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The Playlist

Review: 3 Different Opinions On The Good & The Bad Of Quentin Tarantino's 'Django Unchained'

  • By The Playlist Staff
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  • December 12, 2012 12:06 AM
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  • 69 Comments
Films by Quentin Tarantino aren't exactly Halley's Comet, but for a while there, they didn't come as often as some filmgoers would have liked. And while the filmmaker seems to be back at his pace of delivering a film every two or three years, the arrival of a new Tarantino picture generally makes the cinema world sit up and take notice. And as always, opinions on his films vary wildly from film to film, from cinephile to cinephile.

Review: Adolescence, Love & Faith, Bond & Break Three Teenagers In Beautiful 'Only The Young'

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • December 7, 2012 9:58 AM
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  • 2 Comments
There is almost a Terrence Malick-like air of mystery around "Only The Young." The press notes don't reveal much except what you'll already know going into the movie: that it's about the lives of three teenagers in a Southern California town, that is named in the film, but that we forgot by time it came to write this review. And really, it doesn't matter. Like the aforementioned director, Jason Tippet and Elizabeth Mims are less concerned about providing a comprehensive narrative to their documentary (a term that can only be applied very loosely), and more focused on capturing a sensation and snapshot of a moment. They succeed with quiet authority, crafting a film at times lovely, melancholy, funny and always compelling.

Review: 'In Our Nature' An Exploration Of Discord & Dysfunction Backed By Strong Performances

  • By Todd Gilchrist
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  • December 7, 2012 8:00 AM
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  • 1 Comment
If it weren’t for dysfunctional relationships, independent films might never have any stories to tell. “In Our Nature” is the latest in a long line of small-scale films about children who don’t get along with their parents, and the terms both come to in the process of a shared experience that throws them together – in predictably unwitting fashion, of course. But solid performances from the central quartet of actors, including Zack Gilford, Jena Malone, John Slattery and Gabrielle Union elevate Brian Savelson’s debut as a writer and director despite its familiarity as not just a story but almost an entire cinematic subgenre.

Review: Bloated ‘Les Miserables’ Still Falls Short Despite Strong Performances, Anne Hathaway & Cinematic Grandeur

  • By Rodrigo Perez
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  • December 6, 2012 6:29 PM
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  • 41 Comments
This is why you can’t pay too much attention to the buzz and get all wrapped up in Twitter noise that all of sudden made everyone go, “Oscar frontrunner!” Early screenings of “Les Miserables” did provoke audiences to burst into applause after certain song performances and yes, many were in tears by the end of the film. And that’s because Tom Hooper’s “Les Miserables” has two incredible sequences (both of which audiences thundered over in our early screening), but the rest of the movie? Well, maybe not so much.

Review: 'Heleno' Puts Style Over Substance In Soccer Biopic That Doesn't Have Much Soccer In It

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • December 6, 2012 3:06 PM
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  • 0 Comments
The common criticism leveled at biopics is that they are rarely narratively challenging, with most following a standard template that sees the story move along episodically, ticking off the events in the character's life in a rote fashion. So some credit must be given to director José Henrique Fonseca and his four co-writers for defying convention with "Heleno," a biopic of 1940s Brazilian football star Heleno de Freitas. However, your enjoyment of the impressionistic rather then detail-oriented portrait of the player will largely depend on how much you know about him (or not) going into the film.

Review: 'In Vogue: The Editor's Eye' A Flip Through The Editorial History Of The Iconic Fashion Magazine

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • December 6, 2012 11:20 AM
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  • 0 Comments
It might be hard to believe, but 2012 marks the 120th birthday of Vogue magazine. When it first started, there were no photographs, just illustrations, and a focus on society women. When Condé Nast took over in 1909, things changed, with photography introduced and fashion becoming the focal point of the weekly. Of course, the publication eventually became a monthly, and riding the social tides and political changes, it has become the magazine we know today. And to commemorate the journey, directors Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato have put together "In Vogue: The Editor's Eye," a brief flip through the pages of the magazine's editorial history, particularly the women whose influence and determination not only allowed the magazine to stay relevant, but maintain its position at the forefront of its many competitors.

Marrakech ‘12 Review: Bahman Ghobadi’s ‘Rhino Season’ Makes Good On Neither The Politics Nor The Poetry Of Its Premise

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • December 5, 2012 7:00 PM
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  • 2 Comments
Having caused something of a stir with his roughshod, guerilla-style 2009 docudrama about the Iranian underground music scene “No One Knows About Persian Cats,” director Bahman Ghobadi appears to have done a stylistic 180 with his new movie “Rhino Season.” Inspired by the story of a Kurdish poet friend of the director’s, who was believed dead by his family while in fact he was incarcerated in an Iranian prison, the film attempts to marry a degree of political comment and social realism with self-consciously poetic and manipulated imagery. But a smooth filmic blend of these different textures is probably one of the hardest things to achieve and we’re sorry to say that for us, the experiment just didn’t work here; in fact the warring impulses rather undercut each other, leaving us none the wiser as to the real political and social stakes and vaguely irritated by the intrusive aesthetic.

Review: 'Lay The Favorite' A Comedy That's An Empty Bet

  • By John Lichman
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  • December 5, 2012 4:19 PM
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  • 0 Comments
“You can't blame Stephen Frears for trying” seems to be the mantra for "Lay the Favorite," a mild romp through the T&A world of Las Vegas, gambling and literary adaptation. After all, "High Fidelity" is an iconic film to obsessive nerds (Need proof? See: every listicle on the Internet) and Frears is no slouch to crafting strong and/or sexy female characters (Tamara Drew, Cherí, The Queen). But what happens when he tries to mash them up and form the unholy love child of a stat geek and a bubbly idiot savant who used to be a stripper?

Review: 'Hyde Park On Hudson' Is A Lightweight & Toothless Crowd-Pleaser

  • By Rodrigo Perez
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  • December 5, 2012 3:19 PM
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  • 1 Comment
At 61 years of age, the presumably hard-living Bill Murray conservatively only has two more decades of work left in him. So perhaps we all want him to really dazzle us with some meaty roles and not waste his time with middling fluff like Roger Michell's "Hyde Park on Hudson," a moderately pleasant but depthless picture that makes "The King's Speech" look like "A Clockwork Orange." OK, that's a purposeful exaggeration, but "Hyde Park on Hudson" is unremarkable; the type of would-be Oscar frivolity that makes sure it goes down the award season check list for every gentle and inoffensive cinematic element it can find.

Review: 'Deadfall' Starring Eric Bana & Olivia Wilde Is Trapped In A Blizzard of Coincidence & Two-Dimensional Characters

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • December 4, 2012 8:01 PM
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  • 4 Comments
"Deadfall" starts off strong enough – three criminals, led by Addison (Eric Bana) and his sexy sister Liza (Olivia Wilde) speed away from some unspecified job (it's later revealed to be a casino heist). It's icy out and their driver (the only black character in the whole movie) overcompensates, avoiding a deer, which sends their vehicle cartwheeling over a snowy embankment. As Addison and Liza climb out of the wrecked car they notice their very-dead driver, his head through the windshield. "He should have been wearing his safety belt," Bana grumbles, dripping a syrupy Southern accent on top of his natural Australian drawl.

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