Steve Stebbing

Breaking down all things pop culture

As heard on The J’Lyn Nye Show on 630 CHED in Edmonton, here’s a breakdown of the things to get you through at least the weekend!

Television:

Ozark: Season 3 (Netflix) – This is definitely a hugely anticipated new season, especially now during the lockdown, and it returns with one of the most explosive and fast-paced episodes yet. In case you haven’t dug into the show yet, Jason Bateman plays Marty Byrde, a financial advisor in Chicago who is unknowingly been fudging numbers for the cartel, something his business partner hasn’t clued him in on until the finality of being murdered in from of him by the leader of this deadly group. A quick thinker under pressure Marty is able to convince him to spare his life by moving to the remote Ozarks to clean millions for his new boss, presenting an all-new set of problems for him, his wife who is played by the great Laura Linney and his two kids. The show is so phenomenally well done and Bateman himself directs a handful of episodes. Highly recommended if you have immersed yourself in it yet.

Dark Side Of The Ring: Season 2 (Vice) – Vice continues their look into an industry that I have a deep love for, and always have, professional wrestling. Beyond that, this season focuses on a log misunderstood and tragic happening in the mid 2000s, the murder-suicide of Chris Benoit and his family. Narrated by close friend Chris Jericho, widely regarded as the greatest of all time, this series will dispel the rumors and myths that have been attributed to this case as well as shine a light on the possible causes of Benoit’s psychosis that leg to this horrifying act. I’m so happy to see this available on YouTube and am deep in the binge already myself. Totally recommended even if you aren’t a wrestling fan.

Devs (FX) – Coming from the mind of one of the greatest science fiction writers via grounded and real science, Alex Garland running a limited series is really going to turn some heads and from what I’ve seen so far this could be one of the best shows we get this year. The series centers around Lily, a computer engineer who starts an investigation into the secretive development department within her employer when her boyfriend, a fellow employee, disappears. The lead star, Sonoya Mizuno, isn’t exactly a household name, aside from some great work on Cary Fukanaga’s Netflix show Maniac but the mystery of Nick Offerman’s character as the CEO Forest should have everyone watching this.

Feel Good: Season 1 (Netflix) – In a lighter way but heavier on the addiction side, this new series reminds me a bit of Fleabag but without that great Phoebe Waller-Bridge edge. The show is about stand up comedian Mae Martin, a Canadian transplant now living in London. When a regular audience member asks her out on a date, Mae finds herself on a whirlwind romance with the girl of her dreams until the crushing reality of her addiction problem comes to light. This show is definitely a sardonically funny show about damaged people and really revels in it in a great way. I hadn’t heard of Martin before this show but now I’m pretty keen on checking out a full set.

Tiger King (Netflix) – This is one of those too crazy to be true stories but I will let you know right now, it’s all true and I know someone who knows someone that knows this guy. I know! Crazy! This is a docuseries about a gonzo rivalry between big cat eccentrics that takes a dark turn when Joe Exotic, a controversial animal park boss with a glorious blond mullet that would make Hulk Hogan and Dog The Bounty Hunter shake in their boots, is caught in a murder-for-hire plot. This show will make you slackjawed in amazement that people like this actually exist. I felt myself giggling and laughing throughout this bat shit show and I know it has caught on with the world because it is everywhere you look. I highly recommend it!

Westworld: Season 3 (HBO) – After a two year absence we finally get the next piece of this incredible mysterious show that emanated from a 70s Michael Crichton movie. The favorites are all back including Evan Rachel Wood’s Dolores, Jeffrey Wright’s Bernard and Thandie Newton’s Maeve as well as newcomers Aaron Paul and Kid Cudi but what is this season about? Well, showrunners Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan are keeping everything secretive but what we do know is that Bernard and Dolores have been rebuilt outside of the facility so we get to see what this future looks like and I am damn excited for that.

The Plot Against America (HBO) – In a time of heightened and emboldened racism in the U.S. and, heck, around the world, we get this brand new “what if” historical drama from one of the great creators of television today, HBO. Starring Winona Ryder, Zoe Kazan, John Turturro and more, this series follows an alternate timeline America that lives in a world that saw Roosevelt defeated in the 1940 race for presidency by Charles Lindbergh, a man who has strengthened ties to Nazi Germany. A six-episode limited series, this show has great creators behind the camera with The West Wing’s Thomas Schlamme directing the lion’s share and The Wire’s David Simon and Edward Burns writing it. This could be the best miniseries of 2020 so I’d give it a look.

Dirty Money: Season 2 (Netflix) – Master documentarian Alex Gibney’s executive produced docuseries returns for another series of episodes that will raise your blood pressure and have you screaming at your television before directing angry tweets at big businesses. Just me? I doubt it. This series takes aim at corporate frauds that are designed to milk excessive amounts of money out of the general public and largely the lower class. Season one took on scandals like Volkswagen’s “clean” diesel and the gross empire of payday loan companies and this is just the tip of the iceberg. This is an important series to binge through, trust me.

I Am Not Okay With This: Season 1 (Netflix) – It Chapter 1 and 2 stars Sophia Lillis and Wyatt Oleff reunite for this new teen series that has the actress playing a teenaged outcast trying to navigate her life of high school cliques, two-faced friends, potential love interests and a complex family life. Things spiral even more for her when she realizes that she isn’t just dealing with the pitfalls of puberty changing her body but she also has new and unexplained powers to contend with. Coming from the producers of Stranger Things, I dug into this series right away because the angsty nature of the writing really appealed to me and I love creator Jonathan Entwistle’s previous work, The End Of The Fucking World.

Hunters: Season 1 (Amazon Prime) – Jordan Peele executive produces this new show that has a secret group of people who are dedicated to hunting down Nazi war criminals in the seventies and I am so very excited to check it out, something I have been waiting for ever since I saw the first trailer. The cast is phenomenal, led by the Academy Award-winning Al Pacino and featuring Fury’s Logan Lerman, Lena Olin, How I Met Your Mother’s Josh Radnor and more, this might be that new Amazon series that catches fire like Marvelous Mrs. Maisel or Jack Ryan. Don’t quote me on this but the show looks awesome enough to hook a large audience.

Movies:

Slay The Dragon (VOD) – During this time of self-containment and quarantine, it’s a time where we are binge-watching all different television series and catching u on movies but it is also an opportunity to learn and expand our minds which is exactly what this documentary did for me. The film tells the story of the Voters Not Politicians party that was started in Michigan for the express purpose of ending gerrymandering in America, a political strategy of grouping voters into districts that would ensure victories for the Republican Party GOP. I learned some of the basics of this democracy shredding act on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver but this film brings it home in a way that shows how this directly affects every working American and the generations to come. In my opinion, this is a massively important film that should be mandatory in the education of the whole nation especially heading into an election.

Vivarium (VOD) – This movie is totally something geared to my twisted likes as it feels like one of those nightmare Twilight Zone episodes and I ate up every second of it. Imogen Poots and Jesse Eisenberg star as Gemma and Tom, a sweetheart couple looking to purchase their first home together. Stepping into a condo sales store, they have a very unsettling meeting with a salesman who implores them to get in their car to follow him to the neighborhood itself. Guided into a disturbingly uniform community that looks like it was designed on a computer, the salesman disappears, abandoning them in a maze of condos they can’t leave and that’s just the setup. Poots’ performance in this film is astounding as she starts to crumble with the reality around her and the direction from Lorcan Finnegan is fantastically striking all the way up until the end. This may be a total niche movie but I thoroughly loved it.

The Hunt (VOD) – The movie that got the right all riled up before anyone had ever seen a single frame of it finally gets its release day after getting removed in September of last year and the ad campaign seems to be taking advantage of that as its tagline is “The Most Talked About Movie of the Year is One That No One’s Actually Seen”. Perfect. The movie stars GLOW’s Betty Gilpin, Blockers’ Ike Barinholtz and a slimed down Ethan Suplee in a story about twelve strangers who wake up bound and gagged in a clearing, the fodder for a manhunt in which the rich elite will kill each of them for sport. Kind of like a big version of the Ice-T action flick Surviving The Game from the mid-nineties, Compliance director Craig Zobel’s latest seemed to tickle the offended nature of the Fox News crowd and I doubted that we’d ever see it.

The Invisible Man (VOD) – The Dark Universe from Universal Pictures may have died a dismal death after the failure of Tom Cruise’s The Mummy but from the ashes of that mess this property was floated over to Blumhouse and they put filmmaker Leigh Whannell, one-half of the minds behind Saw, at the helm of it and the final result is absolutely fantastic. Elisabeth Moss stars as the survivor of an abusive relationship who believes the news of her ex’s suicide is a hoax and this is reinforced when she realizes that she is being hunted by an unseen force. This movie is awesome, thrilling, unpredictable and always able to get under your skin by simply panning over to an “empty” side of the room. Whannell is quickly rising up the ranks of must-see filmmakers and it is so deserved.

Onward (Disney+) – Disney and Pixar are back with their next most likely award-nominated feature, pairing the very likeable duo of Tom Holland and Chris Pratt in the lead roles. Set in a world where fantasy elements like orcs, gnomes, unicorns and other mythical creatures exist in a modern world, this story follows two brothers who find a mysterious magical staff that belonged to their late father. After a spell cast through the staff resurrects the bottom half of Dad, they must embark on an adventure to find the real magic still remaining on the world to bring their family back together. This movie is really funny and has some great world-building, as Pixar needs a new franchise to put its hat on, and the heart of this story is displayed prominently on its sleeve. The whole family is going to love this movie and it definitely needs a rewatch for all of the “easter eggs” to be found.

Portrait Of A Lady On Fire (VOD) – I really wish I had seen this movie at the Vancouver International Film Festival or at least before the end of the year as it definitely would have made my “Best of 2019” list because this movie is an absolutely astounding film and has a final scene that will resonate with me cinematically for the rest of my life. The film takes place at the end of the eighteenth century and follows Marianne, a painter employed to do a portrait of the daughter of a rich aristocrat. As the sessions go on, the two women fall in love with each other, a forbidden secret that could destroy both of their lives. Noémie Merlant and Adèle Haenel are incredible together in this film, a clinic in how just one glance can say volumes.

Daniel Isn’t Real (Shudder) – Coming from director Adam Egypt Mortimer, the filmmaker who did the highly entertaining “New Year’s Eve” segment of the anthology film Holidays, this movie is one I’m hearing some great buzz about. Based on a novel of the same name, this film is about a troubled college freshman who suffers a violent family trauma and brings back his childhood imaginary friend Daniel as a coping mechanism. The film stars Halloween and Blockers actor Miles Robbins as the lead character, Patrick Schwarzenegger as the title character and the great Sasha Lane in a supporting role and is just the kind of genre film that intrigues me greatly. The movie is described as a slick mind twist of a thriller that is well pieced together and totally stylish.

This Is The End (Crave) – Probably a little dark to bring a movie like this at a time like now but it’s one of the greatest satire comedies ever made in my opinion, taking pretty much everyone you’ve ever loved that worked for Judd Apatow and a few others and throws those actors into a global apocalypse playing themselves. There really is nothing better than that. Our main group of Jay Baruchel, Seth Rogan, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson and Danny McBride all find themselves partying at James Franco’s house when holes in the earth start opening up and people start falling to their deaths in hell leading this sextet on a mission of survival as the last stragglers on Earth. I saw this movie twice in theaters so I definitely had to pic this blu-ray up which features commentary, alternate lines and a gag reel which is gold from these guys but, hey, it is streaming for everyone else!

Mustang (Criterion Channel) – One of the greatest international films from the last decade, this is a movie that is begging to be seen and heard. Guaranteed to drain every tear out of your body, as it did a friend of mine who I brought to the original screening, this is the story of five orphaned Turkish girls who are sold off in marriage by their guardians. This is a beautiful and heartbreaking film of sisterhood and the destruction of innocence, a movie that will leave its mark on you like a belt lashing. This movie was nominated for an Oscar but ultimately lost to Son Of Saul in a year of incredibly tough competition. The release was bobbled badly here in Canada so this is a great opportunity to check it out.

A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon (Netflix) – I have made it no secret that I adore everything Aardman puts out. Just like Laika Studios, their films have an original charm to them that I love on a consistent level and I know that extends to my kids as well because every time I put on one of the movies they are immediately captivated. One of the favorites is Shaun The Sheep, the television series being a big hit and that last movie is absolutely adorable. Now we get the return to the big screen of Shaun and his farm friends, this time the gang encountering an alien with amazing powers who crash-lands at their home and pushes everyone to go on a mission to shepherd the intergalactic visitor home before a sinister organization can capture her. This is exactly everything the trailer sets it up to be, nothing more, nothing less, but damn it looks enjoyable.

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