Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3 – In the final part of their story, our beloved band of misfits is looking a bit different these days. Peter Quill, still reeling from the loss of Gamora, must rally his team around him to defend the universe along with protecting one of their own. A mission that, if not completed successfully, could lead to the end of the Guardians as we know them.
Expectations: This is the end of many things as it brings to a close the story of a lovable bunch of a-holes and the completion of writer and director James Gunn’s involvement in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as he moves to course correct the DC Comics movie franchises. I expect Gunn to play everyone’s heartstrings like a well-trained classical musician and see the fitting finale of a trilogy that exceeded all of my wants and desires for it. What will it set up for the future of the MCU? That is unclear to me but I know that our main cast probably sees their swan song here.
Love Again – What if a random text message led to the love of your life? In this romantic comedy, dealing with the loss of her fiancé, Mira Ray sends a series of romantic texts to his old cell phone number…not realizing the number was reassigned to Rob Burns’ new work phone. A journalist, Rob is captivated by the honesty in the beautifully confessional texts. When he’s assigned to write a profile of megastar Celine Dion (playing herself in her first film role), he enlists her help in figuring out how to meet Mira in person…and win her heart.
Expectations: It’s an easy assumption to make to assume that romantic comedy dramas are generally not my thing unless they are really well written, subversive or have cast members that I love and I will say that this movie has none of the above I think. What’s that, Steve? Not going to watch it for Celine? That’s right, no appeal for me. I will say that I am enjoying Citadel with Priyanka Chopra-Jonas and I do like her lead in this, Sam Heughan, in his series Outlander but nothing from the trailer has any effect on me.
Carmen – To escape a murderous cartel, the captivating young Carmen (Melissa Barrera) is northbound, her route traversing an area patrolled by the US government and fanatical Americans who hunt people for sport. Mixed into the horde is local veteran Aidan (Paul Mescal), dragged into the ignoble mission as a means of earning money for his impoverished family. Soon, the star-crossed sweethearts intersect and, with hearts leading the way, take the wheel with Los Angeles on the horizon. Carmen’s goal is to seek refuge in a nightclub run by an infamous family friend named Masilda (Rossy de Palma) and bartender Gabrielle (Elsa Pataky). But as the song goes, l’amour est un oiseau rebelle — and perhaps love may not be enough when the laws of physics and men aren’t far behind.
Review: Based on the famous French novel by the creator of one of the creators of romanticism, Prosper Mérimée, world-renowned choreographer and dancer Benjamin Millepied makes an ambitious and striking feature film debut. After her horror breakout performances in Scream and Scream VI, actress Melissa Barrera is electric in this film and Paul Mescal follows his brilliant Oscar-nominated performance in Aftersun with another stellar outing here. This movie is unlike any in the literary adaptation catalogue and it benefits from that.
Acidman – Maggie tracks down her estranged father Lloyd, now living in the Oregon wilderness and obsessed with UFOs; together they attempt to make first contact.
Review: When I started this movie, I have to admit that I was expecting something that was more sci-fi driven but the heart of this story is the reconciliation of the estranged relationship of a father and daughter. More to the point, the film is a character study of a man who may be silently brilliant or mentally ill and the effect that has had on a woman who just wanted to know her dad. While I do wish that the film leaned harder into the sci-fi elements, you quickly realize that this was never going to be the focus.
80 For Brady – The movie is inspired by the true story of 4 best friends and New England Patriots fans who take a life-changing trip to Super Bowl LI to see their hero Tom Brady play, and the chaos that ensues as they navigate the wilds of the biggest sporting event in the country.
Review: This film is exactly what you expect it to be, funny in fits and starts and cringy throughout but it is a winning backdrop for four absolute legends. I will watch Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin do anything together, especially after the complete series of Grace & Frankie, but adding the adorable Sally Field and the iconic Rita Moreno just makes it that much better. I won’t say this is a good movie by any means but still thoroughly enjoyable.
Play Dead – Criminology student Chloe fakes her own death to break into a morgue, in order to retrieve a piece of evidence that ties her younger brother to a crime gone wrong. Once inside, she quickly learns that the fearsome Coroner uses the morgue as a front for a sick and twisted business. As a frightening game of cat and mouse ensues, Isabel will discover that the scariest thing about the morgue is not the dead, but the living.
Expectations: As a horror thriller fan, I have learned over the years that, whether as a writer or as a director, I generally have a fun time with Patrick Lussier’s movies. The guy has given us the cinematic rides of Drive Angry and the remake of My Bloody Valentine and now he’s making Jerry O’Connell super creepy and I’m totally here for it. The reviews are pretty favourable and it apparently leans into the dark humour which is Lussier’s wheelhouse, which only adds to my intrigue for the film.
Steve’s Blu-Ray & DVD Geekouts:
Deathtrap – When once-successful playwright Sidney Bruhl (Michael Caine) sees his latest Broadway effort bomb on its opening night, he tumbles into despair — until he receives a package from his former student Clifford Anderson (Christopher Reeve). Inside is an unproduced script that’s better than anything Sidney has written in years. At the urging of his wife, Myra (Dyan Cannon), Sidney undertakes a plan to lure Clifford to his country home, murder him and then announce the script as his own work.
Review: Going through legendary filmmaker Sidney Lumet’s work has been a true pleasure as I get older as a movie fan so, in picking up all of the Warner Archive collection chronologically, I was really excited to see another one of his mysteries for the first time. Featuring stellar work from the always incomparable Michael Caine, it really is Reeves who shines in this film, coupled with a really great script from the same mind behind Rosemary’s Baby. Sadly, it was the only time that Lumet and Caine worked together.
Chloe – Balancing family with a successful career, Catherine Stewart, a gynecologist, after years of being happily married to David, a college professor, starts to believe that the reason for her stagnant marriage is her husband’s infidelity, a suspicion fuelled after finding a compromising photo of him with one of his students on his cellphone. Insecure but curious to find out whether David is prone to adultery, Catherine while looking down from the window in her office, will spot Chloe, a young and elegant escort girl and she will hire her as a honey trap to flirt, seduce and report back. Without a doubt, Chloe is intelligent and quite proficient in her job, so before long, Catherine will be the recipient of the explicitly vivid descriptions of their passionate encounters that will ignite an unprecedented and inexplicable urge to hear more. However, as the appointments multiply, Catherine inadvertently loses control while putting her entire family at risk.
Review: Atom Egoyan is in that special category of Canadian filmmakers with a European-like directing eye, much like David Cronenberg and, to a degree, Xavier Dolan. This film has the feel of a steamy French erotic thriller and is very much played like that as well, with Amanda Seyfriend giving a hell of an underrated performance. If you look it up on Rotten Tomatoes, you will see it as rotten but I think the film was panned for its B-movie sex-hungry prowess, which I believe to be its strong suit. It feels like a restrained De Palma flick.
The Brak Show: Volume One – An network original, this is a story of a neighbourhood. It’s the story of a family. It’s the story of what happens when adults have children and those children go to school. And Brak is in it. He lives in a house. A house on a quiet street not unlike yours or mine. A house in a neighbourhood. That’s The Brak Show.” So goes Cartoon Network’s description of the new sitcom starring Brak, the absent-minded space pirate from the Space Ghost cartoons. He goes through all the typical sitcom situations with his friend Zorak. Also along for the ride are Brak’s parents, his brother Sisto, and his next-door neighbour Thundercleese.
Review: This is a blast from my television-watching past, circa the 2000s, that I had a burst of inspiration to watch so I went onto the net to find that it had been discontinued years ago. Luckily, a wholesaler warehouse I frequent had a dusty copy in stock and I was able to secure the first volume of an inanely hilarious little animated film that paved the way for Adult Swim to rise for us fans with a more mature sense of humour that is also completely immature. Now to find the second set.
White House Plumbers (Crave) – This series goes behind the scenes of the Watergate scandal as Nixon’s political saboteurs, E. Howard Hunt and G. Gordon Liddy, accidentally topple the presidency they were zealously trying to protect. Chronicling actions on the ground, this satirical drama begins in 1971 when the White House hires Hunt and Liddy, formerly of the CIA and FBI, respectively, to investigate the Pentagon Papers leak. After failing upward, the unlikely pair lands on the committee to reelect the president, plotting several unbelievable covert ops, including bugging the Democratic National Committee offices at the Watergate complex.
Expectations: Justin Theroux and Woody Harrelson toplining a new HBO limited series about Hunt and Liddy being the downfall of the Nixon government? And it’s by the producers behind Succession and Veep? Sign me the heck up for all five episodes! The show looks like a slam dunk no matter how you look at it because both of these actors are so consistent in delivering great performances and with Lena Headey, Kim Coates, Ike Barinholtz and more in the supporting cast, it just gets better and better.
Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story (Netflix) – The young queen’s marriage to King George of England ushers in an epic love story and transforms high society.
Expectations: With the massive success that the original series Bridgerton has become, it was only a matter of time til we saw other shows based in the same universe. Now we get a prequel following the young exploits of Golda Rosheuvel’s character, who is my favourite character on the show, so at least they’re starting at a high point. I do say this without having watched all two seasons of Bridgerton but I appreciate a good formidable actress.
A Small Light (Disney+) – Follows twentysomething Miep Gies who, when her boss Otto Frank came to her and asked her to hide his family from the Nazis during World War II, didn’t hesitate. For the next two years, Miep, her husband Jan, and the other helpers watched over the eight souls (Otto Frank, his wife Edith and daughters Anne and Margot as well as four others) in hiding in the Secret Annex. And it was Miep who found Anne’s Diary and kept it safe so Otto, the only one of the eight who survived, could later share it with the world as one of the most powerful accounts of the Holocaust.
Expectations: National Geographic and Disney+ combine for this historical drama that features one of my favourite British actresses, Bel Powley in the lead role, someone that has hooked me in movies since The Diary Of A Teenage Girl. I also find it fascinating to base this long-known story of Anne Frank around the woman who put it all on the line to save her and her family’s lives.I won’t let the fact that the showrunners come from a Grey’s Anatomy background bug me that much although I do wonder which seasons in particular.
Silo (AppleTV+) – In a ruined and toxic future, a community exists in a giant underground silo that plunges hundreds of stories deep; there, people live in a society full of regulations they believe are meant to protect them.
Expectations: I’m a sucker for a good post-apocalyptic story of survival and the trailer for this one has been plastered everywhere and I’m loving what I’m seeing of it. The cast is stellar, with Mission Impossible and Dune actress Rebecca Ferguson in the lead and Tim Robbins, Common, David Oyelowo, Iain Glen and more to help round out the cast. The show has the potential to be the next big hit for this streaming service if the substance within is as good as its players. Either way, I’ll be watching everything I can of it right away.
The Other Two: Season 3 (Crave) – Former “Saturday Night Live” head writers Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider are the creative forces behind this show, a scripted series centred around two siblings desperately seeking their lot in life. Aspiring actor Cary is struggling to land better auditions than “Man at Party Who Smells Fart,” while his sister Brooke is simply struggling in general. As they work toward self-improvement, their lives are turned upside-down when their teenage brother Chase becomes an internet sensation overnight.
Expectations: Only recently being clued into this show’s existence, I am now playing catch up with a brilliantly written series that takes precocious parody and interjects a couple of tragically comedic losers into the equation. I’m new to both lead actors Heléne Yorke and Drew Trver, but I have long loved Molly Shannon who plays the mom in the series. I also love how to offset their self destructive ways are from the pure goodness of their little superstar brother. It’s a great dynamic.
Star Wars Visions: Season 2 (Disney+) – Seven Japanese animation studios bring their unique perspectives to the “Star Wars” universe through a series of short films.
Expectations: This is one of the coolest things to come out of the Star Wars Disney+ releases as it explores the universe of Star Wars in incredible new ways, and gives us unknown Jedi tales in unique ways. Regular listeners and readers also know exactly how much I love an anthology and this one has so much added nerd cred to it.
Fatal Attraction (Paramount+) – An affair threatens the lives of Dan Gallagher and his wife, Beth, in this reimagining of the 1987 movie, exploring marriage and infidelity through the lens of modern attitudes toward strong women, personality disorders and coercive control.
Expectations: I have to be transparent here and say that I had some doubts about Paramount+ doing a series redo of this classic thriller that featured some iconic performances but the casting of Joshua Jackson and Lizzy Caplan gave me more incentive to watch it. I’m glad I did because I think it’s well written with great dialogue, Joshua is settling into what I’m thinking is a Clooney era, Lizzy is a formidable presence every time she is on screen and it features a plum role for Toby Huss to stretch his wings, always a treat. I have to say that Paramount really surprised me with this one.