TIFF16 REVIEW: Snowden [2016]

“Secrecy is security and security is victory” Remakes repackaging foreign films for American audiences are justifiable if done correctly. I’d hope our movie-going public would willingly read subtitles and experience the original artist’s vision, but we don’t live in a utopia. Dramatizing non-fiction work is equally acceptable in specific circumstances because a narrative built from talking head interviews is sometimes easier to parse and appreciate than those disparate accounts alone. Where I take umbrage with this trend is when Hollywood uses a documentary—an Oscar-winning documentary no less—and literally re-enacts it…

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REVIEW: Insurgent [2015]

“You have to forgive yourself” I don’t know which of the three writers credited (Brian Duffield, Akiva Goldsman, and Mark Bomback) on Insurgent is responsible for the complete overhaul of Veronica Roth‘s source novel, but I applaud him. If not for the retention of its characters’ arcs, one could argue the majority of this cinematic version is a wholly original work. Ultimately, however, Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Four’s (Theo James) progression within the confines of a scorched Chicago is what gives Insurgent its identity. We as an audience and fans…

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REVIEW: The Fault in Our Stars [2014]

“Pain demands to be felt” We all die. Heaven, Hell, Purgatory, Oblivion: they’re all destinations that connote life has ceased to be. This is the constant; what you do during the interim is not. So whether you’re healthy, sick, sad, or happy, you have the power to make the best of any situation. You do. Not your parents, friends, loves, idols. You. Nothing teaches this lesson in literature better than the kind of cancer tome John Green hoped to put his own unique spin on with The Fault in Our…

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REVIEW: The Amazing Spider-Man 2 [2014]

“You still blow dry your hair every morning?” It’s time to embrace the comic aspect of comic book films. I’m sorry, but it is. Christopher Nolan‘s time on the Dark Knight Trilogy is over and while we’d like the comic genre’s big brother graphic novel to imbue the dark conflicted nature of an Oscar worthy film, it doesn’t necessarily mimic the medium’s tone. We’re talking costumed heroes fighting a rogue’s gallery of mutated baddies with special powers who wreak havoc, never die, and engage in a never-ending cycle so that…

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REVIEW: Divergent [2014]

“Faction before blood” Like it or not, the twenty-first century has brought cultural alterations. For instance, the conversation about futuristic dystopias and/or social upheaval no longer includes 1984, Brave New World, or Fahrenheit 451. Our contemporary equivalents are now The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, and Divergent. They may not be at the same reading level, target the same demographic, or prove as smart and prophetic as the former trio, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t relevant or effective. All except for one thing impossible to ignore: their delivery method.…

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REVIEW: The Spectacular Now [2013]

“You’ll always be my favorite ex-boyfriend” Some of us are lucky—a lot luckier than most. The thing about luck, though, is that it may look nothing like it should. Sometimes luck means having your father leave. Sometimes it’s being an eighteen-year old alcoholic everyone at school loves for epitomizing fun despite ultimately acknowledging you’re a joke. We can’t all hit bottom to pull ourselves back up because the floor isn’t always forgiving enough to allow us to walk away. When it does—when the collision rocks you awake, scares you to…

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Top Ten Films of 2011: Melancholy with a slice of hope

If anyone tells you 2011 was a bad year for cinema, stop in your tracks, turn around and walk away without ever looking back. They have no idea what they’re talking about. With a wealth of quality films from bonafide auteurs devoid of source material, the sheer amount of original work is astonishing. The trend for remakes will most likely never end, but it’s good to know artists in and out of the Hollywood system are fearlessly treading their own path to make movies exciting again. And by exciting I…

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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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