in the MCU, something already hinted at in the recent Ms. Marvel series. I could geek out for hours about this but just know that the first Black Panther was pretty damn great so the bar to exceed that is a bit lofty.

Blu-Ray:

The Power Of The Dog – When acclaimed writer and director Jane Campion returns to film after an over ten-year hiatus, you stop and take notice as a film fan. Granted, she made the excellent murder mystery series Top Of The Lake with Elisabeth Moss for BBC but there is something special with the cinematic scope of this Academy Award-winning filmmaker. Her now Academy Award-winning film and newly minted Criterion Collection piece as of this week is a western drama that follows Benedict Cumberbatch as charismatic rancher Phil Burbank, a severe man who inspires fear and awe in those around him. He can castrate a bull calf with two swift slashes of his knife and swims naked in the river, smearing his body with mud off his own land, a cowboy as raw as the hides he produces because all of Phil’s romance, power and fragility is trapped in the past and the dirt he stands on. When his brother brings home a new wife and her son, Phil torments them incessantly until he finds himself exposed to the possibility that his heart may not be as dead and buried as he thought. The film co-stars Kirsten Dunst and Jesse Plemons and has a vibrant character feel driven home by some stellar direction from a true master. Many might not get on board with the slow burn this tale exhibits but the deep character work from these actors in, at least for Dunst and Cumberbatch, is at a career-best, it deserves all of the celebrations.

I Love My Dad – From Ratatouille to Big Fan, stand-up comedian Patton Oswalt has done a varied amount of work in film from animated classics to underrated character gems that need to be seen but with this film, the goal definitely felt like it was to make you uncomfortable. At the heart of the awkwardness and line-crossing is a father’s absolutely misplaced love and deep dejection but it doesn’t soften it at all. Written, directed and starring James Morosini as Oswalt’s son, Patton plays an estranged father who has been blocked online by a child sick of his lies, he decides to make up a profile of a young woman to befriend him and keep up with the goings on in his life. Things get entangled when his son falls in love with this made-up girl forcing him to get romantic online with his own offspring. Yeah, this one gets decidedly messed up but the heart and soul are all exhibited by a father that has felt the sorrow he has inflicted but spiralled out of control with a bad idea. Patton really excels in the character dramas, this one definitely having a bit of comedy to it.

She Will – This was a total surprise to see come up now as a Blu-ray release this week as a horror thriller with the great Malcolm McDowell is always something to stop and take note of, even in a small role, one of the greatest character actors of all time and a personal favourite ever since I saw the cinematic glory that is A Clockwork Orange. This also happens to be the debut of writer and director Charlotte Colbert and I’m always so excited to see a new female voice in the genre and she nails it with a hell of a first film. The film follows former Borg Queen Alice Krige as an aging film star who retreats to the Scottish countryside with her nurse to recover from surgery. While there, mysterious forces of revenge emerge from the land where witches were burned in a story that is reportedly far more bone-chilling than it is jump-scary. I love the atmosphere that is given in this film, impeccably shot in every moment and this addition to Shudder’s lineup just increases the must-have feeling that the streaming app has been gaining for years now. Genre fans are rapidly running out of excuses to not buy in in my opinion.

The Witch 2: The Other One – Bringing some international film from one of my favourite countries as this week I got to take in some good ol’ South Korean action and I got a double shot of it as well as I have to watch the first film to catch up with the story. The thing about South Korean films like this is they always exceed two hours so the layering of the story is intense but I’ll do my best to outline this film. The first film deals with the amnesia of a young girl who is actually an unstoppable killing machine created by a shadowy corporation. After dispatching her creators and burning their facility to the ground in the finale of the first movie, the girl wakes up in a secret laboratory and meets Kyung-hee, who is trying to protect her from a gang. When the gang finally finds the girl, they are overwhelmed by an unexpected power which is unleashed on them all over again. This is the second in a proposed trilogy and the action is awesome throughout, this film has a lot more of it. There is some stuff that feels a little repetitive, especially watching the films back to back, but I’m still very curious to see where it all goes.

Aqua Teen Forever: Plantasm – I’ll be brief about this one because it really is just for a nice audience but after getting the complete box set of Adult Swim’s Aqua Teen Hunger Force I have re-immersed myself in the madness and it brings me back to the early 2000s when it debuted. Sadly, we don’t have the Cartoon Network anymore but Warner Bros. has decided to continue giving us stories of Meatwad, Frylock, Master Shake, their angry New Jersey neighbour Carl and the rest of the wacky side characters and I’m glad. This film has our three, umm, heroes estranged from each other until a megalomaniac with a global domination kink decides to take over the world and, most notably, a dilapidated house in New Jersey. They don’t reform to combat the bad, just to argue some more and it is delightful for any fan of this long-running series that is actually one of the first comedy things that I connected with my wife on. Yes, this has a personal connection in this family.

Saturday Night Fever 4K – The iconic feel of this film can not be understated as it made John Travolta a bigger star than he ever was as a television star on Welcome Back, Kotter and just before he hit the mega big time with Grease. It was also a huge boost for filmmaker John Badham who made this film his debut feature film on the big screen which paved the way for him as a studio guy that would go on to make crowd-pleasers like WarGames and Short Circuit. Travolta plays Tony Manero, an uneducated, immature Brooklyn teenager whose weekly highlight is going to the local disco, where he is the king of the dance floor. At home, it is a different story as he lives with his abusive, overbearing parents, and works at a dead-end job at a small paint store. Soon Tony meets Stephanie Mangano at the disco and they agree to dance together in a competition. Stephanie resists Tony’s attempts to romance her, as she aspires to greater things; she is moving across the river to Manhattan. Gradually, Tony also becomes disillusioned with the life he is leading and he and Stephanie decide to help each other to start afresh. Usually just remembered for the dancing scene with Travolta doing those now stereotypical disco moves, the film is actually way better than I had recollected.

Steve’s Blu-Ray Geek-Outs:

The Flash: Season 8 – After a dicey few months of speculation, I feel like the continued DC properties in television and film are on a good path but it’s sad to see that some of the existing bright points didn’t see that renewal, including this series which comes to an end with the ninth season. This season gets to celebrate everything that came before it in tribute to the Arrowverse inclusive arc of Armageddon that stretches for the first five episodes. The show picks up after the previous storyline that had Barry time hopping to get help from his future children and I have a deep love for all the little nuances they pull out of the vast history that The Flash has in the long history of the character. As the show prepares to draw to a close, it is good to reflect on how good it has been consistently than to reflect on the void that it will leave in comic book television, which is pretty deep.

Television:

Down To Earth With Zac Efron: Season 2 (Netflix) – If you have a high profile as an actor and the resources and drive to make a mark with your platform then I applaud you in every way and it is for this reason that you really can’t hate on the work that Zac Efron is trying to do with his new series. Yes, it definitely comes off as super “bro” driven at times, especially in the narration with some jokes that give you some six-pack eye-rolling abs, but it is all for a good cause and, above all, awareness of the current earth crisis. Along with his friend Darin Olien, Zac travels worldwide in search of healthy, sustainable ways to live. The first season spanned the places of Iceland, France, Sardinia, Puerto Rico and more, this one is a focused look at Australia and the rest of the down under, largely regarded as the most dangerous place on the planet. Given Efron’s health scare a couple years back, this gives added weight to his new world idea series and its new episodes.

Mythic Quest: Season 3 (AppleTV+) – Any fans of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia out there are probably already wise to this new series that launched with the AppleTV+ service but I was definitely late to the game and after a full binge of both seasons I am here to tell you it is must-see stuff. Starring Rob McElhenney and created alongside Charlie Day and gifted writer Megan Ganz, the show follows a team of video game developers as they navigate the challenges of running a popular video game. This show is hysterically funny and devolves into a chaos of tech jargon, clashing egos, insane ideas and more with a great recurring cast including Community’s Danny Pudi and an Academy Award-winning heavyweight in F. Murray Abraham and also has guest stars like Jake Johnson, Palm Springs star Cristin Milioti and even recent Best Actor Oscar winner Anthony Hopkins. This is some can’t-miss comedy right here for everyone to jump into.

Zootopia+ (Disney+) – A surprise hit for a non-Pixar studio animated film from Disney, Zootopia was a great film filled with vibrant characters and a lush world and backdrop ready for new little stories and that is certainly what the geniuses at Disney+ picked up on. Much like they have done with the Big Hero 6 Baymax series, this is a collection of shorts based directly around the movie with moments popping directly into it. The story of what happened to Judy Hopps’ parents immediately after dropping her off at the train station is your kick-off point but we also get background stories with Clawhauser at the police station and his love for a Shakira-voiced Gazelle, a weasel looking for the big time of crime or redemption, the Real Rodents Of Rodenia and a few more give you almost an hour of fun little shorts to work through.

The English (Prime Video) – I know really almost nothing heading into this new series for Prime but I do know that it has Emily Blunt leading the way and, honestly, that is enough for me to devour every episode. The second thing that would sell me as a standalone feature is that it is a western story, something that we don’t get a lot of but when we do it becomes an obsession for me, like Deadwood or the recent Good Lord Bird. Set in the mythic mid-American landscape in the year 1890, the story follows Cornelia Locke, an Englishwoman who arrives in the new and wild landscape of the West to wreak revenge on the man she sees as responsible for the death of her son. Upon meeting Eli Whipp, an ex-cavalry scout and member of the Pawnee Nation by birth, they join together and discover a shared history which must be defeated at all costs, if either of them are to survive. The show is headed by writer and director Hugo Blick who has spent years as a stalwart creator of British television and is now bringing it to the international audience with a very sought-after female lead. I really hope this plays to the strengths of a solid western thriller like Meek’s Cutoff, which, if you haven’t seen it, is a masterpiece.

New Releases:

Enola Holmes 2 – When Millie Bobby Brown starred in the titular role of the first film of this hopeful sleuthing franchise, I was really taken aback by how fun and exhilarating it all felt with some Deadpool-level constant fourth wall breaks that seemed to always work. I ended up being so thrilled with it that I let out an audible “yay” when it was announced that we’d get a sequel. Co-starring Henry Cavil as Enola’s brother Sherlock and Helena Bonham Carter as their nomadic mother, this follow-up picks up with Enola trying to make a go at having her own detective agency, a prospect that doesn’t prove fruitful. In the moments before closing up shop for good, she is approached by a young girl with the mission of finding her lost older sister putting her on a case that delves deep into the industrialization and politics of England. Only the second film from writer and director Harry Bradbear, the other film being the first film in this series, he gives this film an invigoration just as Guy Ritchie did with his Sherlock movies and it keeps you engaged with the characters and keeping time with Enola herself. I also really love both Millie and Henry in their respective roles, so charming and playful, and I really hope this film experiences the same success and we get a third one.

Causeway – It feels like so long ago when Jennifer Lawrence was the sought after it girl both with blockbuster features and award-worthy dramas or comedies and, really, it has been, since the Oscar-winning actress had a baby and gave herself a breather with only limited projects since 2019. Now she returns but, like her previous film Don’t Look Up, it is a limited release direct to streaming project available on AppleTV+ but don’t let that limit the importance. Taking away the satirical comedy that was her previous film, this is a ground look at a former Marine, released after a traumatic brain injury, who must now reacclimate to her home life again. Altered by her experience in the military, she is jaded and potentially damaging to those around her in a film that is driven by her incredible character acting ability. The film also features Bullet Train and Eternals star Brian Tyree Henry, who always elevates any movie he’s in. The importance of this film about mental trauma in the military and the John Boyega film Breaking from last week, no matter their calibre, should always be brought up for the real-life relevancy of giving veterans the safety net they need after their tours.

Weird: The Al Yankovic Story – Biopics are really hit and miss these days but a biopic about one of the greatest parody artists ever done in a satirical sort of way looks to blow open all of those expectations, I think. Also, the casting of former Harry Potter actor and now horror and genre film spale Daniel Radcliffe is too delicious to pass up as a movie lover. Told very tongue in cheek, the film explores every facet of the great “Weird” Al Yankovic’s life, from his meteoric rise to fame with early hits like ‘Eat It’ and ‘Like a Surgeon’ to his torrid and exaggerated celebrity love affairs and famously depraved lifestyle. The best thing about this film, streaming for free on the Roku Channel, is that it is already getting great reviews and, for a superfan like me, it all is superfluous as I was going to watch the movie anyways. Like all Weird Al stans, this is going to be all of our Friday night plans.

My Policeman – Coming off of the controversy-marred release of the thriller Don’t Worry Darling, Harry Styles’s first main role is definitely not looked at in the greatest of lights because, having seen the film itself, he’s probably the weakest performance in it. Now he has to take the reigns all on his own in a gay romantic drama, based on a novel by Bethan Roberts and put together by sophomore director Michael Grandage. A story of forbidden love and changing social conventions, the film follows three young people, policeman Tom, teacher Marion and museum curator Patrick, as they embark on an emotional journey in 1950s Britain. Flashing forward to the 1990s, the three are still reeling with longing and regret, but now they have one last chance to repair the damage of the past. Uneven is the best terminology to use when it comes to this film as the story is engaging but the script gets tedious here and there despite the best efforts from a game cast. It saddens me that Lily James was originally cast and dropped out of this film as I love her as a part of an ensemble but Emma Corrin does a pretty solid job, known for her performance on The Crown as Princess Diana Prior to this. She definitely has a bright future but Styles needs considerable work.

Decision To Leave – Park Chan Wook, one of my favourite international filmmakers currently working, never makes the same movie twice and he never makes any moment uninteresting to watch on screen. Just knowing he has something new is enough to get me excited but to know that he was doing a sort of detective noir story had me giddy with cinematic excitement. The film follows a detective investigating the mysterious death of a man who plummeted off a cliff, seemingly by himself. Things get complicated when he begins to suspect the dead man’s wife might be directly involved but he also starts to feel a soulful connection that starts to seep into his own marriage. I want to refrain from any more story reveals but I will say that Park’s attention to character nuance is unparallel and he is a storyteller that always keeps you guessing and may drop your jaw from time to time. This is yet another masterpiece to add to his oeuvre and any international cinema fan owes it to themselves to see this film immediately.

Selena Gomez: My Mind And Me – For anyone that loves music-related documentaries then this first week of November is a sweet spot for you because you get two from very different spectrums. Let’s start with something that a broader audience will gravitate towards, a huge part of the Disney Channel empire and someone that was obsessed over by Justin Beiber fans to this day. Yes, this is about popstar, actress and producer Selena Gomez who is currently experiencing great success on Only Murders In The Building but, of course, achieved unimaginable stardom and years in the spotlight. As a result of that, she experiences regular anxiety, depression and darkness as this film spans a four-year period in her career. The humanizing of such an international superstar is really interesting and brings home the very real and constant fact of these people’s human reality. It also gives me a better understanding of an artist whose work, besides the Steve Martin and Martin Short series, I’m otherwise unfamiliar with.

The Return Of Tanya Tucker: Featuring Brandi Carlile – Speaking of artists I’m unfamiliar with, this is another facet in music documentaries that I love and it’s the retrospective but redemptive and comeback-laden stories, although the subject of this film, country star Tanya Tucker, absolutely hates that last term. I am a bit familiar with musician and producer Brandi Carlile, who is the main piece of the film to be included in the title, and co-producer Shooter Jennings, the son of Waylon. The film started running camera a handful of years ago, decades after the most popular years for Tucker and almost two decades after her last album as Carlile takes it upon herself to write an entire album for her hero based on Tanya’s extraordinary life, spurring possibly the greatest modern comeback in country music history and yes, I’m using that word again. What makes a great documentary is a character and that is exactly who Tucker is, note for note. Hard drinking, chain-smoking and pink hair blazing, she is so endearing but wears the damage and tragedy she has experienced, both professionally and personally, on her sleeve. The result is a film deep with humanity and maybe something that inspired me actually to listen to a little bit of country. Did I? I’ll never tell.

Blu-Ray:

Top Gun: Maverick – This is easily one of the best movies of the year and to think that we had COVID almost choke out all of the hype when it was originally supposed to be released, leading it to be mothballed for a solid year and a bit. The way to stop it from spinning out to mediocre obscurity is for it to be a damn good film on every level and that is exactly what it does from the get-go. The film brings us back to the base of the best flyboys in America after thirty years, with Pete “Maverick” Mitchell still pushing the envelope as a top naval aviator. Following the brash decision to ignore orders from the top brass in a land speed record flight, he must confront ghosts of his past when he leads TOP GUN’s elite graduates on a mission that demands the ultimate sacrifice from those chosen to fly it. When you get down to the foundation of this story, it feels very Star Wars in the “we must hit a small ventilation chamber to blow up the Death Star” sort of way but everything works in this film to create one of the most exhilarating experiences I’ve had in theatres in years. For the final explosive third act, I found myself gripping my seat and steps away from hooting and hollering along with the action. If that’s not theatre-going cinema then I don’t know how to describe it.

The Good Boss – As I was watching this new Javier Bardem dark comedy-drama, I found myself looking up the filmography of writer and director Fernando León de Aranoa and realized that he was the man behind a Vancouver International Film Festival favourite of mine, A Perfect Day, from my first couple years of covering the event. It made sense that this filmmaker languishes in human stories surrounded by darkness and not only does he love to hang out in that mood, but he also excels in it. This film has Bardem playing the owner of an industrial-scale manufacturing business who tries to resolve any problems from his workers as the company is awaiting a visit by a committee that could give them an award for excellence. This causes mounting strife in his own life as choices as the dominoes fall into place with each move he makes to solve other people’s issues. Bardem brings that same great gravitas to the role as he always did but it is the layered script that really propels this story and won me over in the end.

Rubikon – There is something fun about European genre films and I think it has to do with the freedom they experience not having to fit into the mould of Hollywood blockbuster features. We see it all the time in horror and some action films but where the wings really spread is in the sci-fi creature features and you have to admire the originality of some of them. This one comes from Austria and follows a crew in a space station who must decide whether to risk their lives to get home and search for survivors or stay safe in the station’s “algae symbiosis system” when a catastrophic event happens on Earth and the planet is covered in a toxic fog. The final result of this film is a story that brushes its fingertips on greatness but has an uneven ending that sort of diminishes its ability to stick in your mind for long after. The cast is really great, unknown internationally for the most part, but the weakness is its penchant for falling into ruts of predictability which defeats my notion of international originality. I didn’t dislike the experience but find myself at a loss to recommend it.

Euphoria: Seasons 1 & 2 – Game Of Thrones, Chernobyl and The Outsider seem so long ago as the new hotness on HBO right now is the stellar Righteous Gemstones and this provocative teen drama that I saw described as the A24 studio mashing with Degrassi High. It’s funny to say but a little far from the truth. The show looks with an unflinching eye at a group of high school students as they grapple with issues of drugs, sex, and violence in a world that is fast becoming a desolate landscape of forgotten childhoods and ambivalent parents. Starring the megastar of Zendaya, Maude Apatow, which makes a lifelong Judd fan feel really old, and the newcomer Hunter Schafer this series feels like a show that would play like an insidious horror film to any parent of a teenager and the secret lives that each of them leads even lead me to hang my mouth open in disbelief from episode to episode. There’s also a crazy amount of nudity in this as well, so it gets a lot of attention for that. The time of Zendaya isn’t winding down anytime soon so just get on board now with one of the most charismatic young stars in recent memory.

Steve’s 4K Rager:

To Kill A Mockingbird 4K – Gregory Peck was a giant of an actor with many incredible performances in his storied career but it was this film that gets the most attention and, coincidentally, he was celebrated for it too as he earned an Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of lawyer Atticus Finch. It’s also interesting to note that the book that the film was based on was banned for a long time in the United States and could be banned again if the GOP gets its wishes. The story follows Finch, a widowed lawyer in Depression-era Alabama who defends a black man against a wrongly accused rape charge and his children against prejudice There really can’t be any slander against a film as revered as this one and it always holds up but to see that Peck performance, particularly the summation monologue, in the high definition 4K. Did it need it? Probably not but it’s cool to possess.

Universal Classic Monsters 4K – Usually Shane gets a tad exasperated with the long list of horror films I bring to the show but these are absolute classics and it says so in the title. If it wasn’t for these four iconic movie creatures we wouldn’t have the films we have today and I’m not just talking about the horror genre. This set, bringing every film to the high definition platform of 4K, has all four of the starting to the most famous movie monsters with Bela Legosi’s Dracula, Boris Karloff’s Frankenstein’s Monster, Claude Rains’ Invisible Man and Lon Chaney’s Wolfman. These are films I can even show my ten-year-old, who hates horror but is pretty fascinated by the origins of it. This is a damn cool set, I think. 

Television:

Titans: Season 4 Part 1 (Crave) – DC and Warner Bros couldn’t seem to get their movies to work, but now The Suicide Squad came through to change that and alongside Birds Of Prey, Shazam and Aquaman have given us something to be excited about plus we now have James Gunn to oversee all of it to bring us even better things with our favourite characters. Their television division though is doing just fine in my opinion with Doom Patrol, Swamp Thing and this series and now it makes its highly anticipated fourth season debut but it’s going extended by splitting it up into two parts.  Originally constructed for their DC-centric streaming platform, this is the darker-themed adaptation of the Teen Titans, led by Robin and featuring Cyborg, Starfire and Beast Boy. It also is still deeply connected to the Doom Patrol, which I still think is the heavyweight in their arsenal and the gift that keeps on giving. Heck, it’s part of the reason that we got that renaissance for actor Brendan Fraser started.

Blockbuster (Netflix) – It has to be with the most tongue-in-cheek irony that Netflix is doing this comedy series about the last Blockbuster in North America because they are the cold-blooded murderer that dispatched the good ol’ video store and I still take issue with that as it is still one of my favourite jobs ever. That aside, the show has things going for it as it comes from first-time showrunner Vanessa Ramos who wrote for Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Superstore and stars Fresh Off The Boat’s Randall Park, Nine-Nine’s Melissa Fumero and Curb Your Enthusiasm’s JB Smoove. The show follows Park as the manager of the last Blockbuster who is doing everything he can to keep the store afloat, battling to keep what once was a massive conglomerate and is now a small independent business with a fifty-fifty ratio of apathetic employees. I really wanted to love this show but it just isn’t hitting anywhere in the ballpark of the shows I just mentioned. The plot feels a little sophomoric as does the script and no matter how much the seasoned comedy pros can elevate it, everything seems to fall flat with the newer cast. I’m hoping it gets better as the season progresses, being that I’m only halfway, but it’s been stuck on middling for the duration so far.

Manifest: Season 4 Part 1 (Netflix) – If you are looking for your new Lost-like series, this family NBC sci-fi mystery that Netlfix miraculously saved might be up your alley and, while it doesn’t feature any huge stars unless you were a fan of Josh Dallas on Once Upon A Time, it comes from creator Jeff Rake who created some vastly underrated comedy with the Wall Street series The $treets. The series follows the passengers onboard Flight 828 who, after being presumed dead, return and discover the world has aged five years. As they reintegrate into society, they begin to experience guiding voices and visions, and soon a deeper mystery unfolds. The show reminds me of the Syfy original series The 4400 quite a bit, a show that was cut down far too early and left too much of a tantalizing mystery. The push was big from the rabid fan base to find a new home for it when the Comcast cable network axed it from their schedule but luckily for the production team and cast the biggest streaming giant on the planet gave it a shot and maybe we can see not just a wrap-up season but a few more batches of episodes like they did with Lucifer. It already has the base to start with and the rest of the series is currently streaming too so it really is a win-win I think.

Young Rock: Season 3 (NBC) – Being a huge wrestling fan, this show only had a bit of interest in its first couple of years but now the series has moved on through The Rock’s life as a young boy, then a teenager and now has him set to debut if the then WWF as Rocky Miavia at Survivor Series. This is complete with the casting of Stone Cold Steve Austin with a Canadian wrestler Tyson Dux playing him and definitely many more so I might actually start this show which I panned due to it being a network-made enterprise. For those who don’t know about it, the show looks at the formative years of superstar Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson as he grows up through life and, like everything the Brahma Bull and People’s Champ does, it has earned the support of the fans and even some critics really praise it. Let’s just face it, for whatever fan I claim to be on both wrestling and The Rock, I’m pretty late to the game on this.

The Mosquito Coast: Season 2 (AppleTV+) – Remember the Harrison Ford film of the same name from Aussie master filmmaker Peter Weir with Helen Mirren about a guy trying to pursue the nature dream with his family? Well, much like Amazon Prime did with Weir’s Picnic At Hanging Rock, AppleTV+ has adapted this movie into series form with Justin Theroux in the lead, Melissa George co-starring and a plethora of directors helming episodes like Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes Rupert Wyatt and Game Of Thrones guy Jeremy Podeswa. The series is a gripping adventure and layered character drama following the dangerous journey of a radical idealist and brilliant inventor, Allie Fox, who uproots his family for Mexico when they suddenly find themselves on the run from the US government. The tension of the show is constantly on its sleeve and Theroux brings that same great energy he had with HBO’s The Leftovers to this, which isn’t the same calibre but is still damn good.

The White Lotus: Season 2 (Crave) – One of the breakout hits this year was this dark comedy-drama that is so well cast from top to bottom with Jennifer Coolidge, Steve Zahn, Connie Britton as well as young stars like Alexandra Daddario, Fred Herschinger and Sydney Sweeney but the important thing is it comes from one of the most gifted writers in Mike White. On the heels of picking up ten Primetime Emmys recently, You better have gotten fully caught up on all of the characters because season two is coming your way one episode at a time. I’ll outline where we’ve been to prepare you the spoils as season one was set in a tropical resort following the exploits of various guests and employees over the span of a week, whose stay becomes affected by their various dysfunctions. With the mountain of awards that came this past week, the big ones were for White’s writing and the series itself but we also saw Coolidge win a long-deserved award as well as the celebration of a new name in the zeitgeist, Murray Bartlett, who plays a pivotal role that I can’t even begin to describe. Now with the sophomore season finally here, it will be interesting to see if it was warranted or if it should have just been left as a one-off limited series.

New Releases:

Armageddon Time – One of my favourite filmmakers working today, I have been waiting for the next film from writer and director James Gray after his underappreciated sci-fi masterpiece Ad Astra. It seems to be par for the course for Gray’s films to go largely unnoticed but he does have a rabid fan base, me included, and the cast of this new drama, with Anne Hathaway, Anthony Hopkins and Succession’s Jeremy Strong, all actors he has never worked with, gets me even more amped. The film is very loosely based on real events in Gray’s childhood in the Reagen era 1980s and is a coming-of-age story about the strength of family and the generational pursuit of the American Dream, something that is lost in today’s America. The film received a seven-minute standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year and ever since it was announced I have been eager to get it in my eyeballs. Sadly, I live in a small town so my chances of seeing it on the big screen are slim to none so I live with my jealousy of those in a bigger market.

The Good Nurse – With two Academy Award winners in the leading roles with Eddie Redmayne and Jessica Chastain, it’s an easy assumption to say that this is probably one of those Oscar bait films, especially with us heading into November and the sort of start to awards season. The confirmation comes from it being based on a true story as well as the initial writing credit coming from a bestselling novel but I’m more excited about it being the first film directed by Tobias Lindholm since A War in 2015. The story follows Amy, a compassionate nurse and single mother struggling with a life-threatening heart condition who is stretched to her physical and emotional limits by the hard and demanding night shifts at the ICU. Help arrives in the form of Charlie, a thoughtful and empathetic fellow nurse who starts at her unit and the two develop a quick friendship. Life is improving for everyone until a series of mysterious patient deaths set off an investigation that points to Charlie as the prime suspect. The film is a well-told drama with Chastain and Redmayne elevating it where they can but I just wish that Lindholm had taken the script writing duties. It is a small gripe but his film Another Round, the last thing he wrote, is such an incredible film that may be one of the best international character films of the last decade.

Call Jane – A timely and relevant story about abortion, this is the type of filmmaking we need in the world right now without question. The benefit, to be completely honest, is that this isn’t an independent film as well and features known Hollywood stars in Elizabeth Banks, Sigourney Weaver and Kate Mara which gets it in more theatres and more commercials on television. The film follows Banks as a married woman with an unwanted pregnancy who lives in a time in America when she can’t get a legal abortion and works with a group of suburban women to find help. This leads to her joining the growing movement in the hope to empower the women around them and take the fight to the powers that be but under the contact eye and thumb of those who hold their choices, including her own husband. This movie just played at the Vancouver International Film Festival, so it is very fresh in my mind heading into this wide release. I really dug the film, fully focused on its message as it should be but it definitely lacks in enriching the characters who are supposed to be based on real people. When it comes to telling that story it feels a little contrived and familiar in most parts. I still can’t stress enough how important it all is though.

Wendell & Wild – On the same week that his last directed feature hits Blu-Ray and 4K, Jordan Peele has another project ready to jump into your eyeballs and it is a sort of reunion with his longtime writing partner and c–showrunner Keegan Michael Key, a prospect that has fans like me very excited. Adding their voices to this animated feature and with Peele as a writer, the uber draw to this should be that it comes from the mind of Henry Selick, the man who brought us Tim Burton’s vision in A Nightmare Before Christmas and brought Neil Gaiman’s Coraline to glorious life. This film falls into the same spooky category, following two scheming demon brothers, Wendell and Wild, who enlist the aid of thirteen-year-old Kat Elliot to summon them to the Land of the Living for a chance to wreak some havoc. Selick’s motivation has me so intrigued and I wish I got an advanced look at it as he used Charles Addams cartoons, The Twilight Zone, Ray Harryhausen’s stop-mo monsters, The Night on Bald Mountain, The Night of the Hunter and Invasion of the Body Snatchers as inspiration for this movie plus Key and Peele are basically doing Abbott and Costello impressions. All of this sounds so much like something geared to a Laika Studios fan like me which is who Coraline was produced by. This may be a hit before you know it!

All Quiet On The Western Front – This might be the best film of this year, a war film that has been made twice before, once in 1930 and again in the seventies for television, but this version of it hits like a hammer and is unrelenting for two and a half hours. There are so many stellar war films that have come, even just in my lifetime, but only a couple have been so laser-focused to show the visceral horror of being broken by combat and it’s the 1985 Russian film Come And See and this one now. The story follows teenagers Paul Bäumer and his friends Albert and Müller, who voluntarily enlist in the German army, riding a wave of patriotic fervour that quickly dissipates once they face the brutal realities of life on the front during World War I. Paul’s preconceptions about the enemy and the rights and wrongs of the conflict soon crumble but, amid the countdown to the armistice, he must carry on fighting until the end, with no purpose other than to satisfy the top brass’ desire to end the war on a German offensive. I was left slack-jawed by this film the moment these naive young men enter the battle and I couldn’t collect myself until the final credits hit. Bookended by beautiful serene moments before the cataclysmic chaos of war, this might not just be the best film of 2022 but the one of the great war films ever.

Prey For The Devil – Daniel Stamm is a horror storyteller that emerged with a hell of a debut in the sort of found footage possession horror The Last Exorcism, a film that made me say “how the hell did they do that?” more than once. Since then, he has failed to garner the same excitement out of his features, including the sequel to his first film, but it looks like he’s going back to that demon-soaked well for this new outing. The story follows Sister Ann, a nun who believes she is answering the call of a higher being to join the faith but is it from God or something else that has been tied to her and her mother since childhood? In response to a global rise in demonic possessions, Ann seeks out a place at an exorcism school reopened by the Catholic Church. Until now these schools have only trained priests in the Rite of Exorcism but a professor recognizes Sister Ann’s gifts and agrees to train her and things quickly spiral into the personal connection she doesn’t want to believe is true. The trailer is full of exorcism-driven chills and thrills and the hope is that we aren’t given everything in the three-minute ad, leaving a bare bone and unscary foray into exposition but I’d like to think that Stamm has some devious twists along the ride. I have some optimism about this film.

Run Sweetheart Run – It feels like week to week we are given a straight-to-streaming feature film that only seems to get some advertising in the days leading up to it and that is definitely true with this new horror thriller that should be plastered everywhere as we are heading into Halloween weekend. Even so, Prime Video hopes to rope you in with a film that did really well on the festival circuit and gained a lot of fans with its slick and stylish thrills. The story follows an industry go-getter and single mom who finds herself on a blind date with an influential businessman. At the end of the night, when the two are alone together, he reveals his true, violent nature which sends her fleeing for her life, battered and terrified, beginning a relentless game of cat-and-mouse with a bloodthirsty assailant hell-bent on her utter destruction. These are the films with a lot of grounded and character-based suspense in a hell of a shift for writer and director Shana Feste who usually does romantic drama fare like Country Strong and the remake of Endless Love. This might just be the sleeper hit to kick off your spooky weekend.

Blu-Ray:

Nope – Easily one of my most anticipated films of 2022, the return of Jordan Peele with his third feature film satisfied me thoroughly although I will say that a lot of people really failed to see the point driven in it and kept calling the filmmaker one that suffers from diminishing returns. I say those people are wrong. The trailers are deliciously ambiguous but entirely intriguing and if you haven’t seen the film yet, I would like to keep it secretive because the reveals are fantastic. The story follows OJ, the inherited owner of a failing Hollywood horse ranch who is reunited with his estranged sister Emerald after the mysterious death of their father. OJ is gearing up to sell the ranch and its contents to Ricky “Jupe” Park, a former child star and local attraction entrepreneur in the area until something appears in the sky and changes all of their lives. Peele reteams with Get Out actor and Academy Award winner Daniel Kaluuya and has a solid cast around him with Keke Palmer, Steven Yuen and veteran Michael Wincott who all deliver character-rich performances in a film that has all the ominous thrills and chills that you want but with an almost Spielberg like drive to it. Peele seems to grow more and more with every project and Nope was an astounding testament to that.

The Invitation – I have to be totally honest off the top to give this movie the dagger and say that it was a complete dud to me. Too much was given away in the trailer, like the reveal that it’s a vampire film and it really looks too close to the horror comedy Ready Or Not but without the levity and at the end of the day and in this spooky season, that would be a better bet anyway. The film follows Fast And Furious franchise star Nathalie Emmanuel as Evie, a woman grieving the loss of her mother with no other relatives who take a DNA test and discovers a long-lost cousin she never knew she had. Invited by her newfound family to a lavish wedding in the English countryside, she’s at first seduced by the sexy aristocrat host but is soon thrust into a nightmare of survival as she uncovers twisted secrets in her family’s history and the unsettling intentions behind their generosity. As I said, too much out on the table heading in so I suggest you ignore it but I do like that it comes from a woman writer and director in Jessica M. Thompson because this genre needs a female voice more and more any day. I really just wish the final product left me feeling a bit more fulfilled. Heck, maybe we should be done with vampires for a bit.

Official Competition – An easy way to get me onboard watching a film is to have it be about filmmaking or at least the process of and this one roped me in with that premise but I had no idea that it would feature two of the greatest performances from a couple of international superstars. Yes, Penélope Cruz and Antonio Banderas have a plethora of phenomenal films in their rearview mirror but there is something so special about this one and I have to believe that Cruz based a little bit on her frequent collaborator Pedro Almodovar. The film follows Lola Cuerva, a famous and highly touted filmmaker who is hired by a wealthy businessman looking to establish a new legacy. The project is a grandiose picture that also stars two of the biggest international stars who have never worked together before and for good reason. Creative and personal egos clash in a film that is darkly funny but can still come through with an emotional kick to spin the entire story. The film is impeccably shot at all times and I found myself astounded by the dually directed film from Mariano Cohn and Gastón Duprat, two storytellers I am totally unfamiliar with. Needless to say, I’m paying attention now.

Breaking – John Boyega is an actor that I want to hit superstardom, a guy that I first saw in the British sci-fi action thriller Attack The Block then, of course, a plum but squandered role in Star Wars as Finn but everything else seemed to skirt by. Well, this year he was a lead actor in the Viola Davis-led The Woman King but this based on a true story drama was also released at roughly the same time. The film follows him as Marine Veteran Brian Brown-Easley who is denied support from Veterans Affairs and, being financially desperate and running out of options, he takes a bank and several of its employees hostage, setting the stage for a tense confrontation with the police. The film felt like Boyega doing his best Denzel in John Q performance and it was great to see the late and fantastic Michael K. Williams in his final performance but something about the story feels so uneven in its delivery. The story is the key, another utterance of the government crushing a lower-class citizen who broke their back for the country, but there is so much that feels like it’s distracting from what is important. In a film that should have been an easy home run, the final result feels like it has a fleeting resonance.

Fall – As a fan of thrillers, something that I really love as a subgenre is the survival thriller and the more ridiculous you go, the more I am on board. Something that pushes my buttons deep in my core is anything that involves heights and the possibility of falling a great distance to your death. I know, the horror guy has this affliction but I can’t shake it, it gives me the shivers. This new film plays right into my insecurity as it follows best friends Becky and Hunter who find themselves trapped at the top of a two thousand-foot radio tower. Even worse, it was an expression planned by Becky to get her friend over the tragic death of her boyfriend who dies at the beginning of the film in a climbing accident. All implausibilities aside, this movie grips you with the crushing fear of falling to your death and I’m sure that it all plays beautifully on the big screen, more than it did with my home screening but, you know, I still got vertigo from it all. What didn’t work for me was the pretty badly written script which, through actresses like Annabelle: Creation’s Grace Fulton and Marvel’s Runaways’ star Virginia Gardner just didn’t have enough to give it enough conviction. Obviously, this movie isn’t about the script, just the action, and it pulls through well there thanks to writer and director Scott Mann.

Ray Donovan: The Complete Series – One of Showtime’s greatest and long-running shows, the gritty Liev Schreber anti-hero gets his flowers in this cohesive box set that also includes the film as well and, really, what shows except the best get a chance to do a movie as well. The cast around Schreiber is really great with Eddie Marsan, Dash Mihok, Paula Malcolmson and even Jon Voight is great, using his unlikeable personality, in reality, to channel into the dirtbag dad of the title character, Mickey Donovan. For those blind to television in the last decade, Liev is Ray, a professional “fixer” for the rich and famous in Los Angeles, who can make anyone’s problems disappear except those created by his own family. The show had a hell of a run, going seven seasons that featured guest turns from Susan Sarandon, Elliot Gould, Hank Azaria, Katie Holmes, Ian McShane and more. I honestly still haven’t finished the show yet but now with it all in my possession, I really have no excuse not to.

Steve’s Complete DVD Freak Outs:

Ed, Edd & Eddy: The Complete Series – Us Canadians have great memories of the launch of our own cartoon network Teletoon and this series was featured prominently, a Canadian-produced cartoon that still lives here and there on Roblox for the kids and TikTok every now and then but it is with this complete series box set that I’m learning it was actually made by the now deceased Cartoon Network. Yes, this is a bittersweet reminder that the television animation giant has walked into the sunset for the last time but we are gifted with this and the following pick in my newly named for this week, Freak Outs. Over sixty episodes the story of the off-the-wall, day-to-day life of three friends who have exactly the same name was told and some of them honestly feel like a fever dream I made up so it will be very cool to acquaint myself again with a Canadian animation legend. I even know a dude that animated it to add a personal connection to this.

Foster’s Home For Imaginary Friends: The Complete Series – Yup, we’re doing a classic Cartoon Network twofer this week because the good people at Warner home video hooked me up with stuff that would make an early 2000s kid smile wide. Now, this one is a bit different from the previous one of the list because, in all honesty, I’ve never seen it before. The plot of the six-season series follows a boy and his beloved imaginary friend who are able to stay together at an orphanage of sorts for imaginary friends that children have outgrown to be adopted by new children. This is geared at kids like my daughter who still have lengthy conversations with their imaginary friends and can relate to it and feel like they aren’t alone in their minds and that is the whole point, right? The animation is crude and sort of feels like Nickelodeon `Lite’ but it features so many of the voiceover greats like Grey Griffin, Phil LaMarr and even Spongebob himself, Tom Kenny. I’m so glad to get this to watch with the kid because it really is a lot of fun.

Television:

The Mysterious Benedict Society: Season 2 (Disney+) – Tony Hale has to be one of the most versatile actors working today, a rising star as Buster Bluth in Arrested Development, an award winner for his time on Veep and a welcomed delight in any movie or television series he pops up in. Heck, in this new series he doesn’t even show up until near the end of the first episode of season one but I was already hooked by that point. Now entering its well-plotted second season, this hour-long family series focuses on a group of gifted orphans who are recruited by an eccentric benefactor to go on a secret mission. That mission? Something I is still not going to spoil for you because the intrigue is too great to waste in this write-up. I will say that this show is shot in Vancouver so when they zoom through the city to the orphanage here and there I’m always going “Hey, that’s Gastown!” because I’m a British Columbian nerd always pointing at the television like a Leonardo DiCaprio meme.

Guillermo Del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities (Netflix) – One of my favourite horror filmmakers and, really, storytellers in general, Guillermo del Toro has created something masterful on Netflix and after getting my eyes on the first piece of it, it may be one of my favourite releases on the streaming service this year. Being a huge fan of anthology horror, this is an incredible way to deliver it in hour-long episodes and to have the master himself act as almost the Rod Serling-style host of the show is so cool. Over eight episodes we are given many very different nightmares from lots of awesome filmmakers like Cube’s Vincenzo Natali, The Babadook’s Jennifer Kent, A Girl Who Walks Home Alone At Night’s Ana Lily Amirpour and more. I really hope this one takes off and we get many more volumes of it with filmmakers from all over the world because it could be a great way for genre creators to make short films as well as give a platform to up-and-comers.

Big Mouth: Season 6 (Netflix) – It’s time to get uncomfortable with our bodies all over again as this lewd, rude and massively crude-minded animated comedy returns with all-new episodes and the added effect of coming off the first season of the spin-off series, Human Resources. That one was a bit of a lesser show but I adore anything that Nick Kroll and John Mulaney do and when you throw Maya Rudolph and Jason Mantzoukas into the mix then I am in love. For those who don’t know about this show, it is the awkward and sometimes brutal coming-of-age story of two best friends in the throes of puberty, this time dealing with the fallout of summer camp and new urges that have arisen since then and new love interests that have been created along the way. Watch it at your own risk but keep it in mind that it is totally my sort of messed up.

The Devil’s Hour (Prime Video) – One of the more recent Doctor Who incarnations, Peter Capaldi has a certain side of the nerd zeitgeist on his side right now but I loved him from his turn on the vicious Armando Iannucci series The Thick Of It and, of course, his recent role in James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad. This one is a totally different animal than those and it has Capaldi tapping into a darker side of his acting ability and I’m all here for it. Vaguely speaking, the show follows a woman who wakes up every night at exactly 3:33 AM, in the middle of the so-called devil’s hour between 3 AM and 4 AM and the devil in question may or may not be Capaldi’s Gideon, a man incarcerated for life that has a connection with our main character. The show comes from a first-time showrunner and creator in Tom Moran but he did write a couple of episodes of the sci-fi series The Feed which was fascinating but sadly very unpopular for Prime Video. Here’s hoping that this one has a little better success.

Tales Of The Jedi (Disney+) – After the Star Wars animated shorts series Visions that came out last year, I’ve been really excited to see this new Force-based little batch of episodes, another brainchild from Clone Wars and Rebels head honcho Dave Filioni, also known as the master of everything Star Wars Universe related. The animation is exactly the same as Clone Wars, Rebels and the recent Disney+ exclusive The Bad Batch and even welcomes back some of those characters. If this is supposed to be the first season then this is the Ashoka Tano and Count Dooku season because this is the focus of it with the birth of the future padawan to Anakin Skywalker kicking off the show and the Attack Of The Clones villain’s turn from the Jedi council to the dark side. I really loved all of the episodes, as short as they were at roughly fifteen minutes each. They may be for the deep Star Wars fans but I also think it’s an ingenious way to enrich some of the less regarded characters too. I mean, there’s a main part for Yaddle in this and that is so damn cool.

New Releases:

Black Adam – The anticipation on this movie is high and not because the track record for DC Comics live-action adaptations has been so dependable, because they haven’t been apart from a few standouts, but because The Rock has been campaigning and championing this film and character so much. Knowing what I know about the character, The Rock as Black Adam is such a no-brainer and a role that seems tailor-made for the megastar so I want it to be a successful venture as well because the dude is so damn likeable. The story follows Black Adam, recently released from captivity nearly 5,000 years after he was bestowed with the almighty powers of the Egyptian gods and ready to unleash his rage and vengeance on the world where he was held captive, Earth. It’s up to Doctor Fate and his assembled crew of Hawkman, Cyclone and The Atom to either bring Black Adam into the fold or prevent him from destroying the planet. The film comes from director Jaume Collet Serra who just did The Rock’s Disney film Jungle Cruise prior to this, has a pretty good history as of now with the People’s Champ but has a lot of bad movies on his resume as well. I still keep optimistic but there is a nagging feeling that it might not be the sum of all of its parts.

Ticket To Paradise – Without knowing anything about it, on paper, the casting of George Clooney and Julia Roberts in a comedy would probably lead to a hit given that they have great chemistry in the Ocean’s movies and audiences love a reunion. Then the trailer rolled around and it felt like we’ve seen every funny pat and plot twist contained in a two-and-a-half minute mash up but the name of the game is casual optimism. The film follows the two bankable stars as a divorced couple who team up and travel to Bali to stop their daughter from making the same mistake they think they made twenty-five years ago, marrying the supposed love of her life. To be honest, there is so much predictability in the story that I think the film will have to rely on the charisma and charm of these two A-listers and the script might take a backseat to that. The film comes from writer and director Ol Parker who is mostly known for the sequel Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again so you can see what kind of audience this film is playing to.

The Banshees Of Inisherin – One of the greatest writers and directors working today, I jump with joy when I see that Martin McDonough has a new film coming out, one of the best script writers in my opinion. Responsible for gems like Seven Psychopaths and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, he is going back to the well that put him on the map, grabbing the stars of his initial masterpiece In Bruges, reuniting Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson. The story follows two lifelong friends who find themselves at an impasse when one abruptly ends their relationship, with alarming consequences for both of them. Bent on keeping silent, the friend who wants to keep a rift between the two vows to take a finger off his hand in repercussion of being spoken to, which is a McDonough detail through and through. The reception at film festivals, including the recent Vancouver International Film Festival, has been stellar so my excitement to see it might be the biggest of all the new releases this week.

Raymond & Ray – I can’t imagine two more likeable actors being paired together than Ewan McGregor and Ethan Hawke which automatically indicates interest in this brand new Rodrigo Garcia drama, a filmmaker who is a little hit and miss but when he hits hot he hits good and these two stars definitely have to add to that. Coming off of a year where Ewan reprised his role of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Ethan has done more incredible work in horror with The Black Phone, these are two of the most arguable sought-after performances in the game so good or bad movie, we all win here still. The plot has them as half-brothers Raymond and Ray who reunite when their estranged father dies and discover that his final wish was for them to dig his grave. Together, they process who they’ve become as men, both because of their father and in spite of him, and try to find a bond between the two of them now that the reason that they are linked is gone forever. Premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival last month, and the reviews that came back from it are filled with praise for both Ethan and Ewan but sleepiness in the script that betrays the talent on screen makes for an uneven experience. As a guy that has had issues with Garcia’s work from time to time, I was really hoping for a return to form like Albert Nobbs from over a decade ago but this is apparently not it.

TÁR – Writer and director Todd Fields is a special kind of talent, an actor turned filmmaker who has swooped in only three times with feature films including this one but has earned acclaim every time, first with In The Bedroom then with Little Children. Now, sixteen years after his last feature, he teams with Cate Blanchett for a gorgeous-looking biopic that, judging from the trailer, will be another beautifully shot production from Florian Hoffmeister who just did Kogonada’s Pachinko on AppleTV+. The story is set in the international world of Western classical music and centers on Lydia Tár, who is widely considered one of the greatest living composer-conductors and the first-ever female music director of a major German orchestra. Blanchett may have easily earned herself another Academy Award nomination with the performance that is, from what I’ve read, the dominant force of this, but I doubt it will have a broader appeal for a non-cinema-minded audience. That said, I know this movie is definitely my kind of jam and I have deep anticipation for it as I loved Little Children when it came out, one of the best films of 2006.

Blu-Ray:

Bullet Train – As far as fun action flicks go, I had been looking forward to this new high-octane thriller ever since I saw the trailer because it stars a game-looking Brad Pitt who appears to be having the time of his life and it’s directed by David Leitch who hasn’t made a disappointing film yet in my opinion. It also has a killer supporting cast in it, pun intended, as they all appear to be playing dangerous assassins. Pitt plays Ladybug, an unlucky assassin determined to do his job peacefully after one too many gigs gone off the rails. Fate, however, may have other plans, as Ladybug’s latest mission puts him on a collision course with lethal adversaries from around the globe-all with connected, yet conflicting, objectives-on the world’s fastest train, that’s right, the bullet train. That aforementioned killer cast? It features Joey King, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Brian Tyree Henry, Hiroyuki Sanada, Michael Shannon, Bad Bunny and Sandra Bullock in a film that is snappy with its script and bone-crushing with its action making a fun ride from beginning to end even if it gets a little messy along the way. Brad is at the top of his comedy game here, showing off the chops that we see ever so often from him but Aaron Taylor Johnson almost steals the whole film, playing a character that seems to have walked in off of an early Guy Ritchie movie to provide some East London swagger. It adds to the infinite rewatchable nature that this movie radiates at all times.

Easter Sunday – Jo Koy is one of those phenomenal stand-up comedy talents that has been doing great work for years now but is only kind of known to the niche audience that gets deep in that scene or has watched a lot of Chelsea Lately when it was on the air. Now he hits a whole new medium with this brand new comedy feature that he gets to lead and it’s under the proven comedy chops of director Jay Chandrasekhar, a Broken Lizard member responsible for both Super Troopers movies, Club Dread, Beerfest and more. Based on Koy’s own experiences with his family, he stars as a man returning home for an Easter celebration with his riotous, bickering, eating, drinking, laughing and loving family, in this love letter to his Filipino-American community. The supporting cast is great, with Silicon Valley’s Jimmy O’ Yang, the hysterical Eugene Cordero, Lou Diamond Phillips and Tiffany Haddish, I must admit that I set my bar pretty low for this but really found myself enjoying it thoroughly. Sure, it comes off cheesy and formulaic here and there but the casting is so great and the charm is always present. At the end of it, I really like Jo as a lead character as well and though I doubt more leading roles are in his immediate future, he did his film the best in services.

Paws Of Fury: The Legend Of Hank – Sadly crushed under the box office weight of Gru and his Minions, the box office outlook wasn’t great for this animated feature that, looking at the ad campaign, seemed to be borrowing just a little bit from Kung Fu Panda but I implore people to give it a chance. I initially hinged it all on the fact that Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World star and Canadian treasure Michael Cera is the voice of our titular character but that was just the tip of the iceberg. Cera voices a loveable dog with a head full of dreams about becoming a samurai, who sets off in search of his destiny, to be trained by a martial arts master named Jimbo in a town where dogs are the pariah of the land and are hated by all. The cast around Cera is really solid, including the legendary and identifiable voices of Samuel L. Jackson, Mel Brooks, George Takei and Ricky Gervais and, yes, the animation definitely looks a bit subpar in comparison to any Pixar film for sure and even weak against an Illumination Entertainment film like its duelling foe, Minions: The Rise Of Gru but once I tell you that Mel Brooks and Richard Pryor got writing credits on this, it may turn the adult audience around on it. Yes, this is a semi-loose remake of the classic spoof comedy Blazing Saddles and has so many great homages to a movie that influenced so much in comedy today. The fourth wall breaks in the film also made me snort-laugh so many times in theatres that I had to explain some of them to my daughter and that should be an indicator of if it’s a film for the whole family.

Flux Gourmet – With the brand new thriller with a comedy edge The Menu just playing the Toronto International Film Festival last month and getting comparisons to a cross between Succession and the Saw franchise, Shudder struck while the frying pan is just heating up with this culinary related thriller. To me, it also has the added bonus of featuring former Game Of Thrones actress Gwendoline Christie in a pivotal role just after she magnificently played Lucifer in the Netflix adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman. This film, also exhibiting a comedic smile to it, is set at an institute devoted to culinary and alimentary performance, following a collective that finds themselves embroiled in power struggles, artistic vendettas, and gastrointestinal disorders in order to be at the top of their class. The film was created by writer and director Peter Strickland who, in my opinion, has made some of the most underrated and compelling thrillers of all time with the sound-based and paranoia-inducing Berberian Sound Studio and the fashion-motivated chiller In Fabric and he brings a mix of all of those elements to this movie that may be too divisive for everyone to get behind. I think it is a big score for Shudder to nab such an impressive debut and bringing it to blu-ray with the sharpness of sound and picture just adds so much more to the experience. All hail Shudder and let it live on as a genre giant, introducing more and more to genre cinema every day!

The Innocents – Looking for a creepy kid movie to get you to Halloween week? Well, I’m serving it up this week as you can check out this new Norweigian slow-burn horror that has been getting not just stellar reviews but “you gotta see this” glowing ones from my peers. The film takes place during a bright Nordic summer following a group of children who reveal to each other their dark and mysterious powers when the adults aren’t looking. While exploring their newfound abilities in the nearby forests and playgrounds, their innocent play takes a dark turn and strange things begin to happen and the lives of their parents hang in the balance. I really have to stress how gradual this film is as it is largely based on the kid’s point of view but the third act is incredibly rewarding and what I believe is pushing the word of mouth. Writer and director Eskil Vogt was responsible for penning one of last year’s best movies in The Worst Person In The World and has already returned with another piece of pure cinema.

E.T. The Extraterrestrial 4K – If you were a kid of the eighties you might have had a theatrical experience with this Steven Spielberg adventure that either enchanted you or scarred you deeply for life because you saw the titular alien like a dried-up dog turd and dying. Well, no matter how you took it then, it has its 4K re-release here and it is thoroughly gorgeous and has reinstilled that awe that Spielberg is so known for. We know the story here, following a stranded alien who befriends a ten-year-old boy named Elliott who protects him from government agents with his older brother and younger sister and try to get their new friend E.T. home before it’s too late. The wonder and magic of this movie can really never be disputed as everything about this movie feels so special to, at least, my cinema footprint in what I believe makes a movie and makes theatrical memories. I will always adore and champion this movie.

Steve’s Blu-Ray Geek Outs:

Winning Time – The Rise Of The Lakers Dynasty: Season 1 – At the end of last year, Adam MacKay had the critical fence-riding comedy Don’t Look Up on Netflix that let him get some vitriol out while also resulting in him getting lambasted by half the audience online but he’s back to tell some basketball history. Sadly, this was also the project that broke the friendship of MacKay and longtime pal and collaborator Will Ferrell as he wasn’t approached to star in it but it looks to be an alright consolation prize for not getting a Step Brothers sequel. The series is a comedy-drama that centers on the professional and personal lives of the 1980s Los Angeles Lakers, one of sports’ most revered, dominant dynasties and a team that defined an era, both on and off the court. The swagger of the eighties style is all there, we have Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird as well as one-time majority shareholder Jerry Buss played by John C. Reilly in another team-up with him and Adam. I really loved the first season of this show and was really happy when they said they’d be moving forward on a second one. I’m guessing there is a stack of Jerry Buss stories to be told.

Television:

Somebody Feed Phil: Season 6 (Netflix) – There’s something delightful about watching Everybody Loves Raymond creator Phil Rosenthal going around the world eating food in different cities and countries and I think it has to be due to his big smile and even bigger heart that he wears so much in the open. I think it is easy to live through his experiences and travel with the awe-filled wonder in which he takes it all in. Now, after five seasons, you would think that the premise is getting a bit old but Phil exudes such a likeable quality that I could continue watching this series season after season and the check-ins with his elderly parents are such a heartwarming piece of it that I’m flabbergasted at how right they got this old concept of eating and travelling in essentially what is an “on the road” blog. He definitely isn’t as dour and dark as Anthony Bourdain was but I’ll say that sometimes it’s to a fault. Don’t really expect the bigger issues internationally in this one.

The Peripheral (Prime Video) – I’m definitely a sucker for genre movies and when they roll it into a television format then you have me engaged fully and this one dabbles in the sci-fi area with a thriller and mystery element so, no matter who is involved, I will be watching. That said, the cast is solid with Chloe Grace Moretz, Midsommar’s Jack Reynor and One Night In Miami’s Eli Goree, so the young up-and-comers are well represented. The series is set in a future where technology has subtly altered society, much like our own, where a woman discovers a secret connection to an alternate reality as well as a dark future of her own. This is a vague description, I know, but it whets my appetite for some world-building science fiction from novelist Scott Smith who has brought other genre fun to the screen with the criminally underrated vacation horror The Ruins and the mystery thriller A Simple Plan which was adapted by Sam Raimi, also underrated. This could be a sleeper hit so I suggest you get into it sooner than later.

Unsolved Mysteries: Volume 3 (Netflix) – So it may not have the iconic hosting and narration from the legendary Robert Stack, may he rest in peace, but the theme song is still present, chilling and hair-raising as always, and the stories are still true, riveting and, above all, unsolved. Two volumes deep before this one hits this week, if you haven’t had the chance to watch this new Netflix reboot of the show and loved the original show then you really owe it to yourself to get immersed in this show that will puzzle and challenge you, turning you into an investigator along the way. I also really like the attention to character and the emotion that can sometimes be plumbed by it. It’s so insane that so many disappear with no trace but maybe, with more viewer eyes on it, these mysteries might not be unsolved forever.

Inside Amy Schumer: Season 5 (Paramount+) – I don’t need to go on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook to know that Amy Schumer’s comedy is divisive and a lot of people do not like her brand of humour. It’s plain as day. I will tell you here that I’m not one of them and have really enjoyed her work ever since I saw Trainwreck and now she has resurrected her Comedy Central series on Paramount+ and the track record of said show was so good that I’m excited for more from her hilarious mind. With memorable sketches like 12 Angry Men Inside Amy Schumer with a jury of men debating if Amy is “fuckable”, her Friday Night Lights parody Football Town Nights or Last Fuckable Day which sees her meet up with Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Patricia Arquette and Tina Fey to send off Fey on her last maiden voyage, it’s all so hilarious and so I can’t wait to see what parenthood has added to her comedic arsenal now.

New Releases

Halloween Ends – I know the title says ENDS but is this really the end? I doubt it, especially when you have the producer of Malek Akkad and a box office success in these new sequels but I can say that it is the last ride for lead star Jamie Lee Curtis and her portrait of perpetual final girl Laurie Strode. This film picks up four years after the events of Halloween Kills and the shocking murder of Laurie’s daughter Karen in the final moments at the hands of her uber nemesis, Michael Myers. After this long time away, Michael returns to put Laurie six feet under but she is prepared for the battle and willing to destroy herself in the process in this final battle. I know many had sizeable issues with the middle piece in this legacy trilogy but I personally really liked a lot of what they did and I can’t wait to see how director David Gordon Green closes it out. There is something special as a horror fan in hearing the familiar tones of the terrifying theme music and seeing that iconic movie monster in his blue coveralls that revert me back to the young viewer I was when I started watching these movies, hiding behind my hands.

The Loneliest Boy In The World – It feels like the zombie subgenre within horror has had a lot thrown at it just over the last twenty years or so making it harder and harder to get something original going. The decisive use of dark comedy is really the better route to go now and even that field has a lot of heavyweights in it so you better come out swinging. This film aims to do just that, a film that bills itself as a modern fairy tale and it has the star of the new romantic drama After series, Hero Fiennes Tiffin to lead it. The story follows Oliver, a young, sheltered and unsocialized man who is tasked with making new friends after the sudden and devastating death of his mother. He decides that digging up some new friends might be the easiest route, for some reason, but when he awakens the morning after he discovers that his newly acquired friends have mysteriously come to life overnight. A wild and inventive film with questionable social cues, director Martin Owen proves again that he is not willing to make the easy film in any genre, especially as this is following up the low-budget extravaganza that was Max Cloud as well as his Charles Dickens send up, Twist. Well, this one certainly has a “twist” as well and, although his last one got middling reviews, this movie looks like the continuation of a fun streak from the filmmaker.

Rosaline – I am a little disappointed with the heads at Fox Studios not having the guts to put some of their films in theatres and are instead throwing them to Hulu and Disney+ here in Canada as a film like Prey definitely deserved to see the big screen and I believe this new romantic comedy would have had a bit of success too. It is an odd mishmash of Mean Girls meets Shakespeare in a blending that is effective, charming and thoroughly hilarious. A favourite of mine, Kaitlyn Dever stars as the titular character in a comedic retelling of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” told from the point of view of Romeo’s jilted ex, Rosaline, the woman Romeo first claims to love before he falls for Juliet. Casting and a really snappy script keep this film constantly afloat and I adored seeing Get Out and The West Wing’s Bradley Whitford as Rosaline’s father, in constant frustration of finding a suiter for his brash, opinionated and unpredictable daughter. I do expect that this one will grow in popularity due to word of mouth but not getting a larger release must be a bummer to all involved.

The Curse Of Bridge Hollow – Netflix releases not directly purchased from a studio and made in-house are always a bit tricky and can lead to disaster but this is a Halloween movie in the Halloween month and if a movie like Adam Sandler’s Hubie Halloween can find moderate success then anything can. I have to say that the cast thrown together is an odd one with My Big Fat Greek Wedding’s Nia Vardalos, comedians Lauren Lapkus, Rob Riggle and Marlon Wayans but the fact that Kick Ass 2 director Jeff Wadlow helmed this gives me a bit of pause because I hate what he did to that franchise. The story follows actress Priah Ferguson, Erika on Stranger Things, as a teenage girl, who accidentally releases an ancient and mischievous spirit on Halloween which causes decorations to come alive and wreak havoc, and must team up with the last person she’d want to in order to save their town, her father, not Mike, Dustin and the rest of the Hawkins gang. I feel like this story was probably better told in last week’s Hocus Pocus 2 which may have totally stolen this movie’s thunder but it looks fun and Ferguson is such a seasoned actress already and I’m excited to see her carry something on her own.

Dark Glasses – One of the legends of horror returns with a Shudder original and if you don’t know the name of Dario Argento then you need a full October crash course through his films like Suspiria, Tenebre and Deep Red as soon as possible. Now, to put this in perspective for horror fans in the know, this is Dario’s first film in a decade, following his Dracula film that he perplexedly put in 3D, but it is from a long-gestated script that he wrote twenty years ago before the studio he was working for went bankrupt. Co-starring his daughter Asia, as usual, this film goes back to his Giallo roots as one of the genre’s creators and follows Diana, a young woman who lost her sight and finds a guide in a Chinese boy named Chin. Together they put themselves in immense danger and possible target sights as they track down a dangerous killer through the darkness of Italy. Much like I’ve discussed before about action and western filmmaker Walter Hill, Argento’s style has faltered quite a bit and he isn’t quite as effective as he was before but genre stalwarts will want to pick this up nonetheless just to see the inventive ways of his kills which are usually very effective.

She Will – This was a total surprise to see come up on the release schedule this week as a horror thriller with the great Malcolm McDowell is always something to stop and take note of, one of the greatest character actors of all time and a personal favourite ever since I saw the cinematic glory that is A Clockwork Orange. This also happens to be the debut of writer and director Charlotte Colbert and I’m always so excited to see a new female voice in the genre and, according to the reviews so far, it is a hell of a first film. The film follows former Borg Queen Alice Krige as an aging film star who retreats to the Scottish countryside with her nurse to recover from surgery. While there, mysterious forces of revenge emerge from the land where witches were burned in a story that is reportedly far more bone-chilling than it is jump-scary. I love the atmosphere that is given in the trailer and this addition to Shudder’s lineup just increases the must-have feeling that the streaming app has been gaining for years now. Genre fans are rapidly running out of excuses to not buy in in my opinion.

Drinkwater – This is kind of a cool one to cover for me as it is a Canadian film that features an internationally famous and locally born star in Will & Grace’s Eric McCormack plus it was filmed right here in my backyard of the Okanagan and, more to the point, my current town of Penticton. The movie is also a deep character story and that is always something that will rope me in. The film is a coming-of-age story in the John Hughes tradition and follows a lost young man named Mike Drinkwater. His father, Hank, is hardly the role model Mike deserves which keeps him floundering in his own identity until a young woman moves to town and their friendship gives them the courage to overcome their collective challenges. The film really belongs to Daniel Doheny who does the heavy lifting as Mike, an actor who gets better ad better with each role, the Netflix series Brand New Cherry Flavor being another great indicator of his talent. It’s also really cool to see your small town represented in a motion picture and I really hope to see more productions here.

Blu-Ray:

Sweet Tooth: Season 1 – One of my favourite comic series of the last twenty years and a Canadian-made one to boot, from the mind of creator Jeff Lemire, I was absolutely ecstatic when I heard that this, pun intended, sweetheart of survival tale was picked up for adaptation on Netflix from Robert Downey Jr. and his wife Susan’s production company with Stakeland filmmaker Jim Mickle overseeing it. The story starts out ten years prior with a pandemic called “The Great Crumble” which wreaked havoc on the world, creating a virus that kills most of the world’s population, and leading to the mysterious emergence of hybrids, babies born part human, part animal. Unsure if hybrids are the cause or result of the virus, many humans fear and hunt them, causing paranoia throughout the survivors still trying to live off the land. The main focus is Gus, a sheltered hybrid deer boy who, after a decade of living safely in his secluded forest home, unexpectedly befriends a wandering loner named Jepperd and together they set out on an extraordinary adventure across what’s left of America in search of answers about Gus’ origins, Jepperd’s past and the true meaning of home. I’m absolutely in love with this show and quickly gobbled up everything that was sent to me in the weeks leading up to its initial release on Netflix and am now just waiting for the follow-up season that reportedly started production in January of this year. This show is so special and beautifully constructed and I wish it hit huge as Stranger Things did. It’s that damn good.

Wire Room – I’m in awe of how many movies Bruce Willis has done in his direct to video side of his career and especially how many of them have been released since his diagnosis of aphasia was revealed earlier this year because I swear I’ve received no less than ten of these this year alone. That being said, this is also the second Kevin Dillon film, more known as Johnny Drama in Entourage, the earlier film being a Mel Gibson action flick. This film has Dillon as a federal agent on wire room duty listening to a target being attacked in his house by a hit squad. Without burning the wire, he must protect the investigation and the target’s life from the confines of a room fifty miles away. The story always sounds way more interesting than the final product as everything is marred by bad effects, haphazard scene blocking and a script that is usually dismal at best so I wouldn’t expect anything different from this one. They are mostly direct to video for a big reason and this also leads to no streaming services picked it up in its first run.

Steve’s Blu-Ray Geek Outs:

Superman & Lois: Season 2 – With Arrow ending its run almost four years ago and Black Lightning and Supergirl both calling it quits last year, I was really surprised to see that we were getting a new Superman series which is actually a spin-off from his cousin Kara-El’s show. With Tyler Hoechlin and Elizabeth Tulloch sticking to their titular DC universe roles, the world the mega-producer Greg Berlanti has crafted continues on its path with this show that follows the world’s most famous superhero and comic books’ most famous journalist as they deal with all the stress, pressures, and complexities that come with being working parents in today’s society. Oh, did I not mention that they had a super baby? Well, I guess you should have boned up on Supergirl before starting this one which is not me mocking you, just a real prerequisite to actually being able to enjoy this because following it would be pretty easy. I’m just happy for this to erase Dean Cain from my mind because that dude is a real waste of space these days. I’m also really happy that Warner Bros. had the wherewithal to keep this show going and not cancel it as they did with a wave of other DC Comics-related shows.

The Crazies – Remakes are always tricky and when you put a legend like George A. Romero and his works in the crosshairs you will meet up with some resistance. Given, it all worked out for director Zack Snyder who slowly amazed an army of toxic fanboys to follow every move of his starting with the remake of Dawn Of The Dead, Breck Eisner’s remake of The Crazies was sadly buried and forgotten about which is an absolute cinema crime. Starring Radha Mitchell and Timothy Olyphant, the story is about a small town that must deal with an unusual toxic virus which takes over the area after a plane crash releases it. What results is the urge to maim and kill in an almost zombie-like fashion after ingesting the toxin and the total erasure of the town may be the only fix. Harrowing and effective, Eisner frames this story in a new modern way that really picked up on the current nerve of horror at the time and many that I’ve talked to about the film absolutely love it so why didn’t audiences? This is constantly a question in horror and no matter how big the fan base is, which is vast, these films always seem to be left by the wayside.

Television:

The Watcher (Netflix) – After The Midnight Club has totally jump scared you out of your skin and you have taken my recommendation of seeing Watcher on Shudder, this is the next logical choice and the trailer for it looks utterly terrifying in a very real sense. Featuring the genre-weathered star power of Naomi Watts and the always welcome Bobby Cannavale, this limited series has the added draw of being based on a very real story. The story follows a family who moves into their dream home, only to be plagued by ominous letters, strange neighbours and sinister threats. The story this was based on took place in 2014 with the Broaddus family who was spied on, threatened, and ultimately driven to sell their home & leave the town they loved, by a mysterious stalker who identified themselves only as “The Watcher” in the letters sent to Mr. and Mrs. Broaddus. The real horror stories are honestly the most blood-chilling so I have the utmost faith in this series to get the scares done and being a Ryan Murphy production, the guy who did the American Horror Story seasons, it’s in good hands.

The Winchesters (The CW) -After a decade and a half of Sam and Dean Winchester doing their thing, slaying demons and saving the lives of the innocents they could, the origin story of their parents are getting the spotlight now on The CW. It’s huge boots to fill with relative unknown Drake Rodger playing John Winchester, a role originated by the great Jeffrey Dean Morgan, and it could make or break the show for me. The series frames itself as an epic, untold love story of how John Winchester met Mary Campbell and put it all on the line to not only save their love but the entire world. When John returns home from fighting in Vietnam, a mysterious encounter sparks a new mission to trace his father’s past. In his journey, he crosses paths with 19-year-old demon hunter Mary, who is also searching for answers after the disappearance of her own father. Together, the two join forces to uncover the hidden truths about both of their families. Hopefully, this new series can pick up the fanbase of the original and carry that flag through another decade of television and it looks like it will have one of the Supernatural stars to do it as Jensen Acklesis listed in the show’s credits but I assume in a narration sort of way. All the same, I’m still very much looking forward to it.

I feel so long past my days of taking in sixty-one films like I did during my first time at the festival as I was free and clear to watch movies twenty-four seven for the over two-week festival plus the prep time beforehand and now I sit at just ten movies total to wrap up the fest. My vow is to do my damnedest to attend the next festival in person and hopefully equal some of the better totals that I have achieved but do it rubbing elbows with the patrons, just the way the cinema gods intended. That said, here is my thoughts on the last five of VIFF 2022.

Carajita – One of my favourite things about taking in Vancouver International Film Festival’s lineup is the unpredictability of some of the titles I choose to watch. It’s always unpredictable and the more international you go, the more stories are some that you have never been privy to and sometimes they line up with amazing films you have seen before. This is the first Dominican Republic-produced film I have ever seen and it follows a girl and her nanny that have forged a bond beyond their separation in class. When a tragic accident happens one night, it leads to a secret that changes their relationship in explosive ways that will impact the rest of their lives. This film reminded me a lot of Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma in the division of classes but the human sorrow that runs as a thread until an impactful scene on a beach of crashing waves made its way into my psyche where it will rest for a while.

The Hermit Of Treig – This is a fascinating little character documentary, filled with hard choices and resolute decisions and it’s hard to not reflect on yourself and the material-driven choices we make every day. My fascination definitely comes with filmmaker Lizzie MacKenzie who would periodically look in on the life of elderly man Ken Smith, a man that has lived in seclusion for forty years after deciding to give up everything, including the love of his life, something he seems to be a little wistful about. Now in declining health, in body and mind but never spirit, the choice of coming back into society is the most forefront as it has always been but does he make the choice to just fade into the nature that he has now become part of, living with the ghosts of his past and the bare bones of a beautiful shack he had created that burnt to the ground, haunting his for his remaining days? The whole process is amazing and being the first documentary I saw at the festival this year, it set a tone.

Leonor Will Never Die – Being a guy who loves international films but is very unversed in cinema from the Philipines, I was really looking forward to checking this one out as I heard many great things about it. What I didn’t expect was a tie to eighties action films that would play as such a main theme for the story. The story follows a retired filmmaker who is suddenly struck with the inspiration to finally finish a revenge action thriller script she had been working on in her past just before a television strikes her in the head. In a hospital bed, deep in a coma, she wakes to find herself actually in the movie itself with the characters she has created in a blur between fantasy and reality where all of her familial and personal problems act as a metaphor. The film is really inventive with its framing and themes and the emotional bursts in it are so unpredictable and goes right for the heart. This is the first film from writer and director Martika Ramirez Escobar and I can’t wait to see what she has next as her cinema soul is something she seems to wear on her sleeve.

Last Flight Home – The changes and restrictions that COVID put on us as a society for two years and still, to some degree, have been held in place are something that has kept us all safe but has also led to some isolation that has advanced sicknesses, diseases and disorders and that rapid deterioration is really the catalyst for this documentary to me. The film follows the story of Eli Timoner, a bedridden family man who has reached the end of the rope with his pain management and being cared for by others and has decided to end it all in the comfort of his own home. For three weeks leading to the day he leaves his mortal coil, he is visited by friends, family and caretakers as they all take their moments to say goodbye and we are given the story of Eli’s extraordinary life of service to his family and his community. The humanizing that is experienced in this film of pre-grief but also the celebration of one man’s life is truly heartwarming and heartbreaking all the same. To see Eli, still very much in pain but full of love and uplifting positivity for all those around him was truly special to watch.

Maigret – It’s not a Vancouver International Film Festival without a Gerard Depardieu film, is it? It’s kind of fitting that I went out with this as my final film is a sadly short program from me this year but it’s even sadder as I really didn’t like this one and it’s kind of a usual thing with me and this French legends films at the festival. The film has Gerard as the titular Commissioner Maigret, who is tasked with finding the murderer of a young girl in a classy evening dress found in a Parisian square, leading him through the rich aristocratic side of the city. Without going into much detail, I will just say that the film lacks a lot to be desired in a murder mystery, whereas even recent Hollywood films like Knives Out and even Branagh’s Murder On The Orient Express lead to more excitement in plot. I will also say that the rigid moroseness from Depardieu does nothing to aid in this problem and may have been the final straw for me and this movie.

It’s the greatest time of the year in the lower mainland and it definitely isn’t Christmas or at least for the non-movie-hungry public. Yes, it is the glory of the Vancouver International Film Festival, a place where I have had the most fun in my entire life but, sadly, I am unable to attend in person this year. Having to adjust to covering this virtually again, it is a relief that I am still able to give some reviews as I have already seen some incredible features and I’m kicking it all off here with my first five viewings of the festival.

Triangle Of Sadness – Those who are veterans of the Vancouver International Film Festival know that entering a viewing of a Ruben Ostlund film is like no other and that firebrand of satire is exactly what we get again. The mind that brought us the marital doom of Force Majeure and the lampooning of the art world, the Swedish filmmaker is here to take on the one percent and he’s coming with a kill shot. The film, through the conduit of a model/influencer couple in the midst of a spat, tells the story of an ill-fated cruise that has a Russian oligarch, his wife and his mistress, an elderly couple living off the riches of being weapons manufacturers and so many more questionably wealthy individuals, under the command of a captain battling with his ideals, alcoholism and an unhealthy dose of nihilism. Once the snowball starts rolling on the chaos of this film, nothing and nobody is safe from being taken down more than a peg, leading to an utterly unpredictable third act.

Broker – Nothing is more calming to my cinema center than a Hirokazu Koreeda film and with his last film Shoplifters so recently in my glowing books, I was really wondering how he would follow that up. The decision he made was to pair with actor Song Kang-ho, now internationally known for Parasite, for another quietly reflective drama that puts the human condition in the front seat at all times. The film follows a young woman, played with deftness by Ji-eun Lee, who, after abandoning her baby on the steps of an orphanage, decides to find a home for the child instead with the help of two former orphans. As the journey through South Korea continues, the small group starts to bond and become more of the family that they are pretending to be from time to time as a cover all the while two detectives trail them for a crime the young woman may have committed. I fell hard in love with this movie, one that warmed my soul and solidified that, yes, even if I’m not in Vancouver right now, I am still at VIFF.

The Beasts – Denis Menochet, for me, is mostly known for that incredible opening of the Quentin Tarantino film Inglourious Basterds but his intensity is something that has made me take notice of anything he has done since. This is what drew me to this simmering drama, a film that I had no previous knowledge of which served for the best experience of it. The film follows Menochet as a French farmer who has moved to the Spanish countryside of Galicia to harvest their dreams. When the two vote against the installation of windmills in the area, it puts them at odds with the town but mostly with their neighbours who request the local drinking hole and start to bully him in an escalating fashion. As he fights back to document the terrorizing that these men are doing to him and his farm, the urgent nature of the situation careens out of control leading to an incredibly shocking moment. The way this story is told really took me aback and I was really fascinated by how terrifyingly menacing these people could be. I also have to give some love to actress Marina Fois as Menochet’s wife who does so much heavy lifting in the third act.

Aftersun – With a splash of A24 across the screen I sank deep into my comfort zone, knowing I was about to watch something special. What I didn’t know was that I was going to experience something that had an atmosphere on it’s surface that I would relate to along with a wistfulness that comes with age that would resonate with me. Told through the prism of a woman reminiscing through old vacation videotapes, this tells the story of a preteen Sophie who goes on a vacation with her father, played by Irish actor Paul Mescal, to a picturesque resort. A sort of autobiographical film from debuting writer and director Charlotte Wells, this has to have been a long thought of production because it unfolds on screen with the prowess of a filmmaking veteran. The exploration of character along with beautiful shots and a soulful drive makes Wells a director that I will be looking for whatever comes next. This is one of the top films of this year’s festival.

Klondike – The timing of this new Ukrainian film couldn’t be more important with the conflict between that country and Russia being at the forefront of the news for almost all of 2022 but this story is inspired by true events from 2014, a just as pivotal time. Knowing nothing about this film, I had no idea what I was heading into and just how deep the devastation would go. The film follows a Ukrainian farmer and his pregnant wife living on the borderlands between Russia and Ukraine who are getting ready for the imminent arrival of their first child. Just as they are about to leave, a plane crashes which subsequently rips the side off of their house. Rebels, separatists and family members all try to convince the couple to leave, some finding a possibility to make the incident political or something of their cause while the army just sees it as leverage to take what little these two have left. This film is gripping and deeply emotional with a final couple of scenes that left me in a heavy ugly cry for about fifteen minutes. I have been able to stop the tears since but this will stick with me for the rest of my life, easily.

New Releases:

Amsterdam – I am going to preface this little blurb here by saying that I don’t think writer and director David O. Russell is a good dude as there have been many documented incidents of bullying cast, crew and extras on his film by him. Still, I will say that he really does have a handful of great movies on his resume but he also has Joy and American Hustle on that same list, his last two efforts, and I downright detested the former of those two. This film has a killer cast, as he usually assembles, featuring Christian Bale, Margot Robbie, John David Washington and so many more, which makes this all the more enticing. Set in the 1930s, the film follows three lifelong friends who witness a murder, are framed for it, and then uncover one of the most outrageous plots in American history attached to it. The trailer has me so pumped for it and maybe that is just the use of the Ten Years After song I’d Love To Change The World and snappy editing but I guess we’ll find out in theatres. Like Scorcese loves to use Rolling Stones in his film, Russell opts for Led Zeppelin but I have no idea how that fits in a thirties film but who knows.

Lyle, Lyle Crocodile – Shawn Mendes is one of the hottest acts on the planet as far as pop stars go so why not make the leap to the big screen and play a giant singing crocodile while he’s at it? This movie looks like it was made for the families who dug the big screen version of Clifford The Big Red Dog which honestly did okay at the box office for being a quasi-post-pandemic family release. Starring Constance Wu, Scoot McNairy, Winslow Fegley and an odd-looking Javier Bardem, the film follows the title reptile who lives in a house on East 88th Street in New York City. Lyle enjoys helping the Primm family with everyday chores and playing with the neighbourhood kids but one neighbour insists that Lyle belongs in a zoo. Mr. Grumps and his cat, Loretta, do not like crocodiles, and Lyle tries to prove that he is not as bad as others might first think. The trailer gives you the entire tone of the film and it looks like more of an avenue for Mendes to release more original music as I think he is also a producer on the movie. I feel like it will definitely hit its demographic. 

Werewolf By Night – To my recollection, Marvel Studios hasn’t done a one-off short movie yet in their existence, aside from the shorts that accompanied some of their early blu-ray releases but that all changes this week. Coming from a director that usually scores films, like the J.J. Abrams Star Wars movies, Michael Giacchino is a recognizable name that gets to bring some of Marvel Comics’ darker characters and I’m excited for everyone to check it out because it is so much fun. The story follows a secret cabal of monster hunters who gather at Bloodstone Temple following the death of their leader. In a strange memorial to the leader’s life, the attendees are thrust into a mysterious and deadly competition for a powerful relic–a hunt that will ultimately bring them face to face with a dangerous monster. Done in black and white, the approach to the filmmaking is that of a sort of Hammer Horror production which brings a whole new genre mash to a cinematic universe that continues to reinvent itself with each different project and hero. Without getting into any spoiler territory, I will say that I hope some of the characters that debuted in this hour-long special presentation have a life beyond what we’ve seen because I know them well from the comics and they are pivotally important in that universe.

Triangle Of Sadness – When you sit down for a movie by writer and director Ruben Ostlund you have to know that you are in for something unpredictable and sometimes as scathing as having a bucket of cold water thrown in your face. He’s taken on marriage dynamics in Force Majeure, and the volatility of the art world in The Square but this time he has the 1% and influencers in his crosshairs and it is very “shoot to kill”. The initial story follows a celebrity model couple named Carl (Harris Dickinson) and Yaya (Charlbi Dean), who are invited on a luxury cruise for the uber-rich, helmed by an unhinged boat captain (Woody Harrelson). What first appeared “instagrammable” ends catastrophically, leaving the survivors stranded on a desert island and fighting for survival. Ostlund is going for the throat in an even spicier version of his firebrand and as soon as the story starts to slide down the slope of chaos it is unrelenting into a totally unpredictable third act. Not everyone is loving this movie as much as I am but it hit me in all the right spots even if it is massively stomach-churning in certain places. 

Catherine Called Birdy – This film kind of snuck up on me as it only started getting reviews recently and the advance word on it was absolutely stellar. I understand that it probably will get shunned by a large population of viewers because it is written and directed by Lena Dunham, a sort of people-repellant in some regard, but her track record is sound with a phenomenal debut in Tiny Furniture and a long-tenured show on HBO with Girls. Easy for me to admit that I’m on board for this film starring the young Bella Ramsey playing a fourteen-year-old girl in medieval England who navigates through life, avoiding potential suitors her cash-strapped father has in mind to help pull them out of the decline into poverty their family is in. The film is based on a book by Karen Cashman, and, from what I’m hearing, Dunham’s approach and resolute faith to the source material is felt in every frame and the cast assembled around Ramsey is really deep with former Doctor Who companion Billie Piper, brilliant character actor Andrew Scott and the man of Taylor Swift’s midnight, Joe Alwyn. With such a short turnaround from festival to streaming, I don’t see this getting any broad appeal but those in the know will be streaming it as soon as possible on Prime Video.

Deadstream – Sometimes with horror films, especially in the indie market, we hear the buzz on films but it takes a while for them to get picked up in any streaming deals or a physical release and that’s the deal with this one. Thanks to Shudder, this genre festival favourite gets to stream on the perfect platform for it and the reviews for the horror with a comedy spin have been absolutely glowing. The story follows Shawn, a disgraced internet personality who attempts to win back his followers by live-streaming one night alone in a haunted house. Unfortunately, when he accidentally pisses off a vengeful spirit, his big comeback event becomes a real-time fight for his life and who knows if he will even survive to see redemption. Written and directed by Joseph Winter, he takes the triple duty by playing the lead role of Shawn in a film that can mask its low budget by being a handheld Blair Witch-style shocker and it absolutely knows where the strengths lie in that storytelling trope. Add to that some insanely good creature effects, a snappy script and some great slapstick humour and you have a solid and original film to kick off your horror month.

Blu-Ray:

DC League Of Super-Pets – Just weeks before he’s set to take the stage in the long gestated debut of Black Adam, The Rock is giving back to the kids through DC Comics properties and is dragging his buddy Kevin Hart along for the ride. These are some deep cuts to put on the big screen but Dwayne is kind of the best choice to voice the dog of Superman, Krypto, which is probably the only one that your comic layman will know off the bat, no pun intended. The story of the film follows Krypto as he forms a team of shelter pets who were given superpowers when the Justice League are captured by Lex Luthor. On that squad is a hound named Ace, who becomes super-strong, a pig named PB, who can grow to giant size, a turtle named Merton, who becomes super-fast, and a squirrel named Chip, who gains electric powers. See, Chip is another one I know from the comics as he is an actual Green Lantern Corps member but it is obviously being played in a different way here. I also really love the fact that this film has Keanu Reeves voicing Batman which really works on so many levels. John Wick is now Batman in some sort of way. I will be honest that I set my bar low for this one, believing that it would play exclusively to the kids but it has a lot of value for an older comic lover like myself and the comedy charisma that Rock and Hart hold together as a team is very much evident here too. If you want to have some animated fun, this movie is definitely worth the time.

Dead For A Dollar – Westerns in modern Hollywood have gotten a rough ride recently because most of the time they aren’t backed by a big studio, the money in production seems fleeting and fewer and fewer of them are getting released as the days go by. This one had promise all over it as it features Christoph Waltz in his second western behind Django Unchained, one of the greatest actors ever in Willem Dafoe and is directed by Walter Hill, the man who did 48 Hrs, Another 48 Hrs, The Warriors and so many more. Good pedigree there. The story is really basic western 101, following a famed bounty hunter who runs into his sworn enemy, a professional gambler and outlaw that he had sent to prison years before while trying to collect the reward of a kidnapped woman from her scheming husband. As basic as the plot is, the production of the film is even more frustratingly basic with terrible editing and cinematography that lacks any imagination at all. Even if style could have saved the film, the script never would hold any sort of dramatic water no matter what actor you have delivering it and the film just kind of coasts by without anything memorable. At almost eighty years old, it was more of an indication of the cinema world leaving old Walter behind and that he should think more about just being a producer on things or just retiring altogether.

Watcher -Ever since I experienced the low-budget horror feast that was David Robert Mitchell’s It Follows, I have been enthralled with everything that came from it, including his weird follow-up Under The Silver Lake. Another discovery from It Follows was the brilliance of lead actress Maika Monroe and the depth that she gives her horror. This is why I am so interested in Shudder’s new offering this week, a film about a young American woman who moves with her husband to Bucharest, and begins to suspect that a stranger who watches her from the apartment building across the street may be a local serial killer decapitating women. It is definitely that sort of Maniac mixed with Rear Window storyline that solidified the deal for me with Monroe being perfectly cast but it also features another woman in horror behind the camera with writer and director Chloe Okuno following up her segment in V/H/S ’94 with her first full-length feature. It also doesn’t hurt that this movie is trending at a Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, no small feat for a film of this genre.

Steve’s Blu-Ray Geek-Outs:

She’s Out Of My League – There are so many rom-coms from year to year that a lot of them slip through the cracks and I really believe this to be one of them. In the two-year crunch that saw him starring in the ensembles of Knocked Up and Tropic Thunder, proud Canadian Jay Baruchel was cast as the lead in this funny film from writer Sean Anders, just after his raunchy comedy Sex Drive, and it worked plus it gave hope to us skinny nerdy types, or at least at the time. Jay plays Kirk, your average everyday dude who meets the perfect woman, but his lack of confidence and the influence of his friends and family begin to pick away at the relationship. A funny cast is assembled around Jay like T.J. Miller and Hayes MacArthur, but it’s the star turn of actress Alice Eve and her chemistry with the lead star that makes this movie memorable in my opinion. I think it’s really funny that they had Kirk be a Pittsburg Penguins fan when, in reality, Jay is a massive Montreal Canadians fan which has never been a hard thing to find out.

The Lost Boys 4K – This movie is one that I have to credit for putting me on the path to being a horror fan. The cast was my conduit and, as you could guess, it was the two Coreys, Haim and Feldman, that made me so interested at first and definitely the Feld Man as he played one-half of the vampire-hunting Frog brothers. For those who have been under a rock for decades, the story follows a mother, played by Dianne Wiest, and her two sons (Haim and Jason Patric) who move to a small coast town in California, that unknown to them, is plagued by bikers and some mysterious deaths. The younger boy makes friends with two other boys who claim to be vampire hunters while the older boy is drawn into the gang of bikers by a beautiful girl which leads to an intense “initiation” that starts to make a change in him physically. From legendary filmmaker Joel Schumacher, this was a generation definer with so many iconic and memorable moments as well as an insane musical number featuring a muscled-up saxophone player, a part that everybody remembers. I love this movie so much.

Poltergeist 4K – Speaking of movies I love, this one is going to be a bit of a rehash but it’s on 4K now and it deserves it. This is one of the classic ghost stories on film, a movie released forty years ago this year that will always have a place in many people’s hearts but will also always be a cautionary tale in filmmaking as it has so many dark clouds over it. First off, there’s always the debate on whether Tobe Hooper directed this as he is credited or if producer Steven Spielberg did the heavy lifting and the second one is the use of real human skeletons which may have cursed not just this movie but the subsequent sequels to come. It’s really fascinating to dig into. The film follows the Freelings, a young family who are visited by ghosts in their home. At first, the ghosts appear friendly, moving objects around the house to the amusement of everyone but then they turn nasty and start to terrorize the family before focusing on the youngest daughter, one who has an astral connection with them. This movie oozes style and the effects were groundbreaking at the time. It also illustrates how different a tie it was when it was released as the film would have probably gotten an R-rating these days just for the bathroom mirror scene with Marty alone.

Television:

Let The Right One In (Crave) – Just a couple of weeks ago I had some harsh words about Americans remaking foreign horror films but we may have come across the one exception with this horror IP right here. Originally a phenomenal Swedish film from director Tomas Alfredson, it was remade by Matt Reeves with Chloe Grace Moretz, a film I lashed out at before it came out and it ended up totally astounding me. This is why I’ll give this series version more than a chance and the fact that it is led by the great Demian Bichir softens it a bit for me. The series follows a 12-year-old girl who lives a closed-in life after turning into a vampire, only able to go out at night. Her father does his best to provide her with the minimal amount of human blood she needs to stay alive, acting almost as her personal Renfield, which is a definitely play on the source material. The series is run by Penny Dreadful writer Andrew Hinderaker who used this series to get over the heartbreak of the cancellation of his space series Away at Netflix but, just judging from the trailer,  think he was right to put his efforts into this show.

The Midnight Club (Netflix) – After numerous movies and three hit shows, Mike Flanagan is back to put the chills into us once again and I had no idea that I had read the source material as a teenager until halfway into the first episode. It pulls from some good stuff too as this series is based on a book by Christopher Pike, a writer that cornered the young adult horror genre, along with R.L. Stine. The show follows a group of five terminally ill patients at Brightcliffe Hospice, who begin to gather together at midnight to share scary stories, almost like a terminal version of the Are You Afraid Of The Dark crew. From moments in, Flanagan is so gifted at making your hairs stand on end with creepy imagery, foreboding moments and jump scares that are totally earned at all times. It also has A Nightmare On Elm Street’s original final girl Heather Langenkamp in it as well which was such a delight to find out. I’m loving it all so far.