FlixChatter Review: The Last Letter from Your Lover (2021)

Romantic dramas based on a book are a dime a dozen in Hollywood, and this one is based on Jojo Moyes‘s 2012 romance novel of the same name. To be honest, I’m not that familiar with her work but I remember her other novel Me Before You was also made into a movie, which I have yet to see. 

The film features a pair of interwoven stories, set in the past and present with its own set of romantic pairing. In 1965 London, there’s the wealthy and gorgeous young couple, Jennifer and Lawrence Stirling (Shailene Woodley + Joe Alwyn).

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Lawrence is a successful industrialist and the two seem like a match made in heaven, except their marriage is cold and distant. There’s a scar on Jennifer’s face and it’s slowly revealed she’s been in a car accident that causes her to have Amnesia. Meanwhile, journalist Ellie Haworth (Felicity Jones) is awake in a man’s bed and despite him appearing interested in her, she made a dash out the door after calling him by the wrong name, twice. We’re supposed to think of her as a modern, independent woman with a blasé attitude about love and romance. Yet, when she stumbles upon a trove of secret love letters from the 60s during work research, she is immediately intrigued and wants to solve the mystery of this love affair.

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I must admit I have a thing for letters in movies… there’s something so enchanting about hand-written correspondence in the digital era. Letter writing is pretty much a lost art as people often make or break relationships via text these days. One day, a journalist named Anthony O’Hare (Callum Turner) turns up at the Stirling’s luxurious resort in the South of France on assignment to interview Lawrence. When he’s called away on business, as he often is, Jennifer and Anthony immediately formed a bond. Of course it’s no surprise that the initial friendship turns to romance, and Anthony asks Jennifer to run away with him to New York and leave her loveless marriage of convenience behind. As the Bard said in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, “the course of true love never did run smooth” … such is the case between these star-crossed lovers that make up the A + J in the letters.

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Director Augustine Frizzell does her best in balancing the parallel storyline, which is a tricky task, but I feel like the constant back and forth between the two stories could’ve been smoother. That’s not the biggest issue for me though, but more in the chemistry, or should I say lack thereof, between the two couples. It’s crucial in a love story like this to be invested in the couple that make up the romance. Alas, the relationships of all involved feel superficial and lacking serious heat, despite the film packing ALL the quintessential romantic setting. Alluring European location, check. Christmas-y scenery with fluffy snowfalls, check. Hand touching/kissing in the rain, check. It sure is beautiful visually, but at the end of the day, it’s the genuine human connection that makes any film memorable.

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I wonder if the casting is the issue. Right from the trailer, I was already skeptical about Turner’s casting and he didn’t exactly prove me wrong. Strangely enough, though Woodley is younger than both Turner AND Alwyn, she looks much more mature in the film, not sure if it’s the makeup or her outfits, but perhaps just the way she carries herself. Both Turner and Alwyn look more like frat-boys that it’s hard for me to take seriously. I think generally speaking the female performers out-acted the male ones by a long stretch here.

The pairing of Jones and Nabhaan Rizwan fares a bit better though. Again it’s no surprise that Ellie forms a bond with Rory, the sweet and polite chap working at the Archives department who’s helping her with the letter investigation Now, it’s not that they have a scorching chemistry, but their tentative romance feels more endearing perhaps because there’s less riding on their romance being all-consuming passion like the one between A & J. I do give the casting director props for finding suitable mature actors to play the older Anthony and Jennifer (Ben Cross and Diana Kent), which works quite well in the brief moment they appear on screen.

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Now, I haven’t read the book so I can’t say if this is a faithful adaptation. There isn’t much depth in the film version, but I have a feeling there’s more complexity in the book that we don’t see. Apart from the fact that Lawrence is constantly traveling, he is not a horrible husband per se, but we’re expected to think what Jennifer does to him is justified. There’s even less we know about Ellie and Rory, and for someone who seemingly doesn’t care much about love and romance, Ellie sure goes out of her way to act the opposite.

The Last Letter From Your Lover is such a romantic title that immediately conjures up thoughts of a swoon-worthy affair. Unfortunately the actual movie is less swoon-inducing but more melodramatic and formulaic. I suppose this is a decent movie to pass the time on a slow Saturday afternoon, but far from being a romance classic. As far as films dealing with infidelity goes, best to just rent Brief Encounter that’s guaranteed to leave you breathless.

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Have you seen The Last Letter from Your Lover? Let me know what YOU think.

7 Favorite Roles of Helen Mirren to Celebrate Her Birthday

Today we celebrate the birthday of one of my favorite British Dames! She was born in July 26, 1945 in Hammersmith, London. She got her start in her acting career with the Royal Shakespeare Company. The Oscar-winning actress has had an illustrious career with over 130 credits under her belt spanning over 6 decades, that’s not even counting her various theatrical work which garner her Laurence Olivier Theatre Award and Tony nominations. She is one of the 10 actresses I’d watch in just about ANYTHING … I mean, I even enjoyed her in silly action flicks like Fast Saga and RED. Well, I hope she gets to do more interesting roles all the way to her sunset years.

Before I get to her fave roles, are a few interesting facts about Dame Mirren (Source: Factinate, 10 Facts About)

    • Her father had Russian aristocratic roots, and she was actually born Illiana Lydia Petrovna Mironova
    • Mirren has frequently spoken about her choice not to have children, saying that “I never felt the need for a child and never felt the loss of it. . .I’d always put my work before anything.”

    • Mirren has played a queen six different times over her career. Most notable was her turn as Queen Elizabeth II in 2006 in The Queen, for which she won an Oscar, a Golden Globe, a BAFTA, and a SAG Award. Queen Elizabeth II herself has stated that The Queen was one of her favorite films of that year.

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    • Mirren and Liam Neeson met when they both starred in the 1980 film Excalibur, and ended up dating for four years. Neeson confessed to being “smitten” with Mirren the first time he saw her in her Morgan le Fay costume. The relationship eventually ended when Mirren, seven years his senior, encouraged him to leave the proverbial nest and find his own path in Hollywood. One year after her split with Neeson, she met her future husband, director Taylor Hackford.

      Here’s an amusing reunion on Graham Norton you’ve just got to watch:

    • Mirren is known to have a rebellious streak. When on a visit to a Native American reservation located in Minnesota, on a whim she got a star tattoo made on her left hand.

    • The TV series Frasier was known for having famous voices call into Dr. Crane’s radio show, and Mirren was no exception. She was a caller on a 2004 episode called “Coots and Ladders,” and played a character named Babette.

Now, speaking of her film roles, here are seven of my favorite roles she’s done so far:

The Queen

It’s her most famous role where she practically swept every single award that year, deservedly so. It’s one of my favorite Best Actress Oscar winners and reportedly even the real Queen Elizabeth herself liked her performance! It was more than just her spot-on physical transformation, facial expression, voice delivery, but her emotional delivery makes the performance iconic.

Eye in the Sky

I saw this film because who could resist Dame Mirren AND Alan Rickman in the same film! If you like cerebral war thrillers with a great cast, well then I highly recommend this one. Dame Mirren is convincing as a conflicted military officer who had to navigate through such maddening protocols and bureaucracy in times of war. 

The Good Liar

Now, this one is another thriller that’s worth a watch for the dynamic duo of Dame Mirren and Sir Ian McKellen. They’re truly the reason to see this film that misses from being truly great due to the script/direction being uneven. I love how the two British thespian who are masters of their craft play opposite each other, and as my pal Vince said in his review, the first two thirds of the movie is a slow burn of calculated intensity.

The Debt

Wow, can’t believe it’s been over a decade since I saw this Nazi-themed thriller, but I remember really enjoying it and I saw it primarily for Dame Mirren who’s billed as the lead. She truly carried the film though it’s got a pretty good supporting cast including Jessica Chastain and Tom Wilkinson. She even got to speak a bit of Russian in the beginning, though she actually doesn’t speak the language of her native heritage.

Hitchcock

This is an intriguing film for fans of Hitchcock as it’s set during the making of Psycho. The film showcases the relationship between one of the most influential filmmakers of the last century (played by Anthony Hopkins) and his wife Alma Reville (Helen Mirren). Though Hopkins is the lead, Dame Mirren is the main reason to see it for me. I love all the scenes Alma is in, especially the part where she passionately gave her husband a piece of her mind during a heated argument.

The Last Station

Yet another period piece where Dame Mirren played a prominent character in a celebrated male artistic icon. As Countess Sofya Andreevna Tolstoy, Leo Tolstoy’s muse, she sizzles once again played opposite another prominent British thespian Christopher Plummer. The story centers on Tolstoy’s struggle to balance fame and wealth with his commitment to a life devoid of material things. I just love her energy, vulnerability and spunk in this role and no doubt the emotional core of the story.

 

Woman In Gold

Last but not least, this is another WWII-themed drama with Dame Mirren as Maria Altmann, an octogenarian Jewish refugee whose family artwork was one of the plethora Jewish artwork plundered by the Nazis during the war. Mirren is perfectly cast as someone with the strength and determination to take on the Austrian government to get back what’s rightfully hers. In my review from 2015, I said I didn’t really care for Ryan Reynolds‘ casting, though in hindsight he’s actually ok in this movie. The star of the film is definitely Dame Mirren, with strong supporting performances from Tatiana Maslany as her younger character and Antje Traue who played her aunt during the war, oh and there’s also Daniel Brühl who’s terrific in everything.

 


So what are some of YOUR favorite HELEN MIRREN’s cinematic roles?

The Wheel of Time – 5 Things to Know Before the Series Arrives this Fall

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Hey, FlixChatter readers, Laura here! I got home about a week ago from a long weekend in Atlanta, where I attended JordanCon, a fantasy convention centered around author Robert Jordan‘s Wheel of Time series. I’d never gone before this one, but I really wanted to attend this year, since it would be the last one before the TV adaptation drops on Amazon Prime.

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While we don’t have a trailer or exact release date yet, show-runner Rafe Judkins said on the virtual SDCC panel that the first season will drop in November. So here are a few important things to know before the show arrives:

1. There is no brief way for me to describe the plot.

The Wheel of Time is made up of 14 books and a prequel published between 1990-2013, and they are long; the paperbacks average 826 pages each, and there are 2,782 named characters in the series. All this to say there is no concise way for me to summarize the story, but I’ll try my best to explain how it starts, since the first season is supposed to be a combination of the first two books: when a mysterious woman named Moiraine (Rosamund Pike) and man named Lan (Daniel Henney) arrive in the small farm town of Emond’s Field, 5 young men and women’s lives are changed forever as they are swept up in an epic journey. I know that’s vague, but it is literally the best I can do without going into too much detail. 

2. It’s not “the next Game of Thrones.

Several media outlets have already compared The Wheel of Time to the HBO hit based on George R.R. Martin’s famous book series, and while I kind of understand their reasoning, I’m worried it will give folks who haven’t read the books the wrong impression. Those comparing the two properties might be trying to say it will be the next hugely successful TV fantasy series, and obviously we all hope that’s the case, but plot- and theme-wise, I don’t think it’s accurate to compare them. Firstly, Wheel of Time is a lot more straightforward fantasy than Game of Thrones was. Yes, Game of Thrones has dragons and ice zombies, but most of the focus was on the politics. Wheel of Time leans a lot more heavily into the magical aspect of the world. Secondly, the tone is a lot different. Obviously I can’t say what the show’s tone will be like, but the books at least aren’t nearly as dark and gritty as Game of Thrones, and I doubt the show will be either.

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3. This isn’t the first TV adaptation of The Wheel of Time.

Back in 2015, Red Eagle Entertainment released a “pilot” (it’s referred to as a mini movie on IMDB) based on the prologue from the first book in the series in order to prevent the rights from reverting back to Robert Jordan’s estate. It aired on FXX  late at night (we’re talking cheesy infomercial air times). It was a greedy, lazy move that was made without consulting Harriet McDougal, Jordan’s widow and editor, and to this day it is derided and mocked. You can actually watch the whole thing on YouTube, but it’s pretty awful, and it doesn’t give you any idea what the source material is actually like, so I’d recommend just watching Recappa Sedai‘s reaction video to it on YouTube instead, because it’s hilarious and much more entertaining. 

4. The cast is very diverse.

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Back in 2019, Amazon started sharing casting announcements for the show, and several of the main characters- specifically Madeline Madden as Egwene, Zoë Robins as Nynaeve, and Marcus Rutherford as Perrin- are people of color. While many were thrilled with the casting, there was, of course, an unfortunate racist backlash on social media, especially on Facebook, from whiny fans complaining that the characters were written as white (they weren’t, at least not explicitly) and that this was all just an attempt at “political correctness,” among other, much nastier comments.

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Honestly, I could write a very heated essay on this whole section, but to keep things concise, I’m just going to mention a few excellent points brought up in a JordanCon panel on race in the series:

  • There are 78 characters in the books whose skin color is described as something other than pale.
  • Robert Jordan was a historian and had a military background, so it’s easy to assume he built a world where people would look different.
  • He mixed and matched cultures and skin colors throughout the book, so trying to attribute skin colors to characters is kind of silly.
  • Writers often only describe skin colors other than white, making white the “default,” which shouldn’t be the case.

5. The fandom is amazing.

On our first night in JordanCon, one of the attendees told us on that the people there were some of the best he’d ever met. At the time, it sounded like a bold statement, but less than 24 hours into the convention, I could tell he wasn’t exaggerating. Wheel of Time fans are some of the warmest, friendliest, most welcoming people I have ever met. Are you someone who has read the series multiple times? Great! They’ll want to chat with you about it for hours. Are you just starting the first book? Awesome! They’re excited for you to begin that journey and want to hear your thoughts along the way. While some book purists are worried the show will bring in fans who don’t care enough about the source material, most are just happy to have new blood in the community, people who get to experience the story through a different medium and hopefully gain an interest and appreciation for the books over time. So if you end up liking the show, get involved in the fan communities, especially #TwitterOfTime, where I’ve met so many lovely people (several of whom I actually got to meet in person at JordanCon). I promise will be welcomed with open arms.

Check out some of the photos Laura took at JordanCon:

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Are there any book fans who want potential watchers of the show to know going into it? Let me know in the comments! 

 

 

FlixChatter Review: LOVE SARAH

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We all have our comfort food, whether home-cooked or high sugar/carb variety, we can always rely on to console or uplift you. Same with comfort movies, something guaranteed to have high feel-good content to make you feel all warm and fuzzy. Well, LOVE SARAH is the kind of sweet, poignant drama that can be described as my kind of comfort movies… and in this case, the sweetness also comes in the form of all those scrumptious baked goods featured in the film!

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You know the saying how ‘an end can also be a beginning’… well, this movie starts off with a tragic loss that affects three different women. A friend, a daughter and a mother all mourn the loss of the title character. There’s the friend, Isabella (Shelley Conn) who has been waiting in front of what’s supposed to be the new space of their new bakery on the day Sarah dies in a bicycle accident. Then there’s Sarah’s mother Mimi (Celia Imrie) who’s in the middle of writing a letter when she hears the door bell rings with two policemen standing outside. Meanwhile, her daughter Clarissa (Shannon Tarbet) comes home from a dance rehearsal only to be dumped by her boyfriend, leading her to crash at the now-empty would-be bakery and later staying with her grandmother.

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It’s while she was staying with her grandma Mimi that Clarissa comes up with the idea to fulfill her dead mother’s dream of opening her own bakery. Despite Clarissa’s unbridled enthusiasm, Isabella is reluctant to start it up again… understandably so, given how devastating it was to see their original plan just shattered to pieces when her best friend passed. Mimi somehow agrees to fund the venture, so voila! the Notting Hill bakery is born. They even enlisted a Michelin-star-winning chef Matthew (Rupert Penry-Jones), an old classmate of Sarah and Isabella in culinary school.

I was immediately charmed by this movie, directed by Eliza Schroeder who’s credited with the story though its screenplay is credited to Jake Brunger. Now, the film has a certain dream-like quality, but it’s realistic enough to depict the reality of a new enterprise. People weren’t exactly lining up to get a piece of the delectable concoction featured on the store window on their first week, which means they have to get creative. For a film about a bakery, they sure don’t skimp on the scrumptious, drool-worthy treats.

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It got even more mouth-watering when Mimi proposed to transform their bakery to feature desserts from all over the world. Inspired by a delivery man from a Baltic region, she realizes the fact that London is such a big multi-cultural city filled with immigrants from various nations. Soon the bakery became the place where non-English residents can feel a little bit at home while enjoying their favorite treats from their home country. What a splendid idea, it made me wish there were a similar bakery like this exist near me! I love the baking process as Isabella and Matthew constantly learn how to create intricate desserts from places like Lisbon, Australia, Denmark, Japan, etc.

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I know that inclusivity and diversity in movies is on the rise and while that’s a wonderful thing, I also dread it when we’re hit over the head with it. Thankfully the celebration of different cultures here feels organic and natural with the worldwide baked goods practically are characters in themselves in the movie. Speaking of characters, I also love the cast! Celia Imrie and Rupert Penry-Jones are perhaps the most known to US audiences and they’re both memorable here, but I love Shelley Conn as a romantic lead. The romance between Isabella and Matthew might be predictable but they such a palpable chemistry. I also love how the entire ensemble mesh well together and effortlessly makes you root for them and this project.

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Love Sarah is a love letter to anyone who’s ever had a big dream or lost someone dear… it’s also a heartfelt story about second chances that should be relatable to anyone. I feel like it’s been ages since I’ve seen a good rom-com, plus the setting in one of my favorite European city always makes me feel warm and fuzzy. It might not be quite as witty nor bewitching as Richard Curtis’ movies, but it’s certainly got loads of charm and soothing quality that wins me over. I would’ve happily seen this on the big screen had this been released in US cinemas, but since it’s on HULU, I’m glad I can always revisit it.

3.5/5 Reels


Have you seen LOVE SARAH? I’d love to hear what you think!

This Just In! Ridley Scott’s THE LAST DUEL trailer

Oohhh, what have we here? It’s been a while since I heard news about this medieval drama directed by Ridley Scott. Production was delayed in the Spring of 2020 due to what else, the Coronavirus pandemic. What’s most notable about it is that it features the reunion of Oscar-winning BFFs Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, both as screenwriters AND co-stars.

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Nicole Holofcener is also credited for writing the script, she’s too was Oscar-nominated for her screenplay Can You Ever Forgive Me? in 2019. Billed as a historical drama, the story is based on The Last Duel: A True Story of Trial by Combat in Medieval France, a 2004 book by American author Eric Jager which chronicles the last officially recognized judicial duel fought in France.

Full synopsis:

In 14th-century France, Marguerite de Thibouville claims she’s been raped by her husband’s best friend Jacques Le Gris. Her husband, knight Jean de Carrouges challenges his friend and squire, to trial by combat. It is the last legally sanctioned duel in France’s history.

It’s surely tough being a woman in the Middle Ages where as one female character puts it ‘The truth does not matter, there’s only the power of men.’ So for Marguerite to come forward with such a despicable accusation, she is also risking her own life as if her husband lost the duel, she would have been burned at the stake as punishment for her false accusation.

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I’m a big fan of period pieces, so this is SO right up my alley. Of course given the huge-budget for Hollywood epics, star power matter more than historical accuracy, hence not a single French actor (or even French-speaking ones) in the main cast. Apparently Damon and Affleck were supposed to play the duelist Jean and Jacques, but Adam Driver ended up being cast in Affleck’s role because of scheduling conflict with his commitment to Adrian Lyne‘s Deep Water. That would’ve been a boon for the marketing department as the two lead characters were former best-friends-turned-enemies. They also have matching bad-movie-hairstyle here, complete with bleached blond hair and… Medieval mullets? New hair memes beckons!

I LOVE Jodie Comer since Killing Eve and I also loved her in The White Princess as Elizabeth of York, so this is certainly isn’t her first foray into historical dramas. ’tis also the year for long-haired Adam Driver and I’m SO here for it!! I’m seeing ANNETTE next week (wahoo!!) and for sure I’ll be seeing this on the big screen later this Fall! In fact, he’ll have TWO films coming out this Fall that’s both directed by Ridley-Scott, the other one is the highly-anticipated House Of Gucci

The unstoppable 84-year-old British filmmaker is no stranger to historical epics, apparently his directorial debut The Duellists (1977) is also a duel between two people that’s also set in France. His longtime collaborator Dariusz Wolsk (Prometheus, The Counselor, The Martian) is back as cinematographer. The visuals look appropriately dirty, gritty and dark, a la Gladiator and Robin Hood, with filming locations include France and Ireland.

The Last Duel opens in theaters nationwide on October 15.


What do you think of the trailer? 

FlixChatter Review – Gunpowder Milkshake (2021)

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The John Wick films has started a new trend in Hollywood action films. Gone are the awful shaky cam, fast editing and up-close shots during action scenes. Now we get to see careful and well-choreographed hand-to-hand combat and shootout scenes. I definitely prefer this new style of action sequences since I can’t stand the shaky cam/fast editing style of the 2000s. The downside of this new trend is that many the recent action films seem to look the same and it gets kind of boring when most action films start to imitate one another. The newest John Wick clone is called Gunpowder Milkshake from Netflix.

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Sam (Karen Gillan) is a super assassin working for an underworld organization called The Firm. On her new mission, her boss Nathan (Paul Giamatti) tasked her with retrieving money that was stolen from The Firm by an ex-employee. But the mission goes awry when she shoots the ex-employee, discovering that he needs the money to rescue his kidnapped daughter, Emily (Chloe Coleman) from some nasty men. Making things even more complicated is that on her previous mission, Sam accidentally killed the only son of The Firm’s competitor, McAlester (Ralph Ineson). McAlester wants Sam’s head and orders his men to hunt her down. So, to avoid a full out war with another powerful firm, Nathan decided to betray Sam and let McAlester and his men take her out.

Of course, Sam won’t go down without a fight since she decided to take Emily under her wings and will need help from her mom Scarlet (Lena Headey), who abandon her when she was very young. Also, along for the ride are Scarlet’s old friends Anna May (Angela Bassett), Florence (Michelle Yeoh), and Mathilde (Carla Gugino). Now the women must use all of their skills to defend themselves against the army of McAlester’s men and also aiming to take down The Firm.

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The script is credited to Ehud Lavski and Navot Papushado, the latter also directed the picture. The story is pretty straightforward, sprinkle in some female empowerment theme and a little bit of parent and child reconciliation. It’s nothing that hasn’t been done before in other action films, but I did think they should’ve beefed up the villain role. We get a little bit of sense that McAlester is a nasty individual, but we don’t really get to see his true nature. Papushado decided to give the film a comic book style and included some fun action sequences including a car chase in parking ramp and fight/shootout scene in a clinic. Since it’s a John Wick clone, the action scenes were quite brutal, so you’ll see heads gets blown off and limps gets torn apart.

I enjoyed all the performances by the main veteran actors but the one really standout performance belongs to the young and adorable Chloe Coleman. She’s the only innocence person in the entire film and the good guys will do everything to protect her. Gillan whose 5’11 frame is very believable as an action hero and she looked to have a fun time here beating up several men and shoots them in the head. The more senior ladies also looked like they had a great time doing complex fight scenes and shootouts. While he might be on the screen for only a few minutes, Giamatti was also good the caring father figure type but also a business man who has to protect The Firm at all cost. The only disappointment here is Ineson, he’s supposed to be this over-the-top villain but he’s hardly in the movie and by the time he gets to do his evil speech to our hero, it wasn’t that impressive.

Overall, this is a fun action film that will remind you of the John Wick films. If you like those films then you’ll have good time with this one.

3.5/5 Reels

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So have you seen GUNPOWDER MILKSHAKE? Well, what did you think?

Interview with filmmakers of ‘The Groomsman’ comedy series – Now Available Online!

Hello readers, Ruth here! Welcome to another interview edition of MN-made comedy series The Groomsman, featuring two Minnesota filmmakers, Nick Hansen (writer/director/actor) and two producers Lindsey Kolar Martinson and Anne Hansen (who also co-wrote the script).

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The Groomsman is a rom-com about the perpetual groomsman. We’ve all seen movies about the perpetual bridesmaid…always the bridesmaid, never the bride… well this time it’s told from the male perspective just as he finally finds the woman of his dreams.

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Check out the trailer:

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Episode 1 of The Groomsman is now streaming on Hieronyvision or HV for short, a subscription-based space with content by indie artists.

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Lindsey + Nick at the Zinema Duluth, MN at a screening event for The Groomsman

Interview with director/co-writer/
star Nick Hansen

Q: First, can you tell me what The Groomsman is about?

Nick: Will Knight is the perpetual Groomsman. He has been in all of his friends and family’s weddings, over 15 of them. He has always been The Groomsman, and never the Groom. He has finally met the woman of his dreams, Courtney, and now he just has to propose. And that is where we pick up our story.

Q: I’m always intrigued by what creative people are inspired by. How did you came up with the idea for the series?

Nick: I went through a period of being a groomsman in a ton of weddings and Lindsey Kolar Martinson is my cousin and she was at a lot of those weddings. Eventually we started writing down all kinds of ideas about a possible movie or tv show involving weddings. We talked about it for about five years and then finally saw our opportunity to make it and teamed up with my mom Anne Hansen and talented filmmakers and crew from the Institute of Production and Recording and actors from the Twin Cities and went to work.

Q: Why did you decide on a tv series format vs a feature? Was the original idea always been a serialized storytelling?

Nick: We decided to make it a tv pilot because we originally made it to submit to the Catalyst TV Festival. Making a twenty-four minute tv pilot was a tremendous amount of work but was more manageable then an entire feature. Eventually, we came to realize that it works better as a pilot and we are looking forward to making more episodes.

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Anne, Nick + Lindsey at the Catalyst TV Festival, Duluth MN

Q: Tell me a bit about your character Will Knight, how much of your own persona is depicted in his portrayal? 

Nick: I don’t think much of my own persona is depicted in the portrayal but I think the one thing we have in common is looking for love, and that’s universal, and I believe that’s what the audience has been connecting with.

Q: What do you like most about playing Will? Who are your comedic/ dramatic inspirations?

Nick:I had a phenomenal time playing Will, I usually get cast as a drug dealer, or bad cop, or someone on the edge in some way, so it was amazing to play an average guy trying to make his way through the day and find love. Ultimately, I feel like the audience connected with this character more then any other because of the relatability. My comedic inspirations are Dick Van Dyke and Jim Carrey and my dramatic inspiration is Kate Winslet.

Nick on the set of The Groomsman
Nick on the set of The Groomsman

Q: As a writer/producer/actor, what’s been the most challenging part about making this pilot happen?

Nick: The most challenging part about this one is that we decided to start filming in early april and it was due to the Catalyst Festival I think on June 1 or July 1 of 2019 so it was a very compressed timeline-this made it exhilirating, but certainly stressful at times!

Q: I always enjoy filmmaking trivia, can you share a particularly memorable bts snafu that you can still laugh about today?

Nick: This is actually quite sad, but we filmed a scene at Lola’s on the Lake, the restaurant and gathering area on Bde Maka Ska in Minneapolis. It was an amazing location and we were happy to film there, but it burned down about a week later in a terrible fire. Hopefully it will be re-built and when we are through this pandemic it will be returned to it’s former glory.

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Will wooing Courtney in Episode 1


Interview with producer
Lindsey Martinson

Q: When did you come on board as a producer? Did Nick pitch you the idea or were you involved from its inception?

Lindsey: I was involved since inception!! However, our idea was for The Groomsman as a feature. I was on vacation in Florida when I got a call from Nick and Anne pitching The Groomsman as a tv pilot and they would like to start ASAP since we would have a tight deadline to enter into the Catalyst festival. I was happily onboard with the idea!

LindLindsey on the set of The Groomsman
Lindsey (with the clapper board) on the set of The Groomsman

Q: How’s your own profession as a small business owner prepare you to do this producing role?

Lindsey: I feel as a business professional I had many strengths to bring to the table as a producer. Due to my work background I am very organized, work well under pressure, I can easily figure out logistics of a day for scheduling and have the foresight to know when different tasks need to get done to move us to the next step. I also work well with others and am able to adapt to most situations.

Q: What did you enjoy most about working on The Groomsman and what’s the toughest part?

Lindsey: What I enjoyed most was working with my cousin Nick and Aunt Anne. They are both so talented and I felt so grateful to be apart of the team. We created memories I will never forget.

The toughest part for me was having to let go of not having some of the scenes be as perfect as I wanted. I quickly learned there is a lot that goes into shooting the scenes and can’t just be easily redone if you don’t like what you get on the first shoot being that you only have access to the actors and locations for limited amounts of time.

Q: Does this experience make you want to make more tv/movies

Lindsey: This answer is easy. YES! The whole time I was thinking why I am not doing this for my career. I love the work as a producer! I felt it was very challenging and exciting. I did have the best mentor..my cousin Nick who paved the way. I learned a lot from him!!

Q: What’s your fave shows and actors?

Lindsey: Too hard to pick just one! I love Friends. I think the writers are brilliant! I have seen all of the episodes so many times it’s always just as funny as the last time I watched it. On a whole other genre I love Peaky Blinders and would love to create something similar. I love the cinematography, the music, the actors…I just think it’s the coolest show! I also love Vikings and Game of Thrones!!

Q: What’s next for The Groomsman?

Lindsey: We are working on episode 2! We feel people want to continue watching Will Knight…will he ever find love?

Nick and his co-star Gabrielle Arrowsmith on set
Nick and his co-star Gabrielle Arrowsmith (Courtney) on set


Brief note from producer/
co-writer Anne Hansen

I am Nick’s mother and Lindsey’s aunt. I’ve been involved from the beginning! Since Nick made his first feature film in college, I have been involved in many of his filmmaking endeavors in various ways. The Groomsman was my first time, though, as an official producer and writer. Lindsey, Nick, and I have been compiling lists for years about ideas for The Groomsman. We had always planned to make it into a feature length film, but never found the time. When we finally decided to make it into a television pilot, we were off and running with it immediately.

The Groomsman is definitely a family affair. Working with Lindsey and Nick is a dream come true. Nick is the artist and Lindsey and I are pragmatic perfectionists. We make a fantastic team!

Click to see a larger version of the photo


The filmmakers are editing episode 2 now and will be filming episode 3 this summer!

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