Movie Maven is powered by Homestead. All images and photographs are property of their owners (although most of them I took!). All links will be given credit. The opinions and reviews given here are solely my own. We are the dreamer of dreams! Copyright 2010 Translated - if you wanna use mah stuff just ask!
Jeri Jacquin aka Movie Maven and Jenise Jacquin aka Film Brat
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Also coming to Bluray!
BATTLE OF LENINGRAD

World War II’s Siege of Leningrad – in which Nazi Germany blockaded the major Soviet city for 28 months – ranks as perhaps the single most brutal and devastating military campaign in modern history. Now, the story of this unspeakable siege is told through the lives of people caught in the middle of it in BATTLE OF LENINGRAD. This monumental production will premiere on digital platforms and also on Blu-ray and DVD, on December 3, 2019. 

We have Blurays up for grabs! Email hellomoviemaven@aol.com with LENINGRAD in the subject line along with your name and address!
A REINDEER'S JOURNEY

Meet Ailo, a newborn reindeer who embarks on an incredible odyssey with the help of his mother.

Narrated by Donald Southerland and set against the frozen majesty of northern Finland, their journey is an uplifting story for the whole family.

We have DVDs up for giveaway! Email hellomoviemaven@aol.com with REINDEERS in the subject along with your name and address!! 

The Big Trip 

Arriving on DVD, Digital, & On Demand January 14 from Lionsgate. From the writers of Madagascar, Vasiliy Rovenskiy and Billy Frolick, The Big Trip features the voice talents of Pauly Shore and Drake Bell. 

From a writer of Madagascar comes this funny, outrageous adventure about a gang of misfit animals on an exciting quest to return a panda cub to its family when a stork accidentally delivers it to the wrong place.

We have copies for giveaway so email hellomoviemaven@aol.com with BIG TRIP in the subject along with your name and address!
Disney Delights with FROZEN II


Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres in time to welcome us all into the holiday season from director Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee and Walt Disney Pictures is the return to Arendelle and FROZEN II.

Anna (Kristen Bell), Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), Olaf (Josh Gad), Sven and Queen Elsa (Indina Menzel) are enjoying life in their city. Since their adventure it is nice for them all to just enjoy each other's company and the people. That is until Elsa starts to hear this strange call that no one else seems to hear.

Putting it out of her mind, the city prepares for a gathering but is suddenly interrupted by strange winds driving the towns people to a safe cliff outside Arendelle. Confused by what is happening, Queen Elsa feels as if the problems are caused by the voice that is calling out to her. Deciding that she must go and find answers, Anna and Kristoff make it clear she isn't going alone.

Loading up into the sled on wheels, Sven takes them to a place that both Anna and Elsa believed was only a tale their father told. A wall of mist blocks them from going forward but when Elsa touches it, a door is opened wide revealing people living on the other side. That's when the girls discover that there is truth to the tale and that there are still more questions to be answered.

With each step they take, more and more of their parents life become clearer. But, there comes a moment when Elsa realizes that she can no longer put Anna's life in danger and takes the final steps of the journey alone were all is revealed - but will it be too late for Arendelle!

Bell as Anna shows a lot more maturity in this film in that she feels even more protective over her sister Queen Elsa. Still googly eyed over love Kristoff, she is back in her happy place. When the wind changes in Arendelle and she sees that something is wrong with Elsa, Anna makes it very clear from the onset that whatever it is they will face it together. Bell brings her pipes back with song, love and a whole lot of fun.

Menzel as Queen Elsa is having a difficult time concentrating on Arendelle because of the mysterious voice. Still feeling a little out of place in life, she feels there is something in the wind that is calling to her. Fight as she may, the voice is too strong to ignore. Menzel brings her voice to belt out more than one song and it is with that voice that we are with Elsa every step of this next journey.

Groff as Kristoff is very happy with his life in Arendelle and even happier with Anna. Now ready to try something a little different, he seems to have great difficulty making it happen. Groff once again brings his charm that oozes through his voice to a character that is strong for those around him yet still has that goofiness I enjoy about this character. Oh let us not forget Sven, he is back and just as hoppingly endearing as ever with his extended family.

Gad as Olaff is still the loveable snowman who loves everyone around him and yet still maintains that bit of innocence that makes him unforgettable. That's what Gad brings to this character, a memorable giggle, a heart that runs over with love for Elsa, Anna, Kristoff and his good buddy Sven. He is the snowman we all wanted growing up, at least I did all those times building a snowman in Chicago. Thanks Gad for bringing my childhood character to life.

Shout out to Hinds for returning as the wise and round stone Pabbie. He gave out the first warning of what was to come for Arendelle and the royal family. Brown as Mattias has his own story to tell of what lies beyond the mist and it is a story worth hearing. 

Other cast include Sterling K. Brown as Mattias, Evan Rachel Wood as Iduna, Jason Ritter as Ryder, Alan Tudyk as Northuldra, Rachel Matthews as Honeymaren, Ciaran Hinds as Pabbie and Martha Plimpton as Yelana, Alfred Molina as Agnarr and Jeremy Sisto as King Runeard. 

FROZEN II brings songs, fun, giggles, color and a re-connection with characters that have stayed with us all since 2013. The song "Let It Go" became an anthem for anyone who wanted to do just that even though my personal favorite was "In Summer" and who doesn't love a loveable dreaming snowman?

It is such a precarious thing to make a sequel to such a highly successful animated film. It doesn't always work and sometimes it works badly. Some of it might be because I always feel slightly cheated by sequels like the idea is a second thought thrown on a screen hoping it will stick with viewers.

This film is not that in the slightest. What FROZEN II brings is a delightful return to embraced characters that doesn't feel like six years has even passed. It is a visually stunning feast for the eyes with rich colors which are completely dazzling. The story may have a few hiccups but seriously, let it go (and I said that).

The entire cast returns (which always is a great thing) with 8 new songs that are as powerful as the original film. Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez returned to write the new songs for the film. Composer Christophe Beck also returned to bring his magic to the score.

Am I being extremely vague in my description of the film…well, yes! I am hardly about to tell every detail of the film because it's FROZEN II and no one, and I mean no one has the right to ruin it. This is a film about family and community, wanting to understand where we come from, learning who we are and what we are made of, protecting those we love and, of course, loving each other unconditionally.

Disney has been on a very cool winning streak with their animated films and FROZEN II seals the 2019 deal for them. The launch of Disney+ this week means that in a few months you can FROZEN and FROZEN II all year long which I know my granddaughter intends to do. 

FROZEN II is a time for families to have a wonderful holiday beginning together. Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, Sven and Olaf are part of our own families now and to spend 104 minutes together feels like home in many ways. In the theatre we embrace our children and grandchildren as the story unfolds because we share a connection with our friends on the screen. We understand the struggles, the love, friendship and caring and that makes FROZEN II just about everything we need in family time.

In the end - they are going into the unknown!

AWAY is Visually Stunning and Artfully Told


Jeri Jacquin

Wanting to experience something truly spectacular? Coming from animator Gints Zilbalodis and Subliminal Films is the upcoming film AWAY.

A young boy finds himself hanging from a tree in the desert still attached to his parachute when he sees a huge dark figure coming towards him. In moments he feels enveloped by something he doesn't understand and manages to break free of it. Running away towards the mountains he is followed slowly by the figure but when he crosses under a half round sculpture, the figure stops outside of it.

The boy decides to continue away from the figure into a beautiful green, lush and relaxing forest. Discovering fresh water he revives himself from the desert and even finds fruit. He also finds a small bird who is unable to fly and grateful for any morsels the boy cares to share. 

Exploring further he discovers a motorcycle and teaches himself to ride, a backpack that holds the key to where he needs to go and the figure still standing outside the half round sculpture. To his surprise he also finds something in the caves that motivates him to leave even more. Loading up and preparing, the boy knows that he has to be swift to get away from the figure.

Food, water and a feathered passenger flies past and begins to follow the other half round sculptures that are the visual road to where he needs to be. Along the way the boy finds challenges, nature and the ability to survive more than he ever thought possible. 

It is a journey of wonder to be sure!

Writer/director Zilbalodis is responsible for such short films as Aqua (2012), Priorities (2014), Followers (2014), Inaudible (2015) and Oasis (2017), the last of which was developed further into the feature version of AWAY. He worked on AWAY for over three years single handedly before it premiered in 2019 in such festivals as Annecy, Fantasia, Animafest, Shanghai, Anima Mundi, Strasbourg, Sitges and Tokyo. 

In the three years it took Zilbalodis to bring AWAY to the screen let me say that every single solitary moment of that time is breathtaking to behold. The most amazing part of it is that not a single word is spoken, not - a - single -word! It doesn't need any to understand everything that is happening. In fact, had I heard a word I honestly believe I would have been taken out of the spell I was completely under.

There are so many things to take away from this film (no pun intended) but for me it was a combination of the will to take life into your own hands, respect fear but don't let it rule you, look at the stunning beauty around you, explore everything even if you can only do it in your own back yard and, above all, embrace the little feathery things in this life because they won't be around forever.

I know that might seem too simplistic of a list but that's just my personal take. Let's talk about the animation because even though I am a huge animation film fan, this is so much more than that. I loved the foliage, the birds, lake, elephants, elements and the cats. I loved the colors, the imagery, the voids and everything in between.

To be honest I wasn't sure what I would be seeing with this film but something tremendous drew me to it and whatever that something was - I thank it from the bottom of my film loving heart. Sharing every emotion with the boy, catching my breath here and there, cheering him on and yet a little sad when it was over - that is what AWAY did to me and for me.

The music and sounds are everything to the imagery we are shown on the screen and it is nothing short of stellar and spectacular. A triumph of life with whimsy and hope, it is a powerful film that I will see again and again.

In the end - he is going home!

Disney+ Rolls Out its First Hit with THE MANDALORIAN


Jeri Jacquin


Currently on the new streaming service Disney+ from characters based on George Lucas' STAR WARS and creator Jon Favreau is a continuing story in the galaxy far, far away with THE MANDALORIAN.

It has been five years since the Galactic Empire's defeat and life has gone on. For a Mandalorian bounty hunter (Pedro Pascal) it means working hard for very little. When the need for a hunter slows down, there is one job that needs doing and Greef Karga (Carl Weathers) offers it up with what seems a veil of mystery.

The job is to go to Arvala-7 and find the bounty who happens to be fifty years old. Dr. Pershing (Omid Abtahi) makes it very clear that the bounty be brought back alive. The Mandalorian doesn't seem to care in the slightest as long as he can change a bar of Beskar into armorer.

Crashing onto Arvala-7, the Mandalorian is attacked by large creatures called Blurgg's and is saved by Kuiil (Nick Nolte) who wants only one thing in return. Kuill wants those who have invaded his planet to be removed so peace will return, oh, and the Blurgg! Taking him to the place where bounty hunters have gone previously, a quick showdown ensues with the help of a IG-11 droid. Finding the bounty, The Mandalorian isn't going to let anyone get near him.

A fifty year old infant is now in his hands but there are other mercenaries who want the kid. Trying to get away quickly, The Mandalorian discovers his ship has been stripped down by Jawas. Kuiil knows how to get it all back and with his help, plus a trip to get an egg, provides the parts to get off the ground again.

Pascal as The Mandalorian has already thrilled audiences in only two episodes. There is a mystery behind the helmet that he (so far) hasn't made an attempt to remove. This character obviously has a story to tell about his people, the Beskar, how he became a bounty hunter and why he is keeping his bounty safer than expected. Pascal seemed to have a steep road ahead of him but I'm thinking it's leveled off a lot more since the first episode. I can't wait to see what comes next.

Weather as Greef is a business man and his business is bounties. It is clear he has no problem stiffing The Mandalorian for his work but I always say what goes around comes around so Greef better be prepared. Nice to see Weathers again! Abhati as Dr. Pershing has me creeped out in that he is going to be the guy who wants to do things that is going to upset everyone. Nothing wrong with playing a bad guy as long as you do it extremely well.

Nolte as Kuiil is a character that has a lot of emotions but keeps them in check. Then again if Nick Nolte says, "I have spoken" you tend to believe him. I am hoping that we see more of this character because he certainly has something to offer.

Other cast include Werner Herzog as The Client, Taika Waititi as IG-11, Gina Carano as Cara Dune, Giancarlo Esposito as Moff Gideon with Horatio Sanz as Mythrol, Ming-Na Wen as Fennec Shand, and Julia Jones as Omera.

It was announced in 2018 that Jon Favreau would serve as a writer and executive producer of the series. Adding to that list is Dave Filoni, Colin Wilson, and Kathleen Kennedy to complete the producers list. When it comes to directors the line includes Taika Waititi, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rick Famuyiwa and Deborah Chow.

With that line up and the success of Disney+ and only two episodes airing to a hungry Star Wars audience, it is no surprise that the green light has been given to the second season. To be honest I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about the film having been disappointed by a few films in the Star Wars franchise.

That being said, by the end of the first episode I was squealing with delight and thrilled that the second episode wasn't so far behind. Telling anyone who will listen to watch THE MANDALORIAN immediately is probably wearing my friends out. It's true though, this is going to be a series that has such potential and the main reason is that it feels like Star Wars, and that above all is what will keep me coming back each week. 

This is out of the park for Disney+ in that they have everything Star Wars on their streaming service so while I'm introducing my granddaughter to the Star Wars saga, I can enjoy the continuation of that world. Mainly because the kid in me is totally geeking out over THE MANDALORIAN!

Thanks Disney+!
VIKINGS Sets to Return in December


Jeri Jacquin

Coming to The History Channel on December 4th is the long awaited return of one of the channels most stunning and epic series to date is VIKINGS.

The last season ended with a battle between Ivar the Boneless (Alex Hogh Andersen) and brother Bjorn Ironside (Alexander Ludwig). Now Ivar has escaped with his life and Bjorn has taken the throne of Kattegat. Immediately the new king lets his people know that he wants to expand the city becoming an important route for trade. This will help all the people of Kattegat prosper.

On the road, Ivar travels on The Silk Road discovering things he didn't know existed. While on the road he is captured and taken to the Russian leader and proclaimed old Viking Kievan Rus Prince Oleg (Danila Kozlovsky). Discovering he has Ivar the Boneless, the Prince makes it clear from the onset that he is more merciless than Ivar ever thought he was. When the Prince asks what it is that Ivar wants, the name Kattegat is uttered and Ivar is assured that his vengeance will come but first, the royal has his own family problems to deal with.

In Kattegat, Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick) tells Bjorn that she no longer wants to be a figurehead of his reign. Instead, she is tired and wants nothing more than to go back to where she had a life with Ragnar and farm in peace leaving the life of a shield-maiden in the past. The women of the village come to see the famous Lagertha and tells her that most of the men have been killed in wars and attacks. The attacks aren't over as a new, formidable and the recognizable leader wants nothing more than to hurt everyone in his path and he has Lagertha in his sights. 

In Kiev, Ivar is beginning to understand what it is that motivates Oleg and his viciousness. Proving with ease that the Prince will destroy anyone who gets in his way, he takes young nephew Igor to raise. Ivar makes slow moves in order to place himself in a position that allows him to outwardly seem afraid but behind those eyes is a game that the Prince might not be prepared to play.

In Kattegat, Bjorn receives a message of help from a prior enemy and feels the need to do the right thing. Before leaving, he asks about Floki and what has happened to him. Not getting the answer he wants, Bjorn makes it clear that he will discover the truth and if anything has happened to Floki, someone will be held accountable. Ubbe (Jordan Patrick Smith) and Torvi (Georgia Hirst) are sent to the place now called Iceland to find answers. 

The message of help turns out to be something totally different as Bjorn, Harald (Peter Franzen) and Olaf come to a meeting of the minds and the suggestion that a vote be taken to find a King of Norway. Olaf believes that the ruler should be Bjorn Ironside but there are others who might have a different opinion. 

What happens at that vote might change everything as the leaders know it.

Ludwig as Bjorn Ironside has taken the helm of Kattegat just as his father Ragnar (Travis Fimmel) did in the Vikings series. From the beginning, Ludwig has always been in the shadows as we have watched him grow into a storyline that is harsh but the reality of history in the Dark Ages. The character of Bjorn has grown slow and steady rising further into the storyline and Ludwig has given us every reason to remain curious as to how his story will end. The character of Bjorn tries everything possible to not be like the leaders that have gone before, including his father, mistakes are made but Ludwig's Bjorn leans quickly.

Winnick as Lagertha has been through the wringer and back again. Starting as a farmer with husband Ragnar, becoming Queen, not Queen and then Queen somewhere else and back to Kattegat taking out enemies along the way has just worn this lady out. Winnick has returned season after season giving her character strength, courage and eventually the ability to weed out those who are trying to destroy her. In all of this she has kept her sense of family, even children that are Ragnar's she has tried to embrace.  

Andersen as Ivar continues to intrigue audiences with the duality of his insane brutality and moments where we all think he might have a chance to be human after all. He believes himself to be a god but certainly discovers that shouting it from the rooftops brings about unsavory characters who don't care about his divinity. Andersen continues to surprise with his performance and with this final season I am truly interested where this character will be taken.

Franzen as Harald is another Viking who has ideas of his own about how things should be done and who should do them. Always with the slight of hand in his planning I am keeping an eye on him. Smith and Hirst are the couple who are trying to help find answers in Floki's Iceland. That is a part of the storyline that I am so interested in and partly because I think Floki has been through just as much as the Lothbrok line.

Shout out to Marco llso as Hvitserk for what he is about to put everyone through!

This historical drama created by Michael Hirst began with the story of Norse hero Ragnar Lothbrok. We have seen almost everything possible with love, family, deception, intrigue and battles that hold nothing back. This is the final season and Viking fans, like myself, know that all good things come to an end but we aren't happy about it at all. 

In just the first few episodes, the stage is set for changes that all of this has been leading up to. The cast is doing a wonderful job of taking us on this final leg of the journey. 

Hirst created another of my favorite shows from Showtime with The Tudors followed with Camelot for Starz. Back to Showtime for the series The Borgias and MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS with Saoirse Ronan, ELIZABETH and ELIZABETH: The Golden Age. Hirst has such an amazing ability to bring a richness to the stories he tells but some outstanding actors to bring it all to the screen.

The History Channel brings Vikings back on December 4th so get through turkey day safely because once you are back at Kattegat, the ride will have begun and there is no turning back. Everything that we have come to embrace about each character is going to keep us coming back until the very last scene.

As salve to our open wound, it has been announced that Hirst is creating a series called Vikings: Vahalla that will be seen on Netflix. Said to be set one hundred years later there will be a new group of famous Vikings and their fight for survival in an ever-changing world.

Even with that, we all can agree that our excitement about Vikings came from Ragnar Lothbrok and all the intrigue that followed. Prepare to see how it all plays out with the return of Vikings on the History Channel December 4th!

HUSTLERS

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment is bringing a little HUSTLE to Bluray/DVD and Digital Code. The awesome news is that we have a Bluray Combo pack up for grabs! So, email hellomoviemaven@aol.com with HUSTLERS in the subject line along with your name and address and we will choose a winner. 

A REINDEER'S JOURNEY is Full of Heart


Jeri Jacquin

Coming to DVD from writer/director Guillaume Maidatchevsky and Screen Media comes the fascinating story of Ailo from birth onward with Donald Sutherland narrating A REINDEER'S JOURNEY.

In Lapland in Finland, a young reindeer named Ailo is born in the cold but up on his feet because he lives in a world that doesn't let you wobble long. His Mom is on her own to raise her baby and get him strong enough to be able to join the herd once again. Young Ailo begins to see the world he lives in with the ever present danger, species different from himself and growing into a young reindeer with his own destiny.

A REINDEER'S JOURNEY is just an absolute delight that captured my four-year-old granddaughters attention immediately. She couldn't take her eyes off the young reindeer, the forest, snow and other animals. Yet, she wasn't the only on delighted by what was on the screen.

I've always been an avid watcher of stories about the animals that live in our world but, and perhaps it's because it is the holiday season, watching baby Ailo just made my heart melt more. Adorable from birth, watching his bond with his mother and be so curious about the world around him is everything. 

The other animals from the fox, bunny, badger, white owl and the very hyperactive ermine (it is a very white, beautiful and hilarious weasel) are equally stunning to see in their own environment. This is the world these beautiful animals live in and it is almost as if watching is a weird encroachment on their privacy but I thank them for sharing.

Screen Media Ventures, a Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment acquires the rights to high quality, independent television series and feature films for the US and Canada. Screen Media has a library of over 1,500 television series and motion pictures and is one of the largest independent suppliers of high-quality tv series and motion pictures to US and international broadcast markets, cable networks, home video outlets and a new media venues. For more information please visit www.screenmedia.net.

A REINDEER'S JOURNEY has the Bonus Feature of Making of A REINDEER'S JOURNEY. For more information please visit www.areindeersjourney.com. 

This is the type of film that is absolutely made for families to watch together. It is a great way to bring everyone to the sofa and cuddle up watching the story of Ailo. It is a story of his struggles to survive the land he lives in, learn to be a reindeer and know when it is time to leave to begin a life all his own. 

Surrounded by stunning cinematography of a location I could only dream of visiting in person, that's what filmmaking like this does. I think I'll have to add Finland to my list of places to visit. Listening to the calming and entertaining voice of Donald Sutherland is just an added bonus that certainly pleased me. He is a treasure in his own right.

In the end - every day is a new adventure!

THE SIMPSONS: The Nineteenth Season Going Strong on 



Jeri Jacquin

Coming to DVD from its 19th (yes I said 19th) season is one of the most hilarious animated series on television from creator Matt Groening and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment with THE SIMPSONS: The Nineteenth Season.

The Simpsons had a very humble beginning in 1987 as a short on the equally hilarious Fox series with Tracey Ullman Show. It jumped from a half hour Christmas special in 1989 and regularly on 1990. For those of us who hate age-math, just know that in those 19 years all the laugh lines we have are 95% caused by this animated family we have come to embrace as our own.

Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and baby Maggie along with Grampa Simpson introduced us to characters that most of us could pin point as someone in our own. Who could realize that 19 seasons later, these characters would still be with us and, more importantly, still going strong with no signs of stopping (which those of us who love to laugh truly appreciate!)

The season begins with Homer being very upset that he isn't rich after saving boss Burns from dying. It takes only one flight on a jet with an awesome dinner to feed his already insecure insecurities. Next, Homer becomes an opera singer after an accident but he can only do it lying down!

Louie is a tow-truck driver who becomes friends with Homer and gives him a tour of the tow-truck life. Maggie has become too attached to Marge so she thinks a school to learn independence might not have been the best idea. Marge decides to be friends with a guy in prison and it doesn't turn out exactly how she planned. 

Going into Halloween, the Simpsons do it up right with parodies of movies and their take E.T. GOES HOME with Bart finding alien Kodos, MR. & MRS. SMITH as Homer and Marge team up to assassinate Kent Brockman, and HECK HOUSE with Ned Flanders asking God for bad powers and the ability to teach about the seven deadly sins. 

Homer is in deep do-do when not knowing the color of his wife's eyes while Bart's popularity is threatened when Millhouse takes over with a life without parents. Marge decides the world needs a gym for regular sized women and Homer's insecurities lead him to a little knife work from the local plastic surgeon.

Sideshow Bob still has it in for the family Simpson but it all goes a slide side-ways when Bart makes it impossible for Bob to get what he needs to survive. Of course this turns everyone against Bart. Homer is dealing with no memory and Marge, Bart, Maggie and Lisa seems to be missing along with his memory. Then Homer sets off election mayhem with a fast-food burndown, Ralph Wiggum being a joke and then it turns out not to be so funny after all.

Homer reminisces about being a musician big giving it up for Marge and all because he found her diploma. Valentine's Day turns into a little bit of a ride down famous couple lane when Homer and Marge become Bonnie and Clyde, Lady and the Tramp along with Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen. Bart has to rethink hid pranks when realizing that someone might be causing them all to go wrong.

Marge thinks Homer may be cheating so makes a call to a reality show to track him down and get answers. Lisa and Bart are fearing they may be sent to the big house for murder! Chazz Busby accepts Lisa into his ballet school and her dancing feet get better with a strange odor around. 

Mayor Quimby is after anyone late on their taxes and sultry seductress Lurleen Lumpkin is back and Marge is not in a forgiving mood. When Bart's 4-H Club friend Lou is being considered for hamburger, he tries to find a way to keep her - forever! Making a family film turns big time for Lisa as they all head to the Sundance film festival where her work is adored. Homer's Mom Mona is back and informs her son she is done with protesting but her final act turns out to be more of a protest than ever.

Finally, Lisa is Krusty the Clown's newest replacement and Sideshow Mel tells that story. Bart and Homer have other fun plans deciding to be the ones to find the Kissing Lincolns penny.

Special guests include Steve Buscemi, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Ted Nugent, Matt Dillon, Stephen Colbert, Maya Rudolph, Placido Domingo, Lionel Richie, Maurice LaMarche, Alan Moore, Jack Black, Dan Clowes, Kelsey Grammer, Keith Olbermann, David Hyde Pierce, John Mahoney, Jon Stewart, Dan Rather, Weird Al Yankovic, Kurt Loder, Terry Gross, Topher Grace, The Dixie Chicks, Beverly D'Angelo, Zooey Deschanel, John C. Reilly, Jim Jarmusch, Drew Carey, Lance Armstrong and Glenn Close. 

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment brings award-winning global product and new entertainment to DVD, Bluray, and Digital HD. There amazing collection offers fans an opportunity to expand their own home libraries with the best films. To discover what other titles they have please visit www.fox.com.

The DVD includes the Special Features of 4-Disc Set Containing The Complete Nineteenth Season With All 20 Episodes listed below, "A Plea for Santy" by Matt Groening, Special Language Feature, Thank You Audio Commentary on Every Single Episode with Writers, Actors and Directors. 

Episodes include He Loves to Fly and He D'ohs, The Homer of Seville, Midnight Towboy, I Don't Wanna Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Treehouse of Horror XVIII, Little Orphan Millie, Husbands and Knives, Funeral for a Friend, Eternal Moonshine of the Simpson Mind, E Pluribus Wiggum, That '90s Show, Love Springfieldian Style, The Debarted, Dian "N" for Nerder, Smoke on the Daughter, Papa Don't Leech, Apocalypse Cow, Any Given Sundance, Mona Leaves-a, and All About Lisa.

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment brings award-winning global product and new entertainment to DVD, Bluray, and Digital HD. There amazing collection offers fans an opportunity to expand their own home libraries with the best films. To discover what other titles they have please visit www.fox.com.

Creator Groening has had an amazing career as a cartoonist, writer, producer, animator and, in many cases added his own voice to The Simpsons. His work has brought home a slew of awards including Primetime Emmy(s) Award(s) for Outstanding Animation as well as Outstanding Character Voice-Over, Outstanding Achievement in Animation, Outstanding Original Music, Kids' Choice Award for Favorite Cartoon and TV Show, People's Choice Award for Favorite New TV Comedy and Favorite TV Family and Favorite Animated TV Show, NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Writing, Teen Choice Award, TCA Award, TCA Heritage Award, Satellite Award, British Comedy Award, GLAAD Media Award and Peabody Award. Many of these awards have been won several times over.

That all being said and kudos by the way, The Simpsons have been in my home from the very beginning. It has affected our humor in a major way and brought us into the world of merchandising buy outs. My sons had to have Bart Simpson tee-shirts, what can I say. The show was constantly on in our house and anytime there was a marathon you could find this family front and center with snacks and pajamas at the ready.

The amazing thing about The Simpsons is that we all feel like they are a part of us in a way that no other animated series ever has. We know them inside and out and still we tune in and laugh ourselves into a tizzy. We know Homer is just a walking disaster area, we know Marge is a saint in the way she deals with her family even if she makes a mistake a time or two, we know Lisa won't ever let herself be put in a box with labels, and we know Maggie is never going to give us more than the smacking sound of her pacifier.

What we know even more is that Bart is always going to be Bart and in a way gives us all hope to be the best naughty versions of ourselves. He is the prankster we all strive to be and has given us over the years one liners that are still in use 19 seasons later. That's something to be awesomely proud of.

Watching THE SIMPSONS: The Complete Nineteenth Season together with my family is a continual journey for our animated friends and this family is thrilled to be a part of seeing it again and again. It is equally pretty cool to have it now as part of our home entertainment library in the "frikken awesome animated stuff" section. 

So prepare for the next season by binging on the iconic 19th season with Homer, Marge, Lisa, Bart, Maggie and the rest of the Springvillians because their home is our home.

In the end - do'h!

READY OR NOT Because it's Back on Bluray!

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to Bluray and Digital from directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment comes the usual lethal family drama in READY OR NOT.

It is the happiest day of Grace's (Samara Weaving) life as she is marrying Alex Le Domas (Mark O'Brien). Even as he uses humor to warn about the Le Domas family, Grace is just happy to finally be part of one.

After the wedding, Grace and Alex take a few moments for each other but are interrupted by the eerie Aunt Helene (Nicky Guadagni). She announces that the family is gathering wanting Grace and Alex to join them.

Surrounding the Le Domas table are Alex's brother Daniel (Adam Brody), his wife Charity (Elyse Levesque), mother Becky (Andi MacDowell), father Tony (Henry Czerny), sister Emilie (Melanie Scrofano), and husband Fitch (Kristian Bruun).

Tony announces that every time a new person comes into the family, they spend the first evening playing a game as a welcome. All Grace has to do is pick a card from a box which seems simple enough to her. The card 'hide and seek' is drawn and the entire family becomes silent and Alex gets pale.

Going along to get along Grace is given a head start and once gone the rest of the family start getting ready – by arming up. You see, the Le Domas family believes that if they don't seek Grace, something horrible will happen to the family.

Alex sneaks away to find Grace and finally fesses up as to what is happening. Grace is about to taken on a whole family proving she can take whatever nonsense they dish out, including crazy butler Stevens (John Ralston). The in-laws are on the hunt and they aren't about to stop!

Just another family get-together that goes crazy till dawn!

Weaving as Grace is absolutely fantastic and I loved every minute she was on screen. To go from a happy bride to Rambo-ette was very, very cool. I found myself sharing my feelings about her playing this role with lots of shouting and 'you go girl!' and cheering. Weaving says, "We had an amazing cast to pull this off and everything just fell into place". She made a grand entrance in white and she made an even grander exit leaving us all wanting more so that's exactly falling into place!

O'Brien as Alex marries Grace knowing full well what is about to happen. I'm was not sure how I felt about him throughout the film. I mean your fiancé knows his family is crazy but waits till after the 'I do' to say something? Every bride's worst fear right? Brody as brother Daniel has his own issues with the family but he'd rather go numb with alcohol than deal with any of it.

Czerny as Tony is just plain nutty but made me laugh a LOT. He wants to keep the family together and doesn't mind doing it with a shotgun. Bruun as Fitch just goes along to get along because being married to Emilie means happy crazy life-happy crazy wife! mother Becky (Andi MacDowell),

Scrofano as Emilie is just a little to tender to do what her family thinks must be done and Levesque as Charity doesn't have a problem with it what so ever. Guadagni as Aunt Helene is absolutely priceless and she cracked me up repeatedly even though I'm sure she was meant to scare me instead. Now Ralston as Stevens scared me more – well done sir!

MacDowell as mom Becky just stuns in this role. She is happy to have her son back home and thanks Grace for doing it. Hard to believe when she has a weapon in her hand right? Talking about the making of the film she says, "It's scary to think how everyone was perfectly cast in the film, especially with the role I play. I had a lot of fun being cast in this type of role because I've played so many sweet characters and I'm not sweet". She about sums it up perfectly!

Other cast include Liam MacDonald as Georgie, Ethan Tavares as Gabe, Hanneke Talbot as Clara, Celine Tsai as Tina and Daniela Barbosa as Dora.

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment brings award-winning global product and new entertainment to DVD, Bluray, and Digital HD. There amazing collection offers fans an opportunity to expand their own home libraries with the best films. To discover what other titles they have please visit www.fox.com.

The Bluray Special Features include Let the Games Begin: The Making of READY OR NOT, Gag Reel, Audio Commentary by Radio Silence and Samara Weaving and Gallery. 

READY OR NOT is a fabulous film filled with terror and laughs which, if you think about it, is an odd combination. That's what makes the film a must-see for me because of the combination of terror and laughs. I mean yes it has violence but it's by a bunch of people who are just completely out of their minds.

I love the cinematography, costuming and the interesting choices of weapons (like Clue with Fitch-in-the-library-with-a-crossbow feel to it). The story behind the family gathering is pretty interesting as well because it is never let on whether it is true or not – until it is.

Prepare to have a good time because you might take a good look around at your own clan and not complain so much about your own family ever again.

In the end – let the game begin!


HUSTLERS Makes Their Own Rules on Bluray


Jeri Jacquin

Coming to 4K Ultra HD, Bluray/DVD and Digital from director Lorene Scafaria and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment comes a group of woman who take on Wall Street as their own HUSTLERS.

Destiny (Constance Wu) is a young woman who just wants to take care of her grandmother and make ends meet. Her first night working as a stripper she sees that this is not going to be as easy as she thought. Watching the stage she sees Ramona (Jennifer Lopez) dance and walk off stage with more money than she has ever seen in on night.

Ramona takes a liking to Destiny and shows her some moves that might help her. The other girls Tracey (Trace Lysette), Star (Marcy Richardson), Mercedes (Keke Palmer), Annabelle (Lili Reinhardt) and Diamond (Cardi B). Watching and listening to them all Destiny begins to make money. Dancing with Ramona she makes even more money from Wall Street clients and her life begins to change.

Taking care of Grandma, getting an apartment and even going back to school become her top priorities. The girls are all reveling in the money they are making with gifts to each other and upgrading how they are living. That is all about to change as 2008 strikes like a tornado when Wall Street is hit and the money dries up. All the girls scatter and Destiny is now in a shaky relationship with a baby.

Unable to find work anywhere else, Destiny returns to the strip clubs to discover that a new breed of dancers have taken over. She is thrilled to see Ramona and the two women come up with a plan to get the money flowing once again. Wanting to get the money that's left from the Wall Street clients, they start their own business away from the club and everyone is back in the money.

But all good things come to an end, even friendships when decisions are being made that Destiny is not happy about. Now what they have been doing are stories waiting to be told.

Lopez as Ramona is a powerful teacher for her young learner. Raising a daughter of her own she understands the frustration of making it in the business. Taking Destiny under her wing is just the thing to motivate her to move even further up the pole. Lopez makes sure that she looks good and absolutely does in this role as the big sister to the stripper family. There is a scene between herself and another recognizable face that is entertaining. 

Wu as Destiny is struggling to take care of her Grandmother and make a life for herself. Turning to dancing isn't as easy as she thought. Watching the other dancers walk away with tons of cash, she wants to learn how to do the very same. Her relationship with Ramona is special to her and not just because the 'big sister' teachers her how to make money but because someone seems to care about her. Wu starts out sweet and remains so throughout the film but also becomes jaded along the way.

Lysette, Richardson, Reinhardt and Palmer seem to just be enjoying themselves in the film but then again that's the point of the story. They were all enjoying the money and the camaraderie which made their lives easier. Cardi B had no problem taking the stage being no stranger from the stripper life. She actually was a stripper in her younger days so this role isn't much of a stretch but still fun. 

Other cast include Vanessa Aspillaga as Manuela, Jay Oakerson as DJ, G-Eazy as Johnny, Emma Batiz as 12-year-old Juliet, Mette Towley as Justice, Julia Stiles as Elizabeth and Mercedes Ruehl as Mother.

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment has just added an amazing film to their library and making it available for us to all experience and re-experience in our own home theaters. There are film of every genre available from scary to drama to family films. For more of what they have to offer please visit www.uphe.com.

STX Films and Entertainment is a global next-generation company who has taken on the mission to unlock the value of direct connection stars have with their fans through the development, production and distribution of film, television, VR, digital video, music and live entertainment content. It is the industry leader in transforming beyond traditional platform-driven content to creating talent-driven enterprises. To experience more please visit www.stxfilms.com.

HUSTLERS Bonus Features include a Feature Commentary with Director Lorene Scafaria.

This is a mixture of fun, sexy, fun and mischievous all wrapped up in a little bit of illegality. Look, it is not rocket science to figure out that the life of a stripper isn't an easy one. There are those who actually dance because they have family to take care of or are desperate to work just to survive. HUSTLERS puts all these options out on the table with no judgement of one another so they will get none here.

That being said, Ramona and Destiny are two women who didn't want to be tied down to a club where the money they make is being sucked up by the men who run the club. Pay outs are deep the more money you make and these two characters are done with that happening. I give them props for making sure that more of what they earn stays in their pockets.

These characters are feisty and smart which kept me interested in how they were constantly staying afloat. The film is inspired by journalist Jessica Pressler's 2015 viral New York Magazine article The Hustlers at Scores.  

In the end - this is inspired by a true story!


THE REPORT Outs Abuse


Jeri Jacquin

Currently on Amazon Prime Video from writer/director Scott Z. Burns, Unbranded Pictures and Amazon Studios is a story of what happened to detainees after 9-11 because of THE REPORT.

Daniel Jones (Adam Driver) is a staffer for California Democrat Senator Dianne Feinstein (Annette Benning). Chairing the senate Select Committee on Intelligence, she asks Jones to investigate the CIA. Specifically she wants to know about the terror suspects being detained after 9-11. 

Putting a team together in a high security location that is practically a vault, Jones is joined by April (Sarah Goldberg) and Julian (Lucas Dixon) pouring through thousands of documents. From the beginning Jones is appalled by what they are finding. The room walls begin to fill up with photos of detainees and their connection to Al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden and the 9-11 attacks.

What they also discover is the beginnings of the program of torturing also called EITs (Enhanced Interrogation Techniques), like water boarding, in order to get what they feel is vital information about on-going plans or future plans for attacks. It becomes clear to Jones and Feinstein that no one is willing to take responsibility although there is evidence. In particular is evidence of a Panetta Review that Jones is keeping to himself.

During a confirmation hearing of Caroline Krass, Senator Mark Udall (Scott Shephard) let it be known that the Panetta Review believed in the accuracy of the study. That opens pandora's box as Feinstein is under the gun and Jones is being accused of hacking. Feeling as if the walls are closing in, Jones is forced to make a choice about whether it is time to be a whistleblower or allow the process to have its day.

Believing in everything they have been working on for over six years, Jones and Feinstein put it on the line knowing that once the information is out, they have done their job. The frustration lay in those who would do anything to cover up what has happened and from the Panetta Report from coming out.

Driver as Jones is about as intense as a person could be given his profession. Being asked to head the investigation into the timeline of events and who knew what, when and is responsible for approving the EITs. Like a dog with a bone, Driver gives his character the fortitude to question everyone who is trying to double talk their way out of responsibility. Told not to make anything about his investigation personal, it is clear that personal is the way it needed to be taken in order to get accountability. It is clear Driver can give intensity (hellooooo…Kylo Ren!) and it is that characteristic that gets the viewer into the game asking questions of their own.

Benning as Feinstein wants answers to the questions that seem to be consistently deflected by her colleagues. With Jones at the helm she finds an ally who isn't going stop until they get to the root of it all. With ever meeting, ever hearing and every telephone call to the White House, she gets closer to calling the wide net bluff of the misrepresentation of what actually happened. 

Shout out to Jon Hamm who plays Denis McDonough. First introduced in the beginning of the film meeting Jones for a job, I'm sure the McConough wished he had taken more of an interested in his job applicant! Trying to stay one step ahead of everything Jones finds, it is Hamm's character that always seems to be dodging bullets. 

This film has a huge, and I mean huge cast and I want to make sure they all get a mention: Corey Stoll as Cyrus Clifford, Linda Powell as Marcy Morris, John Rothman as Senator Whitehouse, Victor Slezak as Senator Rockefeller, Guy Boyd as Senator Chambliss, Alexander Chaplin as Sean Murphy, Joanne Tucker as Gretchen, Maura Tierney as Bernadette, Michael C. Hall as Thomas Eastman, Ian Blackman as Cofer Black, Dominic Fumusa as George Tenet, Fajer Al-Kaisi as Ali Soufan, Douglas Hodge as James Mitchell, T. Ryder Smith as Bruce Jessen, Carlos Gomez as Jose Rodriguez, Tim Nelson as Raymond Nathan, Ted Levine as John Brennan, and Noah Bean as Senator Heinrich.

Also included in archival footage are Dick Cheney, John Kerry, Rachel Maddow, Donald Rumsfeld, John McCain and former President Barack Obama. 

Amazon Prime offers television shows and original content included in its Amazon Prime subscription. Original programs such as CARNIVAL ROW, THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE, and THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL are hit shows. Coming soon is the next series with GOLIATH starring Billy Bob Thornton and it promises to another successful and intense series. 

THE REPORT is an in-depth look at what it takes for truth to surface. Driver's portrayal of Daniel Jones helps us understand the connections and how the departments of the government don't work together very well. What is actually a stand out statement is when Jones sees a lawyer Cyrus Clifford and is told he doesn't have a legal problem, he has a sunlight problem - meaning transparency. 

That is a stunning way to put it and that statement caused me to listen even more to the story and especially pay attention to the details. So much so that I fell for every minute hook, line and actor. Each of them does an outstanding job with such a difficult subject matter. Keeping the intensity going (as if Driver wasn't enough!) throughout the film just adds layer upon layer of depth and, I loved it!

In the end - truth matters! 

Netflix Releases THE IRISHMAN


Jeri Jacquin

Currently on Netflix from director Martin Scorsese is the highly anticipated film streaming with THE IRISHMAN.

Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro) served in World War II and is now a truck driver trying to take care of his family in 1950's Philadelphia. When is truck breaks down, he meets Russell Bufalino (Joe Pesci) who seems to know how to fix it. Wanting to show his appreciation, Frank offers but Russell turns him down and both go on their way.

Selling a few things to a local crime family, he is accused of theft and lawyer Bill Bufalino (Ray Romano) convinces a judge that he is innocent. Bufalino introduces Frank to his cousin - Russel Bufalino and immediately he begins to work for Russell. As the head of the Scranton crime family, Russell is privvy to almost everything going on and becomes close friends with Frank. Their friendship starts real money coming to Frank and his family.

Jimmy Hoffa is the president of the Teamsters and an acquaintance of Russells'. Sending Frank over to help Hoffa means dealing with Anthony "Pro" Provenzano (Stephen Graham) who is causing trouble. If that isn't hard enough, Hoffa is having problems with the government and blames the Kennedys for all his difficulties. Bringing Frank aboard, Hoffa starts to feel as if there is at least one person he can trust. 

When Robert Kennedy is named Attorney General, Hoffa can't control his anger knowing that the President's brother is going to do anything possible to bring him down. Eventually that is exactly what happens and while in prison, Frank goes back to work for Russell and the Teamsters is being run by Frank Fitzsimmons. 

While in prison, Hoffa gets into a scuffle with Provenzano when insults are exchanged. Not realizing that this is a bad idea, Frank consistently tries to smooth their beef over with no luck. In 1971, President Nixon pardon's Jimmy Hoffa but he can't get back in with the Teamsters for a while. 

He may not be able to jump back in the ring but certainly make plans to do it and that's exactly what Hoffa does. Being as loud as everyone remembers him to be, Russell starts getting heat from the others that Hoffa is becoming a problem. Turning to Frank's friendship with Hoffa, they ask him to convey that Hoffa needs to curtail the rhetoric. Well that couldn't have had the worse effect on the former leader of the Teamsters.

Instead of cutting back a bit, he informs Frank loudly that he knows things about the dons that make him untouchable and all but dares them to try anything. When Bufalino's daughter is to be married, Russell, Frank and their wives make a road trip to attend. Everything is fine until Russell tells Frank that he is going to make a side trip to meet Hoffa and bring Provenzano so they can finally put things to rest. 

Putting things to rest is what Frank does best.

De Niro as Frank "The Irishman" Sheeran is fantastic but then again I would expect nothing less. Scorsese knows that if he is going to do a Mafia film he can't exactly do it without De Niro. Having him start off as a younger man is a little unnerving and it is easy to spot the changes, but as the film goes along he just morphs into character and ages right along with him. What De Niro has the stunning ability to do is make you feel for a character that isn't exactly an saint. The effects of this are lost on Frank but not on the family as his daughters struggle with the knowledge of who their father is. 

Pacino as Hoffa is portrayed as an incredible character in that he has a mouth that I'm not sure how he got away with for so long. Well, absolute power does corrupt absolutely and Hoffa was definetly on the right side of that saying. He ran the Teamsters the way HE wanted to run it and whoa-be anybody that got in his way. Even prison didn't stop him - much. Pacino adds a dynamic that is such a struggle for Frank and Russell, they want to understand, they try to understand but the noose starts to get tight around their necks. Pacino is everything marvelous and then some. 

Pesci as Russell is such a treasure and what is interesting about this character is the eerie calmness. I'm used to seeing Pesci get loud, get crazy and make no excuses for any of it. In the role of Russell he gives a collected demeanor that never gets out of hand and plays everything close to the chest. There is nothing about the way that he behaves that gives anything away, no plans, no ideas…nothing. Instead, behind those eyes are plans upon plans and he makes no apologies for caring for those he loves first and foremost. 

Graham as Provenzano is the thorn in Hoffa's side, the thing that rubs him the wrong way and the very thing that sets his teeth to grinding. Feeling he owes Hoffa nothing, Provenzano has no problem hitting below the belt or in the eye - which ever. Graham gives his character a Superman complex of huge proportion and puffs his chest whenever his enemy is near. 

Other cast include Bobby Cannavale as Felix DiTullio, Anna Paquin as Peggy Sheeran, Stephanie Kurtzuba as Irene Sheeran, Kathrine Narducci as Carrie Bufalino, Welder White as Jo Hoffa, Jesse Plemons as Chuckie O'Brien, Jack Huston as Robert Kennedy, Domenick Lombardozzi as Anthony Salerno, Paul Herman as Whispers DiTullio, Louis Cancelmi as Salvatore Briguglio, Marin Ireland as Dolores Sheeran, Sebastian Maniscalco as Joseph Gallo, Jim Norton as Don Rickles, Al Linea as Sam Giancana, Joseph Riccobene as Jimmy Fratianno and Harvey Keitel as Angelo Bruno. 

Netflix is the world's leading streaming entertainment service with over 158 million paid memberships in over 190 countries. Enjoying TV series, documentaries and feature films, Netflix is across a wide variety of genres and languages. Members can watch as much as they want, anytime, anywhere and on any internet-connected screen. For more information please visit www.netflix.com. 

The project came from De Niro after he read the 2004 book by Charles Brandt I Heard You Paint Houses. Bringing it to the attention of Martin Scorsese meant that it couldn't have been placed in better hands. Industrial Light & Magic (emphasis on 'magic') did the de-aging for the film. 

Scorsese said on The A24 Podcast that "there is a great deal of CGI because we're doing this youthification of De Niro, Pesci and Al Pacino. We're all concerned that we're so used to watching them as the older faces." I don't think he has anything to worry about as the storyline takes over any thoughts about the youthification. 

THE IRISHMAN is everything I want in a film like this and more. In fact the running time of 209 minutes means that every part of the story is explored. From Franks marriages to the relationships with his daughter, especially the strain with daughter Peggy and how people perceived Frank. The story of Russell is shrouded in a bit of mystery except for what Frank knows and shares with us in his narrations and I don't mind that. The story of Hoffa and what got him in trouble with everyone is intense and constantly in flux.

The film is breath taking in scope and not a moment of time is wasted. Every minute is important and that's something views are agreeing on. The last half hour as we are part of Frank's mob-afterlife, I am even more giddy with De Niro, Pacino and Pesci's performances. THE IRISHMAN is a film that reminds us of what an amazing world cinema creates for us all. 

In the end - his story changed history!
BATTLE OF LENINGRAD Fights onto Bluray

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to Bluray from writer/director Aleksey Kozlov and MPI is the story of hope and survival when BATTLE OF LENINGRAD. 

It is war between the Russian people and German soldiers in the Soviet Union in 1941 and the people of Leningrad are being evacuated. On Lake Lodoga is an old barge, number 752, that is being loaded with soldiers and civilians. Trying to get on board is cadet Kostya Gorelov (Andrey Mironov-Udalov) and his girlfriend Nastya Tkachoyva (Maria Melniova). Also getting on board is Vadim Petruchik (Gela Meskhi), a NKVD investigator who has papers that he deems important to the war. 

When Gorelov's group is taken off the boat to head to the front, his father Col. Nikolai Gorelov (Vitaliy Kishchenko) makes a last minute decision. What Nastya doesn’t know is that after leaving her mother Nariya (Anastasiya Melnikova) behind, that her father Alexandr (Valeriy Degtyar) has been released from prison and sent to that very front. 

Petruchik recognizes Nastya and can't stop himself from bringing up her father's past or putting thoughts in her head about Kostya. He also realizes who Kostya's father is but has no problem threatening him as well. Trying to make the best of the frightening situation isn't helping the couple deal with their own issues. 

On land the fighting increases as the soldiers march toward the battle. In front of them is a hill that is wiping out soldier after soldier. That doesn't stop the men from doing what they must to hold the enemy back. When leaders of the platoons fall, new leaders emerge with a call to arms that the Germans couldn't even imagine coming.

Believing the barge is the only chance for evacuation, it is sent out onto the lake for the crossing. What they didn't expect was a storm that ravages the ship to the point of bring on water and have to start dumping everything on the deck. Nastya sees that Kostya is doing his part as more and more being to try and save the ship. 

Thinking they might still have a chance, from the air comes more terror as the scattering begins. Those on board don't have much to fight with and try to fight back with all they have but it might not be enough to save the barge or the people below in the holds. 

This is a story of survival.

Mironov-Udalov as Kostya is clearly a young man in love but he is also a soldier. Sort of a considered a lady's man, no one is really sure if the new girl is serious or he's just trying to impress her. That perception changes quickly when he makes sure she is safely aboard the barge. It is his own father that makes arrangements for Kostya and it is something that troubles him not wanting problems for his father. With the decision made, Kostya doesn't hesitate to do whatever is necessary to save the people on board. 

Melniova as Nastya is a young woman in love who will follow her man to start a new life. The problem is the old one isn't quite finished with either of them yet. Trying to be supportive, she does manage to let Petruchik get into her head questioning Kostya's motives. Eventually she sees what her man is made of! Melnikova as mother Nariya has tried to live her life raising daughter Nastya alone while her husband is in prison. Trying to stay clear of losing her job with the government (not a good idea to anger them), she knows her daughter is on the barge and husband is being sent to war.  

Meskhi as Petruchik is a power hungry narcissist who has a penchant for striking fear into people. He causes trouble between Kostya and Nastya in different ways. Petruckik makes it perfectly clear that all he has to do is snap his fingers and life will be difficult for them both, the thing is they have more serious problems waiting for them than his snappy fingers. Absolute power corrupts absolutely and the character of Petruckik could be their poster child!

Degtyar as Nastya's father Alexandr is finally released from prison but doesn't escape his fate. Being sent to fight the war may seem crazy considering his age but he accepts it and is stronger than most of the soldiers. Kishchenko as Col. Nikolai Gorelov is definetly a military man who is facing some hard and painful decisions. He may be a soldier but he's also Kostya's father and when those two parts of him collide, one side wins out.  

Other cast include: Aleksey Shevchenkov as Erofeev, Elena Zimina as Zoya, Sergey Zharkov as Gena Bukin, Ivan Lyrchikov as Andrey Babintsev, Maria Kepustinskaya as Sveta,Yesenia Raevskaya as Pomerantseva, Vadim Andreyev as Skyortsov, Inga Strelkova-Oboldina as Galochka, Vladimir Petrov as Sasha, Stepan Yakovlev as Seryozha, Vladimir Seleznev as Yarygin, Mikhail Morozov as Vitya, Evgenia Lyubimova as Lyusya, Pavel Grigoriev as Mikhail and Natalya Tkachenko as Liza. 

The MPI Media Group is a leading producer and distributor of films founded in 1976. It is one of the largest independent entertainment companies with a compelling slate of the world's most respected cinema, documentaries, performances and television programs. A subsidiary of Dark Sky Films, they represent some of the most talented directors working today such as Ti West's THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL and THE INNKEEPERS as well as GIRL ON THE THIRD FLOOR, WE ARE STILL HERE AND CATFIGHT. For more information follow them on twitter: @darkskyfilms and @mpimediagroup.

BATTLE OF LENINGRAD is a story of a young couple in love, parents and their children, soldiers, enemies and war. It is also about decisions made because of connections people have with one another. There are good guys and there are bad guys and the problem can often be that both of those are on the same side. 

I am a serious lover of period pieces and this film falls nicely into that category. The costuming and sets all take the viewer into that time period. It is in the costuming and sets that we as the viewer either go for the ride the story is telling or fall behind. I went completely for the ride. Having never heard this story I was interested in every aspect of what was happening and shared in the characters ultimate acceptance of how it all turns out.

They story is based on the actual events of barge number 752. Initially, the barge was used to transport supplies to Leningrad for the survival of the people. Their food transport had to be used for people because an evacuation was deemed an emergency and 1,000 people were loaded on. On September 17, 1941, 460 people would lose their lives on barge 752 and the tow boat Selemzha. 

Although BATTLE OF LENINGRAD is a film about the war between Germany and Russia, once the boat sails it becomes about the barge 752 and those aboard. Already considered a dangerous proposition, the fight for survival began the moment it left the dock - little did they know that survival was about to be taken to a higher level. 

In the end - the fight has just begun!

M. Knight Shymalan Brings A Mystery to SERVANT

Jeri Jacquin

Currently on Apple TV+ from creator Tony Basgallop and M. Knight Shyamalan is the stunning and jaw dropping series SERVANT.

Chef Sean (Toby Kebbell) and television reporter Dorothy (Lauren Ambrose) are a couple that are dealing with the loss of their son Jericho. At the suggestion of family friend, Sean gives Dorothy a doll that she sees as her son. Dealing with the situation, the arrival of the very young and meek Leanne Grayson (Nell Tiger Free) is hired to be Jericho's nanny. Following Dorothy's lead, it is Sean who waits until they are alone to inform Leanne that she doesn't have to pretend with him.

A few days after her arrival, Sean hears a baby crying and follows the sound to the nursery where Dorothy's doll has become a live baby. Freaking out, Sean calls brother-in-law Julian (Rupert Grint) to show him what has happened. Immediately Julian suspects that the new nanny has something to do with it and shares his theories with Sean.

Dorothy doesn't seem to notice the difference and is thrilled to be back to herself with a new baby and doing her reports once again. Leanne is actually fascinated and disturbed by the goings on in the Turner house with Sean's sous chef Tobe (Tony Revolori) taking an interest in her. At her husband's request, Dorothy starts asking questions about where Leanne is from and her life. 

In the meantime, Julian is on the case hiring Matthew Roscoe (Phillip Brannon) to find out where this mysterious girl has come from and what she is up to. He can't wait to show his brother-in-law what they have discovered which deepens the mystery. 

So, I'm going to stop right here because this is a series you absolutely have to experience for yourself!

Kebbell as Sean is an arrogant chef who loves his career and wife (even though they can, at times be mouthy to one another) and is twisted by what is happening. Giving a performance that mostly, so far, has this actor with a huge question mark above his head, also can't help but feel fatherly toward Jericho #2. I have to say that watching him great dishes during the show is pretty cool. He gets a chance to experience a one two punch of mystery and good eats and I'm all for that.

Ambrose as Dorothy is a woman who is proud of her reporter skills yet she seems to have blank screen when it comes to actually knowing what's going on in her own home. She's a good person with a quick wit and a protectiveness towards her family - including brother Julian. At first I was annoyed with Dorothy and then I just dropped my jaw and became in awe of her. Certainly most of us might behave differently but that isn't going to stop viewers from jumping on to her bandwagon to see where this ride is going to take us. Well done Ambrose!

Free as Leanne is a young girl who seems to be missing part of the real world in her life. Fascinated by the life she is beginning with the Turner's, she also seems to enjoy taking care of baby Jericho (that is, the doll that is now a real baby Jericho - confused yet?). Taking a liking to Dorothy, she begins to feel part of the family even if she gets snide comments and judgmental looks from both Julian and Sean.

Grint as Julian is a messed up human being who loves the wine at his brother-in-law's house. It is clear that he'd like nothing better than to expose Leanne for whoever he thinks she is but worrying about his sister has become a full time job. Julian wants to protect her from any more pain but this is a situation that isn't going to let that happen. Grint is on his game and I must admit to it being weird not hearing Ronald Weasly's voice come out. Trust me when I say that thought will fade fast because he is aaaaaamazing as Julian.

Brannon as Matthew is on the case by going with Julian to where Leanne says she comes from. What he finds disturbs him just as it would anyone else. Revolori as Tobe is attempting to be friends with Leanne but is confused by her reaction to things. That's not going to stop him from being Sean's best sous chef so we'll be seeing more of him in upcoming episodes.

Apple TV+ is a video on demand web television service of Apple Inc. The content is viewable through Apple's website and through Apple's TV app which is available through electronic devices. Accessible in about 100 countries, they distribute their own content and original programming.

The directing duties begin with Shyamalan taking the helm with the first episode Reborn, with the directing duties going to Daniel Sackheim for episode 2 Wood and 3 Eel. There are seven more episodes to bring the series to a climatic season finale with that feeling of 'awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!' knowing the wait it on. 

SERVANT is a series that is going to have you wanting more and more and even more. The episodes are a half hour each which absolutely and totally drives me insane. That's probably what creator Basgallop had in mind in the first place. Sitting at his keyboard wondering what would be the best way to make everyone growl like a bear when the credits start to role - it worked so well played sir!

The show is a bit of brilliance and it is clear why Shyamalan would want to be part of it, the storyline is right up his professional ally. SERVANT is a mixture of feeling crazy, not understanding what is in front of us, twisting our brains trying to jump ahead and figure things out but then stopping because we can't get away from the crazy feeling. Now personally, I happen to like when a show does that and I'm not going to lie, SERVANT had me slapping my head a few times, yelling at the screen with 'what…THE…&$%@!' or 'you've GOT to be kidding me!'

Yet, I went back, again and again wanting more, wanting answers and wanting to be riveted and I got it (I still want more than a half hour but I guess you can't have everything - yet!). The show is creepy, eerie, maddening and filled with twisted humor moments. Apple TV+ has a hit on its hands and now I am curious to see the other series they have to offer and trust when I say I'll be checking them out for you so stay tuned.

In the end - there is not an easy mystery to unravel!

KNIVES OUT


Jeri Jacquin

In theatres in time for the holidays from writer/director Rain Johnson and Lionsgate is a murder mystery that has more twists than a red vine with KNIVES OUT.

Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) is a very rich man who made his fortune writing crime novels. Having an 85th birthday party he invites friends and family over to celebrate. The next morning, Harlan is in his upstairs den when Fran (Edi Patterson) the housekeeper finds him dead! The family is brought together after his funeral as police officers Lt. Elliott (LaKeith Stanfield), Trooper Wagner (Noah Segan) and the mysterious Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) have more questions.

The questioning begins with Linda Drysdale (Jamie Lee Curtis), Thrombey's oldest daughter, her husband Richard (Don Johnson), Walt Thrombey (Michael Shannon), wife Donna (Riki Lindhome) and son Jacob (Jaeden Martell), daughter-in-law Joni Thrombey (Toni Collette) and daughter Meg (Katherine Langford), Greatnana Wanetta (K Callan) and finally Marta Cabrera (Ana de Armas) who was Harlan's nurse. The one person taking his time getting there is the Drysdale's son Ransom (Chris Evans).

As each of them are questioned, a story emerges once you get past the 'oh we all loved him' speeches. At the party, each of the family members had a conversation with Harlan that puts them in the category of suspect. While the police go on with their work, Blanc begins to ask more questions and start putting pieces together that, on the outside, seem to fit very well. 

Blanc finds Marta to be the person who knows a lot about the family having spent so much time with Harlan. Since she also has a condition that makes her unable to lie, Marta is Blanc's best hope for finding more clues. When Harlan's attorney comes to read the will, chaos ensues when the family doesn't get what they are hoping for. Fingers begin to point and tongues begin to wag in a way that Blanc just sits back and listens.

But not everything is as it seems and not everyone is telling the truth - including who the mystery person is that hired Blanc from the beginning. When it comes time to reveal everything, the family is going to have to rethink their lives.

Then again, that's what happens when the knives are out!

Craig as Blanc is, what Ransom calls the 'CSI KFC'. He is a sleuth with a southern accent who has the uncanny ability to be patient. When the family is in the room together, he is the one just listening to the insults, the accusations and the mayhem because, as we all know, that's when truth has a tendency to show itself. I just love Craig's character from beginning to end. He has an opinion but doesn't always share it and when it comes time for the who-dun-it, his piecing together is fast, furious and hilarious.

De Armas as Marta knows just about everything there is to know about Harlan's family. She isn't just his nurse but became a friend because she believed he needed one. Watching the family all lose their minds, Marta tries to steer clear until it becomes impossible for her to do so. De Armas is such a strong character in the film filled with strong characters. Besides Blanc, Marta is the most likeable character in the film - well done young lady!

Curtis as Linda just drives me happy being on the screen. She is witty, quick and a smartass all rolled in one which is what I was hoping for. Don't let the manicured nails fool you, she has her own problems and Daddy is just one of them. Johnson as hubby Richard goes along to get along. Marrying into a rich family doesn't give him a lot of wiggle room but when cornered, he just throws a wad of money and hopes it goes away. Evans as son Ransom is a spoiled rotten little smart mouth who hasn't done a day's work in his life relying only on the good graces and large bank account of grandfather Hanlan. Ransom is handsome, charming and good looking which is okay every everybody in the audience!

Shannon as Walt is the nervously tall son who is frustrated with his father over their publishing business. His frustration grows when he doesn't know exactly where he stands or if he's out of a job! Then again his nervousness could be making him shaky just being in the room with his nutty family! Lindhome as Donna is a wife finding solace in a very large glass of something alcoholic! Martell as Jacob is a young man stuck in the world of technology and truly disinterested in the ravings of the adults around him. 

Collette as Joni Thrombey only married into the family yet enjoys the financial benefits, especially with daughter Meg going to college on Grandpa's many dimes. Like Curtis, Collette is smart (well, sort of) and doesn't hesitate to throw sarcasm around with ease. There are looks she gives that just had me breaking out in laughter. Langford as daughter Meg is opinionated and has no fear of the family and their antics. When it comes time to take sides, she does slip a bit and has a moment of weakness.

Stanfield as Lt. Elliott is investigating Harlan's death believing it to be a suicide and just trying to wrap things up. When Blanc enters the picture, that wrapping up isn't exactly going to plan. Segan as Wagner is so infatuated with the case having to so with his favorite crime writer that he's just happy to be there!

Okay, kudos, hats off and cheers to Callan as Greatnana. She doesn't have a lot to say but her presence in the film is just icing on the mysterious cake. 

Other cast include: Marlene Forte as Marta's mother, M. Emmet Walsh as Mr. Proofroc, Frank Oz as Alan Stevens.

DEATHTRAP (1982) and CLUE (1985) are two of my favorite sleuthing films and I will stop what I'm doing anytime I see them on cable and watch. To this day I still laugh as hard now as I did the very first time I saw each of them. I can finally add KNIVES OUT to that small list of who-dun-it's and I couldn't be happier about it.

The film just has absolutely everything and yet it's kept very simple in its telling. The wit that flies around the film at break neck speed is sheer perfection for someone like me who would have the same responses if a sleuthing thing with a family like the Thrombey's ever happened in my life. The film is wrapped in cleverness that is just twisted as the storyline itself. 

From the very first frame it seemed that the cast was having too good of a time with their roles because each of them made it look all too easy. The flow was spectacular and even when I thought the film had given everything away in the first half, I was in for so much more than I could have bargained for. Even the audience had a moment where they were a little concerned that it wasn't going to go anywhere fast but the laughter kept coming.

Catching the flittering of jabs being thrown to falling for Greatnana, KNIVES OUT is just a good time in the theatre with a bucket of popcorn and good friends. The emotional ups and downs is a rollercoaster ride of a tale in seats that don't come with a harness. Throw your hands up and enjoy the ride because I suspect there won't be another like it for another thirty-seven years. 

In the end - everyone has a motive and no one has a clue!
TRAUMA CENTER Brings the Chase

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to select theatres and On Demand this week from director Matt Eskandari and Lionsgate comes a story of a chase to survive through the TRAUMA CENTER.

Madison Taylor (Nicky Whelan) is a struggling waitress trying to take care of her younger sister Emily (Catherine Davis) after their mother has passed. Being a bit protective doesn't sit well with Emily and after an emotional talk, the young girl is rushed to the hospital with an asthma attack.

Making it even more difficult on Madison, she can't stay with Emily having to get right back to her shift. On her way she runs into a man who in injured and gunfire begins to erupt all around her. Taking a bullet to the leg she is rescued by Det. Steve Wakes (Bruce Willis). Taking her into the hospital, Madison tells him what she vaguely remembers. With a bullet in her leg as the only evidence to a crime, Wakes hides her on another floor.

Following close behind are two men Tull (Texas Battle) and Pierce (Tito Ortiz) and who want what she has! Chasing her through the hospital, they make it very clear that they won't stop, ever. Madison now must use every survival instinct she has to get away and find Wakes to tell him what she has learned. One limping step at a time Madison knows that her time is running out, especially when Emily's life is now in danger.

But don't count Madison out just yet.

Whelan as Madison is struggling to be the adult of the family and when Emily becomes ill, she tries her best to keep it together. Once shot and running through the hospital for her life, Whelan gives her character a little shot of badassness when the survival instinct kicks in. Becoming smarter than the guys chasing her is entertaining as all get out. When they go after baby sis, Ms. Badass decides enough is enough and gets a little comfortable with some hard weaponry.

Battle as Tull just wants what Madison has and tries to be diplomatic about everything. He is the calm one in the duo trying to find a reasonable way to work it out. The problem is he underestimates his target and that's just the beginning of his mistakes. Ortiz as Pierce is the muscle of the duo and he has no problem throwing Madison around or anyone else that gets in his way. The problem is all that rage gets in his way of problem solving.

Davis as Emily is everything a little sister is - stubborn, doesn't listen to anyone let alone big sister and is in the wrong place at the wrong time. Siblings are a pain.

Willis as Det. Wakes can't believe that his department is not supporting him on the shooting of a fellow officer. Going over the scene many times, he has a suspicion as to what happened but no proof. Madison is about to change all that. Willis doesn't play a huge role in the film but enough to keep me watching him. He has always played a good cop and this time is no exception.

Other cast include: Steve Guttenberg as Dr. Jones, Roman Mitichyan as CSS Roman, Tyler Jon Olson as Det. Tony Martin, Heather Johansen as Nurse Rachel, David Meadows as Dr. Mark and Sergio Rizzuto as Marcos.

Lionsgate is a global leader in motion picture production and distribution for theatres, television, home entertainment and more. Theatre franchises include THE HUNGER GAMES, and DIVERGENT along with JOHN WICK. Now, adding this film to its 16,000 motion picture and television titles you can see everything coming soon as well as available now at http://www.lionsgate.com.

TRAUMA CENTER is a combination of corruption and the maze of a hospital (which in this case is a good thing for the main character Madison). There isn't a lull in the action although, to be honest, the premise is fairly straight forward. That doesn't take away from going along for the ride.

Director Eskandari is no stranger to taking on challenging films. His directorial debut came about in 2010 with the film VICTIM and GAME OF ASSASSINS (2013). I first became aware of his work with the 2017 film 12 FEET DEEP and made me totally leery of pools since. He currently has two films in post-production and it will be interesting to see where he takes us next.

In the end - the enemy is closer than you think!
THE MANDELA EFFECT

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to select theatres and VOD from writer/director David Guy Levy and Gravitas Ventures is a look at life of grief and another world with THE MANDELA EFFECT.

Brendan (Charlie Hofheimer) and wife Claire (Aleksa Palladino) are dealing with grief with the accidental death of their daughter Sam (Madeleine McGraw). Claire is trying to find ways to deal with all the emotions just getting by day to day and tries to get back to her business to keep from thinking about anything at all.

But Brendan notices that something is happening around him. Trying to talk to brother-in-law Matt (Robin Lord Taylor) about it, no one seems to notice what he does. From the names of things changing to feeling as if he is having visions, Brendan begins to look for the answers.

Discovering the Mandela Effect, he begins to see how that is possible with what he is experiencing. He learns that the Mandela Effect is basically false memories that are shared by a group of people. Part of this theory is the speculation about alternate realities as a cause for all the false memories. In Brendan's case, it could be caused by the trauma he is feeling about what has happened to his daughter in a split second.

Seeking even more answers, he turns to Dr. Fucks (Clarke Peters) to explain what he knows. Reluctant at first, it becomes clear that Brendan believes there is truth to the theory. When science can't completely answer his questions, he even turns to Pastor Isaac (Tim Ransom) to find some clarity.

The emotional torture is even worse because the world he is in is full of pain and sadness, but the effects of the other one is filled with fear of the unknown. Finally experiencing the "other" side and time with daughter Sam, the pull begins of how to find balance when no one else sees the unbalance!

Hofheimer as Brendan is clearly a man devastated by the loss of his daughter. As time goes by, he cannot let go of feeling that something is off. When he starts to notice the world seems to be glitching and instead of letting it bring more shadow into his life, Brendan goes after answers. What I enjoy most about Hofheimer's performance is that his character seeks answers from both faith and science and not many people would do both. There are moments where I know that personally I would have freaked out (the Berestain Bears moment truly gave my brain a "what the….").

Palladino as Claire buries herself in her work and doesn't really see what Brendan does. Not knowing how to talk to her about it, it becomes even a bigger wedge between them. I think the moment in the yard would have sent me the message that my husband was onto something.

Taylor as Matt is probably the sane person in the middle of insanity. He truly listens to Brendan and what his theories are and why. It would have been simple to stamp 'crazy' on his brother-in-law but instead he really does believe that something indescribable is happening to his family. Peters as Dr. Fuchs at first really doesn't want to talk about it all with anyone but Brendan is the guy who isn't about to let go without answers (I like those kind of characters!).

Other cast include Ptolemy Slocum as Manning, Vernee Watson as Nadine, Elena Campbell-Martinez as Ms. Garcia, Steven Brun as Daniel and Salme Geransar as Nasim Terhani.

THE MANDELA EFFECT is a thrill film that had me scratching my head because I wasn't sure where the story was going to go and man, once it got there I was all in. I also have to admit it had me looking into what others who study this phenomenon have to say about it and it was worth the time.

There are moments where the story just freezes as if to let us absorb everything going on and then jumps into light speed again, but this time somewhere else with the same characters. I wondered throughout the film how it was going to end and pleased that in this universe, it is possible to take a step back to see the bigger picture before moving forward - again.

The special effects are very cool and without giving to much away, there is one scene that took my breath away because in truth, it is so effective in being part of the story and bringing it all together. Trust me when I say you'll know it when you see it. So let THE MANDELA EFFECT take you on a ride into what is possible to some and reality to others.

In the end - take a trip down memory lane.
GAME OF THRONES Revisits the Iron Throne on Bluray

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to Bluray from HBO Home Entertainment comes the final season of a series that has captured the heart of the world as we all became part of GAME OF THRONES.

Our time in Westeros came to an end and that saddened me in a dual way. I came to enjoy my Sunday evenings all cured up with my yarn crocheting while watching (yes I can crochet without looking) the antics of heroes and villains I either openly cheered and jeered or even secretly cheered.

The cast of GAME OF THRONES is one fans have felt they have watched grow into their characters. From the first season even I wasn't sure what this was all about having not read the books but was immediately curious with each episode. I'm not sure if it was because I wanted to see if Sean Bean lived (as he tended not to do with his characters) or my love of period pieces but week after week I stayed.

The journey of the Stark clan with Ned (Bean), Catelyn (Michelle Fairley), Robb (Richard Madden), Sansa (Sophie turner), Arya (Maisie Williams), Bran (Isaac Wright) and the bastard Jon Snow (Kit Harington) didn't take long to be put under the thumb of the Lannisters'.

Speaking of a dysfunctional family led by Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance), daughter Cersei Lannister-Baratheon (Lena Headey), along with sons Jamie (Niolaj Coster-Waldau) and Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) made sure fans appreciated their own families more. Of course dangling on that family tree was also the kid most likely to be strangled by the masses Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson) amongst the rest of the kids.

Then there was this little blonde Targaryen girl named Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) who was traded to a very tall Dothraki leader in the form of Jason Momoa. Of course there is a history of craziness in her own family that she needs to come to terms with. That little marriage brought out the Mother of Dragons who flew her way into creating an army as we all cheered her on.

Of course behind the two families were such characters as Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen), Samwell Tarly (John Bradley, Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen), Lord Varys (Conleth Hill), Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunningham), Aidan Gillen as Lord Baelish, Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie), The Hound (Rory McCann), Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel), Bronn (Jerome Flynn), Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson), Melisandre (Carice van Houten), and the beloved Hodor (Kristian Nairn).

There are so many characters to name that I just don't have enough room or time to write this all out so let's move on and know that I am giving credit to every character as they are due with our humble thanks.

Onward, each season the story line grew bigger and bigger, so much so that I couldn't wait to go to Comic Con and sit in on the panel AND happily receive a goodie that included an awesome bag and inside a book so that I could read what I was missing, Seeing the casts on panels, it was fun to hear them talk about their time on the show as well as trying so very hard not to give anything away.

As the story unfolded season after season there was plans, survival, death, secrets, destruction, betrayal, power struggles (with family and with distant family) and all in the name of the Iron Throne and who will end up sitting on it. We began with Robert Baratheon and his friendship with Ned Stark and ended up with Joffrey being the next king (and I use a small 'k' because it fits him). Joffrey was the kind of king who would burn the wings of flies with a magnifying glass while his mother Cersei stands behind egging him on.

That's when Sansa gets put into play between the Starks and Lannisters but there is oh so much more to that story. As the houses begin to shift and loyalties become apparent, the one person who isn't loyal to anyone is Tyrion and that's when I started cheering for him. Yes, I understand that he has a problem with prostitutes and he likes to spout that 'That's what I do, I drink and I know things!' becoming his (and our) mantra.

We watched weddings, funerals, battles, enemies from far away and enemies close up fighting for supremacy, lack of love, a few crushes, women being passed on and men being passed over, magic, dragons, friendships (both faked and deserved), honesty wrapped in lies, and oh so much more in Westeros. Our loyalties, like the characters in Westeros, were solid - until they weren't.

The break between season 7 and 8 was the longest break in the show and fans believed, as I did, that it was because the last season would be epic. We bit our collective tongues when it was announced that there would only be six episodes, and we bit even harder when we learned collectively that it would be almost two years before the end would happen. Okay, we are die-hards, we can take it…right….RIGHT?

And so we all did, rumors would drop here and there and speculation about what would happen in the final season kept fans going until the first trailer dropped. I think the world might have stopped spinning for a second or two when that happened. It didn't give us much but it was something and we were raised to believe that it was better than nothing.

Then that first Sunday brought us all back, and sometimes in groups, to see who would finally sit on the Iron Throne. Bets were placed, surveys taken, and polls done with different opinions varying with Jon Snow, Tyrion Lannister, Daenerys, Arya and Sansa being the top picks. 

As the finale drew near, I put my favorite Westeros shirt on and filled up my Tyrion "that's what I do is drink and I know things' cup and prepared to see who would finally sit on the Iron Throne.

In Season 8 Winterfell brings Jon and Daenerys against the White Walkers and the Night King. There are still secrets that are about to be dropped and Arya has a plan of her own. Theon decides he must return, as does Jaime Lannister to help in the fight for Winterfell and Sam reveals a startling truth to Jon. Euron is back in King's Landing making sure that Cersei understands what it is he wants and that's to share the Iron Throne.

Jaime doesn't hesitate to share what he knows about Cersei and Brienne is happy to see him. Bran sees Jaime and the time has finally come to talk about what started all of the madness. Bran decides that he should be the one to bring the Night King out knowing what he truly wants. Sansa isn't giving an inch where her distrust in Dani is concerned.

The battle against the White Walkers bring the soldiers, Unsullied, and Dothraki to put together their plan. Melisandre brings her own brand of help as well as well as Jon and Dani riding the two remaining dragons against Viserion. All those fighting see people they love fall and rise again in this battle that can only have one outcome.

Decisions have to be made about King's Landing as Dani makes Gendry a Baratheon. With his new title he hopes there is one person in the Stark family who will be a part of his new kingdom. Jaime and Brienne have a moment of their own but it isn't to last an a particular loyalty can't be forgotten. Jon tells his Stark 'siblings' what he knows about his lineage but it doesn't stop the army from moving towards King's Landing.

Tyrion continues to stand with Dani as they all set sail when Missandei is taken by Cersei, there will be no surrender when her friend is taken. He also learns that Jaime has been captured and he will do what a brother must for a brother. Varys has plans of his own as well not trusting that Dani has what it takes to sit on the Iron Throne and that causes his betrayal.

All of this leads to Dani doing the unthinkable, Tyrion telling Jon that what was done was unconscionable and the Iron Throne still for the taking. It is time to finally see who will take power and what that future looks like for them all.

HBO Home Entertainment brings critically-acclaimed and groundbreaking programming throughout the world. Releases include the global hit Game of Thrones, True Detective, Girls, The Sopranos, Sex and the City, True Blood, The Wire and Entourage. The company's catalog contains hundreds of titles including Big Little Lies and Band of Brothers. For more of what they have to offer please visit www.hbo.com. 

GAME OF THRONES: The Complete Collection and GAME OF THRONES: The Complete Series on Bluray have the Bonus Features: GAME OF THRONES: Reunion Special - A reunion show shot live in Belfast with the cast, both past and present, hosted by Conan O'Brien and available exclusively on these complete series collections. The reunion special is assembled in segments focused on Houses Lannister, Stark and Targaryen and concludes with the key players all onstage for their final reflections on the years they shared in Westeros and Essos.

Also, Bonus Content and exclusive videos from previously released individual season box sets, totaling more than 15 hours of extra materials for fans to explore when they've finished watching the series.

The Complete Series and Season 8 formats also exclusively feature GAME OF THRONES: The Last Watch: A documentary featured on DVD in two parts by filmmaker Jeanie Finlay chronicling the making of the final season, WHEN WINTER FALLS: Exclusive 30-minute featurette with showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, along with major stars and behind-the-scenes players, breaking down all that went into the colossal filming of the 'Battle of Winterfell' in Season 8, Episode 3. 

Also, DUTY IS THE DEATH OF LOVE: A compelling look at how the team behind GAME OF THRONES and its major stars, including Kit Harington, Peter Dinklage and Emilia Clarke, brought the show to its conclusion in the series finale, 'The Iron Throne'. Audio Commentaries, Deleted and Extended Scenes, and Histories and Lore.

Yes, that's all I'm going to say because I think it's very important that those who have not seen the final season have their own chance to jaw drop. So, what did we learn on our journey? We learned that absolute power corrupts absolutely so sometimes melting a throne is best and love doesn't conqueror all, in fact in Westeros love could get you killed and usually did. We understood many things about the trials of some characters and we embraced others who seemed un-embraceable. Twisted life lessons but lessons all the same.

From the very beginning we all knew this was a game, a game among men and women for a throne, something that didn't care about any of them was easily taken away. A game of life and death and there was plenty of that to go around from all the seven kingdoms.

We also learned that loyalty exists, friendships can come from the most unlikely places, that family (even dysfunctional ones) will beat each other up but let no one else do it and that magic is in the eyes of the beholder. All of these things are what makes us love GAME OF THRONES even when we are disgruntled by it.

We will all settle in time, we will watch and re-watch until a comfortability sets in. We will wait to see if the prequels that are rumored will give us back our Sunday's evenings of being whisked away to another time, another place and another story and restore our suspension of disbelief.

In Westeros, after everything, they are beginning again. In our own imaginations let us hope that the choices made in the finale send them all on their way to a peace not known in Westeros for eight season.

After holding our collective breaths the final season returns to re-visit old friends and enemies. It should keep us busy until we see the first trailer to the prequel to GAME OF THRONES.

In the words of Tyrion and the truth is in it, even after everything that has happened in the years we've all invested in GAME OF THRONES, "even knowing what I know now, I'd do it again" - and we will.

THE TIGER OF ESCHNAPUR and THE INDIAN TOMB is Legendary on Bluray


Jeri Jacquin

Coming to Bluray from one of the titans of cinema director Fritz Lang and Film Movement Classics are two films the set with THE TIGER OF ESCHNAPUR and THE INDIAN TOMB.

THE TIGER OF ESCHNAPUR

Harold Berger (Paul Hubschmid) is an architect that has been asked to India by the Maharaja Chandra (Walter Reyer). His plan for the city is to build hospitals and schools for his people. On the way to Eschnapur, Berger meets a beautiful temple dancer (Debra Paget) and almost immediately the two connect. Further along the road, Seetha's wagon is attacked by a tiger and Berger jumps into action to save her.

Maharaja Chandra is ever grateful to Berger and gives him a token of his appreciation. Now that Seetha is near, the Maharaja becomes even more infatuated with Seetha than the first time he saw her. None of this sits well with the Maharaja's brother Prince Ramigani (Rene Deltgen) who was stepped over as ruler of Eschnapur. 

So much so is the resentment that he goes to Padu (Jochen Brockmann) who's sister was once married to the Maharaja before she passed and others who aren't happy with Seetha's arrival. Standing up for the Maharaja is General Dagh (Guido Celano) and standing up for tradition is the temple leader Yama (Valery Inkijinoff). 

Helping Berger put plans together for the Maharaja is Asgara (Jochen Blume), an engineer who knows the palace very well. What he doesn't know is that whispers are going on behind the palace walls about the relationship he has with Seetha. As he learns more of her story, the more he finds himself falling for the beautiful dancer. That sets in motion a plan that the Prince has against his brother.

The Maharaja tries to capture the heart of Seetha but knows there is something she is keeping from him. When the palace whispers get to him, he holds a banquet to test his new friends loyalty. When it all goes horribly wrong, he starts to believe that Berger and Seetha are betraying him. Sensing they are in danger, the two plan to get away as fast as possible as the palace soldiers take chase. What they don't know is that Berger's brother-in-law Walter Rhode (Claus Holm) and sister Irene (Sabine Bethmann) have arrived.

Now the Maharaja is playing a game of his own, lying to the Rhodes' and making Walter an offer that is beyond anything he could have imagined. Berger and Seetha are caught in a sand storm and overtake the couple in their end - or is it?

THE INDIAN TOMB

Irene and her husband suspect that foul play is afoot in the palace and don't trust anyone but Asagara but he isn't getting any answers either. In the middle of the desert, a caravan has found Berger and Seetha taking them to a local village for help. Everyone is afraid because the palace soldiers have already made it known that any village helping will be dealt with.

Berger and Seetha make a run for it again but are caught! Seetha is taken back to the palace and Berger disappears. The Maharaja has taken to asking the town seer for help in dealing with his anger and after only moments is gently told what he must do but to no avail. Back at the palace, the leader of Eschnapur begins plans to marry Seetha and isn't about to let his brother, religious leader or anyone else tell him what to do.

The Prince tries to bide his time in an attempt to make a coup. Irene has made her way to Seetha to discover what has happened and how they are all going to escape the palace. She tells Walter what she's discovered and the two begin to make their own plans using the problems of the palace to work in their favor.

The Maharaja is facing enemies from the palace and below it as it all comes to a finality that is as beautifully epic as it could only be.

Paget as Seetha is absolutely stunning from the first films frame to the second films last frame. There is no doubt that she is beautiful and a stunning dancer, but Paget is calmly strong in her portrayal of Seetha. Her performance is mesmerizing and as a fan of Lang I would have expected nothing less in his choice of actress to play this role. She carried herself with such grace and covered in the lavish sari's just made her character more breathtaking.

Hubschmid as Berger is an equally calm character. He has a gentle nature and a humble spirit that makes it easy to like him. Even when he realizes his feelings for Seetha, he doesn't outwardly act on them until he feels there is danger for both of them. Their great escape led to the second film where, shall we say, he finds out that not everyone is as forgiving as the viewer might be. Hubschmid is tall, handsome and the hero women fall for so I can see how he was also the right choice to portray Berger!

Reyer as the Maharaja is grieving the loss of his wife but finding happiness once again in Seetha. He tries over and over to make it clear that he just wants a life with her. Not thinking his brother could ever be an adversary was the beginning of his problems and unrequited love turned the tide in his good nature. Reyer has a crazy look in his eye at times and I saw even before THE INDIAN TOMB that I'd be running to get away from him way before Seetha did! Well done performance in both films with an ending that had to happen.

Deltgen as Ramigani is a brother who has been stepped over (or maybe even stepped on) to become Maharaja of Eschnapur. The plotting and planning is easy when you have everyone around you rubbing salt on an royal open wound. Torn between wanting to support his brother and wanting to be Maharaja, his choice is taken away by his own hurt feelings. Brockmann as Padu has a bone to pick with the Maharaja feeling that his sister's memory is being cast aside for Seetha. When his words are ignored, he doesn't mind jumping on the revenge band wagon for a round or two.  

Bethmann as Irene sense from the moment they arrive in Eschnapur that something is amiss. In her mind there is no way her brother would take off without communication to her. Irene is just as clever as I'd want a sister to be and doesn't take no for an answer. Holm as Walter is outraged at the Maharaja's request to stay and even more so when told why. He is absolutely frustrated, as Irene is, that they are not being told the truth. Holm paces so much I'm surprised there isn't a path ground into the marble! Even Blume as Asagara is confused by the stories being told but again is loyal to the Maharaja and would never question his intentions. 

Other cast include Luciana Paluzzi as Bharani, Helmut Hildebrand as Ramigani's servant and Richard Lauffen as Bhowana. 

Film Movement has released more than 250 feature films and shorts culled from prestigious film festivals worldwide. It's theatrical releases include American independent films, documentaries and foreign art house titles. It's catalog includes titles by directors such as Hirokazu, Maren Ade, Jessica Hausner, Andrzej Wajda, Diane Kurys, Ciro Guerra and Melanie Laurent. Film Movement Classics features new restorations of films by such directors as Eric Rohmer, Peter Greenaway, Bille August, Marlene Gorris, Takeshi Kitano, King Hu and Ettore Scola. For more information please visit www.filmmovement.com. 

The Bluray Bonus Features include Audio Commentaries by film historian David Kalat, The Indian Epic documentary, Debra Paget, For Example a video essay by Mark Rappaport and 20-page booklet with an essay by film scholar Tom Gunning. 

Director Lang returned to Germany after a 20 year exile and created a two-part film leaving the first with a cliffhanger to create THE TIGER OF ESCHNAPUR and THE INDIAN TOMB. Leaving Germany before the war and going to Paris then to the United States, Lang is also responsible for the 1927 film METROPOLIS and WOMAN IN THE MOON in 1929. In the U.S. he made FURY in 1936 with Spencer Tracy and THE BIG HEAT in 1953.

He returned to Germany to create what he called his "Indian Epic" with THE TIGER OF ESCHNAPUR and THE INDIAN TOMB. The later was a story created by his estranged spouse Thea von Harbour in 1920 which he helped to develop. Lang was close to ending his career in 1963 because of health problems but made it into the film CONTEMPT.

THE TIGER OF ESCHNAPUR and THE INDIAN TOMB are epics by my standards and those of 1959 and I think it would be stunning to see on the big screen but I'll certainly take it in my own home. The interesting part of the film is that the language is in Germany (no worries, subtitles!) but watching the film it's easy to forget it. That's how you know the film has captured my attention! I am a super fan of period pieces and an even bigger fan when the costuming in absolutely stunning. 

These films are given so much richness by the costuming, the colors, the attention to detail and the cast carry themselves well in them. Speaking of the cast, they are impeccable in their character portrayal. Doing two films, they flow one into the next and it feels absolutely seamless. The good guys are trying hard to keep their head out of the tigers mouth and the bad guys are poking the tigers from behind. 

It's a well thought out story of family, royalty, jealousy, revenge, love, passion, exoticness, richness, and a clear message that love and jealousy cannot co-exist for brothers in the same palace. 

In the end - this is an exotic Indian epic worthy of every frame!


THE AERONAUTS Fly High

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres from writer/director Tom Harper and Amazon Studios is a look at two people who are ready to take to the skies with THE AERONAUTS.

It is l862 and James Glaisher (Eddie Redmayne) is an obsessed meteorologist and has a theory about weather along with friend John Trew (Himesh Patel). Wanting to go up in a balloon to test out his theories, he needs to find a pilot. Amelia Wren (Felicity Jones) is a widow after losing her husband in a balloon. Locking herself away from everyone, it is her sister Antonia (Phoebe Fox) that gets her back into life where she meets Glaisher.

He tells her of his ideas and she is the show-woman who can make the ride news worthy and a spectacle keeping everyone interested. Loading his instruments on the balloon basket, he waits for Amelia to show up and when she does the entertainment begins. Glaisher isn't the loud and shouting type and just wants to get off the ground secretly wanting to prove to his father that it can be done.

Almost immediately the two begin butting heads but it’s a long business ahead. With each mile they go up, they begin to learn something about one another. Glaisher almost immediately begins to make weather observations and sends messages to Trew by carrier pigeon. The caution to this is that the higher they go, the more danger awaits them.

Life and death decisions are being made as both try to hang on to the reason the journey was made in the first place. The struggle begins with not knowing what happens if you go just a bit higher, and then a bit more!

They are about to find out!

Redmayne as Glaisher is a scientist definetly stuck in his ways. He sees things very analytically and with a no nonsense approach. Trying to maintain his standards proves to be a challenge when he asks Wren to be his balloon pilot. Trying to focus on the journey, he is more often sidetracked in not truly understanding what he is undertaking but at least his notes are meticulous. Redmayne continues his streak of worthy roles and plays his part with believability.

Jones as Amelia is a woman who is hiding so much pain. An entertainer with a flair for show-womanship, she makes sure this flight is worthy of all eyes. Daring and, in Glaisher's eyes careless, she knows what the balloon can do and how to navigate the air. Of course all of this is covering up something horrible that has happened in her life and being 36,000 miles plus up in the air, she has no choice but to face it.

Patel as Trew sees what Glaisher is trying to do, he just isn't sure why he needs to jump in a balloon to do it. Happy to keep his feet firmly on the ground, Patel gives his character a little bit of grounded sense (because we all know not many of us would do it!). Fox as Antonia may not understand what it is her sister does, but she certainly supports it and her.

Other cast include: Tim McInnerny as Airy, Rebecca Front as Aunt Frances, Anne Reid as Ethel Glaisher, Lewin Lloyd as Charlie, Vincent Perez as Pierre Rennes, Robert Glenister as Ned Chambers, Thomas Arnold as Charles Green and Tom Courtenay as Arthur Glaisher.

THE AERONAUTS is a delightful and suspenseful ride of a film. This isn't the first time Redmayne and Jones have worked together so well. They starred together in the 2014 film THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING about physicist Stephen Hawking life. Redmayne played Hawking and Jones played wife Jane. Redmayne won an Oscar for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role and Jones was nominated for Best Actress.

All the more reason to put these two actors together again for this film. There is a distinct chemistry between them that absolutely works. They carry the storyline of two people in a balloon doing what most would consider impossible at the time and Glaisher's fellow scientists said just that.

The cinematography and special effects are stunning and definitely a third character in the film. The colors are vibrant and exceptional to watch as the story and balloon go further and further into detail and into the stratosphere.

Director Harper gives the film such intensity that it's easy to feel like we are all on the balloon as a silent witness to these characters journey. One particular scene where Glaisher and Wren are in a battle for the balloon to go no further had me holding the sides of my seat. As crazy as it might be to say during the film 'oh no don't do that', it is the daring and hating the word impossible that makes people take leaps of faith. These two couldn't have taken a larger leap if they tried.

In the end - in the air might be where you find yourself.