REVIEW: The Light Between Oceans [2016]

“There’s always something to fix” Writer/director Derek Cianfrance isn’t done with cinematic tapestries of emotion quite yet as The Light Between Oceans fits his still burgeoning oeuvre perfectly. Based on M.L. Stedman‘s debut novel, the structure delivers a similar duality as both Blue Valentine and The Place Beyond the Pines before it. We spend so much time with lighthouse keeper Tom Sherbourne (Michael Fassbender) and his wife Isabel (Alicia Vikander) that it proves a jarring switch to suddenly shift towards heartbroken widow Hannah Roennfeldt (Rachel Weisz), especially knowing her place…

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REVIEW: Jason Bourne [2016]

“And I heard you got hacked” In the nine years since Matt Damon last played amnesiac black ops assassin Jason Bourne, (eleven movie years considering the character exclaims he’s been running for three in The Bourne Ultimatum after The Bourne Identity bowed in 2002), there’s been a lot of chatter about making a reunion work only to have the actor and director Paul Greengrass emphatically say, “No.” It was with good reason too because they knew throwing a sequel together without a quality story that did justice to the original…

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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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The 88th Oscars recap through tweets …

  The Oscars are today! You know, the awards show where Leonardo DiCaprio is “overdue” but black people can “wait till next year.” — Bette Midler (@BetteMidler) February 28, 2016 Bette Midler‘s tweet hours before the 88th Annual Academy Awards started says it all above. #OscarsSoWhite would and to a point should be the focus of the show because all the chaos that ensued once the nominations revealed a second consecutive year without a non-white acting nod deemed it so. However, the uproar was directed towards the Academy hastily and…

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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: The Danish Girl [2015]

“It’s what I dream. They’re Lili’s dreams.” It’s difficult to fathom what Lili Elbe went through in the 1920s—and not just living as a transgender woman at a time where there was no name for it, but also to undergo surgeries as advanced as sex reassignment a century ago. You’d like to believe her life would have been easier one hundred years later yet if Tom Hooper‘s The Danish Girl is any indication it would have been pretty much the same. The virtually insurmountable struggles of bigots and homophobic doctors…

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REVIEW: The Man from U.N.C.L.E. [2015]

“Inside every Kraut is an American trying to get out” Writer/director Guy Ritchie is like that band all my friends dismiss because they think every song in their discography sounds the same to which I reply, “But I like that song.” With the exception of Swept Away—because I’ve never seen any reason to actually watch it—I’ve enjoyed all of the high-octane, visually kinetic action comedies he’s brought forth into this world. Whether an original Cockney tale like his earlier work or a Hollywood property adapted to his sensibilities of late,…

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REVIEW: Ex Machina [2015]

“The history of man? That’s the history of Gods.” Artificial intelligence isn’t new. It’s in video games, toys, software platforms—most computer systems we interact with daily possess it in some capacity. The idea that one day someone will code a manufactured consciousness capable of becoming sentient, however, is still in the realm of science fiction. Already a well-worn trope, its implementation has seen resurgence of late. Not only is a new installment of Skynet’s war-torn future coming with Terminator Genisys, but “Person of Interest” has been ruling the cyber-thriller forum…

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TIFF12 REVIEW: Anna Karenina [2012]

“If you’re a good man you’ll forget everything” When TIFF director and CEO Piers Handling introduced the newest adaptation of Leo Tolstoy‘s Anna Karenina by saying director Joe Wright appropriately played up the theatricality of the novel, I wasn’t quite prepared for the blatant transparency where his stylistic approach’s artifice was concerned. As the camera lingers on a darkened stage covered by a place card to set the scene, I was blown away by the rising curtain uncovering a brilliantly conceived introduction to this TARDIS-like world much bigger on the…

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VIFF11 REVIEW: Till det som är vackert [Pure] [2010]

“Courage is life’s only measure” What’s worse than giving sex to a married man for money? Giving it for love. It’s a tough distinction to delineate for a reformed twenty-year old prostitute whose only role model growing up was a drug-addled, suicidal mother that more or less taught her the business. Hoping for redemption and a ‘cleaner’ life, Katarina (Alicia Vikander) has vowed to never go back and instead cherish her boyfriend Mattias (Martin Wallström)—the one decent male in Sweden who doesn’t yell whore at her on the streets. Unfortunately,…

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