Thursday, January 17, 2019

Mary Queen of Scots

 
Film Review by Kam Williams


Saoirse Ronan Plays Beleaguered Monarch in Flamboyant Costume Drama

Mary Stuart (1542-1587) is a tragic figure whose life story does not naturally lend itself to the big screen. After all, despite being King James V's only legitimate offspring at the time of his death, she spent most of her childhood exiled in France and over 18 years of her adulthood imprisoned in England before being beheaded at the behest of her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I. 
 
But that hasn't discouraged filmmakers from periodically taking liberties with the facts in order to mount an entertaining, if fanciful, biopic about the ill-fated aristocrat. Katharine Hepburn played Mary in a 1936 version directed by John Ford, while Vanessa Redgrave landed an Academy Award nomination for her rendition in a 1971 remake which netted a half-dozen Oscar nominations. 
 
Now, Saoirse Ronan stars as the beleaguered queen in a visually-captivating costume drama marking the directorial debut of Josie Rourke. The movie is based on John A. Guy's 2004 biography, “Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart,” though the production seems less concerned with historical accuracy than with flamboyant hair and makeup.

You can forget about the book's assertion about being “true.” For example, Mary and Elizabeth (Margot Robbie) never met in real life, yet this picture's climax revolves around their rendezvousing for a face-to-face showdown fabricated for dramatic effect. Equally disconcerting is that the film hypes female solidarity as a hot button issue, a glaring reminder of how a movie often tells you more about the period in which it was made than the one it is supposedly about. 
 
Even if you're inclined to forgive all of the above, perhaps the picture's most annoying flaw is that it opens with the heroine's execution, and is then followed by a series of flashbacks leading back to Mary's demise. Why spoil the ending by assuming everyone in your audience is a history buff who knows how the story's going to turn out?

An anti-climactic overindulgence in pomp and pageantry designed for fans of British royalty.


Fair (1 star)
Rated R for violence and sexuality
Running time: 124 minutes
Production Companies: Focus Features / Working Title Films / Perfect World Pictures
Studio: Focus Features

To see a trailer for Mary Queen of Scots, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnqjSgMU36U

Monday, January 14, 2019

Top Ten DVD List for January 15, 2019


by Kam Williams


This Week's DVD Releases 

Trail of Tears [36 Documentary Collection]

The Old Man & the Gun

Halloween
https://www.amazon.com/Halloween-Blu-ray-Jamie-Lee-Curtis/dp/B07J3B7DQ9/ref=tmm_blu_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

Jonathan

Madeline's Madeline
https://www.amazon.com/Madelines-Madeline-Blu-ray-Helena-Howard/dp/B07K147L77/ref=ice_ac_b_dpb_atc_badge_A2N1U4I2KOS032_twi_blu_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1547512710&sr=1-3&keywords=Madeline%27s+Madeline

Robin Hood Origins [5 Classic Films]

The Laurel & Hardy Comedy Collection

Bent

Dogs on the Job: A 7-Part Dogumentary Series

Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween
https://www.amazon.com/Goosebumps-2-Haunted-Halloween-Blu-ray/dp/B07HSK1LXJ/ref=ice_ac_b_dpb_twi_blu_2?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1547512579&sr=1-2&keywords=Goosebumps+2%3A+Haunted+Halloween

Honorable Mention

The Plague of the Zombies

The Karate Kid Part III & The Next Karate Kid [Double Feature]

Paw Patrol: Pups Save Puplantis

Odd Sock Eaters

Neo-Nazis Run Out of Princeton!





Under the Protection of Her Community She Flourished! Large Numbers Out to Oppose No Show ‘Prankster’ Nazis

by Daryle Lamont Jenkins





The New Jersey European Heritage Association has been hassling Princeton, NJ for months now. On Saturday, they decided not to show for a rally they announced and pretend it was all a joke when we said we will hassle them back. We still will.
PRINCETON, NJ – The day before the New Jersey European Heritage Association (NJEHA) was to hold a rally, the fledgling White supremacist group posted on their Twitter and Gab accounts that it was all a prank and never intended to have a permit, even though residents caught group members posting flyers a week before announcing a rally at Palmer Square on Saturday at Noon.
In the end even though the NJEHA failed to make an appearance, hundreds of community members, clergy and antifa who came out to protest Saturday and celebrated what they saw as cowardice on the part of the group.
Despite the NJEHA cancellation, the city still prepared for massive numbers of people converging on the Square, but instead of confrontations with hatemongers, those that did opted to call attention to the racism and hate of such groups, encouraging communities to push back against them. No injuries or arrests were reported and much of the city operated business as usual, with Nassau Street, the main road through Princeton still open to traffic and shops taking in customers, serving as a backdrop to ralliers as theye chanted, “No Nazis, no KKK, no fascist USA!”



Jan. 12, 2019: Princeton Professor Emeritus Dr. Cornel West speaks to the crowd.
Joining the protesters was Dr. Cornel West, a Professor Emeritus at Princeton University and he reminded the crowd that they were all there “as human beings” and to not be discouraged by today’s political climate that seeks to foster division. “Do not become discouraged, this of this moment!” he said. “We can and we do make a difference!”
The NJEHA is a group that first got noticed last August at a rally in Washington, DC organized to observe the anniversary of Jason Kessler’s “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia that turned violent and where Charlottesville resident Heather Heyer lost her life with neo-Fascist James Alex Fields, Jr. drove his car into a crowd of people, injuring several and killing Heyer. At the Washington, DC rally group members wore helmets and American flags as masks to conceal their identity. The group’s website says they believe that “we must wrest political, economic and social control away from the hostile elite who have usurped power in America.”
They reinforced this belief by saying, “Our creed can be summed up by fourteen simple words; we must secure the existence of our people and a future for White children,” using a mantra created by neo-Nazi terrorist David Lane of the Order. It is believed that the group is being led by Dan D’Ambly a worker at a New York Daily News printing plant in Jersey City.



Picture taken of Daniel D’Ambly posting the NJEHA flyers on a kiosk in Princeton. You can see some of the “It’s Okay to be White” flyers in this photo.



The flyer.
For several months, the NJEHA has been flyering not only Princeton, but also nearby towns such as New Brunswick. Last November they performed a flash mob down Nassau Street where five members wore sunglasses and mouth gags while holding signs reading “It’s Okay to be White”. Last Sunday, a person believed to be D’Ambly was seen and photographed posting several flyers, including one announcing Saturday’s rally. Upon learning of the group’s announced intentions, community members began to organize a counter protest. Meanwhile some supporters of the NJEHA were promoting their event as late as Friday.
Late Friday afternoon, the NJEHA announced that they never planned to hold a rally. Saying that promoting one was a hoax.
The New Jersey Democratic Socialists of America posted a statement and read it at Saturday’s rally:
Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) condemns both fascism and the enabling of fascism through silence. We commit not only to non-racism, but to anti-racism by organizing working people against fascist agitators trying to provoke racial hostility. Racial animosity is a core tenet of fascist organizing, and as socialists we stand against any actions that divide the working class with racist ideology. Today we are proud to say that our organizing has scared off the fascists, but we will still be rallying tomorrow to display our unity and strength.
In order to resist fascist action, we must understand that these racist agitators did not come from nowhere. They are part of a system that enables the abuse of people of color, members of the LGBTQ community, native peoples, disabled people, and others regularly targeted by fascists. Indifference from governments and the police mean that we must rely on solidarity to protect each other from those who wish to do harm.

We ask you to join us in actively resisting white supremacy in all its forms: on the streets, in the workplace, and in positions of power.  Acknowledge, encourage, and assist local resistance organized by marginalized people. Recognize that peace without justice is tyranny.
People who attended the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville are trying to gain sympathy and attract like-minded people in Princeton. They want to make themselves presentable, and we’re here to let people know who they really are and what they’re really doing. We believe that the best way to avoid a violent confrontation is to overwhelm them with numbers and deny them the space to spread their genocidal ideology. By dominating the space with sheer numbers, we believe that we can show them that they are not welcome, in New Jersey or anywhere else, and steal away their platform to promote our own vision of a better world. Our adversaries’ retreat proves that we are right.

In Charlottesville and similar rallies around the country, the press has inevitably defaulted to a false equivalency in their reporting, writing about “extremists on both sides.” The police have protected white supremacists as they provoke violence; more counter-protesters have been attacked and arrested despite the violence coming from the racist groups. We are protesting this rally not to provoke violence, but to show the white supremacists that our communities will not stand for their hate.
Last year, the Charlottesville chapter of DSA put out a statement after the anniversary of Unite the Right which included:  “We ask that you join us in confronting all forms of white supremacy in your community, however explicit or subtle. Whether it is gentrification, policing, prisons, ICE activity, schooling, environmental injustice, inaccessibility, or capitalism, we must confront the ways racism and fascism intersect and structure our daily lives. As a DSA chapter we believe that building a better, socialist world is not possible without this anti-fascist work. And we specifically ask DSA chapters around the country to do their part in this struggle against white supremacy and fascism.”

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Kam's Kapsules for movies opening January 18, 2019

Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun  
by Kam Williams


OPENING THIS WEEK
 
WIDE RELEASES


Glass (PG-13 for profanity, violence, bloody images and mature themes) Samuel L. Jackson plays the brilliant but brittle title character in this sequel to M. Night Shyamalan's Unbreakable, a sci-fi thriller revolving around a superhuman security guard's (Bruce Willis) pursuit of a disturbed maniac (James McAvoy) with two dozen personalities. With Sarah Paulson, Luke Kirby and Anya Taylor-Joy.


If Beale Street Could Talk (R for profanity and sexuality) Adaptation of James Baldwin's classic novel, set in Harlem, revolving around a pregnant teenager's (Kiki Layne) efforts to free her fiance' (Stephan James) falsely accused of rape. With Regina King, Teyonah Parris and Colman Domingo.



INDEPENDENT & FOREIGN FILMS

Adult Life Skills (Unrated) Midlife crisis drama about a reclusive slacker (Jodie Whitaker), living in her mother's (Lorraine Ashbourne) backyard shed for years, who finds herself forced to finally grow up as her 30th birthday approaches. With Ozzy Myers, Edward Hogg and Brett Goldstein.

Genesis 2.0 (Unrated) Global warming documentary chronicling scientists' search around the Arctic's thawing permafrost for a woolly mammoth carcass with hopes of using its DNA to bring the extinct animal back to life.

The Heiresses (Unrated) Diminished dreams drama, set in Paraguay, chronicling a couple of formerly wealthy BFFs' (Ana Brun and Margarita Irun) adjustment to running out of money. With Ana Ivanova, Maria Martins and Nilda Gonzalez. (In Spanish and Guarani with subtitles)

I Hate Kids (PG-13 for profanity and suggestive material) Baby-daddy comedy about a groom-to-be (Tom Everett Scott) who learns during his wedding rehearsal dinner that he has a son (Julian Feder) from a fling with one of a dozen women he slept with over 13 years ago. Supporting cast includes Tituss Burgess, Rachel Boston and Rhea Seehorn.

The Last Man (R for violence, sexuality, nudity and pervasive profanity) Psychological thriller about a paranoid combat veteran (Hayden Christensen) suffering from PTSD who starts building an underground bomb shelter on the advice of a doomsday street prophet (Harvey Keitel) warning of an approaching apocalypse. Featuring Liz Solari, Marco Leonardi and Justin Kelly.

Stan & Ollie (PG for smoking and mild epithets) Bittersweet biopic about Stan Laurel (Steve Coogan) and Oliver Hardy (John C. Reilly) recounting the legendary comedy team's 1953 reunion in Great Britain for a comeback concert tour. Supporting cast includes Danny Huston, Stephanie Hyam and Susy Kane.

The Standoff at Sparrow Creek (Unrated) Crime thriller about an ex-cop (James Badge Dale) who comes out of retirement to track down the militiaman behind a mass shooting at a police funeral. With Happy Anderson, Brian Geraghty and Chris Mulkey.

Who Will Write Our History? (Unrated) Holocaust documentary recounting the effort of a clandestine group of Polish Jews to counter Nazi propaganda by chronicling atrocities occurring in the Warsaw Ghetto. Voice cast includes Joan Allen and Adrien Brody. (In English, Yiddish and Polish with subtitles)




Saturday, January 12, 2019

A Dog's Way Home

 
Film Review by Kam Williams


Separated Pet Embarks on Perilous Journey in Heartwarming Family Adventure

Life has proven to be quite a challenge for Bella (voiced by Bryce Dallas Howard) from the start. Soon after birth, the puppy was separated from her mother, though she was lucky enough to be nursed back to health by a stray cat. 
 
The lovable mutt eventually lands at an animal shelter where receptionist Olivia (Alexandra Shipp) introduces it to the cute volunteer (Jonah Hauer-King) she has a crush on. Lucas decides to adopt Bella, hoping she might help lift the spirits of his mom (Ashley Judd), a military veteran suffering from PTSD. 
 
Terri does take to the playful pooch, although she is subsequently threatened with eviction for violating her lease's “no pets” provision. A further complication arrives when Denver's dogcatcher (John Cassini) incorrectly labels mixed-breed Bella as a pit bull. He warns that a local ordinance allows him to euthanize any pit bull not on a leash in public.

The plot thickens the day Bella impulsively leaps through a window to chase a squirrel down the street. She's spotted and seized by Officer Chuck who is eager to put her to sleep.
But the hound's life is spared thanks to a compromise whereby Bella is shipped to New Mexico to live with Olivia's Uncle Jose (Darcy Laurie). 
 
Unfortunately, Bella is miserable without Lucas and Terri, and it's not long before she runs away, embarking on a 400-mile journey home. That very eventful odyssey, marked by love, altruism, loyalty, unlikely liaisons, close brushes with death and even a terrible tragedy (which might upset tykes), fuels the fire of A Dog's Way Home, a touching tale directed by Charles Martin Smith (Air Bud). 
 
The movie is based on the novel of the same name by W. Bruce Cameron whose best seller, “A Dog's Purpose,” was successfully adapted to the screen a couple of years ago. Though not technically a sequel, this is another inspirational adventure narrated by an anthropomorphic canine.

The sentimental storyline is designed to appeal to dog lovers of all ages. Don't be surprised if you just can't resist the transparent attempts to tug on your heartstrings, despite the fact that this is a flick which telegraphs it punches.

Fairly formulaic, but it works! 

 
Very Good (3 stars)
Rated PG for peril, mild epithets and mature themes
Running time: 97 minutes
Production Companies: Columbia Pictures / Pariah / Bona Film Group
Studio: Sony Pictures

To see a trailer for A Dog's Way Home, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1pKdCHvH310


Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Kam's Kapsules for movies opening January 11, 2019

 
Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun 
by Kam Williams


OPENING THIS WEEK

WIDE RELEASES


A Dog's Way Home (PG for peril, mild epithets and mature themes) Adaptation of W. Bruce Cameron's best seller of the same name about a pet pooch (voiced by Bryce Dallas Howard) that embarks on a very eventful, 400-mile journey after being separated from her owner (Jonah Hauer-King). With Ashley Judd, Edward James Olmos and Alexandra Shipp.



Replicas (PG-13 for violence, disturbing images, mature themes, nudity and sexual references) Sci-fi thriller about a biologist (Keanu Reeves) willing to violate his scientific ethical principles to resurrect his family after a tragic car accident. Cast includes Alice Eve, Thomas Middleditch and Emjay Anthony.



The Upside (PG-13 for drug use and suggestive content) English language remake of The Intouchables, the 2011 French dramedy inspired by the real-life relationship of a paralyzed billionaire (Bryan Cranston) and the ex-con (Kevin Hart) he hires as a live-in caregiver. With Nicole Kidman, Julianna Margulies and Aja Naomi King.






INDEPENDENT & FOREIGN FILMS


Anthem of a Teenage Prophet (Unrated) Coming-of-age drama about the fallout visited upon a clairvoyant teen (Cameron Monaghan) whose premonition about the death of his best friend (Alex MacNicoll) becomes a reality. With Juliette Lewis, Peyton List and Grayson Gabriel.


Ashes in the Snow (Unrated) World War II saga, set in Siberia in 1941, revolving around a 16 year-old, aspiring artist (Bel Powley) whose secret drawings document her family's ordeal in a Soviet labor camp. Cast includes Sophie Cookson, Peter Franzen and James Cosmo.


The Aspern Papers (R for some nudity and sexuality) Adaptation of Henry James' novella of the same name, set in Venice in 1885, about a young writer's (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers) attempt to read the collection of romantic letters sent decades earlier by a famous poet (Jon Kortajarena) to his mistress (Vanessa Redgrave). With Joely Richardson, Lois Robbins and Morgane Polanski (Roman's daughter).


Perfect Strangers (Unrated) Spanish language remake of the 2016 Italian comedy about seven friends who agree to read aloud all their incoming text messages during a revealing dinner party. Co-starring Cecilia Suárez, Bruno Bichir, Mariana Treviño, Manuel García Rulfo, Miguel Rodarte, Franky Martin, Ana Claudia Talancón and Camila Valero. (In Spanish with subtitles)


Sgt. Will Gardner (Unrated) Max Martini wrote, directed and stars in this poignant portrait of an Iraq War vet suffering from PTSD and a traumatic brain injury who attempts to pick up the pieces of his broken life during a cross-country motorcycle trip. Featuring Gary Sinise, Omari Hardwick, Dermot Mulroney and Robert Patrick.


Tall Tales (PG for mature themes) Animated comedy about a kindhearted cricket (Justin Long) framed for the kidnapping of the queen bee (Kate Mara) by her treacherous cousin (Anne Tilloy). Voice cast includes Kev Adams and Haley Chey Lynch.


The Untold Story (Unrated) Against the odds dramedy revolving around an aging Hollywood icon (Barry Van Dyke) inspired to mount a comeback by his new next-door neighbor (Nia Peeples). Supporting cast includes Jordan Ladd, Miko Hughes and Joe Lando.





Monday, January 7, 2019

2019 Golden Globes Recap


by Kam Williams


Green Book Emerges as Early Favorite in Oscar Race

Green Book emerged as the early favorite in the Oscar sweepstakes at the Golden Globes Sunday night after prevailing in three categories: Best Musical or Comedy, Best Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor. Common sense would tell you that the searing civil rights era saga was more of a drama than a musical or comedy, but go figure. 
 
Curiously, Bohemian Rhapsody was dubbed Best Drama although that biopic about the rock group Queen's frontman, Freddie Mercury, was a musical laced with comical moments. Another headscratcher was how Green Book's Mahershala Ali won for Best Supporting Actor despite playing a lead role. 
 
Bohemian Rhapsody and Roma garnered two trophies each, while A Star Is Born had a disappointing evening, only netting a win for Best Song, after landing five nominations. Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga were overlooked in favor of Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody) and Glenn Close (The Wife). The other acting awards went to Olivia Colman for The Favourite, Christian Bale for Vice, and Regina King for If Beale Street Could Talk.

The show was co-hosted by Andy Samberg and Sandra Oh, who studiously avoided offending any fellow celebs in attendance during their boring opening dialogue or over the rest of the evening. They didn't even make any political jokes, although Christian Bale got a big laugh when he thanked Satan for showing him how to play Dick Cheney.

Most of the other acceptance speeches were delivered in earnest, touching on themes ranging from female empowerment (Regina King and Glenn Close), to brotherhood (Peter Farrelly and Alfonso Cuaron), to LBGTQ rights (Rami Malek and Ben Whishaw).


Complete List of Winners


FILM

Best Picture, Drama: Bohemian Rhapsody
Best Picture, Musical or Comedy: Green Book
Best Director: Alfonso Cuaron, Roma
Best Actor, Drama: Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody
Best Actress, Drama: Glenn Close, The Wife
Best Actress, Musical or Comedy: Olivia Colman, The Favourite
Best Actor, Musical or Comedy: Christian Bale, Vice
Best Supporting Actress: Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk
Best Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali, Green Book
Best Foreign Language Film: Roma
Best Animated Feature: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Best Original Score: Justin Hurwitz, First Man
Best Original Song: “Shallow,” A Star is Born
Best Screenplay: Peter Farrelly, Nick Vallelonga and Brian Currie, Green Book
Cecille B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award: Jeff Bridges




TELEVISION



Best TV Series, Drama: The Americans
Best Actor in a TV Series, Drama: Richard Madden, The Bodyguard
Best Actress in a TV Series, Drama: Sandra Oh, Killing Eve
Best TV Series, Musical or Comedy: The Kominsky Method
Best Actor in a TV Series, Music or Comedy: Michael Douglas, The Kominsky Method
Best Actress in a TV Series, Musical or Comedy: Rachel Brosnahan, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Best Limited TV Series or Made for TV Movie: The Assassination of Gianni Versace
Best Actor in a Limited TV Series or Made for TV Movie: Darren Criss, The Assassination of Gianni Versace
Best Actress in a Limited TV Series or TV Movie: Patricia Arquette, Escape at Dannemora
Best Supporting Actor in a TV Series, Limited TV Series or Made for TV Movie: Ben Whishaw, A Very English Scandal
Best Supporting Actress in a TV Series, Limited TV Series or Made for TV Movie: Patricia Clarkson, Sharp Objects
Carol Burnett Lifetime Achievement Award: Carol Burnett


Regina King's acceptance speech: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hjx_bRvjIHo

Glenn Close's acceptance speech: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dofJq1FzT8U

Rami Malek's acceptance speech: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jrmoL_1xU_M

Peter Farrelly's acceptance speech: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Y98H7jQP1Q

Ben Whishaw's acceptance speech: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJkfl_kBYDI

Alfonso Cuaron's acceptance speech: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2clhVklzvc4