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THE MAN FROM TORONTO

Jeri Jacquin

Currently streaming on Netflix from director Patrick Hughes, Bron and Sony Pictures brings the craziness belonging to THE MAN FROM TORONTO. 

Freddie Jackson (Kevin Hart) is a go getter with attempting to sell the world on his exercise equipment on the internet. His ideas are not getting anywhere which worries Freddie who is trying to pamper his wife Lori (Jasmine Matthews) for her birthday by renting a cabin for the weekend.

Dropping her off at the spa, Freddie drives to the cabin to get it set up for their romantic time. When he gets there, Freddie is met by some very dangerous people wanting him to do something despicable! Being called ‘The Man from Toronto’, he is told by Agent Lawrence (Kate Drummond) who stopped the hit that they need his help.

Wanting him to continue to be ‘The Man from Toronto’, they agents tell Freddie everything he needs to know and offer him incentives. Agent Santoro (Jencarlos Canela) is sent to allow Lori a day of shopping to meet Freddie later in the evening. The problem is, someone else is watching what Freddie has been up to. 

The Man from Toronto (Woody Harrelson), the real one, is hot on Freddie’s trail. So close in fact that meeting up with other bad guys looks easy. Freddie is now heading to Puerto Rico and the agents have lost him! On the plane, the two men from Toronto come face to face and the Handler (Ellen Barkin) is not happy and brings in reinforcements with The Man from Miami (Pierson Fode).

The Man from Toronto, Randy, sees no other choice but to team up with Freddie and the results are stomach churning. All of this is about a weapon that needs a certain man’s voice and a thumbprint. The killer knows that he has to continue the ruse with Freddie because everyone has now seen a photo of him. 

But Freddie has to get back to Lori and Randy goes along only to meet Anne (Kaley Cuoco) who gets the uptight killer to loosen up a bit. Things start to go well until The Man from Miami shows up wreaking a lot of havoc and the agents reconnect and see Freddie with Randy. Agent Davis (Ronnie Rowe) tries to get to them. 

The Man from Miami has what he needs to meet with Colonel Marin (Alejandro De Hoyos) and the Handler shows up with the cash Randy wants. As all the bad guys gather together to hear the speech by the new president of Venezuela, the weapon everybody but Freddie wants is in bad hands. Worst of all, Lori has made it clear she does not know her husband anymore.

The new problem is that the Handler does not like what is happening and decides that the only thing left to do it call in all ‘The Man From…’ to send Randy and Freddie on the run!

Hart as Freddie is doing what he does best, crack jokes, be self-deprecating and makes it clear that his character is a jumpy as a cat on a hot tin roof. Hart has wracked up quite a few buddy films and now, opposite Harrelson, he can be sure that anyone else that wants to line up for their shot at another buddy film is going up against a pro. Even his action sequences are hilarious!

Harrelson as Randy ‘The Man from Toronto’ gets to play the straight guy who has a few sensitive issues. He does not min a good fight but put him on the dance floor and he gets a bit jittery and sensitive. He is the straight man and anchor to Freddie’s constant chaos. I enjoy his performance and I think it made me laugh a bit more than Freddie.

Barkin as the Handler is a woman on a mission. Her job is calling ‘The Man from…’ to do jobs that pay a lot. When Randy and Freddie screw up her plans, she is not about to forgive or forget. Nicely done!

Other cast includes Lela Loren as Daniela Marin, Rob Archer as Oscar, Patrick Garrow as Brennan, Martin Roach as Marty, Jason MacDonald as Coughlin, Kyle Gatehouse as Todd, and Alejandro Ampudia as Green Guy.

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

THE MAN FROM TORONTO is a buddy action comedy that does not waste any time getting the action started. Hart is go, go, go and even until the end, he is still going. He is the energizer bunny of action stars. As Freddie, he openly admits he is more afraid of wife Lori than anything Randy can bring to his life.

Harrelson is the anchor to the madness as he keeps his calm when Hart’s character loses his wits. What I loved about this character the most is that what we think we know about him is not what is true. That being said, watching these two actors together is a comedy that will definetly entertain and having a big screen television will make it even more entertaining!

In the end – hitman meets deadman!

GOOD LUCK TO YOU, LEO GRANDE

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to streaming exclusively on HULU from director Sophie Hyde and Searchlight Pictures is a stellar piece of storytelling with GOOD LUCK TO YOU, LEO GRANDE.

Nancy Stokes (Emma Thompson) is a retired schoolteacher and widow who is about to grade herself outside the classroom. In a hotel room she anxious awaits a knock at the door. On the other side is the very young and handsome Leo Grande (Daryl McCormack) who enters the hotel room with a smile.

As their conversation unfolds, it becomes clear that Leo is a sex worker and Nancy is his newest client. Sitting down to get comfortable, Nancy begins rattling off her sexual ‘to-do’ list of things she has always wanted to do. Her nervousness is skyrocketing as she tries to talk herself into things as well as talking herself out of them.

Leo is very patient and shares his wit and humor with her trying to get Nancy to just relax. The only thing that seems to work is to just let the words flow. She talks about herself, where she has been, married life, children and her life since. Making it clear this would be their only meeting, Nancy does not keep her word.

They meet again and their conversations become even more intense as Nancy has questions and Leo is good at working around the answers. Each meeting becomes more intense as the reality and fantasy lines begin to blur and a line is crossed.

Nancy discovers who she truly is, and Leo discovers forgiveness and maybe even understanding like he has never known before.

Thompson as Nancy may have just found a character that is more real and relatable than anything I have ever seen on film. As Nancy, the viewer is given the thoughts, impressions, insecurities, humor, truths and realities of what is under the clothing of this older woman. Her story made me laugh, tear up, laugh some more, nod in agreement and wonder if writer Katy Brand has been secretly living in my head all these years. Watching Thompson’s ‘Nancy’ unravel is a marvel and I plan to watch this film again.

McCormack as Leo is clear on what he does for a living and does not offer any apologies to anyone. What he does do from the beginning is gently challenge everything Nancy has known with humor and patience. McCormack gives his character an ease that, at first, made me a tad uncomfortable but the more Leo spoke, the more I went along for the, well, ride! McCormack is just pure delight from start to finish and I cannot imagine anyone else playing opposite Thompson for this story.

Searchlight Pictures is responsible for such films as SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, 12 YEARS A SLAVE, THE SHAPE OF WATER and THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING MISSOURI. They have an extensive film library as well as documentaries, scripted series, and limited series. For more information, please visit www.searchlightpictures.com.

Hulu is the leading premium streaming service offering live and on-demand television and movies. The platform gives viewers instant access to current shows, libraries of hit television series and film as well as Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winning originals such as The Handmaid’s Tale and The Act. For more of what Hulu has to offer please visit www.hulu.com.

GOOD LUCK TO YOU, LEO GRANDE will now be forever on my list of films that should be seen again and again. It should also be talked about, and the word spread to ‘women of a certain age’. Thompson grasps that part of the story and gives us every range of human emotion about issues that seem to still not be addressed.

Her body insecurities top the list and by the end of the film if you are not cheering for Nancy and Thompson then you do not understand the character at all. Watching Nancy unwrap her life in front of a total stranger, she brings out the life that has gone past and the need to experience it all. I am not only speaking of the sex, but of the connection, not necessarily that of Leo but Nancy connecting to herself.

In the midst of Nancy’s journey, Leo is also dealing with issues that he has managed to hide from his own family. McCormack exudes charm and wit, but he also let’s slip occasionally Leo’s own insecurities. Watching these two strangers bring out the craziness in each other is just a firework display of brilliance.

Being the only two characters for 99.9% of the film is an undertaking for any film but Thompson and McCormack make it look effortless. Shot in a hotel room that looks like every other hotel room allows the viewer to never be distracted by literally anything. Instead, the focus remains on Nancy, Leo and why they are in the hotel room.

Of course, from the get-go, the main reason they are meeting is clear, but this story is about so much more. Thank you Emma Thompson and Daryl McCormack for the love, laughter, tears and realties because we all have a story to tell.

Director Hyde has stepped into territory that does not get enough light and that is a woman of a certain age believing that there is nothing left when the wife and mother duties are done as well as our bodies hiding in shame instead of exploring love. The expectation that a woman’s worth diminishes with age gets a swift kick in the grade book once Nancy takes ahold of her life. The final scene is something to be cherished forever.

Just a beautiful, beautiful film.

In the end – it is about waking up every part of our being!

THE ADAM PROJECT Hits Netflix

Jeri Jacquin

Currently streaming on Netflix from director Shawn Levy is the tale of facing who you are and who you will be with THE ADAM PROJECT.

Adam Reed (Walker Scobell) is a young boy living with Mother Ellie (Jennifer Garner) as they both deal with the death of Dad and husband Louis Reed (Mark Ruffalo). Adam has a problem that not only does he deal with the sadness of mom and asthma, but he suffers from a mouthy problem which gets him in trouble.

After being sent home from a fight at school, Adam realizes his mother is going on a date and cannot help but make a few snide comments. Left at home doing what boys do when they are left alone, four-legged friend Rocket runs off and Adam follows. Into the woods behind the house, he discovers what looks like something blew up!

Following Rocket again, Adam goes into what was his father’s workshop and there is a stranger! Clearly wounded but Adam goes into protective mode but when the two start talking – they both realize they are looking into the faces of each other. Twelve-year-old Adam is staring up at his grown-up self but it is their sarcasm that is a match.

Grown up Adam broke through his time into young Adam’s and there are problems. A woman named Maya Sorian (Catherine Keener) wants something from pilot Adam and sends a killer named Christos (Alex Allari Jr.) to chase him across the galaxy. Pilot Adam is also stunned when he is saved by his wife Laura (Zoe Saldana) and young Adam is impressed.

The only way to stop all of this is for both Adams to go through another portal in space to go back and see their dad Louis who is stunned to see them both. There is no time to chat as they must get to Sorian building and retrieve Louis’ research and keep it out of Maya’s hands!
Two wise-cracking Adams and a dad in the middle on an adventure and reconnection of love is everything.

Reynolds as the pilot Adam gives his usual straight forward wise cracking performance and has a bit of fun with the science fiction aspect of the story. He continues to find roles that allow him to be hilarious and there certainly is not anything wrong with that. I prefer his humor with a biting edge and perfect delivery. Playing opposite young Scobell as the twelve-year-old Adam is nothing short of perfection bouncing off one another with timing that is stunning. Scobell gives as good as he gets while getting a chance to see a bit of his future and a look at what he has been ignoring in his present. Both well done.

Garner as Mom Ellie is dealing with what all young widows with a child deal with – the pain of trying to handle a household, working and making sure the bills are paid. Trying to stay attached to her young son, she sees the problems he has dealing with the death of his dad and not sure how to handle it. Garner takes this sweet role and gives her character the same understanding she does when playing a Mom.
Ruffalo as Dad Louis gets a second chance to see his sons’ (odd to say, isn’t it?) and say some things he wanted to, go on an adventure of a lifetime, and watching both his boys do what they do best because both are dang smart. Ruffalo is funny, sweet and ready to take on whatever he needs to.

Saldana as wife Laura gets the chance to keep her time travelling space boots on and protect her husband as much as she can through time. Keener as Maya is a woman who seems to enjoy chasing pilot Adam through the galaxy. He is like a thorn stuck and it is irritating her to no end. Yes, she wants what he took but Keener gives Maya the look of a woman who just wants to squash Adam like a bug for her own reasons.

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

THE ADAM PROJECT is a fun family film that will make kids laugh as well as adults. Having Reynolds and Scobell play the same person at different ages means there are jokes everyone can understand. The wise cracking duo are evenly matched in delivery and Scobell must have taken ‘Reynolds’ lessons to be able to upstage his co-star once or twice.

I see parallels to other “time-travel-meeting-younger-self” films and the bonus here is the fast action and sharp humor that I always enjoyed. Watching it with my granddaughter, she was laughing so much and yelling at the bad guys at the same time. That’s what watching film should be like, generational fun and being comfy at home with our favorite white cheddar popcorn and pj’s.

In the end – the past meets the future!

​MARRY ME

Jeri Jacquin

Coming from director Kat Coiro and Universal Pictures is what happens when you hold up a sign that says MARRY ME.

Kat Valdez (Jennifer Lopez) is a mega-superstar who has recorded the song Marry Me with her fiancé Bastian (Maluma). Now, they have decided to actually marry at a concert and gives twenty million fans a glimpse of glamor. But right before the ‘I do’s’, a breaking news story sets in motion a surprise that the world could not have seen coming.

Out in the audience is Math teacher Charlie Gilbert (Owen Wilson), teenage daughter Lou (Chloe Coleman) and friend Parker (Sarah Silverman). He has a sign that says, ‘Marry Me’ and once Kat sets her sights on it, she agrees in front of everyone. Coming to the stage, Charlie sees that Kat is devastated but goes along with the ceremony.

Now, Kat is a married woman and manager Collin (John Bradley) has to figure out how to handle the press aspect of the shock. Everyone else is thrilled for Charlie but he admits that he really does not know much about Kat or her music. On a whirlwind media frenzy, Charlie does what he can, but he is a dedicated schoolteacher and makes it clear nothing comes before that.

That is when Kat decides to learn about Charlie’s life and finds that she is truly interested in it. The two become close and there seems to be a true match, that is until Bastian comes back into her life and Charlie doubts he truly has a place in her life.

Music and love need to find a way!

Lopez as Kat gives us the rom-com she has been famous for over the years. Once again, a character looking for love in the midst of her half-eye closed pouty lip whispers of how sad she is. This is not a stretch for Lopez, she followed the formula to the letter.

Wilson as Charlie also gets to stay with the formula of being that average Joe who just happened to be at a concert and – well got married. What I will give Wilson is the characters dedication to the students before any of the glitz and glamor nonsense that came along with getting weirdly married. The equal love for daughter Lou and her needing special attention is also a passing grade for Wilson’s character.

Bradley as Collin is the manager that manages everything, including disasters brought on by this unusual wedding. Running around to make wrong things right, Kat marrying Charlie is something he cannot control. It is nice to see Bradley try different roles, and this is his second film release in two weeks.

Silverman as Parker was relatively annoying throughout the film, but she got the chance to throw out one-liners and be the protective friend to Charlie. Coleman as daughter Lou is thrilled that her father has married the pop superstar and comes out of her shell a bit as the days pass. This actress is very sweet and plays opposite Wilson like a pro.

Other cast include Utkarsh Ambudkar as Coach Manny, Brady Noon as George, Stephen Wallem as Jonathan Pitts, Katrina Cunningham as Tyra and Jimmy Fallon as himself.

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

MARRY ME is a bit like walking down memory lane of several rom-coms. The snapping of the expensive jewelry box a la PRETTY WOMAN starts off my eye rolling. The first stage performance gives an ode to LIKE A PRAYER nunnery mischief with an added feature of IF I COULD TURN BACK TIME privates-strapping outfit.

The character of Kat being married four times, I’m sure Lopez can easily relate to that herself. Her ‘Queen of the Night’ costuming is surrounded by a song that’s lyrics are repetitive, and again repetitive. I probably could have learned the song in the same take, but my brain cannot do it (i.e. ‘marry me, marry me’ and ‘ring, ring, ring, sing, sing, sing’)

There comes a point where I felt as if I was watching MAID IN MANHATTAN in reverse with an ending that was reminiscent of WHEN HARRY MET SALLY. So, basically, I felt like the writers just decided to pull all the rom-coms out of the value and steal pieces here and there.

All of this being said, it was not the most nauseating rom-com that I have seen. It is a formula film with two actors who have made their mark in that genre. It has its moments that bring a grin and a few one liners of wit. Would it make me run to the theatres? Not really, this is more of a rainy-day Saturday curled up channel flicking film.

But, with Valentine’s Day just around the corner, there are those looking for a bit of romance, a bit of music and a reason to be back in the theatre seat. Lopez and Owen are charming and that says a lot for the film.

In the end – just marry me!

Apple TV+ Stuns with THE TRAGEDY OF MACBETH

Jeri Jacquin

Currently streaming on Apple TV+ from writer/director Joel Coen based on William Shakespeare’s play Macbeth is the stunning THE TRAGEDY OF MACBETH.

The Thane of Cawdor has been vanquished for King Duncan (Brendan Gleeson) by Macbeth (Denzel Washington) and Banquo (Bertie Carvel). On the road back from battle, Macbeth encounters three witches (Kathryn Hunter) who tell him he shall be king! In gratitude, King Duncan gives the title of Thane of Cawdor to Macbeth who then writes Lady Macbeth (Frances McDormand) to tell her the news – and the witch prophecy. The king also gives his praises Prince Malcolm (Harry Melling).

Spending the night at the new Thane of Cawdor’s castle, Lady Macbeth speaks to her husband about regicide. After planning and carrying out the deed, Macbeth slays the king and covers it up in the morning. Out of fear, Prince Malcolm and Macduff (Corey Hawkins) escape the castle to England and Macbeth is now wearing the crown. Ross (Alex Hassell) is keeping is ear to the castle stone walls and knows there is something amiss.

Now, Macbeth is worried about another visit from the witches about Banquo and his young son Fleance (Lucas Barker) giving his mental health another shove into darkness. Murder most foul happens again and again including Macduff’s own family. Ross finds Malcolm and Macduff to tell them the news while Lady Macbeth begins to also lose her senses. 

It all comes to a final battle as Malcolm brings his English backed army to Macbeth’s castle and Macduff finds justice for his family. 

Washington as Macbeth is absolutely stunning in this role. His emotions, like his lines, roll off with such grace and ease. Even in the midst of insanity, he brings us in so we can be a little mad ourselves knowing that the heinousness of his acts to be king and stay king are crazy. Be cheery in the light, it is when he steps in the shadows does Washington’s Macbeth utter evil deeds. One of the most amazing performances I have seen this year.

McDormand as Lady Macbeth is equally as jaw dropping as the woman who wants her husband to be king, no matter what it takes. The problem with that is her mental state can not handle everything that is required to make it so. McDormand glides along in her costume like her feet never touch the floor yet every step she takes is for Macbeth.

Hawkins as Macduff has a reason for leaving but a more justified reason to come back to Macbeth’s castle. His character is strong in dedication to Prince Malcolm but even family overrides that. Hassell as Ross is that sneaky fellow lurking around castles making sure that every move he makes is done so to his own benefit. Well done and well played. 

Carvel as Banquo is dedicated to Macbeth but when insanity sets in, dedication only gets a loyal subject so far. Melling as Prince Malcolm has put away his Harry Potter days and has decided to become a future king. 

And extremely deserved shout out to Kathryn Hunter as the witche(s). Never in my life have I been scared and yet transfixed by a character like this. She is daunting, full of riddles and, when looking intensely at the television screen, held my gaze with jaw dropping wonder. Her motion and yet lack of emotion is pure genius. 

Other cast include Miles Anderson as Lennox, Robert Gilbert as Angus, James Udom as Seyton, Matt Helm as Donalbain, Moses Ingram as Lady Macduff, Richard Short as Siward, Sean Patrick Thomas as Monteith, Ethan Hutchinson as Macduff’s young son and Susan Berger as Lady in Waiting. 

Apple+ is a video on demand web television that debuted in 2019. Viewable through Apple’s TV app, CEO Tim Cook wanted original content calling it “a great opportunity for us from a creation point of view”. From THE MORNING SHOW to TRYING and THE BANKER and Jason Momoa in SEE, there is plenty of choices for everyone. Plenty of genres? That is exactly what they are bringing to viewers and to see more of what they have to offer please visit www.apple.com/tv/.

THE TRAGEDY OF MACBETH is brilliant on so many levels so let me just say first that the cinematography by Bruno Delbonnel and set design provided by Stefan Dechant is magic. Keeping it simple, with shades of light and dark that all play into the telling. The long foreboding shadows and high architecture where secrets are told, and plans are made is breathtaking.

The costuming by Mary Zophres is equally as simple with no fanfare of gold, heavy amour and ornate throne rooms or thrones for that matter. Taking away everything one would expect of a castle, the viewer is free to focus on the players and the end game. Here are leathers and the fabric of a by gone era that are as rough as those characters wearing them. 

Carter Burwell has worked with the Coen brothers before, so it seemed comfortable to have his bring in the film’s score. He gives a frightening life with the violin over the flapping of the crows that have their own meaning in the film. 

Joel Coen has taken on a wonderful task going solo and has brought a story that has been told many times but with something intensely original. From the moment the film begins, it puts our own minds into a state of ‘what is hell is this?’. As Hunter’s tries to warn us from the beginning, the tale is one of twists, turns and omens.

But oh, no matter the warning, every frame of this tale is majestic to behold!  

In the end – something wicked this way comes!


THE ACCIDENTAL WOLF Brings More Mystery to Season 2

Jeri Jacquin

Currently streaming on Topic with Season 1 in time to catch up before Season 2 from writer/director Arian Moayed is the mysterious tale of one phone call and the trail into a different world with THE ACCIDENTAL WOLF. 

Katie Bonner (Kelli O’Hara) is married to successful husband Bradley (Mike Doyle) with his influential father. She is used to that considering she has issues with her own mother (Judith Ivey). Raising a beautiful baby girl, Katie keeps her days as busy as she can. That is until one night she receives a telephone call that is about to change her life.

Almost immediately Katie can hear the sound of people running, bombs exploding and people screaming. The name she hears over and over is Tala, as the man on the phone does not understand that he has reached the wrong person. Katie tries to make them understand but learns that Tala is pregnant. 

Thinking she had lost them on the cell phone, Katie all of a sudden hears a distinctive American voice ask a question. She hangs up quickly only to have the call returned. Telling her husband not to answer the phone is not enough. Soon after there is banging on the door and now, she is in front of someone from the government asking her questions about what she could possibly know.

Katie contends over and over that she does not know anything and that the call was not for her. When those questioning her feel she is not a threat, Katie can not get the call out of her head. Making notes from what she remembers, her family is not happy that she will not let the issue go. 

So unhappy about it all that both sides of the family begin to try and quell Katie into submission. Now she must be mover clever than those around her – play the game to keep her child and play the game to get answers as to ‘who is Tala?’ and ‘where is she?’. Katie finds Ram (Laurie Metcalf) who leads her to Buja (Sahr Ngaujah) but with every step there are drones following her.

Constantly being confronted by her family, Katie is finding something within her that she did not know was there – a desire to break away from the constraints put on by Bradley and his father. Also, the determination to find the woman who has haunted her since that very first phone call!

O’Hara as Katie opens the season with an all-to-familiar look at motherhood. Trying to be everything for everyone, she is beginning to show the signs of strain. That phone call changed everything she thought about herself and those around her. She is living dangerously and at the same time driven to find someone she knows nothing about. O’Hara gives us a round of emotions in season one that are intense and frustrating, get ready for season two because Katie got her groove back.

Ngaujah as Buja is making sure that Katie knows that one more step further into finding Tala means she is stepping into a world that could get her killed. Katie continues to call and follow Buja until he tells her things that are even scarier. Ngaujah is strong but man there are moments where crazy eye comes into play. Giving his character what is necessary to protect his people, I can not wait to see where Ngaujah takes this role.

Metcalf as Ram is just out and out frightening, and I loved every moment of it. She is gritty, harsh, and gives this character a cloak and dagger feel. I have to say that Ram is a character that will not hesitate to bring death close if you pushed her. 

Doyle as husband Bradley is pretty much what you would expect for a successful, rich narcissistic child of a successful, rich narcissistic father. He wants things done his way and expects Katie to do it without question. Doyle makes sure we do not like him from the moment he is on screen giving character Bradly the look and feel of someone Katie needs to get far away from – but there is a price.

Ivey as Katie’s mother is opinionated and sometimes takes it all too far. She makes Katie’s life a tad miserable with the way she thinks things ought to be done. Siding with Bradley and not understanding Katie’s need to find Tala causes friction between mother and daughter. 

The cast includes Mike Doyle, Ben McKenzie, Amy Landecker, Raul Castillo, Erin Wilhelmi, Sahr Ngaujah, Denis O’Hare, Judith Ivey and Laurie Metcalf. 

Season One includes the episodes Who Is This?, You Deserve It, What Is It That You Want?, and 50/50. Season Two begins with The Temptress and Father Figure. 

Topic is the boundary-pushing streaming service for thrillers, mysteries, dramas and documentaries from around the world, serving viewers who crave entertainment beyond the mainstream. Whether it’s a Nordic-noir crime thriller (The Killing), a back-stabbing, an Italian political drama (The Miracle), or a mind-blowing supernatural mystery from Russia (Dead Mountain), Topic expands your view of the world. For more of what Topic has to offer please visit www.topic.com. 

THE ACCIDENTAL WOLF is an intense drama filled with intrigue, questions and more intrigue. Coming in at 25 minutes per episode, it is frustrating in a good way and makes binging totally amazing. O’Hara gives us a character we want to shout at, then we want her to keep going only to shout at the television again! 

The story is not clogged up with special effects or drawn out with distractions. Instead, the story keeps us moving forward and trying to put a puzzle together given only a tiny piece at a time. Of course those of us who have seen season one are speculating constantly about how everything could possibly be connect – and it is fun!

Season Two of THE ACCIDENTAL WOLF will be on Topic December 30th, giving everyone time to catch up with the rest of us as Season One is available also. 

In the end – who is Tala?



THE ETERNALS

Jeri Jacquin

Currently streaming on Disney+ from Marvel Studios and director Chloe Zhao is the ETERNALS.

So, here we go with the start of a monolith filled with CLASH OF THE TITANS, I mean Eternals, apparently in an early craft-version without Hal from the 2001 and 2010 films. They arrive on earth with their powers to help the helpless people inhabiting the planet. Robb Stark, I mean Ikaris (Richard Madden), is back to fight off what look like the little annoying cousins of the Krakken along with Anita from HUMANS, I mean Sersi (Gemma Chan). Maleficient, I mean Thena (Angelina Jolie), throws around her lightening staff taking at least three to four minutes to kill said annoying creepy cousin.

In present day, Jon Snow, I mean Dane (Kit Harington), is a professor and teaches along with Sersi (which if you think about it is a little creepy, I mean didn’t Rob Stark die because of Sersi and didn’t Jon Snow fight Sersi already for gawd sake?). When the creepy Krakken cousins reappear, Ikaris turns up and there is a brotherly Stark reunion. Now Sersi has to explain why the Eternals are on earth and Sprite (Lia McHugh) is looking for a good fight.

Are you with me so far? Good, because there are Babylon 575 BC flashbacks that are kind of unnecessary except it gives Ajak (Selma Hayek) a chance to say they Deviants are being kept at bay. Phastos (Brian Henry), Druig (Barry Keoghan), Makkari (Lauren Ridloff), Gilgamesh (Ma Dong-seok), Kingo (Kumail Nanjiani) and the rest hang out to tell the peasant population CGI stories reminiscent of STARGATE and STAR WARS which is coincidental since the Eternals are from the stars as well.  

Now, Ikaris and Sersi are supposedly all gooey for each other with the “I am yours” (was waiting for “and you are mine” to finish the GOT reference). Moving to the Gupta Empire, they run away for a colorful wedding with everyone watching. Back to present day as dark clouds loom, apparently even the gods get a divorce because Sersi is now with Dane, and they are looking for Ajak but someone else has gotten there first.

Sersi finally gets to talk to a stone tiki called Arishem (David Kaye) but we are not to privy to that conversation. Now back to a flash back and this time they are in Tenochitlan in 1521 AD (gawd my head is spinning, and I don’t know if it’s a temporary bout with insanity or ridicuousness) and it is the last place the Deviants are found. Except now Maleficient, sorry Thena is going on a rampage yet that would be expected right? You can not be a good girl all the time.

Druig decides he has had enough of humans being bad to one another and that pits their beliefs against one another – ahhhh immortal sibling rivalry. But, with the Deviants gone, there is no need for these outer space superheroes to stick together. So, Ajak tells them they are free to go!

Fast forward to present day Mumbai, Kingo is working the Bollywood circuit but Sersi, Ikaris and Sprite let him know he is needed. They also find Gilgamesh who is taking care of Thena who still seems to be a bit out of it. Still, they sit around the table talking about the Avengers, but Sersi runs off to have a conversation with Arishem about celestial seed farming. Apparently, now that the world is ‘full’, something called the Emergence wants to drive it until everything is empty again.

Arishem goes on to give us a lesson on gravity, heat and light – blah, blah, blah. Not even popcorn is going to save me. So apparently all life is going to die blah, blah, blah. Once again, Sersi/Anita finds out the yucky repetitive truth that Arishem is no better than the dude who created THE MATRIX. Time to call Will Smith and claim his I, ROBOT. 

Sersi gets to be Optimus Prime now and I am trying to stay focused on this. The rest of the group get a little pissy and Thena has an ‘I told you so’ look on her face. Ikaris takes the group to the Amazon to find Druig who is living the communal jungle lama life. Once they tell him what’s what, his dander is up, and he is not about to give warm hugs to any of them. 

Sucking the life out of the Eternals, the Deviant finally speaks and makes it clear he has a score to settle all while Thena gets to fall down weeping. Flashback time! Now in 1945 Hiroshima Phastos thinks humanity is not worth saving (speak for yourself since you started some of it dude!) and jump to present day he is now sitting around the table with Ikaris and Sersi saying he will not help. Of course, he is guilted into it by family (insert huge eye roll and sigh here).

Back in the desert of gawd knows where, they magically dig up the monolith-ship-thing where Makkari has been collecting and living. Then Ikaris is in South Dakota six days from I do not know whining with Ajak on her front porch in the middle of nowhere now blaming Thanos for everything (good gawd really?) or maybe global warming I am not sure.

As the ETERNALS split into two camps and have it out – I am over it.  

Madden as Ikaris has his hands full dealing with 7,000 years of dealing with humans as well as the rest of the eternals. He’s the big brother to the rest and is just as moody with laser eyes that do not seem to do much. Chan as Sersi has to deal with the news she is dealt about the Eternals but its even more so when she has to take over the lead with no experience in how to do that. 

Jolie as Thena is crazy moody and do not let her get back in the warrior phase or you could lose a body part. Not sure what her purpose is other than being a bit nutty but okay, I could have done without the muddled accent that I have heard her do TOMB RAIDER. Dong-seok as Gilgamesh is the only one that can keep Thena’s bouts at bay, apparently is a heck of a chef and is good in a fight.

McHugh as Sprite is just that, a tiny sprite of a thing who has been with Sersi since the Eternal split up going their separate ways. She’s smarter than anyone gives her credit for. Nanjiani as Kingo has gone from a ‘superhero’ to a narcissist who needs a camera and a valet more than air apparently.

Keoghan as Druig has a serious mind of his own and is not afraid to make it clear that 7,000 years and the new info has not changed anything. He has a sharp wit that’s for sure. Hayek as Ajak gets in a moment or two but she truth and does not share it – not a good leader in my book.

Director Zhao has gone from such stellar work like NOMADLAND to this. I hope it was at least fun making. 

Other cast include Hannah Dodd as Sandra, Adria Escudero as Diego, Sebastian Viveros as Jano, Bill Skarsgard as Kro, Haaz Sleiman as Ben, Esai Cross as Jack, Alan Scott as Patrick, Harish Patel as Karun, Patton Oswalt as Pip the Troll and Harry Styles as Eros.

Disney+ is the subscription home streaming entertainment with Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic and more. There are exclusive originals with new feature films, shows, short form content, documentaries, and actions series such as THE MANDALORIAN. For more information, please visit www.disneyplus.com.

Bonus Features include Audio Commentary, Immortalized, Walks of Life, Gag Reel, Deleted Scenes, Gravity, Nostalgia, Movies and Small Talk. 

ETERNALS is just a hot mess of characters that had me yelling at my television, and I hate yelling at my wonderful 70 inch colorful monstrosity. I am sure this is probably a precursor to more of the films and all I can do is scream and claw my face. I just can not anymore. Thumbs up to the actors because there are moments that are a little funny, but the rest is just blah, blah, blah.

My only relief is Kingo with his ridiculous narcissism and one liners and a few good shots from Gilgamesh. Good guys, bad guys, special powers, independent thinking, attempt at romance, regret, bad intentions, lies, truths, plans, narcissism, ‘poor me’ stories, realities and the fact that no good deed goes unpunished is all mashed up into another superhero film where the planet needs saving by someone or another. Personally, with all the destruction these superheroes do to humans and the planet, I’d rather save myself!

Staying through the end credits was an accident because I was in the middle of putting together a fairy set for my granddaughter which was much more entertaining. So, without spoiling it for anyone that dares sit through two hours and thirty-nine minutes, Harry Styles makes a colorful appearance that made me slap my forehead and cry out ‘wtf?!’ and schedule a future nail appointment.  

ETERNALS is now available on Disney+ and will be released on 4K, Blu-ray and DVD February 15.

In the end – this is their beginning story.


This is the Story of BEING THE RICARDOS

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres and then to Prime Video from writer/director Aaron Sorkin and Amazon Studios tells the story of BEING THE RICARDOS.

In 1952, Lucille Ball (Nicole Kidman) and Desi Arnaz (Javier Bardem) are televisions power couple of television and are very married. Going into a critical week, Lucy is dealing with stories of Desi’s infidelity, script problems and being called a communist all while preparing for the Friday night performance of I Love Lucy. Desi makes it clear to everyone that he is going to take care of it all.

On the set, the writers Madelyn Pugh (Alia Shawkat) and Bob Carroll Jr. (Jake Lacy) are arguing changes with Jess Oppenheimer (Tony Hale) tries to keep the peace at a table read. Not helping is the William Frawley (J.K. Simmons) who plays Fred and Vivian Vance (Nina Arianda) who plays Ethel being just as sarcastic with each other off stage as well as on.

Tensions rise when Lucy tries to make changes and hits a wall with Oppenheimer. Believing she is right; it is Frawley who tries to guide her into getting the changes she wants. Desi is still jumping through hoops proving that he has more control of the show than the network would like. 

As the “Ricardos” and the staff try and handle each disaster, they also tell the story of a young Lucille Ball who sees the young Cuban singer Desi Arnaz and how their affair began. As both of them try to find their way into Hollywood, their life really takes off when I Love Lucy hits television. 

All of this leads to Lucy trying to keep her family together, Desi dealing with the CBS network and Phillip Morris agency. The television family comes together to fight it all, but some things cannot be re-written into the script.  

Kidman as Lucille Ball is changed a bit with the help of prosthetics and makeup and gives us the best Ball we could have imagined. The actress invites us into Ball’s world behind the camera of a tough woman who knew what needed to be done but had to fight for every inch to move forward. Knowing that there were murmurs of Kidman playing the iconic Lucille Ball, those who spoke out (and you know who you are) can now just pipe down. Kidman gave it everything and everything pays off.

Bardem as Desi Arnaz gave us the Cuban bandleaders life prior to Hollywood and although they do not go into detail, what is shared is sad but at the same time gave Arnaz motivation to succeed. Bardem wraps himself in the role with singing and drum playing and makes it look effortless. He gives Desi’s view of the relationship with Lucille Ball as quick, passionate, loaded with transgressions, successful and protective – but sometimes it is not enough. Well done Bardem!

Simmons as Frawley is so cool, I cannot even stand it. He gives Frawley the quick wit, grumpy sarcasm yet keenly aware of what is going on and supports in surprising ways. I have always been a firm believer that the person who seems less interested in the room is taking in everything in the room. Simmons does all of this while wearing old man chest high well-creased pants. I so enjoyed his performance.

Arianda as Vance is like Lucille Ball, does not take any garbage and does not hold back her emotions. There comes a moment in the script where her looks are called into question and Arianda rolls up her sleeves and gives Vance a voice. I appreciated that so much knowing that even back in the 50’s, women like Vance who were struggling with who she wanted to be against who the public saw her as. 

Shawkat as Pugh is a woman script writer in a man’s world with the same sharp wit at the women around her, sometimes too sharp. Lacy as Bob is Pugh’s verbal sparring partner and script writer who stands back at times and lets the chips fall where they may. Hale as Oppenheimer is someone who not only created a show but stays with it through everything, even when those he protects the most sometimes tests his patience. 

Other cast includes John Ruben as elder Oppenheimer, Linda Lavin as elder Madelyn Pugh, Ronny Cox as elder Bob Carroll, Dana Lyn Baron as Miss Rosen, Daniel Sachoff as David Levy, Nelson Franklin as Joe Strickland, Jeff Holman as Roger Otter, Baise Buzan as Mary Pat, Christopher Denham as Donald Glass, Max Silvestri as David Hart, and Clark Gregg as Howards Wenke. 

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

BEING THE RICARDOS is funny, sad, interesting, intriguing, surprising and gave me several ‘wow’ moments. This is the 1950’s and the world may have seemed like a different time but interestingly enough, not so different at the same time in the ways of values and barriers. That was the very first thing I noticed but then, the story took me over (not to negate the above).

Kidman and Bardem are absolutely fantastic together and Lucy and Desi. I was not looking to see if Kidman could be Lucille Ball because all I saw was Lucille Ball and the same applies to Bardem. I watched these two characters weave in and out of a week of mayhem and chaos. Of course, although the events may be real, the only thing that did not happen was it all happened in a week. That’s Sorkin doing what Sorkin’s writing does. 

From pregnancy to infidelity to communism to friendship, BEING THE RICARDOS tackles each of these because they had an impact on the Arnaz family and marriage. The reverberations were felt throughout their friendships, the studio and the production of a series that changed American television.

The cinematography and costumes put a seal on the entire project giving is a look of authenticity and kept me totally involved. From Lucy’s big eyes and red lipstick to Desi’s perfect hair and stunning suits, the film is so darn inviting and I fell hook, line and red headed sinker.

In the end – television would never be the same!

NO MAN OF GOD

Jeri Jacquin

Currently on AMC+ from director Amber Sealey is a story based on the real transcripts conversations about Ted Bundy when it is discovered that he is NO MAN OF GOD.

Bill Hagmaier (Elijah Wood) is an FBI agent assigned to the Behavior Science Unit in 1985. His first case given by boss Roger Depue (Robert Patrick) with the unit is Ted Bundy (Luke Kirby) who is on death row. Everyone makes it clear that Bundy does not like the FBI and will not talk to him. After writing a letter, Bundy agrees to meet with Hagmaier. Their first meeting is a test run and the agent understands immediately that Bundy likes to play games. 

A year passes when Hagmaier meets with Bundy once again bringing him an ice breaker of gum to the Florida State Prison. They begin with the case of Green River and Bundy begins to share his insights about murder and murderers. During their conversation, Hagmaier gives Bundy a bit of personal information that makes their talk turn dark. He is warned by Depue that getting to close to Bundy is dangerous and that he could end up in a place he can not get out of. 

In 1987, Bundy starts to get edgy in their next conversations where he begins to share stories about the women he knew. Frustrated at how people have portrayed him, he shares his thoughts and Hagmaier listens. Asking very few questions, Hagmaier is careful not to upset or frustrate Bundy. It is Bundy who makes it clear that Hagmaier could have had the other life. 

It is now 1989 and the Governor of Florida lets it be known that Bundy is to die in seven days even though Bundy is trying for a stay of execution. Depue tells Hagmaier that Bundy is ready to confess everything but will only talk to him. Arriving at the prison, Hagmaier meets Carolyn Lieberman (Aleksa Palladino) who is a civil attorney.

Bundy has changed his tactics believing that telling everything might jeopardize and overturn of execution. He immediately informs Lieberman that Hagmaier is in charge, and she is not happy about it. Hagmaier makes it clear that it is time to come clean and give closure to the families that are waiting for new of their daughters. As investigators come to question Bundy, Hagmaier is now the one that is frustrated.

The clock is ticking and Hagmaier can not believe it when evangelical Dr. James Dobson (Christian Clemenson) comes to do a television interview with Bundy. Down to the wire, a sanity hearing is called but the outcome does not change. Now everything comes to a head, and it is time to hear from Bundy as Hagmaier thought he was prepared for what he is about to hear.

Wood as Hagmaier is a man who is patient and knows exactly how to wait out Bundy’s game of cat and mouse. This is an intense role for Wood but one that I welcome because he is strong, consistent and even kind if that makes sense. The scene where he helps Bundy write a letter is heartfelt toward a man who continues to show no remorse for what he has done. The Wood gives us the opposite when it comes time to go under the water with Bundy. An excellent performance from beginning to end.

Kirby as Bundy is charming, good looking, smart, savvy and knows how to manipulate anyone in front of him in such a way that they do not even realize it is being done. Even his anger seems easily forgiven by those who experience it. When the final scene with Wood comes around, Kirby dives into a dark place and makes sure anyone watching is mesmerized by the terror he so easily speaks about. From that moment on, Kirby’s performance is of a man who can not fathom what is about to happen and still plays games. Excellent!

Palladino as Carolyn is a woman who defends someone the rest of the world can not understand. She makes it clear to Hagmaier why she is doing it but has her own opinion about the man she is helping. 

AMC+ is an American subscription video on demand streaming service owned by AMC Networks that was launched in June 2020. The service streams THE WALKING DEAD franchise as well as MAD MEN, FEAR THE WALKING DEAD, A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES and currently THE NORTH WATERS. For more of what they have to offer please visit www.amcplus.com.

NO MAN OF GOD is a powerful film carried out by two actors that spend 90% of the film face to face, emotion to emotion, and frustration to frustration. Wood’s character is of a man not only trying to do his job but find closure for the families. He tries to reach Bundy to get him to understand not only the consequences of his actions but of the cruelty that each day brings. 

Kirby brings Bundy from a charming prisoner to a man who has come to realize that his options and his cleverness are not going to save him. Watching these two men come to terms with their lots, one man will eventually not have to worry about it anymore and another man who will not have a moments peace for the rest of his life. 

In the end - it is time to go under the water.


THE NORTH WATER is Chilling in the Tale

Jeri Jacquin

Currently streaming on AMC+ from writer/director Andrew Haigh from the novel by Ian McGuire is the five-part television series THE NORTH WATER. 

It is 1859 and Patrick Sumner (Jack O’Connell) is a surgeon who has joined the whaling vessel Volunteer. He watches the crew and particularly a man named Henry Drax (Colin Farrell). Drax is a ruthless man who has done heinous things so being part of the crew as the harpooner, he manages to avoid the law. 

Sumner has his own past that he is trying to get away from and does so with bottles of laudanum. As they go further north to look for whales, Captain Brownlee (Stephen Graham) has made a deal with the company for what is to happen with the ship. Sumner also tries to help the whalers and discovers the dangers of the waters. On board, it is discovered that a cabin boy has been treated horribly and Sumner is not about to let it go. 

Looking for the man responsible, Sumner’s eyes turn to Drax and with good reason and Brownlee meets the hostility of a crew member. The ship continues north even though the crew does not understand why. With the help of another ship, the Hastings, a plan is put into motion but, as with all evil plans, everything goes wrong. As the ship is in distress, the crew is abandoned on an ice shelf waiting for a good time to board the Hastings. 

Cavendish (Sam Spruell) has taken charge but the next morning the Hastings is no where to be found. What is left of the crew boards the rowboats and try to find a pace to be safe. On a rock surrounded by ice mountains, the crew try to survive. When a pair of Inuit arrive, there is meat for everyone but Drax and Cavendish as always, want more. If things are not already bad, they are about to get worse.

As the others trek across the ice, Sumner follows a bear in hopes of having food. Another storm hits when he is discovered by a priest (Peter Mullan) who takes him in. The Inuit come to hunt with Sumner, and he begins to have a legendary name for himself. But Sumner has other plans and wants to get home. 

Once home, he discovers the truth about the journey and decides to take care of it all once and for all.

McConnell as Sumner begins the series as a young man dealing with the injustices of war, greed and those who held his life in his hands. Taking the vessel surgeon job on the Volunteer was the only thing he had left in his life. It is on the journey that Sumner realizes that treachery can be found anywhere in the world, not just on the battlefield. McConnell is absolutely stunning in this role, and I loved every step he took from start to finish. The growth of the character came to be in good hands with this actor. 

Farrell as Drax is out and out vicious, diabolical, deliberate and menacing. Keeping his character so hidden like a ragged harpooner added such depth to what this character was consistently doing to those around him. That being said, Farrell has the amazing ability to play an amazing, good person but when he goes bad, he truly goes full force bad. Drax is a full-on bad man who does not see anything wrong with what he does. 

Graham as Brownlee is a man who is trying to find his own redemption in the whaling world and the only way to do that means committing a different kind of crime. Spruell as Cavandish, who starts out as friends with Drax, comes to see that there is no future in befriending the devil.

Shout out to Tom Courtenay as Baxter, the man responsible for setting into motion the events that put lives in danger, caused death and the eventual confrontation with Patrick Sumner. I have always been an avid watcher of Courtenay’s work and he continues to shine. 

Other cast include Kieran Urquhart as Jones, Philip Hill-Pearson as McKendrick, Nive Nielsen as Anna, Jonathan Aris as Corbyn, Lee Knight as Stevens, Gary Lamont as Webster, Eliza Butterworth as Hester, Mark Rowley as Bain, Roland Moller as Otto and Tom Courtenay as Baxter. 

AMC+ is an American subscription video on demand streaming service owned by AMC Networks that was launched in June 2020. The service streams THE WALKING DEAD franchise as well as MAD MEN, FEAR THE WALKING DEAD, A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES and currently THE NORTH WATERS. For more of what they have to offer please visit www.amcplus.com.

The five-part episodes include Behold the Man, We Men Are Wretched Things, Homo Homini Lupus, The Devils of the Earth and To Live is to Suffer. 

THE NORTH WATER is a series you must binge watch. I could not stop and do not regret a moment of it. This is a series about what men do to one another, the reasons they do it (whether good or bad is indifferent to their reasons), the horror of what memories can push someone to and when you put it all in a mixing bowl, the results are disastrous.

The cast is amazing led by O’Connell as Farrell lies low in the background but never letting you forget he is there. The entire cast put their stories out to lead the story in different directions but never straying from the fact that the boat they are on is leading them to death. Using the barren lands of the Artic, there is nothing distracting the viewer from investing in every moment of Patrick Sumner’s experience.

In the end – the hunt will change!

He believes in the ENCOUNTER

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres and then to Prime Video from writer/director Michael Pearce, Joe Barton and Amazon Original Studios is the story of the ENCOUNTER.

Malik Khan (Riz Ahmed) is a veteran of the Marine Corps, and he has returned to take sons Jay (Lucian-River Chauhan) and Bobby (Aditya Geddada) on a trip. The boys soon realize their father is running from something, believing that there is an alien bug that has come to Earth. The only way to know if a person is infected is by their eyes and the only protection is bug spray.

Where Malik is really taking his two boys is a military base in Arizona where he convinces them they will be safe until a cure is found. On the road he begins to train them to survive. Keeping the boys out of site, eldest boy Jay discovers that he and his brother have been, in fact, kidnapped from their mother Piya (Janina Gavankar) and law enforcement are looking for them.

Jay also realizes that something is wrong with his father when he makes a call and talks to Hattie (Octavia Spencer) and more of the truth comes out. As the stressors become more obvious and the world begins to catch up with them, Malik must decide how he is going to handle the situation and Jay decides who his father really is.

Ahmed as Khan is a man who knows that the aliens are on Earth and causing destruction wherever they go no matter the species. Taking his sons to a safer place is his only goal and nothing is going to stop him – or no one. Ahmed gives us the performance of a man split between the war world he served and protecting his family. 

Chauhan as Jay is a strong young man who believes in his father and trusts that what he is doing is right. Knowing that the trip starts off the ways he always thought it would be like, it is what comes after that is so much for a young man. Chauhan portrays his character as a young man who can not let his father down and stands firm till the end.

Geddada as Bobby is a boy who does what all boys do, be rambunctious, inquisitive, and loud. The road trip with him is not easy on Malik which puts the responsibility squarely on the shoulders of Jay, as if he does not have enough to contend with. 

Spencer as Hattie wants something better for Malik and wants him to bring the boys home before things get out of hand. Spencer gives us a caring woman who wants to do her job naturally but sees Malik as more than just another man in trouble with the law.

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

ENCOUNTER has been nominated in four categories by the British Independent Film Awards for Best Actor – Riz Ahmed, Best Supporting Actor – Lucian River Chauhan, Best Music – Jed Kurzel and Best Sound – Andrew Stirk, Paul Davies, Morgan Muse, Bernard O’Reilly and Julian Howarth. 

The film gives us a look at Malik’s thought process regarding the aliens, how it is spread and the only protection for human beings. He is dedicated to saving his sons and making sure no one tries to stop him. There is such a dynamic here between father and sons as the eldest has held on to a love for his father that is based on wanting things to be as he believes but the youngest has very little to go on other than Malik is his dad.

They begin to learn about each other but even that is based on a mixture of wanting to protect his sons from the past and the present and two young men who see their father as a hero. Ahmed goes in many directions with his role and each of them are strong – until this character can no longer tell lie from truth.

ENCOUNTER is a mixture of science fiction and the realities of human beings who have seen and been a part of something so traumatic that it changes their life’s perspective. Although there is a mixture of premises here that I have seen before, it does not change ENCOUNTER being an emotionally charged film.

In the end – it is in what we believe!


The Story of FINCH

Jeri Jacquin

Currently streaming on Apple TV+ and director Miguel Sapochnik is the story of a world surviving the destruction and a man named FINCH.

Ten years in and Finch Weinberg (Tom Hanks), and dog Goodyear, are living in a world that has been destroyed by a solar flare. Temperatures have turned the Earth into a hot box making it extremely hazardous for human beings. He cannot even go outside without a suit and a warning system that lets him know when radiation becomes too much for him to be outside.

Out looking for food with robot Dewey, he is also looking for parts for another project he has set in motion. Creating a robot, Finch also takes books scanning them into a program for his robot with an emphasis on training and taking care of a dog.

Once his robot comes to life, Finch begins to teach him what he thinks will help when his creation discovers that a dangerous storm is approaching. It also tells Finch that the storm will last forty days. He gathers up everything in a Winnebago, along with Goodyear, Dewey and they head for a place on a post card - San Francisco.

Along the way, Finch tries to teach the newly named robot Jeff (Caleb Landry Jones) about how to survive in a world where there is very little trust. Trying to explain things to Jeff can be taxing at times. Jeff tries to take initiative and it gets them into situations that are difficult and with heavy consequence3s.

But the journey is everything!

Hanks as Finch is, well, just a national treasure and cannot do a wrong roll if he tried. The film does have a bit of a WALLY and THE MARTIAN (except Finch is still on Earth) and I personally love both of those films so there's that! Hanks gives us compassion, frustration, love and teaching moments as he always seems to do. He is a man on a mission, but it is one of love that comes through.

Jones as the voice of Jeff is so sweet and innocent that my heart just melted. Even when he does his happy dance of "initiative" I cheered with him. The lessons Jeff has to learn are harsh at times but in order to survive it is understandable that Finch pushes so hard. He wants something special for Jeff and it has to happen under such intense circumstances. Jones does a wonderful job lending his voice.

Shout out to Goodyear, good puppy and good friend who has to learn the same as Finch and Jeff - that trust can be hard to come by but give it time.

Other cast include: Oscar Avila as the Truck Driver, Lora Martinez-Cunningham as Mother, Maria Wagernman as the Daughter.

Apple TV+ is a streaming service featuring Apple Originals, award-winning series, compelling dramas, groundbreaking documentaries, kids’ entertainment, comedies, and more with new Apple Originals added every month. To see more of what they have to offer please visit www.appletvplus.com.

FINCH is a tender and harsh film all rolled into the performances of Hanks and Jones. It is a world of survival and the day-to-day danger of food, water and a safe place to be. Hanks' performance as Finch is just so beautiful to watch, his tenderness with Dewey and Jeff are there from beginning to end (even if there are moments Jeff pushes his nerves).

Filmed in the harshest environments imaginable, director Sapochnik gives us a heavy dose of what our world could look like under those circumstances. Having Hanks and Jones on the creative journey with him allows us to embrace the story, the set and the characters as they take us on their adventure.

In the end – their friendship was more real than they could have imagined!

THE STARLING Flies onto Netflix

Jeri Jacquin

Currently streaming on Netflix from director Theodore Melfi comes a story of loss, grief and dealing with THE STARLING.

Lilly (Melissa McCarthy) and husband Jack (Chris O’Dowd) are dealing with a loss in their family. Jack is so distraught that he is in a facility to receive therapy and medication. Lilly deals with her anxiety by working at the local supermarket being watched over by boss Travis (Timothy Olyphant).

It is suggested to Lilly that she seek therapy of her own with Dr. Larry Fine (Kevin Kline) once therapist turned small town veterinarian. Their connection is cock-eyed at best but going home she realize that her home is surrounded by painful memories. Making a change Lilly decides to put a garden in her front yard.

Digging and planting, she is side swiped by a starling who is not happy about her presence. Lilly is not about to let a bird stop her and the battle between human and bird is on! What Lilly does not realize is that the universe works in mysterious ways. Seeing Dr. Fine and dealing with a starling along with a husband Jack and his issues, she becomes more and more aware of what she wants for her life. 

This is where grief and happiness learn to co-exist!

McCarthy as Lilly is her usual hysterical self but, in this role, there is also an element of grief that, although may cause a few chuckles, is completely understandable. What Lilly learns in this process is that everyone grieves differently and once that is accepted, healing can begin. McCarthy is sweet, brave, understanding but bubbling underneath the surface is her own anger and when it comes to the surface – stand back!

O’Dowd as husband Jack is so swallowed up by grief that he does not see that his wife is struggling as well. He finds reasons to stay as it is which means he does not have to accept the challenge of continuing on with life which is the goal. The telephone scene between O’Dowd and McCarthy is so tender and yet strong because it is the turning point for them both and I loved it.

Kline as Dr. Fine is quirky and yet under that is a compassion he is sees for Lilly and Jack. Its not that Lilly does not take pot shots at him because boy does she, yet Kline’s character sees the potential for them both. It is so good to see Kline in a film again doing what he does best, being that voice and figure of reason when everyone else has gone a little mad. 

Shout out to Olyphant as the supermarket manager who always has something interesting to say at the wrong times. Also, to Skyler Gisondo as Dickie, a young man who befriends Lilly and is curious about the starling. Finally, to Loretta Devine who cracked me up as Velma. 

Other cast include Daveed Diggs as Ben, aura Harrier as Sherri, Rosalind Chao as Fawn, Kimberly Quinn as Regina, Jesse Garcia as Hector, Edi Patterson as Margie, Emily Tremaine as Alice and Ravi Kapoor as Dr. Manmohan. 

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

THE STARLING is a charming, heart-felt film that does not forget to make us laugh, even about things that are uncomfortable in this life. McCarthy handles herself in a way that reminds me – well, of me! That is her uncanny quality, to take on serious roles that are relatable. If you have not watched her in the series Nine Perfect Strangers playing Francis Welty, then you are really missing something wonderful. 

O’Dowd gives us the other side of the coin as a man who climbs inside his emotions and lives there in grief. He refuses to see things through the eyes of his wife and that’s how deep his sadness goes. It is a dark place to be and O’Dowd does not hold back giving us another grief perspective.

The cast is wonderful together and I absolutely adored the scenes between McCarthy and Kline. Their repartee had a bit of a snippy bite on McCarthy’s side, but Kline’s character held his ground. Kline gives his character the understanding that grief can bring out the worst in human nature, but compassion is there waiting when they are ready. 

The interaction between Lilly/McCarthy and the starling is creative, clever and hilarious. This is another battle to be fought but there comes a moment when both human and bird realize that a compromise of emotion needs to be reached, yet a starling will always be a starling. 

THE STARLING is a film to enjoy for all reasons.

In the end – hope starts small!

​They Never Expected to Find THE DEEP HOUSE

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to EPIX and on Digital from Paramount Home Entertainment and directors Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo is a story of what they find in THE DEEP HOUSE. 

Ben (James Jagger) and Tina (Camille Rowe) are social media influencers who share their adventures with viewers on the internet. Going through France, they are looking for the story of an underwater house only to discover what where they thought it should be is now an recreation area.

Trying to figure out what to do next, Ben meets a local who knows what they are looking for and agrees to take them. Driving further and further away, the last few miles they go together on foot carrying their gear. Ben and Tina are so surprised to see a vast lake before them as the local tells them to go straight down and they will find a house totally intact.

Excited, they put on their gear and prepare their underwater drone and dive right in. Making sure everything works, they head down deep into the water talking about how their viewers are going to be thrilled about their adventure.

Finding the house, nothing seemed to be worn down by water damage and Tina points it out to Ben. Going from room to room they discover older recording equipment, dolls and a deep secret that is going to keep them investigating to find the answers.

Jagger as Ben is clearly only thinking about the ratings of his social media viewers. He wanted to find the underwater house and be the first to investigate it. Disappointed at first, he is reinvigorated when the local takes them to another location. Pushing the dive further and further, Tina wants to go but Jagger believes that the mystery will thrill viewers.

Rowe as Tina has been preparing for the dive in her own way. Enjoying the road trip, she does not seem to mind it when they do not initially find the underwater house. Happy to be lying on the beach and relaxing, she agrees to go with Ben to the next location. I sided with Rowe’s character from the get go – how very cool that a house is under the water but send in the drone and stay outside of it. Every time Row’s character had an objection, I yelled, “Listen to Tina!”

Other cast include Eric Savin as Pierre, Alexis Servaes as Mister Montegnac, Anne Claessens as Madam Montegnac and Caroline Massey as Sarah Montegnac. 

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

THE DEEP HOUSE is an interesting look at a film that is 95% under water. That adds a crazy element of creepiness because it is dark and murky. Every corner they turn there is something floating by that adds to the mystery or something in the shadows that look far away. The depth perception is as muddled as the water.

As the story unfolds and comes to light, the Ben and Tina are still under the water with the oxygen tank clock ticking as the house begins to turn on them (ergo why I was screaming, “that’s what the drone was for!”). It is now the house against the humans and what Ben and Tina discover is that the house has a reason for wanting them.

In the end – even death may die!


HBO Takes a Look at FOUR HOURS AT THE CAPITOL

Jeri Jacquin

Coming from director Jamie Roberts and HBO is a look at one day that has changed the way we look at our politicians and political system with the documentary FOUR HOURS AT THE CAPITOL.

This documentary starts off with Officer Mike Fanone from the D.C. Metro Police Department with twenty years of duty. Explaining how his day would start it would be even more difficult to experience how his day would end.

At the White House, the then 45th President was giving a hell-fire speech to his supporters but down at the Capitol, proud boy Eddie Block was at the Washington Monument because he could not get to the speech. He sees people moving toward the Capitol, so he follows the group and records what he sees. 

Many in the Capitol know there are people gathering outside including Rep. Buddy Carter and Rep. Jim McGovern but neither could have seen where it was going. Liah Han, assistant to the office of Speaker Nancy Pelosi also was becoming aware of the gathering.

Tayler Hansen, a reporter for The Gateway Pundit was in the crowd at the White House speech and is witnessing the reaction of the crowd to what they were hearing. He followed the proud boys even before the violent outbreak. Ashley Gilbertson of The New York Times recalls the crowd as showing “blind devotion”. 

Bobby Pickles, also a proud boy explained, “the president says, ‘go to the capitol’ so we went to the capitol.” Soon after began the pushing past barriers with crowds following and it is when “all hell broke loose”. 

Officer Winston Pingeon from the U.S. Capitol police reports that the incident actually began 19 minutes before the White House speech ended. Already the police are overwhelmed as the crowd grows even larger, chanting gets louder and tempers flare like a flash fire. Trying to enter the Capitol building, the officers are overtaken.

Inside the chamber, Rep. Eric Swalwell and Rep. Ruben Gallego are there to certify the electoral votes of the election and have no idea what is happening outside. Violence erupts as pepper balls are shot into the crowd and pushing past the police now turns to violence against them. Videographer Brendan Gutenschwager feared what was going and for very good reason.

Couy Griffin representing cowboys for the then standing president, saw the outburst along with activist filmmaker Nick Alvear, and car salesman Domic Box all have their opinions about stolen votes and frustrations. As the crowds escalated, Commander Ramey Kyle of D.C. Metro was making his way to the Capitol saying, “we knew we were in for a fight”.

Inspector Robert Glover, also of D.C. Metro talks about officers beginning to fall and becoming injured by the crowds. Civilians were now attacking and beating police officer to get further into the building. Rep. Jim McGovern began getting txt from family about what was happening. The police are now outnumbered and the break in begins as fire alarms go off and Capitol police sweep in to take people away.

Rep. Jason Crow speaks on how everything quickly became intense, and Rep. Rosa DeLauro was told to continue on with government business. It also became quickly clear that those still in the building knew it was time to protect themselves any way they could as the protestors were becoming insurrectionists. 

Officer Goodman tires to keep the crowd away from the Senate Chambers as Officer Byron Evans hears on the radio of the escalation and Officer Keith Robishaw helps to hold the line. Both Majority Whip Dick Durbin and Majority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer both tell of their experience and how quickly it happened.

The crowds inside grow larger and they are looking for the Vice-President and the Speaker of the House. Finding the Senate Chamber, the intruders ransacked papers and sat in seats while outside it had become complete bedlam as more officers like Daniel Hodge are assaulted and to survive they had to retreat.

The House of Representatives and those inside can now hear the insurrectionists and had to run. Trying to escape to the chant of “stop the steal” reverberating on the floor. There were people in the gallery hiding and making calls to loved ones. Finally, Rep. Adam Kinzinger is led with others to a protective location and is angry that the then president said – nothing. 

Officer Fanone arrives at the Capitol and, along with partner Jimmy Albright get to the Capitol tunnel and see that the insurrectionists were attempting to push their way in as the police hold the line. Other officers begin to show up as well and they managed to push the crowd completely back out the tunnel. 

As control is resumed, so is the business of the government and the continuation of certifying the election. In the end, 140 officers are injured with one officer dead and four protesters die. 

Arrests begin to happen and the reality of it is that the man who pushed the crowds forward promising to be there with them to the Capitol is the same man who stayed behind.

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FOUR HOURS AT THE CAPITOL is a look at the timeline of the attack on the Capitol building on January 6, 2020. I know where I was, because it was hours before I could get up from my seat. Sitting at home with family watching the news about the certification, it started as a low murmur and almost in a blink it became violent, and my jaw dropped. Calling out to my family who were in the next room to join me because there was no way I was seeing what I thought I was seeing.

They looked at the television set and I saw the look on their faces so it became clear that we were witnessing something frightening which would be followed by horror. It became a day that is still talked about 21 months later.

What director Roberts was able to do was gather those who lived and, in some cases, survived the day. Even more poignant are the stories that we did not know about that reignited the horror for my family who thought we had seen it all. It is in these stories and the faces of those telling it that will break hearts.

That day also bring the realization that since September 11th has our country been united in a cause like we all were that day. Now, there is arguing, fighting, accusing, lying, deceiving just to name a few of the divisive things that are happening in the country. The idea of fair play and people who run for office congratulate the winner and look to the next challenge has been damaged, perhaps beyond repair. 

Watching FOUR HOURS AT THE CAPITOL, all I could think was that those protecting the Capitol and its occupants inside must have felt like the day was never going to end. The fear and anxiety was palpable then and it seemed to still be with those telling their story. Each frame of the story lets us know what happened and we have certainly learned why it happened even before January 6, 2020.

The importance of this documentary is to never, ever let this happen again and to do that we have to understand how it all got to this point. Not that many of need a grand outline of that but it is important in the telling about this day.

In the end – the ramifications are still being felt today!


He Can Only Find Her With REMINISCENCE

Jeri Jacquin

Currently in theatres and on HBO/Max from writer/director Lisa Joy and Warner Bros. Pictures is the story of our world through REMINISCENCE.

Nick Bannister (Hugh Jackman) is living in a world now surrounded by water, rebellion and the have nots. During the day it seems quiet, and the nighttime is when everything comes alive. His business is investigating but also allowing people to revisit the past using a hologram program and the help of partner Watts (Thandie Newton).

At closing time, Nick is about to be thunderstruck when the beautiful Mae (Rebecca Ferguson) walks in with a request. She can not seem to find her keys and while in the program, Nick sees into her life. Starting a relationship that is filled with everything he never thought possible, devastation follows when Mae disappears. 

Devastated, he uses his own program to try and understand if there are clues to where she has gone. Watts, trying to snap him out of it, reminds him that they need to get to the local police station to help a case. In the tank is Cyrus Booth (Cliff Curtis), during questioning Nick sees Mae.

Now he must come to terms with the mystery of who Mae truly is, those that have been part of her life, the connection with the Sylvan family and following the trail of murder.

Jackman as Nick is a love-struck detective that uses the mind technology to trace where Mae would have gone. Instead, he finds the life of bad guys and bad choices realizing that the only truth lies in the end. Jackman does his usual stellar job giving us a hardy performance with intensity and a broken heart.

Ferguson as Mae is a femme fatale songstress who sends Nick on a chase of love and pain. Is she really who she seems to be? That is the question and Ferguson is not giving up any answers to the very end.

Newton as Watts has worked with Nick for years and sees the path of destruction he is going on. They butt heads over the investigation and the choices Nick is making, and Newton makes sure her character is strong and no-nonsense.

Curtis as Booth looks as dastardly as they come, and he knows more than he ever plans to share. Locked inside his mind are a good portion of what has been happening all along and he is not going to give it up easily. Curtis has the remarkable ability to play both a good guy and a bad guy in equal measure because he does it so dang well. 

Other cast include Natalie Martinez as Avery Castillo, Marina de Tavira as Swati Sylvan, Daniel Wu as Saint Joe, Mojean Aria as Sebastian Sylvan, Giovannie Cruz as Cindy, Brett Cullen as Walter Sylvan, Angela Saratyan as Elsa Carine, Javier Molina as Hank, Sam Medina as Falks, Norio Nishimura as Harris, Nico Parker as Zoe and Roxton Garcia as Freddie. 

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Although enjoying the film, I could not help but think that the story is a mixture of other stories and genres (WATERWORLD, INCEPTION, ALTERED STATES, a tad MEMENTO and all black and white P.I. films I have ever watched etc.). The backstory of the new ‘water world’ seems to be a story all its own and gave me more questions than answers. 

Jackman, Newton and Ferguson carry their part of the film very well. I enjoyed their performances as Jackman takes us on the noir mystery thriller set in a future world. Director Joy was co-creator and executive producer of the HBO series Westworld. Also, she might have gotten a few pointers from brother-in-law Christopher Nolan but for her first project, it is all about the mystery indeed. 

So enjoy in a theatre or enjoy at home – just enjoy the mystery and discover REMINISCENCE.

In the end – don’t look back!


Netflix Brings the Original Story of SWEET TOOTH

Jeri Jacquin

Currently streaming on Netflix from writer/director Jim Mickle is the story of a world that is wracked with a virus that brought about SWEET TOOTH.

The world is experiencing a deadly virus called H5G9 causing the Great Crumble and children being born are something to behold. Called hybrid-children, they are half human and half animal. One father knows it is time to get away as human beings become unpredictable to raise Gus (Christian Convery) who is a hybrid child being half boy and half deer. Gus and Pubba (Will Forte), which he calls his father, raise their own vegetables and survive wonderfully in the woods.

Ten years later, the problem is that Gus is starting to be curious about the outside world. Pubba reminds him all the time that it outside world is dangerous, but Gus is longing for his mother. As Gus grows so does his curiosity about the fence that has been protecting them and his world is about to change. In an attempt to be caught by poachers, Tommy Jeppard (Nonso Anozie) saves him and Gus calls him "Big Man" and lays out his plans to go to Colorado to find his mother.

In the world, Dr. Aditya Singh (Adeel Akhtar), not only learns the signs of the Sick but deals with his wife Rani Singh (Aliza Vellani) having gone through it and now he is trying to save her. Trying to hide it from everyone, they gone on with their lives the best way they can. As Gus and Big Man travel together, they meet Bear (Stefania LaVie Owen) and through a series of events begins to travel with them.

Aimee Eden (Dania Ramirez) makes a home for herself in the local zoo and raises daughter Wendy (Naledi Murray) who is also a hybrid-child. Trying to create a safe space for hybrids is making it easier for General Abbot (Neil Sandilands) to find any hybrid-children. As he looks for anyone who knows about a potential cure for the Sick, he takes Dr. Singh and his wife and his wife to a place where he can work.

They are all intertwined in a world that is unsettling and dangerous.

Convery as Gus is absolutely stunning, charming and a delight to watch. It is a challenge for any actor to play something different but in Convery's case it is different in so many ways. Playing a deer (who loves sweets hence the name Sweet Tooth), he gives Gus all the characteristics of a deer and not just the look about him. He is curious, has a look when he hears or smells something, and these are all to the characters advantage. I love the fire of Gus and Convery is responsible for that. Well done young man.

Anozie as Big Man is the perfect person to look after Gus even though that was never in his original plans. He has his own story to tell that is just as shocking as what has happened to Gus. As the two travel together, they learn from one another and Anozie becomes more and more protective of Gus. At first it is merely to point him in the direction of Colorado and send the little bother on his way - but it changes with each stop they make. Anozie allows his character to be who he is and then remember what it is like to care for someone. He is strong, grumpy and quietly caring and I like it very much.

Akhtar as Dr. Singh is completely taken by surprise at the Sick and feels guilty when his wife comes down with it. He makes it his mission to keep her alive and also keep the neighbors at bay with their questions about how he can help the masses. From the first moment we meet his character there is so much about him that can be intense one moment and flighty the next, especially when he discovers the truth about the lab and the hybrid-children. I expect the second season to tell more about his story.

Owen as Bear is a strong girl who has brought a group of likeminded kids and teens together to fight for the hybrid-children. She sees something special in Gus and when her group has other plans, Bear is going to do whatever possible to save her little friend. Owen gives her character the wisdom of someone much older but then again this is not a world where being naïve helps anything - ask Gus!

Ramirez as Eden finds herself taking over the zoo and making it self-sustainable for herself and daughter Wendy. She is just as curious as Gus and learns everything that her mother has to teach about surviving and staying away from those who would hurt her. In those lessons however are questions about the world that Eden is cautious to answer until she absolutely has to. Murray as Wendy is so dang cute it is ridiculous as she is a hybrid half pig half little girl and terrible smart. Her world revolves around her mother and joins in the desire to help those just like her.

Sandilands as General Abbott is the worst kind of villain in that he can be nice, but you know by the way he talks that there is nothing nice about him. He has a mission that takes him to find Dr. Bell (Sarah Peirse) and it only leads to Dr. Singh's door. Trust me this is not a house call I'd want to have happen. Cannot wait to see his story!

Shout out to Forte as Pubba, his story is slowly told and it is one of love, protection and trying to create a safe world for Gus. He shares the backstory with Birdie (Amy Seimetz) who Gus believes is his mother. They both lay the groundwork for the story of Gus to give us many seasons of enjoyment.

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

Based on a DC Comic, this is an amazing cast narrated by James Brolin that has been brought together to bring a beloved story to the screen. SWEET TOOTH is executive produced by Robert Downey, Jr. (yes, Ironman has a soft spot), wife Susan Downey, Amanda Burrell and Linda Moran with Team Downey. 

SWEET TOOTH is such a wonderful series that takes us into a world that, for the past 18 months, makes the series seem a bit believable. Starting with Gus and his story, the young actor gives us so much to be emotional about as his begins to navigate a world he has been protected from. Gus is a very fiery young man who is also a boy who has all the fears of a kid his age. I admit that I cannot wait to see where the story goes next.

This is a story that is like ivy that has entwined itself in each of the characters’ lives. It is not just that everyone is dealing with the Sick or that there are hybrid-children to understand (or misunderstand depending on who is asking or looking), this is a story about humanity and how it handles having the world turned upside down.

It could be any disaster meaning that you can strip down the hybrid situation and the Crumble and just look at how people treat each other with something like a virus - sound familiar? Even the character of General Abbott or "Doug" can be seen as a narcissistic leader being followed by people who cannot even think for themselves and trust every word he says or follow out of fear. Sound familiar?

Netflix has once again brought an amazing series and once again we will have to wait to see where the story goes next. Just do me a favor Netflix, do not leave me hanging to long please. SWEET TOOTH has captured my attention, imagination and emotions for a world created for understanding, friendship and a loyalty that is found in a young boy.

In the end - the end of our world is just the beginning of his.

Freeform Show Us a CRUEL SUMMER

Jeri Jacquin

Currently on FreeForm and streaming on Hulu created by Bert V. Royal is the story of perspective, truth and lies that bring out a CRUEL SUMMER.

In Skylin Texas, Jeanette Turner (Chiara Aurelia) is a young girl who feels like she is invisible in her awkwardness. Hanging out with friends Mallory (Harley Quinn Smith) and Vince (Allius Barnes) gives her friendships that hold them all together. She even has a great relationship with older brother Derek (Barrett Carnahan). Kate Wallis (Olivia Holt) is the popular blonde girl who is loved by everyone and has a great life. Sharing her days with friends and love Jamie (Froy Gutierrez), mom Joy (Andrea Anders) share in keeping up their lifestyle.

Jeanette, Mallory and Vince love making challenging lists of things to do. Jeanette’s father Greg (Michael Landes) is a local real estate broker which made it easier for her to grab keys to an empty house so the gang can play hide and seek. The problem is the house is not empty as she meets Martin Harris (Blake Lee) and discover he is the new Vice-Principal as Skylin High School where they all attend.

One evening Kate Wallis disappears sending the town into an uproar. Parent Joy and Rod (Ben Cain) try everything to find her and are devastated as the days pass. As times does, an interesting change happens, Jeanette Turner blooms and becomes the popular girl and finds love with Jamie, Kate’s boyfriend.

The change does not go unnoticed by friends Vince and Mallory and Jeanette does nothing to include them in her ‘new life’. When Kate Wallis reappears, the questions surface about where she has been and during a television interview, Kate faces the camera and names Jeanette Turner as someone who knew she was being held captive and did nothing.

Discovering that boyfriend Jamie has moved on and her friends being totally unsympathetic to what happened during her time away, Kate finds herself befriended by Mallory. It seems as if Mallory totally understands Kate and offers her ways to handle the stress that plagues her every day. 

Now, the story rewinds and is told from the years 1993, 1994, 1995 as Kate continues to point the finger at Jeanette and Jeanette defends herself to the point of seeing her life crumble day by day. It is in those years that secrets are revealed, and the truth is told – but what is the truth?
That depends on who you ask.

Aurelia as Jeanette is a young girl who sees and envy’s the fantastic life of Kate Wallis. At home she has Mom, Dad and brother Derek who is heading off to college, but they are together as a family when all of the problems begin. The show gives us a change from gangly young teen to flowered young teen to dark teen. Watching Aurelia navigate this complex story is so impressive that I found myself just jaw dropped when there was a twist exposed and Aurelia plays it so smoothly.

Holt as Kate gives everyone around her the image of a fresh faced young popular girl who has friends and a wonderful home life. When she goes missing and then returns, there is more to having that life than anyone could have imagined. Holt also navigates her character through a complex tale of choices and the result of those choices. Aurelia and Holt take the show neck and neck with the portrayal of their characters. Holt gives a stunning performance as her story takes us deeper into the mystery.

Smith as Mallory is a larger-than-life person who pretty much gets Jeanette and Vince to go whatever she wants. From the beginning I though her such a push individual who did not mind sacrificing friendship to feel justified for her behaviors. Smith gives Mallory free reign and at the same time learns from her friendship with Kate. Barnes as Vince is a young man living during a time where making his sexuality known could be dangerous for him. 

Landes as Greg is a father who believes in his daughter, he believes in her so much that he sacrifices his happiness, life and marriage to make sure his daughter is safe. Even as the story begins to unfold, Landes makes sure that no one tries to sway his decision to protect what he can of his family. Gutierrez as Jamie is confused by the relationship he once had with Kate to the relationship he now has with Jeanette. At the same time, he must come to terms with his own behaviors and reactions to what has happened and realize who it is he trusts.  

Andes as Mom Joy is a woman who is concerned with optics about her life, business and marriage. Even when Kate becomes aware that everything is not as it seems, Joy has a way of talking anyone out of whatever it is they think they see. Andes does a bang-up job of making the viewer love and hate her in the same scene. 

Lee as Harris becomes the casualty in all of this. That is not to say he is not guilty of everything because as the story unfolds, it becomes clear that trying to be the good guy of the high school is going to backfire in his face. Lee gives his character a bit of naivete and at the same time a feeling that there is a part of Martin Harris that is caught up in something he can not get out of. 
Other cast include Nathaniel Ashton as Ben Hallowell, Brooklyn Sudano as Angela Prescott, Sarah Drew as Cindy Turner, and Nicole Bilderback as Denise.

Freeform is part of the ABC Family Worldwide and a subsidiary of Walt Disney Television. Freeform’s platform is geared toward a younger audience and brings about original series and feature films. Freeform can be found in over 92 million households and includes such shows as Motherland Fort Salem, The Bold Type, Good Trouble and Love in the Time of Corona. For more information of original shows and all other content please visit www.freeform.com.

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CRUEL SUMMER is an amazing series that had my whole family captivated from start to finish. The flash between years takes an episode or two to get acclimated but once that happens, it is a ride through years and tears. 

As one of the executive producers, Jessica Biel says of CRUEL SUMMER, “This project was such an exciting and creative thing for Michelle Purple and I. To sit in a space with the younger generation and really give them this platform to really talk about some intense, hard things that these young people [especially for women and for girls] are going through is really exciting for me.” 

She continues with, “It really shines a light on the complex part of being a teenager and trying to figure out who you are and the midst of a million things that are going on.” The best part of that statement is that as the viewer we follow along what all the teens are trying to figure out about their lives. The adults are there yes, but they are mainly adding to the complexity of being a teen.

I guarantee that once the season starts, it is a binger from then on to the shocking conclusions. Once the season is done it absolutely becomes a conversation about so many topics. Parental relationships, teen relationships, inappropriate relationships, lies, deceit, friendships, loyalty – the list is endless. 

Start your season with a CRUEL SUMMER!

THE TOMORROW WAR

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to help ring in the fourth of July weekend from Amazon Originals and director Chris McKay comes the story of the future who want help fighting THE TOMORROW WAR.

Dan Forester (Chris Pratt) has fought in a war and taken his G.I. Bill bringing him to teaching science at the local high school. During daughter Muri’s (Ryan Armstrong) birthday party and watching a soccer game with wife Emmy (Betty Gilpin), a shock happens right before a goal with a lightening blast landing mid-field. 

Out of the light comes Lt. Hart (Jasmine Matthews) telling everyone listening that they are from the future of 2051. The planet is systematically being destroyed by a creature that wants nothing more than to exterminate human life and they need help. Soon after, a draft is begun to bring people from this time to the future aiding in the battle.

Teaching his science class, Dan does not know if or when he could be called, and that question is quickly answered. Emmy wants the family to run, and Muri just wants her Dad. Dan decides he must do what is asked of him if Muri is to have a future of any kind. With a quick fitting and relatively no training, Dan finds himself in the middle of a hellish situation.

He meets fellow soldier Charlie (Sam Richardson), Dorian (Edwin Hodge) and Romeo Commander (Yvonne Strahovski) but there is no time for fellowship! The creatures instantly fixate on the new arrivals, and it is the Commander who gets them to a place looking for scientists. What is important is to find the work that can stop the creatures in 2051 and save the time Dan is from.

The future can save the present!

Pratt as Dan gives us the facial expressions of a warrior that we all have come to expect and with THE TOMORROW WAR he once again delivers. As a man who wants a future for his child, there is nothing he would not do but guarantee he does not expect it to be like this. The thing with Pratt is that he can be as bad ass as he wants but you can bet there are going to be one liner that are memorable in every role he takes – and Dan is no exception. His wit is mixed in with his brawn and it makes the film from start to finish. 

Richardson as Charlie is a character I am never likely to forget. His nervousness brings a reaction that might be hard to keep up with but once you think about it – he makes sense. He is also a brain that when put together with Dan makes a team that is awesome. Hodge as Dorian is a man with issues of his own and he is not going to be talked out of how he handles his life. Dorian might be a little cold, but he has his reasons.

Matthews as Hart is a very strong soldier and even though what is happening in 2051 is truly horrendous, she knows her job and has to keep that strength and Matthews gives her the backbone to make it all happen. 

Armstrong as young Muri is a girl who has a great relationship with her Dad. She quickly becomes a young girl that has to see adult scary things but stands by him. Gilpin as Emmy does not want him to go to war (and who would), trying to find a way out of it. When Dan decides to go, Gilpin puts on her support face and does so the rest of the film.

Shout out goes to J.K. Simmons and I mean that seriously! Who ever decided to pair Pratt with Simmons needs to do it again because dang these two guys have mean stares, sharp wit and no fear of spikey creatures. Simmons has always been a favorite of mine so to see him buff up and gun up was pretty dang cool and I will not mind seeing that again.

Other cast include Mary Lynn Rajskub as Norah, Keith Powers as Major Greenwood, Mike Mitchell as Cowan, Jared Shaw as Tank, Alex Louder as Diablo, Seychelle Gabriel as Sgt. Diaz, Chibuikem Uche as Lt. Ikemba, Rose Bianco as Rose, Alan Trong as Lt. Tran, David Maldonado as Dodd and J.K. Simmons as James. 

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

There is something spectacular about a big action film that opens during the Fourth of July holiday, and I have always looked forward to them. THE TOMORROW WAR is one such film that lends itself to the resilience of the human spirit and, in this case, the future of the human spirit with the addition of creatures that think we are so easily wiped out.

Pratt and crew make a story full, and action packed which is, lets face it, why we love them. But this film gives us something so much more. Part of good action films is that sometimes the ending just leaves us wanting more and with a few more questions. THE TOMORROW WAR takes it all a step further.

Instead of just beating the aliens, director McKay makes darn sure that in the films two hours and twenty minutes, we get to experience everything. Not just the fact that the creatures want us all as a snack but the how, why and what are these characters going to do about it.

There are reminiscences of films I have seen before, and I see them more as a kudo to the alien-action genre like INDEPENDENCE DAY and even a bit of THE X-FILES, but I am thrilled with every moment of it. 

Honestly, I had a good time. I yelled, I hollered, had my own one-liners that probably are not fit for print, applauded and laughed so much. That is the sign of a good film in getting to just have a fantastic experience AND plan to see it again on my Christmas gift 70-inch TV with surround sound (you have been warned neighbors unless you care to join in…bring popcorn).

See it for what it is, THE TOMORROW WAR is why we love our movies loud, action packed and actors that make it just about the best way to spend time with family and friends.

In the end – to save the present they must fight the future!


Disney+ and Marvel Studios Deliver with LOKI

Jeri Jacquin

Currently streaming on Disney+, Marvel Studios and creator Michael Waldron is the series with one of my personal favorite characters because, well, he is LOKI.

After the Endgame and with the tesseract in the hands of Loki (Tom Hiddleston), he is picked up quickly by a mysterious military. Of course, Loki being the god of mischief is not thrilled at all by their pushiness, calling him a variant and learning about time variants. Quickly he discovers that he is to stand trial for some of his antics.

Standing in front of a judge, Loki tries to charm judge Ravonna Renslayer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) with “madam, a god doesn’t plead” which does not help his cause. Morbius (Owen Wilson) watches with a keen eye at Loki’s reaction to blaming the Avengers for his troubles. Getting Renslayer to agree to begrudgingly allow Loki to help the TVA (Time Variance Authority). 

Morbius spends time with Loki explaining the TVA and showing him things that he would rather not see. Hunter B-15 (Wunmi Mosaku) is not at all happy with the decision, but it gives the god of mischief time to do what he has always done – get into more trouble. What he discovers is that he is now part of the TVA world.

Now, Loki is sent into the world to hunt one of the most ruthless variants of all!  

Hiddleston picks up the mantle of Loki with such ease or maybe it is just that I am thrilled to see both he and the character again. Personally, I think it is a lot of both and I am just a bag of giggles watching every moment. I truly believe that Hiddleston must be enjoying his time as Loki as it shows in every step he takes in the role and in every frame. From the moments where his emotions betray his usual narcissism to Loki expanding his own universe of narcissism, Hiddleston just makes us all love a character that we probably should not. 

Sitting in the front row when he attended San Diego Comic Con International in July 2013, his speech had all 7,000 Hall H attendees on their feet screaming with joy and chanting the name of Loki. Hiddleston was in full regalia with a mischievous smile and a playfulness that gave us all a moment of ‘glorious purpose’. Now, the series LOKI is going to give us what we need – and that is more of the god of mischief.

Wilson as Morbius sees something in Loki that most just want to evaporate from existence. Calling Loki out on his mischief and the trouble he has caused through time, Wilson turns on the psychology charm. When that does not work, shock does and now Morbius has a way to reach Loki while still allowing Loki to be, well Loki. Wilson gives his character a patience that might give him a medal for sainthood and a calmness that is the opposite of Loki. The two play off each other and Wilson is very, very cool.

Mbatha-Raw as Renslayer is not happy about Morbius’ request but for now she is willing to see where it goes. It is nice to see Mbatha-Raw in a strong role and I think we will see that story play out as well. I mean come on, it probably will not be the last time she sees Loki in her courtroom. Mosaku as Hunter B-15 has Loki’s number but would rather have his head on a platter. She is good at her job and Mosaku gives her character authority and a sense of duty. I am enjoying the give and take between she and Hiddleston and suspect I will see much more of it.

Disney+ is the subscription home streaming entertainment with Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic and more. There are exclusive originals with new feature films, shows, short form content, documentaries, and actions series such as THE MANDALORIAN. For more information, please visit www.disneyplus.com.

Marvel Studios has released sixteen films since 2008 in what is known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Marvel is built on a library of over eight thousand characters featured in a variety of media content for over seventy years. For more of what they have to offer please visit www.marvel.com.

LOKI has started out the timeline-variant-gate catching my attention quickly. As much as I enjoyed WANDA VISION, I can not wait to see where Disney and Marvel take the usual unpredictably predictable Loki and what fun there is to be had. 

So far, the beginning cast is setting the groundwork for adventure and a reason to turn in weekly. Of course, I wish I could binge watch the whole season but there is something to be said for looking forward to the next chapter in the Loki saga. 

Disney+ and Marvel have partnered to do amazing things for the streaming service, and it is so much fun to watch television with the family again. Seeing everything they have to offer on the big screen in my home make for a reason to gather together. We gather for a bite to eat and then popcorn ready to cheer on all our heroes and even a mischievous bit of a villain like LOKI.  

In the end – the world Loki wanted to dominate has just changed up on him!


SERVANT Brings More Answers in Season Two

Jeri Jacquin

Returning to Apple TV+ for its second season from writer Tony Basgallop and executive produced with M. Night Shyamalan is SERVANT.

Dorothy (Lauren Ambrose) is devastated by the disappearance of her son Jericho and Leanne (Nell Free). Calling the police to report the kidnapping sends husband Sean (Toby Kebbell) running through the house to hide anything that that would suggest the infant was there. Instead, Sean and brother-in-law Julian (Rupert Grint) tell the police that Dorothy is suffering from the loss of their son and the fake baby was supposed to help.

Once alone, Sean decides he is going to do everything possible to find Jericho even if it means dealing with the cult Leanne has brought into their life and the woman known as May. Julian has other plans for the doll and decides he knows what is best for his sister and even hires Roscoe (Phillip Brannon) to help out. Dorothy begins to use her reporter skills and goes insane on the internet looking for new stories that can tell her more about the cult.

The story of what happened to Dorothy slowly makes its way to the surface, she keeps busy with her on-air reporting and announcing Leanne’s disappearance. When they believe her location is clear at the Marino house, Sean uses his cooking skills to find out for sure. Tobe (Tony Revolori) becomes a delivery driver and does not realize he is also being used to bring Leanne back. Dorothy has no intention of making life easy for Leanne and relies on tactics to get the information about Jericho.

What she does not count on is the arrival of Uncle George (Boris McGiver) who makes it clear that none of this should have ever happened. Convinced that Leanne has gone astray from their beliefs, he brings a mysterious case that is to remind her of why she should return to the fold. The Turners are not exactly sure what his plan is but are blinded with hope when Uncle George assures them that things will work out.

Dorothy is on a spree preparing for Jericho’s return and wants to have a family gathering. Bringing them all together is not exactly going to go as planned as Dorothy, Julian, and Sean deal with their own troubles that are hitting them hard. As if everything was not difficult enough, a knock comes at the door as a woman in a black veil introduces herself as Aunt Josephine (Barbara Sukowa).

Josephine makes it clear to Dorothy and Sean that Leanne has strayed and although the couple are in pain regarding Jericho, nothing more can be done. A showdown is about to happen with all involved and the shock is yet to come.

Ambrose as Dorothy has now been put to every ounce of stress dealing with something she has no control over. The only thing she seems to have control of is not having control. Ambrose give Dorothy moments of sanity where she seems to be on the right track and then she goes whack-a-doodle but in the best of ways that keep my attention because, and let us be honest, it is like a train wreck, and we have to see the outcome. 

Kebbell as Sean seems to be the one that truly understands the insanity of what he and Dorothy are dealing with. Yet, there is that part of him that can not help but be caught up in it all with the help of Julian’s own brand of craziness. He wants Jericho, he wants his wife happy, and he wants his world back so jumping in with both feet – he seems to be landing in quicksand!

Free as Leanne comes from a world that is twisted and altered in the perception of religion. It is her breakaway to Dorothy and Sean’s house that has caused all the issues until the issues start knocking on their door! Free is torn between two worlds and the consequences be damned – literally.

McGiver as Uncle George creeps me out to the highest level of creepiness. That is how you know this character is bringing in more story that is just bursting to be told. Sukowa as Aunt Josephine is another piece to the puzzle and covered in a veil just like the mystery that is still waiting to be uncovered. 

Now, lets talk about Grint as Julian because let’s put in an OMG right here. As Julian he is the go between in the chaos even if he brings a bit of unusualness to the way he thinks. Of course, dealing with his own demons, those demons sometimes cross the lines between what his sister wants, his own life and helping Sean. Then again, being an uncle to a doll is not always easy. Grint is stunning, entertaining and completely engrossing as Julian and this season he crosses a few more dangerous lines.

Other cast include Mason and Julius Belford as baby Jericho, Katie Hillas Kourtney, Alison Elliott as May Markhem, Todd Waring as Frank Pearce, Jerrika Hinton as Natalie Gorman, Molly Griggs as Isabelle Carrick and M. Night Shyamalan as a pizza delivery man. 

Apple TV+ is a streaming service featuring Apple Originals, award-winning series, compelling dramas, groundbreaking documentaries, kids’ entertainment, comedies, and more with new Apple Originals added every month. To see more of what they have to offer please visit www.appletvplus.com.

SERVANT is twisted, mysterious, chaotic, amusing, jaw dropping, and I almost wish it was an hour long instead of the half hour. Thinking about that more I realize that the series would not be as on-the-edge if the show became an hour per episode. Each ending is spectacular and pushes the brain to want more. 

This leads to the anticipated ‘ohhhhh maaaaaaaaaaaaan’ when the season is over for the next year. Let us hope that Apple TV+ can kick into high gear and keep the tension to a minimum, oh alright, I want to know more about the secrets that seem to always be eluding. Both season one and two are available now.

In the end – where is Jericho?