‘The Secret Garden’ doesn’t quite bloom

“The Secret Garden” – After a prolonged, winding political road, India gained independence from Great Britain in 1947. This historical moment scooped up Mary Lennox (Dixie Egerickx), a 10-year-old girl living in India at the time.  This young Brit – nestled in the lap of financial luxury as a child ex-pat – suddenly lost her parents.  She also gained her independence, but in the most unwanted way.   Now, this newly orphaned girl baths, sleeps, and eats on her schedule, but she soon discovers that proper sustenance, direction, and boundaries become…

‘The Secret: Dare to Dream’ isn’t a nightmare

“The Secret: Dare to Dream” – “My whole life, my gut feeling is that something really bad is going to happen, and it does.” – Miranda Wells (Katie Holmes) These days, Miranda carries a ton – possibly two – of responsibility on her narrow shoulders.  Her husband passed away a few years ago, and she’s raising three kids on her own.  Not entirely by herself, because her mother-in-law Bobby (Celia Weston) regularly swings by and watches the kids.  This helpful soul is also the only character – in this movie…

Movie of the Week: ‘Shadow of the Vampire’

AHFW takes a trippy trip to 2000 and a look back at E. Elias Merhige’s highly memorable “Shadow of the Vampire” starring Willem Dafoe and John Malkovich.  Merhige’s flick is part-drama, part-comedy and part-horror, as it retells director F.W. Murnau’s (Malkovich) making of “Nosferatu” (1922).  The wrinkle is that Murnau personally hires actor Max Schreck (Dafoe) to play Count Orlok, but this unknown thespian displays bizarre behavior and – for some reason – never removes his makeup. Mmm, it makes you think that maybe….. Well, don’t speculate, we recommend that…

‘Radioactive’ is a bit hazardous, because it packs too much story

“Radioactive” – “I want to tell you about Radium, a most peculiar and remarkable element, because it does not behave as it should.” – Marie Curie (Rosamund Pike) Marie Curie – born as Maria Salomea Sklodowska in 1867 Warsaw – did not behave as she should as well.  A physicist and chemist, Marie earned physics and mathematics degrees, and picked up her doctorate at the Sorbonne, where she became the university’s first female professor.  To say that Ms. Curie was ahead of her time is the understatement of the century,…

Movie of the Week: ‘Toni Erdmann’

AHFW’s Movie of the Week reaches across the pond to Germany and the Oscar-nominated “Toni Erdmann” (2016).  Who is Toni Erdmann?  Well, no character in the movie is officially named Toni Erdmann, but Winfried (Peter Simonischek) – a father desperately seeking attention from his daughter Ines (Sandra Huller) – actually creates an alter-ego with the said moniker. Really?  Yes, and AHFW not only thinks that Huller deserved the 2016 Best Actress Oscar, but director Maren Ade’s picture is one of the very best of the decade! Here’s our full review:…

AHFW’s Top 10 Tom Hanks Performances

On July 9, Tom Hanks turns 64 years young!  Happy Birthday, Mr. Hanks! Tom arrived on the small screen at 24 with “Bosom Buddies” (1980-1982), an ABC-TV light comedy where two guys (Hanks and Peter Scolari) dress up like women to live in an affordable apartment.  Think of “Some Like it Hot” (1959), and Donna Dixon plays the Marilyn Monroe-like character. Well, who could have predicted Hanks’ film trajectory.  Forty years later, he garnered two Best Actor Oscars and has starred in countless thought-provoking and blockbuster films.  He’s simply one…

Movie of the Week: ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’

“Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” (1953) – AHFW’s movie of the week travels back 67 years to celebrate Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell’s breezy romp “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”, a film that offers a madcap platform for the ladies to showcase their comedic talents and sex appeal.  The plot follows a straight-forward, simple folly, but the picture works on all levels, and Monroe and Russell are at their very best. Lorelei (Monroe) and Dorothy (Russell) work as a lounge/club act, and on stage, they exclaim – through song – that they are two…

Celebrate Kurtwood Smith’s birthday with ‘Robocop’

Kurtwood Smith turns 77 on July 3!  Happy Birthday, Mr. Smith!  Now, his name may not ring a bell right away, but if someone mentioned Red from “That ‘70s Show” or Clarence Boddicker from the original “Robocop” (1987), it might set off a department store fire alarm, with everyone exiting safely, of course. Since AHFW is a movie site, July 3 is definitely a day to celebrate “Robocop”.  Director Paul Verhoeven’s masterful – also surreal – science fiction picture includes a great story, a multitude of violence, a flawed but…

Make room for ‘Four Kids and It’

“Four Kids and It” – “Here’s the story…of a lovely lady…who was bringing up (two) very lovely girls.” Alice (Paula Patton) is a struggling single mom, and her primary source of distress emanates from her oldest daughter Samantha (Ashley Aufderheide).  She goes by Smash and is duly named because this tyrannical teenager is angrier than Carrie White (Sissy Spacek) after classmates infamously humiliated her at the prom.   Yea, Smash is that irate, although mass murder – rest assured – is a stretch and not included in this narrative. Still, her…

Movie of the Week: ‘In the Bedroom’

“In the Bedroom” (2001) – AHFW’s Movie of the Week is Todd Field’s remarkable directorial debut “In the Bedroom” starring Sissy Spacek, Tom Wilkinson, Marisa Tomei, and Nick Stahl. Set in a New England small town, Matt and Ruth Fowler (Wilkinson, Spacek) live a happy life, and their son Frank (Stahl) is home for the summer after his college graduation.   Frank has big plans – which please his parents – but starts a relationship with an older woman Natalie (Tomei), and his future designs may lie with her, a single…