It's a dirty job but someone has to view 'em!





Jeri Jacquin

In theatres this Friday from director David Frankel and Warner Bros. Pictures is a story of finding life again surrounded by COLLATERAL BEAUTY.

Howard (Will Smith) is part of a successful advertising agency along with friends Whit (Edward Norton), Claire (Kate Winslet) and Simon (Michael Pena). Three years later Howard is in a very dark place dealing with the death of his six year old daughter.

This affects the business and Whit decides it is in the company’s best interest to find a way to remove Howard from any dealings. Hiring a private detective they learn that Howard wrote a letter to Love, Time and Death.


Trying one more way to reach their friend, Whit meets actors Amy (Keira Knightley), Brigitte (Helen Mirren) and Raffi (Jacob Latimore). Hiring each of them to be Love, Time and Death they meet Howard sending him into a kind of shock!

Hearing Howard’s story from his friends it becomes clear that he isn’t the only person who needs a shaking up in his life. Whit is having daughter issues, Claire is having Mommy issues and Simon is having truth issues which means Howard isn’t the only person juggling life.

Then again everyone needs a reality check every once in a while!

Smith as Howard turns in another performance as a sullen man who is looking for a sign that life is worth living. In writing down his feelings towards the three things he holds dear, Howard lives in his silent world watching everything go by – including his dominos. This all being said, there is nothing truly original about this character because we’ve all seen Smith do this before.

Norton as Whit is a man who is dealing with a daughter that openly shares her anger with a dad who has let her down. Hiding behind business is a good way for Whit to act like nothing is happening. I enjoy performances where Norton has breakthrough moments because it shows completely in every blink of his eye.


Winslet as Claire is so busy taking care of everyone else she forgets about herself. Being the caregiver of her friends has left her little time to be the one thing she wants the most. Winslet’s character is strong with moments of such caring.

Pena as Simon wants to take care of his family but for reasons he has kept hidden for himself. He doesn’t want to hurt his friend Howard and isn’t all for the plan but doesn’t know any other way to reach him. Pena is such a fine actor and takes on roles with such depth and even when humor is thrown in he brings that as well.

Mirren as Brigitte is colorful, loving, and is a character all unto herself. I love everything Mirren does because she brings something different to each role and just when I think she’s covered it all – out comes more uniqueness. Yes, I’m a fan!

Harris as Madeleine runs grief meetings to help parents deal with the deaths of their children. She is a source of calm and strength as Howard tries to find a way to become part of it all.


Knightley as Amy has a difficult time being Love and making Howard understand that the emotion he is running from is in everything. This actress can tear up at the drop of a hat. Latimore as Raffi gives a whole new meaning to Time. He is funny, clever and delivers his intensity with fire in his eyes.

Other cast include Kylie Rogers as Allison, Alyssa Cheatham as Olivia and Ann Dowd as Sally Price.

TUBS OF POPCORN: I give COLLATERAL BEAUTY three tubs of popcorn out of five. The film has themes of Time, Love and Death which are the things Howard lives by except when his life has tragedy. The premise of the film is endearing but again I feel like I have seen this story before.

Hoping for more than a predictable story with a predictable ending, the lessons the film are important nonetheless. Tragedy happens to us all but it is how we deal with the sadness in the long term that can either bring us together or tear life apart.

In the end – we are all connected.


ARRIVAL Sets Down in Theatres



Jeri Jacquin

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

In the end – why are they here?

ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS is a Sweet Revisit of Friendship!




Jeri Jacquin

In theatres this Friday from director James Bobin and Walt Disney Pictures is a story created from the mind of writer Lewis Carroll as we join ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS.

Alice (Mia Wasikowska) is the captain of her father’s ship Wonder and has been away from home for quite some time. When she returns, Alice learns that mother Helen (Lindsay Duncan) has had pressure put upon her by Hamish (Leo Bill). Either the Kingsleigh women must turn over the Wonder or lose their home.

Those aren’t her only problems as Absolem (voiced by Alan Rickman) tells Alice that her friends need her in Wonderland! Leaping through a mirror she meets Mirana (Anne Hathaway) who tells her that Hatter Tarrant Hightopp (Johnny Depp) is in trouble. Believing Alice is the only one who can reach him, she visits her Hatter friend.

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Hiding at home, Hatter believes that his family might still be alive after years of thinking they had died. The only way to learn of their true fate, Alice must seek out Time (Sacha Baron Cohen) and get the object that can transport her back to the last time the Hightopp’s were seen.

There is just one big-headed problem – Iracebeth (Helena Bonham Carter) wants it as well. She has a moment in her own past in which one sister changed the fate of the other. Furious that Alice is back in Wonderland, it is once again going to be an epic battle with friendship and loyalty setting the course!

Wasikowska as Alice has truly made this character her own. It is hard to believe that the original ALICE IN WONDERLAND was released six years ago. My how time flies and yet Wasikowska jumps back into character as if no time has passed.  For me that is what makes the film so much fun. She is still bold, strong, witty and loyal.

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Depp as Hatter also seamlessly puts his hat and mad hair back on to give us a peek back into the hat makers history. Depp is still lively, funny, quirky and quick at delivering the clever lines that made me laugh – a lot! I adore the colorful insanity Depp brings to this character and I wouldn’t want anyone else to play Hatter.

Carter as Iracebeth certainly does show up with a huge chip on her shoulder. Obviously once you know what that chip is and who placed it, there are a few moments of sympathy for the bulbous headed ginger. Carter embraces the cranky and still makes me laugh. Hathaway as Mirana is elegant and concerned for Hatter but she has a secret of her own! The way in which Hathaway carries herself as the White Queen is really funny. That’s talent when you can make an audience laugh without saying a word.

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Cohen as Tim is just as nutty as the rest of the characters in Wonderland. He is snarky, funny, a little creepy but clever and funny at the same time. His costuming is awesome but then again the costuming for the film is epic period.

Other cast include Rhys Ifans as Zanik Hightopp, Timothy Spall as Bayard, Ed Speleers as James Harcourt, Richard Armitage as King Oleron, Andrew Scott as Dr. Addison Bennett, Geraldine James as Lady Ascot, and Matt Lucas as Tweedledee/Tweedledum.

TUBS OF POPCORN: I give ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS four tubs of popcorn out of five. Let’s begin with the amazing special effects because, after all, you can not do a story like this without massive special effects. The CGI is bold, daring, fun and another character in the story.

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Having the original cast back is so meaningful and makes the visit back to these characters so much fun. I mean who doesn’t love the Cheshire Cat or the White Rabbit? Watching the tea time exchange between Hatter and the gang with Time is hilarious!

Alice once again brings a storyline that really is full of lessons about love, family, friendship, loyalty, adventure and forgiveness. Disney has done what they are known for doing – bringing all those qualities into a story that is wrapped up in amazing fun.

Gather up the family and make sure there is enough popcorn and drink to go around, visit Wonderland again with Alice and friends in this 113 minute wild ride!

In the end – it’s time for a little madness!

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