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The Playlist

Sundance Review: Good Performances & Narrative Tapestry Can't Save Emotionally Distant 'The Words'

  • By Todd Gilchrist
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  • January 21, 2012 5:02 PM
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  • 3 Comments
A combination of shopworn literary clichés combined with an “Inception”-worthy daisy chain of White People Problems, “The Words” fails to surpass dramatically the bland lack of specificity in its title while still offering a solid roundup of performances from its talented ensemble cast. Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal, who received story credit for “TRON: Legacy” (a film this writer liked a lot), wrote and directed this flashback-laden tale of a novelist coming to terms with his life and work by writing a book about a novelist coming to terms with his life and work.

Jonny Greenwood & Krzysztof Penderecki's Album Lands March 13th, Features Music From 'There Will Be Blood' & More

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • January 21, 2012 1:17 PM
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  • 0 Comments
To call avant garde composer Krzysztof Penderecki an influence on Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood would be an understatement, but what has been so thrilling to watch is how the alternative-guitarist-turned-film-scorer has created his own bold, creative voice outside the band with his orchestral work. Well, Penderecki and Greenwood have at long last combined forces for an album which will illustrate musically both the passing of the torch from one generation to another, and yet also, how Penderecki's work continues to stand tall today.

Sundance Review: 'The Raid' Is A Triumph Of Kicks, Punches & Unrelenting Thrills

  • By Todd Gilchrist
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  • January 21, 2012 11:26 AM
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  • 7 Comments
If you ever wanted a feature-length version of the scene from Tony Jaa’s “The Protector” where in one shot he literally fights his way up to the roof of a building filled with baddies, then “The Raid” is the movie for you. Although his two previous films failed to make an impression outside of Indonesia, writer-director Gareth Evans crafts a relentless – and relentlessly exciting -- onslaught of visceral entertainment with his tale of a SWAT team that’s ambushed after being assigned to invade a drug kingpin’s heavily-fortified stronghold. Featuring fight sequences almost literally from start to finish, “The Raid” is an action-lover’s dream, precisely because it pitches the choreography at a thrilling but believable level that prevents viewers from succumbing to an overdose of kicks and punches.

Sundance Review: 'West Of Memphis' An Exhausting & Exhaustive Chronicle Of Justice

  • By William Goss
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  • January 21, 2012 11:06 AM
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  • 0 Comments
"West of Memphis" doesn’t ignore the fact that filmmakers Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky have already crafted a trilogy of documentaries concerning the perceived injustice of the West Memphis Three, three Arkansas teens convicted in 1994 of murdering three young boys in 1993. In their small town, the threat of satanic cults made the juvenile delinquents ripe for persecution, but over the two decades since, conflicting testimonies and newly uncovered evidence have caused many to reach out and champion their cause of innocence.

Sundance Review: 'Tim & Eric's Billion Dollar Movie' Is An Absurdist Blast

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • January 21, 2012 4:20 AM
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  • 5 Comments
The comedy style that Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim have perfected over five years on their completely bizarre Cartoon Network sketch comedy series "Tim and Eric, Awesome Show Great Job!" goes something like this: they dress up in funny outfits, get a bunch of celebrities (including Ben Stiller, Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, Ted Danson, and Zach Galifianakis) to do the same, layer on screechy or slurpy sound effects, liberally punctuate with lots of screaming or crying, round out the cast with actors that look like they're either homeless or have been rescued from an insane asylum, and edit the entire thing like it's from some psychedelic version of a 1980s cable access channel.

Julia Roberts, Alec Baldwin, Matt Bomer & Jim Parsons Join Ryan Murphy's 'The Normal Heart' With Mark Ruffalo

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • January 20, 2012 11:03 PM
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  • 2 Comments
Having conquered television with "Glee," it looks like the show's creator Ryan Murphy is gunning for equal big screen success, and he's assembled a helluva cast to bring the Tony award-winning, criticially acclaimed "The Normal Heart" to the big screen. Already in the works with Mark Ruffalo attached way back in the summer of 2010, the project picked up more steam when Brad Pitt took it under the wing of his Plan B shingle last year. And now it has brought some major talent on board.

Spike Lee Would Love To Make A Musical With Prince Or Kanye West; 'Red Hook Summer' Aiming For Summer Release

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • January 20, 2012 5:42 PM
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  • 3 Comments
It says something about the state of film financing today that Spike Lee had to pay out of pocket himself for his upcoming "Red Hook Summer." But it also makes its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival all the more fitting, at an event where big stars tend to take to center stage, the filmmaker is arriving with a movie starring a cast nearly entirely made of unknowns, telling exactly the sort of story Hollywood just doesn't make. And Lee is well aware that the people who control the money, just aren't interested in black characters or stories.

'The Host' Finds The Seeker In Diane Kruger

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • January 20, 2012 4:56 PM
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  • 5 Comments
While she spent 2011 losing out on roles in blockbuster movies after testing for "Oblivion," "Total Recall" and "Man Of Steel," don't weep for Diane Kruger. The actress toplines "Farewell, My Queen" as Marie Antoinette in the film which premieres at the Berlin International Film Festival next month, and not only that, she's finally snagged a role in a brewing picture that comes with a "Twilight" connection.

Review: Overwrought & Superficial ‘Flowers Of War’ Never Even Blooms

  • By The Playlist
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  • January 20, 2012 4:33 PM
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  • 4 Comments
While the historically overlooked massacre and genocide of China's city of Nanking is experiencing a resurgence in cultural awareness (and therefore cinema) as an under-remembered tragedy worth memorializing (see the 2007 documentary "Nanking"), the brutal events – Japan killing 200,000 people in their 1937 overthrowing of the region – is still mostly unknown outside of the East.

Watch: Matthew McConaughey Reprises David Wooderson From 'Dazed & Confused' In Video For Butch Walker's "Synthesizers"

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • January 20, 2012 4:10 PM
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  • 1 Comment
It was just this week around the Playlist watercooler that we were talking about the awesomeness of Matthew McConaughey. That the guy is a charisma machine is without question, but his skills as an actor often go underappreciated. Last year's hit "The Lincoln Lawyer" was only watchable because of McConaughey (plus bonus points to Shea Whigham however), with the actor selling the smarmy, slick lawyer so winningly we wanted to see where (the increasingly absurd and pretty dumb) case and story went. And even when he wallows in dull rom-coms, he's still the best thing around, and dare we say, "Failure To Launch" has enough McConaughey Moments (as we like to call them) to make it worth a (very drunken) watch.

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