REVIEW: Onward [2020]

Be Like Dad. It’s Ian Lightfoot’s (Tom Holland) sixteenth birthday and he’s hoping to make it count. He’s not about to go on a rager with friends, though. He’s way too introverted for that. Ian therefore merely seeks to conquer a few baby steps towards mild extroversion by putting on his late father’s college sweatshirt to boost confidence and check off some boxes on a list he wrote to change himself into the man he wishes he might become. That means standing up for himself when others treat him like…

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REVIEW: Luce [2019]

I can’t be perfect. So much of who we are and what we become relies on perception. Race, gender, religion, sexuality, language, culture, education, and socio-economic standing all play a role because we’re perceived by those like us and those not. We therefore exist in a tenuous bubble of expectations wherein normalcy is a razor-thin line between sainthood and monstrousness. One side waits to anoint us while patting itself on the back for assisting our ascent upwards to meet our potential. The other patiently bides its time until we’re revealed…

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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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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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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: Gifted [2017]

“This could work out” Stories about prodigies are too often mired in tragic mental health issues or careers with boundless accolades and successes. Some can be done very well and others are redundant to the point of avoidance. The sub-genre of child prodigies is oftentimes even worse because it generally targets young audiences and therefore never possesses the nuance to be anything more than an upward trajectory with few pitfalls to traverse along the way. Either the child is stewarded by a selfless adult to greatness or the child is…

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Picking Winners at the 89th Annual Academy Awards

The 89th Annual Academy Awards hits airwaves Sunday, February 26th, 2017 at 8:30pm on ABC. Buffalonians can watch it from the comfort of their home or take a trip down to these local destinations: • The Screening Room, The Boulevard MallFree (doors open at 7:00pm)• Buffalo State College, Campbell Student UnionFree with Student ID, $10 general public (doors open at 8:00pm)• Q, 44 Allen StreetFree (Red Carpet party begins at 6:00pm) For those handicapping at home, here are the guesses of Buffalo film fanatics Christopher Schobert, William Altreuter, and myself.…

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Online Film Critics Society Ballot 2016

Below is my December 31st ballot for the 20th annual Online Film Critics Society Awards honoring movies released domestically in the United States during the 2016 calendar year. Group winners are highlighted in red. Best Picture #1 Moonlight . #2 Manchester by the Sea #3 Arrival . #4 Jackie . #5 The Witch . #6 Hell or High Water #7 La La Land . #8 O.J.: Made in America #9 The Handmaiden . #10 Paterson . Best Animated Film #1 Kubo and the Two Strings #2 Moana . #3 Finding…

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REVIEW: Hidden Figures [2016]

“I’m sorry. I’m … not the custodian.” This is the film that math teachers throughout the nation have needed as an answer to each year’s smart aleck questioning, “When are we ever going to use this?” Push away the depressing nature of A Beautiful Mind‘s schizophrenia and The Man Who Knew Infinity‘s tragic end and let a true story of perseverance, intelligence, and hope take their place. Now when that smirking kid throws out his/her query as though he/she was the first to ever ask it, your reply can explain…

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REVIEW: Insurgent [2015]

“You have to forgive yourself” I don’t know which of the three writers credited (Brian Duffield, Akiva Goldsman, and Mark Bomback) on Insurgent is responsible for the complete overhaul of Veronica Roth‘s source novel, but I applaud him. If not for the retention of its characters’ arcs, one could argue the majority of this cinematic version is a wholly original work. Ultimately, however, Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Four’s (Theo James) progression within the confines of a scorched Chicago is what gives Insurgent its identity. We as an audience and fans…

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The 87th Oscars recap through tweets …

I’m not sure why I keep filling myself with false hope that the Oscars will one day be an entertaining show to watch. The optimism is almost completely unfounded by this point. Whether they go weird (Anne Hathaway and James Franco), safe (Billy Crystal), hip (Seth MacFarlane), or try and steal another show’s success (Neil Patrick Harris), the result is the same. NPH should have been the shot of adrenaline the 87th Annual Academy Awards needed—a song and dance guy who’s young, fun, and funny. Sadly—and I do blame the…

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