REVIEW: Memory: The Origins of Alien [2019]

It lives in our dreams. Here’s the thing you should know up-front: Alexandre O. Philippe‘s Memory: The Origins of Alien doesn’t break new ground. No crazy revelations unknown before the documentary began production are discovered. Instead we get first-hand accounts of the struggles to get Alien made, the communal artistic synergy that ultimately helped propel it (the majority of talking head interviews), what it was like to be on-set as an actor (Tom Skerritt and Veronica Cartwright are the only participants save archival comments from John Hurt), and how critics,…

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REVIEW: All the Money in the World [2017]

‘Thank you’ is for strangers. It’s impossible to see a disclaimer at the end of an “inspired by” film reiterating with more direct language about how the “truth” has been altered without assuming the majority of what I just saw never really happened. Ridley Scott fades to black on a seething Michelle Williams before two one-sentence captions replace her with epilogue declarations that then are replaced by the caveat of taking everything with a grain of salt. It reeks of lawyer speech as though the studio anticipated backlash from those…

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REVIEW: Blade Runner 2049 [2017]

Because you’ve never seen a miracle. Survival is a selfish endeavor, but not necessarily one driven by ego. On the contrary, survival is often a selfless means to place community ahead of the individual. Look at our country’s current, abhorrent divisions along lines we should have erased decades ago or never created in the first place. As long as privilege exists and one race, gender, religion, et al holds power and sway above the rest simply because it fears relinquishing its place atop the “status quo,” rebellion is only a…

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REVIEW: Blade Runner [1982]

“All those moments will be lost in time like tears in rain” An over-populated Earth circa 2019 uses synthetic androids known as replicants for the hard labor of colonization. Their lifespans are barely four years long, their circuitry prone to fits of amoral aggression. Each subsequent version becomes stronger and smarter, the risk of mutiny forever increasing. So they’ve been outlawed on mankind’s home planet, any violator made subject to a shoot-to-kill order on behalf of the law enforcement wing known as blade runners. Amongst the violent cesspool that is…

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REVIEW: Alien: Covenant [2017]

“One wrong note eventually ruins the entire symphony” I was in the minority with Prometheus in 2012, declaring its brilliantly nuanced story diving beneath its genre conventions as the best entry in the Alien franchise since the original. It was spirituality-tinged science fiction whereas Ridley Scott‘s 1979 classic was character-based horror with palpable emotion-laden terror. Both were disparate worlds that fit together if not reliant upon each other. Scott found this new success in large part to screenwriter Damon Lindelof and the decision to scale back Alien references so that…

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REVIEW: Sueñan los androides [Androids Dream] [2015]

“I see many tears” Back in 1962 author Philip K. Dick asked the question, “Do androids dream of electric sheep?” From there director Ridley Scott brought Blade Runner to life in 1982 and today we have Spaniard Ion De Sosa commenting on the query himself with Sueñan los androids [Androids Dream]. For him the answer to Dick’s question isn’t necessarily yes to the sheep part, but it is definitively a yes to the dreams. His futuristic androids roaming about a sterile 2052 Earth dream about assimilation and equality. They dream…

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Picking Winners at the 88th Annual Academy Awards

For those handicapping at home, here are the guesses of Buffalo film fanatics Christopher Schobert, William Altreuter, and myself. Jared Mobarak: Here’s hoping Chris Rock does his best Ricky Gervais as far as not caring about political correctness or duty to kissing up to the celebrities all dressed-up nice because having him host the 2016 Oscars ceremony amidst the whole #OscarsSoWhite controversy is an opportunity not to be squandered. Two years in a row with no black actor/actress up for gold? That’s a major problem with The Academy and the…

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Online Film Critics Society Ballot 2015

Below is my December 12th ballot for the 19th annual Online Film Critics Society Awards honoring movies released domestically in the United States during the 2015 calendar year. Group winners are highlighted in red. Best Picture #1 Inside Out . #2 Carol . #3 Spotlight . #4 Ex Machina . #5 Mad Max Fury Road #6 Brooklyn #7 The Revenant #8 Room #9 The Martian #10 Sicario Best Animated Film #1 Inside Out . #2 Shaun the Sheep Movie #3 Anomalisa . #4 The Peanuts Movie #5 The Good Dinosaur…

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REVIEW: The Martian [2015]

“Mars will come to fear my botany powers” Sometimes we need a good old-fashioned feel good tale that doesn’t talk down to us for smiles to unabashedly form at the movies. Ridley Scott‘s The Martian provides exactly that. You have a healthy dose of infectious humor, life and death suspense, space exploration to an uncharted planet, and Earth coming together for hope. It’s easy to find a depressing film putting utilitarian principles to work so one man can die for the many to live, so seeing a piece that throws…

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REVIEW: 47 Ronin [2013]

“Now know the depth of my lord’s honor” There have been numerous iterations of Japan’s unofficial, national legend about forty-seven ronin who avenged their master’s death at the start of the eighteenth century spanning movies, ballets, television productions, operas, bunraku, and kabuki plays. Known as Chūshingura, the true story has been embellished over the centuries to ensure each new generation told about these brave warriors understood the themes of loyalty, sacrifice, and honor being a Japanese citizen entailed. Whether or not the first account some fifty years after the actual…

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REVIEW: Out of the Furnace [2013]

“Let me make this right” I think Scott Cooper’s Out of the Furnace has been given a bad rap by the critical world. It’s slow, laborious, and perhaps not possessed with the freshest of plots, but there is still a palpable power driving it forward courtesy of fantastic performances and a starkly authentic depiction of a forsaken region not unlike Winter’s Bone’s Ozarks. Whether it’s the gradual shutdown of a blue-collar Braddock, PA way beyond its prime in today’s America or the backwoods justice of a lawless portion of New…

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