The truth is ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ is a messy superhero movie

“Wonder Woman 1984” – Gal Gadot’s turn as Wonder Woman is the brightest star in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU), at least in this critic’s mind.  Of course, some bias falls into my perspective because I – like so many other Gen Xers – grew up watching Lynda Carter lasso scores and scores of bad guys during the “Wonder Woman” (1975 – 1979) television series.  Gadot certainly has the quintessential Princess Diana look, but her movie-star charisma, athleticism, and 5’ 10” stature make her a textbook (or is it comic…

‘News of the World’: Hanks and his young co-star deliver a soulful western

“News of the World” – Three years ago, Tom Hanks starred as a newsman, and one of the 20th century’s most prominent, “The Washington Post” Executive Editor Ben Bradlee in “The Post”, a film about the publication’s attempt to publish the Pentagon Papers. In “News of the World”, Hanks plays another character tied to the Fourth Estate, although he’s worlds – and a century – apart from Mr. Bradlee. As the movie opens, Civil War veteran Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd (Hanks) greets an eager Wichita Falls, Texas audience in 1870 by…

Movie of the Week: ‘Wild Tales’

Our AHFW crew hasn’t traveled – like most folks – in months, but we’re happily (and virtually) trekking to Argentina for a modern-day classic….and our Movie of the Week! “Wild Tales” (2014) – Wild is the definitive word when describing this wonderfully sadistic, sarcastic, and hilarious ride into six devilish tales of revenge from the mind of writer/director Damian Szifron.  Each story opens without fanfare or opening titles, jumps right into the daily lives of ordinary people, throws them life-changing curve balls, and lets the chips fall where they may. …

‘Wild Mountain Thyme’: This beautiful-looking rom-com doesn’t pass the smell test

“Wild Mountain Thyme” – This tale of two families – the Reillys and the Muldoons – might be the most Irish film released in 2020 or any year in recent memory.  Gorgeous, sweeping shots of Kelly green prairies and rolling hills, crystal blue streams, winding country roads, a wandering sheep herd, and a horse or two grace the screen with proud bravado.  Accompanied by a lovely score – heavily influenced by the nation’s traditional music (the The Chieftains, perhaps?) – this welcoming Emerald Isle setting needs a few random shots…

‘Sound of Metal’ resonates with Ahmed’s Oscar-worthy performance

“Sound of Metal” – Director/writer Darius Marder’s feature film debut lands like a gut punch, a barrage of them.  One particular body blow confronts us very early in the first act, and for the remainder of the emotional, 15-round/two-hour runtime – led by Riz Ahmed’s Oscar-worthy performance – the audience tries to recover. Well, “Sound of Metal” doesn’t feature actual fisticuffs, but Ruben (Ahmed) fights through and for something that he lost. His hearing. Marder offers an immediate introduction to Ruben and his girlfriend Lou (Olivia Cooke) from the film’s…

Movie of the Week: ‘Queen to Play’

Netflix’s “The “Queen’s Gambit” (2020) is garnering all kinds of great press, and even though AHFW hasn’t moved quickly enough to see the new series, our Movie of the Week certainly is related. “Queen to Play” (2009) – While enjoying creature comforts and resting on our laurels have their benefits, it’s also important – in the game of life – to step outside one’s comfort zone every once in a while.  In writer/director Caroline Bottaro’s charming French import, she tells the story of late-30/early-40-something housekeeper, Helene (Sandrine Bonnaire), who tries…

Movie of the Week: ‘Me and Earl and the Dying Girl’

AHFW looks back to high school, and not our teenage days, but Greg, Earl, and Rachel’s experiences in 2015.  It’s worth the trip, because “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” – and off-beat wonder – is one of the most affecting high school movies in years. “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” (2015) – A self-doubting teen (Thomas Mann) befriends a fellow student stricken with leukemia (Olivia Cooke), and the particularly well-written script provides an equally hilarious and affecting journey about teenagers coping with untimely circumstances.  Director Alfonso…

Movie of the Week: ‘Searching for Sugar Man’

AHFW’s Movie of the Week isn’t a feature but a documentary, a remarkable one.  We urge you to see “Searching for Sugar Man”! “Searching for Sugar Man” (2012) – Director Malik Bendjelloul’s film about folk singer Sixto Rodriguez won the Best Documentary Oscar in February 2013, and this critic thought “Searching for Sugar Man” was the best film – feature or doc – of 2012.   Who is Sixto Rodriguez?  He made two albums in 1970 and 1971, respectively, but this talented singer-songwriter’s career didn’t take off in the U.S.  It…

Review: ‘The Thing’ (1982)

“The Thing” (1982) – “I don’t know who to trust.” – Dr. Blair (Wilford Brimley) We’ve all heard that phrase before.  Perhaps you attended MBA school, competed in a beauty pageant, or watched “Survivor”, the reality television show in which contestants compete for a million dollars in the remote locales of Borneo, the Pearl Islands, or Cambodia.  Although Richard Hatch, Sandra Diaz-Twine, and Jeremy Collins voted their “Survivor” castmates off the island, no one felt like their lives were in jeopardy. (Now, wear a Michigan Wolverines jersey to an Ohio…

Movie of the Week: ‘Audition’

AHFW’s Movie of the Week is “Audition”, director Takashi Miike’s ghoulish modern classic. “Audition” (1999) – The dating world isn’t easy.  Just ask anyone trying meet their soulmate on Match.com.  Hey, it may work out for a few lucky singles, but more often than not, it’s a minefield. Well, back in 1999, dating apps didn’t exist, and Aoyama (Ryo Ishibashi) – a widower for seven years – cannot seem to meet anyone.  His friend Yoshikawa (Jun Kunimura) suggests that he advertise and hold a fake audition for a movie.  Then, he…