The Playlist

Review: 'Hotel Noir' Is An Earnest Stylistic Exercise That Only Occasionally Slips Too Far Into Pastiche

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • October 12, 2012 8:02 AM
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  • 1 Comment
Any kind of hardboiled film noir confection, released in 2012 with a straight face, is going to be something of a put on. Especially if its filmed digitally, which robs black-and-white (the favored presentation of film noir) of its velveteen lushness, instead replacing it with a flat, artificial haze. Still, "Hotel Noir," the latest film from writer/director Sebastian Gutierrez (who is also Carla Gugino's boyfriend, which might be his mightiest accomplishment), is a surprisingly effective, enjoyable romp. It's pretty earnest (almost too earnest) attempt at a straightforward film noir, with minor, wink-wink-nudge-nudge deviations and an impressively game cast. If given the opportunity, it might not be a bad idea to check into "Hotel Noir."

Review: Straight-To-DVD 'The Courier' Hopes You Like Your 'Transporter' Glum, Boring & Cheap

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • October 11, 2012 9:59 PM
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  • 3 Comments
Justice has a new face! And that face is sleepy! The appeal of actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan seems to lie in the suggestion that he’s giving his performance right after he just woke from a nap. This makes him the perfect leading man for “The Courier,” a new action thriller hitting DVD this week. Directed by Hany Abu-Assad, who last helmed the Oscar nominated “Paradise Now,” “The Courier” almost seems embarrassed by its content, acting like a slow-moving character study that just happens to have ludicrous gunfights, preposterous code names, and a perverse downbeat ending.

NYFF Review: 'Leviathan' An Otherworldly Peek At A Life At Sea

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • October 11, 2012 8:59 PM
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  • 1 Comment
Every sound in “Leviathan” is a shuddering staccato. Every visual wears darkness like a cloak. With absolutely no context, there’s no awareness of what’s up or down. When it is promoted, the ads will suggest “Leviathan” is a documentary, and a scan of the press notes will reveal exactly where the film is set, and what’s taking place onscreen. But those peripheral elements are not the text, they are distraction. The experience of “Leviathan” is wholly singular, without context, enveloping and immersive. In some ways, it might very well be the most terrifying picture of the year.

Review: 'Split: A Deeper Divide' Reduces Abstract Topic To Impartial Talking Heads

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • October 11, 2012 8:01 PM
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  • 3 Comments
“Split: A Deeper Divide” is a new doc that attempts to take us deep into the cultural divide that exists today and explain where it came from. It’s not necessarily director Kelly Nyks’ fault that, while he attempts to plunge into this crevice like a moonshine-poisoned, wetsuit-clad James Cameron, he’s really just examining fault lines through binoculars. It’s an audaciously broad topic, and at less than eighty minutes, you wonder what exactly “Split” gives us that we haven’t received from countless other political documentaries.

NYFF Review: 'Outrage Beyond' Is Pure Unfiltered Takeshi Kitano

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • October 11, 2012 7:04 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Suckas better recognize, because Takeshi Kitano is back, and he ain’t suffering no fools. “Outrage Beyond” is the most violent and brutal of Kitano’s body of work yet, and considering the writer-director-star is known for his shocking, graphic Yakuza dramas, that’s something worth noting. As back-to-basics as “Outrage” seemed, coming after a string of quieter, more experimental fare from the filmmaker that never even reached American shores, “Outrage Beyond” takes the standard gangster movie template and blasts it out of the water. Yet, for all it’s violence, “Outrage Beyond” is unmistakably a work of the master himself, feeling like a more contemporary chapter of the book Kitano’s been writing for a long time, in a similar manner as Martin Scorsese tackling “The Departed.”

Review: Mary Elizabeth Winstead & Aaron Paul Hit the Bottle, And It Hits Back, In Strong, Stirring 'Smashed'

  • By James Rocchi
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  • October 11, 2012 5:59 PM
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  • 0 Comments
There is a sub-canon of films about alcohol as deep and as dark as a barrel of bourbon, from "Lost Weekend" to "Days of Wine and Roses" to "Trees Lounge." "Smashed" casts Aaron Paul and Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Charlie and Kate, a married couple in L.A. whose love is strong, full and, more to the point, well-saturated. Charlie and Kate like to drink, and it shows; Kate's mortified to have a hung-over vomiting fit while teaching, apologizing to her 1st graders and answering, falsely, yes when her kids ask if she's pregnant. When Kate is busted by her vice-Principal Mr. Davies (Nick Offerman, in a performance that in a just world would be an Oscar contender), she confesses her lies and he simply notes "That's… not good."

Review: Ben Affleck's '70s-Flavored 'Argo' Is A Terrifically Suspenseful & Entertaining Thriller

  • By Rodrigo Perez
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  • October 11, 2012 5:07 PM
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  • 5 Comments
Ben Affleck's third feature-length film, the terrifically suspenseful dramatic thriller "Argo," is the second picture to use Warner Bros.' 1970s logo in 2012. And like "Magic Mike," the Soderbergh film that employed the same logo earlier this year, it's an augur of what's to come, announcing a tone, mood and millieu that is imported straight from that era. Sporting a love for movies on his sleeve, Affleck's film gives nods to the smart, entertaining and engaging thrillers from the '70s -- "All the President's Men," "Three Days of the Condor," et al. -- and playfully with B-movie science-fiction pictures of the era without ever trying to lean too hard into any specific homage.

Review: 'Here Comes The Boom' Is Like A More Violent, Less Funny Version of 'The Fighter'

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • October 11, 2012 2:29 PM
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  • 1 Comment
Kevin James is one of those actors who is so featureless and bland that he makes Tom Hanks seem, in comparison, positively exotic. With his doughy figure, dad-next-door face, and line delivery that suggests he's getting ready for the next big football game instead of commanding movies that cost tens of millions of dollars, he is so bereft of personality that you sense that he might just waft off the screen. Usually, though, he's nestled inside a Russian doll of higher caliber comedic talent, whether it's Will Smith in "Hitch" or Adam Sandler and his posse in a whole host of movies (including "Grown Ups" and "The Zookeeper"). Teaming him up with someone usually makes his bumbling everyman shtick slightly more palatable.

Review: 'Gayby' Is A Slightly Amusing Little Comedy About...You Guessed It, Babymaking With Your Best Gay

  • By Katie Walsh
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  • October 10, 2012 8:34 PM
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  • 0 Comments
You have one chance to figure out what “Gayby” is about. If you said “gay baby,” ding ding ding, you got it! Or maybe it should be “baby with a gay,” but at any rate, “Gayby” treads the familiar narrative path of the contentious relationship between the single woman and her biological clock. Much like Madonna and Rupert Everett in “The Next Best Thing,” college buds Jenn and Matt (Jennifer Harris and Matthew Wilkas, real life college buds -- check out their snapshots in the title sequence) decide to make a go of this whole babymaking business (yes, the old fashioned way).
More: Review, Gayby

Review: Celebrity, Notoriety & Living In Public As 'Frankie Go Boom'

  • By James Rocchi
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  • October 10, 2012 7:34 PM
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  • 0 Comments
'Frankie Go Boom' opens with a home video from a long-ago washed-out suburban childhood, as Bruce tricks his brother Frankie into a pitfall prank that's both caught on tape and a trap for the two of them; flashing forward to adulthood -- or something like it -- Frankie (Charlie Hunnam) has exiled himself from everything, holing up in Death Valley to write. And Bruce (Chris O'Dowd, with a solidly American accent) is just getting out of rehab, convinced that the "films" he makes -- really, just footage -- of disasters like the one that befell Frankie's wedding three years ago, mean he's a director, what with their huge online "hit" numbers…

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