Magic Mike’s Last Dance – Channing Tatum has returned to possibly the most popular character of his career for the final time but is in great company as Steven Soderbergh has resumed his position behind the camera and the lovely Salma Hayek is Mike’s new top lady. I will admit that the series doesn’t have an enormous appeal for me but that first film is way better than it should have been and I think it’s because of the great relationship between the lead actor and the basis for the entire character and this brilliant auteur so I hope for more of the same. The film follows Mike after a business deal goes south and leaves him broke and bartending in Florida when he meets a wealthy socialite who lures him to London to take the stage again, putting together his own show. Normally, I would ignore a film like this but my opinion of Tatum has changed a bit since his brilliant directorial debut Dog and I know he wouldn’t put energy towards this second sequel unless there was some substance behind it. That would go doubly for Soderbergh who isn’t known to do sequels beyond the Ocean’s movies so this might be a good date night bet for the weekend.
Somebody I Used To Know – Dave Franco has become a really interesting filmmaker in the last few years but not in the big theatrical way but on streaming services and more independent avenues. To this point always starring his wife, the great Alison Brie from Community, he made the fantastic horror mystery The Rental in 2020 but now he’s back with something a bit more grounded and relationship based. Reuniting Brie with her Community co-star Danny Pudi, she plays a workaholic named Ally who reminisces with her ex Sean on a trip to her hometown and starts to question everything about the person she’s become. Things only get more confusing when she meets Cassidy, who reminds her of the person she used to be and forces her to start making some changes in her life. Franco’s attention to detail in character is fully on display here as, different from your everyday romantic dramas, they actually feel like real people which to me is a big deal. With another well-rounded film under his belt, his sophomore feature, I look forward to seeing what he tackles next.
Your Place Or Mine – The headlines are more about how little the two stars of this new romantic comedy had on the red carpet at the premiere but even still I was looking forward to what Reese Witherspoon and Ashton Kutcher would bring to this Netflix original film. Immediately I’m drawn to it being the directorial debut of The Devil Wears Prada writer and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend showrunner Aline Brosh McKenna as I love her style. The film follows Kutcher and Witherspoon as two long-distance best friends who change each other’s lives when she decides to pursue a lifelong dream and he volunteers to keep an eye on her teenage son. Reese has years of experience of being the charming lead in many from coms but it has been a tougher battle for Ashton who only has a few hits under his belt and I’m not talking about Dude, Where’s My Car. That said, this film largely worked for me, aside from a handful of corny scenes and I believe the star power is what gets it through coupled with a solid script from McKenna.
Disquiet – Jonathan Rhys Meyers should have been a huge star after the King Henry VIII series The Tudors ended its run because it was so damn good but personal problems and drunken airport incidents squashed all that momentum. Since then, he’s been appearing regularly in direct-to-video or streaming projects which is what this one is but it plays on some supernatural horror themes so I’m on board with it to an extent. Meyers plays Sam, a man who wakes to discover he is trapped in an abandoned hospital after a near-fatal car accident by mysterious and sinister forces that have no intention of letting him leave. Disoriented and confused, he must find his bearings in a situation wildly out of control if he’s going to survive his ordeal. Meyers is the biggest star here besides home-grown character actor Lochlyn Munro and I’m sad to say that this vehicle isn’t going to catapult the troubled star anywhere near the A-list. The production feels cheap, the script is awful and even the horror feels like a retread of better ghost stories. This is just a dud on all levels that felt like a waste of time.
One Fine Morning – Mia Hansen-Løve is a writer and director whose work I got familiar with by attending the Vancouver International film Festivals for the last handful of years and the French storyteller’s way of telling simple human tales really gripped me. It is for that reason, and her collaboration with one of my favourite French actresses Lea Seydoux, that had me excited for this new film, mainly because I missed it at last year’s festival. The story follows Seydoux’s character, a young woman who lives with her eight-year-old daughter and finds her life under considerable stress with her father suffering from neurodegenerative disease. While struggling to secure a decent nursing home, she runs into a now-married former friend with whom she embarks on a torrid affair that she might be putting more weight on than he is. Beautifully shot and crafted, Seydoux gives a stellar performance under Hansen-Løve’s directing that gives a very distinct “moment in a life” feeling that is the bloodline of the film. My issue that renders it good rather than great is there isn’t enough of a dramatic shift to justify the two hours the audience is seeing. In the end, it just sort of rests in an all-well-that-ends-well sort of way and I found myself a little unsatisfied by that in particular.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever – This week you can climb back into the Marvel Universe in your own home for what is an emotional goodbye to Chadwick Boseman’s T’Challa but the birth of a new hero to take the mantle, as his sister, Shiri dons the suit and that’s not a spoiler because it is in the trailer. Leading up to the release in theatres, I had been thinking about the way that they were going to handle the death of a major Avengers player but I definitely had the utmost confidence in writer and director Ryan Coogler and was right to do so as he hasn’t let us down with any of his films yet. The story picks up with Queen Ramonda, Shuri, M’Baku, Okoye and the Dora Milaje fighting to protect the kingdom of Wakanda from intervening world powers in the wake of King T’Challa’s death of an unexplained disease. As the Wakandans strive to embrace their next chapter, the heroes must band together with the help of War Dog Nakia and Everett Ross to battle the emergence of a new enemy from the sea, in the form of a debuting Marvel heavyweight in King Namor the Sub Mariner and forge a new path for their nation. Namor is a key ingredient in the shaping of us getting mutants in the MCU, something already hinted at in the recent Ms. Marvel series and I love the Indigenous route that took with the character and his kingdom. The whole film feels so rich with style and substance, Coogler and his team knocking the whole production out of the park, and you can really feel the love in every moment, This film definitely belongs to now Oscar nominee Angela Bassett who again proves she is a force to be reckoned with and, heck, she may take that trophy home. She’s that damn good.
Legion Of Super-Heroes – The comic book nerd in me is excited as we get a new DC Comics animated adventure this week and something that pushes some usual background characters to the forefront. I love these movies because they are always a tight hour and twenty minutes, packed full of action and character moments, a tradition that has been going on for almost two decades now. The centrepiece of this adventure is Kara, Superman’s cousin, who we pick up with as she is devastated by the loss of her home planet Krypton, and struggles to adjust to her new life on Earth. Superman mentors her in her transition from being an intergalactic alien to a resident of Eatrth and a protector of it as Supergirl. Her new responsibilities come quickly though as she must contend with a mysterious group called the Dark Circle who searches for a powerful weapon held in the Academy’s vault. Like the films that came before, these DC animated films are an absolute blast to watch and this one is no different. The voice casting is always impeccable and this one has the benefit of Darren Criss, Jensen Ackles and Matt Bomer as the Justice League trifecta Superman, Batman and The Flash once again and Meg Donnelly does a solid job of voicing our new Supergirl. I also recommend getting it on 4K as the sound and colours just pop so differently.
Bergman Island – This is a real cinematic gift this week as there are two Mia Hansen-Løve movies available this week and this one happens to be a brand new Criterion release. Even better than that, this film also celebrates the art of movie making and creation in all of the best ways and at the heart of it is one of the greatest auteurs to ever grace the screen with his vision, Ingmar Bergman. The film follows an American filmmaker couple played by Vicky Krieps and Tim Roth who retreat to the mythical Fårö island for the summer, a breathtaking landscape where Bergman lived and shot his most celebrated pieces with the hope to find inspiration for their upcoming films. As days spent separately pass by, the fascination for the island operates on Krieps’ character and souvenirs of her first love resurface as lines between reality and fiction will then progressively blur and tear our couple even more apart all in the creative process. While Hansen’s new film this week wasn’t everything I wanted it to be, this movie may possibly be one of my favourites in her catalogue and very deserving of its placement in the Criterion Collection. If you are a film lover of any generation, I think you will find there is a lot to appreciate about this movie.
You: Season 4 Part 1 (Netflix) – This creeper thriller is making its moves to the finish line because Netflix usually rolls out the finale series as a two-part release and we get the first one here. Penn Badgley reprises his role as Joe Goldberg, a bookstore manager who you hate but can’t keep your eye off of but he is looking for a bit of redemption and a break from the life he created for himself. Now the question of season four is can he change his DNA to become a regular citizen? The story takes him out of his native United States and drops him in London which is very interesting and Joe even looks very different, like he’s in the Witness Relocation program, which makes me laugh. I really like Penn Badgely in this role, a weird thing to say, I know, but it’s high time that it comes to an end because, seriously, how many times can he get away with his dastardly actions?
Kindred (Disney+) – I really love the partnership between Disney+ and FX because if it wasn’t for that, we never would get this series which has already aired in the States and now arrives on Canadian soil. I find it disappointing that no one is talking about it though because it is perfect for mystery thriller fans who loved shows like Lost and Manifest and the first episode sent me into a need to binge it all. The series follows a woman named Dana who moves across American from Brooklyn to Los Angeles, buying a heritage house in Silver Lake. Acclimating to her new surroundings, things blow out of control when she experiences something that at first she addresses as sleepwalking but the reality is much more strange and unusual as she is finding herself transported back to slave times in America. This show is a slow burn for the first twenty minutes but as soon as we are on the path of weird, it get’s really fascinating. It really reminds me of the Janelle Monae film Antebellum but, you know, if it was done way better. This one could be that word-of-mouth thriller that slowly hooks viewers in I think.