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Michelle Monaghan

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.

 

 

PATRIOTS DAY is a Fantastic Beginning to 2017!

patriots

 

Jeri Jacquin

In theatres this Friday from writer/director Peter Berg and CBS Films is an intense look a time that once again changed America in 2013 with PATRIOTS DAY.

Tommy Saunders (Mark Wahlberg) is an officer with the Boston Police Department who tends to irritate his superiors. On this day, Saunders is sent to secure the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Calling wife Carol (Michelle Monaghan) for some extra knee support, he knows its going to be a long day.

But in an instant the United States held its breath as a bomb explodes at the finish line. No one is really sure exactly what happened until a second bomb explodes soon after. Immediately the police and civilians began to help the injured.

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Commissioner Ed Davis (John Goodman), Special Agent Richard LesLauriers (Kevin Bacon) and Governor Deval Patrick (Michael Beach) create a large taskforce in a warehouse to piece together who is responsible for the terrorist act. Saunders makes sure that he is a part of helping sharing his knowledge with the taskforce.

The city cameras capture Tamerian (Themo Melikidze) and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (Alex Wolff) as responsible for the terrorist act. On the run they are headed for New York and change vehicles driven by unsuspecting Dun Meng (Jimmy O. Yang). Taken hostage, Dun must find a way to get away from the brothers.

All the law enforcement involved are not about to let these men get away and drop a net on the city. When they are finally cornered it is the City of Boston that closes ranks to stop any more acts of terror.

Nothing will stop the search!

Wahlberg as Saunders once again proves why director Peter Berg turns to this actor when he wants not only a solid performance but a riveting one. Wahlberg gives a portrayal that audiences relate to filled with frailties and a strength mixed with knowing what is right and what is needed. I have always enjoyed that with Wahlberg’s performances in films like this, especially true stories of the human spirit. DEEPWATER HORIZON, released only a few months ago in 2016, had these same wonderful qualities.

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Bacon as Special Agent LesLauriers keeps a straight face and his mind on the task at hand. He doesn’t tolerate anything less than getting the job done and I like Bacon’s portrayal. Goodman as Commissioner Davis is where he needs to be and calls in all resources to find the terrorist responsible for hurting American citizens.

Yang as Dun Meng gives an amazing performance as the young man who comes face to face with the terrorists. Keeping his cool in a situation where I’m sure I wouldn’t be able to is nothing short of amazing.

Melikidze and Wolff as the Tsarnaev brothers is a difficult role to play yet these two actors did not hesitate to do it. Giving the audience insight to their behavior is crucial to this film and Melikidze and Wolff made it possible.

Other cast include Rhet Kidd as Harrold, Christopher O’Shea as Patrick Downes, Rachel Brosnahan as Jessica Kensky, Jake Picking as Sean Collier, Lana Condor as Li, Melissa Benoist as Katherine Russell, and J.K. Simmons as Sgt. Jeffrey Pugliese.

Also Adam Trese as John Bradshaw, Hampton Fluker as James Williams, Cara O’Connell as Kara, Dustin Tucker as Steve Woolfenden, Lucas Thor Kelly as Leo Woolfenden, Paige MacLean as Lisa Murphy and Brandon Wahlberg as Officer Dixon.

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TUBS OF POPCORN: I give PATRIOTS DAY four and a half tubs of popcorn out of five. Obviously I am a fan of writer/director Peter Berg but let me tell you that twice in six months he has told the story of horrendous events with people of extreme valor. That is why both films made it to number 5 on my Top Ten list of 2016.

PATRIOTS DAY is a striking insight to an event that today still brings a heavy heart to Americans. What this film does is explain how it happened, how a city and law enforcement came together and the strength of every individual part of that day in 2013. This is an extremely large cast and I truly wish I could give a shout out to every person who was part of portraying the event.

I encourage everyone to put this film on their ‘must-see’ list for the weekend. Gather up family and friends, everyone in law enforcement, doctors, nurses, and runner – yes everyone and see PATRIOTS DAY.

In the end – this is the story of the world’s greatest manhunt with true heroes and true strength!

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