REVIEW: Bad Times at the El Royale [2018]

Why even have a bell? Writer/director Drew Goddard‘s affinity for voyeuristic set-ups continues with Bad Times at the El Royale‘s “pervert hotel” aesthetic. His first feature-length screenplay (Cloverfield) was found footage, his directorial debut (The Cabin in the Woods) had a two-way mirror as well as a science fiction surveillance conceit, and now we get a hidden corridor of nefarious delights on the border of California and Nevada with windows spying upon every guest who so chooses the titular accommodations to rest his/her head. You can’t blame him for returning…

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REVIEW: Only the Brave [2017]

“Decide what you live for and what you can live without” Interagency Hotshot Crews are twenty person teams of Type 1 firefighters that exceed all experience, training, and fitness requirements of that designation. Originated in the 1940s to combat wildfires on a national level, these groups move all over the country to suppress flames and save cities in need. They’re to firefighters what Navy SEALs are to the military. You call them to get the big jobs done and as such are formed for that specific purpose on a federal…

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REVIEW: Kingsman: The Golden Circle [2017]

“There’s no room for emotion in this scenario” When Kingsman: The Secret Service debuted, comparisons to creator Mark Millar‘s other comic book to cinematic adaptation Kick-Ass were obvious. How the latter spun the superhero template, the former spun stylish James Bond-type spy actioners. It was all high-concept insanity with a kid from the wrong side of the tracks proving courage, heroism, and finesse weren’t as much a product of environment as they were personality and the capacity to overcome one’s disadvantages. There was a sweet surrogate father/son dynamic too with…

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Picking Winners at the 89th Annual Academy Awards

The 89th Annual Academy Awards hits airwaves Sunday, February 26th, 2017 at 8:30pm on ABC. Buffalonians can watch it from the comfort of their home or take a trip down to these local destinations: • The Screening Room, The Boulevard MallFree (doors open at 7:00pm)• Buffalo State College, Campbell Student UnionFree with Student ID, $10 general public (doors open at 8:00pm)• Q, 44 Allen StreetFree (Red Carpet party begins at 6:00pm) For those handicapping at home, here are the guesses of Buffalo film fanatics Christopher Schobert, William Altreuter, and myself.…

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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 #1 Moonlight . #2 Manchester by the Sea #3 Arrival . #4 Jackie . #5 The Witch . #6 Hell or High Water #7 La La Land . #8 O.J.: Made in America #9 The Handmaiden . #10 Paterson . Best Animated Film #1 Kubo and the Two Strings #2 Moana . #3 Finding…

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REVIEW: Hell or High Water [2016]

“I ain’t speeding” It wasn’t long after his run as above-board Deputy Chief David Hale on “Sons of Anarchy” that Taylor Sheridan would find himself caught in awards season platitudes with Sicario, a film earning three Oscar nominations despite his screenplay not quite making the cut. Well he has a second change this January as his earlier script of gritty Texas survival under the poverty line—a 2012 Black List inclusion—has arrived with David Mackenzie‘s stewardship. Hell or High Water utilizes similar themes of determined, smart vengeance and bittersweet resolutions, it’s…

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Posterized Propaganda August 2014: ‘Guardians of the Galaxy,’ ‘Sin City,’ ‘Starred Up,’ and More

“Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover” is a proverb whose simple existence proves the fact impressionable souls will do so without fail. This monthly column focuses on the film industry’s willingness to capitalize on this truth, releasing one-sheets to serve as not representations of what audiences are to expect, but as propaganda to fill seats. Oftentimes they fail miserably. 2014 soldiers on and the poster selection just gets worse. Luckily the films themselves haven’t been as uninspired. Or maybe they have. After all, this summer is down almost 19%…

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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: TRON: Legacy [2010]

“Like bio-digital jazz, man” It’s twenty years later and I’m still not quite sure how anyone would think a big budget blockbuster taking place inside a computer mainframe could feasibly be seen as profitable, yet Disney has done it once more. 1982 saw TRON unleashed upon the world with an aesthetic way ahead of its time and confounding language for anyone not a computer programmer. Somehow it gained a huge cult following and the studio held tight, always rumoring a sequel, until they could blow audience minds again. TRON: Legacy…

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REVIEW: True Grit [2010]

“A saucy line will not get you very far with me” The Coen Brothers have been on such a roll the past four years. While they’ve gone serious for the most part, the trademark wit has not disappeared from the dramatic entries to their oeuvre. Still able to hit the funny bone full bore—see Burn After Reading—the comedies have gone subtler with a more dire tone, (A Serious Man), and the dramas have gone grimmer themselves, right into consistent Oscar contention, (No Country for Old Men). Going back to Charles…

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REVIEW: TRON [1982]

“On the other side of the screen, it all looks so easy” How can the sheer fact that TRON was made not impress you? Three-quarters of the entire work takes place inside the construct of a super computer, the characters roaming around everything from coded programs to single bits that can only speak in 1s or 0s—yes and no. The detail is so exact that these manifested algorithms talk as though religion consists of the users that have created them, fracturing their ranks into those that follow their creator and…

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