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The Playlist

Review: Mira Nair's 'The Reluctant Fundamentalist' A Heavy-Handed Look At A Post 9/11 World

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • April 23, 2013 7:00 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Opening last year’s Venice Film Festival, Mira Nair’s “The Reluctant Fundamentalist,” is an intriguing prospect. The film, an adaptation of the best-selling and acclaimed novel by Mohsin Hamed, had been under the radars of most until its selection, and aside from Kate Hudson, is mostly lacking in the starry names that normally attract attention to a festival. Fans of Nair (whose superb “Monsoon Wedding” won the Golden Lion in Venice in 2001) have been hoping for a return to form after her last film “Amelia,” disappointed. Was the film’s presence in such a prestigious slot a sign that she might have delivered? Unfortunately, despite a very fine central performance from ever-rising British actor Riz Ahmed (“Four Lions,” “Trishna”), not so much.

Tribeca Review: The Terrific 'Hide Your Smiling Faces' Is A Haunting Look At Adolescence

  • By Rodrigo Perez
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  • April 23, 2013 5:57 PM
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  • 1 Comment
Hide Your Smiling Faces
In a strangely beautiful and unnerving moment, "Hide Your Smiling Faces" opens up with an arresting visual: a close-up of a snake -- its mouth wrapped around a fish, slowly struggling to swallow it whole. It's disturbing, fascinating and the shot lingers with a sense of awe, curiosity and wonder. And it many ways, this remarkably captured moment sums up everything this striking debut feature is about.

Review: Norway’s Oscar-Nominated 'Kon-Tiki' Is A Fun Tale Of High Adventure But No More Than That

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • April 23, 2013 3:59 PM
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  • 1 Comment
Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl’s 1947 raft trip from Peru to Polynesia, which forms the story of “Kon-Tiki,” is already the stuff of legend – particularly overseas. Heyerdahl’s own 1950 book was an international bestseller (indeed this writer remembers a battered paperback knocking around her childhood home), and the documentary he filmed during the trip itself won an Academy Award back in 1951. Which makes it a pleasing narrative to have this film, over six decades later, achieve a similar feat in getting nominated for a Foreign Language Oscar. But we have to wonder if there’s a certain sentimentality at play there (Hollywood does love a self-referential story, after all) because there is little more to “Kon-Tiki” than a fun, handsomely-mounted, old-style adventure story. And as impressive a feat as that is to achieve, especially outside of Hollywood, which kind of specialises in this sort of thing, those looking for something with more depth from this category may come away a little disappointed.

Tribeca Review: ‘Stand Clear Of The Closing Doors’ Tackles Autism, Superstorm Sandy And Wins

  • By Diana Drumm
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  • April 23, 2013 10:01 AM
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  • 3 Comments
With this being Autism Awareness Month and communities still reeling from Superstorm Sandy, it’s tempting to dismiss “Stand Clear of the Closing Doors” as a convenient combination of buzzwords – I nearly did. But while watching the film, I quickly dismissed those preemptive assumptions and became entranced with this poignant portrait of a family and their struggles on the outskirts of Manhattan, reminding me again about what makes the Tribeca Film Festival so great –- the heart-felt storytelling that sneaks through the red carpet barricades and evokes a transcendent realism, be it documentary or narrative.

Tribeca Review: Feats Of Superhuman Strength, Filmmaking Of Uncommon Heart In 'Bending Steel'

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • April 22, 2013 5:04 PM
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  • 0 Comments
You're not likely to see a more inspiring documentary this year than "Bending Steel," the story of one Chris Schoeck, an unassuming New York gentleman with one secret passion. Schoeck is a curious character, an admitted introvert with a slight stutter whom you can tell had to be coaxed to be on camera. When he travels the subway system, bundled up for the cold weather or clad in a workout t-shirt, he's just another fellow on the train, with his casual Irish boyishness on a face that doesn't seem to smile easily. And then you see in his warehouse, standing over thick metal beams, and his gentle hands seize a steel beam. Suddenly, a bit of exertion, and it bends. He isn't Chris Schoeck. He's Chris "Wonder" Schoek.

Tribeca Review: 'A Case Of You' Is A Painfully Insipid Rom-Com For The Social Media Generation

  • By Rodrigo Perez
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  • April 22, 2013 4:03 PM
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  • 1 Comment
It was only a matter of time before someone tried to fully exploit our current social media communication age for the evils of the generic romantic comedy and "A Case Of You," a new Justin Long-led rom-com, does just that; abusing the Facebook platform to create the first creepy FB stalker comedy. Somehow, everything creepy and vile in this Kat Coiro-directed comedy ("L!fe Happens") is meant to seem comically cute and not the restraining-order freaky that it clearly is. Like all of these meretricious and morally-reprehensible culture-farts, it’s presented as harmless and adorable at heart, but as the central quintessentially dorky character becomes more and more fawning and subservient, the actors themselves seem border on queasiness.

Tribeca Review: 'Lil Bub & Friendz' Is Not The Catumentary You Thought It Would Be

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • April 22, 2013 1:05 PM
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  • 4 Comments
WHY IS THIS A THING, PEOPLE? Do you like cats? Stupid question, you're on the internet. We can see you've got a tab open with all sorts of cat videos and gifs. You told your friends you were sick of them sending Keyboard Cat videos to you, but you secretly weren't. You ironically bought one of those "Hang In There" posters with a kitty grasping at a tree. You wish some of your friends were cats, because instead of talking about sports or religion, they would just mew and yawn all the time. You love cats, and if you don't, you just haven't cuddled them enough. And this is not a time for judgment: cats are kind of awesome. So are dogs. No hate.

Tribeca Review: ‘Big Bad Wolves’ Is A Deeply Brilliant, Surprisingly Funny Israeli Revenge Thriller

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • April 22, 2013 11:04 AM
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  • 4 Comments
Big Bad Wolves
Back in 2009, “Let the Right One In,” a slick, deeply felt genre piece from a far away land, played the Tribeca Film Festival and blew almost everyone (this writer included) away. It’s hard not to think about “Let the Right One In” while watching “Big Bad Wolves,” a similarly slick foreign language thriller playing at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. It’s questionable whether or not “Big Bad Wolves” will receive the kind of attention “Let the Right One In” did (its subject matter is significantly stickier than two young vampires falling in love), but it’s every bit the triumph that film was – it’s bold, beautifully told, and surprisingly funny.

Tribeca Review: Neil LaBute Goes Back To Basics In Spartan, Scintillating 'Some Velvet Morning'

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • April 22, 2013 10:01 AM
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  • 1 Comment
When filmmakers find themselves in a rough place, they tend to dial back their productions, usually by necessity, but also as a refresher course in refueling the creative spirit. Playwright Neil LaBute has had a rough go of it in his last few big-screen adventures: "Lakeview Terrace" was a half-baked contemporary thriller clearly made to fill the personal coffers, though one could argue it reflected an intriguing take on contemporary race relations in suburban communities. And remaking "Death At A Funeral" nearly shot-for-shot was always going to be a thankless task. The fact that these two films followed the misunderstood-but-still-questionable "Wicker Man" remake seems to point to a creative force in decline, at least onscreen -- LaBute remains active in the world of shorts and stage, where his reputation has yet to be sullied.

Review & Recap: Khaleesi Fires It Up in 'Game Of Thrones' Season 3 Episode 4 'And Now His Watch Is Ended'

  • By Katie Walsh
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  • April 21, 2013 9:00 PM
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  • 6 Comments
Game Of Thrones - Daenerys Targaryen - Season 3
Hello again everyone. In light of this past week’s events, I have to just jump up on this soapbox for a hot minute, so please humor me. I think that it’s an unfortunate coincidence, but also a relevant one to consider, when last Sunday night we experienced the brutal amputation to close out “Game of Thrones,” and then on Monday afternoon were forced to grapple with the shocking reality of amputation in the wake of the tragic Boston Marathon bombing. The graphic images of the bombing’s aftermath shattered our screens, in Tumblr dashboards and Facebook newsfeeds, and offered a sobering reality to the images of gore we experienced the night before on HBO. I don’t condemn “Game of Thrones” for showing us violence and gore, because violence and gore confronts us on the news everyday. To relegate violence to a fantastical world of dragons and forests and 3-eyed ravens and magic can be a coping mechanism for an audience like us, who must reconcile horrific acts in our own world on a regular basis.

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