REVIEW: Gemini Man [2019]

I just want some peace. It took twenty years, multiple rewrites, and a who’s who list of directors and stars, but Gemini Man finally made it to the big screen. And original scribe Darren Lemke kept his story and screenplay credits through everything. That says something considering these development hell miracles too often become abominations so far removed from their auspicious beginnings that there’s no sign of what got studios excited in the first place. David Benioff and Billy Ray earned their place beside him with Ang Lee putting his…

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REVIEW: Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk [2016]

“What else is there?” Here’s an Oscar-winning director doing something no one else has—shoot an entire film at 120 frames per second (standard is 24, the previous high 48 with The Hobbit)—and movie theaters couldn’t accommodate. At a time when it’s difficult to get butts in seats with Netflix and VOD, an opportunity for a legitimate must-see theatrical event is squandered. Venues dropped the ball. Buffalo, NY isn’t the biggest of cities, but you’d think sustaining six-plus movie houses earns a chance to see Ang Lee‘s vision as intended. Sorry,…

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REVIEW: 俠女 [Xia nü] [A Touch of Zen] [1971]

“One should rather believe in ghosts than not” It’s enlightening to read writer/director King Hu‘s press notes that accompanied the Cannes premiere of his then newly-cut 俠女 [Xia nü] [A Touch of Zen]. 1975 was four years removed from the film’s original release—as two parts, a format his producers demanded to try recouping some of its ballooning budget—and six years after he began constructing the elaborate sets utilized during a long, piecemeal shooting schedule to combat changing seasons from ruining continuity. He finally received the ability to restore his three-hour…

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The 85th Oscars recap through tweets …

@jaredmobarak • and the #Oscars begin … #[email protected] • SUCCESS!! Tommy Lee Jones smiles! #[email protected] • poor Don Cheadle #Oscars13 Welcome to the 85th annual Academy Awards from the newly renamed Dolby Theatre. Bankruptcy is a drag, ain’t it Kodak? Hopes were high after host Seth MacFarlane‘s surprisingly hilarious Ted made me wonder if the dude wasn’t the real deal after all. A poor man’s Ricky Gervais, the Academy was probably wise in going for the watered-down Americanized version of unbridled snark because one would think the “Family Guy” creator…

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Picking Winners at the 85th Annual Academy Awards

Supporting Actress:Amy Adams: The MasterSally Field: LincolnAnne Hathaway: Les MisérablesHelen Hunt: The SessionsJacki Weaver: Silver Linings Playbook William Altreuter: It often seems to me that the Best Supporting categories are where the most interesting things are to be found in the Academy Award nominations, and this year is proving me right. What we often get—especially with Best Actress in a Supporting Role—are performances that really carry the movie, even though we tend not to notice. We also get actresses showing us what they can do against type, and that display of craft and professionalism is frequently rewarded. The…

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REVIEW: Life of Pi [2012]

“Nice try, ‘Pissing’” **Contains spoilers** I’d love to say Ang Lee‘s Life of Pi is a masterpiece showing me the existence of God like how its titular character’s uncle explains it might to a writer seeking the subject for his new book, but I can’t. The reason, however, says more about myself than the film. Yann Martel‘s novel has been gorgeously brought to life by one of the greatest directors working today and its visual splendor cannot be ignored. Unfortunately, what makes or breaks its success isn’t its beauty, performances,…

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REVIEW: The Avengers [2012]

“In the end you’ll always kneel” It’s hard to believe the new Marvel cinematic canon began just four years ago—if anything just for the simple fact these actors have been contractually obligated to continuously work in the world for its duration. The new The Incredible Hulk released with much less poetic atmosphere and more action-based aesthetic akin to the universe the studio now wished to portray than Ang Lee‘s foray from 2003 and a comic tone was cemented in arguably the series’ best entry, Iron Man. Subsequently followed by Thor,…

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INTERVIEW: Debra Granik, writer/director of Winter’s Bone

While attending the 360|365 George Eastman House Film Festival in Rochester, I was struck by the selection of festival winners screening for its Upstate New York audience. With so many award-winners, I went in blindly to whatever fit into my schedule, experiencing work I wouldn’t have a chance to see in theatres for months, if at all, here in Buffalo. After three straight days of movies, Winter’s Bone, the winner of the 2010 Sundance Grand Jury Prize for Drama, ended up being the final film of my tenure there. I…

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REVIEW: The Hire [2001-2002]

“BMW recommends that you always wear your seatbelt” After watching the Parallel Lines series, my desire to revisit BMW’s The Hire was too much to contain. This thing was a cultural phenomenon, doing what no one had ever done, with a medium still untested at the time. Back in 2001, households across America were still learning about the internet; installing their dial-up connections to surf for mostly news articles and sites without too many images for quick access. Looking to tap into a market that could target its demographic of…

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REVIEW: Taking Woodstock [2009]

“Like ants making thunder” Truthfully, I believe that the thing so many detractors point to concerning Taking Woodstock is my favorite part of the whole endeavor. I thought that the trailers did a very good job of explaining that Ang Lee was telling a story about the behind the scenes construction of the festival, using Elliot Tiber’s story of saving his parents motel and putting their sleepy little town on the map. If you want to see the concert and the music and the artists, rent Woodstock the documentary. Even…

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Top 50 Films of the Decade (2000–2009)

As always, I have not seen every film made in the decade, so this list is only complete as of posting. There are those diamonds in the rough I’ve yet to witness that could render this entire list obsolete. The ‘Naughts’, I believe an appropriate term being used for the decade spanning from 2000–2009, the years we feared wouldn’t come thanks to Y2K, brought with them some amazing films. Technological advancements aside, this time period contained a number of singular auteurs both continuing on already stellar careers and others beginning…

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