Movie of the Week: ‘Pariah’

Dee Rees’ (“Mudbound” (2017)) engaging feature film debut visits Alike (Adepero Oduye), a straight-A student who fails to communicate with her parents about her sexuality.  This frank drama is one of our favorite films of 2011…and is our movie of the week! “Pariah” (2011) – “Whenever the bird with no feet flew, she found trees with no limbs.” – Audre Lorde.   These words open writer/director Dee Rees’ (“Mudbound” (2017)) insightful picture, and over the course of the 86-minute runtime, Alike (Adepero Oduye) tries to find that elusive footing.  Frustrated, she…

You’ll hold on to every minute of ‘One Night in Miami’

“One Night in Miami” – On Feb. 25, 1964, Cassius Clay (Eli Goree) defeated Sonny Liston, a landmark event for boxing and the young, charismatic champion. Mr. Clay raised his record to 20 wins and 0 losses.  He also memorably raised shouts of “I am the greatest!” in concert with his victory.  Ah, could you imagine sitting in attendance at the Miami Beach Convention Hall that day? Well, Regina King (“If Beale Street Could Talk” (2018), “Watchman” (2019)) steps behind the camera to bring the fight to life on the…

Interview with the “One Night in Miami” cast and screenwriter

On Feb. 25, 1964, Cassius Clay (Eli Goree) knocks out Sonny Liston to become the heavyweight champion at age 22.  Afterward, Cassius, Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir), Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge), and Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.) get together at the Hampton House Hotel for an evening of conversation.  Believe it or not, these four icons truly did meet that night, and screenwriter Kemp Powers (based on his play) imagines their discourse in a mesmerizing, intricate feature that leaves you hanging on every word.  Most of director Regina King’s film transpires…

‘Herself’: You’ll stand with Dunne in this liberating drama

“Herself” – Sandra (Clare Dunne), a lovely 30-something mom with two little girls, has a happy family. In the opening minutes of director Phyllida Lloyd’s drama, Sandra’s kids – Emma (Ruby Rose O’Hara) and Molly (Molly McCann) – doll their mother up in makeup and immediately proceed to sing and dance in the kitchen.  Flourishing and carefree, this fun-loving triad share no worries, or so it would seem. Sandra’s husband Gary (Ian Lloyd Anderson) enters stage right. He politely sends his daughters out of the room and enacts a brutal,…

‘The Dissident’ sheds light on a pitch-black murder

“The Dissident” – “The Washington Post” journalist Jamal Khashoggi perished in a Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018, and the details of his murder are brutal. Sick. So sick that this critic won’t delve into the ugly specifics.  Well, director Bryan Fogel’s documentary does explain the man’s end in frank, grisly terms, but he thankfully spares his audience from photos or audio recordings.  Fogel makes a similar choice as director Werner Herzog did in “Grizzly Man” (2005), a film about the late Timothy Treadwell and his demise…

Interview with “Sound of Metal” Riz Ahmed and director Darius Marder

“Sound of Metal”, a film about a heavy metal drummer who loses his hearing, is one of the most affecting movies of 2020, and Riz Ahmed delivers an Oscar-worthy performance.  Well, Riz and director/co-writer Darius Marder graciously hosted a Zoom call, and our critic Jeff Mitchell (ArtHouseFilmWire and Phoenix Film Festival), along with other media outlets, joined them for an engaging, insightful discussion.  These talented men spoke about their experiences with the deaf community, audiences’ positive feedback, the meaning behind the film’s title, and more. “Sound of Metal” – starring…

Movie of the Week: ‘Shadowlands’

The legendary Sir Philip Anthony Hopkins turns 83 years young on Dec. 31, so AHFW just has to pick one of his great films as our movie of the week. “Shadowlands” (1993) – Hopkins stars as C.S. Lewis, and the famous writer meets and falls in love with American poet Joy Gresham (Debra Winger), who teaches this professor a thing or two about the affairs of the heart.  Based on a true story, director Richard Attenborough lets his talented actors shine, as Clive and Joy welcome their differences.  He’s eternally…

‘Soul’ is the warm chicken soup and philosophical hug that we need right now

“Soul” – After your death, you will be what you were before your birth.” – Arthur Schopenhauer, German philosopher Pixar embraces amusing visual merriment, the kind that only animated films can bring, and turn to “Cars” (2006), “Monsters, Inc.” (2001), and “Toy Story” (1995) as some chief examples.  Well, Tom Hanks could’ve dressed up as a cowboy doll in live-action versions of the “Toy Story” franchise, but I don’t know.  I’ve seen horror-show glimpses of “Teletubbies” (1997 – 2001) and grew up on the Sid and Marty Krofft’s bizarre acid…

The truth is ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ is a messy superhero movie

“Wonder Woman 1984” – Gal Gadot’s turn as Wonder Woman is the brightest star in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU), at least in this critic’s mind.  Of course, some bias falls into my perspective because I – like so many other Gen Xers – grew up watching Lynda Carter lasso scores and scores of bad guys during the “Wonder Woman” (1975 – 1979) television series.  Gadot certainly has the quintessential Princess Diana look, but her movie-star charisma, athleticism, and 5’ 10” stature make her a textbook (or is it comic…

‘Promising Young Woman’: Mulligan deserves her second Oscar nomination

“Promising Young Woman” – Cassie Thomas (Carey Mulligan) is on tour. No, Cassie doesn’t play in a band and trek across the country, although she could double as a punk rock act’s dismissive lead singer or perhaps, a local symphony’s cellist.  Ms. Thomas is attractive, thin, whip-smart, and she just turned 30.  She also turns most men’s heads, while working as a barista at Make Me Coffee or frequenting the clubs around town. Cassie’s on tour alright, but she’s embarked on a sneaky, seductive side-journey.  On a typical night, she’ll…