Guy Ritchie re-ups his signature London underworld action thriller with The Gentlemen a crime puzzle/heist gauntlet on steroids, chock full of co-dependent bromances, an easy to take crowd-pleaser. The usual.
Charlie Hunnam, Hugh Grant, Colin Farrell, Henry Golding and Eddie Marson and alpha dogs, Michelle Dockery (Lady Mary) and American ex-pat drug lord Matthew McConaughey. His massively successful marijuana grow operation’s renowned throughout the land, but no one can find it, and lots of criminal types are trying in order to buy or otherwise obtain control. A Chinese cartel wannabe, a nerd from Oklahoma and ragtag English rivals set him up but his team of bodyguards and assassins are very good at their jobs. Guns, vehicles, a constant stream of expletives and their shared love for their work drives the action. A cautionary message is tucked in, as ancestral heirs drop dead from heroin abuse, marijuana not so dangerous. An exhilarating adventure demanding little of our brains with outrageous plot twists, admirable zingers, exceptional insults and non-stop action. The perennial elegant Hugh Grant’s blackmailer is incredibly, deliciously, skankily unwholesome.
Nic Cage gives us at least six important Nic Cage Moments* in the old farmhouse horror Color Out of Space as a man driven stark staring mad by alien invaders. His wife (Joely Richardson) battles cancer, his wannabe witch daughter moves from rebellion to heroism, and his sons try to keep the family and alpaca herd safe as mystery horrors take over their lives. Evil purple emanations from a meteorite crash site on their property make them crazy; Tommy Chong, the friendly squatter raises the alarm early but no one listens; hallucinations, physical and psychic attacks and the creepiest bonding of mother and children ever committed to film seem inevitable. Hokey, sure, but Cage is dependably hysterical. Q’orianka Kilcher appears for a minute and a half as the town Mayor. Based on the novel by way back author H. P Lovecraft, whose life was no picnic and directed by Richard Stanley.
- Nic milks alpacas
- Nic’s Fury Dance – the tomato toss, and the crap in the ice
- Anger dance while driving
- Nic versus the alpacas
- Weepy Nic – “We’ve been having a hard time”
Montreal filmmaker Louise Archambault’s And the Birds Rained Down set in isolation in heavily forested rural Québec, follows hermits (Kenneth Walsh, Remy Girard and Gilbert Sicotte) at a critical time. Their preferred isolation is threatened by oncoming forest fires; if they’re discovered, and they are considered “missing”, they’ll be put into homes. The free and fulfilling lives they’ve cobbled change when a nursing home runaway, (Andrée Lachapelle who died in November) joins them. Then trouble arrives in the form of a photographer who discovers them and plots to exhibit one of the men’s paintings of forest fire aftermath, thereby potentially blowing their cover. So, what do people do when their treasured secret way of life is to be stolen? Archambault’s beautifully intimate piece examines old age and social and environmental issues with a deft touch and much compassion. A jewel named one of Canada’s Top Ten, based on Jocelyne Saucier’s novel.
God bless the Brits, no one comes close to matching their brilliant TV police procedural series. Criminal: UK on Netflix is ace. Each forty-minute episode takes place in a police interview room, as detectives question suspects accused of serious crimes. In the opener, David Tennant plays a doctor suspected of raping and killing his stepdaughter. Just two coppers, the suspect and his lawyer. Tensions run high as they question him; he’s said nothing but “No comment” for 23 hours, if you follow British crime dramas, you’ll know that’s legal. Behind the mirrored glass top police officials swap out exhausted detectives as the hours drag on. The mental duel is off the charts. Twenty minutes in, he spills his guts. And then …This may be my favourite new series.
CBC Gem is now streaming an outstanding Canadian film, Kevan Funk’s Hello Destroyer. Tyson (Jared Abrahamson) is a junior hockey goon keen for the approval of his coach and fellow players. To that end, he beats a rival player and disables him for the good of his team. He does not become a hero, the team and community turn its backs on him as he faces his moral failure. He’s isolated, depressed and unable to reframe what he did or find a positive path forward. Abrahamson’s quiet but incandescent performance is nothing less than gut-wrenching in this exploration of a toxic male culture and culpability in sports. Devastating and powerfully graceful.
Crave‘s eight-part comedy series New Eden drags the sitcom into new territory and the result is wild and woolly. Using the mockumentary model, if marries found, secret and archival news footage, present-day jailhouse interviews and local gossips to fill out the story of the local cult. Two women in rural British Columbia, circa 1977 take “Aunt Agnes” hostage in her quaint farmhouse, assume her property and set up a women’s retreat called New Eden. They tout female-positive growth, self-actualization and community and it’s a success. But as members drink the Kool-Aid of cultism and the hallucinogenic honey, and Aunt Agnes turns up dead, well, it’s a bad scene. The manipulative leaders make it up as they go along and they’re good at it, so soon the women are controlled and complicit, even an undercover reporter is ready to hand it all over. This scathing satire of false prophets, con artists and their all-too-willing marks is insanely funny and super creepy. Starring creators Kayla Lorette and Evan Rosen.
Oscar hopeful FORD V FERRARI is on Digital Download January 28 and DVD Feb 11! This is the time for a big screen and sound system. Feeling the engines roar in this extreme race car actioner is half the fun. Two and a half heart-pounding hours fly by in James Mangold’s fact-based story of automotive titans and corporate greed. Henry Ford II and Lee Iacocca want to sex up the staid Ford’s image by entering the elite world of international racing. They hire Carroll Shelby, played by Matt Damon a leading designer of fine roadsters, to create a machine to beat long-time champs Ferrari at the 1966 Le Mans race in France. Christian Bale is Ken Myles, a rebellious and uniquely skilled English racer. They’re chasing the perfect machine as the Ford team manipulates the marketing process for a world they know nothing about. Entertaining and nerve-wracking it’s a terrific all-ages story. Also stars Josh Lucas, Jon Bernthal and Caitriona Balfe. Nominated for 4 Oscars with another 17 wins and 54 nominations.
by @annebrodie – Critics Choice Association/AWFJ/TFCA/FIPRESCI