The Playlist

Telluride '11 Review: Jennifer Garner's 'Butter' Churns and Churns But Doesn’t Produce Cream

  • By The Playlist
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  • September 4, 2011 6:49 AM
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  • 7 Comments
Ostensibly an edgy satire that fancies itself having a wicked bite, Jennifer Garner’s pet-project “Butter,” instead employs long and broad satirical strokes that never land many effective laughs or blows. You know a comedy is seriously in trouble when there are long, uncomfortable stretches where not a soul laughs in a jam-packed theater - such was the case with the sold-out house screening of “Butter” at the Telluride Film Festival Saturday night.

Weekend Box Office: Three Straight Weeks At #1 For 'The Help'

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • September 4, 2011 3:53 AM
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  • 3 Comments
There are all sorts of qualifiers to this summer becoming the most financially robust in box office history. Chief amongst them are both the inferior product, but also the illusion of 3D prices, which do an excellent job of covering up the consistently-dropping attendance numbers. In other words, money is money, inflated or otherwise, and not enough people balked at the enhanced prices, even though a number of 3D films loudly flopped this summer.

Venice '11 Review: Al Pacino's 'Wilde Salome' An Oddity Dominated By Titanic Jessica Chastain Turn

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • September 4, 2011 2:57 AM
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  • 6 Comments
When did Alfredo James Pacino, Greatest Actor Of His Generation, turn into Shouty Al, Star Of "Righteous Kill" And "Jack and Jill"? The exact moment that the transformation took place is debatable, but it's hard to deny that, aside from some occasional good HBO work, Pacino has become a grotesque, bellowing inflation of former glories more often than not. But we live in hope that it's not a one way street, and that the star may find his way back to subtler movie work that he actually cares about. After all, he does, unlike many of his contemporaries, continue to return to the stage frequently, for much-praised performances, in the likes of "Orphans," "The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui" and, most recently, "The Merchant of Venice." And it's one of these stage turns that forms the center of Pacino's second film as director, "Wilde Salome," which like his debut "Looking For Richard," is a documentary examining one of his favorite plays, and the writer behind them.

Review: Direct-To-DVD 'Blitz' Falls Somewhere In The Middle Of The Jason Statham Spectrum

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • September 4, 2011 2:33 AM
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  • 2 Comments
The world of “Blitz” is made up almost entirely of cops. On this cop planet, where the occasional child wanders into trouble and eventually is saved by said cops, these 9-to-5ers struggle to pay bills, worry about pensions, and operate from dingy, drab boardrooms. There’s a stark contrast between the ratty, dilapidated apartments where they live and the pristine, glassy office of a police psychologist. Most of these men and women are punching a clock, and seem too far down the food chain to change anything about this.

Have Jean-Claude Van Damme & Chuck Norris Officially Joined 'Expendables 2'?

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • September 4, 2011 2:21 AM
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  • 7 Comments
Duo Listed In 'The Expendables 2' Cast On Millenium Films' WebsiteCasting rumors have long been circulating for "The Expendables 2," with names like John Travolta, Donnie Yen and Taylor Lautner among those being linked to the action sequel. While none of these have been confirmed, the website for Millennium Films has posted a cast list for the high testosterone actioner, slated for release next August, and in addition to the returning cast, the two new names are ones we've heard about several times already: Chuck Norris and Jean-Claude Van Damme.

Telluride '11 Review: Glenn Close's Exquisite Performance Powers 'Albert Nobbs'

  • By The Playlist
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  • September 4, 2011 2:01 AM
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  • 3 Comments
The 19th century Ireland of director Rodrigo García's "Albert Nobbs" is rigid with insurmountable societal distinctions: every soul has his or her station firmly proscribed at birth, and escape is virtually unheard of. Against this stifling backdrop, García crafts an engaging, entertaining and enlightening piece of work that is richly dramatic and underscored by moments of wry, quiet humor. It doesn't hurt that, making good on all the pre-festival buzz, the film features Glenn Close in a performance that seems destined to earn her a sixth Oscar nomination and perhaps her first win (it would be well deserved).  She plays a woman who is passing as a man, the Albert Nobbs of the title. This she does in order to survive but also, perhaps, through careful planning, to find an unconventional way to fulfill closely held dreams and better her place in Irish society. As a butler in a Dublin hotel, The Morrison, Albert is precise, quiet, and as would be expected of one in that position, almost invisible. She’s frugal too; saving up money over the years with the goal of buying and running her own tobacco shop.

Carey Mulligan To Star In Nicolas Winding Refn's Sex Thriller 'I Walk With The Dead'

  • By The Playlist
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  • September 3, 2011 11:22 AM
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  • 8 Comments
If you need an indication that the colorful A-list cast of Nicolas Winding Refn's hotly-tipped genre noir "Drive" got on with the Danish filmmaker like a house on fire, look no further than Refn's next few projects for proof. Shooting next, the Bangkok-set neo-Western "Only God Forgives" will also star lead "Drive" actor Ryan Gosling (alongside Kristin Scott Thomas), the "Half Nelson" actor is also developing a "Logan's Run" remake with Refn, and there's even been talk of a romantic comedy for the duo that would be written by "Drive" heavy Albert Brooks.

Venice '11 Review: 'Persepolis' Follow-Up 'Chicken With Plums' Is Amiable & Pretty, But Twee & Thin

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • September 3, 2011 5:12 AM
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  • 3 Comments
It can be difficult to shift from animation to live-action direction; the processes are very different, and even an accomplished animation helmer can sometimes be undone once they're faced with cameras, actors and the breakneck schedule of a feature film shoot, as opposed to the multi-year process that produces a feature cartoon. Some have managed it, Tim Burton being the most obvious example (at first, anyway...) and Pixar dons Brad Bird and Andrew Stanton are both hoping to make the leap in the next few months. But it's got to be even harder to go from working in graphic novels, to animation, to live-action, but that's been the path for Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud in the last few years.

Watch: First Footage From Madonna's Venice Flop 'W.E.'

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • September 3, 2011 2:23 AM
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  • 27 Comments
The fall festival season had its first major league flop as Madonna's sophomore directorial effort "W.E." was roundly crucified and/or dismissed as an opulent folly after its premiere at the Venice Film Festival. Our own Oliver Lyttelton gave the film an F, saying that "despite a couple of solid performances, the film can’t be redeemed," pointing to a litany of gaffes from clumsy editing and shot blocking to the script itself, which offers very little reason to be providing two parallel storylines that seemingly have little to connect them. Naturally, the failure has grown curiosity about the film, and two clips have now landed online that give a taste of what Madonna delivered to the critics in Italy.
More: Films, W.E.

Venice '11 Review: 'Contagion' Is A Propulsive, Terrifying Picture With A Top-Notch Cast

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • September 3, 2011 1:46 AM
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  • 5 Comments
Disaster -- an eternally popular obsession of film. Audiences have turned up in droves over the last century or so to watch mankind against their own extinction in the form of meteorites, earthquakes, alien invasions, exploding suns, planetary collisions, and whatever it was that was happening in "The Core." One of the more popular hypotheses is that when the end comes -- and it will -- it'll be not with a bang, but with a whimper. And that's what Steven Soderbergh has examined in "Contagion," his first studio film since 2007's "Ocean's Thirteen," that finds the spread of a deadly bird flu-type virus the source of man's demise.

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