The Playlist

Sundance: James Marsh Talks 'Shadow Dancer,' Circling 'Tinker Tailor' & The Oscar Snub For 'The Interrupters' & 'Senna'

  • By John Lichman
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  • January 29, 2012 2:07 PM
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The culmination of James Marsh's slow-burn thriller “Shadow Dancer” is a change of color and a rather sudden spoiler engulfed in a fireball. But it's also another change in direction for the Oscar-winning director of “Man On Wire” and last year’s “Project Nim” that again displays the helmer’s versatility, as he moves between feature films and documentaries. And with his latest starring Clive Owen and Andrea Riseborough, Marsh once again gives viewers a rich world worth exploring, this time in Ireland during The Troubles.

'Beasts Of The Southern Wild' Tops The 2012 Sundance Film Festival Awards

  • By The Playlist
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  • January 29, 2012 12:53 PM
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  • 3 Comments
It was a fait accompli pretty much from minute one. No other film at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival got as much buzz as 29-year-old first-time feature-length filmmaker Benh Zeitlin's "Beasts Of The Southern Wild," a mythical film about a 6-year-old girl who lives in a southern Delta community at the edge of the world (read our review here). And so it was no surprise that the film won the jury prize for best drama (and cinematography) at last night's Sundance awards ceremony.

Weekend Box Office: 'The Grey' Sees Green, While Audiences Stay Away From The 'Ledge'

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • January 29, 2012 12:14 PM
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  • 3 Comments
Good ole’ dependable Liam Neeson. This is the third straight early-year period where the character actor turned badass leading man has scored a number one hit. While “The Grey” couldn’t pull in the same numbers as “Taken” or “Unknown,” it did top $20 million. Not a bad figure considering this was a much less commercial beast, with an R-rating, and it’s arguable that few leading men could have gotten a man-vs.-wilderness drama into an eight figure debut. This is distributor Open Road’s second ever release. Their first, last year’s “Killer Elite,” seemed like a surefire commercial proposition, but it pulled in half of what “The Grey” is looking to make on this opening weekend. You could argue this was a bait and switch, as the ads centered around spoiling, and misinterpreting, the film’s ending -- Cinemascore was a not-entirely-kind B-. But everyone got the opening they wanted -- this puts Open Road on the map, it gets Joe Carnahan out of Director Jail following “The A-Team” and it continues Neeson’s winning streak. Also worth noting: throughout each week in 2012 so far, the number one slot at the box office has been filled by R-rated fare.

Sundance Review: Richard Gere Shines In The Gripping Moral Morass Of 'Arbitrage'

  • By William Goss
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  • January 29, 2012 12:02 PM
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  • 6 Comments
Robert Miller (Richard Gere) is celebrating his 60th birthday at the start of "Arbitrage," first with his family – including wife Ellen (Susan Sarandon) and daughter/chief financial officer Brooke (Brit Marling) – and then with his mistress, Julie (Laetitia Casta). As the hedge fund manager’s deep financial woes become apparent to us, one wonders if he isn’t wishing while blowing out two cakes’ worth of candles for the ability to convince every character around that he still has the Midas touch.

Director's Guild Of America Names 'The Artist' Helmer Michel Hazanavicius Outstanding Director Of The Year

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • January 29, 2012 8:24 AM
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  • 4 Comments
It's a decade since the winner of the Director's Guild of America award went on to lose the Oscar -- Rob Marshall picked up the DGA prize for "Chicago" in 2002, only to lose out to Roman Polanski for "The Pianist" at the Academy Awards. Two years before that, DGA winner Ang Lee was beaten by Steven Soderbergh. In the last forty years, only four in total (the others being Steven Spielberg for "The Color Purple" and Ron Howard for "Apollo 13," neither of whom even picked up Oscar nominations) have won with the Director's Guild without picking up the Oscar.

Sundance Review: 'Red Lights' Invites You To Stop, Look & Listen

  • By William Goss
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  • January 28, 2012 6:53 PM
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What you see, you can’t believe. What you can’t understand, though, can ultimately be explained. This is the modus operandi for Margaret Matheson (Sigourney Weaver) and assistant Tom Buckley (Cillian Murphy), parapsychologists primarily interested in debunking supernatural phenomena. “When I see hoof prints,” she says, “I think of horses, not unicorns.” They work out of the Scientific Paranormal Research Center, a budget-strained department of an anonymous university, luring in curious students like Sally (Elizabeth Olsen) and Ben (Craig Roberts) while butting heads with the well-supported likes of Dr. Paul Shackleton (Toby Jones).

Sundance Review: 'Save The Date' Is Light & Endearing Without Being Insubstantial; What Other Rom-Coms Should Aspire To

  • By Cory Everett
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  • January 28, 2012 3:12 PM
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  • 2 Comments
With the countless number of romantic comedies focused on how difficult it is for a woman to find a good man, it’s incredibly refreshing to see one where the tables are turned. In “Save The Date,” Lizzy Caplan stars as Sarah, a struggling illustrator who keeps herself afloat by managing a local book store.

Review: Michael Mann & David Milch's 'Luck' Is Slow Out Of The Gate, But Eventually Builds Into A Gallop

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • January 28, 2012 1:32 PM
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  • 12 Comments
The above quote, from a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times, illustrates one of the fundamental frustrations in watching "Luck," the new horse racing world drama on HBO. Birthed by Michael Mann and David Milch ("Deadwood," "NYPD Blue"), their creative clashes during the production are no secret, leading to a sharp line being drawn in terms of creative duties (nicely outlined by The Atlantic) that essentially saw Milch have total control on the scripts, while Mann oversaw everything on set (reportedly including a three-ring binder filled with detailed instructions from lighting to camera angles on how to shoot to show for the directors of each episode). The result is a series that is somewhat stilted, enegertically shot, but often lethargically paced, dropping the viewer into a world they will have to adapt and learn about quickly.
More: Luck, HBO , Review

Sundance: Dennis Quaid & Writer/Director Lee Sternthal Talk Shooting Digitally & Making 'The Words'

  • By John Lichman
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  • January 28, 2012 10:49 AM
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Dennis Quaid is as talented as his willing to tackle of variety of films. From big special effects blockbusters (“G.I. Joe: The Rise Of The Cobra”) to acclaimed dramas (“Far From Heaven,” “Traffic”) to carefully pitched dramedies (“In Good Company”), he’s shown a knack for moving skillfully from project to project, whatever it may be.

Sundance: Joe Berlinger Talks Going 'Under African Skies' With Paul Simon, His Academy Award Nomination & Changes To Oscar Voting Rules

  • By Todd Gilchrist
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  • January 28, 2012 9:56 AM
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  • 1 Comment
If there was a shortlist of the best documentarians in cinema history, Joe Berlinger would definitely be on it. His first theatrical project was “Brother’s Keeper,” an award-winning portrait of a rural family that found a context in the divide between country and city life; his second was “Paradise Lost,” a film that exposed the vagaries of the American justice system, spawned two follow-ups, and was ultimately instrumental in helping the West Memphis Three prevail over the injustices they suffered. Since then, he’s continued to dominate the landscape of documentary filmmaking with projects on both film and TV. However, hot on the heels of his Academy Award nomination for “Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory,” he's back with “Under African Skies,” a documentary about the creation and cultural history of Paul Simon’s landmark 1987 album Graceland.

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