REVIEW: Mary Magdalene [2018]

I wish there were a demon inside me. I’m a non-practicing Catholic who hasn’t paid attention in Church since earning my First Communion, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that the adjective my mind encounters upon hearing the name Mary Magdalene is “prostitute.” It’s the word the church purposefully utilized to erase her from Jesus Christ’s gospel and why she’s generally spoken about as little more than a distraction or even a temptation he had to combat rather than embrace. Like in a patriarchal society, this maneuver allowed a patriarchal…

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REVIEW: A Ghost Story [2017]

“I don’t remember” **SPOILERS** There’s a character (Will Oldham‘s ‘Prognosticator’) in David Lowery‘s A Ghost Story—a sparse meditation on life, love, grief, and death—who delivers a dissertation of that very film. Or at least what pedantically pretentious windbags such as he would think the film means in order to minimize art’s infinite power to profoundly and timelessly touch our souls. He goes on and on about how nothing we do matters. It’s a nihilist rant propping up the beauty of the abstract when working towards the divine only to tear…

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REVIEW: Lion [2016]

“Did you really look for my mum?” The Weinstein Company is lucky Google hasn’t moved into the film production game yet like tech giant Amazon (unless you count YouTube Red) or else they may not have secured the rights to one of 2016’s most upliftingly heart-wrenching movies of the year in Lion. We’re probably lucky too because had Google found a way to produce the true story of Saroo Brierley‘s improbable search themselves, a lot more time may have been spent on Google Earth’s role rather than the more pressing…

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REVIEW: Kubo and the Two Strings [2016]

“Memories are powerful things” The narrator of Travis Knight‘s Kubo and the Two Strings demands us to look closely and never blink. His story delivers fantastical wonders and poignant metaphors concerning family, love, and traditions to uphold if not an archaic remnant of a lost time meant to be broken. We’re to pay attention because details are intentionally only thinly-veiled, alluding to discoveries Marc Haimes and Chris Butler‘s script shortly reveal. A mirroring of roles proves critical to the tale’s resonance, our own dreams as children coaxing the real world…

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Top Ten Films of 2015: Where emotions run high

I have no problem saying 2015 was a great year for cinema. Putting together a Top Ten was difficult at every turn—both because each time I had to do so meant I had seen more films and as a result of my preferences constantly changing. There are more than a few from 11-20 that easily could be Top Ten candidates on a different day. Sadly for them that day isn’t today. Happily for us: the art’s level of quality was good enough to cause such problems. Rules: eligible feature-length films…

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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: Carol [2015]

“How many times have you been in love?” Director Todd Haynes‘ latest period romance Carol is nothing short of impeccable. From the acting to the cinematography to the art direction to Carter Burwell‘s gorgeous score, this thing is flawless in execution to the point where it should be rendered a clinically cold piece devoid of the immense emotion captured within each scene. Somehow these meticulous camera set-ups and intense expressions retain the warmth necessary to experience its characters’ love—a love in its purest form. The story is brimming with complex…

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REVIEW: Trash [2014]

“Never trust a policeman” It’s not every day that a three-time Oscar nominee for directing decides on a foreign language film to be his next project, but that’s exactly what Stephen Daldry of Billy Elliot, The Hours, and The Reader fame has done. Following in the footsteps of fellow Brit Danny Boyle—whose journey to India for Slumdog Millionaire earned his sole nomination and subsequently an Oscar win—Daldry takes on the novel Trash written by Andy Mulligan about three impoverished boys working as garbage pickers who find something in their nameless…

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REVIEW: Pan [2015]

“Is this Canada?” For whatever reason the American public has been fascinated with “origin” stories attempting to give meaning to some of the most iconic adversarial relationships in literary and film history. It’s not enough for the Wicked Witch of the West to hate Glinda or Superman and Lex Luthor to be arch-nemeses—we need to see how those relationships devolved from friendship. Sometimes people just hate each other, though, and there doesn’t need to be an Oz the Great and Powerful or “Smallville” to explain how once-friends turn ugly. Ostensibly…

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Top Ten Films of 2013: A year in cinema to write home about

2013 has been a banner year for cinema with a slew of quality pictures that makes you wonder how only nine got enough first place votes to earn an Oscar nomination for Best Picture. Most of my favorites could have filled that elusive tenth spot for some added acclaim—whether having a chance to win or not. I hadn’t even seen a good chunk of these until the calendar flipped to 2014, the sheer amount of winners was too vast. And after only awarding three films a 10/10 rating last year,…

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