Dec 30th - Jan 13th Downloads
& DVDs
 
  • Joker:

    This is a very dark movie that doesn't offer much hope for anything good coming out of all that Arthur Fleck, who would come to be known as The Joker, has to endure during real time in the film, and in his previous life as a child.  It is bleak, violent, and surprising in terms of twists and turns that the story takes.  This is Joachim Phoenix's movie from top to bottom and from bottom to top.  It's also likely the best example of a backstory for a well-known existing character.  This is where the movie takes on a level of relevance well beyond the comic book connection.  It is also a social and perhaps political commentary on the role of the mentally ill in our society, and how they become disenfranchised, and in many cases, invisible.  The film talks about budget cuts to social programs for those who struggle with mental health, and as it watches Arthur's further slide into the darkest void the mind can create, we recognize that he didn't go there by choice.  A childhood of abuse was the initial set-up, and then a society that viewed him as unworthy of any real help contributed further.  Phoenix lost a lot of weight to play the emaciated character who begins as a clown holding an advertising card on the street corners of Gotham City.  An early scene shows a gang of teens taking his sign.  He gives chase, because he knows if anything happens to the sign, it comes out of his paycheque.  What follows is a scene of violence as the kids taunt him, and then beat him mercilessly.  Arthur lives in a squalid walk-up apartment caring for his aging mother.  She tells him repeatedly that the wealthy Thomas Wayne, to whom she writes endless letters, will come to their rescue, as she was once a housekeeper on his household staff.   Robert De Niro is excellent as a Johnny Carson-like TV talk show host, but no one in this film overshadows Phoenix. Rated 14A here, "R" in the U.S.

     

  • The Lighthouse:

    For me, this is one of those "the emperor has no clothes!" concepts, and I'm the little kid at the parade who points it out.  The film is essentially a two-person show with Robert Pattinson (Twilight) as Ephraim, one of two men working at a storm-tossed, impossibly remote lighthouse in the 1880s, and his much older, more experienced old salt of a boss Thomas, played by Willem Dafoe (Aquaman, At Eternity's Gate).  As the story progresses, and as the wind and rain pound the tiny rock on which the lighthouse sits, the two men sink slowly into what may be insanity, and what may be something even worse.  It has had smashing reviews for the most part ... but not everyone sees it that way.  There is no question that it is a formidable job of acting on the part of both men.  In fact, I saw it more as a master class in performing more than anything else, because frankly, there really isn't that much of a story.  The men work, they eat their evening meal, they drink, they bicker and fight, and the next day is just more of the same.  It gets even more artsy as the black-and-white film, shot in an almost square format, makes the already claustrophobic feeling even worse.  Their descent into what appears to be insanity just goes around and around with no real outcome.  So ... yes, it's well-acted - brilliantly so; and yes, it's very artsy.  But it reminded me of a Twilight Zone episode in the 1960s ... but far, far longer for no real outcome.  Rated R in the US, 14A here.

  • A Million Little Things (2018):

    This is one of those films, because it deals with the most raw portions of the human condition, that made me want to stop watching before it completely overtook me with its depressive story.  Originally a book by James Fray, it was presented initially as his story of a fall into alcoholism and drug abuse, and his ultimate climb out of that pit, through therapy and a support group which allowed him to become a whole person again.  It was a pick for Oprah's Book Club, but was withdrawn when news leaked out that it was actually a completely fictionalized account rather than the slice-of-life story of a man pulling himself out of the depths of addiction by his own bootstraps.  Fray is played by British stage actor Aaron Taylor-Johnson, who finds himself, after a fall from a balcony in a drunken stupor, on an aircraft en route to a treatment facility on the other side of the country.  There he meets a cast of depraved characters who are worse of than he is.  Also stars Juliette Lewis, Giovanni Ribisi, and Billy Bob Thornton.  Rated 18A.

  • Dracula (2020):

    This new release featuring the undead Count who feasts on human blood, is a three-part mini-series that is a Netflix original, with a little help from the BBC.  More blood than one might expect from a Dracula story, Danish actor Claes Bang brings a different accent along with his lust for biting people's necks as the story spins out, based on the Bram Stoker novel, but with more of a hero spin ... not to say that he is completely a nice guy, but he does have some redeeming features.  Rated 14A.

     

    Messiah (TV series, 2020):

    This Netflix original follows the events following the appearance of a man in the Middle East who claims to be the Messiah, and who performs miracles at every turn.  He attracts international attention, and as his activities play out, something doesn't seem quite right.  Michelle Monaghan (Mission Impossible) is CIA agent Eva Geller assigned to track down the mysterious man, and determine just what kind of risk he might be - is he a boon to humanity, or is the beginning of the end of our civilization?  Rated 14A.

New on CRAVE

Astronaut (2019):

Angus (Richard Dreyfuss) is a lonely widower with little reason to live since losing his wife.  There is nothing that interests him, nothing that makes him feel that life is worth living ... until a billionaire announces a contest that will allow passage into space for three people, each of who has to qualify based on a number of hoops that have to be jumped through.  Angus, lying about his age, qualifies and looks to the dark of the place beyond earth's atmosphere to find some reason to exist.  His dysfunctional family is just one of the obstacles to his opportunity to fly in space.  Rated 14A. 



The Witcher (TV Series, 2019):

This Netflix original series is a sword-and-sandal thriller that follows Geralt of Rivera, a solitary monster-killer who roams the earth righting the wrongs created by monstrosities everywhere.  Henry Cavill stars as the title character, based on a novel series.  A second season has already been announced, so you can binge watch this one safely.  Rated 14A. 

 

New on AMAZON PRIME

The Kill Team (2019):

This is an Afghan War story that could be based on actual events.  A young infantryman, Andrew Briggman, views the behaviour of his commanding officer, Sgt. Deeks (Alexander Skarsgaard) as being well beyond the bounds of acceptable military behaviour.  He faces the moral dilemma that most whistle-blowers face ... is he right or his he wrong.  If he says nothing, does it make him complicit?  And if he speaks out, it could mean his life.  Rated 14A. 

 

New on DISNEY +

The Mandalorian, Chapter 6:

This Star Wars series made for streaming, is perhaps the most true and authentic spinoff that the franchise has offered in more than 20 years.  Taking place in the days of Jawas and Ewoks, it follows the adventures of a masked bounty hunter and his baby Yoda capturee across the galaxy.  The flavour is very much that of the Empire Strikes Back era, with outstanding special effects and a superb story.  Rated PG.