Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Kam's Movie Kapsules for 3-9-12

Kam's Kapsules:
Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun
by Kam Williams
For movies opening March 9, 2012


Friends with Kids (R for profanity and sexuality) No strings comedy about best friends (Adam Scott and Jennifer Westfeldt) who decide to have a child together while maintaining a Platonic relationship and dating others. Ensemble cast includes Kristen Wiig, Megan Fox, Edward Burns, Maya Rudolph and Jon Hamm.

John Carter (PG-13 for violence and intense action sequences) Screen adaptation of “A Princess of Mars,” Edgar Rice Burroughs’ sci-fi novel about a Civil War Confederate veteran (Taylor Kitsch) who is magically transported to Mars where he rescues a desperate damsel in distress (Lynn Collins) while on the run from a horde of 12-foot tall green creatures. With Samantha Morton, Willem Dafoe, Thomas Haden Church and Ciaran Hinds.

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (PG-13 for violence, sexuality and brief profanity) Lasse Hallstrom directed this unlikely-buddies comedy about a British scientist (Ewan McGregor) summoned to Yemen by a filthy rich oil sheik (A Waked) determined to turn his dream of fly-fishing in the desert into reality. Cast includes Emily Blunt, Kristin Scott Thomas and Tom Mison.

Silent House (R for disturbing violence) Claustrophobic remake of the 2010 Uruguayan horror flick about a young woman (Elizabeth Olsen) terrorized by supernatural forces while trapped inside of her parent’s secluded summer home. With Adam Trese, Eric Sheffer Stevens, Haley Murphy and Julia Taylor Ross.

A Thousand Words (PG-13 for profanity, sexuality and drug-related humor) Revenge comedy about a lying literary agent (Eddie Murphy) forced to stop talking when a New Age guru (Cliff Curtis) puts a curse on him. Featuring Kerry Washington, John Witherspoon and Allison Janney.


Apart (R for violence, profanity and bloody images) Romance thriller about a couple of star-crossed lovers (Olesya Rulin and Josh Danziger) who share a psychological disorder which proves fatal for their friends the deeper they fall in love. With Bruce McGill, Joey Lauren Adams and Michael Bowen.

Attenberg (Unrated) Bittersweet Greek drama about an inexperienced, 23 year-old (Ariane Labed) who belatedly begins to explore her sexuality with the help of a girlfriend (Evangelia Randou) while caring for her terminally-ill father (Vangelis Mourikis). (In Greek with subtitles)

The Decoy Bride (Unrated) Unintended consequences comedy, set on a remote Scottish island, about a British bloke (David Tennant) who develops feelings for the look-a-like (Katie Macdonald) he hires to impersonate his famous, Hollywood actress fiancée (Alice Eve) so they can tie the knot in peace without being hounded by the paparazzi. With Dylan Moran, Michael Urie and Sally Phillips. (In English and Gaelic with subtitles)

Footnote (PG for mature themes, smoking, mild epithets and brief nudity) Israeli drama about a father (Shlomo Bar-Aba) and son (Lior Ashkenazi), both Talmudic scholars at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, whose healthy rivalry turns ugly when the elder wins the nation’s highest prize for scholarship. With Yuval Scharf, Aliza Rosen and Alma Zack. (In Hebrew with subtitles)

Good for Nothing (R for violence and sexual references) Erectile dysfunction Western about a wanted man (Cohen Holloway) who kidnaps a beautiful British woman (Inge Rademeyer) only to go limp when he tries to have his way with her. Support cast includes Jon Pheloung, Richard Thompson and Allen Hemberger.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi (PG for mature themes and brief smoking) Gourmet biopic about 85 year-old Jiro Ono, the legendary chef and owner of Tokyo’s Sukiyabashi Jiro, considered by many to be the best sushi restaurant in the world. (In Japanese with subtitles)

Playback (R for graphic violence, sexuality, nudity and teen partying) High attrition-rate horror flick about an evil spirit that’s suddenly unleashed when a group of high school students decide to explore a dark rumor about their hometown’s past. Starring Christian Slater, Johnny Pacar and Ambyr Childers.

Shakespeare High (Unrated) Theater appreciation documentary chronicling promising high school students performing at the 90th Annual Shakespeare Festival staged in L.A. by the Drama Teachers Association of Southern California.

Sound of Noise (R for profanity and brief nudity) Swedish crime comedy about a tone deaf cop’s (Bengt Nilsson) attempt to track down the gang of musical anarchists which has been terrorizing Malmo by staging impromptu percussion concerts all over the city. With Sanna Persson, Magnus Borjeson and Marcus Boij. (In Swedish with subtitles)

Carl Van Vechten (BOOK REVIEW)

Carl Van Vechten & the Harlem Renaissance:
A Portrait in Black & White
By Emily Bernard
Yale University Press
Hardcover, $30.00
372 pages, Illustrated
ISBN: 978-0-300-12199-5

Book Review by Kam Williams

“This book is a portrait of a once-controversial figure… a white man with a passion for blackness… [who] played a crucial role in helping the Harlem Renaissance… come to understand itself… Carl Van Vechten has been viewed with suspicion… [as] a racial voyeur and sexual predator, an acolyte of primitivism who misused his black artist friends and pushed them to make art that fulfilled his belief in racial stereotypes…
While his early interest in blackness was certainly inspired by sexual desire and his fascination with what he perceived as black primitivism, these features were not what sustained his interest… More important [was] his conviction that blackness was a central feature of Americanness…
Van Vechten’s enthusiasm for blacks may have catapulted many careers, but at what cost to the racial integrity of those artists, and to the Harlem Renaissance as a whole? My ambition in this book is to enlarge that question into… a tale about the messy realities of race, and the complicated tangle of black and white.”
-- Excerpted from the Introduction (pgs. 1-2)

Despite having majored in African-American Literature as an undergrad, I don’t recall having ever encountered the name Carl Van Vechten (1880-1964) over the course of my studies. For this reason, I owe a debt of gratitude to Emily Bernard for filling in a critical gap with this new biography about a pioneering writer/critic/photographer and tireless advocate of African American culture.
For, this open-minded white man hailing from Cedar Rapids, Iowa came to play a pivotal role in New York City in the promotion of black artists during the period in the Twenties and Thirties which later came to be known as the Harlem Renaissance. For instance, Carl is credited with introducing Langston Hughes to the editor at Knopf who would publish the aspiring poet’s first book.
According to author Bernard, a professor of English at the University of Vermont, Van Vechten played a similar role in launching the career of Paul Robeson when he arranged for the actor/singer’s debut professional concert, which took place in a theater in Greenwich Village. Ethel Waters, another one of his discoveries, appreciated the fact that he wasn’t afflicted with all the “mental pains and psychic aches” of most of the white folks she’d encountered.
To the contrary, Carl was a bon vivant who took to and immersed himself into black culture with abandon, even writing a very controversial novel entitled “Nigger Heaven.” Apparently, because he not only hung out in Harlem with brothers and sisters, but routinely invited them downtown for dinner and to attend integrated parties, he felt entitled to use the N-word, almost as if he were almost black himself.
Still, the blowback about the book’s title leveled the literary equivalent of the color line-crossing inquiry: Can white men sing the blues? Apparently, Carl emerged from the ordeal with flying colors, even if his contributions were by-and-large overlooked by history.
Today, the snub has been more than righted by Professor Bernard with this posthumous tribute to a prescient patron of the arts who recognized the richness of African-American culture at a time when most Caucasians couldn’t even see blacks as equals.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Kerry Washington (INTERVIEW)

Kerry Washington
The “A Thousand Words” Interview
with Kam Williams

Kerry in Her Very Own Words

Born in the Bronx on January 31, 1977, Kerry Washington attended the Spence School and graduated Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa from George Washington University. After making an impressive film debut in Our Song in 2000, she went on to win the NAACP Image Award just five years later for playing Ray Charles’ wife, Della, opposite Jamie Foxx in Ray. She will again be paired with Jamie as his spouse in Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino’s revenge flick about slavery in the ante bellum South.
Over the course of her meteoric rise in Hollywood, Kerry has proved to be a versatile thespian by virtue of an impressive list of credits that includes memorable performances in Mother and Child, Night Catches Us, For Colored Girls, The Last King of Scotland, The Dead Girl and Lakeview Terrace. She has also co-starred in Fantastic Four and its sequel, Rise of the Silver Surfer, Miracle at St. Anna, I Think I Love My Wife, Little Man, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, She Hate Me, Against the Ropes, The Human Stain and Save the Last Dance.
On the small screen, Kerry is set to play the lead role of Olivia Pope on Scandal, a dramatic TV-series premiering on ABC in April. Here, she talks about her latest film, A Thousand Words, a comedy co-starring Eddie Murphy.

Kam Williams: Hi Kerry, thanks for the interview.
Kerry Washington: Thank you, Kam. How are you?

KW: Great! And you?
Kerry: Fine, thanks.

KW: What interested you in A Thousand Words?
Kerry: I really liked the message of the film, as well as the opportunity to work with Eddie Murphy.

KW: What was it like working with Eddie?
Kerry: It was great! It was particularly fun for me because I had worked with so many people who looked up to Eddie who had been inspired to go into the business by him, from Chris Rock to Jamie Foxx to the Wayans Brothers. So, it was like finally going to the source.
KW: Did you every have trouble keeping a straight face on the set?
Kerry: Yeah, he’s very funny. But he’s also incredibly focused, and takes comedy very seriously, if that makes any sense. [Chuckles]

KW: Of course it does. What message do you think people will take away from the movie?
Kerry: It’s kind of about valuing your words, understanding that what you say has consequences, and that you can’t just B.S. your way through life.

KW: I have a lot of questions for you from fans.
Kerry: Oh, fun!

KW: Larry Greenberg says: The name of your character in A Thousand Words seems to be double top secret. I can’t find it anywhere at the usual online sources. You’re just credited everywhere as “Jack McCall’s wife.” Will you tell us her name?
Kerry: Oh, that’s weird. I have no idea why that is. Her name is Caroline. I hope the studio didn’t have a reason for concealing it because I just let the cat out of the bag.

KW: Attorney Bernadette Beekman asks: if you could go back in time and give yourself at 18 a piece of advice, what would that be?
Kerry: It would be: Relax and enjoy the ride. It gets easier.

KW: Bernadette also asks: What is your favorite charity?
Kerry: Well, I’m on the board of V-Day, which is a global movement to end violence against women. I’m very passionate about that. We have a new campaign called one billion rising.

KW: Harriet Pakula Teweles asks: How can our stars and idols avoid the pressure that celebrity brings in order to prevent the kind of tragedy we all witnessed recently when we mourned the passing of Whitney Houston?
Kerry: I’m reluctant to comment about preventing that specifically, since we don’t yet know all the details, and because I didn’t know Whitney well enough. So, I can’t say how we can avoid repeating that particular tragedy. But I will say that, for me, it is important to have friends and family around that I love and trust and who love and trust me. And having a great therapist also helps.

KW: Children’s book author Irene Smalls asks: What is the next challenge you’re taking on in life and as an artist?
Kerry: Well, right now, I’m shooting a feature with Quentin Tarantino which is very challenging.

KW: Speaking of Django Unchained, Marcia Evans says: Continue making us proud, Sister Kerry. I can’t wait to see you in Quentin Tarantino's upcoming film. What can you tell us about the production at this point?
Kerry: Unfortunately, I’m not really at liberty to talk about it much. But I will say that it’s great to be working with Jamie again.

KW: Marcia also says: I loved you in Mother and Child and I enjoyed the cover story about you in the March issue of Essence Magazine in which you discuss your future acting projects. Do you have an interest in playing any heroic ancestors, such as Harriet Tubman?
Kerry: I do, eventually, although I haven’t settled on any specific people yet. There are so many untold stories when it comes to great women of color. Harriet Tubman’s definitely a shero, for sure. And I just heard that Regina King is doing Shirley Chisholm, perfect casting, which is another story that has to be told.

KW: What would be your dream role?
Kerry: Right now my dream role would be to have another season on Scandal, which will be debuting on ABC on April 5th, because that has just been a tremendously fulfilling experience, artistically, which I’d love to be able to continue. It’s been phenomenal to work with quality of writers I’ve been exposed to on that project.

KW: Marcia is wondering, whether you would consider organizing a legends luncheon, like Oprah did, so elders can share their life lessons with aspiring young sisters?
Kerry: I’m not sure that organizing such a function is my role in the community right now, but I’m always happy to participate when somebody else can. [Chuckles] If others weren’t already doing it, I might feel the need to fill the void. But, today, for example, I’ll be attending Essence Magazine’s fantastic “Women in Hollywood” event. I look forward to that every year. And Alfre Woodard hosts a big dinner every year during awards season. So, there are already a number of gatherings centered around women of color who are doing inspiring work.

KW: The Sanaa Lathan question: What excites you?
Kerry: Sunshine, swimming and home-cooked meals. I’m going to tell Sanaa you asked me her excellent question when I see her later today

KW: Can you come up with a good generic question I can use in future interviews? I’ll call it the Kerry Washington question.
Kerry: Oh, what fun! I love that! How about: If you were an animal, what animal would you be? [Laughs]

KW: That’s great. That’ll be the Kerry Washington question. Now, the Melissa Harris-Perry question: How did your first big heartbreak impact who you are as a person?
Kerry: Oh, I love Mel. She’s such a smart woman. I think my first big heartbreak made me more compassionate about other people’s heartaches. It enabled me to feel more for others when they are in moments of pain.

KW: The Judyth Piazza question: What key quality do you believe all successful people share?
Kerry: I really don’t know whether there is only one, actually. There are many different types of success, so, I don’t think the formula can be reduced to just one key quality.

KW: Let me finish with four questions from Pastor Alex Kendrick: When do you feel the most content?
Kerry: When I’m taking care of myself physically, emotionally and spiritually.

KW: What do you wish other people would note about you?
Kerry: Nothing. [LOL]

KW: What motivates you?
Kerry: Wanting to be of service. Not wanting to waste this life that I’ve been blessed to have.

KW: What defines who you are?
Kerry: Oh, that changes all the time.

KW: Well, thanks again for the time, Kerry, and best of luck with A Thousand Words and with the new TV show.
Kerry: It’s been nice speaking with you again, Kam.

2012 Academy Award Recap (FEATURE)

2012 Academy Awards Recap

The Artist Dominates Oscars
B&W Throwback Silences the Competition
by Kam Williams

The Artist, a black& white silent film evocative of a bygone era, won the hearts of the Academy Award voters, netting Oscars in the Best Picture, Director, Actor, Costume Design and Score categories. Hugo won five times, too, but only for technical achievemnts.
After The Artist’s Jean Dujardin beat George Clooney for Best Actor, the foul-mouthed Frenchman not only broke his silence, but tricked the censors by saying the F-word in his native language during his exuberant acceptance speech. Maybe there’s a reason why silent film is his medium.
Dujardin wasn’t the only winner to resort to expletives, so did T.J. Wilson (Undefeated), the first African-American director to earn an Oscar for a full-length documentary. It’s difficult to discern exactly what T.J. said, since he was bleeped a couple times for his indiscretion. Also crossing a line was presenter Jennifer Lopez, whose daring dress failed to cover all of one of her areolas. Could this have been a deliberate wardrobe malfunction by J. Lo to have the fashion talk of Tinseltown revolve around her revealing evening gown?
But I digress. As this critic correctly predicted, Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady) upset favorite Viola Davis (The Help) for Best Actress. Anybody else notice that naturally-coiffed Viola seemed to stand up as if to accept when Streep’s name was announced, as if she’d assumed she’d win?
Why did I forecast a Streep victory? My thinking was that the 94% white Academy would cast sentimental votes for her over a relative newcomer, especially since the perennial-nominee hadn’t won in 29 years. Plus, the members could easily avoid being labeled racist by simultaneously supporting Davis’ African-American cast mate Octavia Davis for Best Supporting Actress.
Replacement master of ceremonies Billy Crystal (for Eddie Murphy) did another excellent job, easily making everyone forget last year’s awkward attempts at comedy on the part of co-hosts James Franco and Anne Hathaway. This go-round, the nine-time emcee revived such trademarks of his tenure as an opening song-and-dance as well as an inspired spoof of the Best Picture nominees via a movie montage.

Complete List of Oscar Winners

Best Picture: The Artist
Best Director: Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Best Actress: Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
Best Actor: Jean Dujardin, The Artist
Best Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer, The Help
Best Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer, Beginners
Best Original Screenplay: Midnight in Paris, Woody Allen
Best Adapted Screenplay: The Descendants, Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash
Best Animated Feature Film: Rango
Best Foreign Language Film: A Separation (Iran)
Best Original Score: The Artist, Ludovic Bource
Best Original Song: "Man or Muppet" by Bret McKenzie, The Muppets
Best Documentary Feature: Undefeated
Best Film Editing: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Kirk Baxter & Angus Wall
Best Cinematography: Hugo, Richard Richardson
Best Visual Effects: Hugo, Rob Legato, Joss Williams, Ben Grossmann & Alex Henning
Best Sound Editing: Hugo, Philip Stockton & Eugene Gearty
Best Sound Mixing: Hugo, Tom Fleischman & John Midgley
Best Art Direction: Hugo, Dante Ferretti & Francesca Lo Schiavo
Best Costume Design: The Artist, Mark Bridges
Best Makeup: The Iron Lady, Mark Coulier & J. Roy Helland
Best Live-Action Short Film: The Shore
Best Documentary Short Film: Saving Face
Best Animated Short Film: The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Wanderlust (FILM REVIEW)

Film Review by Kam Williams

Conventional Couple Tries Hippie Commune in Fish-Out-of-Water Comedy

Happily-married Linda (Jennifer Aniston) and George (Paul Rudd) finally took the plunge into home ownership after being convinced by their realtor’s (Linda Lavin) sales pitch that a “micro loft” in the West Village would be a great investment. However, when the ambitious workaholic subsequently loses his high-paying, high-stress job, they are forced to sell the postage stamp-sized studio apartment at a big loss.
Unable to afford Manhattan any longer, they decide to take up George’s brother’s (Ken Marino) generous offer of a job and a place to live until they can get back on their feet. So, they pack up the car and start the long drive to Atlanta.
En route, they book a room for a night at what they think is merely a quaint, country bed and breakfast located off the beaten path. But they immediately get a hint that something strange is afoot at Elysium when they are greeted in the driveway by a naked guy (Joe Lo Truglio) who isn’t the slightest bit modest about it. Next, they learn that they have just checked into a free-love commune which considers monogamy tantamount to sexual slavery.
Linda is initially creeped-out by the cult while George finds himself a little intrigued by the alternate lifestyle. Nevertheless, she grudgingly agrees not only to move in but to have an open relationship to boot, in order to make her husband happy.
Then, lo and behold, Linda takes to the arrangement, too, and she soon seduces Seth (Justin Theroux), a hirsute hunk who serenades her with his guitar. George, on the other hand, has a harder time bringing himself to cheat on his wife with the attractive young blonde (Malin Akerman) propositioning him.
Can this marriage survive the infidelity and incessant temptation? That is the recurring question posed by Wanderlust, a fish-out-of-water comedy directed by David Wain (Wet Hot American Summer).
The picture was produced by Judd Apatow, whose string of coarse teensploitation flicks includes Bridesmaids, Knocked Up, Superbad, Pineapple Express and Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Seizing on the flimsiest of excuses for gratuitous full-frontal nude shots, Apatow again remains faithful to his shallow, stated mission to feature male genitalia prominently in every movie he makes. Thus, fans of that phallus philosophy will not be disappointed.
Of far more consequence is the conviction which Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd bring to their performances as the couple in crisis. They succeed in holding together an implausible storyline whose saving grace rests in all the cheap laughs coming courtesy of simplistic stereotypes about aging hippies, hallucinating addicts, bohemian bimbos, insatiable sexaholics and naïve New Agers. The talented leads are ably assisted in this endeavor by a gifted supporting cast stocked with versatile veterans like Alan Alda and Ray Liotta, as well as scene-stealing comediennes such as Kathryn Hahn and Kerri Kenney.
A humorous send-up of the 21st Century commune as a hedonistic dystopia for spoiled brats who can’t cope with the real world.

Very Good (3 stars)
Rated R for profanity, sexuality, drug use and graphic nudity.
Running time: 98 minutes
Distributor: Universal Pictures

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Myth of the American Sleepover (DVD REVIEW)

The Myth of the American Sleepover
DVD Review by Kam Williams

DVD Features Teens Acting Out in End of Summer Saga

There’s a thin line between making a Mumblecore and shooting a home movie, and in the case of The Myth of the American Sleepover it hard to discern exactly which you might be watching. Set in suburban Detroit, this aimless indulgence in teen angst strikes this critic as more improvised than scripted.
The character-cluttered coming-of-age adventure unfolds over the course of the last weekend of summer vacation, and features an ensemble cast of more adolescents than you probably care to keep track of. Introspective to a fault, each one has an urgent emotional agenda to address before the beginning of the new semester.
There’s Maggie (Claire Sloma), a rebellious, high school freshman with nose and lip rings. She’s already sneaking beer, and also about to start smoking and to jump the bones of Cameron (Stephen Francis), a cute upperclassman she meets at the pool while hanging out with her homely BFF, Beth (Annette DeNoyer).
Then we have creepy college man Scott (Brett Jacobsen). He tries to talk a pair of considerably-younger, identical twins, Anna (Jade Ramsey) and Abbey (Nikita Ramsey), into a ménage-a-trois after being dumped by his girlfriend. Meanwhile, over at a girls’ slumber party, we find transfer student Claudia (Amanda Bauer), a newcomer to town, getting caught kissing the hostess’ boyfriend in the basement. And Rob (Marlon Morton), a cool dude in a loose mood, sets off on a relentless search for the blonde he spotted across the aisle in the supermarket.
While I’m willing to give this ambitiously-plotted production an A for effort, I still can’t pardon the fact that its storylines uniformly prove so eerily uneventful. For, despite the fact that all the kids appear desperate to make the most of their last hours of freedom prior to returning to the classroom, precious little of consequence ultimately transpires.
I thought movies were supposed to be like real life except with all the boring parts edited out? This flick looks more like the reverse. A talky, tortoise-paced teensploit which teases far more than it titillates.

Fair (1 star)
Running time: 96 minutes
Studio: MPI Home Video
DVD Extras: Trailers.

Top Ten DVD Releases for 2-28-12

This Week’s DVD Releases
by Kam Williams

Headline: Top Ten DVD List for February 28th


Miss Bala

Enemies of the People

Nova: Mystery of a Masterpiece

Midsomer Murders - Set 19

Nickelodeon Favorites: Dance to the Music

The Myth of the American Sleepover

Johnny English Reborn

Kink Crusaders

Answers to Nothing

Good Deeds (FILM REVIEW)

Good Deeds
Film Review by Kam Williams

Tyler Perry Morality Play Finds Groom-to-be Torn between Shallow Fiancée and Homeless Widow

Wesley Deeds (Tyler Perry) has it all, or so it seems, between serving as CEO of a thriving computer software company and his impending marriage to a successful, if shallow, San Francisco realtor (Gabrielle Union). The dedicated, driven executive was handpicked by his mother (Phylicia Rashad) over his hot-headed brother, Walter (Brian White), to replace their late father to run Deeds Corporation.
But because Wesley has spent most of his life trying to satisfy the wishes of the domineering family matriarch, he might be getting married in a few months more to please her than himself. Even his already-jaded fiancée, Natalie, finds her Momma’s Boy a tad too boring and predictable, despite his being a great catch.
Then, while the couple is in the midst of putting the final touches on their elaborate wedding plans, a fly lands in the nuptial ointment in the person of a most-unlikely other woman. Lindsey Wakefield (Thandie Newton) is a struggling, single-mom living in a car with her 6 year-old daughter, Ariel (Jordenn Thompson).
She fell on hard times after her husband was killed in Iraq, when she had to drop out of nursing school and find a job. And the only reason the homeless woman and wealthy Wesley happen to cross paths is because she’s the night janitor in his office building.
The gruff, ghetto girl initially rubs her relatively-refined boss the wrong way. After all, she is definitely a little rough around the edges, and just not the class of female Wesley’s accustomed to associating with.
However, the tension between the two starts to dissolve the night she offers to give him a back massage while he’s burning the midnight oil at work. And upon hearing all the details of her pitiful plight, Wesley altruistically offers Lindsey and little Ariel a free apartment to crash in indefinitely.
Will this gallant knight-in-shining-armor develop deeper feelings for the grimy damsel-in-distress who subsequently cleans up so nicely, literally and figuratively? If so, will he be able to summon up the gumption to break off his engagement, given the little matter of his fast-approaching wedding day?
That difficult dilemma is the raison d’etre of Good Deeds, the latest modern morality play written by, directed by and starring Tyler Perry. Avoiding his usual staples of comic relief courtesy of Madea and clownish support characters, Perry presents this sober soap opera in straightforward fashion.
Consequently, in the absence of those typical distractions, the plot is not only perfectly plausible but remains refreshingly grounded in reality from start to finish. Along the way, veteran lead actors, Tyler, Thandie Newton and Gabrielle Union, generate a convincing chemistry guaranteed to keep you on edge right up to the surprising resolution of the unfortunate love triangle.
Another compelling Tyler Perry parable delivering a priceless message about what really matters most.

Excellent (4 stars)
Rated PG-13 for sexuality, violence, profanity and mature themes.
Running time: 129 minutes
Distributor: Lionsgate Films

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Mighty Macs (DVD REVIEW)

The Mighty Macs
DVD Review by Kam Williams

True Tale of Female Empowerment Released on DVD

When Cathy Rush (Carla Gugino) was hired to coach basketball at tiny Immaculata College back in the early Seventies, athletics were a low priority at the all-female, Catholic institution. It didn’t even have a functional gym, so the team had to host its home games at a nearby high school.
Initially, the new coach didn’t get any sympathy from the administration about the inconvenience, since the college was dealing with some serious financial problems. Furthermore, the Mother Superior (Ellen Burstyn) only valued sports as a way of suppressing the girls’ raging hormones.
But Rush was never discouraged by the lack of support or by the disadvantage of having a student body of fewer than 500. So, joined on the bench by dedicated assistant, Sister Sunday (Marley Shelton), she proceeded to forge a competitive squad, placing an emphasis on teamwork and sound fundamentals. And by the end of the 1972 season, little-known Immaculata had blossomed into a respected powerhouse in contention for the national title.
That unlikely assault on the championship is the subject of The Mighty Macs, an overcoming-the-odds sports flick reminiscent of such basketball classics as Hoosiers, Glory Road and Coach Carter. This similarly-themed adventure chronicles the miracle season of a motley crew of underdogs inspired to overachieve with the help of a devoted, no-nonsense coach.
What makes this hoops saga unique is the fact that its hero is a female at a pivotal moment in the emergence of women’s intercollegiate athletics. In 2008, the real-life Cathy Rush was rightfully recognized as a pioneer for her pivotal contributions by being inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.
A touching, tale of female empowerment serving as a worthwhile reminder that girls weren’t always encouraged to play sports.

Very Good (3 stars)
Rated G
Running time: 100 Minutes
Studio: Sony Pictures Home entertainment
DVD Extras: Deleted scenes; The Making of The Mighty Macs; and The Mighty Macs ESPN segment.

Kam's Movies Kapsules for 3-2-12

Kam's Kapsules:
Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun
by Kam Williams
For movies opening March 2, 2012


The Lorax (PG for mild epithets) Danny DeVito stars as the title character in this animated adaptation of the Dr. Seuss classic about an idealistic 12 year-old (Zac Efron), raised in an artificial reality, who searches for a real tree in order to impress the girl of his dreams (Taylor Swift). Voice cast includes Betty White, Ed Helms and Rob Riggie.

Project X (R for nudity, drug and alcohol abuse, mayhem, recklessness and pervasive profanity, sexuality, and crude humor) Raunchy teensploit revolving around three high school seniors (Thomas Mann, Oliver Cooper and Jonathan Daniel Brown) who throw a wild house party that spirals totally out of control. With Alexis Knapp, Kirby Bliss Blanton and Dax Flame.


Art Is… The Permanent Revolution (Unrated) Agitprop documentary examining how printmakers, including Rembrandt, Goya and Picasso, have influenced the political landscape over the ages via graphic depictions of the human condition.

Being Flynn (R sexuality, drug use, pervasive profanity and brief nudity) Robert De Niro and Paul Dano co-star in this dysfunctional family dramedy about a young man mourning the loss of his mother (Julianne Moore) who is surprised to find his long-lost father living in a homeless center. With Olivia Thirlby, Lili Taylor and Dale Dickey.

Black Butterflies (Unrated) bittersweet biopic, set in South Africa in the Sixties, recounting the ill-fated arc of a defiant, anti-Apartheid poet (Carice van Houten) who found herself at odds with her father (Rutger Hauer) serving as the racist regime’s Minister of Censorship. Supporting cast includes Liam Cunningham, Grant Swanby and Graham Clarke.

Boy (Unrated) Coming-of-age drama, set in New Zealand in 1984, about an 11 year-old Michael Jackson fan (James Rolleston) who belatedly bonds with his absentee father (Taika Waititi) when the Prodigal hoodlum returns to town to unearth a buried treasure. With Moerangi Tihore, Cherilee Martin and Haze Reweti.

Heist: Who Stole the American Dream? (Unrated) The haves vs. the have-nots documentary chronicling the carefully-orchestrated dismantling of the U.S. middle-class by the corporatocracy with the help of politicians and lobbyists.

Let the Bullets Fly (Unrated) Action comedy, set in China in the Twenties, about a notorious crime boss (Wen Jiang) who poses as the newly-appointed mayor of a provincial town until he meets his match in a local mobster (Chow Yun-Fat). With Carina Lau, Kun Chen and You Ge. (In Mandarin and Cantonese with subtitles)

Patriocracy (Unrated) Middle-of-the-road documentary issuing an urgent call for reason in this age of political polarization. Featuring appearances by Eleanor Clift, Pat Buchanan and Tennessee Congressman Jim Cooper.

The Salt of Life (Unrated) Midlife crisis comedy about an aging guy (Gianni Di Gregorio) neglected by his wife (Elisabetta Piccolomini) who decides to find out whether he’s still attractive by flirting with neighborhood ladies. With Valeria De Franciscis, Alfonso Santagata and Valeria Cavalli. (In Italian with subtitles)

The Snowtown Murders (Unrated) Fact-based crime thriller, set in 1999, about an impressionable 16 year-old (Lucas Pittaway) who is recruited by his mother’s (Louise Harvey) vigilante boyfriend (Daniel Henshall) to participate in a grisly killing spree around Adelaide, Australia. Cast includes Bob Adriaens, Matthew Howard and Anthony Groves.

Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie (R for crude humor, graphic nudity, drug use, slapstick violence, and pervasive profanity and sexuality) Coarse comedy about a couple of guys (Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim) indebted to mobsters who try to revitalize a bankrupt mall as a way of repaying the loan they lost investing in a film that failed. With John C. Reilly, Will Ferrell and Mark Cuban.

The Woods (Unrated) Back-to-nature comedy about a bunch of young bohemians who retreat to the wilds of the Pacific Northwest with hopes of creating a utopian society. Cast includes Toby David, Justin Phillips and Nicola Persky.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


The Fairy
Film Review by Kam Williams
Night Watchman Belatedly Falls for Fairy in Ethereal Escapist Fantasy

Every now and then, a cinematic masterpiece comes along that’s impossible to pigeonhole. Case in point, The Fairy, a genre-blending adventure that’s part romantic romp, part escapist fantasy, part slapstick comedy, and part song-and-dance musical.
At the picture’s point of departure, we find hotel clerk Dom (Dominique Abel) being drenched by a driving rain as he rides his unreliable bicycle to work. After arriving late, he changes into dry clothes and fixes himself something to eat before checking in a couple of eccentric guests at the desk.
The first, a foreigner (Philippe Martz), is hiding a dog in his suitcase, since pets aren’t allowed on the premises. The second, an attractive woman without any luggage (Tilda Swinton look-a-like Fiona Gordon), claims to be a fairy and offers Dom three wishes.
He’s so skeptical that he initially ignores the generous overture, only to watch her magically ride a broken elevator up to her room. His curiosity is finally piqued later that evening, after Fiona miraculously reappears to perform a life-saving, Heimlich maneuver when he’s choking on a sandwich.
Suddenly a believer, Dom then asks for a motor scooter to replace his rickety bike and for free gasoline. He awakens to find his first wish granted, but the mysterious Fiona has also vanished into thin air, leaving behind only the cryptic message “Meet Me at the Love Is Blurred” scrawled in lipstick on a mirror.
And the relentless search is on!
So unfolds The Fairy, the latest collaboration courtesy of the writing/directing/acting triumvirate of Dominique Abel, Fiona Gordon and Bruno Romy (The Iceberg). This go-round, the talented tandem has spun a thoroughly-entertaining, latter-day fable for the young at heart that’s every bit as silly and surreal as it is cerebral and sophisticated.
Far be it from this critic to spoil this delightful tour de force’s totally unpredictable goings-on any further. Suffice to say that the flick is a thoroughly-engaging treat undoubtedly best appreciated by folks unaware of what might be coming next.

Excellent (4 stars)
In French with subtitles.
Running time: 94 minutes
Distributor: Kino Lorber Films

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Making Bold Moves (BOOK REVIEW

Making Bold Moves:
Creating Multimillion Dollar Success in 500 Days or Less
by Williams S. Parrish, Jr.
Foreword by Derek T. Dingle
MBM Publishing
Paperback, $19.99
162 pages
ISBN: 978-0-9839068-0-3

Book Review by Kam Williams

“In building NobleStrategy, [Bill Parrish] not only built a force in the construction management industry, he built one of the few black-owned companies that have become a leader in the $90 billion-dollar green economy—one of the sectors that President Obama has encouraged companies, large and small, to enter in order to out-innovate and out-compete the rest of the world…
The lessons you can learn in this book come at an apt time. As the black jobless rate stands at 16%, legions of African-Americans will have to embrace entrepreneurship as a means of finding employment and wealth-building opportunities… I encourage you to open the pages of this book… if you want to gain insight into the lives of entrepreneurs and what it truly takes to succeed.”
-- Excerpted from the Foreword Introduction (pgs. ix-x)

Despite the recent economic recession, William Parrish managed to turn his start-up company, NobleStrategy, into a multimillion-dollar construction management firm. He did so, in part, by securing government contracts to take advantage of the rapidly-growing green industry.
When it comes to environment-oriented corporations, it seems all we ever read about in the press are the colossal, taxpayer-subsidized failures such as Solyndra and Ener1. But this burgeoning field has its share of success stories, too. And as long as eco-friendly President Obama’s in office, any ambitious entrepreneur ought to consider approaching the feds for a share of the money earmarked for energy-efficiency programs.
If you want to follow in Mr. Parrish’s footsteps you might want to follow the lesson plan he outlines in “Making Bold Moves: Creating Multimillion Dollar Success in 500 Days or Less,” a combination how-to handbook and personal memoir designed with the self-starter in mind. He advises the reader to “research, cross-train and become certified in emerging technologies,” out of a conviction that the Sustainability Revolution will have as great an impact on reshaping the way we live and conduct business as the Industrial Revolution had on society back in the 18th and 19th Centuries.
Distilling his innovative ideas down into one-sentence affirmations and slogans, the author closes each chapter with succinct summaries of what you’ve just learned, whether exhorting you to “Think big from the start!” or to “Be prepared to take risks and make bold moves!” I certainly consider his general info and insights to be of value, provided you have the requisite education and sophistication to put you in a position to take advantage of these extraordinary opportunities.
A practical primer pointing the highly-motivated in the right direction to the road to riches via self-employment.


J. Edgar
DVD Review by Kam Williams
Out-of-the-Closet Biopic Arrives on DVD

J. Edgar Hoover (Leonardo DiCaprio) served as director of the FBI from 1935 until his death in 1972. Over the course of that tenure, the legendary G-Man singlehandedly built the agency into an intimidating espionage and crime-fighting operation feared by gangsters and law-abiding citizens alike.
For, as his powers and spheres of influence expanded, he began directing his agents to spy not only on crooks and racketeers but on anyone he considered un-American, such as members of civil rights and anti-war organizations. And armed with the fruit of a variety of arguably unconstitutional surveillance techniques, he proceeded to stockpile a mammoth database of personal dirt to employ for purposes of blackmail, embarrassment and the leveling of veiled threats.
But while he had no problem uncovering other people’s skeletons, Hoover apparently went to great lengths to hide his own clandestine relationship with his constant companion of over 40 years, his Deputy Director, Clyde Tolson (Armie Hammer). Successfully suppressing the occasional rumors that they might be lovers, the couple was only outed posthumously by New York City socialite Susan Rosenstiel.
Directed by Clint Eastwood, J. Edgar is a deliberately-paced biopic which gradually finds support for the basic contention that Hoover was, indeed, a sexually-repressed drag queen. The picture blames his latent tendencies on an overbearing mother (Dame Judi Dench) who’d cruelly discouraged him as a youngster from exploring his curiosity about cross-dressing by issuing dire warnings like, “I’d rather have a dead son than a daffodil for a son.”
This overambitious flashback flick unfolds against the backdrop of some of the FBI’s most-celebrated cases, from the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby to the bloody showdown with mobster John Dillinger to the monitoring of the movements of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. However, of far more consequence here than any of these touchstones in Hoover’s career is the shadowy specter of him and his life mate secretly sharing stolen moments, whether holding hands in the back of a limo, whispering sweet nothings in each other’s ears, or enjoying makeup sex after a heated argument.
An out-of-the-closet biopic knocking another controversial icon off his pedestal.

Very Good (3 stars)
Rated R for brief profanity.
Running time: 137 minutes
Distributor: Warner Home Video
2-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack Extras: “J. Edgar: The Most Powerful Man in the World” and “J. Edgar: A Complicated Man” featurettes.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Tower Heist (DVD REVIEW)

Tower Heist
DVD Review by Kam Williams

Eddie Murphy- Ben Stiller Buddy Comedy Comes to DVD

By the time Wall Street titan Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda) was charged with running a billion-dollar Ponzi scheme, it was already too late for the authorities to find the fortune that he had ostensibly hidden in offshore accounts. As a condition of being released on bail before trial, he was ordered kept under house arrest in his luxury penthouse at The Tower, an exclusive high-rise located on Central Park West.
While this development might have prevented the arrogant embezzler from becoming a fugitive of justice, it simultaneously left him surrounded by some of those he’d swindled. For, not only had he stolen from the wealthy, but he had also talked the staff at The Tower into trusting him with all the assets in their pension fund.
Consequently, the callous con man’s victims include building manager Josh (Ben Stiller), Lester the doorman (Stephen Henderson), Enrique the bellhop (Michael Pena), Odessa the housekeeper (Gabourey Sidibe), Charlie the concierge (Casey Affleck) and bankrupt, fellow resident Mr. Fitzhugh (Matthew Broderick).
Reluctant to let Shaw walk away with their money, the group hatches a plan to take the law into its own hands, since they suspect that the remorseless embezzler has stashed about $20 million in cash somewhere in his condo. So, Josh asks a motor-mouthed petty thief (Eddie Murphy) to join the conspiracy, for help robbing the apartment right under the nose of the accused who’s restricted to the premises, 24-7.
This is the promising premise of Tower Heist, the latest buddy comedy directed by Brett Ratner. While the teaming of Eddie Murphy and Ben Stiller doesn’t come close to matching the inspired, screen chemistry of Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan in Ratner’s Rush Hour trilogy, the talented twosome nevertheless manage to generate enough laughs, with the help of a colorful support cast, to make you forgive the fact that the crime caper grows increasingly improbable the further the film unfolds.
A funny, if farfetched, revenge fantasy for folks bilked by the likes of Bernie Madoff.

Excellent (3.5 stars)
Rated PG-13 for profanity and sexuality.
Running time: 105 Minutes
Studio: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
2-Disc Special Edition Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack Extras: Digital copy;
2 alternate endings; deleted scenes; alternate scenes; gag reel; Plotting Tower Heist; feature commentary with director Brett Ratner, editor Mark Helfrich and co-writers Ted Griffin and Jeff Nathanson; Tower Heist Video Diary; U-Control; pocket BLU App; and more.

Gabrielle Union (INTERVIEW)

Gabrielle Union
The “Good Deeds” Interview
with Kam Williams

Gabrielle’s Got It Going On!

One of today’s hottest stars, Gabrielle Union continues to shine. She will soon be seen in Screen Gems’ “Think Like a Man,” based on Steve Harvey’s book “Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man,” which is slated for release on March 9th, 2012.
Gabrielle’s impressive film credits include the critically-acclaimed “Cadillac Records,” “The Perfect Holiday,” “Tyler Perry’s Daddy’s Little Girls,” ” “Bad Boys II,” “Breakin’ All the Rules,” “ Deliver Us From Eva,” “Bring It On,” “Two Can Play That Game,” “Love & Basketball,” “Cradle to the Grave,” “Ten Things I Hate About You,” “The Brothers,” “The Honeymooners,” “Meet Dave” and “She’s All That.”
She made her television debut on the hit sitcom “Moesha,” before going on to guest-star on such series as “ER,” “Dave’s World” and “The Steve Harvey Show.” Shortly thereafter, Gabrielle had a recurring role on two WB hit shows, “Sister, Sister” and “7th Heaven.”
And she stirred things up on “Friends” where she played a love interest to both ‘Joey’ (Matt LeBlanc) and ‘Ross’ (David Schwimmer). In that role, Gabrielle marked the first African-American love interest on the series.
Gabrielle’s passion for acting is rivaled by her involvement as an Ambassador for the Susan G. Komen Foundation as well as her support for the Young Survivor Coalition (YSC) and the Rape Treatment Center (RTC) at UCLA.
She also helped found a program called “A Step for Success” which helps to raise funds for the economically-challenged Kelso Elementary School located in Los Angeles. She currently serves as a brand ambassador for Neutrogena, and is featured in its national television and print campaigns.
A native of Omaha, Nebraska, Gabrielle currently resides in Los Angeles. Here, she talks about her new movie, Good Deeds, a romance drama where she co-stars opposite Tyler Perry and Thandie Newton.

Kam Williams: Hi Gabrielle. How have you been?
Gabrielle Union: I’m good! How are you doing, Kam?

KW: I’m fine, thanks. What interested you in collaborating with Tyler again and in playing Natalie in Good Deeds?
GU: Once I read the script, the biggest thing was that I loved how he didn’t make her a bitch. My character’s usually the villain in this sort of romantic drama. I was very happy that Tyler made her a normal person who has a great career, great friends and who comes from a great family. So, in this case, maybe the relationship’s just not working instead of my character’s being an evil shrew.

KW: It’s definitely a much more modulated film for Tyler, and less given to melodrama and the extremes.
GU: I would agree.

KW: How was it working with this cast?
GU: Phylicia [Rashad] is an icon, and amazing. Just being able to watch her work up close is like taking a master class in acting. Thandie was great, and having Beverly Johnson play my mother was huge, and a nice ego boost. The whole experience felt like being in a big, happy, well-functioning family.

KW: Harriet Pakula Teweles says: Good Deeds is a film about a “defining moment.” Has there been such a moment in your life or career you’d like to share?
GU: In my life, when I got divorced. I sort of realized that I hadn’t been making sound choices which were the best for me to pursue my hopes and dreams and aspirations and passions. I had been living the life that society tends to dictate for women of a certain age. You marry the person who asks you, even though he may or may not be the best one for you. Around the time that I got divorced, I had an epiphany that there is no blue ribbon or gold medal for living someone else’s life, for fulfilling someone else’s dreams. It’s doesn’t make you happy. You just end up with a life that’s not yours. So, I decided to follow my dreams and my passions and to always have an adventure, no matter what it is.

KW: Life is a daring adventure, or it is nothing.
GU: Exactly! At least it should be.

KW: Is there any question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would?
GU: [Laughs] No. It’s usually when I hear one, I think, “Gee, that’s something different!” I encourage people to ask whatever question you’re most interested in hearing the answer to.

KW: The Teri Emerson question: When was the last time you had a good laugh?
GU: Five minutes ago.

KW: What is your guiltiest pleasure?
GU: Twitter.

KW: The bookworm Troy Johnson question: What was the last book you read?
GU: It’s called “Singleholic.”

KW: The music maven Heather Covington question: What’s the last song you listened to?
GU: “Groove Me,” by Guy.

KW: What is your favorite dish to cook?
GU: Collard greens.

KW: The Uduak Oduok question: Who is your favorite clothes designer?
GU: Whoever’s giving out free stuff. [Laughs]

KW: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?
GU: My mom.

KW: How often do you get back to Nebraska to see her?
GU: Pretty often. I go back quite a bit, although I don’t announce my visits in order to protect our privacy.

KW: What’s it like to lose your anonymity? Can you go to the mall or a movie theater?
GU: I can go, but you go with the understanding that people are going to know who you are, and may or may not respect your privacy. The time when I most want privacy and my anonymity is to do things like buying tampons.

KW: If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would that be for?
GU: My wish for the world would be to end violence against women. My wish for myself would be for peace of mind.

KW: The Ling-Ju Yen question: What is your earliest childhood memory?
GU: Playing catch with my dad.

KW: Mike Pittman asks: Who was your best friend as a child?
GU: There were ten of us. We were called The Bash Crew.

KW: When did you realize that you had made it?
GU: I haven’t made it yet.

KW: The Flex Alexander question: How do you get through the tough times?
GU: I eat.

KW: The Judyth Piazza question: What key quality do you believe all successful people share?
GU: Great communication skills.

KW: The Sanaa Lathan question: What excites you?
GU: I’m going to see Sanaa tonight. I’ll let her know you asked me that. What excites me? A great sporting event.

KW: Dante Lee, author of “Black Business Secrets,” asks: What was the best business decision you ever made, and what was the worst?
GU: [LOL] My worst was co-signing on a car loan for someone who had an aversion to paying their bills. My best, probably, was taking the role of Muddy Waters’ wife in Cadillac Records.

KW: The Melissa Harris-Perry question How did your first big heartbreak impact who you are as a person?
GU: [LOL, then sighs] I think the impact is that you become a little hardened and you protect your heart a little more. You’re not as open, or so bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. I was only broken up with once. He just happened to go on to become famous. So, the story has lived on in infamy. Jason Kidd dumped me two weeks before the junior prom. You kind of hoped he’d go off and no one would ever hear of him again. But in this case, he went on to a Hall-of-Fame career in the NBA.

KW: Attorney Bernadette Beekman asks: What is your favorite charity?
GU: Gosh, I can’t pick a favorite. I’m a Susan G, Komen global ambassador. I speak on behalf of Planned Parenthood as well. I love UCLA’s Rape Crisis Center. Me and my girls have our own non-profit, called A Step for Success. I truly love them all.

KW: What has been the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome?
GU: Getting raped.

KW: I’m so sorry that happened to you. The Rudy Lewis question: Who’s at the top of your hero list?
GU: My mom.

KW: What advice do you have for anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps?
GU: Stay in school. You have the rest of your life to act.

KW: Do you ever feel pigeonholed or pressured to not change creatively?
GU: What’s interesting is that producers, directors and writers tend to typecast me in terms of whatever movie they’ve seen me in most recently.

KW: The Dr. Cornel West question: What price are you willing to pay for a cause that is bigger than your own self interest?
GU: I love his book, “Race Matters.”
I’ve lost a lot. I’ve lost money, and my reputation has taken a hit for taking the high road to protect my dignity, to protect children, and for other good causes. But I don’t think there’s ever too steep a price for doing the right thing.

KW: The Tavis Smiley question: How do you want to be remembered?
GU: As someone who was genuinely happy and who smiled a lot.

KW: Thanks for another great interview, Gabrielle, and best of luck with Good Deeds and Think Like a Man.
GU: Thanks, Kam.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Top Ten DVD List for 2-21-12

This Week’s DVD Releases
by Kam Williams

Top Ten DVD List for February 21st

Martha Marcy May Marlene

Slavery by Another Name

I Ain’t Scared of You: A Tribute to Bernie Mac

“That Show” with Joan Rivers [3-Disc Collector’s Set]

Puss in Boots

Tower Heist


Underdog – The Complete Series

J. Edgar


Honorable Mention

Mighty Macs

Borgia – Season One

Lawrence Welk Classic Episodes [Vol. 1-4]

Bad Actress

Track 29

Nurse Jackie – Season Three

Honey 2

Weeds – Season Seven

Oscar Predictions 2012 (FEATURE)

Oscar Predictions 2012

The Envelope Please:
Who Will Win, Who Deserves to Win, Who Was Snubbed
by Kam Williams

On May 16, 1929, the first Academy Awards were staged in Hollywood at the Hotel Roosevelt. Wings, a silent film, won the Oscar for Best Picture that night, a feat which would never be repeated, given the impending innovations in sound technology that ushered in the age of the talkies.
But, as they say, wait long enough, and everything comes back into style, and such is the case with The Artist, a nostalgic throwback that’s the prohibitive favorite to prevail at this year ceremony. Who’d a thunk that a black & white, silent flick from France would eclipse powerhouse productions by the likes of Spielberg and Scorcese.
However, the movie will meet some tough competition in the Best Actor category, where I’m picking popular George Clooney to eke out a victory over virtual unknown Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist’s pantomiming protagonist. I also see perennial-nominee Meryl Streep (17 times) squeaking by The Help’s equally-deserving Viola Davis for Best Actress, more for her 29-year drought than for her spot-on impersonation of Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady.
Supporting Actor is difficult handicap, too, since four of the entrants, Nick Nolte, Christopher Plummer, Max von Sydow and Kenneth Branagh, have each enjoyed multiple Oscar nominations, but never won. My gut tells me that Plummer gets the proverbial “body of work” vote. As far as supporting actress, Octavia Spencer will triumph, since nonpareil comic performances like Melissa McCarthy’s in Bridesmaids continue to be underappreciated by the Academy.
Besides peering into my crystal ball to forecast the winners, I have also indicated below which nominees in the major categories are actually the most deserving. And because so many great performances are invariably snubbed by the Academy, I also point out who has been overlooked entirely.
Overall, look for The Artist to garner five or six Oscars which, while not exactly a sweep, will still be better than next-best Hugo’s trio of statuettes in technical categories. The 84th Academy Awards will air live on ABC on Sunday, February 26th at 8 PM ET/5 PM PT, and will be hosted by Billy Crystal.

Best Picture

Will Win: The Artist
Deserves to Win: The Artist
Overlooked: Bridesmaids

Best Director

Will Win: Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist)
Deserves to Win: Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist)
Overlooked: David Fincher (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)

Best Actor

Will Win: George Clooney (The Descendants)
Deserves to Win: Jean Dujardin (The Artist)
Overlooked: Ryan Gosling (Drive)

Best Actress

Will Win: Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady)
Deserves to Win: Viola Davis (The Help)
Overlooked: Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids)

Best Supporting Actor

Will Win: Christopher Plummer (Beginners)
Deserves to Win: Max von Sydow (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy)
Overlooked: Albert Brooks (Drive)

Best Supporting Actress

Will Win: Octavia Spencer (The Help)
Deserves to Win: Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids)
Overlooked: Carey Mulligan (Drive)

Best Original Screenplay:

Will Win: Woody Allen (Midnight in Paris)
Deserves to Win: Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo (Bridesmaids)
Overlooked: Lars von Trier (Melancholia)

Best Adapted Screenplay:

Will Win: Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash (The Descendants)
Deserves to Win: Steve Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin and Stan Chervin (Moneyball)
Overlooked: Tate Tatlor and Kathryn Stockett (The Help)

Predictions for Secondary Categories

Animated Feature: Rango
Art Direction: Hugo
Foreign Language Film: A Separation
Cinematography: The Tree of Life
Costume Design: The Artist
Documentary Feature: Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory
Film Editing: The Artist
Makeup: The Iron Lady
Original Score: The Artist
Original Song: “Man or Muppet” (The Muppets)
Sound Editing: Hugo
Sound Mixing: Hugo
Visual Effects: Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Undefeated (FILM REVIEW)

Film Review by Kam Williams

Football Coach Finds Winning Formula in Oscar-Nominated Documentary

“You think football builds character. It does not. Football reveals character.” That mantra sums up the philosophy Bill Courtney relied upon in pep talks to turn around the football program at Manassas High located in inner-city Memphis. When he assumed the reins in 2004, the Tigers had never made the playoffs in its entire 100 year history, and hadn’t even won a single game in the previous 14 years.
Luckily, Coach Courtney followed a calling to try to make a difference in the lives of the underprivileged African-American kids on the team, so he offered his services to the school on a volunteer basis. And it wasn’t long before he began to understand precisely why the Tigers had such a long losing record, as members of his squad were soon being crippled by assorted afflictions visited upon unfortunate folks stuck in the ghetto.
First, his starting right guard and middle linebacker left school after being shot, while his center was unavailable because of being arrested. Then, he had to intervene when a couple of other players fought with each other right in front of him. That “career’s worth of crap” for an average coach all transpired At Manassas in just two weeks. Not one to be deterred easily, Courtney still stuck around for the long run and by 2009 had forged Manassas into a playoff-bound powerhouse to be reckoned with.
The team’s phenomenal achievement is the subject of Undefeated, an overcoming-the-odds documentary co-directed by T.J Martin and Dan Lindsay. Nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Documentary category, the film focuses primarily on the coach and on three youngsters whose fortunes he took a particular interest in: Chavis, Money and O.C.
We see that Chavis, a hot-headed junior being raised by a single-mom, has recently returned to school after spending 15 months in a juvenile penitentiary. Money, a gentle giant who lives with his grandmother, is applying himself both in the classroom and on the field with hopes of landing a scholarship as a ticket out of the ‘hood. Star senior O.C. has been blessed with size and great natural ability, yet poor grades might torpedo his chances of being accepted to college.
Although Coach Courtney’s tough love regimen looks at times like it might push a player or two over the edge, it ultimately proves to be just the right prescription to inspire the team to morph from perennial underdogs to gridiron greats. A compelling documentary chronicling not just football exploits but a few bona fide cases of quality character revealed.

Excellent (4 stars)
Running time: 113 minutes
Distributor: The Weinstein Company

Tiny Furniture (DVD REVIEW)

Tiny Furniture
DVD Review by Kam Williams

This Critic’s #1 Indy Flick of 2010 Finally Arrives on DVD

Aura (Lena Dunham) is a recent college grad (Lena Dunham) who’s depressed about being dumped by her boyfriend and by the realization that her degree in film appreciation is pretty much worthless. So, she reluctantly returns to New York City where she has to move back in with her mother (Laurie Simmons) and 17 year-old sister (Grace Dunham) in a trendy TriBeCa loft.
At the suggestion of her British best friend, Charlotte (Jemima Kirke), she takes a dead-end job as a hostess at a local eatery, a decision which predictably proves unsatisfactory. Worse, she starts looking for love in all the wrong places, exhibiting bad judgment by having unprotected sex with a promiscuous colleague (David Call) in a back alley and by not only dating a homeless guy (Alex Karpovsky) but letting the hobo move into the house without asking permission.
Written and directed by and starring Lena Durham, Tiny Furniture is a sometimes humorous but more often sobering meditation on what life might be like for many young adults trying to survive in the big city in the 21st Century. A year ago, this delightfully-fresh offering earned the #1 spot on my Top 100 list as the best indie flick of 2010.
Credit Ms. Dunham for taking a novel approach to casting, enlisting the services of her own mother and sister to play themselves plus a number of other non-professionals to make their acting debuts. The upshot is a scintillating slice of cinema verite that never feels very far removed from reality.
Dunham’s unorthodox ideas are not limited to the dramatis personae, but extend to the frank dialogue and graphic goings-on in this thoroughly unpredictable yet perfectly plausible romantic dramedy. And because the self-deprecating protagonist frequently presents herself in unflattering fashion, that vulnerability easily endears her with the audience, her considerable personal failings notwithstanding.
Sex and the City for the Millennial Generation!

Excellent (4 stars)
Running time: 99 Minutes
Distributor: The Criterion Collection
DVD Extras: New digital transfer; interview with director/star Lena Dunham; 4 short films by Dunham; “Creative Nonfiction,” Dunham’s 1st feature film; interview with writer/director Paul Schrader; theatrical trailer; and a booklet featuring an essay by critic Phillip Lopate.

Under the Boardwalk (DVD REVIEW)

Under the Boardwalk
DVD Review by Kam Williams

DVD Delineates History of Monopoly and Chronicles 2009 Championship

In 1935, Charles Darrow, an unemployed salesman from Philadelphia, got a patent on the board game Monopoly. It was ostensibly inspired by another one named The Landlord, which had been invented over three decades earlier by Lizzie Phillips, a Quaker, as a way of illustrating capitalism’s tendency to enrich property owners at the expense of impoverishing renters.
But Darrow’s version was more a celebration than an indictment of the economic system. It even introduced Rich Uncle Pennybags as its beloved mascot, an exuberant, tuxedoed character sporting a top hat, cane and handlebar mustache modeled on filthy-rich financier J.P. Morgan.
The rights to Monopoly were acquired by Parker Brothers which started mass producing the game. Soon thereafter, it caught fire among millions of the discouraged desperate to rekindle the American Dream as they struggled to survive the Great Depression. Its popularity has persisted uninterrupted over the intervening years to the point where it has been translated into dozens of languages and is presently being distributed in over a hundred countries around the world.
Furthermore, Monopoly today is as much a brand as it is a game, with its logo being licensed for use by McDonald’s, gambling casinos, lotteries and so forth. Meanwhile, it has also become a part of the nation’s very cultural fabric, as witnessed by the countless references to the game made in movies and on television shows.
All of the above is chronicled in Under the Boardwalk, an informative documentary directed by Kevin Tostado who disseminates some fascinating historical info while chronicling the goings-on at both the United States and World Monopoly Championships of 2009. Coming from all walks of life, the only thing the colorful entrants have in common is an obsession with playing the endlessly-entertaining board game which has captured their imaginations since childhood.
As for the key to winning, the participants seem to agree that despite the incredible amount of strategy necessary for a serious shot at the title, a lucky roll of the dice might ultimately decide the outcome. Advance token to Boardwalk!

Very Good (3 stars)
Rated G
Running time: 88 minutes
Distributor: Docurama Films
DVD Extras: Director’s commentary; 2009 World Championship final game; The Methods, Math & Myths of Monopoly; Narrator Zachary Levi outtake reel; extended scenes; and an interactive Monopoly quiz.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Kam's Movie Kapsules for 2-24-12

Kam's Kapsules:
Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun
by Kam Williams
For movies opening February 24, 2012


Act of Valor (R for torture, profanity and graphic violence) Action adventure about an elite team of Navy SEALS who embark on a top secret mission to rescue a kidnapped CIA Agent only to uncover an imminent terrorist plot against America. Starring Nestor Serrano, Roselyn Sanchez, Jason Cottle and Emilio Rivera.

Gone (PG-13 for violence, sexuality, drug references and brief profanity) Harrowing whodunit revolving around a terrified young woman (Amanda Seyfried) who becomes convinced that the same serial killer whose clutches she escaped a year ago has just abducted her suddenly-missing sister (Emily Wickersham). With Daniel Sunjata, Sebastian Stan and Wes Bentley.

Good Deeds (PG-13 for sexuality, violence, profanity and mature themes) Tyler Perry wrote, directed and stars in this modern morality play as an unfulfilled, corporate CEO who has second thoughts about marrying his shallow fiancée (Gabrielle Union) after befriending a struggling, single-mom (Thandie Newton) who works as a janitor in his company’s office building. With Phylicia Rashad, Rebecca Romijn, Brian White, Beverly Johnson and Jamie Kennedy.

Wanderlust (R for profanity, sexuality, drug use and graphic nudity) Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd co-star in this midlife crisis comedy about a married couple who move from Manhattan to a free love, hippie commune in the country after the husband loses his high-paying job. Cast includes Malin Akerman, Justin Theroux, Kathryn Hahn, Kerri Kenney, Linda Lavin and Alan Alda.


The Fairy (Unrated) Romantic fantasy about a hotel’s night watchman (Dominique Abel) who falls in love with the magical fairy (Fiona Gordon) who vanishes into thin air after granting him two of his three wishers. Supporting cast includes Philippe Martz, Bruno Romy and Vladimir Zongo. (In French with subtitles)

The Forgiveness of Blood (Unrated) Coming-of-age drama about a couple of carefree, teenaged siblings (Tristan Halilaj and Sindi Lacej) forced to mature and drop out of high school when a long-running blood feud with a neighboring clan is reignited over real estate rights. With Refet Abazi, Cun Lajci and Veton Osmani. (In Albanian with subtitles)

Neon Flesh (Unrated) “It’s hard out here for a pimp” comedy, set in Buenos Aires, about a 22 year-old ne’er-do-well (Mario Casas) who hopes to earn his prostitute mother’s (Macarena Gomez) respect by opening up a whorehouse with the help of a couple of streetwise buddies (Vincente Romero and Luciano Caceres). With Dario Grandinetti, Damaso Conde and Vanessa Oliveira. (In Spanish with subtitles)

Tomorrow, When the War Began (R for violence) Screen adaptation of John Marsden’s novel of the same name about seven Australian teenagers who band together to survive when they return from a weeklong camping trip in the bush to find the country invaded by a hostile nation. Starring Caitlin Stasey, Rachel Hurd-Wood, Lincoln Lewis, Deniz Akdeniz, Phoebe Tonkin, Chris Pang and Ashleigh Cummings.

To the Mountaintop (BOOK REVIEW)

To the Mountaintop:
My Journey through the Civil Rights Movement
by Charlayne Hunter-Gault
Roaring Brook Press
Hardcover, $22.99
208 pages, Illustrated
ISBN: 978-1-59643-605-3

Book Review by Kam Williams

“On January 20, 2009, 1.8 million people crowded onto the cold, hard grounds of the nation’s capitol in Washington, D.C. to witness the swearing in of the first black president of the United States of America… My husband, Ronald, and I had flown 16 hours from our home in Johannesburg, South Africa…
For me, it was the climax of an even longer journey, one that I had begun with thousands of others back in… the Civil Rights Movement. The inauguration was another milestone on the long walk to freedom from unjust laws and their consequences…
On the campaign trail in Selma, Alabama… Barack Obama [said], ‘I’m here because somebody marched for our freedom… I stand on the shoulders of giants.’
President Obama does indeed stand on the shoulders of giants—thousands of determined men, women and young people who blazed a trail for him, just as [they] stood on the shoulders of giants who… never accepted the denial of their full humanity.”
-- Excerpted from the Introduction (pgs. 1-5)

Charlayne Hunter-Gault is an accomplished reporter who, over the course of an enviable career, has won a couple of Emmys, a Peabody Award and been named the Journalist of the Year by the National Association of Black Journalists. While many might recognize her as a veteran television news correspondent from her stints at CNN, PBS and NPR or as a writer whose pieces have been published by the New Yorker and the New York Times, most folks are probably unaware of her critical contribution to the dismantling of the Jim Crow system of segregation during the Civil Rights Era.
In 1961, one of the bloodiest years in the integration movement, she and a classmate, the late Hamilton Holmes, became the first African-Americans admitted to the University of Georgia when the NAACP won a lawsuit filed on their behalf. A few days later, accompanied by their parents and attorney Vernon Jordan, the pair negotiated their way to the school’s registrar’s office through a menacing gauntlet of raucous whites shouting racial epithets.
Although the two new students had good reason for fear and trepidation about being left alone on a hostile campus in the heart of Klu Klux Klan country, they never let the intimidation get the better of them and went on to graduate from the college. To the Mountaintop: My Journey through the Civil Rights Movement is a moving memoir which eloquently recounts their historic achievement in glowing detail.
This fascinating autobiography covers a half-dozen pivotal years in Charlayne’s life, the period from 1959 to 1965. Besides intimately recounting her personal experiences during that difficult period, the author also covers what other activists were simultaneously doing elsewhere around the country in the quest for equality, whether participating in sit-ins, freedom rides or attending the March on Washington.
The book is written in a user-friendly style designed to engage readers 12 and over, and arrives illustrated by a cornucopia of iconic black-and-white photos and newspaper reprints. Kudos to Ms. Hunter-Gault for crafting such a poignant, very personal reminder of just how hard-fought was the struggle which ultimately led to the triumphant election of our first African-American president.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Top Ten DVD List for 2-14-12

This Week’s DVD Releases
by Kam Williams

Top Ten DVD List for February 14th

Tiny Furniture

All Quiet on the Western Front –Collector’s Series


Woody Allen: A Documentary

How to Die in Oregon

My Kingdom

Nude Nuns with Big Guns

Under the Boardwalk

Elite Squad

Dora the Explorer: Dora’s Easter Adventure

Honorable Mention

The Mortician

The Dead

Beavis and Butt-Head: Volume 4

Dragon Age: Redemption

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1

Tyler Perry (INTERVIEW)

Tyler Perry
The “Good Deeds” Interview
with Kam Williams

Good Deeds Indeed!

Tyler Perry’s inspirational journey from the hard streets of New Orleans to the heights of Hollywood's A-list is the stuff of American legend. Born into poverty and raised in a household scarred by abuse, Tyler fought from a young age to find the strength, faith and perseverance that would later form the foundations of his much-acclaimed plays, films, books and TV shows. It was a simple piece of advice from Oprah Winfrey that set Tyler's career in motion. Encouraged to keep a diary of his daily thoughts and experiences, he began writing a series of soul-searching letters to himself. The letters, full of pain and, in time, forgiveness, became a healing catharsis.
His writing inspired a musical, “I Know I've Been Changed,” and in 1992 Tyler gathered his life's savings and set off for Atlanta in hopes of staging it for sold out crowds. He spent all the money but the people never came, and Tyler once again came face to face with the poverty that had plagued his youth.
He spent months sleeping in seedy motels and his car but his faith - in God and, in turn, himself - only got stronger. He forged a powerful relationship with the church, and kept writing. In 1998, his perseverance paid off and a promoter booked “I Know I've Been Changed” for a limited run at a local church-turned-theatre. This time, the community came out in droves, and soon the musical moved to Atlanta's prestigious Fox Theatre. And Tyler Perry never looked back.
Thus began an incredible run of 13 plays in as many years, including “Woman Thou Art Loosed!,” a celebrated collaboration with the prominent Dallas pastor T.D. Jakes. In the year 2000, “I Can Do Bad All by Myself” marked the first appearance of the now-legendary Madea, a God-fearing, gun-toting, pot-smoking, loud-mouthed grandmother played by Perry himself.
Madea was such a resounding success, she soon spawned a series of plays – “Madea's Family Reunion” (2002), “Madea's Class Reunion” (2003), “Madea Goes To Jail” (2005) - and set the stage for Tyler's jump to the big screen. In early 2005, Tyler's first feature film, “Diary of a Mad Black Woman,” debuted at #1 nationwide.
His ensuing films, “Madea's Family Reunion,” “Daddy’s Little Girls,” “Why Did I Get Married,” “Meet The Browns,” “The Family That Preys,” “I Can Do Bad All by Myself,” and “Why Did I Get Married, Too?” have all met with both critical acclaim and commercial success, delighting audiences across America and around the world. 2006 saw the publication of Tyler's first book, “Don't Make A Black Woman Take Off Her Earrings: Madea's Uninhibited Commentaries On Life And Love,” which shot to the top of the New York Times nonfiction best-seller list and remained there for 8 weeks.
The following year, Tyler expanded his reach to television with the TBS series “House of Payne,” the highest-rated first-run syndicated cable show of all time. His next TV sitcom, “Meet the Browns,” was the second highest debut ever on cable - after “House of Payne.”
Not one to rest on his laurels, in the fall of 2008, Perry opened his 200,000 square-foot Studio in Atlanta, situated on more than 30 acres of real estate. The Studio consists of 5 sound stages, a post production facility, a pond, a back lot, a 400-seat theater, a private screening room, and designated areas for entertaining and hosting events.
But listen to Tyler and you'll hear a man who hasn't forgotten where he came from or the folks who helped him reach the showbiz mountaintop. He has donated generously to charities that focus on helping the homeless, such as Feeding America, Covenant House, Hosea Feed the Hungry, Project Adventure, and Perry Place - a 20-home community that he built for survivors of Hurricane Katrina.
In July 2009, Tyler sponsored a trip to Walt Disney World for 65 children after learning that a suburban swim club had turned them away because of the color of their skin. Tyler Perry has also built 2 churches and has donated generously to the NAACP. In January 2010, he pledged $1,000,000 via The Tyler Perry Foundation to help rebuild the lives of those affected by the recent earthquakes in Haiti.
Obviously, Tyler practices what he preaches, and what he preaches has endeared him to millions of fans drawn by that unique blend of spiritual hope and down-home humor that continues to shape his inspiring life story and extraordinary body of work. Here, he talks about his new film, Good Deeds, a relationship drama which he wrote, directed and stars in opposite an A-list cast which includes Thandie Newton, Gabrielle Union, Phylicia Rashad, Rebecca Romijn, Jamie Kennedy, Beverly Johnson and Brian White.

Kam Williams: Hi Tyler, thanks for the interview.
Tyler Perry: No worries.

KW: Do you care to comment about the passing of Whitney Houston?
TP: [Pauses to collect himself] Kam, I can’t… I’m actually just trying to find a way to get through the day today… [Hesitates] Nobody knows this, but I was very close to…[Chokes up] Sorry… I can’t… No offense to you, Kam.

KW: I understand completely. I have a lot of other questions for you from fans. Harriet Pakula Teweles says: Good Deeds is a unique film for you in that the story revolves around an issue in your character’s life. She was wondering how you came up with the idea for the story? She points out that this is a film about a “defining moment,” so she’s wondering whether it was inspired by such a moment in your life or career that you’d like to share?
TP: Yeah, for me, it was a question of just reflecting at 40 that I was very grateful that I had followed my own voice. So, that led me to my own path and I listened to outside influences. Good Deeds is a story about a guy who had always done what he was told to do but never what he wanted to do until his defining moment arrives when someone comes along who helps open his eyes. I’ve had a few of those moments in my own life like when during a job interview I was told, “You don’t complete anything. Your application isn’t even complete.” And right at that moment, I realized I had to become a finisher, and see every task through to completion.

KW: Harriet observed that there are a number of actors and actresses you’ve collaborated with several times in film and/or TV. Is there a Tyler Perry acting ensemble?
TP: I’d say I’m open to anybody. I’m very open to fresh talent, and I love the underdog, people who have been counted out, because they come in with a different type of hunger. For instance, nobody would give the members of the cast of House of Payne a shot on TV, period. Yet, here they are with already more episodes than any other sitcom in history except Leave It to Beaver. I’m all for the underdog, so I’d like to talk to anybody who shows up with that sort of thirst.

KW: Harriet also asks: How do you use music to advance the message, mood and momentum of the movie?
TP: Just as we do in life. There’s always a soundtrack playing in the background somewhere. Growing up, there was always music around, whether across the street, or on the next-door neighbor’s stereo. So, as in life, music is always around, and it helps to heighten any emotion. Music is amazing.

KW: Editor/legist Patricia Turnier asks: What message do you want people to take away from the film?
TP: Just that life is but a moment. Life is so precious, such a gift, and that you have to live for you. Live your own truth, live the life that God has put you and nobody else on this Earth to live and not what somebody might be telling you to live.

KW: Film student Jamaal Green says: There are so many of us who admire what you have created and achieved and would like to follow in your footsteps. In the spirit of helping the next generation of successful African-American artists do you have a mentoring program for aspiring young black filmmakers?
TP: Jamal, right now, we’re in the process of expanding the studio from 5 soundstages to 15. Once they’re done, there will be a 1200-seat theater where I intend to open up classes and courses, and even host an annual festival in Atlanta where folks can come and be inspired and encouraged and get some information about how to be in the business.

KW: Professor/director/author Hisani Dubose says: Since there are so few
African-Americans of your stature in entertainment, I know you must be inundated with requests from people wanting to get their projects off the ground. I know because at least 100 people have asked me if I've sent my scripts to you. How do you handle this pressure?
TP: Respectfully, because I know I can only do as much as I can do. I started a company called 34th Street Films just to filter and to look for fresh talent with new ideas. Although I have so many ideas of my own, I’m still very interested in helping to cultivate and encourage some promising new artists. But there are a lot of people and, unfortunately, a very small window.

KW: Kate Newell says: I'd love to know if you have been cloned! It's the only explanation I can come up with on how you’ve accomplished everything. And I really admire your ability to do it all on your own terms.
TP: [Chuckles] Kate, I haven’t been cloned, but I work very, very hard. I never stop, I’m always doing 3 or 4 things at once, and I have a great team of people who help me execute everything.

KW: Filmmaker Kevin Williams says: I consider you to be the best example of complete persistence and belief in one's self. I always try to remind myself of what you, J.K. Rowling, Sylvester Stallone and others went through when almost no one believed in them. Many of us struggle in the start of our career with self-doubt. How did you motivate yourself in your early days before others recognized your talent and saw your potential?
TP: I would always feed myself positivity, from the Church to prayer to Gospel music to the Bible. Even to this day, I turn to anything that teaches good, that teaches strength, and that you can make it. I swear to you that those kinds of thoughts come alive in your body and in anything you touch because your energy goes into everything you touch, everything you share and everything you speak. So, it’s most important that you surround yourself with positivity always, and have it in your mind at all times.

KW: Larry Greenberg says: Now that you have truly mastered the realms of theater, film and television, do you have any interest in getting into video games?
TP: Video games? That’s a pretty interesting question. If you’re just getting into video games at 42, that might be a little late. Maybe some of the young rappers will try that.

KW: Rene Harris says: I don’t have a question but I just want to thank you for avoiding the use of the N-word in your productions.
TP: Yeah, I think the only one that might have it was For Colored Girls. I avoid it because, again, it’s important to remain in the flow of positivity.

KW: Is there any question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would?
TP: No, people can be pretty thorough. [Chuckles]

KW: The Teri Emerson question: When was the last time you had a good laugh?
TP: Listen, I’m in desperate need of one right now [because of Whitney Houston’s passing]. I try to have a good one at least every other day.

KW: What is your guiltiest pleasure?
TP: Flying radio-controlled airplanes. Only God would give me a hobby where I’m looking up to the sky. It’s the only time where I am able to focus and concentrate on nothing but looking up. It’s a fascinating hobby.

KW: The bookworm Troy Johnson question: What was the last book you read?
TP: Gosh, I just started a novel called “Standing in the Scratch Line.”

KW: What is your favorite dish to cook?
TP: I don’t cook, so my favorite dish to prepare is something on the takeout menu.

KW: The Sanaa Lathan question: What excites you?
TP: What excites me? Had you asked me that question a few years ago, the answer would’ve rolled right off my tongue. Today, I think it’s moving and uplifting my audience. Having them get it and go with it. That excites me.

KW: The Uduak Oduok question: Who is your favorite clothes designer?
TP: I don’t think I have one in particular. As far as suits go, Tom Ford’s fit me very nicely.

KW: Dante Lee, author of "Black Business Secrets,” asks: What was the best business decision you ever made, and what was the worst?
TP: I was supposed to do a television show with Chuck Lorre, the producer of Two and a half Men. I felt extremely uncomfortable and walked away from the deal. That was the best decision I could have made. I haven’t had a worst business decision, because I believe all things work together for good.

KW: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?
TP: I see a guy who’s really content and happy about where he is.

KW: If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would that be for?
TP: Wow! One wish, would be for many more years with my mother.

KW: The Ling-Ju Yen question: What is your earliest childhood memory?
TP: Hugging my mother, and smelling her. I loved hugging her, She had the best smell.

KW: The Judyth Piazza question: What key quality do you believe all successful people share?
TP: If you’re black, you can’t just be ordinary. All successful black people are extraordinary. If you are tremendously successful, and you’re black, you are extraordinary, or you wouldn’t stand out in this world. So, I’d say all successful black people are extraordinary.

KW: Attorney Bernadette Beekman asks: What is your favorite charity?
TP: It varies. Right now I’m working with Charity Water. I’ve dug a lot of wells with them in Cambodia and Africa. Water is something we take for granted.

KW: The Flex Alexander question: How do you get through the tough times?
TP: Prayer. Lots of prayer.

KW: The Tavis Smiley question: How do you want to be remembered?
TP: Just as a guy who inspired, encouraged and made people laugh.

KW: Thanks again for the time, Tyler, and best of luck with Good Deeds. I loved the film.
TP: Thanks Kam, I appreciate it.