FANTASIA20 REVIEW: Clapboard Jungle [2020]

The reality doesn’t always live up to the dream. If you know anything about the independent film world, it won’t be surprising to discover the project writer/director Justin McConnell is hoping to get off the ground at the start of Clapboard Jungle isn’t going to be much further along in its pre-production process four years later. That’s the nature of the beast. You’re going to have moments of elation when it appears that funds have come through and the inevitable spiral downward when those plans evaporate. You’re going to hit…

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Top Ten Films of 2017

We pretty much knew last year’s Best Picture Oscars race was coming down to La La Land and Moonlight right after the completion of the Toronto International Film Festival in September. But while there’s something to be said about the strength of films able to ascend to frontrunner position, I can’t help loving the idea of heading into March without a clue as to who might win. Ask ten different critics what their favorite of 2017 is and I’d estimate hearing at least eight unique titles. There’s a level of excitement to this reality…

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The 90th Oscars recap through tweets …

If you thought this year’s Oscars were going to do something crazy or exciting, you haven’t been paying attention. Between the envelope-gate incident of 2017 and the fact that this was a “multiple of ten” anniversary, the 90th Annual Academy Awards was going to do everything it could to right the ship and ensure nothing overshadowed the winners’ list. And for the most part they succeeded—often at the detriment of the show itself. But that’s their fault for alway trying to make it more than what it is: an awards…

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Picking Winners at the 90th Annual Academy Awards

The 90th Annual Academy Awards hits airwaves Sunday, March 4th, 2018 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: This new look Academy is really starting to pay dividends. The fight for representation might have begun with a focus on the acting categories (there are four POC actors nominated this year out of twenty slots), but it’s expanded much further in a very short period of time. This 90th year of Oscar becomes…

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Online Film Critics Society Ballot 2017

Below is my December 24th ballot for the 21st annual Online Film Critics Society Awards honoring movies released domestically in the United States during the 2017 calendar year. Each category is ordered according to my preferential rankings. Group winners are labeled in red. (We were only allowed to vote for one nominee per category this year, but I ranked them all like previous years anyway.)

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REVIEW: The Shape of Water [2017]

We’re all alone. Leave it to Guillermo del Toro to create an adult fantasy in the vein of Beauty and the Beast wherein there is no “beauty,” only the “other.” It’s one thing to read or watch a tale of overcoming the odds as a child with a specimen of perfection finding it in his/her heart to give a “monster” love, but such utopic vision is too reductive to the mind of someone who has experienced the difficulties of living in a world built on advancement and superiority. Kids are…

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REVIEW: Crimson Peak [2015]

“Beautiful things are fragile” If you truly want to know what to expect from Crimson Peak you should ignore the trailers—save their ability to highlight the gorgeous aesthetic—and instead read director Guillermo del Toro‘s mission statement. In it you’ll discover that this isn’t your usual horror story. Yes it has some jarringly gruesome visuals and is rife with skeletal ghosts, but his main goal was to pay homage to the “old-fashioned, grand Hollywood production in the Gothic romance genre.” This means a melodramatic tone that earns its laughs as intentional…

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REVIEW: The Book of Life [2014]

“Always play from the heart” I’ve held fascination for Día de Muertos ever since seventh grade Spanish class. There’s just something about its love for the dead and ability to turn something scary to so many into this beautiful cultural tradition that makes its juxtaposition of old bones and ornate artistry a uniquely special aesthetic. To say I was intrigued in Jorge R. Gutierrez‘s The Book of Life would therefore be an understatement. The colors, detail, subject matter, and music he infused seemed a perfect coalescence of style and substance…

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Top 25 Films of 2013

(short and sweet and to the point; culled from watching 220+ releases. constantly updated as i catch up to those i missed. click poster for review if applicable) #25: Mud directed by Jeff Nichols #24: Pacific Rim directed by Guillermo del Toro #23: The Conjuring directed by James Wan #22: Satellite of Love directed by Will James Moore #21: Una noche [One Night] directed by Lucy Mulloy #20: The Great Gatsby directed by Baz Luhrmann #19: The Spectacular Now directed by James Ponsoldt #18: Blue Jasmine directed by Woody Allen…

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REVIEW: Pacific Rim [2013]

“She’s starting to chase the rabbit” After watching two spec scripts get sold and ultimately fall through, Clash of the Titans scribe Travis Beacham finally breaks into Hollywood with an original vision in Pacific Rim. A futuristic look at our world on the cusp of annihilation by the claws of an alien species entering our realm via a wormhole over an underwater rift in our Earth’s crust, his tale is as close to a live action anime as we’re likely to get—complete with kaiju and mecha warriors fighting to rule…

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Posterized Propaganda July 2013: ‘Only God Forgives,’ ‘Pacific Rim,’ ‘Fruitvale Station’ & 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. Welcome to the heart of the summer folks—where giant robots, faux Native Americans, retired CIA operators, and mutants come out to play. It’s a tough time of year for true…

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