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The Playlist

Joe Carnahan To Write & Direct Remake Of 'Death Wish'

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • January 30, 2012 9:04 AM
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  • 1 Comment
Joe Carnahan must be feeling vindicated this morning. The writer/director broke out with 2002's terrific, muscular cop thriller "Narc," but hasn't had a lot of joy since: his 2006 sub-Guy Ritchie action-comedy "Smokin' Aces" wasn't beloved by many, while a director-for-hire gig on the would-be-tentpole "The A-Team" was tepidly received by audiences and critics alike. But from that, he reteamed with star Liam Neeson for a far more personal project, the existential killer-wolf survival tale "The Grey," and was validated in a big way when the positively-received film topped the box office this weekend with a strong $20 million haul. Presumably, this has given him the cache to make something bigger and better next time around, something even dearer to his heart, like dream projects "White Jazz" or "Killing Pablo."

Sundance Review: 'Under African Skies' A Straightforward, But Feel Good Triumph For Fans Of Paul Simon's 'Graceland'

  • By Todd Gilchrist
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  • January 30, 2012 8:31 AM
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  • 0 Comments
A simultaneous portrait of a great moment in music and terrible one in human history, “Under African Skies” tells the story of the making of Paul Simon’s Graceland, and the backdrop of oppression out of which it triumphantly emerged. Director Joe Berlinger takes a closer look at the creation of the landmark album via Simon’s collaborations with a cross-section of South African musicians, in the process highlighting a volatile time in that country’s history, and arguing that the record eventually contributed to the downfall of apartheid, if indirectly. Clean and accurate to its premise without necessarily transcending expectations, “Under African Skies” is a documentary version of “The Help” in that it completely satisfies audiences’ demand for social justice without doing anything surprising in the process.

Sundance Review: 'V/H/S' A Solidly Delivered Horror Anthology That Brings The Thrills

  • By William Goss
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  • January 30, 2012 7:59 AM
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  • 0 Comments
When compared to the pristine picture quality of Blu-ray, the VHS format is a decrepit, grungy thing, so how better to make an anthology of grimy spook stories than to embrace that aesthetic all-around as "V/H/S" does? Made up of six found-footage style segments – few of which actually attempt to replicate the look of old tape, but all of which have their distinct variations in interference and texture – it’s a film consumed with bad deeds recorded and recovered, helmed by a who’s-who of current genre mavens and delivered with a good sense of playfulness around concepts and conceits generally exploited to lure in the gullible masses for the sake of a single opening weekend.

Is The Oscar Next? 'The Help' Tops The 18th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards With Three Prizes Including Best Ensemble

  • By The Playlist
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  • January 29, 2012 8:06 PM
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  • 4 Comments
Well, that’s a wrap. It was pretty much between “The Artist” and “The Help,” but the populist civil rights era film edged out the crowd-pleasing silent film. While “The Artist” is still probably the Best Picture favorite at the Oscars, it was “The Help” that won the Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture award at the 18th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards.

Sundance Review: Weird & Sometimes Confusing 'John Dies At The End' Is Still An Odd & Engaging Genre Treat

  • By John Lichman
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  • January 29, 2012 2:52 PM
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  • 0 Comments
The problem addressing fans of “Midnight” films and wacky horror can succinctly be found in the opening of Don Coscarelli's “John Dies At The End.” It involves axe handles, zombies, mutant leeches, axe heads, hardware store trips and answering a dead man as to whether or not the axe in question is the same that killed him. Confused? If you are, then you don't want to stick around. If you're too overjoyed that the spiritual successor to Sam Raimi has appeared, you're in luck.

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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  • 0 Comments
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.

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