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Berlinale 2012 Review: Restrained Werner Herzog Still Shines In Gripping 'Death Row' Series

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • February 9, 2012 12:05 PM
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  • 2 Comments
The prologue of each of the four episodes of “Death Row” is the same: a restless camera prowls through the dismal ante-room, holding cell and injection chamber of an unnamed execution facility, while director Werner Herzog tells us in his familiar teutonic monotone that, as a German and a guest of the United States, he “respectfully disagree[s]” with the death penalty, legal in 34 states, and performed regularly in 16. And so he sets out his stall up front. What's perhaps surprising, however, is that what he then delivers is neither polemical nor propagandistic in its approach; Herzog's storytelling instincts trump his didactic ones here, to compelling effect. Having already tackled this subject in his feature-length “Into The Abyss” (the central figure of which makes a fleeting appearance here in the "Joseph Garcia and George Rivas" section), it's clear that in exploring the stories of these condemned men and women, Herzog has found a rich vein to mine, and he brings to this latest endeavor, a four-part TV series for Investigation Discovery, an uncharacteristic restraint. His even-handedness serves the subject matter well, largely refuting any accusations of liberal whitewashing before they can even be made. What he delivers instead is a series of nuanced, meticulous and gripping portraits of several death row inmates, unflinchingly portrayed, mostly in their own words and those of the men and women who arrested, reported on, prosecuted and/or defended them.

'[REC] 3 Génesis,' 'Intruders,' Jessica Biel's 'The Tall Man,' 'V/H/S' & Secret Film Join SXSW Midnight Lineup

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • February 8, 2012 3:00 PM
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  • 0 Comments
We can smell the hickory smoke already....The SXSW Film Festival is right around the corner and this afternoon, organizers have unveiled the lineup for what is arguably the most fun section of the event -- the Midnighters. The screenings can often be raucous and often serve as the ground where future genre hits break out (last year, that honor was bestowed on "Attack the Block") and this year, these films will be hoping to get a similar kind of boost.

SXSW Adds '21 Jump Street,' 'Do-Deca-Pentathalon,' 'Killer Joe,' 'Casa De Mi Padre' & More To Lineup

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • February 1, 2012 3:00 PM
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Don't unpack that bag from Sundance too fast. SXSW in Austin, Texas is just around the corner and it has two things over Park City: spring heat and BBQ. With the film festival just over a month away, organizers have dropped their features lineup, and there will be some nice surprises for those making the trek.

Sundance: FilmDistrict Take Rights To 'Safety Not Guaranteed,' Magnolia Buy 'Compliance,' 'Nobody Walks,' '2 Days In New York'

  • By Joe Cunningham
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  • January 30, 2012 11:40 AM
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  • 2 Comments
Sundance may be over for another year, but as Gordon Gekko mercilessly taught us: money never sleeps. So even though Park City has born witness to their annual mass exodus, there are still some films hanging around waiting to be bought and we have news of six films that have snagged distribution deals.

'Beasts Of The Southern Wild' Tops The 2012 Sundance Film Festival Awards

  • By The Playlist
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  • January 29, 2012 12:53 PM
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  • 3 Comments
It was a fait accompli pretty much from minute one. No other film at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival got as much buzz as 29-year-old first-time feature-length filmmaker Benh Zeitlin's "Beasts Of The Southern Wild," a mythical film about a 6-year-old girl who lives in a southern Delta community at the edge of the world (read our review here). And so it was no surprise that the film won the jury prize for best drama (and cinematography) at last night's Sundance awards ceremony.

Sundance: Buzz Films 'Arbitrage,' 'Liberal Arts,' 'Robot & Frank' & 'V/H/S' All Find Distribution

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • January 26, 2012 10:40 AM
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  • 0 Comments
As ever, Park City is quieting down again, with many journalists heading home after a week of Sundance madness. We've still got plenty of coverage to come, don't get us wrong, but as is so often the case with festivals, things tend to be a little front-loaded. Except, that is, on the business end; now that most films have unspooled, the acquisitions folk are ready to start handing out the checks. We've already seen a few big sales: Fox Searchlight took two of the best-reviewed films of the festival, "The Surrogate" and "Beasts Of The Southern Wild," while "For A Good Time Call," "Lay The Favorite," "Black Rock," "Celeste and Jesse Forever" and "Red Lights," among others, have all found homes.

Sundance: 'Hello I Must Be Going' Director Todd Louiso On Working With Melanie Lynskey, Quitting Acting & The Influence Of Judd Apatow

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • January 23, 2012 6:40 PM
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  • 1 Comment
One of the better underdog stories from this year's Sundance Film Festival is "Hello I Must Be Going," from filmmaker (and sometime actor) Todd Louiso. After making 2009's "The Marc Pease Experience" for Paramount Vantage, the director found his movie marooned after the dismantling of the studio, appearing on a handful of screens before going (virtually) straight-to-DVD. This was a rather inglorious follow-up for the filmmaker, who had previously made the critically lauded Philip Seymour Hoffman vehicle "Love Liza." "Hello I Must Be Going" is not only a comeback for the director, but also a coup for its star, Melanie Lynskey, who is finally awarded her first starring role after her splashy debut in Peter Jackson's "Heavenly Creatures" with a role in a challenging, layered film. The story centers on Amy, a divorced and down-on-her-luck 35 year-old woman who is forced to move back in with her parents, and winds up in an unconventional relationship with a teenage boy. We spoke to the director about what it was like working with his wife on the film's script, his return to Sundance, the influence of Judd Apatow, and toll "The Marc Pease Experience" experience took on him.

Sundance: Rashida Jones & Will McCormack Discuss Subverting The Rom-Com In 'Celeste and Jesse Forever' & Next Project 'Frenemy Of The State'

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • January 23, 2012 1:26 PM
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  • 0 Comments
If you're an actor, and not getting the kind of roles you want (or indeed, any roles at all), the best way out is to create your own material. From Matt Damon and Ben Affleck to Brit Marling, legions of actors over the years have turned screenwriters, and seen their careers skyrocket as a result. And so it is with Rashida Jones and Will McCormack.

"This Is Not A Motherf**king Sequel To Do The Right Thing!" & More From The Fiery Q&A For Spike Lee's 'Red Hook Summer'

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • January 23, 2012 12:28 PM
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  • 6 Comments
Trust Spike Lee to shake things up a bit. The Sundance Film Festival has been ticking along quietly and unremarkably since the end of last week. Some films screened. Some were good. Some were bad. Yawn. But last night, Spike Lee premiered his latest film, a low-budget, self-funded return to his roots entitled "Red Hook Summer," and it immediately became one of the most divisive pictures of the festival. Our own Todd Gilchrist landed firmly on the positive side with his review this morning, but it looks set to inspire arguments for months to come. 

Robert Pattinson's 'Bel Ami' & Steven Soderbergh's 'Haywire' Latest Additions To Berlin Film Festival

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • January 20, 2012 8:32 AM
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  • 10 Comments
So, Robert Pattinson fans, just how devoted are you? Always eager to see him fight for Bella in the "Twilight" franchise, a lot of those same fans seem to disappear when does anything that doesn't involve vampires and werewolves. As long expected, his upcoming literary adaptation "Bel Ami," has been confirmed this morning make its world premiere (out of competition) at the Berlin International Film Festival, and we'll be curious to see if RPatz lovers will tolerate him playing a cad.

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