Steve Stebbing

Breaking down all things pop culture

New Releases:

Ford v Ferrari – This new biopic should definitely be at the top of your list this weekend as it might be rewarding Christian Bale another Academy Award nomination as well as director James Mangold and the film itself because, let’s face it, the voters eat films like this up and secondly it looks great. Matt Damon plays American car designer Carroll Shelby with Bale starring as driver Ken Miles, the two employed in an uphill battle of corporate interference, the laws of physics and their own personal demons to build a revolutionary race car for Ford, the goal is to challenge and beat Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1966. This movie looks crammed with charisma, a smart and snappy script and definitely looks to be a total crowd-pleaser. I can’t wait.

Charlie’s Angels – On the outside, this movie feels like a bit of an impending disaster because we’ve had two feature films already made from this 80s television property and, if you’ve given them a rewatch recently, they’re kind of glossy and dumb, they only surviving thing that has any marginal coolness being the Destiny’s Child song. This new film has promise when you look deeper as Elizabeth Banks is on board to direct as well as play Bosely, a bit of a fan favorite from directing the last couple of Pitch Perfect movies. The winning piece of this for me is that Kristen Stewart being one of the angels, as I am a huge fan of her work, post Twilight of course. This might be hit or miss.

The Good Liar – Veteran acting is the big selling point of this movie as it features Sir Ian McKellan and Dame Helen Mirren in the lead roles. McKellan plays a con artist named Roy Courtnay who believes he’s found his career jackpot when he meets a well off widow Betty McLeish (Mirren) online. As Betty opens up her life to this possible new suitor, Roy begins to have a sneaking suspicion that he may be on the receiving end of a con job himself. The film is directed by Bill Condon who has teamed many times with McKellen on films like Mr. Holmes and Gods And Monsters, which I enjoyed both of, so I think this might be pretty solid as well. (Not opening in Hamilton or Kamloops)

The Warrior Queen of Jhansi – The underlying story of this film is a brutal tale of genocide and murder at the hands of the British empire, a black mark on their history but an event that is worthy of being told to educate those, like me, who didn’t know this act of cowardice. At its heart, this is a story of women empowerment based around Lakshmibai, the historic Queen of Jhansi who led her army, with a lot of women warriors, against the British East India Company in the infamous mutiny of 1857. The historical facts of this film would have won me over if the British side of the narrative wasn’t so over the top and hammed up because Rupert Everett and Nathanial Parker seem to do almost everything with such grandeur that it feels like satire or a mid-90s BBC melodrama. Were they always this bad and I’m just seeing it now? Beyond that, the music is terrible and the editing feels haphazard. (Only opening in Toronto, Winnipeg, Edmonton and Vancouver)

The Irishman – Legendary director Martin Scorsese plays with the progression of the cinema medium with this movie directly made for Netflix, so I think we can relax a bit on his sort of bad take on the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Even better, Scorsese has rounded up some of his greatest collaborators because this film stars Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci who acts in his first movie since 2010’s The Love Ranch. The movie follows DeNiro’s character of Frank Sheeran, a mob hitman recalling his involvement with the slaying of Jimmy Hoffa, a long-unsolved murder so all of this can be listed under supposed. The film has been getting rave reviews and may earn some top nominations at next year’s Oscars which will definitely put Netflix in the most comfortable driver’s seat they’ve ever been in. (Only opening in Toronto and Vancouver)

Blu-Ray:

Good Boys – The basic premise here is preteen Superbad, rude, crude and lewd. This might make you a little uncomfortable or you will have the bandwidth to say that, hey, this is a movie and just take it in as such. Vancouverite Jacob Tremblay joins his buddies Keith L. Williams from The Last Man On Earth and Boardwalk Empire’s Brady Noon in this film about three sixth grade boys who ditch school and embark on an epic journey while carrying accidentally stolen drugs. Along the way, they are hunted by teenage girls all while trying to make their way home in time for a long-awaited party where they may kiss a girl for the first time. The reviews for this movie were really positive and the movie may find itself in the same conversation as the movie I compared it to but in calibre and not just subject matter.

The Angry Birds Movie 2 – From mobile game to big-screen adaptation, this Rovio product of simple catapulting birds into structures to foil a bunch of green pigs has proved to be a massive property and truth be told I didn’t mind the first movie at all which is a good thing because my kid loves the movie and TV show. This new movie has the birds and pigs teaming up to take on a new threat located on an undiscovered island in their area and the voice talent is definitely present for this one including the returning Jason Sudekis, Josh Gad and Danny McBride as our main heroes as well as Sterling K. Brown, Bill Hader, Awkwafina and many, many more. That’s the element that keeps me interested.

The Farewell – Actress and comedian Awkwafina moves from the supporting role to the main role in this new comedy-drama that is one of the best movies I have seen this year. The story is about a Chinese family who discovers their grandmother has only a short while left to live and decide to keep her in the dark, scheduling a wedding to gather the extended family together before she dies. This movie is a beautiful story of family, notably the connection between grandmother and grandchild and the oddness of tradition and it really is one of those “can’t miss” indie films that kind of came out of nowhere. Interestingly enough, this film is only the second outing from writer and director Lulu Wang who is already set for her next movie a science fiction movie “Children of the New World” because already she feels so accomplished and exudes so much emotion in a story that is based on her real-life experience Put her name on the filmmakers to keep an eye on.

After The Wedding – Writer and director Bart Freundlich is a pretty ambitious filmmaker with his new film as he has taken on the task of adapting the great Susanne Bier and her 2006 drama starring Mads Mikkelsen. Swapping the genders of the lead three characters, the film is about a manager of an orphanage in Kolkata who travels to New York to meet a benefactor who has promised them a massive boost to their funding. When she arrives there she is invited to attend the wedding of her potential angel investor’s daughter, which begins a revelation that changes everyone’s future. The film is nowhere near the calibre of its source material but the emotional moments land with sledgehammer weight through the powerful performances of Michelle Williams, Julianne Moore and Billy Crudup. This is a serious actor’s clinic.

47 Meters Down: Uncaged – Shark movies, it should be standard to have one every year just to keep Spielberg’s Jaws legacy alive and keep us knowledgeable about where we got our blockbuster culture from. This year’s shark movie is a follow up to the Mandy Moore starring film from a couple of years back that honestly wasn’t that bad. This time we get all new characters in this story about four teen girls diving in a ruined underwater city who quickly learn they’ve entered the territory of the deadliest shark species in a claustrophobic labyrinth of submerged caves. Made by the same guy who did the first film, as well as the great Strangers sequel from last year, this should have been an easy slam dunk but Roberts bobbles it horribly with a lame and dumb script full of stupid decisions and cliched slasher movie moments. I won’t even give them the cool “Cliffhanger” moment with Sistine Stallone because the moments proceeding it are just so awful.

Brian Banks – I only vaguely heard about this biopic which may show how far director Tom Shadyac has fallen off the radar since his last major movie, 2007’s Evan Almighty. Straight Outta Compton star Aldis Hodge plays NFL football Brian Banks who played for the Atlanta Falcons until he was accused of rape and sent to prison. Wrongly convicted, Banks spends years of his life to overturn the conviction and clear his name. The story is compelling and presents itself with a good true to life reality but the script and locking of the film really take away from that feeling. I also feel like we need to get Greg Kinnear a little kickstart because his performances are feeling a bit lifeless.

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping – If you never had the chance to check out the second ever Lonely Island movie, a parody on pop stars like Justin Beiber, then you have really missed out and need to rectify that immediately with this steel book special edition. Andy Samberg plays mega star Conner 4 Real, a solo act that broke out from the group The Style Boyz, much like Justin Timberlake did from NSync but crushed the relationship with his best friend and bandmate in the process. This movie is ridiculous and takes insane leaps but everything pays off because this movie is absolutely hilarious. The standouts in the supporting cast are definitely Tim Meadows as Conner’s long-suffering but dedicated manager and Saturday Night Live cast member Chris Redd as Conner’s new opening act. Also, the soundtrack for this is awesome and operates as another Lonely Island album. This is a must-own.

Spirited Away – Shout Factory gives some more love to director, creator and Studio Ghibli founder Hayao Miyazaki with this beautiful box set that you can place alongside the box set for Princess Mononoke released earlier this year. For those who don’t know what this one is about this animated film follows a depressed ten-year-old girl who finds herself lost in her family’s move to the suburbs but soon finds herself immersed in the fantastical world of gods, witches, spirits and humans who have been changed into beasts. This is an incredible film filled with soul and beauty, one of the best stories from Miyazaki, maybe his crowning achievement.

Flowers In The Attic – The classic V.C. Andrews book turned movie gets the full collector’s edition from those great minds at Arrow Video and I think this story lives in a lot of our hearts, a movie we may have seen when we were younger. In a nutshell, the movie is about a group of siblings who have been shut away in the attic by their conspiring mother and grandmother, played by Victoria Tennant and Academy Award winner Louise Fletcher respectively. The movie was not well-received when it came out but it skipped the more controversial pieces from the book which would have damned it immediately. I enjoyed it but it definitely paled with time passed.

Star Trek Discovery: Season 2 – Full disclosure here, as much as I can call myself a geek I have never been a Trek guy, aside from the great Deep Space Nine which was a brilliant story about relationships and politics amid a space station, but this new series made for CBS All Access has me hooked. This second season is able to go off on its own path now that the first has established all of our characters and allegiances and these new episodes blow it all open with unpredictable storylines, fantastic acting and amazing sequences of sci-fi action. Seriously, if this was my first foray into the world of Star Trek I would probably be one of those Trekkie convention attendees without a doubt. This show is money in every way.

Steve’s Blu-Ray Geek-Out:

A Touch Of Class – Another classic sent to me from the depths of the Warner Bros. archive, the name says it all when it comes to this movie. A romantic comedy starring George Segal and Glenda Jackson, who won an Academy Award for this film, its the story of a married man who falls in love with a divorcee and mother of two, the couple going on a whirlwind romance through a trip from London to Spain. The popular nature of this film was a bit surprised at the time, as was the critic and award clout for it. You also have to keep in mind that Jackson won the Oscar over Marsha Mason in Cinderella Liberty and, a real kicker for me, Ellen Burstyn in The Exorcist. The movie is entertaining but I feel like Burstyn was robbed still.

The Dead Center – One of the best filmmakers working today, Shane Carruth is not exactly a household name but if you bring up the time travel mind-bender Primer, movie lovers know exactly who you’re talking about. Since then he has only made one other film, Upstream Color, another fantastic film, so when I saw his name attached to this new movie I was excited. Then I found out that he’s just the lead actor in it so there was an ebb to that excitement but was still on board. He plays a hospital psychiatrist whose own sanity is pushed to the limit when a frightened amnesiac patient insists that he has died and brought something terrible back from the other side. The movie comes from writer and director Billy Senese, who has a penchant for these clinical feeling horrors as his other one Closer To God runs in the same vein. The atmospherics of this film is great, really the driving force of the movie, and if you hate hospitals this movie won’t do you any favors.

Warrior: Season 1 – I can’t believe this show flew under my radar as it is based on stories written by Bruce Lee and comes from director Justin Lin, which is great being that he directed the Lee centric comedy satire Finishing The Game, a solid movie if you haven’t seen it. The actors aren’t known but the story will grab you, set during the Tong Wars in the late 1800s, following a martial arts prodigy originating from China who emigrates to San Francisco and ends up becoming a hatchet man for the most powerful boss in Chinatown. The action is phenomenal and the attention to detail feels impeccable. This is a great Blu-ray pick-up, a ten-episode series that has since been picked up for a second season. If you’re a classic martial arts fan then they made this show for you.

A Space Program – This is a fascinating little movie and I kept thinking about Michel Gondry’s Be Kind Rewind throughout my watching because it felt like it was almost in the same spirit. To put this film in a nutshell, an artist named Tom Sachs and his team of crazy “do it yourselfers” build a handmade space program to send two female astronauts to Mars. Have I hooked you yet? Directed by Van Neistat, this is a weird but kind of poignant homage and a love letter to the original NASA programs and just the construction of the movie alone, no pun intended, is absolutely enthralling. The dedication of the filmmakers and crew in this movie is astounding.

Television:

Rick And Morty: Season 4 (Adult Swim) – Probably the most popular adult cartoon on the planet with the most rabid ns sometimes bat guano insane fan base, Justin Rolland and Dan Harmon’s brainchild makes it way back to your television screens. For those who haven’t been clued in on this craziness, this show follows the intergalactic and interdimensional adventures of a constantly drunken super scientist and his not-so-bright grandson, a relationship that, at first, looks like a play on the Doc Brown and Marty McFly friendship but devolves way past that. This show hangs in the balance of you’re either going to love it or you’ll hate it but it definitely got its hooks into me. Who knows if we’ll see anything beyond this but I’m happy with what we got.

Dollface: Season 1 (Hulu) – Kat Dennings makes her return to episodic television two years after her sitcom 2 Broke Girls came to an end with this new series about a woman who tries to reconnect with the friends she lost during a long time relationship that has recently come to an end. The show costars Pretty Little Liars alum and Canadian actress Shay Mitchell as well as veteran actress Beth Grant as a crazy cat lady and looks like a pretty decent show from first-time showrunner and creator Jordan Weiss. The few reviews of it are conflicted so I can’t say if it’s great or not but it will definitely be a vehicle for Dennings’ cynical disposition.

The World According to Jeff Goldblum: Season 1 (Disney+) – This is an easy sell for any fan of Jeff Goldblum, myself included, as the iconic star gets deep into an investigation on seemingly familiar objects to reveal a world of astonishing connections, fascinating science, and a whole lot of big ideas. The episodes in the first season include looks at sneakers, ice cream, tattoos and more and I personally can’t wait to be educated by one of the most oddball Hollywood stars out there. I know Jeff has some controversial comments recently about Woody Allen and is circling the cancel culture button right now so I’m going to enjoy this while I can.

Earthquake Bird (Netflix) – A brand new pick up for this streaming service giant to add to an already huge catalogue of original films, this movie has great things going for it, coming from director Wash Westmoreland, the filmmaker behind last year’ Colette and the Academy Award winner Still Alice. An adaptation of the Susanna Jones novel, this stars Oscar winner Alicia Vikander and Riley Keough in a story about an enigmatic translator with a dark past who is brought in for questioning after an ex-pat friend that came between her and her photographer boyfriend ends up missing and presumed dead. Taut tension and mystery fuels this film that is getting some favorable reviews, calling it a well-acted and steamy neo-noir.

The Mandalorian: Season 1 (Disney+) – This is a historic moment as we get the first-ever live-action Star Wars series all based around a character that us fans have always revered, Boba Fett. Created by Jon Favreau, Disney+ will be releasing an episode a week of this lone gunfighter western feeling show set in the New Republic and with stars Pedro Pascal, Ming Na, Taika Waititi and Werner Herzog playing main characters, well, I’m just on dream street right now. Heck, I didn’t even rattle off all the filmmakers behind the episodes which include Dope’s Rick Famuyiwa, Bryce Dallas Howard and Waititi as well. This is going to be awesome.

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