REVIEW: BARBAROSSA: SIEGE LORD

Starring

Rutger Hauer (Blade Runner)
Raz Degan (Alexander)
F. Murray Abraham (Last Action Hero)
Hristo Zhivkov (The Passion of The Christ)
Antonio Cupo (American Mary)
Cécile Cassel (Foon)
Kasia Smutniak (Loro)

“Italy. 12th century AD. Northern Italy is ruled over by a German Emperor: Frederick I Hohenstaufen, known as ‘Barbarossa’. His dream is to conquer also Central and Southern Italy, thus reviving the ancient empire founded by Charlemagne. But in the North a young man from Milan has formed an army of 900 young men from different cities: the ‘Company of Death’. This young man’s name is Alberto Giussano. His dream is to defeat the Emperor and to regain freedom for the Northern lands.” The Emperor Barbarossa is out hunting when he is attacked by a wild boar, but is saved by a young boy. Rather, he is the boy’s Emperor, Frederick Hohenstaufen, better known as Barbarossa. With this the boy introduces himself as Alberto da Giussano, son of Giovanni; the grateful emperor gives Alberto his imperial dagger inscribed with his name.Rutger Hauer in Barbarossa (2009)A few years later, in the German city of Würzburg, Barbarossa is going to see Hildegard von Bingen, the great seër. He plans to marry for the second time. The seër says that the wedding is blessed. Then she says Frederick of Swabia’s name will be remembered for centuries, but to beware of water for it will bring his death. At the wedding, Henry, Duke of Saxony, is marrying a young French girl. The story cuts to Milan where Evandro calls over to the now grown Alberto and tells him to get onto his cart because they must reach the river before dawn. They reach the river and start to load their goods onto a boat there. Lodigiani soldiers arrive and say the merchants crossed through their territory in the night and now they must pay their dues. Evandro pulls a knife and slits the throat of the soldier next to him then Alberto and his companions slay the other soldiers but Alberto is in the fighting. His horse brings him back home where two beautiful women, the blonde Tessa and her brunette sister, sister Eleonora. The brunette kisses Alberto’s face while he is still unconscious.2barbaraossa-siege-lordTwo emissaries from Lodi come to Barbarossa to tell him that the city of Milan is trying to dominate them. Lodi has always been loyal to the Emperor and now they ask him for his help. Barbarossa says he doesn’t want to use any force right now on Milan. He says he will write a letter to Milan and the two emissaries will take it to them. A German emissary delivers the letter to Milan. He says that he comes in the name of the Emperor. Milan is warned not to attack Lodi on pain of being banished from the Empire. A cleric named Gerado throws the letter on the ground and steps on it. Gerado’s colleague, Siniscalco Barozzi is shocked at the behaviour of his friend and he asks the German emissary not to leave. Alberto is also shocked and asks Gerado what is he going to do now. Gerado says he will gather the army and attack Lodi. Alberto has a nightmare and awakens in fright from his deep sleep. His two brothers tell him that Lodi has been defeated. Barbarossa is furious that Milan attacked Lodi, but he really has no desire to fight. He says it’s as if Milan were trying to force him into fighting them. But Barbarossa’s charismatic and supportive new queen wants him to go to Milan and destroy that city. Barbarossa sets out for Milan.445776-16330-clp-950Tessa, Eleanora and father have dinner when Siniscalco Barozzi arrives, asking the father for the hand of his daughter Tessa. Tessa’s Father says that Tessa would make a good wife and he will put in a good word for him with her. Eleonora comes to tell Alberto that Siniscalco Barozzi wants to marry Tessa but she says that will never happen. Alberto says that they say she is a witch and jokes that maybe that is how she knows Tessa’s future. Eleanora is hurt and angry by the accusation so to pacify her, Alberto he shows her the large knife given to him by Barbarossa himself. Eleonora touches it and sees a vision of fighting. She recoils from the knife then she runs from the house. Tessa tells Eleonora that Ranero, one of Alberto’s brothers, says he wants to marry her and she returns his feelings. Siniscalco Barozzi reaches the camp of Barbarossa but The Emperor is not there so the scheming and cowardly Barozzi tells the substitute Rinaldo di Dassel that he has brought Milan’s oath of allegiance to Barbarossa. Rinaldo takes the money, but says that Barbarossa is still coming to attack Milan.maxresdefaultBarozzi returns to Milan to warn of the great size of the German army. In addition, they have a great many war machines. Barozzi implores the people to surrender Milan but they decide to fight, to Barozzi’s irritation. In Verona at the Adige River, a new bridge has been built to the satisfaction of the Germans. They start crossing the bridge, but soon heavy log rams are send down the river to knock the bridge into sections. German horses and soldiers are tossed into the Adige River. For Verona siding with Milan and killing many German soldiers, Barbarossa cuts off the ear of one of the Verona emissaries. Eleonora runs to tell Alberto that the Germans have destroyed the city of Brescia with more than one thousand dead. Alberto says they are still going to fight to save Milan. Eleonora thinks the battle has already been lost. As Soldiers from the cities of Parma, Cremona, Padua and Ferrara are sent to join forces with Barbarossa, the Germans are approach Milan. The bells are rung and the people come into the fort. There is a moat around the fortified walls of the city. The Germans come forward to the moat behind moveable wooden walls. They start pushing giant kegs into the moat water. The Milanese archers try to kill the men working on the kegs, but the German have hundreds of crossbowmen firing arrows into the Milanese archers. Then fire balls are thrown against the Milanese walls and the Milanese buildings inside. The Milanese fight back with their own fire balls launched at the keg bearers.BarbarossaBarozzi asks for volunteers to go out and collect food for the people inside the walls. Alberto raises his hand to volunteer, but Barozzi chooses his brother Ranero instead, who did not raise his hand to volunteer. Alberto tells Barozzi to leave his brother alone so Barozzi says then Alberto will go instead of Ranero. Shamed into volunteering, Ranero says he is going for he wants no man to say that he lacks courage. Barozzi wants Ranero to go to battle and die so he can have Tessa all to himself but Tessa, disgusted by Barozzi’s cynical manipulations, tells him that if Ranero does not return, she would rather die than be with him. The Germans then push their towers toward the walls of Milan. On the front of the towers they have tied the Millanese volunteers that went out in the fields to get fresh food for the residents of Milan. Orders are given not to shoot but Barozzi grabs a crossbow and shoots Ranero dead. Now others start shooting and most of the volunteers are killed. At night Alberto goes out and up to retrieve the bodies of his two brothers and swears vengeance for their deaths to his father. Eleonora tries to talk him out of going but he will not hear of it. Alberto slits the tent of Barbarossa and slips in, only to be confronted by Barbarossa who asks where he got his knife and Alberto says some time ago Barbarossa himself gave the knife to him. Out of gratitude for saving his life, Barbarossa lets Alberto go. As Alberto prepares to slip out of the German camp he sees Barozzi come into the camp.4275f89744278864da88c2fda68ec4e9_700x259Alberto returns to his father, but now the Germans are pouring through the gates, led by Barozzi whom Alberto wants to kill but he is captured before he can. Alberto and all the other prisoners are brought before the Emperor, who burns the Milanese flag. He then says that all of Milan will be razed to the ground and all the Milanese must leave the area before sunset. In Rome Barbarossa chooses the new Pope and now the Pope crowns he and his wife the Emperor and Empress of the Holy Roman Empire, respectively. As the Emperor and Empress leave the coronations, a man falls dead in front of them. The Empress demands to know what happened to the man. A man looks the body over and says the man died of the plague. Barbarossa and his new Queen make plans to flee. At the Pontida Monastery, men from Milan hold a meeting together in secret. The men are very pessimistic about their chances of ever defeating Barbarossa and rebuilding Milan. Alberto and his friend burst into the meeting and Alberto shouts that they can defeat Barbarossa if they can just stay united and that this time all the cities of Lombardy will unite against the Germans. Alberto comes to see Eleonora at her father’s house. Her asks her where Tessa is and Eleonora tells him she is dead when in fact Tessa has retired to a nunnery following the death of Ranero. Alberto plans to take Eleonora with him this time but Eleonora resists the idea saying that Alberto always treated her just like everyone else. Alberto apologizes to her.20090729083511Alberto and Eleonora come to visit with Eleonora’s sister-in-law when Barozzi and the imperial German soldiers arrive to collect the Emperor’s share of the local harvest. Alberto tells Eleonora that the Germans treat them like animals and says that it is time to stop running and form an army. In Rome Barbarossa’s men want to leave the plague infested city. His wife wants him to stay put, but Barbarossa sides with his men and says they are going home. Alberto tells his men that they will become the “Company of Death” and their motto shall be “Death or freedom”. Alberto and his men start rallying volunteers, soon gathering a large force of Lombard men. Eleonora goes to see Tessa in the nunnery. She tells Tessa of the rise of the power of the Lombard League and Tessa tells Eleonora to marry Alberto. Alberto again asks Eleonora again to marry him and this time she agrees however soon after, Barozzi comes to the nunnery to take the Emperor’s share of their bounty and to abduct attractive nuns. As Barozzi pulls off the veils of the nuns, he finds Tessa among them. He is ecstatic to find her but Tessa, aware that Barozzi killed her fiancé slashes his face with a dagger and runs to the roof of the nunnery. There she stands on the ledge threatening to plunge to her death. Barozzi begs her not to do it, promising to change his dishonest ways but Tessa fulfils her vow and throws herself to her death rather than be forced to marry him. Far away, her sister senses the death of Tessa and weeps for her. Barozzi and Eleonora are at the funeral. Eleanora approaches Barozzi and he tearfully tells her that he loved Tessa. Blaming Barozzi for Tessa’s suicide, Eleonora is unforgiving and slashes Barozzi’s throat, non-fatally wounding him.UntitledNews comes to Alberto that Eleonora almost killed Barozzi who has taken Eleonora to the camp of Barbarossa at Alessandria. There they plan to burn her at the stake. Alberto is enraged upon hearing the news. At The Empress is frightened by rumours that Eleanora is a witch while Barbarossa is upset because they have been trying for weeks to take the city without success. He tells his staff to double the digging of the tunnel. His staff tell him that the frequent rains have slowed the digging and the rivers around the city are filled up with water; if the rains continue the rivers will overflow and the whole camp will be submerged. In addition, the rain and mud are destroying the morale of the troops. The Empress goes to see Eleanora. She sees her right arm has been burned and asks what happened. Eleanora tells her that it is scarring from a lightning strike. The Empress is amazed. Eleonora’s cellmate screams that the woman is a witch and she runs to the cell door banging hard on it to be let out. The Empress leaves the cell still wondering how the woman survived. The tunnel is discovered when there is a cave in opening up a large hole to the sky. When Barbarossa learns of this, he orders that the war machines all be set on fire. They are retreating. Barbarossa says they will retreat to Pavia in Lombardy. His wife advises him to send a message to his cousin Henry the Lion to bring fresh troops for the German army to which Barbarossa agrees but the Empress has an additional request; to free Eleanora because she believes that is protected by God but Barbarossa refuses.barbarossarenzomartinellifotorutgerhauerAt the Mera River, Emperor Barbarossa and his troops arrive and Barbarossa asks his cousin Henry the Lion when he is going to give the army he promised him. Henry says that war is no longer a luxury that he can afford and he has no soldiers to give to Frederick, but he does have a small chest filled with coins with which Frederick can buy fresh troops. Possessed of great wealth already, Frederick growls that Henry is “useless” and leaves him behind. Barozzi arrives late to Eleanora’s burning but a masked woman is on the pyre which is set alight. He does not see her face but is told that she is Eleanora. Alberto and the men of the Company of Death prepare to attack the forces of Barbarossa and beforehand Alberto gives his men a speech about fighting for their freedom. In Legnano, to the North of Milan, The German army faces what they think is only the Milanese army. They are roughly two miles away on the plain and Barbarossa is sure of victory. He gives the order to take the Empress to Pavia for her protection. He then leads the charge. The cavalry retreats and the Germans face the secret weapons of the scythes. The wagons filled with scythe-wielding men cut the cavalry down. Now with the German cavalry weakened the Lombard cavalry attacks them. In the battle Barozzi kills Lorenzo, Alberto’s only remaining brother and attacks Alberto from behind, saying that he will send him to join his “whore in Hell.” Alberto rams into Barozzi who drops his sword and falls to the ground, his helmet rolling off as Alberto lands atop him. As Barozzi cries and pathetically begs for his life, Alberto avenges his brothers by slowly driving a stiletto knife into Barozzi’s throat, killing him. The Lombards win the battle. Found on the battlefield is a wounded Eleonora in full uniform. She tells Alberto that the Empress saved her life by substituting another woman to be burned in her place and moving the time of her execution so that Barozzi and the Emperor would not find out. Alberto gets his wife back.maxresdefault (1)The film ends with an onscreen text saying that three days after the Battle of Legnano, Barbarossa reappeared at the court of Pavia. No one knows where he was or what he did during those three days. Fourteen years later, he left for the Crusades. On a spring evening, in Anatolia, he waded in the waters of the Salef River and, just as foretold, he met his death in the water after being bitten by a snake. The audience is told “Alberto da Giussano lived a long life with Eleanora, and they had several children. The Company of Death was dispersed: the towns of the Lombard League had won their freedom.”

Barbarossa (2009)This is about the campaigns to conquer Italy of German Emperor Frederick ,whom the Italians called Barbarossa because he had a red beard.Its obvious that a movie of this scope would need a Hollywood grade-A budget and basically everything grade-A.They didn’t have it in this movie,they tried with second-grade actors like Rutger Hauer and a mediocre budget.Which means its not exactly cheap,some battle scenes are pretty decent but its also not exactly satisfying in size and scope of such events.If they had managed to bring to life such historical events,they would be worthy of academy awards.That said,its not bad as a mediocre medieval movie,but its just too small for the story it is undertaking.They could have limited themselves to a smaller part of the Barbarossa campaigns.Yet,for people who like medieval historical movies with battle scenes,its an OK effort.

REVIEW: MY ONE AND ONLY

 

Starring

Renée Zellweger (What/If)
Logan Lerman (The Three Musketeers)
Kevin Bacon (Cop Car)
Mark Rendall (30 Days of Night)
Chris Noth (Lovelace)
Molly Quinn (Castle)
Nick Stahl (Sin City)
Steven Weber (2 Broke Girls)
Eric McCormack (Will & Grace)
Robin Weigert (Deadwood)
David Koechner (Anchorman)
Phoebe Strole (Glow)
Maury Ginsberg (Jessica Jones)

Renée Zellweger and Steven Weber in My One and Only (2009)In New York City in 1953, Anne Deveraux lives with her bandleader husband Danny, their 15-year-old son George, and Anne’s somewhat older effeminate son Robbie. After catching Danny in yet another affair, Anne leaves him and takes the children with her.Renée Zellweger and Chris Noth in My One and Only (2009)Anne embarks on a road trip across the United States, in search of a husband to fund a new life for her and her boys. George serves as the chauffeur. They first travel to Boston and Pittsburgh. Anne has a string of disastrous attempts at relationship. After finding that a former suitor now deems her too old to be of interest she becomes desperate and dispirited and chats up a man in a bar who turns out to be an undercover house detective. He takes her for a prostitute and charges her with solicitation.Renée Zellweger, Logan Lerman, and Mark Rendall in My One and Only (2009)Meanwhile, George meets with his father who comes into town on a tour. George asks him to take him back to New York but Danny turns him down because he is often on the road for his work. George concludes that Danny does not love him. George also learns that Danny had sent money several times, but Anne resolutely returned it each time.Renée Zellweger in My One and Only (2009)Running low on funds, Anne tries her luck in St. Louis where her sister lives. The sisters have a very strained relationship but Anne tries to make the best of it and takes a job at a paint store and becomes engaged to the owner. It turns out, however, he is mentally ill and already married. Anne is paid off by the man’s family for her trouble. As Anne readies to get on the road again, this time for Los Angeles, George informs her that he is staying with Anne’s sister, whom he’d already cleared it with. Anne and George argue bitterly and Anne, resigned, accepts his decision and leaves with Robbie, who now serves as the chauffeur.Renée Zellweger and Logan Lerman in My One and Only (2009)Near Albuquerque, mother and son get robbed by a couple they picked up for gas money. Robbie phones George to tell him what happened. In discussing it with Anne’s sister and her husband, George discovers Anne had left money with them for his board and care. He takes the remaining money and meets Anne and Robbie at a Greyhound bus station somewhere in the Southwest. The three arrive in Los Angeles and settle into a shabby apartment. Anne comes home one day to find Danny waiting for her. He asks if she still loves him and says he wants her and the boys to come back to New York. She replies, “I don’t know if I love you but I do know I don’t need you.” Danny then departs extending an open invitation to return if she changes her mind.Anne forges ahead and the family gets work as extras in a movie. Anne catches the eye of the movie producer and manages to get Robbie slated to try for a starring role. George thinks maybe his mother was right all along and everything will turn out fine. But that evening Anne gets a call and learns Danny has died of a heart attack. George flies back to New York to attend Danny’s funeral and gets Anne’s blessing to stay there and attend his former prep school on scholarship. Soon, however, he realizes he belongs with his family and returns to Los Angeles unannounced. George finds Robbie having difficulty with a scene in a movie. As he helps Robbie recite his lines, George is discovered as a talented actor. Robbie gives up acting and goes to work in costuming. In epilogue, George reveals that he is a contracted Hollywood actor and has changed his last name to “Hamilton,” which was his father’s real last name. He realizes that Anne, Robbie and he didn’t need anyone to take care of them, that they could take care of themselves and that they were going to be just fine.While maybe not the best film made itt certainly is better than most . No car chases, explosions, killings, drugs or sex nor foul language. No wonder it was a flop at the box office. Tis a pity as this is an exceptionally dramady. Good performances from the entire cast, down to the tiniest bits. Rene Zellweger was at the top of her game here. A Very authentic look of the film which makes it even better. An extra scene here and there would have helped with what was going on part of the time. A couple of scenes seem to jump as if there was something missing. The only unreal thing is the taxi driving up to the sound stage at the end. That couldn’t happen in real life. It’s a shame this didn’t have a broader release as no one saw it.

REVIEW: FIGHTING WITH MY FAMILY

Starring

Florence Pugh (Black Widow)
Lena Headey (Game of Thrones)
Nick Frost (Hot Fuzz)
Jack Lowden (Mary Queen of Scotts)
Vince Vaughn (The Internship)
Dwayne Johnson (Central Intelligence)
James Burrows (Robin Hood)
Hannah Rae (Broadchurch)
Stephen Merchant (Logan)
Thea Trinidad (Dorothy and the Witches of Oz)
John Cena (Bumblebee)
Julia Davis (Four Lions)
Kim Matula (Dawn Patrol)

Nick Frost, Lena Headey, and Florence Pugh in Fighting with My Family (2019)In 2002, in Norwich, England, UK, 10-year-old Zak Bevis is engrossed by the WWF (now WWE) King of the Ring pay-per-view event until his younger sister Saraya changes the channel to her favorite program, Charmed. The siblings wrestle, urged on by their parents Rick and Julia. Rick books the children for their first wrestling match where Saraya, initially reluctant to wrestle a boy, goes on to win as planned.Florence Pugh in Fighting with My Family (2019)At 18, competing under the ring name “Britani Knight”, Saraya and her brother “Zak Zodiac” help their parents train prospective wrestlers while working toward their own promotion. Rick and Julia, struggling financially, ask WWE trainer Hutch Morgan to sign the siblings. He finally agrees to a tryout before a SmackDown taping at The O2 Arena, and tells Saraya to find a different name as they “already have a Britani”. The siblings receive advice from Dwayne Johnson, and Saraya adopts the name Paige from her favorite character on Charmed.Jack Lowden and Florence Pugh in Fighting with My Family (2019)The two try out with several other wrestlers and are all belittled by Morgan. He ultimately chooses Paige over the rest, despite her attempt to have Zak signed as well. With her brother’s encouragement, Paige leaves for America while Zak continues wrestling on the British independent circuit, assisting his parents’ wrestling school, and tending to his girlfriend and newborn son.Florence Pugh in Fighting with My Family (2019)Arriving at NXT in Florida, Paige has difficulty adjusting to the WWE style of entertainment – chiefly, the absence of intergender competition and the inexperience of her fellow female trainees Jeri-Lynn, Kirsten, & Maddison. Paige struggles with performing promos and Morgan’s constant belittlement. Morgan makes it clear to Zak that he will never be signed to WWE, and Zak falls into a depression. Paige discovers her parents are selling merchandise of her likeness without her permission and have booked her in a match against Zak scheduled for her Christmas break.Florence Pugh in Fighting with My Family (2019)At an NXT live event and her in-ring debut, Paige is heckled by the crowd and freezes up, leaving the ring in tears. She decides to bleach her hair blonde and spray tan to look more like her fellow trainees, which only causes more friction between them. After failing an obstacle course, Paige lashes out at the trainees for gossiping about her when they were actually discussing Kirsten, who has been away from her daughter in order to give her a better life.Florence Pugh in Fighting with My Family (2019)Morgan tells Paige that her brother’s future in WWE would only have been as enhancement talent and signing would have ruined his life, implying that it did the same to him. Morgan encourages Paige to quit and return to her family for a happier life. She travels home for the Christmas break. Just before the match against her brother, Paige tells Zak she is leaving WWE. Angry that she is giving up the dream he failed to achieve himself, Zak goes off-script, defeats Paige and then tells their parents her plans to quit, devastating Ricky. After the family find Zak in a drunken bar fight, Paige admits that Morgan declined to sign Zak to protect him and he needs to focus on what is important in life; his family and coaching children who look up to him. Paige changes her mind after Zak berates her for giving up on their shared dream, and she returns to Florida, resuming her original hair color and skin tone.Florence Pugh in Fighting with My Family (2019)She drastically improves in training, befriending and encouraging her fellow trainees. Zak returns to training his parents’ students. Morgan brings the trainees to WrestleMania XXX, where Paige is booked in a suite with The Rock and learns she will make her Raw debut the following night against WWE Divas Champion AJ Lee, as recommended by Morgan. Paige makes her Raw debut and again freezes up, but Lee starts the match and unexpectedly puts the Divas Championship on the line. With her family watching on TV, Paige wins the match and the title, finally comfortable enough to say a promo, “This is MY house!”.Florence Pugh in Fighting with My Family (2019)An epilogue explains that Paige remains the youngest Divas Champion and was an early leader in the ongoing Women’s Revolution, that one of Zak’s trainees, who was blind, became a wrestler, and pokes fun at The Rock’s movie career and Rick selling shares in the family business. The closing credits include footage from the family’s 2012 documentary and Paige’s debut match.Florence-Pugh-as-WWE-Superstar-Paige-in-Fighting-With-My-FamilyYou dont need to be a wrestling fan to absolutely adore this movie. Its more of a strong family themed movie and a heroic from nowhere to star sports flick. It has at least a half dozen laugh out loud moments, a few moments of stealthily wiping my watering eyes and the euphoric grand finally.

REVIEW: HACKSAW RIDGE

Starring

Andrew Garfield (The Amazing Spider-Man)
Vince Vaughn (The Internship)
Sam Worthington (Avatar)
Luke Bracey (G.I. Joe: Retaliation)
Hugo Weaving (Mortal Engines)
Ryan Corr (Wolf Creek 2)
Teresa Palmer (Warm Bodies)
Rachel Griffiths (Saving Mr. Banks)
Richard Roxburgh (Mission: Impossible 2)
Luke Pegler (Home and Away)
Richard Pyros (Noise)
Ben Mingay (Home and Away)
Firass Dirani (Power Rangers Mystic Force)
Matt Nable (Arrow)
Robert Morgan (Suburban Mayhem)
Nathaniel Buzolic (The Originals)

Andrew Garfield and Luke Bracey in Hacksaw Ridge (2016)In rural 1920s Virginia, the young Desmond Doss nearly kills his little brother Hal while roughhousing. This event and his Seventh-day Adventist upbringing reinforce Desmond’s belief in the commandment “Thou shalt not kill”. Years later, Doss takes an injured man to the hospital and meets a nurse, Dorothy Schutte. The two strike a romance and Doss tells Dorothy of his interest in medical work. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Doss enlists in the Army to serve as a combat medic. His father Tom, a World War I veteran, is deeply upset by the decision. Before leaving for Fort Jackson, Desmond asks for Dorothy’s hand in marriage and she accepts.Andrew Garfield in Hacksaw Ridge (2016)Doss is placed in basic training under the command of Sergeant Howell. He excels physically, but becomes an outcast among his fellow soldiers for refusing to handle a rifle and train on Saturdays. Howell and Captain Glover attempt to discharge Doss for psychiatric reasons under Section 8 but are overruled, as Doss’ religious beliefs do not constitute mental illness. They subsequently torment Doss by putting him through grueling labor, intending to get Doss to leave of his own accord. Despite being beaten one night by his fellow soldiers, he refuses to identify his attackers and continues training.Andrew Garfield and Teresa Palmer in Hacksaw Ridge (2016)Doss’ unit completes basic training and is released on leave, during which Doss intends to marry Dorothy, but his refusal to carry a firearm leads to an arrest for insubordination. Captain Glover and Dorothy visit Doss in jail and try to convince him to plead guilty so that he can be released without charge, but Doss refuses to compromise his beliefs. At his court-martial Doss pleads not guilty, but before he is sentenced, his father barges into the tribunal with a letter from his former commanding officer (now a brigadier general) stating that his son’s pacifism is protected by the U.S. Constitution. The charges against Doss are dropped, and he and Dorothy are married.Andrew Garfield in Hacksaw Ridge (2016)Doss’ unit is assigned to the 77th Infantry Division and deployed to the Pacific theater. During the Battle of Okinawa, Doss’ unit is informed that they are to relieve the 96th Infantry Division, which was tasked with ascending and securing the Maeda Escarpment (“Hacksaw Ridge”). During the initial fight, with heavy losses on both sides, Doss saves the life of his squadmate Smitty, earning his respect. As the Americans camp for the night, Doss reveals to Smitty that his aversion to holding a firearm stems from nearly shooting his drunken father, who threatened his mother with a gun. Smitty apologizes for doubting his courage, and the two reconcile.Richard Pyros, Ben Mingay, Andrew Garfield, and Goran D. Kleut in Hacksaw Ridge (2016)The next morning, the Japanese launch a massive counterattack and drive the Americans off the escarpment. Smitty is killed, while Howell and several of Doss’ squad mates are left injured on the battlefield. Doss hears the cries of dying soldiers and returns to save them, carrying the wounded to the cliff’s edge and belaying them down by rope, each time praying to save one more. The arrival of dozens of wounded once presumed dead comes as a shock to the rest of the unit below. When day breaks, Doss rescues Howell and the two escape Hacksaw under enemy fire.Andrew Garfield and Teresa Palmer in Hacksaw Ridge (2016)Captain Glover tells Doss that they are scheduled to retake the ridge on Saturday and will not launch the next attack without him. Doss agrees but the operation is delayed until after he concludes his Sabbath prayers. With reinforcements, they turn the tide of battle. After an ambush set by Japanese soldiers feigning surrender, Doss manages to save Glover and others by deflecting enemy grenades. Doss is eventually wounded by a grenade blast, but the battle is won. Doss descends the cliff, clutching the Bible Dorothy gave him.Andrew Garfield in Hacksaw Ridge (2016)The film switches to archival photos and footage showing that Doss was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Harry S. Truman for rescuing 75 soldiers at Hacksaw Ridge. Doss stayed married to Dorothy until her death in 1991. He died on March 23, 2006, at the age of 87.Andrew Garfield in Hacksaw Ridge (2016)Overall, Hacksaw Ridge is a film that will leave audiences in state of emotion that describes the horrors of war, the bravery of Doss and his army and a sense of thankfulness to our past ancestors who had lived in a time to fight for freedom and peace when the world was divided. A

REVIEW: CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME ?

Starring

Melissa McCarthy (Life of The Party)
Richard E. Grant (Logan)
Dolly Wells (I Capture the Castle)
Jane Curtin (3rd RockFrom The Sun)
Ben Falcone (Tammy)
Stephen Spinella (Lincoln)
Anna Deavere Smith (The Kingdom)
Christian Navarro (13 Reasons Why)
Marc Evan Jackson (The Good Place)

Melissa McCarthy in Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018)In 1991, following the critical and commercial failure of her biography of Estée Lauder, author Lee Israel struggles with financial troubles, writer’s block and alcoholism. With her agent unable to secure her an advance for a new book, Israel is forced to sell her possessions to cover expenses, selling a personal letter she received from Katharine Hepburn to local book dealer Anna. While doing this, she re-starts an old friendship with Jack Hock, an openly gay drug dealer.Richard E. Grant and Melissa McCarthy in Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018)While conducting research for a potential Fanny Brice biography, Israel discovers two letters written by Brice, one of which she takes and shows to Anna. Anna gives a low offer due to the letter’s bland content, prompting Israel to return home, add a postscript to the second letter, and bring it back to Anna, who takes the letter for $350. Israel then starts forging and selling further letters by deceased celebrities, incorporating intimate details in an attempt to command higher prices. Anna, who is a fan of Israel’s writing, tries to initiate a romantic relationship but is rebuffed.Richard E. Grant and Melissa McCarthy in Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018)When one of Israel’s letters raises suspicion for its unguarded discussion of Noël Coward’s sexuality, her buyers start blacklisting her. Now unable to sell the forgeries, she has Jack sell the letters for her. She also begins to steal authentic letters from libraries and archives to sell, replacing them with forged duplicates. While Israel is out of town committing one such theft, her elderly cat dies under Jack’s care. She ends their friendship but continues their criminal partnership out of necessity.Melissa McCarthy in Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018)Jack is caught by the FBI while attempting a sale and cooperates with them, resulting in Israel being served with a court summons. She retains a lawyer, who advises her to show contrition by getting a job, doing community service, and joining Alcoholics Anonymous. In court, Israel confesses she enjoyed creating the forged letters and does not regret her actions, but realizes her crimes were not worth it because the forgeries did not show her true self as a writer. She is sentenced to five years’ probation and six months’ house arrest.Melissa McCarthy in Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018)Sometime later, Israel reconciles with Jack, who is now dying of AIDS, and asks his permission to write a memoir about their escapades, to which he agrees. While passing a bookstore, she sees a Dorothy Parker letter she forged on sale for $1900. Disgusted, she writes the store owner a sarcastic note in Parker’s voice. Upon receiving Israel’s note and realizing that the letter in the storefront window is a fake, the owner removes it from the window but changes his mind and decides to keep it on display.Melissa McCarthy in Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018)The film’s postscript reads:

Lee forged and sold approximately 400 letters. Two of Lee’s forgeries were included in Noël Coward’s 2007 biography. They were removed by the second printing. Nora Ephron sent a cease and desist letter to Lee, demanding that she stop impersonating her on the phone. When summoned for jury duty later in life, Lee replied: “I am a convicted felon and thereby ineligible to serve. Who said crime doesn’t pay?” Jack Hock passed away on 10/19/94, having been lovingly looked after by members of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis Center. The New York Times called Lee Israel’s book: CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME? : MEMOIRS OF A LITERARY FORGER a “sordid and pretty damned fabulous book.”Melissa McCarthy and Brandon Scott Jones in Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018)Melissa McCarthy and Richard E Grant are both superb in their roles. McCarthy makes you believe the character was written just for her and Grant plays an excellent British eccentric, again a role that you almost feel no one else could have played. One of the best films of the year.

REVIEW: WHEN THEY SEE US

When They See Us (2019)

Starring

Caleel Harris (Goosebumps 2)
Jovan Adepo (Mother!)
Chris Chalk (Gotham)
Kylie Bunbury (Game Night)
Aunjanue Ellis (The Help)
Vera Farmiga (Bates Motel)
Felicity Huffman (Cake)
John Leguizamo (Kick-Ass 2)
Niecy Nash (Scream Queens)
Michael K. Williams (12 Years a Slave)

When They See Us (2019)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUESTCASY

William Sadler (Iron Man 3)
Aurora Perrineau (Truth or Dare)
Blair Underwood (Agents of SHIELD)
Joshua Jackson (Fringe)
Omar Dorsey (Our House)
Suzzanne Douglas (School of Rock)
Famke Janssen (X-Men)
Christopher Jackson (Moana)
Logan Marshall-Green (Prometheus)
Storm Reid (12 Years a Slave)
Adepero Oduye (Geostorm)
Dascha Polanco (Orange Is The New Black)

Marquis Rodriguez in When They See Us (2019)When They See Us,  premiering on Netflix, is the kind of miniseries you get when the right showrunner assembles the right team and right performers with the unequivocating intent to correct an important story that many people still get wrong. In this case, the celebrated producer, director and screenwriter Ava DuVernay (“Selma”; “Queen Sugar”) takes on the injustice of what happened to the Central Park Five — four African American men and one Hispanic man who, as teenagers, were rounded up, taken to a police precinct office and coerced into saying they brutally assaulted and raped a white woman who was jogging in Central Park one evening in April 1989.When They See Us (2019)There was never any physical evidence that they did. The boys, who ranged in age from 14 to 16, confessed after many hours of coercion, intimidation and threats from detectives; two of the boys were separately urged by their fathers to tell the police what they wanted to hear. In media coverage, the boys were compared to savages who took part in a “wilding” crime spree. The real estate mogul Donald Trump took out newspaper ads to demand their execution. The boys — Korey Wise, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana, Kevin Richardson and Antron McCray — were found guilty on some of the charges in a 1990 trial. They spent between six and 13 years in detention centers and prisons. As everyone ought to know by now, the jogger’s true attacker confessed in 2002 and his DNA matched the physical evidence. A state Supreme Court vacated the Central Park Five’s sentences on the district attorney’s recommendation. As adults, the five men sued the city and finally reached a $41 million settlement in 2014When They See Us (2019)If the next words that occur to you are “Yes, but what about the victim?” (meaning the jogger, Trisha Meili, who wrote a memoir and still publicly expresses her doubt about a lone attacker, as well as her disappointment that the city agreed to a settlement), then it seems you have two options, 30 years later: You can absorb what “When They See Us” is trying to tell you, or you can retreat comfortably back to the open-shut templates of “Law & Order” reruns.When They See Us (2019)Split into four episodes, DuVernay’s approach bluntly but successfully turns this story inside-out, borrowing the look of true-crime dramas while discarding the genre’s usual tropes. It focuses primarily on the boys, their families and the irreparable effects of their jailing. Rather than lionize them, it goes one better and humanizes them. As the title suggests, it’s all about how they were seen, and, by extension, how most minority teenage boys are still often seen — not as children and young citizens, but as potential thugs. The series is deftly attuned to context, portraying a late-’80s New York that seethes with mob mentality when it comes to solving and prosecuting this particular crime — which, to be sure, was both heinous and infuriating. This is a drama about modern lynching; rather than leading to a noose and branch, it follows the Central Park Five on a ruinous trip through a penal system that finds ways to punish inmates even after they’re paroled.SEI_70399735In tone and execution, “When They See Us” fits somewhere between John Ridley’s underwatched ABC anthology “American Crime,” which also subverted the procedural genre in revealing ways, and Ryan Murphy’s FX hit “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story,” which taught viewers a thing or two about the effects of time and context. Without any background primer, the first episode moves quickly through the night of the crime and the days after, beginning with the adolescent lure of watching a group of one’s peers decide, in the moment, to head off to Central Park on a spring evening. The pace and dialogue are not expository, nor do they provide much time to get to know the boys intimately as characters. (That comes later.) The young actors playing the teens (Jharrel Jerome as Korey; Ethan Herisse as Yusef; Caleel Harris as Antron; Asante Blackk as Kevin; Marquis Rodriguez as Raymond) ably convey the confusion and panic of being misidentified, hauled in and falsely accused.la-1559144992-gzayf72d4e-snap-imageFelicity Huffman (talk about timing) plays Linda Fairstein, the newly appointed head of the district attorney’s sex-crimes unit, who arrives at the crime scene not long after an unconscious, nearly dead Meili was discovered. “When They See Us” is unsparing in the way it portrays Fairstein pushing detectives to make the case fit the wilding narrative. You better believe DuVernay is in no mood to re-litigate, build a Wikipedia page or pay lip service to anybody’s doubts. Here, in this telling, the cops are almost always corrupt, Fairstein is menacingly reckless and the prosecutor (Vera Farmiga as Elizabeth Lederer) lucks out in the second episode with a jury willing to convict the boys based on the videotaped confessions alone.WTSU_102_Unit_01838R-1This swift treatment of the crime and the trial allows DuVernay and her co-writers(Robin Swicord, Attica Locke, Yusuf Hassan and Michael Starrbury) to spread their wings in the series’ second half: Once the headlines die down, the boys become men — first languishing behind bars and then, after most of them make parole, trying to put their lives back together. The story of their parents and family (with fine performances from Niecy Nash, John Leguizamo and Michael K. Williams, among others) also begin to take shape. The showstopper comes in the fourth episode, as Korey, who was tried and convicted as an adult rather than as a juvenile, embarks on a violently terrifying, dozen-year journey through the state prison system, which includes a long detour into solitary confinement and a heartbreaking, hallucinatory (yet artfully envisioned) glimpse of his past and present. Jerome, the only actor in the series to play both the teen and adult versions of his character, gives a remarkable performance, as the system beats Korey down to the mental equivalent of rubble and he emerges as an entirely different man. When the news of his freedom comes — and the series reaches its full, swelling sense of the miraculous — the viewer will finally understand his or her part in all this: All that’s being asked of us is to see.

 

REVIEW: THE FAVOURITE

Starring

Olivia Coleman (The Iron Lady)
Emma Stone (Birdman)
Rachel Weisz (The Mummy)
Nicholas Hoult (X-Men: Apocalypse)
Joe Alwyn (Mary Queen of Scots)
Mark Gatiss (Game of Thrones)
James Smith (Boomers)

Rachel Weisz and Olivia Colman in The Favourite (2018)It is 1708, and the recently formed Kingdom of Great Britain is at war with France. Queen Anne is in frail health; she shows little interest in governing, preferring activities such as racing ducks and playing with her 17 rabbits, one for each of the children she has lost. Her confidante, adviser, and furtive lover Sarah Churchill, effectively rules the country through her influence over the Queen. Sarah’s efforts to control Anne are undermined by Robert Harley (who was later created, in May 1711, The 1st Earl of Oxford and Earl Mortimer), the Leader of the Opposition, who, as a landowner, argues against a doubling of property taxes proposed in order to fund the war.Abigail Hill, Sarah’s impoverished younger cousin, arrives in search of employment. Abigail’s standing is tainted by her father, who gambled her away in a game of whist. Abigail is forced to do menial work as a scullery maid in the palace, but, after seeing the Queen’s gout, she forages for herbs and applies them to the Queen’s inflamed legs. Sarah has her whipped for her presumptuousness, but relents and makes her lady of the bedchamber after she realises the herbs have helped the Queen. Harley asks Abigail to spy on Sarah and the Queen, hoping to circumvent Sarah’s authority. Abigail witnesses Sarah and the Queen having sex.Rachel Weisz and Olivia Colman in The Favourite (2018)With Sarah focused on the war effort, Abigail kindles a friendship with Anne, which becomes sexual. Sarah becomes aware of Abigail’s machinations and attempts to have her sent away. Abigail drugs Sarah’s tea, causing her to fall off her horse and be dragged on the ground unconscious. Sarah awakens in a brothel, battered from the fall. Anne, thinking that Sarah has abandoned her to make her jealous, takes Abigail into her favour. She allows her to marry Samuel, 1st Baron Masham, reinstating Abigail’s noble standing.Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone in The Favourite (2018)When Sarah returns to court, she issues an ultimatum to Anne: send Abigail away, or Sarah will disclose her correspondence with Anne that details their sexual relationship. She tells Anne that Abigail does not love her, and merely flatters her. Sarah burns the letters in regret, but Anne sends her away from court. When Abigail, now promoted to Keeper of the Privy Purse, presents what she claims is evidence that Sarah had been embezzling money, Anne exiles Sarah and her husband from Britain.THE FAVOURITEWhile lounging in the Queen’s chamber, Abigail abuses one of Anne’s rabbits by deliberately pressing down on its neck with her shoe. Anne, now very sick, is awakened by the animal’s distress cry. She forces herself out of bed and orders Abigail to massage her legs, as if she were a servant, while gradually bearing down on Abigail’s head with her hand.the-favourite-1200-1200-675-675-crop-000000There are three compelling reasons to see this – Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, and Emma Stone. They go full force into this 18th-century world. Its a wickedly ridiculous and dirty dark comedy that only Yorgos Lanthimos could make with a brilliant whip-smart script by Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara. Weisz vs Stone is a master class in acting, and Colman holds the Crown. Showcasing just how devoted one is for love (or power) but if it is truly worth the cost. If you didn’t like The Lobster or The Killing of a Sacred Deer, you may not like this movie. While it is Yorgos’ most commercial movie yet, it is still very much his style.