REVIEW: Finding Dory [2016]

“Just follow the shells” Even though Pixar’s first sequel Toy Story 2 equaled one of its best movies (many say both sequels did, although I’d argue Toy Story 3 pales in comparison to its predecessors), not even they could keep up appearances with Cars 2 and Monsters University. It’s impossible to hit as many homeruns as they have let alone go back to the well with an idea to hope lightning strikes twice. So after the aforementioned forgettable attempts at continuing fan favorites, anticipation wasn’t high for their return to…

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REVIEW: The Secret Life of Pets [2016]

“Liberated forever, domesticated never” Illumination Entertainment’s latest film The Secret Life of Pets has an amazing hook: what do our pets do while we’re gone? We could obviously pay Comcast Xfinity to supply cameras and discover the answer to that question—why use product placement when you can show a commercial before the film that uses its characters as shills—but it’s more fun to imagine the possibilities ourselves. If you’ve seen any of the trailers you’ll know this is precisely what Ken Daurio, Brian Lynch, and Cinco Paul have decided. Their…

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REVIEW: Finding Nemo [2003]

“You mean the swirling vortex of terror?” There’s a lot happening in Finding Nemo, a fact that hindered my appreciation for it back in 2003. At its core is a story about an over-protective clownfish father and his adventurous boy yearning to break free of the constant fear that’s ruled their lives for too long. But this logline barely scratches the surface after introducing a blue tang in the Pacific without a short-term memory and an angelfish in captivity searching for freedom. When the boy (Alexander Gould‘s Nemo) is taken…

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REVIEW: Concussion [2015]

“Tell the truth” As of September of 2015 it was reported that 87 former NFL players tested positive for chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) out of the 91 deceased men researchers at Boston University autopsied. That’s almost 96%. Their study revealed that 79% of all players (professionally, semi-professionally, or college/high school athletes) examined had it—damning numbers not to be ignored and yet the NFL did for many, many years. How long and what exact details they denied, we may never know. Settlements are funny that way. It’s hardly surprising, with the…

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REVIEW: A Most Violent Year [2014]

“You’ll never do anything harder than staring someone in the eye and telling them the truth” I remember being surprised when Margin Call—the little movie that could—came out. Writer/director J.C. Chandor earned an Oscar nomination for his screenplay before heading to virtual silence with his harrowing sophomore effort, the Robert Redford-starring All is Lost, a film deemed one of the biggest Academy Awards snubs of 2013. Now that’s a lot of pressure for a young guy who just burst onto the scene and yet he decided to push the envelope…

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REVIEW: This is 40 [2012]

“I control the radio on my birthday” It’s time to accept that the words “Directed by Judd Apatow” are synonymous with “sentimental familial dramedy littered by profanity”. I probably should have come to this realization years ago, but for some reason I still held out hope he’d once more match the entertainment value of The 40 Year Old Virgin. Everyone loves Knocked Up, I know, but to me it was a slow bore with few of those indelible moments his debut etched in my mind. Funny People was an improvement—at…

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Top Ten Films of 2011: Melancholy with a slice of hope

If anyone tells you 2011 was a bad year for cinema, stop in your tracks, turn around and walk away without ever looking back. They have no idea what they’re talking about. With a wealth of quality films from bonafide auteurs devoid of source material, the sheer amount of original work is astonishing. The trend for remakes will most likely never end, but it’s good to know artists in and out of the Hollywood system are fearlessly treading their own path to make movies exciting again. And by exciting I…

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Picking Winners at the 84th Annual Academy Awards

For the next week and a half, Spree contributor William C. Altreuter, our online film reviewer Jared Mobarak, and me will share our thoughts on who will take home the Oscars. Let’s kick things off with … Best Supporting Actress. —C. S. BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:Bérénice Bejo – The Artist as Peppy MillerJessica Chastain – The Help as Celia FooteMelissa McCarthy – Bridesmaids as Megan PriceJanet McTeer – Albert Nobbs as Hubert PageOctavia Spencer – The Help as Minny Jackson Christopher Schobert: Bill, it seems like every time you and I tackle…

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REVIEW: Drive [2011]

“There are no good sharks?” Part-time stuntman, part-time mechanic, part-time wheelman, and full-time brood—this is Ryan Gosling‘s Driver. He’s a man of few words with determination stamped on his face and a code of morals that exist inside a very murky gray area blurring the line between right and wrong when loyalty comes into play. A very cerebral actioner that harkens back to director Nicolas Winding Refn‘s Valhalla Rising more than Bronson, Drive lives up to its stature of incomparable cool. This thing is slick as hell, existing in a…

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REVIEW: Morning Glory [2010]

“The anchors of the show are, ah, difficult and … semi-talented” Director Roger Michell is a sleeper. Do you recognize the name? It rang a bell with me, but I couldn’t quite place where it was attached in the past. His newest work, Morning Glory, is much the same. All the promotional material used producer J.J. Abrams and his Bad Robot shingle as selling points, leaving the director’s identity far in the distance as something of worthwhile mention. Also, if you ask five people on the street that have heard…

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