Steve Stebbing

Breaking down all things pop culture

New Releases:

Avengers: Endgame – It’s finally here! After over ten years of movies and one of the most devastating cliffhangers in any mainstream movie ever we will now see the fates of the Earth’s mightiest heroes. This seems to largely be the end of the line for a large part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as both Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. have stated that this is their final times in these bigger than life roles. Endgame will also provide a first as there is reportedly no end credits stinger as, again, we have seemed to reach the end of this epic inclusive story. and, yes, Spider-Man: Far From Home and Guardians Of The Galaxy Volume 3 are still coming but they are set in the time known as “pre-snap”. I have many thoughts and speculations to what could happen but I don’t want anything I say to be construed as a spoiler so…

Diane – Making the leap from documentary filmmaking to narrative films, Kent Jones has made a very unique duo of movies. Last year I fell deeply in love with his film documentary Hitchcock/Truffaut but now he as devastated me with this depressingly real but exquisitely acted piece led with relatable fire from Mary Kay Place. The story follows the titular characters as she spends her days working at a homeless shelter, visiting her cousin with terminal cancer and trying to save her drug-addicted son. The movie feels so driven by the real mundane pieces of life and the looming shadow of mortality as death comes and claims close friends and family members as she is left behind to quietly pick up the pieces every time. This film is a showcase of Place’s incredible skill as well as allowing beautiful dramatic moments for Andrea Martin, Estelle Parsons, Diedre O’Connell and Phyllis Somerville. This is an incredible movie. (Only opening in Toronto and Vancouver)

Body At Brighton Rock – Being touted as one of the next best filmmakers in horror, Roxanne Benjamin is ready to blow everyone’s mind with her first solo feature and I’m ready for it because I adored her piece of the anthology film Southbound. This film follows a park ranger who stumbles across a brutal crime scene in the middle of the forest and, in order to preserve it until investigators show up, she must stay overnight with whoever or whatever may have caused it. The trailer is all sorts of brilliance and this movie could catapult Benjamin’s name into the mind of horror lovers as she really deserves to be. This one might make my favorites of the year. (Only opening in Toronto and Vancouver)

Hagazussa: A Heathen’s Curse – A few years ago first time director Robert Eggers wrote and directed a film called The Witch, a gothic slow burn horror film that left your jaw on the floor at the end and I’ve been looking for something like that ever since. The good news is this Austrian movie comes close in so many ways but also frustrates at the same time. The film basically follows the lineage of two women who are essentially cursed. As a child, our main character watches her mother be haunted by an unknown voice and descend into madness until she is later found dead outside in writhing snakes. Now an adult, she lives a shunned life in the same community but holds a reverence to what transpired in her past, determined not to repeat it. Well, we know she will because otherwise there is no movie but the approach to the storytelling in this film seems so disjointed that it may be hard for anyone to get into this movie. I will say it is absolutely gorgeous throughout, even when it is totally disgusting. (Only opening in Toronto and Vancouver)

Blu-Ray:

Escape Room – The next film from horror director Adam Robitel, who made The Taking of Deborah Logan, a really great possession movie, comes this Saw mystery style horror film based on the very popular fad that has been going on for years. The cast looks good, including Daredevil’s Deborah Ann Woll and Tyler Labine but there has been a precedence set where the first studio release of the year, which this was, usually is a horror film, which it is, and it is usually absolutely terrible. I want to believe this could be a cool flick based directly on my need to watch some cool horror but I could be duped again by the “January curse”.

Destroyer – Nicole Kidman is an actress that people either like or do not it seems but there is no doubt that the Oscar winner has resided for a long time on Hollywood’s A-list and given anyone’s feelings on her, every one of these actors has those movies in their career that is a defining role. This is one of Kidman’s. Playing a character who is extremely unlikeable, she stars as a worn down and jaded police detective who is dragged back into a past undercover case that shaped the ruining of her personal life. This movie is a slow burn of dark reveal from director Karyn Kusama, Kidman in the grim driver’s seat as the past is revealed, painting the picture of the hardened and haggard face she displays throughout.

Tito And The Birds – A short hop, skip and a jump of an animated film at only an hour and fifteen minutes, this Brazillian film tells the story of a boy determined to cure people of the disease of “fright”. The animation may be a bit crude in this but what shines through is the abundance of heart in exudes. Using a style that looks like pencil strokes on an oil painting canvas, I was constantly struck by how original the film looked but I doubt that the same will be felt by a more mainstream audience. I firmly believe that if you enjoy the story aspects of something like Coco and Kubo And The Two Strings than you have room in your mind for Tito’s story.

Scared Stiff – Another weird release from Arrow Video, this one coming from the odd horror vault of 1987. The movie is about a singer who is haunted by strange visions after she and her psychiatrist boyfriend move into an old house with connections to the slave era. The original script was written by Twin Peaks co-creator Mark Frost but aside from David Ramsey who plays Diggle in the TV series Arrow, there are no other notable actors in the film. This movie is also so far off the beaten path that Wikipedia doesn’t even acknowledge it. Instead, it’s a Hong Kong comedy starring Chow Yun Fat. What have they sent me?

Steve’s Blu-Ray Geek Out:

Kalifornia – A classic mystery thriller starring David Duchovny, Michelle Forbes, Juliette Lewis and a young, dreamy but entirely murderous Brad Pitt, this is a classic p90s film that I’ve watched many times. Now the collector’s edition is available from Shout Factory just after it’s twenty-fifth anniversary. The movie is about a journalist couple who enlist the help of a guy who may be a serial killer to go on a tour of historical crime scenes of famous serial killers and oh the irony. The feature debut of Gone In 60 Seconds director Dominic Sena, this is a great movie that stands the test of time.

Someone To Watch Over Me – I really love the catalogue that Shout Factory picks up because they love to grab these cheesy little thrillers that I haven’t heard of before yet they star people I am very familiar with. This one, starring Tom Berenger and Mimi Rogers, is about a family man New York cop who falls for the socialite he’s employed to protect and, get this, the movie was made by an absolute legend, Ridley Scott. Seriously? Why did we not know about this? Probably because it was a horrible flop and I doubt even he has any interest in digging it up although the geek in me has to point out that it uses a Vangelis track that was used in Blade Runner.

Strip Nude For Your Killer – Hitting up the Giallo genre again, this new edition from Arrow Video delves into some still controversial subject matter as it centers on a woman that dies in an abortion clinic which inspires a murderer to go on a lengthy killing spree starting with her doctor. The focus of the film includes elements that pushed boundaries in the year it was made, 1975, but it wasn’t something that writer and director Andrea Bianchi ever steered away from as all of his films featured an air of pushing the envelope. I really am loving the dig into this genre, one which I had always just passed off as the “leather gloved killer” movies but I am now discovering the depth to them.

Netflix:

The Protector: Season 2 – I’m throwing the focus on a mystery action series with slight fantasy undertones out of Turkey to start this week because I’ve read some good things about the first season. The show is about a young man who is granted mystical powers by an ancient talisman found in Istanbul. With that surge of power, he must use it to keep his people safe, push back that dark forces and delve into the deep secrets of his lineage to forge his future. More international television, I know, but there is a lot of good stuff to discover there.

Remastered: Devil At The Crossroads – It’s time for the monthly episode of Remastered, this time it follows one of those crazy urban legends we’ve always heard about, hell, there was even a movie made about it and the Coen Brothers even riffed on it themselves in O Brother Where Art Thou? Did legendary blues guitarist Robert Johnson really sell his soul to the devil to get his incredible skill? Something I love about this documentary series is that they will always play headlong into the conspiracy to give it that much more weight and cast your own preconceived notions into doubt. I’ve been waiting for this episode to hit for a while and now it is here. I’m excited.

She-Ra And The Princesses Of Power: Season 2 – Coming from the creators and writers of some of my favorite recent comics, I’m so happy to see that this reboot of an animated classic is not only grabbing the fans of the original series as well as new fans and is forging a path all on its own. Moving into the second season and after the rollercoaster of a plot that was season one, the continuing story is a shorter run of only seven episodes and is less plot-driven and steers more to be singular tales told in full by the end of an episode. Personally, I hope that a third season will be more of a continuing saga as I’m kind of a stickler in that sense.

Street Food: Season 1 – I usually find myself digging into the Food Network programming when I’m all out of pertinent films to watch or need a break from pro wrestling so when a new food-centric binge series appears on Netflix like this one I have to indulge. The focus is simple in this, a global travel show that is focused on the best eats you can get from the streets and the people who make it. I’m a sucker for a world traveller, having come from the television school of Anthony Bourdain, and, although I’m unfamiliar with the host or producers of this one, I need something to fill the void. I’m hungry just thinking about it.

I Think You Should Leave With Tim Robinson: Season 1 – Produced by Lonely Island, we get a brand new sketch comedy series on Netflix and it’s from one of my favorite collaborators currently. For those who don’t recognize Robinson’s name, just know that he is a main writer for Saturday Night Live and is the co-lead alongside Sam Richardson in the hysterically funny series Detroiters. What can you expect from this new show? How about a show where the main goal is for them to get their guest to want nothing more than to leave? That’s the basic premise and they have guests like Vanessa Bayer, Will Forte and Steven Yuen to help out.

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