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The Playlist

Tribeca Review: A Lovely & Considered Humanism Courses Through ‘The Rocket’

  • By Rodrigo Perez
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  • April 27, 2013 3:11 PM
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  • 1 Comment
The Rocket
There’s a tricky balance to be found in Australian documentarian Kim Mordaunt’s impressive narrative debut “The Rocket.” Mordaunt, who returns to Laos after exploring the country in his documentary “The Bomb Harvest,” tells a tale that’s both humanistic and soulful, yet political and socially aware. Tip the scales in either direction and your tonal equilibrium is thrown out of order. And that’s perhaps what makes “The Rocket” so special; it’s a thoughtful, well-observed drama that contains many painful struggles and hardships, quietly chronicles third world poverty and social inequities, and yet never condescends to preach or teach. In fact, when the beleaguered protagonists finally receive some much-needed respite and joy, the payoff is well-earned.

Tribeca Review: 'What Richard Did' Is A Stark, Sobering Drama Of Guilt And Regret

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • April 26, 2013 6:02 PM
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  • 27 Comments
Last week, Matt Singer wrote a solid Criticwire piece on spoilers and film reviews, discussing the right, or lack thereof, of readers complaining about spoilers in reviews. I don't subscribe to the theory of spoilers because films aren't simply a cherry-picked collection of moments: it makes no difference whether you say if Tom Cruise survives at the end of "Oblivion" compared to sharing with someone the content of his dubious opening narration (side note: you can't spoil a Tom Cruise movie anyway). So, look, if you're marching headfirst into a review for a movie called "What Richard Did" and you don't want to know what Richard did, then wait for us to build a Complaint Dept. and we will forward your emails there.

Tribeca Review: 'Richard Pryor: Omit The Logic' Obscures The Genius Of A Comedic Titan

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • April 26, 2013 5:16 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Richard Pryor: Omit The Logic
It's an unenviable task, putting together a documentary about a stand-up comedian. The best ones transcend the form and become storytellers; in the case of "Richard Pryor: Omit The Logic," offering only brief snippets of Pryor's bits is like doing a Michael Jackson doc and only playing a few bars of "Thriller" and "Billie Jean." Maybe a better example would be a documentary that only showed Babe Ruth hitting home runs: what defined Pryor has been lost to the years due to a late-career tumble that reduced him to content trailblazer, dropping "f" bombs in polite company as if he was just a vulgarian, not a cultural troubadour.

Tribeca Review: Grisly 'Raze' Wastes The Surprising Presence Of Zoe Bell

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • April 26, 2013 4:27 PM
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  • 2 Comments
The women-in-prison genre gets a contemporary reworking in the grisly slugfest “Raze.” There’s no sex or nudity in this film, which pairs off a large ensemble of actresses in a series of increasingly violent fistfights to the death, and some audiences might find this a cause for celebration -- Bechdel Test enthusiasts especially should take note of how insignificant men are in these womens’ lives. But perhaps it’s how we find titillation in the modern world – the cast takes turns getting brutalized by each other while under the rule of sadistic prison guards, and these women respond to bloodshed with more and more nastiness. Is it empowering when one prisoner flings feces at a brutish male guard if sex is never once put on the table?

Review: Ulrich Seidl’s ‘Paradise: Love’ A Difficult But Provocative Watch With An Astounding Central Performance

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • April 26, 2013 8:01 AM
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  • 2 Comments
Black/white, rich/poor, fat/thin, female/male, old/young -- these are just a few of the dichotomies explored in the first of the 'Paradise' trilogy from Austrian director Ulrich Seidl. Our chronology is a bit messed up, since we already reviewed (very favorably) the second entry “Paradise: Faith” out of Venice, but having missed ‘Love’ in Cannes, we were happy to catch up with it at a very packed screening at the Göteborg International Film Festival earlier this year. Perhaps "happy" is the wrong word: “Paradise: Love” proved a frequently uncomfortable and rather overlong watch, but we still came away profoundly impressed and not a little troubled by the questions it raises, and the unflinching, uncompromising way in which it does so.

Tribeca Review: 'The Machine' Is A Fastball Down The Middle For Genre Die-Hards

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • April 25, 2013 8:00 PM
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  • 1 Comment
The Machine
Even though science fiction allows for the widest possibility of storytelling, it often seems like there are really only three or four sci-fi stories, and they stopped creating them after the eighties. How else to explain an industry overwhelmed by the amount of low-budget takes on "The Terminator" and "Blade Runner" like "The Machine," a junky piece of escapism so heavily indebted to those films that it is barely amusing on its own?

Review: Overstuffed 'Love Is All You Need' An Unsatisfying, Predictable Rom-Com From Susanne Bier

  • By Erik McClanahan
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  • April 25, 2013 7:00 PM
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  • 0 Comments
What’s up with those crazy Danish filmmakers and their compulsion to pile it on? The latest from Oscar-winning filmmaker Susanne Bier (“In A Better World”) is like watching a long game of Jenga. As every sub plot, reveal and character… err, caricature that is, gets stacked on top of each other, the more inevitable it is that the whole thing will come tumbling down. And while “Love is All You Need” is by no means a disaster, it simply can’t support all that weight.

Tribeca Review: Featherweight 'Just A Sigh' A Wayward Romance That Immediately Fades From Memory

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • April 25, 2013 6:40 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Just A Sigh, Gabrielle Byrne
Some of us are floating in the water, waiting for that big wave that we can ride, one that will let us surf to another place where the water’s warmer, less choppy, and in some cases, soaked with less tourist piss (which may or may not be part of the metaphor). One of these people is Alix (Emmanuelle Devos) of “Just a Sigh,” a working actress still stuck in a holding pattern. Now in her forties, she clutches her cellphone, praying for a call from a sometime-boyfriend. What we learn of this man suggests whatever feelings that exist may not be mutual, and while Alix tells a girlfriend that she’s going to visit him, suggesting that she may try to establish their relationship face-to-face, the defensive way that Alix expresses herself suggests she’s tried this before.

Tribeca Review: Kiwi Cannibal Comedy 'Fresh Meat' Is A Silly, Tasty Treat

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • April 25, 2013 4:57 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Fresh Meat
There’s a certain expectation that comes with attending a horror-comedy with a ridiculously on-the-nose title. And in that respect, “Fresh Meat” delivers on its promise as a deliriously off-the-wall splatterfest with absolutely zero pretension. You could guess that Kiwi director Danny Mulheron was a Peter Jackson acolyte (he worked on Jackson’s puppet classic “Meet The Feebles”) by just closing your eyes and listening: the smack of slabs of meat slapping against each other, the screams of proudly ridiculous mega-acting, and the perfectly-calibrated physical violence that suggests a silly symphony of onscreen slapstick are all strengths that used to be exhibited in the work of Mr. Jackson, before he traded his integrity for some elf ears in Hollywood.

Review: Deeply Felt, Thrilling 'Mud' Shows Director Jeff Nichols & Matthew McConaughey At The Top Of Their Games

  • By Erik McClanahan
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  • April 25, 2013 11:58 AM
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  • 0 Comments
Matthew McConaughey, Mud
It all starts with a beautifully surreal image: a decrepit boat resting comfortably in the branches of a tree. The young boys who find it want to use it, make it their own. But on this particular river island in Arkansas, they are not alone. It's not long before they encounter Mud (Matthew McConaughey, sporting a large snake tattoo and a chipped front tooth a la Jim Carrey in "Dumb & Dumber"), who's not only the namesake of Jeff Nichols' brilliantly constructed, emotionally satisfying genre deconstruction, but also the film's hero and anti-hero.

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