BIFF21 REVIEW: Roy’s World: Barry Gifford’s Chicago [2021]

You’re really writing history here. The concept is inspired: create a documentary about Chicago, Illinois in the 1950s by way of the fictionalized autobiographical stories written over the course of forty years by Barry Gifford—thus also making it into a documentary about the acclaimed author’s early life. Much like those stories, director Rob Christopher also seeks to use his film Roy’s World: Barry Gifford’s Chicago as a vehicle to put us into that time and place rather than simply talk about it. So while Gifford’s voice can be heard giving…

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REVIEW: The Card Counter [2021]

It’s a weight which can never be removed. William Tell (Oscar Isaac) doesn’t like to be noticed. Not because he’s a Swiss folk hero who proved his marksmanship by shooting an apple off his son’s head, but because his past is full of demons he’d just as soon leave behind during the daylight since the nightmares are coming while he sleeps either way. Card games are currently holding them at bay after an eight-year stint in Leavenworth. The counting systems he learned while in jail have made him practically unbeatable…

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Online Film Critics Society Ballot 2019

Below is my December 26th ballot for the 23rd annual Online Film Critics Society Awards honoring movies released domestically in the United States during the 2019 calendar year. Each category is ordered according to my preferential rankings. Group winners were announced on January 6th, 2020 and are labeled in red.

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REVIEW: Motherless Brooklyn [2019]

I’m chasing his footsteps. Frank Minna (Bruce Willis) was more than a boss to Lionel Essrog (Edward Norton). This man plucked him out of an orphanage wherein the nuns beat him because they believed his Tourette syndrome was a sign of wavering faith. Frank taught Lionel that anyone using God’s name to harm a child isn’t someone worth listening to, took him under his wing, and hired him (along with three other orphans in Bobby Cannavale‘s Tony, Dallas Roberts‘ Danny, and Ethan Suplee‘s Gilbert) as a gumshoe for his private…

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TIFF19 REVIEW: The Lighthouse [2019]

Bad luck to kill a seabird. You can stop yourself from worrying about story the moment you sit down for Robert Eggers‘ The Lighthouse since there is none—at least none of value besides the simple premise of two men isolated on a foggy island with nothing but their wits (and nightmares) about them. Thomas Wake (Willem Dafoe) is the seasoned veteran and thus the man-in-charge of assigning tasks. That process is simple too: he gets to man the light from evening to morning while his latest compatriot Ephraim Winslow (Robert…

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Picking Winners at the 91st Annual Academy Awards

The 91st Annual Academy Awards hits airwaves Sunday, February 24th, 2019 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: It’s the type of year where hashtags rhetoric simply won’t work. There’s just not one all encapsulating buzzword to touch upon the myriad problems these nominations face. What do you do when you have a film up for Best Picture that was directed by a known presumed sexual predator who was fired for not…

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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: Aquaman [2018]

It’s fish-MAN. Arthur Curry’s Aquaman has been known in mainstream pop culture circles as DC’s whipping boy for a long while since it’s easy to mock an orange spandex-wearing dude who talks to fish when measured against his “cooler” Justice League compatriots. “The Big Bang Theory” made jokes at his expense for a few seasons and “Entourage” decided to use the hero’s lackluster reputation as proof Vinny Chase could turn anything to gold (with James Cameron‘s help). So it was a refreshing surprise when Jason Momoa was cast for Curry’s…

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REVIEW: Vox Lux [2018]

Simply put: it was a hit. America lost its innocence on 9/11. It wasn’t an overnight thing, though. The gradual degradation of humanity on an ever-shrinking global landscape stewarded us there as school shootings and terrorist attacks grew with their weak links towards violent videogames rather than an otherwise Puritan sense of sex being worse than murder. Our repressed selves fought against growing malaise until that day provided a scapegoat to blame. We turned our internal rage onto an undeserving people suddenly reduced to their worst and smallest faction so…

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REVIEW: At Eternity’s Gate [2018]

I am my paintings. Vincent Van Gogh is quite the enigmatic figure in the art world as a man whose genius was ahead of its time. His greatest works were painted in the final two years of his life while combatting multiple psychotic breaks and asylum stays. People called his art ugly and dismissed his style as crude, but now he’s revered as a Post-Impressionist who helped expand the possibilities of modern painting in the decades since. He infamously cut off his ear, wrote long letters, and ultimately committed suicide…

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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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