Steve Stebbing

Breaking down all things pop culture

New Releases:

The Upside – Based on the very popular French film from 2011, this film has Bryan Cranston playing a quadriplegic billionaire who hires Kevin Hart’s character, an unemployed former criminal to be his caregiver. I am definitely on record more than once saying that Kevin Hart’s comedy feels stale but this is the kind of partially dramatic turn that piques my interest as I don’t think he’s ever done this kind of film. I’m also drawn in by the film being helmed by Neil Burger who’s put out great movies like The Illusionist. (Not playing in Hamilton or Oshawa)

A Dog’s Way Home – Anytime I see a new dog related movie I feel a little bit worried that I’m going to step in a big old pile of canine crap because it’s really hard to get one of these stories that work without sickening amounts of sappiness, bad acting and animal frolicking B roll. This may just mean I’m still angry since Ken Marino’s Dog Days. Anyways, this film doesn’t look any better than the Dennis Quaid movie A Dog’s Purpose, a film that was so bland but still gets a sequel that is currently filming. I guess there’s a market for this but don’t watch the trailer because it is essentially the entire film condensed. (Not playing in Hamilton)

Replicas – Sci-fi with Keanu Reeves? I’m sold. Will it be good? Actually, it might be cool as it comes from Jeffery Nachmenoff who’s only other directed film is the fantastic thriller Traitor starring Don Cheadle and Guy Pearce. This is a futuristic film about a scientist who learns a costly lesson when he becomes obsessed with bringing his family back after a deadly accident. The story for the film was developed by Reeves himself, alongside his frequent collaborator Stephen Hamel who he also made Henry’s Crime, Siberia and the upcoming Rally Car. This may be just that popcorn fluff science fiction to start your year. (Not playing in Kamloops or Barrie)

Vox Lux – This film almost looks like the story of a Lady Gaga style pop singer, played by Natalie Portman in a performance that is getting some notoriety with critics. The film is written and directed by actor Brady Corbet who, in his second feature, is hitting some grand scale filmmaking here with some absolutely gorgeous art direction and visuals. This looks like a movie right up my alley and the first look of it kind of reminds me of the late nineties film Velvet Goldmine. (only opening in Toronto)

Blu-Ray:

Venom – The best terrible movie of the year, I really adore this mess of a Marvel origin film and it all has to be attributed to Tom Hardy. Cancelling out Sam Raimi’s crack at the character in Spider-Man 3, we enter a world where, confusingly, there is no Spidey and just Venom. Can this character even make it without the inclusion of the web crawler? I guess so as we really don’t miss him as this movie hurtles through its plot at a sometimes nonsensical pace. How this movie manages to work and be totally entertaining will be a forever mystery to me but believe me, it does.

What They Had – A film listed on my honorable mentions of 2018, this movie is a drama with a little life comedy to it. Hilary Swank plays an uptight woman who goes home to Chicago after her dementia-suffering mother (Blythe Danner) starts to decline further, putting a strain on her father (Robert Forster). Given that she has the power of attorney, her exasperated brother (Michael Shannon), the one who stayed behind to hold the family together, tries to convince her to use her position to have her mother and father put in a home. The acting is so incredible in this film and first-time writer-director Elizabeth Chomko crafts an endearing and wholly relatable story that I think is a must see.

Hell Fest – Every year little film trends surface and disappear without notice and one of them happened in 2018 horror and it is serial killers at theme parks. The first was a low budget slasher called Blood Fest and then the big studio and decidedly less critically loved Hell Fest came out. The story is simple, a bunch of kids descend on an amusement park only to be picked off one by one due to a masked maniac on the loose. To me and this is nerdy but the saving grace of this movie could come from the fact that Gregory Plotkin made this movie and while, yes he made Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension he also EDITED Get Out. That’s a win, right?

When Harry Met Sally – Remember the iconic moment of Meg Ryan faking an orgasm in the middle of a New York City diner? Can you believe it was thirty years ago? Rob Reiner directed this Nora Ephron written treasure about two best friends who fear that sex would change their whole dynamic. Punctuated by brilliant performances from Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan, this is a benchmark in romantic comedies, one that in many ways has never been surpassed and now you can relive it with Shout Factory’s anniversary edition packed with special features.

Netflix:

Friends From College: Season 2 – This Netflix comedy makes its sophomore debut, an ensemble featuring Fred Savage, Keegan Michael Key and Cobie Smulders. The show is about a group of Harvard classmates now reconnecting as they enter their forties and, this season, looking to put their past behind them in celebration of a big wedding. Created by Forgetting Sarah Marshall’s Nicholas Stoller and Francesca Delbanco.

ReMastered: Massacre at the Stadium – Episode four rolls out for this docuseries focusing on conspiracies within music, this one looking at the murder of Chilean protest singer Victor Jara. The case was closed, incarcerating a member of Augusto Pinochet’s army. That man was sent to live in exile and, wrongly accused, now is looking for exoneration. This series has been awesome since it started and has become hotly anticipated each month.

Sex Education: Season 1 – A new British comedy series, this stars Gillian Anderson and Asa Butterfield about the teenage son of a sex therapist who decides to use the smarts he’s learned from her to run his own “practice” in his high school with the help of the edgy girl in his class. The show looks like it has a fun script which could be the saving grace is this coming of age horny teen romp series.

The Last Laugh – Hot of the Golden Globes win for The Kominsky Method, Netflix is doubling down on old guys with this road trip comedy starring Chevy Chase and Richard Dreyfuss. Chase plays a comedy agent who coaxes one of his old clients from decades ago on a comedy tour believing that he still has the potential to be a star. While I’m on the fence with Chevy, being that he’s a legend but also a world-class piece of shit, I’m really excited to see Dreyfuss in this as I’ve always been a big fan of his. Also, the film was written and directed by Greg Pritikin who made Dummy with Adrien Brody.

Titans: Season 1 – DC and Warner Bros can’t seem to get their movies to work, aside from Wonder Woman and Aquaman, but their television division is doing just fine and this new series adds another win to that total. The debut show of their online component, this is the darker themed adaptation of the Teen Titans, led by Robin and featuring Cyborg, Starfire and Beast Boy. It also is the lead in for the upcoming Doom Patrol, another great looking series. We may be seeing some really great comic work with classic characters.

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