Steve Stebbing

Breaking down all things pop culture

New Releases:

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral – Tyler Perry is moving onto the next phase of his life and in order for him to do that he needs to put a merciful end to him dressing up as an old woman like he was basketball star Larry Johnson playing Grandmama in the nineties, so, naturally you’d have a funeral. You know it’s a really slow week when this film is your big release but here we are. I don’t really expect any sort of deviation from your regular Madea film, I’m just glad we aren’t lampooning horror anymore and that Perry can put his oldest character, as well as the other three he plays in this series, to bed. (Only opening in Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver)

Greta – This looks amazing! Chole Grace Moretz stars as a woman who finds a purse and ID card on the subway and returns it to the owner Greta, played by a favorite of mine Isabelle Huppert. From what I can glean from the trailer, Greta is a lonely woman who uses the ploy of returning these lost belongings as a lure from young women into an obsessive trap and I am definitely here for it. Directed by Neil Jordan as well as co-written, the notion that this comes from the mind behind The Crying Game just makes it all that much more intriguing. (Not playing in Hamilton, Kamloops or Barrie)

Climax – If the name of director Gaspar Noe is familiar to you then you know how prepared you have to be for one of his movies. Whether it’s the first few minutes of Irreversible, that insanely long assault scene in the middle or the last few minutes of Enter The Void, it’s fair to say I’ve been shocked and pushed to the limits by this acclaimed director before and his new film does just that while, at the same time, being one of his more restrained movies. Don’t take that as him going easy on you because he doesn’t. This movie is about a dance group rehearsing in a snowy building when they come to the slow realization that their sangria has been spiked with LSD. As the drug takes hold they descend into a madness that strips away all of their humanity in this hypnotic and dread filled journey all to an incredible soundtrack of beats. Highly recommended but know what you’re getting in to. (Only opening in Vancouver)

Apollo 11 – It feels like a long time coming for a story like this to be told on the biggest possible movie screen, the IMAX. A story fifty years in the making, we get the full-scale story of the Apollo 11 mission with archive accounts from Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin plus it will feature never before seen footage. For an immersive space history experience, this film definitely the ticket. (Only opening in Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver)

Ruben Brandt, Collector – If you take a mix of beautiful hand-drawn art and computer created animation and throw it into a vat of a heist film and a suspense thriller you might have the beginnings to understand exactly what this film sets out to be. Smart and ambitious, the story follows art collector Ruben Brant, a man who by profession is a famous psychotherapist only driven to pursue these art pieces to satiate and stop the continuing nightmares he has about each piece of art attacking him. Odd story, right? This is what makes the film and it’s endgame so intriguing though and the approach to each famous painting is enthralling with the embrace of the visual attitudes that make them iconic. Not everyone is going to get this one but those who do will love it. (Only opening in Vancouver)

Goalie – With the subject matter of hockey you already have my attention with that part of my Canadian roots being as well represented as it is. I love hockey and hockey movies are very cool, especially real-life hockey stories like The Rocket and Miracle. This is why I was looking forward to this film, the story of legendary goaltender Terry Sawchuk, a talent that showed his extreme toughness in the time when goalies didn’t wear face protection. Unfortunately, this movie plays with all the emotion of a Heritage Minute, giving way to the usual cliche of Canadian filmmaking. The most disappointing aspect of the film is the wasting of Kevin Pollok’s talents as coach Jack Adams and lead star Mark O’Brien has so much potential and did great work in Halt And Catch Fire and last year’s The Front Runner. (Only opening in Toronto and Vancouver)

Blu-Ray:

Ralph Breaks The Internet – Six years after the events of “Wreck-It Ralph”, Ralph and Vanellope, now friends, discover a wi-fi router has in their arcade, which comes in handy when Venellope’s machine gets broken and the two must search for the replacement piece in the vastness of the internet. I really adored the first film so I was really excited to see what the continuation of these characters’ stories would be but after a pretty shaky start, it only manages to be passable, not generating enough of a great story to warrant a second film. I will say there is some great stuff with the Disney princesses that may be worth seeing the movie for based off of that.

Mary Queen Of Scots – Saorise Ronan and Margot Robbie are the draw to this historical epic and probably were supposed to be vying for awards last week in this film about the warring cousins Mary Stuart and Elizabeth I. Coming from first time director Josie Rourke, this movie did see Oscar nominations in make-up, art direction and costume design, three categories it, unfortunately, lost in. Unfortunately even with all the great acting from Ronan, Robbie and supporting actors Jack Lowden and the stalwart Guy Pearce, this movie felt a bit muddled in the storyline delivery with some questionable choices in its execution. Those who enjoyed the Cate Blanchet Elizabeth films will probably gravitate towards this but I think it comes up short in comparison.

The Possession Of Hannah Grace – This little exorcism horror film that premiered at the beginning of December came and went like most of these genre films from Sony. Yes, I’m looking at you too, Escape Room. The story is interesting though, with the corpse of a girl being brought into the morgue after an apparent exorcism. Later that night the evil inside her reanimates the body, terrorizing the main character, a morgue attendant. This is definitely not going to be everyone’s cup of tea but as a horror fan, the trailer had me hook line and sinker. The only thing I would say this movie could do to lose my interest is to rely on jump scares but with enough atmosphere, which is one thing I think it has going for it, you can get past it.

Border – This Swedish thriller is both wholly disturbing and totally engrossing at the same time. It follows a woman born with a condition that makes her look almost like a caveperson but gives her the ability to sniff out fear on people, a skill that makes her customs job a very easy one. When she comes face to face with a man the same as her she is thrown into a fast education of what she really is. Coming from the mind that created Let The Right One in, remade as Let Me In, this movie is dark in its nature but is mainly a story about self-discovery and realization. That said, this one is going to be a really tough sell for a casual viewer.

Rampant – In sort of a genre mash-up, zombies have found their way to martial arts films in this new South Korean film set at the end of the Joseon era. Following a prince returning home after ten years away, his homecoming is disrupted by an ancient evil that reanimates the dead into bloodthirsty creatures with superhuman strength. I have a usual proclivity to love any film from this country but this one felt so confused and disjointed in the plot. It’s hard to know what the stakes are for each character until its right in front of your face and the amount of undead and their abilities are very flexible it seems and how fast the infection spreads. I know these movies are supposed to be taken too seriously but there need to be a few ground rules.

The Little Mermaid – Everyone that is within a decade or so of my age knows the look of a movie shelf full of the white clamshell VHS tapes of Disney’s iconic library of movies. If you know this then you also know that these classics are always released from “the Vault” and we always clamoured o get them before they went back in for another five to ten years. Well, this childhood staple the everyone knows and can sing along to gets the anniversary edition this time around as the film also celebrates the thirtieth year since it’s theatrical release.

The Mole People – Shout Factory digs into the horror world of 1956 when a party of archeologists uncover a five-thousand-year-old society of mutants living under a massive glacier at the top of a Mesopotamian mountain. Obviously, this movie will only appeal to a certain niche of movie watchers but getting a look at these brand new digital transfers, for me, is fascinating. Digging deeper into that movie nerd stuff, this Blu-Ray will present the film in two separate aspect ratios, 1:85-1 and 2:00-1.

Steve’s Blu-Ray Geek Out:

Obsession – It feels like the gods of cinema have been shining down on me recently, especially when it comes to my little focused movie obsessions, which is fitting with this movie given its title and the director behind it. Piggybacking on the retrospective documentary of Brian De Palma’s career, this is a film featured that I had never gotten the chance to check out. Starring Cliff Robertson, it’s about a rich businessman who discovers a woman that looks like his dead wife and pursues her with reckless abandon. Being the king of thrillers and coming out during that absolute sweet spot in his filmography, this is a satisfying watch dripping with style in a beautiful Shout Factory collector’s edition.

The Plague Of The Zombies – A real golden oldie makes the list of Shout Factory releases, made back in 1966, this was actually shown as a double feature when it came out with another of Shout’s releases, Dracula: Prince Of Darkness. Made in a time where the zombie genre was burgeoning just before George Romero would catapult it into stardom with Night Of The Living Dead, this one has the added effect of being a period piece set in 1860 in a village infected with the living dead. Is it disease? Is it voodoo? Who knows. This one is actually considered one of Hammer Films best.

The Serpent’s Egg – Coming from acclaimed master director Ingmar Bergman, this is his only Hollywood film in his entire catalogue of films. Starring David Carradine and his staple actress Liv Ullmann, this is a twisted mystery thriller about a man disappearing into the madness of despair, depression and alcoholism as he tries to find the truth behind the suicide of his brother and the deaths of close friends afterwards. Bergman explores weird thems in his iconic surreal style including anti-semitism during the period between World Wars I and II in a rebuilding Berlin. The Arrow Academy special edition has archival footage and a featurette on the historical appreciation of the film.

Bloody Birthday – For those on the fence of whether to have kids or not, this campy movie from 1980 should push them right off that ledge. Diving into the creepy kid side of movies this slasher film follows three kids born under an evil moon who, on their tenth birthday has an insatiable need to draw blood by killing everyone they can, family members included. The trailer for this is so hilariously bad that it is entirely intriguing and now you can pick up this Arrow Academy special edition of the movie to Riff Track with your friends at home. The Blu-Ray has archival footage, retrospective featurettes and a kill count which is so cool.

Netflix:

A Monster Calls – The last amazing thing that filmmaker J.A. Bayona did before the disappointing Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, this movie is visually stunning as well as moving and filled with a beautiful message. The film follows a boy who is championed by his dying mother but it hopelessly bullied at school, so much so that in his despair he ends up enlisting the help of a monster who lives in the old tree outside of his window. One of the best-reviewed movies that year, I’m really excited to see this movie get more exposure on Netflix as it is a very special movie.

Budapest – This is going to be one of those oddball foreign films I know I’m going to love. The film is an insane romp story about two friends who decide to quit their corporate jobs out of the blue and start a bachelor party planning gig in Budapest. This sounds like a screwball comedy that could have fallen out of the 80s with that description but this one is directed by French filmmaker Xavier Gens, a stylish creator usually known for horror with his movies Frontier(s) and The Divide. This could be quirky enough to gather some clout.

Eighth Grade – An introverted teenage girl tries to survive the last week of her disastrous eighth-grade year before leaving to start high school. A film that got rave reviews, awards and accolades for young lead actress Elsie Fisher, it’s also interesting to note that this is the debut for writer/director Bo Burnham who, before this was known for his YouTube channel, stand up comedy and the limited roles he had in TV and movies. It was announced that the film will be shown in 100 schools across America which is such a special honor for a movie like this and I’m so happy to see it get recognition. Netflix is also another fantastic way for this to get the attention it deserves.

La La Land – It’s about time this best picture winner… scratch that… best picture runner up arrived on Netflix. A lot of people seem to have a hate on for this movie but I still really adore it and I’m a guy that hates musicals to a large degree. Damien Chazelle crafts a wonderful little fable about two dreamers in the form of very beautiful people, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, living in L.A. and looking to make their respective marks. The film is vibrant and colorful and the original music from Justin Hurwitz is catchy and I found myself humming it immediately after watching it for about two weeks.

Losers: Season 1 – Netflix has a brand new documentary series, this one taking a look within the sports world. This isn’t your regular look at perseverance, championships and accolades. No, this is about losing the game whether by a small margin, blown out, embarrassingly, spectacularly, however you are handed defeat, this is a series about that. Beyond that, this show is about how we handle defeat and failure in society. A fascinating look at something a lot of hockey parents should get their eyes on.

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