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Jeri Jacquin

Two Hours in the Dark with JOHN WICK: Chapter Three – Parabellum! 

John Wick 3 cover

 

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres this Friday from director Chad Stahelski and Lionsgate Is the next installment on the journey of JOHN WICK: Chapter Three – Parabellum.

Wick (Keanu Reeves) is still on the run especially now since it has been declared that he is ‘excommunicado’ for killing a man at the Continental – major boo-boo. Basically it means that all the dogs are off their leashes with a W$14 million dollar bounty and no rest anytime soon for him.

Those he has relied on now tread carefully because the Table has sent The Adjudicator (Asia Kate Dillon) to punish anyone who has helped Wick to this point. Her first task is to sentence Winston (Ian McShane), Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne) and The Director (Angelica Huston).

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Wick knows he has only one chance, to find The Elder (Said Taghmaoul) to ask how he can make this all stop. The one person who can make the meeting happen is Sophia (Halle Berry) who isn’t actually thrilled to see him at the door. Watching his every move is Zero (Mark Dacascos), an assassin who is quick and deadly.

Making a deal with the devil, as it were, Wick returns to The Continental where an all out war is declared.

Reeves as Wick has most definitely made sure no one else could possible take his place. He is still broody, still soft spoken and can still give a killer glare that gives nothing away. Oh, and one more thing, he can still make my heart flip-flop in that funny exciting way. What he also does is bring sympathy to a character we should all probably be afraid of!

McShane returns as Winston, the manager of The Continental who has a flare for words, for the finer things in life and has an elegant way of letting who ever know that he is going no where. His affinity for Wick is obvious but there is also a sneakiness about him that makes me give him side eye constantly. Well done!

Berry as Sophia has a history with Wick that is filled with a little rage yet she has no problem wielding a gun when wrong comes her way. Reddick as Charon keeps his concierge desk refined and run like a well oiled machine. I just love his calm demeanor, even when bullets are flying past his face.

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Fishburne as the Bowery King is a rougher version of Winston running his bowery as he sees fit. He regrets nothing and is always looking at the bigger picture – that is his saving grace. Fishburne still has it and Wick should be glad he does.

Huston as The Director knows that even though there is an excommunicado order, there is one thing higher than that even if The Table doesn’t want to acknowledge it. I just love when Huston plays roles like this because she is a tough broad and I love it.

Dacascos as Zero, aka the Iron Chef Chairman, is fantastic! From the moment his character hits the screen to the very last frame he brings martial arts and twisted humor to the film. Taghmaoul as The Elder brings his own brand of justice and a plan for Wick to stop all the madness.

A serious shout out to Dillion as The Adjudicator and let me tell you why. I have NEVER heard outcries throughout a film when one character shows up on a screen. I’ll admit I was one of them yelling at the screen toward this cold hearted character who felt she was above everything and untouchable. When a room full of people react the same way to a character then listen because 1,000 people can’t be wrong!

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Thumbs up to Yayan Ruhian as Mad Dog, Cecep Arif Rahman as The Assassin and Man of Tai Chi as Tiger Hu Chen for taking on the Baba Yaga with admiration and humor and, of course, sweeping martial arts moves and guts for taking on the boogeyman!

Other cast include Jerome Flynn as Berrada, Randall Duk Kim as Doctor, Margaret Daley as Operator, Tobias Segal as Earl, Obin Lord Taylor as Administrator, Susan Blommaert as Librarian, Jason Mantzoukas as Tick Tock Man, Sergio Delavicci as Ruska Roma, and Boban Marjanovic as Ernest.

Lets be honest here, anyone who loves the JOHN WICK franchise won’t need me to say anything to convince them to see the film. But let’s pretend there are those who haven’t seen any of the films or even know who John Wick is, wait, what?

Sorry, had to shake off that thought because seriously it is almost incomprehensible to the Keanu Reeves warm and fuzzy side of my brain. Moving onward!

From the first five seconds of the film until the last five seconds of the film I think blinking didn’t much happen for me. There is little downtime and since John Wick doesn’t get any, then WE don’t get any either. This is a ride we take with him and the filmmaker made damn sure we are exhausted by the end – or are we?

Audience participation in films can go between being a good or irritating thing. Let me tell you in the case of JOHN WICK: Chapter Three-Parabellum it is almost an involuntary reflex. The gasps, the shock, the wicked (pardon the semi-pun) humor, the action, the story, the cinematography that are happening on screen create the shouting at the screen from the audience.

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During this screening I heard shouting, applause, cheering, guttural reactions of groaning, hostility, actual hissing and a theatre full of people rooting for a different kind of super-hero. I can not even count how many times The Adjudicator was a target of audience wanna-be verbal assassins. People in front of me were jumping, the gentleman beside me was constantly fist pumping with a ‘yesssssssssssss’ and comments behind me ranged from ‘they don’t know who they’re dealing with’ to ‘ouch – that’s gonna leave a mark’.

We were in unison with cheering, applause and groans which makes JOHN WICK: Chapter 3 – Parabellum a group experience. This is the reason we go to the movies (at least a lot of us anyway), to be transported, entertained and walk out of the theatre alive and full of conversation that is going to last for days.

Personally, I was completely exhausted not even realizing how much this film was slowly draining me. Yes, yes, I realize it is Reeves and the cast who worked their collective asses off to bring the story to the screen so let it be known that they drained every bit of everything out of this viewer.

That being said it should also be stated that I may be personally exhausted but after spending two glorious hours in the dark with John Wick aka Keanu Reeves, I’d gladly do it again, and again….and again.

In the end – if you want peace then prepare for war!

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TRIAL BY FIRE Questions Guilt

 

trial by fire cover

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres from director Edward Zwick and Flashlight Films comes the story of the secrets and lies with TRIAL BY FIRE.

It is 1992 and Todd Willingham (Jack O’Connell) is in a complicated and jealousy driven relationship with wife Stacy (Emily Meade). One morning after leaving for work, Todd wakes up to his children calling him. He notices immediately that the house is filled with smoke.

Trying to get to them he becomes overwhelmed with smoke. Running outside, Todd breaks windows still trying to reach his children but the fire causes an explosion.

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Dealing with the death of their three children, Todd and Stacy are pulled over after the funeral to have him arrested for murder. The town’s law enforcement have investigated the fire and come to the conclusion that Todd intentionally killed the children.

After a quick trial filled with testimony that is anger filled and no defense put in place for Todd, he is sentenced to the death penalty and sent to prison.

Elizabeth Gilbert (Laura Dern) is a writer raising two teenagers while taking care of an ex-husband. A friend tells her about writing to prisoners and Todd lands in her life. She learns he has been in prison for twelve years awaiting execution.

Visiting him in prison, she learns about who Todd was when the incident happened and how he is now. After getting a copy of the trial she realizes that everything about it was a travesty. Todd’s only other ‘regular’ relationship is prison guard Daniels (Chris Coy) who doesn’t want to befriend a prisoner but can’t seem to help himself.

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As Todd comes closer to execution, Elizabeth races to find help from those who also see the wrongs and try to make them right before it is too late.

O’Connell as Todd is a man with anger and jealousy issues in his marriage. The one thing that even his wife can agree with is that Todd loves his children. While in jail that is all he can think about while trying to figure out how he got behind bars. O’Connell gives a startling performance with moments of somber realizations that how he has lived his life has set the stage for those who want to see the execution go through.

Dern as Elizabeth is a woman dealing with so many things in her life of which none have to do with her. Reaching out to Todd and getting to know him starts a friendship that is based on the truths they both tell.

Meade as Stacy is a woman who doesn’t know how to do the right thing. Dealing with the death of her children she is constantly being pushed in all directions by family and law enforcement to agree with the verdict handed down to Todd.

Coy as Daniels tries from the moment Todd steps into the prison to dehumanize him. As the years go on, Daniels sees who this man really is and even finds himself enjoying Todd’s company. He, like Elizabeth, want someone to save a changed man.

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Other cast include: Jade Pettyjohn as Julie Gilbert, Jeff Perry as Hurst, Jason Douglas as John Jackson, Wayne Pere as George Gilbert, Katie McClellan as Margaret Hays, Blair Bomar as Sandy and Rhoda Griffis as Darlene.

TRIAL BY FIRE is not only the story of Todd Willingham but the story of Texas, law enforcement and even then governor Rick Perry. As each step progresses from the moment Todd is arrested to the films conclusion is aimed at added another notch to the execution belt of a state that seems to have the highest in the country.

No one in the town Todd is from all the way up the ladder seemed interested in whether the truth was told or not. That’s what I took away from the film the most – the lack of concern for the possibility that the law wasn’t followed.

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The cast constantly brings more and more questions to the forefront of the story as the film goes on which by the end had me totally and emotionally worn out.

Another aspect of the film is watching Todd grow as a person realizing the mistakes he made in his life. The one thing that didn’t change and perhaps actually grew was this man’s love of his children. The film explores his realizations and the truth behind the tragedy. Is he really innocent?

TRIAL BY FIRE is directed by Academy Award winner Edward Zwick and adapted by Academy Award winner Geoffrey Fletcher from David Grann’s article Trial by Fire found in The New Yorker.

In the end – stand up for what is right and for what is true!

 

His Story and Life Collide in TOLKIEN

TOLKIEN

 

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres this Friday from director Dome Karukoski and Fox Searchlight Pictures comes the story of stories told about the life of TOLKIEN.

The story begins with war as Private Sam Hodges (Craig Roberts) finds a very ill Tolkien and makes it his mission to help him survive. Out in the field as bombs rage and gas explodes, he once again sees how his life began and led him to the field of inhumanity.

J.R.R. Tolkien (Nicholas Hoult) was a young man living with his mother and brother in a small English house in the middle of vast fields. One day Father Francis (Colm Meaney) helps the family move to the city to start again but it doesn’t last long as once again Father Francis moves Tolkien and his younger brother to the house of Mrs. Faulkner (Pam Ferris). Becoming their guardian, she starts with the boys’ education and Tolkien dives deeper into his drawings and writings.

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Eventual Mrs. Faulkner takes in Edith Bratt (Lily Collins) and Tolkien is quite taken with her. Continuing to be watched over by Father Francis, the young man is told that he can’t share his feelings about her and still go to university. He makes the sad choice to leave her and joins childhood friends Rob Gilson (Patrick Gibson), Geoffrey Smith (Anthony Boyle) and Christopher Wiseman (Tom Glynn-Carney), also known as the TCBS, to university.

As the group continues to meet, Tolkien is one step away from having to leave school when he discovers Professor Wright (Derek Jacobi). Sharing his story’s with the Professor, both men become thrilled at the possibilities of the story and language. Finally finding his place in school, the war breaks out and Tolkien is called up.

Before shipping out he once again sees Edith and he finds himself still smitten with the young girl. They have a chance to explain to one another the situation as it was then but their hearts never let go of one another only to be parted again by battle.

Tolkien fights to stay alive, fights to find his friends and without realizing it would soon take all the horrors of war and create one of the most iconic stories ever written.

Hoult as Tolkien takes on the monumental task of playing a character that became famous for his books and his name becomes world wide again when the films come to the screen. I will be honest, I wasn’t sure that justice could be done in the story telling of a writer who impacted my life so profoundly yet Hoult did so. The struggles of youth followed Tolkien and he could have ‘gone wrong’ as the sayings goes but instead he found a path that Hoult walks honorably.

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Collins as Edith is a young girl understanding Tolkien much more than anyone else (other than his brother). She pushes him to continue to write stories because she saw something magical about the world Tolkien creates. Collins gives her character strength, dignity and a forwardness not seen by women of Edith’s day. Meaney as Father Francis takes the role of father, protector and if that doesn’t work he uses good old fashioned guilt to ‘guide’ Tolkien’s life choices. I have to say I wasn’t happy with this character and that’s probably because I’m not much for emotional bullying which means Meaney did a fantastic job!

Gibson, Boyle and Glynn-Carney as Rob, Geoffrey and Christopher are three friends I’d love to have had growing up. Although they started out prickly, the story of each of these young men would impact Tolkien in ways they would never see coming. These four actors when on screen together are gripping and I enjoyed watching their friendship grow.

Now, as for Roberts as Private Sam Hodges, I have only one thing to say – stellar and well done young man, extremely well done. From beginning to end it was the life of Tolkien that was his mission and he took it so seriously that nothing would turn him from it. Sound like a story character you might know?

Other cast include Laura Donnelly as Mabel Tolkien, Guillermo Bedward as Hilary Tolkien, Nia Gwynne as Browen, Tony Nash as Mackintosh, Owen Teale as Headmaster Gilson, Lara Maguire as Rose, Holly Dempster as Beryl, Genevieve O’Reilly as Mrs. Smith and David Birkbeck as Porter.

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TOLKIEN is well done, beautifully put on screen and gives the viewer a deep look inside what it took for THE LORD OF THE RINGS to make it to the page. Watching the story unfold is like seeing how characters were born in his mind. I caught myself a few times pointing at things I saw on the screen with an inhale and then a smile. Okay, so being a raging Tolkien fan it was like being part of a mental treasure hunt.

The cast brings together with such intensity the moments in Tolkien’s life that he held on to for dear life. The story is raw and beautiful at the same time to the point where I didn’t want it to end. The good news is that sitting on my library shelf are the books and films which are a wonderful solace brought by a man who took what he experienced in his life and shared it in the most magnificent way with the world.

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In the end – a life of love, courage and fellowship!

POKEMON DETECTIVE PIKACHU Brings Laughs

Pokemon Cover

 

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres this Friday from director Rob Letterman and Warner Bros. Pictures is a little yellow fluff ball with a mind of his own known as POKEMON DETECTIVE PIKACHU.

Tim Goodman (Justice Smith) is a young man raised by his grandmother in a world of Pokémon’s and working at a life insurance company. All of that is about to change when he receives a telephone call from Lt. Hide Yoshida (Ken Watanabe) to inform him that his father Henry Goodman has died.

Meeting with Lt. Yoshida it is clear that Tim doesn’t want to hear about what happened asking for the keys to his father’s apartment. Arriving, Tim discovers that the room his father made for him remains exactly the same. Well, maybe not exactly the same as something is creeping around the room.

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Shining a light Tim discovers Detective Pikachu (Ryan Reynolds), his father’s Pokémon and that he understands him! That’s when a story pours out of the yellow eared creature saying there is something wrong with his memory. Believing that something is amiss, Tim tells Pikachu about a vile of blue liquid that makes other Pokémon’s a little nut.

Wanting answers, Tim finds himself caught up in Pikachu’s investigation which leads them to Howard Clifford (Bill Nighy) who also believes that Tim’s father is still alive. Clifford also believes his son Roger (Chris Geere) has something to do with what is happening.

Wanna-be reporter Lucy Stevens (Kathryn Newton) steps in and wants to help because she believes there is a story in all of this. At a secret lab Tim, Pikachu and Lucy discover that this is more frightening than they could have imagined. Someone is trying to let loose a chemical that will change everything. Who is who will surprise them all.

That doesn’t mean Pikachu, Tim and Lucy aren’t going to go without a fight!

Smith as Tim is a young man who isn’t too thrilled with his life. He has a thing against Pokémon’s so discovering he has to work with Pikachu to get answers doesn’t exactly thrill him. As the story of his father unfolds, Tim finds himself more and more curious about the true story. Smith is moody and definitely needs Pikachu’s comic relief.

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Newton as Lucy is on the ball, has a nose for news and doesn’t grasp the concept of the word ‘no’. She isn’t about to let a story like Tim’s go without investigating and she certainly gives it her all. Newton is spunky and funny in a quirky way. Watanabe as Yoshida has a small role but I’ll take any screen time he can get!

Nighy as Clifford is an inventor who believes Tim’s father isn’t gone but just missing. Wanting to help in any way he can also means keeping his son at bay. Geere as Clifford seems to be the bad guy in this scenario with his creepy smile and ability to take out anyone that gets in his way.

Now, let’s talk about Reynolds even though we really don’t need to as far as I’m concerned. Yes, his wit and timing are absolutely astounding and yes I love him as Deadpool which means I wasn’t certain how I’d feel about him taking on Pikachu. It was a fleeting thought because as Pikachu he gets to once again be silly and the audience loved every minute of it. That basically means Reynolds can do no wrong in pretty much everyone’s eyes.

Other cast include Suki Waterhouse as Ms. Norman, Josette Simon as Grams, Karan Soni as Jack, Diplo as DJ and Rita Ora as Dr. Ann Laurent.

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POKEMON DETECTIVE PIKACHU is definitely a film that fans of Pokémon are going to enjoy. They are going to recognize characters from the Pokémon world and will be laughing at a lot of their antics. My kids who are now grownups are the ones I watched go through the Pokémon era so I know they are going to enjoy this film lot.

I recognized the characters and found myself giggling quite a few times. The film is fun, colorful, fast paced and did I mention fun? The CGI is pretty cool and the scene between Tim, Pikachu and their mime attests to that.

POKEMON DETECTIVE PIKACHU is charming and even delightful. There are a few twists and turns that I’m avoiding because I want everyone to enjoy it for themselves. So grab a bucket of popcorn with the kids and go have a good time this weekend!

In the end – the mystery is on!

It’s all Out Wrestling When FIGHTING WITH MY FAMILY

Fighting with

 

Jeri Jacquin

This week on Bluray/DVD and Digital from writer/director Stephen Merchant and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment is a story of family, friends and a little bit of wrestling when FIGHTING WITH MY FAMILY.

The Knight family is a little different than most families living in England. Led by Dad Ricky Knight (Nick Frost) and Mom Julia (Lena Headey), their kids Zak (Jack Lowden) and Saraya (Florence Pugh) go around the country with their own brand of wrestling to take care of the family.

Their goal is getting the WWE to watch a tape of their wrestling so that Zak and Saraya can get their shot. In the meantime they all do their part and even teach other kids about wrestling.

One day they get the call they have been waiting for when the WWE come to town giving Zak and Saraya a chance to show what they’ve got. Getting a few pointers from The Rock (Dwayne Johnson), they are excited to begin. Judged by Coach Hutch (Vince Vaughn), it doesn’t take long before a decision is made and Saraya changes her name to Paige and heads to Florida to NXT training.

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The Knight family is beside themselves and their business also begins to pick up. Paige is having a difficult time with training and isn’t sure who she is in this wrestling world as it’s nothing like back home. She isn’t getting much in the way of friendship from the other girls Jeri-Lynn (Kim Matula), Kirsten (Aqueela Zoll) and Madison (Ellie Gonsalves).

When it all seems to be falling apart, Paige must learn who to trust, who to listen to and what to believe about herself if she is ever going to be a true Diva!

Pugh as Saraya aka Paige is a fighter that comes from a family who believe in everything wrestling. They live and breathe it only wanting to be a part of something that they see as their salvation. Pugh portrays Paige as a young woman that wants to please everyone and at the same time doesn’t quite know how to fit into this world she was raised on. Her performance is strong and sweet at the same time, just like her character.

Lowden as Zack believes in wrestling with his heart and soul. Putting everything into it and then expecting a family of his own, he wants to succeed and make their lives easier. There comes a time when he sees his life turning on him and after losing one brother to prison could quite easily follow. The truth isn’t easy but needed to be heard.

Vaughn as Hutch is a hard-ass coach who doesn’t take excuses and certainly doesn’t dish out sympathy. He has one job and that’s to make the incoming WWE wrestlers steadfast and with their eye on the prize. Vaughn gets a chance to show that he can play someone who doesn’t have the luxury of being emotional. I like him in this role.

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Frost as Ricky is a Dad who came from a questionable early life but turned it all around. He raised his family to do everything together, include wrestling, and doesn’t mind one bit if they all seem a bit different than everybody else. Headey as Julia is a Mom to beat all Moms, seeing wrestling as something that saved her life she also is a Mom who wants her children to be happy no matter what ever path they chose to follow.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson gets a chance to steal a few scenes and I loved when he was. Especially the scene when Zak and Paige meet him for the first time – a geek out moment that he responds to as only he can.

Other cast includes: Thea Trinidad as AJ Lee, Paul Wight as Big Show, Stephen Farrelly as Sheamus, Josh Myers as Bruiser, Stephen Merchant as Hugh, Hannah Rae as Courtney, Jack Gouldbourne as Calum, Elroy Powell as Union Jack, Mohammad Amiri as Ez, Leah Harvey as Hannah and a special appearance by John Cena.

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

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The Bluray/DVD Bonus Features include Deleted & Extended Scenes, Gag Reel, A Family’s Passion: A Making Of, Learning the Moves, and Feature Commentary with Writer/Director Stephen Merchant.

FIGHTING WITH MY FAMILY is a look at an unusual family I see as not so unusual. They definitely have their own style and outlook but they have found something that joins the family together. What makes me laugh the most is they don’t care who doesn’t understand their love of wrestling and personally go out of their way to explain it all and reel in almost anyone.

Each member of the family believes in the other no matter what mistakes are made and reaches out to those who see themselves as different embracing them. I just love watching Zak and Saraya teach these kids how to be part of a group, a team and don’t believe in limitations.

It’s an amazing story about a family to be sure but also about Paige, a young girl who takes on the WWE world but takes a tough road to find her place and that makes the victory all the sweeter.

In the end – meet and outsider who changed the game!

Otzi the ICEMAN is a Find that Needs to be Seen on DVD

Iceman DVD

 

Jeri Jacquin

The story ICEMAN comes from Omnibus Entertainment and director/writer Felix Randau to portray a time in history that is still being discovered and constantly changes today.

The film tells the story of Kaleb (Jurgen Vogel), a man who is part of a small village. Surrounded by his woman and other members, they lived a quiet and productive life. When Kaleb ventures out one day to do some hunting up in the hills, he doesn’t know that a band of men is about to destroy everything he knows.

Seeing the smoke from his village, Kaleb returns to discover everyone is dead and those responsible are lingering nearby. After they leave, he goes from house to house looking for survivors. Away from the village next to a young boy, the newest member of their tribe has been protected from the savagery.

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Kaleb clearly makes the decision to track down those responsible and holding them accountable. Taking the child with him, their travels are difficult and slow. As he closes in on the men responsible, he makes a decision regarding the child that becomes a necessity.

The weather begins to change but Kaleb pushes on until he finds what he is looking for and makes the second biggest decision of this journey. Sometimes when you are blinded by vengeance, you don’t see what’s coming.

Vogel as Kaleb plays a man of few words but then again this is a film with few words. He is a strong man among his people and when it is all stripped away, he has nothing to lose regarding his decisions. This actor has the unique ability to let his acting speak volumes and I understood every message he is trying to convey. It takes a lot to impress me and Vogel has done just that with this performance. Inviting me into this journey and then keeping me there through the entire story is what I love about this film.

In playing the role of Kaleb, Vogel says, “The great thing about being an actor is that there are always roles that present a challenge. Roles like this one make you learn a lot. It got me interested in Otzi and the time he lives in and the script is really exciting. I didn’t have to think about it for long. I found the idea of playing Otzi fascinating because this role is something completely new for me.”

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The theme of revenge for the character of Kaleb is front and center after discovering his family and friends are dead. Vogel says, “Ortiz is compelled by revenge to extremes and only then does he sense that he has gone too far. In this early period, the rule of force was applied to exercise justice, but men also have feelings, a conscience, this is not an invention of the modern age. That is what links us today with this Stone Age man. We can identify with his conflicts and challenge just as much today”.

Other cast include Andre Hennricke as Krant, Sabin Tambrea as Tasar, Susanne Wuest as Kisis, Martin Schneider as Gosar, Violetta Schurawlow as Mitar, Anna F. as Rulan, Paula Renzler as Rasop and Franco Nero as Ditob.

Where did the idea of this character come from, well I’m about to tell you.

In 1991, two hikers were walking near Tisenjoch/Giogo di Tisa in the Senales Valley when they discovered a human corpse. Believing it was someone who had died due to exposure on the mountain, what they did not realize is exactly what they had found and how it would change what we know about early man.

Unable to bring the body down due to the weather, they did manage to bring an axe that was found and showed it to Reinhold Messner who realized it was very old. Returning to finally retrieve the body, they would also make a discover of personal items and a bow. Taking their find to Otztal Valley in Austria, the forensics could begin.

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Testing concluded that the man was over 5,000 years old and when researchers returned to where he was found, they uncovered other possessions. As the study of the mummy continued, they would discover tattoos and what seemed to be his understanding of illness and how to treat what ailed him like the use of birch bracket fungus.

The clothing found with Otzi consisted of leather and grass fibers and a fair amount of braiding. His tools consisted of a copper axe, a dagger and tools to make repairs. He was also found with a woven map and other items.

The question became, how did Otzi die? It quickly became clear that he was shot with an arrow but may have also been attacked days before he died. The question then became was he hunted down and murdered? All of this would come into play in making of the film ICEMAN.

Writer/director Randau says about the story, “When we started getting into the material, I had been searching for a mythical figure from our culture who could provide me with the basis for an archaic story – the drama of man, as it were. Then Otzi simply arrived at my doorstep, a gift that I gladly accepted.”

Producer Jan Kruger adds, “I have to frankly admit that Otiz hadn’t really been on my radar before Felix game me this script to read. I was reminded of films like DANCES WITH WOLVES and QUEST FOR FIRE which I found brilliant. A native subject from Europe and on top of that, an uncopyrighted protagonist.”

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In regards to the lack of language in the film (which by the way I felt was in no way needed), Randau said, “I wrote the story in such a way that language does not have any dramaturgic function in the classical sense. The plot is not driven forward by the spoken word”. Of course there are moments in the film where there is a language that although no one knows how language was used at that time, Randau called on linguist Chasper Pult to help.

ICEMAN takes us on the journey of a man who feels the need for justice. From the moment the film began I was taken in and never turned away from the screen. Every movement the peoples of this time made was not wasted – from living life, making food, rituals of death, making clothing, hunting and even revenge. This film does exactly the same thing – wastes nothing.

Using the surroundings to bring the story even more believability, I have to give the cast and crew so much credit because it looked rough, cold, wet and uncomfortable. That being said the places chosen to bring the story to film are sheer perfection in keeping me invested in the storyline.

If you given the opportunity see ICEMAN and share in the wonder of someone who once lived in our world and the story that needed to be told. The Bonus Feature of Making of Iceman is amazing.

In the end – they found a man but not his story!

 

MISSION OF HONOR Shares So Much More

Mission of

 

Jeri Jacquin

On Bluray from director David Blair and Cinedigm comes the story of the most unlikely pilots in war against Germany with MISSION OF HONOR.

Jan Zumbach (Iwan Rheon) along with John Kentowski (Milo Gibson), Witold Urbanowicz (Marcin Dorocinski) and more are brought together to form the Hurricane Squadron 303. These Polish pilots are far from home as Germany has invaded their homeland of Poland.

Becoming pilots for Great Britain, they train and fight but their counterparts aren’t thrilled to have them as part of the team. What surprises their commander the most is that the Polish pilots are dedicated and good. There isn’t much time for training as the war in the sky becomes more intense.

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The men stick together and find their place in the squadron by proving they are dedicated and loyal to the cause of stopping Germany from killing any more of their countrymen. Jan is also falling for the beautiful Phyllis (Stefanie Martini) and they try to find togetherness during a time of great sorrow.

This is also a time when friendships are tested, planes are becoming scarce and keeping them together is nothing short of a wing and a prayer.

Yet, their story is so much more than flying!

Rheon as Zumbach has very good reason for wanting to help fight in the battle of Great Britain. Having seen what has happened to his family in Poland and the brutal and murderous actions of the Nazi’s, he takes the moral stand to do his part. Trying to find his place in another group of men who don’t seem to want him their, it is Zumbach’s calmness and skill at the stick that wins over his counterparts.

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Gibson as Kentowski has a problem with the group. Instead of embracing the help, he seems to find a problem with them all. With most characters that don’t understand the plight they are facing, Kentowski learns that the only way to save his country is by understanding what the men of the 303 have gone through in their own country to stop it from happening in his.

Martini as Lambert is a young woman who is part of the military that keeps the flow of information to the pilots. In a chance meeting during off duty hours at the local watering hole, she meets Rheon but their relationship doesn’t start out well. Martini gives her character strength, intelligence and shows the important role women served in the military.

Other cast include: Krystoff Hadek as Josef Frantisek, Manuel Klein as Trost, Raphael Desprez as Favier, Rosie Gray as Georgina, Emily Watt as Kate, Robert Portal as Keith Park, Graham Padden as Rawlings, Teresa Mahoney as McCormac and Marc Hughes as Ellis.

Cinedigm is a leading distributor of amazing content in storefronts, digital platforms, Internet and Demand platforms for cable television. With an extensive library of over 52,000 films and television shows, Docurama films, next-gen Indies and Independent films. At its inception, Cinedigm has played a pioneering role in transitioning movie theatres from traditional film prints to digital distribution to advance worldwide cinema modernization. For more on what Cinedigm has to offer please visit http://www.cinedigm.com.

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MISSION OF HONOR is just that, a unique look at those who had experienced the horrors of war but were defiant. They wanted to fight back and taking to the skies was the only way they could contribute. Watching them go through the difficulties of language and training will make anyone appreciate these brave Polish pilots.

It is crucial to understand what brought so man different countries together to fight against a common foe. Learning from one another was difficult at first but once they took the time to understand each other, the flow for victory was inevitable.

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When the war finally came to an end, the 303 was the highest scoring fighter squadron of the Battle of Britain. Those 145 Polish pilots show down 203 planes and was 20% of the RAF’s war power. How were they rewarded? By returning home only to face the horrors that they tried to stop from the air.

In the end – in foreign skies they fought for their country!

SURVIVING BIRKENAU: The Dr. Susan Spatz Story

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Jeri Jacquin

On DVD from Ron Small, the Holocaust Education Film Foundation and Dreamscape comes the story of the ultimate survivor with SURVIVING BIRKENAU: The Dr. Susan Spatz Story.

Dr. Spatz is a woman who has no problem telling her story exactly how it is. Born in Vienna, her parents moved to Berlin, Germany to work in their uncles’ greeting card company. The business was very successful and the family lived well. She recalls her father being a man who loved to dance and mother a woman who was always impeccably dressed.

In 1935, Jewish students had to leave state schools and she didn’t quite understand what was happening. In 1938, Hitler had taken control of their home country of Vienna, Austria. That is also when she noticed that Nazi soldiers were beginning to harass Jewish men and women in hideous ways.

That is when Susan’s father had to find a way out because visas were not to be had. In August 1939, her father left on the last plane to Brussels to settle while Susan and her mother waited. A town was created called Theresienstadt Bauschowitz and two months later it was inhabited by Jews. That was the beginning of the Jewish Council that became part of a selection committee which had one of her mothers’ friends there to help.

Once they learned that it wouldn’t help, Susan’s mother left and the young 19 year old girl stayed behind. In 1943 she was to be transferred by train through the large gates of what was to become Birkenau. Immediately everyone that arrived were processed, given clothing and tattooed. Her number is 34042.

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Food was scarce and lessons of being in the prison camp were every moment of their lives. The women prison guards, according to Susan, were worse than the male guards so they had to find solace with one another. Fate would come into play as she came into contact with a young girl she knew in Prague. That encounter helped her get to the administration offices and the construction department.

By 1944, Susan is sent on the Death March and the only thing that saved her was after being told quietly to load up on clothing and food or else they would not survive. Finally put on a train, they were once again told to huddle together and they would make it. She would see that others trains with people who froze in their train cars.

Staying alive they were finally liberated and when they came to an American checkpoint, the realization that the world didn’t know about extermination camps. Susan was finally free but where would she be able to go?

Speaking English would be another life saver for Susan as she was asked to work with the Americans. Through that she would learn the fate of her family and began the long road to finding a life of her own. She discovered her freedom, her voice and a new purpose for her life.

Established in 2018, the Holocaust Education Film Foundation was started to build an international, interactive online community one Holocaust Survivor story at a time. Through full-length documentaries, distributed globally through numerous platforms, the online site and educational programs, the 501c3 foundation seeks to ensure that we will never forget. For more information please visit https://www.hef.northwestern.edu.

Dr. Susan Spatz has such an amazing story to tell and I absolutely was riveted to hear every moment of it. There is a steadiness or perhaps defiance in her voice that would not allow her to give in to her captors. There is nothing wrong with doing everything humanly possible to survive and Susan makes that clear by the choices she made in her three years in Birkenau.

It would be in her life after years in the concentration camp that seems so much more difficult. Susan even says that she was more afraid after Birkenau with what life was bringing her way but even before that part of her story was told I knew she would let nothing stop her from being free once again.

In the end – it is her story of survival during humanity’s darkest moments!

It’s Time for A to Z with the AWESOME ALAPHABET COLLECTION

 

Awesome Alphabet DVD

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to DVD from Sesame Street and Shout! Factory Kids is a collection that shares so much learning for kids with AWESOME ALPHABET COLLECTION.

It begins with Ernie sharing how to use the letter A in a drum beating rhyme. The beat is kickin’ and the words begin to flow in fun. The songs are easy for kids to learn quickly and share with the family. That’s not all as guests like Pharrell Williams share that it is quite easy to travel without ever leaving town with the letter B for book!

There is the fun of learning about C for cake, and the letter of the day with a song even I know and D, Guy Smiley hosts ‘What’s My Letter?’, the letter E makes Elmo smile as well! Grover gives an F demonstration and even though he’d rather be doing a G for Grover, he teaches so well.

The G is turned over to two very cute imaginary girls who take you on their adventure of a letter, H finds itself in a beautiful garden, of course ice cream starts with the letter I and its delicious, of course its one big juggle with the letter J, singer Tori Kelly gives us a little vocal kindness, and Kermit gives us a lesson on how to use lines to make a K.

Bert and Ernie show us all how easy it is to musically la-la-la our way into the letter L and of course the letter M is one that each of the Muppets can understand and gladly will sing about it! Ricky Gervais teaches Elmo what it means to have a Celebrity Lullaby visit you before bed with the letter N.

The letter O teaches about opposites, the ocean, ostriches, octopus and all things fun, P is the favorite letter of one particular street and one of the most comfortable things to lay our head on. Who would have thought that a song could be made from the letter Q? Cookie Monster decides to try his furry paw at rap with the letter R.

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Sia joins the group to sing about the letter S! Chance the Rapper is going to star with Cookie Monster in a theater production with the letter T, the letter U is worth singing about; V is all about vegetables, violins and a vase of violets. The letter W brings Larry King to ask his audience what their favorite ‘w’ word is.

The letter X can be found with an ox, fox so say hurray! The letter Y is taking us on a wild yo-yo chase that Elmo loves to sing about along with Norah Jones. Finally, there is a musical Z that rocks out leading to little Zelda looking for words that start with her name.

Of course Kermit is going to have the best way to speed through the alphabet in the best way possible.

The DVD includes Norah Jones, Tori Kelly, Pharrell Williams, Sheryl Crow, Ricky Gervais and the most wonderful Maya Angelou.

The spectacular DVD also contains a bonus feature of the ABC-themed printable activities with Elmo’s Amazing Alphabet Race and Printable Alphabet Activity Sheets.

 SHOUT! Factory has grown into a tremendous multi-platform media company. Releasing new animated features such as the exquisite Long Way North, and the epic fantasy Beauty And The Beast. Also their own original horror film, Fender Bender gives fans a good scare. For more of what SHOUT Factor has to offer please visit www.shoutfactory.com.

AWESOME ALPHABET COLLECTION is being released during Sesame Street’s yearlong 50th anniversary celebration. The anniversary will celebrate the timeless lesson that Sesame Street has always taught: everyone, no matter who they are or where they are from, is equally deserving of respect, opportunity, and joy. Throughout 2019, families everywhere can join their favorite furry friends in celebrating Sesame Street as well as a star-studded primetime special that will kick off the show’s 50th season.

Fans are encouraged to share their favorite Sesame Street memory across social media this year using the hashtag #ThisIsMyStreet.

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This DVD is just amazing and so much fun. Filled with songs, laughter, games and guests that want to teach kids how to be creative, thoughtful, and filled with imagination. That is what makes Sesame Street everybody’s street. We all want to explore and have colorful adventures – yes, even us older folks!

This is 130-minutes of Sesame Street Workshops best and you can actually find more fun and learning at http://www.sesamestreet.org.

In the end – this is a street where learning is always fun!

 

 

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