TIFF15 REVIEW: The Ones Below [2016]

“You’re happier on the outside looking in” With comparisons to Hitchcock and Polanski, David Farr‘s directorial debut The Ones Below starts behind the eight ball straight away. There are definite moments that conjure both masters of suspense, but I’m not sure how much further they reach beyond simply sharing a genre. This isn’t the fault of the idea or actors—the former providing room for thrills and the latter enthralling in duplicitous and psychologically damaged roles—but Farr’s inexperience behind the camera. He often shifts abruptly through time in a disjointed fashion,…

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FANTASIA15 REVIEW: Observance [2016]

“Just watch and report back” You know you’ve seen something special when your only thought upon completion is whether to watch again or scour the internet for possible interpretations. This is what Joseph Sims-Dennett‘s Observance did for me. A horror/suspense filled to the brim with atmosphere and mood, its tension gradually rises like the dark liquid barely contained by a jar in the corner of the room assigned to Parker (Lindsay Farris) for his latest surveillance job. Close-ups of that same fluid dripping down the walls cut in as filler…

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Picking Winners at the 85th Annual Academy Awards

Supporting Actress:Amy Adams: The MasterSally Field: LincolnAnne Hathaway: Les MisérablesHelen Hunt: The SessionsJacki Weaver: Silver Linings Playbook William Altreuter: It often seems to me that the Best Supporting categories are where the most interesting things are to be found in the Academy Award nominations, and this year is proving me right. What we often get—especially with Best Actress in a Supporting Role—are performances that really carry the movie, even though we tend not to notice. We also get actresses showing us what they can do against type, and that display of craft and professionalism is frequently rewarded. The…

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Posterized Propaganda December 2011: Numbers and Faces

“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. December is here and the posters are many. With studio releases being pumped through NY and LA during the holidays for award consideration, the number of films coming out this…

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REVIEW: Unknown [2011]

“And that’s where I first saw Leonardo’s Vitruvian Man” I have it on good authority from a friend that Jaume Collet-Serra’s Unknown, as well as Didier van Cauwelaert’s French-language novel it’s based on, is uncannily similar to Roman Polanski’s Frantic. Unfortunately, to my chagrin, I have no opinion on the accusation, having not seen the 1988 film, but I’d lie if I didn’t admit my view of the new release is a bit tainted now. The premise of both are definitely eerily similar and my friend knows what he’s talking…

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FILM MARATHON: Movie Musicals #5: Oliver! [1968]

“Who will buy my sweet red roses?” While I’m reasonably sure I have never seen Carol Reed’s Oscar winning Oliver!, I do recall attending a live performance of it during elementary school. If you asked me two and a half hours ago to give a summation or describe my favorite moments, I would have returned the question with a blank stare of ignorance. I couldn’t even really fake it since my only connection to the source material—I never had to read Dickens in school—is Roman Polanski’s successful adaptation from a…

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REVIEW: The Ghost Writer [2010]

“It’s in the beginnings” I remember being so perplexed during the 2008 Oscars because Michael Clayton was up for Best Picture of 2007. To me it was a solid thriller and just didn’t seem to deserve the vaunted status or the company it was keeping. That all changed minutes after the completion of Roman Polanski’s newest The Ghost Writer, however. Through the entire thing I kept recalling how taut Tony Gilroy’s movie was—lean, mean, and edge of your seat thrills in the dangerous world of political intrigue. With all the…

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REVIEW: Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired [2008]

“A judge’s greedy powertrip” We all know director Roman Polanski as that guy whose wife was murdered by the Manson Family, a brilliant artist with films such as Chinatown, and a statutory rapist who fled the country and never returned. Amidst the controversial win of Best Director for The Pianist in 2002, I finally discovered the hoopla of it all; how he was given permission from a 13 year old’s mother to take photographs and how she knew what kind of life he lived yet did what she could to…

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Dorf does Babel

Corny title joke aside, author and playwright Ariel Dorfman arrived for Just Buffalo Literary Center’s second of four readings in their Babel series, and he was very humorous, very political, and very approachable. When I first heard about the series, I envisioned it to be more like this entry than the last. I liked Pamuk’s lecture about the author and his duty, but it just didn’t quite touch on his work as art itself. With Dorfman, we got anecdotes, background information, the reading of novel passages and journalistic articles, and,…

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REVIEW: Death and the Maiden [1994]

“A midnight knock at the door” Roman Polanski has always appeared to me as director who utilizes large casts and set pieces. Not quite a crafter of epics, but big pictures nonetheless. Sure his first film, Knife in the Water, was on a small scale—it was his debut. I was thinking more of The Ninth Gate, The Pianist, and Oliver Twist. Interestingly, right before that trio of large productions, he brought us Death and the Maiden, an Ariel Dorfman play using only three characters to tell its story of revenge,…

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