Top Ten Films of 2012: Ensembles upon ensembles


Many have been saying 2012 was a great year for movies. I’m not sure I fully agree. There were a ton of solid 7/10s and 8/10s, yes, but how does that compare with previous years when the amount of 10/10s were also drastically reduced? It took until September for me to give a film four […]

Picking Winners at the 85th Annual Academy Awards


Supporting Actress: Amy Adams: The Master Sally Field: Lincoln Anne Hathaway: Les Misérables Helen Hunt: The Sessions Jacki 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 […]

Starting and ending in doubt … Babel’s Nuruddin Farah


Deliberately enunciating his words, novelist Nuruddin Farah used a calculated cadence to talk about his tireless ability to find trouble. The second speaker in Just Buffalo Literary Center‘s 2012-2013 Babel series, his Somali roots provide a very interesting connection to Buffalo considering the nation’s past two prime ministers came from here. His own history with […]

Teaching us what it is to be human … Babel’s Russell Banks


As novelist Russell Banks admitted during the first lecture of the 2012-2013 Just Buffalo Literary Center‘s Babel season, he is the series’ first participant with a clear “American accent”. I’m not sure if that fact made my brain marginalize his inclusion because he wasn’t some international luminary from an exotic corner of the world or […]

All new homes come with a clarinet … Babel’s Alexander McCall Smith


The Michael Kelleher-less era of Babel began tonight with one of the biggest crowds the series has ever seen. If Alexander McCall Smith didn’t find himself standing before more audience members than Salman Rushdie two years ago, the numbers must have been close. But while the popular kilt-wearing author is probably used to the spotlight […]

If I were satisfied, I wouldn’t keep doing it … Babel’s Zadie Smith


Not to overshadow the presence of British novelist Zadie Smith ushering in 2012′s year of Babel, the sobering news that Just Buffalo Literary Center‘s Michael Kelleher was stepping down as Artistic Director to head up a position at Yale came with some shock and a well-deserved standing ovation. The man who really spearheaded the series […]

The 84th Oscars recap through tweets …


@jaredmobarak • Shut up Ryan Seacrest … Like the studio isn’t going to reimburse you. Cry about it #Oscars12 And with a little Bisquick, the 84th Annual Academy Awards show began before the camera even entered the Kodak “Chapter 11″ Theatre. The is he or isn’t he banned from the show star of The Dictator, […]

Top Ten Films of 2011: Melancholy with a slice of hope


This list is accurate as of post-date. So many films and not enough time to see them all—150 seen is this year’s number—the potential for future change is inevitable, but as of today here are the best … If anyone tells you 2011 was a bad year for cinema, stop in your tracks, turn around […]

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 Miller Jessica Chastain – […]

Up, down, in, and out … Babel’s Naomi Shihab Nye


Language has ‘the power to carry us away’. This is what Naomi Shihab Nye said when asked why she was drawn to literature. The daughter of a displaced Palestinian journalist—a theme thus far for the 2011/12 season of Just Buffalo Literary Center’s Babel—she has been enamored by language since a very early age living all […]

Curiosity is a moral virtue … Babel’s Amos Oz


To Amos Oz—the first speaker of the 2011/12 season of Just Buffalo Literary Center’s Babel—he is just a postman scrawling notes onto the letters of the dead. The Israeli novelist has written many books, but it is his personal history in A Tale of Love and Darkness that has won over hearts and minds the […]