‘Thunder Force’ doesn’t push the cinematic needle

“Thunder Force” – Marvel Studios made 20 feature films that eventually led to directors Anthony and Joe Russo’s beyond-massive two-movie epic, “Avengers: Infinity War” (2018) and “Avengers: Endgame” (2019) with a combined 5 ½ hours of screen time.  The cosmic storyline needed every single one of those 330 minutes because Thanos (Josh Brolin) – the chief antagonist – wiped out half of the universe’s population, and The Avengers attempted to bring trillions of living creatures back from oblivion. Talk about big stakes! Well, “Thunder Force” is a superhero comedy set…

Seek out ‘The Truffle Hunters’

“The Truffle Hunters” – Have you ever hunted for truffles?  It’s not that difficult.  Over the weekend, I strolled down a Trader Joe’s aisle and reached for a box of 16 Belgian truffles – an assortment of dark, milk, and white chocolates – sitting on an ordinary shelf about five feet off the ground.  The 7.05-ounce package cost about six dollars and was draped in decorative green and white wrapping paper because purchasing and devouring such a delicacy denotes a celebratory event, right?  Finding this particular sugary luxury burned about…

‘French Exit’ loses its way

“French Exit” – Frances Price (Michelle Pfeiffer), a New York socialite, isn’t feeling very sociable these days.  She’s depressed, frustrated, and broke. Well, not completely broke.  Frances sells off her jewelry and art to collect a tidy sum of cash.  It’s not enough to live on, but Frances and her son Malcolm (Lucas Hedges) won’t go hungry next week. Next year?  That’s a different story. You see, her late husband’s estate has become insolvent, and she has nowhere to live.  Frances isn’t the type to ask for help, but her…

‘Godzilla vs. Kong’: Ignore the brutal plot mechanics. Stay for the brutality.

“Godzilla vs. Kong” – The world has battled COVID-19 for over a year now, but in March 2021, Legendary Pictures, Warner Bros. Pictures, and Toho offer another fight, a monumental one to distract us from our torturous pandemic-troubles.  On celluloid-paper, “Godzilla vs. Kong” is the most significant cinematic clash since “Alien vs. Predator” (2004), Rocky Balboa vs. Ivan Drago in “Rocky IV” (1985), “Kramer vs. Kramer” (1979), and hey, “King Kong vs. Godzilla” (1963). Well, director Adam Wingard – who helmed the effectively creepy murder-spree horror film “You’re Next” (2011)…

Movie of the Week: ‘Wild Rose’

With the Oscars arriving rather quickly – April 25 – AHFW is looking back at some flat-out glorious films and performances that the Academy missed.   This week, we’ll turn to 2019 and “Wild Rose” (2019).  Jessie Buckley plays Rose-Lynn Harlan, a single, Scottish mom of two, and she has her hands full with raising her kids while trying to reach her dream: making a living as a country singer in Nashville. Well, Buckley delivers a dream performance in “Wild Rose”, AHFW’s movie of the week! “Wild Rose” – “Whosever heard…

‘Nobody’: Suburban dads have a new action hero

“Nobody” – In many households, David Leitch’s name may not ring any bells, but look at his IMDb profile!  He has over 80 stunt credits and more than 20 acting gigs.  Leitch also directed “Atomic Blonde” (2017), “Deadpool 2” (2018), and “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw” (2019), and he produced all three “John Wick” pictures. The man has lived and breathed action films for 26 years – including performing stunt work for Matt Damon and Brad Pitt – so Leitch knows his craft. Here, he’s a producer on…

Movie of the Week: ‘Wendy and Lucy’

The Film Independent Spirit Awards nominated Kelly Reichardt’s “First Cow” for Best Picture, Director, and Supporting Actor (Orion Lee), so let’s look back at our favorite Reichardt-film, “Wendy and Lucy” (2008). “Wendy and Lucy” (2008) – Wendy (Michelle Williams) – a 20-something hoping for a streak of good luck – is driving to Alaska to look for work, and her dog Lucy is by her side and along for the ride.  They’re taking a no-frills trip, but Wendy hasn’t received many luxuries in life, as we learn through a couple…

‘Minari’ wins the Phoenix Critics Circle’s 2020 Top Prize

The Phoenix Critics Circle proudly announces their 2020 Awards for the best films, performances, and efforts!   “Minari” wins Best Picture, along with Best Foreign Language Film, and Yuh-Jung Youn wins Best Supporting Actress. Chadwick Boseman (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”) and Carey Mulligan (“Promising Young Woman”) win Best Actor and Actress, respectively, and the rest of the winners are included here.   BEST PICTURE First Cow Minari – Winner Nomadland One Night in Miami Promising Young Woman Sound of Metal   BEST COMEDY FILM The 40-Year-Old Version Another Round Borat Subsequent…

‘The Courier’ delivers an empathetic, personal, and true Cold War spy story

“The Courier” – “So, tell me, what do you need?” – Greville Wynne (Benedict Cumberbatch) Greville is a British businessman, and he spends his days meeting with prospective clients, taking them to lunches, dinners, and golf outings.  He’ll also miss a key putt or two on purpose to help boost his customers’ morale and, in the process, his sales commissions.  He’s middle-aged, out of shape (as described by another character), and happily married with a son. Well, relatively happy.  It’s 1960, and Greville and Sheila (Jessie Buckley) pay their bills,…

‘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,…