Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Kam's Kapsules: For movies opening July 8, 2011

Kam's Kapsules:
Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun
by Kam Williams
For movies opening July 8, 2011


Horrible Bosses (R for sexuality, crude humor, pervasive profanity and some drug use) Revenge comedy about three friends (Jason Sudeikis, Jason Bateman and Charlie Day) who conspire to murder the bosses (Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Spacey and Colin Farrell) making their lives miserable. Supporting cast includes Jamie Foxx, Donald Sutherland, Isaiah Mustafa and Bob Newhart.

Zookeeper (PG for rude humor, mild epithets and double entendres) Kevin James stars in the title role of this romantic comedy about a lonely zookeeper who lands the girl of his dreams (Rosario Dawson) with the help of some talking animals. With Dr. Ken Jeong, Joe Rogan and Donnie Wahlberg, and voiceover work by Sly Stallone, Nick Nolte, Adam Sandler, Don Rickles, Maya Rudolph and Cher.


Beats, Rhymes & Life (Unrated) Michael Rapaport directs this reverential rapumentary chronicling the reunion of the pioneering, hip-hop group “A Tribe Called Quest” for a concert tour in 2008. With appearances byMos Def, the Beastie Boys, Common and Mary J. Blige.

The Chameleon (Unrated) Impostor drama recreating the real-life case of a French con man (Marc-Andre Grondin) who shaved his body hair to convince the mother (Ellen Barkin) of a Texas teenager missing for three years that he was her long-lost son. With Famke Janssen, Nick Stahl and Tory Kittles. (In French, English and Spanish with subtitles)

Fading of the Cries (Unrated) Horror fantasy about a young man (Jordan Matthews) armed with a magical sword who endeavors to defend a young farm girl (Hallee Hirsch) from a malevolent sorcerer (Brad Dourif) searching for the ancient necklace she inherited from her uncle. With Lateef Crowder, Jessica Morris and Julia Whelan.

Ironclad (R for graphic violence and brief nudity) Historical epic, set in 1215, highlighting the Knights of Templar’s noble defense of Rochester Castle against the onslaught of the forces of King John (Paul Giamatti) as a consequence of the tyrannical monarch’s repudiation of the Magna Carta. Cast includes Kate Mara, Brian Cox and Derek Jacobi.

The Ledge (Unrated) Faith-based thriller in which philosophical differences between a suicidal atheist (Charlie Hunnam) and a Bible-thumping fundamentalist Christian (Patrick Wilson) escalate to a lethal battle of wills played out on the edge of the roof of their apartment building. With Liv Tyler, Terrence Howard and Christopher Gorham.

Project Nim (Unrated) Primate whisperer documentary about a chimpanzee separated from its mother at birth and raised in captivity inside a brownstone located on Manhattan’s fashionable Upper West Side as a study in animal behavior. Directed by Oscar-winner James Marsh (Man on Wire).

Rapt (Unrated) Psychological crime thriller about an abducted business executive (Yvan Attal) who is tortured by his kidnappers while his company debates whether or not to meet their $50 million ransom demand. With Anne Consigny, Andre Marcon and Francoise Fabian. (In French with subtitles)

Romeo and Juliet in Yiddish (Unrated) Overhaul of the Shakespeare classic situates the tragic tale in Williamsburg, Brooklyn where the star-crossed lovers (Lazer Weiss and Melissa Weisz) are now Jewish and members of feuding Orthodox sects. With Mendy Zafir, Eve Annenberg and Solman Wiser. (In English and Yiddish with subtitles)

Sholem Aleichem: Laughing in the Darkness (Unrated) Cinematic portrait of the legendary Jewish playwright (1859-1916) whose Yiddish tales about a pious milkman served as the basis for the Broadway musical “Fiddler on the Roof.” With reflections by Ruth Wisse, Peter Riegert and Hillel Halkin.

Septien (Unrated) Prodigal Son drama about a street hustler’s (Michael Tully) surprising return to his family’s Tennessee farm 18 years after he mysteriously disappeared, only to be met with a combination of suspicion and elation by his estranged siblings (Robert Longstreet and Onur Tukel). With Rachel Korine, Brian Kotzur and Jeffrey T. Williams.

The Sleeping Beauty (Unrated) Catherine Breillat’s reinterpretation of the Charles Perrault fairy tale as a coming-of-age drama about a young princess (Carla Besainou) who experiences pangs of sexual awakening while in a state of suspended animation resulting from an evil witch’s (Rosine Favey) curse. With Dounia Sichov, Leslie Lipkins and Camille Chalons. (In French with subtitles)

The Ward (R for violence and disturbing images) John Carpenter directs this psychological thriller about an institutionalized young woman (Amber Heard) haunted by a ghost. Ensemble cast includes Mika Boorem, Mamie Gummer, Danielle Panabaker.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Last Year of Your Life (BOOK REVIEW)

The Last Year of Your Life:
A Personal Exploration Experience
by Clint Arthur
Industrial Cheese Supply Corporation
Paperback, $23.94
202 pages, Illustrated
ISBN: 978-1453633649

Book Review by Kam Williams

“Do you think it’s possible for a person like you to transform your life in just one year’s time? I was a taxi driver, surviving on less than $500 a week... I was beginning to become terrified that I would never be able to escape the rut that had become my life…
Then, I sat down to write out my list of goals… and I had a divine inspiration. I asked myself a question: What would you want to do this year if this was going to be the last year of your life?
That question inspired me and… that year I lost forty pounds… I opened a factory… I even sat down and wrote a book that I had been procrastinating about for ten years. Most importantly, with the help of my wife I was able to turn around my marriage.
‘Living the Last Year of Your Life’ is one of the most exhilarating and rewarding experiences I’ve ever known, and I’ve designed this workbook to deliver the same results for you… All that matters is that you begin in earnest and live each day moving forward as if it is precious, and as if it were one of your last. Once you do this, your life will never be the same.”

-- Excerpted from the Introduction (pgs. 2-4)

“What would you want to accomplish if you only had 52 weeks left to live?” This is the thought-provoking question posed at the point of departure of this potentially life-transforming, self-help manual. Its author, Clint Arthur, had been down on his luck himself despite having read a number of New Age and Men’s Movement bibles by such esteemed gurus as Deepak Chopra and Tony Robbins.
But then, on his own, he came up with a novel approach which got good results, namely, making believe that he only had a year to live. And with a newfound sense of urgency, Clint quickly cultivated the clarity of mind and the drive to implement the change which had previously proven so elusive.
He shares the secrets of his magical metamorphosis in The Last Year of Your Life: A Personal Exploration Experience. However, the book is not so much an autobiography as a how-to designed to shake stuck folks out of the doldrums so they might similarly find fulfillment.
In readily-accessible layman’s terms, Clint sets out a strict program for you to follow, week-by-week, complete with fill-in-the-blank, positive thinking exercises. For example, during Week One, which is devoted to “Loving Yourself,” he directs you to “Eat Well,” “Look Your Best,” “Be Physically Fit” and “Be Loving to Yourself.”
In Week Two, he has you listing your childhood and adulthood accomplishments, so that by Week Three you’ll be eager to create a practical plan of what concrete goals you expect to reach by year’s end. And so forth.
Provided you’re capable of summoning up the gumption to implement a lot of life-altering changes, here’s a viable, 52-week road map to the ideal you you’ve always just dreamed of.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Romeo: The “Dancing with the Stars” and “Jumping the Broom” Interview

with Kam Williams

Headline: Rhapsody in Romeoland

Born in New Orleans on August 19, 1989, Percy Romeo Miller, Jr., aka Romeo, is an entertainer, actor, entrepreneur and philanthropist. The son of businessman and music mogul Percy Miller, he has sold over 10 million records as a multi-platinum music artist.
Romeo has also been awarded A Grammy and an American Music Award, and was named one of the 5 Sexiest Men in the World in 2010. He’s the CEO of the multi-million dollar record company No Limit Forever, and became the youngest entertainer to top the Billboard charts at the age of 10. A humanitarian and philanthropist, Romeo has dedicated his life to giving back to the communities and helping at-risk youth with his foundation Urban Born.
His acting credits include his #1 television show Romeo! on Nickelodeon, The Defenders, The Cape, and he starred in the movie Honey with Jessica Alba. Romeo is not only a Hollywood superstar but he’s also majoring in Business and Film at the University of Southern California.
As a freshman, he helped the school’s basketball team made USC history by winning their first PAC 10 Championship. Romeo appreciates the importance of education, which is why he remains at USC while pursuing his entertainment and business career opportunities.
Here, he talks about recently co-starring in the romantic comedy “Jumping the Broom” and about capturing the hearts of young and old as a contestant on the hit ABC reality series “Dancing with the Stars” this past season.

Kam Williams: Hi Romeo, thanks for another interview.
Romeo: Thank you, Kam.

KW: What interested you in doing Dancing with the Stars, especially after your father fared so poorly on the program during the 2nd season?
R: I wanted to do this show to show our future generation not to be afraid to fail. More and more kids are dropping out of high school and letting their dreams slip away because of failure. I felt that this show was the perfect opportunity for me to step outside of my comfort zone and take an unknown journey with my fans. I did Dancing with the Stars for the kids and my charity “URBANBORN” []. And FYI, my dad taught me all of my dance moves. [LOL]

KW: Did you have to get in shape for the show, and how challenging did you find learning the choreography?
R: Coming straight from playing Division 1 Basketball at USC, I was in terrific shape. But after doing the show, I was in even better shape! My vertical jump went from 39 inches to 42 inches, and my cardio and footwork was better then ever. Being a perfectionist, I made the choreography a lot tougher because I wanted every dance to be perfect. I’m a very fast learner, but becoming a ballroom dancer was definitely the most difficult task in my life yet. I definitely respect dancers a whole lot more now.

KW: Tell me a little about the charity you played for.
R: People may not know that I’ve gone to regular school through my whole career. Education has always been the rock in my life, and I think that every kid should have the proper education and that experience. School for me has been like the real world in a bubble. Everything about school and education has built me to be the man that I am today, and I wanted to share that with our future. With I do a lot of “Read to Achieve” events and I go to a lot of underprivileged schools to express the importance of education. The kids are the future and I just want to let them know that somebody cares.

KW: Speaking of school, how have you enjoyed USC?
R: College is some of the best times a kid can have. You’re able to make mistakes and learn from them without being babied by your parents. USC was the perfect school for me because I was able to be a regular student on campus. I visited a couple other schools before I made my decision to become a Trojan and it was mayhem! Plus us TROJANS have the best alumni, we stick together. [LOL] Fight on!

KW: Tell me a little about Jumping the Broom?
R: Jumping the Broom is magic in a movie. It’s kind of like watching a real life fairy-tale. This movie will make you laugh, cry, and love. All star cast, great acting, great movie!

KW: How would you describe your character, Sebastian?
R: Sebastian in one word. Hmmmmm… A cougar hunter? [Laughs] Actually, he’s the youngest in the movie but he’s the most mature and he’s trying to teach the other fellas how to find and how to treat a real woman. He definitely watched too much Hitch!

KW: What’s more fun, making movies or being a contestant on a reality show?
R: I would definitely have to say making movies! [Laughs some more] Although I loved the Dancing with the Stars journey, I must admit I have never been sooooo nervous in my life. When I’m making movies, I’m a lot more comfortable and relaxed. I feel reality is more fun for the viewers because you get to see the celebrity in a different light. But for me, learning a new dance in a few days to perform in front of 20 million people equals nervous breakdown. [Chuckles]

KW: Editor/Legist Patricia Turnier asks: What message do you think people will take away from Jumping the Broom and what did you learn from appearing on Dancing with the Stars?
R: Jumping the Broom teaches that anything is possible with true love. From Dancing with the Stars, people will learn that in order to succeed you’ll sometimes have to fail and that, at the end of the day, all that matters is you doing your best. Life has no limits if you just try.

KW: Patricia also wants to know what message do you have for young people who believe in instantaneous success without hard work or sacrifice?
R: That’s a myth. Anybody who you see that’s successful has a story. You just may not know it. The key to success is hard work. And when it’s your time, you have to make the best of it.

KW: Dante Lee, author of "Black Business Secrets," asks: What's the biggest lesson in business that you have learned from your dad?
R: If you make 2 million you really made 1million. If you make 50 million you really made 25 million.

KW: Larry Greenberg asks: Do you think the current chaos in the music industry creates more or less opportunity for artists just starting out?
R: Honestly, I feel that in this day and age of music it’s a lot better for new artists to become known and have more opportunity because everything’s digital. With Youtube, Myspace, Twitter etcetera, anyone with talent has an chance to show it to the world.

KW: Attorney Bernadette Beekman asks: Do you think that there are parallel moves in basketball and dancing?
R: Yes, definitely. From the footwork to the coaching, there are a lot of similarities. Being a dancer takes a lot of discipline and focus which is the same with b-ball.

KW: Children’s book author Irene Smalls asks: How does it feel to be part of a dynasty with your father as the head? Does he guide your career?
R: I truly feel like me and my dad should have been born in a different century. We belong in the 1600’s or something because our relationship has always been like one of a king and a prince. Every day, every step of my life, my father has been preparing me to one day take over his dynasty and we’re not just father and son but best friends. He guides me and I guide him.

KW: Irene’s follow-up is: What do you enjoy the most: dance, rap, basketball or your charity work? And what’s up next for you?
R: I love them all because they allow me to express myself in different ways. B-ball- physical. Dance/Rap: emotional. Charity- Love. And acting has a bit of everything bunched into one!

KW: Marcia Evans asks: Has your experience on Dancing with the Stars had a lasting influence on how you approach dancing, either privately or professionally? Will you be able to apply the discipline involved in preparation for Dancing with the Stars to other areas of life?
R: Of course. One of my secrets in life was my fear of dancing. I didn’t dance at my prom and any situation where I had to dance I tried to get out of it. Dancing with the Stars definitely opened my eyes to a whole new world. You can say I have dancing fever now. Ha!

KW: Marcia also asks: Have you shared your business experience as a mentor with any aspiring entrepreneurs?
R: Always. A lot of my friends from school always have amazing ideas and just like our past leaders, a business always starts somewhere. I actually just finished a book called Guaranteed Success for teens which shares some insights on business.

KW: The Tasha Smith question: Are you ever afraid?
R: There are two types of people who will tell you that you cannot make a difference in this world: Those who are afraid to try themselves and those who are afraid that you will succeed. I always say “Do what you are afraid to do.” See, my dictionary must be messed up because the definition of “afraid” in my book is: “Go out and do it!” Oh well. [Laughs]

KW: The Teri Emerson question: When was the last time you had a good laugh?
R: The last time I had a good laugh was when I saw the reaction of my new video “Scheduled Appointment” after world premiering the video on BET and MTV. I was at dinner with my brother and cousins and a light bulb popped above my head and I was like, “Since the ladies love this song sooooo much, should I put out an alternate version of the video?” My bro Valentino replied, “Oh yeah, you mean like a porno?” [LOL] Everybody busted out laughing. It’s already a very sexy video so he was like, “What more can you do?” [Chuckles]

KW: What is your guiltiest pleasure?
R: Reality TV. [Laughs] All the Housewives shows have snuck into my life, and the Kardashians, etcetera. Also, I love chatting with my fans on Twitter. The bad thing is, there is only one me and there is not enough time in the day to reply to all of them.

KW: The bookworm Troy Johnson question: What was the last book you read?
R: The last book I read was “Things Fall Apart.” It is a 1958 English language novel by Nigerian author Chinua Achebe. I actually read this book back in high school but I reread it again as a much more mature person now and it really struck home this go-round. This is an amazing story and it’s one of the best books of all time for a reason. Everybody can relate to living in a shadow and wanting to be recognized for just being themselves.

KW: The music maven Heather Covington question: What music have you been listening to lately?
R: My music goes from A to Z. I have a natural ear for all types of music. I love Taylor Swift though. Shocking? [LOL] But I also listen to T.I., Lil Wayne, Rihanna, Adele, Gucci Mane, My pops Master P and of course myself!

KW: What is your favorite dish to cook?
R: Steak and potatoes, Mac n Cheese and any pasta. And my famous home baked Chocolate Chip Rookies and Ice cream aka cookies!

KW: The Uduak Oduok question: Who is your favorite clothes designer?
R: I‘m not too picky when it comes to designers. I’m a pretty simple dresser. But my favorite boxer shorts designer would have to be Calvin Klein.

KW: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?
R: I see endless opportunities. I see no limits. I see the future.

KW: If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would that be for?
R: World Peace. I just want everyone to feel happiness and love. That’s the reason we have male and female, Adam and Eve, Romeo and Juliet…

KW: The Ling-Ju Yen question: What is your earliest childhood memory?
R: Being 2 years-old and my mom and dad got me a mini basketball hoop for Christmas. I can still remember being on my dad’s neck and dunking the ball at the age of 2!

KW: The “Realtor to the Stars” Jimmy Bayan’s question: Where in L.A. do you live?
R: I have three locations in LA. Beverly Hills in the city and Bel Air and Calabasas. I love it because I get the best of both worlds, peace and quiet, and the city atmosphere.

KW: The Laz Alonso question: How can your fans help you?
R: By cheering us on when nobody else does. Fans are there from the beginning and they know what you’re capable of before anybody else does. My fans give me life. I truly do this for them.

KW: The Zane Question: Do you have any regrets?
R: I have always learned valuable lessons, so I don’t regret any decisions I have made. As I get older I find that I only regret the things I didn’t do.

KW: What has been the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome?
R: Losing my two first cousins at a young age and seeing death with my own eyes. I’ve learned that to live you must not be afraid to die. Everybody’s put on this earth for a reason and you must take advantage of your time here and try to help the world to your best being. Life doesn’t revolve around us, we revolve around life. And I think once you figure that out you’ll appreciate and live a much better life. You only live once, leave your print!

KW: The Flex Alexander question: How do you get through the tough times?
R: God and Family. My dad always sends me Joel Osteen videos and quotes of the day to keep me inspired.

KW: The Rudy Lewis question: Who’s at the top of your hero list?
R: My father and Martin Luther King Jr. These two men have shown me that if you dream big, anything is possible.

KW: What advice do you have for anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps?
R: Be prepared for the ups and downs, and remember that God will never give you anything you can’t handle. Always stay true to yourself and surround your self with positive people. It’s very simple: hard work pays off and patience is a virtue. Also get your education because no one can ever take that away from you.

KW: The Tavis Smiley question: How do you want to be remembered?
R: I don’t really care about being remembered, I just want to help change lives. I want to be remembered through you, our future. Maybe I’d like ot be remembered for my smile. [Chuckles]

KW: Thanks again for the time, Romeo, and best of luck with both the show and the film, and give my best to your father.
R: Thank you, and it’s been my honor, Kam. I just want to tell TeamRomeo that life has NoLimits and feel free to hit me up on my TWITTER: @RomeoMiller and at my site

2011 BET Awards Recap

by Kam Williams

Headline: Chris Brown Back in Favor at BET Awards

Chris Brown has wormed his way back into the hearts of his fans, judging by his emerging the big winner at the BET Awards. He’s obviously been forgiven for his domestic abuse indiscretions, based on his earning the Viewers’ Choice Award for “Look at Me Now.” The song also landed honors for Best Collaboration and Best Video of the Year, while Chris and his once-battered ex, Rihanna, were crowned Best Male and Female R&B Artist, respectively.
The show was hosted by comedian/actor Kevin Hart, who warned the celebs in attendance that nobody would be safe from his caustic barbs, such as Puffy, aka Swag, who was immediately teased about having so many nicknames. But some of the evening’s funniest moments came courtesy of presenters, such as when Taraji P. Henson claimed to have just received a photo of a teeny white penis from recently-disgraced New York Congressman Anthony Weiner.
An array of powerful musical performances by the likes of Jill Scott and Mary J. Blige were unfortunately overshadowed by a number of distracting glitches ranging from the bleeping of profanities by rappers to the TV screen freezing inexplicably. Perhaps the most embarrassing moment involved audience member Tiffany Green who ruined her 15 minutes of fame by announcing the wrong Viewer’s Choice Award-winner.
First she said it was “Chris Brown” and then “Rihanna” before somebody commandeered the microphone to call “Drake” to the stage. Oh, by the way, Drake was the wrong pick, too, and he later had to surrender the trophy to Brown who had been correct after all.
Another awkward moment involved Nicki Minaj who elicited a derisive laugh from the crowd when she feigned, “I can’t believe I won” for Best Female Hip-Hop Artist, when it was obvious that she and everybody else already knew the outcome. By contrast, Willow and Jaden Smith seemed like the picture of innocence when they jointly accepted after tying in the Young Stars Award to the approval of their very proud parents.

Complete List of BET Award Winners

Viewers' Choice - Chris Brown, "Look at Me Now," featuring Lil Wayne and Busta Rhymes
Male R&B Artist - Chris Brown
Female R&B Artist - Rihanna
Male Hip-Hop Artist - Kanye West
Female Hip-Hop Artist - Nicki Minaj
Collaboration - "Look at Me Now," Chris Brown, featuring Lil Wayne and Busta Rhymes
New Artist - Wiz Khalifa
Group - Diddy-Dirty Money
Video of the Year - "Look at Me Now," Chris Brown, featuring Lil Wayne and Busta Rhymes
Video Director of the Year - Chris Robinson
Young Star - Willow and Jaden Smith
Actor - Idris Elba
Actress - Taraji P. Henson
Movie - For Colored Girls
Gospel - Mary Mary
Centric - Marsha Ambrosius
Sportsman - Michael Vick
Sportswoman - Serena Williams
International Act (United Kingdon) - Tinie Tempah
International Act (Africa) - 2Face Idibia (Nigeria) and D'Banj (Nigeria)
Lifetime Achievement – Patti LaBelle

Muhammad Ali: The Long-Lost Movie

Film Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Documentary Gives Glimpses of The Greatest in ’73 & ‘74

In 1966, Muhammad Ali refused to report to an Army induction center when he was drafted to fight in Vietnam, explaining: “I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet Cong. They ain’t never called me [N-word].” At the time, he was undefeated and the undisputed Heavyweight Champion of the World.
However, Muhammad was soon arrested and convicted of draft evasion, and subsequently stripped of his title and boxing license. And he was unable to fight again for over four years, until his conviction was finally overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Muhammad’s arduous path to regaining the heavyweight crown culminated with the classic, 1974 fight in The Congo against George Foreman forever remembered as The Rumble in the Jungle. What makes Muhammad Ali: The Long-Lost Movie so fascinating is the fact that it was shot in 1973 and 1974 when he was close to completing his amazing comeback to champ against what were considered the longest of odds. After all, Foreman was then considered unbeatable, given how he had just knocked Joe Frazier down six times in four minutes in a two-round contest.
Directed by Anton Perich, the film was shot entirely on location at Muhammad’s mountaintop camp located in rustic Deerlake, Pennsylvania.
The director was afforded free access to shoot Ali in the gym where he is seen both sparring in the ring and working out with his legendary corner men Drew “Bundini” Brown and Angelo Dundee.
More interesting are the tete-a-tetes with Muhammad during downtime, when he is heard musing about everything from his faith to his training regimen to racism to the Hurricane Carter case. He even confidently predicts that he will prevail in the impending showdown in Zaire, asserting, “Foreman don’t hit hard. He’s awkward. He can’t go five rounds. It’s going to be a shock to the world.”
However, he does concede that “There ain’t but one thing can stop me from winning the fight.” But you’ll have to see the movie to find out his very surprising vulnerability.
Ever the philosopher, Ali reveals a very deep side of himself during moments of reflection. Here’s a sampling of his many quips shared. “A man’s wealth is in his knowledge, not in the bank.” “A worldly loss often turns into a spiritual gain, and vice-versa.” And “The lover of nature is the true worshipper of God.”
Vintage intimate footage of The Greatest on the verge of what would prove to be his greatest moment in the ring.

Excellent (3.5 stars)
Running time: 120 Minutes
Distributor: Anthology Film Archives

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Bad Teacher

Film Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Cameron Diaz Plays Misbehaving Schoolmarm in Raunchy Romantic Comedy

Public schoolteachers have been getting a pretty bad rap recently, between taking the brunt of the blame for both the declining graduation rates and the escalating deficit of many a state’s economy. Promising to tarnish the noble profession’s reputation even further is this lowbrow comedy revolving around a shameless gold digger too obsessed with landing a sugar daddy to worry about the welfare of her 7th grade students.
Elizabeth Halsey (Cameron Diaz) is a foul-mouthed, pot-smoking alcoholic who lets her class at John Adams Middle School (JAMS) watch movies every morning so she can close her eyes while her hangover wears off. At the point of departure, we find the self-abusing schoolmarm singularly focused on her impending wedding to the filthy-rich heir (Nat Faxon) she sees only as her meal ticket to a pampered life in the lap of luxury.
After all, she’s already gotten the gullible guy to give her a Mercedes convertible as well as access to his credit card. However, he wises up and calls off the wedding when informed by his mom (Stephanie Faracy) that his conniving fiancée has maxed out that account.
Consequently, Elizabeth rather reluctantly returns to JAMS in the fall, with finding another well-heeled, prospective hubby at the top of her agenda. Sure, the affable gym teacher, Russell Gettis (Jason Segel), starts flirting with her again, but he doesn’t have nearly enough money to hold her interest.
As it turns out, there is a new substitute teacher, Scott Delacorte (Jason Timberlake), who fits the bill quite nicely. However, Elizabeth immediately encounters some stiff competition for his affection from Amy Squirrell (Lucy Punch), and soon decides that breast implants might turn the tide in her favor. And because there’s a $5,000 bonus in store for the teacher whose class performs the best on the big standardized test at the end of the semester, Elizabeth is highly motivated for the first time to help her students maximize their test scores.
So unfolds Bad Teacher, a decidedly-adult romp directed by Jake Kasdan (Walk Hard). Don’t be deceived by the movie’s premise which probably sounds a lot more like a set-up for a classic love triangle than a titillating teensploit. Be forewarned, this Cameron Diaz vehicle seizes on any excuse to serve up crude fare whether by having the heroine engage in relentlessly-vulgar repartee or merely prance around suggestively scantily clad.
Provided you’re in the mood for such salacious fare, Bad Teacher does deliver the requisite number of raunchy rib ticklers to be worth the investment for the testosterone-driven demographic.

Very Good (3 stars)
Rated R for nudity, profanity, sexuality and drug use.
Running time: 92 minutes
Distributor: Columbia Pictures

Top Ten DVD List for June 28th

by Kam Williams

Headline: Top Ten DVD List for June 28th


Gods (Dioses)

Barney’s Version

Good Night, Gorilla… and More Wacky Animal Adventures

Zombie Holocaust

Becloud (Vaho)

I'm Dirty & I Stink!

Zathura [Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Pack]

Taken From Me: The Tiffany Rubin Story

Wild Cherry

Honorable Mention

Team Umizoomi

Cyrus: Mind of a Serial Killer

Sucker Punch


Perfect Man

Immigration Tango

Killer on the Loose
Find 2011 re-release cover art at:

Return to Treasure Island
Find 2011 re-release cover art at:

Call Me Bwana

Curse of the Faceless Man

Thursday, June 23, 2011


Film Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Happy Feet Documentary Highlights Annual Irish Dance-Offf

If you are a big fan of Irish Step Dancing, where all the action is from the waist down, have I got a film for you. Directed by Sue Bourne, Jig is a delightful documentary highlighting the grueling training regimen of some of the 3,000 entrants preparing to compete in the 40th Annual Irish Dance World Championships which were staged in Glasgow, Scotland in March of 2010.
The action is reminiscent of what might come to mind to folks familiar with the Broadway show Riverdance, except that the performers are in competition with each other and they reflect a cornucopia of ethnicities, including Asian-American, Russian, Dutch and Sri Lankan.
Though both male and female, it appears that the sport appeals more to the latter, especially since the contest tends to take on the tone of a beauty pageant. For, the girls don Shirley Temple wigs and elaborate costumes which can cost in excess of $2,500.
Given that the prize money couldn’t come close to covering all the travel, wardrobe and practice lesson expenses, the pursuit of perfecting the Irish jig is basically a labor of love with bragging rights awaiting the ones crowned high-kicking King and Queen in front of the appreciative audience. Apparently there’s a degree of subjectivity in the judging which makes it hard to predict which hoofers are apt to emerge victorious.
A captivating primer on tripping the light fantastic with your arms pinned to your sides.

Very Good (3 stars)
Running time: 93 Minutes
Distributor: Screen Media Films

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Kam's Kapsules: For movies opening July 1, 2011

Kam's Kapsules:
Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun
by Kam Williams
For movies opening July 1, 2011


Larry Crowne (PG-13 for brief profanity and sexuality) Tom Hanks stars in the title role of this romantic romp as a victim of downsizing who develops a crush on his jaded speech professor (Julia Roberts) when he enrolls at a community college to brush up on his job skills. Supporting cast includes Pam Grier, Wilmer Valderrama, Taraji P. Henson, Cedric the Entertainer, George Takei and Nia Vardalos.

Monte Carlo (PG for mild epithets) Road comedy about three young tourists (Selena Gomez, Leighton Meester and Katie Cassidy) who are disappointed during their vacation in Paris until they are suddenly whisked away for a glamorous international adventure when one of them is mistaken for a British heiress. With Andie MacDowell, Cory Monteith, Pierre Boulanger and Catherin Tate.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon (PG-13 for profanity, mayhem, destruction, sexual innuendo and intense, sci-fi violence) Final installment in Michael Bay’s bombastic trilogy finds the heroic Autobots desperate to reach a spacecraft marooned on the moon containing secrets which could turn the tide in their epic showdown with the diabolical Decepticons. Ensemble cast includes Shia LaBeouf, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Hugo Weaving, Dr. Ken Jeong, Josh Duhamel, Frances McDormand, Tyrese, John Malkovich, John Turturro, Patrick Dempsey and Leonard Nimoy.


Aurora (Unrated) Deliberately-paced drama contrasting a sedate family man’s (Cristi Puiu) unremarkable home life with his explosive alter ego which only comes out at night while he’s roaming the streets of Bucharest. With Clara Voda, Catrinel Dumitrescu and Luminita Gheorghiu. (In Romanian with subtitles)

Crime after Crime (Unrated) Justice delayed bio-pic recounting the quarter-century campaign to free Debbie Peagler (T’Onna Champagne), a rape victim who was convicted of murder for killing the pimp (Doran Williams) who had forced her into a life of prostitution at the age of 15. With Tennille Williams, Dee Kelly Barrett and Anthony Belcher.

Delhi Belly (Unrated) Buddy comedy about three bachelors (Imran Khan, Vir Das and Kunaal Roy Kapur) who land on the hit list of an Indian crime syndicate. With Raju Kher, Rahul Singh and Vijay Raaz. (In Hindi with subtitles)

Love, Etc. (Unrated) Relationship documentary examining the fates of five couples confronting emotional issues revolving around infatuation, engagement, marriage, parenthood and divorce.

The Perfect Host (R for profanity, violence and brief sexuality) Crime thriller about a con man (Clayne Crawford) who meets his match when he crashes the wrong dinner party after robbing a bank. With David Hyde Pierce, Helen Reddy and Nathaniel Parker.

Polytechnique (Unrated) Canadian crime drama, shot in black & white, dramatizing the real-life, 1989 rampage by a misogynistic lunatic (Maxim Gaudette) on the campus of the University of Montreal which left 14 college coeds dead and another 10 wounded. With Evelyne Brochu, Sebastien Huberdeau and Karine Vanasse. (In French with subtitles)

Small Town Murder Songs (Unrated) Peter Stormare stars in this gothic tale of crime and redemption about an aging police officer who successful suppresses his violent tendencies until a murder disrupts the peace of his tight-knit, Mennonite community in rural Ontario. With Martha Plimpton, Jill Hennessy, Stephen Eric McIntyre and Aaron Poole.

Terri (Unrated) Coming-of-age comedy about an empathetic principal (John C. Reilly) who decides to befriend an ostracized, 15 year-old student (Jacob Wysocki) at his high school. Support cast includes Bridger Zadina, Creed Bratton and Justin Prentice.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The End of Anger (BOOK REVIEW)

The End of Anger:
A New Generation’s Take on Race and Rage
by Ellis Cose
Ecco Books
Hardcover, $24.99
320 pages
ISBN: 978-0-06-199855-3

Book Review by Kam Williams

“The End of Anger is an exploration of why it is that many blacks are feeling optimistic these days… [This] is a book about success—about a particularly privileged, even indulged, group of African-Americans whose experiences in many respects are far from the norm…
In January 2009, on the eve of President Barack Obama’s inauguration, a CNN poll found that 69% of blacks agreed that Martin Luther King’s vision had been fulfilled… The election of an African-American president was a Rubicon to be crossed… No longer are there any excuses for denying blacks anything or for blacks denying themselves the opportunity to aim as high as they wish.”

-- Excerpted from the Introduction (pgs. 1-10)

What a difference a generation makes! When Ellis Cose first conducted a study of black graduates of elite academic institutions back in 1994, he encountered a set of relatively-prospering folks who were nonetheless frustrated about the obstacles they encountered as they endeavored to ascend the corporate ladder.
Coase, a contributing editor at Newsweek Magazine, published his incendiary findings in The Rage of a Privilege Class. What made that groundbreaking best seller so fascinating was how it revealed widespread discontent amidst members of a black bourgeoisie who were undeniably better off moneywise, if not emotionally, than their lesser-educated brethren they’d left behind in the ghetto.
17 years later, a still curious Cose has subjected a similar demographic to socioeconomic and psychological analysis, and his microscope has again uncovered some surprising developments. Focusing solely on graduates of Harvard Business School and on alumni of a program for gifted minority students called A Better Chance (ABC), the author discovered this time that bourgie blacks, like First Lady Michelle Obama, finally feel pretty darn good about being American.
After all, in spite of the recession, they’re currently flourishing financially, with over 90% being blessed with six-figure salaries. You even have a disgraced captain of industry like former CEO Stan O’Neal managing to retire from Merrill Lynch with a golden parachute of $161 million after having practically run the Fortune 500 Company into the ground. His failings are interpreted as a welcome sign that African-American employees no longer need to worry about being twice as good as their white counterparts to reach the pinnacle of their chosen professions.
Cose’s research further indicates that the black upper crust has come around to appreciating the perks associated with its lofty status. ”I am much more optimistic abut the future of my children than I am about the future of all black children,” admits a 39 year-old sister with an MBA from Harvard University and the wherewithal to afford to pay for private schools.
In sum, The End of Anger heralds the ushering-in of a post-racial age in America where green is the only color that determines whether you’re gonna reach the Promise Land.

Michael Clarke Duncan: The “Green Lantern” Interview

with Kam Williams

Headline: From The Green Mile to Green Lantern

Born on December 10, 1957 in Chicago where he and his sister were raised by a single-mom, Michael Clarke Duncan is a survivor who went from homeless to bodyguard to aspiring actor to a Hollywood star with an Oscar-nomination on his resume’. And his career has continued to flourish since that critically-acclaimed performance in the pivotal role of gentle giant John Coffey in “The Green Mile.”
The towering, 6’5” thespian has enjoyed a long list of credits, and is set to star in his first full-time TV role in the new drama series “The Finder,” on FOX. He also has several movies upcoming, including the independent horror thriller “The Sibling,” with Mischa Barton, and the sports drama “From the Rough,” starring Taraji P. Henson.
His recent film work includes “Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li,” “The Last Mimzy” and “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.” Among his other film credits are “The Island,” “Daredevil,” “The Scorpion King,” “Planet of the Apes,” “See Spot Run,” “Bulworth,” “The Whole Nine Yards,” and “Armageddon.”
Big Mike has lent his distinctive, deep voice to such animated projects as “Kung Fu Panda,” “Racing Stripes,” “Brother Bear,” “Delgo,” “Dintopia: Curse of the Ruby Sunstone,” “George of the Jungle 2,” and both “Cats & Dogs” and “Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore.”
Duncan’s television credits include guest-starring roles on the hit shows “Two and a Half Men,” “Chuck,” “Family Guy,“ “The Jaime Foxx Show,” “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air,” “Weird Science,” “Married With Children” and “The Wayans Bros.” Here, he talks about his latest outing as the voice of Kilowog in the Green Lantern.

Kam Williams: Hi Michael, thanks so much for the time.
Michael Clarke Duncan: Hey, how’re you doing, Kam?

KW: I’m fine, thanks. I think the last time we spoke was when you were doing The Island.
MCD: Man, that was a long time ago. But I remember that we share the same birthday. Isn’t that right?

KW: Almost. Mine is December 11th; yours is the 10th. But I also have a few years on you.
MCD: That’s alright. It’s all in your mind.

KW: I have a lot of questions for you from fans, so why don’t I jump right into them. Editor/Legist Patricia Turnier says: I think you’re a great actor and you should have won the Academy Award when you were nominated for The Green Mile.
MCD: Thank you, Patricia. I have to admit that I agree with her. I think I should have won the Oscar and I believe The Green Mile should’ve won for Best Picture. It was the best movie made by anybody that year, hands down.

KW: Patricia asks: Is there a movie genre or type of role that you haven’t had the opportunity to do that you would like to?
MCD: Yes, what I have not done is play the lead in a romantic comedy. I have a comedic side and I bet people would enjoy seeing me get the beautiful woman in the end. Something like that would definitely work.

KW: Patricia also asks: What advice can you give to young people who to follow in your footsteps?
MCD: First off, have a plan. Know what you want to do, because if you don’t know what you want to do, you’ll get stuck. It’s not as easy as people think. A lot of kids think they can just go to Hollywood and become an actor or actress. It’s not that easy. There are millions of kids who come out here wanting to act. So, you have to have a plan, and you have to stick with that plan, because it’s not going to be easy by any means. You’re aware of that, Kam, because of all the degrees you have. You had to go to school and study. And aspiring actors need to take acting classes… know your craft inside and out… and get a job when you arrive in L.A. Don’t depend on acting as your sole source of income. Work nights, so you can have your days off to attend auditions. Have something to fall back on. That’s what my mother taught me, and it’s critical in Hollywood.

KW: You play voice of Kilowog in Green Lantern. Did you ever have to be on the set for this role?
MCD: No, I was never on the set, Kam. Martin [Director Martin Campbell] had me in a studio in Burbank. He knew what he wanted and was very specific. He’s an excellent director who really drives you and pushes you hard.

KW: Teresa Emerson wants to know whether you enjoy doing voiceover work.
MCD: Oh, of course you have to love it any time you can go to the studio in pajamas, and the only preparation you have to do is take a shower and brush your teeth. You don’t even have to memorize your lines. The script is right there in front of you. So, yeah, I love voiceover work. It’s right up there with acting.

KW: Harriet Pakula Teweles says: Because of your size, you are often cast in a role of “The Heavy." Since that is not the real you, how difficult is it to assume that role?
MCD: It’s kind of difficult, because once people enjoy you as “The Heavy,” they want to see you as that all the time. And if you become pigeonholed, then there are only certain limited roles you can play. To help, I’ve trimmed my weight down to a solid 275 instead of being over 300 pounds.

KW: Judyth Piazza asks: What is the most important lesson that you have learned working in Hollywood?
MCD: Save your money. Save your money, because you could be very busy for a year, but then have the next one off. That’s happened to me, but I put my money in the bank, Kam. I don’t splurge. So, my best advice about working in Hollywood is: Save your money!

KW: Judyth also asks: If you could change one thing about Hollywood, what would it be?
MCD: How they do business. Kam, if you shake my hand and tell me we’re going to do this or that project together, I’d believe you. But when I first got to Hollywood, I’d believe all the people who’d tell me they were going to put me in a movie. And I still haven’t heard back from a lot of them to this day. I don’t like it when someone can look you in the eye and lie to you, or pretend that they’re more than you.

KW: Is there any question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would?
MCD: [LOL] No, I just like answering the questions posed, because people can really come up with some off the wall stuff.

KW: What is your favorite dish to cook?
MCD: I made myself some pancakes this morning that were off the chain. I have to admit that I love pancakes and vegetarian meatloaf. I am a food connoisseur, although I don’t eat pork. I’m lucky my girlfriend is a great chef, since eating is one of my favorite pastimes.

KW: What is your guiltiest pleasure?
MCD: Cheesecake! I just had some Cinnamon Chocolate Cheesecake, some German Chocolate Cheesecake and some Pineapple Upside-Down Cheesecake at The Cheesecake Factory the other night. So, I had to work my butt off the next day, because I’m trying to get in shape for my new television series, “The Finder.”

KW: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?
MCD: An accomplished actor who was homeless twice. A person who was down on his luck in Chicago in 1996, crying his eyes out on the lakefront. I see a guy who told himself: There ain’t no use in crying because nobody cares. You can either be a bum or follow your dream and try to make it. Today, I see a successful person when I look in the mirror.

KW: The Ling-Ju Yen question: What is your earliest childhood memory?
MCD: [Chuckles] My earliest memory is of the Christmas my mother bought me an Aurora race car set. That was the only gift I got that year, but I was the happiest kid in the world when she bought me that. I didn’t care about anything else. But that was back in the day, I don’t even know if Aurora’s still in business anymore. That and Electric Football were my favorites when I was a kid

KW: Tudor Electric Football! I had that, and an HO-scale race car set, too.
MCD: See, you know what I’m talking about, Kam. I can reminisce with you without sounding weird.

KW: If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would that be for?
MCD: That’s a no-brainer. Just to have my mother’s health restored. Arthritis and other ailments have taken their toll, and she’s not as vibrant as she used to be. My wish would be to have her health back the way it was in the Sixties when she would play catch with me, throw a football with me, and teach me how to hold a bat. Yeah, my wish would be for my mother to have excellent health.

KW: The Columbus Short question: Are you happy?
MCD: Yes, extremely happy. You gotta remember I was homeless. Whenever I think I have something to complain about. I go outside, walk across the street and look at my home, and remind myself of the time I was living on the damn lakefront in a car full of garbage bags with clothes, and ask myself, “What do you possibly have to be upset about?” Kam, I have nothing to complain about. A friend of mine was just murdered, shot five times last Thursday as he was driving on a freeway entrance ramp. The last thing he did was dial 9-1-1. Another thing my mother told me as a child was, “Always wake up with a smile on your face, because a lot of people who went to sleep last night are not with us this morning.” So, I’m extremely happy, Kam.

KW: Looks like your mother has given you a lot of sound advice over the years.
MCD: Yeah, she’s never steered me wrong. I remember when Martin Luther King was shot and people started rioting in Chicago. My mother whacked me on my butt just because I balled up a piece of paper and threw it out the window. She asked me, “Why did you do that?” I said, “Because they killed Martin Luther King.” She said, “just think, where are we gonna buy our groceries, if they burn all the stores down?” I hadn’t thought of that.

KW: I had the impulse to riot when King was killed, too, but I was lucky to have a teacher who suggested that maybe I should channel my energy constructively and become a revolutionary student instead of a rioter.
MCD: And look what happened, from those words to you now. That teacher had a profound impact on the way you think by saying that one phrase. And then you went on to Ivy League schools. Growing up back then, people cared about you. If you misbehaved, the elders in the neighborhood would pull your coat. You got all your degrees because of the way that your parents, your teachers and your community raised you and helped you get there. You probably had some excellent teachers who inspired you whose names you can still recall to this day, just like I did.

KW: Yep.
MCD: Did you know that Secretary of Education Arnie Duncan is from Chicago? His mother ran a center for underprivileged black kids in the hood. I told him to let me know whenever he wants me to speak on behalf of education. I believe that teachers committed to the community are the ones who deserve to earn the top dollar, a starting salary of a quarter million dollars a year, because they’re the ones that get the Michael Clarke Duncans and the Kam Williams ready for our careers. I’m sorry for going a little off topic, Kam.

KW: No need to apologize.
MCD: Believe me, Kam, I’m the biggest sports fan there is, I love sports, but I’m still convinced that it’s teachers who deserve the big salaries, not athletes. When I reflect on my childhood, I could always count on my mothers and my teachers the most.

KW: The Teri Emerson question: When was the last time you had a good laugh?
MCD: I try to have a good laugh every day. Every day, Kam!

KW: Well, thanks for another great interview, Mike, and best of luck with both Green Lantern and the new TV show.
MCD: Hey, much love, Kam, and give your wife and son my regards.

KW: Will do, brother.
MCD: Take care, man.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Top Ten DVD List for June 21st

This Week’s DVD Releases
by Kam Williams

Headline: Top Ten DVD List for June 21st

Living in Emergency: Stories of Doctors without Borders

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules

New York Street Games



Orgasm, Inc.

The Little Rascals – The Complete Collection

The Adjustment Bureau



Honorable Mention


Bending All the Rules

Playing House

Hip Hop’s Power Couple: Jay-Z & Beyonce

Rap Sucks

Electra Luxx

Mega Python vs. Gatoroid


Shot in the Dark

Best of Cheaters – Volume 4

The Adjustment Bureau DVD

DVD Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Mindbending Sci-Fi Starring Damon and Blunt Arrives on DVD

A number of the late Philip K. Dick’s science-fiction novels and short stories have been made into movies, most notably, Blade Runner, Total Recall and Minority Report. The latest is The Adjustment Bureau, a surreal, psychological thriller co-starring Matt Damon and Emily Blunt.
In the original adventure, God dispatches disembodied spirits to Earth in order to ease East-West atomic tensions. But then something as simple as a dog’s failure to bark as scheduled sets in motion a destabilizing chain of events which threaten to destroy détente.
First, an insurance salesman who failed to hear the hound leaves late for work and consequently shares something he witnesses with his wife. So, it subsequently falls to angels to intervene to ensure that all still unfolds in accordance with the desire of the Creator.
Directed by George Nolfi, the screen version, by contrast, is a revision which renders the source material unrecognizable except for its supernatural elements. Now, instead of being married to each other, the protagonists are an eligible bachelor and a beautiful ballerina who meet quite by coincidence in a men’s room at the Waldorf Astoria.
Just past the point of departure, we find David Norris (Damon) practicing his concession speech after losing a race for the U.S. Senate. When wedding crasher Elise Sellas (Blunt) sheepishly emerges from a stall, the two fall in love at first sight.
However, “The Chairman” has already prescribed a preordained life for him as a prominent politician, a path which definitely excludes Elise. Therefore, a dapper quartet of ethereal emissaries sporting felt fedoras are dispatched to the planet to prevent the pair from seeing each other again.
They are led by Archangel Richardson (John Slattery) who explains that the function of the Adjustment Bureau as enforcers of God’s master plan. He even threatens David and Elise with lobotomies should they persist in pursuing a relationship.
Not surprisingly, they continue to follow their hearts, and what ensues is a special effects-driven game of cat-and mouse pitting a pair of hopelessly-smitten humans against an army of angels with an array of supernatural forces at their disposal. Thus, the picture poses the basic question: Which would win in a battle between free will and predestination?
An entertaining, if blasphemous mindbender suggesting that love conquers all, even the will of God.

Good (2 stars)
Rated PG-13 for sexuality, brief profanity and a violent image.
Running time: 106 Minutes
Studio: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
DVD Extras: Deleted and extended scenes, feature commentary with director George Nolfi, and 3 featurettes: “Leaping thru New York,” “Destined to Be” and “Becoming Elise.”

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules DVD

DVD Review by Kam Williams

Headline: More Sibling Rivalry Featured in Fun-Filled Sequel

Geeky Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon) has resigned himself to returning to Westmore Middle School after spending most of the 6th grade getting picked-on by bullies. At least the scrawny, 98-pound weakling and his beefy best friend, Rowley (Robert Capron), have buried the hatchet.
At the beginning of the fall semester, Greg develops a crush on a cute classmate, Holly Hills (Peyton List). Unfortunately, the object of his affection, barely notices, a sign that Greg could be in for another, very long school year.
Meanwhile, the lovesick lad is just as miserable at home, between being tormented mercilessly by his older brother, Rodrick (Devon Bostick), and being tattled on by his younger one, Manny (Connor Fielding). Compounding the problem is their meddling mother’s (Rachael Harris) futile attempt to discourage sibling rivalry by rewarding her sons with “Mom Bucks” for spending time with each other.
“Now, Rodrick can get paid for beating me up!” an exasperated Greg complains about the big brother he says is “The King of Laziness, except when it comes to torturing me.” Is it any wonder, then, that when their misguided mom’s pressure to bond backfires, Greg retreats to his bedroom to fantasize about being adopted by a billionaire couple?
Such frustrations ought to sound familiar to fans of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid franchise, for this rib-tickling sequel reestablishes the original’s premise. And it also trades in the same sort of teasing, slapstick and bodily-function humor most likely to resonate with the ‘tweener demographic.
Directed by David Bowers, the movie is based on the second installment of the best-selling series of children’s novels written and illustrated by cartoonist Jeff Kinney. This go-round, Rodrick enjoys center stage, literally and figuratively, as the drummer of his heavy metal, garage band, Loded Diper. The group is gearing up to compete for the $1,000 grand prize in their hometown of Plainview’s Most Talented contest.
However, Rod is grounded after throwing a wild party in the house while his parents are out of town. Will he be granted an 11th hour reprieve and be permitted to perform? Far be it from this critic to spoil a cliffhanger, let’s just say, that wimps still rule in this upside-down universe where it’s cool to be square!

Excellent (3.5 stars)
Rated PG for mischief and rude humor.
Running time: 99 Minutes
Studio: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
DVD Extras: 6 deleted scenes, 8 bonus shorts, gag reel, commentary by author Jeff Kinney and director David Bowers, and a theatrical trailer.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Viva Riva! (CONGOLESE)

Film Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Kinshasa Serves as Setting for Congo Gangsta Flick

Drugs may be the contraband of choice in most modern, American crime capers, but this African adventure revolves around a present-day black market in petroleum. The picture’s protagonist is Riva (Patsha Bay), a petty thief who has commandeered a truckload of gasoline across the Angolan border into the Congo with plans to resell it in his hometown of Kinshasa where the populace is in the grips of an oil shortage.
The trouble is that he isn’t quite ready to rise to his calling as a crook, for he soon becomes beguiled by Nora (Manie Malone), the red-headed, gun moll of a local mobster (Diplome Amekindra). And while he allows himself to be led around by the loins, he soon lands on the radar of her jealous boyfriend as well as a policewoman (Marlene Longange) and an angry Angolan crime boss (Hoji Fortuna) determined to recover his pilfered petrol.
Winner of a half-dozen African Movie Academy Awards, Viva Riva! marks the promising scriptwriting, directorial and producing debut of Djo Munga. The movie is most reminiscent of all those cheap-looking blaxploitation flicks made by gangsta rappers searching for some crossover appeal back in the Nineties.
Given the omnipresence of such genre trademarks as graphic nudity and gratuitous violence, Viva Riva! certainly manages to keep your attention riveted to the screen. And since it simultaneously serves up a compelling storyline and does a decent job of character development, it’s worth checking out just based on the rarity of a movie with an empathetic black protagonist even being made about the Congo.
The un-Tarzan!

Very Good (3 stars)
In French and Lingala with subtitles
Running time: 96 Minutes
Distributor: Music Box Films

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Elektra Luxx DVD

DVD Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Pregnant Porn Star Seeks Fresh Start in Kinky Sitcom

Celia, aka Elektra Luxx (Carla Gugino), decided to retire from the adult film industry after she was knocked-up by a famous rock musician. But since her baby-daddy is recently deceased, she’s been reduced to supporting herself by teaching sex education at a local community college.
For this reason, she jumps at the chance to spice up her life again the day she’s approached for a favor by Cora (Marley Shelton), a stewardess familiar with her former line of work. Cora asks Elektra Luxx to seduce her unsuspecting fiancé in exchange for which she’s prepared to hand over some lyrics stolen from the former porn star’s late boyfriend.
Unfortunately, due to a case of mistaken identity at the designated motel, a flummoxed house detective (Timothy Oliphant) becomes the windfall beneficiary of the luscious lady’s libidinous largesse. Such sitcom-style antics abound in Elektra Luxx, a kinky, kitchen sink comedy written and directed by Sebastian Gutierrez.
The picture is a sequel to his previous offering, Women in Trouble, another scatterplot affair featuring basically the same ensemble. This go-round, our hot-blooded, heroine in heat lands in a variety of sticky situations, so to speak, with everyone from her biggest fan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) to her identical twin sister (Gugino) to the Blessed Virgin Mary (Julianne Moore).
Just don’t expect to see much nudity and you won’t be disappointed, for precious less skin is served up on screen than is suggested by the flick’s salacious subject-matter. The easy explanation for all the modesty is likely to be found in the fact that the glamorous Carla Gugino is director Sebastian Gutierrez’s girlfriend, and he probably has no desire to share his good fortune with the world.
Nevertheless, provided you are able to tamp down your expectations in terms of carnality, this chaste sex romp remains just engaging enough to be dubbed “Elektra”-fying!”

Very Good (2.5 stars)
Rated R for nudity, profanity and graphic sexuality.
Running time: 100 Minutes
Distributor: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
DVD Extras: Deleted scenes.

Orgasm, Inc DVD

DVD Review by Kam Williams

Headline: DVD Exposes Pharmaceutical Plot to Exploit Female Pleasure

Is Female Sexual Dysfunction (FSD) an actual illness diagnosed by doctors or just a phony ailment cooked up by lobbyists looking to cash in on a non-existing condition? It’s definitely the latter, according to Orgasm, Inc., as scathing an indictment of the pharmaceutical industry as you are ever likely to encounter.
This shocking expose’ was directed by Elizabeth Canner who devoted nine years to chronicling the drug companies’ effort to get the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first to recognize FSD as a medical disorder, and then to approve a class of prescription drugs as female versions of Viagra. With the help of physicians placed on the pharma business payroll, some of whom were reportedly paid as much as $75,000 per day (that’s right, per day), the FDA soon certified the newly-discovered illness as an affliction marked by a woman’s “lack of desire, lack of pleasure and/or painful intercourse.”
That governmental go-ahead triggered a race among biotechs which immediately plunged headlong into a competition to be the first to bring a billion-dollar cure for the supposed malady to market. However, as this damning documentary alleges, it appears that what we have “is a case of corporate-sponsored creation of disease.”
For skeptical experts, such as Harvard Med School Professor Susan Bennett, point out, there have been “no new medical discoveries regarding women’s sexual problems.” Might this merely be “the medical industry’s attempt to change our understanding of health, illness, desire, and that ultimate moment, orgasm?”
The film also highlights a larger issue, namely, “how the pharmaceutical industry, through a whole range of very sophisticated PR and marketing strategies, is changing how we think about our bodies, our health, and our diseases.” After all, ever since drug advertising was deregulated during the Reagan Era, the public has been bombarded with commercials for an array of bizarre new afflictions ranging from Restless Leg Syndrome to Male Menopause.
An eye-opening, cautionary tale unveiling a diabolical corporate conspiracy to turn healthy people into patients by medicalizing everyday aspects of the human condition.

Excellent (4 stars)
Running time: 78 Minutes
Distributor: First Run Features
DVD Extras: Bonus scenes, director’s bio, and Take Action: A Resource Guide.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Battle: Los Angeles DVD

DVD Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Apocalyptic Sci-Fi Available on DVD

This apocalyptic action flick revolves around the daring exploits of a rag-tag team of Marines representing the last hope for humanity in the wake of an alien invasion which is decimating the planet. As the film opens, we are introduced to Staff Sergeant Michael Nantz (Aaron Eckhart) as he’s called on the carpet for his soldiers having suffered heavy casualties in Iraq.
The humiliated platoon leader grudgingly agrees to retire, but not before first helping to whip their replacements into fighting shape. His new unit is a motley crew comprised of familiar archetypes.
There’s an untested Lieutenant (Ramon Rodriguez); a raw recruit (Noel Fisher) so young he had to get his parents’ permission to enlist; a veteran (Jim Parrack) suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder; a soldier (Ne-Yo) set to marry his sweetheart; another (Taylor Handley) who knows about Nantz’s checkered past; and the brother (Cory Hardict) of a G.I. who died overseas under the disgraced Sergeant’s command.
Just as this freshly-forged band of brothers is about to ship out, a mysterious meteor shower morphs into a lethal legion of hostile extraterrestrial armed to the teeth and bent on world domination. So, instead of being deployed to the Middle East, our intrepid heroes are sent to the City of Los Angeles where they join forces with Elena Santos (Michelle Rodriguez), a feisty Air Force Sergeant on a reconnaissance detail.
Despite the film’s futuristic pretensions, Battle: Los Angeles is basically an old-fashioned war flick which unabashedly employs every cliché associated with the genre. For instance, the fate of apprehensive Lieutenant Martinez (Ramon Rodriguez) is sealed, cinematically, the moment he sits down to write an letter to his pregnant wife back home.
The film’s frenetic action consists of wave after wave of mindless mayhem intermittently interrupted by sentimental reminders that God is on our side and by simplistic sloganeering such as “Marines don’t quit!” and “Let’s go show ‘em how Marines fight!” With no message deeper to impart, some might suggest that the film amounts to little more than a two-hour PSA for the U.S. military. On the other hand, the less cynical are just as likely to rally behind these selfless defenders of God, Mom and apple pie.

Very Good (2.5 stars)
Rated PG-13 for profanity, scenes of destruction and sustained, intense violence.
Running time: 116 minutes
Distributor: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
DVD Extras: Featurettes entitled: “Behind the Battle,” “Aliens in L.A.,” “Preparing for Battle” and “Creating L.A. in Louisiana.”

Green Lantern

Film Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Ryan Reynolds Stars in Adaptation of DC Comics Series

When you think of Ryan Reynolds, what mostly comes to mind are his wacky romantic romps like The Proposal, Van Wilder, Adventureland and Defintely, Maybe. Comedy chops aside, one still might naturally wonder whether he would able to summon sufficient gravitas when asked to portray a comic book superhero.
Diehard Reynolds fans undoubtedly remember that he’s previously played a caped crusader, Captain Excellent, in Paper Man, as well as a villain, Deadpool, in Wolverine. Obviously all of the above left him well-prepared to assume the lead in Green Lantern, where he rises to the occasion with perfect aplomb.
Directed by Martin Campbell (Casino Royale), this classic origins adventure is designed to function as a detailed introduction to both the title character and his alter ego, Hal Jordan. At the point of departure we find ladies man Hal leaving late for his job as a test pilot for Ferris Aircraft. He bids the woman he’s just shared a one-night stand with farewell by saying, “Make yourself at home. There’s water in the tap.” What a charmer.
After a training exercise goes terribly wrong at work, slacker Hal finds himself unfavorably compared, as usual, to his colleague/love interest, Carol Ferris (Blake Lively). However, his ineptitude doesn’t discourage a dying alien (Temeura Morrison) from a world away who crash lands on Earth from picking him as the first human to ever be inducted in the Green Lantern Corps.
Hal is summarily whisked away to the planet Oa where he is given an appropriately-verdant stretchy outfit and a matching mask before being whipped into fighting shape by a burly beast named Kilowog (Michael Clarke Duncan). He learns that when he’s incarnated as the Green Lantern, he can turn whatever he thinks into reality by sheer force of will.
Aimed at the ‘tweener demo, the picture’s simplistically-scripted storyline pits good versus evil as embodied by the Guardians of the Universe (the Green Lantern Corps) and a pair of diabolical antagonists in Parallax (Clancy Brown) on Oa, and Dr. Hector Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard) down on this planet.
The CGI-driven, intergalactic goings-on in outer space are decidedly cartoonish, especially in contrast to the relatively-realistic action transpiring down here. Fortunately, Ryan Reynolds’ combination of suave self-assuredness, seasoned comic timing and old-fashioned ability to kick butt outweigh the film’s minor flaws to make for a satisfying cinematic experience warranting a sequel.

Very Good (3 stars)
Rated PG-13 for intense sci-fi violence.
Running time: 105 Minutes
Distributor: Warner Brothers

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Kam's Kapsules: For movies opening June 24, 2011

Kam's Kapsules:
Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun
by Kam Williams
For movies opening June 24, 2011


Bad Teacher (R for nudity, profanity, sexuality and drug use) Cameron Diaz stars in the title role of this romantic comedy about a trashy gold digger who schemes to land a wealthy substitute teacher (Justin Timberlake) while being chased by another colleague (Jason Segel). With Lucy Punch, Molly Shannon and Thomas Lennon.

Cars 2 (G) Pixar/Disney animated sequel about a couple of cool automobiles (Larry the Cable Guy” and Owen Wilson) who become embroiled in international espionage when they venture to Europe to compete in the World Grand Prix of Racing. With voice work by Emily Mortimer, Michael Caine, John Turturro, Brent Musburger, Joe Mantegna, Cheech Marin, Vanessa Redgrave, Jenifer Lewis and Tony Shalhoub.


The Best and the Brightest (Unrated) Social climber comedy about a desperate couple (Neil Patrick Harris and Bonnie Somerville), new to Manhattan, who enlist the assistance of an education consultant (Amy Sedaris) in order to get their 5 year-old daughter (Amelia Talbot) admitted to an exclusive private school. With John Hodgman, Christopher McDonald and Kate Mulgrew.

A Better Life (PG-13 for profanity, violence and drug use) American Dream drama, set in East L.A., about an undocumented immigrant’s (Demian Bichir) attempt to protect his teenage son (Jose Julian) from both street gangs and deportation back to Mexico. With Joaquin Cosio, Nancy Lenehan and Bobby Soto.

Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop (Unrated) Concert flick featuring the late night talk show host over the course of a 44-city, standup comedy tour during a period in 2010 when he found himself between networks. With appearances by Jim Carrey, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and Conan’s longtime sidekick Andy Richter.

General Orders No. 9 (Unrated) Cinematic portrait of the State of Georgia shot by first-time director Robert Persons who laments the escalating encroachment of urbanization on the South’s natural habitats.

If a Tree Falls (Unrated) Eco-documentary chronicling the exploits of the Earth Liberation Front, the revolutionary environmental group named by the FBI as America’s #1 domestic terrorist threat.

Leap Year (Unrated) Sadomasochistic drama, set in Mexico City, revolving around a suicidal freelance journalist (Monica del Carmen) who enlists the help of a stranger (Gustavo Sanchez Parra) with whom she shares a one-night stand. (In Spanish with subtitles)

A Little Help (R for sexuality, profanity and drug use) Bittersweet dramedy about a dental hygienist (Jenna Fischer) who suddenly finds herself resorting to lies to provide for herself and her 12 year-old son (Daniel Yelsky) in the wake of her philandering husband’s (Chris O’Donnell) untimely death. With Kim Coates, Ron Leibman, Lesley Ann Warren and Rob Benedict.

A Love Affair of Sorts (Unrated) Serendipitous love tale, unfolding in Los Angeles during the holiday season, between a surreptitious painter (David Guy Levy) and the Hungarian nanny (Lili Bordan) he catches shoplifting at a bookstore on his cell phone camera. Support cast includes Ivan Kamaras and Jonathan Beckerman.

The Names of Love (Unrated) French farce about a free-spirited, young political activist (Sara Forestier) who succeeds in converting right-wing conservatives to her liberal cause by sleeping with them until she meets her match in a stubborn, middle-aged Fascist (Jacques Gamblin). With Carole Franck, Jacques Boudet and former Prime Minister of France Lionel Jospin. (In French, Greek, Arabic and English with subtitles)

Passione (Unrated) John Turturro directed and narrates this labor of love exploring the musical and cultural contributions of the City of Naples. (In Italian, Neapolitan, Arabic and English with subtitles)

Raw Faith (Unrated) Slice-of-life bio-pic capturing Minister Marilyn Sewell’s personal struggle with the question of whether or not to leave the pulpit after she falls in love for the first time.

Turtle: The Incredible Journey (G) Nature documentary traces the path a little loggerhead turtle takes from Florida to the frozen North Atlantic to Africa and back to the beach where she was born.

Vincent Wants to Sea (Unrated) Road flick about a man with Tourette’s Syndrome (Florian David Fitz) who runs away to Italy from a Bavarian rehabilitation center accompanied by his obsessive-compulsive roommate (Johannes Allmayer) and an anorexic patient (Karoline Herfurth) in order to fulfill his late mother’s last request. (In German with subtitles)

Mr. Popper’s Penguins

Film Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Jim Carrey Stars in Overhaul of Beloved Children’s Classic

Published by Richard and Florence Atwater in 1938, Mr. Popper’s Penguins is a popular children’s novel about a house painter who can’t afford to see the world anywhere but in his dreams because he has a wife and kids to support. However, his life changes the day a penguin arrives in the mail in response to a letter he writes to an admiral exploring Antarctica.
First, Popper acquires a female mate from an aquarium so his new pet won’t be lonely, and the next thing you know she’s giving birth to ten babies. He then gets a chance to tour the country after training the penguins as a circus act. In the end, however, he decides that forcing them to perform was unfair, so he takes them to the Arctic to free them in the Northern wild.
The film version of Mr. Popper’s Penguins was directed by Mark Waters, a proven master of kiddie fare between Mean Girls and the remake of Freaky Friday. Starring Jim Carrey in the title role, the picture bears little resemblance to the original timeless, children’s classic. But the story is nonetheless just as likely to delight young and old alike.
This incarnation of Tom Popper is divorced, not married; rich, not poor; and out of touch with nature, not in touch with it. At the point of departure, the successful Manhattan real estate magnate inherits a half-dozen penguins. Behaving in a manner suggested by their descriptive names, Stinky, Lovey, Bitey, Loudy, Captain and Nimrod proceed to turn his posh, penthouse apartment upside-down.
There is much to keep any audience in stitches, here, from the profusion of poop deposited on poor Popper, which allows for lots of reaction shots on the part of the rubber-faced Carrey. He is also hit in the head and the crotch by soccer balls kicked by his emotionally-estranged children, daughter, Janie (Madeline Carroll), and son, Billy (Maxwell Perry Cotton). Just as funny is the alliteration flowing from the mouth of his personal assistant, Pippi (Ophelia Lovibond), whose every other word seems to start with the letter “p,” from “I can pamper the penguins.” to “You need to procure your promotion.”
Although the exasperated workaholic initially sees the anthropomorphic pets as a total nuisance, of course, they ultimately help him reconcile with his kids and his ex-wife (Carla Gugino) after a realization that family is far more important than making money. The film also features a couple of cute subplots, one involving a nosy zookeeper (Clark Gregg) determined to rescue the penguins, the other, about an owner (Angela Lansbury) reluctant to sell Popper the Tavern on the Green restaurant.
Jim Carrey’s silliest animal vehicle since Ace Ventura!

Excellent (4 stars)
Rated PG for rude humor and mild epithets.
Running time: 95 minutes
Distributor: 20th Century Fox