OLDENBURG20 REVIEW: Buck Alamo [2020]

Pay attention to those colors and you can see the future. You have to imagine Death’s (Bruce Dern) been waiting to take Eli Cody aka Buck Alamo (Sonny Carl Davis) for quite some time. The Texas-based, self-proclaimed expert guitar picker speaks fondly of those benders on drugs and alcohol that left his life a shambles. He relates the fact he can barely remember what happened with a smile tinged by the regret of what might have been both for his career (success led to celebration and thus its dissolution) and…

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REVIEW: The Peanut Butter Falcon [2019]

Two bandits on the run. Neither Tyler (Shia LaBeouf) nor Zak (Zack Gottsagen) is where he wants to be—each haunted by memories of their loss. The former suffers from demons of his own making after his brother Mark’s (Jon Bernthal) death while the latter contends with his family abandoning him into the guardianship of a state ill-equipped to care. They’re trapped in ways that only render an escape possible through criminal means. Tyler’s arson gives him an excuse to run by ensuring Duncan (John Hawkes) and Ratboy’s (Yelawolf) desperate fishermen…

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REVIEW: Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood [2019]

Give me sexy, evil Hamlet. It was around midnight between August 8th and 9th, 1969 that Tex Watson, Susan Atkins, and Patricia Krenwinkel arrived at 10050 Cielo Drive in Los Angeles on a mission from their cult leader Charles Manson. They were told to go to that house (a former renter named Terry Melcher once rebuked Manson) and kill everyone inside as gruesomely as possible. By morning five people were dead including a pregnant Sharon Tate (whose husband, director Roman Polanski, was in Europe working on a new film) with…

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TIFF18 REVIEW: Freaks [2018]

Go away ghost. It’s weird to think about a movie like Push today—an under-appreciated, much-maligned sci-fi that I’d argue is a lot better than the legacy it’s been given. The X-Men and Spider-Man trilogies had completed by the time it was released and Iron Man just hit theaters the year before to usher in what would become the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And yet here was a smaller-scale, original piece centering upon a group of mutants that could exist outside the realm of built-in fandoms. Perhaps that which made it special…

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TIFF17 REVIEW: Chappaquiddick [2018]

“Sometimes the path you’re on isn’t always the path you choose” It was always funny to think of Ted Kennedy as “the other Kennedy.” How could you not? Despite his long tenure as Massachusetts Senator, he wasn’t “anointed” like Jack or Bobby. He tried and failed to secure a presidential nomination, but even if he won there’d always be that one incident tainting his legacy and integrity. The place was Chappaquiddick and the reality was he killed someone. He became the butt of a joke—a tasteless joke. Nothing he’d ever…

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REVIEW: The Hateful Eight [2015]

“Well I’ll be double-dog damned” It appears Quentin Tarantino has decided to go back to his roots by making his eighth feature film The Hateful Eight in the same vein as his debut Reservoir Dogs—namely keeping sets and actors to the bare minimum for added tension without room for escape. The maneuver couldn’t have come sooner with its predecessor Django Unchained, despite earning an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, proving to me his weakest work. Not only was it pretty much a watered-down rehash of Inglourious Basterds, it was also…

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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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The 86th Oscars recap through tweets …

Welcome to the 86th Annual Academy Awards everyone! If you didn’t watch the festivities that occurred Sunday night at the Dolby Theatre you are probably a lot better off than most of us because it was a very lackluster affair. We all hoped Ellen DeGeneres would bring a fun, smart, witty return to her success with the 79th installment, but the reality ended up being one of the most dull and safe presentations in quite some time. I guess it wasn’t all bad, though, considering the Academy actually got most…

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Picking Winners at the 86th Annual Academy Awards

The Oscars are generally quite boring, since we often know well in advance what is going to win Best Picture, Director, etc. But this year? Not so much. Sure, there are heavy favorites — see below. But it is entirely possible there will be some real surprises. Of course, I could be completely wrong. But if I am, hopefully Bill Altreuter and Jared Mobarak will be right. And away we go … —Chris Best ActorBruce Dern: NebraskaChiwetel Ejiofor: 12 Years a SlaveMatthew McConaughey: Dallas Buyers ClubLeonardo DiCaprio: The Wolf of Wall StreetChristian Bale: American Hustle…

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REVIEW: Nebraska [2013]

“Two goddamn days … from Billings?” I didn’t like About Schmidt. I remember very little about why or the film itself, but I do remember that. It should therefore be no surprise I didn’t necessarily love director Alexander Payne‘s latest Nebraska either since in my estimation they’re very similar works. He was actually approached with Bob Nelson‘s screenplay while filming the Jack Nicholson starrer, agreeing to helm it as long as he could put distance behind his next obligation—Sideways—so as not to make two road movies in a row. Nine…

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Posterized Propaganda November 2013: ‘Ender’s Game,’ ‘Nebraska,’ ‘Frozen,’ ‘Oldboy’ & 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. Summer is here! Well, at least the summer we hoped to have when the sun was still shining out my window. Yes, the requisite Oscar bait arrives with a few…

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