Steve Stebbing

Breaking down all things pop culture

Paradise Hills – When this movie started out I was fully on board, a story following a girl played by Emma Roberts who wakes up on an island where girls are being reformed in a boarding school that looks more like a futuristic spa. What are they being prepared for and what happens to them when they are deemed “ready”? The premise is so intriguing, looking like The Prisoner if it was directed by Sofia Coppola but by the time we get to the third act the whole thing falls apart horribly, all it’s potential squandered.

By The Grace Of God – I will start right off the bat by saying that it’s a good thing I watched this film in the form as a screener at home because I had a very visceral knee jerk reaction of anger at this film, a story about pedophilia in the Catholic church. The film follows three men who were close friends in Scouts as children, where the were preyed on by the priest who ran the camp. Slowly the movement grows as more come forward and the lies, manipulation and cover-ups begin to be revealed in a public light. I found myself yelling at my television, unable to hold my disgust with the reveals in this film, which is director Francois Ozon’s best since 2003’s Swimming Pool. The film is maybe a tad too long but it definitely plays like the French version of Spotlight.

Jojo Rabbit – I don’t think I’ll ever be able to understand how Taika Waititi is able to be such a deeply adorable man, even when he plays Adolf Hitler, but here we are. This is the story of a young boy growing up in Nazi Germany, enrolled in the Hitler Youth program, with designs on becoming the fuhrer’s best friend. All of young Jojo’s ego and courage comes from his imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler, played by the aforementioned Waititi in the most hilarious way possible. To truly enjoy this movie you really have to throw away any offended feelings you have because the film is the height of pure satire. That in mind, the performances from everyone are so top-notch, which includes Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell and Leave No Trace standout Thomasin McKenzie.

Little Joe – This movie is unsettling from the get-go, as soon as it’s oddly scrolling credits appear a high pitched squeal takes over the score, intermittently returning to unnerve you more. To be very minimalist about the description, the film Emily Beecham stars as Alice, a single mother and a senior plant breeder at a corporation dedicated to developing new species. Against company policy, she takes her prized plant home as a gift for her teenage son, Joe, a flower that is bred not to procreate but one that is, according to the research, sentient. Director and writer Jessica Hausner plays the mystery of this film with such a great subtlety that you never really can get a grasp on the reality of everything up until it’s chilling ending and its brilliant. She is also so impeccable in her production design and costuming, commanding me to rewatch this film to unlock more that I missed.


Sometimes Always Never – This one is a simple film, a story of a father and son, estranged for years, reconnecting to possibly identify the body of Michael, another estranged son who stormed out after a game of Scrabble. Now seemingly obsessed with the game, Nighy’s character is constantly lost in the pieces but is using it to connect with his obtuse son but also the open mind of his grandson. This is basically just a film for Nighy to chew the scenery, which he does brilliantly thanks to the script from Tristam Shandy: A Cock And Bull Story writer Frank Cottrell Boyce against some gorgeous and vibrant backdrops. Richard Stoddard’s cinematography is definitely the second star of this movie.

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