Monday, May 16, 2022

Kam Williams

Veteran entertainment correspondent Kam Williams brings you the latest interviews and movie reviews from Hollywood!

by Kam Williams  This Week’s DVD ReleasesBorn in China      Grey's Anatomy: Season 13     Bring It On: Worldwide #Cheersmack     Delicious: Series 1     The Evil in Us     Black Sails: Season Four     Ireland's Wild Coast ...
 Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun  by Kam Williams OPENING THIS WEEK BIG BUDGET FILMSNoneINDEPENDENT & FOREIGN FILMS Do It Like a Hombre (R for pervasive sexuality) Out-of-the-closet comedy about a lifelong friendship which is tested when a guy...
By Kam Williams There are a number of action films whose opening scenes alone are well worth the price of admission. Taken (2008), District B-13 (2004) Super 8 (2011) and Dawn of ...
By Kam Williams

Aldis Hodge is perhaps best known for his role as Alec Hardison on the TNT series Leverage which nabbed a People's Choice Award in 2013, in addition to his role as MC Ren in Straight Outta Compton. Furthermore, he starred in the Amazon pilot The After and enjoyed a recurring role on the AMC Revolutionary War drama Turn: Washington's Spies. Aldis appeared opposite Alexander Skarsgard and Ellen Page in the eco-terrorism thriller “The East.” And he appeared in A Good Day to Die Hard, the latest installment of the “Die Hard” franchise. Aldis started his career at 3 as a model for print ads and commercials. He made the transition to the small screen when he and his brother Edwin were cast on Sesame Street. Later, they joined the Tony-winning revival of Showboat on Broadway. During that period, he parlayed his success on stage into a movie career, debuting in Die Hard with a Vengeance, before making Bed of Roses, The Stone House, Edmond, The Ladykillers and Big Momma’s House. Aldis' television roles include the critically-acclaimed series Friday Night Lights, Supernatural, The Walking Dead, Girlfriends, American Dreams, City of Angels, Bones, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, ER, Cold Case, Charmed and Boston Public. Born in Jacksonville, North Carolina, but raised in New York and New Jersey, Aldis is an avid scriptwriter, designer and painter in addition to acting. Here, he talks about playing Levi Jackson in the Oscar-nominated Hidden Figures and about reprising the role of Noah on the television series Underground about the Underground Railroad which just started its second season on the WGN America network. Kam Williams: Hi Aldis, I'm honored to have this opportunity to speak with you. Aldis Hodge: I appreciate your time as well, Kam. KW: Congratulations on the second season of Underground. What first interested you in doing the series? AH: I enjoyed the way the story was written. I was intrigued by the narrative showing people rising up and fighting for their freedom. KW: What can we expect to see new this season. AH: I'll put it like this, brother. Everybody thought it couldn't get crazier or more dangerous, but it does. Last year, everyone was focused on this idea of freedom and just getting off the plantation without contemplating the harsh reality of what that really meant. At the end of the season, we were pretty much split up. Now, you get a pretty introspective view of each character. We're all dealing with the consequences of what transpired last season in our own way. My character, Noah, was learning what it meant to try to be a leader. This season, he's learning more about who he is as a man. Right now, the strength of his love for Rosalee [played by Jurnee Smollett-Bell] is more important to him than freedom, whereas last year was purely about survival. KW: What's it like acting opposite Jurnee? AH: She's awesome! That's my road dog right there. Our characters go through so much together this season that we have to depend on each other emotionally as actors. We didn't share a lot of scenes together because our story focuses on Noah and Rosalee's trying to get back to each other. We see that their love transcends their situation. There's still a very powerful connection between them, and we had to develop that. So, we had to take a different approach, and Jurnee was there 100% of the way. She is an absolute beast! KW: What's it been like working a real-life icon, Harriet Tubman, into the story? AH: It's great that we get to honor Tubman's legacy through a real-life representation, although we'd already paid tribute to her last season. It's not really a different approach. The only thing that's changed is that we have a fantastic actress in Aisha Hinds materializing Tubman. Aisha does a fantastic job of enabling us to explore who Harriet Tubman was. KW: Congratulations on Hidden Figures' win at the Screen Actors Guild awards. Were you surprised? AH: It was a huge surprise. We were all blown away. The girls [Taraji P. Henson, Janelle Monae and Octavia Spencer] were all crying, and I think I might have dropped a tear or two, too. The film has gotten so much love. It was awesome because this award was coming directly from a pool of several hundred thousand actors. Our peers! So, we were very grateful. KW: Why do you think Hidden Figures has made the most money of all the movies nominated for the Best Picture Oscar? AH: It's absolutely because of the message. Granted, a big part is that people will go to the theater and enjoy it. But I think the primary reason it's been so effective is that it represents the antidote to some of the cultural issues we're still dealing with as a nation. It illustrates what can be accomplished when you look beyond the prejudices and stereotypes and allow equality to win out overall. These women accomplished what they did in spite of segregated bathrooms, and not having equal pay or the right to vote. That made it an inspiring film for both little girls and boys. It's exactly what America needs right now. KW: Your mom is from the South and your father is from Dominica. Did they ever talk to you when you were growing up about any racial discrimination they experienced? AH: Yes,my mom experienced racism. She was harassed by the KKK several times. And I experienced racism myself, growing up. In New Jersey, we had trash thrown on our lawn every day. And we had the lines to our Christmas lights cut three years in a row. We just stopped putting up Christmas lights after that. That's probably why I still don't put up any lights during the holidays. People talk about Jim Crow as if it's dead. Jim Crow isn't gone. It's adjusted. Look at the disproportionate sentences meted out to blacks caught up in the criminal justice system. There's a problem when people profit from putting and keeping African-Americans in prison. We need to do a better job as a nation understanding the real values the country's built upon in terms of fairness, equality and equal opportunity. That's why I like being a part of projects like Hidden Figures and Underground. They illustrate mistakes of the past we need not repeat, as well as the beauty of the progress achieved when everybody cares about the underprivileged. KW: Editor/Legist Patricia says: I recently saw Hidden Figures and I loooooved it! I even started to read the book before there was talk about releasing the film. Were you familiar with the role these women had played in the NASA space program before you got the script? AH: Yes, but I didn't know much beyond the fact that there were these black, female mathematicians who had accomplished this great feat. KW: Patricia continues: You write scripts. Is there a story special to you that you would like to see turned into a film? AH: Yes, I have a few projects that I'm already working on right now that I have to keep under wraps. I also think the Emmett Till story needs to be told, because his accuser just came out and admitted that her story wasn't true, and because his murderers bragged about lynching him after they were acquitted, since they couldn't be tried twice. Again, problems with the legal system. KW: Lastly, Patricia says: Your parents served in the U.S. Marine Corps. Did you travel a lot with them growing up? If so, was it useful in your up bringing? AH: Yeah, when I was younger, we moved from North Carolina to Hawaii, and then from Hawaii to New Jersey. Nowadays, my job keeps me traveling on a regular basis, and I think my childhood did prepare me for it. KW: Finally, what’s in your wallet? AH: [LOL] What’s in my wallet? Just my business card. KW: Keep up the good work, Aldis, and I look forward to speaking with you again soon. AH: Likewise, Kam. Thank you.
By Kam Williams, Special to The New Tri-State Defender

BIG BUDGET FILMS Star Trek Beyond (PG-13 for action and violence) 13th episode in the intergalactic, sci-fi franchise finds Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) and the crew of the USS Enterprise stranded on an uncharted planet after being forced to abandon ship following an alien attack. With Idris Elba as the new nemesis, and Zachary Quinto as Dr. Spock, John Cho as Lt. Sulu, Simon Pegg as Scotty, Zoe Saldana as Lt. Uhuru, Karl Urban as Bones and the late Anton Yelchin as Chekov. Ice Age: Collision Course (PG for mild rude humor, action and scenes of peril) 5th installment in the prehistoric fantasy franchise finds woolly mammoth Manny (Ray Romano), ground sloth Sid (John Leguizamo) and smilodon Diego (Denis Leary) and company on an epic trek to prevent impending asteroid strikes inadvertently triggered by saber- toothed squirrel Scrat’s (Chris Wedge) pursuit of that ever-elusive acorn. Voice cast ensemble includes Queen Latifah, Jennifer Lopez, Simon Pegg, Michael Strahan, Keke Palmer, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Wanda Sykes, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Nick Offerman and Adam DeVine. Lights Out (PG-13 for violence, mature themes, disturbing images, incessant terror and brief drug use) Haunted house horror flick revolving around a family which finds itself preyed upon by a malevolent ghost (Alicia Vela-Bailey) which only attacks in the dark. With Maria Bello, Gabriel Bateman, Alexandra DiPersia and Billy Burke. INDEPENDENT & FOREIGN FILMS Absolutely Fabulous (R for profanity, sexuality and drug use) Adaptation of the British TV sitcom revolving around a couple of flamboyant, aging fashionistas (Jennnifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley) who flee London for the French Riviera after creating a media storm by accidentally knocking now-missing supermodel Kate Moss off a balcony and into the River Thames. With Rebel Wilson, Joanna Lumley, John Hamm and Alexa Chung, with cameos by Jerry Hall and Joan Collins. Don’t Think Twice (R for profanity and drug use) Ensemble dramedy about the emotional fallout vis- ited upon a fledgling, im- prov comedy troupe when one of its members (Kee- gan Michael-Key) gets a big break on a Saturday Night Live-type TV show. Cast members include Gl- lian Jacobs, Chris Gethard, Kate Micucci, Tami Sagher and the film’s writer/director Mike Birbiglia. Don’t Worry Baby (Unrated) “Who’s the daddy?” dramedy about a philandering husband (Christopher MacDonald) who unknowingly cheats on his wife (Talia Balsam) by sleeping with the same woman (Dreama Walker) as their son (John Magaro), only to learn that one of them is the father of her daughter (Rainn Williams). With Tom Lipinski, Britt Lower and Phil Burke.
By Kam Williams, Special to The New Tri-State Defender

BIG BUDGET FILMS Ghostbusters (PG-13 for action and crude humor) Gender-bent reboot of the classic comedy revolving around a scientist (Melissa McCarthy), a professor (Kristen Wiig), a nuclear engineer (Kate McKinnon) and a subway token booth clerk (Leslie Jones) who join forces to save Manhattan from a demonic disembodied spirit (Neil Casey). Ensemble cast includes Chris Hemsworth, Cecily Strong, Andy Garcia and Michael Kenneth Williams, with cameo appearances by Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver and Ernie Hudson. The Infiltrator (R for pervasive profanity, graphic violence, drug use and some sexuality) Bryan Cranston plays the title character in this fact-based drama, set in 1985, about a U.S. Customs Agent who posed as a money- launderer in order to infiltrate Pablo Escobar’s Colombian drug cartel. With Benjamin Bratt, John Leguizamo, Diane Kruger and Amy Ryan. INDEPENDENT & FOREIGN FILMS C Street (R for sexuality and drug use) Freewheeling farce about a U.S. Senate intern (Evan Hall) who pimps out his crib to sex-starved politicians only to catch his boss (Dylan Walsh) in bed with the object of his affection (Shaun Licata). Cast includes Bruce Altman, Carey Lowell and Don Stark. Cafe Society (PG-13 for violence, suggestive material, smoking and a drug reference) Woody Allen romantic dramedy, set in the 1930s, revolving around a New Yorker (Jesse Eisenberg) who relocates to Los Angeles hoping to work for his uncle (Steve Carell), only to fall in love with the powerful Hollywood agent’s secretary (Kristen Stewart). With Sheryl Lee, Jeannie Berlin and Richard Portnow. Don’t Blink: Robert Frank (Unrated) “Say cheese!” biopic chronicling the enduring career of 91 year-old Robert Frank, legendary photojournalist and independent filmmaker. Equals (PG-13 for sensuality, mature themes, partial nudity and disturbing images) Futuristic tale of forbidden love, set in a dystopia devoid of disease and human emotion, about a couple of co-workers (Nicholas Hoult and Kristen Stewart) who find themselves falling head- over-heels for each other after becoming infected with a mysterious new virus. Cast includes Guy Pearce, Jacki Weaver, Scott Lawrence and Kate Lyn Sheil. Free to Run (Unrated) Fitness documentary revisiting the rise of running as a popular form of exercise 50 years ago. (In French and English with subtitles) Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party (PG-13 for violence, mature themes and smoking) Political documentary, written and directed by arch-conservative Dinesh D’Souza, incriminating Hillary Clinton while uncovering shady skeletons in the Democrats’ closet. Featuring commentary by D’Souza, Jonah Goldberg and Peter Schweizer.
By Kam Williams, Special to The New Tri-State Defender

BIG BUDGET FILMS The Secret Life of Pets (PG for action and some rude humor) Animated comedy about a pampered terrier (Louis C.K.) whose life is turned upside-down when his owner (Ellie Kemper) brings home a big, sloppy mongrel (Eric Songstreet) found at the dog pound. Voice cast includes Kevin Hart, Jenny Slate, Albert Brooks, Lake Bell and Bobby Moynihan. Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates (R for crude sexuality, graphic nudity, drug use and pervasive profanity) Romantic comedy revolving around slacker siblings (Zac Efron and Adam Devine) who find a couple of party animals (Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza) to take to their sister’s (Sugar Lyn Beard) wedding in Hawaii after advertising for dates. With Wendy Williams, Stephen Root and Chloe Bridges. INDEPENDENT & FOREIGN FILMS At the Fork (Unrated) Agri-business documentary examining the mechanization of the processes involved in the raising and harvesting of farm animals for human consumption. Captain Fantastic (R for profanity and brief graphic nudity) Viggo Mortensen stars in the title role of this survivalist saga as a widower raising a half-dozen kids off the grid in the forest of the Pacific Northwest until they are forced by circumstances to rejoin mainstream civilization. With George MacKay, Samantha Isler and Annalise Basso. Fathers and Daughters (R for sexuality) Character- driven drama about a Pulitzer Prize-winning widower’s (Russell Crowe) struggle with parenting issues following a mental breakdown. Ensemble cast includes Amanda Seyfried, Quvenzhane Wallis, Jane Fonda, Octavia Spencer, Diane Kruger and Bruce Greenwood. Indian Point (Unrated) Investigative expose’ exploring whether New York’s aging nuclear power plant at Indian Point is still safe. Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You (Unrated) Reverential retrospective revisiting the career of one of the most successful television producers of all time, including such groundbreaking shows as All in the Family and The Jeffersons. Featuring commentary by George Clooney, Bill Moyers, John Amos and Jay Leno. Our Little Sister (PG for mature themes and brief mild epithets) Dysfunctional family dramedy about three sisters (Haruka Ayase, Masami Nagasawa and Kaho) living in their late grandmother’s home who invite a half- sibling (Suzu Hirose) they meet at their father’s funeral to move in with them. Cast includes Ryo Kase, Ryohei Suzuki and Takafumi Ikeda. (In Japanese with subtitles) Under the Sun (Unrated) Bamboo curtain documentary chronicling a year in the life of an ordinary North Korean family from Pyongyang. (In Korean with subtitles) Zero Days (PG-13 for profanity) Malware documentary detailing the blowback visited on the internet after the deployment of the Stuxnet virus against Iran by the U.S. and Israel in order to cripple the country’s nuclear enrichment program.
By Kam Williams, Special to The New Tri-State Defender

BIG BUDGET FILMS The Purge: Election Year (R for profanity and disturbing, graphic violence) Third episode in the horror franchise finds a U.S. presidential candidate (Elizabeth Mitchell) and her bodyguard (Frank Grillo) on the run from government operatives during The Purge because of her campaign promise to discontinue the gruesome annual ritual. Cast includes Edwin Hodge, Kyle Secor and Mykelti Williamson. The BFG (PG for action, peril, scary images and rude humor) Steven Spielberg directed this adaptation of Roald Dahl’s beloved children’s novel about the unlikely friendship forged between a little girl (Ruby Barnhill) and the only member of a hostile race of invading giants (Mark Rylance) who won’t eat children. With Rebecca Hall, Bill Hader and Rafe Spall. The Legend of Tarzan (PG-13 for action, violence, sensuality and brief crude dialogue) Alexander Skarsgard handles the title role in this adaptation of the Edgar Rice Burroughs adventure about a British boy born an aristocrat but raised in the Congo by apes. Ensemble includes Margot Robbie, Samuel L. Jackson, Christoph Waltz, Jim Broadbent and Djimon Hounsou. (In English and Bantu wuth subtitles) INDEPENDENT & FOREIGN FILMS Buddymoon (Unrated) Road comedy about a just-jilted groom-to-be (David Giuntoli) who honeymoons anyway, but with his incessantly-optimistic best man (Flula Berg). Cast includes Claire Coffee, Brian T. Finney and Jeanne Syquia. The Innocents (PG-13 for disturbing mature themes, sexual assault, bloody images and brief suggestive content) Post-World War II saga, set in Poland in 1945, about a Red Cross intern (Lou de Laage) who discovers a convent containing a number of liberated Benedictine nuns impregnated while imprisoned in a concentration camp. With Agata Buzek, Jaonna Kulig and Anna Prochniak. (In French, Polish and Russian with subtitles) Life, Animated (PG for mature themes and a suggestive reference) Heartwarming documentary chronicling how Disney cartoons and supportive parents helped an autistic boy overcome a host of his challenges. Microbe & Gasoline (R for teen sexuality) Coming-of-age comedy about a couple of high school outcasts (Ange Dargent and Theophile Baquet) who embark on a summer road trip across France in an automobile they built themselves. With Diane Basnier, Audrey Tautou and Vincent Lamoureux. (In French with subtitles) Our Kind of Traitor (R for violence, sexuality, frontal nudity, brief drug use and pervasive profanity) Adaptation of the John le Carre international thriller of the same name about a naive Britsh couple (Ewan McGregor and Naomie Harris) duped into helping a powerful Russian mobster (Stellan Skarsgard) while vacationing in Morocco. With Damian Lewis, Alicia von Rittberg and Mark Stanley. Roseanne for President! (Unrated) Prestige biopic recounting comedienne Roseanne Barr’s unsuccessful run for president during the 2012 campaign. Featuring Michael Moore, Rosie O’Donnell and Sandra Bernhard.
By Kam Williams, Special to The New Tri-State Defender

BIG BUDGET FILMS Now You See Me 2 (PG-13 for violence and some profanity) Mind-bending sequel finds the Four Horsemen (Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Dave Franco and Lizzy Caplan) reuniting for another illusion-driven adventure in order to clear their names while exposing the unethical practices of a young tech magnate (Daniel Radcliffe). A-list ensemble includes Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Sanaa Lathan and Mark Ruffalo. The Conjuring 2 (R for violence and terror) Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson reprise their roles as peripatetic investigators of paranormal activity in this suspense thriller, set in London, where the couple comes to the assistance of a family whose house is haunted by evil spirits. With Frances O’Connor, Lauren Esposito and Franka Potente. Warcraft (PG-13 for intense violence) Fantasy adventure, inspired by the video game series of the same name, revolving around an epic showdown between the peaceful inhabitants of an idyllic realm and a race of warlike invaders from a dying world facing extinction. Starring Paula Patton, Travis Fimmel, Ben Foster and Dominic Cooper. INDEPENDENT & FOREIGN FILMS Be Somebody (PG for mature themes, suggestive comments and mild epithets) Romance drama about a jaded pop star (Matthew Espinosa) burdened by fame who finds love with an ordinary, small-town girl (Sarah Jeffery) while taking a break from the limelight. With Allison Paige, LaMonica Garrett and Mahaley Patel. De Palma (R for sexuality, profanity, violent images and graphic nudity) Reverential portrait of iconoclastic filmmaker Brian De Palma, director of such screen classics as Scarface, The Untouchables, Carlito’s Way, Carrie, Blow Out and Mission Impossible. Genius (PG-13 for mature themes and suggestive content) Prestige biopic chronicling the career of Max Perkins (Colin Firth), the legendary editor at Scribner’s who discovered such literary giants as Ernest Hemingway (Dominic West), F. Scott Fitzgerald (Guy Pearce) and Thomas Wolfe (Jude Law). Supporting cast includes Nicole Kidman, Laura Linney and Vanessa Kirby. Germans & Jews (Unrated) Truth and reconciliation documentary chronicling the cultural transformation of Berlin, the European city with the fastest growing Jewish population. King Jack (Unrated) Charlie Plummer plays the title character in this coming-of-age tale, set over the course of a very eventful weekend, about an ostracized 15 year- old outcast being bullied by a sadistic, bigger boy (Danny Flaherty). With Cory Nichols, Christian Madsen, Chloe Levine and Erin Davie. Last Cab to Darwin (Unrated) Bittersweet dramedy about a terminally-ill loner (Michael Caton) who embarks on a long trek to the Australian Outback in order to pass away on his own terms. Featuring Ningali Lawford, Mark Coles Smith and Emma Hamilton and Jacki Weaver. The Music of Strangers (PG-13 for brief profanity) Multicultural documentary in which renowned cellist Yo- Yo Ma and members of the Silk Road Ensemble expound upon their musical philosophies. Puerto Ricans in Paris (R for profanity and sexual references) Fish-out-of-water comedy about a couple of Latino NYPD detectives (Luis Guzman and Edgar Garcia) who travel to France to track down some stolen designer handbags. With Rosario Dawson, Rosie Perez and Ravi Patel.