REVIEW: Belfast [2021]

What’s yours is mine and what’s mine is my own. There’s a version of Kenneth Branagh‘s personal coming-of-age story Belfast that probably could have been rated-G and the fact he refused to deliver it should be praised. That doesn’t necessarily mean sanitizing a violent and deadly conflict like the late-1960s start of “The Troubles” into a PG-13 is much better, though. If not for regular explosions and a superficial entrance into the politics (reduced to Protestants hating Catholics on a religious basis rather than the more integral nationalist one religion…

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REVIEW: Tenet [2020]

Ignorance is our ammunition. We’re each the protagonist of our own stories. Whether we are the villain in another’s, a sidekick, or a complete afterthought, we push forward regardless onto the path we believe is righteous. That doesn’t mean, however, that we should blindly sympathize with an antagonist because they don’t know better. They often do. Antihero status isn’t therefore necessary to understand complexity beyond ego or hubris. We can hate someone trying to destroy the world without wondering about his/her motivations or the fact he/she wasn’t loved enough in…

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REVIEW: All Is True [2019]

Perhaps, to some, I was the lark. Sony Pictures Classics announced their deal to distribute Kenneth Branagh‘s latest All Is True after it had already been completed without the usual media fanfare surrounding projects with royal Oscar pedigrees such as one whose cast is rounded out by Judi Dench and Ian McKellen. You shouldn’t, however, be surprised to recognize this fact upon watching its often meticulously positioned frames of conversational exchanges with little to no camera movement. Alongside those longer elegiac shots of emotive gravitas are shorter ones devoid of…

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REVIEW: Cinderella [2015]

“Have courage and be kind” For anyone who cannot stand singing, Disney’s latest iteration of the timeless Cinderella is catered to you. I know Chris Weitz and the other screenwriters on the project before him poured through the fairy tale’s vast lineage for every detail they could cull together into what they surely believe to be the definitive version, but what I saw onscreen is the same thing I saw as a child in cartoon form. Just without the sing-songy “Bibbidi Bobbidi Boos”. There are a couple spoken ones for…

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REVIEW: Wild Wild West [1999]

“Never drum on a white lady’s boobies at a big redneck dance” Let’s just say that Mel Gibson and Tom Cruise dodged a bullet by backing out of Wild Wild West during its seven-year gestation. Its script probably wasn’t nearly as off-the-wall goofy at the start considering their clout as actors, but I highly doubt either would have been up for the parody it became. While the 90s were all about the television adaptation anyway—Gibson went on to do the lackluster Maverick and Cruise the effective Mission: Impossible—I’m not sure…

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REVIEW: Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit [2014]

“No. This is geopolitics, not couples therapy.” Even though The Sum of All Fears made a boatload of cash with Ben Affleck at its center, you can’t help but know his Gigli demise played a big role in the Jack Ryan saga not continuing. Why let Tom Clancy‘s cinematic legacy go down with the ship? So a few years passed, Chris Pine started rising through the ranks as an A-list action star, and Adam Cozad‘s script Moscow seemed ripe for a makeover to reboot Ryan and see where his ex-Marine,…

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REVIEW: Thor: The Dark World [2013]

“I’ll just stay here and say ‘sea bass’ alone” There was something off with Thor in 2011 besides its horrid post-conversion 3D. While many believe Iron Man 2 was nothing but an evolutionary bridge for its hero to move closer towards what The Avengers needed, it was actually the Norse God of thunder who provided the most obvious bit of prequel exposition by introducing himself, extraterrestrial life, and that forthcoming blockbuster’s main villain, Loki. Captain America: The First Avenger also brought us a new character’s origin, but his story—like Tony…

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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: My Week with Marilyn [2011]

“Let’s say I sleep in nothing but Yardley’s Lavender” After the all awards season hoopla, I guess I expected more from My Week with Marilyn. My favorite kind of bio pic—depicting a finite amount of time in a famous person’s life rather then the full duration—it’s interesting that I find it closest in alignment to one that’s not. Much like my excitement to watch La vie en rose post-Oscar win for Marion Cotillard, I really wanted Simon Curtis‘ film to strike a cord with its microcosm look inside Marilyn Monroe‘s…

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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: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 [2011]

“His name is Voldemort, Filius. You might as well use it. He’s going to try and kill you either way.” Every story must come to an end and the saga of Harry Potter and He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is no exception. Splitting the final novel of J.K. Rowling’s epic tale of wizardry into two films makes it so the words are given justice and very little is left out, but just as Part 1 lacked a complete arc, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is even less its own entity. To…

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