Steve Stebbing

Breaking down all things pop culture

Sicario: Day Of The Soldado – It’s probably no secret but I absolutely loved Sicario. Helmed by my favorite Canadian filmmaker Denis Villeneuve and shot by the now Academy Award winner Roger Deakins, the film was a bleak and dark look at the battle over the border between the DEA and the cartels of Juarez, Mexico, a movie that felt very stand alone. When it was announced that there would be a follow-up movie I was hugely skeptical, not wanting this story to be milked into mediocrity. Day Of The Soldado was an unexpected shot in the arm as it had the same exact tone but furthered the arc of Benicio del Toro’s sort of titular character, this time focusing a bit on the cartel’s involvement in illegal immigration trafficking, something very relevant in these times. Benicio brings that quiet and subdued fire that lingered in the background of the first movie and absolutely drives this one with Josh Brolin adding that government bureaucracy that worked so well in the first film. This isn’t quite the caliber of the Villeneuve/Deakins collaboration but it’s a really nice following piece that deserves some attention.

American Animals – Sometimes, for suggestable individual, too much immersion in a fantasy world leaves you with an unhealthy limit in your disconnect. This is coming from a guy who watches so many movies that somethings start to blur together. In the case of this film, one of our characters watches way too many heist films and it ultimately influences an idea of ripping off a priceless art book from a university library. This brilliant film led by a great young cast including The Killing Of A Sacred Deer’s Barry Keoghan and American Horror Story’s Evan Peters which writer and director Bart Layton leads with an ingenious script that has the real four would be robbers giving their versions of the story to make up this mosaic of film. Easily, this one is one of my favorite films this year.

GLOW: Season 2 – It’s like a combination of some of my favorite things: great television and wrestling! The Jenji Kohan produced series returned with its second season Friday and is already again one of my favorite things that Netflix has ever produced. Season one was all about character development along with the progression of this ambitious women’s wrestling show from idea to finished product and now that the ground work has been laid, we can now go deeper. Alison Brie and Betty Gilpin take the top honors among an amazing women cast, all award worthy and definitely one of the best ensembles I’ve seen and it’s about time for Marc Maron to be recognized by the Emmys because his portrayal of director Sam Sylvia is such a highlight. Also, I can’t forget my boy Bash, played by Chris Lowell, a coked up joy whenever he’s onscreen.

Swiss Army Man – Back when I got to see the press screening of this film from the duo known as Daniels, I sat in the theaters with a dumbfounded look of joy on my face. What madness is this that the cinematic world had gifted me? For those out of the loop, the film follows Paul Dano, a man seemingly shipwrecked on a beach, who discovers a dead body on the beach played by Daniel Radcliffe. Upon discovering that this body is capable of everything he needs to survive, our main must also teach his new dead friend everything he knows about life, love and existence when he experiences a rebirth of sorts. This movie totally astounded me, making me want to watch it again immediately afterwards to absorb all of its sunshiny goodness as well as that Manchester Orchestra score. Well now you can over and over again because it’s on Netflix!

Another Wolfcop – Near the end of last year I had the privilege of interviewing Lowell Dean, the creator of the fun madness that is Wolfcop about his latest B-movie masterpiece and, well, the point is I had to gush to him how much I love both films and thanked him for making them. If you love grindhouse cinema like Hobo With A Shotgun or Troma films like, well, any of them, you owe it to yourself to pick up this Blu-Ray, which also comes in a two pack so you can experience them correctly. What’s it about? A hard-drinking cop who is also a werewolf. Simple enough? The movie is also Canadian through and through, filmed in Saskatchewan and featuring cameos from Lawrence Gown, honorary Canadian Kevin Smith and more. If you want blood, gore, Liquor Donuts and werewolf genitalia, you’ve come to the right place.

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THE CONVO: Millie Bobby Brown is standing up to bullying in her Acceptance Speech (for an MTV Movie & TV Award): “I’m Not Going to Tolerate It.” Her speech came days after she deleted her Twitter account following the rise of the hateful #TakeDownMillieBobbyBrown memes.

Also, Chadwick Boseman gave his MTV award to the Waffle House hero!

THE FLICK: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom – Another instalment of this epic series hits on the year that the original film turns twenty-five. Things get catastrophic this time When the island’s dormant volcano begins roaring to life. Owen (Chris Pratt) and Claire mount a campaign to rescue the remaining dinosaurs from this extinction-level event. I really liked the last movie so I’m excited about this one.

THE BINGE: Luke Cage: Season 2 – Netflix and Marvel continue their television collaboration with the second series about Luke Cage, who becomes the hero of Harlem when a sabotaged experiment gives him super strength and unbreakable skin. The second season has Cage clearing his name to become the legit bodyguard of his neighbourhood, taking on all new threats.

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On this week’s spot, Steve talks about the new releases Superfly (already playing in theaters), the long-awaited return of the Incredibles, the comedy Tag, the highly rated documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor? and the sleeper indie film Beast. On Blu-Ray, on of Steve’s 2018 favorites Love, Simon is available, the Strangers follow up Prey At Night as well as a Gnomeo And Juliet sequel for the kids and the reboot of Tomb Raider. It all ends of with Steve’s Geek Out this week featuring Forest Gump, Terminator: Genisys (yes, we’re aware it was bad) and some golden anniversary comedy with the John Landis films Coming To America and Trading Places.

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When it was originally announced that Zack Snyder would be helming the reboot of the Superman franchise I was pretty optimistic. Sure, he had a stumble with the style over substance Sucker Punch, derived from an original idea by him and his wife Deborah, but he had a solid comic track record. His adaptation of Frank Miller’s 300 was an astounding page to screen translation which, for me, pale substantially over time but that’s my damage really and his Watchman film is an incredible achievement given the vastness of the source material. So, things were looking up when he was put in charge with a new representation of the big blue boy scout.

Five years ago this week Man Of Steel hit theaters and, excited about the relaunch of a new DC Cinematic Universe, I had my tickets for opening night in my hot little hand. What I received was definitely not the Superman story I knew but instead, I got one from storytellers who seemed to have fundamental issues with most things that made Superman iconic. Gone were the bright colors, replaced by a muted tone filter. The beginning was epic, a real look at how Krypton fell but within that, we had Russell Crowe’s Jor-El flying some sort of random Pokemon character and then an hour into the film we would see him as an artificial intelligence program with incredibly unbelievable cognizance.

It’s almost like Snyder and writer David Goyer hated the origin lore of the character. Kevin Costner is well cast as Clark’s adoptive father Jonathan Kent but lacks any of the warmth we associate with him. Instead, he’s dark, moody and incapable of giving our hero the optimism in humanity. Amy Adams, on the other hand, is totally miscast, starting as a tough reporter with a knack for accentuating product placement but as soon as she sees Superman she is relegated to a wide-eyed giggling fanatic. There are so many character miscues that punctual this largely grim film that has weird pieces of extremely forced levity. This was the beginning of the feeling that there was a lot of creative turmoil in this DC Universe launch.

I close out my look at Man Of Steel with what worked for me and largely it is the castings of our hero and villain respectively, Henry Cavill and Michael Shannon. Cavill has all the look and ability to pull off both the Clark Kent role and Superman. I’m not afraid to say that the man is gorgeous which makes the injustice of the moustache removal that much more monstrous. In the case of Shannon’s portrayal of General Zod, the chameleon-like character actor manages to infuse him with a relatable motive of preservation of his people. His methods are what villainize him and eventually cause the 9/11 parallel that is the third act of Man Of Steel. Sorry, just wanted one last jab at this one on the way out.

Categories: #TBT

 

THE CONVO: Robert DeNiro is not a fan of Trump and Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown to remain on Netflix!

THE FLICK: The Incredibles 2 – Finally we get a follow up to one of the best Pixar films ever made. This time Bob Parr (Mr. Incredible) is left to care for Jack-Jack while Helen (Elastigirl) is out saving the world and the reviews are great so far.

THE DOC: Won’t You Be My Neighbor – An exploration of the life, lessons, and legacy of iconic children’s television host, Fred Rogers, a documentary that kept a big smile on my face throughout. That was until the emotions hit and the tears rolled.

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Sherlock Gnomes – If you’re looking for something on demand this week or weekend to occupy the kids you will come across this little animated film, the follow up to Gnomeo And Juliet. I’m still sitting here scratching my head, wondering how this film got made. Produced by Elton John’s Rocket Films, the first film was a tediously bland retelling of a classic infused with all your favorites from his catalogue. The weird part is it’s the rehashing of a classic TRAGEDY, something I always felt was weird. Well, this time we have Johnny Depp reaching for a paycheque in this mystery feature the world’s greatest garden gnome detective in a sequel that manages to out bland the last one. Seriously, enough to make me almost fall asleep in a theater filled with energetic children.

The Happening – Aside from The Last Airbender, this is probably the lowest of the lows for M. Night Shyamalan, released ten years ago today. What the hell happened with this movie? Mark Wahlberg plays a high school science teacher in the midst of a worldwide phenomenon of everyone just deciding to off themselves and, oh boy, what a mistake. Wahlberg was even confused by the casting himself, only taking it because he wasn’t a cop or criminal. The film largely feels like Shyamalan trying to deliver a backhand to society for choking out the earth because, spoiler alert, the plants were killing us! In the end, it all just became a large joke directed right at the struggling writer and director.

Hollywood Homicide – Remember this one from fifteen years ago, the film made with two actors who couldn’t stand each other even for a moment? If anything, this is the only thing that this Ron Shelton buddy cop film will be thought of for. According to Josh Hartnett, he and Harrison Ford were so unhappy with each other’s presence that they would spend hours in awkward silence on set. This did not make the movie entertaining at all as we had a bland and formulaic story with stale leads that had zero charisma together and this is coming from a Ford fan. Heck, I’d watch Morning Glory over this garbage again. But not Crystal Skull. Never Crystal Skull.

Trading Places – The formulation of my comedy side definitely came from all the John Landis films I watched far before I really should have been able to, which I accredit to my aunt’s massive VHS collection and the lack of supervision over what I was picking. This Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy classic is one of the leading films in that childhood crash course of funny and it celebrates thirty-five years of existence this week. The product of a very mean-spirited bet between two vicious old rich men, the fish out of water aspect on both ends of our character’s spectrum is still so much fun to watch and Aykroyd in a Santa suit is still my go to Christmas profile picture. And yes, I fell in love with Jamie Lee Curtis and you can watch it over and over again like me with the anniversary Blu-ray!

Jurassic Park – Steven Spielberg birthed the blockbuster film with Jaws and continued to re-up that with franchise film after franchise film and twenty-five years ago this adaptation of the popular Michael Crichton book stomped its way onto the screen. This movie was everything to me and, at the time, it was the movie I had seen the most times in theaters by the end of its theatrical run. Running down the surface level of great things in this film I have some serious points. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) was and is the epitome of brainy cool, Sam Neill made everyone want to study dinosaurs, Ellie Sadler was a woman that was tough as nails and, I have to side with Tim here, no raptors in the kitchen. I know people are screaming “Genero eaten off the toilet! C’mon!” This is just a short list of awesomeness, there’s too much to include in a short write up!

The Last Days Of Disco – Twenty years ago today we saw the re-emergence of writer and director Whit Stillman almost five years after his well-reviewed film Barcelona with a movie that would seriously put him on the map. Interestingly enough, he would then disappear again for another hiatus, this time a thirteen year one. A film about two fresh out of college Manhattan book editors looking for love in all the wrong clubs, this film introduced me to the lovely Kate Beckinsale and opened my eyes to the range of Chloe Sevigny, who I knew from Larry Clark’s Kids. It’s interesting to note that Stillman was pressured by the studio to put top name actresses in this film like Winona Ryder but he stuck to his guns and made the film he wanted to. Take that as a lesson.

This Is The End – Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg made their directorial debut five years ago with this totally meta film about the end of the world. Basically, during a party at James Franco’s house, the rapture happens and holes to hell open up all over the world, killing a lot of the party’s guests, some in spectacular fashion. The remaining ones, including Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride, Jonah Hill, Rogen and Franco, have to band together to survive in this hilarious film full of in-jokes and self-deprecation. This movie is pure fun, nothing more, nothing less. I can understand people having slight issues with it but you all knew what you were getting into, right?