Sunday, June 24, 2018

Sicario: Day of the Soldado

Film Review by Kam Williams


Feds Fight Bad Hombres in Gory Border War Sequel 
 
I can't think of a movie that has ever been more timely. Just as the debate about the detention of undocumented aliens has reached a fevered pitch, here we have a film revolving around the dark side of the border wars.

It doesn't focus as much on the vast majority of non-violent refugees entering the country in search of the American Dream as on the "bad hombres" Donald Trump has repeatedly alluded to since the day he threw his hat into the ring as a presidential candidate. Although the film is technically a sequel, one need not have seen the original to enjoy this heart-pounding adventure. 
 
Directed by Italy's Stefano Sollima (Suburra) and written by Oscar-nominee Taylor Sheridan (for Hell or High Water), Sicario: Day of the Soldado co-stars Josh Brolin and Benicio del Toro reprising their lead roles as CIA Agent Graver and undercover operative Alejandro Gillick, respectively. 
 
As the film unfolds, we find the two being dispatched to Mexico by the Secretary of Defense (Matthew Modine) to smoke out the human traffickers smuggling radical Islamists into the U.S. There's an urgency to their mission, given that some suicide bombers embedded with Latinos seeking asylum recently snuck across the Rio Grande before blowing themselves up in a big box store in Kansas City.

Trouble is, there are too Mexican gangs and too little time to sort out which one has started exporting terrorist cells. So, instead of searching for the guilty parties, our heroes secretly kidnap the daughter of a crime boss hoping that her mysterious disappearance will trigger a bloody turf war among the cartels competing for control of the region. 
 
There is a method to the madness behind abducting Isabela Reyes (Isabela Moner). After all, her father is the ruthless kingpin who ordered the massacre of Gillick's family in Sicario 1.
The ruse works for awhile, but the plot thickens when the Mexican government catches wind of the spies' scheme. The U.S. disavows any connection to them, a la Mission: Impossible, and suddenly it's each man for himself in a harrowing struggle to escape back to the States by any means necessary. 
 
A riveting, rough-edged, political thriller not to be missed!


Excellent (4 stars)
Rated R for profanity, graphic violence and bloody images
In English and Spanish with subtitles
Running time:122 minutes
Production Studios: Black Label Media / Rai Cinema / Thunder Road Pictures
Distributor: Columbia Pictures


To see a trailer for Sicario: Day of the Soldado, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIMChzE_aCo


Friday, June 22, 2018

Kam's Kapsules for movies opening June 29, 2018



Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun  
by Kam Williams

OPENING THIS WEEK

WIDE RELEASES

Sicario: Day of the Soldado ( R for profanity, graphic violence and bloody images) High-body count, border war sequel finds CIA Agent Graver (Josh Brolin) and undercover operative Alejandro Gillick (Benicio del Toro) re-teaming to take on drug cartels smuggling terrorists and undocumented aliens into the U.S. With Isabela Moner, Catherine Keener and Jeffrey Donovan. (In English and Spanish with subtitles)

Uncle Drew (PG-13 for profanity, suggestive material and brief nudity) NBA star Kyrie Irving handles the title role in this hoops comedy about an elderly street legend who coaxes a bunch of his elderly buddies out of retirement to form a basketball team to compete in Harlem's Rucker Park Tournament. Cast includes Shaq, Tiffany Haddish, LilRel Howery, Reggie Miller, Chris Webber, Nate Robinson, Lisa Leslie, Mike Epss and J.B. Smoove.

INDEPENDENT & FOREIGN

The Cakemaker (Unrated) Romance drama about a gay baker (Tim Kalkhof) who travels from Germany to Jerusalem after his married Israeli lover (Roy Miller) perishes in a car crash. There, he takes a job at his late boyfriend's wife's (Sarah Adler) cafe without letting her know about their secret relationship. With Zohar Shtrauss, Sandra Sade and Stephanie Stremler. (In Hebrew, German and English with subtitles)

Dark River (Unrated) Sibling rivalry drama, set in Yorkshire, England, about a young sheep shearer (Ruth Wilson) who finds herself at odds with her estranged big brother (Mark Stanley) upon returning to their childhood home for their abusive father's (Sean Bean) funeral. Support cast includes Esme Creed-Miles, Aiden McCullough and Steve Garti.

Leave No Trace (PG for mature themes) Dysfunctional family drama about a father (Ben Foster) and teen daughter (Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie) who live off the grid in a forest outside Porland, Oregon until they're discovered by the authorities and placed under the care of social services. With Jeff Kober, Dale Dickey and Dana Millican.

Love, Cecil (Unrated) Reverential biopic about three-time Oscar-winning costume and set designer Cecil Beaton (1904-1980) who worked on such classic films as Gigi, My Fair Lady and Anna Karenina. Featuring commentary by Rupert Everett, David Hockney and Isaac Mizrahi.

Sanju (Unrated) Warts and all biopic chronicling the rise and fall from grace of Sanjay Dutt (Ranbir Kapoor), the star of hundreds of Bollywood films who served time in prison after becoming implicated in Mumbai terrorist attacks. With Sonam Kapoor, Paresh Rawal and Dia Mirza. (In Hindi with subtitles)

This Is Congo (unrated) Political documentary offering an unvarnished look at the lives of three survivors of the most recent cycle of civil unrest in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Three Identical Strangers (PG-13 for mature themes) Skeleton-in-the closet documentary about the deep secret revealing reunion at the age of 19 of triplets separated at birth and adopted by different families.

Woman Walks Ahead (R for profanity and brief violence) Jessica Chastain plays Catherine Weldon in this biopic, set in the 1890s, recounting how the artist became embroiled in the Lakota tribe's struggle to retain their lands when she traveled from Brooklyn to the Dakotas to paint a portrait of Chief Sitting Bull (Michael Greyeyes). Supporting cast includes Sam Rockwell, Ciaran Hinds and David Midthunder. (In English and Sioux with subtitles)

Monday, June 18, 2018

Incredibles 2


Film Review by Kam Williams


Parr Family Back to Battle Diabolical Villain Hypnotizing Humanity

It's hard to fathom why it has taken Disney and Pixar 14 years to release a follow-up to The Incredibles. After all, it not only won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, but it grossed over $600 million at the box office. During the interim, creator Brad Bird instead made Ratatouille (2007), Mission: Impossible (2011) and Tomorrowland (2015) before turning his attention to writing and directing Incredibles 2. 
 
The great news is that this thoroughly entertaining sequel is well worth the wait. And most of the actors playing members of the crime-fighting Parr family are back. Craig T. Nelson and Holly Hunter reprise their roles as parents Bob (Mr. Incredible) and Helen (Elastigirl), as do Eli Fucile and Sarah Vowell as baby Jack Jack and 14 year-old Violet. 10 year-old Dash is now portrayed by Huck Milner, since the original kid's voice deepened.

Samuel L. Jackson has also returned as family friend and fellow superhero Lucius Best/Frozone. Noteworthy additions to the ensemble include Catherine Keener, Isabella Rossellini and Bob Odenkirk.

The picture picks up precisely where the first left off. Jack Jack is still a toddler, but learning to harness the superpowers that had just started to manifest towards the end of the previous episode. At the point of departure, we find the Parrs being forced into retirement by a government agent (Jonathan Banks) because of the costly collateral damage of their last operation. 
 
Of course, that doesn't last long. Helen is soon coaxed back into her stretchy superhero suit by a rich fan (Odenkirk) for a photo op designed to resurrect her disgraced clan's image. The impromptu sex role reversal has Bob staying home to assume the child-rearing and domestic duties.

Next thing you know, Helen is further recruited to subdue Screenslaver (Bill Wise), a pizza delivery guy-turned-hacker who has started hijacking people's computer screens. Might someone else be behind a wider diabolical plot to hypnotize all of humanity? If so, that might call for the rest of the Parrs to morph into their superhero alter egos and join the fight.

What ensues is another visually-captivating, dizzying delight for young and old alike. Pixar and Disney have done it again!


Excellent (4 stars)
Rated PG for action and brief mild epithets
Running time: 118 minutes
Production Studios: Pixar Animation Studios / Walt Disney Pictures
Distributor: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures


To see a trailer for Incredibles 2, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i5qOzqD9Rms

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Top Ten DVD List for April 10, 2018

 
by Kam Williams


This Week's DVD Releases

In Syria

The Death of Stalin

Midnight Sun

Unsane

Paul, Apostle of Christ

The Best of Agatha Christie, Volume 3

The Best of Agatha Christie, Volume 4

Merlin: 3 Film Collection

5 Family Favorites

Action: 9 Movie Collection


Honorable Mention

Pacific Rim: Uprising



Furious

Masterpiece: Man in an Orange Shirt

Secrets of the Dead: Hannibal in the Alps

Gridiron Gang: Special Edition

Kid West

The Awesomes: The Complete Series

5 Family Favorites

Crime Time TV: Miami Vice & Knight Rider Bundle

Kam's Kapsules for movies opening June 22, 2018

 
 Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun  
by Kam Williams


OPENING THIS WEEK

WIDE RELEASES

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (PG-13 for scenes of peril and intense violence) Fifth installment in the horror franchise finds Owen (Chris Pratt) and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) leading a rescue team back to the abandoned dino theme park to save the prehistoric creatures from extinction when a dormant volcano on the island threatens to erupt. Cast includes Jeff Goldblum, Rafe Spall, Justice Smith, BD Wong, James Cromwell and Daniella Pineda.

INDEPENDENT & FOREIGN

Boundaries (R for profanity, sexual references, drug use and nude sketches) Intergenerational dramedy about a single-mom (Vera Farmiga) who has to drive cross-country to relocate her estranged father (Christopher Plummer) with the help of her son (Lewis MacDougall) after the rebellious geezer is kicked out of his retirement home for dealing marijuana. Support cast includes Christopher Lloyd, Peter Fonda and Bobby Cannavale.

Brain on Fire (PG-13 for mature themes, brief profanity and partial nudity) Adaptation of New York Times reporter Susannah Cahalan's (Chloe Grace Moretz) best-selling memoir of the same name about her month-long battle with an undiagnosed case of encephalitis. With Tyler Perry, Carrie-Anne Moss and Janet Kidder (Margot's niece).

The Catcher Was a Spy (R for sexuality, violence and profanity) Paul Rudd plays Major League baseball player Moe Berg (1902-1972) in this biopic about his double life during World War II. Cast includes Paul Giamatti, Jeff Daniels, Connie Nielsen and Sienna Miller.

Damsel (R for violence, profanity, sexuality and brief frontal nudity) Mia Wasikowska plays the title character in this comic Western, circa 1870, revolving around a wealthy pioneer's (Robert Pattinson) perilous trek across the frontier to marry the love of his life. With Robert Forster, and David and Nathan Zellner.

Izzy Gets the F*ck across Town (Unrated) Mackenzie Davis handles the title role in this romantic dramedy as a jilted girlfriend who makes her way across L.A. in order to crash her ex's (Alex Russell) engagement party. Cast includes Haley Joel Osment, Annie Potts, Lakeith Stanfield, Brandon T. Jackson, Jr. and Alia Shawkat.
The King (R for profanity) Politically-tinged musical retrospective chronicling Elvis Presley's rise from humble roots to the King of Rock & Roll at the same time America devolved from a democracy into an empire. Featuring commentary by James Carville, Alec Baldwin and Chuck D.

Never Steady, Never Still (Unrated) Poignant character study, set along the shores of British Columbia's Stuart Lake, where we find a widow with Parkinson's disease (Shirley Henderson) caring for a troubled teenage son (Theodorin Pellerin) struggling with his sexual identity. With Mary Galloway, Nicholas Campbell and Hugo Ateo.

Phenom (Unrated) Soccer documentary, narrated by celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay, chronicling the efforts of over five dozen players' quest to represent their country in the 2018 World Cup competition.

Spiral (Unrated) An eye-opening documentary chronicling the recent rise of anti-Semitism and assaults against Jews in France.




Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Tag

Film Review by Kam Williams



BFFs Play Cutthroat Version of Kids Game in Fact-Based Cat-and-Mouse Comedy


As kids, five BFFs from Spokane, Washington began playing Tag with no idea that, over the intervening years, an innocuous children's game might gradually morph into a cutthroat version where each would go to extraordinary lengths to pass on or avoid becoming "It." Several decades later, despite bearing all the responsibilities associated with adulthood, the guys remain ever vigilant for another tap on the shoulder. 
 
The competitive quintet came to the attention of Wall St. Journal reporter Mark Steilen who wrote an article about their imaginative antics entitled, "It Takes Planning, Caution to Avoid Being It." Soon thereafter, Hollywood came-a-callin' seeking to retain the rights to their story.

The upshot is Tag, the least like likely of sports flicks since Dodge Ball (2004). The movie marks the feature film directorial debut of Jeff Tomsic, who had previously only been at the helm of assorted TV show productions. Tomsic assembled a big-name cast, with Jon Hamm, Ed Helms Jeremy Renner, Hannibal Buress and Jake Johnson portraying the protagonists of the bawdy buddy comedy. 
 
At the point of departure, we find Hoagie (Helms), a veterinarian by profession, taking a job as a janitor at an insurance company just to be able to shock a rival, Callahan (Hamm), the firm's CEO. That gives you an idea of the elaborate ruses involved.
 
While this novel adventure gets an A for creativity, its characters frequent resort to unnecessary cursing proves to be a self-sabotaging distraction. After all, Tag is still a little kids' game, even if it's big kids playing it. So, in this critic's opinion, the film would've worked better with a squeaky clean script. 
 
Nevertheless, the series of screwball stunts held my interest for the duration, despite the profusion of profanities. Best of all, were the priceless clips which ran during the closing credits of the real-life pals pulling off their pranks. 
 
A nostalgic walk down Memory Lane courtesy of the ultimate game of Tag. You're it!



Very Good (2.5 stars)
Rated R for pervasive profanity, crude humor, sexuality, drug use and brief nudity
Running time: 100 minutes
Production Studios: Broken Road Productions / New Line Cinema
Distributor: Warner Brothers Pictures

To see the trailer for Tag, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9rQu77pgnpg


Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Superfly

Film Review by Kam Williams


Trevor Jackson Plays Iconic Title Character in Stylized Remake of Blaxploitation Era Classic 
 
Super Fly (1972) was one of the most profitable of the Blaxploitation Era flicks. Released during the genre's heyday, the picture revolved around its iconic title character, Youngblood Priest, a flamboyant cocaine dealer who dressed like a pimp, drove flashy cars and sampled his wares from a spoon shaped like a cross draped around his neck. 
 
Overcoming a modest budget of just a half-million dollars, the film's phenomenal box-office success led to a couple of sequels, (Super Fly T.N.T. (1973) and The Return of Superfly (1990). Nevertheless, the franchise is probably best remembered for the original's soundtrack by Curtis Mayfield which enjoyed a long run at #1 atop Billboard's Top 100 chart. 
 
Given its woeful production values, Super Fly is a movie almost begging to be remade. And 2.0 represents an upgrade which does not disappoint in that regard. As overhauled by Julien Christian Lutz (aka Director X), the highly-stylized production bears a greater resemblance to McG's frenetically-paced Charlie's Angels (2000) and Baz Luhrmann's decidedly-decadent interpretation of The Great Gatsby (2013) than to any blaxploits made back in the Seventies.

The setting has been shifted to Atlanta, but the basic plotline is otherwise faithful to the source material. The blow-by-blow is narrated by the picture's protagonist, played with perfect aplomb by Trevor Jackson (of TV's Grown-ish). 
 
At the point of departure, a beleaguered Priest informs us via voice-over that he's been selling drugs on the street since the age of 11. He now sits atop a gang caught up in an escalating bloody turf war marked by drive-by shootings with a flashy posse called the Snow Patrol.

Understandably, Priest wants out of the game, but first he has to do a bigger deal than he's ever attempted before. That involves going over the head of his supplier Scatter (Michael Kenneth Williams) and securing a huge shipment of narcotics directly from the South American cartel kingpin, Adalberto Gonzales (Esai Morales). 
 
Somehow Lutz, a veteran director of music videos, manages to manipulate the audience into rooting for the sort of unsavory characters you'd cross the street to avoid in real life. Listen, the cinema has a long history of championing ruthless lawbreakers like Bonnie and Clyde, the Godfather and more recently, the Ocean's 8 crew.

The upshot: this incarnation of Superfly proves to be a riveting, slick and pulse-pounding reboot that easily blows away the original!


Excellent (4 stars)
Rated R for pervasive profanity, graphic sexuality, violence, ethnic slurs, nudity and drug use
Running time:108 minutes
Production Studios: Columbia Pictures / Sony Pictures Entertainment / Silver Pictures
Distributor: Columbia Pictures


To see a trailer for Superfly, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQIvV800Atk



Monday, June 11, 2018

Top Ten DVD List for June 12, 2018




by Kam Williams


This Week's DVD Releases

Forrest Gump [4K Ultra HD]

Trading Places: 35th Anniversary Edition

Love, Simon

Power: The Complete Fourth Season

Jerry Lewis: 10 Films

Tomb Raider

Coming to America: 30th Anniversary Edition

Menace and Murder: A Lynda La Plante Collection

Terminator Genisys [4K Ultra HD]

Will & Grace: The Revival [Season One]


Honorable Mention

The Mimic

Nickelodeon Favorites: Great Summer Campout!

First Civilizations

Spinning Man

A Star Spangled Story: Battle for America
The Strangers: Prey at Night [Unrated]

Nature: Natural Born Rebels
https://www.amazon.com/NATURE-Natural-Born-Rebels-DVD/dp/B07BF2RP9L/ref=sr_1_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1528719693&sr=1-1&keywords=Nature%3A+Natural+Born+Rebels

Splash and Bubbles: One Big Ocean

Dinosaur Train: Meeting New Friends

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Anthony Bourdain


Image result for Anthony Bourdain 1956-2018
The “Parts Unknown” Interview
with Kam Williams
(Reprinted from 2014)


A Treasured Tete-a-Tete with the Late Great Chef

Chef, author and world traveler Anthony Bourdain was an outspoken trailblazer with unique insights about food, culture and current events. In this 2014 interview, we spoke about his life, career and his Peabody and Emmy-winning TV-series, Parts Unknown.


Kam Williams: Hi Anthony, thanks for the interview. I love the show. I’m honored to have this opportunity to speak with you.
Anthony Bourdain: Oh no, my pleasure, Kam.

KW: Congratulations on the his Peabody and Emmys for Parts Unknown.
AB: Thank you. It feels good.

KW: I told my readers I’d be interviewing you. So, I’ll be mixing their questions for you in with my own. The first is from editor/Legist Patricia Turnier who is French Canadian. She says: You have French background and you’re fascinated with French cuisine. Do you speak the language?
AB: Yes, badly. But my French definitely improves the more I drink, as I worry less and less about absolutely perfect grammar. [Chuckles] I do speak and understand the language, just not particularly well.

KW: Patricia also asks: Did you spend any summers in France with your parents growing up?AB: Just a few. Two or three. Three summers, I think.

KW: Patricia says: you are an excellent writer. What is the best advice you have for young writers about cultivating a unique writing style with a sophisticated voice like yours?
AB: Wow! That’s hard to say… I just don’t know… Be true to yourself. I write quickly with a sense of urgency. I don’t edit myself out of existence, meaning I’ll try to write 50 or 60 pages before I start rereading, revising and editing. That just helps with my confidence. I listen a lot to how people speak. I’ve read a great many good books in my life. I had some excellent English teachers. Surely, those things were helpful.

KW: Besides your books, the show is extremely well-written. Do you have a hand in that?
AB: I write the voiceover as part of the editing process, some of it beforehand. Working with the producer, we’ll sort of hash out the flow of each show, the sequence of events, and the general framework. And maybe there will be some writing as well that they can edit to. But much of it is done afterwards. It’s a long and interactive process that takes about 9 to12 weeks sometimes, per show. So, a lot of attention is paid. I’m very aware that we’re telling a story here, and that we want to tell it in the most compelling, honest and accurate way we can.

KW: I’m not surprised to hear that you wear several different hats on the show, since you strike me as one of these versatile, multi-talents like David Byrne.
AB: I wouldn’t want to compare myself to David Byrne whom I consider a genius, but what I think what we have in common is that he’s also a guy who is very interested in the world and who has a lot of passions beyond singing and playing guitar. Clearly, if you track his career, you see a great many collaborations with interesting artists, and his work reflects whatever’s turning him on that year. In that sense, what a great way to live, if you could always do things that interest you, and do them with people who interest you.

KW: Editor Lisa Loving says: This is tough because you have already been asked everything from your worst meal ever [unwashed warthog rectum] to the most disgusting food you ever ate [McDonald’s]. Would you mind comparing McDonald’s to some of the wildest dishes you’ve sampled on the show?
AB: I think it’s very hard to make an argument that a Chicken McNugget is either chicken or a nugget? If you’re eating unwholesome, street food in a country where they have to make do with whatever scraps are left to them, at least you know what it is, and generally have some sense of where it came from. Whereas a McNugget, to my way of thinking, is a Frankenfood whose name doesn’t necessarily reflect what it is. I’m still not sure what it is. Listen, Kam, when drunk, I will eat a McNugget. It’s not the worst tasting thing in the world, but it’s one of the things I’m least likely to eat, because I choose not to.


KW: Isn’t there beef in the Chicken McNugget’s bread crumbs?
AB: They use a beef flavor that they spray or somehow add. I think it’s in the French fries, as well. Manipulating flavor, salinity and sugar levels is an important part of convenience food, snack food and fast food.

KW: Lisa also asks: What does your daughter Ariane like to eat? Have you cooked together yet?
AB: We cook together all the time. And since her mom and grandparents are Italian, a little Italian gets snuck in. She eats like a European kid in the sense that she’s very daring. She eats raw oysters, chicken hearts and yakitori and other Japanese food. She’s very curious about food and isn’t afraid to try new things. She loves to cook with me, and I love cooking with her. When we do cook together, we generally make ratatouille and pastas. Simple things. She’s 7, so I have to monitor her knife work very carefully. But I just gave her her first chef’s knife.

KW: when you’re in the middle of nowhere, do you ever hesitate before eating something alien, fearing a negative reaction that might call for emergency medical attention that’s too far away?
AB: No, wholesome food is wholesome food anywhere. I may not like something but, generally speaking, if it’s a busy, street food stall serving mystery meat in India, they’re in the business of serving their neighbors. They’re not targeted toward a transient crowd of tourists that won’t be around tomorrow. They’re not in the business of poisoning their neighbors. I have eaten food that was clearly not fresh, that was dirty. I knew I was spinning the wheel of fortune there, but I did it because there was no polite way out. I saw it as the lesser of two evils, and I did pay a price. But it’s one I was willing to pay because turning your nose up at a genuine and sincere gesture of hospitality is no way to travel or to make friends around the world.

KW: Jeff Cohen says: I love that guy and his show. I want to know how I can get that job. Best job in the world!
AB: Hell if I know. I still don’t know how this happened to me. One minute I was dunking French fries, the next minute I had a TV show. I still haven’t figured it out. I guess not giving a crap is a very good business model.


KW: More seriously, Jeff asks: What fuels your passion to find out of the way places and cuisine, and how do you incorporate those experiences into your cooking?
AB: As far as the first part of the question, that’s just how I like to eat. Those are the places that make me happy, and they’re the most representative places, if you kinda want to get the flavor of what a place is really like and of who lives there. As to the second part of the question, it may come as a surprise to some that I do not incorporate those flavors that I discover or encounter around the world into my own cooking. I’m not so arrogant as to think that I can visit India for a week and then come back and cook Indian food. Just because I like sushi, doesn’t mean I can make sushi. I’ve come to well understand how many years just to get sushi rice correct. It’s a discipline that takes years and years and years. So, I leave that to the experts. When I cook, I generally stick with what I know, what I’m comfortable with, and what I feel I’ve paid my dues learning, and am good at.

KW: Jim Cryan has a question related to one of his favorite episodes of Parts Unknown: What's the best street food to eat while watching cricket in India?
AB: Gee, I forget the name, but it was this very spicy, colorful, flavorful Rice Krispies-type dish.

KW: Cousin Leon Marquis asks: What's the strangest food you ever ate, and where were you when you ate it?
AB: I think I’d refer back to Chicken McNugget or a Cinnabon.

KW: Attorney/Pastry Chef Bernadette Beekman was wondering whether you have a preference for any particular type of cuisine.
AB: If I were trapped in one city and had to eat one nation’s cuisine for the rest of my life, I would not mind eating Japanese. I adore Japanese food. I love it.

KW: Bernadette would also like to know whether you will do other love stories to cities in period style such as you did with Italy? Loved the black and white “La Dolce Vita" feeling!
AB: That was one of my proudest accomplishments, and one of my favorite shows. I don’t know whether we’d do it in black and white again, but yes, I hope to do another richly-textured, carefully-designed, cinematic ode to a city I love and to its food. Sure! That’s always what I like to do, and when I’m at my happiest.

KW: Pittsburgh native Robin Beckham says: Parts Unknown is one of my favorite shows. She asks: Do you ever plan to visit the Steel City?
AB: Very likely, yes.

KW: Robin goes on to say: Mr. Bourdain, through your show you call attention to the variety of food choices people are indulging in around the world. And on your journeys visiting various countries, you have a unique way of helping to break down religious, racial and ethnic barriers by presenting people in a light that forces an audience to think about other cultures in a positive manner (in a way they may never have in the past). When you return to the United States and witness the racial divide we have in Ferguson, what are some of your thoughts about what we need to do here in America to bring people together? What are the “Parts Unknown,” from your perspective, that can help to heal our country?
AB: Wow, that’s a big, big, big, big, big question, Robin. I wish I knew. We are, in many ways, a much more divided nation than we like to think or say we are. In some of the countries I’ve visited, like Malaysia and Singapore, people are mixed up, whether they like it or not. Here, it’s like a grid system, even in New York, where we like to think of ourselves as enlightened and multi-racial. It’s a complicated question that I certainly don’t feel qualified to answer. I could suggest that all that’s needed is for us to sit down and share a meal together, but I don’t know if that’s true. Certainly, to the extent that people can walk in each other’s shoes for a few hours, or even just for a few minutes, this can only be a good thing. Looking at Ferguson, Missouri from the outside, I would guess that the Police Department has a particular siege mentality, an “us vs. them” mentality, that’s not all that unusual in this world when you look at angry, disenfranchised, paranoid people. It’s a mentality that emerges in groups of people. It’s ugly and, frankly, I’m the last person in the world in terms of having a constructive clue as to what to do about it.

KW: But you have a natural ability to relate to people and to reduce the human experience to a collective one. Add in food, and you’re a natural ambassador.
AB: It’s not my intention. I’m out there looking to tell stories about other cultures, places I go, and things I see. That’s all, really. I’m not trying to explain other cultures, or to give a fair and balanced account of a country, or the top ten things you need to know. I’m not trying to spread world peace and understanding. I’m not an advocate or and activist or an educator or a journalist. I’m out there trying to tell stories the best I can. I come back and make television shows that give as honest a sense of what I felt like when I was there. If that enables the audience to empathize with people they felt hostile towards or never thought about before, that is good and I feel happy about that. But that is not my mission in life. My mission in life is tell an entertaining, well-made, well-crafted story that is true to myself. I am proud and pleased when viewers report afterwards feeling some kinship with people they never imagined empathizing with before. I’m not Bono. I’m not on a mission.

KW: You’re doing something that resonates with the audience to come to CNN and become the network’s highest rated show almost immediately.
AB: I see Parts Unknown as an adjunct to the news in the sense that when you see something terrible or something good that transpires in Libya or Palestine or Iran or Congo or Southeast Asia, you know who we’re talking about, if you’ve watched this show. You’ve sat down with a family from the West Bank or Gaza. You’ve seen the daily routine of a Vietnamese rice farmer. You have some sense of whom we’re talking about in Congo, the next time a statistic pops up. We put a human face on places faraway from where we live. I think it’s useful. It may not be news, but it’s useful.

KW: Do you think you’re helping to obliterate the “Ugly American” stereotype by being so sensitive to and appreciative of other cultures?
AB: I think many, if not most, of the people I’ve met in countries where you’d not expect them to be friendly, make a definite distinction between our government and us. They are extraordinarily friendly and welcoming just about everywhere, and are often cynical about their own leaders and government. So, the idea that they could disagree with many things about our government and yet still find it in their hearts to invite us to their table and to enjoy sharing their culture with us is not an unusual impulse, at all, in my experience. People everywhere have been very, very good to me, whether I’m with or without cameras.

KW: Robin asks: Do you have any updates on a possible show in North Korea? AB: The state control is so tight there that there’s no way we could have anything resembling an organic or real experience. They really keep you inside a sort of North Korean Disneyland, and there would be no way, at all, of seeing how ordinary North Koreans live, and that, of course, is what we would want to show.

KW: The Ling-Ju Yen question: What is your earliest childhood memory?
AB: Playing with plastic army men on the beach with my brother at around 3.

KW: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?
AB: I see a face full of lines, and every one of them has been earned.

KW: What is your favorite dish to cook?
AB: I love making Neapolitan style ragu of neck bones, oxtail and tough cuts of meat, and slowly cooking down with a tomato sauce into a ragu.
KW: The Sanaa Lathan question: What excites you?
AB: A bowl of spicy noodles, a beautiful beach, anything involving my daughter, a fat unread book, any number of film directors coming out with a new film, and seeing stuff that few others have seen. And Brazilian jiu-jitsu. I’ve been doing lot of that lately, and it’s deeply satisfying.

KW: Sangeetha Subramanian says: I have really enjoyed and learned so much watching Parts Unknown. What advice do you have for vegetarians who want to travel to countries where it's a bit harder to find meals with no seafood and no meat?
AB: I’m sort of unsympathetic. I just think it’s bad manners.

KW: Robin asks: What do you share with your daughter about your experience connecting with human beings who welcome you into their very different worlds?
AB: She watches my show, and I try to bring the family along to one family-friendly location a year. She’s only 7, but she’s traveled pretty widely. I think it’s important for a kid, especially a privileged kid like my daughter, to see that not everybody in the world lives like her.

KW: How does she react to seeing daddy on TV?
AB: She doesn’t take it seriously. In my house, neither my wife nor my daughter are impressed that I’m on television, and they remind me of that frequently.

KW: If you could have a chance to speak with a deceased loved one for a minute who would it be and what would you say?
AB: Well, my dad. When my father passed, I was still an unsuccessful cook with a drug problem. I was in my mid-thirties, standing behind an oyster bar, cracking clams for a living when he died. So, he never saw me complete a book or achieve anything of note. I would have liked to have shared this with him.

KW: The Anthony Anderson question: If you could have a superpower, which one would you choose?
AB: I’d like to play bass like Bootsy Collins. I’m serious. That would be my dream. Or I’d play with James Brown’s Famous Flames or with Parliament or Funkadelic.

KW: What advice do you have for anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps?
AB: Show up on time and do the best job you can.

KW: The Tavis Smiley question: How do you want to be remembered?
AB: I don’t care.

KW: Thanks again for the time, Anthony, this has been tremendous. All the best with the family, the new season and all your travels.
AB: Thank you, Kam. It’s been fun. I really enjoyed it. So long.