‘On Chesil Beach’ refreshingly strays from typical romance themes

“On Chesil Beach” – “Actually, I’m a little bit scared.” – Florence (Saoirse Ronan) “I think I am too.” – Edward (Billy Howle) Chesil Beach, a natural barrier made of pebbles, stretches for 18 miles in Dorset along the English Channel.  This thin landmass of small rocks looks delicate from the air, but Chesil Beach is not an environmental wonder that just materialized overnight.  It has a solid foundation with eons of history. Edward and Florence, in their very early 20’s, get married and then honeymoon at an inn next…

Schrader and Hawke form a dark, absorbing partnership in ‘First Reformed’

“First Reformed” – Rev. Toller (Ethan Hawke) isn’t well. He’s hurting both mentally and physically. At 46, he feels lost.  To cope, he drinks.  He drinks too much. Thankfully, he is working.  Reverend Kyles (Cedric the Entertainer) secured him a job at the First Reformed Church.  A small, tourist place of worship, which is known more for its history rather than its present.  The pews remain mostly empty during Rev. Toller’s Sunday sermons, save a handful of followers, but First Reformed was built in 1767, and it is about to…

Indifference is the one word to describe ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’

“Solo: A Star Wars Story” – The Star Wars universe obviously centers around the Skywalker family, and during Episodes IV through VI, Luke was anointed the main protagonist.   His personal Shakespearean journey is the largest thread in the original films’ tapestry, and millions and millions – and perhaps, billions – of kids welded PVC pipes, wooden sticks and purchased plastic lightsabers to emulate Luke Skywalker. On the other hand, if one took an informal poll of Star Wars fans, more boys, young men and grown men would probably want to…

Celebrate John C. Reilly’s May 24th birthday with a triple-feature

It is hard to believe, but John C. Reilly has been tearing up the silver screen in memorable lead and supporting roles for almost 30 years, and he turns 53 on May 24! Happy Birthday, Mr. Reilly! Perhaps it is just this critic, but this talented character actor with a blessed gift of comedic timing always seems to elevate the big screen air whenever he enters the frame. Reilly’s impressive list of films is longer than a Friday afternoon traffic jam on Interstate 405, as  “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” (1993),…

‘Deadpool 2’ is a sugar high, and that’s good and bad

“Deadpool 2” – Have you ever eaten Pixy Stix?   They are a granular powder of sugary goodness that Nestle Global pours in a straw for children of all ages to rip open and dump the concoction down their throats.  The experience is a visceral rush of spazzy, beautiful nonsense, but 10 seconds later, you’ll want another hit….or walk away with a headache. A Pixy Stix meal seems about the best way to describe “Deadpool 2”, the sequel to the hilarious and effective original from 2016, and Ryan Reynolds triumphantly returns…

‘Abducted in Plain Sight’ is a deeply troubling, unforgettable documentary

“Abducted in Plain Sight” – “It’s such a bizarre thing, but we lived it.  It’s all true.” – Bob Broberg “Horror is like a serpent, always shedding its skin, always changing, and it will always come back.” – Dario Argento The Broberg family did live through a bizarre thing. A nightmare, actually. An unspeakable nightmare, but every member of the Broberg family – Bob, his wife Mary Ann and their three children, Karen, Susan and Jan – decided to bravely sit in front of director Skye Borgman’s camera and speak…

‘Pope Francis: A Man of His Word’ is a great opportunity and a missed one

“Pope Francis:  A Man of His Word” – “I think he might be the coolest pope ever.” – Conan O’Brien O’Brien is not alone. With his progressive stances on climate change, gay marriage, women in the church, and more, Pope Francis is helping bridge the gap between traditional Catholicism and life in 2018.  Whether or not every individual Catholic church in the world is more accessible and flexible, well, at least this pope – whose papacy began in March 2013 – has set a new direction. Sensible.  Likable.  Approachable. These…

The 70s coming-of-age film ‘Measure of a Man’ stands up

“Measure of a Man” – “I hated summer vacation.  For me, it wasn’t about anticipation.  It was about preparation.” – Bobby Marks (Blake Cooper) “For me, growing up and going to school and not seeing any anti-bullying posters and not hearing people talk about bullying was very desolate.” – poet Shane Koyczan A lush, serene lakeside community – complete with canoes, a diving board attached to a dock, hiking trails sprawling in every direction, and families enjoying warm days, cool nights and plenty of laughs – sounds like a welcoming…

Celebrate Fred Astaire’s birthday with a double-feature

(Follow Art House Film Wire on Facebook) Fred Austerlitz was born on May 10, 1899, but the world knows him as Fred Astaire.  The American Film Institute also knows him as one of the all-time greats, as the organization ranked him the number five male performer of classic cinema. To celebrate the 119th year of his birth, here are two films to sit back and enjoy for an Astaire double-feature! “Top Hat” (1935) – Astaire and Ginger Rogers starred in 10 motion pictures together, and this film, their fourth, was…

Theron, Reitman and Cody effectively wave an SOS flag for mothers everywhere in “Tully”

“Tully” – Parenting is hard. Just ask Marlo (Charlize Theron).  She’s an overworked mom and seemingly eight months and three weeks pregnant, but thankfully, she just left her job for maternity leave. Whew! Her 8-year-old daughter, Emmy (Maddie Dixon-Poirier), is starting to grow a little self-conscious, but the school principal describes her 5-year-old son, Jonah (Asher Miles Fallica), as quirky.  (In this case, quirky means problematic and disruptive.) Soon, Marlo’s and Drew’s (Ron Livingston) third child, Mia, is born, and despite running a household and three kids without a 9…