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THE REPORT Outs Abuse

The Report cover
Jeri Jacquin
Currently on Amazon Prime Video from writer/director Scott Z. Burns, Unbranded Pictures and Amazon Studios is a story of what happened to detainees after 9-11 because of THE REPORT.
Daniel Jones (Adam Driver) is a staffer for California Democrat Senator Dianne Feinstein (Annette Benning). Chairing the senate Select Committee on Intelligence, she asks Jones to investigate the CIA. Specifically she wants to know about the terror suspects being detained after 9-11.
Putting a team together in a high security location that is practically a vault, Jones is joined by April (Sarah Goldberg) and Julian (Lucas Dixon) pouring through thousands of documents. From the beginning Jones is appalled by what they are finding. The room walls begin to fill up with photos of detainees and their connection to Al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden and the 9-11 attacks.
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What they also discover is the beginnings of the program of torturing also called EITs (Enhanced Interrogation Techniques), like water boarding, in order to get what they feel is vital information about on-going plans or future plans for attacks. It becomes clear to Jones and Feinstein that no one is willing to take responsibility although there is evidence. In particular is evidence of a Panetta Review that Jones is keeping to himself.
During a confirmation hearing of Caroline Krass, Senator Mark Udall (Scott Shephard) let it be known that the Panetta Review believed in the accuracy of the study. That opens pandora’s box as Feinstein is under the gun and Jones is being accused of hacking. Feeling as if the walls are closing in, Jones is forced to make a choice about whether it is time to be a whistleblower or allow the process to have its day.
Believing in everything they have been working on for over six years, Jones and Feinstein put it on the line knowing that once the information is out, they have done their job. The frustration lay in those who would do anything to cover up what has happened and from the Panetta Report from coming out.
Driver as Jones is about as intense as a person could be given his profession. Being asked to head the investigation into the timeline of events and who knew what, when and is responsible for approving the EITs. Like a dog with a bone, Driver gives his character the fortitude to question everyone who is trying to double talk their way out of responsibility. Told not to make anything about his investigation personal, it is clear that personal is the way it needed to be taken in order to get accountability. It is clear Driver can give intensity (hellooooo…Kylo Ren!) and it is that characteristic that gets the viewer into the game asking questions of their own.
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Benning as Feinstein wants answers to the questions that seem to be consistently deflected by her colleagues. With Jones at the helm she finds an ally who isn’t going stop until they get to the root of it all. With ever meeting, ever hearing and every telephone call to the White House, she gets closer to calling the wide net bluff of the misrepresentation of what actually happened.
Shout out to Jon Hamm who plays Denis McDonough. First introduced in the beginning of the film meeting Jones for a job, I’m sure the McConough wished he had taken more of an interested in his job applicant! Trying to stay one step ahead of everything Jones finds, it is Hamm’s character that always seems to be dodging bullets.
This film has a huge, and I mean huge cast and I want to make sure they all get a mention: Corey Stoll as Cyrus Clifford, Linda Powell as Marcy Morris, John Rothman as Senator Whitehouse, Victor Slezak as Senator Rockefeller, Guy Boyd as Senator Chambliss, Alexander Chaplin as Sean Murphy, Joanne Tucker as Gretchen, Maura Tierney as Bernadette, Michael C. Hall as Thomas Eastman, Ian Blackman as Cofer Black, Dominic Fumusa as George Tenet, Fajer Al-Kaisi as Ali Soufan, Douglas Hodge as James Mitchell, T. Ryder Smith as Bruce Jessen, Carlos Gomez as Jose Rodriguez, Tim Nelson as Raymond Nathan, Ted Levine as John Brennan, and Noah Bean as Senator Heinrich.
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Also included in archival footage are Dick Cheney, John Kerry, Rachel Maddow, Donald Rumsfeld, John McCain and former President Barack Obama.
Amazon Prime offers television shows and original content included in its Amazon Prime subscription. Original programs such as CARNIVAL ROW, THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE, and THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL are hit shows. Coming soon is the next series with GOLIATH starring Billy Bob Thornton and it promises to another successful and intense series.
THE REPORT is an in-depth look at what it takes for truth to surface. Driver’s portrayal of Daniel Jones helps us understand the connections and how the departments of the government don’t work together very well. What is actually a stand out statement is when Jones sees a lawyer Cyrus Clifford and is told he doesn’t have a legal problem, he has a sunlight problem – meaning transparency.
That is a stunning way to put it and that statement caused me to listen even more to the story and especially pay attention to the details. So much so that I fell for every minute hook, line and actor. Each of them does an outstanding job with such a difficult subject matter. Keeping the intensity going (as if Driver wasn’t enough!) throughout the film just adds layer upon layer of depth and, I loved it!
In the end – truth matters!

ANGEL HAS FALLEN

FALLEN cover

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres this Friday from writer/director Ric Roman Waugh and Lionsgate is the return of an agent who is set up with ANGEL HAS FALLEN.

Secret Service Agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) is once again guarding a President, this time its President Trumbull (Morgan Freeman). Now a family man, he begins to think it may be time to take a higher position in the agency that affords him less danger. Even military friend Danny Huston (Wade Jennings) offers him a position with his company.

On a fishing trip with President Trumbull, Banning briefly discussed his options and is told to think about what he wants to do. Changing shifts with another agent, Banning heads towards shore but notices something odd coming their way. That’s when all hell breaks loose and he must turn around to save the President.

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Waking up in the hospital he is told the President’s condition is serious and that he is considered the prime suspect in an assassination attempt. Vice President Kirby (Tim Nelson) has taken the oath to temporarily become the President. Assigned to investigate the attack is FBI Agent’s Thompson (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Ramirez (Joseph Millson).

Banning knows that he can not stay handcuffed to the hospital bed if he is to discover who is after President Trumbull and when they will strike next. He turns to the only person he can trust but the history between them is sketchy at best. Clay (Nick Nolte) isn’t a fan of the government and sure knows how to protect himself which is what Banning counts on.

As the truth comes to the surface, and it is brutal, Banning isn’t about to let anyone get their hands on the President and he’ll bulldoze through anyone who tries!

Butler as Banning once again dons a suite and tie to begin with but ends up dirty and beat by the end. It’s what happens in between that makes Butler a perfect Banning. Not afraid in any way to get his hands, or anything else, dirty to make this film as action packed as it is. He’s not so much as a one-liner guy, more like a few questions and then an ass-kicking kind of agent.

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Nolte as Clay is absolutely killer – literally and figuratively – and he brought cheers from the audience. This character is perfect for Nolte and the scenes with Butler are gems. Jennings as Houston once again plays the role he was born to play, a man with a mission who, like a dog with a bone, isn’t about to stop until he gets what he wants.

Smith as Thompson throws her tiny weight around and along with her partner Ramirez are also on a mission – to capture Banning (good luck with that!). Nelson as Kirby takes over while Turnbull is in the hospital. Keeping the country running is his goal as he decides how to move forward in case Turnbull doesn’t come back.

Freeman as Turnbull does what he does best – act very Presidential. Lets be honest, he’s played the commander-in-chief before so we know he’s good at it. I adore Freeman so I don’t mind if he repeats a character because he does it with class.

Other cast include Michael Landes as White House Chief of Staff Sam Wilcox, Piper Perabo as Leah Banning, Lance Reddick as Secret Service Director David Gentry, Mark Arnold as CIA Director James Haskell and Frederick Schmidt as Travis Cole.

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ANGEL HAS FALLEN is an action packed film from beginning to end with a lot of twists and turns. That makes writing about it a little difficult but I’m not about to give anything away.

The audience I screened with was applauding, hollering, cheering and more than happy with the film. Alright, I’ll admit I was having a good time as well. This is the kind of film that cries out ACTION and delivers every bit of it. This film isn’t rocket science or trying to reinvent the wheel.

Instead, it does exactly what I go see action films for – twists, turns, chases, slips and oh so much more. Butler makes sure we get that because, as with the previous FALLEN films, it is what drew us all into the theatres in 2013 with OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN. The story brought us in again in 2016 with LONDON HAS FALLEN.

ANGEL HAS FALLEN falls into line and makes me wonder, what will Mike Banning bring us in 2022?

In the end – loyalty has fallen under fire!

THE VANISHING OF SIDNEY HALL is Stunning Storytelling!

the vanishing

 

Jeri Jacquin

In theatres this week from writer/director Shawn Christensen and A24 is a film that allows us a look inside of a life of secrets with THE VANISHING OF SIDNEY HALL.

Sidney (Logan Lerman) is a young man who sees the world differently than his classmates. He finds solace in writing and is encouraged by his teacher who sees something special in him. Sidney also has a little mystery in his life when a girl who lives across the street lets a bit of her feelings show.

He introduces himself to Melody (Elle Fanning) and they begin a deep relationship that Sidney knows is life changing. What becomes life-altering is when school jock Brett Newport (Blake Jenner) asks Sidney to hold something for him and to tell no one. Happy to oblige, he is also curious about what had Brett so nervous.

What happened between the two young men becomes the subject of Sidney’s book that sky-rockets him to literary stardom. The fame becomes a whirlwind that begins to affect his relationship with Melody and when it all begins to fall apart – Sidney disappears without a trace.

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That’s when a detective (Kyle Chandler) begins searching for Sidney who is wanted for a series of fires set in places where there are books. Trying to follow the clues, the detective hopes it will lead to Sidney and answers as to what happened to push this young man toward a path filled with pain.

Lerman as Sidney carries this story and film brilliantly in a way that kept me wondering how much more one life can take. I literally couldn’t take my eyes off his performance because his character is so dedicated to everything he pursued that the pitfalls just crushed my heart. All of that emotion is because of Lerman’s portrayal which is a thing of true beauty.

Fanning as Melody clearly enjoys life, sees the beauty past the pain and loves Sidney. Her character sees the best in Sidney and supports when it all becomes too much for him. Trying to be his support comes at a price that Melody seemed more than willing to pay until it was no longer just she that would pay.

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Chandler as the Detective is absolutely amazing in this role. Watching him take each crime scene apart piece by piece to ‘get his man’, it also gives the viewer the same opportunity to go back into Sidney’s life and see what might have gone unnoticed because, like our own lives, it is all in the eye of the beholder. I loved this performance by Chandler but then again if you’ve seen the series Bloodline, you know this actor was certainly up to the challenge in this role.

The must-see breakout performance is Jenner as Brett Newport. This BMOC senior jock walks the hallways of high school in his letterman’s jacket without a care in the world. Sometimes what we think is so true of someone can turn at a moments notice. Jenner’s character brings harshness mixed with a sadness that feels so real for this young man.

Another shout out to Nathan Lane as Harold! Although his role isn’t large, Lane has the unique ability to make every second he is on screen count and playing Harold is no exception. As Harold, Lane is brash, bold and I loved it.

Other cast include Michelle Monaghan as Mrs. Hall, Janina Gavankar as Gina, Margaret Qualley as Alexandra, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Duane, Tim Nelson as Johan, Michael Drayer as Max, Christina Brucato as Jeanine, Alex Karpovsky as Bauer, Darren Pettie as Gerald Hall and David Basche as Senator Dale.

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TUBS OF POPCORN: I give THE VANISHING OF SIDNEY HALL four tubs of popcorn out of five. I know it is early in the year yet I feel like I’ve seen something stellar, heart felt wrapped in an honestly original story. Filled with a weaving of time periods that is done with such ease and yet so compelling to watch.

This is a cast that envelopes every moment of screen time stretching my emotional core and just when I thought I could take a deep breath – twist! Isn’t that what we want from good storytelling and good filmmaking? That’s what this film is all about, testing us all to our emotional limits and rooting for each to release the memories that hold them down.

Trust me when I say there is so much more to the film that I will not put in this review. I truly want everyone who sees this film to experience each moment for themselves and jaw drop at the twists that are nothing short of brilliantly done. The cinematography is equally well done and if you thinks places in the world are just geography – think again.

In the end – it’s all about beginnings.

 

 

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