‘Rojo’ is an unconventional, smoldering slow burn

“Rojo” – It’s 1975 in Argentina.  Looking back at history, but looking forward within writer/director Benjamin Naishtat’s film, a right-wing coup will overthrow Argentina’s President Isabel Peron in a move called the “National Reorganization Process” in March 1976. So, in 1975, the country’s politics are uncertain, but life still goes on.  Adults work.  Kids learn in school.  Families enjoy harmony and also fall into disagreements.  Households pay their mortgages. Couples go out to dinner. It’s a lovely early evening, and Claudio (Dario Grandinetti) – a prominent lawyer who everyone in…

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…