Steve Stebbing

Breaking down all things pop culture

New Releases:

The Adam Project – Those ones there that think the fun and smile-driven success of the action flick Free Guy was just a fluke, well, leading man Ryan Reynolds and director Shawn Levy are back with a new blockbuster to prove that their hit-making combo isn’t a one-time thing. Not only that, as they did with their video game action-comedy, they are tapping into some big-screen nostalgia that is reminiscent of things like Flight Of The Navigator and The Last Starfighter in tone and I ate it all up happily. The film follows Reynolds as a time-travelling pilot who teams up with his twelve-year-old self after accidentally crash-landing in 2022. The mission is to destroy the time travel technology that was created by his father who passed away the year before he arrives. This film was awesome, featuring killer special effects, exhilarating action sequences and another charming performance from Reynolds as well as Catherine Keener and Jennifer Garner and Mark Ruffalo in a 13 Going On 30 reunion. The stand-out is young Walker Scobell who has all of that sarcastic swagger of the guy he’s emulating the junior version of and then some. This is a fantastic film that will satisfy the audiences and give you that Spielberg and Zemeckis feeling you are craving but don’t even know it.

Turning Red – Another Pixar release had been given the direct route to Disney+ this week and, again after Luca, I feel for the people behind this beautiful production because it would have played so wonderfully on the big screen. Even more a bummer, this film is distinctly Canadian as it is a fully Asian story that feels so fresh and original. The story follows a thirteen-year-old girl named Mei Lee who turns into a giant red panda whenever she gets too excited which, as it turns out, is a family tradition she was not informed of. The movie is put together by writer and director Domee Shi who did the Pixar short Bao, a little story that literally brought me to tears in theatres. There are many beautiful moments that will make you well up in this and that third act is gargantuan in stature and in heart as well. The kids will love this one but so will the adults.

Donkeyhead – Family drama is always traumatic in some sense but when a film can’t seem to find the line for being fully dramatic or a comedy, it all gets a bit muddled and confused which is what we have right here. I want to be totally positive about this week’s batch of movies because it largely features Canadian productions but in the interest of transparency I have to be honest and start this by saying I’m on the fence here. The story mainly follows Mona, a failed writer, who carves out a life of isolation while caring for her ailing Sikh father. When he has a debilitating stroke, her three successful siblings show up on her doorstep determined to take control of the situation and start the proceedings to sell the house and prepare his estate for the next step which throws her life into disarray. This story could be triggering for a lot of people, me included having just lost two grandparents but the film can’t seem to find a pulse that doesn’t falter on a dramedy beat. What fascinates me is the different personalities within the Sikh culture but Mona seems so Canadianized that it loses its voice with her. This isn’t to say that this is a bad movie but it certainly feels a bit misguided.

The Wolf & The Lion – Canada is definitely the theme this week and this co-production with France had something even more rooted in our great nation as it also features Graham Greene who just showed up in the hilarious Last One Laughing Canada recently. The film comes from a story idea from director and writer Gilles de Maistre who has a penchant for lions as his last film Mia And The White Lion did some mind-blowing work with the majestic animals that left my jaw on the floor. The film follows a young woman named Alma who decides to go back to her childhood home, after the death of her grandfather, to a little island in the heart of the majestic Canadian forest. While there, she rescues two helpless cubs, a wolf and a lion, and they forge an inseparable bond but their world soon collapses as the forest ranger discovers the animals and takes them away. The two cub brothers must now embark on a treacherous journey across Canada to be reunited with one another and Alma once more. If you love animal movies then this movie will play to all of your sensibilities and once again de Maistre is able to put these wild animals so closely with the human actors, totally baffling me to the process one more time. The drama side and performances from the actual cast are not fantastic but I don’t think that’s where the draw of it lies.

Wildhood – This Canadian-made drama was only really on my radar because of the involvement of actor Michael Greyeyes who I really enjoyed in the zombie survival horror Blood Quantum and now also his upcoming turn in the Firestarter remake from Blumhouse. Not knowing anything about this film, I had no idea of the resonance and identity it has in our current landscape of cultural awareness. The story follows rebellious teenagers who run away from their abusive foster care in search of their identity, to find the eldest, Link’s, mother and heritage as a part of the Mi’kmaw people. As well as being an indigenous story of young people that have been failed by a terrible system, it also acts as an allied voice in the caring and understanding of the LGBTQA+ community and through a lens of not understanding his feelings, as Link displays in the film. This movie did really well at the Toronto International Film Festival and for good reason.

A Grand Romantic Gesture – Romantic comedies are pretty dicey as they largely feel contrived and unoriginal leading me to get a solid orbital workout of rolling my eyes almost constantly. It’s easy to say that the bar is set high and it takes a lot to squeak by my scrutiny and sadly this movie is definitely not it. To be honest, if this was a French film starring Isabelle Huppert I would be all over it because it works to that international degree. The film follows a woman who is encouraged by her husband and daughter to take up a class like cooking when she unexpectedly loses her job. Not quite gelling with the culinary world, she ends up taking a drama class where she falls head over heels for the leading man in the room and creates chaos in her home life. The film stars Gina McKee, a British actress who has done great work in films like Phantom Thread and Atonement, but this movie is pretty much just fluff with no substance in it. She deserves better than this bare-bones rom-com.

Scarborough – Another Canadian entry this week, which could easily be deduced by the title, I didn’t expect this movie to grip me as much as it did but deep character films involving kids do that and we have had two significant ones this week. The film comes from the triple threat of directors Shasha Nakhai and Rich Williamson and writer Catherine Hernandez who make a hell of a narrative film debut together and I have to say that it comes from their background in documentary filmmaking. Set in Scarborough, Ontario, the story follows three children who become friends while living in a low-income neighbourhood and strive to exist and grow in a system that has forgotten them and, in one case, a horribly abusive father who is destined to lead his daughter to more financial ruin and, worse, possible starvation. This movie hits like an emotional hammer more often than not and it has to be attributed to the life on the street style cinematography that puts you in the classroom, on the streets and in the low-income housing with the characters. Not a lot of people will check this one out as it isn’t really advertised at all but those who do will find a deeply emotional reward.

The Exorcism Of God – The title is terrible and the production levels aren’t great but a well-constructed trailer can do wonders for you and this movie has, possibly, one of the leading ad campaigns to get people’s eyes on this and it would have gotten me for sure if I didn’t already have to watch this for review. The film starts out with an American priest working in Mexico who is possessed during an exorcism and ends up committing a terrible act. Eighteen years later, the consequences of his sin come back to haunt him, unleashing the greatest battle within which turns out to be a more pointed critique on religion and gross-out brutal horror violence. I found myself wondering if it was more intent on being digested as a sort of satire than it was horror in a straightforward manner. It was hard to process what to take seriously.

Ella And The Little Sorcerer – Foreign animated films getting their North American revamps don’t always work out that well box office wise and I really can’t see this new one getting any sort of acclaim either. There isn’t any sort of big actor draw to it at all, It is low budget in its design and it is bafflingly trying to dispel the fact that it is a Cinderella story at its heart which is a family story that has been beaten to death, far past being a dead horse. Simply told, the story follows Ella and her friends who set off on a journey to find the magic potion ingredients to save Prince Alex when is trapped in the body of a mouse. Of course, friendship is the magic as the Little Ponies have always tough us, so of course, you can telegraph that moral but it might just be better to put the film on for the kids and walk away because there’s absolutely no adult merit to this film whatsoever and the target market is glaringly obvious.

Tzouhalem – Getting back to Canadian filmmaking, and specifically documentary storytelling, this is another special one as it is another voice in the indigenous community to shed light on. What I really love about films that come out of these great creators is that they are telling a history that was never shown in school or beyond and feature voices that have largely been silenced in the mainstream. Through interviews and creative re-enactments, this documentary examines the near-mythic figure of Cowichan Chief Tzouhalem, the account of his life from both historians and First Nations Elders, the folkloric tales concerning him, his impact on the modern relationship between the Crown and First Nations, and how his legend remains alive to this day, examining critically how his story has been told and passed down to us. Being First Nations myself, this one hits very close to home as the Cowichan people are tied to my own ancestry with the Shimshan and Haida so this film felt like a little bit of self-discovery as well, something that I have wanted since embracing my heritage through my mother. I’m not sure how broad all of it will be with a regular audience but I really enjoyed it.

Blu-Ray:

The Matrix Resurrections – Even though the last two movies in the original Matrix trilogy are not great, to say the least, the anticipation for his new restart to the franchise was at a fever pitch and the expectations, at least in my eyes, are kind of endless. Did we even know where this could lead or where the jumping point is? Did we know if this is set up for more to come? It was all speculation until we got our eyeballs on this visual feast and, for me, it was all worth it. Loosely speaking on its synopsis we return to a world of two realities, one which is everyday life and the other, the one that lies behind it. To find out if his reality is a construct, to truly know himself, Mr. Anderson will once again have to choose to follow the white rabbit once more. Keanu and Carrie Anne Moss are really the only returning stars from the first films aside from a small role from Jada Pinkett-Smith but it looks just as dazzling as we remember those films to be with slight tweaks to the fight sequences as there was a different choreographer for it. With only Lana directing this film, it has a slightly different feel to it but plays in its own meta-universe to a gleeful degree. I’m so happy that I have this one on blu-ray now as I really think it demands multiple viewings.

A Journal For Jordan – Denzel Washington made two appearances in cinemas around Christmas but this one had him behind the camera for his fourth feature film and one that puts one of the hottest actors today, Michael B. Jordan, in the driver’s seat. What I’m most surprised to see is that this film got slaughtered by critics which is a definite first for any Denzel project, whether he starred in it or directed it. The story follows Jordan as First Sergeant Charles Monroe King who authors a journal for his son, before he is killed in action in Baghdad, intending to tell him how to live a decent life despite growing up without a father. Back at home, senior New York Times editor Dana Canedy (Chanté Adams) revisits the story of her unlikely, life-altering relationship with King and his enduring devotion to her and their child. What I’m seeing online is that the melodrama in the film is so heavy that it almost feels like a made-for-TV drama and far less than the calibre of the star and its director would lend. This is so disappointing but at least we got Denzel and a Coen brother on AppleTV+ to dispel some of that downtrodden feeling.

Redeeming Love – Faith-based melodrama rears its head this week, an inevitability every few weeks but this one is trying to be more progressive, almost to a fault. The big thing that Christian entertainment news outlets are pushing is that this film is one of the few or any religious dramas to have a full-on sex scene in it. More than that, apparently the main characters are actually having sex on the poster but fully clothed and in a lush field of grass and flowers as I’m sure they do every time. Based on the novel by Francine Rivers, this is a powerful story of a young couple’s relationship that clashes with the harsh realities of the California Gold Rush of 1850. It could have been a well-told period piece against the backdrop of a developing America but, like most of the faith-based filmmaking, it is more driven in giving its messages and morals than telling a compelling and well-rounded story. It is also terribly dull and predictable and leaves you looking for the remote to fast forward to more completely clothed sex. Just as God intended.

Coming 2 America – I’m kind of disappointed in the film world for the simple fact that Eddie Murphy’s grand return in the biopic Dolemite Is My Name wasn’t as celebrated as it should have been, a total crowd pleaser and the brilliant role he needed to put himself back on top and for awards accolades to roll in. None of that happened but what we did get is him reteaming with the director, Craig Brewer, to bring us the long-awaited follow-up to a classic John Landis comedy that is still hilarious. The film brings us back to the lush and fictional royal country of Zamunda with newly-crowned King Akeem and his trusted confidante Semmi, played once again by Murphy’s pal Arsenio Hall embarking on an all-new adventure that has them traversing the globe from their great African nation to the borough of Queens, New York, back to where all of his worldly escapades began. Both Murphy and Hall once again don multiple characters in a film that sadly feels like a diminishing return that forgot the heart of the original story, goes for easy gags and jokes and, at times, becomes a muddled mess of morally questionable moments and lacklustre filmmaking from a guy I always praise. I even defended Craig Brewer on Footloose. Yes, I enjoyed that one.

One Shot – Scott Adkins is always going to be that underrated action hero that people will only remember for the small roles in things like The Expendables 2, Doctor Strange and Zero Dark Thirty but the guy has some range and should be utilized on a grander scale. This is definitely not one of the movies to showcase his acting chops as the action thrills are the draw as well as supporting performances from Ryan Phillippe and Ashley Greene. Adkins plays the leader of an elite squad of Navy SEALs who are sent on a covert mission to transport a prisoner off a CIA black site island prison but are quickly and efficiently trapped when insurgents attack while trying to rescue the same prisoner. The action is fast and furious with all of the Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six-style tactical scenes you could want but is warned that the film is incredibly bleak and all bets are off for who survives at the end. To be honest, everyone felt like fodder around Adkins who commands the screen as a good action hero does. To think that this dude was almost Batman at one point is pretty cool.

Silent Night – Camille Griffin gifted the world with a talented son who gave us the loveable character of Jojo Rabbit a couple of years back and now that she has done that the gloves are coming off with her narrative debut that she wrote and directed. The timing of the film might be a perfect storm for how heavy this story lands and how dark some of the comedy comes off but I think it all blends into how great the foundation is of it to start. The film follows Keira Knightley and Matthew Goode as a couple of parents who have invited their closest friends to join their family for Christmas dinner at their idyllic home in the English countryside. As the group comes together, it feels like old times but behind all of the laughter and merriment, something is not quite right as the world outside is facing impending doom, and no amount of gifts, games or Prosecco can make mankind’s imminent destruction go away. Now entering the endemic part of the crisis that affected us for the last couple of years, there are things in this movie that ring so blood chillingly true and conversations about vaccination, isolation and societal decisions start to blur the line between fantasy and unfortunate reality. I don’t want to delve deeper as it enters spoiler territory but I think the review scores are too low on this and it should be widely watched by a bigger audience.

The Legend Of La Llorona – The title here may be misleading for two reasons as the ghostly legend of La Llorona has been used a couple of times already, once by The Conjuring universe in the Curse Of La Llorona and then with the Guatemalan horror La Llorona. The first film was a pretty sizable letdown, even with the great Linda Cardellini as the lead, but the second one was absolutely amazing and a total must-see so my expectations with this were up there. The story follows a young family who is terrorized by a malevolent spirit while on vacation in Mexico. Staying in an isolated hacienda, the family is warned about the entity’s thirst for children’s souls and do everything in their power to escape with their lives in a movie that I should have known was going to be lacklustre when I saw Autumn Reeser and Danny Trejo were the top names. Not to say that they are bad or anything but they do such a huge body of work yearly and the ratio generally doesn’t work out in their favour. That said, this film was a dud that is unenthusiastic in almost every single way.

American Siege – To go along with the regular intervals of faith-based Christian films every few weeks, it seems that every other week we are getting new Bruce Willis action films that film me with just as much excitement as I do for Redeeming Love. I’m assuming that Bruce shares my same lack of enthusiasm as he exhibits it every time he does one of these direct to video productions and he even brings down lead star and former Sons Of Anarchy villain Timothy Murphy in this. Willis plays a washed-up sheriff who guards the secrets of the wealthy residents of a small Georgia town. When three outlaws take a prominent town doctor hostage in search of a missing woman, he is called in to handle the situation before the FBI arrives and in a race against time, the mayor pressures Sheriff Watts to launch an assault on the hostage-takers and to eliminate all witnesses. When the Sheriff realizes he may be a pawn in a larger scheme, he must carve a bloody warpath to expose the truth behind the town’s dark secrets. It’s crazy the amount of sleepwalking through scenes that the former John McClane actor can do and still earn a paycheck as I’m guessing all the good he did in his career was just so he could coast as he ages. It sounds like I’m critiquing him as a person, which is sort of what I’m doing, but I’m definitely jealous as well. I deviated from talking about this terrible movie here but just know it’s bad with no reason for anyone to watch it.

The Nowhere Inn – Music group St. Vincent and their pal Carrie Brownstein have collaborated for a new horror film and I had no clue it even existed but I’m really glad it does. Even better, the movie is a mockumentary that has all three of these talented ladies playing heightened versions of themselves in a Christopher Guest-like way. The story has the indie darling setting out to make a documentary about her music, but when she hires a close friend to direct, notions of reality, identity, and authenticity grow increasingly distorted and bizarre, which is where the ethereal horror starts to set in. I love it because the creators behind this as well as Ms. Annie Clark are such students of the indie scene and obviously know their horror tropes as well which blend to make a really engrossing little feature. There’s something about this film that makes it so oddly original yet it has a broadness that will engage viewers who want something a little unpredictable but still grounded.

National Champions – Sports movies can be a multiple-choice answer when you watch them. It can be a dime a dozen affair where you can predict all the dramatic beats, a well-acted and dynamic story that keeps you on the edge of your seat or a badly cast and put-together film that has you looking for the exit. This film is a mixed bag of all three, following a star quarterback who ignites a player’s strike hours before the biggest game of the year in order to fight for fair compensation, equality and respect for the student-athletes. What kept my focus in the film is the phenomenal cast assembled around lead star Stephan James including J.K. Simmons, Timothy Olyphant and Tim Blake Nelson but seems to pull the rug out from under it at all the worst times with a cringe-worthy script. It takes a lot for Simmons to come off like a cheeseball and director Ric Roman Waugh does it multiple times. It’s sad because his last film Greenland was such a pleasant surprise by being good and utterly depressing too.

Supergirl: Season 6 – Melissa Benoist and cast bid farewell to their little vision of National City as this Lower Mainland filmed part of the DC Comics television universe comes to an end. This show has had its bumpy points but I really enjoyed it for the most part and it has to come down to the casting of Benoist as the title character, David Harewood, who would eventually be revealed as the Martian Manhunter and the stunt casting of Jon Cryer as Lex Luthor which is such a great in-joke to the original Superman movie franchise. For those who haven’t had the pleasure of seeing any of this series, it follows National City’s new hero, Supergirl, who takes on the responsibility of keeping the people safe. Going on adventures filled with action, hope and love, she is determined to make a difference by bringing not only her superpowers, but her heart to the table as well. I’m being a bit biased here but the best episodes of the show were the ones made by Kevin Smith who has put his fingerprints all over this show from season two on, as well as on The Flash, and as a comic book guy who knows his stuff, it resonates it what he created in his pieces and their resonance through to the end. As a guy slowly but surely collecting all of these pieces, this was a welcomed addition.

Adventure Time: Distant Lands – 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 series The Midnight Gospel on Netflix with Duncan Trussell.

Yellowstone: Season 4 – Kevin Costner takes the lead in this series that has taken audiences across North America in a big bad way and it’s because it is a damn good series both in writing from Hell Or High Water and Sicario’s Taylor Sheridan and a well-rounded cast around Costner including Kelly Reilly, Cole Hauser and Wes Bentley to get things started.. The show follows the Dutton family, led by John Dutton played by Costner, who controls the largest contiguous ranch in the United States, under constant attack by those it borders, such as land developers, a nearby Indian reservation and the keepers of America’s first National Park. It is an intense study of a violent world far from media scrutiny, where land grabs make developers billions, politicians are bought and sold by the world’s largest oil and lumber corporations, where drinking water is poisoned by fracking wells and unsolved murders are not news. I was severely late to the game and am currently immersed near the end of the third season and am really enjoying it, a good series for those who like crime series like Sons Of Anarchy or The Sopranos.

Steve’s Blu-Ray & DVD Geekouts:

Marionette Land – I feel like this is a documentary that is destined to creep not just me out but a myriad of people that find marionettes and old antique dolls utterly unnerving. That’s probably a seemingly harsh attitude to take and I am who I am and can’t stop that but I don’t want it to diminish the incredible work of the man at the heart of this film. The film is an intimate portrait of the world of Robert Brock, a man who lives above his own magical marionette theatre with his mother, Mary Lou. Brock creates and performs classic marionette shows for families as well as grown-up shows where he straps on his heels to become famous Hollywood divas of the past but new personal and professional challenges emerge as Robert and Mary Lou struggle to keep the marionette theatre open while preparing to celebrate its thirtieth anniversary. The film goes into directions that I didn’t really expect and for Brock to be able to live in his own identity and to pursue his passion is heartwarming but the struggle is something we can all relate to with any of our own interests. As far as character-focused documentaries go, this is a well-done film that puts you on Robert’s shoulders and I found it fascinating. The dolls still creep me out though.

Alice In Wonderland – In a continuing bid to own everything Tim Burton has made, for better or for worse, I bring this Disney-fied take on the classic Lewis Carroll book that I believe is just a dose of acid for kids. That said, this movie is so Burton-y but colourful it is just weird and Johnny Depp’s Mad Hatter straight up looks like Madonna but I totally digress. For those who don’t know the classic literature, the story follows a nineteen-year-old Alice who returns to the magical world from her childhood adventure, where she reunites with her old friends and learns of her true destiny which is to end the Red Queen’s reign of terror. Of course, being a Tim Burton film, Helena Bonham Carter was your villainous queen and Christopher Lee appears but it is the voice of the always loved and long-missed Alan Rickman that keeps me coming back to this film. I feel like now, six years after his passing, I will always put on something he’s a part of just to hear that iconic voice.

The Wolfman – This Universal monster remake got a raw deal I feel and if only they had released this Blu-ray version, the director’s cut, I think audiences would have received it better. Made by an exhilarating director in Joe Johnston and starring a great cast with Benicio Del Toro, Anthony Hopkins and Emily Blunt, I guess it was just destined to fall into the underrated and underappreciated column. Del Toro plays Lawrence Talbot, a nobleman who returns to his ancestral home in Victorian-era England to search for his missing brother Ben, only to fall under a terrible curse that causes him to experience an unsettling transformation. Talbot soon discovers that a ravenous beast is on the loose and he must protect the woman he loves from its clutches as well as discover the true nature of his newfound affliction. The transformation scenes in this film are fantastic and, when we constantly hold it up to the greatest werewolf transformation ever, An American Werewolf In London, I think it passes the test. Johnston gives this film a solid pace as well that keeps you engaged with the mystery of it all. I’m still unsure why this movie bombed and wasn’t used as the template for a new Universal monsters franchise.

High Life – In the last few years, especially with season movie lovers, this title gets brought up and we immediately think of the Claire Denis sci-fi tale starring Robert Pattinson that is memorable for more than a few reasons that I don’t want to discuss here but this Canadian made bank heist comedy-drama came first and almost ten years prior. It has its charm in the top star of Timothy Olyphant but this is definitely not the dreamy leading man you know or the tough guy from Justified but a dirtier and drug-addled version. The story is set in the early eighties and follows a hopeless junkie named Dick who gets an unwelcome visit from the past, his seriously sleazy former cellmate, Bug, a violent man with a hair-trigger temper. Bug requires a crash course in the eighties with the different music, different drugs, and machines in walls that dispense money. Explaining the latter development gives Dick an idea and the two enlist some help into knocking off some ATMs to secure their futures… or a weekend worth of drugs. This film is purely character-driven and is almost a comedy of errors in a bank heist format that descends into some dangerous territory really fast. Olyphant is great as usual, as are co-stars Joe Anderson and Rossif Sutherland who I always enjoy but the breakthrough is the guy Bug himself, played by Steven Eric McIntyre who steals the show. I really don’t know him from anything prior or since so I guess this was a one-off. Still a solid discovery.

Television:

Letterkenny: International Women’s Day (Crave) – The boys of Letterkenny are back in one of their focused holiday specials in the perfect vein of this rural comedy and all of its hijinx. Lots of comparisons are made to Trailer Park Boys for this show but I firmly believe those comments are made by people who have never seen it. For those who are new to it, the series showcases the antics of the residents of Letterkenny, a small rural community in Canada. Siblings Wayne and Katy run a small farm and produce stand, with Wayne’s friends Daryl and “Squirrely” Dan helping out. Many of the town’s inhabitants fall into one of several groups, which include the farmers, or “hicks,” the out-of-towners on the local hockey team, the local drug addicts and the “natives,” who are members of the local First Nation. The sophistication in the writing of this series is on a whole other level and I always laugh until my sides hurt every episode. It’s really kicking me in the funny bone that they have focused on International Women’s Day with this special and I can’t wait to see what they do with it because, it may not look like it, but this series is massively progressive in its morals and attitudes which the fans of the show know and love already.

Upload: Season 2 (Prime Video) – After the surprise hit success of the first season which capitalized on everyone being on lockdown and needing something to watch, Amazon Prime has gone for a new batch of episodes of this sci-fi series from Greg Daniels, the creator of the American version of The Office and Parks And Recreation. Starring Robbie Amell, this ten-episode second season follows a man who gets to electronically pick the new world he inhabits after his untimely death. This is a show that has been long in development for Daniels as he started writing it right after the series finale for The Office and I really loved a lot about the first season including Amell’s brash sarcasm that really ropes you in as a lead character. I also really love the satire on humanity’s future as well as it trying to capitalize and make money off of the afterlife. It’s really smart, funny and the right kind of comedy for the world right now.

Shining Vale (Crave) – The main thing that brought me into this new Starz original was Courtney Cox, an actress I have loved since Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and one who is fresh in my mind after Scream in January. Oddly enough, it’s kind of hard to find a tone in this new half-hour series but I think that’s the draw to it as well. Is it a comedy, a ghost story or a drama about infidelity and depression? Who knows! I do know that it follows a family that moves to a small town into a house in which terrible atrocities have taken place but no one seems to notice except for Pat, Cox’s character, who’s convinced she’s either depressed or possessed and, as it turns out, the symptoms are exactly the same. Episode one lays out the groundwork for a mysterious series quite well and with the first two immediately available, it could gather a fevered audience pretty quickly. It also has Greg Kinnear as her emotionally damaged but stunted husband and in this way, he works so well.

Winning Time: The Rise Of The Lakers Dynasty (Crave) – Adam MacKay just had the critical fence riding comedy Don’t Look Up on Netflix that let him get some vitriol out while also resulting in him getting lambasted by half the audience online but he’s back to tell some basketball history. Sadly, this was also the project that broke the friendship of MacKay and longtime pal and collaborator Will Ferrell as he wasn’t approached to star in it but it looks to be an alright consolation prize for not getting a Stepbrothers sequel. The series is a comedy-drama that centers on the professional and personal lives of the 1980s Los Angeles Lakers, one of sports’ most revered, dominant dynasties and a team that defined an era, both on and off the court. The swagger of the eighties style is all there, we have Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird as well as one-time majority shareholder Jerry Buss played by John C. Reilly in another team up with him and Adam. I’m loving episode one a lot and I can’t wait to burn through more of this

The Last Days Of Ptolemy Grey (AppleTV+) – Samuel L. Jackson and AppleTV+ are here to bring something trippy but totally heady and philosophical and what piqued my interest right away is the filmmaker who is heading u the who project. Featuring director Ramin Bahrani of 88 Homes among many other great films, the legendary Debbie Allen, and Guillermo Del Toro’s longtime cinematographer Guillermo Navarro, this show is definitely like no other and it is most definitely a limited series. The story follows Jackson as the title character, a ninety-year-old man forgotten by his family, by his friends and even by himself. On the brink of sinking even deeper into lonely dementia, Ptolemy experiences a seismic shift when he’s given the tremendous opportunity to briefly regain his memories and uses this precious and fleeting lucidity to solve his nephew’s death and come to terms with his past. There is probably a limited audience for this show but I feel like the built-in viewer just wants to see something different and that’s what I love about AppleTV+ and the chances they take with their content.

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