Thursday, March 31, 2016

Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens

DVD Review by Kam Williams

Newcomers Join Ford, Fisher and Hamill in Latest Outer Space Epic 

The Force Awakens is a splendid sequel to Return of the Jedi, the 1983 finale of the original Star Wars trilogy. This offering follows the uneven prequel trilogy released over the intervening years, the low point being the introduction of a jive Jamaican character named Jar Jar Binks. 
Episode VII, which also marks the launch of another trilogy, just might be the best Star Wars installment yet. This is no surprise when you consider that it was directed by Spielberg protege J.J. Abrams (Super 8), who'd proved himself worthy of being entrusted with the storied sci-fi series by virtue of his prior success with the tent pole franchises Star Trek and Mission Impossible. 
The Force Awakens represents an ingenious mix of the old and the new, as it features familiar faces like Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill, as well as fresh ones in John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac and Adam Driver. The same can be said of the adventure's robotic cast members, with anthropomorphic android BB-8 joining in the fun with much beloved R2-D2 and C-3PO.

An engaging plot interweaves all of the above in a way which never feels forced. Credit in this regard goes to Abrams for collaborating with three-time Academy Award-nominee Lawrence Kasdan (for The Big Chill, The Accidental Tourist and Grand Canyon) and Oscar-winner 
Michael Arndt (for Little Miss Sunshine) in crafting an engaging script frankly imbued with a little more depth than expected. Betwixt the hi-tech battles between good and evil, the tale exploits breaks in the action to serve up a fair amount of nostalgia and sentimentality. 
It all unfolds a few decades after the events in Return of the Jedi, opening with the trademark conceit "A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away..." followed by a crawl explaining what's transpired since we've last met. At the point of departure, we learn that the New Republic is joining forces with the Resistance to fight the Stormtroopers of the First Order, an intergalactic dictatorship led by the diabolical Snoke (Andy Serkis). 
Soon thereafter, intrepid protagonists emerge in rebel fighter pilot Poe (Oscar Isaac), renegade Stormtrooper Finn (John Boyega), orphaned scavenger Rey (Daisy Ridley) and reliable veteran Admiral Han Solo (Ford). The good guys have a seemingly inexhaustible army of adversaries to vanquish en route to making the universe safe again for freedom and democracy. 
The hostilities inexorably build to a spectacular, lightsaber battle best appreciated in 3-D and on an IMAX screen. Nevertheless, for my money, the movie's most inspired moments are the ones designed to tug at the heartstrings, like the touching reunion of Solo and Princess Leia (Fisher). 
A thrilling outer space epic breathing new life into a once flagging franchise!

Excellent (4 stars)
Rated PG-13 for violence
Running time: 136 minutes
Distributor: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Extras: Secrets of The Force Awakens: A Cinematic Journey; The Story Awakens: The Table Read; Building BB-8; Crafting Creatures; Blueprint of a Battle: The Snow Fight; John Williams: The Seventh Symphony; ILM: The Visual Magic of The Force; Force for Change; and deleted scenes.

To see a trailer for Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens, visit:

To order a copy of the Star Wars: The Force Awakens Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack, visit:  

Top Ten DVD Releases for 4-5-16

by Kam Williams

Star Wars: The Force  Awakens

How to Change the World

Invisible Scars

Stealing Cars

The Great Hypnotist

A Place to Call Home: Season Three

Ron Taylor: Dr. Baseball

Natural Born Pranksters



Honorable Mention


Archer: The Complete Season Six

The Expanse: Season One

The Hoarder

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Kam's Movie Kapsules for 4-8-16

Kam's Kapsules:
Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun
by Kam Williams
For movies opening April 8, 2016


Before I Wake (PG-13 for violence, terror and disturbing images) Heart-pounding horror flick revolving around a married couple (Kate Bosworth and Thomas Jane) that unwittingly takes in an 8 year-old orphan (Jacob Tremblay) possessed by an evil demon. With Annabeth Gish, Scottie Thompson and Dash Mihok.

The Boss (R for sexuality, profanity and brief drug use) Melissa McCarthy plays the title character in this comedy about a business tycoon convicted of insider trading who attempts to re-brand herself as America's sweetheart after her release from prison. Cast includes Kathy Bates, Kristen Bell, Cecily Strong and Peter Dinklage.

Demolition (R for profanity, drug use, disturbing behavior and some sexual references) Bittersweet dramedy about a recently-widowed investment banker (Jake Gyllenhaal) who finds an unlikely shoulder to cry on in a cash-strapped, customer service rep (Naomi Watts) with a company he has a gripe with. Featuring Heather Lind, Judah Lewis, Chris Cooper and Royce Johnson.


Hardcore Henry (R for pervasive profanity, incessant mayhem and graphic violence, sexuality, nudity and drug use) Revenge thriller, set in Moscow, about a vigilante's attempt to rescue his wife (Haley Bennett) who's been kidnapped by a Russian warlord (Danila Kozlovsky) with an army of assassins. Cast includes Sharlto Copley, Tim Roth and Will Stewart. (In English and Russian with subtitles)

Havana Motor Club (Unrated) Classic car documentary about Cuba's first, state-sanctioned drag race since 1960. (In Spanish and English with subtitles)

High Strung (PG for mature themes and mild epithets) Romance drama about a Manhattan street musician (Nicholas Galitzine) and a ballet student from the Midwest (Keenan Kampa) who fall in love at first sight upon her arrival in New York City. With Jane Seymour, Sonoya Mizuno and Paul Freeman.

Look at Us Now, Mother (Unrated) Gayle Kirschenbaum directed this dysfunctional family documentary chronicling her decades-long challenging relationship with her mother.

Mr. Right (R for violence and pervasive profanity) Romantic comedy about a woman (Anna Kendrick) who becomes smitten with an intriguing suitor (Sam Rockwell) unaware that he's a professional hit man on the run from miffed mobsters. With Tim Roth, RZA, Anson Mount and James Ransone.

Vita Activa: The Spirit of Hannah Arendt (Unrated) Thought-provoking documentary revisiting the checkered career of Hannah Arendt (1906-1975), the self-hating Jewish philosopher who escaped Europe during the Holocaust only to later express sympathy for Nazi war criminals like Adolph Eichmann. (In English, Hebrew and German with subtitles)

Tuesday, March 29, 2016


Film Review by Kam Williams

Doctor Leads Rescue Team in Apocalyptic Zombie Flick

Laura (Rachel Nichols) managed to avoid getting infected by the virus that decimated the population of New York. Now the Center for Disease Control veteran is in L.A. where she's heading a rescue team assigned to find survivors among the masses of victims morphing into flesh-eating zombies right after dying from the fatal affliction. 
Dr. Laura also harbors faint hopes of finding her husband and daughter as she dons a bio-hazard suit before embarking on the dangerous mission. Her partners in the endeavor include itchy, trigger-fingered Gunner (Mekhi Phifer), nurse/navigator Denise (Missi Pyle) and ex-con Wheeler (Alfie Allen), the driver of their Department of Corrections school bus. 
As they leave the safe confines of the compound, Gunner warns Laura to "Think of it as a game." This advice comes in handy, since their vehicle is soon enough engulfed by a horde of hungry ghouls. In fact, Gunner gets to deliver the most memorable lines ("Ever play whack a mole?") in the way of comic relief. 
Directed by John Suits (The Scribbler), Pandemic is a cliche-ridden horror flick that borrows the bulk of its ideas from the zombie genre inaugurated by Night of the Living Dead in 1968. If you've never seen one of these movies before, you're likely to find this adventure fascinating. However, this low-budget offering doesn't hold a candle to the original or to such recent homages as Zombieland (2009) or World War Z (2013).

A paint-by-numbers production recommended for folks who can never get their fill of post-apocalyptic zombie fare.

Good (2 stars)
Running time: 91 minutes
Studio: Parkside Pictures
Distributor: XLrator Media

To see a trailer for Pandemic, visit:

Monday, March 28, 2016

Bridgette Alexander

The “Southern Gothic” Interview
with Kam Williams

Alexander's Candor!

Born in Chicago, Illinois on September 21, 1965, Bridgette R Alexander is a 19th Century French Art Historian specializing in the racial and sexuality construction during the development of modern Parisian culture, singling out one artist, Edouard Manet, for deeper focus. She’s also an independent curator and an art advisor.

Over a twenty-year period, Bridgette devoted her attention to the art worlds of New York City, Paris and Berlin, parlaying that experience into a second career as the author of a young adult book series, the Celine Caldwell Mysteries. Here, she talks about her latest novel. "Southern Gothic."

Kam Williams: Hi Bridgette, thanks for the interview.
Bridgette Alexander: Hi Kam, I am so pleased to talk with you.

KW: What whetted your interest in writing, what whetted your interest in art history, and how did you come to combine the two?
BA: When I started studying art history, I hoped to become an historian of ancient Egyptian art and an archaeologist. I’d spent most of my weekends as a teen at the Oriental Institute in the Education Department and in the archives reading and studying in an unofficial capacity with the Director of Education at that time. I would go to the Field Museum and study there as well. Much, much later, long after college, I returned to the Field Museum and taught Egyptian Hieroglyphics to groups of children as an overnight workshop. I’d teach them the Ancient Alphabet and then instruct them on creating their own cartouche with their names. And then we’d spend the night near, or sometimes for the daring ones, in an exhibit area of the tombs.

But, back to the point. It was much later when I changed my major to Modern Art. I was living in NYC and started studying at Columbia University. I learned I couldn’t actually major in ancient Egyptian art history in that department. I was taking a number of modern art courses, one particular course with Rosalind Krauss, and in her slide presentation of modern masterpieces she introduced the class to Edouard Manet’s Olympia, a painting of a reclining nude white woman and standing right next her a clothed black woman. After that course, I took about six more classes in modern art ranging from feminism to theoretical constructs in modernity and, each time, Manet’s painting kept coming back to me. It happened so often, I knew it was telling me something…something more than the mere analysis the professors were so brilliantly laying out. For one thing, I couldn’t understand why so much had been written and discussed about Olympia, Edouard Manet's seminal work, a painting so important it is what led him to be known as the father of modern art. Thousands of gallons of ink have been spilled about that painting and yet not one, real, honest mention of the black woman standing in it. Years later, at the University of Chicago, I centered much of my graduate study around not only Manet and that painting, but around the life and world of the standing black woman, whose name was Laure, and around the thousands of African, Jewish and Arab female artists' models in Paris during the Second Empire, which made up 60% of female artists' models in Paris. I still want to write that story.

KW: How did you develop the confidence to pursue your dream of a writing career?
BA: I have written and told stories since I received my first diary as a young child. Writing was a refuge for me, and a way to put my thoughts in front of myself. Writing never challenged my confidence, but was something I always needed to do, just as I live to tell stories. Before I was 23 and working at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange as a trader assistant, I already had the vivid sense that my life and work were my own. When my grandparents died and left me alone as a young adult, I was confident in my own decisions. I don’t mean to say that the path was clear to me. It wasn’t until much later, when I was a scholar of 19th Century French Art History living in Paris that I finally awoke to the art of writing as something I could pursue professionally. And it wasn’t until a few years after that that I realized that my writing had always been storytelling.

KW: How did you come to settle on young adult readers as your target demographic?
BA: I don’t think I’ve ever left my own young adult stage of life. It is such an incredibly beautiful, complicated and amazing time for most of us. We’re no longer a child that really needs momma and daddy, but also not quite a full-on grown person. It’s probably, and certainly it was that way for me, a sort of delicious purgatory.

KW: How would you describe your new novel, “Southern Gothic,” in 25 words or less?
BA: Lady Macbeth meets the Gossip Girls for a day of art, crime and culture.

KW: What was the source of inspiration for the book?
BA: "Southern Gothic" has many sources of inspiration. The book and the series represent a revisiting of my experiences in the art world. The historical material in "Southern Gothic" has a distant source in my husband’s old Scottish Presbyterian family in North Carolina. Religious groups and cultural sects in North Carolina during the 19th Century, like the Quakers, provided inspiration, too. And raising my daughter helped me re-think daughters and mothers. The protagonist Celine and her mother Julia are one result of that.

KW: How did you go about writing it? Did you create an outline to follow, or did it come to you as you went along?
BA: I don’t create an outline per se, however, I do have to create what I call “beats.” Writing to beats was not my creation, but a method I picked up from another writer, and I love it. I go through each action in the story and just write out the entire plot, subplot, character arc, everything… It all just gets laid out so splendidly. Even before I do that, the story starts to unfold in my mind as I create scenarios for Celine Caldwell to inhabit. Of course, the story sometimes changes when characters or plots refuse to go along with my plan. Eventually, I give up and let them live their own lives.

KW: Your heroine, Celine Caldwell, is biracial and the plot involves a lynching by the Ku Klux Klan. Did you consciously decide to have a non-white protagonist and to explore sensitive subject-matter?
BA: Yes, I did. I wanted her to be absolutely different from me. I thought about her as I rocked my own bi-racial daughter to sleep for afternoon naps. I thought about what her life could look like – a life of privilege, a life traveling the world at such a young age; a life navigating through social circles that I didn’t and couldn’t enter and, to a certain extent, didn’t want to engage with…I created a girl that could go in and out of that world of privilege and own it and see a lot of its ugliness. On the other hand, Celine’s contact with the KKK is through reading old diary entries from a girl her own age who lived in the 19th Century American South. I wanted Celine to see her life juxtaposed with that of someone living in dramatically different social conditions. I myself wanted to somehow experience a life that extreme right along with Celine. And throughout the book series, I attempt to continue that process. In the second book, "Sons Of Liberty," scheduled for release in the spring 2017, we’ll find Celine tackling a right-wing political organization as it’s tentacles reach into her private school while locking itself in a wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, creating total disruption in the name of “returning our country to its greatness”. In book three, "Pasha," a former arms dealer-turned-art patron is being honored by the establishment of the art world but, unfortunately, Celine Caldwell intercepts a fatwa that has been issued against the newly-reformed art benefactor. Each of the twelve books in the series examines social and political issues, without being preachy or didactic. And the art, oh my God, I am so excited and thrilled about the art that’s featured in the series. The art takes the reader through centuries of visual culture from American portraiture, French Heroism and French Orientalism to Modern and Contemporary Islamic Art. The series is a beautiful journey through art history that is both sexy and informative. I think that’s why my retail partners, Henri Bendel and Clarins, are excited – developing and reaching new readers in the way Celine Caldwell does is very appealing to them! So, through this year, Henri Bendel and Clarins has partnered with Celine Caldwell Mystery Series to present fun and exciting book launch events at their stores across the nation. We’ve held a couple at the Chicago flagship for a packed house. People are falling in love with Celine Caldwell! If I may add, for more information on events and locations, please visit There, you’ll also find our secret razzmatazz button for giveaways.We also have original music created for each book in the series. The music was created by Francisco Dean, a music teacher at the University of Chicago Laboratory School. You can hear the music by watching the "Southern Gothic" book trailer at We’re also looking to option the series for television.

KW: Does “Southern Gothic” have a message you want people to take away from it?
BA: I hope the experience is as meaningful to others as I felt it, but no, I do not have a message to convey.

KW: How is the progress coming with see your next book about prominent African-American art collectors.
BA: Wow! The book is entitled "Black Market." It is a close examination of prominent African-American art collectors and whites who collect modern and contemporary art created by African-American and/or artists of African descent. This book was alive and had a publisher until the economic crash in 2008 threw the book market into a tailspin that changed publishing forever. I interviewed over 150 black collectors and a few prominent white collectors. With Goldman Sachs as a partner, I staged events called the Collector’s Circle that included a few of the collectors featured in Black Market. The events were held in art museums in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York City. I completed all of the interviews around 2009 and photographed close to a third of the interviewees. However, in light of our post-2008 economy, which has brought a lot of amazingly new essence to collecting art as a cultural custodian, I am interested in interviewing a new crop of collectors, before finalizing the project and getting it published.

KW: Who are some of the celebrities participating in the project?
BA: I talked to Wall Street executives, prominent businessmen, such as Raymond McGuire and Rodney Miller; museum directors like Maxwell Anderson; and academics. Television and motion picture actors like CCH Pounder; authors such as Terry McMillan, and Maya Angelou; Hip-Hop mogul Russell Simmons and his artist older brother, Danny Simmons. Hotelier and major art collectors Don and Mera Rubel; several well-known sports legends such as Calvin and Grant Hill, State Supreme Court Justice Alan Page, Darryl Walker and Elliot Perry, and many powerhouse women, such as Dr. Joy Simmons, Eileen Harris Norton and Vivian Hewitt who comes with an incredibly exquisite history in art, including hosting salons for her friends, “Jake” Lawrence and Romi Bearden. There are also plenty of wonderful, extraordinary everyday people in the book. I collected some amazing stories about fathers and sons, and about the connection between a man and woman and how they became husband and wife; and the chilling story of art lost under the weight of Hurricane Katrina. That particular story is heartbreaking.

KW: Who are some of the artists whose works will be featured in the book?
BA: You know, a lot of the usual suspects for some of the older and/or traditional art collectors: Lawrence, Bearden, Catlett, Gordon Parks, Henry O. Tanner, and Harold Woodruff. However, for the contemporary art collector, the more cutting edge or avant-garde collector, those collections hold the likes of: David Hammons, Mark Bradford, Basquiat and Warhol collaborative works, Rashid Johnson, Mickalene Thomas and others. The list is utterly amazing.

KW: founder Troy Johnson asks: What was the last book you read?
BA: "Pudd'nhead Wilson" by Mark Twain. I read it for school when I was in the 7th grade and have been dying to introduce the story to my daughter. She and I just finished it.

KW: Ling-Ju Yen asks: What is your earliest childhood memory?
BA: It’s vivid, because it’s shrouded in trauma. I was 2 years-old and being admitted into the Bethany Brothers Hospital to have my tonsils removed. My grandmother bought me a little yellow pajama set with white polka dots, something that I would wear after the operation. She didn’t come with me; my mother did. I was really frightened because my Madear wasn’t there. I was in the intake room, got my temperature taken, had a little hospital gown placed on me…and was then weighed, placed on a gurney, and rolled into the operating room. Once inside, the sea foam blue room, a black oxygen mask was placed over my face and the attending physician told me to start counting. The next thing I remember was waking up en route to my hospital room where a silver baby bed was waiting for me. I spent the night in the hospital alone. The next morning, after screaming in pain from the surgery, the nurses carried me around the hospital to meet some of the other patients. One patient was a pregnant African-American woman. I can see her so clearly right now. She was really cute and her stomach was ginormous. Later that same day, there was some terrible construction accident and some of the construction workers were sent to Bethany Brothers Hospital. I shared my room with one of the construction workers. I bet that wouldn’t happen today. Truly, I was two and this did happen.

KW: Who loved you unconditionally during your formative years in Chicago?
BA: My grandparents--John and Bertha Talley. No one else, I think. They loved me and made me believe in my own ability to be loved and take that love out into the world and let it be my companion on my life’s journey. So, because of them, I have lived and traveled everywhere almost, by myself with no fears... because they loved me.

KW: Was there a meaningful spiritual component to your childhood?
BA: Yes, when I was around 4 or 5 and my grandmother read the story of King David to me and talked about him all the time. I somehow loved David and became jealous of him at the same time. I wanted the same kind of relationship he had with God

KW: What is your favorite dish to cook?
BA: Midnight pasta with a glass of Malbec. I learned this recipe while spending a summer learning French technique at the French Culinary Institute in Soho. I didn’t exactly learn it in class, but the kitchen staff taught me after restaurant hours ended. You need a super good, California extra-virgin olive oil, about five to seven garlic cloves, red pepper flakes and several other ingredients.

KW: What was your very first job?
BA: I dressed as one of five Mrs. Santa Claus selling summer sausages at the Brickyard Shopping Mall for Christmas Holiday in Chicago. It sounds messed up, but it was one of the best times I ever had on a job. The Santa was drunk for most of the season; and fired because he pinched a kid. The Santa who replaced him was even worse. And every time I walked up to shoppers with a 15-inch sausage in one hand and a little knife to cut a slice in the other, the comebacks I received from men and some women were priceless. It was awesome!

KW: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?
BA: A dark skinned, shaved-head version of my mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and aunt. Only I’m a little more fearless and absolutely driven to be out and about in the world.

KW: If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would that be for?
BA: Continued vibrantly good health, and living on the Central Coast of California in a beautiful Richard Meier modern home with a pool and guesthouse with my hubby David and daughter Chloe.

KW: What is your guiltiest pleasure?
BA: I don’t feel guilt over things that I take pleasure in. If you’re asking about unusual things that I take pleasure in that other people may not, well…I have skincare. It’s been my indulgence since I was a teenager.

KW: Is there any question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would?
BA: Yes, what was the true impact your grandparents, John and Bertha Talley, aka June and Madear, had on you? Answer: They saved my life. Their pragmatism kept me living right at my means; their drive and desires for me allowed me to reach for the seemingly unreachable and then push myself further. Without them, I would have never had the nerve to leave Chicago on a Greyhound bus for NYC with $20 in my pocket and relocate to Manhattan with no place to stay. They gave me the composure to find a job as an usher for Radio City Music Hall and eventually get a first-class education.

KW: Judyth Piazza asks: What key quality do you believe all successful people share?
BA: The ones I have known are driven, focused, and doggedly committed to their goals. They definitely do not take their business or professional setbacks personally or allow emotions to cloud their judgment. I love them and I envy them, like I did with King David.

KW: What advice do you have for anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps?
BA: You better love who you are, because you are going to spend so much of your time alone with yourself, you better be happy with yourself. If not, fix it.

KW: Thanks again for the time, Bridgette, and best of luck with "Southern Gothic."
BA: Thank you, Kam.

For more information about the Celine Caldwell Mystery Series, visit

To order a copy of "Southern Gothic," visit:


Sunday, March 27, 2016

The Wake of Vanport

Film Review by Kam Williams

Heartfelt Documentary Revisits 1948 Flood Which Wiped Out Oregon City

Vanport, Oregon was established in 1942 on lowlands located between Portland and the Columbia River. At its height, the hastily-constructed public housing project had about 40,000 inhabitants, most of whom were hired by the military to work in shipyards in nearby Portland and Vancouver.

After the war ended, it proved to be an attractive destination for African-Americans families who appreciated that the town was integrated and that it offered a higher quality of life than what they'd experienced in places like Arkansas, Oklahoma and Louisiana. A big negative, however, was the series of sluices slicing through the city serving as an ever-present reminder of the precarious nature of its existence.

For, there was always the possibility that a dike might give out, a fear that turned into a frightening reality at 4:05 pm on Sunday, May 30, 1948. Heavy snows followed by an unusually warm spring combined to flood the town by nightfall, claiming 15 lives while leaving the rest of its citizens homeless . 
The Wake of Vanport is a very moving documentary featuring archival photographs of the Memorial Day disaster, as well as the wistful remembrances of a number of survivors. Belva Jean Griffin, who was 21 at the time, recounts how her parents had received unreliable assurances that the dams would hold. Consequently, she lost everything she owned except an album of family photos. 
Regina Flowers, reminisces about how there was no racial strife among the kids in Vanport when she was growing up, although there was some among the adults. Paula Hartman recalls that only whites received advance notice about the impending deluge in a handbill that read:

                     "Remember: Dikes are safe at present.
                     You will be warned, if necessary.
                     You will have time to leave.
                     Don't get excited."

Lily Raxter recollects watching a black lady with a couple of huge suitcases being swept away by the all-consuming current. And Marge White talks about immediately falling in love with Vanport upon arriving from Tallulah, Louisiana in the fall of '44. Together, this touching collection of truly heartfelt remembrances paint a poignant portrait of a short-lived, idyllic oasis.

Excellent (4 stars)
Running time: 53 minutes
Distributor: The Skanner Foundation

To watch The Wake of Vanport, visit:

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Film Review by Kam Williams

Latest DC Comics Adaptation Pits the Man of Steel against the Caped Crusader

Let's face it, Christian Bale's Batman was going to be a hard act for any actor to follow, especially Ben Affleck who had already proved underwhelming as a superhero when he played Daredevil back in 2003. And the departure from the franchise of Chris Nolan, the legendary director of the critically-acclaimed Dark Knight trilogy, only served to lower expectations even further. 
Thus, it's no surprise that Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice would indeed prove to be a bitter disappointment. The picture was directed by Zack Snyder who also helmed the 2013 reboot of Superman, called Man of Steel.

The first problem with this terribly-flawed, second offering in the DC Extended Universe series rests in its interminable 2-and-1/2 hour running time that could have easily been trimmed down to less than 90 minutes. For example, why bother revisit the backstory about what inspired Bruce Wayne to become Batman, when the murder of his parents had previously been addressed in numerous other episodes?

The second issue with the production has to do with Batman and Superman's (Henry Cavill) being cast as adversaries for the bulk of the film. Yes, the source of the tension between the two is adequately explained, but the audience nevertheless grows increasingly impatient since we'd much rather see our beloved heroes quickly resolve their differences in favor of joining forces to fight a real villain.

After all, there is an eminently detestable adversary waiting in the wings in the person of the diabolical Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg). Too bad this tortoise-paced blockbuster takes forever to arrive at that epic showdown. Instead, we're forced to endure the meaningless machinations of a convoluted adventure less concerned with coherency than with atmospherics, action and special f/x.

Besides those superficial bells and whistles, director Snyder exhibits an annoying fondness for support characters with nothing much to do, from Clark Kent's colleague Jimmy Olsen (Michael Cassidy), to his boss Perry White (Laurence Fishburne), to Bruce Wayne's butler Alfred (Jeremy Irons). The film also features a plethora of cameo appearances by celebrities Neil deGrasse Tyson, Anderson Cooper, Brooke Baldwin, Soledad O'Brien, Nancy Grace and Dana Bash who merely distract from rather than advance the plot.

More enjoyable are the relatively-purposeful roles played by Lois Lane (Amy Adams) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot). But by the time the long-awaited battle royal with Luthor and his henchman Doomsday (Robin Atkin Downes) finally rolls around, you're so tired of peeking at your watch that you just want it over and done with as fast as possible. Make it stop!

A classic case of moviemaking excess resulting in a patience-testing blockbuster adding up to way less than the sum of its parts. 


Fair (1 star)
Rated PG-13 for intense violence, pervasive action and some sensuality
Running time: 151 minutes
Distributor: Warner Brothers Pictures

To see a trailer for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, visit:

Friday, March 25, 2016

The Brainwashing of My Dad

Film Review by Kam Williams

Frustrated Daughter Indicts Fox News in Mind Control Documentary

Jen Senko's father, Frank, was a life-long Democrat until he retired and started watching Fox News and listening to conservative talk radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh. Gradually, the aging World War II vet's open-minded beliefs were replaced by right-wing attitudes.

Frank began parroting the talking heads and eventually became so intolerant of minorities, gays and the poor that he could no longer discuss politics with or even sleep in the same bed with his relatively-liberal wife. These developments distressed Jen who placed the blames on a "Republican noise machine designed to distort, confuse, create fear, smear people and deliberately disseminate misinformation." 
And she sets about proving that statement in The Brainwashing of My Dad, a scathing indictment of the right-wing media as dangerous tools in the hands of a power elite interested in mind-control. Directed by Ms. Senko and narrated by Matthew Modine, this is a cautionary expose' apt to resonate with the viewer to the extent one agrees with its progressive point-of-view.

Thus, I suspect that it will appeal to folks sitting in the left side of the choir while rubbing those across the church aisle the wrong way. Regardless of one's political persuasion, the picture does make a persuasive bipartisan point, namely, that TV is likely to continue enjoying its pervasive influence so long as the masses remain "lazy and want their thinking done for them."

A thought-provoking examination of the media's effect on Boobus Americana.

Very Good (3 stars)
Running time: 90 minutes
Studio: JSenko Productions / Cinco Dedos Peliculas
Distributor: Gravitas Ventures

To see a trailer for The Brainwashing of My Dad, visit:

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Top Ten DVD List for March 29, 2016

by Kam Williams

This Week’s DVD Releases

The Hateful Eight

Humans: Series One [Uncut UK Edition]

The Red House

CPO Sharkey: The Best of Season Two

The Making of Trump

Cartel Land


Point Break

The Winter