The Playlist

Berlinale 2012 Review: Melissa Leo Shines In Minutely Observed, Minimalist 'Francine'

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • February 17, 2012 1:05 PM
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Evoking films like "Winter's Bone" and "Wendy and Lucy" in presenting a sparse, narrowly focused portrait of a lone female protagonist in adverse, not to say desperate circumstances, "Francine" is the kind of small film made for the festival circuit, and for which the festival circuit was made. It is no less reliant on a powerhouse central performance than its aforementioned forebears, if anything more so, as here extraneous detail is pared back almost to the point of nonexistence, leaving Melissa Leo front and center of every scene. It is a testament to her absolutely definitive portrayal that one simply cannot imagine what the film might have looked like with anyone else in the role. Some elegant framing and photography aside, the film lives and dies on her performance, and this being Leo, at her most vanity-less and instinctive, it mostly lives.

So, That 'I Am Legend' Sequel Is Becoming Possibly More Real As Warner Bros. Officially Moves Forward

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • February 17, 2012 12:10 PM
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  • 2 Comments
Warner Bros. has made a shocking, stunning announcement today that they would like to continue making lots of money by making a sequel to a hit movie. No. Fucking. Way.

Watch: Trailer For Unsettling Aussie Serial Killer Pic 'The Snowtown Murders'

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • February 17, 2012 12:00 PM
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  • 3 Comments
Don't let that image up top fool you. Deeply unsettling, controversial, and one of the most talked-about films at Cannes last year (it played the Critics' Week sidebar, taking home a Special Jury prize) the Australian film "Snowtown" (renamed "The Snowtown Murders" for American audiences) is one that you won't soon forget.
More: Snowtown

Michael Fassbender To Play A Fearsome Warrior In 'Irish Myths'

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • February 17, 2012 11:50 AM
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  • 6 Comments
2011 was a pretty damn good year for Michael Fassbender. He showed he could be a commanding presence amongst the spectacle of a blockbuster in "X-Men: First Class," and then wowed arthouse crowds with this powerful performance as a man crippled by sex addiction in Oscar-snubbed "Shame" (a shame, indeed). So right now, he's in a pretty good spot and likely has his pick of projects. Of course, he plans to reteam with Steve McQueen for "Twelve Years A Slave" this summer and is circling the lead in Ridley Scott's Cormac McCarthy-penned "The Counselor" (should that actually come together and be a real thing). And now you can call him, without hyperbole, an Irish myth.

'Act Of Valor' Filmmakers Line Up Car Chase Pic 'High Speed'

  • By Benjamin Wright
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  • February 17, 2012 11:46 AM
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  • 4 Comments
If you’re anything like this writer, when you saw the trailer for “Act of Valor” during this past Super Bowl, you may have thought, “Looks like action movies have finally become videogames.” Looking like a cross between an XBOX title like “Call of Duty” and a Michael Bay film on a miniscule budget, “Act of Valor” seems to be aiming to please audiences in the heartland, along with a little help from a tagline that reads “A Motion Picture Featuring Active Duty Navy Seals.” Honoring the brave men and women who serve in our armed forces is one thing, but when you can do a quick Google search and discover that this project started off as a recruitment ad, 'Valor' starts to feel a little like propaganda.

Disney Picks Up 'Coach' By 'Moneyball' Writer Michael Lewis, Producer From 'The Blind Side' Behind Film

  • By Joe Cunningham
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  • February 17, 2012 11:22 AM
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"Moneyball" has proved to be an unequivocal success. With six Academy Award nominations, an extremely warm critical reception and a solid showing at the box office everyone involved must have been busy giving themselves slaps on the back to celebrate a job well done. The thing is though, it's hard to imagine whose career the success has significantly affected. Director Bennett Miller had already broken through with "Capote", Steve Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin were already two of the (if not the two) biggest name screenwriters in Hollywood, while Brad Pitt is Brad Pitt. It's probably easiest to make a case for Jonah Hill whose strong turn and Oscar nod mean he will now be able to balance his comedic roles with a few more dramatic ones.

Berlinale 2012 Review: 'Bel Ami' Starring Robert Pattinson Fails To Seduce

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • February 17, 2012 11:00 AM
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  • 21 Comments
From behind, we watch a man in ragged clothes look longingly through the window of a fancy Belle Epoque Parisian restaurant. Inside, richly attired women whisper secrets over brimful glasses of champagne and decadent platters laden with food. Later, the hungry man in his mean garret relives the moment, jealousy and bitterness at the injustice of his situation playing across his face, before the memory of such opulence actually makes him cry. It's a convincing, well-observed moment that sets up a lot of what we need to know about the man's character. Oh wait, did we mention the man is played by Robert Pattinson?

Guy Maddin On The "Sweet Sadness" Of 'Keyhole' & His Love For 'Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol'

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • February 17, 2012 10:57 AM
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  • 0 Comments
You could forgive Guy Maddin for feeling a little put out at the moment. The Canadian filmmaker has, for nearly 25 years, been faithfully paying homage to the early days of cinema with films like "Archangel," "Twilight of the Ice Nymphs" and "The Saddest Music In The World" to little commercial success, only to see "The Artist" become an awards-laden phenomenon this year. But actually (as we'll see) Maddin hasn't been paying much attention. Instead, he's been focused on his latest film, the gangster memory tale, "Keyhole," with Jason Patric, Isabella Rossellini and Udo Kier, among others.

Comeback Trail For Brett Ratner Includes Directing A GLAAD Campaign & Jennifer Lopez Video

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • February 17, 2012 10:40 AM
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  • 3 Comments
Somewhere along the way during the press circuit for "Tower Heist" last fall, Brett Ratner's brain malfunctioned. In a string of high publicized incidents, the director managed to brag about banging Olivia Munn, tell a Q&A audience that rehearsals were for "fags" before going on "The Howard Stern Show" and giving a no holds barred account of: his sperm count; how condoms strangle his cock; throwing baloney on a girl's ass; his preference for how vaginas are groomed; how he sends a woman to his doctor before he sleeps with them; and a detailed account of the time he was caught screwing a Victoria Secret's model only to be walked in on by his then girlfriend Lindsay Lohan. We're not making this up (listen to it here). Needless to say, he got in all kinds of hot water and had to step down as producer of the Oscars. But Ratner is plotting his comeback trail.

Watch: Clive Owen Searches For Hollow Face In New Trailer For 'Intruders'

  • By Benjamin Wright
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  • February 17, 2012 10:15 AM
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  • 0 Comments
When Juan Carlos Fresnadillo burst onto the scene with his Spanish-language feature “Intacto” in 2001, many took notice, including director Danny Boyle who would pass the torch of the undead along to the young helmer for the second installment of the “28 Days Later” franchise. Paying respects to Boyle’s work, while also acting as a perfectly capable standalone film, 2007’s “28 Weeks Later” surpassed many audience’s expectations. With so much momentum in his career, it was odd to watch the hype surrounding Fresnadillo dissipate, and that was certainly not helped by Bradley Cooper-starring remake of “The Crow” stalling before it ever really got off the ground.
More: Intruders

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