Steve Stebbing

Breaking down all things pop culture

New on VOD:

Greyhound – One really disappointing thing that feels very selfish of me to say as a movie fan is that COVID-19 robbed us of seeing a possibly incredible new World War II film on the big screen as it was intended. Tom Hanks takes the lead in this film that was produced by Playtone, responsible for the HBO limited series Band Of Brothers and The Pacific, playing an inexperienced U.S. Navy captain who must lead an Allied convoy being stalked by Nazi U-boat wolfpacks. The trailer looks so intense for it but it feels like we are being duped into subscribing to AppleTV+ just to get this movie amongst a kind of weak library. To be honest though, this is Tom Hanks and I’ll buy it anyways, I have everything else.

You Should Have Left – Let’s face it, besides Friday The 13th, A Stir Of Echoes and arguably Hollow Man, Kevin Bacon’s horror run hasn’t been memorable but neither has that of his co-star for this film, Amanda Seyfried. They take another kick at the can for this horror mystery about a screenwriter who travels to a remote house in Wales with his family so that he can write the sequel to his big hit film. Settling in, he begins to regret his decision after suffering from a severe case of writer’s block which starts to mess with his psyche. The film comes from writer and director David Koepp who isn’t a stranger to horror films about writer’s block as he adapted Stephen King’s Secret Window over a decade ago with Johnny Depp. This trailer has atmosphere so I’m interested.

Mr. Jones – In the current world climate of journalists being under attack almost constantly for whistleblowing and calling out atrocities, this film is a stark reminder that this is not a new battle and it has been going on for close to a hundred years or more. Happy Valley star James Norton plays the title character, Garet Jones, an Australian born journalist living in Europe in the early 1930s who had just been granted an interview with a rising German leader named Adolf Hitler. Alarmed by his plans of conquest, Jone heads into the Soviet Union to hopefully bolster an opposition with strength but quickly finds himself in their crosshairs as well after uncovering secrets about the hollodor under Stalin’s brutal regime. The film is a hard hitting story of atrocities and how they burn a hole in your soul and the lengths one man will go through to open the eyes of those who need to see it. Very well done and beautifully shot.

You Don’t Nomi – Definitely regarded at the time as one of the worst movies of all time, Showgirls is a film that lives in infamy as it took then sweet as pie Saved By The Bell actress Elizabeth Berkley and put her in the role of Nomi, a rural girl looking to make her mark on the Las Vegas strip as an exotic dance and, let’s face it, the movie is batshit insane and director Paul Verhoeven and writer Joe Ezterhaus should hold the blame for that. This documentary is about the deep cult adoration that developed over time for this movie as well as it’s Hollywood history at the time of it’s release. As a movie fan, this movie astounded me but as a viewer who snuck into this movie at the age of thirteen, it feels like a full circle moment.

Blu-Ray:

Impractical Jokers The Movie – After seven seasons of hijinx on TruTV in the United States, Bryan Quinn, Sal Vulcano, James Murray and Joe Gatto make their leapto the big screen for a the largest money road trip movie that their network and producers at Funny Or Die can afford. Trying to give the main thread of this film so semblance of a plot, the story starts with the guys recreating their “meeting” at a Paula Abdul concert in the mid nineties on Staten Island. Now, in present day, the guys hear of a Paula Abdul show in Miami and know their fate is to crash it again. The guys pack into Q’s old Caprice and road trip down while having an outrageous prank competition the whole time. This movie was hilarious from start to finish and as a guy who has never watched the show I really think this made me a fan.

The Lodge – It feels like I’ve been waiting forever for Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz to follow up their incredible debut horror thriller Goodnight Mommy and did they ever come through with their first English language film, a movie that can now be included in the “holiday horror” pantheon, as it does take place just before Christmas. The story follows two kids and their soon to be stepmother who find themselves snowed in at a remote holiday lodge. As the days pass, she finds herself more and more paranoid as strange things start to transpire and the evenings get more and more sleepless, drudging up things in her mind of her tumultuous and brutal past as part of a cult run by her father. Riley Keough’s performance in this film is absolutely riveting, perching you on the edge of your seat throughout. This isn’t your most conventional horror story but it will definitely leave a mark.

LEGO DC: Shazam! Magic and Monsters – Look, if you need to calm the kids down and have them shut up and stare at the television screen for about an hour and a half, you really can’t go wrong with throwing on a Lego movie and as good as the theatrical ones are, like the kick off blockbuster, it’s sequel and the Batman and Ninjago spinoffs, the original films they have been making direct to video are still pretty entertaining, even if they don’t have the big star draw that the big screen ones do. This new one continues the Magic and Monsters line of stories and follows boy hero Shazam who is offered a membership in the Justice League, Reluctant about it his decision is rushed along when his rivals, the Monster Society, put the League in peril he’s the only one who can save them. As I said, the kids will love it and it might be entertaining enough that you the parent won’t want a lobotomy. That’s a win/win right there.

The Quarry – This movie was a surprise out of nowhere as I had never heard of it yet it has always accomplished Michael Shannon starring in it, one of my favorites, and one of the most underrated actors today, Shea Whigham who has astounded in television shows like Boardwalk Empire as well as big movies like The Wolf Of Wall Street and The Silver Linings Playbook. This film has Whigham as a drifter who murders a traveling pastor and assumes his role as the new man of faith in their town. Curious about his demeanor then suspicious of his validity, Michael Shannon plays the town sheriff who rapidly closes in on his real identity as the body of his victim is just waiting to be found. Both men deliver in this film as usual. The plot moves in what feels like three separate motions but the meet up is explosive and writer and director Scott Teems has such a great command of it.

Friday The 13th – Alongside Halloween which was released just a couple years before it, this film is one of the biggest heavyweights in horror and spawned one of the most popular subgenres within that, the slasher film. We all know this story by now, right? Counsellors return to open the summer spot of Camp Crystal Lake which was closed due to a horrific tragedy when a young deformed boy named Jason Voorhees drowned due to negligence. One by one, each teen is picked off by a vicious killer in all sorts of inventive ways and the reveal of who is behind it is still pretty iconic because it’s not who you think. Heck, the wrong answer got Drew Barrymore killed in Scream. Now celebrating it’s fortieth anniversary, this new edition comes in a beautifully crafted steelbook and I have a real love for those. That said, if you already picked up the full blu-ray collection, you already have this disc.

Steve’s Blu-Ray Geek-Out:

Sound! Euphonium: The Movie – Our Promise: A Brand New Day – More anime? Yes, I guess I’m a glutton for the punishment of language barriers, genre confusions and wacky storylines because not only have I roped myself into another anime adventure but this title feels like it came out of a crazy person’s fever dream. This movie is the follow up to a 2015 film and is the continued adventures of Kumiko Oumae and her classmates as they enter their second year of school after she found her drive in life, recovering from being apathetic to everything and everyone. I have to say that this one flew right over my head and not just because I haven’t seen the first film I’m an anime newbie but because the drama side of this medium just doesn’t work for me as it feels painfully overdramatic. Maybe this is where I’m finding my footing with this animation style, in identifying what I don’t like.

The Blackout: Invasion Earth – When Shout Factory picks up something for distribution it can be a myriad of productions, either an IFC Midnight horror movie from North America, home produced films from their Scream Factory and films like this, a Russian sci-fi looking for world wide distribution which can be good or bad. This one lands somewhere in the middle because it is ambitious, plays on that love for Call Of Duty but also plays on that Halo video game type lore that draws people in. The only thing is the film feels bloated and long to the point of boredom and lost me pretty quickly in, even if the story is pretty cool, taking place in a rapidly destroyed Eastern Europe, obviously. It’s interesting to note that Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda wrote a song for this foreign production.

Action Of The Tiger – Going back to 1957 with this new blu-ray reissue from Warner Archive and, although he doesn’t appear on the cover or in top billing at all, this is a big film for now legendary and retired actor Sean Connery who met director Terence Young on this movie and the two went on to make Doctor No afterwards, kicking of one of the greatest and longest running franchises of all time. The film Carson, played by Van Jonson, an American contraband runner who is approached by Tracy, a French woman who wants him to help rescue her brother from Albania where he is being held as a political prisoner. The female lead, Martine Carol, said that this film would have been more impressive if Connery had replaced Johnson who was criticized for being totally wooden in this performance. It all seemed to work out anyways in the legendary Scotsman’s favor.

Tin Cup – Kevin Costner did the baseball thing multiple times but this golf film still gets listed on a lot of lists of favorite sports movies and it’s no wonder why as Costner is once again led director Ron Shelton who made Bull Durham with him eight years prior and hit box office gold with it. This film, for those who don’t remember, has Costner playing a washed up and a bit unhinged pro golfer who is pushed to try and qualify for the U.S. Open by his new girlfriend, played by the wonderful Rene Russo. This movie might actually be one of my favorite Costner comedies because I absolutely love his character in this as it’s really hard to not fall in love with Roy McAvoy. I would even be more than okay with a sequel to this as he gets ready to move into the senior’s division. Hey, why not, right?

The Vinyl Revival – With the sales of vinyl surging in the last decade or so, it seems that we have entered a new great age of music collecting and, as a collector myself, I couldn’t be happier. Coming from director Pip Piper, who has an awesome name and outlined rapid rise of record shops in the 1960’s, 70s and 80’s in the film Last Shop Standing eight years ago, this documentary gives a deeper inside to why this medium which was once considered passe by mainstream music buyers has now hit a different echelon and expanded the empire. The film features interviews with Graham Jones, Phil Selway and Adrian Utley and is a fascinating watch, if not a little under produced.

Television:

Bully. Coward. Victim. The Story of Roy Cohn (Crave) – Just last year we were given the documentary Where’s My Roy Cohn about lawyer Roy Cohn and his rise to prominence and the evil he devended, possibly perpotrated and forced others to. Hell, he even gave his whole playbook to Donald Trump who is using it right at this very moment. Needless to say, the guy makes my blood boil just thinking about him and the good thing is the way he went out of this life is kind of fitting. I’m ranting so let’s move on. This new documentary is a telling of Roy Cohn’s story again but through the lens of an HBO filter as it also includes the creation of the Tony Award winning stage production of Angels In America which Cohn is a central character in. Al Pacino went on to play him in the HBO adaptation of that and it went on to win five Golden Globes. Another needless thing to say, this looks fantastic.

Wasp Network (Netflix) – This movie definitely caught my eye with hotter than lava actress Ana De Armas leading the way, a must see talent after her work in Blade Runner 2049 and Knives Out, and I know this will be a redemption for Edgar Ramirez just a week after the truly awful The Last Days Of American Crime. This film comes from one of my favorite filmmakers Olivier Assayas and, while I’m disappointed with the lack of Kristen Stewart after Clouds Of Sils Maria and Personal Shopper, this looks like another masterpiece. Based on true events, this film follows the story of five Cuban political prisoners who had been imprisoned by the United States since the late 1990s on charges of espionage and murder. The supporting cast of this movie features Penelope Cruz Narcos own Escobar, Wagner Moura and Gael Garcia Bernal and was shot by two different cinematographers, the usual Assayas guy Yorick Le Saux and Denis Lenoir who shot Mia Hansen-Love’s incredibly beautiful party film, Eden.

Love, Victor: Season 1 (Crave) – I don’t think anyone knew how big the teen comedy Love, Simon starring Nick Robinson would be when it came out but it sort of blew up and now we get this spinoff series that definitely went through a myriad of changes in it’s journey. While the original movie followed Simon, the keeper of everyone’s secrets including his own big one, this changes gears and focuses on Victor, a new student at Creekwood High School on his own journey of self-discovery, facing challenges at home, adjusting to a new city, and struggling with his sexual orientation. Grabbing hold of the LGBTQ+ banner and flying with it, I really hope the heart and soul of the film survives in this new medium because I felt it was truly special. Hoping for the best on this one.

Dads (AppleTV+) – Directed by actress turned filmmaker Bryce Dallas Howard who has already astounded with her episode of The Mandolrian, this new documentary is being released at the best time as we head into the Father’s Day weekend. Of course utilizing the help of her own father, the accomplished filmmaker Ron Howard, this film explores the contemporary concept of fatherhood through anecdotes and wisdom from famous funnymen such as Will Smith, Jimmy Fallon, Neil Patrick Harris, and more. Combined with stories of non-celebrity dads from different parts of the world like Brazil, Japan and the United States, we get a glimpse at how modern parenting is creating new models of patriarchy. It’s funny, heartwarming, and gives many moments for introspection of our own parenting.

7500 (Amazon Prime) – A movie that flew under my radar before this week, pun I guess intended because it takes place on a plane, but I’m really happy I got a tailwind of it because it has Joseph Gordon Levitt in it which I feel like I’ve been lacking in movies for a little bit. He plays the pilot of an airliner that is hijacked by terrorists and 7500 is the airline code for this kind of incident. This is a pretty much one location thriller that has Levitt’s character battling for control of the cockpit, barring the door for anyone’s entry and the trailer looks very intense. The film comes from writer and director Patrick Vollrath, who was actually nominated for an Oscar four years ago for Best Short Film, makes his feature film debut here as well as his first English language movie.

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