Steve Stebbing

Breaking down all things pop culture

Tully – The combo of writer Diablo Cody and director Jason Reitman has always been a winning one for me ever since I got my advance look at Juno in 2007. On her own, Cody struck out a bit with Jennifer’s Body but the two reunited for Young Adult with Charlize Theron and knocked another one out of the park. Well, they did it again with Tully, a film that feels so embedded in the plight of exhausted and overworked parents that I found myself nodding constantly at the screen and chuckling with every moment that I or my hardworking wife could relate to. Theron digs into reality again, coming up with another viscerally real performance as Marlo, a mother of three who has lost all of her identity in the process of raising her kids. The hiring of Tully, an untethered night nanny with the life philosophies to pull her out of her funk just adds another loveable character into this already wholly endearing film. It also doesn’t hurt that she’s played by Vancouver’s own Mackenzie Davis. Don’t miss this one!

Redbelt – There’s something to be said about David Mamet film and, really, it’s the dialogue that gives them their must-see appeal. Glengarry Glen Ross has blistering words flying a mile a minute out of a brilliant cast and the criminally underrated The Salton Sea had a noseless villain in the form of Vincent D’onofrio’s Pooh Bear lamenting putting his enemy’s brains in his breakfast scramble. Another under the radar film was this MMA centric drama starring Chiwetel Ejiofor following a teacher and former fighter who gets a lucrative opportunity out of a bit of unfortunate happenstance. As it turns out, Mamet had been training in Brazilian Ju-Jitsu for six years before writing this film and the authenticity is palpable. Ejiofor executes everything with effortless ease, matching his usual dramatic flourish that he always gives on screen. Celebrating its tenth anniversary this week, it’s a great time to discover this one for the first time.

Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story – Years before he was Vin Diesel’s boy, making The Fast And The Furious and XXX, Rob Cohen was known to me as the guy who brought the life of Bruce Lee to the big screen in Dragon, a film I watched a hell of a lot as a young teen. Jason Scott Lee (no relation) plays the title role impeccably but it’s interesting to note that he had no previous martial arts training or experience, although he was a skilled dancer which is what earned him the role. Turning twenty five this week, the film was released twenty years after Bruce Lee’s death and still finds a warm spot in my action-loving heart as I will still watch it every time I see it on television, especially if it’s the scene where Bruce confronts his “demon” on the set of Enter The Dragon. It’s still so bad ass.  Also, if you’re looking for films to snug up next to this one, the Ip Man series is the story of the man behind training Bruce Lee and, coincidentally, it stars the man who was turned down for the lead in Dragon, Donnie Yen.

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