REVIEW: The Family Fang [2016]

“Let this be your trumpet call: life is sweet so taste it while you still can” No one knows Nicole Kidman‘s strength as an actor quite like Nicole Kidman. It’s no secret that the choices she’s made post-Oscar win for The Hours have been somewhat questionable, but there was at least one fantastic gem in the mix. The film was Rabbit Hole, an adaptation by David Lindsay-Abaire from his own play in which she served as producer and lead. Not only was the work great, Kidman herself has rarely been…

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REVIEW: The Jungle Book [2016]

“You did not respond to reason so now you will know fear” Looking back at Disney’s 1967 adaptation of Rudyard Kipling‘s The Jungle Book objectively may surprise you as it’s little more than a sing-a-long loosely tied into a low-stakes adventure of escape from the big bad jungle that’s ultimately portrayed as sympathetic if still dangerous. Anyone over eight will be bored by its lack of substance and tired of its silly humor—Shere Khan’s menace providing the sole bit of resonant impact beyond its frivolity. So it’s not difficult to…

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REVIEW: Eddie the Eagle [2016]

“Come on, man. Be a wing of a bird.” I was a freshman in high school when we traveled to Lake Placid as part of an Earth Science field trip. One of our main stops was the old 1980 Olympic compound, the most exciting bit of which was the ski jump towers to get a sense of the height involved. What I remember most about the tour guide’s history lesson was his mention of it being the site where Britain’s Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards practiced before his bid at the…

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BNFF14 PREVIEW: The 8th Annual Buffalo Niagara Film Festival

It’s eight years later and The Buffalo Niagara International Film Festival is still going strong April 24th through May 3rd. I personally missed organizer and filmmaker Bill Cowell‘s inaugural season, but have been attending off and on as both a ticket holder and member of the press since. My first experience was in 2008 at the Riviera Theatre in Tonawanda. I drove over mostly because that night’s feature had a cast consisting of Bruce Dern and Kristen Stewart (pre-Twilight). While director Mary Stewart Masterson‘s The Cake Eaters proved worthy of…

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Posterized Propaganda February 2013: A Snort of Fresh Air with ‘Warm Bodies’, ‘Identity Thief,’ ‘Charles Swan’ & More

“Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover” is a proverb whose simple existence proves the fact impressionable souls will do so without fail. This monthly column focuses on the film industry’s willingness to capitalize on this truth, releasing one-sheets to serve as not representations of what audiences are to expect, but as propaganda to fill seats. Oftentimes they fail miserably. February. Just outside of the dump month that is January and yet still devoid of any true must-sees besides the arty ones no one has heard of and the umpteenth…

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TIFF12 REVIEW: A Late Quartet [2012]

“You just took a quality violin from a real musician” When the cellist of a world-renowned string quartet discovers early onset Parkinson’s is taking away the dexterity needed to continue playing, the will of the entire group is shaken. Conversations about a replacement, questions about continuing, and attempts to keep their friend’s desire to play alive unsurprisingly ensue while a comic series of sexual trysts add to the fun. This is Yaron Zilberman‘s A Late Quartet—a tale of the conflicts inherent in any collaboration spanning twenty-five years mixed with silly…

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REVIEW: Balls of Fury [2007]

“I’m going to Disneyland!” With the appropriately titled book Writing Movies for Fun and Profit: How We Made a Billion Dollars at the Box Office and You Can, Too! under their belts, one could easily make the case for Balls of Fury being Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon‘s cornerstone in screenwriting profiteering. A sports redemption tale set inside the seedy underbelly of elite ping-pong, the premise is laughable as a comedy skit let alone a feature length film. But this is what Garant and Lennon—comedians and creators of “The…

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FILM MARATHON: Movie Musicals #6: Hairspray [2007]

“Good Morning Baltimore” Boy does the trailer for Hairspray really forget mentioning exactly what it’s about. Going through its beats, the advertisement talks about its young star Nikki Blonsky and her character Tracy Turnblad’s dreams of overcoming her weight and society’s bigotry to seize her dreams, dance on TV, and get her man. The jokes, the campiness, and the transvestites are present—and what work based on a John Waters film wouldn’t—but everything is displayed out of context. Soundbytes and visuals are shown without explanation and believed to just be a…

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REVIEW: The Deer Hunter [1978]

“One shot” Michael Cimino’s masterpiece The Deer Hunter is one of the greatest films ever made. Concerning a group of steel worker friends in Pennsylvania, the movie shows us the comradery and good natured fun they enjoy together leading up to their departure for Vietnam. We open on the day of Stevie’s (John Savage) wedding, a joyous time before the hell that will soon swallow them whole. A very traditional Russian ceremony leads into a raucous reception at a friend’s bar (George Dzundza), where at its conclusion Robert De Niro’s…

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