DVD Review by Kam Williams
Reverential Rockumentary Revisits Career of Late Rock Icon
Frank Zappa (1940-1993) is best remembered as the front man and lead guitarist of the Mothers of Invention, the avant-garde rock band that started developing a dedicated cult following in 1966 with the release of its debut album, "Freak Out!" The group's irreverent, anti-establishment anthems satirizing the status quo resonated with the emerging Hippie Generation's counter-cultural attitudes.
The long hair and rebel image overshadowed Frank's roots as a classical virtuoso influenced by such 20th Century greats as Edgar Varese and Igor Stravinsky. He began composing chamber music at the age of 14 and didn't write his first rock song with lyrics until after he turned 21.
Even after finding fame, Frank remained desperate to be taken seriously as an artist. Consequently, he quite obviously became quite frustrated over the course of his career by the constraints imposed by his packaging as a hippie rock idol.
An inveterate iconoclast, he was also very outspoken on subjects ranging from politics to drugs to the music business. And he often confounded journalists with his surprising stances on prevailing social issues. For example, he was extremely anti-drugs in an era when many of his fans and contemporaries were experimenting with marijuana, LSD and other so-called recreational narcotics.
In terms of his record company, he hated the fact that MGM had the nerve to censor his tunes without his permission. He further observed that, in general, "Musicians are regarded as useless adjuncts of society, unless you write a Coca-Cola jingle."
A free speech advocate, he felt that "Dirty words are a fantasy manufactured by government fanatics and religious organizations to keep people stupid." Just as suspicious of the Left and the Right, he asserted that "Any sort of political ideology that doesn't take into account people's differences is Fascistic."
Eat That Question is a reverential rockumentary directed by Germany's Thorsten Schutte. The informative film contains reams of archival footage featuring its loquacious subject expounding his personal philosophy. The intriguing biopic includes some performances, too, but the cerebral production proves far more fascinating when focusing on what made the man tick than on his music.
A riveting retrospective plumbing the depths of the brilliant mind of a Renaissance man underappreciated in his own time.
Excellent (4 stars)
Rated R for profanity, sexual references and brief nudity
Running time: 93 minutes
Friday, September 30, 2016
Thursday, September 29, 2016
BIG BUDGET FILMS
Posted by Kam at 2:53 PM
Wednesday, September 28, 2016
Film Review by Kam Williams
Spectacular Disaster Flick Depicts Real-Life Events Surrounding BP Oil Spill
On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, located 41 miles off the coast of Louisiana, exploded when high-pressure methane gas blew out the drill pipe. 11 members of the crew perished in the ensuing fiery inferno which engulfed the platform.
The accident also caused the worst oil spill in U.S. history, with over 200 million gallons of crude leaking into the Gulf of Mexico by the time the well was finally capped 86 days later. At that point, authorities turned their attention to the question of who was to blame for the mammoth ecological disaster.
There was no shortage of potential villains to sort through, given that the drilling unit had been built in South Korea, was owned by Transocean Limited, a Swiss company, operated under the flag of the Marshall Islands, was leased to British Petroleum (BP) but maintained by Halliburton, an American field service corporation, and serviced by Schlumberger, a Dutch company. Ultimately, the bulk of the blame would be attributed to BP, which would be found guilty of gross negligence and pay billions of dollars in damages to thousands of aggrieved parties.
Directed by Peter Berg (Battleship), Deepwater Horizon revisits the infamous incident primarily from the perspective of the rig's Chief Electronics Technician, Mike Williams. The picture reunites Berg with Mark Wahlberg with whom he previously collaborated on Lone Survivor.
Wahlberg plays Williams, a working-class hero of unquestioned integrity. As the film unfolds, we find him bidding adieu to his family before departing for a 21-day tour on the Horizon. If only Mike had heeded warning signs like his wife's (Kate Hudson) premonitions and his daughter Sydney's (Stella Allen) science project with a Coke can geyser gone kabluey, he might have had the good sense to call in sick.
The same could be said of his colleague Andrea Fleytas (Gina Rodriguez), a mechanic who couldn't get her car started that same morning. Even the helicopter ferrying them to work experienced an ominous bird strike en route to the platform. And upon landing, they're greeted by a pal with a macabre skull-and-crossbones emblazoned on his hard hat.
Of far more significance are Don Vidrine (John Malkovich) and Bob Kaluza (Brad Leland), the bigwig BP bureaucrats who begin bullying their employees from the minute the chopper lands on the deck. This clueless pair of villains prove willing to put profits before any safety concerns, so it's no surprise when the platform's unstable drill pipe pops its cork.
The spectacular, pyrotechnic calamity which follows affords Mike an opportunity not only to play hero in a sea of fire but to later shame the cowardly culprits responsible in court. A harrowing tale of survival topped off by justice duly being served. What more could you ask for from an action-oriented morality play?
Excellent (4 stars)
Rated PG-13 for intense action sequences, disturbing images and brief profanity
Running time: 107 minutes
Distributor: Lionsgate Films
To see a trailer for Deepwater Horizon, visit:
Posted by Kam at 2:50 PM
Sunday, September 25, 2016
KW: What's your target audience?
Posted by Kam at 4:08 AM
Thursday, September 22, 2016
Posted by Kam at 2:57 PM
Blu-ray Review by Kam Williams
Kevin Hart and The Rock Co-Star in Unlikely-Buddies Comedy
Back in high school, Calvin (Kevin Hart) was voted "Most Likely to Succeed" while his chubby pal Bob (Dwayne Johnson) was being bullied by classmates because of his weight.. But that was a couple of decades ago, and a lot has changed since then.
Today, we find Calvin wondering whether he might have peaked during his glory days at Central High when he and his childhood sweetheart Maggie (Danielle Nicolet) were voted Homecoming King and Queen. Yes, the two did marry, but the relationship's been so rocky she's currently insisting they enter therapy. Things are even worse for Calvin at his accounting firm, where he's just been passed over for a promotion to partner.
By comparison, Bob's fortunes have improved immeasurably over the intervening years. He's not only shed all that unwanted baby fat but he's re-sculpted himself into a veritable Adonis by pumping iron a half-dozen hours a day. Furthermore, he's flourishing in an enviable career as a crack CIA Agent well-versed in the tools of international espionage.
The pair's paths cross for the first time in years at their 20th high school reunion where Calvin is impressed by both Bob's new physique and his daring line of work. So, it's no surprise that the suave spy is able to enlist the jaded pencil pusher's technical assistance on his latest assignment. He also could use a little help apprehending the assassin who murdered his partner (Aaron Paul).
That's the point of departure of Central Intelligence, an unlikely-buddies comedy directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber (We're the Millers). Kevin Hart has proven himself quite the master of the genre, given the success of such box-office hits as The Wedding Ringer, Get Hard and Ride Along 1 and 2, to name a few. Unfortunately, Kevin and co-star Dwayne Johnson fail to generate any chemistry, despite sharing the screen in scene after scene of silly slapstick.
The bulk of the picture's pathetic attempts at humor revolve around contrasting buff Bob's bravery with weak-kneed Calvin's cowardice. But sadly, the laughs are few and far between during this decidedly-underwhelming action-adventure.
Too bad whoever directed the promising trailer probably didn't direct the movie.
Fair (1 star)
Rated PG-13 for violence, sexuality, nudity, crude humor and brief profanity
Running time: 107 minutes
Distributor: Warner Brothers Home Entertainment Group
Blu-ray Extras: Director's commentary; gag reel; alternate scenes; Line-O-Rama; Couch Scene; and a Dance-Off.
To see a trailer for Central Intelligence, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MxEw3elSJ8M
Posted by Kam at 4:54 AM
Blu-ray Review by Kam Williams
Blake Lively Shines as Surfer Stranded in Shark-Infested Waters
Nancy Adams (Blake Lively) was so shaken by her mother's (Janelle Bailey) untimely death that she's dropped out of med school. In order to feel closer to her dearly departed mom, she's decided to vacation at the same exotic Mexican retreat where she was reportedly conceived back in 1991. An avid surfer, she also plans to search for the stretch for her mom's favorite beach.
Upon arriving, Nancy is so impatient to find that idyllic, uncharted spot, that she impulsively heads for the ocean with her surfboard, handbag and smartphone, abandoning her bushed traveling companion at the hotel. Instead, she accepts a ride to the shore from the very obliging Carlos (Oscar Jaenada), an affable local yokel who is more than happy to serve as the bikini-clad hitchhiker's chauffeur and navigator.
He drives away right after depositing her at the secluded cove, yet Nancy has no qualms about being left alone, since she does have cell service. Next thing you know, she's blissfully paddling out to deep water where she's surrounded by a pod of playful dolphins as she starts riding the mammoth waves.
The plot thickens soon after she spots the bobbing carcass of a humpback whale. What Nancy doesn't recognize until it's too late is that she's inadvertently entered the feeding grounds of a still-hungry shark who'd rather dine on human flesh than cetacean.
She subsequently suffers a nasty gash from the initial attack but is somehow able to swim to a tiny, low-lying island nearby. Her medical training comes in handy as she quickly fashions a tourniquet from part of her outfit.
Still, with high tide coming in a matter of hours, she knows that she's got to figure out how to survive once this temporary sanctuary sinks below sea level. The shore is 200 yards away, which is way to far to swim with a determined predator steadily circling as her blood drips into the water.
A couple of potential rescuers (Jose Manuel Trujillo Salas and Angelo Josue Lozano Corzo) show up, but hope fades fast when the dopey duo simply starts swimming without noticing the damsel-in-distress. The next beachgoer (Diego Espejel) does see that Nancy's in need, but he seizes the opportunity to steal her phone and other personal effects left on the sand.
This means spunky Nancy must survive by her wits, a daunting challenge given her dire straits. Thus unfolds The Shallows, an engaging, edge-of-the-seat thriller expertly directed by Jaume Collett-Serra (Non-Stop) to ratchet up the tension.
The movie borrows elements from Jaws (headstrong, maniacal shark), Castaway (this stranded heroine bonds with a seagull instead of a volleyball), Blue Crush (oodles of gratuitous titillation) and MacGyver (a brilliant tinkerer exhibits endless ingenuity). The good news is that it all has been sewn together quite seamlessly yielding a thoroughly enjoyable screamfest reminding us that it's still not safe to swim in the ocean.
Excellent (4 stars)
Rated PG-13 for bloody images, intense scenes of peril and brief profanity
Running time: 86 minutes
Posted by Kam at 4:11 AM
Wednesday, September 21, 2016
Posted by Kam at 6:07 PM
Tuesday, September 20, 2016
Posted by Kam at 2:44 AM