The 10 best Arnold Schwarzenegger films

Happy Birthday, Mr. Governator, Mr. Action Star, Mr. Arnold Schwarzenegger!  Arnold took the most unlikely journey to movie stardom by moving to the United States from Austria in 1968 to pursue a bodybuilding career.  And how!  He won the Mr. Olympia title seven times from 1970 through 1980, and after his bodybuilding retirement, he took the big screen by storm in “Conan the Barbarian” (1982).  The rest is history… There is no doubt that Arnold left a mark in three worlds: bodybuilding, movies and politics, and in celebration of his…

‘Hot Summer Nights’ especially delivers but then overheats

“Hot Summer Nights” – Looking back at the 20th century, some years truly stand out, and 1929, 1945, 1963, 1976, and 1984 are some of the more notable ones. Well, outside of the Hubble Telescope launch, the end of the Gulf War, Super Bowl XXV between the Buffalo Bills and New York Giants, and “Terminator 2: Judgment Day”, 1991 was not particularly special.   For writer/director Elijah Bynum, he landed on this year in his new coming-of-age comedy/drama, “Hot Summer Nights”. Although his feature-film debut is packed with wonderful script-candy, odes…

‘Gauguin: Voyage to Tahiti’ is an uninspired trip

“Gauguin: Voyage to Tahiti” – Paul Gauguin (Vincent Cassel), a French post-impressionist artist, is living his dream in Tahiti, at least in two respects. “I paint and draw all day long.  I live in harmony with everything around me,” Gauguin exclaims with glee. Prior to his move, he grew frustrated with France’s most glamorous city in 1891, because of his inability to enjoy a proper work/life balance, a phrase often used in the corporate world in 2018.  One night, Gauguin grumbles to his friends that “we spend half our time…

Movies at Home: Celebrate Woody Harrelson’s birthday with his top five performances

Happy 57th Birthday, Woody Harrelson!   Mr. Harrelson burst on the scene in 1985 as Woody Boyd, Coach’s replacement, on the legendary and equally hilarious sitcom “Cheers”, which ran on NBC until its triumphant finale on May 20, 1993. Don’t look now, but Harrelson has popped up everywhere in key supporting roles in blockbusters like “The Hunger Games” series (2012 – 2015), “Now You See Me” (2013) and its sequel (2016), “Zombieland” (2009), “Solo” (2018), and “War for the Planet of the Apes” (2017). The man born in Midland, Texas in…

The Phoenix Film Festival and Foundation reel off a new movie celebration, the Peoria Film Fest

The Phoenix Film Festival has been living large in the Valley of the Sun for 18 years, but Arizona’s top festival is branching out.  Branching out to the West Valley, actually. Peoria! The first Peoria Film Fest – sponsored by Phoenix Film Festival and Phoenix Film Foundation – will light up Harkins Arrowhead Fountains 18 Theatres on Oct. 19 to Oct. 21 and feature upcoming studio and independent movies. “We’ve been looking to host an event in the North Valley and Peoria made the most sense. The growth of the…

‘Eighth Grade’ feels difficult, and that’s perfect

“Eighth Grade” – Kids can be kids in elementary school, and teens can be teens in high school, but what about middle school?  Well, unfortunate 11, 12 and 13 years-olds trudge, through that hellish purgatory between preteen innocence and young adulthood, otherwise known as middle school. With social pressures, hormonal changes and anxiety at their peaks, these kids attempt to cope with their current, dire 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. existences that feel similar to a never-ending slog through mud pit, 18 inches deep.  Every step is a struggle, and…

‘Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot’ gets horribly lost

“Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot” – According to Google, a mess is defined as a situation or state of affairs that is confused or full of difficulties. Gus Van Sant’s “Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot” – a biopic about cartoonist John Callahan’s life after a car accident left him mostly paralyzed at age 21 – is a mess. A confusing mess, one that Van Sant overcomplicates and creates narrative difficulties, where none should exist. A successful film adaption of John’s story should be a foregone…

Celebrate Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday with ‘Invictus’

Nelson Mandela – the legendary South African president and humanitarian – was born 100 years ago on July 18, 1918, and ArtHouseFilmWire.com strongly, strongly recommends watching Clint Eastwood’s “Invictus” (2009) to help celebrate the man’s birthday. “Invictus” is the story of the 1995 South African national rugby team, and it’s journey and President Mandela’s wish to help unite a divided nation between whites and blacks.  Morgan Freeman steps into the role of Mandela so gracefully (as only he can), with much gravitas and respect, and some of the most moving…

Top 10 films of 2018…so far

It is July in Phoenix, Ariz., and the monsoons have begun!  In mysterious, unexplained ways, a sudden and vicious torrent of Arizona rain can cascade equal amounts of wonder, glee and terror into the hearts of desert dwellers all over the Valley. Well, speaking of terror, it feels a bit shocking that half of 2018 has already come and gone.  How did that happen?  Time does fly when one is having fun, because so many terrific movies arrived in theatres this year. This critic watched 143 movies from January through…

‘Ant-Man and The Wasp’ has big laughs and tiny shortcomings

“Ant-Man and The Wasp” – “It takes two to make a thing go right.  It takes two to make it outta sight.”  – Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock, “It Takes Two” (1988) In a recent “Ant-Man and The Wasp” trailer, the aforementioned classic rap song blasts across the screen in crystal clear apropos action-fashion, as the film’s dynamic duo races around San Francisco’s streets – in a quasi-updated version of 1968’s “Bullitt” – and shakes down a host of bad guys. Actually, the lack of a true noteworthy villain…