REVIEW: Jungle Cruise [2021]

Pause for dramatic effect. The first thing you hear at the start of Jaume Collet-Serra‘s Disney theme park ride film Jungle Cruise is the melody from Metallica‘s “Nothing Else Matters.” We hear it again later during a flashback as if composer James Newton Howard thought the hard rock ballad somehow perfectly encapsulated the age of conquistadors enough to recruit the band himself. That’s obviously not the case. Disney President Sean Bailey apparently always wanted to collaborate with them and thought this property would be the best fit regardless of the…

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REVIEW: The Girl on the Train [2016]

“I’m not the girl I used to be” I like unreliable narrators because it’s fun to witness actions unfolding without knowing whether anything onscreen is real. The person could be a liar, schizophrenic, a secondary source ignorant to pertinent facts, or simply mistaken. So I got excited upon learning of Paula Hawkins‘ The Girl on the Train and its lead Rachel (Emily Blunt). Here was a character who literally knew nothing but what she was told. A raging alcoholic prone to nightly blackouts, her reality becomes the stories told in…

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REVIEW: Point Break [2015]

“Do you own a suit, son?” We’ve officially come full circle. Point Break arrived in 1991 with more cheese than a Green Bay Packers game and ten years later a fresh generation got to enjoy an ambiguous cops and robbers romp that moved the same basic plot from ocean to streets with The Fast and the Furious. It’s probably an obscure connection at best, but the cinematographer of than unofficial remake, Ericson Core, just happens to now be the man to bring a brand new version of the original story…

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REVIEW: Joy [2015]

“No, I don’t need a prince” There’s a reason you don’t hear “Mangano” throughout David O. Russell‘s supposed biography of Miracle Mop inventor Joy Mangano and it’s because Joy isn’t real. Whether original scribe Annie Mumolo intended this aesthetic—she reportedly fought tooth and nail to retain her credit—or Russell retooled its tone, what could have been an empowering rags-to-riches drama proves a hyper-stylized comic fairy tale instead. So when Joy’s (Jennifer Lawrence) attending a professional business meeting introducing herself to people she hopes will take a chance on her ideas,…

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REVIEW: Libertador [The Liberator] [2014]

“I am the people” I think I may have snorted a bit when the short list for foreign film Academy Award nominations came out with Libertador [The Liberator] as one of its paltry ten. They wouldn’t have placed the movie with those melodramatic character posters shrouded in a dark brooding atmosphere above critical darlings like Mommy and Two Days, One Night, would they? It just goes to show how you truly cannot judge a book by its cover because even I, the hater of sprawling epics hitting checkpoint after checkpoint…

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REVIEW: Tusk [2014]

“I believe we’re all tea people” I want to dismiss Kevin Smith‘s second foray into horror as total bullshit. I really do. Not only was Tusk created on a lark because one of his and Scott Mosier‘s internet Smodcasts recorded them discussing a crazy Gumtree ad offering a room for rent if the lodger agreed to wear a walrus suit, but because the “ad” in question was itself a fictitious prank by poet Chris Parkinson. Smith’s listeners voted to have a film made out of the restructured, warped version of…

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REVIEW: The Counselor [2013]

“You are a glory” If I were to compareThe Counselor to any other movie I’ve seen of late it would have to be Andrew Dominik‘s Killing Them Softly. Both possess a darkly violent subject matter tempered by a series of off-putting, somewhat out-of-place comedic sequences with a bunch of familiar faces seemingly happy to go along for the ride without worrying about how much screen time they’ve actually accrued. While they could be cousins in tone and overall head-scratching befuddlement where meaning is concerned, however, they are far from the…

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REVIEW: Zero Dark Thirty [2012]

“Some hummus, tabouli—I don’t know what that is—some figs” I have a very clear recollection of the day Osama bin Laden was killed in Pakistan because I was having dinner in India when a friend Facebook messaged me from America with the news. With no fanfare or announcement, Hindi reporters on TV were my only point of confirmation before bed. Naively (stupidly) while waiting to leave Jaipur for Ahmedabad as lobby televisions played soaps instead of breaking news the next morning, I allowed a local paper to interview me about…

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REVIEW: Wrath of the Titans [2012]

“I will never leave my son” There’s nothing like a little patricide to bring two estranged brothers like Zeus (Liam Neeson) and Hades (Ralph Fiennes together again. It’s what teamed them up to imprison their father Cronus long ago in the underworld prison Tartarus and it’s what will ultimately make them choose sides again while humanity looks on helplessly for a victor. And while Perseus (Sam Worthington) wouldn’t have minded killing his own God of a father in Clash of the Titans, it is his half-brother Ares (Édgar Ramírez) who…

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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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