Saturday, April 29, 2017

Top Ten DVD List for May 2, 2017

by Kam Williams


This Week’s DVD Releases
 
I Am Not Your Negro on DVD

The Salesman

Tunnel


Saturday Night Fever: Director's Cut [40th Anniversary Edition]

Maiko: Dancing Child

The Free Man

Secrets of the Dead: Leonardo, the Man Who Saved Science

A Matter of Time

Counting for Thunder

MindGamers



Honorable Mention

The Resurrection of Gavin Stone

Rugrats: Season One

Rugrats: Season Two

The Shadow Effect

A Dog's Purpose

The Comedian

Nature: Yosemite

Wild Weather

Smithsonian - Air Warriors: Season One

Rings


Friday, April 28, 2017

I Am Not Your Negro

 
DVD Review by Kam Williams




Oscar-Nominated Documentary about James Baldwin's Arrives on Home Video

When novelist/social critic James Baldwin passed away in 1987, he left behind an unfinished opus entitled "Remember This House." The 30-page manuscript assessed the plight of African-Americans in the United States while specifically reflecting upon the assassinations of three civil rights icons: Malcolm X, Medgar Evers and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

With I Am Not Your Negro, director Raoul Peck (Lumumba) fleshes out Baldwin's musings, cinematically, into a searing indictment of the United States as an unapologetically-racist nation. Narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, the movie has been nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Documentary category. 
 
The focus of the film never strays far from Baldwin, nimbly alternating between archival footage of the fiery figure challenging the status quo and Jackson's readings from "Remember This House" and his other writings. Again and again, we hear him question the depth of the country's commitment to reverse the damage inflicted upon the black community by generations of slavery, lynchings and Jim Crow segregation.

For example, he asserts that most Caucasians are perfectly comfortable relegating African-Americans to a second-class status. He even goes so far as to refer to them as morally-blind monsters for seeing blacks as sub-human. Until that attitude is eradicated, whites will never recognize that "I am flesh of their flesh."

Baldwin concludes that "The story of the Negro in America is the story of America." Therefore, with black and white fates inextricably linked, "It's not a question of what happens to the Negro. The real question is what is going to happen to this country." 
 
Given the precarious state of race relations, the late visionary's prescient insights perhaps prove more timely, posthumously, than in their own day.


Excellent (4 stars)
Rated PG-13 for profanity, mature themes, violent images and brief nudity`
Running time: 94 minutes
Distributor: Magnolia Home Entertainment
DVD Extras: Interview and Q&A session with director Raoul Peck; Q&A session with Samuel L. Jackson; and a video photo gallery of stills featured in the film.


To see a trailer for I Am Not Your Negro, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rNUYdgIyaPM

To order a copy of I Am Not Your Negro on DVD, visit: 

 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Kam's Kapsules for movies opening May 5, 2017

 
Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun  
by Kam Williams  


OPENING THIS WEEK

BIG BUDGET FILMS

3 Generations (Unrated) Coming-of-age dramedy about a transgender teen (Elle Fanning) who seeks the support of her single-mom (Naomi Watts) and her gay grandmother (Susan Sarandon) while making the transition from female to male. With Linda Emond, Andrew Polk and Antonio Ortiz.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (PG-13 for action, violence, profanity and suggestive content) Special f/x-driven sequel finds the Marvel Comics superheroes embarking on another intergalactic adventure to the outer reaches of the cosmos. Ensemble cast includes Chris Pratt, Bradley Cooper, Zoe Saldana, Vin Diesel, Sly Stallone and Kurt Russell.


INDEPENDENT & FOREIGN FILMS

Burden (Unrated) Reverential retrospective revisiting the career of Chris Burden (1946-2015), the unorthodox performance artist who often put his life at risk while practicing his craft.

Chuck (R for sexuality, nudity, drug use, bloody images and pervasive profanity) "Great White Hope" biopic recounting the ring exploits of Chuck Wepner (Liev Schreiber), aka "The Bayonne Bleeder," the heavyweight contender best remembered for lasting almost 15 rounds with Muhammad Ali (Pooch Hall). Cast includes Naomi Watts, Ron Perlman and Jim Gaffigan.

The Dinner (R for pervasive profanity and disturbing violence) Adaptation of the Herman Koch novel of the same name about a candidate for governor (Richard Gere) who rconspires with his brother (Steve Coogan) and both of their wives (Laura Linney and Rebecca Hall) to coverup a vicious crime committed by their sons (Charlie Plummer, Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick and Miles J. Harvey). With Chloe Sevigny, Anika Day and Adepero Oduye.

Julian Schnabel: A Private Portrait (Unrated) Prestige biopic taking a revealing look at the life and times of the multi-talented artist/Oscar-nominated film director. Featuring commentary by Willem Dafoe and Al Pacino.

Last Men in Aleppo (Unrated) Syrian Good Samaritan documentary chronicling the heroic rescue efforts on the part of of the White Helmets, the volunteer organization founded and maintained by three private citizens from Aleppo named Khalid, Subhi and Mahmoud. (In Arabic with subtitles)

Like Crazy (Unrated) Strange bedfellows dramedy, set in Tuscany, about a delusional billionaire (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi) and a fragile introvert (Micaela Ramazzotti) who forge an unlikely friendship while patients at a psychiatric clinic. Support cast includes Valentina Carnelutti, Sergio Albelli and Tomasso Ragno. (In Italian with subtitles)

The Lovers (R for sexuality and profanity) Marital crisis comedy about an emotionally-estranged couple (Debra Winger and Tracy Letts) on the brink of divorce that decides to take one last shot at reconciliation before officially calling it quits. With Jessica Sula, Aidan Gillen, Lesley Fera and Melora Walters.

Mr. Chibbs (Unrated) Midlife crisis biopic chronicling the host of woes visited upon former NBA All-Star Kenny Anderson since his retirement a decade ago. Featuring commentary by Atiib "Tiki" Barber, Kenny "The Jet" Smith, Deidre "Spinderella" Roper and Nate "Tiny" Archibald.

Risk (Unrated) Oscar-winner Laura Poitras (for Citizenfour) profiles Julian Assange, the iconoclastic editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks. (In English, Spanish and Arabic with subtitles)

This Is Not What I Expected (Unrated) Romantic comedy revolving around the love which blossoms between a wealthy food connoisseur (Takeshi Kaneshiro) and the flamboyant sous chef (Dongyu Zhou) who prepares a perfect meal for him. With Ming Xi, Tony Yang and Chiling Lin. (In Mandarin with subtitles)

Monday, April 24, 2017

Rupture



Film Review by Kam Williams



Abductee Seeks to Escape Kidnappers in Mindbending Sci-fi Thriller

Renee (Noomi Rapace) was leading an unremarkable existence in suburban Kansas City the day she was abducted by five strangers after her car broke down. Until then, she was just an average divorcee' doing her best to shield a young son (Percy Hynes White) from an embittered ex-husband's (Paul Popowich) vicious barbs.

Otherwise, her routine was so drab, between work and helping Evan with his homework, that she decided to add a little spice to her life via skydiving. Then, hours before she got a chance to jump out of a plane as planned, she's kidnapped by the aforementioned quintet with an unspoken agenda. 
 
After being tasered, handcuffed and taped over the mouth, Renee was transported in the back of a panel truck to an unknown location. As she was rolled into the facility while lying on a gurney, she passes another captive who ominously warns, "They need us!" 
 
Soon, Renee's chained down in a cell where she finds herself being interrogated by jailers who obviously already know a lot about her, like the fact that she has a son and a terrible fear of spiders. However, they refuse to reveal why she's been taken hostage. 
 
Luckily, the fellow in the very next cell (Jonathan Potts) is willing to share what little he knows, once their torturers are out of earshot. He whispers that there are about 20 other inmates and he also cryptically makes reference to "G-10-12-X," whatever that means. 
 
That is the intriguing point of departure for Rupture, a mindbending, sci-fi thriller directed and co-written by Steven Shainberg (Secretary). While the setup is kinda cool, unfortunately, the picture unfolds like your typical M. Night Shyamalan production whose mystery is ultimately resolved by a rabbit out of the hat resolution. 
 
Getting there is all the fun in this paint-by-numbers affair which has the ingenious heroine resorting to one of the oldest cinematic cliches by escaping via the ventilation system. Just don't let anyone spoil the conclusion, or you'll have no reason to check out this hackneyed horror yarn co-starring Peter Stormare, Kerry Bishe' and Michael Chiklis.

They're coming to take me away, ha-ha!



Fair (1.5 stars)
Unrated
Running time: 101 minutes
Distributor: AMBI Media Group


To see a trailer for Rupture, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kmqEmhkKeaA 

N.O.L.A. Circus


Film Review by Kam Williams


Kitchen Sink Comedy Chronicles Cutthroat Rivalry between Neighboring New Orleans Barbershops

Will (Martin Bradford) is the proprietor of Kupcakes, a hair salon located in Algiers, the only New Orleans parish on the west side of the Mississippi River. What makes him unique is that he's also a grassroots activist who periodically stands on the proverbial soap box, preaching to anybody who'll listen about Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 
 
He only has one employee, Nola (Jessica Morali), a gorgeous shampoo girl. They are secretly lovers, too, only because she has a very overprotective brother, Denzel (Reginal Varice), who is driven beserk just by the thought of her sleeping with anybody. 
 
For example, he went crazy and beat up the entire staff at Napoli's Pizzeria, when he suspected the owner of sleeping with her. Gesuippe Napoli (Ricky Wayne) was so incensed by the pummeling that he's summoned a hit man from Sicily (Gianni Boromei) to knock off the perpetrator. 
 
Meanwhile, right across the street from Kupcakes we find Marvin's, an old-fashioned barbershop frequented by a colorful cast of characters. The place is run by Marvin (Vas Blackwood) and his two brothers, Hathi (Corey Mendell Parker) and Anaconda (Nicoye Banks).

Each of the siblings has a distinctive physical trait. Marvin has a huge Afro, Hathi has big ears, and Anaconda was blessed with gargantuan genitalia, hence the nickname. And he's a sex addict dating Nola's BFF, Karen (Kamille McCuin). Karen is the neighborhood drug dealer, not to be confused with another hustler who lurks around, pressuring passersby to purchase everything from watches to underwear. 
 
Additional players in this theater of the absurd include Woody (Lucius Baston), an aspiring opera singer who only stutters when he speaks, and a a trio of hooded Ku Klux Klansmen threatening to kill Will unless he stops the pontificating in favor of civil rights. 
 
All of the above are afforded their moments to shine in N.O.L.A. Circus, a kitchen sink comedy written and directed by Luc Annest. The foul-mouthed Frenchman is apparently unaware of contemporary social trends, since his irreverent film debut arrives laced with profanity, ethnic slurs, misogyny and assorted other salacious material ostensibly intended to easily offend.

The picture relies on a preposterous plot somewhat redeemed by the fact that the outrageous antics onscreen are often hilarious. So, don't be surprised if you end up laughing in spite of yourself. 
 
Politically-incorrect, crassploitation fare strictly for the unshockable!


Very Good (2.5 stars)
Unrated
Running time: 89 minutes
Distributor: XLrator Media


To see a trailer for N.O.L.A. Circus, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nXmhaL7j7go

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Dulé Hill

 
The “Sleight” Interview
with Kam Williams


Make Way for Dulé!

Born in Orange, New Jersey and raised in Sayreville, Dulé Hill began attending dance school when he was 3 years- old. He later received his first break as the understudy to Savion Glover on Broadway in “The Tap Dance Kid.” 
 
Dulé went on to perform the lead role in the musical’s national tour. And his additional stage credits include “Bring in ‘Da Noise, Bring in ‘Da Funk,” the Tony Award-nominated musical “After Midnight,” “Stick Fly,” “Black and Blue,” “Dutchman,” “Shenandoah” and “The Little Rascals.” 
 
Dulé is well known for his role on “The West Wing,” for which he garnered an Emmy Award nomination, 4 NAACP Image Award nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, and two Screen Actors Guild Awards as part of the Outstanding Ensemble in a Drama Series. 
 
His other television credits include the role of Burton ‘Gus’ Guster in the long-running series “Psych,” which earned him 4 NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series. He also played Larry in the second season of “Ballers.” 
 
His big screen credits include “Gayby,” “Miss Dial,” “Edmond,” “The Guardian,” “Holes,” “Sugar Hill,” “She’s All That,” “Sexual Life” and the independent comedy “Remarkable Power.”

Dulé is a SAG-AFTRA Foundation Board Member and is involved with the non-profit organizations Justice for Vets and The Gabriella Foundation. In his spare time, he enjoys tap dancing and playing the saxophone, although he freely admits that he hasn't quite mastered the art of the sax. 
 
Here, Dulé talks about his new movie, Sleight, an action thriller about a street magician [Jacob Latimore] who starts dealing drugs to raise his sister [Storm Reid] after the death of their mom.


Kam Williams: Hi, Dulé, thanks for the interview.
Dule Hill: My pleasure, Kam. Thanks for taking the time.

KW: What interested you in Sleight?
DH: Beyond the exciting journey that J.D. Dillard and Alex Theurer delivered in their script, the main thing that interested me in Sleight was the chance to play a character outside of the scope of what I am used to playing on screen. As an actor, I’m always looking for new and interesting ways to challenge myself. The idea of playing a type of villain was extremely intriguing.

KW: How would you describe the film in 25 words or less?
DH: Sleight. A story about good versus evil. Life versus death. Circumstances, choices and the powers a young mind can develop when life gets under pressure.

KW: The movie sounds like a mix of several genres.
DH: It is! J.D. and Alex did a fantastic job of combining an urban, dramatic thriller with a sci-fi superhero origin story to create this world. They took different aspects of genres we enjoy and mashed them up to create a film that is engaging, fresh and new, which was another one of the many reasons I wanted to be a part of this project.

KW: How would you describe your character?
DH: Angelo is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, the kind of guy who charms his way into your world until one day you realize that he doesn’t understand the meaning of the word boundaries. He’s your best friend and your bully all at the same time.

KW: What message do you think people will take away from the movie?
DH: I believe that a message people will take away from the movie is “Actions have consequences, so be careful of the choices you make.”

KW: Harriet Pakula-Teweles asks: With so many classic films being redone, is there a remake you'd like to star in?
DH: White Nights or The Cotton Club. Gregory Hines and tap shoes. I couldn’t ask for anything more.

KW: The music maven Heather Covington question: What was the last song you listened to?
DH: Unforgettable by Nat King Cole

KW: What is your favorite dish to cook?
DH: I am not really that skilled in the kitchen. Thankfully, my lady, Jazmyn Simon, throws down when it comes to the cookery. But I can cook a mean cornmeal porridge that was taught to me by my Jamaican father. It’s generational…generational. Mi seh? [Jamaican slang for "Understand me?"]

KW: The Morris Chestnut question: Was there any particular moment in your childhood that inspired you to become the person you are today?
DH: There are layers to this answer, but I would say, yes. One, being the moment I gave my life to Christ. My faith has been the focal point of my journey as far back as I can remember. I’m not going to sit here and say that I have always been an angel, but I am aware of the grace that has covered me over my lifetime. I give my all to live a life that is worthy of the favor I have received. I don’t always hit the mark, but I continue to press towards it each day. New mercies every morning… Give thanks for that.

KW: Sherry Gillam would like to know what is the most important life lesson you've learned so far?
DH: Enjoy life’s moments. Do not take them for granted, because you never know which one will be the last. Also, seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness; and all these things will be added unto you. In other words, get your priorities straight; figure out what really matters, and focus on that.

KW: The Viola Davis question: What’s the biggest difference between who you are at home as opposed to the person we see on the red carpet?
DH: The clothes I wear. Thank you [celebrity stylist] Jason Bolden and [fashionista] Ongell Fereria.

KW: If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would that be for?
DH: For peace to be.

KW: Larry Greenberg asks: Do you have a favorite movie monster?
DH: I’m a little old school, so I’m going to have to go with The Blob.

KW: Thanks again for the time, Dulé, and best of luck with the film.
DH: Thank you, Kam! I definitely appreciate the love. Blessings

To see a trailer for Sleight, visit:  

Saturday, April 22, 2017

The Levelling


DVD Review by Kam Williams


Bittersweet Prodigal Daughter Parable Arrives on DVD

It's not very clear whether Harry Catto's (Joe Blakemore) death was a murder or a suicide. One thing's for certain, though. It wasn't merely a mishap, because nobody accidentally sticks a gun in his own mouth and pulls the trigger. The cops suspect that he killed himself, but his father (David Troughton) is too much in shock to press them to launch a full investigation. 
 
This tragic state of affairs greets Clover Catto (Ellie Kendrick) when she returns home to attend her younger brother's funeral. Although she's been away in veterinary school, she's been estranged from her father for years. In fact, this is her first visit back to Somerset since the 2013 flood which devastated most of the wetland region's coastal plains. 
 
Upon arriving, Clover sees that much of the rural area still hasn't recovered from the deluge, including the flattened dairy farm that she grew up on. But before she can devote any attention to the idea of resurrecting the family-owned estate, the grief-stricken Prodigal Daughter needs to focus on reconciling with her father and on figuring out the circumstances surrounding her sibling's slaying. 
 
That is the engaging point of departure of The Levelling, a haunting, modern parable of Biblical proportions. The deliberately-paced mood piece unfolding against a decidedly-barren, British backdrop marks a most impressive writing and directorial debut by Hope Dickson Leach.

The film also features a nonpareil performance on the part of Ellie Kendrick as Clover. The talented ingenue exhibits considerable range in service of a very emotionally-demanding role. She is assisted in this endeavor by an equally-capable supporting cast basically composed of David Troughton as a dad plunged deep in denial, and Jack Holden as an eyewitness with lots of answers. 
 
A heartbreakingly-palpable exploration of a strained father-daughter relationship as well as a thorough post mortem on their loved one's untimely passing!



Excellent (4 stars)
Rated R for profanity and brief frontal nudity
Running time: 84 minutes
Distributor: Monterey Video
DVD Extras: Behind-the-scenes interviews




To see a trailer for The Levelling, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uNC8SeWPiw4


To order a copy of The Levelling, visit: