MOVIE OF THE WEEK Feb 27 to Mar 3: FROM NOWHERE

motw logo 1-35From Nowhere has the peculiar timing of being released in theatres in the midst of the current maelstrom around immigration in the US. The film premiered last year at the SXSW Festival, where it picked up an audience choice award. Back in those innocent and unsuspecting days of yore, the film was relevant and topical, but now it is essential. As the US president threatens to muster the National Guard to round up  the undocumentedFrom Nowhere offers up a portrait of three young lives caught up in this Kafkaesque situation. Read On….

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PATERSON — Review by Susan Granger

Paterson (Adam Driver) is a New Jersey Transit bus driver in Paterson – they share the name. Paterson leads an orderly, routine life. Every day, he gets up early, kisses his wife Laura (Golshifteh Farahani), makes coffee and eats a bowl of Cheerios before walking to the bus depot. As he drives his No. 23 route around the city, he observes his disparate passengers and listens to snippets of their conversation. He comes home at the same time for dinner each night, walks their cranky English bulldog Marvin, and enjoys a beer at a corner bar. But his passion is writing poetry in a small notebook. Read on…

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WISH UPON — Preview by Liz Whittemore

What sets a horror film apart from all the others? A great trailer that engages fans’ curiosity, for one thing. But add another element for young fans to play with while waiting for said anticipated film? There’s your winner, and it’s Wish Upon. Read more on I SCREAM YOU SCREAM.

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THE GREAT WALL — Review by Susan Granger

Filmed entirely in China, this epic, $150 million action/adventure/fantasy was designed to stun the Western world like “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” (2000). Directed by Zhang Yimou (“Hero,” “House of Flying Daggers”), who orchestrated the opening and concluding ceremonies of Beijing’s 2008 Olympic Summer Games, it relates a 12th century Chinese legend. Riding on horseback through the Gobi desert, European mercenary William Garin (Matt Damon) and his sidekick Pero Tovar (Pedro Pascal) evade nomads in the rugged steppes while searching for “black powder”(gunpowder) which will change the future of war. Read on...

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK February 17-21: AMERICAN FABLE

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Horror and fantasy film have long been a birthplace for emerging talent. Steven Spielberg, Sam Raimi, Peter Jackson, James Cameron, Ridley Scott, Kathryn Bigelow, and Gareth Edwards – all cut their teeth in genre cinema before moving onto other things. Director Anne Hamilton is in fine company, and her new film American Fable emerges from this august tradition, trailing references aplenty. Read on…

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Anne Hamilton talks Gender Politics, Career Moves and AMERICAN FABLE – Interview by Gill Pringle (Exclusive)

anne hamilton head 1Director Anne Hamilton was on a date with an agent after moving to Los Angeles three years ago, when he casually mentioned how female directors “paint better on small palettes”.

“I wanted to punch him!” recalls Hamilton, 32, whose debut feature film, American Fable is anything but small; a gothic-style suspense story presenting a desperate rural America rarely depicted on screen.

“I have a huge palette which I intend to use, and I want to be another female director who demonstrate that’s not the case,” says this protege of visionary film-maker Terrence Malick. Read on…

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OSCAR Nominated Live Action Shorts — Review by Martha K. Baker

There’s not a bad seed in this barrel of apples. All five, mostly a half-hour each, offer resounding stories, well told and acted and filmed. They come from France, Hungary, Switzerland, Denmark, and Spain. Two of them swirl around the predicament of refugees in Europe.

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TONI ERDMANN — Review by Susan Granger

Going into the Oscar Foreign Language race as an overwhelming favorite, German filmmaker Maren Ade’s poignant comedic-drama revolves around a practical-joking father who tries to reconnect with his uptight daughter by creating an outrageous alter-ego. Within that context, Ade satirically tackles feminism, workplace sexism, international capitalism, and German arrogance within the European Union.
After his beloved dog dies, divorced, middle-aged music teacher Winifred Conradi (Peter Simonischek) feels totally lost. So he tries to reconnect with his only child – daughter Ines (Sandra Huller) – who is obsessive about her executive consulting work in Romania. Read on…

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OSCAR Nominated Animation Shorts — Review by Martha K. Baker

“Short” is right. Most of these films run fewer than 10 minutes with one longer than a half-hour. And “sweet” is right, too, in a way, if “sweet” stretches to mournful. The Oscar-nominated Short films advance the concept of brevity as good and worthy. Read on…

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK February 10 – 17: A UNITED KINGDOM

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A United Kingdom is director Amma Asante’s earnest, thought-provoking drama about the real-life passion between Botswana’s beloved Seretse Khama (David Oyelowo) and Englishwoman Ruth Williams (Rosamund Pike). Set in post-WWII England and Africa, the film sheds light on an important, still-relevant slice of history, addressing issues of race, politics, and colonialism while also telling a heartwarming love story. Read on…

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SILENCE — Review by Susan Granger

Filmmaker Martin Scorsese (Kundun, Last Temptation of Christ) is obviously fascinated with the foundations of faith, adapting Shusaku Endo’s 1966 historical novel about two Jesuit priests who travel from Portugal to Japan to find their mentor who is rumored to have renounced his religion under torture. In 17th century Buddhist Japan, Catholicism has been outlawed and its believers persecuted. But fervent Father Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Father Garrpe (Adam Driver) are determined to track down Father Ferreira (Liam Neeson). As they search, they minister to converted villagers who risk their lives to hide them from the wily Inquisitor (Issei Ogata) and his interpreter (Tadanobu Asano), who give suspected Christians the opportunity to recant by stepping on an image of Jesus or the Virgin Mary. Read on…

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OKLAHOMA CITY — Review by Brandy McDonnell

It may be heartrending and stomach-churning to watch, especially for Oklahoma natives and residents like me, but the new PBS documentary “Oklahoma City” is timely and vital viewing. The harrowing film, which made its world premiere last month at the Sundance Film Festival, does more than just recap the destruction wrought by Timothy McVeigh’s truck bomb. Read more on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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THE COMEDIAN — Review by Susan Granger

Back in 1983, Robert De Niro played a sociopathic wannabe celebrity in Martin Scorsese’s “The King of Comedy,” starring Jerry Lewis. Obviously, the delusional character intrigued De Niro because in “The Comedian,” he’s a former TV sit-com star, Jackie Burke. Aging Burke has hit hard times, unable to move beyond nostalgic references to “Eddie’s Home.” One night when an obnoxious heckler with a web-cam taunts him at a comedy club in Hicksville, Long Island, he clobbers the guy in a scuffle that winds up on YouTube. Read on…

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EVERLASTING — Review by Susan Granger

Writer/director Anthony Stabley has devised a different twist on the traditional horror film, combining his ominous concept with a murder mystery. “Darkness can take over your life, even when you think you have everything under control,” notes Matt Ortega (Adam David), a high-school filmmaker who receives a mysterious package containing a DV tape depicting the torture and murder of his girlfriend Jessie (Valentina de Angelis). Read on…

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AWFJ Movie of the Week, Feb 3 – 10: I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO

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Raoul Peck’s impeccable and rigorous film I Am Not Your Negro comes at a moment when cinema is creating new conversations about race. Ava DuVernay’s 13TH, Barry Jenkin’s Moonlight, Denzel Washington’s Fences, Hidden Figures, and Loving – all contend in different ways with oppression, prejudice, and racial hatred. Read On… 

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GOLD — Review by Susan Granger

As a critic, I’m often asked, “Do you really stay ‘till the end of a movie, even if you know it’s not very good?” The answer is “Yes,” because you never can tell what surprises may surface – and that certainly applies to this twisted tale, chronicling the effects of greed and friendship. In 1988, paunchy, whiskey-guzzling Kenny Wells (almost unrecognizably balding Matthew McConaughey) inherited his family’s once-profitable Washoe Mining Corporation in Reno, Nevada. Read on…

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THE COMEDIAN — Review by Martha K. Baker

In 2000, Robert De Niro proved he could be funny in “Meet the Parents.” Before that, he was a heavy, an ACT-OR in films like “Goodfellas” and “The Godfather.” In “The Comedian” he proves that he can be part comedian/part tragedian. The result, however, is more leaden than light. “The Comedian” kills, but not in a good way. Read on…

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: 2017 Oscar Nominations — Brandy McDonnell comments

With the 2017 Oscar nominations, the Academy broke or tied multiple records. The movie musical “La La Land” earned a leading 14 nominations, putting it in a tie with “Titanic” and “All About Eve” for the most in Academy Awards history. Its nods include best picture, best director and best original screenplay for writer-director Damien Chazelle, best actress for Emma Stone and best actor for Ryan Gosling. How did they fare on gender parity and diversity? Read more on THE WEEK IN WOMEN

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SPLIT — Review by Susan Granger

M. Night Shyamalan burst onto the cinematic scene with audacious plot twists in The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable and Signs. But The Lady in the Water, The Village, The Happening, The Last Airbender, After Earth and The Visit were subsequent disappointments. Now he’s back with a vengeance, infusing a horrifying abduction story with preposterous pop psychology and a last act that links up with one of his earlier films. No spoiler here. That’s tantalizing enough. Read on…

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AWFJ Movie of the Week, Jan 27 to Feb 3: SOPHIE AND THE RISING SUN

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Director Maggie Greenwald’s film Sophie and the Rising Sun is distinctly old-fashioned, sturdy in its construction, stolid even, but with fine details of time and place that add depth and grain to the action. The film is a handsome affair about interracial romance and racial prejudice, and although it occasionally traffics in sentiment, the solidity and strength provided by the female cast keeps it focused on rational tolerance, womanly solidarity and a little old thing called love. Read On…

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SILENCE — Review by Martha K. Baker

A film that runs two hours and 41 minutes can be criticized for being too long. When that film is about torture, it invites jokes about torture to the backside. “Silence” is that film. However, despite its length, Silence is a stunning, unforgettable, even timely film about the Martyrs of Japan, whose feast day is Feb. 6. This is Martha Baker with a KDHX film review of Silence. Read on…

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THE FOUNDER — Review by Martha K. Baker

The Founder dusts the surface of business. In the fully competent hands of director John Lee Hancock, who also directed The Blind Side and Saving Mr. Banks, The Founder tells the story of Ray Kroc, the putative founder of McDonald’s. The film is entertaining but not revelatory enough. There’s little doubt an even more horrifying story lies beneath. This is Martha Baker with a KDHX film review of The Founder. Read on…

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LIVE BY NIGHT — Review by Susan Granger

As a director – with Gone Baby Gone, The Town and Argo to his credit – Ben Affleck is besotted by atmospheric authenticity, particularly in his hometown of Boston. After fighting the Huns in Francer in W.W.I, disillusioned Joe Coughlin (Affleck) returns home to Prohibition-era Boston, vowing never to take orders from anyone again. Resisting all authority, he becomes a thief and an outlaw. Read on…

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20TH CENTURY WOMEN — Review by Martha K. Baker

20th Century Women bores into behavior. The title’s all wrong, far too sweeping, and a little misleading. For one thing, how the three women referred to in the title represent a century’s worth of women is ungraspable. For another, the character played by Annette Bening so dominates the story that 20th Century Woman is a truer title. This is Martha K. Baker with a KDHX film review of 20th Century Women Read on…

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AWFJ Movie of the Week January 20-27, 2017: 2OTH CENTURY WOMEN

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Director Mike Mills has a way with women. His new film 20th Century Women, coming some six years after Beginners in 2010, has been described as a love letter to his mother. But it is also a portrait of a time and place, and a collection of people perched on the edge of enormous change.

It is 1979, the last staggering breath of the 70s era of drugs, sex, and social revolution is about to give way to the big bold 80s. This transitional moment is embodied by Jimmy Carter’s infamous Crisis of Confidence speech. But inside this larger moment in history, smaller crises are also taking place. Read on…

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