REVIEW: El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie [2019]

“Nothing beats cash on-hand” Obviously contains “Breaking Bad” spoilers. I’m neither alone in this thinking nor objectively correct, but “Better Call Saul” is superior to its predecessor “Breaking Bad”. I didn’t even really get into the latter until the season three finale and even then it was tough to stay invested in its cast of monsters doing monstrous things to each other ad nauseam. I say that because they used to be good people—or at least innocent of murder. The intrigue was therefore rooted in how deep they’d fall. Since…

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REVIEW: Phil [2019]

I never promised you a rose garden. We meet Phil McGuire (Greg Kinnear) exiting his parked car while still in traffic to climb up a bridge railing. It’s a one hundred-plus foot drop into the water and he imagines taking the plunge before a group of teens with cellphones outstretched jolt him from the morbid sensation with excitable demands that he jump so they can enjoy the carnage. That’s a bold tonal mood on behalf of screenwriter Stephen Mazur and director Kinnear (his debut) because there’s actual dejection on their…

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REVIEW: What They Had [2018]

Is that my baby? Norbert Eberhardt (Robert Forster) is a loving, generous man who literally swept the woman of his dreams (Blythe Danner‘s Ruth) off her feet to start a decades-long romance that produced two children (Hilary Swank‘s Bridget and Michael Shannon‘s Nick), two grandkids (Taissa Farmiga‘s Emma being one), and unforgettable memories … until they’re forgotten. Ruth has Alzheimer’s and things have devolved to the point where Burt can’t handle doing everything he willingly, admirably, and compassionately does for her. But she’s “his girl” and he takes the whole…

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REVIEW: The American Side [2016]

“Weaving spiders come not here” When a film shot in Buffalo, NY co-written and starring a native of the city comes across you’re desk you look upon it with a certain level of skepticism. I’ve lived here almost my entire life and I’m still guilty of seeing my hometown as a B-level sector in comparison to New York City or Hollywood. This year has changed that thought-process for locals and the industry with two effective genre works exiting the Queen City with aspirations for the big time. Against all odds…

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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: The Descendants [2011]

“Goodbye my love, my friend, my pain, my joy. Goodbye.” Beginning in voiceover, Alexander Payne’s new film The Descendants introduces us to the King family through its in-over-his-head patriarch. In a brilliant analogy, he posits how his clan resembles their home state of Hawaii very closely—beyond the obvious ancestral roots dating back to the area’s native royalty. Like the archipelago, the Kings consist of differing parts of one whole that appear to slowly move away from each other as time passes. Physically split between islands due to boarding school and…

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REVIEW: Ghosts of Girlfriends Past [2009]

“I’m gonna have to do this in bulk” My research into the new A Christmas Carol rip-off for the rom-com demographic, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, yielded one very interesting tidbit of information—director Mark Waters received a “special thanks” on the production of Requiem for a Dream. No disrespect to the man as I’m a big fan of Mean Girls and have wanted to check out his Spiderwick Chronicles, but how does he know Darren Aronofsky? This has all of a sudden taken over my complete interest pertaining to the new…

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REVIEW: Firewall [2006]

“I’m going to find my dog” It’s almost comforting to know that when trailers for action thrillers are in paint by numbers structure their film counterparts are as well. The Harrison Ford actioner Firewall seemed like a redundant, rehashed plot regurgitated for the umpteenth time and that is exactly what it ended up being, minus any real action. Sure the plot tried to be high-tech, utilizing the firewall protection systems that battle against hackers and computer viruses, taking pace away from the story to show us that Ford really knows…

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