Movie of the Week: ‘The Birdcage’

“The Birdcage” (1996) – Mike Nichols’ remake of “La Cage aux Folles” (1978) is a landmark LGBTQ film in American cinema, although looking back, this hit comedy – which raked in 185 million dollars worldwide – does have a troubling premise.  The mid-90s and 1978 were different times, so the story of a 20-year-old son asking his gay fathers, Armand (Robin Williams) and Albert (Nathan Lane), to act straight for one night to fool his fiancée’s conservative parents – perhaps – seemed like a semi-reasonable request to the American public…

‘In the Heights’ is a satisfying musical that sometimes soars to spectacular highs

“Tell me something I don’t know.” – “No Me Diga” For those who love Broadway musicals (and are deeply familiar with Lin-Manuel Miranda’s work), there’s probably not a whole lot of new information that I can write about in his and Quiara Alegria Hudes’ film adaptation of their Tony award-winning hit “In the Heights” – which won four statues in 2008 – that you don’t already know.   Admittedly, the word of this stage triumph or its transformation to a theatrical release was first-time news to this film critic. I never…

On June 19, ‘They’re Trying to Kill Us’ will live on Tribeca at Home

The 2021 Tribeca Film Festival runs from June 9 through 20, and not only is the prominent movie celebration playing in New York City, but the films can be streamed anywhere in the U.S. through Tribeca at Home. One film, in particular, has a prominent Phoenix, Ariz. connection.   Phoenix Suns’ All-Star point guard Chris Paul – along with pop superstar Billie Eilish – executive produced “They’re Trying to Kill Us”, directed by John Lewis and Keegan Kuhn. This important and timely documentary tries “to find answers to why Americans of…

‘Loki’ (S1E1-E2) offers wonder and glorious purpose

“Loki S1 E1 & 2” (2021) – The “Dr. Strange” (2016) feature is an obvious origin story about the title character.  Still, the movie revolves around the Eye of Agamotto and the Time Stone which this critic usually refers to as the Green One. Well, the Disney+ series “Loki” series revolves, orbits, and embraces time, and there’s also a quick nod to the Green Guy (a.k.a. The Hulk).  During “Avengers: Endgame” (2019), Loki (Tom Hiddleston) found a lucky happenstance when the other Avengers force The Hulk to take the Stark…

2021 Tribeca Film Festival: 10 Movies that We Will Stream

The Tribeca Film Festival has been a New York City staple since 2002, and the 2021 festival is – indeed – set in-person in The Big Apple, but online as well from June 9 – 20! The online program is called Tribeca at Home.  AHFW is not flying to NYC for the event, but we will enjoy the festival from home!  Tribeca at Home offers four ways to see their films (and note that streaming is NOT available outside the United States): Shorts Pass – $25 for access to the…

Movie of the Week: ‘Personal Best’

June is Pride Month, so our Movies of the Week will be LGBTQ-themed.  Let’s start the celebration with a look back at the 1980s, writer/director Robert Towne’s “Personal Best”! “Personal Best” (1982) – A few drops of water fall on the bone-dry earth, and once the camera pulls back, it reveals that a track athlete anxiously anticipates the starter’s gun to fire. With long blonde locks and dressed in tight-fitting polyester athletic wear, Chris Cahill (Mariel Hemingway) is about to race in the hurdles at Hayward Field in Eugene, OR…

‘Spirit Untamed’ is cute, but it’s also a paint-by-numbers ride

Lucky Prescott’s (Isabela Merced) name doesn’t suit her, at least for the first 10-plus years of her life.  Her mom – Milagro Navarro (Elza Gonzalez), a world-class horse rider – dies in a circus accident (within the opening few minutes of this movie).  To make matters worse, instead of her father, Jim Prescott (Jake Gyllenhaal), providing oceans of support, he unilaterally and inexplicably decides that his sister, Cora (Julianne Moore), will care for Lucky.  Cora says to Lucky, “Something broke in your father.” And how!  Jim later explains his actions. …

‘The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It’ doesn’t impose enough scares

“The Conjuring:  The Devil Made Me Do It” – Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) are a pair of genuine good eggs.  More than that, these two are lifelines and champions for innocent victims who face sinister, unnatural forces.  The Conjuring Universe – which comprises of eight films – summons the Warrens for four, including the latest, “The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do it”.  Now, the Warrens were a real-life married couple and paranormal investigators, and they passed away after living long, fruitful lives at the…

Ten movies to see in June 2021

It doesn’t seem possible, but June 2021 is here.  How did that happen?    Well, if you are looking for movies to catch in theatres or at home during the 30 days of June, here are 10 that AHFW is keen on seeing! “An American Werewolf in London” (1981) – June 1 – Amazon Prime – One of the best werewolf movies of the last 50 years, and it’s definitely the funniest.  Who knew that John Landis could make horror movies? “Blue Bayou” (2021) – June 25 – in theatres…

‘Cruella’: A film to behold rather than enjoy

“Cruella” – Cruella de Vil is one of Disney’s most feared villains, right up there with Maleficent, Ursula, and Scar.  The Hunter in “Bambi” (1942) won’t win any Man of the Year awards, especially from this critic.  “Bambi” was my first movie experience in 1975, and I remember crying my eyes out when the title character’s mom died.  I haven’t watched that film since, so yea, Disney antagonists sometimes leave a mark.  In that case, a permanent one.  Of course, Cruella originates from “One Hundred and One Dalmatians” (1961). She…