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The Ladies are Bringing on THE HUSTLE

The Hustle cover

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to Bluray/DVD and Digital from director Chris Addison and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment comes a double whammy comedy with THE HUSTLE.

Penny Rust (Rebel Wilson) is a bit of a grifter and takes a few bucks here and there.  When pickings start to get slim she decides its time to head for Europe to broaden her thieving horizons.

On a train watching Penny at work is Josephine Chesterfield (Anne Hathaway) and she is about to learn more about her. Realizing that Penny could be a problem, Josephine finds a little help to get her out of the country. The problem is at the airport is Penny learns who Josephine really is and isn’t about to sit for it.

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Finding where she lives, Josephine decides that the best way to keep Penny occupied is to train her in the ways of thievery just enough to use her. Going head to head a challenge is in place – choosing a mark and it is winner take all.

They find Thomas Westerburg (Alex Sharp), a rich app creator and both women know they have found their mark. Penny pretends to have an illness and is surprised when Tom finds a doctor and in walks Josephine. The two go head to head continually trying to win Tom and it’s about to get crazier than either of them could have expected.

Wilson as Penny plays a character in the lane she has become comfortable in. She is funny, pulls antics, doesn’t hold back and is sweet as well. I love watching Wilson and it’s quite possibly because she reminds me a little of me (minus the physical antics). She doesn’t miss a beat and opposite Hathaway is comedic fun.

Hathaway as Josephine gets an opportunity to play the straight thief of the film. She is elegant, smart and has obviously been around the bigger block than Penny. As Wilson is the loud character of the film, Hathaway gets to pull her punches quietly and with the help of trusted staff.

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Sharp as Thomas comes in later in the film and finds himself drawn to Penny with Josephine hot on his heels. Penny and Josephine both believe they have him in the proverbial purse but might find that their mark is nicer than either can handle.

A shout out to Nicholas Woodeson as Albert – if I could have a butler like that I’d be the happiest person ever. He is hysterical, irreverent and has a wicked smile that lights up a room!

Other cast include Timothy Simons as Jeremy, Douggie McMeekin as Jason, Ingrid Oliver as Brigitte Desjardins, and Casper Christensen as Mathias.

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

THE HUSTLE Special Features include Hitting the Mark, Comedy Class, Con Artists, Feature Commentary by Director Chris Addison. The Digital Copy is part of Watch It Anywhere including iTunes.

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THE HUSTLE puts Wilson and Hathaway in the role of con artists and lets the chips fall where they may. A pairing that is totally different and fun at the same time as they play off of one another with such snap.

I have to say the “training” part of the film was my favorite because of Wilson’s ability to just do the silliest and most unexpected things. I have to wonder how many takes it took because of everyone cracking up.

This is a fun comedy to just sit back and enjoy for what it is – two gals proving they have what it takes in the world of grifting and cons.

In the end – they’re giving dirty rotten men a run for their money!

 

 

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POMS Brings on the Cheer

Poms

Jeri Jacquin

Now on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital from writer/director Zara Hayes and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment are ladies that are ready to shake their POMS.

Martha (Diane Keaton) is down-sizing and simplifying her life by packing up and moving to a retirement community. Hoping to find peace and quiet, instead she discovers anything but. Neighbor Sheryl (Jacki Weaver) is running illegal poker parties out of her house and breaking more rules by having grandson Ben (Charlie Tahan) staying.

After a check in visit, Sheryl tries to motivate Martha to do anything to get her out of the house. Martha decides she can go one better and do what she missed in her younger years – become a cheerleader. The problem is getting past a very controlling Vicki (Celia Weston) who doesn’t like being challenged.

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Martha finds other members with Alice (Rhea Perlman), Helen (Phyllis Somerville), Olive (Pam Grier), Phyllis (Patricia French), Evelyn (Ginny MacColl) and Ruby (Carol Sutton). Fun for the ladies makes Vicki turn on the group and deny them club status when an accident happens during a practice performance.

One person at that performance is Chloe (Alisha Boe) who is on the high school squad and her recording goes viral which doesn’t help the ladies cause. Martha and Sheryl meet Chloe and convince her to help them become better as the group comes together again.

This time they are going full on entering a cheer contest. Practicing takes every bit of time and a toll on Martha who has been keeping her own secret. Yet, when the day arrives, the women along with Ben and Chloe know this is their time to shine and nothing or no one is going to stand in their way!

Keaton as Martha is a woman feeling that there is only one way to deal with the last phase of her life and embraces it a little too deeply. It takes someone as flamboyant as neighbor Sheryl to change it. Keaton is fun, encouraging and looks like she is thoroughly enjoying this role. Weaver is absolutely hilarious with her way of living and taking no guff from anyone. She is the yin to Keaton’s yang that’s for sure!

Tahan as Ben is a young man caught in two different worlds and doing his best not to become too embarrassed. When he realizes that his grandmother and friends aren’t anywhere near that, he is all in. Boe as Chloe begins as a mean girl but me thinks it’s because she is hanging with mean girls. Being a part of what Martha and the girls are trying to accomplish changes to who her character truly is.

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Perlman as Alice is hilarious and I’ll never look at golf stuff the same again. Grier as Olive is embracing her cheer side and her hubby doesn’t mind it either. French as Phyllis lets her red hair crazy fly. Somerville as Helen is the zen influence on the group. Sutton as Ruby just wants to have fun with the girls and MacColl as Evelyn has to sadly deal with family who don’t support her life but rather want to control it.

Other cast include Alexandra Ficken as Paige, David Maldonado as Tom, Karen Beyer as Barbara and Bruce McGill as Chief Carl.

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

STX Films and Entertainment is a global next-generation company who has taken on the mission to unlock the value of direct connection stars have with their fans through the development, production and distribution of film, television, VR, digital video, music and live entertainment content. To experience more please visit www.stxfilms.com.

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POMS on Blu-ray unleashes the power of your HDTV and is the best way to watch movies at home, featuring 6X the picture solution of DVD, exclusive extras and theater-quality and surround sound. Digital lets fans watch movies anywhere on their favorite devices. Users can instantly stream or download.

This is a heartwarming film about senior community living and the possibilities. For Martha it might not be too apparent as she has a plan of her own. Keaton gives her character all the emotion we have come to expect from this fine an iconic actress.

The film is very funny but at the same time very poignant in that sometimes we forget that being a senior citizen isn’t a reason to stop living. Instead it is a reason to live every moment doing what ever we’ve all wanted to do but maybe life got in the way along the line.

In the end – it is never to late to chase a dream!

THE ANGRY BIRDS 2 Bring More Giggles

Angry Birds 2 cover

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres from director Thurop Van Orman and Sony Pictures Animations are our favorite birds with THE ANGRY BIRDS 2.

Everyone on Bird Island is in a pretty good place since Red (Jason Sudekis) has made a name for himself as a hero. Making sure the pigs stay on their island is a full time job and it comes with some adulation that Red has come to like.

Then, the green pigs on Piggy Island are being bombarded with, well, ice balls! Needing help, they reach out to Red and the other birds to see if they want to help find out what is going on. At first Red isn’t having it but when Leonard (Bill Hader) decides to sneak in to see the birds and explain what is happening.

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They talk to Mighty Eagle (Peter Dinklage) who discovers that his ex-gal Zeta (Leslie Jones) is the one responsible for the ice bombs. Seems she isn’t happy being stuck on the cold Eagle Island and she is going to make sure that she gets the sun in her life again!

Now Red, Leonard, Chuck (Josh Gad) and sister Silver (Rachel Bloom) get to Eagle Island only to discover something more sinister. Zeta has created lava ice balls and plans to destroy both islands. Red thinks he can handle everything on his own until, well, he can’t realizing that he needs all his friends to save their homes.

Sudekis as Red still has issues of not being liked by everybody and thinks he needs to continue to be a solo hero in order to keep his status. Hader as Leonard makes a daring move in asking for the birds help to stop the craziness that is plaguing them both. These two characters may always be after each other but together they are pretty darn funny.

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Dinklage as Mighty Eagle likes his solitude and perch high up on the island, when that is threatened you’d think he’d help right? Right? Jones as Zeta is an angry eagle who is not only smart but really smart. A combination of a hurt heart and brains can be dangerous for everyone around her.

Gad as Chuck is bouncy and fast! This actor has made quite a name for himself playing animated characters and I don’t mind one darn bit. Bloom as his sister Silver is equally as smart as Zeta but doesn’t have the broken heart to deal with. She doesn’t see herself and Red as compatible but there is a weird attraction if they can just get past the “destruction of their world” thing.

Other cast include Awkwafina as Courtney, Sterling K. Brown as Garry, Eugenio Derbez as Glenn, Tiffany Haddish as Debbie, Danny McBride as Bomb, Peter Davidson as Jerry, Dove Cameron as Ella, and Maya Rudolph as Matilda.

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THE ANGRY BIRDS 2 is very colorful, full of action and the kids at the screening found it very funny. The story is interesting in that the birds and pigs, who are always trying to one up each other with pranks, finally have a reason to work together – to save their islands.

Discovering a third island of Eagles who are kind of angry about being so cold is the right ingredient to discover more about these characters, especially Mighty Eagle. It’s a nice lesson for the kids to learn how to get along with everybody once you understand them.

In the end – this summer winter is coming!

 

THE NIGHTINGALE Sings the Saddest Song

The Nightingale Cover

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres from writer/director Jennifer Kent and IFC Films comes a story that will have everyone talking about THE NIGHTINGALE.

It is 1825 Australia where Clare (Aisling Franciosi), a 21-year-old Irish woman who served a seven year prison sentence. Freed by Lt. Hawkins (Sam Claflin), she has basically exchanged one prison sentence for another. He is infatuated with Clare and although he allows her to marry Aidan (Michael Sheasby), Lt. Hawkins controls everything she does.

Lt. Hawkins himself is an unhappy man, unhappy with his post, life and that Clare continues to request that she be set free. Once again she is denied and Aidan doesn’t understand his hold. Deciding to speak with Lt. Hawkins himself, it becomes an evening of unspeakable horror.

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The next morning Clare attempts to find justice for her family and discovers that Lt. Hawkins and his men have packed up and left for a post in the north. That is when she decides to go after them all to hold them accountable. Needing a guide she is directed toward Aboriginal tracker Billy (Baykali Ganambarr) who really wants nothing to do with her.

Given no choice, Clare holds Billy at gunpoint as they see each other without much care. Clare sees a black man who should do as he is told and Billy sees a white woman who comes from a group of people who have killed his.

As they come closer to finding Lt. Hawkins and company, a bond begins to form as their lives are in danger. They both have stories of their lives and finally share with one another. In those stories they discover that pain knows no color or geography.

Finally coming face to face with Lt. Hawkins, both must make a decision on how to handle their pain.

Franciosi as Clare is stunning, emotional, frightening and absolutely stellar in her role. I have to be quite honest and say I’m not sure how any woman given that time period would have handled what this character went through. That being said, Franciosi portrayal of Clare is riveting and feels very honest. She had me tense and holding my breath every scene of the film. Brilliant!

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Ganambarr as Billy plays his character straight forward as an aboriginal who has been denied his country, heritage, family and sense of self. He is angry and has every right to be but once he learns Clare’s story, there is a change that happens with an understanding that is clear and powerful. I was taken with Ganambarr’s performance and it is one I am not likely to ever forget.

Claflin as Lt. Hawkins is just plain evil from start to finish and that is so surprising for me. I am so use to Claflin playing roles like THE HUNGER GAMES, THE HUNTSMAN, ME BEFORE YOU and ADRIFT that this role out and out shocks me in its brutality. These all had to be a difficult role and Claflin as the heavy plays a character that knows his wrongs but continues to do them anyway.

Other cast include Damon Herriman as Ruse, Harry Greenwood as Jago, Ewen Leslie as Goodwin, Charlie Shotwell as Eddie, Matthew Sunderland as Davey, Magnolia Maymuru as Lowanna, Christopher Stollery as Major Bexley, Nathaniel Dean as Stoakes, Claire Jones as Harriet, Luke Carroll as Archie and Charlie Jampijinpa Brown as Uncle Charlie.

THE NIGHTINGALE has won at Venice for Special Jury Prize, Best New York Performer, winner at the Miami International Film Festival, Rene Rodriguez Critics Award as well as the Official Selection at the Sundance Film Festival – Spotlight Section and Official Selection at the San Francisco International Film Festival.

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This film is brutal, even savage, in its telling and in the mix is colonialism, an attempt to extinguish a race, disgusting treatment of women and the insanity of it all on a person. I can’t recall the last time I had my hand over my mouth so many times during a film to keep in the yell that wanted to escape.

It is a story of Clare and Billy and the clear truth that they do not know their worth until their worth is made clear. Unfortunately the knowledge comes by way of pain and hardship. Franciosi and Ganambarr give their characters humanity in the midst of madness.

The writer/director Jennifer Kent has told a tale that wears down the viewer with a cast that brings everything to the screen. I am in awe of everyone who took part in this film. This won’t be an easy film for anyone to watch but that shouldn’t stop it from being seen and I believe that!

In the end – her song won’t be silenced!

LOVE, ANTOSHA Brings Heavy Emotion for the Young Actor

Love Anton cover

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres from director/producer Garrett Price and Lurker Productions is a documentary on the life of Anton Yelchin with LOVE, ANTOSHA.

Best known for his role as the young Chekov in the STAR TREK films, Anton Yelchin wasn’t a new comer to films. Not at all, in fact his career began at a young age beginning in 2000 with a role in the television series ER. I remember that episode clearly and Yelchin plays young boy Robbie who loses his parents.

From the moment Yelchin is on screen, there is something amazing in his eyes that says ‘get ready to break out the kleenex everyone’ which I did. But this wouldn’t be the only time this actor would move me.

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In 2001 in the film HEARTS IN ATLANTIS, he once again tests every emotion possible. Curb Your Enthusiasm in 2004 would show us another side of Yelchin with scenes that were pure brilliance.

HOUSE OF D that same year from writer/director David Duchovny cements Yelchin as an actor beyond words. Next came ALPHA DOG and CHARLIE BARTLETT along side Robin Williams followed by THE BEAVER with Jodie Foster.

In between Hollywood roles, Yelchin made it clear he wanted to make the un-Hollywood type films. Those around him saw that he needed to stretch and explore different characters in different ways.

When STAR TREK came, viewers thought that this was a newcomer to Hollywood. They embraced the young Chekov and now I can even imagine anyone doing the role. Yelchin met Walter Koenig, Chekov from the original 60s STAR TREK and it is easy to see from this documentary that he wanted to please Koenig.

But there was so much more to this talented and sensitive actor. The only son of immigrant Russian parents, Yelchin showed at a very early age that he was fascinated with films and music. He grew with each and every opportunity and influenced by each person he met.

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That is what makes this documentary so absolutely fantastic. It starts with his family talking about where they came from and how they raised their son. Then his close friends talk about the time they spent together and how they always did things nutty (as guys tend to do).

The most surprising part of this documentary is the amount of people that actually knew Yelchin and by this I mean Kristen Stewart, Jennifer Lawrence, Martin Landau for starters. There are funny stories told by Chris Pine and Simon Pegg about Yelchin’s need to photograph the unusualness he would find just walking down the street.

The most moving part of this documentary are the notes that Antosha left for his family to constantly remind them of his love. The raw notes he would write to himself are read by Nicholas Cage who happened to be Yelchin’s favorite actor.

What a rare few knew was that Yelchin suffered from Cystic Fibrosis and, as with everything this young man did, he did not use CF as an excuse to not push himself. Instead he did what was necessary and jumped into his life fray with every bit of heart and soul he had.

June 19, 2016, the world would lose Yelchin in what would seem the most senseless way. A preventable accident would take him away from the world that so embraced his talent.

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In the sadness of this we have to remember one thing, this young actor left behind 69 films and that is stunning. I have seen many of his films but after seeing this documentary, I want to see each and every film he made!

The film brings J.J. Abrams, Sofia Boutella, John Cho, Ian Cripps, Marlon Clark, Willem Dafoe, Joe Dante, Paul David, Ryan Dean, Drake Doremus, Ben Foster, Jodie Foster, Cxraif Gillespie, Dave Glowacki, Bryce Dallas Howard, Nick Jones, Avy Kaufman, Frank Langella, Mary Lester, Mark Palansky, Jon Poll, Zachary Quinto, Parush Rao, Zoe Saldana, Luke Shaft, Sophie Simpson, Anya Taylor-Joy, Jon Voight, and Richard Wicklund out to talk about their feelings and some of it will bring a tear and a lot will bring laughs.

Having amazing access to his journals, writings, home movies, photographs, artwork and music – there doesn’t seem to be a stone left unturned to share with the viewer. That is what makes this documentary so very special – its honesty to both the light and dark of his life.

We should all have such amazing friends that would want the world to know who we are, how we are and everything in between in such a way as Price has put together in LOVE, ANTOSHA.

In the end – he was so much more and now we know just how much more!

 

SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK

Scary stories

 

Jeri Jacquin

In theatres now from director Andre Ovredal, Entertainment One and Lionsgate comes the tale of kids and SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK.

It is fall in Mill Valley, PA in 1968 and Halloween has brought out mischief. Stella (Zoe Colletti) and friends Auggie (Gabriel Rush) and Chuck (Austin Zajur) had plans of their own as town bully Tommy (Austin Abrams) is the object of their pranks. When it doesn’t turn out well, the three have to hide and find protection in Ramon’s car (Michael Garza).

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Getting to know their rescuer, the gang decides to do their own Halloween by visiting the local haunted house. Once owned by the Bellows family, it has a history for spookiness and rumor. Stella tells the story of Sarah Bellows, a woman who was kept in the basement of her family home but no one really knew why.

Finding the room in the basement, Stella finds a book of her stories while at the same time Tommy found all of them! Taking it with them when they manage to get out, they have no idea what they have unleashed.

The book begins to tell stories and Stella is shocked to learn that the tales come true. Beginning with Tommy, she realizes that everyone that was in the basement is now a target. Ramon stays in town to help find the answers as they dig into town records about the Bellows and discover the truth.

They are running out of time and friends!

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Colletti as Stella is front and center of the film as a young girl dealing with feelings about her mother while taking care of her father. Growing up with her two buddies, she still feels alone and spends her time writing. Colletti gives her character vulnerability, smarts and a fearlessness that I found myself cheering for without realizing I was doing it.

Garza as Ramon is passing through town but has a nosey sheriff keeping tabs on him. Helping Stella and friends brings him problems from the town bully but those are minor compared to what follows them all. This young actor keeps it together while friends Auggie and Chuck don’t.

Rush as Auggie is a little different than most boys his age and that is the reason Stella hangs out with him. Zajur as Chuck not only is the smarty pants of the bunch but also loves to make sister Ruth, played by Natalie Ganzhorn, miserable. Ganzhorn is the drama queen in every sense of the word and with very good eight legged reason to be.

Other cast include Gil Bellows as Chief Turner, Lorraine Toussaint as Lou Lou, Will Carr as Ephraim Bellows and Kathleen Pollard as Sarah Bellows.

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SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK has everything suspenseful and very cool special effects. The story is set in an era that is becoming more popular in film and you won’t get a complaint out of me about that. There is something very special about films that are filled with cell phones, loud music, guns, and all the things we’ve become desensitized to.

This film is a good scary yarn that is filled with a few jumps, creepy music, a back-story and kids so that’s a start. That being said, the premise of the film is one I have seen before. Not a reinvention of the horror genre wheel by any stretch, it’s a nice get-a-big-tub-of-popcorn-to-share film with friends (but go to the matinee).

In the end – stay out of scary houses!

A DOG’S JOURNEY Continues to be Heartwarming on Bluray

dogs journey cover

Jeri Jacquin

On Bluray/DVD and Digital from director Gail Mancuso, Amblin and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment comes the continuing story of Boss Dog in A DOG’S JOURNEY.

Bailey (voiced by Josh Gad) is with Ethan (Dennis Quaid) and Hannah (Marg Helgenberger) on the farm. Also living at the farm is granddaughter CJ which makes Bailey very happy. Not so happy is her mother Gloria (Betty Gilpin) who seems to be centered on her own life and less on CJ’s.

That leads to Gloria taking CJ away from Ethan, Hannah and Bailey and running off. Saddened, Ethan discovers that something is wrong with Bailey and before he moves on knows that he must find CJ.

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Many years have passed and Bailey, now Molly, smells CJ! She takes the dog home as her best friend Trent adopts fur-brother Rocky. Eventually Mom Gloria finds out and wants Molly gone but CJ puts her own foot down.

Growing up together, CJ tells Trent that she wants to move to New York to pursue music with her inheritance. She believes the story that Gloria told her about how the grandparents tried to take it. Surprisingly enough, Ethan and Hannah try to visit but CJ doesn’t know they are there – but Molly does. Immediately Ethan recognizes who Molly is and reminds him to take care of CJ.

Years go by and CJ (Kathryn Prescott) is in New York writing music and walking dogs and comes to the attention of a little Biewer named Max aka Bailey. Max discovers that childhood friend Trent (Henry Lau) lives in the same building as CJ and finds a way to reunite them.

This isn’t the only relationship that needs to be reunited as CJ finds the will to help a friend in need, discover that all mother’s aren’t the same, that her grandparents are amazing and that dogs have always been in her life for a reason!

It is a dog’s journey along side those who need him!

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Gad as Bailey, Molly, Big Dog and Max returns to do what he does best, make everyone fall in love with what ever character he is playing. From Olaf from FROZEN and now Bailey the loveable and sweet dog, Gad doesn’t just let us in, he hugs us the entire way. I’m so pleased he stayed with A DOG’S series of films.

Prescott as CJ is all grown up and comes to terms with her relationship with Gloria, Trent and the grandparents who have been waiting for so long to see her. She is sweet and endearing from beginning to end. Lau as Trent believes in his friend CJ and knows that she is more special than she could ever have imagined. Gilpin as Gloria is a woman who gets lost in her own loss life and forgets that CJ needs her.

Quaid as Ethan returns as the only person who realizes that Bailey returns again and again with the promise to keep all of them safe. Helgenberger as Hannah is devastated when CJ leaves and does her best to believe that someday they will be together again.

Other cast include Abby Fortson as young CJ, Ian Chen as young Trent, Emma Volk as toddler CJ, Johnny Galecki as Henry, Jake Manley as Shane, Daniela Barbosa as Liesl, Conrad Coates as Big Joe, Arlene Duncan as Hilda and Kevin Claydon as Barry.

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

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.

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The Bonus Features include Gag Reel, A Dog’s Sequel, Everyone’s Best Friend, Working with Dogs, A Healing Journey, Scoring the Journey, and Feature Commentary with Director Gail Mancuso.

 Also Deleted and Extended Scenes including It’s Gonna Work, A Song for Molly, You Can Stay Here, Just Do the Laundry, Let’s Get Started, Gloria Looks at Henry’s Things, This Place is Huge, It’s Really Happening and I’ve Loved You Forever.

A DOG’S JOURNEY is completely beautiful, heartwarming, and touching filled with everything dog lovers want in a film. The added sweetness of this film is that it is relatable on so many levels because it isn’t just about a dog. It’s about friendship, loyalty and love whether you have two legs or four.

We should all be so rewarded in life with a friend like Boss-Dog who loves unconditionally, protects fiercely and only wants the best for us. Let us remember that that goes both ways.

In the end – some friendships transcend lifetimes!

THE REFLECTING SKIN is a Film of Twisted Brilliance

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Jeri Jacquin

Coming to DVD from Film Movement Classics and writer/director Philip Ridley is the stunning classic THE REFLECTING SKIN.

Seth Dove (Jeremy Cooper) is a young man living in 1950s Idaho farmland country with parents Luke (Duncan Fraser) and Ruth (Sheila Moore). The days are long and Seth spends time with friends Eben (Codie Wilbee) and Kim (Evan Hall). Three young boys together sometimes brings about mischief.

One such gathering the boys pull a prank on neighbor lady Dolphin Blue (Lindsay Duncan) and Seth feels momentary guilt. Back at home the young boy deals with a mother who treats him in almost sadistic ways and finds a bit of solace with his father who speaks rarely. Trying to talk with him, Luke introduces his son to the idea of vampires in a book he is reading.

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Seth is in trouble about a frog incident and must go to Dolphin to apologize. She tells him a little about herself and in the midst of a joke that he takes wrong decides she is a vampire. Eben goes missing so Seth and Kim decide to sneak into the neighbor’s house to see what she may be hiding. After a fright, he runs home and accidentally finds his friend.

That sets his parents on edge and disaster comes from it with a town that holds a grudge on a past secret. This brings home Seth’s older brother Cameron (Viggo Mortensen) who finds himself taken with Dolphin Blue. Now that his mother is in a state, the boy finds that he needs his brother even more.

But Cameron finds solace with Dolphin and tells her of the bomb experiments he was a part of in the war while Seth peeks in on them both. When he sees that his brother may be getting ill, he is more convinced Dolphin is a vampire killing his brother. More tragedy strikes the town and there are more questions than answers.

In that tragedy Seth believes he has found a way to save his brother from a monster that lives so close to home.

Cooper as the young Seth is absolutely brilliant for a young actor to play this very disturbing role. From the way he spoke to the characters clothing, Cooper made that secondary to his performance. Disturbing is too small a word for Seth yet it was impossible to take my eyes off of him.

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Duncan as neighbor Dolphin Blue is beautiful, extraordinary and holds a solemn and strangely peaceful attitude toward her life but will let out a scream with ease. Her handling of Seth is sometimes amusing and its probably there conversation on the rode that amused me the most with its disturbing content.

Mortensen as Cameron is a young man who returns from war only to find that coming home is really the last thing he wanted to do. It is Dolphin that gives him light in a dark place and he embraces it immediately. This is one of Mortensen’s first roles and had I seen this film earlier I would have said then what I believe now and that is he has a presence on screen that is a mixture of tough, charming and painful all rolled into him.

Other cast include David Longworth as Joshua, Robert Koons as Sheriff Ticker, Jason Wolfe as Cadillac Driver, Walt Healy as the Old Man, Sherry Bie as Cassie, and Jeff Walker as Adam Blue.

Celebrating its 17th year in 2019, Film Movement has released more than 250 feature films and shorts culled from prestigious film festivals worldwide, and last year it had its first Academy Award-nominated film, THEEB. Film Movement’s theatrical distribution strategy has evolved to include promising American independent films, documentaries, and an even stronger slate of foreign art house titles. Noted directors Film Movement brings are Eric Rohmer, Peter Greenaway, Bille August, Marleen Gorris, Takeshi Kitano and Ettore Scola. For more information, please visit www.filmmovement.com.

The DVD includes the Bonus Features of Angels & Atom Bombs: The Making of THE REFLECTING SKIN, Commentary with writer/director Philip Ridley and New Essay by Travis Crawford and Heather Hyche.

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THE REFLECTING SKIN is a film with so many layers that eventually level into one. There is a strangeness, horror, mystery, intensity, beauty and a draw to go down the road of the story even if something tells us not to. Each character has fears of their own yet survival makes a convenient blinder.

Small towns have big secrets and this place has one that they use to quickly fill in the gap tragedy often leads. It isn’t important whether or not it’s the true; it makes whatever sadness permeates the people easier to serve up with their evening meals. The vampires are secondary to my way of thinking.

A film such as THE REFLECTING SKIN will leave its cinematic mark and I am thrilled to have had the chance to experience it.

In the end – sometimes terrible things happen quite naturall

THE KITCHEN

The Kitchen cover

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres this Friday from writer/director Andrea Berloff, DC Vertigo and Warner Bros. is a story of three women who know what it’s like to be left in THE KITCHEN.

It is the 1970s in New York in a neighborhood known as Hell’s Kitchen where Kathy Brennan (Melissa McCarthy) lives with her criminal husband Jimmy (Bryan d’Arcy James). Friend Claire Walsh (Elizabeth Moss) lives with her abusive husband Rob (Jeremy Bobb) and Ruby O’Carroll (Tiffany Haddish) lives with her degrading husband Kevin (James Dale) and equally degrading mother-in-law Helen (Margo Martindale).

All three husbands work for Little Jackie (Myk Watford) who is the muscle in Hell’s Kitchen but find themselves popped by FBI agents Gary Silvers (Common) and Gonzalo Martinez (E.J. Bonilla). Now serving a two year sentence, Little Jackie tells the three women left behind to not worry; they would be taken care of in their husband’s absence. Well, that isn’t exactly the case when the envelopes arrive with practically nothing in them, at least not enough to buy food and pay the rent.

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Kathy and Ruby go to talk with Little Jackie only to discover that he is full of excuses and hostility but what they do discover is that people aren’t paying him. The women want to know why only to discover that no one can count on him. That’s when they get the bright idea to offer their services of protection. The surprise is that the businesses would rather pay the women! Thinking they have a bit of muscle, it becomes clear that there is going to be a skirmish for power…enter Gabriel O’Malley (Domhnall Gleeson), a Vietnam vet with a certain set of skills and an eye for Claire.

As the business grows, it captures the attention of Alfonso Coretti (Bill Camp) who would rather work with the women than whack them for being so bold in their dealings. Now their empire begins to expand but with expansion comes the cracks in the three women’s friendship. Especially when they discover that their husbands have all had their sentences commuted and they will be home in months rather than years. Kathy doesn’t see a problem but Ruby and Claire both know that their husbands aren’t about to sit still for the business they’ve created as Helen makes perfectly clear to Ruby.

Now decisions aren’t being discussed, fear is beginning to set in and a paranoia that puts all the women in jeopardy but that’s what happens when you take on something as big as THE KITCHEN.

McCarthy as Kathy starts out as a very sweet woman who just wants to be a good wife and mother. When hubby is sent off to the big house she realizes that its time to get things right for her kids. Her parents might not be too happy about it all but Kathy is determined to make it work. McCarthy gives her character heart until it’s time to leave heart out of it. She begins to find her place and isn’t about to let anyone, not even her friendships, get in the way. Yes, I love McCarthy in comedy but lets be real here, she does a bang up job (pun intended) when it comes to twists, turns and backbone.

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Moss as Claire is in an abusive relationship that becomes her world. She only knows what Rob has dished out and can’t see a life past that, until she gets with Kathy and Ruby and discovers there is more to her than she dared imagine. Things that might not be great for the other women to experience, she’s all about it without batting an eye. It is easy to believe Moss in the role of a strong woman and anyone who has seen THE HANDMAID’S TALE on Hulu can attest to her ability to smile when needed and get a point across when absolutely necessary. She is a little scary in this role and I loved it. Gleeson as Gabriel is perfection in this role as a man who clearly has lost his way yet knows he has a trade he can offer the trio. It doesn’t hurt that his relationship with Claire is nothing short of beautiful in a very twisted way.

Haddish as Ruby not only has to deal with the insults of her husband but the rantings of a mother-in-law who makes it perfectly clear that she will always, always side with her son (even if he is so wrong). Once she feels the power that what they are doing brings, she realizes that there is no turning back – not that she would want to. She gets bolder in the way she deals with people and it starts to become noticeable to Kathy and Claire. Common as FBI Silvers makes sure to capture the husband and isn’t happy when he learns that they are getting out early. He, along with partner Martinez, are now watching the women to see what is going on.

Camp as Coretti hides his criminal activities behind the doors of his piano store which is a good cover if you ask me. He plays it smart when he realizes that the bet way to expand his business is to work with the women. There is a scene in which things could have gone horribly wrong for Kathy yet it is Coretti who shows, if you will, loyalty. Watford as Little Jackie is just the worst which means he did a really good job in making sure I didn’t like him. That’s talent right there!

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Other cast include Manny Urena as Guy, John Sharian as Cousin Duffy, Rob Yang as Jeffrey, Tina Benko as Donna, Joseph Russo as Tony, Angus O’Brien as Mark, Matt Helm as Colin, Tom Stephens as Father Monoghan and Brandon Uranowitz as Schmuli Chudakoff.

THE KITCHEN is based on the comic book series by Ollie Masters and Ming Doyle. What makes the film initially work is taking the 70s era and putting it up on the screen. Nothing says ‘I wanna see this!’ more to me than a 70s film that goes for the style, cars and music and everything else I love about the 1970s. No need to ask my age because it’s pretty clear that if I loved the 70s then I lived in the 70s.

McCarthy, Moss, Haddish, and Domhnall bring the story its depth and brutal factor that one would expect of Hell’s Kitchen at that time. Businesses paying for muscle, everyone trying to survive by the seat of their pants and always someone trying to take is the messy theme of the film and the intensity comes from never knowing who to trust.

That all being said, I do have a serious problem with the ending and I was thrilled to discover that I wasn’t the only one. The last fifteen minutes was unsatisfying and had people saying out loud, ‘are you serious? that’s how it ends?’ So let’s just say that the film was going somewhere and it seemed as if writer/director Berloff just didn’t know how to cut it off satisfactorily.

I have this little noise I make when I feel like I’ve been cinematically jilted and trust when I say I made that sound the whole drive home. Okay, once I got past it I relished in the first hour of the film and thought I wish we had seen more of Claire and Gabriel because those two are a pair that would be worthy of more of my time. The Bonnie and Clyde of the 70s except, well, sweeter if they could be called that considering their chosen profession.

In the end – it’s time for these women to show what they’ve got!

 

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