Adaptation of Memoir about Miraculous Recovery Released on DVD


90 Minutes in Heaven

DVD Review by Kam Williams

Adaptation of Memoir about Miraculous Recovery Released on DVD

Traveling Pastor Don Piper was thinking about having his own congregation on his way home from a Christian convention when fate intervened in tragic fashion. His car was crushed so badly by a tractor trailer that he was declared dead right on the 513T9+MYOpLspot by first responders who couldn’t find a pulse.

Since the cops were in no hurry to extract him from the twisted wreckage, he was still lying there over an hour later, when a minister (Michael Harding) passing by the accident scene decided to stop and pray for the repose of his soul. But upon approaching the auto, instead of a corpse, lo and behold, the Good Samaritan found the supposedly deceased to be very much alive.

In fact, Pastor Piper was faintly singing a Gospel spiritual, despite his considerable loss of blood. A rescue team with the jaws of life was immediately summoned and he was soon extracted and rushed to the hospital in excruciating pain.

And although he would fight to survive for the sake of his wife (Kate Bosworth) and their three kids (Hudson Meek, Bobby Batson and  Elizabeth Hunter), Don was actually torn over whether he really wanted to live or die. For, during his near-death experience on the side of the road, he’d briefly entered the proverbial Pearly Gates.

There, he not only experienced an unparalleled feeling of never-ending bliss, but enjoyed reunions with a number of dearly-departed loved ones, including his great-grandmother (Sallye McDougald Hooks) and a couple of childhood friends (Matthew Bauman and Trevor Allen Martin). By comparison, being back on Earth was relatively painful, given the 34 operations he needed to undergo over the next several months to fix torn muscles, disfigurement, broken bones and shattered disks.90 Minutes in Heaven, DVD Review, miraculous recovery, Michael Harding, true story

Thanks to the power of prayer, Pastor Piper did ultimately recover. But rather than open his own church, he wrote a best-seller recounting his entering the Gates of Heaven as well as his subsequent resurrection. Directed by Michael Polish (The Astronaut Farmer) 90 Minutes in Heaven proves to be a pretty palatable modern parable, given that the title sort of serves as a spoiler. Of course, it helps tremendously to be a person a faith, though this is one Christian flick that has the potential to cut across demos.

A goner granted a miraculous reprieve by God ostensibly to let us all know that paradise really exists.

Very Good (3 stars)

Rated PG-13 for an intense car accident and graphic images

Running time: 121 minutes

Studio: Giving Films

Distributor: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment      

Blu-ray Extras: The Making of  90 Minutes in Heaven; Meet the Real Pipers; and Giving Films.

To see a trailer for 90 Minutes in Heaven, visit:


To order a copy of 90 Minutes in Heaven on Blu-Ray, visit:

Source:  Baret News

Will 2015 Go Down As The Weakest NFL Season Ever?


Will 2015 Go Down As The Weakest NFL Season Ever?

By Burt Carey

How crazy is it that after 11 weeks of NFL games, there are just nine teams with winning records? Are fans supposed to be completely enamored with the last two remaining undefeated teams and just chalk up the rest of the league as also-rans?

Perish the thought!stadium-663584_640
With sincere apologies to Tom Brady and Cam Newton, the odds just aren’t with either the New England Patriots or the Carolina Panthers to finish with a goose egg in the loss column. Which is a simple way of saying, don’t count out those teams with two, three or even five losses from taking home the Lombardi Trophy next February.

Since the NFL was founded in 1920, only one team has gone through a complete season and the playoffs undefeated (without ties): the 1972 Miami Dolphins. They finished the season 17-0 and won Super Bowl VII.

Three times teams have finished the regular season undefeated.

  • The 1934 Chicago Bears went 13-0 but lost in the ’34 NFL Championship Game to the New York Giants, 30-13. The Giants finished with an 8-5 record.
  • In 1942, having lost head coach George Halas and several players to World War II, the Bears raced to an 11-0 record only to lose to the Washington Redskins 14-6 in the NFL Championship. After a dismal 6-5 season in 1941, Washington rebounded with a sterling 10-1 record in that championship year.
  • And in 2007, Brady and current head coach Bill Belichick led the Patriots to an 18-0 mark (16 regular-season games and two playoff wins) before losing to the Giants in Super Bowl XLII. The Giants that year finished the regular season with a 10-6 record and entered the playoffs as a wildcard team.

All of that underscores the fact that the Kansas City Chiefs, Seattle Seahawks, Indianapolis Colts, Buffalo Bills and, yes, the Giants, all at 5-5, have just as much of a shot at going to – and winning – the Super Bowl as either the Patriots or the Panthers.

Arizona Cardinal fans have legitimate reason to cheer for an 8-2 team that won a hard-fought battle against the 8-2 Cincinnati Bengals last Sunday. Both teams are looking solid and relatively healthy moving into the final weeks of the regular season, unlike the 7-3 Denver Broncos who’ve lost quarterback Peyton Manning for the next two weeks.

As the NFL season comes down the stretch, it’s anyone’s call as to which teams will show up in crunch time – and whether the cream of the regular season stays at the top through the playoffs.

Source:  Sportsmans Lifestyle

Road Trip For Great Barbecue!


Road Trip For Great Barbecue!

By Burt Carey


Barbecue is such a personal thing. Choosing between mouth-watering pork ribs and a slow-cooked brisket could send a Q-aficionado into convulsions. And since there’s no shortage of those self-proclaimed barbecue experts who want to put their own stamp on a Top 10 or Top 25 list, we’ll just suggest a road trip right through the heart of the United States to try out some great restaurants where you can get your smoke on.


BBQ, get your smoke on, road trip, St. Louis, Missouri, Lockhart, Texas, Austin, Texas, Kansas City, Kansas

Photo by Steven Depolo

Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que, Kansas City, Kansas

Here’s your first stop for charred brisket trimmings. That’s Kansas speak for whatever those fellas from Oklahoma brought to Kansas City in 1996 issure worth a visit any one of the three Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que restaurants. I’m partial to the original location, a former gas station at the corner of 47th and Mission Street.

It used to be called Oklahoma Joe’s, but it still serves the Z-Man sandwich: brisket, provolone cheese and two onion rings on a Kaiser roll. World traveler and television host Anthony Bourdain said Joe’s made his list of “13 Places to Eat Before You Die.”

Don’t be put off if there’s a line of people waiting to eat here. It’s worth the wait. The sandwiches and ribs are top of the list.

Can’t wait til you get there? Look them up online here.

Franklin Barbecue, Austin, Texas

You’re likely to find a line forming by sunrise at Franklin Barbecue in Austin, Texas. That’s just the way it is for folks who can’t get enough of that Franklin brisket that’s been cooked low and slow for 18 hours. Tender never tasted so good! It’s best to get in line long before noon. They often sell out.

Franklin Barbecue is open only for lunch and serves ribs, sausage, turkey and sandwiches – try the pulled pork! – along with its famed brisket. Pitmaster Aaron Franklin has won the James Beard Award for best chef in the Southwest.

Want to see what you’ll be getting into? Here’s their website.

Kreuz Market, Lockhart, Texas

While you’re down around Austin, you might as well swing over to Lockhart and make a stop at the Kreuz Market for a bite of brisket or sausage.

Kreuz has been around since 1900, when it originally opened as a meat market. It’s now one of the Hill Country’s top barbecue hot spots. And don’t go asking for a fork or sauce; they don’t have either of those.

What they do have is brisket that melts in your mouth, pork ribs that have been seasoned to perfection with black pepper, and sausage laced with jalapeno cheese.

Just look for the big barn at the edge of town. If you get lost or want to order and have something sent via FedEx, call them at (512) 398-2361, or check them out online here.

Pappy’s Smokehouse, St. Louis, Missouri

Pappy’s isn’t exactly an old institution as far as barbecue restaurants are concerned, but since opening in 2008 it’s earned a reputation for Memphis-style ‘cue.

That means slow-cooking their meat for up to 14 hours over cherry or apple wood. Might I suggest the combo plate topped with one of Pappy’s sauces? Pappy’s Original is good and tangy, the Sweet Baby Jane sauce is, well, sweet, Holly’s Hot Sauce will get your attention, and the Hoodoo sauce is even hotter.

As with most great barbecue joints, you’ll find a line here most days – for good reason. Call ahead for more information at (314) 535-4340, or go find Pappy’s online here.


Source:  Sportsmans Lifestyle

Real Estate Appraiser Numbers Keep Falling



Real Estate Appraiser Numbers Keep Falling

By Burt Carey

When the housing bubble burst in 2008, lawmakers, bankers and mortgage company executives collectively pointed fingers at each other and at real estate appraisers.

In response, Congress passed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Protection Act of 2010, which limited direct contact between mortgage Gingerbread_House_Essex_CTcompanies and appraisers, and put in place sweeping procedural changes that have led to serious concerns that the cost of home appraisals could skyrocket as the number of professional, credentialed appraisers in the United States continues to decline.

The country had a robust population of more than 92,000 appraisers in 2007. Today that figure has dropped to 78,500, and only about a third of them work in residential real estate.

There are several reasons appraisers are leaving the industry. Retirement is claiming a large majority of appraisers, but heavy workloads, lower pay, an aversion to technology and a failing marketplace (not enough sales) are also taking their toll.

What concerns industry executives most is that few young professionals are entering the appraisal field. The Dodd-Frank legislation unwittingly cut out the profession’s future by dictating a list of requirements for appraiser trainees that has become more and more stringent with each passing year.

Trainees must take at least 75 hours of classroom instruction and more than 2,000 hours working for low pay under a qualified mentor. To become licensed as a residential appraiser, allowing the appraiser to value homes up to $1 million, requires another 150 hours of classroom time. Those who stick around several years can become a certified real estate appraiser, which requires another 210 hours of classroom time studying advanced finance, valuation and market analysis.

Beginning this year, new appraisers must have a four-year college degree. Recent college grads, however, aren’t willing to work for $150 for an appraisal that takes an average of eight hours to complete.

No longer is it possible for a mortgage company using a Fanny Mae or other government-sponsored loan to work directly with an appraiser. Dodd-Frank led to the creation of appraisal management companies. The lender contacts an AMC with a potential home sale, and the AMC contacts and works with the appraiser through the process.

Mortgage lenders maintain lists of appraisers (called panels) it has approved. (Trainees are rarely approved for such panels.) The AMCs also require appraisers to register, including updated copies of annually renewed licenses, continuing education, and proof of general business and errors/omissions indemnity. The AMCs also eat into the dollars that traditionally went to appraisers, generally cutting payments to appraisers in half.

Every mortgage company and AMC has its own requirements of appraisers, which oftentimes means producing as many as 30 pages for a single appraisal on a home. Many now require more comparable sales than in years past, and some even demand to see other active sales listings that are comparable to the subject home. For their part, appraisers must physically inspect and measure the subject home, and physically see and photograph comparable sales.

One significant challenge with AMCs is geographic in nature. An AMC headquartered in Southern California, for example, may be assigning appraisers to jobs anywhere in the country. The assigned appraiser may be licensed in that particular state but may not be familiar with the county, city or neighborhood of their subject property, and could be assigning values based on incorrect data.

All of the changes since the housing bubble have led to a disgruntled population of aging appraisers. The Chicago-based Appraisal Institute projects that 3% of appraisers will retire every year over the next decade. By 2025, the country’s appraiser population could be as low as 58,000. The profession’s demographics tell the story: In 2007, about half of appraisers were age 51 or older. Today that figure is 62%. Only 24% are between 36 and 50, and 13% are younger than 35.

How all of this affects home buyers – the ones who usually pay for appraisals – is yet to be seen. A supply-and-demand cycle may lead to increased prices for home appraisals, as fewer residential appraisers are available, or AMCs and mortgage lenders may turn to data sampling products to determine values.

Source:  Sportsmans Lifestyle

Top Ten DVD List for November 24, 2015


This Week’s DVD Releases

by Kam Williams

Top Ten DVD List for November 24, 2015
Top Ten, DVD List, November 24, 2015, by Kam Williams

Bad Boys and Bad Boys II [20th Anniversary Collection]


Shaun the Sheep

Bob Dylan: Don’t Look Back [The Criterion Collection]

The New Rijksmuseum

American Ultra

A Christmas Horror Story

No Escape

Inside Amy Schumer: Season Three

The Dinner

Honorable Mention

Ricki and the Flash

The Search for Michael Rockefeller

The Storm Makers

Mrs. Brown’s Boys: The Complete Series

Santa’s Little Helper

The Last House

Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D.

Symphony in Blood Red

Source:  Baret News

Challenge Authority Documentary Recounts How Radicals Uncovered FBI Cointelpro Program



DVD Review by Kam Williams

Challenge Authority Documentary Recounts How Radicals Uncovered FBI Cointelpro Program

On the evening of March 8, 1971, Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier squared-off in a heavyweight championship bout billed as The Fight of the Century. At that very same moment, while the rest of the world’s attention was riveted on Madison Square 1971, DVD Review, Documentary, Citizens’ Commission, FBI Investigation, CointelproGarden, eight antiwar activists used that event as a distraction to stage a daring break-in of an FBI field office in Media, Pennsylvania.

The meticulously-planned operation went off without a hitch, and they managed to cram every file on the premises into suitcases. The audacious octet had no idea until later that they had purloined shocking proof of the Bureau’s wholesale violations of U.S. citizens’ Constitutional rights via an illegal counterintelligence program nicknamed Cointelpro.

Dubbing themselves, the Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI, the group Xeroxed the evidence and mailed photocopies to numerous news outlets, most of which refused to publish them. But once one magazine finally did print it, a righteous national outrage ensued. And J. Edgar Hoover ended up with egg on his face, given how he had been using taxpayer money to entrap and spy on any liberals whose politics he did not share.

All of the above is recalled in fascinating fashion in 1971, a whistleblower documentary directed by Johanna Hamilton. What’s interesting to hear is how the participants in the theft eluded capture by the authorities for decades. In fact, the only reason their identities are even known now is because they decided to ‘fess up for the sake of this film. 1971, DVD Review, Documentary, Citizens’ Commission, FBI Investigation, Cointelpro

A belated tribute to some fearless patriots with the gumption to expose the FBI’s lawless ways and the wherewithal to evade apprehension by the Bureau to boot!

Excellent (4 stars)


Running time: 80 minutes

Studio: Fork Films

Distributor: First Run Features

DVD Extras: 85-minute conversation with Edward Snowden about 1971 and the Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI.

To see a trailer for 1971, visit:

To order a copy of 1971 on DVD, visit:

Source:  Baret News

Rocky Franchise Revived with Compelling, Character-Driven Spin-Off



Film Review by Kam Williams

Rocky Franchise Revived with Compelling, Character-Driven Spin-Off

When most people think of Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone), what automatically comes to mind is the iconic image of a gutsy underdog easy to root for who held his own in the boxing ring against a variety of imposing adversaries. Each installment of the series has basically revolved around the hype leading to a riveting championship bout between a veritable David and Goliath.

Creed, Film Review, Sylvester Stallone, Rocky Balboa, David and Goliath, Michael B. Jordan, boxing

Directed by Ryan Coogler, Creed is a worthy spin-off which not only pays homage to that tried-and-true formula but also represents a bit of departure for the beloved franchise. What’s new is the fact that this film devotes as much attention to character development as to ratcheting up the tension surrounding the fateful showdown.

Creed, Film Review, Sylvester Stallone, Rocky Balboa, David and Goliath, Michael B. Jordan, boxing

The picture reunites Coogler with Michael B. Jordan, the star of his directorial debut, the critically-acclaimed Frutivale Station. Here, Jordan plays, Adonis Johnson, a juvenile delinquent who’s had his share of scrapes with the law, thanks to a quick temper and a tendency to settle differences with a pair of unusually powerful fists.

Just past the point of departure, the hot-headed orphan is informed by Apollo Creed’s (Carl Weathers) widow (Phylicia Rashad) that he is the illegitimate son of Rocky’s original archenemy. That at least explains the inclination to fight that’s ostensibly been baked into his DNA.

Fast-forward a few years, when Adonis has learned to channel his anger and explosive might via boxing. Over the objections of his adoptive mom (Mrs. Creed) he decides to follow in his father’s footsteps.

So, he moves from L.A. to Philly where he finds Rocky running a restaurant called Adrian’s. Adonis prevails upon the ex-champ to serve as his trainer. Rocky agrees on the condition the kid changes his surname to Creed, and the next thing you know the kid rises in the ranks to #1 contender and luckily lands a title fight with Pretty Ricky Conlan (Tony Bellow).

Creed, Film Review, Sylvester Stallone, Rocky Balboa, David and Goliath, Michael B. Jordan, boxing

Meanwhile, Adonis falls in love with his next-door neighbor, Bianca (Tessa Thompson), an aspiring hip-hop artist on the verge of making it in her own right. Away from the gym, he spends some quality time with Rocky, too, offering a little heartfelt, if unsolicited advice that just might save his aging mentor’s life.Creed, Film Review, Sylvester Stallone, Rocky Balboa, David and Goliath, Michael B. Jordan, boxing

“Rocky” and the next Roman numeral might not be in the title, but this engaging and faithful seventh episode includes all the fixins to amount to a highly-recommended spin-off of the storied franchise.

Excellent (4 stars)

Rated PG-13 for violence, profanity and sensuality

Running time: 95 minutes

Distributor: Warner Brothers Pictures

To see a trailer for Creed, visit:

Source:  Baret News

Homesick Immigrant Adjusts to U.S. in Bittersweet Romance Drama



Film Review by Kam Williams

Homesick Immigrant Adjusts to U.S. in Bittersweet Romance Drama

Eilis (Saoirse Ronan) and Rose Lacey (Fiona Glascott) have stayed home for the sake of their widowed mom (Jane Brennan) who is still grieving the loss of their late father. The devoted daughters have had to put their dreams on hold, since job prospects aren’t great for young women without higher education in tiny Enniscorthy, County Wexford.

Brooklyn, Film Review, immigrant, romance drama, Saoirse Ronan, Fiona Glascott

Although Eilis has exhibited an affinity for math, she had to settle for a part-time gig as a clerk at a grocery where she’s under the thumb of a vindictive shrew (Brid Brennan). After all, this is the early Fifties, a time when any ambitious local lass would set her sights on America, a land of opportunity with a proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Salvation arrives in Father Flood (Jim Broadbent), a Catholic priest  willing to sponsor Eilis’ emigration to the United States. She grudgingly agrees, aware that this means that the entire burden of caring for their mother will now fall on her sister’s shoulders. Nevertheless, after an exchange of tearful goodbyes, she boards the New York-bound steamship and descends to a bunk in steerage for what proves to be a seasickness-inducing voyage across a roiling ocean.Brooklyn, Film Review, immigrant, romance drama, Saoirse Ronan, Fiona Glascott

Awaiting Eilis in Brooklyn is a room in a female-only boardinghouse run by an eagle-eyed landlady (Julie Walters) obsessed with protecting the reputations of the gullible, young Irish immigrants placed under her supervision. The naive newcomer’s also handed a job at a department store, as well as tuition to study bookkeeping at college.

Despite being the beneficiary of so much good fortune, Eilis misses her mother and sister terribly. And she seriously considers repatriating, over the assurances of Father Flood that the feelings of homesickness will eventually pass.

Everything does change the night she meets handsome Tony Fiorello (Emory Cohen)  at a dance. The two fall in love at first sight and embark on a whirlwind romance which finally enables Eilis to make the adjustment to life in the States.

But just when she’s ready to put down stakes on American soil, fate intervenes in the way of a tragedy that mandates her immediate return to the Emerald Isle. And wouldn’t you know it, that while back in Enniscorthy, Eilis finds herself pursued by a wealthy, eligible bachelor (Domnhall Gleason).

Brooklyn, Film Review, immigrant, romance drama, Saoirse Ronan, Fiona Glascott

Which suitor will she choose? The answer to that question arrives at the moment of truth in Brooklyn, a touching historical drama directed by John Crowley (Closed Circuit). Based on Colm Toibin’s best seller of the same name, the film features an elegantly understated performance by Saoirse Ronan likely to land the 21 year-old ingenue her second Oscar nomination.

A poignant character study highlighting an American Dream delayed and then derailed. But will it ultimately be denied?

Excellent (4 stars)

Rated  PG-13 for brief profanity and  a sex scene

Running time: 111 minutes

Distributor: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Source:  Baret News

Week Wrap Concentrates on Quarterbacks


Week Wrap Concentrates on Quarterbacks

by Amy Lignor


It’s been a long time since Tampa Bay could claim a better record than anyone. However, they did claim a better record than the Philadelphia Eagles who they met up with on Sunday. With the Eagles, their QB Bradford was out and back-up QB Mark
Sanchez came back to the field. But it was the QB Winston of Tampa Bay who could literally not be stopped. Tampa Bay NFL, football, quarterbacks, Amy's Angle, NFL QB's, spotlightburied the Eagles. What does this mean? Well…the Cowboys have a ray of sun shining still, considering that the rest of their division is failing on a weekly basis. The Giants hold the lead at 5-5…but someone has to step up fast.


QB Peyton Manning may be looking at retiring for good when the season ends; it will depend on what occurs in the next couple of weeks. But it didn’t matter this time out. The Broncos beat the Bears, barely, but they did it and the Manning “issue” will continue to play out.


QB Andrew Luck of the Colts is out. Facing the Atlanta Falcons, it ended up looking like yet another “normal” Colts game. Right to the end; these are the guys who try like heck to pull it out at the last minute. Did they? Yes. Yet again, the Colts are winners by the skin of their teeth. And it looks like Luck may be out for more than just one game.


The 49ers may be the biggest story this week. Because they were playing Seattle? No. No one basically cared about the end of that one. Seattle has already shot themselves in the foot, now looking like a team that they used to look like a few years ago before they won a Super Bowl and shot out money to keep players that seem to be doing nothing this season. The actual news, however, was that QB Colin Kaepernick most likely has played his last game in a 49ers uniform. Kap was placed on a season-ending injured reserve. Upside for Kap and downside for the 49ers? Looks like it. The fact that teams have already jumped on this news and called the 49ers about a possible trade is not surprising. Of course, any team that takes him must be prepared to pay the $12.4 million salary for Kap. Will they? Of course they will. Let’s face it, you are talking pure supply-and-demand in the NFL, and there are teams who are desperate for a good QB. Kap would work miracles in various offenses that would actually let the guy do what he’s best at. Eagles. Jets. There are many more. Not only will he get a team he can take to the Super Bowl, but Kap will also be able to work the magic he knows how to work. The 49ers? Well…they are going to look bad for a while. But that’s nothing new.


Baltimore Ravens came back from a 10-point deficit in the 4th quarter and beat the St. Louis Rams.


Who else is back? QB Tony Romo is back, that’s who! The Miami Dolphins aren’t exactly a whirlwind team, right? Yes, they’ve gotten better for their new, much younger coach, but not awesome. The Dallas Cowboys have lost seven in a row. It has been beyond ugly, making Jerry Jones cry as hard as the rain came down at the beginning of Sunday’s game. Jerry Jones announced yesterday that he was “singing in the shower” in regards to Romo coming back to save them. But, let’s face it, even Joe Montana at his best wouldn’t save these guys. Who are they facing next? The undefeated Panthers…who cannot be beat.

QB Aaron Rodgers of Green Bay has been under the media spotlight, as if he has sunk and is ready to retire, facing division rivals Vikings this Sunday. This was the ‘Game of the Week.’ The Vikings were ahead in the division, but the Pack is never done. This division win will go right down to the wire.


Poor Cam Newton of the Panthers was only able to throw four TD’s…in the first half. What a gosh darn shame. Must have had a bad day, huh? They literally pummeled the Redskins into the ground (yet another happy moment for the Cowboys). Look, the guy knows what he’s doing and if it keeps going this way…it will be an undefeated Panthers against an undefeated Patriots.


Speaking of… QB Brady. Monday night is coming. Need a little psychic peek? Easy. Rex Ryan’s big mouth meets the undefeated Patriots in New England. Coach Belichick will smirk. Brady will play well. Gronk will get at least one TD. And the Patriots will become 10-0.


Source:  Baret News