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The Playlist

Sundance Review: Silly & Cartoonish 'Stoker' Is A Garish Misfire For Park Chan-Wook

  • By Rodrigo Perez
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  • January 21, 2013 5:05 AM
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  • 57 Comments
One could argue there's nothing subtle about the movies made by South Korean filmmaker Park Chan-wook, the director behind "Oldboy," including the celebrated Vengeance Trilogy and the loopy vampire movie, "Thirst." Violence reigns in his films, cameras pirouette like self-conscious characters in his ensemble, and style is king. But in the past, especially in "Oldboy" and "Sympathy For Lady Vengeance," his penchant for the outrageous and over-the-top always included sublime, comically brutal and sometimes even emotionally devastating conclusions that could leave the jaw agape. Style was always in service of a story and characters.

Sundance Review: The Searing 'Ain't Them Bodies Saints' Burns With Intense & Visceral Portent

  • By Rodrigo Perez
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  • January 20, 2013 11:50 PM
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  • 13 Comments
Set in 1970s Texas, but stationed inside an authentic milieu that feels timeless and classic, David Lowery's second feature-length effort, "Ain't Them Bodies Saints," is the culmination of a filmmaker who has put in over a decade of work in the trenches as an editor, cinematographer, writer, electrical department hand and more (fun fact: he's also the editor of Shane Carruth's "Upstream Color"). The jack of all trades is not only fluent in several languages within the vocabulary of this medium, he clearly has an innate understanding of each. Lowery is the real deal and understands filmmaking, and this is abundantly clear in this searing, romantic crime drama and love story.

Sundance Review: 'The East' Is A Divisive, But Stylish Thriller & Worthy Companion Piece To 'Sound Of My Voice'

  • By Cory Everett
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  • January 20, 2013 10:25 PM
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  • 2 Comments
The first images in "The East" – the new thriller from Zal Batmanglij and Brit Marling, the team who made last year's underrated cult thriller "Sound Of My Voice" – are grainy footage of intruders breaking into someone's home juxtaposed with images of seagulls covered in oil. We are told through voiceover that this is the home of a CEO whose company was responsible for dumping millions of gallons of oil into the ocean.

Sundance Review: Lynn Shelton's 'Touchy Feely' Flirts With Greatness, But Proves Too Listless & Frustrating

  • By Rodrigo Perez
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  • January 20, 2013 9:10 PM
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  • 0 Comments
There's a strange and opaque energy coursing through the veins of Lynn Shelton's languid fifth feature-length effort, "Touchy Feely." It's a little mysterious, to the film’s moody credit, and it’s a little unavailable and removed, to its detriment. Lead actress Rosemarie DeWitt admitted, "I didn't really understand the character when I read the script," in the post Sundance Q&A. "But then I told her I didn't understand her either," Shelton explained. And not only does this sentiment ring true, it’s this mild inscrutableness that muddies this often compelling, occasionally sublime, but ultimately uneven family drama about energy, connections (missed or otherwise) and healing.

Sundance Review: ‘Escape From Tomorrow’ Takes Viewers On A Mind-Melting Vacation from Hell

  • By William Goss
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  • January 20, 2013 5:45 PM
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  • 0 Comments
We’re not sure why writer/director Randy Moore decided to come swinging out the gate with a first feature like “Escape from Tomorrow,” and frankly, we’re not entirely sure how he got away with even making it in the first place. Much of this dark, utterly bizarre comedy would appear to be covertly shot on the property of Orlando’s Walt Disney World, and despite Moore’s strident avoidance of the dreaded D-word, there’s little doubting that the Mouse House and all it represents is in his sights.

Sundance Preview: Jane Campion’s ‘Top Of The Lake’ Feels Like ‘The Killing’ Only With Haunting, Lasting Sustain

  • By Rodrigo Perez
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  • January 20, 2013 5:00 PM
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  • 4 Comments
Moody, without being oppressively dark or atmospheric, compelling and mysterious, Jane Campion's seven-part Sundance Channel series, "Top Of The Lake" – based on two episodes thus far – is an intriguing crime drama and mystery that's got this writer hooked.

Sundance Review: 'Crystal Fairy' Is A Hilarious Drug-Fueled Road Movie & A Welcome Return For Michael Cera

  • By Cory Everett
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  • January 20, 2013 2:07 PM
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  • 1 Comment
"Guess if Michael Cera's dead, it's not a total loss right?" Danny McBride says in probably the funniest moment in the teaser for “This Is The End,” a new apocalyptic comedy starring Cera and McBride along with an all-star roster of mostly Apatow-bred comedians all playing distorted versions of themselves. Though nobody actually wants to see Cera dead, McBride’s sentiment nevertheless registers with a large section of the public who decided a few years ago that they’d had enough of Cera.

Sundance Review: Michael Winterbottom's Swinging 'The Look Of Love' Fails To Titillate With Shallow, Empty Story

  • By Rodrigo Perez
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  • January 20, 2013 1:40 PM
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  • 1 Comment
While stylishly capturing the verve, exotica, and free-spirited mojo of swinging '60s London, uber-prolific English director Michael Winterbottom's portrait of legendary U.K. smut impresario Paul Raymond is otherwise a shallow misfire.

Sundance Review: 'S-VHS' Is An Uneven, Occasionally Thrilling Sequel To The Horror Anthology

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • January 20, 2013 10:30 AM
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  • 3 Comments
Last year, the indie horror anthology "V/H/S" was released and promised to be chock full of truly in-your-face terror – these were fearless directors, given complete creative freedom, and squeezed together under a tight, blood-soaked package. Of course, the promise of "V/H/S" and the actual movie itself were quite different, and while there were certainly some gems (including entries by Ti West and Joe Swanberg that blurred the line between mumblecore and horror even further), most of them were overlong and uninvolving and (worse yet) reinforced some of the worst traits in the horror genre, including an undercurrent of ugly misogyny that was knotted through almost every section.

Sundance Review: Felicity Jones & Guy Pearce Are Tremendous In The Flawed But Beautiful 'Breathe In'

  • By Rodrigo Perez
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  • January 20, 2013 9:00 AM
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  • 5 Comments
Intimate, expressive, agonizing and beautifully rendered, director Drake Doremus' third feature-length effort, "Breathe In," will be familiar to those that know the indie filmmaker's small, but already distinctive oeuvre. While similar in tone and style, his latest effort is like the darker cousin to Dormeus' wistful relationship drama "Like Crazy," possessing an intensity and tension that's emotionally bruising.

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