Steve Stebbing

Breaking down all things pop culture

New Releases:

Terminator: Dark Fate – A new entry into a series that I feel has burnt me a few times before, I’m a little trepidatious heading into the new installment of this iconic sci-fi action series but there are a few differences that make me have hope that we have a good movie. This film marks the return of producer James Cameron in a more hands-on capacity, the first time since Judgement Day and it has Deadpool director Tim Miller making his first film since that mega-hit, shrugging of the comedy for something far grimmer. Adding to that mix we get the return of Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor, the only one who can do it justice, to join Arnie as well as a rumored return for Edward Furlong as John Connor. Just writing this has got me more hyped for the movie and I haven’t even got to the MacKenzie Davis character yet, the actress being a personal favorite of mine.

Harriet – Talk Tom Me director Kasi Lemmons, also an actress who appeared in The Silence Of The Lambs among many others, takes on a huge historical figure with this new film, the amazing story of Harriet Tubman and her escape from slavery and transformation into one of America’s greatest heroes who freed hundreds of slaves and changed the course of history. Cynthia Erivo, who last appeared in the great movies Widows and Bad Times At El Royale, takes the lead in this movie that is getting great reviews, giving a sincere and truthful account of an important piece in the past that is deeply pivotal to the world of today. A film like this is usually Oscar bait so I really hope it transcends that or at least isn’t obvious with its goals. (Not opening in Hamilton, Kamloops and Oshawa)

Motherless Brooklyn – Edward Norton is back behind the camera for the first time in almost twenty years with this new detective noir drama where he plays a private investigator’s helper who takes it upon himself to unravel a mystery that gets his boss killed. It should also be mentioned that Norton’s character suffers from Tourette’s Syndrome, which is sometimes played for laughs. The film is an engaging film with a great script but no one in the film is particularly amazing, no standouts that I could see. The film is a little rough around the edges and could be trimmed down a bit, plus there was a bit of additional dialogue that felt a little tacked on. (Not opening in Kamloops and Oshawa)

Arctic Dogs – This is a new film on my desk this week and obviously it has absolutely no ad campaign behind it because this is probably the first time you, the reader, is hearing about it too. The film, an animated family movie, is about an arctic fox who works in the mailroom of the Arctic Blast Delivery Service, stifling his much bigger dreams of becoming the Arctic’s star husky courier. To prove he can do it, he takes one of the sleds and delivers a mysterious package to a secret location which puts him in the path of the nefarious Otto Von Walrus, an evil genius with an army of puffin henchmen. The movie features the voices of Jeremy Renner, Anjelica Huston, James Franco, John Cleese and more but without Dreamworks, Pixar, Illumination or Sony pushing this one I doubt anyone will care to be brutally honest. (Not opening in Hamilton)

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. (Only opening in Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver)

Pain & Glory – One of the most consistent international filmmakers returns with his most grounded and personal film yet. Pedro Almodovar is a world-class storyteller who always comes through with vibrant tales of real human struggle and this film may be one of my favorites in his filmography. Antonio Banderas is stunning in this, one of his best performances in my opinion, as he plays a director who suffers from chronic headaches and pain from a spinal surgery coming to grips with a childhood and relationship with his mother that made him the man he is today, for better or worse, as well as the early films that made him and the working friendships he may have tarnished with his own opinions of his art. This film is stunning from the getgo and reminds you why Almodovar is one of the true masters. (Only opening in Toronto and Vancouver)

The King – Nothing sells a movie better than having Timothee Chalamet in the lead role but this has much more than that as Robert Pattinson, Joel Edgerton, Ben Mendelsohn, Lily Rose Depp and Thomasin McKenzie round out this stacked cast in a story about the crowning of a young Henry V, a wayward prince and heir to the English throne, thrust into his destiny when his tyrannical father dies. The film was written by Edgerton and the director of the film, David Michod, a follow up to his George Clooney produced miniseries Catch 22. The reviews boast about the great performances in the movie that elevate the story past some of its weaker moments so it looks like if you love some Chalamet this would be a good bet for you. (Only opening in Toronto and Vancouver)

The Body Remembers When The World Broke Open – Two indigenous women meet in Vancouver on one rainy after, both at different crossroads in their lives. Áila, emotional after a doctor’s appointment, appears to be a former victim of abuse who has entered a new time of healing in her life. She finds Violet, pregnant, barefoot, bleeding and bruised, standing in the rain as a man screams at her from a block away, beginning a journey between the two women as Áila tries to convince Violet to seek help at a battered women’s shelter. The film told mostly through one continuous shot, is a deeply human story that is tragic to watch unfold, especially because the outcome is what the shelter workers know as a fact. No one takes to the home immediately and it takes multiple violent events to breakthrough. This is an incredible movie, homegrown right here in Vancouver. (Only opening in Toronto and Vancouver)

Blu-Ray:

Luce – With his first movie out of the gate being Cloverfield Paradox, the third piece in the J.J. Abrams and Bad Robot monster universe, it was hard to get a sense of what kind of filmmaker Julius Onah is. Now with his second feature, he taps into a dramatic side with a married couple who is forced to reckon with their idealized image of their adopted son after an alarming discovery by a devoted high school teacher about his former life in a war-torn country threatens his status as an all-star student. The cast is deep, featuring Octavia Spencer, Naomi Watts, Tim Roth and It Comes At Night star Kelvin Harrison Jr. as the title character. Part of me geeks out because this is the reunion of Watts and Roth as a married couple following the remake of Funny Games.

Them That Follow – Brilliant performances from a stacked cast of great character actors, this film is a solid little southern preacher drama that I’m glad I took notice of. The film stars Alice Englert as the daughter of a pastor played by Walton Goggins living in the backwoods of Appalachia who harbours a secret that will tear their community apart. With a supporting cast of Lewis Pullman, Kaitlyn Dever, Thomas Mann, Jim Gaffigan and Academy Award winner Olivia Colman, this is a well-told story beautifully shot by Brett Jutkiewicz, who already gifted us the fantastic horror film Ready Or Not this year.

It’s A Wonderful Life – One of the most iconic Christmas films of all time gets the full Blu-ray special edition treatment as you can now show your entire family this classic Jimmy Stewart movie. For those who don’t know this story, the film centers around a stressed out and overworked businessman who is shown what the world would be like without him in it. The film is one of the most celebrated holiday movies of all time and even earned five Academy Award nominations including Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Director for Frank Capra, one of the greats of the time. I honestly don’t need to prattle on any more about this one as we’ve all seen it or know about it or watched the Nicolas Cage sort of remake of it, The Family Man. Am I alone on that last one?

The Ring Collection – The early 2000s hit sensation of J-Horror or Japanese waif ghost horror is fully celebrated with this new box set from Arrow Video and with the remake of The Grudge on the horizon it could send me into another tumble down of all these great classic movies. Included in this set is all the chronology of the Ringu series, the inspiration of The Ring movies, with the originator Ringu, made in 1998, the next coming each year after with Ringu 2 and the prequel Ringu 0 as well as Spiral which came out the same year. This is a very cool set, which is gorgeously put together, but if I could nitpick anything, I would say that the fact it doesn’t have the spinoff movies Sadako 3D, Sadako 2 3D and Sadako vs Kayako is a little bit of a fail.

Steve’s Blu-Ray Geek-Out:

Toys Are Not For Children – This is definitely one of the weirdest movies I have ever received from Arrow Video and what’s even more shocking to me is that it was made in 1972 and deals with some seriously twisted themes. The story follows Jamie, an emotionally stunted woman who has a fixation on the toys given to her by her long-absent father which prompts her to get a job at the local toy shop. She falls in love with one of her co-workers, gets married, gets divorced and movies to New York to be a prostitute who specializes in servicing perverted old men who want to play daddy with her. Went off the rails at the end there but I needed to give you the scope of what we’re dealing with here and it’s only an hour and a half long! This movie is so insane and I can’t believe it exists.

Genius Party/Genius Party Beyond – It’s another dive into anime this week with these two anthology stories released in 2007 and 2008 respectively. The first film features the voice fo Pacific Rim star Rinko Kikuchi and stories by Hideki Futamura of Halo Legends, Mahiro Maeda who did the third Evangelion movie, Kôji Morimoto of Memories and The Animatrix and more. The second movie, Beyond, is a bit more restrained in its scope but features a lot of the up and comers in the animation field under the direction of Morimoto once again, among others. As far as what audiences are saying, the second movie is a much more polished product than it’s predecessor which seems odd to me.

Television:

See: Season 1 (Apple+) – Jason Momoa leads this new sci-fi series set in a dystopian future as the human race has lost the sense of sight and society has had to find new ways to navigate the world and survive as a society. Of course, when a set of twins are born with the ability to see everyone’s world is blown wide open. This show was all filmed in Vancouver and the surrounding areas and features a lot of local talent, like my friend Josh Blacker, but beyond those reasons to get on board, the show actually looks pretty damn great. The appeal to me for story elements is that the show makes use of the freeform of Apple’s platform and is gory as hell. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea but I think it could become a hit.

The Morning Show: Season 1 (Apple+) – Jennifer Aniston returns to television and I feel like people have been waiting for this moment even if they aren’t sure exactly what Apple+ is and how they can get it. Featuring an amazing cast including Steve Carell, Billy Crudup, Mark Duplass, Bel Powley, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Reese Witherspoon, the show takes an inside look at the lives of a nationwide morning show, exploring the unique challenges faced by the men and women who carry out this daily production. The unfortunate thing is the initial reviews of the show call it a vanity project for Aniston, a story that goes over on surface value and never digs into anything interesting. Let’s face it though, this will be massively watched by the current subscribers just salivating at the launch of this platform.

American Son (Netflix) – This new feature hitting the streaming service this week stars a very gaunt-looking Kerry Washington in a story about an estranged couple who reunite in a Florida police station to help find their missing teenage son. The film co-stars Supergirl’s Jeremy Jordan and Rescue Me’s Steven Pasquale and is based on a critic and audience lauded Broadway play that featured all of these actors. The first reviews are saying that the stage play script doesn’t translate, which is a large part of the problem I had with the Denzel Washington movie Fences but something about the trailer for this one has me very interested.

Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan: Season 2 (Amazon Prime) – John Krasinksi dons the CIA agent role for the sophomore season of this popular espionage hit. I really liked the first season a lot, the writers managed to keep this character fresh and original in a post-Jason Bourne genre landscape and it has great direction from proven feature filmmakers like Morten Tyldum and Patricia Riggen as well as ex-Game Of Thrones guys like Daniel Sackheim. This new season adds new characters, like one played by former Lisbeth Salander Noomi Repace, and I’m sure will continue the deepening saga of this iconic literary character who’s had a really bumpy live-action life after Harrison checked out.

Silicon Valley: Season 6 (HBO) – Mike Judge can soon add another complete piece of comedy gold to his collection along with Beavis and Butthead, Office Space, King Of The Hill and Idiocracy as the tale of Richard, Gilfoyle, Dinesh, Jared and their baby, Pied Piper comes to an end after five really great seasons and hopefully a solid swan song here. I will admit that the show has a formula to it, almost like Entourage did, another one of my favorites, in which we have a giant problem that takes all season to break down until alls well that ends well in the end. That said, the ride is always fun, always hilarious and with so many original and quotable dialogue along the way. I still miss T.J. Miller though.

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