Looking for your next binge-worthy series or film to add to your streaming queue? Check back with Village Life every Friday for Jordan Parker's comprehensive insights on the week's most buzz-worthy programs from top streaming services like Netflix, Crave, Amazon Prime, and beyond.
Paramount+ -- The Forgiven
Sometimes it’s a film you’ve never heard of that gobsmacks you, and The Forgiven is a movie I went into based solely on my goodwill toward its two leads.
What I got was a biting examination of class, wealth and the dreadful nonchalance for the lives of others, all wrapped up in a thriller.
When a boozy lawyer and his novelist wife head to a huge shindig in the Moroccon desert, they soon become part of a hit-and-run that has grave consequences. The couple assume their wealth and status will keep them from trouble.
But with a dead, young local boy and a father who comes asking for penance, they won’t get past things as easy as they thought.
The cast is stunning – from Ralph Fienne’s brutish demeanour to his demure, captivating counterpart Jessica Chastain. Matt Smith is bold and devilish, and Christopher Abbott and Caleb Landry Jones add a certain charm to the proceedings.
Co-writer and director John Michael McDonagh may not hit it out of the park with the uneven tone, but he certainly manages to make an impact.
On Netflix – The Butterfly Effect
This film produced one of the largest chasms between audiences and critics I’ve ever seen, and to this day I’ll never see why it wasn’t adored by all.
A pitch-black thriller, Ashton Kutcher sheds his lovable doofus skin as Evan, who suffers headaches and blackouts during traumatic events in his life. But later in life, he develops the ability to recover the lost memories, whether he wants to or not.
A deeply underrated film so many always forget, The Butterfly Effect was a defining film when I saw it at 14-years-old, and one of the first times as a young “film auteur” I realized that critics can be … well … totally pretentious.
Kutcher – for his part – delights in a game-changing performance, one that makes me wish he’d gone fully into dramatic territory. Amy Smart, Elden Henson, William Lee Scott, a very young Logan Lerman and Eric Stoltz make up a really great cast.
Writer-directors Eric Bress and J. Mackye Gruber never made another film, and while I don’t know the reason why, I would have loved to see what these two followed up with. As a standalone feature in their repertoire, The Butterfly Effect soars.
On Disney+ -- Mystery, Alaska
This chippy little sports drama was one of my absolute favourite movies as a young kid, and one my parents desperately tried to keep me from.
With its flagrant locker room talk and frank subject matter, this incredible story about a hockey team in Alaska was impossible to keep me from seeing.
Austin Powers director Jay Roach was the selling point for me as a 10-year-old, but the warm heart of a film about team spirit, small towns and caring for each other kept me involved.
A small town with elite hockey players is given the chance to play against the New York Rangers on home turf for a televised exhibition game, and the team must come together to put on a show.
The cast is really, really dynamic and fun – Russell Crowe, Burt Reynolds, Hank Azaria, Mary McCormack, Colm Meaney, Kevin Durand, Adam Beach and more light up the screen.
Brought to life by the television creator of The Practice and Ally McBeal, it’s a testament to the power of a charming cast and an engaging story.
On Crave – Shazam! Fury of the Gods
I originally planned a different superhero film – AntMan 3 – for the slot on this week’s streaming list. But that film was an absolute disappointment, and as I frantically searched for a replacement, I took a chance on this sequel.
Shazam! Fury of the Gods may not match the pluckiness of its predecessor, but I thought it was a funny, pretty action-packed time overall.
Savaged by critics and ignored by audiences, this will be one of those films that fell under the weight of expectations that were unduly laid on it. The original came out of nowhere to become a really enjoyable DC property, and pure entertainment is what this sequel delivered as well.
It follows teenager Billy Batson, who has the power to become an adult superhero by uttering the word ‘SHAZAM’! When Goddesses come to earth to disrupt things and take his powers, he must defend his friends, family and community.
It isn’t overly complicated, and I’m not sure it needed all three of its writers, but director David F. Sandberg delivers all he needs to – An unassuming film with a big, beating heart.
Zachary Levi, Asher Angel, Jack Dylan Grazer, Rachel Zegler and Adam Brody all return. But Lucy Liu and Helen Mirren add some new depth as the villains, even if they aren’t particularly memorable.
Temper your expectations and just expect a good time, and you’ll leave happy with Shazam! 2.
On Amazon Prime Video – Triangle Of Sadness
This was one of my absolutely favourite films of last year, and those who love it will remember it for years to come.
This one isn’t for everyone, but if you’re a fan of witty, brutally sharp comedy, then Ruben Ostlund’s savage picture is for you.
It follows a wealthy, indifferent fashion model couple who head on a boat cruise for the ultra-rich, where the guests treat crew like fodder for their amusement.
But when the boat crashes – leaving survivors trapped on an island – the survival skills are possessed by the crew, not the coddled customers.
Woody Harrelson, Harris Dickinson, the late Charlbi Dean, Vicki Berlin, Zlatko Buric and the scene-stealing Dolly De Leon make a wonderful ensemvle.
Nominated for Best Picture, Screenplay and Directing, this one was an absolute triumph, and left me rolling in my seat laughing.
About The Author:
Jordan Parker is a freelance journalist and runs entertainment firm Parker PR. A huge lover and supporter of the local arts scene, he’s an avid filmgoer and lover of all genres.
A 2SLGBTQIA+ professional, he also works doing Events & Fundraising for the AIDS Coalition of Nova Scotia, and has a passion for giving a platform to queer events and artists.
His writing often skews toward local businesses, productions, events, and covering arts & entertainment. He’s also an avid sports fan and spends every May getting let down by the Maple Leafs in the first round of the playoffs.
Jordan believes in an open-door policy, and welcomes story pitches and questions from readers.
Email: [email protected]