Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Kam's Kapsules for movies opening July 7, 2017

 
Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun
by Kam Williams


OPENING THIS WEEK

BIG BUDGET FILMS

A Ghost Story (R for brief profanity and a disturbing image) Romantic fantasy revolving around a recently-deceased musician (Casey Affleck) whose spirit miraculously returns home to comfort his inconsolable wife (Rooney Mara). Supporting cast includes Kenneisha Thompson, Will Oldham, Liz Franke and Kesha.

Spider-Man: Homecoming (PG-13 for action, violence, profanity and suggestive comments) Tom Holland assumes the title role in this reboot of the Marvel Comics franchise which finds Peter Parker living with his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) and attending high school in Queens while being mentored by Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) until it's time to morph into his superhero alter ego to engage a new nemesis (Michael Keaton). With Gwyneth Paltrow, Jon Favreau, Zendaya, Donald Glover and Tyne Daly.


INDEPENDENT & FOREIGN FILMS

Austin Found (Unrated) Midlife crisis dramedy about a fame-craving, former beauty queen (Linda Cardellini) who has her daughter (Ursula Parker) kidnapped in order to land back in the limelight. With Craig Robinson, Skeet Ulrich, Patrick Warburton and Jaime Pressly.

City of Ghosts (R for profanity and disturbing violence) War on Terror documentary chronicling an intrepid band of Syrian journalists' efforts to shed light on ISIS' gruesome crimes against humanity.

Hickok (Unrated) Luke Hemsworth plays Wild Bill Hickok in this biopic where the legendary lawman's reputation as the fastest draw in the West is put to the test while trying to restore peace in a wild frontier town. Co-starring Trace Adkins, Kris Kristofferson and Bruce Dern.

Santoalla (Unrated) Missing persons documentary revolving around a grieving Dutch widow's investigation into her husband mysterious disappearance a decade after they moved to a tiny Spanish village inhospitable to outsiders. (In English and Galician with subtitles)
Swim Team (Unrated) Inspirational documentary highlighting the exploits of three members of the Jersey Hammerheads, a competitive swimming team composed entirely of teens on the autism spectrum.

Undercover Grandpa (PG-13 for violence and suggestive material) Action comedy about a shy teen (Dylan Everett) who enlists the assistance of his grandfather's (James Caan) World War II buddies to rescue the kidnapped girl of his dreams (Greta Onieogou). With Lou Gossett, Jr., Paul Sorvino and Jessica Walter.




Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Baby Driver




Film Review by Kam Williams


Mob Wheelman Puts Pedal to the Metal in Adrenaline-Fueled Blockbuster

All you really need to know about Baby Driver is that it's the best film of the year so far, hands down. The picture was written and directed by Edgar Wright, who is best known for a trio of British comedies starring Simon Pegg: Shaun of the Dead (2004), Hot Fuzz (2007) and The World's End (2013).

Wright ventured across the Atlantic to Atlanta to shoot his latest offering, a labor of love a couple of decades in the making. For, this genre-defying tour de force had its genesis in "Bellbottoms," a discordant punk anthem he considered a song in search of a car chase from the moment he first heard it way back in 1995. 
 
And that cult classic isn't the only obscure tune on Baby Driver's eclectic soundtrack featuring rarities ranging from T. Rex's "Debora," to Blur's "Intermission," to The Damned's "Neat Neat Neat." But the adrenaline-fueled blockbuster has it shares of readily-recognizable hits, too, like the Commodores' "Easy," Martha Reeves and the Vandellas' "Nowhere to Run" and "Hocus Pocus" by Focus, famous for its yodeling. 
 
The music-driven masterpiece has an A-list cast that includes Oscar-winners Jamie Foxx (for Ray) and Kevin Spacey (for American Beauty and The Usual Suspects), Emmy-winner Jon Hamm (for Mad Men) and two-time, SAG Award-winner Lily James (for Downton Abbey). However, the film is carried by an up-and-coming thespian, Ansel Elgort.

He plays Baby, a deaf getaway driver extraordinarily adept at eluding the authorities. He is reluctantly married to the mob by virtue of a debt owed manipulative crime boss, Doc (Kevin Spacey). Baby wants out of the business badly, so he can drive off into the sunset with Deborah (James), the waitress he falls in love with across an empty diner.

Unfortunately, Machiavellian Doc insists he first serve as wheelman for the proverbial "last big heist" being pulled by a trio of certifiable lunatics in Bats (Foxx), Buddy (Hamm) and Darling (Eiza Gonzalez). When the robbery goes wrong, the ever-resourceful Baby's survival instincts kick-in in a primal urge for self-preservation.

A mind-blowing, roller coaster ride you'll never want to end!



Excellent (4 stars)
Rated R for violence and pervasive profanity
Running time: 113 minutes
Production Studio: Working Title Films
Distributor: TriStar Pictures


To see a trailer for Baby Driver, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2z857RSfhk

Sunday, June 25, 2017

13 Minutes

 

Film Review by Kam Williams


Historical Drama Recreates 1939 Attempt to Assassinate Hitler


Believe it or not, over a dozen different attempts to assassinate Adolf Hitler (Udo Schenk) were made before he took his own life in April of 1945. The year before, he only suffered minor injuries in the bombing that was the focus of Valkyrie (2008), a docudrama starring Tom Cruise.

Directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel (Downfall), 13 Minutes chronicles the first try after Hitler had taken control of Germany. The incident occurred in Munich on November 8, 1939 in a hall where the Fuhrer was scheduled to deliver an address. 
 
Trouble is, Georg Elser's (Christian Friedel) homemade time bomb went off too late, as Hitler had completed his remarks and exited the building 13 minutes earlier accompanied by several henchmen, including Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels (Ulrich Matthes), Deputy Fuhrer Rudolf Hess, and the architect of the Holocaust, Heinrich Himmler (Ulrich Noethen).
 
Later that same day, Georg was apprehended while trying to slip into Switzerland. Border guards took him into custody upon discovering incriminating evidence in his possession suggested a connection to the explosion.

He was soon delivered to Germany's Chief of Police Arthur Nebe (Burghart Klauszner) and Gestapo Chief Heinrich Muller (Johann von Bulow) for interrogation, but refused to answer any questions until they threatened to arrest his girlfriend Elsa (Katharina Schuttler), too. Georg confessed to protect her, but they still didn't believe the simple carpenter could have possibly acted alone, given the powerful explosion that claimed 8 lives and wounded 62.

So, they resorted to torture to extract the identities of his suspected accomplices that only existed in their imaginations.But Georg had nothing further to share, other than an explanation of exactly how he'd secretly amassed enough gunpowder to construct a weapon of mass destruction.

13 Minutes employs an unorthodox story structure, as it opens with the failed coup, and is followed by a series of Georg's flashbacks. While behind bars, he reminisces.about everything from his disgust with Nazis to his ill-fated relationship with Elsa. 
 
A long-overdue tribute to an unsung hero who came that close to changing the course of history.


Excellent (4 stars)
Rated R for sexuality and disturbing violence
In German with subtitles
Running time: 114 minutes
Production Studio: Lucky Bird Pictures
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics


To see a trailer for 13 Minutes, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1a-rnFq1FjQ

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Top Ten DVD List for June 27, 2017

by Kam Williams





This Week’s DVD Releases

The Lodger [Alfred Hitchcock Silent Film]

Trespass [25th Anniversary Collector's Edition]

Money [Heist Gone Bad Crime Thriller]

Striking Out: Series 1 [Irish Legal Drama]

Power Rangers [Adaptation of High-Octane TV Series]

Midsomer Murders [Series 19, Part 1]

Dirty Dancing [TV Remake of 1987 Classic]

Chips [Adaptation of Classic TV Series]

Grey Lady [Nantucket Murder Mystery]

Bunnicula: Night of the Vegetable [20 Episodes from Season 1]

 

Honorable Mention

The Story of China [with Michael Wood]

Last Days of Solitary [PBS Frontline]

The Similars [Harrowing Mexican Horror Flick]

Admiral [17th C. Dutch Swashbuckler]

Paradox [Time-Travel Suspense Thriller]

Kill Ratio [Eastern European Revenge Thriller
]

Sun Choke [Female Mental Health Drama]

Crossing Point [American Tourist Kidnapped in Baja]

Friday, June 23, 2017

Chips


DVD Review by Kam Williams


Raunchy Adaptation of Classic TV Series Arrives on Home Video


Whenever a classic television series is made into a movie, the buzz always seems to be about whether the screen version will be a creative variation on the theme or merely a campy, cornball, take-the-money-and-run ripoff trading in familiar formulas and shopworn cliches. After all, for every inspired adaptation like Batman (1989), Charlie's Angels (2000) and 21 Jump Street (2012) there are just as many bitter disappointments, al a Dragnet (1987), I Spy (2002) and Get Smart (2008).

Fortunately, Chips is more in league with the worthwhile remakes rather than the ones leaving you wondering why they ever bothered. The picture was ostensibly a labor of Dax Shepard who wrote, directed, produced and also co-stars in it opposite Michael Pena. They play California Highway Patrol Officers Ponch Poncherello and Jon Baker, the same characters popularized on TV by Erik Estrada and Larry Willcox.

The original, airing for a half dozen seasons starting in 1977, was a buddy action drama basically revolving around the heroic exploits of a couple of mismatched motorcycle cops, with Ponch often going rogue, much to the chagrin of his relatively-straitlaced partner. This go-round, the script has been flipped, so that Jon is more of a misfit. At the point of departure, we find him getting a probationary badge and graduating from the police academy only because Sergeant Hernandez (Maya Rudolph) takes pity on him. 
 
They're both going through difficult divorces, although Jon is desperate to win back his wife (Kristen Bell). He hopes she'll be impressed by his transition into a safer line of work after an accident-prone career as a professional motorcross bike racer. 
 
He's soon teamed with the veteran Ponch to solve a rash of armored car robberies suspected of being pulled off by a gang of crooked cops. They proceed to make a mess of the investigation at every turn, which only makes their terminally-exasperated boss (Isiah Whitlock, Jr.) repeatedly blow his cork. 
 
However, there's little reason to pay attention to the intermittently-incoherent plot, for this kitchen sink comedy's raison d'etre is to generate laughs by any means necessary. To that end, the politically-incorrect bottom feeder easily earns its R rating via an incessant indulgence in scatological, ethnic, sexist, slapstick, bodily function and gay panic fare.

A vulgar but funny enough departure from the classic TV series to warrant recommending.



Very Good (3 stars)
Rated R for crude humor, graphic sexuality, frontal nudity, violence, drug use and pervasive profanity
Running time: 100 minutes
Distributor: Warner Brothers Home Entertainment Group

Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack Extras: This Is Not Your Dad's Chips; Practical Pursuit; Ducati: The Perfect Bike; director's commentary; and deleted scenes.



To see a trailer for Chips, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0IfqqUTW-i4

To order a copy of the Chips Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack , visit:  

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Beguiled


Film Review by Kam Williams


Southern Belles Vie for Union Soldier's Affections in Sofia Coppola's Sublime Tale of Seduction

The Beguiled is a Civil War saga based on the best seller of the same name by the late novelist/playwright Thomas Cullinan (1919-1995). The sublime tale of seduction was first adapted to the screen in 1971 as a melodramatic revenge flick starring Clint Eastwood. This relatively-refined remake was directed by Sofia Coppola whose effort was richly rewarded at Cannes where she became only the second woman to win Best Director in the history of the festival.

The story is set in 1864 at a Virginia boarding school for girls run by prim Martha Farnsworth (Nicole Kidman) with the help of equally-proper Edwina Dabney (Kirsten Dunst). They have five students entrusted to their care, ranging in age from prepubescent to the late teens. 
 
At the point of departure, the sounds of battle are audible off in the distance. The raging conflict cuts a sharp contrast to the serenity of the idyllic campus where we find Amy (Oona Laurence) foraging in the forest for wild mushrooms. 
 
She stumbles upon a wounded Union soldier hiding in the woods. Corporal John McBurney (Colin Farrell) had been felled by a bullet to the leg. The innocent adolescent instinctively brings him home, only to be criticized by an elder classmate (Angourie Rice) for rescuing a "dangerous enemy."

After initially issuing a stern warning that "You are a most unwelcome visitor," their ordinarily icy headmistress inexplicably melts. She allows the ailing adversary to remain on the premises without even informing the Confederate army of his presence. 
 
Personally assuming the responsibility of nursing their guest back to health, man-starved Martha soon finds herself swooning for the solicitous stranger. Trouble is, John proves to be quite the Casanova, knowing just the right words to surreptitiously charm the pants off each of the females, one-by-one. 
 
Of course, the cat's eventually out of the bag, and his collective spell is broken. And after the heartbroken lasses put their heads together, he probably wishes he'd simply surrendered to the Rebels rather than seek refuge.

Hell hath no fury like some Southern belles scorned!



Excellent (4 stars)
Rated R for sexuality
Running time: 93 minutes
Production Studio: American Zoetrope
Distributor: Focus Features


To see a trailer for The Beguiled, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iBoLK5z_FHo

Kam's Kapsules for movies opening June 30, 2017

Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun
by Kam Williams

OPENING THIS WEEK

BIG BUDGET FILMS
 
13 minutes (R for sexuality and disturbing violence) Fact-based drama, set in Munich in 1939, recounting German carpenter Georg Elser's (Christian Friedel) attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler (Udo Schenk). Featuring Katharina Schuttler, Burghart Klauszner and Johann von Bulow. (In German with subtitles)

Baby Driver (R for violence and pervasive profanity) Ansel Elgort plays the title character in this crime comedy about a music-loving getaway driver pressured by a powerful crime boss (Kevin Spacey) to participate in an ill-fated bank heist. With Jamie Foxx, Jon Hamm, Lily James, Big Boi and Flea.

Despicable Me 3 (PG for action and rude humor) Fourth installment in the animated franchise (if you include Minions) finds Gru (Steve Carell) facing his most formidable foe ever, an ex-child star (Trey Parker) still obsessed with the character he played back in the Eighties. Voice cast includes Kristen Wiig, Miranda Cosgrove, Jenny Slate, Julie Andrews and Russell Brand.

The House (R for sexual references, drug use, violence, brief nudity and pervasive profanity) Dysfunctional family comedy revolving around a married couple (Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler) who open an illegal casino in their basement after bankrupting their daughter's (Ryan Simpkins) college fund. With Jeremy Renner, Nick Kroll and Allison Tolman.


INDEPENDENT & FOREIGN FILMS

The B-Side: Elsa Dorfman's Portrait Photography (R for brief profanity and graphic nude images) Oscar-winner Errol Morris (for The Fog of War) directed this documentary chronicling the career of Elsa Dorfman, a proponent of the Polaroid Land camera from 1980 until the company went out of business in 2008.

Inconceivable (R for sexuality, nudity, profanity and violence) Suspense thriller about a married couple (Nicolas Cage and Gina Gershon) who come to regret hiring a mysterious nanny (Nicky Whelan), new to town. With Faye Dunaway, Natalie Eva Marie and Leah Huebner.

The Little Hours (R for sexuality, profanity and graphic nudity) Romantic comedy, set during the Middle Ages, revolving around a runaway servant (Dave Franco) who takes refuge from his master (Nick Offerman) at a monastery filled with sexually-repressed nuns. Ensemble cast includes Molly Shannon, Kate Micucci, John C. Reilly, Paul Reiser, Fred Armisen and Aubrey Plaza.

Mali Blues (Unrated) Concert documentary featuring performances by Malian musical icons Fatoumata Diawara, Bassekou Kouyaté Master Soumy and Ahmed Ag Kaed in the face of death threats from radical Islamists. (In French with subtitles)

Okja (Unrated) Sci-fi adventure revolving around a young girl's (Seo-Hyun Ahn) attempt to prevent a multi-national corporation from kidnapping her massive pet. With Jake Gyllenhaal, Tilda Swinton, Lily Collins, Paul Dano, Devon Bostick and Giancarlo Esposito. (In Korean and English with subtitles)

Pop Aye (Unrated) Unlikely buddies drama, set in Thailand, about a jaded, big city architect (Thaneth Warakulnukroh) who embarks on a cross-country trek with his long-lost pet elephant (Bong) back to the farm where they were raised. Cast includes Penpak Sirikul, Narong Pongpab and Chaiwat Khumdee. (In Thai with subtitles)

The Reagan Show (Unrated) Political expose' revealing President Ronald Reagan as just a made-for-TV leader of the Free World.

The Skyjacker's Tale (Unrated) Justice delayed documentary about FBI Most Wanted List fugitive Ishmael Muslim Ali, who hijacked a plane to Cuba in 1984 after being convicted of masterminding a massacre of 8 at a Rockefeller country club in the Virgin Islands.