The Playlist

Review: Bloated ‘Les Miserables’ Still Falls Short Despite Strong Performances, Anne Hathaway & Cinematic Grandeur

  • By Rodrigo Perez
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  • December 6, 2012 6:29 PM
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  • 41 Comments
This is why you can’t pay too much attention to the buzz and get all wrapped up in Twitter noise that all of sudden made everyone go, “Oscar frontrunner!” Early screenings of “Les Miserables” did provoke audiences to burst into applause after certain song performances and yes, many were in tears by the end of the film. And that’s because Tom Hooper’s “Les Miserables” has two incredible sequences (both of which audiences thundered over in our early screening), but the rest of the movie? Well, maybe not so much.

Review: 'Heleno' Puts Style Over Substance In Soccer Biopic That Doesn't Have Much Soccer In It

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • December 6, 2012 3:06 PM
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  • 0 Comments
The common criticism leveled at biopics is that they are rarely narratively challenging, with most following a standard template that sees the story move along episodically, ticking off the events in the character's life in a rote fashion. So some credit must be given to director José Henrique Fonseca and his four co-writers for defying convention with "Heleno," a biopic of 1940s Brazilian football star Heleno de Freitas. However, your enjoyment of the impressionistic rather then detail-oriented portrait of the player will largely depend on how much you know about him (or not) going into the film.

Review: 'In Vogue: The Editor's Eye' A Flip Through The Editorial History Of The Iconic Fashion Magazine

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • December 6, 2012 11:20 AM
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  • 0 Comments
It might be hard to believe, but 2012 marks the 120th birthday of Vogue magazine. When it first started, there were no photographs, just illustrations, and a focus on society women. When Condé Nast took over in 1909, things changed, with photography introduced and fashion becoming the focal point of the weekly. Of course, the publication eventually became a monthly, and riding the social tides and political changes, it has become the magazine we know today. And to commemorate the journey, directors Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato have put together "In Vogue: The Editor's Eye," a brief flip through the pages of the magazine's editorial history, particularly the women whose influence and determination not only allowed the magazine to stay relevant, but maintain its position at the forefront of its many competitors.

Marrakech ‘12 Review: Bahman Ghobadi’s ‘Rhino Season’ Makes Good On Neither The Politics Nor The Poetry Of Its Premise

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • December 5, 2012 7:00 PM
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  • 2 Comments
Having caused something of a stir with his roughshod, guerilla-style 2009 docudrama about the Iranian underground music scene “No One Knows About Persian Cats,” director Bahman Ghobadi appears to have done a stylistic 180 with his new movie “Rhino Season.” Inspired by the story of a Kurdish poet friend of the director’s, who was believed dead by his family while in fact he was incarcerated in an Iranian prison, the film attempts to marry a degree of political comment and social realism with self-consciously poetic and manipulated imagery. But a smooth filmic blend of these different textures is probably one of the hardest things to achieve and we’re sorry to say that for us, the experiment just didn’t work here; in fact the warring impulses rather undercut each other, leaving us none the wiser as to the real political and social stakes and vaguely irritated by the intrusive aesthetic.

Review: 'Lay The Favorite' A Comedy That's An Empty Bet

  • By John Lichman
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  • December 5, 2012 4:19 PM
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  • 0 Comments
“You can't blame Stephen Frears for trying” seems to be the mantra for "Lay the Favorite," a mild romp through the T&A world of Las Vegas, gambling and literary adaptation. After all, "High Fidelity" is an iconic film to obsessive nerds (Need proof? See: every listicle on the Internet) and Frears is no slouch to crafting strong and/or sexy female characters (Tamara Drew, Cherí, The Queen). But what happens when he tries to mash them up and form the unholy love child of a stat geek and a bubbly idiot savant who used to be a stripper?

Review: 'Hyde Park On Hudson' Is A Lightweight & Toothless Crowd-Pleaser

  • By Rodrigo Perez
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  • December 5, 2012 3:19 PM
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  • 1 Comment
At 61 years of age, the presumably hard-living Bill Murray conservatively only has two more decades of work left in him. So perhaps we all want him to really dazzle us with some meaty roles and not waste his time with middling fluff like Roger Michell's "Hyde Park on Hudson," a moderately pleasant but depthless picture that makes "The King's Speech" look like "A Clockwork Orange." OK, that's a purposeful exaggeration, but "Hyde Park on Hudson" is unremarkable; the type of would-be Oscar frivolity that makes sure it goes down the award season check list for every gentle and inoffensive cinematic element it can find.

Review: 'Deadfall' Starring Eric Bana & Olivia Wilde Is Trapped In A Blizzard of Coincidence & Two-Dimensional Characters

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • December 4, 2012 8:01 PM
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  • 4 Comments
"Deadfall" starts off strong enough – three criminals, led by Addison (Eric Bana) and his sexy sister Liza (Olivia Wilde) speed away from some unspecified job (it's later revealed to be a casino heist). It's icy out and their driver (the only black character in the whole movie) overcompensates, avoiding a deer, which sends their vehicle cartwheeling over a snowy embankment. As Addison and Liza climb out of the wrecked car they notice their very-dead driver, his head through the windshield. "He should have been wearing his safety belt," Bana grumbles, dripping a syrupy Southern accent on top of his natural Australian drawl.

Review: Lightweight '30s British Romance 'Cheerful Weather For The Wedding' Mostly Wastes Its Young Stars

  • By Cory Everett
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  • December 4, 2012 7:05 PM
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  • 3 Comments
There's nothing more frustrating than wasting talent. Seeing a promising young filmmaker turn in a movie that just doesn't work is as disappointing as seeing a good cast squandered by lesser material. Unfortunately, both are common but unavoidable side effects of attending film festivals and the latter is true of "Cheerful Weather for the Wedding," a lightweight British romance that had its World Premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival last night. The film squanders not one but two young actors who turned in breakout performances in two of last year's most acclaimed indies. "Like Crazy" lead Felicity Jones stars as Dolly, an anxious bride on the day of her wedding while "Attack the Block" thesp Luke Treadaway is Joseph, an old friend and possibly unrequited romance.

Review: ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ Rallies From A Goofy Opening To Become Another Thrilling, If Familiar, Action-Adventure Epic

  • By Rodrigo Perez
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  • December 4, 2012 12:00 AM
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  • 9 Comments
At almost three hours, Peter Jackson’s fourth foray into the world of J.R.R. Tolkien, “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” is initially worrisome and typically self-indulgent. An extremely jarring 48 fps look -- which looks like an odd "Masterpiece Theater" in HD -- is unsettling, and the opening is slow-going and tepidly genteel, taking its time with two prologues, one that includes an aged Bilbo Baggins (Ian Holm) and Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood). And while “The Lord Of The Rings” films always sported a jovial and light-hearted tone, 'The Hobbit' (set some 60 years before the events of ‘LOTR’) ratchets up the goofiness to a near unfortunate level (yes, the source material is more of a kids' book, but even this is a little much).

Review: A Look Into A Nightmare Indie Shoot In 'Addicted To Fame'

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • December 3, 2012 7:31 PM
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  • 2 Comments
When the laymen thinks “filmmaker” they imagine Steven Spielberg, Ridley Scott, or even versatile hyphenated talents like George Clooney. Rarely do they see the true face of that profession, the scads of video nerds who toil away at thankless jobs on television and in commercials, getting the same competent work done with the same substandard material every day. When these men and women graduate into feature films, it’s by fluke, and the work they essay is usually unseen, underappreciated, and forgotten by the time they’ve moved on to more lucrative non-entertainment jobs. David Giancola is one of those directors, and “Addicted To Fame” is the curious story of the end of his career.
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