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The Terror is Unseen with THE INVISIBLE MAN

invisible man 3 cover

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres this Friday from writer/director Leigh Whannell and Universal Pictures comes the story of fear and disbelief and it all starts with THE INVISIBLE MAN.

Cecelia Kass (Elisabeth Moss) is in a dangerous marriage to husband Marc (Benedict Hardie) and in one night manages to escape with sister Alice (Harriet Dyer). Making it clear she has to hide; Alice sends her to James (Aldis Hodge) a police officer who lives with young daughter Sydney (Storm Reid).

Days go by and Cecelia can not manage to walk out the door constantly watching for Marc out the big house window. It isn’t until Alice arrives to tell her that Marc is no longer a worry, does she start to feel free to go outside and finally have a life that is not controlled by her husband.

Marc’s brother Tom (Michael Dorman) sees Cecelia to let her know that there is an inheritance to be signed for. Believing that Tom finally understands the hell she was living in does Cecelia feel even more free from that life.

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She decides its time to find a job and yet something wakes her up at night and begins to have her on guard again. There are strange happenings that leads her to believe that Marc is not dead but getting everyone else to believe what she is saying proves difficult.

Cecelia’s life becomes dangerous as each unexplained event is more and more life threatening. People begin to turn away from her which is a feeling she is all to familiar with. This time, she knows every move she makes – Cecelia is on her own.

How do you prove what no one else sees?

Moss as Cecelia is a woman coming from a seriously dreaded marriage. Finding the strength to leave brings a new set of anxieties and fears. Feeling comfortable only means that the fears she thought were gone, were actually only lying in wait. I knew Moss could pull this off because I’ve seen what she can do in the Hulu series The Handmaid’s Tale as June/Offred. That role is as intense as one can be so playing Cecelia is a walk in the park.

Hodge as James is a solid guy that wants to help Cecelia get through what ever has been happening to her. As a cop he knows how to be aware but then again that’s when you can see the bad guy! Hardie as Marc is one twisted character and with the help of Dorman as brother Tom, the two seem to have their own history together.

Dryer as sister Alice comes to the rescue but there comes a point where the craziness begins to affect even their relationship. Dryer is smart as a whip and doesn’t hold back. Reid as Sydney is a young woman with serious ambitions and who truly likes Cecelia, but danger has a way of testing any friendship.

Other cast include Amali Golden as Annie and Sam Smith as Detective Reckley.

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THE INVISIBLE MAN has the plot that is recognizable from other films such as 1991’s SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY with Julia Roberts and 2002’s ENOUGH with Jennifer Lopez. The story of an abusive and life controlling husband is what Roberts ran away from and a husband who will never let his wife go is what Lopez fought back against.

That being said, Moss gets a chance to mix in a little sci-fi into this story line so there’s that. Look, is this reinventing the wheel? Of course not but, in the films defense, it does have some cool and spooky scenes that force you to never take your eye off the screen. There might be one or two scenes where I briefly thought “yea, that’s not believable at all” but was okay with it.

The effects are pretty cool but I would expect nothing less. The days of crappy effects are long gone so there is no excuse to go “oooooooohhhh no” when you see something out of the corner of your eye.

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THE INVISIBLE MAN is just pure fun and a reason to hold tight to your bucket of popcorn or the arm of the person sitting next to you. I still love to go to the movies to see films that don’t require anything other than your full attention, your willingness to jump and see the end coming from a mile away but go along for the ride for the pure satisfaction.

In the end – what you can’t see can hurt you!

Nothing Prepared Them for the BOMBSHELL Returning on Bluray

 

bombshell bluray cover

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to Bluray, DVD and Digital from director Jay Roach and Lionsgate comes an explosive story about women and a power they fought against when preparing for the BOMBSHELL.

On the Fox News channel, women like Gretchen Carlson (Nicole Kidman) and Megan Kelly (Charlize Theron) are making a name for themselves. Seeing it for herself is incoming wanna-be Kayla Pospisil (Margot Robbie) who is one of the producers for Carlson’s show and wants more. So much so that Kayla takes a position with Bill O’Reilly which infuriates Carlson.

Luring above all the newsrooms is Roger Ailes (John Lithgow) who made Fox News a sensation and runs a tight ship with the okay from Rupert Murdoch (Malcolm McDowell). No one dare challenge Ailes as he made is very clear that he could make or break a career. That is what

Carlson faced when she begins to suspect that her news days on air are numbered. Seeing legal counsel before that happens, she is told that going directly for Ailes instead of the company would be her best option.

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At Kayla’s new position she meets producer Jess Carr (Kate McKinnon) and the two quickly become friends. One day Kayla takes it upon herself to make her way up to Ailes office to introduce herself. Accepting the meeting, Ailes begins calming talking to her about what it is she wants. Once the politeness is done, Ailes claims he needs to get a closer look at Kayla since television is a “visual medium”. She leaves his office knowing what transpired was frightening.

Once out and the Carlson sexual harassment lawsuit filed, Kelly must come to terms with what she knows, but she isn’t the only one. One woman after another comes forward while Kelly remains silent. Telling her husband what is happening doesn’t help her decision on what to do next easier. Kayla also keeps her head down and avoids Ailes office as much as she can but Carr notices something is wrong.

Trying to coax people to help, Ailes wife Beth (Connie Britton) wonders why Kelly isn’t coming out in support of the man who gave her a career. Ailes vehemently denies the accusations against him and cannot fathom why the women would say such things. The bigger the story gets, people begin to take sides and finally Murdoch knows that a decision must be made to safe what is left of Fox News.

Standing together the women realize there is safety in numbers.

Theron as Kelly is ridiculously scary because after a minute of watching her on screen I forgot that I was watching Theron. Her movements and speech are spectacular to the point of being brought into the story with ease. Theron has always been a consummate actress in my book and I have never really found fault in anything she has done but let me say in this film just absolutely blew me away. From start to finish I was riveted by her performance and, although not a huge fan of Kelly herself, do have a healthy dose of respect for her. She can thank Theron for that anytime.

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Kidman as Carlson is a woman who sees the writing on the wall knowing it comes directly from Ailes and his eyes ever watching his news kingdom. The smartest thing for me was her knowing it was coming and did whatever she could to make sure things were ‘documented’. I mean really, did Ailes truly believe he was untouchable? I don’t comprehend that thinking except to chalk it up to an old school mentality where it’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt. Kidman gives Carlson stealth and determination in a world that Ailes seem to feel was a gift he gave her with a stipulation of silence.

Robbie as Kayla is a young woman on the move and doesn’t think too much before changing lanes. It seemed that all this character wanted to do was get to the top fast and try not to leave to many high heel marks on the backs of others. Idolizing Carlson and even Kelly, the character of Kayla doesn’t seem to have the maturity to handle what is about to happen to her.

McKinnon as Carr is a woman who is hiding who she is because she wants to keep her job. Knowing the environment around her isn’t kind to everyone, McKinnon brings her own hurting brevity to this character and it makes a hard point. Britton as Beth holds fast to her husband innocence even though I have a gut feeling she knows he’s not so innocent trusting in the ‘that’s just who he is’ line of defense.

Now let’s talk about Lithgow as Ailes because his performance is just so disturbing. Thinking that he should get an award for his portrayal it set my mind ablaze thinking ‘how do you give an award to someone for doing a stellar job without once again giving Ailes airtime’. I know, it’s making a mountain out of a mole hill but – is it? Anyway, Lithgow is riveting, yucky and portraying a man who used his powers in the most unspeakable of ways. This performance is just…wow!

Shout out to Allison Janney as Susan Estrich because she deserves a shout out. McDowell as Murdoch waltzes into a room and shows Ailes how it’s done.

Other cast include Liv Hewson as Lily Balin, Brigette Lundy-Paine as Julia Clarke, Rob Delaney as Gil Norman, Stephen Root as Neil Mullen, Robin Weigert as Nancy Smith, Amy Landecker as Dianne Brandi and Mark Duplass as Doug Brunt.

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Lionsgate is a global leader in motion picture production and distribution for theatres, television, home entertainment and more. Theatre franchises include THE HUNGER GAMES, and DIVERGENT along with JOHN WICK. Now, adding this film to its 16,000 motion picture and television titles you can see everything coming soon as well as available now at http://www.lionsgate.com.

The Bluray and DVD Special Features include No Easy Truths: The Making of Bombshell (7-Part Documentary), Convergence: Genesis of the Film, Quid Pro Quo: Charlize, Nicole, Margot, John, Human Dynamics: The Ensemble Cast, Breaking the Fourth Wall: Visual Design, Layer by Layer: Makeup, Hair & Clothing, A Unique Skill Set: Jay Roach and Catalyst for Change: Parting Thoughts.

BOMBSHELL is a film that gives a look inside the fall from Fox News grace of Roger Ailes but more importantly, what it took for Carlson to take a stand. The film isn’t shy about putting it right out there that Ailes had power of such magnitude that he managed to shut down these women for years and years while up in his tower.

I was impressed with Kidman, Theron and Robbie as the film addresses their story’s individually and I think that’s important. Ailes abuses started early and as he got bolder, so did his ‘requests’ of these women and he talk about them later. As what usually happens when a powerful man is confronted with his misdeeds (by almost everyone’s standards), Ailes thinks he is above it all. That he barks and everyone cowers – well, Carlson decided to cower no more in 2016.

BOMBSHELL is a film that needs to be seen and then discussed. Whether it all happened the way its portrayed on-screen or not, it is a conversation that can stop even a hint of something like this from ever happening again. I don’t care if these women were on Fox News and I’m not a fan of Fox News – no one and I mean no one deserves to live their lives with fear – in family or at a job.

BOMBSHELL also received three Academy Award Nominations including Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress.

In the end – based on a scandal that shook a new empire!

DRAGONHEART: Vengeance Brings Dragons Home on Bluray

Dragonheart cover

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to Bluray, DVD and Digital this week from director Ivan Silvestrini and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment is more adventures with DRAGONHEART: Vengeance.

Lukas (Jack Kane) is the son of a farmer who lives a quiet life helping to tend the farm animals. One day while basking in the sun in a field, he hears something horrifying – the sound of his family being murdered. Running to the house he sees through the boards The Snake (Carolina Carlsson), The Scorpion (Tam Williams), The Wolf (Richard Ashton) and The Bear (Ross O’Hennessy) commit the act.

Not understanding why they group did it, he does hear in which direction each is going. Lukas makes a solemn vow that he will hold each accountable in any way possible. Beginning his journey on the road he finds a Blacksmith (Cameron Jack) who trades lands for Lukas’ first weapon and the young boy also meets the daring Darius (Joseph Millson) who has a gift with nature.

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But it is the Blacksmith who tells Lukas the story of the dragon hidden in the mountains and that taking it a gift might get Lukas the help he needs. Finding the dragon, he discovers that Siveth (voiced by Helena Bonham Carter) has no use for mankind. Yet, there is something about Lukas that draws her to him as she joins the journey even if Darius is disgusted by it all leaving with a sour word.

When the story between Siveth and Darius comes to light, Lukas now understands even more that King Razvan (Arturo Muselli) has brought such a rift and all because of so many terrible secrets. Lukas wants another path, one that does not make him worse than those he seeks to bring to justice. Especially since he has found a liking to the healer Oana (Fabienne Pilolini-Castle).

Now, thirty years later, the reason behind Lukas losing his family come down to a Kings fear but that isn’t going to stop Lukas, Darius and Siveth from exposing the truth!

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Kane as Lukas is a young man who loves his life on the farm. In one fleeting moment it is all taken away and he must come to terms with his anger and decide which works, revenge or uncovering the truth. Kane is conflicted but as the truths reveal themselves, the character of Lukas remembers who he is and how that will change his destiny forever.

Millson as Darius is an unhappy man who goes around finding a reason to wield his sword yet has the wonderful ability to ‘speak’ to the earth and the creatures. Lukas sees this ability and is filled with wonder by it. As his story unfolds, it is easy to see how this character became so unsatisfied with life and angry at his own past story.

Carter as Siveth is a dragon who has spent many years in solitude. After what has happened in her own life, she is guarded but knows a bad person when she smells one. Her relationship with Lukas is one of protection but, as with the others, she has her own story to tell and the unique perspective here is that Lukas, Darius and Siveth are connected!

Other cast include Ioachin Ciobanu as Messenger, Laur Dragan as The Councilor, James Longshore as Guard Captain and Edouard Philipponnat as Igor.

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment has just added an amazing film to their library and making it available for us to all experience and re-experience in our own home theaters. 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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MOVIES ANYWHERE gives viewers the ability to download the Movies Anywhere App. With that you can view films by downloading or streaming to your favorite device using a Digital Code. For more information on Movies Anywhere please visit http://www.MoviesAnywhere.com.

The Bonus Features include A New Legend – Take an intimate look at what sets this film apart from previous installments of the iconic DRAGONHEART franchise, and how filmmakers and cast came together to make this fantasy epic and Creating Siveth – Siveth is a dragon unlike any we’ve seen before. In this piece, we get a peak behind the curtain into Helena Bonham Carter’s process for breathing life into this unique character.

DRAGONHEART: Vengeance is a wonderful addition to the series in that it is another look at the story of dragons, which I am pretty partial to. The story does have remnants of the very first DRAGONHEART but it is subtle and reminds us all of why the film continues to hold a place in our hearts.

There is action, adventure, dragons, good vs. evil, loyalty, holding steadfast against those who seek to hurt others and a friendship that will break your heart. What more could we ask for in a film that is the reason large sofas, soft blankets and family cuddle time.

DRAGONHEART: Vengeance is the completion of al all-new five-movie collection already available. They include DRAGONHEART, DRAGONHEART: A New Beginning, DRAGONHEART 3: The Sorcerer’s Curse, DRAGONHEART: Battle for the Heartfire and now DRAGONHEART: Vengeance.

In the end – vengeance can darken even the noblest heart!

THE LAST FULL MEASURE is Stunning

The Last Full Measure cover

 

Jeri Jacquin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TRAUMA CENTER Brings the Chase

Trauma Center cover
Jeri Jacquin
Coming to select theatres and On Demand this week from director Matt Eskandari and Lionsgate comes a story of a chase to survive through the TRAUMA CENTER.
Madison Taylor (Nicky Whelan) is a struggling waitress trying to take care of her younger sister Emily (Catherine Davis) after their mother has passed. Being a bit protective doesn’t sit well with Emily and after an emotional talk, the young girl is rushed to the hospital with an asthma attack.
Making it even more difficult on Madison, she can’t stay with Emily having to get right back to her shift. On her way she runs into a man who in injured and gunfire begins to erupt all around her. Taking a bullet to the leg she is rescued by Det. Steve Wakes (Bruce Willis). Taking her into the hospital, Madison tells him what she vaguely remembers. With a bullet in her leg as the only evidence to a crime, Wakes hides her on another floor.
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Following close behind are two men Tull (Texas Battle) and Pierce (Tito Ortiz) and who want what she has! Chasing her through the hospital, they make it very clear that they won’t stop, ever. Madison now must use every survival instinct she has to get away and find Wakes to tell him what she has learned. One limping step at a time Madison knows that her time is running out, especially when Emily’s life is now in danger.
But don’t count Madison out just yet.
Whelan as Madison is struggling to be the adult of the family and when Emily becomes ill, she tries her best to keep it together. Once shot and running through the hospital for her life, Whelan gives her character a little shot of badassness when the survival instinct kicks in. Becoming smarter than the guys chasing her is entertaining as all get out. When they go after baby sis, Ms. Badass decides enough is enough and gets a little comfortable with some hard weaponry.
Battle as Tull just wants what Madison has and tries to be diplomatic about everything. He is the calm one in the duo trying to find a reasonable way to work it out. The problem is he underestimates his target and that’s just the beginning of his mistakes. Ortiz as Pierce is the muscle of the duo and he has no problem throwing Madison around or anyone else that gets in his way. The problem is all that rage gets in his way of problem solving.
Davis as Emily is everything a little sister is – stubborn, doesn’t listen to anyone let alone big sister and is in the wrong place at the wrong time. Siblings are a pain.
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Willis as Det. Wakes can’t believe that his department is not supporting him on the shooting of a fellow officer. Going over the scene many times, he has a suspicion as to what happened but no proof. Madison is about to change all that. Willis doesn’t play a huge role in the film but enough to keep me watching him. He has always played a good cop and this time is no exception.
Other cast include: Steve Guttenberg as Dr. Jones, Roman Mitichyan as CSS Roman, Tyler Jon Olson as Det. Tony Martin, Heather Johansen as Nurse Rachel, David Meadows as Dr. Mark and Sergio Rizzuto as Marcos.
Lionsgate is a global leader in motion picture production and distribution for theatres, television, home entertainment and more. Theatre franchises include THE HUNGER GAMES, and DIVERGENT along with JOHN WICK. Now, adding this film to its 16,000 motion picture and television titles you can see everything coming soon as well as available now at http://www.lionsgate.com.
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TRAUMA CENTER is a combination of corruption and the maze of a hospital (which in this case is a good thing for the main character Madison). There isn’t a lull in the action although, to be honest, the premise is fairly straight forward. That doesn’t take away from going along for the ride.
Director Eskandari is no stranger to taking on challenging films. His directorial debut came about in 2010 with the film VICTIM and GAME OF ASSASSINS (2013). I first became aware of his work with the 2017 film 12 FEET DEEP and made me totally leery of pools since. He currently has two films in post-production and it will be interesting to see where he takes us next.
In the end – the enemy is closer than you think!

Gumshoe Noir is Wrapped in MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN 

motherless cover

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

Tragedy and Family in BUCK RUN

bUCK rUN cover

Jeri Jacquin

From director Nick Frangione, Intuition Film and Tomorrowland Productions comes a story of a boy, a father and life when it comes to BUCK RUN.

Shaw (Nolan Lyons) lives in a small town with a very ill mother. One morning he discovers the worst thing a young man could, that his mother is gone. Not telling anyone for a day he tries to process but instead is sent by Officer Daniels (Jim Parrack) to live with his absentee father William (James Le Gros).

Since his parents separation, Shaw hasn’t seen much of William who seems to spend more time at the swap meet or with friend John (Kevin J. O’Connor). The Shaw and his father don’t seem to have too much to say to each other but the boy wants to know about the arrangements being made for his mother.

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If that isn’t enough to handle, Shaw has to deal with being the target of a very large bully who doesn’t care one wit about any of his problems. Time and time again it is as if Shaw is handed insult to injury with no true adult to turn to. Maneuvering his emotions and the task of almost having to be the adult in the relationship with his father, Shaw begins to understand what takes most of us a lifetime to come to terms with.

Being a kid sometimes means accepting human frailty no matter how deep it goes.

Lyons as Shaw is absolutely stunning in this role. He is a young man clearly in the middle of adult problems and death starting the ball rolling. This young actor gives us everything we would expect and so very much more. Shaw is a complex character (just being a teen is the beginning) who is forced to navigate through the toxic environment created by those around him. It is amazing how quickly I wanted to embrace Shaw but found myself realizing that at his young age he does what we all tend to do, roll with the punches and accept.

Le Gros as William is a man with his own emotional issues and it becomes quickly clear that Shaw inherited those same qualities. Keeping things locked away and excusing it all when those feelings start to bubble to the top, William hides in the forest and shoots his problems away. Whether through heredity or the environment around him, Le Gros portrays a man who has learned that problems don’t get put on Facebook and you suck it up and move on. What a lesson there is in these two characters.

Yoder as Kevin is trying to be a good friend to William but even that relationship hits a bump in the road when a truth surfaces. Yoder is an amazing actor to begin with so I expect everything I saw in this performance and applauded. Parrack as Officer Daniels tries, in his own way, to keep an eye on Shaw but as we see with the men in this film, it’s easy to nod that all is well and not face the reality of what this boy is going through.

Other cast include Amy Hargreaves as Karen, Alicia Goranson as Misty, Rod Luzzi as Alan Davis, Marcin Paluch as Mike, Roy Wilson as Dan, Aaron Marcus as Ned, Isaac Conner as Walt, Robert Frangione as Charlie and the ever amazing Angus Macfadyen as Angus Ford.

BUCK RUN is about as emotional as a film can get but that emotion comes from the audiences’ reaction to Shaw. The story is such that I wanted to scream at the screen for someone, anyone to have an emotional reaction to what is happening to the boy. There is where the film gets you, the intensity of hoping that someone up on the screen will save him. Remember how I spoke about acceptance? Well, you will find yourself accepting the result whether you like it or not.

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The fact is that BUCK RUN has layer after layer of emotion but they are buried in the family history of the family. There is love but it is not open, there is compassion but its hidden by generations of ‘suck it up’ and there is concern but it’s hidden under the leaves of a town stuck in its own beliefs and whoa be an outsider.

Having come from a small town in Illinois, I found myself slowly beginning to understand the creatures of habit in BUCK RUN’s town. There is a sense of things stuck in time and emotional traditions that people will hold on to until they are dust. There is no suggestion of hijacking emotions as being right or wrong – it just is.

I had the chance to interview director Frangione and discovered first of all that he has an amazing sense of humor which I appreciate. He also told an audience at the San Diego International Film Festival this past weekend that he came from a small town like the one in the film. He was drawn to the story because of its complexities and I can honestly say he captured them all in the film. I congratulated him on the cast because each one brought a uniqueness to the story.

It is dark, it is tense and between the characters, the location and the cinematography, Frangione understood all of those elements to bring BUCK RUN to its conclusion. It may not be the one we want for Shaw but it is one that we will accept so what does that say about us?

In the end – a boy, his father and things that are never said.

Disney Continues the Story of MALEFICENT: Mistress of Evil

Maleficent cover
Jeri Jacquin
Coming to theatres this Friday from director Joachim Ronning and Walt Disney Pictures to continue the story of MALEFICENT: Mistress of Evil.
Aurora (Elle Fanning) is now Queen of the Moor, doing her daily duties and, on this day, being proposed to by Prince Phillip (Harris Dickinson). She and Phillip are thrilled until they both realize that they must tell their respective parents. Phillip rides off to talk with his mother Queen Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer) and father King John (Robert Lindsey).
Diaval (Sam Riley) over hears the proposal and flies off to forewarn Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) who doesn’t take the news very well. Letting Aurora know how she feels, it is the young woman that pleads with the woman who has been her mother to go to the castle and meet Phillips parents. Wanting her happiness, Maleficent begrudgingly agrees.
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The town is on high alert when Aurora, Maleficent and Diaval arrive at the castle gate. Being introduced to the King and Queen, they all sit down to dinner. Almost immediately there is a bit of shade being thrown by the Queen towards Maleficent bringing up the past. Aurora senses it and tries her best to keep the fae calm. Eventually a line is crossed and Maleficent stretches her wings. When the King falls to the ground, the Queen screams out that a curse has been placed on him.
Not willing to wait around for the guards, Maleficent commands Aurora to join her but when that doesn’t happen, she swiftly flies away. Waiting on the roof is Gerda (Jenn Murray) who sends a buckshot into Maleficent. Falling into the sea she begins to sink and unexpectedly rescued by fae Conall (Chitwetel Ejiofor) who takes her to a place where other fae are in hiding. He tells her things she never knew and meets another hot headed fae Borra (Ed Skrein).
The Queen prepares for war with secrets beneath the castle and Maleficent realizes that her Moor is under attack. Trying to save what she can, it is Conall that is now wounded. Not wanting to wait any longer, the Queen decides it’s time for a wedding but Aurora feels as if she is being forced to change.
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As the castle prepares, a secret is unleashed on the fae in a battle that can only be won by the total destruction of one side or the other. It is time for secrets to end and an understanding between human and fae to come forward before everything each side holds dear is destroyed.
Jolie as Maleficent returns to a role she has made truly her own. In this film she has a difficult time seeing her ‘beastie’ grow into a woman. Wanting her to stay in the Moor is everything and Prince Phillip is what stands in the way. In this film the character discovers more about her own roots than she ever knew before but still must make decisions that are painful. Jolie is entertaining, tries to be as good as she can but when push comes to Queen-shoving, Maleficent will do whatever it takes to save those she loves.
Fanning as Aurora has grown into a young woman who is ready, after five years, to finally wed the man she loves. Torn between the family she is going to marry into and the family she already has, the struggle is before her when Maleficent loses her temper. Being a smart young woman, Aurora knows that something isn’t quite right and goes about finding the truth that is going to hurt those she loves. Fanning has given Aurora a very strong sense of herself and, like Maleficent, gives her character some bite when necessary.
Pfeiffer as Queen Ingrith is just about as wicked as they come who doesn’t really have a reason other than she’s been unhappy for far too long. There is a crazy here that makes Maleficent look like a saint because the Queen is being devious, manipulative and hurts those that don’t deserve it in a very short period of time. Pfeiffer gives it everything she’s got with every evil look she can muster but she looks fabulous in the tiaras!
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Dickinson as Prince Phillip is a young man in love with a girl who runs barefoot on the Moor. He wants to bring both kingdoms together to live in peace but can’t seem to get anyone to agree on how to make that happen. With Aurora he knows they can work together but what he doesn’t know is that forces are against him. Riley as Diaval wants Aurora to be happy but also wants Maleficent to keep her cool and he is the one caught in between the ladies.
Ejiofor as Conall is a fae who is a lot like Prince Phillip in that all he wants for his people is peace and the ability to not have to hide away in a cave. He doesn’t want his people to fear humans and hopes Maleficent can be the conduit for that to happen. Skrein as Borra is a bit like Maleficent in that he is full of rage towards humans and can only see attacking them as an answer to what separates them.
Other cast include Juno Temple as Thistlewit, Imelda Staunton as Knotgrass, Warwick Davis as Lickspittle, Lesley Manville as Flittle, Miyavi as Udo, Judith Shekoni as Shrike and Alex Martin as Tundra.
MALEFICENT: Mistress of Evil is a bit of a stretch in the title. The story of Aurora and Phillip takes another step with Maleficent dragging her feet all the way. Funny thing is, she had every right to do it considering the underhandedness and shade thrown by Phillip’s mother the Queen. Jab after jab I’m surprised that it took so long for the green mist and red eyes to appear! Immediately I was on Maleficent’s side and cheered her on the entire film.
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That being said, this is totally a Disney movie from start to finish. It has love, family, doing what’s right no matter what the cost and it is all in a beautiful castle setting. I do think that there seemed to be a bit more violence than I was prepared for favoring one side over the other. Of course the kid in me (and it’s still there where Disney is concerned) loves the idea of the Moors filled with creatures of all kinds bringing the silly, cute and loyal to the surroundings.
Everyone seemed to have a wonderful time throughout the film. That’s important because even though there are parts that are intense, it is still about family, friendship, knowing who you are and being ready to defend those that might be defenseless. As I said, all Disney qualities!
In the end – go beyond the fairy tale!

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