Movie of the Week: ‘It Follows’

AHFW’s Movie of the Week is another one of our favorite horror films, David Robert Mitchell’s sensational and scary “It Follows”. “It Follows” (2015) – Writer/director David Robert Mitchell creates a horror film masterpiece with a story of a mysterious being who singularly follows an ordinary student through the Detroit suburbs.  Mitchell’s movie offers an obscure late 70s/early 80s vibe with the period’s cars, clothes, and living room decors while accompanying the landscape with a synthesizer-filled soundtrack and hand-wringing sequences reminiscent of 1978’s “Halloween”.  With its unsettling creepiness and a…

‘Nocturne’ looks great but it’s a little off-key

“Nocturne” – “From their struggles to establish dominance over each other, siblings become tougher and more resilient.” – Adele Faber “Siblings that say they never fight are most definitely hiding something.” – Lemony Snicket Vivian (Madison Iseman) and Juliet (Sydney Sweeney) have played the piano for practically their entire lives.  Writer/director Zu Quirke establishes this absolute fact during the first few minutes of “Nocturne”, as we see the girls striking 88 keys as toddlers through high school in a dreamy montage. Practicing for three hours a day for 15 years…

Maybe ‘The War with Grandpa’ should give peace a chance

“The War with Grandpa” – Since I’m a child of the 70s and 80s, sometimes 2020 feels like an alien world, not necessarily due to miracles of modern technology, but socially. Back in the day, parents left their Gen X children to their own devices (not cell phones but ideas and related tomfoolery) for hours and hours.  My mom would shoo my brothers and me out of the house on Saturday or Sunday mornings, and say, “Have a great day.  Dinner is at six.” My father’s word was law, including…

‘On the Rocks’ is a smooth, breezy indulgence

“On the Rocks” – I got your nose.  I got your nose. How many fathers have played that free-and-easy, five-second game with their kids?  My dad certainly did, but as I grew older, his teasing evolved into more functional spaces.  For instance, he would insist on possessing the television’s remote control when he entered the family room. “Jeff.  Controller.  Hand it over, Son, because you don’t know how to use it,” he would often say.  This exchange occurred daily for years, and sometimes I would hand over the remote with…

Ironically, ‘The Glorias’ works too hard

“The Glorias” –  “The path up is always a jagged line, not a straight one.” – Gloria Steinem “Roam if you want to.  Roam around the world.  Roam if you want to, without wings, without wheels.” – The B-52s, “Roam” Most folks probably know feminist icon Gloria Steinem from “Ms.” (magazine) and her trademark glasses, but this influential trailblazer is a whole lot more than her 49-year-old publication and fancy spectacles. There’s only one Gloria Steinem.  That’s true, except in writer/director Julie Taymor’s “The Glorias”, a Steinem biopic with four…

July’s ‘Kajillionaire’ pays out some eccentric riches

“Kajillionaire” – Old Dolio Dyne (Evan Rachel Wood), 26, frequently sports a clashing green and blue tracksuit – a polyester fashion nightmare that was probably last seen in 1982 – and lives a happy life with her two loving, supportive parents. Well, scratch that last part. Theresa (Debra Winger) and Robert (Richard Jenkins) don’t exactly hold Old Dolio’s best interests in mind, either for the long term or in the immediate present.  First of all, they named their only child after a homeless man, which would probably trigger any capable…

Movie of the Week: ‘Wadjda’

AHFW’s Movie of the Week is a thoughtful, groundbreaking drama out of Saudi Arabia about Wadjda (Waad Mohammed), a 12-year-old girl and her singular pursuit! “Wadjda” (2012) – In Saudi Arabia, women are not allowed to drive, and apparently, girls are not allowed to ride bikes.  Don’t tell that to Wadjda (Waad Mohammed).  This 12-year-old girl is happy to question – like a preteen-Gloria Steinem – societal laws and rules assigned to women and is determined to own and ride a bike. Writer/director Haifaa Al-Mansour must be determined as well,…

‘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…