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The Playlist

Philip Seymour Hoffman's 12 Best Performances

  • By The Playlist Staff
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  • July 24, 2014 3:05 PM
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  • 16 Comments
Philip Seymour Hoffman's 12 Best Performances
This Friday should have been a cause for celebration: the release of "A Most Wanted Man," an adaptation of John Le Carre's novel by one of our favorite working filmmakers, Anton Corbijn ("Control," "The American"), and starring one of our finest working actors, Philip Seymour Hoffman. Instead, it's a bittersweet occasion: as we all know, Hoffman heartbreakingly passed away in February, only a few weeks after the film (and "God's Pocket," released a few months back) premiered at Sundance. It was the last film that Hoffman saw to completion: he was in production on what will turn out to be his very final pictures, the two-part finale to "The Hunger Games" series, when he passed.

The Best Documentaries Of 2014 So Far

  • By The Playlist Staff
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  • July 23, 2014 3:32 PM
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  • 14 Comments
Best Docs of the Year... So Far
The truth, the maxim goes, is stranger than fiction. And even while we're about to see a $200 million starring a talking raccoon and a tree-man, that's often held up by cinema: almost every week features a documentary hitting theaters or VOD telling a story just as, if not more, compelling than anything that can be found in more mainstream multiplexes.

From 'La Femme Nikita' to 'Lucy': Director Luc Besson Talks The Strong Women In 6 Of His Key Films

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • July 22, 2014 3:54 PM
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  • 9 Comments
Lucy, Scarlett
For a man who makes his living writing and producing muscular action movies like the "Taken" franchise, Luc Besson is a filmmaker who has continually shown an amazing sensitivity and fondness for strong female characters. These aren't buxom bimbos that wield Uzis and mutter one-liners; these are fully dimensional characters that Besson is seemingly fascinated by, since they turn up in everything from historical epics to tiny, Kapra-esque comedies. The newest Luc Besson heroine is the title character played by Scarlett Johansson in this week's "Lucy," about a young woman who, after accidentally ingesting an experimental drug, unlocks the potential of the human brain. It's crazy and kind of awesome, and the latest in a long line of Besson's strong female characters.

The 10 Best Male Characters In Woody Allen's Films

  • By The Playlist Staff
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  • July 22, 2014 2:33 PM
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  • 8 Comments
Male Perfs In Woody Allen Films
Is it that time of year already? This week, 2014’s Woody Allen film opens. “Magic in the Moonlight” (review here) sees the director back on the frothy-fun-in-foreign-climes form that he’s made a stock in trade recently, after the deviation of last year’s “Blue Jasmine.” That film’s Oscar-winning central turn by Cate Blanchett led us to discuss some of Woody Allen’s best female characters, and if it’s unlikely that “Magic in the Moonlight” will prove the same awards-magnet for any of its cast, there’s certainly enough here to warrant another riffle through Allen’s back catalogue of performances. And with our reviewer calling attention to Colin Firth in particular, who, cast a little against type, “drives his incorrigibly cranky character right to the edge of unsympathetic” but pulls it back just in time to save his sarcastic and cynical illusionist from all-out detestability, perhaps it’s as good a time as any to take a look at Woody’s men.

Discuss: Why One Size Does Not Fit All For Superhero Franchises & Where Sony Went Wrong With ‘Amazing Spider-Man’

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • July 21, 2014 4:00 PM
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  • 30 Comments
The Amazing Spider-Man
Though they've been made since the very beginning of the medium, studios are still learning how to craft sequels. Follow-ups used to be frowned upon, perceived as nakedly commercial tactics that frequently didn't involve the participants of the originals. Then they became elaborate, ongoing serialized stories, ones where filmmakers were permitted to present a full saga in chapters. And now, “franchises” have become something else, a lifeblood of Hollywood, one that has flummoxed Sony in regards to the “Spider-Man” movies.

22 All-Time Great Directors And Their Final Films

  • By The Playlist Staff
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  • July 17, 2014 4:04 PM
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  • 21 Comments
Great Directors And Their Final Films
Fifteen years ago yesterday, on July 16th, 1999, "Eyes Wide Shut" was released in theaters. It's notable for a number of reasons--the last on-screen team up of then husband-and-wife A-list duo Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, being the longest continuous film shoot in history, being an arthouse drama with strong scenes of sexuality released in the midst of the summer season. But more than anything else, it's notable for having been the final picture of one of the most acclaimed and admired filmmakers in the history of the medium, Stanley Kubrick.

The 10 Best Concert Movies Ever

  • By Ben Brock
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  • July 17, 2014 2:23 PM
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  • 14 Comments
Concert Docs feature
The concert movie is a strange and ambitious thing, marrying live music to moving pictures and permanently fixing a fleeting, one-night-only live event for the masses so that you can recreate it alone, on tape, whenever you like. It's a noble objective, but a difficult one. If you like, you can just point a few cameras at the stage and leave them running, sure, and many, many concert movies are dull, flatly filmed cash-ins, and almost every band seems to have released a no-frills concert DVD or two at some point. But they’re not all like that, as you’ll find out below, where we’ve selected 10 of the very best.

The Most Underrated And Underseen Films Of 2014 So Far

  • By The Playlist Staff
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  • July 16, 2014 2:28 PM
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  • 25 Comments
Underrated/Underseen 2014
No one can see everything. Particularly with prestige TV now competing for our attention, there's a lot of cultural noise out there even for the most hardcore cinephile, and with upwards of a dozen movies being released in major cities every week (not to mention VOD), it's easy for a great movie to get lost in the mix. Well, that's where we come in.

10 Controversial TV Episodes Pulled From Air

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • July 15, 2014 3:00 PM
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  • 14 Comments
10 Controversial TV Eps
Late last week, details emerged online about the plotline to a never-shot season 2 episode of “Seinfeld” titled “The Bet.” It’s an interesting story in its own right, and an extreme case in that while it was scripted and cast, cameras never rolled on it, with both the director and the actors getting cold feet prior to recording and kiboshing the whole thing due to a gun subplot they all felt uncomfortable with. Of course what’s rare about that is not so much that it happened (we’re sure there have been many other occasions) but that with "Seinfeld” as the endlessly recycled, rerun and re-examined show that it is, any off-cuts, side-stories and what-if scenarios are particularly enticing and unusually well-documented.

25 Years After 'When Harry Met Sally,' Can The Rom-Com Be Saved?

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • July 14, 2014 2:05 PM
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  • 6 Comments
WHen Harry Met Sally
Twenty-five years ago today on July 14, 1989, “When Harry Met Sally” went into limited release (MGM carefully platformed the film, something of a rarity for a major summer studio release even then). It became a giant hit, grossing $92 million in the U.S.—about the equivalent of double that when adjusted for inflation. Rob Reiner’s film, made from Nora Ephron’s script, and following the titular mismatched pair (Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan) who set out to explore the question of whether a man and a woman can be friends without sex and/or love getting in the way (spoiler: no), left a permanent mark on pop culture, influencing countless romantic comedies that came after. But did it also break the genre?

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