REVIEW: Widows [2018]

This isn’t your world. When the first trailer for Widows dropped, I thought, “Steve McQueen is branching out to genre fare now.” This wasn’t a slight, just an observation. I obviously wanted to see it, but thought I could wait before the notes out of TIFF declared it a must-see. Suddenly I needed to reevaluate my perception of what this thing was behind its marketing push. Would there be more than just revenge and heist-based thrills? Would this be a slower burn a la co-writer Gillian Flynn‘s novels augmented by…

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REVIEW: The Natural [1984]

The only homer I know has four bases in it. There’s a lot going on in Barry Levinson‘s The Natural and baseball is the least of it. The film had always been a blind spot for me as I’m not a fan of the sport and thus could never bring myself to watch—”classic” status or not. So the opportunity to sit down and experience it on the big screen after enjoying a lengthy interview session between Ben Mankiewicz and Levinson courtesy of Turner Classic Movies became my excuse to drop…

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REVIEW: Gone in Sixty Seconds [2000]

“Two Rogers don’t make a right” There are more than a few unexpected things concerning the Gone in Sixty Seconds remake that surprised me. One was the huge cast of familiar faces. Another the full embracement of its spectacular levels of cheese. And despite marketing materials and especially the poster, Angelina Jolie is far from a second lead and barely onscreen thirty minutes. Heck, besides the botched heist at the beginning that sets the chain of events that brings Randall ‘Memphis’ Raines (Nicolas Cage) out of retirement in motion, we…

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Picking Winners at the 87th Annual Academy Awards

Things look pretty cut and dry where the Academy is concerned in 2015. The Oscars are always a somewhat watered-down look at what really mattered in the past year of cinema and this installment is no exception. In fact, it may be all water at this point. That doesn’t mean there can’t be some intriguing surprises in the second-tier categories like Best Animated Feature (I really hope How to Train Your Dragon 2 loses to one of the other much more aesthetically and conceptually unique nominees) or Short Film Animated…

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Toronto International Film Festival 2014 Preview

We may have two consistent film festivals here in town showcasing small releases and restored classics, but you might not realize how close we are to one of the biggest in the world. Most “in the know” will center on five events when thinking about the best of the best film festivals and while Venice, Cannes, and Berlin are an ocean away and Sundance is across the country, The Toronto International Film Festival is less than a two-hour drive via the QEW into Canada. Even better than proximity, though, is…

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REVIEW: Jack Reacher [2012]

“Weird to meet you” It appears it was only a matter of time before author Lee Child—or Jim Grant to his parents—saw the sole protagonist of his life’s work on the big screen. Jack Reacher is the type of character audiences adore; one easily catered towards the sequel model paved by Tom Clancy‘s Jack Ryan if and when Tom Cruise finally gives up action flicks. An ex-Army Military Police Major who spent his childhood abroad before a stint at West Point led to thirteen years in the service, he now…

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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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REVIEW: Crazy Heart [2009]

“Funny how falling feels like flying, even for a little while” Life ain’t no place for the weary kind. Just ask Bad Blake. Here is a man that acts from the soul every step of the way, however, it’s one that has been ravaged and decimated from a life of alcoholism and chain-smoking. Able to compose a song that will resonate for decades to come just by picking up his guitar, Blake is the sort of enigma that means well, but can never clean up enough to achieve. A legend…

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REVIEW: Four Christmases [2008]

“That’s not a boy named Bjorn?” Perhaps I was in an overly good mood before bed, or maybe I was just so tired that I’d laugh at anything, but Four Christmases ended up being a pretty good time despite my trepidation and warnings to steer clear by friends. It was cute, somewhat innocuous, and had its fair share of big laughs. By no means is it great cinema, nor intelligent storytelling—its sub 90-minute runtime shows us only the craziness spending time with the four parts of two divorced marriages and…

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TIFF09 RECAP: Connecting to Your World … and mine

Every year at the Toronto International Film Festival seems to get better and better. Is that due to the increase in films from six to eleven to fifteen? It very well might be. And I’ll just say now, watching fifteen films in less than four days may not be the healthiest thing in the world. Between the vendor sausage/chicken dogs/nitrates on a bun being easily accessible and a standard meal when going from one film to the next with barely enough time to catch your breath and the sheer fact…

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TIFF09 REVIEW: The Road [2009]

“I don’t want to just survive” Why do the Weinsteins continue to do it? They buy and finance great stuff, they have an eye for talent, and yet they squander it so many times. When I first heard that the Cormac McCarthy adapted, John Hillcoat directed The Road was being pushed back from last year’s Oscar contention—yes, last year—I just shook my head wondering how those two brothers could ruin it. Was it post-production that needed extra time to complete or did the volatile big men hate the cut and…

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