Celebrate the late Niki Lauda’s birthday with ‘Rush’

Niki Lauda would have been 72-years-young today (Feb. 22), but I am very thankful that Daniel Bruhl played the Formula-1 legend in director Ron Howard’s “Rush”.   “Rush” was my #2 film of 2013, and in my humble opinion, Bruhl deserved the Best Actor Oscar that year. Lauda was alive to see Howard’s film, although he didn’t like the rough cut.  Lauda was always a perfectionist (haha), but he gave his approval after seeing the premiere in a packed theatre, and as far as Bruhl’s portrayal of him:  “I think he…

Movie of the Week: ‘Blood Simple’

With Frances McDormand lighting up Hulu and theatres in Chloe Zhao’s heartbreaking take on 21st century America in “Nomadland“, AHFW’s Movie of the Week dials back to the 20th century, 1984 to be exact and Ms. McDormand’s feature film debut “Blood Simple”. “Blood Simple” – The Coen Brothers’ spectacular and sinister noir-offering takes big, bold steps in small-town Texas, a place where everyone knows your name, even if you wish that they didn’t. Well, Abby (Frances McDormand) wishes that she wasn’t married to Marty (Daniel Hedaya) any longer and has an…

‘Nomadland’: A haunting, heartbreaking, all-too-true American story

“Nomadland” – “I need work.  I like work.” – Fern (Frances McDormand) For years and years, Fern and her husband Bo worked at U.S. Gypsum in Empire, Nev.  In business for 88 years at that location, the company manufactured sheetrock, but due to demand shortfalls, U.S. Gypsum closed the Empire plant in 2011.  Since the corporation dominated employment opportunities in this tiny, western municipality (that sits about 100 miles north of Reno and 40 miles southwest of Black Rock City), it instantly became a ghost town.  In fact, these days…

‘Palm Springs’ interview with Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti

“Palm Springs” is a hilarious, wondrous comedy about two strangers meeting at a Palm Springs wedding, but due to a pair of bizarre, out-of-this-world of mishaps, Nyles (Andy Samberg) and Sarah (Cristin Milioti) are stuck with one another and need a miracle to free themselves.  This film gifts more surprises, chuckles, and genuine smiles than a Times Square New Year’s Eve celebration filled with laughing gas.  Samberg and Milioti share boundless chemistry and comedic timing in a film – directed by Max Barbakow and written by Andy Siara – that…

‘I Care a Lot’: Pike, Wiest, and Dinklage embrace this modern-day crime story

“I Care a Lot” – “Caring is my job.  It’s my profession.” – Marla Grayson  (Rosamund Pike) Marla Grayson loves her job.  She’s a caregiver.  Well, that’s not correct.  She’s a legal guardian, one for the elderly, and she has dozens of clients, those who need a robust, proficient personality to help make decisions for them, for both day-to-day happenings and grand issues. Wow, Marla sounds like a godsend, and perhaps she’s doing the Lord’s work, a real Mother Teresa.  Not so fast.  We soon discover that she carries all…

AHFW’s Top 20 Films of 2020: #1 ‘Soul’

1.“Soul” –  Joe (Jamie Foxx), a piano player, misses his shot to perform on a big stage, and he – without warning – finds himself in the afterlife.  This passionate jazz musician now exists in The Great Beyond and The Great Before, and he mentors a soul-in-training (Tina Fey) while hoping to return to his first love: music…on Earth!  Directors Pete Docter and Kemp Powers strike hilarious and affecting notes, as their animated film magically offers tangible life lessons that our parents, teachers, and friends have told us a thousand…

AHFW’s Top 20 Films of 2020: #2 ‘Gunda’

2. “Gunda” –  Have you ever lived on a farm?  Have you ever spent a few hours on one?  Well, director Viktor Kosakovskiy – inspired by his childhood pet piglet – places his camera on a small Norwegian homestead and follows the stories of a mama pig named Gunda, her piglets, nearby cows, and a one-legged chicken in a 93-minute documentary sans dialogue.  Shot in dreamy black and white, Kosakovskiy frames his friendly subjects at exceptionally close range and watches them stroll through their days.  While some carefree moments trigger…

AHFW’s Top 20 Films of 2020: #3 ‘Palm Springs’

3. “Palm Springs” – Director Max Barbakow and screenwriter Andy Siara turn this rom-com – about two strangers meeting at a Palm Springs wedding – on its head with a wacky, fanciful premise that gifts more surprises, chuckles, and genuine smiles than a Times Square New Year’s Eve celebration filled with laughing gas.  Due to a pair of bizarre, out-of-this-world of mishaps, Nyles (Andy Samberg) and Sarah (Cristin Milioti) are stuck with one another and need a miracle to free themselves.  Sure, Siara’s script borrows an idea (which I won’t…

10 Great Bad-Relationship Movies

Hey, February is a celebrated time of year!   Groundhog’s Day, Black History Month, gorgeous weather in AHFW’s home state of Arizona, an occasional extra 24 hours for leap year, and of course, Valentine’s Day, one of most cherished days for couples. Although, Valentine’s Day embraces loving relationships, some should not be modeled as examples for romance.  To our delight and dismay, bad relationships can be found almost everywhere on the big screen.  A dime a million, perhaps?  Well, AHFW “enjoyed” these 10 GREAT bad-relationship movies! 10.  “500 Days of Summer”…

AHFW’s Top 20 Films of 2020: #4 ‘The 40-Year-Old Version’

4. “The Forty-Year-Old Version” – A star is born!  Radha Blank writes, directs, produces, and plays the lead in a charming underdog tale of a middle-aged woman trying to jumpstart her playwriting career.  Blank pens memorable supporting players – including a group of sincere but unpolished high school students, her best friend who moonlights as her agent, and a younger love interest – who mark her journey to possible nirvana.  Still, Broadway-Eden is a ways off, as Radha grapples with the uncomfortable comforts of New York City, her professional shortcomings,…