Steve Stebbing

Breaking down all things pop culture

Ant-Man and The Wasp – After the brutal consequences we endured with Avengers: Infinity War, it’s really nice to go back to something fun and light in this Marvel Cinematic Universe that appears to incredibly bleak at the moment. Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly return to the titular roles in a sequel that picks up right where we left off but also ups the ante with the freedom of not having to give the origin exposition. As great as Rudd and Lilly are, for me, again, it’s all about Scott Lang’s trio of friends Luis, Dave and Kurt, played by Michael Pena, T.I. and David Dastmalchian respectively who again steal the show. Luis’s storytelling is a highlight that gets better and better. Don’t think I will glaze over the new additions of Michelle Pfeiffer and Laurence Fishburne who will hopefully now be main pieces in the MCU going forward. My remaining question is how are you feeling about the de-aging CGI in the Marvel films? I think some work and some do not.

Leave No Trace – Someone please tell me why Ben Foster hasn’t won an Academy Award or Golden Globe yet? I’m not sure if he’s had a tough life or hard upbringing but the amount of hidden pain behind his eyes is palpable every time he’s onscreen and this new film is no exception. Coming from Winter’s Bone writer and director Debra Granik, this film is another deep character drama about two people living on the fringes of society. Ben Foster plays Will, a man dealing with some serious PTSD who lives deep in the public forests of Portland, Oregon with his teenage daughter Tom. When discovered by some hikers, they are put into a government-owned home which causes Will to feel trapped and the two flee from the home, against Tom’s budding feelings of wanting a true home. The film is a tragic story of the love between a father and daughter as well as the indoctrination we can inadvertently put on our children. This is definitely one of the most soulful films I’ve seen this year.

A Quiet Place – For a horror film that pushes the boundaries of arthouse as well as being a straight up monster film, this film goes above and beyond in its ability to chill you to the bone and evoke emotion from you. Director and star John Krasinski really comes into his own, solidifying himself as one of the top filmmakers working today. To leave this story fresh for those who haven’t seen it I will tell you that to fully enjoy yourself in this you must turn the lights low and go into the most soundless area of your house and prepare yourself for one of the most unique horror films of the modern era, up there with It Follows, The Babadook and It Comes At Night. Don’t sleep on this one.

Buffalo 66 – It was twenty years ago this week that Vincent Gallo released his crowning career achievement, a dark dramedy about a never do well just freshly released from prison. Best of all, to continue his winning ways he kidnaps a young woman, played by Christina Ricci, to act as his wife to impress his Buffalo Bills fanatic mother (Angelica Huston). This was one of my most prized films in my VHS collection, a video store discovery that was another step in my growing love of independent film. There are chances that Gallo takes in this movie that blew my young mind including a frozen Matrix style moment deep within a sort of dream sequence in the story. It’s a fact that Gallo made no friends making this movie but he made me believe wholeheartedly in his directing style. Well, until The Brown Bunny at least.

Pi – It’s no secret that I absolutely adore Darren Aronofsky and while I’d love to say it was from the moment I got my eyes on this now twenty-year-old film, it wasn’t. That honor belongs to Requiem For A Dream but Pi is just as mind blowing in its own massively complex way. A film that only cost sixty grand to make, the real draw in this film is its complexity from deep within the mind of Aronofsky, Eric Watson and star Sean Gullette. Again to protect you from spoilers I will avoid giving any of the plot away but it’s notable that Aronofsky was collaborating with his staple composer Clint Mansell since this film as well as having a featured role for long time character actor Mark Margolis. Seriously, this whole list this week is filled with total gems but this might be the center point of it all.

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