Picking Winners at the 92nd Annual Academy Awards

The 92nd Annual Academy Awards hits airwaves Sunday, February 9th, 2020 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: Let’s face it. The Oscars have been irrelevant from a creative standpoint since … probably forever. The whole thing is a marketing ploy to boost box office numbers and give trailer makers something to put next to names of creative. That’s why theaters re-release nominees. That’s why boutique studios hold wide rollouts until foreign…

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REVIEW: The Two Popes [2019]

We need someone to blow the ash away. I’m a lapsed Catholic who cynically wonders why the Pope isn’t considered a false idol—a direct result of my loathing of the church as a corrupt and hypocritical institution. I adopted this position years ago for the same reasons many others have. Catholicism has constantly proven itself to be nothing but alienating to those who would rather see with their own eyes than ignore moral truths by wielding scripture as an excuse for hate. It’s unyielding on certain human rights issues, refuses…

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REVIEW: The Man Who Killed Don Quixote [2019]

You think explaining explains anything? I’ve just finished watching it and yet I still can’t believe Terry Gilliam actually completed The Man Who Killed Don Quixote. If you told me I had dreamt it all I would give pause because it’s been over twenty years in the making and its cursed production schedules have become something I relied upon. First he wanted to do a straight adaptation of Miguel de Cervantes‘ novel only to have it fall through. Then came the flash flood and insurance nightmare documented in Keith Fulton…

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REVIEW: The Wife [2018]

Do what you need to do. After multiple expressions of frustration tinged with disgust on behalf of David Castleman (Max Irons) towards his father Joe (Jonathan Pryce), the time for the latter to finally tell the former what he thinks about his short story arrives. Joe is an acclaimed author who’s just landed in Stockholm to accept the Nobel Prize in literature and David has accompanied him and his mother Joan (Glenn Close) for the ceremony. She’s already been effusive with praise about her son’s latest piece while awaiting her…

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REVIEW: The Man Who Invented Christmas [2017]

Why throw everything away for a minor holiday? As Les Standiford‘s book would tell it, Charles Dickens (Dan Stevens) found himself in somewhat of a creative rut after a lengthy and expensive tour of America post-Oliver Twist. He had published three flops since buying a new London home in need of wholesale remodeling and began watching his pocketbook dwindle along with his confidence. It was as though the autumn of 1843 presented him a make or break moment wherein he wasn’t certain he would ever write again. And then inspiration…

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REVIEW: Dough [2016]

“How can you lose trousers?” Think of John Goldschmidt‘s latest film Dough (his first in the director’s chair since 1987) as a cinematic peace pipe for race relations and religious zealots. Rather than tobacco and herbs mixed into kinnikinnick for a clay vessel, however, screenwriters Jonathan Benson and Jez Freedman use marijuana and challah. The concoction sells through the roof, has London’s East End overrun by patrons like never before, and gets its unwitting purveyor remembering what it’s like to live. Just when Jewish baker Nat Dayan (Jonathan Pryce) thought…

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REVIEW: Shopping [1994]

“Don’t get caught” I don’t know what it is about Paul W.S. Anderson, but I very rarely dislike his flicks no matter the critical consensus or fandom drubbings. He isn’t the best director out there but he has created some interesting vehicles despite it—enough to accept the fact that Hollywood studios will continue giving him money to make them. And even though it’s a far cry from the video game adaptations serving as his claim to fame, Anderson’s debut Shopping feels right at home alongside Resident Evil and Mortal Kombat.…

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Writing holds a mirror to your inner self … Babel’s David Henry Hwang

Two plus months and a few snowstorms later, David Henry Hwang finally made it to Buffalo. The second speaker in Just Buffalo Literary Center’s 2014/2015 Babel Season, Hwang probably would have waited even longer if the elements necessitated. He’s that generous a human being. Artistic Director Barbara Cole illustrated such with an anecdote concerning a local teacher wishing on social media that she could take her class to Syracuse for a performance of the playwright’s Chinglish and his contacting her personally to offer answers to whatever questions her students might…

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REVIEW: Brazil [1985]

“Care for a little necrophilia?” Although Terry Gilliam had already established the highly imaginative filmic style we now associate him with above his Monty Python animations, no one could have imagined the scale of what would become his unequivocal masterpiece, Brazil. There were shades of its escapism in Time Bandits and its bureaucratic satire in short film The Crimson Permanent Assurance, but nothing as grandiose as Sam Lowry’s (Jonathan Pryce) fantastical dreamscape juxtaposed against his Orwellian, nightmarish reality. In fact, Gilliam even sought to title the film 1984 1/2 before…

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REVIEW: G.I. Joe: Retaliation [2013]

“You love my panties” I have to give Paramount Pictures credit as they saw what did and didn’t work in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and sought a way to rectify their mistakes. Were they going to end up with a good film? No. Did they at least want to find a way to give audiences something to have fun with? Surprisingly, yes. G.I. Joe: Retaliation would make big bucks at the box office anyway—it would have probably made more before a nine-month 3D retrofitting delay. The question was…

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