Thursday, May 31, 2012

Journey 2 (DVD REVIEW)

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island
DVD Review by Kam Williams

The Rock & Company Back for Worthy Sequel Set in South Pacific

            We were first introduced to Sean Anderson (Josh Hutcherson) about four years ago when he embarked on a very eventful “Journey to the Center of the Earth,” courtesy of Jules Verne. Now, although he’s matured from a wide-eyed adolescent into a handsome, headstrong teenager with raging hormones, the lustful lad remains game for another exciting adventure.
            At the point of departure of Journey 2, we find him decoding a cryptic distress signal being relayed via satellite from parts unknown. By locating the longitudinal and latitudinal coordinates, he determines that the S.O.S. is being broadcast from the middle of the South Pacific.
            Next, he convinces himself that the message must be coming from his long-lost grandfather, Alexander (Michael Caine), an intrepid explorer who disappeared in the same area. Only by cobbling together maps printed on the pages of three literary classics: Verne’s Mysterious Island, Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island and Jonathan Swifts’ Gulliver’s Travels, is Sean able to figure out that his grandpa might have discovered the Lost City of Atlantis.
            When Sean insists on immediately mounting a rescue mission, his mom (Kristin Davis) gives permission on the condition that he be accompanied by his hunky stepdad, Hank (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson). The two soon depart for the exotic island of Palau, where they hire a cowardly pilot (Luis Guzman) with a gorgeous daughter (Vanessa Hudgens) to fly them to an uncharted destination.
            En route, they encounter a severe hurricane which has skittish Gabato struggling to control the chopper while Sean and Kailani make eyes at each other. The helicopter ends up crashing on the shore of an upside-down land of enchantment where small animals are large and vice-versa.
            Hence, our heroes are as amused by a pride of miniature elephants as by enormous butterflies and bees big enough for a person to ride. Hopping aboard accommodating yellow jackets, the motley quartet proceeds to look for grandpa while simultaneously soaking in an array of visually-captivating sights ranging from ancient ruins to an active volcano which spews lava of pure gold.
            Seamlessly blending elements of all three aforementioned novels, Journey 2 is a thrill-a-minute roller coaster ride guaranteed to keep the tyke and ‘tweener demos on the edge of their seats. The kid-friendly fantasy is breathtaking and frenetically paced but not frightening, and it even has its share of hilarious moments of comic relief, plus a heartwarming message to boot.              
Excellent (4 stars)
Rated PG for action adventure and a mild epithet.
Running time: 94 minutes
Distributor: Warner Brothers Home Entertainment Group

Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack Extras: Interactive adventure; gag reel; and deleted scenes.

Safe House (DVD REVIEW)

Safe House
DVD Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Denzel and Reynolds’ Spy Thriller Released on DVD

            Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington) is a veteran CIA Agent who has been on the run since being suspected of selling military secrets to America’s enemies. By contrast, straitlaced Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds) is a newcomer to the Agency itching for action. Unfortunately, the latter’s been stationed in South Africa for months where he’s only had to maintain a backwater safe house that’s never been needed.
            Until now. The pair’s paths cross soon after Frost decides to come in from the proverbial cold in Cape Town because an army of assassins is closing in on him. The renegade spy surrenders at the U.S. Consulate and is left in Weston’s custody.
            However, all hell breaks loose right after a team of CIA interrogators arrives at the safe house, when the place unexpectedly comes under attack by a bunch of gun-toting, bloodthirsty mercenaries. Frost and West barely escape with their lives while all the other agents perish during the assault.
            With no idea why the supposedly-secure location had been compromised or whether there’s anybody whose word they can trust, the rookie and the rogue suddenly realize their survival depends on mutual cooperation. That is the intriguing point of departure of Safe House, a riveting, espionage thriller featuring non-stop action and an ever-escalating, high body count.
            The movie marks the English-language directorial debut of Sweden’s Daniel Espinosa, who must be credited for coaxing yet another vintage performance from two-time, Academy Award-winner Denzel Washington (for Glory and Training Day). In addition, he allowed romantic comedy regular Ryan Reynolds to prove himself capable of playing more the handsome hunk opposite the blonde-of-the-moment.
            The talented co-stars not only acquit themselves well in the convincingly-choreographed fight sequences, but their credible chemistry cultivated during downtime enables the audience to forgive the periodic holes in the picture’s Swiss cheese script. A pair of likable unlikely buddies you just love rooting for in a pyrotechnics-driven, political potboiler with more twists than a Chubby Checker concert.   
Excellent (4 stars)
Rated R for profanity and pervasive graphic violence.
In English, Afrikaans and Spanish with subtitles. 
Running time: 115 minutes
Distributor: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Pack Extras: Making Safe House; Hand-to-Hand Action; Building the Rooftop Chase; Inside the CIA; Behind the Action; Safe Harbor: Cape Town; Shooting the Safe House Attack; digital copy of the film; pocket Blu App; and BD-Live.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Kam's Movie Kapsules for 6-8-12

Kam's Kapsules:      
Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun         
by Kam Williams
For movies opening June 8, 2012


Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted (PG for mild action and rude humor) Latest adventure in the animated franchise finds the anthropomorphic menagerie joining the circus in Monte Carlo to evade capture by a mean, animal control officer (Frances McDormand). Voice cast includes Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, Sacha Baron Cohen, Jada Pinkett Smith, David Schwimmer and Cedric the Entertainer.

Prometheus (R for intense violence and brief profanity) Ridley Scott directed this sci-fi thriller, set in the late 21st Century, about a team of scientists whose research expedition to outer space turns into a desperate struggle for survival when they encounter a bloodthirsty race of aliens bent on exterminating all of humanity. Starring Charlize Theron, Idris Elba, Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender and Guy Perace.


Bel Ami (R for nudity, graphic sexuality and brief profanity) Romance drama, set in Paris in the 1890s, about an ambitious young politician (Robert Pattinson) who rises to power by seducing the city’s wealthiest and most-influential women. With Uma Thurman, Christina Ricci and Kristin Scott Thomas.

Corpo Celeste (Unrated) Coming-of-age drama about a 13 year-old (Yle Vianello) who resists the pressure to practice Catholicism when her family moves back to Italy after living in Switzerland for a decade. With Salvatore Cantalupo, Anita Caprioli and Paola Lavini. (In Italian with subtitles)

Dark Horse (Unrated) Todd Solondz directed this romance drama about the love which blossoms between a couple of dysfunctional adults still living with their parents, one (Jordan Gelber), a toy collector, the other (Selma Blair), a clinically-depressed, aspiring writer. Supporting cast includes Christopher Walken, Mia Farrow and Jusin Bartha.  

Knockdown (Unrated) Two-fisted tale of redemption about a disgraced boxer (Casey T. Evans), betrayed by a bookie, who moves from St. Louis to Bangkok where he secretly returns to the ring on the underground circuit until his past catches up with him when he’s recognized by a mysterious fight fan from his hometown. With Tom Arnold, Bai Ling, Alex Veadov and Nick Faltas.

Lola Versus (R for profanity, sexuality and drug use) Greta Gerwig stars in the title role of this romantic comedy about a jilted bride-to-be’s promiscuity in the wake of being dumped by her fiancĂ© (Joel Kinnaman) just three weeks before their wedding day. Cast includes Hamish Linklater, Zoe Lister-Jones, Debra Winger and Bill Pullman.

Patagonia Rising (Unrated) Eco-documentary chronicling the battle between conservationists and an insensitive, multi-national corporation planning to build five dams on free-flowing rivers in Chile’s pristine Patagonia region. (In English and Spanish with subtitles)

Paul Williams: Still Alive (PG-13 for drug references and brief profanity) Reverential biopic about the legendary singer/songwriter and talk show staple best known as the composer of a string of hits in the Seventies, including “We’ve Only Just Begun,” “Just an Old Fashioned Love Song” and “Rainy Days and Mondays.”

Peace, Love & Misunderstanding (R for drug use and sexual references)
Dysfunctional family dramedy about a tightly-wound, Manhattan attorney (Katherine Keener) in a failing marriage who takes her teenage kids (Nate Wolff and Elizabeth Olsen) upstate to Woodstock to meet their estranged grandmother (Jane Fonda) for the first time in their lives. With Kyle MacLachlan, Rosanna Arquette and Chace Crawford.     

Safety Not Guaranteed (R for profanity and sexual references) Sci-fi comedy about a magazine reporter (Aubrey Plaza) who, much to the chagrin of coworkers (Karan Soni and Jake M. Johnson) also covering the story, falls head over heels for the weirdo (Mark Duplass) looking for a companion to travel back in time with him. With Basil Harris, Jeff Garlin and Lauren Carlos.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

19 Years Old & 19 Men Later

19 Years Old & 19 Men Later
A Memoir
by Tenisha Gainey  
Piners Press
Paperback, $20.00
140 pages, Illustrated
ISBN: 978-0-578-05536-7
Book Review by Kam Williams

“I wrote this book as a guide for young women so that they won’t make the same mistakes I’ve made… I really needed someone to step in and show me that I could be so much more…
Because I have been in the bottom of the barrel… I thought to myself, ‘You can’t just sit around and do nothing when so many of your home girls are getting pregnant, chasing these no-good guys, and going down that same road you were headed.’
As I hear the latest statistics about young people—getting pregnant, contracting STDs and AIDS, losing their lives, going back to jail time and time again, and just living lives that were not meant for them—I know why they are there, because I have been in many of those places.
By the end of this book, I hope you will have learned the easy way what I learned the hard way. ”
-- Excerpted from the Introduction (pgs. 1-2)

            Although billed as a relationship advice book, this jaw-dropping memoir really reads more like the cautionary confessions of a wanton party girl gone wild who’s done it all and was lucky enough to live to tell the tale. Tenisha Gainey’s uncensored autobiography actually reminds me of the Jack Kerouac classic “On the Road,” between the relentless joy ride and the surreal, stream of consciousness writing style. 
            Yes, the author is ultimately Born Again by the end, but one can only wonder whether this belated convert to Christianity will be able to resist the temptation to revert to her hedonistic patterns. After all, Tenisha’s horrible taste in men and admitted weakness for alcohol (especially a mixed drink called The Incredible Hulk) led her to rack up a lot of road miles on her body before she had turned 20. That self-destructive path was marked by substance abuse, abortion, STDs, prostitution, rape, incarceration and involuntary commitment to a mental institution.
            A sucker for any guy with a flashy automobile, again and again the author made the worst dating choices imaginable. For example, she describes the night she impulsively agreed to be gangbanged in a motel by some middle-aged, white men on the way to a poker game who propositioned her at a traffic light. She even felt flattered by a pimp who told her she was pretty enough to add to his stable since she’d attract a lot of business.    
            The tragedy is how she’d squandered her considerable potential, flunking out of Fairleigh Dickinson University, after having been seduced by the lure of making easy money. But the thrill of giving lap dances in seedy strip clubs, sponging-off losers for fifty bucks a pop in the boom-boom room, and sleeping with old dudes oozing AIDS sores down in Florida wore off after awhile.
            Before you start pointing fingers, try walking a mile in Tenisha’s hot pants and high heels. Well, on second thought, maybe you should only think about it. She was clearly a victim of circumstances during her formative years, being born to a 16 year-old single-mom and an absentee career criminal who was always out on the street or behind bars.
            How do you think you’d fare in similar circumstances? Fortunately, Tenisha’s doing fine now (cross your fingers), and the sky’s the limit with God as her co-pilot. The icing on the cake will be when Oprah options her life story for an inspirational, overcoming-the-odds biopic.         

Monday, May 28, 2012

Nyambi Nyambi (INTERVIEW)


Nyambi Nyambi
The “Mike & Molly” Interview
with Kam Williams

Nyambi Dextrous

Versatile Shakespearean thespian and television comedy sensation Nyambi Nyambi stars on the television sitcom “Mike & Molly” airing Mondays at 9:30pm (8:30 Central) on CBS. The show’s title characters are played by Billy Gardell and Emmy Award-winner Melissa McCarthy as a working class couple from Chicago who met at an Overeaters Anonymous meeting. 
Nyambi handles the hilarious breakout role of “Samuel,” a Senegalese waiter working in a diner to whom dieting is a foreign concept. Earlier in his career, he shared the stage with Hollywood legend Al Pacino in productions of “The Merchant of Venice” and “The Winter’s Tale” for the New York City Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park.
As a member of both the LAByrinth Theater Company and the Classical Theater of Harlem, Nyambi’s other theater credits include the Broadway revival of August Wilson’s  “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone,” “The Tempest” opposite Mandy Patinkin for the Classic Stage Company, and “Coming Home.”
The Oklahoma native was born on April 26, 1979 to Nigerian parents but was raised in Houston and Dallas, Texas as well as in Fairfax, Virginia. He attended Bucknell University on a basketball scholarship, and subsequently earned his MFA from the Graduate Acting Program at NYU.
A self-proclaimed basketball junky, Nyambi collects vintage basketball jerseys and plays for charity alongside stars like Jamie Foxx, Dean Cain, Joel McHale, Adam Sandler and Zac Efron in Hollywood’s Entertainment League Productions. In addition, he enjoys donating his free time to coaching at teen camps.
A true film buff, Nyambi watched 365 movies in 365 days last year. Here, he talks about life and about what it’s like to be on “Mike & Molly.”

Kam Williams: Hi, Nyambi, thanks for the interview.
Nyambi Nyambi: No doubt. Let’s have fun.

KW: What interested you in Mike & Molly?
NN: What interested me in Mike & Molly was the hilarious script and the idea of playing a West African character that was the smartest guy in the room…and I was broke.

KW: Tell me a little about the show?
NN:  Mike & Molly is a show about two people in love and the work it takes to keep it that way.

KW: What would you say is the show’s message?
NN: The message of the show is that love is out there and, if you want the baggage it comes with, it’s yours.

KW: How would you describe your character, Samuel?
NN: Samuel is a dry-humored, highly-educated immigrant from Senegal, who speaks five languages, studies English Literature at The University of Illinois and is a waiter at Abe’s Hot Beef. Nothing gets past him. He's family.

KW: How did you prepare to play a Senegalese waiter?
NN: I ate in a lot of diners and spent some time in Senegal.
KW: Marilyn Marshall, who’s a fan of the show notes that Mike & Molly has one of the most racially-diverse casts on prime-time network TV. She asks: Who is responsible for that diversity?
NN: Hello, Marilyn. Mark Roberts, the creator of our show, and the writers have done an incredible job of creating and writing for these amazing actors.

KW: Marilyn is also wondering how has a series about two overweight people managed to become a hit in our weight-conscious society where most TV and movie stars are thin?
NN: The truth reigns supreme and the love that all of these characters share is what people ultimately connect to. They see themselves in these characters or in their dilemmas. Plus, the hearts of Billy Gardell and Melissa McCarthy are deeply genuine and infectious. It begins with their genius together.

KW: Finally, Marilyn asks: What are the similarities and differences between you and your character, Samuel?
NN: We both have a dry sense of humor and an appreciation for classic literature. Samuel is Senegalese and my family is Nigerian. I hope to one day speak five languages like Samuel. Right now, I know English, a lot of French, a little bit of Efik and a few words in Wolof.

KW: Were you surprised when Melissa McCarthy was nominated for an Oscar for Bridesmaids?
NN: [Cast member] Reno Wilson called it immediately after we saw the premiere of Bridesmaids and [cast member] Katy Mixon had a dream about it not too long after that. So, when it came time for the nominations, I wasn’t surprised. She was that good! Melissa McCarthy is a character acting genius.

KW: How did you develop an interest in acting while playing Division I basketball in college?
NN: I have always had an interest in acting for as long as I can remember. I just never called it acting. It was celebrating the nuance of the people I met. So I constantly was entertaining my family and friends with some character they knew – an uncle, an aunt, a cousin, a family friend or a character from a television show or film. When I was a college senior, I was a Business major and uncertain about my future. The dream was always professional basketball, which was fading with each dribble, and I just did not feel Wall Street or any other desk job was in the cards for me. I was at a loss. So I decided to do what I do when I want to be happy and that is play a character. There was a Martin Luther King gala at Bucknell University, so I offered to recite a speech I used to compete with in high school for the forensics club, the art of speechmaking forensics not CSI forensics. I sensed doubt in the coordinator of the event about my skills, because those who knew me from afar knew me as a quiet shy type. To have fun and prove the coordinator wrong, I decided to memorize the speech, study his cadence, his suits, his walk, the speeches behind the speech, his inspirations and never once did I call any of that acting or what an actor does. So, the night I performed the speech, something new was happening within me that was electrifying. For ten minutes I actually thought I was Martin Luther King and afterwards, Professor Glyne Griffiths who, along with me, I’m sure, wondered what I was going to do with my life, with joy, put a name to the very thing I loved to do, “Nyambi, you’re an actor.” And I haven’t looked back since.

KW: Why did you decide to get a Master’s in theater, and how did you come to pick NYU over the Yale Drama School?
NN: I got my Master’s in Acting from NYU because I wanted to explore the great roles in the great plays and be given the arena to fail triumphantly. My father so eloquently stated, “Well, in Nigeria we know Yale.” Choosing NYU was a heart decision. I wanted that playground of New York to draw characters from.

KW: I see that you’re a junior. Is Nyambi Nyambi both you and your dad’s real name? Did you ever wish you had two names?
NN: Yes, my father and I share the same name. Our names mean a lot in my family. I love my name because of the level of confusion it brings to people’s faces. I wonder sometimes what life would be like if my name were Clint or Wally.

KW: You watched a movie a day last year. What were a few of your favorites? What was the worst one you saw?
NN: A few of my favorites were Diner, Midnight in Paris, Citizen Kane, Unforgiven and Sounder. The worst, but still entertaining, was The Terror of Tiny Town.

KW: Is there any question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would?
NN: You are a superhero. What is your one super power and why?

KW: The Tasha Smith question: Are you ever afraid?
NN: I am always afraid, which I have decided to be a good thing, because I’m in the face of the very thing I need to conquer. And when I conquer that fear, it is the most awesome feeling.

KW: The Columbus Short question: Are you happy?
NN: Yes.

KW: The Teri Emerson question: When was the last time you had a good laugh?
NN: Today. Something gets me everyday.

KW: What is your guiltiest pleasure?
NN: Australian licorice.

KW: The bookworm Troy Johnson question: What was the last book you read?
NN: Richard Pryor’s autobiography, “Pryor Convictions.”

KW: The music maven Heather Covington question: What was the last song you listened to? 
NN: Isaac Hayes’ “Walk On By” from the Hot Buttered Soul album.

KW: What is your favorite dish to cook?
NN: Rice with stew.

KW: The Sanaa Lathan question: What excites you?
NN: Any art form from the soul excites me.

KW: The Uduak Oduok question: Who is your favorite clothes designer?
NN: Right now, John Varvatos.

KW: Dante Lee, author of "Black Business Secrets,” asks: What was the best business decision you ever made, and what was the worst?
NN: Best business decision I ever made was becoming an actor. Worst business decision I ever made was the belief that ignorance was bliss.

KW: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?
NN: Joy and promise…and a stain on the right corner of the glass.

KW: If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would that be for?
NN: For more wishes.

KW: The Ling-Ju Yen question: What is your earliest childhood memory?
NN: Running through a courtyard in Oklahoma being chased by a dog that eventually bites the back of my right leg.

KW: The Kerry Washington question: If you were an animal, what animal would you be?
NN: I would be a hyena disguised as a lion.

KW: The Pastor Alex Kendrick question: When do you feel the most content?
NN: When I am travelling.

KW: The Toure question: Who is the person who led you to become the person you are today?
NN: My parents and sisters as a unit led me to become the person I am today. All love.

KW: The Judyth Piazza question: What key quality do you believe all successful people share?
NN: The audacity to fail gloriously again and again.

KW: What advice do you have for anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps?
NN: Joy. Find it. Seek it, and hold on to it. It will get you through the pain.

KW: The Tavis Smiley question: How do you want to be remembered?
NN: He celebrated life and all of its flaws.

KW: Thanks again for the time, Nyambi, best of luck with the show.
NN: Thank you for having me, Kam.

Twitter: @NyambiNyambi

To see Nyambi being interviewed at the Emmys, visit:

Changing the Game (FILM REVIEW)

Changing the Game
Film Review by Kam Williams

Ambitious Ghetto Orphan Tested in All Ways in Sobering Coming-of-Age Saga 

Darrell Barnes (Sean Riggs) was dealt a horrible hand as a baby, having been abandoned by his mother after his father was shot dead on the rough streets of North Philly. At least he was lucky enough to be taken in by his paternal grandmother (Irma P. Hall), a Bible-quoting Christian who did her best to insulate the boy from the host of evils permeating their crime-infested neighborhood.

Heeding her admonition to trust in the Lord, Darrell stuck to the straight and narrow as a child. He did his best to keep out of trouble, excelling in school, where he cut a sharp contrast to his best friend, Dre (Dennis L.A. White), a clueless victim of social promotion allowed to slip through the academic cracks at an early age.  
So, it’s no surprise that juvenile delinquent Dre would eventually drop out to become a drug kingpin, and rationalize operating such a reprehensible enterprise by liberally quoting misanthropic lines from Machiavelli like, “Kill enemies before they kill you.” Meanwhile, Darrell did good and Grandma Barnes proud by gaining admission to the prestigious Wharton Business School.
In most coming-of-age sagas, the empathetic underdog’s making his way out of the ghetto would herald a proverbial “happily ever after” ending. But in the more nuanced and multilayered world of Changing the Game, entre to the Ivy League merely signals the start of a new set of challenges to be faced by this naive inner-city refugee.
After graduating, as warned by his wise, rapidly-expiring grandma, Darrell finds himself still tempted by the Devil and having to negotiate his way through a different gauntlet of wickedness. With both Jesus and Machiavelli’s teachings competing for control of his mind, he goes into business with a corrupt classmate (Brandon Ruckdashel) against his better judgment.
The tension builds as Darrell lets greed get the better of him to a point of no return where it’s gonna take a miracle for the ambitious brother to escape with his soul intact. Touching on a litany of timely themes, this modern morality play of Shakespearean proportions packs an emotional punch while sending a sobering message about what really matters most. 

Excellent (4 stars)
Rated R for sexuality, nudity, violence, ethnic slurs, drug use and pervasive profanity.
Running time: 103 minutes
Distributor: Barnholtz Entertainment

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Men in Black III (FILM REVIEW)

Men in Black III
Film Review by Kam Williams

Alien-Fighting Franchise Revived for Time-Travel Finale

            One sign that scriptwriters have run out of fresh ideas is when they lazily recycle the shopworn, time-travel theme in order to extend an expiring film series. This ill-advised approach has been employed over the years in service of such sorry sequels as The Three Stooges Meet Hercules (1962), Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971), Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986) and Beastmaster 2: Through the Portal of Time (1991), to name a few.
            Even Back to the Future III (1990) doubled-down on the dubious cinematic device when it had Michael J. Fox teleported back to the Wild, Wild West instead of to the Fifties like the earlier installments. Industry insiders use the Happy Days-inspired catchphrase “Jumping the Shark” to mark the moment a farfetched episode plunges a franchise headlong into an irreversible tailspin.      
            Fortunately, the relatively-captivating Men in Black III is more than just another, idea-bereft take-the-money-and-run rip-off. Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld (MIB & MIB II), the picture reunites Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones as alien-hunting Agents J and K, respectively.
            However, don’t expect to see much of Jones this go-round, since he only makes what really amounts to a couple of cameo appearances during the flick’s wraparound opening and closing sequences. Otherwise, Josh Brolin plays K for the balance of the story which unfolds in the summer of 1969.
            At the picture’s point of departure, we find a one-armed convict called Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement) sitting behind bars inside Lunar Max, a maximum security prison located on the Moon. The evil alien soon escapes with the help of his cake-bearing girlfriend (Nicole Scherzinger), his first visitor in over 40 years.
            Next, Agent J catches wind of the missing fugitive’s plans to venture backwards in time to exact a measure of revenge on Agent K for having shot off his limb. The vindictive Boris also intends to spearhead an intergalactic invasion of Earth by the Boglodites, a bloodthirsty race of his rogue relatives. Naturally, J decides to return to the past, too, to keep the world safe for humanity and to make sure his partner survives any attempted rewrite of history.
            Courtesy of some preposterous, pseudo-scientific mumbo-jumbo, J learns how to time travel and that he must accomplish all of the above and return to the present in less than 24 hours, before a breach in the temporal fracture closes. (What?) Anyhow, upon arriving on July 16, 1969, Agent J introduces himself to the 29 year-old incarnation of already-humorless Agent K, and does his darndest to loosen up that trademark, Type-A personality.     
            What ensues is an engaging enough mix of special effects-driven mirth and mayhem, with the tension being wound around the imperiled launch of Apollo 11 at Cape Canaveral. But since there’s never a doubt that Boris and the Boglodites are destined to be subdued, the true payoff arrives after the action subsides by way of an emotional revelation that it would be unfair to spoil.
            A fitting franchise finale featuring all the fixins for a satisfying sendoff!     

Very Good (3 stars)
Rated PG-13 for violence and suggestive content.
Running time: 103 minutes
Distributor: Columbia Pictures

Saturday, May 26, 2012

A Beautiful Soul (FILM REVIEW)

A Beautiful Soul
Film Review by Kam Williams

Shades of 'It's a Wonderful Life' Abound in Faith-Based Morality Play

            It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) is a much-beloved fable about a depressed businessman who decides not to commit suicide after an angel intervenes and shows him how much worse off the world would be without him. Shades of that Frank Capra classic abound in A Beautiful Soul, a faith-based variation on the theme, but in blackface.
            Directed by Jeffrey W. Byrd (King’s Ransom), this music-driven, hip-hop opera stars Dietrick Haddon as Andre “Dre” Stephens, a booty and bling-obsessed pop icon who has turned his back on the Lord. We witness his misbehavior firsthand when the shallow singing sensation only goes to church grudgingly, and then proceeds to insult the deacon (Jeris Poindexter) by trying to pick up female parishioners and by failing to encourage a promising young soloist (Trevor Jackson) in the choir.
            Such repugnant behavior invariably forecasts doom in your typical, transparent morality play that tends to telegraphs its punches. And in this case, the day of reckoning arrives when Dre is shot during an ambush of his entourage staged by a disgruntled bodyguard (Vincent Ward).  
            With his mortally-wounded best friend (Robert Ri’chard) slowly expiring, Dre is lucky to be left floating in a limbo somewhere between Heaven and Earth. While in that suspended state, the sinner’s technologically-advance Guardian Angel (Vanessa Bell Calloway) appears and helps him, via iPad, see the error of his ways.
            Dre simultaneously spends four months in a coma in the care of Angela (Lesley-Ann Brandt), a gorgeous groupie-turned-nurse-turned-soon to be-love interest. By the time he’s rehabilitated and fully revived, the world is waiting with baited breath to see whether their favorite bad boy will be Born Again or remain a materialistic misogynist.
            An inner-city tale of redemption which proves that miracles don’t only happen to orphans in the Midwest at Christmastime!

Very Good (3 stars)
Rated PG-13 for violence and sensuality.
Running time: 90 minutes
Distributor: Tyscot/Manhaddon Films and Mission Pictures International 


Film Review by Kam Williams

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Illustrated in Auto-Biopic
            Thirty years ago, Bud Clayman was an aspiring filmmaker with a promising future when he headed to Hollywood after graduating from college in Philadelphia. Unfortunately, his career was instead derailed by a breakdown brought on by a number of previously-undiagnosed mental illnesses.
            Turns out Bud was not only Bipolar, but suffering from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Depression and Asperger’s Syndrome. On the advice of his doctors, he put his lifelong dreams on hold to enter a therapeutic community for extended treatment.
            In a classic case of “Better late than never,” Mr. Clayman has finally recovered sufficiently to make an impressive, if delayed, directorial debut with himself serving as the subject. This revealing documentary offers an unusually frank examination of his assorted afflictions, showing, for instance, how his mind plays tricks on him after driving over a bump in the road, so that he feels the need to double-back to make sure he hasn’t hit a pedestrian.
            Given Bud’s mix of bizarre tics, it’s no surprise that he’s had a hard time finding a wife. But that doesn’t stop him from trying, and he takes along a camera here to record some of his disastrous dates.
            Although he’s terribly eccentric, it’s also clear that he’s very likable, sensitive and intelligent, too. After all, he’s bright enough to have crafted OC87, a poignant portrait of himself designed to encourage tolerance for any outpatient struggling with similar symptoms.  
            A warts-and-all biopic about a cautious, creative genius burdened by a vivid imagination apt to take superstitions like “Step on a crack and you break your mother’s back” very seriously.        

Very Good (3 stars)
Running time: 91 minutes
Distributor: Fisher Klingenstein 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

96 Minutes (DVD REVIEW)

96 Minutes
DVD Review by Kam Williams

DVD Features “Crash”-Like Crime Drama 

    Carley (Brittany Snow) is a sheltered college senior who’s torn between roaming around the country after getting her degree and going to law school primarily to please her parents. She’s caught up in an animated conversation about the future with her best friend, Lena (Christian Serratos), who is concerned about a boyfriend and about making a smooth transition from campus to the real world.
    As the carefree coeds drive around Los Angeles, they’re blissfully unaware that their world is on the verge of suddenly colliding with that of a couple of teens from the other side of the tracks. One, Dre (Evan Ross), is fast approaching a milestone of his own, having just ordered a cap-and-gown for his impending high school graduation. He hopes to be one of the few kids from his block to overcome the odds and actually make it out of the ghetto.
    Sadly, the same can’t be said about Kevin (Jonathan Michael Trautmann), a dropout desperate to be embraced by the local gang. To prove himself worthy, he impulsively decides to carjack Carley and Lena’s car at gunpoint.
    Dre reluctantly joins Kevin in this felonious endeavor, more to talk some sense into his young cousin than as an accomplice, only to have grand theft auto escalate to kidnapping and attempted murder when the kid shoots a resistant Lena in the head. With all four subsequently cooped-up together in the car, what ensues is a harrowing ordeal marked by mutual misunderstandings borne of a culture clash.
    Like a claustrophobic variation of the Oscar-winning Best Picture Crash, 96 Minutes is a serendipitous slice-of-life tale unfolding in L.A. over the course of one very eventful evening. The compelling crime drama marks the impressive writing and directorial debut of Aimee Lagos, who exhibits quite a knack for both character-development and for generating edge of your seat urgency.
    Listen, whenever vapid Valley girls cross paths with wanton boys ‘n the hood, you know something’s gotta give. And when the dust settles, it ain’t going to look pretty.

Very Good (3 stars)
Rated R for violence and pervasive profanity.
Running time: 95 minutes
Distributor: Arc Entertainment

Top Ten DVD Releases for 5-29-12

This Week’s DVD Releases
by Kam Williams

Headline: Top Ten DVD List for May 29th                            

Sing Your Song


Ultrasuede: In Search of Halston

True Blood – The Complete Fourth Season

We Need to Talk about Kevin

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Love Never Dies

Maverick - The Complete First Season

Memorial Day

Hell on Wheels

The Jungle Bunch: The Movie

Honorable Mention

House of Boys

Jules Verne’s Mysterious Island

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Kam's Movie Kapsules for 6-1-12

Kam's Kapsules:      
Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun         
by Kam Williams
For movies opening June 1, 2012


Battlefield America (PG-13 for profanity, drug use and mature themes) Overcoming-the-odds drama, set in L.A., about a charismatic businessman (Marques Houston) who hires a choreographer to help a rag-tag team of inner-city kids prepare for an underground, hip-hop dance competition. With Lynn Whitfield, Valarie Pettiford and Mekia Cox. 

Piranha 3DD (R for sexuality, profanity, drug use, graphic nudity and gory violence) High body-count, horror sequel set at the grand opening of an adult-themed water park whose patrons are blissfully unaware of an impending attack by a swarm of man-eating fish. Starring Danielle Panabaker, Matt Bush, Ving Rhames, Christopher Lloyd, Gary Busey, David Hasselhoff and Elise Neal.

Snow White and the Huntsman (PG-13 for intense violence and brief sensuality) Medieval variation on the classic fairytale finds the fair princess (Kristen Stewart) banished to the forest where she plots revenge against the evil queen (Charlize Theron) with the help of 8 dwarfs and the swordsman (Chris Hemsworth) ordered to kill her. Cast includes Bob Hoskins, Ian McShane, Ray Winstone and Toby Jones.


5 Broken Cameras (Unrated) Middle East documentary chronicling a family of Palestinian farmers’ non-violent protest against the Israeli government’s confiscating land in their tiny, West Bank town for the benefit of profit and politically-motivated, real estate developers. (In Hebrew and Arabic with subtitles)

6 Month Rule (R for profanity and sexuality) Battle-of-the-sexes comedy, set in Shreveport, Louisiana, revolving around a confirmed bachelor (Blayne Weaver) who finally decides to settle down when he unexpectedly falls head-over-heels for a woman (Natalie Morales) he can’t just seduce and abandon as usual. With Jamie Pressley, Martin Starr and Vanessa Branch.

Apartment 143 (R for profanity and terror) Found-footage horror flick about a team of parapsychologists’ investigation of strange phenomena occurring inside of a haunted house. Starring Francesc Garrido, Fiona Glascott and Rick Gonzalez.

A Cat in Paris (PG for action, violence and mature themes) Animated crime caper about a cat who leads a double life, living with a grieving, 7 year-old orphan (Oriane Zani) by day, and working with a kindhearted burglar (Bruno Salomone) by night. Voice cast includes Dominique Blanc, Bernadette Lafont and Jean Benguigui. (In French with subtitles)

Cellmates (Unrated) Unlikely-buddy comedy about the friendship which blossoms behind bars between the grand dragon of the Ku Klux Klan (Tom Sizemore) and a Mexican farm worker/community organizer (Hector Jimenez), when the two are forced to share a tiny prison cell. With Stacy Keach, Kevin P. Farley and Olga Segura.

Chely Wright: Wish Me Away (Unrated) Out-of-the-closet documentary about the blowback felt by country singer Chely Wright after making the difficult decision to inform her family and fans that she’s a lesbian.

Crooked Arrows (PG-13 for suggestive language) David vs. Goliath sports flick featuring a team of Iroquois underdogs competing against better-equipped rivals in a prep school league lacrosse tournament. With Brandon Routh, Michael Hudson and Gil Birmingham.

For Greater Glory (R for graphic violence and disturbing images) Faith-based historical drama revisiting the events surrounding the Cristeros War (1926-1929), an insurrection ignited by the Mexican government’s decision to secularize the country by outlawing Catholicism. Starring Eva Longoria, Andy Garcia, Ruben Blades, Peter O’Toole and Bruce McGill. (In Spanish and English with subtitles)
Hide Away (PG-13 for sensuality, mature themes and brief profanity) Bittersweet tale of redemption about a regretful businessman (Josh Lucas) who tries to recover from an unspeakable tragedy by restoring a fixer-upper sailboat on a remote island off the coast of Michigan where he’s befriended by a waitress (Ayelet Zurer), a cashier (Casey LaBow) and an ancient mariner (James Cromwell). With Jon Tenney, Anne Faba and Taylor Nichols.

High School (R for nudity, sexuality, crude humor, pervasive profanity and incessant drug use) Misery-likes-company comedy about a high school valedictorian (Matt Bush) who tries to get the entire senior class stoned after he’s suspended for failing a drug test just before graduation. Cast includes Adrien Brody, Michael Chiklis, Colin Hanks and Mikelti Williamson.
The Loved Ones (Unrated) Gruesome horror thriller about a jilted, high school coed (Robin McLeavy) who plots revenge with the help of her father (John Brumpton) against the hunky classmate (Xavier Samuel) who turned her down as his prom date. With Victoria Thaine, Jessica McNamee and Richard Wilson.

Pink Ribbons, Inc. (Unrated) Non-profit expose’ investigating what happens to the millions of dollars raised in the name of breast cancer, the corporate charity that Madison Avenue marketing experts have dubbed “The Dream Cause.”

U.N. Me (PG-13 for disturbing images and mature themes involving genocide and rape) Incendiary documentary indicting the United Nations as a corrupt, bribe-taking outfit of fake peacekeepers who frequently fail to intervene while witnessing crimes against humanity and who have even participated in murders at the scene of international hotspots.