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‘Mr. Harrigan’s Phone’ Review: Donald Sutherland And Jaeden Martell In Stephen King’s Perceptive Supernatural Coming-Of-Age Drama

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When you have a movie adaptation of a Stephen King story with It star Jaeden Martell, produced by Jason Blum’s Blumhouse and American Horror Story’s Ryan Murphy and hitting Netflix just mere weeks before Halloween, you might be right to think we’ve got a new horror film on our hands. However, Mr. Harrigan’s Phone is not an entry into King’s canon of terrorizing books. Actually in this case it was a short story, a novella called “If It Bleeds,” that has led to this smart and sensitive film adaptation by writer-director John Lee Hancock, and if indeed any horror is to be found here it is at the hands of our iPhones when they get into the wrong hands.

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Actually the only reference of the word “horror” in talking about this film is in its couple of references to the line, “the horror, the horror” from Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, one of many books that are the subject of readings between a young New England teen named Craig (Martell) and the small town’s filthy rich old man Mr. Harrigan (Donald Sutherland), who summons him to his huge and imposing mansion on a regular basis to read to him from literary classics like Lady Chatterley’s Lover, A Tale of Two Cities and many more.

Beginning in 2003 when he was quite young (played by Colin O’Brien at that age) and impressing Harrigan with a Bible reading at the town’s church, Craig finds satisfying steady work for years as we see when the story skips forward and the role is now played by Martell, who ages from 15 to 18 over the course of this unique relationship with the crusty senior citizen. Craig’s mother died when he was very young and he now lives with his nice and well-meaning dad (Joe Tippett), who tries hard as a single parent but can’t help but be a little envious of the connection his son has with this man who even gives him a scratch-off lottery ticket that pays off to the tune of $3,000.

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Craig is also a somewhat loner of a teen at his high school, where he is regularly bullied by a towering Kenny Yankovich (Cyrus Arnold) who could scare the hell out of any kid. Craig also desires his own cell phone, finally gifted to him one Christmas by dad. Later he even gets one for Harrigan, who rejects the idea until Craig shows him he can get instant stock market quotes without waiting for the next day’s newspaper. That phone takes center stage after Harrigan dies, leaving his young reader $800,000 in a trust, as well as inadvertently that phone he was clutching when he keeled over. At the funeral, Craig puts it into his casket as a last act of their friendship, but when he misses Harrigan and even dials his number just to talk about being bullied he is shocked when he gets a mysterious text back. Whoa. Then some very weird stuff starts happening and Craig finds out the real power of iPhone when it is operated, perhaps, from the great beyond. Or is it?

More in sync with film adaptations of King stories like Stand By Me, The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile, this engaging tale might have actually made for a great Twilight Zone episode on its surface, but underneath King and Hancock mine it for much more of a coming-of-age story, the moving relationship between two people from very different generations connected by literature, and even a cautionary warning about the evil things that can be contained via the internet, beautifully stated in the film’s best scene when Harrigan talks about the negative side of having a device like this to hook up with the world.

When you have a commanding presence like Sutherland involved you can do no wrong and he is splendid here, as is Martell who has been so good in everything from St. Vincent to Apple’s limited series Defending Jacob to even King’s It. Tippett is terrific as the dad, and there’s warm support from Kirby Howell-Baptiste as a beloved teacher of Craig’s. Peggy J. Scott has her moments as Harrigan’s housekeeper Edna as well. Arnold is a bit too much of a bully though to escape the stereotype of that high school staple.

Props to the pitch-perfect production design of Michael Corenblith, as well as Javier Navartrete’s effective, sometimes creepy score. Hancock (The Blind Side) is in total control of every beat of the story, as he has been in sadly underseen and underrated gems like The Founder, Saving Mr. Banks and more recently a great Denzel Washington thriller The Little Things.

In addition to Blum and Murphy, this engrossing film was also produced by Carla Hacken. It begins streaming on Netflix on Wednesday. Check out my video review above with scenes from the movie.

Do you plan to see Mr. Harrigan’s Phone? Let us know what you think.

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Netflix & Paramount+ To Profile ‘Strip Search Caller’ ; TVOKids Spotlights Down Syndrome With Toon Series; ‘One Piece Film Red’ London Takeover — Global Briefs

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Netflix & Paramount+ UK To Profile ‘Strip Search Caller’

Netflix and Paramount+ have struck a first of its kind-of-deal over a true crime documentary telling the story of the strip search caller in the U.S. Paramount+ has taken UK rights to Pervert: The Hunt for the Strip Search Caller and Netflix has rest of world on the doc, which it will be calling Don’t Pick Up the Phone. The deal is believed to be the first time two streamers have worked in such a way in the UK and rest of world. The doc tells the shocking story of a hoax caller who targeted fast food restaurants across the U.S. – posing as a police officer investigating a theft, the caller instructed managers to strip-search the young female employees he said were suspects. For many victims, what began as a humiliating strip search escalated into sexual abuse.

Canada’s TVOKids Spotlights Down Syndrome In Animated Series ‘Griffin And Turner’

EXCLUSIVE: Ontario, Canada’s TVOkids and Big Jump Entertainment are working on 2D-animated series Griffin and Turner. Based on real Canadian brothers who a significant online following, the show follows the supportive pair as they, their friends and family undertake personal challenges but focus on the journey rather than winning. Turner has Down syndrome, and TVOKids executive producer Kirsten Hurd noted the series has been developed in consultation with the Down syndrome community. Producer Big Jump is behind shows such as Shutterbug and Big Words, Small Stories.

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London Gets ‘One Piece Film Red’ Takeover After Record Haul

To celebrate the record-breaking haul of One Piece Film Red in the UK, the Straw Hat Pirates are set for a takeover of iconic London locations on November 26. Via local distributor Anime Limited and Toei Animation, the cast and memorable scenes from the series will be projected onto the County Hall of London, opposite the London Eye as well as other key locations. One Piece Film: Red has grossed over £800,000 in the UK and Ireland since it released earlier this month, making it the biggest of the long-running franchise. A phenomenon in Japan, One Piece Film Red has grossed $162M to date worldwide 



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‘All Quiet On The Western Front’, ‘Belfast’ Top 2022 EFA Arts & Crafts Awards

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Edward Berger’s All Quiet On The Western Front and Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast top the European Film Academy’s Excellence Awards honoring achievement in the arts and crafts categories, the winners of which were announced on Wednesday.

Belfast won best European Production Design for Jim Clay, whose credits include Children Of Men, for which he won a Bafta in 2006, and Murder On The Orient Express.

The drama, set against the backdrop of the beginnings of “The Troubles” in Northern Ireland in 1969, also won best European Costume Design for Charlotte Walter (Blithe Spirit, Misbehaviour)

Netflix-backed German WWI drama All Quiet On The Western Front won best European Make-up & Hair for Heike Merker, and Best European Special Effects for Frank Petzold, Viktor Müller and Markus Frank.

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 In other categories, best European Cinematography was won by Kate McCullough for her work on Colm Bairéad’s Irish-language drama The Quiet Girl.

Best European Editing went to Özcan Vardar and Eytan İpeker for Turkish director Emin Alper’s drama Burning Days.

Polish composer Paweł Mykietyn won best European Original Score went for Jerzy Skolimowski’s EO.

Best European Sound went to Simone Paolo Olivero, Paolo Benvenuti, Benni Atria, Marco Saitta, Ansgar Frerich & Florian Holzner for Michelangelo Frammartino’s cave exploration drama The Hole.

The winners, which are decided by a special expert jury, will receive their awards at the European Film Awards ceremony on 10 December in Reykjavík.

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Jennifer Lopez’s Social Media Mysteriously Goes Dark

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EXCLUSIVE: The actress, producer and top-selling performing artist’s social media channels including Instagram, Facebook, Tik Tok and Twitter have suddenly gone dark in their featured/cover images.

Reps for Jennifer Lopez were unavailable for comment, but we hear from others that The Hustlers and Marry Me actress is on the verge of announcing a new project.

Here’s a look at her Instagram tonight:

While Lopez’s Instagram had erased all posts, a trail of her previous postings remained on Facebook, Tik Tok and Twitter. Across all four social media portals, Lopez counts close to 347M followers, the majority of that coming from her Instagram.

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Lopez’s Nuyorican Productions in June 2021 signed a multi-year first-look deal with Netflix spanning feature films, TV series and unscripted content, with an emphasis on projects that support diverse female actors, writers and filmmakers. Lopez co-runs Nuyorican Productions with her producing partner Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas.

Lopez scored her best opening for a live-action movie at the domestic box office with STX’s 2019 stripper caper Hustlers which debuted to $33.1 million, and grossed $105M stateside, $157.6M worldwide.  As a recording artist, Lopez has sold over 70 million albums, with J.Lo became her bestselling album with 3.8M copies sold in the U.S. and 12M global. Her Netflix thriller The Mother from director Niki Caro is set to debut in May. Her romantic comedy Shotgun Wedding with Josh Duhamel will hit Prime Video on Jan. 27.

On Facebook, one of her followers, Steffany Merino wrote, “What’s happened? Hope you and your wonderful family are ok. I’ll pray for your health and safety.”

Again, we hear something special is in the works in the next few days.



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