The Playlist

SXSW Review: Madcap Murder Mystery 'Wild Canaries'

  • By Katie Walsh
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  • March 10, 2014 12:04 PM
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Writer/director Lawrence Michael Levine’s film “Wild Canaries” is a tonal and genre departure from his previous feature, “Gabi On The Roof In July,” but his hipster Brooklyn milieu remains the same. This film poses the question: just how might a murder mystery in this yuppie brownstone setting play out? The result, with bumbling amateur detectives, constantly squabbling couples, and a pair of actually sane lesbians, is a mixed bag, to be honest.

Review: A Breezy, But Meandering 'A Bag Of Hammers' Is Only Half A Movie

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • May 11, 2012 11:05 AM
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There are ample pleasures of the half-movie. Features of the half-film include a lack of b-plot, a meandering tone, haphazard scenes, and a barely feature-length runtime. The reasons why productions result in half-movies usually come from vastly re-written scripts, overrunning schedules and/or eclipsing an allotted budget, but they tend to fade away into obscurity. “A Bag Of Hammers,” which opens in theaters showing actual whole movies this Friday, features a few likable actors and a strong score from Johnny Flynn, and so it qualifies as a breezy diversion of sorts. But is it a movie?

Tribeca Review: 'Free Samples' Isn't Worth Buying

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • April 22, 2012 8:20 AM
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  • 2 Comments
For some reason independent movies, especially the current wave of mumble-core with its earthy existentialism and waxy photographic quality, have the reputation of somehow being more “real” or “honest” than movies in the mainstream. Because these smaller movies arrive at some emotional truth more directly, they don’t have to dodge movie stars or CGI monsters. But watching a movie like USC grad Jay Gammill's “Free Samples,” which proudly wears its indie-ness on its sleeve like a badge of honor (when it’s really more of a disfiguring war wound), all you get are feelings of artificiality. It’s so phony and forced and cloying and cute, that you wonder how anyone could misdiagnose a movie like this as being more representative of the human experience than, say, something with werewolves or Tom Cruise.

Thomas Beatty's Dark Comedy 'Teddy Bears' Adds David Krumholtz, Melanie Lynskey, Jason Ritter, Gillian Jacobs & More

  • By Simon Dang
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  • March 28, 2012 9:22 AM
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  • 0 Comments
With his father Ned Beatty in tow, you'd be inclined to think Thomas Beatty could have called in a few more favours for his directorial debut, but it looks like the writer-director is keeping things small-scale with the microbudget, dark comedy "Teddy Bears," co-helmed by his wife, photographer Rebecca Fishman.

'Scott Pilgrim' Star Mark Webber Directing Drama Starring His Two-Year-Old Son

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • January 26, 2011 1:58 AM
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  • 3 Comments
Michael Cera, Shannyn Sossamon, Amanda Seyfried, Jason Ritter Also In Cast A year ago, it looked like indie veteran Mark Webber might be about to take a major leap in his career, as one of the more left-field choices among the top-notch ensemble of Edgar Wright's "Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World." While Webber was terrific as the neurotic, fame-hungry Sex Bob-omb frontman Stephen Stills in the picture, the disappointing box office haul of the film meant that the actor hasn't quite cracked the mainstream yet, even if it's gone some way to helping things along.

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