Hawkins delivers an Oscar-worthy performance in ‘Maudie’

“Maudie” – “I’ll get a job or something.” – Maud Lewis Maud (Sally Hawkins) is soft spoken, pleasant and kind, and for fun, she spends an occasional evening at a club, enjoying a drink and dancing by herself.  One night at the aforementioned club, she soaks up laughter and music but without socializing or speaking to anyone.  Maud fills her time that evening surrounded by people, smiles and feels content, but she is terribly isolated in the crowd. She lives rent-free at her Aunt Ida’s (Gabrielle Rose) home, and on…

Too many storylines, not enough Minions in ‘Despicable Me 3’

“Despicable Me 3” – When thinking about the “Despicable Me” series, what is the first image that pops into your mind?   Minions, right? Those pintsized, yellow, pill-shaped, lovable devils have caused hilarious havoc in three previous animated adventures, including their own film, “Minions” (2015).   As entertaining as this collection of miscreants can be, Minions are best served in small, steady and frequent doses.  The best film in the series is the second one (2013), in which they were wholly integral to the main narrative but did not dominate the story. …

Welcome to ‘Baby Driver’, the most entertaining movie of the year…by a mile

“Baby Driver” – During the 1970s and 1980s, millions of boys grew up watching hundreds and hundreds of staged car chases on television shows like “Starsky & Hutch” and “The Dukes of Hazzard”, and include me in this motley group.  Pristine minds – void of any personal experiences of burning rubber and squealing tires – can certainly become mesmerized, when two Southern California police detectives and two Georgia locals man their four-wheeled chariots on tracks of asphalt and dirt, respectively and in the process, outwit their adversaries. Over time, however,…

Five wonderful, lead female performances on Netflix

Netflix provides a truly remarkable convenience to its millions of subscribers, with thousands of movie choices available at a simple click of a button.  At the same time, so many film possibilities can create a conundrum:  Which movie to choose?   When an evening hinges on the quality of your movie experience, it is not a decision to be taken lightly. Art House Film Wire searched through hundreds of movies and found scores and scores of terrific films.  There are lots of movies with wonderful female performances, but here are five. Judy…

Happy Birthday Nick Offerman!

On June 26, Nick Offerman turns 47, so Happy Birthday, Mr. Offerman! Nick began his acting career in 1994 but became instantly recognizable in 2009 with his star turn as Ron Swanson in the popular NBC sitcom “Parks and Recreation”.  With his droll, sardonic delivery, Ron can expand on all of the ways he despises government, despite his job as the head of the parks and recreation department of a small Indiana town. Offerman has shined on the big screen in recent years as well with very memorable supporting performances…

‘The Exception’ is intriguing but not necessarily exceptional

“The Exception” – The definition of an exception is a person or a thing that does not follow a rule.  In director David Leveaux’s first feature film, he wonders if Capt. Stefan Brandt (Jai Courtney) can be an exception and not follow a rule or – more specifically – his orders.  Leveaux raises the stakes for the audience, because Capt. Brandt is not part of an ordinary military outfit, but a very infamous one.  The year is 1940, and Brandt is a German soldier.  Of course, SS soldiers who spoke…

‘Transformers: The Last Knight’ is a nightmare

“Transformers: The Last Knight” –  Have you ever walked into a classroom, sat down and the instructor hands out final exams to all the students, but you recoil in horror, because you haven’t attended one lecture all semester? I have never felt such despair in real life but have encountered an occasional dream depicting the aforementioned, dreadful scenario.   Apparently, this type of nightmare stems from feeling anxiety or discomfort about a life situation during one’s waking hours.  During sleeping hours, a brutal sense of unpreparedness can temporarily rush over a…

‘Whisky Galore!’ does not have enough comic spirit

“Whisky Galore!” – World War II impacted hundreds of millions of people.  Sure, most did not fight on the front lines, but the war affected those at home.  Men, women and children were sick with worry about their loved ones milling in foreign lands, and federal governments demanded that food, clothing, metals, gasoline, and more be rationed.  On the island of Todday, 100 miles from Great Britain’s mainland, its residents are not immune to the aforementioned sacrifices, and in director Gillies MacKinnon’s new picture, he focuses on one specific commodity,…

’47 Meters Down’ raises the bar despite some silliness

“47 Meters Down” – Just briefly glancing at the “47 Meters Down” poster, one can easily discern the plot of this nifty – but flawed – new thriller from director Johannes Roberts.  Two young women sit in a cage at the bottom of either a very, very large aquarium or the ocean, and a number of sharks (five to be exact) are hovering just above their iron crate. Lisa (Mandy Moore) and Kate (Claire Holt) are sisters vacationing in Mexico, and after a brief heart-to-heart at the pool, they decide…

Elliott shines as ‘The Hero’

“The Hero” – “Lone Star Barbeque Sauce, the perfect partner for your chicken.”- Lee Hayden “You seem sad.” – Charlotte, speaking to Lee Sam Elliott is enjoying a busy and celebrated television and film career, spanning 48 years and counting.  He has starred in very memorable supporting roles over the years, including “Mask” (1985), “Road House” (1989), “Tombstone” (1993), “We Were Soldiers” (2002), and “I’ll See You in My Dreams” (2015), and when you think of Elliott, two thoughts immediately come to mind:  his voice and his mustache.  In “The…