REVIEW: Tea with the Dames [2018]

It’s alright, you can still swear. Friends for over fifty years, Eileen Atkins, Judi Dench, Joan Plowright, and Maggie Smith join together for Nothing Like a Dame [Tea with the Dames] as they often have. This time, however, comes at the behest of director Roger Michell. And while it’s structured to appear like any other get-together this quartet has enjoyed at Plowright’s estate, there’s no effort to hide the production’s artifice under false pretenses of fly-on-the-wall intent. We see clapboards, listen to Smith good-naturedly call out a photographer off-camera, and…

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REVIEW: Becoming Jane [2007]

Are there no other women in Hampshire? I had never seen Julian Jarrold‘s Becoming Jane before today and yet my constantly being hit with a sense of familiarity while watching made me question that truth. The reason stems from the fact that screenwriters Kevin Hood and Sarah Williams crafted their tale of young Jane Austen fifteen years before her first novel (Sense and Sensibility) was published to unfold as though it was Pride and Prejudice. They’ve based this reading of Austen’s life on letters written to her sister Cassandra about…

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REVIEW: Gosford Park [2001]

“I’m the perfect servant: I have no life” Watching Gosford Park again conjured thoughts about it being quintessential Robert Altman, thoughts I couldn’t conjure in 2001 considering it was my first true experience watching one of his films. It proves the perfect evolutionary end to a way of filmmaking he began over twenty years previous with A Wedding‘s sprawling cast, overlapping dialogue, and class strife. Its Agatha Christie-type whodunit conceit lends itself perfectly to his sensibilities and aesthetic, but we can thank Bob Balaban for enthusiastically asking to collaborate for…

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Picking Winners at the 85th Annual Academy Awards

Supporting Actress:Amy Adams: The MasterSally Field: LincolnAnne Hathaway: Les MisérablesHelen Hunt: The SessionsJacki Weaver: Silver Linings Playbook William Altreuter: It often seems to me that the Best Supporting categories are where the most interesting things are to be found in the Academy Award nominations, and this year is proving me right. What we often get—especially with Best Actress in a Supporting Role—are performances that really carry the movie, even though we tend not to notice. We also get actresses showing us what they can do against type, and that display of craft and professionalism is frequently rewarded. The…

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REVIEW: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel [2012]

“Top of the mountain” It’s a rare success to see a film as great as The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel excel because of its leading cast of seniors. Since this bunch of peerless British performers so often shine in the background, we forget how good they really are. An inspired group, they portray Deborah Moggach‘s odd mix of retirees with an authenticity that brings her novel These Foolish Things to life inside the vibrant hustle and bustle of its Indian locale. Whether looking for new love, lost love, companionship, an…

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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: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 [2011]

“His name is Voldemort, Filius. You might as well use it. He’s going to try and kill you either way.” Every story must come to an end and the saga of Harry Potter and He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is no exception. Splitting the final novel of J.K. Rowling’s epic tale of wizardry into two films makes it so the words are given justice and very little is left out, but just as Part 1 lacked a complete arc, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is even less its own entity. To…

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REVIEW: Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang [Nanny McPhee Returns] [2010]

“Yes poo man, we’ve come from far, far away in the land of soap” I must say I’m disappointed in Emma Thompson. I could understand her desire to write and star in an adaptation of Nurse Matilda—perhaps a childhood favorite of hers or her children—but her new incarnation of the wart-faced, bucktoothed taskmaster, Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang, seems a complete cash grab. I looked past the juvenile humor of the first film, realizing the work was aimed at children, but the amount of poo jokes here is astonishing,…

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REVIEW: Clash of the Titans [1981]

“Light has conquered darkness” Would a film like being called charming? How about a fantasy action/adventure? Unfortunately, while watching the 1981 edition of Clash of the Titans, that word is what kept popping into my head. I can’t say the movie was great, it was way too laborious and the ‘please explain to me because I never knew Greek mythology existed’ exposition turned me off. However, I also can’t call it bad because there are multiple instances of enjoyment and craftsmanship, serving only to make me more excited for 2010’s…

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