‘Cherry’: This Holland/Russo brothers vehicle takes uninspired turns

“Cherry” – “My one true accomplishment was not dying.” – Cherry (Tom Holland) Cherry, a 21-year-old Iraq War vet, finds himself back in the U.S., and more specifically, a high school gymnasium.  A big band celebrates his and other local heroes’ return with genuine pomp and circumstance, but Cherry wasn’t impressed with his two years of service, so he broke the fourth wall and declared the aforementioned statement. Cherry breaks the fourth wall a lot in directors Anthony and Joe Russo’s adaptation of Nico Walker’s novel, a loosely-based autobiographical book,…

‘The Father’: Hopkins and Colman nurture Oscar-worthy performances in one of the year’s very best films

“The Father” – Anthony (Anthony Hopkins) and Anne (Olivia Colman) are having a rough go of it these days, but their father-daughter stress has been brewing for months or years.  Anthony – an 83-year-old retired engineer – and Anne live in a spacious London flat – with 12-foot ceilings and expensive furniture and accessories in every room – but their lives are anything but comfortable or content.  He has dementia.  In addition to his slips of memory, moments of confusion, and abrupt mood swings, he has just forced – off-camera…

Movie of the Week: ‘Cleo from 5 to 7’

March 8 is International Women’s Day, so it’s the perfect time to feature director/trailblazer Agnes Varda and one of her classics.  “Cleo from 5 to 7” is AHFW’s Movie of the Week! “Cleo from 5 to 7” (1962) – Florence (Corinne Marchand) – nicknamed Cleo – is a famous singer around town, and this town happens to be The City of Lights. Paris! Cleo’s tall, striking, and generally attracts double-takes or long looks from men who pass by.  On first blush, she seems to have it all, but she’s awfully…

‘Coming 2 America’ is a more of a nostalgic celebration than a winning comedy

“Coming 2 America” – It’s been 33 years since we last saw Prince Akeem (Eddie Murphy) and his best friend Semmi (Arsenio Hall) travel from The Kingdom of Zamunda to Queens, NY.  Why Queens?  By name alone, it must be the locale where Akeem can find a worthy match for a royal wedding, right? “Coming to America” arrived in theatres in June 1988, and Murphy and Hall’s buddy flick quickly became one of the most memorable comedies of the decade, at least to me, a Gen Xer, who was on…

The narrow, orderly focus trips up ‘Chaos Walking’

Tom Holland is rightfully enjoying massive success in the movie biz these days. Hear!  Hear! Holland, 24, easily fits into the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Spider-man, but he’s not just a red-and-blue superhero.  He’s starred in other big-studio films, like “In the Heart of the Sea” (2015), “The Lost City of Z” (2016), “Onward” (2020), and “The Devil All the Time” (2020). His characters handle themselves just fine when saving humanity or diving into a one-on-one scrap, and his friendly bravado translates into real-life. Holland is a certified star, but no…

Kelly Marie Tran and Awkwafina make a delightful and dynamic duo in ‘Raya and the Last Dragon’

“Raya and the Last Dragon” – “At its core, it’s an action movie.” – screenwriter Qui Nguyen, March 2, 2021 “Note to self, don’t die.” – Raya (Kelly Marie Tran) And how…and please don’t! In Disney’s “Raya and the Last Dragon”, Raya (Tran) – an early-20-something – and her trusty companion Tuk Tuk – a 10-foot long, pill bug/armadillo-like, four-legged friend, who best resembles an organic Fiat 500 – carry us on a dazzling animated journey.  Their quest is to search for the last remaining dragon, Sisu (Awkwafina), and find…

‘Boogie’: The well-intentioned attempts don’t run up the cinematic scoreboard

“Boogie” – “Maybe we should start at the beginning so you can get some context.” – Melvin (Mike Moh) During the second act of writer/director Eddie Huang’s basketball film, Melvin (Moh), an aggressive sport agent, formulates a plan for Alfred ‘Boogie’ Chin (Taylor Takahashi) and utters the aforementioned statement, but this declaration serves this movie’s opening scene too. Huang’s picture starts – in 2001 – inside a modest Queens, N.Y. fortune teller’s parlor, and a young couple – clearly on edge – argue, bicker, and ponder their relationship and future. …

Movie of the Week: ‘The Rider’

With writer/director Chloe Zhao winning Golden Globe Best Director and Best Picture honors on Feb. 28, AHFW wanted to feature her heartfelt 2017 feature “The Rider” as our Movie of the Week. “The Rider” (2017) – “Sometimes, dreams aren’t meant to be.” Writer/director Chloe Zhao’s beautiful but heartbreaking picture tenderly embraces this aforementioned resignation in the world of rodeo riding.  Brady Jandreau, a real-life rodeo rider suffered a brain injury on the circuit, and he plays Brady Blackburn, who suffers the same fate.  Brady’s doctors forbid him to get on…

‘Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry’ opens a door and delivers some insider clarity

“I had a dream.  I got everything I wanted.”  – Billie Eilish, “Everything I Wanted” (2019) Princess of the Pop-Star Universe Billie Eilish has 50 million monthly Spotify listeners and 38 million YouTube subscribers.  Her song “Bad Guy” has over a billion YouTube views, she’s played live in over 20 countries, and on January 26, 2020 – at the age of 18 – Ms. Eilish won five Grammy awards. Five Grammys!  And what did you accomplish at 18?  Yea, same here. She also stars in a movie: a documentary helmed…

‘Nomadland’: A haunting, heartbreaking, all-too-true American story

“Nomadland” – “I need work.  I like work.” – Fern (Frances McDormand) For years and years, Fern and her husband Bo worked at U.S. Gypsum in Empire, Nev.  In business for 88 years at that location, the company manufactured sheetrock, but due to demand shortfalls, U.S. Gypsum closed the Empire plant in 2011.  Since the corporation dominated employment opportunities in this tiny, western municipality (that sits about 100 miles north of Reno and 40 miles southwest of Black Rock City), it instantly became a ghost town.  In fact, these days…