In this column I’m going to post some random, capsule reviews and synopsis of some stuff that we like. Please enjoy responsibly…
The Girl With All the Gifts – Zombies abound in this dystopian future nightmare that finds a scientist and a teacher going on a perilous journey full of peril with a “special” young girl. Heard this is pretty fabulous!
Tower – Excellent doc that uses many interesting cinematic techniques to tell the story of that guy who climbed into a tower on the University of Texas campus back in 1966 and shot a bunch of people. One of the best films of 2016.
La La Land – Emma Stone won an Oscar, as did the director, and the film itself almost kinda won, but not the Baby Duck (sad Ryan Gosling) for this lovely song and dance extravaganza from the guy who made Whiplash.
The Americans Season 4 – Finally, a fresh new season of one of the best shows on the TV. If you aren’t watching this, what’s wrong with you?
Woman of the Year – Great screw-ball comedy from 1942 finds Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy as married rival newspaper reporters. Lovely new Criterion release of this George Stevens classic.
Hidden Figures – Very nice crowd pleaser about a trio of African-American women mathematicians who were instrumental in getting NASA’s space program off the ground. So to speak.
Rogue One: A Stars Wars Story – Another Star Wars movie for you! Personally I enjoyed this one far more than The Force Awakens, which to me just seemed like a re-hash of the very first movie. This one tells the tale of how Princess Leia (RIP Carrie Fisher) got her hands on the plans for the Death Star. Yes, I know, again with the bloody Death Star! Features a weird looking Peter Cushing (RIP Peter Cushing) as Grand Marlf Tolkien or something like that. Also features a sassy robot!
Toni Erdmann – Amusing (from what I’ve been told – it was RJ’s favourite film of 2016!)), if over-long, Oscar nominated comedy from Germany about a practical joking dad who tries to reconnect with his estranged daughter by posing as her CEO life coach. Hilarity, I presume, ensues.
Lion – Oscar nominated fare about a little dude who gets lost in the busy streets of Calcutta and eventually gets adopted by an Australian family. After he reaches the age of 25, he sets off to find his original family. Based on a true story of course.
Daughters of the Dust – Groundbreaking, renowned indie effort from 1991 about a colony of folks on an island just off the coast of South Carolina whose ancestors were slaves and who try to keep up with their cultural traditions and ways of life in an ever-changing world.
Gimme Danger – Great doc about Iggy Pop and the Stooges as directed by Jim Jaramuch and, well, just Jim Jaramuch.
Master of None – Fine, hilarious little comedy about an Indian fella (Aziz Ansari) trying to make it as an actor in NY. Well worth checking out.
Planet Earth II – More animals doing what they do best, living, loving and eating. Amazing footage.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – Fresh Harry Potter-universe set thingy about a weird fella, Eddie Redmayne (not too sure about this guy), whose magical beasts escape from his magical bag and wreak magical havoc in olde timey New York. Pretty entertaining fun little ditty.
Doctor Strange – Pretty fun, visually impressive piece of fluff from the Marvel Universe. Annoying Doctor (name is Strange and is played by a guy named Cumberbatch) travels to Nepal in an attempt to regain his hand powers and becomes involved in a world of mystical arts and saving the world and stuff. Worth checking out, especially if you have a “prescription” from one of the many new “pharmacies” that have popped up recently.
Moonlight – Best Picture winner (why is it we only use the word “picture” when we describe an Academy Award nominated film? No one ever says, “Hey did you see that great picture, “Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo?!” It’s always movie or film) about the life of a guy growing up in a tough neighbourhood in Miami. I’m sure that there’s much more to it that my lame synopsis.
Certain Women – Another fine film from director Kelly Reichardt (Old Joy, Wendy and Lucy) finds three certain women – Michelle Williams, K-Stew and Laura Dern – intersecting in a small town in America. Heard very very good things about this one.
Manchester by the Sea – Highly touted (look at all the touts!) drama with lots of acting and words and stuff about an uncle having to look after his nephew after the boy’s dad dies. It should do fairly well come this Sunday (Oscars!)
Arrival – Arriving on the shelves just in time for the Oscars, comes Arrival! It was my pick for best film of the year, 2016. Don’t want to build it up too much but I adored this film. It’s good smart sci-fi that packs an unexpected emotional punch. It’s a crime that Amy Adams didn’t get an Oscar nod for this. Well, there are much worse crimes to get your potatoes boiling, but you know what I’m saying.
Edge of Seventeen – Dramatic high-school comedy about a young woman who finds it tough sledding when her best friend starts dating her brother. A symphony of small humiliations, I presume, ensues.
Found Footage Festival Volume 7 – Another compilation of amazing old VHS oddities selected and edited by these two funny fellas. I met and got drunk with them at the RIO a few years back. Good dudes they were. And probably still are. Available at Commercial, soon to Cambie (and soon Vol 8 for both!)
Nocturnal Animals – Fashion fella Tom Ford writes and directs this dark thriller starring Amy Adams (again with the Amy Adams), Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Shannon (he of the enormous head). An art gallery owner is haunted by a novel written by her ex-husband. Weirdness and terrible things are afoot. One of Dylan’s favourites from 2016.
Broad City Season 3 – If you haven’t been watching this show, you should. It’s pretty darn funny.
Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency – Most excellent adaptation of the writings of Douglas Adams follows a couple of fellas – Frodo and another guy – as they solve mysteries that are of the supernatural in nature. Good stuff.
Train to Busan – Fun Korean entry into the “world is over-run by fast moving zombies for some reason” genre. Some great zombie set pieces and non-stop action even out the heavy-handed melodrama for a fine zombie-filled evening on the couch.
The Handmaiden – Sexy, twisted, weird and hypnotic thriller from Chan-wook Park (Oldboy) about a schemer who poses as a handmaiden to a rich woman but has plans to defraud her. And that’s just the start. One of our favourite most excellent flicks of 2016!
Ouija: Origin of Evil – Prequel to the terrible Ouija film from last year finds some seance scammers unintentionally inviting an evil presence into their home via a scary Ouija board. Way better than one would think it should be. Actually some great scares with good characters and a well-paced sense of dread. Comes undone a bit at the end. It’s directed by the fella that made Oculus, which I quite liked. He was also born in Salem, Massachusetts, so he has that going for him.
American Honey – Much ballyhooed flick from Andrea Arnold (Fish Tank) about a free-spirited young woman who hooks up with a rag-tag bunch of hustlers as they traverse the American landscape. Shia LaBeouf is, for some reason, in this flick as the leader of the gang. Heard nothing but great things. Nothing!
The Fits – Strange and altogether wonderful film about an 11 year-old girl, played by the awesomely named Royalty Hightower, who becomes entranced with a dance troupe. To say more would be giving things away.
Oasis: Supersonic – Swell documentary about those nitwit brothers with the hairy eyebrows who made music in a band called Oasis.
Snowden – While initially disappointed that this wasn’t about some frisky coeds who were snowed-in someplace in the woods, I was impressed with this effort from Oliver Stone about famed whistleblower Ed Snowden. And while the relationship aspect of the tale falls pretty flat, the rest is quite intriguing and thrilling. The funny thing with whistleblowers in the moves is that American audiences cheer for them but in real life they’re looked at as traitors. Maybe this will help change things. Maybe it won’t.
The Beatles: Eight Days a Week: The Touring Years – Great doc from Ron Howard compiles a bunch of live Beatles shows and what not. If you like the Beatles (I think there’s a couple of you out there) check it out.
Eden – Good time party movie from France about a guy who starts a DJ collective that likes to hang out, play music, do some drugs and get busy. Yes please!
Hitchcock/Truffaut – A doc featuring many cool filmmakers who talk about how a book the Truffaut wrote about the Hitchcock influenced them as filmmakers. And also it’s about the time the two directors fought in a bare knuckle cage match for charity a long time ago.
In Order of Disappearance – Stellan Skarsgard (who, for some reason, autocorrects occasionally to “Stellar Skateboard” on my phone) plays a dad who’s son gets himself murdered. So Stellar Skateboard goes about seeking revenge inadvertently setting off a big gang war in this stellar black comedy.
My Golden Days – Nice nostalgia-laced French flick about a guy who reflects back on his past including a trip to the USSR where he got laid for the first time.
Miss Peregrine’s School for Peculiar Children – Tim Burton is back with another movie! Something to do with a kid that has odd powers who discovers a school with more weirdo kids run by Eva Green. Things then happen.
Captain Fantastic – Viggo Mortensen (Lord of the Rings guy) stars in this fine little subversive indie effort as a dad trying to raise his large brood on the outskirts of society. What happens when those outskirts just become skirts and they have to face the ways of the world? Watch and find out! Will be on my top picks of the year list.
De Palma – Excellent, from what I’ve been told by folks in the know, doc about iconic filmmaker Brian De Palma. I’m very interested in this one as he’s one of my favourite directors (Carrie, Phantom of the Paradise, Body Double, Scarface and so on). Our apologies but it’s only available on the Blu Ray for some stupid reason.
Don’t Think Twice – Much ballyhooed comedy about an improve group in NYC who suffers some trials and tribulations and other stuff when one of them gets a big break.
Don’t Breathe – Well-reviewed horror number from the guy that brought you that pretty darn good Evil Dead remake a few years ago about some fools who think it’s going to be easy to home invade that blind guy. Then things happen!
Hell or High Water – Excellent crime drama about a pair of brothers who go to lengthy extremes to prevent the bank from foreclosing on the family farm. I wonder if those extremes include clown college? Probably not by the way they carry those guns and heavy bags of something (dicks? Probably cash). Expect to see this on many best of the year lists.
Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World – Latest doc from the always amazing Werner Herzog focuses on the origins of living in the virtual world, up to the present and maybe even into the future! Because if anyone can see through time, it’s Werner Herzog!
Under the Sun – Odd doc about a Russian filmmaker who was granted access into North Korea to make a movie about a little girl and her family and how “wonderful” their lives are. But he managed to keep the cameras rolling and catches scene set-ups and the behind-the-scenes handlers and such. It’s beautifully filmed and both fascinating and, at times, boring. But it’s a cool peek into one of the most insane countries on this, or any other, planet.
Indignation – Well-received adaptation of a Philip Roth novel finds a nice Jewish boy grappling and wrestling with anti-Semitism and sexual repression in 1951 at a stuffy college somewhere in Ohio. Sounds like a dramatic re-telling of that classic, Porky’s.
Sausage Party – A hotdog goes searching for the true nature of it’s existence in this documentary, er, I mean animated comedy that’s definitely not for the kiddies. Unless your kid is, like 18 or The Omen something. Features the words and stylings of Seth Rogan and all his friends.
Star Trek: Beyond – The 13th (!) Star Trek movie finds the gang going out into space and finding some aliens who may or may not be (hint: not) friendly. Hopefully this one is actually good? Maybe 13’s the charm?
Blood Father – Mad Mel is back (did he ever really go away?) as Blood Daddy, an ex-con who’s trying to protect his daughter from some not-so-nice drug dealers. It’s Mad Mel doing what he does best, being mad and shootin’ guys.
The Night of – Excellent TV mini-series about a dude who wakes up with a dead woman in his bed. This seems to happen quite a bit in the movies. Thank goodness it doesn’t happen too often in real life.
Weiner – Excellent, funny, sad and, at times, intense doc about Anthony Weiner, former congressman and, by all accounts, good politician who just couldn’t stop texting photos of his dick to women he never even met. Crazy story with amazing access to him and his family. Make a good double bill with Client 9.
Banshee Season 4 – The final season for this awesomely fun, bloody, stupid, sexy, violent series. Best fight scenes of any show on the TV.
11.22.63 – High School teacher James Franco (!) travels back in time to try to prevent the assassination of JFK in this Stephen King/JJ Abrams production. Heard quite good things about this despite everything I just said.
Adventure Time Season 6 – Adventure time, come on grab a friend…
The Infiltrator – Good-looking thriller that has Breaking Bad working his way (infiltrating one might say) into Pablo Escobar’s money and drugs operation.
Preacher Season 1 – Sweet-looking TV series about a cursed Preacher (I think he’s somehow cursed – I can’t quite remember after reading the graphic novel so long ago) who goes around fighting bad guys and looking for God or something. Good stuff.
Swiss Army Man – The flatuent corpse of Harry Potter washes up on an island who’s only inhabitant is Paul Dano. They become fast friends and have many humorous adventures. It’s Weekend at Bernie’s updated for our times!
Wiener Dog – A sort of sequel to Welcome to the Dollhouse finds a grown-up Dawn Wiener (Greta Gerwig) as one of the oddball folks who come into contact with a nice little wiener dog. Love Todd Solonz!
The Wailing – Excellent (from what I’ve been told) Korean occult/horror/mystery/thriller about a mysterious disease that is effecting a small community somewhere in Korea. Very high on my list to check out.
Hunt for the Wilderpeople – Most excellent flick from the director of Boy and What We Do in the Shadows finds a rebellious kid getting lost in the woods with Sam Neill in New Zealand.
Neon Demon – Crazy weird and stylish horror flick from Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive, Valhalla Rising) about a naive model who moves to L.A. to pursue the modelling but comes under the influence of bad and crazy and sleazy folks. And does it ever get bonkers in the last 45 minutes or so. Yes please!
Schneider vs Bax – Excellent Dutch black comedy about a hitman assigned to take out a writer living in seclusion but the writer has other things on his mind. Probably like not getting assassinated.
The Shallows – Blake Lively gets stranded on a reef while being menaced by a big hungry toothy shark. Who will win the battle of wills?
What Happened Miss Simone? – Excellent doc about the late great Nina Simone. Quite a life she lived, I have to say. Pretty amazing. Great footage of her in concert and out of concert as well.
Neon Bull – Odd sounding flick from Brazil (which I am assured is quite excellent – the film – not Brazil, although I hear Brazil is also very excellent) about a rodeo guy who’s job it is to bring down bulls by the tail for some reason. But what he really wants to do is become a glitzy fashion designer. And so the tale begins…
Love and Friendship – Very good and very funny take on the Jane Austen classic finds Kate Beckinsdale and Chloe Sevigny cavorting around a country estate in 1790’s England playing matchmaker and stuff.
The People vs O.J. Simpson – If you haven’t had enough OJ following the excellent ESPN doc, check out this well-received TV mini-series. I was hoping that this would be campy and fun but it looks pretty darn serious.
Shetland – Over across the pond, a Shetland pony solves crimes in the small town…what was that? It’s not about a pony? It takes place in the small island town of Shetland? And it’s a human who solves crimes? Well, I’ll be hornswoggled!
Captain America: Civil War – Pretty good, if overly long (why are all these damn movies like 11 hours long?!), Marvel action dealy that finds Captain America and a bunch of his buddies squaring off against the Iron Mans and a bunch of his pals for some reason. Ant-Man and Spider-Man highlight a fun brawl at the (suspiciously security-free) airport.
The Conjuring 2 – Some more scares get conjured up (ahem) in this sequel to a film called The Conjuring. This time it takes place in scary old England! It’s not too bad – overly long, weak script and even weaker ending but has some scares to keep you on the edge of your toes.
Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping– Funny guy Andrew Samberg entertains in this laugh-getter about a former boy-band boy who’s having a tough time staying relevant in today’s pop music landscape. Expect to be laughing while watching this.
Hardcore Harry – What a completely bonkers film! How they made this we may never know. Dude (Harry) wakes up in a lab with fresh cybortronic limbs. Then the rest of the film is a violent, crazy chase. If you can handle shaky-cam action, slap on HH and strap yourself in for a totally fun ride! It’s like a first-person shooter game as we see everything from Harry’s point of view. Unique and thrilling!
High-Rise – One weird and crazy dystopian flick. It’s all set in a creepy high-rise building in the middle of nowhere that quickly turns into a nightmare of depravity. It reminded me of Snowpiercer but in an apartment building. Not for everyone but definitely for me!
Mustang – Oscar-nominated Turkish film about 5 sisters who are imprisoned in their own home for fear of them being promiscuous and such with the neighbouring boys. Sounds like a Turkish Virgin Suicides. Turvirgin Suicides? Will easily make my top films of the year. Made me weep it did.
O.J. Made in America – Best doc of the year (so far). It’s engrossing, mesmerizing, intense and illuminating as it traces The Juice from his early nice guy days to his murdering decent into depravity and madness. But it’a slo much more than that – race, police brutality and the cult of celebrity are given equal measure. Fascinating. It’s long but worth every second.
The Invitation – Pretty excellent flick finds a guy attending a dinner party at his old house but thinks the hosts might have bad intentions towards their guests. Love me some dinner party gone wrong movies. This is one of the better ones.
The Lobster – One of my favourite films of the year so far finds a pudgy Colin Farrell trying to find love in some dystopian universe before he’s turned into the animal of his choice. It’s weird, it’s hilarious, it’s mildly disturbing and absurd. You’ll either love it or you won’t.
The Knick Season 2 – Clive Owen is back as the drug-addled surgeon in Steven Soderbergh’s fantastic turn of the century hospital yarn.
Sing Street – Sweet little number about a kid growing up in Dublin in the 1980’s who starts a band to impress a girl. Like every other band that was ever started.
A War – Excellent war drama from Denmark finds a guy having to make tough decisions in Afghanistan and back home. Stupid war.
High Rise – Ben Wheatley (Kill List) and JG Ballard (Crash) team up for this weird unsettling look at the odd and sometimes nasty citizens who occupy a high-rise building. Looks totes cool.
Sleeping Giant – Great-looking Canadian film about 3 teens spending their summer at a cottage on Lake Superior. Much comedy, drama and life lessons, I presume, ensue. Heard very good things about this one.
Green Room – One of my favourite films from last year finds a down-on-their-luck punk band reluctantly taking a gig at a nazi skinhead compound lead by a nasty Patrick Stewart. How cool does that sound? Of course things don’t go very well. Violent, funny and tense. From the guy who made the excellent Blue Ruin.
Boy and the World – Most excellent award-winning animated feature from Brazil about a boy who goes on a quest to find his dad. The Dad from Ipanema?
House of Cards Season 4 -Another excellent season of this fine television program (even if it is from Fascinating).
Janis: Little Girl Blue – Very good and quite sad doc on the late great Janis Joplin. Watching this I realized, despite how much I liked her, I really couldn’t stand listening to her sing. But that’s just me. I’m old.
The Mermaid – New fun and nutty flick from Stephen Chow (Shaolin Soccer) about mermaids being threatened by encroaching development. What’s a mermaid to do?!
Midnight Special – Pretty good sci-fi actiony type thriller finds Michael Shannon, his enormous head, and his son (normal sized-head) on the run from the government and a mysterious cult all of whom want the boy as he’s believed to harbour some powerful powers. A few plot holes aside, this is a fairly enthralling flick from the guy that made Take Shelter and Shotgun Stories.
The Wave – Excellent Norwegian action flick about a giant tsunami that rips down a fjord after part of a mountain falls in the water. Nowhere is safe.
10 Cloverfield Lane – After being rescued following a car accident a women is held in a bunker by a couple of fellas, one of them being John Goodman (he’s a good man, that’s probably why his parents named him that), who claim that the outside world is wrecked because of some sort of chemical attack. But what is really going on? Cloverfield Lane eh? Hmmm makes you wonder.
Anomalisa – From the brilliant mind of Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich) comes this amazing film all done up like with stop motion animation. It’s about a guy hoping to escape the mundane existence he finds himself trapped in. Or something like that. Look for this on many best of the year lists.
The Boy and the Beast – Awesome looking anime from the director of the great Wolf Children finds an orphaned street urchin falling in with some magical beasts.
Buzzard – Excellent little indie comedy/drama finds an angry young man lashing out at the system that wants to bring him down. And he has a special magical “power glove!”. Heard great things about this one.
Hail Caesar! – Another gem from the Coen Brothers finds a Josh Brolin as a Hollywood fixer in the 1950’s who has to try to find a missing George Clooney. Hilarity, I presume, ensues.
Zootopia – Most excellent animated adventure comedy finds a rookie bunny cop teaming up with a smooth-talking con-artist fox to unravel a mysterious conspiracy. Good for kids. Good for adults. Good for everyone in between.
Theeb – Excellent intense adventure from the Middle East finds a young boy going on a perilous journey to take a British officer somewhere in the desert. Nominated for foreign film Oscar.
The Heavy Water War – Excellent Norwegian mini-series about Hitler’s attempt to make some atomic bombs (that would have been bad news) and the brave Norwegian saboteurs who thwarted the dastardly Nazis efforts.
Triple 9 – Great-looking crime caper with a fine cast (Casey Affleck, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Woody Harrelson, Kate Winslet) directed by the dude who made The Road and The Proposition! Sign me up!
Afterlife Season 1 and 2 – Cool, spooky TV series finds Rick from The Walking Dead as a university prof who gets himself entangled in some supernatural shenanigans after teaming up with a medium (not a small or a large but a medium). Count me tickled to check this out!
The VVitch – Most excellent scary horror chiller set in the olden days (so olden in fact they didn’t have any Ws to spell words with so they had to use two Vs) about a family living in the middle of nowhere who are beset upon by the forces of evil. Put this one in your DVD player and watch it!
Attenberg – Weird and crazy (same thing really) coming of age Greek film about a 23 year-old girl growing up in a dull town. She spends her time watching David Attenberg docs (hence the title) and hanging out with her only friend, Bella. Then a visiting engineer comes to to town (played by the director of Dogtooth and The Lobster).
Where to Invade Next – Michael Moore’s latest doc finds him “invading” various countries to see what they have to offer the US for their next invasion.
Krampus – Fun Christmas horror (just in time for spring/summer!) about a kid who has a crappy Christmas so he does what every kid dreams of doing after having a lousy Christmas – he summons a Christmas demon who’s going to poop in your stocking and probably much worse! From the director of one of my favourite Halloween films, Trick ‘r Treat.
The Legacy – From the nice people who brought you Borgen and The Killing comes this fine drama from Denmark about the death of a family matriarch and the ensuing battles for her estate by her four children. I imagine that it’s a lot better than I just made it sound.
The Fall S2 – Scully is back in this intense, gripping detective show hunting down some bad men. If you loved Season 1, and I know that you did, you’ll fall for season 2. Get it? Fall for? Heh-heh.
Deadpool – Despite starring Ryan Reynolds, this flick is a blast! A dying guy undergoes some shady treatment at the hands of a mean unfeeling psycho only to be transformed into Deadpool who can’t be killed or maimed (he’ll even grow things back!). He then proceeds to track down and eliminate the guy who made him a monster. Lots of winking at the camera, and the superhero genre in general – maybe a little too much for me – and tons of great violence and sexy bits make this one of the best of the Marvel films (even if there’s some shoddy CGI). And not for the kiddies which is a nice change of pace.
Son of Saul – Sad and intense Holocaust drama finds a guy helping out a younger fella in the horrors of Auschwitz in 1944. Great movie. Won the Oscar for best foreign film.
The Club – aka El Club – Chilean flick from the director of such fine films as No, Tony Manero and Post Mortem, finds a crisis counselor who travels to a small Chilean beach town where disgraced priests and nuns (their crimes ranging from child abuse, of course, to baby snatching) are sent to live weird secluded lives. Heard great things about this flick. Make a nice fun evening doubled up with Spotlight.
The Revenant – Leo gets attacked by a bear and left for dead somewhere in the cold nasty wilderness. Follow him on his brutal, punishing, but beautifully filmed, journey as he seeks to take vengeance on Tom Hardy (who is great in this, even if you can’t really understand most of what he says). Pretty amazing film, of not overly long. It will make you never want to go camping with Tom Hardy again. Or at least travel back in time and become a fur trapper.
Phoenix – Highly acclaimed German drama about a disfigured Holocaust survivor who returns to the rubble of Berlin to find her lover who may or may not have betrayed her somehow. I’m intrigued. (Criterion edition so you know it’s good)
Lady in the Van – Maggie Smith lives in a decrepit old van that she parks in a guys driveway and refuses to leave. For 15 years. That sounds terrifying but I imagine that they become friends and life lessons are learned. Either that or she kills him and keeps his corpse in the van where she proceeds to slowly devour him.
Silicon Valley S2 – Pretty darn funny show about some tech nerds forging their way in the world of computers and stuff.
Banshee Season 3 – One of my favourite shows in recent memory. It’s filled with gratuitous violence and sex and that’s OK by me. It’s like a little exploitation film but in TV series form. This season is no exception with some amazing fisticuffs and sexy shenanigans. If this kind of thing is your bag check it out. If not, there’s always Downton Abbey (which I also quite enjoy, even without the sex and violence).
Faults – Cool-looking (and pretty good, says a couple of my sources) flick about cults and the weirdos who run them and the lost souls who get sucked into them. People are strange.
Creep – Fine-looking little creepfest (see title) that finds a video guy answering a job posting on Craigslist from a guy who isn’t exactly what he makes himself out to be. What is he? Is he a Yeti? Cthulhu? A creepy weirdo?
The Expanse Season 1 – Sweet-looking (and quite good from what I’ve heard) space TV series about a vast conspiracy that threatens a colony that dwells in our asteroid belt. Like Sci-fi? Like good exciting drama? Like other things? Then check this one out.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens – All of your favourites return in the new Star Wars film: There’s Ham Salad and his trusty giant space bear sidekick, that annoying robot who sounds like a whiny English butler, Cool Hand Luke, Princess Cocaine and Darth Vader’s helmet that looks like a Jack-O-Lantern that was left out on the porch until April. All kidding aside, it’s actually a pretty good flick (even if it’s just basically a re-hash of the the first one) and much better than those dreadful prequels with not a Jar Jar in sight!
Cartel Land – Heavy-duty, Oscar nominated documentary about some upstart vigilante type fellows who take on Mexico’s murderous drug cartels. Might make a nice double bill with Sicario. Or maybe a nice double bill with Love, Actually if that previously mentioned double bill is too heavy for you.
Hateful Eight – Tarantino’s latest is a western that finds a bunch of potty-mouthed criminals and bounty hunters holed up in a shack in the middle of winter. There’s a mystery to be solved and bullets to be fired and the “N” word to be thrown around. Pretty fun flick (not near the top of the QT canon), if overly long, with a stellar cast (Walton Freakin’ Goggins!) and boasts some amazing cinematography.
Game of Thrones Season 5 – More dragons! More boobs! More beheadings! More! MORE!
The Big Short -Excellent comedy (yes comedy – it’s made by Adam MacKay who made Anchorman and Step Brothers (but don’t let that stop you from watching this fine film) – dealing with the housing bubble and all the confusing corruption thrust upon the people by the big banks. Why aren’t those pricks in jail? Has a great cast, Pitt, Carrell, Bale and our favourite baby duck, Ryan Gosling.
Carol – Swell looking film from Todd Haynes (Superstar: Karen Carpenter Story, Far From Heaven) finds Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett falling in forbidden love during the 1950s. Was nominated for some awards or something.
Entertainment – New weirdo flick from the weirdo filmmaker who made The Comedy finds a broken down comedian (Neil Hamburger) playing a string of terrible shows in the Mojave desert. This played at VIFF this past fall to (mostly) awesome reviews. Sounds pretty much right up my alley although my alley can be best described as weird at times.
The Tribe – Odd intense bleak film about a deaf kid making his way through a boarding school for the deaf. No dialogue and no subtitles make for challenging viewing but, from what I’ve been told, an awesome shattering disturbing experience. Yes please!
Americans S3 – Everyone’s favourite spies are back doing their best to win the Cold War for Mother Russia! Very good show.
Broad City S2 – One of the funniest shows on the TVs is back with Season 2. Get this in your face!
Creed – I so wanted to write the words “Best Actor winner Sylvester Stallone” but it was not to be. That quiet guy from Bridge of Spies won for wearing a nice hat. I’m not too sure what number this falls into for the Rocky series – 9? 10? Remember the one in space? That was awesome. Ahem. I’ve heard nothing but great things about this latest instalment. Lot of punching and life lessons, I presume, can be found here.
Room – Award winning heavy drama about a mom and her kid held in captivity (probably the room of the title) by some sick freak. They finally escape after more than 5 years and have to adjust to “normal” life. Not to be confused with noted thespian Tommy Wiseau’s epic poem to cinema, The Room.
Togetherness Season 1 – Excellent new TV series from the Duplass Brothers (Safety Not Guaranteed, Your Sister’s Sister) about two couples who decide to share a home for some reason. Check this one out.
Leftovers S2 – Probably my favourite TV show at the moment (that is, until Fargo Season 2 pops in the door). And one that hardly anyone has seen or heard of. It’s kind of a sci-fi drama where, for reasons unexplained, 100 million people just vanish. Probably not a bad thing overall. The folks remaining – The Leftovers of the title – are left to figure things out and go crazy. Check this one out.
99 Homes – Intense looking drama that finds one of the Spider-Men (Mans?) losing his house to foreclosure during that nasty bit of criminal activity perpetuated by the banks back in 2008. He’s then is forced, for some reason, to go to work for Michael Shannon and his enormous head who happens to be the scuzzy dude who took his home.
The Assassin – Lovely and amazing period piece from China about, yes you guessed it, an assassin! And not just any old assassin but THE Assassin.
Bridge of Spies – Oscar nominated spy dealy has Senior Speilbergo directing famed actor Tom Hanks in this Cold War era thriller that features spies and lawyers and espionage and furrowed brows and everything!
Show Me a Hero – Most excellent political thriller mini-series starring Oscar Isaacs about corruption and public housing and unfortunate moustaches other fun stuff.
Truth – Robert Redford is Dan Rather in this dramatic drama about CBS news and their 2004 investigation into George Bush’s military service, or lack thereof, and how it cost Dan and his producer Marla Maples, their careers.
Deathgasm – Awesome horror-comedy finds two heavy metal dudes fighting an ancient evil known as Aeloth the Blind One who wants to rip apart the very fabric of reality. Whatever that is. Along the way they have to deal with family members, friends and neighbours who have been possessed and have turned into psychotic murderers. Includes not one, but two deaths by giant dildo. Good fun!
Diary of a Teenage Girl – Great coming of age drama/comedy finds a teenage girl having an affair with her mom’s boyfriend. Yikes! This one showed up on a lot of best of the year lists. So there’s that.
Experimenter – Fine drama about Stanley Milgard (Peter Sarsgaard – kinda rhymes) who was that dude who designed the experiment in which one person was to administer an electric shock to another poor bastard in a different room. The experiment was to see if folks would continue to shock the monkey if told to do so.
My Internship in Canada – Canadian comedy from the great province of Quebec finds an MP who, for some reason, holds the deciding vote on whether or not Canada will go to war. With whom, I’m not too sure. I hope it’s Iceland. We’d kick their asses!
The Look of Silence – Another excellent doc (Oscar nominated!) from that guy who made Act of Killing. This is kinda like an extension of that film as it follows an optometrist in Indonesia who tracks down and confronts the maniacs who murdered his brother. A very dangerous thing to do as these awful people are still in power. I spent 2 months in Indonesia last year and it’s such a lovely country and the people so nice it’s hard to imagine the horrors that befell this place all those years ago and that the pricks who did the killing still have never been prosecuted.
This Changes Everything – Great, important doc follows the amazing Naomi Klein as she tries to save the world from climate change which, of course, will kill us all. Come on people, get out of your cars and off your tanning beds! Let’s save the world!
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl – Nice little sad and hilarious tale of a guy who’s forced to spend time with a dying classmate. Great soundtrack and a love for classic films add to the general excellentness of the proceedings.
Nasty Baby – From that dude who made Magic Magic and The Maid comes this interesting looking number about a gay couple that wants to have a baby so they ask Kristen Wiig for help. Is there anything that Kristen Wiig can’t do?
Angst – Weird, unpredictable, unsettling psycho on the loose flicks form the 80s’. Great score and long takes add to the uncomfortableness. One of Gaspar Noe’s favourite films. So there ya go.
Sicario – Most excellent action-drama about Mexican drug warlords and the good-looking DEA agents that try to stop them. Great cast, mood, soundtrack, violence, cinematography. This film is aces!
The Visit – M. Night Shamalamading-dong is back, only this time he’s back with a good movie in tow. A couple of kids are off to their grandparents house for some creepy going’s ons. As the tagline on the box says, “Does for grandparents what Jaws did for going to the beach” For some reason I can only picture grandparents at the beach and that’s pretty terrifying. I’m not too sure why this guy still gets to make movies. He’s done a few good ones – 6th Sense and Unbreakable (and I have a soft spot in my heart for The Happening – so damn funny) but he’s made nothing but terrible things for such a long time. I’m hoping that this is good as I have heard that it is. Fingers crossed. Again.
Nathan for You S1 and 2 – Amazing and hilarious docu-reality series has a dude – Nathan – who helps real small businesses with his crazy strategies that are guaranteed to blow your mind and your funny bones (guarantee not guaranteed).
Mission Impossible 5: Rogue Nation – “Will someone get that Scientologist off of my airplane?!” Tom Cruise is back saving the world from some bad guys in the latest instalment of this pretty darn good series. He must be getting up there in age, that Tom Cruise. I wonder how he stays so young-looking and fit? The virgin blood of young Scientologists would be my guess.
Turbo Kid – Probably the most fun film of the week, if not the month or year! The Kid, riding his BMX in the post-apocalyptic wasteland with his new girlfriend, Apple, go on a great adventure to fight the evil warlord, Zeus (Michael Ironside – yay!) and save the wasteland. Because the wasteland needs saving. Great fun!
God Help the Girl – Written and directed by the guy from indie music darlings Belle and Sebastian, this sweet tale follows Eve who writes songs to deal with life’s big problems (well big when you’re a youngin’). She then meets a couple of wayward musician types and together they tramp around Glasgow for one magical summer. Being a fan of Belle and Sebastian, I’ll have to give this one a go.
Kurt Cobain: A Montage of Heck – Excellent doc about the life and times of a grunge musician from Seattle. You may have heard of him.
Hannibal Season 3 – The last season in this fine gruesome show. Mads Mikkelson is an excellent Hannibal the Cannibal. Nom-nom!
Louie Season 4 – Love me the Louis CK! Funny, smart, sad, shocking. Is there anything he can’t do?
Mississippi Grind – From the directing team that brought you the most excellent Half-Nelson comes this fine gambling drama that finds Ryan Reynolds (don’t let that put you off) and Ben Mendelsohn (might be my favourite new actor on the scene) as a couple of gamblers who gamble their way to New Orleans where they plan on doing, you guessed it, some gamblin’.
Mistress America – Another fine film from Noah Baumbach that stars the amazing Greta Gerwig. Remember Frances Ha? Great film. Greta film. Anyhoo, here she’s hanging around her uptight stepsister in fabulous New York.
The Seven Five – Another great documentary (lots of those this week)! This intense crime-riddled story is about the dirtiest filthiest nastiest most corrupt cops in all of 1980s New York.
Tangerine – Great little indie-effort about a “working girl” as she traverses the underbelly of Hollywood on Christmas Eve looking for the pimp who broke her heart. Lousy pimp. Note of interest – this film was shot entirely on iPhones. Not too sure if it was a 4 or a 5 or a 6 or a 7.
The FP – Crazy fun odd weird post-apocalyptic dance movie about two rival gangs fighting for control of Frazier Park (The FP!) by competing in something called Beat Beat Revolution which is a deadly version of Dance Dance Revolution which, I presume, is a thing. Noted film critic Rob Zombie likens this cult classic to “The Karate Kid starring a redneck Snake Plissken versus white trash Clubber Lang against the backdrop of The Warriors set to a bumping disco John Carpenter soundtrack in the world of Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo“. And we like all of those things, right?
Klown – Strange unsettling offensive Danish comedy about a guy who kidnaps his pregnant girlfriend’s nephew to help prove he’s ready for fatherhood. Good idea. Even better idea? Take him along on a debauched weekend canoe trip with his crazy buddy, Casper. Really looking forward to this one! It’s Klown spelled with a K!
Shaun the Sheep Movie – Most excellent animated comedy from the Aardman folks finds the title sheep in trouble in the big city on his day off. Fun for the whole family or just you if you don’t have a family.
Best of Enemies – Fascinating documentary that puts together a series of debates from 1968 between conservative William F. Buckley and liberal Gore Vidal. Looks pretty interesting especially if your thing is watching two old white men talk in a room.
The Beaver Trilogy – How to begin to describe this bout of weirdness? Filmmaker Trent Harris meets this kid, Groovin’ Gary, in parking lot and Groovin’ Gary invites Harris to the town of Beaver, Utah to check out a strange little talent show. Years later Harris films this original documentary but this time with a very young Sean Penn and then, if that weren’t enough, he films it again years later starring Crispin Glover. And there you have the Beaver Trilogy. This is something Black Dog has been wanting for many years and we’re proud to have finally got our grubby little mitts on it. Now you can to!
Amy – An amazing, heartbreakingly sad and insightful doc that probes the beginning and end of Amy Winehouse and that incredible voice. George Burns nailed it when he said, “Show business is a hideous bitch goddess”.
Utopia Season 1 – Most excellent TV show from Britain about a group of online friends who come into possession of a comic book manuscript that seems to have predicted some of the worst disasters in recent memory. Suddenly they all become targets of a shifty organization know as either “The Network” or “Fun Happy Wonderful Unicorn Days”. I can’t remember. Watch and find out!
Trainwreck – Hilarious (if not overly-long but, after all, it is a Judd Apatow film) comedy that finds commitment-phobic Amy Schumer trying to figure out what to do when she meets an actual nice guy. Word has it that there are still a few of those left out there. Many guffaws and awkward situations, I presume, ensue.
Peaky Blinders Season 1 – Excellent gangster show from Britain about a tough, notorious gang who were famous for sewing razor blades into their caps for some reason. I guess this could come in handy if you wanted to share your apple or pear with your friends but didn’t have a knife to divvy it up.
Better Call Saul – Remember that sleazy lawyer Walter White hired on Breaking Bad? Well, now he has his own show! It’s a wacky sitcom that finds Saul and his voluptuous Latin American wife raising their witty and precocious teenagers while navigating life’s ups and downs. Just kidding. It’s a prequel of sorts to the Breaking Bad events and brings back some of your favourite characters including Mike Ehrmantraut. I hear it’s actually pretty damn great.
The Gift – Not to be confused with the excellent Sam Raimi film of the same name (The Gift), this one finds a dude from Jason Bateman’s past dropping off a bunch of mysterious gifts containing a horrifying secret to him and his nice family. I like gifts. Who doesn’t like gifts? Unless it’s like a head in a box or something.
The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet – Latest from imaginative French visionary dude Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Amelie, Delicatessen) is a fantasy epic about a 10 year old smart kid who secretly travels across the country to receive an award at the Smithsonian.
Inside Out – Pixar’s latest slice of excellence finds a young girl who moves to a new city but has her emotions manifest into cute little animated characters all fighting on how to control her as she figures out what’s what. Sigh, if only life were that easy. And interesting.
Black Mirror Season 1 and 2 – Wicked wicked things abound in this Twilight Zoneish sci-fi-like series. I’ve only seen the first couple of episodes so far but they were quite amazing. Especially the first one, which might remind you a bit of a certain British PM who had a penchant for dipping his balls in dead pig’s mouths. I can’t believe I just wrote that.
Cop Car – Kevin Bacon plays a bad cop (no irony there) who’s after some feisty kids who stole his cop car. Very good stuff.
Goodnight Mommy – Excellent creepy German film about a couple of weird twins (enough said) who get all freaked out when their mom returns home with bandages covering her face. Many questions are provoked: What happened to her? Is it even their mum? Is it all a dream? Why are twins in movies inherently creepy? What’s for dinner?
The Wrecking Crew – Great doc about some amazing musicians who formed the back-up bands of many of your favourite musical heroes.
Mad Men: Final Season Part 2 – The last episodes in this amazing series – one of the best ever me thinks – finds Don Draper and the rest of the crew moving around and talking and being awesome. Spoiler alert – I didn’t expect there to be aliens involved. And what was with that Sasquatch? That was weird.
Wayward Pines Season 1 – Cool, locally shot, Twin Peaksish mystery show finds agent Matt Dillon (and occasional Black Dog video customer) investigating the disappearance of two agents in the weird little town of Wayward Pines. Good stuff!
Furious Seven – There will be spoilers – They say that dreams are fleeting. As dreams race through your sleeping brain they can be quite vivid, intense and generally non-sensical. Once you wake they usually
I Zombie Season 1 – Pretty fun, locally shot TV show about a woman who gets turned into a zombie, eats brains and works in a morgue (handy). She also solves crimes. Good cast and some snappy writing helps to elevate the silly premise. Worth getting into your eyes.
Spy – Pretty funny (if not overly-long) comedy that finds CIA analyst Melissa McCarthy going undercover to find Jude Law in Europe. Made me laugh a number of times – some of the best bits being her undercover IDs (10 cats?!). One thing I learned from watching this is that Jason Statham should stick to action films as comedy is not in his blood.
Results – Guy Pearce and Cobie Smulders (love that name!) are personal trainers whose lives are upended (not too sure what that means exactly) when they take on weirdo Kevin Corrigan as a new client.
Spring – Young dude flees the US for some r&r in Italy only to hook up with a woman who might be harbouring some dark primordial secret. Is she an Italian Cthulhu? I guess the moral of this movie (and others such as Hostel) is never leave home. Never.
Roadhouse – Sat down after a busy day at work (not a sentence I write often but thanks weather!) with a couple of beers, the wife and Patrick Swayze. No, I didn’t resurrect his corpse (we did that 2 years go and it was kind of gross), we tucked into the classic Roadhouse.
Interstellar – I finally got a chance to check out Interstellar the other night having missed it in the theatres where it really should have been viewed. I’m sure you know the plot by now…
Iris – Great doc about fashion icon Iris Apfel (no, I never heard of her either but then again, I don’t know much about fashion or it’s icons) from the legendary filmmaker Albert Maysles (Grey Gardens).
The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst – Excellent and chilling doc about reclusive real estate magnet (different than icon) Robert Durst and what role he played in a series of unsolved crimes.
Sennentuntschi: Curse of the Alps – A Swiss horror film (when was the last time those words were put together?) about some lonely shepherds who decide to make a female companion out of straw and cloth to keep them company. Beats sheep, I guess. Of course, she comes to life and fulfills their desires but also, of course, she also exacts her revenge. Looks pretty cool if you ask me. Ask me! Commercial store only.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine Season 2 – Very funny cop show is back to tickle your funny bone and various other parts of your body.
Citizenfour – Excellent doc (won the Oscar) about Edward Snowden and all the blowing of whistles and what not that he did. Go Snowden!
Homeland Season 4 – The gang’s all back to save the world from various terror threats. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Carrie is not the best undercover agent, what with the red clothing in that sea of black. I can see you!
Mad Max: Fury Road – One-armed Charlize Theron is on the run from a tyrannical ruler of the wasteland (played by the bad guy from the first Mad Max). Along for the ride is Max, still mad after all these years, and a bunch of supermodels. Mayhem and great stunts ensue. Being a massive Road Warrior fan (top 3 of all time here), I had high hopes for this but was ultimately a tad disappointed. The lesson here is never have hope. But it is quite original and definitely worth a watch.
Braquo Season 1 – Excellent, tough French police/crime series from France about some tough French cops trying to uncover the reason why a friend, who is also French, committed suicide.
Starry Eyes – Pretty good low budget horror number about the pitfalls and horrors of wanting fame and fortune and what some people would do to attain it. Starts off a little slow, the main character I found a bit grating, but it picks up steam as it rolls along before going completely bonkers for the gruesome finale.
Boychoir (reviewed by one of our fabulous customers) – Boychoir contains some of the greatest music and choir voices ever committed to film. It also contains real gems about music, how boys interact, and teaching generally at a residential school. The film technique is good too, making it more than the equal of films you usually recommend.
The Comeback S1 and 2 – Most amazingly excellent HBO show stars Lisa Kudrow as an ex A-list celebrity attempting a comeback (see title) by going the reality TV route. This show is somewhat of a comeback itself as it aired for one season back in ’05 and then a second season aired last year. Get on this!
Rick and Morty Season 1 – Greatly excellent animated TV show about a brilliant scientist and his dim-bulb grandson. I assume that they many exploits and adventures. All hilarious. All the time.
Schitt’s Creek S1 – After reading the first line in the synopsis “Filthy rich video store magnet, Johnny Rose…” I had to get this. Its either science fiction or absurd comedy as those words don’t really make sense to me. I’ve heard very good things about this Canadian TV show starring Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara that finds said video store baron relocating to the title town to regroup after his vast video store empire crumbles. I need to watch this to get some pointers.
Adventure time Season 5 – My 10 year-old and I love this show so hard! Finn the human and Jake the dog continue their wacky adventures in the land of Ooo. You don’t have to be or have kids to get in on the action.
Clouds of Sils Maria – Very well reviewed flick starring the always lovely Juliette Binoche as a veteran actress who agrees to take part in a play that launched her career 20 years earlier. There she is confronted by a younger version herself played by sparkly vampire lover Kristen Stewart (K-Stew as she’s known amongst the young-ins).
White God – Odd-sounding Hungarian film about a girl who sets out to find her dog that, for some reason, her dad let loose on the streets. Unbeknownst to her, the dog has taken up a leadership role in a large pack of wild dogs. I don’t think that they’re talking dogs though, so hopefully you weren’t expecting that.
Girlhood – Excellent drama about a girl who joins a gang. Is the thug life all it’s cracked up to be or does she become disillusioned and want something better for herself? Watch and find out!
Welcome to Me – Kristin Wiig wins the lottery, goes off her meds and buys a talk show. Much hilarity ensues.
Ex Machina – Rich computer guy makes a female robot. Complications ensue. Excellent, mesmerizing sci-fi. One of the best of the year.
It Follows – My eyes are burning to see this film as I’ve heard it’s, like, the best horror film of the past 100 years (give or take a year). 19 year-old Jay gets it on with some dude but is then plagued by the sense that someone, or something is following her. Don’t know much more than that and I don’t want to as it is at the very top of my list of films to see! RJ says it’s one of the best, most original horror flicks in ages.
The Story of Film – Huge 15-part documentary (it’s even called “An Othat tells you everything you’ve everything you needed or wanted or needed to know about film from 1895 to 2000! Top Notch stuff!
Decline of Western Civilization 1 – 3 – Just arrived at Commercial, already at Cambie, this amazing series of documentaries, that nobody thought would ever see the light of DVD, features amazing footage and interviews from various Punk Icons, Metal Glam Dudes and what is described as the gutter punk lifestyles of some homeless kids. Well worth your time!
House of Cards Season 3 – Silver-tongue Kevin Spacey is back as the wonderfully evil and slick Frank Underwood as he ascends to the highest power in the land. Who’s he going to murder this season? Good stuff (even if it is from Netflix).
Slow West – Excellent western that finds a young Scottish lad traveling across America in pursuit of the woman he loves. Stars the always great Michael Fassbender.
While We’re Young – Noah Baumbach teams up with Ben Stiller again for this comedy about a middle-aged couple who desperately try to cling to youth by befriending a young couple in their 20′s. Sounds simultaneously hilarious and depressing – just like all Noah Baumbach movies!
A French mini-series about an existential murder mystery set in a small town. Oh France you’re so weird. Word has it that it’s quite excellent!
The Bridge – Season 2
Everyone’s favourite Scandinavian mysterious crime thriller series about crimes that take place on the bridge between Denmark and Sweden is back! Rent it while you can because it is POPULAR! People love bleak Scandinavian TV shows a lot.
Wild Tales – Spanish movie nominated for best foreign picture at the most recent Academy Awards. Six stories about people crossing in to madness. Sounds like a movie about the employees at Black Dog Video.
Kingsman: The Secret Service – Pretty fun and weirdly violent flick about a spy organization recruits an unrefined, but promising street kid into the agency’s ultra-competitive training program, just as a global threat emerges from a twisted tech genius. That’s the worst type of twisted genius.
Red Army – Sports documentary about the Soviet Union and their hockey team. I have a sneaking suspicion this is also about history and politics.
What We Do In the Shadows – An excellent comedy from New Zeland, starring and directed by Jemaine Clement of Flight of the Conchords and Gentlemen Broncos. The movie is a mockmentary that follows a group of roommates who happen to be vampires as they navigate through the modern world. This is the best comedy to come in to the store in a long time. Don’t miss it!
Leviathan – Excellent Russian film (Oscar nominated) about a family in a small coastal town plagued by a corrupt mayor.
Broadchurch – Season 2 – Your favourite British detectives are back on the case in a small coastal town. Don’t you just love small coastal towns?
Mr. Turner – Most excellent film from the very excellent Mike Leigh stars the always excellent Timothy Spall as famed painter J.M.W. Turner in this bio-pic. Expect some great acting, a little painting and some fine top hats.
Selma – Excellent drama about Martin Luther King’s campaign for equality and the march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965. I’d like to say that race relations have come a long way in the USA but that really isn’t true, is it?
Inherent Vice – PTA (Paul Thomas Anderson for those of you…) brings Thomas Pynchon’s novel to life in this fantastic (to some, boring to others) comedy/drama-modern-noir-gumshoe-thriller that finds drug-fueled Joaquin Phoenix on the case of a missing girlfriend. I so wanted to see this on the big screen, but alas…
Day of the Beast – Awesome, crazy fun flick from Alex de la Iglecia (Last Circus) about a priest and a heavy-metal fan teaming up to stop the anti-Christ possibly being born on Christmas day. Huge hit way back at Cinemuerte. Remember those fun times?
Two Days, One Night – The excellent Dardenne brothers (The Son) team up with the excellent Marion Cotillard to make this excellent little drama about a woman who learns that her workmates have opted for a nice fat pay bonus in exchange for her dismissal. Jerks.
Girl Walks Home Alone at Night – How cool is this?! A film from Iran! Not just a film from Iran but a freaking vampire film from Iran!! Can’t wait to check this out.
The Babadook – Much ballyhooed horror number (William Friedkin calls it the scariest film he’s ever seen! That’s a bold statement coming from the guy who made THE scariest film ever – The Exorcist). It follows the tale of a troubled boy and his mom who are haunted by a dark spectre from a mysterious book that shows up at their house one day. You’ll be walking around for weeks croaking “Ba-ba-dook” I guarantee it! Just ask my family.Highly recommended.
Looking Season 1 – Excellent HBO series about a bunch of gay guys living in San Fransisco. San Franscisky? Did you drive or did you flew?
Stray Dogs – Tough film about an alcoholic guy and his two kids trying to survive in Taipei. From the director of Goodbye, Dragon Inn and The Hole.
R100 – Crazy Japanese film about an ordinary guy who joins a club. One that is not very ordinary. They seem to specialize in guerilla acts of degradation. Lots of kicking, whipping, slapping, sloshing, spitting and grenades. Let the fun begin!
Mommy – Another fine film from Xavier Dolan (like really, can this guy do no wrong?!) about a woman trying to deal with her violent son. A fresh neighbor steps in to give her a hand.
Inside Amy Schumer – Very funny lady and her very funny TV show.
Killers – Balls out crazy violent flick about a psychopathic Japanese executive who gets involved with an equally disturbed journalist. You had me at psychopathic Japanese executive.
Silicon Vally – Excellent HBO comedy show about techies in Silicon Valley. For those of you who like comedy and computers.
Boardwalk Empire Season 5 – Nucky wraps up his life of crime along with all of the other great characters on this fine shoe.
Veep Season 3 – The laughs just keep on coming. Such a good show and Elaine is so damned good in this.
Listen Up Philip – Well received comedy/drama finds Black Dog favourite, Jason Schwartzman, as an anxious writer who befriends his literary hero. He then goes off to a cabin to hang out. The great Jonathan Pryce and excellent Elizabeth Moss are along for the ride as well.
Wild – The guy who directed Dallas Buyers Club and C.R.A.Z.Y. makes Reese Witherspoon walk 1,100 miles all by herself. Life lessons, I presume, abound. Heard fine things about this fine film.
Predestination – Cool sci-fi number starring Ethan Hawke and Sarah Snook (love that name) about a time travelling agent who is trying to track down the one criminal who has always eluded him. Nice mind-bender. I love having my mind bent.
Wolf Cop – Now here’s a film I can sink my teeth into! Get it?! An alcoholic cop finds that he’s been turned into a wolf-man (or werewolf if you please) for some reason. So, with the aid of his partner, he sets out to find out what’s going on! And it’s Canadian!
The Homesman – Odd western starring Tommy Lee Jones (also directing) finds him and his big head along with Hilary Swank transporting 3 crazy women across the plains. It’s not as fun as it sounds. Pretty solid effort despite a jarring, and not-altogether convincing, plot turn about 2/3rd the way through.
Whiplash – Intense teen loner jazz drummer, who looks a bit like a talking potato, falls under the tutelage of borderline psycho jazz instructor. Much drumming, yelling, jazz and intensity ensue. Very much recommended.
Michael Keaton plays an aging ex-superhero actor which is probably not a stretch for the former Mr. Batman. Best Picture and Director Oscar winner!
A dark comedy about a seemingly perfect Swedish family that gets stranded on a mountainside by an avalanche on a skiing trip.
The Tale of Princess Kaguya
Another gem from Studio Ghibli which seems to be sort of a Japanese take on the fairytale Thumbelina. A tiny girl is found in a bamboo stalk and then grows up to be a princess.
Excellent documentary from the director of Hoop Dreams about the life and work of Pulitzer Prize winning film critic and recently deceased man Roger Ebert.
Game of Thrones – Season 4
The most popular fantasy series is back for a fourth season! Who will die? Who will live? Who will fall in love with their own sibling?! All of these questions will be answered!
Jake Gyllenhaal plays a man who muscles his way in to the dark underbelly of crime scene journalism in L.A. The profession begins to take its toll on him and he becomes slightly unhinged and the line between crime observer and participant becomes blurred. One of the years most bestest films.
A docu-drama about broken, desperate men who chase their dreams and run from their demons in the North Dakota oil fields and a local pastor who risks everything to help them. Fun!
Dear White People
A social satire that follows the stories of four black students at an Ivy League college where controversy breaks out over a popular but offensive black-face party thrown by white students. Yikes. With tongue planted firmly in cheek, the film explores racial identity in acutely-not-post-racial America while weaving a universal story of forging one’s unique path in the world.
An HBO miniseries that takes a look at a seemingly placid New England town that is actually wrought with illicit affairs, crime and tragedy, all told through the lens of Olive (Frances McDormand), whose wicked wit and harsh demeanor mask a warm but troubled heart and staunch moral center. The story spans 25 years and focuses on Olive’s relationships with her husband, Henry (Richard Jenkins), the good-hearted and kindly town pharmacist. Also Bill Murray is in it!
Behold Keanu Reeves at his greasiest as an ex-hit-man who comes out of retirement to seek vengeance. Far out man. Also, it’s the best action flick of 2014, 2015, 2013 and probably 2016.
Los Angeles Plays Itself
A documentary about the gazillions of times L.A. has been used and depicted in movies. This is originally from 2003 but was notoriously hard to get a hold of and it has finally been re-released. Yay!
A horror film that centres around a young woman hoping to make it in Hollywood. She is cast in an unusual production and soon begins to uncover some dark secrets about living the glamorous life.
Fargo – Season 1
The beloved Coen brothers’ movie from 1996 is now a TV show packed with great actors (like Mr. Bob Odenkirk, Billy Ray Thorton and Bilbo Baggins!) and shot in beautiful snowy Calgary, Alberta. Expect lots of dorky accents and brutal murders. This show is so damn good! It’s way better than it should have been. Dare I say that it’s my favourite shoe I’ve seen in years? A bold statement that is.
The Drop – An excellent gritty crime thriller staring Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace and James Gandolfini in one of his last roles. Some men get in trouble with some gangster men, and resort to becoming gangsters themselves. I guess gangsters are like werewolves in that way – if you entangle yourself with one you will become one yourself by the next full moon.
The Boxtrolls – An animated movie about an orphan named Eggs who is raised by garbage-collecting trolls. Lots of celebrity voices in this one such as Ben Kingsley, Tracy Morgan, Jarred Harris and Nick Frost. Guaranteed whimsicality.
Ben Affleck is great (don’t think I’ve ever written that sentence before) in this fine David Fincher flick. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that its my third favourite Fincher film after Zodiac and Seven! The fresh new Batman stars as a guy who’s wife disappears. What happened to her? Was she murdered? Was she abducted by a Sasquatch? Watch and find out!
Love Is Strange
Alfred Molina and John Lithgow play a dapper married couple who are forced through unfortunate financial circumstances to be temporarily separated.
The Two Faces of January
Viggo Mortensen and Kirsten Dunst play a con man and wife who enlist the help of a tour guide to help them flee Athens on the double once a private investigator turns up dead. Looks like a mystery with lots of layers of white linen pants and sunglasses and fedoras. Not a bad way to spend 2 hours on your couch
Boyhood – Folks are calling this the best film of the year. So you know that you have to watch it. Shot over 12 years it follows a family with a boy in it who grows up. Kind of like Harry Potter but without all the wizardry.
Los Angles Plays Itself – Excellent doc about how LA has been portrayed in films. Fascinating and wonderful stuff.
Arrested Development Season 4 – It’s about friggin time this thing was released for all of us folk to enjoy. I hear that it’s great – maybe not as great as the first 3 seasons but you’ll want to see it none-the-less. Trust me.
The Trip to Italy – Steve and Rob eat and talk their way through the gorgeous countryside of Italy. If you like The Trip, you’ll enjoy this one, because well, Italy!
The Immigrant – Solid cast (Jeremy Renner, Marion Cotillard, Joaquin Phoenix) star in this heavy drama about a recently arrived immigrant (probably the same immigrant in the title) to NY in 1921 who’s forced into a life of prostitution. Sounds like some great Christmas fun!
Guardians of the Galaxy – It’s kinda like The Avengers but, in my opinions, better than The Avengers. Space Avengers! It’s clever, fun, well paced and features, not only a talking tree, but a talking raccoon! With a big gun! Something for everyone. I couldn’t tell you the plot, something about some scary guys who want to blow up the universe and it’s up to a merry band of pranksters to stop them, or something like that. Who cares? Available on DVD, Blu Ray and eye-exploding 3-D Blu Ray.
Calvary – From the director of the excellent The Guard comes this tough, funny and gripping tale of a priest (the always amazing Brendan Gleeson) who’s marked for death by one of his parishioners. Drama and other emotions, I presume ensue.
Frank – Original and weird and amazing (from what I’ve heard) tale that finds a guy joining a rock band led by Michael Fassbender who wears a giant paper-mache head. Kinda looks a bit like that thing from the Jack-in-the-Box ads. Check this one out!
20,000 Days on Earth – Sort of documentary finds Nick Cave marking his 20,000th day on earth. I’ve heard nothing but great things about this and being a big Nick Cave fan, it’s at the top of my list to watch.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Sadly this installment of the franchise does not star James Franco, as it is set decades after the last film. The hyper-intelligent apes are now at war with humans after civilization has been devastated due to a pandemic. Sounds like a real feel-good movie.
Broad City – Season 1
Wowza! This show is so great. I accidentally stayed up until 4 AM watching every single episode in one sitting. The show centres around two twenty-somethings in New York who don’t have much ambition. Reminiscent of the show Girls but less annoying and much funnier, or like Flight of the Conchords but with ladies and no singing. Also features comedians like Amy Pohler, Amy Sedaris, Rachel Dratch, and Fred Armisen in hilarious and memorable cameos. This will not disappoint.
“A father driven into desire, a son coveting that of his father’s, and the sorrowful maternity that hovers them into tragedy.” Whatever that means! Korean film by the director of Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring. Seems like there could be some incest in here. Oh dear.
A romantic comedy staring Harry Potter from the director of Fubar. What is going on? So this is a romantic comedy where the two protagonists are not in a romantic relationship with each other. I WONDER WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?! (In the States this movie had to change it’s name because one can’t imply a swear word in the title of a film. How lame is that?)
Drunk History – Seasons 1 & Season 2
Originally a web series, this hilarious show features very drunk narrators re-telling historical events which are then re-enacted by famous actors and comedians who lip synch to the drunken ramblings of the narrators. Definitely worth watching.
Housebound – This great little horror / comedy from New Zealand is about a woman who is put under house arrest and stuck at home with her family in their possibly haunted house. I wonder what a ghost from New Zealand sounds like.
How to Train Your Dragon 2 – Sequel to the popular animated kids film in which many famous actors voice characters who still need to learn how to train their dragons. I’ve never seen it but it seems like a more family-friendly version of Game of Thrones.
A Most Wanted Man
From director Anton Corbijn comes this thriller based on a John le Carré novel which also happens to be Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s last film. RIP. The story revolves around a Chechen Muslim who illegally immigrates to Hamburg, where he gets caught in the international war on terror. Ooh international political intrigue! Also stars Willem Dafoe, Robin Wright, Rachel McAdams and Daniel Brühl.
A fantastic looking documentary about the real life would-be bank robber depicted in Dog Day Afternoon. I have been waiting for years for this movie to come out and am so excited to watch it. If you haven’t seen Dog Day Afternoon in a while it would make a great double bill with this movie!
A political documentary about the rise of the Tea Party movement and how big money buys votes. These brothers are particularly evil. Oh boy this sounds like it could be either really frustrating or hilarious or both.
Banshee – Season 1
An ex-con and master thief assumes the identity of a murdered sheriff and continues his criminal activities. Violence erupts at every turn in the not so quiet Amish town of Banshee, Pennsylvania. I feel bad for all these small towns. Always being plagued by something sinister.
An interesting little indie sci-fi about the possibility of all the infinite alternate dimensions somehow crossing paths with one another when a comet passes close by the Earth one evening while a bunch of friends happen to be having a dinner party. This movie is entertaining and along the lines of films like Primer, yet is way less dense. If you think about the science in this movie too hard though it sort of falls apart though, so maybe don’t watch it with your theoretical physicist friends. Bonus for nerds: this film features Nicholas Brendon, who played Xander on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Louie – Season 3
The lovely Louie C.K. is back for another season of his excellent semi-autobiographical series in which he plays himself: an overweight, middle-aged, self-hating single father. Will Louie finally find love or at least go on a date that doesn’t end in disaster? Watch and find out!
To Be Takei
Documentary about everyone’s favourite septuagenarian celebrity, George Takai. This movie covers his career, cult icon status and political activism for marriage equality, and includes interviews with his former Star Trek cast mates. Sounds great!
The Last Sentence
The biography of a Swedish journalist who stood up against Hitler and the Nazi party in the 30′s and helped to alert the Swedish public of the threat of fascism. Sounds like a cool guy.
Here’s a movie about a couple of songwriters whose young love turns sour when the male lands a huge record deal. The female is dejected until a quirky record executive happens upon her performing and the two decide to team up to make SWEET SWEET MUSIC. The back of the DVD box says “a blend of romance, music and dreams” – It must be a dream because there’s no such thing anymore as the recording industry the way it’s portrayed in this film at least! From the dude who made Once.
Korean director Bong Joon Ho’s first English-language film has been much talked about. And for good reason, its most excellent. The film is set in a post apocalyptic world where the earth has been ravaged by global warming (and freezing). The few human survivors left all live on a train that circles the planet which has developed its own class system. Things go awry when the lower-class passengers start to revolt against the higher class train cars. It stars Chris Evans, John Hurt, Ed Harris and the fabulous Tilda Swinton.
Adventure Time – Season 2, 3, and 4
This is one of the best shows on TV. For years I thought this was just another animated show for kids until I finally started watching it and then I couldn’t stop! The celebrity voices on this show are amazing and hilarious and the art is beautiful and will make you want to live in the magical world of Ooo. The show is about Fin, the last human alive after a nuclear holocaust and his best friend, a talking dog Jake who has magical powers to stretch in to any size or shape. They hang out in the candy kingdom and sometimes get thrown in to other dimensions and get up to crazy adventures with Princess Bubblegum who is the smartest most powerful female character I’ve ever seen in an animated show. The positive messages in the show, beautiful psychedelic colours, and catchy cute music are so lovely that this show will brighten your day.
Mad Men – Season 7 Part 1
Don Draper and his ragtag gang of alcoholics are back for the first part of the last season of everyone’s favourite retro soap opera! This show is worth watching just for the amazing clothes and furniture; also, something really shocking will occasionally happen, like someone losing a toe, or an eye, or a nipple. Seriously. There are so many flesh wounds in this show!
X-Men: Days of Future Past
I’m not big on super hero movies, but I love all of the X-Men movies. They’re great and you know what else is great? Time travel. This movie has both the X-Men and time travel in it! Bryan Singer (the director of the first 2 X-Men movies) is back to direct this one, which combines the casts of the original trilogy and the new series reboot. Rent this and enjoy not only Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan but also Michael Fassbender AND Peter Dinklage and a gazillion other great actors mostly in goofy outfits and blue makeup.
Tom at the Farm
Xavier Dolan is perhaps today’s best and brightest Canadian filmmaker. He’s back with another excellent movie which he stars in (and also wrote and directed). This thriller centres around a man who upon attending his boyfriend’s funeral discovers that nobody there has ever heard of him. He quickly finds himself part of a twisted game in a strange household with a dark past. If you haven’t seen any of Dolan’s films before we have them all! Highly recommended!
Whitey: United States of America Vs. James J. Bulger
Another excellent true crime documentary from directer Joe Berlinger (director of the Paradise Lostdocumentary trilogy) about one real big bad guy. Number 2 on America’s Most Wanted list after Osama Big Laden, James “Whitey” Bulger terrorized the city of Boston for years without ever being charged with so much as a misdemeanor. He was a monster, murdering over a dozen known victims, but did the the FBI and local law enforcement give his reign of terror over South Boston a free pass? Fascinating, scary stuff!
Fargo – Season 1
The beloved Coen brothers’ movie from 1996 is now a TV show packed with great actors (like Mr. Bob Odenkirk) and shot in beautiful snowy Calgary, Alberta. Expect lots of dorky accents and brutal murders.
Edge of Tomorrow
AKA Live Die Repeat AKA Tom Cruise’s Groundhog Day. This movie is actually pretty great despite the fact it’s an unholy union of Starship Troopers and Groundhog Day. Even if you don’t like Tom Cruise I would recommend this film because you get to see him die dozens of times! Director Doug Liman and star Tom Cruise have managed to make a pretty solid sci-fi that L. Ron Hubbard and even Lord Xenu himself would be proud of.
What happens when you accidentally get pregnant on a first date? For some reason Hollywood comedies of recent years would have you believe that a lady in such a predicament would just surrender to becoming a mother. Well not in this movie! It’s been called the “most winning abortion-themed rom-com ever made”. Wowza! A must see!
Mia Wasikowska plays a lady who decides to walk across Australia with 4 camels and a dog. I can understand the occasional need to go on a walk by yourself to clear your head but this seems excessive.
Jon Favreau writes, directs, stars and eats in this comedy about a chef who quits his job at a restaurant to start up a food truck business. The cast boasts Dustin Hoffman, Robert Downey Jr., Amy Sedaris, Scarlett Johansson and many more. And lots of food for your eyes to feast on.
Space Station 76
Remember how everyone thought we’d be driving flying cars and living on the moon with exotic pets from other galaxies by now? How silly of us. This si-fi comedy goes back to the good old days of how we thought the future would be in 1976. Stars Liv Tyler and Patrick Wilson.
Neighbors – A pretty hilarious comedy about a frat house that moves in next door to a couple (Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne) who has just had the most adorable baby you can imagine. Lots of crazy shenanigans ensue as the parents and frat boys alternate being buds and enemies. If you’re a fan of Seth Rogen’s oeuvre this does not disappoint!
The Rover – From the director of the 2010 film Animal Kingdom comes this exciting new crime drama. In a post economic meltdown wasteland Guy Pearce has captured Mr. Sparkly Vampire himself, Robert Pattinson. Will the two eventually become friends as they trek across the scorched Australian outback to retrieve something special? You’ll have to watch it to find out!
Night Moves – Kelly Reichardt’s newest film borrows the title but not the story from the great 1975 Gene Hackman film. This story instead focus on some radical environmentalists played by Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning and Peter Sarsgaard. These angry tree huggers have decided to blow up a hydroelectric dam. Oh geez. Great idea guys.
We Are the Best – Finally a new movie from excellent Swedish director Lukas Moodysson! This one focuses on three young girls who decide to start a punk band in 1980. If you haven’t checked out Moodysson’s other movies they are all highly recommended.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine – Season 1 – Andy Samberg stars alongside a handful of other goofy guys & gals in this police procedural comedy. I caught a couple episodes of this on a plane and it was actually pretty funny considering it’s on network TV.
Comedy Bang! Bang! – Season 1 – If you like your comedies a bit weirder, then this is the show for you! The hilarious and talented Scott Aukerman and Reggie Watts adapted their podcast in to a “live” talk show. The first season features guests such as Jon Hamm, Amy Poehler, Zach Galifianakis, Michael Cera, Paul Rudd, Seth Rogen, and Weird Al Yankovic! Also lots of strange musical interludes from Reggie Watts, sketches and improvised bits with some very funny comedians.
Night Warning – Amazing film from the 80′s about an orphaned kid who’s taken in by his crazy aunt. Weirdness ensues…
Godzilla – Everyone’s favourite grumpy dinosaur is awakened from hibernation to wreak havoc on San Francisco – unless Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston and Juliette Binoche can stop him. We even have it on 3D Blu Ray if you’re in to that kind of thing.
Hannibal Season 2 – Your favourite cannibal is back in this great origin story series. This show is packed full of great actors such as Mads Mikkelsen, Gillian Anderson and Scott Thompson. Plus it will make you want to sleep with the light on.
Sleepy Hollow Season 1 – If Hannibal isn’t enough scary TV for you we’ve also got this! Ichabod Crane is resurrected and pulled two and a half centuries through time to unravel a mystery that dates all the way back to the founding fathers. Well! Sounds interesting.
Captain America: Winter Soldier – Funny, this super-hero would seem to be the lamest of all what with his fancy shield and fancy pants and all, but these films are the best of all of them Marvel Avengers guys flicks. Don’t know what this one is about – I guess he fights a winter soldier! DVD, Blu Ray and 3-D Blu Ray.
The Double – Now it’s a movie with two Jesse Eisenbergs in it! Wow. First a films with 2 Jake Jellyhauls (Enemy – superb!), now this! Oh happy days. Dude has a guy show up at work who looks just like him, but more confident and fun! Crazy shit ensues.
Fed Up – Doc about how sugar is making everyone fat and killing us off one slurpy at a time.
Palo Alto – Pretty good flick about a bunch of slacker kids hang out and smoke weed and get into trouble and stuff like that. Today’s youth, with all of their jingy-jangly music and weird clothes! Shakes fist at clouds.
Willow Creek – Bobcat Goldthwait makes a film about Bigfoot.
Borgen Season 2 and 3 – The continuing Danish political thriller-drama from Denmark. Excellent stuff. Season 2 and 3 are at Cambie, Season 2 at Commercial. Season 3 coming soon!
For No Good Reason – Cool looking doc about Ralph Steadman, that dude who did all the neat art for Fear and Loathing and other Hunter S. Thompson works.
They Came Together – Hilarious comedy starring Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler and Bill Hader about love/hate at first sight, candy and other stuff guaranteed to make you laugh. (Guarantee void in the greater Vancouver area).
Only Lovers Left Alive – Jim Jaramuch + Tilda Swinton + Tom Hiddleson + Sad Vampires = Hot times and one of the year’s best flicks. A couple of depressed vampires hang out in Detroit, play guitar, and pontificate over the lives they’ve lead. Enter a young feisty vampire to spice things up!
The Sacrament – From the director of the fine horror films House of the Devil and The Innkeeperscomes this sweet looking horror number about a Jim Jones-type cult. Heard quite good things about this one. It’s on my list! My extremely long list! I’m always amazed how folks get suckered into these nasty cult things.
Boardwalk Empire Season 4 – One of the best casts on one of the better TV shows around. And a great opening theme song as well. Love me some Nucky.
Locke – Guy drives around in his car and it’s intense, man! Like really, crazy intense! Oh, and he talks on his phone while driving! Intense, man!
The League Season 1 – Excellent TV comedy about a bunch of knuckleheads who are into fantasy football. I’m told you need not worry if you don’t know anything about fantasy football (as I do – I assume it’s half-naked ladies riding unicorns that breath fire fighting each other) to enjoy this program. Are you game (get it)?
Midsomer Murders #24 – Being the first time we brought in a Midsomer Murder collection, we thought we’d start with number 24. You don’t have to have watched the previous 23 installments to know what’s going on. People love this!
Borgen Season 1 – Outstanding Danish political TV series that follows the rise of a Prime Minister and all the shit that she has to deal with. Heard nothing but great things about this! Season 2 and 3 are on the way!
Oculus – This one is a cool looking horror number about a haunted mirror. Scary mirrors!
Finding Vivian Maier – Amazing doc about a mysterious nanny and secret street photographer who took over 100,000 photos of lief on the streets but they remained unseen during her lifetime. I imagine that they’ll discover all the incredible things that I have done after I’m dead.
Stranger by the Lake – Very well received intense gay erotic thriller finds a dude cruising the beaches for company but he falls in with the wrong crowd. There may even be some murder afoot. Think Rear Window getting it on with Cruising and producing this sexy French baby. As one fella said, “Puts the cock back in Hitchcock”.
Under the Skin – Scarlett Johansson is some sort of soul sucking succubus from another planet who goes around seducing men to find out what makes them tick. Then she feasts on their souls. Or something like that. I could think of worse ways to go. Heard that this is quite an amazing, unsettling flick.
Omar – Heavy-duty drama about a Palestinian freedom fighter that has to work as an informant after being tricked by a sneaky Israeli guy. Heard nothing but great things about this – Oscar nominated and everything! And topical!
Blue Ruin – Expect to see this tale of revenge and family with plenty of twists and turns show up on many a best of the year list. Everyone I know who’s seen it, says it’s great. Get your eyes on it!
Nymphomaniac Parts 1 and 2 – Oh Lars von Trier, you naughty Dane, you. Weirdly fascinating, at times hilarious and disturbing and even sex. We are along for the ride as Lars takes us on an epic erotic journey from Milan to Minsk…wait no that’s not it…Charlotte Gainsberg tells her story of being an insatiable nymphomaniac to a more-than-eager to listen Stellan Skarsgård. Along the way we meet a number of characters played by the likes of Stacy Martin, Uma Thurman, Jaime Bell, Shia Labeouf (shudder), Willam Dafoe and plenty of others. Most definitely worth a watch (if only once) as it can be unpleasant, sometime gruelling viewing. No-one makes films quite like Von Trier.
The Raid 2 – Not just one of the best action films of the year, one of the best action films. Period. If you’ve seen part one, you’re gonna eat up Part 2. And it tastes great! It’s a little long (2 1/2 hours!) and somewhat convoluted (“who’s that guys again? I thought he was dead already”) but it’s worth the ride for sure. Love me some Hammer Girl.
Jodorowsky’s Dune – Imagine what Dune would have been like if it was Alejandro Jodorowsky behind the camera instead of David Lynch (he should have made a better, weirder film)? If you haven’t seen any of Jodorowsky’s films, they are a trip. I love Holy Mountain, El Topo and Sante Sangre. Mind benders. Add in HR Giger, Salvador Dali, Mick Jagger, David Carradine, Orson Welles and Pink Floyd and one can only imagine what lunacy would have been unleashed. Can’t wait to see this doc! DVD and Blu Ray.
Afflicted – Great little locally made horror/thriller about a couple of dudes who go on vacation. But wait, there’s more! One of the dudes becomes afflicted (hence the title) with a strange disease that either turns him into a vampire, a super-strong insect-like guy or someone horrified at Vancouver housing prices. DVD
Enemy – A couple of Jake Gyllenhaals (what’s better than Jake Gyllenhaal? Two Jake Gyllenhaals!) creep around in this mind-melting noirish thriller that finds one of the Jake Gyllenhaals spotting another Jake Gyllenhaal in a movie so he sets out to find out what the poop is. Heard very good things about this messed up, tricked-out number. DVD and Blu Ray.
Masters of Sex Season 1 – Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan play Masters and Johnson who changed the way folks thought and knew and got down with sex way back in the day. Excellent, juicy morsels for your brains. All of your brains if ya know what I mean. DVD.
The Bridge Season 1 – Very good (from what I hears) TV detective show set on the Mexican/American border that finds cops from both countries working together to bring down a serial killer. Think The Killing but with less rain and more moustaches and accents. DVD
The Grand Budapest Hotel – Might be my favourite Wes Anderson film since Royal Tenenbaums. This one has everything: excellent ensemble cast, quirky characters, impeccable framing, killer soundtrack, Willem Dafoe, title cards, fake snow, just the right amount of whimsy, love, tragedy and a fine lobby boy. Do yourself a favour and get this into your eyes ASAP. One of my favourite films so far this year! DVD and Blu Ray.
The Lego Movie – I’ve only, ahem, seen this 3 times so far. Maybe I should watch it with my kid? This movie has no business (no Lord Business!) being this good. Much fun for anyone who’s ever played with Lego, heard about Lego, or has eyes in the front of their head. DVD and Blu Ray and 3-D Blu Ray (3-D only at Cambie). *Warning* You or your child will be singing “Everything is Awesome” for weeks to come.
Joe – David Gordon Green (All the Real Girls) goes home again after some Hollywood bombs (I’m looking at you The Sitter!) and takes Nic Cage with him (I’m looking at everything you’ve done in the past 10 years!) for this quiet character study about an ex-con who takes a troubled boy under his wing. What’s under his wing? Wing sauce? Ewww! DVD and Blu Ray.
House of Cards Season 2 – Love this show. Nasty Kevin Spacey, he is. Cold and calculating Robin Wright, she is. A couple of WTF moments that will make you look at whoever you are watching this with (yes, your cat counts) and go “Whoa!” Despite the fact it’s from Netflix, it is a fun, excellent show. DVD.
Alan Partridge – Funny-man Steve Coogan brings the funny, man, in Alan Partridge! He’s a famous DJ whose radio station gets taken over by an evil (of course it’s evil) media conglomerate. Hijinks, I presume, ensue. DVD and Blu ray.
Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey – Science cool-guy, rock star, man-God Neil deGrasse Tyson brings us an amazing series based on the great work of Carl Sagan. Want to know everything there is to know about everything? This is your chance. DVD and Blu Ray.
True Detective Season 1 – One of TVs best shows in recent memory finds a most excellent Matthew McConaughey and fabulous Woody Harrelson as detectives trying to solve a bunch of murders in the hot southern state of Louisiana. You can almost feel the humidity when you watch this. Or maybe it was just my dank house. Excellent from start to finish. DVD and Blu Ray.
Lone Survivor – I was surprised how much I enjoyed this tale of Marky-Mark and a few other hunky army types who have to fight their way out of a botched mission in Afghanistan. My only complaint is the title. Hello, spoiler alert! That and the jingoistic, macho horse-shit you have to get through at the beginning before the good intense stuff kicks in. DVD and Blu Ray.
The Returned – Nice-looking (and acclaimed!) French TV series about some folks in a small town returning from the dead to resume their regular lives. As one might presume, things don’t go all that smoothly. Throw in a serial killer on the loose and let the weird, hopefully, creepy hijinks ensue! DVD. At Commercial, soon to Cambie.
Cheap Thrills – Pretty fun descent into depravity finds a couple of down-and-out former buddies being the subject of torment by a creepy couple who offer them money in exchange for dares. Of course as the amount of dough increases, so do the nastiness of the things they are asked to do. How far would you go, how much would you eat, chop, inject, bludgeon, lick or strangle? I quite liked it but I wanted it to be more vicious and gross. And it was pretty out there. I should seek help.
Rhymes for Young Ghouls – Excellent First Nations-Canadian effort finds an Aboriginal teenager, guided by the spirits of her departed mother and brother, plotting revenge against a sadistic Indian Agent. Heard great things about this flick.
Wicker Man – Who knew that the Wicker Man was a musical? So much singing and dancing and sexy pagan worship! Was nice to re-visit this cult classic. So good! 7.5/10
Her – My pick for best film of the year so far (haven’t seen Godzilla yet). Spike Jones’ tale of romance and relationships in the near-future finds Joaquin Phoenix falling in love with his new fancy, sexy computer (voiced by fancy, sexy Scarlett Johansson). THIS IS YOUR FUTURE, PEOPLE! It’s funny, it’s sad, it’s really smart.You must watch this. Because I say so. Also on the Blu Ray
Orange is the New Black Season 1 – Pretty good show from, shudder, Netflix about a woman doing some time for some crime. There she meets all kinds of zany characters. From the creator of Weeds. About the only thing that Netflix does right is their original programming. Other than that, it’s an ugly barren wasteland of nonsense, poor quality and broken dreams.
Nurse 3-D – Very disappointing. I was hoping for some good b-grade trash, and while there is a few moments of inspired mayhem – the killing rampage in the hospital at the end is pretty fun – it’s pretty tedious and the main actress is so bad. Give this one a pass unless you’re really bored. We need a really good killer nurse exploitation film! 4/10
West of Memphis – Amazing, absorbing doc that follows the famous West Memphis Three case from beginning to end. Some gruesome images and details are a bit hard to stomach but this is a great doc about this travesty of justice. Interesting to see it after watching the three Paradise Lost docs on the same subject. This one makes a pretty strong case for who actually killed those three poor boys. Highly recommended. 8.5/10
The Armstrong Lie – Great little doc that started out as a sort-of puff piece on Lance Armstrong and his comeback Tour-de-France attempt in 2009. Of course things changed as he admitted to doping and all that shit. Director Alex Gibney turns in another stellar doc. 8/10
The Selfish Giant – Tough little British film about a couple of 13-year-old best friends from a rough neighbourhood who take up with a shady scrap dealer named Kitten. Things don’t go too well for our little heroes. Heard great things about this one. Think Ken Loach working class stuff and you’ll be in the right neighbourhood, whether you want to or not.
Big Bad Wolves – Pretty cool, intense, grim drama/horror number from Israel that finds a disgraced cop and the father of a murdered girl “interrogating” the main suspect. If the films Prisoners andHostel had a some sweaty, grimy, blood-soaked sex that produced baby, not only would that be weird and really gross, but you might end up with something like this flick. Recommended! Tarantino’s favourite film from last year (but he also had Lone Ranger on his list).
Broadchurch Season 1 – Fantastic British TV show (one of Johns favourites!) looks into the lives of folks in a small coastal town in England that are torn apart after the murder of a young boy. Has the fine British actor David Tennant among it’s fine cast. Think a bit of a cross between Twin Peaks and Top of the Lake. Highly recommended.
Date and Switch – Rom-com that finds a couple of high-schoolers (judging by the box art, these “teenagers” look like they are in their early 30′s) looking to lose their virginity before prom. Things take an unexpected turn when one of them reveals that he’s gay. Lame cover (again), hello Drinking Buddies. I’ve been told that it’s much better than it looks.
Scandal Season 1 and 2 – Very much enjoyable TV show that finds Kerry Washington leaving her job as a White House Communications Director to start her own crisis management firm only to discover she hasn’t left the past behind. Much intrigue and, dare I say it, scandal ensues! Season 1 is rented as an old title ($3 a disk for 1 week) and Season 2 as a New Release ($4 a disk for 2 nights). That make sense?
Pervert’s Guide to Ideology – That crazy (crazy in a good, smart, amusing way that is) Slavoj Zizek attempts to uncover the hidden meaning of many Hollywood films by applying psychoanalytic theory to film interpretation. We are responsible for our dreams. This is the ultimate lesson of psychoanalysis – and fiction cinema and so forth. Good times for your head.
Philomena – Dame Judi Dench and funny guy Steve Coogan go on a road trip to Spring Break where they fall into the wrong crowd led by a crazy James Franco who makes Dame Judi Dench “look at his shit” as they go on a coke-fuelled rampage through the party towns of Florida. I think that this is the synopsis. Either that or Coogan plays a reporter who helps Dame Judi Dench track down the child she was forced to give up decades ago by a crew of evil nuns. Lousy nuns.
Touch of Sin – Our newest rookie, RJ, (this was his favourite film of last year) chimes in with this little review/synopsis – Taken from the actual news headlines in China, Jia Zhangke weaves four bloody stories of explosive violence. A Touch of Sin asks how does an ordinary non-violent criminal suddenly become entrenched in violence? Is corruption so rampant that society has lost all humanity, or is there something else going on? Stylish and scathing, Jia Zhangke has taken social critique to a highly entertaining form. Good job, rookie!
The Great Beauty – Stunning Italian flick (and winner of the best foreign film Oscar) finds a playboy, who’s lived a decadent lavish lifestyle for years, turning 65 and reflecting back up his life of debauchery. I’d love to, a) make it to 65, and b) have had a debauched (well more debauched) life to look back upon. We have the Criterion version on the way as well.
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues – I actually quite enjoyed this dumb comedy. If you liked the first one, you’ll enjoy this one as it’s more of the same but with more of the same. I felt that the great supporting cast wasn’t fully utilized to their full potential though. That Paul Rudd guy is quite funny and Steve Carrell is good for a laugh. His and Kirsten Wiig’s scenes together were the best thing about the flick. The Blu Rays offers you 3 different versions – theatrical and unrated on one disk (I watched the theatrical) and a separate disk with, what they refer to as, a Super-Sized Edition that has over 743 more jokes. Or so they say. Torsten claims that this is brilliant and the best thing Farrell has ever done.
Zero Charisma – Interesting little indie drama that centres on an aging nerd (man the nerds are taking over the world. At least for this week) who is, what some call, a Game Master of some sort of fantasy board game thingy. He is a hard to like misfit living with his grandma while trying to have some authority in a world that has made him a middle-aged teenager. When a hipster joins his game, everything falls apart. Damn hipsters, always ruining everything. Heard very good things about this flick.
Archer Season 2 – Man I love me some Archer! Funny stuff. Not for kids. Not really. If you watch this then you’ve seen it. And probably loved it.
Broken Circle Breakdown – Oscar nominated foreign fare (Belgium) finds a couple of lovers and lovers of American Bluegrass music and lovers of tattoos dealing with the illness of their lovely child. Everyone who’s seen it (that I’ve talked to) loves this little gem.
Odd Thomas – Fun little flick (don’t be put off by the fact that it’s directed by the guy who directed The Mummy!) about a mall town short-order cook, who can see dead people because, well he just can. He then meets a mysterious stranger who blows into town with an entourage of soul-sucking beasties bent on raising some hell. It’s up to Odd Thomas, his girlfriend Stormy and Willem Dafoe to stop the onslaught.
Veep Season 2 – Season 2 of this great little show that finds Elaine as Vice Prez of the good ole’ U. S. of A. Funny shit, man.
The Wolf of Wall Street – Leo DiCaprio almost won an Oscar for his fine work in this sex and drug-riddled, debauched Martin Scorsese romp through the disgusting world of high finance and the corruption that it breeds. Bring on the debauch! That’s what I say. I loved this film, probably a little too much. It’s hilarious and exhilarating. It’s up there in the top five of my favourite Scorsese films.
American Hustle – David O. Russell’s fun, funky film tells the tale of a couple of grifters who, for some reason, have to work for the FBI to help bring down some Mafia types and such. Great cast, C-Bale, J-Law, B-Coop and A-Ad all lend to the sexy fun. Good times, if not a bit long.
Inside Llewyn Davis – Latest from the Coen’s finds a struggling folk singer in the early 60′s (loosely based on the life of early 60′s folk singer Dave Van Ronk) as he goes from one disaster to the next. Oscar Isaac is great – he even sings and plays all the tunes – and Justin Timberlake has a great turn as a friend and folk singer – there’s a great scene with those two and that goofy guy from Girls singing some sort of novelty song. But for me, there was too many folk tunes and I realized about half way through the film that I really don’t care for folk music all that much. And Carey Mulligan, who I usually adore, was pretty terrible – all shrill and unpleasant. But the cat is great! (Reports say that the Coen’s had so much trouble with the cats making the movie that they now hate cats) Not one of my favourite Coen Bros. films but even their lesser films are far better than most filmmaker’s best work.
Out of the Furnace – Excellent dramatic type thriller finds Batman (Christian Bale) getting out of prison only to find his younger brother (Ben Affleck’s younger brother) has disappeared after becoming mixed up with a ruthless (they are totally without ruth) drug gang. What’s he to do, try to lead a normal life or find out what happened to his brother and act accordingly? One of those great little films that seemed to fall through the cracks when it hit theatres at the end of last year (2013) but would love to find life on home video. Make it so!
Blue is the Warmest Colour – Cannes Palme d’Or winning sexy relationship drama between two women. Very explicit (don’t watch this with your mom – or do, your call), very French and very good. And it’s three hours long.
Gravity – “Ladies and Gentlemen, we are floating in space”. Do you like your Bullock with a little side of Clooney? I hope you do as they float, jump and bump around outer space going from one disaster to another in this stunning, exciting and intense flick. I don’t know how this will play out on the small home screens (for the love of all that which is good and true in this world, please don’t watch this on your phone!) but in the theatre the images were stunning. And the use of 3-D was amazing as well. So amazing in fact that we’re going to have a 3-D Blu Ray copy for rent! The script is a little thin and I don’t know why they decided to go with the “big stars” (well besides box-office pull) – I think that even if they had a monkey and a box of cereal it still would have been as good – but the end result is that space is bloody terrifying!
Haunter – Pretty good little haunted house story about a ghost of a teenager who reaches out to the living to try to prevent what happened to her from happening again. Its kind of like a ghosty-version of Groundhog Day. Loses a bit of steam at the end but it’s a pretty good ride. From the director of Cube and Splice.
Nebraska – Old coot Bruce Dern travels in black and white across some state (can’t remember which one) to claim, what he thinks, is a big mega-lottery prize. He drags his estranged son along for the ride so he can, I presume, become stranged with him. Pretty good – some good laughs and June Squibb, who plays Dern’s long-suffering wife, is great. Left me a little empty feeling though. Could have been better but worth a look, if not for the stunning cinematography alone. From the director of Sideways, The Descendants and Election.
Computer Chess – From the mumble-core dude that made Funny Ha Ha, comes this tale of a bunch of nerds participating in a tournament for chess computer software developers. Follow all the wacky hijinks as these pimply-faced captains of tomorrow navigate the murky waters of love, laughs and teaching a metal box how to play chess.
Game of Thrones Season 3 – I wish it wouldn’t take so long to get this show out on DVD and Blu Ray. A year in between seasons? Like, come on. They really should put it out as soon as it finishes airing. It seems to me that the brains behind the releasing of this, and other shows, don’t really understand the internet and how it works just yet. Do they think that it’s just a fad? That said, Season 3 is easily the best season. So far. It also happens to be the best of the books (in my opinion). Good stuff.
How I Live Now – Pretty cool drama/thriller finds a youngish girl heading to England for a little vacation with some relatives only to have to fight for survival after WWIII explodes all around her. Stars that Hannah girl form the film Hannah. Directed by the director who directed the Last King of Scotland.
All is Lost – Great, harrowing, intense adventure on the high seas finds a very quiet Robert Redford battling storms, sharks, giant ships, floating containers and an underwater Sasquatch as he tries to navigate his boat somewhere in the middle of a wet nowhere. Amazing acting. Amazing film.
Wadjda – Great little film from Saudi Arabia about a girl who just wants to buy a bike. Not so easy in such an ridiculously oppressive regime where females are forbidden to ride bikes as it might be dangerous to their virtues. Whatever that means. Of note – this is the first feature film shot entirely in Saudi Arabia, it’s also the first one shot by a women. She couldn’t interact with her all-male crew on the streets so she had to direct from the confines of a near-by van. Stupid country.
Dallas Buyers Club – Matthew McConaughey makes a stab at Oscar gold by losing 150 pounds (or something like that) playing a guy who contracts AIDS back in the 80′s. He has to work around the system in order to nab himself and other AIDS patients the medication that they need. Supposed to be quite good. Lots of actors acting and such.
Gaspar Noe (Irreversible) returns to rip off the top of your head, scoop out the gooey innards, toss them on the floor and then stomp on them with muddy steel-toed boots. That’s kind of how my brain felt after watching this crazy exercise in excess and self-indulgence. That’s not to say I didn’t like it. Well maybe like isn’t the right word. Experience. One experiences this film.
Set in crazy Blade Runner like Japan, we follow Oscar as he navigates the neon metropolis selling drugs and hanging out with his dim, often naked, beautiful sister. Everything is experienced through Oscar’s eyes. Everything. Our point of view is from inside his head. We even feel him blink. Very cool. After he is killed (not giving anything away here) we follow his soul or whatever as he floats around the city checking in on his sister and friends. This is Noe’s take on the Tibetan Book of the Dead – you know reincarnation and all that.
When I say self-indulgent I mean it. There is a scene when Oscar smokes some drugs and we experience his hallucinations – for like 6 minutes! And the running time is 2 and 3/4 hours. Hey Gaspar, not everything you shoot needs to be in the film.
That said the amazing camera work (the camera swoops over the city, through walls and down streets) and startling subject matter – lots of explicit sex and weirdness abound – the climax – sorry had to use that word (watch it and you’ll know what I mean) – is mesmerizing and one leaves the theatre rather disorientated but feeling like you’ve just experienced something that you’ve never seen before. Well done, Mr. Noe. Now what do you have next for us?