Saturday, March 23, 2019

Kam's Kapsules for movies opening March 22, 2019



Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun
by Kam Williams



OPENING THIS WEEK


WIDE RELEASES
 

Us (R for violence, terror and profanity) Jordan Peele wrote and directed this suspense thriller, set in Santa Cruz, about a vacationing family that finds itself haunted by identical strangers. Co-starring Lupita Nyong'o, Winston Duke, Elisabeth Moss and Anna Diop.


INDEPENDENT & FOREIGN FILMS

Dragged across Concrete (R for profanity, sexuality, nudity, grisly images and graphic violence) Action thriller about a couple of cops (Mel Gibson and Vince Vaughn) who turn to a life of crime after being suspended without pay for police brutality caught on camera. With Don Johnson, Fred Melamed, Michael Jai White and Jennifer Carpenter.

El Chicano (Unrated) Crime saga, set in East L.A., about twins (Raul Castillo) who choose to live their lives on opposite sides of the law. Cast includes Jose Pablo Cantillo, Aimee Garcia and Marlene Forte.

Hotel Mumbai (R for profanity, bloody images and pervasive violence) Fact-based drama recounting the 2008 terrorist attack at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel by radical Islamists which claimed 174 innocent lives. Co-starring Dev Patel, Armie Hammer, Amandeep Singh and Jason Isaacs. (In English, Hindi, Punjabi, Marathi, Greek, Russian, Arabic, Urdu and Persian with subtitles)

Maze (Unrated) Historical drama, set in Northern Ireland in 1983, recreating the infamous jailbreak of 38 IRA members from a maximum security prison. Ensemble cast includes Barry Ward, Martin McCann, Tom Vaughan-Lawlor, Eileen Walsh and Aaron Monaghan.

Ramen Shop (Unrated) Coming-of-age drama revolving around a grief-stricken young chef (Takumi Saitoh) who travels from Japan to Singapore in search of his late parents' recipes only to also uncover some deep family secrets. With Seiko Matsuda, Jeanette Aw and Tsuyoshi Ihara. (In Japanese, Mandarin and English with subtitles)

Sunset (R for violence) Character-driven drama, set in 1913, about a young woman (Juli Jakab) who ventures to Budapest hoping to secure a job at the hat store once owned by her late parents, only to be turned away by the shop's new owner (Vlad Ivanov). Cast includes Susanne Wuest, Bjorn Freiberg and Urs Rechn. (In Hungarian and German with subtitles)

Trading Paint (R for profanity) Action adventure about a legendary father (John Travolta) and son (Toby Sebastian) car racing team who end up facing each other in a high-stakes contest following a falling out. With Shania Twain, Michael Madsen and Kevin Dunn.

Triple Threat (R for profanity and pervasive graphic violence) Action thriller about three down-and-out mercenaries (Tony Jaa, Iko Uwais and Tiger Chen) recruited to protect a billionaire heiress (Celina Jade) from a team of professional assassins (Scott Adkins, Michael Jai White and Michael Bisping) hired to take her out. Supporting cast includes Michael Wong, Daniel Whyte and Selina Lo. (In English, Mandarin and Thai with subtitles)

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Yardie



Film Review by Kam Williams


Elba Makes Directorial Debut with Jamaican Coming-of-Age Drama

Dennis “D” Campbell (Aml Ameen) had the misfortune of growing up in the slums of Kingston, Jamaica in the Seventies at a time when the 'hood was infested with drugs. Orphaned at an early age, he was raised by an older brother he admired, Jerry (Everaldo Creary).

Besides serving as a surrogate father, Jerry was a peacemaker who risked his life pressuring the gangs ruining the community to end their bloody turf war. But Dennis was left traumatized at 13 when his sibling was senselessly shot dead by Clancy (Raheem Edwards), a young member of the Tappa crew.

Fast forward a half-dozen years and we find D doing the bidding of King Fox (Sheldon Shepherd), the leader of Spicer, Tappa's rival gang. When he is asked to smuggle a kilo of cocaine on a plane bound for London, he leaps at the opportunity because not only does Clancy live there now, but so too does Dennis' daughter (Myla-Rae Hutchinson-Dunwell). So, the risky assignment will afford him an opportunity to avenge his brother's murder while reuniting with loved ones.

That is the intriguing set up of Yardie, a coming-of-age drama marking the noteworthy directorial debut of Idris Elba. Adapted from Victor Headley's 1992 novel of the same name, the film is narrated by its intrepid protagonist, a conflicted soul eternally torn between good and evil. 
 
A gritty tale of survival slightly marred by a tendency to telegraph its punches.


Very Good (3 stars)
Unrated
Running time: 101 minutes
Production Companies: Warp Films / BFI Film Fund / Studio Canal
Distributor: Rialto Pictures

To see a trailer for Yardie, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qItW6evHbE8



Sunday, March 17, 2019

Top Ten DVD List for March 19, 2019


by Kam Williams


This Week's DVD Releases
 
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Mary Poppins Returns

The Last Resort

The Rundown

PawParazzi

Accident

The Quake

She Wolf
Ritual

Big Kill



Thursday, March 14, 2019

Five Feet Apart

Film Review by Kam Williams


Romance Drama Revolves around Forbidden Love between Hospitalized Teens



Stella Grant (Haley Lu Richardson) is a typical 17 year-old in most regards. However, she is also suffering from Cystic Fibrosis (CF), a genetic disease which makes her very susceptible to a variety of breathing disorders.

Consequently, she spends much of her time in the hospital receiving a “tune up” for this or that malady. She's currently receiving treatment for bronchitis on a ward with several fellow CF patients, including her gay BFF, Poe (Moises Arias), although there is a strictly-enforced rule that they stay at least six feet apart at all times, because they could easily infect each other. 
 
That regulation is put to the test upon the arrival of newcomer Will Newman (Cole Sprouse), a CF victim with a bacteria which would prove fatal should Stella catch it from him. For, the two kids fall in love at first sight, so they find it hard to resist their raging hormones' urge to merge.

Luckily, nurse Barb (Kimberly Hebert Gregory) is there to monitor the movements of the young patients. She has been particularly vigilant to prevent any rendezvous on her watch, ever since an incident that led to a tragic ending.

Thus unfolds Five Feet Apart, a bittersweet romance drama marking the noteworthy, feature film directorial debut of actor Justin Baldoni (Jane the Virgin). Baldoni deserves considerable credit for coaxing impressive performances out of Haley Lu Richardson and Cole Sprouse who manage to generate convincing chemistry in challenging roles where they can't touch each other.

The movie's sole flaw rests in its unnecessarily adding a melodramatic twist more appropriate for a soap opera. During the picture's climactic moment, we suddenly learn that Stella's prayers for a lung transplant might have miraculously just been answered. A distracting rabbit-out-the-hat development that almost ruins an otherwise poignant love story.


Very Good (3 stars)
Rated PG-13 for profanity, mature themes and suggestive material
Running time: 116 minutes
Production Companies: CBS Films / Wayfarer Entertainment
Distributors: CBS Films / Lionsgate

To see a trailer for Five Feet Apart, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XtgCqMZofqM



Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Kam's Kapsules for movies opening March 15, 2019

 
Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun 
by Kam Williams

OPENING THIS WEEK


WIDE RELEASES


Captive State (PG-13 for action, violence, sexuality, brief profanity and drug use) Sci-fi thriller unfolding in a Chicago neighborhood about a decade after it was occupied by an extraterrestrial force. Co-starring John Goodman, Vera Farmiga, KiKi Layne, Alan Ruck and Machine Gun Kelly.


Five Feet Apart (PG-13 for profanity, mature themes and suggestive material) Romance drama about a couple of teenagers with Cystic Fibrosis (Haley Lu Richardson and Cole Sprouse) who fall in love while been treated in a hospital. With Moises Arias, Parminder Nagra and Claire Forlani.


Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase (PG for peril, mild epithets, mature themes and suggestive material) Sophia Lillis stars in the title role in this adaptation of the second novel in Carolyn Keene's classic mystery series which finds the teen sleuth teaming with her BFFs (Zoe Renee and Mackenzie Graham) to solve a case of paranormal activity in a haunted house. Supporting cast includes Linda Lavin, Laura Wiggins, Andrea Anders and Sam Trammell.



Wonder Park (PG for action and mature themes) Animated fantasy about a motherless 10 year-old (Brianna Denski) who discovers that the magical amusement park she's been imagining really exists in the forest outside of her math camp. Voice cast includes Jennifer Garner, Matthew Broderick, Kenan Thompson, John Oliver and Dr. Ken Jeong.



INDEPENDENT & FOREIGN FILMS

The Aftermath (R for sexuality, nudity, violence and some disturbing images) Adaptation of Rhidian Brook's best seller of the same name, set in the ruins of Hamburg in 1946, chronicling the tensions which arise when a German widower (Alexander Skarsgard) with a troubled daughter (Flora Thiemann) is forced to surrender his mansion to the British colonel (Jason Clarke) in charge of rebuilding the city. With Keira Knightley, Fionn O'Shea and Kate Phillips. (In English and Russian with subtitles)

Faith, Hope & Love (PG for mature themes) Faith-based romantic comedy about a recent divorcee' (Peta Murgatroyd) and a grieving widower (Robert Krantz) who both get a second chance at love after they meet and enter a dance contest as partners. Supporting cast includes Michael “Kramer” Richards, Corbin Bernsen, Ed Asner and M. Emmet Walsh.

Finding Steve McQueen (R for sexual references and pervasive profanity) Crime thriller, set in 1972, about a motley gang of thieves' attempt to steal $30 million from Richard Nixon's slush fund of illegal campaign contributions. Co-starring Travis Fimmel, Forest Whitaker, Rachael Taylor, William Fichtner and Rhys Coiro.

The Hummingbird Project (R for pervasive profanity) Finance drama about a couple of cousins (Jesse Eisenberg and Alexander Skarsgard) who hatch a plan to make millions high-frequency trading by constructing their own fiber optic cable running from Kansas City to New Jersey. Featuring Salma Hayek, Michael Mando and Ayisha Issa.

The Mustang (R for profanity, violence and drug use) Rehabilitation drama about a convicted felon (Matthias Schoenaerts) who is given a shot at redemption when he is placed in a horse training program run by a no-nonsense vet (Bruce Dern). With Jason Mitchell, Connie Britton and Josh Stewart.

Yardie (Unrated) Idris Elba makes his directorial debut with this adaptation of Victor Headley's crime caper of the same name, set in the Seventies, about a young Jamaican (Aml Ameen) hired by a local drug kingpin (Sheldon Shepherd) to smuggle a shipment of cocaine to a British gangster (Stephen Graham) located in London. With Shantol Jackson, Fraser James and Akin Gazi.





Kam's Kapsules for movies opening March 8, 2019

 

Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun  
by Kam Williams


OPENING THIS WEEK





WIDE RELEASES


Captain Marvel (PG-13 for action, violence and brief suggestive language) 21st installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe stars Brie Larson in the title role as a former fighter pilot turned superhero who finds herself at the center of the maelstrom when a galactic conflict erupts on Earth between two alien races. Cast includes Samuel L. Jackson, Gemma Chan, Annette Bening and Djimon Hounson.



INDEPENDENT & FOREIGN FILMS

An Elephant Sitting Still (Unrated) The late Hu Bo wrote and directed this adaptation of his short story chronicling the serendipitous series of events inspiring four strangers (Yu Zhang, Yuchang Peng, Uvin Wang and Congxi Li) to board a bus for a long-distance trip to the city of Manzhouli's zoo to see a mythical, motionless elephant ostensibly oblivious to the outside world. With Jing Guo, Wei Kong and Xiang Rong Dong. (In Mandarin with subtitles)


Boy Band (Unrated) Musical comedy chronicling the reunion of the members of the Heartthrob Boyz a celebrated singing group trying to mount a comeback a couple of decades after their last hit. Co-starring Jerry O'Connell, Gilbert Gottfried, Steve Agee, Seth Herzog and Jordan Carlos.


Ferrante Fever (Unrated) Reverential biopic about Italian author Elena Ferrante, whose “Neapolitan Novels” sold 10 million copies across 50+ countries, leading her to be named one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World by Time Magazine. Featuring commentary by Hillary Clinton, Jonathan Franzen and Roberto Saviano. (In French, English and Italian with subtitles)


Gloria Bell (R for sexuality, nudity, profanity and drug use) Julianne Moore star as the title character in this romance drama as a free-spirited divorcee who unexpectedly finds a new love (John Turturro) at an L.A. nightclub. Ensemble cast includes Michael Cera, Rita Wilson, Sean Astin, Brad Garrett and Jeanne Tripplehorn.


I'm Not Here (Unrated) Suspense thriller about a man (J.K. Simmons) haunted by his past who reflects about a specific event in his life to try to understand how he ended up alone. Support cast includes Sebastian Stan, Maika Monroe and Mandy Moore.


The Kid (R for profanity and violence) Fact-based Western about a young boy (Jake Schur) who witnessed the historic showdown between Sheriff Pat Garrett (Ethan Hawke) and the infamous outlaw, Billy the Kid (Dane DeHaan). With Vincent D'Onofrio, Leila George and Adam Baldwin.


The Sex Trip (Unrated) Supernatural comedy about a shallow womanizer (Marc Crumpton) who finds himself magically transformed into a woman (Jade Ramsey) after rejecting a witch's (Eve Sigall) request for a kiss. With Louis Mandylor, Jim Hanks (Tom's brother) and Rebecca Grant.

Kam's Kapsules for movies opening March 1, 2019

 

Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun  
by Kam Williams


OPENING THIS WEEK

WIDE RELEASES


Greta (R for violence and disturbing images) Suspense thriller, set in NYC, about a naive young woman (Chloe Grace Moretz) who unwittingly befriends a widow with an evil agenda (Isabelle Huppert) whose pocketbook she found on the subway. With Maika Monroe, Colm Feore and Stephen Rea.



A Madea Family Funeral (PG-13 for profanity, crude sexuality and pervasive drug use) Tyler Perry's back in drag as a sassy granny for this raucous comedy set in rural Georgia where a joyous family reunion is unexpectedly marred by tragedy. Co-starring Cassi Davis, Patrice Lovely and Mike Tyson.






INDEPENDENT & FOREIGN FILMS

Apollo 11 (Unrated) IMAX documentary revisiting NASA's historic 1969 mission, the first spaceflight to land on the moon. Featuring archival footage of astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins.


The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (Unrated) Chiwetel Ejiofor makes his directorial debut with this adaptation of Malawi's William Kamkwamba's memoir about saving his village from famine at the age of 13 by building a wind turbine. Cast includes Ejiofor, Maxwell Simba, Lily Banda and Aissa Maiga.


Climax (R for disturbing content including profanity, graphic nudity and sexuality, drug use and violence) Horror musical set at at an abandoned boarding school where a dance troupe's party is sabotaged by a bowl of sangria laced with LSD. Ensemble cast includes Sofia Boutella, Romain Guillermic, Kiddy Smile, Giselle Palmer and Taylor Castle. (In French and English with subtitles)


Furie (Unrated) Action thriller about an ex-assassin (Veronica Ngo) who comes out of retirement to rescue her young daughter kidnapped by a sex-trafficking ring. With Hoa Tran, Mai Cat Vi and Thanh Nhien Phan. (In Vietnamese with subtitles)


Saint Judy (Unrated) Michelle Monaghan portrays the title character in this reverential biopic about immigration attorney Judy Wood who has single-handedly saved the lives of thousands of female refugees by successfully lobbying for changes in the United States' asylum laws. Supporting cast includes Common, Mykelti Williamson, Alfred Molina and Alfre Woodard.


Styx (Unrated) Seafaring thriller about a German ER physician (Susanne Wolff) sailing solo on the Atlantic Ocean who diverts her boat to come to the aid of 100 shipwrecked refugees. With Alexander Beyer, Inga Birkenfeld and Gedion Oduor Wekesa. (In English and German with subtitles)


Transit (Unrated) Adaptation of Anna Segher's novel of the same name, set in Marseilles, about a German refugee (Franz Rogowski) who falls in love with the widow (Paula Beer) of the recently-deceased writer whose identity he's assumed. Cast includes Godehard Giese, Lilien Batman and Maryam Zaree. (In German, French and sign language)


The Wedding Guest (R for profanity, violence and brief nudity) Dev Patel plays the title character in this suspense thriller about a shadowy figure who travels from England to Pakistan to kidnap a Muslim bride-to-be (Radhike Apte). With Jim Sarbh, Harish Khanna and Nish Nathwani.


Sunday, March 10, 2019

Top Ten DVD List for March 12, 2019


by Kam Williams


This Week's DVD Releases
 
Green Book

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

Over the Limit

Chef Flynn

Marquise

The Simple Heist [Series 1]

Nightflyers [Season One]

Someone to Watch over Me

Neighbors

Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles


Honorable Mention

Mortal Engines

Piercing

Monday, March 4, 2019

Top Ten DVD List for March 5, 2019

Image result for creed ii blu-ray

by Kam Williams


This Week's DVD Releases

Creed II

Instant Family

No Tell Motel [8 Movie Collection]

Burning

The House

Kalifornia

The Brokenwood Mysteries: Series 5

Damages [The Complete Series]

100 Yards

Do It Yourself


Honorable Mention

Top Wing: Eggcellent Missions

Barb Wire

Nick Jr: Meet the Baby Animals

Falling in Love Again

The Standoff at Sparrow Creek

The Favourite


Film Review by Kam Williams


Olivia Colman Delivers Oscar-Winning Performance in Revisionist Costume Drama

Queen Anne (1665-1714) was a sickly monarch whose dozen-year reign ran from 1702 to 1714. She was also married to Prince George of Denmark from 1683 until he passed away at Kensington Palace in 1708. 
 
Although Anne was unable to produce an heir, it wasn't from a lack of trying. She was pregnant 17 times, but most of her babies either miscarried or were stillborn, and the handful carried to term died during infancy. The Queen coped with the loss by raising 17 pet rabbits, one for each offspring, a curious way to grieve, indeed. 
 
Until now, Anne and George have been generally remembered as having been faithful and devoted partners. But you can add The Favourite to the long list of revisionist sagas which deign to impose present-day values while ignoring long-standing, conventional wisdom.

So, a British history buff is more likely to be frustrated by The Favourite than your average fan of the costume drama genre. The carefully-constructed crowd-pleaser was nominated for ten Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director (Yorgos Lanthimos) and Best Original Screenplay. 
 
The three female leads in this lesbian love triangle were nominated, too, although Olivia Colman landed the movie's sole Oscar for her memorable performance as domineering Queen Anne. Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone co-star opposite Colman, as a duchess and a servant vying for the manipulative monarch's affections. 
 
At the point of departure, we find Lady Sarah (Weisz) already attending to every need of an obese queen crippled by gout. The two are also secretly conducting a passionate, forbidden affair. 
 
But when Abigail (Stone) arrives on the scene, Anne's head is turned by the attractive young maid. A subtle power struggle ensues, as each of the subjects does her best to become the queen's constant companion. Meanwhile, Anne's real-life hubby, George, is conveniently absent entirely from the tale.

A fabricated romantic romp for folks more concerned about a historical drama's entertainment value than its commitment to the facts.

Excellent (4 stars)
Rated R for profanity, nudity and graphic sexuality
Running time: 119 minutes
Production Companies: Element Pictures / Scarlet Films / Film4 Productions / Waypoint Entertainment
Distributor: Fox Searchlight Pictures

To see a trailer for The Favourite, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SYb-wkehT1g



Monday, February 25, 2019

Oscar Recap

Image result for oscars
by Kam Williams


Green Book Is the Surprise Best Picture Winner
Olivia Colman Upsets Glenn Close for Best Actress

Green Book upset Roma to take home the Academy Award for Best Picture on an historic night featuring a record number of wins for black-themed films. Green Book also won in the Supporting Actor (Mahershala Ali) and Original Screenplay categories. 
 
Meanwhile, Spike Lee landed the Oscar for Adapted Screenplay for BlacKkKlansman, and Regina King garnered the Supporting Actress award for inspired performance in If Beale Street Could Talk. And Peter Ramsey won for co-directing the Best Animated Feature, Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse.

Black Panther prevailed in a trio of categories: Original Score, Costume Design and Production Design. In the process, Ruth E. Carter made history as the first African-American female to win for Costume Design, and Hannah Beachler did so, too, as the first African-American to win for Production Design.

The festivities flowed smoothly despite the absence of an emcee, and the show was about an hour shorter than usual. The emphasis on diversity was pretty obvious, with white presenters being outnumbered by black, Latino and Asians.

After jumping into the arms of Samuel L. Jackson on his way to the podium, a euphoric Spike Lee delivered a politically-tinged acceptance speech in which he appealed to folks to vote in the 2020 election. Although Spike never referred to Trump by name, the president subsequently saw fit to tweet about the Oscar-winner's supposedly “racist hit” against him.

As far as my Oscar picks, I only got half right, my worst showing ever.


Complete List of Academy Award Winners

Best Picture: Green Book
Best Director: Alfonso Cuaron (Roma)
Best Actress: Olivia Colman (The Favourite)
Best Actor: Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody)
Best Supporting Actress: Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk)
Best Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali (Green Book)
Best Foreign Film: Roma
Best Animated Feature Film: Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse
Best Original Screenplay: Green Book
Best Adapted Screenplay: BlacKkKlansman
Best Original Score: Black Panther
Best Original Song: Shallow (A Star Is Born)
Best Documentary Feature: Free Solo
Best Documentary Short: Period. End Of Sentence
Best Live Action Short: Skin
Best Animated Short: Bao
Best Cinematography: Roma
Best Production Design: Black Panther
Best Costume Design: Black Panther
Best Hair And Makeup: Vice
Best Sound Editing: Bohemian Rhapsody
Best Sound Mixing: Bohemian Rhapsody
Best Visual Effects: First Man
Best Editing: Bohemian Rhapsody