REVIEW: Sing Song [2017]

“I’m looking for my eyes in your eyes” For Dutch teenager Jasmine (Georgiefa Boomdijk), her homeland of Suriname (a northeastern South American country) is a footnote. She knows little about it or the mother she and her father Winston (Maurits Delchot) left behind sixteen years previously. He refuses to talk about anything pre-Netherlands so her sole connection is a photo of the woman she hasn’t yet resigned herself to believing she’ll never meet. So when a contest held across the Atlantic from where she lays her head asks for online…

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REVIEW: Liyana [2018]

“And you are going to tell her story” There’s multiple ways to tell stories depending on the message you wish to instill. So when the subject you’re tackling concerns a country like Swaziland with a rampant AIDS epidemic and the resulting insanely high orphanage rate, you can choose a path towards the stark futility of the situation or find a way to unearth the hope that remains despite it. Documentarians Aaron and Amanda Kopp decide to do the latter with Liyana, a unique hybrid wherein fact is projected through a…

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Picking Winners at the 90th Annual Academy Awards

The 90th Annual Academy Awards hits airwaves Sunday, March 4th, 2018 at 8:00pm on ABC. For those handicapping at home, here are the guesses of Buffalo film fanatics Christopher Schobert, William Altreuter, and myself. Jared Mobarak: This new look Academy is really starting to pay dividends. The fight for representation might have begun with a focus on the acting categories (there are four POC actors nominated this year out of twenty slots), but it’s expanded much further in a very short period of time. This 90th year of Oscar becomes…

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REVIEW: Mohawk [2018]

“In my experience it’s the white man who does the scalping” War is an interesting concept wherein life is both priceless and worthless depending upon which side you call yours. When it’s a matter of taking something that you want but do not possess, those who currently hold it are expendable. And when they fight back to retain it we call them enemies, savages. Here they are defending themselves from an invading force and yet they are in the wrong. It’s a fine line between justice and greed, survival and…

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REVIEW: Annihilation [2018]

“Sometimes it’s beautiful” Reflections have been the subject of many fantasies whether it’s Through the Looking-Glass or Poltergeist III. The notion that a double exists in a different world conjures an unavoidable eeriness and the possibility of usurpation wherein fiction could become truth. It’s easy to therefore see the inherent duality as a good versus evil scenario with conqueror and conquered fighting for the opportunity to exist. But what happens when you make your mirror less smooth? What if the prism through which your image has been duplicated refracts rather…

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REVIEW: Hannah [2018]

“He’s not coming” To see the titular character (Charlotte Rampling) at the start of Andrea Pallaoro‘s Hannah is to see someone like any other. She rides public transportation to her eccentric acting class, cooks dinner, and enjoys a quiet evening beside her spouse. The film’s start is ostensibly a silent one with only the noises of her journey and the sounds of her teacher permeating the calm serenity of a life lived in routine. We think nothing of it. I personal wondered where things would go. I knew Hannah’s story…

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REVIEW: November [2017]

“The two of you with your frozen souls” What is the point of having a soul if everyone around you doesn’t? I think that’s the central question asked by Rainer Sarnet‘s November, a bleakly told Estonian fairy tale tragedy adapted from Andrus Kivirähk‘s novel Rehepapp. At its core is romance—the kind based in unrequited love that will never bear fruit. Liina (Rea Lest) is a peasant girl trying to catch Hans’ (Jörgen Liik) eye while his sights are affixed well above his social stature upon the German Baron’s (Dieter Laser)…

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REVIEW: La passion de Jeanne d’Arc [The Passion of Joan of Arc] [1928]

“His ways are not our ways” The history of Carl Theodor Dreyer‘s masterwork La passion de Jeanne d’Arc [The Passion of Joan of Arc] is almost too perfectly attuned to the subject matter itself. Here was a renowned director hired to craft a movie about France’s most famous Catholic despite being neither French nor Catholic. Dreyer became a sort of pariah, helpless as the Archbishop of Paris and government officials demanded edits out of his control. His original cut then burned in a studio fire before a second created with…

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REVIEW: Black Wake [2018]

“I’m the prophet and you’re the messenger” The amount of zombie properties flooding the market these days has created an unavoidable sense of fatigue. As a result artists have begun turning certain aspects on their heads in order to differentiate one vision from any other. Sometimes this means crossing genres, manufacturing elaborate new mythologies, or playing with aesthetic. Jeremiah Kipp‘s Black Wake attempts to do all three as it utilizes a found footage format to reveal a calamity that’s more invasion than viral apocalypse. There’s still a horde of blood-hungry…

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REVIEW: Black Panther [2018]

“We had to maintain the lie” It’s easy to forget how important Creed was to getting this specific Black Panther made. From Wesley Snipes wanting to get something off the ground in the 1990s to Kevin Feige courting Ava DuVernay as director post-Selma success, things could have been very different. Hiring Ryan Coogler before his Rocky sequel took the box office by storm with almost universal critical acclaim would have made it very different too. Suddenly the man who made his name off the fantastic indie Fruitvale Station was a…

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REVIEW: Like Me [2018]

“Tell me a story” While it may do a better job at depicting the nihilistic depravity of living through social media at the detriment of “real life” than Ingrid Goes West, Robert Mockler‘s Like Me still fails to capture the psychological prison this artificial life creates beyond its surface chaos. We watch Kiya (Addison Timlin) with a voyeuristic relish much like the viewers of her YouTube page—craving insanity as though it’s all an act because it very well could be exactly that. What we watch online isn’t inherently “real.” There…

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