TIFF19 REVIEW: Blackbird [2020]

To wonderful life. It’s not everyday that an international remake retains the same screenwriter, but that’s the case with Christian Torpe and his script for the Danish film Silent Heart moving to director Roger Michell‘s hands as Blackbird. I haven’t seen the original, but the subject’s universality has me thinking very little besides cultural changes were necessary in the translation. Assisted suicide is a hot-button issue in many countries and a family’s ability to get on-board a member’s decision to go through with one is tough no matter where they…

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REVIEW: The Mountain Between Us [2017]

“What kind of cookies?” Love is a powerful force. Surviving sub-zero temperatures without any food powerful, though? Is love that strong? My instinct automatically says no, but author Charles Martin may be working to prove that my gut simply isn’t as on point as those of his would-be survivors Alex Martin (Kate Winslet) and Dr. Ben Bass (Idris Elba). He’s going to try and roll the dice in such a way that empathy and selflessness shine above blind luck for no other purpose than his story needing it to feign…

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REVIEW: Collateral Beauty [2016]

“If only we could be strangers again” There’s a moment in the trailer for Collateral Beauty where Helen Mirren‘s character of “Death” is talking to someone that we cannot quite see but definitely know isn’t Will Smith. This was an intriguing “a-ha” moment for me because the premise of Allan Loeb‘s script—which passed through Alfonso Gomez-Rejon‘s hands when Hugh Jackman was attached before landing in David Frankel‘s lap—states that only Smith’s grieving Howard Inlet can see her. She’s an abstract construct much like “Love” (Keira Knightley) and “Time” (Jacob Latimore),…

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REVIEW: Triple 9 [2016]

“Better him than me” No matter how exciting it is to see a film with the cast John Hillcoat assembled on Triple 9, the old adage “less is more” still stands. The issue with having so many “main characters” is that they all end up becoming periphery players. And if one does rise above the rest, you wonder why so much happens that doesn’t concern him/her. This is where Matt Cook‘s 2010 Blacklist script falls into trouble: Casey Affleck‘s Chris Allen is our lead and yet he’s basically a pawn…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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REVIEW: Steve Jobs [2015]

“Computers aren’t paintings” Despite being an Apple guy from way back playing with LOGO the turtle in grade school before eventually swapping out MacBook Pros every five years or so from college on, I never really cared who Steve Jobs was beyond the kindly looking genius in a black turtleneck. To me the appeal was ease of use—I embraced the closed system Aaron Sorkin’s script readily attributes to Jobs—and the design. How can you not love the packaging, look, and logo during the Jobs 2.0 era? It’s impeccable. Whether or…

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REVIEW: Insurgent [2015]

“You have to forgive yourself” I don’t know which of the three writers credited (Brian Duffield, Akiva Goldsman, and Mark Bomback) on Insurgent is responsible for the complete overhaul of Veronica Roth‘s source novel, but I applaud him. If not for the retention of its characters’ arcs, one could argue the majority of this cinematic version is a wholly original work. Ultimately, however, Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Four’s (Theo James) progression within the confines of a scorched Chicago is what gives Insurgent its identity. We as an audience and fans…

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REVIEW: Divergent [2014]

“Faction before blood” Like it or not, the twenty-first century has brought cultural alterations. For instance, the conversation about futuristic dystopias and/or social upheaval no longer includes 1984, Brave New World, or Fahrenheit 451. Our contemporary equivalents are now The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, and Divergent. They may not be at the same reading level, target the same demographic, or prove as smart and prophetic as the former trio, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t relevant or effective. All except for one thing impossible to ignore: their delivery method.…

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Posterized Propaganda December 2013: ‘The Wolf of Wall Street,’ ‘Her,’ ‘American Hustle’ & 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. Is the industry overcompensating a bit with almost every film in December having character sheets? And I’m not even talking about Fox’s Walking with Dinosaurs (open December 20)—the one that…

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