The Playlist

Rome Interview: Larry Clark On 'Marfa Girl,' The Role Of The Writer & How He Became Fearless

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • November 23, 2012 9:02 AM
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  • 0 Comments
In the 17 years and 6 films since his excoriating debut "Kids," Larry Clark has gradually slipped off many radars, as detractors claimed that precisely what had so shocked and impressed in his early work (explicit sex, violence and drug taking amongst photogenic teenagers) was becoming irrelevant at best, and exploitative at worst. But perhaps his latest film, "Marfa Girl," the first in a mooted trilogy, which won the top prize at the Rome Film Festival, will change their minds.

Rome Interview: Stephen Dorff On 'The Motel Life,' The Coppola Clan & The Dilemmas Of A Career Renaissance

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • November 20, 2012 3:40 PM
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  • 2 Comments
Few Hollywood actors of any generation, no matter how glorious their start, achieve consistent success. But even fewer, perhaps, experience the seemingly random phenomenon of the mid-career resurgence, winning a gift of a part that suddenly has everyone take notice all over again. Stephen Dorff undoubtedly belongs to the lucky latter category. While he never really stopped working, or wanted for offers, the big break just didn’t come and he started to accept films that were, by his own admission of a lesser quality. And when he did get to work on prestige projects it tended to be as maybe “the third or fourth lead. Not really my movie…”

Rome Interview: Peter Greenaway On 'Goltzius And The Pelican Company,' Sergei Eisenstein, 3D & The Future Of Cinema

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • November 19, 2012 12:41 PM
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  • 4 Comments
British polyglot Peter Greenaway (filmmaker, painter, video artist etc) has never easily fit into any mold. The unique talent behind, among many others, “The Cook, the Thief, his Wife and Her Lover,” “The Baby of Macon,” “Prospero’s Books” and more recently the evocation of the life and work of Rembrandt in “Nightwatching,” is eternally divisive. Some find the self-conscious intellectualism of his approach appealing, others find it elitist and alienating.

Larry Clark's 'Marfa Girl' & 'The Motel Life' Earn Top Awards At The Rome Film Festival; Italian Films Also Rule

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • November 18, 2012 11:25 AM
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  • 3 Comments
Last night in Rome, the Festival came to a close, as the winners were announced, the awards handed out and the dissection of What It All Means began. The festival, suffering a cut in budget from last year, but boasting perhaps the closest thing to a superstar Artistic Director in Marco Mueller (ex of the Venice Film Festival) for the first time this year, was, as Mueller himself admitted, a schizophrenic affair. The lack of really standout high-profile premieres (the festival would have taken on a different shape if it had landed, say "Django Unchained") gave rise to a somewhat cobbled-together last-minute feel, in which the targeted 60 world premieres happened, but we got the feeling quite a few might have been there just to make up the numbers.

Rome Review: 'Hand In Hand' Is A Gently Surreal Parisian Romantic Comedy Featuring Your New French Crush

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • November 18, 2012 9:18 AM
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  • 3 Comments
Whimsical and high-concept, and featuring a standout performance from our new boyfriend Jérémie Elkaïm, who has just won Best Actor at the Rome Film Festival for this role (clearly the jury was crushin' on him too), "Hand in Hand" ("Main dans la Main") is a gentle, quirky take on the mystical and somewhat random power of attraction and love. By contrast with the artifice of the other French rom-com we reviewed in Rome, "Populaire," writer-director (and supporting star and Elkaïm's wife) Valérie Donzelli's lightness of touch evokes more the sensibility of a loved-up Miranda July in its attention to off-kilter but grounded detail.

Rome Review: '1942' Is A Long, Old-Fashioned But Absorbing Epic Of Chinese Historical Cinema

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • November 17, 2012 7:02 PM
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  • 5 Comments
If the appropriate length of a film were calculated in proportion to the scope of its subject, all 144 minutes of Feng Xiaogang's "1942" (also known as "Back to 1942"), which played In Competition at the Rome Film Festival, would be wholly justified. While the Henan Famine of the early 1940s is not a well-known tragedy outside China, the scale of the suffering, death and displacement it caused simply boggles the mind, the numbers are so colossal. And for the most part, Feng does an impressive job of memorializing the 3 million dead; "1942" is not an unqualified success, but it did retain our interest and engagement across its multiple story lines and over its expansive running time.

Rome Review: Cesc Gay's 'A Gun In Each Hand' Is A Gem - A Sharp, Witty Look At Masculinity In Crisis

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • November 17, 2012 11:23 AM
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  • 4 Comments
Not, in fact, the Spaghetti Western from Spain (Paella Western?) that it sounds like, "A Gun In Each Hand" ("Una Pistola En Cada Mano"), which plays Out of Competition at the Rome Film Festival, is a contemporary comedy detailing a series of encounters in which pairs of friends, acquaintances, ex-spouses and potential lovers meet and talk and, well, that's about it. With a logline like that, you need to be sure your script delivers. Thankfully this one, co-written by director Cesc Gay, as is his wont, does; its portrait of a group of Spanish men in their forties is by turns gently scathing, comical and bittersweet, but it never feels anything less than true.

Rome Review: Anthology Film 'Centro Historico' Is Decent, Wearying, Excellent And Slight, In That Order

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • November 16, 2012 6:56 PM
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  • 4 Comments
Reviewing omnibus films, in which the component parts came from different directors, can be a tricky job because the decision needs to be made whether to review those contributions separately, or to take a helicopter view and treat a film which is being packaged as a feature, as a feature. "Centro Historico," which opened Out of Competition in the XXI sidebar of the Rome Film Festival, poses no such dilemma: the four films it contains are almost as different from one another as it possible to be, and so attempting any kind of synergistic look at the whole would be kind of a nonsense.

Rome Review: Marjane Satrapi Gets Loose, Has Fun In Black Comedy 'The Gang Of The Jotas'

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • November 16, 2012 7:55 AM
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  • 0 Comments
For her third feature film after 2007's beloved "Persepolis" and 2011's "Chicken with Plums," writer-director Marjane Satrapi changes it up once again with "The Gang of the Jotas" ("La Bande des Jotas") which bows today Out of Competition at the Rome Film Festival. Having made the move, with her previous films, from black-and-white animation, to stylized, heavily art-directed live action, here she throws both those styles out of the window and turns in a loose, black comedy road movie that feels, for the most part, about as un-stylized as you can get.

Rome Review: 'The Motel Life' A Small But Perfectly Formed Indie With A Sweet, Sad Heart Of Gold

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • November 16, 2012 6:14 AM
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  • 4 Comments
On the surface, there should be nothing particularly special about producer-turned-director brothers Gabe and Alan Polsky's debut, "The Motel Life," which premieres tonight at the Rome Film Festival. Threatening to sound like indie-by-numbers on paper, the film, based on the well-received novel of the same name by Willy Vlautin, is indeed familiar in its downbeat, disenfranchised Americana setting and even some of its themes: familial love, redemption and the fragility of hope in the face of ill-starred circumstance. But while it doesn't reinvent the wheel, or revolutionize the genre, it achieves its modest ambitions affectingly well, in no small part due to a clutch of cherishable performances, especially from leads Emile Hirsch and Stephen Dorff, as brothers Frank and Jerry Lee.

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