Movie of the Week: ‘Transit’

AHFW’s Movie of the Week:  Writer/director Christian Petzold’s movie is a surreal puzzler that begins two moves ahead of us, and then we play catch-up for most of the 101-minute runtime.  Georg (Franz Rogowski) is on the run.  He’s a German living in Paris, but he needs to quickly flee the city and country.  He’s close to his escape while hiding in Marseille and waiting for his getaway-ship to arrive.  As Georg lingers in this seaside city, one might wonder why the events occur during World War II, when everything…

AHFW’s Top 20 Films of 2020: #14 ‘Never Rarely Sometimes Always’

14. “Never Rarely Sometimes Always” – Director/writer Eliza Hittman places Autumn (Sidney Flanigan) and Skylar (Talia Ryder) on an uneasy journey from rural Pennsylvania to New York City.  For these teenagers, they embark on this impromptu trip with no chaperones, and they attempt to navigate The Big Apple’s urban minefield of subway logistics, heavy foot traffic, and cold concrete so that Autumn can have an abortion.  Hittman explains during a March 2020 interview, “I was just thinking about a way to create an atmosphere of hostility towards these young women…

AHFW’s Top 20 Films of 2020: #15 ‘I’m Thinking of Ending Things’

15. “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” – Anyone semi-coerced into meeting their boyfriend’s or girlfriend’s parents will painfully relate to Jessie Buckley’s character in director/writer Charlie Kaufman’s uncomfortable feature.  This 20-something (Buckley) is “thinking of ending things” with her relatively-new beau Jake (Jesse Plemons), but she agrees – for some reason – to have dinner with his mom (Toni Collette) and dad (David Thewlis) after a long, sketchy drive in the driving snow.  Jake and his folks don’t offer much comfort at their homestead, as Kaufman introduces idiosyncrasies, fears, and…

‘The Little Things’ isn’t big enough

“The Little Things” –  Kern County sits north of greater Los Angeles and east of San Luis Obispo.  Strikingly shaped like Montana, it’s over 8,000 square miles – about twice the size of its little sister, Los Angeles County – and it sports wide-open spaces, agriculture and gasoline production, and Bakersfield, its anchor city.   Although Kern and Los Angeles Counties are related, they couldn’t be more opposite. Kern County Sheriff’s Deputy Joe “Deke” Deacon (Denzel Washington) – a casual, matter-of-fact, going-about-his-business assistant lawman – spent much of his career in…

Five Troubling Crime Thrillers from the 2010s

Denzel Washington, Rami Malek, and Jared Leto star in a serial killer story, “The Little Things”, and director/writer John Lee Hancock’s film opens in theatres and on HBO Max on Jan. 29.  To commemorate this star-studded movie, let’s look back at five recent crime thrillers that may have flown under your radar.  If you appreciate the genre, these five outstanding – but deeply troubling – pictures are worth a look.  Just lock the doors and turn on the lights.  You’ve been warned.   “Compliance” (2012) – In director/writer Craig Zobel’s…

‘Promising Young Woman’ Interview with Carey Mulligan and director Emerald Fennell

Carey Mulligan deserves an Oscar nomination as a femme fatale striking fear in the hearts of men in “Promising Young Woman”.  Cassie (Mulligan) is a vigilante of sorts, as she frequently pretends to be inebriated in local watering holes, dance clubs, and Irish bars.  She then terrifies her aggressors when they overstep their bounds.  Director/writer Emerald Fennell’s sobering – but also playful – screenplay takes dark turns and steers into some levity with Bo Burnham’s breezy, accessible arc.  Ryan (Burnham) could be the male outlier to melt Cassie’s heart, as…

AHFW’s Top 20 Films of 2020: #16 ‘Athlete A’

16. “Athlete A” – Directors Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk’s explosive, distressing documentary clarifies a horror show:  the sexual abuse and its cover-up at USA Gymnastics.  Cohen and Shenk interview “The Indianapolis Star” reporters who broke the story in 2016, as well as the survivors – the former gymnasts – who speak out against their abuser.  Heartbreaking but also empowering, “Athlete A” is a thorough 103-minute record of tenacious investigative journalism and the brave women who found their voices. ⭐⭐⭐ 1/2  out of  ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Image and Trailer credits:  Netflix

AHFW’s Top 20 Films of 2020: #17 ‘Minari’

17. “Minari” – Director/writer Lee Isaac Chung helms an autobiographical feature of his childhood – or a small sliver of it – from the 1980s.  Jacob (Steven Yeun) leads his family to the middle of nowhere in Arkansas to start a farm and grow Korean vegetables.  Without much of an economic safety net, he realizes the slim chances of actually lassoing the American dream.  His wife Monica (Yeri Han), her mother, and their two kids feel the monetary friction in a frank, authentic struggle within the home.  “Minari” feels similar…

AHFW’s Top 20 Films of 2020: #18 ‘I’m Your Woman’

18. “I’m Your Woman” – Director Julia Hart’s atmospheric noir lives and breathes in the 1970s, as Rachel Brosnahan helps navigate this cinematic time machine to a seedy Pittsburgh crime world.  Jean (Brosnahan) finds herself on the run, crossing into the unknown without grasping the reasons.  Since she’s managing a baby in tow, Jean is more vulnerable than Bambi on the first day of hunting season.  Her limited options are a microcosm of women’s rationed opportunities during that period, but co-stars Marsha Stephanie Blake and Arinze Kene play hopeful allies. …

AHFW’s Top 20 Films of 2020: #19 ‘The Climb’

19. “The Climb” – Real-life pals Michael Angelo Covino and Kyle Marvin star in a “Sideways” (2004)-like comedy on an indie budget about two loveable losers who wrestle with life in Upstate New York.  Actually, Covino – who directed the picture – had enough cash to film in France as well.  His character – Mike – isn’t very amiable because he regularly sabotages his best buddy Kyle (Marvin), but hey, what are friends for?  “The Climb”, with an awfully witty script and a pitch-perfect supporting cast, proves that friendship is…