Deep Water – It has to be frustrating for an actor to put all of his efforts into a film only for it to be shelved for a long period of time because the studio can’t find a spot for it in its release schedule then it gets relegated to being an almost home release and put of Prime Video. That is exactly what happened to Ben Affleck and his new film and to make matters worse he made it with his now ex-girlfriend Ana De Armas and subsequently has to do press with her for this film. Don’t feel too bad for Ben as he’s back with JLo so all well that ends well. This new mystery thriller follows Affleck as a well-to-do husband who allows his wife to have affairs in order to avoid a divorce but becomes a prime suspect in the disappearance of her multiple lovers. What excites me more than De Armas and Affleck being in this, because I do adore Anan, is that it was made by the legendary Adran Lyne who was responsible for thrillers like Jacob’s Ladder, Fatal Attraction and Unfaithful, a total master of his class especially when it comes to adultery and murderous jealousy. Based on a novel by acclaimed author Patricia Highsmith, the reviews are good and the screenplay was written by Euphoria creator Sam Levinson so it is blisteringly hot right now given the success of that show, now in its second season.
Windfall – Here’s another late to the game filmmaker for me as I really didn’t know about writer and director Charlie McDowell as a mumblecore filmmaker until years after his mysterious little drama The One I Love starring Mark Duplass and Elisabeth Moss had been long gone from movie screens and on-demand platforms but I am in the know now and with great timing as this new film debuts on Netflix this week. Once again, he has paired himself with greatness as the always bankable Jesse Plemons stars, with the lovely Lily Collins playing his wife, and usual comedic actor Jason Segal dips back into the drama field again, something he is so damn good at which is evident in The End Of The Tour and Our Friend recently. This film has Segal playing a man who breaks into a tech billionaire’s empty vacation home with no real intent other than to see how he lives but things go sideways when the arrogant mogul and his wife arrive for a last-minute getaway and the intruder’s intent pivots to extortion with a potential to explode into violence. This movie operates as a film noir in a Hitchcockian eye and pulls you in deeper and deeper with just these three actors as your moving parts. I was also really drawn to the cinematography and rightfully so as it. is Isiah Donte Lee, who also shot the great Netflix original Burning Sands as well as some solid J. Cole music videos. This isn’t really a broad appeal movie but mumblecore fans will eat it up.
The Outfit – Mark Rylance is an Academy Award winner who always gives his best in every film he does but a lot of people still don’t know who he is or know his face but not his name. Well, he might get some eyes on him now as he’s in this brand new crime thriller that has him front and center and the target of some pretty bad guys. The story has him as Leonard, a master English tailor who’s ended up in Chicago and operates a corner tailor shop with his assistant, played by the great Zoey Deutch, where he makes beautiful clothes for the only people around who can afford them, a family of vicious gangsters. One night, two killers, played by Dylan O’Brien and Johnny Flynn, knock on his door in need of a favour and Leonard is thrust onto the board in a deadly game of deception and murder as a result. This film is the debut as a director for writer Graham Moore who won an Academy Award for his screenplay for The Imitation Game and not to sound like a cliche when it comes to a film about a tailor but this looks so slick and stylish that it has me salivating to check it out. I also geek out that this was shot by cinematographer Dick Pope who has done incredible work in his career, especially his films with Edgar Wright.
X – Ti West is a voice in horror I’ve always loved, a writer and director with old-school American horror in his blood. Debuting with the throwback slasher horror House Of The Devil, he has always found a way to hook me in with his stories and when I saw his new trailer with the A24 studio card ahead of it I got really excited. Set in 1979, the story follows a group of young filmmakers who set out to make an adult film in rural Texas but when their reclusive, elderly hosts catch them in the act, the cast finds themselves fighting for their lives in a very Texas Chainsaw Massacre inspired tale of terror. Pardon my pun here but this film has a killer young cast including Scream’s Jenny Ortega, High Life’s Mia Goth, Brittany Snow from the Pitch Perfect franchise and rapper turned actor Kid Cudi and is just oozing with all of that style and substance that Tobe Hooper brought when he unleashed his brand of violence in the seventies. I also find it fascinating that they filmed this in New Zealand yet it looks so much like a dusty Texan setting. The power of movies, people!
Black Crab – I have been a fan of Swedish actress Noomi Repace ever since I saw her in the original adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. She has since been in huge Hollywood feature films like Sherlock Holmes and Prometheus but has decided to go back and make something Scandanavian again after returning home to make the stellar but totally weird drama Lamb. This movie hits the sci-fi button, following six soldiers on a covert mission in a post-apocalyptic world who must transport a mysterious package across a frozen archipelago. The look of the film is gritty and bleak which plays right into my wheelhouse as I eat that atmospheric stuff up and director Adam Berg certainly has big ideas contained within that. My issue is that it all seems too big for just one movie and the setup was never going to satisfy its conclusion and I really don’t see another production coming from it. That said, as far as debut feature films go, this is solid and betrays his inexperience greatly.
Umma – More horror to get inside your heads this week but this falls far from the path of slasher scares and gets spooky through family history and lineage. It has the added draw of lead star Sandra Oh who is in the forefront right now with the latest season of her hit series Killing Eve as well as the voice of the mom in the infinitely cute and heartwarming Pixar film Turning Red. Well, this one is aiming far away from that audience base as she plays a mother named Amanda who is living a quiet life on an American farm with her daughter. When the remains of her estranged mother arrive from South Korea, she becomes increasingly aware that she is turning into that person she feared with each passing day and their dark past is thrust into the light. The film is the narrative debut of writer and director Iris K. Shim, who earned a lot of acclaim with her documentary The House of Suh, and now turns to a genre that I love so deeply in my heart, much to the chagrin of our illustrious host. Shot by Gareth Evans cinematographer Matt Flannery, the eyes behind The Raid: Redemption, The Raid 2 and Apostle, I can not wait to get my eyes on the delicious camera work of this horror that may get that slow burn word of mouth by fans across North America.
Alice – We get some blaxploitation-derived revenge thriller for our eyeballs this week at it has the added bonus of starring the wonderful Keke Palmer in the lead role who has shifted from a solid child actress to a commanding leading woman in seemingly the blink of an eye. The fact that rapper turned actor Common is the co-star in this film isn’t too shabby either as well as a villainous Jonny Lee Miller who I have adored since the mid-nineties film Hackers but I’m losing the focus here. Palmer plays Alice, a woman who yearns for freedom as an enslaved person on a rural Georgia plantation under its brutal and disturbed owner Paul. After a violent clash with Paul, she flees through the neighbouring woods and stumbles onto the unfamiliar sight of a highway, soon discovering the year is actually 1973. Rescued on the roadside by a disillusioned political activist named Frank, Alice quickly comprehends the lies that have kept her in bondage and the promise of Black liberation. Inspired by true events, Alice is a modern empowerment story tracing Alice’s journey through the post-Civil Rights Era American South. Palmer is without a doubt the strongest thing in a thriller that loses its footing narratively when she isn’t present. It’s a bold debut from writer and director Krystin Ver Linden but the inexperience does shine through more often than not, that being said, this is a help of a crash course to start and I look forward to what comes next. It is also a hell of a lot better than that Janelle Monae thriller Antebellum so it wins in that department.
Master – Race and true psychological and spiritual horror come to a head in this new Prime Video original film and just looking at the synopsis I know that it will be divisive, relevant and utterly terrifying and I am here for all of it. Featuring a super-effective trailer that gets into your bones, this is yet another debut this week in a feature form, this time for writer and director Mariama Diallo, a short filmmaker up until this point but one with a lot of promise. The film follows two African American women who begin to share disturbing experiences at a predominantly white college in New England which was built on the site of a Salem-era gallows hill. Navigating politics and privilege, they encounter increasingly terrifying manifestations of the school’s haunted past and struggle to not become a footnote in its menacing present times. Starring Regina Hall, this film immediately springs to mind the limited series Them, which is also available on Prime Video, so hopefully, the inevitable success of it will lead people to check that one out, one of my favourite new shows of 2021.
Rescued By Ruby – With The Flash’s Barry Allen leading your film, the charming Grant Gustin, a cutesy little dog movie will always win at least a little spot in your heart just on substance alone no matter how terrible it might actually be. This movie has the added cushion of being directed and written by Katt Shea, a veteran filmmaker who has brought us movies like Poison Ivy, Streets and The Rage: Carrie 2 so it can’t all be bad, right. Well, maybe scratch that last one. This film has Gustin playing Daniel, a state trooper chasing his dream to join an elite K-9 unit who partners with a fellow underdog, a clever but naughty shelter pup named Ruby. Surrendered to the Rhode Island Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals by her original owners, Ruby was deemed unmanageable due to her overabundance of energy but found her real home with Daniel. Probably not a lot of depth to this kids film but it does have a cute dog and former heartthrob from Party Of Five, Scott Wolf, in a supporting role. If anything this is an easy Sunday afternoon watch with the family that won’t offend anyone.
Tollbooth – I feel like it is in my blood to love crime comedies ever since I fell in love with the works of Guy Ritchie who kicked off the new releases this week with something big and bold. His beginning wasn’t as big but was bold as Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels formed my love for the British gangster film and it’s a bucket of love that could never be emptied. I think that’s why I gravitated to this one, though it is vastly different at its core. Starring the great Michael Smiley, this darkly comic thriller follows Brendan, a man who works solo shifts in the quietest toll booth in Wales, hiding from a criminal past where nobody would ever look. When he finally gets outed, word of his whereabouts gets to his enemies and they head west for revenge. Meanwhile, local traffic cop Catrin’s investigation into a simple robbery finds her heading for the booth at exactly the wrong time, setting up a cataclysmic finale for the guy who really just wanted to lay low for the rest of his existence. Co-starring Iwan Rheon, who people may remember as the sadistic Ramsey Bolton from Game Of Thrones, this film hit all the right notes for me and I found myself loving the writing style and whirlwind directing from Ryan Andrew Hopper who is yet another first-time feature filmmaker on this list. I will gladly follow him into more crime stories if he has them to give.
Moon Manor – On the outside, this film looks like an odd sort of drama about an old man coming to grips with his own mortality and the losing of the memories that he holds close to him, something great to pair up with the new AppleTV+ series The Last Days Of Ptolemy Gray from last week. On closer inspection, this is more a fantastical flight through the fleeting memories of an Alzheimer’s patient as he prepares for the next step. The film follows Jimmy, an ailing old man who is given the prognosis of having only one last day on the planet. He quickly decides to waste no time and to die like he lived, with intention, humour and zest, and show his funeral guests that the art of living may actually be the art of dying. This is definitely an odd duck of a movie that doesn’t really have a set audience but I really like its weird nature and it stars MadTV alum Debra Wilson, busy character actor Richard Riehle and Lou Taylor Pucci and I felt myself pretty engrossed with it. This is not to undersell lead actor James Carrazo who makes you root for Jimmy pretty much from the get go. As someone who has seen a couple of grandparents go to this horrible disease, I feel like it celebrated life more than it focused on death and I really appreciated that.
Tin Can – Some indie sci-fi slides into limited theatres this week which could mean a surprise hit that will earn the slow burn of word of mouth, a cheesy mess that needed millions of dollars to work or a forgotten film that will be on the woodpile of 2022 to burn at the end of the year. The cool thing and the reason I want to celebrate this movie is it comes from Nova Scotian filmmaker Seth A. Smith, a storyteller that surprised me with his film Lowlife in 2012 and then The Crescent in 2017. This film is set, ironically, in a world that faces a deadly plague, following a front-lines parasitologist who is imprisoned in a life-suspension chamber and to escape from this created tomb she must destroy the last of her kind. It’s cool that Michael Ironside co-stars in this movie, a classic actor. He now lends his time to being in smaller sci-fi and horror films like Turbo Kid and Bloodthirsty, almost like a return to what made him cult famous in legendary films like Scanners and Visiting Hours. This movie’s greatness is not just a success because of his involvement though, as it used the limits of the COVID isolation to a positive result. in a story that carves a new and fresh swath out of the path that David Cronenberg laid before it. Effective and well-acted, Tin Can makes a mark on you even if the name sounds a little dumb.
Dear Mr. Brody – Immediately the thing that upset me most about this movie was that I didn’t know who Michael Brody Jr. was beforehand nor had I ever even heard an inkling of his story which seems crazy. You would think that with how wild this story is and for how big it got that it would be a cautionary tale of either ignoring those powerful speakers who can make a difference in this world or not believing in false leaders but I’m getting ahead of myself. This documentary is about the titular Mr. Brody, a twenty-one-year-old hippie millionaire who, in 1970, promised to give away his $25M inheritance in an effort to usher in a new era of world peace. What resulted was a nationwide push to impress upon Brody the usefulness of his money to the causes of thousands of people that wrote him letters. The producers. of the film meticulously went through all of the unopened letters as a backdrop against the unfurling true story of who Michael Brody Jr. was by the people who know him intimately at this time is compiled interviews. This film is engrossing in its place in history plus the dreams and ideas that we’re flushed out of the American people when the possible benefactor or conman put his call out into the world. I live for mysterious documentaries like this and it satisfied my cravings on all levels.
The White Fortress – It’s not often or really ever that I get to talk about a foreign film out of Bosnia but that’s the greatest thing about being a reviewer that has many studio public relations contacts is that it sort of becomes a cultural melting pot in your emails. With all of the current global happenings on the conflict front, it is hard to watch an Eastern European war-related story but this one was too interesting to pass up and the war in Sarajevo isn’t a usual movie subject, aside from the incredibly must-see Quo Vadis, Aida?. This film is certainly not for the faint of heart but focuses on two teens from opposing sides in the Bosnian war who find love across a vicious divide. This film has all of those Romeo and Juliet star-crossed lover things going for it, with families that are volatile adversaries and a total class differential but still manages to be original and, at times, totally shocking. This one will certainly get lost in the global shuffle of cinema but I really enjoyed it.
West Side Story – Steven Spielberg’s long gestated passion project has finally made its way to the big screen to Disney+ for streaming and now on glorious 4K blu-ray and, impressively, during one of the toughest times to make a huge film, a global pandemic. While Scorsese’s passion project was a brutal film about missionaries bringing the word of God to Japan in Silence, Spielberg wanted to do the big musical with Maria, the Jets, back alley finger-snapping brawls and a very Romeo and Juliet plotline. For those who don’t know, this is an adaptation of the 1957 musical which explores forbidden love and the rivalry between the Jets and the Sharks, two teenage street gangs of different ethnic backgrounds. This film is an absolutely glowing piece of cinema but that isn’t a huge surprise when it comes to one of the best filmmakers in the game ever since he debuted. Spielberg got me into film, like many of us, and even though I don’t like musicals, I’m fascinated by his take on them and I thought this movie was gripping from the opening shot that needs to be seen to be believed as it is a treasure trove of the things we love about Spielberg. The story captivates, the cast and choreography leap off of the screen and it’s always evident why this story, even set when it is, will always be timeless when seen through a celluloid lens.
Red Rocket – Sean Baker, a writer and director who frequents Vancouver and has met a bunch of my friends, is one of the most important filmmakers of our time to me, telling the stories of real people and microcosms in our would the predominantly make up the majority. With his films Tangerine and The Florida Project, he exuded this and it came to a point in the latter that it broke me down into tears in theatres. Now he teams with actor Simon Rexx for this Trump-era comedy-drama that follows Mikey Saber, a washed-up porn star who returns to his small Texas hometown that has no interest in having him back. Rexx gave the performance of 2021 and I was hoping that this was the year that Baker’s work elevates him to the top of the game as he has deserved for a long time but, alas, he was only truly appreciated in the independent circuit as Rexx did get an Independent Spirit trophy for Best Actor. I dare say he’s one of my absolute favourites today and I also venture that if you watch this film you will never hear NSYNC’s Bye Bye Bye the same again.
Project Gemini – When I get these new releases from Well Go USA, most of the time I have no knowledge about them unless it’s a bigger international targeted film but sometimes I have seen a trailer for it on a previous release that sticks in my head. This is definitely one of those films as the preview is massively intriguing and could possibly be all of a ruse just to get you to watch it, as most trailers are, but I had a good feeling about this Russian thriller. The story follows a crew of space explorers sent on a mission sent to terraform a distant planet to ensure the survival of the human race. However, the mission encounters something unknown that has its own plan for the planet and it suddenly becomes a battle for survival with all o mankind at stake. This movie is a lot of fun and has some cool effects throughout while featuring great twists and turns to keep you guessing. There is a certain amount of frenetic filmmaking that is the norm when it comes to Russian filmmaking that could turn some viewers off but I really enjoyed it. I know it’s taboo at these times to praise anything Russian but I have to give this movie its due because the creators absolutely deserve it.
A Tale Of Two Guns – Bad western stories have made it to blu-ray release again this week and when your two lead stars are Casper Van Dien and Tom Berenger, both of who have had their great times in the sun before, you know you have made a wrong turn because those days are behind them. It’s a real bummer because I love a solid western but believe me, this is anything but. Obviously, this takes place in the lawless West, following The Cowboys, a notorious brotherhood of killers and thieves who reigned over the land with brutal fists and fast guns. Fate had finally caught up with them and now the merciless gang has but a single surviving member. When a deputized gunslinger takes up the call to hunt down the last Cowboy, the chase is on and the bullets fly and only one of these hardened men can survive. Corny and badly constructed, this movie sputters constantly with contrived moments and sequences that were done with much more spirit in far better films. I don’t see this one hitting in a big way on demand but if it does, just let it blow away like a bad tumbleweed. I’m doing you a favour, partner.
John And The Hole – At forty years old I feel like I’m still too immature to say this title without giggling like a schoolgirl but there’s just something about it that is inherently funny and I place the blame directly on the producers and creators. Laugh-inducing title aside, I was definitely unprepared for how good the film was that I was about to see and the fact that it has Dexter star Michael C. Hall in it is just a cherry on the sundae. The film is a coming-of-age psychological thriller that plays out the unsettling reality of a kid who holds his family captive in a hole in the ground. It’s really just as simple as that and, through satisfying twists and turns, it never becomes a story that feels familiar at all or predictable which serves to constantly keep you on the edge of your seat, wondering what’s next. Along with Hall, the film also features Taissa Farmiga who is fast becoming a favourite of mine, just like her mother Vera, and it is usually in a horror setting that she impresses. This may not be everyone’s cup of tea but the horror-like atmosphere and the traped isolation is so well done.
The Boy Behind The Door – When I saw the one location creature feature The Djinn starring young Ezra Dewey I remembered thinking that both the star and the minds behind the film, David Charbonier and Justin Powell, had massive futures ahead of them. For this reason, I was excited to receive this new thriller which takes the accelerator off of the supernatural stuff for something more grounded, and this was made before The Djinn, technically being their first feature film. The story follows best friends Bobby and Kevin who are kidnapped after their baseball game, separated from each other, locked in two different rooms. Bobby manages to escape but hears Kevin’s screams for help and realizes he can’t leave his friend behind and decides to steel himself for a showdown with his captor, a fight that only one of them will make it out of. Dewey again delivers a really fantastic performance as Kevin and newcomer Lonnie Chavis as young Bobby is put through the absolute wringer in his role and does it damn well. It was also great to see True Blood star Kristin Bauer Von Stratten appear in this one but I’ll keep quiet on her role to avoid spoilers. Sold thrills, chilling violence and kid actor that are not annoying definitely work in this movie’s favour and you don’t have to be a horror fan to enjoy it. It helps but you don’t have to be one, trust me.
Shooter 4K – Mark Wahlberg spent a lot of time in New Westminster during the filming of this Antoine Fuqua adaptation of the popular Steven Hunter book series and I think about the locations every time I watch it. The good news now is that the Bob Lee Swagger movie is now on beautiful 4K in an even cooler steelbook, which is something we collector’s totally geek out on. For those who didn’t get a chance to check this one out, it follows Wahlberg as Swagger, a marksman living in exile who is coaxed back into action after learning of a plot to kill the President. After being double-crossed and pinned with the assassination attempt, he is on the run and on a collision course with the real killer and the truth in a flick that features awesome action sequences and a great cast around Wahlberg, like Michael Pena, Danny Glover and Elias Koteas. They ended up making a television series around this film in 2016 with Ryan Phillippe but nothing holds a candle to what they did with this film and it was a missed opportunity that they didn’t make more, like Jack Reher, unfortunately, did with Never Go Back, an ill-advised movie.
An American Werewolf In London 4K – One of the greatest horror of all times with some of the best dark comedy beats that hold up to this day, I have a deep love for this John Landis classic. The title really gives you all the exposition almost immediately, a couple of American college students, played by David Naughton and Griffin Dunne, go on a trip to London where they are attacked by a werewolf, leading to one of our guys turning into one in the most iconic transformation film ever put on screen. Seriously, that scene is a work of art. The new Arrow Video special edition is gorgeous now that they’ve moved it to a 4K Collector’s release, with a brand new transfer of the film, a commentary track with Naughton and Dunne, many brand new featurettes and an interview with John Landis. This is a killer edition but there is only a limited amount of copies so if you love this stuff like I do then I would get on it immediately.
Steve’s Blu-Ray Geek Outs:
Ghostriders – My first thought when I saw this fun-looking release from MVD Visual was “hey, this doesn’t look like any Marvel release that I know of” and that’s because it isn’t and it’s very far removed from one as well. Made thirty-five years ago now, this one is a fun and definitely a dumb release that plays in a subgenre that is not often explored, the horror western. That’s right, this film follows the descendants of a group of cowboy lawmen who are targetted by the ghosts of an outlaw gang that were hanged by their ancestors. It’s a crazy storyline just in its simplicity and I would honestly love to see it get remade today because the film is a hell of a lot of fun to watch. I will admit that the pacing is at a snail’s pace in getting going but once the villains are introduced it gets pretty wild on a noticeably low budget. None of the actors are notable, the director hasn’t done anything else that would elevate him over cult status and it has been largely forgotten until this release but somehow it worked with me. I definitely can’t say it’s recommendable unless you like cult films though.
Deadly Games – Yes, I have to admit that my geek-outs this week are centralized in horror subgenres but these two were too good to pass up on a campy level cult double feature for this section. This one brings us back five years before the previous entry on the list and, again, doesn’t feature a cast you would recognize or a writer and editor who did anything notable afterwards as it loos like Scott Manfield’s follow up to this one, Imps, outright murdered his feature film career. The film is one of those classic exploitation flicks from the seventies and eighties, set in a town being terrorized by a masked killer who is murdering women. A young woman is attacked by the killer but escapes but with a bit of pertinent information as she believes the killer to be either the town’s policeman or the manager of the local theatre and she devises a plan to find out which is the actual killer. I wasn’t fully truthful when I said that this doesn’t feature any notable actors in it as Chicago Bears legend Dick Butkus appears in this mystery horror although I don’t think I can regard anything he does in it as “acting”. That really isn’t the point of this almost grindhouse style feature film as, just like the film on this list previously, its good old campy fun without any substance to it whatsoever.
Cheaper By The Dozen (Disney+) – Now that Disney owns Fox it’s time to capitalize on all of the properties that they owned under the Fox family film banner and that definitely includes this title which had two films that starred Steve Martin. Martin isn’t back for this one, nor is Bonnie Hunt who played his wife in it, but I think we have some solid lead actors in Gabrielle Union and, my personal favourite, Zach Braff. For those who didn’t get to see these movies in the early 2000s, this series follows the rambunctious exploits of a blended family of twelve, the Bakers, as they navigate a hectic home life while simultaneously managing their family business as well. Braff has incredible comedic timing as I am a huge fan of his show Scrubs which I’ve watched time and time again, something that is also on Disney+. I’m excited that this is a series that I can watch with my kids, the audience it is geared to because, well, Scrubs is definitely not family-friendly. I’m really hoping that there is a Donald Faison cameo that would set my nerd heart on fire.
DMZ (Crave) – One of my favourite graphic novels of all time, brilliantly written by Brian Wood and illustrated by Riccardo Burchielli, has finally made its series adaptation at, really, the best possible time to tell the story in a live-action format but I can’t help being scared that it will meet the same fate as another adapted favourite, Y The Last Man’ and get cancelled far before it’s time. Shepherded to the screen by producer and directors Ava Duvernay and Ernest R. Dickerson, this gritty post-fall of society story has a hell of a cast in it too with Rosario Dawson, Benjamin Bratt and Canadian star Agam Darshi and a storyline that I hope people see the depth in. Set in a near-future America, fractured by a Second Civil War, the story focuses on the titular DMZ, or the demilitarized zone, which is a ravaged Manhattan Island. No one goes in, no one comes out. But for medic Alma, who is desperate to find her missing son, it all comes down to her becoming a symbol of hope for the occupants trapped inside the DMZ. The future and the truth to the masses rests in her hands. I have no idea what to expect from this series but given the work that Duvernay and Dickerson have done before and the societal consciousness they have enacted, I can’t see them taking the teeth out of this biting world commentary that Wood created. I want more Wood adaptations if this does well because he has a bunch of really great stories ready to hit the small or big screen.
Human Resources (Netflix) – After the five seasons of Big Mouth I think the continuing story of the pubescent teens has hit the endgame and the resolutions have been met so Nick Kroll and his crew are moving on to spinoff with an integral piece of it, the hormone monsters and all the other psyche related creatures that make up the human mind. The spin-off pulls back the curtain on the daily lives of the creatures Hormone Monsters, Depression Kitties, Shame Wizards and many more that help humans journey through every aspect of life from puberty to childbirth to the twilight years. I’ve always said that the monsters were my favourite piece of the original series, especially Maury and Connie, and I’m glad my Netflix account was listening to me and whipping this up for us. I will say that this is not for everyone and is completely offensive but if you made it through all five seasons of Bog Mouth you are pretty much desensitized and if the show turned you off before that then the scars you have earned for life won’t let you watch this. It’s a win-win situation.
Minx (Crave) – I feel like a little precedence was set for this new show by the HBO series The Deuce which focused on the porn industry in the seventies because this HBO Max made show pull a little bit of the subject matter from that but leans into the comedy aspect a bit more. If that doesn’t sell you at all the casting of New Girl star Jake Johnson should help a bit and it is led by Ophelia Lovibond who MCU fans may remember as the assistant to The Collector who meets an unfortunate demise in Guardians Of The Galaxy. Like The Deuce, this show is set in the seventies as well and follows an earnest young feminist who joins forces with a low-rent publisher to create the first erotic magazine for women. The advance reviews are really good for it as it pushes the comedy but is also racy and raunchy in the exact ways you think it would be. I’m not hugely knowledgeable on creator and showrunner Ellen Rapoport but I do know the work of Rachel Lee Goldenberg who directs all of the episodes as she also directed the film Unpregnant, an absolute must-see film.
Life & Beth (Disney+) – Amy Schumer makes her return to the television series format with this new scripted series from Hulu and separates herself from the sketch comedy stylings that made up her first series, Inside Amy Schumer. She comes to this one with a bit more acting chops as well after starring in the fantastic dramatic film The Humans which had her on-screen with the always fantasy Richard Jenkins, Steven Yuen, Beanie Feldstein and June Squibb and something has to rub off in that company. The series follows Beth, who after an unexpected incident starts having flashbacks to her teen self and learns how she became who she is and who she wants to become. The show is getting a lot of praise and not just for its comedy but the depth of character to it as well. Much of it plays for a longer game in the plot and, although rough at times, Schumer’s character work shines through and the rest of the cast, including Michael Rapaport and stand-up comedian Gary Gulman, add a lot to it as well.