Review: ‘Midnight Mass’ is another excellent horror story from Mike Flanagan and one of the best series of the year

Midnight Mass

There’s something familiar about Crocket Island, both for myself and the average viewer. For the latter, it is that indelible image of the small American town, the tight-knit community where everyone knows everyone, and everyone puts up with everyone else’s idiosyncrasies because of that feeling of community. For the former, for me, it reminds me of home. I grew up in a small town on an island in the pacific northwest. Not as small as the Crock Pot, as it’s affectionately referred to, but much of the feeling of that small town reminds me very much of what it’s like to live in a small place –and to feel trapped there.

This is the tone struck by the setting of Midnight Mass, the new horror limited series from director Mike Flanagan. The tiny, dying island community withering away year after year. Once a community of hundreds, now reduced to dozens, the people who remain are there either by loyalty, fear, circumstance or some combination of the three. It’s a place where time seems to have stopped, where every kid has a smartphone, but every living room has a tube TV with rabbit ears, a place where change comes either very slowly or –with the right catalyst– very quickly.

At the outset of the story, two new residents arrive on the island: the prodigal son of a longtime island family returning home in disgrace after a stint in prison and a charismatic young priest. Following their arrival, things start to change very quickly for the residents. Miraculous things begin to happen, and a revival of religious faith takes place. But, of course, these miracles come with a price, and by the time Midnight Mass reveals what that price is, it will have taken you on a journey exploring family, faith, doubt, loss, and the great lengths those things will make us go to.

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Awesome Friday Make/Remake Podcast: Three Versions of ‘The Thing’

Awesome Friday Podcast The Thing, The Thing, The Thing

Greetings programs, and welcome to a special episode of the podcast.  This week we’re doing something a little different and taking a look at three versions of the same film.  1951’s The Thing From Another World, 1982’s John Carpenter directed horror classic The Thing, and the 2011 remake/prequel thereof, also titled The Thing. 

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Aliens Fireteam Elite Review: Old School Thrills With New School Trimmings (PS5)

Alien: Fireteam Elite

Man, I’m a gaming dinosaur. Most of the time I spend with games now is framed with a never-ending, slow shake of the head as I try to comprehend what it even is these days. From open worlds with endless icons pulling me in every direction to entire catalogues of microtransactions that have been carved away to sell for eternal engagement, it’s all a far cry from the titles that got me hooked so many years ago. For me, the shift from PS3/Xbox 360 to PS4/Xbox One was the most noticeable, as suddenly developers could depend on a consumer internet connection, and so games became a service. I feel like the self-contained, more focused AA game is becoming as much of a relic as those that still want them.

Which is why Aliens Fireteam Elite is such a treat. Sure, it has a few modern marketing points ticked – three-player co-op missions (although it’s perfectly playable in single-player with bots) and the dreaded “Seasons” of downloadable content (to go with the laundry list of things you can unlock through normal play) – but, at its heart, it is a game that has a singular focus and it really wants to show you a damn good time.

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Home Video: Great Nicolas Cage Performances, and where to buy, rent, or stream them

Prisoners of the Ghostland

This week will see the release of the new Sion Sono directed Nicolas Cage starring post-apocalyptic sci-fi adventure thriller Prisoner of the Ghostland (see my Fantasia review here!) in theatres and on-demand. It’s a super weird film, and if you like weird Nicolas Cage, it probably has something for you.

Here are five more great Nicolas Cage performances in that same spirit and where you can buy, rent, or stream them from home.

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Awesome Friday Movie Podcast: ‘Kate’ & ‘Cruella’

Awesome Friday Podcast Kate & Cruella

Greetings programs! We’re back with our 9th episode of the new Awesome Friday Podcast. This week we’re talking about one new thing and one not so new thing. First up is the new Mary Elizabeth Winstead starring action film from Netflix, Kate, which we have mixed feelings about, and second is the new-to-all-Disney+-subscribers film starring Emma Stone, Cruella, which as it turns out, we both really like.

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Review: ‘Kate’ has a killer premise that you have definitely seen before

Kate

I am, if I am totally honest, not even sure where to begin. Kate, the upcoming action film from Netflix, has a killer lead actress, a killer premise, looks gorgeous and falls entirely flat at every turn. If it were not for some stylistic flourishes –which are problematic in their own right– I don’t know if I’d have anything nice to say about it.

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Home Video: Where to Buy, Rent, or Stream Every James Bond Movie

It has been a long time coming, but (as of this writing) the 25th James Bond film No Time to Die will finally be released on September 30th 2021, in the UK and on October 8th, 2021, here in North America. That gives you about a month to catch up on the franchise, and here’s where you can do just that! Below you’ll find links to buy, rent, or stream each of the 24 official (and 2 non-official) James Bond films.

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Review: ‘Worth’ is worth seeing for Michael Keaton alone

Worth

It’s hard to believe that the September 11th attacks were 20 years ago this month. It was an event that scarred the American psyche and that the country has been trying to reckon with through art ever since. We remember vividly things, such as the images of debris-covered civilians fleeing the scene or the American flag hanging over the ruins. There are things we don’t remember so well also, though, such as the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund which was created by an act of Congress just days after the attacks with an end goal of stopping the victims from suing the airlines involved.

Worth tells the story of Ken Feinberg and the administration of that fund, from its inception through the struggles to bring all the victims families on board and to its final resolution and payout to nearly 97% of them. If this sounds like it’s a little dry, well, you’re not entirely wrong.

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Awesome Friday Movie Podcast: ‘Candyman’ and ‘Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings’

Awesome Friday Podcast Candyman & Shang-Chi

Greetings programs! it’s that time of the week: Awesome Friday, on a Sunday. On this weeks episode of the podcast we’re taking on two new theatrical releases: Candyman, from director Nia DaCosta and Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings from director Destin Daniel Cretton.

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Review: ‘Candyman’ updates the mythos of a classic urban legend slasher, with uneven (but mostly good) results

Candyman

I make no bones about this fact: 1992’s Candyman and its 1995 follow up Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh are movies that shook me to my core as a child. I originally saw them back to back while alone in the dark, and let’s say that that had a formative effect on me. Short version: I was a horror wuss.

Fast forward to today, and I consume a great deal of horror as I think it’s one of the most creative spaces in filmmaking. However, the thought of a new Candyman film had me a little on edge thanks to some deep-seated memories. So now that I have had a chance to watch it, does it hold up to the original? Yes! Well, mostly!

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Review: ‘Powder Keg’ is a noble but unsuccessful drama

Powder Keg

In February 2015, a man with a gun opened fire in Copenhagen. He attacked the Krudttønden Cultural Centre, discharging more than thirty rounds and killing Finn Nørgaard, a filmmaker who ran outside and tried to overpower the shooter. The following day, the same shooter arrived at the Great Synagogue and killed Dan Uzan, a Jewish community member. This event remains one of the most prominent terrorist attacks in recent Danish history.

Powderkeg, releasing on-demand today by Vortex Media, tells the story of these three men plus a responding police officer. And it’s fine.

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Review: ‘Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings’ is Marvel’s best new character debut in ages

SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS

It’s ok, folks; our long national nightmare is over. Marvel’s latest film is out, and we can all stop holding our breath because it’s pretty great. I know there are a ton of you out there waiting to see this, and you want to go in as blind as possible –and that’s honestly a good idea!– so if you want to bookmark this and come back later, here are the Coles Notes: it’s good! It has some great laughs! It has some absolutely dope fight scenes! Simu Liu and Awkwafina are great together! I think you’re going to like it!

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Fantasia ’21 review: Dreams On Fire is a hypnotic and authentic drama where dance is the star

There’s an apt dreamlike quality to Dreams On Fire from the very first few minutes, where protagonist Yume announces her wish to become a dancer only to be chased out of her rural Japanese home by her fiercely overbearing father, while her mother can only cry in the corner. Soon she’s relocated to Tokyo, packing her whole life into a tiny noisy apartment that’s barely bigger than her single floor mat, and the rest of the movie’s two-hour-plus runtime takes its time to show us every high and low of her journey.

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Fantasia ’21 Review: Alien On Stage is an irresistible creative journey

Alien on Stage

What do you want in your documentaries? Sweeping views of Colombian jungles? An in-depth exploration of the habits of migrating monarch butterflies? Or a group of bus drivers from Dorset who decide to put on their stage version of the classic sci-fi horror, Alien? Well, good news, you can have all three, but if you’re looking for an almost unbelievable underdog story that leaves you misty-eyed at the end, then the latter is perfect for you.

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Review: ‘Only Murders in the Building’ is both lighthearted fun and a great send-up of true crime podcasts

True Crime is, debatably, the largest and furthest reaching of all the podcast genres. They reach mass audiences and have been adapted into television series that have gone on to critical acclaim. So it’s only natural then that someone was going to send them up. Luckily for us, that person turned out to be Steve Martin.

Martin, alongside producer John Hoffman and joined in the cast by Martin Short and Selena Gomez, created a delightful lighthearted comedy series and a delightful send-up of the true crime podcast genre itself.

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