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…

Don’t let Petzold’s ‘Transit’ pass you by

“Transit” – According to Google, the definition of transit is an act of passing through or across a place.  That seems simple enough, but there is nothing straightforward about writer/director Christian Petzold’s (“Barbara” (2012), “Phoenix” (2014)) latest film “Transit”, a delicious and surreal puzzler that begins two moves ahead of the audience, and we need to play catch-up for most of the 101-minute runtime. Georg (Franz Rogowski) lives in Paris, but the city seems to be caught in a newly-formed police state or declaration of martial law.  In fact, some…

Early Review: ‘Green Book’ is destined for golden nominations

“Green Book” – “When growing up, I saw segregation.  I saw racial discrimination.  I saw those signs that said white men, colored men, white women, colored women…and I didn’t like it.” – U.S. Congressman John Lewis – GA (D), during a Nov. 16, 2016 interview with NPR’s Terry Gross During the same interview, Lewis reflected on his childhood during the 40’s and 50’s, when segregation was everywhere, and he asked his parents, “Why?” Lewis said that they just responded, “That’s the way it is.” Set in 1962, Dr. Don Shirley…

‘The Captain’ leads a cinematic trip into dark, dangerous territory

“The Captain” – In April 1945, Herold (Max Hubacher), a young German soldier, is running for his life from his own army and some locals, however, in an incredible stroke of luck, he stumbles upon a pristine captain’s uniform.  He suddenly forms a brand new identity – with his new appearance – which commands respect, but can Herold convince his fellow soldiers and officers that he is a captain? Hubacher delivers a highly convincing performance as a desperate man who must continually swallow his fear to survive, and over time, his…