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 a Mystery in the Life of an AMERICAN WOMAN

Jeri Jacquin

Opening in theatres this Friday from director Jake Scott and Roadside Attractions is a long mystery with AMERICAN WOMAN. 

Supermarket cashier Deb Callahan (Sienna Miller) is living her own exciting life in a small town in Pennsylvania. At home is her daughter Bridget (Sky Ferreira) with a young son of her own. Across the street is Deb’s sister Katherine (Christina Hendricks) who is very judgmental of Deb’s life and doesn’t hold her opinion back. Mom Peggy (Amy Madigan) goes along to get along.

After a night out with boyfriend Tyler (Alex Neustaedter), Deb is upset that Bridget hasn’t returned home. She begins looking and discovers she had a fight with her boyfriend and visited a friend before leaving on her own. The vanishing of Bridget sets her off the deep end not knowing what to do. 

The years pass and Deb is now with boyfriend Ray (Pat Healy) and raising grandson Jesse (Aiden Fiske). Going to school she is trying to make a better life for herself and the boy. At night she is on the internet looking for any signs of Bridget. The truth is out there about Ray with his temper and Tyler and his fatherly visits. 

But it’s time for Deb to strike out on her own, even with the shadow of her daughter constantly following her. It doesn’t stop her from finishing what she started and celebrating with the family who is back in her life. Then she meets Chris (Aaron Paul) and life moves forward as it should.

Yet there is still a mystery waiting to be solved.

Miller as Deb is a woman who definitely has had more lows than highs. Her self-esteem is nearly nil and she is doing her best to raise a young grandson that is smart and well aware of their situation. When her time comes to find the answers she needs to know but is she ready to know.

Hendricks as Katherine is the worrisome sister who sees the path that Deb was taking and once Bridget is gone, tries to stop the train wreck. Deb doesn’t make it easy but that doesn’t stop Hendricks character from making sure she doesn’t totally fall. Madigan as Mom Peggy wants what’s best for her daughter but there are unresolved issues between she and Deb that constantly flow out.

Paul as Chris is the one unexpected thing in her love that begins to make her feel as if there is hope for Deb’s life. He is funny, charming and enjoys the life that they create for themselves. But there comes a moment when a choice must be made and once again it effective everyone that lives in the shadow of Bridget.

Other cast include Will Sasso as Terry, Kelly Golden as Jenna Cunningham, Bates Wilder as Detective O’Brien, Rachel Singer as Mrs. Derrick and Kentucker Audley as Brett. 

AMERICAN WOMAN is a slow paced film and in this case I liked it for just that reason. This is a story of a life that is affected by one event with a family left behind to pick up the pieces. The performances are fantastic as Miller, Hendricks and Paul wrap around the story leaving us to slowly pull it all apart.

The cinematography is just as deep and part of the mystery as who stopped Bridget from coming home that fateful night. Watching their journey is one of heartbreak, understanding and relentless hope that for once, the ending could be what all of us would hope for ourselves.

It is the story of a woman who made changes in her life according to events all the way up to a woman changing her life because she was strong enough to do it for herself. It is life moving forward for the sake of living and not on hold for a past you can not change. It takes the power of moving past pain to make that happen and Miller gives us just that. 

In the end – never lose hope!

​THE DEAD DON'T DIE Puts a Town on Notice

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres this Friday from writer/director Jim Jarmusch and Focus Features comes a tale of small town living and the Earth with THE DEAD DON'T DIE.

Chief Cliff Robertson (Bill Murray) and Officer Ronnie Peterson (Adam Driver) are the law of small town Centerville. Along with Officer Minerva Morrison (Chloe Sevigny), their day starts out with a check on Hermit Bob (Tom Waits) and a complaint by Farmer Miller (Steve Buscemi) about chickens.

On their trip back to the station, Chief Robertson has a feeling something isn't quite right. Noticing that it is later in the day, it doesn't look like the sun is going down. Then weird things begin to happen with watches and cell phones. That's when Officer Peterson makes the ominous prediction that 'this isn't going to end well'.

There answer comes fairly quickly when news reports about fracking has finally done damage to the Earth. Back at the station, the three officers decide what should be done. Of course someone has to stay at the station since there is a corpse in one of the cells!

At the local coffee shop, the local gossip is about Zelda Winston (Tilda Swinton), who owns the funeral home. Everyone realizes there is something odd about her but it goes unchecked. Waitresses Fern (Ester Baling) and Lily (Rosa Colon) are deep in talk when they are met by…well…hungry customers.

Bobby (Caleb Landry Jones) owns the local comic book shop and sundries when he is visited by Zoe (Selena Gomez), Jack (Austin Butler) and Zack (Luke Sabbath). Everyone comments on the Sturdily Simpson song "The Dead Don't Die" and ask for directions to a local hotel. 

All this while the Chief and Officer Ronnie are back at the diner wonder what to do about what they find. Hardware store owner Hank (Danny Glover) is in shock but also notices things aren't right in Centerville. 

Almost immediately it becomes clear that what is happening to the Earth has had an impact on those supposedly resting in peace at the local cemetery. The Chief and Ronnie begin to fight back, especially with Ronnie's zombie knowledge.

Their small little town has one huge dead problem!

Murray as Chief Robertson is about as laid back as I would expect a small town lawman to be and exactly how I'd expect Bill Murray as a small town lawman to be! He takes things in and process it with a touch of disbelief as to what's happening in his quaint community. Plus, and it must be said, anything Murray does will bring me to wherever he is in. The fact is Murray is an icon and a national treasure because he is…Bill Murray.
Okay, so I grew up watching him on Saturday Night Live in the days when comedy was hilarious and he provided much of that. He has made his way through comedy roles that just keep him relevant to all of us that love funny. Here he is seasoned but when he lands a line - it's as smooth as ever.

Driver as Officer Ronnie is the side-kick that Chief Robertson needed to pull this whole thing off. It is interesting to see Driver do the give and take with Murray and it works to perfection making them such a unique and weirdly perfect team. If I were the Chief I might not have had the same patience but then again, the last ten minutes make it all worth it. Driver plays a man who is relatively calm. He feels that disaster is heading to town and loads up to protect and serve. 

Sevigny as Officer Minerva is, well, emotional in her own way and in the context of the rest of the characters in the film. She is the third wheel of law enforcement but between wanting to hide in the back seat of the squad car and knowing something has to be done, she jumps back and forth with ease.

Buscemi as Farmer Miller is grumpy, loaded and hostile about his chickens. Glover as Hank melts right into the township of people who are a little confused by what's going on and know hiding might be the way to survive. Jones as Bobby looks like he absolutely would own a comic book shop in the middle of Centerville and knows exactly what to do because of it.

The two odd and perfectly placed standouts of the film are Swinton as Zelda and I must say she is a woman I'd hang out with. Odd and out of place without realizing it, she has a part to play in all of this but then again does she? Waits as Hermit Bob is the man telling the tale of Centerville and might be the smartest Hermit ever.

Other cast include Rosie Perez as Posie Juarez, RZA as Dean, Alyssa App as Kid Zombie, Lorenzo Beronilla as Zelda Zombie, Sara Driver as Coffee Zombie, Carol Kane as Mallory O'Brien and Iggy Pop as the best Coffee Zombie ever!!

THE DEAD DON'T DIE isn't your typical zombie movie for so many reasons that I'll let the viewer find out personally. What I can say is that I felt like I was watching a combination of a Film Festival piece and a Saturday Night Creature Feature film that was from the B-film vaults.

It is absolutely everything and absolutely nothing like any zombie movie you've ever seen. This film calls for those who love twisted films that are dry in humor yet still hilarious. It's a journey through small town living with zombies as more of a pest than a reason to get all worked up.

This film has references from old horror films, a nod and feel of Romero and acting that is subdued and thoughtful wrapped up like bacon around a superb piece of filet mignon. The subtexts are there and its up to the viewer to catch them and it seems everyone in Hollywood wanted a piece of the film.

Of course I'm being vague in the telling on purpose because there is no right way to explain the film. This is one of those stories that must be experienced and with all honesty some will find it as hilarious as I did and some will walk away with that expression of 'what did I just see?' on their faces.

This is Jim Jarmusch people! Writer and director of ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE (which is a beautiful vampire movie), BROKEN FLOWERS and the documentary GIMME DANGER. He has the ability to bring out the odd in his story telling but truth be known, some of us actually enjoy the odd.

The cast is varied and gives the town a little something special. Lets not forget the humor that is sharp, a bit biting at moments, very subtle in other moments which means there is something for everyone even if they don't know they need it. 

THE DEAD DON'T DIE has me scratching my head, furrowing my brow in question, jaw dropping in action and most of all giggling like a little kid who feels like she got the joke no one else did. Who cares, I had a fun time.

In the end - this could be the greatest zombie cast ever disassembled!

GODZILLA: King of the Monsters

Jeri Jacquin

In theatres this week from writer/director Michael Dougherty and Warner Bros. Pictures is the return of the titans with GODZILLA: King of the Monsters.

It has been five years since the destruction that led to the death of Mark (Kyle Chandler) and Emma Russell's (Vera Farmiga) son. Daughter Madison (Millie Bobby Brown) has watched her parents go their separate ways not dealing with the loss.

Emma is working with an organization called Monarch and their goal is to find the Titans to learn more about them. In their underground bunker, Emma and Madison watch Mothra come into being. Helping to keep it under control, Emma created a device called the Orca that only these Titans can understand.

Almost immediately there is an attack on the facility and the two are kidnapped by former soldier Jonah Alan (Charles Dance). Arriving at his place of research, Mark is told by Dr. Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) and Dr. Graham (Sally Hawkins) about the kidnapping.

He joins them back at the center station where Dr. Ling (Ziyi Zhang) and Dr. Stanton (Bradley Whitford) explain what is happening around the world. The military wants to take over but the scientists believe there is another way.

In the meantime, Emma releases the titan called Ghidorah as more and more monsters like Baphomet, Typhoon, Abaddon, Bunuip and Methuselah wake up. Godzilla is also on his way to Zero and the team must decide if this is the beginning of working together.

The problem is there are people that can't be trusted, titans who have a plan of their own and so many questions as to how to stop the destruction!

Chandler as Mark doesn't want to get involved in what ever it is that Monarch is doing but once Emma and Madison are taken he has no choice. Especially when he realizes that it is technology he helped develop that is devastating. Chandler has the ability to look sorrowful when needed and jumps into action when he can.

Farmiga as Russell takes on the titans when she should be home with her hubby Ed Warren (The Conjuring) keeping an eye on their evil artifacts. Brown as Madison is a kid who believes what she's told and has to choose what is right and wrong - and then get back to the STRANGER THINGS cast.

Dance as Alan proves that you can take the Hand of the King out of Westeros but you can't stop Tywinn from still wanting to rule the world. Whitford as Dr. Stanton is the sharp tongues comic relief especially when he sees his old White House stomping grounds in sad shape.

Watanabe as Dr. Serizawa is the strength of the group who is trying to keep Godzilla alive while trying to find a way to stop the other Titans. I adore Watanabe and this is a perfect character for him as it is strong but equally quiet. Zhang as Dr. Ling is caught up in every minute of the chaos and it's nice to see Sayuri and the Chairman (Memoirs of a Geisha) together again.

Other cast include Thomas Middleditch as Sam Coleman, Aisha Hinds as Colonel Diane Foster, O'Shea Jackson Jr. as Chief Warrant Barnes, Anthony Ramos as Sgt. Martinez, Elizabeth Ludlow as Lt. Griffin, Jonathan Howard as Asher Jonah and David Strathairn as Admiral William Stenz.

Look, I know I am making a little fun of GODZILLA: King of the Monsters but there are moments crying out for me to poke fun. The story is straight forward, the technology is cutting edge, the graphics are on point and Godzilla never looked so good.

That being said, honestly I could have seen myself sitting at home watching this on a bit 75" screen television with a sound bar and having a great time with friends. I am a kid of the black/white Godzilla/Mothra/Rodan era and I spent many a Friday night or Saturday afternoon watching the battles.

The first film directed by Ishiro Honda in 1954 introduced everyone to Gojira aka Godzilla and the reaction was huge. Everyone knows who Godzilla is even if the youngsters of today don't know the back story. If they see a statue of Godzilla - they know!

The radioactive lizard looking and extremely HUGE creature slips through the ocean with ease while destroying everything below his very large feet. I sort of have the same problem so I can relate!

From the 1950s until today, Godzilla is part of film history and an icon that we love. Although the films haven't always been successful (sorry Matthew Broderick aka 1998 version), this story works even if it is cheesy, campy and predictable.

Prepare because Godzilla vs. King Kong is going to come large and in charge in 2020.

In the end - long live the king!

ALADDIN Brings Live Action to the Screen
Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres this Friday from director Guy Ritchie and Walt Disney Pictures is the story of a princess and a thief named ALADDIN.

Aladdin (Mena Massoud) is a young man who finds his way around the city of Agrabah stealing to survive along with his friend, the monkey Abu. He also sees what the people of the city endure and tries help when he can. One day he meets Jasmine (Naomi Scott) who also wants to help those in need.

Telling Aladdin that she is the hand maiden to the Princess, they outrun the guards and spend a little time together. While looking out over the city, Jasmine realizes that a new suitor has landed and makes her leave from Aladdin to get back to the palace. 

Once there she is introduced to Prince Anders (Billy Magnussen) by her father the Sultan (Navid Negahban) with Jafar (Marwan Kenzari), the Sultan’s Vizier watching on. Jasmine isn’t impressed and along with her real hand maiden Dalia (Nasim Pedrad) and tiger Raja, she saunters away.

That’s when Aladdin makes his way to the palace to return a bracelet and is apprehended by Jafar. Sitting on the desert floor, Jafar explains that he doesn’t stand a chance with the princess but, if he does one thing for him, Aladdin could be paid handsomely. All he has to do is enter the Cave of Wonders and return a lamp – and just a lamp.

Things go awry and Aladdin along with Abu get caught in the cave. It is what comes out of the lamp that could save them – a Genie (Will Smith). Given three wishes, Aladdin tries to choose a life with Jasmine by becoming a Prince. Of course the one person who isn’t happy about this is Jafar. He has plans that don’t include the Sultan or Aladdin.

Jasmine finds herself thrilled with Prince Ali but plays a little hard to get. The Genie has an eye for someone as well so both are enjoying life. That is until it is all about to come crashing down as Jafar has his own little spy in a parrot named Yago.

In Agrabah, anything and everything is possible if you believe!

I’m sure families are going to be thrilled to see ALADDIN mainly because it is always a joy to be able to see a film that is oriented for kids. Making an afternoon of colorful characters along with song and dance is always a good afternoon. That’s what Disney has been known for and attempts with this film to follow in its history.

Massoud and Scott as Aladdin and Princess Jasmine play their roles and although difficult to break the mold of the 1992 animated version, this is cartoon come to life. The same can be said of Smith attempting to fill the role that Robin Williams made so iconic.

In the case of these three characters I applaud their attempt to embrace their animated counterparts. That being said, there seems to be a sense of detachment in their portrayals that I couldn’t get past. Massoud and Scott work well together but there are hits and misses along the way. Scott’s rendition of a woman’s empowerment tune just seemed more like a cry for help.

Smith as the Genie is blue, he sings and he is charming. I like Smith, don’t get me wrong, I just have a hard time embracing this version of him or the Genie. He also had a few missteps with his songs except obviously for the raps. Pedrad as Dalia get to throw out a few clever lines and be thrilled that a man has taken interest in her.

Kenzari as Jafar doesn’t exactly give the same frights and sense of doom as his animated counterpart but he did make me laugh. I’m not sure that was the point of his performance but he does give it a different perspective.

Other cast include Jordan A. Nash as Omar, Taliyah Blair as Lian, Aubrey Lin as Omi, Amir Boutrous as Jamal, and Numan Acar as Hakim. 

ALADDIN is colorful, filled with music, dance and filled with special effects and as I said, that’s the Disney way. The problem is that there didn’t feel as if there was a need to make it a live action film. I would have been thrilled to see the original cleaned up a little and put back on the big screen for a special engagement.

Yes, it’s fairly clear that I am not a fan of taking films that have delighted fans and families for years and feel the need to make them “live”. I know the song and dance of ‘but it’s for a new generation’ – welp, I am still here and breathing and I’d appreciate it if Hollywood would put a moratorium on remaking, retelling, reimagining or rethinking any more films for oh, say seventy-five years.

Instead, put the money where it could be better spent – on originality and new stories for the next generation to enjoy. That’s my soapbox and I’m happy standing on it.

In the meantime, enjoy ALADDIN with your family with a big tub of popcorn and sing along because you’ll know the words, that hasn’t changed.

In the end – the magic is live!

His Story and Life Collide in TOLKIEN

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres this Friday from director Dome Karukoski and Fox Searchlight Pictures comes the story of stories told about the life of TOLKIEN.

The story begins with war as Private Sam Hodges (Craig Roberts) finds a very ill Tolkien and makes it his mission to help him survive. Out in the field as bombs rage and gas explodes, he once again sees how his life began and led him to the field of inhumanity.

J.R.R. Tolkien (Nicholas Hoult) was a young man living with his mother and brother in a small English house in the middle of vast fields. One day Father Francis (Colm Meaney) helps the family move to the city to start again but it doesn’t last long as once again Father Francis moves Tolkien and his younger brother to the house of Mrs. Faulkner (Pam Ferris). Becoming their guardian, she starts with the boys’ education and Tolkien dives deeper into his drawings and writings. 

Eventual Mrs. Faulkner takes in Edith Bratt (Lily Collins) and Tolkien is quite taken with her. Continuing to be watched over by Father Francis, the young man is told that he can’t share his feelings about her and still go to university. He makes the sad choice to leave her and joins childhood friends Rob Gilson (Patrick Gibson), Geoffrey Smith (Anthony Boyle) and Christopher Wiseman (Tom Glynn-Carney), also known as the TCBS, to university. 

As the group continues to meet, Tolkien is one step away from having to leave school when he discovers Professor Wright (Derek Jacobi). Sharing his story’s with the Professor, both men become thrilled at the possibilities of the story and language. Finally finding his place in school, the war breaks out and Tolkien is called up.

Before shipping out he once again sees Edith and he finds himself still smitten with the young girl. They have a chance to explain to one another the situation as it was then but their hearts never let go of one another only to be parted again by battle.

Tolkien fights to stay alive, fights to find his friends and without realizing it would soon take all the horrors of war and create one of the most iconic stories ever written.

Hoult as Tolkien takes on the monumental task of playing a character that became famous for his books and his name becomes world wide again when the films come to the screen. I will be honest, I wasn’t sure that justice could be done in the story telling of a writer who impacted my life so profoundly yet Hoult did so. The struggles of youth followed Tolkien and he could have ‘gone wrong’ as the sayings goes but instead he found a path that Hoult walks honorably.

Collins as Edith is a young girl understanding Tolkien much more than anyone else (other than his brother). She pushes him to continue to write stories because she saw something magical about the world Tolkien creates. Collins gives her character strength, dignity and a forwardness not seen by women of Edith’s day. Meaney as Father Francis takes the role of father, protector and if that doesn’t work he uses good old fashioned guilt to ‘guide’ Tolkien’s life choices. I have to say I wasn’t happy with this character and that’s probably because I’m not much for emotional bullying which means Meaney did a fantastic job!

Gibson, Boyle and Glynn-Carney as Rob, Geoffrey and Christopher are three friends I’d love to have had growing up. Although they started out prickly, the story of each of these young men would impact Tolkien in ways they would never see coming. These four actors when on screen together are gripping and I enjoyed watching their friendship grow.

Now, as for Roberts as Private Sam Hodges, I have only one thing to say – stellar and well done young man, extremely well done. From beginning to end it was the life of Tolkien that was his mission and he took it so seriously that nothing would turn him from it. Sound like a story character you might know?  

Other cast include Laura Donnelly as Mabel Tolkien, Guillermo Bedward as Hilary Tolkien, Nia Gwynne as Browen, Tony Nash as Mackintosh, Owen Teale as Headmaster Gilson, Lara Maguire as Rose, Holly Dempster as Beryl, Genevieve O’Reilly as Mrs. Smith and David Birkbeck as Porter.

TOLKIEN is well done, beautifully put on screen and gives the viewer a deep look inside what it took for THE LORD OF THE RINGS to make it to the page. Watching the story unfold is like seeing how characters were born in his mind. I caught myself a few times pointing at things I saw on the screen with an inhale and then a smile. Okay, so being a raging Tolkien fan it was like being part of a mental treasure hunt.

The cast brings together with such intensity the moments in Tolkien’s life that he held on to for dear life. The story is raw and beautiful at the same time to the point where I didn’t want it to end. The good news is that sitting on my library shelf are the books and films which are a wonderful solace brought by a man who took what he experienced in his life and shared it in the most magnificent way with the world. 

In the end – a life of love, courage and fellowship!

BOOKSMART Brings Teen Comedy in Time for Summer

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres this Friday from director Olivia Wilde and Annapurna Pictures is the story of the last night of the first night of their lives after being BOOKSMART.

Molly (Beanie Feldstein) and Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) are two girls who have spent their years in libraries and studying. In those years Molly and Amy became the best of friends and know each other secrets and habits. Their idea of fun isn’t exactly like most seniors in high school.

Even Principal Brown (Jason Sudeikis) knows that about the two girls. Molly being class president and valedictorian on the class, she is making sure that all the i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed before saying goodbye to the halls that educated her.  

Overhearing a conversation, Molly learns that students she thought didn’t take school seriously are attending colleges just as prestigious as hers! The thought sends her into a tizzy and tells Amy that they are not going to sit home in their pj’s on their final night.

That’s when she learns that Nick (Mason Gooding) is having a final wild party and convinces Amy that going is the only way they are going to redeem themselves. It also gives Amy a chance to hang out with Ryan (Victoria Ruesga) and Molly can visit with Nick. 

The problem is that with every move they make to try to get to the party, something else gets in their way and mayhem ensues. From Jared (Skyler Gisondo) leading them astray to Gigi (Billie Lourd) freaking them out every place they go, Molly is not going to let anything to her from getting to Nick’s.

When they finally arrive, everything changes – even Molly and Amy! Their friendship is riding on the party and put to the test. Then again…it’s only high school right?

Feldstein as Molly is the spokesperson for the dynamic duo. She knows what she wants and pretty much tells Amy every bit of it. Yet there is a believeability in the way she speaks to her friend and their relationship from beginning to end. I enjoyed Feldstein so much and she reminded me a little of someone I know.

Dever as Amy is charming, sweet and in love with someone who doesn’t know she exists. It is clear she loves her friendship with Molly and although reminding me a bit of Cameron Frye from FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF. She goes along to get along and even if she’s having fun, there are moments where fun makes her very nervous.

Gisondo as Jared is absolutely outrageous yet there is something sweet about him. Perhaps it’s because he understands Molly and Amy more than he is given credit for. Gooding as Nick is the guy in school who just wants to have a good time and isn’t seen as a serious student. Sudeikis as the Principal is hilarious and in a role that totally gives him the opportunity to just totally go crazy in a great way.

Okay, it must be said Lourd as Gigi is absolutely hysterical. I just love this character but mainly because of what she says and what she does. A free spirit that’s a little bit on the nutty side and no one more than Lourd deserves to just let loose.

Other cast include Will Forte as Doug, Diana Silvers as Hope, Molly Gordon as Triple A, Eduardo Franco as Theo, Nico Hiraga as Tanner, Austin Crute as Alan, Jessica Williams as Miss Fine and Lisa Kudrow as Charmaine. 

BOOKSMART is charming, funny, silly, and gives the audience a look at pieces of their own high school days. There are the usual misunderstandings, cliques, misconceptions and chances to have one last opportunity to a make a mark that could be memorable forever.

After all, isn’t that what high school is all about? The mistakes that are made, the plans that change every other day, friendships that in some cases become life long (I happen to know a few of those) and broken hearts, oh yes, the high school broken hearts most everyone has experienced. Most of all, the pure laughs about who we were and hopefully who we all turned out to be.

In the end – getting straight A’s and giving zero F’s.

TRIAL BY FIRE Questions Guilt

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres from director Edward Zwick and Flashlight Films comes the story of the secrets and lies with TRIAL BY FIRE.

It is 1992 and Todd Willingham (Jack O'Connell) is in a complicated and jealousy driven relationship with wife Stacy (Emily Meade). One morning after leaving for work, Todd wakes up to his children calling him. He notices immediately that the house is filled with smoke.

Trying to get to them he becomes overwhelmed with smoke. Running outside, Todd breaks windows still trying to reach his children but the fire causes an explosion.

Dealing with the death of their three children, Todd and Stacy are pulled over after the funeral to have him arrested for murder. The town's law enforcement have investigated the fire and come to the conclusion that Todd intentionally killed the children.

After a quick trial filled with testimony that is anger filled and no defense put in place for Todd, he is sentenced to the death penalty and sent to prison. 

Elizabeth Gilbert (Laura Dern) is a writer raising two teenagers while taking care of an ex-husband. A friend tells her about writing to prisoners and Todd lands in her life. She learns he has been in prison for twelve years awaiting execution.

Visiting him in prison, she learns about who Todd was when the incident happened and how he is now. After getting a copy of the trial she realizes that everything about it was a travesty. Todd's only other 'regular' relationship is prison guard Daniels (Chris Coy) who doesn't want to befriend a prisoner but can't seem to help himself.

As Todd comes closer to execution, Elizabeth races to find help from those who also see the wrongs and try to make them right before it is too late.

O'Connell as Todd is a man with anger and jealousy issues in his marriage. The one thing that even his wife can agree with is that Todd loves his children. While in jail that is all he can think about while trying to figure out how he got behind bars. O'Connell gives a startling performance with moments of somber realizations that how he has lived his life has set the stage for those who want to see the execution go through.

Dern as Elizabeth is a woman dealing with so many things in her life of which none have to do with her. Reaching out to Todd and getting to know him starts a friendship that is based on the truths they both tell.

Meade as Stacy is a woman who doesn't know how to do the right thing. Dealing with the death of her children she is constantly being pushed in all directions by family and law enforcement to agree with the verdict handed down to Todd.

Coy as Daniels tries from the moment Todd steps into the prison to dehumanize him. As the years go on, Daniels sees who this man really is and even finds himself enjoying Todd's company. He, like Elizabeth, want someone to save a changed man. 

Other cast include: Jade Pettyjohn as Julie Gilbert, Jeff Perry as Hurst, Jason Douglas as John Jackson, Wayne Pere as George Gilbert, Katie McClellan as Margaret Hays, Blair Bomar as Sandy and Rhoda Griffis as Darlene. 

TRIAL BY FIRE is not only the story of Todd Willingham but the story of Texas, law enforcement and even then governor Rick Perry. As each step progresses from the moment Todd is arrested to the films conclusion is aimed at added another notch to the execution belt of a state that seems to have the highest in the country. 

No one in the town Todd is from all the way up the ladder seemed interested in whether the truth was told or not. That's what I took away from the film the most - the lack of concern for the possibility that the law wasn't followed.

The cast constantly brings more and more questions to the forefront of the story as the film goes on which by the end had me totally and emotionally worn out. 

Another aspect of the film is watching Todd grow as a person realizing the mistakes he made in his life. The one thing that didn't change and perhaps actually grew was this man's love of his children. The film explores his realizations and the truth behind the tragedy. Is he really innocent?

TRIAL BY FIRE is directed by Academy Award winner Edward Zwick and adapted by Academy Award winner Geoffrey Fletcher from David Grann’s article Trial by Fire found in The New Yorker. 

In the end - stand up for what is right and for what is true!

POKEMON DETECTIVE PIKACHU 
Brings Laughs 

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres this Friday from director Rob Letterman and Warner Bros. Pictures is a little yellow fluff ball with a mind of his own known as POKEMON DETECTIVE PIKACHU.

Tim Goodman (Justice Smith) is a young man raised by his grandmother in a world of Pokémon’s and working at a life insurance company. All of that is about to change when he receives a telephone call from Lt. Hide Yoshida (Ken Watanabe) to inform him that his father Henry Goodman has died. 

Meeting with Lt. Yoshida it is clear that Tim doesn’t want to hear about what happened asking for the keys to his father’s apartment. Arriving, Tim discovers that the room his father made for him remains exactly the same. Well, maybe not exactly the same as something is creeping around the room.

Shining a light Tim discovers Detective Pikachu (Ryan Reynolds), his father’s Pokémon and that he understands him! That’s when a story pours out of the yellow eared creature saying there is something wrong with his memory. Believing that something is amiss, Tim tells Pikachu about a vile of blue liquid that makes other Pokémon’s a little nut. 

Wanting answers, Tim finds himself caught up in Pikachu’s investigation which leads them to Howard Clifford (Bill Nighy) who also believes that Tim’s father is still alive. Clifford also believes his son Roger (Chris Geere) has something to do with what is happening. 

Wanna-be reporter Lucy Stevens (Kathryn Newton) steps in and wants to help because she believes there is a story in all of this. At a secret lab Tim, Pikachu and Lucy discover that this is more frightening than they could have imagined. Someone is trying to let loose a chemical that will change everything. Who is who will surprise them all.

That doesn’t mean Pikachu, Tim and Lucy aren’t going to go without a fight!

Smith as Tim is a young man who isn’t too thrilled with his life. He has a thing against Pokémon’s so discovering he has to work with Pikachu to get answers doesn’t exactly thrill him. As the story of his father unfolds, Tim finds himself more and more curious about the true story. Smith is moody and definitely needs Pikachu’s comic relief.

Newton as Lucy is on the ball, has a nose for news and doesn’t grasp the concept of the word ‘no’. She isn’t about to let a story like Tim’s go without investigating and she certainly gives it her all. Newton is spunky and funny in a quirky way. Watanabe as Yoshida has a small role but I’ll take any screen time he can get!

Nighy as Clifford is an inventor who believes Tim’s father isn’t gone but just missing. Wanting to help in any way he can also means keeping his son at bay. Geere as Clifford seems to be the bad guy in this scenario with his creepy smile and ability to take out anyone that gets in his way.

Now, let’s talk about Reynolds even though we really don’t need to as far as I’m concerned. Yes, his wit and timing are absolutely astounding and yes I love him as Deadpool which means I wasn’t certain how I’d feel about him taking on Pikachu. It was a fleeting thought because as Pikachu he gets to once again be silly and the audience loved every minute of it. That basically means Reynolds can do no wrong in pretty much everyone’s eyes. 

Other cast include Suki Waterhouse as Ms. Norman, Josette Simon as Grams, Karan Soni as Jack, Diplo as DJ and Rita Ora as Dr. Ann Laurent. 

POKEMON DETECTIVE PIKACHU is definitely a film that fans of Pokémon are going to enjoy. They are going to recognize characters from the Pokémon world and will be laughing at a lot of their antics. My kids who are now grownups are the ones I watched go through the Pokémon era so I know they are going to enjoy this film lot.

I recognized the characters and found myself giggling quite a few times. The film is fun, colorful, fast paced and did I mention fun? The CGI is pretty cool and the scene between Tim, Pikachu and their mime attests to that. 

POKEMON DETECTIVE PIKACHU is charming and even delightful. There are a few twists and turns that I’m avoiding because I want everyone to enjoy it for themselves. So grab a bucket of popcorn with the kids and go have a good time this weekend!

In the end – the mystery is on!

AVENGERS: Endgame

Jeri Jacquin

Coming this Friday to theatres is the highly anticipated finale with an iconic team from directors Anthony and Joe Russo, Marvel and Walt Disney Studios with AVENGERS: Endgame.

That's about the most I want to tell you about AVENGERS: Endgame and why is that? Well, I don't want to spoil anything about the film for those who have been waiting patiently and to back me up is this letter from the Russo brothers that circled the internet. 

It reads as follows:

To the greatest fans in the world, 

This is it. This is the end. The end of an unprecedented narrative mosaic spanning eleven years and eleven franchises. For all of you who have been on this journey with us since the very beginning, sharing every high and low with your family, your friends, your classmates, your co-workers. Investing so deeply in every character and storyline. Laughing. Cheering. Shedding tears. Giving so freely of your thoughts and emotions

In spirited dialogue, theories, fan art and fan fiction. Please know that the two of us, along with everyone involved in Endgame, have worked tirelessly for the last three years with the sole intention of delivering a surprising and emotionally powerful conclusion to the Infinity Saga.

Because so many of you have invested your time, your hearts, and your souls into these stories, we're once again asking for your help.

When you see Endgame in the coming weeks, please don't spoil it for others, the same way you wouldn't want it spoiled for you.

Remember, Thanos still demands your silence.

As always, good luck and happy viewing….

The Russo Brothers
#Don'tSpoilTheEndgame

This is important for people to read because AVENGERS: Endgame is the end of eleven years of storytelling and eleven years of a journey that has brought comic book fans to the theatres and at the same time created new comic book readers. After seeing it for myself, I agree with the Russo Brothers and ask the same of all those who are reading this.

In 2008, we were all introduced to IRON MAN, Tony Stark and the only man who will ever be this character to my way of thinking - Robert Downey, Jr. I didn't know much about this character and turned to my two sons to talk about it. I knew Iron Man's place in the world of comics and knew what he looked like but that's about it. Robert Downey, Jr. gave me a quick lesson which was not a surprise to me.

Seeing this first offering was fantastic and I remember thinking at the time that I wouldn't mind seeing more of Tony Stark. I had no idea that somewhere in the world someone else was thinking the very same thing as the universe (to be tagged the ‘Marvel Universe’) was about to get oh so much bigger.

Then came more Marvel characters with THE INCREDIBLE HULK, more IRON MAN, CAPTAIN AMERICA, and THOR in 2012. Then the crew of GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, the second AVENGERS in 2015, ANT-MAN, the return of SPIDER MAN, the introduction of DOCTOR STRANGE, and Wakanda brought us BLACK PANTHER. All of these set the stage for the 2018 AVENGERS: Infinity Wars.

Adding the final piece of the puzzle, we meet the new CAPTAIN MARVEL. All of this guiding us to this Friday's inevitable finale of AVENGERS: Endgame.

As each film came to the big screen, the crowds of people became bigger and bigger and all for different reasons. The most interesting thing about these Marvel films is that everyone's reason for becoming part of the theatre experience is different but the kid-like excitement is the same and generationally shared.

That is what Marvel has brought to everyone who has experienced the comic-book-to-screen phenomena. Each character has something that we all can relate to in some way or another. Their stories of struggle and reconciling love and loss is relatable and heartfelt. We want them to be our heroes and cheer for them to save our planet time and time again.

So, for AVENGERS: Endgame what can I tell you? The film picks up with what has happened after Thanos snapped his Infinity Stone-laden chunky fingers and what the left-over Avengers are doing in this new reality. Each is now dealing with their losses and the wish that the world were right again. That is where a plan to make that right happen is formed.

Sounds easy right? Hardly, because everything done by the Avengers isn't a straight line from chaos to success. Obstacles get in their way, twists and turns are put into play and stories have an opportunity to be told. There is also so much raw emotion in the entire three hours of the film, there are giggles, jaw drops and I do so highly suggest bringing tissue.

At the premier for the film, Chris Evans aka Captain America says about AVENGERS: Endgame, "It’s a double edged sword in that you have this wonderful fan base but also the pressure to satisfy the people who's taste is from the source material. You can't deviate too much and they deserve this."

The ever so charming and never-aging Paul Rudd says, "I can't believe we are finally going to see the movie. I'm excited for audiences to experience the culmination of these films and see where this thing has landed and have a satisfying emotional roller coaster ride experience."

I'm giving Robert Downey, Jr. the final say about how he feels with, "I'm excited, nervous and have such pride. We are fans and that is the reason this has been such a great adventure."

I have always found it difficult to watch a film where there is a huge cast because I always want to see more of one character over another, not the case with the AVENGERS films. Don't get me wrong, I do have my personal favorites in Tony Stark and Loki (I love a smart smart-ass and a smooth talking Asgardian what can I say!), but the AVENGERS cast mesh in the sense that each has a job to do and they don't screen-hog to do it.

The MCU is one of action, adventure, storytelling, lessons to be learned, friendship, loyalty, chaos, a lot of destruction, those who want to see the world burn and superheroes that make it their life mission to stop it and all of this brought to a hungry audience who want more. That's what Marvel does and will continue to do. Although AVENGERS: Endgame is a finale in this particular chapter of that MCU, there are so many more stories waiting in the wings to be shown to us on the big screen.

This weekend I suspect that theatres on our particular universe and planet will be bursting at the seams with fans waiting to spend three hours with their closest super hero friends. AVENGERS: Endgame is a film to be experienced with your family, friends and every person in what ever theatre you find yourself in. I don't think anyone who has invested so much time and emotion into these films will be disappointed.

There is so much to take in and so much to prepare for. Here are a few suggestions if I may: 1) Lay off the liquids a few hours before the film so you can have plenty of popcorn and drink during the film, 2) take a deep breath and exhale slowly from the moment the theatre goes dark and then remember to breathe often after that, 3) bring tissue…lots and lots of tissue.

They started this together and each scene attempts to bring closure for fans so embrace every moment of the film. Clearly AVENGERS: Endgame was made with love, fun and a sense that the creators wanted to give fans everything – the good, the bad, the cheering and the sad. AVENGERS: Endgame is going to give everyone exactly that.  

In the end - each of these Avengers has something to lose, something to gain and a world that needs to be set right.

SHAZAM! Entertains the Kid in us All

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres from director David F. Sandberg, DC Entertainment and Warner Bros comes the story of a boy who is about to become the one and only SHAZAM!

Billy Batson (Asher Angel) is a young boy who has seen his chair of heart ache. Lost from his mother when he was a child, Billy has bounced around the foster care system. He finds a family with Victor (Cooper Andrews) and Rosa (Marta Milans) who already have a full house.

He meets Freddy (Jack Grazer), Darla (Faithe Herman), Eugene (Ian Chen), Mary (Grace Fulton) and Pedro (Jovan Armand) who embrace him immediately. Trying to keep to himself, Billy has no luck as Freddy attaches himself quickly to his new brother.

But Billy has his own plan and has spent years trying to find the mother he lost so long ago. Carrying a list and coming to the end of it, he doesn't know what to do next. That is until his new siblings offer a technological way to make his search easier and get to it.

While on a subway one day he is transformed into another world where the Wizard Shazam (Djimon Hounsou) tells Billy a story of how his world came to be. He also shares with the boy that all he has to do is say one word and the Wizard transfers his powers to Billy.

And now he is an adult in a superhero suit which freaks Billy (Zachary Levi) out immediately. He races home to tell Jack what has happened (who by the way is totally thrilled) and the two decide to have fun with social media. What the new suited Billy doesn't know is that there is someone else wants the power.

Dr. Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong) has had his share of bad times with family and makes it clear to them that he is about to take over, well, everything. Finding his way to the world where the Wizard lives, he still resents not being chosen the Champion and instead releases the seven deadly sins and takes them to Billy's world.

Billy doesn't really want to fight Dr. Sivana but once the evilness comes for his new family, it is clear that not only does he finally feel up to the task but gets a few friends to get in on the fun!

Levi as the adult Shazam is very, very funny. This is what I love the most about Levi playing this character - he has the wonderful ability to look surprised like a kid, get upset like a kid, become giddy like a kid and ask questions like a kid all the while in the body of an adult. He made me laugh so much and when he comes to care for his new family - it is done as a kid's heart. Levi has captured so much in the film and I had such a good time watching him develop this role.

Strong as Dr. Sivana is an actor I love to see what he will do with a character. Look at his acting resume if you want to see how he can be a gentle character, a complex character, a strong character and even a funny character. Trust when I say that when he wants to portray and evil character - he can do it and do it well. As Sivana he gets another chance to make a character his very own. Yea, I dig Mark Strong. 

Angel as the young Billy is a resourceful and slightly angry young man who spends his time searching and keeping people at arms length. All that aside, Angel has a side that sneaks out to let us know that he is vulnerable no matter how hard he fights it.

Grazer as Freddy is the absolutely perfect sidekick for both Angel and Levi's Billy/Shazam. He uses humor for the complications of his own life and although it doesn't always work, he doesn't lose it. Coming face to face with the other kids at school, it is when he is bullied that Billy sees they have more in common than he wanted to think.

Chen as Eugene is smart and loves a good challenge, Fulton as Mary is getting ready for college but can't decide if that's what she really wants, Armand as Pedro goes along to get along with the sibling group. It is Herman as Darla is the absolute cuteness of the group. She embraces Billy from day one and even when he gives her the cold-shoulder this young girl still radiates love.

Cooper as Victor and Milan as Rosa are happy with the home they've created. From the beginning they accepted Billy with all of his emotional standoffishness and believed that in time he would just blend into their already blended family.

Hounsou as the Wizard Shazam gets a chance to wear cheeky robes and wave around a walking stick that I'm sure he stole from Gandalf the Grey. He has the voice to share the scary story of why he is in the house of empty thrones and wicked statues so that's cool.

Other cast include Ava Preston as Lillian, Meagan Good as Darla, Evan Marsh as Burke Breyer, Natalia Safran as Mrs. Sivana, Andi Osho as Ms. Glover, Carson MacCormac as Brett Bryer, Sarah Bennani as Simone, Ali Badsha as Mehmet Kotil, and David J. MacNeil as Mr. Bryer.

FINAL WORD: This is our introduction to a new superhero with SHAZAM! I will admit that I kind of see him as a clean cut and child like Deadpool. Now understand there is nothing wrong with that at all except their comic homes are in different universes. Besides that, this is a fun film and I would absolutely recommend it for families.

Because of the kid/adult transformation, there are jokes, fun and situations that almost everyone can relate too. The audience I saw the film with didn't hide their excitement about seeing the film and during spend their time laughing, applauding and smiling from ear to ear.

That's what these films are all about, having a good time and doing it with family and friends. SHAZAM! is a film where it's okay to act a little giddy and maybe even a little kid-ish and nobody will mind in the slightest.

In the end - if you want to save the world just say the magic word!

An Emotional and Startling Film from Beginning to End with HOTEL MUMBAI

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres from writer/director Anthony Maras and Bleeker Street comes the terrifying attack on the crown jewel of India with HOTEL MUMBAI.

It is 2008 and Arjun (Dev Patel) is a husband and father who works at the Taj Hotel. His boss Chef Hemant Oberoi (Anupam Kher) and hotel butler Jamon (Alex Pinder) strives to each employee that the hotel has a reputation so the staff must constantly strive for perfection. Stressing that whatever a guest needs is what a guest gets.

Arriving for their stay are couple Zahra (Nazanin Boniadi) and husband David (Armie Hammer) along with their baby and nanny Sally (Tilda Cobham-Hervey). Also Vasili (Jason Isaacs), a Russian who owns a company and knows how to enjoy himself arrives with many more guests checking in.

What no one in Mumbai knows is that a group of men led on the phone by the Bull has a plan for the city. Imran (Amandeep Singh), Abdullah (Suhail Nayyar), Houssam (Manoj Mehra), Rashid (Dinesh Kumar), Ismail (Amriptal Singh) and Ajmal (Kapil Netra) are about to wreak havoc.

Beginning with a restaurant the shooting starts and no one is spared, and as the gunman run, again they shoot and this time at police. The crowd starts running and come to the doors of the Taj Hotel. Begging to be let in, what they don't know is that the gunman are among them.

Within minutes the hotel is under siege as Oberoi tries to get as many guests as possible into a room where Arjun helps all he can. From the reception desk and going room to room, the gunman are indiscriminate and unstoppable. Eating at the hotel restaurant, David, Zahra and Vasili hit the floor and remain quiet but Zahra is frantic that the nanny Sally and her baby don't know what's coming.

The gunman are guided by their constant telephone calls from the Bull who keep the frenzy going. Police can only sit by and watch helplessly as most of their force has been killed and the Special Forces are coming from Delhi.

The survivors must work together under the most unimaginable horror to survive and save as many as they can.

Patel as Arjun portrays such a humble man who wants to do a good job. It doesn't help that on this particular day he has footwear issues. He immediately goes into his job and is pleasant, knowledgeable and very endearing. That is what Patel does, he takes a character like Arjun and gives him such relatability and heart and in a second has a role in THE WEDDING GUEST and turns into something completely different. In HOTEL MUMBAI he puts himself second, third and fourth sometimes and always ahead of everyone else. The final scene with Patel just tore me up. THAT is how good Patel is on the screen.

Kher as Oberoi is the father figure of the hotel and his staff listens to him. Doing his best to keep everyone calm and, more importantly, quiet, he never forgets to treat them with dignity (even if some fly off the hinges). Pinder as Jamon has a small role but he constantly reminds everyone that the Taj Hotel is home to the staff and they will defend it.

Boniadi as Zahra is a mother who is going to do anything for her child and husband. Her plans are daring, dangerous and actually made me catch my breath a time or two. Hammer as David wants to bring the family back together which means finding a way to get back up to their room without the gunman discovering him.

Isaac as Vasili is a Russian who isn't afraid of the gunman but knows not to tangle with them either. He takes a protective role for Zahra when she needs it most. He usually is a good guy or a bad guy but in this role he has the opportunity to be both but has his reasons.

Singh, Nayyar, Mehra, Kumar and Amriptal Singh have the most difficult of all roles in this film. As the gunman they are wrapped up tightly in this story with their weapons and their belief that the voice of Bull is guiding them correctly. When I say this isn't an easy role I absolutely mean it. From the moment the first shots are fired, these characters are going to be absolutely disgusted by anyone viewing the film. Of course that is the point but man it takes some acting guts to put yourselves in a role that even though absolutely necessary to the story.

Other cast include Adithi Kalkunte as Simple, Vipin Sharma as Dilip, Gaurav Paswala as Sanjay, Natasha Bordizzo as Bree, Angus McLaren as Eddie, Chantal Contouri as Mrs. Karvelas, Carmen Duncas as Lady Wynn and Sachin Joab as Vijay.

FINAL WORD: To the actors may I say a heartfelt thank you. This is not an easy story to tell, nor could it have been easy to put on film, yet you all took a leap of belief that it is a story that needed to be told. To the writers John Collee and Anthony Masas, it is important that HOTEL MUMBAI not be sugar coated and you both wrote that extraordinarily well.

This is based on true events and no event could have been more terrifying than this one. We all know a little of the story that comes out from the news but until the details are put in front of you it is quite easy to forget. I do not think I will ever now forget what happened at the Taj Hotel. There have only been a handful of true event films that have hit me hard and the hardest was the 2012 film THE IMPOSSIBLE.

I can honestly say that now, said film will have to share the top spot with HOTEL MUMBAI. This film brings the brutality, the humanity, the intensity and the utter heartbreak with each frame of the film. In the midst of the constant barrage of gunfire is the bravery and courage of those who would not let a moment go by without helping - even if it cost them dearly.

There wasn't a moment where I couldn't catch my breath, found myself whispering at the screen, put my hand over my mouth and yes, even felt my eyes well up with tears. This is an extraordinary film from the beginning until the end scene that reminds us of what is truly important - and it isn't shoes.

In the end - in November of 2008 terror struck the heart of the India.

STOCKHOLM is Filled with Twists on a Bank Heist

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres from writer/director Robert Budreau and Smith Global Media is the story of a bank heist that would lead to a phrase we all know beginning with STOCKHOLM. 

It is 1973 and Lars Nystrom (Ethan Hawke) along with partner Gunnar Sorensson (Mark Strong) have decided that they are going to rob a bank in Stockholm, Sweden. Taking hostages including Bianca Lind (Noomi Rapace), they work with officials to get what they want.

What they want is money and an escape car and make it very clear to Chief Mattsson (Christopher Heyerdahl). Feeling they aren’t taking them seriously, Lars looses it a little giving officials till morning to meet their demands. In the meantime Bianca is trying to keep it together.

Then the telephone calls from reporters begin and Bianca seems to side with Lars and Gunnar. When the Prime Minister catches wind of the interview he tries to convince the hostages that they are in danger. That’s when Lars gets the idea to make sure that everyone watching believes they are dangerous and Bianca goes along with it.

Now the officials are taking them serious and Bianca, Christopher and Klara are all for helping their kidnappers. It is the beginning of ‘Stockholm Syndrome’

Hawke as Nystrom just wanted a simple bank robbery and when it doesn’t turn out to be simple, he starts showing a human side to his captives. They begin to connect and this puts Chief Mattsson in a mode of trying to break up what is happening inside the bank. But who is crazier – the robbers or the law?

Hawke as Nystrom seems to have all the bad guy moves in place to rob a bank but when it all goes awry; he is the first to sort of panic it out. Never quite sure about his partner or what the crazy Chief of Police will do, it just adds enough frustration to bring out moments of brilliance. Back in action Hawke gives a complex performance that isn’t going to end well.

Strong as Sorensson is like a brother to Nystrom and with that comes brotherly agitation and a few well thrown punches. I love everything Strong does and this is a bit of a strange character that never lets the viewer truly know what is deal is. I’m okay with that!

Rapace as Bianca is a woman who had no idea her day would include wondering if her husband can make dinner while she’s busy being a hostage. Not feeling much in the way of fear, it is more like curiosity about the two men who have the authorities guessing from one minute to the next. 

Heyerdahl as Chief Mattsson is, in my opinion, crazier than the crazy bank robbers. With every moment that goes by, he isn’t exactly sure what is going to happen. Trying to keep Nystrom and Sorensson calm, his frustration begins to show and it isn’t pretty. 

Other cast include Thorbjorn Harr as Christopher Lind, Bea Santos as Klara Mardh, Mark Rendall as Elov Eriksson, John Ralston as Detective Jackobsson, Shanti Roney as Olof Palme, Ian Matthews as Detective Vinter, Vladimir Jon Culbrt as Davin and Christopher Wagelin as Vincent. 

It is easy to see where the term ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ comes from watching this film. It is Nystrom that shows Bianca a human side with all the frailties and insecurities that come with him. Klara and Christopher follow suit when they realize that the police don’t seem to care if they survive the whole thing. Their tactics pretty much are in line to take everybody out.

It is Hawke and Rapace that keep the story going as they get to know one another and basically what makes them want to survive. Strong is the silent partner who has every reason in the world to be exactly that – silent!

The story is based on the 1973 bank robbery that was written about by Daniel Lang in an article called “The Bank Drama” for the New Yorker in 1974. 

In the end – based on an absurd but true story!

THE MUSTANG

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to limited release from director Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre and Focus Features comes a story of self-redemption with the help of THE MUSTANG.

Roman Coleman (Matthias Schoenaerts) has been in prison for twelve years. Mainly keeping to himself in solitary, his temper flares in a second bringing him even more problems. Transferred to a new prison, he refuses to help anyone understand how to get through, not even daughter Martha (Gideon Adlon).

Outside the prison walls are horse stalls and a man named Myles (Bruce Dern) who teaches inmates how to prepare horses for sale. These are mustangs captured by the government and land management and all sale proceeds go back to them. At first Roman has no interested until he hears continual banging from a stall away from the corals.

Then he comes face to face with a very angry mustang and Roman is captured in another way. Myles sees that there is something between the two and brings the convict into the prisons program. Put in the hands of inmate Elijah (Keith Johnson), Roman gets a lesson here and there about how to reach the untouchable horse.

Newly named Marcus, Roman works his new ward daily and something happens to them both. So much so that when daughter Martha comes to visit, Roman confesses what brought him to jail and hopes there can be something between father and daughter once again.

Roman has other worries as well when top inmate Dan (Josh Stewart) decides he wants something from his cell mate and is willing to hurt Martha to make that happen. Both Roman and Marcus become a mixture of emotions and just when they are in sync – one sudden jolt forces them both to come to terms with who they are and where they are meant to be.

It is all in how you define love and freedom!

Schoenaerts as Roman gives absolutely everything to this role. There is anger, confusion, heart, soul, rage, revenge, and confession – just a gambit of where he once was to where we meet him. Strong willed from the film’s beginning, Schoenaerts character is broken down slowly and surely by a beautiful animal that has so much in common with Roman. I could not take my eyes of this actor who portrays a man who slowly comes to terms with a mistake brought on by anger that just can’t seems to subside.

Dern as Myles is a horse trainer who sees something click between Roman and Marcus. He puts a skittish faith and sees it pay off daily. Even when the unthinkable happens, Dern is strong in character and lends it to Roman when he needs it the most. Dern has always been on my list of amazing actors and it is satisfying to see him continue to jump in and lasso a role that suits him.

Aldon as Martha has just as much anger as her father but she is less physical about it. Instead hiding it in the way she speaks as bits of anger seep out with anger at being left alone growing up. Johnson as Elijah is very happy working with horses and takes a keen interest in seeing that Roman succeeds. The problem is that is outside the prison, what happens inside is something else.

Other cast include Jason Mitchell as Henry, Thomas Smittle as Tom, Noel Gugliemi as Roberto, George Schroeder as Officer Peters and Connie Britton as the Psychologist.

THE MUSTANG has a storyline that tugs every fiber of a being. From the beginning of the film and the horses are captured, it plants the seed of emotion wondering why these beautiful creatures can’t just be left alone. In that instant, the film becomes personal to watch.

It is personal in regards to the horses and everything after that. There is a mental encouragement that happens as the film goes on – encouraging the horse to let go of its anger but not let go of its spirit and encouraging Roman to stop hiding from the world. The final encouragement is that they both realize they are cut from the same universal cloth.

There is also a constant shift in the film that takes the two steps forward and five steps back in both Roman and Marcus yet there is no way as the viewer to lose hope. Schoenaerts and the lovely mustang we know as Marcus invite us into a story that only the two of them can possibly tell.

The film is cinematically beautiful with the surrounding wilderness and plopped in its center is a brick building holding men. Between the wilderness and the prison is a place of hope that, at times, makes you forget about the other two worlds. Unfortunately, the other two worlds are very, very powerful.

In the end – they are both untamed souls and kindred spirits!

THE CHAPERONE 

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres from director Michael Engler, writer Julian Fellowes and based on the book by Laura Moriarty and PBS Films with THE CHAPERONE.

Norma Carlisle (Elizabeth McGovern) is a married woman and mother of grown twin sons living in 1920’s Kansas. Her life has been turned upside down and she is feeling the need to do something different. When she hears that the young 16-year-old Louise Brooke (Haley Lu Richardson) needs a chaperone while she attends dance school in New York, Norma sees an opportunity.

Husband Alan (Campbell Scott) doesn’t seem thrilled to see his wife go but she makes it clear it is something she needs to do. Norma and Louise board the train for the trip and it takes only a moment before the young girl tries her hand at breaking away. Tired of the small town life, she is going to push every envelope possible.

Arriving in New York, both women are excited and Louise prepares to meet dance teachers Ruth St. Dennis (Miranda Otto) and Raymond (Matt McGrath) at the Denishaw School. While Louise is dancing during the day, Norma decides that she is going to visit the convent where she was an orphan. Hoping to discover anything about her parents, she is met by a nun who isn’t exactly helpful.

Both Louise and Norma are trying to find their way and with where they come from to where they are now. Louise is pushing the boundaries of propriety and the mindset that she’ll never return home. Norma is pushing her own boundaries of propriety to discover that life is full of lies, deceptions and realities that are continually tested.

Who will break away and who will break the rules?

McGovern as Norma is a woman who started off life as an orphan, raised on a farm and married off at a young age – all three of those things done to survive. Once married to Mr. Carlisle, she once again played the role as she had been told. It takes one moment and opening a door to discover that her life has been played out to please others and not herself. I loved watching McGovern take step after step to find Norma’s own truth and happiness. 

Richardson as Louise is a rebellious young woman who doesn’t like playing by the rules. Instead she wants to break away from a family that doesn’t seem to care what she does, as long as she does it without rumors starting. Instantly in New York Richardson lets her character loose wanting McGovern’s Norma to join in. I think the final scene between Richardson and McGovern just shook my heart – and I believe it will shake yours too!

Scott as Mr. Carlisle is everything a man of that era would be. He is an impeccably dressed lawyer who keeps home and hearth comfortable while keeping his reputation sterling. He also does as is expected of him by marrying and having children. Scott keeps everything level headed and even when McGovern’s Norma tries to break away, he keeps it calm so no one asks questions or wonders what is going on in their own home.

Otto as Ruth St. Dennis keeps an eye on Louise, especially since she seems to have captured the attention of her partner Raymond played by McGrath. Both of these characters are serious about their dance school and even when Louise becomes a little reckless, it is Norma who steers her back.

Other cast include Victoria Hill as Myra Brooks, Robert Fairchild as Ted Shawn, Tyler Weaks as Howard Carlisle, Kate Grimes as Ms. Burton, Andrew Burnap as Floyd, Bill Hoag as Jack, Ellen Toland as Greta, George Hampe as Earl Carlisle, Sean Hudock as Norman Ross and Blythe Danner as Mary O’Dell. 

THE CHAPERONE is a look inside the life of women in the 1920’s and what was considered respectable, acceptable and expected. Marrying and having children seemed to be the only choices that Norma had but it is Louise who wants to break away. Dancing her way to New York, Norma mentally dances along to get some answers of her own. 

Even though both women see a freedom in the big city, they first must come to terms with the lies and deceptions of the past. Each has choices to make and, for me, some of those choices are groundbreaking. I will let you decide who breaks the mold and who becomes trapped by it.

I am a period piece person so THE CHAPERONE is in my wheelhouse of films. In this case not only is the casting brilliantly done but the set design and costuming just take me away deeper into the film itself. This is truly and enjoyable film!

Moriarty wrote The Chaperone in 2012 but is also the author of four other books including The Center of Everything, The Rest of Her Life, When I’m Falling and American Heart. 

In the end – one trip can change everything!

ARCTIC Brings Life and Death into a Cold Reality



Jeri Jacquin


In theatres from writer/director Joe Penna and Bleeker Street comes the harsh reality and decisions that pit him against the ARCTIC.

Overgard (Mads Mikkelsen) is stranded after an airplane crash in the desolate part of the Arctic. Living day to day he rises, fishes, makes sure a message can be seen from the air and sits on a hill to send out a signal to anyone who may be listening. Living inside the wreckage of his plane is the only thing between himself and the elements.

While sending out his usual signal, he suddenly sees a helicopter and couldn't be more surprised. Glee turns to horror when the crafts swings out of control and crashes to the ground. Racing towards the wreckage, Overgard discovers one pilot dead and another, a young woman (Maria Smaradottir), still alive.

Gathering what medical supplies are on board, he loads the young woman onto a sled and takes her back to the plane. Returning to the wreckage, he gathers up anything that can be used to help continue their survival. One such item is a map!

As the days pass, Overgard continues to study the map and use the limited medical supplies but it is clear that his patient needs more than he can provide. That's when he makes the decision to load up and pull her to the nearest station to find help for them both.

The trip is long, arduous and Overgard is faced with decisions that bring him to the breaking point!

Mikkelsen as Overgard is a man who seems to have fallen into a day to day routine of survival. He always keeps his safe haven of a wrecked plane within visual distance, especially when there is a chance to encounter animals who live in the Arctic. There is a back-story to how he came to survive the crash but there are only glimpses of it which leaves the rest to the viewer. Mikkelsen is a tremendous actor and I will watch absolutely everything he is in. There is something mysterious about the way he portrays characters and with one look he can stop the world from spinning - well, at least in my world.

Smaradottir as the young woman tries her best to not only communicate with Overgard but hang on, especially when seeing all he has done to keep them both alive. Her role is limited to be sure but each time he checks on her, it becomes clear that there isn't much time as he pleads with her to just hold on a little longer. That is pretty much what I was saying to myself through the entire film!

There isn't much dialogue in the film but then again there doesn't need to be. There are a few moments when Overgard talks to himself that made me chuckle and there are times when he attempts to communicate with the wounded pilot. Again that is what makes
Mikkelsen engaging to watch, everything you want to know you need only watch his expressions, the way he carries himself and the anger that comes with wanting to survive.

The cinematography is absolutely breathtaking with the vastness of wilderness, the peaks and valleys and the unforgiving moments where nature has its own way of doing things. Each time they stopped, Overgard would MacGyver a way to bring them shelter with the minimal supplies he dragged across the snow.

There are many survival films but there is something extremely breathtaking about a storyline that strips away all the trappings and forces choices that none of us would ever want to make. Throughout the film, this character makes those choices with every step he takes because now survival isn't just about him - he now has a reason to continue that is about more than one person.

ARCTIC is truly a visual and emotional ride that is beautiful, challenging, heartbreaking and will bring about a breath holding ending that you will long remember after the film has ended.

In the end - survival is its own journey.



MARY MAGDALENE Tells a Story from Another Perspective

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres from director Garth Davis, writers Helen Edmundson and Philippa Goslett along with IFC Films comes the story of MARY MAGDALENE.

Mary Magdalene (Rooney Mara) is a young woman living in Judea in 33 AD that is having a difficult time finding her place. Her family is constantly worried because of her emotional state and can’t understand why she doesn’t marry.

When her father tries to have her cleansed of what ails her, Mary falls into a serious state. That’s when she meets Jesus (Joaquin Phoenix) who speaks to her in a way no one else has. She finds comfort in his company and to the astonishment of her family, Mary decides to follow Jesus.

Followers Peter (Chiwetel Ejiofor), Judas (Tahar Rahim), James (Tawfeek Barhom), Philip (Uri Gavriel), and Matthew (Michael Moshonov) among others are not sure how they feel about Mary being with them. They are even more surprised that Jesus speaks freely with Mary and includes her in helping to speak with people.

But they have ideas of their own about what Jesus should be doing and how he should be freeing his people. Mary is surprised by what they think and does not hesitate to tell them so. The problem becomes more pronounced when Peter makes it clear that he believes Mary is weakening Jesus. 

That does not stop Jesus from sharing with Mary his feelings and also shares what is to come. Their next stop is to Jerusalem where Jesus is not welcome by the Roman’s or his own people. As what is to come draws close and Jesus feels the weight of the world, Mary makes it very clear that she will be with Jesus every step of the way and beyond.

It is what happens three days later when Mary tells Peter and the other apostles about Jesus that she is once again comes under scrutiny. She doesn’t let it stop her from the strength she has gained in her journey with Jesus nor do they change the path she is dedicated to faithfully continuing.

Mara as Mary puts in a performance of a struggling young woman ahead of her time. She doesn’t want to follow traditions of what her family thinks a woman should do and be. There is something more out in the world and she knows it is just waiting. The dilemma is the hurt she knows her family feels, especially when she turns down a marriage proposal. Mara puts in the emotional time showing every thought this character had up on the screen mixed in with her continuing struggle against those who would try to put her back in the box.

Phoenix as Jesus is Mary’s mirror in that he also struggles with not being a traditional man but instead going out into the world to do good works. He is in constant pull between what everyone else thinks his role is and what he knows his role is. Jesus and Mary discuss what they can together and come to understand their protection of one another. Phoenix gives his take of Jesus as a man who already knows the course his life is to take and even in his human frailty and questioning knows Mary will help him see it through.

Ejiofor as Peter is the man that stands between Jesus and Mary as I see it. He wants Jesus to be the symbol of Jewish freedom but by Peter’s standards and he wants Mary to just serve the wine at dinner and stop talking to Jesus. Ejiofor portrays Peter as another who struggles but his, it seems, comes from a sort of jealousy. Rahim as Judas decides to force Jesus to do what they all think he should and the repercussions of his decision are here with us today. Rahim definitely has the role of a character who doesn’t examine beyond the choices he makes and this actor does so exceeding well.

Other cast include Tsahi Halevi as Ephraim, Shira Haas as Heah, Ryan Corr as Joseph, Charles Babalola as Andrew, Tcheky Karyo as Elisha, Lubna Azabal as Susannah, Denis Menochet as Daniel, and Ariane Labed as Rachel. 

MARY MAGDALENE is, of course, the story of a woman who has been throughout history cast as a harlot, a prostitute and a woman of questionable morals. This film examines otherwise and shows instead a strong woman who sees herself as something more than a wife and a mother. In 33 AD, being anything else meant that there was something wrong and it had to be the devil working his ways.

When Mary does take a stand for what she wants and where she is going, Mara gives this moment a face we can all identify with. Now we see another side of a woman who not only boldly breaks with tradition but follows a belief that makes sense to her heart and soul. Phoenix Jesus treats her as an equal, speaks to her as an equal and allows her to stand as an equal.

This film is beautifully put together with a star filled cast yet each actor downplays their character in a way that is relatable. Each is also emotional, understandable and brings us into their personal struggle with who they are and the paths they take. 

In the end – her story will be told!


MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS

Jeri Jacquin

Coming this Friday from director Josie Rourke and Focus Features is the story of a woman who would be more with MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS.

Mary (Saoirse Ronan) is returning to Scotland from France after the death of her husband King Francis. Taking up her crown as Queen of Scotland, she is met by her half-brother James (James McArdle) the Earl of Moray who doesn’t seem pleased to see her.

He isn’t the only one as John Knox (David Tennant) makes it very clear that he isn’t about to change faiths to accommodate her. Mary makes it very clear that he his council is no longer welcome at her court. James tries to tell Mary that she has started something that could hurt her along the way.

The one thing Mary wants is to seal any breach with her cousin Queen Elizabeth I (Margot Robbie). Elizabeth is being told repeatedly by her advisor William Cecil (Guy Pearce) that Mary is a danger and only wants to take the throne. Trying to find a middle ground, Elizabeth suggests that Mary marry an Englishman and offers up her own lover Robert Dudley (Joe Alwyn). Mary has other plans and marries Lord Darnley (Jack Lowden).

Realizing she may have made a mistake, the only way to solidify her position is by having a child before Elizabeth. When she has a son, it changes her feelings and she shares with Elizabeth asking her to be the child’s godmother. Elizabeth believes that this may just be the tie that binds the two women.

Mary is having a difficult time as well when Darnley has no problem showing his disregard for her position as Queen. When her own council tries to take the throne, Darnley is talked into being part of the conspiracy. Intrigue continues to plague Mary as the men around her lay claim, force marriages and don’t understand the fierceness of the Queen.

Seeing one last hope, Mary asks to meet with her sister-cousin Elizabeth in hopes to get support in fighting back those who would take the Scottish throne. Although Elizabeth feels for her cousin, it becomes clear to Mary that she may be at the end of her reign. 

Two queens who want the same thing in different ways.

Ronan as Mary is remarkable but then again she is a remarkable actress. The first movie I ever saw her in was the intense and emotionally draining film ATONEMENT followed by the equally intense film THE LOVELY BONES. Since then nothing has stopped her from honing her craft in every way possible and with characters that have obviously taught her more and more about choosing roles and defining who she is as an actress. MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS is another example of why I will see every piece of filmmaking she is in – always. This is a character driven by a woman up against men who see her as a trophy to be one and then disguarded because she is, after all, only a woman. Well done Ronan, well done!

Robbie as Elizabeth doesn’t hesitate to put every little bit of her Queen out there – from her lovers, illness and inability to be told who to marry and what children to have. Robbie presents a strong force of a woman that shows moments of private struggle but when push comes to shove Robbie helps Elizabeth straightens her spine and her crown. The scene between the two queens is one of the most poignant and double-edged I have seen in a while on film.

McArdle as James is clearly a man who has been led by the nose at the hands of the council and happily so until Mary comes back. Then his little hurt feelings are put out for all to see and he wants justice for it all. McArdle is an actor on a mission and playing the role of a spurned brother isn’t easy. Lowden as Lord Darnley is just another man in Mary’s life that believes he is owed something at the cost of everything else. Tennant as Knox is a religious zealot who barks a good game hoping others will do the fighting for him.

Pearce as Cecil is a part of the pack on the other side of the pond who wants what he wants and thinks whispering in Elizabeth’s ear means he will get it. Alwyn as Dudley is a man who love Elizabeth the woman but takes orders from Elizabeth the Queen. Not easy being told to go be your enemy’s husband and Dudley is only saved by Mary’s hot headedness.

Other cast include Gemma Chan as Elizabeth Hardwick, Brendan Coyle as Matthew Stewart, Ian Hart as Lord Maitland, Adrian Lester as Lord Randolph, Maria-Victoria Dragus as Mary Fleming, Alex Beckett as Walter Mildmay, Ismael Cordova as David Rizzio and Simon Russell as Robert Beale.

MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS is a film about two women in a man’s era fighting for their crowns. They should never have had to make that choice between the two of them but with so many men whispering in their ears, I don’t know how they lasted as long as they did with each other.

Mary clearly didn’t know what Elizabeth did and that is you practically have to give up being a woman to hold onto the throne. Clearly having more time to learn that lesson than Mary, Elizabeth wanted to embrace their sisterhood-of-crowns but hard headedness got in both of their ways.

The film is beautifully done and the costuming is breathtaking. I have a weakness for period piece films and when they are done as well as MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS, well I can’t help but find no fault in it. 

There have been other films that have touched on the relationship between Mary and Elizabeth, and even a television show called Reign that gave viewers a glimpse of her life in France. MARY, QUEEN OF SCOTS is a look at what happened once she left France and before the infamous and shocking red dress. From a young woman married to a French king to becoming a widow and returning queen of her own country – there is nothing about her life that is easy or without intrigue and betrayal.

In the end – bow to no one!

THEY SHALL NOT GROW OLD 

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres this Friday from director Peter Jackson and Warner Bros. is a look at the first World War in THEY SHALL NOT GROW OLD.

It has been one hundred years since the end of World War I and with over 600 hours of footage, director Jackson along with the Imperial War Museum archives and the BBC tell a story that has never been experienced before.

In those archives are also the voices of men who lived through the war from 1914 to 1918 and share every detail of their military time. When it is realized that war is coming, it wasn’t just men in their twenties signing up. Boys as young as 15 were lying about their age to join and make their way to training and to war.

For some this was their first experience in the world let along a world at war. Their stories of coming together was a mixture of leaving home for the first time and not quite grasping what they were about to do.

Jackson takes the black and white footage and colorized it and within moments we are brought into their world. The film can be seen in 2D and 3D, I saw it in 3D and it is stunning. It is his hope that by telling a small fraction of a larger story of the war that viewers will see and hear for themselves what has not been before.

In the voices of the men unfolds their life once they became soldiers and that includes every detail of marching, eating, sleeping, friendships and the life of living day to day in the trenches. The German forces are on the other side of a field and in the middle is the constant barraging of bombs.

From the very beginning of the film it is clear that this is a documentary like nothing I had seen before. Every gambit of human emotion was happening on the screen but also the response of an audience who was totally invested in the experience. There were moments of gasping and moments of chuckling and in between moments of keeping emotions together.

Transforming 100 year old footage, Jackson and his team have brought together an incredible accounting of World War I. By colorizing the footage he has brought this piece of a larger story into such perspective that it is almost hard to believe that the film is only 90+ minutes. There isn’t a moment that didn’t hold the audience captive and not one person left their seat until the film was finished.

I have spent days thinking about this film because of everything that Jackson managed to put together. He was not shy about the personal life of the soldiers nor was he shy about death in war. Once again the emotions of the film bring a quiet theatre even quieter.

THEY SHALL NOT GROW OLD is an amazing documentary from beginning to end and what Jackson accomplished in four years is nothing short of stellar. Jackson also has an investment in the film as his own grandfather fought in the war and he did not receive compensation for the film. It is a documentary but I have not felt this moved by a documentary in quite a long time. 

To see the young faces of the men who fought World War I in the way Jackson has presented them tugged at my heart. We have to remember that 100 years ago; these soldiers did not have the technology available today so when you wanted to get a message to someone else on the line, a soldier ran it. Tanks were experimental and crude at best and personal protection entrusting your life to the soldier next to you.

Surviving on rations and taking care of ones self was done through creativity and ingenuity that most of us today can’t even wrap our minds around. That is what this documentary does, helps us all wrap our minds around something that we’ve only read about in books. Now, that word has jumped from page to screen and given faces to it all.

THEY SHALL NOT GROW OLD is a must-see on ever level and I would even go so far as to say it is filled with teachable moments. Copies of the film are already in schools in the UK. As Jackson states in the beginning, this is only a small piece of a large war and it is my hope that he continues with this work and brings more to audiences. I would be the first to watch a series of this work!

This is a telling, visually confronting and soul searching film and worth every moment in the theatre to see and experience.

In the end – this is the true experience of being a soldier.


THE FAVOURITE Stars Three Dazzling Women 

Jeri Jacquin

I absolutely love period pieces so I have been anxiously waiting for director Yorgos Lanthimos and Fox Searchlight Pictures offering of THE FAVOURITE.

Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) sits on the throne in 18th Century England and Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz) is her constant companion. Their relationship is one of straight forwardness and longing. England is also at war with France and Lady Sarah is keeping an eye on it while taking care of the Queen’s frailties and occasional childlike temper tantrums.

Enter Abigail (Emma Stone) a fall aristocrat turned servant girl who isn’t well received in the kitchen of the Queen. Sarah sees how her cousin is treated and becomes a mentor to the young girl. Abigail wants nothing more than to return to the life she once knew and realizes this just might be the way for that to happen.

During one of the Queens outbursts, Abigail takes pity on her and starts a friendship over the royals “children” (rabbits). The Queen is delighted as they spend the afternoon sharing and laughing together. Sarah catches wind of what is happening with the Queen and lets it be known in her own way that trying to weasel in to the Queen’s favor might not be such a good idea.

Now that the gauntlet is thrown down – Abigail and Sarah go toe to toe for the Queen’s attentions and who truly cares for the monarch is at stake.

I must start with Colman as Queen Anne because she is absolutely stellar, absolutely. From her tantrums to her insecurities to her loyalties, Colman portrays the woman as most would never see a monarch – vulnerable. Knowing that parliament is consistently against her, she attempts to turn to those she should be able to trust. I love Colman’s performance with ever emotion lay plainly before us, I do so hope her performance is recognized and that accolades are given. She most definitely deserves them for this role.

Weisz as Lady Sarah is the smart, politically savvy and is the no-nonsense taking companion to the Queen. She works hard at keeping the crown on her royal head and makes it her business to know what everyone is doing at all times. Weisz can pull off sassy and sarcastic in the same breath better than other actress I know. Of course she does have her hands full with Ms. Stone.

Stone as Abigail is a fallen aristocrat who doesn’t want to stay that way. Getting into the Queen’s kitchen is the first step and getting into her heart may just get Abigail off her knees and high in the rankings. Stone begins as a fawn-eyed girl who is thrilled to have Lady Sarah show an interest in her, but of course we all know that Stone can pull off fawn-eyed girl with the best of them. I loved her antics from start to finish and kept thinking about Abigail, ‘just because you can play the game doesn’t mean you should!’

Other cast include Jennifer White as Mrs. Meg, LillyRose Stevens as Sally, James Smith as Godolphin, Mark Gatiss as Lord Marlborough, Edward Aczel as Earl of Stratford, Carolyn Saint-Pe as Madame Tournee, Joe Alwyn as Masham and Nicholas Hoult as Harley.

THE FAVOURITE is a gloriously fascinating film about three women who are filled with so much want that goes in so many different directions. That being said, Abigail and Sarah have much different relationships with Queen Anne although you’d have a tough time convincing Abigail of that.

Sarah and the Queen understand one another clearly and it is also clear that Sarah runs the part of the kingdom that the Queen is to busy being petulant to deal with. That’s the crux of their relationship – one is clearly and adult, the other is drowning from the weight of the crown. Yet in that is a relationship of hilarity and sadness mixed together.

Abigail being the new girl to all of this is a distraction for the Queen when Sarah is gone. The Queen believes she has a new and understanding friend when it is clear Abigail has decided to get what Sarah has and take a lot of short cuts to get there. She doesn’t have the understanding of the other two and that’s where she makes mistakes.

This is a film that spans every human emotion possible in that you don’t know at times whether to laugh, cry or be outright shocked. In an era of excess and political gain, this cast revels in that history with marvelous results. The surroundings only adds to the story telling with its opulence and grandeur along with stunning clothing and jewelry. 

THE FAVOURITE has already been recognized by the British Independent Film Awards, Camerimage, and Ghent International Film Festival Gotham Awards. The Hollywood Film Awards gave a win for Rachel Weisz and Costume Designer Sandy Powell. The Venice Film Festival win came for Director Yorgos Lanthimos and Best Actress for Olivia Colman (well done!).

This is one of my favorite films of the year so when deciding what regurgitation to see in theatres, chose something new and amazing with THE FAVOURITE!

In the end – some wounds do not close!