REVIEW: Pan [2015]

“Is this Canada?” For whatever reason the American public has been fascinated with “origin” stories attempting to give meaning to some of the most iconic adversarial relationships in literary and film history. It’s not enough for the Wicked Witch of the West to hate Glinda or Superman and Lex Luthor to be arch-nemeses—we need to see how those relationships devolved from friendship. Sometimes people just hate each other, though, and there doesn’t need to be an Oz the Great and Powerful or “Smallville” to explain how once-friends turn ugly. Ostensibly…

Read More

REVIEW: The Book of Life [2014]

“Always play from the heart” I’ve held fascination for Día de Muertos ever since seventh grade Spanish class. There’s just something about its love for the dead and ability to turn something scary to so many into this beautiful cultural tradition that makes its juxtaposition of old bones and ornate artistry a uniquely special aesthetic. To say I was intrigued in Jorge R. Gutierrez‘s The Book of Life would therefore be an understatement. The colors, detail, subject matter, and music he infused seemed a perfect coalescence of style and substance…

Read More

Summer Fun Film Festivals in WNY

With the dwindling numbers of drive-in theaters across the country, independent theaters finding it difficult to compete with huge chains, and the ever-fluctuating national box office needing too many 3D films to turn a profit, certain cities somehow find a way to keep the medium alive. Buffalo is one of them and always has been since I can remember. My days as a high schooler trying to figure out plans with friends for the weekend always ended up being decided between catch the latest blockbuster or hit up the local…

Read More

REVIEW: The Great Gatsby [2013]

“Once again I was within and without” Visionary filmmaker Baz Luhrmann returns with a big screen adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s magnum opus The Great Gatsby, filmed in the ostentatious aesthetic that made his jukebox musical Moulin Rouge! such a divisively stunning work. Love him or hate him, no one can deny the man has style or the ego necessary to transform iconic literature and historical eras into contemporary art-infused visual epics that overwhelm our senses. No one does excess better—over-cranked and pulsing to music intentionally subverting the subject matter…

Read More

Picking Winners at the 85th Annual Academy Awards

Supporting Actress:Amy Adams: The MasterSally Field: LincolnAnne Hathaway: Les MisérablesHelen Hunt: The SessionsJacki Weaver: Silver Linings Playbook William Altreuter: It often seems to me that the Best Supporting categories are where the most interesting things are to be found in the Academy Award nominations, and this year is proving me right. What we often get—especially with Best Actress in a Supporting Role—are performances that really carry the movie, even though we tend not to notice. We also get actresses showing us what they can do against type, and that display of craft and professionalism is frequently rewarded. The…

Read More

REVIEW: Rock of Ages [2012]

“Actually, I told him the gig was last night. So he’s a day late.” Listening to Night Ranger‘s “Sister Christian” sung by a bus full of strangers a la Almost Famous was a pretty good way to start Rock of Ages, the big screen adaptation of the Tony Award nominated musical. Julianne Hough‘s ‘Sherrie’ Christian’s blandly starry-eyed wonder was acceptable; Hollywood circa 1987 took shape via hookers, muggers, and over-zealous cops; and the hyper-real Broadway sensibilities came out as extras broke into song and dance while a sweaty, sex-infused rock…

Read More

FILM MARATHON #3: Movie Musicals (Broadway & Original)

The reason I started doing my marathon series was to finally start seeing films I’ve neglected and needed to see. Doing the filmography of Terrence Malick couldn’t have turned out better with some of the greatest works of cinema I’ve ever seen. Days of Heaven easily vaulted itself into my top 10 of all-time and The Thin Red Line wasn’t too far behind. Checking out Julia Roberts films might have made me realize I’ve been wrongly ignoring her abilities as an actor, but Malick has given me a new auteur…

Read More

Top 50 Films of the Decade (2000–2009)

As always, I have not seen every film made in the decade, so this list is only complete as of posting. There are those diamonds in the rough I’ve yet to witness that could render this entire list obsolete. The ‘Naughts’, I believe an appropriate term being used for the decade spanning from 2000–2009, the years we feared wouldn’t come thanks to Y2K, brought with them some amazing films. Technological advancements aside, this time period contained a number of singular auteurs both continuing on already stellar careers and others beginning…

Read More

REVIEW: Australia [2008]

“Make the land sing” It’s been seven years since Baz Luhrmann’s astonishing Moulin Rouge! Years that included the dissolution of his planned Alexander the Great film, after Oliver Stone beat him to the punch, and casting changes that plagued the long preproduction of Australia, his new sprawling epic in the country’s frontier during WWII. Known for his visual imagery and artistic bent, the trailers and poster materials for his fourth film seemed a bit uninspired. Much like Peter Jackson with King Kong, it appeared that Luhrmann decided to build his…

Read More

TIFF07 REVIEW: Across the Universe [2007]

“Either learn French or die” Julie Taymor’s film Across the Universe has been high up on my most anticipated list for a year now. Taking classic and lesser-known Beatles’ tunes, she has crafted a contemporary musical about a group of young adults at the turning point of life during the start of the Vietnam War. While highly ambitious and oftentimes gorgeous to behold, the film ultimately ends up being a failed attempt at genius. Visually stunning, almost every sequence assaults your eyes with beauty and unique splendor. Unfortunately, Taymor may…

Read More

REVIEW: Once [2007]

“Just play” Wow. That’s it, one word review…Wow. This is the movie of the year for me right now, and quite possibly will stay that way until next January. With what has to be the simplest story I’ve seen onscreen in a long time, it gets everything right. Once is a perfect little gem, both concise and powerful in a small but infinitely memorable package. Literally, a guy and a girl meet on a street corner in Dublin while he plays guitar for loose change. This chance encounter sets into…

Read More