The Playlist

Review: Brilliant & Angry 'Killing Them Softly' Is The Anti-Thriller For Our Times

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • November 28, 2012 12:03 PM
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  • 6 Comments
"What is that American promise? It's a promise that says each of us has the freedom to make of our own lives what we will, but that we also have obligations to treat each other with dignity and respect," Barack Obama said at the Democratic National Convention in 2008. And that section of the speech opens Andrew Dominik's seething "Killing Them Softly," as he cuts the audio between white noise and the silent black title screen, signifying the blind emptiness of Obama's statement and the thematic current he'll be taking for the film. We are not a changed nation. We are not a nation of equals. The government are a bunch of children who need to be led by the hand into any decision-making process and Americans at both the top and bottom rungs of the ladder all have their share of the blame to take. Uncompromising and uncommercial, divisive and brave, "Killing Them Softly" bitterly boils at the state of the nation.

DVD Review: Alain Delon Shines In Otherwise Campy, Goofy 1975 'Zorro'

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • November 26, 2012 2:57 PM
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  • 1 Comment
As long as there as been cinema, there has been Zorro. From the silent era to the multiplex, from Douglas Fairbanks to Gael Garcia Bernal, the masked hero has caught the imagination of both filmmakers and audiences. But of course, there are the forgotten films and versions of the character as well, and Duccio Tessari's 1975 "Zorro" is certainly a curiosity. Starring famed French thesp Alain Delon in the lead role, surrounded by a mostly Italian supporting cast with everyone getting dubbed later into English, perhaps the best way sum up the experience of the film is point out that the man who provided the wigs, Grazia Miccinelli, gets his own credit.

Review: 'The Rolling Stones Under Review 1975-1983' A Compelling Examination Of An Overlooked Era

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • November 22, 2012 10:00 AM
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  • 4 Comments
As The Rolling Stones tumble into their fiftieth year, it's easy to be cynical about the aging band, as they desperately try to stay relevant, even as rock 'n roll has evolved and moved on. Oh sure, nostalgia will sell out stadiums, as will the fact that they are living legends, but it's easy to forget that at one time they were the biggest and arguably most important rock 'n roll band on the planet. The lengthily titled documentary "The Rolling Stones Under Review 1975-1983: The Ronnie Wood Years Pt. 1" (phew) is the latest in an ongoing series of docs about the band (this is the first one I've seen), that tracks their journey a few years at time in great detail. And when we catch up with them in 1975, it could be said the band was likely in no greater peril at any other time in their history.

Review: Mini-Budget Superhero Story 'Alter Egos' Falls Short Of Creating A Distinct Mythology

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • November 21, 2012 3:59 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Kudos to those who want to establish their own superhero mythology in 2012. The storytelling has evolved beyond the echoes of Greek myth since Superman burst upon the scene in the 1930s, to the point where thousands of these characters have existed in multiple mediums. Filmgoers used to consider the origins of Batman as cinematic shorthand; now, they’re often deeply familiar with the deconstructionism of “Watchmen.” So forgive the crudeness -- “Alter Egos” writer-director Jordan Galland has some big brass ones.
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Review: 'My Brother The Serial Killer' Offers Thin Alternate Theory About The O.J. Simpson/Nicole Brown Murder

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • November 21, 2012 3:02 PM
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  • 8 Comments
Few court cases captured the public imagination in recent memory quite like the O.J. Simpson trial. An American football hero, part-time movie star and color commentator, a whole different side to his public persona came through when he was charged with murdering his ex-wife. And when the not guilty verdict reverberated throughout the nation, it hardly put an end to the story. Some folks said it was an example of the justice system's failings, others pointed the finger to the ineffectual prosecution, while others declared that Simpson was innocent all along. And now the waters get muddier with "My Brother the Serial Killer," which is arriving on screens and heated up by the news that its titular subject is linked to the slaying of Nicole Brown Simpson. Does it let O.J. off the hook? Not exactly, but it also doesn't make much sense either.

Review: ‘Hitchcock’ A Breezy, Disposable Effort Saved By Anthony Hopkins & Helen Mirren’s Dedicated Performances

  • By Charlie Schmidlin
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  • November 21, 2012 12:04 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Hypnotic, beautiful, and perilous in equal measure – one needn’t glance anywhere else but at the leading ladies of Alfred Hitchcock’s films to garner their intense influence. Yet as dramatized in “Anvil!” director Sacha Gervasi’s loving biopic, “Hitchcock,” the real authority lingered off the set at home, shielding her husband quietly from failure and ruin. What follows is a peek behind the curtain on Hitchcock’s marriage to Alma Reville (the couple played by Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren), while charting their pangs of jealousy and pressure during the turbulent making of “Psycho.” Based on Stephen Rebello’s book, “Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho,” the source material proves there’s indeed a compelling story to be told here, but while Gervasi’s comedy-drama presses charmingly on this period in Hitchcock’s career, the film ultimately collapses under its own lightweight intentions of tribute-turned-romance.

Review: Spike Lee's 'Bad 25' A Comprehensive & Warm Look At The Making Of Michael Jackson's Album

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • November 21, 2012 11:01 AM
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  • 0 Comments
A couple of years ago, before he set up his low-budget comeback film “Red Hook Summer," Spike Lee was planning another NYC-set project, “Brooklyn Loves MJ,” with the story taking place on the night of the death of pop superstar Michael Jackson in June 2009. Said to star Samuel L. Jackson, Julianne Moore, Anthony Mackie and more, the film never came together (although Lee told us recently that he hoped to get it going again), but the director’s been able to pay tribute to the late King of Pop in a couple of other ways. For one, he’s helped to organize a semi-annual Brooklyn Loves MJ party (although it didn’t take place this year or last for various reasons). And then there’s the director’s latest film, and his second of 2012, “Bad 25.” The subject matter is less weighty for the man behind such stirring docs as "4 Little Girls" and "When The Levees Broke," but the results are no less pleasing for this effort, which delves into the making of Jackson's Bad, the fifth biggest-selling LP of all time.

Review: 'Life Of Pi' Is An Inspiring & Visually Stunning Tale Of Faith, Hope & Self-Discovery

  • By Rodrigo Perez
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  • November 20, 2012 4:37 PM
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  • 2 Comments
Taiwanese-born American film director Ang Lee’s career is difficult to pin down. He’s constructed nuanced and well-crafted dramas of various milieus and textures (from “The Ice Storm,” and “Sense and Sensibility” to the more erotic “Lust/Caution” and “Brokeback Mountain”) and orchestrated films of more action-oriented visual pizzazz and flair as well ("Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," "Hulk"). Perhaps bridging all of his eclectic interests, Lee configures a lovely and winning formula for the dazzling and emotionally rich “Life Of Pi.”

Review: Blood & Water Flow Freely In Jacques Audiard's Beautiful & Moving 'Rust & Bone'

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • November 20, 2012 4:01 PM
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  • 0 Comments
What is it we do to survive? Who is it we love? Who is it we fight? What are the forces seen and unseen that push our lives in directions we could have never expected? These are the questions that Jacques Audiard tackles in his latest, "Rust And Bone," a beautiful, moving story of two fractured lives that somehow, together, combine into a single (if unconventional) whole.

Review: 'Red Dawn' Intermingles Inept Jingoism With Casual, Wrongheaded Racism

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • November 20, 2012 11:40 AM
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  • 0 Comments
Why is it that films that spend the longest time on the shelves feel so unfinished? Reportedly filmed three years ago, Dan Bradley’s strikingly incompetent “Red Dawn” is now being dumped in theaters, stitched together with scotch tape and falling apart at the seams, letting casual racism and misanthropy to spill out the sides.

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