REVIEW: The Roads Not Taken [2020]

And what are you doing to make things better? Leo (Javier Bardem) is barely coherent thanks to a degenerative disability that demands constant care despite his wishes to remain alone under a façade of self-sufficiency within an apartment whose window is directly beside a public transit train. He alternates between Spanish and English without reason when not grunting unfavorably to let whoever is nearby know he doesn’t want to do what they’re asking of him. The one person he allows to lead him where he needs to go is his…

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REVIEW: Loving Pablo [2018]

You tell me your secrets and I’ll tell you mine. The latest cinematic look at Pablo Escobar is titled Loving Pablo for a reason: it’s based on Colombian journalist Virginia Vallejo‘s book Loving Pablo, Hating Escobar. Fernando León de Aranoa makes a concerted effort to show as much in his opening by following Vallejo (Penélope Cruz) to an American hotel room over a decade after first meeting her long-time, not-so-secret boyfriend. We hear her voiceover explain how this journey’s circumstances are much different than earlier ones, laughing with her when…

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REVIEW: mother! [2017]

“His words are yours” Paramount has taken pains to ensure you know as little about Darren Aronofsky‘s mother! as possible. I know this because they’ve made it very difficult to find any images with which to populate this review. Their press site has no entry. The Toronto International Film Festival site contains no stills. And my local publicist made it very clear that press wasn’t allowed to bring a plus one to the screening. I’m surprised the studio let it play TIFF and Venice at all since that only means…

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REVIEW: Spectre [2015]

“You’re a kite dancing in a hurricane, Mr. Bond” Remember that badass organization known as Quantum the deliciously vile Mr. White (Jesper Christensen) ran to terrorize James Bond (Daniel Craig) for two films? How about rogue former 00-program pledge Silva (Javier Bardem) wreaking havoc throughout London due a personal vendetta against MI6? They both made for entertaining villains in this rebooted saga with a grittier Bond—each helping bridge the cheese of its predecessors and the new-look superhero darkness Hollywood had embraced at the start of this century. What reason would…

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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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Posterized Propaganda October 2013: The Faces of ‘Gravity,’ ’12 Years a Slave,’ ‘The Counselor’ & 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. Not too many movies open up in October—and only one studio horror flick at that, despite Halloween. What’s the best way to sell tickets then? Star power. Celebrity faces are…

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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: Skyfall [2012]

“He’s keen to get home” With Paul Haggis relinquishing co-writing duties opposite duo Neal Purvis and Robert Wade to John Logan, the newest iteration of James Bond finds itself an autonomous entity. More attuned to the legacy that came before Daniel Craig donned the suit, we no longer need to worry about Mr. White or the loss of Vesper Lynd because their tale has run its course. Instead, Skyfall deals with a new chapter in the aging hero’s life as his and his employer’s loyalty is questioned against the changing…

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TIFF12 REVIEW: To the Wonder [2013]

“In a dream you can’t make mistakes” For any who thought Terrence Malick‘s The Tree of Life was a divisive piece of cinema, you haven’t seen anything yet. Continuing to strip the very medium of film down to its barest essentials, form once again trumps narrative in his beautiful account of love through memory, To the Wonder. A glimpse into the joy, pain, sacrifice, and compromise of binding oneself to another body and soul, Malick shows us how complicated this concept of physical and emotional connection is. Told through 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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The 83rd Oscars recap through tweets …

@jaredmobarak • Oscar time … congrats to The King’s Speech … why bother with the show when everyone thinks they know the winner? The 83rd Annual Academy Awards ceremony was quite possibly its worst incarnation the past decade. And things finally seemed to be going the right way. Hugh Jackman was fun; Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin were lukewarm, but the show was fun; and Neil Patrick Harris is Neil Patrick Harris. NPH can do no wrong. Much in that vein, I thought the pairing of James Franco and Anne…

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