Movie of the Week: ‘The Square’

“The Square” (2017) – Do you enjoy modern art?   Modern art can offer fascinating trips into extraordinary visions, kooky madness, fashionable imagery turned on its head, and much more.  Walk into a modern art museum, and one might find neon orange cubes that turn purple and then back to their original color every 30 seconds or so.  In another room, one could spot repeated portraits of Sophia Loren layered with newspaper and paraded on the walls, and the adjacent corridor may house an oil painting splashed by one thousand hues…

‘The Last Letter from Your Lover’ looks gorgeous, but we’ve ‘read’ this story before

“The Last Letter from Your Lover” (2021) –  Director Augustine Frizzell’s film – based on Jojo Moyes’ 2008 novel with the same name – is an old-fashioned romance.  Well, half of it is.  “The Last Letter from Your Lover” is rooted in present-day London, but it flashes back 56 years to 1965 to the same city, when men sported suits and ties to step out of their houses to run random 10-minute errands, and women strived to look like Jackie Kennedy or Marlo Thomas.  Perhaps not Ms. Thomas, because “That…

‘Joe Bell’: The messages ring, but the narrative structure does not

“Joe Bell” (2021) – “I’ve decided to walk across America.” – Joe Bell (Mark Wahlberg) In director Reinaldo Marcus Green’s “Joe Bell”, Joe – a working-class family man – drops his responsibilities at home and embarks on a trek from La Grande, Ore. to New York City.  Jadin (Reid Miller), his eldest son, joins his dad, and this two-person reverse Lewis & Clark journey feels entirely apropos.  Joe delivers an anti-bullying message to anyone who will listen, in response to Jadin receiving repeated torments because of his sexual orientation, both…

The avant-garde, L.A.-based ‘Summertime’ speaks universal truths

“Summertime” – “Los Angeles is a large city-like area surrounding The Beverly Hills Hotel.” – Fran Lebowitz “Don’t forget you’re young on a hot summer night.” – “Hot in the City” (1982) by Billy Idol In director Carlos Lopez Estrada’s (“Blindspotting” (2018), “Raya and the Last Dragon” (2021)) feature, he thinks way out of the box and – in some respects – bypasses traditional filmmaking.  “Summertime” is part poetry slam, part performance art, but all Los Angeles.  Check that.  This 84-minute on-screen presentation is all young people living in the…

Movie of the Week: ‘Without Limits’

“Without Limits” (1998) – Steve Prefontaine is one of the all-time great American long-distance runners, but in 2021, some may not have heard of the man nicknamed Pre. During the early 1970s, however, he was the University of Oregon’s favorite son, and he probably still is. The UofO has held the annual Prefontaine Classic meet on campus for 46 years running (pardon the pun). Director Robert Towne is no stranger to the sport. He wrote and directed “Personal Best” (1982), a film about a pair of female athletes training for…

‘Calvary’: It’s a sin to skip this dark whodunit

“Calvary” (2014) – Father James (Brendan Gleeson) is a good and decent priest, but despite his earnest nature, he’s unfortunately living under extreme duress in a small seaside Irish community.  Although scenic beauty surrounds him at every winding, country-road turn, many of the townspeople spew ugly hostility.  The biggest danger, however, comes from a man who enters his confessional and threatens to kill him in one week’s time.  Writer/director John Michael McDonagh weaves a dark whodunit that really plays like an old western, as it methodically marches towards Father James’…

‘Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain’ travels on several personal roads

“Roadrunner:  A Film About Anthony Bourdain” – “Travel is about the gorgeous feeling of teetering in the unknown.” – Anthony Bourdain “In America, the professional kitchen is the last refuge of the misfit.  It’s a place for people with bad pasts to find a new family.” – Anthony Bourdain Anthony, a chef at Les Halles, shared a kinship with this restaurant, but in 2000, he found a bigger family, the world, through a tell-all book.  He wrote a New York Times Best Seller, “Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly”,…

Movie of the Week: ‘Dirty Pretty Things’

“Dirty Pretty Things” (2002) – Okwe (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Senay (Audrey Tautou) are human beings without a country.  They are immigrants living in London but under a precarious environment. Okwe, from Nigeria, is here illegally, and Senay, from Turkey, works through the system to become a British citizen.  Although, that’s a lengthy process, and at the moment, she can’t rightfully take employment in England yet.  Still, both need to make a living.  They do, although under hidden circumstances, because every person of authority is a possible threat.  Unfortunately, their specific…

‘Black Widow’: This MCU cloak-and-dagger story somewhat satisfies

“Black Widow” (2021) – Budapest.  Hungary’s capital city is also the country’s largest, with 3 million people living in the greater metropolitan area.  Budapest is known for old-world architecture and a slew of museums, theatres, and operas.  If you’re hungry, a mean goulash or chicken paprikash could satisfy, or an easy, breezy boat ride along the Danube River might soothe the soul. Well, Marvel fans – including this critic – have wondered about some specific events in the Queen of the Danube – involving Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) and Clint…

Movie of the Week: ‘Collateral’

Tom Cruise turned 59 years young on July 3, and AHFW is celebrating with a fantastic Cruise performance in director Michael Mann’s thriller, “Collateral”. “Collateral” (2004) – Mann’s crime story runs all over the vast, sprawling City of Angeles into the wee hours of the evening, but at its narrative’s core, the film pits two men in a taxing confrontation, who sit just a few feet from one another. A cab driver, Max (Jamie Foxx), picks up a real estate executive, Vincent (Tom Cruise), in front of a towering downtown…