Steve Stebbing

Breaking down all things pop culture

New Releases:

Spider-Man: Far From Home – The first movie to follow after the massive changes that Avengers: Endgame brought to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this film is the story that brings closure to this phase, let’s us mourn Tony Stark and prepares us for what’s coming next. I want to keep this one really short as spoiler territory is a hard thing to avoid with this but the film is basically about the world trying to get back to normal after the dusting or what this film calls “the blip” when a new threat to the planet emerges with what may be a new hero in the form of Jake Gyllenhaal’s Mysterio. The movie is the perfect blend of spectacle and laughs filtered into an awkward teenager rom-com, exactly what we needed after the dire consequences of Infinity War and Endgame. This film is a big screen experience in every way and demands to be seen.

Midsommar – If there was a movie that I would put at the top of my list of anticipated films this year this would be number one with a bullet. The sophomore film from Hereditary director Ari Aster, the main details of this movie have been kept very under wraps, the trailer even giving a foreboding sense of mystery in a brilliantly bright wrapper. From what I can glean, the story is about a couple who travels to Sweden to visit a secluded town’s fabled mid-summer festival and what was thought to be an idyllic retreat quickly devolves into an increasingly violent and bizarre competition at the hands of a pagan cult. From everything I’m hearing, this may be on par with the 1970s thriller The Wicker Man and, oh boy, does that excite me!

Wild Rose – This seems to be a really great time for music in movies as we’ve recently received biopics of two of the greatest rock n roll acts of all time, Queen and Elton John, and had the high profile remake o A Star Is Born and the phenomenal indie film Teen Spirit. In this new film that is getting top-notch reviews, Irish singer and actress Jessie Buckley plays a Glasgow singer who is pursuing her dream of moving from Glasgow to Nashville to become the next country star. The movie comes from director Tom Harper, who has directed a slew of great British television and the Woman In Black sequel, so I know this film with have a visual style to go along with its music. This may be one of those hidden gem films.

Blu-Ray:

The Poison Rose – Sometimes a trailer will draw you in to a movie, intriguing you to the point that you make an immediate mental note that this is the movie you want to check out and other times the ad is so awful that you wish it was never made and you feel sorry for anyone who took part in it. Well, this movie speaks to the latter half of the equation but I’m still dying to see it because it looks so terrible. Inspired by some classic film noir, John Travolta plays Carson Phillips, an ex-football star turned PI who has a soft spot for a lady in distress, the one in question being Famke Janssen. Everyone looks like they did this for the money. Travolta has a ridiculous southern accent, Famke looks like she’s floundering and Morgan Freeman is a supporting role? Yeah, train wreck but I can’t look away.

The Beach Bum – Oddball writer and director Harmonie Korine returns to follow up the fantastic Spring Breakers with a Matthew McConaughey character piece and I am definitely here for it. The movie is about Moondog, an ageing stoner who spends his existence rolling around South Florida in a stupor, getting every drop of partying he possibly can. Look, I’m perfectly aware that not everyone is going to dig this movie and you can just look at Korine past films fro the barometer of if you’ll hate this movie as the man wrote Kids, made Gummo and Mister Lonely, two stories that are destined to trigger a disgusted or angry reaction. The gist of this is to just be wary of checking this one out.

The Best Of Enemies – On the outside, this film looks really interesting as it stars Golden Globe winner Taraji P. Henson and Sam Rockwell as civil rights activist Ann Atwater and Exalted Cyclops of the Ku Klux Klan C.P Ellis respectively about the showdown between the two in Durham, North Carolina over school integration in 1972. The film comes from a first-time filmmaker and should excel by the sheer power of the leads alone but it just kind of fizzles I think. This may be due to the fact that, although this is a true story, the take on it and the treatment of that reality seems so far off of anything that is easy to swallow. It just feels whitewashed, wrong and forcing us to feel any sort of redemption for Ellis is, at its core, completely ridiculous.

The Public – Emilio Estevez follows up his indie darling The Way with this socio topical film that is very fitting in the conversation of our times. The film takes place during a cold snap in Cincinnati with Estevez and Jena Malone playing two librarians who find their public library occupied by a group of homeless people looking to escape the cold. Tensions begin to rise leading to a police standoff with the leader of the group played by the incredible Michael Kenneth Williams from The Wire. With the calibre of stars in this, which also includes Alec Baldwin and Orange Is The New Black’s Taylor Schilling, this might be one of the top dramas this week.

Escape Plan: The Extractors – Who would have thought that a forgotten collaboration between mega action stars Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone would spawn a little direct to video franchise? Well, here we are with the third movie in this series now, with Stallone taking the lead and adding former WWE superstar and current action heavyweight Dave Bautista in the last movie and former nineties heartthrob Devon Sawa to this one. These may not be any sort of amazing award-winning films but they do fill the void of mindless action films with a bit of budget to play with. Beggars can’t be choosers.

Okko’s Inn – More anime floated my way this week, this one again playing into the emotional side of the genre. The story follows Okko, a young girl who, after losing her parents in a car accident, starts living in the countryside with her grandmother, the proprietor of a traditional Japanese inn. While she prepares to be the next owner of the inn, Okko finds that she can somehow see friendly ghosts. Different than a lot of the anime films I’ve watched lately, this one felt packed with excitement and solid storytelling which had me engaged throughout. For those who follow my weekly blog here, this is a huge development. I may actually be starting to get it!

Steve’s Blu-Ray Geekout:

Rider On The Rain – It seems like the common ground between last week’s Geekouts and this week’s is Charles Bronson as I bring another one of his classic but ultimately forgotten movies, the difference being that this film is a mystery thriller. All transpiring on a train in France, this movie has Bronson as a U.S. Army colonel who takes it upon himself to track down a crazed rapist who is running rampant. This movie intrigues me massively as it comes from writer SĂ©bastien Japrisot who’s source material of books and stories has brought us films like The Lady in the Car with Glasses and a Gun, One Deadly Summer and my favorite romance film of all time A Very Long Engagement. It’s also interesting to note that Bronson loved this movie so much that he campaigned to get it remade by Cannon Films in 1983, which unfortunately never happened.

When A Stranger Calls Back – Following up one of the greatest babysitter horror films of all time, this movie doubles down on its 1979 predecessor but is a bit limited due to it being a TV movie. Carol Kane and Charles Durning reprise their roles from the original movie which follows the unfortunate path of being a sequel of lesser return, although I still find it pretty entertaining. Beyond that, and some extra fun, this movie was riff tracked by the original guys at Mystery Science Theater 3000 which in my opinion is a huge honor.

Television:

Stranger Things: Season 3 (Netflix) – This seems like a week of gifts for me as I’ve been waiting for the latest season of this with such a pent up anticipation because I think it’s my favorite thing that Netflix has ever done. This new season centers around the new mall that opens in Hawkins, a venue that quickly becomes the new sinister setting for our young heroes to take on the next evil trapped in our world from the “Upside Down” after the events of the previous season. Not much info has been given other than the two short trailers but they added 80s stalwart Cary Elwes to the cast, Steve is now a more central role, which I love and it has that beautiful nostalgic look to it. I am excited to binge.

Into the Dark: Culture Shock (Hulu) – A brand new horror anthology series that has been streaming in the US, I bring attention to this, the tenth episode, as it is an important one to our local filmmaker talent as Gigi Saul Guerrero of Luchagore Productions directs this episode, someone I’ve had the extreme pleasure of interviewing for a podcast. Sure to be sick and twisted, this episode follows a young Mexican woman in pursuit of the American Dream, who crosses illegally into the United States, only to find herself in an American nightmare. Featuring Mayans MC’s Richard Cabral and X-Men’s Shawn Ashmore, this hopefully will be something that puts Gigi on producer’s radars in a big way.

Young Justice: Outsiders (DC Universe) – Almost ten years ago DC Animation made a new and pretty gritty series about the Teen Titans, reformed to be a younger version of the Justice League and, as a comic fan, it was awesome. Then, after three seasons, they did the unthinkable and cancelled the show at the height of its popularity. Now, thanks to their new DC Universe streaming service, they made the right decision and resurrected this amazing series and I couldn’t be happier. If you love comics and cartoons then you must be just as elated as I am.

Divorce: Season 3 (HBO) – A show that has managed to keep totally under the radar in my opinion, this series, led by Sarah Jessica Parker, is now picking up some clout heading into the newest season. The show is essentially a dark comedy about the long drawn out divorce between Parker’s character and her soon to be ex-husband played by Thomas Haden Church, a personal favorite. Featuring a supporting cast of Molly Shannon, Tracey Letts, Talia Balsam and Becki Newton, I feel at a loss to why I have never picked up on this show until now but I will be picking up the first season now to get caught up.

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