Apple TV+ review: ‘CHERRY’ has Tom Holland spiralling.

CHERRY

The wild journey of a disenfranchised young man from Ohio who meets the love of his life, only to risk losing her through a series of bad decisions and challenging life circumstances.

Tom Holland plays the titular role in Cherry. The character feels like what might have happened to a modern-day Holden Caufield after the end of Catcher In The Rye. Cherry is classified as an American crime drama, but for me, it’s a genre-bending film that flows similarly to the Nico Walker novel it’s based on. Presented in parts, prologue and epilogue included, the screenplay moves at a rapid pace so you never have time to get too settled. Color is an important part of the structure, as red indicates each chapter shift. The lighting choices are smart and help create the overall mood of the film. There is a palpable heaviness to the story. The camera work is fantastic. Closeups are intentional and amazing. The score is also a huge highlight.

There’s an intense charm about Tom Holland. He commands the screen with his ability to both put you at ease and surprise you. You just believe him. If that’s not the very definition of great acting, I’m not sure what is. His narration controls the overall atmosphere of the film from the get-go. While Holland gets to explore the dark humor in it all, you’re constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop for Cherry. The military PTSD exacerbates his already existing sadness which inevitably leads to addiction… Which leads to a string of bank robberies.

Cherry is a self-destructive story of a young man with no sense of direction, controlled by impulse rather than logic. It could just as easily been an entire series. There’s a lot jammed into its two hour and twenty-minute run. If I’m being perfectly honest, it’s almost too much. With 30 minutes left, I had to pause and come back later. To clarify it was very engaged it was just a lot to ingest in one sitting. Had this played in theaters, I worry an audience wouldn’t be able to stick with the length. Outside of that one concern, Cherry is highly entertaining thanks to Holland’s full commitment to Jessica Goldberg, and Angela Russo-Otstot‘s phenomenal screenplay, and the stylistic choices of The Russo Brothers’ overall aesthetic choices.

Apple will release the movie in theaters on February 26 then on Apple TV+ on March 12. Customers can view Apple TV+ on any Apple device, recent smart TVs, set-top boxes, or on the web.

 

Review: ‘The Reason I Jump’ is a megaphone for nonverbal autism.

The Reason I Jump

Based on the best-selling book by Naoki Higashida, translated into English by author David Mitchell (Cloud Atlas), The Reason I Jump is an immersive cinematic exploration of neurodiversity through the experiences of nonspeaking autistic people from around the world. The film blends Higashida’s revelatory insights into autism, written when he was just 13, with intimate portraits of five remarkable young people. It opens a window into a sensory universe that guides audiences to Naoki’s core message: not being able to speak does not mean there is nothing to say.

Based on the book of the same name by Naoki Higashida, The Reason I Jump is an emotional rollercoaster. I was already welling up listening to the opening monologue. The echolalia, the sensory overstimulation, the hand flapping, and ear covering all punched me in the gut when presented on screen. I’m a lucky Mom. At 5 years old, my child is now very verbal, he’s hyperlexic which means he’s been reading since he was two. He loves hugs, sleep, and eats well. On the autism spectrum, he would be closer to Asperger’s, if that were a diagnosis recognized nowadays. None of these facts lessen the fear, frustration, exhaustion, and pure elation in raising an exceptional human being. The Reason I Jump is tailor-made from the words of a nonverbal 13-year-old boy’s experiences from the inside out. In film form, it’s simply triumphant.

In the doc, we are introduced to 5 unique young people with autism.

Amrit (India)
Her mother realized she was using art to communicate. Her paintings are extraordinary, some visually akin to continuous line drawings. It took time for everyone to realize they are snapshots of her day.

Joss -(UK)
His anxiety is palpable. His impulses and tendency to meltdown are understandably unpredictable. Joss’s ability to show unadulterated joy is magic. His parents break down their own existence in the most relatable ways, both the highs and the lows.

Ben & Emma – US
These two have learned to spell with letterboards and keyboards to communicate. Best friends since very early childhood, what they have to say will shock you.

Jestina – Sierra Leone
With Jestina, we tackle stimming and perception by others. Stimming a sensory-driven repetition of behavior like rocking or flapping to self soothe. Sometimes it’s a visual stim, sometimes watching wheels turn or glitter shine. Culturally, her mother and other parents in her autistic adjacent community are told their children are possessed. It destroys the spirits of entire families.

The narrated excerpts from the book directly correlate with whichever child is being highlighted at that time. Voiced by Jordan O’Donegan, they have a poetic feel to their profundity. Naoki writes, “Making sounds with your mouth isn’t the same as communication.” That quote did me in. When you hear that, truly hear it, you will be taken aback. Jestina, Ben, Emma, Joss, and Amrit all communicate in a different way, we just had to learn how to listen. The heightened sound design immerses you into the world of an autistic person. We do not understand what it is like to be utterly overwhelmed not being able to be fully understood. The cinematography is breathtaking. Quick cuts, predominantly in close-up form combined with a gorgeous soundtrack put you in an alternate headspace. The editing takes all these elements and blends them into a viscerally stunning documentary.

As a mother of a child on the autism spectrum, I feel like I can see I want to broadcast this film to the world so that neurotypical individuals can understand my son and every other person on the spectrum. The label of autism, whether people realize it or not, creates implicit bias. We are missing out on the potential and impact of an entire faction of our society. It is our duty to meet each other in the middle. The Reason I Jump is a captivating peek behind the autism curtain. Don’t look away now. Thank you Naoki Higashida for writing this book. Thank you David Mitchell for translating it for your son. Thank you Jerry Rothwell for directing such an important film. Thank you to the families that shared their lives. Watch this film, then choose to listen and learn in a new way.

The Reason I Jump will be in theaters and virtual cinemas Friday, Jan 8th

**WINNER – Audience Award, World Cinema Documentary –
Sundance Film Festival 2020**
**OFFICIAL SELECTION – AFI Docs 2020**
**OFFICIAL SELECTION – BFI London Film Festival 2020**
**OFFICIAL SELECTION – Chicago International Film Festival 2020**
**OFFICIAL SELECTION – Hot Docs Film Festival 2020**
**OFFICIAL SELECTION – Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival 2020**
**OFFICIAL SELECTION – SXSW Film Festival 2020**
**OFFICIAL SELECTION – WINNER’S CIRCLE – DOC NYC 2020**

Review: ‘The Sunlit Night’ glows from every angle.

Synopsis: The Sunlit Night follows an aspiring painter (Slate) from New York City to the farthest reaches of Arctic Norway for an assignment she hopes will invigorate her work and expand her horizons. In a remote village, among the locals, she meets a fellow New Yorker (Sharp), who has come in search of a proper Viking funeral only to find that the Chief (Galifianakis) is but a re-enactor from Cincinnati. The eclectic crew ranges from “home” to “lost,” within the extreme and dazzling landscape of the Far North. Under a sun that never quite sets, and the high standards of an unforgiving mentor, Frances must navigate between ambition, desire, obligation, and risk in order to find a way forward.

If you grew up with an art teacher mother as I did, this film will resonate with you immediately. I was given my own portfolio at the age of six. To be fair, I was drawing scale recreations from the 3 foot Georgia O’Keefe book that came with it. The birthday prior my parents got divorced. The Sunlit Night is a film made or me.

Through art references and voiceover we are privy to Frances’ inner thoughts. These moments are like diary entries. Color is like its own character. Frances is always wearing red. The barn is entirely different shades of yellow. The landscape is lush green. Viking reenactments are jewel and earth-toned while Yasha is in black. Specific paintings mirror each character, according to Frances. The film is a cinephile and art lover’s dream. Everyone that arrives is there to find something or perhaps, truly, to find themselves. The relationship between all the eccentric inhabitants of this small Norwegian town is what makes this film extra charming. Every shot in the film seems to glow. It’s simply breathtaking.

Jenny Slate is extraordinary. She always shines through her humor but here she has the opportunity to explore an even more nuanced vulnerability. Alex Sharp is tender and open. More and more of him everywhere, please. Fridtjov Såheim as Nils is a perfect balance of obstinate and passionate. He’s a great foil for Slate. While Zach Galifianakis is his adorably funny self in this, I wish we had more of him. As for Gillian Anderson, her appearance is brief but I’ll never turn down a chance to watch her effortlessness. The Sunlit Night has a glorious grace to it. It’s not a loud film, by any means, but what it does it does extremely well. Take a peek at the trailer below and watch the film on VOD starting tomorrow.

THE SUNLIT NIGHT will be released on VOD on July 17th from Quiver Distribution.

Review: Based on the children’s novel, ‘Waiting For Anya’ comes to theaters tomorrow.

Adapted from the novel by the author of War Horse, Waiting for Anya follows Jo Lalande (Noah Schnapp), a thirteen-year-old shepherd boy, and reclusive widow Horcada (Anjelica Huston), who come together with their village to help smuggle Jewish children into Spain during the harrows of WWII.

This powerhouse cast gives earnest performances. That being said, some things are amiss with Waiting For Anya. Something about the cinematography combined with this particular score gives the film a made for TV feel about it. It’s all in the details. The costumes, while beautiful, are a bit too clean for the time period and terrain.

The plot does delve into the nuances of humanity. I mean it is about Nazis after all. Noah Schnapp, whose breakout performance in Stranger Things is nothing less than award-worthy, feels off here. Knowing what he is capable of, I have to think this has something to do with direction choices. Same with the iconic Anjelica Huston. It’s as if I were watching a film on UP, where the actors are being told to mug for the camera intentionally. Waiting For Anya‘s running time of 1 hour and 50 minutes also does not help. Understanding that this film is based on a children’s novel of the same name (by Michael Morpurgo) does make the choices feel more appropriate. Although the tragic but completely telegraphed (and seemingly plucked right out of M. Night Shyamalan‘s The Village) death of an ancillary character near the end was incredibly difficult.  In truth, it is straight from the book itself. As a special needs mom, it hit a little too close to home, so take that opinion with a grain of salt.

The trailer looks absolutely gorgeous but the quality in the actual feature is inconsistent. Wide sweeping shots that are simply gorgeous are the undercut with a few poorly placed greenscreen shots. It has all the makings of a sweeping historical drama but lands in a holocaust family drama, if that’s even a thing. After all that nitpicking, I would still recommend this film as a mother. Certainly as a history lesson for my children when they reach middle school age. Until then, I believe I’ll start with the novel.

Vertical Entertainment will release WAITING FOR ANYA in theaters, on demand and digital February 7, 2020.

WAITING FOR ANYA stars Noah Schnapp (“Stranger Things”, The Peanuts Movie), Academy Award winner Anjelica Huston (The Witches, The Addams Family), Jean Reno (Leon: The Professional, The Big Blue). The film was written and directed by Ben Cookson (Almost Married).

Review: ‘The Operative’ deserves a pace that matches its performances.

SYNOPSIS:
“The Operative” is a taut psychological thriller about a young Western woman (Diane Kruger) recruited by the Mossad to go undercover in Tehran where she becomes entangled in a complex triangle with her handler (Martin Freeman) and her subject (Cas Anvar).
New thriller, based on Yiftach R. Atir‘s book, The English Teacher, The Operative shines when Martin Freeman‘s voiceovers guide the narrative along and when we actually see operations play out. You can feel the anxiety of the missions in real-time. Before I knew this was based upon the novel, the film brought a recognizably literary feel to its structure. Though you could easily cut 20 mins from this film’s first half without altering the intent or style. The story truly revolves around the protection of two people. Its emotional complexity is beguiling and that’s what keeps you watching.
Diane Kruger delivers a nuanced performance. The gears are turning in those quiet moments and you know there is much more going on from the very beginning. She is vulnerable and a bit mysterious. Martin Freeman is a star. He absolutely owns this role. A fan since Hitchhiker’s Guide and Sherlock, it’s incredible to see him in more and more lead roles that show is ever-expansive range. Cas Anvar is charming and powerful. He’s a real delight to watch. The Operative has a great overall plot. Intimately shot and superbly acted, it’s a solid spy thriller.

THE OPERATIVE
DISTRIBUTOR:
 Vertical Entertainment
THEATRICAL RELEASE DATE: August 2, 2019
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY: Yuval Adler
STARRING: Diane Kruger, Martin Freeman, and Cas Anvar
RUNNING TIME: 117 minutes
RATING: not yet rated

Review: ‘OPHELIA’ is beautifully new madness.

 PRESENTS
Hamlet Through Her Eyes

Set in the 14th Century but spoken in a contemporary voice, OPHELIA is a dynamic re-imagining of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Ophelia (Daisy Ridley) takes center stage as Queen Gertrude’s (Naomi Watts) most trusted lady-in-waiting. Beautiful and intelligent, she soon captures the attention of the handsome Prince Hamlet (George MacKay) and a forbidden love blossoms. As war brews, lust and betrayal are tearing Elsinore Castle apart from within and Ophelia must decide between her true love or her own life in order to protect a very dangerous secret.

Lust, betrayal, vanity, adultery; the reimagining of Hamlet through the eyes of Ophelia is an entirely different story. Based on the novel by Lisa Klein and in the vein of films like Ever After and perhaps even Disney’s live-action Cinderella, our leading lady is no shrinking violet. Daisy Ridley is a far cry from her role in the new Star Wars installments. As the titular character, she is inquisitive, bold, and yet her innocence plunges her headlong into the tragedy that Shakespeare writes for her. With a star-studded cast including Naomi Watts, Clive Owen, and Tom Felton, the story begins with how she became to be part of the court. Along the way, it addresses the fragility of the male egos as well as the female. It is still a story of love and honor but told from a young woman’s perspective and a few other key ladies surrounding her. The entire cast is brilliant. The costumes and sets are gorgeous. The new dialogue is ripe for this era. The added drama and intrigue is downright delicious. You cannot help but be drawn into the secrets. Ophelia’s fate makes more sense with a backstory we can experience in a visceral way. The film has everything a fairytale and period cinema lover needs to immerse themselves. But this film goes above and beyond. This new rendition is completely unexpected. It gives power back to the women in this story making Ophelia more magical than ever before. As someone great once said, “Well behaved women seldom make history.”

IFC Films will release OPHELIA  in theaters on June 28, 2019, and on digital / demand July 3, 2019.

OPHELIA stars Daisy Ridley (Star Wars: The Force AwakensStar Wars: The Last Jedi), Naomi Watts (Mulholland DriveKing Kong), Clive Owen (CloserChildren of Men), George Mackay (Peter PanCaptain Fantastic), and Tom Felton (Harry PotterRise of the Planet of the Apes).

Review: ‘We Have Always Lived In The Castle’ in theaters and VOD today.

WE HAVE ALWAYS LIVED IN THE CASTLE 

A film by Stacie Passon
based on the book “We Have Always Lived in the Castle” by Shirley Jackson

Starring Taissa Farmiga, Alexandra Daddario, 
Sebastian Stan, and Crispin Glover

SYNOPSIS: Merricat lives with her sister Constance and her Uncle Julian. The trio are survivors of an arsenic poisoning that killed everyone else in the family five years prior. Merricat is bold and imaginative, and protects the property with “spells”. Despite being hated by the townspeople, the sisters live an idyllic life, until cousin Charles arrives. Charles offers to help around the house, and inquires about the family’s finances. Constance is charmed by Charles, and Merricat resents Charles’ intrusion. As Charles and Merricat battle for control, tragedy threatens to strike again.

There is a heavily literary feel to the structure, script, and performances. If you consider yourself a reader, these aspects will delight you. This all makes perfect sense since it’s based on Shirley Jackson‘s novel. Taissa Farmiga has given us a gorgeous portrayal of Mary Catherine. The specificity of her facial expressions, her physicality, and her tone is a master class in character acting. Sebastian Stan is entirely unlikable in his charm and clearly underlying intentions. His strong presence will make you squirm just as it does the other Blackwood family members. Alexandra Daddario is as elegant and she is uneasy with her plastered on smile. Obviously hiding true emotion on the outside, it’s the moments when the stare lingers a touch too long in which we are suspicious and fearful of her truth. Crispin Glover, who ages at a snail’s pace, is a complex, almost ancillary uncle character with what seems like bouts of early onset dementia. As the only other survivor of their dark tragedy, his idea of a memoir drives his protection of his nieces and the family legacy. This story is filled to the brim with mystery. There are so many assumptions and unanswered backstory questions, but that didn’t stop me in any way from enjoying the hell out of it. It’s the darkness that keeps your interest. The music, costumes, and sets are delicious. With elements of magic, superstition, and greed, We Have Always Lived In The Castle is stylistically engrossing.

In theaters and VOD on May 17 

Review: ‘SMALLER AND SMALLER CIRCLES’

Two Jesuit priests perform forensic work to solve the mystery revolving around the murders of young boys in one of Metro Manila’s biggest slum areas. While dealing with the systematic corruption of the government, church and the elite, the two priests delve into criminal profiling, crime scene investigation and forensic analysis to solve the killings, and eventually, find the murderer.

Based on the award-winning novel by Filipino author F.H. Batacan, SMALLER AND SMALLER CIRCLES illustrates the best and worst of human nature: the antiseptic and dirty, the sublime and rotten, the hellish and divine.

With an unusual premise of having priests specialize in forensics, Smaller and Smaller Circles opens with haunting music and a disturbing image. Setting the stage for a mystery no one wants to delve further into. It addresses corruption in every corner of the church. Driven by greed and in the interest of reputation over the safety of the community’s young boys, we are witness to evil in many forms. A moody tone is set, eerily similar to the feeling Season 1 of True Detective gave us. The film could have easily been a mini-series. The final scene leads me to believe that this story isn’t over, in a sense. At the very least, our leading  characters have more work they can do. I, for one, would be invested in another film if not a redeveloped series, altogether. There are more details, I can only assume, the novel addresses. The story feels incomplete, only in the sense that I wanted more. Ultimately, this is a compliment to the intricacy of the storyline. The forensics aspects are intensely graphic but profoundly effective. The acting from ancillary characters is a bit spotty. It feels as if locals without experience were used to fill those roles. Though, I must give credit to each lead. Fully fleshed out backstories were felt even if we didn’t see them. This is yet another reason I would watch an expanded version. Smaller and Smaller Circles is undeniably engrossing.

SMALLER AND SMALLER CIRCLES was directed by Raya Martin and written by Raymond Lee and Ria Limjap.  The film features both English and Filipino language.  It has a running time of 111 minutes and will not be rated by the MPAA.

Uncork’d Entertainment will release the film in Los Angeles and additional select markets on March 1.  It will then be released digitally on March 19 (iTunes, Amazon, Vudu, Google Play, Fandango Now, Xbox and local Cable).

Review: ‘GALVESTON’ impresses with its story and star, Ben Foster.

SYNOPSIS: Roy (Foster) is a heavy-drinking criminal enforcer and mob hit man whose boss set him up in a double-cross scheme. After killing his would-be assassins before they could kill him, Roy discovers Rocky (Fanning), a young woman being held captive, and reluctantly takes her with him on his escape. Determined to find safety and sanctuary in Galveston, Roy must find a way to stop his boss from pursuing them while trying to outrun the demons from his and Rocky’s pasts.

Just when I think Ben Foster can’t get better, well, I should know better by now. His fearless choices in roles continue in the new film Galveston. A man double-crossed and doing a good deed for a captive young girl (played spectacularly by Elle Tanning), Foster once again transforms voice, physicality, and persona to become a hero. His powerful on-screen presence is undeniable and one day, sooner rather than later, we will see him with a much deserved Oscar in his hands. His chemistry with Fanning is delicate and honest as the reality of their dilemma unfolds. The film is a tour de force of intensity from the get-go. It only becomes darker as the story rolls on. Galveston is as heartbreaking as it is triumphant.

RLJE Films will release the thriller / drama GALVESTON in theaters and On Demand / Digital HD on October 19, 2018.

Based on the novel by the creator of “True Detective,” GALVESTON stars Ben Foster (Hell or High Water), Elle Fanning (The Beguiled), Beau Bridges (The Mountain Between Us), Lili Reinhart (“Riverdale”), and Robert Aramayo (Nocturnal Animals). The film made its world premiere at the 2018 SXSW Film Festival and was directed by Mélanie Laurent (Inglourious Basterds) from a script by Jim Hammett.

 

Review: ‘The Catcher Was A Spy’ is crackerjack film.

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/4c67cfe4821e202e2c118979b/images/ac0f2924-cbd6-47f6-a3eb-a5f768479998.png
Presents
THE CATCHER WAS A SPY
*Official Selection of the 2018 Sundance Film Festival*

In Theaters and On Demand June 22, 2018

The Catcher Was a Spy tells the true story of Morris “Moe” Berg (Paul Rudd), the Major League Baseball player, Ivy League graduate, attorney and top-secret spy who helped the U.S. defeat Nazi Germany in the race to build the atomic bomb.

Paul Rudd gives a stunning performance as the real-life and incredibly enigmatic “Moe” Berg. A former catcher for The Boston Red Sox, a Princeton grad, and all-around genius of a man, Berg speaks 7 languages and has the guts to take on a mission to save the world. Rudd, someone who has a natural talent for improvisation and making us laugh until we pee ourselves, carries this dramatic film like a true movie star. While his Ant-Man training certainly came in handy for this particular role, playing Berg is further proof that Rudd is underutilized outside his typical comedic fare. More dramatic roles could boost him into award season regular status. The complexities of this man are not lost in the complicated narrative of history. Three cheers to the writers on that front. The superb editing heightens the action and intrigue that leaves the viewer fully engrossed. The film easily captures what might seem like a crazy premise, use a former baseball player as a spy, until you are let into the eccentric and bold mind of Moe Berg. With striking sets and costumes and alongside a massively hard-hitting cast (the likes of Jeff Daniels, Mark Strong, Sienna Miller, Guy Pearce, Paul Giamatti, Hiroyuki Sanada)The Catcher Was A Spy is an exciting historical period drama that delves into one of the most unique stories of the WWII era.

Starring
Paul Rudd, Jeff Daniels, Mark Strong, Sienna Miller, 
Guy Pearce, Paul Giamatti, Hiroyuki Sanada

Directed by Ben Lewin (The Sessions)
Written by Robert Rodat (Academy Award Nominee, Saving Private Ryan)
Score by Howard Shore (Academy Award Winner, Lord of the Ring series, Hugo)

Tribeca Film Festival Reviews: ‘Cargo’ & ‘The Night Eats The World’ breathe new life into the zombie genre.

Cargo

Director: Ben Howling, Yolanda Ramke

Writer: Yolanda Ramke

Producers: Samantha Jennings, Kristina Ceyton, Russell Ackerman, John Schoenfelder, Mark Patterson

Cast: Martin Freeman, Anthony Hayes, Susie Porter

Stranded in rural Australia in the aftermath of a violent pandemic, an infected father desperately seeks a new home for his infant child, and a means to protect her from his own changing nature.

 

Cargo, starring Martin Freeman will undoubtedly rip your heart out if you are a parent. It’s a race against time form the very first scene. It contains an intriguing bit of cannon with respect to this particular zombie outbreak. I’m always curious how this will be addressed in the genre and in Cargo, it’s very different from what we’re used to seeing. This film has a wonderful pace. It is dark with a constant feeling of dread looming. Freeman plays a believably loving and caring father of his infant daughter. The action and terror are unrelenting. In the genre what more can you really ask for? The film will be coming to Netflix next Friday, May 18th!


The Night Eats The World

Directed by

Dominique Rocher

Writing Credits (in alphabetical order)

Pit Agarmen (novel)
Jérémie Guez (screenplay) (adaptation) (dialogue)
Guillaume Lemans (screenplay) (adaptation) (dialogue)
Dominique Rocher (screenplay) (adaptation) (dialogue)

The morning after a party, a young man wakes up to find Paris invaded by zombies.

The Night Eats The World is all about isolation. Sam is alone in his ex’s apartment, walls splattered with blood, and the other floors are not much better. Realizing the outside is even less safe, he begins to use his wits by gathering what he can find, little by little, staying organized but perhaps not sane. Actor Anders Danielsen Lie is in every single scene of the film. His performance is so engrossing that I almost missed his complete physical transformation along the way. He must remain as calm as possible, which is pretty difficult considering the circumstances. An interesting element to his character is that he is a musician. This becomes both an advantage and a misstep in the plot. We’ve all watched The Walking Dead for years now but off the top of my head, I’m not sure I would be as methodic in my solitary survival as Sam. While we don’t get any information about the outbreak specifically, it never stopped me from enjoying the film, rooting for Sam to stay alive. Sometimes you don’t need it all spelled out for you, sometimes great storytelling is more than enough. 

Review: ‘And Then I Go’ will haunt every parent in America.

AND THEN I GO

In the cruel world of junior high, Edwin suffers in a state of anxiety and alienation alongside his only friend, Flake. Misunderstood by their families and demoralized at school daily, their fury simmers quietly until an idea for vengeance offers them a terrifying release. Based on the acclaimed novel “Project X” by Jim Shepard, this unflinching look at adolescence explores how the powerful bonds of childhood friendship and search for belonging can become a matter of life or death.

With two small children, I now have a whole new set of anxiety as I research schools. I remember how bullying affected me when I was middle-school age. But with social media and the lack of consequences I have seen surrounding some children’s behavior, I am increasingly nervous about what my kids are getting themselves into through no fault of their own. My sister is newly a fulltime school counselor. The lack of coping skills and the increase of online harassment makes these kids more vulnerable than ever before. She job has quickly transformed from a few state-mandated cases into the disciplinary dumping ground for her particular administration. The uphill battle keeps getting higher.

The new film And Then I Go looks deep inside the isolation of two young boys as they are tormented by issues at home and school, some of their own doing and some by association. Performances from Melanie Lynskey and Justin Long are equal parts exhausted parents and concerned, loving individuals. They are caught in a cycle of changing behavior typical of their older son’s environment and a second child whose innocence is still intact due to age and personality. You feel for all parties involved and if you’re a parent yourself, can understand the look of desperation and quick jump to judgment.
The anchors of the film are undoubtedly our pair of lost boys, Arman Darbo and Sawyer Barth. These two give performances that will leave you breathless. The emotional depths to which these two have to go are heartbreaking and raw. Some moments are so natural you will wonder if there is a script at all. We will be seeing much more from these two in the future. Tony Hale and Carrie Preston offer us an insight into the minds of school staff and the attention they try to give to all their students. They are in the same mindset as parents emotionally and mentally. Exhaustive attempts to serve each child as an individual either stick or they don’t. All we can do is our best and remember why we do the jobs in the first place.
From the opening voiceover, there is an air of anxiety and melancholy. A deep seeded feeling of dread looms over the film as the plot rolls along. The cinematography and lighting are key to setting the film’s mood and tone. It’s a beautiful thing to behold, truly. While I was able to figure out where the film was headed, I was so invested in the characters that I was rooting for a different outcome throughout. You cannot help but hope that something or someone will intervene. But as a former teacher, I have seen the overcrowding and felt the burnout in taking work home, yet trying desperately to keep track of not only the kids in my own class but others. Resources being slashed left and right doesn’t help administration, teachers, and parents to do their very best. We are only human. I for one will be seeking out Jim Shepard‘s novel, “Project X”, immediately. And Then I Go should be required viewing for every adult in America today.

The Orchard will release AND THEN I GO On Digital and On Demand April 17, 2018.

The film features a stellar cast led by Justin Long (Yoga Hosers, Tusk, Accepted), Melanie Lynskey (“Castle Rock,” “Togetherness,” Heavenly Creatures), Tony Hale (“Arrested Development,” “Veep”), Melonie Diaz (Fruitvale Station, The Belko Experiment), Carrie Preston (“Claws,” “True Blood”), and powerful performances from teenage actors Arman Darbo (Defenders of Life) and Sawyer Barth (Super Dark Times).

 

Review: ‘The Leisure Seeker’ is ultimately relationship goals.

In Select Theaters March 9th

THE LEISURE SEEKER stars Academy Award-winner® Helen Mirren and two-time Golden Globe-winner® Donald Sutherland as a runaway couple on an unforgettable journey in the faithful old RV they call the Leisure Seeker. The couple travels from Boston to The Ernest Hemingway Home in Key West, recapturing their passion for life and their love for each other on a road trip that provides revelation and surprise right up to the very end.

While there are admittedly a few bumps in the road during The Leisure Seeker, as a whole the film is a beautiful journey through one couple’s history. Slight pacing issues and superfluous scenes aside, the heart of this film is the love between two people who adore one another to the core. As a granddaughter that has been witness to dementia, the disease can be an exhausting trip minute to minute. Donald Sutherland undoubtedly gives an award-winning performance, navigating memory loss through ever-changing beats. I counted no less than four distinctive version of the same man portrayed on screen by Sutherland. For Helen Mirren, this role feels like a bit of a departure. It is one that requires both a facade and unadulterated softness. The chemistry between these our stars is movie magic. If you have ever experienced two people who are so lovingly interdependent, then this film will resonate with you in between the dialogue. The care with which Mirren’s character takes in protecting her husband countered by the real moment to moment human frustration of this burden are palpable. The film may not be everyone’s cup of teas, as you will certainly be more affected if you have lived through these circumstances. The Leisure Seeker is not a glamorous film. It is raw and poignant in its quiet.

 

Review: Can Daniel Radcliffe survive the ‘JUNGLE’?

 

Based on the international best-selling memoir by Yossi Ghinsberg

An enthusiastic young adventurer follows his dreams into the Amazon jungle with two friends and a guide with a mysterious past. Their journey quickly turns into a terrifying ordeal as the darkest elements of human nature and the deadliest threats of the wilderness lead to an all-out fight for survival.

Daniel Radcliffe is almost unrecognizable as real-life adventurer Yossi Ghinsberg. Greg McLean‘s film, based on Ghinsberg’s harrowing journey (and autobiography) in the Bolivian jungle in 1981 is filled with some of the most gag-inducing moments in a non-horror film we’ve seen since 127hrs. Radcliffe, sporting a heavy accent, transforms onscreen from a fit hiker to gaunt survivor. His emotional and physical rollercoaster ride is quite the experience for the audience, proving once again that Radcliffe’s talent is far beyond his Harry Potter years.
The film is essentially broken into 2 equal parts equally. The first hour is how Yossi and company come to be in the jungle, to begin with. Relationships are challenged, tempers flare, bodies are wearing down. Suddenly, and by a devastating accident, Yossi falls into the raging river, stranding him alone. This second hour has Radcliffe in almost every shot. Blended with colorful flashbacks, seriously intense stunts, and beautiful insight, JUNGLE thrills. The story is beyond incredible, lending you to wonder how and if you could survive. Check out the trailer below!

Momentum Pictures will release the thriller JUNGLE in select theaters and On Demand/Digital HD on October 20th.

A true story of survival against all odds, JUNGLE is based on the international best-selling memoir by Israeli adventurer Yossi Ghinsberg and is directed by Greg McLean (The Belko Experiment, Wolf Creek).  The film adaptation stars Daniel Radcliffe (Swiss Army Man, Horns, Harry Potter franchise) as Yossi, Thomas Kretschmann(Wanted, King Kong, Resident Evil: Apocalypse), Alex Russell (Carrie, Unbroken), and Joel Jackson (“Safe Harbour”).

Review: ‘THE LIMEHOUSE GOLEM’ gives us a theatrical look at murder and mayhem.

 presents

THE LIMEHOUSE GOLEM

**World Premiere – Toronto International Film Festival 2016**

**Official Selection – Sitges Film Festival 2016**

The city of London is gripped with fear as a serial killer – dubbed The Limehouse Golem – is on the loose and leaving cryptic messages written in his victim’s blood.  With few leads and increasing public pressure, Scotland Yard assigns the case to Inspector Kildare (Bill Nighy) – a seasoned detective with a troubled past and a sneaking suspicion he’s being set up to fail.  Faced with a long list of suspects, including music hall star Dan Leno (Douglas Booth), Kildare must get help from a witness who has legal troubles of her own (Olivia Cooke), so he can stop the murders and bring the killer to justice.

Based on the novel “Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem” by Peter Ackroyd, the film was written by the acclaimed writer Jane Goldman (KingsmenThe Woman in Black), directed by Juan Carlos Medina (Painless) and produced by Stephen Woolley (Their Finest, Interview with a Vampire), Joanna Laurie (Hyena) and Elizabeth Karlsen (Carol).  The film stars Bill Nighy (Love Actually, Underworld), Olivia Cooke (Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, “Bates Motel”), Douglas Booth (Pride, Prejudice and ZombiesNoah), Daniel Mays (“Line of Duty”) and Eddie Marsan (Sherlock Holmes, “Ray Donovan.”) The Limehouse Golem is a whirlwind mystery. Jane Goldman has taken Peter Ackroyd‘s novel and brought it to life from page to screen and ultimately stage since much of the story revolves around live performances and theatrical ambition. The costumes and set are gorgeous, striking a perfect visual balance of play costumes and period dress. The dark Limehouse district scenes of macabre and the vibrant, hyper-saturated theater are striking in contrast. The story cannot help but grab you as you try to keep up with the suspects alongside Nighy‘s lead. The cast is a true ensemble of talent. Bill Nighy‘s role was originally meant for the late Alan Rickman, but once his health began to decline Nighy stepped into the role. The film is actually dedicated to Rickman’s memory. Nighy is brilliant and powerful as usual in his honest search for the truth. Olivia Cooke, who’s talent is grossly underrated, does a spectacular job as she navigates a complicated woman in Lizzie Cree. I would be remiss if I didn’t give a standing ovation, as it were, to Douglas Booth in his engrossing portrayal of real life actor Dan Leno. Funny, touching, purely entertaining, Booth owns this role. The script will keep you on your toes and with a murder mystery, what more can you ask for?

THE LIMEHOUSE GOLEM in Theaters, on VOD and Digital HD today September 8, 2017.

Review: ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’- A Trip into the Wizarding World Worth Waiting For

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When Warner Bros released the spectacular Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 in 2011, many believed this to be the conclusion of the wizarding world of J.K. Rowling, but here we are just five years later and we’re heading back into the Harry Potter universe with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,  a prequel of sorts which expands the magical realm to 1920’s New York City. David Yates continues his tenure as director as he did for the final four films in the Harry Potter franchise and is tasked with helming all five films in this new series. Can this new wizarding tale hold up to the high standards of the boy who lived epic? Let’s begin…accio review!

FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM

Magizoologist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) is your normal run of the mill Hufflepuff, hard working, friendly and loyal to a fault. Passionate about magical creatures from an early age, he traveled the world observing beasts and their behavior in the wild, which is what brings him to New York City. After a niffler escapes his suitcase, Newt searches for the pesky creature in a local bank where he encounters Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler) a “no maj”, or non wizard folk, who witnesses Newt’s magical powers and fantastic creatures. Unbeknownst to Newt, another wizard, Porpentina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston) has spotted the young wizard and witnesses his reckless actions. As an employee of the Magical Congress of the United States of America, Porpentina must report Newt to the authorities for carrying his magical creatures into the city; only one problem…the suitcase has been mistakenly switched! Faced with the notion that a no maj is in possession of a suitcase full of magical creatures, Tina and Newt head out to find Jacob in hopes to stop him from accidentally setting the creatures free.

FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM

But the creatures aren’t the only thing threatening the wizards. Percival Graves (Colin Farrell), a high-ranking Auror and the Director of Magical Security for MACUSA, is in charge of the protection of wizards and set with the task of tracking down Newt. There is also the growing concern of The New Salem Philanthropic Society, an extremist group lead by Mary Lou Barebone (Samantha Morton) who is trying to rally the citizens of New York behind her cause to “out” the members of the wizarding community and rid the world of their unusual powers. She is aided by her adopted son Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller) and a legion of young children looking to assemble an army to their cause. If that wasn’t enough, there’s Gellert Grindelwald, a dark wizard who has caused growing concern after recent attacks on the wizarding community and could reappear at any moment. Newt and Tina must rush against friend and foe to complete their mission before time runs out.

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The mind of J.K. Rowling will never cease to amaze me. To take a companion text book about magical creatures that she wrote under the pseudonym of the fictitious author Newt Scamander and turn it into a new film franchise that is exciting and carefully connected to the Harry Potter universe is an exceptional feat.  David Yates has become an integral part of the creative process of the wizarding world and his dedication to J.K. Rowling’s source material cannot be duplicated. After successfully navigated the dark storylines of the final books in the Harry Potter series, Yates now brings  Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and these new wonderful characters to audiences that are faced with uncharted waters, a film series with no source material to reference! But the film plays out like an old, trusted, well read novel that we, of course, have known all along thanks to both Rowling and Yates.

FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM

Eddie Redmayne is outstanding as Newt Scamander, a role he most certainly was destined to play. Accompanied by the lovely and talented actresses Katherine Waterston and Alison Sudol and the lovable no maj Dan Fogler, this team of unlikely heroes is perfectly cast and are the cornerstones in this new tale. Their story is just beginning and fans will be eager to see where the adventures takes them.

Overall, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is an exceptional introduction into this new expansion of J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world. Keep your eyes and ears peeled to the screen for easter eggs and references to the Harry Potter universe and enjoy the adventure, it is worth the trip.

Stars:

4 1/2 out of 5

After Credit Scene?

None

Trailer

Review: ‘Inferno’- An unfaithful adaptation but the best film of the trilogy

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A decade has past since Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) hit the screen for his first adventure in the Da Vinci Code and he now returns for another go in the adaptation Inferno. From director Ron Howard based on the Dan Brown novel, “Inferno”, the fourth book in the series (yes, they skipped “The Lost Symbol”), is an exciting and intricate race against time that kept you intrigued throughout the pages, question is, can the movie adaptation match the cleverness?

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Robert Langdon awakens in a hospital room in Florence, Italy, with no memory of what has transpired over the last few days and unexplained visions of human suffering. Dr. Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones), the attending physician, tells him that he is suffering from amnesia as a result of a bullet wound to his head and asks if he can remember anything that might help them understand what happened. Langdon has little time to process his thoughts as an assassin arrives to complete her mission. Sienna helps Langdon escape and the chase begins. The two arrive in Sienna’s apartment where they find Faraday pointer among Langdon’s personal belongings with projection of Botticelli’s Map of Hell.

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They discover that the map is part of a mystery left by billionaire geneticist Bertrand Zobrist (Ben Foster), who believes that the world is destined for over population and the extinction of the human race. Discovering that Zobrist had recently killed himself, Langdon concludes that there is a reason for this map to be in his possession and the two find a hidden message within. Langdon’s knowledge of Dante’s work allows the two to follow clues thru Florence and Venice, while evading the assassin and the authorities, including the WHO, whom have a keen interest in Langdon. Sienna and Langdon have less than 24 hours to decipher friend from foe and collect all the information they need to help them stop a global event that will change the human race forever.

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Inferno is a fun movie with beautiful cinematography, but the film version falls short of the excitement that made the book so enjoyable, opting for unimaginative plot changes which will leave fans shaking their heads. Tom Hanks isn’t as crisp and confident in his portrayal of Langdon this go around, but the added vulnerability to the character allows Hanks to explore a more emotional side to his character which keeps this version of Langdon from feeling like a retread of the previous films. Felicity Jones’ Sienna Brooks is a far cry from the book version which had so many wonderful layers to her. Jones isn’t to blame for this, but what she is provided isn’t very interesting nor is her chemistry with Hanks. Most of the blame for the character development falls strictly on screenwriter David Koepp and director Ron Howard who ultimately opted for this watered down version of a film.

Overall, Inferno is a struggle for fans of the novel, but a fun movie that will entertain. If nothing else, the film will allow fans of the franchise to see their favorite professor in action one more time, which is worth the price of admission.

Stars:

3 out of 5

Trailer:

Review: ‘Jack Reacher: Never Go Back’

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Tom Cruise returns to action as ex-military man Jack Reacher, a drifter who’s out to protect the innocent in the sequel Jack Reacher: Never Go Back. Based on the 2013 Jack Reacher novel, Never Go Back by Lee Child and directed by Edward Zwick, the film picks up four years after the original film and finds Reacher back in the thick of things with a new set of bad guys and a mission to save a friend, but an unexpected bombshell might change everything for the hero.

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Jack Reacher sets out to take down a human trafficking ring when he comes in contact with Major Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders), head of the military police who helps him get out of a sticky situation. The two continue to communicate through the months that follow which leads to Reacher making his way back to Washington DC where he intends to meet his new friend, but upon arrival he is met with shocking news that Major Turner has been arrested for espionage. Believing that his instincts about Major Turner are correct, Reacher decides to find out the truth behind what’s really happening. In the process of his investigation, Reacher discovers that he may have a teenage daughter (Danika Yarosh) he never knew existed about which complicates his investigation.

jack-reacher-never-go-back-on-set-067As he begins to piece together the plot against Turner, Reacher himself comes under suspicion of murder and finds himself on the run from not only the authorities, but the organization that wants Turner eliminated. The race is on to discover the truth behind who really framed them for crimes they didn’t commit.

Tom Cruise is great as the titular character which plays more like a toned down version of one of his other iconic characters, Ethan Hunt. The main attraction to this character is his unconventional stature in the world as a drifter looking to replace his past of military service with a new life of service by his own rules. Cobie Smulders continues to come into her own in the action genre and gives her a strong female character to develop. Smulders never tries to over think the role and fleshes out the strengths of the character and never takes a back seat to her male lead.

Overall, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is a non stop action thrill ride and a fun popcorn movie that doesn’t reinvent the action genre, but continues the long tradition of making a fun movie for the sake of nothing more than to entertain.

Stars:

3 out of 5

After credit scene?

No

Trailer:

Review: ‘The BFG’

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Family films rarely get much bigger than The BFG, based on the novel of the same name by Roald Dahl and directed by Steven Spielberg. The story of an orphan girl who befriends a giant and accompanies him on the adventure of a lifetime is heartwarming and family friendly with an amazing cast lead by Oscar winner Mark Rylance and newcomer Ruby Barnhill. Come on a journey into giant country and experience the wonder of The BFG.

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Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) is a young orphan girl in London who longs for adventure. Telling the story of frightful things lurking in the shadows of the night, she encounters her own in the form of a massive giant who takes young Sophie from her bed and races back to his home in giant country. Initially afraid of what’s to come, she is introduced to her captor, The BFG (Mark Rylance), an endearingly dim-witted giant with enormous ears and a keen sense of smell. The BFG, or Big Friendly Giant, is nothing like the other inhabitants of giant country you see. He keeps to himself and fancies to feed himself snozzcumber and frobscottle as opposed to his giant brethren  Bloodbottler (Bill Hader) and Fleshlumpeater (Jemaine Clement) who prefer to eat humans.

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The BFG spends most of his time in dream country where he collects dreams and then takes them to children all around the country, teaching Sophie all about the magic and  mystery of dreams. Everything is wonderful between the two new best friends until Sophie’s presence is detected by the other giants, putting her in danger. Sophie and the BFG must head to London to convince Queen Victoria (Penelope Wilton) to help with the impending giant attacks, but they must first convince the Queen and her maid, Mary (Rebecca Hall), that giants do indeed exist. Together, they must all come up with a plan to get rid of the giants once and for all.

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Legendary director Steve Spielberg does not disappoint with his creation of this wonderful Roald Dahl classic. This is a rare film when visuals take a back seat to performance. Mark Rylance is outstanding as the BFG and you truly immerse yourself into his performance that you forget he is a CGI giant. Ruby Barnhill is wonderfully feisty and a true joy to watch. The two of them have a chemistry that works right from moment one. The visuals are spectacular and should be applauded. They subtly blend into the outstanding storytelling and lend the perfect mix to this awe inspiring film.

Overall, The BFG is this summers perfect family film and should not be missed!

Stars:

4 out of 5

After credit scene?

No

Trailer:

‘CAROL’ comes to life on the silver screen today. Here are a few reasons why we think it shouldn’t be missed.

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As one of the most anticipated films of this year’s New York Film Festival, CAROL most certainly blew everyone’s expectations out of the water. Here are just a few reasons why we adore this elegant film…Carol still Cate and RooneyThe Plot:

 In an adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s seminal novel The Price of Salt, CAROL follows two women from very different backgrounds who find themselves in an unexpected love affair in 1950s New York. As conventional norms of the time challenge their undeniable attraction, an honest story emerges to reveal the resilience of the heart in the face of change. A young woman in her 20s, Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara), is a clerk working in a Manhattan department store and dreaming of a more fulfilling life when she meets Carol (Cate Blanchett), an alluring woman trapped in a loveless, convenient marriage. As an immediate connection sparks between them, the innocence of their first encounter dims and their connection deepens. While Carol breaks free from the confines of marriage, her husband (Kyle Chandler) begins to question her competence as a mother as her involvement with Therese and close relationship with her best friend Abby (Sarah Paulson) come to light.

ROONEY MARA and CATE BLANCHETT star in CAROL

ROONEY MARA and CATE BLANCHETT star in CAROL

The Cinematography:

Edward Lachman is a genius behind the camera. Having worked hand in hand with Director Todd Haynes on Far From Heaven in 2002, his visual landscape for Carol is unmatched. Shot in 16mm, perfectly framed, with delicate but specific shots through windows and the focus on the color of crimson and corals, make this a true feast for the eyes.

You can watch Ed discuss his experience in an interview from NYFF53 here.Carol still Kyle Chandler

The Performances:

We’re not shy about our love for Cate Blanchett, nor is The Academy. In truth, there is not a single loose thread in the casting of this film. In the film’s press conference this week, you could see and hear the passion the entire cast held for the project and the respect they had for Phyllis Nagy‘s immaculate adaptation. This is not a story about a lesbian couple, this is a story of two people falling in love. The effortless nature of Blanchett, Mara, Chandler, Paulson, and Lacy as an ensemble evokes the kind of emotion so rarely experienced in the cinema these days. Both Cate and Rooney landed on my Top Female Performances of NYFF53 list. Lacy’s boyish charm and naivete bound off the screen. Chandler’s masculinity and energy are a powerful match for both the period and Blanchett. And as for Sarah Paulson (my favorite player in American Horror Story, every season), well, I wanted to put her in my pocket and place her in every film from here on out. It’s the kind of presence that should not be overlooked, ever. These actors are extraordinarily great at their jobs. There is no doubt about it, CAROL is a timeless film.

(L-R) KYLE CHANDLER and CATE BLANCHETT star in CAROL

(L-R) KYLE CHANDLER and CATE BLANCHETT star in CAROL

For a mere taste of what you’re in for, here is the trailer:

CAROL– Opening In Limited Theaters November 20, 2015

Rated R | Runtime 118 minutes

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Carol still Todd Haynes and Cate Blachett