TIFF18 REVIEW: First Man [2018]

It’s kinda neat The non-controversy surrounding Damien Chazelle‘s First Man shouldn’t surprise anyone who knows how political parties have appropriated art into their agendas since the dawn of time. Of course they’d glom onto the decision to ignore the lunar flag planting as some “un-American” thing rather than read the script, watch the movie, or ask for clarification—options which would have all supplied insight into the reality that Chazelle and screenwriter Josh Singer aren’t telling the story of the moon landing. That goal might be the driving force behind what’s…

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REVIEW: Blade Runner 2049 [2017]

“Because you’ve never seen a miracle” Survival is a selfish endeavor, but not necessarily one driven by ego. On the contrary, survival is often a selfless means to place community ahead of the individual. Look at our country’s current, abhorrent divisions along lines we should have erased decades ago or never created in the first place. As long as privilege exists and one race, gender, religion, et al holds power and sway above the rest simply because it fears relinquishing its place atop the “status quo,” rebellion is only a…

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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 #1 Moonlight . #2 Manchester by the Sea #3 Arrival . #4 Jackie . #5 The Witch . #6 Hell or High Water #7 La La Land . #8 O.J.: Made in America #9 The Handmaiden . #10 Paterson . Best Animated Film #1 Kubo and the Two Strings #2 Moana . #3 Finding…

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REVIEW: La La Land [2016]

“Or one more dream that I cannot make true” Writer/director Damien Chazelle burst onto the scene in 2014 on the back of his Oscar-nominated and critical darling Whiplash. It took this jazz drummer time to finally breakthrough with his sophomore feature, time that saw actors and producers taking a risk on him that would ultimately pay off big creatively and financially. Well the spoils trickled down to the man behind the art too as a long gestating musical project from 2010 became a feasible follow-up. This effort would end up…

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REVIEW: The Nice Guys [2016]

“You will never be happy :)” Even a huge Shane Black fan like myself won’t necessarily tell you his style has nuance. You watch his directorial debut Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (released almost a decade after his previous screenwriting credit) and you feel its kinship to his scripting debut Lethal Weapon. His most recent assignment behind the camera Iron Man 3 feels exactly like both despite being entrenched inside an over-arching universe micro-managed by an outside force. So watching the trailer for his latest The Nice Guys is like seeing…

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REVIEW: The Big Short [2015]

“Trust me. This happened.” I can honestly say I learned something watching The Big Short. That’s no small feat considering it was directed and cowritten by funnyman Adam McKay. His collaborations with Will Ferrell acting like a doofus are generally the exact opposite of educational. But he couldn’t have told this story about the handful of eccentrics who bet against the American economy and won by seeing the mortgage bubble everyone else couldn’t (or fraudulently ignored) without a financial crash course. CDOs, tranches, and sub-primes were as synonymous with gibberish…

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REVIEW: Shelter [2015]

“The objective is forgiveness” It’s quite comforting to see actors-turned-directors not shying away from tough subject matter. You’d almost assume they would amidst stereotypes of celebrity vanity driving them to worry about losing audience appeal. Looking at a guy like Ben Affleck leveraging a fledging acting career destroyed by bad mainstream choices into a critically acclaimed metamorphosis as an A-list director, however, shows the transition is real regardless of content or perception. I’d rather a guy like Ryan Gosling get derided for taking a chance on Lost River than see…

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REVIEW: Stay [2005]

“Your troubles will cease and fortune will smile upon you” **POTENTIAL SPOILERS** I remember my head spinning about Stay after leaving the theatre. Not because David Benioff‘s script or Marc Forster‘s direction proved nuanced enough to shield the “reality” of what’s going on for any authentic surprise, but due to its visceral impact. The Guess Who‘s “These Eyes” cannot play without my recalling the experience of grinding metal and dizzying light accompanying its melody. I bought the DVD the day it released and scoured the extra features to learn about…

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REVIEW: Lost River [2015]

“Here in my deep purple dream” You cannot watch Ryan Gosling‘s directorial debut Lost River without recalling the divisive surrealism of Only God Forgives. He’s the first to admit how much of an influence Nicolas Winding Refn was, pitting the Dane’s heightened realities against the emotive authenticity of another favorite collaborator in Derek Cianfrance. Gosling places himself somewhere in the middle of their two disparate sensibilities and while I get what he’s saying, the apple falls much closer to Refn’s tree. Unsurprisingly booed out of Cannes as it earned the…

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TIFF14 REVIEW: Nightcrawler [2014]

“If you want to win the lottery you have to have the money to buy a ticket” There are some huge ebbs and flows in Dan Gilroy‘s Nightcrawler. At times I loved it, others I felt bad for laughing, and some instances made me wonder what exactly it was I was watching. In the end, however, I can unequivocally say it’s a gem of a lean, mean film that never let’s its foot off the gas pedal with an iconic antihero in Jake Gyllenhaal‘s Lou Bloom who might currently be…

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