REVIEW: Venom [2018]

Have a nice life. If you really think about it, Venom was never going to be R-rated. I don’t care what director Ruben Fleischer alluded to in an interview before production began or that star Tom Hardy currently believes the best forty minutes of the film were cut. As soon as Sony decided to move ahead with this long-gestating spin-off title despite Spider-Man himself making his way to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (and seemingly rendering it impossible to ever put the two onscreen together), the reality was cemented for Eddie…

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REVIEW: All the Money in the World [2017]

“‘Thank you’ is for strangers” It’s impossible to see a disclaimer at the end of an “inspired by” film reiterating with more direct language about how the “truth” has been altered without assuming the majority of what I just saw never really happened. Ridley Scott fades to black on a seething Michelle Williams before two one-sentence captions replace her with epilogue declarations that then are replaced by the caveat of taking everything with a grain of salt. It reeks of lawyer speech as though the studio anticipated backlash from those…

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REVIEW: Wonderstruck [2017]

“It’s never the right time” What do a deaf (from birth) girl in 1920s New Jersey and hearing-impaired (due to a recent accident) boy in 1970s Minnesota have in common besides their struggle to communicate? We’ll just have to wait until author/screenwriter Brian Selznick and director Todd Haynes are ready to let us know. In the meantime we’re made to follow their parallel (albeit five decades apart) paths towards a sense of freedom the adults in their lives simply cannot comprehend. They yearn for more than existing in a world…

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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: Manchester by the Sea [2016]

“I can’t beat it” It’s hard to imagine a Manchester by the Sea directed by Matt Damon and starring John Krasinski, but that was the original plan. They actually brought the idea to Kenneth Lonergan—Damon acted in one of his friend’s plays on stage and also his sophomore film Margaret. Hollywood is tough, though. Schedules fill up and pieces move around. Damon loved the initial draft Lonergan drew up for them so much that he asked him to take over directing duties while he shifted to the lead (perhaps Krasinski…

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REVIEW: Certain Women [2016]

“She’s my lawyer. I’ve got reason to kill her.” I didn’t love Wendy and Lucy, the only Kelly Reichardt film I had thus far seen. The slow pacing and stripped-bare plot allowed for Michelle Williams to deliver a magnificent performance, but I found myself undeniably bored by the steady stream of troubles chipping away at her resolve. This reaction dissuaded me from Reichardt’s other features, but the almost universal critical praise—yet again—for her latest Certain Women dragged me back into her orbit to see if it would strike a louder…

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REVIEW: Oz the Great and Powerful [2013]

“What’s the third up?” I have to reevaluate my distaste for everything Oz not existing inside the mind of Dorothy Gale now that I’ve discovered Victor Fleming’s seminal work The Wizard of Oz wasn’t as faithful to its source material as I once assumed. I could never ignore how the simple attempt to craft a prequel within a fictitious fantasy world was in direct opposition to what made the original so timeless and important to lost children yearning for more than they have. And then I read how L. Frank…

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REVIEW: My Week with Marilyn [2011]

“Let’s say I sleep in nothing but Yardley’s Lavender” After the all awards season hoopla, I guess I expected more from My Week with Marilyn. My favorite kind of bio pic—depicting a finite amount of time in a famous person’s life rather then the full duration—it’s interesting that I find it closest in alignment to one that’s not. Much like my excitement to watch La vie en rose post-Oscar win for Marion Cotillard, I really wanted Simon Curtis‘ film to strike a cord with its microcosm look inside Marilyn Monroe‘s…

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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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VIFF11 REVIEW: Take This Waltz [2012]

“August 15, 2040, 2pm” Films dealing with break-ups have the trouble of easily falling into two camps. Either the work is genuine and emotionally devastating like a Blue Valentine or faux romantic and absolutely trite like The Break-Up. Having already wowed the world with her debut feature of complete authenticity dealing with Alzheimer’s destructive power on love, Away From Her, I hoped Sarah Polley had her finger on the pulse of heartache and would carry it through to her sophomore work, Take This Waltz. Unfortunately, although it is brilliantly acted…

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