Friday, April 29, 2016

Top Ten DVD Releases for 5-3-16

This Week’s DVD Releases
by Kam Williams


Top Ten DVD List for May 3, 2016

East Side Sushi

Hostile Border


Easy Rider [The Criterion Collection]

Top Gun [30th Anniversary Steelbook]

The Randolph Scott Round-Up Volume Two: Six Classic Westerns [The Desperadoes / The Nevadan / Santa Fe / Man in the Saddle / Hangman's Knot / The Stranger Wore a Gun]

The Brokenwood Mysteries: Series Two

Henry Gamble's Birthday Party

Hammer Films Collection: Volume Two [Creatures the World Forgot / The Revenge of Frankenstein / Maniac/ Never Take Candy from a Stranger / The Snorkel / Die! Die! My Darling!]

The Club

Bikes vs Cars


Honorable Mention

Dog House: The Complete Series

Let's Learn: S.T.E.M. Volume Two

Dolly Parton's Coat of Many Colors

Hyena Road

Bob the Builder: Construction Heroes!


Sharkansas Women's Prison Massacre


The 5th Wave


Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Club

DVD Review by Kam Williams

Pedophile Priests Shown Sympathy in South American Drama


The Oscar-winning Best Picture Spotlight addressed the problem of pedophilia in the priesthood from the point of view of the victims. But if you're looking for a take on the issue more sympathetic to the perpetrators, have I got a movie for you. 
 
Nominated for a Golden Globe in the Best Foreign Language Film category, The Club is a disturbing, deliberately-paced drama for the very open-minded directed by Pablo Larrain (Post Mortem). The picture is set at a mountaintop estate nestled along the Chilean seacoast where a half-dozen defrocked clergymen have been sent to repent. 
 
The secluded retreat is run with a firm hand by Sister Monica (Antonia Zegers), a disgraced nun with a checkered past of her own. Nevertheless. it's her job to enforce house rules dictated by the Vatican including no communication with outsiders, no cell phones, no self-pleasuring, no self-flagellation, and a vow of poverty.

Consequently, the former pastors' Spartan-like daily regime consists of little more than chores, attending mass, confessing their sins and praying the rosary between meals. Still, there is much to be gleaned from the clerics' conversations among themselves.

This one feigns innocence, claiming, "I didn't commit a crime. I'm not a queer." Another, ostensibly wracked with guilt, eventually finds a gun and shoots himself in the head, when he can no longer live with himself. And there's an unrepentant soul who says "I see the light of the Lord in homosexuality," arguing that man-boy love brings one closer to God than heterosexuality. 
 
Rules are made to be broken, and the plot thickens when a housemate sneaks into town where he forges a friendship with a fellow pederast offering to procure all the local kids he'd like to rape. Will he or won't he take the creep up on the offer? 
 
An eerily-unsettling examination of pedophilia from the perspective of the perpetrators suggesting that these sex offenders might not be monsters, but merely misunderstood children of God.



Very Good (3 stars)
Unrated
In Spanish with subtitles
Running time: 97 minutes
Distributor: Music Box Films
DVD Extras: Commentary by co-stars Alfredo Castro and Antonia Zegers; interviews with Antonia Zegers and director Pablo Larrain; Berlinale press conference excerpt; and a collector's booklet featuring cast and crews interviews and an essay by film critic Jessica Kiang.



To see a trailer for The Club, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e8c2DYoF7lA


To order a copy of The Club on DVD, visit:

 

Kam's Kapsules for Movies Opening 5-6-16

OPENING THIS WEEK
Kam's Kapsules:
Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun
by Kam Williams
For movies opening May 5, 2016


BIG BUDGET FILMS

A Bigger Splash (R for profanity, graphic sexuality, frontal nudity and brief drug use) Erotic thriller, loosely based on La Piscine (1969), revolving around a rock icon (Tilda Swinton) whose vacation with her boyfriend (Matthias Schoenaerts) on a remote Italian island is disrupted by the arrival of an old friend (Ralph Fiennes) with his daughter (Dakota Johnson) in tow. Featuring Lily McMenamy, Aurore Clement and Elena Bucci.

Captain America: Civil War (PG-13 for extended sequences of violence, action and mayhem) 13th episode in the Marvel Cinematic Universe series finds the Avengers split into a pair of adversarial factions, freedom lovers led by Captain America (Chris Evans), and a pro-government camp led by Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.). With Scarlett Johansson, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie and Paul Rudd.


INDEPENDENT & FOREIGN FILMS

Beautiful Something (Unrated) Homoerotic ensemble drama following the fates of four gay males (Colman Domingo, Zack Ryan, John Lescault and Brian Sheppard) dealing with relationships over the course of one very eventful evening. With David Melissaratos, Grant Lancaster and Matthew Rios.

Dark Horse (PG for mature themes and mild epithets) Inspirational, rags-to-riches documentary recounting how a group of working-class Welshmen successfully pooled their resources to raise a great racehorse.

Elsetree 1976 (Unrated) Nostalgic documentary featuring fond reminiscences by extras and actors who played supporting roles in the original Star Wars movie. Cast includes Paul Blake, Jeremy Bulloch and John Chapman.

A Monster with a Thousand Heads (Unrated) Revenge thriller about a desperate woman (Jana Raluy) who takes the law into her own hands after her insurance company denies medical care for cancer-stricken husband. Featuring Sebastian Aguirre, Hugo Algores and Emilio Echevarria. (In Spanish with subtitles)

Mothers and Daughters (PG-13 for mature themes and brief drug use) Ensemble drama serendipitously interweaving numerous characters' meditations on motherhood. Cast includes Susan Sarandon, Selma Blair, Sharon Stone, Courteney Cox, Christina Ricci and Mira Sorvino.

Pele: Birth of a Legend (PG for smoking, mature themes and mild epithets) Soccer boiopic chronicling the legendary Pele's (Kevin de Paula) rise from the slums of Sao Paulo to lead Brazil to its first World Cup victory when he was just 17 years-old. With Colm Meaney, Vincent D'Onofrio and Rodrigo Santoro.

Phantom of the Theatre (Unrated) Haunted house horror flick, set in Shanghai, revolving around the reopening of a cursed theater, 13 years after a performance troupe was murdered there. Co-starring Ruby Lin, Simon Yam and Tony Yo-ning Yang. (In Mandarin with subtitles)

Rabin in His Own words (Unrated) Reverential biopic about Yitzhak Rabin (1922-1995), narrated by the assassinated Israeli Prime Minister himself via a combination of home movies and archival news footage. (In Hebrew with subtitles)

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Dough


Film Review by Kam Williams


Jewish Baker Takes Muslim Apprentice in Unlikely-Buddies Dramedy


Nat (Jonathan Pryce) is the owner of Dayan and Son, a Kosher bakery located in London. The store's name is a bit of a misnomer since he's been the only Dayan working there ever since his father passed away.

Nat's disappointed that his own son, Stephen (Daniel Caltagirone), opted to become a lawyer rather than join the family business. Consequently, he had to settle for teaching the tricks of the trade to a neighborhood kid (Dominic Garfield), only to have that sole assistant eventually stolen away by Sam Cotton (Philip Davis), a conniving competitor planning to open another bakery right next door.

To add insult to injury, Cotton is also wining and dining Nat's lonely landlord Joanna Silverman (Pauline Collins), not out of affection, but to buy the building for a song. If successful, he'll be able to kick Nat out once the lease expires. Worst of all, Dayan and Son is having trouble staying afloat due to a dwindling clientele that's dying off.

Nat's fortunes change soon after he hires Ayyash (Jerome Holder), a teenaged Muslim immigrant from Darfur, as his new apprentice. For, it isn't long before the store is attracting long lines of customers. 
 
But what Nat doesn't know is that Ayyash has been spiking the batter with marijuana. That's the reason for the sudden increase in satisfied shoppers. Of course, it's just a matter of time before the cat's out of the bag, and matters come to a head when the proprietor gets an explanation for his skyrocketing profits.

Thus unfolds Dough, a tender-hearted dramedy directed by John Goldschmidt (Maschenka). The cross-cultural adventure milks most of its humor and tension out of the friendship grudgingly forged between between unlikely-buddies Nat and Ayyash. The picture effectively contrasts the former's being old, Jewish,white, British and middle-class with the latter's being young, Muslim, black, African and living hand to mouth. 
 
The film also features a surprising number of intriguing subplots, including a love triangle involving Nat, Joanna and Cotton; Ayyash and his mother's (Natasha Gordon) becoming homeless, Nat's neglected granddaughter (Melanie Freeman) craving quality time with her grampa, and Ayyash's antagonizing a vengeful drug dealer (Ian Hart).

By the closing tableau, all the loose ends are tied up quite satisfactorily, and we've also learned a very timely lesson in tolerance. 'Dough'-lightful!



Excellent (4 stars)
Unrated
Running time: 94 minutes
Studio: Viva Films
Distributor: Menemsha Films


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

Monday, April 25, 2016

Tyler James Williams

The “RePlay” Interview

with Kam Williams





Tyler Talks about His New Sci-Fi Series


Born in Westchester County, New York on October 9, 1992, Tyler James Williams can be seen this spring co-starring as computer whiz Monty in CBS' Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders, a new spinoff series. Early last year, he guest-starred as Noah in AMC’s The Walking Dead.

In 2014, he impersonated Steve Urkel on Key & Peele. The skit received rave reviews and was named the #1 sketch of the year by New York Magazine.

On the big screen, Tyler starred as Lionel Higgins in the breakout film Dear White People, a satire about being a black face in a very white place. The picture was well-received, including winning the Special Jury Prize at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. The year before, he appeared in Peeples opposite Kerry Washington and Craig Robinson.

Tyler might be best known for his work on the Emmy Award-winning series Everybody Hates Chris for which he won a 2007 NAACP Image Award for Best Actor in a Comedy Series. In 2012, he was nominated for another Image Award for his performance as a gifted rapper plagued by self-doubt in the Disney Channel Original Movie, Let It Shine.

Tyler began acting at the age of 4 on Sesame Street and he subsequently co-starred in the animated series Little Bill. His other television credits include Law & Order: SVU, as well as numerous appearances in sketches on Saturday Night Live.

An accomplished musician, Tyler recently released a mixtape with his brother Tyrel titled Me, My Brother & a Mic. Here, he talks about starring in RePlay, a scripted time-loop series from New Form Digital which debuted on April 20th.

To see the premiere episode of RePlay, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IY6iJrat8K4 

Kam Williams: Hi Tyler, thanks for the interview.
Tyler James Williams: Thank you, Kam.

KW: What interested you in RePlay?
TJW: I just really liked the story and I loved the movie Groundhog’s Day.

KW: How would you describe the series in 140 characters or less?
TJW: It’s DJ Allison Lee’s (Lyndsy Fonseca) 25th birthday party and she just HAS to impress promoters. She fails and wishes for another try. She gets 25 chances to get it right.

KW: The premise does sound a little like Groundhog's Day.
TJW: Yes, I would describe it as a modern day Groundhog’s Day. I really liked RePlay because it wasn’t just Allison’s character that experienced a replay, but eventually her friends realize they are also reliving the same day. And it is interesting to see how humans would act if they knew there were never any consequences for their actions because the next day they could wake up and just redo it.

KW: If you had an opportunity to repeat the most important day of your life until you got it right, would you?
TJW: Oh man, I think I would. I would probably take a really bad date from when I was younger where just everything went wrong.

KW: How would you describe your character?
TJW: I play Nate who is Allison’s best friend, but he is secretly in love with her. He is in the “friends zone,” but really tries to get out of it. Each day, he gets a bit more desperate.

KW: What is your favorite dish to cook?
TJW: I love breakfast food any time of the day.

KW: Ling-Ju Yen asks: What is your earliest childhood memory?
TJW: Well I remember everything from my days shooting Sesame Street. It was such an incredible experience. My mom also convinced me to steal one of Big Bird's feathers, which I still have.

KW: Sherry Gillam would like to know what is the most important life lesson you've learned so far?
TJW: Patience, always be patient. I also believe everything happens for a reason. 
 
KW: What's the craziest thing you've ever done?
TJW: Hmm... How about shooting the RePlay party scene over and over again and doing the wake up scene 25 times on the same day in a row! That was pretty crazy! [Laughs]

KW: What is your guiltiest pleasure?
TJW: When I am in New York, I love going to a Chinese restaurant and ordering chicken wings and fries.

KW: “Realtor to the Stars” Jimmy Bayan asks: What’s your dream locale in Los Angeles to live?
TJW: I really like where I live in L.A. right now. I live in the Valley and I feel I picked a spot that has some New York aspects. There are diners and a corner store.

KW: Finally, what’s in your wallet?
TJW: Money and a hair tie for my personal trainer Jimmy. You never know when he needs to put it up in a man bun. [Laughs] I am really into fitness right now and trying to bulk up.

KW: Thanks again for the time, Tyler, and best of luck with all your endeavors.
TJW: My pleasure, Kam.


To see a trailer for RePlay, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4gg51v9OVF0


To watch episodes of RePlay, visit: https://www.go90.com/

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Dispatches from the Gulf

Film Review by Kam Williams


Eco-Documentary Assesses State of the Gulf of Mexico Six Years after Catastrophic Oil Spill


On April 20, 2010, an explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon oil rig claimed 11 lives while igniting a fireball that could be seen as far as 40 miles away. The blowout also triggered a leak of over 200 million gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico, the worst spill in American history. 
 
Short term, the frightening disaster certainly had a catastrophic effect on the Gulf's fisheries, fauna, water and wildlife. Nevertheless, many wondered whether the region would ever recover from the tragedy. 
 
A team of experts decided to tackle that question, and the upshot of that effort is Dispatches from the Gulf, an eco-documentary directed by Hal Weiner (Journey to Planet Earth). Narrated by Matt Damon, the film relates some very surprising findings on the part of the scientists. 
 
For example, they learned that "the sun has done a remarkable job of breaking down the oil molecules." About half of the petroleum slime has evaporated, a quarter of it washed up on beaches, and the other quarter was either burned or siphoned off by dispersants. 
 
In terms of the seafood industry, it turns out that Gulf fish have substantially recovered, although they are generally smaller than they used to be. However, they did discover contaminated coral still consuming oil on the ocean floor when they descended via submersible to a depth of 5,000 feet.

In the end, the group concluded that the monitoring of the Gulf must continue, as there are no easy answers and no quick fixes for this unprecedented, man-made calamity with unanticipated fallout remaining a distinct possibility. Meanwhile, the next time you're in New Orleans, consider it perfectly safe to order the gumbo again!



Excellent (4 stars)
Unrated
Running time: 60 minutes
Distributor: Screenscope


To see a trailer for Dispatches from the Gulf, visit: http://youtu.be/p_yD9ABHWdA



Hockney

Film Review by Kam Williams


Reverential Retrospective Revisits Life and Career of Charismatic Pop Artist

David Hockney was born in Bradford, England in 1937 which means that his formative years were substantially shaped by World War II, from the air raids to the food rationing. He attended both the Bradford College of Art and the Royal College of Art before scraping up just enough money to move to the United States.

In 1964, he settled in California where he became one of the seminal founders of the Pop Art movement. Like his contemporary Andy Warhol, Hockney had a knack for drawing the attention of the press, between his bleached blond hair and his flamboyant wardrobe. 
 
But while both icons were gay, only David dared to feature homoerotic themes in his art. Despite the stigma associated with homosexuality back in the Sixties, he still managed to achieve enormous success. 
 
That enduring career as well as his self-indulgent private life prove to be fertile fodder for Hockney, a reverential biopic featuring a mix of home movie footage and intimate interviews with David's friends and associates. The intriguing documentary marks the feature film 
directorial debut of Randall Wright, who does a great job of humanizing his subject to the point where you really feel as though you know this inscrutable, if charismatic public figure. 
 
A fascinating examination of the mind, motivations and legacy of one of the 20th Century's most important, modern artists.




Excellent (4 stars)
Unrated
Running time: 112 minutes
Distributor: Film Movement


To see a trailer for Hockney, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zFRyJ0GyNHw