Sunday, May 3, 2015

Welcome to Me (FILM REVIEW)



Welcome to Me
Film Review by Kam Williams


Lottery Winner Hosts TV Talk Show in Droll Character-Driven Dramedy

Let’s say you’re a diehard Oprah fan who has always wanted nothing more than to have your own television series just like your idol’s. What would you do if you hit it big in the lottery and suddenly had the money to turn that dream into a reality?
That’s precisely the quandary confronting Alice Klieg (Kristen Wiig) when she has the good fortune to win $86 million in the California Stacks Sweepstakes. Trouble is she’s also a manic-depressive suffering from bipolar disorder who deludes herself into believing she no longer needs drugs now that she’s rich.
So, she informs her shrink (Tim Robbins) that she’s going off her meds before offering him a bribe to give her a clean bill of health. Next, she approaches the general manager (James Marsden) of a TV station specializing in infomercials about buying air time for the talk show about herself she hopes to host.
Concerned only about his struggling network’s bottom line, Rich gives his okay as soon as Alice comes up with the $15 million needed to underwrite the project. His brother/business partner (Wes Bentley) is less enthusiastic about taking advantage of the reckless mental patient until she unleashes her powers of seduction in his direction.
Alice appropriately names the program “Welcome to Me,” since she’s the topic of every episode. The themes range wildly, featuring titles like “Jordana Spangler – a Liar,” “Matching Colors to Emotions,” “Lucky Foods,” “I Can Still Smell You,” and “Regulating Your Moods with a High-Protein Diet.” All they have in common is that they invariably focus on some aspect of the narcissistic emcee’s life.
The emotional exhibitionist proves compelling enough to improve ratings and is allowed to self-destruct in front of couch potatoes who just can’t get enough Alice whether she’s nattering on about her orgasms or Irritable Bowel Syndrome. But with a burn-rate of $150,000 per episode, it’s obvious that she’s in for a devastating crash-landing, eventually.
Directed by Shira Piven (Jeremy’s sister), Welcome to Me is a droll character-driven dramedy tailor-made for the tongue-in-cheek comedy style of Kristen Wiig. Alternately vulnerable and bizarre, but always endearing, the Saturday Night Live alum enjoys her best outing since Bridesmaids, here, as an anguished soul allowed, against her better judgment, to purchase a terribly-embarrassing, 15 minutes of fame.
Kudos to Kristen for baring herself, literally and figuratively, in deliverance of a poignant performance which could very easily have degenerated into the sort of slapstick she did on SNL.  

Excellent (4 stars)
Rated R for sexuality, profanity, graphic nudity and brief drug use
Running time: 87 minutes
Distributor: Alchemy

To see a trailer for Welcome to Me, visit: https://www.youtube.com/embed/z251mQl-OLI

Friday, May 1, 2015

Top Ten DVD Releases for 5-5-15



This Week’s DVD Releases
by Kam Williams


Top Ten DVD List for May 5, 2015                      

Selma

Mr. Turner

Concerning Violence

Pitch Perfect: Sing-Along Edition

Munich

Black Sea

Mad Max: Collector’s Edition

Lost Rivers

Cary Grant: 4 Movie Collection [Amazing Adventure / Penny Serenade / His Girl Friday / Once upon a Time ]

TV Guide Spotlight: TV’s Greatest Moms


Honorable Mention

Covert Affairs: Season Five

The Last Five Years

Jamaica Inn

Dancing on the Edge

Futuro Beach

Little Accidents

Mr. Selfridge: Season Three

Great Figures of the Bible

The Three Stooges: Triple Feature [The Three Stooges Go around the World in a Daze /The Three Stooges Meet Hercules/ The Outlaws Is Coming

Lost River

Suits: Season Four

Fifty Shades of Grey

Broadchurch: The Complete Second Season



A Few Best Men

Jonah Lives

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Fifty Shades of Grey (DVD REVIEW)



Fifty Shades of Grey
DVD Review by Kam Williams

Screen Adaptation of Sadomasochistic Best-Seller Arrives on DVD

Fifty Shades of Grey marked the remarkable writing debut of TV executive-turned-romance novelist Erika Mitchell. Publishing under the pen name E.L. James, the British author has enjoyed unparalleled success, selling over 100 million copies worldwide in just a few years.
Her erotic thriller chronicles the kinky relationship of a college coed and a handsome, young billionaire with a sordid sexual appetite for sadomasochism. Unfortunately, this relatively-tame screen version, directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson (Nowhere Boy), teases more than it titillates, as it devotes plenty of time build up prior to petering out in terms of delivery.
At the point of departure, we meet vestal virgin Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) as she’s about to drive from Vancouver to Seattle to the corporate headquarters of Grey Enterprises to interview CEO Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) for her college newspaper. The English major’s only been allotted ten minutes with the busy captain of industry slated to deliver the keynote commencement address at her school’s upcoming graduation.
Upon being introduced, obviously intimidated Ana awkwardly asks “To what do you owe your success” and “Are you gay?” before her subject confesses to being a control freak. Turning the tables, Christian proceeds to pose probing personal questions to the nervous journalist, as a palpable sexual tension between the two starts to simmer just beneath the surface.
He reveals his fondness for a particular fetish, however nothing is consummated for a long stretch. Instead, the first half of the film is devoted to a frustrating Kabuki dance where foreplay invariably leads to coitus interruptus.
In lieu of the whips, chains and other staples of bondage debauchery, we’re treated to cautious exchanges during which a whimpering, wide-eyed Ana repeatedly says how scared she is of Christian while he insists she sign a non-disclosure agreement allowing him to torture her. Yes, they eventually do get around to entering his dungeon but, by then, their bland, anticlimactic sessions prove to be a classic case of too little-too late.
            A monochromatic misfire featuring only one shade: blushing pink.

Fair (1.5 stars)
Rated R for profanity, violence, sexuality and graphic nudity
Running time: 125 minutes
Distributor: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack Extras: Tease of Fifty Shades Darker; The World of Fifty Shades of Grey: Christian Grey; The World of Fifty Shades of Grey: Ana; The World of Fifty Shades of Grey: Friends and Family; Behind the Shades; E.L. James & Fifty Shades; Fifty Shades: The Pleasure of Pain; Christian's Apartment: 360° Set Tour; music videos; and Behind the Scenes of "Earned It (Fifty Shades of Grey)."

To see a trailer for Fifty Shades of Grey, visit:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SfZWFDs0LxA

To order a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey on Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack, visit:

Selma (DVD REVIEW)



Selma
DVD Review by Kam Williams


Oscar-Winning Civil Rights Saga Arrives on DVD

I was born in the early Fifties, which means the Civil Rights Movement unfolded over the course of my formative years. And like the average black kid growing up in that tumultuous era, I can distinctly recall having a very visceral reaction to the nightly news coverage, since I had such a personal stake in the outcome of the events.
One of the most consequential flashpoints in memory was when a trio of voting rights marches were staged in Selma, Alabama in 1965. Launched by locals with the help of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the first demonstration came to be known as Bloody Sunday because of the way the police viciously attacked the 500+ participants with teargas and billy clubs, all at the direction of a racist Sheriff named Jim Clark (Stan Houston).
Fallout from the shocking media coverage garnered the attention of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (David Oyelowo) who agreed to get involved. And after an aborted second attempt to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge, the controversy blossomed into a nationwide cause célèbre with 25,000 people willing to risk their life and limb descending upon tiny Selma, including cultural icons like Harry Belafonte, Nina Simone, Joan Baez, Sammy Davis, Jr. and Peter, Paul and Mary.
 Three times proved a charm as the third march went off without a hitch, although participant Viola Liuzzo (Tara Ochs), a mother of five from Detroit, was murdered by a quartet of cowardly Ku Klux Klansmen just a few hours later. A couple of other martyrs also made the ultimate sacrifice in Selma, Jimmie Lee Jackson (Keith Stanfield) and Reverend James Reeb (Jeremy Strong). Fortunately, none of them died in vain because, in August, President Johnson (Tom Wilkinson) signed historic voting rights legislation into law. 
All of the above has been evocatively reenacted in Selma, a gut-wrenching civil rights saga directed by Ava DuVernay (Middle of Nowhere). Although the movie was this critic’s pick as the Best Picture of 2014, it was pretty much snubbed by the Academy Awards, only winning the Oscar for Best Song, “Glory.”
Nevertheless, don’t miss this overdue tribute to a revered icon and some unsung heroes who played a critical role at a seminal moment in the courageous African-American struggle for freedom and equality.   

Excellent (4 stars)
Rated PG-13 for violence, disturbing images, and brief profanity
Running time: 128 minutes
Distributor: Paramount Home Media Distribution
Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack Extras: The Road to Selma; Recreating Selma; “Glory” music video; historical newsreels; photo gallery; deleted and extended scenes; National Voting Rights Museum and Institute; Selma Student Tickets: Donor Appreciation; Commentary by director Ava DuVernay and actor David Oyelowo; and Commentary by director Ava DuVernay, director of photography Bradford Young and editor Spencer Averick.

To see a trailer for Selma, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kPgs2zshD9Y  

To order a copy of Selma on Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack, visit:

Nia Vardalos (INTERVIEW)



Nia Vardalos
The “Helicopter Mom” Interview
with Kam Williams

Headline: Viva Vardalos!

Born in Winnipeg, Canada on September 24, 1962, actress/scriptwriter Nia Vardalos is best known as the star of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, her one-woman stage play which she adapted to the big screen in 2002. She also landed an Academy Award nomination for the picture’s screenplay, which grossed a quarter-billion dollars at the box-office, domestically.

Other movies on her resume include Connie and Carla, I Hate Valentine’s Day, My Life in Ruins, Larry Crowne, and McKenna Shoots for the Stars. On television, she starred in My Big Fat Greek Life, a short-lived sitcom based on My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Nia and her husband, actor Ian Gomez, live in L.A. which is where they are raising their daughter, Ilaria.


Kam Williams: Hey, Nia, thanks for the interview.
Nia Vardalos: Hi, Kam. Nice to talk to you, too. I apologize if I sound like a drag queen this morning, but I voiced an entire animated film in one day yesterday, and then went to see Barry Manilow last night.

KW: That’s why you’re whispering and sound so hoarse. Which film were you working on?
NV: Sorry, I can’t tell you yet. The title hasn’t been announced.

KW: I have to tell you how much I loved My Big Fat Greek Wedding. I must have watched it at least a dozen times. It was #2 on my Top 100 List for 2002.
NV: Thank you so much Kam. That means the world to me. It really does.

KW: I loved Connie and Carla, too. What interested you in Helicopter Mom?
NV: I was attracted to the idea of improvising a movie. I thought it would be a really great way of having a loose set. And it turned out to be exactly what I hoped for. The director [Salome Breziner] created a fun atmosphere and [co-star] Jason Dolley] was great to play with in his first film since doing the sitcom Good Luck Charlie. So, I was just very intrigued by the chance to do something so different.

KW: Gee, I was totally unaware that the cast was improvising. It flowed very naturally, so it never occurred to me that you didn’t have a script. The only thing that threw me was the ending which I don’t want to give away. It was a bit of a cliffhanger, and I wasn’t sure whether it was supposed to be setting up a sequel.  
NV: [Chuckles] Yeah, I don’t know at all on that one.

KW: Editor/Legist Patricia Turnier says: As a Canadian, I am honored to have the opportunity to ask you questions. You wrote and starred in your huge hit, My Big Fat Greek Wedding. There is a scarcity of female screenwriters and directors. Do you have another movie you would like to write and/or direct?
NV: Well, I’m actually headed to Toronto to do the sequel to My Big Fat Greek Wedding. But the honest answer to Patricia’s question is that there isn’t a scarcity of female writers and directors. But there IS a dearth, a lack of their being hired. You could throw a rock in L.A. and hit somebody who’s talented who’s trying to break in. It’s up to us women to hire other women. What I do is instead of writing just 1 female character in my films, I’ll write 50, because I know how sad it is that women are having such a hard time finding roles. It’s a joy for me. I love my producers, who are the same ones from My Big Fat Greek Wedding. We have the same set designers, the same everyone. As they say, we’re getting the band back together, as they say. It’s terrific that no one ever asks me, “Can this receptionist or this cop be played by a man?” They wouldn’t think of it since in the script the police officer’s name is Deandra.

KW: Patricia also says: I love raising the issue of female filmmakers. In 2010, Kathryn Bigelow broke the glass ceiling with her movie, The Hurt Locker. She became the first woman director in history to win an Academy Award. In 2007, the Canadian filmmaker Deepa Mehta earned an Oscar nomination in the Best Foreign Language Film category for Water, which focused on women issues. What is your opinion about this issue especially as an Oscar-nominee and what do you think it will take for female filmmakers to get more recognition for film projects concerning women's conditions?
NV: It was so sad this year, when the Academy failed to nominate even one film with a female story. It was so disgusting to me that not one female helmer was nominated for Best Director and that no film with a female protagonist was nominated in the Best Picture category either. I am not anti-man. I am married to a man… I have a father and a brother… I love men. But there is something really lacking when Cake is nominated. How does Julianne Moore win for Best Actress but her film isn’t nominated for Best Screenplay? How does Gone Girl become such a critically-acclaimed and box-office hit but its scriptwriter, Gillian Flynn, isn’t nominated for Best screenplay. It’s disgusting!

KW: What’s the solution?
NV: I think we need parity. The Academy needs more female members so that we can point this out and support ourselves and each other. 

KW: It’s a shame because 2014 was such a great year for movies. 
NV: There were so many amazing films last year. Theory of Everything was absolutely a master class in acting. And did you love The Imitation Game as much as I did?

KW: Yep, that was #5 on my Top 100 List.
NV: It broke my heart. And how about Guardians of the Galaxy? I spoke to the screenwriter, Nicole Perlman. She’s a huge comic book geek who was in the Marvel writing program. I just loved meeting her.

KW: One of the great things about this job is that I get a chance to speak with luminaries like you, and each experience is usually enriching and even moving because the person invariably has a lot to offer and is so much deeper than what I expected based on the image I had gotten from seeing them in movies and on TV.      
NV: Thank you for saying that, Kam. I feel the same way when I meet somebody in Los Angeles, because I’m from Winnipeg. I’m just a very ordinary girl that something extraordinary happened to. So, I’ll go to an event and, say, stand next to Charlize Theron and be like, “Oh my God! This is incredible!” And then you get to talk to her and you find out she’s a real person. She’s a mom and very interesting. I’m constantly thunderstruck by people that I admire.

KW: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?
NV: I see strength, and I see a tired mom.

KW: The Ling-Ju Yen question: What is your earliest childhood memory?
NV: Accidentally spray-painting my face black when I was about 6. I was trying to do a craft project in the garage with a board and a can of spray paint that was missing a nozzle. I stuck a nail in it, and it blew all over my face. [Laughs]

KW: What is your favorite dish to cook?
NV: Oh! Lately, I’ve been salting eggplant to take the bitterness out, and then layering it with tomatoes and a little bit of Parmesan cheese to make a low-rent Eggplant Parmesan without the breading and the tons of fat. 

KW: If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would that be for?
NV: Peace, and geographical birth fairness.

KW: The Viola Davis question: What’s the biggest difference between who you are at home as opposed to the person we see on the red carpet?
NV: Control top panty hose. [Chuckles]

KW: The bookworm Troy Johnson question: What was the last book you read?
NV: “Tiny Beautiful Things” by Cheryl Strayed. 

I love reading, and I read a lot. I’m constantly going through so many books. I just re-read a novel I loved called “Never Let Me Go” by Kazuo Ishiguro. Oh, it’s so beautiful! 

KW: The Judyth Piazza question: What key quality do you believe all successful people share? 
NV: I’m going to say integrity, because I want to believe that’s the case. But sometimes I’m surprised when someone who has achieved success is incredibly Machiavellian in their manipulations. So, while I want to believe it’s integrity, that might just show how naïve I am. I sometimes worry that I might not be shrewd enough to maneuver myself through the Hollywood system. And then I look at Playtone, the company that produced My Big Fat Greek Wedding. I call them my Playtoners. They are the kindest people who treated me like gold before that movie made a dime. We became personal friends. When I think about how lovely and wonderful they are that convinces me that you don’t have to make a deal with the devil to succeed. It’s a choice. As we know, there are companies like Monsanto filling the Earth with their genetically-modified poison, which makes me wonder how many people share our belief that it’s better to be good, Kam. [Earnestly] We have to change the world!  

KW: We’ll see, with Bernie Sanders throwing his hat into the ring, the people will have a real choice. Harriet Pakula-Teweles asks: With so many classic films being redone, is there a remake you'd like to star in?
NV: Yeah. On stage, I’d like to redo the Broadway musical, The Rink. And, onscreen, there are so many great movies to pick from… My brain is just fried right now… Let me think… Oh, I know. I would love to remake The Philadelphia Story with Hugh Grant. The chemistry between Cary Grant and Kate Hepburn is so delightful.

KW: Hugh Grant released a sweet romantic comedy with Marisa Tomei in February called The Rewrite. Did you catch it?
NV: I love her. I’d always admired her work and then I got to meet her recently. She’s great! She’s so delightful in person.

KW: What’s in your wallet?
NV: My wallet has both American and Canadian money, because I’m preparing to go to Canada to shoot. And as you know, I’m Canadian, so I have a bunch of loonies [one-dollar coins] in there.

KW: Thanks again for the time, Nia. Best of luck with the sequel to My Big Fat Greek Wedding. I can’t wait to see it.
NV: Thank you, Kam. It was really nice to talk to you. You ask very interesting questions.

To see a trailer for Helicopter Mom, visit: https://vimeo.com/97173719

To order Nia’s book, “Instant Mom,” visit:
 

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Kam's Movie Kapsules for 5-8-15



OPENING THIS WEEK
Kam's Kapsules:      
Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun         
by Kam Williams
For movies opening May 8, 2015


BIG BUDGET FILMS   

Hot Pursuit (PG-13 for sexuality, profanity, violence and drug use) Road comedy about a straitlaced police officer (Reese Witherspoon) who ends up on the run from mobsters and crooked cops after being assigned to protect the widow (Sofia Vergara) of a recently-deceased drug kingpin. With John Carroll Lynch, Matthew Del Negro and Richard T. Jones.  


INDEPENDENT & FOREIGN FILMS 

5 Flights Up (PG-13 for profanity and naked images) Slice-of-life drama, set in Brooklyn, revolving around the trial and tribulations of a retired couple (Morgan Freeman and Diane Keaton) being pressured by their niece (Cynthia Nixon) to sell the rundown home they’ve shared for the past 40 years. With Carrie Preston, Miriam Shor and Alysia Reiner.

1001 Grams (Unrated) Poignant character study about a nerdy Norwegian (Ane Dahl Torp) who is shaken out of her comfort zone after crossing paths with a fellow scientist (Laurent Stocker) while attending a seminar in Paris. Cast includes Stein Winge, Hildegun Riise and Didier Flamand. (In Norwegian, French and English with subtitles)

The D Train (R for nudity, graphic sexuality, profanity and drug use) Unlikely-buddies comedy about a social zero’s (Jack Black) desperate attempt to convince his high school’s boy most likely (James Marsden) to attend their 20th reunion. With Kathryn Hahn, Jeffrey Tambor and Russell Posner.

Hunting Elephants (Unrated) Israeli crime comedy, set in Jerusalem, about a trio of revenge-minded retirees (Sasson Gabai, Patrick Stewart and Moni Moshonov) who hatch a plan to rob a bank with the help of a precocious 12 year-old (Gil blank).  Support cast includes Yael Abecassis, Tzvika Hadar and Moshe Ivgy. (In Hebrew and English with subtitles)

I Am Big Bird (Unrated) Reverential retrospective covering the enduring career of Carroll Spinney, the 81 year-old puppeteer who has played Big Bird on Sesame Street since 1969. Featuring commentary by Frank Oz, Sonia Manzano and the late Jim Henson.

Maggie (PG-13 for profanity, mature themes and disturbing images) Abigail Breslin stars as the title character in this post-apocalyptic thriller, set in the Midwest, as an ill-fated teen whose dad (Arnold Schwarzennegger) stands by her side after she’s infected with the deadly virus sweeping the nation that slowly turns its victims into cannibalistic zombies. Cast includes Joely Richardson, Laura Cayouette and Denise Williamson.

Noble (PG-13 for violence, sexuality and mature themes) Deidre O’Kane handles the title role in this biopic about Christina Noble, the Irish spinster who, in 1989, founded an orphanage in Vietnam for hundreds of homeless kids roaming the streets of Ho Chi Minh City. With Sarah Greene, Gloria Cramer Curtis and Brendan Coyle.    

Piku (Unrated) Deepika Padukone plays the tile character in this dysfunctional family drama, set in West Bengal, about an unmarried architect burdened by having to juggle her career and the demands of her hypochondriacal father (Irrfan Khan) Featuring Amitabh Bachchan, Moushumi Chatterjee and Raghuvir Yadav. (In Hindi with subtitles)     

Playing it Cool (R for profanity and sexuality) Romantic comedy revolving around a perennial loser at love (Chris Evans) who finally meets the woman of his dreams (Michelle Monaghan) only to learn that she’s already engaged to be married. Supporting cast includes Luke Wilson, Aubrey Plaza, Topher Grace and Ioan Gruffudd.

Preggoland (Unrated) Midlife-crisis dramedy about a 35 year-old single woman (Sonja Bennett) who pretends to be pregnant in order to fit in with girlfriends who are already mothers. Co-starring Laura Harris, James Caan, Danny Trejo and Lisa Durupt.    

Saint Laurent (R for frontal nudity, graphic sexuality, profanity and pervasive substance abuse) Warts and all biopic chronicling the turbulence in the life of Yves Saint Laurent (Gaspard Ulliel) during the decadent decade (1967-1976) when the French fashion icon was at the peak of his career. With Jeremie Renier, Louis Garrel and Lea Seydoux. (In French and English with subtitles)

The Seven Five (R for pervasive profanity, grisly images and drug use) Cop gone bad documentary about Michael Dowd, the rogue NYPD officer who robbed drug dealers of cocaine and hundreds of thousands of dollars during a 12-year reign of terror that started in the late Eighties.  

Skin Trade (R for nudity, profanity, drug use, pervasive violence and disturbing sexuality) Revenge-fueled action thriller about a NYPD detective (Dolph Lundgren) who ventures to Bangkok to track down the mobster (Ron Perlman) who murdered his wife (Tasya Teles) and young daughter (Chloe Babcook). Featuring Michael Jai White, Tony Jaa and Celina Jade. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror (BOOK REVIEW)



ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror
by Michael Weiss and Hassan Hassan
Regan Arts
Paperback, $14.00
288 pages
ISBN: 978-1-941393-57-4

Book Review by Kam Williams

“This book… set out to answer a simple question asked repeatedly on cable news shows: Where did ISIS come from, and how did it manage to do so much damage in so short a period of time?
The question was understandable, given the images and videos circulating… most notoriously, the horrifying propaganda beheadings of several Western hostages. But the question was also a strange one, because the U.S. has been at war with ISIS for the better part of a decade.
ISIS is a terrorist organization, but it isn’t only a terrorist organization… At once sensationalized and underestimated, brutal and savvy, ISIS has destroyed the boundaries of contemporary nation-states and proclaimed itself the restorer of a lost Islamic empire. An old enemy has become a new one, determined to prolong what has already been an overlong war.”
Excerpted from the Introduction (pages xiii-xvi)

What is ISIS? Where did it come from? What’s its agenda? And how is it different from ISIL and Al-Qaida? These are the sort of questions addressed in ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror, a thorough study of the rapidly-rising terrorist organization which President Obama once condescendingly dismissed as just “the Junior Varsity team” to allay concerns when it captured Fallujah a year ago.
But ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, not only still holds the city, but has expanded its sphere of influence exponentially. Fortunately, Michael Weiss and Hassan Hassan have collaborated on an eye-opening opus explaining everything you ever wanted to know about ISIS but were way too afraid to ask.
The co-authors are not pointy-headed, chin-pulling professors pontificating from an ivory tower, but rather boots on the ground reporting on knowledge accumulated from considerable personal experience. Hassan is a native Syrian from a town that has long served as a portal for jihadists moving back and forth from Iraq. And Weiss is a veteran journalist whose beat was the war-torn city of Aleppo before it became an ISIS fiefdom ruled by Sharia law.
The book explains how ISIS was created in the wake of a split between two al-Qaida leaders, Osama bin Laden and the even more fanatical Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Over the ensuing years, the terrorist organization has evolved into a trans-national arms and oil trafficking cartel capable of deploying foot soldiers anywhere in the Middle East. It also employs sophisticated marketing methods to recruit new members, and has managed to infiltrate many rival organizations before sabotaging them from within.
Perhaps most critically, ISIS has succeeded in positioning itself in the minds of many Sunni Muslims as the sect’s last line of defense against the United States, Israel and a host of supposedly-apostate Arab states. And it relies on a religious rationale to advocate the slaughter of such infidels by any means necessary.
A chilling wake-up call shedding light on a frightening force hell bent on resurrecting a medieval Islamic empire with malevolent global aspirations.

To order a copy of ISIS, visit: