Saturday, March 24, 2018

Top Ten DVD List for March 27, 2018

by Kam Williams

This Week’s DVD Releases

Star Wars Episode VIII [The Last Jedi]

Who Killed Tupac? [Attorney Ben Crump Heads New Investigation]

Last Men in Aleppo [Oscar-Nominated Documentary]

Mr. Rogers Neighborhood [It's a Beautiful Day Collection]

Love, Lies & Records [Birth, Death and All the Drama in Between]

The Brokenwood Mysteries: Series 4 [New Zealand Detective TV Show]

The Thousand Faces of Dunjia [A Visually-Stunning Fantasy]

The Last Movie Star [Every Hero Has a Home Town]

Dolores [Rebel. Activist. Feminist. Mother.]

Peppa Pig: The Easter Bunny [As Seen on Nick Jr.]

Friday, March 23, 2018

Midnight Sun

Film Review by Kam Williams

Sickly Teen Finds Soulmate in Bittersweet Romance Drama
The biggest takeaway from Midnight Sun is that Patrick Schwarzenegger has a bright future as an actor. Fair warning: he's not a buff bodybuilder like his father, Arnold, so don't look for him to play he-man roles any time soon. 
However, in Midnight Sun he proves that he can hold his own as a leading man in a romance drama. So, he ought to have a certain appeal to females, between an endearing vulnerability and his rugged good looks.

Directed by Scott Speer (Step Up Revolution), Midnight Sun is loosely based on Taiyo No Ita, a Japanese tearjerker released in 2006. This English language version is basically the same story, except for a few tweaks of the script that don't alter the arc of the basic plot.

The title hints at the sickly heroine's affliction, Xeroderma Pigmentosum (XP), a rare skin disease that leaves her extremely allergic to sunlight. Consequently, Katie (Bella Thorne) is only allowed to leave the house after dark. 
Otherwise, she's your typical teenage girl. She enjoys music, keeps a journal, and has a crush on Charlie (Schwarzenegger), the tall, handsome neighbor who skateboards past her specially-treated windows everyday. They're both seniors at Purdue High, but he has no idea she even exists, since Katie completed all her schoolwork online.

Their paths finally cross one evening soon after graduation when she was hanging out alone at the local train station, playing her late mother's acoustic guitar. It's love at first sight for Charlie, but Katie doesn't want to frighten him off by telling him she has XP. 
They start dating and everything is peachy keen until the night they stay out almost until daybreak. Katie freaks out and is forced to share her big secret. 
Will Charlie bolt or stick around? That is the critical question at the heart of Midnight Sun. The movie earns such high marks for its sensitive handling of a seriously-ill patient's heartbreaking plight that I was willing to forgive its relatively-sappy portrayal of the star-crossed lovers. 
A sentimental soap opera guaranteed to make you weep in spite of yourself.

Very Good (3 stars)
Rated PG-13 for partying sensuality and mature themes
Running time: 91 minutes
Production Studios: Wrigley Pictures / Boies-Schiller Film Group / Rickard Pictures
Distributor: Open Road Films

To see a trailer for Midnight Sun, visit:

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Paul, Apostle of Christ

Film Review by Kam Williams

Faith-Based Biopic Chronicles St. Luke and St. Paul's Close Relationship

I distinctly remember learning in Sunday school when I was a child that Jesus had 12 Apostles: But none of them was named Paul (James Faulkner). In fact, while Jesus was alive, the future saint was still a Jew who took a perverse pleasure in persecuting Christians. 
But he famously had a change of heart after experiencing a blinding vision of Jesus while on the road to Damascus. Upon regaining his sight three days later, he converted to Christianity and became one of the fledgling religion's staunchest advocates.

He proceeded to preach all across the ancient world for several decades, sharing his heartfelt conviction that Jesus was the Messiah. However, Paul's proselytizing did not sit well with the Roman Emperor, Nero, who had the troublemaker tried for treason, convicted and tossed into a dank prison cell to await his fate. 
That is setting of this depressing biopic, unfolding in Rome in 67 A.D. Co-written and directed by Andrew Hyatt (Full of Grace), the picture basically revolves around a jailhouse friendship allegedly forged between Paul and Luke (Jim Caviezel), a physician and fellow believer.

According to this speculative docudrama, the good doctor visited Death Row daily in order to secretly record Paul's pearls of wisdom before his beheading. If the suspect storyline is to be believed, the upshot of that effort was the New Testament's Acts of the Apostles and the Book of Luke. But I can't help but wonder whether there's any proof that the two religious icons ever even met.

Regardless of the liberties that might have been taken with the truth, I was turned off by the pall cast over the production by Paul's relentlessly-dire plight, and it didn't help matters any that the movie has way more talk than action. 
What does it tell you when a movie's most-memorable moment involves Nero's roasting Christians alive at the stake for fun, and referring to them as "Roman candles." I bet you thought the term was coined for the firecracker. 
Overall, a faith-based, snuff flick with little appeal beyond the Bible-thumping demographic.

Fair (1 star)
Rated PG-13 for disturbing images and some violence
Running time: 108 minutes
Production Studios: Affirm Films / Outside Da Box
Distributor: Columbia Pictures

To see a trailer for Paul, Apostle of Christ, visit:

Kam's Kapsules for movies opening March 30, 2018


Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun 
by Kam Williams



God's Not Dead: A Light in the Darkness (PG for violence, mature themes and suggestive material) Third installment in the faith-based franchise finds members of a tight-knit congregation being tested by God when a deadly fire destroys their church. Co-starring Tatum O'Neal, John Corbett, Ted McGinley and Gregory Alan Williams.

Ready Player One (PG-13 for action, violence, bloody images, suggestive material, partial nudity and profanity) Adaptation of Ernest Cline's sci-fi novel, set in 2045, revolving around a teenager's (Tye Sheridan) participation with the help of his friends in a virtual reality Easter egg hunt where the winner will inherit an immense fortune from the contest's late creator (Mark Rylance). Ensemble includes Olivia Cooke, Mckenna Grace, Lena Waithe, Olivia Cooke, Simon Pegg and Letitia Wright.

Tyler Perry's Acrimony (R for profanity, sexuality and violence) Revenge thriller about a long-suffering wife (Taraji P. Henson) who finally gets fed up with her philandering spouse (Lyriq Bent). With Crystie Stewart, Danielle Nicolet and Jazmyn Simon.


All I Wish (Unrated) Romantic comedy about a fledgling fashion designer's (Sharon Stone) desperate search for a soulmate until she finally meets Mr. Right (Tony Goldwyn) on her 46th birthday. Featuring Famke Janssen, Ellen Bursrtyn and Erica Ash.

Birthmarked (Unrated) Nature vs. nurture comedy about a couple of well-respected science professors (Matthew Goode and Toni Collette) who retire to raise their kids to test what they suspect to be a genetic predisposition to pursue their careers. With Fionnula Flanagan, Michael Smiley and Suzanne Clement.

The China Hustle (R for profanity) Eye-opening expose' highlighting how China has been eating America's lunch by perpetrating a massive stock fraud in the deregulated financial markets.

Finding Your Feet (PG-13 for suggestive material, profanity and brief drug use) Romantic dramedy about a straitlaced senior citizen (Imelda Staunton) who moves in with her bohemian big sister (Cela Imrie) after catching her husband of 40 years (John Sessions) in bed with her BFF (Josie Lawrence). With Timothy Spall, Joanna Lumley, Paul Chan and David Hayman.

Gemini (R for pervasive profanity and a violent image) Crime thriller about a Hollywood starlet's (Zoe Kravitz) personal assistant (Lola Kirke) who ends up the prime suspect in a grisly homicide after lending a gun to her boss. Supporting cast includes Ricki Lake, John Cho and James Ransone.

The Last Movie Star (R for sexuality and partial nudity) Burt Reynolds stars in this poignant character study about an aging matinee idol forced to face the fact that his glory days are way behind him. With Chevy Chase, Clark Duke and Ariel Winter.

Outside In (Unrated) Romance drama about the taboo love affair between a recently-paroled ex-con (Jay Duplass) and a married, high school teacher (Edie Falco) he hasn't seen since being sent up the river 20 years ago. With Kaitlyn Dever, Ben Schwartz and Aaron Blakely.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Alison Kruse

with Kam Williams

A Spirited Tete-a-Tete with New Jersey's Best Undiscovered Artist

In Classical music circles, they call a kid with promise a prodigy. In Rock & Roll, the buzz is about the best unsigned bands. Out in Hollywood, they like to refer to an emerging young actress as an ingenue.

But I don't know if anybody ever coined a term for an up-and-coming painter with great potential. But if they did, that's what they'd be calling Alison Kruse, New Jersey's best kept secret. Until now.

Born and raised in Princeton, Alison's comes from a long line of Canadian artists. She ventured north of the border to get her BFA from Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario.

Her haunting paintings strikes this critic as heavily influenced by such masters as Edward Hopper, Andrew Wyeth and Edvard Munch. But she certainly has developed a unique style of her own reflecting a combination wisdom and talent carefully cultivated over many years.

Here, the unassuming, undiscovered artist talks about her life's calling.

Kam Williams: Hi Alison, thanks for the interview.
Alison Kruse: Thank you for having me, Kam.

KW: What is your earliest childhood memory?
AK: I remember going on car trips and being in the back seat with my sister and being snuggled into ten different blankets. I don’t know how old I was I just remember taking note how cozy I was.

KW: How old were you when you started painting?
AK: I can’t tell you when I started painting. Maybe 4? I was more into drawing when I was young. I started drawing before I could talk. I was super into drawing sleeping people. And I learned how to oil paint when I was 11.

KW: Was there a particular moment in your formative years that inspired you to become an artist?
AK: I’ve been extremely lucky to have multiple moments. My mom started taking me to Philadelphia's, Princeton University's and other museums when I was a toddler. She loves art and is an artist herself. My grandmother was also an artist and encouraged me, too. So, at an early age, I was able to identify different painters and movements: Classical Realism, Impressionism, Cubism, Abstract, Art Deco, etcetera. I started taking classes with Heather Barros, a Princeton artist, very early on, and she gave me a lot of confidence and introduced me to oil paint. And in my senior year of high school, studied with John Kavalos who shared his boundless insights into the art world and inspired me to work hard at my craft and to and take art seriously.


KW: When I look at your paintings, I see the shadows of Edward Hopper and the angst of Edvard Munch. And I also see something new. How would you describe your work?
AK: Wow! Thanks, Kam. I would describe my work as emotional. It’s very expressive and, although I’m experimenting with different styles, the undertone is always filled with some type of intense emotion.

KW: Who is your favorite artist?
AK: Currently, Cecily Brown and Lou Ros.

KW: What inspires you besides art?
AK: Film and entertainment. A good film inspires me because storytelling triggers my imagination. When I watch a movie, I’m especially noticing the color palate and tone. If I weren’t a painter I would want to be working in the film industry because I’m so fascinated by moving pictures. With my art, I want to transport you to a different place or make you feel an emotion, which is the same as what a great film does.

KW: What will you be doing in France?
AK: I’m going to a creative residency. I’ll have two weeks of uninterrupted time where I can focus on my art and cultivating new ideas. I’ve devoted this year to traveling and this one will be my third residency.

KW: What was the last book you read?
AK: "The Tipping Point" by Malcom Gladwell.

KW: When do you feel the most content?
AK: At my easel.

KW: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?
AK: Dry Skin

KW: If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would that be for?
AK: Reversing climate change.

KW: Is there any question no one has ever asked you, that you wish someone would?
AK: Will you marry me? Just kidding.

KW: What was the last song you listened to?
AK: "Lemon Glow" by Beach House.

KW: If you could have a superpower, which one would you choose?
AK: Teleportation.

KW: Finally, as Samuel L. Jackson asks: What’s in your wallet?
AK: An ID, a library card, credit, debit card, a Small World punch card, and my health insurance card.

KW: Thanks again for the time, Alison, and have fun in France.
AK: My pleasure, Kam!

To see more of Alison's work, visit:

Monday, March 19, 2018

Michael Eric Dyson

The Raw Word” Interview
with Kam Williams


The Raw Word Is Co-Hosted by Real Housewives' Claudia Jordan and Dr. Dan Ratner

Dr. Dyson Discusses His New TV Talk Show

Born and raised in Detroit, Michael Eric Dyson is a writer, sociologist and ordained Baptist minister. Known for his passion and a moral urgency in and out of the pulpit, Dr. Dyson has had a profound influence on American culture.

Dyson teaches Sociology at Georgetown University, writes op-eds for The New York Times; appears on MSNBC as a political analyst; serves as a contributing editor at The New Republic; and hosts of the Michael Eric Dyson Podcast featuring Dr. Dan Ratner.

The prolific public intellectual is the author of around 20 topical tomes, books covering such diverse subject matter as the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Nas’ debut album "Illmatic," Tupac, Marvin Gaye, and Hurricane Katrina’s devastating and long lasting effects.

Among many honors, Dr. Dyson has won a couple of NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Literary Work in Non-Fiction and the 2007 American Book Award for "Come Hell or High Water: Hurricane Katrina and the Color of Disaster." Named one of the 40 most inspiring African-Americans by Ebony magazine, he also landed on Ebony magazine's annual list of the 100 Most Influential Black Americans.

Besides lecturing at colleges, he's known for his thought-provoking, motivational speeches delivered at union halls, prisons, classrooms and churches across the country. Here, the loquacious luminary discusses his new TV talk show, "The Raw Word," as well as his latest book, "Tears We Cannot Stop."

Kam Williams: Hi Dr. Dyson. I'm honored to have this opportunity to speak with you.
Michael Eric Dyson: It's a pleasure, Kam.

KW: I know you got your master's and doctorate in Princeton, which is where I live. How did you enjoy the time you spent here?
MED: It was one of the most wonderful times I had in the academy. I went there straight from Carson-Newman college. Even though Princeton was considered the southernmost Ivy League school, I found it delightful and made the most of an opportunity to attain a world-class education.

KW: Yeah, Princeton has a shameful legacy in terms of slavery. Most of its students came from the South, and many brought servants with them to school. What interested you in The Raw Word?
MED: An opportunity to launch into daytime talk, and to bring both gravity and humor to bear upon subjects people across the country are interested in, from lighthearted topics like what's in your belly or in your car, to what motivates us as a nation to act and behave in the ways we do. I look forward to weighing-in on all that stuff.

KW: How did you come to be paired with Claudia Jordan and Dr. Dan Ratner as co-hosts?
MED: Through our executive producer, Andre Jetmir. He worked his magic behind the scenes, bringing us all together.

KW: What makes your talk show unique?
MED: Well, you've got Dyson... you've got Ratner... and you've got Jordan. Each of us brings a significant following and some impressive credentials from our spheres of influence to this endeavor, Dan as a therapist, Claudia as an actress, talk show host and reality-TV star, and I've been a writer, professor and public intellectual for awhile. So, we offer a unique mix of gifts that I hope will appeal to members of the audience.

KW: Editor/Legist Patricia Turnier says: I am impressed by your ability to write numerous excellent books. Most authors are not capable of following up a great opus with another best seller. What advice do you have for aspiring authors about consistently writing compelling, informative books?
MED: First, you definitely want to only take on projects you feel passionately about. Second, you want to conduct significant research on each subject. And third, you want your writing to be eloquent and reflect serious scholarship. The best writers are re-writers. So, stay at it, keep on top of your game, and continue to be curious about the world.

KW: Patricia would also like to hear your opinion of this quote from James Baldwin: It is only in his music, which Americans are able to admire because a protective sentimentality limits their understanding of it, that the Negro in America has been able to tell his story.”
MED: He often talked about how music was where black people were able to be most honest and tell as much truth as the world could bear. At that level, they were eye-to-eye with truths that needed to be explored. He was giving love to jazz and the blues because he felt that they were simpatico with his ambition as a writer to tap the same wellspring of emotions, intelligence and reflection.

KW: I assume that mass killings will be a topic of discussion on the show. What do you see as the solution to the problem?
MED: We've already discussed this issue on the show, and we will discuss it again. The president meeting with the makers of video games isn't going to solve the problem. There are so many other societies that aren't filled with gun-owning citizens. America has an obsession with the gun and an almost worshipful belief in the 2nd Amendment. We should continue to push back against those who would defend the NRA, and we have to stand with those young people saying "Enough is enough!" Much have the change in this nation has been spearheaded by young people, like the Freedom Riders on the front lines of the Civil Rights Movement, and the Black Lives Matter Movement which doesn't get enough credit today. So, I stand on the side of the kids and the vulnerable people who say, "Let's have some common sense reform of gun laws."

KW: Do you think gun violence in cities like Chicago will be reduced by such measures?
MED: If there are fewer guns across the country, that's a helluva good thing for everybody, whether in the inner-city or elsewhere. If fewer people in Chicago have access to firearms, trust me, there would be a reduction in crime and in the number of drive-bys and other gun-related shootings. Sure, you could still hurt someone with a knife, but it's a big difference than having an AR-15, AK-47 or other repeating weapon equipped with a bump stock. If we could control that stuff, Kam, it would help this nation across the board.

KW: What inspired you to write Tears We Cannot Stop?
MED: I wanted to speak to my fellow citizens who happen to be white about the world's problems, like the predicament of unarmed black people who are being targeted. I had seen enough of the hurt and pain that black people endured, and I wanted to write a sermon to my white brothers and sisters suggesting we consider some alternatives. A little tough love in the name of reflecting upon our culture and our country in order to find the best route to racial redemption. And I wanted to be honest and open in my discussion with them about how we can make things better as a nation.

KW: You open the book by saying "America is in trouble" before blaming the long shadow of slavery. Don't you think a lot of white people feel like we're post-racial, given how we've had a black president and black billionaires?
MED: I think we were quickly disabused of that fallacy because race continues to play a big role in America, and because we now have a president who manifestly exploits racial animus and division, and who says racist things that are profoundly problematic.

KW: Why do you say that "whiteness" was an invention?
MED: Because people weren't born with it in their genes. There's no coding, no genetic structure for whiteness. Whiteness is a political identity. James Baldwin said it's "a fiction projected into the world." So, the society in which we live makes up the rules and determines the application of the idea of racial differences. It's made up. It's arbitrary and unnecessary. It's not biologically rooted. It's not physically passed on or inherited. It's merely something that the society has generated as a way of assigning value, worth and merit to some, and of devaluing others.

KW: Why did you devote a chapter to the five stages of white grief?
MED: I wanted to talk about the responses of white brothers and sisters to the society in which we live, and about the need to have some racial reconciliation, some racial reconstruction and some racial justice. There's grief in many whites.from coming to grips that change is necessary and from recognizing that they have benefited from privileges which have been called out and need to be addressed.

KW: Why did you title a chapter "Nigger," if you consider the word an abomination?
MED: I can't pretend the word doesn't exist. It is an abomination when it's attached to heinous behavior that's legally supported by a government claiming to be for all the people. I wanted to make a distinction between black people who have appropriated the term and non-black people who use it in a hurtful and harmful manner. 
KW: Patricia says "The Black Presidency" was one of the best books she read analyzing President Obama. She asks: If Dr. King were still with us today, what do you think he would have said about current race-relations in America?
MED: Despite the enormous progress we've enjoyed, King would point to the persistence of racial inequality, and say that we have to continue to fight against it in order to make this nation truly just.

KW: Finally, what’s in your wallet?
MED: [LOL] I got some credit cards in there, a few dollars, some business cards from people I'm supposed to call, and some reminders of what I need to do today.

KW: Thanks again for the time, Dr. Dyson, best of luck with the show, and let's continue this conversation soon.
MED: Let's do that, Kam.

To see a trailer for Dr. Dyson's new talk show, The Raw Word, visit:

The Raw Word can be found on the following TV stations:

WPNT Pittsburgh, PA — MY 2PM
WRDC Raleigh, NC — MY 2PM
WUTB Baltimore, MD (Deerfield) — MY 10AM
WUXP Nashville, TN — MY 1PM
WSMH Flint/Saginaw/Bay City, MI — FOX 9AM
WRSP Champaign/Springfield, IL — FOX 10AM
WTWC.2 Tallahassee, FL — FOX 3PM
WGXA Macon, GA — FOX 1PM
WCGV Milwaukee, WI — MY 10AM
EKRC Cincinnati, OH — CW 2PM
WMYA Greenville/Spartanburg, SC/Asheville, NC — MY 12PM
KVCW.2 Las Vegas, NV — MY 12PM
WWMT.2 Grand Rapids/Kalamazoo, MI — CW 11AM
WTTO Birmingham, AL — CW 9AM
WNYO Buffalo, NY — MY 10AM
WJTC Mobile, AL/Pensacola, FL (Deerfield) — IND 11AM

Check for more information and local listings.
Viewers can join the conversation on Twitter @therawwordtv
or on Facebook @TheRawWordTV