Steve Stebbing

Breaking down all things pop culture

New Releases:

Pokemon Detective Pikachu – To be completely honest, Pokemon was really more popular with the generation after me but I still have enough of a knowledge of the massive video and card game franchise to totally nerd out when I saw the trailer for this and especially the Mewtwo reveal in the final preview. Now I feel like I lost a lot of you so I’ll bring you all back with Ryan Reynolds providing the voice for the titular detective as the main human of the film, played by Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’s Justice Smith, who is the only person who can actually understand him. Advance reviews on it are solid, some calling it the best video game movie made.

The Hustle – Just looking at the title of this new comedy film you wouldn’t know that it’s a remake with a gender twist but once you get about thirty seconds in you realize “Hey, this is Dirty Rotten Scoundrels!” How did a reimagining of one of my favorite comedies of all time float by me? I don’t know but, as much as I’m not the biggest fan of Anne Hathaway, I’m kind of still her for her pairing with Rebel Wilson in a story of one high-level con artist mentoring a fledgling one and hoping these two can equal the calibre of work Michael Caine and Steve Martin put into it.

Poms – When I initially saw the premise for this new comedy my eyes rolled so hard that I was in danger of losing them from my skull, never to return to my ocular cavities again. Diane Keaton, Jackie Weaver, Pam Grier and more star in this hoping to be an inspirational film about a bunch of retirees who decide to form a cheerleading troupe in their retirement community. There might be a slight chance that this movie has a bit of charm to it, directed at a certain age demographic, but I have yet to find a Diane Keaton film in the last decade that was really worth the time and I highly doubt that this is the film to break that mould. It just looks awful. (Not opening in Hamilton.)

Tolkein – Almost two decades after the Lord Of The Rings became a massive theatrical franchise from Peter Jackson, we get the biopic of the man who’s mind that Middle Earth came from, J.R.R. Tolkien, played in the film by Nicholas Hoult. Not looking into the years where he was exploring the battle for the one ring, this movie focuses on his formative and college years, looking into him finding love and his friendship with an outcast group of art students who would eventually inspire him. The film may be a bit of a dry slog for those uninvested in the story of this popular writer but fans of his will surely eat it up. (Not opening in Hamilton, Kamloops or Oshawa.)

The White Crow – I had no idea of this film’s existence when it was thrown on my doorstep but when I saw Ralph Fiennes name attached to it as director, as well as a small supporting role, I was interested. This marks his third time behind the camera, this film like his last is a biopic, the story focusing on an idealist dancer from the Soviet Union who longs to be an international star. To do this he must turn his back on Kruschev and his country and defect to follow his bright dreams. It all sounds good in theory but the story feels slow and plodding at an over two hour run time and unfortunately, the lead character Rudolf Nureyev is not likeable even in the slightest. Abrasive, arrogant and divisive, this may lend to how well first time actor Oleg Ivenko plays him but the movie just wasn’t for me. (Only opening in Toronto and Vancouver.)

Blu-ray:

What Men Want – This is a movie that should have never been made. When the Mel Gibson film What Women Want was released late night talk show hosts and comedians made the joke that they should make this movie and it would be five minutes long. Now almost twenty years later we get the real punchline as the studio has pushed through this abomination starring Taraji P. Henson that has a trailer that is one of the most repulsive things I’ve set eyes on this year. I have zero hopes for this movie and it shouldn’t exist at all. I’m adamant on that.

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part – How do you recapture the lightning in a bottle that was the first Lego Movie? I’ve been a fan of the Batman and Ninjago movies that followed but none have been quite as good. The good news is this movie is still really good and while it definitely is not to the calibre of the movie that got this huge ball rolling it will satisfy your craving for all that Lego goodness and the voice cast is too good to pass up with Tiffany Haddish and Stephanie Beatriz joining Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks and Will Arnett. The morals are all there as are the laughs and instead of Lonely Island providing the music, this time we get the hilarious work of Canadian Jon Lajoie providing the soundtrack.

The Prodigy – Are we about done with creepy kid movies especially after it has been done so much better in the past? Hereditary, I’m definitely looking at you. This movie has Orange Is The New Black’s Taylor Schilling as a mother who is increasingly frightened and disturbed by her son’s increasingly erratic behaviour, suspecting that it is a supernatural possession. This seems to be the wheelhouse of director Nicholas McCarthy but what’s interesting is the film was written by Midnight Meat Train scribe Jeff Buhler who did the Pet Sematary remake last month My hopes for this one are low though.

Arctic – An absolutely harrowing survival drama, this entire film rests on star Mads Mikkelsen’s shoulders as he is pretty much the only actor in it. He plays a man that crashed his airplane in the middle of the frozen arctic. Stranded for weeks, he musters up the courage to try and make his way across the brutal landscape for rescue. The tension of this movie as he moves from one life-threatening situation to the next keeps you wound up from the start with great direction and beautiful cinematography. This is one of those atmospheric adventure films that will play great on a high definition screen with surround sound.

Blaze – Ethan Hawke steps behind the camera for his second feature, a music biopic about a folk-country singer named Blaze Foley, a talent snuffed out before he could make his legacy mark. Hawke presents this story in three ways that co-mingle; the story of his burgeoning love story with the love of his life, his drunken and volatile meandering after the dissolution of that relationship and his bandmates telling the story of their fallen friend, years after his popularity had faded from recent memory. The music feels real and authentic with musician Ben Dickey taking on the role of Foley but his inexperience is really felt in the more dramatic scenes. This is probably the weakest part of the film.

Everybody Knows – Real life couple Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz star in this brand new film from acclaimed director Asghar Farhadi, his much anticipated follow up to the Oscar-winning film The Salesman. The film follows Cruz as the mother of two from Buenos Aires who heads back to her small hometown outside of Madrid for the wedding of her sister. Through a series of unfortunate events, all of her past secrets and motivations for leaving are thrust into the public light. For those who don’t know, Farhadi is a director of serious momentum, making masterpiece after masterpiece, and it seems like this is his first stumble as the word is that no matter how good acting and directing holds in this film, it just doesn’t add up to a satisfying experience.

Steve’s Blu-ray Geekout:

Starman – Another one of the older releases that I begged out of my rep at Shout Factory, this is another golden entry into director John Carpenter’s career but a decidedly different one as it is the only drama he’s ever made. Starring Jeff Bridges in an absolutely iconic role opposite Karen Allen, the film is about an alien visitor who takes the form of a young woman’s deceased husband, asking her to drive him across the county, evading a shadowy government agency the entire time. This is a really special movie as it was a rare instance in which a sci-fi film got an Academy Award nomination for best actor, a role that Bridges studied the movement of birds for to get Starman’s quirks correct.

The Possessed – Arrow keeps the forgotten hits coming with this mystery from 1965 about a stranger who arrives in a small Italian village looking for a woman from his past. He is told be the people of the town that the woman he seeks had years ago committed suicide but late one night he sees someone who looks strikingly like her strolling around the nearby lake. The movie was made by two directors, Luigi Bazzoni who made a previous pick of mine, The Fifth Cord, and Franco Rossellini who would go on to be a producer on films like Gore Vidal’s Caligula, this is a story that feels pretty ripe for remaking.

Dark River – Part of a small package of movies I received from FilmRise, the biggest selling feature to me was that this mystery thriller is led by Luther and The Affair star Ruth Wilson, one of my favorite British actresses. She plays a woman who comes home after a fifteen-year absence to attend the funeral of her father. Her ulterior motive in this reunion with her hometown is to also lay claim to her family farm, which sparks a battle with her estranged brother Joe. Aside from Wilson, the cast will really draw you into this, featuring the great Sean Bean, Game Of Thrones actor Joe Dempsie and Esme Creed-Miles who is currently kicking so much ass as the titular character in the Amazon Prime series Hanna. It’s also a good thing that the movie, however bleak and depressing, is actually really good.

Life In The Doghouse – Part of my double shot this week from FilmRise, this is a definite documentary for the whole family, delivering the cute along with the great morals and inspiration. This is the story of Ron Danta and Danny Robertshaw, two guys who made their passion project of a dog rescue program into a massive success that led them to rescue and adopt over ten thousand dogs. The film also delves into the work they did in New Orleans and the surrounding Louisiana area after the devastation of Hurrican Katrina, which they were awarded the 2008 ASPCA Humanitarian Award. This is your feel-good movie this week.

Netflix:

Easy: Season 3 – I don’t know how this show passed me by for the last two seasons but I’m just catching onto it now as it releases its final season. From creator Joe Swanberg, the guy who did the great indie comedies Drinking Buddies, Happy Christmas and Digging For Fire, comes this series about a bunch of friends in Chicago hilariously navigating the sometimes awful landscape of love, sex, technology and culture. The cast for this is massive featuring Jane Adams, Zazie Beetz, Michael Chernus, Kiersey Clemons, Dave Franco, Marc Maron and Jake Johnson, I’m still kicking myself for being late to this party.

iZombie: Season 5 – Shot in Vancouver, this comic book adaptation has been a success for the CW network for a good while and since partnering up with Netflix and streaming the new episodes as they air has picked them up an even bigger audience. The show is kind of a police procedural about a med student who’s newfound zombie status is an ability that gives her the opportunity to aid in police investigations. Lead actress Rose McIver has really turned some heads with this show and I really liked her co-star Malcolm Goodwin on Breakout Kings.

Jailbirds: Season 1 – With the successes of prison television series like Oz, Orange Is The New Black and Wentworth it was really just a matter of time before the reality behind these stories made the leap to television by cutting out the middle man for a total reality series and honestly Netflix is really the only one that could do it well and without tether. The show was shot in Sacramento County Jail and features both the men and women’s side of the penitentiary with more of a focus on the ladies. I recommend taking a look at the trailer as it is very interesting.

ReMastered: The Lion’s Share – Episode eight of this fascinating docuseries debuts today and this time takes a look at the circumstances around the iconic and classic song “The Lions Sleep Tonight” written by a black South African named Solomon Linda, whose family currently lives in poverty in the slums of Sweto. After his death and with the help of a South African journalist, the family pursues the rights to the song, taking on one of the biggest heavyweights Disney to just get back a semblance of their legacy.

Shéhérazade – A new French film, which is a weakness of mine, this drama is a character piece about a seventeen-year-old freshly out jail and forced to hit the streets of Marseille after being rejected by his mother. The few reviews I can find on this movie rave about the realism of this film as well as its style and emotional depth. This might be an international cinema dark horse right here.

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