REVIEW: The Abyss [1989]

“You have to look with better eyes than that” Even the most rudimentary research into the production of James Cameron‘s The Abyss yields horror story upon horror story as frustrations shattered personal lives and behind the scenes decisions fought against its genre, budget, and appeal. There’s the writer/director basing lead character Lindsey Brigman on producer Gale Anne Hurd only to find himself marrying her previous to filming, separating during pre-production, and divorcing months before it’s release date. That opening weekend itself was pushed from July until August to complete special…

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Picking Winners at the 86th Annual Academy Awards

The Oscars are generally quite boring, since we often know well in advance what is going to win Best Picture, Director, etc. But this year? Not so much. Sure, there are heavy favorites — see below. But it is entirely possible there will be some real surprises. Of course, I could be completely wrong. But if I am, hopefully Bill Altreuter and Jared Mobarak will be right. And away we go … —Chris Best ActorBruce Dern: NebraskaChiwetel Ejiofor: 12 Years a SlaveMatthew McConaughey: Dallas Buyers ClubLeonardo DiCaprio: The Wolf of Wall StreetChristian Bale: American Hustle…

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TIFF13 REVIEW: Gravity [2013]

“You should see the sun on the Ganges. It’s amazing.” Remember back in the 90s at the advent of IMAX technology how certain amusement parks would have a screen with some “experience” putting you “into the action”? Well Alfonso Cuarón has made one of those for the twenty-first century in Gravity. While I admit such a description may seem like I’m putting the film in a bad light—simplifying it to its basest aesthetic trait—I honestly mean it as a compliment. Space has always been one place to which only a…

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REVIEW: Hugo [2011]

“Where are your designated adults?” When Hugo was announced as Martin Scorsese’s next film, little was mentioned about Brian Selznick’s Caldecott Medal-winning source material, The Invention of Hugo Cabret. The big news was the auteur relishing an opportunity to helm his first family film and willingly delve into the world of 3D—a medium seen mostly as a gimmick since Avatar. These revelations kept many from seeing how perfect a fit the material was for the director: a love letter to those responsible for cinema’s genesis and a film historian who…

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The 83rd Oscars recap through tweets …

@jaredmobarak • Oscar time … congrats to The King’s Speech … why bother with the show when everyone thinks they know the winner? The 83rd Annual Academy Awards ceremony was quite possibly its worst incarnation the past decade. And things finally seemed to be going the right way. Hugh Jackman was fun; Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin were lukewarm, but the show was fun; and Neil Patrick Harris is Neil Patrick Harris. NPH can do no wrong. Much in that vein, I thought the pairing of James Franco and Anne…

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Picking Winners at the 83rd Annual Academy Awards

Spree contributing writer William Altreuter, graphic designer Jared Mobarak, and I are going to share our thoughts on this week’s Oscar nominations. Let’s kick things off with a category whose victor—Colin “Mr. Darcy” Firth—seems to have already been agreed upon. — Christopher Schobert Best Actor:Javier Bardem: BiutifulJeff Bridges: True GritJesse Eisenberg: The Social NetworkColin Firth: The King’s SpeechJames Franco: 127 Hours William Altreuter: If the Academy had wanted to make a statement Jim Carrey‘s amazing turn in I Love You Phillip Morris would have found its way onto this list. Wouldn’t that…

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REVIEW: Sanctum [2011]

“Ah … that’s not a wizard” Who knew the best way to connect an emotionally estranged father and son was to trap them inside an unmapped cave with few materials, an abundance of frenzied spelunkers, and only the hope that the river rising to suffocate them will lead to the ocean and freedom? Inspired by true events, I guess maybe I shouldn’t make light of the situation, especially since John Garvin and Andrew Wight’s screenplay contains many deaths, but I can’t look past the rather convenient way such astronomical odds…

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REVIEW: The Last Airbender [2010]

“You stand alone; that was always your weakness” Ok, The Happening was a piece of crap. There’s no denying this fact, so get on with your lives and forget Marky Mark ever attempted to be a science teacher. Many think that wasn’t M. Night Shyamalan’s first misstep, though, people have fallen away from his work since The Village—a movie I am proud to call one of my all-time favorite cinematic artworks of style, tone, and emotion. Perhaps audiences got spoiled and pigeonholed the man into a spot he could never…

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BNFF10 PREVIEW: The 4th Annual Buffalo Niagara Film Festival

Year four is here for the Buffalo Niagara Film Festival taking place at both Dipson’s Market Arcade Centre downtown and the Riviera Theatre in North Tonawanda. I’ve attended the past two entries and have been impressed by the quality of films and improvements made. 2009 saw the world premiere of Steve Coogan and Hillary Duff’s What Goes Up, a sub-par movie with only lackluster guests in attendance, but a cool event to be a part of anyway. To date, 2008’s The Cake Eaters and last year’s Boppin’ at the Glue…

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REVIEW: How to Train Your Dragon [2010]

“The offspring of lightning and evil itself” I learned something new today—Scandinavian Vikings have Scottish accents. Well, at least the adults do, the brogue seems to have withered away in the next generation of dragon slayers. Yes, dragon slaying is the main occupation of these massive brutes, doing all they can to protect their island village while the fire-breathing beasts ravaging it in search of food. What I also learned while watching How to Train Your Dragon is that studios are catching on to what makes 3D effective. Much like…

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The 82nd Oscars recap through tweets …

@jaredmobarak • NPH in sequins … i guess that’s something … The 82nd Annual Oscars ceremony begins, yet the hosts are nowhere to be found. Have we gotten to the point now where we need a lead-in for the most assuredly lame/very PC stand-up routine? We need to get the ball rolling for the ball that gets the show rolling? And they wonder why it always goes over its allotted timeslot. So, not only do we have to be introduced to all the lead acting nominees—because anyone watching doesn’t know…

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