REVIEW: A Million Little Pieces [2019]

Get it right the first time, James. During the ensuing fallout once James Frey‘s memoir A Million Little Pieces was exposed as a fabrication well beyond his statement admitting to having altered “small details” of his past, it was discovered that the author had tried getting it published as fiction to no avail. Random House, the place that ultimately printed it and watched its ascent to the number one bestseller slot thanks to a coveted spot on Oprah Winfrey’s Book Club list, was supposedly one of the establishments that rejected…

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REVIEW: Hellion [2014]

“I will take responsibility for my actions and the consequences of those actions” The first real stunner of 2014 not from A24 has arrived with Kat Candler‘s heart-wrenching drama Hellion. Much like last year’s Short Term 12, this is a feature length film expanded from an already produced short that depicts troubled kids and the equally troubled adults tasked with providing stability in an unstable world. Anchored by an amazing cast who give their all to conjure emotionally-draining performances you won’t soon forget, each character is set onto a path…

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REVIEW: August: Osage County [2013]

“I’ll be sickly sweet” I’m drawn to dysfunction—especially when it’s of the familial persuasion. It’s probably because I didn’t really get exposed to much as a kid growing up with a family most would give anything to have. When you see the looks others who know dysfunction’s definition like the back of their hands telling you that what you believed was an example from your past is laughably quaint to say the least, experiencing a bit of that fiery vitriol at the movies can be invigorating. And when you have…

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REVIEW: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation [1989]

“Look around you, Ellen. We’re at the threshold of hell.” While I enjoy A Christmas Story‘s 1940s holiday aesthetic like the rest—when it’s not on 24-hour TBS repeat—I prefer my dysfunctional yuletide spirit to hit a little closer to home. This is where Christmas Vacation comes in, National Lampoon’s 1989 classic continuation of the Griswold clan’s shenanigans that takes place the same decade as the one when I was still young enough to awaken every December 25th extra early to see what Santa brought. While the details aren’t exactly the…

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REVIEW: Sympathy for Delicious [2011]

“God is trying to say hello to you” The Lord works in mysterious ways. Talk with any priest and he’ll most likely fit those sentiments in at some point. But what do those words mean? Are they mere shoulder rubbing for the devastated trying to reconcile what has happened to them? Are they empty words of men with nothing to say? The fact of the matter is, they are just words spoken whose meaning and worth lie with their receiver. We can disregard them as our initial desire demands in…

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REVIEW: Due Date [2010]

“What are you, a girl or something?” In a coincidental stroke of fate, following my own cross country trip from Buffalo to Denver amidst a constant barrage of quotes from Planes, Trains & Automobiles on behalf of my co-pilot cousin, I arrived back home on the east coast in time for a screening of Todd Phillips’s follow-up to The Hangover, Due Date. Trying its best to recreate the magic of Steve Martin and John Candy’s memorable Thanksgiving jaunt, this new film pits a father-to-be against the clock and the mileage…

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TIFF10: Day Two Recap

Day Two at TIFF may have started with two junket screenings, meaning there was no chance of seeing any filmmakers/actors, but it also began with what could be my number one film of the year—Never Let Me Go. Amidst the small contingent of press glomming down free danishes and coffee courtesy of Fox Searchlight was a work of art that will devastate even the most cynical of souls. It’s tough to go into detail of the plot, though, without ruining the nuance of the parallel universe world, one where disease…

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TIFF10 REVIEW: Conviction [2010]

“She’s the other old lady in my class” After steady television work and three forgettable romantic features, actor-turned-director Tony Goldwyn has taken a giant leap forward in his progression as the man behind the scenes. Delving into the true-life story of Betty Anne Waters, via a script by Pamela Gray—who also wrote his debut—Conviction premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival with some Oscar buzz behind it. With a plotline concerning a woman’s drive to free her brother—in jail on a life sentence for murder—by going to college and eventually…

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REVIEW: Whip It [2009]

“Cause shoes are a gateway drug” Bravo Drew Barrymore, who thought you had it in you? I am a self-proclaimed hater of this former child actress turned mediocre adult actress/producer. I did love Donnie Darko, though, and she did play a part in getting it made, but her role was atrocious. So, one may infer where my head was upon sitting down at the screening for Whip It—complete with Buffalo’s own roller derby girls in attendance—to see if she could pull an Affleck, (which isn’t fair since I think he’s…

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REVIEW: From Dusk Till Dawn [1996]

“I’m Sex Machine, pleased to meet ya” This year’s Grindhouse was not the first of such collaborations between Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino. One could argue that their production of From Dusk Till Dawn laid the seeds for that schlock-fest extravaganza. I remember while watching Planet Terror thinking how overboard Rodriguez was going, and loving every minute of it. Revisiting this film, however, showed how he didn’t stray too far from where he had already been. Sure Tarantino’s dialogue is at the forefront for much of the film’s duration, but…

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