Steve Stebbing

Breaking down all things pop culture

New Releases:

Annabelle Comes Home – I can’t believe we’re already at the third Annabelle movie but here we are. The series started horribly but Creation proved to be a really entertaining horror film so to up the ante this time Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson’s Lorraine and Ed Warren take center stage for this installment as the doll in question finds it’s way to their artifacts library where it wreaks havoc by waking all the other evil contained there. The movie is directed by the writer of the last movie as well as the new iteration of Stephen King’s It and I have faith that this will be some fun scares for audiences. (Not opening in Hamilton)

Yesterday – Image a world where you were a musician that was the only person who could remember the existence of The Beatles and their music. That is the premise of this new Danny Boyle directed film starring Himesh Patel and the lovely Lily James and as a huge fan of the Fab Four myself I’m really excited for it as it celebrates the music of one of the greatest bands to ever live. The reviews are just above middling but I think there is a special nice who will really latch on to this film and, for the popular music fans, it includes a small role from Ed Sheeran that looks hilarious in the trailer. (Not opening in Hamilton)

Long Day’s Journey Into Night – This beautiful and complex drama caught me totally off guard with its wrought emotion playing so subtly under the surface until the passionate explosion in the final moments. The story follows a troubled man who returns to a small town he frequented in order to find meaning, which he connects to a woman he spent a summer with twenty years prior. Made by an ambitious new Chinese director Gan Bi, this film moves with the grace of a veteran filmmaker with gorgeous and expressive shots throughout. The film may largely come off as an arthouse drama but it’s appeal definitely wasn’t lost on me. (Only opening in Toronto and Vancouver)

Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind – Another music documentary this week following all the stellar ones we’ve received in the previous couple of weeks making it just a perfect time to get immersed in some music stories. This one focuses on the legendary Gordon Lightfoot, an artist said to be Canada’s greatest songwriter and I really have no argument against it. His songs are iconic and if you think you’ve never heard one I assure you that you are wrong. This film portrait shows the man for better or worse and with all his scars on display and the truth of this movie is something I absolutely loved about it. This is a special film and one important to all Canadiana. (Only opening in Toronto and Vancouver)

Blu-Ray:

Dumbo – Disney continues their big 2019 with the first of their three live-action updates of classic films from their animation library. This movie, being based on the original film from 1941, may only hold in the hearts of kids who are deeply immersed in the whole catalogue contained the iconic vault but for us adults in the know, we are aware of the importance of this adaptation. My reservations lied in the director choice of Tim Burton who hasn’t made a truly great film since maybe Sweeney Todd but this movie actually worked for me quite a bit and maybe it was from the restraint he exhibited. The reunion between him and stars Michael Keaton and Danny Devito was really great to see and Burton knows how to shoot his main lady for the last few films Eva Green so beautifully. This is a definitely winning pick to grab for the whole family this week.

The Hummingbird Project – A couple of years back I checked out a frozen but decidedly damaged love story out of Alaska called Two Lovers and a Bear from Canadian director Kim Nguyen and really enjoyed it. Now he’s back with a very American tale, about a high-frequency trader and his genius but autistic computer programmer cousin who decide to go into business for themselves and get a fibre optic line run from Kansas to Wall Street to get stock information a millisecond before anyone else, all behind the back of their ruthless former employer. This movie is all about performances, with lead star Jesse Eisenberg giving his usual neurotically nuanced delivery and Salma Hayek as their formidable foe. This one has to be handed to Alexander Skarsgard as the MVP, playing the autism spectrum so well and sporting a cul de sac of baldness against his usual beauty, and the supporting work from Michael Mando is fantastic. Really liked this one.

The Kid – Gathering some of the friends he made while making the remake of The Magnificent Seven, Vincent D’onofrio directs his first western, the second film of his overall, led by Ethan Hawke, Dane DeHaan and Chris Pratt as characters old west fans will know well. Told through the eyes of an orphaned young boy, we see the final encounters between legendary lawman Pat Garrett, played by Hawke, and Billy The Kid who is played brilliantly by DeHaan. This movie is all about great acting as every person seriously brings it and, interestingly enough, Pratt actually plays the villain of the movie, such a departure for the wildly popular hero star. Take this from me, western fans will not want to miss this one.

Furie – One thing that isn’t super popular among martial arts movies is an ass-kicking lady lead character to cheer on. There is, of course, the Sonny Chiba spin-off series Sister Street Fighter and the kill Thai actioner Chocolate and another handful but its slim pickings. This movie dispells that a bit by having a single mother who is the local debt collector in her village, a job she takes ruthlessly serious. When her daughter is kidnapped by some angry former clients, she must head to the big city to retrieve her and to deliver a beatdown to the perpetrators that will not be forgotten. The plot and script are pretty lax but the action is fast, hard-hitting and massively entertaining.

Cinderella – Another movie from the legendary Disney vault gets released today, one of the absolute favorites that everyone grew up on. This new edition, a part of their Signature Collection, gives a brand new restored version of the 1950 film, the ninth in this new Disney push, and while the audio and video portions of the film are unchanged from the Diamond Edition it does have some audio commentary which is comprised of recreated comments from directors and producers behind the movie as well as Walt Disney himself, a trivia track which plays with the feature itself and so many featurettes. This is a must own for all Disney fans.

Night Of The Creeps – I was so excited to receive the collector’s edition of this mid-80s horror classic as it is one of my favorite undead films of all time from one of the greatest writer-directors to ever get screwed out of Hollywood, Fred Dekker. Starring one of the best B-movie actors, Tom Atkins, this film takes place on prom night in small town middle America when an army of alien brain parasites take over, turning their hosts into unstoppable killing machines. This movie has moments of pure horror brilliance, plot twists that’ll shock you and lines that I quote to this day like “Thrill me” and “I got good news and bad news, girls. The good news is your dates are here. That bad news is they’re dead.” Such a prized possession in my collection now.

Steve’s Blu-Ray Geekout:

Cold Sweat – Heading back to 1970, before Death Wish was a mega-hit, Charles Bronson starred in this thriller for Wait Until Dark and multiple Bond film director Terence Young. The story follows an ex-military man who is forced to lead a smuggling job in order to free his wife and daughter from kidnappers. The movie wasn’t released in the USA until 1974, over three years after it was made, and immediately made it’s television debut three days later, destroying any chance it had for real box office returns. I have such a keen interest in this forgotten film as it is based on a story by Richard Matheson, the mind behind I Am Legend and A Stir Of Echoes.

The Emmanuelle Trilogy – A little while back Kino Lorber sent me these movies from their Kino Classic series and, I can’t lie, these are you basic French softcore porns. Consisting of Emmanuelle, Emanuelle 2 and Goodbye Emmanuelle, these films follow the title character, played by Sylvia Kristel, who, in the first film is the wife of a French diplomat in Bangkok ad embarks on a voyage of sexual discovery. The second movie ups the ante by having her return to her husband in Hong Kong and proceeds to have several extramarital affairs, this time with his knowledge to make things saucier. The final film, at least for Kristel because the character would carry on, Emmanuelle and her husband continue their amoral lifestyle in the Seychelles. These movies are nothing more than beautiful looking fluff but they captivated European audiences throughout the seventies.

The Brain – The cover of this weirdo little sci-fi horror movie had me transfixed immediately because it plays directly into my love of the 70s and 80s campy monster films like Ghoulies, The Stuff and It’s Alive. This one is about an alien organism that uses its host to brainwash the world through television, leading a teenager to take on the battle of destroying this extraterrestrial and saving the earth in the process. This movie has no recognizable names, the director hasn’t done anything you’ve heard of and the writer is an unknown as well but what this film has is cult status written all over it and deservedly so.

Television:

Curfew: Season 1 (Spectrum) – This is more of a “put this on your list mention” as it is playing on this channel Spectrum and the British network Sky but the cast has me so interested when I saw it mentioned in this week’s new premieres. Starring Sean Bean, Adam Brody, Billy Zane and many other recognizable faces, this movie is an action thriller about a group of amateur drivers from all over the world brought to compete in an illegal night-time street race so you know the character work is going to be fun, which is totally outing me as a Death Race fan, both original and Statham. That being said, the SYFY show Blood Drive was really fun too.

Legion: Season 3 (FX) – The final season of this mind trip of an X-Men related series is kicking off and it’s a great time to reflect on the awesomeness we’ve gotten so far. From the creative mind of Fargo showrunner Noah Hawley and led by the brilliant actor Dan Stevens, this is the story of David Haller, a troubled young man diagnosed as schizophrenic who discovers that there may be more to his condition including special powers that will change his life forever. I don’t want to give too much away about the central plot of this series because Hawley’s narrative drive is to take your head for a spin and I don’t want to take that away from new viewers. Just watch it!

Exhibit A: Season 1 (Netflix) – One thing is very certain when it comes to Netflix original series and that is that true crimes shows are the top go-to picks on the streaming service. This new show looks to take a bite out of that market as it follows controversial crimes through the lens of forensic science and, most importantly, the innocent people convicted of crimes because the science, which should have protected them backfired. This show may be opening a whole new can of worms, just like the Making A Murderer seasons did, but I’m more than intrigued to see their findings.

The Chosen One: Season 1 (Netflix) – This new Netflix six-episode series has made it’s way to our televisions from Brazil and seems pretty fascinating in its subject matter. The show is about three doctors who travel to the remote Pantanal, a natural region encompassing the world’s largest tropical wetland area in Brazil, to bring a Zika vaccine. There they clash with the village’s faith healer, inadvertently making an enemy of him in the process, pulling them deeper into the mysteries of his cult. The show looks so interesting and I have a real soft spot for foreign television, especially if it’s well made. This may be a hit.

Euphoria: Season 1 (HBO) – Now that Game OF Thrones has ended and Chernobyl made it’s run you didn’t think that HBO was going to rest on its laurels, did you? This new show is making big waves and is a teen drama looking with an unflinching eye at a group of high school students as they grapple with issues of drugs, sex, and violence. Starring Maude Apatow, which makes a lifelong Judd fan feel really old, Zendaya and The Last Ship’s Eric Dane, this series has been getting some really great reviews and it comes from Sam Levinson who directed the fantastic Assassination Nation last year.

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