REVIEW: Dumbo [2019]

Let’s get ready for Duuuumboooo! We’re a long way away from 1941 and the days of pure frivolity in your animated films are over. That’s why Disney evolved their glorified sing-along The Jungle Book into a weighty dramatic adventure and why their sweet little flying elephant Dumbo can no longer sustain himself as a metaphorical hero teaching kids lessons about believing in themselves. There needs to be raised stakes and a bona fide antagonistic force to combat to hold our attention now. So screenwriter Ehren Kruger repurposes the original film’s…

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REVIEW: Spider-Man: Homecoming [2017]

“Guy in the chair” Here’s an unpopular opinion for you: I enjoyed The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Yes, the one with a blue Jamie Foxx. The only reason I bring it up is to say even I was dreading the proposed villain team-up spin-off and inevitable trilogy capper seemingly arriving at a place wherein Peter Parker’s parents would reveal themselves as being crucial to whatever really happened with that fateful radioactive arachnid. But that doesn’t mean I wanted another reboot. It was bad enough Sony already scrapped one failed attempt at…

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REVIEW: Cars 3 [2017]

“I call you my senior project” I know I’m in the critical minority when admitting my enjoyment of the Cars franchise, but I honestly do. It’s not even that I am a “car guy” either—I’ve never seen the appeal of them beyond their utility as a transportation vehicle. So my enjoyment of the first film was solely on the level of its message and humor. It dealt with the theme of ego and humility as Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) discovered you simply cannot get through life on an island alone.…

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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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REVIEW: Spotlight [2015]

“What arraignment?” If Thomas McCarthy’s maligned fairy tale The Cobbler provided any help in securing money to put his script Spotlight in front of cameras, it was worth every disparaging word thrown its way. Co-written with Josh Singer, this 2013 Blacklist alum proves an informative and accurate look at the investigative journalism process as well as an engrossing exposé that refuses to let go despite our knowing the story it exposed. Much like famed predecessor All the President’s Men, audiences arrive keenly aware of the Catholic Church scandal at its…

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INTERVIEW: Sebastian Schipper, director/cowriter of Victoria

The word on the street about Victoria is that it’s a must-see for one reason: its entire two-plus hour runtime was captured in a single, pulse-pounding continuous take. While that aspect is definitely paramount, don’t think the film has nothing else to offer. This thing gets your blood pumping as much from the authentic performances of regular people in over their heads as it does the technical artistry. And the man leading the way to orchestrate both these halves is Sebastian Schipper. We talked with the co-writer/director about his trust…

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Top Ten Films of 2014: A deluge of sci-fi doppelgängers and one-word titles

I don’t want to label 2014 as a good, bad, or average year. I want to call it inventive, original, and delightfully dark. Whether it’s doppelgänger paradoxes leading to murderous rage, the bleak carnage of war, prison violence, or psychologically debilitating struggles to be great, my favorite films had an edge that cut to the bone by credits’ end. The best thing I can say about 2014 is that my top ten (heck, maybe my top twenty-five) could be re-organized and re-listed without making me too angry about what is…

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Picking Winners at the 87th Annual Academy Awards

Things look pretty cut and dry where the Academy is concerned in 2015. The Oscars are always a somewhat watered-down look at what really mattered in the past year of cinema and this installment is no exception. In fact, it may be all water at this point. That doesn’t mean there can’t be some intriguing surprises in the second-tier categories like Best Animated Feature (I really hope How to Train Your Dragon 2 loses to one of the other much more aesthetically and conceptually unique nominees) or Short Film Animated…

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REVIEW: Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) [2014]

“The truth is always interesting” It’s true what the film’s Times‘ theater critic (Lindsay Duncan) says: an artist should bleed for his craft. Physically, spiritually, metaphorically—blood must be spilt so the world knows he was here, selflessly (selfishly?) making us laugh, cry, and reflect on lives well lived and squandered. This is why those who touch upon life’s intrinsic emotions and universal feelings can demand salaries and compensation so large not even their over-stretched, ambitious, and insane imaginations can think of how to spend it all. They create what we…

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Posterized Propaganda October 2014: ‘Gone Girl,’ ‘Nightcrawler,’ ‘Whiplash,’ and 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. Say goodbye to summer. Tent pole season is over and the critical darlings have begun to pop up on the Fandango queue. October is still a weird month, however, since…

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REVIEW: Hawaiian Vacation [2011]

“I just zip and unzip. I don’t fly.” Upon seeing Buzz and Woody onscreen for the Pixar short playing before Cars 2, my first feeling was disappointment. These abbreviated tales are sometimes the highlight of going to a family friendly animated film, generally heartfelt and funny in a minimal span of time to get audiences in the mood for the feature following. Instead of some new carefully constructed character—Presto and Geri’s Game—or a well-conceived, dialogue-free vignette—Lifted and the brilliant Day & Night—all we were to be given was Toy Story…

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