Review by Kam Williams
Suburban Nerds Masquerade as Hardened Gangstas to Retrieve Cat from the 'Hood
Rell (Jordan Peele) was so inconsolable after being dumped by his girlfriend that getting high didn't help ease the pain. But then, while crying on the shoulder of his cousin Clarence (Keegan-Michael Key), a cute, little kitten appeared on his doorstep.
Seeing this as a sign of divine intervention, Rell adopted the adorable stray, which he proceeded to feed, bathe and name Keanu, Hawaiian for "cool breeze." But after bonding for the next couple of weeks, his newfound state of bliss ended abruptly with the kidnapping of Keanu during a break in by members of the 17th Street Blips.
The Blips are a ruthless drug gang from the wrong side of the proverbial tracks. So, Rell realizes that to rescue his pet he's going to have to venture into the heart of the ghetto.
This is a tall order for a nerd from the burbs totally unfamiliar with the ways of the 'hood. for some reason, he enlists the assistance of his equally-geeky cousin, whose wife (Nia Long) and daughter (Jordyn A. Davis) very conveniently just happen to be going away for the weekend.
Rell and Clarence adopt gangsta' alias, Tectonic and Shark Tank, respectively, before confronting Cheddar (Method Man), the Blips' bloodthirsty kingpin. They also deliberately abandoned their bourgie black accents for grammar-butchering Ebonics laced with profanity, the N-word and lots of double negatives.
Of course, retrieving Keanu proves to be quite complicated, as not only Cheddar but a Latino crime boss (Luis Guzman) has staked a claim to the cat (which he refers to as Iglesias). And it is very important that the cousins never admit their middle-class roots lest they risk being exposed as lacking street cred.
Thus unfolds Keanu, a one-trick pony or, should I say, a one-trick kitty directed by Peter Atencio, director of 54 episodes of the Key and Peel TV show. This fish-out-of-water comedy repeatedly relies on the theme that these guys have no idea how to survive in the slums on the run from myriad maladroit morons. That running joke gets tired after about 10 minutes, but the stretch-o-matic skit format insists on beating the dead horse for another hour and a half.
Fair (1 star)
Rated R for violence, sexuality, nudity, drug use, inncessant ethnic slurs and pervasive profanity
Running time: 98 minutes
Distributor: New Line Cinema / Warner Brothers
To see a trailer for Keanu, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K9zy27apgI8
Saturday, April 30, 2016
Review by Kam Williams
Friday, April 29, 2016
Posted by Kam at 2:35 PM
Thursday, April 28, 2016
by Kam Williams
Pedophile Priests Shown Sympathy in South American Drama
The Oscar-winning Best Picture Spotlight addressed the problem of pedophilia in the priesthood from the point of view of the victims. But if you're looking for a take on the issue more sympathetic to the perpetrators, have I got a movie for you.
Nominated for a Golden Globe in the Best Foreign Language Film category, The Club is a disturbing, deliberately-paced drama for the very open-minded directed by Pablo Larrain (Post Mortem). The picture is set at a mountaintop estate nestled along the Chilean seacoast where a half-dozen defrocked clergymen have been sent to repent.
The secluded retreat is run with a firm hand by Sister Monica (Antonia Zegers), a disgraced nun with a checkered past of her own. Nevertheless. it's her job to enforce house rules dictated by the Vatican including no communication with outsiders, no cell phones, no self-pleasuring, no self-flagellation, and a vow of poverty.
Consequently, the former pastors' Spartan-like daily regime consists of little more than chores, attending mass, confessing their sins and praying the rosary between meals. Still, there is much to be gleaned from the clerics' conversations among themselves.
This one feigns innocence, claiming, "I didn't commit a crime. I'm not a queer." Another, ostensibly wracked with guilt, eventually finds a gun and shoots himself in the head, when he can no longer live with himself. And there's an unrepentant soul who says "I see the light of the Lord in homosexuality," arguing that man-boy love brings one closer to God than heterosexuality.
Rules are made to be broken, and the plot thickens when a housemate sneaks into town where he forges a friendship with a fellow pederast offering to procure all the local kids he'd like to rape. Will he or won't he take the creep up on the offer?
An eerily-unsettling examination of pedophilia from the perspective of the perpetrators suggesting that these sex offenders might not be monsters, but merely misunderstood children of God.
Very Good (3 stars)
In Spanish with subtitles
Running time: 97 minutes
Distributor: Music Box Films
DVD Extras: Commentary by co-stars Alfredo Castro and Antonia Zegers; interviews with Antonia Zegers and director Pablo Larrain; Berlinale press conference excerpt; and a collector's booklet featuring cast and crews interviews and an essay by film critic Jessica Kiang.
To see a trailer for The Club, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e8c2DYoF7lA
Posted by Kam at 7:08 PM
BIG BUDGET FILMS
Posted by Kam at 2:37 PM
Wednesday, April 27, 2016
Film Review by Kam Williams
Jewish Baker Takes Muslim Apprentice in Unlikely-Buddies Dramedy
Nat (Jonathan Pryce) is the owner of Dayan and Son, a Kosher bakery located in London. The store's name is a bit of a misnomer since he's been the only Dayan working there ever since his father passed away.
Excellent (4 stars)
Running time: 94 minutes
Studio: Viva Films
Distributor: Menemsha Films
To see a trailer for Dough, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GbSsw_PETLI
Posted by Kam at 1:00 PM
Monday, April 25, 2016
Posted by Kam at 1:30 PM
Sunday, April 24, 2016
by Kam Williams
Eco-Documentary Assesses State of the Gulf of Mexico Six Years after Catastrophic Oil Spill
On April 20, 2010, an explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon oil rig claimed 11 lives while igniting a fireball that could be seen as far as 40 miles away. The blowout also triggered a leak of over 200 million gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico, the worst spill in American history.
Short term, the frightening disaster certainly had a catastrophic effect on the Gulf's fisheries, fauna, water and wildlife. Nevertheless, many wondered whether the region would ever recover from the tragedy.
A team of experts decided to tackle that question, and the upshot of that effort is Dispatches from the Gulf, an eco-documentary directed by Hal Weiner (Journey to Planet Earth). Narrated by Matt Damon, the film relates some very surprising findings on the part of the scientists.
For example, they learned that "the sun has done a remarkable job of breaking down the oil molecules." About half of the petroleum slime has evaporated, a quarter of it washed up on beaches, and the other quarter was either burned or siphoned off by dispersants.
In terms of the seafood industry, it turns out that Gulf fish have substantially recovered, although they are generally smaller than they used to be. However, they did discover contaminated coral still consuming oil on the ocean floor when they descended via submersible to a depth of 5,000 feet.
In the end, the group concluded that the monitoring of the Gulf must continue, as there are no easy answers and no quick fixes for this unprecedented, man-made calamity with unanticipated fallout remaining a distinct possibility. Meanwhile, the next time you're in New Orleans, consider it perfectly safe to order the gumbo again!
Excellent (4 stars)
Running time: 60 minutes
To see a trailer for Dispatches from the Gulf, visit: http://youtu.be/p_yD9ABHWdA
Posted by Kam at 11:53 PM
by Kam Williams
Reverential Retrospective Revisits Life and Career of Charismatic Pop Artist
David Hockney was born in Bradford, England in 1937 which means that his formative years were substantially shaped by World War II, from the air raids to the food rationing. He attended both the Bradford College of Art and the Royal College of Art before scraping up just enough money to move to the United States.
In 1964, he settled in California where he became one of the seminal founders of the Pop Art movement. Like his contemporary Andy Warhol, Hockney had a knack for drawing the attention of the press, between his bleached blond hair and his flamboyant wardrobe.
But while both icons were gay, only David dared to feature homoerotic themes in his art. Despite the stigma associated with homosexuality back in the Sixties, he still managed to achieve enormous success.
That enduring career as well as his self-indulgent private life prove to be fertile fodder for Hockney, a reverential biopic featuring a mix of home movie footage and intimate interviews with David's friends and associates. The intriguing documentary marks the feature film
directorial debut of Randall Wright, who does a great job of humanizing his subject to the point where you really feel as though you know this inscrutable, if charismatic public figure.
A fascinating examination of the mind, motivations and legacy of one of the 20th Century's most important, modern artists.
Excellent (4 stars)
Running time: 112 minutes
Distributor: Film Movement
To see a trailer for Hockney, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zFRyJ0GyNHw
Posted by Kam at 11:27 AM
Saturday, April 23, 2016
by Kam Williams
Millennial Generation's Variation on "The Big Chill" Arrives on DVD
Bodhi was a popular guy back in high school several years ago. So, when he passed away unexpectedly from an aneurysm, it's no surprise that many of his friends might decide to return home to attend the funeral.
Among the pals descending on Albuquerque for the services is Miguel (Eli Vargas) who picks up a pregnant hitchhiker (Sasha Pieterse) en route from Chicago. Another is Miguel's roommate, Dylan (Landon Liboiron) whose mom (Virginia Madsen) hasn't seen her son since he went away to college.
Then there's Ember (Cody Horn), a promiscuous bimbo who admits to sleeping with Bodhi despite identifying herself as a lesbian. And Katy (Kaley Cuoco), who has a child being raised by her grandmother, is out on probation after spending time behind bars for drug possession and for leading police on a high-speed car chase.
This motley crew of mourners and a few others reunite to reminisce, imbibe and asses the state of their lives in Burning Bodhi, an alternately whimsical and sobering meditation on mortality. The movie marks the outstanding writing and directorial debut of Matthew McDuffie who exhibits quite a knack for capturing the attitudes and angst of today's twenty-somethings.
His pithy dialogue is laced with lots of memorable lines like, "May the light at the end of the tunnel is just you coming out of another vagina." Executing the flip script is a very talented ensemble led by The Big Bang Theory's Kaley Cuoco who exhibits an impressive acting range in a role far afield from the person (Penny) she plays on that popular sitcom.
The plot thickens when Dylan's jealous girlfriend Lauren (Meghann Fahey) shows up in time to put the kibosh on any rekindling of romance between him and his ex, Katy. Meanwhile, Ember can hardly contain her crush on Katy, who was dumped by Dylan for sleeping with dearly departed Bodhi right after he left for the Windy City. And so forth.
To summarize in 25 words or less, this compelling, character-driven soap opera examines the incestuous coupling, uncoupling, re-coupling, revelations and regrets among a wacky clique of world-weary ex-classmates. A trendy, Millennial Generation variation on The Big Chill which gives that beloved classic a real run for its money.
Excellent (4 stars)
Rated R for profanity, sexual references and drug use.
Running time: 93 minutes
Distributor: Monterey Video
DVD Extras: Interviews with the actors.
To see a trailer for Burning Bodhi, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Va17FzfuEjo
Posted by Kam at 6:48 AM
Friday, April 22, 2016
This Week’s DVD Releases
Posted by Kam at 3:24 PM
Posted by Kam at 6:50 AM
Wednesday, April 20, 2016
Writer/director/author/producer Kimberly Conner is the founder of Predestined Arts
& Entertainment. An honors graduate of Eastern Illinois University, Kim has been a
finalist in several screenwriting competitions, including the Hollywood Black Film
Festival, the Urban Media Makers Film Festival in Atlanta, and the Screenwriting
Program at the University of Southern California. Her directorial debut, This Life Ain’t Pretty, was based on a true story. The socially-
conscious short film challenges stereotypical beliefs associated with HIV/AIDS in
young, black, heterosexual America. Kim’s first full-length feature, Jump In, revolved
around a law school graduate/single-mom's quest to pass the bar exam. En route,
she is blindsided by the unthinkable, family ties are pushed to the limit, and
astounding revelations unfold. Here, she talks about her new film, Before 'I Do,' an ensemble drama which is set
to premiere in her hometown of Springfield, Illinois on April 30, 2016 at the Hoogland
Center For the Arts.
Posted by Kam at 2:15 PM