‘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…

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…

Five patriotic movies to stream on Independence Day

Millions of July 4th celebrations all over the United States include steady diets of barbecues, pool parties, fireworks, and laughter, but this holiday is also a great day for a movie!  Well, that’s because every day is a great day for a movie, of course. If you find a few spare hours on Independence Day, why not catch a movie at home?  Here are five films which pay homage to the U.S.A. in various ways, and you can stream them one or all at home. Happy Fourth! “In America” (2002)…

‘Summer of Soul’: Celebrate a 20th-century landmark event with this 21st-century cinematic treasure

“Summer of Soul” – The Summer of 1969.  What’s the first image that comes to mind?  The Apollo 11 Moon landing or Woodstock (or the Woodstock Rock Festival) might be # 1 for most Americans.    For the Gen X crowd, Bryan Adams’ 1985 single “Summer of ‘69” could round out the Top 3. After watching director Questlove’s enormously entertaining and informative documentary “Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)” – the best film I’ve seen this year and the best doc since “Searching for Sugar…

Movie of the Week: ‘Blue is the Warmest Color’

“Blue is the Warmest Color” (2013) – Adèle Exarchopoulos gives one of the very best performances of 2013 as a French high school student discovering her sexuality and graduating into womanhood through a passionate love affair with an early 20-something collegiate co-ed with blue hair (Lea Seydoux). Director/co-writer Abdellatif Kechiche winds through Adèle (Exarchopoulos) and Emma’s (Seydoux) relationship for three hours of runtime, and intricately captures subtle – and not so fine – nuances which show love as extraordinary and also traumatic.  Whether Adèle eats pasta at the table or…