Steve Stebbing

Breaking down all things pop culture

New Releases:

Men In Black: International – Seven years after the attempt to bring this franchise back with the lacklustre Men In Black 3 we are going for the reboot treatment with really no returning cast members except for Emma Thompson who only appeared in the last film. Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson reunite to take on intergalactic threats which may tie back to a mole in their own organization. I enjoy both actors a lot so I really want this film to work and rejuvenate this story but the trailers leave me with absolutely nothing aside from a hopefully funny animated side character voiced by Kumail Nanjani. I don’t really have enough faith in director F. Gary Gray to pull this off either.

Shaft – Speaking of rebooting a franchise, Shaft gets the whole grandfather, dad and son treatment with Richard Roundtree and Samuel L. Jackson reprising their roles as John Shaft I and John Shaft II respectively as they mentor John Shaft Jr., played by Independence Day: Resurgence star Jesse T. Usher. The twist is that Shaft Jr. isn’t a tough guy like his dad and grandpa but a cybersecurity genius and MIT graduate who must use his skills to solve the murder of a close family friend. The film is directed by Barbershop and Fantastic Four director Tim Story and while this movie is more playing to his style I just don’t have a belief that this will be anything beyond a vaguely entertaining film. (Not opening in Kamloops)

The Dead Don’t Die – Jim Jarmusch takes his hilariously deadpan style and applies it to a genre that always needs a bit of a fresh breath, zombie horror. Bringing some of his staple stars including Bill Murray from his film Coffee And Cigarettes, Adam Driver from his last effort Patterson and, of course, Tilda Swinton, Jarmusch crafts a small-town story of a zombie outbreak where the weirdo citizens have to band together to survive. This movie is definitely not going to rope in everyone as horror fans will be possibly put off by the dialogue style and, well, all of this great filmmaker’s movies have a less than mainstream appeal. I’m excited for it. (Not opening in Kamloops or Oshawa)

Late Night – Lots of great praise and reviews are coming in for this Mindy Kaling written comedy that she stars in as well alongside the great Emma Thompson. Thompson plays Katherine Newbury, a late night talk show host who is on the cusp of losing her show due to low ratings. Kaling’s character is a writer brought in a gender equality push by Newbury in an attempt to give a fresh rejuvenation to the show and the two slowly form a bond that might be the ticket to getting ratings back. The film is being lauded for its fresh comedy approach and Mindy Kaling’s storytelling shedding light on diversity in the high entertainment levels. I really hope this movie succeeds as I think it would do great things for how we look at race, gender and popular films. (Not opening in Hamilton or Oshawa)

Echo In The Canyon – Headed by Wallflowers frontman and the son of a legendary musician Jacob Dylan, this movie explore the Los Angeles area of Laurel Canyon in the 1960s, a thriving time of exploration, collaboration and a burgeoning rock and roll style. Through interviews with David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Tom Petty, Michelle Phillips, Roger McGuinn and more, Dylan helps give as an idea of what this time looked like, what we received from it musically and some really great insight into the personal friendships of some of the greatest musicians ever. Adding to that, Dylan and friends like Beck, Cat Power, Fiona Apple and Eric Clapton get together to cover a lot of this great music both live and in the recording studio. The soundtrack is available now and is just fantastic. Go see this movie then go get the album, you won’t regret it. (Only playing in Toronto, Hamilton and Vancouver.)

Halston – This seems to be a consistent thing as every time that I screen a new fashion documentary I say that I don’t really have any sort of invested interest in it yet each time I find myself engrossed in the subject matter. It just happened pretty recently that I watched the fil McQueen, about the late Alexander McQueen, and this one draws a comparison in completely different directions. While McQueen created his art and largely kept his persona subdued, Halston lived his art, flaunted it on his friends like Liza Minnelli and made sure he was the face of his company. Unfortunately, large corporate mergers, ignorant money men and even misappropriation of his name led to constant stress that might have led to his death. An interesting biopic and human interest story. (Only playing in Toronto, Hamilton, Edmonton and Vancouver.)

Blu-Ray:

Captain Marvel – One of the middle pieces along with Ant-Man And The Wasp to tide you over since a large part of the Marvel universe got dusted at the end of Avengers: Infinity War at the hands of Thanos, now we get to see the origin story of a galactic warrior in the comfort of our own home. Battling trolls even before she battles Skrulls in the movie, people were already throwing shade at star Brie Larson but I think she was perfectly suited to play the strongest character in the MCU. I also love that this story takes place in the mid-nineties and has a de-aged Samuel L. Jackson and Clark Gregg plus the villain is played by a great villain actor, Ben Mendelsohn. While this movie is not necessarily the strongest film that we’ve gotten in the ten plus years of Marvel Studios it is certainly an entertaining one.

Five Feet Apart – It feels like I heard about this one a long while back and it’s just making its debut now. Riverdale star Dylan Sprouse and Support The Girls’ Haley Lu Richardson, a favorite of mine, lead this film about two terminally ill teens who fall in love after meeting at the hospital. Give Richarson’s involvement in the film I am immediately drawn to this but it could go down the same path we saw in Josh Green’s adaptation of the popular young adult novel The Fault In Our Stars, a film I was a bit late to find but enjoyed a lot.

Captive State – This movie looked absolutely fascinating and I have to say it was due to smart marketing with its trailers not giving a lot of exposition and doing almost what Cloverfield did with an alien invasion angle. The film takes place in Chicago ten years after it has been infiltrated and taken over by an extraterrestrial force. Now subservient to their new overlords, the film explores the human dynamics of everyday life, politics and the formation of a resistance. This definitely looks my type of movie through in through and I’m was excited about what Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes filmmaker Rupert Wyatt was bringing in this sci-fi mystery and the cast including Vera Farmiga, John Goodman Moonlight’s Ashton Sanders and If Beale Street Could Talk’s Kiki Layne was just icing on the cake. I never received this movie in theaters and finally got to check it out now and was so very disappointed. The film is a narrative mess that seems to meander constantly in its storytelling, almost to a point that I couldn’t tell who the main character was. The effects come across as either unfinished in the landscape shots and alien craft sequences and way too dark in the only instances where we get an actual look at the alien. What a waste.

The Mustang – I’ve enjoyed actor Matthias Schoenaerts work since I first saw him in Left Bank and since he did The Drop I think he’s made a stride into the North American cinema landscape and this film looks like it could further his leading man push. He plays Roman, a violent inmate who tries to find a path out of his rage through participating in an outdoor maintenance program training wild horses. Both Schoenaerts and co-star Bruce Dern are being praised for the film but it really was an unfortunate afterthought during awards season.

T-34 – A World War II tank film from Russia, this was an unexpected movie in my mailbox and good luck reading up on it if you surf onto Rotten Tomatoes because the page doesn’t exist. It’s supposed to but it’s a 404 Gateway error instead. The film follows a group of Russian POWs who are desperately escaping a German prison camp in a salvaged T-34 tank. The movie relies on the brotherhood between these characters and, although there’s no documentary confirmation of a Soviet tank’s escape from the German concentration camp, there was confirmed successful escape of Soviet imprisoned pilots leading by Michael Devyataev on German bomber in February 1945. If you dig World War II movies you will definitely feel this one.

Sinatra In Palm Springs: The Place He Called Home – More music documentaries but this one is focused on possibly the most popular crooners of all time, O’l Blue Eyes. In particular, this movie looks at his connection to Palm Springs, his home for fifty years of his life, a place that he also spent the time of his brief but rocky marriage to actress Ava Gardner. The Rancho Mirage, the name of his home, was what he called “My Heaven” and may even contain the ghost of the Rat Packer if you believe in that sort of thing.

Can’t Stop The Music – The Pride Month releases from Shout Factory continues this week with this big ensemble musical that acts as a biopic on The Village People in a way. With the disco group at the center of attention, the movie also features Bruce Jenner and Steve Guttenberg, the latter playing a disc jockey who gets a career break playing at the local club, Saddle Tramps. After writing a song about his roommate, a retired supermodel, he gathers enough clout to earn a record deal which stars his ladder to disco stardom. Unfortunately, this movie absolutely tanked at the box office and was always paired with the Olivia Newton-John film Xanadu, another critical and financial failure.

Frankenstein Created Woman – Peter Cushing playing Victor Frankenstein in a Hammer horror film. This is all a brilliant recipe to make classic theatrical monster movies but this one comes with a gender twist. This film features a freshly resurrected Dr. Victor Frankenstein who’s first dastardly plan is to transfer the essence of a murdered young man into the body of a woman which prompts an insatiable urge to kill all those around her. Legendary director Martin Scorcese actually lists this movie as one of his favorite in the horror genre and many laud it as one of the best of the Hammer catalogue with its freshness in plot and storytelling. You also win me over with Cushing in the lead. He was amazing.

Jeffrey – The second of the Pride Month movies this week, this dramedy has a pretty great cast with Steven Weber, Michael T. Weiss, Patrick Stewart and Nathan Lane. The movie, released in 1995, is about a gay man living in New York who decides to swear off sex at the height of the AIDS epidemic but immediately meets the man of his dreams afterward. Does he stay true to his commitment or pursue a relationship that could be worthy of giving everything up? Patrick Stewart, who plays the partner of someone in the terminal stage of HIV, read this script on the set of Star Trek: Generations and used the emotion from it to portray a pivotal emotional scene for it. Definitely happy to receive this important movie in the gay community.

Devil’s Kiss – A movie sent to me by Kino Lorber’s Redemption releases, this is the classic Italian “Satan’s minion’s” movie with a professor and a disgraced former countess who band together to use an occult spell to reanimate dead bodies to do their murderous bidding. The movie was made by writer and director Georges Gigo who had a very short career of only four films all revolving around the occult, demons and, well, women and brothels, kind of like a typical Italian man in the 1970s. This movie is full of camp, paint like red blood and lots of nudity, the perfect movie to riff on with a group of friends like you’re doing your own Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Steve’s Blu-Ray Geek Out:

Green Card – Remember when American cinema was pushing French legend and plane urinating champion Gerard Depardieu as an A-list star? Well, this is one of the movies that came from that time and it holds up as a sweetheart of a film with Andie MacDowell, directed by one of the great Australian directors Peter Weir. The film has Depardieu as a French man who agrees to a marriage of convenience in order to stay in the United States and, obviously because this is a rom-com, the feelings grow into a real relationship as the story progresses. Fun fact, and totally against the norm of Hollywood, Weir asked MacDowell to gain weight for the movie instead of losing it.

Grave Of The Vampire – Another seventies vampire film from the vaults of Shout Factory, this movie doesn’t really have any stars of note and the lead billed actor only has thirty minutes of screen time but it is a disturbing little b-movie entry. The movie follows the legendary vampire Kroft who descends on a graveyard after a long slumber, attacking a couple, assaulting the woman and impregnating her. The child that comes from this is an imp of a vampire, feeding only on the blood from his now living dead mother. Yes, this movie is all kinds of messed up, I wonder why we ever really heard about it before.

The Manitou – Speaking of weird little horror films, we go back to 1978 for this story of psychics, grotesque body lumps and four hundred-year-old Native American demons. I’m definitely getting weird with the Geek Outs this week but as soon as this one crossed my doorway I knew it’d be fun. For some real-life weirdness, the director of this movie William Girdler was actually killed before the release when his helicopter crashed as he was scouting for his next movie. Unfortunately, the film wasn’t a huge success or memorable but they did hand out barf bags at the premiere. Classy.

Bachman – Definitely one of Canada’s greatest living musicians, Randy Bachman gets the full documentary treatment in this short new film from John Barnard who directed the Sheepdogs doc Have At It in 2012. The focus of this movie is to follow Bachman as he writes his newest song and also take a trip down memory lane featuring rarely seen footage, pictures and archived documents that had been stored in our nation’s capital for decades. This movie has interviews with some of the other greats we have here like Neil Young, Sam Roberts and Buffy Sainte Marie, people from the press like Terry David Mulligan and, a personal favorite also from Winnipeg like Bachman, Chris Jericho. This is a really great week for music documentaries on What The Hell Should I Watch.

The Big Clock – A late arrival I received from Arrow Video, this film noir crime thriller comes from 1948 and features one of Paramount’s most bankable and durable stars Ray Milland, Tarzan’s Jane, Maureen O’Sullivan and Spartacus actor Charles Laughton. The film follows a greedy tycoon who frames an unknown and innocent man for a murder he committed. Unfortunately for the man bent on ruining his life, the falsely accused has enough wherewithal to start investigating the charge himself. Funny enough, Kevin Costner’s “No Way Out” is actually a remake of this film.

Television:

Marvel’s Jessica Jones: Season 3 (Netflix) – The final Marvel series available on Netflix takes its bow with one of my favorites, the tough-willed, super strong and heavy drinking private investigator. Kristen Ritter has really owned this role, an absolute comic fan favorite, giving her a texture onscreen of an embattled woman that has fought her way through memory loss, abuse and post-traumatic stress.I’m really looking forward to how this season with deal with the final resolution of this character and what other Marvel characters it will introduce along the way. Heck, as a comic fan this is what I look forward to with all the shows. It was really a golden Netflix time and now it’s over.

Trinkets: Season 1 (Netflix) – This is kind of my wild card this week because it’s a teen drama so it could really go either way. Brianna Hildebrand who played the angsty Negasonic Teenage Warhead in the Deadpool movies, stars in this series about three girls who meet in Shoplifters Anonymous and become friends. The reason I’m interested in this one is it kind of gives me a Nick And Norah’s Infinite Playlist vibe, which is fitting as the creators directed Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List, based on a book by the same author.

Absentia: Season 2 (Amazon Prime & Showcase) – Canadian actress and former Castle star Stana Kati stars in this crime drama about an FBI agent who is declared dead in absentia, otherwise known as a legal presumption of death, and must fight to reclaim her family, identity and innocence when she finds herself the prime suspect in a string of murders. The show, produced in a co-production with Israel and the US, was a difficult shoot because all ten episodes of the first season were filmed simultaneously based on location. It was filmed like a movie over three and a half months in the middle of winter.

Too Old To Die Young: Season 1 (Amazon Prime) – This collaboration between one of my favorite filmmakers ever Nicholas Winding Refn and one of the greatest comic writers to be printed Ed Brubaker has been brewing for a while and I’ve been not so patiently anticipating it. Miles Teller, William Balwin, John Hawkes and Jena Malone star in this new series about a young Los Angeles detective who lives a double life as a vicious hitman. The two parallel existences start to crumble his reality and blur his perception of reality as he falls deeper into violence. This show is not going to be for those with a weak stomach and will most likely find a niche audience.

Los Espookys: Season 1 (HBO) – After Portlandia thoroughly made me laugh my ass off, I’m totally willing to always watch anything Fred Armisen does without a doubt and this weird new comedy is a great example. With Armisen in the lead, the show is about a group of horror fans who turn their love of the genre into a business that’s sole purpose is to provide “scares fro the needy” by travelling to a weird Latin American country where the strange and eerie are just part of the normal everyday life. The show may be a bit too quirky to nail down a regular audience but it could also become a comedy cult classic.

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