Monday, February 27, 2017
Posted by Kam at 7:47 AM
Saturday, February 25, 2017
Blu-ray Review by Kam Williams
Homoerotic Bildungsroman Dramatizes Perils of Growing Up Gay in the 'Hood
It isn't bad enough that Chiron (Alex R. Hibbert/Ashton Sanders/Trevante Rhodes) is being raised by an emotionally-unavailable, drug-addicted, single-mom (Naomie Harris). The shy youngster also has the misfortune of having to hide the fact that he's gay, since he's experiencing pangs of sexual awakening in the midst of an African-American, ghetto culture which is homophobic to the point of violence.
Consequently, he finds himself not only being teased for being a "faggot" by a school bully (Patrick Decile) but sadistically beaten to a pulp by his best friend and secret lover, Kevin (Jaden Piner/Jharrel Jerome/Andre Holland). This sorry state of affairs has understandably left the closeted kid terribly confused.
Fortunately, Chiron's mom's dealer, Juan (Mahershala Ali), and his wife, Teresa (Janelle Monae), have taken a personal interest in his welfare. They let Chiron crash at their crib whenever things get crazy at his dysfunctional mom's apartment. So, at least he has a father figure, even if it's the person pushing the poison that turned his mother into an irresponsible crack whore.
Such are the dire circumstances collaborating to torpedo the troubled protagonist's potential in Moonlight, a homoerotic coming of age flick written and directed by Barry Jenkins (Medicine for Melancholy). nominated for 8 Oscars, including Best Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Supporting Actor (Mahershala Ali) and Supporting Actress (Naomie Harris), the introspective mood piece follows the lead character's evolution from age 9 into adulthood, with Chiron and Kevin each being played by a trio of different actors.
The picture convincingly conveys the sheer desperation of an abandoned street urchin searching for an oasis of sanity in a hostile world without refuge. Though this picture never offers any easy answers, it certainly will nevertheless resonate with countless black gays who've survived similar abuse during formative years spent negotiating their way through a merciless, macho, inner-city gauntlet
A decidedly-dystopic perspective of growing up gay in the 'hood.
Excellent (4 stars)
Rated R for sexuality, drug use, pervasive profanity, ethnic slurs and graphic violence
Running time: 111 minutes
Studio: Plan B Entertainment
Distributor: Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Extras: Audio commentary with writer/director Barry Jenkins; Ensemble of Emotion: The Making of Moonlight; Poetry through Collaboration: The Music of Moonlight; and Cruel Beauty: Filming in Miami.
Posted by Kam at 9:49 AM
Friday, February 24, 2017
Posted by Kam at 1:47 PM
OPENING THIS WEEK
BIG BUDGET FILMS
Posted by Kam at 4:35 AM
Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Cube made his feature film debut in 1991 in Boyz n the Hood, and proceeded to parlay his critically-acclaimed performance into an enviable career. He has become one of the most bankable names in Hollywood as a writer, star and producer.
His production company, Cube Vision, has been making memorable films for over two decades. And his movies have cumulatively grossed over a billion dollars at the box office. Here, he talks about his latest outing in Fist Fight, a comedy co-starring Charlie Day.
Posted by Kam at 2:51 PM
Tuesday, February 21, 2017
Very Good (3 stars)
Rated PG-13 for sensuality, profanity and ethnic slurs
Running time: 111 minutes
Studio: Harbinger Pictures
Distributor: Fox Searchlight Pictures
To see a trailer for A United Kingdom, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pX5vI4osR50
Posted by Kam at 1:58 PM
Monday, February 20, 2017
DVD Review by Kam Willams
Susan Morrow (Amy Adams) hears from her estranged, ex-husband Edward (Jake Gyllenhaal) for the first time in almost 20 years when he mails her an advance copy of his upcoming novel, "Nocturnal Animals." Not only is she surprised to discover that he's dedicated the book to her, but that he'd like to get together for dinner the next time he's in Los Angeles.
Far more unsettling is Edward's semi-autobiographical manuscript which seems to be making thinly-veiled references to their failed marriage. While Susan had managed to move on with her life, it is suddenly apparent to her that he'd remained stuck in the past and might now be rehashing their relationship as a literary form of therapy.
After all, back when they were dating, Susan had been warned by her imperious, well-heeled mother (Laura Linney) that she'd regret tying the knot with a romantic, aspiring writer from a relatively-humble background. Sure enough, the family matriarch knew best, as the mismatched couple did eventually divorce.
However, while Susan went on to become a celebrated art curator and to remarry a businessman (Armie Hammer) who could afford to keep her living in the lap of luxury, Edward has yet to achieve anything approaching their level of success. Instead, the emotionally-stunted scribe has ostensibly been venting all of his angst in an opus that truly frightens his former wife.
It is abundantly clear that the novel's unstable protagonist, Tony Hastings (Jake Gyllenhaal), is based on Edward, and that the salacious series of events chronicled in the oft-gruesome text are the product of a terribly troubled mind. The only reason Susan might even entertain the idea of a rendezvous with a man she hasn't even spoken to in a couple of decades, against her better judgment, is the fact that she's just learned that her second hubby is having an affair.
So unfolds Nocturnal Animals, a cerebral suspense thriller directed and adapted by Tom Ford from the Austin Wright best seller, "Tony and Susan." The movie's only Oscar nomination was landed by veteran thespian Michael Shannon in the Best Supporting Actor category.
The film revolves around a sublime deconstruction of Susan's shifting mental state, from her present-day predicament, to flashbacks of her relationship with Edward, to her perspective of disturbing scenes from his unpublished novel. A haunting deconstruction, worthy of Hitchcock, of a vulnerable socialite's very fragile psyche.
Excellent (4 stars)
Rated R for menacing, violence, profanity and graphic nudity
Running time: 116 minutes
Distributor: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack Extras: Three Making of Nocturnal Animals featurettes: Building the Story; The Look of Nocturnal Animals; and The Filmmaker's Eye: Tom Ford.
Posted by Kam at 3:49 PM
Premieres nationwide Tuesday, February 21 at 8 p.m. on PBS (check local listings)
PBS-TV Review by Kam Williams
Maya Angelou (1928-2014) was born Marguerite Annie Johnson,in St. Louis, Missouri on April 4, 1928 to parents for whom she and her big brother Bailey soon became a burden. When Maya was just 3, the siblings were sent alone by train to live with their paternal grandmother in Arkansas where they would be terrorized by the Ku Klux Klan.
At 7, Maya moved back to St. Louis, only to be molested by her now single mother's boyfriend. When she reported the rape, the perpetrator was soon murdered under mysterious circumstances.
Maya subsequently fell mute and was shipped back to her grandma's house. Although she couldn't talk, she did take to reading like a fish to water. And by the time she spoke again at the age of 12, she'd become very acquainted with the classics ranging from Shakespeare to Langston Hughes to Edgar Allan Poe.
Unfortunately, exposure to great literature didn't save Maya from further trauma, as she would become a single-mom at 17 after being pressured into a sexual encounter with a boy who wanted nothing more to do with her. She subsequently supported herself and her son, Guy, by holding an array of odd jobs, including work in the sex trade industry as a stripper, prostitute and even a madam.
Yet somehow, Maya would overcome her humble roots and checkered early career to become an African-American icon and a very respected writer in her own right. That miraculous recovery is the subject of Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise, a reverential retrospective offering an intimate look at the life of the late poet/author/actress/director/civil rights activist.
Co-directed by Bob Hercules and Rita Coburn Whack, the film features heartfelt reflections by an array of luminaries, including Bill and Hillary Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, John Singleton, Cicely Tyson, Dave Chappelle and Valerie Simpson, to name a few. For example, we hear Secretary Clinton refer to her as "a phenomenal woman" while Lou Gossett, Jr. credits her with raising his political consciousness.
Running time: 114 minutes
Posted by Kam at 1:35 PM