REVIEW: Wildlife [2018]

I feel like I need to wake up. The start of Paul Dano‘s directorial debut Wildlife depicts a happy household of mother (Carey Mulligan‘s Jeanette Brinson), father (Jake Gyllenhaal‘s Jerry), and son (Ed Oxenbould‘s Joe). They’ve just moved from Utah to Montana so Jerry can work as a country club’s resident “pro”—a job allowing Jeanette to stay home rather than look for substitute teaching assignments while Joe attends high school. Their property is very modest, their neighborhood much the same. Joy can be felt within their walls as a simple…

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REVIEW: Okja [2017]

“Very healthy!” I’m far from a vegetarian or a pet/animal lover, but I get the reasons why people would be both. And no matter how much I enjoy eating red meat, even I would have to draw the line when confronted with a “Meet your meat” type scenario. What purpose is drawn from such a stunt? Do you know what’s a good pig/cow/chicken from a bad one? Do you even get to choose or are you merely gazing upon the one selected for you? It’s one thing to eat another…

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REVIEW: Swiss Army Man [2016]

“I don’t want to die alone” You can never be sure about a marketing campaign using a phrase like, “You’ve heard it a million times, but this time it’s true. You’ve never seen a movie like Swiss Army Man.” What type of ploy are they engaging in? We all know it’s been affectionately called (and derided as) the “farting corpse movie,” but that isn’t a mind-blowing detail to render us awestruck. That pitch causes us to wonder what the Daniels (Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert) actually did with their debut…

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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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REVIEW: Youth [2015]

“Levity is an irresistible temptation” What strange beauty writer/director Paolo Sorrentino finds within the sadness of his palatial Swiss Alps resort’s inhabitants in Youth. The story plays like a surrealistic existential revelation—the aftermaths of each character’s crisis as they discover exactly who they are in the midst of tragic knowing. Age transforms bodies and minds into a monotonous amalgam of flesh and fatigue, years worn as wrinkles and memory gaps while ego remains untouched except by the grace of but a single reveler who truly gets who we are when…

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REVIEW: Love & Mercy [2015]

“Lonely scared frightened” The best part of a Rock and Roll Music History class that I took in college was learning just how influential The Beach Boys were to music at large. I knew the songs and enjoyed them, but how could surfer pop be held in the same regard as The Beatles? It didn’t make sense. But then we dove into the intricacies of the music’s construction and Brian Wilson‘s insane ideas in the studio. We listened to Rubber Soul, Pet Sounds, and beyond to catch where one band…

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REVIEW: 12 Years a Slave [2013]

“Stay safely” A label such as hero has lost its meaning of late. So ubiquitous today, it’s been rendered empty by being placed upon men and women who—while just, compassionate, and selfless—don’t quite reach the level of endured suffering for the word to earn its full weight. With America’s history possessing so much cowardice and hate, even some of its greatest legends can’t shake the damning facts which prove they’re less than the pristine pillars our books would like to tell. Yet in our darkest time—an era of unforgivable crimes…

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REVIEW: Prisoners [2013]

“Pretty soon all that stands between you and being dead is you” The question is simple: How far would you go to save your child? The dynamics, however, are more complex when the man reconciling his soul to those ends is one who’s held God’s love as a beckon of security close to his heart. Denis Villeneuve’s Prisoners opens with Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman) saying an “Our Father” as his son Ralph (Dylan Minnette) readies to kill his first deer. The words have a calming effect, one that’s helped this…

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REVIEW: The Girl Next Door [2004]

“I’ll always remember … “ A film not necessarily loved upon release—many actually reviled it for “glamorizing” the life of a porn star—Luke Greenfield‘s The Girl Next Door was and still is a hilarious coming of age story for a post-American Pie world. It’s about finding yourself on the cusp of high school graduation without a memory worth telling as hitting the books and being a consummate student leaves you wanting. Matthew Kidman (Emile Hirsch) did everything he was supposed to on his quest to Georgetown and only found a…

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REVIEW: Ruby Sparks [2012]

“I will never write about her again” The debut screenplay from actress Zoe Kazan includes moments ringing absolutely true and others completely false. I can’t stop thinking about Harry Weir-Fields (Chris Messina) giving his brother Calvin (Paul Dano)—the film’s lead—notes on his new, very rough manuscript. Asking without a shred of patronization who the target reader is, he doesn’t believe the women inclined to read romances will care about a quirky, damaged girl with little going for her besides being the object of a man’s affections. It’s obvious to Harry…

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