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Kyle Chandler

GODZILLA: King of the Monsters

Godzilla cover

Jeri Jacquin

In theatres this week from writer/director Michael Dougherty and Warner Bros. Pictures is the return of the titans with GODZILLA: King of the Monsters.

It has been five years since the destruction that led to the death of Mark (Kyle Chandler) and Emma Russell’s (Vera Farmiga) son. Daughter Madison (Millie Bobby Brown) has watched her parents go their separate ways not dealing with the loss.

Emma is working with an organization called Monarch and their goal is to find the Titans to learn more about them. In their underground bunker, Emma and Madison watch Mothra come into being. Helping to keep it under control, Emma created a device called the Orca that only these Titans can understand.

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Almost immediately there is an attack on the facility and the two are kidnapped by former soldier Jonah Alan (Charles Dance). Arriving at his place of research, Mark is told by Dr. Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) and Dr. Graham (Sally Hawkins) about the kidnapping.

He joins them back at the center station where Dr. Ling (Ziyi Zhang) and Dr. Stanton (Bradley Whitford) explain what is happening around the world. The military wants to take over but the scientists believe there is another way.

In the meantime, Emma releases the titan called Ghidorah as more and more monsters like Baphomet, Typhoon, Abaddon, Bunuip and Methuselah wake up. Godzilla is also on his way to Zero and the team must decide if this is the beginning of working together.

The problem is there are people that can’t be trusted, titans who have a plan of their own and so many questions as to how to stop the destruction!

Chandler as Mark doesn’t want to get involved in what ever it is that Monarch is doing but once Emma and Madison are taken he has no choice. Especially when he realizes that it is technology he helped develop that is devastating. Chandler has the ability to look sorrowful when needed and jumps into action when he can.

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Farmiga as Russell takes on the titans when she should be home with her hubby Ed Warren (The Conjuring) keeping an eye on their evil artifacts. Brown as Madison is a kid who believes what she’s told and has to choose what is right and wrong – and then get back to the STRANGER THINGS cast.

Dance as Alan proves that you can take the Hand of the King out of Westeros but you can’t stop Tywinn from still wanting to rule the world. Whitford as Dr. Stanton is the sharp tongues comic relief especially when he sees his old White House stomping grounds in sad shape.

Watanabe as Dr. Serizawa is the strength of the group who is trying to keep Godzilla alive while trying to find a way to stop the other Titans. I adore Watanabe and this is a perfect character for him as it is strong but equally quiet. Zhang as Dr. Ling is caught up in every minute of the chaos and it’s nice to see Sayuri and the Chairman (Memoirs of a Geisha) together again.

Other cast include Thomas Middleditch as Sam Coleman, Aisha Hinds as Colonel Diane Foster, O’Shea Jackson Jr. as Chief Warrant Barnes, Anthony Ramos as Sgt. Martinez, Elizabeth Ludlow as Lt. Griffin, Jonathan Howard as Asher Jonah and David Strathairn as Admiral William Stenz.

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Look, I know I am making a little fun of GODZILLA: King of the Monsters but there are moments crying out for me to poke fun. The story is straight forward, the technology is cutting edge, the graphics are on point and Godzilla never looked so good.

That being said, honestly I could have seen myself sitting at home watching this on a bit 75″ screen television with a sound bar and having a great time with friends. I am a kid of the black/white Godzilla/Mothra/Rodan era and I spent many a Friday night or Saturday afternoon watching the battles.

The first film directed by Ishiro Honda in 1954 introduced everyone to Gojira aka Godzilla and the reaction was huge. Everyone knows who Godzilla is even if the youngsters of today don’t know the back story. If they see a statue of Godzilla – they know!

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The radioactive lizard looking and extremely HUGE creature slips through the ocean with ease while destroying everything below his very large feet. I sort of have the same problem so I can relate!

From the 1950s until today, Godzilla is part of film history and an icon that we love. Although the films haven’t always been successful (sorry Matthew Broderick aka 1998 version), this story works even if it is cheesy, campy and predictable.

Prepare because Godzilla vs. King Kong is going to come large and in charge in 2020.

In the end – long live the king!

FIRST MAN Lands on Digital – Coming to 4K and Bluray

 

first man cover

Jeri Jacquin

Currently on Digital and coming to 4K UHD, Bluray and DVD from director Damien Chazelle and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment is outer spaces’ FIRST MAN.

It is 1961 and Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) is about to bounce off the atmosphere testing the X-15 rocket for NASA in the Mojave Desert. He is not as phased by that as he is the illness of his very young daughter Karen. Devastated, Armstrong turns to the Project Gemini and is accepted in the astronaut group.

Deke Slayton (Kyle Chandler) tells Armstrong and his fellow trainees Elliot See (Patrick Fugit) and Ed White (Jason Clarke) that the United States is behind in the space race. Their goal is to pull in front of the Soviet Union and Armstrong is all in. Wife Janet (Claire Foy) supports and prepares for the move to Houston.

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Another tragedy hit Armstrong hard with the death of two friends while at the same time he is slated to command Gemini 8. After an aborted mission for Gemini and determined not at fault, Armstrong is selected along with Gus Grissom (Shea Whigham) and Roger Chaffee (Cory Michael Smith) for the Apollo 1 mission.

Once again tragedy strikes again and again as Armstrong is pushed back down the line. Finally, he is told that Apollo 11 will likely be the first lunar landing and Neil begins to withdraw form his family more and more. Janet has had her fill and tells him that it is his responsibility now to explain to their children what he is doing and why.

The mission isn’t without its rough patches but Neil Armstrong steps on the moon, has a moment of reflect and returns home to his family. Their, President Kennedy reminds us all that ‘we choose to go to the moon’!

Gosling as Armstrong gives a stoic performance of a man who spends years mired in tragedy. It seems he doesn’t see his own close calls with the same amount of deepness than he does with the loss of family and friends. There is so much hiding in this character that it was like waiting for Gosling to just burst out of his skin at any moment. Yet, he doesn’t but instead occasionally lets the steam out of the kettle and keeps everyone at bay.

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Foy as Janet is a woman who clearly supports her husband but, at times, can not seem to get past the wall that Armstrong continues to build with every event in their lives. A strong performance that speaks out when she needs to and waits patiently when she must.

Chandler as Slayton sees what has happened to Armstrong yet embraces what he can do for NASA strongly. Chandler is an actor that can take any role and make it his own and in this film he once again proves his steadiness.

Other cast includes: Corey Stoll as Buzz Aldrin, Pablo Schreiber as Jim Lovell, Christopher Abbott as David Scott, Lukas Haas as Michael Collins, Brian d’Arcy as James Walker, Steve Coulter as Gunter Wendt, Ben Owen as John Hodge, Ethan Embry as Pete Conrad, John David Whalen as John Glenn and Ciaran Hinds as Robert Gilruth.

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

The Bluray includes Deleted Scenes, Shooting for the Moon – Take an intimate look at the production of FIRST MAN and the collaborative relationship between Director Damien Chazelle and Ryan Gosling, Preparing to Launch – It’s difficult to believe that FIRST MAN is the first major feature film to tell the story of this Apollo 11, and Giant Leap in One Small Step – A heroic character study, FIRST MAN sheds light on all the hard working individuals that got us to the moon and back.

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Also, Mission Gone Wrong – Watch as Ryan Gosling reenacts a test piloting sequence gone horribly wrong and see how he trained to nail the landing, Putting You In the Seat – Filmed in IMAX to show the vastness of the moon, find out all that it took to recreate the most famous moment in NASA history, Shooting at NASA – Hear from Ryan Gosling and Director Chazelle on how shooting at NASA brought unparalleled authenticity to FIRST MAN, Astronaut Training – Go behind the scenes of the three day boot camp each of the actors underwent prior to filming FIRST MAN and finally Feature Commentary with Director Damien Chazelle, Screenwriter Josh Singer and Editor Tom Cross.

MOVIES ANYWHERE is the digital app that simplifies and enhances the digital movie collection and viewing experience by allowing consumers to access their favorite digital movies in one place when purchased or redeemed through participating digital retailers. For more information please visit http://moviesanywhere.com.

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FIRST MAN is filled with a cast that may seem like small roles but in this film, no role is small in telling such a big story. Although the film deals mainly with Neil Armstrong, it doesn’t forget those who also made the journey through the space program and their contributions to the space race.

The film also acknowledges how difficult the struggle was and the personal sacrifices that were made that allowed Armstrong to put his foot on the moon. That is important when telling the story of our space history and I appreciated it.

In the end – it was a pivotal moment in the history of mankind!

THE VANISHING OF SIDNEY HALL is Stunning Storytelling!

the vanishing

 

Jeri Jacquin

In theatres this week from writer/director Shawn Christensen and A24 is a film that allows us a look inside of a life of secrets with THE VANISHING OF SIDNEY HALL.

Sidney (Logan Lerman) is a young man who sees the world differently than his classmates. He finds solace in writing and is encouraged by his teacher who sees something special in him. Sidney also has a little mystery in his life when a girl who lives across the street lets a bit of her feelings show.

He introduces himself to Melody (Elle Fanning) and they begin a deep relationship that Sidney knows is life changing. What becomes life-altering is when school jock Brett Newport (Blake Jenner) asks Sidney to hold something for him and to tell no one. Happy to oblige, he is also curious about what had Brett so nervous.

What happened between the two young men becomes the subject of Sidney’s book that sky-rockets him to literary stardom. The fame becomes a whirlwind that begins to affect his relationship with Melody and when it all begins to fall apart – Sidney disappears without a trace.

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That’s when a detective (Kyle Chandler) begins searching for Sidney who is wanted for a series of fires set in places where there are books. Trying to follow the clues, the detective hopes it will lead to Sidney and answers as to what happened to push this young man toward a path filled with pain.

Lerman as Sidney carries this story and film brilliantly in a way that kept me wondering how much more one life can take. I literally couldn’t take my eyes off his performance because his character is so dedicated to everything he pursued that the pitfalls just crushed my heart. All of that emotion is because of Lerman’s portrayal which is a thing of true beauty.

Fanning as Melody clearly enjoys life, sees the beauty past the pain and loves Sidney. Her character sees the best in Sidney and supports when it all becomes too much for him. Trying to be his support comes at a price that Melody seemed more than willing to pay until it was no longer just she that would pay.

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Chandler as the Detective is absolutely amazing in this role. Watching him take each crime scene apart piece by piece to ‘get his man’, it also gives the viewer the same opportunity to go back into Sidney’s life and see what might have gone unnoticed because, like our own lives, it is all in the eye of the beholder. I loved this performance by Chandler but then again if you’ve seen the series Bloodline, you know this actor was certainly up to the challenge in this role.

The must-see breakout performance is Jenner as Brett Newport. This BMOC senior jock walks the hallways of high school in his letterman’s jacket without a care in the world. Sometimes what we think is so true of someone can turn at a moments notice. Jenner’s character brings harshness mixed with a sadness that feels so real for this young man.

Another shout out to Nathan Lane as Harold! Although his role isn’t large, Lane has the unique ability to make every second he is on screen count and playing Harold is no exception. As Harold, Lane is brash, bold and I loved it.

Other cast include Michelle Monaghan as Mrs. Hall, Janina Gavankar as Gina, Margaret Qualley as Alexandra, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Duane, Tim Nelson as Johan, Michael Drayer as Max, Christina Brucato as Jeanine, Alex Karpovsky as Bauer, Darren Pettie as Gerald Hall and David Basche as Senator Dale.

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TUBS OF POPCORN: I give THE VANISHING OF SIDNEY HALL four tubs of popcorn out of five. I know it is early in the year yet I feel like I’ve seen something stellar, heart felt wrapped in an honestly original story. Filled with a weaving of time periods that is done with such ease and yet so compelling to watch.

This is a cast that envelopes every moment of screen time stretching my emotional core and just when I thought I could take a deep breath – twist! Isn’t that what we want from good storytelling and good filmmaking? That’s what this film is all about, testing us all to our emotional limits and rooting for each to release the memories that hold them down.

Trust me when I say there is so much more to the film that I will not put in this review. I truly want everyone who sees this film to experience each moment for themselves and jaw drop at the twists that are nothing short of brilliantly done. The cinematography is equally well done and if you thinks places in the world are just geography – think again.

In the end – it’s all about beginnings.

 

 

MANCHESTER BY THE SEA

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Jeri Jacquin

In theaters this week from writer/director Kenneth Lonergan and Roadside Attractions comes the intense story of family’s living near MANCHESTER BY THE SEA.

Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) lives a very simple and uncomplicated life. Working as a building maintenance man, he does his job and minds his own business. One day he receives a call telling him that his brother Joe (Kyle Chandler) is slipping away. Quickly driving to the hospital Lee is too late.

Now he must find nephew Patrick (Lucas Hedges) and tell him the news. So begins the task of becoming reacquainted, planning a funeral and meeting with lawyers. It is meeting with the lawyer that Lee discovers that he is now the legal guardian of Patrick.

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Immediately panic sets in as Lee has no idea what he is going to do and has no intention of living in his hometown. It doesn’t take long for the memories to come back when Lee’s ex-wife Randi (Michelle Williams) comes to the funeral. It is Patrick who stands his ground explaining that his life, home, friends and father’s fishing boat are in Manchester.

Lee agrees to stay until all the issues have been settled giving them time to know one another. As the days pass it is clear that what happened in the past is still haunting Lee and Randi while Patrick comes to terms with growing up and following in his father’s footsteps.

Affleck as Lee is a walking ticking time bomb who can’t seem to find his way out of the past. Thinking that being away from home will keep him moving forward, it takes a hot minute of being home to set his teeth on edge. There isn’t much to say about this character because there are only fractions of true emotions displayed. I felt like the mystery of Lee was in those fractions but I don’t have that long of a life span to wait for him to spit it out.

Hedges as Patrick is a teen set in his ways (aren’t they all until they’re not?) and isn’t about to let Uncle Lee get in his way. I enjoyed Hedges performance and if I had one thing that bothered me it was that Patrick doesn’t really seem upset by his father’s passing and that was a tad disturbing. Patrick seemed more interested in ‘basement action’ with his harem of girls but that’s a teen right?

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Williams as Randi has her role to play and she does just that. I actually feel like I’ve seen this character and performance from her before which is probably why I am not gushing all over with praise. I’m thinking SHUTTER ISLAND meets MY WEEK WITH MARILYN wrapped up into the character of Randi.

Other cast include: C.J. Wilson as George, Gretchen Mol as Elise, Tom Kemp as Stan Chandler, Chloe Dixon as Suzy Chandler, Ellie Teeves as Karen Chandler, Paul Meredith as Paul, Tate Donovan as the Hockey Coach, Christian Mallen as CJ, Oscar Wahlberg as Joel, Kara Hayward as Silvie and Josh Hamilton as Wes.

TUBS OF POPCORN: I give MANCHESTER BY THE SEA three tubs of popcorn out of five. The film clocks in at 137 minutes and I followed the story from the beginning but, quite honestly, by the 20 minute mark I had it figure out. Translated this means I had to sit and watch it all play out for another one hundred and seventeen minutes. Now that the math is done (and I HATE math) let me just say that like the emotions of Lee, I only had fractions of moments where I hoped things would get better.

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It isn’t that MANCHESTER BY THE SEA isn’t a good film as much as I’m a little baffled by all the hype. I honestly can’t see someone paying the price of a theatre ticket to sit through the film. I suppose that is also means there will be tons of award nominations which may peak the interest of some but not enough to warrant the cost of production. Film critics can be generous with their nods and fanfare about a film but have them buy a ticket to that same film and they might not be as generous with their opinions.

The later scene with Affleck and Williams is strong but it felt like too little too late by the time it plays itself out. The big winner here is the young actor Lucas Hedges playing a young man forced into decisions about his life because the adults around him are all screwed up! The ending of the film left me flat as everyone seems to portray ‘doing the right thing’ but I took it as everyone took the easy way out.

In the end – coming home is never easy.

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