Celebrate Chocolate Cake Day with ‘Kings of Pastry’

Who doesn’t like chocolate cake?  Well, those with allergies, perhaps and those who don’t like chocolate.  Then again, who doesn’t like chocolate? Anyway, Jan. 27 is none other than Chocolate Cake Day, and Art House Film Wire recommends to hit up your local bakery, pick out a humongous slice of chocolate cake, bring it home, and dive into the sugary, buttery goodness while digesting the apropos documentary “Kings of Pastry” (2009). This terrific behind the scenes doc pits several world class bakers and their push to win the coveted Meilleur…

‘The Last Full Measure’ is full of emotional supporting performances

“The Last Full Measure” – “The Vietnam War was arguably the most traumatic experience for the United States in the 20th century.” – author Donald M. Goldstein “There was only one man on the ground that day that would have turned down a ride out of that hellhole – at that man was Pitsenbarger.” – F. David Peters, Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division The year is 1999.  The tech boom was in full bloom, and so were The Backstreet Boys.  Lance Armstrong won his first Tour…

Surprise! Oscar-nominated ‘Les Misérables’ is a gritty, non-musical crime drama

“Les Misérables” – “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” – Charles Dickens, “A Tale of Two Cities” Quoting – or to be more precise, partially-quoting – Dickens to kick off a “Les Misérables” movie review might be brazen, foolish and a bit sacrilegious, but after watching director Ladj Ly’s gutsy, modern take on Victor Hugo’s celebrated novel, it also feels apropos. For Issa (Issa Perica), a young Parisian teen, life is the best of times and also the worst.  France just won the 2018…

Woodard commands the screen with steely and hazy gazes on capital punishment in ‘Clemency’

“Clemency” – For Anthony Woods (Aldis Hodge), his days in prison are lengthy and torturous.  Each drab minute feels exactly like the next, because sitting in a 10-by-10 foot cell day after day, week after week, and month after month does nothing to spur joy or optimism. Time has become his sworn enemy, packaged as a double-edged sword, because the seemingly endless moments are also brutally finite. Anthony is on death row, and he unenviably stands next in line. Warden Bernadine Williams (Alfre Woodard) is enduring troubling days of her…

‘1917’ is a must-see on the big screen

“1917” – “I wanted you to feel like you were there with the characters, breathing their every breath, walking in their footsteps. The best way to do that is not to cut away and give the audience a way out, as it were.” –  Sam Mendes, Variety, Dec. 5, 2019 One military order. Director Sam Mendes’ “1917” can be summed up as one military order carried out by two British lance corporals through No Man’s Land and beyond at the height of WWI.  On the surface, this seems like a…

‘Like a Boss’ should be fired

“Like a Boss” – “Oh, you’re the best friend that I ever had.  I’ve been with you such a long time.  You’re my sunshine, and I want you to know that my feelings are true.  I really love you.  Oh, you’re my best friend.” – Queen, “You’re My Best Friend” (1975) Mia (Tiffany Haddish) and Mel (Rose Byrne) are best friends and have been for decades.  Now, while their gal pals are scoring big jobs, getting married or having kids, Mia and Mel are housemates and share a bathroom, Brady…

Malick shines a caring, admiring light on ‘A Hidden Life’

“A Hidden Life” – “It seemed no trouble could reach our valley. We lived above the clouds.” – Franziska (Fani) Jagerstatter (Valerie Pachner) Franz and Fani Jagerstatter (August Diehl and Pachner) have a beautiful life. This happily married couple own a farm, have three young daughters and much love is felt within their home and also with their supportive neighbors in the tiny village of St. Radegund, tucked away in an Austrian valley. They live openly in St. Radegund, but this community is generally unseen to the rest of the…

Celebrate ‘I’m Not Going to Take It Anymore Day’ with ‘Falling Down’

Have you ever been slighted at work?  Did you have a year go by without a raise?  Worse yet, have you ever been laid off? Well, if you are frustrated with work, today’s politics or feeling paralyzed with the raging infernos in Australia, January 7 is your day.   It’s ‘I’m Not Going to Take It Anymore Day’!  To help celebrate, here’s a clip from 1993’s “Falling Down”. “Falling Down” (1993) – Let go from his defense contract job and stuck on a Los Angeles roadway, William (Michael Douglas) leaves his…