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Archives for : Susan Kamyab Stephens

Movie Review: “The Lost Husband” Sparks a Glimmer of Light

All is not lost in the new romantic comedy, starring Leslie Bibb and Josh Duhamel.

Based on the novel by Katherine Center, “The Lost Husband” follows Libby (Bibb), an attractive young woman, who has lost her husband in a tragic car accident. Libby and her two children (Callie Hope Haverda & Roxton Garcia) have been living with her difficult mother (Sharon Lawrence); but when they wear out their welcome, they pack up and head to her aunt Jean’s (Nora Dunn) house.

Jean lives in central Texas on a goat farm with no TV, no Wi-Fi, and no dishwasher. However, she does have an espresso maker! In order to make herself useful, Libby is forced to help out around the house and farm. Luckily, she has the conveniently handsome and single ranch hand, James (Duhamel), to guide her through the process of things.

The relationship between Libby and James is about as predictable as you would imagine. It begins with a dislike for each other. James thinks she’s too much of a city girl and can’t possibly get her hands dirty, and Libby thinks James is a jerk. Well, good thing opposites do attract. The transition from hate to love goes quick. Besides a few bickers here and there, the film doesn’t try to fight off the pair’s instant chemistry for too long. Both Bibb and Duhamel do a great job with their roles and are a fun and charming couple to watch.

The film identifies itself as a “romantic comedy”. Though it is a big element to the story, “The Lost Husband” centers more around Libby’s growth and healing over her husband’s death and mother’s mistreatment. This is not a bad thing, and it’s refreshing that the movie went this route instead of trying to make a Nicholas Sparks knock-off.

The entire cast does a solid job and there’s even a little “Popular”(1999 TV Series) reunion between Bibb and her former co-star Carly Pope that will be nice for fans of the show to see.

There’s just no high risk conflict in this movie. Little issues pop up like a child being bullied, an annoying new friend, and even a “shocking” secret. However, these issues are either resolved quickly, glossed over, or feel very anti-climactic. We never earn our resolution.

You can easily sit back, relax, and watch this mildly dramatic story unfold. Which may be exactly what we all need right now. I point out these flaws of the film not to deter you away, but to better prepare you going in. At no point will you question where the story is headed, but you can still enjoy this smooth ride.

“The Lost Husband” is a heart-warming drama about love and the family/people in our lives who truly bring us up when we’re down.

Rating: 3/5

“The Lost Husband is available to rent On Demand April 10.

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TROLLS WORLD TOUR – Virtual Activity Kit

Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake return in Trolls World Tour, an all-star sequel to DreamWorks Animation’s 2016 musical hit. In an adventure that will take them well beyond what they’ve known before, Poppy (Kendrick) and Branch (Timberlake) discover that they are but one of six different Trolls tribes scattered over six different lands and devoted to six different kinds of music: Funk, Country, Techno, Classical, Pop and Rock. Their world is about to get a lot bigger and a whole lot louder.

A member of hard-rock royalty, Queen Barb (Rachel Bloom), aided by her father King Thrash (Ozzy Osbourne), wants to destroy all other kinds of music to let rock reign supreme. With the fate of the world at stake, Poppy and Branch, along with their friends — Biggie (James Corden), Chenille (Caroline Hjelt), Satin (Aino Jawo), Cooper (Ron Funches) and Guy Diamond (Kunal Nayyar) — set out to visit all the other lands to unify the Trolls in harmony against Barb, who’s looking to upstage them all.

“Trolls World Tour” will be available to watch at home On Demand April 10!
WatchTrolls.com

In the mean time you can download this Troll Party Pack all different Trolls theme activities. https://www.dreamworks.com/downloads/TrollsPartyPack.pdf

Also be sure to check out the “How To Draw A Troll” Tutorial Series below: 

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Movie Review: “Never Rarely Sometimes Always” is a Powerful and Raw Character Study

It’s a tough film to swallow, but it’s an unforgettable watch.

“Never Rarely Sometimes Always” follows Autumn (Sidney Flanigan), a teenage girl from Pennsylvania, who unexpectedly finds herself pregnant. We aren’t sure who knocked her up, but we are sure she does not want to go through with the pregnancy. Unable to tell her mother or her mother’s ass of a boyfriend, she confides in her best friend/ cousin, Skylar (Talia Ryder). From there, the two head to New York on what is supposed to be a mission to take care of Autumn’s situation; but ends up being a journey of discovery and a difficult life lesson.

There is a lot to admire with director/writer Eliza Hittman’s (Beach Rats) third film. For starters, the support from all the women in the movie. They are shown as comforting and caring characters. Autumn’s mom is a bit clueless; but she does love her daughter, and shows a tender side in the brief moments we see her. The female workers at both the clinics Autumn visits, are understanding, non-judgmental, and genuinely try to help the lost young lady. But it’s the bond between Autumn and Skylar that shows a true example of a selfless and giving friendship. Both actresses do a wonderful job in the film, but it’s Flanigan who shines in her debut performance by playing her character with such grace and honesty.

However, the men in this movie are not painted in the same light. They are shown as dismissive, threatening, or perverted. When the girls come across Jasper (Theodore Pellerin) on their bus ride to the city, he appears eager but harmless. Clearly interested in Skylar, she reluctantly gives him her cell number which ends up being a resourceful tool. But as you’d imagine, he’s not as innocent as he seems.

Hittman’s raw and painfully realistic dialogue is what’s so captivating. All of Autumns conversations are incredibly natural. And the emotions hit hard when she’s at her final destination in Brooklyn answering a questionnaire given by the counselor there. She must answer a series of questions relating to her sexual history with the responses of either “never, rarely, sometimes, or always.” Hittman’s screenplay is harrowing and thought-provoking.

There are some burning questions that are left up to interpretation; and the film does drag a bit in the second act, but those are my only qualms.

“Never Rarely Sometimes Always” is not an easy watch, especially during our current ordeal; but it is well worth your time.

Rating: 3.5/5

“Never Rarely Sometimes Always” is available to rent On Demand on April 3 through any of these platforms…Amazon, Apple, Comcast, DirecTV, Vudu, Google/YouTube, Charter, Verizon, Microsoft, Dish, Fandango, Sony, Cox, Altice, Vubiquity, AMC On Demand, Redbox 

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Movie Review: “The Other Lamb” Needs more Meat

Lots of intrigue from the start, only to fall flat in the end. “The Other Lamb” fails to seek it’s full potential.

“The Other Lamb” begins with two young girls eerily sitting by a waterfall. It is clear there is something off with them. When they return home, it is to one man and a bunch of different women; some who may have been conceived out of incest. Michiel Huisman (Game of Thrones) plays the cult leader who goes by Shepard. He has taken in weak and vulnerable women, brought them into a secluded forest to brainwash and isolate them from the modern world. The film follows, Selah (Raffey Cassidy), a young girl who is questioning the Shepard’s teachings.

The only real storyline is Selah’s slow realization that the women’s treatment is not right and what she discovers about her mother’s death. Director Malgorzata Szumowska and writer C.S. McMullen opt to give more of a visual telling over a compelling narrative. This allows the audience to stay interested in the movie, but not invested in the story or its characters.

Though we gain some sort of background from Selah, it’s not enough to really know how she ended up here in the first place? Who was her mother? What led to her meeting the Shepard? How did any of these women get sucked into this warped reality? These questions and much more are left unanswered. The film even shys away from showing the extent of the Shepard’s cruelty. We’re aware of his sexual and violent acts, but being able to witness just one horrendous action would strike more anger and empathy for these women.

However, not all is lost. The cinematography by Michal Englert successfully utilizes graphic shots of mangled animals to parallel Selah’s growing body and her inner conflicts. The film is beautifully shot and at times leads you to believe something bigger is going to happen here.

The film relies too much on it’s visuals and score (Rafael Leloup & Pawel Mykieytn) to make up for it’s lack of content. The performances are decent, but that actors aren’t given enough meat to chew. Cassidy has her moments, but even the talents of Huisman are under utilized.

The slow-burn intensity of “The Other Lamb” mildly entertains, but ultimately leaves you unsatisfied.

Rating: 2.5/5

“The Other Lamb” is available on VOD and other digital platforms on April 3

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Movie Review: “The Hunt”, “The Invisible Man”, & “Emma”

In this time of Pandemic, diversions help keep us sane. Now, more than ever, we need the cinema. But we need a new cinema, a safe cinema, a Shelter-at-Home cinema; and so streaming comes of age. Watch my review of “The Hunt” and recommendations of two other new films available for home viewing now: “The Invisible Man” and “Emma”. Will anyone trade some popcorn for this fine half-roll of paper towels? Anyone?

“The Hunt”, “The Invisible Man”, & “Emma” are available on Amazon, Apple, YouTube, and other various On Demand platforms at a starting price of $19.99.

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Movie Review: “The Hunt” is a Bloody Catch

In 2018, the hilarious political comedy “The Oath” showed audiences how harsh extremist on either side (Conservative or Liberal) can be. The film was about a politically divided family, trying to make it through Thanksgiving. Things got rough quick, and at times, it got violent. But in the new action/horror film, “The Hunt”, they take the violence and politics to a whole new level; while still trying to prove the same point, just not as effectively.

“The Hunt” caused a lot of controversy before it was ever released. It was originally slated to open in theaters last fall, but was halted due to the film’s premise and mass shootings during that time.

The film opens with a group text thread among liberal friends. They make a joke about taking out their anger on “deplorables” during an upcoming hunt at the Manor. The next scene shows a rich group of people on a plane with people they have drugged and stowed away. Soon 12 of them are all spread out, unconscious, and in a field with gags in their mouths. Once they are all awake, they see a big box with various weapons for them to have a fair fight. We eventually find out, these chosen conservatives are being hunted like animals by liberal elitists.

Before anyone gets heated or offended, this thriller has no real insight into politics. It is too afraid to pick a side. Instead they make both the Republicans and Democrats equally dumb, with the exception of two women (Hilary Swank and Becky Gilpin).

The film features a talented all-star cast including Swank, Gilpin, Emma Roberts, Justin Hartley, and Ike Barinholtz. Though everyone adds to the hilarious humor of the film, it’s Swank and Gilpin who steal the show. Gilpin is quietly comical, while impressing with her kickass survival instincts. But it’s her nail-biting showdown with Swank that will have you cringing and cheering. However, the gore is not for the faint of heart. At times, I couldn’t even watch. There’s a bloody, graphic death at every turn.

While the purpose of the film might be lost, the humor and action is easily found. There is a lot of fun to be had with these idiotic characters (on both sides) and the gruesome, sometimes, shocking deaths they experience. It encompasses the same kind of satire and excitement from last year’s “Ready or Not”. Sadly, the premise is not as unique.

Ultimately, “The Hunt” feels like a funny version of “The Purge” films with a role reversal. It’s an entertaining, fast-paced, mindless thriller that provides plenty of laughs and shrieks.

Rating: 3.5/5

“The Hunt” opens in theaters March 13.

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Disney’s FROZEN Presented by Dallas Summer Musicals

Tickets to Disney’s Frozen, The Hit Broadway Musical, Go On Sale Friday, March 6, 2020. The Spectacular New Musical Will Play an Exclusive Four-Week Engagement at the Music Hall at Fair Park June 17 – July 12, 2020

Dallas, TX (March 4, 2020)Dallas Summer Musicals (DSM) and Broadway Across America (BAA) are pleased to announce tickets to Disney’s Frozen will go on sale Friday, March 6, 2020. From the producer of The Lion King and Aladdin, Frozen, the Tony®-nominated Best Musical, will play an exclusive four-week premiere engagement at the Music Hall at Fair Park beginning Wednesday, June 17, 2020, with performances playing through Sunday, July 12, 2020. Opening night is set for Thursday, June 18 at 7:30pm.  

Single tickets for Disney’s Frozen start at $20 (pricing subject to change) and are available at DallasSummerMusicals.org or by phone at 800-982-2787. They can also be purchased in person at the Music Hall at Fair Park Box Office Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Orders for groups of ten (10) or more may be placed by calling (214) 426-4768 or emailing Groups@DallasSummerMusicals.org.

About Frozen

Frozen has joined Disney Theatrical hits The Lion King and Aladdin on tour across North America, and the critics agree, “It’s simply magical!” (LA Daily News). Heralded by The New Yorker as “thrilling” and “genuinely moving,” Frozen has emerged as the biggest hit musical of the last two Broadway seasons, breaking four house records at the legendary St. James Theatre, its New York home where it is currently celebrating its second smash year.

“Disney’s struck gold! Sumptuous sets, gorgeous costumes, and plenty of special effects to wow the audience!” raves the New York Post. “With the magic, the dancing, and all those iconic tunes, Frozen was born to be a stage musical!” exclaims the Evening Standard, and The Telegraph declares, “Frozen will burn up Broadway for years to come!”

In addition to the North American tour and Broadway companies, Frozen’s global footprint will soon expand to include London, Australia, Japan, and Hamburg.

A mysterious secret. A family torn apart. As one sister struggles with being an outsider and harnessing her powers within, the other sets out on a thrilling adventure to bring her family together once again. Both are searching for love, but they’ll learn that to find it they’ll have to look inside themselves first.

Frozen is melting hearts on Broadway and across the country in an all-new production created for the stage by an award-winning team. It features the songs you know and love from the original Oscar®-winning film, plus an expanded score with a dozen new numbers by the film’s songwriters, Oscar winner Kristen Anderson-Lopez and EGOT winner Robert Lopez. Joining them on a creative team that has won a cumulative 16 Tony Awards are Oscar winner Jennifer Lee (book), Tony and Olivier Award winner Michael Grandage (director), and Tony winner Rob Ashford (choreographer).

The design team for Frozen includes scenic and costume design by two-time Tony and Olivier Award winner Christopher Oram, lighting design by six-time Tony Award winner Natasha Katz, sound design by seven-time Tony nominee Peter Hylenski, video design by Tony winner Finn Ross, puppet design by Michael Curry, hair design by David Brian Brown, makeup design by Anne Ford-Coates, and special effects design by Jeremy Chernick.

Two-time Tony Award winner Stephen Oremus is music supervisor and creates vocal, incidental and dance arrangements. He is joined on the music team by Tony nominee Dave Metzger (orchestrations), Chris Montan (executive music producer), David Chase (additional dance arrangements), and Faith Seetoo (music director).

An unforgettable theatrical experience filled with sensational special effects, stunning sets and costumes, and powerhouse performances, Frozen is everything you want in a musical: It’s moving. It’s spectacular. And above all, it’s pure Broadway joy.

Frozen is produced by Disney Theatrical Productions under the direction of Thomas Schumacher.

For information or to register for advance ticket access notifications, visit FrozenTheMusical.com/Tour, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Interview: Jaime Camil & Sandra Echeverría talk “My Boyfriend’s Meds”

Jaime Camil and Sandra Echeverria star in the hilarious new comedy “My Boyfriend’s Meds” (LAS PÍLDORAS DE MI NOVIO). Jess (Echeverria) is a talented marketing executive for an upscale tequila company who is super picky when it comes to dating. She finds something wrong with everyone. That is until she meets Hank (Camil), a charming and handsome mattress store owner. She is convinced she’s finally found Mr. Right and invites Hank on a very important work retreat on a remote island. Only problem, Hank hasn’t told Jess about all of his medical issues. This could be an easy secret to hide for a little while, but when he forgets all his medications his symptoms begin show.

I sat down with Jaime Camil and Sandra Echeverria to discuss presenting the “best” version of yourself at the start of your relationship, the music that calms them, what type of drink they are, what they use to think were dating deal breakers and much more. This was a conversation I did not want to end.

Listen to the full interview below and be sure to watch “My Boyfriend’s Meds” when it opens in theaters nationwide February 21st.

Sandra Echeverria (left), Susan Stephens (middle), Jaime Camil (right)
Interview: Jaime Camil and Sandra Echeverria talk “My Boyfriend’s Meds”

Movie Review: “Birds of Prey”

Margot Robbie was such a stand-out in Suicide Squad that a follow-up movie just had to be made. Now, it’s here: Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey. Based on DC Comics band of anti-superheroines, the film might just be the best so far from the DC Extended Universe.

“Birds of Prey” is in theaters now!

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Predicting the Winners: 92nd Academy Awards

Best Supporting Actor

Tom Hanks, Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Anthony Hopkins, The Two Popes

Al Pacino, The Irishman

Joe Pesci, The Irishman

Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Will Win: Brad Pitt

Could Win: No Contest

Want to Win: Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Kathy Bates, Richard Jewell

Laura Dern, Marriage Story

Scarlett Johansson, Jojo Rabbit

Florence Pugh, Little Women

Margot Robbie, Bombshell

Will Win: Laura Dern, Marriage Story

Could Win: Florence Pugh, Little Women

Want to Win: Florence Pugh, Little Women

Achievement in Costume Design

The Irishman

Jojo Rabbit

Joker

Little Women

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Will Win: Little Women

Could Win: Jojo Rabbit

Want to Win: Little Women

Achievement in Sound Mixing

Ad Astra

Ford v Ferrari

Joker

1917

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Will Win: 1917

Could Win: Ford v Ferrari

Want to Win: 1917

Achievement in Sound Editing

Ford v Ferrari

Joker

1917

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Will Win: 1917

Could Win: Ford v Ferrari

Want to Win: 1917

Best Original Score

Joker

Little Women

Marriage Story

1917

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Will Win: Joker

Could Win: Little Women

Want to Win: Joker

Best Animated Short Film

Dcera (Daughter)

Hair Love

Kitbull

Memorable

Sister

Will Win: Hair Love

Could Win: Kitbull

Want to Win: Hair Love

Best Live Action Short

Brotherhood

Nefta Football Club

The Neighbors’ Window

Saria

A Sister

Will Win: The Neighbor’s Window

Could Win: Saria

Want to Win: The Neighbor’s Window

Best Documentary Feature

American Factory

The Cave

The Edge of Democracy

For Sama

Honeyland

Will Win: American Factory

Could Win: Honeyland

Want to Win: American Factory

Best Documentary Short Subject

In the Absence

Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone

Life Overtakes Me

St. Louis Superman

Walk Run Cha-Cha

Will Win: Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone

Could Win: St. Louis Superman

Want to Win: Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone

Best International Feature Film

Corpus Christi

Honeyland

Les Miserables

Pain and Glory

Parasite

Will Win: Parasite

Could Win: No Contest

Want to Win: Parasite

Achievement in Production Design

The Irishman

Jojo Rabbit

1917

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Parasite

Will Win: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Could Win: 1917

Want to Win: Jojo Rabbit

Achievement in Film Editing

Ford v Ferrari

The Irishman

Jojo Rabbit

Joker

Parasite

Will Win: Parasite

Could Win: Ford v Ferrari

Want to Win: Jojo Rabbit

Achievement in Cinematography

The Irishman

Joker

The Lighthouse

1917

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Will Win: 1917

Could Win: The Lighthouse

Want to Win: 1917

Achievement in Visual Effects

1917

Avengers: Endgame

The Irishman

The Lion King

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Will Win: Avengers: Endgame

Could Win: 1917

Want to Win: Avengers: Endgame

Achievement in Makeup & Hairstyling

Bombshell

Joker

Judy

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

1917

Will Win: Bombshell

Could Win: Joker

Want to Win: Bombshell

Best Animated Feature

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

I Lost My Body

Klaus

Missing Link

Toy Story 4

Will Win: Toy Story 4

Could Win: Missing Link

Want to Win: How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

Best Original Song

“I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away,” Toy Story

“I’m Gonna Love Me Again,” Rocketman

“I’m Standing With You,” Breakthrough

“Into the Unknown,” Frozen II

“Stand Up,” Harriet

Will Win: “I’m Gonna Love Me Again”, Rocketman

Could Win: No Contest

Want to Win: “Into the Unknown”, Frozen II

Best Adapted Screenplay

The Irishman

Jojo Rabbit

Joker

Little Women

The Two Popes

Will Win: Jojo Rabbit

Could Win: Little Women

Want to Win: Jojo Rabbit or Little Women

Best Actor

Antonio Banderas, Pain and Glory

Leonardo DiCaprio, Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

Adam Driver, Marriage Story

Joaquin Phoenix, Joker

Jonathan Pryce, The Two Popes

Will Win: Joaquin Phoenix, Joker

Could Win: No Contest

Want to Win: Joaquin Phoenix or Adam Driver

Best Original Screenplay

Knives Out

Marriage Story

1917

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Parasite

Will Win: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Could Win: Parasite

Want to Win: Marriage Story

Best Actress

Cynthia Erivo, Harriet

Scarlett Johansson, Marriage Story

Saoirse Ronan, Little Women

Charlize Theron, Bombshell

Renee Zellweger, Judy

Will Win: Renee Zellweger, Judy

Could Win: No Contest

Want to Win: Saoirse Ronan, Little Women

Best Director

Bong Joon Ho, Parasite

Sam Mendes, 1917

Todd Phillips, Joker

Martin Scorsese, The Irishman

Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Will Win: Sam Mendes, 1917

Could Win: Bong Joon Ho, Parasite

Want to Win: Sam Mendes or Bong Joon Ho

Best Picture

Ford v Ferrari

The Irishman

Jojo Rabbit

Joker

Little Women

Marriage Story

1917

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

Parasite

Will Win: Parasite

Could Win: 1917

Want to Win: Jojo Rabbit

The 92nd Academy Awards ceremony, presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, will honor the best films of 2019 and will take place at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on February 9, 2020.