For movies opening April 21, 2017

 

OPENING THIS WEEK

Kam’s Kapsules

Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun

by Kam Williams

For movies opening April 21, 2017

MOVIES OPENING THIS WEEK,   Kam's Kapsules,  Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun,  by Kam Williams

BIG BUDGET FILMS

Born in China (G) Nature documentary, narrated by Jon Krasinski, mounting an epic expedition deep into the wilds of China to monitor the daily lives of three elusive species: pandas,  golden monkeys and snow leopards. (In English and Mandarin with subtitles)

Free Fire (R for sexual references, drug use, graphic violence and pervasive profanity) Crime comedy, set in 1978, about a bloody shootout in a warehouse between Boston mobsters and members of the Irish Republican Army in the wake of an arms deal gone bad. Ensemble cast includes Brie Larson, Armie Hammer, Sharlto Copley and Noah Taylor.

Phoenix Forgotten (PG-13 for terror, peril and profanity) Found-footage horror flick, set in Arizona on March 13, 1997, about three teens (Chelsea Lopez, Justin Matthews and Luke Spencer Roberts) who mysteriously disappeared while investigating the supposed sighting of a UFO hovering over the desert. With Florence Hartigan, Clint Jordan and Ana Dela Cruz.

The Promise (PG-13 for mature themes, sexuality, violence, disturbing images and war atrocities) Romance drama, set during the last days of the Ottoman Empire, about a sophisticated Armenian woman (Charlotte Le Bon) raised in Europe who lands in a love triangle with a med student (Oscar Isaac) and an American photojournalist (Christian Bale) when she returns to Constantinople from Paris. Cast includes James Cromwell, Jean Reno and Shohreh Aghdashloo. (In English, German and French with subtitles)

Unforgettable (R for sexuality, violence, profanity and brief nudity) Revenge thriller revolving around a jealous, jilted divorcee (Katherine Heigl) who becomes unhinged when her ex-husband (Geoff Stults) lets his new fiancee (Rosario Dawson) move into the house they once shared. With Cheryl Ladd, Whitney Cummings and Isabella Rice. 

INDEPENDENT & FOREIGN FILMS

Behind the White Glasses (Unrated) Musical tribute to Italian filmmaker Lina Wertmuller, the first female to land Oscar nominations for Best Director, Best Original Screenplay and Best Foreign Film. Featuring commentary by Martin Scorcese, Sophia Loren and Harvey Keitel. (In English and Italian with subtitles)

Citizen Jane: Battle for the City (Unrated) Reverential retrospective about Jane Jacobs, the visionary activist who led the preservation fight in the face of NYC Parks Commissioner Robert Moses’ plans to flatten urban communities in the name of progress.

Leap! (PG for action and impolite humor) Animated adventure about an 11 year-old orphan (Elle Fanning) living in Brittany who runs away to Paris with a friend (Nat Wolff) to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming a prima ballerina. Voice cast includes Mel Brooks, Carly Rae Jepsen and Maddie Ziegler. 

N.O.L.A. Circus (Unrated) Madcap comedy chronicling the cutthroat rivalry between a couple of New Orleans barbershops located across the street from each other. Ensemble includes Dave Davis, Reginal Varice, Vas Blackwood and Taryn Terrell.

The Penguin Counters (Unrated) Eco-documentary about an expedition to Antarctica mounted by a team of scientists attempting to illustrate the impact of climate change on the decimated penguin population.    

Slack Bay (Unrated) Lighthearted whodunit about an eccentric family whose summer vacation at their seaside retreat is ruined by the arrival of a couple of bumbling cops (Didier Despres and Cyril Rigaux) investigating the mysterious disappearance of numerous tourists. Co-starring Juliette Binoche, Fabrice Luchini and Jean-Luc Vincent. (In French and English with subtitles)

Oscar-Nominated Civil Rights Docudrama Released on DVD

 

Hidden Figures,  DVD Review by Kam Williams, NASA, African-American, female mathematicians, Kevin Costner, Octavia Spencer, Taraji P. Henson, Janelle MonaeHidden Figures

DVD Review by Kam Williams

Oscar-Nominated Civil Rights Docudrama Released on DVD 

All of the astronauts picked by NASA to participate in its maiden manned space programs, Mercury and Gemini, were white males. However, behind the scenes, there was a dedicated team of African-American, female mathematicians who played a pivotal role in ensuring that they launched and returned safely, whether from orbiting the Earth or a mission to the moon. 

  Equipped only with pencils and slide rules, these so-called “human computers” were among the best and the brightest minds recruited by NASA to do the critical calculations needed to win the space race with Russia. Author Margot Lee Shetterly gave these unsung heroines their due in “Hidden Figures,” a best seller belatedly crediting their quantitative contributions to the cause.

Besides chronicling their considerable accomplishments, the book also recounted the indignities these brilliant black women simultaneously suffered, simply because they had the misfortune to be living in Virginia during the dark days of Jim Crow. Back then, African-American brainiacs employed by NASA were automatically assigned to work in its segregated West Computing Group.

Directed by Theodore Melfi (St. Vincent), the overlooked icons’ story has now been adapted to the big screen as an uplifting, overcoming-the-odds docudrama. Nominated for a trio of Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Adapted Screenplay and Supporting Actress (Octavia Spencer) The picture recounts the trials and tribulations of three members of the aforementioned West Computing Group: Katherine G. Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae).

We are flies on the wall when, without complaining, Katherine routinely has to run to a distant “Colored” ladies room despite the presence of one for whites right nearby. On another occasion, we witness Mary’s frustration in furthering her education on account of the fact that blacks aren’t allowed to matriculate at the local college offering the courses she needs.

By film’s end, both the bathroom and school are indeed integrated, albeit after an emotional intervention by NASA administrator Al Harrison (Kevin Costner). A worthwhile, teachable moment correcting a shameful chapter in American history.

Excellent (4 stars)

Rated PG for mature themes and mild epithets

Running time: 127 minutes

Distributor: Distributor: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack Extras: It All Adds Up – The Making of Hidden Figures;  Audio Commentary by director Theodore Melfi and Taraji P. Henson; deleted scenes; Hidden Figures: Filming in Georgia; and a stills gallery.

To order a copy of Hidden Figures on Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack, visit

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B01LTI1RHQ/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

 

Original Source:  GIG News

Luminous Ludacris!

 

Ludacris

The “Fate of the Furious” Interview

with Kam Williams

Luminous Ludacris!

The multi-talented Chris “Ludacris” Bridges has enjoyed a remarkable career. As a recording artist, Bridges has sold more than 15 million albums domestically, thanks to the blockbuster success of such singles as “Stand Up,” “Get Back,” “Southern Hospitality,” “Number One Spot,” “Money Maker” and “My Chick Bad.”

 Ludacris,  The “Fate of the Furious” Interview  with Kam Williams, one of music’s premiere entertainers,recording artist, rap

CHRIS “LUDACRIS” BRIDGES as Tej in “The Fate of the Furious.”

Though best known for his infectious tunes, Ludacris has proven himself equally adept at composing powerful songs with serious subject matter, such as the hit “Runaway Love.” Furthermore, his versatility and artistic complexity enabled him to make a seamless transition to acting.

On screen, he most recently co-starred in Furious 7, a follow-up to his stellar work in the Fast and Furious franchise’s 2 Fast 2 Furious, Fast Five and Fast & Furious. He was a member of the A-list ensemble assembled for the romantic comedies New Year’s Eve and No Strings Attached.

Luda also delivered critically-acclaimed performances in Hustle & Flow and the Academy Award-winning Best Picture, Crash, as well as on such television series as Empire and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Plus, since stepping back into the studio, he’s been wowing music fans with his 8th studio album, Ludaversal.

The consummate businessman, Luda’s latest venture includes the highly-anticipated Chicken-n-Beer  restaurant coming soon to the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.  In addition, he is dipping his hands in the tech space by partnering with apps such as Roadie, an on-the-way delivery service.

Luda’s philanthropic efforts rival his entertainment accomplishments. He partnered with Crash writer/director Paul Haggis and Artists for Peace and Justice to help raise more than $4 million for Haitian relief efforts. And he’s raised more than $100,000 for Atlanta flood victims through The Ludacris Foundation, too. Having partnered with Jane Fonda, Bill Gates, Richard Branson and Nelson Mandela, to name a few, the foundation continues to inspire youth through education.

Here, Luda talks about reprising the role of Tej Parker in The Fate of the Furious opposite Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Jason Statham, Charlize Theron and Tyrese.

 Ludacris,  The “Fate of the Furious” Interview  with Kam Williams, one of music’s premiere entertainers,recording artist, rap

(L to R) Roman (TYRESE GIBSON), Tej (CHRIS “LUDACRIS” BRIDGES), Little Nobody (SCOTT EASTWOOD), Hobbs (DWAYNE JOHNSON), Ramsey (NATHALIE EMMANUEL) and Letty (MICHELLE RODRIGUEZ)

Kam Williams: Hi Luda, thanks for another interview.

Ludacris: What’s up, Kam?

KW: I really loved this film!

L: You and me both. so, I’m glad that you feel it.

KW: Furious 7 left me in tears, given the sensitive way they handled Paul Walker’s exit. So, that left me wondering whether they’d be able to get back to the action following such a moving conclusion. But they handled the transition seamlessly and very tastefully. It works perfectly.

L: It does, Kam. And I feel like this is the most clever of all of them. It’s really smart. If you see it twice, you’ll notice a lot of things you missed the first time. I’m just happy that we continue to outdo ourselves, man, because, at this point, it’s like, “How are we doing this?” There’s definitely a higher power controlling the franchise.

KW: What’s it like shooting without Paul?

L: It’s very emotional. That’s a void that will never be filled. All we can do is carry on his legacy by making the best movie possible. That adds a little pressure on us . 

KW: But you did manage to outdo yourselves. Other than James Bond and some of the comic book adaptations, I can’t think of another franchise with such staying power.

L: Exactly! That’s what we like to do… break records!

KW: How do you explain the series’ enduring appeal?

L: I think maybe our really being a family off-screen might have a lot to do with the chemistry you see on-screen. 

KW: What’s new about your character, Tej, this go-round?

L: Tej Parker’s happy because he got himself a tank provided by the U.S. government. And you also get to see some skills that you never knew he had. I just love how he continues to grow along with the entire franchise. That makes it so special.     

KW: You have some excellent lines in this episode, and so does Tyrese. The film also features some great banter between Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham’s characters. And Charlize Theron was a terrific villain.

L: I think Charlize’s addition is one of the picture’s greatest qualities. While women were already fans of the franchise, her performance literally taken it up another notch, because she brings her own fan base.   

KW: She disappeared into the role so well, I didn’t even know it was Charlize for at least 10 minutes after she made her first appearance.

L: Dude, that’s what I’m trying to tell you. She’s so good at what she does that she make Vin and everybody else around her better. We just continue to up the ante.

KW: You know what was hilarious? How Clint Eastwood’s son, Scott, is in the film, but playing a nerd instead of a macho character you’d expect.

L: We always like flipping the script a little and doing the unexpected which is why it’s so successful.

KW: In my review, I said this film is worth the price of admission for the opening scene alone, like Taken, District B-13 and the remake of Dawn of the Dead. That drag race was breathtaking and kept me on the edge of your seat.

L: Exactly, Kam! And it moves from one action sequence to the next without ever losing the integrity or continuity of the storyline.   

KW: What’s going on with you musically, Luda?

L: Everything’s good! I’m getting back into the bloodstream of music. I just dropped a single called Vitamin D. Everybody’s talking about the video. You definitely need to check it out. There’s this whole hoopla about this CGI (computer-generated) chest and abs I have in it.   

KW: Tell me a little about your upcoming projects.

L: I have an independent film called Ride coming out, and I do some voiceover work in a movie called Show Dogs. Besides that, on TV, they’re bringing back the  show Fear Factor with me as the host.

KW: Congratulations! Harriet Pakula-Teweles asks: With so many classic films being redone, is there a remake you’d like to star in?

L: If Halle Berry does a remake of Monster’s Ball, I’d like to play Billy Bob Thornton’s character.

KW: [LOL] Ling-Ju Yen asks: What is your earliest childhood memory?

L: My earliest childhood memory? That’s a good question, Kam. Just going out to the park with my mom, and playing on the slides and the swings.

KW: Was there a meaningful spiritual component to your childhood?

L: I grew up Christian, if that’s what you’re asking. I prefer not to get into discussions of religion these days. But I’m very much a believer in a higher power.

KW: If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would that be for?

L: If I could have one wish instantly granted, I would probably ask for world peace. 

KW: Is there any question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would?

L: Wow! That’s such a good question. I really have to think about that… I wish somebody would ask me if I could cook, and I’d tell them, “Hell no!”

KW: Well, what’s your favorite dish to eat?

L: Chicken Parmesan.

KW: Larry Greenberg asks: Do you have a favorite movie monster?   

L: The Predator, because he had dreadlocks. I felt like he was Jamaican.

KW: Susan Doran asks: How did you come up with the name Ludacris? I figure that the “cris” part comes from Chris being your real first name. 

L: That’s exactly right. Since my music embodied the dictionary definition of “ludicrous,” I think it was kind of creative to combine it with my name and come up with “Ludacris.”

KW: Finally, what’s in your wallet?

L: An American Express Black Card, man.

KW: Thanks again for the time, Luda, and best of luck with the film, the new single and the new TV show.

L: Thank you, Kam.


To order a copy of Luda’s latest CD, Ludaversal, visit: https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00TH87IM4/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20 

Dr. Leon Pressing On!

 

Wilmer J. Leon III , The “Politics: Another Perspective” Interview, Kam Williams, Black Politics American Government, Public PolicyWilmer J. Leon, III

The “Politics: Another Perspective” Interview

with Kam Williams

Dr. Leon Pressing On!

Wilmer J. Leon, III is a political scientist whose primary areas of expertise are Black Politics American Government, and Public Policy. Dr. Leon has a B.S. degree in Political Science from Hampton Institute, and a Masters in Public Administration and a Ph.D. in Political Science from Howard University.

He is a nationally-syndicated columnist and the host of SiriusXM Satellite Radio’s  “Inside the Issues with Wilmer Leon.” He is also a regular contributor to national and international television news programs, newspapers and websites.

Kam Williams: Hi, Dr. Leon, thanks for the interview.

Wilmer J. Leon: Kam, my pleasure. Thank you for your interest in my book “Politics Another Perspective”. The struggle continues and we can only move forward through fact based analysis and dialogue.

KW: What interested you in publishing a collection of your Op-Eds?

WJL: As a political scientist, I was looking for a way to provide to the general public clear analysis of some of the issues impacting the country. I wanted it to be in a form that would be easy for readers to access and digest. I’ve always received great feedback to my Op-Eds. So, a collection of them seemed to be the natural answer or solution.

KW: Most of the pieces were written during Barack Obama’s tenure in the White House. How would grade him as a president?

WJL: Wow, that’s a difficult question to answer. Usually we take some time and allow the lens of history to provide some distance and space for the analysis to be done. Right now, I would give President Obama a “C.”

KW: What would you say is his legacy?

WJL: Again, that’s a difficult question to answer. Symbolically, being the first African-America president is invaluable and powerful. The fact that I can turn to my 15-year-old son and say, “You too can be POTUS” is a very powerful reality. In terms of domestic policy, navigating the country through the economic crisis was an incredible accomplishment. Even though he bailed out the banks, he did nothing for the homeowner. If he had forced the banks to lend the bailout money back to the homeowner in the way of more favorable loans, property values would have remained stable. The ACA [Affordable Care Act] was a great accomplishment even though its rollout was an utter failure. How can one pay so much attention to the detail of the legislation and then ignore its implementation? This is mind-boggling. He should have used the Recess Appointment option with Merrick Garland. He should have nominated an African-American woman to the Supreme Court instead of Kagan. In terms of education, he continued the Bush Era neo-liberalization of education, No Child Left Behind, with Race to the Top. From a foreign policy perspective, he continued a lot of the Bush administration approaches, if not policies. The assassination of Gaddafi was an utter failure. As a Senator, he voted against the illegal invasion of Iraq and then does a similar thing in Libya making the problems in the Middle East worse. The use of drones was not as benign or sterile as he tried to make them out to be. To a great degree, he did not use his bully pulpit to rally his base against the obstructionist Congress. I don’t believe that the politics he ran on were really his politics. I think he’s a conservative corporatist who ran as a centrist. He tried to be reasonable with a House and Senate that swore to oppose him at every turn but thought that his intellect was more powerful than their racism. Those are a few examples.

KW: Do you think African-Americans were rewarded fairly by the Obama administration for being his most loyal constituency?

Wilmer J. Leon III , The “Politics: Another Perspective” Interview, Kam Williams, Black Politics American Government, Public Policy

WJL: Not at all. Again, the symbolism is invaluable, but you can’t pay the mortgage with symbolism. In his defense, the African-American community, for the most part, did not challenge him and force him to use his bully pulpit to address our issues. In that regard, we gave him a pass. So many of us were so happy to have him there that we focused on the politics of pigment and phenotype and forgot the politics of policy. He rewarded other constituencies such as the LGBTQ, Latino and women, but ran from us unless he was forced to speak to us.

KW: How do you explain the Trump victory? Do you think the Democratic Party made a mistake closing ranks behind Hillary, especially after it was obvious that Bernie was the candidate with all the enthusiastic popular support?

WJL: There are a lot of factors to the Trump victory. Dr. King called it “white backlash” and Dr. Ronald Walters called it the politics of resentment. A major part of this was the backlash to 8 years of an African-American president. There are a lot of people who fear the “browning of America” and the election of Obama validated those fears. As Dr. Walters wrote in his book, “White Nationalism, Black Interests: Conservative Public Policy and the Black Community”: “Within American society, which includes contending social groups, there exists a balance of power that conforms to that society’s racial composition.” This balance must conform to the normal distribution of power, if society is to remain in equilibrium. President Obama, in the minds of a lot of people became an indicator that the normal distribution of power is askew and is in jeopardy. According to the Pew Research Center, 67% of non-college whites backed Trump, compared with just 28% who supported Clinton, hence his statement “I love the uneducated.” Trump won whites with a college degree 49% to 45%. The CBS Exit Poll data found that 54 per cent of white women voted for Trump. Trump also won among white, non-college women 62 to 34 percent and white college-educated men, 54 to 39 percent. This begs the question, for as nauseating as Hillary Clinton was to a lot of people, how could white-women vote for a shallow misogynist who called women pigs and said about Carly Fiorina “Look at that face…Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that the face of our next president?” And we know about his reference to women’s’ genitalia and he also objectifies his own daughter? In spite of this, white women saw value and redeeming qualities in this guy. They voted “white” before they voted “women.” A lot of working-class and middle-class whites who have seen their wages and salaries remain stagnant for 15 years were convinced that immigrants are stealing their jobs and social programs for lazy “colored” people have been draining the public coffers. Trump spoke directly to them and was able to convince them that he would be their champion. They wanted to believe him because he spoke to and validated their bigotry. We can also explain the Trump victory by understanding voter suppression and the Crosscheck Program. According to investigative journalist Greg Palast, Kris Kobach’s Crosscheck “removed tens of thousands of minority voters from the rolls in the swing states that surprisingly shifted to Trump… Stopping Crosscheck is the Standing Rock of racist vote suppression.” Yes, the Democratic Party made a mistake closing ranks behind Hillary, especially after it was obvious that Bernie was the candidate with all the enthusiastic popular support? This demonstrates that the Democratic power structure is closer to the ideology of the Republicans than the constituents they are supposed to represent. The way that the DNC mismanaged the nomination of Congressman Keith Ellison to be the DNC chair is another example of this. They are not nearly as “progressive” as they try to make themselves out to be.

KW: The country seems very divided by the election of Trump? Can that rift be healed while he’s in office?

WJL: No, not as long as the racist reactionary forces such as the Tea Party and Freedom Caucus continue to dominate. Also, neo-liberal politics is killing America and it’s being sold wrapped in the cloak of xenophobic, fearmongering, racist, reactionary politics. As Lester Spence writes, “Racial politics perform work here, as white attitudes about labor, work, crime and taxes are fused to attitudes about black men and women and, through them, to other non-white populations.” As Trump said, “When Mexico sends it people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” And on March 12 of this year, Congressman Steven King (R-Iowa) said “…culture and demographics are our destiny. We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.” The next day, King said, “Individuals will contribute differently, not equally, to this civilization and society. Certain groups of people will do more from a productive side than other groups of people will.”

KW: Do you think Trump is serious in terms of his plan to make Chicago’s South Side and other crime-ridden inner-city neighborhoods safe?

WJL: No. It’s a rhetoric to demonize a category of people and present a narrative that will prepare Americans for the militarization of our urban centers. The evidence is clear, safety comes from education, jobs, and the hope for a profitable future. Investing in the infrastructure of our inner cities and the people who live there is how you make them safe.

Wilmer J. Leon III , The “Politics: Another Perspective” Interview, Kam Williams, Black Politics American Government, Public Policy, SiriusXM Satellite host

KW: What about when it comes to jobs and education? He did make overtures to the HBCUs.

WJL: No, he did not. That was hollow rhetoric followed by a photo op. Budgets are numeric representations of priorities. When his budget was presented the funding he had discussed vanished.

KW: Is the country post-racial? How will we know when it is?

WJL: No. As long as African-American men are incarcerated at a rate of more than six times the rate of white men and the incarceration of black women continues to grow at record numbers, America will not be post-racial. As long as unemployment among African-Americans is more than twice the rate of white Americans, and as long as studies show that a black family’s income is a little more than half that of a similar white family’s income, America will not be post-racial. According to Forbes, “The typical black household now has just 6% of the wealth of the typical white household; the typical Latino household has just 8%, according to a recent study called The Racial Wealth Gap: Why Policy Matters, by Demos, a public policy organization promoting democracy and equality, and the Institute on Assets and Social Policy. In absolute terms, the median white household had $111,146 in wealth holdings in 2011, compared to $7,113 for the median black household and $8,348 for the median Latino household. [All figures come from the U.S. Census Bureau Survey of Income and Program Participation.]” This is what is called the “racial wealth gap.” And this is exacerbated by the problem with inter-generational transference of wealth. White parents are able to transfer assets to their children that African-American families cannot. As long as African-Americans continue to deal with “Driving While Black,” extrajudicial police murders, excessive high school dropout rates and imbalances in health care, America will not be post racial.

KW: AALBC.com founder Troy Johnson asks: What was the last book you read?

WJL: I tend to read a few books at a time. Let me say, “Stamped From the Beginning” by Ibram Kendi, “The Half Has Never Been Told” by Edward Baptist; “Knocking the Hustle” by Lester K. Spence, and “Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison I’m always re-reading the classics.

KW: Ling-Ju Yen asks: What is your earliest childhood memory?

WJL: Wow! Being driven to nursery school in Mrs. James’ white Corvair, with her son Dennis and Kenny McGhee.

KW: Who loved you unconditionally during your formative years?

WJL: My parents until their deaths.

KW: Was there a meaningful spiritual component to your childhood?

WJL: Yes. I was raised Catholic, sentenced as a child to do 1st to 12th grades in Catholic school, and served all 12 years. As the only African-American child in my class from grade 4 to 8, I was subjected to a lot of racist abuse by classmates and teachers. The spiritual element of my childhood came around the 6th grade when I was taught that the Jesus of history was a Palestinian Jew who looked more like me than my bigoted classmates and teachers, and not like the White Jesus/God that they were indoctrinating me to pray to.

KW: What is your favorite dish to cook?

WJL: Smoked roast and/or shrimp or chicken etouffee’.

KW: The Morris Chestnut question: Was there any particular moment in your childhood that inspired you to become the person you are today?

WJL: Sorry, but there are four. First, my mother ran the Head Start program in our home town of Sacramento, California in the Sixties, and she would take me with her in the summers to work with the kids. My dad was a parole officer early in his career and would take me with him on some of his visits with former parolees. My parents taught me that all humans have value and the importance of working for the empowerment of the community. Hearing Tom Porter’s voice on “Morning Conversations with Tom Porter” on WPFW 89.3 FM in DC in 1983. His perspective changed my world view. And seeing Dr. Ronald Walters with Ted Koppel on “Nightline.” I knew then that my life’s work would be as a political scientist and that Black Politics would be my focus.

KW: Sherry Gillam would like to know what is the most important life lesson you’ve learned so far?

WJL: As Sho Baraka says, “In the land of the passive, make sure that you man up; when introduced to a lady it’s always proper to stand up…always speak up for the weak until somebody listens…your knees should be hurt from prayin’ with your people and your shirt should be wet from cryin’ over evil.” Contrary to the popular narrative, our struggle has always been about the success of the collective not the individual.

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

WJL: A flawed man, husband and father trying mightily to measure up to the standard set by his brilliant, loving and committed parents.

  

KW: If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would that be for?

WJL: One more conversation with my parents. I miss them.

KW: Is there any question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would?

WJL: What was it like growing up in an African American community in South Sacramento as the son of Wilmer, Jr. and Edwina Leon? It was a blessing. I was a midget in the land of giants. I grew up around an eclectic group of educators, lawyers, physicians, Tuskegee Airman, etcetera, who were all committed to excellence, our culture, the community and raising their kids to be strong Race People who would fight against the racism that we were subjected to during the Sixties and Seventies.

KW: Judyth Piazza asks: What key quality do you believe all successful people share?

WJL: Challenging the status quo and using excellence to do so.

KW: What advice do you have for anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps?

WJL: Don’t. Learn from where I’ve gone; and lead, don’t follow.

KW: The Tavis Smiley question: How do you want to be remembered?

WJL: As a man who unconditionally loved his family and worked tirelessly to make his community better. And as a man who left the situation a little better than he found it.

KW: Thanks again for the time, Dr. Leon, and best of luck with the book.

WJL: Thank you for your interest, Kam, and for your assistance in promoting it.

To order a copy of “Politics: Another Perspective,” visit: https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B01M1GOC55/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

 

Source:  GIG News

Top Ten DVD List for April 18, 2017

 

This Week’s DVD Releases

by Kam Williams

Top Ten DVD List for April 18, 2017


                   

Hidden Figures

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B01LTI1RHQ/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

Punching Henry

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B01N6TX4GV/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg [The Criterion Collection]

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B01N6S6PQD/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

Ocean Waves

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B06WVBQMK5/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

A League of Their Own [25th Anniversary Edition]

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B06XC3C3X2/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

The Young Girls of Rochefort

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B01NBVZKQV/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

Split

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B01N5RAO66/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

John Lewis: Get in the Way

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B01N3D41CM/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

800 Words: Season 2, Part 1

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B01N7OXUWE/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

Paris 05:59 – Theo & Hugo

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B01N7ZM868/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

Honorable Mention

Kidnapped: Miniseries

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B06W9HZDLS//ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

Bigger Fatter Liar

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B01N3CYKI2/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

A Cowgirl’s Story
https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B01N3AX4XL/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

In the Doghouse

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B01N6WKIMH/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

Chupacabra Territory

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B06XFQJKYG/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

Walking with the Enemy

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B01LTIB9MY/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

Arctic Adventure: On Frozen Pond

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B01LTIAQDC/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

Sleepless

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B01N7WEZFO/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

Masterpiece: Home Fires [Season 2]

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B01IR4000U/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

American Experience: Ruby Ridge

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B01MT7DSA1/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

Smithsonian: Hell Below

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B01M9FMBRB/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

Mia and Me: Season 1, Volume 1

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B01MXLFG96/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

 

Source:  GIG News

WWI Saga Revolves around Love Triangle in the Midst of Ethnic Cleansing

 

The Promise

Film Review by Kam Williams

WWI Saga Revolves around Love Triangle in the Midst of Ethnic Cleansing

It’s Eastern Turkey in 1914, which is where we find druggist Mikael Boghosian (Oscar Isaac) applying his trade in his half-Armenian/half-Turkish village where Christians and Muslims get along swell. The ambitious, young apothecary would really rather be a doctor, so he strategically courts a neighbor (Angela Sarafyan) from a relatively-wealthy family just for the dowry.

Oscar Isaac as Michael Boghosian in The Promise. Photo Credit: Jose Haro

Those 400 gold coins do enable him to afford med school. However, while studying in Constantinople, he falls head-over-heels for Ana (Charlotte Le Bon), a fellow Armenian recently repatriated from France. The country bumpkin is taken not only with her pulchritude but with her urbane sophistication ostensibly cultivated over the course of a childhood spent in Paris. Trouble is, Ana has returned accompanied by her lover, Chris Meyers (Christian Bale), an intrepid, American photojournalist assigned by the Associated Press to find evidence of ethnic cleansing.

The Promise,  Film Review by Kam Williams, Oscar Isaac, Angela Sarafyan, Muslim, Armenian, ethnic cleansing, heroism

Charlotte Le Bon as Ana Khesarian and Christian Bale as Chris Myers in The Promise. Directed by Terry George. Photo Credit: Jose Haro

The plot thickens when World War I erupts. Instead of pursuing Ana and his M.D., Mikael finds himself fleeing the roundup of innocent Armenian civilians by the Turkish army. He makes his way back to his tiny hometown to rescue relatives and friends. Meanwhile, Ana is in a similar struggle to survive, and her beau does his best to shoot proof of the savage slaughter rumored to be transpiring.   

That is the dire set of circumstances established at the outset of The Promise, a riveting docudrama directed and co-written by Oscar-winner Terry George (The Short).  The edge-of-your-seat thriller bears an uncanny resemblance to Hotel Rwanda, which George directed and co-wrote, too.

The Promise,  Film Review by Kam Williams, Oscar Isaac, Angela Sarafyan, Muslim, Armenian, ethnic cleansing, heroism

For both of these films chronicle extraordinary exhibitions of heroism in the face of a complete collapse of civilization. If this picture has a flaw, it’s that it appears to be trivializing the ethnic cleansing of one and a half million Armenians when it asks that holocaust to serve as a mere backdrop to the love story at the center of the saga.

That being said, I nevertheless invested in the characters emotionally, and ended up teary-eyed during the denouement. War may be hell, but luckily, love still conquers all!

Excellent (3.5 stars)

Rated PG-13 for mature themes, sexuality, violence, disturbing images and war atrocities

Running time: 134 minutes

Production Studio: Survival Pictures

Distributor: Open Road Films

Source:  GIG News

“Is It Real or Is It Mockumentary?” Headscratcher Comes to DVD

 

Actor Martinez DVD Review by Kam Williams, ine line between fact and fiction, co-directors Mike Ott and Nathan Silver, Mildly amusing Actor Martinez

DVD Review by Kam Williams

“Is It Real or Is It Mockumentary?” Headscratcher Comes to DVD

Did you see I’m Still Here (2010), the mockumentary chronicling Joaquin Phoenix’s supposed retirement from acting to try his hand at rap music? Well, what made that movie fascinating was how it was edited in such a way as to make it impossible to tell whether the Oscar-nominated thespian was faking his conversion to hip-hop artist. Eventually, Joaquin did return to making movies, exposing the inscrutable biopic directed by Casey Affleck as just an elaborate hoax.

Actor Martinez is another headscratcher apt to keep you guessing whether what you’re watching is real or simply staged, as it walks a fine line between fact and fiction. However, this flick also flips the script in that Arthur Martinez is a gainfully-employed computer repairman now seeking to make it as an actor.

The story unfolds in Denver where we find co-directors Mike Ott and Nathan Silver following their subject around with a camera. Unfortunately, the underwhelming Martinez is not exactly a charismatic figure. Consequently, the only thing compelling about the picture is the answer to the pressing question of whether you’re watching a drama or a doc.

Mildly amusing, but nothing to write home about.

Good (2 stars)

Unrated

Running time: 76 minutes

Distributor: Break Glass Pictures

DVD Extras: Deleted scenes; Riot (a short film); and Q&A panels from the Denver and TriBeCa Film Festivals.

To see a trailer for Actor Martinez, visit: https://vimeo.com/155408406   

To order a copy of Actor Martinez on DVD, visit: https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B06VTFHQPX/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

Source:  GIG News

“Is It Real or Is It Mockumentary?” Headscratcher Comes to DVD

 

Actor Martinez  DVD Review by Kam Williams, ine line between fact and fiction, co-directors Mike Ott and Nathan Silver, Mildly amusing Actor Martinez

DVD Review by Kam Williams

“Is It Real or Is It Mockumentary?” Headscratcher Comes to DVD

Did you see I’m Still Here (2010), the mockumentary chronicling Joaquin Phoenix’s supposed retirement from acting to try his hand at rap music? Well, what made that movie fascinating was how it was edited in such a way as to make it impossible to tell whether the Oscar-nominated thespian was faking his conversion to hip-hop artist. Eventually, Joaquin did return to making movies, exposing the inscrutable biopic directed by Casey Affleck as just an elaborate hoax. 

Actor Martinez is another headscratcher apt to keep you guessing whether what you’re watching is real or simply staged, as it walks a fine line between fact and fiction. However, this flick also flips the script in that Arthur Martinez is a gainfully-employed computer repairman now seeking to make it as an actor.

The story unfolds in Denver where we find co-directors Mike Ott and Nathan Silver following their subject around with a camera. Unfortunately, the underwhelming Martinez is not exactly a charismatic figure. Consequently, the only thing compelling about the picture is the answer to the pressing question of whether you’re watching a drama or a doc.

Mildly amusing, but nothing to write home about.

Good (2 stars)

Unrated

Running time: 76 minutes

Distributor: Break Glass Pictures

DVD Extras: Deleted scenes; Riot (a short film); and Q&A panels from the Denver and TriBeCa Film Festivals. 

To see a trailer for Actor Martinez, visit: https://vimeo.com/155408406   

To order a copy of Actor Martinez on DVD, visit: https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B06VTFHQPX/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

Source:  GIG News

Cop under Fire

 

David Clarke, political correctness, controversial, Cop under Fire: Moving Beyond Hashtags of Race, Crime and Politics for a Better America, Cop under Fire
Moving Beyond Hashtags of Race, Crime and Politics for a Better America

by Sheriff David Clarke, Jr.

with Nancy French

Foreword by Sean Hannity

Worthy Publishing

Hardcover, $21.99

272 pages

ISBN: 978-1-617-95857-1

Book Review by Kam Williams

“David Clarke refuses to bow a knee to political correctness, and he refuses to give his party over to the hands of black activists whose politics would destroy America. That’s why I have Sheriff Clarke on my show so frequently… Some of my colleagues at Fox have said he’s too controversial. But I keep inviting him back…

I think Sheriff Clarke makes people uneasy because he defies easy easy categorization. He’s black, but he’s against Black Lives Matter. He ran as a Democrat in Milwaukee, but he spoke at the Republican National Convention.

He’s from an urban area, but he’s more conservative than an Alabama Tea Party member. It’s easier for people to stereotype than deal with the actual man and his actual beliefs.

In this book, Sheriff Clarke writes about how his traditional upbringing in the housing projects of Milwaukee improbably David Clarke, political correctness, controversial, Cop under Fire: Moving Beyond Hashtags of Race, Crime and Politics for a Better Americamolded him into the cowboy hat and boots-wearing sheriff we know and love today… Here’s the truth: the principles Sheriff Clarke stands for are the same principles this nation was built on.” 

— Excerpted from the Foreword (pages xi-xiii)

David Clarke has become a familiar face on the network news channels in

recent years, thanks mostly to his many appearances on Fox where he routinely trumpets arch-conservative positions on popular issues while sporting his trademark, ten-gallon cowboy hat. Much of his appeal undoubtedly rests in the fact that he is a confident black man articulately advancing an array of right-wing ideas.   

For instance, he’s very pro-cop, which only makes sense, since he’s the Sheriff of Milwaukee County. However, he’s also an outspoken opponent of the Black Lives Matter Movement, which he derides as “nothing more than an AstroTurf operation… of community organizers and leftists who specialize in fostering rebellion in ghettos.” Furthermore, he indicts it as a “hate group” with an “anti-cop ideology” whose real goal is anarchy.

Clarke became a national figure after he accepted an invitation from Donald Trump to address the 2016 Republican Convention during prime time. He received the loudest and longest ovation of the week when he opened his speech with, “Ladies and Gentlemen, I would like to make something very clear. Blue Lives Matter in America!”

The Sheriff is pro-gun , too, and explains why in a chapter entitled, “The Second Amendment Isn’t Just for White People.” His basic thesis there is that “There simply aren’t enough of us to protect all of you,” and “when seconds count, the police are minutes away.” He asserts that “survival is the first law of nature” before concluding, “Sometimes that means fighting off criminal predators.”

In addition, Clarke is pro-charter school, anti-abortion and a defender of the criminal justice system who says that prison is supposed to be unpleasant, not a country club. Despite leaning so far to the right, he has been re-elected Sheriff four times by his predominantly Democratic constituency.

Check out his entire, incendiary platform in Cop under Fire: Moving Beyond Hashtags of Race, Crime and Politics for a Better America, a combination memoir/position paper from a charismatic iconoclast likely to be working in the White House before long. 

To order a copy of Cop under Fire, visit:

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1617958573/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

 

Source:  GIG News

Six-Time, Oscar-Nominee Released on Home Video

 

Lion,  Blu-ray Review by Kam Williams, Dev Patel, Priyanka Bose, Abhishek Bharate, Khushi Solanki, A Long Way Home, heartbreaking biopic that definitely packs an emotional punchLion

Blu-ray Review by Kam Williams

Six-Time, Oscar-Nominee Released on Home Video

Saroo (Dev Patel) had the misfortune of being born into poverty in India’s Khandwa district. He lived there with his single-mom, Kamla (Priyanka Bose), along with his big brother, Guddu (Abhishek Bharate), and younger sister, Shekila (Khushi Solanki).

His illiterate mother was reduced to carrying rocks for a living, and she could barely afford to keep a roof over their heads. So, when Guddu found a night job hauling bales of hay, Saroo leapt at the chance to contribute, too, even though he was obviously a little small.

And he promptly fell asleep after the long ride to the worksite sitting on his brother’s bike’s handlebars. “It’s my fault,” Guddu lamented, before leaving Saroo alone to spend the night on a train station bench.

Trouble is, when Guddu failed to return by daybreak, the frantic 5 year-old inadvertently stowed away aboard a freight train headed to Bengal, a port-of-call 1,600 miles east. Upon arriving, Saroo couldn’t get any help from strangers, between his not speaking the language and his mispronouncing the name of his hometown, “Ganestalay.”

Consequently, he ended up struggling to survive on the streets until he landed in a local orphanage. Since Saroo didn’t know his own last name or where he was from, he was ultimately shipped off to Melbourne to meet Sue (Nicole Kidman) and John Brierley (David Wenham), an Australian couple eager to adopt him.

For the next quarter-century, he enjoyed an idyllic life, whether playing cricket, swimming in a cove off the ocean, or dating Lucy (Rooney Mara), a lovely Aussie lassie. All was well until the fateful evening a childhood memory was triggered during a dinner of Indian food.

Suddenly curious about his roots, Saroo was subsequently encouraged by Lucy to use  Google Earth to find the spot on the planet that he hailed from. Once he recognized a few familiar places from his formative years, all that was left to do was to hop back on a plane and reunite with his long-lost family.

Adapted from Saroo Brierley’s autobiography, “A Long Way Home,” Lion is a heartbreaking biopic that definitely packs an emotional punch. Directed by Garth Davis, the film was nominated for a half-dozen Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor (Dev Patel) and Best Supporting Actress (Nicole Kidman).

A bittersweet variation on the “I was lost, but now I’m found” theme of the parable of the Prodigal Son.

Excellent (4 stars)

Rated PG-13 for mature themes and some sensuality

In English, Hindi and Bengali with subtitles

Running time: 118 minutes

Distributor: Anchor Bay Entertainment / The Weinstein Company

Blu-ray Extras: Deleted scenes; a behind-the-scenes gallery; and “Never Give Up” performed by Sia – official lyric video.

Lion, Blu-ray Review by Kam Williams, Dev Patel, Priyanka Bose, Abhishek Bharate, Khushi Solanki, A Long Way Home, heartbreaking biopic that definitely packs an emotional punch

  

To order a copy of Lion on Blu-ray, visit: https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B01LTI1KH8/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20 

 

Source:  GIG News