REVIEW: The Dig [2021]

I had my feeling. When Simon Stone‘s The Dig begins with Basil Brown (Ralph Fiennes) towing his bicycle across the water in a boat towards Sutton Hoo, it’s natural to align our expectations with an archeological adventure. Because he’s labeled “difficult” by the museum that more or less told Edith Pretty (Carey Mulligan) her desire to excavate the mounds present on her land isn’t worth their effort with war looming, the two prove themselves to be a perfect pair of underestimated and ignored figures on the cusp of finding something…

Read More

REVIEW: Promising Young Woman [2020]

You didn’t think this was the end, did you? Has anyone created a drinking game for Emerald Fennell‘s audacious feature directorial debut Promising Young Woman yet? If not, I’m going to pitch that it surround the universal facial tic Cassandra Thomas’ (Carey Mulligan) prey deliver upon saying something they mean before floundering in an attempt to backtrack because that thing shouldn’t be said aloud. It’s usually accompanied by an extended “Uhhh” or “Wait a second” or “What I mean is”—the hamster wheel inside their brains working overtime to salvage the…

Read More

REVIEW: Wildlife [2018]

I feel like I need to wake up. The start of Paul Dano‘s directorial debut Wildlife depicts a happy household of mother (Carey Mulligan‘s Jeanette Brinson), father (Jake Gyllenhaal‘s Jerry), and son (Ed Oxenbould‘s Joe). They’ve just moved from Utah to Montana so Jerry can work as a country club’s resident “pro”—a job allowing Jeanette to stay home rather than look for substitute teaching assignments while Joe attends high school. Their property is very modest, their neighborhood much the same. Joy can be felt within their walls as a simple…

Read More

REVIEW: Mudbound [2017]

They say it’s bad luck to watch somebody leave. People too often speak about America’s scars as though the damage was done, skin healed over, and remnants already mostly faded away. But this isn’t true. Ask any member of a group that has been marginalized from the moment Europeans landed on the Atlantic shore until now—namely anyone who isn’t a white Anglo-Saxon Christian—and hear about the myriad ways in which their country has still yet to treat them like they belong. Too many wax on about giving Native Americans land,…

Read More

REVIEW: Inside Llewyn Davis [2013]

“Llewyn is the cat” Can I chalk my ambivalence to the Coen Brothers‘ newest film Inside Llewyn Davis up to knowing nothing about the Greenwich Village folk music scene of 1961? It is after all loosely inspired by the life of Dave Van Ronk, containing aspects of his autobiography The Mayor of MacDougal Street for authenticity. But how much should knowing the setting of a story impact the enjoyment of what’s unfolding in its space? Shouldn’t the success of what the Coens have accomplished live or die by my interest…

Read More

REVIEW: The Great Gatsby [2013]

“Once again I was within and without” Visionary filmmaker Baz Luhrmann returns with a big screen adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s magnum opus The Great Gatsby, filmed in the ostentatious aesthetic that made his jukebox musical Moulin Rouge! such a divisively stunning work. Love him or hate him, no one can deny the man has style or the ego necessary to transform iconic literature and historical eras into contemporary art-infused visual epics that overwhelm our senses. No one does excess better—over-cranked and pulsing to music intentionally subverting the subject matter…

Read More

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…

Read More

Posterized Propaganda January 2012: The Top 10 Movie Posters of 2011

“Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover” is a proverb whose simple existence proves the fact impressionable souls will do so without fail. This monthly column focuses on the film industry’s willingness to capitalize on this truth, releasing one-sheets to serve as not representations of what audiences are to expect, but as propaganda to fill seats. Oftentimes they fail miserably. With January 2012 poster selection leaving a lot to be desired—dump month movies don’t appear to get the same marketing budget as critical darlings—we’ve decided to better spend our monthly…

Read More

Posterized Propaganda December 2011: Numbers and Faces

“Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover” is a proverb whose simple existence proves the fact impressionable souls will do so without fail. This monthly column focuses on the film industry’s willingness to capitalize on this truth, releasing one-sheets to serve as not representations of what audiences are to expect, but as propaganda to fill seats. Oftentimes they fail miserably. December is here and the posters are many. With studio releases being pumped through NY and LA during the holidays for award consideration, the number of films coming out this…

Read More

REVIEW: Drive [2011]

“There are no good sharks?” Part-time stuntman, part-time mechanic, part-time wheelman, and full-time brood—this is Ryan Gosling‘s Driver. He’s a man of few words with determination stamped on his face and a code of morals that exist inside a very murky gray area blurring the line between right and wrong when loyalty comes into play. A very cerebral actioner that harkens back to director Nicolas Winding Refn‘s Valhalla Rising more than Bronson, Drive lives up to its stature of incomparable cool. This thing is slick as hell, existing in a…

Read More

TIFF11 REVIEW: Shame [2011]

“Blue or green?” Three years after their first collaboration—and the director’s debut film—Steve McQueen and star Michael Fassbender return with the viscerally intense Shame. To call a movie assured to receive an NC-17 rating more mainstream than their previous Hunger is insane, but it’s true. Whereas that film took a more formal approach to the medium, leaving us in a visually stunning world without introducing the lead character until about a third of the way in, Shame definitely has more of a narrative voice. With that said, however, McQueen’s improved…

Read More