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

 

stolen daughters

Jeri Jacquin

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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THE GIFTED: The Complete First Season Has Mutants on the Run on DVD

the gifted cover

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to DVD from creator Matt Nix and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment is the new series that is ready to take us on the run with THE GIFTED: The Complete First Season.

Reed Strucker (Stephen Moyer) is a Sentinel Service Agent in Atlanta, Georgia who has a family including wife Caitlin (Amy Acker), daughter Lauren (Natalie Lind) and son Andy (Percy Hynes). Reed’s job is to prosecute mutants for different offenses and he takes his job serious. That’s all about to change when he discovers that Lauren and Andy are mutants themselves!

Now the Sentinel Services is after the family who is on the run and find a mutant underground that tries to protect mutants. Trying to get away proves to be difficult as Reed is captured by police along with Lorna Dane aka Polaris (Emma Dumont). Polaris is put in a cell and Reed is being questioned by SS officer Coby Bell (Jace Turner).

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The other mutants are dealing with problems of their own when Clarice aka Blink (Jamie Chung) loses consciousness and her abilities put the others in danger. Lauren tries to help with her powers while Caitlin tries to find medication that will help. The police are surrounding them when John aka Thunderbird (Blair Redford), Sage (Hayley Lovitt), Ed (Joe Nemmers), Fade (Jeff Phillips), and Shatter (Jermaine Rivers) try to stop an attack by the police.

Turner tries to use all the interrogation methods that Reed used in his work as well but it isn’t working. Doing anything to get what he wants, Turner uses Reed’s mother Ellen (Sharon Gless) as a scare tactic and then puts Polaris and Reed together in a cell. Caitlin decides to find her brother for help in getting Reed released.

Marcos aka Eclipse (Sean Teale) finds himself back in his old neighborhood as Carmen Guerra (Michelle Veintimilla) demands that he work for her anytime she calls. A bit of information that Marcos keeps from John when he returns to the group. Roderick Campbell (Garret Dillahunt) is a scientist who is showing a keep interest in Lauren and Andy Strucker. He asks for help from Turner who seems to have no interest.

Reed and Polaris are being moved to a military instillation called the SS Relocation Center but the mutants have other plans. Marcos received information about the route the convoy is taking as Lauren and Andy finally use their powers to rescue their father. That doesn’t last as a surprise mutant, Pulse (Zach Roerig) is found to be working with the SS by disrupting their powers.

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After the rescue, a new mutant, Esme (Skyler Samuels) joins the group. She knows that other mutants have been taken to Trask Industries and given a drug called Kick. Reed knows that his father Otto (Raymond J. Barry) worked for Trask years before but is disturbed to learn that being a mutant is in the family. Otto worked to suppress the mutant gene and used his son to stop abilities. The SS aren’t far behind and Reed, along with Thunderbird, see his father in action.

Reed tells Caitlin what he learned about his family and test what happens when Andy and Lauren are put together power-wise. Esme needs the group to rescue her own family and uses her powers to get Clarice, Dreamer (Elena Satine) and the Strucker’s to help to get into Trask. Polaris, Eclipse, Thunderbird and Esme attack Trask and Turner get their before the mutants. Now, Reed sees his own children in Turner’s hands.

Polaris is angry and wants to go after Sentinel Services. Esme believes the parents should go to Turner and talk before acting out with the mutants but she really has other plans for her sister Phoebe and Sophie Frost. Telling the group what the Strucker’s plan to do, the others want to attack once again. Turner decides to ask Trask to return all the mutants to the SS.

Reed and Caitlin want to go to Mexico but something is keeping them constantly at bay from that. First, Esme and her sisters want to top the Hound program but in doing so it means bringing back the Hellfire Club. Polaris knows a little something about that as well but she is more concerned with Marcos and her own family. Turner isn’t about to stop tracking the group and the Frost sisters are playing both ends against the middle.

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Going to a safe house, Polaris, Eclipse, Thunderbird and Clarice learn that the truth about the X-Men and the Hellfire Club. Campbell meets with Senator Montez (David Norona) who is more than happy to expand the Hound program. Reed goes to his mother and tells her that she must go into hiding or the SS would continue to come after her. Ellen tells them of Madeline Risman who can help them more with Otto’s research.

Going to Washington, Campbell and Montez are in danger as the Frost sisters are once again using the other mutants to do what they want. The Strucker’s are tracked down by Turner and it’s only the combined powers of Lauren and Andy that help them escape. In Tennessee, they are introduced to the Hellfire Club.

Moyer as Reed is a man who believed that doing his job with the SS was the right thing. Wanting to make the world safe from mutants who were causing trouble, his tune changed quickly when he learns his own children have been keeping a secret. Moyer slides into this role with ease and picks up every nuance of his character quickly.

Acker as Caitlin finds herself doing triple duty as wife, mother and doctor to the mutants who are injured during the chases and attacks. Not having much time to understand that she didn’t know about her kid’s powers, she isn’t given much more time to embrace it thrown into the world of chaos. Acker is the emotional stabilizer between the mutants and her family when their loyalty comes into question.

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Lind as Lauren is a strong teen who knows that once her secret is out, she must do everything possible to be of help to those like her rather than a burden. Hynes as Andy is a young man who is still learning about his powers and what damage they can do. Both of these characters are also on the right side of the mutant fight and have to grow up quicker than they ever thought possible.

Bell as Turner is running his SS duties mostly out of loss and anger. He will come to understand that his superiors don’t care about either of those things. Dillahunt as Roderick also has his own agenda that is going to be tested again and again.

Redford as John Proudstar is one of the strong mutants who knows that they must stop what is happening to mutants. He is a fierce leader and wants his friends to stay safe but it isn’t easy. Teale as Marcos is keeping his own secret but will do anything to keep his love Polaris away from the SS. Dumont as Polaris is a girl who isn’t afraid to state her opinion and show that her abilities aren’t to be trifled with.

Chung as Clarice has a problem, although Dream had good intentions, she is seeing something with John that isn’t real and didn’t happen. Satine as Dreamer will have to deal with her good intentions when confronted by Clarice. Trying to fix this friendship may take a bit of time and forgiveness.

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Other cast include Dinarte de Freitas as Pedro, Angela Oh as Sarah, Josh Henry as Ben, Gino Vento as Juan, Ray Campbell as William, Jessica Goei as Naya, Danny Ramirez as Wes and Frances Turner as Paula Turner.

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.

The 3-disc DVD includes the 11 episodes eXposed, rX, eXodus, eXit strategy, boxed in, got your siX, eXtreme measures, threat of eXtinction, outfoX, eXploited, 3 X 1, eXtraction, and X-roads.

 One of the very cool things about THE GIFTED is that you don’t have to be knee deep in mutant history to jump on this bandwagon. The story starts out strong enough that it is easy to not only catch on quickly but fall under THE GIFTED’s mutant spell.

The cast comes together and brings us the story of mutants and those who want them gone. From the unexpected places come friends but from the same unexpected places comes those with their own agenda. That is what this cast does, tries to put all the pieces to the puzzle together and do it so well.

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Through the years I have come to know some of the stories about the X-men and mutants and THE GIFTED is another chapter to that story. There is drama, action, twists and turns as well as an underlying story of being different and trying to survive in a world that clearly doesn’t want them in it.

Taking care of one another through hurt and struggle as they go through while trying to find their place in the world. Learning from one another about their strengths and weaknesses is what helps them bond together to stop anyone else from hurting them and finding their own loved ones.

In the end – family is the ultimate power!

WIZARD OF LIES Comes to Bluray from HBO

wizard cover

 

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to Bluray from director Barry Levinson and HBO Home Entertainment is an inside look at corruption and destruction with WIZARD OF LIES.

Bernie Madoff (Robert De Niro) had one of the biggest businesses on Wall Street. Known for being a wizard of making money, people from all walks of life put their life savings into investments. Along with sons Mark (Alessandro Nivola) and Andrew (Nathan Darrow), they were living the life of success.

That is until Bernie must tell his family that the FBI is investigating the business for fraud. This sets in motion a rush to see who will get the information needed or destroy the information first as the FBI raid the offices. Frank DiPascali (Hank Azaria) makes an effort to get to the 17th floor first!

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As the SEC begin their intense investigation, family, co-workers and investors begin to tell their story of how Bernie brought them all in to the business. Now called the worst Ponzi scheme in American history there is over $50 billion (yes, that billion with a ‘b’) in other people’s money gone.

Bernie doesn’t seem to understand the predicament he is in as wife Ruth (Michelle Pfeiffer) begins to see her family unravel. Mark and Andrew have all but stopped talking to their parents and brother Peter (Michael Kostroff) is make it clear to authorities that he knew nothing of what Bernie had been doing.

When the news catches wind of the story, every person who has ever invested with Madoff comes to the realization that their lives have been destroyed. Bernie and Ruth try to decide how to get free of it all in the most dramatic way possible and his sons are bombarded by the press with the allegation that they knew everything.

As the evidence mounts, there is only one thing Bernie Madoff can do, plead guilty and go to jail. Thinking that will stop everything from reaching his family, he couldn’t be more wrong as Ruth, Mark and Andrew continue to be affected by the lies Bernie told for almost twenty years.

This is the story of one man’s lies to the ruin of lives.

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De Niro as Bernie Madoff is amazing to the point where I forgot it was him behind the makeup. The fascinating part of his portrayal of this man is how Madoff can not seem to grasp what he had done. There are moments where I kept saying out loud ‘you’ve got to be kidding me man!’ when he would seem to play innocent. That’s what De Niro does for a character that had me so involved in the story what I’m yelling at a man playing the character of a man I’ll never meet. Frakken awesome!

Pfeiffer as Ruth is a woman who can not even imagine that a man she spent most of her life living with was capable of such a thing. Becoming comfortable in the life that Bernie provided, she can not wrap her head around how deep the affect might be. When it all comes down fast, Pfeiffer just brings on the sadness, sass and pain that came hard. Playing opposite De Niro, she is definitely an equal partner in making this story line work.

Nivola as Mark is a son who just wanted to be a part of his father’s business. Constantly told by his father that he isn’t ready, it all begins to make sense when the FBI steps in. The bigger problem is that Mark can not get past what his father did and the public fallout. It begins to become an obsession that is tragic.

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Darrow as Andrew knows the only way to get away from what his father has done is by totaling cutting his parents out. Keeping his family safe from the government and the public means doing what ever he must to set things as right as they can be.

Other cast include Kathrine Narducci as Eleanor Squillari, Steve Coulter as Martin London, David Lipman as Martin Flumenbaum, Kelly AuCoin as Agent Cacioppi, Amanda Warren as the SEC Investigator, Mark La Mura as Ike Sorkin, Kristen Connolly as Stephanie Madoff and Lily Rabe as Catherine Hooper.

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 WIZARD OF LIES Bluray includes the Bonus Features of In-Depth Interviews with stars Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer plus director Barry Levinson and author Diana B. Henriques. I highly suggest giving this extra a look-see!

WIZARD OF LIES is a compelling look at the story of Bernie Madoff with its twists and turns. The addition of the jail house interview with Diana B. Henriques who wrote Wizard of Lies: Bernard Madoff and the Death of Trust, adds such authenticity and draws the viewer in immediately. I have to say that I was so wrapped up in De Niro and Pfeiffer’s performances that I reacted strongly to the entire film.

Having a look inside the family there is honestly nothing that surprised me in their handling of the situation. How does a family deal with knowing that their lives and everything they believed they have worked for is all a lie? The man they trusted to lead them is a lie? I can not even imagine it.

The script written by Sam Levinson, who also wrote and directed ANOTHER HAPPY DAY, and directed by his father Barry Levinson is well done and shot beautifully. I would expect no less from the Levinson group.

In the end – only those you trust can truly betray you!

FEAR THE WALKING DEAD: Season One Special Edition Brings the Undead to Bluray

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Jeri Jacquin

On March 22nd, from AMC and Anchor Bay Entertainment along with creators Robert Kirkman and Dave Erickson comes the first season filled with more questions than answers with FEAR THE WALKING DEAD: The Complete First Season Special Edition.

In the city of Los Angeles, high school counselor Madison (Kim Dickens) and English teacher Travis (Cliff Curtis) are raising their families. Madison has her hands full with son Nick (Frank Dillane) who is dealing with drug addiction and daughter Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) who is just a mouthy teen who resents interference in her love life with boyfriend Matt (Maestro Harrell).

Travis still has dealings with ex-wife Liza (Elizabeth Rodriguez) and resentful son Christopher (Lorenzo Henrie). While all this is going on it isn’t surprising that no one really notices what is happening all around. People are becoming sick and it is spreading quickly.

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It all becomes real to Madison and Travis when, while with Nick, they see for themselves that the dead are rising. Not only are they rising, they are eating the living creating even more of the walking dead.

Deciding to leave town, the family begins to pack as Travis goes to get Liza and Christopher. What is happening on the streets quickly turns into a mob mentality.  Trying to save them from the crazed crowds, Travis talks Daniel Salazar (Ruben Blades) into letting them into the shop. Also in the shop is Daniels’ wife Griselda (Patricia Spindola) and daughter Ofelia (Mercedes Mason).

Once they are able, everyone goes back to Madison and Travis’ home. It is now too late to leave and they must wait as the military encloses neighborhoods looking for more of the undead.

What they are all soon to discover is that outside the fence is a monster of a different kind.

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Dickens as Madison is a mother who clearly needs to snap into reality, not just the reality of what is happening around her – but the reality that her son is a drug addict with Mom as an enabler. Spending more time dealing with Nick, Madison has a strained relationship with daughter Alicia. I have always enjoyed Dickens performances form HOUSE OF SAND AND FOG to GONE GIRL; this is an actress who stands out.

Curtis as Travis is a father who needs to get in touch with a son who isn’t happy with the divorce of his parents or interested in becoming part of a new family unit. Trying to be everything to everyone, Travis knows something is wrong but doesn’t know who to trust.

Blades as Daniel Salazar, to my way of thinking, is the straight forward no-nonsense character who tends to say exactly what he thinks. He sees exactly what is happening around all of them and doesn’t want to do anything but take care of his wife. Of course once she is taken away, he too knows something is wrong.

Dillane as Nick is a character that isn’t embraced happily. I say this hearing from my own readers they want to strangle themselves. Nick is a young man with serious problems who enables everyone around him. Let’s hope in season two things turn around! Debnam-Carey as Alicia is smart but tends to do what she wants and also enables her brother. Yep, a totally dysfunctional family in the modern world.

Henrie as Chris isn’t enjoying a second-family life but is observant to what is going on around him. Rodriguez as Liza is a nurse who wants to help at every turn of the epidemic and volunteers to help at a makeshift hospital for those who are sick. She also sees for herself what happens to the dead.

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AMC has brought itself to the forefront of cable television in the past few years. With such series as Mad Men, Hell on Wheels, and Breaking Bad, AMC has also blown television away with the series The Walking Dead and now, Fear the Walking Dead.

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

TUBS OF POPCORN: I give FEAR THE WALKING DEAD four tubs of popcorn out of five. Of course my heart (and probably brain) is stuck in what happened after the zombies take over the world so it took warming up to this first season. Once again the walkers are in the background of this family that can not escape their problems just because the dead want to eat them.

Having it set in Los Angeles puts all of the madness in the middle of a big city seeing how large groups of people react to it all. Fans have become use to deserted highways, broken down towns and small groups of people – FEAR THE WALKING DEAD puts havoc by the thousands front and center.

The Bluray has so much more detail to bring viewers into this “new” world of the dead as the story brings us to places we would never think walkers would dare to go. That’s the fantastic thing about these storylines – always expect the unexpected and even when you think you’re ready – you’re not!

The series still put human emotions front and center with Kirkman and Erickson making sure that nothing is left to chance. FEAR THE WALKING DEAD Season 2 will premier on AMC with 15 new episodes April 10th. Kirkman says, “We are going to see zombies unlike we’ve ever really seen before. All of this is something that is going to hit these characters really hard.”

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The FEAR THE WALKING DEAD: The Complete First Season Special Edition Bluray and Digital HD includes the Pilot Episode: The Widescreen Version, Deleted Scenes, Featurettes such as Inside “Fear the Walking Dead”, FEAR: The Beginning, Five Things You Need to Survive, Locations: LA & Vancouver, Quarantined, Stunts & Anarchy, The Faces of Fear: The Infected with Audio Commentaries for every episode with Dave Erickson, Adam Davidson, David Wiener and actors Kim Dickens, Alycia Debnam-Carey and Elizabeth Rodriguez.

There is hours of never-before-seen bonus features and deleted scenes which truly is the best part of adding FEAR THE WALKING DEAD to your home media library.

In the end – fear begins here!

 

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