Steve Stebbing

Breaking down all things pop culture

New Releases:

Long Shot – I’m definitely a sucker for a Seth Rogen movie and a lot of the times the actors or actresses he is paired with adds to the draw, other than Barbra Streisand because no one should be subjected to The Guilt Trip. For this film, he stars with Charlize Theron in a romantic comedy about a hapless dork who finds himself reunited with the first woman he had a crush on, his former babysitter who is now embarking upon a campaign to be the next president of the United States. The movie was directed by longtime Rogen collaborator Johnathan Levine and has been getting some great reviews from its premiere at South By Southwest. I’m excited for this one either way and it’s great to see that the general consensus is lining up great.

UglyDolls – I have to be honest about this one because when I first saw the trailer for this animated kids tale I couldn’t even find a thread of story to it. Now that we’ve gotten a little more information on it, the larger picture being that this is a big movie version of the popular stuffed animal line, I still have no plot beyond that. It seems to be a big vehicle for this cast that includes Kelly Clarkson, Pitbull, Blake Shelton and Gabriel Iglesias to sing vapidly catchy songs and spread the message of acceptance, that last part not being a bad thing just find a better way to deliver it. I don’t have high hopes obviously.

The Intruder – Another weirdo trailer I saw recently, this film has a couple played by Meagan Good and Michael Ealy moving into the country house of their dreams, purchased from Dennis Quaid’s character, a guy not really fully willing to give up his house. The movie gives off that stalker vibe with Quaid seemingly always hanging around in the background of shots for that easy jump scare and, really, I have no real faith in this movie being anything more than an average 90s feeling thriller, much like the Gabrielle Union film Breaking In was last year. (Not opening in Kamloops, Barrie or Oshawa)

Hail Satan? – A documentary on the rise of the Satanic Temple in America, this film is really fascinating and gave me a serious religious epiphany which, before watching, made me confused to the difference between the Temple and the Church Of Satan, something I got called out for by the Church themselves on Twitter. At first, I thought this movie was going to be a laugh and as it started outlining both the church ad temple’s history it felt like that was how it was going to be. Then they started talking about the Temple in the modern era and their beliefs and I started to nod in agreement. Then I noticed that I was constantly nodding in agreement. I have never been interested in being involved in any religion whatsoever but this film from Penny Lane has my brain doing somersaults in thought and I think I want more from my spiritual life. In a nutshell, that is why I think this movie is massively important for everyone to see. It’s time to squash the myths. (Only opening in Vancouver)

Red Joan – Let me set this one up for you. Dame Judi Dench plays a woman in her eighties who is found to be a KGB spy who gave secrets of the British government to the Russians about their research into obtaining an atomic bomb. Intriguing, right? It’s just so unfortunate that director Trevor Munn made this film such a slog to get through making the story and its relationships so painfully dull. The worst part is that Dench puts on such a great performance but it is intercut with the flashbacks to her younger self, played well by the Kingsman’s Sophie Cookson, but with an absolutely painful on the sleeve script. This true story deserved better, although I really liked the ending. (Only opening in Toronto and Vancouver)

Blu-ray:

Serenity – The trailer may look intense for this movie with Matthew McConaughey playing the captain of a fishing boat who is lured into a murder plot by his ex-wife, played by a blonde Anne Hathaway, but it is an oddball of a movie that is hard to wrap your brain around. Being the valiant knight he is and in a desperate plea to free her from an abusive husband in the form of Jason Clarke, McConaughey’s ensuing reactions delve him deep into a work where his reality begins to get a bit warped. The film is written and directed by Steven Knight, a great writer who has found success on television with Peaky Blinders and Taboo and in the movies with Eastern Promises and Dirty Pretty Things but this movie lost me about half an hour in with its absurd twists that culminate in a third act that pretty much makes the movie entirely superfluous to me. I really like that challenging of usual mystery plots but, wow, this one is a mess.

Miss Bala – It’s 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.

Dragged Across Concrete – Writer and director S. Craig Zahler really only has one thing to ask of his audience and that is to have patience, everything will happen in its due time. This was true of the western horror Bone Tomahawk, his brutal drama Brawl In Cell Block 99 and this new violent tension filled foray into the criminal underworld. Mel Gibson and Vince Vaughn play two veteran cops forced into unpaid administrative leave when the media exposes their rough tactics of arresting suspects causing them to look into more illegal ways to provide for their families. The movie is unflinchingly gory and violent but has such a deep root in character, splintering off into, really, four interconnected stories, one with such a shocking finale that it will stick in my mind for a few weeks. This film won’t be everyone’s bag, especially with a runtime over two and a half hours, but it definitely hit me in a great way.

The Hole In The Ground – A movie just brought to my attention this week, this Irish horror story premise is fascinating, about a young boy living in the countryside who falls in a sinkhole and reappears shortly afterwards. His mother begins to suspect that what came out the other side of this fall is not her son anymore as he starts to exhibit some disturbing behavior. You won’t see a lot of internationally recognizable faces in this movie aside from former Game Of Thrones and Braveheart actor James Cosmos but I can not understate how great Irish horror films can be and this one will definitely be tugging on the ultimate fears that parents hold in their hearts.

Never Ending Man: Hayao Miyazaki – A quick little documentary about a man that has had such a giant reach from his animation studio in Japan, this film is about the man behind the beloved Studio Ghibli, responsible for My Neighbor Totoro, Ponyo, Spirited Away and many others. The imagination of a total dreamer is explored as we get a deeper look at the mind behind the scenes of stories that have enchanted generations of fans with future Ghibli lovers to come. If anything, this film is about the special hold animated cinema has in our hearts.

Tarantula! – This might be the ultimate film of those old giant creature features that we as a horror audience find so laughable now because we all remember those black and white shots of a giant spider wreaking havoc on cars and buildings in the 1950s. Shout Factory knows the reverence behind this classic and has put out this brand new special edition which includes film historian commentary on this genre definer from Creature From The Black Lagoon and It Came From Outer Space director Jack Arnold. This was also a time before epic runtimes as the movie is a cool hour and twenty minutes.

Steve’s Blu-ray Geek Out:

The Critters Collection – I pretty much begged my rep from Shout Factory to send me this beauty which contains all four of this silly monstrous creature series, including the Leo DiCaprio one which is part three for anyone wondering. I have had a little love/hate relationship with these movies as when I first saw it they really freaked me out but now as an adult, I have an affinity of the absurdness of the story. It also makes me laugh a lot that the inevitable space journey of these little guys is the culminating premise of the fourth film. Things of note in this collection, Stephen Herek, who made his directorial debut with the first movie followed it up with Bill And Ted’s Excellent Adventure and Riddick creator David Twohy wrote the second film.

The Forbidden Photos Of A Lady Above Suspicion – Going back to that weird and wonderful well of forgotten classics, Arrow Video sent me this one from 1970, an erotic mystery thriller about a love triangle that forms with a newlywed couple and the wife’s adventurous best friend. The plot thickens when a stranger accosts the wife, telling her that her new husband is a murderer, blackmailing her for sex to ensure his silence. This was the first film in Italian director Luciano Ercoli’s less than a decade long directorial career, one that might be his most memorable feature film. He also married one of the stars Nieves Navarro, who was then known as Susan Scott. That’s quite the name change in my opinion!

The Con Is On – A movie starring Tim Roth and Uma Thurman and I have never heard of it? Yes, that is exactly what happened when VVS sent this to me, a film that is so confused by its title that it also goes by the name The Brits Are Coming which is, let’s face it, terrible. It is pretty cool to see these former Quentin Tarantino players get in on some light con artist comedy which is exactly what the movie is. Is it good? Not really but I will watch Roth chew the scenery anytime as he brings his all to every film or television role, something I admire.

Netflix:

All In My Family – A new short documentary that gets its time to shine on a huge platform, this is the story of Hao Wu, a gay Chinese man who hopes to be accepted by his traditional Chinese family against all the history that says it will never happen. Does love triumph in their culture or is he destined to drift further and further apart from the parent who raised him and what happens when a grandchild is introduced? I love deep and intrusive documentaries and this looks fascinating.

Dead To Me: Season 1 – A brand new dark comedy series starring Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini, this series looks phenomenal. It’s about a grieving wife who finds a reluctant connection with a fellow support group member that turns into a deeper friendship. As the two get to know each other, it becomes more and more evident that this new friend might be a lot more trouble than her sweet and spiritual exterior would let on. The show comes from writer Liz Feldman who had the really short-lived comedy One Big Happy with Eliza Cuthbert but this show looks like the defining mark for her.

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil And Vile – Months after the Ted Bundy documentary Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes hit Netflix and became a huge hit for the streaming service, the same director’s feature film of Bundy starring Zac Efron played Sundance and got picked up as well. The film focuses on the time he spent with a single mother just as the manhunt for him was hitting a critical point in the 1970s and I have to say that I have some really high hopes for this movie just based on director Joe Berlinger’s work and the constant improvement of Efron as a lead star. The High School Musical days are so far in his rearview mirror it is ridiculous.

Flinch: Season 1 – Netflix is hitting us with some peak reality competition show so if you were looking for the perfect blend of Fear Factor, Hellevator, Saw and the elementary school game of “no flinching”, well, look no further. The premise is super simple, contestants are faced with uncomfortable or terrifying situations and, if they flinch or react, they are met with some painful consequences. I’m usually not into this sort of television programming on regular networks but I’m sure I will binge my way through it as I did with Ultimate Beastmaster. It’s just too interesting to pass up.

Jo Pil-ho: The Dawning Rage – So there’s a brand new and violent South Korean thriller about a dirty cop shaking down everyone in an act of redemption and you think I’m not going to start raving about it? Of course I’m going to demand people watch this and the fact that it comes from the same writer and director as The Man From Nowhere just sweetens the deal all that much more. Seriously, through this blog, I may make a lot of you Korean film fans eventually.

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