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Early Music Trio – Pavana – Debuts at the Montante Center

A professional debut concert of medieval, renaissance, and baroque music (on original instruments) will debut at the Montante Center on Tuesday, November 9, 2021 at 7pm. 

For anyone who is interested in this type of “early music,” The Institute for Classical and Medieval Studies at Canisius College has put together a truly special ensemble, featuring world-class musicians, musicologists, and early music specialists.

The group is called Pavana.

“Buffalo has never had early music played on original instruments before! Some of our historical instruments are hand-made by Pavana member and master luthier Daniel Yost,” said Suzanne Fatta, who founded the group in 2021, along with her partner – Yost – and Buffalo musician Roland Hayes. “Join us for a sampling of medieval, renaissance, and baroque music for multiple combinations of voice, harp, and guitars… from England to Spain, from France to Italy; enjoy a mix of early music chestnuts and hidden gems!”

Suzanne Fatta is a Contralto, musicologist and early music specialist who has performed Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque music all across Europe and North America. She is also the Founder and Artistic Director of The Women of Vivaldi, one of the few true all-female choirs in the nation.

Daniel Yost, originally from Argentina, is quickly becoming one of the most in-demand luthiers in the country. He specializes in the construction and repair of historical plucked and strummed stringed instruments. He is also a choral director and educator, who enjoys giving workshops on instrument making.

Roland Hayes, a legal aid lawyer by day, is a highly skilled early guitarist who plays theorbo, Renaissance lute, Renaissance guitar, Baroque guitar, archlute, vihuela and more. Daniel and Roland are both members of The Lute Society of America, and Pavana is part of Early Music America.

New early music trio Pavana debuts in Buffalo

Montante Center @ Canisius College

2001 Main St, Buffalo, NY 14208-1035

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

7pm

See Facebook event for additional details

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Dog-Friendly ‘Pup-Up’ @ Mid-City Apartments

I’ve been hearing a buzz about the possibility of a couple more dog parks popping up around Buffalo, which would be amazing considering that there is a huge need. While there are amazing dog escapades outside the city, including Dog Island and Knox Farm, the city could really use some more dog-friendly features and services.

At Midcity Apartments, tenants now have a cute and ingenious dog station that not only provides dog-washing conveniences, it’s also designed to look and act like a “micro” dog park. There’s faux grass, walkways, park-like murals, and even a fire hydrant, not to mention the convenient dog washing station. It’s the perfect amenity for tenants who have four-legged friends, who are either always on the go, aren’t fans of walking their pups on icy sidewalks in winter time, or who simply want to keep their dogs’ coats clean year round.

Take a tour on TikTok…

@roryallenNow dogs can take care of business inside. ##buffalony ##wallgraphics♬ Mister Rogers Neighborhood (Won’t You Be My Neighbor?) – Sleepy Kids Biz

It’s not often that you come across an apartment complex that actively promotes the dog-friendly factor. Typically, it’s people first, and dogs second. In this case, the operators are seeking people with pets, which is pretty awesome.

This new ‘pup-up’ convenience was created by the team at Mid-City Apartments (Sinatra & Company Real Estate), along with Rory Allen at ZoomBuffalo.com, who put together the park mural.

Bow-wow! A miniature indoor dog park, under construction

“We wanted to do something a little bit different,” said Nick Sinatra, founder Sinatra & Company Real Estate. “The dogs can even do their business in there – the floor has a drain, and the faux grass simply gets washed down. Similar to a dog park, responsible owners take care of the rest. We figured that we had some extra space, so why not? Buffalo is a dog city. It seems as if everyone living in the city has a pet of some kind.”

‘Life’s ruff’: A miniature indoor dog park, under construction
“C’mon, I gotta go now!” Photo by Sophie Elvis

“It’s a nice convenience,” added Rory. “It’s not always easy to find a green space in the city, so this is nice for a pet owner because it’s quick and reliable. And sometimes a dog needs to go in the middle of the night, or on a blustery winter’s day. I think it says a lot about the apartment building too – you can say that you’re pet friendly, or you can make a real effort to be pet friendly.”

The more I thought about this convenient dog-forward amenity, the more I thought about the first floor commercial spaces that recently came online. If there’s anyone in Buffalo looking to do a business venture pertaining to pets, this would be a great spot. There would be plenty of room for the dogs to roam… maybe a doggy daycare, with a dog-friendly bar or café for owners who want to socialize? The city could sure use something like that. At this point, the commercial spaces are pretty much concrete shells, which is a great start for anything involving dogs. One of them even has access to a patio. And there’s already a doggie pitstop in the building!

There are 50 apartments in the Mid-City building, 40 of which are leased out. I would imagine that the last ten apartments will soon be spoken for by pet owners, once the word gets out.

Commercial inquiries: Rod Nagy | Pyramid Brokerage Company | 716-852-7500 x130 | rnagy@Pyramidbrokerage.com

Residential leasing, inquire here.

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Absolute Health & Wellness (and juice bar) signs up at The Hotel @ The Lafayette

A Buffalo father and son team has signed up to open and operate a fitness club at The Hotel @ The Lafayette. Zack Waller and his son Lazairick Waller came across the “perfect location” for their business after conducting a year-long search.

Called Absolute Health & Wellness, the fitness club will concentrate on personal training and massage therapy. It will also feature a juice bar, serving up healthy shakes, smoothies, and meal prep packages. You don’t have to be a member of the club to enjoy the juice bar offerings, but members will get discounts, according to Zack. He also mentioned that there will be a capped membership at the club, along with ‘his and hers’ showers, bathrooms, changing rooms, and lockers.

“I’ve been training for years,” Zack told me. “Lazairick is a massage therapist and a trainer. We’re from Buffalo, and we’re excited to be a part of the big things that are happening at that corner. There’s a lot of momentum building, with the new food market, the apartments, and other developments. It’s like a godsend – we fell in love with the space as soon as we saw it. We have a passionate and motivated team that is ready to get going on this. Most of the equipment has been delivered – we’re doing pre-membership bookings at the moment. People are excited to hear about all of the different offerings and packages – Absolute Health & Wellness is here to help people get fit in Downtown Buffalo.”

Zack and Lazairick are planning to host a soft opening for Absolute Health and Wellness on Monday, October 11.

Stay tuned to Facebook for additional information, and stop by on the 11th to learn more about the fitness club, the juice bar, and the package deals.

Absolute Health and Wellness has a dedicated entrance at the corner of Ellicott and Clinton (lead image), directly across from the Buffalo Central Library

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Inaugural Holiday Art & Craft Show at The Stables @ Knox

It’s not everyday that you get to attend a highly regarded arts and craft show at an inspirational venue the likes of The Stables at Knox Farm State Park.

That’s right, for the first time ever, there will be a Holiday Arts and Crafts Show held upstairs and downstairs inside the historic Stables – a fascinating new (yet very old) venue that is unfamiliar to most Buffalonians. 

Altogether, there will be over 80 vendors featured at this inaugural event, which will showcase decor, gift items, and artwork that revolve around a trifecta of holidays – Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas!

It’s essentially a one-stop-shop for anyone looking to get a headstart on 2021 holiday shopping.

Aside from all of the shopping opportunities, guests to the two-day event will get to enjoy a plethora of other pleasurable delights, offered up by the following show sponsors:

Angel Guided Healing
Donuts from Paula’s Donuts
A café pop-up presented by Taste Bistro & Coffee Bar
Food by Frontier Catering
Aurora Liquors

There will be indoor café seating situated in the “gorgeous tack room,” as well as outdoor seating. 

While at the park, guests can enjoy a bite to eat at:

Cheesy Chick’s food truck on Saturday from 11am – 4pm

Fat Bob’s food truck on Sunday from 11:30am – 2:30pm

Best of all, the funds raised at the Holiday Art & Craft Show will be dedicated to park improvements. What more could you ask for? After all, Knox Farm has become a very special place in the hearts, minds, and souls of so many people over the years, whether they are fans of the dog park (voted the Best Dog Park in WNY) or the wedding venue (voted Best Outdoor Wedding Venue in WNY). A trip to Knox Farm is truly unique.

There’s a lot to look forward to on Saturday October 23rd and Sunday October 24th from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm (each day). So get your shopping and gift lists ready, and prepare for a seasonal excursion unlike anything else that you have come across in Greater Buffalo. 

The show will run from 9 am-4 pm each day at the Stables.  Admission to the show is $5.00 and valet parking is available for $10. Reserve your spot here. 100 shoppers will be allowed inside every hour, to ensure there is no congestion as well as social distancing.  Masks are suggested to keep everyone safe.  Please dress appropriately for the weather since the 1st floor is not heated.  Check out www.friendsofknoxfarm.org/events for more information.

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Some facts, observations and heard-on-the-streets

Twenty-eight days until Election Day. Campaign financial reports have been released. The Walton campaign again fails to disclose the sources of tens of thousands of dollars in contributions.

What’s happening in the elections for county comptroller, sheriff, Hamburg supervisor?  Here are some facts, observations and heard-on-the-streets:

The campaign financial reports show a wide gap between Byron Brown and India Walton both for money raised and money spent. In the period from July 11 through September 27th Brown raised $831,280 and spent $555,559, which included $121,000 in recent TV ads. Walton collected $442,531 and paid out $229,498.
Once again the Walton campaign is failing to disclose many donors’ names, this time to the tune of $142,571. Combined with previous reports the total of unclassified contributions to Walton this year, where the names of donors are not disclosed, amounts to $253,209.
They are deferring to a legal technicality that contributions of under $100 need not be identified. The campaign does, however, itemize scores of donations of less than $100.
Most campaigns will report a tiny amount of unclassified contributions. Brown, out of $831,280 raised, listed only $100 that does not identify the donor. The amount of contributions being hidden by Walton is well beyond anything that anyone has ever seen in Western New York.
Do the math. There would need to be at least 1,440 contributions of $99 or less to cover that hidden $142,571. Why would 1,440 contributors to Walton wanted their donations hidden?
So we are left to speculate: are some very rich donors trying to influence the election in Buffalo? The Walton campaign can clear this up by fully disclosing their contributors. Failure to do so destroys their credibility. Absent that transparency the state Board of Elections should investigate why the committee is failing to disclose the sources of more than a quarter million dollars in contributions.
As of September 27th Brown’s treasury had $464,157; Walton had $360,182 available. The next reports are due on October 22nd.
Brown’s money came largely from businesses and developers. Walton raised a large amount of her funds from outside of Western New York.
Write-in candidate for mayor Ben Carlisle raised $2,225 and spent $2,486. There is no campaign financial report on record for Jaz Miles.
The mid-September poll from a Kansas City firm, co/efficient, showed Brown with a 31 percent lead over Walton. Candidate favorable/unfavorable ratings track those horse race numbers closely, with Brown’s favorables outweighing his unfavorables by 33 percent while Walton’s ratings were negative by 20 percent. The poll was conducted seven weeks out from the election and questions can be raised about the demographic mix used or political leanings of the polling firm, but the margin in Brown’s favor is too large to be ignored. BTW Stefan Mychajliw paid co/efficient $10,000 for some recent polling.
Brown’s TV ad suggesting that there will be Police Department layoffs under a Walton administration (denied by Walton) ran for a couple weeks unchallenged by Walton paid media. The ad has had an impact, allowing Brown to define her on an important issue. Her first TV spots, which started on September 30th, are hard hitting against Brown while also trying to be biographical.
Walton once again declined a TV debate. Noting that Brown had done the same thing during the primary campaign is a fair observation, but when after nine months you are still a relatively unknown challenger who is proposing major changes in the way the city operates it would seem to be helpful to accept any forum that gives you an opportunity to discuss how you plan to run city government.
A totally unscientific view of things from the signs-don’t-vote perspective: there are many more Brown signs on display throughout the city than there are Walton signs. It appears to be the case from the south side to the north side, from the west side to the east side. It is most noticeable in South Buffalo, where Brown signs seem to be everywhere.
The mayoral general election, an unusual fall event in Buffalo, will have some impact on countywide races because of the expected higher than usual turnout in Buffalo. There are 83,000 Democrats who weren’t heard from in the primary election plus about 50,000 Republican, Working Families and Conservative parties’ member and unaffiliated voters. Both Walton and Brown will have a shot at attracting more Democrats plus the unaffiliated. To the extent that they come out to vote Republicans and Conservatives will probably favor Brown by a large margin. Extra Democratic voters will help the party’s candidates for sheriff and comptroller while Republicans coming out to vote for mayor are more likely to support John Garcia for sheriff and Lynne Dixon for comptroller.
The sheriff’s race is as muddled as it has been all year. There is continued animosity between Republicans who supported Karen Healy-Case and those who supported Garcia in the primary. Healy-Case is not cooperating with the Garcia camp. She won’t attract a large number of votes on the Conservative line but whatever number she receives would probably otherwise go to Garcia. DiNoto is working to draw support from folks who do not want a major party candidate in the sheriff’s office. A DiNoto supporter points out that all sheriff candidates coming from the Buffalo Police Department (Garcia, Healy-Case and Beaty are former Buffalo officers) have failed over the past 30 years. DiNoto is an Amherst police officer.
From the campaign financials, Garcia has raised an additional $249,107 and has $190,868 in his campaign account. Beaty collected $90,111 and has $50,540 remaining at the moment. DiNoto raised $44,739 and has $50,400 in his treasury. Healy-Case has $3,610 left in her campaign account.
The race for county comptroller has been very quiet. This observer has seen no serious discussion about how best to run the office. Democrat Kevin Hardwick has raised $41,088 in the past two and half months and has $72,391 to spend. Republican Lynne Dixon collected $39,911 and had $80,193 remaining as on September 27th.
In Hamburg there is a spirited race for supervisor going on between Democrat Randy Hoak and Trumplican Stefan Mychajliw. Hoak has strong support from his town committee. Mychajliw continues to spend a good deal of his time tweeting about such things as his protests against requiring students to wear masks in schools, despite rising infection rates. He sends out some of his political statements on Comptroller Office letterhead.
Mychajliw once again filed his financial report as a candidate for comptroller rather than supervisor. Mychajliw has $19,408 in his treasury while Hoak has $28,771.
Interesting observation: Lynne Dixon has worked for Mychajliw for about two years as one of his deputies, making over $90,000 per year. She lives in Hamburg. There is no Mychajliw sign on Dixon’s lawn; for that matter there are no signs for any other town or countywide candidates.
Mychajliw’s home in Hamburg currently has three campaign lawn signs: one for himself plus signs for candidates for highway superintendent and the town board. No signs for Dixon or Garcia.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was in Buffalo for a fundraiser last week. It probably netted him $100,000+. The strange thing is there were no media interviews of DeSantis that I am aware of. Were the Republicans nervous about having him explain his backward COVID policies to a community that has demonstrated its commitment to mask-wearing and vaccinations to protect public health?

Ken Kruly writes about politics and other stuff at politicsandstuff.com. You can visit his site to leave a comment pertaining to this post.

Follow Ken on Twitter @kenkruly

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9 Pumpkin Patches for Fall Outings in WNY

Pumpkins are to fall, what trees are to Christmas. They’re the symbol of the season. And just as I would head out to the country to hand-select my Christmas tree, so is true for my pumpkins. Every year, my family is on the hunt for that perfectly round, perfectly plump, bright orange fruit (yep, fruit. Look it up.) to adorn our front porch… and then attack with a carver’s knife.

If you’re making a visit to Western New York this fall and looking for some of the local’s favorite pumpkin patches, here’s where to head:

Great Pumpkin Farm

The fall harvest is upon us and there’s no better way to celebrate than taking a trip out to Clarence for their annual Fall Festival. Munch on a candied apple, pick out the biggest pumpkin to carve, wander through their enormous Bills-themed corn maze and take a spooky haunted hayride at this family-fun event.

11199 Main Street, Clarence | greatpumpkinfarm.com

Kelkenberg Farm

Despite being open year-round, even the Kelkenberg family would admit that autumn is one of the best times to visit the Farm. Admission to their Clarence farm includes a hayride, pony rides for children, visiting all animals in the barns, a pumpkin from the patch, bouncing on the giant bounce pad (weather permitting) and many other barnyard activities.

9270 Wolcott Road, Clarence Center | kelkenbergfarm.com

Becker Farms

One of the most popular fall destinations in Western New York! If you’re traveling on the weekend, buy your tickets in advance to their ‘Fall Fun at the Farm’ event that includes a credit towards the pumpkin of your choice, amongst a variety of other autumnal activities like corn mazes, farm animal exhibits, jumping pillows, rope mazes and a beer garden for adults!

3724 Quaker Road, Gasport | beckerfarms.com

Awald Farms

Their Giant Pumpkin Patch is now open for the season. As the name suggests, they have an incredible selection of pumpkins, jack-o-lanterns, gourds, white pumpkins, squash, homemade treats and more. Savor your favorite season and snap some family photos in their sunflower fields and pumpkin patch too.

10692 Walnut Avenue, North Collins | (716) 337-3162

Wheatfield Pumpkin Farm

If this adorable little pumpkin farm doesn’t put you in the mood for fall, nothing will. Pick a pumpkin from their patch, enjoy a daytime hayride and get lost in the corn maze.

6920 Nash Road, North Tonawanda | (716) 693-6407

Harris Farm

The smell of fresh donuts and pies out of their bakery oven will lead you straight to Gasport and Harris Farm. Their pumpkin selection comes in all shapes and sizes to fulfill your fall decorating needs.

8481 Ridge Road, Gasport | (716) 772-5229

Akron Acres

It’s the antique tractor drawn hayride to their pumpkin patch that sets Akron Acres apart from others. Hayrides begin Saturday, September 26th in September and continue every Saturday and Sunday (plus Columbus Day) through October 24th. During the weekends the animal barns are open, pony rides are available for the kids and the corn maze is open.

12607 Stage Road, Akron | akronacres.com

Greg’s U-Pick

This Clarence farm has some of the most unique fall experiences in town. The U-Pick pumpkin patch opens October 1st. Enjoy a scenic wagon ride right through the heart of their 120+ acre farm to the “Back 40”. Your admission includes a u-pick pumpkin as big as you can carry, access to the corn maze, a corn crib where kids can play in their shelled corn pit, pumpkin bowling, pumpkin tic tac toe, pumpkin checkers and more! Greg’s has thousands of pumpkins to choose from!

9270 Lapp Road, Clarence Center | gregsupick.com

Pumpkinville

With a name like Pumpkinville, how could it not be on your pumpkin hit list? This 200-acre farm near Ellicottville puts you in the autumnal mood with its panoramic views of gorgeous fall foliage. Watch the apple cider making process, enjoy the farm animals and choose the perfect pumpkins from the thousands available. For the full farm experience, use their pumpkin barrows and explore their five acre patch. 

4844 Sugartown Road, Great Valley | pumpkinville.com

The post 9 Pumpkin Patches for Fall Outings in WNY appeared first on Visit Buffalo Niagara.

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Input Sought on Three Mohawk Ramp Finalists

The City of Buffalo has narrowed the number of proposals for redeveloping the Mohawk Ramp site from six to three.  According to a Selection Committee, the three proposals that best met the evaluation criteria were:

BFC Partners and CB Emmanuel Realty
Douglas Development
SAA EVI, McGuire Development and Passero Associates

Dropped from consideration were:

Gold Wynn and Colby Development
Savarino and 34 Group
Uniland Development

The City is now seeking resident input on the three finalists.

“The Mohawk Parking Ramp site presents a unique opportunity to create a substantial mixed-use development near some of Buffalo’s largest office buildings, prized entertainment and restaurant venues, and transit, including the NFTA metro rail and numerous NFTA bus lines,” Mayor Brown said. “Now we want to hear from the public on the proposals submitted by the three finalists. This is a great opportunity to have a voice in what will be a game-changing project in the heart of downtown Buffalo.”

The public can learn more about the proposals from the three development team finalists, including overviews and key element highlights, and take the proposal survey by visiting: www.buffalony.gov/Mohawk.

The survey will be live for comment submissions through Friday, October 8, 2021 at 5 p.m. Comments are limited to 1000 characters. All comments will be shared with the Mayor’s Office of Strategic Planning Development Team and members of the Mohawk Ramp Selection Committee.

The 629-space parking ramp, which was built in 1959, occupies a 1.1-acre site along Mohawk Street between Ellicott and Washington Streets.

The Finalists:

BFC Partners and CB Emmanuel Realty (entry image and below)

Components:

203 affordable units
23,113 sq.ft. of commercial space
Mix of restaurant, fitness center, flagship retail or co-working space
285 parking spots
Visual activation of Mohawk Street
GO bike long term parking facilities
Partnering with GO Buffalo Niagara/Go Bike Buffalo

Douglas Development

Components:

600 residential units total on multiple sites
200 new apartments and 300 new parking spaces above the existing parking garage with 10 percent dedicated to affordable housing
1,500 sq.ft. café along Mohawk Street
1,500 sq.ft. R&D Lab on the ground floor that will on-cover the future of mobility in Buffalo
1,500 sq.ft. floor retail along Washington Street
Over 800 parking spaces total on the site
Redevelopment and adaptive reuse of the Simon properties near the Mohawk Ramp site providing 400 new apartments with 10 percent dedicated to affordable housing and additional ground floor retail

SAA EVI, McGuire Development and Passero Associates

Components:

233 apartments; 168 will be income-restricted
Existing parking structure removed
268 new parking spaces on three levels
6,500 sq.ft. ground floor retail
Mohawk Commons Incubation Hub to focus on M/WBE start-ups
2,300 sq.ft. 13th floor restaurant
Mobility Alley along the northern property line create an east-west mobility spine to promote foot traffic through the site
Interior courtyard located at the center of the building

Proposal evaluation criteria includes:

A. Quality of Plan

Must incorporate transportation and justify use choices that reflect high demand for transit access to downtown and downtown living
Preference for proposal that incorporate housing, including affordable housing
Diversity and inclusion must be incorporated and must demonstrate a plan for meaningful participate from certified MWBE, workforce participation, or mentor protégé opportunities at all project levels (financing, management, design and construction

B. Experience and Qualifications

Experience in working with and partnering with communities, neighbors and business stakeholders
Neighborhood economic development & job creation
Diversity within the development team

C. Financial Considerations

Complete budget, sources and uses and a reasonable development budget
Financial feasibility based on reasonable development and operating proforma
Demonstrated financial capacity to complete the project

D. Competitive Preferences

Preference given to mixed-use developments that incorporate affordable housing
Proposals that envision creative and cost-effective solutions for structured parking transportation centers will be favorable
Submissions with strong community engagement plans and that meet or exceed MWBE goals will be more favorable
Submissions that consider an activation of the street level and increase urban vibrancy while facilitating pedestrian and bicycle friendly streetscape will be more favorable
Submissions that consider overall improvement to the public realm will be more favorable

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Big Reveal: Simon Electric Plans

Douglas Development has tipped its hand on what redevelopment of the Simon Electric properties downtown could entail.  Renderings and massing were included in the developer’s Mohawk Ramp RFP package.  Douglas Development has the Simon Properties under contract. The properties were first put up for sale in 2019. Despite strong interest, Simon never completed a deal. The holdings include seven buildings with 80,500 sq.ft. of space and a total 1.78 acres of property.

Douglas’ plans call for 400 residential units and commercial space on the Simon sites and 200 units on the Mohawk Ramp parcel.  Ten percent of the units would be affordable.

Back of Burns Building addition, looking north on Ellicott.

Development would occur in three phases over three years beginning with a two-level addition to the parking ramp and reuse of the Burns Building at 25 E. Huron Street with a new structure on the parking lot next to it along Ellicott Street

Phase two includes 250 units along the east side of Ellicott Street north of E. Huron Street while preserving existing historic structures.

The third phase would see 200 units on four levels added to the top of the new Mohawk Ramp.  Total project cost is estimated at $153 million. Developer Douglas Jemal says he will move forward with his plans even if his proposal for the Mohawk Ramp site is rejected in favor of one of the two remaining competing plans.

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Five Cent Cine: No Sudden Move

In an opening scene that introduces one of the main themes of Steven Soderbergh’s aspiring noir thriller, Curt Goynes (Don Cheadle), a thoughtful, wary, and armed ex-con, struggles to determine if he can trust a white guy named Jones (Brendan Fraser), who has offered him a lot of money ($3,000 in 1954, when the film is set) for 3 hours of “baby-sitting.” More decisions about trust follow. Can Curt trust and work with enigmatic Ronald Russo (Benicio Del Toro) and hot-headed Charley (Kieran Culkin, who here inhabits much the same role as the irresponsible, smartest-guy-in-the-room jerk he portrays in the TV drama, “Succession”)?  

As savvy and calculating as Curt is, there’s no predicting the unpredictable. Walter Neff (Fred MacMurray) found out the hard way in the noir classic “Double Indemnity” (1944), when his plan to commit a murder and fake a suicide runs up against a stranger occupying the train’s normally empty rear platform. In “He Walked by Night” (1949), the protagonist is shot by police when a car randomly parked on a manhole cover prevents his escape. 

Left to right – Don Cheadle as Curt, and Benicio Del Toro as Ronald

There’s more than contingency to writer Ed Solomon’s script (“Men in Black” [1997] and the Bill and Ted series). Curt, Russo, Charley, and the bean-counting accountant Matt Wertz (David Harbour) are all guilty of over-reaching, of wanting more from life—more from a given situation than it ought reasonably be expected to produce, of continually imagining how their world might be rearranged to yield more (usually more money or more sex or more of both). The implication is that overreaching is a universal human condition. Big-shot investor Mike Lowen (an uncredited Matt Damon) makes this all too clear in his own moment of over-reach—this one into the pitfall of the didactic—lecturing Curt and Ronald across an enormous corporate boardroom table on their failure to recognize that they have no control, that real power resides with those above them (whether mafia bosses or business moguls)—and always will.

Of the dozens of characters in the film, there aren’t many one can care about.  Curt and Ronald are major presences (and the beneficiaries of understated performances by acting pros), to the point where it could be tempting to label “No Sudden Move” a “buddy film”—except that no real bond of intimacy is formed, and Ronald is only too ready to sacrifice Curt for his own greed. Matt Wertz, like Walter Neff, is not so much evil as naïve and in over his head, but he’s too comically pathetic to warrant our embrace. Curt, for all his faults and failures of judgment, appears to have some moral core, one that’s recognized (for our benefit) by an old girlfriend and, thankfully, an instinct for survival. With the exception of the Damon character, who seems cut and pasted into the script, we’re offered life’s lessons from people on the bottom rung of the organized crime ladder, all of whom are presented as unimportant and dispensable. Curt is a protagonist with whom we can empathize, but only barely.

The prolific and award-winning Soderbergh seems most interested in being slavishly faithful to the “Madmen”-like settings and atmosphere of dimly-lit Detroit in the mid-1950s (to the point of bringing back Jon Hamm in a detective role, with a slight-enough presence that we don’t care about him—or the perspective of law enforcementeither). 

Among other shortcomings is the failure to create full-fledged female characters.

Among other shortcomings is the failure to create full-fledged female characters. The women in the film are stereotypes, whether of the era or the noir genre. Matt’s wife, Mary (Amy Seimetz) is a dysfunctional housewife, overwhelmed by life’s daily requirements, addicted to booze and smoking, though she somehow summons the self-composure to offer her husband a puff on her cigarette in a touching late scene that’s as close to “making the couple” as the screenplay can manage. The “girl” in the office, Paula, and crook Frank Capellli’s wife Vanessa (Frankie Shaw, Julia Fox and Ray Liotta as Frank)—seem to want nothing more than to have money and an affair with someone—Wertz or just some guy named Phil, though they are also classic noir femme fatale types, pushing the men in their lives to over-reach and, in Vanessa’s case, willing to kill to have her way.

The plethora of characters is matched by an overly complex, intentionally obtuse plot that circulates around two much-valued documents: a ten-year-old notebook of mafia contacts; and specifications for a recently invented device—a catalytic converter—which the auto companies have conspired to keep secret so they don’t have to improve their gas guzzlers. The politics and economics of the catalytic converter are not central to the film, but they are part of a rudimentary critique of capitalism that includes off-handed and brief racial takes on urban renewal, bank red-lining, and anti-Semitism. More important than these minor references to capitalist abuses is the film’s equivalence of big business and the mafia—as if they were simply different versions of the same evil. 

As one might expect from Soderbergh (“Sex, Lies and Videotape” [1989] and “Logan Lucky” [2017]), the film has its quirky elements and its tense moments. But they’re not enough to save “No Sudden Move” from being just another noir movie (hardly a “thriller”), this one gussied up with elaborate period furnishings and fashions and a famous actor speechifying in a cameo role. You might be better off watching Walter Neff squirm. 

Lead image: Three petty crooks meet in an Italian restaurant. Left to right – Ray Liotta as Frank, Benicio Del Toro as Ronald, and Don Cheadle as Curt.”​

Date: 2021

Stars: 2.5 (out of 4)

Director: Steven Soderbergh

Starring: Don Cheadle, Benicio Del Toro, Kieran Culkin, David Harbour, Amy Seimetz, Frankie Shaw, Matt Damon, Ray Liotta

Other Awards: None to date

Runtime: 115 minutes

Country: United States

Availability: released in theaters July 1 and streaming on HBO Max; for future availability, see JustWatch here.

See all Five Cent Cine reviews by 2 Film Critics

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15th Annual Buffalo International Film Festival

WNY film lovers are over the moon about the 15th Annual Buffalo International Film Festival. For years, film aficionados and fans calmored for a first rate film festival in Buffalo, and now they have it. For 15 years, organizers of the Buffalo International Film Festival have been building up momentum, as this city has rallied behind the film industry. A combination of steady acclaimed film productions and notoriety as a pro-film city has enabled Buffalo to emerge onto the international stage as a force to be reckoned with. The icing on the cake is a film festival that is now screening over 120 films from 24 countries, including some notable works hailing from Buffalo. Incredibly, this has all been orchestrated despite the pandemic. The 2021 festival will be held in person, and virtually online, allowing everyone to participate in some fashion.

The film festival brings numerous filmmakers from around the world to the city to celebrate their latest films.

‘It’s been a long, hard pandemic for all – and now it’s time to have some good times and (safe) fun together! Every film presented in a theater will have filmmakers in attendance, many from out-of-town,” touted Executive Director Anna Scime. “Every film in this lineup is amazing – in the theater and online – and we’re beyond grateful and honored to present these incredible works this year.  We want to show these filmmakers and our community the love that they deserve and for those from out of town, some good ol’ fashioned Buffalo hospitality, as we safely collect and celebrate together!”

Adding to the excitement, the in-person screenings at this year’s festival will be held at a number of highly coveted and unique theatrical locations such as the North Park Theatre, Burchfield Penney Art Center, Duende at Silo City, and The Tralf – as well as virtually via the Eventive digital cinema platform.

^ An opening night presentation of Catch The Fair One, the Tribeca Film Festival winning thriller filmed in Buffalo, with star Kali Reis and producer Kimberly Parker presenting the film. Film produced by Nomadland and The Rider.

 

Headlining features include Catch The Fair OneBitchin’: The Sound and Fury of Rick James100 Years From MississippiWe Burn Like ThisRust Belt Driller, and Bad Attitude: The Art of Spain Rodriguez.

“We have amazing films and makers, as well as panels, offscreen events and more going on Oct 7-11 at venues throughout the City of Buffalo,” continued Scime. “We’ll be masking in venues and using best practices to keep everyone safe and healthy, but we’ll also be having a really great time together watching, thinking and talking film, dancing, and engaging with art in many forms.  We hope the public can come out and support these filmmakers, and the festival! I think that this is collectively something that we all need right now.”

“We look forward to welcoming new and old friends back to BIFF to celebrate our fifteenth anniversary and our official selections,” said Artistic Director John J. Fink. “Great storytellers have found innovative ways to stay creative and it has been very exciting to see how filmmakers have adapted to the challenges we’ve collectively faced.”

“We were very fortunate to have the support of Buffalo to carry us through a tough year during the pandemic,” noted board member Keith Poplawski. “Like so many other organizations, being presented with the challenges of 2020 forced us to adapt and we ultimately went virtual. In doing so, it created a new opportunity for us to explore in streaming capabilities and a way for us to present our local, domestic, and international filmmakers to a broader audience with more viewing options. This year, we are able to do both, online and in-person, giving our filmmakers and audience the most flexibility as we take the first steps forward to put covid behind us.

“Buffalo’s support is crucial to our survival. Every year, we challenge ourselves to align with the flourishing filmmaking and production community locally. This requires us to examine where we can best position ourselves to create more educational opportunities for internships and panels, provide experience with staff hiring and development, and expand our range of partners and programming. We also recognize and take our role in welcoming filmmakers to the city very seriously. Buffalo makes it easy on us to use hospitality to set us apart from other film festivals so we always want to make sure we can deliver one the city and region can be proud to call its own. I am very proud of our partners, staff, and sponsors in presenting this lineup for 2021.”

Tickets and passes are on sale now at WWW.BUFFALOFILM.ORG including the all-access Bison Pass ($45) and Triptych Virtual (3 virtual screenings for $20). Individual tickets to live screenings with filmmaker Q+As are $12 and virtual screenings are $9.

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