Home Video: Great Films (and series!) from Director Mike Flanagan, and where to Buy, Rent, or Stream them

Midnight Mass

Over the last several years, Mike Flanagan has made a name for himself as a director of horror, and at the same time, become one of my personal favourite filmmakers. This past week saw the release of his latest project, the Netflix series Midnight Mass. To celebrate this, here are three great films and two series he directed.

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Review: ‘Star Wars: Visions’ offers some new takes on the galaxy far, far away, mostly

Star Wars: Visions

Star Wars is a franchise of epic stories, but the galaxy far, far away has always felt a little small. Planets with the population of villages, each only a short drive through hyperspace from one another. One thing that the franchise has needed for a long time is some expansion, some stories to push at the universe’s boundaries. Animation has been, for years now, the place where that has been happening, and Star Wars: Visions –a project in which Lucasfilm let several prominent anime studios tell Star Wars stories– is the latest series to do it. Mostly.

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Home Video: Where to Buy or Stream ‘The Sopranos’ ahead of ‘The Many Saints of Newark’

The Many Saints of Newark

Next week we’re getting a new entry in the Sopranos franchise. The Many Saints of Newark will tell a story of a young Tony Soprano (played by original Tony Sporano actor James Gandolfini’s son, Michael Gandolfini) as he learns the family business from his uncle Dickie Moltisanti. What better time to get caught up on everyone favourite crime family, and watch or rewatch the series?

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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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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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Review: ‘Marvel’s What If…?’ explores what might have been in the MCU, and it’s great

What If...?

Here’s a true story for you. When I was young, I collected comics. Not that uncommon, to be sure, especially among kids in the late 80s and early 90s who had heard stories about the adults who paid off their homes by hanging on to comics and baseball cards and other collectables. So I didn’t just collect comics; I collected comics.

I loved many characters and series, but the one I enjoyed most –the one that I was buying when no one else I know was– was a series by Marvel called “What if…?”, in which a toga-clad all-seeing cosmic being related stories of the Marvel universe I knew and loved but with a single change. Imagine the butterfly effect at work: a butterfly flaps its wings in China, you get rain in Stanley Park; Peggy Carter doesn’t go up to the observation room as Steve Rogers is headed toward the experiment that would make him Captain America, and instead, we end up with Captain Carter. I loved it. I still do. And now they’ve made an animated series out of it.

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Let’s talk about the end of ‘Loki’

Loki

Loki, Marvel’s latest Disney+ television series ended last night with a number of surprises, but perhaps the most surprising thing is that it was a season finale –cliffhanger and all– rather than a the end of a self contained series.

There are a few big revelations, so let’s talk about them and what they might mean and a few thoughts I have on where things might go. Yes, this article will be absolutely riddled with spoilers (and assumes you’ve watched the series).

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Review: ‘Schmigadoon!’ is hilarious, fun, and clearly made by people who love musicals

Schmigadoon!

Here’s a true fact: I grew up watching musicals. I spent a lot of time at my grandmothers house when I was a kid and she had lots of them on VHS. It is my heartfelt belief that she loved them, but it was probably also that they were super long and could keep us distracted for hours at a time. Anyway, the point is that I have seen a lot of the classic musicals and my appreciation for the musical continues to this day.

So it is easy to see why I really like AppleTV+’s new series Schmigadoon!, which features two modern day characters dropped into the middle of a classic 1940s musical.

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Review: ‘Monsters at Work’ is exactly the continuation this franchise needs

Monsters at Work

Ok, this is where I make a confession: I’ve never really liked Monsters Inc. I get why the people who love it love it, but I never have. I never watched Monsters University because the world doesn’t hold a lot of interest for me.

When I heard about Monsters at Work I thought that television might actually be the perfect place for a franchise like this. A workplace comedy about monsters in the laugh factory is probably the best possible way to explore these characters and this world. It turns out that’s probably true, even if it’s not for me.

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Review: The first two episodes of ‘Loki’ set up an intriguing adventure

Loki

Tom Hiddleston is back as the god of mischief in Disney’s new limited series Loki, and he’s definitely up to no good. Or, maybe a little bit of good. It’s not really clear, but that’s half the fun. Loki has always been in it for himself, but now he has Owen Wilson to add some direction, and the results are good.

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Review: ‘Star Wars: The Bad Batch’ is off to an exciting start

Star Wars: The Bad Batch

In case you aren’t in the know, the Star Wars universe has seen some excellent storytelling in the last several years. Most of it, though, hasn’t been from movies or the much-lauded show about not-Boba Fett and Baby Yoda, but rather in the form of an animated universe clone troopers. The Bad Batch, the latest animated series from Disney+ and creator Dave Filoni, continues to prove that Star Wars is at its best on TV.

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Review: ‘The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’ premiere is a big tease for things to come

How do you follow in the footsteps of a giant? How do you live with the sins of your past? These are two of the questions at the heart of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, the new series on Disney+ that follows Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan, reprising their roles as Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes, respectively.

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Recap & Review: ‘WandaVision’ Series Finale, in which our heroes stories are resolved. Mostly.

This week WandaVision comes to a close with a nearly hour-long episode, fittingly titled “The Series Finale”. This episode will bring the story to a close (mostly, this is Marvel we’re talking about), but is it successful? There’s only one way to find out.

Heads up, I wrote the recap a little differently this week, with a section dedicated to each character. It was definitely easier to write, and I hope it’s easier to read.

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