Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Kam's Kapsules for Movies Opening 8-5-16

by Kam Williams

Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun
OPENING THIS WEEK


BIG BUDGET FILMS

Nine Lives (PG for profanity, rude humor and mature themes) Kiddie comedy revolving around a narcissistic, real estate tycoon (Kevin Spacey) who mysteriously finds himself trapped in the body of the cat he's just bought as a last-minute birthday present for his neglected, 11 year-old daughter (Malina Weissman). With Jennifer Garner, Christopher Walken and Robbie Amell.

Suicide Squad (PG-13 for profanity, suggestive content, disturbing behavior and pervasive action and violence) Adaptation of the DC Comics superhero series about a team of convicts recruited by the government yo conduct dangerous missions in exchange for clemency. Ensemble includes Will Smith, Jared Leto, Ben Affleck, Viola Davis, Margot Robbie and Common.


INDEPENDENT & FOREIGN FILMS

Amateur Night (Unrated) A day in the life comedy about a cash-strapped architecture student (Jason Biggs) who reluctantly takes a gig chauffeuring call girls around town after learning that his wife (Jenny Mollen) is expecting a baby. With Ashley Tisdale, Janert Montgomery and Steven Woo.

Bazodee (Unrated) PG-13 for suggestive material and brief profanity) Bollywood-style romantic musical, set in Trinidad, revolving around an East Indian bride-to-be (Natalie Perera) who falls head-over-heels for a local soca singer (Machel Montano) hired to perform at her engagement party. Featuring Kabir Bedi, Staz Nair and Valmike Rampersad.

The Brooklyn Banker (R for violence and profanity) Fact-based mob saga about an ambitious banker (Troy Garity) who comes to regret allowing himself to be recruited by the Mafia. Cast includes Paul Sorvino, David Proval and Elizabeth Masucci.

Five Nights in Maine (Unrated) Character-driven drama revolving around a grieving widower's (David Oyelowo) visit to his estranged mother-in-law (Dianne Wiest) in the wake of the untimely death of his wife (Hani Furstenberg). With Teyonah Parris, Rosie Perez and Faith Fay.

Front Cover (Unrated) Bittersweet romantic dramedy, set in Manhattan, about an openly-gay fashion stylist (Jake Choi) who falls in love during a photo shoot with a supposedly-straight movie star (James Chen) from Beijing. Supporting cast includes Elizabeth Sung, Jennifer Neala Page and Ming Lee.

Little Men (PG for smoking, mature themes and mild epithets) Coming-of-age drama, set in Brooklyn, about a couple of teen BFFs (Theo Taplitz and Michael Barbieri) whose friendship is tested by the tension between their parents locked in a landlord-tenant battle over the rent. With Paulina Garcia, Greg Kinnear, Alfred Molina and Jennifer Ehle. (In English and Spanish with subtitles)

The Little Prince (PG for mature themes) Animated adaptation of Antoine de Saint-Exupery's beloved novella about an overprotected little girl (Mackenzie Foy) who is introduced to the wonders of the world by her eccentric, aviator next-door neighbor (Jeff Bridges). Voice cast includes Albert Brooks, Rachel McAdams, Paul Rudd, Marion Cotillard, James Franco, Benicio Del Toro, Ricky Gervaise and Paul Giamatti.

Olympic Pride, American Prejudice (Unrated) Reverential documentary recounting the exploits of the 18 African-American athletes who competed in the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin.

Richard Linklater: Dream Is Destiny (Unrated) Unabashed homage highlighting the life and career of the five-time, Oscar-nominated writer/director of Boyhood, Before Sunset and Before Midnight.

Sun Choke (Unrated) Suspense thriller about a woman (Sarah Hagan) recovering from a mental breakdown whose demons start to resurface when she develops an unhealthy obsession with a young stranger (Sara Malakul Lane). With Christina Amber, Derek Bevil and Jim Boeven.

The Tenth Man (Unrated) Prodigal Son drama about a Jew (Alan Sabbagh) who returns to Buenos Aires to reconcile with his estranged father (Usher Barilka) while exploring the cultural traditions that originally alienated them from each other. Support cast includes Julieta Zylberberg, Elvira Onetto and Uriel Rubin. (In Yiddish, Hebrew and Spanish with subtitles)

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Global Hillary

Book Review by Kam Williams

 
The Global Hillary
Women's Political Leadership in Cultural Contexts
by Dr. Dinesh Sharma
Routledge Press
Paperback, $52.95
222 pages
ISBN: 978-1-138829749

With Hillary Clinton's political rise to the presidency, we may have seen the emergence of women's rights as central to political discourse in the U.S. and around the world. Women's rights have indeed become human rights, to paraphrase Hillary Clinton's landmark speech in Beijing more than two decades ago...
This book deals with the nexus of women, development and democracy--as a post-Enlightenment, post-modern and global feminist project of the West--by focusing on the political leadership of one of the best-known women politicians the United States has produced in recent times...
We are principally interested in examining the role Hillary Clinton--as First Lady, Senator and Secretary of State--has played as a transformational figure in bridging women's development with democratic institutions in the developing and developed societies.”
-- Excerpted from Chapter One (pg. 2)

Now that she has been nominated by the Democratic Party as its candidate, Hillary Clinton is on the verge of making history as the first woman President of the United States. And while she has been constantly scrutinized by the media over the last couple of years, the subject of the focus has been fairly superficial.
The bulk of the day-to-day talk has been about Bengazi, her email and her standing in the polls. But precious little attention has been paid to Hillary's considerable achievements, especially those realized during her tenure as Secretary of State.
Voters interested in making an informed choice based on an in-depth analysis of the Clinton agenda, need look no further than "The Global Hillary: Women's Political Leadership in Cultural Contexts." This enlightening collection of essays by leading luminaries in fields ranging from psychology to political science was edited by Dinesh Sharma, Associate Research Professor at the Institute for Global Cultural Studies, SUNY Binghamton.
After publishing a couple of timely books about President Obama, "The Global Obama" and "Barack Obama in Hawai'i and Indonesia," Dr. Sharma again proves to have his finger on the pulse with this timely opus. Foremost among the topics explored is the "Hillary Doctrine" linking the subjugation of women to the deteriorating conditions in many countries around the globe. As Secretary Clinton herself observed, "It was no coincidence that that the places where women's lives were most undervalued largely lined up with the parts of the world most plagued by instability, conflict, extremism and poverty.
A revealing peek into the mind, motivations and likely agenda of the intelligent, inveterate feminist who just might be the 45th President of the United States.

To order a copy of The Global Hillary, visit:

 

Monday, July 25, 2016

Hollywood Beauty Salon

Film Review by Kam Williams


Inspirational Documentary Chronicles Camaraderie among Mental Health Patients at Philly Beauty Parlor


The Hollywood Beauty Salon is located in Germantown, PA, an area of Northwest Philly founded by settlers from Germany back in 1683. Today, the town is predominantly African-American as are most of the folks you'd meet at this unique establishment. 
 
What makes this hairdresser different is that its patrons and staff members are all in recovery from mental illness and/or dependence on drugs or alcohol. Shot over the course of four years, the movie chronicles the camaraderie among the cosmetologists and clientele, while simultaneously telescoping on the touching life stories of seven of the shop's regulars.

There's Rachel "Hollywood" Carr, the proprietor, a single mother of three who battled anxiety, depression and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder before becoming a Recovery Guide and a Certified Psychiatric Rehabilitation Practitioner. At the salon, she not only serves as a counselor but as a cosmetologist.

Rachel's protege "Butterfly," a recovering schizophrenic, exhibits considerable promise at braiding hair. The optimistic mother of three explains that she picked her nickname because she's begun to blossom after being in a cocoon marked by depression and paranoia. Still, she misses her murdered big brother and worries about an incarcerated son. 
 
65 year-old Edward, a college grad, recounts how, at 26, his life was derailed when he was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic. A classically-trained flautist, he nevertheless holds onto his dream of one day playing with a professional orchestra. 
 
The spa's second in command is Darlene, a survivor of child abuse who recounts how she was teased mercilessly growing up about her hair, her looks and for being in the foster care system. One of her customers is shown taking delight in being taught to read, while another proudly pronounces "I am not my symptoms, I am not my diagnosis."

The Hollywood Beauty Salon was directed by Glenn Holsten who is perhaps best known for another stellar documentary set in Philadelphia, The Barefoot Artist. He's done it again, here, with this moving collection of poignant personal portraits powerfully illustrating the utter indomitability of the human spirit.




Excellent (4 stars)
Unrated
Running time: 88 minutes
Studio: Glennfilms / FreshFly
Distributor: Paladin


To see a trailer for Hollywood Beauty Salon, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=meM7-w-Xf-U


Sunday, July 24, 2016

Joan Trumpauer Mulholland

The “She Stood for Freedom” Interview

with Kam Williams





Legendary Civil Rights Icon Reflects upon the Past as Prologue 

Joan Trumpauer Mulholland was a little girl in the 1950s. When she saw that black people were being treated differently from white people, she promised herself that she would do something to change that. As a teenager, she joined the Civil Rights Movement and protested the injustice she saw around her. 
 
During the 1960s, Joan attended many demonstrations and sit-ins, she protested at a Woolworth's lunch counter, and she participated in several organized marches, including the March on Washington with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 
 
Though she was threatened, arrested, and mocked, she held true to her promise to make the world a better place for everyone. "Anyone can make a difference," she says. "It doesn't matter how old or young you are. Find a problem, get some friends together, and go fix it. Remember, you don't have to change the world...just change your world." 
 
Here, Joan talks about “She Stood for Freedom,” an illustrated biography about her co-written by her son Loki and Angela Fairwell.



Kam Williams: Hi Joan, thanks for the interview. I want to begin by thanking you for your commitment to the Civil Rights Movement and for the sacrifices you made, risking not only your education and career, but life and limb.
Joan Trumpauer Mulholland: Thank you, Kam.

KW: How does it feel to have your son, Loki, write a book about you?
JTM: It's his project, and I'm in a supporting role for his efforts to reach young people about what has gone before and to inspire them to shape a better future. What is past is prologue.

KW: What message do you hope people will take away from it?
JTM: That they, too, can make a difference.

KW: What first interested you in the Civil Rights Movement?
JTM: I'd realized since grade school that segregation and prejudice were wrong. This was students my age trying to peacefully change things.

KW: Do you think you might have been a little naive about how difficult it would be to change the minds of white Southerners
JTM: No. I AM a white Southerner--these were my people. I'd grown up amongst them. I knew how they felt.

KW: How hard was it for you to adhere to SNCC, Dr. King and Gandhi's philosophy of non-violence in the face of the hostility with which you were met?
JTM: Non-violence was a no-brainer, in keeping with Christianity..."Turn the other cheek," "Love thy neighbor," etcetera. And I'm a Christian. Besides, if you fought back, you were hopelessly outnumbered and could be arrested for assault and battery.

KW: How did you feel when you were imprisoned on Death Row in Mississippi?
JTM: Death Row had great intimidation value, and the guards made sure you knew you were at their mercy--no reporters, lawyers only up from Jackson once a week, and so forth. On the other hand, it was certainly roomier, cleaner, more comfortable than the Hinds County Jail, and the food was better.

KW: What was it like being white but attending a black college and pledging a black sorority?
JTM: I was always a "minority," so college was nothing new. At first, some of the students were a bit uncertain about me, but when I returned for the second, I was just one of the crowd. Had to eat that old cafeteria food and study like everyone else.

KW: Who loved you unconditionally during your formative years?
JTM: My grandmothers.

KW: AALBC.com founder Troy Johnson asks: What was the last book you read?
JTM: Almost finished Vilhalmur Stefansson's 1942 book, "Greenland."
 

KW: What is your favorite dish to cook?
JTM: Red beans and rice. My five sons would ALWAYS eat it, and some still ask for it when they come to visit.

KW: What advice do you have for anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps?
JTM: Pick your issue, find a few like-minded folk, and just DO IT--non-violently.

KW: Thanks again for the time, Joan, and congratulations again on “She Stood for Freedom.”
JTM: My pleasure, Kam.


To order a copy of “She Stood for Freedom,” visit:

 

To order a copy of “She Stood for Freedom,” picture book edition for ages 4 to 8, visit:  

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Top Ten DVD List for 7-26-16

by Kam Williams


This Week’s DVD Releases

Pioneers of African-American Cinema

Killer Creature Features: 50 Movie Collection

Icons of Comedy: 50 Movie Collection

River
Barbershop: The Next Cut



Deadline-U.S.A.

Jack Irish: Season One

Baba Joon
Hardcore Henry


Honorable Mention

The Perfect Husband

Nature: Nature's Perfect Partners

Criminal

Nova: Operation Lighthouse Rescue

I Am Wrath

WordWorld: It's Time for School

The Travel Detective: Season Three

Secrets of the Dead: Teotihuacan's Lost Kings

Caillou Goes for the Gold


Thursday, July 21, 2016

Barbershop: The Next Cut

DVD Review by Kam Williams


Calvin and Company Get Real in Chicago


There's been a big change at Calvin's Barbershop since our last visit over a decade ago. The once-sacred male sanctuary has been converted to a unisex salon, and some feisty female employees have brought a new flava to the former man cave, including manager Angie (Regina Hall), flamboyant Draya (Nicki Minaj) and cynical Bree (Margot Bingham). 
 
Besides Ice Cube as Calvin, among the regulars reprising their roles are Jazmin Lewis as his wife, Eve as Terri, Cedric the Entertainer as Eddie, Anthony Anderson as J.D., Sean Patrick Harris as Jimmy, and Troy Garrity as Isaac. The cast also boasts a number of newcomers, most notably, scene-stealing J.B. Smoove as motor-mouthed One-Stop, Deon Cole as Dante, and Common whose character, Rashad, is married to Eve.

As the film unfolds, we're treated to a montage of file footage featuring Reverend Al Sharpton and Father Pfleger, as well as news stories about the uptick in drive-by shootings on the South Side of Chicago. The situation has left Calvin in a quandary about whether it might be wise to relocate the establishment to a safer section of the city. 
 
More importantly, he's worried about the safety of his adolescent son, Jalen (Michael Rainey, Jr.), despite the fact the boy is enrolled at Holy Cross Catholic School. For, on his way home, the kid has to negotiate his way through a gauntlet of gangstas pressuring him to join their ranks.

Meanwhile, street violence seems to claim another young person's life on a daily basis, with some of it hitting a little too close to home. This inspires Calvin to host a peace summit in a desperate attempt to negotiate a ceasefire between the bitter rivals, the Vice Lords and the G.D.s. 
 
Besides addressing the escalating murder rate, the picture does devote plenty of scenes to its trademark levity. One moment, we're treated to an old-fashioned battle-of-the-sexes. The next, there's a debate over President Obama's commitment to the black community. And the most comic relief comes courtesy of trash-talking One-Stop, who has an endless supply of market items for sale: nickel bags of weed to baby pit bulls to watermelon-flavored fried chicken. 
 
Directed by Malcolm Lee (The Best Man), Barbershop: The Next Cut proves to be a pleasant surprise in that it tones down the campy comedy in favor of a serious social agenda. Easily the best installment in the beloved franchise, a movie which manages to entertain while delivering a sobering message that's long overdue. 
 
Third time's a charm for Ice Cube & company!



Excellent (4 stars)
Rated PG-13 for profanity, ethnic slurs and sexuality
Running time: 112 minutes
Distributor: Warner Brothers Home Entertainment Group
Blu-ray Extras: Gag reel; deleted scenes; and The Next Cut: Barbershop Bootcamp.


To see a trailer for Barbershop: The Next Cut, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2vPDGStL4k


To order a copy of Barbershop: The Next Cut on Blu-ray, visit:
 

 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Kam's Kapsule for Movies Opening 7-29-16

OPENING THIS WEEK
Kam's Kapsules
Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun
by Kam Williams
For movies opening July 29, 2016

 
BIG BUDGET FILMS

Bad Moms (R for full frontal nudity, pervasive profanity, and drug and alcohol use) Female empowerment comedy about a trio of overstressed, burnt-out supermoms (Mila Kunis, Kathryn Hahn and Kristen Bell) in need of fun and freedom who embark on a self-indulgent binge of hedonistic partying. Cast includes Christina Applegate, Jada Pinkett Smith, Jay Hernandez and Kesha.

Cafe Society (PG-13 for violence, suggestive material, smoking and a drug reference) Woody Allen romantic dramedy, set in the 1930s, revolving around a New Yorker (Jesse Eisenberg) who relocates to Los Angeles hoping to work for his uncle (Steve Carell), only to fall in love with the powerful Hollywood agent's secretary (Kristen Stewart). With Sheryl Lee, Jeannie Berlin and Richard Portnow.

Jason Bourne (PG-13 for brief profanity and intense action and violence) 5th installment in the Robert Ludlum espionage series finds the amnesia-plagued protagonist (Matt Damon) uncovering truths about his past at a time when the planet is plunged into political instability. With Tommy Lee Jones, Alicia Vikander, Julia Stiles and Ato Essandoh.


INDEPENDENT & FOREIGN FILMS

Equity (R for pervasive profanity) High finance drama about an investment banker's (Anna Gunn) attempt to untangle a web of corruption in order to avoid the scandal that threatens to derail her career. With James Purefoy, Sarah Megan Thomas and Alysia Reiner.

Gleason (R for profanity) Uplifting documentary chronicling ex-NFL star Steve Gleason's inspirational battle with Lou Gehrig's disease.

Hieronymus Bosch: Touched by the Devil (Unrated) Reverential retrospective revisiting the work of Hieronymus Bosch (1450-1516), medieval artist famous for paintings illustrating the struggle between good and evil. (In Dutch, English, Spanish and Italian with subtitles)

Hollywood Beauty Salon (Unrated) Against-the-odds documentary about a beauty parlor located in Northwest Philly where both the clients and the staff are in recovery from mental illness.

Homo Sapiens (Unrated) Unplanned obsolescence documentary highlighting forgotten structures built by human beings and long since abandoned.

Indignation (R for sexuality and profanity) Adaptation of Philip Roth's coming-of-age novel, set in 1951, revolving around a Jewish kid (Logan Lerman) from Newark, New Jersey's adjustment to life on the campus of a conservative college in Ohio. With Sarah Gadon, Tracy Letts and Ben Rosenfield.

The Land (Unrated) Coming-of-age saga, set in Cleveland, unfolding over the course of a summer when four teens pursue their dream of becoming professional skateboarders. Co-starring Moises Arias, Rafi Gavron, Jorge Lendeborg., Jr. and Ezri Walker.

Nerve (PG-13 for sexuality, profanity, underage drug and alcohol use, dangerous and risky behavior and teen nudity) Crime thriller about a high school senior (Emma Roberts) who finds herself swept up into a deadly online game of "Truth or Dare." Cast includes Dave Franco, Juliette Lewis and Kimiko Glenn.

Tallulah (Unrated) Ellen Page plays the title character in this dysfunctional family drama as a homeless babysitter who, against her better judgment, impulsively abducts the neglected infant (Liliana Ellis) in her care. With Tammy Blanchard, Allison Janney, Evan Jonigkeit, Zachary Quinto and Uzo Aduba.

The Tenth Man (Unrated) Prodigal Son drama about a Jew (Alan Sabbagh) who returns to Buenos Aires to reconcile with his estranged father (Usher Barilka) while exploring the cultural traditions that originally alienated them from each other. Support cast includes Julieta Zylberberg, Elvira Onetto and Uriel Rubin. (In Yiddish, Hebrew and Spanish with subtitles)