REVIEW: Dark Waters [2019]

You think they’re gonna show me?! It’s crazy how our country protects for-profit businesses in ways that allow them to accrue astronomical profits with little to no oversight. There’s this notion that what they provide our economy outweighs the damage they inflict on our society. But who reaps that financial benefit? Rather than collect millions of dollars in taxes that could fund programs the poor need to survive, we line the pockets of the already rich and watch their trickle down faucets divert someplace else to line them thicker still.…

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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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REVIEW: Wonderstruck [2017]

It’s never the right time. What do a deaf (from birth) girl in 1920s New Jersey and hearing-impaired (due to a recent accident) boy in 1970s Minnesota have in common besides their struggle to communicate? We’ll just have to wait until author/screenwriter Brian Selznick and director Todd Haynes are ready to let us know. In the meantime we’re made to follow their parallel (albeit five decades apart) paths towards a sense of freedom the adults in their lives simply cannot comprehend. They yearn for more than existing in a 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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REVIEW: Poison [1991]

“I’ve just captured the sex drive” Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, Todd Haynes‘ directorial debut Poison is a wild, outside-the-box ride. It reminded me of David Lynch‘s Eraserhead with a surreally experimental aesthetic and odd relationships sparked between over-the-top and perhaps parodied “freaks” standing-in as metaphors for humanity’s intolerance towards the “different”. It’s three unrelated stories about sexuality told in three different styles: “Hero” as a garish TV docu-mystery; “Homo” as a gritty thriller intercut with vibrant, warped fantasy flashbacks; and “Horror” as a B-movie sci-fi flick…

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REVIEW: Velvet Goldmine [1998]

“It’s funny how beautiful people look when they’re walking out the door” What if Citizen Kane wasn’t about Charlie’s Foster Kane but instead the interviewer tasked with speaking to those in Kane’s life, mining for the meaning of “Rosebud”? This is sort of where director Todd Haynes (co-written with James Lyons) begins his fictional account of Brit glam rocker Brian Slade (Jonathan Rhys Meyers). Velvet Goldmine deals with this enigma of a star and his tumultuous life before fading completely out of the public consciousness following a misguided stunt. (Or…

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REVIEW: Far From Heaven [2002]

“Here’s to being the only one” While Todd Haynes‘ Far From Heaven wears its “inspired by All That Heaven Allows” on its sleeves from aesthetic to subject matter to blatant homage, it’s so much more. He takes what Douglas Sirk brought to life and injects it with a healthy dose of complexity and jeopardy wherein the melodrama can’t simply be defused by laughter as true love conquers a town of self-centered lemmings slaving to adhere to the homogeneity of wealthy comfort. It’s not about the guilt of one woman swaying…

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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: Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story [1988]

“What’s wrong? Do The Carpenters have something to hide?” There is something to be said about great music and the depths of hell it comes from. So many classic songs and albums were created under the influence of some drug, whether illegal or prescribed, or by a disorder of some kind, both mentally and physically. This is true of The Carpenters and their demise at the hand of lead singer Karen falling prey to an overdose of medication used to keep her anorexia going without the need of over-the-counter laxatives.…

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