myfilmblog

Hot Pursuit
Film Review by Kam Williams

Vincente Cortez (Joaquin Cosio) has orchestrated over a hundred hits as the notorious kingpin of a drug cartel terrorizing Texas. However, he’s always beaten the rap, because the prime witnesses invariably disappear mysteriously before they have a chance to testify.

Therefore, the authorities decide to take special precautions with the Rivas, the Cortez confederates set to turn state’s evidence in the latest case against him. But then, when the police escort arrives to place them in the Witness Protection Program, the husband perishes in an ambush, while his widow Daniella (Sofia Vergara) and a policewoman (Reese Witherspoon) barely escape with their lives in a hail of bullets.

As the two drive away in the Rivas’ classic Cadillac convertible, they figure out that they’ve been targeted not only by vicious mobsters but by crooked cops to boot. So, with no one but each other to lean on, the officer and outlaw grudgingly join forces to survive the drive to a safe sanctuary in Dallas.

Of course, sharing space proves easier said than done, given how they’re polar opposites in almost every way. Daniella is a striking, statuesque chatterbox as compared to Cooper’s relatively plain, diminutive and straitlaced presence. Nevertheless, the pair gradually bond over the course of a rollicking road trip where they have a close brush with death every five miles or so.

Directed by Anne Fletcher (The Proposal), Hot Pursuit is a mindless diversion chock-full of the staples of the unlikely-buddies genre, like car chases, and accidental drug use. Though the action romp fails to break cinematic ground, it certainly provides enough laughs to recommend, most coming courtesy of the over-enunciating, larger-than-life Vergara at the expense of co-star Witherspoon in her capacity as a straight man.

Sofia successfully stakes her claim as the heir apparent of Brazilian bombshell Carmen Miranda. All she needs now is a fruit-filled sombrero.

Very Good (3 stars)

Rated PG-13 for sexuality, profanity, violence and drug use

In English and Spanish with subtitles

Running time: 87 minutes

Distributor: Warner Brothers

To see a trailer for Hot Pursuit, visit:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=86nRuz4YuPY

    


Interviews
UserpicThe Most Interesting Man in the World
Posted by Kam Williams
05.05.2015

Jonathan Goldsmith
The “Dos Equis” Interview
with Kam Williams

Widely known as “The Most Interesting Man in the World” due to the wildly successful Dos Equis advertising campaign, Jonathan Goldsmith has become a pop culture icon on the order of the Marlboro Man. However, behind those classic scenes of him freeing a grizzly bear from a trap, boating with Miss Universe, or arm wrestling Fidel Castro, Jonathan is a prolific actor, an accomplished businessman, and a capable outdoorsman. This charming, bronzed and bearded gentleman has led a private life nearly as daringly as his onscreen alter ego.

What exactly makes him so interesting? For starters, the consummate “man’s man” with the salt-and-pepper mane resides on a 50-foot sailboat docked in Marina Del Rey, California. Twice, he has come to the aid of a person in dire need of assistance. First, while hiking during a snowstorm, he encountered a stranger nearly stricken with hypothermia. On that occasion, he cared for the man overnight until help could be summoned in the morning. The other time, he rescued a girl drowning at the beach.

Born in New York City, Jonathan was raised by a mother who was a model, and a father who taught gym. He attended both Boston University and New York University before pursuing acting classes at The Living Theater. After moving to Los Angeles in his early 20’s, he was forced to pick up odd jobs as an industrial waste truck driver and a painter in order to make ends meet. All Goldsmith’s hard work and dedication paid off when he landed his first guest role on “Perry Mason.”

Since then, Jonathan has starred in over 300 television shows including “Charlie’s Angels,” “Knight Rider,” and “MacGyver.” He starred alongside Burt Lancaster in the 1978 drama “GO TELL THE SPARTANS,” which chronicled a unit of American military advisors in Vietnam. Ironically enough, the polished man who seems to be invincible, in a James Bond sort of way, was often killed on screen. Electrocuted, shot, chopped, hung, machine-gunned and actually ground by someone impersonating a nun, Goldsmith tended to be in roles where he was either killing people or being killed.

In 2006, he auditioned for and won the role of The Most Interesting Man in the World, using his own personal experiences to help create the character: a cross between Ernest Hemingway, Bill Murray, Burt Reynolds, Royal Tenenbaum and Don Draper. The South American accent he dons when he delivers the remarkable pitch line “I don’t always drink beer, but when I do, I prefer Dos Equis” was inspired by Jonathan’s very dear friend, Fernando Lamas. In fact, it was Goldsmith who spread Lamas’ ashes when he passed away in 1982. It is a subtle tribute to a friend, and as the Dos Equis campaign sprints into its 8th year it can be seen and heard everywhere—from international television commercials, to print ads, to billboards.

Aside from his acting and business careers, Jonathan also supports and is involved with various charities, including The Morris Animal Foundation and the Mines Advisory Group. The Morris Animal Foundation is a nonprofit organization that invests in science that advances veterinary medicine for companion animals, horses and wildlife helping more species in more places than any other group in the world. He also works to save endangered Siberian tigers. But who would expect less from a world traveler whose “beard alone has experienced more than a lesser man’s body.”

 The Mines Advisory Group takes a humanitarian approach to landmine action assisting people affected by landmines and unexploded ordnance in communities worldwide. He recently went on a USO Handshake Tour, too, bringing a touch of home to military families and troops deployed overseas in Guantanamo Bay.

Jonathan harbors a passion for the outdoors, whether sailing, hiking, fishing or camping. While he has never “punched a magician” and his blood doesn’t smell like cologne as does his character’s, he undeniably leads a life more interesting than most. Whether lounging on his sailboat in the sunshine or hard at work on his career, The Most Interesting Man in the World rarely experiences an uninteresting moment!

 

Kam Williams: Hi Jonathan. How are you?

Jonathan Goldsmith: Enjoying the spring. It feels real good here in Southern Vermont, believe me! How are you?

 

KW: I’m fine, thanks. Your cousin David Roth told me you’re a good dude and that he enjoyed visiting you in Vermont last year. He just asked me to say “hi” for him and to ask you how your shoulder’s doing.

JG: [Laughs] Tell him I’m fine. He’s a good guy. 

 

KW: I’ll be mixing my questions in with some sent in by fans. “Realtor to the Stars” Jimmy Bayan also knows you. He admires how you show up every year for a very noble cause, the Los Angeles Mission's annual Thanksgiving Dinner where they close off the streets and feed thousands of homeless men and women.

JG: That’s nice of Jimmy to say. I’ve done it a few times, but not every year.

 

KW: He asks: How did you ever get this gig as The Most Interesting Man in the World?

JG: It was normal audition, a cattle call with about 500 people there. I didn’t think I was right for the role at all, because most of the other fellows were or looked Latino. So, I had no idea whatsoever and knew nothing about it. 

 

KW: Jimmy’s also wondering whether you had any idea it would be so successful?

JG: None. [Chuckles] I was just hoping the ads would at least last one cycle

 

KW: Well, The Most Interesting Man in the World commercials have been going through cycle after cycle since they began in 2007. Do people expect you to live up to your billing when they meet you in public?

JG: I don’t know whether they have any expectations, but they always ask me what are the similarities and differences between me and the character. I think they often make assumptions about what my life must be like, and it’s definitely a little bit different from his. 

 

KW: How many Dos Equis radio and TV commercials are you in?

JG: I have no idea.

 

KW: Do they make new ones each year?

JG: Oh, yes. We shoot the main ones that are going to run on TV once a year in California. The internet stuff is shot periodically, and mostly in New York.

 

KW: Is there an image clause in your contract with Dos Equis? I’m sure they don’t want to risk any harm to the character you’re so closely identified with?

JG: Sure, there are certain things I can and can’t do. 

 

KW: Harriet Pakula-Teweles says: You’ve enjoyed an enduring career on the stage, on film and on TV. But have you found yourself typecast as The Most Interesting Man in the World since becoming the pitchman for Dos Equis beer?

JG: Not completely. But, without getting into specifics, I’d say I am so closely identified with the character that I am sure it’s limited me at times in the way they look at me.

 

KW: Harriet also asks: Is it a tough transition from “The Most Interesting Man in the World” to just an ordinary guy when you go home at night?

JG: No, not really. It’s a nice transition. I don’t think I could live his life all the time. [Chuckles] I take refuge in the tranquility of my home. I’m very similar to him in many ways; in other ways, not at all. I seek silence and the aesthetic experience. I love the solitude of nature which I much prefer to some of the things you may see in the commercials. Nature re-energizes me. I’m not into a crowded bar scene, although I still thoroughly enjoy doing the commercials, and that atmosphere. They’re fun, but that’s not where I live. I’m looking out at a mountain. I see nothing but nature outside of my house. That’s very much to my taste.

 

KW: Editor Lisa Loving asks: Have you ever been tempted to do an Old Spice commercial?

JG: Never.

 

KW: Film director Ray Hirschman was wondering whether any production company has approached you to play The Most Interesting Man in the World on a TV series?

JG: Yes, I’ve been approached lots of times. But I can’t do that, obviously.

 

KW: Cousin Leon Marquis asks: What type of woman does The Most Interesting Man in the World like?

JG: I’m very diversified in my tastes. I have found women of all different types extremely attractive, even those that are not conventionally beautiful. A certain spark… a certain sense of humor… a certain intelligence… can all be very attractive. I’m attracted to all different types of women.

 

KW: Trinidadian Aaron Moyne has a slightly different question: Who would you say is The Most Interesting Woman in the World?

JG: Oh, boy… That’s a very interesting question. I’m not sure. It would have to be a composite. The humanism of one… The spiritualism of the other… The absolute beauty and intelligence of somebody else… I’m not much for absolutes.  

 

KW: Director/Producer Larry Greenberg asks: Jonathan, who do you think is the second most interesting man in the world?

JG: Often when I’m asked for an autograph, I’ll sign it, “You are the second most interesting man in the world.” [Laughs] Let’s see… There’s a barefoot black kid who lives on an island I used to sail my boat to who’s extremely interesting. I spent some wonderful days with him. 

 

KW: What island is he from?

JG: I’m not sure. I sail from Venezuela all the way through to Miami. But he was a whisperer to nature. He was so spiritual that it was infectious and it was beautiful.

 

KW: Attorney Bernadette Beekman says: You’re seen doing a lot in those Dos Equis commercials. What is your favorite sport in real life?

JG: It would be fishing.

 

KW: Documentary filmmaker Kevin Williams says he’s a fan of Dos Equis and asks: Which do you prefer Dos Equis Amber or Lager, and from a bottle or the tap?

JG: Definitely from the bottle. And when it comes to Amber versus Lager, I use a lot of beer in cooking. Amber in the winter, and Lager in the summer. So, it’s seasonal.

 

KW: Environmental activist Grace Sinden asks: Do you think The Most Interesting Man in the World should engage in some socially-beneficial activities?

JG: Grace, The Most Interesting Man in the World is extremely engaged in philanthropic activities. I do a lot of things that you would be pleased with, I’m sure.

 

KW: Grace was also wondering whether The Most Interesting Man in the World moniker might cut two ways, since some people, at the psychological level, probably prefer a vulnerable pitchman rather than a super macho figure like yours or the Marlboro Man. 

JG: I have no idea. It’s a matter of taste, isn’t it?

 

KW: I read that you’re into fashion. Who is your favorite clothes designer?

JG: First of all, I’m not into fashion, although people think that I am, for some reason. My taste is eclectic. I tend to go for Orvis, Land’s End or Timberland. I’m more comfortable in a good pair of jeans and a nice Merino wool shirt than a tuxedo. I appreciate fashion, but it’s just not where my head is. 

 

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

JG: No.

 

KW: What is your guiltiest pleasure?

JG: Food.

 

KW: The bookworm Troy Johnson question: What was the last book you read?

JG: I just finished “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” trilogy, which is terrific. http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B007C52NY2/ref=nosim/thslfofire-20

And I’m now reading “Warriors of God” about the rise of Hezbollah.

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1400068363/ref=nosim/thslfofire-20   These are great questions, Kam.

 

KW: The Mike Pittman question: What was your best career decision?

JG: To hang in.

 

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

JG: Yeah, I would say a loneliness that caused me to be a searcher, a seeker.

 

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

JG: I see a guy that I like. I see a guy that I wish more people were like as far as loyalty and integrity were concerned. And I see a guy with a bigger nose than I wish I had. [Chuckles]

 

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

JG: For God, if there is one, and I think there is, to change the hearts and minds of men.

 

KW: Let's say you’re throwing your dream dinner party—who’s invited?

JG: My father would be #1… My Uncle Mike… One of the first guests would be Jackie Robinson. Also Martin Luther King… Mahatma Gandhi… Jesus… and Pope Francis. I think he’s really cool. I’m crazy about Shimon Peres. He’s a very dignified gentleman. Also, a wonderful psychiatrist named Frederic Wertham. You should look him up, Kam. You’d find him interesting. He carried on a war with the comic book industry 60 years ago because he felt that exposure to violence was detrimental to a child’s proper development. And he’s 100% right. He defended kids who got into trouble. We became very good friends.

 

KW: Do you mind if I ask you a few more questions? I know I’m going way past the time allotted.

JG: Of course! Please do. I’m enjoying this conversation more than I can tell you. Take your time. You sound like the kind of guy I’d like to have beer with.

 

KW: I’d be honored, thanks. What makes The Most Interesting Man in the World so captivating? Is it that he’s so wise, well-rounded and adventurous, while most people fail to reach their full potential?

JG: It is something to ponder. I wonder what happens to memory. Where does that energy, in my case, 76 years of memory go? How can it be so important and so vivid in one’s life and then, what, evaporate? I don’t know. I recently reread “Man’s Unconquerable Mind” by Gilbert Highet. http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0231020163/ref=nosim/thslfofire-20

It had a profound effect upon me when I was in college. His thesis is that we die having utilized only about a tenth of our brain power because of stigmas. I think most people’s lives are empty. They’re leading those proverbial quiet lives of desperation. In the box… Never stepping out… Being insecure… Playing it safe and never allowing themselves to be vulnerable or to go through that process of exploration and extension of self. Never really experiencing the life experience… So, we have these capabilities that go undeveloped.

 

KW: How does someone become interesting?  

JG: I think that before you can become interesting, you have to be interested in things.

 

KW: Unfortunately, Millennials seem so absorbed with their cell phones that they’re not inclined to cultivate that natural childlike curiosity about the real world.

JG: I believe that computers can be a double-edged sword. Children don’t read as much nowadays. They get answers without having to understand the process. That’s not knowledge. Real awareness comes through application and through energy expended. Kids don’t do that anymore. I don’t think we’re deepening our awareness. It’s very sad and upsetting to me to see what’s happening with youngsters. They’ve become so materialistic and consumer-oriented.

 

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

JG: Being held by my grandmother in our apartment overlooking Van Cortlandt Park on a warm fall day when the leaves were changing. I know I was just about 2 because we moved from there soon thereafter. My grandmother held me against her voluminous breasts in an old colored quilt. I watched the cars drive by as the sun streamed through the window pane. It’s a gorgeous memory, and my earliest.

 

KW: Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. What high school did you attend? DeWitt Clinton or James Monroe?  

JG: No, but my father actually taught at both of those schools. My parents divorced when I was young, and I attended 22 different schools.

 

KW: The Teri Emerson question: When was the last time you had a good laugh?

JG: Yesterday, when I was fishing with my buddy.

 

KW: What’s the biggest difference between who you are at home and the person we see in the TV commercials?

JG: My clothing. [LOL]

 

KW: The Anthony Anderson question: If you could have a superpower, which one would you choose?

JG: to be able to change the hearts and minds of men.

 

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

JG: Charisma. That’s not necessarily true. How about sincerity? Or intelligence? It’s hard for me to reduce it to one word. It’s probably a composite of qualities. As we speak, I’m looking at a picture of President Obama who I happen to adore. I’ve met him a few times, and was actually a guest at Camp David for his surprise birthday party thrown by his oldest friends. Forget your politics, he is extremely intelligent, and very engaging one-to-one. I had the same experience meeting Judy Garland and I was an unemployed actor at the time. She spoke to me as if no one else was in the room. Joan Fontaine, one of the most beautiful women in the world, was the same way. Such sophistication, intelligence and kindness! We made friends, and maintained that friendship.  

 

KW: Well, thanks for the time, Jonathan, and stay thirsty, my friend.

JG: It’s been a pleasure. Let’s stay in touch Kam. I really mean that. For a guy who hates talking on the phone, we just spent an hour, and it wasn’t enough.  

To see Jonathan Goldsmith as The Most Interesting Man in the World in Dos Equis commercials, visit: http://www.dosequis.com/videos/dos-equis-commercials

    


Welcome to Me
Film Review by Kam Williams

Let’s say you’re a diehard Oprah fan who has always wanted nothing more than to have your own television series just like your idol’s. What would you do if you hit it big in the lottery and suddenly had the money to turn that dream into a reality?

That’s precisely the quandary confronting Alice Klieg (Kristen Wiig) when she has the good fortune to win $86 million in the California Stacks Sweepstakes. Trouble is she’s also a manic-depressive suffering from bipolar disorder who deludes herself into believing she no longer needs drugs now that she’s rich.

So, she informs her shrink (Tim Robbins) that she’s going off her meds before offering him a bribe to give her a clean bill of health. Next, she approaches the general manager (James Marsden) of a TV station specializing in infomercials about buying air time for the talk show about herself she hopes to host.

Concerned only about his struggling network’s bottom line, Rich gives his okay as soon as Alice comes up with the $15 million needed to underwrite the project. His brother/business partner (Wes Bentley) is less enthusiastic about taking advantage of the reckless mental patient until she unleashes her powers of seduction in his direction.

Alice appropriately names the program “Welcome to Me,” since she’s the topic of every episode. The themes range wildly, featuring titles like “Jordana Spangler – a Liar,” “Matching Colors to Emotions,” “Lucky Foods,” “I Can Still Smell You,” and “Regulating Your Moods with a High-Protein Diet.” All they have in common is that they invariably focus on some aspect of the narcissistic emcee’s life.

The emotional exhibitionist proves compelling enough to improve ratings and is allowed to self-destruct in front of couch potatoes who just can’t get enough Alice whether she’s nattering on about her orgasms or Irritable Bowel Syndrome. But with a burn-rate of $150,000 per episode, it’s obvious that she’s in for a devastating crash-landing, eventually.

Directed by Shira Piven (Jeremy’s sister), Welcome to Me is a droll character-driven dramedy tailor-made for the tongue-in-cheek comedy style of Kristen Wiig. Alternately vulnerable and bizarre, but always endearing, the Saturday Night Live alum enjoys her best outing since Bridesmaids, here, as an anguished soul allowed, against her better judgment, to purchase a terribly-embarrassing, 15 minutes of fame.

Kudos to Kristen for baring herself, literally and figuratively, in deliverance of a poignant performance which could very easily have degenerated into the sort of slapstick she did on SNL.  

Excellent (4 stars)

Rated R for sexuality, profanity, graphic nudity and brief drug use

Running time: 87 minutes

Distributor: Alchemy

To see a trailer for Welcome to Me, visit: https://www.youtube.com/embed/z251mQl-OLI

    


Interviews
UserpicViva Vardalos
Posted by Kam Williams
30.04.2015

Nia Vardalos
The “Helicopter Mom” Interview
with Kam Williams

Born in Winnipeg, Canada on September 24, 1962, actress/scriptwriter Nia Vardalos is best known as the star of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, her one-woman stage play which she adapted to the big screen in 2002. She also landed an Academy Award nomination for the picture’s screenplay, which grossed a quarter-billion dollars at the box-office, domestically.

Other movies on her resume include Connie and Carla, I Hate Valentine’s Day, My Life in Ruins, Larry Crowne, and McKenna Shoots for the Stars. On television, she starred in My Big Fat Greek Life, a short-lived sitcom based on My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Nia and her husband, actor Ian Gomez, live in L.A. which is where they are raising their daughter, Ilaria.

 

Kam Williams: Hey, Nia, thanks for the interview.

Nia Vardalos: Hi, Kam. Nice to talk to you, too. I apologize if I sound like a drag queen this morning, but I voiced an entire animated film in one day yesterday, and then went to see Barry Manilow last night.

 

KW: That’s why you’re whispering and sound so hoarse. Which film were you working on?

NV: Sorry, I can’t tell you yet. The title hasn’t been announced.

 

KW: I have to tell you how much I loved My Big Fat Greek Wedding. I must have watched it at least a dozen times. It was #2 on my Top 100 List for 2002.

NV: Thank you so much Kam. That means the world to me. It really does.

 

KW: I loved Connie and Carla, too. What interested you in Helicopter Mom?

NV: I was attracted to the idea of improvising a movie. I thought it would be a really great way of having a loose set. And it turned out to be exactly what I hoped for. The director [Salome Breziner] created a fun atmosphere and [co-star] Jason Dolley] was great to play with in his first film since doing the sitcom Good Luck Charlie. So, I was just very intrigued by the chance to do something so different.

 

KW: Gee, I was totally unaware that the cast was improvising. It flowed very naturally, so it never occurred to me that you didn’t have a script. The only thing that threw me was the ending which I don’t want to give away. It was a bit of a cliffhanger, and I wasn’t sure whether it was supposed to be setting up a sequel.  

NV: [Chuckles] Yeah, I don’t know at all on that one.

 

KW: Editor/Legist Patricia Turnier says: As a Canadian, I am honored to have the opportunity to ask you questions. You wrote and starred in your huge hit, My Big Fat Greek Wedding. There is a scarcity of female screenwriters and directors. Do you have another movie you would like to write and/or direct?

NV: Well, I’m actually headed to Toronto to do the sequel to My Big Fat Greek Wedding. But the honest answer to Patricia’s question is that there isn’t a scarcity of female writers and directors. But there IS a dearth, a lack of their being hired. You could throw a rock in L.A. and hit somebody who’s talented who’s trying to break in. It’s up to us women to hire other women. What I do is instead of writing just 1 female character in my films, I’ll write 50, because I know how sad it is that women are having such a hard time finding roles. It’s a joy for me. I love my producers, who are the same ones from My Big Fat Greek Wedding. We have the same set designers, the same everyone. As they say, we’re getting the band back together, as they say. It’s terrific that no one ever asks me, “Can this receptionist or this cop be played by a man?” They wouldn’t think of it since in the script the police officer’s name is Deandra.

 

KW: Patricia also says: I love raising the issue of female filmmakers. In 2010, Kathryn Bigelow broke the glass ceiling with her movie, The Hurt Locker. She became the first woman director in history to win an Academy Award. In 2007, the Canadian filmmaker Deepa Mehta earned an Oscar nomination in the Best Foreign Language Film category for Water, which focused on women issues. What is your opinion about this issue especially as an Oscar-nominee and what do you think it will take for female filmmakers to get more recognition for film projects concerning women's conditions?

NV: It was so sad this year, when the Academy failed to nominate even one film with a female story. It was so disgusting to me that not one female helmer was nominated for Best Director and that no film with a female protagonist was nominated in the Best Picture category either. I am not anti-man. I am married to a man… I have a father and a brother… I love men. But there is something really lacking when Cake is nominated. How does Julianne Moore win for Best Actress but her film isn’t nominated for Best Screenplay? How does Gone Girl become such a critically-acclaimed and box-office hit but its scriptwriter, Gillian Flynn, isn’t nominated for Best screenplay. It’s disgusting!

 

KW: What’s the solution?

NV: I think we need parity. The Academy needs more female members so that we can point this out and support ourselves and each other. 

 

KW: It’s a shame because 2014 was such a great year for movies. 

NV: There were so many amazing films last year. Theory of Everything was absolutely a master class in acting. And did you love The Imitation Game as much as I did?

 

KW: Yep, that was #5 on my Top 100 List.

NV: It broke my heart. And how about Guardians of the Galaxy? I spoke to the screenwriter, Nicole Perlman. She’s a huge comic book geek who was in the Marvel writing program. I just loved meeting her.

 

KW: One of the great things about this job is that I get a chance to speak with luminaries like you, and each experience is usually enriching and even moving because the person invariably has a lot to offer and is so much deeper than what I expected based on the image I had gotten from seeing them in movies and on TV.      

NV: Thank you for saying that, Kam. I feel the same way when I meet somebody in Los Angeles, because I’m from Winnipeg. I’m just a very ordinary girl that something extraordinary happened to. So, I’ll go to an event and, say, stand next to Charlize Theron and be like, “Oh my God! This is incredible!” And then you get to talk to her and you find out she’s a real person. She’s a mom and very interesting. I’m constantly thunderstruck by people that I admire.

 

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

NV: I see strength, and I see a tired mom.

 

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

NV: Accidentally spray-painting my face black when I was about 6. I was trying to do a craft project in the garage with a board and a can of spray paint that was missing a nozzle. I stuck a nail in it, and it blew all over my face. [Laughs]

 

KW: What is your favorite dish to cook?

NV: Oh! Lately, I’ve been salting eggplant to take the bitterness out, and then layering it with tomatoes and a little bit of Parmesan cheese to make a low-rent Eggplant Parmesan without the breading and the tons of fat. 

 

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

NV: Peace, and geographical birth fairness.

 

KW: The Viola Davis question: What’s the biggest difference between who you are at home as opposed to the person we see on the red carpet?

NV: Control top panty hose. [Chuckles]

 

KW: The bookworm Troy Johnson question: What was the last book you read?

NV: “Tiny Beautiful Things” by Cheryl Strayed. I love reading, and I read a lot. I’m constantly going through so many books. I just re-read a novel I loved called “Never Let Me Go” by Kazuo Ishiguro. Oh, it’s so beautiful!

 

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

NV: I’m going to say integrity, because I want to believe that’s the case. But sometimes I’m surprised when someone who has achieved success is incredibly Machiavellian in their manipulations. So, while I want to believe it’s integrity, that might just show how naïve I am. I sometimes worry that I might not be shrewd enough to maneuver myself through the Hollywood system. And then I look at Playtone, the company that produced My Big Fat Greek Wedding. I call them my Playtoners. They are the kindest people who treated me like gold before that movie made a dime. We became personal friends. When I think about how lovely and wonderful they are that convinces me that you don’t have to make a deal with the devil to succeed. It’s a choice. As we know, there are companies like Monsanto filling the Earth with their genetically-modified poison, which makes me wonder how many people share our belief that it’s better to be good, Kam. [Earnestly] We have to change the world!  

 

KW: We’ll see, with Bernie Sanders throwing his hat into the ring, the people will have a real choice. Harriet Pakula-Teweles asks: With so many classic films being redone, is there a remake you'd like to star in?

NV: Yeah. On stage, I’d like to redo the Broadway musical, The Rink. And, onscreen, there are so many great movies to pick from… My brain is just fried right now… Let me think… Oh, I know. I would love to remake The Philadelphia Story with Hugh Grant. The chemistry between Cary Grant and Kate Hepburn is so delightful.

 

KW: Hugh Grant released a sweet romantic comedy with Marisa Tomei in February called The Rewrite. Did you catch it?

NV: I love her. I’d always admired her work and then I got to meet her recently. She’s great! She’s so delightful in person.

 

KW: What’s in your wallet?

NV: My wallet has both American and Canadian money, because I’m preparing to go to Canada to shoot. And as you know, I’m Canadian, so I have a bunch of loonies [one-dollar coins] in there.

 

KW: Thanks again for the time, Nia. Best of luck with the sequel to My Big Fat Greek Wedding. I can’t wait to see it.

NV: Thank you, Kam. It was really nice to talk to you. You ask very interesting questions.

To see a trailer for Helicopter Mom, visit: https://vimeo.com/97173719

    


Days of Grace
Film Review by Kam Williams

Days of Grace is the title of Arthur Ashe’s moving memoir about his remarkable tennis career as well as his stoic battle with AIDS after receiving a contaminated blood transfusion. By contrast, Days of Grace, the movie, is a gruesome gansta’ saga set in Mexico City.

The intricately-plotted crime thriller takes place in 2002, 2006 and 2010 during the weeks when the World Cup is being played. Apparently, that’s a great time to break the law, since both citizens and the police are so focused on the games that they unwittingly lower their guard.

The film is constructed as a trio of discrete storylines, although all paint Mexico as a godforsaken environ run by mobsters and crooked cops. Because they unfold simultaneously instead of chronologically, it’s a little difficult to keep the casts of characters straight, especially if you don’t speak Spanish and need to read the subtitles.

One thread revolves around the frustrations encountered by a socialite (Dolores Heredia) desperate to free her husband (Juan Carlos Remolina) who’s been abducted for a $2 million ransom. Apparently there’s a lot of that going around south of the border.

Trouble is the detectives handling the case are so corrupt she’s even more afraid of them than the kidnappers. A second thread focuses on another kidnapped businessman’s (Carlos Bardem) ordeal while the third chronicles the friendship forged between an honest cop (Tenoch Huerta) and the at-risk 9 year-old (Jose Alberto Solorzano) he’s mentoring with tough love.

Written and directed by Everardo Valerio Gout, Days of Grace features gratuitous violence, graphic vivisection and slo-mo displays of senseless slaughter reminiscent of such masters of the genre as John Woo and Sam Peckinpah. If lingering looks at torture gets your juices going, this indulgence of bloodlust is probably right up your alley.

The best Mexican splatterfest since Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia.

Excellent (4 stars)

Unrated

In Spanish and English with subtitles

Running time: 121 minutes

Distributor: Cinema Libre Studio

To see a trailer for Days of Grace, visit:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PQTBpoRVmFM