Tag Archives: jennifer lawrence

DARK PHOENIX (2019) – My rating: 8/10

Dark Phoenix is a superhero film based on the Marvel Comics X-Men characters, produced by 20th Century Fox and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. It is the twelfth installment in the X-Men film series, a direct sequel to X-Men: Apocalypse (2016) and the seventh and final installment in the main X-Men series. Dark Phoenix is written and directed by Simon Kinberg. In Dark Phoenix, the X-Men must face the full power of the Phoenix after a mission in space goes wrong. Being the last of the X-Men series, I wasn’t sure I wanted the experience to end.  The “Dark Phoenix” film was decent but I think Kinberg has gotten a couple of things incorrect.

**** SOME SPOILERS BELOW ****

In 1975, eight-year-old Jean Grey (Summer Fontana) inadvertently uses her telekinesis to cause a car accident that kills her parents. Shortly afterwards, Professor Charles Xavier/Professor X (James McAvoy) takes her to Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, where he mentally blocks the accident from her memories and helps her hone her psychic abilities.
In 1992, the X-Men respond to a distress signal from the space shuttle Endeavour, which is critically damaged by a solar flare-like energy. While the X-Men save all the astronauts who are on the space shuttle, an all grown up Jean/Phoenix (Sophie Turner) is stranded and struck by the energy, however, she absorbs all of it into her body in order to save the X-Men’s aircraft from destruction. While Jean survives the event, her psychic powers are greatly embellished as a result. At the same time, Jean’s mental block, placed by Xavier, is destroyed. While the mutants are celebrating their successful rescue at Xavier’s school, Jean accidentally attacks the mutants after having a mental breakdown, then passing out. Eventually, Jean’s breakdown leads her to travel to the mutant refugee island of Genosha to seek assistance from Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto (Michael Fassbender) in controlling her powers, but is turned away by Erik after she engages in combat with U.S. military forces tasked with her arrest.

For the remainder of Dark Phoenix, we are privy to all that makes Professor Charles and Jean Grey tick, leading up to her rise as the Phoenix.  The film goes from dark to light to dark and so on and so on.  During Jean’s confusion and adventurous search to find and control herself, we get to see and enjoy other mutants at their best as they try to stop Jean from destroying everything  around her.  There are some earth shattering events that take place during Dark Phoenix, so be prepared for significant changes.  I’m not sure why these changes were made, I only know that they make a huge difference to the whole X-Men saga.  From deaths of favorites to name changes, you will be surprised.  Due to some of the more violent occurrences, I’m not sure I favor what has become of Jean Grey. For one, I don’t know why this is the last installment of  X-Men in the main series (whatever that means) because I think they have some explaining to do.  Hopefully, another X-Men will be made and some of the more upsetting situations will be fixed.  The film was entertaining, the plot was decent and the acting was brilliant.  In my opinion, Dark Phoenix was not the best of the X-Men but still entertaining.  FYI: The film was dedicated to the memory of X-Men co-creator Stan Lee, who passed away on November 12, 2018. Check It Out!

 

RED SPARROW (2017) – My rating: 8.3/10

Red Sparrow is a Spy thriller directed by Francis Lawrence and written by Justin Haythe, based on the 2013 novel of the same name by Jason Matthews. It tells the story of a Russian intelligence officer who is sent to make contact with a CIA agent in the hope of discovering the identity of a mole. Red Sparrow is a pretty sexy movie that implies, Russians will do anything to achieve their goals.  I thought Red Sparrow was well done.

In modern-day Russia, Dominika Egorova (Jennifer Lawrence) is a famed Russian ballerina who supports her ill mother. Following a career-ending injury, Dominika is approached by her uncle, Ivan Vladimirovich Egorov (Matthias Schoenaerts), who works in Russian Intelligence. Because of the accident she suffered, Dominika is no longer able to dance and is out of work.  Ivan convinces her to do a job which tasks her with seducing Dimitry Ustinov (Kristof Konrad), a Russian gangster, in exchange for her mother’s continued medical care. As Ustinov rapes her, he is killed by Sergei Matorin (Sebastian Hülk), a Russian operative and torture expert.  Ivan then offers Dominika a choice to begin working for Russian Intelligence, or be executed so there are no witnesses to the murder of Ustinov, which he ordered.

— SPOILERS BELOW —

Nate Nash (Joel Edgerton) is a CIA operative working in Moscow. While meeting with an asset in Gorky Park, they are confronted by the police. Nash creates a diversion to ensure his asset, a mole in Russian ranks, code-named Marble, escapes detection. Nash is reassigned back to the US but insists that he is the only individual whom Marble will work with. Since he cannot return to Russia, he is assigned to Budapest, where he will regain contact with Marble.

Dominika begins training to become a Russian operative, known as a ‘Sparrow’, capable of seducing her targets. Dominika excels in her training, despite some friction with her trainers, and she is assigned to Budapest. Russian SVR has been tracking Nash, hoping to find out the identity of Marble. Dominika’s assignment is to gain the trust of Nash, and reveal his contact.

Upon her arrival in Budapest, Dominika lives with Marta Yelenova (Thekla Reuten), another Sparrow. Her boss in Budapest is Maxim Volontov (Douglas Hodge). Dominika quickly makes contact with Nash, who correctly determines that she is a Russian Intelligence operative. Dominika reveals her true identity to him, as well as her motive to find out Marble’s identity. While Marta is out, Dominika inspects her room, and realizes that she is working to gather information from Stephanie Boucher (Mary Louise-Parker), chief of staff for a US Senator. Dominika also realizes she needs more time, and claims to her uncle that she is helping in Marta’s effort to gather information from Boucher. Upon returning home one day, Dominika finds Marta brutally tortured and murdered. Matorin reveals that he carried out the murder as a warning not to betray Russian secrets.

From this point, there is much more action as well as twist and turns.  Additionally, Jeremy Irons is in the cast and Dominika turns out to be a very clever young lady, capable of taking her new found position to many levels.  The plot thickens and so does the intensity.  There’s violence and explicit sexy scenes that are appropriate to what’s going on in the moment.  Red Sparrow is not suited for children. I mention this because I saw a dad with his young child in the audience.  I wanted to say something but I knew better.  Red Sparrow was brilliantly acted. Jennifer’s Russian accent was a little shaky at times, almost absent, but was convincing enough that it didn’t take away from the film.  I enjoyed the movie and recommend it to adults who would enjoy a pretty good adventurous spy flick.  Check it out!

 

MOTHER! (2017) – My rating: 5.5/10

Mother is a demonic horror story written and directed by Darren Aronofsky.  I really dislike horror movies, especially demonic horror movies but I watched this one to settle a dispute about the subject matter.  Jennifer Lawrence stated the following:   the film is an allegory: “It depicts the rape and torment of Mother Earth … I represent Mother Earth; Javier, whose character is a poet, represents a form of God, a creator; Michelle Pfeiffer is an Eve to Ed Harris’s Adam, there’s Cain and Abel and the setting sometimes resembles the Garden of Eden.”

Instead of GOD, I saw Lucifer. Instead of just Cain and Abel, I also  saw Jacob and Esau.  I didn’t see Adam or Eve, as the Devil only interacted with Eve, then Eve with Adam, in Mother the opposite took place.  I have no thoughts on Mother Earth and I saw no beauty in their home or wallpaper that would reflect the Garden of Eden. In fact, I found the whole analogy insulting.

Mother opens in a house that has recently been burned by fire, Him (Javier Bardem), an acclaimed author struggling with severe writer’s block, places a crystal object in a pedestal. Upon placement of the crystal object, the house transforms to suddenly look newly renovated, while in a bed, mother (Jennifer Lawrence) is ‘formed’ magically and wakes up, wondering aloud where Him is. She starts seeing questionable visions around the house that are unsettling, including visualizing a beating heart within the walls.

One day, man (Ed Harris) shows up at the house, asking for a room. Him happily agrees while Mother reluctantly follows suit. During his stay, Man experiences prolonged coughing fits and Mother catches a glimpse of a fresh wound by his rib area before her husband covers it with his hand. The following day, Man’s wife, woman (Michelle Pfeiffer), arrives, expecting to stay as well. Mother is annoyed with her guests, while Him begs her to let them stay, telling Mother that the guests are fans of his work and that the male guest is dying, and wanted to meet Him. However, when Man and Woman accidentally break and shatter the crystallized object, Mother decides to kick them out.

Before leaving, Man and Woman’s two sons arrive and start to fight over the will their father left. The oldest son (Domhnall Gleeson), who will be left with nothing, mortally injures his younger brother (Brian Gleeson), and flees, while Him, Man, and Woman take the injured son to get help. Upon returning, Him informs Mother that the son has died. Dozens of people begin arriving at the house for a wake for the dead son. More people arrive, and behave in a way that bothers Mother; she becomes angrier and eventually snaps when they flood the house. She kicks everyone out. Angry with Him for allowing so many people into the house for his own pleasure and ignoring her, she berates him before the two have sex.

The next morning, Mother announces that she is pregnant. The news leaves Him elated and inspires him to finish his work. A few months later, Mother prepares for the arrival of their child and reads Him’s newest piece, which is so beautiful it drives her to tears. Upon publication, it immediately sells out every copy. In celebration, Mother prepares dinner for him when a group of fans arrives at the house. As she barricades herself in her home, more fans arrive and begin to enter the house to use the bathroom. Their behavior devolves into stealing their belongings as keepsakes, and disrupting the environment. An increasingly disoriented Mother makes her way around the house as each room devolves into chaos.

At this point, you’re either hating or loving this deranged movie.  It’s confusing, and unclear as to why Him is allowing this madness to occur.  Things are heating up and the scenes that follow are nothing less than despicable.  The second set of so-called-fans make the previous set look like angels.  Mother ends up giving birth in all the chaos.  The military arrives, rituals begin, the house is destroyed and the unthinkable happens.  There is no rhyme or reason to this film, except a mixture of evil vs innocence and naivete.  You’ll meet the ending with a mixture of anger, frustration, confusion and horror.  Mother puts senseless killing, and poor judgement in a place it shouldn’t be and allows us to take a look at a darkness that not only scares us but brands us helpless.  Not a good place.  Not a good movie.  I’m surprised at all the stars that consented to participate in this story of pure evil.  Not a good feeling, not a good time to share.  See Mother at your own risk!

NOTES:  Aronofsky said that the title’s exclamation mark “reflects the spirit of the film” and corresponds to an “exclamation point” of the ending. The director discussed the film’s unusual capitalization in a Reddit AMA, saying, “To find out why there’s a lowercase ‘m’, read the credits and look for the letter that isn’t capitalised. Ask yourself what’s another name for this character?” The characters’ names are all shown in lowercase, except for Him.

The lighter which appears throughout the film bears the Wendehorn, a symbol believed to represent “the cooperation between nature’s eternal laws, working in effect and in accordance with each other.” One of the film’s unexplained elements is the yellow powder Lawrence’s character drinks, which The Daily Beast suggests is a reference to Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s short story “The Yellow Wallpaper”.

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PASSENGERS (2016) – My rating: 8.5/10

passengersThere’s no doubt in my mind, Jennifer Lawrence will go down as one of the greatest actresses of all time.  She can make a crap script look good.  Not that Passengers is a bad script, it was actually quite good.  She made it look even better.  The story was different and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Over 5,000 people, they call colonists, signed up to journey to a new planet called Homestead II, which is 120 years away.  They are being transported by the Starship Avalon, to start a new life.  That means, new family, new friends, new planet, new rules, new beginning.  What a concept.  In my opinion, that would be nice if you were not bringing the same old you with the same old baggage.  You know the old but true saying, where ever you go, there you are.  Anyway, the technology on this fascinating, well constructed vessel is suppose to be flawless.  Everyone, including the crew, are programmed to stay asleep in hibernation pods for 118 years.  No one is suppose to wake up until the 118th year of the trip.  Of course that’s not what happened, or else there would be no movie.

1 passenger named Jim Preston, (Chris Pratt) due to a malfunction, was awakened after 30 years, which was 88 years too soon (The plan was to awaken everyone 2 years prior to reaching Homestead II).  There are no other active humans (awake) on the vessel to help and any messages you might want to send out will take something like 29 years or more to reach anyone.  Anything could happen under these circumstances, why would anyone want to box themselves into such a corner?  This is just my take on the whole idea.  I’m not sure I see the benefit in this but I’m sure someone might.  I guess if your life is scrap or the world, as you know it, is scrap, you might go for it.  In Passengers, the current world had become over crowded.   The real catch here is that once awakened, you could not be put back to sleep.  So now what?  There are a few things you might do but would these things be feasible, acceptable or even moral?  After a year of isolation, with no company except Arthur (Michael Sheen), an android bartender, Jim, despondent, contemplates suicide. One day he notices beautiful Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence) in her pod. Her video profile reveals she is a writer with a humorous personality.  Again, what do you do?

Of course, I’m not going to tell — I will say that I really liked Passengers and I highly recommend that you see it if you haven’t already.  Laurence Fishburne also stars as Chief Gus Mancuso, the chief deck officer and Andy Garcia as Captain Norris but when did they make an appearance since no one else was awake?  Check it out! Passengers is worth seeing.

 

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X-MEN: APOCALYPSE (2016) – My rating: 9/10

XMenApocalypseX-Men: Apocalypse may very well be the best of the X-men series I’ve seen.  What made it so good was the clear, simple story that was still full of action, adventure and special effects galore.  I loved that the story wasn’t over the top, full of a million sub plots and tons of flash backs that you couldn’t put together until the end.  Instead, the story flowed and was kept simple and focused mostly on the current issues.  Of course that makes the film a little more predictable but you won’t have a king size headache when you leave the theater.  The plot is nothing I haven’t heard before.  Between Heroes (the TV series) and Marvel’s, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (TV series) it seems the “Mutants” are in the same boat all over the universe.  They’re considered dangerous and a threat to society, so they must be stopped by any means necessary.  In Apocalypse, the plan is to take control of them and use them to help rule the new world, headed up by an ancient “god” named En Sabah Nur / Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) who was resurrected in 1983 after being entombed by worshipers who betrayed him in 3600 BC.  Claiming to be the first all powerful and immortal mutant born in ancient times, this god is able to give and take powers from other mutants at random.  Some of his powers include telekinesis, telepathy, technopathy, superhuman strength, and size-control.  His philosophy is to kill off backward civilizations. In other words, if you’re not modern, you’re history. He feels the world has lost its way without his leadership and wants to rebuild after destroying the present one. Apocalypse meets, recruits and upgrades the power of a pickpocket named Ororo Munroe / Storm (Alexandra Shipp – who can control the weather)  as one of  his 4 lieutenants. In the meanwhile,  Raven Darkhölme / Mystique, (Jennifer Lawrence – a shape-shifter) who is on her own, helping rescue mutants who are oppressed or enslaved, investigates an underground fight club and discovers Warren Worthington III / Angel / Archangel (Ben Hardy – A mutant with bird-like feathered wings on his back and is a champion fighter)  and Kurt Wagner / Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee – a teleporting mutant). Raven rescues Kurt and employs the services of Caliban (Tómas Lemarquis – a  black marketeer and transporter) to safely transport him to the United States. En Sabah Nur discovers Elizabeth Braddock / Psylocke, (Olivia Munn – Caliban’s enforcer who is a mutant with telepathic and telekinetic abilities). He recruits her as the second of Apocalypse’s horsemen, known as Pestilence.  She leads him to Angel who he also recruits, upgrading his wings to metal.  He now needs one more recruit to complete his 4 horsemen.  He encounters a disgruntled  Erik Lehnsherr / Magneto (Michael Fassbender – a mutant with the ability to control magnetic fields and manipulate metal, who becomes the last of Apocalypse’s horsemen, known as War.)

New to the school of mutants, is  Scott Summers / Cyclops (Tye Sheridan – a mutant that fires uncontrollable, destructive optic beams and wears a visor or sunglasses to stabilize and contain them).  He is also the younger brother of  Alex Summers / Havok (Lucas Till – a mutant who has the ability to absorb energy and release it with destructive force from his body).

For you “Game of Thrones” fans, (Sophie Turner) plays Jean Grey a mutant who is scared of her telepathic and telekinetic power, and one of Charles Xavier’s most prized students.  Sophie gives a powerful performance in X-men and lends an aura of innocence missing from everyone else.  She is perfect in this role.

Logan / Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) makes an appearance in the movie that is unique and adds a bit of comic relief at just the right time.  Peter Maximoff / Quicksilver (Evan Peters – a mutant who can move, think, and perceive at supersonic speeds).  Quicksilver also has a secret everyone is going to want to know about.

As the fate of the Earth hangs in the balance, Raven with the help of Professor Charles Xavier / Professor X,  (James McAvoy) must lead a team of young X-Men to stop their greatest nemesis and save mankind from complete destruction.  I urge you to see this sequel as it is loaded with surprises, twist and turns and is just down right good.   There are many more mutants and much more to this story.  I know I’ve given you lots of spoilers but it’s a needle in a hay stack compared to the what’s left to see.

 

JOY (2015) – My rating: 8/10

JoyJoy is based on someones real life but this is not their true story. Joy is a semi-biographical story of a divorced mother with two children in the early 1990s who became a multi-millionaire by inventing the Miracle Mop among other inventions. Joy’s full name is Joy Mangano (Jennifer Lawrence) and in this film she is living the “mother” of set ups; Joy and her mother, Terry (Virginia Madsen) live on the main floor, Joy’s ex-husband, Tony Miranne (Édgar Ramírez) live in the basement, the children and her grandmother, Mimi (Diane Ladd) live up stairs. To top things off, her father’s 3rd wife Cindy (Drena De Niro) has just returned him to Joy, for good, so now he’s living with Joy’s ex-husband in the basement. I should add that Joy’s husband and father, Rudy Mangano (Robert De Niro) hate each other. Joy also has a half sister Peggy, (Elisabeth Röhm) who is very close to her father but are miles apart from her sister Joy. Peggy uses every chance she gets to exploit Joy, needless to say, they do not get along.  Despite Joy’s crazy life, she manages to stay focused on her dream of becoming an entrepreneur.  While sailing on her father’s newest girlfriend Trudy’s (Isabella Rossellini) yacht, Joy gets an idea when she cuts her hand cleaning up a spill from a broken glass of wine.  This incident leads to Trudy becoming Joy’s financier, which eventually leads to Joy meeting Neil Walker, (Bradley Cooper) an executive at QVC.  Dascha Polanco plays Jackie, Joy’s best friend who was instrumental in motivating Joy throughout the entire process. There are many, many players in this movie and even thought it seems as though I’ve given the whole story away, I’m far from it.  We all know of the Miracle Mop because most of us purchased one, at least I did.  Many more characters show up and many more twist and turns happen.

 I think you’ll enjoy Joy.  It’s entertaining, well acted and funny.  I was delighted to see Robert De Niro, Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence back together again.  They did a terrific job acting out this film.  This is a sign of true acting when the same actors and actresses can get together and play entirely different roles and still be convincing.

[Joy is nominated for Best Actress]

 

THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY PT 2 (2015) – My rating: 8/10

MockingjayPart2I was a little disappointed in the final Hunger Games.  Aside from feeling somewhat loss, I just didn’t like the way Mockingjay – Part 2 ended.  There was an emptiness I felt wasn’t filled.  I don’t want to reveal any spoilers, after all, we’ve survived through more than 6 hours of President Snows’ (Donald Sutherland) relentless, barbaric treatment of pain and torture to the haves and have nots to get here.  Two things remained consistent throughout the entire Hunger Games series, lots of death and the bravery of Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence).  I found some deaths to be senseless and others to be a welcoming feeling of healing and hope.  This last installment of The Mockingjay deals with making decisions that would finalize their future, getting rid of the right people, which would deal with serious trust and sacrifice issues and the process of healing then moving on.

As usual, the acting was excellent, the effort put forward by those fighting the good fight was spot-on and the lessons learned prepared them for more than they ever through possible.  Too many really horrible, traumatizing  things happened, making recovery for most, nearly impossible.  For me, a lot of what went on in this final installment was over the top.  It took the enjoyment out of whatever good had been accomplished.  I almost feel as thought I would have rather skipped the whole series because the bad weighs too heavily on my mind.  I realize there are those of you who may not feel as I do, since this is only my opinion.  I watched with anticipation and loved many of the scenes.  Bottom line, you’ll have to judge for yourself.  Does the end justify the means?  Check it out.  I welcome your comments, as I’d love to hear your opinion about this.

THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY PT 1 (2014) – My rating: 10/10

TheHungerGames;MockingjayPt1Since 2012,  I get a real birthday treat because  a version of The Hunger Games is released.  This year, The Mockingjay debuted and I, along with millions of other fans anticipated it’s arrival.  I was not disappointed.  The Hunger games, all versions,  are so fantastic I’d hate to see them end.  We started off with the world divided into districts and governed by the evil President Snow, played by Donald Sutherland.  2 kids from each district are forced to enter a competition called the Hunger Games.  It’s a fight to the finish.  Only one survivor is allowed so 25 children must die each year.  After 2 years, District 12 winners have caused controversy, thus shutting down the games.  Many VIP followers like Woody Harrelson, who plays Haymitch Abernathy and Phillip Seymore Hoffman, who plays Plutarch Heavensbee have fallen off the President Snow bandwagon and joined the rebellion against The Capital.  Julianne Moore plays President Alma Coin, who leads the districts and the rebellion.  Jennifer Lawrence who plays  Katniss Everdeen, is the Mockingjay that heads the rebellion and  gives hope and light at the end of the tunnel for the poor and the oppressed population that remain in the districts that haven’t been attacked or destroyed.  Oops, that was sort of a spoiler.  At any rate, this Hunger Games is one of the best and I for one, really liked it.  I can’t wait for part 2.  BTW:  Lenny Kravitz who plays Cinna is not in this last one, boo ho.  However, Josh Hutcherson, who plays Petta Mellark and the gorgeous Liam Hemsworth, who plays Gale Hawthorne continue to be Katniss’ love interest.  May the best man win. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Pt 1 is worth all your attention and most certainly, the cost of a movie ticket.

X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST (2014) – My rating: 9/10

XMenDaysOfFuturePastX-Men: Days of Future Past is one of the better films in the X-Men series.  It was clear, clean, crisp, entertaining and good story telling.  Wolverine/ Logan, played by Hugh Jackman, is sent back in time, to 1973, in hopes of stopping an event that would eliminate a fatal future for the Mutants and Humans as well.  As usual, the special effects are impeccable and the stellar cast, totally enjoyable.  I was happy to see former X-men like Ororo Munroe/Storm (Halle Berry) and Jean Grey/Phoenix (Famke Janssen ) back in this sequel.  Jennifer Lawrence has played the role of Raven/Mystique in the last 2 films and is eye candy whether she’s in human or mutant form.  The truly great surprise is Dr. Bolivar Trask, played by Peter Dinklage, who plays Tyrion Lannister in Game of Thrones.  I can’t say enough about Peter’s on screen presence and acting ability.  He is magic in any role he plays.  The question is can Charles Xavier/Professor X, played by both Patrick Stewart and James McAvoy and Eric Lehnsherr/ Magneto, played by both Ian McKellen and Michael Fassbender, really come together for a good cause?  Spend the time and money to see X-Men and find out.  This movie was rated high by the viewers who didn’t make a mistake — it’s really a good one.

[X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST is nominated for Visual Effect]

AMERICAN HUSTLE (2013) – My rating: 7.5/10

AmericanHustleI was expecting so much more from this film.  After hearing all the hoopla and seeing the trailer, I really thought I was in for a real thrill ride.  Between all the plots and the flash backs, it became a little difficult to focus.  I’m not saying that it wasn’t good because it was a decent flick but it dragged in some parts.  The great acting really saved this movie.  Several spurts of energy from Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence reeled me back into focus.  Bradley and Christian were superb, lending a lot of character to the scenes.  Bale looked fat and cheap as a con man in the 70s while Cooper looked more like a fashion plate, odd for an FBI agent.  I got a few laughs out of American Hustle as well as an opportunity to see a little bit of history.  They say some of this really happened, they just don’t say which parts.  Because there are so many movies out right now, I recommend waiting for the DVD.  If you are an Oscar buff, you might want to see it now, since there is a great chance it’s going to get an Oscar nod.