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Paolo Sorrentino

HBO Brings an Amazing Series with THE YOUNG POPE to Bluray

Young Pope Bluray

 

Jeri Jacquin

Coming in June on Bluray and Digital HD from HBO Home Entertainment is a mind blowing limited series from creator/director Paolo Sorrentino and THE YOUNG POPE.

Lenny Belardo (Jude Law) is now the first American Pope choosing the name Pius XIII. Immediately he begins making changes the likes of which the Vatican and its priests have never seen. Upset that he was not chosen as Pope is Archbishop Spencer (James Cromwell), his angers extends to Lenny by cutting him off.

Bringing in the big guns, Lenny chooses Sister Mary (Diane Keaton), the nun who took care of him when his parents left him at the orphanage. Knowing no one would get to him without dealing with Sister Mary, Cardinal Secretary of State Vioello (Silvio Orlando) immediately knows choosing Lenny Belardo as Pope could cost them all.

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From his first speech however, everyone within ear shot knows that this is a Pope who isn’t going to be controlled by anyone. Immediately Lenny wants to know who is with him and more importantly, who is against him. That’s when Vioello tries to call in those who would want to control Lenny.

Of course when it all is brought to Lenny’s attention, he calmly tells Vioello that excommunication is a card he has no problem playing. But the games are not over as a woman named Esther (Ludivine Sagnier) is brought in to work closely with the Pope as they all watch to see if a sex scandal can be created to rock the Vatican.

It is clear quickly that Vioello is out of ideas as Lenny also makes it clear that he knows what everyone is up to and every dirty little secret they each have. Playing another dangerous game, Lenny makes demands of the Italian Prime Minister that could bring problems for the politician.

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But closer to Lenny is his friend Cardinal Dussollier (Scott Shepherd) and in one fell swoop, the new Pope asks in a demanding way that he point out all those incoming priests who do not follow the rules both in celibacy and homosexuality. In those rules come shocks that will cause a surprising agreement between two enemies.

A trip to Africa the Pope wants to see the works of a Sister Antonia only to discover secrets and a confession that goes haywire. In New York, Archbishop Kurtwell (Guy Boyd) has agreed to provide letters written by Lenny that end up only helping the new Pope’s cause sending the blackmailer to a colder place than he could have imagined.

In San Marco as the Basilica, after spending his time staying out of the limelight, Pope Pius XIII makes a grand gesture showing his face to followers. Believing his sees the face of the parents he has longed to find in the crowd, it leads to a finale that is spectacular!

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Law as Pope Pius XIII is jaw dropping in every scene and in every frame. I have to say that I was completely riveted by everything about his performance. Seriously, this series just sends one wtf moment after another and I couldn’t be more pleased about that. It is difficult to find a storyline that is completely original and mind blowing AND get an actor to carry it but with Law as Lenny – epicness complete! This character is intense and doesn’t apologize for any of it, how can you not love that?

Keaton as Sister Mary is just a blast to watch as well. She is a no-nonsense and ‘don’t let this habit fool you’ kind of nun who I would hang out with in a heart beat. Keaton continues to surprise me in her role choices and as Sister Mary I cheered every time someone came up against her.

Orlando as Vioello puts the slap on trying to get Lenny removed and being totally creative about it. Keeping calm to his face, it is when those robes are swaying down the halls of the Vatican that you can see the wheels turning. Always appearing humble, Orlando is always on his toes and looking for any way to crack the Pope.

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Cromwell as Archbishop Spencer stands tall and defiant against Lenny being chosen as the Pope. Trying to keep his divine composure, he makes it clear that a mistake has been made and he isn’t about to help make Lenny’s new post easier. I love this role for Cromwell but then again I pretty much love every role he has played. This is a role filled with bitterness and even rage of the highest kind.

Other cast include Cecile de France as Sofia, Toni Bertorelli as Cardinal Caltanissetta, Andre Gregory as Elmore Coen, Rayna Tharani as Maribeth, Tony Plana as Carlos Garcia, Gianluca Guidi as Father Federico Amatucci, Ignazio Oliva as Father Valente, Biagio Forestieri as Peter, Ramon Garcia as Cardinal Aguirre and Monica Cetti as Contessa Meraviglia.

HBO Home Entertainment has an extensive array of critically-acclaimed and groundbreaking programs found on Bluray, DVD and Digital HD. They have provided viewers with some of the most amazing programs with huge fan bases that include the shows True Blood, Sex and the City, The Sopranos, True Detectives, The Wire, Entourage and Game of Thrones. Launched in 1984, HBO is world wide in viewed entertainment in more than 70 territories around the world! For more of what they have to offer please visit www.hbo.com.

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THE YOUNG POPE is one of the most original series I have seen in a long time. What is even more amazing is that originality is only the tip of what this series brings. The storyline is fused with twists and turns that only Lenny sees coming which means all eyes are on him.

Another fascination I had with the series is the stunning visuals that are mixed with an ethereal feeling and moments where I could not imagine where it all would lead. Between the visuals and Law, Keaton, Orlando and Cromwell not missing a beat it is clear that THE POPE is heavenly perfection.

The Bluray includes the Special Features of The Making of THE YOUNG POPE, An Invitation to the Set and Inside the Episodes. The three disc set includes six hundred minutes of what I am calling total epicness of a series that brings shock and awe to another level.

In the end – his religion is revolution!

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YOUTH Brings Honesty to This Life!

Youth

 

Jeri Jacquin

On Bluray this week from director/writer Paolo Sorrentino and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment comes the beauty of YOUTH.

Best friends Fred Ballinger (Michael Caine) and Mick Boyle (Harvey Keitel) are on vacation in the Swiss Alps. Staying at a resort Fred is a composer who is now retired and Mick is a filmmaker trying to create a visual masterpiece.

Daughter Lena Ballinger (Rachel Weisz) joins her father to drop news that her husband Julian has left her for a pop star. That doesn’t surprise Fred, nor does it surprise Mick who is Julian’s father! Being her father’s assistant keeps Lena busy but not busy enough to tell her father exactly how she is feeling about her upbringing and her life in general.

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Fred has also been asked to perform for the Queen and to write a book for the French. Both of these he turns down demanding to be left alone hanging on to the feeling that he is retired. When cornered on why, Fred finally let’s loose his reasons which move his daughter greatly.

Actor Jimmy Tree (Paul Dano) is also there taking in the characters all around him. Jimmy is frustrated that people only remember his film playing a robot and wants to be known for more. He befriends Fred and tries to get him to share about himself.

Each person at the spa come to terms with their life, whether good or bad, trying to remember that there is always a future when you wake up every day.

Caine as Fred is absolutely stunning in this role. All the pain and sadness reside not only in what he says, but in those moments where he is alone remembering. Watching his personal story unfold was a combination of heartbreaking and heartwarming. Talk about the difficulties of emotional duality! Caine continues, even now, to surprise and delight me with every role he takes. There is nothing common or repetitive in his performances and in YOUTH he is breathtaking.

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Keitel as Mick is a man working with a crew of writers to come up with a script that will show his ability to bring a great film to screen. It isn’t until he comes face to face with who he thinks will star in his film, Brenda Morel that he gets a punch in the verbal face with the reality of how he is seen in Hollywood. The scenes with Caine and their conversations are just a pure joy to watch.

Weisz as daughter Lena is going through her own life crisis when husband Julian seems to prefer the company of a young pop star. Dedicating her life to being her father’s assistant makes it difficult to deal with him about how this is all affecting her life. Weisz is still stunning in both performance and beauty.

Dano as Tree once again reaffirms that this actor brings so much to film that has yet to be noticed. The first performance I saw Dano in was LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE in 2006 and I not only have made sure to see his previous work but continue to follow everything he has done since. From THERE WILL BE BLOOD to PRISONERS to 12 YEARS A SLAVE, Dano delivers solid performances that, in my opinion, need much more recognition. I loved watching his performance of Jimmy Tree and although stunned during one scene I shouldn’t have been – he is a treasure.

Two characters of note: Jane Fonda as Brenda Morel has a scene with Harvey Keitel that just rattled my brain. She has the verbal strength of ten men when she takes on Mick Boyle straightening him out about who owes who. The other performance is that of Luna Mijovic as the Young Masseuse. I can’t even explain what drew me to be fascinated by her but then again perhaps that was the point. She is amazing.

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Other cast include: Ian Attard as the 1st Queens Emissary, Adam Smith as the 2nd Queens Emissary, Madalina Diana Ghenea as Miss Universe, Nate Dern as Funny Screenwriter, Alex Beckett as Bearded Screenwriter, Mark Gessner as Shy Screenwriter, Tom Lipinski as Screenwriter in Love, Chloe Pirrie as Girl Screenwriter, Luna Zimic Mijovic as the Masseuse and Jane Fonda as Brenda Morel.

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment is amazing to once again bring just what fans want for their home library. Continually bringing new entertainment content for everyone’s media library, their format includes DVD, Bluray, and Digital HD. To discover more of what they have to offer please visit www.foxconnect.com.

TUBS OF POPCORN: I give YOUTH four and a half tubs of popcorn out of five. Not only are these performances that awards are made of but stunningly portrayed. Receiving an Academy Award Nomination is not a surprise to me what so ever.

The cinematography is ethereal, stunning, and absolutely beautiful and has a day dream quality to it that completely melds with the storyline. It is the performances of Caine, Keitel, Weisz and Dano who are not only a joy to watch but are captivating in the characters they portray.

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YOUTH garnered Jane Fonda a Golden Globe nomination. David Lang’s music composition of “Simple Song” also received a Golden Globe nomination as well as a nomination for an Academy Award.

The Bluray includes the Special Features of: Featurette of Michael Caine, Featurette of Paolo Sorrentino, Featurette of the cast, Featurette of the cast, music and sound, The Essence of Youth, 24-image gallery and Theatrical trailer.

In the end – youth isn’t wasted on anyone!

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