Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Meaning of Michelle

The Meaning of Michelle
16 Writers on the Iconic First Lady
and How Her Journey Inspires Our Own
Edited by Veronica Chambers
St. Martin's Press
Hardcover, $24.99
236 pages
ISBN: 978-1-250-11496-9

Book Review by Kam Williams

Michelle Obama is unlike any other First Lady in American History. From her first moment on the public stage, she has challenged traditional American notions about what it means to be beautiful, to be strong, to be fashion conscious, to be healthy, to be First Mom, to be a caretaker and hostess, and to be partner to the most powerful man in the world. What is remarkable is that, at 52, she is just getting started.
A rollicking, lively, dinner-party conversation about race, class, marriage, creativity, womanhood, and what it means to be American today, The Meaning of Michelle offers a parting gift for a landmark moment in American history.”
-- Excerpted from the Bookjacket

Barack Obama made history by becoming the first African-American President of the United States. Of almost equal significance was Michelle Obama's becoming the first black First Lady.

Just as her husband undoubtedly inspired a generation of marginalized youngsters to believe that they could achieve anything they set their minds to, Michelle was a transformative figure in her own way, including the way she helped the world appreciate black beauty. Because of the high visibility of her position, almost single-handedly, she managed to successfully challenge the culture's narrow definition of beauty based on European features. 
For this and myriad other reasons, Michelle was embraced by fellow black females. And many of them are delineated in The Meaning of Michelle, a reverential retrospective acknowledging a debt of gratitude owed to a much-beloved icon. 
Edited by Veronica Chambers, the book is composed of 16 essays by a variety of admirers, each accomplished in their own right. One, Chirlaine McCray, is even a First Lady, being married to New York's Mayor, Bill de Blasio. 
The diverse list of contributors includes luminaries from all walks of life, including filmmaker Ava DuVernay, Harvard professor Sarah Lewis, mezzo-soprano Alicia Hall Moran, and best-selling novelist Benilde Little, to name a few. Consider this offering by DuVernay who waxes romantic reflecting upon a "First Lady with pride, panache and polish." 
A priceless keepsake positioning for posterity Michelle Obama as a positive role-model for the ages.

To order a copy of The Meaning of Michelle, visit:



Sunday, January 29, 2017

I Am Not Your Negro

I Am Not Your Negro
Film Review by Kam Williams

Oscar-Nominated Documentary Inspired by James Baldwin's Unfinished Manuscript

When novelist/social critic James Baldwin passed away in 1987, he left behind an unfinished opus entitled "Remember This House." The 30-page manuscript assessed the plight of African-Americans in the United States while specifically reflecting upon the assassinations of three civil rights icons: Malcolm X, Medgar Evers and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

With I Am Not Your Negro, director Raoul Peck (Lumumba) fleshes out Baldwin's musings, cinematically, into a searing indictment of the United States as an unapologetically-racist nation. Narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, the movie has been nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Documentary category. 
The focus of the film never strays far from Baldwin, nimbly alternating between archival footage of the fiery figure challenging the status quo and Jackson's readings from "Remember This House" and his other writings. Again and again, we hear him question the depth of the country's commitment to reverse the damage inflicted upon the black community by generations of slavery, lynchings and Jim Crow segregation.

For example, he asserts that most Caucasians are perfectly comfortable relegating African-Americans to a second-class status. He even goes so far as to refer to them as morally-blind monsters for seeing blacks as sub-human. Until that attitude is eradicated, whites will never recognize that "I am flesh of their flesh."

Baldwin concludes that "The story of the Negro in America is the story of America." Therefore, with black and white fates inextricably linked, "It's not a question of what happens to the Negro. The real question is what is going to happen to this country." 
Given the precarious state of race relations, the late visionary's prescient insights perhaps prove more timely, posthumously, than in their own day.

Excellent (4 stars)
Rated PG-13 for profanity, mature themes, violent images and brief nudity`
Running time: 95 minutes
Distributor: Magnolia Pictures

To see a trailer for I Am Not Your Negro, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rNUYdgIyaPM

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Top Ten DVD List for January 31, 2016

by Kam Williams

This Week’s DVD Releases

Queen of Katwe

The Handmaiden

Ballers: The Complete Second Season

Masterpiece: Victoria

Boo! A Madea Halloween

Lair of the White Worm

Parents [Collector's Series]

Barbie: Video Game Hero

Smithsonian: The Weapon Hunter

Tyler Perry's Madea on the Run [The Play]

Honorable Mention

Million-Dollar American Princesses: The Complete Collection

Boo! A Madea Halloween

Blu-ray Review by Kam Williams  

Tyler Perry Back as Sassy Granny for Coarse Comedy

No one has ever accused Tyler Perry of being short on ideas. After all, the prolific writer/director has been the brains behind a profusion of plays, movies and television shows. But he would be the first to admit that he was not the source of inspiration for Boo! A Madea Halloween, the ninth in the Madea series revolving around the sassy, sermonizing granny.

Rather, the idea originated with Chris Rock, who featured a fake poster for a film with the identical title in his 2014 comedy Top Five. Because the joke went viral, Tyler decided why not get back in drag and make a movie to meet the demand generated by the buzz. 
But Boo! definitely has a different feel from the previous Madea movies in that it is less your typical Tyler Perry morality play than a rudderless, kitchen sink comedy seizing on any excuse for a laugh. For, the Madea found here is no longer that Bible-thumping role model reliably interfering on behalf of an underdog in distress. Yes, one minute, she's might be promoting old-fashioned values. However, there she is in the next scene exposing her breasts to lecherous frat boys. 
The film does feature a rudimentary plot revolving around Madea's 17 year-old grand-niece, Tiffany (Diamond White). Note that the premise is established at the point of departure and promptly abandoned. It's Halloween, and the headstrong high schooler and her girlfriends hope to attend an "epic" party being thrown at Upsilon Theta frat house. 
Since her divorced father (also played by Perry) will be otherwise occupied, it falls to Madea to babysit Tiffany, to make sure the rebellious teen never leaves the house. Made arrives with an entourage of amusing misfits, including marijuana-addicted Aunt Bam (Cassi Davis), marble-mouthed Hattie (Patrice Lovely), and old fool Uncle Joe (also played by Perry). 
Soon, silly Halloween-themed one-liners, non sequiturs, slapstick and sight gags start flowing at a fast and furious rate that will undoubtedly be appreciated by the target, African-American audience. Yet, many of the punchlines are just as likely to be lost on those unable to decipher the often-inscrutable ebonics-laden exchanges. 
Brace yourself for the specter of self-righteous Madea serving up street justice to clowns, collegiates, ghosts and goblins!

Good (2 stars)
Rated PG-13 for drug use, suggestive content, profanity, ethnic slurs, scary images and mature themes
Running time: 103 minutes
Distributor: Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Blu-ray extras: "Boo! From the Crew montage; and Why We Love Madea! featurette.

To see a trailer for Boo! A Madea Halloween, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-sPHseSGr9Q
To order a copy of Boo! A Madea Halloween on Blu-ray, visit:

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Kam's Kapsules for movies opening February 3, 2017

Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun
by Kam Williams



Rings (PG-13 for violence, terror, mature themes, drug use and some sexuality) Supernatural prequel to The Ring, revolving around a young couple (Alex Roe and Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz) who, against their better judgment, decide to explore an urban legend about a videotape that kills its viewers a week after they watch it. Cast includes Aimee Teegarden, Johnny Galecki, Laura Wiggins and Vincent D'Onofrio.

The Space between Us (PG-13 for profanity and brief sensuality) Futuristic sci-fi adventure about a boy born on Mars (Asa Butterfield) who travels to Earth to find the father he's never known and the street-smart girl (Britt Robertson) he met online. With Gary Oldman, Janet Montgomery, BD Wong and Carla Gugino.


American Violence (Unrated) Psychological thriller revolving around a shrink (Denise Richards) hired to determine whether or not an inmate (Kaiwi Lyman-Mersereau) on Death Row deserves a stay of execution. With Columbus Short, Bruce Dern and Michael Pare.

Chapter & Verse (Unrated) Unlikely-buddies drama about a gang leader-turned-Meals on Wheels deliveryman (Daniel Beaty) who forges a friendship with a 75 year-old, shut in (Loretta Devine) on his route. Featuring Omari Hardwick, Selenis Leyva and Khadim Diop.

The Comedian (R for pervasive profanity and crude sexual references) Robert De Niro handles the title role in this coarse comedy chronicling the effort of a former, TV star to mount a comeback doing standup. Ensemble cast includes Danny DeVito, Leslie Mann, Billy Crystal, Harvey Keitel, Jimmy Walker, Patti Lupone, Gilbert Gottfried, Hannibal Buress and Charles Grodin.

Confidential Assignment (Unrated) Action adventure about a North Korean detective (Hyun Bin) who joins forces with a South Korean cop (Hae-jin Yoo) to apprehend a refugee mob boss (Ju-hyuk Kim) on the lam. With Young-nam Jang, Dong-hwi Lee and Yoona. (In Korean with subtitles)

The Grace of Jake (Unrated) Musical dramedy about a just-paroled convict (Jake La Botz) who steals a car and drives from California to Arkansas in search of his long-lost dad (Michael Beck). With Jordin Sparks, Lew Temple and Ravi Kapoor.

Growing Up Smith (PG-13 for profanity and brief drug use) Coming-of-age comedy, set in 1979, about a 10 year-old Indian immigrant's (Roni Akurati) obsessive pursuit of his idea of the American Dream. With Jason Lee, Hilarie Burton and Anjul Nigam.

I Am Not Your Negro (PG-13 for profanity, mature themes, violent images and brief nudity) Civil rights documentary, narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, examining James Baldwin's views on race in America as expressed in an unfinished manuscript entitled, "Remember This House." Featuring archival footage of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X and Medgar Evers.

Midsummer in Newtown (Unrated) Bittersweet documentary highlighting how the citizens of a shattered Connecticut town turned to art to recover from the mass murder of 26 elementary school students and teachers.

Oklahoma City (Unrated) Domestic terror documentary revisiting the events leading up to the 1995 bombing of a federal office building which claimed 168 lives and injured 680 other people.

War on Everyone (R for violence, nudity, sexuality, drug use and pervasive profanity) Crime comedy about a couple of corrupt cops (Alexander Skarsgard and Michael Pena) who get more than they bargained for when they try to shakedown a strip club manager (Caleb Landry Jones). With Theo James, Tessa Thompson and Paul Reiser.

Youth in Oregon (Unrated) Road dramedy about an embittered 80 year-old (Frank Langella) who finds a new reason to live while being driven by his son-in-law (Billy Crudup) to Oregon where he's supposed to be euthanized. Support cast includes Mary Kay Place, Christina Applegate and Josh Lucas.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Vin Diesel

The “xXx: Return of Xander Cage” Interview

with Kam Williams

High-Octane "Vin"-Sanity!

A native of New York City, Vin Diesel is one of Hollywood’s hottest movie stars. In addition to his huge box-office success, Vin is a prominent producer and filmmaker and has been honored with both a Hands and Footprint Ceremony at Grauman's Chinese Theatre as well as a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. 
Furious 7, which he starred in and produced, grossed more than $1.5 billion in worldwide box-office and is the #1 grossing film in China’s history. In 2013, he starred in and produced the box-office smash hit Fast & Furious 6, which grossed almost $800 million worldwide. 
He is also set to star in the highly-anticipated The Fate of the Furious which will be in theaters on April 14th and in Disney’s Guardians of the Galaxy 2 which will be released in May. Here, Vin talks about reprising the title role in xXx: Return of Xander Cage.

Kam Williams: Hey Vin, thanks for the time.
Vin Diesel: Yo, Kam, what's up?

KW: Not much.
VD: What happened, bro? I thought you were going to be here today?

KW: Couldn't make it into the city, so I have to do the interview by phone. You know, I was just talking to my brother who mentioned that he taught your nephew Tyler who graduated from Brooklyn Friends School last year. He said he's a great kid that everybody loved.
VD: Oh, that's so dope! Small world, Kam.

KW: He said that they're all big fans of yours, too. You did sequels to Pitch Black and The Fast and the Furious, but previously declined when it came to the xXx franchise. What made you finally decide to reprise the role of Xander Cage?
VD: The reason I declined in 2002 was sort of a silly reason. The studio had promised me that I was going to be able to direct Hannibal, and they wanted me to do xXx 2 before Hannibal. But the script wasn't strong enough for me to do that. It had become something other than xXx. It was more like Three Days of the Condor without the fun of xXx. But, in truth, a large part of my decision was based on my feeling that I had been promised that I would be able to direct Hannibal the Conqueror. After I produced the fourth Fast and Furious film, and saw the success of that, I was inspired and challenged by the idea of creating these sagas, these franchises. It took about another seven years to get it right. so, it was about 2009 when I made the decision to do it, and it took from that time 'til now to realize it.

KW: Well, it was worth the wait, because it really brings you back to the original xXx in terms of the special f/x and the stunts. I also love how the dialogue is laced with all those double entendres reminiscent of 007.
VD: [Laughs] Totally! It is America's answer to James Bond, for sure.

KW: It even has a bevy of beauties in Deepika Padukone, Ruby Rose, Nina Dobrev, Hermione Corfeld and more, xXx's equivalent of Bond girls.
VD: I remember when we were in production. there were some articles written saying that this was the best cast ever assembled. It's so eclectic. The women are so strong and formidable and beautiful. They kick ass in their own right. And then it's novel and cool that this is a multi-cultural, global cast from different film markets from all over the world. It marks the start of Hollywood venturing beyond the confines of Hollywood to recruit talent. We now have a global audience. It is no longer the case that we're just making movies for America. Now, we're making movies for the world. So, why not invite celebrated talent from those respective markets into your global film?

KW: And they all mesh seamlessly, here. I've seen my share of movies with international casts where there's no chemistry.
VD: That's fair to say, Kam.

KW: But you've pulled it off successfully.
VD: Yeah, it's exciting. Thank you.

KW: Vin, what would you say was your biggest challenge in returning to the role of xXx?
VD: Time! these other studios can get very Mafia. Universal never wanted me to make this movie. They would just love to keep the golden goose at Universal, and just keep turning out their billion-dollar franchise, from my being the brainchild of it, to then going on set and producing and acting in it. So, it really was a matter of time where I had one little window of opportunity at the beginning of 2016 where I could go make the movie. And we just went for it! To be 100% honest, that how Hollywood is nowadays. Most people don't realize that. These studios can be very proprietary.

KW: Really? I had no idea. I thought the studio system ended back in the Forties.
VD: You wouldn't think it, because Universal would never admit it. I'm not their movie star. I'm their George Lucas. I'm the person creating the saga through many, many pictures. But they'll never tell you that. They'll pretend that I'm just coming to the set and driving cars. They're not going to acknowledge that I'm also the one who's creating this full, intricate saga, and DMing it over the years. Anybody that's on the inside would tell you that. Hollywood can get ruthless. I just shared some of the inside scoop, since I've known you for a long time. But that's how Mafia this is.

KW: Thanks. You know who else was great in this movie? Tony Gonzalez, the former NFL star.
VD: Wasn't he good? He'd never acted before. This was his first feature film. You're talking about one of the best football players in history, and he walks onto the set and just kills it! Tony Gonzalez was incredible. He enhanced the picture.
He brought something to the table. His work ethic was dope! And when he wasn't filming, you'd find him standing around the set trying to learn everything he could. You could see what a winner he is, and why he was a winner in his field.

KW: I think he was even a star basketball player in college.
VD: He was! When you have that dedication it shows. He did not hold anything back. I'm so proud of what he accomplished.

KW: The rest of the cast was good, too.
VD: I'm proud of all of them. Hey, I'm gonna share this text from my sister [Samantha Vincent] only with you, Kam, since I know you so damn long. She produced this picture, and produces the Fast & Furious franchise. Hold on a second, man... Here it is. She goes: "Seriously, in all my years working with you, I don't think I've ever seen such a unified, hard-working cast. It's literally the most hopeful, open, optimistic, present group of people ever." That's from my sister who's always on the set and producing all these movies. Ain't that hot?

KW: Absolutely! Thanks for the exclusive, Vin. Harriet Pakula-Teweles asks: With so many classic films being redone, is there a remake you'd like to star in?
VD: Oh my God! Just hearing you ask that makes me think of a bunch of remakes I'd love to do. It Happened One Night... On the Waterfront's is one of my all-time favorite films. And there's something to be said for Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. I'd love to put a multi-cultural spin on all those movies.

KW: Ling-Ju Yen asks: What is your earliest childhood memory?
VD: Well, the first movie I remember was a picture called The Thief of Baghdad. It was directed by Michael Powell and starred an Indian actor named Sabu. When I was a kid, we couldn't afford to got to concerts or Broadway plays. That was way out of our price league. But we could go to the movies. we'd go to 42nd Street, and share a $1.50 bowl of chicken lo mein before going to see a movie. Since we lived in Manhattan, we'd walk home afterwards. And while walking home, my father would always break down the movie we just saw. He started doing this when I was just 5 years-old. that gave me the ability to be a producer. As you know, before I did Saving Private Ryan, I directed Multi-Facial and Strays. I would never have gotten Private Ryan if I hadn't made those movies. And in some ways, I never stopped directing.

KW: The Viola Davis question: What’s the biggest difference between who you are at home as opposed to the person we see on the red carpet?
VD: Wow! That's a great question. When I'm at home, I'm just Daddy. I'm at peace, and not self-aware at all. On the red carpet, I'm a commodity. I realize that, for that moment, I belong to the world, in a way. I try to maintain my truth and my individuality, but I'm mindful that anything I do or say could easily be misconstrued. They're two very different worlds. I don't even know if I could articulate just how different they are in one conversation. The person I am at home is so at peace. But even my family knows that once I go out those doors I belong to the world.

KW: I would guess that you have to be even more careful about what you say and protective of your privacy between the 24-hour news cycle and the snarkiness of internet trolls. .
VD: Yeah! Who the hell knew we were going to have to become governors of our fan base, and have to manage so much social media, and decide what you're going to share. A decade ago all this didn't exist. Now, you'll find Samuel L. Jackson feeding his social media.

KW: I'm glad you brought him back for this sequel.
VD: I had to. Sam was just to important to me and to the franchise. After I signed to headline the first xXx, one of the proudest moments of my life was when I heard he was coming aboard to co-star. I felt such a huge sense of validation. And the pride he took in the project gave me the faith and the confidence to keep going in this industry.

KW: This movie has a number of great twists that it would be unfair for us to spoil.
VD: Yeah, the twists are fun. You can go to the movie and have a blast, but there is also a message after the dust settles.

KW: Lastly, as Samuel L. Jackson asks in the commercial, what’s in your wallet?
VD: I don't even have my wallet with me. I'm not joking! I'm just one of those kids that's just all creativity. My mind is just focused on creativity.

KW: Thanks again for the time, Vin, and best of luck with this film .
VD: Always good to talk to you, Kam.

KW: I look forward to chatting with you about Fast & Furious 8 in the spring.
VD: Next time, come over here, man, and let's do a face-to-face.

To see a trailer for xXx: Return of Xander Cage, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQEFmHsseaU

2017 Oscar Nominations

by Kam Williams

La La Lands Record 14 Academy Award Nominations
Academy Also Embraces Diversity

After winning a record number of Golden Globes, it's no surprise that La La Land might garner a record-tying 14 Oscar nominations. Damien Chazelle's enchanting homage to the Hollywood musical is up for Academy Awards in the Best Picture, Director, Lead Actor (Ryan Gosling), Lead Actress (Emma Stone), Song, Original Screenplay, Original Score and other categories.

The Academy also embraced diversity this year, nominating 7 actors of color: Denzel Washington and Viola Davis for Fences, Mahershala Ali and Naomie Harris for Moonlight, Octavia Spencer for Hidden Figures, Ruth Negga for Loving and Dev Patel for Lion. Moonlight, the Golden Globe-winning Best Drama about growing up gay in the 'hood, landed 8 nominations in all, including Barry Jenkins' for Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay.

Perennial nominee Meryl Streep made history with her 20th nomination for Florence Foster Jenkins, and director Ava DuVernay, overlooked by Oscar for Selma a year ago, was recognized this time around in the Best Documentary category for 13th. The Academy Awards are set to air live on ABC-TV on Sunday, February 26th at 8:30 pm ET. The show will be staged at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood and hosted by Jimmy Kimmel.

Complete List of Academy Award Nominations

Best Picture
“Hacksaw Ridge”
“Hell or High Water”
“Hidden Figures”
“La La Land”
“Manchester by the Sea”

Lead Actor
Casey Affleck, “Manchester by the Sea”
Andrew Garfield, “Hacksaw Ridge”
Ryan Gosling, “La La Land,”
Viggo Mortensen, “Captain Fantastic”
Denzel Washington, “Fences”

Lead Actress
Isabelle Huppert, “Elle”
Ruth Negga, “Loving”
Natalie Portman, “Jackie”
Emma Stone, “La La Land”
Meryl Streep, “Florence Foster Jenkins”

Supporting Actor
Mahershala Ali, “Moonlight”
Jeff Bridges, “Hell or High Water”
Lucas Hedges, “Manchester by the Sea”
Dev Patel, “Lion”
Michael Shannon, “Nocturnal Animals”

Supporting Actress
Viola Davis, “Fences”
Naomie Harris, “Moonlight”
Nicole Kidman, “Lion”
Octavia Spencer, “Hidden Figures”
Michelle Williams, “Manchester by the Sea”

Best Director
Damien Chazelle, “La La Land”
Mel Gibson, “Hacksaw Ridge”
Barry Jenkins, “Moonlight”
Kenneth Lonergan, “Manchester by the Sea”
Denis Villeneuve, “Arrival”

Animated Feature
“Kubo and the Two Strings”
“My Life as a Zucchini”
“The Red Turtle”

Animated Short
“Blind Vaysha”
“Borrowed Time”
“Pear Cider and Cigarettes”

Adapted Screenplay
“Hidden Figures”

Original Screenplay
“20th Century Women”
“Hell or High Water”
“La La Land”
“The Lobster”
“Manchester by the Sea”

“La La Land”

Best Documentary Feature
“Fire at Sea”
“I Am Not Your Negro”
“Life, Animated”
“O.J.: Made in America”

Best Documentary Short Subject
“4.1 Miles”
“Joe’s Violin”
“Watani: My Homeland”
“The White Helmets”

Best Live-Action Short Film
“Ennemis Interieurs”
“La Femme et le TGV”
“Silent Nights”

Best Foreign Language Film
“A Man Called Ove”
“Land of Mine”
“The Salesman”
“Toni Erdmann”

Film Editing
“Hacksaw Ridge”
“Hell or High Water”
“La La Land”

Sound Editing
“Deep Water Horizon”
“Hacksaw Ridge”
“La La Land”

Sound Mixing
“Hacksaw Ridge”
“La La Land”
“Rogue One”
“13 Hours”

Production Design
“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”
“Hail Caesar!”
“La La Land”

Original Score
“La La Land”

Original Song
Audition (The Fools Who Dream), “La La Land”
Can’t Stop the Feeling!, “Trolls”
City of Stars, “La La Land”
The Empty Chair, “Jim: The James Foley Story”
How Far I’ll Go, “Moana”

Makeup and Hair
“A Man Called Ove”
“Star Trek Beyond”
“Suicide Squad”

Costume Design
“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”
“Florence Foster Jenkins”
“La La Land”

Visual Effects
“Deepwater Horizon”
“Doctor Strange”
“Jungle Book”
“Kubo and the Two Strings”
“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”

Monday, January 23, 2017

20th Century Women

Film Review by Kam Williams

Mom Enlists Female Assistance Raising Son in Nostalgic Ensemble Drama

Written and directed by Mike Mills (Beginners), 20th Century Women is an inter-generational coming-of-age tale set in Santa Barbara, California in 1979. The nostalgic ensemble drama revolves around the efforts of a neurotic single-mom (Annette Bening) to parent a naive 15 year-old (Lucas Jade Zumann) in dire need of a role model.

The picture's protagonist is Dorothea Fields, a middle-aged chain-smoker who owns the dilapidated rooming house where the bulk of the story is set. Paradoxically, she recruits a couple of considerably-younger females, Abbie (Greta Gerwig) and Julie (Elle Fanning), to help with raising her son, Jamie, conveniently ignoring the availability of a pleasant and ostensibly-plausible father figure in her handyman, William (Billy Crudup). 
Consequently, tenant Abbie tries to indoctrinate the impressionable kid by having him read popular feminist manifestos like "Sisterhood Is Powerful." Meanwhile, worldly-wise Julie, 17, is happy to share a Platonic relationship with him. After all, they've known each other since they were little. 
The engaging ensemble drama intermittently resorts to voiceovered flashbacks to develop each of the lead characters' back stories. First, we hear Jamie ruminating about life with his mom. Then, it's her fretting about understanding him less and less every day. We later hear Abbie's concern about her cervical cancer scare, and Julie's resentment of her therapist mother's forcing her into group therapy sessions. 
When not engaging in personal reminiscences, 20th Century Women effectively transports the audience back to the late Seventies. For, besides resurrecting the era's fashions and decor, the action unfolds against a variety of painstakingly-recreated, period familiar backdrops. In addition, the film's score features an eclectic mix of musical artists ranging from Rudy Vallee to Louie Armstrong to David Bowie to The Talking Heads. 
Though there isn't much of a message to glean from this inappropriately-titled homage to the dawn of female empowerment, one can easily appreciate its vivid triptych of poignant personal portraits.

Excellent (3.5 stars)
Rated R for sexuality, nudity, profanity and brief drug use
Running time: 119 minutes
Distributor: A24 Films

To see a trailer for 20th Century Women, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bxcvng_CpMQ

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Top Ten DVD List for January 24, 2016

This Week’s DVD Releases
by Kam Williams


Peanuts by Schulz: Snoopy Tales

The Man Who Fell to Earth [Limited Collector's Edition]

The Code: Season 2

The Light between Oceans


Sea Monsters: The Definitive Guide

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

Guardians of Oz

Honorable Mention

16 for 16: The Contenders

The Incredible Dr. Pol: Season 9

Adventure Time: Islands [Miniseries]


Odd Squad: The Movie

American Experience: The Battle of Chosin

Smithsonian: Polar Bear Town: Season 1

USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage