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November 2019

WHERE’D YOU GO, BERNADETTE? Questions Life on Bluray

bernadette Cover
Jeri Jacquin
Coming to Bluray from director writer/director Richard Linklater, Anna Purna Pictures and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment is best seller by Maria Semple come to screen with WHERE’D YOU GO, BERNADETTE?
Wife and Mom Bernadette (Cate Blanchett) is having a bit of a problem. First, she hates people with the exception of husband Elgin (Billy Crudup) and daughter Bee (Emma Nelson) which causes problems for everyone around her. Second, she hates to leave the house being perfectly happy staying away from said other human beings. The one person who seems to test both of these is neighbor Audrey (Kristen Wiig).
From bushes to mothers talking behind her back to blaming Seattle for her erratic emotions, Bernadette learns Bee wants a family trip to Antarctica. Seeing that husband Elgin is emotionally away, a plan is thrust into action to try and keep the family moving forward. The problem is Elgin has already decided that Bernadette needs an intervention after discovering she has been using a virtual assistant that is actually wanted by the FBI.
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Informing her that he will be taking Bee on the family trip, Bernadette finds a way to escape the situation and heads for the snow by herself. From making a friend to being a stow away, Bee and Elgin are hot on her trail realizing that all they want is Bernadette to be happy!
Blanchett as Bernadette is comical yet I understand her. Her grouchiness with people keeps her creativity flowing in how to irritate them more than they irritate her. Although I wouldn’t go so far as the sign she posted, I get it, I totally get it. Perhaps that is why I went on this journey with the character, when she discovers that life has been keeping her weighed down in the most twisted of ways, we cheer her ability to recognize and jump outside her comfort zone. I’m not sure I need to go to Antarctica but far away where there is warm beaches is a thought. That is the brilliance of Blanchett, she has always made her characters relatable and Bernadette, although slightly off kilter, is what I have come to expect.
Nelson as Bee has an attachment to her mother that is both loving and protective. She knows Mom isn’t exactly like all the other Moms but then again, it’s her Mom and no one, and she means NO ONE is going to change the life they have. Loving her father, she also realizes that he is partially responsible for the slipshod way the family is being handled. Nelson is such a delight to watch and even when she stands up for the situation, who could ever help but do whatever she needs to make her world right.
Crudup as Elgin is a husband who is basically moving on autopilot when it comes to his wife and daughter. Knowing that Bernadette was always different, it is the same story that what was adorable at the beginning of a relationship is no longer so adorable. Trying to sustain and shrug off his wife’s behavior as ‘oh well’ isn’t working for him so he turns to an intervention. Even daughter Bee knows the way he handled it was nothing short of a bone head plan. It takes extremely cold temperatures for Crudup’s character to snap back into reality.
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Wiig as Audrey is hilarious in a really gotta-hate-that-neighbor sort of way but there is another side that is revealed and very touching. Fishburne stops by as Jellinek is someone who knows Bernadette and after a five minute quick rant realizes what we all do, that she needs to get her butt back to work!
Other cast include James Urbaniak as Marcus, Judy Greer as Dr. Kurtz, Troian Bellisario as Becky, Claudia Doumit as Iris, Katelyn Statton as Vivian and Laurence Fishburne as Paul Jellinek.
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment brings award-winning global product and new entertainment to DVD, Bluray, and Digital HD. There amazing collection offers fans an opportunity to expand their own home libraries with the best films. To discover what other titles they have please visit www.fox.com.
Annapurna,  founded  by  Megan  Ellison  in  2011,  focuses  on  creating  sophisticated,  high-quality content that is critically and commercially conscious while still appealing to a diverse audience. Authentic creative voices no matter the genre or medium, has garnered a total of 52 Academy Award nominations, including five Best Picture nods for American Hustle, Her, Zero Dark Thirty, Phantom Thread and Vice.
Movies Anywhere simplifies and enhances the digital movie collection and viewing experience by allowing consumers to access their favorite digital movies in one place when purchased or redeemed through participating digital retailers. Movies Anywhere brings together the movies from Sony Pictures Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox Film, Universal Pictures, The Walt Disney Studios, and Warner Bros. Participating digital retails are iTunes.
The Bluray, DVD and Digital Special Features include Bringing Bernadette to Life, Who is Bernadette? and Gallery.
WHERE’D YOU GO, BERNADETTE? is a film that doesn’t give a moment to rest up between scenes because that is not who Bernadette is. Her brain and mouth are going light speed and everyone around her is exhausted trying to keep up. She doesn’t see it because that would mean accepting that she has fallen into a hole that she can’t build her way out of.
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That is the sad part of the film, that she doesn’t recognize what has been happening to her life. It takes a few slaps to wake her up and wanting to fix it becomes her new fixation. The problem is everyone around her has already had enough, unfortunately that includes husband Elgin.
So, this is a film that carries so many themes and it is Blanchett that carries the weight of it all. Nelson and Crudup do their character best to keep up but I’m giving this one to Blanchett. There are times in the film that are so genuinely relatable to so many people in that sometimes it all gets away from us. We all feel the effects of warp speed living and this film gives us a chance to understand that slowing down and making time to do the things we love for those we love is imperative.
And – remember that it’s absolutely acceptable to love ourselves as well. Those around us are perfectly capable of seeing when we don’t so let’s not fool ourselves any longer. You don’t have to go to Antarctica to bring happiness to life so pick a spot on the map and go for it.
In the end – disappearances can be deceiving!

A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD is from the Heart

Neighbor cover
Jeri Jacquin
Coming to theatres to delight and remind us all of our potential from director Marielle Heller and Sony Pictures with A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD.
Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys) is a writer who is making a name for himself and it’s not a good one.  As no one else will work with him, Esquire editor Ellen (Christine Lahti) gives him the only assignment left which is interviewing Mr. Fred Rogers (Tom Hanks). Unhappy with it, wife Andrea (Susan Watson) reminds him that Mr. Rogers is an icon and to “please don’t ruin my childhood”.
Grumpy about all of it, he meets with Mr. Rogers at the studio where he makes his children’s television show. Watching his interaction with others makes Lloyd uncomfortable but for more reasons than he is ready to grasp. When it only lasts a few moments, Lloyd packs up his wife and young newborn son and its off to sister Lorraine’s (Tammy Blanchard) wedding. Also at the wedding his Jerry Vogel (Chris Cooper), Lloyd’s estranged father.
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An outburst at the wedding leaves both Lloyd and Jerry roughed up and at the next interview with Mr. Rogers, he notices. Talking it out makes Lloyd even more uncomfortable and can’t seem to get away fast enough. That’s when Lloyd realizes that things from his past are interfering with his present life. When Jerry tries to reach out but he just can’t get past his anger.
Throwing himself into the article, Lloyd watches Mr. Rogers and how he speaks to people, the life topics he covers and his outlook on life. Trying to grasp it all, a family issue means that Lloyd might have the opportunity to see firsthand what Mr. Rogers has been trying to tell and show him about kindness and forgiveness.
Sometimes we all just need one person to believe in us!
Hanks as Mr. Rogers is completely stunning and leaves an imprint in the heart. Because I come from a generation that knew about Mr. Rogers, I cannot think of one actor besides Hanks that could have done this film. I believe so much in what Lloyd’s wife says about not ruining our childhood and that could have easily happened. Instead, Hanks reminds us so much of why we embraced Mr. Rogers and why we hold his and our memories so dear. The calmness in the midst of so much sadness in Lloyd’s life allows us to open our hearts even further to the story we see on the screen. But do we really expect anything different from Hanks? He gives us all something to think about through his performances and in being Mr. Rogers, we owe him that much.
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Rhys as Lloyd is a man who is just living life one moment at a time and it all comes from a childhood anger that he carries like a bag of bricks. Everyone seems to give him a pass with the anger he carries for his father but, as with anyone who lives for anger, the pass is about to expire. He can’t fathom how Mr. Rogers can keep his heart so open to others and feels that “Mr. Rogers” is a television persona. It’s when he puts the bag of bricks down does Lloyd have a chance to truly connect with those who continue, through it all, to love him. Of course, Mr. Rogers isn’t about to leave Lloyd to do all of it on his own.
Watson as wife Andrea accepts Lloyd for the emotional roller coaster he always seems to be on. With a new baby to tend to, she wants more for her family in the way of connection and love. It is easy to believe Watson’s performance since it is very similar to Beth from the television drama series This Is Us. Blanchard as sister Lorraine understands Lloyds anger but in her own life is trying to make different choices. She may have made her own mistakes (such as marriages) but Blanchard shows a forgiving nature in the midst of it all.
Cooper as dad Jerry is rough around the edges and not very good at showing remorse or affection. Lloyd can’t even look at him without remembering pain and Cooper plays a man who is not only dealing with issues but trying to find a way of saying ‘I’m sorry’. Cooper has the amazing ability of playing roles that have so much depth to them once you get past the gruffness as with Jerry.
Other cast include: Maryann Plunkett as Joanne Rogers, Enrico Colantoni as Bill Isler, Wendy Makkena as Dorothy, Noah Harpster as Todd, Carmen Cusack as Margy, Maddie Corman as Lady Aberlin and Daniel Krell as Mr. McFeely.
A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD is not exactly what I expected. Yes, it’s about Mr. Rogers and yet it isn’t. It is Lloyd Vogel’s story about Mr. Rogers and how spending time with him changes everything. Then again most of us already know that it can happen because, as with my own experiences, it has before.
Mr. Rogers embraces Lloyd, whether he likes it or not, to try and show that we need one another. Being patient isn’t something Lloyd seems to have but it is something Mr. Rogers seems to have in abundance. The two most unlikely people to come together happens slowly throughout the film – and mainly due to the persistence and belief from Mr. Rogers.
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Watching Rhy’s Lloyd go through his struggle is at times heartbreaking and Hanks as Mr. Rogers almost encourages us to feel that heartbreak. There is acceptance and forgiveness in each frame of the film and, to be honest, it also felt as if we didn’t we would let down Mr. Rogers!
It is the perfect time of year for A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD and for reasons that are plain but I’ll go ahead and mention them anyway. This is a film about listening to one another, offering help in any way that would ease pain, be there for those we love, forgive just as easily as we hold grudges and always embrace a couple of seconds longer just so the people we care about know that they are not alone.
In the end – we could all use a little kindness!

Disney Delights with FROZEN II

Frozen cover
Jeri Jacquin
Coming to theatres in time to welcome us all into the holiday season from director Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee and Walt Disney Pictures is the return to Arendelle and FROZEN II.
Anna (Kristen Bell), Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), Olaf (Josh Gad), Sven and Queen Elsa (Indina Menzel) are enjoying life in their city. Since their adventure it is nice for them all to just enjoy each other’s company and the people. That is until Elsa starts to hear this strange call that no one else seems to hear.
Putting it out of her mind, the city prepares for a gathering but is suddenly interrupted by strange winds driving the towns people to a safe cliff outside Arendelle. Confused by what is happening, Queen Elsa feels as if the problems are caused by the voice that is calling out to her. Deciding that she must go and find answers, Anna and Kristoff make it clear she isn’t going alone.
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Loading up into the sled on wheels, Sven takes them to a place that both Anna and Elsa believed was only a tale their father told. A wall of mist blocks them from going forward but when Elsa touches it, a door is opened wide revealing people living on the other side. That’s when the girls discover that there is truth to the tale and that there are still more questions to be answered.
With each step they take, more and more of their parents life become clearer. But, there comes a moment when Elsa realizes that she can no longer put Anna’s life in danger and takes the final steps of the journey alone were all is revealed – but will it be too late for Arendelle!
Bell as Anna shows a lot more maturity in this film in that she feels even more protective over her sister Queen Elsa. Still googly eyed over love Kristoff, she is back in her happy place. When the wind changes in Arendelle and she sees that something is wrong with Elsa, Anna makes it very clear from the onset that whatever it is they will face it together. Bell brings her pipes back with song, love and a whole lot of fun.
Menzel as Queen Elsa is having a difficult time concentrating on Arendelle because of the mysterious voice. Still feeling a little out of place in life, she feels there is something in the wind that is calling to her. Fight as she may, the voice is too strong to ignore. Menzel brings her voice to belt out more than one song and it is with that voice that we are with Elsa every step of this next journey.
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Groff as Kristoff is very happy with his life in Arendelle and even happier with Anna. Now ready to try something a little different, he seems to have great difficulty making it happen. Groff once again brings his charm that oozes through his voice to a character that is strong for those around him yet still has that goofiness I enjoy about this character. Oh let us not forget Sven, he is back and just as hoppingly endearing as ever with his extended family.
Gad as Olaff is still the lovable snowman who loves everyone around him and yet still maintains that bit of innocence that makes him unforgettable. That’s what Gad brings to this character, a memorable giggle, a heart that runs over with love for Elsa, Anna, Kristoff and his good buddy Sven. He is the snowman we all wanted growing up, at least I did all those times building a snowman in Chicago. Thanks Gad for bringing my childhood character to life.
Shout out to Hinds for returning as the wise and round stone Pabbie. He gave out the first warning of what was to come for Arendelle and the royal family. Brown as Mattias has his own story to tell of what lies beyond the mist and it is a story worth hearing.
Other cast include Sterling K. Brown as Mattias, Evan Rachel Wood as Iduna, Jason Ritter as Ryder, Alan Tudyk as Northuldra, Rachel Matthews as Honeymaren, Ciaran Hinds as Pabbie and Martha Plimpton as Yelana, Alfred Molina as Agnarr and Jeremy Sisto as King Runeard.
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FROZEN II brings songs, fun, giggles, color and a re-connection with characters that have stayed with us all since 2013. The song “Let It Go” became an anthem for anyone who wanted to do just that even though my personal favorite was “In Summer” and who doesn’t love a lovable dreaming snowman?
It is such a precarious thing to make a sequel to such a highly successful animated film. It doesn’t always work and sometimes it works badly. Some of it might be because I always feel slightly cheated by sequels like the idea is a second thought thrown on a screen hoping it will stick with viewers.
This film is not that in the slightest. What FROZEN II brings is a delightful return to embraced characters that doesn’t feel like six years has even passed. It is a visually stunning feast for the eyes with rich colors which are completely dazzling. The story may have a few hiccups but seriously, let it go (and I said that).
The entire cast returns (which always is a great thing) with 8 new songs that are as powerful as the original film. Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez returned to write the new songs for the film. Composer Christophe Beck  also returned to bring his magic to the score.
Am I being extremely vague in my description of the film…well, yes! I am hardly about to tell every detail of the film because it’s FROZEN II and no one, and I mean no one has the right to ruin it. This is a film about family and community, wanting to understand where we come from, learning who we are and what we are made of, protecting those we love and, of course, loving each other unconditionally.
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Disney has been on a very cool winning streak with their animated films and FROZEN II seals the 2019 deal for them. The launch of Disney+ this week means that in a few months you can FROZEN and FROZEN II all year long which I know my granddaughter intends to do.
FROZEN II is a time for families to have a wonderful holiday beginning together. Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, Sven and Olaf are part of our own families now and to spend 104 minutes together feels like home in many ways. In the theatre we embrace our children and grandchildren as the story unfolds because we share a connection with our friends on the screen. We understand the struggles, the love, friendship and caring and that makes FROZEN II just about everything we need in family time.
In the end – they are going into the unknown!

Disney+ Rolls Out its First Hit with THE MANDALORIAN

Mandalorian cover

Jeri Jacquin

Currently on the new streaming service Disney+ from characters based on George Lucas’ STAR WARS and creator Jon Favreau is a continuing story in the galaxy far, far away with THE MANDALORIAN.

It has been five years since the Galactic Empire’s defeat and life has gone on. For a Mandalorian bounty hunter (Pedro Pascal) it means working hard for very little. When the need for a hunter slows down, there is one job that needs doing and Greef Karga (Carl Weathers) offers it up with what seems a veil of mystery.

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The job is to go to Arvala-7 and find the bounty who happens to be fifty years old. Dr. Pershing (Omid Abtahi) makes it very clear that the bounty be brought back alive. The Mandalorian doesn’t seem to care in the slightest as long as he can change a bar of Beskar into armorer.

Crashing onto Arvala-7, the Mandalorian is attacked by large creatures called Blurgg’s and is saved by Kuiil (Nick Nolte) who wants only one thing in return. Kuill wants those who have invaded his planet to be removed so peace will return, oh, and the Blurgg! Taking him to the place where bounty hunters have gone previously, a quick showdown ensues with the help of a IG-11 droid. Finding the bounty, The Mandalorian isn’t going to let anyone get near him.

A fifty year old infant is now in his hands but there are other mercenaries who want the kid. Trying to get away quickly, The Mandalorian discovers his ship has been stripped down by Jawas. Kuiil knows how to get it all back and with his help, plus a trip to get an egg, provides the parts to get off the ground again.

Pascal as The Mandalorian has already thrilled audiences in only two episodes. There is a mystery behind the helmet that he (so far) hasn’t made an attempt to remove. This character obviously has a story to tell about his people, the Beskar, how he became a bounty hunter and why he is keeping his bounty safer than expected. Pascal seemed to have a steep road ahead of him but I’m thinking it’s leveled off a lot more since the first episode. I can’t wait to see what comes next.

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Weather as Greef is a business man and his business is bounties. It is clear he has no problem stiffing The Mandalorian for his work but I always say what goes around comes around so Greef better be prepared. Nice to see Weathers again! Abhati as Dr. Pershing has me creeped out in that he is going to be the guy who wants to do things that is going to upset everyone. Nothing wrong with playing a bad guy as long as you do it extremely well.

Nolte as Kuiil is a character that has a lot of emotions but keeps them in check. Then again if Nick Nolte says, “I have spoken” you tend to believe him. I am hoping that we see more of this character because he certainly has something to offer.

Other cast include Werner Herzog as The Client, Taika Waititi as IG-11, Gina Carano as Cara Dune, Giancarlo Esposito as Moff Gideon with Horatio Sanz as Mythrol, Ming-Na Wen as Fennec Shand, and Julia Jones as Omera.

It was announced in 2018 that Jon Favreau would serve as a writer and executive producer of the series. Adding to that list is Dave Filoni, Colin Wilson, and Kathleen Kennedy to complete the producers list. When it comes to directors the line includes Taika Waititi, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rick Famuyiwa and Deborah Chow.

With that line up and the success of Disney+ and only two episodes airing to a hungry Star Wars audience, it is no surprise that the green light has been given to the second season. To be honest I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about the film having been disappointed by a few films in the Star Wars franchise.

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That being said, by the end of the first episode I was squealing with delight and thrilled that the second episode wasn’t so far behind. Telling anyone who will listen to watch THE MANDALORIAN immediately is probably wearing my friends out. It’s true though, this is going to be a series that has such potential and the main reason is that it feels like Star Wars, and that above all is what will keep me coming back each week.

This is out of the park for Disney+ in that they have everything Star Wars on their streaming service so while I’m introducing my granddaughter to the Star Wars saga, I can enjoy the continuation of that world. Mainly because the kid in me is totally geeking out over THE MANDALORIAN!

Thanks Disney+!

AWAY is Visually Stunning and Artfully Told

away cover
Jeri Jacquin
Wanting to experience something truly spectacular? Coming from animator Gints Zilbalodis and Subliminal Films is the upcoming film AWAY.
A young boy finds himself hanging from a tree in the desert still attached to his parachute when he sees a huge dark figure coming towards him. In moments he feels enveloped by something he doesn’t understand and manages to break free of it. Running away towards the mountains he is followed slowly by the figure but when he crosses under a half round sculpture, the figure stops outside of it.
The boy decides to continue away from the figure into a beautiful green, lush and relaxing forest. Discovering fresh water he revives himself from the desert and even finds fruit. He also finds a small bird who is unable to fly and grateful for any morsels the boy cares to share.
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Exploring further he discovers a motorcycle and teaches himself to ride, a backpack that holds the key to where he needs to go and the figure still standing outside the half round sculpture. To his surprise he also finds something in the caves that motivates him to leave even more. Loading up and preparing, the boy knows that he has to be swift to get away from the figure.
Food, water and a feathered passenger flies past and begins to follow the other half round sculptures that are the visual road to where he needs to be. Along the way the boy finds challenges, nature and the ability to survive more than he ever thought possible.
It is a journey of wonder to be sure!
Writer/director Zilbalodis is responsible for such short films as Aqua (2012), Priorities (2014), Followers (2014), Inaudible (2015) and Oasis (2017), the last of which was developed further into the feature version of AWAY. He worked on AWAY for over three years single handedly before it premiered in 2019 in such festivals as Annecy, Fantasia, Animafest, Shanghai, Anima Mundi, Strasbourg, Sitges and Tokyo.
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In the three years it took Zilbalodis to bring AWAY to the screen let me say that every single solitary moment of that time is breathtaking to behold. The most amazing part of it is that not a single word is spoken, not – a – single -word! It doesn’t need any to understand everything that is happening. In fact, had I heard a word I honestly believe I would have been taken out of the spell I was completely under.
There are so many things to take away from this film (no pun intended) but for me it was a combination of the will to take life into your own hands, respect fear but don’t let it rule you, look at the stunning beauty around you, explore everything even if you can only do it in your own back yard and, above all, embrace the little feathery things in this life because they won’t be around forever.
I know that might seem too simplistic of a list but that’s just my personal take. Let’s talk about the animation because even though I am a huge animation film fan, this is so much more than that. I loved the foliage, the birds, lake, elephants, elements and the cats. I loved the colors, the imagery, the voids and everything in between.
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To be honest I wasn’t sure what I would be seeing with this film but something tremendous drew me to it and whatever that something was – I thank it from the bottom of my film loving heart. Sharing every emotion with the boy, catching my breath here and there, cheering him on and yet a little sad when it was over – that is what AWAY did to me and for me.
The music and sounds are everything to the imagery we are shown on the screen and it is nothing short of stellar and spectacular. A triumph of life with whimsy and hope, it is a powerful film that I will see again and again.
In the end – he is going home!

VIKINGS Sets to Return in December

Vikings cover
Jeri Jacquin
Coming to The History Channel on December 4th is the long awaited return of one of the channels most stunning and epic series to date is VIKINGS.
The last season ended with a battle between Ivar the Boneless (Alex Hogh Andersen) and brother Bjorn Ironside (Alexander Ludwig). Now Ivar has escaped with his life and Bjorn has taken the throne of Kattegat. Immediately the new king lets his people know that he wants to expand the city becoming an important route for trade. This will help all the people of Kattegat prosper.
On the road, Ivar travels on The Silk Road discovering things he didn’t know existed. While on the road he is captured and taken to the Russian leader and proclaimed old Viking Kievan Rus Prince Oleg (Danila Kozlovsky). Discovering he has Ivar the Boneless, the Prince makes it clear from the onset that he is more merciless than Ivar ever thought he was. When the Prince asks what it is that Ivar wants, the name Kattegat is uttered and Ivar is assured that his vengeance will come but first, the royal has his own family problems to deal with.
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In Kattegat, Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick) tells Bjorn that she no longer wants to be a figurehead of his reign. Instead, she is tired and wants nothing more than to go back to where she had a life with Ragnar and farm in peace leaving the life of a shield-maiden in the past. The women of the village come to see the famous Lagertha and tells her that most of the men have been killed in wars and attacks. The attacks aren’t over as a new, formidable and the recognizable leader wants nothing more than to hurt everyone in his path and he has Lagertha in his sights.
Ivar in Kiev is beginning to understand what it is that motivates Oleg and his viciousness. Proving with ease that the Prince will destroy anyone who gets in his way, he takes young nephew Igor to raise. Ivar makes slow moves in order to place himself in a position that allows him to outwardly seem afraid but behind those eyes is a game that the Prince might not be prepared to play.
In Kattegat, Bjorn receives a message of help from a prior enemy and feels the need to do the right thing. Before leaving, he asks about Floki and what has happened to him. Not getting the answer he wants, Bjorn makes it clear that he will discover the truth and if anything has happened to Floki, someone will be held accountable. Ubbe (Jordan Patrick Smith) and Torvi (Georgia Hirst) are sent to the place now called Iceland to find answers.
The message of help turns out to be something totally different as Bjorn, Harald and Olaf come to a meeting of the minds and the suggestion that a vote be taken to find a King of Norway. Olaf believes that the ruler should be Bjorn Ironside but there are others who might have a different opinion.
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What happens at that vote might change everything as the leaders know it.
Ludwig as Bjorn Ironside has taken the helm of Kattegat just as his father Ragnar (Travis Fimmel) did in the Vikings series. From the beginning, Ludwig has always been in the shadows as we have watched him grow into a storyline that is harsh but the reality of history in the Dark Ages. The character of Bjorn has grown slow and steady rising further into the storyline and Ludwig has given us every reason to remain curious as to how his story will end. The character of Bjorn tries everything possible to not be like the leaders that have gone before, including his father, mistakes are made but Ludwig’s Bjorn leans quickly.
Winnick as Lagertha has been through the wringer and back again. Starting as a farmer with husband Ragnar, becoming Queen, not Queen and then Queen somewhere else and back to Kattegat taking out enemies along the way has just worn this lady out. Winnick has returned season after season giving her character strength, courage and eventually the ability to weed out those who are trying to destroy her. In all of this she has kept her sense of family, even children that are Ragnar’s she has tried to embrace.
Andersen as Ivar continues to intrigue audiences with the duality of his insane brutality and moments where we all think he might have a chance to be human after all. He believes himself to be a god but certainly discovers that shouting it from the rooftops brings about unsavory characters who don’t care about his divinity. Andersen continues to surprise with his performance and with this final season I am truly interested where this character will be taken.
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Franzen as Harald is another Viking who has ideas of his own about how things should be done and who should do them. Always with the slight of hand in his planning I am keeping an eye on him. Smith and Hirst are the couple who are trying to help find answers in Floki’s Iceland. That is a part of the storyline that I am so interested in and partly because I think Floki has been through just as much as the Lothbrok line.
Shout out to Marco llso as Hvitserk for what he is about to put everyone through!
This historical drama created by Michael Hirst began with the story of Norse hero Ragnar Lothbrok. We have seen almost everything possible with love, family, deception, intrigue and battles that hold nothing back. This is the final season and Viking fans, like myself, know that all good things come to an end but we aren’t happy about it at all.
In just the first few episodes, the stage is set for changes that all of this has been leading up to. The cast is doing a wonderful job of taking us on this final leg of the journey.
Hirst created another of my favorite shows from Showtime with The Tudors followed with Camelot for Starz. Back to Showtime for the series The Borgias and MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS with Saoirse Ronan, ELIZABETH and ELIZABETH: The Golden Age. Hirst has such an amazing ability to bring a richness to the stories he tells but some outstanding actors to bring it all to the screen.
The History Channel brings Vikings back on December 4th so get through turkey day safely because once you are back at Kattegat, the ride will have begun and there is no turning back. Everything that we have come to embrace about each character is going to keep us coming back until the very last scene.
As salve to our open wound, it has been announced that Hirst is creating a series called Vikings: Vahalla that will be seen on Netflix. Said to be set one hundred years later there will be a new group of famous Vikings and their fight for survival in an ever-changing world.
Even with that, we all can agree that our excitement about Vikings came from Ragnar Lothbrok and all the intrigue that followed. Prepare to see how it all plays out with the return of Vikings on the History Channel December 4th!

BY THE GRACE OF GOD is a Story Praying to be Told

By the Grace cover
Jeri Jacquin
In theatres this week from writer/director Francois Ozon and Music Box Films comes a true story of a continual fight BY THE GRACE OF GOD.
Alexandre Guerin (Melvil Poupaud) is a married father of five who is a devout Catholic. Enjoying his family holds only one part of life in secret. When Alexandre was a child, Father Bernard Preynat took away part of his childhood in a series of unspeakable acts. When he is confronted with the information that Father Preynat is still working with children, Alexandre is forced to make a decision about what to do next.
Understanding that there is a statute of limitations legally, he goes directly to Cardinal Barbarin (Francois Marthouret) with his story. Listening patiently, the Cardinal sends him to speak with Regine Marie (Martine Erhel) who sets up a meeting with Father Preynat (Bernard Verley). Worried how he is going to handle the situation, wife Marie (Aurelia Petit) is supportive knowing it’s also time to tell his older sons.
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During the meeting with Regine Maire and Father Preynat, Alexandre feels every panic emotion possible as the priest admits he has a problem and that he suffers. It is the “he suffers” that sends Alexandre into a tailspin and more emails to the Cardinal. Both Alexandre and Marie are starting to feel as if they are being placated instead of serious action being taken, especially when Father Preynat shows up in their church.
That is when Alexandre decides to file charges which does something he could not have expected. As he looks for more victims (and finds them), he also comes to meet Francois Debord (Denis Menochet). Francois is a man who has always had the support of his parents as they tried to do everything they could informing the church of Father Preynat which came to nothing.
At first Francois isn’t interested in being part of anything to do with it, but when he and wife Odile (Helene Vincent) research they discover that Preynat has been working with children ever since. Finding the emotional strength, his righteous anger leads him to staying silent no longer.
Filing his own charges, Francois also begins looking for victims and helps to creates the Lift the Burden of Silence. Believing that the police and the church aren’t going to much in the way of helping, the newly formed group take it step by step to get the word out through a media campaign. Hearing about it is Emmanuel (Eric Caravaca), a young man who is tormented by what happened and feels there has been nothing in his life. Encouraged by mother Irene (Josiane Balasko), he meets with Francois and learns that he now can speak out and have the emotional support to do so.
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Continuing together to fight with whatever means possible, they create a website for other survivors to reach out and get the justice they deserve for a childhood taken by someone who is so trusted by families.
Poupaud as Alexandre is such a calm man considering the hurt he has carried since childhood. Looking for guidance still in the church, it becomes a daily struggle when the unresolved past comes back. He is a man who isn’t looking for money, fame or to bring down the church – just to make it safe for children and the child still inside him. There are such strong moments that Poupaud is clearly angered but he doesn’t let it control every step he takes after realizing that the church isn’t going to make it right. Poupaud’s performance actually kept my own anger in check and shared his hope until the very end of the film.
Menochet as Francois begins his story not wanting to bring up the past. Feeling he put his parents through enough when he was a child, just tries to wave it away. That is until he discovers that the man who left a scar on his soul is still being allowed to be around children. That’s when his anger begins to find its way out and he takes a strong stand against those who claim to care but don’t, those who claim to want to tell the story but don’t and a religious system that will try to stonewall them all. Menochet gives it to us straight and without apology and there isn’t a moment where his character should ever think to apologize. If Alexandre is the calm then Francois is the fierce storm.
Caravaca as Emmanuel is the openly tortured soul of the trio the film tackles. He has been unable to find his place in the world because of the constant internal struggle. His ability to hold relationships is shaky at best and the only thing stable in life is the support of his mother. Once he speaks with Francois and realizes there is a way out of the hole they’ve all been put in, he reaches for the light totally. He begins to see the world as it can be for him and that is everything for Emmanuel.
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Verley as Father Preynat has the most difficult job of not caring that by the end of the film we despise his character. Throughout the film I became so engrained in the story I found myself shouting at him. Of course I realize he is the actor portraying Father Preynat but he is brilliant in getting the desired emotional effect. Marthouret as Cardinal Barbarin is another actor who had my total disgust by the films end. Barbarin should receive the same punishment as anyone else who covers their rear end with a cardinals robes and Marthouret gave us the performance needed to make that emotion come to the surface.
Erhel as Regine Maire is another character that just about send me over the edge. Her surface demeanor is one of care and concern, but each time she is on the screen I am less and less a believer that Regine Maire is someone I’d ever trust. Well done Erhel!
Other cast include Eric Caravaca as Gilles Perret, Helene Vincent as Odile Debord, Frederic Pierrot as Captain Courteau, Jeanne Rosa as Dominique Perret, and Amelie Daure as Jennifer.
BY THE GRACE OF GOD is a difficult film from beginning to end for several reasons. One, beause of the mere fact that it has taken so long for these men to receive some peace (and not at the hands of the church) by taking control. Seeing their stories of faith being tested, memories difficult to bear and the anguish of families who also are struggling with what happened to their children is heartbreaking. It is also a look at the children of these men who learn that their fathers have experienced something they can’t even imagine just to make sure they never have to.
These men live in a world where it became necessary to jump out of their childhood fears and feel worthy of standing up to say ‘this can no longer happen to any other child…ever again!’ Their road could not have been an easy one and every time they were slapped down by the powers that be, the rose up even stronger and in more numbers. Finding that strength in each other and accepting that the process could take a while, they still didn’t give up.
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There was nothing in these men that sought fame or money and that’s what kept me watching the film. How do you tell someone that has never experienced anything like they have that fighting for what is right takes as much strength as the will to live with what comes after. It is time for the Vatican to stand with victims such as the Lift the Burden of Silence group and do what is morally, spiritually and criminally right. To accept anything less from the Vatican is unacceptable.
Director Ozon says of his film, “My starting point for this film came from a desire to explore masculine fragility and sensitivity. My films are often about strong women. This time, I wanted to show men suffering and expressing deep emotions. As a matter of fact, my working title for the project was The Crying Man.”
He explains that, “In 2018, I discovered La Parole Liberee (Lift the Burden of Silence), a website created by men who had been abused as children by a Catholic priest in Lyon [France]. I was particularly touched by Alexandre, a fervent Catholic who was finally able to tell his story at the age of forty. The website was full of powerful personal accounts, interviews, articles and email exchanges with local Catholic authorities. I’d found my subject. I would tell the story of three men and how each of them decides to lift the burden of silence: one within the church, one through the media and one in the justice system.”
In the end – they battle faith, hope and peace to find justice!

TURTLE ODYSSEY: Bunji’s Big Adventure Swims to 4K and Bluray

Turtle Odyssey cover
Jeri Jacquin
Coming to 4K Ultra UHD, Bluray and DVD from SHOUT! Factory, directors Caspar Mazzotti and Paul Phelan is the adventure of a the sea and a TURTLE ODYSSEY: Bunji’s Big Adventure.
Narrated by Russell Crowe, this is the story of Bunji, a small sea turtle who has popped out of the Australian sand facing the race to the sea. Facing predators who want a small snack, Bunji isn’t finished facing troubles. Once away from the hazards on land, she faces the creatures from the sea!
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Learning how to survive, she gets stronger, bigger and smarter in the ways of being a sea turtle. What she has on her side is over 100 million years of DNA flowing through her as easy as she flows through water. An ancient creature, Bunji travels thousands of miles and (insert human jealousy here) sees and experiences some of the most beautiful things to be found in the sea.
When she reaches adulthood, Bunji finds a mate and the cycle that brought her into the sea begins to happen for her. Including the long journey back to the same sandy beach she popped out from. It truly is the circle of life and Bunji has let us join her through it all.
Majestic and beautiful, Bunji is truly a unique creature.
IMAX TURTLE ODYSSEY: Bunji’s Big Adventure joins Shout! Factory’s exising catalog of 4K films that includes the incredible critically acclaimed and award-winning odysseys WE, THE MARINES, JOURNEY TO SPACE, FLIGHT OF THE BUTTERFLIES, THE LAST REEF: Cities Beneath the Sea,  NATIONAL PARK ADVENTURES and so many more.
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SHOUT! Factory has grown into a tremendous multi-platform media company. Releasing new animated features such as the exquisite Long Way North, and the epic fantasy Beauty And The Beast. Also their own original horror film, Fender Bender gives fans a good scare. For more of what SHOUT Factor has to offer please visit www.shoutfactory.com.
The Special Feature of TURTLE ODYSSEY: Bunji’s Big Adventure is an Interview with Dr. Ian Bell, Senior Conversation Officer.
TURTLE ODYSSEY: Bunji’s Big Adventure is such a wonderful look at a creature that most know so little about. Bunji shares with us the history of her species from sand back to sand. We are witness to her surviving birth and trying to stay away from any other creatures dinner menu. All of this is hard enough but with the encroachment of human kind, they brings a new struggle to her survival. The interesting part of this is that with creature predators it is part of, and forgive me for using the phrase, but circle of life, but human encroachment is something we can and should do something about.
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What this film does is gives us all more of a reason to want to do everything possible to help Bunji and her species survive and, more importantly, thrive!
In the end – her epic journey becomes our very own!

MIDWAY Launches for Veterans Day

Midway cover
Jeri Jacquin
Coming to theatres from director Roland Emmerich and Lionsgate comes the story of one of the biggest battles against Japan on MIDWAY.
On December 7, 1942, Japan surprise attacked Pearl Harbor and the one person not surprised is Lt. Commander Edwin Layton (Patrick Wilson) who had been trying to tell anyone who would listen of an impending attack. Lt. Dick Best (Ed Skrein) returns home to learn of the death of his friends with wife Anne (Mandy Moore) helping him to grieve.
On ship is Vice Admiral Bull Halsey (Dennis Quaid) waiting for orders to stop the Japanese. His aviation crew include Lt. Commander Wade McClusky (Luke Evans). Put in charge of a plan along with Lt. Cmdr. Layton is Admiral Chester Nimitz (Woody Harrelson) who looks to a group of code breakers led by Commander Rochefort (Brennan Brown).
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The first strike is for Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle (Aaron Eckhart) and his men to fly to Tokyo and carpet bomb the city. The Japanese are caught by surprise not ever believing it was possible for the United States military to strike back so quickly.
Leading the Japanese fleet is Rear Admiral Tamon Yamaguchi (Tadanobu Asano), Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo (Jun Kunimura) and Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto (Etsushi Toyokawa). Pearl Harbor isn’t their only target as the plan now includes Midway. Gathering all their forces, they are confident that no one sees them coming and victory is sure.
With so much ship loss at Pearl Harbor, the ships that are left have to come together as well as planes and pilots to make the plan work. Lt. Best and Lt. Cmdr. McClusky go to their men with confidence to let them know that they must give it their all and remember their fallen friends. As the battle for Midway approaches, Nimitz and Layton trust the information given to them by the code breakers to stay ahead of the plan, Best and McClusky fly for their lives as everyone does their part.
It is the history of taking one step at a time to win.
Skrein as Best is a man who is a little dangerous in the sky but he wants to be prepared for any eventuality. With each battle, he only wants to go home to his wife and daughter. Using every bit of his flying experience and a little bit of his grit, Skrein gives his character bravery and the will to fight. Moore as wife Anne is a lady I’d call a spit-fire. She knows that what her husband does is dangerous and holds her breath with each bit of news that all the wives are allowed to know.
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Harrelson as Nimitz is brought into the fight at the time of Pearl Harbor. He has to trust those around him for the information knowing that more American soldiers will die and that’s a hard job to have. Wilson as Layton tried to warn his superiors about what Japan was capable of and they didn’t listen. When given the opportunity to show what he knows and how he knows it, Wilson gives his character strength and determination to stand by Rochefort.
Quaid as Halsey shows his character as a gritty leader who, like everyone else, wants to stop the Japanese fleet from destroying anything else or getting to the west coast of the United States. He may be gruff but he knows what is necessary to win. Evans as McClusky thinks Best is a reckless pilot but since Pearl Harbor realizes that perhaps reckless, in this case, is a brave thing that is needed in the fight.
Kunimura, Toyokawa and Asano have the difficult roles of the Admirals (Rear and Vice) who feel strong that they can win. Pearl Harbor gives these characters a feeling of invincibility and feel Midway is the next reasonable step in their plan. What they do not expect is that the United States military forces have banned together with a plan of their own and they will stop at nothing to punish the Japanese fleet.
Other cast include Alexander Ludwig as Lt. Roy Pearce, Keean Johnson as Chief Aviation Radioman James Murray, Luke Kleintank as Lt. Clarence Earle Dickinson, Brandon Sklenar as Ensign George Gay, Jake Manley as Ensign Willie West, Darren Criss as Lt. Commander Eugene Lindsey, Jake Weber as Rear Admiral Raymond Spruance, James Carpinello as Captain Brockman, Geoffrey Blake as John Ford, Greg Hovanessian as Lieutenant Arizona, David Hewlett as Admiral Kimmel, Mark Rolston as Admiral King and Nick Jonas as Aviation Machinist Mate Bruno Gaido.
MIDWAY is exactly, first of all, what you’d expect from director Roland Emmerich coming in at 127 minutes long.  A master of special effect and the big bangs, the battle scenes on the screen are epic (as I suspect they were in real life). Beginning with the Pearl Harbor attack until the final battle for Midway, the film gives the feeling of all the films Hollywood put out in the 50’s and 60’s that I watched growing up. My father was a Gunner’s Mate on many of Navy ships from aircraft carriers to destroyers like the Hornet, Boxer, Constellation and Kitty Hawk.
So I watched many, many films IN HARMS WAY (1965), THE LONGEST DAY (1962), SANDS OF IWO JIMA (1949), FROM HERE TO ETERNITY (1953), TORA! TORA! TORA! (1973) and the list is endless. I am well versed in war films so I expect a lot. Emmerich spends very little time depicting the attack on Pearl Harbor because it has been done so many times before. He gets in, makes it clear and moves on because the goal in the storytelling is what happened next and next and next.
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A few problems that I have are such things as the story about Lt. Col. Doolittle and his men. It seemed one minute they were there and the next gone. Things like this happened a few times in the film which if you are attempting to keep me in the story – then keep me there, don’t take me on little side ventures.
Here’s a touchy problem – writer Wes Tooke sort of muddled the lines between Japan and the United States. It seemed as if there was an attempt to make us feel sorry for the Admirals of the Japanese fleet and that’s a little difficult when they were the aggressors. I kept thinking, ‘pick a side and tell that story’ but then again that’s been done as well.
The actors themselves did well with what they were given. There were a few moments where I felt nostalgic with lines being delivered in such a way that I felt I was watching a 50’s/60’s war film instead of 2019. The characters were righteously angry because, let’s face it, no one who saw, was part of and survived Pearl Harbor could ever be the same again.
Skrein, Evans and the rest of the actors portraying the pilots were amazing to my way of thinking. The pilots job back then was to focus on a target and get the job done, that’s how Skrein and Evans made it look and feel which is totally successful in my eyes. Harrelson and Wilson together made a dynamic duo doing something totally different than their predecessors in the job. Harrelson gave his Nimitz portrayal an opportunity to trust when there was really nothing else left and Wilson’s portrayal of Layton jumps in as if to say ‘we can’t do it the old ways anymore’.
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Is there anything here that says epic? Not really and that’s a shame. Personally I would have loved to see this film in black and white. What the film lacks in dialogue it makes up for in Emmerich battles but just barely. I have a feeling that MIDWAY is going to have a love-hate relationship with viewers. This is a target movies for an audience that wants to see a war film but going up against an old hotel, a romantic comedy and an Irish tale, MIDWAY might not be able to hold its own.
In the end – they awoke a sleeping giant!

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