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DORA and the LOST CITY OF GOLD is Fun for Families

Dora cover

 

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres this Friday from director James Bobin and Paramount Pictures is the story of a young girl and adventures with DORA AND THE LOST CITY OF GOLD.

Dora (Isabela Moner) is a young girl who lives with her parents Elena (Eva Longoria) and Cole (Michael Pena) in the jungle. Living their most of her life she loved sharing adventures with her cousin Diego (Jeff Wahlberg) when he visited. Her parents were always exploring and especially now as they feel they are closer to finding a lost Inca civilization. Dora is excited but that fades fast when she learns that Mom and Dad are sending her to cousin Diego believing it is time for her to have the high school experience.

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Looking at it as an adventure, Dora is not happy about leaving behind her monkey friend Boots (voiced by Danny Trejo) but looks forward to what could happen next. Diego doesn’t know what to make of his cousin and the cheeriness that seems to follow her everywhere especially when she seems to know a little more than a lot of her classmates. It is irritating to one particular classmate, Sammy (Madeleine Madden) but not so much for Randy (Nicholas Coombe).

Dora spends her time trying to fit in and visiting with family and especially grandmother Valerie (Adriana Barraza). Staying in touch with Mom and Dad through calls and mapping, it makes her feel like she is part of it all. Then, the phone calls suddenly stop and Dora begins to investigate why landing her, Diego, Sammy and Randy back in the jungle with Alejandro (Eugenio Derbez) who is also looking for her parents. But there are people chasing them and Dora knows only one thing – she must find her parents and quickly.

No one else knows the jungle better than Dora the explorer!

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Moner as Dora is cheerful, inquisitive, blunt and very funny and that’s just the beginning. This is a character that absolutely reaches out to children and that is the whole point of the film that came from an animated show. There is definitely culture shock on the part of Dora who goes from a free spirited, jungle roaming and tutored by her professor parent’s kid to a pavement walking high school where there are all kinds of people who don’t think the way she does. This is a good film to address both of those issue all while exploring and having lots of giggles.

Wahlberg as Diego is irritated with his cousin at first because he is instantly knows from the moment she lands in California that she is going to have trouble fitting in. He tries to tell her how to make that happen but Dora believes in the philosophy of being herself. He is a good cousin and remembers what it was like in the jungle and that helps Dora a lot. Madden as Sammy is a girl who clearly has self-esteem issues while masking it with a superiority that is way more irritating than the happy-go-lucky Dora.

One adventure might change all that right? Coombe as Randy likes Dora just the way she is with her outgoing personality, her knowledge of the stars and pretty much everything else she can do that most girls in high school don’t. He may be afraid on their adventure but he always manages to do the right thing by Dora’s side.

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Derbez as Alejandro wants to help Dora find her parents and the lost Inca city. He’s a little bumbly which amuses Dora but he has a secret as well that she and the rest are unaware of. Derbez looks like he’s having a good time in the film. Barraza as Grandmother Valerie is supportive of Dora and sees that even though she may be a little different, it’s no reason not to always do what’s right even if it is unpopular.

Longoria as Elena wants her daughter to make friends and go off to school to learn more about the world outside the jungle. She absolutely nails the mother role and she does so with humor. Pena as Cole might be wrapped up in his work but he always makes time to talk with Dora about what they are doing and what discoveries they make. That’s a good Dad right there folks!

Trejo gets to be a blue friend to Dora and del Toro gets the chance to be a fox who isn’t as smart as he thinks!

Other cast include Madelyn Miranda as Young Dora, Malachi Barton as Young Diego, Temuera Morrison as Powell, Pai Miller as Mami, Q’orianka Kilcher as Inca Princess Kawillaka, Isela Vega as Old Womanand Benicio del Toro as the voice of Swiper the Fox.

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DORA AND THE LOST CITY OF GOLD is definetly a film that families can go see together just to have a lot of fun, a little bit of adventure and learn about family and friendship. The adventure is action packed and well done and there are a few moments of ‘Dora’isms’ that Mom’s and Dad’s will get a good chuckle out of. This is the type of film that you buy a huge tub of popcorn and a drink to share with everyone and just enjoy the ride.

I took my granddaughter who is four to see the film and she loved it and there were children as old as twelve also in attendance and they enjoyed it just as much. The laughing was constant and it was very plain to see that everyone in the theatre was having a good time. The film is a little over an hour and a half which means it isn’t taxing for the smaller children but enough time for the characters to be developed and a story that is easy to follow.

In the end – unleash your wild side!

 

 

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ROCKETMAN Takes Off into the Stratosphere

Rocketman

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres from director Dexter Fletcher and Paramount Pictures comes a ride lead by a ROCKETMAN.

Reginald Dwight is a young music prodigy who lives with a father Stanley (Steven Mackintosh) who has no heart for the boy and mother Sheila (Bryce Dallas Howard) who only has a heart for herself. Supporting him is Grandmother Ivy (Gemma Jones) who sees musical potential in the boy.

From a music conservatory to playing at the local bar, Reggie (Taron Egerton) is still trying to figure out this thing called life. Then he meets Ray (Charlie Rowe) who introduces him to songwriter Bernie Taupin (Jamie Bell) and magic happens.

Ray and music man Dick James (Stephen Graham) send the newly renamed Elton John out on the road including a show at the Troubadour in California. Bernie is thrilled with their windfall but Elton is still trying to figure it all out.

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Help comes in the presence of John Reid (Richard Madden) who sweeps Elton off his feet. Reid also ingratiated himself into the performers life and home which doesn’t sit well with everyone.

In the meantime the world has become his oyster with sold out performances that allow him to be as wild as he wants. Then, success turns sour as Elton finds himself in the world of drugs, alcohol and the past turn him inside out.

There comes a time when you either ignore the world crashing around you or change the direction of life.

Egerton as Elton John is absolutely stunning. He is in it from beginning to end and by that I mean playing the life of a legend that, for the most part, isn’t pretty. Whether by his own hand or the craziness that comes with fame, Edgerton portrays the naïve, sensitive, longing and angry side of Elton John. He is mesmerizing to watch and cements his talent as an actor as well as a singer.

Bell as Taupin is thrilled to be working with Elton and takes off along side his friend with the sparkle and thrill of a kid. It doesn’t take long for Taupin realizes that he, and the man he considers a brother, is headed for disaster. Bell gives his performance everything filled with friendship, loyalty and a bit of tough love. I truly enjoyed Bell’s performance as it was truly heartfelt and strong.

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Mackintosh as father Stanley seems to have an almost distain for his son and it is the young Reginald who feels every piece of that. Even as the young Reginald grows up, the shadow of that relationship is with him daily. Howard as Sheila is a woman who clearly isn’t happy in marriage or motherhood. When there are moments of motherly love and Reginald grabs onto it, he is almost instantly swatted away with added pain.

Madden as Reid is a piece of work for sure. He gives Elton hope that he deserves to be loved but it comes at such a high and debilitating cost. Jones as Ivy is the sole hope for young Reginald, she is strong, compassionate and keenly aware of the situation with Reginald’s parents.

Other cast include: Jason Pennycooke as Wilson, Jimmy Vee as Arthur, Rachel Muldoon as Kiki Dee, Celinde Schoenmaker as Renate Blauel and Tate Donovan as Doug Weston.

ROCKETMAN is a film that is to be experienced on so many levels. Yes, it is filled with Elton John’s music and the placement of each memorable song is perfection. The choreography is thrilling to watch and the moments in the story where his life is seen through song and dance is toe tapping and engaging.

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I also have to say that there were moments that kleenex is needed. Lets be honest, John’s life as we are shown is only moments of heartbreak that are hidden with music, flashy outfits and smiles induced by drugs and alcohol. Believing the worst in himself by the stinging comments of those who profess to love him, if your heart doesn’t feel it on the screen then might I suggest hanging out with Sheila and Stanley!

It must also be said that Egerton’s outrageous and colorful performance is everything for this film. He had the audience laughing at times, sniffling a lot, and toe tapping if not trying to sing out loud to the songs we all know so well.

This is a film that brings us everything, tells us the tale of an icon and how thoroughly lucky that he went beyond the yellow brick road to stay with us. Elton John is someone in my own life who seemed to sing the words filled with emotion that floated around in my own head. Taupin didn’t hesitate to bring the words that we have been singing for the past twenty-five plus years.

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From Sacrifice, Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word, Your Song, Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me, I’m Still Standing, Candle in the Wind, Daniel, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and my favorite, I Want Love.

For those of us who love Elton John, ROCKETMAN is the film that embraces the reasons why and lets us all into a life that explains so very much.

In the end – the only way to tell his story is to live his fantasy!

Las Vegas Once Again Hosts CINEMACON 2018

Cinemacon 2018

Jeri Jacquin

Every year I look forward to one of the most amazing events that the city of Las Vegas hosts and this year was no exception as CINEMACON 2018 brings the best in what the studios have to offer theater owners.

CINEMACON is a fascinating gathering of people who have the chance to be a part of what is up and coming by seeing the trade show and demonstrations of all things that make their way into theatres. From the latest innovations in theater sound to the eye catching and stunning capabilities of the next generation of projection equipment, CINEMACON is a feast for those of us who love everything that goes behind and in front of the big screen.

Also part of CINEMACON is the anticipated presentations by the studios that come each year to share with theater owners what will be coming by way of entertainment for movie lovers of all kinds. For four days, the excitement builds with each presentation and the studios do not disappoint.

VENOM

The studios of SONY begins the four day event with their slate of films that include SUPERFLY with Trevor Jackson and Jason Mitchell, SICARIO: Day of the Soldado with Benicio Del Toro, THE EQUALIZER 2, WHITE BOY RICK with Matthew McConaughey and Jeff Robinov, the highly anticipated VENOM with Tom Hardy and Michelle Williams, THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER’S WEB with the Queen herself Claire Foy and Fede Alvarez, SPIDER-MAN: Into the Spider-Verse, HOLMES AND WATSON with the beloved Will Ferrell breaking out into song and finally, MISS BALA with Gina Rodriguez and Anthony Mackie due in theaters January 25, 2019.

On day two, Disney brings in their line up that includes many live action stories. Also celebrating the 10 year anniversary for Marvel Studios beginning with IRON MAN, it is 14.8 billion dollars later and here we are with AVENGERS: Infinity War. Also coming to theaters is ANT MAN and the WASP bringing Paul Rudd back to his tiny role in a huge film. Disney also announced that Brie Larson is the new CAPTAIN MARVEL with a story set in the 90’s and will be on the big screen in March 2019.

The live action CHRISTOPHER ROBIN stars Ewan McGregor as Christopher all grown up and forgetting what it is like to be a child but with the help of some old friends he might just remember once again. THE NUTCRACKER AND THE FOUR REALMS brings McKenzie Foy of TWILIGHT fame now playing Clara. Rounding out the cast is Morgan Freeman, Kiera Knightely and Helen Mirren.

This December is the return of a beloved nanny as Emily Blunt dons the cap and umbrella for MARY POPPINS RETURNS. Jane and Michael are now grown and seem to be in need of help that only Mary Poppins can provide. Look to see a few familiar faces in the cast as well as we all travel once again to the house on Cherry Tree Lane!

Tim Burton is bringing a live action DUMBO to the 2019 Disney slate starring Danny DeVito, Michael Keaton, Colin Farrell and Eva Green among others to tell the story of an elephant who can fly. ALADDIN is Guy Ritchie’s vision of the live action story of a peasant from Agraba who meets a princess looking for more excitement in her life and Will Smith is the Genie.

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From Pixar and Disney Animation comes the one film I have been waiting for. Writer and director Brad Bird brings a family of supers back to fight for us all once again as INCREDIBLES 2 will fill theater seats this summer on June 15. Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter and Samuel L. Jackson returns as Frozone! Wait until you see what Jack-Jack has been up to!

WRECK IT RALPH 2: Ralph Breaks the Internet comes swinging into theaters for the whole family this fall and you can be sure that the story will be as epic as the first.

Lucas Films brings the next film with the anticipated SOLO: A Star Wars Story this May. Ron Howard along with Lawrence and John Kasdan bring the story of our favorite scruffy-looking-nerf-herder to life. Hopefully we will get all the answers to Han Solo’s life and with Ron Howard at the helm I am absolutely looking forward to the film.

The future of Disney includes director Kenneth Branagh’s telling of the Eoin Coifer book ARTEMIS FOWL starring Dame Judy Dench, Josh Gad and Lara McDonnell. Anna and Elsa return in FROZEN 2 in the fall of 2019 and finally THE LION KING will bring the return of James Earl Jones as Mufasa to this live action film.

WARNER BROS. pictures bring Will Arnett out to introduce their coming films starting with AQUAMAN as Jason Mamoa, Amber Heard and Patrick Wilson join director James Wan to talk about the underwater thrill ride to come. Also announced is the coming of SHAZAM and the next installment of WONDER WOMAN.

Melissa McCarthy

Melissa McCarthy is set to be the LIFE OF THE PARTY hitting theaters May 11th, OCEANS 8 brings its bevy of beauties with Sandra Bullock at the helm, TAG has Ed Helm, Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner, Jake Johnson and Hannibal Buress playing the adult version of the game and Jason Statham prepares for what swims big in the water with THE MEG. If frights are what you are looking for then this fall beware of THE NUN or perhaps you’d like something a little more clownish with the return of IT: Chapter 2 due in theaters September 2019.

In animation, Arnett was more than happy to talk about the upcoming TEEN TITAN GO! TO THE MOVIES and for more animated fun, Channing Tatum, Zendaya and Common bring SMALL FOOT to families.

CRAZY RICH ASIANS is a film based on the best selling novel and it proves that perspective mother-in-laws are pretty much the same all over the world. Andy Serkis brings the live action story of MOWGLI with the voices of Cate Blanchett, Benedict Cumberbatch and Matthew Rhys. Bradley Cooper retells A STAR IS BORN starring himself and Lady GaGa.

FANTASTIC BEASTS: The Crimes of Grindelwald starring Eddie Redmayne, Jude Law and Johnny Depp is going to make the month of November one of the most anticipated. Newt Scamander is back at Hogwarts and once again there is trouble afoot in the wizarding world. That’s all I need to say because the line around the theater is going to be endless!

The studio STX brings Chairman Adam Fogelson center stage to introduce a film I am excited to see with ADRIFT starring Shailene Woodley and Sam Claflin coming this June. On the water two people in love find that the elements aren’t always on their side. PEPPERMIND with Jennifer Garner is about a Mother who refuses to see injustice go unpunished, SECOND ACT has Jennifer Lopez back on the screen as a woman looking to change her life one more time.

BRADLEY COOPER

My granddaughter is thrilled to know that UGLY DOLLS will be making its debut May of 2019 and Melissa McCarthy with husband Ben Falcone are part of the human-puppet experience with the HAPPY TIME MURDERS.

Mark Wahlberg and Peter Berg are together again bringing Lauren Cohan and Ronda Rousey along for the action thriller MILE 22. It is clear that Wahlberg and Berg have a partnership that makes for fantastic story telling as they succeeded in showing us just that with last years films DEEPWATER HORIZON and PATRIOTS DAY.

Entertainment Studios will be bringing the animated feature ANIMAL CRACKERS to the entire family voiced by John Krazinski, Emily Blunt, Danny DeVito and Sylvester Stallone. Also GOD BLESS THIS BROKEN ROAD and BOSS LEVEL with Mel Gibson. Finally, the return of a guilty pleasure as the sharks have another go at 47 METERS DOWN 2.

UNIVERSAL PICTURES brings Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish together for a little NIGHT SCHOOL. Hart also says he will be returning as Snowball in SNOWBALL: THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS 2. Founder of Illumination Chris Meledandri promises the return of our favorite overhaul wearing little people in MINIONS RETURN and another SING film. Benedict Cumberbatch will be the voice of THE GRINCH in this telling of his life again.

Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy and director Damien Chazelle bring the story of Neil Armstrong in the film FIRST MAN. Jack Black, Eli Roth and Cate Blanchett bring the Amblin Entertainment film THE HOUSE WITH THE CLOCK IN ITS WALLS. It looks to be quite the story! Director Gerard McMurray return to bring another Fourth of July chapter of THE FIRST PURGE. Peter Jackson brings his next epic story with MORTAL ENGINES this December.

Laurie Strode is back forty years later as Michael Meyers isn’t quite done with Haddonfield in HALLOWEEN. Jamie Lee Curtis says the film is ‘hella scary’ with the promise that it will scare us all beyond belief. Writer-director M. Night Shyamalan is bringing Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson and James McAvoy together for a final showdown in the film GLASS. Jackson is fairly thrilled that he finally has a film names after his character.

For Toothless fans out there of which I’m sure there are many, HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: The Hidden World will be dazzling us with all things dragon from DreamWorks in March of 2019.

Dwayne Johnson brings another high intensity action film reminding us all what fun those can be in a theater with SKYSCRAPER. He says that SKYSCRAPER will be an experience that audiences will remember and also says that when fans love it, “I’m going to take complete credit” in a joking way that only Johnson can do.

MAMA MIA

MAMA MIA! Here We Go Again brings the sites of the Greek Isles along with the music of Abba in this next installment. The story brings Sophie, played by Amanda Seyfried, on a journey to learn about her mother Donna in her younger years played by Lily James. Mixing the present with the past, MAMA MIA! Here We Go Again will have audiences cheering once again as well. I will admit I went full on squeal-fan when Cher came to the Colusseum stage and performed the Abba song Fernando. It was an experience that the audience will never forget – ever!

Finally, JURASSIC WORLD: Fallen Kingdom brings Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard center stage to talk about the film. Pratt promises that it is going to be a good summer but I have to say that anytime dinosaurs are around, it’s going to be epic! I’m sort of thrilled that Blue comes back in this film; I always like a dinosaur that makes that kind of impact in a film.

Focus Features brings Charlize Theron in a film that I know should be seen by any woman who gets the chaos of family life in the film TULLY. I absolutely love this film. Also coming from the studio is POPE FRANCIS: A Man of His Word and a film about a man we all know as Mr. Rogers in WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR.

Domhnall Gleeson, Charlotte Rampling, Ruth Wilson and Will Poulter star in THE LITTLE STRANGER and Rowan Atkinson is back with JOHNNY ENGLISH STRIKES AGAIN. Felicity Jones and Mimi Leder talk ON THE BASIS OF SEX as Ms. Jones compares her character to Rocky! Joel Edgerton and Lucas Hedges star in BOY ERASED. Finally, Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie are two fierce queens in the film MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS. I personally am looking so forward to seeing these two actresses go all out regal.

Paramount Pictures brings it’s slate and talent beginning with Hailee Steinfelt and John Cena in BUMBLEBEE directed by Travis Knight. His resume is pretty impressive with the films CORALINE, BOXTROLLS, PARANORMAN and my favorite KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS.

THE BOOK CLUB

When these four women come to the stage, you know the film has got to be epic! Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, Mary Steenburgen and Diane Keaton are lovely ladies deciding if there are more chapters to their lives in THE BOOKCLUB. Also coming from Paramount is the film ELI, DORA THE EXPLORER and ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE DARK?

Taraji P. Henson thinks she knows WHAT MEN WANT, director Sean Anders brings Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne together to make an INSTANT FAMILY, Will Smith is the GEMINI MAN and Linda Hamilton along with Arnold Schwarzenegger return for another TERMINATOR. In animation there is WONDER PARK with Ken Jeong and Mila Kunis, MONSTER ON THE HILL, LUCK, SONIC THE HEDGEHOG and THE SPONGE BOB SQUARE PANTS MOVIE: The Wonderful Sponge.

Also in the works from Paramount Pictures is TOP GUN 2, PET CEMETARY, and ACTION POINT with Johnny Knoxville as an amusement park owner with a business that is disturbingly amusing! Also J.J. Abrams brings the first R-rated film from the company Bad Robot with the title of OVERLORD. Abrams calls the film ‘batsh*t crazy!’

Tom Cruise is back with Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg and Rebecca Ferguson in MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: Fallout. Also, Cruise received the PIONEER OF THE YEAR Award at a dinner.

deadpool

20th Century Fox knows how to start out a presentation as dancers with the Deadpool theme give the audience a morning of song and dance, Chris Aronson get caught between the sheets because what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. ALITA: Battle Angel is a James Cameron and Jon Landau works with director Robert Rodriguez. The director says that his process is keeping the heart and soul of his protagonist keeping her strong and relatable.

THE HATE U GIVE and THE DARKEST MINDS bring the YA film genre front and center. BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALE stars Jeff Bridges, Jon Hamm, Chris Hemsworth and Dakota Johnson in an eerie tale that I have just got to see. WIDOWS brings together four women and the only thing they have in common is death and debt starring Viola Davis.

THE PREDATOR is back in the hands of director Shake Black starring Olivia Munn and Sterling K. Brown. Rami Malek has a chance to bring back one of the most iconic performers in music history as Freddy Mercury in BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY.

Amazon Studios brings their slate and the story of John Callahan as Joaquin Phoenix, Jack Black and Jonah Hill bring Gus Van Sant together for DON’T WORRY HE WON’T GET FAR ON FOOT. The documentary GENERATION WEALTH might have a few people’s jaws dropping as director Lauren Greenfield surmises that ‘No matter how much people have, they want more’ PETERLOO brings a story of the 1819 massacre by British forces against a peaceful pro-democracy rally in Manchester.

Also, Pawel Pawlikowski’s work COLD WAR, Rosamund Pike as Madame Curie in RADIOACTIVE, PHOTOGRAPH, Viola Davis and Allison Janney in TROUPE ZERO, Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones in THE AERONAUTS, and Luca Gudagnino’s retelling of SUSPIRIA starring Tilda Swinton and Dakota Johnson. Steve Carell and Timothy Chalamet bring director Felix Van Groeningen’s story of a troubled but BEAUTIFUL BOY.

rami malek

The final presentation of CINEMACON 2018 is Lionsgate’s offering beginning with UNCLE DREW starring Lil Rel, Tiffany Haddish and Shaq, BLINDSPOTTING, Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon in THE SPY WHO DUMPED ME, KIN starring Dennis Quaid and James Franco, HELL FEST, A SIMPLE FAVOR and the retelling of OVERBOARD with Ana Faris and Eugenio Derbez.

It was an adventurous, exciting, enlightening, fun and entertaining four days of CINEMACON 2018 and I expect no less. Every year the gathering of industry and theater owners brings so much that it really is a whirl wind to experience it all. I’d like to thank everyone responsible for putting this convention together for all their hard work and dedication to making the yearly trek into the desert something to always look forward to.

Every year I have the opportunity to see amazing friends I have made over the years and meet new people who bring ideas, creativity and technology all wrapped up in entertainment.

There are so many films coming this year and a slew more in 2019! We will be in the seats to see them all because that is where great experiences and great adventures are meant to be seen – in your local theater! Enjoy it all with a huge tub of popcorn and an ice cold beverage with your friends, family or just a big theater full of people who go to the movies for the same reason you do!

See you in 2019!

Testing Your Ability to Live in A QUIET PLACE

quiet cover

Jeri Jacquin

Silently making its way into theatres this Friday from director John Krasinski via storytellers Bryan Woods and Scott Beck is Paramount Pictures directions to A QUIET PLACE.

Living in a world built on survival by being silent, Lee (John Krasinski) and wife Evelyn (Emily Blunt) along with sons Beau (Cade Woodward), Marcus (Noah Jupe) and daughter Regan (Millicent Simmons) are in a drugstore looking for medications. Young son Beau sees a toy he wants but Dad Lee explains that it makes noise. He does this by use of sign language as Regan is deaf.

The whole family communicates now using sign language because the creatures that hunt them have uber hearing and any sound will bring them within seconds. On the way home to their farm there is an incident that changes the family and makes survival even harder. Evelyn is pregnant and the family finds clever ways to prepare for the new arrival.

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Lee takes Marcus out with him to find food and Regan isn’t happy that she isn’t asked to go. Feeling that her father doesn’t care about her, she takes off down the road. Evelyn is alone taking care of the house when the first sign that the baby is coming and a cry out brings the creatures. She has only moments to send a signal to the others that there is danger and it all sends each in another direction trying to redirect the creatures.

From the house to the field, they each use what they have learned to try and save one another from the creatures that can’t see but most certainly can hear … every … sound.

Krasinski as Lee is a man who is continually trying to find ways to keep his family safe. When there is a moment to breathe, he is working on a way to help his daughter or showing Marcus how to survive in the creature infested world. Blunt as Evelyn is in total Mom-mode and certainly takes a quiet childbirth to a whole new level. This is not the world she ever intended for her children to live in but knows it’s the one they now must survive in.

Simmonds as Regan deals with this world a little differently than the rest of the family. She doesn’t hear the screeching and the loud presence of the creatures but knows what they are capable of. Jupe as Marcus is rightfully petrified of the creatures but his father teaches him what he needs to survive and a secret that might just have given him more courage than he imagined he had for such a young kid.

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So, A QUIET PLACE is truly scary in the sense that there are only fractions of moments where you hear the actors actually speak, the rest is sign language and pure adrenaline with every bit of acting on the faces of the characters. I absolutely loved every second of watching this cast because of that very reason.

I loved jumping, actually yelled and didn’t realize it was me that yelled, held my breath and didn’t realize I was doing it, and felt amazingly sad for this family. The storyline doesn’t start out with any explanation as to what happened leaving that to the newspaper headlines that are about in Lee’s workshop which means my mind was free to fill in the blanks.

This is actually a yarn spun in such a way that I was intrigued when the film first sent out the trailers. A film done mostly in silence? Wow, I knew then it was a film I had to see for myself. The audience for the screening was totally into every moment of the film and I had an extra jump as the lady next to me grabbed my arm! The scariest part of the film is actually seeing the fears that are totally believable by everyone in the audience unfold on the screen.

Let me make it clear – I would not survive in a silent world purely because, as I learned during the teen years, trying to be quiet meant the pressure to make that happen would definitely produce noise (just ask my sister Ellen!). That being said I also cringed at ever little creak, every little muffled sound and held my breath with every footstep the family took. That’s what makes an amazing movie going experience – when you unknowingly become physically invested.

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The story didn’t give me a moment’s peace and I couldn’t work on my bag of popcorn because I didn’t want to be jumped by any creatures! In the midst of all the silence and insane creepy creatures – the writers and director Krasinski manages a moment of beauty between Lee and Evelyn and it made my heart melt. Of course I had to snap out of that quickly and walking out of the theatre my first thought was that I wanted to see A QUIET PLACE again.

John Krasinski took the story by Woods and Beck and directed right where it needs to be, straight into our fears. Well played sir, well played.

In the end – if they can hear you they can hunt you!

MOTHER! Brings More Questions than Answers

Mother poster

 

Jeri Jacquin

In theatres from writer/director Darren Aronofsky and Paramount Pictures is a test on the eyes and brain when it comes to MOTHER!

Jennifer Lawrence is in the title role of MOTHER! as a young woman who is living in a secluded and large house. Along with her acclaimed poet husband played by Javier Bardem, she is redecorating their home while he fights writer’s block for his next book.

When a mysterious man (Ed Harris) shows up at their door, she is immediately suspicious of who he is and what he could possibly want. Just as fast, her husband seems enthralled with their visitor and offers him a room for the night. Their guest also seems to have health problems that keep her husband occupied late into the night.

By morning there is another knock on the door and she is surprised to be introduced to their mysterious guest’s wife (Michelle Pfeiffer). She is once again upset that her husband now invites the wife to stay as well saying that having people around invigorates him.

That is until the couples two grown sons (Domhnall Gleeson and Brian Gleeson) show up to argue with their parents about the contents of a will. A fight breaks out with horrific results leaving her home while the others run to the hospital. When he returns home, more people show up at the house, and more, and more. She can take no more and demands that everyone leave her house and confronts her husband.

That confrontation leads to a night of passion that brings the joy both had been waiting for. Pregnant, she works more on the house and believes she finally has found happiness. Even more so is that her husband can’t stop writing and a new book is well received. So well received that people show up at their door bringing chaos and disaster – or do they.

Lawrence as Mother is a woman who dedicates herself to redecorating the home she shares with her husband. Constantly supportive, it isn’t until the arrival of the stranger that she begins to feel passed over and at the same time threatened. Lawrence’s character begins the film strong, but, like the film’s turning point just ends up a hot mess (once you see the film please no there is no pun intended).

Bardem as the husband is a man who seems to need constant emotional catering to and a half hour into the film I was over it. There is no chemistry between Bardem and Lawrence which makes his behavior even more annoying to watch. By the time things come around to the last few minutes I lost total interest.

Harris as the mystery man wouldn’t make it five seconds in my house. Arrogant and ignoring Lawrence’s characters wishes, it is an odd character placing and I suppose I’m going to have to think about it more yet I don’t want to. Pfeiffer as the mystery man’s husband actually had spunk, is mouthy and chugs down her special lemonade which makes her even more mouthy and challenging. That being said, there is only so much you can take of that as well.

Other cast include Amanda Chiu as Damsel, Patricia Summersett as Consoler, Eric Davis as Bumbler, Stephen McHattie as the Zealot, Jovan Adepo as the Cupbearer and Kristen Wiig as Herald.

I wanted to like MOTHER!, I was excited about this film and followed all the buzz. So, it is crazy to me that I just don’t know who the audience is for it. Of course Aronofsky is known for his complex films and it’s like a roller coaster ride with him. I was intrigued by THE FOUNTAIN, didn’t like NOAH, adored his directing in BLACK SWAN and JACKIE and now we are back to ‘meh!’ with MOTHER!

This is a film that is absolutely going to have to be experienced but I don’t know who would want to. Quite honestly it was all in for me the first five minutes of the film followed by all the subtle hint dropping throughout the film then, it turns into an experiment in torture (both of myself and the film’s characters).

I’m sure that Aronofsky knew what he wanted to show the viewer but I don’t think he thought of the viewer much. He is asking them to sit through a film that has amazing cinematography and talent but also asks them to figure out what his vision is. He had the makings of a good thriller and it starts out absolutely that way.

I followed along waiting for the “thing” to happen and instead I got thrown into the garbage shoot and I can’t wash off the gunk. Oh well.

In the end – seeing is not believing.

TRANSFORMERS: The Last Knight

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Jeri Jacquin

Landing in theatres once again tomorrow from needing-to-be-stopped director Michael Bay and Paramount Pictures is the next loud landing of TRANSFORMERS: The Last Knight.

Well, Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) is still floating about somewhere in space while Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) is rescuing Transformers where he finds them. While roaming about he comes across an ancient Transformer who entrusts him with a medallion. It comes alive and won’t let go of Yeager.

It is a relic from the time of King Arthur (Liam Garrigan) and Merlin (Stanley Tucci). The Autobots were part of the round table helping the humans as they were needed. The medallion needs to seek out a knight that will help find the staff of immense power keeping it out of the hands of evil.

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While trying to save the Transformer he meets Izabella (Isabela Moner), a young girl without a family who has a knack for fixing Autobots. They all end up back at Yeager’s home station where Jimmy (Jerrod Carmichael), Bumblebee (Erik Aadahl), Drift (Ken Watanabe), Hound (John Goodman) and Daytrader (Steve Buscemi) hide from the government agency TRF.

When they are discovered, Sir Edmund Burton (Anthony Hopkins) sends his ‘butler’ Cogman (Jim Carter) to take Yeager to England. Along with Vivian Wembley (Laura Haddock), Burton explains the history of the medallion Yeager has and how Vivian is the only one that can handle the staff of power.

Which is more important now that a nasty wench named Quintessa (Gemma Chan) wants to return Cybertron to its former glory – but not in a good way. When Optimus Prime arrives to discover things are chaotic, he becomes part of Quintessa and Megatron’s (Frank Welker) plan to retrieve the staff and take over Earth. Yeager, Burton, Wembley, Cogman and Col. Lennox (Josh Duhmel) push themselves to save the planet once again.

Because the Decepticons aren’t going to get it without a fight!

Wahlberg as Yeager is once again running around without a story. His relationship with Bumblebee is an awesome one and there are humorous moments with the other Autobots. The thing is I don’t really care about this character because it’s the same metal clanging… different day but not really. There are quipps back and forth with Hopkins, Cogman and Vivian that are chuckle worthy but not enough to sustain the story.

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Hopkins as Burton is a curious character and I do love me some Anthony Hopkins but really? Your giving one of our greatest actors a story to tell that involves King Arthur and the Autobots? I think I laughed more at that garbage because it was only a few weeks ago that I sat in the same theatre watching Guy Richie’s version of KING ARTHUR.

Duhamel as Lennox is a character that is all muddled from beginning to end. I wasn’t sure what side he was on but then again does it really matter? He shows up guns blazing hoping it all works out for the best. Moner as Izabella is, and I’m going to get crap for saying this but a totally unnecessary character. Really? Your going to throw this kid into a war zone and she gets out without a scratch? Suspension of disbelief…poof…gone.

Haddock as Wembley is clearly a Megan Fox look alike and that’s sad because it isn’t that her role is bad, just whatever. Cool to be related to a historic figure but I didn’t buy it for a second which means, yep, don’t care about her character in the slightest.

Carter as Cogman is hilarious and his recognizable “yes my lord” brings back the heady days of Downton Abbey Sundays and good television over crappy film. His language was a little testy but I don’t think its going to stop parents from bringing their kids.

The recognizable voices of Goodman, Buscemi and Watanabe are funny, especially since they argue and wrestle around like metal-brothers-from-another-Autobot. Bumblebee still wins hands down and the storyline brings in some weird ‘he once was a soldier for England’ story which just falls flat. Not your fault B!

Other cast includes Santiago Cabrera as Santos, Martin McCreadie as Lancelot, Rob Witcomb as Percival, Marcus Fraser as Gawain, John Hollingworth as Tristan with Stanley Tucci as a drunken Merlin and John Turturro as Agent Simmons.

TRANSFORMERS: The Last Knight is a two and a half hour metal clanging story that gives Bay a reason to waste $217 million dollars. That’s right folks, enough to save a small town or education thousands of kids is vying for your dollars. Of course if it doesn’t do well here there is always the overseas market waiting to gobble this up.

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Look, I’m tired…tired of a story that lasts into five films that tells the same story beginning and ending with Optimus Prime boring monologue about how the Autobots are there to save the human race. Didn’t Wonder Woman just do that? Or Batman, Superman, the Justice League, Thor, or any of those others?

It was easy to entertain myself with thoughts like ‘doesn’t that robot look like Darth Vader’s fighter?’ and ‘Wow! They used pieces off the alien ship from THE ABYSS for decoration’ and ‘They stole an Imperial Walker – I wonder if Grand Tarkin knows?’ and ‘Is Robocop going to show up?’ and ‘Stonehenge? Oh the Queen isn’t going to like this’.

I swear if I listen to Optimus go into his schpeel I’m going to strain my eyes from the constant rolling and the hand gestures of ‘blah! blah! BLAH!’  Honestly I lost interest once Shia decides to exit stage right although the film does touch on the Witwicky family tree. He brought comedy of a different kind that broke the monotony of the metal banging.

Seriously, I miss the cool rantings of Mom and Dad…and I miss Mojo the dog!  Oh well, I can always not wait for Transformers 6, trust me, someone will give Bay the money to do it.

In the end – they have been here forever…and ever…and ever…(yawn)…and ever!

CINEMACON 2017 Brings Everything Movie Goers Want for a Memorable Experience!

Cineamacon 2017

Jeri Jacquin

Once again, Las Vegas hosted CinemaCon 2017 at Ceasars Palace hosted by NATO (National Association of Theater Owners) where studios present to theatre owners with everything they have coming on their slate. It is also a chance to experience what is coming to concessions and comfort for theatre goers.

NATO is the largest exhibition trade organization in the world and it represents 33,000 movie screens in all 50 states with the additional cinemas in 91 countries world wide. That is amazing and bringing it all together for a week in Las Vegas continues to astound me ever year.

Every year I look forward to the amazing presentations by all who attend the conference. It changes every year yet seeing familiar faces and catching up is also the order of the week. The excitement is always present in every moment of the gathering of everyone who has one thing is common – our love of movies!

So here is our 2017 experience – enjoy!

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Monday the 27th brings a welcoming with an International Day Breakfast and a settling in of what is to come for the week. It’s a moment settle in as the studios prepare to wow everyone bringing a level of excitement and expectation for what it to come for the rest of the week.

Starting off with presentations, Sony Pictures delighted audiences with their slate with the upcoming films Spider-Man: Homecoming, Blade Runner 2049, The Dark Tower, Jumanji, Baby Driver, Flatliners, The Smurfs, The Emoji Movie, Cadavers and Rough Night.

Edgar Wright’s BABY DRIVER is filled with action but that’s what happens when Ansel Elgort tries to rob a bank. After the teaser, Wright and Elgort take the stage to tell the audience how they feel about the intensity of the film. With THE DARK TOWER, Idris Elba offers a sneak peak of the Stephen King story.

In animation, Sony Animation brings a peek at THE SMURFS, THE EMOJI MOVIE, THE STAR and a new look at PETER RABBIT.

Ryan Gosling takes the stage (slow the roll ladies) to talk about the highly anticipated return of BLADE RUNNER 2049. He described the film set as a “fully functioning living breathing world which made it so easy to concentrate on the internal world of the characterless as well as the external world that was so rich and detailed”.

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The only way to end a presentation is with The Rock aka Dwayne Johnson! When you add Nick Jonas, Karen Gillan and Jack Black to the mix, it is a look at JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE.

Tuesday the 28th brings another very cool slate from STX Entertainment The Circle, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, Molly’s Game, The Foreigner, Ugly Dolls, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Mile 22, Den of Thieves, and finally Bad Moms 2.

 THE CIRCLE stars Tom Hanks with a scene shown to the audience with an introduction by Emma Watson. She plays a woman working at a tech company that turns out to be responsible for hurting humanity.

 VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS is brought by director Luc Besson and stars Cara Delevingne who came on stage and talked about a science fiction and how do to it right. The film looks stunning visually so it captured the audience attention.

Aaron Sorkin writes and directs the final presentation for STX with MOLLY’S GAME. The title role is played by Jessica Chastain as Molly, a woman who creates a high-stakes poker game. The film includes a major cast with Kevin Costner, Idris Elva, Michael Cera and Joe Keery. Chastain comes on stage and says there is no better dialogue than Aaron Sorkin’s.

THE FOREIGNER is a Jackie Chan film that is filled with action that also stars Pierce Brosnan, Charlie Murphy, Rory Byrne and Katie Leung. Leung is another Harry Potter alumni making her way past the iconic character of Cho Chang.

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Last year, STX gave out dolls that are not as cute as you’d expect. Don’t tell that to my granddaughter Jaycie because Dreamy Bat is her bestie. Well, Dreamy Bat is finally making it to the big screen with the animated film UGLY DOLLS coming in 2019. Elton John, Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Weber are on board to work on the animated project JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT.

The dynamic duo of Mark Walberg and Peter Berg talked about their next project called MILE 22. Walberg talked about how he wanted to make this a trilogy project and for this to be the work he is defined for in this franchise.

Finally, Mila Kunis takes the stage to announce a sequel to BAD MOMS with A BAD MOMS CHRISTMAS. Filming in Atlanta in the summer it will be interesting to see how that translates into a Christmas setting.

The next studio presentation was from Paramount and their offerings of Baywatch, An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, Suburbicon, Thor: Ragnarok, Transformers: The Last Knight, and Downsizing.

Starting the summer off with a jaunt down the beach as the comedy BAYWATCH hits the screen with a little Dwayne Johnson on the side. Offering up a contest to theatres owners to sell tickets, the winner will get treated to a premier in New York City.

Former VP Al Gore gave us all a look at AN INCONVENIENT SEQUEL: Truth to Power and the joy of being at the convention gave into a moment of a yucky feeling. The trailer gave us a few Donald Trump slices but Gore trying to work with both parties on environmental issues.

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George Clooney, Matt Damon and Julianne Moore are a hit presenting SUBURBICON. Michael Bay gives the audience a peek at TRANSFORMERS: The Last Knight shot in IMAX 3D.

Alexander Payne’s film DOWNSIZING stars Matt Damon and Kristen Wiig and 10 minutes of the film which, of course, left me wanting more. Any time Matt Damon is on the screen I know it’s going to be interesting but adding Kristen Wiig and it’s going to be a must-see.

Wednesday the 29th brings Universal Pictures offerings with Despicable Me 3, Girls Trip, The Mummy, Atomic Blonde, and The Fate of the Furious.

 Nothing makes me smile more than Steve Carell but even more so when I hear his voice of Gru from DESPICABLE ME. I can honestly say that I’ve repeated a line or two more than a hundred times to make myself laugh.

So when Carell and producer Chris Meledandri take the stage for a morning chat, you can be sure it is a good time had by everyone in the audience. In DESPICABLE ME 3, Gru discovers he has a brother who is less follically challenged and with his new family with Lucy, he has to make time to find Balthazar Bratt. Of course Bratt is another villain looking for world domination. Then Carell says of his Gru role, “I am proud to be part of Illumination. It’s amazing to be a part of something that brings care and joy to others”. Yea, he got me!

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 GIRLS TRIP brings Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Regina Hall and Tiffany Haddich on stage to banter with one another about their film making experience and having a girls’ time of it.

THE MUMMY brings Sofia Boutella and Annabelle Wallis to the stage to talk about making of the film with Tom Cruise sending a hello on screen. Sharing a bit about the film, the cast talked about one stunt sequence that took 64 takes and two days between Tom and Annabelle.

Charlize Theron lit up the stage to a thunderous applause as her film ATOMIC BLONDE is set to hit theatres soon. I’m not going to lie one bit when I say this actress just stuns me at every turn. Not only does she star in the film, but Theron is also a producer! Based on the Oni Press graphic novel, this is an action film that doesn’t take prisoners.

Theron says, “I’ve been interested in this genre as an actress and as a woman. It is amazing to see this graphic novel come to the screen five years later. This is a colorful world filled with action”. Director David Leitch, also in attendance says, “The 10 minute fight scene is not right for ever movie but right for this genre. We had bold choices and we the film to be provocative and we bright that.

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The star also turned the audience with laughter when saying, “We worked our balls off on this film, I’m a full-on woman now!” Somehow it doesn’t make a difference whether she has them or not, I’m enthralled with her.

Finally, Vin Diesel makes his way to the stage to talk about THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS. The seventh film in the FAST AND FURIOUS franchise, they once again put together a cast of unforgettable talent to make a film that won’t let you rest for one second.

Diesel also confirms to the crowd that there will be a nine and ten in the FAST AND FURIOUS franchise. He says, “We are proud of how we defied expectations” in regards to the success of the films. Of course he could not forget his friend Paul Walker saying, “It was a hard decision to make the film without Paul but his legacy is in every frame we shoot. He was the concept of brotherhood. When I thought of going into the 8th chapter, it was Paul that said ‘8 is guaranteed’!” Also coming to the stage was director F. Gary Gray, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, the legendary Kurt Russell (still as handsome as ever) and Charlize Theron.

In this film, Dom and Letty return from their honeymoon but it doesn’t take long for things to get chaotic. When a woman named Cipher, played by the best villain Charlize Theron forces Dom to work for her – there are reasons that will shock everyone.

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FOCUS FEATURES brought an amazing slate and I have to say I am a huge fan of the original work they continue to bring to film lovers. Their slate is going to have me waiting with anticipation with Atomic Blonde, Victoria & Abdul, The Book of Henry, The Beguiled, The Darkest Hour and an unnamed work with Paul Thomas Anderson and Daniel Day Lewis.

There is not much else to say about ATOMIC BLONDE except don’t wait to see it – go opening day, go several times! Charlize Theron is just going to blow everyone away.

VICTORIA AND ABDUL stars Dame Judy Dench as Queen Victoria and explores the friendship with a young Indian clerk that sets the palace on its high horse. With a colorful and hilarious introduction via clip by the grand Dame herself, this is a film for anyone who loves period pieces.

THE BOOK OF HENRY is the story of Susan Carpenter played by Naomi Watts and her son Henry played by Jaeden Lieberher. Henry is a smart boy living with his waitress mother in a small town. When a young girl next story is in need of help, Susan and Henry come up with a way to help that can be frightening and deadly. Director Colin Trevorrow and Naomi Watts give their impressions of the film from the stage.

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A film that has captured my attention and the trailer made the suspense even worse is the film from Sophia Coppola THE BEGUILED. Coppola and the stars Nicole Kidman and Colin Farrell is set in the Civil War as a girls school takes in a wounded Union soldier. Also staring Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fannie and Angourie Rice, all I can scream from the rooftops is ‘What’s in the cellar! What’s in the cellar!’

My heart skipped a beat when the amazing Gary Oldman took the stage to talk about his film DARKEST HOUR. The film directed by Joe Wright is the story of Winston Churchill and the early days of World War II. Also staring Lily James, Ben Mendelsohn, John Hurt and Kristin Scott Thomas, I have to say that Oldman embraces this role. I was actually shocked by the transformation of this actor into a man who will forever be part of history.

WARNER BROTHERS brings something for everyone in their presentation with Dunkirk, Annabelle: Creation, It, Unforgettable, Everything Everything, Bastards, The House, King Arthur Legend of the Sword, Geo Storm, Blade Runner: 2049, Legos Ninjago, Aquaman and Wonder Woman.

Staring with the big guns in the presentation with director Christopher Nolan’s highly anticipated film DUNKIRK. Telling the audience that “the only platform I’m interested in talking about is theatrical exhibition” he wants theater owners to experience the film. DUNKIRK, he explains “is a huge story but at its heart it’s a survival story. I wanted to tell the story in the most visceral way possible, on the beach, in the plane and with the soldiers. When it came time to do DUNKIRK, I used cameras to take you on the beach, on the plane and in the water. The combination of talent is an ensemble like I’ve never worked with before. This is a story that needs to carry through the suspense to bring you there. The theatre is the only way to make that happen.” I think the footage Nolan brings has winner written all over it.

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How do you follow that? Well, you bring a “cute” little doll to a film called ANNABELLE: Creation. The story of how this iconic doll came to be will finally be revealed and I’m sure fans are going to be thrilled. Also, UNFORGETTABLE brings two women against each other when an ex-wife Katherine Heigl sees the new woman, Rosario Dawson, in her ex’s life as a reason to go nuts.

Stephen King is back on the screen with a frightening clown and director Andres Muschietti’s IT. I have no doubt people will flock to the theatres to have their wits taken by Pennywise who reminds us that ‘we all float down here’.

In between horror and drama is the beat down of planet Earth with the next disaster film GEOSTORM with Gerard Butler. When the satellites that control Earth go wonky, the weather becomes the attacker as the climate changes.

If comedy is more the genre preferred well then let the BASTARDS change that for you. Ed Helms and Owen Wilson are twin brothers who learn more about their mother, played by Glenn Close, than they ever wanted too. A road trip to find Daddy is in order!

Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler bring down THE HOUSE coming to theatres. As parents of a daughter wanting to go to college and no money to make that happen, they take matters into their own gambling hands.

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Charlie Hunnam takes the stage and the hearts of the women around me have stopped for a moment. Oh yes, it will take time to get Jax (SOA) out of our minds so listening to his introduction for the director Guy Ritchie’s film KING ARTHUR: Legend of the Sword keeps us all happy. Hunnam tells us that the story takes a bit of a turn as Arthur is “as far as you can imagine from royalty. It’s a little bit cheeky, a little big naughty and a lot of fun”. Who can turn that down?

Jared Leto takes the stage to bring more of the BLADE RUNNER 2049 story to the audience. Taking a moment to gush, Leto says “there are very few films in my life that have struck me as deep as the original BLADE RUNNER.”

With the success of the Lego franchise and the recent Batman addition to the gang, a new block member comes with LEGO NINJAGO MOVIE. I swear I love the humor that Lego brings to these characters with stories that are so inventive and fun.

DC gets their feet wet as Jason Momoa takes the stage, and may I say he’s taller than I ever thought, to talk about the concept of the film starting with director Zack Snyder telling the story of AQUAMAN. Also presenting for DC is Chris Pine and director Patty Jenkins for WONDER WOMAN.

Thursday the 30th brings 20th Century Fox to CinemaCon with their slate of films but can’t help but open up the presentation with dancers giving lights, fun and a rendition of ‘There’s No Business Like Show Business’. It wasn’t until the final second that the unveiling of Chris Aronson, 20th Century Fox head of domestic distribution brought the house down with applaud.

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The upcoming slate also brings cheers with the films Captain Underpants, Snatched, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul, The Mountain Between Us, War For the Planet of the Apes, Kingsmen: The Golden Circle, Red Sparrow, The Murder on the Orient Express, Alien: Covenant, Ferdinand and The Greatest Showman.

It made me jump when the trailer for CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS was shown as the crowd absolutely loved it. SNATCHED stars Amy Schumer and Goldie Hawn who took to the stage in a love fest between the two. The story of a mother-daughter trip-gone-wrong, Schumer says, ‘Even if you have triggering Mom issues, you’ll still enjoy it”.

DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: The Long Haul brings Tom Everett-Scott and Alicia Silverstone back as parents who take their kids on a road trip. Of course anyone with kids will find the comedy relatable.

Kate Winslet and Idris Elba star in THE MOUNTAIN BETWEEN US as two survivors of a plane crash do what ever they must to get down the mountain. I enjoy both of these actors so this will be on my list of films to see.

WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES instantly got attention and not just because of the huge night display on the entire front of Caesars Palace. A preview of the film has Cesar riding a horse through the woods and after a chase meet a smaller ape who also knows how to talk. He tells them about a military camp run by the nutty Woody Harrelson and it’s plain to see war is inevitable.

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I broke out in a giggle happy fit when KINGSMAN: The Golden Circle trailer came to the screen. I have to say with the addition of Channing Tatum it is a bigger plus for me to see the film and, to be honest, nothing would keep me away.

Jennifer Lawrence returns to the screen with the thriller RED SPARROW. Kenneth Branagh takes on THE MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS giving his introduction on video. The cast includes Judi Dench, Michelle Pfieffer, Johnny Depp, Josh Gad, Willem Dafoe and more.

ALIEN: Covenant brings Michael Fassbender back (and I’m not mad about that! <heavy sigh>) as director Ridley Scott gives us a sneak peek hoping that the film “scares the sh*t outta you”. Katherine Waterston leads a cast that includes Danny McBride, Billy Crudup, Guy Pearce, James Franco, Demian Bichir and Noomi Rapace.

The animated film FERDINAND brought out Jon Cena to talk about his excitement about playing the misunderstood bull. He seemed pretty thrilled about all the work he put into it and a cast that includes Kate McKinnon, David Tennant, Gina Rodriguez and Anthony Anderson.

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There is something to be said when Hugh Jackman takes the stage because he is perfect for his role in the film THE GREATEST SHOWMAN. Directed by Michael Gracey, it is the story of P.T. Barnum who had an idea and creates showmanship like the world had never seen. Also starring Rebecca Ferguson, Michelle Williams, Zendaya, Keala Settle and Zac Efron, this is going to be colorful and musically stunning.

Amazon Studios takes the stage with their slate of films with Last Flag Flying, Crown Heights, Brad’s Status, The Only Living Boy in New York, City of Ghosts, Generation of Wealth, Wonderstruck, The Big Sick, Don Quixote, Don’t Worry He Won’t Get Far on Foot, All Eyez on Me, American Assassin, Wonder, The Hitman’s Bodyguard.

 Richard Linklater brings LAST FLAG FLYING with Steve Carell, Bryan Cranston and Laurence Fishburne playing former military men who come together. CROWN HEIGHTS is the story of a man wrongly convicted of murder. Lakeith Stanfield and Nnamdi Asomugha work together to right the wrong.

BRAD’S STATUS stars Ben Stiller, Michael Sheen and Jenna Fischer in this combination of comedy and drama about decisions we make in life. THE ONLY LIVING BOY IN NEW YORK starring Jeff Bridges and Kate Beckinsale and directed by Marc Webb.

CITY OF GHOSTS comes from Matthew Heineman as activists in Syria who are also journalists. GENERATION OF WEALTH takes on the rich in America. WONDERSTRUCK tells the story of a young boy in the Midwest and a young girl in New York and what there connection is. THE BIG SICK stars Kumail Nanjiani and Zoe Kazan as a couple who deal with their cultural differences.

Before the ending of Amazon Studios presentation there was mention of upcoming films including DON QUIXOTE, DON’T WORRY HE WON’T GET FAR ON FOOT, ANNETTE, BEAUTIFUL BOY, SUSPIRIA, YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE, PETERLOO.

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Lionsgate closes the studio presentations with a little film ALL EYEZ ON ME, a film on Tupac Shakur. Michael Keaton continues to keep me riveted and makes his way to the stage to present AMERICAN ASSASSIN. Dylan O’ Brien and Taylor Kitsch star in this counterterrorism thriller.

Jacob Tremblay stars in the film WONDER that comes from the novel by R.J. Palacio with this drama about Auggie, a young boy with a facial deformity that tries to fit in.

THE HITMAN’S BODYGUARD brings the stunning Salma Hayek to the stage to introduce this film that stars Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson as a bodyguard and a hitman work together. Putting Reynolds and Jackson in these roles it pretty much a win-win!

That’s it, that’s everything and I can honestly say I don’t think it’s possible to take in any more. CinemaCon never disappoints and this year was absolutely no exception. From learning what is new and coming in theatres and meeting exhibitors along with the stars that came to support it all – it was a complete blast.

Thanks to NATO and Mitch Neuhauser, the Managing Director, for all that you do to make it a memorable week that keeps us talking for months after.

See you next year at CinemaCon 2018!

ALLIED

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Jeri Jacquin

In theatres to start the holiday weekend from director Robert Zemeckis, writer Steven Knight and Paramount Pictures is a tale of trust in wartime that is ALLIED.

It is 1942 in Morocco when military man Max Vatan (Brad Pitt) is sent undercover to assassinate a high German official. This assignment includes a cover of being married to Marianne Beausejour (Marion Cotillard) who welcomes him quite easily into her fold of friends.

Getting to know each other, Marianne explains how they must interact to get an invitation to a party where the official is the guest of honor. Not in the town a day the mission is in jeopardy when a German officer recognizes Vatan. Handling the situation, there next stop is to meet with Hobar (August Diehl) and pass inspection to get an invitation.

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Unexpectedly, Vatan and Marianne fall in love and he convinces her to return to London where they are married. Happy and welcoming a daughter to their lives, it seemed an idyllic life in the middle of a war.

That is until his superior Frank Heslop (Jared Harris) informs him that V-section believes that Marianne not who she claims to be. Fearing that his life is about to be shattered, Vatan begins his own inquiries to discover if the woman that is his world seeks to destroy everything he has come to believe.

In war, who can you trust?

Pitt as Vatan is everything this period piece could bring to a character. He is sharply dressed, carries himself like a confident military man and I swear there are moments where he pulls a Clark Cable on me. The long looks, furrowed brow and deep drags on a cigarette give an air to his character. That and he looks pretty darn awesome if you really want to know.

Cotillard as Marianne is a forward, interesting, flamboyant and beautiful character. Marianne wastes no time in seeing what pretty much every female member of the audience sees, a dashing and handsome man in uniform who secretly wants to be happy. Cotillard takes this opportunity to remind us of the classic beauty with a French accent who can take a role and become it while making it look easy!

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Harris as Heslop understands the complexities of Vatan and gives him certain leeway. Knowing that when the V-section of the military pits the soldier against his family, the end could be disastrous.

Other cast include Daniel Bettes as George Kavanagh, Zavier De Guillebon as Claude, Camille Cottin as Monique, Vincent Latorre as Vincent, Charlotte Hope as Louise, Celeste Dodwell as Scarlet, Sally Messham as Margaret, and Lizzy Caplan as Bridget Vatan.

ALLIED is a film that brings together love, trust, family, war, and the choices that are made in the most difficult of circumstances. The story revolves around Vatan and Marianne but let me tell you that fashion made its way into the film as well. ALLIED has amazing costuming with snappy sharpness, beautiful dresses, and hairstyles that lend to the story.

With all that I have to also say that the films storyline happens so very fast that there is a depth that is missing. The element of what brought these characters together fades quickly and it is replaced by a mystery that doesn’t feel so mysterious. That being said ALLIED is a good film that I did enjoy.

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The score also brings 1942 into focus and once again I love the music of that era. Writer Knight has brought several pieces to the screen with EASTERN PROMISES in 2007 and LOCKE in 2013. Director Zemeckis has also brought a stunning resume with FLIGHT in 2012 and CAST AWAY in 2004 which still is one of my favorite films (as seen by the Wilson that sits on my desk!)

In the end – deception is an art and truth is a test!

ARRIVAL Sets Down in Theatres

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Jeri Jacquin

This Friday from director Denis Villeneuve and Paramount Pictures is the mystery surrounding their ARRIVAL.

Strangely shaped crafts have landed in several spots around the planet Earth. One such craft sets down in a vast field and the military are sent in right away. People are on edge and Linguistics Professor Louise Banks (Amy Adams) keeps a close eye on the news from her office.

She is surprised when Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) comes to her with a recording from the aliens looking for translation. Louise makes it very clear that she needs more information before offering up her opinion. As quickly as he came in, Col. Weber leaves and she returns home as everyone is doing.

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Later a helicopter lands in her yard as Col. Weber returns telling her to pack and come along. Arriving she becomes the leader of the communications section of a camp that is set up close to the craft. She also meets scientist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) and the two are told they will be suited up and entering the craft.

Their first encounter with the aliens is nothing they could have imagined and once over the initial shock, Louise realizes she must find a way to communicate with them. Enlisting the help of Donnelly, she quickly and creatively begins teaching the aliens and at the same time learns their language.

But the world is shaky as General Shang (Tzi Ma) takes the lead in believing military action is the only way to deal with the unknown. Louise and Ian must work quickly if they are to divert catastrophe from both outer space and inner space.

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Adams as Dr. Louise Banks is a character that is deliberate yet hugely flawed in a believable way. She shows frustration but with restrain, fear yet doesn’t hesitate to move forward, finds answers using the simplest terms and all while in the middle of an internal crisis of her own. Adams has always been an actress I keep my eye on particularly because she is so diverse in the roles she chooses. This year she has been busy with the earlier year release of BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN and the December release of NOCTURNAL ANIMALS with Jake Gyllenhaal.

Renner as Donnelly is very laid back for a guy for a scientist. He is actually the humor of the story line while jumping into this mystery full force. Renner has all the characteristics that make this role so believable and that means once again he keeps his talent in the forefront without use of a bow and arrow.

Whitaker as Col. Weber is a straight faced soldier who wants answers. Not understanding why the answers don’t come easier, he relies on Louise and Donnelly to make it all come together before General Shang has his way. Ma as Shang is the leader promoting war based off of a fear of the unknown.

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The cast also includes Michael Stuhlbarg as Agent Halpern, Mark O’Brien as Captain Marks, and Abigail Pniowsky as Hannah.

TUBS OF POPCORN: I give ARRIVAL four tubs of popcorn out of five. This is a story that is a mixture of issues that will leave the audiences thinking about it all long after leaving the theatre. It is definitely Adams and Renner that give the film humanity and heart which one wouldn’t expect from a linguist and scientist dealing with aliens!

The cinematography is visually stunning with its ethereal moments brought to a crescendo by an amazing soundtrack. Tackling the ever contemplative issue of time, ARRIVAL bends, shifts and twists time reminding me a bit of INTERSTELLAR (which is an awesome film as well). Mixed in as well is the frailness of humanity and the quickness to embrace fear first instead of understanding the unknown first and pointing a weapon – say – never!

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The issue of these aliens or Heptapods is also an interesting take as they seem to want to communicate. Interactions between human and Heptapod is actually charming especially when Louise and Donnelly name the two they are taken with Abbott and Costello.

ARRIVAL is a combination of so many genres and it actually brings each of them to a conclusion that can be taken two ways which means I’ll be looking forward to hearing the readers take on it. The film is sad, humorous, dangerous, and larger than life in feeling.

In the end – why are they here?

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