Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The LEGO Ninjago Movie

Film Review by Kam Williams

Unassuming Teen Morphs into Formidable Ninja in Latest LEGO Episode 
Lloyd Garmadon (Dave Franco) must be the least liked student at Ninjago High. The unassuming 16 year-old is so unpopular that no kids will even sit on the same side of the bus with him on the ride to school. 
 
What they don't know, however, is that he has a superhero alter ego, namely, the Green Ninja. In that capacity, he serves as the leader of the Secret Ninja Force, a team of five teens and an android under the tutelage of Lloyd's wise and wisecracking uncle, Master Wu (Jackie Chan).

In lieu of weapons, he's trained each of his proteges to harness a different force of nature contained in his magical treasure chest. The hot-headed Red Ninja (Michael Pena) controls fire. The music-loving Black Ninja (Fred Armisen) has mastered earth; the Blue Ninja (Kumail Nanjiani), lightning; and the Gray Ninja (Abbi Jacobson), water; while the robotic White Ninja's (Zach Woods) domain is ice.
 
Their appointed mission is to prevent Lord Garmadon (Justin Theroux) from conquering Ninjago City. Complicating matters is the fact that the evil villain also happens to be Lloyd's long-lost father. He abandoned his wife (Olivia Munn) and baby when she resisted his embrace of the dark side.

So, all the boy knows about his dad is the little he's been told by his mother and uncle. Consequently, Lloyd is as eager to meet as to defeat the warlord with the well-earned reputation as the world's "Worst Guy Ever."

If you've seen either LEGO or LEGO Batman, then you have a decent idea of what to expect from the third installment of the inspired, animated franchise. Directed by Charlie Bean, the frenetically-paced, action film features not only another visually-captivating adventure, but more 
of the pithy asides and clever allusions to screen classics which make the movie interesting to adults not necessarily in the target demo. 
 
Ninjago ultimately proves to be the best episode yet because of the profusion of positive messages delivered by the picture's end. An alternately high-octane, hilarious and heartwarming treat that's hard to beat!



Excellent (4 stars)
Rated PG for mild action and rude humor
Running time: 101 minutes
Distributor: Warner Brothers Pictures


To see a trailer for The LEGO Ninjago Movie, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bziAA4u7STU

Monday, September 18, 2017

Olivia Munn

 
Photo Credit: Nash Stevanovic

 "The LEGO Ninjago Movie” Interview
with Kam Williams


Fee Fi Fo Munn, I Smell a Hit for Olivia!

Lisa Olivia Munn was born in Oklahoma City on July 3, 1980 to a mother of Chinese extraction, and to a father of English, Irish and German descent. She spent most of her childhood in Tokyo where she learned to speak fluent Japanese. She moved back to the U.S. in her mid-teens to finish high school before attending the University of Oklahoma.

In 2006, Olivia joined G4 Network’s popular “Attack of the Show!” as co-host.  She subsequently joined “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” as a correspondent, becoming one of five female cast members to ever appear on the program. Her first book, "Suck It, Wonder Woman! The Misadventures of a Hollywood Geek" debuted on both the New York Times and Los Angeles Times best seller lists upon its release in 2010..

Last year, she co-starred in Office Christmas Party, alongside Jason Bateman and Jennifer Aniston, and as Psylocke in X-Men: Apocalypse. Priot to that, she appeared in Ride Along 2 as a homicide detective, opposite Kevin Hart and Ice Cube. And she'll be in The Predator, opposite Keegan-Michael Key and Sterling K. Brown, which is slated to be released on August 3, 2018.

Lauded in 2014 by Variety as the Breakthrough Actress of the Year, Olivia's other film credits include Mortdecai, Deliver Us from Evil, Magic Mike and Iron Man 2.  She enjoyed an arc on the Fox Emmy-nominated sitcom “New Girl,” and appeared in the Emmy-winning Showtime environmental documentary series “Years of Living Dangerously,” from James Cameron and Jerry Weintraub.

Olivia serves as a spokeswoman on numerous environmental issues, including working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Sierra Club. Here, she talks about her latest outing as the voice of Koko in LEGO Ninjago, an animated action-adventure co-starring Jackie Chan, Dave Franco and Fred Armisen.


Kam Williams: Hi Olivia. I'm honored to have this opportunity to speak with you.
Olivia Munn: Thanks. It's nice to speak to you, too, Kam.

KW: I loved this film. Had you seen the other LEGO movies before making this one?.
OM: Yes! They were so great.

KW: How did you like playing Koko, Lloyd's mom?
OM: I loved playing the upbeat, positive person that Koko is. and it was also nice that I was encouraged to let my inhibitions go and create a really fun character.

KW: I found the film both hilarious and very touching. What's the key to generating chemistry to that extent in an animated adventure, when you don't even get to act opposite other actors?
OM: That's an interesting question. Thankfully, we had an amazing director [Charlie Bean] who knew what everybody else was doing, so he could guide us in the right direction, and make sure we're always in sync and using the right tone. Basically, it's really just like playing pretend.

KW: What message do you think people will take away from?
OM: I think the message of the movie is "Be okay with who you are. And that you can't choose your parents or what life you were born into, but you can choose the kind of person you want to be." That's what Lloyd is figuring out. He comes to understand that you don't get to choose a lot in life, but you do get to choose your character.

KW: I really enjoyed your book, "Suck It, Wonder Woman!" Do you have any plans to write another?
OM: I don't have a plan, but it's been rolling around in my head recently that I should do another book. I have some ideas for it that I've been thinking about. Well, as a writer, you know how hard it is to focus your brain on one specific topic for such a long time, and have to organize the material and put it all together. But, yes, I guess I would like to do another one.

KW: LEGO Ninjago's a sequel, and so are a number of your upcoming movies: X:Men: Dark Phoenix, The Predator and Ocean's Eight.
OM: I just do a cameo in those films, although it's exciting to be a part of them.

KW: But you're going to have a prominent roll in The Buddy Games, Josh Duhamel's directorial debut.
OM: Yeah, he wrote it and stars in it, too. It has such a great cast: [Olivia's boyfriend] Nick Swardson, Dax Shepard, James Roday, Kevin Dillon, Dan Bakkedahl.... Honestly, it was one of the most fun shoots I've been on. Those guys had me laughing constantly. It really was a testament to Josh how all these friends were eager to participate in his passion project. As actors, we always want to step up and help out each other. And he knew exactly how to cast each of us.

KW: Is there any question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would?
OM: I enjoy when people just ask me random stuff.

KW: Okay, I got a lot of random questions. Ling-Ju Yen asks: What is your earliest childhood memory?
OM: Playing on a Slip 'N Slide with my sister at my grandma's house.

KW: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?
OM: I see an Asian-American woman.

KW: What is your guiltiest pleasure?
OM: It's not exactly a pleasure, but I procrastinate way too much, to the point that it feels like something I shouldn't be doing, but my guiltiest pleasure is probably watching The Real Housewives.

KW: What is your favorite dish to cook?
OM: My mom's homemade bread from scratch.

KW: The Uduak Oduok question: Who is your favorite clothes designer?
OM: Gosh, I have a lot. I lean towards wearing the smaller, up-and-coming designers, because I know what it's like to hope that people are giving you a shot when you're starting out.

KW: Larry Greenberg asks: Do you have a favorite movie monster?
OM: I don't know if he's a monster, but I love Beetlejuice.

KW: He's definitely a monster. He really creeped me out. 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?
OM: I'm exactly the same. I'm in full hair and makeup and wear a gown every morning. [Chuckles] There are many differences. On the red carpet, you have to be comfortable just standing there while everybody takes your picture. I think the biggest difference is in how I look. For the carpet, I go full glam. I love it when I have my hair and makeup done. I just feel all done-up.

KW: What's the craziest thing you've ever done?
OM: When I was 16 years-old, I was living in the Las Vegas suburbs with my biological father. A girlfriend and I got really bored one day, so we decided to take the bus out to The Strip. We missed the bus on the way back, so we decided to walk home. But she got so tired walking that she decided to accept the offer of a ride from about the fifth car that pulled over. She was like, "I'm getting in!" I couldn't let her go alone, so we we got into the back of this car with a couple of pretty shady guys we had to pretend we wanted to hang out with, because they didn't want to just drop us off. Looking back, I think we we're very lucky that nothing bad happened to us. Yeah, that was pretty crazy. I guess it's the sort of dumb thing you do when you're young and have no foresight.

KW: Finally, Samuel L. Jackson asks: What’s in your wallet?
OM: In my wallet? Canadian dollars.

KW: Thanks again for the time, Olivia, and I really enjoyed our chat. .
OM: Me, too, Kam. Bye.

To see a trailer for The LEGO Ninjago Movie, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bziAA4u7STU



Sunday, September 17, 2017

Top Ten DVD List for September 19, 2017

by Kam Williams


This Week’s DVD Releases

The Vietnam War [Ken Burns PBS Documentary]

Wonder Woman [Diana Discovers Her Powers and Her Destiny]

The Big Sick [An Awkward True Story]

The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson: Johnny & Friends [10 DVD Set]

Empire: Season 3 [Their Reign. Their Rules]

Germans & Jews [History Is the Memory of a People]

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie [A Tighty-Whitey Superhero]

The Hero [Western Icon Makes a Comeback]

The Stopover [French GIs Unwind in Cyprus after Serving in Afghanistan]

Glory [Bulgarian Blue-Collar Drama]


Honorable Mention

Hana-Bi [Newly-Restored Japanese Yakuza Masterpiece]

Love by the 10th Date [The Race Is On for Real Love]

The Heart Guy: Series 1 [His Life Just Skipped a Beat]

This Is Us: Season 1 [This Is Cool. This Is Love. This Is Life]

Iron Protector [A Classic Martial Arts Beatdown]

Blaze and the Monster Machines [Wild Wheels Escape to Animal Island]

Chicago Justice: Season 1 [State Prosecutor's Relentless Pursuit of Justice]

Chicago Med: Season 2 [Lives Are on the Line at Busy Trauma Center]

Chicago P.D.: Season 4 [Crack Intelligence Unit Tackles Tough Cases]

Chicago Fire: Season 5 [Firehouse 51 Confronts Explosive Issues]

Body of Deceit [Lust, Love, Murder]

Odd Squad Villains [Best of the Worst]

Friday, September 15, 2017

The Tiger Hunter



Film Review by Kam Williams

Indian Immigrant Opts for Love over American Dream in Charming Romantic Comedy

Sami Malik (Danny Pudi) has had a crush on Ruby Iqbal (Karen David) for as long as he can remember. The lifelong friends were raised in the same village where both of their fathers were pillars of the community. His dad (Kay Kay Menon) was a celebrated tiger hunter, while hers (Iqbal Theba) was a highly-decorated general in the army. 
 
Sami, who has recently completed his degree in engineering, only wants two things out of life: a successful career and to tie the knot with Ruby. She wants to marry him, too, so you'd think that walking down the aisle would be as simple as pie for them. Think again. 
 
Trouble is, we're talking about India in 1979, a time when most marriages were still arranged. And General Iqbal has made it clear to Sami that he will only surrender his daughter's hand after the young lad has not only moved to the U.S. but become gainfully employed there as an engineer, too.

So, with the help of Ruby (who sold her beloved yellow moped) and many of their neighbors, Sami soon raised enough to relocate to Chicago, where he'd been offered a position with an engineering firm. However, only after arriving in the States was he informed by the sassy sister in Human Resources (Patricia Belcher) that he was being hired as a draftsman and at a much lower salary than that of an engineer. 
 
To add insult to injury, he's mugged on the street right after politely declining the bait-and-switch demotion. Suddenly broke and homeless, Sami thanks his lucky stars to be befriended by Babu (Rizwan Manji), a Pakistani who came to the country a year ago . 
 
Next thing you know, Sami reluctantly moves into the tiny apartment the affable stranger shares with about a dozen, other Southeast Asian immigrants. And after hearing how they're all underemployed, he just as grudgingly accepts a gig that's way beneath him. That doesn't bode well for his relationship with Ruby, And the plot thickens when she and her demanding dad arrive in the country expecting to find Sami faring far better. 
 
Thus unfolds The Tiger Hunter, a charming romantic comedy marking the marvelous directorial debut of UCLA Film School Grad Lena Khan. Lena also co-wrote the relentlessly-funny script that's so convincingly executed by its talented cast that the picture keeps you in stitches from beginning to end. 
 
A lighthearted look at the pursuit of the elusive American Dream from the perspective of a lovesick expat from the Subcontinent. 

 
Excellent (4 stars)
Unrated
Running time: 94 minutes
Production Studio: Sneaky Sneaky Films
Distributor: Shout! Factory Films


To see a trailer for The Tiger Hunter, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SiUzXKFfkE8

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Kam's Kapsules for movies opening September 22, 2017

 
Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun
by Kam Williams


OPENING THIS WEEK

BIG BUDGET FILMS

Kingsman: The Golden Circle (R for graphic violence, drug use, sexuality and pervasive profanity) Colin Firth returns in this action-oriented sequel which finds the British spy (Colin Firth) miraculously revived and heading to the U.S. to join forces with his American counterparts en route to a showdown with a ruthless crime syndicate. A-list ensemble includes Oscar-winners Firth, Halle Berry, Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore, as well as Channing Tatum, Vinnie Jones and Sir Elton John.

The LEGO Ninjago Movie (PG for mild action and rude humor) Third feature in the animated franchise revolves around a teased high school student (Dave Franco) who forges a formidable team of teen ninjas to topple an evil warlord (Justin Theroux) who just happens to be his long-lost father. Voice cast includes Jackie Chan, Olivia Munn, Michael Pena, Fred Armisen and Zach Woods, with cameos by Michael Strahan and Robin Roberts as themselves.


INDEPENDENT & FOREIGN FILMS

Battle of the Sexes (PG-13 for sexuality and partial nudity) Tennis docudrama recreating the 1973 match between reigning champion Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) and 55 year-old hustler Bobby Riggs, a trash-talking misogynist who created a media circus by boasting he could beat the best female player in the world. With Sarah Silverman, Elisabeth Shue and Bill Pullman.

Bobbi Jene (Unrated) Warts and all biopic chronicling the questionable career choices of Bobbi Jene Smith, the American, modern dance star who abandoned her devoted boyfriend (Or Schraiber) as well as a prominent position in Israel's prestigious Batsheva Company to pursue a solo career back in the States.

Hong Kong Trilogy: Preschooled, Preoccupied, Preposterous (Unrated) Inter-generational documentary painting a cultural portrait of Hong Kong via compelling interviews conducted over the course of a year with 100+ citizens of all ages (In Cantonese, Mandarin and English with subtitles)

The King's Choice (Unrated) World War II docudrama, revisiting Norway monarch Haakon VII's (Jesper Christensen) pivotal decision on April 9, 1940 to resist rather than capitulate to the invading Nazi army. With Anders Baasmo Christiansen, Karl Markovics and Tuva Novotny. (In Norwegian, German, Danish and Swedish with subtitles)

Loving Vincent (PG-13 for violence, mature themes, sexuality and smoking) Robert Gulaczyk plays Vincent Van Gogh in this reverential biopic exploring the eccentric artist's life and mysterious death. With Saoirse Ronan, Chris O'Dowd and Jerome Flynn.

Stronger (R for pervasive profanity, gruesome images and brief nudity and sexuality) Inspirational biopic chronicling the injury and recovery of Jeff Bauman (Jake Gyllenhaal), a spectator who had both of his legs blown off by a terrorist blast while waiting for his fiancee (Tatiana Maslany) to finish the 2013 Boston Marathon. Supporting cast includes Miranda Richardson, Patty O'Neil and Nate Richman.

The Tiger Hunter (Unrated) Romantic comedy, set in Chicago in the Seventies, about a disenchanted Indian immigrant (Danny Pudi) who abandons his pursuit of the American Dream to chase his childhood sweetheart (Karen David). Featuring Rizwan Manji, Jon Heder and Kevin Pollak.

Victoria and Abdul (PG-13 for profanity and mature themes) Adaptation of Shrabani Basu's best seller chronicling the unlikely friendship forged between an aging Queen Victoria (Judy Dench) and her 24 year-old, Indian servant (Ali Fazal). With Eddie Izzard, Olivia Williams and Michael Gambon. (In English, Hindi and Urdu with subtitles)

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The Seven Commandments for Happiness and Prosperity




 SEVEN COMMANDMENTS FOR HAPPINESS AND PROSPERITY
When Shari Sharifi Brown enters a room one immediately senses a unique presence, an intuitive sense that  the joy within her is the infallible sign of the presence of God.  
Why 7  Commandments when we all have been taught there were 10 Commandments.  Because in fact Shari has created an active faith  formula to enable those who are confused and overwhelmed by the task of reading scripture (any scripture, the Old and New Testament excluding the Qur’an ) that there are only really  7  when you eliminate repetition and redundancy. Her vision is a phenomenal new tool to  help us better understand scripture to enable us to pray more often, thereby enhancing our personal faith in God, which would increase happiness, which in return  increases  our odds at achieve prosperity. It’s a formula that only someone with Shari’s unique background and outstanding abilities  could arrive at that make her a definitive  authority on both science and spirituality.   
The perfect trifecta for today’s world, Shari is part Muslim (born) Christian (converted) and Jewish American (married) and the author a provocative new book SEVEN COMMANDMENTS FOR HAPPINESS AND PROSPERITY  which challenges the reader to re-see the world with more tolerant eyes. Blessed by universal wisdom, she is proof of  living all three of the Abrahamic religions which has given her a profound understanding of their innate compatibility. She has absorbed the great prophets of Einstein, Mohammed, Moses and Jesus, and so her book is a testament to her lifetime of studying all three major religions to make us whole and secure. Understanding the similarities of the three outweigh the differences. Wisdom is searching not only the roots of our past, but the roots of our future, that humanity prospers. Shari’s  book seeks nothing less than a global shift in consciousness and perspectives of the human condition and current needs
Understanding God takes tolerance: as a  religious scholar,  Shari’s book clearly illustrates that the Quran and Islam regard Jews and Christians as children of Abraham:  first the Jews through the prophet Moses and then to Christians through the prophet Jesus. They recognize many of the same biblical prophets, in particular Moses and Jesus, and those are common Muslim names. Another common Muslim name is Mary. In fact, the Virgin Mary's name occurs more times in the Quran than in the New Testament; Muslims also believe in the virgin birth of Jesus. However, they believe that over time the original revelations to Moses and Jesus became corrupted. The Old Testament is seen as a mixture of God's revelation and human fabrication. The same is true for the New Testament and what Muslims see as Christianity's development of "new" and erroneous doctrines such as  Jesus is the Son of God and that Jesus' death redeemed and atoned for humankind's original sin.
There are, of course, great similarities between the world’s two largest religions. Both point to a holy book, allegedly inspired by God, for faith and practice. Both call for high moral standards and serious personal commitment. Both share common traditions, since Muhammad learned from Jews as well as Christians. And both have a vision to spread their faith around the world.
Shari emphasizes that it is important that each faith is represented fairly and that each faith stands on its own merits, that Christianity is not judged for not being Islam and Islam not portrayed as  deficient when compared with Christianity. They are different with similarities or similar with differences, we can and should acknowledge both and not make what is different difficult. Shari explores Christian Muslim identity and explains  the differences creatively, and, of course, positively. True Christians and Muslims are not a threat to each other.  By consolidating the 19 total commandments from all 3 major world religions into 7 Commandments that embrace all 3, Shari creates a “Faith Formula” to bridge the human to human divide. The focus shifts from perceived spiritual and religious differences to what we have in common, and how focusing on these 7 commandments along with the habit of positive praying begets happiness.
Born and raised  in Iran, Shari completed her engineering studies at Harvard University in Tehran. In 1967, Shari immigrated to America and ever since been on a roll: currently President of TransGlobal Consulting Engineering Corp. Shari was employed as a structural engineer by the prestigious international engineering company Ralph M Parsons, Pasadena California from May 1974 to September 1976.  She was assigned to work on the underground building  called "SarCheshmeh , the  secret nuclear project for the Iranian government because she was able to bridge an understanding between the two countries. Her requirements to fulfill were very specific: design and analyze various steel-reinforced concrete structures to make them impenetrable from any bunker-busting bombs or crazed suicide-bombers. While there was absolutely no harness on her budgets, her sound engineering abilities assured that the beams, columns, slabs and footings met all the rigid American ACI 318-71 code specifications which virtually guaranteed they were fail safe. Shari is very empathic that the Americans are incomparably the best engineers in the world, and that the Iranians are at least 32 years behind as far as science and technology is concerned.
Shari converted to Christianity in 1998.  For Shari, success and spirituality are two sides of a coin: a balance of both sides of  life’s path, Shari says “It is not the clothes we wear or the cars we drive, or a dry empty rhetoric we belch, nor is it the churches we attend that gives us spirituality, happiness and prosperity”.  In the pendulum of existence, spirituality gives us a oneness with God that will lighten the darkest of days. Without spirituality and faithfulness to prayer , we erect an iron curtain around the soul.  Following Shari’s  Seven Commandments and her prescription for positive prayer  will help handle life’s difficulties with  optimism, happiness, and faith, encouraging one’s life and  soul to prosper.  In the dark of night, listen to yourself and in that quietude you might hear the voice of God.
The great gift of Shari’s new book The Seven Commandments for Happiness and Prosperity is that  one learns the power of positive praying because prayer begets happiness and prosperity. Shari’s life is proof positive that her faith formula works.
Extraordinary women are usually married to extraordinary men. Shari’s spouse is the legendary Edward G. Brown, Record and TV producer, songwriter, restaurant and nightclub owner, a founder of banks and a real estate developer, a financial manager and co-owner of the Cohen-Brown Management Company with clients in over 50 countries and 12 languages. Shari and Mr. Brown live in Malibu and have a Penthouse on the Wilshire corridor.
Media Contact, Ilene Proctor
310-858-6643 Cell: +1 310-721-2336
Skype: ilene.proctor1