What’s new at the Box Office – Our own Candy Havens joins us to review the latest movies and what’s hot on your streaming service.
Find a Mystery for You
By Candace Havens
If you were listening last week, you might have heard me talking about new-ish streaming services that have tons of mysteries, procedurals and thrillers. Acorn TV and Brit Box have great shows from across the pond and free trials so you can explore before you buy. I’ve cultivated a list of personal favorites.
Acorn TV: The “Agatha Raisin” mysteries are fun and the characters delightful. Agatha (Ashley Jensen) and her friends solve crimes in their small town. It’s the relationships in this show that make it work so well. If you like your mysteries with some humor, “Queens of Mystery,” “Miss Fisher,” “Vexed,” “Murdoch Mysteries,” “Jack Taylor,” and “Miss Fisher’s Modern Murder Mysteries,” are some to check out.
Darker Mysteries, Thrillers, and Procedurals: “No Offence” is a personal favorite. Again, it’s those relationships between the characters that make viewers care about what happens to them. And then there’s “Vera,” which is one of my all-time favorite series. Brenda Blethyn is a marvel as the curmudgeonly Vera, who has a no-nonsense way of solving crimes. Other favorites include, “Acceptable Risk,” “Foyle’s War,” “Marple,” “London Kills,” “Loch Ness,” “Blood,” “Keeping Faith,” “My Life is Murder,” and “Manhunt.”
Brit Box is another streaming service chocked full of great mysteries and thrillers. If you want a bit of humor and beautiful scenery, “Death in Paradise” is so much fun. The cast is fluid, so be ready for that. The murders are incredibly contemplates, as in there are some very clever people living or visiting the island, but the show will leave you with a smile and a yearning for the beach. Other shows including, “Rosemary and Thyme,” “Shakespeare & Hathaway,” and “The Gil Mayo Mysteries” all have a touch of funny.
Darker Mysteries, Thrillers and Procedurals: There are a few series that I’ve watched more than once, most of them are on Brit Box. One of those is “Scott & Bailey,” while there are several seasons of the show, I wish there were more. The friendship between DC’s Rachel Bailey (Suranne Jones) and Janet Scott (Lesley Sharp) is one for the ages. While solving crimes, they see each other some through the good, the bad, and the ugly. These two women are far from perfect, and it’s refreshing to see two flawed heroines saving the day.
Speaking of flawed heroines, it doesn’t get any better than Helen Mirren as Jane Tennison in “Prime Suspect.” There are seven seasons (not as many episodes of American television) to be savored.
Here are a few more to add to your queue: “Blue Murder,” “The Bay,” “Wallander,” “Miss Marple,” “Dark Heart,” “Father Brown,” “Inspector Morse,” “Life on Mars,” and “Cracker” (this is an older series, but Robbie Coltrane is amazing in it).
While I like true crime podcasts, I’m not really into watching them on television. Brit Box and Acorn TV, do have a good selection of those kind of shows.
Happy watching, friends.
Buck Steals Hearts in The Call of the Wild
Harrison Ford excels at playing grumpy old men but put him with a dog in “The Call of
the Wild,” and he’s absolutely heart-melting. He plays John Thornton in this tale about a
dog, Buck, who leaves his cushy life in California for the wilds of Alaska during the Gold
Even though Buck has been created through CGI––which only bugged me at the very
beginning––it’s easy to fall for him because he’s almost human-like with his emotions.
His life is one giant roller coaster ride of adventure, which is an adrenaline rush for
The cinematography is breath-taking, and the movie reminds me of an updated version
of those old Disney adventures that aired on Sunday nights. The harsher aspects of the
book are in this film, but it’s still a great movie for the whole family.
Emma Doesn’t Disappoint
There have been many incarnations of Emma, but never quite like this. Writer Eleanor
Catton and director Autumn de Wilde have given a fresh and contemporary voice to this
satire about social class and the pain of growing up.
The Jane Austen comedy was written so long ago and is still so relatable for today’s
society. The dialogue is fast and sharp, and the casting spot on with Anya Taylor-Joy as
the well-meaning Emma. Johnny Flynn (George Knightley), Bill Nighy (Mr. Woodhouse),
Mia Goth (Harriet Smith), Miranda Hart (Miss Bates), and Josh O’Connor (Mr. Elton)
round out the supporting cast.
The film is beautiful from the cinematography to the lavish costumes. It’s smart, funny
and will please fans of the tale.
Hunters is a Love Letter to the Creator’s Grandmother
“Hunters” creator David Weil used stories his grandmother, a holocaust survivor, used
to tell him as inspiration for his new series on Amazon. “As a young kid of five or six,
those stories felt like the stuff of comic books and superheroes,” Weil says. “As I got
older, I struggled with the feeling of birthright. What was my responsibility to continue
The series, which is set in the summer of 1977, follows young Jonah Heidelbaum
(Logan Lerman) as he discovers there is a group of Nazi hunters, headed by Meyer
Offerman (Al Pacino). Each of the team members has a specialty and they work
together to bring down Nazi men and women. Jonah’s grandmother had been tracking
down a ruthless killer, and now he is determined to find him.
In a parallel story, Agent Millie Morris (Jerrika Hinton), who is better at her job than just
about everyone in her department, is on the trail of the Hunters and the Nazis. No one takes her seriously because she’s a woman, one of the first in the department, but she’s
not about to let that stop her.What ensues is a mix of Quentin Tarantino-like stylized action and great story-telling. “It’s a love letter to my grandmother,” Weil says. “It was a
quest to don that vigilante cape in the face of rising antisemitism in the world, racism, xenophobia. It was a desire to shed light on hidden crimes and hidden truths.
“And it was also kind of a desire to create a sense of catharsis and wish fulfillment for a young Jewish kid growing up on Long Island who wanted to see superheroes who looked like him on screen, who engaged with the perpetration against the Jewish people in a way that felt, you know, unique and special, in a way that we reclaimed power.”
Locke & Key Full of Mystery
The new fantasy teen drama, “Locke & Key,” on Netflix is based on the horror comic
book series from Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez. It’s a mix of what’s going on with three
children who have lost their father and their mother, who is dealing with everything that
has happened the best way she can. The family has moved from Seattle to the small
town where the father grew up.
The Victorian mansion looks like something out of a fairy tale and is filled with
mysteries. The youngest child, Bode (Jackson Robert Scott), discovers one of those
mysteries early on. The house whispers and leads the boy to keys. Each key has a
different magical power, and soon, his brother, Tyler (Connor Jessup), and sister,
Kinsey (Emilia Jones), are in on the game. But the keys aren’t always good, and
someone is willing to kill to get them.
Meanwhile, the mom, Nina (Darby Stanchfield), knows there is something more going
on with her husband’s murder and begins to investigate his past. She’s a recovering
alcoholic and the more she searches, the darker the path seems to be. The series is scary, funny, and full of teen angst, and nearly impossible to stop watching. Even though some of the episodes are a bit uneven, you’ll find yourself fully invested in what happens to this family.
These Guys are Definitely Not Gentlemen
By Candace Havens
The last movie Guy Ritchie (“Snatch,” “Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels”) did–was “Aladdin.” His new film, “The Gentleman” is not child-friendly––but fans of Ritchie, who like his gritty, no-holds-barred, stylized fight scenes, are in for a treat. Matthew McConaughey plays Mickey Pearson, who is about to sell his London drug empire. There’s so much money involved that every gangster in the UK wants a piece of it.
The humor is dark and slightly wicked. And seeing these actors in roles that are a bit out of the norm for some of them, is fun. “I don’t think you’ll look at me the same way,” says Hugh Grant, who plays the smarmy reporter, Fletcher, said to me last week. And he’s right. That’s part of what makes Ritchie’s film work. There are unexpected turns and twists. The cast read like a who’s who of Hollywood hunks. In addition to those mentioned, there is Charlie Hunman (Ray), Colin Farrell (Coach), Jason Wong, Henry Golding (Dry Eye), and so many more.
Ritchie would change a line in the middle of filming, something the actors had to get used to––but it’s that sort of dedication to perfection that will leave fans completely satisfied––and also wanting more.
Patrick Stewart is Back with “Picard”
By Candace Havens
After a screening of the first three episodes, a friend said, “Star Trek: Picard” (Streaming on CBS All Access.) is a series for people who aren’t Trekkies, as well as, the long-time fans. I have to agree. It’s not like anything we’ve seen before from the brand.
The series begins with Jean Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) making the most of his retirement. That is, until a strange, young woman (Isa Briones) shows up on his doorstep. What follows, leads Picard on a late-in-life journey, he could not have imagined. “Picard’s life has changed,” Stewart (star and executive producer) says. “He’s troubled, disturbed, lonely, and with feelings of strange, unnatural guilt… Now, he has this opportunity for one last trip into the unknown.”
One of the conditions Stewart wanted, if he were to return to the Star Trek universe, is that his character has a dog. He and his wife love animals. “To just see him with a dog seemed to me to write a lot of things that didn’t have to be said,” Picard explains, “because the presence of the dog alone means that he’s looking for some form of comfort, which he cannot find anywhere else, but he finds it in the dog. Yes, it had to be a pit bull, because I’m passionate about these dogs, and they are abused and treated appallingly all over the world. I’m now campaigning in the UK for the laws to be changed and for them to be allowed into the country. So it’s terrific to have Dinero in the sequel, and I hope we see much more of him.”
You don’t have to know anything about “Star Trek” to understand the show. The producers did that on purpose. “We were very conscious of ourselves and everybody in between,” executive producer Akiva Goldsman says. “Many of us have very deep, long‑standing relationships to ‘Star Trek.’ Our storytelling came from watching ‘Star Trek,’ the original series or the original series in syndication or later iterations. So that’s really important to us. We are “Star Trek” fans. We also believe that “Star Trek” is a universal communication. We admire it the way fans admire it with those kinds of aspirations for it. But we wanted the show to be equally enjoyable for people who had never seen it.”
In addition to Stewart and Briones, the cast includes Alison Pill, Michelle Hurd, Rebecca Wisocky, Santiago Cabrera, and Harry Treadway. We won’t spoil the fun, but many familiar faces will be guest stars on the new series. It starts a bit slow, but once it gets going––it’s an interesting adventure.
The Bad Boys are Back
By Candace Havens
It was 25 years ago when Will Smith (Mike Lowry) and Martin Lawrence (Marcus Burnett) made the first “Bad Boys” film. And in “Bad Boys for Life” they are as funny as ever. While the actors don’t look like they’ve aged, their characters are older. In the first few minutes, Mike becomes a grandfather and decides he’s ready to retire. Lowry can’t imagine ever quitting what they do.
Then something happens that hits a little too close to home, and Mike convinces Marcus to team up one more time. Much like the previous incarnations, it’s loud, and a little crazy. But it’s also fun, which is why viewers keep coming back. The plot is not why we love these films––it’s watching Smith and Lawrence do their thing––and they do it well.
Robert Downey Makes a Fun Dolittle
By Candace Havens
“Dolittle” is a hot mess. But stick with me here. The story is a bit different than you’ve seen before. The good doctor (Robert Downey Jr) has stepped back from society and lives with his animal friends a gorilla called Chee-Chee (Rami Malek); Yoshi (John Cena), who is a polar bear; there’s the duck Jab-Jab (Octavia Spencer); an ostrich (Kumail Nanjiani); and Polly (Emma Thompson) the parrot.
It isn’t long before Dolittle is asked to come out retirement to help save some royalty, who happens to have a mysterious illness. I know what you’re thinking. Isn’t Dolittle a vet? Yes, but you’re overthinking. And if you want to have fun with this movie, don’t look for plot holes the size of the ship the doctor and his animals take to find a cure.
Kids don’t care about plot holes, and this movie is for them. They’re going to love the animals and the jokes that might make adults cringe (In all honesty, there are some good jokes as well). Your kids will love it.
“911” Heads to Texas
By Candace Havens
One the best things about “911: Lone Star,” premiering Sunday and Monday at 7 p.m. on Fox, is they don’t hick-i-fy it. There are no terrible Texas accents or making fun of their Southern surroundings. New Yorkers Owen Strand (Rob Lowe), and his son, T.K. (Ronen Rubinstein), are looking for a fresh start and one comes their way. They’ve been asked to revitalize a Texas fire station that lost most of its personnel in a tragedy. It’s a situation Owen is familiar with, as he had to do the same with his station after 9/11.
Owen hires an eclectic and diverse group of firefighters Marjan (Natacha Karam), Paul (Brian Michael Smith), and Mateo (Julian Works), who are all great at their jobs and have special talents. There’s a bit of head-knocking with the captain of the paramedics, Michelle (Liv Tyler). Things are different in Texas, and he’s having to learn fast.
One of the best lines in the show is T.K. saying the AA meetings in Austin are way cooler than NY. We all know Austin is one of the coolest places in the world, but it’s nice to hear. While the crises these firefighters deal with are all too real, the writers and producers aren’t afraid to poke a little fun now and then. One of their biggest targets is Lowe.
In the first episode, Lowe is holding his skincare line and instructing one of the other characters on how to take care of himself. “Of course, I’m holding my own line,” Lowe laughs. “Do you think I’m an idiot? We’re coming on after the NFC Championship game. There will customers watching.”
“He’s not as cynical as he’s trying to make you think,” interjects executive producer Tim Minear. “Rob’s character goes to Texas with some preconceived thoughts about how Texans are. And I think maybe even the audience, when they meet Jim Parrack’s character, Judd, who is the sole survivor of the tragedy at the beginning, they may have some fixed ideas about who he is and his attitude. And then you meet his wife and its Sierra (McClain, who is Grace Ryder) and she’s an African American. And you see this incredibly healthy, loving relationship. We’re equal opportunity embracers of all regions and people.”
Oscar Buzz – Oscar Nominations coming Monday January 13, 2020
The awards season in Hollywood is upon us, and the Oscar nominations happen Monday at 8: 18 a.m. (ET). ABC President Karey Burke says that once again, there will not be a host for the Academy Awards. It worked for ABC last year, and they decided it was easier and helped the show move along faster.
While it’s impossible to predict which movies and actors may be nominated, we have some ideas of ones who should make the cut.
Best Picture: 1917, Parasite, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Jojo Rabbit, The Irishman, Marriage Story, The Farewell, The Two Popes, Little Women, and possibly Uncut Gems, or US.
Best Actress: Awkwafina (The Farewell), Lupita Nyong’o (US), Cynthia Erivo (Harriet) Saoirse Ronan (Little Women), Charlize Theron (Bombshell), Scarlett Johansson (Marriage Story), and Renee Zellweger (Judy). Any one of these women could take the big prize and would deserve it.
Best Actor: Leonardo DiCaprio (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), Robert De Niro (The Irishman), Adam Driver (Marriage Story), Eddie Murphy (Dolemite is My Name), Christian Bale (Ford v Ferrari), Joaquin Phoenix (Joker), Adam Sandler (Uncut Gems), Antonio Banderas (Pain and Glory), and Taron Egerton (Rocketman). My favorite male performances this year were Daniel Craig in Knives Out, and Michael B. Jordan in Just Mercy. There’s a chance George MacKay may make the list for 1917. That movie is getting a great deal of buzz right now.
Best Supporting Actress: Margot Robbie (Bombshell), Laura Dern (Marriage Story), Scarlett Johansson (Jojo Rabbit), Jennifer Lopez (Hustlers), Zhao Shuzhen (The Farewell), and Nicole Kidman (Bombshell).
Best Supporting Actor: Brad Pitt (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), Joe Pesci (The Irishman), Al Pacino (The Irishman), Tom Hanks (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood), and Willem Dafoe (The Lighthouse).
By Candy Havens
Bryan Stevens (Michael B. Jordan) is a young lawyer who graduates Harvard and has his pick of jobs at big firms across the country. He doesn’t take the easy route and heads down to Alabama to defend wrongly accused prisoners. Most of them were not provided with proper representation.
Local advocate Eva Ansley (Brie Larson) helps him to understand the crisis. One of their first cases is Walter McMillian (Jamie Foxx), who is accused of murdering an 18-year-old-girl. No one is more surprised than Stevens by the amount of evidence that was never presented. Though the journey is tough, he’s determined to help McMillian and others like him.
Based on a true story, this is a well-crafted story with Oscar-worthy performances. It’s an emotional roller coaster that will have you cheering with hope and at the same time so angry by the injustice of it all. I highly recommend this film for everyone over the age of 13.
By Candy Havens
As a kid, director Sam Mendes’ grandfather would share war stories. One was from WWI about two young soldiers who had to deliver a message that would save thousands of lives. Mendes has recreated that story for 1917.
It isn’t the typical big battle war film. It follows the two young soldiers as they face incredible adversity on their journey. There’s a high body count, and sometimes the story wanders a bit. But at its heart are Lance Corporal Schofield (George MacKay) and Lance Corporal Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman). These two young actors carry the film, especially MacKay, who keeps viewers on the edge of their seats, wondering if he will make it. Colin Firth, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Richard Madden have cameos, and it’s incredibly cinematic.
Perhaps the best thing about 1917 is that it shows the reality of war. From climbing over dead bodies to running into enemies around every corner and losing those you care about, this movie shows the horrors of war. Some of the images are so disturbing that I recommend this for 17-year-olds and older.