Picking Winners at the 89th Annual Academy Awards

The 89th Annual Academy Awards hits airwaves Sunday, February 26th, 2017 at 8:30pm on ABC. Buffalonians can watch it from the comfort of their home or take a trip down to these local destinations: • The Screening Room, The Boulevard MallFree (doors open at 7:00pm)• Buffalo State College, Campbell Student UnionFree with Student ID, $10 general public (doors open at 8:00pm)• Q, 44 Allen StreetFree (Red Carpet party begins at 6:00pm) For those handicapping at home, here are the guesses of Buffalo film fanatics Christopher Schobert, William Altreuter, and myself.…

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Online Film Critics Society Ballot 2016

Below is my December 31st ballot for the 20th annual Online Film Critics Society Awards honoring movies released domestically in the United States during the 2016 calendar year. Group winners are highlighted in red. Best Picture #1 Moonlight . #2 Manchester by the Sea #3 Arrival . #4 Jackie . #5 The Witch . #6 Hell or High Water #7 La La Land . #8 O.J.: Made in America #9 The Handmaiden . #10 Paterson . Best Animated Film #1 Kubo and the Two Strings #2 Moana . #3 Finding…

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REVIEW: Elle [2016]

“It was necessary” Director Paul Verhoeven has made a career of pushing the envelope whether through violence, sex, politics, or all three wrapped together. It’s hardly surprising then that his buzzword of choice on the promotional trail for his latest Elle has been “controversial.” The word choice is appropriate considering David Birke‘s script (adapted from Philippe Djian‘s novel Oh…) plays with taboos in ways that subvert public consciousness, but there’s an even more appropriate adjective: dangerous. Controversy is needed to shake us out of our doldrums, but it can also…

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REVIEW: L’avenir [Things to Come] [2016]

“Can we put ourselves in the place of the other” No one is making movies with as much depth of character as Mia Hansen-Løve—so much depth that you may wonder where the plot is considering everything is hinging on a single trajectory. But that’s how our lives progress. How we experience our own evolution stems from our actions and our interpretations of others’ actions. She focuses on her lead so acutely that we begin to know them as though a long lost friend. We feel for their struggle and hope…

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TIFF16 REVIEW: Souvenir [2016]

“Like ABBA but not so famous” It starts with bubbles. So many bubbles rising slowly in liquid as the opening credits in script font flash onscreen. And when the camera finally pans out to see what it’s been that’s mesmerized us so? A glass of water with an Alka-Seltzer dropped in, of course. This is the humor director Bavo Defurne and his co-writers Jacques Boon and Yves Verbraeken infuse throughout their outside-the-box romance Souvenir. As it is the woman about to drink this concoction is hardly special: she lives alone,…

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REVIEW: Louder Than Bombs [2015]

“After this I’ll slow down. I promise.” Few depict love’s pain onscreen better than Norwegian writer/director Joachim Trier and co-writer Eskil Vogt. They’ve cultivated a distinct voice for character-driven dramas of friendship and romance that build and dissolve with an authentic rhythm of life’s unpredictability. Their characters ache inside and out as they deal with the struggle of human connection and their English-language debut Louder Than Bombs is no different. In it are three men traversing a world removed from the life they led with a matriarch no longer by…

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REVIEW: The Hundred-Foot Journey [2014]

“You cook to make ghosts” With Chocolat and Salmon Fishing in the Yemen under his belt, The Hundred-Foot Journey isn’t anything approaching new territory for director Lasse Hallström. But if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, right? Honestly, if he can continue making feel good tales like this—bona fide crowd-pleasers—we should all be happy since it keeps him busy and away from the allure of helming a hat trick of Nicholas Sparks adaptations. There may be no surprises in this cinematic version of a novel Oprah Winfrey selected as part…

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TIFF13 REVIEW: Abus de faiblesse [Abuse of Weakness] [2014]

“Nothing will ever be the same” The draw of Catherine Breillat‘s autobiographical film Abus de faiblesse [Abuse of Weakness] is ultimately to watch how someone so desperately in need can be preyed upon no matter intelligence, wealth, or stature. When tragedy strikes unannounced by means of a debilitating stroke, the fear of death and paralysis eventually makes its way to newfound tenacity and strength. But what no one who isn’t absolutely indebted to the help of others for even menial tasks like opening a door can know is that the…

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REVIEW: Amour [2012]

“Promise me one thing.” For someone as famously attuned to the intellectual thriller oftentimes leaning towards the hidden recesses of humanity’s darkest proclivities, seeing writer/director Michael Haneke‘s name attached to the universally lauded Amour was always a bit of a puzzle. Depicting the final months in the lives of two eighty-year old former music teachers—Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and Anne (Emmanuelle Riva)—after the lady of the house suffers a debilitating stroke, the film’s rather heartbreaking portrayal of sacrifice and unwavering adoration is without a doubt an aberration in the auteur’s oeuvre.…

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REVIEW: White Material [2010]

“Because of people like you, this country is filthy” There is definitely something about director Claire Denis, something great. I can’t say I’m a professional, having only experienced my first Denis work last year with 35 Rhums, but after seeing White Material, there is no doubt she’s a force. The pacing, the sumptuous and mesmerizing score, the lingering camera on expressive faces, the frame bobbing up and down with a sense of being in the action—and yet the action itself is subtle, deliberate. There are definite stylistic comparisons and I’d…

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REVIEW: I Heart Huckabees [2004]

“How am I not myself?” My favorite film of 2004, I Heart Huckabees, is one that cannot be easily classified. From the heady philosophy, to the comic genius, to the absurd surrealism, director David O. Russell has gone astray from the mainstream and crafted something that must be autobiographical as well as a passion project. Sure, as of late, there is all the talk about Lily Tomlin and he butting heads (the internet videos are fantastic, but my favorite is Paul Rudd and Michael Showalter doing their own version) and…

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