Tag Archives: Buffaloed

SCREENING BUFFALO: Curate your own Queen City-themed virtual film festival

Closed movie theaters caused even the most diehard moviegoers to change the way they experience cinema. And, as Spree explained in recent issues, the pandemic also upended film festivals locally and around the world. Many, including September’s Toronto International Film Festival, New York Film Festival, Buffalo International Film Festival, AFI Fest, and Chicago Film Festival, opted for a hybrid model. That meant many films could be watched from home, a nice treat for those craving the festival experience in dire times.

I covered TIFF, NYFF, AFI, and Chicago for Spree and BuffaloSpree.com, and watching festival entries from my sofa was rather wonderful. Plus, BIFF’s strong 2020 lineup included Dark Alley Drive-In screenings of local legend Addison Henderson’s latest, Givers of Death (GOD), as well as Buffalo State professor Meg Knowles’ Runaway.

In other words, despite some geoblocking, film fans in Western New York have had opportunities to experience new films from home. So, what’s next? How about creating your own mini-festival? It is surprisingly easy, and certainly worth more of your time than another round of My 1,000 Pound Life. There are enough Buffalo-set and Buffalo-shot entries, some recent and some older, to put you in the role of curator. 

But first, let’s establish some ground rules:

No Buffalo 66. I adore Vincent Gallo’s grimy love story. However, I’ve seen it plenty, and I’m guessing many of you have, as well. 

Sorry, The Natural—you’re out, too. See above, minus “Vincent Gallo” and “grimy.”

No Niagara. The 1950s Marilyn Monroe vehicle was famously shot in Niagara Falls, Ontario, which is noteworthy. But the film itself is not very good, and there are fresher ways to spend your movie-watching time. 

Understand that you might need to spend a few bucks to rent certain titles. A few of the titles on this list of Buffalo-centric cinema are available for free on streaming services, if you are a subscriber. Considering how much you’ve likely saved on movie tickets, dropping less than $5 on a rental does not sound so bad.

Without further ado, let’s get to the list. 

Clover (2020)

Early in the pandemic, the crime drama Clover was available for virtual rental. It came and went quickly, which was no surprise; Clover is no gem. Yet for WNYers, the film is worthy. Why? Because director/co-star Jon Abrahams is practically an honorary Buffalonian at this point. Like his first film as a director, post-9/11 drama All at Once, Abrahams shot the film in Buffalo. Unlike All at Once (which, it should be noted, is available to stream for free on Amazon Prime), Clover is set in Buffalo, as well. Spotting real locations— Voelker’s, the Central Terminal, Delta Sonic— is actually more engaging than its story of two ne’er-do-well brothers in debt to a gangster. And that’s enough for a recommendation. (Read my Buffalo News review of the film.)

Where to watch: Rent for $3.99 on Amazon or Google Play, or $4.99 on Apple TV.

Buffaloed (2020)

Ahhh, Buffaloed. The debt collection comedy drew some major buzz upon release early in 2020 for the killer performance of its star, Zoey Deutch. That praise was more than deserving. The film itself, though, is a slog. Set in Buffalo but shot in Toronto, Buffaloed painfully strives to prove its Buffalo-ness, but it’s mostly embarrassing. (A courtroom sequence in which a judge asks Deutch whether she prefers Duff’s or Anchor Bar wings is particularly cringe-inducing.) OK, so is Buffaloed worth watching? Yes, for Deutch, and because even bad Buffalo films are of interest to us locals. 

Where to watch: Free on Hulu, rent for $2.99 on Amazon or Google Play, or $4.99 on Apple TV.

Widow’s Point (2019)

The horror film starring Craig Sheffer was Buffalo-based filmmaker Gregory Lamberson’s most high-profile entry to date. It drew much praise from horror fans, and deservedly so. Interestingly, much of Point was shot at the Dunkirk Lighthouse. Very creepy, and very cool.

Where to watch: Rent for $3.99 on Amazon or Google Play, or $4.99 on Apple TV.

Cold Brook (2019)

Spree has featured Cheektowaga native William Fichtner’s directorial debut in past issues. If you’ve not yet had a chance to watch the East Aurora-shot film about friendship and the scars of history, it is streaming free on Showtime. Like the other entries on this list, part of the fun is spotting locations like the Aurora Theatre.

Where to watch: Free on Showtime, rent for $2.99 on Amazon or Google Play, or $4.99 on Apple TV.

Marshall (2017)

When Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman suddenly passed away in August, many Western New Yorkers shared stories of his kindness while shooting this Thurgood Marshall biopic in Buffalo. He gives a strong performance in a so-so film, and watching Marshall now is a reminder of his generational talent. 

Where to watch: Rent for $3.99 on Amazon, Google Play, or Apple TV.

Henry’s Crime (2010)

Yes, it seems like decades since Keanu Reeves was here in Western New York shooting this heist film. It’s adequate, at best, but now that Reeves is an even bigger star thanks to the John Wick series, it’s worth a rewatch. 

Where to watch: Free (with ads) on Crackle and Tubi, rent for $3.99 on Apple TV.

Hide in Plain Sight (1980)

One of the most enjoyable accounts on Twitter belongs to none other than the great James Caan (@James_Caan). A few months back, he shared the poster for the hard-hitting drama Hide in Plain Sight, a film he starred in and directed. It’s a strong film, one with a rep that has grown through the years. 

Where to watch: Rent for $1.99 on Amazon, Google Play, or Apple TV.

BONUS PICKS: The American Side (2016) and Disappearance at Clifton Hill (2020)

Looking for two more films with local links that you may have missed? Locals Jenna Ricker and Greg Stuhr co-wrote the Niagara Falls-set mystery The American Side, which Ricker directed. And Disappearance at Clifton Hill is an interesting (albeit very flawed) mystery that makes fine use of the Hill’s unique locations and geography. 

Where to watch: American Side: Rent for $2.99 on Amazon or Google Play, or $4.99 on Apple TV. Clifton Hill: Free on Hulu, rent for $3.99 on Amazon or Google Play, or $4.99 on Apple TV.

One final suggestions for your fest: now that local theaters have reopened, you can swing by for some concessions. Buy some legit movie theater popcorn, nestle in, and enjoy your Buffalo film festival. 

Read original piece on BuffaloSpree.com.