REVIEW: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2

“They chose you” With The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 officially in the books I’m confident in saying Suzanne Collins‘ dystopic trilogy will hold up as one of the most successfully faithful cinematic adaptations ever. And a big part of that is the decision to make it into four movies because, as anyone who’s read the novels knows, Mockingjay is a dense work with little fat where its political and emotional intrigue are concerned. Any issues stem from Lionsgate’s misguided choice of putting a full year’s wait in between…

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TFF15 REVIEW: Jackrabbit [2016]

“Rebuilding Our Future Today” Dystopian sci-fi is trendy. Anyone who has any knowledge of today’s pop culture could tell you that and it’s no surprise Hollywood has jumped on its collective consciousness with The Hunger Games, Divergent, and The Maze Runner. I enjoy them all, don’t get me wrong, but the reality of their monumental success removed from classics like 1984 or Fahrenheit 451 is a more glaring commentary on twenty-first century society than the political messages they use as a backbone to romantic, YA plotlines. There has been a…

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REVIEW: Insurgent [2015]

“You have to forgive yourself” I don’t know which of the three writers credited (Brian Duffield, Akiva Goldsman, and Mark Bomback) on Insurgent is responsible for the complete overhaul of Veronica Roth‘s source novel, but I applaud him. If not for the retention of its characters’ arcs, one could argue the majority of this cinematic version is a wholly original work. Ultimately, however, Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Four’s (Theo James) progression within the confines of a scorched Chicago is what gives Insurgent its identity. We as an audience and fans…

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REVIEW: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 [2014]

“If we met up at midnight in the hanging tree” Welcome to the bait and switch. If you’ve read Suzanne Collins‘ Hunger Games Trilogy you know that Mockingjay is by far the meatiest and most resonate installment of the series despite diverting from the blueprint that brought people in. So rich in the politics, revolution, and sci-fi lying underneath the action of the previous entries, splitting it into two films was actually a good idea. They should have placed the release dates months apart a la The Matrix sequels rather…

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REVIEW: A Clockwork Orange [1971]

“No time for the old in-out, love, I’ve just come to read the meter.” It didn’t take long for the theatrical experience to prove essential when watching A Clockwork Orange on the big screen. As Henry Purcell‘s March from “Funeral Music for Queen Mary” plays, the frame is filled with a solid bright orange so massive and enveloping that it pulsates to appear as though it’s spilling past the edges. This goes on for a full thirty seconds before “Warner Bros. A Kinney Company Presents” appears in white and by…

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REVIEW: The Maze Runner [2014]

“Wicked is good” There’s really no better way to start The Maze Runner than Wes Ball‘s opening. I’ve not read James Dashner‘s novels and probably knew less than the trailer foretold since it’s been so long since I last saw it. So watching the pitch-black screen stare at me while scrapping metal creaked until a scared boy as disoriented as I gets illuminated was brilliant. He and we enter this crazy situation together—running for our lives, being introduced to our new family, and realizing everything that came before this moment…

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Posterized Propaganda September 2014: ‘The Zero Theorem,’ ‘The Boxtrolls’, ‘Eleanor Rigby,’ 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. It’s festival season time—a time when I scour the internet for posters of films I’ll be seeing at TIFF only to come up empty-handed for a lot. That’s okay, though,…

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INTERVIEW: Michael Gelen, designer/owner of Inkwell Studios

Michael Gelen is a Buffalo-based artist whose work you have probably seen in and around the city. Been to ICTC? He draws the covers. Enjoy the beer selection of New Buffalo Brewing? He’s the one designing the labels. The mind behind Inkwell Studios, Gelen’s expertise runs the gamut from logos to posters to children’s books and medical illustration. He’s been at it since 1989, working with clients of all sizes locally and across the nation while also providing budding artists a role model to aspire towards—I remember him visiting my…

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REVIEW: 설국열차 [Snowpiercer] [2013]

“Is it time?” When talk surrounding the US release of Kar Wai Wong‘s The Grandmaster erupted in controversy about a truncated cut from the Weinsteins, cinephiles across the nation couldn’t help but let depression set in. Even so, no one could have been surprised by the decision because Harvey Scissorhands likes to streamline story for action whenever he can to trick American audiences into seeing a foreign film they wouldn’t otherwise care about. So when the same rumors started swirling around Bong Joon-ho‘s Snowpiercer, you had to fear for the…

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REVIEW: Ida [2013]

“Why am I not here?” A life well lived. Now there’s a concept very few of us can truly comprehend. It doesn’t mean old age. It doesn’t mean fame or fortune. It doesn’t even mean legacy, familial or otherwise. A life well lived can be ten years long or one hundred years short—the only necessity being that you somehow left this world better on your own terms and in front of whatever God or lack thereof you choose. Some of us are lucky; others the victim of fate, time, and…

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REVIEW: Divergent [2014]

“Faction before blood” Like it or not, the twenty-first century has brought cultural alterations. For instance, the conversation about futuristic dystopias and/or social upheaval no longer includes 1984, Brave New World, or Fahrenheit 451. Our contemporary equivalents are now The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, and Divergent. They may not be at the same reading level, target the same demographic, or prove as smart and prophetic as the former trio, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t relevant or effective. All except for one thing impossible to ignore: their delivery method.…

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