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April 2017

A DOG’S PURPOSE Wags Its Tale on Bluray and a Prize Pack!

 

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This awesome prize pack includes:

A Dog’s Purpose Bluray

Dog Treat Cookbook

Metal Cookie Cutter

Dog Photo Frame Bowl

Rope Toy

 

Based on the beloved bestselling novel by W. Bruce Cameron, A Dog’s Purpose, from director Lasse Hallstrom, shares the soulful and surprising story of one devoted dog voiced by Josh Gad from Frozen and Angry Birds, who finds meaning of his own existence through the life of the humans he teaches to laugh and love.

An uplifting and inspirational look at life through the eyes of man’s best friend warms hearts this spring when A Dog’s Purpose arrives on Digital HD on April 18th, 2017 and on Bluray Combo Pack, DVD and On Demand on May 2, 2017 from Amblin Entertainment and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. An empathetic and relatable drama, this sentimental film takes viewers on a powerful journey to experience the relationship between dogs and their owner – to love, protect, comfort and always find a way back home. A Dog’s Purpose on Bluray, DVD and Digital HD includes deleted scenes, outtakes, a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film and more!

For your chance at the prize pack go to http://moviemaven.homestead.com and find out how to make that happen for your family and four legged friend!

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HBO Series DIVORCE: The Complete First Season is an Event on Bluray

divorce bluray

 

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to Bluray from HBO from creator Sharon Horgan and director Jesse Peretz is the fantastic first season of the HBO series DIVORCE: The Complete First Season.

Frances (Sarah Jessica Parker) and husband Robert (Thomas Haden Church) are silently heading to the birthday party of friend Diane (Molly Shannon). A speech by Diane’s husband Nick (Tracy Letts) makes it clear that their marriage isn’t a happy one either. A gun goes off, Robert is freaked out, Frances calls an ambulance and Nick is on the floor.

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When Robert discovers that Frances has been having an affair and gal pal Dallas (Talia Balsam) knew as well, he isn’t going to make her life easy. Their kids Lila (Sterling Jerins) and Tom (Charlie Kilgore) are oblivious to what’s going on. But a dog always manages to pave the way into a conversation that needs to be had.

Robert is starting to annoy everyone from his workers to the bed ridden Nick who has finally woken up. Being told to shut up, Robert can not understand why Diane and Nick would ever want to stay together.

With divorce seeming a better idea than marriage counseling, Frances and Robert are being told it’s time to tell the kids. They both also are putting together their finances and Robert realizes he is in the financial outs as well! Now that Nick is lucid, Robert wants to find an investor for a project to get him back on track.

Frances finds out Robert has gotten himself a lawyer and decides to lawyer up with Max Brodkin (Jeffrey DeMunn). During the initial meeting, Frances unloads to make sure there are no secrets that can be used against her. Finally signing on the dotted to get her gallery space, Frances finally gets the chance to do what she’s only dreamed of.

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Robert and Nick meet up to talk about the Fun Space but instead Nick tells his friend that its time to think about saving his marriage. Learning who her lawyer is, Robert decides to lawyer up – up with Tony Silvercreek (Dean Winters)! Frances, Dallas and Diane take a night out visiting another gallery meeting Carson Hodges (Frank Whaley).

Agreeing to keep things normal for the kids comes to a screeching argument when the Christmas schedule brings tradition into question. Going to Frances’ parents for Christmas means trying to find a way to avoid the problems with telling the truth about their marriage.

Robert meets up with Kathy, a woman from his past who clearly doesn’t see things as he does. While trying to find his way Robert meets a woman who he feels will somewhat even up the affair-score. Frances gets the shock of her life that Robert has been ruining their financial lives for quite some time.

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It is down to the lawyers getting together in a room with Robert and Frances to point fingers. Frances feels as if she is being portrayed as an absentee mother while Robert gets all the props. Noticing her lawyer isn’t cutting it, she changes lawyers while trying to work with Robert on being fair.

Being served in public sets Robert on a destructive path while trying to start his new business Fun Space USA. An accident sends the parents into a nicer state but it is hanging on by a thread with Robert holding the scissors. Frances finally opens her gallery with the support of her friends and family.

When a lawyer move pushes Robert, he pushes back – in the worst way one ever could!

Parker as Frances is brilliant in her role trying to keep it together and stay the doting Mom to the kids. Dodging all the verbal bullets hubby Robert is firing keeps this character on her toes. Knowing that it will take time to decide what is best for their marriage; Parker’s character takes the hits and keeps on believing.

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Church as Robert is brutal with his one liners and “purse in the trash” with perhaps a banana retorts. Living under the same roof his tantrums are that of a teenager to my mind yet I get it but still – a teenager. Even their therapy sessions I’m in a bit of shock when he goes off the verbal rails.

Shannon as Diane is hilarious, dangerous and hilarious as that one friend who just has no filter when it comes to anything about her life. Balsam as Dallas wants what’s best for her friend Frances and doesn’t believe its Robert.

Jerins as Lila is such a sweet girl one minute and a pre-teen with all that entails the next minute. Kilgore as Tom isn’t sure exactly what’s happening around him but has other things to do so let’s his parents hash it out on their own.  Jemaine Clement is Julian Renaut loves the fun of an affair but not the commitment.

HBO Home Entertainment has an extensive array of critically-acclaimed and groundbreaking programs found on Bluray, DVD and Digital HD. They have provided viewers with some of the most amazing programs with huge fan bases that include the shows True Blood, Sex and the City, The Sopranos, True Detectives, The Wire, Entourage and Game of Thrones. Launched in 1984, HBO is world wide in viewed entertainment in more than 70 territories around the world! For more of what they have to offer please visit www.hbo.com.

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DIVORCE is the perfect series for Parker and Church to show off why they are outstanding at their craft. I have to say the scenes in the therapist office between Parker and Church are stunning and I can not remember a pair more matched than these two.

There isn’t anything about this series that I don’t like. It is a whirlwind of two people trying to cope with what it means to be an adult and be married. Anyone who has gone through a divorce will understand the swamp that a husband and wife go through to come out the other side relatively sane.

Mixed into the harshness between this once loving couple is a twisted comedy that I can’t help but laugh at. With each move they make toward divorce, Frances and Robert are clearly and totally discombobulated with where this is all going to lead them. The finishing line isn’t visible to them at all because of the unresolved issues between them with a final episode that will shock!

Parker was nominated for the Golden Globe Aware for Best Actress in a Television Series Musical or Comedy. The soundtrack of music is completely wonderful and it is definitely one I’d like to own. A mixture of memories that fits

The Bluray includes the episodes Pilot, Next Day, Counseling, Mediation, Gustav, Christmas, Weekend Plans, Church, Another Party and Détente. The Exclusive Special Features are Audio Commentaries with star Sarah Jessica Parker, Executive Producer/Writer Paul Simms and writers Tom Scharpling and Adam Resnick.

 In the end – it is for better or worse, or worse!

 

To win your own copy of HBO’s Original Series DIVORCE go to http://moviemaven.homestead.com to find out how to enter!

 

May Brings More Movies On Demand

Movies on Demand

This month, MOD viewers get a chance to see Get Out With Bonus Content, including an alternate ending, deleted scenes and more. Jordan Peele made his directorial debut in Get Out and was rewarded with 99% positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. It is the story of a young African-American man (Daniel Kaluuya) who visits his white girlfriend’s (Allison Williams) family estate and becomes ensnared in the more sinister, real reason for the invitation.

Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson return as Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele in Fifty Shades Darker, the second chapter based on the worldwide bestselling Fifty Shades book phenomenon.

May 2017 Movies on Demand/VOD on Cable Major Studio Premieres*:

Gold – 5/2 – (same day as DVD); R; Action/Drama; Matthew McConaughey, Edgar Ramirez

Rings – 5/2 – (same day as DVD); PG-13; Horror/Thriller; Matilda Lutz, Alex Roe

A Dog’s Purpose – 5/2 – (same day as DVD); PG; Drama/Family; Britt Robertson, KJ Apa

Fifty Shades Darker– 5/9 – (same day as DVD); R; Drama/Romance; Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan

The Space Between Us – 5/16 – (same day as DVD); PG-13; Drama/Action; Gary Oldman, Asa Butterfield

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter – 5/16 – (same day as DVD); R; Action/Sci-Fi; Milla Jovovich, Ruby Rose

xXx: Return of Xander Cage – 5/16 – (same day as DVD); PG-13; Action/Adventure; Vin Diesel, Donnie Yen

The Great Wall – 5/23 – (same day as DVD); PG-13; Action/Adventure; Matt Damon, Jing Tian

Get Out/Get Out With Bonus Content – 5/23 – (same day as DVD); R/TV-MA; Horror/Thriller; Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams

Rock Dog – 5/23 – (same day as DVD); PG; Family/Animated; J.K. Simmons, Luke Wilson

Logan – 5/23 – (same day as DVD); R; Action/Adventure; Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart

The Shack – 5/26 – PG-13; Drama; Sam Worthington, Octavia Spencer

Before I Fall – 5/30 – (same day as DVD); PG-13; Drama/Thriller; Zoey Deutch, HalstonSage

Fist Fight – 5/30 – (same day as DVD); R; Comedy; Ice Cube, Charlie Day

 

Indie premieres on MOD for April 2017 (highlights)*

Highlights from the indies:

My Life as a Zucchini is a brilliantly animated, heart-warming Oscar-nominated film, about a boy who learns to trust and love as he searches for a new family with the help of his new friends at a foster home.

The Salesman was the Oscar winner for Best Foreign Language film and the winner of several awards at the Cannes Film Festival. The film is about a young Iranian couple who moves to a flat in Tehran as their apartment and their lives begin to crumble. In Farsi with English subtitles.

Oscar-nominated The Red Turtle is a dialogue-less animated film that follows the major life stages of a man shipwrecked on a deserted tropical island populated by turtles, crabs and birds.

I Am Not Your Negro is an Oscar-nominated documentary connecting the lives and murders of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King and Medgar Evers to #BlackLivesMatter and today’s racial crisis in America, through the writings of James Baldwin. Narrated by Samuel L. Jackson.

Finally, in The Comedian, comic icon (Robert De Niro) lives to be recognized as a comic genius but everyone only knows him as his former TV show character.

May INDIE premieres on MOD*

The Comedian – 5/2 – (same day as DVD); R; Comedy; Robert De Niro, Leslie Mann

The Red Turtle – 5/2 – (same day as DVD); PG; Animation; Peter Simonischek, Sandra Huller

Growing Up Smith – 5/2 – (same day as DVD); PG-13; Comedy/Family; Jason Lee, Anjul Nigam

The Salesman – 5/2 – (same day as DVD); PG-13; Drama/Thriller; Shahab Hosseini, Taraneh Alidoosti

I Am Not Your Negro – 5/2 – (same day as DVD); PG-13; Docu; Samuel L. Jackson, James Baldwin

Contemporary Color – 5/2 – (weeks before DVD); PG-13; Docu/Family; David Byrne, Nelly Furtado

The Resurrection of Gavin Stone – 5/2 – (same day as DVD); PG; Comedy/Drama/Family; Brett Dalton, Anjelah Johnson Reyes

The Shadow Effect – 5/2 – (same day as DVD); TV-MA; Action/Thriller; Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Cam Gigandet

Mindgamers – 5/2 – (same day as DVD); TV-14; Action/Sci-Fi; Tom Payne, Melia Kreiling

Hunter’s Prayer – 5/5 – (Pre-theatrical); R; Action; Sam Worthington, Odeya Rush

Burden – 5/5 – (same day as theatrical); TV-14; Docu; Chris Burden, Marina Abramovic

Awakening the Zodiac – 5/9 – (Pre-theatrical); TV-MA; Action/Horror; Shane West, Leslie Bibb

Justice Served – 5/9 – (same day as DVD); TV-MA; Action/Drama; Gail O’Grady, Marvin Young

Folk Hero & Funny Guy – 5/12 – (same day as theatrical); TV-MA; Comedy/Romance; Alex Karpovsky, Wyatt Russell

Urban Hymn – 5/12 – (same day as theatrical); TV-14; Drama; Shirley Henderson, Steven Mackintosh

Dead Awake – 5/12 – (same day as theatrical); R; Horror/Thriller; Jocelin Donahue, Lori Petty

The Last Word – 5/16 – (weeks before DVD); R; Comedy/Drama; Shirley MacLaine, Amanda Seyfried

Kill Switch – 5/19 – (Pre-theatrical); TV-MA; Action/Sci-Fi; Dan Stevens, Berenice Marlohe

Fight For Space – 5/19 – (same day as theatrical); TV-14; Docu; Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Jim Lovell

The Survivalist – 5/19 – (same day as theatrical); TV-MA; Drama/Sci-Fi; Martin McCann, Olwen Fouere

Buster’s Mal Heart – 5/23 – (weeks before DVD); TV-14; Action/Drama; Rami Malek, DJ Qualls

My Life As A Zucchini – 5/23 – (same day as DVD); PG-13; Animated/Drama; Will Forte, Nick Offerman

Raw – 5/23 – (same day as DVD); R; Horror; Garance Marillier, Ella Rumpf

Berlin Syndrome – 5/26 – (same day as theatrical); TV-MA; Action/Horror; Teresa Palmer

Wakefield – 5/26 – (same day as theatrical); TV-MA; Drama; Bryan Cranston, Jennifer Garner

Drone – 5/26 – (same day as theatrical); TV-MA; Action/Drama; Sean Bean, Mary McCormick

Black Butterfly – 5/26 – (same day as theatrical); R; Drama/Thriller; Antonio Banderas, Jonathan Rhys Meyers

The Exception – 5/30 – (same day as theatrical); R; Drama/Thriller; Christopher Plummer, Lily James

Collide – 5/30 – (same day as DVD); PG-13; Action/Thriller; Nicholas Hoult, Felicity Jones

Fernando Coimbra Directs the Netflix Original Movie SAND CASTLE

Fernando Coimbra

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to Netflix on April 21st from screenwriter Chris Roessner, Treehouse Pictures along with director Fernando Coimbra comes a look at the people and place that carry the realities of war with SAND CASTLE.

The film tells the story of Private Matt Ocre (Nicholas Hoult), a young man who intended to serve in the reserves to pay for college. When September 11th occurs, he hurts himself hopefully to be sent home.

Instead, he is sent back to his regiment to catch up with Sgt. Chutzky (Glen Powell), Cpt. Enzo (Neil Brown, Jr.), Sgt. Burton (Beau Knapp) and squad leader Sgt. Harper (Logan Marshall-Green). They are sent to a local village where insurgents have destroyed their water pump to get it up and running. While that happens a tanker is filled daily to get water to the villagers.

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The soldiers and the Iraqi people have the same problem, insurgents who want the American soldiers gone and the villagers under their control!

Fernando Coimbra is the Brazilian born director who took on the challenge of making the film SAND CASTLE. Beginning with writing and directing short films, his first film A WOLF AT THE DOOR premiered at the Toronto Film Festival. Recently, Coimbra has directed episodes of the Netflix series Narcos and a Cinemax episode of Robert Kirkman’s Outcast.

I had the opportunity to speak with Coimbra about his reaction to the script, challenges and what was most important for the audience to know about SAND CASTLE.

 

Jeri Jacquin: Hello Fernando, it is a pleasure to talk with you today about the film SAND CASTLE. I love the film.

Fernando Coimbra: Thank you, that means a lot.

JJ: This film is really important for everyone to see.

FC: I’m really glad to hear this.

JJ: Tell me your thoughts of the script when you read it?

FC: I was impressed by a few things. The first thing that caught my attention was the story and the characters. I knew that whoever wrote it knew the situation of war pretty well. I could feel that it was very truthful. I think what caught my attention the most was the journey of the character and the story of this soldier. He wasn’t there because he actually wanted to be so he’s not the usual military person. He joined because he wanted to pay for college and tries to get out of that situation. I think people can relate to this character. The journey I saw for him was very strong and I believed that the story needed to be told of his traumatic experience. It wasn’t about being a hero but instead about the experiences that they all go through. It is about them finding a reason and an understanding of what they are fighting for.

JJ: I spoke with Chris [Roessner, the writer of SAND CASTLE] last week and I told him what really intrigued me is that this film tells the story from both perspectives, the soldier and the Iraqi people.

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FC: Yes, that definitely was one of my main goals in preparing to shoot this film. I wanted to do my best to show both sides. I wanted to show the Iraqi people as human beings, not just caricatures or clichés of Arabic people. I see films where they are portrayed as bad guys or terrorists and in this film that is not the case. They are normal people trying to live their lives doing the best that they can in the middle of all this chaos. I wanted to show who they are and how they connected with the soldiers who are completely different from themselves. They are all human beings so it was important to have those moments where that connection is there; not just Iraqi’s or Americans but human beings. That was a mission in itself.

JJ: When you finished reading the script, what were some of the challenges you thought you were going to face making the film.

FC: When I decided to make the film I knew everything was going to be a challenge. A Brazilian making a war film not having been in a war was going to be different. I was motivated though to read about the war and research it for myself. I talked with military advisors because it is really important to me that it was portrayed authentically. I wanted to be fair to the audience by putting them into the most realistic environment possible. I went to the military to learn how they move, think and talk because they do have a way of speaking with codes etc. For me, the challenge was also to be very authentic and real so I went to people I trusted to help me bring all of that to the film.

JJ: It can be difficult to understand when they talk sometimes.

FC: Yes, I had the military advisers with me at all times. During the prep and during scenes they were there and Special Forces guys really gave the actors and myself and inside look at their life in this situation. It was so interesting to experience all of this for myself.

JJ: You were keeping it as authentically military as possible.

FC: Yes, we really did work hard on that keeping the military actions accurate and shooting scenes to keep the emotional element there as well. We always tried to find a way to mix the film making aspect with the actions of the military. I don’t want audiences to just watch the film, I would like them to experience it and relate to it.

JJ: I just couldn’t stop watching.

FC: That makes me very happy.

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JJ: You worked with an amazing cast, tell us about that experience?

FC: They were really great and I was lucky to have such very talented guys and also they were really engaged in making this film. Nick Hoult was so willing to play this character and Henry Cavill really wanted to play a military man because of his family connection. All of them were on board from going to boot camp to learning all the lingo and everything. We became a group, isolated on the set, from being at home and our regular life routines. Everybody became close and connected to each other through this experience. We all became like a military group ourselves.

JJ: Fernando, what do you want viewers to take away after watching SAND CASTLE?

FC: That’s a complex question because there are so many things. We always talk about war in a political way but we don’t dedicate much of ourselves to understanding soldiers or the Iraqi people. I want everyone to see the human side of all this with no judgment on who is bad or who is good. That doesn’t matter and the film involves many other things. To be in a situation like this is traumatic situation for all of the people involved.

JJ: I appreciate you taking the time to talk with me today.

FC: Absolutely, thank you for your kind words about our film.

 

SAND CASTLE is a film that experiences so much human in emotion on both sides of the Iraq war. The soldiers who come to understand they are not wanted in Iraq but have to be there to the villagers that do want help but to do so can decimate families and in between are insurgents who only want to destroy.

Director Fernando Coimbra took on the challenge of bringing this intense and human story of soldiers and the Iraqi people during a dangerous war. Bringing the authenticity of screenwriter Chris Roessner’s story to film, Coimbra has embraced every aspect and every scene is brilliantly done.

I encourage everyone to take a moment to view the film SAND CASTLE premiering on Netflix April 21st.

UNFORGETTABLE Brings Love and Terror to the Screen

Unforgettable

 

Jeri Jacquin

This Friday in theatres from first time director Denise Di Novi and Warner Bros. Pictures comes the twisted meshing of families that will be absolutely UNFORGETTABLE.

Julia Banks (Rosario Dawson) is packing her home in San Francisco to move to Southern California to be with boyfriend David Connover (Geoff Stults). Happy about her decision, Julia knows that there will be an adjustment with young daughter Lily (Isabella Kai Rice) and ex-wife Tessa (Katherine Heigl).

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Eager to start their life together, Julia notices almost right away the tension with Tessa. Trying to make things easier for David, she does her best to show Lily that everything is just fine. What Tessa doesn’t know is that Julia and David are planning to be married.

Getting his brewery business off the ground, David thinks its better to wait until everyone has settled to break the news. Tessa decides to take matters into her own hands and look at Julia’s past to discover that she has something that she hasn’t disclosed to David.

Putting discomfort between Julia and David, Tessa is clearly aware of every move she makes. Julia can’t seem to convince David of what is happening to their family until someone shows up at their door igniting a chain of events and there’s no turning back!

Dawson as Julia clearly wants to begin a new life with David. Trying her best to have a integrated family with Lily, Tessa is making sure that they don’t get to close. Dawson’s character eventually holds her own with Heigl’s character and it is a stand off that shocks.

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Heigl as Tessa is walking perfection! From her stunning hair, impeccable clothing and steely eyed stare, I can’t recall the last time I saw a character like this and thought, ;I definitely don’t want to meet her anywhere day or night!’ This is a scary lady for the ages for sure but the apple doesn’t fall far from the three.

Stults as David is a man trying to have a new relationship while having an understanding with ex-wife Tessa. Clearly a doting Dad of daughter Lily, starting a new business means he doesn’t have time for two women who need to work it out. Trying to be understanding of Tessa’s feelings, he is caught between three females!

Rice as Lily is adorable and put in the middle of the adults nonsense. There is one scene with Heigl that totally broke my heart for her and that means she handled her character beautifully. Well done young lady!

Other cast include Simon Kassianides as Michael Vargas, Jayson Blair as Jason Michaels, Alex Quijano as Miguel and Cheryl Ladd as Tessa’s mother.

UNFORGETTABLE is a film that is up front about every aspect of what is going on. So why does this work so well? Because it’s like being a fly on the wall watching everything unfold or like a train wreck that you can’t help but watch. I’m keeping the details to myself because this film needs to be seen first hand and remember to keep your jaw off the floor.

The audience absolutely loved the film and there are several times where people were yelling at the screen or hiding their eyes. That’s always a good sign when the audience doesn’t realize its participating!

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At this years CinemaCon in Las Vegas, Heigl says of the film, “They say the things that you are most afraid of might actually happen. But what happens when one person can’t deal with it and jealousy turns to madness”.

Dawson continues by saying, “UNFORGETTABLE is a suspense thriller that harkens back to some of my favorite films but with a modern and contemporary edge. We think this film will give audiences what they want, an experience where they are on the edge of their seat!”

In the end – love makes some do dangerous things!

ELLA BRENNAN: Commanding the Table is a Delicious Documentary

Ella

 

Jeri Jacquin

 

Coming to Netflix on May 1st from filmmaker Leslie Iwerks and Iwerks & Co. with theatrical release in May comes the intriguing story of ELLA BRENNAN: Commanding the Table.

Ella Brennan has made more than a name for herself as a legendary restaurateur but is a pioneer of what is now considered a food movement. After high school in New Orleans, her brother Owen wanted to open a business that would take care of her parents. In 1933, Owen hires piano player Fats Pichon plays in their club and it is a success!

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At the age of 20, Ella along with sister Adelaide take on opening a restaurant. Trying to find their niche among famous places on Bourbon Street, Ella teaches herself the business. Creating Breakfast at Brennan’s comes from her European learning trip and brother Owen wants an original dessert on their menu as well. The creation of Bananas Foster became a hit then and is still a hit today!

Brennan’s becomes a rising restaurant and Ella a rising star that is noticed by editors and food critics. the Brennan’s opened a restaurant on Bourbon Street. Food Editor Helen McCully would take Ella to New York where she meets Julia Childs, Jacques Peppin and James Beard (yes, that James Beard).

The passing of Owen and the lease on Bourbon Street property is up but Brennan’s begins again at a new location. The patrons followed eagerly with a party that Ella says, “lasted a month easily”. Never an empty table, Brennan’s continues to be successful on Royal Street in New Orleans.

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The restaurant keeps her busy but Ella meets Paul, they marry and start a family with son Alex and then daughter Ti. Keeping life surrounded by family, members recall having get together’s that always included delicious food. Their marriage unfortunately leads to divorce because of Paul’s problem with drinking.

After a shocking family takeover, Ella walks away from Brennan’s Restaurant and buys a place called Commander’s Palace Restaurant and once again starts from scratch. Beginning with an idea from brother Dick, she creates a Garden District Jazz Brunch. It was instantly a smashing success!

Wanting her patrons to have an experience, Ella creates just that with crowds taking over on Saturdays and Sundays. Surrounded by celebrities of all types there were write ups constantly. Moving in with sister Adelaide, they both continued fancy and dressy party’s at their home.

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Paul Prudhomme became an Executive Chef at Commander’s Palace creating menu’s with Ella that include Cajun Crusine and flavors New Orleans hadn’t brought before. A line of amazing chefs came through Ella’s kitchen from Jeremiah Tower, Danny Meyer, Emeril Lagasse, Jamie Shannon just to name a few. Each chef that came through continued to pave the way for amazing cuisine and continued success for Commander’s Palace.

When Hurricane Katrina came through New Orleans, Ella once again is faced with picking up the pieces by gutting Commander’s Palace. Committed to rebuilding, Ella says, “it breaks your heart to know what people went through in this city. This was no longer survival of yourself but survival of the city we all live in”.

Not only did she rebuild Commander’s Palace, she helped local owner Dooky Chase rebuild her restaurant as well. Reopening thirteen months after Hurricane Katrina, they were back!

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This is a family business as Ella and Dottie move into the home right next to the restaurant to be close to it all. The dedication of this woman named Ella and the Brennan family has continued to bringing the dining experience to generation after generation and I personally have Commander’s Palace on my bucket list!

Director Leslie Iwerks is an Oscar and Emmy nominated filmmaker who has brought Oscar and Tony nominated actress Patricia Clarkson on board to narrate this amazing story. Choosing Ella Brennan, family and their love of the restaurant business as a subject for her documentary is wonderful perfection.

ELLA BRENNAN: Commanding the Table has been the Official Selection for the 2017 Dallas International Film Festival, Audience Award at the New Orleans Film Festival, Official Selection of the: 34 Miami Film Festival, Houston Cinema Arts Festival, Santa Barbara International Film Festival, Tiburon International Film Festival, Annapolis Film Festival, Vermont International Film Festival, San Luis Obispo International Film Festival, Mill Valley Film Festival and the Boulder International Film Festival.

Leslie Iwerks photo

The story is told from Ella herself along with family, friends, critics and the chefs that were a part of her kitchen which bring such a personal aspect that I was enthralled watching every moment.

A admitted “foodie”, I am fascinated by the creative process of chefs, food and restaurants décor and how they are run. Ella Brennan was a name I had heard before so I was thrilled to have the opportunity to see this documentary. I had no idea that I was in for a delicious treat with not only the food but the history of this amazing woman who created something spectacular.

ELLA BRENNAN: Commanding the Table is a must-see for everyone, whether you are a foodie or not. This documentary is a history of a family who understood and continues to understand their city and patrons. Constantly reinventing itself, Commander’s Palace has a woman at its helm who believes in what she does – and it shows. Brava Ella Brennan!

In the end – she brought grace, elegance and good taste to the nation’s culinary map!

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SPLIT Revisit Stellar Performances and Fright Now on Bluray!

Split bluray

 

Jenise Jacquin

This week on Bluray from director M. Night Shyamalan and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment is the fantastically creepy SPLIT.

The film star James McAvoy (be still my heart!) as a man who has several serious problems named Dennis, Patricia, Hedwig, Barry, Orwell, Jade, The Beast and Kevin Wendell Crumb. One day he kidnaps Casey (Haley Lu Richardson), Marcia (Jessica Sula) and Claire (Anya Taylor-Joy) taking them to a dark and dismal location. He kidnaps the girls with a plan but Claire is an extra not planned on. It is clear this man has a problem with girls and when they stick together against him; their main goal is to escape.

Claire realizes that this man has the voice of a young boy name Hedwig and tries to be convincing about the need to escape. It also becomes clear that this man is responsible for different personalities who have different agendas. One by one each girl tries to escape and their different tactics keep their captor on edge. What they don’t know is that something sinister called The Beast is more terrifying than any of the personalities they have ever seen.

McAvoy portraying all of these different personalities gives him the opportunity to cement his status as an actor. The most interesting thing about him is that he takes roles that are as equally diverse as the personalities in SPLIT (except perhaps not quite as frightening). I enjoyed the transition between the characters – from the sweet, helpful innocent to the creepy-man-next-door but what I loved most is the spots of creepy/mean characters, there are moments of compassion. Especially when he becomes Kevin because there is a moment where you feel for him and what he is going through. In the short time he is Kevin you feel his emotions down to the core and forget everything that came before it. No matter what he does he’s a sexy man – call me!

Taylor-Joy as Claire is the character most involved with the splits. She is secluded and misunderstood even before she is kidnapped with the girls and is perfect for this role. It’s a good life lesson actually for teens that you never really know what is going on. Claire is actually very smart but has been through a lot and does a great job of hiding it. Taylor-Joy gives the “weird kid” persona something to think about but in a calm, collective, peaceful and beautiful kind of way. You will see exactly what I mean from scene one!

Richardson as Casey was the reason Claire was in the car in the first place so we blame her for everything…period. Sula as Marcia is the follower and she had no guts so there isn’t about to be no glory. Even when Claire tells her to stop putting them all in danger, Marcia just does what Marcia does.

Betty Buckley as Dr. Karen Fletcher gets a personal shout out from me. She kept all the characters in line and respectfully sought out to help each one individually. I believe her character is one that sticks out because her presence made me feel like I was in the film not just watching it. Buckley captures different aspects of film because it made me root for her who rooted for Kevin and the other personalities. She had a huge role in a way in how the character behaves because she calls him out when he tries to put something over on everyone. I just plain out enjoyed her performance.

Other cast includes Sebastian Arcelus as Casey’s Father, Brad William Henke as Uncle John, Neal Huff as Mr. Benoit, Robert Michael Kelly as Joe, and Jon Rainey as Dr. Clerque.

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.

I really think the film is as creepy, original, and suspenseful on Bluray as it was the first time I saw it on the screen. It isn’t a bloody horror film but a suspenseful and smart telling of a man with a serious problem. The different ideas and characters always kept me aware but still creeped out wondering what was going to happen next and who is going to show up at the door – and when you are going to meet The Beast.

I’m making sure to leave tons of information out of this review because this is the film you want to experience for yourself and personally I hate when people give to much away – its more fun to discover the creepy within us all right? SPLIT will definitely give you just that and don’t be in such a hurry to hit the stop button on your player because nothing is ever quite finished the way you might expect.

The Bluray includes the awesome Bonus Features of Alternate Ending and Deleted Scenes with an introduction by M. Night Shyamalan, The Making of SPLIT, The Many Faces of James McAvoy, and The Filmmaker’s Eyes: M. Night Shyamalan. The Digital HD and Ultraviolet Watch It Anywhere gives instant streaming and download on your television, computer, Tablet and Smartphone.

In the end – Kevin has 23 personalities and the 24th is about to be unleashed!

 

 

 

Edited by Jeri Jacquin

A Look at the Iconic Golden Arches with THE FOUNDER

the founder cover

 

Jeri Jacquin

Today on Bluray/DVD and Digital HD from director John Lee Hancock, the Weinstein Company and Anchor Bay Entertainment is the story behind McDonald’s with THE FOUNDER.

It is 1954 and Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton) is a man who is always on the move with his supply business. Working for Prince Castle who made five-spindle shake makers, he sold them one at a time to restaurants. He was surprised to receive a telephone call from Dick McDonald (Nick Offerman) ordering several of the machines.

Living with wife Ethel (Laura Dern) in a beautiful home in Arlington Heights, Illinois, Kroc is always looking for the next big thing to keep their lifestyle. Always on the road, he becomes more and more irritated with the drive-in burger experience.

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Still intrigued by the telephone call for more than one of the machines, Kroc goes to see what restaurant needs more than one! He arrives in San Bernardino, California to see something stunning. People lining up to get a McDonald’s hamburger, fries and a coke, Kroc loves the food.

He introduces himself to Dick and Mac McDonald (John Carroll Lynch) and they give him a tour of their hamburger assembly line process, quality produce and service. Kroc knows that this is a business he wants to be part of and convinces the brothers to go into partnership with Kroc franchising out to others.

Rollie Smith (Patrick Wilson) and wife Joan (Linda Cardellini) show interest in the business and he shows interest in Joan. Finding a boom in the franchising of McDonald’s, Kroc is constantly being stopped by the brothers in making any changes per their contract. If that isn’t enough, Ethel is alone more than with her husband.

Kroc wants to make McDonald’s iconic and without the brothers so with the help of Harry Sonneborn (B.J. Novak). His new company, Franchise Realty Corporation, begins the takeover of land that any McDonald’s is on. Changing the name to The McDonald’s Corporation, he buys out the brothers which includes the name and takes a new wife.

McDonald’s is now a part of the American landscape!

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Keaton as Kroc is stunning in this role. He has this amazing ability to hook me into watching every character he has ever portrayed and the role of Kroc is no exception. I love the way he turns a phrase and gives this character charm – even when I really didn’t want to like Kroc.

Offerman as Nick plays a man who is clear about his business goals. Knowing that the idea of McDonald’s was something special, he does try his damnedest to keep Kroc in line. It’s when things get out of control that Offerman gives us a look at a man who believed in something and someone only to be taken advantage of. Lynch as brother Mac is the brother who absolutely breaks my heart. He wants to believe that expanding would mean so much and was hit the hardest when it turned on them both. Lynch is one of my favorite actors because he can play both the villain and an endearing character and make it look easy.

Dern as Ethel is a woman who is the perfect housewife taking care of Ray when he is home. Supporting every endeavor he takes on means she also comes in second in every endeavor he takes on. Cardellini as Joan is a subtle character who is beautiful, talented, smart and believes in Kroc.

Wilson as Rollie wants to be part of the McDonald’s franchise and offers suggestions. Having his own restaurant, Rollie believes he has a lot to offer Kroc. Novak as Sonneborn is the key to changing everything in the initial deal with the McDonald brothers and it is brilliant actually. Novak is the level headed character in the film while everyone else is shouting and outraged.

Other cast includes Justin Brooke as Fred Turner, Kate Kneeland as June Martino, Griff Furst as Jim Zien, Wilbur Fitzgerald as Jerry Cullen, David de Vriest as Jack Horford, Andrew Benator as Leonard Rosenblatt, and Cara Mantella as Myra Rosenblatt.

The Weinstein Company is the film studio founded by Bob and Harvey Weinstein founded in 1979. Since 2005, TWC has released such films as VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA, THE READER, INGLORIOUS BASTERDS, THE KING’S SPEECH, THE ARTIST, DJANGO UNCHAINED and THE HATEFUL EIGHT. The Weinstein’s have received 341 Oscar nominations and won 81 Academy Awards.

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Anchor Bay brings amazing entertainment to those extending their media library and is also celebrating their 20th Anniversary. From theatrical to home release, Anchor Bay brings STARZ Original series, AMC Network series, The Weinstein Company, Radius, children’s entertainment, fitness, and sports to fans. To discover more of what Anchor Bay Entertainment has to offer, please visit www.anchorbayent.com.

THE FOUNDER is such an interesting look at a place known all over the world. I remember my first McDonald’s visit when I was five when the outside was red and white with the big arches on either side of the building.

The one thing that I and others never thought about was the story behind those golden arches. This film is a double edge sword in that it’s a history I want to know but one that I’m surprised to learn. The McDonald brothers are portrayed as two men who have a grand idea and it works for them in a fantastic way.

That is until Ray Kroc comes in and although I understand his excitement, I was very upset in a way about how he went about it all. Does that mean I’ll never eat a McDonald’s French fry ever again – hardly.

Keaton puts his stamp on this role and along with Offerman and Lynch, THE FOUNDER is a film I highly recommend. The cinematography, costumes and sets are amazing and brought me back to that era with ease. This is a story that is well done by writer Robert D. Siegel who is also known for the 2008 film THE WRESTLER.

The Bluray includes the Special Features of a Behind-the-Scenes Gallery Featurette and Press Conferences. The Digital HD allows viewing from your television, computer, tablet and Smartphone.

In the end – risk taker, rule breaker and game changer!

Netflix Brings a Soldiers View in the Original Film SAND CASTLE

Chris Rossener

 

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to Netflix on April 21st from screenwriter Chris Roessner, Treehouse Pictures along with director Fernando Coimbra comes a look at the people and place that carry the realities of war with SAND CASTLE.

The film tells the story of Private Matt Ocre (Nicholas Hoult), a young man who intended to serve in the reserves to pay for college. When September 11th occurs, he hurts himself hopefully to be sent home.

Instead, he is sent back to his regiment to catch up with Sgt. Chutzky (Glen Powell), Cpt. Enzo (Neil Brown, Jr.), Sgt. Burton (Beau Knapp) and squad leader Sgt. Harper (Logan Marshall-Green). Learning they are all to be sent to Baghdad, Ocre comes in close contact with insurgents and after a firefight moves into an abandoned palace.

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After a few months, Pvt. Ocre and the other soldiers will be sent to Baqubah where a water station has been damaged. Their mission is to delivery water to the local residents and find a way to fix the pumping station.

They arrive to the greeting of Special Forces Cpt. Syverson (Henry Cavill) who tells them the villagers don’t want them there and that the danger surrounding them is very real. With a tanker truck to retrieve the water, almost immediately their nerves are tested when dealing with a truck that is eager to run up on them on the dirt road.

Arriving at the pumping station, it is clear that this is not an ordinary fix-it job. Cpt. Syverson and Sgt. Harper meet with the local Sheik (Salim Daw) to ask for help in getting the station up and running. His reply is since Americans destroyed it, they should fix it.

Disheartened by the Sheiks lack of help, the soldier return to retrieving water in the tank. On the way back they are hit by insurgents and the tanker is shot up. Explaining why there is no water to the residents become tumultuous at best. The local school teacher Kadeer (Navid Naghaban) tells Pvt. Ocre that they are asking for help from the wrong people.

Sand Castle

Harper tells Syverson about his conversation with Kadeer and believes he is the key to getting help to repair the station. The next day Kadeer shows up with his brother Arif (Nabil Elouahabi) who is an engineer and now they are working together.

Celebrating that night their success in reaching the villagers, it is only met with horror in the morning. Arif tells the soldiers where they can find insurgents and a raid turns up wounded to the platoon. Returning to the pumping station, Pvt. Ocre is more determined to get the job done. They are almost finished until a bomb explodes.

Back in Baghdad, Pvt. Ocre meets with Lt. Anthony, Sgt. Major MacGregor (Tommy Flanagan) and Sgt. Harper to discover that plans have been made about his future.

Chris Roessner is the screenwriter for the film SAND CASTLE. A former soldier who served for six years, he was based in Iraq for twelve months with the 4th Infantry Division which is part of a Civil Affairs unit. He says of his work, “Our job was to interact with the locals; the cliché is ‘win the hearts and minds of the people’.

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After leaving the army, Roessner attended USC in their film school writing Sand Castle his final semester. I had the distinct pleasure of speaking with Chris to learn about his time in the service, the need to write the script and how long it took to complete.

Jeri Jacquin: Hi Chris, thank you for taking the time to speak with me today about SAND CASTLE and, of course I wanted to say thank you for your service.

Chris Roessner: Hi Jeri, thank you, that’s very kind of you, I appreciate that.

JJ: I am a military mom and my son also served three tours of duty in Iraq.

CR: Well, then please tell him thank you for his service as well and give him a nice firm handshake from me.

JJ: Absolutely, I wanted to tell you that there are a couple of scenes in the film that reminded me exactly of pictures he had shown me, especially the scene inside the palace.

CR: I feel like every young teen that came through that palace thought the same thing, take a picture of it and sliding down the banister.

JJ: I read the notes and it said you were taking from your experiences during the time there, how deep did you go with that? Is it extremely close to being autobiographical?

CR: I went as deep as humanly possible until it hurt a just a little too much. I would say that what is authentic and what I cared about most is the way I portrayed the American soldiers and how I portrayed the Iraqi people. That’s what I cared most about more than anything. I feel that I hit that goal and I feel like the actors hit that goal. Some of the events were lifted from my experience but it was more important to me that the feeling of being at war was translated. Even if that meant I had to change and fictionalize some things. When I sat down to think about it I asked myself what is the feeling of war in one sentence. What would that feel like? I came up with the feeling of pushing a rock up a hill and watching it roll back down. I wanted to portray that feeling. This film is not about a singular mission with success or failure; it’s about the feeling of being at war risking your life, dying, being hurt, and your friends being hurt or killed and for the soul purpose of taking this giant ship and shifting it half a degree. That’s the feeling of war and I don’t think I’ve seen that fictionalized in cinema before. Again, even if the events aren’t entirely true, I think they are truer than true if that makes sense.

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JJ: One thing that just really intrigued me is that you wanted to portray the truth of the Iraqi people. I have to go with that because when I was watching the film I don’t think I’ve seen that before in films about the Iraqi war.

CR: Not at all and I am as proud of that as anything else in this movie. Our job was unique but you learn early on that you can not be successful unless you have the inclusion of the Iraqi people – you just can’t. You need interpreters, you need informants and you need people joining the police force or join the Iraqi military so you can train them. To me, if you are going to make a war film you have to find out what is unique about that particular war. How was the Iraq war different from Vietnam? How was Vietnam different than World War II? For me the center of all of this is that you must work with the local population to be successful. They may get hurt and you feel that emotionally, when you get hurt they feel that emotionally. Your goal is one in the same.

JJ: I’m so glad you put it that way. I think that it is something important; you have to get into a mindset in order for things to work together.

CR: Yes, I think that’s what I learned in my Iraq experience and what I hope the audience learns is that it takes courage to remain empathetic. There are things that happen that are beyond your wildest imaginings, it takes real courage to maintain your value set. It takes real courage to maintain empathy. I feel like that is something getting lost in our culture. Since returning home I feel like people see empathy as a weakness and the opposite is true. It takes real courage to remain empathetic and indeed it’s the only way to win wars like this or even change the tide. We have to remain true to our values and our empathy even in the face of very difficult circumstances.

JJ: When did you decide that you wanted to make this film?

CR: I knew that I wanted to make a film about the Iraq war and I can remember the exact moment it happened. When I was 19 and I was in the presidential palace in Tikrit, Iraq and I was on watch all night in case there was an emergency of some kind. What that usually means is that you are up all night watching movies which is what I did. I put Oliver Stone’s movie PLATOON into the DVD player at about three in the morning. As I watched it and it was over I knew immediately what I wanted to do. I wanted to try to make a film that was as emotional as that one because I had never seen anything like it. It took me seven years to actually sit down and write it but I think that moment in the palace at 3 in the morning was the start of this whole journey.

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JJ: You said it took seven years to put it together, was that due to the writing process for you?

CR: Actually I didn’t try to sit down and write it until I was twenty-seven. I think the seven year gap after returning from Iraq and sitting down to write it was me not knowing, again, why I would make this film. I didn’t want to sit down and write just anything. That question of what makes this war different and what were my experiences different took me seven years to answer those questions. I was 20 when I got back and had all this stuff in my brain, all these experiences and I was confused. I did a lot of work on myself just like anybody else. I kind of needed to be a kid a little bit because I missed this whole portion of my life with college and the like. I think I just needed that much time to get a little bit of distance so when I did sit down to write it, it wouldn’t hurt so bad. I need that amount of distance from it.

JJ: That actually was what I was going to ask about the process, you kind of have to find your place again to write something like this.

CR: Absolutely, you have to find a new sense of purpose. When you are in the military your purpose is very clear and very defined. You are what I call a single function device and have a clear goal on a day to day basis. You are pointed in a direction and that’s where you go. After living that way for several years and come home at 20 or 21 and that’s gone, you have to find that purpose again. It’s a tough adjustment.

JJ: When that time passed, is there something that said inside you to get this done?

CR: Yes, it was Christmas break in 2011-12 and I was in California going to college and I couldn’t afford to go home for Christmas. I was feeling a little off anyway and thought I’d sit down and write something. I wrote the first draft in three weeks all through Christmas break. I kind of dumped it all out and it was enough for me to recognize that it felt right. It felt like this is what I needed to do. That three week period was exhilarating but then the hard work began. I was ready to do that hard work and felt emotionally fortified like I knew I could do this and come out the other side.

JJ: Tell me what your next step was once the script was written?

CR: Well, I was very lucky because when I finished the script I gave it to a friend of mine who worked for Mark Gordon who is one of the Executive Producers on this film. He produced SAVING PRIVATE RYAN and is a really great guy. He read it on a Friday night and by Sunday night of that same weekend my whole life changed. The script was passed around Hollywood very quickly and Mark called me Sunday night and said, ‘This is good but not good enough. I’m going to help make it good and help get this thing made’. It was ten years of not making any money, struggling, getting eviction notices to my life changing.

JJ: When people are watching the story, what would you like them to take away from the film?

CR: A couple of things, first, that we were only successful when working alongside the Iraqi people, that is very important to know. Second, the actors in the film were cast because they were good actors but also because they looked the right age. The average age of a person in Iraq was 20 maybe 22. It’s important that people recognize that. I would say those two things are most important. I would also hope that if their humanity is touched a bit that they realize that patriotism is a very active thing. It is not a bumper sticker or crying every time you hear the national anthem. You have to make sure that the young men and women you serve are taken care of by affording education and affording healthcare. People should consider how to involve themselves in these causes otherwise it is not patriotic. You have to be passionate and involve yourself actively!

JJ: Thank you so much Chris for everything – for your service and for your dedication to getting this film made. It means a lot to me not just as a writer but as a Mom, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

CR: Thank you Jeri, that means so very much to me.

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SAND CASTLE is a film that experiences so much human in emotion on both sides of the Iraq war. The soldiers who come to understand they are not wanted in Iraq but have to be there to the villagers that do want help but to do so can decimate families and in between are insurgents who only want to destroy.

The cast, set and cinematography bring realism to viewers and into this important story. I am very sure that former and current military men and women will recognize the dilemmas and emotions of these characters.

Roessner has shared part of himself and that makes all the difference. For me, to make a story such as this portray so much tension, danger, anxiety, sadness and hope – this young screenwriter did not hesitate to include not only the lives of the soldiers, but the Iraqi people.

I encourage everyone to take a moment to view the film SAND CASTLE premiering on Netflix April 21st.

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