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The Playlist

Review: 'Evil Dead' Is A Grim, Humorless, Ultraviolent Update Of A Horror Classic

  • By Cory Everett
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  • April 4, 2013 6:56 PM
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  • 2 Comments
When the "Evil Dead" remake was first announced, everyone pretty much assumed that it was going to suck. This was something that star/producer Bruce Campbell acknowledged during the Q&A at the film's SXSW World Premiere last month. But after years of being assaulted with fan questions about a fourth installment, the trio behind the original (Campbell, writer/director Sam Raimi and producer Robert Tapert) probably felt it was their duty to give the fans what they wanted. And since they perhaps felt they were getting a little old for another go-round themselves – it's been 20 years since the third and previously final installment "Army Of Darkness" – a remake/reboot/"rebirth" must have seemed really the only way to go.

Review: 'Thale' Is A Half-Finished Spooky Fairy Tale

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • April 4, 2013 5:59 PM
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  • 0 Comments
There’s usually a handshake agreement made by audiences with genre filmmakers eager to make an impression: If your first act is fantastical, intriguing and mysterious, then don’t botch it with an overly technical, low-imagination third act explanation. This sort of misstep has dogged big budget mishaps like “Prometheus” and even smaller, lovelier films like Neil Jordan’s almost-but-not-quite “Ondine,” and it manifests itself again in the meme-worthy Norwegian chiller “Thale.”
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Review: Robert Redford's 'The Company You Keep' Is An Unconvincing Bit Of Agitprop

  • By Simon Abrams
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  • April 4, 2013 4:58 PM
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  • 1 Comment
The third film in Robert Redford’s recent series of stillborn, bleeding heart dramas, "The Company You Keep" is a busy but inert civic-minded thriller. As a director, Redford has yet to break his recent habit of using hackneyed dialogue to talk down to his audience with Aaron Sorkin-esque dialogue that authoritatively spells out his talking points. But unlike "Lions for Lambs," an impressively incensed civics lesson that thinks it’s a drama, "The Company You Keep" is too cool of a film to be admired for its creator’s chutzpah alone. In fact, it’s probably the most frustrating of Redford’s recent films because it has a pseudo-contemplative atmosphere to it, one that superficially begs viewers to reflect upon how far they would go for their convictions. Political apathy is the real enemy in "The Company You Keep," making it pitiably ironic that Redford’s latest is as unmoving as it is.

Review: 'Bert Stern: Original Mad Man' Keeps Its Subject In Fuzzy Focus

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • April 3, 2013 5:57 PM
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  • 0 Comments
We've seen an explosion in fashion world documentaries over the past years with "The September Issue," "Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has To Travel," "Bill Cunningham New York," "In Vogue: The Editor's Eye" and so much more all casting various perspectives on an industry that has seen haute couture fall right into the mainstream. But fashion photography and even contemporary advertising wouldn't be the same without the contributions of Bert Stern, and its the central premise of "Bert Stern: The Original Mad Man." And while the now 83 year-old undoubtedly has his own insights and perceptions on where fashion has gone and where it is going, as he says in the documentary, he's reached a "dead end" and needs "something to do," and that feeling of listlessness pervades director Shannah Laumeister's effort despite her best intentions.
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Review: 'Eddie: The Sleepwalking Cannibal' An Enjoyable If Somewhat Slight Horror-Comedy

  • By Christopher Bell
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  • April 2, 2013 8:01 PM
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  • 0 Comments
A blunt, no-nonsense title like "Eddie: The Sleepwalking Cannibal" perfectly describes the type of movie you're going to encounter when viewing Boris Rodriguez's first narrative feature -- a weird, darkly comic tale offering little more than an enjoyable experience. While 'Eddie' could've tried a little harder to make its content more memorable, it still provides enough laughs and thrills to make for a pleasant watch.
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Review: 'Free Angela & All Political Prisoners' A Fascinating Chronicle Of Justice & Strength

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • April 2, 2013 7:03 PM
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  • 0 Comments
"Black power means dignity," is a phrase that lingers from Shola Lynch's documentary about activist and scholar Angela Davis. And dignity is just one of the many qualities that one can attach to Davis, a bold and powerful figure whose own battle for justice and freedom is chronicled in "Free Angela & All Political Prisoners." A fascinating slice out of a turbulent time in an American history, this detailed doc is a compelling portrait of a legal case that found activism, politics, freedom of speech and more all dovetailing together into an event that not only captured the attention of the nation, but of people worldwide.
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Review: 'Down The Shore' With James Gandolfini & Famke Janssen An Overheated Jersey Melodrama

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • April 2, 2013 6:00 PM
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  • 3 Comments
What is it about Jersey that causes filmmakers to make films which constantly talk about escaping from or dreading a return to the Garden State? If I didn’t just answer my own question, there’s always “Down The Shore,” an actors' showcase melodrama that captures the small town as a prison where characters are doomed to serve penance for sins of the past. The tourism board really needs to do something about this trend.

Review: Omar Rodriguez Lopez's 'Los Chidos' Is Wild, Wacky, Weird, Bloody & Bold

  • By Katie Walsh
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  • March 30, 2013 10:00 AM
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  • 1 Comment
Not everyone is going to be ready for the ride through "Los Chidos" that director Omar Rodriguez Lopez offers up. But his willingness to scare off a few of the faint of heart preserves his commitment to a truly bold and unique vision and an aesthetic all his own. This is the fifth feature film from the Mars Volta guitarist and only the second to play at a festival, and it’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen. Could this be the birth of a new auteur?

Review: 'City Baby' A Modest, Well-Made Portrait Of A Womanchild Trapped In Portland

  • By Mark Zhuravsky
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  • March 30, 2013 9:05 AM
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  • 0 Comments
David F. Morgan's "City Baby" is a modest character study of Cloey (Cora Benesh, who also co-wrote the screenplay), an aspiring...something, boldly going nowhere. With her father (Daniel Baldwin) footing the bills without question, Cloey is free to pursue her relationship with aging rockstar-wannabe Jesse (Andrew Harris) as she perpetually despairs over her life in Portland. When a blown audition call leads to a meet-cute with Michael (Richard Keith), a considerably more on-point ad exec, Cloey juggles competing feelings while attempting to come into her own as a twenty-something layabout. Yes, it's a story that's been told half to death in the last decade or so, but Morgan never lets it get too portentous and Benesh leads a strong cast while turning in a strong performance that's only somewhat undone by an tidy ending that feels out of step with the rest of the film.
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Review: 'Blancanieves' Doesn't Necessarily Transcend Silent Film Gimmick, But Still Proves To Be A Rewarding Fable

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • March 29, 2013 2:09 PM
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  • 1 Comment
Fetishize the past all you want. The silent era gave way to a flood of cinematic storytellers ranking well amongst the greats. You didn’t need sound to realize a filmmaker like Fritz Lang was stretching the medium so far that it would take a couple of decades of talkies for anyone to match his vision. Similarly, the early silent works of Alfred Hitchcock belie a startling vision and knack for experimentation not commonly associated with filmmaking at the time. There’s a reason we think back to the silent classics of yesterday: some of those film are absolutely phenomenal, still enthralling today for the film buff with a bit of patience (a small percentage of the populace, but whatever), and still transformative, capturing the imagination in ways some contemporary THX-scored noisemakers fail to do.

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