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I am a film critic and write how I feel about a film. Whether it is good, bad or indifferent, I have no problem saying so!

FANTASTIC BEASTS: The Crimes of Grindelwald

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Jeri Jacquin

First of all, is there really ANYTHING in the world I could say, good or bad, that is going to stop people from seeing this film – absolutely not but I’m going to give my review a shot here without giving away anything gooooooood!

So, from director David Yates and Warner Bros. Pictures comes the witches, wizards and creatures we have come to love from author J.K. Rowlings with FANTASTIC BEASTS: The Crimes of Grindelwald.

It seems that Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) has been kept under lock, spell and key waiting to be picked up by the Ministry of Magic. With the help of Abernathy (Kevin Guthrie) and Seraphina Picquery (Carmen Ejogo), Grindelwald gets to continue the plans he made clear before capture.

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Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) however is facing a panel at the Ministry of Magic. He wants them to lift the travel ban places on him but they will only do so if he works at the Ministry with his brother Theseus (Callum Turner). Happy for his brother’s betrothal to Leta Lestrange (Zoe Kravitz), he also learns to Grindelwald.

He meets up with Dumbledore (Jude Law) who explains that he trust no one else to handle the problem with Grindelwald. Newt makes it clear that he wants to find Tina (Katherine Waterston) and return to his creatures. Imagine his surprise when Jacob (Dan Fogler) and Queenie (Alison Sudol) arrive suddenly.

After a misunderstanding, Jacob helps Newt find Tina and discovers a circus where Nagini (Claudia Kim) and Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller) were held. He now is part of another mystery without realizing it.

Credence wants to find his mother and love Nagini wants to help. What he doesn’t know is that Gindelwald knows a few things and is willing to share, but for a price. Someone else is looking for Credence, Yusuf Kama (William Nadylam) and his search holds a purpose.

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The chases, magic, creatures, mysteries, friendships, enemies and secrets are back in the wizarding world!

Redmayne reprises his role as Newt Scamander, the awkward young man with a penchant for creatures and a stumbling heart for love. It doesn’t take long before he is pulled away once again from his friends place right in the middle of more wizarding mysteries.

Depp as Grindelwald does exactly what Depp can do – create a character and make it his own. Now that he calmly gathered an army, there is no one else who can be Grindelwald – ever. I enjoyed his performance and I can’t wait to see what he does with it next.

Law as Dumbledore absolutely surprised me because I wasn’t sure how I felt about him taking the role. I needn’t have worried at all because he slides right in like he has always been part of the story. Thrilled at his portrayal, I know as the story unfolds even more, he is going to have to make decisions that are as painful as the ones he makes when Harry comes along.

Waterston as Tina giving Newt a hard time continually but also doing her duty as an agent for the American Ministry of Magic.  Fogler as Jacob doesn’t miss a beat partnering with Newt to do whatever needs doing. It amazes me how he just goes with the magical flow and although he rolls his eyes occasionally, he’s in it all. Sudol as Queenie is cute and just wants to be able to be with Jacob without fear, she is going to have to figure that out.

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Miller as Credence Barebone is fantastic and I can see where his character will be going but there are tons of questions that I’m going to have to be patient in getting the answers for. Kim as Nagini just set my brain ablaze and I have so many thoughts about that! Nadylam as Yusuf Kama is a strong character that doesn’t realize that what he’s always believed might not be true!

Kravitz as Leta has a past that is difficult and jaw dropping and that’s all I will say about that. Turner as Theseus is a brother who wants what’s best but at the same time sees how easy it is for Newt to get himself into trouble.

Other cast include Jamie Bower as Young Grindelwald, Toby Regbo as Young Dumbledore, Victoria Yeates as Bunty, Wolf Roth as Spielman, Derek Riddell as Torquil Travers, Ingvar Sigurosson as Grimmson, Poppy Tuech as Rosier, Andrew Turner as MacDuff, Maja Bloom as Carrow, Simon Meacock as Krafft and Fiona Glascott as Minerva McGonagall.

Law says of playing Dumbledore, “I was clearly thrilled and excited because my children grew up with the books and films. I was a huge fan of the FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM film. There getting to be part of the film there was so much reference material and J.K. was so gracious with her time. David told me that we weren’t trying to recreate an older Dumbledore but instead look back at who he was and how he was sorting out his demons as a younger man. I felt free in that way and excited to be this character.”

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Redmayne says, “Working with Jude as Dumbledore, from our very first scene he manages to capture the qualities of Dumbledore, the gravitas and the playfulness was there. I thought ‘oh my gosh he’s good’. It was amazing!”

FANTASTIC BEASTS: The Crimes of Grindelwald will disappoint no one! The story if intense, complex, a little dark and full of special effects but then again what did you expect? From the moment the screen flickers and the iconic music begins it is a 134 magical thrill ride with everything that I personally want from the return to the wizarding world.

Okay, so I was giggling pretty good seeing people and places that I have missed for the last few years. I can’t even tell you how many times I held my breath looking wide eyed at the screen wanting more and more. Of course I’m a woman of a certain age and probably shouldn’t be this giddy but nothing or no one is going to stop it from happening.

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The special effects are awesome (as I expected them to be) and brings so much to this darker chapter. I can not even begin to say enough about the cast for not only the returning characters but the new as well. For me, there wasn’t one thing out of place! Trust that I will be watching it again and again because that’s what’s needed to keep up with what’s to come. There is so much I didn’t expect.

Gather up all of your houses whether they be Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff and Slytherin, get your wands at the ready and have an amazing time as FANTASTIC BEASTS: The Crimes of Grindelwald is finally here!

In the end – the fate of one will change the future for all!

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THE FAVOURITE Stars Three Dazzling Women

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Jeri Jacquin

I absolutely love period pieces so I have been anxiously waiting for director Yorgos Lanthimos and Fox Searchlight Pictures offering of THE FAVOURITE.

Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) sits on the throne in 18th Century England and Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz) is her constant companion. Their relationship is one of straight forwardness and longing. England is also at war with France and Lady Sarah is keeping an eye on it while taking care of the Queen’s frailties and occasional childlike temper tantrums.

Enter Abigail (Emma Stone) a fall aristocrat turned servant girl who isn’t well received in the kitchen of the Queen. Sarah sees how her cousin is treated and becomes a mentor to the young girl. Abigail wants nothing more than to return to the life she once knew and realizes this just might be the way for that to happen.

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During one of the Queens outbursts, Abigail takes pity on her and starts a friendship over the royals “children” (rabbits). The Queen is delighted as they spend the afternoon sharing and laughing together. Sarah catches wind of what is happening with the Queen and lets it be known in her own way that trying to weasel in to the Queen’s favor might not be such a good idea.

Now that the gauntlet is thrown down – Abigail and Sarah go toe to toe for the Queen’s attentions and who truly cares for the monarch is at stake.

I must start with Colman as Queen Anne because she is absolutely stellar, absolutely. From her tantrums to her insecurities to her loyalties, Colman portrays the woman as most would never see a monarch – vulnerable. Knowing that parliament is consistently against her, she attempts to turn to those she should be able to trust. I love Colman’s performance with ever emotion lay plainly before us, I do so hope her performance is recognized and that accolades are given. She most definitely deserves them for this role.

Weisz as Lady Sarah is the smart, politically savvy and is the no-nonsense taking companion to the Queen. She works hard at keeping the crown on her royal head and makes it her business to know what everyone is doing at all times. Weisz can pull off sassy and sarcastic in the same breath better than other actress I know. Of course she does have her hands full with Ms. Stone.

Stone as Abigail is a fallen aristocrat who doesn’t want to stay that way. Getting into the Queen’s kitchen is the first step and getting into her heart may just get Abigail off her knees and high in the rankings. Stone begins as a fawn-eyed girl who is thrilled to have Lady Sarah show an interest in her, but of course we all know that Stone can pull off fawn-eyed girl with the best of them. I loved her antics from start to finish and kept thinking about Abigail, ‘just because you can play the game doesn’t mean you should!’

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Other cast include Jennifer White as Mrs. Meg, LillyRose Stevens as Sally, James Smith as Godolphin, Mark Gatiss as Lord Marlborough, Edward Aczel as Earl of Stratford, Carolyn Saint-Pe as Madame Tournee, Joe Alwyn as Masham and Nicholas Hoult as Harley.

THE FAVOURITE is a gloriously fascinating film about three women who are filled with so much want that goes in so many different directions. That being said, Abigail and Sarah have much different relationships with Queen Anne although you’d have a tough time convincing Abigail of that.

Sarah and the Queen understand one another clearly and it is also clear that Sarah runs the part of the kingdom that the Queen is to busy being petulant to deal with. That’s the crux of their relationship – one is clearly and adult, the other is drowning from the weight of the crown. Yet in that is a relationship of hilarity and sadness mixed together.

Abigail being the new girl to all of this is a distraction for the Queen when Sarah is gone. The Queen believes she has a new and understanding friend when it is clear Abigail has decided to get what Sarah has and take a lot of short cuts to get there. She doesn’t have the understanding of the other two and that’s where she makes mistakes.

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This is a film that spans every human emotion possible in that you don’t know at times whether to laugh, cry or be outright shocked. In an era of excess and political gain, this cast revels in that history with marvelous results. The surroundings only adds to the story telling with its opulence and grandeur along with stunning clothing and jewelry.

THE FAVOURITE has already been recognized by the British Independent Film Awards, Camerimage, and Ghent International Film Festival Gotham Awards. The Hollywood Film Awards gave a win for Rachel Weisz and Costume Designer Sandy Powell. The Venice Film Festival win came for Director Yorgos Lanthimos and Best Actress for Olivia Colman (well done!).

This is one of my favorite films of the year so when deciding what regurgitation to see in theatres, chose something new and amazing with THE FAVOURITE!

In the end – some wounds do not close!

 

TIME LIFE Has Stolen My Heart Because of Robin Williams!

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Jeri Jacquin

From Time Life, the re-creator for generations who thought their favorite shows and music were gone, is the ultimate heart stealer for me with the DVD Collection ROBIN WILLIAMS: Comic Genius.

Born in Chicago (which should have early on given me some clue for my admiration – Go Cubs!), he would be transplanted in his teens to Marine County, California. Choosing acting over anything else, he received a full scholarship to Juilliard in New York City.

Williams’s career began on the West Coast. Starting in San Francisco to Los Angeles, he hit the club circuit. Taking on twists and turns, in 1977 HBO would came calling to air one of his stand-up performances.

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But, it is in 1978 that a character known as Mork would invade an episode of the Garry Marshall television hit Happy Days. From that performance, the series Mork & Mindy starring Robin Williams and Pam Dawber was born. Set in Boulder, Colorado, Mork from Ork lands on our planet in an egg and what follows is a hatching of pure genius. Williams had the chance to be what ever he wanted to be and his face graced the cover of Time Magazine followed by Rolling Stones magazine.

HBO once again came calling which led to five comedy specials starting with 1978’s Off the Wall, in 1983 An Evening with Robin Williams and finally in 1986 Robin Williams: Live at the Met, Live on Broadway in 2002 and finally Weapons of Self Destruction in 2009. All five of these specials are still played in my home because nothing changes a mood quicker than when HBO allowed Williams to just be – well – Robin Williams.

His call to the screen was the next step and in 1982 he absolutely stunned me in the film THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP but it was in 1987 when GOOD MORNING, VIETNAM hit the screen that once again Williams sky rocketed. Using his wit and ability to create the voices of memorable characters, he cemented his career as a comedian.

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But there was one character he excelled at with heart and soul and that is dramatic roles. Starting in 1997 with GOOD WILL HUNTING and 1990’s AWAKENINGS, it was the tragic and soul crushing role in the 1998 film WHAT DREAMS MAY COME that tore me apart.

Off the big screen and small, Williams teamed up with friends Whoopi Goldberg and Billy Crystal and brought Comic Relief USA to HBO raising $80 million dollars to help anyone in need. He also worked with the USO to bring laughs to over 100,000 troops and they, to this day, have not forgotten that.

Time Life is making sure that we don’t and in such a stunning and beautiful way! ROBIN WILLIAMS: Comic Genius is a 22-disc collection that brings us all through the years and reasons Williams is a beloved and iconic genius.

In the box set are all five HBO stand up specials, Never-before-seen released concert specials, including Robin’s full MGM Grand Garden stand-up from 2007 and the Montreal stop on his last tour, a conversation on stage between Williams and comedian David Steinberg, Memorable talk show and late night TV appearances on The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson, The Tonight Show starring Jay Leno, The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Graham Norton Show, Saturday Night Live and more.

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There are rare, never-before-seen clips including early stand-up, raw footage from HBO’s promo shoots, a hilarious toast to Richard Pryor by Robin as Mrs. Doubtfire, Brand new interviews with close friends and family including Billy Crystal, Steve Martin, Jay Leno, Eric Idle, David Steinberg, Lewis Black and son Zack Williams.

There are eleven hilarious episodes of Mork & Mindy including the two-part pilot, James Lipton’s Emmy Award-nominated 90-minute interview with Robin on Inside the Actors Studio including deleted scenes which are the best! A comprehensive collection of Robin’s USO shows around the world, original and newly created bonus features including a behind-the-scenes footage, local highlights from tour stops, promos and more.

Featurettes including The Early Years, San Francisco: Where It All Started, Comic Genius and TV’s Best Guest. Critically acclaimed 2018 HBO documentary Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind from Emmy-winning director Marina Zenovich and Oscar-winning producer Alex Gibney.

Finally, Robin Williams: Uncensored which is a collectible 24-page, full-color memory book featuring rare, archival photos from award-winning photographer Arthur Grace, reminiscences from friends and colleagues, Robin’s personal tour notes and so very much more.

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Time Life continues to bring never before released anywhere classic collections of television shows for fans to revisit and remember what has made television so special. Time Life has released Mama’s Family, CPO Sharkey and The Tonight Show and they now reminds of us of a time when sex and politics were up for grabs with ROWAN & MARTIN’S LAUGH-IN. For more of what Time Life has to offer fans of classic television visit www.timelife.com.

This collection brings every emotion possible and that isn’t an exaggeration. Calling this collection Comic Genius is perfection and well deserved by Robin Williams. On stage and screen he had the whole world laughing (and with Mork probably the whole universe!) His unique comedic timing was fueled by the laughter from the audience, the more outrageous the farther he would go.

Twenty-two discs and over fifty hours of Williams will light us all up once again and let us experience the laughs again and again. That is why we have home entertainment libraries, so we can, at any time, pull off the shelf a beloved comedian that continues to be a laughing light. This family happens to be a Williams fan from the very beginning and his comedy specials have never stopped bringing us laughs and even catching ourselves repeating his lines a time or two in our lives.

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That is what makes Williams iconic and beloved and those two words seem to be not enough. Passing in 2014, it did not bring his comedy to a stop but instead continues to allow us to remember who he was and all that he gave through stand-up, television, the big screen and all his personal endeavors to make the world a happier place.

Each DVD cover inside the very cool collector’s box shows us all Williams’ silly side as if to tease about what is inside and to join him in the ride. I, personally, would never turn down the request of a Comic Genius!

In the end – it’s all about the na-nu-na-nu!

THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER’S WEB: A New Dragon Tattoo Story

 

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Jeri Jacquin

In theatres from director Fede Alvarez and Columbia Pictures is a continuation story of someone who finds herself once again as THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER’S WEB.

Lisbeth Salander (Claire Foy) has once again become invisible although wanted by the police. Making it her goal to stop innocent people from being hurt, she manages to do so while faded into the background…but not for long.

She is approached by Frans Balder (Stephen Merchant) who has created a program called Firewall when he was a NSA employee. This program has nuclear codes all over the world and now believes that he created a monster that everyone else wants to control. He asks Lisbeth to retrieve it so it can be destroyed.

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She agrees and gets inside the NSA’s computer as a horrified Edwin Neeham (Lakeith Stanfield), NSA security, looks on trying to stop it. He immediately locates where the hack has come from and leaves for Europe. Neeham isn’t the only one looking for Firewall as Lisbeth is attacked. She turns to Mikael Blomkvist (Sverrir Gudnason), the Millennium journalist and even though their relationship turned rocky, she trusts him. He discovers that a group of Russian criminals are after Firewall.

Keeping track of Balder, she also worries for his young son August (Christopher Convery) as who ever else wants Firewall would have no trouble killing him. Keeping him safe becomes important to Lisbeth even if her hardened shell is still in tact.

Blomkvist turns to Gabriella Grane (Synnove Lund), Deputy Director of the Swedish Secret Service to discover who the men are with the spider tattoos. She has her own agenda keeping an eye on Neeham who she believes is also looking for Lisbeth.

With the cat and mouse happening between she, the spider tattoo goons and Neeham, there is one person she never expected to see. Someone from her past who has picked up the mantel of a father who is responsible for how Lisbeth came to be – Camilla (Sylvia Hoeks).

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Lisbeth Salander makes no exceptions for evil!

Foy as Salander gives a stoic performance in the role of a character that doesn’t show much emotion. Everything that she shares emotion wise is all in her eyes. With every plan you can see the wheels turning jumping the track whenever she needs to change gears. This is a far cry from her comfy life in highly successful series The Crown but that’s the point of growing as an actress – bowl cut your hair and don’t be afraid to jump on a motorcycle.

Merchant as Balder is a man clearly afraid that those who have Firewall are going to use it to harm more than protect. Balder’s role might not be a big one but it sets the story up for his castmate.  Convery as August is a young boy who is as smart as his father but that doesn’t mean his fate isn’t being determined but someone smart but psychotic. This character is like Lisbeth in that he keeps his emotions in check trusting that he will get home to his mother.

Stanfield as Neeham panics when he sees Firewall has been hacked and knows the only thing he can do is find out who took it and why. Neeham’s character is just as determined as Lisbeth but he has one obstacle. Lund as Grane is the SAPO and has already threatened Neeham with deportation if he tries to interfere with the investigation but trust goes only so far.

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Gudnason as Blomkvist is thrilled to hear from Lisbeth because his feelings for her haven’t changed. At the same time, the journalist in him sees the potential of cracking open the mystery of what is happening by following Lisbeth forward. Hoeks as Camilla is the sister none of us wants to deal with. The history that Camilla and Lisbeth share is of two survivors of an abusive father – one turns to trying to save others while the other turns to destruction. Hoeks is completely disturbing in her portrayal and scenes with Foy are intense.

Other cast include Carlotta von Falkenhayn as a young Camilla, Vicky Krieps as Erika Berger, Cameron Britton as Plague, Andreia Pelic as Maria, and Mikael Persbrandt as Zalachenko.

Let me first get this out of the way, the Noomi Rapace is my Lisbeth Salander and in 2008 when THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO was released I could not have been more thrilled with the film. This was followed months later with THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE and months later with THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNET’S NEST. This was the best three films I have ever seen and all released in one year proving that it is possible to make stunning films without two and three year gaps.

In 2011, the remake hit the theatres with Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig in THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO and as much as I enjoy these two actors, I wasn’t thrilled with the film. I don’t mind saying it either, there was absolutely no reason to remake it and I could not get behind the choice for Lisbeth Salander.

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The choice of Claire Foy as the new Lisbeth Salander has one thing in her favor, this isn’t a remake. Instead it’s actually more of an explanation of where this character came from and how the past is never far behind any of us. Foy captures bits of the 2009 Salander but clearly makes her own mark as well.

As for the film, I enjoyed it but also have to say that the plot was fairly straight forward and slightly predictable. I feel as if I’ve seen these plot points before in other films and wished there was more umph to it. The action is definitely something I would expect to see in the Millennium series and the film lives up to that most certainly.

Understand that with the death of the series creator Steig Larsson in 2004, the characters are picked up by David Lagercrantz. This is his first novel taking over the series and it was released in 2015. It is not an easy thing to bring in another writer to keep a series going because, and let’s be honest, they aren’t Larsson. That being said Lagercrantz manages to keep Lisbeth Salander alive by bringing her past forward for us all to understand. He also seemed to take great care in being true to the complexities created by Larsson

For those who love the Millennium series, this new story and film is interesting and full of action. Foy gives Salander new life and if they plan to continue the films, keep the stories fresh and the fan base will stay true.

In the end – the past never forgets!

BLACKkKLANSMAN Makes a Statement on Bluray

Black Klansman

Jeri Jacquin

This week on 4K Ultra HD, Bluray and DVD from director Spike Lee and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment comes the memoir to screen of BLACKkKLANSMAN.

In Colorado Springs, Colorado it is the 1970’s and Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) is about to become the first black officer in their department. Placed in the records department, he knows that the other officers are talking about him. Knowing he isn’t going to be able to take that much longer, he applies to do undercover work.

His personal life is also about to change when he meets Patrice (Laura Harrier) at a rally given by civil rights leader Kwame Ture (Corey Hawkins) at the black student union. On their way home, Patrice is pulled over by a local racist cop and Ron knows he must do something. Transferred to the intelligence division of the police department, immediately he finds his first case. Using his ‘white voice’, Ron calls Walter Breachway (Ryan Eggold) who is the leader of the Colorado Springs chapter of the KKK expressing interest in the group.

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Talking on the phone is one thing, but meeting up in person isn’t going to work out to well for Ron so he is joined by Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver) who is the white face behind the white voice. He meets Walter and listens to the rhetoric and meets more of the group members. Keeping it going, Ron takes it up a notch calling Grand Wizard David Duke (Topher Grace) and beginning regular conversations with him. But, one of the members thinks that the white Stallworth is really a Jew and they learn some of the KKK members are military.

Duke comes to Colorado Springs to be part of Stallworth’s joining of the Klan and they soon learn that someone is threatening Patrice’s life. As quickly as it all began, no one could have possibly seen the direction and lengths the Klan members are going to and Ron isn’t about to let any of it happen. There is also one more person that he isn’t about to let walk away from the things he has done.

Stallworth is going to have the last say!

Washington as Ron Stallworth is a man going through changes without even realizing he needed to see the changes. Becoming the first black officer in his department is clearly going to be emotionally strenuous but it is what happens after that appointment that truly has an impact. Meeting Patrice and taking on the KKK with the help of Zimmerman is going to be the most impactful and most dangerous thing he has ever done. Washington gives a stellar performance that doesn’t stop from the moment he is on screen to the films end.

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Driver as Zimmerman isn’t sure how to handle what Stallworth is suggesting for the investigation of the KKK. Once it begins, ever move he makes can be his last. He has to be in synch with Stallworth in order to be the face behind the voice of a supposed white man and racist. Driver continues with this film to give another memorable performance filled with the emotion of a man that can relate to the hate his partner feels.

Eggold as Breachway just scares the living dickens out of me with his performance. There is something sinister about the way he looks. Having seen his performances on the series THE BLACKLIST and his newest series NEW AMSTERDAM, this role is not only totally different from those but I can’t stop watching the depths in which he portrays this racist leader.

Grace as Duke is totally enraptured with Stallworth and their continuing conversations all the while showing that he is just another ignorant individual who hates for the pure sake of hating. That’s what Grace brings to the role, not being afraid of taking this character straight into our faces so we can join Washington in hurting our necks from shaking our heads in disbelief.

Harrier as Patrice has no idea that the man she is seeing is a police officer and that’s for her own safety. She is a strong woman who believes that everything is worth taking on and fighting for. She sees something in Stallworth and trusts that he believes in their cause of justice, even if sometimes he has to make sure she is as far away from what he does as possible.

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Other cast include Jasper Paakkonen as Felix Kendrickson, Paul Hauser as Ivanhoe, Ashlie Atkinson as Connie, Michael Buscemi as Jimmy Creek, Ken Garito as Sgt. Trapp, Damaris Lewis as Odetta, Isiah Whitlock Jr. as Mr. Turrentine, Harry Belefonte as Jerome, Robert Burke as Chief Bridges, Frederick Weller as Patrolman Landers, Nicholas Turturro as Walker and Alec Baldwin as Dr. Kennebrew Beauregard.

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

The Bonus Features of BLACKkKLANSMAN include A Spike Lee Joint – Producer Jordan Peele, cast and film subject Ron Stallworth discuss the unique experience of working with iconic director Spike Lee and  BLACKkKLANSMAN Extended Trailer Featuring Prince’s ‘Mary Don’t You Weep’.

The 4K Ultra Combo Pack includes the 4K Ultra HD Bluray, Bluray and Digital and has the same bonus features as the Bluray version all in stunning 4K resolution. Also included is Movies Anywhere which is the digital app that allows consumers to access their favorite digital movies in one place through streaming and downloading.

The script for BLACKkKLANSMAN is written by Charlie Wachtel, Kevin Willmott and David Rabinowitz along with Spike Lee. The story comes from Ron Stallworth’s book BLACK KLANSMAN that was released in 2014. Immediately it received the Grand Prix at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival.

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Spike Lee has once again brought a film that, although set in the 1970’s, resonates today with the themes of hate, anger, fear and those who will bring all of it down. They put their lives on the line to bring the dark evil out into the light and Lee is well known for it.

BLACKkKLANSMAN brings out stellar performances from a cast that clearly embraces the story Stallworth tried to tell. In the midst of what is going on in our world, it could be easy to forget that the film is set in the 1970s.

The use of humor gives a mixture of a momentary laugh followed by an uncomfortable shifting. Taking on racism full force, the film doesn’t seem to give one wit if it makes you laugh or makes you cry – just feel something, anything, as long as it resounds in the affirmative so acceptance becomes the norm and not the occasional. Fight for what is right for not just some but for all.

In the end – infiltrate hate!

It’s the Return of The Dude in THE BIG LEBOWSKI 20th Anniversary Limited Edition

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Jeri Jacquin

Coming to 4K HD and Bluray from writers/directors/producers Joel and Ethan Coen along with Universal Pictures Home Entertainment is the film that has become an iconic classic with THE BIG LEBOWSKI 20th Anniversary Limited Edition.

The Dude (Jeff Bridges) is a laid back Los Angelino who remains in a chilled state of mind, that is until one night when two thugs breaks into his home and rough him up. Looking for a Jeff Lebowski, The Dude lays out the reasoning that there is another Jeff Lebowski who happens to be very rich and obviously they have made a mistake. Realizing their mistake, the one thing the two thugs can’t take back is a pee’d on carpet.

Upset with what happened, The Dude explains to bowling buddies Walter (John Goodman) and Donny (Steve Buscemi) and how he really liked that rug. Walter has an idea, go see the rich Jeff Lebowski and get some kind of restitution! That’s exactly what he does and meets the very cranky Jeffrey Lebowski (David Huddleston) who says that it’s not his problem.

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The Dude isn’t about to walk away empty handed when he tells Lebowski’s assistant Brandt (Philip Seymour Hoffman) that he has permission to take any carpet in the house. On the way out, The Dude meets Lebowski’s wife Bunny (Tara Reid) who is responsible for the attack because she owes loan sharks. Her greeting to The Dude is nothing short of money based and a proposition for which he walks away amused.

Happy with his new carpet, The Dude is surprised a few days later to receive a telephone call from Brandt with a financial offer. Bunny has been kidnapped with a demand for a million dollars and rich Lebowski wants to use poor Lebowski to drop off the ransom and get a bit of money for his trouble. Given a case and a cell phone, he is to wait for a call telling him where to drop off the money but Walter feels the need to be with his friend when it happens.

On the drive, Walter also comes up with his own plan. He believes Bunny has concocted this whole thing for the money so why don’t they just keep the money for themselves. Throwing a case off a local bridge, the two men see the kidnappers take the ransom and run. Later talking it over at the bowling alley, they discover that The Dude’s car is gone and so are their riches.

The Dude is contacted by Lebowski’s daughter Maude (Julianne Moore) who explains that her father’s wife is a porn star and that she also thinks Bunny is faking all of it. Upset that the ransom came out of the family’s foundation, she asks The Dude to get it all back. If that isn’t wacky enough, now Lebowski is mad that The Dude screwed up the drop and men with German accents invade his bath saying they are the real kidnappers.

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The cops find The Dude’s car but the cash is gone and the pee thugs take him to see porn maker Jackie Treehorn (Ben Gazzara) who wants the money to cover money Bunny owes him! After a drugging, cops and being thrown out of a car – who should drive by in a red sports car? Bunny. So what gives? Well, that’s what you will have to discover for yourself because, truth be told, you have to see it to believe it.

Yet, The Dude will abide!

Bridges as The Dude is absolutely and without a doubt pure perfection. He is a laid back human being who just lives in the moment and doesn’t want anything that will mess with his calm. Bridges just embraces every second of this and makes it look completely easy and smooth. I suppose it doesn’t hurt that he gets to be very comfortable in every stitch of clothing and appearance which might make being The Dude more of a joy than a job. This character is completely endearing and just wants his carpet and that basically leads to the chaos that follows. The moral of the story might be that bare floors are less of a hassle.

Goodman as Walter is the complete opposite of The Dude. He isn’t about to let anyone or anything challenge his way of dealing with things yet he sees nothing wrong with his solutions. The Dude truly cares about his friend but there are moments where his calm-rage is absolutely frightening. This is such an amazing role for Goodman because he gets to be as out there as he wants to be and it fits him well. Buscemi as Donny is such a loveable character who just wants to be in on everything but doesn’t have the ability to really keep up. This is probably the most endearing role I’ve seen Buscemi perform and he just proves he has always had the wide range ability but has gotten himself stuck in toughened roles. I’d like to have seen more of this type from him.

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Moore as Maude is just as creepy as she can possibly be. She is clearly a control freak and will do anything to keep things moving the way she wants them to move. The way she handles The Dude is emotional strong arming to my way of thinking and her seduction manner leaves allot to be desired – but hilarious. Huddleston as the elder and richer Lebowski believes he is better than his poorer counterpart and believes he is justified in using the loser. He has The Dude jumping through hoops and doesn’t exactly count on him to figure anything.

Hoffman as Brandt is, what I called, the Lebowski-bitch in that he is perfectly happy serving his boss and putting The Dude in one hell of a mess. Hoffman has always managed to stun me with every role he does and it is fantastic to revisit a film that gave us all a glimpse into what he became capable of on screen. Reid as Bunny plays the role of a trophy wife who wants more and more of the almighty dollar and doesn’t seem ashamed to make that known to, well, anyone.

Other cast include David Thewlis as Know Harrington, John Turturro as Jesus Quintana, Jon Polito as Da Fino, Peter Stormare as Uli, Torsten Voges as Franz and Flea as Kieffer, Jimmie Gilmore as Smokey, Jack Kehler as Marty and Sam Elliott as The Stranger.

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.

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The Ultra HD Combo Pack of THE BIG LEBOWSKI 20th Anniversary Limited Edition includes The Dude’s Life – , The Dude Abides: The Big Lebowski Ten Years Later, Making of THE BIG LEBOWSKI, The Lebowski Fest: An Achiever’s Story, Flying Carpets and Bowling Pin Dreams: The Dream Sequences of The Dude, Interactive Map, Jeff Bridges Photo Book, Photo Gallery and so much more!

On 4K Ultra HD included in the combo pack of Bluray, Digital and Movies Anywhere brings a sharper pictures delivering a multi dimensional experience, Bluray that has exclusive extras and theatre quality surround sound, Digital allowing viewing just about anywhere and Movies Anywhere with the app that keeps your films stored for viewing anytime!

THE BIG LEBOWSKI has become such an iconic film that has brought some of the coolest lines to ever be uttered. Of course The Dude also has made its way into costumes for parties and Halloween with a simple robe and slippers being totally recognizable.

The film is hilarious, crafty, absurd, twisted, rich vs. poor, dysfunctional family and unusual friendships all rolled into a story that is so far fetched it might even be believable.

Now, THE BIG LEBOWSKI is back to entertain us once again but this time in our own homes. The most amazing thing about this film is that it is just as hilarious today as it was 20 years ago and open to a new generation that can appreciate its comedy, originality and fantastic ensemble cast.

In the end – he’d rather be bowling!

 

 

HBO Tells the Story of STOLEN DAUGHTERS: Kidnapped by Boko Haram

 

stolen daughters

Jeri Jacquin

 

Currently on HBO is the stark and, at times, difficult story about the story that made world wide headlines with director Gemma Atwal’s STOLEN DAUGHTERS: Kidnapped by Boko Haram.

In 2014, in the small village of Chibok in Northern Nigeria, there was a school attended by young girls seeking an education. One night, they will be awoken to the sounds of gun fire as men claiming to be soldiers tell the girls to get up and go outside. Believing they were soldiers sent to protect them, it quickly becomes all to clear that these are not in fact soldiers, nor are they going to protect the girls.

Instead, it turns out they are Boko Haram, an Islamic terrorist group that has been waging war in Nigeria for several years. There plans are to take the girls and through a series of videos, the families are told they will be sold. A scattered few of the girls manage to escape but the rest are taken deep in the Sambisa Forest where Boko Haram has a camp.

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It would take world wide attention to the plight of the girls before people became involved. The Nigeria government was not swift in helping and it would be three years before an agreement is reached with Boko Haram and less than 150 girls are returned to their families. Now called the Chibok Girls, they are under the protection of the Nigerian government. Aisha Al-Hassan is the Nigerian Minister of Women’s Affairs who visits the girls at the safe house and introduce the filmmakers to their living situation.

Hannutu is now 21 and she speaks about her anxiety and that staying at the safe house makes her feel better and keeps the thoughts of the Boko Haram away. Surrounded by the familiar, Al-Hasan explains that when the girls first came they were afraid of everything. The same government that is protecting them is the same government that controls the narrative about what the girls went through. Also explains to the girls that the documentary about their experience is being made yet they are not to answer questions about being in the Sambisa Forest because if they do, the girls that are still missing could be in jeopardy. Yet, a few of the girls manage to slip the documentary filmmakers their diaries of the time in captivity.

The Northeast Nigerian city of Maiduguri is considered the place where Boko Haram began. Although the Nigerian military are in place, Boko Haram is also in place and not about to give up the city. The young girls from Chibok aren’t the only girls being taken by the Boko Haram. Those that manage to get away from the Sambisa Forest run to Maidurguri and are called ‘Forgotten Girls’ like 18 year old Zahra.

Hasatu Allamim of the city’s Women’s Rights Activist believe there are as many as 2,000 women and girls that have been taken by Boko Haram. Unlike the Chibok girls, Zahra does not have the same fear talking about her experience explaining what was expected of her and other girls. She tells of her own participation in the abduction of other girls as a way of staying alive herself. Even so, she is haunted by one particular young girl.

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In the capital city of Abuja at the government safe house, the girls wait for visits from their families. All of these girls have worries about what they have experienced, their emotional injuries and there obvious outward physical scars. Bringing in counselors, their goal is to help the girls with their transitions and finding that spot inside where they can become more than victims of Chibok.

Parents and family make the long trek to be reunited with their girls. The kidnapping of the Chibok girls has also affected family members because life went on while they were gone and some of it tragic. Yet, when they see the girls, there are smiles and love open for them. For some of them that is.

The Boko Haram have also taken over northern Nigeria and driven so many people out of their villages due to famine. That has brought them to the city of Maiduguri where the Boko Haram have infiltrated into neighborhoods were no one dare speak of them. That doesn’t mean the questions aren’t being asked about the other girls and their fate. The government insists that negotiations are still in play for the release of more girls.

What these girls have experiences is nothing short of miraculous in that they are discovering life again and making choices so that they can move forward. The next generation of children are caught up in the madness created by the Boko Haram as it is not just the girls they take. Young boys are trained to be soldiers and taken from their mother’s and families as well.

For the Chibok girls, the world is opening up for them as they are receiving help and an introduction back into the world. Education also awaits the girls back at a dormitory at AUN that now includes security. But the camps of fleeing villages form the Boko Haram are growing larger and counselors are trying to reach out for them as well listening to their stories of murder, missing family members and fear.

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HBO has brought a riveting, informative and heart breaking documentary to us all. Of course many have heard the story in bits and pieces about what has been happening with the people of Nigeria and, for a brief time, about the girls of Chibok. As with most news cycles, it all eventually fades and we never truly know the story or the outcome.

Director Atwal pieces together the stories that these now young women tell, as much as they can or will tell, about their experiences. It is incredible that in their fear, they openly talk (as much as they can) about the day they were abducted and trying to find their way back into the world.

I am personally in awe of these young women as there is no way to ever put ourselves in their shoes. Their lives are forever changed, their families can only be relieved at the young women’s homecoming and the effects of the Boko Haram are far reaching and continues to be a destructive force in Nigeria.

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This documentary is worthy of being watched by everyone for its grace in the beautiful eyes of those who haven’t given up on the world when it would have been so easy to do but instead want to help others. These young women now see futures that, yes is quite different than they had ever imagined, but they see a future and that’s everything.

Where are the others and when will they be safely returned – or can they ever be?

Where are the others and when will they be safely returned – or can they ever be?

BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY Brings Freddie Mercury Back to Us – If Only For A Moment

Bohemian cover

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres this Friday from director Brian Singer and 20th Century Fox comes the story of a legend that lives on today through a BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY.

Farrokh Bulsara (Rami Malek) isn’t about to conform to his parents expectations and when he has the opportunity to change his path it is because he meets Brian May (Gwilym Lee) and Roger Taylor (Ben Hardy) who have a band and just lost their front man. At first the two men think Freddie is joking about what he has to offer – but proven surprised as Queen is born.

Now Freddie Mercury openly, he meets Mary Austin (Lucy Boynton) and is madly in love. She supports his musical dream and is always there to help him through anything life throws at him. The band plays a few gigs adding John Deacon (Joseph Mazzello)  to the group when John Reid (Aidan Gillen) notices them bringing in attorney Jim Beach (Tom Hollander) to protect the gang.

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Freddie and the band decide they don’t want to be just like every other music group but instead be daring and bold. This doesn’t go over well with record executive Ray Foster (Mike Meyers) not believing people want to hear six minute songs. Of course Freddie is out to prove him wrong and Bohemian Rhapsody makes its way onto airwaves.

As with all bands, the tension, touring and egos are starting to get in the way of the music. It doesn’t help that Freddie has started a relationship with Paul (Allen Leech) with Brian and John none to pleased, not to mention Mary. The blow up blows Queen apart and they all go their own way.

Freddie meets Jim Hutton (Aaron McCusker) who makes it very clear that he is not the type that will be taken lightly, especially since others are running the singers life. Then, there is the illness he never saw coming and once he did, turns to the people in his life that will always love him – family, friends and fans!

Because Queen is all about rocking us!

Malek as Freddie Mercury does the job that needs doing. Do I think he made me forget he is Malek? Nope. But the film carries enough weight behind it with the cast and music that I mentally put it aside. It is obvious that he put all into portraying a man who was larger than life so keeping that in mind I willingly went into suspension of disbelief. The performance scenes are so much fun because the music is stellar and engrained into many of our lives.

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Lee as May believes in what Queen is doing and totally understands Freddie’s idiosyncrasies. Writing and putting it all together in the studio is what makes the group the happiest but there are moments that twinge in the ego about who is running the band. Rogers as Taylor wants more of a say in what the group puts out but would rather not butt heads with Freddie on it. It doesn’t mean there isn’t resentment simmering just below the surface. I enjoyed Taylor’s performance, especially doing his high pitch part in the song Bohemian Rhapsody. Mazello as Deacon lets the status quo rule even though he doesn’t always agree with Freddie.

Boynton as Mary is a woman who has a bigger heart than mine that’s for sure. She loves Freddie and consistently looks past what is right in front of her. Calling her his ‘soul mate’ means she can’t walk away not matter how hard she tries. There comes a point when thinking about yourself is not only right, it is necessary for happiness. Boynton gives an amazing performance that I won’t soon forget.

Gillen as Reid definitely wants to see what the band is capable of and more times than not he lets it all flow as it will – even when it comes to Freddie. I love seeing Gillen on screen outside of the Seven Kingdoms so well done sir! Hollander as Jim, aka Miami, is one of the most laid back lawyers I think I’ve ever seen. He has moments of important input but the rest of the time, he nods and goes along to get along. I love Hollander in everything he has done so you’ll never hear a complaint from me.

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Meyers as Foster has no idea what he’s getting into and even more clueless that Freddie is a strong personality and loves to prove the world wrong. Meyers cracked me up to the very end. Leech as Paul totally had me seeing a blood-sucking-groupie in his character and wanted to jump through the screen and wring his little neck myself. Good thing I refrained but just goes to show how powerful his performance is.

McCusker as Jim is probably the only sane one of this bunch! Knowing that Freddie is his own worst enemy but also realizing that people abuse him, he is still not going to fall into it all. It was good to see someone throw life-coffee into Freddie’s place and humbling for him at the same time.

Other cast include Meneka Das as Jer Bulsara, Ace Bhatti as Bomi Bulsara, Priya Blackburn as Kashmira Bulsara, Max Bennett as David, Dermon Murphy as Bob Geldof and Dickie Beau as Kenny Everett.

BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY tells the story of a young man born Farrokh Bulsara and reborn into Freddie Mercury. From a baggage handler at Heathrow to meeting May and Taylor, life had bigger plans for them all – especially Freddie.  When the band goes through harrowing times, sleazy Paul managed to work on Freddie’s insecurities leading to firings and a blow out.

It is once again Mary who sets him straight about remembering who he is and how he got there and, more importantly, who was their with him every step of the way! Learning that Bob Geldof had a concert called Live Aid at Wembley, Freddie knows it is the way back to what made Queen stellar.

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But that’s only part of it; Freddie’s parents go through pains with their son even if his siblings are supportive. It is the Zoroastrian belief of ‘good thoughts, good words, and good deeds’ that truly begin to come to light.

The soundtrack is amazing! If you are a Queen fan then this film will rock you, if you think you are a Queen fan this film will rock you, and if you want to be a Queen fan then go get rocked as BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY comes to theatres.

In the end – fearless lives forever!

THE BEST OF THE THREE STOOGES

three

Jeri Jacquin

From the vaults of Time Life comes one of the most amazing collections of comedy I will ever have the joy of watching again and again with THE BEST OF THE THREE STOOGES.

Let me first start off by saying that as a kid, the Three Stooges were one of my most important introductions to comedy. Better than any Saturday morning cartoon, Moe, Curly and Larry could have tears running down my face within a few short minutes.

How did they begin? In the 1920’s vaudeville was huge and a source of amazing entertainment as Ted Healy and Moe Howard hit the stage. Shemp Howard, Curly Howard and Larry Fine would later become part of the group as well in their own time.

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Within a few short years, The Three Stooges would begin making short comedies and between 1934 and 1946, Columbia Pictures would let the comedy trio do over 90 short films. That is insanely incredible to make that many pieces in what I consider a short period of time.

There were many shifts in the group with illnesses and deaths, but that didn’t stop The Three Stooges from continuing well into the 1970’s. In all that time, fans did not stop wanting to experience the fantastic comedy timing that The Three Stooges had to offer.

No one seemed to mind the changes in the line up as long as the line up was funny and entertaining. It seems audiences were more forgiving during that time than they are today.

What Time Life has managed to do, and I’m so thrilled they did it, was bring 13 discs which equals 45 hours of feature films, vintage animated cartoons and a nine part documentary series that had me completely riveted. I love knowing how my favorite actors, actresses and comediennes began, and it is all here.

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With iconic lines such as “well I outta…..”, “oh wise guy eh?” and “Nyuk! Nyuk!” which are still used today (and probably not known why by those young folk who use it), it is a staple in my family. The Three Stooges brought slap to slap stick with eye pokes, rotating shoulders, nose grabs, and bonks on the head and yes, they are still used today by us all.

The first disc includes the feature film The Three Stooges, The Three Stooges Cartoons Bon Bon Parade (1935), Merry Mutineers (1936) A Hollywood Detour (1942), Disc 2 contains Shemp Howard Comedy Shorts with 14 Classics from the ‘30s and ‘40s, Joe Besser Comedy Shorts with 10 Side Splitters From the ‘40s and 50s, Joe DeRita Comedy Shorts with 4 Smackers from the ‘40s. Disc 3 has Have Rocket Will Travel, The Outlaws is Coming and Rockin’ in the Rockies.

 That isn’t all! Disc 4 contains Documentary: Hey Moe! Hey Dad! and 4 Episodes of A Trio Grows in Brooklyn, A Stooge is Born, Slap Happy and Eureka. Finally, Disc 5 finished up with Documentary: Hey Moe! Hey Dad! and Good Night & Good Nyuk!, Déjà vu All Over Again, Bum’s Rush, Curtain Call and A Son Also Rises.

Time Life continues to bring never before released anywhere classic collections of television shows for fans to revisit and remember what has made television so special. Time Life has released Mama’s Family, CPO Sharkey and The Tonight Show and they now reminds of us of a time when sex and politics were up for grabs with ROWAN & MARTIN’S LAUGH-IN. For more of what Time Life has to offer fans of classic television visit www.timelife.com.

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Here’s more amazing news – this is only Volume One of THE BEST OF THE THREE STOOGES and it would have to be. This group of whacky and talented men lives a comedic life that was both hilarious and tragic at the same time.

Have Rocket, Will Travel has the group blasting off to Venus for a ride into the world of talking unicorns, aliens and giant tarantula’s and yes, those things are made for the boys to make fun of. Rockin’ in the Rockies has The Three Stooges prospecting in Nevada. Of course that couldn’t possibly be all especially with the era full of cattle rustlers and roulette wheels at the local casino saloon.

There are so many amazing reasons to have The Three Stooges as part of your home entertainment library and these two examples of laughs are only one reason. The comedy trio (even through the changes) are iconic in the world and are still copied today in many ways.

This past Halloween alone I saw people dressed up as Moe, Curly and Larry and I couldn’t be happier about it. There is something sweet and nostalgic about a part of my childhood showing up from time to time to remind me of where my sense of humor came from.

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Now, I have the opportunity to share with my family the hilarity and it is my three-year-old granddaughter who follows in my footsteps in a fantastic way. She can’t stop herself from laughing hysterically at the antics of The Three Stooges. Time Life has gone in-depth gathering the films, documentaries and animated cartoons for what will be known now as fans of all ages.

In the end – they are The Three Stooges of mayhem and fun!

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