‘The Dark Divide’ is a soulful, pleasant journey

“The Dark Divide” – “I’m actually searching for new species of (butterflies)…and moths.  In fact, three years ago, I discovered six new species, and that is a Xerces Society record.  I’ve authored several books on the subject.  It’s kind of a big deal, just so you know.” – Robert M. Pyle, Ph.D. (David Cross) Dr. Robert M. Pyle – a lepidopterist and college professor – is a big deal.  It’s the summertime in 1995, and he’s about to embark on a new assignment.  You see, the Guggenheim offered him an…

‘The Devil All the Time’ is a well-crafted, exceedingly grim slow burn

“The Devil All the Time” – At the 46-minute mark of director Antonio Campos’ film adaptation of Donald Ray Pollock’s debut 2011 novel, Arvin Russell (Tom Holland) sheepishly smiles when his aunt brings out a cake with a lit candle on his birthday.  As an audience, let’s also celebrate the occasion, because this moment is one of the very few on-screen smiles offered in “The Devil All the Time”, a rough-and-tumble, exceedingly grim step into noir.  It’s a picture that might leave you depressed and reduced to near-zero hope for…

‘Antebellum’ is an effective and challenging thriller

“Antebellum” – On June 30, 2020, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves signed a law to remove its state flag, a decision that drew vast Magnolia State and U.S. support.  Most of the state’s emblem resembled Serbia and Montenegro’s with large horizontal bars of benign blue, white, and red; however, the top left corner featured a pronounced squared version of the Confederate battle flag.  It has a red background with a blue “X” (or cross) and 13 small white stars.  Most of us have seen this Confederate States of America symbol from…

‘The Broken Hearts Gallery’: You may or may not buy this breezy, thin rom-com

“The Broken Hearts Gallery” – “Sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows, everything that’s wonderful is what I feel when we’re together.  Brighter than a lucky penny, when you’re near, the rain just disappears, dear, and I feel so fine just to know that you are mine.”  – Lesley Gore, “Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows” Spend five minutes with Lucy Gulliver (Geraldine Viswanathan), and Lesley Gore’s 1963 bubblegum tune might immediately pop into your head.  This 20-something is a lively, witty lass who feels lucky in life!  She lives with her two supportive best…

‘Words on Bathroom Walls’ draws up a compelling and empathetic story

“Words on Bathroom Walls” – Adam (Charlie Plummer) is halfway through his high school senior year, so graduation is close. Whoo-hoo! He should have the world at his feet, but a one-two-punch – emerging from a massive, unpredictable jungle, otherwise known as life – delivers a couple of near-crippling blows. First, his dad – with little warning or on-screen fanfare – leaves Adam and his mom Beth (Molly Parker).  Since Adam is taking the news better than his mother, he finds the space to prepare meals for their suddenly smaller…

Iannucci spins a classic with ‘The Personal History of David Copperfield’

“The Personal History of David Copperfield” – “I hadn’t read ‘David Copperfield’ for a long time.  I reread it about 8 or 9 years ago, and I was struck by how modern it was.  The themes in it are very, very 21st century.  It’s all about status anxiety.”  – Armando Iannucci, January 2020 I’ve read a fair share of classic literature, but sadly, I never picked up “David Copperfield”, Charles Dickens’ novel about an Englishman’s 19th-century chronicle told in the first person.  During my 20th century secondary education, either my…

‘Get Duked!’ offers regal shenanigans

“Get Duked!” – The Duke of Edinburgh Award is an outdoor adventure challenge that takes “young delinquents out of the city and into the countryside.” Misguided teens may be a more appropriate moniker for the program’s target audience, and “Get Duked!” features three perfect candidates.  Outside education teacher Mr. Carlyle (Jonathan Aris) recruits (aka forces) troublemaking teenagers Dean (Rian Gordon), Duncan (Lewis Gribben), and DJ Beatroot (Viraj Juneja) on a trip to the Scottish Highlands for four days and three nights. Hopefully, the classmates can ingest some fresh air and…

‘Chemical Hearts’ has some magic

“Chemical Hearts” – “You’re never more alive than when you’re a teenager.” – Henry Page (Austin Abrams) Raise your hand if you’ve heard a version of Henry’s aforementioned statement during your teenage years.  Parents, teachers, or older brothers or sisters are usually the main prophets to bestow this wisdom, but in this case, Henry is narrating his story, as he looks back on his high school senior year.  Before meeting Grace (Lili Reinhart), Henry never really believed it, though. He never felt it. Nothing emotionally noteworthy rocked Henry’s universe, but…

Movie of the Week: ‘Burning’

Bong Joon-ho and his landmark film “Parasite” (2019) made Oscar history with his Best Picture Oscar win on Feb. 9, 2020, the first foreign language movie to win the award. South Korea has a long, fruitful history in cinema, and this week, AHFW looks to a brilliant film from Bong’s countryman Lee Chang-dong.  “Burning” (2019) is potent drama that sparks unconventional mysteries. “Burning” (2018)– Director Lee Chang-dong’s picture – which is South Korea’s 2019 Best Foreign Language Film Oscar entry – is about haves and have-nots, belief and uncertainty, clear direction…

Here’s an enthusiastic vote for ‘Boys State’

“Boys State” –  “Political parties are likely to become potent engines by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government.” – George Washington, 1796 The aforementioned quote appears at the beginning of “Boys State”, a highly compelling documentary – from directors Amanda McBaine and Jesse Moss – that presents Texas Boys State, an American Legion-promoted event in which over 1,000 teenage boys descend on Austin to engage in a government simulation. Given the…