Steve Stebbing

Breaking down all things pop culture

New Releases:

Glass – A lot of people like to say that M. Night Shymalan’s days as a great filmmaker are over and, while I will concede that he made three of the worst movies I have ever watched, he has some really great things in his rearview mirror including a solid two previous films. His most recent film Split tied into my favorite of his movies Unbreakable which brings us to the culmination of his superhero trilogy here. The unfortunate thing is this film is getting some absolutely dismal reviews which has me very concerned. Did I overhype this movie in my head, something M. Night wasn’t capable of delivering on or is this movie going to be one of those misunderstood movies that I will cherish like a deep guilty pleasure? It worked for Venom, didn’t it?

Stan & Ollie – This is an example of a film that it seems everyone else loved and I’m wondering if I missed something. Starring Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly, this is a biopic about the legendary comedy duo of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy but instead of focusing on the origins, we join these two in the middle of their careers with the strain of having to keep up physically and mentally had started to form cracks in their resolve. The main piece of this film is the resilience of the relationship as friends, collaborators and, most of all, business partners. Being about comedy you might think that this would be a comedy itself but it really is far from it. Instead, director Jon S. Baird makes this a character drama, one that rests heavily on the shoulders of its stars and those being portrayed which unfortunately makes the film a tad bland, making its final resting spot in the unforgettable pile. That aside, the cinematography is just as big of a star as the two leads, done by Ben Wheatley’s usual director of photography Laurie Rose.

Capernaum – Nominated for a Golden Globe and on the Oscar shortlist, this drama from Lebanon is a heartbreaking journey through the eyes of a child. The film follows Zain, a young boy who is suing his parents for the simple act of being born. Going through the backstory his mother and father cheat and steal using his help to make a living and when they sell his sister into marriage Zain decides that is the final straw causing him to run away. He finds a young Ethiopian mother who is forced to hide her infant son and decides to stay and help. This movie shook me, a real look into the class struggle, racial divide and poverty in the third world. It will haunt you.

Science Fair – A documentary from National Geographic, the film follows nine students from across America who have won entrance into the most important science fair in the world, The International Science and Engineering Fair. I really enjoyed this one, glimpse into the young minds trying to make an impact on our planet with some very ambitious ideas and practical methods to achieve it. All they need to do is win the ISEF Best In Fair to kickstart it. The film is both fascinating but sad when you think of the current status of schooling and science during the current government administration.

Blu-Ray:

Halloween – A massively anticipated movie for me given my obsession with the John Carpenter original, this follow up forty years later had a lot riding on it for me. I’m so happy to report that this movie totally satisfied all of my Michael Myers cravings and fanboy needs with its homages but still managed to keep its own identity and forge its own path. It’s not the Blade Runner 2049 of follow-ups but gives a beautiful resolution to the story that the Master Of Horror started in 1978 and provides some great thrills and, for me, an infinitely rewatchable story.

Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween – Who would have thought that Jack Black would find himself the cushy little niche genre of family horror? Well, between the first Goosebumps film, which was a pretty big hit, and The House With A Clock In Its Walls, a movie that surprised me with its gothic fun, he seems to be doing a pretty stellar job. This might be the reason that this sequel seems to be on the losing end as they decided to do this movie without Black and it was definitely detrimental as this one is being called a total dud. The kids may glean a small bit of enjoyment from it but not as much as its predecessor.

The Old Man And The Gun – Writer and Director David Lowery and his usual actor counterpart of Casey Affleck reunite for this film about an ageing bank robber played by Robert Redford who has a gentlemanly report to his heists knocking off banks across America during the 1980s. Lowery has this incredible ability to immerse you in his films, something he has done with every film so far. The way he achieves this is the rich detail he gives to not only the time period but the feel of America at the time right down to being shot on Super 16 film. David Lowery is one of the most interesting filmmakers out there and if this is truly Robert Redford’s final onscreen film then he did it with a filmmaker that really understands the man’s legendary look and status.

Madeline’s Madeline – Another film that seemed to skip me when it came to landing like a cinematic masterpiece because I didn’t really get this one and furthermore it kind of annoyed me. The story is about a troubled teen girl with a volatile relationship with her mother who forms a creepy obsession with a theatre director. The movie is well acted, with standout performances from Molly Parker, Miranda July and newcomer Helena Howard, but it never really hit a consistent tone for me. Touted as “experimental cinema”, I feel like this film should have been something I’d be on the same wavelength with but it’s an arthouse mismatch.

Howling III – I’ve known about the Howling for a long time. I remember seeing the VHS cover of the original Joe Dante film and its sequels including this special one right here which gets the Shout Factory collector’s edition treatment. See, I didn’t know the oddity of the third movie, one that got an Australian revamp which I discovered in the documentary on Ozploitation Not Quite Hollywood. It’s so Aussie that the film replaces werewolves and instead substitutes were-kangaroos instead which to me is just fantastic. Even better, it claims to be the continuation of the book series that spawned it but that is completely untrue. They just took werewolves and did whatever the hell they wanted. Hilarious.

Special VOD:

The Bookshop – On the outside, this looks like a delightful little film starring Emily Mortimer, Bill Nighy and Patricia Clarkson about a woman who moves to a small town to open a bookstore in 1959. The delightfulness takes a sour turn as the rich citizens of the town take offence to the bookstore, as the location is in one of the historical landmarks, causing a battle between the entrepreneur and those who hold sway. For the entire first act, it feels like this movie is struggling to find its tone and voice but midway through the second it hits with a wallop with powerful scenes between our lead and Bill Nighy’s character, one of the rich that is on her side and is also a regular customer. Furthermore, the acting clinic continues in a scene between Nighy and the adversary Clarkson in a bid to fight for his beloved bookstore and the special friendship he has made with its proprietor. This is a film that surprised me, moved me and left me with a tear in my eye.

Steve’s Blu-Ray Geekout:

Hang ‘Em High – A western classic starring the most iconic stars of the genre, Clint Eastwood, I was really excited to see this movie drop in my mailbox, the fiftieth-anniversary edition from Shout Factory. With Ed Begley SENIOR in the role of the dastardly villain, Eastwood plays a man mistaken for a criminal who is lynched by a gang of crooked lawmen in an Oklahoma town. You know revenge ensues in memorable fashion, restored on Blu-Ray and including two separate commentary tracks from film historians. Very cool.

The Mangler – I was always a big Stephen King fan. I mean, he is probably responsible for my love for reading as I burned through his entire bibliography, looking for everything I could get my hands on. The main pull point where a lot of his films come from are his short stories and, really, some are good and some are decidedly not. This film has the added horror credibility of being directed by one of the genre’s greats, Tobe Hooper, but I remember it not quite being good. The upside is that this Shout Factory special edition has an unrated cut made from the 2K restoration from the original camera negative they did for it. I’m willing to give second chances.

Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 -I know, it’s far too late to be talking about Christmas movies but in my defence Shout Factory just sent this collector’s edition to me and it also helps me plug my new episode of the Tremble Podcast in which we cover the Christmas heavyweight Krampus. Cheap plug, yes. Really though, who doesn’t remember Silent Night, Deadly Night? Passing it in the video store and being agape in wonder at the fact that there was a Santa related horror film, ah, the memories. Are these movies good? No, but they are fantastically campy and this edition is crammed with special features, commentary and a 2K restoration from the theatrical print.

Netflix:

Carmen Sandiego: Season 1 – When this new series was announced, I can’t lie, the childhood memories in me resurfaced and I got excited. It all flooded back. The public broadcast show. The game show format with the different rounds. Rockapella! Seriously, if they don’t get this exactly right there may be a big uproar from this direction but so far Netflix has consistently nailed every revival they have been a part of so I have good faith in this.

Close – As soon as I saw this starred The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’s Noomi Repace I was automatically on board with it. She plays the hired bodyguard of a rich teen heiress who is forced to go off the grid when they are attacked at her mansion. This action thriller may be nothing more than fluff with stylish gun fights but, you know, I’m totally alright with that. The film also features Indira Varma from Game Of Thrones in what looks to be a villain role, something she didn’t fully get a chance to explore in Torchwood.

FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened – Picture a bunch of douchebags that thought they could organize a destination music festival and when it fell through decided to just go ahead with it anyways in result stranding a bunch of young and rich people on an island. I can’t believe this is a true thing that happened but I was glued to this ridiculous story and I’m so happy that there is a Netflix documentary on the whole crazy thing. Can. Not. Wait.

GIRL – This film out of Belgium is getting a lot of awards talk, already nominated for a Best Foreign Golden Globe and on the short list for an Academy Award as well. The movie is about a fifteen-year-old transgendered girl who dreams of being a ballerina and enters into one of the top schools. The drama looks interesting as she has to battle against fact that she was born in the body of a boy and find her own grace. The trailer is so good for this.

IO – Netflix definitely has something good going for it right now with all of these big feature films they are producing, whether you like them, like Dumplin and Apostle, or hate them like Bird Box. This new one definitely does big as it follows two people after the end of the world and the rest of humanity has abandoned the planet. The movie takes a chance with new director Jonathan Halpert and three inexperienced writers but the look and style of it looks really intriguing and star Anthony Mackie is a draw.

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