REVIEW: Fifty Shades Darker [2017]

“Nothing lasts” Considering the Fifty Shades of Grey series is Twilight fan-fiction barely polished from its sordid internet origins, it shouldn’t be surprising that a villain besides dominant millionaire Christian Grey’s (Jamie Dornan) sadist side would arrive. Child molester Elena Lincoln (Kim Basinger) was alluded to in the first film, but not seen. So we anticipated this older woman who taught a fourteen year-old Christian about sex (propelling him onto the path he struggles to battle today) would receive a bigger role once Grey and naïve “I’m not a submissive!”…

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REVIEW: What We Do in the Shadows [2014]

“Get up and stand on the ceiling like a man” In great mockumentary fashion, What We Do in the Shadows bears to mind the work of Christopher Guest. It has eccentric characters, constant mugging for the camera, and a perfectly dry delivery ensuring those watching will laugh even harder at each joke—if that’s their cup of tea. This is a New Zealand produced work and therefore filled to the brim with a British comic sensibility. That means you won’t get the over-the-top nonsense from a John Michael Higgins or a…

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REVIEW: Fifty Shades of Grey [2015]

“I enjoy various physical pursuits” Author E.L. James should be ecstatic that the crazy fervor surrounding her trilogy of BD/SM propelled it towards a movie deal because now artists more qualified to bring her kinkiness to life can get their hands on it. I’m not saying she’s a bad writer—I’ll let the myriad commenters on the interwebs too haughty to accept someone who turned a pornographic Twilight fan-fiction into a worldwide bestseller do that. I’m also not saying she’s good—I haven’t read her novel, but have been exposed to the…

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REVIEW: If I Stay [2014]

“True love’s a bitch” I am not a proponent of stories that hinge the possibility of undying live between teenagers on an unspeakable tragedy. This was my biggest issue with the overwrought sequels to Twilight and their brazen desire to show how star-crossed lovers would commit suicide before ever imagining a world outside the other’s arms. Cry all you want about how Romeo and Juliet did the same: Twilight is not Shakespeare. To that point, neither is Gayle Forman. Yes it’s a tough world and we all dream about a…

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REVIEW: Only Lovers Left Alive [2014]

“A diamond emitting the music of a giant gong” In the age of Twilight its good to know an auteur like Jim Jarmusch can render contemporary vampires as the romantic ideals of immortality, wisdom, and survival any thought-provoking interpretation should. Gone is the CW brood from “The Vampire Diaries”, ostentatious displays of supernatural power courtesy of “True Blood”, and the heightened sexuality of all their bloodsucking quasi-porn sizzle. Replacing them is a dying breed of intellectual artists held over from centuries gone, men and women without interest in the current…

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BNFF14 PREVIEW: The 8th Annual Buffalo Niagara Film Festival

It’s eight years later and The Buffalo Niagara International Film Festival is still going strong April 24th through May 3rd. I personally missed organizer and filmmaker Bill Cowell‘s inaugural season, but have been attending off and on as both a ticket holder and member of the press since. My first experience was in 2008 at the Riviera Theatre in Tonawanda. I drove over mostly because that night’s feature had a cast consisting of Bruce Dern and Kristen Stewart (pre-Twilight). While director Mary Stewart Masterson‘s The Cake Eaters proved worthy of…

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REVIEW: Vampire Academy [2014]

“The clarity of the darkness beckons” The target demographic for Vampire Academy? Teenage girls. The only demographic that could truly, completely enjoy it? Teenage girls. With that said, however, it knows this and isn’t afraid to embrace it. Honestly, for better or worse, that’s exactly what it should strive towards because it’s why Hollywood green-lit the big-screen treatment in the first place. The fans of Richelle Mead‘s series of books upon which it’s based want the sassy divas, mystical princesses, and darkly brooding man meat to pine over. That’s why…

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REVIEW: The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box [2014]

“Faithfulness will be your shield” There will never be a lack of literary fantasy adventures for ages 12 and up to transfer from page to screen. The question becomes whether the property is given access to a wealthy studio’s clout or one more reliant on word-of-mouth and existing fanbase to ease the transition. For Entertainment Motion Pictures, their grab at franchise caliber fiction comes courtesy of a trilogy written by British author G.P. Taylor that unfortunately secures little of those things. It appears the author’s first novel Shadowmancer is the…

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REVIEW: 100 Bloody Acres [2013]

“…We’ll Fertilize Ya!” There is a fine line between horror spoof and horror comedy. The former tries to make fun of the genre while the latter looks to appeal to audiences of both halves. Since most horror generally has a comedic streak anyway, accomplishing this duality above the juvenile humor of a Scary Movie shouldn’t be too hard. But while comedies with horror elements—Beetlejuice, Bubba Ho-Tep, and Ghostbusters—have been a staple through the years, it was 2004’s Shaun of the Dead that gave mainstream audiences a chance to embrace the…

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REVIEW: The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones [2013]

“What does that symbol mean?” Another Young Adult fantasy fiction trilogy to throw into the Hollywood machine, Cassandra Clare‘s The Mortal Instruments gives Sony a property looking for broad appeal via its similarities to the darker Harry Potters, the overwrought love triangle in Twilight, and a PG-13 filtered “True Blood” collection of every supernatural species you can imagine (besides zombies of course, duh, stupid). It’s a world of Shadow Hunters—angel descendants who battle demons to protect the Mundanes (Muggles) unaware of the fight like you and me. Using ancient runes…

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REVIEW: Java Heat [2013]

“So, you just hit on her?” It’s taken director Conor Allyn five years and two movies to finally have the actioner Java Heat put him at the helm of a movie with English as its first language. His previous two films closed out the Indonesian box office hit trilogy Merah Putih [Red & White] he wrote against the backdrop of the country’s war for independence from the Dutch. An intriguing location for an American filmmaker to debut, the connection becomes easier to understand after learning his father and co-writer Rob…

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