Steve Stebbing

Breaking down all things pop culture

New Releases:

The Gentlemen – Writer and director Guy Ritchie is returning to the roots of cinema that got him popular, the gangster flicks like Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. For this film, he grabs a huge cast with Charlie Hunnam, Hugh Grant, Matthew McConaughey, Colin Farrell and more for the story of a drug lord looking to get out of the game and sell of his empire to the highest bidder which sets off a bloody war in the London underworld, a place that Ritchie knows as well as he knows himself. This movie probably won’t draw in a new audience but will satisfy the hordes of fans of this genre he made famous, all of us salivating for him to do another movie with great dialogue and loud gunfights. Bring it all the way on, Guy! (Not opening in Hamilton)

The Turning – Adapting the classic Henry James novel The Turning Of The Screw, this is a modern telling of the darkly gothic horror thriller about a young governess who is hired by a man who has become responsible for his young nephew and niece after the deaths of their parents. The film stars one of my favorite actresses, Blade Runner 2049’s Mackenzie Davis and two young stars in Stranger Things’ Finn Wolfhard and The Florida Project’s brilliant lead Brooklynn Prince, so it has a great backbone of acting that has me very interested in this. It is directed by Floria Sigismondi who follows up her only other feature film The Runaways with this one so I expect it to be stylish, like the many music videos she has directed for The White Stripes, David Bowie and more.

The Last Full Measure – Let’s head back to World War II for this new film from writer and director Todd Robinson, a filmmaker usually known for documentaries. Starring Sebastian Stan, Samuel L. Jackson, Christopher Plummer and Peter Fonda in his final onscreen performance, this is the story of Airman William H. Pitsenbarger, Jr., also known as “Pits”, a hero who is awarded the nation’s highest military honor for his actions on the battlefield thirty-four years afterwards. What has me really interested is the film was shot by cinematographer Byron Werner who shot an episode of Hulu’s Into The Dark called Culture Shock, a thought-provoking episode written and directed by local filmmaker Gigi Saul Guerrero. (Not opening in Hamilton, Kamloops or Oshawa)

Color Out Of Space – This movie is a sweet cinema story just in its mere existence as it is the return of director and screenwriter Richard Stanley in a narrative feature role since he was fired from The Island Of Doctor Moreau by Paramount in 1996. Even better, the movie is an H.P. Lovecraft adaptation led by a Nicolas Cage performance that is completely unhinged from the get-go. The movie follows a family whose world is thrown into chaos when a meteor crashes on their farm, emitting a sinister purple hue and changing the world around them. This movie is unsettling and awe-inspiring with its look and execution, Stanley getting right back into that unique style he exhibited with Hardware and Dust Devil. This movie is definitely not for everyone but if you loved Cage in Mandy as I did, you will love this movie. (Only opening in Toronto, Edmonton and Vancouver)

Cunningham – Usually documentaries are a great conduit to subjects, places and people we wouldn’t have learned about otherwise, exposing us to art and ideology that are completely new to us. That is definitely the case with this new film which gives the story of Merce Cunningham, an American dancer and choreographer who was at the forefront of modern dance for seventy years creating over seven hundred unique productions. The film is told in the avante garde style that Cunningham emitted, although he even says that he never considered himself that at all, this was just the free flow of his mind. Maybe it’s my lack of foreknowledge of Cunningham’s work or the inaccessibility of the movie at times but I just couldn’t get into this movie and felt like it really did nothing for me outside of the interesting work he did with Andy Warhol, the highlight of the movie for me. Dance fans should pick up on this one. (Only opening in Toronto and Vancouver)

Nomad: In The Footsteps Of Bruce Chatwin – The great thing about Werner Herzog’s documentaries is that their infused with his peculiar and very original personality in so many ways that it gives the viewer a deeper understanding of the filmmaker’s journey and state of mind as he almost fuses himself with the project. This film is a very personal film for Herzog as he explores the life of a close friend of his, renowned travel journalist Bruce Chatwin, who passed away in 1990 from AIDS. Herzog takes his friend’s writings and goes place to place to get a sense of the emotion Chatwin was feeling at the time and it also works it’s way through the blueprint of Herzog’s filmography at the time as well. This film has an utter fascination to it that can only be heightened by the sheer scope of this great German director. (Only opening in Toronto and Vancouver)

Blu-Ray:

Zombieland: Double Tap – Roughly ten years ago I remember sitting in the theater laughing my ass off at the debut of director Ruben Fleisher, Zombieland, a fresh and funny rejuvenation of the zombie genre the kickstarted the undead for another couple of years. Written by a then-unknown Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, seven years before Deadpool would catapult them to where they are now, they gave us the characters of Columbus, Tallahassee, Wichita, and Little Rock who return to the screen after ten years of survival in the post-apocalypse, planning a more permanent move into America’s heartland while also dealing with a new threat of evolved zombies. More survivors join the pack, with new cast members Rosario Dawson and Zoey Deutch who damn near steals the movie. This movie is one of those rare sequels that manages to celebrate its predecessor but also gives us a reason to see these characters that is worth it plus these actors seem to have so much fun together which translates on screen.

The Addams Family – Its been around twenty-five years since Barry Sonnenfeld brought the classic television family of The Addams Family to the big screen so why not get a reboot but in animated form this time. The voice cast is pretty impressive for this film, featuring fan-favorite and requested Oscar Isaac as Gomez, Charlize Theron as Morticia, Chloe Grace Moretz as Wednesday, a pivotal role, Stranger Things star Finn Wolfhard as Pugsley and Nick Kroll as Uncle Fester, which is a hilarious connection to the directors Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan who made Sausage Party their last time out. I want to have faith in this movie because I really love The Addams Family but its pretty tough as it got slaughtered by critics.

Pain And 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.

Countdown – Decisive horror can sometimes be a huge problem as we’ve seen some real crap with Truth Or Dare and the first Happy Death Day but sometimes it works out, as some of the Final Destination movies are fun. This film has a nurse downloading an app that claims to predict the moment a person will die and tells her she only has three days to live. With the clock ticking and a figure haunting her, she must find a way to save her life before time runs out. The film is the directorial debut of Justin Dec, so there was some hope that with the vision of a new storyteller and utilizing a young cast including Anne Winters from 13 Reasons Why and Charlie McDermott from The Middle we might get something of substance. Nope. In a crushing defeat, this movie is full of cliches and nonsensical jump scares, some of them even repeated over and over. Utter trash.

Black And Blue – There really wasn’t any sort of ad campaign or push behind this movie but the cast seemed interesting enough to garner some clout as it stars the always phenomenal Naomie Harris who toplines this crime thriller. She plays a rookie police officer in New Orleans who has to balance her identity as a black woman with her role as a police officer when she witnesses other police officers committing murder. Unfortunately, the film comes from director Deon Taylor who’s last outing The Intruder almost felt like a parody with Dennis Quaid turning in a ridiculous performance that was supposed to be menacing.I just have zero faith in this filmmaker who can’t see the ridiculous stereotypes in his execution and it doesn’t look like he’s learning from his mistakes at all.

I See You – Wait, there’s a crime thriller starring Helen Hunt and I’m just hearing about it now? What the hell? The movie follows Jon Tenney’s character, a small town detective who is investigating the disappearance of a local boy which puts him in the crosshairs of expectation from the entire town at a time that he is experiencing major family problems. The film is the second feature from director Adam Randall who follows up his debut Netflix feature iBoy with this first script from actor Devon Graye. The reviews call this an effective blend of scares and suspense making it a slow-building mystery worth watching.

Summer Days With Coo – In my never-ending quest to get a foothold in anime as a genre, I may have found a film that connected with me a bit and its this little feature that was made in 2007 and not released on Blu-ray until now. The story follows a mythical water creature called a kappa which survives being buried for three hundred years and is unearthed by a boy who deals with daily bullying. His luck starts to change when he befriends this new creature named Coo until the townspeople and media get wind of the reemergence of this ancient being, raising concern and fear from its mere existence. First off, this is not a kid’s movie in any way as the film starts off with the brutal killing of Coo’s father at the hands of a samurai. It has some great themes to it but has moments of pure darkness that will be hard to explain to the kids. Secondly, Coo is pretty much naked for the whole movie with his dangle hanging out. A little unsettling but I still found myself the movie as a whole.

Steve’s Blu-Ray Geek Out:

The Limits Of Control – Jim Jarmusch is a filmmaker that I will always hold a certain reverence in my cinema heart for, like Lynch, Cronenberg and Herzog, directors who are a genre all on their own. Each has their niche actors, cinematographers and trademarks and Jarmusch always has this somber and laid back vibe to all of his films and it usually includes Tilda Swinton, Bill Murray or Tom Waits and, a lot of the time, all three. This movie fits that mould perfectly, centred around a mysterious loner played by Ghost Dog’s Isaach De Bankole who is in the process of completing a criminal job. The job sends him to Madrid and into a world of confusion and a cast of strangers played by Paz de la Huerta, John Hurt, Gael Garcia Bernal and, of course, Swinton and Murray, and to make matters worse. he doesn’t speak a word of Spanish. This is Jarmusch with the quirk turned way up so proceed with caution.

Voice Of The Eagle: The Enigma Of Robbie Basho – The irony of receiving this movie is the real enigma of what it was all about as the cover simple just has this man Robbie Basho just sitting on a horse, nothing more than that. Upon deeper research, this is the story of an American guitarist, singer and self-proclaimed mystic who has a massive influence which laid the foundations for radical changes to the musical landscape of America during the 1960s and ’70s, paving a road to the success he never saw before his bizarre death from a chiropractor session. The film features a handful of interviews with a bunch of musicians that Basho’s style had an effect on like The Who’s Pete Townsend but also includes previously uncovered archive material and photography of the landscapes and natural phenomena that informed his life work.

Television:

Star Trek – Picard: Season 1 (Amazon Prime) – Everyone has been waiting for this return series featuring one of the most popular Star Fleet captains ever and, in my opinion, the best captain as Sir Patrick Stewart slips back into the chair as Jean-Luc Picard for a brand new series. Set 18 years after his last appearance in Star Trek: Nemesis, the show finds him deeply affected by the death of Data from the events of that film as well as by the destruction of Romulus as referenced in the J.J. Abrams reboot which has me slightly confused. Wasn’t that storyline called the “Kelvin” line? Oh well, I’m still excited.

Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina: Part 3 (Netflix) – The third piece of this story hits Netflix for all the rabid fans of this show and I think it’s deservedly so because honestly this show kind of rocks. Former Mad Men star Kiernan Shipka is perfectly cast as the title star, a girl that is half human and half witch and constantly finds herself torn between those worlds, trying to keep evil at bay while still maintaining the life of a normal teenager. The show plays the gothic themes so well and the direction and cinematography matches it with so many great nods to classic horror tropes and the supporting cast of Lucy Davis and Miranda Otto as Aunt Hilda and Zelda will always keep me watching.

Curb Your Enthusiasm: Season 10 (HBO) – Larry David returns for more cringe awkwardness as the heightened version of himself in one of the greatest comedy series ever made in my opinion. The new season has Larry offending everyone by wearing a MAGA hat as a people repellent and getting into some #MeToo trouble as well. The quirks are always so present in this series that has gotten it’s legs by how much Larry consistently puts his foot in his mouth or goes off on a viscous rant at the complete wrong time and it really seems to have endeared himself to us. Is Larry David a hero? Maybe in comedy, not with thus character though, not at all.

Project Blue Book: Season 2 (History) – We don’t have anything like The X-Files anymore but this is kind of keeping it close and, in my opinion, is keeping the History Channel from teetering off the cliff into really bad reality shows. The show features former Game Of Thrones bad guy Aidan Gillen as a skeptical scientist and a tough US Air Force officer who investigate UFO and alien conspiracies as the grip of Cold War paranoia starts to ramp up to a fever pitch. The show comes from a first time showrunner and the first season really surprised me with its mystery and detailed approach which I hope continues through its sophomore season.

Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens: Season 1 (Much) – An actress on fire right now, except for the Oscars who clearly have their thumbs up their asses, Awkwafina is worth every moment you are going to give her. This show is very different than what she is being celebrated for right now, The Farewell, The show has her playing Nora, a Flushing, New York native who is trying to figure out her life as a young adult with the help of her dad and grandmother. Awkwafina created the show which starts its ten episode run this week and I predict big things for it, maybe hitting the heights that Broad City did, one of my favorite shows of the last ten years. Its a high bar to clear, that’s for sure.

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