Spider-Man No Way Home: The More Fun Stuff Edition – It was pretty damn cool to head into the end of last year with the biggest Marvel movie of 2021 and a film that changed the landscape of that cinematic universe for the next phase and now we get to experience an expanded edition in a dead month theatrical wise. There was so much speculation heading into this film, one that brings the multiverse into the equation and we knew from the trailers that Alred Molina’s Doc Ock, Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin and Jamie Foxx’s Electro appear but the big question was do Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield’s Spideys drop in as well? Well, the new poster for this version spoils that fact entirely so I guess the secret is out. The film takes up just after Spider-Man’s identity was revealed, forcing Peter to ask Doctor Strange for help. When a spell goes wrong, dangerous foes from other worlds start to appear, forcing Peter to discover what it truly means to be Spider-Man. For those who haven’t checked it out yet, this is possibly one of the most entertaining films in the whole Marvel universe and proves not just how great of a Spider-Man Tom Holland is but just how damn good Willem Dafoe is as well. There’s a reason that he is consistently my favourite actor in everything he does and I’m really excited to see what has been expanded and added on to make this the more fun stuff edition. It can only mean great things to me.
Honk For Jesus. Save Your Soul – If anything needs to be lampooned today, aside from the MAGA Gollums and evil Republicans, it is definitely evangelicals and the ridiculous lifestyles of Mega Church-owning pastors. Danny McBride has done it with his HBO series The Righteous Gemstones and now debuting writer and director Adamma Ebo is taking a crack at it. Starring Sterling K. Brown and Regina Hall, the story follows pastor Lee-Curtis Childs and his first lady Trinitie Childs as they attempt to rebuild the congregation of their Southern Baptist Mega Church in the aftermath of a huge scandal. Hiring a documentary crew to follow their story of redemption, it more shows the still present problematic qualities of their personality and marriage in a comedy that comes off with the realism and cringe that you would find in an episode of The Office. This film comes off as hilariously satirical but still believable because it is a blind fever that runs through America like a lifeline. Will audiences buy into the message that this film shares as we see the Childs flaunt their riches that were given to the church as an offering to God? Probably not but I enjoyed the journey myself.
Who Invited Them – I love these creepy little mystery films that Shudder is releasing in their low-key sort of way but, for us subscribers, Thursdays become the day of anticipation for these to drop. Not really big stars in this one but it does feature Ryan Hansen who played Dick on the wildly popular series Veronica Mars and he is the big reason I’m drawn to the film. The film is set at a couple named Adam and Margo’s housewarming party which has been a glowing success. One couple lingers after the other guests, revealing themselves to be wealthy neighbours but as one night cap leads to another, Adam and Margo suspect their new friends are duplicitous strangers looking to cause them some serious harm. This movie is already being applauded for its great use of tension, which has me really fascinated as I love a good slow burn thriller. I’m also excited to see the emergence of a new writer and director in Duncan Birmingham who got his major start in writing for the Patrick Stewart comedy Blunt Talk and the brilliant FX series Maron.
The Phantom Of The Open – This is a lucky week for character acting because we get a Mark Rylance-led film and based on a true story underdog tale with a character that features all of the Oscar-winning actor’s best qualities. Charm is the name of the game in this one as it also has the immeasurably great Sally Hawkins as Rylance’s wife in the film so the points it automatically earns are off the charts. The film has Rylance playing Maurice Flitcroft, a dreamer and unrelenting optimist, who managed to gain entry to The British Open Golf Championship Qualifying in 1976 and subsequently shot the worst round in Open history, becoming a folk hero in the process. Based on a novel by author Scott Murray, written by Paddington 2’s Simon Farnaby and directed by the immensely talented actor turned filmmaker Craig Roberts, this film is so endearingly funny and all has the brimming heart of its star and co-lead to rub off on all the other elements of the film. I loved the cinematography of it, done by Eternal Beauty’s Kit Fraser, which gives the whimsy of Flitcroft’s wonderful imagination in some really key scenes. The best part is that you don’t need to be a golf fan or even a casual viewer to really sink your teeth into it. The film feels broad in its appeal and I think it will spread through word of mouth.
Mr. Malcolm’s List – I don’t think it’s a far stretch of belief for me to tell you that I’m not really a Jane Austen genre fan at all, as they generally come off really predictable and totally stuffy while it does its thing. Something that can sway me into watching it is a good cast or notable actors in the cast and that’s what this film did with this by having Slumdog Millionaire’s Frieda Pinto, The Haunting of Hill House’s Oliver Jackson Cohen and British actress Zawa Ashton. While not directly Austen, it can be said that the story derives from some Austen tropes as the story follows a spoiled woman looking to win the heart of the most sought-after suitor in town, Mr. Malcolm. When she fails to meet an item on his list of requirements for a bride, she enacts a plot of revenge and convinces her friend to play the role of his ideal match. OF course, love and hijinx ensue and people end up in matches that weren’t perceived at the beginning of the story in a very Jane Austen fashion but the performances are so good that I was able to look past the things that would generally make my eyes roll. If that isn’t an inkling of a good review then I don’t know where I went wrong.
1883: A Yellowstone Origin Story – With the massive success that Yellowstone has gotten in the four seasons it has been on, it is only reasonable these days to think that Paramount+ would want to capitalize on that and make a spinoff project. Well, that is exactly what this is here but instead of spinning off to the side or ahead, we are going back to some origins. Creator Taylor Sheridan is giving us the beginnings of the Duttons in the late nineteenth century as they flee poverty in Texas and embark on a journey through the Great Plains to seek a better future in Montana. The show features real-life couple Tim McGraw and Faith Hill in the leading roles and also has stalwart western legend Sam Elliott to lend all of his gravitas to this new show that landed as a hit with its first episode. Unsurprisingly, the series got picked up for a second season already and also paved the way for an additional prequel series, that one being 1932 which is set to star Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren.
Blue Bloods: Season 12 – I have a traditional procedural to add to the television releases this week for those who love them, as I now move onto more primetime crime dramas with this Tom Selleck and Donnie Wahlberg-led show that has well over two hundred episodes now. Basically, for those uninitiated into this police show, this is like the Charles Bronson series of made for television movies A Family Of Cops but told much better as we have Tom Selleck as the patriarch of the family and also the commissioner of police, his sons Wahlberg and Will Estes as a detective and police sergeant respectively. The cast rounds out with Bridget Moynahan as the sister, an assistant DA, and the great Len Cariou as the grandpa, a former commissioner himself, the show is actually very solid and its long tenure is indicative of that. I know that when I post on social media that I have it, fans come out of the woodwork to like it.
Steve’s Blu-Ray Geek Outs:
The Frisco Kid – I definitely geeked out about this movie when I received it, as did my father-in-law because this is just a phenomenal western comedy at it came at a time when lead star Gene Wilder hit a little lull point between Silver Streak and Stir Crazy but Harrison Ford was a hot commodity after Star Wars just before heading into the sequels. That said, the marketing for it pushed Wilder and said really little about Ford’s involvement which I find weird and counterintuitive. The story follows Wilder as a Polish rabbi who wanders through the Old West on his way to lead a synagogue in San Francisco. On the way, he is hijacked and has to work his way across the country with all of his resources plundered and ruined. On the way, he meets up with a bank robber and they form a friendship and have many adventures, both good and bad, including being captured by Native Americans, a situation that could lead to the quick finish of their journey. This movie is so great and has such great chemistry between a legend like Wilder and a fresh-faced Ford just starting out his career. It’s interesting to note that the film was originally supposed to star the Duke himself, John Wayne, in the Ford role, which would have changed everything drastically. Only being offered half his quote and the pain of stomach cancer made that option a no-go.
The Patient (Disney+) – Fans of Dexter are going to be all over this new FX series brought to us by those great people at Disney+ and I had no idea that it would draw in this sort of television viewer until I got a good way into it. The two main leads will already get people’s interest as it features usually funnyman Steve Carrell in a serious role and has him opposite the excellent Domnhall Gleeson, most known for the thriller Ex Machina. The story follows a recently widowed psychiatrist who is kidnapped by one of his patients and held in his basement, chained o the floor and unable to escape. There is a method to his captor’s madness as he is actually a serial killer looking to tap into why he has his urges to kill and is bent on stopping them at their core. The concept is so intriguing to me and gives insight into the mind of a sociopath in an interesting way I really adore both actors, two really compelling character performers. The series was created by Joseph Weisberg who is no stranger to duplicitous minds and actions as he was behind the Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell thriller series The Americans so I expect good things beyond the few episodes I have seen already.
The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power (Prime Video) – Prime Video has bankrolled a lot of Jeff Bezo’s billions to do a big series version of the classic J.R.R. Tolkien books so a lot is riding on this return to Middle Earth that really has my interest if I’m being honest. With big shoes to fill having Peter Jackson’s version so beloved in our memory, I do already like the cast that has been put in place as Morfydd Clark was incredible in Saint Maud, and Peter Mullan has been amazing in British films for decades now and there are so many others that you may recognize from shows like Game Of Thrones, Homeland and Power. For those who want to get clued in on how they’ll tackle this story the synopsis that I have been given states that this show is set thousands of years before the events of Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings and follows an ensemble cast of characters, both familiar and new, as they confront the long-feared re-emergence of evil to Middle-earth. I know a lot of the internet community is throwing a lot of shade at this, strictly saying to not even “hate watch” it to give any analytics to Amazon but I am too optimistic to not give it a chance.