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…

‘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…

‘Soul’ is the warm chicken soup and philosophical hug that we need right now

“Soul” – After your death, you will be what you were before your birth.” – Arthur Schopenhauer, German philosopher Pixar embraces amusing visual merriment, the kind that only animated films can bring, and turn to “Cars” (2006), “Monsters, Inc.” (2001), and “Toy Story” (1995) as some chief examples.  Well, Tom Hanks could’ve dressed up as a cowboy doll in live-action versions of the “Toy Story” franchise, but I don’t know.  I’ve seen horror-show glimpses of “Teletubbies” (1997 – 2001) and grew up on the Sid and Marty Krofft’s bizarre acid…

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…

‘Promising Young Woman’: Mulligan deserves her second Oscar nomination

“Promising Young Woman” – Cassie Thomas (Carey Mulligan) is on tour. No, Cassie doesn’t play in a band and trek across the country, although she could double as a punk rock act’s dismissive lead singer or perhaps, a local symphony’s cellist.  Ms. Thomas is attractive, thin, whip-smart, and she just turned 30.  She also turns most men’s heads, while working as a barista at Make Me Coffee or frequenting the clubs around town. Cassie’s on tour alright, but she’s embarked on a sneaky, seductive side-journey.  On a typical night, she’ll…

‘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. …

In some ways, ‘Greenland’ is a surprising disaster flick, but it’s also a dull, predictable trip

“Greenland” – After discovering “Greenland” on your Video On Demand Rolodex, you might assume that the 1-hour 59-minute film is a new Disneynature documentary about the planet’s largest island.  (Greenland is over 800,000 square miles and about nine times bigger than the United Kingdom.) Perhaps, this movie is a Werner Herzog doc, but that’s not right because it would’ve been named “Greenland: The Perils and Wonders of a Massive Ice Sheet and Rectifying any Confusion or Conflation with Iceland”. No, “Greenland” is a feature, and director Ric Roman Waugh’s picture…

‘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…