Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Isaiah Washington

"The Sin Seer” Interview
with Kam Williams


A Reading from the Book of Isaiah

Isaiah Washington was born on August 3, 1963 in Houston, Texas. After a stint in the US Air Force, he attended Howard University as a Theater Arts major, then joined the City Kids Repertory, a troupe which performed at schools for at-risk kids.

Isaiah has appeared in such Spike Lee films as Crooklyn, Clockers, Girl 6 and Get on the Bus. Other movies on his resume include Romeo Must Die, Out of Sight, Bulworth and Love Jones. 
 
His first regular gig on TV was as a regular cast member on Grey’s Anatomy. In his spare time, Isaiah enjoys building model airplanes, and he also wrote a memoir, "A Man From Another Land: How Finding My Roots Changed My Life." 
 
Here, he talks about his latest offering, The Sin Seer, a thriller where he plays an ex-con-turned-private eye who solves cases with the help of a clairvoyant [Lisa Arrindell Anderson].


Kam Williams: Hi Isaiah, thanks for the interview.
Isaiah Washington: Hi, Kam.

KW: What interested you in Sin Seer?
IW: I thought that the story was very unique for an African-American woman to star in, and I saw yet another opportunity to be a producer on a movie.

KW: How would you describe the film in 25 words or less?
IW: It's a shocker in the end!

KW: Do you believe that some people have extra sensory powers in real life?
IW: Absolutely!

KW: How would you describe your character, Grant Summit?
IW: As mysterious, loyal and a protector. 
 
KW: What message do you think people will take away from the film?
IW: Watch your friends and family members closely. 
 
KW: AALBC.com founder Troy Johnson asks: What was the last book you read?
IW: The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey.
 

KW: What is your favorite dish to cook?
IW: Grilled shrimp, mussels and rice.

KW: Ling-Ju Yen asks: What is your earliest childhood memory?
IW: Being kissed late at night by my mother before she left for her night shift at work.

KW: Who loved you unconditionally during your formative years?
IW: My grandmother, my grandfather and my mother.

KW: Was there a meaningful spiritual component to your childhood?
IW: Becoming a junior usher at a black church was my entry into the wonder of worship.

KW: Sherry Gillam would like to know what is the most important life lesson you've learned so far?
IW: Seek the truth. Tell the truth. Live in truth.

KW: The Viola Davis question: What’s the biggest difference between who you are at home as opposed to the person we see on the red carpet?
IW: I laugh a lot and laugh loudly! [Laughs]

KW: What was your very first job?
IW: I was a dishwasher at a Steak and Ale restaurant.

KW: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?
IW: Change.

KW: What's the craziest thing you've ever done?
IW: Become an actor.

KW: If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would that be for?
IW: To provide world travel for each and every human being on Earth.

KW: Is there any question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would?
IW: I have no clue on how to answer this question. [LOL]

KW: Harriet Pakula-Teweles asks: With so many classic films being redone, is there a remake you'd like to star in?
IW: Another adaptation of The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand

KW: Larry Greenberg asks: Do you have a favorite movie monster?
IW: Godzilla, of course.

KW: The Tavis Smiley question: How do you want to be remembered?
IW: He was passionate and a man of his word.

KW: Finally, what’s in your wallet?
IW: Canadian money.

KW: Thanks again for the time, Isaiah, and best of luck with the film.
IW: Yaaaasss!

To see the trailer for The Sin Seer, visit: https://vimeo.com/127324245

To order a copy of The Sin Seer, visit:


Welcome to Leith


DVD Review by Kam Williams



Documentary Exposes Neo-Nazi Enclave in North Dakota


Does the name Craig Cobb ring a bell? It didn't for me either. But the notorious white supremacist is on the Southern Poverty Law Center's watch list of the Top Ten most dangerous racists in America. He also mentored Frazier Glenn Cross, the anti-Semite recently convicted of hunting for Jews during a deadly rampage around Kansas City in April of 2014. 
 
Well, there aren't exactly a lot of cities likely to roll out a red carpet for his ilk, which explains why Cobb and his followers decided to settle in Leith, North Dakota. In 2012, they purchased their first piece of property in the tiny town of three square miles, at a time when only a couple dozen people resided there. 
 
The hate monger's diabolical plan was to turn the quiet hamlet into a mecca for bigots, and to wrest control of the municipality's government via a combination of importing allies and scaring locals into leaving. After all, the real estate was cheap enough. He bought his first house for just $500, that's right just $500. Furthermore, there were excellent paying jobs not far away, thanks to the state's oil boom. 
 
So, Cobb and his henchman, Kynan Dutton, moved in and immediately set about terrorizing their new neighbors by hanging big Confederate flags in front of their homes and brandishing shotguns as they strolled down the street spouting racist rhetoric. They proceeded to harass Leith's Mayor, Ryan Shock by disrupting city council meetings with chants of “Heil Hitler!” while routinely referring to Bobby Harper, the only African-American resident, as “boy.” 
 
Despite the inveterate racists spouting rhetoric advocating the extermination of blacks and Jews, the tight-knit community would not be intimidated. Instead, they responded by employing tactics designed to force the invaders out before they could take root. And they enlisted the assistance of a nearby tribe of unamused Native-Americans in this endeavor. 
 
Cobb and his minions soon found themselves being hounded by honking car horns outside their windows and confronted by angry citizens also armed to the teeth. Their cars were spray-painted with graffiti identifying them as Nazis, too. Eventually, the police found a good excuse to arrest Cobb and Dutton and, the next thing you know, their homes were burned to the ground while they were sitting behind bars. 
 
A textbook primer on how a united community ought to respond to the arrival of racist bullies before the creeps have a chance to ruin the neighborhood. 
 

Excellent (4 stars)
Unrated
Running time: 86 minutes
Distributor: First Run Features
DVD Extras: Extended and deleted scenes; and biographies.



To see a trailer for Welcome to Leith visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lKR32_3Yx08


To order a copy of Welcome to Leith on DVD, visit:

Top Ten DVD Releases for 2-9-16

by Kam Williams



This Week’s DVD Releases

99 Homes

Second Coming

Marshland

Playin' for Love

Estranged

Spectre

Crimson Peak

The Carol Burnett Show: Treasures from the Vault

Portrait of a Serial Monogamist

Stories of a Young Nation


Honorable Mention

Jews in America and Divine Destiny


The Hee Haw Collection: Kornfield Klassics

Freaks of Nature

Nights of Tel Aviv

Brave Miss World

Monday, February 8, 2016

Gil Robertson (INTERVIEW)

The African American Film Critics Association Awards
with Kam Williams


And the Winner Is... Gil!

Gil L. Robertson IV is one of America’s foremost authorities on African-American pop culture. As a journalist, author, lecturer and media consultant, he is responsible for literary works and intellectual properties that provide platforms for social change and personal growth.
Gil is the editor of the bestselling anthologies Family Affair: What it Means to be African American Today, and the 2006 release, Not in My Family: AIDS in the African American Community, both nominated for NAACP Image Awards in the Outstanding Non-Fiction category.
He is also the author of "Writing as a Tool of Empowerment," a resource book for aspiring journalists, and "Where Did Our Love Go: Essays on Love & Relationships in the African American Community." And Just Us Books is set to release his first children’s book, "Great African American Political Leaders."
On television, Gil has shared his expertise on topical issues on numerous networks, including CNN, HLN, MSNBC, E Entertainment, National Public Radio and the Tavis Smiley Show. In addition, as a popular lecturer on the national circuit, he addresses issues that impact professional growth strategies and personal development.
Gil is a co-founder and President of the African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA), as well as the founder of the Robertson Treatment’s Media Workshop, an annual journalism initiative presented at the Auburn Avenue Research Library in Atlanta, Georgia and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York City.
A graduate of Cal State Los Angeles, Gil is the founder and editor of the nationally syndicated Arts & Lifestyle column, the Robertson Treatment which appears in 30 newspapers across the country boasting a readership in excess of 2 million. He is a professional member of the National Press Club, The National Association of Black Journalists, The National Academy of Recording Arts & Science, The National Academy of Television Arts and Science and The Motion Picture Academy.
Here, Gil talks about the 7th Annual African American Film Critics Association Awards ceremony which will be held at 8 pm on Wednesday, February 10th at the Taglyan Complex in Hollywood.


Kam Williams: Hi Gil, thanks for the interview.
Gil Robertson: Thank you the opportunity, my AAFCA brother!

KW: Congratulations on the AAFCA Awards which has grown in stature in recent years.
GR: Thanks, Kam. Yes, this is our 7th year and, although we’re experiencing a little itch, it’s all good. We’re celebrating Straight Outta Compton and Ryan Coogler from Creed, as well as Teyonah Parris from Chi-Raq. Our Special Achievement honors are going to the terrifically talented John Singleton and Reginald Hudlin, as well as business phenoms Jeff Clanagan and Maverick Carter. It’s truly a special night!

KW: Is it safe to assume this year's ceremony will be better attended than ever, given the number of stars calling for a boycott of the Oscars after the Academy failed to nominate any black actors or actresses for the second year in a row.
GR: Our show has always attracted an amazing array of executives and creatives from the film and TV community, as well as an impressive list of celebrity talent. We look forward to giving them a high-quality event.

KW: Isn't it very revealing that Sly Stallone was nominated in the Supporting Actor category for Creed, but its African-American star, Michael B. Jordan, and director, Ryan Coogler, were both snubbed? And the only nomination garnered by Straight Outta Compton, which featured a black cast and director, was for its script which was written by four whites.
GR: Now let’s have real talk! While the Academy doesn’t blatantly promote itself as an organization for whites only, it’s hard to see the Oscar as an award for all. That’s the big elephant in the room. You call yourself the Academy Awards and you say your awards are based solely on merit without consideration to race or gender but, historically, all the awards are going to white people except for a few exceptions when a black performance was just so elevated that it couldn’t be ignored, like a few years ago when Lupita Nyong’o won for 12 Years a Slave.

KW: How long do you think it'll take for the Oscars to be more inclusive? Its President, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, who is African-American, recently announced plans to double the number of minority voters by 2020. But if blacks are about 4% now, that's just a 1% increase per year. Would that likely alter the outcome?
GR: Ms. Isaacs is putting the work in, and I’m very confident that the seeds she plants will grow. Change takes time and, as Hollywood mirrors larger American society, this process will too. 
 
KW: Besides offering an alternative to the the Oscars, why should people attend the AAFCA Awards?
GR: The AAFCA Awards are necessary because they offer us an opportunity to celebrate ourselves. The Oscars are never going to give us the due that we feel we deserve and that’s okay. As a community, we must move past that and instead support the institutions that do. Black people, your support is necessary and you cannot sit out this party, if you’re serious about wanting to see some real change.

KW: Who are some of the luminaries you hope will attend?
GR: The room will be filled with luminaries, but we are really thrilled to welcome the cast of Straight Outta Compton, Ryan Coogler from Creed, Kenya Barris, the creator of Black-ish, the incredibly-lovely Teyonah Parris, plus an impressive lineup of hot young faces who represent the next wave of talent in Hollywood.

KW: I know that AAFCA operates year-round, not just during awards season. What sort of programs do you have planned for 2016?
GR: We are especially excited to see an expansion of our Student Boot Camps to three more campuses across America. By the year’s end, AAFCA’s Boot Camp will literally extend to the four corners of America. The AAFCA Seal of Approval program continues to expand. Our seal will appear on releases from Array, Codeblack, Swirl and other studios this year. For 2016, AAFCA is going to especially ramp up our film festival partnerships. I can’t announce details yet, but look for us to create some significant and very strategic inroads with various films festivals throughout American and aboard. Over the summer, we’ll be back with Synergy in Atlanta with a special honoree to be announced shortly. And before the year is done, I am hopeful to announce a broadcast partner for 2017. We definitely have a big year in store. Please visit our website [www.AAFCA.com] and hook up with us via social media to remain connected.

KW: Thanks again for the time, Gil, and best of luck with AAFCA.
GR: Thanks, Kam.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Deadpool

Film Review by Kam Williams


Ryan Reynolds Absolutely 'Marvel'-ous as Wisecracking Superhero


Technically, Deadpool is the 8th installment in the X-Men film franchise, although it's different enough from the others to stand on its own. In fact, it's not only the first R-rated offering in the Marvel Comics series, but the first humor-driven episode to boot. 
 
The movie marks the daring directorial debut of Tim Miller who deserves nothing but praise for eschewing formulaic fare in favor of uncharted waters, when it would've been oh so easy to avoid taking any risks. In a bit of inspired casting, Tim tapped Ryan Reynolds for the title role, a proven master of both the comedy (Adventureland, The Proposal and Definitely, Maybe) and action hero genres (Green Lantern, Paper Man and Blade: Trinity). 
 
Here, he plays Wade Wilson, aka Deadpool, a Special Forces Agent disfigured by a medical experiment gone horribly wrong. In this origins tale, we learn that the accident left him with an uncanny ability to heal himself almost instantly (except for the skin), a trait likely to come in handy whenever he's shot, stabbed or otherwise injured. And he also morphed him into a compulsively-wisecracking vigilante.

At the point of departure, we find Wade embarking on a whirlwind romance with Vanessa Carlysle (Morena Baccarin), the proverbial prostitute with a heart of gold. After a year of perfect bliss, their year-long euphoria comes to an abrupt end when he is diagnosed with terminal cancer. 
 
Out of desperation, Wade agrees to allow a mad scientist nam,ed Francis (Ed Skrein) perform the unorthodox procedure that turns him into a freak of nature. Inconsolable about the prospect of losing Vanessa, he becomes obsessed with exacting vengeance on the quack. Revenge proves easier said than done, since Francis just happens to be Ajax, an evil mutant with a formidable henchwoman (Gina Carano) as well as his own set of special powers. 
 
But forget the plot, this iconoclastic adventure is meant to be relished for its generous supply of unforced belly laughs elicited from beginning clear through the end of the closing credits. For example, an exasperated Deadpool addresses the audience to complain about his underwhelming sidekicks, Colossus (Stefan Kapicic) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand), saying "It's like the studio couldn't afford another X-Men." On another occasion, he forces a red hot cigarette lighter into an adversary's mouth with the warning "Don't swallow!" 
 
A relentlessly-hilarious cross of Kick-Ass (2013) and Watchmen (2009) that leaves your appetite whetted for a sequel.




Excellent (4 stars)
Rated R for sexuality, graphic nudity, graphic violence and pervasive profanity
Running time: 108 minutes
Distributor: Twentieth Century Fox


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

The Club (El Club)


Film Review by Kam Williams



Pedophile Priests Repent at Secluded Retreat in Unsettling Drama from Chile


The critically-acclaimed Spotlight recently 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


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

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Of Mind and Music

Film Review by Kam Williams


Poignant Character Study Examines Toll Exacted by Alzheimer's


Dr. Alvaro Cruz (Joaquim de Almeida) is a world-renowned neuroscientist specializing in the study of Alzheimer's. But nothing in the research that he's conducted to date could save the life of his mother (Laura Costine) who passed away while he was attending a convention in Paris. 
 
Consequently, Dr. Cruz has been inconsolable since returning home to New Orleans. In fact, his mom's death left him plagued by a recurring dream of her in which he was still a little boy of 6 or 7 years-old. Ultimately, he became so upset that he took a leave of absence in order to indulge the love of music the two had shared. 
 
One day, while passing through the French Quarter, he found himself beguiled by the haunting sound of Una Vida (Aunjanue Ellis), aka "The Queen of Royal Street," a sultry street performer accompanied on steel guitar by a guy known as Stompleg (Bill Cobbs). Besides enjoying their playing, Cruz couldn't help but notice that something just wasn't right with Una. 
 
As an expert in the field, he was able to recognize some of the warning signs of dementia, such as memory loss and walking into traffic. Next thing you know, Alvaro takes a personal interest in Queenie, over the objections of her overprotective daughter (Ruth Negga).

Directed by Richie Adams (Inventing Adam), Of Mind and Music is a poignant character study which sensitively portrays the toll exacted by Alzheimer's not only on a victim, but on her caregivers and loved ones, as well. The film does a terrific job of exploring a variety of concerns, ranging from the patient's forgetfulness to her physician's frustration to her family's denial, all unfolding against the backdrop of a soulful blues score. 
 
Accolades are in order for the A-list cast, topped by Aunjanue Ellis, Joaquim de Almeida and Bill Cobbs, for its adept execution of a fine script co-written by director Adams and Nicolas Bazan. An emotionally-evocative illustration of dignity and despair in the face of fate.



Excellent (3.5 stars)
Rated PG-13 for suggested material, drug references and mature themes.
In English and Portuguese with subtitles
Running time: 98 minutes
Distributor: Monterey Media


To see a trailer for Of Mind and Music, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7F-eQkLQM6k