‘Jojo Rabbit’ successfully walks a comedic and emotional tightrope

“Jojo Rabbit” –  Taika Waititi is an immensely talented and creative actor, writer and director, but he needs to add tightrope walker to his resume, because he pulls off an impossible balancing act with his new film “Jojo Rabbit”. Set in Germany during the last throes of WWII, Jojo Betzler (Roman Griffin Davis), 10, is a devoted member of the Hitler Youth, but he discovers that his mother (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a Jewish girl in their home, which throws his little fanatical mind for a loop. On the surface,…

‘The Lighthouse’ is a mesmerizing visual feast…and a rudderless waste of time

“The Lighthouse” – Robert Eggers’ follow-up to his eerie, creepy horror film “The Witch” (2015) (4/4 stars) is an equally eerie, creepy drama about two weathered men watching over a lonely lighthouse. There’s little doubt that this visual feast sets a disturbing tone, as “The Lighthouse” has an Ingmar Bergman-“Hour of the Wolf”-thing working greatly in its favor.  Filmed entirely in black and white and almost exclusively with a 1:1 aspect ratio (or very close to it), Eggers delivers a horrible sense of doom on a teeny, tiny island near…

Political Thriller Week: ‘Three Days of the Condor’

“Three Days of the Condor” – Joe Turner (Robert Redford) is a researcher at the American Literary Historical Society, which sounds like the most harmless job on the planet, next to elementary school librarian and feather duster.  Well, on an ordinary day, he leaves for lunch, and when he returns, everyone in the said place of work is dead.  He rightly assumes that he could be next. Oh, Turner, by the way, works for the CIA, and the historical society is simply a cover. Director Sydney Pollack keeps us guessing…

Political Thriller Week: ‘The Lives of Others’

“The Lives of Others” –  Despite popular belief, the U.S.A. does not corner the market on all political thrillers, and a perfect example is Germany’s absorbing and twisty “The Lives of Others”, which won the 2007 Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. The year is 1984, before the Berlin Wall came down, and not only do East Germans feel generally oppressed, but it’s not safe for them to converse freely in the comfort of their homes either.  The government could be listening. This is exactly what playwright Georg Dreyman (Sebastian Koch)…

Political Thriller Week: ‘In the Line of Fire’

AHFW’s Political Thriller Week is firing on all cylinders on Day 2 with director Wolfgang Petersen’s “In the Line of Fire” (1993).  Secret Service Frank Horrigan (Clint Eastwood) is still rattled with guilt after President Kennedy’ assassination in 1963, and it’s 30 years later, and a new threat grabs his attention and thoughts of the past.  Eastwood plays an even mix of machismo and vulnerability that lies in the center of the film’s emotional core, and while he is perfectly cast as the troubled protagonist, John Malkovich’s creepy, loner turn…

Political Thriller Week: ‘No Way Out’

Washington D.C. is up in arms with an ongoing scandal, and AHFW is not taking a side, but it is a very topical theme at the moment.  So, we’d thought we’d look back at four of our favorite political thrillers! Kevin Costner burst on the scene with two movies in 1985:  “Fandango” and “Silverado”.   Apparently, films ending in “o” were big that year.  Didn’t Hollywood release “Jello”, “Figaro” and “Oreo” in 1985 as well?  Mmm….perhaps not. Anyway, in “No Way Out” (1987), Costner plays U.S. Navy Lieutenant Tom Farrell, and…