• Online Film Critics Society Ballot 2016

    Below is my December 31st ballot for the 20th annual Online Film Critics Society Awards honoring movies released domestically in the United States during the 2016 calendar year. Group winners are highlighted in red. Best Picture #1Moonlight. #2Manchesterby the Sea #3Arrival. #4Jackie. #5The Witch. #6Hell orHigh Water #7La La Land. #8O.J.: Madein America #9The Handmaiden. […]

  • REVIEW: فروشنده [Forushande] [The Salesman] [2016]

    “For once it looks like we’re in luck” There’s this notion that tragedy won’t happen to us. It’s for people who don’t live their lives correctly—some karmic retribution paying for mistakes made along the way. We like to believe we’re different whether such a belief is deserved or not. So when something does occur, only […]

  • REVIEW: Fences [2016]

    “A fastball on the outside corner” It seems that many people have been docking points from Denzel Washington‘s latest directorial effort Fences by labeling it as “too theatrical.” Well, that’s somewhat hard to avoid when you’re dealing with August Wilson‘s Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning play and its wall-to-wall dialogue touching upon love, responsibility, race, […]

  • REVIEW: La La Land [2016]

    “Or one more dream that I cannot make true” Writer/director Damien Chazelle burst onto the scene in 2014 on the back of his Oscar-nominated and critical darling Whiplash. It took this jazz drummer time to finally breakthrough with his sophomore feature, time that saw actors and producers taking a risk on him that would ultimately […]

  • REVIEW: Manchester by the Sea [2016]

    “I can’t beat it” It’s hard to imagine a Manchester by the Sea directed by Matt Damon and starring John Krasinski, but that was the original plan. They actually brought the idea to Kenneth Lonergan—Damon acted in one of his friend’s plays on stage and also his sophomore film Margaret. Hollywood is tough, though. Schedules […]



film reviews

BIFF16 REVIEW: 2307: Winter’s Dream [2016]

“I guess Hell finally froze over” The year is 2307 and Earth is three centuries removed from climate change transforming its surface to glacial ice. Humanity has evolved to living underground, improving technology to help sustain their tenuous ecosystem outside of the subzero temperatures. This includes insulation injections to combat cold for up to 48-hours, […]

BIFF16 REVIEW: Tony Conrad: Completely in the Present [2016]

“No LSD needed” When Tony Conrad passed away in April 2016, I knew of him as an experimental filmmaker. It’s hard to be an art student at the University at Buffalo—despite his teaching in Media Studies rather than Fine Art—and not know his name at the very least. But that was all I knew: a […]

REVIEW: A Wedding [1978]

“Death is a four letter word” It’s unfathomable to think that a film as elaborately sprawling as Robert Altman‘s A Wedding was given birth out of a joke, but that’s exactly what happened. Having some fun with an interviewer during publicity on 3 Women, the director exclaimed that his next work would be “a great […]

REVIEW: Coming Through the Rye [2016]

“Everyone loves Mercutio” Emmy-winning director James Steven Sadwith makes his feature theatrical debut with a story close to his heart. Coming Through the Rye fictionalizes his experiences as a 1969 boarding school teen and his adventure finding reclusive author J.D. Salinger. We assume liberties were taken considering the opening caption loquaciously elongates the usual “inspired […]

REVIEW: Sam [2016]

“I kinda like being the only guy in New York with a gynecologist” Even though Nicholas Brooks is about thirty years too late for his gender-swapping, chauvinistic rom-com Sam, he does end up successfully subverting expectations. Don’t get me wrong: it’s not a good movie. There are enough fades to black to make me drowsy […]

REVIEW: The Girl on the Train [2016]

“I’m not the girl I used to be” I like unreliable narrators because it’s fun to witness actions unfolding without knowing whether anything onscreen is real. The person could be a liar, schizophrenic, a secondary source ignorant to pertinent facts, or simply mistaken. So I got excited upon learning of Paula Hawkins‘ The Girl on […]

BIFF16 REVIEW: Tower [2016]

“Stay away from the university area” My first experience with rotoscope animation was probably Richard Linklater‘s Waking Life in 2001. I found it a fascinating technique retaining the live action movement and reality while allowing the room to add dream-like flourishes of fantasy that fit the frame aesthetically. You don’t care when someone’s head becomes […]

BIFF16 REVIEW: Gold Star [2016]

“I wish I could stop worrying about everything” I know what Victoria Negri‘s debut feature Gold Star is about even if it never quite finds the footing to fulfill its promise. It’s about a young woman trapped in a life she never thought she’d lead as a part-time fitness club employee who’s lost the nerve […]

REVIEW: 残菊物語 [Zangiku monogatari] [The Story of the Last Chrysanthemum] [1939]

“Wait for me” Writer/director Kenji Mizoguchi‘s Meiji period-set film about a struggling Kabuki actor and his devoted wife, 残菊物語 [Zangiku monogatari] [The Story of the Last Chrysanthemum], is a heartbreaking display of love’s power to endure no matter the external forces trying to extinguish it. For Kikunosuke Onoue (Shôtarô Hanayagi), the adoptive child of master […]

REVIEW: Milton’s Secret [2016]

“Without forgiveness the past determines who you are in the present” After finding international success with his spiritual teachings through best-selling books The Power of Now and A New Earth, author and counselor Eckhart Tolle set his sights on children in 2008 with Milton’s Secret and its blatantly synergistic subtitle to those previous works “An […]

REVIEW: Queen of Katwe [2016]

“This is a place for fighters” The story of Phiona Mutesi is perfectly tailored for a Disney-produced true-life inspirational sports drama. As a nine-year old girl living in the Katwe slum of Kampala, Uganda selling maize with her siblings to help support their single mother after their father died of AIDS, who would have expected […]

REVIEW: Phantasm [1979]

“You think when you die, you go to heaven. You come to us!” Of course J.J. Abrams would initiate the process of remastering Don Coscarelli‘s seminal Phantasm. Anyone who’s seen “Lost” will quickly notice similarities in their worlds shrouded by mystery devoid of a need or desire to provide explanation. This is what makes them […]

TIFF16 REVIEW: La Mujer del Animal [The Animal’s Wife] [2016]

“What am I paying for?” Colombia’s tourism department won’t be sanctioning Víctor Gaviria‘s La Mujer del Animal [The Animal’s Wife] anytime soon and I definitely will never be visiting to see how accurate a depiction of life there it proves. This film is two-hours of sadism at the hands of Tito Alexander Gómez Arias’ Libardo […]

TIFF16 REVIEW: Indivisibili [Indivisible] [2016]

“Can we at least see what’s possible?” It starts off so magically with conjoined twins Dasy (Angela Fontana) and Viola (Marianna Fontana) bringing hope and the word of God to the unfortunate souls languishing in poverty just north of Naples, Italy. They’re blissful when singing, eating up the attention and love from their parents Peppe […]

REVIEW: Don’t Breathe [2016]

“If we do this right we never have to do this again” The best thing you can do to distance yourself from the big budget remake of a cult classic that serves as your feature directorial debut is to pare things down and deliver an original gem of your own. Fede Alvarez took the criticisms […]