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Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

QUEEN & SLIM Running on Bluray

Queen and Slim cover

Jeri Jacquin

Coming this week to Bluray, DVD and Digital from director Melina Matsoukas and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment is QUEEN & SLIM.

On their first date, Queen (Jodie Turner-Smith) and Slim (Daniel Kaluuya) are out for the evening. Driving Queen home, Slim is stopped by a police officer who runs the plates and then proceeds to get Slim out of the car. After searching just about every inch of the car, Queen has had about enough and gets out of the car to ask why they are behind detained.

Tensions become high as Queen pulls out her phone and the officer shoots at her. Slim is wrestled to the ground fighting with the officer. Slim finds the gun and shoots the officer. Immediately Queen pulls him up and takes over the situation leaving the cop and driving away. Slim wants to turn himself in but Queen, a lawyer, makes it clear that if he does, he will never see his family again.

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Turning to people they can trust; Queen goes to Uncle Earl (Bokeem Woodbine) who puts him in contact with a friend in Florida to help them fly away. Along their journey, people are protesting and there is more violence and killing while Sherriff Edgar (Benito Martinez) tries to track them down.

They are on the run!

Kaluuya as Slim is a young man who loves his family and is fairly easy going. When the incident with the cop happens, he wants to do the right thing and tell the truth. He doesn’t want to hurt anyone and doesn’t want anyone to get hurt. This is a strong performance from Kaluuya and I held my breath when he was on the screen when danger was near.

Turner-Smith as Queen is a saucy young woman who consistently puts them in difficult situations with her tenacity. Her past gives her struggles to trust anyone, but she does put herself through law school. Woodbine as Uncle Earl isn’t keen at first on helping but understands that he must do what he can.

Although the film has cameos, it is mainly carried by Kaluuya and Turner-Smith. From first frame to last it is their story to tell and their relationship expands along with it.

Other cast includes Chloe Sevigny as Mrs. Shepherd, Flea as Mr. Shepherd, Sturgill Simpson as Officer Reeves, Indya Moore as Goddess, Benito Martinez as Sheriff Edgar, Melanie Halfkenny as Naomi, Jahi Winston as Junior.

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Universal Pictures Home Entertainment has just added an amazing film to their library and making it available for us to all experience and re-experience in our own home theaters. There are film of every genre available from scary to drama to family films. For more of what they have to offer please visit http://www.uphe.com.

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.

Bonus Features of QUEEN & SLIM are A Deeper Meaning, Melina & Lena, Off the Script, On the Run with QUEEN & SLIM and Feature Commentary with Director/Producer Melina Matsoukas and Writer/Producer Lena Waithe.

The film is the winner of the African-American Film Critic Association for the AAFCA Award and Impact Award, Black Film Critics Circle Awards, Black Reel Awards, Florida Film Critics Circle and the National Board of Review Award.

If this isn’t enough there were 27 nominations from the Alliance of Women Film Journalists, Austin Film Critics Association, Hawaii Film Critics Society, Greater Western New York Critics, Hollywood Critics Association and Directors Guild of America and so many more.

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QUEEN & SLIM is a film about the tragedy of what happened, the inability to turn to the authorities, more tragedy from those wanting to help and an end result that circles back to tragedy.

The soundtrack for the film is absolutely amazing with Raphael Saadiz, 6lack, EarthGang, Choker, BJ the Chicago Kid, Burna Boy, Ian Isiah and so many more.

In the end – they are in this together.

It is the Return of THE ADDAMS FAMILY on Vivid Bluray

Adams Family Cover

Jeri Jacquin

Double snapping onto Bluray/DVD and Digital this week from directors Greg Tiernan, Conrad Vernon, Bron Studios and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment is the return of our favorite differences with THE ADDAMS FAMILY.

After being chased out of their home, the Morticia (Charlize Theron) and Gomez (Oscar Isaac) Addams decide to start over and find a place where no one would bother them landing on a hill in New Jersey. As time goes by the couple have daughter Wednesday (Chloe Grace Moretz) and son Pugsley (Finn Wolfhard) along with Lurch and Thing.

Down below in the valley, television star and home renovator Margaux Needler (Allison Janney) has created the town of Assimilation. When she sees the house on the hill the plan for her show finale is born. Trying to get the Addams to allow her to make that happen falls on death ears as Morticia isn’t about to ruin her beautifully dark home. Agreeing with her is Gomez’ brother Fester (Nick Kroll) who is more than happy to say so.

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Wednesday meets Parker (Elsie Fisher), an unhappy teen who is a different kind of unhappy that Wednesday’s usual unhappy unhappiness. A friendship blossoms and she wants to attend school to see the world. Morticia is a little hurt but she takes her mind off it with the special family event planned for Pugsley.

Margaux is also planning an event of her own and to make it happen, she begins a campaign of fear with the people of Assimilation. Using social media to get the job done, daughter Parker can’t believe she is doing it. Both Wednesday and Parker decide to make their teenage protests known loud and clear.

The Addams’ are under scrutiny from their own family and the town which means only one thing – family sticks together no matter what!

Theron as Morticia has the calming voice of a mother on the death side of life. She only wants her family to be terribly unhappy and that means letting go of things a bit. What she learns is that if she is patient, all her fears will be realized. Isaac as Gomez wants Pugsley initiated into the family with tradition but learns that we are all good at some things and not all and perhaps that’s okay too. Both of these are loving parents that only want the worst for their children and I love that about them.

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Moretz as Wednesday is a young girl who just wants to see what’s beyond the metal toothed gates of the Addams home. Once she does, no one worries for her because this girl isn’t to suffer fools lightly. Wednesday knows who she is and it’s time for everyone else to know that too. Wolfhard as Pugsley is more like his Uncle Fester than Gomez realizes. He is good at creating destruction but not so light on his feet.

Kroll as Fester is just funny but then again I’d expect nothing less. Thing and Lurch aren’t about to be left out of this story nor should they because even though they don’t say much – action speaks louder than words or in Lurch’s case a good ole fashioned eye roll.

Janney as Margaux Needler is viciously hilarious with her crazy idea regarding the town she rebuilt and the pressures from the networks. If she wasn’t so normally insane I’d think she’d make a fantastic Addams! Fisher as daughter Parker just wants something different in her life – enter Wednesday!  Each girl wants to walk in the other’s shoes and once given the chance they learn it’s only a step up to being even better friends.

Other cast include Snoop Dogg as It, Bette Midler as Grandma, Martin Short as Grandpa Frump, Catherine O’Hara as Grandma Frump, Tituss Burgess as Glenn, Jenifer Lewis as Great Auntie Sloom, Aimee Garcia as Denise and Conrad Vernon as Lurch.

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment has just added an amazing film to their library and making it available for us to all experience and re-experience in our own home theaters. There are film of every genre available from scary to drama to family films. For more of what they have to offer please visit http://www.uphe.com.

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The Bluray Bonus Features include Deleted and Extended Scenes, Welcome to the Family, Charades with Thing, Life of a Scene, Addams Family Throwback and more!

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 http://www.MoviesAnywhere.com.

This version of THE ADDAMS FAMILY comes directly from the comic by Charles Addams that appeared in The New Yorker in 1938.  Television would bring their own version of these characters in the 1960’s with Carolyn Jones and John Astin as the devoted Morticia and Gomez.

In 1991 and 1993, THE ADAMS family appeared on the big screen with Raul Julia and Anjelica Houston in the roles of Gomez and Morticia. They actually gave the characters a darker look but still kept the loving side of their relationship. Although I adore the original television series, I came to embrace the films because that was the Morticia and Gomez I wanted to see and didn’t even realize it.

Now animated and on Bluray/DVD, this isn’t the first time they have been ‘cartooned’. What is a little different with this film is taking the characters from their original 1938 visual form. What I can say is that my granddaughter had a great time laughing, snapping and wide eyed that I knew the words to the song.

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There is something for everyone in this version of THE ADDAMS FAMILY and it will reach all age groups from the first of us to watch the television series to the next who experienced the 90’s films. Each iconic character brings what we’d expect wrapped up in animation that is fun. It’s about family, friendships, love on their own terms and seeing the world in a unique way makes THE ADDAMS FAMILY someone I’d love to live next door too!

In the end – think your family is weird, think again!

HARRIET Shares the Story of Freedom

Harriet cover

Jeri Jacquin

On Bluray/DVD and Digital this week from director Kasi Lemmons and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment is a story of the run for freedom with HARRIET.

Minty (Cynthia Erivo) is a young slave woman working on a plantation married to free man John Tubman (Zackary Momoh). Believing their time had come to be set free according to a prior agreement, Minty is upset to learn that the agreement won’t be honored by plantation owner Edward Brodess (Mike Marunde). Angry that she even asked, Brodess orders her sold. Looking on is son Gideon (Joe Alwyn) who has known Minty since they were children.

When Minty asks God for answers, Gideon lets it be known that he also has no intention of honoring his grandfather’s agreement. Knowing that she has no other choice if she is ever to have a life beyond the fields, Minty plans to make a run north. She also knows that leaving husband John behind will save his life.

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She tells her mother and father goodbye and his final father order is to visit Reverend Green (Vondie Curtis-Hall) who gives Minty a mental map to freedom. Not far behind her is Gideon who is not about to let her go. When the two finally meet, it is on a bridge over a rushing river where she makes the ultimate decision.

Making her way north, she meets William Still (Leslie Odom Jr.) who takes notes of slaves who find freedom and asks Minty if she wants to give herself a new name for her new life. Choosing Harriet Tubman she meets Marie Buchanon (Janelle Monae) who helps her settle in safely and a job. For the first time, Harriet is free to come and go while making a wage without fear.

But Harriet can not forget her husband or family left on the plantation. She makes it clear to William that if she made it north, so could they. She proves all the nay-sayers wrong and so begins her effort to go back and forth from south to north taking as many as possible to freedom.

Gideon’s father passes and now he is more obsessed with finding the girl he knows as Minty but Harriet isn’t about to stop what she is doing or be stopped by anyone.

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Erivo as Harriet portrays a woman who trusts in her faith and doesn’t let what others think of her get in the way of her goal. Thinking she is being led one way, it becomes quickly clear that her life would be dedicated to helping others. Her speech in the company of Frederick Douglas is what cements the belief that her path is laid out before her with the Underground Railroad.

Alwyn as Gideon is obsessed with keeping Minty on the plantation, so much so that he’s willing to promise her anything to make that happen. When she refuses his offer, Gideon starts a mission to do whatever it takes to get her back. Marude as Brodess is a plantation owner who isn’t about to let one single person leave and teaches that behavior to his son Gideon.

Odom Jr. as Still is a man who does everything he can to help slaves who manage to get to Philadelphia. Keeping records, he fears for what Harriet is doing but that’s not stopping her! Momoh as Tubman is a free man who is married to Minty as a slave. Believing that one day the agreement would be honored, insists that running is the way to go. His life would change as well when Harriet returns to help family.

Monae as Marie is the first woman in Harriet’s life who teaches her what freedom means and how to fool anyone stopping her in the south. She is elegant and graceful and, more importantly, an owner of a business. Curtis-Hall is the Harriet’s preacher who also becomes important in helping slaves fleeing the south.

Other cast include Daphne Reid as Miz Lucy, Clarke Peters as Ben Ross, Vanessa Calloway as Rit Boss, Omar J. Dorsey as Bigger Long, Henry Hall as Walter, Tim Guinee as Thomas Garrett, Nick Basta as Foxx, Joseph Anderson as Robert Ross, Antonio Bell as Henry Ross, CJ McBath as Junyah Ross, Alexis Louder as Jane, Tory Kittles as Frederick Douglas, and Jennifer Nettles as Eliza Brodess.

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Universal Pictures Home Entertainment has just added an amazing film to their library and making it available for us to all experience and re-experience in our own home theaters. There are film of every genre available from scary to drama to family films. For more of what they have to offer please visit http://www.uphe.com.

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 http://www.MoviesAnywhere.com.

The Bonus Features include Deleted Scenes, Her Story, Becoming Harriet and Feature Commentary with Director and Co-Writer Kasi Lemmons.

HARRIET is a riveting story about a woman who defies the odds of slavery, survival and dangerous trips from south to north to free other slaves. Keeping it simple in the telling allows the viewer to become emotionally invested in understanding the life of Harriet.

This is the genre of film that can be an enormously beneficial teaching tool and hope that teachers will use it. It shows the human spirit and potential to change the wrongs of the society then and what can be accomplished now.

In the end – be free or die.

The Final App with COUNTDOWN

 

Countdown cover

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to Bluray/DVD and Digital from writer/director Justin Dec and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment comes an App running a COUNTDOWN.

A group of teenagers spend the evening doing usual teenage stuff when they discover an app that can tell you when you die. Playing along, the group download it and find they all are pretty much going to live to a ripe old age – accept one.

Fast forward to Quinn Harris (Elizabeth Lail), a young nurse that has a way with her patients. She takes care of them especially when they aren’t feeling their emotional best. That’s when she learns that one of her patients has downloaded the app and so does she. The results aren’t what she thought and now the clock is ticking.

Trying to find a way to stop the whole mess, Quinn meets Matt (Jordan Calloway), a young man who has a life ticking away problem as well. Trying to be their for one another, they now want to find someone who can tell them how to stop it all, especially since Quinn is trying to save her sister Jordan (Talitha Bateman) who has downloaded the app.

They meet Father John (P.J. Byrne) who tells them a story about an evil spirit and the curse of time. Together they spend every moment trying to stop it all before the clocks run down to 0.

Lail as Quinn is a young woman trying to do the best she can with her family life. Her colleagues see her as a good nurse and one particular doctor wants to make trouble. When she downloads the app her entire world is turned upside down. Doing everything possible to make it stop, the app now has control of her life. Lail gives that fear a face but also a mission!

Calloway as Matt is a young man in the same predicament as Quinn and wants the same thing she does, to make it all stop. Even trying to get someone to hack the app, they do it together and a friendship based on fear happens.

Bateman as Jordan is a young girl doing what all young girls do – spend their entire existence using their phone. When Quinn tells her of the app, of course she is going to download it and become part of the game. Byrne as Father John is actually the comedic side of this horror film. Yes, he has some of the answers they are looking for but presents them in such a way that I’m actually laughing!

Other cast include Charlie McDermott as Scott, Jonny Berryman as Jeff, Louisa Abernathy as Mrs. Talbot, Valente Rodriguez as Father David, Dillon Lane as Evan and Peter Facinelli as Dr. Sullivan.

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment has just added an amazing film to their library and making it available for us to all experience and re-experience in our own home theaters. There are film of every genre available from scary to drama to family films. For more of what they have to offer please visit http://www.uphe.com.

COUNTDOWN is actually a look at how phones and apps have overtaken our lives. Hey, look, I’m just as guilty when I get busy and try to do everything on my phone – I mean “there’s an app for that!” is the universal slogan right? This film shows us the painful side of apps.

Of course this is a bit of an exaggeration (unless you believe in stuff like this in which case get rid of your phone before its too late), but if you remove the ‘demon’ from the equation, you still have to deal with the evil that apps can perpetuate on our lives.

Personally, I don’t download apps randomly at all and I certainly wouldn’t download one that will tell me when I’m going to die. There are so few surprises left in life that I’d kind of like the final surprise to be that…a surprise.

But, in the meantime, put away your phones and instead grab popcorn, a few friends and some couch time for a Friday night thriller with COUNTDOWN.

In the end – Death? There’s an app for that!

We Return Once Again to DOWNTON ABBEY on Bluray

Downton cover

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to Bluray/DVD and Digital from director Michael Engler, Focus Features and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment from the characters created by Julian Fellowes is the return to DOWNTON ABBEY.

The Crawley family continues normal life at Downton Abbey until Robert (Hugh Bonneville), the Earl of Grantham, receives word that the King George V (Simon Jones) and Queen Mary (Geraldine James) are about to make a visit. Cora (Elizabeth McGovern) is thrilled but Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) goes into immediate panic especially with husband Henry (Matthew Goode) off on business. Barrows (Robert James-Collier) is now the head of the staff but Lady Mary feels as if things aren’t getting done properly.

Bringing her concerns to Lord Grantham there is only one choice, ask a retired Mr. Carson (Jim Carter) to resume his duties as Downton Abbey until the visit is over and Barrows isn’t happy. Mr. Carson gets the staff in order with Andy (Michael Fox) and the return of Mr. Molesley (Kevin Doyle). Mrs. Hughes (Phyllis Logan) also has her hands full as every nook and cranny must be cleaned and there isn’t a lot of time. Mrs. Patmore (Lesley Nicol) and Daisy (Sophie McShera) begin creating a menu fit for royalty.

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Violet Crawley (Maggie Smith) doesn’t seem as nervous about the King and Queen’s visit but is concerned about seeing relative Maud Bagshaw (Imedla Staunton). The Dowager believes that Maud is trying to cut Robert out of any inheritance since being seen about with her companion Lucy (Tuppence Middleton). Isobel (Penelope Wilton) agrees to help Violet discover the true story behind Maud’s decision as husband Lord Merton (Douglas Reith) stays out of it.

Tom Branson (Allen Leech) is happy to be back at Downton Abbey and with his car business. When he learns about the King and Queen’s visit, some think that perhaps he wouldn’t be pleased out it. So much so that Mary senses something is wrong and isn’t sure what to do. Up for the festivities is Lady Edith (Laura Carmichael) and husband Bertie Hexham (Harry Hadden-Paton) as they make their way home.

With everything buzzing and plans being made, there is a damper on the happiness when the staff are told that they will not be handling the royal visit. Enter the very stuffy Kings manservant Mr. Wilson (David Haig), Queen’s dresser Mrs. Webb (Richenda Carey) and royal chef Monsieur Courbet (Philippe Spall). Hardly ready to relinquishing their pride in Downton Abbey, Mrs. Bates (Joanne Froggatt) and Mr. Bates (Brendan Coyle) come up with a plan that is brilliant and wonderful. Barrows is also being watched by Captain Chetwode (Stephen Moore) as being upset with Mr. Carson leads him down a bad road.

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When the King and Queen finally arrive, the household is in high gear as the royal family is treated to dinner with a party to follow the next evening. That is when secrets are revealed, loyalties are tested and everyone who lives and works at Downton Abbey once again remembers how they have all come together for so long and can’t imagine anything else.

Bonneville as the Earl of Grantham returns to his role as the leader of a family who go their own way no matter what he might say about it. This character has grown to understand that things change and if he doesn’t then the Downton Abbey could fall at his feet. I adore Bonneville in this role because he has the facial expressions that say everything even if he says nothing. He clearly loves his family and what’s more is he respects those who keep his household running. McGovern as Cora is the American who has embraced the world she married into. When she is stern, it comes with a smile most often and when she is giddy her face lights up. Her character is the opposite of Robert which is why these two actors make such an awesome pairing.

Dockery as Lady Mary is such an unusual character because she gives off an air of superiority but when she lets her humanity and frailty show it is a sight for the heart to see. Carmichael as Lady Edith has finally found her niche in the world along with daughter Marigold. Now she needs to find the order of it all. Staunton as Bagshaw is a relative full of secrets and some in the family are going to make sure they know every little juicy detail. Middleton as Lucy has her own secrets but a certain Irishman only sees a lovely young girl.

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Leech as Branson has become a character that was once on the outside looking in and now on the inside looking out. Finding the middle ground has always been such a difficult process for this character but now he seems to have found it. Happy with his business and equally happy at Downton Abbey, he carries himself with such grace and still finds humor in his adopted family. Goode as Henry just goes along to get along and is happy in his marriage to Lady Mary, I wish there would have been more of him but I’m thinking it will happen. Hadden-Patton as Hexam is being pulled away by a King who has taken a liking to him and Edith finds herself being meek about it once again. I kept thinking ‘come on Edith, stand your ground!’. Reith as Lord Merton has found happiness in his life and plans to keep it that way by staying out of any family drama.

Jones and James as the King and Queen are lovely and bring their own personal baggage to Downton Abbey. They prove that even royals have family issues and through it all a sense of humor as well. Moore as Chetwode protects the royal family but has a few secrets of his own. Haig as Mr. Wilson is a man I’d throw out on his ear if it wouldn’t get me put in the Tower! Carey as Mrs. Webb would be in the pig mud right night to Mr. Wilson and to complete the threesome would be Spall as the royal chef. Those three brought enough aggravation and did it extremely well – kudos!

The return of Carter as Mr. Carson brought joy to every moment he is on screen. His presence, even when he is a bit frazzled, lets you know that everything will be alright. Right by his side is Logan as Mrs. Hughes. Never let it be said that this very elegant lady doesn’t know how to take care of her position and life with Mr. Carson. Nicol as Mrs. Patmore is a character I see as the fire that is always keeping everyone warm. Food is one thing but the obvious caring she has for those around her comes through the screen. McShera as Daisy once again puts her foot in it and manages to not be concerned with how some people love traditions and pageantry.

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James-Collier as Barrows has been in Mr. Carson’s shoes for some time and isn’t all that thrilled when he returns. So instead of dealing with it, which he never does very well, he once again finds destructive ways of handling things. Nothing he does surprises me! Doyle as Mr. Molesley is over excited and willing to put his teaching position on hold just to be in the same room as the King and Queen. Of course with this excitement comes the usual missteps that had me responding with a slap to my forehead. Fox returns as Andy who is in love with Daisy and discovers he might have a bit of a jealous streak in him.

My favorite couple ever in the entire series is Froggartt as lovely Mrs. Bates and Coyle as Mr. Bates. If there was ever a couple that went through everything horribly imaginable and came out the other side the same honorable people it is the Bates’. Froggartt is beautiful, sweet, gentle yet has a sarcastic side I love. Being the dresser for Lady Mary for years, she still wants to be at Downton Abbey and in the film gets her chance to show a side that is epic. Coyle as Mr. Bates has gone through the gambit if I do say so myself. Through it all his life has changed dramatically and yet he never once looked for an excuse for anything. That being said, planning what is planned for the staff at Downton Abbey, this husband and wife duo show they will fight for what they believe in and do it as they always have done it – together.

Now let’s talk Maggie Smith as Violet – can it be said that she is the cherry on top of a very large and very ostentatious Downton Abbey cake? Well, she is on the one in my mind. Smith is sharp, witty, and doesn’t take anything lightly. One moment she is watching everything and the next jumping in the fray to mix it up. Of course she wouldn’t be able to do some of it with her partner-in-sort-of-crime Isobel. Wilton in her supporting friendship with Violet is the yin to her yang. When these two ladies get together you can be sure it will be hilarious and the repartee a feast for the mind.

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Other cast include Raquel Cassidy as Miss Baxter, Kate Phillips as Princess Mary, Max Brown as Richard Ellis, Mark Addy as Mr. Bakewell, Michael Fox as Andy Parker, Susan Lynch as Miss Lawton, James Cartwright as Tony Sellick, Fifi Hart as Sybbie, Oliver & Zac Barker as George, Alice McCarthy as Nanny Harewood, Marina Balbara as Baroness Valerenay, Andrew Havill as Henry Lascelles, Eva & Karina Samms as Marigold, Diane Halling as Countess of Harrowby, and Perry Fitzpatrick as Chris Webster.

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment has just added an amazing film to their library and making it available for us to all experience and re-experience in our own home theaters. There are film 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 Includes the Bonus Features of Deleted Scenes, Cast Conversations – Exclusive roundtable interviews with the Upstairs and Downstairs Cast, The Royal Visit – A look at how the royal visit proved to be an ambitious event both on and behind the camera, True to the Twenties – Fans of DOWNTON ABBEY are charmed by the sheer grandeur of the aristocracy in the early 20th century. Learn how DOWNTON ABBEY maintains a reputation of being true to the time period. Welcome to Downtown Abbey – a behind-the-scenes look at the grandeur of HIGHCLERE Castle and how it serves as a cornerstone in the Downton Abbey franchise.

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Also, The Brilliance of Julian Fellowes – Writer Julian Fellowes has created a story and beloved characters that resonate with people across the world. This piece celebrates Julian’s brilliant creativity and reveals his approach to bringing Downton Abbey to the big screen. Downton Abbey Series Recap – Whether you’re new or just need a refresher, this series recap will catch you up on the story so far and Feature Commentary with Director Michael Engler.

I discovered the series DOWNTON ABBEY completely by accident as it was on KPBS the same night as my other favorite The Great British Baking Show. It didn’t take long before I became completely engrossed in the story of the families both upstairs and downstairs. I hated when the seasons ended and I broke out the tea set when the next season came around. Little did I know that the series was exploding all over the United States.

Created by writer Julian Fellowes, it aired in 2011 telling the story of Downton Abbey in the mid-1900s of a Yorkshire estate and the Crawley family but it also told the story of the servants. There was everything imaginable happening and the cast made every bit of it magical to watch for those of us who watched week after week. Downton Abbey is actually Highclere Castle in north Hampshire and although there was filming in Ealing Studios, most of it is Highclere Castle both inside and out.

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Fellowes himself has had an amazing career as an actor, to launching his own series on BBC and writing a miniseries about the Titanic. He won an Oscar for Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen in 2002 for the script GOSFORD PARK and won Best Directorial Debut from the National Board of Review for SEPARATE LIES. His credit also include VANITY FAIR, THE TOURIST, FROM TIME TO TIME and one of my absolute favorite Emily Blunt films THE YOUNG VICTORIA.

DOWNTON ABBEY has become and I believe will continue to be an iconic series and now film for years to come. There is nothing that can hold a candle to it. In the four years since fans cried their eyes out at the television show finale, the film will not only make us forgive everything but thrill us once again. The story, the character, opulence, splendor, feistiness, heart, gumption, and so much more wrapped in a castle most of us know from a mere glance.

How does one thank Julian Fellowes for giving us just a little more of what we crave and an even bigger thank you to every original cast member that came back and made us feel like they didn’t miss a beat. DOWNTON ABBEY is such a beautiful film in every way and I love period pieces of all kinds but this film has a special place in my heart because the characters.

This is not just a reunion of characters, but a reunion of us along with the characters we embraced back in 2011. We want to know they are all fine in the world of Downton Abbey and that it is possible (please let it be possible) that there might be another film to continue their story.

In the end – they’ve been expecting us!

HUSTLERS Makes Their Own Rules on Bluray

Hustlers Cover
Jeri Jacquin
Coming to 4K Ultra HD, Bluray/DVD and Digital from director Lorene Scafaria and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment comes a group of woman who take on Wall Street as their own HUSTLERS.
Destiny (Constance Wu) is a young woman who just wants to take care of her grandmother and make ends meet. Her first night working as a stripper she sees that this is not going to be as easy as she thought. Watching the stage she sees Ramona (Jennifer Lopez) dance and walk off stage with more money than she has ever seen in on night.
Ramona takes a liking to Destiny and shows her some moves that might help her. The other girls Tracey (Trace Lysette), Star (Marcy Richardson), Mercedes (Keke Palmer), Annabelle (Lili Reinhardt) and Diamond (Cardi B). Watching and listening to them all Destiny begins to make money. Dancing with Ramona she makes even more money from Wall Street clients and her life begins to change.
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Taking care of Grandma, getting an apartment and even going back to school become her top priorities. The girls are all reveling in the money they are making with gifts to each other and upgrading how they are living. That is all about to change as 2008 strikes like a tornado when Wall Street is hit and the money dries up. All the girls scatter and Destiny is now in a shaky relationship with a baby.
Unable to find work anywhere else, Destiny returns to the strip clubs to discover that a new breed of dancers have taken over. She is thrilled to see Ramona and the two women come up with a plan to get the money flowing once again. Wanting to get the money that’s left from the Wall Street clients, they start their own business away from the club and everyone is back in the money.
But all good things come to an end, even friendships when decisions are being made that Destiny is not happy about. Now what they have been doing are stories waiting to be told.
Lopez as Ramona is a powerful teacher for her young learner. Raising a daughter of her own she understands the frustration of making it in the business. Taking Destiny under her wing is just the thing to motivate her to move even further up the pole. Lopez makes sure that she looks good and absolutely does in this role as the big sister to the stripper family. There is a scene between herself and another recognizable face that is entertaining.
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Wu as Destiny is struggling to take care of her Grandmother and make a life for herself. Turning to dancing isn’t as easy as she thought. Watching the other dancers walk away with tons of cash, she wants to learn how to do the very same. Her relationship with Ramona is special to her and not just because the ‘big sister’ teachers her how to make money but because someone seems to care about her. Wu starts out sweet and remains so throughout the film but also becomes jaded along the way.
Lysette, Richardson, Reinhardt and Palmer seem to just be enjoying themselves in the film but then again that’s the point of the story. They were all enjoying the money and the camaraderie which made their lives easier. Cardi B had no problem taking the stage being no stranger from the stripper life. She actually was a stripper in her younger days so this role isn’t much of a stretch but still fun.
Other cast include Vanessa Aspillaga as Manuela, Jay Oakerson as DJ, G-Eazy as Johnny, Emma Batiz as 12-year-old Juliet, Mette Towley as Justice, Julia Stiles as Elizabeth and Mercedes Ruehl as Mother.
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment has just added an amazing film to their library and making it available for us to all experience and re-experience in our own home theaters. There are film of every genre available from scary to drama to family films. For more of what they have to offer please visit www.uphe.com.
STX Films and Entertainment is a global next-generation company who has taken on the mission to unlock the value of direct connection stars have with their fans through the development, production and distribution of film, television, VR, digital video, music and live entertainment content. It is the industry leader in transforming beyond traditional platform-driven content to creating talent-driven enterprises. To experience more please visit www.stxfilms.com.
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HUSTLERS Bonus Features include a Feature Commentary with Director Lorene Scafaria.
This is a mixture of fun, sexy, fun and mischievous all wrapped up in a little bit of illegality. Look, it is not rocket science to figure out that the life of a stripper isn’t an easy one. There are those who actually dance because they have family to take care of or are desperate to work just to survive. HUSTLERS puts all these options out on the table with no judgement of one another so they will get none here.
That being said, Ramona and Destiny are two women who didn’t want to be tied down to a club where the money they make is being sucked up by the men who run the club. Pay outs are deep the more money you make and these two characters are done with that happening. I give them props for making sure that more of what they earn stays in their pockets.
These characters are feisty and smart which kept me interested in how they were constantly staying afloat. The film is inspired by journalist Jessica Pressler’s 2015 viral New York Magazine article The Hustlers at Scores.
In the end – this is inspired by a true story!

SCARFACE: The World is Yours Limited Edition!

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Jeri Jacquin
In celebration of the 1983 classic film with a screenplay by Oliver Stone, director Brian De Palma and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment comes the SCARFACE “The World Is Yours” Limited Edition 4K UHD/Bluray and Digital.
Tony Montana (Al Pacino) is a Cuban refugee arriving in Miami along with friends Manny (Steven Bauer), Angel (Pepe Serna) and Chi-Chi (Angel Salazar). Given green cards they become dishwashers which is totally distasteful for Tony who feels he is meant for something bigger.
Involved in a hit gone bad, Tony wants to meet Miami drug dealer Frank Lopez (Robert Loggia) to deliver his drugs and money in person. Taking the initiative, Tony and Manny are hired to work for Frank which sets them up to bring his mother Georgina (Miriam Colon) and sister Gina (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) to Miami. Once Tony’s mother discovers what he is doing she refuses to have him around.
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Tony has his first opportunity when Frank sends him to Bolivia to meet another drug kingpin in Alejandro Sosa (Paul Shenar). His sidekick Omar (F. Murray Abraham) isn’t happy with what’s happening and Sosa takes the opportunity to deal with him as well as warn Tony not to ever mess with him. This isn’t the only thing that upsets Frank as word gets out that Tony is going solo behind his back sending an attack. Tony isn’t about to let that slide and with moves of his own he marries Elvira (Michelle Pfeiffer) and builds an empire bringing in more money than anyone could have imagined.
Years go by and Manny isn’t happy with what Tony is doing. Expanding into money laundering, the boss is also addicted to his own product. All of this leads to tension with Elvira and a mild disdain between husband and wife. Looking for the next big thrill, it comes when he is arrested and charged with tax evasion.
Sosa agrees to help Tony with his little problem but Sosa also has a little problem that Tony needs to take care of in the form of a journalist about to blow up the kingpins life. Frustrated with the whole thing Tony takes it out on Elvira in a public place but she’s had enough and walks away. Heading for New York to do what Sosa asks, Tony has a moment of conscious and returns to Miami.
Promising Tony that he would pay for not doing the job, he learns that Gina is missing. Finding her with Manny after asking him to stay away turns ugly. Feeling everything crumbling, Tony takes Gina and returns to the mansion and a cocaine face dive.
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That’s when hell comes knocking at the door and one of the biggest gun fights reminds Tony that “The World is Yours”, even if only temporarily.
Pacino as Tony is a man who wants to get away from everything he knows in Cuba to start over. Discovering that starting over isn’t as easy as he thought, it takes a hot second before he finds the best way to get what he wants. The problem is that the best way in his mind is the worst way for everyone around him. Pacino is totally absorbed in portraying this character and after years of watching it trust me when I say I’ve looked for an opening – there isn’t one. Pacino makes damn sure with this performance that no one can ever touch it again.
Bauer as Manny is a friend to Tony and wants to succeed. I have to say he has more of a conscience than his friend but that probably isn’t saying too much. As the years pass and the danger becomes even crazier, it is Manny who seems to want to walk away but doesn’t know how. Bauer gives a strong performance and that could be considered saying something standing next to Al Pacino.
Pfeiffer as Elvira is a woman who falls for a smooth talking man promising her a good life. It may have started out that way but, as with all things sinister, it begins to force itself into her life. She becomes no better than Tony as they both begin to drown in their dislike of one another because it’s like looking in a mirror for each of them. What started out as the potential for a good life was based on lies and false promises, nothing good can ever come of that. Elvira is just one sniff away from destroying any chance of a life period and Pfeiffer makes you believe it.
Mastrantonio as Gina quickly assimilates into the Miami scene which completely drives her brother insane. He wants a sweet and innocent sister but Gina has other plans. This is a character that cries out to be saved but when everyone is in self-destruct mode it turns into ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’. Loggia as Frank shows Tony what it takes to have the drug business and after creating a monster suffers a creators fate.
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Abraham as Omar has always been such an interesting character because Abraham is always in my head as the underhanded Salieri from AMADEUS or the underhanded Dar Adal from the series Homeland. I forget that Omar was the first underhanded character I’d ever seen him portray and he did it so well then as he does now. Shenar as Sosa was always a force to be reckoned with but Tony thought he was always one step ahead. Trust me, when someone says ‘don’t cross me’ I suggest you not cross them, especially in the violent world created by drug kingpins!
Other cast include Harris Yulin as Mel Bernstein, Michael P. Moran as Nick the Pig, Al Israel as Hector the Toad, Mark Margolis as Alberto the Shadow, Geno Silva as The Skull, Dennis Holahan as Jerry, Ted Beniades as Seidelbaum and Gregg Henry as Charles Goodson.
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment has just added an amazing film to their library and making it available for us to all experience and re-experience in our own home theaters. There are film of every genre available from scary to drama to family films. For more of what they have to offer please visit www.uphe.com.
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 combo includes SCARFACE (1983) 4K UHD, SCARFACE (1983) Bluray, SCARFACE (1983) Digital, and SCARFACE (1932) Bluray. The Bonus Features include SCARFACE 35th Anniversary Reunion: An All-New Conversation with Director Brian De Palma and Actors Al Pacino, Michelle Pfeiffer and Steven Bauer from the Tribeca Film Festival, The SCARFACE Phenomenon, The World of Tony Montana, The Rebirth, The Acting, The Creating, Deleted Scenes, SCARFACE: The TV Version and more!
Pacino saw the 1932 version of SCARFACE and saw potential in remaking the film. After a shift in writers, Oliver Stone was brought on to create the iconic script. De Palma brought his direction and SCARFACE would become an iconic film making list after list for villains, movie quotes and gangster films (Body count: 42). “Say hello to my little friend” (which was an M16 assault rifle with an M203 40mm grenade launcher on the barrel) is uttered at least once a day somewhere on the planet in so many ways and in so many situations.
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There is actually nothing that can touch SCARFACE and even though there are rumors always abound of a remake or a sequel, I personally wouldn’t see it. I love everything about this film from its intrigue to cinematography to the cast who create the whole story with the nuances of the characters they portray.
SCARFACE is a film that is memorable for my generation and it continues to stun the next generation of audiences because, despite the polyester suits, what happens to Tony and the gang is not so far off what is happening today. There is a mentality and a way of life that lends itself to the kinds of danger and violence these characters bring on themselves.
That being said, I love the cinematography, the costuming and the music choices. It is as if Pacino, Bauer, Pfeiffer and the rest of the actors gave it everything and the rest is pure icing on this magnificent cake of a film. It is as if Pacino dares us to go along for the ride and when we are shocked, Tony laughs at our squeamishness. His idea of the American dream sends most of us running the other way and he makes no apologies as he doesn’t suffer fools and the weak.
SCARFACE is iconic, epic and is a totally uncomfortable film to watch but like all train wrecks you can’t look away. The characters are bad, that’s clear from the start but maybe there is something in us that hopes someone, anyone will find redemption. Once again, our definition of redemption and Tony’s is what brings on the final scene of the film.
In the end – he loved the American dream with a vengeance!

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!

CURIOUS GEORGE: Royal Monkey Delights on DVD

Curious George DVD

The iconic monkey is back for another adventure!

Coming to delightful DVD, Digital and streaming on Hulu from Imagine Entertainment and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment is the iconic furry fellow we know as CURIOUS GEORGE: Royal Monkey.

George is one again having as much fun as possible with his friend in the yellow hat Ted. Spending his days being, well a monkey, he is tempted even more when he sees an advertisement for Castleland.

 

Ted tells George that he’d be happy to go to Castleland once he finishes a very important meeting. Taking George to the museum is where the mix up happens.

Also in town is Philippe, a very well mannered monkey belonging to a King. Daughter Princess Isabel is feeling excited that her coronation is being held at Castleland.

The King, along with Princess Isabel and Philippe, brings a precious artifact to share at the museum. After a mishap brings a mix up, George goes with the royal family and Philippe discovers a life outside being royal and a confused Ted.

It’s definitely a royal adventure like no other for George!

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment has just added an amazing film to their library and making it available for us to all experience and re-experience in our own home theaters. There are film of every genre available from scary to drama to family films. For more of what they have to offer please visit http://www.uphe.com.

Curious George is a timeless character that was first introduced to the world of children’s literacy over 75 years ago. Created by Margret and H.A. Rey in 1941, Curious George remains one of the most beloved classics in children’s literature, television and film with more than 108 episodes of the Emmy award-winning animated series on PBS and over 80 million books in print worldwide in 26 languages. In addition, Curious George has provided the inspiration for a flourishing line of education and entertaining properties, an original live musical stage show, interactive games and toys, national touring museum exhibits and an interactive attraction at Universal Studios Japan theme park. Not bad for a little curious monkey!

CURIOUS GEORGE: Royal Monkey features four new songs that are so much fun to listen to. What makes this piece so much fun is watching it with my granddaughter who delighted in every moment which in turn delighted me!

This is quite an adventure for George as well as discovering that Philippe learning that there is more to life than being waited on. CURIOUS GEORGE: Royal Monkey is full of fun, life lessons, color and song. That’s what we have come to expect from everything George.

What strikes me even more is that the film teaches youngsters of all ages that we are not so different even if the geography is. George learns to appreciate his friendship with Ted and Philippe discovers that there is something to having fun after all.

The relationship between the King and Princess Isabella is also very precious and the changes they make are only for the funner and better. There is certainly nothing wrong with a little silly in royal life, just ask George.

In the end – Curious George is making a royal debut!

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