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UNDERWATER Brings Tension in the Ocean’s Depths

Underwater cover

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres this Friday from director William Eubank and 20th Century Fox comes the depths of the Mariana Trench and what is truly UNDERWATER.

Deep below the depths is a research laboratory platform that in a minute becomes a potential watery grave. Mechanical Engineer Norah (Kristen Stewart) is the first to notice the leaking vessel as the walls begin to close in and wetter rushes in. Trying to alert the crew, she finds Rodrigo (Mamoudou Athie) as they look for the safest place to be.

Making their way they find crew mate Paul (T.J. Miller), Emily (Jessica Henwick), Smith (John Gallagher Jr.) and Lee (Gunner Wright) as well as the Captain (Vincent Cassel). Knowing they have no choice but to leave the platform, the Captain decides the best route is to another platform and to go by walking!

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Almost immediately there is a sense that something is down in the depths with them. The shadows come closer and closer until the creatures reveal themselves. Their goal is to take out the humans and the human’s goal is to get to the other platform alive.

Norah knows how to work the mechanics to try and keep their oxygen packs working and as the group is taken down one by one, she is more determined than ever to get to the surface!

What is down in the depths with them is nothing anyone has ever seen before.

Stewart as Norah doesn’t waste a moment jumping into action. Practically from the beginning of the film the action kicks in and so does Stewart. She thinks fast on her feet (considering what is under her feet is quickly turning to water) and is doing everything to keep her wits. This isn’t a role that will make or break Stewart, but it is a role that is pretty strong, and I don’t mind that.

Cassel as the Captain knows the only way out is through the murky waters and doing it walking in very heavy suits. Having the chance to get out while the getting was good, the Captain wants everyone to get out. I love Cassel because he is so diverse in every role he has played and can get flamboyant or subtle, but his presence is palpable.

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Henwick as Emily is a young woman who isn’t having an easy time accepting what is happening and what is going to happen. She has a nervous talk and covers a wide range of subjects in a short period of time one minute and can hold a conversation with herself the next. Then again, I’m not sure how any of us would react in that situation!

Miller is the winner of the film and he is hilarious which is the tension breaker in a film loaded with it. His one-liners and need for a bunny gave us all the chance to laugh off the intensity of the story. I just love any time he’s on screen because I never know what’s going to come out of his mouth. Gallagher Jr. and Wright get a chance to run for their lives as well and once the creature is exposed, its just run or be food.

UNDERWATER is a mixture of genre films like ALIENS, THE ABYSS and the like but you know what – I’m good with that. I understand that January isn’t the month for big time releases which might play well for the film. UNDERWATER is an intense, humorous (thanks to Miller) and seat jumping story that doesn’t require a lot from the audience. I know that sounds a bit snarky but I don’t mean it that way at all.

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There is something awesome about the holidays being over and needing a film that just lets you sit back with a tub of popcorn and have a good time. I don’t know anyone that didn’t have a jump for five or six thanks to a creature that is just too creepy to be on land. Instead, there is a right amount of everything in UNDERWATER.

So load up family and friends to hit the theatre for an experience of thrills and watery chills because it’s a great way to start the new year!

In the end – seven miles below the ocean surface something has awakened!

READY OR NOT Because it’s Back on Bluray!

Ready or Not Cover
Jeri Jacquin
Coming to Bluray and Digital from directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment comes the usual lethal family drama in READY OR NOT.
It is the happiest day of Grace’s (Samara Weaving) life as she is marrying Alex Le Domas (Mark O’Brien). Even as he uses humor to warn about the Le Domas family, Grace is just happy to finally be part of one.
After the wedding, Grace and Alex take a few moments for each other but are interrupted by the eerie Aunt Helene (Nicky Guadagni). She announces that the family is gathering wanting Grace and Alex to join them.
Surrounding the Le Domas table are Alex’s brother Daniel (Adam Brody), his wife Charity (Elyse Levesque), mother Becky (Andi MacDowell), father Tony (Henry Czerny), sister Emilie (Melanie Scrofano), and husband Fitch (Kristian Bruun).
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Tony announces that every time a new person comes into the family, they spend the first evening playing a game as a welcome. All Grace has to do is pick a card from a box which seems simple enough to her. The card ‘hide and seek’ is drawn and the entire family becomes silent and Alex gets pale.
Going along to get along Grace is given a head start and once gone the rest of the family start getting ready – by arming up. You see, the Le Domas family believes that if they don’t seek Grace, something horrible will happen to the family.
Alex sneaks away to find Grace and finally fesses up as to what is happening. Grace is about to taken on a whole family proving she can take whatever nonsense they dish out, including crazy butler Stevens (John Ralston). The in-laws are on the hunt and they aren’t about to stop!
Just another family get-together that goes crazy till dawn!
Weaving as Grace is absolutely fantastic and I loved every minute she was on screen. To go from a happy bride to Rambo-ette was very, very cool. I found myself sharing my feelings about her playing this role with lots of shouting and ‘you go girl!’ and cheering. Weaving says, “We had an amazing cast to pull this off and everything just fell into place”. She made a grand entrance in white and she made an even grander exit leaving us all wanting more so that’s exactly falling into place!
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O’Brien as Alex marries Grace knowing full well what is about to happen. I’m was not sure how I felt about him throughout the film. I mean your fiancé knows his family is crazy but waits till after the ‘I do’ to say something? Every bride’s worst fear right? Brody as brother Daniel has his own issues with the family but he’d rather go numb with alcohol than deal with any of it.
Czerny as Tony is just plain nutty but made me laugh a LOT. He wants to keep the family together and doesn’t mind doing it with a shotgun. Bruun as Fitch just goes along to get along because being married to Emilie means happy crazy life-happy crazy wife! mother Becky (Andi MacDowell),
Scrofano as Emilie is just a little to tender to do what her family thinks must be done and Levesque as Charity doesn’t have a problem with it what so ever. Guadagni as Aunt Helene is absolutely priceless and she cracked me up repeatedly even though I’m sure she was meant to scare me instead. Now Ralston as Stevens scared me more – well done sir!
MacDowell as mom Becky just stuns in this role. She is happy to have her son back home and thanks Grace for doing it. Hard to believe when she has a weapon in her hand right? Talking about the making of the film she says, “It’s scary to think how everyone was perfectly cast in the film, especially with the role I play. I had a lot of fun being cast in this type of role because I’ve played so many sweet characters and I’m not sweet”. She about sums it up perfectly!
Other cast include Liam MacDonald as Georgie, Ethan Tavares as Gabe, Hanneke Talbot as Clara, Celine Tsai as Tina and Daniela Barbosa as Dora.
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Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment brings award-winning global product and new entertainment to DVD, Bluray, and Digital HD. There amazing collection offers fans an opportunity to expand their own home libraries with the best films. To discover what other titles they have please visit www.fox.com.
The Bluray Special Features include Let the Games Begin: The Making of READY OR NOT, Gag Reel, Audio Commentary by Radio Silence and Samara Weaving and Gallery.
READY OR NOT is a fabulous film filled with terror and laughs which, if you think about it, is an odd combination. That’s what makes the film a must-see for me because of the combination of terror and laughs. I mean yes it has violence but it’s by a bunch of people who are just completely out of their minds.
I love the cinematography, costuming and the interesting choices of weapons (like Clue with Fitch-in-the-library-with-a-crossbow feel to it). The story behind the family gathering is pretty interesting as well because it is never let on whether it is true or not – until it is.
Prepare to have a good time because you might take a good look around at your own clan and not complain so much about your own family ever again.
In the end – let the game begin!

The Band is Back Together with ZOMBIELAND: Double Tap

Zombieland cover
Jeri Jacquin
Just in time for the spooky and creepy season from director Ruben Fleischer and Columbia Pictures is the continuation of rules to survival with ZOMBIELAND: Double Tap.
So a few years have gone by since we last checked in with the apocalypse survivors as Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) are taking a zombie break living in a big white house. Columbus and Wichita have settled into being a couple, Tallahassee is working on a new vehicle and Little Rock is getting itchy feet.
Thinking that Wichita might need something to look forward to, Columbus does his best to clear a path for their life. Spooked by his suggestion, both the girls pack up and hit the road. A month later, Columbus is heartbroken and Tallahassee is about to lose his mind with his whining so hitting up the local mall the two get more than they bargained for. Cute and fluffy Madison (Zoey Deutch) has survived in a mall and is happy to see others.
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So happy that she latches onto Columbus which doesn’t work out really well when Witchita resurfaces with the news that Little Rock has taken up with a non-gun-toting-pacifist named Berkeley (Avan Jogia). On their way to Graceland perks Tallahassee up and all four jump into a vehicle to make their way to see the King – oh yea, and to get Little Rock Back.
Finding a hotel, the gang (minus one and plus one) meet Nevada (Rosario Dawson), Albuquerque (Luke Wilson) and Flagstaff (Thomas Middleditch). In a scuffle to end all scuffles, the gang (minus one with no plus one) heads off for a place called Babylon where Little Rock is supposed to be.
Well, to make a long story short (I know, too late!), Babylon is a perfect place for Berkeley with their non-gun-pacifist-giving-post-apocalyptic-peace-a-chance. All that would be wonderful except for one thing, a new breed of zombies affectionately called T-800’s are headed toward the drum circle and the only people that know how to stop them are going to do just that!
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Eisenberg as Columbus is sticking to his rules (well, except for Madison) and knows that since they’ve been laying low for a bit their zombie skills might be a little rusty. Once Wichita comes back the tension is full of well-deserved shade. Eisenberg doesn’t miss a Columbus step. Stone as Wichita is still a strong lady who doesn’t know what she wants relationship wise and her protective sister instincts are strong. She is just fun all the way around.
Breslin as Little Rock has itchy feet because she’s tired of hanging out with people not her age. It isn’t easy and when she meets Berkeley, Little Rock sees a chance to do something different while paying homage to Cheech & Chong with a little road trip. Jogia as Berkeley reminds me of every cliché about guitar playing pacifists to the point that agreeing with Tallahassee is hilarious.
Speaking of Harrelson as Tallahassee, he has become the father figure to the group whether he likes it or not. When Little Rock runs off you can see his ‘dad’ side come out with wanting to do only one thing – end Berkeley. I love that Harrelson finally got a chance to ham it up with some Elvis impersonating.
Shout out to Deutch as Madison because her character is just everything we never thought we wanted for Zombieland. She is hilarious, speaks her mind even if it doesn’t make sense, isn’t judgmental towards the situation the world finds itself in, is just the happiest survivor I think I’ve ever seen. Plus she looks absolutely fabulous through the entire film!
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Dawson as Nevada is a nice addition to the storyline, Wilson as Albuquerque has a truck bigger than Tallahassee’s and Middleditch as Flagstaff knows his Terminator movies and quotes. That’s all I’m saying about that because you should have all the giggles I did with the new additions to the Zombieland universe.
First, what I love best about ZOMBIELAND: Double Tap is that the storyline doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel. Instead, it picks up a few years later without missing a sarcastic beat. The characters have become a little lazy behind the walls of their big ole house so adventures in zombieland are inevitable. What hasn’t changed is their idiosyncrasies, their need to not admit that they are feeling anything out of the ordinary like commitment, or the fact that they treat each other exactly as they did in 2009.
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Think about that for a minute, it’s been 10 years since we were introduced to ZOMBIELAND and the only one that has aged is Abigail Breslin. Harrelson, Eisenberg and Stone look fantastic and I can’t express enough how glad I am that they all came back to make this sequel. Let’s be honest, sequels don’t always work out well and it is mainly because the expectations are really high. In ZOMBIELAND: Double Tap, the only thing I expected is that the humor be at the same level as before and I wasn’t disappointed in any way.
I had a fun time, enjoyed getting reacquainted with old friends and understanding that the rules that Columbus introduced us to in 2009 are what kept these characters alive. In their world all bets are off because the only thing they need to do is remember they are a family – oh and stay alive!
That’s right folks, no spoilers here because there is oh so much more to see and make sure you don’t run out of the theatre just because you see credits!
In the end – it’s their world and we just get to enjoy it.

It is the 40th Anniversary of Our Worst Space Fears with ALIEN

 

Aliens cover

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to 4K Ultra HD, Bluray and Digital from director Ridley Scott is the 1979 alien horror film that put everyone in fright mode with the 40th Anniversary of ALIEN.

Captain Dallas (Tom Skerritt), along with crew Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), Lambert (Veronica Cartwright), Brett (Harry Dean Stanton), Parker (Yaphet Kotto), Ash (Ian Holm) and Kane (John Hurt) are on the commercial space ship Nostromo. Awaken from hyper-sleep by Mother, they are told that a transmission of unknown origin needs to be investigated.

On LV-426 Dallas, Lambert and Kane land and discovers odd surroundings that make no sense. Kane is lowered down to a place he believes is some kind of hatchery and what happens next scares the crew beyond belief. Returning to the ship, Dallas explains to Ripley that something has attached itself to Kane’s helmet and she refuses to let them aboard citing possible contamination.

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Ash overrides Ripley opening the door allowing Kane in who is brought to the infirmary. The process then begins to remove what ever it is on Kane’s face causing what could only be considered as acid to break through the metal of the ship. Surprising everyone, the organism falls off Kane’s face and he seems fine. That is until a creature emerges from Kane that hides in the ship.

Now the survivors must go inch by inch through the ship to find the creature. Realizing it can hide in the smallest of spaces they must find a way to track and keep it from taking the entire crew.

Sometimes the scariest things come from inside!

Weaver as Ripley took 1979 by storm as a woman who is smart, inventive and questions everything around her. She took this role and made it iconic in showing another characteristic, that of true fear. Weaver made an impact that has reverberated for years (at least 40 of them with this film) and with her return in ALIENS in 1986, ALIENS 3 in 1992 and ALIEN: Resurrection in 1997, it has become clear she is Ellen Ripley and we will accept no other.

Skerritt as Dallas is a Captain who does what he is told by the computer Mother. Once he realizes that what was brought on board is nothing short of a holy terror, he is always the first one in much to his detriment. Cartwright as Lambert knows that what is now aboard is coming for them all and she has to do her part. Trust when I say that Cartwright’s characters fear is palatable and frightening.

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Stanton as Brett is a man with a plan and that plan is to make sure he gets more money for all the work he thinks he’s done. Joining him in that chorus is Kotto as Parker because he too believes he is worth more than the company thinks he is. These two together bring a few chuckles but when things start to turn, so do their survival instincts.

Hurt as Kane has the most impactful performance because it is that moment on the table during dinner that let us all know our film world would never be the same. Hurt has spent years being a part of the ALIEN franchise because of that scene. I’ve even seen a comedy skit that he did which shows he not only took his role in stride but had a great sense of humor about it.

Holm as Ash would also be a character that would continue on through the franchise in ways we could never have imagined. Ash is a cold (and not just because he lacked blood) individual who only sees how magnificent the alien is holding no animosity for what it is capable of doing.

Of course we can not forget to give credit where terror credit is due and that is the alien itself. Acid for blood, a long narrow head, a whipping tale and a double set of jaws that show no mercy. If it wasn’t for any of those things being put together in a terrifying package, the ALIEN franchise wouldn’t have worked. To our pure enjoyment – it did and to this day still does.

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment brings award-winning global product and new entertainment to DVD, Bluray, and Digital HD. There amazing collection offers fans an opportunity to expand their own home libraries with the best films. To discover what other titles they have please visit www.fox.com.

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

The Special Features of the 4K Ultra HD and Bluray include The 1979 Theatrical Version and the 2003 Director’s Cut of ALIEN, Audio Commentary by Director Ridley Scott, Cast and Crew, Audio Commentary by Ridley Scott (Theatrical Version Only), Introduction by Ridley Scott (Directors Cut Only and Bluray Only), Final Theatrical Isolated Score by Jerry Goldsmith, Composer’s Original Isolated Score by Jerry Goldsmith and Deleted and Extended Scenes.

ALIEN: The 40th Anniversary is just as magnificent today as it was in 1979. There isn’t anything about this film that needs to be critiqued nor should anyone really try except to say that this film is a work of art. It has done what films that excel were meant to do – not withstand the test of time but not be affected by time.

Experiencing ALIEN now, every aspect of space, the ship, the surroundings, the technology feel as if it could have been film today. Each of the films does that actually and I am a huge fan of ALIEN binge watching several times a year. Only good filmmaking can bring that about for me.

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Ridley Scott opens the film speaking about the 1979 film version saying he is really proud of it and now with DVD there have been adjustment and changes he felt were needed. He is reintroducing footage in the 2003 version making “minor adjustments because after 25 years you see little things you like to adjust. I hope you agree with me and enjoy it”.

What 4K Ultra HD/Bluray and Digital copy of ALIEN brings is the original 1979 theatrical version of the film and the 2003 Director’s Cut. The 4K Ultra is absolutely clear and stunning in its color and presentation, just thought I’d through that personal observation in again. Having them both known as the best of both outer worlds!

In the end – in space no one can hear you scream.

 

ARCTIC Brings Life and Death into a Cold Reality

arctic cover

Jeri Jacquin

In theatres from writer/director Joe Penna and Bleeker Street comes the harsh reality and decisions that pit him against the ARCTIC.

Overgard (Mads Mikkelsen) is stranded after an airplane crash in the desolate part of the Arctic. Living day to day he rises, fishes, makes sure a message can be seen from the air and sits on a hill to send out a signal to anyone who may be listening. Living inside the wreckage of his plane is the only thing between himself and the elements.

While sending out his usual signal, he suddenly sees a helicopter and couldn’t be more surprised. Glee turns to horror when the crafts swings out of control and crashes to the ground. Racing towards the wreckage, Overgard discovers one pilot dead and another, a young woman (Maria Smaradottir), still alive.

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Gathering what medical supplies are on board, he loads the young woman onto a sled and takes her back to the plane. Returning to the wreckage, he gathers up anything that can be used to help continue their survival. One such item is a map!

As the days pass, Overgard continues to study the map and use the limited medical supplies but it is clear that his patient needs more than he can provide. That’s when he makes the decision to load up and pull her to the nearest station to find help for them both.

The trip is long, arduous and Overgard is faced with decisions that bring him to the breaking point!

Mikkelsen as Overgard is a man who seems to have fallen into a day to day routine of survival. He always keeps his safe haven of a wrecked plane within visual distance, especially when there is a chance to encounter animals who live in the Arctic. There is a back-story to how he came to survive the crash but there are only glimpses of it which leaves the rest to the viewer. Mikkelsen is a tremendous actor and I will watch absolutely everything he is in. There is something mysterious about the way he portrays characters and with one look he can stop the world from spinning – well, at least in my world.

Smaradottir as the young woman tries her best to not only communicate with Overgard but hang on, especially when seeing all he has done to keep them both alive. Her role is limited to be sure but each time he checks on her, it becomes clear that there isn’t much time as he pleads with her to just hold on a little longer. That is pretty much what I was saying to myself through the entire film!

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There isn’t much dialogue in the film but then again there doesn’t need to be. There are a few moments when Overgard talks to himself that made me chuckle and there are times when he attempts to communicate with the wounded pilot. Again that is what makes Mikkelsen engaging to watch, everything you want to know you need only watch his expressions, the way he carries himself and the anger that comes with wanting to survive.

The cinematography is absolutely breathtaking with the vastness of wilderness, the peaks and valleys and the unforgiving moments where nature has its own way of doing things. Each time they stopped, Overgard would MacGyver a way to bring them shelter with the minimal supplies he dragged across the snow.

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There are many survival films but there is something extremely breathtaking about a storyline that strips away all the trappings and forces choices that none of us would ever want to make. Throughout the film, this character makes those choices with every step he takes because now survival isn’t just about him – he now has a reason to continue that is about more than one person.

ARCTIC is truly a visual and emotional ride that is beautiful, challenging, heartbreaking and will bring about a breath holding ending that you will long remember after the film has ended.

In the end – survival is its own journey.

 

PAPILLON

 

pappion cover

Jeri Jacquin

In theatres this week from director Michael Noer and Bleeker Street is an epic escape from the man they call PAPILLON.

Henri ‘Papillon’ Charriere (Charlie Hunnam) is living the criminal life in France and seemingly enjoying it all with Nenette (Eve Hewson). His high life comes crashing down when he is accused of murder and sent to a penal colony in French Guiana.

On the way he meets counterfeiter Louis Dega (Rami Malek) and offers to be his security from the attack of others. Once at the prison, they are introduced to Warden Barrot (Yorick van Wageningen) who makes it plain that he will tolerate no breaking of the rules. Papillon tries to set up the best jobs with the money Dega has. It all seems to be going well until they duo hear from Deputy Gordon. The officer has a history with Dega and paybacks put the two into hard labor.

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Around heavy rock, explosive and other angry prisoners, Papillon is determined to find a way out. As he sees the extreme brutality of their incarceration and it only pushes him harder. Dega also makes it clear that he wants to leave any way possible but when a moment presents itself, Papillon leaves him behind.

Back at the prison, the Warden makes it clear that what Papillion will experience next is not rehabilitation but the insanity of silence. Two years later and Papillon and Dega meet once again and the plan picks up where they left off. This time they enlist the help of Celier (Roland Moller), Maturette (Joel Basman) and a boat.

Free on an island Papillon meets a nun who help the survivors of the boat escape to recuperate but it is short lived. Five years later Papillon and Dega reunite on Devil’s Island with no bars and no real guards. Just learning to survive in the harshest conditions and still burning with the idea of escape.

One more time – one more chance!

Hunnam as Papillon reaches out to every spectrum of human emotion in the over two hour span of story telling. To the crazy years never-a-care years in France, to what he must do to survive the prison, two years of solitary confinement, torture, near starvation and darkness. Every bit of it shows in Hunnam’s portrayal and at times it’s disturbing to witness. He carries the full weight of this film and it shows in every frame.

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Malek as Dega is clearly a man who has never been in a situation to need protection but quickly realizes its Papillon that can provide it. The problem is Dega consistently forces others to take up his slack forcing his protector to protect overtime. As each day passes, Dega becomes wiser and a little more taking of a punch. Malek gives his stoic character life when it needs it and acceptance when all else fails.

Wageningen as Barrot is a man determined to run a prison with an iron fist. He is not about to let Papillon change any of that. Finding more and more way to try and break him, it is not an easy feat with the strong willed man.

Moller as Celier is just as crafty as they come knowing Papillon is the guy to make it happen. Riding his coattails out the prison door is exactly what he intends to do. Basman as Maturette is the boyish young man who is just as deadly as the company he is keeping.

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Other cast include Nina Senicar as the Leper, Michael Socha as Julot, Christopher Fairbank as Jean Castili, Ian Beattie as Toussaint, Nick Kent as Brioulet, and Brian Vernel as Guittou.

In 1973, Steve McQueen took on the role of Papillon and along with Dustin Hoffman proved he was the perfect leading man to handle the telling of director Franklin J. Schaffner’s vision. For it’s time it was ground breaking as the film garnered an Oscar Nomination for Best Music Original Dramatic Score and a Golden Globe nomination for Steve McQueen.

Forty-five years later we have a darker telling with Hunnam and Malek digging even deeper into the lives of these two men and a place that is equal to hell on earth. The film is grim in the cinematography to match the story and where it takes us. It is harsh, intense, and a momentary reunion between two SOA (FX’s series Sons of Anarchy) brothers that tugged at my heart.

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PAPILLON is a book written by Henri Charriere published in France in 1969 about his 14 years in prison. It became a best seller and is still considered today one of the best books published. Charriere would spend the rest of his life in Venezuela as a free man with his story written and seen on the screen.

In the end – this is the greatest escape adventure ever told!

TO AUSCHWITZ and BACK: The Joe Engel Story

to auschwitz dvd

Jeri Jacquin

Currently on DVD from Ron Small, Anchor Media Group and the Holocaust Education Film Foundation is the amazing story TO AUSCHWITZ and BACK: The Joe Engel Story.

Joe Engel has an incredible story to tell in this documentary. He begins telling the story of his family in Zakroczym, Poland in 1927. They lived ten miles from the train station and his father used a team of horses to get anywhere. He learned early that being Jewish was a painful experience recalling when they were required to wear the yellow Star of David and others who were taken out and shot.

In the Warsaw Ghetto, the Nazi’s took all their belongings and they spent a two day train ride arriving in a demolished city. The war had taken its toll leaving them with no electricity or running water with 20-30 people to a room. Living in fear of the Gestapo, they also feared the Jewish police who were equally as cruel.

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He tells about the loading of the trains with people from the Ghetto not knowing where they were going but knowing they didn’t return. Eventually, Joe was 14 when they came for him separating the entire family. The train he rode on arrived at Birkenau to see the ironwork sign ARBEIT MACHT FREI (If you work hard enough you might survive) and after having his head shaved and tattooed with a number, he learned that Joseph Mengle was there as well.

Thousands and thousands of Jews were dispersed throughout the camps and Joe was the third person in a four bunk bed. Living in the cold the got up at 5 a.m. for roll call and for breakfast a slice of bread and they were set to work. Coming home at days end everything was done in reverse.

One day soldiers came looking for volunteers to go to Auschwitz and believing that Birkenau was the worse place on earth, Joe agreed to go. He learned to lay bricks and eat a little better but he also saw people starving and dying before his eyes. If anyone was sick, the doctor would report them to the Germans.

Joe is horrified still that one man could have such control over the German people causing them to treat fellow human beings with such atrocity. He learned himself of that cruelty when he was punished for an infraction yet he survived.

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In January of 1945, Joe was 17 and was forced on the Death March where trains were waiting to take them to Germany. The trains did not have any roofs and it was snowing so feeling he had nothing to lose, Joe escaped. Now he is learning survival of a different kind not know who to trust.

He meets a man who introduces him to the Resistance and he becomes a freedom fighter going on missions to bomb German police stations. The Liberation in 1945 by the Red Army, he ate well for the first time since he could remember. Returning home, Joe was hoping that everyone would return to their home town. In the months that followed, no one came home. He left for the American DP camps until they sent him to the United States. Finding family in the U.S., he ended up in South Carolina.

After the war, Joe discovers that his some of his family survived the Holocaust but they wanted to know how he survived! As a way to never forget, his nephew Dr. Michael Engel tattooed the number 84009 – the number Joe was given when he arrived at the concentration camp.

In Charleston, South Carolina there is a wall that is in memory of six million Jews who suffered at the hands of the Nazis. Joe believes it is very important to not forget the past but remind ourselves so that it will never happen to anyone else in the future.

The Holocaust Education Film Foundation was established in 2018 and has built an international, interactive online community one Holocaust survivor at a time. Through full-length documentaries, distributed globally through numerous platforms, the online site and educational programs, the 501c3 foundation seeks to ensure that we never forget.

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TO AUSCHWITZ AND BACK: The Joe Engel Story is a story told exactly as it happened to a very young man in 1927 Poland. Joe tells it with such memorable detail that I could not help but soak in every word he said. Even when talking about what he did in the resistance, Joe held my attention as if holding my chin with his own hands and looking into my eyes.

It is that presence that brings Joe’s story the ability to reach deep down and remind us that those who died are to be honored and those who lived should be listened to with every fiber of our being. Thank you Joe, thank you.

The desert will bloom with flowers. It will be very glad and shout with joy! (Isaiah 35:2) and in that – Joe blooms.

 

 

BREAKING IN Breaks in on Bluray with an Unrated Director’s Cut

Breaking In Cover

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to Bluray/DVD and Digital in an Unrated Director’s Cut (also includes Theatrical Version) from director James McTeigue and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment is a fight when BREAKING IN.

Shaun (Gabrielle Union) learns her father has died and returns home to settle his affairs. Bringing along daughter Jasmine (Ajiona Alexus) and son Glover (Seth Carr), she is glad for the company.

Arriving at the house, Shaun sees that some things are out of the norm. Brushing it off just as quickly, what she fails to notice is that four men have quietly made their way onto the property and toward the house.

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Eddie (Billy Burke), Sam (Levi Meaden), Peter (Mark Furze) and Duncan (Richard Cabral) are there for one thing and one thing only – what ever is in the home safe. First, they have to discover where in the house it is located.

Shaun immediately tries to fight back but finds herself on the outside while Eddie holds her children hostage on the inside. It becomes a game of cat and mouse but this cat has the claws and isn’t afraid to use them.

Now the battle between Mother and criminal begins!

Union as Shaun is clearly a mother tiger when it comes to her children. She is also clever and takes a hot second to think things through. With every move she makes, the burglars keep pace but they aren’t a mother – just greedy criminals. Union gives it her all and does what she must to end the nightmare.

Burke as Eddie has proven over and over that he can play the ‘nicest guy’ characters and equally ply a despicable criminal. In this case he is a laser focused criminal who just wants to get in and get out. It is the company he keeps and Shaun slowing him down at every turn. I have to be honest – I just love Burke.

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Cabral as Duncan is also an actor that has no problem turning on the psycho full blast. In this film he is absolutely terrifying. I kept thinking he didn’t need a weapon because his looks could absolutely kill! I’m excited to see what he does as one of the MC boys in the new series MAYANS M.C. coming this fall to television.

Alexus as Jasmine could easily be Union’s daughter looking like her spitting image. She also has the same mindset in her character as a smart and determined daughter and sister. Carr as Glover tries to keep it all together but lets fact it – he’s a kid and there is a lot to be scared of.

Meaden as Sam isn’t down for what’s happening while trying not to make Eddie or Duncan any angrier than they already are! As the situation becomes more complex – the more panicked he becomes. Furze as Peter doesn’t have an easy time of it and hangs on throughout the film.

Other cast include Jason George as Justin Russell, Christa Miller as Maggie Harris and Damien Leake as Isaac.

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.

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The Bluray and DVD include Alternate Opening – The Gas Station with Commentary by Director James McTeigue and Scriptwriter Ryan Eagle, One Bad Mother – Gabrielle Union shows that there is no limit to what a threatened mother will do to keep her children safe, and why a woman on a mission should never be underestimated, A Filmmaker’s Eye – The crew explores what makes Director James McTeigue’s vision and style uniquely valuable when it comes to creating the right mood for the film and A Lesson in Kicking Ass – a behind-the-scenes look at how physically demanding the role of Shaun was for Gabrielle Union, and the steps production took to ensure the most convincing execution of the stunts throughout the film.

Also, A Hero Evolved – An inspiring account of how leading roles are shifting to embrace the qualities that more diverse actors can bring to the table, Deleted and Extended Scenes as well as Feature Commentary by Director James McTeigue and Scriptwriter Ryan Engle.

Movies Anywhere is the digital app that simplifies and enhances the digital movie collection and viewing experience by allowing consumers to access their favorite digital movies in one place. To find out more please visit www.moviesanywhere.com.

BREAKING IN is a story of survival and the strength of family. These stories are popular with the example of the 1974 horror classic BLACK CHRISTMAS or 2002 film PANIC ROOM. More recently is the 2016 film DON’T BREATHE and the 2017’s film KEEP WATCHING.

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This film uses the mother-tiger story because we all know a movie mom has no problem what-so-ever putting on a Super Mom cape and go full on parent. Taking chances and risks are calculating in the middle of chaos yet Union takes a moment to catch her breath then back to the action.

In its one hour and twenty-seven minutes there isn’t much down time and why would there be? The actions and re-actions are swift like watching a professional ping-pong game.

In the end – payback is a mother!

Love and the Sea lead to ADRIFT

Adrift cover

 

Jeri Jacquin

Sailing into theatres this Friday from director Baltasar Kormakur and STX Entertainment comes the true story of survival when you are ADRIFT.

Tami Oldham (Shailene Woodley) is a young woman who has left her San Diego home to travel the world. Going where ever the tide and jobs take her, Tami ends up in Tahiti cleaning boats.

Putting into the dock, Richard Sharp (Sam Claflin) is a man clearly in love with the sea, even the worst parts of it. Meeting Tami they clearly find a connection for wandering and explore the island and their relationship. They also sail on the boat Richard built himself, the Mayaluga, and Tami couldn’t be happier.

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Richard runs into family friends Peter (Jeffrey Thomas) and Christine (Elizabeth Hawthorne) who own the 44-foot yacht called the Hazana. They are thrilled to ask Richard if he wants to take their boat back to harbor in San Diego with a thank you fee of $10,000 and a return ticket back to Tahiti.

Tami isn’t sure she wants to return to her hometown but Richard sees the money as a way for them to continue to sail where ever their hearts want to go. They set sail on their first 4,000 mile adventure together!

What they are unaware of yet is that one of the most catastrophic hurricanes is coming their way. Trying to avoid it doesn’t work as they batten down the sails and attempt to ride it out. Being thrown around, Tami wakes to a tossed ship, the sails in the water and Richard badly hurt.

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Getting him settled, Tami takes stock of the provisions that are still aboard and drinkable water in the tanks. Grabbing the sextant and a map, she begins to figure out what is the best way they can be rescued before their supplies run out. Questioning every move she makes, it is the steady voice of Richard that guides them.

Because in that is the power of their love.

Woodley as Tami is a free spirited individual who makes it very clear that she goes where the jobs take her with no thought of staying or going. Meeting Richard is a chance to not only share a little bit of herself but really understand the freedom of her life. Woodley personifies that spirit as she has in so many other films. In this instance she is the right actress to draw us all into the journey.

Claflin as Richard is Woodley’s equal on the screen with the same ability to draw us into the spirit of someone who lives for the sea. Good, bad or otherwise, Richard has built a boat that takes him wherever he wants without apologies. It is easy to see how the two would be drawn into a relationship. Richard is a little more reserved that Tami and it is clear he is in love.

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ADRIFT is based on the true story from the book Red Sky in Mourning: A True Story of Love, Loss and Survival at Sea by Tami Oldham Ashcraft. The event happened in October of 1983 when Ashcraft was 23-years-old. A Category 4 hurricane with 50 foot high waves and 160 mph winds were no match for the two sailors.

The film is very well done as it is impossible to not become involved in the story. Of course I believe that all stories about ocean survival are incredible from the mere fact that it is the ocean! It is unpredictable, unrelenting, surprising and majestic and when its waves are ruffled, there is nothing more fierce.

Also, compelling in knowing that there is very little one can do on the ocean when what keeps you alive is taken away. The panic for just food and water isn’t something you can do much about unless you are willing to fish and pray for rain. That’s what makes the difference between giving up and total survival.

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Woodley and Claflin are stellar together and watching them from beginning to end brings a sniffle. The portrayal of their real-life counterparts is sweet and spirited bringing the audience into their story of love and survival.

In the end – their every emotion is as deep as the ocean!

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