Monday, March 25, 2019

Unplanned


Film Review by Kam Williams


Adaptation of Memoir Recounts Abortion Counselor's Spiritual Transformation

Abby Johnson (Ashley Bratcher) was recruited by Planned Parenthood to do volunteer work when she was still an undergrad at Texas A&M. Her first job was to escort women seeking abortions from the parking lot into the building, past picketers calling them baby killers.
 
Upon graduating from college, she was hired as a counselor at the controversial, reproductive health services provider's clinic in Bryan, Texas. Over the course of the next eight years, she rose up the ranks to office director, even though she was privately conflicted over whether the organization's primary function was to inform pregnant women about their options or merely to perform abortions.

After all, she not only came from a conservative, pro-life family, but felt overwhelming regret about the two abortions she had undergone herself earlier in life. So, between pressure from her parents and the almost daily confrontations with demonstrators, Abby's conscience began to get the better of her.

The moment of truth arrived the day her help was urgently needed in the operating room. And, for the first time in her career, she observed an actual abortion. 

She was shocked by the gruesome procedure which left her convinced that the fetus was a baby. In fact, she felt so guilty that she decided to resign and join the pro-life protesters marching outside the building.

That is the touching transformation convincingly conveyed in Unplanned, a poignant, cinematic portrait co-directed by Chuck Konzelman and Cary Solomon. Unfortunately, abortion is such an incendiary issue, this is the sort of film audiences will be inclined to judge without seeing based on their political persuasion, although it's adapted from Abby Johnson's very personal memoir.

A riveting reminiscence recounting a Planned Parenthood exec's unlikely conversion to outspoken anti-abortion activist.


Very Good (3 stars)
Rated R for disturbing images
Running time: 110 minutes
Distributor: Pure Flix Entertainment

To see a trailer for Unplanned, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gBLWpKbC3ww


Sunday, March 24, 2019

Top Ten DVD List for March 26, 2019

Image result for If Beale Street Could Talk
by Kam Williams


This Week's DVD Releases
 
If Beale Street Could Talk

Stan & Ollie

Capernaum

Aquaman

Isiboshwa

The World before Your Feet

Brighton Beach Memoirs

Second Act

Hostage

Rich Girl

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Kam's Kapsules for movies opening March 22, 2019



Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun
by Kam Williams



OPENING THIS WEEK


WIDE RELEASES
 

Us (R for violence, terror and profanity) Jordan Peele wrote and directed this suspense thriller, set in Santa Cruz, about a vacationing family that finds itself haunted by identical strangers. Co-starring Lupita Nyong'o, Winston Duke, Elisabeth Moss and Anna Diop.


INDEPENDENT & FOREIGN FILMS

Dragged across Concrete (R for profanity, sexuality, nudity, grisly images and graphic violence) Action thriller about a couple of cops (Mel Gibson and Vince Vaughn) who turn to a life of crime after being suspended without pay for police brutality caught on camera. With Don Johnson, Fred Melamed, Michael Jai White and Jennifer Carpenter.

El Chicano (Unrated) Crime saga, set in East L.A., about twins (Raul Castillo) who choose to live their lives on opposite sides of the law. Cast includes Jose Pablo Cantillo, Aimee Garcia and Marlene Forte.

Hotel Mumbai (R for profanity, bloody images and pervasive violence) Fact-based drama recounting the 2008 terrorist attack at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel by radical Islamists which claimed 174 innocent lives. Co-starring Dev Patel, Armie Hammer, Amandeep Singh and Jason Isaacs. (In English, Hindi, Punjabi, Marathi, Greek, Russian, Arabic, Urdu and Persian with subtitles)

Maze (Unrated) Historical drama, set in Northern Ireland in 1983, recreating the infamous jailbreak of 38 IRA members from a maximum security prison. Ensemble cast includes Barry Ward, Martin McCann, Tom Vaughan-Lawlor, Eileen Walsh and Aaron Monaghan.

Ramen Shop (Unrated) Coming-of-age drama revolving around a grief-stricken young chef (Takumi Saitoh) who travels from Japan to Singapore in search of his late parents' recipes only to also uncover some deep family secrets. With Seiko Matsuda, Jeanette Aw and Tsuyoshi Ihara. (In Japanese, Mandarin and English with subtitles)

Sunset (R for violence) Character-driven drama, set in 1913, about a young woman (Juli Jakab) who ventures to Budapest hoping to secure a job at the hat store once owned by her late parents, only to be turned away by the shop's new owner (Vlad Ivanov). Cast includes Susanne Wuest, Bjorn Freiberg and Urs Rechn. (In Hungarian and German with subtitles)

Trading Paint (R for profanity) Action adventure about a legendary father (John Travolta) and son (Toby Sebastian) car racing team who end up facing each other in a high-stakes contest following a falling out. With Shania Twain, Michael Madsen and Kevin Dunn.

Triple Threat (R for profanity and pervasive graphic violence) Action thriller about three down-and-out mercenaries (Tony Jaa, Iko Uwais and Tiger Chen) recruited to protect a billionaire heiress (Celina Jade) from a team of professional assassins (Scott Adkins, Michael Jai White and Michael Bisping) hired to take her out. Supporting cast includes Michael Wong, Daniel Whyte and Selina Lo. (In English, Mandarin and Thai with subtitles)

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Yardie



Film Review by Kam Williams


Elba Makes Directorial Debut with Jamaican Coming-of-Age Drama

Dennis “D” Campbell (Aml Ameen) had the misfortune of growing up in the slums of Kingston, Jamaica in the Seventies at a time when the 'hood was infested with drugs. Orphaned at an early age, he was raised by an older brother he admired, Jerry (Everaldo Creary).

Besides serving as a surrogate father, Jerry was a peacemaker who risked his life pressuring the gangs ruining the community to end their bloody turf war. But Dennis was left traumatized at 13 when his sibling was senselessly shot dead by Clancy (Raheem Edwards), a young member of the Tappa crew.

Fast forward a half-dozen years and we find D doing the bidding of King Fox (Sheldon Shepherd), the leader of Spicer, Tappa's rival gang. When he is asked to smuggle a kilo of cocaine on a plane bound for London, he leaps at the opportunity because not only does Clancy live there now, but so too does Dennis' daughter (Myla-Rae Hutchinson-Dunwell). So, the risky assignment will afford him an opportunity to avenge his brother's murder while reuniting with loved ones.

That is the intriguing set up of Yardie, a coming-of-age drama marking the noteworthy directorial debut of Idris Elba. Adapted from Victor Headley's 1992 novel of the same name, the film is narrated by its intrepid protagonist, a conflicted soul eternally torn between good and evil. 
 
A gritty tale of survival slightly marred by a tendency to telegraph its punches.


Very Good (3 stars)
Unrated
Running time: 101 minutes
Production Companies: Warp Films / BFI Film Fund / Studio Canal
Distributor: Rialto Pictures

To see a trailer for Yardie, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qItW6evHbE8



Sunday, March 17, 2019

Top Ten DVD List for March 19, 2019


by Kam Williams


This Week's DVD Releases
 
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Mary Poppins Returns

The Last Resort

The Rundown

PawParazzi

Accident

The Quake

She Wolf
Ritual

Big Kill



Thursday, March 14, 2019

Five Feet Apart

Film Review by Kam Williams


Romance Drama Revolves around Forbidden Love between Hospitalized Teens



Stella Grant (Haley Lu Richardson) is a typical 17 year-old in most regards. However, she is also suffering from Cystic Fibrosis (CF), a genetic disease which makes her very susceptible to a variety of breathing disorders.

Consequently, she spends much of her time in the hospital receiving a “tune up” for this or that malady. She's currently receiving treatment for bronchitis on a ward with several fellow CF patients, including her gay BFF, Poe (Moises Arias), although there is a strictly-enforced rule that they stay at least six feet apart at all times, because they could easily infect each other. 
 
That regulation is put to the test upon the arrival of newcomer Will Newman (Cole Sprouse), a CF victim with a bacteria which would prove fatal should Stella catch it from him. For, the two kids fall in love at first sight, so they find it hard to resist their raging hormones' urge to merge.

Luckily, nurse Barb (Kimberly Hebert Gregory) is there to monitor the movements of the young patients. She has been particularly vigilant to prevent any rendezvous on her watch, ever since an incident that led to a tragic ending.

Thus unfolds Five Feet Apart, a bittersweet romance drama marking the noteworthy, feature film directorial debut of actor Justin Baldoni (Jane the Virgin). Baldoni deserves considerable credit for coaxing impressive performances out of Haley Lu Richardson and Cole Sprouse who manage to generate convincing chemistry in challenging roles where they can't touch each other.

The movie's sole flaw rests in its unnecessarily adding a melodramatic twist more appropriate for a soap opera. During the picture's climactic moment, we suddenly learn that Stella's prayers for a lung transplant might have miraculously just been answered. A distracting rabbit-out-the-hat development that almost ruins an otherwise poignant love story.


Very Good (3 stars)
Rated PG-13 for profanity, mature themes and suggestive material
Running time: 116 minutes
Production Companies: CBS Films / Wayfarer Entertainment
Distributors: CBS Films / Lionsgate

To see a trailer for Five Feet Apart, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XtgCqMZofqM



Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Kam's Kapsules for movies opening March 15, 2019

 
Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun 
by Kam Williams

OPENING THIS WEEK


WIDE RELEASES


Captive State (PG-13 for action, violence, sexuality, brief profanity and drug use) Sci-fi thriller unfolding in a Chicago neighborhood about a decade after it was occupied by an extraterrestrial force. Co-starring John Goodman, Vera Farmiga, KiKi Layne, Alan Ruck and Machine Gun Kelly.


Five Feet Apart (PG-13 for profanity, mature themes and suggestive material) Romance drama about a couple of teenagers with Cystic Fibrosis (Haley Lu Richardson and Cole Sprouse) who fall in love while been treated in a hospital. With Moises Arias, Parminder Nagra and Claire Forlani.


Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase (PG for peril, mild epithets, mature themes and suggestive material) Sophia Lillis stars in the title role in this adaptation of the second novel in Carolyn Keene's classic mystery series which finds the teen sleuth teaming with her BFFs (Zoe Renee and Mackenzie Graham) to solve a case of paranormal activity in a haunted house. Supporting cast includes Linda Lavin, Laura Wiggins, Andrea Anders and Sam Trammell.



Wonder Park (PG for action and mature themes) Animated fantasy about a motherless 10 year-old (Brianna Denski) who discovers that the magical amusement park she's been imagining really exists in the forest outside of her math camp. Voice cast includes Jennifer Garner, Matthew Broderick, Kenan Thompson, John Oliver and Dr. Ken Jeong.



INDEPENDENT & FOREIGN FILMS

The Aftermath (R for sexuality, nudity, violence and some disturbing images) Adaptation of Rhidian Brook's best seller of the same name, set in the ruins of Hamburg in 1946, chronicling the tensions which arise when a German widower (Alexander Skarsgard) with a troubled daughter (Flora Thiemann) is forced to surrender his mansion to the British colonel (Jason Clarke) in charge of rebuilding the city. With Keira Knightley, Fionn O'Shea and Kate Phillips. (In English and Russian with subtitles)

Faith, Hope & Love (PG for mature themes) Faith-based romantic comedy about a recent divorcee' (Peta Murgatroyd) and a grieving widower (Robert Krantz) who both get a second chance at love after they meet and enter a dance contest as partners. Supporting cast includes Michael “Kramer” Richards, Corbin Bernsen, Ed Asner and M. Emmet Walsh.

Finding Steve McQueen (R for sexual references and pervasive profanity) Crime thriller, set in 1972, about a motley gang of thieves' attempt to steal $30 million from Richard Nixon's slush fund of illegal campaign contributions. Co-starring Travis Fimmel, Forest Whitaker, Rachael Taylor, William Fichtner and Rhys Coiro.

The Hummingbird Project (R for pervasive profanity) Finance drama about a couple of cousins (Jesse Eisenberg and Alexander Skarsgard) who hatch a plan to make millions high-frequency trading by constructing their own fiber optic cable running from Kansas City to New Jersey. Featuring Salma Hayek, Michael Mando and Ayisha Issa.

The Mustang (R for profanity, violence and drug use) Rehabilitation drama about a convicted felon (Matthias Schoenaerts) who is given a shot at redemption when he is placed in a horse training program run by a no-nonsense vet (Bruce Dern). With Jason Mitchell, Connie Britton and Josh Stewart.

Yardie (Unrated) Idris Elba makes his directorial debut with this adaptation of Victor Headley's crime caper of the same name, set in the Seventies, about a young Jamaican (Aml Ameen) hired by a local drug kingpin (Sheldon Shepherd) to smuggle a shipment of cocaine to a British gangster (Stephen Graham) located in London. With Shantol Jackson, Fraser James and Akin Gazi.