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Gumshoe Noir is Wrapped in MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN 

motherless cover

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

Now on Bluray and DVD is DR. SEUSS’ THE GRINCH

Grinch cover
Jeri Jacquin
This week on Bluray/DVD and Digital from directors Yarrow Cheney, Scott Mosier, Illumination and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment is the one we know as THE GRINCH.
In Who-ville it is that time of year as the Who-ville-ians prepare themselves for their favorite holiday of Christmas. Of course there is always one who isn’t quite so thrilled about the excitement and that’s The Grinch (Benedict Cumberbatch). Living atop Mount Crumpit with his dog Max, Grinch gets a little grumpier when he realizes that he has to make a grocery stop in Who-ville which is the last thing he wants to do.
Also in Who-ville is Cindy Lou Who (Cameron Seely), a very sweet six-year-old who is very aware that her mother is overworked. Taking care of twin boys Buster and Bean, Mom Donna (Rashida Jones) keeps a happy face for her family but Cindy reaches out to Santa for a little help. The Grinch and Cindy meet and the outcomes is that Cindy Lou decides to go to the North Pole and ask Santa straight out for help. The problem is that the traveling she would have to do to make that happen means that Cindy Lou has to go to plan B – trap Santa!
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The Grinch has his own idea for messing with Who-ville and the holidays he hates so much. On Christmas Eve with the help of Max, he decides to be Santa Claus and take every little gizmo and gadget from the towns people. While heisting the Who’s house, he meets Cindy Lou again as she explains that she wants nothing for herself, only her mother and there is a crack in the Grinch’s nasty ole heart.
That doesn’t stop him from stealing everything in Who-ville and back up to Mount Crumpit. What he doesn’t expect is that all the people of Who-ville see past the trappings of Christmas and celebrate the holiday with love in their hearts. Well, the Grinch can’t get away from the feelings that snowball to the point of doing the right thing and becoming part of Who-ville the way it always should have been.
The Grinch toasts, “To kindness and love, the things we need the most”!
Cumberbatch as The Grinch is funny and charming in his grumpy way but that is what is expected of this iconic character. It is difficult to carry on the tradition of the Dr. Seuss’ from it’s 1966 Boris Karloff voice narration that I grew up with to the 2000 Jim Carrey hilarious version that my daughter grew up with but Cumberbatch has a little help from Illumination to make his version come to life.
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Seely as Cindy Lou Who is a very sweet girl who sees the day to day struggles of her mother and although tries to help the best she can, she feels it might not be enough. That’s a child with an amazing heart that should all be blessed to know.
Jones as Donna is a Mom who is trying to be everything to everyone and does so with the Who-ville positive attitude – even if it is exhausting. I found her creative, skillful and someone I’d like to have around my kitchen at breakfast time.
Lansbury as the Mayor is a voice I can say that I always love to hear and am thrilled that she is The part of the Grinch memorable universe.
Other cast include: Kenan Thompson as Bricklebaum, Tristan O’Hare as Groopert, Ramone Hamilton as Axle, Sam Lavagnino as Ozzy, Scarlett Estevez as Izzy and Pharrell Williams as the Narrator and the glorious Ms. Angela Lansbury as Mayor McGerkle.
Universal Studios Home Entertainment has just added an amazing film to their library and making it available for us all to experience and re-experience in our own home theatres. There are films of every genre available from scary to drama to family films. For more of what they have to offer please visit www.uphe.com.
The Bluray of THE GRINCH includes the Bonus Features of 3 Mini-Movies, The Making of the Mini-Movies, From Green to Screen, Who’s Who in Who-ville, My Earliest Grinch Memories, “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” Lyric Video, Songs from His Little Heart, Grinchy Gadgets, Anyone Who Can Draw: The Grinch, Max, Fred, Cindy Lou’s Yule Log and so much more!
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The Digital Movie included in this pack has Movies Anywhere and with the Movies Anywhere App you can download and stream from any device which means you can go to Who-ville from almost anywhere.
THE GRINCH is a film that will be part of holiday viewing for years to come. The animation is green and vivid which is what we’d expect of the world created by Dr. Seuss and it adds to the fun of the film.
What is also in this film is the importance of family and helping one another because if you do that, it is so easy to reach out that feeling to a Grinch we all might know. Let’s face it, no one wants to be left out of the holiday fun and watch it from afar. THE GRINCH invites us to be caring, giving, loving and full of holiday fun.
Now that’s something we can all get behind all year long.
In the end – it’s never too early to be annoyed by Christmas!

Prepare to Visit the Savannah Again with Disney’s THE LION KING on Bluray

THE LION KING cover

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to Bluray/DVD and Digital from director Jon Favreau and Disney is the 1994 iconic animated story now come to life with THE LION KING.

In case you come from another solar system I’ll give the story a run down. There is a young cub named Simba (Donald Glover) who is born a prince. Father King Mufasa (James Earl Jones) tries to teach his young son what it is to be a king. He is also learning side lessons from his jealous Uncle Scar (Chitwetel Ejiofor) that get him into a few scrapes.

Along with his best friend Nala, the two explore much to the fright of Mufasa, even if the royal bird Zazu (John Oliver) can’t keep up. Scar gets an idea enlisting the help of the hyenas and their leader Shenzi (Florence Kasumba) to take what he thinks is his.

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Simba is caught up in a stampede that brings death and sadness to the pride and the young prince decides to run. He walks away and meets meerkat Timon (Billy Eichner) and faithful companion Pumbaa (Seth Rogen) who embrace Simba as one of their own.

In the meantime Scar is destroying the valley and Nala (Beyonce) knows it is time to get help. What she doesn’t plan on is running into Simba who is now fully grown. Explaining what has happened, Simba meets Rafiki (John Kani) who shows him why it is important to remember who he is and what it means to be a king.

Glover as Simba is the younger cub prince bringing a bit of playfulness making the little furry growler even cuter. Beyonce as Nala stayed in her lane so to speak meaning I had thought she would have song-wise taken over but instead they kept it easy and lovely.

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Several characters that I enjoyed so much are Oliver as Zazu making me laugh several times with his antics, Kasumba as Shenzi with a tad less humor than her 1994 Goldberg counterpart but still very good and Ejiofor getting a chance to be the devious Uncle Scar.

Eichner and Rogen got all the silliness that made the animated version so much fun. I giggled so much as the antics of Simba’s smaller friends. It must be said that my four year old granddaughter couldn’t stop smiling when these two were on the screen.

Finally, James Earl Jones is the one and only Mufasa and having him once again accept the mantel of King was a wise choice. He is Mufasa and his presence at the beginning and at the most important point of the film’s emotion is something only his voice could capture. It also soothes the ruffled feathers of those who only see Jones as the powerful and loving father.

Other cast include Keegan-Michael Key as Kamari, Eric Andre as Azizi, JD McCrary as Young Simba, Shahadi Wright Joseph as Young Nala and Alfre Woodard as Sarabi.

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Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment began distributing under its own label in 1980 and continues to bring quality programming to kids and kids at heart. Home of the most beloved animated features including SNOW WHITE, PINOCCHIO and SLEEPING BEAUTY to name a few is what keeps families coming back for more. To see what is currently available to add to your own family library please visit. www.movies.disney.com for their At Home titles!

MOVIES ANYWHERE gives viewers the ability to download the Movies Anywhere App. With that you can view films by downloading or streaming to your favorite device using a Digital Code. For more information on Movies Anywhere please visit www.MoviesAnywhere.com.

The Bluray Bonus Extras include with The Journey To THE LION KING Documentary – Behind the Scenes Magic with the Filmmakers and Cast, More to be Scene – Peel Back the Layers of Iconic Musical Moments, “Spirit” Beyonce Music Video, Song Selection – Sing Along with the Movie, Audio Commentary with Director Jon Favreau and so much more!

I can’t fault THE LION KING at all. From the moment the screen is lit up with a beautiful sunrise and music that continues to be recognized with The Circle of Life and I Just Can’t Wait to be King, this is absolutely how it’s done folks! Favreau should be applauded on several fronts – first of all he stayed ever faithful keeping to the original 1994 animated story that has become so iconic and also allowed the songs to once again bring joy.

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The cinematography in the live-action is colorful and lively to the point that it was easy to forget that these lions, hyenas, birds, and the rest weren’t actually real. From the look of joy in Rafiki’s eyes to the sadness in Simba’s eyes, everything that needed to be related emotionally is there. The humor is wonderful in the film and there is a moment between Timon and Pumbaa that gives a nod to a beast of another kind so listen for it.

In the end – the King has returned!

ESCAPE PLAN: The Extractors Attempts a Dangerous Rescue on Bluray

escape plan bluray

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to Bluray/DVD and Digital from director John Herzefeld, writer Miles Chapman and Lionsgate comes an action packed thriller with an ESCAPE PLAN: The Extractors.

Ray Breslin (Sylvester Stallone) is up against it when a Hong Kong Tech’s daughter Daya (Malese Jow) is kidnapped and the man responsible is his ex-partners angry son. Breslin assembles a team when Daya’s lead security man Bao (Harry Shu, Jr.) brings him information and demands to help.

On the team are Trent DeRosa (Dave Bautista) and Hush (Curtis Jackson) and they have to make sure the plan is together with no mistakes. Kidnapping Daya is on the first step in a plan that has many moving parts. Then Breslin’s girlfriend Abagail (Jamie King) is also taken, the stakes get even higher.

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Hold up in the Lativan prison called the Devil’s Station, Breslin now realizes that his ex-partner son is sadistic and completely out of his mind making things even more difficult. It doesn’t mean they aren’t going to go down easy!

Stallone as Breslin is a man that takes jobs with a cost but this isn’t about cost, it becomes personal. Wanting to stop the madness, he isn’t about to walk away from anything a crazy madman wants to dish out.

Jow as Daya is a young woman who works for her father’s company. When she is kidnapped, she realizes that it is not just her own life that is in jeopardy. Harry Shu, Jr. as Bao is head of Daya’s security and once she is taken believes that one moment longer will not go by without trying to find her.

Bautista as DeRosa is a big man carrying a big gun and doing it all with a quiet smirky nature. His humor might be slightly lacking but then again he doesn’t look like he cares one little bit. Jackson as Hush has a small role but it doesn’t take him long to find his place on the crew.

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Other cast include Devon Sawa as Lester Clark Jr., Max Zhang as Shen, Sergio Rizzuto as Narco, Shea Buckner as Larry, Lydia Hull as Jules, and Tyler Jon Olson as Moe.

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

The Bluray SPECIAL FEATURES include Making ESCAPE PLAN: The Extractors, Commentary with Director John Herzfeld and Actors Sylvester Stallone, Never-Before-Seen Cast and Crew Interviews, Devon Sawa and Daniel Bernhardt as well as the Trailer Gallery.

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ESCAPE PLAN: The Extractors is a thrill ride in the style of Stallone! He isn’t about to let the bad guy win no matter how much it hurts in the process of finding him. There are very dark moments yet he still moves forward.

The film itself is very dark in the story telling but yet nothing stops the film once the first scene takes off. It is action, secrets, deception, revenge and redemption all in one film. Stallone leads a fast action cast that goes full force from bang to bullets with even an ending that is full of accountability.

In the end – these stakes are personal!

THE MUSTANG

MUSTANG cover

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to limited release from director Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre and Focus Features comes a story of self-redemption with the help of THE MUSTANG.

Roman Coleman (Matthias Schoenaerts) has been in prison for twelve years. Mainly keeping to himself in solitary, his temper flares in a second bringing him even more problems. Transferred to a new prison, he refuses to help anyone understand how to get through, not even daughter Martha (Gideon Adlon).

Outside the prison walls are horse stalls and a man named Myles (Bruce Dern) who teaches inmates how to prepare horses for sale. These are mustangs captured by the government and land management and all sale proceeds go back to them. At first Roman has no interested until he hears continual banging from a stall away from the corals.

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Then he comes face to face with a very angry mustang and Roman is captured in another way. Myles sees that there is something between the two and brings the convict into the prisons program. Put in the hands of inmate Elijah (Keith Johnson), Roman gets a lesson here and there about how to reach the untouchable horse.

Newly named Marcus, Roman works his new ward daily and something happens to them both. So much so that when daughter Martha comes to visit, Roman confesses what brought him to jail and hopes there can be something between father and daughter once again.

Roman has other worries as well when top inmate Dan (Josh Stewart) decides he wants something from his cell mate and is willing to hurt Martha to make that happen. Both Roman and Marcus become a mixture of emotions and just when they are in sync – one sudden jolt forces them both to come to terms with who they are and where they are meant to be.

It is all in how you define love and freedom!

Schoenaerts as Roman gives absolutely everything to this role. There is anger, confusion, heart, soul, rage, revenge, and confession – just a gambit of where he once was to where we meet him. Strong willed from the film’s beginning, Schoenaerts character is broken down slowly and surely by a beautiful animal that has so much in common with Roman. I could not take my eyes of this actor who portrays a man who slowly comes to terms with a mistake brought on by anger that just can’t seems to subside.

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Dern as Myles is a horse trainer who sees something click between Roman and Marcus. He puts a skittish faith and sees it pay off daily. Even when the unthinkable happens, Dern is strong in character and lends it to Roman when he needs it the most. Dern has always been on my list of amazing actors and it is satisfying to see him continue to jump in and lasso a role that suits him.

Aldon as Martha has just as much anger as her father but she is less physical about it. Instead hiding it in the way she speaks as bits of anger seep out with anger at being left alone growing up. Johnson as Elijah is very happy working with horses and takes a keen interest in seeing that Roman succeeds. The problem is that is outside the prison, what happens inside is something else.

Other cast include Jason Mitchell as Henry, Thomas Smittle as Tom, Noel Gugliemi as Roberto, George Schroeder as Officer Peters and Connie Britton as the Psychologist.

THE MUSTANG has a storyline that tugs every fiber of a being. From the beginning of the film and the horses are captured, it plants the seed of emotion wondering why these beautiful creatures can’t just be left alone. In that instant, the film becomes personal to watch.

It is personal in regards to the horses and everything after that. There is a mental encouragement that happens as the film goes on – encouraging the horse to let go of its anger but not let go of its spirit and encouraging Roman to stop hiding from the world. The final encouragement is that they both realize they are cut from the same universal cloth.

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There is also a constant shift in the film that takes the two steps forward and five steps back in both Roman and Marcus yet there is no way as the viewer to lose hope. Schoenaerts and the lovely mustang we know as Marcus invite us into a story that only the two of them can possibly tell.

The film is cinematically beautiful with the surrounding wilderness and plopped in its center is a brick building holding men. Between the wilderness and the prison is a place of hope that, at times, makes you forget about the other two worlds. Unfortunately, the other two worlds are very, very powerful.

In the end – they are both untamed souls and kindred spirits!

GHOST STORIES Brings Jumps and Twists Just the Way We Love Our Scares!

Ghost Stories coverJeri Jacquin

Coming to select theatres and currently available on VOD from writer/directors Jeremy Dyson, Andy Nyman and IFC Films are stories that will tingle spines with GHOST STORIES.

Professor Phillip Goodman (Andy Nyman) has made a life out of uncovering psychics who are frauds on his television show Psychic Cheats. He receives a package from Charles Cameron (Leonard Byrne), a man Goodman saw as an example of how to find phonies and frauds, and he wants to meet with him.

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Thrilled to meet someone he thought long dead, Goodman is shocked to discover that things haven’t been easy for him. He only wants one thing from Goodman, to investigate three cases for which he has no answer for.

The first person affected is a night watchman Tony Matthews (Paul Whitehouse) who is the security guard in an asylum long since abandoned. Lights blinking and doors slamming have him investigating every nook and in the dark things have a way of catching up with you, as it does him.

The second person affected is Simon Rifkind (Alex Lawther), a young boy who finds himself on a deserted road in the woods and distracted by his father screaming at him on the phone. Hitting an object, what he sees is horrifying and has put his life into a world of absolute fear.

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The third person he speaks with is Mike Priddle (Martin Freeman) who doesn’t seem at all moved by the story he has to tell. A wealthy man, he has a beautiful home and recently he and wife Maria (Emily Carding) have created a beautiful nursery for their unborn child. While Marie is in the hospital, something happens in the home nursery that is beyond reason.

What do these three men have in common is what Professor Goodman is about to find out.

Nyman as Professor Goodman is a man with a past that brings him to calling out those who fraud the public about being psychic. What he doesn’t expect is that the man who he considers the reason for his line of work would pop up out of no where to solve these cases. Nyman’s character is a skeptic yet there are moments where he begins to question his own non-beliefs.

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Matthews as Whitehouse is the first man affected and he absolutely starts the creepy trail rolling.  I give him points for keeping his fear in check because I would have lost it completely. Lawther as Simon is a young man locked inside his own fears and with absolutely every reason to be. Lawther has the unique ability to ooze fear out of every pour of his being and he does so with ease.

Freeman as Priddle calmly walks into the story and steals it from Nyman briefly. He is cold, intense, affected, a judge and nothing expected. Of course I am thrilled to see Freeman because he is such an amazing actor who seems to chose roles that he manipulates into absolute stunning works of art. This is such an interesting role because of the twists and turns but Freeman walks away with a giggle.

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Other cast include Kobna Holdbrook-Smith as Father Emery, Deborah Wastell as Mrs. Goodman, Daniel Hill as Mr. Goodman, Christine Dalby as Beth Hooper, Maggie McCarthy as Jean Hooper, Joe Osborne as Mr. Rifkind, and Maria Major as Mrs. Rifkind.

GHOST STORIES is what I absolutely adore about this genre – absolute twists, turns, not covered in gore and out of control cgi. Instead, we are given a thriller that embodies that word – it thrills from beginning to end. This isn’t a story that is easy to figure out or even easy to digest but in fact a story that is going to keep people talking.

This film is cleverly written, beautifully put on film with a cast that give stellar performances that had me from go. Filled with eerie creaks, flashing lights, and things that go bump in the night, GHOST STORIES is everything and a bag of spooky that I watched in the dark and would do so again.

In the end – the brain sees what it wants to see!

 

 

BEIRUT Tells a Deeper Story

Beirut

Jeri Jacquin

In theatres from director Brad Anderson and Bleeker Street Media is a story with twists that lead to truth while in BEIRUT.

Mason Skiles (Jon Hamm) is a diplomat in Beirut keeping his finger on the pulse of what is happening around him, or so he thought. During a party, Cal Riley (Mark Pellegrino) comes to warn him that the young boy Karim, who the family has practically adopted, is going to be taken in for questioning. His older brother Abu Rajal (Hicham Ouraqa) is a Palestinian terrorist involved in the massacre at the Munich Olympics

Before that can happen, the party is terrorized as bullets fly and Karim is grabbed. In the midst of the firefight, Skiles wife Nadia (Leila Bekhti) is killed. Fast forward a few years and Skiles has reached rock bottom as a labor negotiator job he barely cares about and swimming in alcohol.

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Sitting at a bar with his favorite drink, Skiles is approached to take money and a plane ticket back to Beirut to lecture at the university. Never wanting to return to Beirut again, something tells him to get aboard the plane. Once there he is met by Sandy Crowder (Rosamund Pike), Donald Gaines (Dean Norris), and Gary Ruzak (Shea Whigham) who finally tell him why he’s really there – Cal Riley has been taken and the kidnappers only want to negotiate with Skiles.

Discovering it is a grown Karim (Idir Chender) who is calling the shots and only trusts Skiles to make the exchange happen. An exchange is demanded, Riley for Karim’s brother who seems to have disappeared. Believing that it is the Israeli’s who have him, Skiles investigates and also discovers the PLO minister is keeping secrets as well.

In the middle of this is a war in a war torn country that is getting more and more out of hand by the minute. No one can be trusted and deception seems to be the order of the minute.

Crowder is trying to keep up with Skiles as he slips through the city discovering that there is more at play here than just Riley’s kidnapping. There are others in the governments involved and their seedy agenda becomes clear.

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Both Skiles and Crowder are going to make the exchange happen but on their terms.

Hamm as Skiles begins as a man who seems to have the charming ability to move in a crowd and do what needs doing. Once the world he thought he knew was shattered, there didn’t seem to be any purpose to anything Skiles does. That is until Riley is taken does he slowly come out of the daze and snaps back into discovering he is the absolute right person to get the job done. Hamm’s performance is intense yet his character takes a moment to remember in the middle of rubble how all of the events came to be.

Pike as Crowder wants to believe that Skiles is right for the job and that’s the dilemma. Knowing someone is right for a job and seeing the state they are currently in means never being quite sure if they can be trusted. Pike shines as a woman who not only takes her job seriously but knows that playing the international game of cat and mouse puts her right in the middle of danger.

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Chender as Karim is caught up in the what is happening in Beirut. Finding a life with Skiles as a young boy he enjoyed being with them. The moment he is taken it is clear that studying and being part of the family will quickly become a distant memory. When the time comes to trust someone, that may be the one thing Karim knows to be true about Skiles. Chender gives his character such complexity in a situation none of us could possibly understand. This is the life mixed with what was and what became of a young life.

Other cast include Dean Norris as Donald Gaines, Shea Whigham as Gary Ruzak, Douglas Hodge as Sully, Jonny Coyne as Bernard Teppler, Leila Bekhti as Nadia, Kate Fleetwood as Alice, Alon Aboutboul as Roni Niv, Sonia Okacha as Sondrine and Mohamed Zouaoui as Fahmi.

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BEIRUT is a film that is a reminder of the fragile peace and intense wars in the Middle East that are waged with others calling the shots. Their agendas may seem up front but for everyone to get what they want, deals are made and deals are brokered in 1982.

The cast are quick with a storyline that is constantly in flux and never once give away which way the chase will go or how it will end. The cinematography is flawless and adds another depth to the very intense story being told.

In the end – Beirut of 1982 and the Paris of the Middle East is burning!

THE LION KING Roars onto Bluray

Lion king bluray

Jeri Jacquin

This week on Bluray/DVD and Digital and directors Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff is the Signature Walt Disney Collection and the Circle of Life Edition of THE LION KING.

On Pride Rock a new prince is born to Mufasa (James Earl Jones) and Sarabi (Madge Sinclair). Simba (Jonathan Taylor Thomas) begins to learn the ways of the pride under the watchful eye of Zazu (Rowan Atkinson). Joined by Nala (Niketa Calame), the two young cubs explore their world.

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Also watching the young prince is Scar (Jeremy Irons), Simba’s angry and plotting uncle who wants what Mufasa has. In one afternoon Scar, along with the help from hyenas Banzai (Cheech Marin) and Shenzi (Whoopie Goldberg), rid the pride lands of their king and prince.

Simba makes his way across the plains meeting Timon (Nathan Lane) and Pumbaa (Ernie Sabella) but always remembering home. Simba (Matthew Broderick) has now grown to a full size lion enjoying his days until one day he meets Nala (Moira Kelly) again. She is very upset thinking that he was dead but now needs him to return to help the pride from his nasty uncle.

After a talk with Rafiki (Robert Guillaume), Simba knows he must return and set things right for the memory of his father and the survival of the pride!

Thomas as the young Simba has the voice filled with mischief and fun. That’s what catches the kid in us all. His musical relationship with Timon and Pumbaa gave us all a new phrase into the lexicon with ‘Hakuna Matata!’ Broderick as the older Simba brings the intensity to the young lion and a past that he must face head on.

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Irons as Scar is creepy, scary and awesome all rolled into one. I just love his vocal portrayal that drips with distain and sugar sprinkled on it. Jones as Mufasa could be the only one to speak for Mufasa.

Lane as Timon is hilarious along with Sabella as the endearing Pumbaa. Together they are perfection in the film. Goldberg and Marin as the very sarcastic and self-entertaining hyenas. They made me laugh because of their laugh!

Guillaume as Rafiki is that crazy shaman who seems slightly off until you realize that it’s just his way to capture your attention and the truth about life. Atkinson as Zazu is equally endearing and quite different than most physical roles he has played.

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment began distributing under its own label in 1980 and continues to bring quality programming to kids and kids at heart. Home of the most beloved animated features including SNOW WHITE, PINOCCHIO and SLEEPING BEAUTY to name a few is what keeps families coming back for more. To see what is currently available to add to your own family library please visit. www.movies.disney.com for their At Home titles!

THE LION KING on Bluray has amazing Bonus Extras that include The Recording Session – Enter the recording booth and watch never-before-seen voice recording sessions, Inside The Story Room – Rare archival footage shows the origins of five iconic scenes, Visualizing a Villain – Performance Artist David Garibaldi creates his own unique interpretation of the iconic villain Scar, The Lion King: Song Selection – All new sing-along version of the movie with ‘Circle of Life’, “I Just Can’t Wait To Be King’, ‘Be Prepared’, ‘Hakuna Matata’ and ‘Can You Feel The Love Tonight’.

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 What can be said about THE LION KING that hasn’t been said a hundred times over? This is a fantastic film filled with so many themes of love, family, togetherness, adversity, trials and redemption. This is one of Disney’s most memorable films and it will continue to be for more generations.

It is hard to believe that THE LION KING graced theatres in 1994 and now, in 2017, twenty-three years later the film still holds firm with audiences. The best part is that on Bluray it is absolutely stunning. The picture is unbelievable and the color is so impressive! Watching the film with my granddaughter I think we were both jaw dropped and enraptured at the same time and I’d have it no other way.

The Circle of Life Edition of THE LION KING has something even more exciting inside with a Limited Edition 35-mm film strip frame that has been sourced from the film’s original digital files. Absolutely amazing!

In the end – the King has returned!

MINE is an Emotion Journey Standing Still on Bluray

Mine Bluray

 

Jeri Jacquin

This week on Bluray & DVD from directors Fabio Guaglione and Fabio Resinaro with WELL GO USA Entertainment is the intense story of a man and a MINE.

Sgt. Mike Stevens (Armie Hammer) is a sniper and with best friend Sgt. Tommy Madison (Tom Cullen) are on a mission in the middle of the desert. Their objective is to take out the leader of a terrorist cell. Setting up to neutralize the target, Mike hesitates when he realizes a wedding is happening.

When discovered on the hilltop, Mike and Tommy take cover until the chase is over. Unable to be picked up due to a sand storm, the two begin a trek through the desert to reach the nearest town. The sand uncovers a sign that Mike believes to be a warning of a mine field.

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Tommy doesn’t think it’s true but everything changes when a mine explodes and Mike hears a click below his foot. The world stops for a moment and his worst fears are happening. Trying to reach his command for help, Mike is told that a caravan would be his way but not for 52 hours.

The sun beats down on Mike when he meets a man named Berber (Clint Dryer) who wonders why the soldier doesn’t just walk on. Frustrated, Mike tries to explain the situation but the man keeps asking questions. The one thing he knows important is water asking the villager for some.

As night falls Mike must deal with the animals in the desert and another day in the heat with clear hallucinations setting in begins to test his resolve. Looking for a solution, Mike is also confronted with his life, choices made and questions he has continually refused to consider answers for.

Then there is Jenny (Annabelle Wallis), the woman he loves and it becomes clear that Mike must get home to love and the chance to make life right again. Waiting for the convoy becomes too much when Mike begins to question whether Berber was even real. When the enemy discovers him before the convoy, it becomes a question of survival.

It takes only a moment to decide.

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Hammer as Mike is absolutely brilliant as this soldier who is forced to face his life. His moment of hesitation when taking out the target has brought him to the point of being on his knees. From sand storms, desert wolves and hallucinations that are full of truths, Hammer takes hit after hit from all sides wearing his character down to rock bottom. Watching his deterioration there is a moment I thought, “My strength is dried up like a fragment of clay pottery … you have brought me into the dust of death” (Psalms 22).

Cullen as Tommy knows that his buddy hesitated far too long on the mission yet drives him onward through the desert. Tommy’s goal is to a phone and talk to his son. Refusing to believe the sign meant anything cost him everything. Yet he watches over his friend in ways that are spiritually amazing.

Dyer as Berber is a beautiful man who may ask a lot of questions but Mike isn’t in the mood to hold a friendly conversation. As night turns to day Berber is amazed that Mike is still standing and shares a little of his life. His voice is soothing and the heart he shows the soldier is more than I could ever have expected. Just a lovely character in a harsh situation that sees something amazing in a man who sees little in himself.

Other cast include Geoff Bell as Mike’s Father, Juliet Aubrey as Mike’s Mother, Ines Pinar Mille as Berber’s daughter and Daniel Sandoval as a young Mike.

Well Go USA Entertainment is an amazing company that brings the best of Action and Independent films from around the world. There format includes theatres, digital, cable and VOD along with Bluray. For more of what they have to offer go to www.wellgousa.com.

Well done Well Go USA Entertainment for bringing such a original, intense, and emotional film to Bluray and DVD because this is an visual experience not soon forgotten.

The Bluray and DVD include the Bonus Features of Deleted Scenes, The Making of, Trailer, VFX and Storyboard and is also available in Spanish Language.

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MINE is a powerful film that will take the viewer on a journey through every range of human emotions. As Sgt. Mike’s mind begins to wander through the story and events of his life, we all become voyeurs into the painful memories of a soldier who was a boy and a son first.

Becoming immediately engaged in the story, Hammer’s performance is amazing up until the very last scene which, by the way, almost broke me. Standing in one spot for 52 hours doesn’t allow for distractions and the realities of one’s life are right there in front of him. Although the story revolves around this soldiers struggle, it doesn’t take stepping on a mine to understand every bit of what he is going through mentally and spiritually.

The way the storyline comes together is brilliant and just tore me up. Know that when watching because I will not give anything away about the film – this one falls under the category of the less said the better. Be prepared for everything.

In the end – stand your ground!

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