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…

AHFW’s Top 20 Films of 2020: #20 ‘Boys State’

AHFW is counting down its Top 20 films of 2020, and last year was so taxing in countless ways, but we were also challenged to narrow down our favorite movies.  After much blood, sweat, and some tears too…here’s the beginning of our Top 20 films! 20. “Boys State” – “You have no time to take it all in. (On the) first day, they throw you into that arena, and it’s like a battle royale. It’s crazy,” Steven Garza says.  Steven is a high school student, one of about 1,000 teens…

Movie of the Week: ‘Sweet Country’

AHFW travels all the way Down Under to find its movie of the week…the searing and unforgettable drama “Sweet Country”. “Sweet Country” – Set in 1929 Australia, director Warwick Thornton delivers a deeply affective western – which won TIFF’s 2017 Platform Prize – as it wraps its story in entrenched divides between whites and aborigines.  When Fred Smith (Sam Neill) leaves his ranch for a business trip, his hired hand Sam Kelly (Hamilton Morris) becomes embroiled in a violent incident.  Sam and his wife Lizzie (Natassia Gorey Furber) find themselves…

Interview with the “I’m Your Woman” cast and director Julia Hart

Director Julia Hart’s “I’m Your Woman” lives and breathes in the 1970s, and 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 also 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.  Jean’s journey towards…

Movie of the Week: ‘Pariah’

Dee Rees’ (“Mudbound” (2017)) engaging feature film debut visits Alike (Adepero Oduye), a straight-A student who fails to communicate with her parents about her sexuality.  This frank drama is one of our favorite films of 2011…and is our movie of the week! “Pariah” (2011) – “Whenever the bird with no feet flew, she found trees with no limbs.” – Audre Lorde.   These words open writer/director Dee Rees’ (“Mudbound” (2017)) insightful picture, and over the course of the 86-minute runtime, Alike (Adepero Oduye) tries to find that elusive footing.  Frustrated, she…

You’ll hold on to every minute of ‘One Night in Miami’

“One Night in Miami” – On Feb. 25, 1964, Cassius Clay (Eli Goree) defeated Sonny Liston, a landmark event for boxing and the young, charismatic champion. Mr. Clay raised his record to 20 wins and 0 losses.  He also memorably raised shouts of “I am the greatest!” in concert with his victory.  Ah, could you imagine sitting in attendance at the Miami Beach Convention Hall that day? Well, Regina King (“If Beale Street Could Talk” (2018), “Watchman” (2019)) steps behind the camera to bring the fight to life on the…

Interview with the “One Night in Miami” cast and screenwriter

On Feb. 25, 1964, Cassius Clay (Eli Goree) knocks out Sonny Liston to become the heavyweight champion at age 22.  Afterward, Cassius, Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir), Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge), and Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.) get together at the Hampton House Hotel for an evening of conversation.  Believe it or not, these four icons truly did meet that night, and screenwriter Kemp Powers (based on his play) imagines their discourse in a mesmerizing, intricate feature that leaves you hanging on every word.  Most of director Regina King’s film transpires…

‘Herself’: You’ll stand with Dunne in this liberating drama

“Herself” – Sandra (Clare Dunne), a lovely 30-something mom with two little girls, has a happy family. In the opening minutes of director Phyllida Lloyd’s drama, Sandra’s kids – Emma (Ruby Rose O’Hara) and Molly (Molly McCann) – doll their mother up in makeup and immediately proceed to sing and dance in the kitchen.  Flourishing and carefree, this fun-loving triad share no worries, or so it would seem. Sandra’s husband Gary (Ian Lloyd Anderson) enters stage right. He politely sends his daughters out of the room and enacts a brutal,…

‘The Dissident’ sheds light on a pitch-black murder

“The Dissident” – “The Washington Post” journalist Jamal Khashoggi perished in a Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018, and the details of his murder are brutal. Sick. So sick that this critic won’t delve into the ugly specifics.  Well, director Bryan Fogel’s documentary does explain the man’s end in frank, grisly terms, but he thankfully spares his audience from photos or audio recordings.  Fogel makes a similar choice as director Werner Herzog did in “Grizzly Man” (2005), a film about the late Timothy Treadwell and his demise…

Interview with “Sound of Metal” Riz Ahmed and director Darius Marder

“Sound of Metal”, a film about a heavy metal drummer who loses his hearing, is one of the most affecting movies of 2020, and Riz Ahmed delivers an Oscar-worthy performance.  Well, Riz and director/co-writer Darius Marder graciously hosted a Zoom call, and our critic Jeff Mitchell (ArtHouseFilmWire and Phoenix Film Festival), along with other media outlets, joined them for an engaging, insightful discussion.  These talented men spoke about their experiences with the deaf community, audiences’ positive feedback, the meaning behind the film’s title, and more. “Sound of Metal” – starring…