REVIEW: Licorice Pizza [2021]

Gritted teeth and fixed bayonettes. Let’s face it: there’s an elephant in the room (well, make that two with the casual racism) when even beginning to talk about Paul Thomas Anderson‘s latest San Fernando Valley in the 1970s vibe of a movie adorned by two words the writer/director says supply a Pavlovian response to his past, Licorice Pizza. It’s about the exploits of a fifteen-year-old hustler named Gary Valentine (Cooper Hoffman) and the twenty-five-year-old soon-to-be friend/business partner named Alana Kane (Alana Haim) that he tries to pick-up at his high…

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REVIEW: Nightmare Alley [2021]

No man can outrun God. We meet Stan Carlisle (Bradley Cooper) dragging a wrapped body to a hole he’s made by wrenching up the floorboards of an old farmhouse. He lights a cigarette and throws the match in too, leaving as the building becomes engulfed in flames. Was it murder? Making good on a promise? We don’t yet know. Whatever it was that put him in this situation was at least dramatic enough for him to keep his head down while traveling by train to the end of the line.…

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REVIEW: Avengers: Endgame [2019]

I love you three thousand. The best thing Marvel ever did was split their Avengers 1.0 saga’s final chapter in two since it allowed Infinity War to deliver what no other entry could: stakes. Despite knowing they were always false due to the giant gauntlet in the room that literally bends time and space to its whims, they hurt nonetheless simply because we were forced to sit with those results for a full year before discovering how things might be put right. Had Anthony and Joe Russo conversely fixed everything…

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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. Each category is ordered according to my preferential rankings. Group winners are labeled in red. (No option to abstain was supplied this year.)

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REVIEW: A Star Is Born [2018]

I love the way she sees them. It began with Hollywood as William A. Wellman and Robert Carson won an Oscar for their story about a young actress dreaming of super stardom in 1937. From there it went the way of the movie musical thanks to Judy Garland taking the lead before earning six nominations in 1954. Next came Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson to shift things to the music world with its aging rock star and hopeful songstress adding a 1976 Best Song to the awards cabinet. Now—almost a…

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REVIEW: Avengers: Infinity War [2018]

He’s never fought me twice. It’s been ten years since we met Tony Stark on the big screen. Ten years of serial storytelling with massive budgets, character crossovers, television offshoots, and Stan Lee cameos that took Hollywood and the box office by storm. Not even steward Kevin Feige could have predicted that type of longevity with twenty films by 2018’s completion, but here he and we are at the culmination of all those carefully laid plans. It’s been an enjoyable journey with origin tales, rights swapping, tonal shifts, and more…

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REVIEW: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 [2017]

“It’s not ripe” The world of Guardians of the Galaxy proved a necessary shot of comic and action adrenaline for the Marvel Cinematic Universe back in 2014. It gave a breather from the Tony Stark crew, allowed the voice of an outsider in James Gunn to permeate the Hollywood machine, and introduced a level of sky’s-the-limit promise and potential as far as aliens, planets, and scope (Thanos isn’t Earth’s random enemy, we’re just standing in his way of much bigger goals beyond our comprehension). Its success came via its characters,…

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REVIEW: War Dogs [2016]

“What would a bad man do?” Of course director Todd Phillips would gravitate towards a Rolling Stone article titled “The Stoner Arms Dealers.” If the man behind The Hangover trilogy was ever going to delve into more dramatic territory a la contemporary Adam McKay and last year’s The Big Short, Guy Lawson‘s piece on two twenty-somethings who landed huge military contracts with the US government before federal indictments was the perfect segue. It’s as though the characters from his Old School decided to make connections with black market arms organizations…

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REVIEW: 10 Cloverfield Lane [2016]

“You need to eat. You need to sleep. And you need to start showing a little appreciation.” Let’s address the elephant in the room first: 10 Cloverfield Lane is not a sequel to Cloverfield no matter what the title and media suggest. The filmmakers simply thought the script (developed by Josh Campbell and Matthew Stuecken; rewritten/polished by Damien Chazelle before embarking on Whiplash) felt a lot like Matt Reeves and Drew Goddard’s handheld alien invasion thriller. J.J. Abrams agreed, added a Slusho sign, recruited his “Alias” buddy Bradley Cooper for…

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REVIEW: Joy [2015]

“No, I don’t need a prince” There’s a reason you don’t hear “Mangano” throughout David O. Russell‘s supposed biography of Miracle Mop inventor Joy Mangano and it’s because Joy isn’t real. Whether original scribe Annie Mumolo intended this aesthetic—she reportedly fought tooth and nail to retain her credit—or Russell retooled its tone, what could have been an empowering rags-to-riches drama proves a hyper-stylized comic fairy tale instead. So when Joy’s (Jennifer Lawrence) attending a professional business meeting introducing herself to people she hopes will take a chance on her ideas,…

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