New To VOD:
Irresistible – John Stewart channels some of his justified rage into his second directed feature film but unlike the last true story drama he made last time he is playing into the comedy satire with hopefully better results. Starring Steve Carrell and Rose Byrne, the film focuses on a Democratic political strategist who works the campaign for a retired veteran’s bid for mayor of a small right-wing Wisconsin town. After the Democratic National Committee’s top strategist Gary (Steve Carell) sees a video of a retired Marine colonel (Chris Cooper) standing up for the rights of his town’s undocumented workers, Gary believes he has found the key to winning back the Heartland. However, the Republican National Committee counters him by sending in his brilliant nemesis Faith (Rose Byrne) and a local race quickly becomes a fight for the soul of America. This movie has the potential to be one of the funniest movies of the year in a subject that really needs it right now.
Hammer – Bubbling under the surface for years, Will Patton is an actor that is constantly the best supporting piece in his movies, from The Postman to Gone In 60 Seconds to Armageddon and in this new indie thriller he really gets the chance to shine. Co-starring Ready Or Not’s Mark O’Brien, Patton plays a father who faces a personal crisis when he discovers his estranged son fleeing a botched drug deal. Feeling the need to save him, the two men embark on a violent odyssey that reinvests them into each others lives. The film is getting fantastic reviews and will hopefully put writer and director Christian Sparkes on the map of up and coming filmmakers.
Exit Plan – It feels like it’s been forever since Game Of Thrones ended, making it a long time since we saw the disappointing end to the character arc of Jamie Lannister but now Nikolaj Coster Waldau takes the lead in this new mystery, alongside a British favorite, Shaun Of The Dead’s Kate Ashfield, and Tuva Novotny who I really liked in Alex Garland’s Annihilation. Jamie… sorry, Nikolaj plays Max, a guy in the midst of an existential crisis who is looking to solve a cold case and checks into the clandestine Hotel Aurora, impressively enigmatic and secretive facility that specializes in elaborate assisted suicide fantasies. His investigation uncovers a disturbing truth that forces Max to question the very nature of life, death and his own perception of reality, so thus a movie that I am all about. The movie comes from Lars Von Trier protege Jonas Alexander Arnby who’s last film When Animals Dream was a brilliant little bit of body horror. This one is going to be awesome.
Portrait Of A Lady On Fire – 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.
The Postcard Killings – You would think that with the red hot appeal of Negan from The Walking Dead that a Jeffrey Dean Morgan movie would get some top representation but I really didn’t hear about this new mystery until a few weeks ago. The film follows Morgan as a New York detective investigating the death of his daughter who was murdered while on her honeymoon in London. He recruits the help of a Scandinavian journalist, played by The Good Wife actress Cush Jumbo, as other couples throughout Europe suffer a similar fate at the hands of a bloodthirsty killer. The film comes from Academy Award winner Danis Tanovic who made the incredible No Man’s Land in 2001 so I hope this is great too.
The Legion – Judging this movie by it’s cover, something we are implicitly warned not to do with books, I’m a bit worried that it might be absolute crap as it top bills Mickey Rourke and Bai Ling who don’t appear on the cover. A swords and blood movie set against a fall of Rome landscape, the story centers around Noreno, played by newcomer Lee Partridge, a half-Roman who is entrusted with the mission of crossing the snowy mountains of Armenia with Parthian patrols hot on his tail to seek help for his slowly dying men. Both Rourke and Ling have made horrendous movie choices and financial decisions in their past so I’m thinking this one might be a dud.
South Park: Season 23 – One thing I get excited for still after over twenty years is South Park because I feel like the show has never missed a beat. This season is similar to the new direction in the show that has been going on for probably five years now, featuring continuing elements and a recurring storyline, most the way through, lampooning ICE detention centers, the 2019 film Joker, media censorship in China, the anti-vaccine movement, plant-based food, the Trump Administration, transgenderism in athletics, and the competition between traditional cable television and media streaming. South Park is still unabashedly South Park and I love it.
Steve’s Blu-Ray Geek-Outs:
An Unmarried Woman – A brand new Criterion edition landed on shelves a few weeks ago and I had to get my eyes on it because these editions are the ultimate presentation of some of the greatest cinema out there. This film comes from acclaimed writer and director Paul Mazursky and follows a wealthy woman from Manhattan’s Upper East Side who struggles to deal with her new identity and her sexuality after her husband of sixteen years leaves her for a younger woman. The film, released in the late 70s, would get Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Actress for Dame Jill Clayburgh who astounds in her performance and Mazursky himself for best original screenplay. This is well worth checking out.
The Queen – With Pride month more than halfway through, Kino Lorber releases the first hi-definition version of this classic documentary from the late sixties that definitely was taboo at the time of filming and it’s original theatrical release. The film is a behind the scenes look at a national drag queen contest in New York City and includes the rehearsals leading up to the contest, the conversations in the dressing room and the jealousies that emerge before and after the competition. Audiences had no idea how to receive the film on release but with this new edition hopefully, it will get the exposure it deserves.
Desolation Center – More documentaries to throw your eyeballs at this week because I guess it looks like I’m trying to educate you but this one was too interesting to pass up. This film is the story of a group of 1980s punk artists in Southern California who started organizing and playing desert shows that later inspired Burning Man, Coachella, and Lollapalooza, three major festivals now that bring in fans from all over the world and have taken on their own legends in the decades since. The film features interviews and rare performance footage of Sonic Youth, Minutemen, Meat Puppets, Redd Kross, Einstürzende Neubauten, Survival Research Laboratories, Savage Republic, Swans and more, the ultimate watch for music and movie lovers.
Sweet Bird Of Youth – This movie is kind of the culmination of two immense talents at a great time as it puts Paul Newman in the lead role of a Tennessee Williams written movie, one of the greats and the high bar for stage stories. Newman plays a drifter named Chance Wayne who returns to his hometown after many years of trying to make it in the movies. Travelling with him is a faded film star he picked up along the way, Alexandra Del Lago, played by Geraldine Page, and while trying to get her help to make a screen test, he also finds the time to meet his former girlfriend Heavenly, the daughter of the local politician Tom ‘Boss’ Finley, who was the reason he had to flee town all those years ago. The movie went on to win a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Ed Begley Sr., one of three nominations, all for acting.
Sixteen Candles – An absolute John Hughes classic in every way featuring iconic performances from Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall and Michael Schoeffling, this is a beautiful new collector’s edition from Arrow Video. For those who don’t know, this is about Samantha Baker’s sweet sixteen disaster. Her high school crush doesn’t know she’s alive, her parents forget her birthday and she suffers every humiliation possible through the course of one day. Will things turn around for Sam? Will this turn out to be the best birthday ever? Oh, and also, why the hell haven’t you seen this movie yet if you haven’t?
Eric Andre: Legalize Everything (Netflix) – IT’s stand up comedy time again this week with the insane reverence of Eric Andre, who is, let’s face it, a really acquired taste and is not going to spark anyones interest over forty. This special hilariously starts with Andre impersonating a police officer on the street in front of the theater, drinking and smoking cannabis to throw everyone off and then heads inside for some straight up insanity in New Orleans, tackling flawed fast-food icons, the wonders of autofill and the bizarre choice for the “Cops” theme song because, really, isn’t it a weird song? Why would Inner Circle allow it to be used? Just one of the many questions we should ask ourselves.
Adventure Time: Distant Lands: Season 1 (Crave) – Almost two years after the ending of the original series, a fan favorite that drew a crowd of all ages, we get more adventures with Finn The Human, Jake The Dog and all of their friends but with a little bit of a twist. The new show is more hyper focused on the side stories of characters like BMO, Princess Bubblegum and Marceline the Vampire Queen on their own solo exploits doing heroic things. I’m being vague but I now this will also become a massive success with the fan base because Pendleton Ward has always delivered, including the new series The Midnight Gospel on Netflix with Duncan Trussell.
Search Party: Season 3 (Crave) – I’m going to be honest on this one, I had never heard of it at all and I’m kind of disappointed by that as I’ve been a fan of the lead, Alia Shawkat, ever since I saw Arrested Development over a decade and a half ago. Created by Fort Tilden’s Sarah-Violet Bliss and The State’s Michael Showalter, the series is a single-camera dark comedy about four self-absorbed twenty-somethings who become entangled in an ominous mystery when a former college acquaintance suddenly disappears. Created for the HBO Max service, I think this is the first we get to see this show in Canada now.
The Twilight Zone: Season 2 (CBS All Access) – It seems like everything that Jordan Peele has touched in genre storytelling has turned to gold so why not take the iconic Rod Serling serial series that creeped out the generations before and give it a bold kick in the ass on CBS’s All Access streaming services. I’m unsure if original series classics like “Terror At 30,000 Feet” like the first season but I know that it will include filmmakers like The Endless directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, Gretel & Hansel’s Osgood Perkins and A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night’s Ana Lily Amirpour so you know the atmosphere will be incredible and the star line up includes Joel McHale, Topher Grace, Christopher Meloni and Damon Wayans Jr. I’m really looking forward to this one.
Doom Patrol: Season 2 (Crave) – After a killer first season I know people are chomping at the bit for this new season of a show that not only gives White Collar’s Matt Bomer a really cool role but also gave some new life to 90s star Brendan Fraser who gets that redemption he really deserves. For those who are uninitiated to this DC Comics world, it is a re-imagining of one of DC’s most beloved group of outcast superheroes: Robotman, Negative Man, Elasti-Girl and Crazy Jane, led by modern-day mad scientist Dr. Niles Caulder, also known as The Chief. The series is tied to the cinematic universe by the common character of Cyborg so it’s neat to see exactly where all these stories meet up. Another great show to look forward to this week.