Kids Disappear in Dust Storm in Atmospheric Aussie Thriller

 

Strangerland

Film Review by Kam Williams

 

Kids Disappear in Dust Storm in Atmospheric Aussie Thriller

 

Pharmacist Matthew Parker (Joseph Fiennes) has just moved his family from Australia’s capital city of Canberra to a tiny town in the Australian Outback where he has accepted a position at the
only drug store for miles around. The impetus behind the relocation had less to do with the job than with his daughter Lily’s (Maddison Brown) need for a new environment. 

For, the troubled 15 year-old had developed a crush on a high school teacher (Martin Dingle Wall), who proceeded to take advantage of the situation by sleeping with his student. Her dad became so incensed when the two continued to rendezvous after the statutory rape  was revealed that he beat up the perpetrator which, in turn, led to Lily’s running away from home to be with her abuser.
Strangerland, Joseph Fiennes, Nicole Kidman, Maddison Brown, Film Review, Kam Williams

Thus, the idea of a fresh start far away proved very appealing to Matthew and his wife Catherine (Nicole Kidman), even if their young son Tommy (Nicholas Hamilton) was unhappy about being stuck in the desert far from all his friends. Despite her constant complaining, the adjustment was not as hard on Lily, given how successfully she was able to flirt with the hottest local hunk, Steve (Sean Keenan), a rebel with a cool tattoo.

The plot thickens the morning after a dust storm engulfs the godforsaken oasis, when Matthew and Catherine awaken to discover the kids inexplicably gone. Once it’s determined that neither went to school, they quickly report Lily and Tommy missing to the police.

Strangerland, Joseph Fiennes, Nicole Kidman, Maddison Brown, Film Review, Kam Williams

The case is assigned to Detective David Rae (Hugo Weaving), a skeptical gumshoe  very adept at criminal investigation. He soon identifies a number of persons of interest in the mysterious disappearance: Lily’s ex-teacher, Mr. McPherson; her surly suitor, Steve; the Parkers’ aborigine handyman, Burtie (Meyne Wyatt); and a host of others.

Strangerland, Joseph Fiennes, Nicole Kidman, Maddison Brown, Film Review, Kam Williams

Thus unfolds Strangerland, a deliberately-paced, visually-captivating thriller directed by Kim Farrant (Naked on the Inside). The film features a quartet of excellent performances, including Nicole Kidman’s as a mother who, understandably, grows increasingly anguished over her offspring’s whereabouts. Joseph Fiennes is equally compelling as her concerned, if emotionally-unavailable, spouse. Also of note are veteran character actor Hugo Weaving (The Matrix) and newcomer Maddison Brown, who makes a most impressive screen debut as Lily.

An atmospheric whodunit guaranteed to keep you intrigued and guessing right to the very end.   

Excellent (3.5 stars)

Rated R for profanity, sexuality and brief nudity                       

Running time: 95 minutes

Distributor: Alchemy

Source:  Baret News Wire

Abandoned Attorney Becomes Domesticated in Dysfunctional Family Drama

 

Alex of Venice

DVD Review by Kam Williams

 

Abandoned Attorney Becomes Domesticated in Dysfunctional Family Drama

 

Alex (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) has been such a workaholic attorney that she’s been blissfully unaware of her husband George’s (Chris Messina) discontent with the marriage. Between Alex of Veniceshuttling their 10 year-old son (Skyler Gartner) to school and making sure his father-in-law (Don Johnson) takes his meds, the stay-at-home dad has grown tired of his role as Mr. Mom.

After all, his original plan was to pursue a career as an artist while caring for the family. But his domestic duties have kept him too busy to do any painting.

So, Alex is caught totally by surprise the day he announces that he wants out and summarily vacates the premises. Suddenly, she finds herself overwhelmed after having to juggle her job and her hubby’s responsibilities.

She’s used to putting in long hours at the office, including on Sunday. But it soon becomes clear that she has to reorder her priorities, despite her sister’s (Katie Nehra) moving in to help pick up some of the slack.

Alex begins to appreciate that there’s more to life than the rat race, and she decides it’s time she step off the treadmill to spend more quality time with her son. Furthermore, George was the only man she’d ever slept with. Now free to date, she impulsively gets involved with a hunky black defendant (Derek Luke) she spots across a crowded courtroom, even though she’s the representing his opponent in a hotly-contested civil case.

Thus unfolds Alex of Venice, a super-realistic slice-of-life adventure featuring Mary Elizabeth Winstead in the title role. The movie also marks the noteworthy directorial debut of co-star Chris Messina, winner of a SAG Award for Argo in the Outstanding Cast category.

Alex of Venice, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Chris Messina, DVD Review, Kam Williams

This quixotic character study proves to be less poignant than meandering, as it paints a plausible picture of a just-dumped divorcee doing her best to pick up the pieces of her shattered dreams.

Excellent (3.5 stars)

Rated R for profanity, sexual references and drug use

Running time: 86 minutes

Distributor: Screen Media Films

To order a copy of Alex of Venice on DVD, visit:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00WTQ9BGW/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

Source:  Baret News Wire

 

For movies opening July 3, 2015

 

OPENING THIS WEEK
Kam’s Kapsules:            
Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun                  
by Kam Williams

 


For movies opening July 3, 2015

Movies Opening This Week,  Kam's Kapsules, Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun, Kam Williams, July 3, 2015

 

BIG BUDGET FILMS      

Faith of Our Fathers (PG-13 for brief violence) Christian-oriented drama about two strangers (Kevin Downes and David A.R. White) who bond while driving from Mississippi to Washington, DC with plans to locate where their killed-in-action dads’ names were engraved in the Vietnam War Memorial. With Stephen Baldwin, Candace Cameron Bure and Rebecca St. James.

Magic Mike XXL (R for nudity, drug use, graphic sexuality and pervasive profanity) Channing Tatum reprises the title role in this titillating sequel which finds what’s left of the Kings of Tampa reuniting to perform at the annual strippers convention in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Ensemble cast includes Jada Pinkett Smith, Adam Rodriguez, Amber Heard, Andie MacDowell, Stephen “tWitch” Boss, Michael Strahan and Gabriel Iglesias.

Terminator Genisys (PG-13 for intense violence, partial nudity and brief profanity) Reboot of the sci-fi franchise, set in 2029, finds John Connor (Jason Clarke) again leading the resistance in humanity’s ongoing war with the cyborgs. Cast includes Arnold Schwarzenegger, JK Simmons, Emilia Clarke, Dayo Okeniyi, Matt Smith, Courtney B. Vance and Jai Courtney. 


INDEPENDENT & FOREIGN FILMS

Amy (R for profanity and drug use) Bittersweet biopic revisiting the rise and fall of Grammy-winner Amy Winehouse who died of alcohol poising in 2011 at the age of 27. Featuring appearances by Tony Bennett, Mark Ronson and Mos Def.

Cartel Land (Unrated) Drug wars documentary chronicling the vigilante uprising led by a small-town physician trying to topple the cartel wreaking havoc on Michoacan, Mexico. (In English and Spanish with subtitles)

In Stereo (Unrated) Romantic dramedy about the on-again/off-again relationship of a couple of thirty-somethings (Beau Garrett and Micah Hauptman) who take forever to wake up and realize they were meant for each other. With Maggie Geha, Aimee Mullins and Mario Cantone.

Jackie & Ryan (PG-13 for suggestive material and brief profanity) Romance drama revolving around the unlikely love which blossoms between a train-hopping hobo (Ben Barnes) and a socialite (Katherine Heigl) embroiled in a nasty, child custody battle. Support cast includes Clea DuVall, Sheryl Lee and Nathan Stevens.   

Jimmy’s Hall (PG-13 for profanity and a scene of violence) Barry Ward plays the title character in this historical drama revolving around the return to Ireland in 1932 of Jimmy Gralton, a Communist organizer deported to the U.S. a decade earlier during the “Red Scare.” With Francis Magee, Aileen Henry and Simone Kirby.   

Mala Mala (Unrated) Genderbending documentary celebrating the lives of nine members of Puerto Rico’s transgender and drag queen communities. (In Spanish and English with subtitles)

Stray Dog (Unrated) Reverential biopic about Ron Hall, a biker with a heart of gold who has devoted his life to helping pet pooches, friends, family and fellow Vietnam vets.

Zarafa (Unrated) Animated adventure, set in the 19th Century, about a 10 year-old runaway slave (Max Renaudin Pratt) who flees sub-Saharan Africa across the desert on the back of a giraffe before sailing to Paris with the help of a Greek princess-turned-pirate (Ronit Elkabetz). Voice cast includes Simon Abkarian, Roger Dumas and Mohamed Fellag. (In French with subtitles)

Source:  Baret News Wire

Retired Marine Shoots 57 with 3 Holes-in-One

 

Retired Marine Shoots 57 with 3 Holes-in-One

By Burt Carey

 

You had to be there to believe it. Playing as part of a foursome at the Laurel Hill Colf Club in Lorton, Va., 59-year-old Patrick Wills recorded three holes-in-one and shot an amazing 14 under par 57. He even had a bogey on the 148-yard No. 4 hole.

Laurel Hill Colf ClubWills was playing in the second round of the GolfStyles’ annual Solstice Survival tournaments, where in 2011 he shot 13-under 58.

The retired Marine Corps veteran plays to a handicap of 4 at his home Medal of Honor Course in Quantico, Va., and says he hasn’t shot a round over 70 in more than a decade of playing in Solstice Survival events. His tournament average is 66.

He aced holes No. 7, 10 and 4 Holes 7 and 10 at Laurel Hill play to 289 and 334 yards, respectively, and are both par 4 holes. No. 14 is normally a 187-yard uphill par 3 that was set up with a rear pin position playing to 191 yards.

Witnesses to his holes-in-one and the phenomenal score were Wills’ son Charlie, an aerospace engineer, Christopher, a Navy corpsman and Afghanistan combat veteran, and Air Force Major Matt Ghormley.

“I have been caddying and playing golf since I was a little boy and never experienced anything like this,” Wills said after his round. Indeed.

The odds of an amateur golfer sinking a hole-in-one are 12,000-to-1. For good players, the odds dip to 5,000-to-1. But recording two aces in a round face extraordinary 64 million-to-1 odds. Three in a round is virtually incalculable.

Wills’ round started with birdies on the first and second holes. After a par on No. 3, he bogeyed the 148-yard par 3 No. 4 before following up with birdies on holes 5 and 6, an albatross on No. 7, par on No. 8 and a birdie on No. 9. That added up to a 29, 8 under par.

His next albatross came on the 334-yard No. 10, where he elected to drive his ball over left-side trees that protect the slight dogleg, then the search began for his ball.

“As we approached the green, I checked the front bunkers and the ball was no to be seen on the green or in the bunkers,” Wills told GolfStyles Media Group publisher Michael Keating. “As I started to head to the back of the green one of the members of the group stated maybe it was in the hole. I thought to myself ‘get real’ and continued to the back of the green. Either Christopher or Matt looked in the hole and asked what ball I was playing. At that point I was looking behind the green and answered. I was told it was in the hole. To say the least, I was shocked and in disbelief.”

With pars on 11 and 12 and a birdie on No. 13, he was set for the 187-yard No. 14 hole. Everyone in the group heard a familiar clunk as the ball found the pin.

“I was dumbfounded and in a state of shock,” Wills said. “I cannot remember if I called out in joy or broke down in disbelief.”

He finished his round with a birdie on No. 15 and pars on holes 16-18.

Wills has 25 aces in his golfing career, six of them coming on par 4s.

Untitled

 

Source:  Sportsmans Lifestyle

Housing Sales Increase but Questions Remain

Housing Sales Increase but Questions Remain

By Burt Carey

 

Big bankers and mortgage lenders like Bank of America and Merrill Lynch say changing demographics are fueling a first-time home buyers market in 2015 that may be short-lived.

Real estate, it seems, is heating up – at least for value seekers. At the current rate, home sales are on pace to post
their best year since 2007, even with increased prices. Fueling the action are two important elements: Millennials have suddenly become home buyers, and Baby Boomers are downsizing and moving into retirement communities.

Millennials, baby boomers, first-time buyers, mortgage rates, renters, buyers, home

 

With a job market that is showing some strength and mortgage rates still relatively low, home ownership is on the rise. But the question is, for how long?

“What we’ve seen is that demand is off the charts in 2015 – and that is really boosting sales,” said Nela Richardson, chief economist at the brokerage Redfin. “Last year, buyers were dipping their toes in their water. Now, they’re diving in.”

That news comes on the heels of a report earlier this year by the Census Bureau that the number of renters throughout the country was at an all-time high at the end of 2014 and beginning of 2015, and the number of home owners had dipped to a 30-year low.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch isn’t buying into the glowing home ownership news. “New households will tend to rent and live in urban centers,” a June 23 report states. “There already is a dramatic decline in the homeownership rate, falling to 63.8% from 69.2% at the peak in 1Q05. The decline in the homeownership rate reflects a combination of foreclosures, a tight mortgage market and a severe economic recession. The drag from foreclosures has largely passed, although there is still some distressed inventory to work through. Restricted supply of mortgage credit and potential preference changes toward renting will continue to weigh on the homeownership rate.”

First-time buyers traditionally make up about 40 percent of the market, leading some to believe the 32 percent clip of first-time buyers in May is another indicator of a still-weak economy that’s not clicking on all of its cylinders. Another sign that the slumping economy hasn’t fully recovered is that the price of some 5.1 million homes – more than 10 percent of current mortgages – is less than what is owed.

The National Association of Realtors reported this month that sales of existing homes rose 5.1 percent in May to a seasonally adjusted 5.35 million homes, marking the third consecutive month home sales eclipsed 5 million homes. Even with the average home price reaching nearly $229,000, the 7.9 percent gain over the past 12 months is still more than $1,700 short of the market’s peak 10 years ago.

With the unemployment rate dipping to just 5.5 percent, some 3.1 million more people in the workforce could soon find themselves in a position to take advantage of low mortgage rates. Last week’s 30-year fixed rates were hovering around 4 percent a week ago, but they are rising from a low of about 3.5 percent less than a year ago.

Millennials, baby boomers, first-time buyers, mortgage rates, renters, buyers, home

 

Source:  Sportsmans Lifestyle

5 Great Places to Celebrate the 4th of July

 

5 Great Places to Celebrate the 4th of July

By Burt Carey

 

With the 4th of July falling on a Saturday this year, there will be no shortage of fantastic places for family fun, picnics, barbecues and fireworks displays to celebrate our country’s 239th Independence Day.

family fun, picnics, barbecues, fireworks, Kaboom Town

No one can deny the Macy’s 4th of July spectacular in New York City or the tremendous fireworks at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. But if you’re into massive parties and incredible explosions of color in the sky, there are some other places around the country you’ll want to visit this weekend.

Addison, Texas

Get ready for a real Texas-sized shindig in Addison, Texas, known to fireworks lovers everywhere as Kaboom Town!

This Dallas suburb of 15,000 residents has it all going on for the 4th, complete with a fireworks display where no expense is spared. For years the Addison Circle Park has been wowing crowds of up to 400,000 people with a spectacular pyrotechnic performance that includes some 1,500 pounds of fireworks and musical accompaniment.

You’ll need to get here July 3, from 5 p.m. to midnight to join the festivities and enjoy live entertainment, an air show and more.

Just how good is this show? It made the Top 10 July 4th fireworks displays list on both Forbes and ABC News. The Travel Channel lists it among its Top 5. AOL says it’s the No. 3 best fireworks shows in the U.S. And the American Pyrotechnics Association rates it as one of the Top 20 fireworks displays in the country.

Find out more at http://www.addisonkaboomtown.com/.

San Francisco, California

Everything happens on the waterfront in San Francisco, and this year Pier 39 will be the center of it all, with live music, sea lions and street performers.

The live music plays from noon to 7 p.m., leaving plenty of time to find a good place for your lawn chair anywhere from Aquatic Park to Pier 39. The fireworks display, synchronized to a custom music track, will be hurl more than 10,000 pyrotechnics across the San Francisco Bay from two locations.

Or better yet, watch the show from one of the city’s Red and White Fleet tour boats. Departing from Pier 43½ at Fisherman’s Wharf, you’ll sail amongst San Francisco’s city lights before stopping to enjoy the fireworks show. Beverages and snacks can be purchased on board. To find out more, visit www.redandwhite.com/seasonal/july-4-fireworks-cruise.

The fireworks show begins around 9:30 p.m.

St. Louis, Missouri

The city most famous for its Clydesdales and Budweiser celebrates Independence Day in big fashion each year with the three-day Fair Saint Louis at Forest Park, July 2-4. Each fair night is capped off with a fireworks display.

Music performances by Melissa Etheridge, Blondie, Kool & the Gang, Morris Day and the Time, Chris Young, Parmelee, and Natalie Stovall and the Drive top a list of artists that will also include MC Lyte, American Authors, Tony! Tony! Toné, and Noah Guthrie.

Recently added to this year’s event include stunt shows by professional stunt cyclist Chris Clark. The Wake Challenge watersports show returns for a second year at Fair Saint Louis and will include standout performances by watersports athletes, including the Lake Saint Louis Waterski Club, which features skiers from 5 to 70 years old. And this year Fair Saint Louis has added a zip line that will be set up along Lagoon Drive, giving thrill-seekers the chance to zip high over Forest Park and take in majestic views of the Grand Basin and Art Hill.

The event will wrap up each night with stunning custom fireworks display tailored to the Forest Park venue.

To find out more, go to http://www.fairsaintlouis.org/

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Bring your blankets and beach chairs and join thousands of Independence Day revelers as they gather along the beaches of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina this year.

Earlier in the day, the annual July Boat Parade is the big ticket at Murrells Inlet, followed by one the country’s best fireworks displays. (They get plenty of practice here, with fireworks going off every Monday and Wednesday night during summer.)

Fireworks will be launched from various piers.

Find out more by going to www.visitmyrtlebeach.com.

San Diego, California

The Big Bay Boom in San Diego will light up the sky beginning at 9 p.m. July 4th to thrill some 350,000 Independence Day celebrants. The best viewing places include La Jolla Shores, Kellogg Park, Shelter Island, North Embarcadero, Harbor Island, Seaport Village, and the Coronado Ferry Landing in Coronado.

The fireworks are launched from multiple locations around San Diego Bay: Shelter Island, Harbor Island, Embarcadero North, Seaport Village, Embarcadero South Marine Park and the Coronado Ferry Landing.

To find out more, visit www.sandiego.gov.

family fun, picnics, barbecues, fireworks, Kaboom Town

 

Source:  Sportsmans Lifestyle

The Red, White & Blue Lifestyle

The Red, White & Blue Lifestyle

~ Amy Lignor

 

Yes, July 4th is upon us and events, fireworks, backyard picnics – everything is about to commence. This is the celebration of our freedom; the celebration of America, but the events – the décor that will be used for the 4th and the theory that we should keep things ‘All-American’ does not fade away when the fireworks stop flashing in the sky.

4th of July, celebration, freedom, 'All American', patriotic, buy American, Made in the USAAs far as the holiday, itself, new ideas are coming out all the time. For a little chic to be thrown in with the norm, ideas of using beverages in glass bottles that are red, white and blue, sitting in metal tubs around the yard filled with ice – is a great way to make a splash and add to the patriotic theme. Supplies and/or gift baskets for your visitors can include things to help them with the heat that may come to your backyard on the 4th – red, white and blue face towels and water bottles are a great addition. Sparklers can be made into fantastic party-favors, wrapped as bouquets with red, white and blue ribbons. And the idea of red, white and blue flowers that can be planted in order to come back year after year is always an awesome idea, as well. They are not only a stunning American tribute all year round, but also the garden will provide an all-natural privacy screen that enhances and adds color to your home.

But you see, when the 4th is over, things do not have to end. Let’s face it, the kitchen is the room that gets the most time in the All-American households across the country. The kitchen is where everything is baked, prepared, and everyone stands on a daily basis to catch up and talk about life. Well…buying All-American and fixing up that small kitchen so that it allows more space for any event can be done quite easily…and allows for the purchasing of American-made products in the process.

The National Kitchen & Bath Design Competition does a wonderful job in bringing out ideas for that small kitchen where touches can be added that are not overly expensive that will make the small area look far bigger. Some of the ideas include; bracketed molding and drawer pulls, and changing the cabinets to a color that not only looks as if it has created more space but also is stunning to look at year-round. Robin’s-egg-blue is a great choice. If not wanting to paint, knocking out a wall in between the small kitchen and a family room to make a larger area for entertaining, is a great thought. Scraped maple floors, simple cabinetry with river-stone hardware that offers the room a completely uncluttered look. The ideas are endless.

A glass-tile mosaic backsplash, or a small island with storage space inside can go amazingly well with everything from tile to wood; as well as putting in recessed lighting and open shelves above the cabinets that allow for collectibles, will enhance and enlarge the kitchen area. Not to mention, all of the products and hardware purchased in the United States will bring even more patriotism by infusing the economy and offering jobs to many.

In other words, when the party ends on July 4th, the red, white and blue lifestyle most certainly doesn’t have to. And shouldn’t. There are stunning designs that are affordable for your small kitchen, and even other rooms you wish to alter or transform in the house. And with “Made in the USA” as the theme, the celebration never has to stop.

Source:  Baret News Wire

The "Ark" Debate: Saving the World’s Creatures or Not

 

The “Ark” Debate: Saving the World’s Creatures or Not

~ Amy Lignor

 

Perhaps it’s because of the ‘thoughts’ behind things like ‘Jurassic World’ or the new TV show called, ‘Humans’ – but the idea that DNA will be collected and ‘stored’ for every being on the planet actually sounds dangerous. Of course…we’re not talking about bringing back ancient beasts or having the ability to clone a person and make a “non-feeling” double. …Right?

 

Are Scientists Crossing the DNA Line?Moscow State University was the ‘name’ that landed the largest-ever scientific grant given by Russia for a project that spans through 2018. This project is to collect DNA from every living and extinct creature that will then be stored in a database – the first in the world. Some call this a modern-day take on “Noah’s Ark.” According to the researchers involved, the database will collect and save every creature known to mankind and will, in the end, cost approximately nineteen million dollars to create.

 

But this is not only going on in Russia. In fact, Britain has their own project when it comes to DNA collection, but they are calling their work, “The Frozen Ark.” They, too, are collecting DNA and cataloging/storing the information in a databank, but only the DNA of endangered species.

 

The statistics say that the Earth is experiencing the greatest loss of species, creatures, plants, etc., since the dinosaurs were “selected” for extinction. Apparently, despite a great many strong and determined efforts, 30% (and rising) of animals, whether they be on land or in water, will actually go extinct and join the dinosaurs in our history books within the next fifty years unless something far more aggressive is done.

 

As the human population grows, the destruction of natural habitats grows, and it certainly doesn’t look like human numbers are going to decrease. So for Britain, the “Frozen Ark” (set up in 1996) works to save samples of frozen cells from endangered animals before they go extinct, which means the animal’s characteristics can be kept for all time…and perhaps allow creatures to be restored to the Earth with new breakthroughs in technology.

 

If looking at Russia’s and Britain’s projects side by side, however, there are some interesting oddities. When it comes to the “Frozen Ark,” zoos, aquariums, museums and more, located in eight countries, have joined the project. And news is constantly given to the public, from the bison to the sea turtle to David Attenborough’s meetings with the President almost every weeks to keep everyone updated on the progress.  ( https://www.facebook.com/pages/Frozen-Ark/173368602678865 ).

 

With the Russian project, not a great deal of information can be found – only the announcement in 2014 that the grant was landed. People are waiting to hear anything about this huge undertaking that will involve their scientists “cryogenically freezing” cellular matter, which can be reproduced later in the future if it becomes necessary.

 

Does America have their own “Ark” in the works? As far as the scientific community believes, America has not yet come out with their own databank project. But with Russia and Britain at the forefront of this science…the idea that creatures can be brought back seems to be walking the line between ‘excitement that no species will ever be lost to the Earth’ versus ‘DNA and this type of technology being in the wrong hands.’

Paul de Vos, ~Ark van NoahSource:  Baret News Wire