REVIEW: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker [2019]

Some things are stronger than blood. The return of Star Wars was always going to include a third trilogy because George Lucas had talked about his Skywalker saga being nine films way back in the 1980s. And since he eventually got chapters one through three on the big screen himself, it was guaranteed that Disney’s plans entailed pumping out chapters seven through nine. So why didn’t they game plan that arc? This isn’t like the Marvel Cinematic Universe where tenuous connections over ten films allow for multiple cooks to be…

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Picking Winners at the 91st Annual Academy Awards

The 91st Annual Academy Awards hits airwaves Sunday, February 24th, 2019 at 8:00pm on ABC. For those handicapping at home, here are the guesses of Buffalo film fanatics Christopher Schobert, William Altreuter, and myself. Jared Mobarak: It’s the type of year where hashtags rhetoric simply won’t work. There’s just not one all encapsulating buzzword to touch upon the myriad problems these nominations face. What do you do when you have a film up for Best Picture that was directed by a known presumed sexual predator who was fired for not…

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Online Film Critics Society Ballot 2018

Below is my December 27th ballot for the 22nd annual Online Film Critics Society Awards honoring movies released domestically in the United States during the 2018 calendar year. Group winners are highlighted in red. (No option to abstain was supplied this year.) Best Picture #1 If Beale Street Could Talk #2 You Were Never Really Here #3 Hereditary #4 Eighth Grade #5 BlacKkKlansman #6 The Favourite #7 Annihilation #8 Roma #9 A Star Is Born #10 First Reformed #11 Suspiria Best Animated Film #1 Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse #2 Mirai…

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TIFF18 REVIEW: Can You Ever Forgive Me? [2018]

Do you think they all know? Do you have a Lee Israel work on your shelf? What should be a matter of owning one of her books or not since she was a notable author of biographies who hit the New York Times Best Sellers list, things get much more complicated when you look closer to see she wrote more than just about the likes of Dorothy Kilgallen and Estée Lauder. Israel also wrote as some of her subjects too. During the early 1990s when she was down on her…

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REVIEW: Their Finest [2017]

“Authenticity, optimism, and a dog” As the Blitz raged and British soldiers continued to pour into Europe to try and push the Germans back, those left at home to take cover during air raids and do their part in factories still needed something to keep morale high when it all looked so futile. One such avenue was the movies currently run out of the Ministry of Information as the government sought to ensure the general public experienced only stories that provided hope. Being that you can only make so many…

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REVIEW: Logan [2017]

“Does she remind you of anybody?” Calling any X-Men adaptation a gamble seems stupid considering the mass appeal comic book movies still hold at the box office, but Hollywood has a way of making those sentiments true when artists start bandying about the R-rated label. The standalone Wolverine films have seen what shying away from that challenge does, the first (Origins) proving a misguidedly silly throwaway and the second (The Wolverine) ending up little more than wasted potential or perhaps a casualty of studio interference. We’ve seen seventeen years of…

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REVIEW: Jackie [2016]

“When something’s written down—does that make it true?” It’s rather intriguing how we feel we know our presidents. They represent us as a leader of the free world and we in turn love them enough to mourn their passing even when it’s decades after their run in the Oval Office ceased. But what is it that we really know? We only see what they allow. We see the aftermath of important moments—good and bad—but not the decisions themselves. Everything that we know without reading a book comes from what they’ve…

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REVIEW: Gosford Park [2001]

“I’m the perfect servant: I have no life” Watching Gosford Park again conjured thoughts about it being quintessential Robert Altman, thoughts I couldn’t conjure in 2001 considering it was my first true experience watching one of his films. It proves the perfect evolutionary end to a way of filmmaking he began over twenty years previous with A Wedding‘s sprawling cast, overlapping dialogue, and class strife. Its Agatha Christie-type whodunit conceit lends itself perfectly to his sensibilities and aesthetic, but we can thank Bob Balaban for enthusiastically asking to collaborate for…

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REVIEW: Prêt-à-Porter [Ready to Wear] [1994]

“Taking advantage of others’ insecurities” I didn’t love The Player as much as I thought I would. Sometimes Robert Altman utilizes too many characters within a story that cannot sustain them as perfectly as we’d hope. It often works best in one-locale work like A Wedding and Gosford Park where the satirized theme is cohesive and everyone interacts with everyone else. The reason his Hollywood roast did succeed enough for me to enjoy, however, is that it had a lead. We followed Griffin Mill around the studio lot as the…

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REVIEW: The Player [1992]

“… with a heart” When thinking about a satire on Hollywood, the idea to glorify its luck, ego, and excess rather than vilify probably wouldn’t be the direction your mind gravitates towards. To some extent this may ensure the exercise will prove pointless because the message shifts from showing everything wrong that needs fixing into everything wrong that you can also enjoy if the opportunity to join the hedonistic fun ever presented itself. You wouldn’t necessarily take the time to lambast if you weren’t angry at the status quo and…

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TIFF13 REVIEW: Dom Hemingway [2013]

“A peasant at heart—with good hair and a strong liver” After finding a ton of work on television recently, it’s good to see writer/director Richard Shepard back in theaters with Dom Hemingway. I’m a big fan of both The Matador and The Hunting Party for their infectious humor despite somewhat mainstream stories. So, learning his latest work centered around an extremely short-tempered, alcoholic safecracker just out of prison whose vain ego was no worse for wear got me excited at the prospect of him possibly going for broke. To a…

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