Friday, May 31, 2013

A Good Day to Die Hard (DVD REVIEW)

A Good Day to Die Hard
DVD Review by Kam Williams

Bruce Willis Ventures to Russia for 5th Adventure in Action Franchise

            When his wayward son lands in legal trouble in Russia, John McClane (Bruce Willis) makes his way to Moscow to spring Jack (Jai Courtney) from jail. But because the two have been estranged for a few years, the fretting father has no idea his ne‘er-do-well offspring has cleaned up his act and is now working undercover as a CIA Agent.
            In fact, Jack has a very good reason for being in Eastern Europe, namely, to thwart a terrorist cell bent on world domination from getting its mitts on a stash of enriched uranium. And, once the truth comes out, father and son grudgingly join forces to keep the Free World safe for democracy.
            That’s about all the plot you need to know to follow A Good Day to Die Hard, the fifth installment in the storied franchise starring Bruce Willis. Unfortunately, the movie is basically a brainless indulgence in pyrotechnics, stunts and special f/x, marked by endless explosions, gun fights, car chases and death-defying leaps.
            Diehard Die Hard fans will undoubtedly appreciate Willis’ trademark resort to smirking and sarcasm as effective weapons against evil adversaries whenever he’s faced with overwhelming odds. Plus, there’s the comical badinage between John and junior whenever embittered Jack belatedly endeavors to work out his childhood abandonment issues.
            Macho John might muster up enough empathy to offer a hug, only to have the Kodak moment undermined by another wave of Soviet assassins armed to the teeth. So, don’t expect sophisticated dialogue and you won’t be disappointed. The best this simplistic script has to offer is professional wrestler-like villains yelling: “Do you know what I hate about Americans? Everything!”
            An implausible, action adventure featuring a couple of bomb and bulletproof protagonists more resilient than Wile E. Coyote, thanks to the miracle of cartoon physics!

Fair (1 star)
Rated R for profanity and violence
In English and Russian with subtitles
Running time: 98 minutes
Distributor: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

To see a trailer for A Good Day to Die Hard, visit:  

Top Ten DVD Releases for 6-4-13

This Week’s DVD Releases
by Kam Williams

Top Ten DVD List for June 4, 2013                       

The Twilight Zone: The Complete Second Season

Mosquita & Mari

Brooklyn Castle

Warm Bodies

It's a Disaster: Are You Prepared?


A Portrait of James Dean: Joshua Tree, 1951

Secrets of the Dead: Bugging Hitler’s Soldiers

Sistas the Musical

Atomic Age

Honorable Mention


Baltimore Ravens: Road to XLVII


The Littlest Pet Shop: Sweetest Pets

Just Like Being There

Pretty Little Liars: The Complete Third Season

The Visitor

Escape from Planet Earth

Dora the Explorer: Dora Rocks

Falling Skies: The Complete Second Season

Identity Thief

Thursday, May 30, 2013

After Earth (FILM REVIEW)

After Earth
Film Review by Kam Williams

Father and Son Crash-Land on Earth in Campy Sci-Fi Saga

            In recent years, the name M. Night Shyamalan has become synonymous with mediocre movies with a humdinger of a twist tacked on at the very end. Meanwhile, Will Smith has been so successful as the perennial star of a string of summer blockbusters, that he’s been crowned “Mr. July.”
            Thus, when the two former Philadelphians decide to collaborate on a film project, something ostensibly has to give. Will Shyamalan stem his decade-long decline or will Will’s winning streak come to an abrupt end?
            Looking a little more like a Shyamalan than a Smith production, this cheapo, post-apocalyptic adventure suffers from a combination of miscasting and cheesy special f/x (reminiscent of Lost in Space, the Sixties TV series). Consequently, After Earth pales in comparison with a couple of other sci-fi pictures presently in theaters, specifically, Star Trek 12 and Iron Man 3. 
            At least this futuristic, Shyamalan offering doesn’t turn on rabbit-out-a-hat resolution. In fact, quite to the contrary, the predictable ending of this stranded and I want to go home saga is an exercise in the obvious established by the premise.
            As for the acting, Will Smith is normally good for a little comic relief even in his dramatic outings. Here, however, that trademark flair for the flamboyant he regularly exhibited on TV as The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is nowhere in sight.
            Instead, he displays a sober stoicism from start to finish as General Cypher Raige, the forbidding father of Kitai (Jaden Smith), an aspiring ranger eager to prove his worth as a soldier. He gets his chance when they are the only survivors of an intergalactic expedition crash-landing on Earth, a planet abandoned by humanity a millennium earlier.
            With the General wounded and the spaceship crippled, it is up to Kitai to embark on a hundred-kilometer trip through the jungle alone to retrieve the emergency beacon from the detached tail section. This proves to be no mean feat, since the forest is covered with a variety of voracious, man-eating creatures.
            Will Smith proceeds to spend the balance of the movie sitting in the damaged fuselage surrounded by unspooled reams of what looks like toilet paper. Unbudgeted scenery aside, this film is really designed as a vehicle for his real-life son, Jaden, whose performance in front of the blue screen is tarnished a tad by a high-pitched voice yet to crack.
            They say, there comes a time in every black comedian’s career when he’s asked to put on a dress. Well, it seems the same can be said about appearing in a campy sci-fi as demonstrated by Billy Cosby in Leonard Part 6, Eddie Murphy in The Adventures of Pluto Nash and John Witherspoon in Cosmic Slop.
            A simplistic, father-son morality play strictly for little kids and diehard Will and Jaden Smith fans. Destined to be added to the pantheon of inadvertently-funny blaxploitation flicks with a devoted cult following.

Good (2 stars)
PG-13 for action violence and disturbing images
Running time: 100 minutes
Distributor: Columbia Pictures  

To see a trailer for After Earth, visit: 

Mosquita & Mari (DVD REVIEW)

Mosquita y Mari  
DVD Review by Kam Williams

Out of the Closet Drama Revolves around Lipstick Lesbian Latinas

            Besides being 15 year-old Chicanas, Yolanda “Mosquita” Olveros (Fenessa Pineda) and Mari Rodriguez (Venecia Troncoso) are about as different as night and day. The former is a straight-A student and the only child of overprotective parents (Joaquin Garrido and Laura Patalano) with high expectations for their dutiful daughter. The latter, by contrast, is a relatively-troubled rebel being raised by an overwhelmed widow (Dulce Maria Solis) who’s been struggling just to keep a roof over their heads since entering the U.S. illegally after the death of her husband.
            The Rodriguez’s plight as undocumented immigrants means that Mari has to work part-time to help out her mom financially, a burden that has taken a toll on the kid academically. Consequently, the grieving, underachieving street urchin has learned to mask her pain with a tough “I could care less” veneer.
            Mari and Mosquita’s paths do cross when the Rodriguez family moves next-door to the Olveros in a Spanish-speaking neighborhood located in the Huntington Park area of L.A. The two sophomores initially forge a grudging friendship at school, trading off tutoring in geometry for protection from a clique of mean girls.
            But soon, they’re happily spending so much time together in the afternoons and evenings that Mari loses her job while Mosquita’s grades start to suffer. The plot thickens as it becomes clear that these polar opposites are not only lesbian-curious but experiencing barely-contained pangs of puppy love for each other.
            Tension builds as the schoolgirl crush blossoms into a passion simmering close to the surface as each waits for the other to make the first a move. But the best these awkward neophytes can do is snuggle under a blanket while studying and scribble their names in a dirty automobile’s dust.
            Finally, the moment of truth arrives after a handsome boy asks attractive Mosquita for a date around the same time that a seedy man offers cash-strapped Mari money for sexual favors. At that point, obviously, something’s gotta give.
The question is whether or not they’re ready to take a big leap.
            Marking the marvelous writing and directorial debut of Aurora Guerrero, Mosquita y Mari is a subtle exploration of coming out from the perspective of introspective adolescents at an awkward age. However, the movie has much more to offer, as it is equally sensitive in its examination of a variety of issues of urgent concern to the Latino community.
            To think that in just one generation we’ve gone from Chico and the Man to Chica and the Girl!

Excellent (4 stars)
In Spanish and English with subtitles
Running time: 85 minutes
Distributor: Wolfe Video
DVD Extras: A theatrical trailer; and a behind-the-scenes featurette.

To see a trailer for Mosquita y Mari, visit: 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Aroused (DVD REVIEW)

DVD Review by Kam Williams

Porn Stars Pose for Tasteful Coffee Table Book in Revealing Documentary

            Have you ever been curious about how a woman became a porn star? Was it because of a drug habit? Or maybe out of desperation for money? How did she pick her stage name? Does she feel any shame about such a taboo line of work?
            Is she really a nymphomaniac, or just a bad actress? Does she enjoy having sex with total strangers in front of the camera? Is there a stigma attached to her profession, or is she able to enjoy a normal romantic relationship in her private life? Is she worried about STDs? What does she think of her fans? Does she have an exit plan, or is she just winging it?
            These are among the topics discussed by 16 of the most successful porn stars in Aroused, an intimate biopic directed by Deborah Anderson. Don’t be surprised if none of their sultry sobriquets rings a bell, since one of the fascinating factoids shared here is that their careers are of terribly short duration.
            “The porn stars of 2005 are already gone,” one remarks. “They’re shot out,” which is how industry insiders refer to over the hill performers.
            But the bevy of curvaceous beauties interviewed in Aroused represents the current cream of the crop. That includes Misty Stone, Ash Hollywood, Asphyxia Noir, Belladonna, Kayden Kross, Lisa Ann, Katsuni, Lexi Belle, Brooklyn Lee, Allie Haze, April O’Neil, Jesse Jane, Alexis Texas, Francesca Le, Tanya Tate and Teagan Presley.
            The film is far from explicit, though it does feature each subject in a state of undress as she prepares for a still photo shoot for a relatively-tasteful coffee table book, clad in nothing but a pair of high heels by shoe designer Jimmy Choo. What proves far more compelling than seeing a little skin is hearing what makes each of them tick.
            Money seems to be the common motivation, although they admit that once you go XXX you can’t go back, because being in pornography leaves a scarlet letter on you socially. It’s also interesting that most of these females crave attention more than casual carnality, with an absentee father during childhood being credited as a contributor factor.
            They generally don’t date “civilians,” meaning people outside the porn industry, since ordinary people tend to be prudes about promiscuity, even when their mate explains that it’s just a job. By film’s end, you feel sorry for these females in denial, despite defensive-sounding statements like, “I get paid to have sex. Why doesn’t everybody do that?” Maybe because some of you admit to needing a steady flow of narcotics to mask the shame and the pain.
            An eye-opening expose about the surprisingly-conventional concerns of some of the most hyper-sexualized women in the world.  

Very Good (3 stars)
In English and French with subtitles
Running time: 69 minutes
Distributor: Ketchup Entertainment

To see a trailer for Aroused, visit:


Kam's Movie Kapsules for 6-7-13

Kam's Kapsules:      
Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun         
by Kam Williams
For movies opening June 7, 2013


The Internship (PG-13 for profanity, sexuality, partying and crude humor) Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson co-star in this buddy comedy as a couple of downsized salesmen desperate to reinvent themselves in the Digital Age who find themselves competing against some tech-savvy, young geeks for jobs at Google. With John Goodman, Rose Byrne and Max Minghella.

The Purge (R for profanity and disturbing violence) Futuristic sci-fi thriller set in the U.S. where all criminal activity, including murder, is legal for one day a year. Plot revolves around a man’s (Ethan Hawke) attempt to protect his family from harm when an intruder breaks into their well-fortified gated community during the period of state-sanctioned slaughter. With Lena Headey, Adelaide Kane and Max Burkholder.


Dirty Wars (Unrated) Investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill narrates this expose uncovering the hidden truth behind America’s neverending covert War on Terror being conducted all over the world by a secret army that supposedly doesn’t exist. Includes commentary by Matthew Hoh, Andrew Exum and Abdul Ghafoor. 

Evocateur: The Morton Downey, Jr. Movie (R for profanity and nudity) Raucous documentary highlighting the exploits of the late, TV talk show host who cultivated legions of loyal fans with a confrontational, in-your-face style of interviewing his controversial guests. Featuring appearances by Glenn Beck, Hermain Cain, Pat Buchanan, Gloria Allred and Alan Dershowitz. 

Hey Bartender (Unrated) Bifurcated documentary featuring portraits of a wounded ex-Marine and a jaded white-collar worker trying to make it in a new career serving wine and spirits at an upscale Manhattan establishment.

Much Ado about Nothing (PG-13 for sexuality and drug use) Screen adaptation of Shakespeare’s classic, battle-of-the-sexes comedy about two couples, one (Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof), at war, the other (Fran Kranz and Jillian Morgese), in love. Support cast includes Emma Bates, Reed Diamond and Spencer Treat Clark. 

Rapture-Palooza (R for profanity, drug use and crude sexuality) Post-apocalyptic horror comedy about a suburban Seattle couple (Anna Kendrick and John Francis Daley) left to deal with plagues and an amorous Anti-Christ (Craig Robinson) after billions of other souls ascend to Heaven during the Rapture. Ensemble includes Ken Jeong, Rob Corddry, Ana Gasteyer, Thomas Lennon and Rob Huebel.
Syrup (R for profanity, sexual references and brief drug use) Screen adaptation of Max Barry’s dark novel of the same name about a slacker (Shiloh Fernandez) who has to trust a cutthroat marketing executive (Amber Heard) if his million-dollar idea is to have any hope of succeeding. With Brittany Snow, Kellan Lutz and Rachel Dratch.

Tiger Eyes (PG-13 for a violent incident, mature themes and underage alcohol consumption) Coming-of-age drama based on the Judy Blume best-seller about a grieving teenager (Willa Holland) trying to cope with the murder of her father who finds a shoulder to cry on in the Native-American (Tatanka Means) she meets after her mother (Amy Jo Johnson) moves the family to Los Alamos, New Mexico. With Elise Eberle, Cynthia Stevenson and Russell Means.       

Violet & Daisy (Unrated) Crime drama about a pair of mild-mannered, teenage assassins (Saoirse Ronan and Alexis Bledel) who knock off New York City mobsters when not obsessing about their favorite pop singer (Cody Horn). With James Gandolfini, Danny Trejo and Marianne Jean-Baptiste.

Wish You Were Here (R for profanity, sexuality, violence and drug use) Missing persons drama about four Australian friends enjoying a vacation in Southeast Asia until one member (Antony Starr) of their party disappears mysteriously. With Joel Edgerton, Felicity Price and Teresa Palmer.

You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet (Unrated) Otherworldly drama revolving around a deceased playwright (Denis Podalydes) who somehow casts and stages one of his celebrated works from beyond the grave. Starring Mathieu Amalric, Pierre Arditi and Sabine Azema. (In French with subtitles)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Zulay Henao (INTERVIEW)

Zulay Henao 
The “Love Thy Neighbor” Interview
with Kam Williams

Hip Hip Zulay!

            Zulay Henao was born in Medellin, Colombia on May 29, 1979, and moved to the United States with her family at 4 years-old with her parents. Living in New Jersey, she knew from an early age that she wanted to be an actress. However, Zulay didn’t follow the conventional route to fame. In fact, she took a pit stop and joined the United States Army after graduating from high school.
            While stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, she found time to study at Methodist College. After completing her commitment to the military, Zulay decided to finally pursue her dream of performing.
            She enrolled at the New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts, where she would study for several years. It was during this tenure that her break came when she landed the female lead in Feel the Noise starring opposite music sensation Omarion.
            It was then that Hollywood insiders began to take notice of her irresistible beauty and talent. She was hand selected by writer-director Tom Skull to star in his horror feature Grizzly Park produced by Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead’s Belle Avery. Next would be the role that would really put Zulay on Hollywood’s radar – a starring role as Channing Tatum’s love interest in Fighting.
            She would subsequently go on to star in John Singleton’s Takers alongside the star-studded cast of Paul Walker, Idris Elba, Michael Ealy, Hayden Christensen, Chris Brown, Matt Dillon, Zoe Saldana and Jay Hernandez. She also appeared in S. Darko, Boy Wonder and Hostel: Part 3.
            No stranger to the small screen, Zulay’s TV credits include guest-starring roles on such series as Grey’s Anatomy, Army Wives, Law and Order: SVU and The Unusuals, as well as the made for TV movie Racing for Time. Next year, she will appear in Tyler Perry’s Single Mom’s Club alongside Amy Smart, Nia Long, Terry Crews and Eddie Cibrian.
            Here, she talks about playing Marianna on Love Thy Neighbor, a new TV sitcom written and directed by Tyler Perry and airing on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN Network. The show premieres on May 29 at 9 PM ET/PT. [Check local listings]

Kam Williams: Hi Zulay, thanks for the interview.
Zulay Henao: Hi Kam! Thank you for the opportunity to talk to you and reach your readers.

KW: What interested you in Love Thy Neighbor?
ZH: This role was very important to me because I had the opportunity to portray an educated, professional, sexy, and powerful Latina on mainstream television.

KW: Tell me a little about the sitcom?
ZH: Love Thy Neighbor, to me, is a sitcom about life and friends with a comedic spin, with a cast of characters that we can all relate to! 

KW: How would you describe your character, Marianna?
ZH: Tyler wrote me into the show and I feel blessed! She is strong-willed yet kind, sensitive, and emotional. I like to think that she is the voice of reason within the group.

KW: What’s it like having your first starring role on a television series?
ZH: First and foremost, I feel so excited to be working with Tyler Perry and Oprah! I am in complete alignment with their brand and the change they want to create in the world through the media and arts. Being on this television show is a huge platform for me, a unique opportunity to reach my demographic in a way that motivates and empowers. I feel truly blessed.

KW: Does each episode have a moral, or is it just being played for laughs?  
ZH: Yes, I believe that is the common thread we've all come to love about Tyler Perry and Oprah's brand. There is always something to learn or reflect on. I truly love this aspect of my work on the show! 

KW: Is there any question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would?
ZH: I can't think of any right now, I run into very interesting people in my life and interviews like these. You guys got it covered! 

KW: The Teri Emerson question: When was the last time you had a good laugh?
ZH: I love a good laugh. My brother, sister, and I just spent the weekend together, which is rare because we all live in different states, laughing at childhood memories! 

KW: What is your guiltiest pleasure?
ZH: Latin food is my guiltiest pleasure and my demise. My trainer hates when I go home to visit my mom and her cooking. [Laughs]

KW: The bookworm Troy Johnson question: What was the last book you read?
ZH: I am currently reading “The Circle Maker” by Mark Batterson. It's phenomenal! I highly recommend it.

KW: The music maven Heather Covington question: What was the last song you listened to? 
ZH: I just sang my heart out to "Ahora Quien" by Marc Anthony.

KW: What is your favorite dish to cook?
ZH: I love to mix things up and create new dishes in the kitchen. I love cooking shrimp scampi and having a glass of Pinot Grigio while listening to music.  

KW: The Sanaa Lathan question: What excites you?
ZH: The power of God, love, and human potential. 

KW: The Uduak Oduok question: Who is your favorite clothes designer?
ZH: Oscar de la Renta. 

KW: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?
ZH: Wow! I truly love this. When I look in the mirror I see my parents’ sacrifices being honored. I see the love from which I was created and the power of the human spirit. 

KW: If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would that be for?
ZH: I would wish for one last experience and conversation with my grandfather.

KW: The Jamie Foxx question: What would you do, if you only had 24 hours to live? Would you do the bad stuff, you never got a chance to do, or would you do good stuff to make sure you make it into heaven?
ZH: If I had 24 hours to live I wouldn't waste it on doing the "bad" stuff.  I would savor every moment, every memory, and every loved one.

KW: The Kerry Washington question: If you were an animal, what animal would you be?
ZH: I think this has changed over time. At this moment, I would be a horse. They are intelligent, powerful, beautiful, and graceful.

KW: The Ling-Ju Yen question: What is your earliest childhood memory?
ZH: My earliest memory is of me crying at the airport in Medellin, Colombia as I said goodbye to my father when we were headed for America. I was 4. 

KW: The Anthony Mackie question: Is there something that you promised to do if you became famous, that you still haven’t done yet?
ZH: Yes, I'd like to buy my mother her dream home.  Hopefully it will happen soon.

KW: The Melissa Harris-Perry question: How did your first big heartbreak impact who you are as a person?
ZH: Heartbreak is essential. We grow, evolve, and learn about the most beautiful thing ever: Love! My first heartbreak taught me that love is supposed to ADD beauty and happiness to my already love-filled life! 

KW: The Viola Davis question: What’s the difference between who you are at home as opposed to the person you pretend to be on the red carpet?
ZH: There's this whole sexy thing that happens to women when we walk the red carpet, and it's all okay! At home, I am so many other things! I am just a girl dreaming. I am emotional and goofy.  

KW: The Anthony Anderson question: If you could have a superpower, which one would you choose?
ZH: I'd like to be able to see into people's hearts. 

KW: The Judyth Piazza question: What key quality do you believe all successful people share? 
ZH: Self-awareness and kindness. Being a generous giver!

KW: The Michael Ealy question: If you could meet any historical figure, who would it be?
ZH: I would love to meet Martin Luther King. His fearless attitude, leadership, and self-awareness changed our world.
KW: The Harriet Pakula-Teweles question: With so many classic films being redone, is there a remake you'd like to star in?
ZH: Yes!! I would love to play Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind!

KW: What advice do you have for anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps?
ZH: Always be who YOU are, be self-aware, and love yourself tremendously! 

KW: Attorney Bernadette Beekman asks: What is your favorite charity?
ZH: I like the influence and responsibility the Red Cross has become known for. 

KW: The Tavis Smiley question: How do you want to be remembered?
ZH: I would like to be remembered as someone who gave it all and went for it all, As a woman of strong conviction, character, dignity, and talent who always put God first. 

KW: Thanks again for the time, Zulay, and best of luck with the new show.
ZH: Thank you so very much, Kam. God bless you!

To see Zulay talking about her role on Love Thy Neighbor, visit: