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The Playlist

NYFF: Spike Jonze And His 'Her' Cast Decode Romance In The Age Of Technology

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • October 13, 2013 2:48 PM
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  • 5 Comments
Her, NYFF press conference
The New York Film Festival closed with the world premiere of Spike Jonze’s swooningly romantic “Her,” a futuristic love story involving a mild-mannered office worker, played by Joaquin Phoenix, who falls for a sentient operating system (o.s.) named Samantha, voiced by Scarlett Johansson. The picture touches on a number of issues in regards to contemporary life, particularly how the plugged-in nature of our society simply isolates some and subconsciously troubles others (read our NYFF review here). But Jonze told the audience during the film’s press conference that the fairly prescient idea came to him almost ten years ago, thanks to the simple wonder of instant messaging.

NYFF Review: Spike Jonze's 'Her' Starring Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson, Amy Adams & Rooney Mara

  • By Rodrigo Perez
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  • October 12, 2013 8:06 PM
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  • 11 Comments
Is social media anti-social? Has the information age divided us as much as it has been meant to unite? Is peer-to-peer simply an ironic term or are inter-personal, face-time relationships ripe for redefinition? While these are not the primary concerns of Spike Jonze’s lovely and perceptive relationship drama, “Her,” such implications are impossible to ignore in a movie that uses innovative and unconventional methods to explore some very universal anxieties.

Review: Ron Howard's 'Rush' Starring Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Bruhl & Olivia Wilde

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • September 25, 2013 7:07 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Rush, Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Bruhl
It's only "rebels, lunatics and dreamers" that decide to get behind the wheel and race for a living, so quips Austrian driver Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl) in the early moments of Ron Howard's "Rush," and there's an undeniable logic to his observation. For who else would willingly strap themselves into a fiberglass frame, powered by a 500-horsepower engine to drive at unimaginable speeds around a racetrack, where even the faintest hint of a wrong move could end your life? And who else would embrace the odds where at the beginning of each race year, it's known that an average of two drivers will die out of a field of twenty-five? Well, Lauda is one of those people, as is Englishman James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth), and together they made worldwide headlines for their intense rivalry and passion for the sport. Howard's film matches that fuel-injected devotion in a film that goes beyond mere sports biopic to tell the tale of two men forged by gasoline, jumpsuits and ambition.

TIFF Review: Paul Haggis' 'Third Person' With Liam Neeson, James Franco & Olivia Wilde Is Ludicrously Awful

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • September 10, 2013 5:33 PM
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  • 19 Comments
We're coming on a decade since Paul Haggis' "Crash" won Best Picture at the Oscars, and it's still one of the most divisive victories in recent memory. Detractors of the film are quick to point out the flaws in the L.A.-set drama, citing what they perceive to be the film's crass manipulativeness, one-dimensional characters, clumsy hand with racial politics and eye-rolling core of sentimentality. But frankly, you haven't seen anything yet. Haggis' return to the ensemble drama in "Third Person" makes "Crash" look like a work of understated, subtle art. A disastrously and ludicrously awful effort from the writer/director, absolutely nothing works in this facile, cliche-filled and astoundingly dull film that trades in cheap drama and soap opera theatrics.

TIFF Review: Jason Reitman's 'Boogie Nights' Live Read Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Josh Brolin, Olivia Wilde & More

  • By Cory Everett
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  • September 9, 2013 2:30 PM
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  • 6 Comments
With a growing audience of devoted cinephiles over the past few years, it seems there are few film-related events more beloved than Jason Reitman's Live Reads. The setup is simple: Reitman selects a classic screenplay of his choosing to be read by new actors in front of a live audience with Reitman himself reading the stage direction. The only other accompaniment to the performances is a projection behind the performers featuring a frame of the film (digitally removing the actors) to set the scene and usually some music before and after the show begins. Sometimes the casting aims to turn the material on its head—"Reservoir Dogs" with an all-African American cast or "Glengary Glen Ross" with an ensemble of women—and sometimes it's more straightforward. So why have these readings become such a hot ticket? Well, for starters, the events (held typically at the LACMA in Los Angeles) are not recorded and are never repeated and at their best, they force the audience to think about the film in a new way. But the real secret to their success—like the films themselves—is that it usually comes down to the casting.

TIFF Review: ‘Rush’ Starring Chris Hemsworth & Daniel Brühl Finds Ron Howard In Top Gear

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • September 6, 2013 5:52 PM
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  • 6 Comments
Rush, Chris Hemsworth
It's only "rebels, lunatics and dreamers" that decide to get behind the wheel and race for a living, so quips Austrian driver Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl) in the early moments of Ron Howard's "Rush," and there's an undeniable logic to his observation. For who else would willingly strap themselves into a fiberglass frame, powered by a 500-horsepower engine to drive at unimaginable speeds around a racetrack, where even the faintest hint of a wrong move could end your life? And who else would embrace the odds where at the beginning of each race year, it's known that an average of two drivers will die out of a field of twenty-five? Well, Lauda is one of those people, as is Englishman James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth), and together they made worldwide headlines for their intense rivalry and passion for the sport. Howard's film matches that fuel-injected devotion in a film that goes beyond mere sports biopic to tale of two men forged by gasoline, jumpsuits and ambition.

Watch: New Clip, Featurettes, TV Spots & Photos From Ron Howard's 'Rush' Starring Chris Hemsworth & Olivia Wilde

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • September 3, 2013 11:22 AM
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  • 0 Comments
Rush, Chris Hemsworth
You can practically smell the exhaust from here... Ron Howard has been tuning up his upcoming race world biopic "Rush", which premieres at TIFF later this week, and in case you're not going to be in Toronto here's enough footage to make you think you've already seen the movie.

Watch: New Clip From 'Rush' Plus Details On The Soundtrack Which Includes David Bowie, Thin Lizzy & Hans Zimmer

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • August 28, 2013 12:25 PM
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  • 1 Comment
Heading into a hairpin turn before its release next month, Ron Howard's "Rush" will first have to get around the curve at TIFF, where he hopes audiences will shift into first gear for his true story racing drama. And with the movie getting ready to cross the finish line, a few more previews for the movie have rushed online. (Sorry, we're feeling punny today.)

Review: Joe Swanberg's 'Drinking Buddies' Starring Jake Johnson, Olivia Wilde, Anne Kendrick & Ron Livingston

  • By Cory Everett
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  • August 23, 2013 4:07 PM
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  • 7 Comments
Drinking Buddies
With the rise of digital filmmaking in the last decade, a new wave of DIY "mumblecore" filmmakers have risen up through the ranks. While initially many of these films were loose and unpolished, they are now are becoming more refined with many of these directors and actors now having basically integrated themselves into the mainstream (or mainstream indie anyway). Of the directors who have come of age during this digital era, perhaps none is more notorious or divisive than Joe Swanberg, the writer/director/editor/actor responsible for 12 films over the last 8 years. With an output that prolific, you would think by now you should know whether Swanberg's brand of filmmaking is your cup of tea or not.

Watch: First Trailer For Spike Jonze's 'Her' Starring Joaquin Phoenix; Arcade Fire Providing The Score

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • August 7, 2013 12:00 PM
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  • 44 Comments
Of all the movies set to show their wares this fall, perhaps the one that has been kept the most in the dark is Spike Jonze's "Her." The set photos that have circulated certainly don't betray anything of what his approach will be, and there have been no official stills, posters, teasers or websites to give up the game. That being said, Jonze did provide a peek to those who were lucky enough to be at the L.A. Film Festival in June, showing two clips from the oddball romance that stars Joaquin Phoenix, Chris Pratt, Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, Olivia Wilde and (the voice of) Scarlett Johansson. Ostensibly, the movie is about a man who falls in love with a computer operating system, but as always, it's much more than that.

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