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HISTORY Offers Up the New Intense Drama Series with KNIGHTFALL
Speaking with Tom Cullen
The History Channel has once again brought amazing story telling and on December 6th you will experience a story of the Knights Templar and the Holy Grail with KNIGHTFALL.
During the Middle Ages, the Knights Templar were an order of men with one goal – the protection of a prized relic known as the Holy Grail. An order of warrior monks, they will do what ever is required to carry out their duty.
Landry (Tom Cullen) is such a warrior monk along with Godfrey (Sam Hazeldine), Tancrede (Simon Merrells) and Gawain (Padraic Delaney). After an attack on their stronghold, they are all forced to flee and fifteen years later find themselves in Paris.
Now a friend to King Philip IV (Ed Stoppard), Queen Joan (Olivia Ross) and Princess Isabella (Sabrina Bartlett), Landry visits much to the hostility of William De Nogaret (Julian Ovenden). The brothers gather to discuss how to do what is right by the all the people they vow to serve. That brings discourse when Landry wants to know why they have not spoken of returning to the Holy Land.
Godfrey leaves to handle business outside Paris and asks that Landry be in charge which makes him instantly suspicious. Parsifal (Bobby Schofield) witnesses what happens on the open road and is given a mission that will cost him dearly.
When a Jewish businessman kills another man in the square in broad daylight, the King orders that the Jewish people must evacuate. What he doesn’t know is that there are others within the palace walls that have more frightening plans. In the chaos, there is a hint that the Holy Grail might be closer than any of the Knights Templar could have hoped bringing Pope Boniface VIII (Jim Carter) to their door.
With this news brings hope of a return to the Holy Land and the Holy Grail!
I had the opportunity to conference call with Tom Cullen, the actor who marvelously portrays the role of Landry. Having spent my Sundays with Downton Abbey I was drawn to see Cullen’s performance in Knightfall and equally thrilled to talk to him about it.
Jeri Jacquin: Hello Tom, thanks for talking with us today.
Tom Cullen: Thank you too.
JJ: Can you tell us about your experience filming Knightfall?
TC: This is the kind of project I’ve always dreamt of being involved in ever since I was a little boy. I grew up in Wales and I grew up next to a castle. That kind of history is really woven into the fabric of my DNA like I think it is in many European’s DNA. When I was a kid, my dad gave me this wooden sword and shield and I used to go up there with my mate and we just used to run around pretending to be knights and warriors. I think that the older we get the more baggage we carry and I know that I spent a lot of time pining after that kind of innocence. This job really opened up the gateway to accessing the kid again and it felt like every single day I had little Tom next to me swinging a wooden sword around with his mates in a castle in Wales. That was my favorite thing about the job; being able to have as much fun as I had while filming this show and I loved it.
JJ: Besides your informal and very cool childhood training, did you more intensive training?
TC: In drama school in the UK we do a lot of fight training. I’d done a lot of sword training prior and I found that I had the propensity for killing people, ironically. *laughs* I hadn't swung a sword in about eight years, so it was all very new in many respects. The stunt team that we had was led by an amazing Frenchman, Cédric Proust. He is a top stuntman and fight choreographer. He really put us through it and we had a great swordsman named Roman. The entire team wanted us to be at a very, very high level. So every day on set they would drill us and I did about three months of physical training beforehand to get myself and my body ready for the fighting portion of my character and the series.
Working on Knightfall was a full-on experience because the team wanted it to look authentic and real, and when you watch the fights they are absolutely incredible. I'm so proud of all of the actors who've participated in the battles because we've really done a great job and the stunt guys have really trained us well and they're epic battles and muddy and gruesome. And they feel very real, which I think is something I’m very proud of.
There is an incredible battle sequence in the final episode which is the biggest thing I've ever been involved in. We had like 400 guys on a battlefield fighting for about two weeks. It's epic, amazing and the real geeky nerd in me – because I am one – just can't believe that I’m in it. I’m extremely proud of it.
JJ: How did you react to getting the role of Landry?
TC: I genuinely love to do stuff that is different from the last thing that I did, and something that really scares me and something that is new. Knightfall was truly a dream come true for me. It's something that I've always dreamt of doing since I was a kid. I grew up on films like ROBIN HOOD - Prince of Thieves and BRAVEHEART and those films had a huge influence on me as a kid. When I read this script it was like my dreams were coming true. It’s really amazing to be a part of a project like this one.
JJ: The Knights Templar and the Holy Grail are fairly known because of documentaries, film and television. I have to say I’m also drawn to that mysterious period of time. Did you research yourself?
TC: Yes. I wanted to know as much about the crusades and about the politics at the time. Not just the politics in Europe or in the Middle East but also Mongolian politics because they had a huge influence.
You just need to immerse yourself in the world and know everything that these men would have known, understand every single and the political permutation that is affected where they reach –where they are at this point and what drives these men and women to do the things that they do. I think that's something that you have to do.
You take history for granted and history should never be taken for granted because it's essential for us furthering ourselves as a society and as a culture, because the one thing that history teaches us is that it's cyclical. So yes, I read a lot and we had a fantastic historian on set. His name is Dan Jones. He’s just released an amazing book that you must read called The Templars which is on the New York Times Bestseller’s List; it’s brilliant. He was there on hand at all times feeding into us and making sure that what we were portraying was as accurate as possible.
So anything that would come up in the script that we didn't know, we would use him as a source of knowledge and he would say, “Go and read this, go and read that,” or just tell us because he he's a real fountain of knowledge. That wasn't just the access that put me in the world of the Knights Templar.
The costume design, the art direction, the production design, makeup, etc. it was all so dense and real that you're feel like you’re right in it as soon as you turn up on set. It's just all there for you, you know, and you can really immerse yourself into the world.
The days we spent on set were amazing. We filmed on the biggest sets in Europe at Barrandov Studios. They built medieval Paris. I've never seen anything quite like it and in the show I have to do this shot where I'm riding down this nearly 200-meter long street that they built. There're 350 extras and each extra has a job, each extra has a name. It is a real world and you just forget that the cameras are there because it's so extraordinary.
Our costume designer, Diana Cilliers, was amazing. I remember the first time we did our screen test so they can see what it looks like on camera with the makeup and the hair. I remember putting the costume on, the chainmail and everything, and it weighed 50 pounds which was like an insane amount of weight. I struggled to walk down the corridor to get to the studio to do the screen test.
I was like, “Guys, why is the costume so heavy. How are we supposed to move and fight in this?” The answer was that Diana tried out lighter material such as plastics and other materials but they just didn't look authentic. So they put us in the most authentic costume that they could and we just had to deal with it. We got bigger and we got stronger, and so very quickly we were able to run and jump, get on horses in the 50-pound costumes and do everything that we needed to do to play our parts.
You can see the difference in way that the costumes move and the way that your body moves in them. It's just authentic and I think it makes for a very real experience when watching the show.
JJ: The relationship between Landry and Godfrey is such a mystery. Can you tell me more about that?
TC: The relationship that Landry has with Godfrey runs throughout the entire first season. In Episode 1, Godfrey is Landry's surrogate father. Landry was an orphan and Godfrey essentially took him in and saved him from this orphanage. Because of the promise Godfrey saw in him, Landry became a Templar at the age of 11 which is very, very, very rare.
One of the Templar rules is that you must become a Templar of your own volition because it's such a monastic lifestyle where you do things like eat your food out of the same bowl as another man. There's no vanity and no possessions. It's completely monastic so it's very rare for a young boy to join the Templars like Landry did.
In Episode 1 there is a truth revealed to Landry about Godfrey that he didn't know. Landry, like a classic hero that we all know as the protagonist, he hunts and searches for the truth at all costs. He is like a boar who gets physically beaten, emotionally beaten and he just gets back up by himself and charges towards the truth.
Godfrey is pivotal in that circle of truth that Landry is striving towards and it isn't a very easy journey for Landry to go on throughout the first season. It's a very satisfying journey for the viewers. Every time the scripts would come in there would be a new revelation and it would be a new shock, a new turn and it was very cool to read and really fun to play. I hope that the audience enjoys it as much as we enjoyed making it.
JJ: The Knights Templar have very strict religious views that is talked about in detail in Knightfall, how do you reconcile that with their mysterious history?
TC: The one thing that history will always do is prove itself cyclical and that human beings have very short memories. We forget very quickly what we've already been through and we tend to make the same mistakes. I think it's really important to remind ourselves of those mistakes.
Of course Knightfall is a show that is about the Templars and you'd be remiss to not talk about the holy wars; though the show actually doesn't take place during that period of time, it takes place 15 years after the holy wars. The show is about the Templars being disbanded and rounded up. That's essentially what the show would be over three or four seasons.
The Templars were a very interesting group of men because they were founded to protect pilgrims on the road and that was their purpose. Not to fight wars but to protect people who were going to pray and they were very respectful of all faiths. There is a very famous story of being held captive in the Templar temple. They made space for them so that they could pray with ease and they gave them their space because they respect faith.
I think the show touches on what faith is and how faith can be manipulated to one's own needs and how faith is often used for political games which is something that has nothing to do with religion. The Holy Grail in our show is used as a pivot of power in which people circle around it and use it in order to gain political favor.
That for me is really a very interesting world to live in. It doesn't pit religion against religion but it talks about how religion can be manipulated to man's want and need for power.
JJ: You have touched on just about every theme regarding the Knights Templar. How do you think this will reach the viewers?
TC: I think what I'm very proud of in the show is that you can kind of look at Knightfall objectively from the outside having not seen it and say, “Oh, this is about guys swinging swords and that’s what the show is about,” but the show is so much more than that. The show is about politics. We have a lot of stuff that takes place in the French Court at the time, dissecting, and breaking down the politics and the machinations of political interplay, which I just love that kind of stuff.
It has a fantastic central spine through the show; an amazing love story which I'm surprised at how strong and moving that story was as we were filming it. It kind of grew into this thing that we had no idea it would become. The show talks about revenge and betrayal, brotherhood, loyalty, faith, humanity and mortality.
I truly believe the show has something for everybody. I think that it is by no means a gendered show. I think that women would love it as much as men will love it and that is something I'm really proud of too. It has fantastic strong female characters. They are actually probably stronger than all of the male characters and they're just as complex and rich as the male counterparts, and it's very moving. I've watched the last episode three or four times now and I've shed many tears every single time. It’s a great rollercoaster.
JJ: Is there anything that makes you nervous about your role in Knightfall?
TC: There's so much that scared me about this role. The size of it and the responsibility of playing a lead in a show as big as this, it was terrifying. Also just the physical and emotional commitment that was required to make this show work. If I wasn't committed 100% to the show, it wouldn't work. They really, really put me through it in the best way possible making sure I became the best Landry I could be. That was a terrifying challenge and terrifying to have to pull off.
I was learning new skills like horse riding and fighting. The biggest thing that was terrifying for me was that – and this is something that I've been dealing with my entire life – I was doing something that I love. I read the script and I wanted it so badly because I thought it was so good. That really terrifies me.
I'm much more comfortable in that way. I come from a poor area of Wales where I'm much more comfortable with rejection than not. What terrified me was that I wanted to do it and doing something that you love and that you want is often the scariest thing that you can do because if you fail at it, that’s a big journey to go on.
JJ: Is there something in particular that drew you toward the medieval era?
TC: I’ve always been obsessed with the medieval time period because I think it’s a time that we can look back on and learn from. Actually 800 years isn’t that long ago and that this is the time really when the world that we live in today was created and formulated. We’re still feeling the repercussions of the actions and choices the people made in the medieval period today.
It’s also a period that is grimy and dirty and dangerous. The line between life and death is so thin, it’s really interesting to learn about. I think that’s a fantastic place to make a drama in. It’s a very rich world since life and death was so next to each other and it’s world rich in terms of human wants and needs.
Nowadays our lives are reasonably comfortable for certain people, especially in America. We typically don't have that kind of life and death threat every single day where we are going to drop down with scurvy or have to go into battle.
Our choices aren’t as drastic but if you have a lifespan of 35 years, every choice you make is loaded. I think that the world of the medieval period is one of very high octane and people making life and death choices every single move. That for me is an exhilarating period of time to make a drama in.
JJ: The costume designer Diana Cilliers has done some amazing work. Can you talk about the garments and some of your favorites?
TC: Yes. Unfortunately, I only ever had one costume really which is either with chain mail or without chain mail but most of the time with chain mail. But Diana made it so that it was completely authentic even in terms of the undergarment underneath the chain mail. We had a very, very thick heavy muslin underneath like a linen dresser with leather underneath and the same on our bottom half as well. The chain mail was real metal and so it gave that kind of weight and movement to it.
The tunics were made in the same way that they would have made the fabrics back at the time. Things like the crosses they spent a lot of time discussing what cross to use. Templars used many different crosses depending on where they were based, and later in the series, we meet another group of Templars and they have a different cross than what you see me wearing.
Diana talked about how they would have died, the wreaths, the crosses and how they would have stitched them and sewn them on, and how the draper would have done it. They stitched in the same way that they would have stitched then. They had a huge workshop at our studios, Barrandov Studios in Prague, with the most incredible costume teams who worked tirelessly. I don't think people realized how much work it took because I certainly didn't realize it.
When you have 400 extras on set, the costume team starts work at 2 o'clock in the morning to start dressing all of these men and women so that we're ready to start filming at 7:00 am. Then they wash all the costumes and they go to bed at an insane hour and they do it in shifts. The work that goes into making 400 beautiful costumes is unprecedented. In terms of the court costumes, I was really jealous because their costumes were incredible.
Queen Joan and Princess Isabella played by Olivia Ross and Sabrina Bartlett, their costumes were inspired from real medieval images and fabrics that they had used and they are just unbelievable. Like every time I saw Olivia, she was in this new extraordinary costume that Diana fashioned and created out of seemingly thin air in no time and they're just stunning works of art really.
What is amazing is that the way they were made is the way that they would have made them back then. Diana was really collaborative as well. I think each of us wanted to have our own unique way in which we wore our costume or we wore our belt or the color of our cross and so she allowed me to choose the color of my cross and how I would have dyed it. All of that really detailed history and information about The Templars is fascinating and we loved going there and making it as authentic as possible.
JJ: Landry is such a complex character from childhood to when we are introduced to him. How do you think becoming a Templar at the tender age of 11 shaped him?
TC: I think that when we first meet Landry at the top of Episode 1 he is 20. He is brash and young –he is a maverick, incredibly cocky and is kind of emboldened by the fact that he has God on his side and he thinks that he's invincible, which I think a lot of 20 year olds think, regardless of whether they have God on their side or not. I know I certainly felt like that.
What we see at the top of Episode 1 is his entire life flipped upside down when they lose Acre, the last Templar stronghold in the Holy Land and they lose the Holy Grail. We flash forward 15 years and when you've been brought up as a as a warrior, and that's all you know, everything you know, it’s a tough reality to deal with. He's like a caged animal, unable to fulfill what he thinks is his only purpose and duty which is to fight.
When we meet him, he is this very, very complex, pulled apart guy in Episode 1. He is battling with his humanity and he is secular yet he is also still mentally devout. He is very loyal to his brothers, his family yet he is lying to them. He is having an affair with a woman yet he is a monk. He is the bravest, most fearless warrior yet he's starting to feel a sense of his own mortality.
I think that’s why he kind of falls in love with this woman. It’s not that he's doubting God or that he’s doubting the Templars or religion, but that he's doubting himself. He is in a conflict, in a battle with himself, which are the stories that I love to watch where your hero is so full of contradiction and battle and personal complications. Throughout the first season, we see him work through that and battle through that and try and find out who he really is. It's an awesome journey for me to play and to take viewers on.
JJ: Talking about more seasons, do you know where Landry and the show will go?
TC: We love the show and we really hope that we can continue making it for as long as possible because we're a real family and we're very, very proud of it and we love making it. There’s also still a lot of the Templar history that has yet to be told. We have an idea of where the show will go and where it will take us. What actually happens is that while you're making a show it becomes this dialogue that happens between the writers, the actors, directors, the costume designers, the art director, the production designer, makeup artists, etc. where you're constantly kind of feeding into this pot which is the show.
It evolves and changes and moves in ways that you would never expect it to. It's like a living organism but that surprises you. Though we have an idea of where this is going, actually the truth is that we don't in many respects. We have the structure of history and what actually happened which we have to stay with but in terms of the characters, and their fuels and wants and needs and how they navigate their way through that history is something that we're constantly being surprised by with the characters. That's a really exciting place to work with.
Especially as an actor, I don't want to know where the character is going because in life I have no idea what I'm doing tomorrow or how it's going to pan out. And so I can only be in the present and I can only make choices in the present, and so that's what you want your characters to do. The writers actually withheld scripts from us and didn't tell us what was happening later in this first season so that we could be surprised in the moments whilst we were making the episode, which is a really fantastic and authentic way to work.
Once we get the script we kind of talk about them and collaborate on them. Dominic Minghella is an incredible show runner. He is a force of nature and an amazing man and a brilliant writer, and he really values the actors’ input. He is always very good at fielding ideas and whether he takes them or not is up to him but it feels like a very collaborative process where everybody is feeding into it and we all have ownership over the show and that's really exciting.
JJ: I won’t deny that I am and always will be a huge Downton Abbey fan. How was it for you getting together with a few of your DA costars?
TC: I was so happy to work with Jim Carter who plays Mr. Carson on Downton and Julian Ovenden who plays Charles Blake on Downton Abbey, because they are just unbelievable actors. And I think that the caliber that they have only reflects so well on Knightfall, you know. The cast that we've assembled on Knightfall is one of the best that I've ever worked with. They are really amazing actors and amazing sponsors.
To have someone like Jim Carter who is a multiple Emmy nominated actor and the fact that he was so excited and hungry to do our show, I think is really a testament to the scripts of Knightfall. We hope that everyone likes it as much as we do.
I can confidently say that the History Channel’s new series Knightfall will be a series that will have viewers coming back for more. There is a complexity to these characters that challenges their humanity and power against the history of the Knights Templar, the Holy Grail and Kings of other country’s involved in it all.
There is intrigue that tests loyalty and a brotherhood that is going through pains of its own from inside their own house. Bringing it all together with fantastic costuming and set design, Knightfall draws the viewer in and takes us on an adventure through the medieval era.
Dan Jones is the New York Times best selling author who is also responsible for Summer of Blood: England’s First Revolution, Magna Carta: The Birth of Liberty, The Plantagenets and The Wars of the Roses as well as The Templars: The Rise and Spectacular Fall of God’s Holy Warriors.
There is plenty of time to learn all you can about Knightfall and the History Channel has made it even easier. Go to http://www.history.com/shows/knightfall/pages/dan-jones-knights-templar to see stories and videos including Pilgrims, Warriors, Heretics: Who Were the Knights Templar?, The Templars’ Crusader Origins, From Pilgrim Bodyguards to Master Warriors, How the Templars Made and Lost a Fortune, How Religion and Greed Toppled the Templars, From Medieval Myths to Modern Mystery and Were Crusader Knights Really Protecting the Cup of Christ?
The History Channel brings more stellar successful series to television with The Hunt for the Zodiac Killer, The Curse of Oak Island, The WarFighters as well as the continuing series such as American Pickers, Pawn Stars, and Ice Road Truckers. Let us not forget the absolutely stunning series VIKINGS that returns November 29th.
Knightfall premiers Wednesday, December 6 at 10PM ET/PT on History!
TOP TEN FILMS OF 2017
The year is drawing to a quick close and so are the films that are being offered up by studios. Having spent a large amount of time in theatres in 2017 I have seen the good, bad and more ugly offering up my opinion on what is worthy of your hard earned dollars.
It has been another rough movie year to be sure with films that gave us promises and then didn’t quite deliver, quiet films that made their way into theatres and surprised us all and head scratchers that were far more confusing than they needed to be.
My top ten are from all genres with stories that made the biggest impression on me. There will be a few jaw droppers as films you might expect to see won’t be there and films you might not have heard of are worthy of a second chance look.
So here are my Top Ten of 2017!
10. STAR WARS: The Last Jedi – The wait to see where the story of Luke Skywalker is finally here. The rebellion is attempting to escape the First Order while Rey tries to enlist the help of Skywalker. My 1977 self loves the opening music and yellow scroll preparing for another epic adventure. That being said, it will be interesting to see where the story goes and I am looking forward to the Han Solo film. (PG-13 from Lucasfilm and Walt Disney Studios)
9. THOR: Ragnarok – This was an unexpected pleasure for me this year because the tone changed to make it a really good time filled with action and laughs. Thor and Loki aren’t about to take any cosmic nonsense from Hela and it all works beautifully. (PG-13 from Marvel Entertainment and Walt Disney Pictures)
8. LAST FLAG FLYING – Starring Steve Carell, Laurence Fishburne and Bryan Cranston, the story is three men who served in Vietnam and coming to terms with where they have been and helping their friend deal with the death of his son. Have tissue for both the laughter and the tears. (Rated R from Amazon Studios)
7. THE POST – It is the story of The Post owner Kay Graham and editor Ben Bradlee when dealing with a war cover-up and the four U.S. Presidents that kept it going. When the White House discovers missing papers, they attempt to do everything to stop the American people from reading about it in the papers. Steven Spielberg brings his spin on history in an epic way. (PG-13 from Twentieth Century Fox)
6. BABY DRIVER – Perhaps it was a frakken fantastic soundtrack that pushed this film to amazing heights and even if so I’m okay with that! This film is fast paced and filled with twists and turns and I’m not just talking about from behind the steering wheel. Ansel Elgort takes the film from beginning to end – well done young man. (Rated R from TriStar Pictures)
5. THE HERO – Dear Sam Elliott, thank you for reminding me why you are such a treasure, not that I really needed reminding. This is the story of a man clearly stuck and when life comes seriously knocking, he must find the joy in life that he has been hiding from. Elliott brings his southern drawl, sparkling eyes and no-apology wit to this role that is absolutely stunning. (Rated R from The Orchard)
4. THE SHAPE OF WATER – Director del Torro has brought a haunting beauty to a story that has moments of brilliant silence and moments of pure love followed by seconds of insanity. All of this wrapped up in the stellar performance of Sally Hawkins and fish man Doug Jones being watched over by Richard Jenkins, Octavia Spencer and the deliciously evil Michael Shannon. (Rated R from Fox Searchlight Pictures)
3. VICTORIA & ABDUL – I am clearly a fan of period pieces but this film is just beyond amazing. Judy Dench once again portrays Queen Victoria who is clearly in her later years and can’t find anything to be excited about. When Abdul comes to court, she begins a friendship that isn’t to the courts liking or her un-princely like son. The onscreen chemistry between Dench and Ali Fazal is every bit worth each frame of film. (PG-13 from Focus Features)
2. THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI – Frances McDormand gives the performance that will stay with me playing Mildred, a mother who is coming to terms with her daughters death. When she doesn’t feel local law enforcement are doing enough, Mildred finds a way to motivate them. Also staring Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell, this is a film that screams must-see! I am cheering for McDormand come Oscar time! (Rated R from Fox Searchlight Pictures)
This is where you should be hearing a drum roll as my number one for 2017 is:
1. DUNKIRK – Christopher Nolan has brought a film that is not just a story about a moment in history but a film that is an experience. On the beaches of Dunkirk, Allied soldiers are surrounded by the Germans from land, sea and air in 1940. Nolan gives the audience the perspective from all three angles without much useless dialogue. Instead, he invites viewers into this world of war and all of the emotions that brings. There isn’t a character in this film that doesn’t bring every ounce of themselves to the story. (PG-13 from Warner Bros.)
My yearly bonus of number 11 is ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD – Director Ridley Scott takes us to 1973 Rome as J. Paul Getty’s grandson Paul is kidnapped and held for ransom. Mother Gail must go up against kidnappers who don’t believe she isn’t rich and Getty’s refusal to pay anyone any dime of his. Mark Wahlberg is hired to help to find the boy before there is no turning back. Christopher Plummer is eerily creepy and I loved it. (Rated R from TriStar Pictures)
I also had a few guilty pleasure films this year that stand out including JOHN WICK 2 but then again anything with Keanu Reeves busting heads works. There is the very funny TABLE 19 as Anna Kendrick leads a group of wedding attendees who are stuck in the back of the room with a table of issues. KINGSMAN: The Golden Circle is a return of the well dressed agents who know you can fight evil and look good doing it. Every list should have a shark film and 47 METERS DOWN is going to be my pick that has bite, head slaps and yet I still love it. Finally, THE HITMAN’S BODYGUARD – Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson…need I say more?
Are there disappointments? Absolutely and the list feels endless! KING ARTHUR: Legend of the Sword gives us a Charlie Hunnam and that’s absolutely it. ALIEN: Covenant is the next installment yet feels like bloody confusion, literally. Of course there are the ridiculous that don’t need any explanation with BAYWATCH, TRANSFORMERS: The Last Knight and VALERIAN and the City of a Thousand Planets. Idris Elba has a busy year in 2017 but THE DARK TOWER isn’t high on my list so I’ll just keep happy thoughts on his other works. Finally, JUSTICE LEAGUE – I know I’m going to get grief for it but there wasn’t anything about the film that makes me want more.
There you go, my best and worst of 2017! This has been a year of either hit or miss and not much room for anything else in between. Theatre goers aren’t being fickle in what they are looking for when they spend their hard earn bucks and they shouldn’t be.
In 2018 there are remakes, return of the wizarding world, more frights with what has become our favorite insidiousness, a group of maze runners finish off their adventures, the final chapter of those shades in the fifties, more from the comic book world, family and animated films and finally SOLO, SUPER TROOPERS 2 and DEADPOOL 2 might make it all bearable!
Thanks for being a part of our 2017 at the theatres and we look forward to joining you in the theatre seats with a bucket of popcorn in 2018! Happy holidays to you and yours and a safe Happy New Year from all of us here at Movie Maven.
THE 15:17 TO PARIS Brings the Real Heroes onto the Silver Screen
Speaking with Spencer Stone, Alek Scarlatos and Anthony Sadler
Coming to theatres from legendary director Clint Eastwood and Warner Bros. is a film about adversity, courage and being on THE 15:17 TO PARIS.
It made the news around the world when, on August 21, 2015, a terrorist attacked a train heading for Paris with 500 passengers aboard. The event could have had life shattering consequences but for three men – Airman Spencer Stone, Specialist Alek Skarlatos and Anthony Sadler.
These three men took it upon themselves to rush in while others were rushing out. What makes these three even more outstanding is that they have been friends since childhood. That’s where the story begins, Spencer and Alek are having problems at school as teachers and administrators see them as needing medication to keep them in line.
Not about to have it are their mothers Joyce (Judy Greer) and Heidi (Jenna Fischer) who are not about to be told how to parent – especially out of a medicine bottle. It is in school that they meet Anthony and a bond is formed out of mutual acceptance. Although they each have to go their separate ways, that bond becomes stronger as they grow up.
Spencer decides he wants to join the military but soon discovers that the job he wants is not where the military sends him. Struggling with studies and keeping up, he becomes frustrated which makes things even harder. Alek is over seas when, along with Spencer and Anthony, plans are made to see the sights of Europe.
Reunited once again, Spencer, Anthony and Alek become tourists going from place to place enjoying their freedom. After visiting Italy and Amsterdam, they board the Thalys train #9364 for Paris where the lives of everyone aboard will change.
I had the amazing opportunity to speak with Spencer, Anthony and Alek who director Clint Eastwood decided would portray themselves in the film. Let me say first off that I found these three young men to be exactly how I expected them to be. They are very welcoming, funny and with a laid back ease I so enjoyed.
Jeri Jacquin: Hello gentlemen, it’s such a pleasure to meet you.
Spencer Stone: Oh, I think we are missing one. Alek will be back in a sec.
Anthony Sadler: If we let him back in the room.
(they immediately start laughing and I sense a plot forming)
JJ: Well, lets hit the ground running before he gets back then.
JJ: First of all, it’s so weird; I mean you look exactly like yourselves.
Anthony: (laughing) I know right, I get that a lot.
JJ: I saw the film and I have to ask you, is it very strange when you watch it? Because it is like you are watching yourself doing something you have already done.
Anthony: It’s weird on so many levels. It’s our story on camera with music with Clint Eastwoods name on it and it’s also weird watching how accurate it is because we lived it. It isn’t all Hollywood’ up so seeing us doing what we did two years ago is strange for us as well.
JJ: I felt like I was intruding almost while watching in a way.
Spencer: Yes, that’s exactly what it feels like putting it out there.
Anthony: We hope that people like it and it spread like wildfire. We want the audience to feel like they are there and see exactly how it happened and who it happened to. It’s not documentary and I know it gets tagged that because we are not actors but it’s not that. It’s like you are literally there.
JJ: Even more so for you.
(we are rejoined by Alek Skarlatos and immediately Spencer and Anthony give him a good natured hard time with lots of brotherly joking)
JJ: Hello Alek, I’m Jeri.
Alek: Awwww man, you started without me?
JJ: It’s not that we don’t love you or anything but the clock is ticking.
Anthony: Yea dude, we have things to do. (again they start laughing at each other)
Spencer: Back to the question Alek (chastising as only a brother can do), you have to be okay with everyone knowing everything about your life. Not everything in detail but a majority of it out on a big stage with Clint Eastwood. It’s a scary decision but an exciting one.
Anthony: We are a week away from release and we have shot the movie, promoted it, wrote a book about it and have talked about it all over. At this point it is so weird to be in this place because millions of people are about to see it. It’s just an interesting time and pretty surreal and we are excited for everyone to see it. I just really want to know what everyone thinks of it actually. I want to know how it touches them and makes them feel.
JJ: When you were first approached, did you think the film was going to go as far back into your life as it does? Because you are dealing with a 94 minute film but going back to when you were kids.
Anthony: When Clint picked it up the book I knew there was a strong possibility and I was wondering how much of our childhood he was going to show because I didn’t know how relevant it was. We were all three discussing it amongst ourselves wondering what was relevant to the story and what’s not. It’s weird because when I read the script I wondered why some scenes where there but when I watched the finished product I thought – he’s such a genius. Every scene in there had a theme in it that set up the bigger picture.
JJ: Oh absolutely.
Anthony: No matter how trivial it looked, like going to the principal’s office because that speaks to a bond that we shared even as children. Ever scene mattered and only Clint Eastwood would have a vision like that.
JJ: Did he tell each of you why he decided to use you instead of actors?
Spencer: Not directly, the information we had was of interviews he has done talking about it.
Alek: I’m so glad he did though because the first time we watched the film with our families and having our relationships on camera – the way we talk to each other – even they could tell that’s really how we act. We weren’t being different people so the film really shows that that is who we really are and it’s very accurate.
JJ: Earlier you said that some people were hinting the film was like a documentary and I can see why they might say it even though they are pretty much wrong (the laughing commences again). When you are speaking to each other on the screen there aren’t ‘characters’ acting like you – it’s you three being –well, you three! Again, there is that eavesdropping feeling.
Anthony: Clint didn’t want us to act either. He didn’t want us to…
Alek: …do too much.
Anthony: Yes, do too much. We were trying to be ourselves and not overplay it. He took the weight of a motion picture out of the situation. He said be friends and forget what the script says. He said, ‘you were here and you know how it was, do that and I’ll capture it’. The trust goes both ways because we trusted him to tell the story and he trusted us to just be ourselves. His trust was huge and we didn’t want to disappoint him. We wouldn’t have trusted anyone else to be so personal with our story and when we saw the picture we just wanted to be happy with it and we are. We are thrilled that he did the film justice.
Spencer: I don’t think we would have been happy with the film if it was anyone other than Clint Eastwood.
Anthony: He gave us the confidence to try. We thought if Clint sees something, I don’t know what it was but if he sees something then we will do it.
JJ: Clint always does stories that share something of a character, but here it is the three of you so it is much wider of a story being told.
Anthony: We are all so very different as well.
JJ: Yes, you certainly are.
Anthony: The movie will show that we are three very different individuals. Typically you wouldn’t think we would be friends and not only friends but life long friends. We risk our lives for each other and that’s a huge theme of the film.
JJ: I think you literally proved that.
Spencer: I guess we did.
JJ: One scene that touched me was your troubles Spencer growing up and struggles with the military. I recognize that in you, I can’t exactly say ‘your character’ because it’s you! Did you ever in a million years think all those struggles would be called upon in a fraction of a second?
Spencer: Absolutely not, I felt like even all the way up to the train attack I was feeling very unfulfilled and kind of angry because I felt like that’s all I ever wanted. I felt like joining the military was the first time I ever truly applied myself just to have it stripped from me. It was devastating for me. Then to be put in another career that I wasn’t too excited about and to fail out of that just felt like a huge waste of time. It’s just funny how I would be pushed away from the things I wanted and guided towards the things I needed in my life. I think that wasn’t something I was able to fully comprehend until I went through this experience. Now having that perspective in my life it has much improved how I see things in a hundred different ways. It is something I can carry throughout my life in any situation and just feel calm and at ease and pretty much know that I am here for a reason, I don’t know what that is but I need to trust.
JJ: Life is busy chugging along while you are busy making plans?
Anthony: That’s perfect!
JJ: So Alek, I heard people refer to you as ‘the quiet one’, is that true?
Alek: I mean…depends on the context.
Spencer: It depends on who is around.
Alek: Yea, it does depend on who is around. If it’s these guys then I’m not but other people I might be quiet.
Spencer: If there was a cute girl he would be all chatty.
Alek: Yep, that’s right.
JJ: I kind of got that feeling with the scene in Rome.
Spencer: Oh look at the pretzels!
(a joke that took these boys almost to the floor laughing)
JJ: So Alek, seeing yourself on screen did you see anything about yourself that you didn’t notice before?
Spencer: Oh, good question.
Alek: I think how ridiculous I look sometimes. If you add up between the pretzel scene and me drinking the baby soda it’s like wow, I’m kind of stupid. That’s very accurate to who I am but you don’t notice those idiosyncrasies in an objective manner until you see them on screen.
(Spencer and Anthony are cracking up at Alek’s answer so the Mom in me steps in)
JJ: Stop teasing your brother!
Spencer: (explaining the laughter) Every time we hear a good word we bank it so that we can use it next time. Now we have to look it all up.
Alek: Google it!
JJ: You guys are too much. Okay onto a serious note because we have to go there. Watching the attack scene the train begs the question for you Spencer of how do you manage to do that again? Your face is so focused.
Anthony: You put anything in slow motion and add music to it; it’s going to look good.
(They have fallen out cracking themselves up again)
JJ: Now you will go through the rest of your life putting music and slo-mo in your head to everything you do.
Alek: (still laughing) Right?
Spencer: We have to give the entire credit to Clint and his whole crew. They went into such detail and as far as having the same exact clothes we were wearing that day, the same luggage, being on the exact same train going to Paris – it’s insane. We had Mark and his wife and everyone else there.
Anthony: People think it’s traumatic for us.
JJ: I think that is how most people would see it.
Spencer: Clint knew that we didn’t have much experience and that he was going to do this in a positive way. Being back in the moment for us, Clint made it easy to get back to that moment.
Anthony: The first 24 hours after the attack we went back to the hotel while Spencer went to the hospital. All we wanted to do was to see Spencer, that’s all we wanted. Finally the next day we laughed for like twenty minutes in the car saying ‘can you believe that happened?’ This is the day after!
Alek: I mean we are drinking champagne as the Ambassador’s house talking about a terrorist attack.
Anthony: We are just a bunch of young guys living the dream. Clint Eastwood came along and put the stamp of ‘badass’ on it all for us.
Spencer: I mean if Clint Eastwood says something is badass, then its badass.
JJ: When the attack scene was made, did the adrenaline flow? You can not walk away from that and now feel something about it.
Alek: I would say that while we were shooting the scene the adrenaline absolutely did because those feelings came rushing back. It was very realistic like Spencer said but after it was over we were chilling with the gang again.
Anthony: People expect so much, it’s not that deep, it’s pretty simple. We are pretty simple guys.
Spencer: Not going through something this crazy before and I’m sure there are people who have gone through crazier things in their life before, I feel like we have been able to cope with it very well. It’s not that we aren’t affected by it; it’s just that we have been able to deal with it well.
Anthony: We’ve had the luxury of talking about it on such a large scale whether it’s the initial media frenzy or the book or the movie process. We have talked about it so much.
Alek: We’ve dissected it.
JJ: You have been each other’s therapist.
Spencer: Exactly, that’s why talking about it has been so helpful and therapeutic.
Anthony: We’ve been able to share and it’s out there.
Spencer: Even now we’ve done about 200 interviews and we get to talk with other people and each other in a way that means something to us.
JJ: So being together has made all the difference.
Spencer: Absolutely it has.
Alek: Always together. Whenever one is uncomfortable we have the other to make it easier and joke around like we do. We have three brains. If it had been just one of us on that train we would have been all alone in it.
JJ: Nobody else would understand it.
Alek: Yes, no one would be able to understand it and couldn’t make jokes about it.
Spencer: They would look at you like you were crazy.
Alek: Exactly. Going through it with these two has been fantastic.
JJ: Here is the final question.
Alek: Ut oh!
(Spencer and Anthony laugh with Alek)
JJ: You have said that about a lot of my questions Alek.
Spencer: Getting all serious on you now Alek.
Anthony: Just when we were having so much fun.
JJ: Oh it’s not that tough of a question. Okay, here it is, what would you like the audience to talk about after they see THE 15:17 TO PARIS.
Alek: I would just like them to remember that if they ever are in a situation where they can help – then help. You really don’t have to just stop a terrorist attack to contribute positively to society. If you see a car accident and you don’t know first aid you can call 911 and find someone who does. You can always help by doing something positive. It’s rare because people seem to want to just whip out their cell phones and watch instead of doing something. Also, remembering the importance of friendship.
Spencer: It is important to show how God has played a factor in our life and this is a good way of showing that on such a big stage. Terrorist attacks and things like that we have been asked ‘what advice would you give me to stop an attack’ and I can’t really give you advice because nothing is the same. You are probably more than likely not to be on a train where a terrorist who has a gun that doesn’t go off on you. Nothing is the same but the only thing we can offer as advice without putting someone in a bad position because I’m not telling anyone to run toward a loaded gun. I would never tell anyone to run toward a man with a loaded gun so just ask yourself what you would do and have an answer. That’s all you can do. We have talked about it so many times before it actually happened so something engrained in our minds.
Anthony: I just hope it inspires people. People think there is something special about the three of us and say ‘what do you three have that’s so special’ and I think the movie shows that we are just three guys. Maybe someone will see something of us in themselves and be inspired to know they are capable of being extraordinary themselves and overcome adversity as well. It doesn’t have to be a terrorist on a train, just any obstacle and they need to know that they are on a journey and capable of being extraordinary. It’s not just us.
And that ladies and gentlemen is why I love what I do. These three men shared a moment of time with me and will forever be in the hearts of those they saved. I thought it extremely important to share their playfulness because it is a bond created by their friendship that endured the difficulties of childhood up to the most important moment of their lives.
Yet, it didn’t change their friendship; in fact I see how it made them even closer than can be imagined. Their belief in one another and the ability to not to take life so seriously is the lesson created in childhood and the lesson they take with them from their experience.
That is not to say what happened hasn’t had an effect on their life at all, of course it has, but as they all agree that having their friendship and the ability to lean on each other has made all the difference. We should all be so blessed to have friends like that in our lives.
Experience the journey as director Clint Eastwood brings THE 15:17 TO PARIS to theatres this Friday.
Following the events of Captain America: Civil War, King T'Challa(Chadwick Boseman) returns home to the reclusive, technologically advanced African nation of Wakanda to serve as his country's new leader. However, T'Challa soon finds that he is challenged for the throne from fellow tribes within his own country.
When two foes, Ulysses Klau (Andy Serkis) and Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan)conspire to destroy Wakanda, the hero known as Black Panther must team up with C.I.A. agent Everett K. Ross(Martin Freeman), his sister Shuri (Letitia Wright) and Wakandan royal Guard (Danai Gurira) to keep his people safe, his country at peace, and throne out of the wrong hands. Black Panther is a film that has been a long time coming.
Born out of the summer of ‘66 Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created a character to inspire and represent the black community in a time of civil unrest. The film does a beautiful job of explaining the history of Wakanda as well as the mantle and history of the Black Panther. From the mining of vibranium, the heart shaped herb, to the royal laws of the country, detail and love was put into this film by its writers and director. Technology is advanced in this nation and the story makes sure you know it.
Explaining how the suit works, the effects of the metal, to the mining trains, the use of technology is believable and cool. On the other side is the spirituality and minor mysticism of the people and their traditions. Ancestor worship is a big part of the characters, a little reminiscent of The Lion King.
Boseman has great command and presentation as T’Challa, you believe his sincerity and nobility. The supporting cast around him help to elevate his performance. However, the stand out is Michael B Jordan. Finding redemption from his stint in Fantastic 4, Jordan is a villain who is neglected by his own people early in life and only wants the fair chance of claiming his birthright.
Having him grow up in the real world, feeling the oppression on his community, and wanting to even the odds with the advancements of Wakanda, he is an understood villain. Relatable and current to the times, Erik Killmonger stands out as one of the better adversaries of the MCU; up there with Loki and the Vulture.
While the movie visually cool and the fights feel fresh and new, the overall structure of the story is very familiar. Acts of the story are almost parallel to previous entries, your hero has to fall in order to rise and be truly worthy of his title. I do wish more time had been spent on the monarchy of the country, the burden a son has in carrying the name of their father, acceptance of ones faults.
Overall, Black Panther is a lot of fun, excellent popcorn fodder. However in the pantheon is the MCU, it’s not as great as the Winter Soldier, nor as forgettable as Incredible Hulk. It simply is a good film.
On a side note, while much has been made of this being the first Black superhero in the MCU, he certainly is not in the history of film. Others have come before, with far greater impact in more difficult times. This one just happens to be a king.
From director Ridley Scott (The Martian, Gladiator) comes the thrilling crime drama ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD, available on Digital March 27 and on Blu-ray™ and DVD April 10 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. Academy Award® nominee Michelle Williams (2016, Best Supporting Actress, Manchester by the Sea) and 2017 Academy Award® nominee Christopher Plummer (Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role, All The Money In the World) and Mark Wahlberg (The Fighter, The Departed) star in the explosively entertaining story inspired by the 1973 Getty kidnapping. This Oscar®-nominated thriller makes its eagerly awaited home entertainment debut with must-own bonus features, including 8 deleted scenes and 3 featurettes inspired by the true events of this shocking tale and an inside look at its already-legendary production.
The Gritty Western Action Treks to 4K Ultra HD™ Combo Pack,Blu-ray™ Combo Pack, and DVD on April 24 from Lionsgate
A star-studded cast leads the powerful and critically acclaimed western, Hostiles, arriving on Digital April 10 and on 4K Ultra HD™ (plus Blu-ray and Digital), Blu-ray™ Combo Pack (plus DVD and Digital), DVD, and On Demand April 24 from Lionsgate. The highly successful independent director, Scott Cooper reunites with his Out of the Furnace star and Oscar® winner Christian Bale in what is being hailed by Entertainment Weekly as “the first great western since 1992’s Unforgiven.” Hostiles also stars Oscar® nominee Rosamund Pike , Wes Studi , Primetime Emmy® nominee Jesse Plemons , Golden Globe® nominee Adam Beach, and Ben Foster.
On Bluray Comes the Amazingly Successful Series THE HANDMAID'S TALE
This week on Bluray from creator Bruce Miller based on the 1985 novel by author Margaret Atwood and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment is the stunning THE HANDMAID'S TALE.
The Unite States is coming out of a civil war and a new government called the Gilead is ruling with an iron fist in a twisted mixture of totalitarianism and Bible verses of their own choosing. The first to be put under subjugation are women who are lower than second class citizens. Actually, the only thing lower would be Handmaids, women who still have the ability to bear children in a world of infertility.
June (Elisabeth Moss) is one such woman. After she, husband Luke (OT Fagbenle) and daughter Hannah try to escape the clutches of the Gilead, she is now under the thumb of Aunt Lydia (Ann Dowd) who takes her job of instructing the Handmaid's extremely seriously. Hannah is taken away and she has no idea where to find her or how. Once a woman named June, the red robes and white hat have transformed her into Offred and assigned to bear a child for Commander Fred Waterford (Joseph Fiennes) and wife Serena Joy (Yvonne Strahovski).
While acclimating to this new life, Offred remembers how it all began when her life was normal and she spent time with friend Moira (Samira Wiley). She recalls everything in her old life with such detail that it begins to take its toll on how she handles it all. She also learns that there could be someone in the house that can't be trusted.
Offred becomes nervous when she learns from the Commander's driver Nick (Max Minghella) that the Commander wants to see her in private, something that is strictly forbidden. Explaining it to Ofglen, she learns that there is a resistance group and is told to be very careful. When one of the other Handmaid's gives birth, Offred remembers her life with Luke and the birth of their own daughter.
When Serena Joy wrongly believes there will be a child, Offred is punished and it brings back the memory of how she and Moira tried to get away from what was to happen to them. It is a Latin phrase that Offred discovers in her room that gives her the strength to find another way to survive. Especially when it is suspected that the Commander might not be able to get Offred pregnant and there is a chance that she could be reassigned elsewhere. They both agree to seek out another way.
The Commander is dealing with a Mexican trade delegation that comes to their home for dinner and one of the women of the delegation asks to speak with Offred. Wanting to know about her life and happiness, Offred lies in order to keep the peace in the Waterford home. The story takes a turn when the history of Serena Joy and the Commander comes to light and how a book written before the civil war has come back around. Offred learns that what she thought to be true about Luke has more to the story.
Putting Offred in more danger, the Commander decides to dress her up and take her out for the night. Nick drives them to an unscrupulous part of town where an old friend appears and Offred sees hope for escape but its going to take every ounce of will. Trying to convince the Commander that she has true feelings for him is part of her plan. It all comes under suspicion when another Handmaid named Ofwarren turns the tables on her Commander and puts the fate of a child in danger.
In the finale, what happened to June once she was captured and taken to the Red Center comes to light. It is what happens when Serena Joy discovers what Fred has been doing and in anger tells him something that could threaten everything. Moira finds her way to freedom and Offred finally catches a glimpse of Hannah and in a verbal showdown with Serena Joy – all gloves are off!
The chaos becomes intense when the man responsible for Ofwarren's actions is given his sentence, Aunt Lydia hands down the sentence for Ofwarren and when the Handmaid's refuse to do what they are told - it is Aunt Lydia that saves them from death but at what price?
When the black van pulls up, Offred leaves quietly but June walks out on her own terms!
Moss as June/Offred has the unique ability to give this character such an intense range of emotions. Her anger is barely below the surface and sometimes when she smiles I am quite literally scared of what she may do. That's what brings this character to another level and very deep into that level. When she does have the rare moment to say how she feels, it is a volcanic eruption that should scare everyone around her. Moss has given her own stamp to June/Offred and it is uniquely and underlying brutal.
Fiennes as Waterford is a man who once knew what having a normal life is like. Becoming a Commander has put his life in a place I don't think even he saw coming. When he is kind to Offred, she sees it as a chance to have something normal in her life but he is a man who uses what he needs to in this Gilead world and that includes Offred. His kindness comes at a price and the humiliations he heaps on his wife is a clear message that he has embraced the new ways. Fiennes is handsomely clever in his delivery of every word he speaks.
Strahovski as Serena Joy is a woman who has watched her life turn into something she never expected. The further and further the Gilead take over, the colder and more distance she becomes. She too remembers a life before this new world and who she was in it. Supporting her husband at all times, they begin to become farther and farther apart as she tolerates more and more. Turning to Offred is a chance to have something of her own - a feeling Offred understands. Don’t think Strahovski’s portrayal of Serena Joy is anything less than spectacular but stay away from those retractable claws and venomous actions.
Minghella as Nick has a plan of his own and that is to lay low and watch everything that is happening around him. What he didn't expect is having feelings for Offred. The situation he is put in by Serena Joy makes it even more difficult for him to keep perspective. The dark and brooding look helps keep this character at arms length. He keeps his emotional distance and in doing do gives him the opportunity to observe everything.
Wiley as Moira is that outspoken friend we all have who isn't afraid to make sure the world hears her yell. Her story becomes twisted in a world underneath Gilead. I love Wiley's portrayal of Moira because it’s full of fire and an anger that comes from knowing she isn't going down without a fight. Fagbenle as Luke is a man who believes his family is gone. He believed running was the only possibility for them and when his story is finally told it adds another dimension to a complex story and oh goodness what a twist it is.
Dowd as Aunt Lydia is a woman that is shrouded in mystery. I love Dowd and she can do no wrong in my eyes. I never would have pictured her in this role because, of course, when you read a character you sort of have a picture in mind. Now that I have seen Dowd - she is the true Aunt Lydia. When she played Patti Levin in another series called THE LEFTOVERS along side Justin Theroux, I have come to appreciate her thrilling ability to make you love and hate the character she is wrapped up in all at the same time. Well done Ms. Dowd, extremely well done.
Other cast include Alexis Bledel as Ofglen, Madeline Brewer as Janine, Amanda Brugel as Rita, Nina Kiri as Alma, Ever Carradine as Naomi, Stephen Kunken as Commander Putnam, Sydney Sweeney as Eden, Jenessa Grand as Ofsamuel, Robert Brown as Pryce, Birgitte Solem as Putnam Martha, Angela Vint as Leah, Kristen Gutoskie as Beth and Jordana Blake as Hannah.
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment brings award-winning global product and new entertainment to DVD, Bluray, and Digital HD. There amazing collection offers fans an opportunity to expand their own home libraries with the best films. To discover what other titles they have please visit www.fox.com.
The Bluray and DVD includes three discs with the episodes Offred, Birth Date, Late, Nolite Te Bastardes Carborundorum, Faithfully, A Woman's Place, The Other Side, Jezebels, The Bridge and Night. The Special Features include Script to Screen and Hope in Gilead.
The soundtrack for this series is absolutely amazing and I wouldn't mind having it for myself. The music just adds so much to the story as it unfolds, especially considering that I don't think music would have been accepted in the Gilead world.
I read the book when it came out in 1985 and to be perfectly honest I still have that very same copy in my bookshelf. Having read it countless times, I was surprised when I heard it was becoming a series. Of course the first season is very familiar to me yet I was still riveted. The storyline is even more drawn out and has the opportunity to put in the details that the film didn't have time to.
The look of the series is gripping, twisted, and plays out every emotion whether it is directly in front of you or deep within a characters eyes. This is a cast that has taken a story and made absolutely sure that not one moment is wasted in its telling. This series should definitely be filed under 'binge watching' because there is no way to watch one episode and walk away (she says at 12:30 a.m. after a day of binging).
The flash backs are perfectly placed and enrich the story rather than cause confusion as the characters each have a story that needs telling. In this grey and dingy world that leads to a civil war, there is so much to know and after the rise of Gilead, it is extremely cool to be let in on how it all came to be.
THE HANDMAID'S TALE has won eight of its 13 nominations from the Primetime Emmy Awards including Outstanding Drama Series. The Golden Globes gave the series two awards that included Best Actress for Elisabeth Moss and Best Television Series. Be prepared as THE HANDMAID'S TALE returns to Hulu this April!
In the end - we will bear no more!
The searing crime-thriller Bent arrives on Blu-ray™ (plus Digital), DVD, and Digital May 18 from Lionsgate. The film is currently available On Demand.
When a drug bust goes wrong, ex-cop Danny Gallagher’s (Urban) quest for justice leads him to the car-bomb murder of a government official’s wife. As Gallagher learns that the woman’s secret lover was a seductive federal agent (Vergara) he finds himself under fire. But from whom — his own cops, a vengeful drug lord, the CIA, or someone even more ruthless? This pulse-pounding thriller also stars Andy Garcia and Grace Byers.
BLU-RAY/ DVD SPECIAL FEATURES
“Behind the Scenes of Bent” Featurette
Cast and Crew Interviews
In theatres this Friday from director Roar Uthaug and Warner Bros. Pictures is the beginning adventure of Lara Croft becoming the Tomb Raider.
Lara Croft (Alicia Vikander) is a young woman trying to find her place by making it on her own. She really doesn't need to since her father Lord Richard Croft (Dominic West), who has been missing for seven years, left his daughter an inheritance. When family friend Ana Miller (Kristin Scott Thomas) bails Lara out of a problem, she is told it is time to sign the papers legally declaring her father dead.
Agreeing to finally do so, family lawyer Mr. Yaffe (Derek Jacobi) is presented with a puzzle and in it is something that sets Lara off on a quest for answers. Finding clues to the last place her father went, she discovers a diary and maps along with a cryptex with a story about a Japanese Queen and a power that has the capability of world destruction.
Lara makes her way to the Far East in search of a man named Lu Ren, instead she finds the son, also Lu Ren (Daniel Wu) who is shocked to learn that they have something in common. Explaining that they both need answers about their fathers, Lu and Lara head off to a dangerous island that shows them no mercy.
So much so that the ship is grounded and Lara is washed ashore only to be taken by Mathias Vogel (Walton Coggins). He is thrilled at the new island arrival because she holds the answers he has spent seven years looking for. Lara has no plan on letting Vogel get away with what he is doing and manages to escape. In an adventure within an adventure, she is surprised to find someone else on the island she hasn't expected to see.
Vogel finds the tomb and along with his well weaponized mercenaries forces Lara to go in first and lead them to the final resting place of the Queen of Death. The horror that awaits them is nothing they are prepared for but that isn't going to stop Lara from doing the right thing and save the world!
Vikander as Lara shows the beginnings of Lara Croft and how hard headed and yet still an adrenaline junkie she is. Wanting to avoid signing the papers declaring her father dead, she is told by Ana that if it doesn’t happen, Lara will lose everything that her father built. Vikander literally jumps into action and I can clearly see why she was chosen to be a younger Lara Croft.
Coggins as Vogel has made being a bad guy so deliciously easy. All balled up with anger at being forced to live in a dangerous place for seven years, he isn’t very forgiving. Looking for the one thing that can bring him home means nothing or no one, not even Lara Croft, is going to get in his way. Coggins is an actor who can play a good guy (or gal), a mediocre guy and a bad guy – all with such skill. Can you tell I’m a fan?
Wu as the younger Lu Ren is a boat owner who doesn't want to get involved with Lara's mystery. Talking him into it isn't hard and after being thrown on the island with Lara, he jumps into the action when seeing how wrong everything around him is. Of course I am a serious fan of Wu and if you've seen the AMC series Into the Badlands where he plays Sunny, you'd be hooked on him too.
West as Lord Richard Croft raises his young daughter but leads a very secretive life. As Lara gets older she accepts her father's 'business' trips with ease knowing that her father loves her. West takes the role of Richard and gives the audience a little more back story and experience the father-daughter relationship.
Thomas as Ana has been keeping Croft Holdings up and running for Lara but knows its time for decisions to be made so she doesn't lose what her father has left behind. I have to say I love seeing Thomas taken on a shady character.
Other cast includes: Alexandre Willaume, Tamer Burjaq, Adrian Collins, Keenan Arrison, Andrian Mazive, Milton Schorr and a cameo by Nick Frost.
Okay, time to get real and announce this is where there may be a few spoilers because there is no way to talk about the film without letting things slip here and there. So if you don't want to know - check out right here - still here? Then prepare for a rant.
I want to be taken away and go on an adventure when I'm watching a movie that is suppose to be, well, an adventure. Then a scene takes me completely out of it and I'm spending the rest of the time seeing nothing but what's wrong. Let’s begin being hit by a car, I realize she is Lara Croft but, um, yea, a car usually puts people out of commission for a day at least. Then again I suppose that's what one does when there are daddy issues in the mix.
Then there is a camera left behind seven years after Richard Croft's disappearance. Lara finds it and - low and behold - it works. Really? REALLY? My cell phone can't hold a charge for more than a day and this frikken camera is still working after seven years? Also, knowing a thing or two about keeping a house - is it me or shouldn’t there be more dust and cobwebs in an office that has been left untouched for seven years. I mean not a single cobweb?
Onward trying not to shake my head, the next jaw dropper - I could be wrong but when a tree stabs you in the side and you get sewn up, do you (less than 8 hours later) run top speed through the jungle like Katniss Everdeen hunting President Snow? It could be she is a descendant of Legolas from Lord of the Rings with the ability to run and shoot rapid arrows at close range. Maybe it’s Indian Jones figuring out the traps so that she can get her hands on the Grail? That can’t be possible since Dan Brown has taken care of that faux cup right? Professor Jones must feel sheepish.
I mean seriously we have had the Grail, Priory, Illuminati which, by the way, the original Lara Croft’s father was a part of. Since that’s been covered, it’s on to the new secret sect of crazies called the Trinity. My head is spinning.
Yes, I am completely over it which once again proves to my stubborn self that there is no reason to redo films that are perfectly okay as they are. The thought process should have been this; how about saving millions of dollars and have a Lara Croft: Tomb Raider marathon of the original films and pocket money without out really spending millions. Oh I know, I'm going to get garbage about how old the other film is or how a "new generation" needs a revamp of the story. I'm calling b.s. on that Hollywood.
And as far as the theme song does it really have to be 'Survivor'? This song has been played into the dirt and this is the best you could come up with? What's with calling the film TOMB RAIDER as if Lara Croft is an after thought. Did you think that leaving it off would mean people wouldn't IMDB it to see that this is a remake, rethink, reimaging or anything else re?
So here is the deal - is the film heinous? No, it's just annoying and I hate being annoyed. Is it a good cast? Yes, and in lies another dilemma for me. I don't have issue with the cast at all, I am a Vikander, West and Wu fan and am completely in love with anything Walton Coggins does. I mean really, any guy who can pull off the ever so lovely Venus Van Damn with a heart of gold to sway Tig from Sons of Anarchy fame works for me completely. That’s where my thumbs up ends.
Come on studios! Are you going to rely on Steven Spielberg, Christopher Nolan, Alfonso Cuaron and Spike Jonze to do all the original film heavy lifting forever?