Tubs of Popcorn Rating!!
Film Reviews

      RAVE & RAGE
Jamie Foxx & Channing Tatum
Shane Acker "9"
Minor Childers & Leland Orser
Craig Robinson & Clark Duke
Kelsey Mann - Pixar
Channing Tatum
Andy Dickler
Marmaduke
Richard Hatch
Sam Bass
Peter Lord
Nicholas Sparks
Stan Lee
Jarrod Hess
Morgan Spurlock
Peter Briggs
Kevin Sorbo
Carrot Top
Scott Waugh
Jonny Weston
Martin McDonagh
Anna Hutchison
Ming-Na Wen
Paige O'Hara
Robert Carlyle
Martin Papazian
Martin Blunder
David Koechner
Spongebob!
Gabriel Iglesias
Scott Mantz
Ben Lyons
Gil Bellows
Kevin Pollack
David MacKenzie & 
Gil Birmingham
David Guggenheim
THE POWER RANGERS
Dacre Montgomery, Naomi Scott, Ludi Lin
The Real Heroes of Bengazhi 
Mark "Oz" Geist, Kris "Tanto Paronto, John "Tig" Tiegen
Spencer Stone, Alek Skarlotos, Anthony Sadler for The 15:17 to Paris
It is LIGHTYEAR in Space

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres this week from director Angus MacLane, Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney Motion Pictures is the story of redemption for LIGHTYEAR.

Space Ranger Buzz Lightyear (voiced by Chris Evans) is on a mission with partner Alisha Hawthorne (Uzo Aduba) and when their ship lands, it takes no time at all to realize that there are hostile creatures who do not want them there. Trying to escape, Lightyear tries to fly their odd shaped ship back into space and when they crash land, everyone aboard steps up to create a camp.

Their new mission is to find a way home with the creation of crystals for the hyper drive. The problem is that with each test, Lightyear returns the same age but everyone else gets older and older with every test. Hawthorne encourages Lightyear and even gives him the gift of a techno-cat named SOX (Peter Sohn). Lightyear also sees Hawthorne having a life and creating a family on the planet.

The final test run against orders brings Lightyear back 22 years later even though the flight is finally a success. Realizing everything seems to have changed, he meets Hawthorne’s granddaughter Izzy (Keke Palmer). She tells Buzz how much time has passed and that there are robots out to destroy the base. Referring to them as Zurg (because that’s all they say), the chase is on.

Izzy introduces Lightyear to her team with the nervous Mo (Taika Waititi), and criminally minded Darby (Dale Soules). Believing that the trio have absolutely no idea what they are doing or that they can help, that is going to have to change if they are to protect the base camp and hold on to the precious power source.

It is time for Operation Surprise and prepare for a lot of surprises along the way that even Lightyear’s new team could not have seen coming.

Evans as Lightyear gives a serious side to this character but that does not stop the comedy from coming through whether he likes it or not. Every emotion comes from Evans voice as Lightyear deals with guilt and, in a way, isolation from friendships other than Hawthorne. He grows as a person and everyone is thrilled by the end of the film for that.

Palmer as Izzy is a chip off the space family block, well sort of. Wanting to help save the base camp from Zurg, she is smart and creative even if Lightyear doesn’t see it right away. Palmer gives her character heart and soul.

Sohn as the voice of Sox has ruined me and my granddaughter because we want our cats to be as clever and cool as he is. We love Sox and agree that we both at least want a stuffed kitty in our Disney home collection.

Waititi as Mo is endearing, twitchy, clumsy yet this character fits in perfectly with Izzy and Darby. Speaking of which, Soules cracked me up totally voicing this character who has no problem breaking parole with her skills in three-object bomb making. Calm, cool and collected – I love Darby.

Aduba as Hawthorne knows Lightyear better than anyone which irritates Buzz to no end. Yet, he truly cares for his friend. The messages she leaves keeps her presence in the film that causes a few teary-eyed moments.

Other cast include Mary McDonald-Lewis as IVAN, Isiah Whitlock Jr. as Commander Burnside, Bill Hader as Featheringhamstan, Efren Ramirez as Diaz, Keira Hairston as young Izzy and James Brolin as Zurg.

Pixar has produced twenty-six feature films beginning with TOY STORY in 1995. Earning twenty-three Academy Awards, ten Golden Globe Awards and eleven Grammy Awards just to name a few. They are responsible for beloved family films such as FINDING NEMO, THE INCREDIBLES, RATATOUILLE, WALL-E, UP, BRAVE, INSIDE OUT and SOUL. For more about Pixar please visit www.pixar.com. 

Walt Disney Studios continues to bring quality programming to kids and kids at heart. Home of the most beloved animated features including SNOW WHITE, PINOCCHIO and SLEEPING BEAUTY to name a few is what keeps families coming back for more. To see what is currently available to add to your own family library please visit. www.movies.disney.com for their At Home titles!

There is really a risk in taking a beloved character and try to bring him more ‘real’ to viewers. Most of us know Buzz Lightyear as a straight forward Space Ranger with a mission that is clear from the moment he is turned on. He is also the yin to Woody’s yang making it hard to see one without the other.

That being said, it did take me a bit to fall into the story LIGHTYEAR is trying to tell but it happened. What Disney and Pixar did was fill the screen with sounds, sayings and hints of the Buzz we came to know in 1995. I truly believe that is what brought the audience around. I heard the giggle, ‘ohhhh’s and laughter remembering and accepting – and all from the adults.

LIGHTYEAR is a fantastic family film that I truly believe is fun adventure and humor. Yes, it is a little intense sometimes but once the action roles and the story unfolds, everything comes together wonderfully. The animation is fantastic but then again, we are talking the stellar collaboration with Disney and Pixar.

In the end – to infinity and beyond!

THE DESPERATE HOUR

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres and On Demand from director Phillip Noyce and Vertical is the terror of a mother that turns into THE DESPERATE HOUR.

Amy Carr (Naomi Watts) is the mother of Noah (Colton Gobbo) and young daughter Emily (Sierra Maltby). Recently widowed, she is trying to bring some kind of normal to the family making sure they engage back in their regular schedule.

But, there is a disconnect between Amy and son Noah who continues to be withdrawn from his mother. Getting the kids off to school, he is the one who drags his heels. Feeling she should just leave it be rather than argue with him, Amy suits up and heads out for a run that takes her miles out into the forest.

The peace and quiet seems to be hard to get as work calls and her mother calling keep interrupting her run. One call she could have never expected was that there is a lockdown of schools in town. Amy begins calling who ever she can to find out what is happening. Reaching Emily’s class, she knows that her daughter is safe.

Reaching Noah’s school becomes difficult and it becomes clear that what is happening is at the high school. There is a shooter and the more and more she investigates, the more panic stricken she becomes. Five miles out, she starts back but being in the middle of the woods she has shoddy service.

Each call brings worse news as there is still an active shooter at the school and Amy has no idea where Noah is.

No one will stop her until she has the answers!

Watts as Amy is a woman trying to keep her family together since the death of her husband. It is son Noah that is hardest to reach as he has become withdrawn. Trying not to rock the boat to much, she is careful in the way she tries to reach out. When the nightmare parents never want to experience happens, Watts turns on a powerful performance of a mother who would do anything for her children. Her terror is as palpable as her will to find answers when those in charge try to keep her character at bay.

Gobbo as Noah is a young man dep within his emotions and no where to put them all. His relationship mom Amy is a difficult one as the separation between them grows in silence. He also has the challenging role to bring across that pain and the fear that will soon follow.

Vertical Entertainment is a global independent distributor that offers a unique wealth of experience minus the studio costs. They have won a Film Independent Spirit Award for Best Actress for Molly Shannon’s role in OTHER PEOPLE and the film won a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Film Limited Release, Best International Film for Babak Anvari’s UNDER THE SHADOW, a BAFTA and three Independent British Independent Film Awards as well.

THE DESPERATE HOUR is a film that brings out the worst in humanity and the parents who try to protect their children from it. Amy is trying to find peace in the world that she is left to deal with and running gives her those moments. On this particular day, running takes her farther and farther away from being able to do anything about what is about to happen in their town.

It is Watts who carries the film from start to finish doing everything humanly possible in an impossible situation. Technology is sketchy and the character of Amy reaches into her bag on Mom tricks to be able to not only find out what has happened to her children but how to help put a stop to it all.

The emotions of shock, anger, desperation and fear are all wrapped up in every decision this character makes. Time is not on her side and neither is the distance.

In the end – time is running out!

WOMEN OF THE WHITE BUFFALO

Jeri Jacquin

Available on VOD this coming week from writer/director Deborah Anderson is a documentary looking at the ways, history and traditions of the WOMEN OF THE WHITE BUFFALO.

Living in South Dakota at Pine Ridge and Rosebud Indian Reservation are communities of Lakota women, Native Americans who share their story. Their goal is to protect and preserve the native values and stories introducing them to Lakota children now and for the future.

Anderson takes the time to speak with young girls and women from ten to ninety-eight about the experience of what it means to be a modern-day Lakota living on an Indian Reservation. To understand where they are now, it becomes important to discuss the history. 

From the time of wars against the Lakota’s, it is a story of children being taken from their parents to attend religious schools. Stripped of their native clothing became difficult enough, but for the Lakota children, cutting of their hair which is a sign of family loss was an even more powerful form of destruction. 

Taking children from their parents happened for more than one generation as well. Treaty making and treaty breaking becomes a spiritual destruction as well. Eventually, what is left is Lakota’s living in poverty on land that had one purpose, to help along the extinction of the Lakota people. Even in their lowest point, the Lakota people managed to barely survive.

Then, the Lakota people begin to move away from the reservation and children adopted out which mean again, losing the values that have held the people together. Alcohol and drugs became predominant on the reservation which destroyed families even more. Children became the casualty of their parents’ inability to get help for addiction.

Grandparents attempt to step in, raise and try to teach the children as best as they can. But we all know it takes a village to raise a child so what do you do when the village is crumbling? First of all, there had to be an acknowledgement that there was an issue and the second is find ways to reach those in government that could help.

As the stories are told and the history is laid out, what also becomes clear is that there are those who believe there is still time to reverse the loss. It once again becomes the mission of the Lakota people to once again reach the children, teach the history, teach the language that was taken from them (as of now there are only about two thousand native Lakota speakers), teach the amazing skill of dance, art and song.

Carol Iron Rope Herrera who passed away in 2019 was an elder who is one of the women responsible for teaching traditional Lakota ceremonies. “We have forgotten who we are because of mainstream cultures continue to pressure for us to be like them.” Tatanka Ska Win Swiftbird is one of the children born of parents struggling with addiction. She has dedicated her life to teaching Tata native values and works on behalf of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

Sharon Fool Bull lost her daughter to suicide and the community sees her as a preparer of traditional foods for ceremony. “I come from the lineage of Water Women. I am a 62-year-old wife of the Assistant High Priest of the Native American Church of South Dakota. So many people have forgotten who they are, I feel it is my responsibility to remind them through the teaching of our culture.”

Delacina Chief Eagle is a survivor of sexual abuse and is a Tribal Law student and traditional hoop dancer. “I am a 22-year-old Sicangu Lakota woman. With each challenge I am faced with, I continue to align myself with my truth, breaking the chains that were placed upon my ancestors. I recognize the importance of sharing the native ways for the next seven generations to come, so that we become a thriving people once more.”

Julie Richards runs Mothers Against Meth Alliance, a safe house for kids struggling with methamphetamine addiction in one of the most dangerous neighborhoods on the reservation. She began the organization after learning her daughter became addicted and there were no resources available. “I am an Oglala Lakota woman. I have been fighting for my people so we can overcome the battle of the meth addiction and alcoholism on the reservation that is killing our people. The denial and fear is real and my prayer is to see my people come together and heal. We must all rise up.”

Sunrose Iron Shell is an artist, activist, poet, and teacher who fights to help students on the Rosebud Indian Reservation. “My students have told me they do not exist, they are brainwashed into believing that they do not need to connect to their Lakota ways, their ceremony or language. To the outside world they are seen as Unicorns, a rare breed, yet they have no idea. So, I feel it is my responsibility to impact them for the next seven generations to come through my art, through my passion to stay connected to our culture, so I can inspire these kids and bring them happiness and joy in remembering who they are.”

Vandee Khalsa-Swiftbird is a descendant of the WahZahZhi and Eastern Band Cherokee Nations affiliated with the Oglala Lakota by marriage. A survivor of durgs and sex-trafficking, she has dedicated her life’s work to Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. “My Lakota name is Good Strong Hearted Woman, and I walk my path with a strong commitment and reverence. I am a homeschool mom, wife, writer and motivational speaker. I am writing a personal memoir My Body and My Soul: One Woman’s Journey to Reclaim Both is to help others who have been on a similar path as me.”

Marie Brush Breaker who passed away in 2021 spent her life in activism. “That green money will not make you happy all the time. Sometimes it will make you mad and make you angry at times. But this right here, the earth, the color of my skin, will provide the foundation for life. So I am happy that I have made a rainbow of Takojas (grandchildren). I have brought them into my life, into my foundation, to live wealthy with love and happiness and a depth of culture of our Lakota way of life that will ensure The Earth, Unci Maka, Our Sacred Grandmother, survives with us.”

Naomi Last Horse grew up on the Pine Ridge Reservation with parents who were bootleggers with violence in their home. “I am an Oglala Lakota Woman. My Lakota name is “Waste Walakapi Win” meaning “They Like Her”. I am the Director of Language Integration for the Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation. I have been in the language actively since I was a child. Raised in a fluent home, Lakota is my first language. It is my job to share and nurture the Lakota language as it is important to know and sustain who we are as a people. I am a language warrior. Lakol’iya oko?hize waun.”

Bryan Deans is an Oglala Lakota man who lives in Slim Buttes on the Pine Ridge Reservation. He has created an off-the-grid eco-ranch as a “Garden of Eden” to provide a simple, affordable and inventive solutions to food, fire, water, shelter and air. He is working toward self-sustainability for his tribe. “My Indian name is Wambli Wahoshi, and I am the founder of the Oglala Lakota Cultural & Economic Revitalization Initiative and host of the Indigenous Wisdom & Permaculture Skills Convergence. It is time to help our people heal by becoming healthy and whole once more.”

Anderson gives us a look at the history, traditions and fight for the Indigenous People by letting each tell their story and share what they are doing to bring their people hope once more. For more information on WOMEN OF THE WHITE BUFFALO and ways in which you can help, please visit www.womenofthewhitebuffalo.com.

In the end – they will no longer be silenced!


Return to DOWNTON ABBEY: A New Era

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres from director Simon Curtis, written by Julian Fellowes and Focus Features is the return of DOWNTON ABBEY: A New Era.

The family is together again in 1929 and this time to celebrate the wedding of Tom Branson (Allen Leech) and Lucy (Tuppence Middleton). Robert (Hugh Bonneville), Cora (Elizabeth McGovern), Mary (Michelle Dockery), Rosamund (Samantha Bond), Edith (Laura Carmichael), husband Bertie (Harry Hadden-Paton), Isobel (Penelope Wilson), husband Dickie (Douglas Reith), Dr. Clarkson (David Robb), Maud (Imelda Staunton) and the Dowager herself Violet (Maggie Smith) are all celebrating.

Part of the celebration include the staff with Mr. Carson (Jim Carter), Mrs. Hughs (Phyllis Logan), Ms. Baxter (Raquel Cassidy), Mr. Molesley (Kevin Doyle), Anna (Joanne Froggatt), Mr. Bates (Brendan Coyle), Andy (Michael Fox), Daisy (Sophie McShera), Albert (Charlie Watson), Ms. Patmore (Lesley Nicol), Ms. Denker (Sue Johnston) and leading the household is Mr. Barrow (Robert James-Collier).

Violet wishes to have a family meeting to discuss something very important. Family lawyer Mr. Murray (Jonathan Coy) is taking too long arriving, so the announcement is that Violet has inherited a villa in the South of France from a man she knew long, long ago. An even bigger surprise is that she has changed her will to give the estate to great granddaughter Sibbie! Since she is unable to go, Robert, Cora, Tom, Lucy, Edith, Bertie and Mr. Carson are going to make the journey.

At Downton Abbey, Lady Mary has decided that their home desperately needs a new roof and with the generous offer from a studio to make a film, she and the staff stay behind. Arriving is director Jack Barber (Hugh Dancy), silent actress Myrna Dalgleish (Laura Haddock), and silent actor Guy Dexter (Dominic West) settle in to begin filming.

Arriving in France, they are greeted by current owners Marquis de Montmirail (Jonathan Zaccai) and his mother Madame Montmirail (Nathalie Baye). There is tension in the air because Madame Montmirail is upset that her husband willed their home to someone else, but the Marquis seems serious about making sure the Crawley family knows he wants to follow his father’s wishes. 

Back at the Abbey, every female is oogling Guy Dexter and envious of the beautiful Myrna Dagleish. But the magic of movie making comes with its own set of issues and the staff, especially Daisy and Anna, know how to set it right but not before Mary finds herself in the middle of it all!

Welcome back to Downton Abbey!

Bonneville and McGovern are back to lead the family into a new era as the family expands with Tom and Lucy as well as grandchildren all around. Going to France, Bonneville as Lord Grantham deals with the Dowager’s past and McGovern’s Cora has a secret of her own. What would the family be without these two actors giving us a firm grasp for seasons and now movies. They have given life and love to both the home and family that fans have adored and for which Bonneville and McGovern should forever be proud.

Dockery and Carmichael as Lady Mary and Lady Edith are the sisters who have fought for Abbey, fought each other and seem to have found middle ground in this film. Both married with their own children, now they both understand the importance of family and the heritage that is Downton Abbey. Mary finds herself at the center of Hollywood and Edith stands with her father in France.

Leech and Middleton as Tom and Lucy are the newest members of the family as happiness has finally found the former chauffer and son-in-law with his marriage to the late Sybil Crawley. Wilson and Reith as Isobel and Dickie are never far behind when it comes to being part of the family. Wilson gives Isobel the closeness and integrity to be a part of the still ill Dowager Violet.

Carter and Logan return and Mr. and Mrs. Bates and both are still dedicated to the Abbey and each other. Mr. Bates returns to help the family in France with a push from Mary and Mrs. Bates keep the staff in check as she has always done. They are everything to this household and expect a few changes that I am thrilled about.

Froggatt and Coyle as Mr. Bates and Anna are always such a joy to see. Personally, I have rooted for these two characters since their first introducing in Season One of the series. They are both such charming and sweet characters that you cannot help but be a cheerleader for them. Cassidy and Doyle are back as Miss Baxter and Mr. Molesley are still enjoying each other’s company. 

James-Collier as Barrow is back and still running Downton Abbey from his long road to get there. His journey has not only been difficult but almost always self-inflicted. Age has calmed this character as he still searches for love. Nicol as Ms. Patmore is still running the kitchen with a firm hand but is interested in the goings on upstairs!

Fox and McShera as Andy and Daisy are happily married and trying to figure out the logistics of living with William’s father, Mr. Mason (Paul Copley). It’s difficult to live under someone’s else’s roof with the uncertainty of where you stand. 

Dancy as Barber has a vision of the film and dealing with the changing times in films as well, turns towards Mary for help and a little bit of a crush. Haddock as Dalgleish is a woman who sees the writing on the wall for films and has a slight problem as talking pictures become the rage. 

Zaccai as Montmirail is a man coming to terms with his father’s wishes and meeting Lord Grantham has questions of his own. Baye as Madame Montrmirail is not having any of it – giving away her home and giving away her home to the Dowager! 

Now, we must address the elegant cup of tea in the room, the dearest, hilarious, and wonderful Maggie Smith. She is the rock of Downton Abbey even if she has had to scratch and claw her way to the position of Dowager. She has a past, and fans know this with the introduction of Russian royal in the series. Now, her past has come back again and a friendship with a gentleman in France that has the family asking so many questions. Smith has given us a character that can never, ever be duplicated with her humor, delivery of snappy one-liners (I have the coffee mug to prove it), care, wisdom and all the stamina that writer Julian Fellowes could give her. 

Other cast includes Eva and Karina Samms as Marigold, Oliver and Zac Barker as George, Bibi and Olive Burr as Caroline, Archer Robbins as Johnnie, Alex Skarbek as Roussel, and Fifi Hart as Sybbie. 

Focus Features’ mission is to make a lasting impact on global audiences by creating the home for artists to share diverse, distinctive stories that inspire human connection. Focus Features is part of NBCUniversal, one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies that brings entertainment and news to a global audience. For more of what they have to offer please visit www.focusfeatures.com.

DOWNTON ABBEY: A New Era is another chapter of a family fans have come to know and love since 2010. It has been a journey of every human emotion, event and happening that could be imagined, and writer Julian Fellowes gave everything and so much more. The characters have given us so much more as each episode aired and then punched it through to the big screen and hoping for another.

The settings are exquisite in France, but it is at Downton where my heart always lies. Nothing wrong with a trip across the water to see something new and find out more about the Dowager’s life as a young woman, but back at ‘home’ everything is familiar, comfortable and crazy. Having Hollywood stop by give Mary what she needs to keep everything going and that’s what matters.

Let’s talk about the costuming – there is not a single thread out of place. I absolutely love that the clothing changes with the times, but it is still so beautiful to see. The clothing draws us into the times and brings the story being told such an air of believability. 

The family has grown, the staff has grown, and the times have changed, and Downton Abbey stays in the heart. For fans, we have come home to a very special place!

In the end – the legacy continues!

He was Born to be THE NORTHMAN

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres from director Robert Eggers and Focus Features comes the tale of loss, revenge and Valhalla with THE NORTHMAN.

Amleth (Oscar Novak) is a prince to his people living with Mother Queen Gudrun (Nicole Kidman). Excited about the return of his father King Aurvandill (Ethan Hawke), they, along with the people greet the King and his brother Fjolnir (Claes Bang) home. 

Spending time with the King, Amleth also is brought into the mystical world with the help of Heimir the Fool (Willem Dafoe). But it is not to last long as Amleth must run from those who wish to end his life. Reaching a boat, he retreats chanting of revenging and rescue.

Year pass as Amleth (Alexander Skarsgard) is now a grown man accepted into a group of men who raid a village for slaves. Catching his eye is Olga of the Birch Forest (Anya Taylor-Joy), one of the women of the village. He also enters the dwelling of the village Seeress (Bjork) who tells him things he has long kept secret about himself. 

He also discovers that some of the slaves are being sent to King Fjolnir and this sets him on a path of the revenge and rescue he has thought of for years. On the boat journey, Amleth and Olga become very close as he shares what his goal is. Arriving, he sees his mother who now has a young son and still no one knows who he truly is.

Except maybe the He-Witch who tells him exactly what to do and how to get what he is after. Moving toward the ultimate goal, Amleth discovers what he never even considered about his early years. Now, he must make the hardest decision of his life to save those he loves.

Skarsgard as the grown Amleth is absolutely stunning in this role. He has a, oddly, quite rage from the moment we see him on screen. It is almost as if he were living in a fog and happily taking on the role of brutal savage in the eyes of those are at his sword’s mercy. It takes a moment alone with a sorceress to wake him up and a trip with Olga to see there is something else, yet he has unfinished business. Skarsgard as Amleth takes us on a well thought out journey, step by step he takes the lead, and we go along with ease. 

Bang as King Fjolnir has taken everything from Amleth and would never have thought there would come a time to be held accountable. When his village goes through strange circumstances, it is the furthest thing from his mind. Trying to maintain control becomes difficult and Bang’s character realizes that there is only one way to stop the madness – at the gates of hel. 

Kidman as the Queen has moved on with her life in a new place and a young son who she clearly loves. Still ruling as a queen, she becomes frantic when the horrors of the village start hitting close to home. Kidman’s character has her story moments that tell of life without Amleth.

Taylor-Joy as Olga is very clear on who Amleth is and learns what he is trying to accomplish. Supporting whatever he decides to do, she feeds him information and helps to make plans for their departure. Taylor-Joy’s character understands why and what must happen and gives her character strength without fanfare but instead an intensity of spirit.

Hawke, Dafoe and Bjork have their roles to play and although brief, have an impact on the character of Amleth. These three invididuals offer insight to the young man’s future and their characters give equal intensity.

Other cast include Ian Whyte as Thorvaldr Giant-Crusher, Hafpor Bjornsson as Thorfinnr, Doa Barney as Melkorka, Olwen Fouere as Ashildur, Ralph Ineson as Captain Volodymyr, Kate Dickie as Halldora, Gustav Lindh as Thorir the Proud, Ingvar Sigurosson as the He-Witch, and Murray McArthur as Hakon Ironbeard.

Focus Features’ mission is to make a lasting impact on global audiences by creating the home for artists to share diverse, distinctive stories that inspire human connection. Focus Features is part of NBCUniversal, one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies that brings entertainment and news to a global audience. For more of what they have to offer please visit www.focusfeatures.com.

THE NORTHMAN is a cinematic experience for many reasons. First, there is such an emptiness (once away from the King’s village), from ships on the sea surrounded by the elements to Amleth’s journey across the same emptiness on land before reaching his destination. He may be with others, but the cinematography brings in the feeling of the world being so big and Amleth being so small in that world.

The cast brings a richness, and each has their own story to tell, and director Eggers gives ample time for that to occur. Amleth is so singularly focused on his own pain that, for the longest time, he does not see that he is not the only person in this madness. The fantastic images of the Shield Maiden (shout out to Katie Pattinson) are absolutely stunning, rich and full of emotion. 

The story is brutal, ethereal and based in their strong and unbendable belief in the halls of Valhalla. Getting to that place honorably changes Amleth’s path and takes on the indestructible faith that evil must be destroyed. From childhood to manhood, his path is filled with strange twists of fate with a story that could easily be Shakespearean.

In the end – conquer your fate!

They are all Back with SONIC THE HEDGEHOG 2

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres from director Jeff Fowler and Paramount Pictures is the next adventure with SONIC THE HEDGEHOG 2.

Sonic (voiced by Ben Schwartz) is living his best life with Tom (James Marsden) and Maddie (Tika Sumpter). Happy to be getting a chance to run the house for a bit, Tom and Maddie are off to Hawaii for Rachel’s (Natasha Rothwell) and Randall’s (Shemar Moore) wedding. What no one knew is what was happening off the planet.

Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey) is making his own plans to get off the planet Sonic sent him to. Sending out a signal, it is answered almost right away, and he meets Knuckles (voiced by Idris Elba) who is looking for the most powerful gem in the universe. This intrigues Dr. Robotnik, and he convinces Knuckles to get him back to earth to find what he is looking for. 

Sonic’s mini vacation does not last long when he realizes that Robotnik is back and has brought a powerful friend. Getting to Hawaii through a ring, it takes seconds before it becomes clear that the wedding was not as it should have been. When Sonic, his new friend Tails (voiced by Coleen O’Shaughnessey) and Tom are taken by agents of GUN, it is Maddie and Rachel who are going to get them free.

That is what has to be done if they are to stop Dr. Robotnik and Knuckles from finding the green gem. It is a race against time and an understanding that sometimes someone who calls you friend really isn’t. 

Schwartz voicing as Sonic is hilarious with jokes, one-liners, recognizable references and a heart as big as any world in the universe. He knows the meaning of friendship, loyalty, fun and doing what is right for the planet he has come to love. My granddaughter loved Sonic before from the game and the cartoons but having him larger than life on the big screen filled her with so much joy, thanks for that Mr. Schwartz.

Elba as Knuckles voiced his character with the right amount of no sense of humor, trying to understand a very different world and change his attitude about a tribe of people he truly did not know. He learns the hard way that the word ‘friendship’ means different things to evil-different people. O’Shaughnessey as Tails is endearing from start to finish and adds to the trio with smarts and a very fast tail.

Marsden as Tom continues to enjoy having Sonic around, even if he feels a bit like a parent. He keeps his eye out for the blue ward living in his home and wants what is best for him, even if it means having to stand back and trust that Sonic knows what he is doing. Sumpter as Maddie is of the same mindset as husband Tom, that Sonic may need watching over from time to time but trusting he knows how to handle Robotnik is important.

Rothwell as Rachel takes her character to another very funny level. She wants to like Tom and she sees Sonic as a pest but when the opportunity arises, she realizes that they need Sonic. Moore as Randall chose to mess with the wrong woman, except perhaps she might not be the wrong woman.

Now, lets talk about Carrey as Dr. Robotnik – absolutely fantastic! He is fun in an evil way, witty, sly, and does not care one wit what anyone thinks about him. I love when Carrey gets the opportunity to be creative and let his facial expressions crack me up, his line delivery is sheer hilarity and mixing the two together with body language is everything. I would love to see him be the chunky Dr. Robotnik before he hangs up his moustache permanently. 

Other cast include Adam Pally as Wade, Lee Majdoub as Agent Stone, and Antwan Eilish as Nick.

Paramount Pictures is the longest operating and remaining major studio in Hollywood that has been on the ground floor of every major development in film. From the advent of motion pictures to the emergence of television, through the digital revolution, Paramount Pictures has been there. During our 100-year history, we have served as the production site for thousands of notable movies and television shows. For more please visit www.paramountstudios.com. 

SONIC THE HEDGEHOG 2 is the perfect family film in every way. It is two hours of fun packed for kids and kids at heart. I loved the action (so did my six-year-old granddaughter who is a huge Sonic fan), the storyline, adventure, humor, references to so many different things from films to other universes and still wrapped around the relationship with Tom, Maddie and Sonic.

Who could have thought that a video game from Sega in 1991 with the storyline of a little blue hedgehog would turn into the success in theatres in 2022. Even through its evolution, the character of Sonic has reached more than three generations in thirty-one years. Now, fans can get together once again to see what the new adventure has to share with them.

In the end – welcome to the next level!

He Learns About True Friendship Because of DOG

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres from writer/directors Reid Carolin, Channing Tatum and MGM/UA is the story of two soldiers and one of them is the furry four-legged DOG.

Briggs (Channing Tatum) is not happy with life working at a sandwich shop and trying to get reinstated as an Army Ranger for another rotation overseas. Learning that friend Sgt. Rodriguez has passed, he joins his fellow soldiers to be together talking about experiences only they all know about. Discovering his Captain is also there, he tries everything to get a telephone call to make rejoining his fellow soldiers happen.

An agreement is struck that Briggs would take Sgt. Rodriguez’s service dog to his funeral and the captain would make the call. The problem is the dog, Lulu, is not exactly happy to be around anyone. A binder filled with information shows she is suffering trauma and is very aggressive.

Almost immediately, Lulu sets her own ground rules and Briggs becomes immediately frustrated. Acting out, it is one frustration after another as Briggs tries to prove he is the more intelligent of the two. But the chase is always on between them as he is dealing with darts in the butt cheek, interruption of a bit of adult yoga, having things be stolen and car breaking down.

Each episode makes it difficult for Briggs to get where he needs to be for the family funeral service in Nogales. Along the way, both Lulu and Briggs have to come to terms with what is in their hearts and minds, the understanding could go a long way between both healing.

Tatum as Briggs wants nothing more than to get back into action. The problem is he has issues that are being ignored or hidden by sarcasm and just plain acting as if nothing is wrong. The relationship with Lulu is when all of those things no longer work for him bringing about frustration and bad choices. Tatum’s character tries the ‘I am smarter because I am human’ logic on a dog that clearly does not think that is a valid thing. The on-screen chemistry between the two is sad, funny, cute and endearing which won my heart. This is the perfect role for Tatum. 

Now, lets talk about Lulu (plays by three Belgian Malinois) who basically stole the show. Starting out as an anxious dog that is misunderstood as aggression, she has such expressive and beautiful eyes, yet no one sees. There has been so much trauma for the pup, but humans think their trauma is much more important that they miss what is clearly in front of them. Lulu has a mind of her own, sees the world as she was trained to see it and shows confusion about everything being so different, especially with Briggs not being Sgt. Rodriguez. I just love this dog to pieces.

Shout out to Nash as Gus the pot growing big guy who just made us laugh ourselves silly and Adams as Tamara as Nash’s wife who sees Lulu for what she is. I thought both of these characters just came out of nowhere yet seemed to understand everything. Awesome.

Other cast include Q’orianka Kilcher as Niki, Emmy Lampman as Bella, Kevin Nash as Gus, Jane Adams as Tamara, Aqueela Zol as Callan, Darren Keilan as Ranger Lucas, Cayden Boyd as Corporal Levitz, Skyler Joy as Natalie, Amanda Booth as Tiffany and Eric Urbiztondo as Sgt. Riley Rodriguez. 

MGM is a leading entertainment company focused on the production and global distribution of film and television across all platforms. Owning one of the world’s deepest libraries of premium film and television content and is home to two of the longest-running and most successful film franchise in cinematic history with JAMES BOND and ROCKY. For more please visit www.mgm.com.

DOG is a journey that truly is an experience for those who understand what happened to Sgt. Rodriguez and what is happening with Briggs is relatable. It is the issue of soldiers who come home with body and mind trauma and feeling that there is no other way out because the pain is to much. 

The character of Briggs thinks the answer is to jump right back into the very thing that has given him so much pain and confusion. Needing that camaraderie, he is willing to do whatever it takes to get that again, except deal with the death of a friend. Tatum also gives his character the ability to walk away from a family feeling justified for doing so.

This film is not an action story but instead a story on the importance of the traumas of soldiers (be it two or four legged soldiers) and what happens when they can no longer run from what brings them such pain. Briggs and Lulu have more in common than either realizes, but their stubbornness gets in the way from what turns into an amazing relationship.

In the end - a filthy animal unfit for human company and a...dog!

CINEMACON 2022 Brings Out the Red Carpet for Studios and Theatre Owners

Jeri Jacquin

This past week, Las Vegas hosted the annual NATO (National Association of Theatre Owners) CINEMACON gathering together to experience what the studios have to offer theatres with their coming slates for 2022-2023 and beyond.

Caesar’s Palace was the place to be as each studio called us into the Colosseum to talk about the return of the theatrical experience and thanking the theatre owners for hanging on during the Covid shutdown. Reopening to movie-lovers, theatre owners were thanked by studio executives and stars for recognizing that everyone wants to get back into theatres!

Starting on Monday, Sony studios began the convention with director David Leitch giving the audience a look at the new film starring Brad Pitt with BULLETTRAIN. The lovely Reese Witherspoon joins the fun via the big screen to talk about the highly anticipated summer film WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING.

One of my favorite actresses, Viola Davis is introduced by the director of her latest film THE WOMAN KING, Gina Price-Bythewood and receives the CinemaCon Trailblazer of the Year award. Marvel’s film EL MUERTO brings Bad Bunny to star in its Latinx character driven film that will hit theatres in January of 2024.

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse gives us a look at what’s to come and introduced by Phil Betancourt and Chris Miller. This installment has over two hundred and forty characters in six universes and that’s going to test my attention span for sure. Other films coming from Sony include 65 MOVIE, DEVOTION, MADAME WEB, KRAVEN, THE EQUALIZER, GHOSTBUSTERS AND VEMON.

Sony’s Chairman/CEO Tom Rothman talks about the upcoming film about George Foreman to close out the studio’s presentation.

Tuesday morning brought the studio Neon and right out of the gate is Matt Reeves, the director of the successful recent release of BATMAN. He announces that he will be heading up the next BATMAN film much to the excitement of the audience. My shock of the morning is watching the iconic David Cronenberg arrive on stage to introduce the trailer for the Viggo Mortensen-Kristen Stewart film CRIMES OF THE FUTURE. He says, “Seems an appropriate place to launch our attack on the world.”

Cronenberg also admits that writing CRIMES OF THE FUTURE took about 20 years and adding another confession that he has never been to Las Vegas. Welcome sir!

The film FIRE OF LOVE explores the relationship of love between a couple who also happens to love volcanos. An odd but interesting top for this Sundance award winner and I cannot wait to see it.

To finish the Neon presentation is MOONAGE DAYDREAM which is a film about the amazing David Bowie. We were treated to a performance of Hallo Spaceboy as director Brett Morgen says, “Bowie cannot be defined, he can be experienced”. If that were not enough, another performance of Heroes. Everyone in the audience was engrossed and emotional.

Warner Bros. presentation begins with Chairman Toby Emmerich talking about Reeves return for the next installment of BATMAN, followed by Denis Villenueve talking about his own excitement bringing DUNE 2 to the big screen in theatres. That is when the presentation is taken over by none other than Aisha Tyler.

Baz Luhrmann takes the stage to talk about the power of seeing a film in theatres and also talks about his next film ELVIS starring Austin Butler and Tom Hanks. He says, “it is not really a biopic but more about America in the 50s, 60s and 70s with Elvis Presley at the center of culture.”

Next, a look at the film WONKA starring Timothy Chalamet and THE FLASH starring Ezra Miller. Olivia Wilde takes the stage to talk about her directed film DON’T WORRY DARLING with Florence Pugh and Harry Styles. She says her film is a “love letter to the movies that push the boundaries of our imagination”. I don’t know Ms. Wilde, I can imagine quite a lot!

I absolutely loved seeing Helen Mirren enter the stage along with Zachy Levi and Asher Angel to talk about their new film SHAZAM! Fury of the Gods. Mirren says of her character, “She’s convinced of her righteousness.” James Wan offers up a trailer for AQUAMAN AND THE LOST KINGDOM and director Gary Dauberman gives us a take on the new Stephen King film SALEM’S LOT.

The roof always comes down when The Rock enters a large room, and the Colosseum is no exception. Coming in to do double duty introducing two of his films DC SUPER PETS and BLACK ADAM, he couldn’t waste the chance to talk about the bromance with Kevin Hart “who continues to be like my third child”.

Talking about BLACK ADAM, Johnson says it is “truly a dream of mine” and shares the stage with Quintessa Swindell and Noah Cent and a peek at the film. Chairman of Warner Bros. Pictures Toby Emmerich is on hand to give Johnson the Entertainment Icon of the Decade Award. Well deserved!

Jason Blum refers to his new film THE BLACK PHONE as ‘scary as hell’ and the audience will have a chance to see it for themselves later in the evening. Ethan Hawke gives a startling and stunning performance in this eerie film that is going to keep me up nights for a while.

Wednesday morning starts out with a smile on my face particularly because Disney is bringing it all it has to offer. Starting out the morning with a peek at the upcoming slate, it is exciting to see more. Starting with Chris Evans, as the voice of Buzz Lightyear, screening to the audience a thirty-minute preview of the highly anticipated family film LIGHTYEAR coming this summer.

The film AMSTERDAM stars Christian Bale and Robert DeNiro is coming in November and BOB’S BURGER coming in May. Jon Landau announced the re-release of AVATAR this September as James Cameron gives the audience a peek at AVATAR: The Way of Water. And that is exactly how you end a presentation, with a big blue bang!

Universal Pictures and Focus Features bring their presentations starting out with writer/director Jordan Peele talking about his next film NOPE. Waiting for its release, he says, “I’m going to personally thrive on the amount of times I hear the word nope”, and I hope he has a counter on hand because from the looks of it – the number of times is going to be infinite!

Jamie Lee Curtis is always a joy and a laugh to see as I did a few years ago when she was promoting the HALLOWEEN film. She is back to talk about the next film HALLOWEEN ENDS saying that playing Laurie Strode has “been the ride of my life”. Her final warning about the new film is “trust me it’s gonna f**k you up!” and I trust her!

Allison Williams brings a trailer for the film M3GAN and the film BEAST OF NO NATION with Idris Elba. Ko Joy decides to have a little fun with the audience to get them ready for a look at his new film EASTER SUNDAY. I am so looking forward to the dark film THE LAST VOYAGE OF THE DEMETER since I am a wicked period piece fan, this is going to be good.

If lots of laugh is what anyone is looking for, Steve Carell promises that we will get just that with the new installment from Illumination of MINIONS: The Rise of Gru. Along with that, Carell does not mind offering up Gru-voice lessons that are equally as hilarious.

The first entire LGBTQ cast is brought about by Billy Eichner and the film BROS, George Clooney and Julia Roberts come together again with a TICKET TO PARADISE, Carey Mulligan brings SHE SAID to the screen in November and MRS. HARRIS GOES TO PARIS is coming this July. Other films include VENGEANCE, SPOILER ALERT, CHAMPIONS, Anthony Hopkins film ARMAGEDDON TIME, and the Kate Blanchett starring in TAR.

Like a kid weeks before Christmas, I am excited to see any sneak peek or just the name mentioned of DOWNTON ABBEY: A New Era. On stage a special message is brought from the cast that just gets me giddy all over again.

Speaking of Christmas, what is the holiday season without a good horror film as David Harbour gives the audience a look at VIOLENT NIGHT. Our favorite swash-buckling cat is back with PUSS IN BOOTS: The Last Wish but a certain perro in the film thinks he has what it takes to declaw our hero with new charm.

Finally, and what a way to end the evening, Jeff Goldblum and Bryce Dallas Howard give a never-before-seen footage peek at JURASSIC WORLD: Dominion. Bigger, badder and madder dinosaurs are hitting the screen in weeks!

On Thursday, the final day of CinemaCon, the Paramount presentation begins with a supersonic performance that reminds us that SONIC THE HEDGEHOG 2 is still ringing at the box office. Chris Aronson, President of Domestic Distribution for Paramount, dressed like Eggman with the warning “papa has a brand new stache’!” He also introduces a reel to show what is coming with such films as TOP GUN MAVERICK, PAWS OF FURY, BABYLON, DUNGEONS & DRAGONS, IF, TIGERS APPRENTICE, PAWS and A QUIET PLACE: Day One. Brian Robbins talks films of 2023 with TRANSFORMERS, TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES and BOB MARLEY.

That all leads up to a message from Tom Cruise who could not attend CinemaCon because he was filming his newest MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: Dead Reckoning Part One. On the wings of a biplane, he apologizes for not being able to attend and hopes we all understand before hanging on as the plane makes a daring dive! All of this leads up to a first screening of TOP GUN MAVERICK.

The final presentation on the final day of CinemaCon comes from Lionsgate with host Sebastian Mariscalco. Starting off with an introduction by 50 Cent, a preview of EXPENDABLES 4 hits the screen followed by a look at the horror offering THE DEVIL’S LIGHT. Rachel McAdams and Abby Fortson have the chance to talk about their newest film ARE YOU THERE GOD? IT’S ME MARGARET.

Helen Mirren makes another appearance on stage to present WHITE BIRD: A Wonder Story. Director Mark Forster says it “is a film of magical realism that is both beautiful and emotional”. That is an amazing description of the film.

Robert DeNiro and Kim Cattrall talk the film ABOUT MY FATHER from Sebastian Mariscalco. DeNiro says, “Your father was a guy I sort of understand” which is probably the most amazing compliment ever.

Director Chad Stahciski and Keanu Reeves talk JOHN WICK CHAPTER 4. Keanu cracked me up saying, “and to think, this all started because of a puppy.” Dang it Keanu, can you be any cuter? Just a personal observation.

To wrap up the Lionsgate presentation, more films coming include Eli Roth’s BORDERLANDS, BALLERINA, DIRTY DANCING 2 and HUNGER GAMES: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.

The final show at CinemaCon is the BIG SCREEN ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS that go the following actors, congratulations to them all and well deserved.

Cinema Verite Award – Robert DeNiro
Comedy Star of the Year – Billy Eichner
Rising Star of 2022 – Abby Ryder Fortson
CinemaCon Vanguard Award – Rachel McAdams
Star of Tomorrow – Glen Powell
CinemaCon Star of the Year – Zoe Saldana


There you have it, the four days of presentations, stars, studios and theatre owners all gathered in one place to celebrate what we love the most – MOVIES! As 2022 begins to reopen, so do our favorite theatres that are popping the popcorn, keeping the soda’s cold, and stocking up on our favorite movie candy’s. As the theatrical experience brings us all back together to see everything as it was meant to be seen, you can be sure I will review it all.

Our thanks to Sony, Neon, Warner Bros. Pictures, Walt Disney Studios, Universal Pictures, Focus Features, Paramount, and Lionsgate for bringing us such exciting previews. Thanks to Cesar’s Palace for our yearly home away from home with your thoughtful staff.

See you next year CinemaCon and thank you!


They are Running from 9 BULLETS

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres and On Demand from writer/director Gigi Gaston and Screen Media is the thriller chase when you are running from 9 BULLETS.

Gypsy (Lena Heady) is a dancer that is about to make a grand change in her life. Receiving word that a book she is writing is near going to press, she quits her job to finish it. In the trailer park where she lives is the young boy Sam (Dean Vasquez) who lives with his family. At home alone, he receives a panicked telephone call from his father telling him to pack a secret laptop and go to a hiding place they had pre-planned.

Grabbing his dog Moses, Sam heads out into the dark. Gypsy is on her way home from her final day at work when she also gets a panicked call begging her to call Jack (Sam Worthington) to make him understand. Gypsy seems to know exactly what the caller is referring to and promises to do what she can – that is until the call is cut short.

On the road, young Sam witnesses a heinous event and runs! When Gypsy gets home, she realizes there is someone in the house and finds the young boy cowering in her shower. Now she is the one panicking and packs what she can, puts the boy in the truck and runs. Gypsy knows that Jack will be sending his henchmen to take the boy.

While running, Sam tries to be friendly with Gypsy, but she is not warming up to the idea of dealing with the kid. Feeling the only recourse is to talk to Jack, she grabs Moses and spends the night with Jack to convince him to stop whatever he has planned. The problem is, Jack is not happy about the money he has lost, and revenge is how he deals with it.

Along the way, Gypsy plans to drop Sam off with someone who can take care of him. Yet, the two begin to understand one another in between chases and bullets until finally, both can take no more and do whatever is necessary to either make it right or make them rich.

Heady as Gypsy is a hardened woman for reasons of her own. Taking on a young boy who is dealing with so much puts her on guard even more. Wanting to get him to a safe place is her main goal so she can find the new life she has been working on. Heady is tough even when tears fall but when her character realizes that pain is pain no matter what age, a softer version of a tough woman comes out.

Vasquez as Sam is the young boy who has seen the worse that humanity has to offer in the way of viciousness. Along with dog Moses, Sam tries to find a bond with Gypsy and is constantly brought down which is not easy for a kid. Yet, when they are up against the odds, Sam finds Gypsy’s strength and makes it his own. Well done young man.

Worthington as Jack is a vicious man who tries charm and if that does not work, he turns to what he is good at, giving orders for horrible things to happen. He wants the money stolen from him and, as a bonus, he wants to prove that he will take out anyone who gets in his way whether they had anything to do with it or not. 

Other cast include Martin Sensmeier as Eddie, Chris Mullinax as Mike, Lala Anthony as Tasmin, Emma Holzer as Lisa, Donna Hood as Cupid, Anthony Fitzgerald as Mel, Zachary mooren as Ralph, Stephanie Arcila as Caroline, Marlene Forte as Grandmother, John Ales as Rabbi Stein, Colleen Camp as Drew, Cam Gigandet as Tommy and Barbara Hershey as Lacey. 

Screen Media is an international distributor of television series and films, licensing content through theatrical, home video, pay-per-view, free, cable and pay television, and subscription and advertising video-on-demand platforms. In 2017 Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, Inc. acquired Screen Media which is in its 23rd year as a leading global independent distribution company. With one of the largest independently owned libraries of filmed entertainment in the world and license agreements across all forms of media, Screen Media’s distribution capability enables direct distribution of all rights in all countries, thus enhancing the profitability of Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment productions. The company is continually looking to add films and television series to its content library.

9 BULLETS gives the reminiscent feel of the 1980 film GLORIA with Gena Rowlands. Even Sam looks like the young boy Phil from the movie as well, except Phil has quite an outlook on his life and was not afraid to be mouthy about it. The premise is about the same but that does not take away from the film in its enjoyment.

Heady and Vasquez are a pair together both discovering the one thing they share is that they need to start a new life away from the horror of their old life. Worthington oozes bad guy from beginning to, well, end if there is one with the door left open as to what happens. 

Jump in the car and go for a wild ride because, as Sam says, it will take more than bullets to stop them both. 

In the end – they are each running from their own story!



A Perfect Comedy Seeking THE LOST CITY

Jeri Jacquin

In theatres from directors Aaron and Adam Nee and Paramount Pictures is an adventure for a writer, a model and gazillionaire looking for THE LOST CITY.

Loretta (Sandra Bullock) is an extremely successful romance novelist who is dealing with the lost of a loved one. Consigned to being over all the conventions and book tours, she just wants to take a break. Unfortunately, very determined publicist Beth (Da’Vine Randolph) is not going to let her get away with anything, including her obligations.

In a purple form fitting sequenced onesie, Loretta is on stage to talk to fans about her latest book and, much to her dismay, so is Alan (Channing Tatum). Alan is the book cover model with striking good looks and long flowing air who dazzles everyone but Loretta. On this occasion, clumsiness and an awkward backbend has Loretta twisting and Alan losing his locks.

Loretta decides she has had enough and storms off to meet her car, instead she is met by two large gentlemen who whisk her away. Waiting for her is Abigail Fairfax (Daniel Radcliffe), a very energetic and excited gazillionaire who wants Loretta’s help. He believes she has the key to finding a hidden treasure based on her book. Assuring him that she does not know anything, Fairfax does not take no for an answer.

Waking up on a private jet, Fairfax makes it clear that Loretta is going to help and can start by deciphering glyphs. Where is Alan? Oh, well he has discovered that Loretta has been taken and Beth is frantic. He calls the one person Alan knows can track her down and that is Jack Trainer (Brad Pitt).

Meeting up, Alan and Jack discover Loretta’s phone is on a volcanic island and off they go. Loretta in the meantime is at the mercy of Fairfax who makes it clear she is not going anywhere till she helps. Well, shoot ups, sneak ups and bang ups later Loretta and Alan are in the middle of the jungle trying to get away from the bad guys.

Instead of instantly leaving, they sort of decide that they are going to look for the treasure Fairfax wants. Will they discover it? How far is Fairfax being them? Is Beth going to find them first? Is the mystery of the treasure even real? Find out when you see THE LOST CITY.

Bullock as Loretta gives us everything that is stereotypical thinking about romance novelists. Living a sad life, writing down her passions and dreams of romance and adventure while living a secluded existence. Except only some of that is true because Loretta is a smart woman just dealing with things on her own time. Once she is let out of that box, man the adventure follows, and Bullock delivers some of the funniest lines. I was laughing constantly and loved it.

Tatum as Alan, oh dearests Channing you are absolutely hilarious. Playing opposite Bullock, Tatum has found magic. Clearly Alan is in love with Loretta, and he does everything to try to show it but you can not get through someone who is jaded by her own work. Yet, there Alan is, persistent, patient yet also has some of the best mumbling answers but, there does come a moment where he lays out his truths and I applauded it. 

Radcliffe as Fairfax is hilarious, wonderful and made his role looks like he was having more fun that he should have been. Clearly dealing with brother problems and trying to make his own mark in the work, Fairfax has a magazine rack full of issues. Radcliffe continues to shed his Potter days (although secretly we wish he’d make a return someday – embrace the Potter dude!) and this role took us clearly on the other side of the universe of that. I loved it and he cracked me up. 

Randolph as Beth is clearly a woman who believes in her job, a paycheck and no nonsense. Those three things make her a combination to be dealt with and a force driving her to find Loretta and eventually Alan. Randolph held her own and did it with style and hilarity. Shout out to Oscar (Oscar Nunez) and his role as the airplane pilot trying to make his moves on Beth and yet we still remember his strip tease from Bullocks film THE PROPOSAL.

Now, about Brad Pitt, oh yes, Pitt as Trainer is everything in Loretta’s books and even more than everything that Alan wants to be for Loretta. He is suave, slick, adventurous, disarming (literally) and still as handsome as ever. Thanks, Brad, for that!

Other cast include Patti Harrison as Allison, Bowen Yang as Ray, Joan Pringle as Nana, Hector Anibal as Rafi, Thomas Johnson as Julian, Sli Lewis as Shades, Olga Bucarelli as the woman in the village, Adam Nee as Officer Sawyer and Raymond Lee as Officer Gomez.

Paramount Pictures is the longest operating and remaining major studio in Hollywood that has been on the ground floor of every major development in film. From the advent of motion pictures to the emergence of television, through the digital revolution, Paramount Pictures has been there. During our 100-year history, we have served as the production site for thousands of notable movies and television shows. For more please visit www.paramountstudios.com.

THE LOST CITY was hilarity from beginning to end. It has been a while since I laughed this much at a movie and repeated some of the lines since then. Reminiscent of ROMANCING THE STONE, this story let each of the cast members show their comedic side in equal measure. I thought all of them had the best parts and just loved what they brought to the film.

If you are looking to just laugh for two hours, THE LOST CITY is the film to make that happen. I had such a good time and along with my daughter and granddaughter, watching a good story, lots of action and adventure and a little surprise at the end of the credits. Laughing is just the medicine we needed and thanks to a stellar cast for giving us such a cool afternoon at the movies.

In the end – adventures is real but heroes are not!


FANTASTIC BEASTS: The Secrets of Dumbledore

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres from director David Yates and Warner Bros. Pictures are secrets revealed with FANTASTIC BEASTS: The Secrets of Dumbledore.

It is 1932 China and Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) has arrived to help the magical creature Qilin have her baby. In his moment of joy, it is all interrupted by Credence (Ezra Miller) and a group of Grindelwald’s (Mads Mikkelsen) lackeys. Trying to save the baby Qilin, Newt is attacked, and the newborn is taken from him. What the attackers do not know is that there was a second Qilin born and now Newt must hide it. 

Dumbledore (Jude Law) calls upon Newt for help as he is unable to stop Grindelwald because of a blood-pact between them. Also being recruited is Theseus (Callum Turner), Lally Hicks (Jessica Williams), Yusuf Kama (William Nadylam) and the return of Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler) who is still pining for Queenie (Alison Sudol). 

Each has a role to play, and it begins with Yusuf turning up at Grindelwald’s hide out which will not be hidden for long. The International Confederation of Wizards has acquitted Grindelwald of all the crimes he committed. Using the Qilin’s blood, now he can see what Dumbledore is planning and how to stop it.

As Newt, Theseus, Lally and Jacob go to Germany things get out of hand when Jacob has a bit much to drink and is still upset that Queenie has gone to the dark side. Starting a ruckus, it becomes clear that the news will spread that there was an assassination attempt by the muggle Jacob! Also, Theseus is taken into custody as things get more complicated. Grindelwald sends Credence to defeat Dumbledore who tries to explain to the young man that he has not been told the truth.

Dumbledore gives the next assignments that first they must rescue Theseus and then make their way to Bhutan where the new Supreme Mugwump will be elected. In order to get close to Grindelwald, a diversion is created allowing Newt to tell everyone what Grindelwald has done. In anger, Grindelwald tries to hurt his protégé, but Albus and his brother Aberforth (Richard Coyle) are not going to allow it. 

It is time to put everything right in the wizarding world!

Law returns as Dumbledore and per his usual habits, he is playing a game of wizard chess of his very own. He can not go against Grindelwald due to the blood-pact, but he certainly has no problem going around it all. All along he has trusted Newt with his plans and this time around is no exception. Law gives us a straightforward Dumbledore, a younger version of the character we all have come to love and does it with finesse and wonderment. 

Redmayne as Newt is back with his love of creatures great and small and, at the same time, has full trust in what Dumbledore is trying to accomplish. Newt knows that if Grindelwald is not stopped, the wizarding world as well as the muggle world will collide in the most brutal way. Newt is smart, vulnerable and a loyal friend to all who truly come to understand him. Redmayne has given us such an amazing character who believes in doing ‘what is right instead of what is easy’.

Mikkelsen as Grindelwald has had the very difficult task of bringing a second life to this character. I have been a fan of Mikkelsen as far back as I can remember and have always been fascinated by the roles he chooses. Coming into the skin of Grindelwald works because he has the unique ability to be a villain without it needing costuming or grandness. Do not get me wrong, if grand is necessary, he can do that too! 

Fogler as Jacob is the muggle who might hesitate for a second to rejoin the fight against Grindelwald and for very Queenie reasons. Yet, when Dumbledore calls, Jacob knows there is going to be all sorts of goings on. I love this character because Fogler makes him what we all hope we would be - a good muggle friend. Sudol as Queenie returns, and her presence is a distraction for Jacob as Grindelwald keeps an eye on her. The truth she knows is the truth she tells – well sort of.

Turner as Theseus is now seeing the other side of the wand and the struggles his brother has faced. Now part of the fight, Turner gives his character the fighting spirit against Grindelwald. Williams as Lally is smart, wickedly quick and trusts Dumbledore implicitly which makes her a force to be reckoned with. Williams is absolutely lovely. Nadylam as Yusuf has one of the hardest tasks, being in the presence of Grindelwald and becoming part of his force. Well done Nadylam because going into any lion’s den is not easy, going into the wizard’s den takes guts!

Miller as Credence has the saddest role of them all. He believes Grindelwald and uses his anger to fight everything Dumbledore stands for. It takes wand vs. wand in order to learn what he needs to. Miller is the dark wizard, yet he reminds me so much of Severus Snape and that is a compliment to Miller even if it did make me a bit sad.

Other cast include Katherine Waterston as Tina Goldstein, Poppy Corby-Tuech as Vinda Rosier, Maja Bloom as Carrow, Paul Low-Hang as Zabini, and Wilf Scolding as Frank Doyle.

Warner Brothers is home to one of the most successful collections of brands in the world and stands at the forefront of every aspect of the entertainment industry from feature film, television and home entertainments with worldwide distribution to DVD and Bluray, animation, comic books, videogames and broadcasting. For more please visit www.warnerbros.com.

FANTASTIC BEASTS: The Secrets of Dumbledore is the film that unravels mysteries, bands people together for the good of both the wizarding world and the muggle world. Fighting against a force that only wants to destroy, Dumbledore brings together the brightest and most loyal to help him stop the madness.

What I loved also about the film are the little, subtle pieces in the film. From seeing Hogwarts again which made my heart thump an extra beat, to the seeker, markings on the Tibetan wheel and so many more. See if you can find them yourself because it is so much fun.

The cinematography is once again grand in a way that it adds so much to the story. The CGI is what you would expect of the wizarding world and the soundtrack is memorable. All of this brings the viewer (and fans) back into this special place that has captured the worlds attention since the beginning. Get your wands ready!

In the end – return to the magic!


​FIREBIRD

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres from writer/director Peeter Rebane and Roadside Attractions is a story of war and the complication of relationships in FIREBIRD.

It is the 1970’s on a Soviet Air Force Base and friends Sergey (Tom Prior) and Luisa (Diana Pozharskaya) are training on the same base. Sergey is looking forward to the time when his military service ends. That is until he meets Roman (Oleg Zagorodnii), a fighter pilot and the two become friends. Getting to know one another, it becomes clear each wants more.

As their relationship get serious, a report is made and now they know that their lives are in jeopardy. Luisa moves on to the job of secretary to the base commander Col. Kuznetsov (Nicholas Woodeson) and it is he who tries to put a stop to the story. When Sergey’s service is over, he hopes to continue the relationship with Roman, but it is brought to an end.

Leaving, Sergey goes to a performing arts college and starts a life away from both Roman and Luisa. He is surprised to learn that the two are getting married! At the wedding, Roman tries to explain himself but Sergey only knows that their feelings have not changed, and their connection is still strong.

A few years later Roman finds out he has a chance to get away for training, he tells new wife Luisa and their child it will be a few months. Roman goes to Sergey at the theatre where he is performing with the news and a chance for them to spend time away without anyone getting in the way.

When Luisa discovers what has happened the risks are even higher especially with a KGB investigation. Now the danger means choices have to be made and the repercussions are devastating. 

Prior as Sergey is a young man doing his required military service and looking forward to what he really wants and that is to be an actor. The only thing that keeps him grounded in finishing is his friendship with Luisa and getting to know Roman. That’s where things get complicated in a country that would rather see the two men punished for their feelings. Prior is strong in this role but does not lose himself in emotions. So well done!

Zagorodnii as Roman is a dashing and handsome pilot who is quickly taken with Sergey. He may know how to navigate a jet but when it comes to living in a country that will not accept the choice of who a person loves, that is more than he can handle. Trying to keep it together, he eventually has no choice but to break things off and do what he is told. Zagorodnii gives his character the pain of following his heart or following the rules. 

Pozharskaya as Luisa is thrilled that she is marrying Roman, and they quickly start a family. Her job now is to be a good wife and mother. That becomes difficult when he starts to pull away from her and refuses to recognize the pain he is causing her. Pozharskaya is a lovely character who is also trying to make her way and Roman’s lies are destruction. 

Other cast include Jake Henderson as Volodja, Margus Prangel as Major Zverev, Ester Kuntu as Masha, Kaspar Velberg as Selenov, Sergei Lavrentyev as Professor, Markus Luik as Sgt. Janis, Anatoli Tafitsuk as Ivan, Henessi Schmidt as Olga, Kaie Korb as Anna, Deni Alasaniya as Ilya, Jonathan Tupay as Sergey Jr., and Nils Mattias Steinberg as Karamazin. 

Roadside Attractions has, since 2003, grossed over $300M and garnered nineteen Academy Award nominations. They have had critical and commercial hits such as MANCHESTER BY THE SEA, BEN IS BACK, BEATRIZ AT DINNER, HELLO MY NAME IS DORIS, WINTER’S BONE and THE COVER as well as so many others. For more information of what Roadside Attractions has to offer please visit www.roadsideattractions.com.

The film premiered at the BFI Flaire: London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival, the Moscow International Film Festival, Frameline: San Francisco International LGBTQ+ Film Festival, Durban International Film Festival, Outfest Los Angeles LGBTQ Film Festival, and the Hong Kong Lesbian & Gay Film Festival.

FIREBIRD is a beautiful story set in a country that can be as unforgiving as its weather. Sergey and Roman are caught in a time where one slip out of turn is bad enough but for two men who care for one another, there is nothing that can save them. One step at a time in their relationship brings them closer and closer to a dangerous edge.

Set in the backdrop of a very straight forward military and a war, the story brings in even more depth. The cinematography and costuming are a quiet fourth character in this three-way relationship of the heart. From beginning to end it is a story worth every frame of film and beautifully done.

In the end – it is a fight for love!




They are Running Away From THE AVIARY

Jeri Jacquin

Coming from directors Chris Cullari, Jennifer Raite, Saban Films and Paramount Pictures is the story of escaping a nightmare created in THE AVIARY. 

Running across the New Mexico desert is Jillian (Malin Akerman) and Blair (Lorenza Izzo) who are escaping from a cult known as Skylight. Leader Seth (Chris Messina) has brought fear to the women as they try and navigate with a map taken from their home. 

There are problems almost immediately as they try to navigate as it appears they are going in circles. With minimal food and water, Blair twisting her ankle slows them down even more. Jillian sets up a place for Blair to rest while she heads up a hill to get a better look. Almost immediately she sees something that does not make any sense.

What Jillian does not know is that Blair also sees something that does not make any sense. This is where the tension between the two women begin. They start talking about Seth and what he is capable of and their worry for friend Delilah (Sandrine Holt). More importantly, both women have secrets that they are keeping from one another.

As they walk goes on, so does the frightening visions each of the women are having which makes them not want to trust one another. As if a miracle, they discover a camper with food and water. Jillian discovers there is power in the camper and hooks up a computer taken from Seth when they escaped.

What she discovers changes everything!

Ackerman as Jillian is straight forward and the stronger of the two women. She is consistently propping up Blair trying to get her as far away from Seth as possible. Akerman’s character is put to the test physically and emotionally trying to decern between the reason she left and what keeps trying to pull her back. That being said, Ackerman gives us a strong performance.

Izzo as Blair wants to get away from Seth for more reasons than just the way Seth treats people at Skylight. It is interesting that this character does not hesitate to call out Jillian’s imperfections or reasons for leaving the group but hides what she knows and what she has seen. Izzo gives us a complex character until the complexities are made known.  

Saban Films was launched in 2014 and has built an impressive slate of high-quality feature films distributed with partner Lionsgate. Focusing on talent-driven films, the company looks at projects in all stages of production to be released across multiple platforms. Films such as SISTER OF THE GROOM, FATMAN and BREACH are part of the wonderful Saban slate, and more information can be found at www.sabanfilms.com.

Paramount Pictures is the longest operating and remaining major studio in Hollywood that has been on the ground floor of every major development in film. From the advent of motion pictures to the emergence of television, through the digital revolution, Paramount Pictures has been there. During our 100-year history, we have served as the production site for thousands of notable movies and television shows. For more please visit www.paramountstudios.com.

THE AVIARY is a look into how these two women were each affected by a society created and led by a cult leader. Each of the women had different experiences and through their conversations tried to explain why they were even at Skylight in the first place. Blame is thrown out and secrets slowly begin to creep out.

The results are surprising, and the ending is shocking.

In the end – believing is deceiving!


​He Sacrifices All for GOLD

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres from director Anthony Hayes and Saban Films is the story of a world gone haywire but still knows the value of GOLD.

In the future, the world has turned into one big dustbowl, so much so that people are trying to find work and a place to survive. Arriving to report to the Compound, Virgil (Zac Efron) waits to be taken to his new home. Pulling up with an attitude is Keith (Anthony Hayes) who makes it clear that the ride will cost him and do not mess with the air conditioning.

Wanting a little conversation, Keith asks a few questions and Virgil is not to forthcoming with answers. It is clear from his demeanor that he would just prefer to be left alone. Stopping for the night by campfire, Virgil learns that the desert is filled with noises and hungry dogs.

Driving the next day so Keith can sleep, Virgil is not happy about the heat that is taking over the car and does the one thing he was asked not to – turned up the air conditioning. Keith is furious and the two are on the side of the road waiting for everything to settle down. Virgil walks around but notices something sticking out of the ground – a huge piece of gold.

Keith knows someone with an excavator and Virgil agrees to stay with their find. It may take days, so the antsy Keith gives him a few hints on how to stay alive until he gets back. That’s when things get interesting as Virgil fights each day and each night with very little food and very little water.

Now, Virgil is up against nature and the will to survive for a piece of gold!

Efron as Virgil is a very quiet person who is not interested in talking about where he came from or what has happened to him. His time in the desert is excruciating to watch and a bit frustrating as I found myself yelling at the screen. That being said, Efron has to use emotions, dead eye and body language to tell us everything we need to know about his character. He gives a strong performance about survival and a kind of greed that cannot be easily defined.

Hayes as Keith cannot believe that Virgil is in the territory a day and he makes the find that is truly unbelievable. Agreeing to help dig it out, he tries to stay in contact with Virgil as the days stretch out and will not take any interference with their find. Hayes gives us a creepy character that clearly is only interested in himself and that makes his performance successful.

Shout out to Susie Porter who plays ‘The Stranger’ because she is strong and does not take anything from someone scavenging in her area. I loved her performance and saw her as a way for Virgil to survive and yet, he chose wrong.

Saban Films was launched in 2014 and has built an impressive slate of high-quality feature films distributed with partner Lionsgate. Focusing on talent-driven films, the company looks at projects in all stages of production to be released across multiple platforms. Films such as SISTER OF THE GROOM, FATMAN and BREACH are part of the wonderful Saban slate, and more information can be found at www.sabanfilms.com.

GOLD is an interesting film because it is centered around a future that is environmentally broken but then again, so are the people trying to survive. Efron is the epitome of a broken human being arriving in a barren place believing this is all he entitled to for life. Finding the gold, it is as if something awakens in him, the world as it once was – greedy.

Yet, his greed seemed based in survival knowing there could be something better, but his buddy Keith is that kind of character that does not care about anything but maybe living the high life. Watching Efron go into frightening depths of a life shrinking further and further away, when challenged, it is the gold that snaps him back into survival mode.

This film is definetly one that is worthy of conversation for those who see it because I can guarantee everyone will experience something different – but the main topic will be the GOLD.

In the end – for everything he will do anything!


The Songtress ALINE

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres from writer/director Valerie Lemercier, Canal+, and Roadside Attractions is the fictional story of a songbird named ALINE.

Aline Dieu (Valerie Lemercier) is a young 12-year-old girl in a family of fourteen children living in 1960’s Quebec, Canada. Watched over by protective parents Sylvette (Danielle Fichaud) and Anglomard (Roc Lafortune), they also know their daughter is something special. A person who has taken notice is agent Guy-Claude (Sylvain Marcel) who sees the potential of the voice.

As they begin to make their rounds through television shows and venues, Aline finds herself growing up in the spotlight and growing fond of Guy-Claude. By the time she turns 20, she has decided that their age difference of twenty-six years does not matter. As success turns into worldwide success, Aline tries to balance her life between family, marriage and performing.

Finally able to marry Guy-Claude, her next challenge becomes having a family of her own. Once Aline gets a residency in Las Vegas, she tries to do a balancing act with everything in her life. That becomes even more complicated when Guy-Claude becomes seriously ill and life changes once again.

Where she finds solace is in the music. 

Lemercier as Aline does the magical cgi act of going from Aline as a very young girl to a grown up and all while personally being in her mid-50’s. An impressive feat, it allows Lemercier to completely become Aline with no distractions or waiting for her character to grow. There are moments when I can see that the change needs a little tweaking but its easy to fall into the rhythm of the story.

Marcel as Guy-Clause is the Svengali convincing Aline’s parents that he can do right by the young singer and the entire family in fact. Falling in love with her becomes the second stage of their relationship but once Guy-Clause and Aline are together, Marcel melds into that part of the relationship with ease and with love.

Fichaud as Sylvette, Aline’s mother, has no trouble saying what she feels regarding just about another concerning her family. A tigress protecting her singing cub, she makes it clear after realizing her struggle to stop Aline’s feelings for Guy-Clause is not helping anything. In fact, it causes strife, especially when mostly everyone in the family works for Aline. Fichaud is a winner here and I just loved her performance.

Lafortune as Anglomard, Aline’s father, has nothing but pure pride for his daughter and what she accomplishes. Caring for the very large family, he does see the beauty in the family’s youngest child and what she can accomplish. Lafortune gives us such an endearing father figure that it could quite possibly make the rest of us jealous!

Other cast includes Antoine Vezina as Jean-Bobin Dieu, Pascale Desrochers as Pascale Dieu, Jean-Noel Broute as Fred, Sonia Vachon as Martine Leveque, Alain Zouvi as Docteur Lablanchette, Victoria Sio as the voice of Aline. 

Roadside Attractions has, since 2003, grossed over $300M and garnered nineteen Academy Award nominations. They have had critical and commercial hits such as MANCHESTER BY THE SEA, BEN IS BACK, BEATRIZ AT DINNER, HELLO MY NAME IS DORIS, WINTER’S BONE and THE COVER as well as so many others. For more information of what Roadside Attractions has to offer please visit www.roadsideattractions.com.

ALINE is falls into the category of a biopic but also is written by Lemercier with musical numbers along the way. Lemercier gives Aline humor and consideration toward playing the role of someone that closely resembles a world-wide phenomenon. Nothing wrong with that if you do it right and Lemercier seems aware of how to do just that.

The cast supports her amazingly well, it is an easy fit with every character that comes on screen. Even when there is conflict, it is Lemercier’s rendition of Aline that finds a way to make it all work, even if sometimes it goes against what she really wants. 

There is two hours and eight minutes of a path that goes from a very young girl to a woman who could never imagined that one day she would perform before millions.

In the end – it is in the power of love!

​It is a Story of Life and Love on a MOTHERING SUNDAY

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres from director Eva Husson and Sony Pictures Classics comes a story of the heart and a life with MOTHERING SUNDAY.

Jane (Odessa Young) is a young woman working as a maid in 1924 England for Mr. Godfrey Niven (Colin Firth) and his wife Clarrie (Olivia Colman). On this particular morning, Mr. Niven is giving Jane the day off since they are meeting with the Hobdays for a day outing. Quickly she receives a telephone call from Paul Sheringham (Josh O’Connor) to come and see him. 

It quickly becomes clear that there is a romantic relationship between Jane and Paul, but he knows that the family will not allow him to marry her. Trying to enjoy their time together, that one thing is hanging over their head. They do not have a lot of time together because Paul should be at the outing with family.

When Paul leaves Jane at the house, she lounges eating and looking at the house until it is time to come home. She is met at the door by Mr. Niven who has tears in his eyes and news that changes their lives. 

Years ahead, writer Jane Fairchild is in love with Donald (Sope Dirisu) who loves that she is a writer. More of a philosopher himself, they share their lives together in that world of the word. Working at a bookstore and given the chance to write something wonderful, her life changes again and again in the most painful but magnificent ways. 

Then again, that is the mystery of life isn’t it?

Other cast include Patsy Ferran as Milly, Emma D’Arcy as Emma Hobday, Simon Shepherd as Mr. Giles Hobday, Caroline Harker as Mrs. Sylvia Hobday, Emily Woof as Mrs. Sheringham, Craig Crosbie as Mr. Sheringham, Albert Welling as Mr. Paxton and Glenda Jackson as Jane Fairchild. 

Sony Pictures Classics brings television, digital content, new entertainment services, independent films and technologies to viewers. Such films as GREED, THE BURNT ORANGE HERESY, THE CLIMB, CHARM CITY KINGS, I CARRY YOU WITH ME and THE FATHER are just a few of the current and upcoming releases. For more information on what Sony Pictures Classics has to offer please visit www.sonyclassics.com.  

MOTHERING SUNDAY film is based on the Graham Smith and not the first book to screen. His works also include WATERLAND, SHUTTLECOCK and LAST ORDERS. 

Young as Jane is just so beautiful not only in character but in her portrayal of this very complex story. She is a young woman in love knowing her station because of her own questionable background. Although the Niven’s obviously care about her, Jane sees there is something so much more waiting for her future, and it takes one event to send her out there to find it. Young gives the viewer all of that and so much more. 

O’Connor as Paul is also a complex character hiding behind the pain of what he wants for himself and what is expected of him by his family. He clearly cares so much for Jane and enjoys being with her to the point that they are both willing to get caught. O’Connor has the unique ability to give his character the face of a tortured man hiding within a well-dressed English gentleman.

Firth as Mr. Niven has clearly had pain within his own family and enjoys having Jane around yet would do nothing to stop her from succeeding in life. It is clear that Niven trusts her and seems a bit curious but never crosses the line to ask. The scene in the car with Jane as they drive back to the house is tissue worthy because it is a car filled to the brim of sadness.

Colman as Clarrie is hiding her own deep family pain. She never really says much to Jane but when she does, the words spoken are like a brick to Jane. I just love Colman and having her with Firth is just delightful and secretly I did want more from her character but when you know the story, you understand.

Dirius as Donald is a man who falls hard for the writer Jane. He wants to know everything and share everything with her. Together they make such a lovely couple and when it is time for them to embrace another impact of life, they do so together and amazingly full of love.

MOTHERING SUNDAY is a period piece and that is right up my genre alley. That being said, it is also a story of love, the class system England of that time, pain, sadness, success and realizations. I started out watching the film sitting up and ended up curled up cuddling a pillow to the very end. That’s how you know I was entirely invested in these characters.

The costuming, cars, cinematography and soundtrack and just so rich adding another layer of texture to this multi-layered emotional story. Who could want anything more from a tale such as this?

In the end – it is Jane’s journey.

She Cannot Outrun the INFINITE STORM

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres from director Malgorzata Szumowska and Bleecker Street is the true story of a life change when she least expects the INFINITE STORM.

Pam Bales (Naomi Watts) is an experienced climber who packs intently to spend the day hiking up Mount Washington, New Hampshire after telling friend Parker (Denis O’Hare). Climbing to the top of a peak, she sees that a blizzard is heading her way and begins to climb down. As the wind picks up, she struggles to stay on her feet but notices a set of footprints that look strangely out of place.

Following each step, it leads her to a man sitting as the storm swirls around him. Dressed in shorts, tennis shoes and nothing to keep him warm. The man refuses to respond to Pam who is yelling over the sound of the wind. Trying to get him covered the best she can with what is in her backpack; Pam struggles to get the man to cooperate.

Giving him the name ‘John’ (Billy Howle), Pam navigates him through the snow as best she can. The storm is relentless, but she knows that if they are both to survive, she must keep John awake and motivated to continue. Even when they are able to stop for moments, Pam realizes that there is something emotionally going on with John.

Finally at the bottom, Pam realizes that her own tragedy has kept her from moving forward and perhaps their journey saved each other!

Watts as Pam has taken the character out of the world and into a life where she does not feel the need to have people around her. Everyone has a past, but Pam has a past filled with a pain that has basically caused her to live a paralyzed life. Hiking in the mountains gives her a reason to steer clear of humanity. The snowstorm and John pushes Watt’s character to remember that life is precious and that even with unforeseeable tragedies, Pam can be part of the world in a wonderful way.  

Howle as ‘John’ is a frozen human during a snowstorm that is equal in emotional and physical pain. Being pushed to survive by a stranger, John fights at every turn making things even more dangerous for both Pam and himself. Howle’s character has his own story to tell yet, like his journey of survival, he will tell it in small steps.

Bleecker Street is a New York City film company that has brought outstanding films to the public. Their library includes TRUMBO, DENIAL, THE LOST CITY OF Z, BEIRUT, HOTEL MUMBAI, ORDINARY LOVE and THE ROADS NOT TAKEN. For more information on the titles from Bleeker Street please visit www.bleeckerstreetmedia.com.

INFINITE STORM is based on the Ty Gagne article High Places: Footprints in the Snow Lead to an Emotional Rescue written about Pam Bales. Joshua Rollins wrote the screenplay based on that article to bring the film to screen.  

Watts turns in a stellar performance as Pam Bales and has proved for the second time in a few weeks that she is perfectly capable of carrying a film on her own. In February she starred in THE DESPERATE HOURS as a mother who is miles from home when her children are in danger and now with INFINITE STORM, she carries the story of a woman who must break away from her past. 

This film is a dual fight for both Pam and ‘John’, the fight for survival against Mother Nature who has her own weather plan and the fight with emotional pain from tragic events in both their lives. The character of Pam is a woman who hikes to not think about it until she is put in a position to ignore her pain any longer, Watts gives us all of that emotion and more.

In the end – the mountain brought them together!

The Words Come from CYRANO

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres this week from director Joe Wright and MGM is a tale of unrequited love all written by the one and only CYRANO.

Roxanne (Haley Bennett) is a lovely young woman living in 17th century France trying to get by. Pushing to win her is De Guiche (Ben Mendelsohn) who is wealthy and could easily solve all of her problems. One night at the theatre, Roxanne sees childhood friend soldier Cyrano (Peter Dinklage) and at the same time locks eyes with the handsome Christian (Kelvin Harrison Jr.).

The problem is Cyrano has been in love with Roxanne for so very long that he only wants her happy. When Roxanne tells him that she has been struck by love for Christian who is a soldier in Cyrano’s regiment, she asks her friend to help keep him safe from the war in France and asks for love letters.

Christian is beside himself realizing he does not have the gift of words like Cyrano. A plan is made that Cyrano would use his words of love to benefit Christian. Also, not wanting to give up on what he thinks he deserves, De Guiche persists in a way that Roxanne must find a way around. When she does, it has serious consequences.

Christian and Cyrano now both have to leave Roxanne to fight for their country and to fight to come home to the woman they both love. 

Dinklage as Cyrano is nothing short of spectacular in this role. He has the humor, the gift of delivering a line that will either make you chuckle, cheer or feel your heart melt into a puddle. He mostly had me at the latter with the relatable feeling of unrequited love that we have all felt at some time in our lives. The ability to write his feeling to her, even though under the guise of Christian, gives him the outlet and still protect the two people he has come to care about. 

Bennett as Roxanne is delightful and looking for someone to love. The clandestine meeting with Christian takes her breath away, and so much so that she enlists her childhood friend to make love happen. Deep down Bennett’s Roxanne already knows Cyrano’s feelings but, as the song she sings professes, she wants more. 

Harrison Jr. as Christian is captivated by Roxanne and wants to keep her close. The problem is that he does not have the eloquence or vocabulary to woo her the way she wants. When Cyrano offers, Christian is hesitant believing it is not right. But to gives Roxanne what she wants most in her heart, he agrees. Harrison Jr. gives Christian the same heart and love as Cyrano which makes these two actors perfect together. 

Mendelsohn as De Guiche is ruthless, unforgiving and believes he is entitled to whatever he wants – especially Roxanne. There is nothing in his character that gives off an air of care and concern for anyone but himself. Mendelsohn is such a versatile actor that can play characters with compassion and characters with evil intent with equal skill.

Other cast include Monica Dolan as Marie, Bashir Salahuddin as Le Bret, Joshua James as Valvert, Anjana Vasan as Sister Claire, Ruth Sheen as Mother Marthe, Mark Benton as Montfleury, Richard McCabe as the Priest, Pater Wight as Ragueneau, Tim McMullan as Jodelet, and Mike Shepherd as Marquis.

MGM is a leading entertainment company focused on the production and global distribution of film and television across all platforms. Owning one of the world’s deepest libraries of premium film and television content and is home to two of the longest-running and most successful film franchise in cinematic history with JAMES BOND and ROCKY. For more please visit www.mgm.com.

CYRANO premiered at the 48th Telluride Film Festival and has 6 award wins and 46 nominations including a nomination for Best Achievement in Costume Design for Massimo Cantini Parrini and Jacqueline Durran. 

What I love about this story is that it is about people and the difference of their insecurities. Roxanne is insecure because she needs something she can not really describe, Cyrano is insecure that he is not worthy of love and Christian is insecure because he does not have the eloquence of words and, dare we add, De Guiche is insecure using power to demand instead of lovingly earned.

Dinklage carries Cyrano with such soulfulness, and I emphatically enjoyed every moment he was on screen. Singing with Bennett in the final scenes is filled with more emotion than my being could handle yet I did not want it to end. 

Set in the backdrop of an uncertain time in French history, everything seems rushed because, as is said, no one is guaranteed tomorrow. These three characters are living for the moment and for the one elusive emotion – a deep abiding love. The story is based on the 1897 Edmond Rostand play Cyrano de Bergerac. 

In the end – have you ever loved someone?

She is Captive on THE LEDGE

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres, Digital and On Demand from director Howard J. Ford and Saban Films comes a climb for survival until reaching THE LEDGE.

Kelly (Brittany Ashworth) and bestie Sophie (Anais Parello) are out in the woodsy mountains to do a little climbing. They meet a band of guys clearly led by Joshua (Ben Lamb) with Reynolds (Nathan Welsh), Nathan (Louis Boyer) and Taylor (David Wayman).

Sitting around the campfire having a few drinks and laughs, things turn serious when Sophie teases Joshua. It is clear he does not find her amusing as a darkness sets over them all. When she goes off, the angry Joshua follows and what happens next is horrendous. Reynolds, Nathan and Taylor are panicked by what has happened and listen to everything Joshua tells them.

Hearing the commotion, Kelly grabs her camera and follows the sounds recording every horrible detail. Joshua hears her and notices the camera yelling for all of them to go after her. Doing her best to get away back to the cabin, she grabs a bag with the camera inside and runs!

Knowing they are only steps away; Kelly does what she knows how to do – climb! Heading up the face of the mountain, she finds a spot that the men cannot get to easily. Settling on a precarious ledge, Joshua is determined to get the camera and does not care who or what he sacrifices to get it.

He did not count on coming up against a strong woman and an immovable mountain!

Ashworth as Kelly is no shrinking violet in this film! Fighting for her life and for the truth about Sophie is all she is concerned with. There is no ego in the mix like those chasing her. Doing what she clearly is good at and has been trained for is what is keeping her on that tiny ledge. I enjoyed her performance if only to see Ashworth’s character was not about to back down AND can climb like a very cute mountain goat. Well done!

Lamb as Joshua is clearly a psychopath immediately into the film. Having total control of those around him, Joshua seems to have made it his life’s work to beat down anyone who gets in his way. Controlling his friends when they know good and well he is insane was the part that had my head shaking. Then again, that’s what you want when playing a character like this and Lamb gave it everything.

Boyer, Welsh and Wayman are the ‘friends’ who continually make excuses and exceptions for Joshua’s behavior. This is a very twisted and dangerous batch of guys who are clinging to a ‘bro code’ out of sheer fear. They know what he is capable of and have experienced it firsthand for years but stopping him is something each of them is unable to do. Going after Kelly is not exactly on their list for an exciting weekend, but neither is dealing with the ugly and frightening Joshua.

Saban Films was launched in 2014 and has built an impressive slate of high-quality feature films distributed with partner Lionsgate. Focusing on talent-driven films, the company looks at projects in all stages of production to be released across multiple platforms. Films such as SISTER OF THE GROOM, FATMAN and BREACH are part of the wonderful Saban slate, and more information can be found at www.sabanfilms.com.

THE LEDGE is a thriller from beginning to end that is a frightening and disturbing cat and mouse game with a mountain between them. Is it perfect? No. Are their things that sort of take the viewer out of the story for moments here and there? Yes. Is there wording that I could have done without. Yes. I have yet to see a film that does not make me want to go ‘huuuuummmmm’.

Once Ashworth’s character Kelly is on the ledge, I am hooked because she is mentally stronger and less likely to fall apart than the disturbingly-nutty counterpart Joshua. Kelly thinks things through, one step at a time and remembers all she has learned about being on the side of a mountain. Joshua makes hasty decisions based on anger that someone has control over the situation and has the camera!

Having the second half of the film focused on the power of the mountain and that becomes the only cinematography that matters. Ropes and ranting are the theme of the rest of the film and the story gives a grand lesson in patience comes to those who can handle being on a ledge.

In the end – do not lose your grip!

There is Fear on THE BURNING SEA

Jeri Jacquin

Coming from director John Andreas Andersen and Magnet comes the story of the continual need for oil and the dangers created from getting it with THE BURNING SEA. 

It is 2019 and in the Norwegian Sea there are platforms spreading over the water that are drilling for oil. Since its beginning in 1969, it has been successful in the original plan. Sophia (Kristine Thorp) and fellow researcher Arthur (Rolf Larsen) created a underwater robotic camera that help search for the missing and check wreckage.

Sophia has a mixture of business and relationship as boyfriend Stian (Henrik Bjelland) and his young son Odin (Nils Olsen). Stian works on platforms but supports Sophia’s work and loves having her as part of his life. When one of the platforms collapse, Sophia and Arthur are brought in to look for survivors, instead they discover a crack in the ocean floor.

When going through the footage they collected, it is clear that the crack is connected, and all of the platforms are in danger. More frightening is that Stian is on one of those rigs. Sophia reaches out to William Lie (Bjorn Floberg) who is in the operations room watching everything to tell him what she has discovered, and that boyfriend Stian is on one of the rigs.

Not seeming interested and refusing to help Stian, Sophia takes matters into her own hands. Arthur agrees to go as well as they make their way to the platform and learn that Lie made a decision that means they are in the path of death.

They now face what is in front of them and what is to come!

Thorp as Sophia is well aware of the dangers of the rigs out in the ocean. Keeping her research on technology that can help in different ways is her focus. That gives her a break from knowing the potential of what could happen to boyfriend Stian. Once the worst begins to happen, Sophia jumps into action and Thorp gives her character what it takes to save lives and bring at least one person home to his son.

Bjelland as Stian knows a few things for sure, he loves his son Odin, loves Sophia and loves his job. He has his priorities straight and, when it comes to saving lives, he jumps into action. Bjelland’s character is not splashy, but he is heroic and that is everything. Olsen as Odin is just as strong as his father as this young actor gives the feeling of strength and hope.

Floberg as Lie is the man making the decisions and it seems he is doing what is best for himself rather than the good of the people on the rigs. Sophia does not see him as an ally at all since Lie has been secretive and shady from the beginning. Floberg does a good job at keeping the audience wondering if he has the same compassion as everyone around him.

Other cast include Anders Christiansen as Navy, Anneke von der Lippe as Gunn, Christoffer Staib as Steina, Ane Skumsvoll as Berit, Cengiz Al as Jaswinder, Renate Hellerud as Renate, and Arild Sondre Sekse as Martin.

Magnet Releasing is a part of Magnolia Pictures that specializes in films from the vanguard of horror, action, comedy, and Asian cinema. It is also the home of classics like Tomas Alfredson’s LET THE RIGHT ON IN, Ti West’s THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL, Andre Ovredal’s TROLLHUNTER, Neil Marshall’s sword and sandals bloodbath CENTURION and Tony Jaa’s ONG BAK trilogy. Recent released include the terrifying anthologies V/H/S and V/H/S/2, Xan Cassavettes’ stylish vampire film KISS OF THE DAMNED, and the sci-fi thriller THE LAST DAYS ON MARS. Upcoming films include Ti West’s THE SACRAMENT and to find out more of what is to come please visit www.magnetreleasingfilms.com.

Norwegian director John Andreas Andersen worked on another one of my favorite disaster films with THE QUAKE. Andersen is making a name for himself in this genre with good story telling followed with sharp cinematography. 

THE BURNING SEA is suspense but with a story about what happened to a country and the year long after affects of this disaster. There is an understandable story here because it has truth in it that environmentalists continually warn of. 

The film does not sugar coat anything in its telling and the cinematographer shows that. Andersen gives us a beginning story of when the rigs came to be and a shoot straight into 2019 and the effects of fifty-year drilling. The action sequences are powerful and large in scope, at least that is what my 75” television shows and it is perfection for a disaster film fan such as myself.

A mixture of truth and consequences are everything in THE BURNING SEA and it is also an action ride from beginning to end. 

In the end – the sea has its own plan!


TED K

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres and Digital from writer/director Ted Stone and Neon is the unnerving story of a man who would becoming known as TED K. 

Ted Kaczynski (Sharlto Copley) was born and raised in Chicago in the early 40’s becoming clear in his early years that he was gifted in mathematics. Graduating high school at the age of 16, he would attend Harvard University receiving a degree in mathematics and even became aa assistant professor for a brief time. 

In 1971, with the help of his older brother David, Ted would build a small cabin in the woods of Montana living without electricity or running water. There he spent his time in the woods but easily became agitated when people, machinery or outsiders in general came to close to him.

When the outside world encroaches and he has had enough, Ted decides it is time to take action. Believing he is right in the actions he has taken; Ted also records his thoughts, explanations and reasons step by step. He begins his path to destruction starting with a mail package bomb and continuing on to more intense explosives.

Reaching out to brother David and his mother to talk only frustrates Ted sending him on an emotional spiral. Adding to that more intrusion from the outside world he begins to write a list of what he sees as problems. 

Believing that here is no more peace in his life, Ted begins a grander plan that rocks the world who cannot begin to understand the man that will be known as the Unabomber.

Copley as Ted is disturbing in his portrayal of a man who lived a quiet life until the world came crashing in around him. Having enough of it all and believing the only way to make a difference is to be louder than the noise around him, Copley is remarkable in his performance as a man bent on destruction. Even the process of changing his characters appearance was so interesting until I jumped back in horror at the steps taken.

This is not an easy role because the portrayal is so dark and complex. If he had been left alone, one has to wonder if he would have simply led his life on the land or would his actions still have come to pass. Copley does not attempt to answer this question but instead give the performance of a man who could not be changed. A strong performance from this actor who still has my hope for DISTRICT 10. 

Other cast include Drew Powell as Tom, Travis Bruyer as Ranger Jones, Wayne Pyle as Psychiatrist Gary Dryce, Tahmus Rounds as tommy Sauerkraut, Amber Mason as Becky, Sal Rendino as Gilbert, Christian Calloway as Tommy, Megan Folsom as Mrs. Hill, Daniel Knight as Bob, and Keith Barber as F.B.I. Agent White. 

Neon is a film production company that is best known for such films as I, TONYA and one of the most incredible Oscar winning film PARASITE. With a total of 12 Academy Award nominations, Neon appeals to audiences that are looking for in-your-face storytelling. For more information, please visit www.neonrated.com.

TED K is the film based on the eccentric dairies and writings to Ted Kaczynski. From 1978 to 1995, bombs were sent all over the country. The FBI could never know where the next bomb would go off and Ted played games leaving false clues making it more difficult to find him. It would be his own brother that would suspect him.

His manifesto Industrial Society and Its Future was printed by The Washington Post saying he believed, “The Industrial Revolution and its consequences have been a disaster for the human race. Arrested in 1996, he was convicted to eight life sentences without the possibility of parole. Ted Kaczynski spent seventeen years terrorizing with every step he took and every fiber of his being.

Director Stone had the difficult job of taking the written words of Ted Kaczynski and putting it on the screen giving it authenticity and believability. This is two hours of a life that did so much damage in 17 years. Yet, Stone has done just that, brought an inside look at a man who believed justified in everything he did. 

TED K has been nominated for Directors Debuts Competition for director Tony Stone at Camerimage, Best Feature at Fantasy Filmfest and Best Film for Tony Stone at the Stockholm Film Festival. 

In the end – it started with wanting peace.

He Lives for SUNDOWN

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres from writer/director Michel Franco and Bleecker Street comes the story of leaving life and family for a little SUNDOWN.

Neil (Tim Roth) is enjoying drinks and sun in Acapulco with family when they receive terrible news from home. Alice (Charlotte Gainsbourg), Alexa (Albertine McMillan) and Colin (Samuel Bottomley) pack up and head to the airport. Neil realizes he can not find his passport and has to return to the hotel while the others fly ahead of him. 

But he does not return to the hotel, instead Neil finds a hotel and finds a chair on the beach – and literally drinks the days away. On the phone he tells Alice everything is being done to get him home and that buys him time. To do what?

He meets shop owner Bernice (Iazua Larios) and they spend their days together just sunning and drinking. Until Alice shows up on the beach demanding to know what Neil has been doing and why. He makes it clear that he has checked out of her life including asking family lawyer Richard (Henry Goodman), the family and everything else – he just wants to be left alone.

Being left alone is going to cost everybody!

Roth as Neil is a man who clearly has checked out of everything. Nothing seems to phase him or cause great distress. He spends his time trying to keep the world at bay and even when it comes calling, he walks away with ease. Roth’s character is full of secrets but as they begin to rise to the surface, we get a consistent performance, and I would expect nothing less.

Gainsbourg as Alice can not understand the way Neil is behaving. She just wants to get him home and realizing he has his own plans, does everything possible to get their life right for her own family. Goodman as Richard is clear about the family and nothing surprises him, well maybe almost nothing surprises him. This lawyer is all about signing and making the stipulations quite clear.

Larios as Bernice is interested in Neil and does not ask to many questions about his life. She enjoys the sun, a few drinks and just being with him. McMillan and Bottomley are relatives that just do not understand, they want to, they just see a man who does not seem to care. 

Bleecker Street is a New York City film company that has brought outstanding films to the public. Their library includes TRUMBO, DENIAL, THE LOST CITY OF Z, BEIRUT, HOTEL MUMBAI, ORDINARY LOVE and THE ROADS NOT TAKEN. For more information on the titles from Bleeker Street please visit www.bleeckerstreetmedia.com.

SUNDOWN is a slow-paced film that asks questions and demands patience to get the answers. When Alice asks the question, “what the f@#k is wrong with you?”, we are already ahead of her. Roth’s Neil does not give up anything and that is probably because the character does not think he has to – for any reason.

None of us could possibly imagine the decisions that this character makes, and irritation easily follows until there is the proverbial ‘oh, I see’ or ‘wow, okay’ follows. There is also irritation in the thought of ‘well, must be nice to sit in a chair all day drinking letting the water wash over your feet’ – now back to irritation no matter what Neil’s reasonings.

So, SUNDOWN just takes the viewer on a roller coaster ride of wanting to understand Neil and then not caring since he does not care but we still want answers. When it all becomes clear, then the process of deciding about Neil comes into play and so does the conversation with others about the film. Yes, it is one to be talked about! 

It is about family, secrets, mystery’s, realities and how far will a family go to change someone who does not want to be changed. 

In the end – his path is his own!

A TASTE OF HUNGER

Jeri Jacquin

Coming from writer/director Christoffer Boe and Magnolia Pictures is life and A TASTE OF HUNGER.

Carsten (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) is an up-and-coming chef looking to open a place of his own someday. He meets a very wild spirited Maggie (Katrine Greis-Rosenthal) and there is an instant connection that not only sparks their love of creating food but a life together.

Opening a restaurant together, the goal becomes beginning the chase of the ever-elusive Michelin star. Years have gone by and now the restaurant is a reality and Carsten is spending lots of time keeping it running smoothly. Maggie is running the household, taking care of daughter Chloe (Flora Augusta) and son August (August Vinkel) and their lives are hectic. 

Working hard, Carsten becomes engrossed in every aspect of being a chef and Maggie sees him begin to push away. Out of frustration, she tries to relive her wild days all in one night, but the consequences are long lasting. It comes about when a mysterious letter arrives for Carsten, but Maggie finds it. 

A few words on paper could destroy the journey to the stars, especially if there are too many chefs in the kitchen!

Coster-Waldau as Carsten is a driven chef and Maggie is his reason for it all. This character gets so wrapped up in a single drive that he forgets love, his family and those who have been there for him. It is a journey of hard lessons and Coster-Waldau makes sure we see every bit of it. The frustration, fear and everything in between.

Greis-Rosenthal as Maggie is drawn to Carsten and discovers they share such a vision together. She is a bit wild and that is an attractant to Carsten. There beginning is so filled with dreams, but Maggie also gets lost along the way. As a wife-mother, Greis-Rosenthal’s character tries to have it all and the ‘all’ goes to far until the consequences come due. 

Augusta as Chloe is a young girl caught up in grown-ups’ games. This young actress shows such believable emotions that she stunned me with her performance. Trying to forgive parents that seem to be going a million miles an hour and are making huge mistakes, it is young Chloe that is keenly aware of it all.

Credit to Charlie Gustafsson as Frederick; a hungry sous chef who wants what he wants and will use people to get it. Frederick takes advantage and Maggie has to set it straight but, a rat is a rat.

Other cast includes Nicolas Bro as Torben, Maj-Britt Mathiesen as Pia, Dag Malmberg as Stellan, Rasmus Hammerich as Frank and Magnus Bruun as Andus. 

Magnolia Pictures is responsible for such releases as SLAY THE DRAGON, JOHN LEWIS: Good Trouble, the crime thriller THE WHISTLERS, documentaries such as THE PIECES I AM and films such as the directorial debut of Italian filmmaker Filippo Meneghetti. For more of what they have to offer please visit www.magpictures.com.

A TASTE OF HUNGER shows its duality from beginning to end. Of course, it is a film about the beauty, brilliance, and hunger of chefs not to mention their struggles to succeed. Constantly having to be more creative, more inventive, and just, well, more – the stakes are extremely high.

The other is the hunger for life, family and love which also includes trying to fill emptiness with whatever looks good to make the pain go away. In this case, both Carsten and Maggie have to decide which beast to feed. More importantly, be willing to accept the consequences when they choose wrong. 

The story of Carsten and Maggie is peppered with all the flavors with bitters mixed in. Beautifully done and lovely to watch, A TASTE OF HUNGER is an amazing piece of storytelling and simplistic filmmaking which made me enjoy it even more.

In the end – prepare your plate with perfection!


THE MATRIX RESURRECTIONS

Jeri Jacquin

Currently on HBO Max and in theatres from director Lana Wachowski and Warner Bros. Pictures is the revival and reveals with MATRIX RESSURECTIONS.

Thomas Anderson (Keanu Reeves) is living in San Francisco working on making video games with partner Smith (Jonathan Groff). Feeling like there is something out of sync with him, Anderson sees an Analyst (Neil Patrick Harris) to keep things on an even keel while taking medication. 

What he does not know is that Bugs (Jessica Henwick) is the captain of the Mnemosyne and feels it is on her to find The One – find Neo. Unexpectedly, she finds a changed Morpheus (Yahya Abdul-Mateen) and is surprised to learn what he has been doing. Along with her crew Shepherd (Max Riemelt), Berg (Brian J. Smith), Lexy (Erendira Ibarra), and Freya (Telma Hopkins), the find Neo.

Anderson has a difficult time accepting everything, especially when Bugs and Morpheus show up with a red pill and blue pill. Anderson remembers Neo but especially remembers his love Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss). Seeing her in a coffee shop, he is upset to learn that the woman’s name is Tiffany, and she is married with children.

Neo decides it is time to follow what has been plaguing him and discovers the deception that has been happening in his life for over sixty years. Seeing Niobe (Jada Pinkett Smith), it all begins to come together as it is time to discover the changes in the Matrix. A woman named Sati (Priyanka Chopra Jonas) has a plan and what it means for Neo, Trinity and all those living in reality.

Reeves as Anderson/Neo is just so damn cool its ridiculous. Returning to his life as Thomas Anderson, he becomes wealthy by creating a video game based on the Matrix. People eat it up but now, Warner Bros. wants more! Not sure he wants to have anything to do with more, Anderson becomes unsure of what is happening to him. Reeves gives us that uncertainty and feeling that there is something else out there. He is and will also be associated with Neo and I am pretty darn okay with that.

Moss as Tiffany/Trinity has the same itch that Anderson/Neo does about something just not being right with their world. The conversation between the two in the coffee shop is just so amazing as it feels like no time has passed between these two characters and their acting to one another. Trinity was already a bad-ass, but now she gets to step up her game.

Henwick as Bugs starts looking for Neo even though she has no permission to do so. Of course, Neo is a legend but that is not why she is trying to find him. Something is wrong and she wants to make sure they find him before he becomes just a memory. Henwick gives her character a strength and tenacity to bring Neo back to ‘us’.

Abdul-Mateen as Morpheus has some of the original Fishburne characteristics but as a changed and younger version, he handles this role with care. It has to be difficult to follow in someone elses’ role but Abdul-Matten slides right in and still gives us Morpheus but with an upgrade as it were. Jonas as Sati gives us another look down matrix-memory lane and has a reason for wanting to help Neo find answers and well as Trinity. She handles this role with grace. 

Smith as Niobe brought her game and I still do not like this character and for all the same reasons. That’s not a bad that, it just shows that Smith could slide back into a role and not skip a beat. Older and still a non-believer, everyone just goes around her orders to do what needs doing until she realizes it better to go along to get along. Groff as Smith is a happy ex-agent who is living in the matrix and enjoying getting to do whatever he wants for who ever he wants. I sort of enjoy that!

Harris as The Analyst wants Anderson to focus on trying to forget about the memories he has and what brought him to therapy in the first place. The problem is that the medications are not working and there is a reason for that. You have to discover that for yourself. I truly enjoyed Harris’ performance and he made it look like so much fun. 

Other cast include Christina Ricci as Gwyn de Vere, Toby Onwumere as Sequoia, Michael X. Sommers as Skroce, L. Trey Wilson as Hanno, Chad Stahelski as Chad and Lambert Wilson as The Merovingian and appearances by Laurence Fishburne as Morpheus, Hugo Weaving as Smith, and Tanveer K. Atwal as Sati.

Warner Brothers is home to one of the most successful collections of brands in the world and stands at the forefront of every aspect of the entertainment industry from feature film, television and home entertainments with worldwide distribution to DVD and Bluray, animation, comic books, videogames and broadcasting. For more please visit www.warnerbros.com.

THE MATRIX RESURRECTIONS gives us a bit of the past with Neo and the present with a possibility of the future of franchise. Just seeing the journey Anderson must go through to believe he is Neo (not so much The One as just Neo) is also a chance for Reeves to expand on his character. When we are introduced to his character in 1999 but it slams into the Matrix pretty quick without us knowing a lot about Thomas Anderson. It is interesting to see him in the un-real world.

It is also cool that they chose to expand Trinity’s storyline as it becomes a huge reason for Anderson to reconnect with Neo. The always were better together than they were apart, so it makes sense. That being said, the twists and turns and unexpected character returns had me pointing and kind of smiling because getting rid of everyone would have really irked me.

In the end – it has been another life beyond The One!

There is Spy Action with THE 355

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres from director Simon Kinberg and Universal Pictures is the story of a drive, world domination and the women who will not let that happen with THE 355.

In Bogata, Columbia, there is a deal being made regarding a drive that is dangerous to the world. When a raid takes place, the drive falls into the hands of DNI Agent Rojas (Edgar Ramirez) and he is now on the run. Contacting the U.S. Government about the drive, CIA officer Mace Browne (Jessica Chastain) and Nick Fowler (Sebastian Stan) are off to Paris to negotiate for the drive.

But chaos breaks out when Rojas runs and someone else joins the mix. German BND agent Marie Schmidt (Diane Kruger) is looking for the same drive but the missions get twisted. Rojas is found by SNI psychologist Garciela (Penelope Cruz) to bring in Rojas. Mace turns to former British MI6 agent Khadijah (Lupita Nyong’o) for her special skills with computers to try and locate who has the drive and where it could be heading.

It forces Mace, Marie, Graciela and Khadijah to join forces using each of their special skills to find the drive leading them to Chinese MSS agent Sheng (Fan Bingbing). At an auction house, the drive is put up for bid but there is more going on than the women could know and betrayal is not far behind.

Chastain as Mace leads the group of women on what should have been a clean sweep in Paris. Joining forces with three other women means they have to always be one step ahead even if they feel one step behind. Chastain’s character is tough but that does not mean her emotional side is hidden – especially when she is looking for her own bit of revenge. 
Nyong’o as Khadijah is savvy, fast and knows exactly what to do to get the job done. Motivated to help her friend Mace, she also becomes motivated but something much more powerful. Nyong’o gives her character tech-savvy that is pretty darn awesome.

Kruger as Marie has a history of being betrayed so it is something that she seems to be use to. She makes it consistently clear that she does not want a partner in anything she does, except now she needs all the women to get this dangerous job done. Kruger is awesome in this role and a chance to see her get tough!
Cruz as Garciela makes it clear from the start that she is a psychologist with the agent in Columbia and not an actual gun-toting agent. Worried about her family as the mission becomes more and more dangerous, something inside Cruz’s character clicks and she does her part to stop the madness. Bingbing as Sheng has a mission of her own and it is never clear what side she is on – until it is time to know it. She is the calm one in the midst of all the chaos and that can be just as powerful as holding a weapon!

Stan as Fowler is an agent that has worked with Mace before and there are subtle hints about the ending of their personal relationship. That does not stop them from being sent to Paris together to find the drive. Things go wrong and become complicated for the two as the world-wide search for the elusive drive begins.

Other cast include Emilio Insolera as the Hacker, Jason Wong as Stevens, John Thompson as Larry Marks, Hiten Patel as Ahmed-Imam, Leo Staar as Grady and Oleg Kricunov as Pyotr Khasanov. 
THE 355 is an action-packed film that keeps the guessing and the jaunt around the world quick and intense. The title of the film is based on Agent 355, a woman spy during the American Revolution who worked for the patriots.

Coming in at 124-minutes, there is no moment of peace as the story plays out from the moment the film opens until it becomes clear who these women truly are. The are up against a world of men who want power and the ability to corrupt but those same men never expected to be up against “a bunch of girls”.

That was their first mistake.

In the end – work together or die alone!

TO WHAT REMAINS

Jeri Jacquin

Currently available in theatres from director Chris Woods and Abramorama is the story of lost and found with TO WHAT REMAINS.

Project Recover is a small group of scientists, oceanographers, archaeologists, historians, researchers, and military veterans who are looking through our vast oceans to recover the remains of more than 80,000 military pilots missing since World War II. 

Using underwater drones and scuba dives, this team travels to beautiful waters to find the sadness of war. Keeping their job in mind, they want to give closure to families and find answers to questions about their missions. The project took many years and TO WHAT REMAINS is a look at the new mission, their findings and bringing the boys home to waiting families. 

Beginning with Dr. Pat Scannon, Founder, BentProp Project and Co-Founder of Project Recover describing a plane found in the ocean and how it looked and what they found. Lt. Col. Casey Doyle of the United States Marine Corps. talks about his grandfather being shot down in September of 1944. Then, in 2004, Dr. Scannon and the Prop crew found his grandfather’s, Ssgt. Jimmie Doyle, plane and his remains were finally home. 
Flip Colmer, Project Recover talks about how Dr. Scannon is determined. US Navy SEAL, Ret. Marcus Luttrell speaks of Dr. Scannon’s intensity going about the work he now finds so important. Knowing that failure is something that may happen, Dr. Scannon says you learn to live with it, move on and keep searching. 

Lt. Doyle tells how his family never talked about his grandfather and how his father grew up with the questions of ‘where is Ssgt. Jimmie Doyle?’. Now, Lt. Doyle knew what he had to do to thank these men – be a part of what they are doing.

Dr. Scannon became obsessed when finding a wing of a plane knowing that if he could find this, he could find so much more. The technology was not what we have today, and it was using eyes and machetes to find these planes in remote locations. MIA (Missing in Action) pilot Lt. Richard Houle is the projects next search and recover. Maps, details, data help these men put their gear on and dive looking for the last known area. Lt. Houle served on the same ship as former President George H.W. Bush. 

After doing his research, Dr. Scannon looked to the reunion of the combat pilots and discovers they have very sharp memories. Lt. Cantrell of the Corsairs Squad is a man who shared that sharp memory. Twenty-year-old young men in the most advanced planes on a landing field 100 yards from the Japanese shooting at them. Taking Cantrell back to Palau, the former pilot admits that he really only saw it all from the air.
That is when they put together the pieces of what happened from not only the pilots but also of the people living in Palau. There were many witnesses still alive to remember what they saw all those years ago. On the dive they did not find a plane, but they did find a ship. It is all a matter of checking off where to go next.

Marcus Luttrell knows what it is like to have men left behind and wanting to go back and get them. He also had the opportunity to talk a man named R.V. Burgin and with those who have served and got to know and become friends with prior Marines. Telling their story about the battle on the Island of Peleliu losing 6,000 men. After the battle, only 85 men survived a thirty-day battle. Yet, these two men talk only of simple things and joys of life.
On another dive for Dr. Scannon, they again did not find Lt. Houle’s plane, but they did find the plane of Lt. William Q. Punnell. Nephew Dennis Kelvie could not believe it when he received a call about his uncle’s remains. That is when the team experiences how MIA families finally have the opportunity to grieve and celebrate the life of someone who had always been a family’s mystery.
Dr. Scannon is looking for three UDT Navy Seals that have been unaccounted for, and this search is on land. Luttrell is with them in Palau in an area they believe through information given to them by village elders who called the missing Seals ‘frogmen’. The painstaking work begins of going through every inch of soil to find any remains. 

The search for Lt. Houle is still on and the divers continue to go down into the mirky waters. Instead, Walter Mintus, gone for seven decades comes home and a community embraces their own. 

Abramorama is the preeminent global theatrical distributions and rights partner for many documentary and music films and is recognized for the consistent high quality of its work on award winning features. Over the course of 20 years, Abramorama has successfully distributed and marketed hundreds of films including Ron Howard’s Grammy Award Winning THE BEATLES: EIGHT DAYS A WEEK, Stanley Nelson’s MILES DAVIS: BIRTH OF THE COOL, as well as Academy Award Nominee and IDA Best Documentary Winner THE LOOK OF SILENCE. For more of what they have to offer please visit www.abramorama.com.

TO WHAT REMAINS is not only the story of Dr. Scannon’s obsession with finding those who were lost in the war. It is also a documentary of the families, friends and loved ones that were left behind. When a person is laid to rest, there is a finality that becomes a part of life but when it is an MIA, there is a constant nagging that accepting a loss is almost impossible. 

The men and women who work with Dr. Scannon also know how these families feel as a few of the volunteers have had their family members found by Dr. Scannon. Taking many of the military men back to Palau and Orange Beach, they re-live moments of their youth but also, like those servicemen are found, they can close a chapter long lived in their lives.

That is amazing, heartbreaking, heartwarming and a look at the life these men lived, the things they have seen, and the friendships made from soldiers then and now.

In the end – their work is not done!

He Wonders About the LAST WORDS

Jeri Jacquin

Currently showing from writer/director Jonathan Nossiter and Bleecker Street is the story of the future and what it means to have the LAST WORDS.

It is 2085 and the world has been destroyed! Kal (Kalipha Touray) is struggling to find food and water for his sister. Every move they make can bring them closer to either dying from malnutrition or at the hands of other people who are also trying to survive. After an attack from survivors, Kal is on the road to find something better.

Trying to find a place to rest, Kal comes across mysterious and frightening noises that send him running. Deciding he wants to confront his fears, he discovers a man named Shakespeare (Nick Nolte) who wants nothing to do with the interloper – at least at that moment. Yet there is something intriguing about Kal and Shakespeare decides to show him what caused the fright.

In the deepest part of the building, Shakespeare shows him the films he has managed to same from the destructive world around them. Kal can not believe what his eyes are seeing and hearing. He wants more and more and soon becomes a quiet roommate who only talks with Shakespeare when the elder gentleman wants to.

But Shakespeare decides it is time for Kal to go but when Kal pushes back, the two end up on the road to Athens to see if there are any others in the world. Once they get there, they are shocked to discover Zyberski (Stellan Skarsgard), Batlk (Charlotte Rampling), Dima (Alba Rohrwacher) and so many more. They have food, water and a view of the ocean that, in post-apocalyptic time might have been awesome.

Bringing the films and parts to build a camera, Kal begins to document living with this group of people with their smiles, stories, and good times in the midst of craziness. That is all about to change and Kal knows that he is the one responsible for documenting everything to, as Shakespeare said, leave behind something wonderful. 

Touray as Kal is stunning, beautiful, with soulful eyes that tell the story from the characters heart and point of view. Trying to survive has one meaning in the beginning but by finding others, surviving becomes something more amazing. His world becomes so much bigger and more colorful with emotions that he takes into the core of his being. That’s what Touray does for this character, and it is mesmerizing.

Nolte as Shakespeare comes from the world prior to it collapsing into dust. He has the memories of a childhood filled with the things we take for granted and the wonderment of singing, dancing and the storytelling that lives in the film cannisters. Nolte has moments of sheer delight sharing time with Kal, and there are moments where the world he created for himself does not have room for anyone else. I just loved watching his character evolve.

Skarsgard as Zyberski is the doctor for all the people that have come together to live in Athens. He takes in Kal and Shakespeare without any question or any conditions. He makes it clear that they all share together, all live together, and he feels a sense of responsibility for all those in his care. Skarsgard is always the stable center of stories he is involved in and in LAST WORDS he does the same, but his character is also unexpected.

Rampling as Batlk is a woman who has made her peace with how they are surviving with a little surprise of her own. I am always thrilled to see Rampling on the screen. Rohrwacher as Dima begins to share feelings with Touray and it is so sweet to watch their characters share in the simple things like the stars. Both of these women bring a sweetness to the rough edges of a futuristic scary world.

Other cast includes Silvia Calderoni, Nicolas Sacrez, Giulio Esposito, Ivan Marzano, Roberta Mattei, Cosimo Desii, Andreina Liotti, Jun Ichikawa, Fiorenzo Madonna, Vincenzo Del Prete, Giovanni Trono, Maryam d’Abo and Osemwenoghogho Wilfred.  

Bleecker Street is a New York City film company that has brought outstanding films to the public. Their library includes TRUMBO, DENIAL, THE LOST CITY OF Z, BEIRUT, HOTEL MUMBAI, ORDINARY LOVE and THE ROADS NOT TAKEN. For more information on the titles from Bleeker Street please visit www.bleeckerstreetmedia.com.

LAST WORDS is a beautiful look at relationships when they are stripped of everything but humanity. There are those in the world who have turned to very frightening ways to survive, but when Kal and Shakespeare find one another, it becomes clear that being alone is not always the answer.

I loved every scene that Nolte and Touray have together as they get to know one another and Shakespeare lights up when given the opportunity to teach Kal everything he knows about film. Kal also is a teacher in helping to release Shakespeare’s need to feel that being alone is the only way avoid pain.

Mix in Skarsgard and Rampling and you have such a wonderful cast telling a story that has lived life their way and on their terms.

In the end – he is about to experience life in the midst of destruction! 

He has the Howl of a WOLF

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres from writer/director Nathalie Biancheri and Focus Features is the story of the struggle being yourself, even if yourself is a WOLF.

Jacob (George MacKay) is a young man with species dysphoria, an illness that human beings have when they believe they are an animal trapped in a human body. Jacob believes he is a wolf, so his distraught mother and father take him to a clinic to get help.

Immediately Jacob comes into contact with others like him. Young people who are birds, horses, dogs and cats being treated by The Zookeeper (Paddy Considine) to help them shed their animalisms. Convincing parents this is the place for their children, what the parents do not know is the methods The Zookeeper uses.

Jacob tries to keep his wolf side at bay but by night, he tries to find a way outside to let out what is screaming inside him. He meets Wildcat (Lily-Rose Depp), a young woman who has been at the clinic for some time with her cat side. The two become friends as they explore ways to be themselves without watchful eyes and Wildcat just happens to have a few keys.

They both watch other kids around them go through the fear of the clinic and when Jacob is caught, he lets out what is inside him. The Zookeeper knows just what to do when that happens. Now locked up, he must rely on help from Wildcat if he is ever to find his way into the world and live as he wishes to.

MacKay as Jacob was perfectly cast for not only his ability to show very little emotion to things happening around him but the physical stealth when allowing the wolf side to show. From the painful vocals of an animal trapped to the anger as well, MacKay’s portrayal of his character may be docile on the outside, but it is what is inside they should stay away from. The anger is not based on anything other than mistreatment of others and wrongs by human beings.

Depp as Wildcat is equally as physically stealthy, and she sees something in Jacob that touches him. Although she is in somewhat the same boat as Jacob, there is something more about her character that I wish had been explored more. There are hints at it, but it is never brought out clearly. Depp as Wildcat gives her performance dark side a chance to come to the light. 

Considine as The Zookeeper is a man on a mission to cure what “ails” the kid, but the problem is he is horrible at it. I do not know where he got his training because it is clear he is more concerned with being cruel than curing. Coming face to face with some of the kids, he uses the verbal beat down to get their attention, but Jacob only bends and refuses to break.

Other cast includes Lola Petticrew as Parrott, Terry Notary as Lion Man, Fionn O’Shea as German Shepherd, Senan Jennings as Duck, Helen Behan as Jacob’s Mom, Karise Yansen as Annalisa, Amy Macken as Ola, Darragh Shannon as Jeremy, Mary Lou McCarthy as Shepherd’s Mom, Collen Keogh as The Zookeepers Assistant, Elsa Fionuir as Horse and Leo Hanna as Almost Out. 

Focus Features’ mission is to make a lasting impact on global audiences by creating the home for artists to share diverse, distinctive stories that inspire human connection. Focus Features is part of NBCUniversal, one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies that brings entertainment and news to a global audience. For more of what they have to offer please visit www.focusfeatures.com.

The film reminds me a bit of the 1982 film CAT PEOPLE, which is high on my list of strange, unusual and I would see again and again type films. There is the ‘cat like’ movements in the film that are visually stunning, and WOLF has the same affect bringing the viewer in with brilliant moves. 

WOLF can be understood on a few different levels. First, it is about these kids who are different than others but instead of understanding them, their parents choose to be mortified and want to hide them. Believing it is something ‘curable’, they entrust their child to a clinic and walk away.

Second, it could be seen as a double bit of cruelty to humans and ‘animals’. The Zookeeper will do anything to get results which includes treating the kids in ways that make him more of an animal than the kids/animals. Finally, it is a story about kids who just want to be accepted by the adults who are supposed to love them unconditionally. Their differences are not worthy of what is happening to them.

All that being said, I truly wish the story had been explored more. The Jacob and the other kid/animals have such a deep story to tell, and the film just lays on the surface instead of going to the depths that would have made the film even more intense. Jacob shows us a bit of what it is like to be him, and I thought to myself that there was so much more to explore about his emotional and physical process. 

WOLF is a film filled with so many different directions but the main one is that these kids believed in who they are even if no one else does. That is a powerful statement and one that has become so in recent years.

In the end – they want too just be!

INDIA SWEETS AND SPICES

Jeri Jacquin

Coming from writer/director Geeta Malik and Bleeker Street is the story of going home to INDIA SWEETS AND SPICES.

Ending the school year Alia Kapur (Sophia Ali) is dreading going home to her Indian family. Not home five minutes before dad Ranjit (Adil Jussain) suggests she help at his clinic and mom Sheila (Manisha Koirala) tells her it would be rude not to go to a family gathering. The only one she really wants to see is bestie Neha (Anita Kalathara). Going around the room serving samosas, she gets a peak back into the home gossip.

The next day mom Sheila sends Alia to the store and there she meets Varun (Rish Shah) who are the new owners of the grocery story. Mom wonders why she would do that and now her nerves on edge. The night of the party, Varun and his family arrive, and they feel a tad out of place. What makes it more interesting is that Varun’s mother Bhairavi (Deepti Gupta) went to college with Sheila.  

Immediately they are all uncomfortable but there is obviously a story between Sheila and Bhairavi. The other aunties cuddle up to her to get any information they can about the situation. Rahul (Ved Sapru), Vahru and Alia watch the adults dancing but its what they see at the top of the stairs that is not worth dancing about.

Alia can not seem to get past it, Rahul wants to act like nothing is happening and Vahru just wants to be supportive as much as he can. Each gathering brings the secret out more and more because the Aunties can not stop talking about it!

Ali as Alia is a young woman who has a life off at college but when the real-world hits back home, she must learn about the past in order to understand. 

Koirala as Sheila is a woman who has gone in the opposite direction of the life she once knew. There is so much in her past that is now coming out and she continues to act as if she is embarrassed. Koirala is beautiful in playing the role of a woman who comes from a difficult culture. Gupta as Bhairavi is a woman who has stayed to true to herself. Imagine her surprise at seeing Sheila again and the second surprise at seeing her be someone completely different.

Shah as Varun is a young man who helps his parents with their store and is ready to go to university himself. There is an attraction between he and Aila that is lovely as they learn there is more to their parents than they could have imagined.

Jussain as Ranjit is a bit of a narcissist and does not seem to understand why his family is having difficulty. He is the cause and does nothing to fix it. Sapru as Rahul also does not seem to want to deal with the issue. He plays the game just as good as the others in the community.


Other cast include Christina Burdette as Mindy, Kamran Shaikh as Kamlesh as Dutta, Richa Chandra as Swati, Thomas Kasp as Sterling, Moses Das as Nitin Varma, Raj Kala as Gurvinder Singh, Krishna War as Shilpa, Ashritha Kancharla as Reema and Rupal Pujara as Bina.

Bleecker Street is a New York City film company that has brought outstanding films to the public. Their library includes TRUMBO, DENIAL, THE LOST CITY OF Z, BEIRUT, HOTEL MUMBAI, ORDINARY LOVE and THE ROADS NOT TAKEN. For more information on the titles from Bleeker Street please visit www.bleeckerstreetmedia.com.

INDIA SWEETS AND SPICES is a story of family and the pasts that parents have that their children have no clue about. It is also a story about the culture Aila and Varun’s family, but they are not so different than our own. We all have our shortcomings and images that we do not realize until too late that it has a ripple effect.

The story of each of these main characters are presented because it is time for the past to be forgiven, the present to be celebrated and the future to be whatever it will be. In the mix are the rich traditions of the Indian community filled with food, aunties and everything that comes with it. I love that about this film.

In the end – let the aunties talk!


THE ELECTRICAL LIFE OF LOUIS WAIN

Jeri Jacquin

Coming from writer/director Will Sharpe, writer Simon Stephenson and Amazon Original Films is the unique story with THE ELECTRICAL LIFE OF LOUIS WAIN.

Louis (Benedict Cumberbatch) is an Edwardian artist and illustrator living in London who can in a moment’s notice create art work drawings of animals. Taking care of his sisters, he has to deal with the bossy and emotionally undermining sister Caroline Wain (Andrea Riseborough). When Sir William Ingram (Toby Jones) offers Wain a position of illustrating for his paper.

Accepting the position, he has time for little else. When governess Emily (Claire Foy) becomes part of the very busy household, it is the first time that Louis feels something so strong for someone outside his family. His world changes when he decides to marry the lovely Emily and they move into the country to be together.

Still taking care of his family in the city, Louis is continually working. When he and Emily discover a young kitten in their garden and name it Peter, something wonderful begins to happen. Louis finds inspiration and everything changes as the drawings become an instant sensation.

When Emily becomes ill, his life shifts once again. The emotional turmoil sends Louis through a period where nothing feels right. Even his theory about electricity going from person to person transforming them was not helping him or his sister who is eventually confined to an asylum. 
His own personal spiral is filled with pain, anguish and cats.

Cumberbatch as Wain manages to, with ease, give his character the right amount of innocence mixed in the emotional instability. The pressures of being entirely responsible for a family, it is clear that there were issues in the family as seen with his own sister. When Cumberbatch is on the screen with Foy, something amazing happens. There is a spark that is joyous because Wain had the one thing he did not get at home – love and acceptance.

Foy as Emily is delightful, pragmatic and knows exactly what it is that her husband needs in the way of support. There life away from his family is filled with smiles, love and even laughter, especially when a little ball of fuzz makes its way into their lives. Treating Percy like a child, they lavish all the love and affection parents would. 

Riseborough as Caroline has emotional issues of her own ranging from anger at her brother’s lack of financials to anger of his marriage to Emily and just general unhappiness with life. Consistently putting pressure on Louis, Riseborough does not pull any punches in her performance to the point of even having me wide eyes and jaw dropped. 

Other cast include Jamie Demetriou as Richard Woodville, Indica Watson as young Felcie, Cassia McCarthy as young Claire, Sophia Di Martino as Judith, Taika Waititi as Max Kase, Dorothy Atkinson as Mrs. DuFrayne, Nick Cave as H.G. Wells, Daniel Rigby as Bendigo, and Oliva Colman as the Narrater.

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.

Wain did not only do drawings of cats, he also did country scenes and drew for Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News to The Illustrated London News. It was in 1886 that the later published a drawing called “A Kittens’ Christmas Party”. Over his lifetime he would illustrate children’s books and did work for magazines, papers and postcards.

Cumberbatch is able to capture the financial problems that Wain had throughout his life. Constantly exploited, he was unaware of the financial losses he would take because of no copyright. Even going to the United States, he was met with an audience who did not understand his way of thinking.

Eventually he would be hospitalized where he would spend his days trying to find the peace that had avoided him in life. H. G. Wells said, “he has made the cat his own. He invented a cat style, a cat society, a whole cat world. English cats that do not look and live like Louis Wain cats are ashamed of themselves.”

THE ELECTRICAL LIFE OF LOUIS WAIN is beautiful done with costuming and set designs that adds to the story. Cumberbatch gives the performance of a man who had an amazing and stunning talent but hindered by a condition that clearly could not be accurately diagnosed or treated correctly. 

Adding Foy into the mix, even if her performance could be considered brief, gives us a look at the life Wain could never have imagined for himself. These two on screen brought a chemistry that is mesmerizing to watch. 

For anyone who knows the work of Wain or even loves cats – just remember that this is the man responsible for giving cats a homelife, for becoming more than mice catchers but instead becoming furry and purring members of our families. 

In the end – he saw something no one else did.


Game, Set and Match Goes to KING RICHARD

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres and HBO Max from Warner Bros. and director Reinaldo Marcus Green is the story of a father who wants nothing but the best for his children with KING RICHARD.

It is the 1990’s when Richard Williams (Will Smith) and wife Oracene (Aunjanue Ellis) are raising their five daughters in Compton, California. Making it constantly clear that he has a 78-page plan for his daughters’ lives, he is working with Venus (Saniyya Sidney) and Serena (Demi Singleton) on their tennis skills.

Knowing it is getting time to reach out for coaching, Richard turns to Paul Cohen (Tony Goldwyn), the man responsible for the likes of Pete Sampras in the tennis world. After seeing them hit a few balls, Cohen agrees to take on Venus but can not take Serena. Richard begins recording everything for Serena to see and use.

When the time comes, Richard decides that his children’s lives are more important than tennis matches when he sees players in the junior circuit breaking down. Letting Cohen go, he turns to Rick Macci (Jon Bernthal) who takes the entire family to Florida where only then does Richard make it clear that school, church and family all come before tennis.

A few years later, Venus decides to make it clear that she is ready for something more. When Richard and Oracene get into an argument about what he wants versus his daughter, family secrets come flowing out that are painful but a reality.

Richard realizes he needs to let go and trust that everything he has taught his girls is coming to fruition. It is time to cheer everything the family has accomplished!

Smith as Richard gives us the performance we would expect from this actor. The role of Richard is a bit of a pain with his outspoken ways and passive aggressive tantrums, but Smith gets the job of portraying the man done. Playing a man who loves his family and would do anything for them seems to be right up Smiths alley, so Smith certainly chose well for this role. 

Ellis as Oracene is a woman who supports her husband, except when its time to pull him aside and set things right. I love Ellis’ boldness in making sure Richard understands he may think he’s king, but the family are not his peasants. The scene in the kitchen in Florida is the perfect “you tell him lady!” when Ellis brings Oracene’s voice out loud and clear. 

Bernthal as Macci signs on big and believes in the girls, what he did not count on was dealing with a father who refuses to budge once he sets his mind to something. That does not take the focus off the girls as Bernthal believes in their future, so much so that Macci eventually trusts in what the girls want for themselves. Well done in this role and nice mustache!

Goldwyn as Paul sees in Venus and Serena everything their father does but in a way that is practical and follows the formula of successful tennis. Butting heads with Richard is a full-time job and Goldwyn as Paul holds his own even if that means giving in to demands.

Sidney as Venus is a lovely young girl who believes in everything her father wants for tennis success. Following that plan, she plays the junior circuit and when Dad says stop, she stops trusting he knows what’s best. There eventually comes a point where she believes it is time to speak for herself and I loved it. Sidney is a lovely young woman who handles herself in this film with grace and style.

Singleton as Serena starts out just as strong as the other tennis star of the family. Serena does get lost in the mix when she steps back a little, but Richard finally tells her the one thing that she needs to hear, that her time will come. Singleton takes her role graciously and, as we all know, Serena’s time came, and it was something to see!

Other cast include Makayla Bartholomew as Tunde, Daniele Lawson as Isha, Layla Crawford as Lyndrea, Erika Ringor as Ms. Strickland, Brad Greenquist as Bud Collins and Kevin Dunn as Vic Braden.

Warner Brothers is home to one of the most successful collections of brands in the world and stands at the forefront of every aspect of the entertainment industry from feature film, television, and home entertainments with worldwide distribution to DVD and Bluray, animation, comic books, videogames and broadcasting. For more please visit www.warnerbros.com.

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.

KING RICHARD won the Audience Choice Award for Feature Film at the Chicago International Film Festival, the Audience Award at Film Fest 919, Heartland International Film Festival for Overall Audience Choice Award and Pioneering Spirit Award for Will Smith, Narrative Audience Award at the Philadelphia Film Festival and the Outstanding Achievement in Cinema Award for Aunjanue Ellis at the SCAD Savannah Film Festival. 

The film is the story of the tennis stars Williams sisters and the man responsible for bringing them to the sports attention, their father Richard Williams. Smith gives us a portrayal of the man who believed in sacrificing nothing when it comes to his family. He, along with wife Oracene believed in their faith, family and making sure their daughters took their education seriously.

Starting in Compton surrounded by people who, at time, seemed to enjoy hurting Richard, it did not stop the family from moving forward. Even when their own neighbor tried to intervene for nasty reasons, the Williams family still pushed forward and that is nothing short of inspirational.

Coming in at 138 minutes, KING RICHARD is really a story of family doing something together that inspired each other to strive for excellence. Richard himself was definetly a flawed human being yet, along with Oracene, they kept their family together and that means everything.

In the end – it is a true story you have to see to believe!


HEART OF CHAMPIONS

Jeri Jacquin

Now showing from director Michael Mailer and Vertical Entertainment is the story of working together as a team with the HEART OF CHAMPIONS.

Coach Jack Murphy (Michael Shannon) has come to Beeston University to be a part of the varsity rowing team. Captain Alex Singleton (Alexander Ludwig) rules with a sort of iron fist and sarcasm that does not really help the team. John (Alex MacNicoll) is the soft space between Alex and the rest of the team.

Murphy makes himself quite clear from the beginning, learn to row as a team or get off the team. He especially makes it clear to newcomer Chris (Charles Melton) arrives with an emotional chip on his shoulder. He also needs to deal with Alex’s father (David Elliott) who has a history with the coach and is not afraid to throw it in his face.

Chris is in love with Sara (Lilly Krug) who introduces her friend Nisha (Ash Santos) to John. A rift, as if they need another one, already exists between Alex and John over Sara keeping tensions high. 

But as the team learns from one another, they grow as a team and Coach Murphy believes that they have the potential to do what has been impossible for so long – beating the Harvard team. As they get close to that match, the team begins to break apart and a tragedy causes them all to believe that going on may be impossible.

The possible and impossible meet on the water.

Shannon as Coach Murphy comes into his position with unresolved issues that haunt him. Seeing the potential of the rowing team, he starts coaching as if they no nothing which they actually do not. There is so much disconnect with the varsity team that Shannon gives his coach thoughtfulness, and instead of just talking – he actually gives examples that they can embrace. Shannon has always been an acting I have watched closely because of the roles he chooses (i.e. Nine Perfect Strangers is an amazing example).

Ludwig as Alex is a young man who is being pushed toward the Olympics by a father who sees nothing but glory. Trying to please both his father and be loyal to a team that he has finally come to understand and want to be a part of is the battle he faces. Ludgwig shows the duality that will eventually be his downfall when choosing a path that is so destructive.

MacNicoll as John is a very empathetic young man who sees his team as a brotherhood and would do anything for them – even Alex. He works hard and loves girlfriend Sara being a focus of his life as well. Seeing the potential for the team is exciting and he even wants to help the coach with his goal of winning. MacNicoll is charming, funny and caring in this role and well done.

Melton as Chris has a history that he does not want to share with anyone and that gives the impression that he is uncaring and standoffish. The only person who manages to break through it is John and they become fast friends. Melton hides the pain of his character well and only let’s slip what he wants when he wants, and it is powerful and painful.

Krug as Sara is entertaining, charming and realizes that there is strain between Alex and John. Santos as Nisha is opinionated and makes an instant assessment of Chris without really knowing him. Once she does, the two work their way through an intense relationship.

Vertical Entertainment is a global independent distributor that offers a unique wealth of experience minus the studio costs. They have won a Film Independent Spirit Award for Best Actress for Molly Shannon’s role in OTHER PEOPLE and the film won a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Film Limited Release, Best International Film for Babak Anvari’s UNDER THE SHADOW, a BAFTA and three Independent British Independent Film Awards as well.

HEART OF CHAMPIONS is a story of the lives of the young men on the rowing team. Trying to find their way to being cohesive not only on the water but on land as well. Finding the right coach, it is only when Jack Murphy arrives does it mean that they might have finally found someone who can handle the group of young men.

Watching them grow on screen from sarcastic and broken apart to a team that comes alive on the water is what makes this film enjoyable to watch. There are issues that each of the characters face and some face them head on and other fight the demons that seem to take them down the wrong road. 

Gather any team together and watch to see how a team become a family of brothers that learn to face it all together. 

In the end – talent wins races and courage creates champions!


Villeneuve's DUNE: Part One

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres and HBO Max from director Denis Villeneuve and Warner Bros. is the story of a battle for DUNE: Part Two

Living on the ocean planet of Caladan, House Atreides is ruled by Duke Leto Atredies (Oscar Isaac). Living peacefully with concubine Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) and son Paul (Timothee Chalamet), their lives are about to change. There are two that want to hurt House Atredies and that is House Harkonnen and one other person of power.

Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV is the ruling the planet of Arrakis and he does so for only one reason - melange. It is a spice that is coveted for extending life and the Emperor knows that by controlling it, he controls everything except House Atredies. Seeing a way of changing that, he sends Atreides to Arrakis replacing the Harkonnen's.

Duke Leto is well aware of what the Emperor is capable of but still cannot refuse to go. Taking his son Paul and Lady Jessica, who is part of the Bene Gesserit's, they prepare to leave. But not before a visitation by the Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam (Charlotte Rampling) who tests Paul. The Reverend Mother is furious with the Lady Jessica for bearing Duke Leto a son and accuses her of ulterior motives.

Paul has not only been trained by his mother, but also taught warfare by Duncan Idaho (Jason Momoa) and Gurney Halleck (Josh Brolin). All too soon, Leto, Jessica and Paul find themselves on Arrakis and meet the people called the Fremen. It is Leto and Paul who discover the dangers of the desert when Stilgar (Javier Bardem) shows them how melange is harvested.

Sandworms are not the only thing they need to worry about as an attempt is made on Paul's life. Dealing with it, what Duke Leto does not see coming is a Harkkonen army and is kidnapped. Paul and Jessica are dropped into the desert but instead, survive. Taking over Arrakis once again is the Baron (Stellen Skarsgard) who ramps up production giving power to Rabban (Dave Bautista).

Taken in by Stilgar, Chani and the Freman, Paul now realizes that there is another dream that he plans to honor, and that is what his father wished to do - bring peace to Arrakis.

Chalamet as Paul is wrapped up in his dreams of a girl he does not know. Excited to be going with his father to Arakkis, he seems to go along to get along. When the time comes to get away from the attack that is destroying Arakeen, Chalamet's Paul goes through a series of realizations and is brought to the point where he must decide whether to listen to his mother and go home – or embrace becoming a Fremen and fight on. 

Isaac as Duke Leto is going to win in my eyes no matter what. I truly enjoy his choice of performances and he performs well in the role of a man who already knows his fate. He gives Duke Leto a strength of character which is what I would have expected in this remake. Isaac always gives his characters something special and for that I am grateful.

Ferguson as Lady Jessica is an emotional hot mess and canot seem to keep herself in check. One moment she is walking down the hall falling apart and the next second she's making oaths to Leto. Her best talent is her own form of sign language that comes in handy a time or two. Zendaya as Chani lost me the second she pronounced Harkonnen's badly but then again, the rest of the cast also goes along with the destruction of names. So far there is not much of her character except long walks on the desert dressed like a biblical Bedouin. 

Momoa as Duncan has his clever moments, a close relationship with Paul and is larger than life. Learning what he can of the Fremen for the Duke, he stands by the family. Clean shaven, he still brings his Momoa-ness to his character as we would expect. Brolin as Halleck gives us his stern face and fast fighting style but then again, we already knew he was extremely good at it. In this role he gives us a bit of poetry and the words he finds in books to keep his focus on what is required to keep House Atredies safe.

Rampling as Reverand Mother may be brutal, but she also sees steps ahead of the Baron. Making deals with men, she is seen as nothing to worry about and that is their first mistake. Every time Rampling is on the screen I am thrilled. Bautista as Rabban is as brutal as he wants to be taking out any who support Atredies yet when he’s around the Baron, he is a whupped puppy. 

Skarsgard as The Baron puts on the thick make up and does not forget how to float. He makes promises with every evil intention of going against them and doing whatever it takes to bring the Emperor what he wants. Bardem as Stilgar is abrupt, standoffish and does not take any nonsense from anyone, including the new landlord of Arakkis. Once in the company of Jessica and Paul, Bardem gives his character a hint of the surprises to come. 

Other cast include Sharon Duncan-Brewster as Dr. Liet Kynes, Stephan McKinley Henderson as Thufir Hawat, Chen Chang as Dr. Wellington Yueh, David Dastmalchian as Piter de Vries, Babs Olusanmokun as Jamis, Benjamin Clementine as Herald of the Change, Souad Faress as Bene Gesserit Sister and Golda Rosheuvel as Shadout Mapes.

Warner Brothers is home to one of the most successful collections of brands in the world and stands at the forefront of every aspect of the entertainment industry from feature film, television and home entertainments with worldwide distribution to DVD and Bluray, animation, comic books, videogames and broadcasting. For more please visit www.warnerbros.com.

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Dune was written in 1965 by Frank Herbert and was made into a film in 1984 by director David Lynch and is the film most are familiar with. Now, Denis Villeneuve has put his hand into the mix to bring a two-part telling of Herbert's book.

There is no green light yet for the second half of DUNE as director Villeneuve says he is “standing with one foot in the air, waiting for the permission to make Part Two”. Coming in at 165 million dollars to make, I would not hold my breath to get that kind of budget for the next installment.

That being said, I feel like I could have turned down the sound and had no problem following along with what was happening. At times I wanted to turn down the sound because I just do not understand the need to remake something so epic as Lynch's version of DUNE, especially if the 2021 version uses the same classic lines. Failing to see the need to break the film up into two over two-hour parts just does not register with me. 

So, the film is predictable even if the special effects are updated (dragonfly helicopters are a nice touch), the characters try to say the memorable names in a different, annoying way and the writers changed lines around giving them to other characters. Was it thought that true DUNE film fans would not notice this?

Now let’s address the elephant in the film - sparkling sand? Really? Did TWILIGHT teach us nothing? That's not the first thing one would think of when describing the spice melange. There is no sparkle in mélange! 

I am sure that for those looking for a bit of science fiction mixed into their film watching choices then DUNE will be fine. It is not something that I needed to sit through for over two hours when I am still alive, breathing and have a good memory that goes back to 1984. Perhaps studios should wait until a large group of us have gone to the theatre in the sky before regurgitating our beloved films.

In the end - it begins!