REVIEW: Waves [2019]

All we have is now. Ronald Williams (Sterling K. Brown) tells his son Tyler (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) what so many parents do: “You don’t know how lucky you are.” What are those words besides a pat on the adult’s back for providing a decent life for their child, though? To me they’re often a source of resentment on behalf of the son or daughter receiving them because they’re very much a deflection wherein the parent places blame for whatever is wrong on the kid’s shoulders. Rather than have a conversation…

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REVIEW: Honey Boy [2019]

Why am I here? The bane of childhood stardom is that nothing you do will ever be a secret again. Your success will be written in black and white in the trades. Personal relationships will be speculated upon in the tabloids. And mistakes—large or small—will trend like wildfire on the internet until they become the prevalent way by which you will be defined. Shia LaBeouf experienced every last bit of this with a keen, if imperfect, vantage point allowing him to use it to his advantage through performance art pieces…

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REVIEW: Ben is Back [2018]

“You’re all still scared of me” There’s no way to discuss the second of Ben is Back or Beautiful Boy that you watched without also mentioning the first. Maybe I’d think differently if the order had swapped, but watching the former last seems like the correct way to do things since it allowed me to have a fresh perspective on what these types of addict films generally do wrong. Everything I thought Beautiful Boy failed to grasp about the complex subject matter was fixed in Ben is Back if only…

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REVIEW: Boy Erased [2018]

“Almighty Dog” I’ll never understand religion’s ability to shield believers from its inherent contradictions. I’ve seen faith help many in my family through its power for hope, healing, and positivity. But never have they been tested as far as making the choice to reject Catholicism’s rigidity where it pertains to subjects they’re simply happy to excuse with empty parroting from afar. They try and play both sides of issues—sticking to what they believe without “finding the need to prevent someone else from thinking the opposite.” They’re allowed to do this…

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TIFF18 REVIEW: Mid90s [2018]

“I don’t kiss and tell” The summer between middle school and high school is a formative one for any kid. There’s this sense of moving away from childhood and towards young adulthood—of needing to act older to fit in considering the pecking order has restarted with you down at the bottom. Factor in a sibling who’s already gone through this transition (living to remind you of this fact with his penchant for brutal abuse you’re too naïve to realize is his own insecurity seeking an easy target to work out…

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REVIEW: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri [2017]

“It’s hard to know what to do” It’s no coincidence that the dumbest character in Martin McDonagh‘s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri says the most revealing line of dialogue throughout the entire film: “Anger begets more anger.” I guess it’s because Penelope (Samara Weaving) isn’t dumb as much as she’s naïvely innocent and young. She’s still idealistic about a world that has yet to throw any great tragedies her way. She’s still elastic enough to take being laid off from work in stride because there’s always another job out there.…

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TIFF17 REVIEW: Lady Bird [2017]

“Love and attention” After a string of critical hits hinging upon her trademarked quirk as self-absorbed twenty-somethings trying to cut a path in life, Greta Gerwig has decided to transpose that template onto a tale of teenage angst with her directorial debut Lady Bird. The first step was finding a kindred spirit in Saoirse Ronan to wear that eccentric brand of character ticks and insecurities masked by inflated self-confidence with expert precision. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn Ronan researched the role by watching Frances Ha, Mistress America, et al…

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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 #1Moonlight. #2Manchesterby the Sea #3Arrival. #4Jackie. #5The Witch. #6Hell orHigh Water #7La La Land. #8O.J.: Madein America #9The Handmaiden. #10Paterson. Best Animated Film #1Kubo and theTwo Strings #2Moana. #3Finding Dory. #4Zootopia. DIDN’T WATCHThe Red Turtle. Best Film Not in the English Language #1The Salesman #2The Handmaiden #3Neruda ABSTAINEDElle DIDN’T WATCHToni Erdmann Best Documentary #1I…

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REVIEW: Manchester by the Sea [2016]

“I can’t beat it” It’s hard to imagine a Manchester by the Sea directed by Matt Damon and starring John Krasinski, but that was the original plan. They actually brought the idea to Kenneth Lonergan—Damon acted in one of his friend’s plays on stage and also his sophomore film Margaret. Hollywood is tough, though. Schedules fill up and pieces move around. Damon loved the initial draft Lonergan drew up for them so much that he asked him to take over directing duties while he shifted to the lead (perhaps Krasinski…

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REVIEW: The Zero Theorem [2014]

“Making sense of the good things in life” If the end were empty—as was the beginning—wouldn’t life be meaning in itself? Why do we constantly ask the question and seek its answer if so many believe our present existence is merely a stepping-stone towards eternity? If that’s truly the case one could label life as a vicious joke—a test in futility God has set forth to ensure we endure the pain and suffering he promises to extinguish at the opening of his pearly gates. This is why suicide is unforgivable…

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