Miss Bala – Its been a bit of a rough ride from woman led action films, especially recently as they search for the next “Jane Wick”. In the last few years, we got a kick-ass Zoe Saldana in Columbiana and Charlize Theron as an Atomic Blonde but had Jennifer Garner stink up the joint with Peppermint. This Catherine Hardwicke film is looking to break that mould with Gina Rodriguez. Based on a Spanish language film, the story has her character going from kidnap victim to vengeance seeker for the death of her best friend. The fact that Hardwicke is the eye behind this feature, her first action film, has me very interested.
Wonders Of The Sea – An immersive documentary narrated by Arnold Schwarzenegger, this film takes you deep under the sea in glorious 3D, exploring from Fiji to the Bahamas with the Cousteau family. This feels like one of those movies that gets played at the Vancouver Aquarium or at the Science World Omnimax but it’s great that it will get the exposure of playing in a regular theatrical run and the Disney Nature films usually do well so this one could possibly do it as well. Definitely take the world curious kids to see this one.
The Nutcracker And The Four Realms – A young girl is transported into a magical world of gingerbread soldiers and an army of mice. This is as close to the actual story of the Nutcracker that I know extends as this movie is more focused on telling it’s own weird and pretty emotionless tale which is sad because it comes from two really great directors, Lasse Halstrom and Joe Johnston. The cast is a bit wasted in this film as well and when you can’t capitalize with Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren and Richard E. Grant there are some problems.
Boy Erased – The son of a Baptist preacher, played by Lucas Hedges and Russell Crowe respectively, is forced to participate in a church-supported gay conversion program after being forcibly outed to his parents. Joel Edgerton directs and stars in this film which is painfully relevant especially given who the current Vice President is. Only two films into his directorial career and Edgerton is sitting on the cusp of A-list filmmaking. I’m really looking forward to what he has next.
Hunter Killer – An untested American submarine captain teams with U.S. Navy Seals to rescue the Russian president, who has been kidnapped by a rogue general. Gerard Butler apparently shows a little restraint in his usual action star stature in a rare submarine thriller opposite Gary Oldman, an Academy Award winner. Something about this movie screams direct to video and I can’t shake it, possibly because the submarine action film is a rarely tested sub-genre. This has been mentioned as a guilty pleasure by more than a few film fans I’ve seen so this film may be one of those sleeper hits.
The Wife – A wife questions her life choices as she travels to Stockholm with her husband, where he is slated to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature. Glenn Close stars in the titular role and delivers an Oscar-caliber performance, one that has already gotten her a Golden Globe and a tie for the Critic’s Choice award. I had hoped to see her name on some top ten lists when this came out and my wish has been granted as this film may be a career highlight. I highly recommend that everyone checks this one out.
Slice – A horror film and future cult classic that didn’t get the wide release treatment, this is a movie I have been dying to check out, no pun intended. The movie is about the urban legends that for around the news report that a pizza delivery driver had been murdered. This movie comes from Chance The Rapper collaborator Austin Vesely and stars Zazie Beetz who has been on a hot streak after Deadpool 2 and the hit series Atlanta. Even if this movie is totally terrible, I’m in it to see Chance turn into a werewolf. Yes, that happens.
Kidding: Season 1 -This show is absolutely amazing and definitely my favorite series in the last year. Jim Carrey stars as Mr. Pickles, a Mr. Rogers like character in every way. Has loveable puppets, beautiful and catchy songs and a way to really speak to children. Jeff, the man who portrays Mr. Pickles, is the main face of a multimillion-dollar brand, a father grieving the tragic death of his son and a husband dealing with the separation from his wife. The reunion with Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind filmmaker Michel Gondry is brilliant on all levels as this series hits emotionally with humor and that incredible artistic flair we love from this acclaimed auteur. This is must-see television.
The Game: Complete Series – To be completely honest on this one, I thought it was a different series but that’s the great thing about reviewing television is I get the chance to go outside my wheelhouse to watch something in its entirety that I wouldn’t have when it aired. This show was on BET for ten seasons, a spin-off of the show Girlfriends, and has bits of nostalgia throughout its cast like Sister Sister’s Tia Mowry, Coby Bell of Third Watch, Sweet Valley High’s Brittany Daniel and Brandy, you know, Moesha. Yes, like I said, outside my wheelhouse.
Sarah T.: Portrait Of A Teenage Alcoholic – A television movie from the mid-seventies, this is a cautionary tale for that generations youth and a film that gets funnier and funnier in retrospect. Starring Linda Blair, two years after The Exorcist, and featuring Mark Hamill, two years before Star Wars, this was one of Lethal Weapon and Superman director Richard Donner who couldn’t even remember the title when asked about it years later. This movie is a prime example of why I adore Shout Factory because they love plucking these little films from complete obscurity and giving them a Blu-ray spotlight. These are truly treasured collectors edition.
Jonathan – Ansel Elgort is an actor who’s profile should have been on the rise when Edgar Wright’s perfect action film Baby Driver came out. He was a finalist for the role of Han Solo in the prequel among other prominent roles recently and is at the top of many casting director’s lists but until the wide audience develops that appreciation for him that will catapult him to the A-list, I’m glad he’s making movies like this. A little dark drama-sci-fi, he plays a man living a solitary life in an apartment who appears to share his body with another version of himself, one who comes awake in the nighttime hours. When his nocturnal self begins to date a woman, the existence of the other is thrown into chaos with their true nature on the cusp of being exposed. This movie takes a bit to settle in but midway through the second act, it all becomes too intriguing to ignore. Check this one out f your into an odd tilted but pretty original thriller.
Steve’s Blu-ray Geekout:
8MM – Let’s continue my love of Nicolas Cage again this week, shall we? Now, I know Joel Schumacher is the greatest theatrical comic book villain that has ever lived but there are many points of brilliant light to his work, 8MM being one of them. The film follows a private investigator hired to find out if a discovered snuff film is authentic, throwing him into the world of creepy BDSM, sleazy clubs and dirtbag porn filmmakers. Cage stars alongside Joaquin Phoenix and James Gandolfini before either of their big breaks and, even better, Schumacher provides commentary for the Blu-ray! Oh, happy day.
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels – An absolute comedy classic, I have very fond memories of this hilarious team-up of the hysterical Steve Martin and one of the classiest and staunchly tough British actors ever, Michael Caine. In case you’ve never had the pleasure of checking this out, the movie follows two con men who make an outrageous bet to see who can swindle a young American heiress out of her money. The film, directed by Frank Oz, is the standout role of actress Glenne Headly’s career and maybe the best think Oz has ever done, you know, aside from the Muppets, Yoda and Death At A Funeral and, oh yeah, he has commentary for this one.
The Back To The Future Trilogy – If you have not had the chance to indoctrinate your kids with this childhood formulating classic, well, isn’t Netflix providing you with a great opportunity today. Watch the full journey of Marty McFly and Doc Brown as they go to the past, the future and back to the past again for the wild west in this Steven Spielberg produced, Robert Zemeckis directed uber classic that is definitely one of the greatest trilogies ever made. Yeah, that’s right, I don’t care what you think about the third movie. Also, this is the groundwork for Donald Trump’s entire presidency in the form of Biff Tannen. Once you see that comparison it is impossible to shake.
E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial – Speaking of childhood staple movies, a lot of people have mixed feelings about this Steven Spielberg film. My wife was terrified by the cute little alien of this film as a child while I absolutely adored it. I loved Elliott and his sister Gerty, the Reese’s Pieces connection and, hell, I cried my eyes out when I thought E.T. was going to die. It’s an indelible part of my childhood and I hope to make it part of my daughter’s with the help of Netflix who are really swinging for the fences with this addition at the beginning of February.
Velvet Buzzsaw – There’s great news for those people who loved Nightcrawler with Jake Gyllenhaal because director and writer Dan Gilroy has reteamed with the actor for this brand new horror thriller. The story is fascinating, about a series of painting discovered by a money-obsessed art critic that start killing the people who purchase them and I’m not talking about ghostly killings, more like the subjects come out of the painting to kill your ass. This movie looks amazing and is getting really great reviews. I also love how gonzo Gyllenhaal looks in the movie. This could be pure brilliance.
Russian Doll: Season 1 – I might be putting a lot of hopes into this new series but I believe it has all the elements of a massive hit. Natasha Lyonne stars as a woman who is trying to escape a party thrown for her. The compounding issue is that every time she makes a break for it she dies and then is reset to the beginning of the party again in sort of a Groundhog Day scenario. I really hope I threw you for a swerve in that description because that is exactly what the trailer did for me. Created by Lyonne, Amy Poehler and the very funny Leslye Headland, this is probably your next binge but after Velvet Buzzsaw, please.
Nightflyers: Season 1 – This one looks interesting and is guaranteed to grab a big audience immediately as it is the new Netflix made George R.R. Martin sci-fi series and the trailer for it is electric. I’m pretty settled with the knowledge that the Game Of Thrones writer’s penchant for making people squirm and taking out the series favourites will take hold but the whole thing really reminds me of Event Horizon and I could definitely get behind that in episodic form. Damn, this is a pretty golden week for new stuff to steam.