Friday, June 24, 2016
Thursday, June 23, 2016
Film Review by Kam Williams
It's Surfer vs. Shark in Harrowing Tale of Survival Offshore
Nancy Adams (Blake Lively) was so shaken by her mother's (Janelle Bailey) untimely death that she's dropped out of med school. In order to feel closer to her dearly departed mom, she's decided to vacation at the same exotic Mexican retreat where she was reportedly conceived back in 1991. An avid surfer, she also plans to search for the stretch for her mom's favorite beach.
Upon arriving, Nancy is so impatient to find that idyllic, uncharted spot, that she impulsively heads for the ocean with her surfboard, handbag and smartphone, abandoning her bushed traveling companion at the hotel. Instead, she accepts a ride to the shore from the very obliging Carlos (Oscar Jaenada), an affable local yokel who is more than happy to serve as the bikini-clad hitchhiker's chauffeur and navigator.
He drives away right after depositing her at the secluded cove, yet Nancy has no qualms about being left alone, since she does have cell service. Next thing you know, she's blissfully paddling out to deep water where she's surrounded by a pod of playful dolphins as she starts riding the mammoth waves.
The plot thickens soon after she spots the bobbing carcass of a humpback whale. What Nancy doesn't recognize until it's too late is that she's inadvertently entered the feeding grounds of a still-hungry shark who'd rather dine on human flesh than cetacean.
She subsequently suffers a nasty gash from the initial attack but is somehow able to swim to a tiny, low-lying island nearby. Her medical training comes in handy as she quickly fashions a tourniquet from part of her outfit.
Still, with high tide coming in a matter of hours, she knows that she's got to figure out how to survive once this temporary sanctuary sinks below sea level. The shore is 200 yards away, which is way to far to swim with a determined predator steadily circling as her blood drips into the water.
A couple of potential rescuers (Jose Manuel Trujillo Salas and Angelo Josue Lozano Corzo) show up, but hope fades fast when the dopey duo simply starts swimming without noticing the damsel-in-distress. The next beachgoer (Diego Espejel) does see that Nancy's in need, but he seizes the opportunity to steal her phone and other personal effects left on the sand.
This means spunky Nancy must survive by her wits, a daunting challenge given her dire straits. Thus unfolds The Shallows, an engaging, edge-of-the-seat thriller expertly directed by Jaume Collett-Serra (Non-Stop) to ratchet up the tension.
The movie borrows elements from Jaws (headstrong, maniacal shark), Castaway (this stranded heroine bonds with a seagull instead of a volleyball), Blue Crush (oodles of gratuitous titillation) and MacGyver (a brilliant tinkerer exhibits endless ingenuity). The good news is that it all has been sewn together quite seamlessly yielding a thoroughly enjoyable screamfest reminding us that it's still not safe to swim in the ocean.
Excellent (4 stars)
Rated PG-13 for bloody images, intense scenes of peril and brief profanity
Running time: 87 minutes
Distributor: Columbia Pictures
To see a trailer for The Shallows, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EgdxIlSuB70
Posted by Kam at 12:36 PM
Posted by Kam at 2:23 AM
Tuesday, June 21, 2016
On television, Mahershala was recently cast in Netflix's Luke Cage in the role of Cornell "Cottonmouth" Stokes. He can also be seen on the award-winning Netflix original series House of Cards, where he's reprising his fan-favorite role as lobbyist and former press secretary Remy Danton.
Mahershala's previous feature film credits include The Place Beyond the Pines opposite Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper, Crossing Over starring Harrison Ford, John Sayles' Go For Sisters, and David Fincher's The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
On television, he appeared opposite Julia Ormond in Lifetime's The Wronged Man for which he subsequently received an NAACP Nomination for Best Actor. He also had a large recurring role on Syfy's Alphas, as well as the role of Richard Tyler, a Korean War pilot, on the critically-acclaimed drama The 4400.
On the stage, Mahershala appeared in productions of Blues for an Alabama Sky, The School for Scandal, A Lie of the Mind, A Doll's House, Monkey in the Middle, The Merchant of Venice, The New Place and Secret Injury, Secret Revenge. His additional stage credits include appearing in Washington, D.C. at the Arena Stage in the title role of The Great White Hope, and in The Long Walk and Jack and Jill.
Here, Mahershala talks about playing in Free State of Jones, a Civil War saga co-starring Matthew McConaughey, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Keri Russell.
Posted by Kam at 10:56 AM
Monday, June 20, 2016
by Kam Williams
At the picture's point of departure in 2005, we find members of a Special-Ops team already embroiled in a deadly shootout overseas with Armenian mobsters. They accomplish the dangerous mission, namely, freeing a mysterious figure known as The Vigilante (Paul Sloan), leaving bodies strewn all over the place in the process.
Fast-forward to the present and we find Mike Hanover (Jason Mewes) now searching for the psychos who killed his brother, namely, The Vigilante and his sidekick, The Kid (Kevin L. Walker). What ensues might best be described as a gruesome snuff flick with a good sense of humor.
There's an abundance of excellent acting by guys who know how to die on screen. One gunshot victim, is more concerned about his ruined suit than his wounds, yelling "Yo, mother-[expletive], this is Gucci!" at his attacker.
Without any logic or explanation, the revenge theme eventually morphs into a terrorist scenario. Suddenly, we have a character called Barrington (Michael Jai White) talking about somebody being offered a billion dollars to set off nuclear IED's all over L.A.
Despite the fact that this high-octane thriller never made any sense, I must confess that it held me in its thrall from start to finish purely on the strength of the over-stimulation of its incessant visual capture.
Good (2 stars)
Rated R for sexuality, nudity, graphic violence and pervasive profanity
In English and Armenian with subtitles
Running time: 108 minutes
Distributor: Anchor Bay Entertainment
To see a trailer for Vigilante Diaries, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kl3cEhULgsQ
Posted by Kam at 5:06 PM
Sunday, June 19, 2016
by Kam Williams
Reverential Retrospective Examines the Underappreciated Brain of Brilliant Rock Legend
Frank Zappa (1940-1993) is best remembered as the front man and lead guitarist of the Mothers of Invention, the avant-garde rock band that started developing a dedicated cult following in 1966 with the release of its debut album, "Freak Out!" The group's irreverent, anti-establishment anthems satirizing the status quo resonated with the emerging Hippie Generation's counter-cultural attitudes.
The long hair and rebel image overshadowed Frank's roots as a classical virtuoso influenced by such 20th Century greats as Edgar Varese and Igor Stravinsky. He began composing chamber music at the age of 14 and didn't write his first rock song with lyrics until after he turned 21.
Even after finding fame, Frank remained desperate to be taken seriously as an artist. Consequently, he quite obviously became quite frustrated over the course of his career by the constraints imposed by his packaging as a hippie rock idol.
An inveterate iconoclast, he was also very outspoken on subjects ranging from politics to drugs to the music business. And he often confounded journalists with his surprising stances on prevailing social issues. For example, he was extremely anti-drugs in an era when many of his fans and contemporaries were experimenting with marijuana, LSD and other so-called recreational narcotics.
In terms of his record company, he hated the fact that MGM had the nerve to censor his tunes without his permission. He further observed that, in general, "Musicians are regarded as useless adjuncts of society, unless you write a Coca-Cola jingle."
A free speech advocate, he felt that "Dirty words are a fantasy manufactured by government fanatics and religious organizations to keep people stupid." Just as suspicious of the Left and the Right, he asserted that "Any sort of political ideology that doesn't take into account people's differences is Fascistic."
Eat That Question is a reverential rockumentary directed by Germany's Thorsten Schutte. The informative film contains reams of archival footage featuring its loquacious subject expounding his personal philosophy. The intriguing biopic includes some performances, too, but the cerebral production proves far more fascinating when focusing on what made the man tick than on his music.
A riveting retrospective plumbing the depths of the brilliant mind of a Renaissance man underappreciated in his own time.
Excellent (4 stars)
Rated R for profanity, sexual references and brief nudity
Running time: 82 minutes
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics
To see a trailer for Eat That Question, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eB7XUpSUnoQ
Posted by Kam at 9:43 AM
Saturday, June 18, 2016
Posted by Kam at 12:55 PM