By Anne Brodie
What a joy to find Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd, Henry Czerny, Bruce McCulloch, and Scott Thompson on the big screen together! They form a winning ensemble in Zombie Town a spoof on the horror genre, suitable for all ages, based on R. L. Stine’s best-selling young adult novel series Goosebumps. Carverville (actually Sudbury) is home to Len Carver (Aykroyd) a renowned horror filmmaker who abandoned his fans 30 years ago. Word is he has a new film he’ll premiere in the local theatre. High school student Mike (Marlon Kazadi) works at the theatre and manages to nab Carver’s copy to secretly show it to his bestie (Instagram star Madi Monroe, going against her online image) Amy, unwittingly unleashing an ancient curse. And they have to turn it back or Carverville citizens are in BIG trouble. Ranging from amusing to hysterically funny, Zombie Town is a delight that carries a lot of positive notes for kids, showcases our hero and heroine, and warns us to stay out of Egyptian burial chambers in small-town Canada. Fabulous! Stay to the very last post-credits moment! In Theatres.
Apple TV+‘s haunting new series The Changeling stars LaKeith Stanfield as Apollo, a rare book merchant in New York who unintentionally enters an alternate reality when his wife Emma (Clark Backo) suddenly changes. This fantasy “fairytale for grownups”, based on the book by Victor LaValle goes to dark corners of the mind, into a traumatic universe and tortured reality and simmers with anxiety. Apollo finally meets Emma, a librarian, woos and weds her; they’re delighted when she becomes pregnant but her behaviour changes as she deals with some kind of inner dread and sleep deprivation. Apollo learns she’s begun leading a secret life traveling; she withdraws, wanders around New York with her son, commits a grave act, and disappears. Apollo follows her into alternate realities, armed with arcane knowledge from a lifetime of reading ancient texts, most helpfully Scandinavian mythology. He’s plagued with recurring nightmares of his father (Canada’s Hello Destroyer breakout star Jared Abrahamson) who abandoned him as a child. As dark and dispiriting as it sounds, it’s an interesting take on fantasy, a fresh kick in the pants for a tired genre. Shot in London, Ontario, and Queens NY. Sept. 8
Who would have thought one of the most notorious jewel thieves in the world hails from Winnipeg? The documentary The Jewel Thief on Disney+ and Hulu now reveals it’s so. Meek and mild, self-described nerd Gerald Blanchard needed cash as an adolescent and cooked up schemes to steal goods and money in ways that beggar belief. At 12 Blanchard pulled his first heists and he liked the feeling. He filmed them with cameras running, one in each armpit. One Sunday he and a friend rented a truck and entirely emptied a store, and a SWAT team showed up at his home, and presto his first mugshot at 15. At 16 he bought a house. He continued to refine his work, making instruments that got him into ATMs, once he tired of stealing from Radio Shack and returning the goods for cash. He hated banks, one night he stole $500k Cdn from a Scotiabank in Edmonton. He took his act to Europe where in 1998, he stole the Star of Empress Sisi, a diamond-and-pearl hair ornament from the Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna. Then off to France and Africa and the arms trade, working with an extremely dangerous gang with ties to Al-Qaeda. Blanchard was eventually captured and sentenced to 168 years in prison. Doesn’t end there though. What’s most interesting to this reviewer is that Blanchard has intelligence and mad skills, but lacks personality. Interviews reveal that there may be no there there. And what a story, head-spinning stuff. Find out where the Star of Empress Sisi shows up!
Lars Mikkelsen, brother of Mads Mikkelsen, turns in a simmering performance that bursts into rage in Viaplay‘s Face to Face S3. He is Holger Lang, a powerful Copenhagen real estate developer investigating the brutal murder of Christina, his heir, and his late friend’s daughter, as he continues to rip off, layer by layer, the complex and baffling mystery of her death. Some believe it was suicide, others that Lang did it, both proving impossible. In this third season, he’s beginning to carve away the superfluous and confront everyone in his circle, one by one. What he learns along the way is extraordinary, conspiracies around his new project, the ambitious North Harbour high rise, and traitors at work and at home, leaving him alone and vulnerable. And then someone sends him video footage of Christina’s sad death. Each episode focuses on one or two people he challenges in conversation, accusations, denials, and truth bombs. He suspects his younger brother, who adores him, because he is not to be Lang’s heir, and their conversation ends badly. His project manager has been ripping him off and Christina got wind of it, and his lawyer has betrayed him. And more suspects to come. The mini-movie episodes are vivid, lifelike, and startling, tiny dramatic masterpieces that create clock-ticking urgency. Also, superb production values, no frills, intense focus, and performances by some of Denmark’s best make this series, aka Forhøret, tick.
Also on Viaplay, the Swedish series Limbo has a documentary feel as a detailed look at the relationships between three families, and longtime friends when a tragic accident occurs. Ebbe, My, and Gloria (Rakel Wärmländer, Sofia Helin, Louise Peterhoff) love their decompression time together, away from their husband and wife, and teenagers. A subtle seed is planted regarding a son and one of the mothers. After a night out, the women return to their homes to be woken and summoned to the hospital; their sons have been in a car crash. Hours later, after being told nothing, My and Gloria’s sons are released, relatively unscathed, but police suspect Lukas was driving under the influence. Updates on Jakob aren’t forthcoming. Ebbe and her husband respond with anger, physical force, and shouting at staff and one another; they learn he had been sitting on the hood of the car when it crashed, and suffered massive brain trauma. Once they understand the life-changing results of the crash, Ebbe turns on Lukas and his mother and so begins the unraveling of trust and friendship. Lukas tries to hug Jakob’s father and is rebuffed. Gloria’s ex-husband picks this time to tell her he and his new partner are expecting, and her wife seems unstable. The bonds of lifelong friendship are severely tested, accusations and secrets emerge and somehow all involved must try to move forward. Based on real events.
Next week – TIFF! – et la deluge!