Political Thriller Week: ‘The Lives of Others’

“The Lives of Others” –  Despite popular belief, the U.S.A. does not corner the market on all political thrillers, and a perfect example is Germany’s absorbing and twisty “The Lives of Others”, which won the 2007 Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. The year is 1984, before the Berlin Wall came down, and not only do East Germans feel generally oppressed, but it’s not safe for them to converse freely in the comfort of their homes either.  The government could be listening. This is exactly what playwright Georg Dreyman (Sebastian Koch)…

Political Thriller Week: ‘In the Line of Fire’

AHFW’s Political Thriller Week is firing on all cylinders on Day 2 with director Wolfgang Petersen’s “In the Line of Fire” (1993).  Secret Service Frank Horrigan (Clint Eastwood) is still rattled with guilt after President Kennedy’ assassination in 1963, and it’s 30 years later, and a new threat grabs his attention and thoughts of the past.  Eastwood plays an even mix of machismo and vulnerability that lies in the center of the film’s emotional core, and while he is perfectly cast as the troubled protagonist, John Malkovich’s creepy, loner turn…

‘Judy’: Zellweger takes a big step towards Oscar gold in a small, incomplete biopic

“Judy” – It’s the late 1960’s, and a star is fading.  Judy Garland’s (Renee Zellweger) star, because the bright, beautiful shine on her career – which includes “The Wizard of Oz” (1939) and Oscar nominations for “A Star is Born” (1954) and “Judgment at Nuremberg” (1961) – seems like a lifetime ago. She feels like a terrible mother to her two preadolescent children Lorna and Joey. She’s also broke and homeless. Judy needs to jumpstart her career and earn a living, and through some very helpful advice, she earns a…

Early Review: ‘Joker’

“Joker” – “Is it just me, or is it getting crazier out there?” – Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) Filled with grime and crime, Gotham City is a mess. Piles of garbage lay in alleyways, a couple generations of crowded graffiti proudly shout from concrete walls and no present-day corporate pleasantries – like Time Square, with its welcoming, Las Vegas-like showmanship – can be found anywhere. Director Todd Phillips’ camera points at a movie theatre with Brian De Palma’s “Blow Out” appearing on the marquee, so the year is 1981.  The…

The Best of TIFF 2019

Art House Film Wire left for the Great White North on Friday, Sept. 6 to soak up the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival for nine days, and as usual, this massive celluloid celebration did not disappoint.  After drinking lots of coffee, taking copious notes and catching 32 movies, here are our top 10 films! “A Hidden Life” – Franz Jagerstatter (August Diehl) enjoys a beautiful life with his wife Franziska (Valerie Pachner) and their kids in the quiet Austrian village of St. Radegund, but trouble begins when World War II…