Steve Stebbing

Breaking down all things pop culture

New Releases:

Crimes Of The Future – Cronenberg is back in a big bad way and I really can’t contain my excitement because, from who I’m hearing, he is back to his body horror ways and just judging by the trailer it’s going to mess people up. Of course, my guy Viggo is in the film as well but the Canadian auteur also has Kristen Stewart and Lea Seydoux on board for it and, living in a small town, I’m really upset that I will most likely not get it here in our theatres. The film takes place in a future reality where the human species adapts to a synthetic environment and their bodies undergo new transformations and mutations. With his partner Caprice, Saul Tenser, a celebrity performance artist, publicly showcases the metamorphosis of his organs in avant-garde performances and Timlin, an investigator from the National Organ Registry, obsessively tracks their movements. This is when a mysterious group is revealed with an intent to use Saul’s notoriety to shed light on the next phase of human evolution. Yes, this one is deliciously disturbing sounding and totally up my all as a ravenous fan of all of David Cronenberg’s work. I hear that during screenings, both test and at the Cannes Film Festival, viewers were having a pretty adverse reaction to the movie which makes me even more intrigued.

Hollywood Stargirl – Disney has another cute direct-to-the-streaming-service release this week to join Sneakerella from a few weeks ago and this one has the bonus of starring the great Judy Greer and the legendary Uma Thurman which gives it a leg up on that fairy tale inspired modern take. Even better, this is the first big studio movie for writer and director Julia Hart who hasn’t disappointed yet, giving us bold films like Miss Stevens, Fast Color and I’m Not Your Woman. Unknown to me before watching it, this is a sequel to Hart’s film Stargirl and follows Grace Vanderwaal as the titular character, a silver-voiced teenager whose simple acts of kindness work magic in the lives of others. The story follows her journey out of Mica, Arizona when her mother Ana (Judy Greer) is hired as the costume designer for a movie, relocating them to L.A., where Stargirl quickly becomes involved with an eclectic assortment of characters. This is a great film to sit and watch with the family as all the corniness of it will resonate as a more heartfelt aura and may let your cynicism bleed away. Hart has a gift for great storytelling and I doubt that would diminish in this setting and hopefully, it gets more eyes on her work.

Fire Island – Romcoms have always been an incredibly heterosexual dominated genre in the popular zeitgeist which is something that needed to change in our modern and progressive age so the fact that Disney+ is releasing this in the face of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” aftermath is, in my opinion, absolutely applauded. It also capitalizes on the rising star of comedian Joel Kim Booster who wrote this film and Kim Kardashian’s favourite Saturday Night Night Live cast member Bowen Yang makes it that much more charming. The film is simple in its initial premise, following a pair of best friends who set out to have a legendary week-long summer vacation with the help of cheap rosĂ© and a group of eclectic friends. The movie is so well written and borrows a lot from classic Jane Austen stories, which is great because the film starts with a paraphrased quote from the woman herself. It connects the dots in some of the usual romantic conventions but the fact that is so out and proud makes it that much more refreshing and with a well-written and naturally funny character’s to boot.

The Righteous – Canadian actor Mark O’Brien is not just spending some time creeping people out just on the screen in this new horror thriller but is also taking on the added duties of writing and directing this and it reunites him with his father in the brilliant comedy horror Ready Or Not, Henry Czerny, a totally Canadian legend. This has some great substance and atmosphere to it as well as the horror is being derived from faith and belief and the abandonment of it. The film is beautifully shot in black and white and tells the story of Frederic (Czerny) a grieving man struggling with his faith, who helps an injured young man, Aaron Smith (O’Brien) who stumbles onto his property one night, claiming to be lost in the woods. Frederic and his wife (another Canadian veteran, Mimi Kuzyk) invite the man to stay for the night, but Frederic soon begins to have doubts about this enigmatic stranger’s story and his motives for being there. When Aaron asks Frederic to commit an unspeakable deed, it becomes clear that the man is not who he seems, and has been sent to test the very limits of Frederic’s existence. O’Brien’s writing has this ability to get under your skin and live at the back of your mind as you try to gleen what of Aaron’s stories and ideals are true, when is a mislead or trap and just what Frederic takes from this as Czerny’s performance boils deep under the surface. I really loved this one but it does play a lot like a slow boil arthouse film.

Interceptor – With the follow-up to his badass Netflix film Extraction on the horizon to be released, Chris Hemsworth’s wife Elsa Pataky is getting in the game now with this new action-adventure from one of the guys behind the Pirates Of The Caribbean franchise. Honestly, for me, these Netflix action flicks generally become enjoyable if not forgettable sometimes and this looks just like that, a quick high octane morse that doesn’t overstay its welcome. The film follows Pataky as an Army captain who must use her years of tactical training and military expertise when a simultaneous coordinated attack threatens the remote missile interceptor station she is in command of. Co-starring Luke Bracey, the unfortunate star of the Point Break remake from half a decade ago, this movie probably won’t go any deeper than the surface value you see in the trailer but Netflix is usually here to save us from boredom and this looks anything but dull and looks to have some fantastic action sequences. Maybe it will surprise us and Elsa can have her own franchise alongside Chris.


Big Gold Brick – With the cast boasted in this new weirdo crime fantasy I was really heading into it expecting what the title suggested, a big gold brick. Led by Brooklyn’s Emory Cohen and co-starring Andy Garcia, Megan Fox, Lucy Hale and even Oscar Isaac, the expectations climbed every time I read someone new on the cast list. The film recounts the story of fledgling writer Samuel Liston and his experiences with Floyd Deveraux, the enigmatic, middle-aged father of two who enlists Samuel to write his biography. The circumstances that lead up to this arrangement in the first place are quite astonishing, as Floyd basically runs Samuel over on a dark night,-and efforts to write the biography are quickly stymied by ensuing chaos as Floyd was already into some bad business that will quickly end the two’s newfound partnership. As high as my expectations were, it was never ready for this mess of a movie that was badly written from the start and features an almost nonsensical performance from Cohen that grated on my nerves every time he spoke. This brings me to Oscar who is utilized for a five-minute scene that goes absolutely nowhere. I appreciate where these filmmakers were coming from but they failed in every conceivable way.

Row 19 – Terror in the airplanes, that’s what we need right now just as we’re thinking of planning vacations and destination getaways now that we are seemingly emerging from this pandemic, right? Well, the Russians are. definitely not messing around and are bringing some frenetic action horror to the sky with some totally supernatural thrills. The story follows a young female doctor with a 6-year-old daughter who is on a night flight caught in a terrible storm. In a half-empty cabin, she faces unexplained deaths of her fellow passengers, loses her grip on reality and relives the worst nightmare from her childhood in an execution that plays to the strength of the ADD style of Russian filmmaking. Taking cues from Night Watch and Day Watch’s Timur Bekmambetov kind of movie-making, the inconsistencies in the plotting are evident but when it all gets rolling you care less and less. In the end, I was entertained with a good horror thrill ride but I recommend doing it with subtitles, the best way to watch a foreign film.

The Untouchables 4K – There’s no denying that Brian De Palma made one of the greatest gangster films of all time with his film Scarface in the early eighties but he also did it for a second time in the mid-eighties by showing both sides of the lawless and law enforcing with this Elliot Ness versus Al Capone masterpiece. Now in glorious 4K, this incredible film just pops off the screen and instantly renewed my love for it as well as shining a spotlight on one of De Palma’s crowning achievements. For those who haven’t seen it, the story follows federal agent Ness during the era of Prohibition in the United States as he sets out to stop ruthless Chicago gangster Al Capone and, because of rampant corruption, assembles a small, hand-picked team to help him. The cast in this film is awesome, with Kevin Costner and Robert De Niro taking the heavy lead roles and Sean Connery and Andy Garcia in really great supporting roles. The movie was nominated for four very deserving Academy Awards and Connery ended up winning his, beating out films like Broadcast News and Moonstruck. This is one of those must-see movies for any cinema lover.

Lucifer: Season 5 – The show that the fans keep having the ability to revive enters what I thought was going to be the finale for it, was split into two parts to prolong the magic, pardon the on the nose pun, and now is available to finish expanding your collection on DVD. The show has since been given a sixth season after it performed so well on Netflix with an all-new vigour following this season which focuses on Lucifer’s lineage, his past and those close around him getting the truth of what he has revealed to them. There is also a killer guest spot of 24’s Dennis Haysbert showing up as, wait for it, God himself and, yes, I’m so behind President David Palmer portraying the thing that makes people do the stupidest things when people use it to embolden their stances on politics and human and ethical rights. Okay, dialling back the ire here, but I will conclude by saying that this series has made lead actor Tom Ellis a bankable star and I’m more than happy to get more of him in this great role.

Steve’s Blu-Ray & DVD Geek-Outs:

Beverly Hills Cop II 4K – I know I already brought the first film in this landmark action-comedy trilogy, with the third film being a totally admitted flop, but it’s beautiful to see these movies that shaped my love for film get the update to 4K now. These were really the superstar making films in Eddie Murphy’s career and those who listen to The Shift know that we have a lot of love for Axel Foley, which hasn’t diminished for me at all. This sequel follows Foley as he returns to Beverly Hills to help Taggart and Rosewood investigate Chief Bogomil’s near-fatal shooting and the series of “alphabet crimes” associated with it. Taking over for director Martin Brest, this film is crammed full of everything we love about Tony Scott’s filmmaking as he was fresh off of the fighter pilot iconic scope of Top Gun. Murphy is at the top of his game and Judge Reinhold and John Ashton will always be widely underrated as his straight-laced police companions. This movie is still special and it really pops in this new format too.

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance 4K – John Wayne is a name that’s special on my dad’s side of the family as I have an uncle who idolizes The Duke and even named his first son after him, my cousin John Wayne Stebbing. I will say that my interest in Wayne is small, except for his work in True Grit and Rooster Cogburn but I know that this classic, co-starring Jimmy Stewart, is one of the benchmarks in his long and revered career. The film follows Stewart as Senator Stoddard who returns to a western town for the funeral of an old friend, John Doniphon, and tells the story of his origins. Flashing back, we learn Doniphon saved Stoddard, then a lawyer, when he was roughed up by a crew of outlaws terrorizing the town, led by Liberty Valance, played by the stalwart Lee Marvin. As the territory’s safety hung in the balance, Doniphon and Stoddard, two of the only people standing up to him, proved to be very important, but different, foes to Valance in a western story that really is a cornerstone in the genre. Getting this 4K transfer of this Oscar-nominated giant is really special and opened up my eyes to another great Wayne performance in the company of legends.

Succession: Season 3 – This was a series I was certainly very late to the game on but after the audience and critic buzz as well as the awards acclaim that it was evident that I needed to change that and I crash coursed it before this season was released. It follows the Roy family who controls one of the biggest media and entertainment conglomerates in the world and their lives as they start to make power moves in the hopes that their ageing father begins to step back from the company. The. series stars Brian Cox as the patriarch of the Roys as well as Kieran Culkin, Nicholas Braun and Jeremy Strong but the standout for me is Hiam Abass as Cox’s wife who constantly delivers knockout performance after performance. This is a winner for sure and the more people talk about it the more “watercooler talk” that it will be and those who aren’t on board will relive the things they went through when they didn’t watch Lost, Game Of Thrones or Breaking Bad. You snooze, you lose.

The Batman – This was the first highly anticipated release of the year for me as I’m sure it was for a lot of Batman fans out there and I dare say it squashed the conversation of Robert Pattinson only being a sparkly vampire for good. Yes, there was a lot of anger at the casting of the Tenet and Good Times star but I knew he was going to absolutely crush it as a younger Bruce Wayne and Caped Crusader and he really did. The film follows Batman as he is forced to investigate the city’s hidden corruption and question his family’s involvement when the Riddler, a sadistic serial killer, begins murdering key political figures in Gotham. The film is directed by Matt Reeves who has a perfect filmmaking record which includes Planet Of The Apes sequels and a remake of an incredible Swedish vampire masterpiece so I really have the utmost respect for him as a storyteller and he brings the batman character into a story style that should have been utilized from the beginning, the detective noir. Reeves approached this story almost like David Fincher did with Zodiac and it pays off beautifully with great character work, incredible cinematography and an unforgettable time in about the year three mark of Batman’s story. This is a “best of 2022” without a doubt.

Doom Patrol: Season 3 – After a killer first season and a killer sophomore season that kept the momentum going and added even more fun to the mix, 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 cool role but also gave some new life to 90s star Brendan Fraser who is continuing to get that redemption he deserves. For those who are uninitiated to this DC Comics world, it is a re-imagining of one of DC’s most beloved groups 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 get into you eyeballs this week.


Floor Is Lava: Season 2 (Netflix) – Netflix has a plethora of crazy reality shows with ridiculous premises but I have to say this is one of the top echelon of weird-ass ones and it definitely has to do with it being a take on an elementary playground game. The series follows teams as they compete to navigate rooms flooded with lava by leaping from chairs, hanging from curtains and swinging from chandeliers. Obviously, it isn’t real lava and the production of the series is turned up to eleven to make it look like lava but the sad thing is that no matter how much I wanted to hate this show, I felt strangely compelled to press play on each and every episode which was a lot because I hadn’t seen the first season before this one arrived. Stupid and vapid, this show has a compulsory drive to it that is undeniable.

Physical: Season 2 (AppleTV+) – All you had to tell me to sell me on this series is that Rose Byrne is in it and it takes place in the eighties. Hell, if I didn’t have an AppleTV+ account already, I’d get it for sure. Look at this streaming service go! The second season of this series follows Byrne as Sheila Rubin, a quietly tortured, seemingly dutiful housewife supporting her smart but controversial husband’s bid for state assembly but behind closed doors, she has her own darkly funny take on life she rarely lets the world see. She’s also battling a complex set of personal demons relating to her self-image which come to a head when she finds release through the unlikeliest source in the world of aerobics. At first, hooked on the exercise itself, Sheila’s real road to empowerment comes when she discovers a way to merge this newfound passion with the burgeoning technology of videotape to start a revolutionary business. I do feel that this show comes with more than a couple of caveats and trigger warnings as Sheila doesn’t hold back with her vitriol for one second and that almost immediately makes her sort of a villainous character in some degrees but it may be all in how you interpret it. The series is biting and fresh and I hope this second installment can showcase its longevity.

The Boys: Season 3 (Prime Video) – One of my current favourite shows based on one of my favourite comic books of all time is returning and bigger, badder, bolder and more offensive than ever and I can’t wait to get my eyes on every gory moment. Coming from the mind of Irish hand grenade writer Garth Ennis through the conduit of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, the sky is no limit as this show is sure to stir controversy with everyone who hasn’t seen it. The basis of the story follows a group of vigilantes who set out to take down corrupt superheroes who abuse their superpowers after varying tragedies and bring them together for a shared goal of revenge. Karl Urban, Jack Quaid, Laz Alonso, Antony Starr and many more round out a pitch-perfect cast of a comic series that I enjoyed over the years while creating an original path. That isn’t to say that it isn’t directly putting stuff off the page to the screen as we finally get Herogasm this season, the island retreat of sex and debauchery for all of the “superheroes.” This one is going to leave a mark, people.

The Orville: New Horizons (Disney+) – Seth MacFarlane is a creator that I really loved at the beginning of his run with Family Guy but as the series progressed and American Dad, The Cleveland Show and his Ted movies rolled around, he had started to lose his appeal with me. When it was announced that he was doing a Star Trek-like series my eyeroll may have been audible for blocks because, as much as I love sci-fi, it gave me zero interest and I never gave it a chance. Set 400 years in the future, the show follows the adventures of the Orville, a not-so-top-of-the-line exploratory ship in Earth’s interstellar fleet. Facing cosmic challenges from without and within, MacFarlane plays the newly minted captain of a crew of oddballs and after just a few episodes I’m really starting to see how this show survived to a third season now and has been wrapped in the Disney+ umbrella. The series is really funny in a way that feels fresh compared to the projects Seth has released before, the cast is filled with a bevy of solid character actors and there’s a self-referential beat to it that I’m enjoying a lot. If you haven’t seen it yet and like your sci-fi and a few laughs, this is recommended.

Pistol (Disney+) – When it comes to the story of the creation and wild years of a young Steve Jones, Sid Vicious, Johnny Rotten and Glen Matlock, collectively known as the Sex Pistols, there can’t be a more apropos filmmaker to guide that journey than Trainspotting director Danny Boyle. From the opening moments of episode one and Cooky stealing the microphone and amps of David Bowie from the Hammersmith Odeon, his style is all over this and it fits. The show is based on Jones’ memoir Lonely Boy and written for the screen by Craig Pearce, the guy behind pretty much all of Baz Luhrmann’s movies, and is the story of a band of spotty, noisy, working-class kids with “no future” who shook the boring, corrupt Establishment to its core, threatened to bring down the government and changed music and culture forever. The show isn’t getting stellar reviews but I’m really enjoying it so far, just based on the music history I’m seeing in it with the inclusions of future Pretenders frontwoman Chrissy Hynde and the badass legend of Siouxie Sioux. This definitely has a niche audience it is playing to and some people are going to get it and some people aren’t.

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