REVIEW: Fantastic Fungi [2019]

We brought life to Earth. Scientific study has recently shown that trees “talk” to each other. Suzanne Simard explains the process during the course of Louie Schwartzberg‘s documentary Fantastic Fungi as being the result of communication via mushroom. Much like the neural pathways in our brains, fungi in the ground (mycelium) create a network upon which carbon can travel. Trees can therefore stay connected with their “offspring.” They can protect them. And they can warn other plants in the forest of danger. It should therefore come as no surprise that…

Read More

TIFF19 REVIEW: Just Mercy [2019]

Trees swaying in the breeze. The story of Walter McMillian’s incarceration and subsequent time on death row is a powerful one with themes spanning police corruption, Southern racism, and justice itself as a means of finding truth rather than convenience. This is an innocent man with a concrete alibi sentenced to death because of coerced testimony and everyone intimately involved with the case knows. Since the victim was a white teenager and McMillian (Johnny D.) a black man caught having an affair with a white woman in the past, none…

Read More

REVIEW: Avengers: Endgame [2019]

I love you three thousand. The best thing Marvel ever did was split their Avengers 1.0 saga’s final chapter in two since it allowed Infinity War to deliver what no other entry could: stakes. Despite knowing they were always false due to the giant gauntlet in the room that literally bends time and space to its whims, they hurt nonetheless simply because we were forced to sit with those results for a full year before discovering how things might be put right. Had Anthony and Joe Russo conversely fixed everything…

Read More

REVIEW: Captain Marvel [2019]

I’m not what you think I am. With the snap of his fingers, Thanos made half of Earth’s population disappear. It was the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s most harrowing climactic cliffhanger and it did possess an emotional response despite knowing most if not all of our beloved characters would find their way back before the war was officially over. With so many broken heroes, however, who could lead the necessary response? Tony Stark? Steve Rogers? No. When Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) saw what was happening, neither of them was on…

Read More

REVIEW: The Glass Castle [2017]

“You learn from living. Everything else is a damn lie.” It’s easy to dismiss films like Destin Daniel Cretton‘s The Glass Castle for losing their bite upon reaching a conclusion nobody can deny is melodramatically sentimental. You’ve watched Jeannette Walls’ (Brie Larson) decades-long journey of psychological pain and suffering wrought during her upbringing and ever-present in adulthood. You’ve seen trying times in poverty crosscut with present success, emboldened by her strength to stand tall and be the woman she wants to be no matter what the voices of her past…

Read More

REVIEW: Kong: Skull Island [2017]

“Eating’s for the living” It’s amazing how a film’s success can create a tidal wave, but that’s exactly what Gareth Edwards‘ Godzilla did in 2014. We’re talking critical acclaim, half a billion dollars at the box office, and a rejuvenated plea for monster flicks. Well the first two are fact, the third merely hope on behalf of Legendary Pictures. Because their investment isn’t just sequels, it’s about a “MonsterVerse” so important to them that they got Universal Pictures to give Kong: Skull Island‘s rights to Warner Bros. so a single…

Read More

TIFF16 REVIEW: Free Fire [2017]

“Talk about a fucking sledgehammer to crack a nut” TIFF’s Colin Geddes was correct when introducing Ben Wheatley‘s bottle episode of a film Free Fire with the words: “This will wake you up.” The gunfire alone risks perforating your eardrums as John Denver blares from a 1978-era van’s eight-track, but I think it’s the surprising wealth of comedy that ultimately gets the blood pumping and synapses triggering. Wheatley and wife/writer Amy Jump‘s latest isn’t for everyone—fair warning to Hardcore Henry detractors, Sharlto Copley refuses to quit—but those willing to break…

Read More

Top Ten Films of 2015: Where emotions run high

I have no problem saying 2015 was a great year for cinema. Putting together a Top Ten was difficult at every turn—both because each time I had to do so meant I had seen more films and as a result of my preferences constantly changing. There are more than a few from 11-20 that easily could be Top Ten candidates on a different day. Sadly for them that day isn’t today. Happily for us: the art’s level of quality was good enough to cause such problems. Rules: eligible feature-length films…

Read More

Picking Winners at the 88th Annual Academy Awards

For those handicapping at home, here are the guesses of Buffalo film fanatics Christopher Schobert, William Altreuter, and myself. Jared Mobarak: Here’s hoping Chris Rock does his best Ricky Gervais as far as not caring about political correctness or duty to kissing up to the celebrities all dressed-up nice because having him host the 2016 Oscars ceremony amidst the whole #OscarsSoWhite controversy is an opportunity not to be squandered. Two years in a row with no black actor/actress up for gold? That’s a major problem with The Academy and the…

Read More

Online Film Critics Society Ballot 2015

Below is my December 12th ballot for the 19th annual Online Film Critics Society Awards honoring movies released domestically in the United States during the 2015 calendar year. Group winners are highlighted in red. Best Picture #1 Inside Out . #2 Carol . #3 Spotlight . #4 Ex Machina . #5 Mad Max Fury Road #6 Brooklyn #7 The Revenant #8 Room #9 The Martian #10 Sicario Best Animated Film #1 Inside Out . #2 Shaun the Sheep Movie #3 Anomalisa . #4 The Peanuts Movie #5 The Good Dinosaur…

Read More

REVIEW: Room [2015]

“There’s Room then outer space with the TV planets then Heaven.” ***POTENTIAL SPOILERS*** I’m not sure a more intensely emotional film than Lenny Abrahamson‘s Room has been released in the past decade let alone this year. Nothing hits home deeper than the bond of a mother and child, but the situation novelist/screenwriter Emma Donoghue constructs for Joy Newsome (Brie Larson) and Jack (Jacob Tremblay) increase it exponentially. Inspired to write her book after hearing about the Fritzl case in Austria where a man held his daughter captive for twenty-four years…

Read More