The Playlist

Sundance: Director Craig Zobel Talks The Controversy, Criticism & Intent Of 'Compliance'

  • By Todd Gilchrist
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  • January 26, 2012 11:03 AM
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The Sundance Film Festival has always included provocative films in its programming, as much to challenge attendees’ expectations as to introduce to the world new, visionary filmmakers who aren’t afraid to take risks. In 2012, the film that has caused the most controversy is “Compliance,” Craig Zobel’s fictionalization of a string of incidents in which a caller posed as a police officer asks a restaurant manager to detain an employee, kicking off a string of events that lead to the sexual assault of a young woman (our review here). Undoubtedly as much because of their ignorance of what they were walking into as the moral ambiguity of the content itself, audience members were shocked by the film at its first screening, and questioned Zobel and his cast at the accompanying Q&A about why they made it. And although attendees were better prepared to watch it at a second screening days later, they responded to its story with a mix of admiration and outrage, prompting another contentious, but much more respectful discussion of its ambitions and its impact.

Sundance: Buzz Films 'Arbitrage,' 'Liberal Arts,' 'Robot & Frank' & 'V/H/S' All Find Distribution

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • January 26, 2012 10:40 AM
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As ever, Park City is quieting down again, with many journalists heading home after a week of Sundance madness. We've still got plenty of coverage to come, don't get us wrong, but as is so often the case with festivals, things tend to be a little front-loaded. Except, that is, on the business end; now that most films have unspooled, the acquisitions folk are ready to start handing out the checks. We've already seen a few big sales: Fox Searchlight took two of the best-reviewed films of the festival, "The Surrogate" and "Beasts Of The Southern Wild," while "For A Good Time Call," "Lay The Favorite," "Black Rock," "Celeste and Jesse Forever" and "Red Lights," among others, have all found homes.

First Look At Eva Mendes & Kylie Minogue In Leos Carax's 'Holly Motors'

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • January 26, 2012 10:19 AM
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  • 5 Comments
While it's probably still slightly too early to begin talking about what films will be headed to Cannes in May, one film that almost seems a certainty at this point is Leos Carax's "Holly Motors." Carax has already presented a film in competition with "Pola X" in 1999 and won Award For The Youth in 1984 for “Boy Meets Girl.” But whether it makes the Croisette or not, this is still one of the more intriguing arthouse prospects of the year.

Sundance: 'Paradise Lost' Director Joe Berlinger Talks About The "Unnecessary Friction" With 'West Of Memphis' Filmmakers

  • By Todd Gilchrist
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  • January 26, 2012 10:01 AM
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  • 12 Comments
For almost 20 years, documentarian Joe Berlinger (along with Bruce Sinofksy) has chronicled the complicated history of the West Memphis Three, a trio of Arkansas teenagers who were found guilty of a triple homicide despite questionable evidence. His first film about the trial, “Paradise Lost,” was released in 1996; Part 2, 'Revelations' followed in 2000, and Part 3, 'Purgatory,' just received a nomination for Best Documentary at this year’s Academy Awards. Berlinger never aspired to be the only filmmaker or news outlet pursuing the story, and in the last year or so, a couple of high-profile projects were initiated about the trial, including the documentary “West of Memphis,” produced by Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh and directed by Amy Berg, and an adaptation of the book “Devil’s Knot,” an account of the crimes written by Mara Levirett, with Atom Egoyan set to direct and Reese Witherspoon to star.

Can't Make It To Sundance? Here's Clips From 'Arbitrage,' 'Grabbers,' 'The Art Of Rap' & 'I Am Not A Hipster'

  • By Joe Cunningham
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  • January 26, 2012 9:43 AM
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  • 1 Comment
Who’s bummed out that they can’t be in Park City right now? Who really wishes they were at Sundance watching all these new movies that the internet is full of buzz about? Good, it’s not just me then. Well to make things slightly easier a bunch of films that have premiered there in the past week have released some footage so the rest of us can get a taste of what we’ve been missing.

'Downton Abbey' Star Hugh Bonneville Eyes Peter James' Thriller 'Dead Simple' As Big-Screen Starring Role

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • January 26, 2012 9:19 AM
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"Downton Abbey" has gone from being a simple TV series to something of a phenomenon. The country house soap opera, created by "Gosford Park" Oscar-winner Julian Fellowes, became an instant smash on British TV, and its upstairs/downstairs appeal has carried over to the States in a big way -- it's not every British period drama that gets live-tweeted by Patton Oswalt, now, is it? And with its award-winning success inevitably comes the lure of the big screen for its cast. Names like Dame Maggie Smith and Jim Carter are obviously familiar film faces, but it's providing launching pads for some of its less well known actors too.

'Pariah' Director Dee Rees Writing A New Script Called 'Large Print' & Working On An HBO Series With Viola Davis

  • By Benjamin Wright
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  • January 26, 2012 8:58 AM
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While Spike Lee may be making headlines at the Sundance Film Festival for both his fiery rants and his latest effort “Red Hook Summer,” he took some time out to help boost the profile of a rising filmmaker who is already earning acclaim. Lee appeared alongside Dee Rees of “Pariah” fame (he executive produced the film), and the pair had an extended conversation with New York Times writer David Carr that’s well worth the watch (it's in full below).

Sundance Review: 'Nobody Walks' Is A Sensual, Emotionally Complex Film With Humor & Humanity

  • By Cory Everett
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  • January 26, 2012 8:30 AM
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  • 3 Comments
Martine (Olivia Thirlby), a 23 year-old New York artist arrives in L.A. to complete a short film for an upcoming exhibit. We see her embracing a lover in the airport parking lot and just before things get too carried away she puts on the brakes and tells him that it was nice meeting him on the plane. This girl is going to be trouble. The opening credits roll as Martine makes her way from the airport, gazing out the window to take everything in as the city rushes by. With a synthy score by Brooklyn duo Fall On Your Sword (who also scored last year’s Sundance hit “Another Earth” as well as director Ry Russo-Young’s first film “You Won’t Miss Me”), L.A. seems really cool. Coming from the confined apartments and gray skies of NYC (in the winter anyway) the wide open spaces of the west coast start to look really attractive. Martine arrives at the beautiful Silverlake house of therapist Julie (Rosemary DeWitt) and sound designer Peter (John Krasinski) who, due to a loose family connection, have agreed to put her up while Peter can helps her complete her film. Julie has two kids from a previous marriage and Peter as portrayed by the always affable Krasinski, decked out in hoodies and sneakers, seems more like a cool older brother than a step-dad.

Steven Spielberg Zeroing In On 'Saving Private Ryan' Style Moses Tale 'Gods And Kings'; Spring 2013 Start Eyed

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • January 25, 2012 11:05 PM
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  • 18 Comments
Taking on a Steven Soderbergh or Woody Allen-esque workload, Steven Spielberg -- who dropped two movies in 2011 with "War Horse" and "The Adventures Of Tintin" -- shows no sign of slowing down. He's already deep into his next film, the long developing dream project "Lincoln" which he'll deliver at the end year and after that, he'll shift gears and jump right into "Robopocalypse" which already has a big summer tentpole date of July 3, 2013 penciled in. But it looks like he won't have a moment to slow down.

Sundance Review: Life, And Lust, Find A Way In Well-Performed But Standard-Issue 'The Surrogate'

  • By James Rocchi
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  • January 25, 2012 8:52 PM
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Inspired by the life and writings of Mark O'Brien -- a polio-stricken but determined journalist and poet confined to an iron lung since age six -- "The Surrogate" offers a less comprehensive look at O'Brien's life than Jessica Yu's excellent documentary "Breathing Lessons," but instead focuses on a small sliver of O'Brien's life and living. In 1988, O'Brien, then 38, made a decision to explore his own sexuality -- despite his paralysis - in part inspired by his own research into a story on sex and disability. Unsure about his ability to forge a relationship -- and concerned, as he puts it to his Catholic Priest and confessor, that he's "approaching his use-by date," O'Brien looks into hiring a sex surrogate. The surrogate, Cheryl Cohen Greene, explains that she's not a prostitute, but a therapist -- she and Mark will have six sessions, and then terminate their relationship. It sounds complex. It gets more so.

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