Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Kam's Movie Kapsules for 10-10-14



OPENING THIS WEEK
Kam's Kapsules:      
Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun         
by Kam Williams
For movies opening October 10, 2014


BIG BUDGET FILMS   

Addicted (R for nudity, profanity, graphic sexuality and brief drug use) Screen adaptation of Zane’s explicit page-turner about a successful businesswoman (Sharon Leal) who repeatedly risks losing her family and career in the pursuit of forbidden pleasures.  Cast includes Boris Kodjoe, Tasha Smith, Tyson Beckford and William Levy.

Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day (PG for crude humor, reckless behavior and mild epithets) Disney adaptation of the children’s book of the same name about a calamitous day in the life of an overwhelmed 11 year-old (Ed Oxenbould). With Steve Carell, Jennifer Garner and Dylan Minnette. 

Dracula Untold (PG-13 for intense violence, disturbing images and some sensuality) Origins horror tale about the Transylvanian prince (Luke Evans) who would one day morph into a mythological demon with an unquenchable thirst for human blood. With Dominic Cooper, Sarah Gadon and Charles Dance.
 
The Judge (R for profanity and sexual references) Crime drama about a big city lawyer (Robert Downey, Jr.) who returns to his tiny Indiana hometown for his mother’s funeral only to end up defending his estranged father (Robert Duvall) accused of murder by an overzealous prosecutor (Billy Bob Thornton). With Vera Farmiga, Dax Shepard and Leighton Meester. 

Kill the Messenger (R for profanity and drug use) Jeremy Renner delivers an Oscar-quality performance in this true tale recounting the valiant effort of an intrepid journalist to expose the CIA’s role in infesting inner city neighborhoods across the country with crack cocaine. A-list ensemble cast includes Ray Liotta, Barry Pepper, Tim Blake Nelson, Andy Garcia, Oliver Platt, Rosemarie DeWitt, Michael Sheen, Robert Patrick, Paz Vega, Michael K. Williams and Mary Elizabeth Winstead.

Whiplash (R for profanity and some sexual references) Wunderkind Damien Chazelle wrote and directed this semi-autobiographical drama which won both the Audience Award and Grand Jury Prize at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Coming-of-age drama revolves around the strained relationship of a promising, young jazz drummer (Miles Teller) and his perfectionist, studio band teacher (J.K. Simmons). With Melissa Benoist, Paul Reiser and Austin Stowell.    


INDEPENDENT & FOREIGN FILMS 


Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead (R for profanity, sexual references, graphic violence and pervasive gore) Horror sequel finds Norway invaded by another battalion of nasty Nazi zombies. Co-starring Vegar Hoel, Orjan Gamst, Ingrid Haas, Jocelyn DeBoer and Martin Starr. (In Norwegian, English and German with subtitles)

I Am Ali (PG for mature themes and mild epithets) Reverential biopic about Muhammad Ali as revealed by his personal archives and confirmed by the reflections of many friends, family and fellow boxers. Featuring commentary by George Foreman, Mike Tyson and NFL great Jim Brown.  

Kite (R for sexuality, drug use, grisly images and pervasive graphic violence) Revenge thriller about a young orphan-turned-merciless assassin (India Eisley) who tracks down her parents’ killer with the help of her police officer father’s former partner (Samuel L. Jackson). With Callan McAuliffe, Carl Beukes and DeVille Vannik.  

One Chance (PG-13 for profanity and sexuality) Overcoming-the-odds musical recounting the real-life exploits of Paul Potts (James Corden), an aspiring opera singer who went from nerdy underdog to serious contender as a contestant on the reality-TV series “Britain’s Got Talent.” With Alexandra Roach, Julie Walters and Colm Meaney.     

The Overnighters (PG-13 for mature themes and brief profanity) Dream deferred
documentary chronicling the generosity of a Christ-like pastor who opened up his church to alleviate the suffering of over 1,000 oil workers unable to find affordable housing in North Dakota.

St. Vincent (PG-13 for sexuality, profanity, smoking, mature themes and substance abuse) Bill Murray plays the title role in this unlikely buddies comedy as an alcoholic misanthrope who befriends the pint-sized son (Jaeden Lieberher) of the divorcee (Melissa McCarthy) next door. With Naomi Watts, Chris O’Dowd and Terrence Howard.    

Stuck (Unrated) Gridlock dramedy about a couple (Madeline Zima and Joel David Moore) forced to get to know each other while stuck in traffic the morning after sharing a passionate one-night stand. Support cast includes Abraham Benrubi, Logan Agayan and Gaby Alcazar.

Waiting for August (Unrated) Child abuse documentary, set in Bacau, Romania, revolving around a 14 year-old girl left in charge of her half-dozen siblings while their migrant worker mother spends the winter and spring employed elsewhere. (In Romanian with subtitles)

You’re Not You (R for sexuality, profanity and drug use) Bittersweet drama about the unlikely bond forged between a classical pianist (Hilary Swank) with ALS and the brash, aspiring rock singer (Emmy Rossum) hired as her caretaker. With Ali Larter, Josh Duhamel, Marcia Gay Harden, Ernie Hudson and Frances Fisher.

Monday, September 29, 2014

How the Poor Can Save Capitalism (BOOK REVIEW)



For photo of the author, see attachment

How the Poor Can Save Capitalism
Rebuilding the Path to the Middle Class
by John Hope Bryant  
Foreword by Ambassador Andrew Young
Berrett-Koehler Publishers
Hardcover, $24.95                                                                     
174 pages
ISBN: 978-1-4696-1800-5

Book Review by Kam Williams
           
“This book is about saving America and returning her to her original promise, her original founding ideas and ideals. It is about planting, nurturing, and growing a sustainable middle class… This 21st C. definition  of freedom is expressed as self-determination—the opportunity that comes from one’s own hands and one’s own bold ideas connected to action, personal risk, personal investment, and hard work.
This book is about creating a new, sustainable business plan that returns this country to its original big, bold, audacious dream… This idea is both utterly liberal and the very definition of conservative at the same time.”   
Excerpted from the Introduction (page 7)

It’s no secret that, by most measures, black folks are the only ethnic group that’s far worse off than it was before Barack Obama took office. Whether you’re talking home ownership, unemployment, high school graduation, wages, access to healthcare, net worth, retirement savings, college attendance, financial aid or consumer debt, African-Americans have experienced a dispiriting downward mobility. So much for hope and change.
 Rather than risk offending the Obamapologists permit me to quickly add that stonewalling Republicans in congress are as much to blame for the skyrocketing black misery index. Nevertheless, not to worry. Before you plunge into the depths of despair, I have good news to report.
For a man has arrived with an answer for the crisis in John Hope Bryant, with an emphasis on Hope. Mr. Bryant, who is the Chairman of the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability, has written a self-help book with the controversial title: How the Poor Can Save Capitalism. He is also the co-founder of the Gallup HOPE Index, the only national opinion poll which measures the financial dignity and economic energy of America’s youth.
The focus of his timely tome, however, is giving impoverished people a helping hand. His plan might be thought of as akin to the micro-finance model implanted around the world by Nobel Peace Prize-winner Dr. Muhammad Yunus. Mr. Bryant see the woes of those stuck in cycles of poverty as having as much to do with self-esteem, depression and values as being broke and/or jobless.
And the solution he envisions is what he terms the fifth “big bang,” namely, “the unleashing of empowered human capital.” The goal under this theory is for each individual to become “the CEO on you.” Weighing in a little heavier on pep talks than practical solutions, the opus struck me like an extended motivational speech offering little more than “hope” to gullible ghetto dwellers still waiting for the change promised way back in 2008.
            Where’s the beef?


To order a copy of How the Poor Can Save Capitalism, visit: 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Laurence Fishburne (INTERVIEW)



Laurence Fishburne
The “Black-ish” Interview
with Kam Williams

Fishburne Baby Fishburne!

Laurence J. Fishburne, III has achieved an impressive body of work as an actor, producer and director. Starting at the age of 10, Laurence starred on the soap opera "One Life to Live." He made his feature film debut at age 12 in "Cornbread, Earl and Me" and followed that up a few years later with "Apocalypse Now."

His television performances include "The Box" episode of "Tribeca" which earned him an Emmy award and "Thurgood," which earned him an Emmy nomination. He starred for three seasons on the hit series "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" and he was an Emmy Award nominee and an NAACP Image Award winner for his starring role in the telefilm "Miss Evers' Boys," which he executive-produced. And he can currently be seen alongside Hugh Dancy and Mads Mikkelsen in the NBC thriller series "Hannibal."

Through his production company, Cinema Gypsy, Laurence is scheduled to executive-produce and star in "The Right Mistake," a dramatic television series for HBO. The company also made the movies "Akeelah and the Bee," "Five Fingers" and "Once in the Life."

Among his many film credits are "Boyz n the Hood," "A Rumor of War," "The Color Purple," "The Matrix" trilogy, "Decoration Day" and "The Tuskegee Airmen," for which he received an NAACP Image Award. Laurence also won the Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, Theatre World, and Tony Awards for his portrayal of Sterling Johnson in August Wilson's "Two Trains Running." In 2006. he reteamed with his frequent acting partner Angela Bassett at The Pasadena Playhouse in August Wilson's "Fences." directed by Samuel Epps.

Here, he talks about playing Pops on the new TV sitcom, “Black-ish.”

Kam Williams: Hi Laurence, I’m honored to have another opportunity to speak with you.
Laurence Fishburne: Thank you, Kam. It’s good to hear your voice. 

KW: I told my readers I’d be interviewing you, so I’m mixing in their questions with my own. Aaron Moyne asks: What inspired the title Black-ish?
LF: Ah, the title came from Kenya Barris, our writer/creator. It’s like “squeamish” or “Jewish” or other “ish” terms like that.

KW: Editor Lisa Loving says: Why this show? Why now? And Harriet Pakula-Teweles says: What was “intrigue-ish” about doing this show?
LF: What was intriguing to me, first of all, was that it’s comedy, which is something I don’t do a lot of. I’ve wanted to do comedy for a while, and the elements of this show fit. They really made sense in terms of my doing a comedy basically about a well-to-do black family with children of privilege, living in modern America, in our Digital Age. I can relate to what all of that means and how we have to navigate it. So, that’s the why and the where.   

KW: How would you describe your character, Pops, in 25 words or less?
LF: [Chuckles] I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t describe my character Pops in 25 words or less.

KW: Director Rel Dowdell says: You've presented some of the most memorable images of African-American men at either end of the spectrum with "Furious Styles" from "Boyz N the Hood" and Ike Turner from "What's Love Got to Do with It?" Is it difficult to portray characters that are so different in persona and morality, and do you have a preference?
LF: I don’t have a preference. The wonderful thing about what I do is being able to run the gamut. It’s never the same. I don’t get excited about the idea of playing the same person all the time. I do get excited about being able to explore different people and different characters, and using my range, as it were.

KW: Professor/Filmmaker/editor Hisani Dubose says: Please ask the wonderful Mr. Fishburne why he decided to do comedy. He's such a great actor that I'm sure he'll pull it off.
LF: Because I haven’t done much of it and because a lot of people don’t know that I actually can be quite funny. Plus, I feel that the context of the show, the timing of everything, and my wonderful cast mates, Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross, all added up to the perfect combination of ingredients. It just makes sense at this time. And actors should be able to do both comedy and drama. At least the good ones.

KW: Attorney Bernadette Beekman asks: Do you get to ad-lib on the show?
LF: Yes, we do.

KW: Shelley Evans asks: Is it any easier for African-American actors to land parts on television and web series these days?
LF: Well, it’s certainly easier than it was 30 years ago! [LOL]

KW: Sangeetha Subram asks: Do you think diversity has improved on television over the years? There is still so much more to do, but is there anything the general public can do to campaign for more authentic diverse images being represented?
LF: I think that if the general public would use that social media tool to express their desire to see a more authentic and genuine representation of what the American family looks like, then that would be helpful.

KW: Editor/Legist Patricia Turnier says: I have a high respect for you as an actor for decades and I was blown away to discover even more your high-caliber when you performed the role of Thurgood Marshall for the play. My question is what does Marshall represent to you and how did you prepare for the role?
LF: Thurgood Marshall represents so much to many different people. For me, he really came to represent not just the courage that African-Americans have had to have in the face of discrimination and racism, but the courage that was borne out of the love that he received from his family, his community, his educators and his classmates. Everything he did was borne out of that love and support that was given to him. He also went into the lion’s den not only with great courage but with great humor. So, he’s really a towering figure in our history.

KW: Is there another historical figure you would like to portray?
LF: I’m sure there are many, but I couldn’t pick just one right now.

KW: D.V. Brooks says: Mr. Fishburne, having become one of our esteemed elders in the performing arts and public figures what advice would you like to pass on to the upcoming generation of writers, actors, producers and directors of color in continuing the legacy of such individuals such as  Ruby Dee, Amiri Baraka, August Wilson and others like yourself?
LF: The real answer to that is that when I see those young people I will give that advice to them. It is for them and for them only.

KW: D.V. also says: You and I share an experience from our youth: the Model Cities summer programs. What did that experience, along with the support of your parents, Laurence, Sr. and Hattie, instill in you as an artist?  
LF: The Model Cities experience didn’t really inform me as an artist as much as it informed me as a human being. It was a very safe place to be, and I came away from that experience with a lot more confidence in myself as a person.  

KW: Marcia Evans says: Kam, you must use my questions and comments.  Please start off by letting Laurence know that I've followed his career since One Life to Live. Let him know that I'm a huge fan of his work, especially the amazing performance he honored us playing Socrates Fortlow in “Always Outnumbered" That blew me away. I went thru a box of tissues that night. Thank him for me because he really brought it.
LF: Thank you, Marcia.

KW: She goes on to say: I know his lovely wife Gina Torres has Cuban roots. I wonder if he's had the pleasure to visit Cuba as yet.
LF: No I haven’t been to Cuba yet.

KW: She also says: I'm aware he is a music lover and I’d like to know whether he digs Cuban vibes.
LF: I love Cuban music.

KW: Next, she asks: What are your favorite countries to visit?
LF: Goodness! I love Morocco. I love Italy. I love Spain. And I love Tahiti.

KW: Finally, Marcia suggests: They should make a film about Hannibal, and cast you, Mr. Laurence Fishburne, in the title role. You’d make a splendid Hannibal!
LF: That’s very kind, Marcia. Thank you very much!

KW: Is there any question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would?
LF: No. [Chuckles]

KW: The bookworm Troy Johnson question: What was the last book you read?
LF: The last book I read would be right here on my Kindle. It’s called “Perfect Brilliant Stillness.”

KW: What is your favorite dish to cook?
LF: I enjoy making Arroz con Pollo for my wife.

KW: Thanks again for the time, Laurence. I really appreciate it. And best of luck with Black-ish.
LF: You’re welcome and thanks, Kam.

To see a trailer for Black-ish, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JNqqjDv6_dU

Plastic (FILM REVIEW)



Plastic
Film Review by Kam Williams

Brit Hackers Hustle Gangster in High Octane, High Body Count Heist

            Sometimes, a film unfolds so fast and furiously that it’s hard to keep score. Such is the case with Plastic, a high-octane, high body count affair following the antics of a stolen credit card ring run by a brilliant and brazen computer hacker named Sam (Ed Speelers).
The movie opens with one of those “Based on a True Story” (google Saq Mumtaz) which might mean that what you’re about to see is the cinematic culmination of painstakingly-researched historical fact. However, it’s could just as easily be serving as a disclaimer designed to sucker you into believing a farfetched story since, well, somebody once said it happened.
I suspect that this tall tale belongs in the latter category. Regardless, I suppose all that matters in the end is whether the picture has any entertainment value. Plastic does throw a lot of testosterone-directed gore and sensuality at you, but not much for anyone outside of the eroticized violence demographic.
The fun starts when the gang of four steals the identity of Marcel (Thomas Kretschmann) to the tune of a couple hundred thousand pounds. Boy, does this sadistic gangster know how to hold a grudge. Soon enough, he turns the tables and has the college student punks promising to pay him back ten times the amount they stole, plus interest. 
 High-stylized piffle designed to titillate and satiate bloodlust while slowly turning your brain to mush! 

Fair (1 star)
Rated R for sexuality, nudity, drug use, graphic violence and pervasive profanity 
Running time: 102 minutes
Distributor: Arc Entertainment

To see a trailer for Plastic, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6qJU5VtIVg       

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Advanced Style (FILM REVIEW)



Advanced Style
Film Review by Kam Williams

Iconoclastic Doc Focuses Lens on Ageless Fashion Plates

We live in a culture which unfortunately equates beauty with youth. Why else are so many women to make a joke of their own faces so long as the skin remains as tight as a ten year old’s? As the late Joan Rivers, a big fan of cosmetic surgery, might ask: Can we talk?
For, flying in the face of this conventional wisdom is Ari Seth Cohen, a street photographer who roams around Manhattan looking for flamboyant elderly females to capture with his camera. He even has a blog, Advanced Style (http://advancedstyle.blogspot.com/) dedicated to portraits of these classy ladies ranging in age from 60 to 95.
The website generated so much interest that we now have Advanced Style, the movie, a documentary featuring some of his most attractive subjects. The picture marks the “Fabulous!” directorial of Lina Plioplyte who makes quite the splash simply by shedding light on seven, ageless fashion plates.
There’s Jackie Tajah Murdock, 81, who was a dancer at the Apollo during the famed theater’s heydays, and Lynn Dell Cohen, 80, the self-proclaimed “Countess of Glamour.” The baby of the group is Tziporah Salamon, 62 who rides around the city on a pimped-out bicycle. And at the other extreme we have the group’s elder stateswoman, Zelda Kaplan, 95, who has a good sense of humor about being a little addlepated.
Rounding out the crew are Ilona Royce Smithkin, 93; Joyce Carpati, 80; and Deborah Rapoport, 67. What they all seem to share is an infectious zest for life and for looking their best that they can’t help but share with anyone they meet. Ostensibly for the sake of a plot, the picture inexorably works its way to the ladies being feted, whether they’re landing a contract with Lanvin, making an appearance on Ricki Lake’s TV talk show, or just strutting their stuff during Fashion Week.
But it all seems secondary to the obvious fact that natural aging lines can look every bit as good if not better than Botox and face lifts. The best antidote around to America’s unhealthy obsession with youth!

Excellent (3.5 stars)
Unrated
Running time: 72 minutes
Distributor: Bond360

To see a trailer for Advanced Style, visit:

Believe Me (FILM REVIEW)


Believe Me
Film Review by Kam Williams


Collegians Form Fake Charity to Fleece Gullible Christians in Faith-Based Morality Play

            Even though I was raised in the church and attended services religiously as a child, I was simultaneously warned by my skeptical grandmother that sometimes, “The closer supposedly to Christ, the further from God.” That sage old saying came to mind while watching Believe Me, an intriguing modern morality play written and directed by Will Bakke (Beware of Christians).
               The story revolves around the ethical issues confronting Sam Atwell (Alex Russell), a law school-bound college senior, or at least he thought. Trouble is, his parents suddenly can’t afford to pay his final semester’s tuition which means he won’t be able to graduate on time or continue his education the following fall.
This is the predicament we find the handsome upperclassman facing at the picture’s point of departure, a time when he’d really rather be hazing pledges to his fraternity and hooking up with cute coeds he meets at keg parties. And after a futile visit with the unsympathetic school dean (Nick Offerman), Sam knows he simply has to come up with the $9,000 somehow, if he wants to get that degree in June.
Thinking outside the box, he concocts an elaborate scheme to separate gullible Evangelicals from their cash, figuring them to be a soft touch. So, he enlists the assistance of a few of his frat brothers in the nefarious endeavor, namely, Pierce (Miles Fisher), Tyler (Sinqua Wells) and Baker (Max Adler).
The plan is to prevail upon Born Again congregations by posing as a Christian charity assisting needy children in Africa. In due course, Sam proves to be such a good pitchman that the money starts flooding in.
That development is not lost on Ken (Christopher McDonald), a faith-oriented entrepreneur who offers to help take the boys’ burgeoning business to the next level. Soon, as the God Squad, they’re on the prayer meeting tent circuit and selling a Christian clothing line called Cross Dressing that includes “F-Satan” t-shirts and the like.
However, the sinful scheme begins to unravel when they have no place to send a kid (Chester Rushing) who wants to do missionary work with them in Lesotho. And the moment of truth arrives when the pretty tour coordinator (Johanna Braddy) Sam’s just started dating is given proof by a colleague (Zachary Knighton) that her new beau is a big fraud.
At this juncture, the jig is essentially up, whether or not the arrogant co-conspirators are too blinded by a combination of cynicism and greed to confess to the crime. After all, they’d taken such glee in exploiting foolish followers of Christ by strategically faking everything from appropriately-pious poses to the right religious buzzwords.

A thought-provoking, faith-based parable asking whether it’s ever too late to make a second impression, especially on God.

Excellent (4 stars)
Rated PG-13 for profanity
Running time: 93 minutes
Studio: Riot Studios / Lascaux Films
Distributor: Headline Features / Gravitas Features

To see a trailer for Believe Me, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=emdGSSHujyo   

Friday, September 26, 2014

Top Ten DVD Releases for 9-30-14



This Week’s DVD Releases
by Kam Williams


Top Ten DVD List for September 30, 2014                      

Chef

Agatha Christie’s Marple: Series Six


Daniel Boone: The Complete Series

Ivory Tower

Enemy of the Reich

The Field of Blood: Set One

I Know What You Did Last Summer

The Fidel Castro Tapes

Defiance: Season Two


My Little Pony: The Complete Series




Honorable Mention

Reign: The Complete First Season

Martin Clunes’ Wild Life


Blue Thunder

Brooklyn Ninety-Nine: Season One

Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story


Al Capone: Icon

Transformers: Age of Extinction

Monster High: Freaky Fusion

Team Hot Wheels: The Origin of Awesome!


Time Team America

Third Person

Sordid Lives

American Muscle

Krull

The Paranormal Diaries: Clophill

Thunder and the House of Magic