REVIEW: The Equalizer [2014]

“Change your world” It may be because I knew beforehand that Antoine Fuqua‘s The Equalizer was based on an old 80s TV show (from Michael Sloan and Richard Lindheim), but it felt very episodic in a way that made it utterly boring. There’s that time Robert McCall (Denzel Washington) helps his coworker lose weight. That time he gives a troubled young prostitute a reason to smile. Don’t forget when he helps someone out of a jam with some corrupt cops. Or when he takes down a Russian mob syndicate single-handedly.…

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REVIEW: Prisoners [2013]

“Pretty soon all that stands between you and being dead is you” The question is simple: How far would you go to save your child? The dynamics, however, are more complex when the man reconciling his soul to those ends is one who’s held God’s love as a beckon of security close to his heart. Denis Villeneuve’s Prisoners opens with Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman) saying an “Our Father” as his son Ralph (Dylan Minnette) readies to kill his first deer. The words have a calming effect, one that’s helped this…

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REVIEW: Oblivion [2013]

“We’ll come back when it’s over” Originally planned as a graphic novel, Joseph Kosinski‘s Oblivion wouldn’t have stayed solely on the page for long. It’s science fiction romance decades after the Earth is ravaged by nuclear war and alien invasion would have whet any studio’s appetite with or without the director’s work on TRON: Legacy—itself a mixed bag many consider a failure. Disney tooted his horn for awhile leading up to that highly-anticipated sequel, even going as far as outbidding multiple suitors for the rights to his and Arvid Nelson‘s…

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REVIEW: Flight [2012]

“Say, ‘I love you, Trevor’” I’m going to chalk Flight‘s failure up to Robert Zemeckis being away from live action dramas too long. Manipulation works in children’s cartoons like his The Polar Express and A Christmas Carol because you’re supposed to be preaching some sort of morality lesson on the impressionable through a fun, heartwarming tale. For adults, however, more intrigue than a cool concept left neutered in lieu of showcasing its leading man’s inner turmoil is necessary. Yes, much of the blame lays in the hands of screenwriter John…

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REVIEW: Red State [2011]

“Even the Nazis think this guy is nuckin’ futs” As if Kevin Smith wasn’t polarizing enough on his own, the venture making Cop Out for hire bought more ill-will and the risky endeavor of self-producing an original horror only allowed a new genre’s legion of fans to add to the backlash. It’s weird because I always thought Smith was pretty universally loved between his seminal debut Clerks and cult favorites Mallrats and Chasing Amy. My circle of friends would stop at nothing to see his latest work in the theatres…

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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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Top Ten Films of 2010: Dark Fantasy Cinema

This list is accurate as of post-date. So many films and not enough time to see them all—141 seen is this year’s number—the potential for future change is inevitable, but as of today here are the best … I remember thinking around April that there hadn’t been a truly great film released yet. After summer came and went with little to cheer about, I feared 2010 would be a gigantic bust containing a ton of decent to good films, but only a handful of great ones. And then—like it seems…

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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: The Fighter [2010]

“I thought you were my mother too” It’s been a rough decade for director David O. Russell between highly publicized blow-ups with George Clooney and Lily Tomlin and his latest, Nailed, being shelved after financing fell through to the point he couldn’t finish filming. So, it is almost a miracle he was given the opportunity to even fathom helming Scott Silver’s scripted The Fighter once Darren Aronofsky backed away after having completed his own ‘fighting’ film with The Wrestler. And with the rave reviews from critics and audiences both, you…

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TIFF10: Day Two Recap

Day Two at TIFF may have started with two junket screenings, meaning there was no chance of seeing any filmmakers/actors, but it also began with what could be my number one film of the year—Never Let Me Go. Amidst the small contingent of press glomming down free danishes and coffee courtesy of Fox Searchlight was a work of art that will devastate even the most cynical of souls. It’s tough to go into detail of the plot, though, without ruining the nuance of the parallel universe world, one where disease…

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TIFF10 REVIEW: Conviction [2010]

“She’s the other old lady in my class” After steady television work and three forgettable romantic features, actor-turned-director Tony Goldwyn has taken a giant leap forward in his progression as the man behind the scenes. Delving into the true-life story of Betty Anne Waters, via a script by Pamela Gray—who also wrote his debut—Conviction premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival with some Oscar buzz behind it. With a plotline concerning a woman’s drive to free her brother—in jail on a life sentence for murder—by going to college and eventually…

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