TIFF19 REVIEW: Just Mercy [2019]

Trees swaying in the breeze. The story of Walter McMillian’s incarceration and subsequent time on death row is a powerful one with themes spanning police corruption, Southern racism, and justice itself as a means of finding truth rather than convenience. This is an innocent man with a concrete alibi sentenced to death because of coerced testimony and everyone intimately involved with the case knows. Since the victim was a white teenager and McMillian (Johnny D.) a black man caught having an affair with a white woman in the past, none…

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REVIEW: Baby Driver [2017]

“They call. I go.” I’ll admit that writer/director Edgar Wright‘s departure from Ant-Man was met with mixed feelings on my part. On one hand I was disappointed that we’d never see what he could have done with the material—something I had anticipated for many years. On the other, however, was the realization that I’d rather only see work devoid of outside interference when his name was attached. If the rumors were true about Marvel wanting to rewrite the script he and Joe Cornish crafted to make changes they saw as…

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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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Posterized Propaganda May 2014: ‘Godzilla’, ‘Amazing Spider-Man 2′, ‘Maleficent’ & More

“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. Is it officially Summer yet? Blockbuster poster campaigns for Spidey, Magneto, Godzilla, and Seth MacFarlane would lean towards yes. Buy your popcorn and candy now because we’ve got computer generated…

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REVIEW: White House Down [2013]

“My father is a very special man!” It’s a shame Hollywood blockbuster fare has a contractual obligation for contrived happy endings with unnecessary and unsurprising “twists” because Roland Emmerich‘s newest disaster porn entry White House Down is a legitimate winner until its cheesy finale. There’s actual suspense, authentic humor, and charismatic leads to hook us into its plausible terrorist attack scenario with plenty of action to sustain our interest over its two-hour plus runtime. But just as James Vanderbilt’s script inches towards the finish—and our government protocols are severely tested—cliché…

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Posterized Propaganda June 2013: The Apocalypse is Nigh With ‘Man of Steel,’ ‘World War Z,’ ‘This is the End’ & More

“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. Summer continues chugging along with the America and/or Earth threatened by destruction at every turn. Whether comic book adaptations, zombie wars, terrorist assaults or a giant pit opening up to…

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Picking Winners at the 85th Annual Academy Awards

Supporting Actress:Amy Adams: The MasterSally Field: LincolnAnne Hathaway: Les MisérablesHelen Hunt: The SessionsJacki Weaver: Silver Linings Playbook William Altreuter: It often seems to me that the Best Supporting categories are where the most interesting things are to be found in the Academy Award nominations, and this year is proving me right. What we often get—especially with Best Actress in a Supporting Role—are performances that really carry the movie, even though we tend not to notice. We also get actresses showing us what they can do against type, and that display of craft and professionalism is frequently rewarded. The…

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REVIEW: Django Unchained [2012]

“Are the bags on or off?” I’m not sure Quentin Tarantino could ever be mistaken for someone subtle, but even he may have gone too far with his latest, Django Unchained. A revenge flick drenched in blood, America’s tarnished history, and a surprising wealth of humor, what starts as a film I would have been hard-pressed to deny as being one of his best quickly buckles under its own weight towards an overblown, farcical finale that completely derails any momentum its climax builds. The auteur is a master of the…

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Posterized Propaganda December 2012: A Cinematic Library with ‘Django Unchained’, ‘The Hobbit,’ ‘Les Miserables’ & More

“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. Here we are at the end of 2012, ready for the release of the last few Oscar. It’s a time where story generally triumphs over mainstream appeal and where the…

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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: Rio [2011]

“Sing it, Lionel” Always playing third fiddle to the powerhouses of Pixar and Dreamworks, Sony Pictures’ Blue Sky Studios has held their own with the Ice Age franchise and a couple supporters. Their newest endeavor, Rio, looks to try and recreate a bit of the magic from their competitor’s Madagascar, setting the tale in an exotic locale—Brazil—and populating it with a blend of random humor, violin playing sentimentality, and an eccentric hoard of hive-mind beasts for slapstick entertainment. The music is unfortunately not up to snuff, giving a film aimed…

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