All posts by Kenna

Jackie: Official Trailer

Directed by Pablo Larraín, Jackie is another look at the Kennedy tragedy. How many times can Hollywood tell this story? Which angle of the lens are we seeing the Kennedy lineage this time? Fortunately, Natalie Portman is playing the role of Jackie Onassis Kennedy. It appears in this trailer that we will, once again, relive one of the most important and tragic moments in American history.

The movie follows First Lady, then Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy and places us in her world during the days immediately following her husband’s assassination. Known for her extraordinary dignity and poise, here we see a spiritual portrait of the First Lady as she struggles to maintain her husband’s legacy and the world of “Camelot” that they created and loved so well.

Jackie nabbed several Independent Spirit Awards nominations for Best Feature, Best Director, Best Editing, and Best Female Lead (Portman).

Lo and Behold: Reveries of The Connected World

loandbeholdDirected by Werner Herzog, Oscar-nominated documentarian, Lo and Behold: Reveries of The Connected World chronicles the virtual world from its origins to its outermost reaches, exploring the digital landscape with the same curiosity and imagination Herzog does with all his movies.

In his other movies like Lo and Behold, Herzog set his camera on destinations as disparate as the Amazon, the Sahara, the South Pole and the Australian outback. Now, he leads us on a journey through a series of provocative conversations that reveal the ways in which the online world has transformed how virtually everything in the real world works – from business to education, space travel to healthcare, and the very heart of how society conducts our personal relationships.

Lo and Behold: Reveries of The Connected World features interviews with well-known internet pioneers and visionaries including Bob Kahn (Co-Inventor of Transmission Control Protocol and the Internet Protocol), Elon Musk (Founder and CEO of SpaceX) and Kevin Mitnick (Hacker, Author and Computer Security Consultant).

The movie holds a tremendous amount of intellect and honesty. Herzog’s calculation about the future of the Internet is eye-opening if not kind of daunting. The Internet is only 25 years old with nothing ever like it before in human history. Society has become very dependent on our technological advances. As a result, society would be lost without it.  If a lasting interruption happened today, saying chaos would ensue is being gentle. Most people would not be able to survive. Then, there would be those that do survive, but not on the strata they do now. The movie says billions would succumb, which is scary to imagine – life without the Internet and other technologies.

All in all, the movie’s message is something society needs to know. But, the flow of the movie is a bit disjointed with the pros and cons of the internet being presented in a way that lacked uniformity. I got lost a few times where is seemed like Herzog threw out ideas that were unrelated but important.

The Hunger Games 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack

3d_rgb_hungergames4kultraocrd Lionsgate released the epic singularity franchise, The Hunger Games series on 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack, which includes both Blu-ray and Digital HD. All in all, it is an amazing product for such a gripping story.

As most remember, Jennifer Lawrence stars as Katniss Everdeen, the girl on fire, who took the world by storm with a four-film cumulative worldwide box office of 3 billion cash flow.

Fans can see the movies with four times the resolution of Full HD and High Dynamic Range (HDR) that delivers the brightest, most vivid and realistic color and greatest contrast from 4K Ultra HD.  However, similar to other 4K movies I have reviewed, the whole movie’s vivid, realistic color and contrast are not consistent. I find in the hand-held camera scenes of these 4K movies, the technical potential is limited, if not a bit shaky.

Don’t get me wrong. Checking out Lionsgate’s catalog 4K titles, I am impressed with the products so far. It makes watching movies at home so much better with the Dolby Atmos track sounds, which are incredible because it utilizes every speaker.

Now the quality of the look is a bit unforgiving because the effect is over the top.  Noticeably, in the first half of The Hunger Games. The colors are saturated and nearly grainy.  Watching the scene when the District 12 team is eating before the games is a good example where the colors, black levels, and overall clarity are below standards for the quality hype.

Disappointingly, just about every scene at The Capital looked saturated. When the movie arrives at the Games, I was impressed and in awe over the rich details of the overall setting in the forest and the way everything looked pristine.  It made watching the 4K version worth it.

One thing that didn’t help the 4K, as mentioned earlier, was the shaky-cam style.  In the first mad dash for supplies in the games, the camera was all over the place and the 4K clearness was like a second thought to the scene.  Even though about half the movies technical quality didn’t appear any better, if slightly worse, the other half of the movie is a pristine, vibrant upgrade and fun to watch.

The 4K version special features offer extras, which includes a commentary with Stephen Mirrione, Sheena Duggal, and Lon Bender. Even though they are not the stars or director, their passion for the movie come through, creating a worthwhile commentary.

3d_rgb_hgcatchingfire4kultraocrdDirected by Francis Lawrence, Catching Fire 4K

Ultra HD had the same technical issues I mentioned in The Hunger Games 4K Ultra HD.  The scenes in the training room and outside are clear and pristine like a gemstone. The crystal clear and the 4K upgrade really stands out.  Yet, the scenes in The Capitol, mostly most CGI, are saturated and almost blurry at times.  I noticed there is a bit more of an upgrade compared to The Hunger Games. I am curious as to why that is so.

The audio sounds perfect like the first film. The Dolby Atmos track is a wonderful upgrade and sounds faultless.

The 4K Ultra comes without exclusive features, but the package includes a copy of the Blu-ray.

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Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party Giveaway

hillarysamerHillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party takes a rich peek into America’s future as Dinesh D’Souza, a leading voice in the conservative movement, uncovers the truth of what a country lead by the Democrats will look like if Hillary were President.

With an unprecedented election coming up, this detailed look at the Democrats’ agenda is practically essential viewing. D’Souza is well-known for agitating the film industry with the $33 million earned by his Obama 2016 film.

Bestselling author and influential filmmaker, Dinesh D’Souza reveals the sordid truth about Hillary Clinton and the secret history of the Democratic Party. This important and controversial film was released at a critical time leading up to the 2016 Presidential campaign and challenge the state of American politics. The film is his response to relentless Democratic attacks on Republicans as racist, greedy, and their cold-hearted attitude toward minority concerns.

The movie follows D’Souza as he researches the history and methods of the Democratic party. He indicates records showing Democratic President Andrew Jackson’s expulsion of the Indians to reservations in the 1830s was opposed by Republican congressman Davy Crockett.  Other documents included northern Democrats were key players to slavery’s survival in the pre–Civil War era. The Democrats at the federal level after the war voted against civil rights for blacks. They lost that battle in congress but managed to enforce Jim Crow laws, the former practice of segregating black people in the US, particularly in the South.

There are more records and more evidence that proves the Democrats did block civil rights throughout history such as the 1964 Civil Rights act.

The Hillary’s America includes special features like extended and deleted scenes, along with extended interviews.

Movie Roar has three copies of this controversial film in DVD format to giveaway. You can post your name in the comments and consider yourself in the drawing for the winners.

The Last King

the-last-king_rgb-3d-blurayThe Last King, directed by Oscar-nominated director Nils Gaup, follows an arduous and awe-inspiring journey through the snow-covered Norwegian mountains. Starring Jakob Oftebro and Kristofer Hivju (Game of Thrones), surprisingly, the movie turned out to be a great adventure story. With some awesome downhill, to die for, skiing stunts, so exhilarating. I totally enjoyed it.  The story has everything from action and drama to love and revenge.

The fact that this movie is based on true events intrigued me even more. It takes place in 1204 when the Norway had been in the middle of a civil war for decades because of a battle for the throne between the Norwegian King Håkon, son of legendary King Sverre of Norway, and the Church’s Bishop henchmen.

The King, on his deathbed after falling ill from a failed coup, soon welcomes a son, born in secrecy, with a woman named Inga of Varteig and that he is the heir to the throne. Yet, half the Kingdom wants the baby dead.

To shield their newborn King from those looking to end the family bloodline, two Birch Leg warriors, Torstein, played by Hivju, and Skjervald, played by Oftebro, make the arduous journey across the snow-covered terrain to return him and his mother safely to the kingdom.

For the life of me, I didn’t know what a “Birch Leg” was until I saw this movie. The birkebeinerne or “Birch Legs” (basically are the King’s men) who fought to protect him from the Baglers, an opposing party, supporting the Bishop of course, that wanted him dead and his bloodline ended.

The movie is not English and has subtitles, but after ten minutes into the movie. I didn’t notice the subtitles. The story captured my attention with the time period and the culture. The realistic battles and beautiful scenery of snow-covered trees and mountains and the Northern Lights filmed by Peter Mokrosinski stimulated my interest in finding out if the baby King will make it back and save the country.

With that, the history of this story is amazing because of what this baby represented for Norway. The movie is about the fierce fight that saved the life of the young child who was heir to the throne. He eventually ascended at the age of 13 and reigned for 46 years. It was a peaceful reign that united the country.

Games of Thrones fans will be happy to view this movie because both Oftebro and Hivju are believable warriors. They have a strong bond and also hold a strong sense of honor in protecting the baby. The rest of the cast complemented the story and made it richer in content. It’s a gem of a movie and worth watching.

Satanic

satanic_rgb-dvd-frontSatanic, directed by Jeffrey G. Hunt, the movie starts off with a group of college coeds driving in a van visiting old Satanic Panic-era sites in Los Angeles. They end up following the creepy owner of an occult store home, only to find themselves saving a suspicious girl from an apparent human sacrifice. Only this so-called victim turns out to be much more dangerous than the cult from which she escaped.

The movie is a super-low-budget horror movie with “From The Producers of The Walking Dead” on the DVD cover, which saved the movie from coming across rather boring and poorly filmed. The story doesn’t start until 40 minutes into the film with the characters about as interesting as playdough.

The movie stars Sarah Hyland (Modern Family), Steven Krueger (The Originals), Justin Chon (Twilight), Sophia Dalah (Unbroken) and Clara Mamet (The Neighbors).  Hunt has directed some TV shows like CSI and Scorpion, but he is pretty much a Steadicam operator or assistant director, which is the bulk of his experience. Remember that when you watch this movie.

The story follows four college students. Before taking a road trip to Coachella, the group checks into the Flower Hotel, the scene of Lainey Gore’s gruesome suicide in homage to Satan himself, for their own satanic tour in the City of Angels.

The thrill seekers visit the site of the infamous Manson murders and an unnerving satanic store, leading the group to mistakenly interrupt a cult’s sacrifice of a girl named Alice. Ultimately allowing her to break free, the travelers soon begin to question her innocence as she has an unsettling admiration for the spirit of Lainey Gore.

Truly, nothing much happens in the movie with the exception of a suicide and much of the horrific stuff is off-camera.  The repercussions of the horrifying elements are all that is shown. Horror movie fans will without a doubt be interested in seeing this movie until they reach end and notice how many unique ways Hyland can scream. The drawing of the pentagrams, five-star mystic and magical symbol, on the wall is really not that scary.

Sunset Song

sunsetsongSunset Song, directed by Terence Davies, follows Chris Guthrie, played steadily by Agyness Deyn, beginning with her in school, where she and her classmates are struggling in a French language class. Soon she meanders along as we get know her family, clearly, a struggle with her beloved mom, played heart-wrenchingly by Daniela Nardini, and her grumpy dad, played solidly by Peter Mullan.

Patently, her mother is not in a nurturing relationship, and her father is abusive with her and his eldest son, Will, played to the hilt by Jack Greenlees. Will longs to leave home because he is fed up with being abused and bossed around by his dad.  The movie meanders more with beautiful scenes of the Scottish land while Chris suffers through hardships. But, she is strong and gets through each poignant moment because the land she lives on never oppressions her and is always there supporting her no matter what tragedy she goes through.

Having Scottish decedents, I wanted to see this movie set in Scotland during the turn of the century and in the shadow of World War I. Sunset Song is the coming of age story of Chris as we follow her through personal hardships. Eventually, Chris is left alone to tend to the family farm and fend for herself against their abusive father, who eventually dies. Believing she finally found happiness, Chris marries Ewan, played intuitively by Kevin Guthrie, who enlists in the army to fight in The Great War, leaving Chris to tend to the family farm by herself. Ewan returns on leave and the brief reunion is not romantic but coarse and hard to bear. Yet, Chris stays strong and tends the farm after Ewan goes back to the front lines in France.

A tale of steadfast resilience in the face of overwhelming adversity. Yet, the meandering feel of the movie is the irony to the story. Such tranquility in the land but harsh injustice in society. Davies direction pulls it off well.

With cinematography by Michael McDonough, the movie looks more than just visually appealing from start to finish. McDonough captures the tone and era along with the heartache and loss of The Great War.

The movie is based on one of Scotland’s most cherished and notable novels in the last century.  A look at six years in the life of a peasant farm family before and just after the bloodshed of World War I. Life was severe, markedly for the women, who had no control over their destiny. The movie is worth seeing if you want an honest Scottish story that wanders incrementally from hardship to hardship.  The dialogue is totally Scottish, so switch on the English subtitles if it bothers you or just set back and enjoy the movie.

First Monday in May

firstmondayFirst Monday in May, directed by Andrew Rossi, is an experience I thoroughly enjoyed because I have never been a woman of fashion. It is nice to get a rare peek at the behind-the-scenes of the ultra-exclusive Met Gala.

I have produced videos with fashion experts, which is all fine and good, but this movie is unique because it centers on the celebrated event taking place annually at New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

Rossi is a Yale graduate, who has been nominated for an Emmy, his door opener is the documentary Page One: Inside The New York Times.  His latest movie proves to be a fashion film not meant to be missed, follow Andrew Bolton and Gala co-chair and Vogue editor-in-chief, Anna Wintour during the crucial eight months before the show’s debut, as they travel from New York to Paris to Beijing to build support for their daring endeavor.

Revealing a fascinating look at the creation of The Met’s “China: Through the Looking Glass” exhibition, an exploration of Chinese-inspired Western fashions, the film explores how the gala continues to inspire high fashion, art, and culture. Diving into the debate of whether to view fashion as art, the documentary focuses on the creativity of fashion and brings it to life.

Rossi speaks with renowned creators including filmmaker Wong Kar-Wai as well as preeminent fashion designers Karl Lagerfeld, Jean Paul Gaultier, Guo Pei and John Galliano. They all offer a unique look at the relationship between art, craft, and commerce.

The epic fundraiser raises enough money to operate the Metropolitan Museum of Art for an entire year. In the documentary, we see Hollywood celebrities galore including Kate Hudson, George Clooney, Julianne Moore, Jennifer Lawrence, Gong Li, and Lady Gaga. Then, there are Alicia Keyes, Kim Kardashian, Kanye West, Justin Bieber, Michael Bloomberg and Rihanna, who literally brings down the house with a stunning live performance.

Do I recommend First Monday in May? Yes. Rossi dives into the debate about whether fashion should be viewed as art, which I find very intriguing because I know nothing about fashion. I only recently became interested when I started working with fashion consultants in video productions.

 

The Ones Below

3d_rgb_theonesbelow_brwrpThe Ones Below, written and directed by David Farr, is an intense psychological thriller. The movie features really good acting and the suspense keeps the movie flowing intensely. The movie stars Clémence Poés, best known for playing Fleur in Harry Potter, David Morrissey, Stephen Campbell Moore and Laura Birn. The British movie is really intense and ideal for those who appreciate a thriller with gripping fear.

Expecting their first child, Kate, believably played by Poésy, and Justin, played by Moore, become friendly with their new neighbors, Jon, played by Morrissey, and Theresa, played by Birn, who are also expecting, in the downstairs apartment. With the undertones, there is a sense that something is dreadfully off and threatening about the new downstairs neighbors. Things take a turn after a dinner party upstairs and the new neighbors start to show sinister intentions towards Kate and Justin after an unfortunate tragedy strikes. The relationship turns threatening, leaving the couple fearful for their well-being. With an ending that twists around and leaves an unsettling feeling of despair, this psychological battle with the tenants in the apartment downstairs continuously keeps the tension and tone of the movie at a high level.

Farr, the screenwriter for both Hanna and The Night Manager, make his directorial debut with this movie. He did a fine job of crafting a dark, modern fable in which the lives of two couples become fatally intertwined. Kate and Justin live in the upstairs flat of a London house. Thirty-something, successful and affluent, they are expecting their first baby. Everything appears well on the surface though Kate harbors deep-rooted fears about her fitness to be a mother and her ability to love her child.

One day, another couple, Jon and Theresa move into the empty apartment below. They are also expecting a baby and, in stark contrast to Kate, Theresa is full of joy at the prospect of imminent motherhood. Pregnancy brings the women together in a blossoming friendship as Kate becomes entranced by Theresa’s unquestioning celebration of her family-to-be. Everything changes one night at a dinner party in Kate and Justin’s flat. Kate begins to sense that all is not as it seems with the couple below. Then a tragic accident throws the couples into a nightmare and a reign of psychological terror begins.

Keep in mind, The Ones Below is a dark movie and stays that way to the end.

Snoopy, Come Home

snoopycmehomI visited the Schulz museum in Santa Rosa, California for my daughter’s sake, thinking I would be bored out of my head. Boy, was I wrong, I discovered Charles Schulz, the genius who created a series of Peanuts comic strips that voiced the current social conflicts of the time and still today. Women rights, pray in schools, draft, and war. Growing up, I did read the comic strip without realizing he was bringing up social issues. As a young girl, I marveled at the expressions and characters of each personality. I watched the television specials with my family falling in love with Snoopy.

Watching Snoopy, Come Home brought memories back during the nights I’d watch the Peanuts specials with my family. I am still in love with Snoopy because he is so innocent yet creative. In this Peanuts movie, the story is quite good. It begins with him running off to visit Lila, his original owner, who is in the hospital. Woodstock goes with him, but they are captured by a rather overbearing girl who demands Snoopy and Woodstock be her pets.

Being clever the two escape, which includes some very funny and misplaced steps of amusement. Back at Charlie Brown’s home, he is concerned with finding out about Lila. Who is she? I will not share the ending of the movie, but I will tell you that it is so much fun to watch Snoopy get into many mishaps as he tries to sneak into places where dogs are not allowed.

The movie is tried and true, and now released on Blu-ray. The new format adds more of a sparkle with a widescreen format. Keep in mind parents, that the going away party for Snoopy might be a tearjerker for the kids or trouble understanding why people are so sad at a party. Still, the humor is fun to watch and offers great laughs.