Steve Stebbing

Breaking down all things pop culture

Parasite – What a great way to start out my coverage of this year’s Vancouver International Film Festival, some great Korean cinema from one of the masters, Bong Joon-Ho. In his return to all Korean film, he tells the story of a family of con artists who grift their way into a rich families lives as a chauffeur, housekeeper, tutor and personal assistant respectively. They think they’ve hit the big time until the former housekeeper shows them a deep secret that she’s been hiding in their employer’s house that blows everyone’s situation up. Joon-Ho crafts another incredible masterpiece of a movie that’s filled with twists, incredible cinematography and the amazing ability to tell stories within a story. He never relents in showing that he is not only one of the greatest Korean storytellers today but one of the best in cinema today.

Burning Cane – A hard film to derive anything out of it except a desperate feeling sorrow, this is a brutal and deeply emotional first feature from writer and director Phillip Youmans, a filmmaker that seems to have the eye of a director like Terrance Malick but without the same repose. The film is built around three characters, a mother who has deeply religious convictions that she wants to impart on those closest to her to a futile degree, her son, a father who’s systemic alcoholism completely drowned any potential he has as a man and a reverend who spits fire at the podium but drowns his demons in the drink whenever he is away from the spotlight. This movie is tragic and viscerally real but kind of left me a bit in the third act.

The Lighthouse – Ever since I saw The Witch at a press screening in 2015 I have been waiting rabidly for the new Robert Eggers film and he did not disappoint. Shot in black and white and in a 1.19:1 aspect ratio (basically a square on the movie screen), this is the story of two lighthouse keepers who arrive to run the light on a New England island in 1890. In two incredible and award-worthy performances, Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe descend into isolated madness before your eyes and I’ve never seen anything like it. The description I’m trying to push to describe this film is it’s like if David Lynch wrote a sea shanty and put it on the big screen.

Just Mercy – Short Term 12 director Destin Daniel Cretin returns to form after The Glass Castle with this well-acted true story about civil rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson, a Harvard law school graduate who moved from Delaware to Alabama to give death row inmates proper legal representation, played in this film by Michael B. Jordan. Awards season will definitely contain talk of this movie when it sees release in December and not just for Jordan who turns in another great performance but it’s more likely that Jamie Foxx will get the nomination as a wrongly convicted small-town Alabama man that was made a target by a brutal sheriff in his county.

Babysplitters – The premise of this movie started good, two couples that feel the need to have kids but are too worried about losing their freedoms in their work, recreation and romantic lives. Then a deal is struck. Due to the infertility of one of the ladies, it is proposed that the one husband knock the other wife up and custody of the baby would be shared between the four of them. Wacky plot, right? Community’s Danny Pudi plays the lead in a film that feels just as silly as it’s premise and goes through tremendous logic stretches to keep going and falls apart in an “alls well that ends well” sort of ending. Disappointing.


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