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THE LAST FULL MEASURE is Stunning

The Last Full Measure cover

 

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres from director writer/director Todd Robinson and Roadside Attractions comes a film that answers the question of ‘is it ever to late to do the right thing?’ with the story that takes THE LAST FULL MEASURE.

Now, here is where I usually tell the story and the actors who portray them but this time I’m going to do something a little different. On April 11, 1966, a very young Air Force Pararescuer A1C William H. Pitsenbarger was sent to retrieve Army soldiers wounded in an ongoing ambush.

Needing help loading the wounded men on the ground, Pitsenbarger volunteered to go down to help the men who he did not even know. Under intense fire, the helicopter needed to leave and Pitsenbarger stayed. For almost two hours he tended to the wounded and even helped with munitions for the soldiers still in the fight.

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There were men that day who survived the battle of Abilene witnessing all of what Pitsenbarger did to save as many as he could.

Now, here we are, in January of 2020, fifty-four years later hearing the story of Pitsenbarger because there were men that day who believed this young man deserved a Medal of Honor and was denied and why?

That is what the film THE LAST FULL MEASURE is about. Scott Huffman (Sebastian Stan) is a young politician who needs to find another position with a new administration coming in. Politician Whit Peters (Linus Roache) and handler Carlton Stanton (Bradley Whitford) present Huffman with letters about how A1C Pitsenbarger was supposed to get the Medal of Honor but instead only received a Air Force Cross.

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Wanting answers is Tulley (William Hurt) a palliative care worker who knows the family including father Frank (Christopher Plummer) and mother Alice (Diane Ladd). Irritated that he has to be bothered with this when he’s trying to find another White House position, Huffman begrudgingly starts looking for witnesses that include Ray Mott (Ed Harris), Jimmy Burr (Peter Fonda), Takoda (Samuel L. Jackson) and Kepper (John Savage).

Each of these men are suffering from different forms and severity of PTSD are suffering from different forms and severity of PT and bringing up what happened on April 11, 1966 is physically and mentally painful. These men had a story to tell but trusting all the information to Huffman proves to be his challenge.

Finally, the truth is uncovered and it becomes time to bring it all to the forefront so that A1C William H. Pitsenbarger is not only honored for what he did, but for those who fought for that recognition and the lives he touched from one act of valor.

Stan as Huffman couldn’t have found a better role to play because it is nothing like I’ve ever seen him play. He gets a chance to show what he can do (without a suit) in bringing this character to fruition. Thinking only of his possibilities in the White House, it slowly becomes clear that his priorities might be a little skewed.

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Hurt as Tulley is the first force to be reckoned with as it becomes clear that he feels a sense of something about that day. He wants to bring honor to Pitsenbarger for the sake of his lovely parents. Jackson as Takoda is a man of few useless words and he don’t take kindly to outsiders invading his personal space but does explain that he had been trying for years to make the medal happen.

Fonda as Billy (and it is a loving moment to see him on the screen) is a man tortured beyond reason because of his Vietnam experience. His wife Donna played by stellar actress Amy Madigan, explains to Huffman that the night holds nothing but fear for her husband.

Harris as Mott is a man who carries his own guilt about what happened and the aftermath. Like his Army buddies, he is not happy to be talking to Huffman but if it gets Pitsenbarger what he deserves then perhaps it’s time.

Whitford as Stanton gets a chance to be back in the White House and douchey at the same time. The one thing you can say about Whitford, he is good at being good and seriously bad at being seriously bad. Hurt as Keppel is a man who lives in Vietnam and tries to help his fellow servicemen. When Huffman visits him there are so many moments of pain and joy it is a scene you have you experience for yourself.

Finally, to Jeremy Irvine who portrays Pitsenbarger – you sir gave a performance that choked me. Every time he was on screen, I just saw such a young man doing the extraordinary. Please don’t get me wrong, I know all soldiers do the extraordinary because I know I couldn’t. I’m giving Irvine a backslap for giving us the feel for this soldier at this era.

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Other cast include Alison Sudol as Tara Huffman, Cody Walker as Young Kepper, Ser’Darius Blain as Young Takoda, James Jagger as Young Jimmy Burr, Travis Wade as Lt. Tom Allison.

Is this a vague description of the film? Absolutely. I wasn’t sure what I would be seeing when presented with the opportunity to see THE LAST FULL MEASURE, but I can tell you this, my heart ached the entire film.

We live in a world that still doesn’t seem to understand what war does to the men and women who fight in them. Vietnam was the first opportunity that family and friends experienced the effects when loved ones returned totally different. Psychological help wasn’t a priority then so as the years passed, so did the concern for the soldiers.

Hollywood scratched at it a few times with such films as FULL MENTAL JACKET, DEERHUNTER, PLATOON, BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY, and FULL METAL JACKET but didn’t seem to pierce the wall to those who could make change.

Here we are with Afghanistan and Iraq with soldiers returning to the same mess created by war. Sending perfectly capable individuals on to be returned people in physical and mental pain. So THE LAST FULL MEASURE doesn’t hide the PTSD that these men continue to suffer and the character of Huffman can’t run from it any longer either.

This is our history folks, one that is repeated time and time again with every war started. Am I saying we should protect ourselves, absolutely not – but we need to be sure that it is a last resort not a first stone cast.

Now, to Pitsenberger’s story – it is the mixture of men agonizing over decisions made and people not being held accountable for their actions. The film doesn’t let any of it slide away into oblivion but instead faces it, just as the soldier’s family and friends have faced it every day since. The soldiers that were there that day come face to face with it and this film gives us the chance to embrace them even if we can’t’ break through the screen and hug them.

The cast is absolutely amazing and there is no one that takes the screen away from another. They, well, meld together to support one another’s character because they want to bring the message to us – never be afraid to do what’s right just as Pitsenbarger did.

Please let that be the very thing everyone takes away from seeing THE LAST FULL MEASURE.

I truly believe it is important that each person that sees the film remembers exactly what the citation reads, so, it you will indulge me. The citation reads, “The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, March 3, 1963 has awarded in the name of the Congress the Medal of Honor posthumously to: A1C William H. Pitsenbarger, United States Air Force for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his own life above and beyond the call of duty near Cam My, April 11, 1966”.

In the end – he gave the very last full measure.

THE TIGER OF ESCHNAPUR and THE INDIAN TOMB is Legendary on Bluray

Tiger
Jeri Jacquin
Coming to Bluray from one of the titans of cinema director Fritz Lang and Film Movement Classics are two films the set with THE TIGER OF ESCHNAPUR and THE INDIAN TOMB.
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THE TIGER OF ESCHNAPUR
Harold Berger (Paul Hubschmid) is an architect that has been asked to India by the Maharaja Chandra (Walter Reyer). His plan for the city is to build hospitals and schools for his people. On the way to Eschnapur, Berger meets a beautiful temple dancer (Debra Paget) and almost immediately the two connect. Further along the road, Seetha’s wagon is attacked by a tiger and Berger jumps into action to save her.
Maharaja Chandra is ever grateful to Berger and gives him a token of his appreciation. Now that Seetha is near, the Maharaja becomes even more infatuated with Seetha than the first time he saw her. None of this sits well with the Maharaja’s brother Prince Ramigani (Rene Deltgen) who was stepped over as ruler of Eschnapur.
So much so is the resentment that he goes to Padu (Jochen Brockmann) who’s sister was once married to the Maharaja before she passed and others who aren’t happy with Seetha’s arrival. Standing up for the Maharaja is General Dagh (Guido Celano) and standing up for tradition is the temple leader Yama (Valery Inkijinoff).
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Helping Berger put plans together for the Maharaja is Asgara (Jochen Blume), an engineer who knows the palace very well. What he doesn’t know is that whispers are going on behind the palace walls about the relationship he has with Seetha. As he learns more of her story, the more he finds himself falling for the beautiful dancer. That sets in motion a plan that the Prince has against his brother.
The Maharaja tries to capture the heart of Seetha but knows there is something she is keeping from him. When the palace whispers get to him, he holds a banquet to test his new friends loyalty. When it all goes horribly wrong, he starts to believe that Berger and Seetha are betraying him. Sensing they are in danger, the two plan to get away as fast as possible as the palace soldiers take chase. What they don’t know is that Berger’s brother-in-law Walter Rhode (Claus Holm) and sister Irene (Sabine Bethmann) have arrived.
Now the Maharaja is playing a game of his own, lying to the Rhodes’ and making Walter an offer that is beyond anything he could have imagined. Berger and Seetha are caught in a sand storm and overtake the couple in their end – or is it?
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THE INDIAN TOMB
Irene and her husband suspect that foul play is afoot in the palace and don’t trust anyone but Asagara but he isn’t getting any answers either. In the middle of the desert, a caravan has found Berger and Seetha taking them to a local village for help. Everyone is afraid because the palace soldiers have already made it known that any village helping will be dealt with.
Berger and Seetha make a run for it again but are caught! Seetha is taken back to the palace and Berger disappears. The Maharaja has taken to asking the town seer for help in dealing with his anger and after only moments is gently told what he must do but to no avail. Back at the palace, the leader of Eschnapur begins plans to marry Seetha and isn’t about to let his brother, religious leader or anyone else tell him what to do.
The Prince tries to bide his time in an attempt to make a coup. Irene has made her way to Seetha to discover what has happened and how they are all going to escape the palace. She tells Walter what she’s discovered and the two begin to make their own plans using the problems of the palace to work in their favor.
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The Maharaja is facing enemies from the palace and below it as it all comes to a finality that is as beautifully epic as it could only be.
Paget as Seetha is absolutely stunning from the first films frame to the second films last frame. There is no doubt that she is beautiful and a stunning dancer, but Paget is calmly strong in her portrayal of Seetha. Her performance is mesmerizing and as a fan of Lang I would have expected nothing less in his choice of actress to play this role. She carried herself with such grace and covered in the lavish sari’s just made her character more breathtaking.
Hubschmid as Berger is an equally calm character. He has a gentle nature and a humble spirit that makes it easy to like him. Even when he realizes his feelings for Seetha, he doesn’t outwardly act on them until he feels there is danger for both of them. Their great escape led to the second film where, shall we say, he finds out that not everyone is as forgiving as the viewer might be. Hubschmid is tall, handsome and the hero women fall for so I can see how he was also the right choice to portray Berger!
Reyer as the Maharaja is grieving the loss of his wife but finding happiness once again in Seetha. He tries over and over to make it clear that he just wants a life with her. Not thinking his brother could ever be an adversary was the beginning of his problems and unrequited love turned the tide in his good nature. Reyer has a crazy look in his eye at times and I saw even before THE INDIAN TOMB that I’d be running to get away from him way before Seetha did! Well done performance in both films with an ending that had to happen.
Der Tiger von Eschnapur
Deltgen as Ramigani is a brother who has been stepped over (or maybe even stepped on) to become Maharaja of Eschnapur. The plotting and planning is easy when you have everyone around you rubbing salt on an royal open wound. Torn between wanting to support his brother and wanting to be Maharaja, his choice is taken away by his own hurt feelings.  Brockmann as Padu has a bone to pick with the Maharaja feeling that his sister’s memory is being cast aside for Seetha. When his words are ignored, he doesn’t mind jumping on the revenge band wagon for a round or two.
Bethmann as Irene sense from the moment they arrive in Eschnapur that something is amiss. In her mind there is no way her brother would take off without communication to her. Irene is just as clever as I’d want a sister to be and doesn’t take no for an answer. Holm as Walter is outraged at the Maharaja’s request to stay and even more so when told why. He is absolutely frustrated, as Irene is, that they are not being told the truth. Holm paces so much I’m surprised there isn’t a path ground into the marble! Even Blume as Asagara is confused by the stories being told but again is loyal to the Maharaja and would never question his intentions.
Other cast include Luciana Paluzzi as Bharani, Helmut Hildebrand as Ramigani’s servant and Richard Lauffen as Bhowana.
Film Movement has released more than 250 feature films and shorts culled from prestigious film festivals worldwide. It’s theatrical releases include American independent films, documentaries and foreign art house titles. It’s catalog includes titles by directors such as Hirokazu, Maren Ade, Jessica Hausner, Andrzej Wajda, Diane Kurys, Ciro Guerra and Melanie Laurent. Film Movement Classics features new restorations of films by such directors as Eric Rohmer, Peter Greenaway, Bille August, Marlene Gorris, Takeshi Kitano, King Hu and Ettore Scola. For more information please visit www.filmmovement.com.
The Bluray Bonus Features include Audio Commentaries by film historian David Kalat, The Indian Epic documentary, Debra Paget, For Example a video essay by Mark Rappaport and 20-page booklet with an essay by film scholar Tom Gunning.
Director Lang returned to Germany after a 20 year exile and created a two-part film leaving the first with a cliffhanger to create THE TIGER OF ESCHNAPUR and THE INDIAN TOMB. Leaving Germany before the war and going to Paris then to the United States, Lang is also responsible for the 1927 film METROPOLIS and WOMAN IN THE MOON in 1929. In the U.S. he made FURY in 1936 with Spencer Tracy and THE BIG HEAT in 1953.
He returned to Germany to create what he called his “Indian Epic” with THE TIGER OF ESCHNAPUR and THE INDIAN TOMB. The later was a story created by his estranged spouse Thea von Harbour in 1920 which he helped to develop. Lang was close to ending his career in 1963 because of health problems but made it into the film CONTEMPT.
THE TIGER OF ESCHNAPUR and THE INDIAN TOMB are epics by my standards and those of 1959 and I think it would be stunning to see on the big screen but I’ll certainly take it in my own home. The interesting part of the film is that the language is in Germany (no worries, subtitles!) but watching the film it’s easy to forget it. That’s how you know the film has captured my attention! I am a super fan of period pieces and an even bigger fan when the costuming in absolutely stunning.
These films are given so much richness by the costuming, the colors, the attention to detail and the cast carry themselves well in them. Speaking of the cast, they are impeccable in their character portrayal. Doing two films, they flow one into the next and it feels absolutely seamless. The good guys are trying hard to keep their head out of the tigers mouth and the bad guys are poking the tigers from behind.
It’s a well thought out story of family, royalty, jealousy, revenge, love, passion, exoticness, richness, and a clear message that love and jealousy cannot co-exist for brothers in the same palace.
In the end – this is an exotic Indian epic worthy of every frame!

STRANGE BUT TRUE Will Shock and Jaw Drop

Strange Cover

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to Bluray and Digital from director Rowan Athale, CBS Films and Lionsgate is a family in mourning until a shock knocks on their door with a story that is STRANGE BUT TRUE.

It has been five years and Philip (Nick Robinson) is a young man deal with the death of his brother Ronnie (Connor Jessup) and how it has effect mom Charlene (Amy Ryan) and estranged dad Richard (Greg Kinnear). Making things more interesting is the knock on the door by Melissa (Margaret Qualley), Ronnie’s girlfriend at the time of his death.

The shock is that Melissa is very pregnant and tells Charlene and Philip that the father is Ronnie. Unable to explain why she believes it, Charlene immediately goes into freak out mode. Trying to understand why she would make up such a story, Charlene begins to research her thought process.

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In the meantime, Melissa is living in a small house on the property of friends Gail (Blythe Danner) and husband Bill (Brian Cox). The couple see her as the daughter they never had and are mystified about her reason for keeping the identity of the baby’s father from them.

Philip begins to friend Melissa and wants to help, especially because she could be telling the truth about the baby’s paternity. Charlene reaches out to Richard trying to find answers since he is a doctor. They can’t help but snap at one another because of the hurt feelings and animosity that has grown over the years between the two.

That doesn’t stop Charlene from slowly ruling out scenarios but the secrets are starting to slowly unravel on their own. In the cross of it are Philip, Melissa and the truth about her baby!

Robinson as Philip is a young man dealing with the death of his brother but getting his own life twisted in the meantime. That’s why he reaches out to Melissa as a connection to Ronnie by someone who cared for him just as much as he did. Robinson has a scene where he finally speaks out about his feelings and it is full of all the emotions his character has been keeping hidden, this young actor nails it.

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Ryan as Charlene is full of anger for both the death of her son and the death of her marriage. Ronnie’s girlfriend is the last person she wants to see let alone see her pregnant with a story about paternity. Ryan gives this character righteous anger and emotions of a mother who can’t find a place for her grief. Kinnear as Richard looks for solace from his grief far from home and with someone else. He has secrets of his own and the question is how much longer can he kept them hidden?

Qualley as Melissa believes what she believes and doesn’t concern herself with whether anyone trusts her word. She knows that her friendship with Gayle and Bill will give her time to have her baby and go from there. Danner as Gayle is a loving friend who never had children of her own. Friending Melissa makes her feel as if she has a chance to be motherly. Danner is always a force on the screen no matter if it’s big or small. Cox as Bill loves his wife dearly and lets her know it. His concern for Melissa is ever present and sees her child as something joyful for Gayle and that’s important for him. Cox is not front and center in the film but his presence is palpable.

Other cast include Janaya Stephens as Pilla, Mena Massoud as Chaz, Sarah Allen as Holly, Darryl Flatman as Vaughn and Allegra Fulton as Chantrel.

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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STRANGE BUT TRUE is a film that has so many twists and turns one could easily get whiplash. In the mixture of grief and anger are two stories that will merge together but not with an ending anyone would expect. This is an interesting cast that has been put together to tell the story because as each secret comes out, the reaction and next secret just muddies the waters again so well done.

So don’t blink or the connections will fly by and don’t make too much noise eating popcorn or you won’t hear what is shocking or you’ll forget you have a mouth full of popcorn because your jaw will be dropping. STRANGE BUT TRUE is reinforces what happens when a family has secrets, tells themselves lies and let anger control every move.

In the end – some things are impossible to conceive!

The Wedding Guest

 

the wedding guest cover

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres from writer/director Michael Winterbottom and IFC Films comes a story of what everyone does for love with THE WEDDING GUEST.

Jay (Dev Patel) is a mystery man who is hired by Deepesh (Jim Sarbh) to do the unthinkable. Nearing a small town in Pakistan, Jay ingratiates himself to a wedding party in order to get near the bride-to-be Samira (Radhika Apte).

During the night, Jay enters the house and kidnaps Samira and comes face to face with a guard. Stashing the girl in the trunk, Jay speeds away hearing the household awaken in a fury. Changing cars he again speeds away but this time lets Samira know that everything is fine.

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Feeling secure enough, Jay lets Samira out and lets her know that someone hired him to take her. She instantly knows who it is as they travel deeper into India. The problem is that the news has spread of her kidnapping and now they are being looked for.

That’s the biggest problem as Deepesh is now having second thoughts about dealing with the problem and wants Jay’s help again. There is something deeper here and Jay is going to have to discover what it is and how to handle it.

Someone isn’t telling him the whole truth!

Patel as Jay is very menacing as this character with is quiet ways and little time for chit-chat. He is methodical and quick on his feet when it comes to adjusting the plan at a moments notice. It doesn’t help that everyone around him has other agendas. Patel continues to chose roles that are challenging and unexpected and, lets face it, he is a far cry from SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE and he has made his way flawlessly.

Apte as Samira doesn’t want to get married but also comes from a family where tradition isn’t about what she wants. Once she understands the situation with Jay, she doesn’t fight back and actually begins to let the whole thing play out. She is smart, tough and did I mention smart?

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Sarbh as Deepesh has a small role but he is the instigator of the whole misadventure. Money he’s got and has no problem throwing it at Jay to get everything he wants – well, almost everything.

Other cast include Harish Khanna as Nitin, Nish Nathwani as Sam, Meherbaan Singh as Osman and Sidhu Manpreet as Haveli.

THE WEDDING GUEST is a thriller that brings the action to every scene. The film is carried by Patel and Apte from start to finish as they play off each other’s character. Both are mysterious and both keep secrets very well. So much so that we really don’t know much about them accept for what is right in front of us – and I’m okay with that.

The vastness of Pakistan and the tight quarters of India only add to the intensity and the anxiety of hiding in plain sight in both circumstances. From the very beginning I was curious as to what Patel’s character was up to and had no problem going for the ride. Changing his papers from one name to the next always reminds us that we never truly know who Jay is or if Jay is even his real name!

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That’s what makes THE WEDDING GUEST a film worth investing time to watch. The curiosity factor is so high that each step the duo takes changes up the course of what initially was to happen.

In the end – be prepared for wedding plans to change!

MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS

Mary Queen cover

Jeri Jacquin

Coming this Friday from director Josie Rourke and Focus Features is the story of a woman who would be more with MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS.

Mary (Saoirse Ronan) is returning to Scotland from France after the death of her husband King Francis. Taking up her crown as Queen of Scotland, she is met by her half-brother James (James McArdle) the Earl of Moray who doesn’t seem pleased to see her.

He isn’t the only one as John Knox (David Tennant) makes it very clear that he isn’t about to change faiths to accommodate her. Mary makes it very clear that he his council is no longer welcome at her court. James tries to tell Mary that she has started something that could hurt her along the way.

The one thing Mary wants is to seal any breach with her cousin Queen Elizabeth I (Margot Robbie). Elizabeth is being told repeatedly by her advisor William Cecil (Guy Pearce) that Mary is a danger and only wants to take the throne. Trying to find a middle ground, Elizabeth suggests that Mary marry an Englishman and offers up her own lover Robert Dudley (Joe Alwyn). Mary has other plans and marries Lord Darnley (Jack Lowden).

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Realizing she may have made a mistake, the only way to solidify her position is by having a child before Elizabeth. When she has a son, it changes her feelings and she shares with Elizabeth asking her to be the child’s godmother. Elizabeth believes that this may just be the tie that binds the two women.

Mary is having a difficult time as well when Darnley has no problem showing his disregard for her position as Queen. When her own council tries to take the throne, Darnley is talked into being part of the conspiracy. Intrigue continues to plague Mary as the men around her lay claim, force marriages and don’t understand the fierceness of the Queen.

Seeing one last hope, Mary asks to meet with her sister-cousin Elizabeth in hopes to get support in fighting back those who would take the Scottish throne. Although Elizabeth feels for her cousin, it becomes clear to Mary that she may be at the end of her reign.

Two queens who want the same thing in different ways.

Ronan as Mary is remarkable but then again she is a remarkable actress. The first movie I ever saw her in was the intense and emotionally draining film ATONEMENT followed by the equally intense film THE LOVELY BONES. Since then nothing has stopped her from honing her craft in every way possible and with characters that have obviously taught her more and more about choosing roles and defining who she is as an actress. MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS is another example of why I will see every piece of filmmaking she is in – always. This is a character driven by a woman up against men who see her as a trophy to be one and then disguarded because she is, after all, only a woman. Well done Ronan, well done!

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Robbie as Elizabeth doesn’t hesitate to put every little bit of her Queen out there – from her lovers, illness and inability to be told who to marry and what children to have. Robbie presents a strong force of a woman that shows moments of private struggle but when push comes to shove Robbie helps Elizabeth straightens her spine and her crown. The scene between the two queens is one of the most poignant and double-edged I have seen in a while on film.

McArdle as James is clearly a man who has been led by the nose at the hands of the council and happily so until Mary comes back. Then his little hurt feelings are put out for all to see and he wants justice for it all. McArdle is an actor on a mission and playing the role of a spurned brother isn’t easy. Lowden as Lord Darnley is just another man in Mary’s life that believes he is owed something at the cost of everything else. Tennant as Knox is a religious zealot who barks a good game hoping others will do the fighting for him.

Pearce as Cecil is a part of the pack on the other side of the pond who wants what he wants and thinks whispering in Elizabeth’s ear means he will get it. Alwyn as Dudley is a man who love Elizabeth the woman but takes orders from Elizabeth the Queen. Not easy being told to go be your enemy’s husband and Dudley is only saved by Mary’s hot headedness.

Other cast include Gemma Chan as Elizabeth Hardwick, Brendan Coyle as Matthew Stewart, Ian Hart as Lord Maitland, Adrian Lester as Lord Randolph, Maria-Victoria Dragus as Mary Fleming, Alex Beckett as Walter Mildmay, Ismael Cordova as David Rizzio and Simon Russell as Robert Beale.

MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS is a film about two women in a man’s era fighting for their crowns. They should never have had to make that choice between the two of them but with so many men whispering in their ears, I don’t know how they lasted as long as they did with each other.

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Mary clearly didn’t know what Elizabeth did and that is you practically have to give up being a woman to hold onto the throne. Clearly having more time to learn that lesson than Mary, Elizabeth wanted to embrace their sisterhood-of-crowns but hard headedness got in both of their ways.

The film is beautifully done and the costuming is breathtaking. I have a weakness for period piece films and when they are done as well as MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS, well I can’t help but find no fault in it.

There have been other films that have touched on the relationship between Mary and Elizabeth, and even a television show called Reign that gave viewers a glimpse of her life in France. MARY, QUEEN OF SCOTS is a look at what happened once she left France and before the infamous and shocking red dress. From a young woman married to a French king to becoming a widow and returning queen of her own country – there is nothing about her life that is easy or without intrigue and betrayal.

In the end – bow to no one!

A SIMPLE FAVOR Challenges Friendship

a simple favor

Jeri Jacquin

This Friday in theatres from director Paul Feig and Lionsgate comes a film based on the Darcey Bell novel asking for A SIMPLE FAVOR.

Stephanie Smothers (Anna Kendrick) is a single Mom who passes her days raising a young son Miles (Joshua Satine), being the crafty-type and a vlogger. While at a school celebration, Stephanie meets Miles friend Nicky (Ian Ho) and they both want a play date. Of course it’s all up to Nicky’s Mom Emily (Blake Lively).

Stephanie introduces herself to Emily and is a bit nervous realizing she is an outgoing and verbally free woman. Agreeing to a play date, Emily introduces Stephanie to a martini and the two become acquainted. Spending time together occasionally becomes something Stephanie looks forward to.

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She also meets Emily’s husband Sean (Henry Golding) who is a writer and teaches at the local college. Seeing that the couple is really into each other, Stephanie comes to like them both very much. One day Emily calls and asks Stephanie to please watch son Nicky as Sean had to go take care of his injured mother and she is stuck with a business crisis.

That’s when a mystery begins as days go by and Emily is no where to be found. Sean returns home and joins in the search to find his wife. Stephanie uses her vlog to keep visitors up to date on the search. After the worst news possible happens, Stephanie and Sean find themselves trying to deal with it all.

As the police have their questions, Stephanie also has hers. It starts out with simple things that she notices but each day it becomes clear that something is not only wrong but that nothing is what it has seemed about Emily.

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Vlogger and DIY Mom goes into super sleuth mode to discover who Emily truly is, what does Sean know and will she have enough time to make her famous meatless meatballs for the next school function?

Stay tuned!

Kendrick as Stephanie pours it on as a woman with her own secrets who wraps them up in neat little cookie bundles. Volunteering and organizing everything around her, it doesn’t take long before Emily’s influence starts to her loosen up. Taking kindness for weakness, Kendrick gives Stephanie the kind of empowerment that can move mountains. I loved Kendrick in this role with her quirkiness mixed with a nervousness that sets of the hidden firecracker that her character is.

Lively as Emily is gorgeous, smart, wears it well and can spin a yarn with a straight face like no other. I loved every minute she was on screen just making every move look so damn easy. Even when her character was lying I didn’t know if she was lying even when I was 98% sure she was lying. The ride her character provides is fast, fun, crazy and filled with twists and surprises. Emily has a magazine rack full of issues and she’s not about to lay them out for the world to use against her. The match between Emily and Stephanie is definitely perfection.

Golding as husband Sean is a writer/teacher who fell hard for the lovely Emily. From the beginning of their relationship he knew there was something different but learned not to ask questions. Golding gives the role a bit of charm and innocent sexy all the way to the very end. He can also be seen in the hit film CRAZY RICH ASIANS and trust when I say he is an actor to keep watching for.

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Other cast include Dustin Milligan as Chris, Danielle Bourgon as Grace, Gia Sandhu as Valerie, Glenda Braganza as Mrs. Glenda, Kelly McCormack as Stacy, Andrew Rannells as Darren, Andrew Moodie as Sgt. Molloy, Rupert Friend as Dennis Nylon and Jean Smart as Mrs. McLanden.

A SIMPLE FAVOR is a mixture of fun, twists, jaw drops, hints, laughs, mystery, deception, friendship, love, illusion and so much more. The film moves along at a good pace and then the script is flipped half way through and the brake stick on the roller coaster is broken off!

Lively and Kendrick are magic together on the screen and I loved every minute of it. This is a film that is loaded from beginning to end and brought people at the screening together to talk about it after. Conversations spoke about the performances being some of the best seen in a while and how the story kept them off guard through out most of the film.

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For me there were a few things that I figured out but it didn’t stop me at all from enjoying the film. In fact, even though I may have figured this and that out, I didn’t expect the constant twists and turns! That is all due to Kendrick, Lively and Golding who kept me engrossed in their characters.

In the end – it all started with a simple favor!

 

HBO’s MOSAIC Brings Murder and Mystery to Bluray

 

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Jeri Jacquin

Now on Bluray and DVD from HBO Home Entertainment and director Steven Soderbergh is a story that could go as many ways as a MOSAIC.

Olivia Lake (Sharon Stone) is a famous author who is living on some of the most beautiful land in the United States. Watching this grand lady is Joel Hurley (Garrett Hedlund) who finds himself in a conversation about his own creativity. Interested in the young man, all too quickly Joel takes up residence on Olivia’s property in exchange for work that needs doing.

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Hoping for a connection of some kind, Olivia is surprised to discover that Joel already has Laura (Maya Kazan) and isn’t happy about it at all. Entering her life is Eric Neill (Frederick Weller) and Olivia finds herself hopelessly in love. She even turns to friend JC Schiffer (Paul Reubens) to share her feelings.

Everything is about to shift when after a night of sending Joel on his way and learning that Eric isn’t everything she thought – something horrendous has happened to Olivia. Enter Nate Henry (Devin Ratray), a mild mannered local cop who finds it his mission to discover what has happened to her, why and who is responsible.

Eric now has his feet to the fire when it is discovered that how he met Olivia and what his plans truly were put him on trial for murder and he is sent to prison. Four years go by and  Eric’s sister Petra (Jennifer Ferrin) begins an investigation of her own knowing that her brother, for all his faults, is not responsible for what happened to Olivia.

Seeking out Joel, they return to the scene of the crime literally and begin to piece it all together slowly with the help of Nate Henry. Joel also discovers what it is he has been hiding for years. Petra finds there is so much that was missed and secrets that have been busting at the seams to be known – and even Olivia has something to say about it all.

Murder is very, very patient for secrets to be revealed!

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Stone as Lake comes out of the gate kicking in this role. She is strong, vulnerable, opinionated, and would rather hurt others before they have a chance to hurt her. Finding that her fabulous life is lonely, she is always on the look out for someone to keep her from feeling anything but happiness. Stone saunters in as only she can and fights to the very end.

Hedlund as Joel has serious issues! Hoping that Olivia can help him with his creative dreams, he also has a drinking problem that causes him serious blackouts. Leaving for some time to get his life back on track, his return back to the town where everything happened brings him far more than he could have realized. Hedlund has the unique ability to be vulnerable without anyone seeing it and shaking on the inside without any of it showing on the outside. Well done!

Weller as Eric is a man who is on a mission, a paid mission that is. Sent to swindle Olivia, he finds that he actually cares for her. When the man cutting the checks threatens to expose him, Eric knows he has to do what’s right by Olivia and find a way to make things right.

Ferrin as Petra should have been a detective from the start. She has an instinct and follows every lead no matter where it leads. Believing her brother is innocent, Petra wants to make sure no stone is left unturned and knows that every story has a deeper meaning.

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Ratray as Nate Henry is absolutely brilliant in this role. He is a very outwardly easy going law enforcement officer who just wants to know what happened to Olivia. When he isn’t dealing with other officials who are on power trips getting in his way, he slowly begins to understand that the original case was a hot mess and he isn’t taking any chances when it case comes up again.

Shout out to Reubens as JC – anytime I see him on the screen I’m thrilled.

Other cast include: Beau Bridges as Alan Paper, James Ransone as Michael O’Connor, Jeremy Bobb as Frank Scott, Zandy Hartig as Melissa Henry, Michael Cerveris as Tom Davis, and Bridey Elliot as Tia.

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

The Bluray includes a Digital Copy to watch anywhere or instantly stream on television, computer, Tablet or Smartphone. The Bonus Feature includes Heart of Homicide: Big Murder in a Small Town.

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MOSAIC is an absolutely twisted limited six-part mini-series that isn’t going to let you rest for one moment. The characters are each important to the story and what leads them to the finale is something to see. Stone leads the way, Hedlund keeps us paranoid and officer Nate takes us in to a place we never see coming.

That’s what makes MOSAIC so intense, because in each episode there are so many secrets and deceptions to the point of feeling crazy. The cast is exceptional and without that the story could have easily fallen but what each of them did was make me want to know more until I had to pick up my jaw on the very last frame.

In the end – it’s murder in a small town!

Get your Dino Fix with JURASSIC WORLD: Fallen Kingdom

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Jeri Jacquin

In theatres from director J.A. Bayona and Universal Pictures is the next chapter in the world of dinosaur’s with JURASSIC WORLD: Fallen Kingdom.

After the 2015 disaster of the dinosaur park, a new disaster is on the horizon. The island’s volcano is about to destroy what is left of any living creature. A committee in the U.S. debates whether to help them or let the volcano handle it is being watched by Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard).

She receives a telephone call from Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell) who wants to help. Working for Lockwood is Eli Mills (Rafe Spall) who explains that they have another island for the animals to go to where they will be safe. The problem is locating them all and they need Claire’s help.

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The location system on the island is shut down and Mills needs her to go back and start it up as well as find Blue. Claire knows there is only one person that can help with that part of the trip – Owen Grady (Chris Pratt). Finding him is easy but convincing him to come help Blue is trickier.

Loading up for the trip, Claire takes computer wizard Franklin (Justice Smith) and dino-vet Zia Rodriguez (Daniella Pineda). Also with them is back up Ken Wheatley (Ted Levine) and his band of gun toting men. Owen realizes he needs to help and off they go to the island.

It doesn’t take long before the group realizes they’ve been duped and Blue gets hurt. Wheatley only used the group to get their hands on Blue leaving them for dead. It becomes clear that Mills is actually only interested in selling the animals to the highest bidder. It is Lockwood’s granddaughter Maisie (Isabella Sermon) who catches on and tries to alert her grandfather.

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Owen and Claire make their way to the caravan to discover that Mills is not only responsible for everything that is happening, but that underneath the Lockwood mansion lies another world that is about to be torn apart by something new and far more dangerous.

Because once again the dinosaurs prove life will find a way!

Pratt as Grady jumps in once again because who can resist a lovely raptor creature named Blue. Of course he isn’t about to let Claire go into the fray alone and it doesn’t take long before he is running through an island for his very life. From start to finish Pratt is go-go-go and trying to put a stop to those who seemed destined to bring destruction – and I don’t mean the islands previous inhabitants.

Howard as Claire wants to save the dinosaurs so badly that she’ll take any opportunity to get help. Believing in Lockwood’s plan, she is also back to the island were running is a foregone conclusion – only this time she isn’t wearing heels! After she and Owen find out where Mills has taken the creatures, she eventually will have to make a decision about their fate.

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Smith as Webb is clearly not happy with visiting an island full of creatures that want to eat him but he hangs in for the long haul. Pineda as Zia is the reason we still have Blue on our side! Spall as Mills is a total douche bag and I didn’t need five minutes to figure that out. Once again it seems that the millionaires put their bucks and trust into the wrong people.

Jones as Eversol gets what he deserves and so does Levine as Wheatley – I mean seriously guys, you can’t crack a whip at a creature with large teeth and not expect something bad to happen right? Wong as Dr. Wu makes an appearance and I still can’t stand him – Dr. Wu that is.

Much love to Geraldine Chaplin as Iris because she is a woman I’ve absolutely adored since seeing her face in the 1965 brilliant film DR. ZHIVAGO. She always brings a gentle nature and in this film it returns with beauty.

Of course I can not let another line go by without saying how thrilled I am that Jeff Goldblum, the man, the myth, the Jurassic Park legend came back to give us a little more of Ian Malcolm.

Other cast includes Toby Jones as Mr. Eversol, BD Wong as Dr. Wu, Peter Jason as Senator Sherwood, the lovely Geraldine Chaplin as Iris and the incomparable Jeff Goldblum as Ian Malcolm.

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JURASSIC WORLD: Fallen Kingdom is furious, a tad predictable, full of dinosaurs of all shapes and sizes, bad men coming out of the woodwork and a few surprises. I think we can let the dinosaur’s rest for a bit while Maisie grows up to take over the sprint to catch those that got away.

Everyone in the theatre had a good time and were very vocal during the film with ‘oh no!’, ‘did you see that?’, ‘oh my gawd’, ‘whoa!’ and other words not meant for print. That’s what makes the JURASSIC PARK films so much fun in a theatre – it is a collective experience for dinosaur lovers everywhere. I mean come on, you have to admit that we actually root for them to get their pound or two of man-flesh!

The film is what summer blockbusters are all about and JURASSIC WORLD: Fallen Kingdom is just that in every sense of the word. So gather up the family (might want to let the smaller kids hang out with grandma and grandpa for this one) and prepare for the next chapter in the Jurassic saga.

In the end – the park is gone!

GAME OF THRONES: Season 1 is Stunning on 4K This Summer!

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Jeri Jacquin

This summer is going to be scorching and with the help of battles and dragons, HBO Home Entertainment is adding to the heat by returning us all to the beginning with GAME OF THRONES: Season One.

The story begins with the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros but more importantly those who rule the Seven Kingdoms. Castle Winterfell and the Warden of the North is led by Eddard Ned Stark (Sean Bean). At King’s Landing, Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy) and wife Queen Cersei (Lena Headey) are making a marriage pact between the two friends and their kids Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) and Sansa (Sophie Turner).

In Essos, Prince Viserys Targaryen (Harry Lloyd) has no problem sending his sister Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) off to marry the leader of the Dothraki Khal Drogo (Jason Momoa). Viserys wants Drogo’s army to help him claim the Iron Throne of Westeros. The intrigue only deepens when Stark’s son Bran (Isaac Wright) sees something between Cersei and her brother Jamie Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau).

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Stark’s wife Catelyn (Michelle Fairley) believes the Lannister’s are behind the injury to her son and tries to convince her husband. Jon Snow (Kit Harington) becomes part of the Night’s Watch to protect the wall between the Kingdoms and the creatures known as the White Walkers that live on the other side.

Learning that Westeros isn’t really being managed, Stark becomes a member of the King’s Small Council but is suspicious of a man from Catelyn’s past. Councillor Baelish (Aidan Gillen) is a schemer who knows everything about everyone and that is a dangerous thing. A danger of another kind is Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage), a man who does what he wants knowing what the family thinks of him.

Daenery’s is adjusting to life as part of the Drogo clan and finds that she is quite happy learning the ways of her new people. What she doesn’t know is that a plan is being put into motion that is going to cause a rift in the Houses. Stark learns alarming information about the family he is loyal too but can not find reason to continue with plans that he doesn’t agree with.

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King Robert wants Ned as the Hand of the King while off on a hunting trip. Tyrion is in the Vale and Lysa (Kate Dickie), Catelyn’s sister, wants a duel and sends her champion while Tyrion calls out for one of his own. Drogo has had enough of his wife’s brother and when Viserys pushes things to far, the leader shows what the Dothraki are made of.

When Robert is injured, Ned is given the higher rank of Protector of the Realm and when he tries to do as the King wishes; the entire throne room turns on him. The family begins to scatter as Arya (Maisie Williams) runs, Sansa is captured and Bran escapes Winterfell. Joffrey takes the throne and his grandfather Tywin (Charles Dance) becomes the Hand of the King.

After making their way to the Twins castle and making an agreement for a marriage between Robb Stark and, they capture Jamie Lannister. Robb becomes the King of the North, Ayra manages to escape with the help of Yoren, Sansa is to become Joffrey’s Queen and Daenerys becomes the epic Mother of Dragons!

It is only the beginning of the battle for the Iron Throne!

Of course it is the amazing writing of the story’s author that gives GAME OF THRONES its amazing complexity but it is also the cast is what has made this show hugely successful. This series has shown from the very beginning that no one, no matter how popular the character, is beyond the reach of the sword.

The treachery, honor, deceit, underhandedness, loyalty, lies and changing of power is what GAME OF THRONES brings to fans. Every season is a new twist, a new shock and more information that has caused jaws to drop everywhere. Fans of the series are loyal to a fault and know that is a character has displeased them then just wait because it all comes out in the bloody wash.

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Sean Bean as Ned Stark became the standard of what a true leader should look like, we all followed his family and the struggles every episode. The intensity and the plots became thicker and thicker and there isn’t a person I hang out with that doesn’t look forward to every season because of the set up of Season One.

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

The HD Bonus Features of GAME OF THRONES: Season One include Animated Histories: Learn about the Mythology of Westeros as Told from the Varying Perspectives of the Characters Themselves, Anatomy of an Episode; an In-Episode Experience that Explores the Creative Minds and Colossal Efforts Behind Episode Six ‘A Golden Crown’, Cast Auditions: Watch Rarely-Seen Footage of the Cast Auditioning for GAME OF THRONES, Making of Game of Thrones – An Exclusive 30-minute Feature Including Never-Before-Seen Footage from the Set and Interviews from the Cast and Crew.

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 Also, Character Profiles – Profiles of 15 Major Characters as Described by the Actors Portraying Them, Creating the Show Open – An Inside Look at the Creation of the Emmy-Winning Opening Title Sequence for GAME OF THRONES, From the Book to Screen – Executive Producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss along with author George R.R. Martin Talk about the Challenges of Bringing Martin’s Epic Fantasy Novel to Life on HBO.

The Night’s Watch – An In-Depth look at the Unique Order of Men Who Patrol and Protect the Wall, a 700 Foot Ice Structure that Separates the Seven Kingdoms from the Darkness Beyond, Creating the Dothraki Language – An Insightful Glance into the Comprehensive Language Created for the Dothraki people in GAME OF THRONES, Audio Commentaries – Seven Audio Commentaries with Cast and Crew and Digital Download Code for the Ten-Episode Season in HD.

The highly successful HBO series is based on A Game of Thrones which is a series of books written by George R.R. Martin. The first novel A Song of Ice and Fire was published in 1996 when Martin moved away from short stories and script writing. The entire book series is intended to be a seven volume series with the final book Fire and Book released earlier this year.

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GAME OF THRONES continues to be the most successful franchise in HBO history with the most awarded drama series with 38 Emmy’s to date!

From the first episode I was hooked, there wasn’t a single thing that didn’t appeal to me about this amazing show. What brought me in quickly, besides the cast, was the stunning costuming, set designs and how all of it brought me in and kept me there. That’s what makes an amazing series and gives us all a chance to escape into a realm where it is all about a game of thrones!

In the end – the battle for the Iron Throne has just begun.

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