Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Kam's Kapsules

 Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun
For Movies Opening 9-9-16
by Kam Williams



OPENING THIS WEEK

BIG BUDGET FILMS

The Disappointments Room (R for sexuality, profanity, violence and bloody images) Haunted house thriller about a family (Kate Beckinsale, Duncan Joiner and Mel Raido) that moves from Brooklyn to a mansion in the country only to unwittingly unleash demonic forces sitting dormant in the attic. With Gerald McRaney, Lucas Till and Michaela Conlin. 

Sully (PG-13 for peril and brief profanity) Tom Hanks portrays Sully Sullenberger in Clint Eastwood's re-enactment of the US Airways pilot's heroic crash landing of his crippled plane on the Hudson River in January of 2009. Cast includes Laura Linney, Aaron Eckhart and Anna Gunn.

When the Bough Breaks (PG-13 for violence, sexuality, mature themes, profanity, disturbing images and partial nudity) Psychological thriller about a couple (Morris Chestnut and Regina Hall) forced to resort to desperate measures when the surrogate mom (Jaz Sinclair) hired to bear their baby suddenly develops feelings for the father. With Theo Rossi, Justin Lebrun and Sue-Lynn Ansari.

The Wild Life (PG for peril, mild action and rude humor) Animated adventure unfolding from the perspective of the peaceful creatures living on a tropical island whose tranquility is disrupted by the arrival of Robinson Crusoe (Matthias Schweighofer). Voice cast includes Kaya Yanar, Ilka Bessin and Aylin Tezel.


INDEPENDENT & FOREIGN FILMS

Author: The JT Leroy Story (R for sexuality, drug use, violent images and pervasive profanity) Out-of-the-closet documentary revealing that fiction writer Laura Albert is the real person behind the pen name JT Leroy .

Cameraperson (Unrated) Reverential documentary chronicling the career of Kirsten Johnson, cinematographer of the Oscar-winning, documentary Citizenfour and other groundbreaking exposes.

Defying the Nazis: The Sharps' War (Unrated) Ken Burns co-directed this documentary recounting the heroic mission mounted in 1939 by American minister Waitstill Sharp and his wife Martha to rescue scores of Jewish refugees fleeing the Nazi occupation of Europe. Voice cast includes Tom Hanks and Marina Goldman.

For the Love of Spock (Unrated) Obsessed fan biopic chronicling the enduring appeal of the late Leonard Nimoy, as well as the beloved character he originated on Star Trek, Dr. Spock. Featuring commentary by Williams Shatner, J.J. Abrams, Chris Pine, Zoe Saldana, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, Simon Pegg and Zachary Quinto.

Ithaca (PG for mature themes, smoking and a violent image) Meg Ryan makes her directorial debut with this adaptation of The Human Comedy, William Saroyan's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, set in 1942, revolving around a 14 year-old's (Alex Neustaedter) attempt to provide for his widowed mother (Ryan) and siblings (Spencer Howell and Christine Nelson) after his older brother (Jack Quaid) goes off to fight in World War II. With Sam Shepard, Hamish Linklater and Nick Williams.

Kicks (R for pervasive profanity and for teen drug and alcohol abuse, sexuality and violence) Coming-of-adventure, set in inner-city Oakland, revolving around a 15 year-old's (Jahking Guillory) attempt to retrieve a pricey pair of sneakers stolen right off his feet. With Christopher Wallace, Jr. (Biggie's son), Christopher Meyer, Kofi Siriboe and Mahershala Ali.

London Road (Unrated) Crime drama recounting real-life events which transpired in 2006 when the peace of the quaint town of Ipswich, England was rocked by the murders of five women. Co-starring Olivia Colman, Clare Burt and Rosalie Craig.

Starving the Beast (Unrated) College tuition expose examining the push to reform America's public universities so that the cost of a higher education will be borne directly by its student beneficiaries rather than by the general public.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Emayatzy Corinealdi

The “Roots” Interview
with Kam Williams

Amazing Emayatzy!

Born at Fort Knox, Kentucky on January 14, 1980, Emayatzy Corinealdi was an army brat whose family moved around a lot during her childhood as dictated by her dad's military career. After stints around the country and overseas, she put down roots in New Jersey, which enabled her to study at the Actor's Training Studio as well as William Esper Studio.

She parlayed a recurring role on the TV soap opera The Young and the Restless into a critically-acclaimed starring one in Ava DuVernay's Middle of Nowhere (2012). She's since appeared in the screen adaptation of Zane's erotic thriller Addicted (2014), and as Miles Davies' wife Frances in miles Ahead (2016).

Here, Emayatzy talks about her latest out as Belle, Kunta Kinte's (Malachi Kirby) wife, in the remake of Roots.


Kam Williams: Hi Emayatzy, thanks for the time.
Emayatzy Corinealdi: Thanks, Kam.

KW: What interested you in Roots?
EC: The idea of bringing the story of the history of this country to a new generation was an important conversation that I believe is necessary, given the current climate of race relations in the United Slates.

KW: How did you prepare to play Belle Reynolds? Did you watch the original miniseries?
EC: What was happening everyday in this country: police brutality, injustice, people feeling angry and ignored, all of these issues were things that helped to prepare me. That coupled with the knowledge that I have since gained about enslavement and its history.

KW: Did you have any emotional moments on the set during the shooting?
EC: Every day was an emotional moment on set. The final scene, having her daughter Kizzy taken away, might've been one of the toughest by far.

KW: What message do you hope people will take away from the miniseries?
EC: Know your history. It can teach you who you are, where you have come from, and how to be a better person as a result. Also, I hope that young people especially will begin to have a better understanding of slavery and its effects, which are still evident today, To understand those parallels and, from there, begin ta be a part of the wave of hope to change things for the better

KW: You recently portrayed Frances Taylor, Miles Davis' first wife, in the biopic Miles Ahead. Did you feel any extra pressure to get the role right, given that you were playing a real person?
EC: Definitely! I indeed wanted Ms Frances to be pleased while at the same time honoring my director's vision, along with rny own creativity. It is a balancing act which, I am glad to say, did pay off with her approval!

KW: Did you consult Frances in preparation for the role?
EC: For sure. We had quite a few lunches that were filled with great stories, laughter and truth.

KW: Are you a fan of Miles' music?
EC: I am now. I was not as familiar with him before the film. He was always this mysterious man on my father's album covers up until that point.

KW: Ling-Ju Yen asks: What is your earliest childhood memory?
EC: Climbing trees when I was about 9 with my best friend. Climbing trees is still one of my favorite things to do. A tree and a good book and I'm happy.

KW: Was there a meaningful spiritual component to your childhood?
EC: Absolutely! God has always been the head of my life, even before I knew it.

KW: What is your favorite dish to cook?
EC: Arroz con pollo, my father's recipe. He is a chef in Kansas City, and he is fantastic.

KW: The Uduak Oduok question: Who is your favorite clothes designer?
EC: I don't have one. I like what looks good on me and, as a result, I don't find myself drawn to one specific designer all the time.

KW: If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would that be for?
EC: To hug my mother just one more time.

KW: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?
EC: A woman who stands up for what she believes.

KW: What's the craziest thing you've ever done?
EC: Called my friends up at almost midnight to play in a freshly excavated ditch near my house. It was dark, there were piles and piles of dirt, space and opportunity and each and every one of them came and we had a good time. Until the police came, that is. But hey, it adds to the excitement.

KW: Larry Greenberg asks: Do you have a favorite movie monster?
EC: Anton Chigurh from No Country For Old Men. He has taken the place of Jason who was my former favorite. I don't ever want to see that dude anywhere.

KW: AALBC.com founder Troy Johnson asks: What was the last book you read?
EC: "Her Again," a Meryl Streep biography.  

 
KW: Finally, what’s in your wallet?
EC: Capital One was the first thing that carne to mind. [LOL]

KW: Thanks again for the time, Emayatzy, and best of luck with all your ventures.
EC: Take care, Kam.


To see a trailer for Roots, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x-qsh9rXifs



To order a copy of Roots on Blu-ray, visit:



Monday, August 29, 2016

Skiptrace

 
Film Review by Kam Williams




Jackie Chan Teams with Johnny Knoxville for Familiar Unlikely-Buddies Flick


Jackie Chan made dozens of martial arts movies in his native Hong Kong prior to finding phenomenal success stateside in 1998 co-starring with Chris Tucker in the buddy-comedy Rush Hour. Their pairing as unlikely-partners proved so popular that they returned to the well to shoot a couple of sequels in Rush Hour 2 and Rush Hour 3. And Jackie further milked the familiar formula in outings opposite Owen Wilson in Shanghai Noon and Shanghai Knights.

Despite being perhaps a little long-in-the-tooth to still be doing such stunt-driven adventures, the sixty-something matinee idol is back with Skiptrace, a slight variation on the theme co-starring Johnny Knoxville. Knoxville is known for Jackass, the TV and film franchise in which he and a coterie of deranged confederates perform an array of death-defying feats.

Here, he reprises some of his greatest hits, like rolling down the street in a barrel. The same can be said of Chan, as so many of the picture's chase and fight sequences have a feeling of deja vu about them. Nevertheless, a treat is in store for the unintiated, especially youngsters who've never seen either of these leads ply his trade before.

In Skiptrace, Jackie plays Hong Kong detective Benny Chan, and Johnny co-stars as Connor Watts, an American gambler on the run from a Russian casino owner (Charlie Rawes) he fleeced to the tune of a million dollars. At the point of departure, Benny's partner Yung (Eric Tsang) is murdered by a mysterious mobster known as The Matador, and he makes it his mission to bring the creep to justice.

Meanwhile, half a world away, Johnny just happens to witness the kidnapping of Yung's daughter Samantha (Bingbing Fan). So, that makes him invaluable to Benny when the two subsequently cross paths, as much as the detective dislikes the idea of cooperating with a slippery con man.

Directed by Renny Harlin (Die Hard 2), Skiptrace overall is a globe-trotting affair which unfolds at a dizzying pace in the course of visiting a variety of ports-of-call all across the planet. The multi-layered whodunit eventually builds to a big showdown at Kai Tak Cruise Terminal back in Hong Kong, where the case is very satisfactorily resolved.

Though he's certainly no Chris Tucker, Johnny Knoxville does prove a decent enough accomplice for Jackie Chan's endearing combination of antics and acrobatics.




Good (2 stars)
Rated PG-13 for violence, suggestive content, profanity, drug use and brief nudity
Running time: 107 minutes
Distributor: Saban Films


To see a trailer for Skiptrace, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EWUjtb0i7dg

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Top Ten DVD List for 8-30-16

by Kam Williams


This Week’s DVD Releases

The Jungle Book

The Commitments [25th Anniversary Edition]


The Phenom

19-2: Season Two

Grey's Anatomy: The Complete Twelfth Season

Chicago Med: Season One

Star Wars Rebels: Complete Season Two

Me Before You

Shameless: The Complete Sixth Season

Blunt Talk: The Complete First Season


Honorable Mention

Chicago Fire: Season Four

Supernature: Wild Flyers


Friday, August 26, 2016

Kam's Kapsules for Movies Opening 9-2-16

Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun
by Kam Williams

OPENING THIS WEEK
BIG BUDGET FILMS

The Light between Oceans (PG-13 for mature themes and sexuality) Romance drama, set off the coast of Australia in the wake of World War I, about a lighthouse keeper (Michael Fassbender) and his wife (Alicia Vikander) who decide to adopt a baby (Florence Clery) they rescue from a rowboat adrift at sea. Cast includes Rachel Weisz, Leon Ford and Jack Thompson.

Morgan (R for profanity and brutal violence) Sci-fi thriller revolving around a corporate risk-management consultant (Kate Mara) hired to decide whether to terminate the life of a superhuman cyborg (Anya Taylor-Joy) after it attacks one of the scientists that created it. With Toby Jones, Rose Leslie and Michael Yare.

Solace (R for sexuality, nudity, profanity, and pervasive violence and bloody images) Crime thriller about a psychic doctor (Anthony Hopkins) mourning the death of his daughter who joins forces with an FBI agent (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) to apprehend a serial killer (Colin Farrell). Featuring Abbie Cornish, Matt Gerald and Marley Shelton.``


INDEPENDENT & FOREIGN FILMS

In Search of the American Dream (PG-13 for profanity, violence and mature themes) Survival saga about six sibling's attempt to elude the authorities in a race across Texas after their undocumented parents are arrested on the spot and carted away. Co-starring Baldemar Rodriguez, Shaina Sandoval, Kayla Valadez and Jeremy Becerra. (In English and Spanish with subtitles)

Kickboxer: Vengeance (Unrated) High-octane tale action flick about a martial artist (Alain Moussi) who travels from L.A. to Bangkok to avenge the killing of his brother (Darren Shahlavi) by the Muay Thai champion (Dave Bautista). With John-Claude Van Damme, Georges St-Pierre and T.J. Storm.

Ma Rose (Unrated) Jerry Lewis plays the title role in this skeletons-in-the-closet dramedy as a jazz pianist who has just discovered that his terminally-ill wife (Claire Bloom) has been hiding a big secret that makes their 65-year marriage a big lie. Cast includes Kerry Bishe', Dean Stockwell, Fred Willard, Illeana Douglas and Kevin Pollak.

Naam Hai Akira (Unrated) Crime thriller revolving around a headstrong college coed (Sonakshi Sinha) whose life spirals out of control after she unwittingly gets caught up in a conspiracy being hatched by a quartet of crooked cops. With Amit Sadh, Urmila Mahanta, Teena Singh and Mukesh Hariawala. (In Hindi with subtitles)

Sister Cities (Unrated) Dysfunctional family drama revolving around the reunion of four estranged sisters (Troian Bellisario, Stana Katic, Michelle Trachtenberg and Jess Weixler) for the funeral after their mother's (Jacki Weaver) apparent suicide. Support cast includes Alfred Molina, Tom Everett and Kathy Baker.

Skiptrace (PG-13 for violence, suggestive content, profanity, drug use and brief nudity) Action comedy about a Hong Kong detective (Jackie Chan) who teams up with an American gambler (Johnny Knoxville) to arrest the drug kingpin (Winston Chao) who murdered his partner (Eric Tsang). (In English and Mandarin with subtitles)

Summer of 8 (Unrated) Ensemble dramedy set in Santa Monica where we find an octect of high school grads hanging out on the beach during their last days of freedom before going their separate ways to college. Co-starring Carter Jenkins, Michael Grant, Matt Shively, Nick Marini, Shelly Hennig, Bailey Noble, Rachel DiPillo and Natalie Hall.

There Is a New World Somewhere (Unrated) Romance drama about a struggling, NYC artist (Agnes Bruckner) who returns home to Texas for a friend's wedding only to fall for a seductive stranger (Maurice Compte) who talks her into accompanying him on a road trip across the South. With Ashley Bell, John Robinson and Morgan Krantz.

White Girl (Unrated) New York City saga about a hedonistic college coed (Morgan Saylor) whose life spirals out of control after she falls head-over-heels for a bad boy (Brian 'Sene' Marc) dealing dime bags on her block. Cast includes Chris Noth, Justin Bartha and Adrian Martinez.

Tangled Roots

 
Cynthia Groya
Artist Reception Sunday, September 11, 4:00 - 6:00 pm
MUSE Gallery Philadelphia
52 N. 2nd St., Philadelphia Center City
Show Runs from September 1 to October 1, 2016

America’s complex history is a maze of conflicting accounts. While historians and filmmakers on either side of the aisle present countless representations of the way things were, slavery’s unresolved legacy prompts new considerations of things past. While few historical narratives have included African-American perspectives, David Brooks, in a recent NYT op-ed How Artists Change The World, reminds us that escaped slave Frederick Douglass used his freedom to turn stereotypes of “inferior, unlettered, comic and dependent” African-Americans “upside down” by projecting his dignified presence with160 dignified photographic portraits, and in the process “redrawing people’s unconscious mental maps.” (Henry Louis Gates Jr.) Brooks writes that artists, by “implanting pictures in the underwater processing that is upstream from conscious cognition” have the opportunity not to “change your mind,” so much as “smash through some of the warped lenses through which we’ve been taught to see.” Fortunately, more of these stereotype-smashing images from the past are making their way through the water, influencing a changing awareness of our country’s past. Could conscious cognition be far behind?

Tangled Roots, the solo exhibition at MUSE Gallery September 1 - October 1, 2016, is an ongoing effort to “smash through” some of the stereotypes indelibly written on our “mental maps” by the historical narratives of the past. These artworks are not visual recreations of historical events, but rather expressive abstractions referencing the Civil War, the Gettysburg Address, the Emancipation Proclamation and the tangled roots of slavery in our country. Contemporary mixed media paintings of reverse painting on layers of plexiglass, video conversations discussing the relevancy of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, and collage works turning cultural assumptions “upside down” are offered not to change the viewers mind, but to suggest alternative re-imaginings of the mental maps we create for ourselves. 

 Southern Cross Composite Version 6 small file
IMAGE: Southern Cross
"Southern Cross" is based on the lynching of 3,446 African Americans between 1882 and 1968 and the song Strange Fruit, written by Abel Meeropol and made famous by Billie Holiday. The title is inspired by the work of Theologian James H. Cone's The Cross and the Lynching Tree. Strange Fruit was a protest song against the brutality of lynching and indicted racism in America, fueling the rise of the civil rights movement of the 1950's and 1960's.
119" x 90" x 1.75" 9 mirrored plexi-paneled vitrines, mixed media with barbed wire, metallic powders and crystal prisms, inscribed with poetry by Countee Cullen, Claude McKay and Abel Meeropol, set in a gridded metal framework.

Testing (whether that nation)
IMAGE: "testing..."
"testing..." is based on a passage from the Gettysburg Address delivered by Abraham Lincoln at the battlefield commemorating the more than 51,000 soldiers that lost their lives during the three days of battle at Gettysburg during the Civil War.
30" x 36" Acrylic, glass, ash and mixed media on plexi-panel, birch base

For more information, contact Cynthia Groya at  cynthiagroya@comcast.net
Artist’s website: www.cynthiagroya.com

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Hands of Stone


 
Film Review by Kam Williams


Career of Boxing Legend Roberto Duran Revisited in Revisionist Tale of Redemption


Roberto Duran (Edgar Ramirez) is considered by most fight experts to be, pound-for-pound, one of the greatest boxers of all time. The intimidating icon earned his nickname "Hands of Stone" by virtue of his prodigious displays of punching power. 
 
Born in Panama in 1951, Roberto exhibited promise from the moment he first entered the ring at the age of 8. He turned pro at 16 and assumed the World Lightweight title at Madison Square Garden in 1972 after Ken Buchanan (John Duddy) failed to answer the bell for the 14th round. Roberto went on to knock out over 50 foes en route to compiling an impressive 62-1 record as a lightweight before moving up in weight class. 
 
By the time he retired in 2002, Roberto would also hold the world welterweight, light middleweight and middleweight titles. But despite that incredible feat, he appears fated to be best remembered for crying "No mas!" before quitting midway through his Welterweight World Championship rematch with Sugar Ray Leonard (Usher Raymond). And although he would eventually return to the ring, that one display of cowardice effectively overshadowed his sizable subsequent achievements. 
 
Written and directed by Jonathan Jakubowicz (Secuestro Express), Hands of Stone is a reverential biopic which humanizes Roberto while putting a positive spin on his indelible stain. This version of his story blames Duran's failing on his parasitic manager, Carlos Eleta (Ruben Blades), as well as on pressure from the big fight's promoter, Don King (Reg E. Cathey).

Here, we're treated to the backstage specter of a burnt-out Roberto bemoaning his being exploited. "I worked all my life. I didn't have any fun, when I was a kid." Truth be told, not only did he begin boxing young, but he married at an early age, too, 17. And his wife Felicidad (Ana de Armas) was only 14 when they tied the knot. FYI, the couple went on to have 8 children and are still together 47 years later. 
 
If the movie has a flaw, it's in the fight scenes which leave a lot to be desired. Anyone expecting cinema verite on the order of Rocky or Raging Bull, for which Robert De Niro won an Academy Award in 1981, is destined to be disappointed. 
 
Speaking of De Niro, he plays the legendary Ray Arcel who came out of retirement over death threats from the Mafia to train a teenaged Duran. Before you can say "Burgess Meredith," he whips the promising protege into fighting shape, and it's just a matter of time before his diamond in the rough's rags-to-riches dream becomes a reality. 
 
A touching, revisionist tale of redemption presenting the sensitive side of a pulverizing pugilist.



Very Good (3 stars)
Rated R for sexuality, nudity and pervasive profanity
In English and Spanish with subtitles
Running time: 105 minutes
Distributor: The Weinstein Company


To see a trailer for Hands of Stone, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cNzXeY9OBxI