The Playlist

Venice Review: Stephen Frears' 'Philomena' Starring Judi Dench & Steve Coogan

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • August 31, 2013 1:09 PM
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  • 1 Comment
The term "Oscar bait" is one that, unfortunately, gets bandied about a lot this time of year. At worst, it's used to refer to every faintly serious-minded film released between July and December. At best, it describes a very particular kind of middlebrow drama that seems to have been created from the ground up with the sole purpose of appealing to the Academy—think "The Iron Lady" or "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close," to name two recent examples. Stephen Frears' "Philomena" appears on the surface to fit into the latter category.

Venice Review: James Franco's Cormac McCarthy Adaptation 'Child Of God'

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • August 31, 2013 11:33 AM
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  • 8 Comments
James Franco might not be the first person to debut a film he'd directed at each of the three major European festivals in the same year (Ulrich Seidl recently managed the feat with his 'Paradise' trilogy, albeit not in the same calendar year). But it's an undoubtedly impressive run, especially given that Franco has spent the same period of time starring in two legitimate blockbusters in the shape of "Oz The Great And Powerful" and "This Is The End," as well as working on his umpteen other projects of various shapes and sizes.

Telluride Review: Steve McQueen's '12 Years A Slave' Starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender & More

  • By Chris Willman
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  • August 31, 2013 10:55 AM
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  • 17 Comments
12 Years A Slave
Steve McQueen’s “12 Years a Slave” instantly establishes itself as the most unflinching of all slave dramas, which is to say, there is plenty of flinching, not to mention cowering and recoiling and passing out, thanks to beatings and whippings that arrive at roughly 10-to-15-minute intervals throughout a 133-minute running time. “Amistad,” meet the Marquis de Sade, in the form of slavemaster Michael Fassbender, who puts his victims through more tortures than Mel Gibson ever could have imagined for Jesus.

Telluride Review: 'Prisoners' Starring Hugh Jackman & Jake Gyllenhaal

  • By Rodrigo Perez
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  • August 31, 2013 9:37 AM
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  • 18 Comments
Prisoners
Director Denis Villeneuve and actor Jake Gyllenhaal are on the precipice of having a tremendous fall film festival season. Arriving in just a few short days is their first collaboration, “Enemy,” a terrific psychological doppelganger thriller that will premiere next week in Toronto. But first up, the pair (along with co-lead Hugh Jackman) unleashed their first collaboration, “Prisoners,” at Telluride last night as one of the “surprise” screenings of the festival. And if this dark, intense and engrossing drama is any indication of what’s to come, it bodes very well for future collaborations.

Venice Review: Kelly Reichardt's 'Night Moves' With Jesse Eisenberg & Dakota Fanning

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • August 30, 2013 5:00 PM
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  • 12 Comments
Night Moves, Jesse Eisenberg
After the acclaimed trio of “Old Joy,” “Wendy & Lucy” and “Meek’s Cutoff,” Kelly Reichardt was already proving hard to pin down. The three films that made her name (plus her lesser-known earlier works “ Ode” and “River Of Grass”) are immediately recognizable as the work of the director, but very different from each other thematically, if perhaps not formally. Whatever her next move was going to be, it was going to be interesting, but few would have predicted that it would be “Night Moves” – a crackling little suspense thriller/morality play indebted to Dostoyevsky and Hitchcock. But while it’s a left turn, it’s at least as good as the films that came before it, and still with the same recognizable DNA intact.

Telluride Review: Jonathan Glazer's 'Under The Skin' Starring Scarlett Johansson

  • By Chris Willman
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  • August 30, 2013 4:40 PM
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  • 11 Comments
Under The Skin
If you’re a random male pedestrian and a gal who looks like Scarlett Johansson ever pulls up and offers to take you to her place for a quickie, the logical thing to do would be run like hell, since this could only be either a sting or a sign of the apocalypse, no matter how good looking a fellow you are. But lust trumps logic as Johansson lures a bevy of bros to their doom in “Under the Skin,” which screened Friday night at the Telluride Film Festival.

Venice Review: David Gordon Green's 'Joe' Starring Nicolas Cage & Tye Sheridan

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • August 30, 2013 4:39 PM
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  • 9 Comments
“Joe” unites a pair of talents somewhat on the comeback trail. David Gordon Green’s once-lofty critical reputation—the filmmaker was once lauded as a successor to Terrence Malick—took something of a hit after a left-turn into poorly-received studio comedies like “Your Highness” and "The Sitter," but this year’s “Prince Avalanche” seemed to mark a return to the lo-fi indies he made his name with. Meanwhile, Nicolas Cage’s status as a major star and as one of his generation’s most acclaimed actors has been threatened in recent years by a series of low-rent pictures, seemingly taken for the paycheck alone, which have seen the actor increasingly descend into either self-parody, or deep boredom.

Jonah Nolan & J.J. Abrams Team For 'Westworld' Remake At HBO

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • August 30, 2013 4:36 PM
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  • 1 Comment
It seems in the dark and frightening world of sci-fi franchise extensions and do-overs, they will all belong to J.J. Abrams. With feet planted both in "Star Trek" and "Star Wars," it looks like Abrams is putting his name to another vintage era movie, and this time bringing it to the small screen.

Watch: Batman Yells At Sean Parker In New Clip From 'Runner Runner' Plus New Pics & Featurette

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • August 30, 2013 4:21 PM
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  • 2 Comments
Runner Runner
BATFFLECK! With the nerds in comic book stores still wringing their hands with worry over Daredevil (dudes, that was ten years ago) taking over the cape and cowl, audiences will get an early taste of Bad Ben in "Runner Runner" (we're presuming Batman will be a thorn in the side of Superman before they team up to save the world). And heading into the long weekend, a new clip, featurette and pics are here for the upcoming thriller.

Exclusive: Clip & Poster For TIFF Contemporary World Cinema Entry 'Cinemanovels'

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • August 30, 2013 3:56 PM
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  • 1 Comment
While the world is getting ready to come to TIFF next month, with pictures from all corners of the globe making their splashy red carpet premieres, it can be easy to forget there's talent on Canada's homegrown soil also looking for some attention. And director Terry Miles will be on hand to unveil his latest, "Cinemanovels."

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