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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!

DOCTOR SLEEP Will Allow you Anything but Sleep!

doctor sleep cover

Jeri Jacquin

 

Coming to theatres this week from director Mike Flanagan and Warner Bros. Pictures based on the novel by Stephen King is DOCTOR SLEEP.

 

Danny Torrance and mother Wendy escaped the nightmare in 1980 to living in Florida. He has managed to learn from Dick Hallorann (Carl Lumbly) how to lock up the horror of the Overlook Hotel. Now in 2011, Dan (Ewan McGregor) deals with past trauma by bathing in any bottle of alcohol he can get his hands on. After an incident with a one night stand, Dan hops a bus landing in a small town greeted by Billy Freeman (Cliff Curtis).

 

Not only does Billy help get Dan settled but helps find him a job at a hospice. Not expecting to stay long he finds that after sobriety and a feeling of peace, he can stay a while. He also earns the name Doctor Sleep for the ability to comfort patients into their time to pass. In his room on the wall he starts receiving friendly message of greetings from young Abra (Kyliegh Curran)who also has The Shining.

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A group called True Knot is led by Rosie the Hat (Rebecca Ferguson) but they are not friendly. What they are is a group of feeders who take those who shine and steal the steam they produce in their dying moments of fear. Finding it harder and harder to get kids that produce the steam they need to stay ageless, their supply grows slim. When the group led by lover Crow Daddy (Zahn McClarnon) kidnaps a young boy, Abra connects to him and sees everything as it happens.

 

Reaching out to Dan, he tells her to stay away from the group and close herself off to them. But Abra isn’t about to let Rosie get away with it. Connecting in a way she never has, Rosie realizes that this young girl produces an unprecedented amount of steam. In a second attempt to connect, Abra gives Rosie something to remember but sets off an anger that will not be tamed.

 

Now Danny knows he has to help Abra to stay alive at all costs. He knows there is one place that Rosie won’t see coming. He has to take the young Abra as well so that they can work together to stop what Rosie has planned for them both. Of course it also means that Dan must come face to face with the very ghosts who took his father and tried to end his life.

 

The Overlook isn’t finished quite yet!

 

McGregor as the older Danny Torrance does an excellent job of showing the trauma caused by what happened at the now defunct and dilapidated hotel. Drinking and engaging in behaviors that could kill him just as easily as the woman in the bathtub, he manages to dry out and find another way to deal with his past. Being a comfort to those in the last stages of life give him a place in the world. Even his chalkboard friendship with Agra gives him a smile or two every day. When everything starts to take an insane turn that he clearly recognizes, he could easily walk away but there is something inside him that now refuses to let any creature win. I appreciated his performance.

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Curran as Abra is such an amazing young lady. Her first experience with True Knot is traumatic and beyond belief to see on the screen (yes, that’s my warning), but while trying to track down the group she discovers powers she never knew she had. I love the scenes where she gets in the face of those trying to do her harm and stands up for herself several times. The scenes between Curran and McGregor are also intense and endearing at the same time.

 

Ferguson as Rosie the Hat is completely and utterly terrifying. It is not just in what she is capable of doing but the sly smile why she says and does things. Personally I was captivated by her performance and can honestly say that how her character ends up is equally as utterly terrifying. It is an ingenious performance and I can honestly say that maybe King should consider writing a story just based on Rosie because she talks about living through the ages (very vampirish) and what has been seen. That could make for another frightful tale!

 

Lumbly as Hallorann is a face that brings comfort in the mix of all the terror. He knows how to help Danny and you can feel the connection between the characters even in adulthood. Curtis as Billy is a man who sees something in Dan that says ‘help me’ and doesn’t hesitate to do just that. Even when Dan comes to him with a story that most would consider insane, he is by Dan’s side.

 

McClarnon as Crow Daddy believes in everything Rosie does and usually does not question her. But when the problem of having steam arises, he lets her know that the group is suffering. He will do whatever she asks but best be sure he has just as much of an evil side as Rosie does.

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Couple of shout outs – Jacob Tremblay as Bradley Trevor is a young actor who does a scene that will stay in my head for longer than I’d ever like it to. Also Danny Lloyd as a spectator at the ball game, just study that face and see if you recognize who he is.

 

Other cast include Emily Alyn Lind as Snakebite Andi, Carel Struycken as Grandpa Flick, Robert Longstreet as Barry the Chunk, Catherine Parker as Silent Sarey, Met Clark as Short Eddie, Selena Anduze as Apron Annie, Jocelin Donahue as Lucy Stone, Alex Essoe as Wendy, Zackary Momoh as Dave Stone, Henry Thomas as Lloyd the Bartender, Bruce Greenwood as Dr. John Dalton.

 

DOCTOR SLEEP is going to be a complicated review because there is so much I liked and a few things that disappointed me and I’ll do my best to make sure I don’t give anything away. I like the storyline about where Dan is now in his life because most of us would have thought that what happened at the Overlook Hotel would screw up anyone’s head. The torture of what he can’t get away from is clear and when he discovers a way to deal with it, it’s like a wave of hope washes over McGregor’s portrayal of him, at least for a while.

 

There is so much darkness in the film coming from the True Knot but it leads Dan and Abra to working together and that’s something the young Danny didn’t have. Abra is so powerful but she doesn’t hide from it as Danny did by using Tony. The young girl jumps in and makes her presence known and although it puts her life in danger, she walk away.

 

Once in the Overlook I felt like I was ‘home’ if you know what I mean. The layout is insanely (wow, that’s a word to describe it right?) memorable down to the 60s patterned orange carpet. The bathtub room, the bar, the room where Jack Torrance typed ‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’, the elevators – it’s all there and tattered. That’s when I immersed myself in the story because I wanted one – thing – to – happen. It sort of did. Now, if I may, there is a scene between Ewan McGregor and Bruce Greenwood, look for it and jaw drop!

 

Now, for a few questions I have, with all of the technology and all of the CGI available, why wasn’t it used? It isn’t as if the director needed to recreate the wheel, just upgrade the wheels that are already there! I know, I know I’m being so vague but trust me when I say you’ll ask yourself the same questions within the first five minutes. I wanted a bit of the original.

 

All of that vaguely being said I don’t think THE SHINING fans will be hugely disappointed, in fact it don’t think it will take long before Dan and Abra are embraced as much as Danny and Wendy once were. The terror these two characters must endure had to eventually happen because even Dan and Abra know that they can’t live their lives hiding from ever supernatural entity that wants them for their gifts and it’s time to fight back.

 

In the end – the world will shine again!

Put on your Running Shoes for BRITTANY RUNS A MARATHON

brittany cover
Jeri Jacquin
Coming to Amazon Prime from writer/director Paul Downs Colaizzo is the story we listen to and the one we create for ourselves with BRITTANY RUNS A MARATHON.
Brittany (Jillian Bell) is a 20-something New Yorker who is a greeter at a way-off Broadway theatre. Living with social media grabber Gretchen (Alice Lee), the two party till the break of dawn with drinking and a few other substances. When the supply runs low, Brittany heads to the nearest doctor but instead the only prescription she gets is to lose weight and get healthy.
Thinking maybe it’s time and realizing paying for a gym is to hysterical to contemplate, she decides to be her own gym. Stepping out for her first run she sees Catherine (Michaela Watkins), a neighbor Brittany believes lives the perfect live which is annoying. Instead, Catherine invites her to join a running group meeting another new friend Seth (Micah Stock).
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Seeing that Gretchen is just not going to support anything other than Brittany being the overweight, third wheel, partying friend, she looks for work that will get her away. Becoming a house and pet sitter she meets Jern (Utkarsh Ambudkar), who has found a way to work the system which annoys Brittany as well.
But the running starts to show results and Brittany can’t believe it, pound after pound she begins to find a little bit of self-respect and decides to run a marathon. Catherine and Seth are so excited that the three of them are going accomplish it together! That is until Brittany hurts her ankles and is forced to put her dream on hold.
Hurt by it all she returns to some of her old habits such as eating and being a little more than nasty to anyone around her. Ignoring Catherine and Seth the downward spiral continues until brother-in-law Demetrius (Lil Rel Howery) who has always been there for her sets Brittany sternly straight.
Brittany has her own personal epiphany about her friendships, what she wants for her life and who is important but does she have the nerve to change everything?
Bell as Brittany reminds me of someone, oh yes, me (the funny part that is)! She is sharp, funny, and self-deprecating  and not quite sure how she fits in the world. Barely squeaking by has worked for her through the years but at 28-years-old, squeaking by is no longer working. That’s what makes this character so engaging, most of us have been through those emotions or actions sometime in our lives. Bell gives us all the excuses and all the attitude and I feel hook, like and sneaker!
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Watkins as Catherine is a woman who clearly has been misunderstood by every person she has come into contact with. A private person who is dealing with her own issues, that becomes clear to Brittany who has to adjust her long time bogus thinking about people in general. Lee as Gretchen is another person who is on the opposite end of Catherine as she is out there putting her business in the street. As with most social media addicts it’s all about her world and everyone else is just living in it. Stock as Seth is such a heartwarming friend who sticks with Brittany when most would turn tail and run!
Ambudkar as Jern is funny, irreverent and is the opposite of Brittany in the sense that she takes everything like a direct hit to the heart and Jern is more the slow-down-and-smoke-a-bowl type. It doesn’t mean he doesn’t care, he just cares differently than Brittany which she can’t grasp. Howrey as Demetrius is the guy we all wish we had in our lives in that he has been there through everything and still sees the best but don’t think he won’t check a body if they are being just plain wrong.
Other cast include Patch Darragh as Doctor Falloway, Erica Hernandez as Molly, Dan Bittner as Terrence, Mikey Day as Dev, Kate Arrington as Cici, Beth Malone as Tesla, and Esteban Benito as Peter
Amazon Prime Video is a Video on Demand service that is developed, owned and operated by Amazon. They provide such shows such as JACK RYAN, THE BOYS, BOSCH and THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL. To find out more of what they have to offer please visit www.amazon.com.
BRITTANY RUNS A MARATHON is a film that on the surface is witty, funny, sarcastic and a bit shallow. That’s how it starts but as the film gets deeper it is still witty, funny and throws of sarcasms but the “bit shallow” part starts to melt away slowly. Instead of a woman who seems to be just Adderall-floating by in life, a person who has come to believe everything she’s ever been told about herself emerges.
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Having never really made the important choices, her bell has been rung and it’s time to come out fighting. That doesn’t mean there aren’t set back and life disappointments (welcome to adulthood Brittany!), but it is in how she handles those same setbacks that are what show her growth from the beginning of the film to the end.
Oh I realize we’ve all done this in one form or another but seeing it all in one film certainly brings any unanswered life questions right to the face. It’s nice when a movie can make one laugh at it all but still walk away thinking ‘am I doing all I want to do?’.
In the end – you can’t rush progress!

SAVING LENINGRAD

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Jeri Jacquin
Coming to theatres from writer/director Aleksey Kozlov and Universal Pictures International is the story of hope and survival when SAVING LENINGRAD.
It is war between the Russian people and German soldiers in the Soviet Union in 1941 and the people of Leningrad are being evacuated. On Lake Lodoga is an old barge, number 752, that is being loaded with soldiers and civilians. Trying to get on board is cadet Kostya Gorelov (Andrey Mironov-Udalov) and his girlfriend Nastya Tkachoyva (Maria Melniova). Also getting on board is Vadim Petruchik (Gela Meskhi), a NKVD investigator who has papers that he deems important to the war.
When Gorelov’s group is taken off the boat to head to the front, his father Col. Nikolai Gorelov (Vitaliy Kishchenko) makes a last minute decision. What Nastya doesn’t know is that after leaving her mother Nariya (Anastasiya Melnikova) behind, that her father Alexandr (Valeriy Degtyar) has been released from prison and sent to that very front.
Petruchik recognizes Nastya and can’t stop himself from bringing up her father’s past or putting thoughts in her head about Kostya. He also realizes who Kostya’s father is but has no problem threatening him as well. Trying to make the best of the frightening situation isn’t helping the couple deal with their own issues.
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On land the fighting increases as the soldiers march toward the battle. In front of them is a hill that is wiping out soldier after soldier. That doesn’t stop the men from doing what they must to hold the enemy back. When leaders of the platoons fall, new leaders emerge with a call to arms that the Germans couldn’t even imagine coming.
Believing the barge is the only chance for evacuation, it is sent out onto the lake for the crossing. What they didn’t expect was a storm that ravages the ship to the point of bring on water and have to start dumping everything on the deck. Nastya sees that Kostya is doing his part as more and more being to try and save the ship.
Thinking they might still have a chance, from the air comes more terror as the scattering begins. Those on board don’t have much to fight with and try to fight back with all they have but it might not be enough to save the barge or the people below in the holds.
This is a story of survival.
Mironov-Udalov as Kostya is clearly a young man in love but he is also a soldier. Sort of a considered a lady’s man, no one is really sure if the new girl is serious or he’s just trying to impress her. That perception changes quickly when he makes sure she is safely aboard the barge. It is his own father that makes arrangements for Kostya and it is something that troubles him not wanting problems for his father. With the decision made, Kostya doesn’t hesitate to do whatever is necessary to save the people on board.
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Melniova as Nastya is a young woman in love who will follow her man to start a new life. The problem is the old one isn’t quite finished with either of them yet. Trying to be supportive, she does manage to let Petruchik get into her head questioning Kostya’s motives. Eventually she sees what her man is made of! Melnikova as mother Nariya has tried to live her life raising daughter Nastya alone while her husband is in prison. Trying to stay clear of losing her job with the government (not a good idea to anger them), she knows her daughter is on the barge and husband is being sent to war.
Meskhi as Petruchik is a power hungry narcissist who has a penchant for striking fear into people. He causes trouble between Kostya and Nastya in different ways. Petruckik makes it perfectly clear that all he has to do is snap his fingers and life will be difficult for them both, the thing is they have more serious problems waiting for them than his snappy fingers. Absolute power corrupts absolutely and the character of Petruckik could be their poster child!
Degtyar as Nastya’s father Alexandr is finally released from prison but doesn’t escape his fate. Being sent to fight the war may seem crazy considering his age but he accepts it and is stronger than most of the soldiers. Kishchenko as Col. Nikolai Gorelov is definetly a military man who is facing some hard and painful decisions. He may be a soldier but he’s also Kostya’s father and when those two parts of him collide, one side wins out.
Other cast include: Aleksey Shevchenkov as Erofeev, Elena Zimina as Zoya, Sergey Zharkov as Gena Bukin, Ivan Lyrchikov as Andrey Babintsev, Maria Kepustinskaya as Sveta,Yesenia Raevskaya as Pomerantseva, Vadim Andreyev as Skyortsov, Inga Strelkova-Oboldina as Galochka, Vladimir Petrov as Sasha, Stepan Yakovlev as Seryozha, Vladimir Seleznev as Yarygin, Mikhail Morozov as Vitya, Evgenia Lyubimova as Lyusya, Pavel Grigoriev as Mikhail and Natalya Tkachenko as Liza.
SAVING LENINGRAD is a story of a young couple in love, parents and their children, soldiers, enemies and war. It is also about decisions made because of connections people have with one another. There are good guys and there are bad guys and the problem can often be that both of those are on the same side.
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I am a serious lover of period pieces and this film falls nicely into that category. The costuming and sets all take the viewer into that time period. It is in the costuming and sets that we as the viewer either go for the ride the story is telling or fall behind. I went completely for the ride. Having never heard this story I was interested in every aspect of what was happening and shared in the characters ultimate acceptance of how it all turns out.
They story is based on the actual events of barge number 752. Initially, the barge was used to transport supplies to Leningrad for the survival of the people. Their food transport had to be used for people because an evacuation was deemed an emergency and 1,000 people were loaded on. On September 17, 1941, 460 people would lose their lives on barge 752 and the tow boat Selemzha.
Although SAVING LENINGRAD is a film about the war between Germany and Russia, once the boat sails it becomes about the barge 752 and those aboard. Already considered a dangerous proposition, the fight for survival began the moment it left the dock – little did they know that survival was about to be taken to a higher level.
In the end – the fight has just begun!

It is the Holidays with FEAST OF THE SEVEN FISHES

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Jeri Jacquin
Coming to theatres and on VOD and Digital in November from writer/director Robert Tinnell, Allegheny Image Factory, Witty Michaels Entertainment and Shout! Studios is a family you might recognize during the holidays who creates the FEAST OF THE SEVEN FISHES.
It is 1983 and the Oliverio family is preparing to celebrate Christmas their way. Tony (Skyler Gisondo) is an artist who works in his father’s grocery store and has been accepted into art school. He doesn’t want to share the news because he feels his very opinionated Italian family isn’t going to go for it. Cousin Angelo (Andrew Schulz) to the rescue talking him into a night out with him, girlfriend Sarah (Jessica Darrow) and her friend Beth (Madison Iseman).
Slick talking Angelo works his magic and Tony begrudgingly agrees. What is happening at home is Uncle Frankie (Joe Pantoliano), Uncle Carmine (Ray Abruzzo), and Johnny (Paul Ben-Victor) are preparing to make the holiday dinner. Of course all of this is happening under the watchful eye of Tony’s Nonnie (Lynn Cohen), Mom (Nancy Telzerow), and Marian (Jean Zarzour).
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As the uncles argue about salting with fish, Tony takes off with Angelo and Sarah to pick up Beth. Almost immediately they hit it off with a few beers and he explains about the Feast of the Seven Fishes to Beth who is intrigued. Just as the conversation gets interesting, he hears that ex-girlfriend Katie (Addison Timlin) might be in trouble. All four jump in the car, rescue the damsel but not before Tony get a knuckle sandwich for his trouble.
Katie tries to make a move but Tony makes it clear that he’s moved on from their relationship and she isn’t at all happy about it. Getting a lecture from his friends, it is Beth who convinces him to stay out and have a good time. In the meantime, Katie decides to hang out with Vince and that doesn’t go well either. It is Juke (Josh Helman) who takes the time to really talk to her finding out that Katie just misses Tony’s family and the holiday coming up.
After the nights events, Tony and Beth share some time in his artists shed in the back of his house. Beth is taken with his work and loves what he has done. He shares a little about his dream and she thinks whatever he dreams he would do! Falling asleep overnight, they are discovered by Noonie who can’t unsee what she sees and goes on a little bit of a verbal rant. Back in the house, everyone starts arriving and Beth is about to meet the craziness of the Oliverio family.
Uncle Frank tells Tony to invite her to dinner to celebrate with the family and truly understand them. While in the car he also gets from Beth who is responsible for the mayhem of the night before intending to make it right. Imagine the surprise when Beth informs her mother that she is going to spend time with the Oliverio family and the rant that ensues but it isn’t going to stop Beth from going.
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Arriving, she witnesses the men in the family argue and fuss over the fish dishes that have to be perfect. Tony is surprised to see her there but thrilled as the family holidays are officially in full on mode. After eating they go to church and Beth actually has the chance to get to know Nonnie much better as she explains that there is a different life between she and Tony.
The funny thing – Tony should never have been worried about his very chaotic family because the real chaos and heartbreak is about to come from a place he should have suspected. Seems like perhaps both Tony and Beth might need to come clean about their lives and feelings.
It’s the Feast of the Seven Fishes for their holiday!
Gisondo as Tony is perfection and I loved his reactions when the family was, well, being themselves. There is an innocence about his character yet he has the same look we all do when an older relative finds the chink in our embarrassment armor and exploits it. There is also a knight-ness about this character because he knows what the right thing is and puts himself before others. Gisondo makes it look effortless and perhaps it’s because he has the face of someone you not only totally trust but also expect generosity of spirit.
Iseman as Beth is considered a girl from the rich part of town. That isn’t relatable for the Oliveria family but that doesn’t mean they don’t know how to treat a guest. Tony is taken with her because she can hold a conversation and isn’t afraid to challenge him and gets along with the family. Well, perhaps all but Nonnie played by Cohen who I absolutely love. She is almost exactly how I hope to be as a grandmother some day with anyone who wants to be part of our family, well, maybe without the slights.
Pantoliano as Uncle Frankie knows just what to do for the holiday feast and also will do anything to protect the family and those they consider family. Abruzzo as Uncle Carmine who tackles anyone who tells him how to rinse the fish. He sees what Tony is dealing with and makes it clear he stands by him no matter what.
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Timlin as Katie is a young woman who can’t get over Tony and also can’t stop making bad decisions because of hurt feelings. Helman as Juke seems to be the only person around that understands her feelings and isn’t afraid to ask her why she doesn’t treat herself well. Schulz as Cousin Angelo is a character unto himself with his tough talk and big car, Darrow as Sarah is his girlfriend who has an opinion and isn’t afraid to share it. She loves Angelo but wishes he be a bit more like Tony.
Other cast include Ben Martin as Nunnzio, Jackson Nunn as Sab, Isabella Tinnell as Phyllis, Tony Bingham as Tony Sr., Allen Williamson as Prentice, Tommy Lafitte as Bernard.
Writer/director Tinnell says, ” As a kid, I didn’t even know it was called the Feast of the Seven Fishes. It was just something we did every Christmas Eve and it was fun and the food was incredible. It wasn’t like the food you ate in restaurants or at school or even at other kids’ houses. It was anything but bland, anything but mass-produced. It was magic.”
Owing his love of the holiday to his great-grandmother who prepared the food in an old fashioned way, it became clear that he holds on to the memories of family and all those who were around the table. Writing the graphic novel Feast of the Seven Fishes (which won the prestigious Eisner Award at Comic Con in my hometown of San Diego), it also has recipes for the authentic feast that was brought by wife Shannon Tinnell. The novel and film represent Christmas, Food, Italian culture and the best part of the film – the sights and sounds of the 1980’s.
When talking to a filmmaker and director, I often ask what they hope people take away from seeing a film they’ve made. Tinnell has one of the best answers I’ve ever heard to the question because it is filled with heart, soul and memories of a time that isn’t coming back any time soon. He says, ” I’m really hoping when you watch this movie you get hungry and maybe you try to fix some of this stuff yourself. Because like we always say on Christmas Eve – around here everyone is Italian. I can’t make you like this movie but I can promise you one thing, it is authentic. It is real. It is as it was on Christmas Eve in 1983 in our little town on the banks of the Monongahela River. When all the people I loved in my family were still alive. When the food was still a delicious mystery and when the love of your life was out there, somewhere, maybe listening to Spandau Ballet on the jukebox just waiting to meet you. Enjoy.”
FEAST OF THE SEVEN FISHES is just a beautifully told story about a family that is loud, opinionated and knows how they feel about one another – even if an outsider might not understand. They hold onto traditions like gold and aren’t about to change them for anything and there are still families who believe in traditions. The world moves so fast now that sometimes traditions get lost in the shuffle.
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I adore the way Tinnell brings each character aboard, almost as if he’s giving us a moment to adjust to them because, and let’s be honest, they are a handful. Those ‘handfuls’ are family and they are loved and respected as such which brings back so many memories for me personally. The food is made with love, the yelling is done with love, and the chaos is fueled by love. Who could ask for anything more than that?
This is a holiday film that can be watched again and again because the Oliverio family are teachers and reminders of what we hold dear about our own families. Whether we want to admit it or not, all the craziness in the world can’t replace our Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins and extended family who come together even if for only one meal a year during the most precious time of year.
In the end – it’s time for food, family and love!

GO FISH is Animated About Saving the Ocean

Go Fish Cover
Jeri Jacquin
Coming to DVD from writer/director Sean Patrick O’Reilly, Arcana and Lionsgate comes a look and lesson from below the sea with GO FISH.
Alex the parrot fish (Sean Patrick O’Reilly) is the janitor of his fish town and happy with what he does. Also in their little fish village is sea horse Christine (Kathleen Bar), loner eel Eelanore (Asia Mattu), and Ed the blowfish (Tobias the Owl). It is Mary (voiced by Allison Wandzura) that discovers something wrong in the sea.
Calling it goop, fish are getting stuck in it and they want lion fish King Charles (Scott McNeil) to do something. Alex approaches the King’s assistant Paul for a meeting. The request is not well received as he gets a loud lecture about nothing happening and to keep his fish lips shut on the matter. That’s not good enough for Alex or his friends and a plan is formed.
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Upon the surface, a company called Quoquo Modo is drilling into the ocean floor. Callie (iJustine) loves her job and wants to make sure everything is done to keep the ocean safe. Dennis (Mark Hamill) is grumpier and less on the ball thinking that 100% no leaking doesn’t necessarily mean 100%.
Alex, Eelanore, Ed and Christine go out in search of the goop and meet a whole group of characters that just want to make their adventure a little more difficult. Maria the shark (Summer O’Reilly) and her friend Bernardo the tiger shark (Ron Perlman) are two particularly toothy characters that try to get in the way.
But once they find the goop, Alex and the gang try to get the attention of the humans in funny diving outfits to show them where there is a leak. Try as they might, the diver just shoo’s them away. The next step is an even bigger plan that gets the attention of everyone on the platform and just in time to save them all from a total ocean disaster.
O’Reilly as Alex is a spunky and happy parrot fish who truly does love his job as a janitor. Keeping everything nice and clean for his fellow fishes and friends is very important. When the goop appears, he knows that it will hurt all of them if they don’t at least try to stop it. He’s such a cutie of a fish!
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Bar as Christine is another happy sea creature and the cutest color of pink for a sea horse. Trying to grow up a little out of the shadow of her overbearing Mom and baby carrying Dad, going with Alex to find the goop is her chance to do just that. Mattu as Eelanore would prefer to be left alone in her comfy cave where she can watch the world go by or take a nap whenever she likes. Going with Alex may have started out as protection but quickly became a thrill for her first adventure.
Tobias as Ed is a little grumpy by that doesn’t stop him from being part of the gang to stop a disaster. I personally think he just liked being part of something bigger than his little puffy self. McNeil as King Charles is a fish on a power trip caring nothing for his ‘subjects’ but instead wielding his fishly powers.
iJustine as Callie is a happy person who really does love her job and wants everyone, above the water and below to be safe. When it becomes clear that both of those things are in jeopardy, Callie is on it to make it right. Hamill as Dennis is just a cranky unhappy employee who just isn’t on the ball when it comes to what’s best for everyone.
Other cast include Michelle O’Reilly as Joanne and Geoff Gustafson as Vincent.
Lionsgate is a global leader in motion picture production and distribution for theatres, television, home entertainment and more. Theatre franchises include THE HUNGER GAMES, and DIVERGENT along with JOHN WICK. Now, adding this film to its 16,000 motion picture and television titles you can see everything coming soon as well as available now at http://www.lionsgate.com.
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The DVD Special Features include ‘Go Fish’ (Side by Side) Music Video Sing-Along, The GO FISH Digital Comic Book and a GO FISH Fish Guide.
GO FISH is a very charming and educational look at life in the ocean. The animation is colorful and fun and in the mix of that is a story about how precious the eco-system is in the ocean. It shows how, if fish could talk (and maybe they do!), they could tell us when pipes are leaking or trash is choking them out. Explaining these things to younger children, GO FISH does so in a way that is relatable for them.
Yet, it’s also enjoyable for the adults as well and gives families something to talk about after the film. The Special Features of the DVD also provide some fun things to do together as a family. Whether it’s singing or learning about other fish, it is always a wonderful way to spend quality time together.
In the end – just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water – it really is!

THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN is Tissue Worthy

Racing Cover

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to Bluray and Digital from director Simon Curtis and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment is the world through a dogs eyes who knows THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN.

Denny Swift (Milo Ventimiglia) is an up and coming race car driver who finds himself falling head over heels for a four legged furry Enzo (voiced by Kevin Costner). This is Enzo telling the story of their meeting and life together. Finding himself drawn to Denny’s world of racing, Enzo can’t get enough of everything they do.

That is until schoolteacher Eve (Amanda Seyfried) comes into the picture! Enzo isn’t exactly thrilled with the change in Denny and having to share what he considers a perfect life with a third person. Eventually a fourth person in the form of Zoe (Ryan Armstrong) arrives and Enzo realizes that he has enough love for everyone and becomes Zoe’s protector.

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Through the years Denny supports his family racing and is away occasionally and Eve is watched over by Enzo. That is when he senses that something is wrong with Eve but there isn’t any way to make Denny aware of it. On a walk, Eve collapses and Enzo has to use the only voice he has to get help.

Now Denny and Zoe are finding their stride while Eve is in hospital. There is backup by Eve’s judgmental father Maxwell (Martin Donovan) and doting mother Trish (Kathy Baker). Helping with Zoe, Denny stops going out on the road and returns to the track teaching for boss Don (Gary Cole). The goal of everyone is to make sure Eve is comfortable and Enzo keeps a very close eye nightly.

When things turn tragic, Denny is pit up against Eve’s father and Enzo wants to make it clear that he knows what’s happening. When Maxwell oversteps his bounds and Denny reacts, it starts a chain of pain for everyone including Zoe and Enzo isn’t about to allow anything to happen to his family.

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Ventimiglia as Denny is a man who knows exactly how he wants to spend his life – behind the wheel of a very fast car. Everyone believes he is magical at his job and even the woman he marries is supportive (not so much the daddy dearest father-in-law). This is a role that Ventimiglia is becoming known for with his ability to be the trusted emotional support for everyone around him even if his world is falling apart. The combination of Denny and Enzo is beautiful.

Seyfried as Eve accepts that her husband just loves to be behind the wheel, although she might not understand it, there is nothing more important to her than Denny’s success. It’s nice to see that supportiveness from them both actually as conflict seems to permeate films with couples in them lately. These two are just want each other to be happy and Seyfried does that – until her character can’t.

Baker as Mom Trish is the more relaxed of the couple and lets it be known that he likes Denny even if she is nervous about his chosen profession. Donovan as Maxwell is that one character that I can’t help but curl my lip up at. He is judgmental and finds any opportunity to make Denny uncomfortable as a husband and father. It takes a lot for me to not like a character and Donovan does his job well. Cole as Don just has a presence that I have always enjoyed. From comedy, to drama to being a bad guy, he also makes playing a good guy pretty dang awesome.

Now, Costner as the voice of Enzo the dog – can I just say I absolutely adored it. He had the ability to make me believe I was listening, well, to a dog! I loved the way he spoke, his description of life, the people in it and when being naught I found myself cheering him/Enzo on. So well done and made me tear up on more than one occasion, especially “one more lap” (you’ll see, have tissue at the ready!)

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Other cast include Lily Dodsworth-Evans as Teenage Zoe, Al Sapienza as Luca Pantoni, McKinely Belcher III as Mark Finn, Ian Lake as Uncle Mike and Andres Joseph as Tony.

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.

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

The Bluray Special Features Include  A Journey to Screen, Directing the Art, Enzo Cam, Behind the Wheel, The Dog Stays in the Picture, Enzo’s First Ride and Audio Commentary by Director Simon Curtis.

There are a lot of films about dogs in the last few years and there are some very heart-warming ones. THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN just had me feeling almost every range of human or dog emotions possible. I loved Enzo as a puppy immediately but it becomes clearer and clearer with Costner’s help that he is no ordinary dog. Enzo is a thinker and breaks it all down as he waits to become, like Pinocchio, human.

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He knows his racing first of all which I thought was pretty cool but he also knows so much more and realizes that he grows emotionally because he sees something for his future. I think what really got me was his description of Eve’s leaving when he said “I know because I saw it” and I lost it.

The cast had their role to play as well of a family dealing with love, marriage, family, death, anger and acceptance of putting one step in front of the other to keep life in front of them all. There is so much for the family to experience with this film and it is my heartfelt hope that they see it together and talk about it all after.

In the end – meet the dog who shoes the world how to be human!

THE ANGRY BIRDS 2 Brings More Giggles on Bluray

Angry Birds 2 Cover

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to Bluray/DVD, Digital and also available on 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack from director Thurop Van Orman and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment are our favorite birds with THE ANGRY BIRDS 2.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment encompasses motion picture production for television, digital content and theater releases. The studios include Columbia Pictures, Screen Gems, TriStar Pictures, Sony Pictures Animation, Stage 6 Films and Sony Picture Classics. To see what is coming to theaters and to home entertainment please visit www.sonypictures.com.

The Bluray and Digital Bonus Features include All New Mini Movie!, 6 Classic Hatchling Mini Movies, DIY Family Fun with Hangry Birds: Popcorn Balls, Smarty Birds: Crafty Volcano, Crafty Birds: Pig Snot!, Bird Watching, Meet the New Birds & Pigs, Hatching to Hatchlings, Flocking Together: Making the Angry Birds Movie 2, Happy Thanks-pigging and Jingle Birds: A Holiday Song from the Cast of Angry Birds 2.

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

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

In the end – this summer winter is coming!

Gumshoe Noir is Wrapped in MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN 

motherless cover

Jeri Jacquin
Coming to theatres from writer/director Edward Norton and Warner Bros. is the tale of secrets, lies and a man who embraces MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN.
Lionel Essrog (Edward Norton) works for Frank Minna (Bruce Willis) who owns a detective agency and car service. Caring for Lionel since he was young, Minna saw something special and not just the speech condition he has no control over.
On a case, Minna asks Lionel to signal him if things go wrong at a meeting. Watching every move, he is upset seeing boss and mentor Minna getting into a car with a couple of shady types. Following the best he can, it all falls apart and Lionel must now deal with the most heartbreaking thing he can imagine.
Back at the office, Tony (Bobby Cannavale) has taken over to keep the business afloat along with Gilbert (Ethan Suplee) and Danny (Dallas Roberts).  Lionel cannot shake what has happened and isn’t about to let it go. Digging into what Minna was working on, he comes across activist Laura (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) who lives next to the nightclub The King Rooster. It is when he follows Laura to a community meeting and Gabby Horowitz (Cherry Jones) does he meet Paul Randolph (Willem DaFoe) who seems to have a lot to say about brother Moses Randolph (Alec Baldwin).
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Putting the scattered pieces together, Laura tells Lionel that Moses Randolph is buying up all the property from poorer families to get them out and reclaim the land in favor of the rich. Wrapped up in the confusion, Lionel must discover what it was Minna tried to tell him, what Laura has to do with it all, what is wrong with Paul Randolph and what it will take to get the truth out of Moses Randolph to solve his friends murder!
Norton as Lionel is exquisite from start to finish. Losing someone who cared for him and that he cared for meant he wasn’t going to let sleeping dogs lie. Donning the man’s coat and hat, you can sense the determination and although at times the film seemed to slow a little, it certainly pays off as the pieces of this crazy puzzle slowly come together. It may have taken Norton all these years to write the script but you can be sure I’d rather him have taken his time to create MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN than make a shoddy detective film. I just loved this character and how his mind worked even with some considered his disability.
Raw as Laura is a woman after justice for the city she loves. Always on the move to find answers to stopping Randolph, she has no problem laying it out plainly for Lionel. She also finds herself feeling warmly towards him without actually knowing why. Raw is such a soft actress but in that softness is strength of conviction in the characters that she plays – brava! Jones as Gabby is a force just as powerful as Laura and isn’t worried about what will happen to her as she is what is happening to the people of New York.
Baldwin as Moses Randolph is a grade A ass of a man that some people might easily recognize in a weird way. It is clear that this man feels he owes no one an explanation for the wiping out of whole neighborhood blocks. Over the years we have seen Baldwin play so many different roles but one thing is for certain, he has the amazing ability to portray douchebags in such a way that everything that falls from his character may seem awful but you can’t help but watch! This role is no exception to that as Randolph feels justified in everything he does and makes no apologies.
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DaFoe as Paul is a character that was hard to keep up with but in a good way. His mind worked even faster than Lionel’s and it seemed so scattered and absurd but that’s the brilliance of DaFoe’s portrayal, the truth is in the madness created by family. Lionel is never really sure what is happening with Paul and I certainly went with him on that. I think DaFoe is such a treasure and that Norton choose wisely!
Cannavale, Suplee and Roberts provide support as the men behind the agency door. Trying to support Lionel in finding who killed Minna, they are also realistic in knowing that their skills might not be needed any longer. Cannavale has the ability to steal a scene and his choice of roles always surprises me.
Other cast include Josh Pais as William Lieberman, Leslie Mann as Mrs. Minna and Bruce Willis as Frank Minna (and I oh so wished he was in it far more than he was).
The story is based on the 1999 novel by Jonathan Lethem as Norton took to tasks writing the screenplay. At the Toronto Film Festival, Norton says, “Lethem wrote this incredible character of 50s gumshoes living in the modern world. It made sense to set it in the 50s and once that decision was made, we got very interested into opening it up to the deep corruption and history of New York.”
I am a fan of detective films, especially the black and white films of ‘old’ (so to speak). Norton has captured the essence of those beloved films with the look and feel that is fantastic. The added music track of the film with the amazing jazz club scenes just made me completely giddy. The music is actually created by Grammy Award-winning artist Thom Yorke, Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers and nine-time Grammy winner Wynton Marsalis.
MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN is a film that will fall easily in line with other classics such as L.A. CONFIDENTIAL, CHINA TOWN, and ROAD TO PERDITION. There is something drawing to Norton’s performance at Lionel that is deliberate and powerful and with the cast he is working with, there is nothing out of place in a story that is completely out of place. Watching several interviews with the cast, it is clear that they are just as pleased with the outcome of the film.
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If you are a fan of what I call gumshoe noir then MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN should entice you, if a fan of gorgeous cinematography, music and costuming then MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN should have you buying a ticket and if you are a fan of a film that takes its time to tell a marvelous story – then MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN is absolutely for you. I have no doubt there will be nominations coming from every direction very soon.
In the end – he will leave no stone unturned to find the answer!

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