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
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
Gabriel Iglesias
Scott Mantz
Ben Lyons
Gil Bellows
Kevin Pollack
David MacKenzie & 
Gil Birmingham
GLASS is About to Shatter

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres this Friday from writer/director M. Knight Shyamalan and Universal Pictures comes the gripping gathering of fear with GLASS.

Here we are and it has been 19 years since David Dunn (Bruce Willis) discovered he had an unusual ability and has attempted to live a low profile life. Not laying so low after two years is Hedwig (James McAvoy) and the Horde who have struck again and again. Dunn wants to find him before he can destroy more lives.

Discovering where his newest victims are held, Dunn finds them and has a showdown with The Beast. That isn’t the highlight of their meeting, the sudden surrounding of police catches them both off guard. Taken down they are both escorted to the same facility as another famous patient.

Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson) is a psychiatrist who deals with patients suffering from delusions of grandeur and that includes Mr. Glass (Samuel L. Jackson). She isn’t pleased that he has been kept sedated like a zombie since his capture. Having all three, Dr. Staple has only a few days to treat, or convince, all three that they are not super heroes of any kind.

Dunn keeps his cool and doesn’t say much because it seems that the Horde is upset and confused about the confrontation and Mr. Glass is unresponsive. The goal of all three is to get out before Dr. Staple makes sure they are committed for good.

But there are secrets to be revealed coming from unexpected places and those who will do whatever it takes to make sure it is all exposed!

That’s all you are getting from me.

Willis as Dunn slides right back into a role he took on nineteen years ago and it feels like no time has passed. That’s what I have always loved about Willis, the roles he has chosen over his career and, although a few bumps here and there, it never has changed my enjoyment of his performances. Dunn was a broken man who found a connection in his life he didn’t know existed and that is how Willis embraced the character. Nineteen years later, his personality has barely changed but his abilities have sharpened.

Jackson as Mr. Glass (yes, I said Mr.) spends a lot of time comatose but that doesn’t stop his mind from churning. Still believing in who they all are, his twitchy eye isn’t happy with the insights spouted by Dr. Staple. Speaking of her, Paulson is the monologuer of the film and she does her best to convince the gang (because the Horde does constitute a gang) that it’s all in their minds. 

Stealing the entire film is McAvoy as Kevin Wendell Crumb/ The Beast, Patricia, Dennis, Hedwig, Barry, Jade, Orwell, Heinrich, Norma and a host of others. There are moments where the camera doesn’t leave his face and characters flash seamlessly like the strobe lights in his room. Since the 2016 film SPLIT of which I’ve watched more times that I can even count, McAvoy slides right into the role of sheer madness and I’m in complete awe of his performance. Playing one or two roles is hard enough but man, oh man, does McAvoy ever show that being about twenty people including rock-hard cut Beast had me totally invested in the film.

Other cast include Luke Kirby as Pierce, Marisa Brown as Carol, Charlayne Woodard as Elijah’s Mother and Adam Thompson as Daryl. Look for Spencer Treat Clark as Joseph and Anya Taylor-Joy as Casey.

There is so much here that I’m not talking about because on the screen before the film started was a message from Director Shyamalan asking, “If you guys could please keep the secrets of the film so all audiences on opening day can have the experience you are going to have, it would mean the world to me and the cast and crew”. Well, he did ask nicely so I’m going to do exactly that.

I ain’t tellin’ you sh*t in the way of details and I’m okay with doing that actually. Living in this social media world I will let someone else spoil it for you but it certainly won’t be me. The story M. Knight Shyamalan started telling nineteen years ago works for me completely in 2019.

There were a few moments where my jaw dropped as I looked around the crowd to see if anyone else had the same reaction and was thrilled. It seemed the audience was right with me when the secrets started twisting, turning and spilling in all aspects of these three characters.

Well done Mr. Shyamalan! You chose the right actors to bring your story out nineteen years ago and two years ago only to reunite us with them – all of them and what a thrill ride it is!

In the end – the world of Superheroes will be shattered!


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!

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!

ONCE UPON A DEADPOOL Brings Christmas Cheer – Sort Of!

Jeri Jacquin

In theatres this weekend from director David Leitch, Marvel Entertainment and 20th Century Fox comes a man who needs no introduction other than the words ONCE UPON A DEADPOOL (aka DEADPOOL 2).

Deadpool has decided that he wants to tell a merry story and only one person deserves his attention. Fred Savage wakes to find himself duct taped to a bed in a room that seems all too familiar. Wanting to read Fred the story of Deadpool, it might take an awkward turn a time or two.

So the story begins as Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) is back as Deadpool and he’s happier than ever with gal-pal Vanessa (Morena Baccarin). On their anniversary Wade has a little something planned except his mercenary work decides to follow him home and bring mayhem along with them. 

Sending his life in a tailspin and ready to do his worst, it isn’t until Colossus (Stefan Kapicic) brings Wade back to the Xavier Mansion that he sees a use for life. Agreeing to be an X-Men trainee along with Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand), they meet Russell Collins (Julian Dennison). Calling himself Firefist, he refuses to be abused any further at the orphanage.

A few bad fighting choices puts both Deadpool and Firefist in a place called the ‘Icebox’ that stores mutants. That actually makes it easier for future arrival Cable (Josh Brolin) to find his target – which isn’t Deadpool much to his disappointment – but the young Russell.

Deciding that he must help the young boy, Deadpool puts together a group he calls X-Force and begins accepting applications with buddy Weasel (T.J. Miller). Their goal is to find the prison truck transport and get Russell back. What they don’t know is that Russell finds a friend in Juggernaut, who has his own issues with super heroes. 

Cable finally tells Deadpool why he wants the boy and that he must be stopped before reaching the orphanage or there is no turning back with a future fate sealed. Now Deadpool, Cable and his new recruit lucky Domino (Zazie Beetz) face off with Russell and Juggernaut but he is too strong. Thankfully Colossus and Warhead decide that Deadpool needs their help and the battle for good and evil begins.

It’s all being done the Deadpool way!

Reynolds as Wade Wilson/Deadpool has made damn sure that no one else, ever, will be able to remake-reimagine-rethink-rediscover or “re” anything else someone might want to do in ten years. He has made this character completely iconic and absolute in the minds of everyone who loves this character. It is no big secret to anyone that I’m not a huge super hero person, I mean I see the films but then it’s like ‘next!’ to me. Not DEADPOOL – this is the number one character I looked forward to seeing the first time and it was like Christmas morning as a kid for DEADPOOL 2. There is nothing, and I mean NOTHING to complain about in this film and its Reynolds fault completely. I’m sure he won’t mind taking the blame for this one. He gives this ole lady plenty to laugh about and that’s everything.

High five to Savage for taking on Deadpool in any way shape or form and giving him something to think about. They actually are very sweet together in a brother from another mother sort of way.

Brolin as Cable has me a little perplexed. Jumping between two comic book characters just isn’t something I’m thrilled about. I’m still not over Chris Evans going from his blaze days to Captain America and it’s been more than a hot minute. Between the two I would prefer he stay in the Cable lane but a paycheck is a paycheck right? Okay, so as cable I love the ying and yang between he and Deadpool. They both have issues and yet play off of them providing each other with a conscience. 

Dennison as Russell is a kid on a mission and although he has every reason to be pretty p.o.’d, ending up with Deadpool in an icebox might be a tad worse. He is going through his terrible teens and just happens to have fist that can destroy anything in its path. 

Beetz as Domino doesn’t take Wade or Deadpool seriously because she’s all about proving that lucky favors her own brand of coolness. Hildebrand returns as Negasonic Teenage Warhead with a few surprises for her favorite DP dude. Miller as Weasel gets a moment or two to shine with his favorite stool warmer. 

Kapicic returns as the understanding and patient Colossus and I think he is the only one that true gets Wade/Deadpool. Baccarin as Vanessa is back to bring positive reinforcement and a good lap dance to her favorite super hero. 

A serious shout out to Leslie Uggams as Blind Al, the one person who knows that Wade is a miserable human being sometimes yet accepts him the same. She might not be able to see but I’d let her defend me anytime, provided I can point the gun.

Also, Karan Soni as Dopinder who finally gets the opportunity to show what he’s made of – taxi and all. Shioli Kutsuna makes an appearance as Yukio who has the cutest exchanges with Deadpool and Eddie Marsan as the butt-head-master of Essex Orphanage.

Lets give a round of applause to Terry Crews as Bedlam, Lewis Tan as Shatterstar, Bill Skarsgard as Zeitgeist, Rob Delaney as Peter and Brad Pitt as Vanisher. Also, who can forget the amazing Jack Kesy as Black Tom Cassidy.

I think I’ve made if fairly clear that I am a huge Deadpool fan and if you thought I’d be giving any spoilers out well then I’m happy to disappoint you. From the moment the film begins to its very, very, VERY end (this is my way of saying stay after the credits), Reynolds and his band of merry misfits provide such a good time this a second viewing still had me laughing. 

What had me floored the most was the exchanges between Deadpool and Savage and as much as I loved it, I was also disappointed that there wasn’t more. Seriously, these two together are absolutely hilarious. Savage clearly has a total understanding of the comic universe and explained the nuances of plot points and character placement.

Yes, Reynolds has snappy and seriously stellar comebacks and although I enjoyed watching the film on the big screen again, I felt a little emotionally used. Oh well, no one said being a fan doesn’t have its crotch-punches now and again. Have an extraordinary experience and remember he’s only here to show you a good time, again, for a limited run.

In the end – prepare for the ultimate second coming or third!

FANTASTIC BEASTS: The Crimes of Grindelwald

Jeri Jacquin

First of all, is there really ANYTHING in the world I could say, good or bad, that is going to stop people from seeing this film – absolutely not but I’m going to give my review a shot here without giving away anything gooooooood!

So, from director David Yates and Warner Bros. Pictures comes the witches, wizards and creatures we have come to love from author J.K. Rowlings with FANTASTIC BEASTS: The Crimes of Grindelwald.

It seems that Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) has been kept under lock, spell and key waiting to be picked up by the Ministry of Magic. With the help of Abernathy (Kevin Guthrie) and Seraphina Picquery (Carmen Ejogo), Grindelwald gets to continue the plans he made clear before capture.

Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) however is facing a panel at the Ministry of Magic. He wants them to lift the travel ban places on him but they will only do so if he works at the Ministry with his brother Theseus (Callum Turner). Happy for his brother’s betrothal to Leta Lestrange (Zoe Kravitz), he also learns to Grindelwald.

He meets up with Dumbledore (Jude Law) who explains that he trust no one else to handle the problem with Grindelwald. Newt makes it clear that he wants to find Tina (Katherine Waterston) and return to his creatures. Imagine his surprise when Jacob (Dan Fogler) and Queenie (Alison Sudol) arrive suddenly.

After a misunderstanding, Jacob helps Newt find Tina and discovers a circus where Nagini (Claudia Kim) and Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller) were held. He now is part of another mystery without realizing it.

Credence wants to find his mother and love Nagini wants to help. What he doesn’t know is that Gindelwald knows a few things and is willing to share, but for a price. Someone else is looking for Credence, Yusuf Kama (William Nadylam) and his search holds a purpose.

The chases, magic, creatures, mysteries, friendships, enemies and secrets are back in the wizarding world!

Redmayne reprises his role as Newt Scamander, the awkward young man with a penchant for creatures and a stumbling heart for love. It doesn’t take long before he is pulled away once again from his friends place right in the middle of more wizarding mysteries.

Depp as Grindelwald does exactly what Depp can do – create a character and make it his own. Now that he calmly gathered an army, there is no one else who can be Grindelwald – ever. I enjoyed his performance and I can’t wait to see what he does with it next.

Law as Dumbledore absolutely surprised me because I wasn’t sure how I felt about him taking the role. I needn’t have worried at all because he slides right in like he has always been part of the story. Thrilled at his portrayal, I know as the story unfolds even more, he is going to have to make decisions that are as painful as the ones he makes when Harry comes along.

Waterston as Tina giving Newt a hard time continually but also doing her duty as an agent for the American Ministry of Magic. Fogler as Jacob doesn’t miss a beat partnering with Newt to do whatever needs doing. It amazes me how he just goes with the magical flow and although he rolls his eyes occasionally, he’s in it all. Sudol as Queenie is cute and just wants to be able to be with Jacob without fear, she is going to have to figure that out.

Miller as Credence Barebone is fantastic and I can see where his character will be going but there are tons of questions that I’m going to have to be patient in getting the answers for. Kim as Nagini just set my brain ablaze and I have so many thoughts about that! Nadylam as Yusuf Kama is a strong character that doesn’t realize that what he’s always believed might not be true!

Kravitz as Leta has a past that is difficult and jaw dropping and that’s all I will say about that. Turner as Theseus is a brother who wants what’s best but at the same time sees how easy it is for Newt to get himself into trouble. 

Other cast include Jamie Bower as Young Grindelwald, Toby Regbo as Young Dumbledore, Victoria Yeates as Bunty, Wolf Roth as Spielman, Derek Riddell as Torquil Travers, Ingvar Sigurosson as Grimmson, Poppy Tuech as Rosier, Andrew Turner as MacDuff, Maja Bloom as Carrow, Simon Meacock as Krafft and Fiona Glascott as Minerva McGonagall.

Law says of playing Dumbledore, “I was clearly thrilled and excited because my children grew up with the books and films. I was a huge fan of the FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM film. There getting to be part of the film there was so much reference material and J.K. was so gracious with her time. David told me that we weren’t trying to recreate an older Dumbledore but instead look back at who he was and how he was sorting out his demons as a younger man. I felt free in that way and excited to be this character.”

Redmayne says, “Working with Jude as Dumbledore, from our very first scene he manages to capture the qualities of Dumbledore, the gravitas and the playfulness was there. I thought ‘oh my gosh he’s good’. It was amazing!” 

FANTASTIC BEASTS: The Crimes of Grindelwald will disappoint no one! The story if intense, complex, a little dark and full of special effects but then again what did you expect? From the moment the screen flickers and the iconic music begins it is a 134 magical thrill ride with everything that I personally want from the return to the wizarding world.

Okay, so I was giggling pretty good seeing people and places that I have missed for the last few years. I can’t even tell you how many times I held my breath looking wide eyed at the screen wanting more and more. Of course I’m a woman of a certain age and probably shouldn’t be this giddy but nothing or no one is going to stop it from happening.

The special effects are awesome (as I expected them to be) and brings so much to this darker chapter. I can not even begin to say enough about the cast for not only the returning characters but the new as well. For me, there wasn’t one thing out of place! Trust that I will be watching it again and again because that’s what’s needed to keep up with what’s to come. There is so much I didn’t expect.

Gather up all of your houses whether they be Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff and Slytherin, get your wands at the ready and have an amazing time as FANTASTIC BEASTS: The Crimes of Grindelwald is finally here!

In the end – the fate of one will change the future for all!

THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER’S WEB: A New Dragon Tattoo Story

Jeri Jacquin

In theatres from director Fede Alvarez and Columbia Pictures is a continuation story of someone who finds herself once again as THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER’S WEB.

Lisbeth Salander (Claire Foy) has once again become invisible although wanted by the police. Making it her goal to stop innocent people from being hurt, she manages to do so while faded into the background…but not for long.

She is approached by Frans Balder (Stephen Merchant) who has created a program called Firewall when he was a NSA employee. This program has nuclear codes all over the world and now believes that he created a monster that everyone else wants to control. He asks Lisbeth to retrieve it so it can be destroyed. 

She agrees and gets inside the NSA’s computer as a horrified Edwin Neeham (Lakeith Stanfield), NSA security, looks on trying to stop it. He immediately locates where the hack has come from and leaves for Europe. Neeham isn’t the only one looking for Firewall as Lisbeth is attacked. She turns to Mikael Blomkvist (Sverrir Gudnason), the Millennium journalist and even though their relationship turned rocky, she trusts him. He discovers that a group of Russian criminals are after Firewall.

Keeping track of Balder, she also worries for his young son August (Christopher Convery) as who ever else wants Firewall would have no trouble killing him. Keeping him safe becomes important to Lisbeth even if her hardened shell is still in tact.

Blomkvist turns to Gabriella Grane (Synnove Lund), Deputy Director of the Swedish Secret Service to discover who the men are with the spider tattoos. She has her own agenda keeping an eye on Neeham who she believes is also looking for Lisbeth.

With the cat and mouse happening between she, the spider tattoo goons and Neeham, there is one person she never expected to see. Someone from her past who has picked up the mantel of a father who is responsible for how Lisbeth came to be – Camilla (Sylvia Hoeks).

Lisbeth Salander makes no exceptions for evil!

Foy as Salander gives a stoic performance in the role of a character that doesn’t show much emotion. Everything that she shares emotion wise is all in her eyes. With every plan you can see the wheels turning jumping the track whenever she needs to change gears. This is a far cry from her comfy life in highly successful series The Crown but that’s the point of growing as an actress – bowl cut your hair and don’t be afraid to jump on a motorcycle. 

Merchant as Balder is a man clearly afraid that those who have Firewall are going to use it to harm more than protect. Balder’s role might not be a big one but it sets the story up for his castmate. Convery as August is a young boy who is as smart as his father but that doesn’t mean his fate isn’t being determined but someone smart but psychotic. This character is like Lisbeth in that he keeps his emotions in check trusting that he will get home to his mother.

Stanfield as Neeham panics when he sees Firewall has been hacked and knows the only thing he can do is find out who took it and why. Neeham’s character is just as determined as Lisbeth but he has one obstacle. Lund as Grane is the SAPO and has already threatened Neeham with deportation if he tries to interfere with the investigation but trust goes only so far.

Gudnason as Blomkvist is thrilled to hear from Lisbeth because his feelings for her haven’t changed. At the same time, the journalist in him sees the potential of cracking open the mystery of what is happening by following Lisbeth forward. Hoeks as Camilla is the sister none of us wants to deal with. The history that Camilla and Lisbeth share is of two survivors of an abusive father – one turns to trying to save others while the other turns to destruction. Hoeks is completely disturbing in her portrayal and scenes with Foy are intense.

Other cast include Carlotta von Falkenhayn as a young Camilla, Vicky Krieps as Erika Berger, Cameron Britton as Plague, Andreia Pelic as Maria, and Mikael Persbrandt as Zalachenko.

Let me first get this out of the way, the Noomi Rapace is my Lisbeth Salander and in 2008 when THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO was released I could not have been more thrilled with the film. This was followed months later with THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE and months later with THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNET’S NEST. This was the best three films I have ever seen and all released in one year proving that it is possible to make stunning films without two and three year gaps.

In 2011, the remake hit the theatres with Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig in THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO and as much as I enjoy these two actors, I wasn’t thrilled with the film. I don’t mind saying it either, there was absolutely no reason to remake it and I could not get behind the choice for Lisbeth Salander.

The choice of Claire Foy as the new Lisbeth Salander has one thing in her favor, this isn’t a remake. Instead it’s actually more of an explanation of where this character came from and how the past is never far behind any of us. Foy captures bits of the 2009 Salander but clearly makes her own mark as well.

As for the film, I enjoyed it but also have to say that the plot was fairly straight forward and slightly predictable. I feel as if I’ve seen these plot points before in other films and wished there was more umph to it. The action is definitely something I would expect to see in the Millennium series and the film lives up to that most certainly.

Understand that with the death of the series creator Steig Larsson in 2004, the characters are picked up by David Lagercrantz. This is his first novel taking over the series and it was released in 2015. It is not an easy thing to bring in another writer to keep a series going because, and let’s be honest, they aren’t Larsson. That being said Lagercrantz manages to keep Lisbeth Salander alive by bringing her past forward for us all to understand. He also seemed to take great care in being true to the complexities created by Larsson

For those who love the Millennium series, this new story and film is interesting and full of action. Foy gives Salander new life and if they plan to continue the films, keep the stories fresh and the fan base will stay true.

In the end – the past never forgets!

BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY Brings Freddie Mercury Back to Us

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres this Friday from director Brian Singer and 20th Century Fox comes the story of a legend that lives on today through a BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY. 

Farrokh Bulsara (Rami Malek) isn’t about to conform to his parents expectations and when he has the opportunity to change his path it is because he meets Brian May (Gwilym Lee) and Roger Taylor (Ben Hardy) who have a band and just lost their front man. At first the two men think Freddie is joking about what he has to offer – but proven surprised as Queen is born.

Now Freddie Mercury openly, he meets Mary Austin (Lucy Boynton) and is madly in love. She supports his musical dream and is always there to help him through anything life throws at him. The band plays a few gigs adding John Deacon (Joseph Mazzello) to the group when John Reid (Aidan Gillen) notices them bringing in attorney Jim Beach (Tom Hollander) to protect the gang.

Freddie and the band decide they don’t want to be just like every other music group but instead be daring and bold. This doesn’t go over well with record executive Ray Foster (Mike Meyers) not believing people want to hear six minute songs. Of course Freddie is out to prove him wrong and Bohemian Rhapsody makes its way onto airwaves.

As with all bands, the tension, touring and egos are starting to get in the way of the music. It doesn’t help that Freddie has started a relationship with Paul (Allen Leech) with Brian and John none to pleased, not to mention Mary. The blow up blows Queen apart and they all go their own way. 

Freddie meets Jim Hutton (Aaron McCusker) who makes it very clear that he is not the type that will be taken lightly, especially since others are running the singers life. Then, there is the illness he never saw coming and once he did, turns to the people in his life that will always love him – family, friends and fans!

Because Queen is all about rocking us!

Malek as Freddie Mercury does the job that needs doing. Do I think he made me forget he is Malek? Nope. But the film carries enough weight behind it with the cast and music that I mentally put it aside. It is obvious that he put all into portraying a man who was larger than life so keeping that in mind I willingly went into suspension of disbelief. The performance scenes are so much fun because the music is stellar and engrained into many of our lives. 

Lee as May believes in what Queen is doing and totally understands Freddie’s idiosyncrasies. Writing and putting it all together in the studio is what makes the group the happiest but there are moments that twinge in the ego about who is running the band. Rogers as Taylor wants more of a say in what the group puts out but would rather not butt heads with Freddie on it. It doesn’t mean there isn’t resentment simmering just below the surface. I enjoyed Taylor’s performance, especially doing his high pitch part in the song Bohemian Rhapsody. Mazello as Deacon lets the status quo rule even though he doesn’t always agree with Freddie. 

Boynton as Mary is a woman who has a bigger heart than mine that’s for sure. She loves Freddie and consistently looks past what is right in front of her. Calling her his ‘soul mate’ means she can’t walk away not matter how hard she tries. There comes a point when thinking about yourself is not only right, it is necessary for happiness. Boynton gives an amazing performance that I won’t soon forget.

Gillen as Reid definitely wants to see what the band is capable of and more times than not he lets it all flow as it will – even when it comes to Freddie. I love seeing Gillen on screen outside of the Seven Kingdoms so well done sir! Hollander as Jim, aka Miami, is one of the most laid back lawyers I think I’ve ever seen. He has moments of important input but the rest of the time, he nods and goes along to get along. I love Hollander in everything he has done so you’ll never hear a complaint from me.

Meyers as Foster has no idea what he’s getting into and even more clueless that Freddie is a strong personality and loves to prove the world wrong. Meyers cracked me up to the very end. Leech as Paul totally had me seeing a blood-sucking-groupie in his character and wanted to jump through the screen and wring his little neck myself. Good thing I refrained but just goes to show how powerful his performance is.

McCusker as Jim is probably the only sane one of this bunch! Knowing that Freddie is his own worst enemy but also realizing that people abuse him, he is still not going to fall into it all. It was good to see someone throw life-coffee into Freddie’s place and humbling for him at the same time.

Other cast include Meneka Das as Jer Bulsara, Ace Bhatti as Bomi Bulsara, Priya Blackburn as Kashmira Bulsara, Max Bennett as David, Dermon Murphy as Bob Geldof and Dickie Beau as Kenny Everett.

BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY tells the story of a young man born Farrokh Bulsara and reborn into Freddie Mercury. From a baggage handler at Heathrow to meeting May and Taylor, life had bigger plans for them all – especially Freddie. When the band goes through harrowing times, sleazy Paul managed to work on Freddie’s insecurities leading to firings and a blow out.

It is once again Mary who sets him straight about remembering who he is and how he got there and, more importantly, who was their with him every step of the way! Learning that Bob Geldof had a concert called Live Aid at Wembley, Freddie knows it is the way back to what made Queen stellar.

But that’s only part of it; Freddie’s parents go through pains with their son even if his siblings are supportive. It is the Zoroastrian belief of ‘good thoughts, good words, and good deeds’ that truly begin to come to light. 

The soundtrack is amazing! If you are a Queen fan then this film will rock you, if you think you are a Queen fan this film will rock you, and if you want to be a Queen fan then go get rocked as BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY comes to theatres.

In the end – fearless lives forever!

HUNTER KILLER is a Film That Brings Action and Suspense to the Big Screen

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres from direction Donovan Marsh and Summit Entertainment is the military and political thriller of HUNTER KILLER.

When an American and Russian submarine vanish under the Arctic ice, Rear Admiral John Fisk (Common) and the President’s National Security Analyst Jane Norquist (Linda Cardellini) must discover what has happened. Reporting to Admiral Donnegan (Gary Oldman), Fisk tells him that he has a Hunter Killer available to go and look for the American submarine.

Commander Joe Glass (Gerard Butler) receives his orders to do just that, inform his crew of the mission and get under way. Admiral Donnegan wants boots on the ground as well so Fisk calls on Lt. Bill Bearman (Toby Stephens) and his group to get near the Russian base and keep them posted. Not there very long before Bearman discovers that the Russian President Zakarin (Alexander Diachenko) has been taken and the coup is led by Defense Minister Dmitri Durov (Mikhail Gorevoy) and he wants war!

Glass and the crew find the American sub and reports back to Washington, in the process they hear noises coming from the Russian submarine. Sending out a rescue they find the subs captain Sergei Andropov (Michael Nyqvist).

Now a new plan is in the works, for the sub and the Seals to free Zakarin and end the coup as quickly as possible. Durov isn’t about to let any of this happen without a fight but its one thing to fight in the Poliarny water base of Russia, it is another when that fight could start a war!

Butler as Commander Glass wastes no time in letting his crew know he understands where they are coming from but – that doesn’t change the fact that his word is law. He doesn’t ask of them anything he wouldn’t do (even though he’s pretty much done it) but sees the mission as one that needs them all to work together. Butler commands attention right away and doesn’t lose it the entire film. A believable commander to be sure.

Oldman as Admiral Donnegan is definitely a politician trying to make sure a war doesn’t start but knowing its going to take a little fight to make sure the American military isn’t taken for granted. Oldman looks good in a uniform and watches the drama unfold. Common as RA Fisk clearly knows the scenario they are playing out has a narrow margin in all phases of success but he also knows that the best have been sent in. The scene between Oldman and Common is complex and it works.

Stephens as Bearman is quite happy to take the next assignment to be dropped in Russia. With his crew, they get to Poliarny and take it all step by step which can be difficult when your dealing with a madman. Cardellini is Norquist is one smart cookie and she isn’t about to let anyone in the command room use their passive aggressive rank to stop her from doing not only her job, but what the president sent her to do.

Diachenko as Russian President Zakarin wants peace with the United States and is in shock that someone he trusts has turned on him and in the worst way. Gorevoy as Defense Minister Dmitri Durov is underhanded and doesn’t have a problem using bullets or missiles to get what he wants. 

Other cast include Mikey Collins as Brickowski, Will Attenborough as Kaplan, Kieron Bimpson as Nichols, Christopher Goh as Park, Zan Holtz as Seal Martinelli, Igor Jijkine as Lt. Tretiak, Michael Trucco as Devin Hall, Richard Hills Jr. as Medic Jones, Yuri Kolokolnikov as Oleg and Carter Macintyre as Executive Officer Brian Edwards. 

HUNTER KILLER is a mixture of four different stories. First is Washington dealing with something that needs to be thought out carefully, second is sending Glass and the submarine of them into waters that clearly are dangerous, third is the boots-on-the-ground Seal team that keep Washington informed of what they see and finally, fourth, the treachery of the coup to the Russian President.

Director Marsh manages with ease to put these four stories together and add action both above and below the water to create a popcorn film that will keep you guessing. I had a really good time watching the film myself. A fan of HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER and U-571, it shouldn’t be surprising that I enjoyed HUNTER KILLER. 

The script came about from the book by Ret. Commander George Wallace USN and author Don Keith. Watching their 700 page book come to the big screen, they are both pleased with what Marsh put together and how the actors played there roles with authenticity. That is what makes a film such as this so darn enjoyable.

Grab a huge tub of popcorn and a few friends for this one and just have a good time on the ride!

In the end – start a battle to stop a war!

It is the Return of What Scares Us about HALLOWEEN

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres this Friday just in time for the spooky season from Miramax and writer/director David Gordon Green, Danny McBride and Jeff Fradley from the characters created by John Carpenter and Debra Hill is the return of HALLOWEEN. 

It has been forty years since Lorie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) has had to deal with the likes of Michael Meyers in Haddonfield. When two documentary filmmakers come knocking on her door to ask about the night all that long ago, she gives her opinion and throws them out of her fortress laden house. 

Strode has been living a secluded life much to the dismay of daughter Karen (Judy Greer) who still holds a grudge about her childhood and granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) who wants a relationship with her grandmother. The problem is Strode believes that a time will come when Michael will return.

Her fears are actually being relocated to another facility and Dr. Sartain (Haluk Bilginer) isn’t happy about it at all. When other patients along with Michael are loaded onto the bus, the good doctor makes it clear that he will see his patient checked into the new facility. Sheriff Frank Hawkins (Will Patton) knows about the transfer and sees how it is affecting Strode.

When the bus mysteriously crashes, the carnage begins immediately as Michael makes his way back to the place where it all began. Surviving the crash is Dr. Sartain who makes it very clear that Michael is the property of the state and can’t be harmed. One call after another leads Sheriff Hawkins to body after body with no sign of Michael.

Strode isn’t about to sit around and wait for something to happen and joins in the hunt to find the psycho killer. Granddaughter Allyson is at a high school party but after being upset by boyfriend Cameron (Dylan Arnold), she takes off towards home escorted by friend Oscar (Drew Scheid) and within moments she learns how cruel Michael can be. 

Strode gets daughter Karen and her husband Ray (Toby Huss) back to her fortress while the police try and locate Allyson. When everyone else is knocked down one by one, it is up to the women in the Strode family to come together and finish what was started over forty years ago.

And this time pour some gas on it!

Curtis as Lorie Strode jumps into character without missing a beat. It is ridiculous how good she jumped back in and how much I believed that this is how it would play out. Admit it – we all wondered where the character would go and now we get to see it for ourselves. Oh I’ll just say it – I just love Curtis as an actress and a person. Having listened to her speak about her career and embracing the success that the HALLOWEEN franchise brought her then and now is a testament to just how frakken cool she is. 

Greer as Karen is a big of a downer for me in that she has totally moves away from understanding her mother. Instead she lies to her own daughter about communication and basically treats Mom Lorie like a whack-job. Of course she jumps on the whiny ‘oh my poor childhood’ band wagon but hey, suck it up chickie, your mother taught you to survive – remember that!

Matichak as Allyson is the screamer of the family apparently. Strode in her younger years didn’t scream as much as this kid does. I mean serious, stop running down the empty street screaming like a banshee – it’s like ringing the dinner bell for a starving lion for gawd’s sake. Other than that, you did a good job kid and if there is another HALLOWEEN I’m sure you’re on the menu again so keep those track shoes handy.

Patton as Hawkins is a cop who remembers what happened forty years ago just as much as Strode does. Once the word is out that Meyers is on the loose, he doesn’t waste any time hitting the streets and doesn’t mind when Strode steps in with her loaded weapon to do what needs to be done. I’m a Patton fan in case anyone was curious about that. 

Bilginer as Dr. Sartain is a doctor who needs a doctor. His agenda is pretty much the reason there are boards that take away your license – know that! 

Shout out to the two gentlemen that brought us the scares both mentally and physically – James Jude Courtney and Nick Castle – thank you sirs for your valiant successful efforts in freaking us out forty years later. Well played sirs, well played.

Other cast include Rhian Reese as Dana Haines, Jefferson Hall as Aaron Korey, Virginia Gardner as Vicky, Miles Robbins as Dave, Jibrail Nantambu as Julian and, of course James Jude Courtney and Nick Castle as Michael Meyers.

HALLOWEEN is an epic horror film that doesn’t hesitate to nod here and there to the original 1978 film that scared the living acorn candy out of most of us. Of course you can once again expect Michael Meyers to get creative in the way that he disposes of those who get in his way and this time age doesn’t seem to matter. He gives equal horror to all!

I jumped, hollered a bit, put my hand over my mouth, said ‘ewwwwwwww’ a lot, applauded, said ‘daaaaaaaaaaang’ many, many times and cheered. Lorie Strode and family had to make a few sacrifices but darn it if Michael doesn’t make them all work for ever second of survival.

After the film I can honestly tell you that everyone, and I mean everyone at the screening was talking excitedly about the film. Look, this isn’t rocket science but it’s enough rocket fuel to make those who remember 1978 happy and horror fans giddy to once again remember why we freak out seeing rubber Shatner masks coming our way.

This is a fun, spine chilling film that is a bloody run down memory lane and I can’t wait to see it again – with my hands off my face this next time!

In the end – believe in the Boogie-man!

THE APPARITION is Suspenseful to the Very Last Frame

Jeri Jacquin

In theatres from director Xavier Giannoli and Music Box Films is a story that leaves us questioning faith and secrets with THE APPARITION.

Jacques Mayano (Vincent Lindon) is a journalist who is asked by the Vatican to be a part of a canonical investigation in France. Anna (Galatea Bellugi) is a young girl living in small village that says she has seen the apparition of the Virgin Mary. Now Jacques and three others must learn as much as they can about the young Anna.

Not moved by Anna as much as his colleagues, Jacques begins to ask questions about where Anna came from, the schools she went to and who her friends were. He speaks to the men who heard her cries in a large pasture believing that is when she saw the apparition. 

Anna reaches out to Jacques feeling free to speak with him despite the objection of local priest Father Borrodine (Patrick d’Assumcao) who feels like he needs to be the lead for Anna in all things. At the same time Anton Meyer (Anatole Taubman) is rolling out the candles and likeness of Anna to bring in the followers – and their money. 

The more questions Jacques asks, the more questions there are following him from place to place. Putting the pieces together is more paramount than ever as Anna promises that all the answers will come soon and Jacques feels that prediction is ominous.

Faith can sometimes hold a secret.

Lindon as Jacques is a bulldog of a journalist and isn’t about to let the Vatican sway him in how he handles his part of the investigation. Even when he meets Anna and a part of him wants to believe in her, Jacques knows there is so much more to be known. I truly enjoyed Lindon’s portrayal and was right there with him all the way before I realized it. Having the same questions I did, Lindon had a side kick going step by step wanting to believe Anna but not able to stop the nagging feeling of a secret.

Bellugi as Anna is absolutely stunning with a face I would believe (if it weren’t for that dang nagging feeling). She is so genuine in her belief and has a sense of innocence about her and Bellugi gives the added push of being so lovely to watch. As the film goes on she doesn’t miss a beat and a protective nature kicks in for me. That’s the sign of a character portrayal so well done.

D’Assumcao as Father Borrodine is basking in the glow of what is happening to Anna publically and in the media. He bars her from talking to certain people and only agrees to Jacques questions because he comes with a clear mission from the Vatican. He isn’t happy about any of it and makes it clear. That leaves his character wide open for suspicion.

Taubman as Meyer is just the creepiest character in the film. He claims to care for Anna yet finds every way possible to exploit her. Once again my protective nature kicked in and every time Taubman was on screen as Meyer I found myself growling. That’s how you know a role is perfectly cast.

Other cast include Elina Lowensohn as Doctor de Villeneuve, Claude Leveque as Father Gallois, Gerard Dessalles as Stephane Mornay, Bruno Georis as Father Ezeradot, Candice Bouchet as Valerie and Alicia Hava as Meriem.

Am I telling you every little detail about THE APPARITION? Absolutely not. This is the genre of film that I truly am thrilled about letting the viewer discover. There are so many twists and secrets to be discovered that just when I think I have it worked out – it’s not. 

Watching Jacques wrestle with his journalistic instincts and that of wanting to believe Anna is stellar and watching Anna wrestle with her place at the convent and the people around her is both fascinating and heart wrenching at the same time. These two characters are meant to share this journey and director Giannoli makes us all feel a little blessed to walk the road with them.

I truly enjoyed this film and loved every aspect of the storytelling. That is what makes THE APPARITION one of my best films for 2018 and I urge you to see and decide for yourself. A beautiful film with kudos all around!

In the end – doubt and faith are about to collide!

VENOM Strikes 

Jeri Jacquin

Coming this Friday from director Ruben Fleischer and Marvel is the next superhero with the help of VENOM.

One night a space probe crashes to earth owned by the Life Foundation and tubes containing life forms are collected. Transported to a lab, Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed) is thrilled at what is brought back. 

Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) is a reporter who goes out of his way to report on issues that need his style of uncovering. Good at what he does, it gives him time to enjoy his relationship with his lawyer love Anne (Michelle Williams).

He is given his next assignment to interview Drake about the Life Foundation and realizes that Anne knows a little about his business. Nosing onto her laptop, he finds information about Drake that he uses the next day during their interview. Much to Drake’s dismay, he ends the interview sending Brock out on his ear.

That move cost Drake his job and his relationship as Anne also loses her job and refuses to forgive him. Everything he worked for is gone in a second at the payback hands of Drake.

Inside, Dr. Dora Skirth (Jenny Slate) who is working with Drake’s research and the creatures that he obtained. Watching what he is doing, she is horrified that Drake is using human beings for testing. She reaches out to Eddie for help in exposing what is happening and he gets inside the Life Foundation to see for himself. What he doesn’t expect is to be leaving wearing a symbiote suit!

Introducing himself as Venom to Eddie, it is clear that it is the beginning of a strange relationship in an effort to stop Drake and what he is doing. Eddie is being affected physically and looks to Anne and beau Dr. Dan (Reid Scott) for help. Venom knows there are other symbiotes and needs Eddie to stop the leader Riot.

Drake just wants his ‘property’ back and sends head of security Reese (Scott Haze) to round up Eddie. When Drake decides that it’s time to erase humanity, he takes on Riot and now, more than ever, Eddie and Venom have to bring it to save the world.

Hardy as Eddie is going to win over people in the role because of the humor he brings to the role. The relationship he has with Venom is unique because of their ability to communicate and both have a line of sarcasm that is entertaining. Of course I’d prefer Hardy in his role in the television series Taboo, the cable series Peaky Blinders and the film DUNKIRK. It isn’t that I think his role in VENOM isn’t good, it was just predictable and I think I’m getting to old to sit in a theatre for predictable.

Williams as Anne broke character and lost me the minute Anne broke up with Eddie with a simple walk away. Yea girl, I believe you’d do that in real life…nope! This role just didn’t do her any favors (and neither did that short Catholic school girl skirt she ran around in) but I’m sure we’ll see it in the next VENOM movie. 

Ahmed as Drake is instantly unlikeable but at least he hasn’t a problem with that. There isn’t anything redeeming about his character and Ahmed makes sure we see that without batting an eye about it. I like Ahmed and have seen his roles become more and more expanded. The mini-series The Night Of truly gave Ahmed the lift and notice that I was thrilled for.

Slate as Dr. Skirth is daring to go against a powerful boss and it will cost her. Scott as Dr. Dan is oddly alright with an ex-boyfriend showing up out of nowhere but has a reason to freak out when something wicked jumps out of an MRI machine. Haze as Treece is a shark on wheels and his goal is to do whatever it takes to get Eddie and Drake’s extra-terrestrial guest back into his lab.

Other cast include Peggy Lu as Mrs. Chen, Malcolm C. Murray as Lewis Donate, Sope Aluko as Dr. Collins, Wayne Pere as Dr. Emerson, and an appearance by Stan Lee. 

VENOM is an action packed film filled with humor, car chases, creatures and sarcasm from both humans and not-so-human. In the vein of all Marvel movies I’m sure fans will be happy to see another character go from page to screen. 

For me, I went along for the ride but didn’t feel like I got anywhere by the end of it (and trust me I have to call my son now and ask about a character I don’t know about). This film seemed so busy trying to make the audience laugh while keeping the action going, it seems someone forgot to write a strong script. 

What kept me going was Tom Hardy (and not just because I adore him). It’s because he held his own in a film that needed to be held up by something good. He made me laugh and jump once or twice. I feel like this is a dark DEADPOOL and lawd knows no one, not even Mr. Hardy, is going to take my heart away from that man in a red suit (and we aren’t talking about Santa Claus).

So go, enjoy and move onto the next Marvel movie. When Venom 2 comes out, let us hope that Marvel will get their storyline together and remember that special effects don’t make an entire film.

In the end – embrace your inner anti-hero!

A STAR IS BORN Sings onto the Screen

Jeri Jacquin

In theatres this Friday from director Bradley Cooper and Warner Bros. is two people filled with the need for music when A STAR IS BORN.

Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper) is a musician-singer who can fill a concert arena singing his songs. On stage or off he also has a problem with staying away from alcohol. Even with Bobby (Sam Elliott) keeping an eye on him and cleaning up the messes, Jack is one hot mess.

After a concert, Jack doesn’t have his liquid courage in the car and asks his driver to pull over to the local bar. Recognizing him at the door is Ramon (Anthony Ramos) who insists on bringing him to the bar and buying Jack a drink. That’s when he realizes that he is in a drag bar and watches the show. 

Ramon insists that Jack prepare himself to see his friend Ally (Lady Gaga) perform and almost immediately he is taken in. Going backstage to meet her, they go out for a drink after to discuss her want of music. Seeing she is a straight shooter makes Jack go even weaker in the knees and he wants her to come to a concert the next night.

After kissing their jobs goodbye, Ally and Ramon make it to the concert and Jack decides to get her onstage for a song. The next day on YouTube, dad Lorenzo (Andrew Dice Clay) can not believe what he is seeing. Excited beyond belief Ally begins a relationship with Jack that puts them on the stage together over and over again.

Ally is noticed by manager Rez (Rafi Gavron) who wants to blow her up everywhere. Believing in her talent is one thing and changing her is another and although she sees what is happening, Ally also knows she has to go to get. Jack begins to feel as if he is losing her in some way and responds accordingly.  

His path of self destruction begins to have an effect on their relationship. In one instant Ally sees how destructive Jack’s life has become because of the past, his ability to have relationships and where they are both going musically. Yet she will not give up or give in when it comes to the man who brought her love and music.

Love has amazing powers as long as you believe.

Cooper as Jack is pretty much front and center of the film and although that may be fine, the character is not new. The only thing ‘different’ in this story is a brother and an alcoholic father but it is muddled which just drove me crazy. There was nothing unexpected here which again supports my theory that remakes need to have a 75 year stamp on them. What might surprise viewers is that he sings the heartfelt songs with ease and together with Gaga they are sweet performances.  

Lady Gaga as Ally is sweet in this role but again, there is nothing new for me to see here. Vocally she is outstanding but then again would anyone expect anything less? The songs are lovely and touching. I think what drove me nuts is that she goes from being Ally in the beginning to actually becoming ‘Lady Gaga’ by the middle to end. That means I don’t see Ally anymore and there goes the film!

Elliott as Bobby has a few scenes and makes the most of them. The problem is that the scenes seem so disjointed and I suppose that could be because their storyline has such an age gap. I love Sam Elliott so I’m happy to see him in anything but if you are going to use this iconic actor in a role, do it well and do it memorably.

Clay as Dad Lorenzo is a proud papa and I’ll admit I didn’t know for at least five minutes that it was him. There are appearances by Dave Chappelle and Eddie Griffin but I’m not sure how that storyline fit into it all, again disjointed. It was good to see both of them so there’s that.

Other cast include Bonnie Somerville as Sally Cummings, Michael Harney as Wolfe, Willam Belli as Emerald, Rebecca Field as Gail, Eddie Griffin as Pastor and Dave Chappelle as Noodles. 

Okay, here’s the rough part. I am an avid and devoted fan to the 1937 Janet Gaynor/Frederick March A STAR IS BORN. There is something amazing about that era so that the ’37 version is stunning, emotional and heartbreaking for me. The first time I saw it I knew I had to see it again and again (which I have). Gaynor and March cemented my love of black and white films.

In 1954, Judy Garland and James Mason brought their colorful film to the screen and man, oh man, did the voice of Judy Garland dig deeper into my heart. There is no one like her and there will never be again so to watch her in this version of A STAR IS BORN reminds me of how wonderful both of these actors were. I saw both of these films on television as a kid.

In 1976, Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson brought A STAR IS BORN to the big screen and I can not stress enough how blow away I was at 16 years old. The presence of Streisand and Kristofferson could have been enough but when they both sang their respective songs I absolutely couldn’t breathe. When they sang together I had a tear and a smile on my face. Yes, I remember every emotion the first time I saw the film because I spent several weekends after at the matinee to experience it all again and again. That is what this version of the film did for me and it is a memory as clear as if it were yesterday.

So, here we are in 2018 and although the music is amazing and the two performers put it down emotionally, there is nothing in the story that is going to keep me going back again. I don’t want that to sound as if I’m saying the film isn’t good, it’s alright to my way of thinking but because I hold the other films so dear – there just isn’t room for another version. It just didn’t need to be re-told, re-imagined, re-thunk or any other re…the studio should have just released the original in theatres like they are doing with SUPERMAN.

I know, I know, I’m going to get chided for my opinion but we all know it’s the truth. Understand there is so many original scripts out there waiting to be discovered and made into films that I just do not understand why Cooper thought this was in any way necessary. Why Hollywood, why? 

Okay, I’m done. I know there are many people who are excited about the film so go and be excited. Cooper and Gaga can sing so enjoy that and pick up the soundtrack which I think has the potential to be so successful (just please don’t do a sequel Gaga!)

In the end – the music brought them love!


Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres this Friday from director Eli Roth and DreamWorks comes a magical and mystical tale about THE HOUSE WITH THE CLOCK IN ITS WALLS.

Young Lewis (Owen Vaccaro) is still grieving over the loss of his parents when finding himself on a bus to Michigan. There he is met by his Uncle Jonathan (Jack Black) who Lewis realizes quickly is quite quirky. Arriving at his new home, he also meets his Uncle’s friend and neighbor Mrs. Zimmerman (Cate Blanchett).

Immediately Uncle Jonathan tries to make Lewis feel at home with an amazing room of his own and free reign with only one rule – in the library is a locked bookcase and it is to be left alone. Lewis begins his first day of school as well finding himself on the outside until Tarby Corrigan (Sunny Suljic) befriends him. 

At home, Lewis suspects there is something different about his Uncle’s house and learns why from Mrs. Zimmerman. Isaac Izard (Kyle MacLachlan) was once a magical partner with Uncle Jonathan but after coming home from war – he returned a very changed man. Marrying Selena (Renee Goldsberry), the two created a clock that will count down to doomsday.

Lewis notices that Tarby isn’t as friendly anymore and tries to find a way to keep their friendship. Inviting him back to Uncle Jonathan’s, Tarby sees the cabinet and even with Lewis begging him to not open it, what happens next is even worse. The boys take the book to the local cemetery and Lewis tries to wow Tarby with what he can do. 

Instead, Lewis releases something that is part of the strange happenings around Uncle Jonathan’s house. As the walls tick, Lewis, Jonathan and Mrs. Zimmerman must use all their powers to locate the clock before evil does!

Black as Jonathan Barnavelt is quirky, funny, strange, animated and everything we have come to know expect from him. This is definitely the type of character he is not only good at portraying but makes it fun. Black was in last years film JUMANJI: Welcome to the Jungle and we can expect to see him again next year for a sequel. 

Blanchett as Mrs. Zimmerman is just stunning to look at in her beautiful costuming and equally as stellar to watch. What I have come to love most about her performances is that she always has a look in her eye that says, “I know something you don’t”. In this film she bounces off Jack Black’s character in a game of table tennis that is just pure enjoyable to watch.

Vaccaro as Lewis is a young man trying to find his place after losing his parents. Being reserved, he is definetly different than his Uncle Jonathan. The thing is that although they may be different to begin with, they also discover that they are not so different after all. His performance is that of a young boy trying to fit in only to discover that being himself can be quite enjoyable. Suljic as Corrigan is a boy who uses a sad young man and when done – throws him back to the wolves. The thing is – the Lewis wolf came back leader of the pack!

MacLachlan as Izard is so much fun to watch, mainly because I am a fan of MacLachlan no matter what he does. Here he gets the chance to have a little fun while being a little maniacal at the same time and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that. Goldsberry as Selena stands by her man, even when he’s a tad gooey and I give her props for that.

Other cast include Colleen Camp as Mrs. Hanchett, Lorenza Izzo as Mom, Braxton Bierken as Woody, De’Jon Watts as Clark, Christian Calloway as Azazel and Vanessa Anne Williams as Rose.

THE HOUSE WITH A CLOCK IN ITS WALLS is definetly a family fun film. Of course I’m not sure I’d recommend it for smaller children as there are a few creature that might scare them so lets say six years plus to be on the safe side. There are jumps and spooky elements mixed in a story line of family and new friendships.

The special effects are amazing and I want to know where I can find a cute chair like the one in Uncle Jonathan’s house. Every effect has it’s place and is done so colorfully well that I was captivated through the entire film. I wouldn’t even mind having a lion topiary!

It is the cast of Black, Blanchett and Vacarro that make the film with the added dash of MacLachlan. They play off each other with comedy and affection which is what can be the cherry on the cake of any film.

In the end – this house knows what makes you tick!

LIFE ITSELF Reminds Us We Are All Connected

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres this Friday from writer/director Dan Fogelman, Stage 6 Films and Amazon Studios is a look at the connecting we all have to LIFE ITSELF.

Will (Oscar Isaac) and Abby (Olivia Wilde) are New Yorkers who have a love that is enriched with laughter, love and the arrival of their first child. That’s what makes it all the more difficult for Will to handle Abby leaving him. Dr. Cait Morris (Annette Bening) is treating Will to help him deal with his life since leaving the hospital by talking about how they met. 

Javier (Sergio Peris-Mencheta) is a worker on an olive farm who captures the attention of owner Saccione (Antonio Banderas). Taking Javier under his wing, it changes life and allows him to bring a good life to wife Isabel (Laia Costa). Raising their young son Rigo (Adrian Marrero), a trip to New York would change his world entirely. 

Rigo (Alex Monner) is thrilled to be going to college but soon discovers that his mother is not well. The young man must decide whether to give up on his dream or continue learning about the olive business to be with her.

Dylan (Olivia Cooke) is a young woman being raised by grandfather Irwin (Mandy Patinkin). As the years pass she tries to find herself in different ways much to the worry of Irwin. After a night of feeling that life has treated her a bit unfairly, Dylan meets a young man and life begins to find its center. 

Finding love, understanding, life as well as the humanity to bear it all knows no bounds.

Isaac as Will almost killed me in this role. Of course I realize that writer/director Fogelman is responsible for the hit television series This is Us which also kills me so I should have expected it. That being said, Isaac in this role just knocks me around emotionally and then leaves me to deal with the aftermath. Strong, powerful and brilliant is all I can say.

Wilde as Abby is sweet, very funny, endearing and quick. I love the relationship she has with Isaac’s character because it doesn’t feel forced but in fact seems easy. The banter these two actors shares gave me a lot to laugh about.

Bening as Dr. Morris has a short role but one that goes deep inside what is troubling Will. Her concern comes through as not only genuine but thought out. 

Peris-Mencheta as Javier is a quiet spirit who doesn’t believe he needs to share his story – with anyone. That is the problem with his relationships with both his wife and boss. Staying quiet when he should be speaking up is what brings him the biggest pains of his life.
Banderas as Saccione is opposite of Javier in that he is happy to share the story of his life and in great emotional detail. Discovering what is missing in his life, he is unsure how to get it without hurting those he loves. 

Costa as Isabel tries her best to make a good home for husband and son. Even when Javier closes down more and more, Isabel moves forward attempting to keep their family together. Costa is lovely, endearing and more importantly – must make a choice she never asked to make. Monner as Rigo is a young man who clearly loves his mother and the life she has given him. Now it is his time and the decisions are now one an adult must make.

Patinkin as Irwin wants what’s best for his granddaughter and when wife Linda (Jean Smart) can no longer be a part of that, he takes it one event at a time. I have to admit that Irwin is the grandfather we probably all wish we had. Cooke as Dylan is an angry young woman who hides it in the changes from year to year. Rebellious teen to uber rebellious young woman, she squashes her emotions in sarcasm and raw humor. 

Other cast include Isabel Durant as Shari Dickstein, Lorenza Izzo as Elena, Jake Robinson as Henry and Samuel L. Jackson as Samuel L. Jackson. 

LIFE ITSELF brings the world a little closer together in that our paths criss-cross in both time and place. This is a theme that Fogelman seems to have found his niche in writing. This Is Us is all about life, love, understanding, misunderstanding, insecurities, family, restraint, sadness, hopes and the emotions we all struggle with. LIFE ITSELF embraces all of those issues as well.

There are no special effects, no car chases, no action sequences and no super heroes. Instead, it is the story of people who are just trying to figure out how to be good people in a world where the word ‘good’ holds different weight for everyone. The films story puts the weakness and human frailties we all have forward and let us feel it with the characters.

In the end – we’re all part of a greater story!

A SIMPLE FAVOR Challenges Friendship

Jeri Jacquin

This Friday in theatres from director Paul Feig and Lionsgate comes a film based on the Darcey Bell novel asking for A SIMPLE FAVOR.

Stephanie Smothers (Anna Kendrick) is a single Mom who passes her days raising a young son Miles (Joshua Satine), being the crafty-type and a vlogger. While at a school celebration, Stephanie meets Miles friend Nicky (Ian Ho) and they both want a play date. Of course it’s all up to Nicky’s Mom Emily (Blake Lively).

Stephanie introduces herself to Emily and is a bit nervous realizing she is an outgoing and verbally free woman. Agreeing to a play date, Emily introduces Stephanie to a martini and the two become acquainted. Spending time together occasionally becomes something Stephanie looks forward to.

She also meets Emily’s husband Sean (Henry Golding) who is a writer and teaches at the local college. Seeing that the couple is really into each other, Stephanie comes to like them both very much. One day Emily calls and asks Stephanie to please watch son Nicky as Sean had to go take care of his injured mother and she is stuck with a business crisis. 

That’s when a mystery begins as days go by and Emily is no where to be found. Sean returns home and joins in the search to find his wife. Stephanie uses her vlog to keep visitors up to date on the search. After the worst news possible happens, Stephanie and Sean find themselves trying to deal with it all.

As the police have their questions, Stephanie also has hers. It starts out with simple things that she notices but each day it becomes clear that something is not only wrong but that nothing is what it has seemed about Emily.

Vlogger and DIY Mom goes into super sleuth mode to discover who Emily truly is, what does Sean know and will she have enough time to make her famous meatless meatballs for the next school function?

Stay tuned!

Kendrick as Stephanie pours it on as a woman with her own secrets who wraps them up in neat little cookie bundles. Volunteering and organizing everything around her, it doesn’t take long before Emily’s influence starts to her loosen up. Taking kindness for weakness, Kendrick gives Stephanie the kind of empowerment that can move mountains. I loved Kendrick in this role with her quirkiness mixed with a nervousness that sets of the hidden firecracker that her character is.

Lively as Emily is gorgeous, smart, wears it well and can spin a yarn with a straight face like no other. I loved every minute she was on screen just making every move look so damn easy. Even when her character was lying I didn’t know if she was lying even when I was 98% sure she was lying. The ride her character provides is fast, fun, crazy and filled with twists and surprises. Emily has a magazine rack full of issues and she’s not about to lay them out for the world to use against her. The match between Emily and Stephanie is definitely perfection.

Golding as husband Sean is a writer/teacher who fell hard for the lovely Emily. From the beginning of their relationship he knew there was something different but learned not to ask questions. Golding gives the role a bit of charm and innocent sexy all the way to the very end. He can also be seen in the hit film CRAZY RICH ASIANS and trust when I say he is an actor to keep watching for.

Other cast include Dustin Milligan as Chris, Danielle Bourgon as Grace, Gia Sandhu as Valerie, Glenda Braganza as Mrs. Glenda, Kelly McCormack as Stacy, Andrew Rannells as Darren, Andrew Moodie as Sgt. Molloy, Rupert Friend as Dennis Nylon and Jean Smart as Mrs. McLanden.

A SIMPLE FAVOR is a mixture of fun, twists, jaw drops, hints, laughs, mystery, deception, friendship, love, illusion and so much more. The film moves along at a good pace and then the script is flipped half way through and the brake stick on the roller coaster is broken off! 

Lively and Kendrick are magic together on the screen and I loved every minute of it. This is a film that is loaded from beginning to end and brought people at the screening together to talk about it after. Conversations spoke about the performances being some of the best seen in a while and how the story kept them off guard through out most of the film. 

For me there were a few things that I figured out but it didn’t stop me at all from enjoying the film. In fact, even though I may have figured this and that out, I didn’t expect the constant twists and turns! That is all due to Kendrick, Lively and Golding who kept me engrossed in their characters.

In the end – it all started with a simple favor!

Another Side of the Story We Haven’t Heard About LIZZIE

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres this Friday from director Craig William Macneill and Roadside Attractions is a tragic tale when it comes to LIZZIE.

Lizzie Borden (Chloë Sevigny) is a woman who is unimpressed by what others think of her much to the irritation of her father Andrew (Jamey Sheridan). Living in her father’s home in Fall Rivers, Massachusetts with sister Emma (Kim Dickens) and step-mother Abby (Fiona Shaw), Lizzie is keenly aware of everything.

Especially when she realizes that her father Andrew has been handling his affairs in a way that Lizzie feels is irresponsible. When servant Bridget Sullivan (Kristen Stewart) comes into the home, Lizzie begins to feel as if there is someone in that house who understands her.

Constantly under her father’s thumb, Lizzie rebels when she can and the consequences are physically draining. Making matters even more dangerous, Andrew has given John Morse (Denis O’Hare) more control over family affairs. Even sister Emma tries to reason with Lizzie explaining this is how their life is.

As their relationship progresses, it is Lizzie’s father who begins to tighten the hold on both his daughter and Bridget. That is when the two women decide that nothing is going to keep them apart.

Nothing and no one.

Sevigny as Lizzie is intense, keeping her emotions in check but making sure her words cut deep and swift. Making it as clear as possible, no matter what her fathers says Lizzie will have her own life. Sevigny has that ability to keep a stoic expression and although this may be based on a true story, she isn’t giving anything away.

Stewart as Bridgett is just as nervous and a cat on a hot tin roof living in the Borden home. Dealing with Andrew’s proclivities, she finds solace with Lizzie that isn’t setting to well with the other members of the family. After the murders is where the mystery between the two women grows and Stewart plays her part well.

Sheridan as Andrew is a man who doesn’t treat others the way he would want to be treated. In fact, he sees mostly everyone as someone for him to control and take serious advantage of. The tension between Andrew and Lizzie is a battle of wills. Sheridan takes on the battle and gives more than a few jaw dropping moments.

Shaw as Abby is a woman attempting to take over the spot left by Borden’s first wife and Lizzie isn’t having a minute of it. Shaw is stern and goes along to get along but don’t think for one moment she isn’t clued in on what goes on inside her own home. Dickens as Emma just wants her sister to not make waves and again, that isn’t sitting well with Lizzie.

O’Hare as John Morse is the sleazy, greedy uncle and had every reason to do the job himself but he was never accused. Instead he completely loses his mind when believing he had his life settled with the stroke of a pen on a will. Once again Lizzie makes sure he is put in his place. 

Other cast include Jeff Perry as Andrew Jennings, Tara Ochs as Susan Gilbert, Jay Huguley as William Moody, and Tom Thon as Professor Wood. 

LIZZIE is the story of Lizzie Borden who, on August 4, 1892, was accused of axing her father Andrew and step-mother Abbey to death. Going to trial for the murders brought the town notoriety and when acquitted of the charges, saw the beginnings of a mystery that has lasted to this day.

This is not the first hint that Lizzie was caught in an intense relationship as the as the 1984 book Lizzie was the first time I was introduced to the possibility that the axe wielding young woman was caught in a love affair. Now writer Bruce Kass and director Craig Macneill bring it all to the screen and once again we are left to decide.

The cast brings it all into riveting focus with hints, family secrets and what could truly have been going on behind the doors of the Borden home. In 1975, actress Elizabeth Montgomery of the television series Bewitched fame game a harrowing performance about Lizzie Borden. This was considered shocking at the time and if you haven’t seen that version I suggest you should, it’s very well done.

Now, with LIZZIE, the story is expanded in another direction that brings Lizzie Borden and her entire household into question. Sevigny and Stewart are the bearers of great burden and an even greater secret and it became clear through their performances that their characters would take a secret to their graves.

The cinematography is bleak and color deprived which only adds to the story of a bleak and color deprived household. I love the costuming but I truly am a fan of period pieces that are done extremely well as in this case. 

In the end – it is the legend of Lizzie Borden!

Prepare Yourself for THE NUN

Jeri Jacquin

In theatres from director Corin Hardy along with writers Gary Dauberman, James Wan and Warner Bros. comes the beginning of it all with THE NUN.

It is 1952 and the Vatican has asked Father Burke (Demian Bichir) to go to the Carta Monastery in Romania to discover why a young nun has thrown herself out of a window. Joining Father Burke is the young novitiate Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga) who needs to help with the Abbess of the cloistered abbey. 

Meeting the duo is Frenchie (Jonas Bloquet) who made deliveries to the monastery and found the young nun dead. Immediately it is clear that there is something dark and unholy taking over the abbey. Father Burke meets the Abbess only to learn that he can not be there after sundown but assures him he will find the answers he seeks.

Sister Irene meets other sisters and learns that there is a history that lives deep in the walls and floors of the abbey. The castle builder summoned an entity that was eventually sealed by a Vatican artifact that is missing. The ground was opened again by the bombs of war and the entity Valak has taken up residence inside The Nun (Bonnie Aarons).

A battle is inevitable as the Father, Sister Irene and Frenchie take on the entity that wants to destroy them all. It is a fight for their souls and for those that will follow from that fight on.

Bichir as Father Burke doesn’t miss a beat when taking on the assignment to go to Romania. Still dealing with his own personal battle of a previous exorcism, it does not deter Bichir’s character from discovering the truth that lay in the bricks of the abbey. I am a fan of Bichir and love that he took on his role cementing himself as part of THE CONJURING universe. 

Farmiga as Sister Irene is a young woman who is waiting to take her final vows. I have to admit that this character has nerves of steel and even when things get a little spooky, she keeps it together and soldiers through to keep evil at bay. It is a tad unnerving to see the younger Farmiga when I am so use to see her sister Vera in THE CONJURING stories but wow, how perfect a fit she is. 

Bloquet as Frenchie knows that there is something at the abbey and although hesitant, finds himself involved in helping the Vatican sent duo. His role is one that will be brought up connecting THE NUN with first CONJURING. 

Aarons as THE NUN gets a shout out from me mainly because she actually made me shout out in the theatre! I love a good jump, love an even bigger scream followed by a chair jump. 

Other cast include Ingrid Bisu as Sister Oana, Charlotte Hope as Sister Victoria, Sandra Teles as Sister Ruth, August Maturo as Daniel,Ani Sava as Sister Jessica, Michael Smiley as Bishop Pasquale, David Horovitch as Cardinal Conroy and Lynnette Gaza as Mother Superior. 

This all started in 2013 with THE CONJURING and I have been hooked ever since. As much as people love slasher films, I am not really a huge fan. I don’t need smack-in-your-face bloody horror to make me jump so I was (and still am) thrilled when the first film came out. 

Instead, director Wan brings back the feeling of the ‘scary movie’ by using music, shadows, and the scare we bring to ourselves. Each of the films brought the best of jumping in the seat with Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson and director Hardy brings it around full circle with Birchir and sister Taissa Farmiga.

There is enough action, scare and mystery built into the story with a dark castle with enough hiding places to keep you on edge. The cinematography is very cool keeping the audience in the dark where all good creepy things come from. 

So conjure up your friends because there is a monastery in Romania that has an entity for you to meet.

In the end – pray for forgiveness!


Jeri Jacquin

In theatres this Friday from director Lenny Abrahamson and Focus Features comes a story of twists and ghost with THE LITTLE STRANGER.

Dr. Faraday (Domhnall Gleeson) is the local town doctor who has a strange affinity for a place called Hundreds Hall. His mother was a housemaid in the employment of the Ayres family when Faraday was a child. Now, it is 1948 and the Ayres family calls upon Dr. Faraday to take care of one of their own.

Arriving at Hundreds Hall, he meets Roderick Ayres (Will Poulter) who was hurt in the war and still suffers horribly. Roderick tells Faraday that he keeps the family books and is responsible for making sure there is a family income – even if it means selling parcels of Hundreds Hall. Sister Caroline (Ruth Wilson) wants to help her brother and when it is suggested that there might be new methods to help, she is on board. Mrs. Ayres (Charlotte Rampling) still keeps airs about the hall that was once a beacon of another time.

Also in Hundreds Hall is something eerie that Roderick seems to be keenly aware that something resides in their home. No one listens believing that it is part of Roderick’s state of being and after an incident; Faraday believes it is in the best interest to send him away.

In the meantime, Faraday strikes up a relationship with Caroline seeking a kindred spirit. They are both needing moments away from Hundreds Hall and their talks are something both look forward too. Faraday begins to see that he is needed at Hundreds Hall to keep Mrs. Ayers and his beloved Caroline safe from what ever lurks in the shadows.

Slowly, the relationships begin to become strained and change because everyone has their own fears and secrets which are about to change the destiny of them all. 

Gleeson as Faraday once again proves why he grows more and more bold about the roles he takes. Becoming widely known as Bill Weasley with the HARRY POTTER franchise, his career began ten years earlier in the television series Rebel Heart. In the following years he has put his stamp on such films as CALVARY, UNBROKEN, EX MACHINA, THE REVENANT and taking on the role of General Hux in STAR WARS: The Last Jedi. I have come really enjoy each and every thing he does from drama to comedy and everything in between. Here, Gleeson as Faraday is staunch, gripping and isn’t going to let anybody in on anything – not for any frame of the film. All of it is a set up for a great conversation after the film.

Wilson as Caroline is a young woman who seems to be a fixture in Hundreds Hall instead of a resident. Clearly dealing with family issues and secrets of her own, Wilson gives her character vulnerability wrapped up in a front that is almost as crumbly as the walls surrounding her. Wilson was recently seen in the drama The Affair and in THE LITTLE STRANGER has the same stoic appearance and ability to hide within herself. The film also puts Wilson and Gleeson together again as they both can be seen in the 2012 film ANNA KARENINA. 

Poulter as Roderick is absolutely stunning and I mean stunning in his role. He completely captured my attention and although the role might not be a large one, its impact caught me. Yes, the role is that of a disfigured person but Poulter could have put a bag over his head and I’d have loved his portrayal of Roderick.

Now, Ms. Rampling as Mrs. Ayers – I am a huge fan of Ms. Rampling’s and to see her in this role just reminds me (as if I needed it) that she is a jewel that only remains bright. I find her to be amazing and riveting to watch and in THE LITTLE STRANGER she reinforces my belief that the actresses I grew up admiring deserve every bit of it.

Other cast include Kate Phillips as Diana Baker-Hyde, Anna Madeley as Anne Granger, Camilla Arfwedson as Young Mrs. Ayers, Dixie Egerickx as Gillian Baker-Hyde, Amy Marston as Mrs. Blundell, Sarah Crowden as Miss Dabney and Loren MacFadyen as Dr. Calder

THE LITTLE STRANGER is a slow moving film but has all the nuances of a genre that wants to invest in your time. There is no hurry in bringing you along for the ride because it is 1948 in an era that has a lot of secrets in a society that prides itself on those secrets. 

Surrounded by the walls of Hundreds Hall, the characters play out family secrets, pains best kept unspoken and realities that each of them don’t want to face. There is time to get to know each character yet with the time restrains you feel as if you have to believe what’s being told – even though there is an itch that says not to.

I love that about this film as well as the cinematography, the era clothing, cars and attitudes that play into the storytelling. Of course I am a little partial to films like THE LITTLE STRANGER in that I don’t want to know everything because it takes away from the great after film chats that I get into.

In the end – from small acorns dark mysteries grow!

Jeri Jacquin

Starting off the weekend with a bite in theatres from director Jon Turteltaub and Warner Bros. comes a reason to stay off the beach and sit in the theatre to ride the wave of THE MEG.

Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham) was an expert driver but on one mission he had to choose between two of his crewmen or a whole submarine full of wounded men when something attacks their vessel. Five years later that decision had career and marital consequences but he seems to be doing fine living in Thailand.

Out in the middle of the ocean, billionaire Morris (Rainn Wilson) is helicoptering onto platform to see where his money is going. The Mana One research facility off the coast of China is still under construction as Zhang (Winston Chao), daughter Syuin (Bingbing Li) and crew consisting of Mac (Cliff Curtis), Jaxx (Ruby Rose), DJ (Page Kennedy), Heller (Robert Taylor) and Syuin's eight year old daughter Meiying (Sophia Cai). 

Ready to go to the deepest part of the Marianna Trench, Suyin believes it is possible to go deeper and that a thermal layer separates our world for another ocean discovery. Sending sub driver Lori (Jessica McNamee), Toshi (Masi Oka) and The Wall (Olafur Olafsson), they dive. Breaking through they are surprised by what they see and quickly become shocked when their sub comes under attack and communications are cut off. The last words they hear is from Lori saying, "Tell Jonas he was right!"

Trying to put together a rescue plan, Mac brings up Jonas Taylor saying he is really the only man who would take such a risk to rescue the three trapped in the sub. Off to Thailand Mac and Zhang go to convince Taylor that he is needed. After some fast talking, Taylor arrives on the research platform and is immediately set to diving because Suyin took it upon herself to try and rescue her friends.

Preparing to dive, Taylor meets Meiying and learns that eight year olds hear everything. Meeting up with Suyin, they too are immediately hit by something big and fast. Working together they manage to get their friends and get out and back to the platform. As they all 
regather their thoughts, Meiying comes face to face (thank goodness for very thick plastic) with something that wants to let it be known it is there - a Megalodon. 

Discovering how it came to the surface, the crew knows they can not let it get to a populated area. Hopping on a large ship, they take off looking for the Meg and once again Taylor does the incredibly shocking jumping into the water to tag the beast. Almost everyone believes the only thing to do is kill it but Suyin wants to study it alive. 

Thinking they have stopped a disaster, there is an even bigger beast swimming in the water around them. Once it has made its point with the crew, the Meg heads towards the beaches that are littered with people like meaty human krill! Taylor and the crew are not about to stop trying to stop the biggest creature in the water who has only one goal - destruction!

Statham as Taylor proves why we continue to love this guy! Of course I can honestly say that the towel scene (oh you will know exactly what I'm talking soon) had the guys impressed and the gals drooling. Now with that out of the way, Statham has the perfect bad boy swagger to play this role. The character gives zero-frakks about what people think of him and gives stone face when someone tries to tell him what to do or not to do. He proves it by jumping into danger with a smirk on his face and a mischievous twinkle in his eyes. Also, it doesn't hurt that he plays opposite an equally quick 8-year-old! That's is what makes a good action star and THE MEG solidifies Statham's status and truth be told we love to love the guy!

Li as Suyin is a researcher who certainly doesn't count on finding a living Megalodon but once she does, killing it is not something she wants to do. Equally as hard headed as Taylor, she has a few quick one-liners and also doesn't hesitate to jump into the deep end of the ocean. Cali as the magnificent 8-year-old Meiying was one of the best characters in the film. She doesn't get in the way yet doesn't hesitate to put in her two cents. I do wonder who would put their kid on a boat and chase a Meg but then again it isn't like social services are on board!

Curtis as Mac is on Taylor's side in all things believing that he was wronged all those years ago and makes it clear that his expertise is necessary to rescue friends but then also to take out the Meg. Rose as Jaxx it smart but honestly there isn't a lot here for her to do but look concerned and throw out a line now and then. Taylor as Heller is the idiot character that I looked forward to the Meg chomping down - a girl can dream.

Chao as Zhang just wants success for the research crew but when things start to go wrong, he is with Taylor 100 per cent. Olafsson as The Wall has reason to be afraid after his experience in the sub. Wilson as Morris is a rich guy who thought everything was cool - until it wasn't. There was actually a moment where I thought he was smarter than everyone else but it passed quickly. His character was one of the comic reliefs of the film.

Kennedy as DJ had a line for everything and was not at all thrilled with any aspect of the rescue or anything that happened after that. Everything he said made me laugh because Kennedy was basically saying what everyone was thinking at some point in the film. 

Other cast include: Jessica McNamee as Lori, Masi Oka as Toshi, Rob Kipa-Williams as D'Angelo, Tawanda Manyimo as Marks, James Gaylyn as David, Kelly the Dog as Pippin.

Okay, let’s face it, we all love shark movies - good, bad or indifferent we secretly love them all. I, like allot of my generation probably took a liking to sharks films right around the summer of June 1975. Shark films have made their way to us ever since in some form or another in films, television and documentaries. The teeth baring sea creatures have even managed to finally get a whole week on television as the Discovery Channel gets us all worked up with Shark Week. I mean they get a whole week and we don't get enough of it.

THE MEG is going to have its place among very cool shark movies because it all comes together in such a fantastic way. In the 113 minutes of the film there is not a frame wasted and look homage’s to shark films that have come before it. THE MEG is based on the Steve Alten book MEG: A Novel of Deep Terror. I'm sure there will be readers who will be watching every move the film makes.

Personally I was excited as the release of THE MEG drew closer. I wanted to be taken away, entertained, made to jump, laugh, hide my eyes, holler a little bit and cheer. That's exactly what happened and it felt like a group theatre experience as everyone around me was doing the same exact thing.

THE MEG gives us a reminder of why we gather up in a group (for safety purposes of course), grab the biggest tub of popcorn and soda we can hold, get great seats and prepare to be thrilled. Sitting through this film was fun and when it’s over we get to stand up and walk away from the big bad Meg with all our pieces in tact. Might as well know now - I'm going back to see THE MEG again with friends and...I can't wait!

In the end - before chasing seas monsters you had better check your place on the sea food chain!

Puppets take over THE HAPPYTIME MURDERS 

Jeri Jacquin

Well heck, this isn’t exactly your ordinary puppet/human film and that’s okay with me. In theatres this Friday from director Brian Henson and STX Entertainment comes a story of a partnership to beat them all with THE HAPPYTIME MURDERS.

Phil Philips (voiced by Bill Barretta) is a private detective who was once the first puppet to ever become a cop with the LAPD. After an incident that still haunts him, Phil is happy working for himself. Answering his calls is his very dependable and devoted secretary Bubbles (Maya Rudolph). 

One day a very lushly stuffed red-head named Sandra (Dorien Davies) comes to Phil’s office and asks him to investigate who might be black mailing her. Phil agrees and begins checking out a clue when he quickly becomes sidetracked when a group of puppets are cut down with fluff flying everywhere!

Arriving to investigate is Detective Connie Edwards (Melissa McCarthy) and she is none to happy to see Phil. Edwards and Philips were once partners and because of her testimony he lost his badge. Exchanging unpleasantries, Lt. Banning (Leslie Baker) lets them both know they will be teaming up once again to solve the crime.

Phil drowns his grumpiness by visiting his brother Larry (Victor Yerrid) who found success on television in a show called The Happytime Gang. Lulled into changing himself a little to fit into society, Phil doesn’t know how lucky he is until Larry is attacked.

Now Edwards and Philips begin to see a pattern that the entire cast of The Happytime Gang are in danger. Included in that is Philips first love Jenny (Elizabeth Banks), a dancer who became the only human on his brother’s show.

Putting their differences aside, they work piecing together the clues one by one but always seem to be on step behind the person responsible for the puppet mayhem. When FBI Agent Campbell (Joel McHale) shows up, he tries to shut them down but these two cork screwy crime fighters aren’t about to let anything get in their way.

Where the clues lead them changes everything!

McCarthy as Detective Edwards gives her usual witty, snappy and very funny performance as a cop with a few secret problems. The adversarial relationship with Phil Philips wasn’t always the case and speaking of cases – they are going to have to put their animosity on hold to get the job done. McCarthy doesn’t mess a beat delivering her lines with the timing that makes me proud to be a smart ass.

Baretta voicing Phil Philips is very noir detective telling his story with a cigarette in one hand and a bag load of attitude in the other. There doesn’t seem to be anything this puppet can’t do, and I mean that in every sense and when my jaw isn’t hitting the floor I’m rolling in laughter. Bouncing off McCarthy, these two are perfect for one another.

Rudolph as Bubbles is devoted to her private detective boss and there isn’t anything she won’t do for him. When he is seen as a suspect, Bubbles makes darn sure that Edwards does what’s right to help make it all right. Rudolph is cutsie and also very noir with her pin curl hair and red nails.

Banks as Jenny is a burlesque dancer who seems happy when Philips walks through the door again. Remembering the moments they spent together, both puppet and long legged human are clear that something is wrong. Banks gives a carrot dance performance that had the audience cracking up.

McHale as Agent Campbell is just a man who clearly isn’t playing with a full deck and power hungry at the same time. I love when McHale tries to get tough in these roles and keep a straight face doing it. Baker as Lt. Banning just wants the case solved and putting the ex-partners together is the way to do it. 

Other cast include Drew Massey as Goofer, Ted Michaels as Ezra, Colleen Smith as Cara, Alice Dinnea as Sheila and Donna Kimball as Diane. 

Look, THE HAPPYTIME MURDERS is just a disturbingly hilarious film that pushes every button to get a reaction and they succeeded. The audience was cheering, laughing, grossed out, groaning, smacking their foreheads, clapping and just having a great time. 

This isn’t a film that needs to be analyzed or scrutinized but instead just go and have fun. Yes the humor pushed the comedy bar up, down, sideways and slant ways like a Wonka-vater but who doesn’t love that? I wanted to take a dirty puppet film ride down the slippery slopes of good taste and right into a mud hole – and that’s exactly what happened.

THE HAPPYTIME MURDERS is just a romp – it’s as simple as that – with touches of outrageousness and moments that can never be erased from your memory. The same could be said of many films but they didn’t make me laugh as much as this one does. Yep, I have a twisted sense of humor and am damn proud of it. 

In the end – they are no sesame and all street!


Jeri Jacquin

In theatres this week from director Michael Noer and Bleeker Street is an epic escape from the man they call PAPILLON.

Henri ‘Papillon’ Charriere (Charlie Hunnam) is living the criminal life in France and seemingly enjoying it all with Nenette (Eve Hewson). His high life comes crashing down when he is accused of murder and sent to a penal colony in French Guiana.

On the way he meets counterfeiter Louis Dega (Rami Malek) and offers to be his security from the attack of others. Once at the prison, they are introduced to Warden Barrot (Yorick van Wageningen) who makes it plain that he will tolerate no breaking of the rules. Papillon tries to set up the best jobs with the money Dega has. It all seems to be going well until they duo hear from Deputy Gordon. The officer has a history with Dega and paybacks put the two into hard labor.

Around heavy rock, explosive and other angry prisoners, Papillon is determined to find a way out. As he sees the extreme brutality of their incarceration and it only pushes him harder. Dega also makes it clear that he wants to leave any way possible but when a moment presents itself, Papillon leaves him behind.

Back at the prison, the Warden makes it clear that what Papillion will experience next is not rehabilitation but the insanity of silence. Two years later and Papillon and Dega meet once again and the plan picks up where they left off. This time they enlist the help of Celier (Roland Moller), Maturette (Joel Basman) and a boat.

Free on an island Papillon meets a nun who help the survivors of the boat escape to recuperate but it is short lived. Five years later Papillon and Dega reunite on Devil’s Island with no bars and no real guards. Just learning to survive in the harshest conditions and still burning with the idea of escape.

One more time – one more chance!

Hunnam as Papillon reaches out to every spectrum of human emotion in the over two hour span of story telling. To the crazy years never-a-care years in France, to what he must do to survive the prison, two years of solitary confinement, torture, near starvation and darkness. Every bit of it shows in Hunnam’s portrayal and at times it’s disturbing to witness. He carries the full weight of this film and it shows in every frame.

Malek as Dega is clearly a man who has never been in a situation to need protection but quickly realizes its Papillon that can provide it. The problem is Dega consistently forces others to take up his slack forcing his protector to protect overtime. As each day passes, Dega becomes wiser and a little more taking of a punch. Malek gives his stoic character life when it needs it and acceptance when all else fails.

Wageningen as Barrot is a man determined to run a prison with an iron fist. He is not about to let Papillon change any of that. Finding more and more way to try and break him, it is not an easy feat with the strong willed man. 

Moller as Celier is just as crafty as they come knowing Papillon is the guy to make it happen. Riding his coattails out the prison door is exactly what he intends to do. Basman as Maturette is the boyish young man who is just as deadly as the company he is keeping. 

Other cast include Nina Senicar as the Leper, Michael Socha as Julot, Christopher Fairbank as Jean Castili, Ian Beattie as Toussaint, Nick Kent as Brioulet, and Brian Vernel as Guittou.

In 1973, Steve McQueen took on the role of Papillon and along with Dustin Hoffman proved he was the perfect leading man to handle the telling of director Franklin J. Schaffner’s vision. For it’s time it was ground breaking as the film garnered an Oscar Nomination for Best Music Original Dramatic Score and a Golden Globe nomination for Steve McQueen. 

Forty-five years later we have a darker telling with Hunnam and Malek digging even deeper into the lives of these two men and a place that is equal to hell on earth. The film is grim in the cinematography to match the story and where it takes us. It is harsh, intense, and a momentary reunion between two SOA (FX’s series Sons of Anarchy) brothers that tugged at my heart. 

PAPILLON is a book written by Henri Charriere published in France in 1969 about his 14 years in prison. It became a best seller and is still considered today one of the best books published. Charriere would spend the rest of his life in Venezuela as a free man with his story written and seen on the screen. 

In the end – this is the greatest escape adventure ever told!

MILE 22 Brings Wahlberg and Director Berg Back Together for Action

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres this Friday from director/producer Peter Berg and STX Entertainment comes a fast paced chase to MILE 22.

James Silva (Mark Wahlberg), Alice Kerr (Lauren Cohan), and Sam Snow (Ronda Rousey) are part of a CIA prized group of operatives who are sent to handle special missions. In their latest take down, the team loses a man, takes down Russians up to no good and intel.

In Asia, Kerr has an informant that needs their protection and Silva isn’t thrilled about it. Li Noor (Iko Uwais) has turned himself in to the embassy claiming to have information about the whereabouts of missing chemicals. What makes this even more interesting is that the local authorities want him back and they have Axel (Sam Medina) to make that happen.

The secret tactical command team led by Bishop (John Malkovich) works with Silva’s team being the eyes and ears getting Noor to an airstrip twenty-two miles from the embassy for extraction. Along with Bishop is King (Keith Bolden), Knight (Jenique Hendrix), Rook (Billy Smith) and Pawn (Myke Holmes) who have the technology to make it happen.

What they don’t know is that the team has eyes on them as well. In the skies above is Vera (Natasha Goubskaya) and Russian military Aleksander (Nikolai Nikolaeff) and they want something too.

The information everyone wants has a key that only Noor knows and it will not be around long. The clock is ticking as every move is being watched and sometimes you have to trust someone you don’t know to survive.

Every mile matters!

Wahlberg as Silva is a very hyperactive, intense and fast talking individual who gives zero frakks about propriety or rank. Some might call it monologuing but he does it with such speed that it will make your mind spin while you giggle at the same time. He lays everything out on the table and yet his team means everything – even if he doesn’t act like it all the time. Wahlberg turns in his usual strong performance in a story that is fast telling and even faster in action.

Cohan as Kerr is a mother who is dealing with an ex-husband who likes to have control. Personally I would be so quick to control a woman who has no problem with speaking her mind or pointing a weapon in someone’s face! She believes in her contact Noor wants to see him safe. Anyone who has watched AMC’s The Walking Dead can see that Cohan brings it to this role as well.

Rousey as Snow is tough and pretty much took this role and ran with it. Malkovich as Bishop is suave and in control of his team. Goubskaya as Vera watches everything from the air and doesn’t bat an eye when the team comes under fire. Skeggs as MIT gets a shout out because the scene between she and Silva is epic and fast. 

Uwais as Noor is fan-frikken-tastic but then again if you have seen THE RAID in 2011 and THE RAID 2 in 2014 then you know this role is very cool for him. There is no doubt that his martial arts is on point and brutal but Uwais takes this character to another level that made my jaw drop – oh yea, he’s got this.

Other cast include Carlo Alban as William Douglas, Chae-rin Lee as Queen, Emily Skeggs as MIT, Terry Kinney as Johnny Porter, Brandon Scales as Jacob Stone, Poorna Jagannathan as Dorothy Brady, Elle Graham as India and Peter Berg as Lucas.

Berg and Wahlberg have proven that their true story telling is a calling card of the duo and they do it well. This is a bit of a turn from the last few years but there’s nothing wrong with that either. I don’t mind being taken out of the realm of reality for an hour and a half to just sit back and watch the film do its job – entertain me.

MILE 22 is a total action film that doesn’t give the audience a moment to sit still. The speak is just as fast as any bullet flying provided by Wahlberg and Cohan making sure we understand they mean business. Each character in the film has a role to play and man does it get played intensely.

Berg doesn’t disguise the good or bad of either side but instead goes in full bore on the game of modern warfare. It’s no longer easy to recognize friend or foe when it’s all treated like a game. The cinematography is pretty cool keeping up with the pace of the story but then again if you are going to have an action film – go big or go home! 

In the end – Option 1: Diplomacy, Option 2: Military…meet Option 3!

CHRISTOPHER ROBIN Brings us all a Lesson in What is Important

Jeri Jacquin

Coming this week to theatres from director Marc Forster and Walt Disney Studios is the return to the One Hundred Acre Woods and the boy once known as CHRISTOPHER ROBIN.

Christopher Robin was a young boy who spent all his time in the woods with his friends Winnie the Pooh, Piglet, Eyeore, Owl, Rabbit, Tigger, Kanga and Roo. Their days were filled with exploration and friendship until Christopher Robin is sent off to boarding school.

As the years pass, Christopher Robin (Ewan McGregor) meets and marries Evelyn (Hayley Atwell), becomes the father of Madeline (Bronte Carmichael), is a soldier fighting years of war and returns home to work at a company called Winslow that makes luggage. He is focused on work which leaves little time for family.

When he is told by Giles Winslow (Mark Gatiss) that the company needs to make cuts, Robin must give up a weekend with his family to work. Evelyn and Madeline are not happy but go off for the weekend on their own.

Back in the one hundred acre woods, Pooh wakes up to discover that all his friends are gone. As he starts to search, Pooh finds his way to London and Christopher Robin knowing he is the only person that can help. Imagine the surprise when they meet and Pooh explains that the rest of their friends are lost.

All Robin can think of is how to get this talking bear back to where he belongs without anyone, including his family, seeing him. Battling Heffalumps and the need to get back for an important meeting, Robin loses track of time and races back to London. The problem is that Tigger’s good intentions are about to change everything. 

Madeline, Pooh, Tigger, Piglet and Eeyore show Christopher Robin what it means to slow down, remember the people that mean the most and – to do absolutely nothing.

McGregor as the adult Christopher Robin has his nose the grindstone doing what he thinks he should be doing, providing for his family. Forgetting his friends in the forest, Robin feels the pressures of responsibility and is now forgetting his own family. McGregor as an actor still manages to have the ability to look child-like when the role calls for it and make it look effortless. His interactions with Pooh are filled with tension until he begins to embrace the simplicity he once knew.

Atwell as Evelyn sees the change in her husband and reminds him that who he is now is not the man she met all those years ago. She wants him to laugh, smile and be a father once again to their daughter who clearly misses him. Carmichael as Madeline would gladly accept moments, fractions of moments with her father but doesn’t know how to tell him. Feeling as if everything else means more than she does, it takes the friends in the woods to explain that her father wasn’t always this way. Carmichael is very sweet and even missing time with her father; she still wants to help him succeed!

Jim Cummings voices Winnie the Pooh (also Tigger) had me the moment he began to speak as Pooh. There is such innocence in Pooh and Cummings brings that so very clear through his voice. Brad Garrett as Eeyore has the perfect voice filled with sadness and humor at the same time. Nick Mohammed as Piglet is perfectly cute, Peter Capaldi as Rabbit is very funny, Sophie Okonedo as Kanga is the Mom who watches over everyone, Sara Sheen as Roo loves her woodland family and Toby Jones as Owl is sweet. 

Other cast include Oliver Ford Davies as Old Man Winslow, Ronke Adekoluejo as Katherine Dane, Adrian Scarborough as Hal Gallsworthy, Roger Ashton-Griffiths as Ralph Butterworth, Ken Nwosu as Paul Hastings, John Dagleish as Matthew Leadbetter, Amanda Lawrence as Joan MacMillan, Katy Carmichael as Christopher’s Mother, Tristan Surrock as Christopher’s Father and Orton O’Brien as Young Christopher Robin.

Winnie-the-Pooh was created by A.A. Milne with the first collection of stories finding its way to the hands of children in 1926. Basing the character named after his own son Christopher Robin Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh was a teddy bear that belonged to his son. His son named the toy bear after a black bear he saw at the London Zoo. The rest is history and what a grand and iconic history it is.

It should be no surprise that Marc Forster directed the film since he also directed the 2004 film FINDING NEVERLAND. That is another story about the creation of the iconic story of Peter Pan. The feel created by Forster is compelling, tugs at the heart and is giggly delightful.

CHRISTOPHER ROBIN is a story about what happens once childhood fades into a place we chose to forget. In this case, Christopher Robin is sent to boarding school taking him away from his friends and then adulting through marriage, a war and a job which changes his focus on life. 

What makes this film so relatable is that we are all the adult Christopher Robin’s in some shape or form. We are all so busy ‘working’ that sometimes the good childhood memories, our family and life suffers in the juggling. That is the truth of it and its right there in front of us daily wiping out all else sometimes.

This film brings the simplicity right there in front of us as well with phrases that will be repeated on the regular and all coming from a talking bear. Winnie-the-Pooh sees Christopher Robin exactly as he is – even if he is now an adult. Looking into his eyes, the lovely bear embraces the boy who has become a man, even if the man doesn’t like it.

The characters of Piglet, Eeyore, Tigger, Kanga, Roo and Owl are reminders of friendship and the charm that they bring to ones life. These woodland creatures are loyal, supportive and want Christopher Robin to remember what is important because it is clear that they deeply love their friend.

McGregor’s portrayal of the iconic little boy who becomes a forgetful man is what I would expect and yet his performance still moved me. I will also admit that Pooh and his friends had my heart all tied up neatly in a bow and might have even brought a tear to my eye. Who wouldn’t want friends like that to lovingly remind me to embrace every moment, occasionally smile and remember to do nothing because it will become the best of something.

In the end – sooner or later the past will catch up with you!

ANT-MAN and the WASP Prove Super Hero Size Doesn’t Matter

Jeri Jacquin

In theatres this Friday from director Peyton Reed and Marvel Studios comes the next adventure bringing together ANT-MAN and the WASP.

Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is still under house arrest after the fiasco with CAPTAIN AMERICA: Civil War. Under the watchful eye of Agent Woo (Randall Park), Scott spends time with daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson) and his business with partner Luis (Michael Pena).

With days away from the removal of his ankle tracker, Scott is doing his best to behave. Of course that’s all about to change when Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) decides to kidnap him. Freaking out about being out of the house, Hope explains that she and father Dr. Pym (Michael Douglas) need his help. 

Both Hope and Pym are still unhappy with what Scott did but there is something more important they need. Working on a way to save her mother Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer), Hope reaches out to Sonny Burch (Walton Goggins), a man who knows how to get things that are – shall we say – slightly illegal.

Once Sonny realizes who Hope is and what her father can do, he makes demands to get a piece of the action. They are interrupted by what can only be describes as a Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen) and an all out brawl breaks out forcing Scott back into his Ant-Man suit to help.

Now the chase is on as it seems both Sonny and this Ghost want the same thing, to steal Dr. Pym’s lab and discover the secrets inside. Of course Scott also has to keep a low profile but that’s hard to do when you are trying to do what’s right!

Rudd as Scott reminds me of a clean Deadpool in a sense. He is funny, charming, constantly trying to do what’s right even if it goes wrong and wears a tight super hero costume. He brings out the best in his character while being put in the worst situations possible. I have to admit that the scene between Rudd and Fishburne is pretty funny when they are comparing size. I just enjoy Rudd as an actor and ANT-MAN and the WASP proves why that is.

Lily as Hope is smart, tough and has no problem whizzing between sizes to put the bad guys in their place. She is still a little bent out of shape with Scott but believing that her mother might still be alive is much more important. John-Kamen as Ghost has the chance to go a little one-on-one with Lily’s character as they both worked on their martial arts skills perfectly.

Douglas as Dr. Pym is totally p.o.’d at Scott but, like his daughter, sees the necessity of getting Scott’s help. Using his smarts to stay one step ahead of both Sonny and the Ghost, coming up against an old friend might be the hardest to deal with. Fishburne as Dr. Foster has a bone to pick with Pym and it will all come out in the wash.

Pena as Luis finally has his chance to see how the super hero half lives. Making sure Scott is protected and getting a chance to shrink seems to make his life complete. Fortson as Cassie is sweet and wants what is best for her Dad and, of course, has a few ideas on being a super hero herself.

Goggins as Sonny can do no wrong and brings bad guy humor to the film. He is a little greedy and at the same time a little charming with a few one liners that cracked me up. Park as Agent Woo also brings in the laughs trying to stay one step ahead of Scott. Pfeiffer as Janet has a small role (no pun intended) but a necessary character none the less.

Other cast include Bobby Cannavale as Paxton, T.I. as Dave, David Dastmalchian as Kurt, Divian Ladwa as Uzman and Lawrence Fishburne as Dr. Bill Foster.

ANT-MAN and the WASP is a fun superhero film that the whole family can enjoy filled with fun, total action and characters zipping from small, medium to large with lightening speed. The film comes in at a little over two hours yet never felt like I was being dragged along the story line.

Rudd and Lily work so well together that they made it look effortless. Douglas adds his grumpy salt to the mix and waalaa – a super hero film that will have everyone leaving the film feeling pretty darn good. 

Of course I can tell you to definitely stay past the credits because, as the Marvel Cinematic Universe is know for, a jaw drop or two might be waiting. The interconnection between the Marvel films is becoming tighter and tighter.

As the summer heats up for blockbuster superhero movies, ANT-MAN and the WASP looks to be right up there with the rest. 

In the end – real heroes come in all sizes!

SKYSCRAPER is Everything Anyone Can Want from the Rock!

Jeri Jacquin

In theatres from writer/director Rawson Marshall Thurber and Universal Pictures comes the story of a family man, bad guys and a tall building called a SKYSCRAPER.

Will Sawyer (Dwayne Johnson) is a former FBI man who has begun a small security business of his own. Through the help of Ben (Pablo Schreiber), a former member of his FBI team, Will has been given the opportunity of a lifetime. Doing the security check of the highest skyscraper in the world owned by Zhao Long Ji (Chin Han), Will is more than a little nervous.

Living in the family section of the building that is waiting to be open to the public is wife Sarah (Neve Campbell) who is a successful doctor in her own right. Also, their twins Georgia (McKenna Roberts) and Henry (Noah Cottrell) are enjoying the adventure living in Hong Kong. 

Meeting with Zhao, Will is given the okay to complete his security work and given a tablet that allows only him access to certain areas of the building. Headed to the off site facility, Will is attacked and his satchel is stolen. Ben is there to help and discovers that Will still has what it takes. It becomes clear that there is something more sinister happening when Kores Botha (Roland Moller) enters the building.

Seen by Sarah in the hallways, it is soon after that a fire alarm goes off! Will figures out that the building is under attack and tries to reach his family when he realizes they are in their apartment. He is surprised when it is put on the big screens around Hong Kong that he is the one responsible for it all.

A police headquarters is set up and led by Inspector Wu (Byron Mann) who is suspicious about everything that has been happening. Putting a call out to find Will, it doesn't take long. On a building next to the skyscraper, Will is finding his own way back into the building that has now been locked down with police hot on his trail.

Zhao is told by his handlers and Mr. Pierce (Noah Taylor) that Will's family is still in the building and they try to retrieve them. As the fire burns out of control and Zhao realizes that his building has been compromised, he knows it's time to go and who is responsible for everything.

None of that matters to Will, he wants his family safe and no billionaire, bad guy or skyscraper is going to stop him!

Johnson as Sawyer is a man with heart, soul and a deep understanding of family. Now, let’s get down to business with this role. Of course this is a 'disaster' film and it looks like a few we've seen over the years yet bit when Dwayne Johnson takes the lead it's all good with me. He always portrays a charmingly humble sort of guy who knows what the right thing is and doesn't hesitate to do it. His characters are always flawed in some way and as Sawyer; he is a man who has a physical disability that doesn't slow him down. He's smart, unwavering and determined to make sure his family comes first and that's what makes him a good dude.

I also must say that if the universe is looking for another Spiderman, they might want to consider Dwayne Johnson (you will understand when you see the film). I was also impressed with little tricks that I kept thinking, “I bet John McClane (DIE HARD) is mad he didn’t think of that”. Just a great homage to a lot of classic disaster and action films I happen to love.

Campell as Sarah is a pretty darn good woman in her own right. She is supportive of her husband, smart with an important career and equally as dedicated to her family. When it all starts to go down, Campell goes into beast mode and makes it clear she is a force to be reckoned with as well. I enjoyed that about her role, she gets her hands dirty and clearly isn't a pushover. That goes for Roberts as daughter Georgia and Cottrell as son Henry as these two are afraid (with every reason to be) yet are motivated by the example set by their parents. 

Moller as bad guy Botha is quiet, skilled and doesn't give a hoot who gets in his way. He has a score to settle and settle it he absolutely will. Schreiber as Ben is the man who starts it all using his friendship with Will. Taylor as Mr. Pierce is the guy I'd never trust in a million years which means a performance well done. Mann as Inspector Wu gives Will the chance to plea

Other cast include Kevin Rankin as Ray, Matt O'Leary as Skinny Hacker, Tzi Ma as Fire Chief Sheng, Adrian Holmes as Ajani Okeke, and Elfina Luk as Sgt. Han.

SKYSCRAPER has pretty much everything you go to see an action film for. Although the storyline might seem familiar in a few ways, it certainly doesn't take away from what happens on screen. Johnson goes in full force and doesn't waste any time taking his character for a full on adventure but then again we have come to expect that from him - happily so.

Look, I've been a fan of disaster films since I was a kid. My earliest experience in disasters on film was watching the 1953 film TITANIC with Clifton Webb and Barbara Stanwyck which captivated me from start to finish much to my mother's dismay. After that I couldn't wait to see what Hollywood would come up with next and I followed fearlessly with each film. It's probably the notion that I get a thrill out of surviving the disasters or perhaps I just enjoy watching what human beings do when survival is on the line.

Now, SKYSCRAPER will be one of those films that I will stop and watch every time it comes my way. I enjoyed watching Johnson be a part of a family that fights for their survival and not be a victim of it which I'm sure the bad guys didn't anticipate. Instead, I cheered them all on and boo'd when the bad guys showed their ugly mugs. 

That's what makes films like SKYSCRAPER so enjoyable - the interaction that many in the theatre along with me enjoyed being a part of. There is something to be said for being outspoken when the characters on screen give us something to cheer about. Finally, this film is just one heck of a good time at the theatres with a bucket of popcorn and a comfy seat.

In the end - don't look down!

INCREDIBLES 2 is Exactly That – Purely Incredible!

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres this week from writer/director Brad Bird, Pixar and Walt Disney Studios is the return of the family we love to love with INCREDIBLES 2.

After the Parr family has dealt with the Mole and his attack on the city, the Supers once again find themselves on the outs. Sitting in a motel room wondering what they are going to do next, Lucius aka Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson) arrives with news.

It seems someone wants to help bring Supers back! A meeting with Winston (Bob Odenkirk) and Evelyn Deavor (Catherine Keener) brings Bob/Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) and Helen/Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) a chance to prove that Supers should be brought back.

The idea is to make Elastigirl the face of the Supers which takes them by surprise, especially Bob’s ego. The Deavor’s provide the Parr family with a spacious and, well incredible new home and Helen an awesome two wheel ride. All of this means Bob is home to tend to teen-angst ridden Violet (Sarah Vowell), Dash (Huck Milner) and Jack-Jack (Eli Fucile).

Home life problems include Violet’s confusion about her date with Tony (Michael Bird), Dash’s rambunctiousness and Jack-Jack being Jack-Jack. As Helen leaves to resume ‘hero’ work, Bob is now Mr. Mom and learning the ropes. It doesn’t take long before he becomes over whelmed but can’t let Helen know so calls on Lucius who is equally confused about it all. His last hope is Edna Mode (Brad Bird)!

Helen on the other hand is busy saving Ambassador’s and meeting new Supers. Winston wants to create a summit where everyone comes together once again. The problem is a new villain is using technology to turn the Supers into not-so-nice Supers putting the possibility of bringing Supers back on the back burner! You follow?

Don’t worry, you will, and what an incredible ride it is!

Hunter as Helen/Elastigirl takes the lead in this film as a working Mom in the most Super of ways. I love Hunter’s character for so many reasons but mainly she is the glue that holds the Parr family together. Not taking anything away from Bob, it’s just a Mom thang!

Nelson as Bob/Mr. Incredible is a little distraught about being put aside but slowly begins to see that he can be equally incredible being an dialed-in Dad as well. When he is finally called to help save the world once again, a twists comes in and the loyalty of family suits up!

Vowell as Violet is having the double issue of teen and super confusion. The one thing she does know for sure is that family is everything. Milner as Dash continues his wise cracking sense of humor and ability to test his parent’s limits – which isn’t always a bad thing.

Jackson as Lucius/Frozone is thrilled at the possibility of being free to freeze, even if his wife might have other ideas. Odenkirk as Winston is a man who truly believes that the Supers need to come back. He has his own personal reasons for it which are endearing. Keener as Evelyn is laid back and the technical brains of the very rich duo.

Fucil as Jack-Jack steals the film from everyone and it must be said. This kid-character had me cracking up from start to finish – probably because that’s exactly how I see most toddlers. Fiery one minute and happy with a cookie the next, Jack-Jack is coming into his own and the family better learn to deal!

Other cast include Sophia Bush as Voyd, Phil LaMarr as Krushauer/Helectrix, Adam Gates as Chad Brentley, Jonathan Banks as Rick Dicker, Isabella Rossellini as the Ambassador.

INCREDIBLES 2 has my whole family jumping in our very incredible Incredible pajamas. Yes, when we like something we go all in and this film is definitely family fun from start to finish. It is so great to have the gang back together dealing with the duality of trying to have a normal life while trying to save the world from itself.

I believe the reason for the films success in 2004 is because this family is so dang cute for one but totally relatable for another. They have work problems, family issues, sibling rivalry – basically everything we non-supers deal with every day. The fact that they are animated just makes all of those things sort of enjoyable.

What I enjoy as well is the fact that writer/director Bird doesn’t really deviate from that winning formula. In fact, once again the story deals with losing a home, being unemployed, Mom having to be the bread winner and Dad discovering what really goes on at home and, of course, turning to true friends in time of need.

Those are awesome things to take away from a film that also entertains at every turn. I walked into the theatre giddy with excitement to see one of my favorite families (if you must know, The Adams Family is also in that list) come together once again and, well, be a family that just happens to have something extra to share with us all.

So gather up your own super family and prepare for adventure, laughs and a little learning with a family that shows us all how it’s possible to be incredible in our own ways.

In the end – it’s back to work!

Monsters Test Your Ability to Live in 

Jeri Jacquin

Silently making its way into theatres this Friday from director John Krasinski via storytellers Bryan Woods and Scott Beck is Paramount Pictures directions to A QUIET PLACE.

Living in a world built on survival by being silent, Lee (John Krasinski) and wife Evelyn (Emily Blunt) along with sons Beau (Cade Woodward), Marcus (Noah Jupe) and daughter Regan (Millicent Simmons) are in a drugstore looking for medications. Young son Beau sees a toy he wants but Dad Lee explains that it makes noise. He does this by use of sign language as Regan is deaf.

The whole family communicates now using sign language because the creatures that hunt them have uber hearing and any sound will bring them within seconds. On the way home to their farm there is an incident that changes the family and makes survival even harder. Evelyn is pregnant and the family finds clever ways to prepare for the new arrival.

Lee takes Marcus out with him to find food and Regan isn't happy that she isn't asked to go. Feeling that her father doesn’t care about her, she takes off down the road. Evelyn is alone taking care of the house when the first sign that the baby is coming and a cry out brings the creatures. She has only moments to send a signal to the others that there is danger and it all sends each in another direction trying to redirect the creatures.

From the house to the field, they each use what they have learned to try and save one another from the creatures that can't see but most certainly can hear ... every ... sound.

Krasinski as Lee is a man who is continually trying to find ways to keep his family safe. When there is a moment to breathe, he is working on a way to help his daughter or showing Marcus how to survive in the creature infested world. Blunt as Evelyn is in total Mom-mode and certainly takes a quiet childbirth to a whole new level. This is not the world she ever intended for her children to live in but knows it's the one they now must survive in.

Simmonds as Regan deals with this world a little differently than the rest of the family. She doesn't hear the screeching and the loud presence of the creatures but knows what they are capable of. Jupe as Marcus is rightfully petrified of the creatures but his father teaches him what he needs to survive and a secret that might just have given him more courage than he imagined he had for such a young kid.

So, A QUIET PLACE is truly scary in the sense that there are only fractions of moments where you hear the actors actually speak, the rest is sign language and pure adrenaline with every bit of acting on the faces of the characters. I absolutely loved every second of watching this cast because of that very reason. 

I loved jumping, actually yelled and didn't realize it was me that yelled, held my breath and didn't realize I was doing it, and felt amazingly sad for this family. The storyline doesn't start out with any explanation as to what happened leaving that to the newspaper headlines that are about in Lee's workshop which means my mind was free to fill in the blanks. 

This is actually a yarn spun in such a way that I was intrigued when the film first sent out the trailers. A film done mostly in silence? Wow, I knew then it was a film I had to see for myself. The audience for the screening was totally into every moment of the film and I had an extra jump as the lady next to me grabbed my arm! The scariest part of the film is actually seeing the fears that are totally believable by everyone in the audience unfold on the screen.

Let me make it clear - I would not survive in a silent world purely because, as I learned during the teen years, trying to be quiet meant the pressure to make that happen would definitely produce noise (just ask my sister Ellen!). That being said I also cringed at ever little creak, every little muffled sound and held my breath with every footstep the family took. That's what makes an amazing movie going experience - when you unknowingly become physically invested.

The story didn't give me a moment’s peace and I couldn't work on my bag of popcorn because I didn't want to be jumped by any creatures! In the midst of all the silence and insane creepy creatures - the writers and director Krasinski manages a moment of beauty between Lee and Evelyn and it made my heart melt. Of course I had to snap out of that quickly and walking out of the theatre my first thought was that I wanted to see A QUIET PLACE again. 

John Krasinski took the story by Woods and Beck and directed right where it needs to be, straight into our fears. Well played sir, well played.

In the end - if they can hear you they can hunt you!

HOTEL ARTEMIS Has a Unique Clientele

Jeri Jacquin

Coming this Friday from writer/director Drew Pearce and Global Road Entertainment is the story of membership to the exclusive HOTEL ARTEMIS.

It is 2028 and the city of Los Angeles is about to be taken over by riots when the residents decide they’ve had enough. In the middle of the mayhem are two brothers who pick the wrong time to pull a heist.

Shot up and running from the cops, the end up at the Hotel Artemis, an exclusive hotel that caters as a secret and safe place for criminals. Running the floor is The Nurse (Jodie Foster), a woman who clearly has seen the rear-end of life but knows her stuff. She is assisted by the very large Everest (Dave Bautista) who handles anyone that gets out of line.

The Nurse immediately gives the brothers the names Waikiki (Sterling K. Brown) and Honolulu (Brian Henry) according to their suites. Waikiki managed to avoid harm with a kevlar vest but brother Honolulu isn’t so lucky. She immediately goes to work but it definitely is a hot mess.

There are other guests already on the floor with the ever complaining Acapulco (Charlie Day) and the lovely Nice (Sofia Boutella). All The Nurse asks is that the guests have no weapons on the floor, no cops and don’t kill the other guests.

While working on Honolulu, she gets a call from Crosby Franklin (Zachary Quinto), the arrogant offspring of the Hotel Artemis owner Niagara (Jeff Goldblum). He threatens that if anything happens to his father, The Nurse will pay – dearly.

If she didn’t have enough to worry about with a full house, she catches on her camera a young woman calling out her name. Helping her is going to cause problems but it seems The Nurse specializes in solving the unsolvable.

As the riot moves ever closer, the Hotel Artemis starts to break down as the guests get nervous about the outside getting in. Maybe they should worry more about how to get out before that happens!

Foster as The Nurse is absolutely brilliant! I love this character with her frailties, flaws, uncertainties and memories yet she can put a body back together in no time flat. Spending years on this special floor, Foster’s character is run down having seen almost everything – almost. I have always been a fan of Ms. Foster’s (CONTACT is a guilty pleasure) and this character is just stunning.

Brown as Waikiki is dealing with a brother who consistently screws things up, a run in with a former lover and getting the inside scoop on the inner workings of Hotel Artemis. All of that will come in handy when what his brother innocently took turns out to the be one thing that will get them killed. Brown does a remarkable job of being smooth under pressure and never once raises his voice although he certainly has plenty of reason too.

Boutella as Nice is simple a woman who has a job to do and no one or nothing is going to get in her way. Knowing her worth, it is a joy to see her take on the employer! Day as Acapulco is annoying, narcissistic and out for himself – yet he does it so damn well.

Bautista as Everest is a body guard as well as a ‘health care provider’ who shows intense loyalty to The Nurse and doesn’t suffer fools. Knowing what is the right thing and actually doing it doesn’t seem to be an issue for him, he just wants to follow the rules and get through the riot alive.

Goldblum as Niagara has some explaining to do but then again it’s Goldblum, his mere presence tends to be enough for me. Quinto as Crosby needs to be slapped several times but that’s the parent in me talking, and Slate as Morgan shows us that there is more to The Nurse than anyone has ever known.

Other cast include Kenneth Choi as Buke, Josh Tillman as P-22, Evan Jones as Trojan Nash, Nathan Davis Jr. as Rocco and Ramses Jiminez as Tariq.

HOTEL ARTEMIS is a place where bad guys go to find safety and be patched up if needs be. What it doesn’t know how to do is survive this batch of crazy people in the middle of a rioting city. Managing to keep it together long enough for the audience to learn the back story in the 93 minute film is perfect, anything longer would have ruined it. 

It twists and turns down the hotel hallways giving us quick stories and an equal amount of action to go along with it. I suppose what made me the happiest is that it wasn’t a prequel, sequel, retelling or remaking of another story. That in itself deserves high praises and I’m sending it their way.

Director Pearce gives us something different and although I followed along a little too easily, I had a good time. There is something to be said for quick and to the point and HOTEL ARTEMIS gives exactly that. 

In the end – no guns, no cops and no killing the other patients!

Frankenstein’s Story is Told Through MARY SHELLEY

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres from director Haifaa Al Mansour and IFC Films is the story of Frankenstein told from his lovely creator MARY SHELLEY.

Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin (Elle Fanning) is a young girl who misses the mother she never knew and deals with step-mother Mary Jane (Joanne Froggatt) she wishes she didn’t. Her father William (Stephen Dillane) is a renown philosopher who sees something wild in his daughter. Consistently putting her thoughts to paper, she is looking for a life that is not the norm.

Seeing all this, Mary’s father sends her to visit Isabel Baxter (Maisie Williams), family who understands her in a surprising way. When the Baxter’s hold a gathering, Mary sees Percy Shelley (Douglas Booth) and is moved to hear he is a poet. They begin spending time together discussing things she has not been able to with anyone else.

But their time is short lived when Mary is recalled home to sister Claire (Bel Powley) who misses her. The tension that was there before has returned and the only light is a gentleman caller who wishes to be mentored by Mr. Godwin. Mary is stunned when it is Percy who comes through the door.

Wanting to be together, Mary’s father is outraged and Claire only begs to go when she does. Packing up to start a new life, the two meet with Percy moving into a place of their own. Mary and Percy’s happiness is hanging by a thread as she tries to recover from tragedy as well as the cruel gossip.

Out for a night, they all meet Lord Byron (Tom Sturridge) who invites them to come to his country estate for a visit. Claire is more than thrilled as she tells Mary that she’s not the only one that can land a poet. There is constant drinking and discussion but Mary can not find her words. That is when Byron throws a challenge for them each to write a ghost story.

The only horror is when Claire is devastated by Byron and Mary doesn’t want to live the craziness of a poet’s life. Returning to London, she puts pen to paper and creates Frankenstein: Or the Modern Prometheus yet no one will publish her works. Even friend John Polidori (Ben Hardy) writes his ‘ghost story’ and it was stolen from him.

Mary wonders if anything is going to change when the two people she needs to stand by her most do just that. She made her own rules and wrote her own way to being Mary Shelley.

Fanning as Mary is delicate, determined, soft-spoken, fierce attitude and lyrical in her writings. It is easy to forget that this was life in 18th century London and Mary’s role as a woman was carved in unmovable stone. Fanning’s performance gives us all and more with her alabaster and frail appearance. Underneath that is a fire this actress gives to a woman who knows that she doesn’t fit in to the mold. Her thought process and creativity are bursting and only the distraction of Shelley slows her down. Taking her life experiences to further her quest is not only staggering but breath taking at the same time. 

Booth as Percy is everything a rogue poet would look like to me. He is dark in his writings and seductive when he focuses on something – singularly Mary. Believing he can have the bohemian life with her, it is his narcissism and entitlement that gets in the way of them both. Booth gives that performance from beginning to end with a hope of redemption for the man he is portraying.

Dillane as Godwin is a father who sees his daughter has not been happy most of her life. Dreaming of a mother she never knew, he can only encourage her to find the words to make her life have meaning. Froggatt as Mary Jane does a fantastic job in getting me not to like her which is so weird because she was one of my favorite Downton Abbey characters.

Powley as Claire is a young woman who wants the same thing as Mary and the only way to get it is to live in her shadow. Sturridge as Lord Byron plays a man who has no conscious at all and has no qualms in using anyone for anything he needs. What a strange place 18th century London was!

Williams has a small role as Isabel, the cousin who seems to understand the wild side of Mary and encourages it. She is swift and charming as only Williams can be.

Other cast include: Ben Hardy as John Polidori, Hugh O’Conor as Samuel Coleridge, Ciara Charteris as Harriet Shelley, Sarah Lamesch as Eliza and Jack Hickey as Thomas Hogg.

MARY SHELLEY is a deep and intense period drama about a woman who was clearly born in the wrong century. Her grasp of the written word came at an early age with her desire to get out everything hiding within her. Trying to live the best life by her terms, it seemed her terms were even to difficult for those around her to grasp.

Falling in love with Shelley could be considered the step off of a difficult life but who are we to judge that. How many of us have chosen to be with a person we know is wrong for us or will challenge our sanity – yet we still do it? That is exactly what happened to Mary to the day Percy died. 

I have read books about Mary Shelley’s life and to say it was a difficult one is an understatement. Deaths of family, children and constantly being questioned about the authorship of Frankenstein, I have long admired her tenacity to put all of it at bay and continue with her work while raising her son. 

The film gives only a powerful glimpse of her life as a young woman but it is so well and beautifully done. The cinematography and costuming lend itself to bringing me into the story quickly and keeping me until the very end. 

Mary Shelley wanted a life different than the women of her time and the difficulty in doing so is putting yourself in harms way with society. Like today, chatterboxes and gossipers can destroy a person with word and Mary couldn’t escape that. The truth is that it would take many Mary’s to get where we are today and that is enough reason to want to know more about this rare woman.

In the end – her greatest love inspired her darkest creation!

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