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San Diego International Film Festival Opens This Week

film festival
Jeri Jacquin
This year’s San Diego International Film Festival begins October 15 and ends the 20th managing to pack the schedule with some amazing films, shorts, animation and documentaries. That is what the SDIFF does, bring the filmmakers to show their best with every range of human emotion in every frame.
Opening night begins with the film JOJO RABBIT showing at the beautiful Balboa Theatre downtown. That is followed by a gathering at the to speak with filmmakers, industry and perhaps a celebrity or two. It’s a beautiful way to the start the festival and the weather is usually pretty nice to be able to walk downtown after.
The second day starts with the film SAFE INSIDE which is the story of Ana and Tom traveling across France. Hired to work at an estate in the countryside, secrets are revealed! It is followed by Twisted Humor and Tribes on the Edge. The evening film is Makoto Mioya’s film IMMORTAL HERO and the last film of the evening THE TRUTH.
JoJo Rabbit
Day Three brings a story of a small town who is on the verge of panic when a chemical plant has the potential to interfere with the residents love life with LOVE IN KILNERRY. The next film about a look at the last week of school, friendship and PHILOPHOBIA. Next is a look at Animation Filmmaking with a question & answer session to follow the screening. BELLINGCAT – Truth in a Post-Truth World is a look at what is called ‘citizen investigative journalists’.
The riveting documentary that looks at women and poaching is BREAKING THEIR SILENCE: Women on the Frontline of the Poaching War. Decisive Moments is a look at what is going on in the minds of everyday people.
The film DOING MONEY is a look at sex slaves and trafficking with District Attorney Summer Stephans and City Attorney Maura Elliot will be participating in a question and answer session following the film. 100 DAYS TO LIVE brings a serial killer and the race to stop him.
PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE is the story about a painter in the 18th century who must pain the portrait of a young woman getting married. INSIDE GAME is the real life story of Tommy Martino who came up with a plan, along with his friends, to make money betting on the NBA.
The Irishman
The Opening Night film at ArcLight Cinemas is the Premiere and Afterparty for THE IRISHMAN. Director Martin Scorsese is back with a blockbuster film starring Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino (who we are happy to see together again!).
Day Four brings Waiting for Mamu, a documentary about CNN Hero of the Year Pushpa Basnet who helps the children of Nepal.  The PANEL – Streaming Services 2020 discusses what lies ahead for digital plaforms. HAWAII is the story of a family in communist Romania and a family member that had always been thought dead.
San Diego Scene discuss local filmmakers and its followed by THE GREAT ALASKAN RACE with a story of a champion musher racing to deliver medicine in Alaska that will save lives. BABYSPLITTERS has a couple disagreeing on whether to have a baby and how to solve their stalemate. Global Consciousness brings films that discuss problems and how to handle bringing about solutions.
We Rise Up takes on the continual question of ‘What is Success?’ followed by a question and answer session. Twisted Humor is always a personal favorite because I can almost guarantee the funny will be twisted and I certainly can’t get enough of that!
The Kill Team
SHE IS THE OCEAN is a story of two women who share a love for the ocean and it gives them the power to make their dreams comes true. Strangers in a Strange Land always tests the limits of filmmakers imaginations and they never disappoint with their creative visions up on the big screen.
CLEMENCY is the story of a prison warden who has spent years handling death row executions.
Alfre Woodward stars as Warden Williams, a woman who comes face to face with the issues of her job and a connecting with an inmate she is ordered to execute.
THE TRUTH is a mother and daughter dealing with their personal issues while Mom is working on a sci-fi film When World Collide are films that bring out the best out of the most unexpected people or situations. THE KILL TEAM is the story of a soldier in Afghanistan who witnesses the killing of innocents and must navigate his way to telling the truth. BUCK RUN is a film about memories in rural Pennsylvania from director Nick Frangione.
The evening also includes the NIGHT OF THE STARS TRIBUTE with Laurence Fishburne receiving the Gregory Peck Award for Cinematic Excellence, Pitbull receiving the Music Icon Award, Lindsay Wagner receiving the Humanitarian Award, Jared Harris receiving the Cinema Vanguard Award, Jillian Bell receiving the Fairbanks Award and Camila Morrone receiving the Rising Star Award. It is a night for celebrating and just knowing that Laurence Fishburne and Jared Harris are in the same room together gives me awesome chills!
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Day Five brings a morning PANEL – Development Hell to learn more about the stages of getting an IP in the marketplace and the 48 Hour Film Project brings their creations. ANGELIQUE’S ISLE is the story of a woman who joins her husband to Lake Superior hunting for copper. MY BODY IS NOT A WEAPON bring several women together to learn from one another. Student Shorts highlights the work of student filmmakers from everywhere.
EVE is the story of a young girl who wants one specific role badly but when it goes to someone else, life begins to spiral for them both. The next panel of Unstoppable Women bring together a discussion of filmmaking and defying stereotypes in the entertainment industry.
(Un)clear Intentions asks the question ‘is it real or it fake?’! ORDINARY LOVE is the love story of Joan and Tom and what it means to truly be devoted for better or worse. SAFE SPACES is the story of a professor dealing with events in his life and an ill grandmother added to the pile. The Condor and the Eagle bring four indigidgenous leaders from Canada to the Amazon jungle to bring meaning to climate justice.
SEA OF SHADOWS follows scientists who risk their lives to bring a crime syndicate to justice. A panel about Social Impact follows the film. INSIDE THE RAIN brings a college student and a stripper together in an effort to deal with a potential school expulsion. LIGHT FROM LIGHT brings Sheila to investigate a haunted farm in Tennessee meeting a man who believes his deceased wife is with him.
Motherless Brooklyn
The following panel is Technology in Entertainment followed by the award winning Mongolian film THE STEED. Alluring & Enchanting bring pieces that are funny and full of surprises. CAROL OF THE BELLS has a young man looking for his biological mother who turns out to be disabled.
MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN has Edward Norton directing and staring in a film about the 1950s New York and Lionel, a P.I. with Tourette’s Syndrome. Befriended by Frank Minna played by Bruce Willis,  Lionel is looking into the murder of his friend and won’t stop until he finds answers.
EXTRA ORDINARY is the story of Rose, a young girl with gifts that she tries to hide from. That is until she is put in a position where she can’t hide much longer. PARASITE is writer/director Joon-ho Bong’s film about a family trying to find their way with jobs being scarce. When Ki-woo poses as an English tutor, the mayhem beings!
The evening brings the Filmmaker Awards Show along with an afterparty. It is a celebration with awards for the films voted on by the audience. It’s always fun to see if my list matches the winners.
The final day of the San Diego International Film Festival starts with Culinary Cinema at the Arclight as San Diego Chefs bring their enticing delicacies. It is always a fantastic time to mingle with fellow foodies to talk about the films seen so far at the festival.
TEMBLORES is a story of man coming to terms with who he is and the fallout in his family, the community and a society that just isn’t ready. The Dead Soldier is the story of Jacob Panton who is mortally wounded in Afghanistan. In the operating room he is brought back and this is his story.
Marriage Story
BY THE GRACE OF GOD is the story by Francois Ozon that tells of three men who refuse to remain silent about a priest’s abuse. The Best Global Cinema Winner and Feature Winner  will be announced at the Filmmaker Awards and shown on the final day. A HIDDEN LIFE is the story of Franz Jagerstatter who refused to fight for the Nazis in World War II and the threat of execution for treason.
Finally, to end the San Diego International Film Festival of 2019 is MARRIAGE STORY. Staring Scarlett Johansson, Adam Driver, Laura Dern, Alan Alda and Ray Liotta, the film is written and directed by Noah Baumback. It is the story of a marriage breaking up and still trying to keep a family together.
That’s about it, that’s everything that people can expect from the SDIFF this year and it is a full schedule so wear comfortable shoes! It is always a pleasure to be a part of the film festival as a moderator which I will be doing again this year for look for me while I ask questions and get you to ask even better questions.
For more on the SDIFF and to see the schedule or purchase tickets for films for the fantastic events and parties, please visit https://sdfilmfest.com/passes-and-tickets. Come be part of the scene!
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Prepare to Visit the Savannah Again with Disney’s THE LION KING on Bluray

THE LION KING cover

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to Bluray/DVD and Digital from director Jon Favreau and Disney is the 1994 iconic animated story now come to life with THE LION KING.

In case you come from another solar system I’ll give the story a run down. There is a young cub named Simba (Donald Glover) who is born a prince. Father King Mufasa (James Earl Jones) tries to teach his young son what it is to be a king. He is also learning side lessons from his jealous Uncle Scar (Chitwetel Ejiofor) that get him into a few scrapes.

Along with his best friend Nala, the two explore much to the fright of Mufasa, even if the royal bird Zazu (John Oliver) can’t keep up. Scar gets an idea enlisting the help of the hyenas and their leader Shenzi (Florence Kasumba) to take what he thinks is his.

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Simba is caught up in a stampede that brings death and sadness to the pride and the young prince decides to run. He walks away and meets meerkat Timon (Billy Eichner) and faithful companion Pumbaa (Seth Rogen) who embrace Simba as one of their own.

In the meantime Scar is destroying the valley and Nala (Beyonce) knows it is time to get help. What she doesn’t plan on is running into Simba who is now fully grown. Explaining what has happened, Simba meets Rafiki (John Kani) who shows him why it is important to remember who he is and what it means to be a king.

Glover as Simba is the younger cub prince bringing a bit of playfulness making the little furry growler even cuter. Beyonce as Nala stayed in her lane so to speak meaning I had thought she would have song-wise taken over but instead they kept it easy and lovely.

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Several characters that I enjoyed so much are Oliver as Zazu making me laugh several times with his antics, Kasumba as Shenzi with a tad less humor than her 1994 Goldberg counterpart but still very good and Ejiofor getting a chance to be the devious Uncle Scar.

Eichner and Rogen got all the silliness that made the animated version so much fun. I giggled so much as the antics of Simba’s smaller friends. It must be said that my four year old granddaughter couldn’t stop smiling when these two were on the screen.

Finally, James Earl Jones is the one and only Mufasa and having him once again accept the mantel of King was a wise choice. He is Mufasa and his presence at the beginning and at the most important point of the film’s emotion is something only his voice could capture. It also soothes the ruffled feathers of those who only see Jones as the powerful and loving father.

Other cast include Keegan-Michael Key as Kamari, Eric Andre as Azizi, JD McCrary as Young Simba, Shahadi Wright Joseph as Young Nala and Alfre Woodard as Sarabi.

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Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment began distributing under its own label in 1980 and continues to bring quality programming to kids and kids at heart. Home of the most beloved animated features including SNOW WHITE, PINOCCHIO and SLEEPING BEAUTY to name a few is what keeps families coming back for more. To see what is currently available to add to your own family library please visit. www.movies.disney.com for their At Home titles!

MOVIES ANYWHERE gives viewers the ability to download the Movies Anywhere App. With that you can view films by downloading or streaming to your favorite device using a Digital Code. For more information on Movies Anywhere please visit www.MoviesAnywhere.com.

The Bluray Bonus Extras include with The Journey To THE LION KING Documentary – Behind the Scenes Magic with the Filmmakers and Cast, More to be Scene – Peel Back the Layers of Iconic Musical Moments, “Spirit” Beyonce Music Video, Song Selection – Sing Along with the Movie, Audio Commentary with Director Jon Favreau and so much more!

I can’t fault THE LION KING at all. From the moment the screen is lit up with a beautiful sunrise and music that continues to be recognized with The Circle of Life and I Just Can’t Wait to be King, this is absolutely how it’s done folks! Favreau should be applauded on several fronts – first of all he stayed ever faithful keeping to the original 1994 animated story that has become so iconic and also allowed the songs to once again bring joy.

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The cinematography in the live-action is colorful and lively to the point that it was easy to forget that these lions, hyenas, birds, and the rest weren’t actually real. From the look of joy in Rafiki’s eyes to the sadness in Simba’s eyes, everything that needed to be related emotionally is there. The humor is wonderful in the film and there is a moment between Timon and Pumbaa that gives a nod to a beast of another kind so listen for it.

In the end – the King has returned!

Revisit the Fear Brought by THE OMEN

Omen Collection

Jeri Jacquin

Currently in an amazing box set from Scream Factory is the return of the child terror brought on by THE OMEN.

In 1976, theatre goers were introduced to someone they had never seen brought to the screen before. A little boy named Damien Thorn (Harvey Stephens) and that name strikes terror in more than one film. Director Richard Donner brought the story to life as US Ambassador Robert Thorn (Gregory Peck) and his wife Katherine (Lee Remick) have a good life. Wanting a child after a tragedy while in Italy, a priest gives them a healthy baby boy who lost his mother.

Tragedy seems to follow the couple as their nanny suddenly dies and Mrs. Baylock (Billie Whitelaw) arrives to take care of young Damien. As more mysterious events occur, Thorn is approached by Father Brennan (Patrick Troughton) who tries to explain that Damien is something inhuman. By now Katherine has become suspicious of her son and discovering she is pregnant, fears for them all.

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Photographer Keith Jennings (David Warner) also tells Thorn that something is amiss in their family. Going to Rome to discover the boy’s parentage, the mystery intensifies as the men discover that the records burned in a fire and hurt a priest. As the story becomes clearer and clearer, life at home is becoming more and more dangerous. It is when a man name Bugenhagen (Leo McKern) tells Thorn everything and how to make it stop, does a father decide what he is able to do to and for his son.

The Special Features of the Bluray include 4K Remaster of the Film from the Original Negative, New Interviews with Author David Seltzer and Actress Holly Palance and more, Audio Commentary with Director Richard Donner and Editor Stuart Baird, Audio Commentary with Richard Donner and Filmmaker Brian Helgeland, Audio Commentary with Film Historians Lem Dobbs, Nick Redman and Jeff Bond, Isolated Score, Introduction by Richard Donner, Theatrical Trailer, TV Spot, Radio Spots, Still Gallery and more!

In DAMIEN OMEN II (1978) directed by Don Taylor and Mike Hodges, Damien (Jonathan Scott-Taylor) is now thirteen and living with his uncle Richard Thorn (William Holden), aunt Ann (Lee Grant) and cousin Mark (Lucas Donat). It is also a time that Damien begins to feel as if there is something he isn’t being told. At school Sgt. Neff (Lance Henriksen) starts to guide Damien and at Thorn Industries, Paul Buher (Robert Foxworth) leans towards the best interests of Damien.

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Someone who is keeping an eye on the boy is Charles Warren (Nicholas Pryor). When he discovers information about Damien, he tries desperately to reach out to Richard to prove that Damien is behind all the mysterious things that continue to happen. Seeing for himself, Richard now knows that his own family is in danger. He also understands what really happened to his brother Robert all those years ago.

The problem is that Damien now understands who he is and how much power he has to wield and that means everyone is in danger!

The Special Features of this Bluray include New Interviews with Actors Lee Grant, Robert Foxworth and Elizabeth Shepherd, New Audio Commentary with Special Project Consultant Scott Michael Bosco, Audio Commentary with Producer Harvey Bernhard, Theatrical Trailer, TV Spot, Radio Spot and Still Gallery.

THE OMEN III: The Final Conflict (1981) is the third film directed by Graham Baker and looks at Damien (Sam O’Neill) as an adult now running Thorn Industries. In this film, Damien has an agenda but so does a group of monks led by Father DeCarlo who know who he is and using the Seven Daggers of Megiddo to stop him. He also has learned that the Christ-child has been born again and he puts in motion a horrific plan to stop him from seeing adulthood.

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Kate Reynolds (Lisa Harrow) is a Mom to son Peter (Barnaby Holm) and journalist who begins an affair with Damien. He is charming to both of them but there is something that isn’t quite right and she is determined to find out what it is not knowing the danger she is in. Peter has become enthralled with Damien and becomes his informant to make sure everyone is being loyal to him.

It all comes to a final confrontation but one is stronger than the other!

The Special Features of this Bluray include New Interviews with Director Graham Baker, Writer Andrew Birkin and Production Assistant Jeanne Ferber, New Audio Commentary with Special Project Consultant Scott Michael Bosco, THE OMEN Legacy Documentary, Audio Commentary with Graham Baker, Theatrical Trailer and Still Gallery.

OMEN IV: The Awakening (1991) directed by Jorge Montesi and Dominique Othenin-Girard  if the final film of the series. Congressman Gene York (Michael Woods) and wife Karen (Faye Grant) go to an orphanage to adopt a child they so desperately want. Naming her Delia, one sister is particularly upset when the child leaves.

At home it is almost immediate that mysterious things begins to happen but the couple is trying not to let it interfere with their happiness at having a child. Years later a dog named Ryder befriends and becomes protective of young Delia (Asia Vieira) and the two become inseparable. It is also about the time that things begin to happen that Delia’s doctor blame on her going through puberty.

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Karen isn’t exactly happy with Delia’s rude and rough behavior towards almost everyone. The school and other parents constantly come to the parents with problems and are met with Delia’s tearful explanation that the accusations aren’t true. Exhausted all the time, Karen hires Jo (Ann Hearn) and the young woman wants to be a friend to Delia but is met with resistance. Giving Delia a gift of healing stones, Jo is shocked to see that every one of them turns black!

As the happenings become darker and more dangerous, Karen discovers she is pregnant and something tells her that Delia isn’t going to let the child be born. Husband Gene doesn’t understand how she could ever believe that but puts it all on the stress of his wife’s pregnancy. Karen takes it a step further by hiring a private investigator to discover who Delia’s parents are. Detective Knight (Michael Lerner) finds the upset nun Sister Yvonne (Meghan Leicht) but horror breaks out leaving him to discover newspaper clippings that are shocking.

The birth of the York’s son Alexander brings more intensity for Karen but when she finally puts the pieces together, what she discovers is horrifying.

The Special Features of this Bluray include New Interview with Writer Brian Taggert, 666: The Omen Revealed Documentary and Still Gallery.

THE OMEN rebooted in 2006 directed by David Seltzer with Liv Schreiber as Robert Thorn, Julia Stiles as Katherine Thorn, Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick as Damien and Mia Farrow as Mrs. Baylock. Although an updated cast, the story remains reminiscent of the original 1976 film but with political implications at the end of who is holding little Damien’s hand.

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The Special Features of this Bluray include Audio Commentary with Director John Moore, Producer Glenn Williamson and Editor Dan Zimmerman, “Abbey Road Sessions” Featurette, “Revelations 666” Featurette, Unrated Extended Scenes and Extended Ending.

SHOUT! Factory has grown into a tremendous multi-platform media company. Releasing new animated features such as the exquisite Long Way North, and the epic fantasy Beauty And The Beast. Also their own original horror film, Fender Bender gives fans a good scare. For more of what SHOUT Factor has to offer please visit www.shoutfactory.com.

This is an awesome collection of films beginning with the original THE OMEN. The films brought about a healthy fear of a little kid and continued it all the way to adulthood and beyond. Damien Thorn begins as a child who has a look that scared everybody to a teenager who tests his abilities on anyone he wants to and an adult who seems to have no conscience. Changing things up with THE OMEN: Awakenings brings even more twists letting us all know that the fear didn’t die!

Each film picks up with the powers of Damien and those who try to get in his way. This is the ultimate good versus evil collection of films with each racing against forces they cannot see but still driving themselves forward to finish what Thorn started in 1976. THE OMEN was so well done that even when I saw them in the 70’s the question became ‘when will the next film come with answers?’ The funny thing about that is we didn’t get all the answers we wanted but sure went on the ride none the less.

Now, Scream Factory brings together all of THE OMEN films so that a late night, lights off, popcorn full and couches comfy kind of binging that is worth every minute. It was fun for me to revisit the films and I’m thinking it’s going to be a yearly spooky marathon. It is a box set worthy of its own place in anyone’s home entertainment library.

In the end – we have been warned time and time again!

STRANGE BUT TRUE Will Shock and Jaw Drop

Strange Cover

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to Bluray and Digital from director Rowan Athale, CBS Films and Lionsgate is a family in mourning until a shock knocks on their door with a story that is STRANGE BUT TRUE.

It has been five years and Philip (Nick Robinson) is a young man deal with the death of his brother Ronnie (Connor Jessup) and how it has effect mom Charlene (Amy Ryan) and estranged dad Richard (Greg Kinnear). Making things more interesting is the knock on the door by Melissa (Margaret Qualley), Ronnie’s girlfriend at the time of his death.

The shock is that Melissa is very pregnant and tells Charlene and Philip that the father is Ronnie. Unable to explain why she believes it, Charlene immediately goes into freak out mode. Trying to understand why she would make up such a story, Charlene begins to research her thought process.

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In the meantime, Melissa is living in a small house on the property of friends Gail (Blythe Danner) and husband Bill (Brian Cox). The couple see her as the daughter they never had and are mystified about her reason for keeping the identity of the baby’s father from them.

Philip begins to friend Melissa and wants to help, especially because she could be telling the truth about the baby’s paternity. Charlene reaches out to Richard trying to find answers since he is a doctor. They can’t help but snap at one another because of the hurt feelings and animosity that has grown over the years between the two.

That doesn’t stop Charlene from slowly ruling out scenarios but the secrets are starting to slowly unravel on their own. In the cross of it are Philip, Melissa and the truth about her baby!

Robinson as Philip is a young man dealing with the death of his brother but getting his own life twisted in the meantime. That’s why he reaches out to Melissa as a connection to Ronnie by someone who cared for him just as much as he did. Robinson has a scene where he finally speaks out about his feelings and it is full of all the emotions his character has been keeping hidden, this young actor nails it.

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Ryan as Charlene is full of anger for both the death of her son and the death of her marriage. Ronnie’s girlfriend is the last person she wants to see let alone see her pregnant with a story about paternity. Ryan gives this character righteous anger and emotions of a mother who can’t find a place for her grief. Kinnear as Richard looks for solace from his grief far from home and with someone else. He has secrets of his own and the question is how much longer can he kept them hidden?

Qualley as Melissa believes what she believes and doesn’t concern herself with whether anyone trusts her word. She knows that her friendship with Gayle and Bill will give her time to have her baby and go from there. Danner as Gayle is a loving friend who never had children of her own. Friending Melissa makes her feel as if she has a chance to be motherly. Danner is always a force on the screen no matter if it’s big or small. Cox as Bill loves his wife dearly and lets her know it. His concern for Melissa is ever present and sees her child as something joyful for Gayle and that’s important for him. Cox is not front and center in the film but his presence is palpable.

Other cast include Janaya Stephens as Pilla, Mena Massoud as Chaz, Sarah Allen as Holly, Darryl Flatman as Vaughn and Allegra Fulton as Chantrel.

Lionsgate is a global leader in motion picture production and distribution for theatres, television, home entertainment and more. Theatre franchises include THE HUNGER GAMES, and DIVERGENT along with JOHN WICK. Now, adding this film to its 16,000 motion picture and television titles you can see everything coming soon as well as available now at http://www.lionsgate.com.

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STRANGE BUT TRUE is a film that has so many twists and turns one could easily get whiplash. In the mixture of grief and anger are two stories that will merge together but not with an ending anyone would expect. This is an interesting cast that has been put together to tell the story because as each secret comes out, the reaction and next secret just muddies the waters again so well done.

So don’t blink or the connections will fly by and don’t make too much noise eating popcorn or you won’t hear what is shocking or you’ll forget you have a mouth full of popcorn because your jaw will be dropping. STRANGE BUT TRUE is reinforces what happens when a family has secrets, tells themselves lies and let anger control every move.

In the end – some things are impossible to conceive!

ANGEL OF MINE Brings Mystery to Bluray

Angel cover
Jeri Jacquin
Coming to Bluray/DVD, Digital and currently on VOD from director Kim Farrant and Lionsgate is the unbelievable mystery wrapped in the ANGEL OF MINE.
Lizzie (Noomi Rapace) has spent the last several years of her life drifting because of a terrible fire accident at the local hospital. She has been so deep in her emotions that husband Mike (Luke Evans) has moved out and son Thomas (Finn Little) is being effected. When Mike tells Lizzie that their son needs to come live in a less dark place, Lizzie is even more distraught.
Living on medications from her therapist and a job that just fills in the time, she happens to see the young Lola (Annika Whiteley) picking up Thomas from school. She is drawn to the child in such a way that she goes out of her way to meet Mom Claire (Yvonne Strahovski). Friending each other, their sons get along very well.
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Lizzie spends moments with Lola and can’t understand why there is a strange draw to the girl. Claire and husband Bernard (Richard Roxburgh) notice but don’t make a big deal about it as they are trying to sell their home for a move. As the days go by, Claire becomes more and more aware of Lizzie and becomes disturbed.
The obsession takes over Lizzie’s life to the point that everyone notices and an intervention happens with Mike taking their son and the therapist suggests inpatient care. Lizzie isn’t about to let anyone change her feelings for Lola because she believes something that they could never comprehend.
That belief might drive her to an even darker place!
Rapace as Lizzie is a young mother suffering by trying to be something everyone wants her to be and that’s ‘normal’. Her day to day becomes a struggle to the point where son Thomas can’t find happiness either feeling pulled into her medicated world. Rapace does such an amazing job of portraying a mother who has had her life taken over by everyone and afraid of her own feelings.
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Strahovski as Claire is a mother who is happy with her family and sees that something is becoming strange with Lizzie. She will do anything to protect her family as Lizzie pops up unexpectedly to often fixated on her daughter Lola. Strahovski is a strong character who isn’t about to let anyone hurt her family.
Evans as Mike is a man who can not seem to find a way to reach his estranged wife. He tries to tell her that it is tearing everyone apart but can’t seem to reach her. He wants what is best for his son and at the moment – it isn’t his mother. Roxburgh as Bernard tries to be kind to Lizzie and excuse some of her odd behavior but eventually he comes to understand his wife’s concerns.
Little as Thomas is the one who suffers with a father who is no longer in the home and a mother who is in the home but isn’t there for him. He doesn’t want to be apart from his mother but it is all becoming to much for him and that’s the sadness of it. Whiteley is a very charming young lady who has such a beautiful smile. She likes Lizzie and doesn’t seem to feel any danger at all.
Other cast include Pip Miller as Carl, Tracy Mann as Lena, Indi Serafin as Jeremy, Rob Collins as Brian, Emily Gruhl as Courtney, Natalia Rozpara as Majka and Mirko Grillini as Dr. Armand.
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Lionsgate is a global leader in motion picture production and distribution for theatres, television, home entertainment and more. Theatre franchises include THE HUNGER GAMES, and DIVERGENT along with JOHN WICK. Now, adding this film to its 16,000 motion picture and television titles you can see everything coming soon as well as available now at http://www.lionsgate.com.
ANGEL OF MINE  is an intense psychological thriller that doesn’t give itself away. There is a fine line between what Lizzie thinks she sees and what is true. Trying to be a wife doesn’t work, trying to be a good mother fails, trying to be a good daughter only brings judgement and just being a person is painful.
Rapace manages to handle all that in one character and do it extremely well. Then again I might be a tad partial because I have always enjoyed her performances since seeing her in the 2009 THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO. She took one of my favorite characters from book to screen and I’ve followed her ever since.
She has such an intensity and that is absolutely required to play the role of Lizzie. She has the mannerisms, expressions and sense of urgency that this character needed to be believable. Add to the Strahovski and these two women bring this story to a climax that made my jaw drop. Well done ladies!
In the end – there are two sides to every secret!

It is the Return of THE ADDAMS FAMILY

addams
Jeri Jacquin
Double snapping into theatres this week from directors Greg Tiernan, Conrad Vernon, Bron Studios and MGM is the return of our favorite differences with THE ADDAMS FAMILY.
After being chased out of their home, the Morticia (Charlize Theron) and Gomez (Oscar Isaac) Addams decide to start over and find a place where no one would bother them landing on a hill in New Jersey. As time goes by the couple have daughter Wednesday (Chloe Grace Moretz) and son Pugsley (Finn Wolfhard) along with Lurch and Thing.
Down below in the valley, television star and home renovator Margaux Needler (Allison Janney) has created the town of Assimilation. When she sees the house on the hill the plan for her show finale is born. Trying to get the Addams to allow her to make that happen falls on death ears as Morticia isn’t about to ruin her beautifully dark home. Agreeing with her is Gomez’ brother Fester (Nick Kroll) who is more than happy to say so.
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Wednesday meets Parker (Elsie Fisher), an unhappy teen who is a different kind of unhappy that Wednesday’s usual unhappy unhappiness. A friendship blossoms and she wants to attend school to see the world. Morticia is a little hurt but she takes her mind off it with the special family event planned for Pugsley.
Margaux is also planning an event of her own and to make it happen, she begins a campaign of fear with the people of Assimilation. Using social media to get the job done, daughter Parker can’t believe she is doing it. Both Wednesday and Parker decide to make their teenage protests known loud and clear.
The Addams’ are under scrutiny from their own family and the town which means only one thing – family sticks together no matter what!
Theron as Morticia has the calming voice of a mother on the death side of life. She only wants her family to be terribly unhappy and that means letting go of things a bit. What she learns is that if she is patient, all her fears will be realized. Isaac as Gomez wants Pugsley initiated into the family with tradition but learns that we are all good at some things and not all and perhaps that’s okay too. Both of these are loving parents that only want the worst for their children and I love that about them.
Moretz as Wednesday is a young girl who just wants to see what’s beyond the metal toothed gates of the Addams home. Once she does, no one worries for her because this girl isn’t to suffer fools lightly. Wednesday knows who she is and it’s time for everyone else to know that too. Wolfhard as Pugsley is more like his Uncle Fester than Gomez realizes. He is good at creating destruction but not so light on his feet.
Kroll as Fester is just funny but then again I’d expect nothing less. Thing and Lurch aren’t about to be left out of this story nor should they because even though they don’t say much – action speaks louder than words or in Lurch’s case a good ole fashioned eye roll.
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Janney as Margaux Needler is viciously hilarious with her crazy idea regarding the town she rebuilt and the pressures from the networks. If she wasn’t so normally insane I’d think she’d make a fantastic Addams! Fisher as daughter Parker just wants something different in her life – enter Wednesday!  Each girl wants to walk in the other’s shoes and once given the chance they learn it’s only a step up to being even better friends.
Other cast include Snoop Dogg as It, Bette Midler as Grandma, Martin Short as Grandpa Frump, Catherine O’Hara as Grandma Frump, Tituss Burgess as Glenn, Jenifer Lewis as Great Auntie Sloom, Aimee Garcia as Denise and Conrad Vernon as Lurch.
This version of THE ADDAMS FAMILY comes directly from the comic by Charles Addams that appeared in The New Yorker in 1938.  Television would bring their own version of these characters in the 1960’s with Carolyn Jones and John Astin as the devoted Morticia and Gomez.
In 1991 and 1993, THE ADAMS family appeared on the big screen with Raul Julia and Anjelica Houston in the roles of Gomez and Morticia. They actually gave the characters a darker look but still kept the loving side of their relationship. Although I adore the original television series, I came to embrace the films because that was the Morticia and Gomez I wanted to see and didn’t even realize it.
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Now animated on the big screen this isn’t the first time they have been ‘cartooned’. What is a little different with this film is taking the characters from their original 1938 visual form. I’m not sure I can get with Isaac voice as Gomez but it will have to do. What I can say is that my granddaughter had a great time laughing, snapping and wide eyed that I knew the words to the song.
There is something for everyone in this version of THE ADDAMS FAMILY and it will reach all age groups from the first of us to watch the television series to the next who experienced the 90’s films. Each iconic character brings what we’d expect wrapped up in animation that is fun. It’s about family, friendships, love on their own terms and seeing the world in a unique way makes THE ADDAMS FAMILY someone I’d love to live next door too!
In the end – think your family is weird, think again!

GEMINI MAN Pits Smith Against Smith

gemini
Jeri Jacquin
In theatres this Friday from Oscar winning director Ang Lee, Skydance Media and Paramount Pictures bring a twist of DNA to Gemini Man.
Henry Brogan (Will Smith) is a hired gun and the absolute best in his field. After a mission comes close to going wrong, Brogan decides it is time to retire. Making sure it is what he truly wants, Del (Ralph Brown) pays him a visit to find out why. Brogan makes his feelings clear and loads up to head out fishing.
Gassing up on the dock he meets Danny (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and heads out to meet Jack (Douglas Hodge) who tells him that his last hit was a set up by his own government. Not wanting to believe that it could be possible, Brogan is about to find out.
Back at the dock he figures out who Danny really is and lets it be known that she can go on her way. What he doesn’t know is that agency director Janet Lassiter (Linda Emond) is working with someone Brogan knows from the past – Clay Verris (Clive Owen). Putting the pieces together proves to be difficult as everyone around him is dealt with.
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He reaches out to his friend Baron who also knows Verris and tells Danny that he isn’t someone to be trifled with. Now they are off to Budapest to meet with someone who knows why Brogan’s life is in danger but there is someone following them.
Seemingly out of nowhere, an assassin takes on the chase with Brogan through the streets. Brogan and the assassin are a perfect fighting match and this doesn’t go unnoticed by Danny. The young killer is sent by Verris to take out Brogan because of what he might know, but it’s what the assassin doesn’t know that will shock them all.
Smith as Brogan and Junior, oh wow I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but they are boring, predictable and pretty much like watching I, ROBOT. Only in this film Junior is Sonny and Brogan is mixture of Del and Dr. Lanning. If you haven’t seen I, ROBOT then you can stop here and go on your blissful way. I suppose I’m not suppose too criticize Smith in this way seeing as he is an icon action film star but then again to those thinking it I say ‘so what?’. The truth is maybe he needs some criticism, dude, don’t do a movie that looks like another movie you’ve done and call it original. It drives me nuts!
Winstead as Danny is pretty much there to pick up the pieces and be Brogan’s excuse for a hostage to make deals with the dark side of the government. Of course she doesn’t want to go because in her heart she knows Brogan’s a good guy and is going to stick with him to the very end. Danny, you don’t need a man to feel as if you’re doing good for humanity girl, well, you did get a trip to Budapest and all you got was a lousy assassin chasing you – not even a t-shirt!
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Owen as Verris gets to be the psycho scientist bad guy who just wants to watch the world burn his way although he attempts to justify his experiments which sounds like babble. He seems to have everybody in government right in his very handsome pocket which makes being evil even easier. Not sure what the story really was between Verris and Brogan but somebody got their little feelings hurt, you decide which one.
Kudos to Wong for taking the time to be the cool dude in the film. We can never have enough good distractions. Brown as Del is just a dude ruining a friendship and Emond was, well, I’m not sure what her purpose was other than to be subservient to Verris’ character.
Other cast include Theodora Miranne as Kitty, Ilia Volok as Yuri Kovacs, E.J. Bonilla as Mario.
The story is fast giving no time to understand the misunderstood loner assassin character but then again I guess because it’s Will Smith we should already understand? Look, if I’m shifting in my seat more than once an hour then I’m not impressed by what’s on the screen and I shifted so much that the person behind me was getting irritated.
Is the Smith vs. Smith thing cool? Sure, but not to the point that I am thinking it’s the most awesome thing ever. Although, during the fight scene all I could think of was Jim Carrey in the 1997 film LIAR LIAR when he’s in the bathroom wailing on himself and the guy asks what he is doing getting the reply ‘I’m kickin’ my ass do you mind!’. That’s exactly what went on in my head which caused a sudden outburst of laughter. Hey, I’m old I can get away with stuff like that.
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The young Junior is a purse-lipped scowler who seems to spend more time on the screen with tears in his eyes which doesn’t read assassin to me. He clearly has daddy issues and it doesn’t help when these issues surface while he’s holding a very large semi-automatic weapon. DNA adjustments may make for a perfect killer but it doesn’t make up for having a conscience, sorry Clive Owen. The good news is that the clone looks like Smith back in the day but the bad news is that it looks like a clone of Smith back in the day with photoshop.
Look, it’s an action adventure film from start to finish and I think that’s the wow factor. Lee decided to make a film that has cool special effects and let the story go where ever it wanted to. The cloning thing is great but once the cat is out of the bag so are the fun and games and let’s face it, no one is going to get rid of Will Smith unless it’s a tub full of exotic jelly fish and Smith wants it that way (reference to the 2008 film SEVEN POUNDS…keep up people!). I don’t know, maybe I’m still blue shocked from his screen time in ALADDIN – probably need therapy now.
In the end – who will save me from both of them!

It’s a Crash Landing for LUCY IN THE SKY

Lucy
Jeri Jacquin
Coming to theatres this Friday from director Noah Hawley and Fox Searchlight Pictures is the story of space and life when your feet are back on the ground for LUCY IN THE SKY.
Lucy (Natalie Portman) has just returned from an incredible experience in space. Getting back to life at home with husband Drew (Dan Stevens) and niece Blue (Pearl Dickson), Lucy also focuses on when she will have the opportunity to go up again. Working hard and training every chance she gets, Lucy realizes that just because she has been in space once doesn’t mean there aren’t others waiting in line.
She meets Mark Goodwin (Jon Hamm) who is also training to go into space. Mark tries to get Lucy to lighten up a little and join in the fun with other astronauts. Being very focused on the next mission, Lucy lets herself go for a moment and Drew is supportive.
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Lucy finds herself in an awkward place when feelings rise up for Mark and a relationship begins. She also discovers who she is up against for the next seat into space, a very young Erin Eccles (Zazie Beetz). Encouraging her to remember what she wants is Nana Holbrook (Ellen Burstyn) who is the touchstone that Lucy keeps close.
As things become more serious, Lucy finds herself in a place she has never been before and her ability to handle it becomes jaded. What she wants and what she needs becomes blurred and Lucy becomes unable to express her anxiety. She pulls on the life thread and when things unravel, a side of her is set lose and there is no turning back.
Portman as Lucy is, unfortunately, flat and not fun to watch. There is this weird accent she is trying (I’m assuming she’s trying) and it just doesn’t work. What it does manage to do is annoy the living daylights out of me and bring me back to 2010 and another unhinged character in BLACK SWAN. There isn’t anything in this character that I mentally want to hold on to but in fact would have no problem cutting the cord to send it into another universe. Obviously I’m not thrilled to have spent two hours sitting in a theatre watching a hot mess when I could have been home watching Below Deck on Bravo.
Hamm as Mark is just a skuzzy user of women and there is nothing redeeming about him either. It doesn’t do anything for NASA’s image to have him re-play Garrett Breedlove from the 1983 film TERMS OF ENDEARMENT as another astronaut womanizer. The only difference between Lucy and Aurora Greenway I could watch on screen forever.
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Beetz as Erin is side candy which is unfortunate. Playing the ‘women have to stick together’ card it actually turned into ‘women have to stick each other’ and it gets all messy and boring. Stevens as Drew gets the shaft in this story and I actually felt bad for the actor AND the character. Dickson as Blue just wants something more in her life instead of a crappy dad, an opinionated grandmother and an Aunt who can’t keep it together.
Burstyn as Nana Holbrook was under used in this film. Why do they continue to put these amazing actresses in roles that have bite and then take their teeth? Burstyn is an actress in every sense of the word and here she is stuck in a bed once again reliving her 2014 deathbed scene as the older Murph in INTERSTELLAR.
Other cast include Colman Domingo as Frank Paxton, Jeremiah Birkett as Hank Lumch, Jeffrey Donovan as Jim Hunt, Tig Notaro as Kate Mounier, Stella Edwards as Chelsea, Arlo Mertz as Emily, Tobias Schonleitner as Miles Henckle, and Diana DeLaCruz as Dr. Addison.
Okay, so a few weeks ago I sat through AD ASTRA and I wasn’t thrilled much by that film either. It had its moments and the cinematography was pretty cool. LUCY IN THE SKY just put AD ASTRA higher up on the scale of films I might sit through again. What is it with these space films that there has to be this epiphany about life. Oh how small we are compared to the universe. I mean did you have to really go to space to find that out? I’m on the ground and I know that…saved a ton on rocket fuel and space junk floating out into space.
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Seriously, doesn’t NASA do some kind of testing on these people to see how they will handle space before and after because these movies don’t seem to show that. Instead its always something going wrong (GRAVITY for example) and THEN they get the meaning of life? Hey NASA, don’t use this as a recruitment film. This movie doesn’t even have cool space scenes!
Instead, the film decides to make a woman look crazy because she saw the earth from space. I truly wasn’t invested in the storyline and didn’t care whether she went back to space and the rest was just surface noise, 124 minutes of surface noise. The cheery noise on the cake was the sappy version of the most cool of Beatles songs – way to make sure the knife goes all the way in eh? To just put it all out there, I feel like I’ve been space punk’d once again! Give me Tom Hanks in APOLLO 13 any day and you can keep the rest.
In the end – in space no one can hear me scream!

THE WARRIOR QUEEN OF JHANSI

warrior queen

 Jeri Jacquin
Coming to theatres from director Swati Bhise and Roadside Attractions is a tale of battle and the unexpected warriors who fight it with THE WARRIOR QUEEN OF JHANSI.
Rani Lakshmibai (Devika Bhise) is a young woman married into the royal family becoming Queen of Jhansi. Happy in her marriage, the only unhappiness is the loss of a child yet the adoption of a nephew means a prince and the royal line to continue. Witnessing the adoption is Major Robert Ellis (Ben Lamb) and Sir Robert Hamilton (Nathaniel Parker). Not long after that, husband Gangadhar Rao passes as well.
As the years move on, the East India Company attempts to crush Indian provinces and Lakshmibal is a Queen in their way. Queen Victoria (Jodhi May) understands and makes it clear that she doesn’t want the people hurt. The one person who doesn’t care about that is Sir Hamilton. He considers all the people of India savages and wants to crush them under his boots.
Major Ellis has been a friend to Lakshmibai for years and tries to explain to Major General Sir Hugh Rose (Rupert Everett) that the Queen only wants what is best for her people. Attack after attack, Lakshmibai reaches out to the Indian people to come together because the British soldiers no longer have respect for their friendship.
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Bhise as Lakshmibai is stunning in her portrayal of the Jhansi Queen. Learning from the men around her, there comes a time when she must say out loud ‘I am capable’ and when she does they listen. Bhise gives her character a fearlessness wrapped in the beauty of a sari that is belted with a sword. I see it as saying ‘never forget that I may be the woman but can fight like a man’. Remember a certain red-headed Queen who believed that about herself?
Lamb as Ellis watches the Queen grow into her responsibilities. He may have feelings for and want to protect her but he also understands what she is doing. There is a conflict for him in being an officer and a man. He tries his best to be on both sides but in this case it may just be too much to ask.
Parker as Hamilton is just a plain out and out cruel, savage human being. He doesn’t want there to be a peace, he wants to kill every last person who gets in his way. He lies, manipulates and lay in wait when no one is around to do his dirty deeds. The character of Parker is just a reflection of others in that time who felt the exact same way. Parker really does this character evil.
Everett as Maj. Gen. Rose hears both sides but has his orders. The only problem is I’m never really sure what his side is? He says one thing and yet does another knowing that Hamilton is just an instigator. He trusts Ellis but yet doesn’t show it. He is truly a confusing character but I’m happy to see Everett on the screen once again.
May as Queen Victoria is a monarch who doesn’t want to choose sides but it is her friendship with Saleem Khan that helps her see the sadness of it all. The orders she gives are not followed and there fall out (but not enough for my liking). Omar Malik as Saleem makes certain that Queen Victoria understands the struggle and isn’t afraid of any Englishman.
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Other cast include R. Bhakti Klein as Walrus Moustache, Glenn Webster as Lord, Nagesh Bhonsie as Bakshish Ali and Derek Jacobi as Lord Palmerston.
This film once again speaks about the era where one group of people feel that another group are savages because they have their own culture, beliefs, traditions and spirit to hold onto their country.
Under the leadership of Lakshmibai, the fight didn’t start because of her and it certainly didn’t stop because of her. She instilled a sense of right for her people and it carried on to others even when The East India Company was abolished much to the hostility of Sir Hamilton.
India is a country filled with a history that is absolutely stunning and majestic and THE WARRIOR QUEEN OF JHANSI shows just that. The richness of tradition is equal to the costuming and music that is so haunting but hits the soul. The cast brings this story full circle with all of these elements combined.
This film is a history lesson yes but more than that. It is a story of a people who understand that it is their duty to fight to keep who they are. They continually make it clear that no one has the right to take away what they hold dear and I couldn’t appreciate that more.
In the end – she fought and died for the freedom of her people.

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