The Playlist

Review: 'Fat Kid Rules The World' A Modestly Affecting Directorial Debut For Matthew Lillard

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • October 6, 2012 11:08 AM
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  • 0 Comments
Some actors-turned-directors jump out of the box fully-formed, fully utilizing a learned bag of tricks to properly convey their show business experience, to tell a story that burns inside of them. And some, lacking real vision, just want to take a shot at something new. It appears Matthew Lillard is among the latter group, as evidenced by his directorial debut “Fat Kid Rules The World.” Which isn’t bad, of course -- in adapting the source material of the same name, Lillard goes for clarity and humanity over artistry and esotericism. Modest as it may be, the film is not without its pleasures.

VIFF Review: Brazilian 'Neighbouring Sounds' Is A Film For People Watchers

  • By Erik McClanahan
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  • October 5, 2012 5:08 PM
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  • 1 Comment
We lovers of cinema are nosy little bastards. It is the medium for the voyeur. We like to watch, truly a “race of Peeping Toms” as “Rear Window” taught us. The Brazilian film “Neighbouring Sounds” is kinda like that Hitchcock masterpiece, in a way. It’s all about observing. It’s the audience and the camera that fills the James Stewart role here, and we’re not wheelchair bound, so we get to see more. Let there be no mistake, though, this is not a thriller or murder mystery. If it’s clear plot you hold dear, or clean and tidy resolution, then look elsewhere.

NYFF Review: 'Memories Look At Me' A Comforting, Modest Micro Indie

  • By Christopher Bell
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  • October 5, 2012 3:01 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Song Fang's "Memories Look At Me" is a tough one: while the filmmaker's debut is a lovely, pleasant experience, it's extremely difficult to make the movie sound at all appealing. A large percentage of it takes place in a single apartment, with each dialogue-heavy scene generally composed of a single static shot; the camera with a view of either someone's side or back, but rarely their front. There's no plot, arcs, narrative thrust, or anything of the kind. Party poopers will quickly decry that "nothing happens" and, honestly, they wouldn't be wrong. But mysteriously, the intensely slice-of-life 'Memories' works, and its comforting nature and attention to real moments make for an especially soothing experience.

NYFF Review: Rock 'N' Roll Dreams Are Fleeting & Familiar In David Chase's Uneven 'Not Fade Away'

  • By Rodrigo Perez
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  • October 5, 2012 2:04 PM
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  • 5 Comments
For a film that’s ostensibly set to the vibrant pulse of early ‘60s rock 'n' roll and blues -- The Rolling Stones, the early Beatles, Bo Diddley, etc. -- David Chase’s directorial debut, “Not Fade Away,” sure has a curious, circuitous and eventually long-winded tempo. Set in 1964, just a few months after the Kennedy assassination with Vietnam, the Civil Rights movement and the sexual revolution in the air, “The Sopranos” creator’s ambitions are decidedly simpler and much more small scale.

Review: 'Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You' Proves Its Title Wrong

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • October 5, 2012 2:04 PM
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  • 3 Comments
The displeasure one feels in watching, or simply enduring, the indie dramedy "Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You" is directly proportional to how throughly selfish and unsympathetic the lead character James truly is. When we're first introduced to the misanthrope, he's on the roof of his home in New York City with the family dog, whom he ties to a steam pipe, only to have it watch, obviously concerned, as he contemplates dropping himself to his death into the street below. And then toward the end of the film, when he comes across the dead body of a relative (oh, spoiler? -- there will be more, and believe us, you don't want to watch this movie), instead of trying to find help or alert someone, he calmly sits down and opens up the birthday present he was going to receive from them. These are the heights of his self-involvement, and everything in between isn't much better.
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Review: James Bond Doc ‘Everything Or Nothing’ Is A Fascinating, In-Depth Look At The Ups & Downs Of The Iconic Super-Spy

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • October 5, 2012 1:00 PM
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  • 0 Comments
This year James Bond, the dapper British super-spy with a taste for violence and sex, turns 50, and in celebration of this momentous achievement a new deluxe Blu-ray box set is being released, a new film premieres in theaters this fall (“Skyfall” from “American Beauty” director Sam Mendes) and a new documentary, “Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007,” debuts on the Epix channel. Fifty years of thorny history snappily condensed into less than two hours is a challenge worthy of James Bond himself, but miraculously the filmmakers (including director Stevan Riley), have done the impossible. The result is a story full of just as much intrigue, suspense, and heartache as in your typical spy yarn. The difference is: this all really happened.

Review: 'Escape Fire' Paints A Portrait Of A Broken System & A Hopeful, Humanist Solution

  • By Katie Walsh
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  • October 5, 2012 9:58 AM
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  • 0 Comments
"Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare" opens with an anecdotal analogy that initially seems kind of out of place in a documentary about health care systems. Dr. Don Berwick relates how a firefighter, while combatting an out of control forest fire, chose to set a fire around him in order to burn up the fuel and wait out rampaging flames to escape unscathed. Quickly though, the film, directed by documentarians Matthew Heineman and Susan Froemke, establishes that the forest fire our nation currently faces is our inefficient, money-gobbling health care system, and the best idea might just be to torch the whole thing to the ground. This thesis is quickly laid out with a sense of extreme urgency in a title sequence that juxtaposes talking heads, statistics, news reports and footage of patients in hospitals in order to get us all on the same page: this health care system we’re working with ain’t cutting it.

Review: 'Taken 2' Promises The Same Plate, Less Flavor, Smaller Servings

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • October 4, 2012 7:00 PM
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  • 3 Comments
There’s diminishing returns, and then there’s “Taken 2,” the next, and probably last installment of the “Taken” franchise. Of course, it’s a piece of a whole, only the latest in the body of work from producer Luc Besson (again sharing screenwriting duties with Robert Mark Kamen). But Besson’s intriguing late-career activity as a producer of savvy action trash reaches it’s nadir in this monotone punch-fest that is tirelessly rote in it’s stubborn desire to refuse any sense of ingenuity.

Review: 'V/H/S' A Solidly Delivered Horror Anthology That Brings The Thrills

  • By William Goss
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  • October 4, 2012 6:04 PM
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  • 1 Comment
When compared to the pristine picture quality of Blu-ray, the VHS format is a decrepit, grungy thing, so how better to make an anthology of grimy spook stories than to embrace that aesthetic all-around, as "V/H/S" does? Made up of six found-footage style segments – few of which actually attempt to replicate the look of old tape, but all of which have their distinct variations in interference and texture – it’s a film consumed with bad deeds recorded and recovered, helmed by a who’s-who of current genre mavens and delivered with a good sense of playfulness around concepts and conceits generally exploited to lure in the gullible masses for the sake of a single opening weekend.
More: V/H/S, Review

Review: 'Butter' Tries To Carve Up Edgy Laughs But Goes Soft By The End

  • By James Rocchi
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  • October 4, 2012 5:00 PM
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  • 1 Comment
A political satire set in the competitive world of butter-carving at the Iowa State Fair, the script for "Butter" was so ballyhooed and praised that it wound up on The Black List, the annual underground buzz list of unproduced screenplays based on a straw poll of agents, development executives and insiders. (As a side note, we must say that The Black List is only interesting as a barometer of quality insofar as you trust agents, development executives and insiders to be able to tell good from bad, which much of Hollywood's output suggests is not actually the case.)

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